Bat Out of Hell
The original mission was a success. Zeus had pulled Dionysus and Marcella out of the fire and had not suffered a casualty. It felt like a good day and yet he could not shake the feeling Nevada would be disappointed with him.
“Zeus?” Epione said quietly. “That was Chicago. Are we going to be ok?”
“All we have to do is get to our ship before she gets to hers. We do that and we have a serious chance to take her down like Nevada wants. But I am not losing anyone else, not to this world, not to this future. Cerberus and Apollo are the only ones who die in Olympus.”
Epione was quiet. It was an admirable goal but unrealistic. Zeus could do everything right and still lose someone. It was a reality of not just the military but life. Not to mention that they had no idea if Kurt was alive or not.
A feeling in Epione steeled her, however. She believed in Zeus, not the Agency. If the Alliance fell tomorrow, she would still follow Zeus, the man that kept their eclectic family together.
“No one else,” she said.
Abigail and Minnie were leading the team out of the tunnels. With Abigail’s knowledge of the maps and Minnie’s senses, they made the most sense. Gunn was walking with Dionysus, still carrying the unconscious Marcella.
“I never thought I’d be joining up with the Alliance,” Gunn said to Dionysus. “Not after Syracuse.”
“Syracuse?” Dionysus asked. Zeus was interested in this information as well.
“It’s the name of a colony in the Lake System. Bad juju went down there. I don’t know if I can really explain exactly what happened, but everyone agrees it was the Alliance’s fault.”
Zeus made the mental note to look up Syracuse as he saw a light ahead. They had reached the exit.
“No time for stories now. It’s time to earn our paychecks. Olympus, double time!”
Epione groaned loudly, but ran ahead with the others. Zeus, Abigail and Gunn were making good time, due to their military training. Minnie and Dionysus were not as trained but had led lifestyles that complimented athleticism. Epione however promised herself she would train when she got on the Cerberus.
“Phil,” Zeus said into his comms as he made his way to the exit. “Prep the shuttle for immediate takeoff. We’ll be fighting a Copperhead ship when we get to the Cerberus.”
Phil didn’t answer but she did send a ping to acknowledge she had heard the order. That was one problem out of the way.
“This is Agent Zeus broadcasting on all channels,” he said. “On the authority of President Sylvia Frost, all Alliance personnel are to evacuate the planet.”
After a beat, the team heard another message. “On the authority of Serenity Elysium, all Selene personnel are to evacuate the planet.”
Both Zeus and Serenity spoke the final line at the same time.
“This war is over.”
They had their orders. Tartarus now found himself with a dilemma. Kurt was being operated on in the medical camp, as his Medifoam had degraded before reaching the shuttle. Thanatos and Enyo were on the Cerberus, but he had elected to remain behind in the Alliance camp.
But the evacuation order introduced a new problem. How to move Kurt to the ship without killing him? It wasn’t like he could interrupt a life-saving surgery. Which meant there was only one option.
“This is Agent Tartarus, Zeus,” he said solemnly. “Kurt’s in surgery in the Alliance camp. On your order, I’ll go to the ship but I’d rather make sure he survives.”
Tartarus listened to the static for what seemed like an eternity.
“Understood, Tartarus. Send Alice to the Cerberus."
Tartarus pulled up Alice’s menu on his H.U.D, and hit the transfer button. In moments his implant was free of an A.I slot as Alice was uploaded to the ship.
Zeus barreled out of the tunnels and sprinted across No Man’s Land. Abigail ran with Zeus, matching his speed. Gunn overtook the two of them, then he stopped.
“Hurry up, Gunn!” Zeus ordered. Gunn shook his head and Zeus stopped as well. Without a word, Gunn gave Zeus Marcella’s body, and he ran back to Epione.
“Hey, Alliance,” Gunn said cheerily. “Come on, let’s go. Hut hut hut.”
Epione grumbled, out of breath, no comeback able to form. With the gap widening between them and Zeus, Gunn picked Epione up by sweeping her legs out with his arms, and he bolted towards the ship.
“I am not a damsel!” Epione cried.
“Of course, you’re a strong woman,” Gunn said with a smile. “On your own time. We’re on Zeus’s right now.”
Epione grumbled and focused on breathing normally. More fuel to the fire. She needed to train.
