.RU

Robotech Sentinels: World Killers - старонка 6


But there was one critical thing in their favor: the snakes were ignoring them. Now that the Battloids were smoking wreckage, the snakes seemed to be dissolving away, perhaps returning to whatever fabrication matrices had given them form. Powerful blasts of fire-fighting gas belched from fixtures all around the remains of the Battloids, extinguishing the fires, and tremendous ventilators created a minor windstorm, drawing away the fumes.

"Walking is good healthy exercise anyway, so my mom used to tell me," Bela said cheerfully, getting to her feet. She was checking over her crossbow and resettling the two-handed shortsword she carried. Clearly, her skintight REF flightsuit was less comfortable to her than the rather daring fighting costume she usually wore.

Gnea, looking like a giant, lissome seventeen-year-old, went to join her friend and mentor. Gnea held one of the naginatalike Praxian halberds, a polearm with a curved, glittering head and a wicked spike set at the opposite end. Jack had seen the two use their weapons in combat, and had learned the foolishness of underestimating primitive arms.

He checked his inertial locator; there was no use going back, and so Glike was their only hope now. But then he noticed Janice, standing to one side, distracted. She looked as if she were listening to some distant siren song to which the rest of them were deaf.

"It's near," she whispered. "Somewhere close, and it's aware of us." Burak, horned like an auroch, who had ridden with her, looked at her strangely.

"What is?" Crysta asked. She was pumping up the globlar reservoir of her long Karbarran pneumatic rifle with its hinged forestock lever. "Janice, what is it you perceive?"

"Haydon IV the artificial world has a mind, an Awareness," Janice said, as if in a dream. "And the seat of that Awareness, its nexus, is not far away."

She knew it was true, but couldn't understand how the knowledge had been given to her. She turned to them. "We must go to it!"

"Huh-uh." Jack was shrugging into his packstraps. "They'll be waiting for us up there in Glike, remember? Admiral Hunter, and Karen and the rest? People we're supposed to rescue? I admit things haven't exactly been beer and skittles so far, but we're not gonna let 'em down. We stick to the plan."

Janice Em found that she couldn't answer. She felt like a double image on a monitor screen, ghostly twins standing side by side. The whirlpool of thoughts and sensory impulses that spun within her had stolen her voice, immobilized her. Vast forces were vying within her.

She had a sudden sense of Lang-not of the Robotech genius's physical presence, but rather of his voice, his intellect. Intentionally submerged memories had surfaced in this moment of crisis. Changes were triggered in the being the REF and the Sentinels-and even Minmei-knew as Janice Em.

As she transformed her companions drew away from her.

CHAPTER SIX

Anybody who says million-to-one odds are unbeatable never had Breetai standing on their side of the scales at the weigh-in.

Lisa Hayes Hunter, Recollections

There was no reality, no orderly flow of time, no ground underfoot or substantial object that she could touch. She was in a void, without form, as she had been for so long.

Then things began to impinge upon her. It came to her that her name was Karen Penn. Other facts and memories and realizations coalesced.

She was a member of the Sentinels by way of the Robotech Expeditionary Force. Her mother had died in childbirth, and her father held that against Karen to this day. There was another young officer, Jack Baker, whom she-

She blocked that thought out. But there were more-the memory of how she had been poisoned by the atmosphere of Garuda, swept up in the hallucinatory expanded mind-state the Garudans called hin, a state for which the human mind had never been intended. Then there were the nightmares, the visions, the visitations of the endless mindstorm of the hin. Some had been horrible, some of terrible beauty, but all had strained her grip on her sanity and the very functions of her autonomic nervous system.

The flickering spark of her life had been all but out when without warning something seemed to be fanning it, encouraging it to glow and grow brighter. Then there was an almost physical feeling, as if she were being flushed out with snowmelt water from a mountain river-as if she were wired up with electrodes.

And a chorus of somehow silent voices, singing words she never quite understood, drew her up and up from the verge of death.

Over the preceding weeks, Karen had dreamed or hallucinated many times. Now she had finally awakened. This time, what she saw made her sob a bit, with relief.

Lieutenant Commander Miriya Sterling sat at her bedside, holding Karen's hand. Once the battle queen of the Zentraedi's feared Quadrono Battalion, now wife to Max Sterling, leader of the Skull Squadron, Miriya had fought for the Human race and the Sentinels as hard as she had ever fought for the Robotech Masters-or even harder; love had shown her the way.

Miriya gave Karen a tender smile that seemed out of character with the ferocity of a Quadrono. She smoothed a lock of Karen's hair. "Welcome back."

