The Pegasus comms crackled to life, and Quibble’s voice sounded urgent. “On your mark, Captain.”
James surveyed the radar and read the scouting vessel’s reports. He allowed Quibble to use the comms freely during the impending battle. “We wait a little bit more,” James said, his voice low and serious. “Let them fight each other. As long as the Earth and the ISS are in danger, we wait.”
His eyes darted across the screen as he searched for any new developments. The tension in the air was palpable, and James couldn’t help but worry about the safety of the Earth and the ISS. He knew that they had to be patient and wait for the right moment to strike.
“Aye, aye, Captain,” Quibble responded, his voice crisp and professional. “I am going to get closer to the Earth. I doubt they will notice me as they are busy fighting each other.”
James nodded in agreement. “Go ahead.”
Quibble piloted the scouting ship with ease, and it zipped towards the Earth. James watched with bated breath as the ship drew closer and closer to their home planet. The blue and green hues of the Earth’s surface filled the screen, and James couldn’t help but marvel at its beauty.
As the ship approached, James noticed Kraz’ox reinforcements that were coming in from their nearby sectors. They positioned at least a dozen of them around the new International Space Station, their new command center for this system. Some of his anxiety was washed away knowing the fact that Kraz’ox would defend Earth and the ISS as if it was their own due to their own people being there.
He tore his gaze away from the screen and looked around the bridge of the ship. The walls were lined with computer consoles, and only the swift movements of the crew could be heard. James could see the determination etched on his crew’s faces as they waited for his command.
“Steady on,” James said, his voice echoing through the ship. “We wait for the right moment.
“Meng, what is the word?” Lieutenant William Grant crackled through the device.
“We are still waiting for more instructions from Pegasus,” Meng said. “They said they brought backup and are ready to fight both of them.”
“Keep me posted,” Lieutenant William Grant said.
“Of course sir,” Meng said and cut the call. Meng had said some of his crew to spy on the Kraz’ox that were occupied with the battle. As he awaited reports his device buzzed again. He was about to get frustrated with another call when he saw an unknown id that said, the savior of the human race.
Meng accepted the call. “Who is this? How did you reach me on this encrypted device?”
“Easy peasy,” an unkown voice said. “Your encryptions are child’s play for me.” The voice said laughing. “This is God calling, I am here to help.”
“I don’t have ti-” Meng began saying but the unknown caller cut him off.
“Oh my, easy there. You humans are so tense under pressure,” The voice said. “I am the mighty AI that Captain James found on their mission. He says hi. We are here to help you liberate yourselves from these pests.”
“An AI? What?” Meng was beyond confused in this mess of a day.
“Yes, yes Mr. Meng,” Quibble said. “Captain James found me and we made a deal, I will help him liberate earth and he will help me with my thing. I am bringing several ships and a lot of drones.”
“So, what’s the plan?” Meng asked still unsure if this was some kind of trick.
“Captain James is waiting for the right moment, he wants them to waste each other first before we jump in,” Quibble said. “I am here to keep an eye on things. Well, I am both here and there, I that good.”
“Makes sense,” Meng said. “What can I do to help?”
“Do you have any additional information we could use?”
“I sent some of my crew to spy on Kraz’ox. I am still waiting on those.” Meng said.
“As soon as you get them, forward them to me,” Quibble said. “I am going to continue circling around.”
Meng took a deep breath trying to calm himself and got up from his seat to go investigate some on his own.
“Anything new?” Captain James asked.
“Same as when you asked 20 seconds ago,” Quibble said annoyingly. “They are fighting each other, earth and the ISS are safe for now.”
“Any news from Meng?” James asked.
“No,” I am still waiting Quibble said. “Wait, he is calling me.” Quibble hummed for some reason over the comms for everyone to hear, a tune familiar to James but he couldn’t place where he knew it from.
“Good news and bad news,” Quibble continued. “Which one do you want first?”
“Just tell us,” James said frustration building in his voice. “What is wrong with you?”
“Oh my, relax Captain.” Quibble knew James hated when they told him to relax, so he had to do it. “Good news is, all of the humans are safe and they have no idea we are here.”
“What’s the bad news,” James asked before Quibble could continue.
“Bad news is, Kraz’ox will get back up soon,” Quibble said. “Two big armadas are nearby, one will arrive in three to four hours, the other one within the next ten hours.”
“That’s not good,” James said pondering his next step. “I think we should act now.”
“About damn time Captain,” Quibble said imitating the sound of crackling fingers.
“Is everyone ready,” James asked and confirmation came from everyone almost instantly. “Quibble takes us in,” James said proudly, and the AI engaged the hyperdrive.