Zeus ran onto the shuttle and took a side to count everyone. Abigail, Minnie, Dionysus, Gunn and Epione. With Tartarus and Kurt not coming and Marcella in his arms, that made everyone.
“Phil, punch it!”
Phil grinned and started to lock the shuttle down for takeoff. Zeus put Marcella into a seat and buckled her up, making sure her head was in a secure place before entering the cockpit.
“Belle, alert the crew that we’ll be engaging in ship combat. Alice, prepare weapons to the best of your ability.”
Epione and Dionysus strapped themselves into their chairs quickly, aware of Phil’s crazy piloting. Abigail and Gunn however took their time. Once Phil activated the thrusters at full speed, Abigail and Gunn were launched into their chairs unceremoniously.
“Woo!” Gunn cried from the speed. “Your pilot’s awesome!”
“Don’t encourage her!” Epione screamed over the roar of the thrusters.
In the cockpit, Zeus was getting reports from the Cerberus, Alliance and Selene ships. They were all telling the same thing.
Callista’s ship was a class above Zeus’s, a dreadnought to his frigate. Olympus had no chance against them conventionally.
“I need an idea,” Zeus said to no one in particular. Phil took it as a request.
“Dreadnoughts usually have more weapons and armor, but they’re slower. I can buy you time and all you need is one good hit, Zeus. Who’s your best marksman?”
Zeus grimaced. “Tartarus.”
“Oh, that’s a problem.” Phil said, thinking.
With Apollo dead and Kurt in surgery, they didn’t really have anyone with a deadeye able to take a shot. So much for that plan.
“What about Abigail?” Epione offered over the comms. “She’s a sniper that harassed the Alliance for weeks.”
“Abigail?” Zeus asked. She wasn’t his soldier, so he couldn’t force her to.
Not that he needed to.
“Oh, I can’t wait,” Abigail said with an evil grin. “I’ll blow that bitch’s engine clean off.”
They had their plan. Phil would dodge the dreadnought while Abigail fired with the cannons they had. Zeus silently wished he had taken the time to upgrade the ship. If they survived, it was something he needed to do.
“What do you need from us, Zeus?” Dionysus said as they approached the Cerberus.
“Epione, go to the medical bay and stand by in case of injury. Dionysus, I need you to try and distract Callista on comms. While Abigail fires the main cannons, Gunn, Thanatos, Enyo and I will ,man the turrets to take on any fighters that come our way. Minnie, assist Junior in Engineering in case of damage.”
Zeus then spoke into his comms to address others in his crew.
“Kailey, be ready to receive wounded just in case. Isaac, assist Dionysus by making sure Callista can’t shut our communications off. Tartarus, if there is anything you can do from the ground, do it. Sync.”
All lights from active personnel lit up. Zeus watched the hangar approach as Phil gunned for it. He braced and called behind him for everyone to do the same.
The shuttle slammed into the back wall of the hangar. Phil opened the back door and everyone inside rushed out, leaving Marcella behind in a sealed shuttle.
Phil and Dionysus sprinted towards the bridge and arrived in two minutes. Phil leapt over the pilot’s leather chair and landed in the seat. She pulled the controls towards her and locked them to her grip. Dionysus started typing into the communications console and, with assistance from Isaac, she hacked into Callista’s ship comms and started doing what first came to her mind.
“And now, a rendition of a popular song from the year 2000, by Dionysus, with Callista on bass.”
Dionysus began to sing as badly as she could, to demoralise and annoy the crew of the Copperhead dreadnought. Phil grunted and put earplugs into her ears to drown the sound out, so she could focus on her flying.
Zeus, Abigail and Gunn ran into Enyo and Thanatos in the corridor, and turned towards the weapons platforms. They all locked into their systems, with Abigail on the main cannons, and watched for fighters and the dreadnought.
Epione and Kailey had set up the medical bay on the ship. Both were scrubbed and had mag-locked their boots to prevent them from flying over the medical bay in case of loss of gravity.
Tartarus on the ground had run towards a downed frigate in No Man’s Land, to find a new method of attack. Though he didn’t know the weapon’s specs, he knew a gun when he saw it and that giant, violet railgun on the broken bow was still active. It could still be aimed.
Alice and Belle combined their processing power to correct mistakes that the humans made in their tasks with a 0.8% error rate.
“Olympus!” Zeus said as the dreadnought came into view of the Cerberus. “Give them hell.”