Karen tried to speak, not even sure what she would say, but Miriya hushed her. "You'll still be weak for a little while; the rest of us were, too. Just rest."

Miriya turned and spoke softly over her shoulder. "Dr. Grant? She's awake."

Another face came into view over Miriya's shoulder, a heart-shaped face with big black eyes and skin the color of dark honey. "Take it slow," Dr. Jean Grant said. "You're gonna be just fine, Karen."

Karen concluded that she wasn't in a Sentinels' sick bay; that much was apparent from what she could see of her surroundings. The apparatus all around her-what she took to be med equipment-had the look of geometrical sculptures in crystal and precious metals, and abstract shapes of neon and laser light. She recalled seeing the same design technology in the Haydonites' module of the starship Farrago. She reached an understandable conclusion.

"Haydon IV?" Jean and Miriya both nodded their heads slowly. "Then, we've done it? We've liberated another planet from the Invid?"

"No, Lieutenant." Lisa Hayes Hunter stepped into Karen's line of sight, Rick following a step behind.

"Garuda was freed," Lisa went on, "but several of us were stricken by the planet's biosphere. Our only chance was Haydonite science, so Vince and Jean and several others brought us here, under a flag of surrender."

"Not surrender," Rick rasped. "I never surrendered to the Invid, and neither did you! Besides, they don't rule Haydon IV, at least not officially, so a surrender's null and void."

Karen was startled to see how hateful his expression was, not just in mentioning the Invid but toward everything that had brought him to this moment. She figured the Hunters had already done battle in private.

"I'm never surrendering!" he swore.

Lisa looked like she was about to say something but then thought better of it. To cover the awkward silence, Jean got Karen to sit up. There were assorted Haydonites hovering at a polite distance, and through the windows of the Hall of Healing Karen could see the wonderland of Glike, with its flying carpets and fairy-tale architecture.

"Vince, Colonel Wolff, and Max are trying to find Sarna and get an update on what's going on," Miriya said. "And Cabell and Veidt have an audience with the Regent."

Karen Penn tried to phrase her next question carefully. Everything was a blur concerning the disastrous raid on the Invid base on Garuda, but she felt a sudden fear. "Did we suffer-many casualties? On Garuda?"

That seemed to lessen the tension a little. Jean smiled slightly. "It could've been a lot worse. Jack's just fine, Karen."

Karen blushed and stammered, "I-I didn't mean-that is-" The last thing she wanted was for anybody to think she had a soft spot for that salivating show-off, Jack Baker!

One of the Haydonite healers glided closer. "You will pardon the interruption, one hopes, but time draws near for another treatment for you, Miriya Sterling."

"But-" Karen felt a sudden misgiving. "I thought we were all healed?"

Miriya's expression was mournful. "You are-and so am I, I hope. But there's been a complication in my case."

She rose and patted Karen's shoulder. "You see, I'm pregnant, and we don't know how the Garudan exposure may have affected that." She squared her shoulders and set off in military style, chin high, surrounded by hovering Haydonites.

"That's all the more reason we've got to get out of here," Rick said. "I say we make a break as soon as we can."

"Not until we're sure Miriya's all right," Lisa contradicted firmly.

"What good'll it do to have her healthy in an Invid dungeon?" he snapped. "Everybody knows that what the Invid want around here, they get sooner or later! And I'm not about to let myself be-"

Lisa whirled on him again. "Then go-go on, save yourself! But we're not abandoning Miriya, or Rem!"

They held the tableau for a moment, and Karen was stunned by the realization that they were very close to striking one another.

Just then another Haydonite drifted up to them, cloak billowing. "We've just received word for you all to hold yourselves in readiness. The Regent has commanded that you appear before him to answer the charges against you."

As Breetai watched the Ghost Riders rush in to finish off his Battlepods and the Valivarre, he spoke a single name.

"Kazianna!"

Her face appeared in a small inset on the master screen. "Your orders, great Breetai?"

At another time he would have gazed upon Kazianna Hesh with fondness: the Zentraedi warrior-woman who had somehow come to understand the meaning of Human love and lovemaking, and taught those things to her battle lord. But this was combat, and Breetai was focused completely.

"Strike now, Quadronos!"

Kazianna gave a hungry smile behind her tinted face-bowl. "We strike, my lord!"

From the locks and launch bays of Valivarre, new mecha swept forth on brilliant plumes of thruster fire, as a score of Quadronos entered the fray. The Ghost Riders, most of them too young to have served in the Robotech War, were bewildered, not understanding what these highspeed, extremely maneuverable new opponents were.

