The Great Betrayal - By Michael G. Thomas Page 0,1

been pulling on cables and panels for the last five minutes to no avail. The interior of the bomber was hardly conducive to a warrior of his oversized stature, and he continually struck his head or became stuck as he moved about. Since their escape, he’d managed to bring a number of key systems online, including the prized countermeasures. The weapon system had unfortunately so far eluded him.

“We won’t make it to the Rift at this rate!” Spartan shouted.

Khan turned from his work and threw an angry stare at him.

“Not helping. Spartan not helping at all. Just keep flying.”

The crew area was placed a quarter the way along the twenty-two meter long body of the spacecraft and filled almost half of the interior. The design was very different to those in the commonly used Thunderbolt Heavy Fighter or the much more modern Hammerhead. It was considerably larger and unable to carry an assault team or dogfight in atmospheric flight, but its great strength lay in its range and capacity to sustain damage. Like most vehicles of its time a generation earlier, the heavy bomber was a spacecraft designed for a specific role rather than the universal design now being used. It could travel for weeks, even months at a time to support warship squadrons of the Confederate Navy in battle. At least that was how it might have been used twenty or thirty years earlier.

“Tell me something, Khan; I don’t care what, just something!”

Khan shouted at the engineer panel inside the filled the cramped interior, as once more he tried to bring more of the systems back on. Each time he tried to divert power from one place to another, he lost access to an existing system, and it was starting to annoy him. He looked at the last active system with surplus power, the emergency life-support package and moved his hand to alter the power. It dropped enough for him to divert a small portion to the secondary capacitor and instantly rewarded him with a series of status indicators flashing green.

“Railgun is charging up. We have a gun.”

He scanned the figures on the screen before allowing himself to smile.

“Even better, we have power reserves building in the primary and secondary capacitors.”

Spartan looked back from his pilot’s seat almost eight meters further along the craft. He was jammed into the front of the bomber, and a dozen screens around him fed information from the many complex systems aboard the craft. They bathed him in a mixture of pale blue and red light.

“Which gun?”

Khan nodded with a smile that seemed excessive even for him.

“Just the one, the one down there.”

He point at the floor of the craft.

Spartan smiled for the first time in what seemed like months.

“Now that’s more like it. Shame about the others.”

“Hey, it’s a damned big gun; just make sure you hit something with it.”

Spartan struck the emergency reverse-thrust button, and the directional cowls on the engines altered shape to direct most of the thrust ahead. Spartan pushed forward in his seat and would have crashed into the controls, if it weren’t for the heavily worn, yet extremely sturdy straps. Khan was also strapped in, but the rapid deceleration caught him by surprise. He coughed out as the air was forced from his lungs. A structural warning alarm sounded near Spartan, but he ignored it and instead watched the enemy fighters on the rear display.

Here they come.

With the bomber already slowing, the pursuing craft flew past him and into a position half a kilometer ahead. They were quick to realize what was happening and slowed down before spinning about to face him while continuing on the same vector. Spartan activated the main weapon coils and depressed the primary trigger. As the button clicked, he held his breath, waiting for the inevitable failure.

“This had better work!”

The hull of the spacecraft shuddered as the massive weapon accelerated a dense projectile the size of a man’s fist toward the fighters. The railgun was a simple weapon that had been shrunk down to a manageable size in the craft. Even so, it used up vast reserves of power and would not be able to fire for another ten seconds. Spartan watched with glee as the ultra-high velocity round slammed into the nearest Biomech fighter, smashing a hole through its center. Sections ripped off, and it drifted on its original path, now lifeless and useless.

“One down, three more to go!” he laughed.

Khan would love to have joined in, but he was back to