Pegasus appeared close to the earth, but on the other side of the conflict. James quickly looked over the radar and gouged their situation. He noticed a small skirmish of three Kraz’ox destroyers and their smaller ships, battling Anoi Cruiser and two Destroyers near them.
“Seeing what I am seeing Captin?” Quibble asked.
“Yep,” James said. “That’s where we announce ourselves. Everyone get ready” James paused for a second and took a deep breath. “Go, Quibble has the command now, listen to him, I will overrule him if he tries anything stupid.”
“Nice trust there Captain,” Quible said mockingly. “Everyone, we had practiced this, I am doing most of the heavy lifting here, just follow my instructions and we will run through them with ease,” Quibble said trying to sound motivational. “On my mark, three, two, one, go.”
Pegasus shook as Quibble drove it full speed toward the small skirmish. James watched in awe as Quible fired up a swarm of his drones and rushed them at the Anoi cruiser. The AI positioned Elipse far back as a heavy support, he didn’t want to jeperdisy it in a small squirmish, Destroyer Nova and Peagasus went straight ahed at the enemy, wihle two smaller attack ships Thunderbolt and Vindicator were flanking the enemies from both sides with the sawm of drones.
It was visible that both the Anoi and Kraz’ox were surprised by the sudden appearance of Peagasus and four unknown ships. They ceased fire for a second and before they could react Quibble’s drones started barraging the Anoi ships. Kraz’ox noticed that and took what they thought was an unexpected ally to start fighting the Anoi again.
Anoi ships took defensive formation and started firing at Quibble’s drones and two attack vessels, but Quibble’s piloting was immaculate. Not a single drone was lost before he managed to disable both all of the Anoi ships. They made a deal, if it’s possible Quibble would go for the enemy’s drive and weapons to disable the ships and would only turn to full destruction as a last resort.
As both of the Anoi ships were immobilized James felt a wave of reassurance that this crazy plan could actually work.
“Captain, the Kraz’oxs are hailing us,” Troy said looking over from his chair next to James. Troy was appointed as XO in the absence of Chloe and Eric who Quibble put on the Nova for the battle.
“Put them through,” James said.
“Do you want me to talk to them?” Quibble joined in the conversation.
“No, I’ll handle this you focus on the fighting,” James said. “You take us into the main battle,” James said to Quibble. “Troy, open the comms toward the Kraz’ox,”
“Yes, Captain!” She said and pressed a few buttons in front of her.
An unfamiliar voice echoed through the bridge. “This is Kraz’ox cruiser ship, Admiral Treoiuox speaking, please identify yourselves!”
James cleared his throat before answering. “This is Captain James Barnes of the first human interstellar ship Pegasus I!” James made a short pause. “We are here to help clear the Anoi thread and then we will talk further,” James said with a confident voice.
“First human ship?” Confusion could be heard in Admiral Treoiuox’s voice. “Where did you get one and what are those other ships, we don’t have them in our database?” Admiral asked.
“No time to explain now,” James said. “We need to use the advantage of surprise we have, continue fighting the enemy all the same, and we will take care of the business,” James said and cut off the comms.
“That was… so cool of you Captain,” Quibble said half-jokingly. “We will engage in the main battle in less than a minute, everyone get ready to follow my command if necessary,” Quibble said and reorganized ships into a new formation not letting Anoi get any tactical advantage from the previous skirmish.
Quibble easily weaved in and out of the enemy fire, using the five bigger ships only as a cover for the drones. One by one the Anoi ships were destroyed or incapacitated and left floating in space. A few of the remaining Anoi ships started to full-back down and initiate hyper-jump away from the Solar System and the Quibble allowed them to do so, he wanted survivors to tell the story of what happened here today to the rest of their civilization.
With the Anoi threat gone, they were left to deal with the original enemy, the Kraz’ox. “Any ideas what to do next, Captain? Start fighting right away or?” Quibble asked, his voice betraying a hint of excitement.
James furrowed his brow, deep in thought. “Let’s try to talk with the first and see how they react,” he said, trying to sound as confident as possible. He turned to Troy. “Open the comms back towards Admiral Treoiuox and the Kraz’ox cruiser.”
Troy nodded, his fingers dancing across the console. “Comms are open, Captain.”
“Admiral, this is Captain James speaking,” James said, his voice echoing through the bridge. “We have helped you clear the Anoi threat and we would like to speak peacefully on where to proceed from here. Please disarm your ships, and we will do the same.”
The bridge fell silent as they waited for a response. A tense minute passed before a crackling voice filled the air.