Kazianna led the way, as swift and agile as a hornet, unleashing the tremendous firepower of her armored suit. On her first attack pass, she flamed a Logan, and moments later a second. Behind her, Robotech harpies poured into the opening she had made in the Ghosts' formation, unleashing missiles and high-energy beams. The giant female warriors of the Quadronos, primed for battle and having the advantage of surprise, began rolling up a fearsome kill score at once.

Aboard his flagship, Commodore Renquist couldn't understand what was going on at first. All he knew for sure was that there were frantic cries over the Ghosts' tactical commo net, and that the computer displays showed the REF fliers taking terrible losses.

After some moments, databanks matched up these new antagonists with file information: Quadrono-powered armor suits containing forty-five and fifty-foot-tall giantesses, clearly veterans of one of the Zentraedi's most feared units.

"Impossible!" Renquist bit out. Those powered armor suits that were left after the war had been adapted for mining, and all intelligence evaluations agreed that the Zentraedi lacked the technical skill to refit them for combat-at least, without Human help.

What Renquist didn't know-what the Zentraedi had chosen to keep to themselves-was that a return to Fantoma and their former way of life had resulted in a resurgence of their memories, the ones the Robotech Masters were supposed to have submerged forever. The grueling mining operations forced a reflowering of the Zentraedi innovative genius.

The Ghost Riders found themselves dogfighting with a swarm of fire-breathing viragoes whose powered armor gave them a distinct edge. The REF mecha were driven back, or simply blown out of existence. The Battlepods, bringing up the rear, mopped up for the Quadronos and flew cover.

Male Zentraedi had a good deal to ponder, Breetai saw with some satisfaction.

He had a commo channel opened to Renquist once again. "Commodore, I'll offer you the chance to withdraw your forces and let us go our way in peace. You can't win, you see."

Renquist was visibly shaken, all color gone from his face. The Ghost Riders had been nearly wiped out, and he wasn't at all sure that the remaining fliers would obey his orders.

But he knew what he could expect from Edwards if he went home in defeat. "You alien monster! I'll see you in hell first!"

"Eventually, perhaps," Breetai conceded, and transmitted a signal to Kazianna.

She darted right through the enemy interceptors and AA fire, as nimble as the legendary Miriya herself, to close in on the cruiser's bridge. Too late, Renquist realized what was happening. Before he could even give the order to clear the bridge, Kazianna let go a tremendous blast at point-blank range, penetrating the shields and bursting the vast curve of viewpane there.

Renquist and his trusted Ghost staff, and Edwards's personal security men, were scorched and blackened, whirled headlong by the outrushing atmosphere, the air flooding from their lungs in a mist despite their every effort to hold it in.

Kazianna had already flung herself away from the cruiser rather than follow up on her advantage. Breetai had no wish to inflict more casualties than he had to. Even as she did so, word came that the few surviving Ghost Riders were breaking contact.

Valivarre and the two cruisers stood motionless, at a face-off, while REF officers struggled with damage control and tried to reestablish a chain of command.

At last Captain da Cruz, of the Tokugawa's sister ship, the Jutland, contacted Breetai. He asked her, "Captain, will you accept my offer and part courses under a truce flag?"

"Sir, we will not," da Cruz, a gangly woman with olive skin and iron-gray hah" gathered in a tight knot at her neck, responded.

"I understand." Breetai nodded. "My warriors and I await your pleasure."

"Lord Breetai, you misunderstand. It is my opinion, and that of most others in this contingent, that orders were violated when you were attacked. I have had access to certain sealed instructions given Commodore Renquist by General Edwards, and it is my opinion that the Sentinels are now to be found on Haydon IV.

"What I propose is that the Jutland-and the Tokugawa, as soon as emergency repairs can be made on her-accompany you there on your mission to find Rick and Lisa Hunter and the others. We will render military aid as needed, and escort the admiral and his wife and the rest to REF Base Tirol so that they can make a fair answer to the charges against them."

Da Cruz permitted herself the raising of an eyebrow. "You see, many of us find it difficult to picture the Hunters as traitors, too."

The corners of Breetai's lips turned up. "Perhaps we can help with the repairs to the Tokugawa, madam. You might say we've become a bit inventive of late."

CHAPTER SEVEN

There are more enjoyable things in life than being a here. Having shingles, for instance.

Jack Baker, Upwardly Mobile

The raiding party stared, aghast, at the thing that had been Janice Em.

Her skin had become transparent, and the blood vessels and musculature of her face could be seen. Her eyes emitted an eerie light; what there was of her expression seemed flat, unblinking and un-Human.
2010-07-19 18:44 Читать похожую статью
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • Контрольная работа
  • © Помощь студентам
    Образовательные документы для студентов.