“Pegasus battleship, this is Admiral Treoiuox speaking,” the voice said, deep and commanding. “I have the authority to speak with you openly. We would like you to power off your ships and allow us to board you.”
A wave of anxiety washed over James at the request. “Once that is done we can talk freely,” the Admiral added.
James hesitated, unsure of what to do, before he could think of an answer Quibble joined the conversation but made himself muted towards the Kraz’ox. “I don’t think we should allow them to do that,” Quibble said. “We have the upper hand, tell them to leave Earth or power their ships down, if they refuse we fight,” Quibble continued.
“I am afraid I have to agree with Quibble,” James said and the rest of the crew nodded knowing well what it meant. James waited for a moment before speaking to Admiral again. “Admiral Treoiuox I am afraid we can not do that. We are here to liberate the earth and we have two options. You can power off and disarm your ships and we can talk about some sort of a plan for your departure from the Solar System and resolve this peacefully or we can fight and you can suffer the same faith as the Anoi.” James said trying to sound unsettled by the words he was saying.
Thirty seconds passed and no answer, then a minute, then two, and before a five-minute mark as the tension was almost visible in the bridge Quibble finally spoke. “Captain they are firing up their rail guns, I am starting the evasive maneuvers.” And as Quibble finished dozens of blasts from Kraz’ox railguns rushed towards the Pegasus and the crew.
Quibble was caught off guard by the blitz attack from Kraz’ox but he managed to evade all but one of the railguns. Nova was hit badly, James immediately opened the comms, but not before instructing Quibble to start fighting them. “Chloe, Eric are you ok?” James asked, and as he waited for the answer, a knot formed in his stomach.
“Captain we are ok,” Chloe’s voice came through. “Both of us are good, minors scratches, but the ship is done,” Chloe said panting.
“Those motherfuckers,” Quibble said. “I am sorry for not reacting better, they will feel my wrath now,” Quibble said and launched all the remaining drones that were left behind.
He stormed Admiral Treoiuox’s ship first with most of his drones and cover fire from the Pegasus. Kraz’ox changed formation trying to guard their admiral but Quibble navigated his drones with easy, finding the smallest cracks and their formation and sacrificing drones where it was necessary. Several of the drones broke through defenses and found them selves eye to eye with the enormous Kraz’ox ship.
Qubbile knew there was no point in firing at the ship, so he targeted vital parts of the Kraz’ox command vessel and suicided the drones.
“Their drive, comms, and navigation is fried,” Quibble said. “Let’s take care of the rest.”
There was a brief applause on the bridge before the crew returned to their station and overlooked the battle Quibble was masterfully leading. Just when the victory was in the sights as Quibble disabled the vast majority of the Kraz’ox ship radars and alerts started blaring across the bridge.
“What’s going on?” James asked unable to find any information on his screen.
“Wait for a second,” Troy said switching screens frantically. “There,” He said pointing toward the hologram in the middle of the bridge.
James took a look at the hologram and saw a large fleet of the Kraz’ox ship. There must have been hundreds of them flying straight at earth. It was the backup Kraz’ox called in order to deal with the Anoi. They expected them but this was almost half of their total ships coming to help, the numbers were overwhelming.
“Are you seeing this?” James asked worry etched into his voice.
“Yes Captain, I am not blind,” Quibble said.
“Any ideas?” James asked unsure of what to say.
“Yes, millions,” Quibble said. “I will need you all to take control of the ships for new minutes until I focus my whole capacity towards the solution,” Quibble said. “Don’t die and don’t destroy my ships.”
James was caught off guard but quickly snapped out of it. “Everyone at your stations and get ready,” James said to the crew on the bridge and the rest of the crew on the other ships. “We evade their attacks until Quibble figures something out.”
Confirmation came across the comms. “I think it’s best we separate,” James said. Everyone takes their own side, we will try to lure them away.“
James flew the ship away from the Earth and towards Mars. Most of the Kraz’ox ships flew after them some following Eclipse and two remaining ships. The fleet that was left was not an issue as Quibble dismantled most of them, but the reinforcements were quickly closing in.
In less than five minutes the reinforcements fully closed in on them and started firing at the Pegasus. James managed to evade most of the hits but was getting surrounded as he flew the ship toward Mars.
His only way out was closed by the sudden appearance of the Kraz’ox cruiser that came out of the hyperjump. “Shit,” James said. “We are fully surrounded, Quibble we need help right now.”
“A few minutes more Captain,” Quibble said.
“We don’t have a few minutes,” James yelled but Quibble said nothing.
James looked for a possible way out as the ship started taking damage. Its shields were still holding, but it was a matter of minutes before they completely gave out and it was done for the Pegasus. He scanned the area and found one of the flanks guarded only by two smaller Kraz’ox destroyers and several scout ships.
“There, James said poting at the radar.” Fly us there and concentrate all the fire on the smaller destroyer.
The crew shifted and darted around the bridge and Pegasus changed course for ninety degrees flying towards the opening James saw. They concentrated all the fire on the vessel James marked and managed to hit it several times but in the process, their shields were done and they started taking heavy damage.
They needed to destroy the other attack ship before they could escape, but with their shields down they needed to focus fire on the upcoming missiles in order to stay alive.
As they neared the point of no return, their railgun was damaged beyond repair and the remaining gun power was not enough to break out of the Kraz’ox circle.
A wave of despair washed over James as he watched his crew’s faces, they all knew what was going to happen in a matter of seconds and they had no other way out.
“Quibble now or we are dead,” James yelled and almost instantaneously the remaining Kraz’ox destroyer was destroyed in a flash of light blue light. “About damn time, James said and the crew cheered as they broke out of the Kraz’ox circle.
“It wasn’t me,” Quibble said.
“Who was it then?” James asked the incoming transmission blinked on the screen and James accepted it immediately.
A familiar face appeared on screen, Lieutenant William Grant flashed a welcome smile. “This is Lieutenant William Grant acting captain of a second human interstellar ship Vanguard speaking.”
“God damn it’s good to see you, Lieutenant,” James said unable to hide his excitement.
“What’s the plan, Captain?” William asked.
“We are wai-”
Before he could finish Quibble finally joined in the conversation. “Got it,” He just said and took control of the ship. “Vanguard follow me back towards the earth.
“What’s the plan?” James asked.
“You’ll see in a minute Captain,” Quibble said.
“We almost died and you didn’t help us,” James said angrily.
“I saw Vanguard coming to help you and calculated it was enough for you to survive before I finish what I was doing.”
“Why didn’t you say anything then?” James asked frustration building inside him.
“I love dramatic moments Captain,” Quibble said. “When they make a movie about us, this scene is going to be so good.”
“Stupid bot,” James exclaimed, but let it go, for now, it was time to win the battle according to the ancient AI.
It took them ten minutes with all of the Kraz’ox armies on their tail to regroup with the remaining ships and Quibble’s drones. The Pegasus took the most damage by far but it was still functioning.
“Ok, watch this,” Quible said and stopped all of the ships in the tracks and rushed all of the remaining drones at the Kraz’ox armada suiciding one by one. He crashed each drone in front of the Kraz’ox ships but none of them were dismantled they kept on firing and coming at Pegasus.
“What are you doing?” James asked frantically. “We are all going to die.” He yelled.
“Now, now Captain, a little trust,” Quibble said as the Kraz’ox ships neared them.
“Three, two, one…” Quibble said and all of the Kraz’ox ships powered down at the same time. “Ta-da,” Quible said as James watched in confusion.
“What happened? What did you do?” James asked.
“Miracle, Captain,” Quibble said imitating a chuckle. “When I crashed at the Admirals Treoiuox’s ship I managed to infiltrate their systems and their core. Their ships are not run by AI, but it does most of their automated functions for them.“ Quibble said.
“And so I made hundreds of copies of myself, a lot dumber of course, and inserted them into the drones with only one goal. Once they crush into the Kraz’ox ship they would look for a way to hunt down and destroy their AI giving me control of their fleet essentially.” Quibble continued. “So in short, we have full control of their ships and the remaining Anoi ship we incapacitated earlier I took my time to infiltrate them as well.“
“Woah,” James said. “That’s actually impressive Quibble, even for you.”
“Oh thank you, Captain, you will make me blush,” Quibble said. “There you go, Earth is safe as I promised! What do you want me to do with all of them?”
“Can you force a transmission to all of the Kraz’ox and Anoi ships?” James asked.
“Yes of course, what do you have in mind?” Quibble asked curiously.
“You will see, give me a second,” James said and composed himself. “Open the transmission and record me speaking.”
“Aye, aye, Captain,” Quibble said. “We are ready!”
James cleared his throat, put on a serious but friendly expression, and started.
“Dear Kraz’ox and Anoi, I will need you all to listen very carefully now. You all have been played and have been fighting a proxy war for species older than all of us, who do not care for your civilization a single bit and see you as ants. They are fighting a war almost as old as the universe itself and are running away from an unimaginable terror I have seen with my own eyes…” James continued his speech explaining everything they have discovered so far from the Qhiks to Ellads and their enemies and the threat of the Void itself, hoping to find a reason with the two alien species with a common enemy that can devour them in a matter of seconds.