The Archangel Marie

10 Jan

Just a little snippet that might become a story…

One second.

 

A pinprick of light appeared against the inky blackness of space as the wormhole formed, allowing a tiny object to enter the besieged star system.  It was small, barely larger than the average man, almost invisible to the naked eye.  The forces fighting within the star system detected its presence almost at once, but they discounted it.  Something so small could hardly be dangerous…

 

Marie gasped as her higher combat functions came online, allowing her to throw out a sensor field that scanned the entire system and returned the data to her at FTL speeds, something literally incomprehensible to the meat-minds fighting their pointless war.  Data downloaded directly into her upper cortex, checked against both reports from intelligence and live feeds from a dozen sensor platforms covertly inserted into the system.  Comprehension was almost instantaneous.  Seventeen thousand, nine hundred and seventy battleships, crewed by a single alien race, were patrolling the outer edge of the combat zone.  Ninety-seven orbital forts, one thousand and nineteen starships and over a million fighters, mines and orbital weapon platforms guarded the planet below.  The energy field surrounding the planet was clearly in serious danger of failing completely, judging from the energy readings she was picking up.  It wouldn’t be long before the attackers managed to pop something through the field and then the planet would die.  The Association Senate had decreed that that would not be allowed to happen.

 

New data flowed into her mind as she took stock of the situation.  Alien Race #1 was a race of neo-barbarians from the edge of explored space, one given advanced technology by another race that hadn’t realised that their technology would be exploited by the thrusting and greedy barbarian government.  Alien Race #2 was just as bad, a more sophisticated race that formed alliances with other races that were just a disguised form of imperialism.  The encounter between the two races had been a disaster waiting to happen.  Their leaderships deserved to die, to be punished for the suffering inflicted on their own people, but what about the innocent masses below?

 

Two seconds.

 

Marie’s higher battle analysis mentalities completed their final scan of the system.  Neither of the combatants were presenting anything beyond basic weaponry systems, certainly no technology as advanced as a singleArchangel.  Not that she’d expected anything, of course; they had yet to develop the mindsets that would free them from dependence upon planets and set out to inhabit space permanently.  They could fire their weapons at her all day, from standard directed energy weapons to quantum field busters that could reduce a star to hard energy, and she would barely notice.

 

She linked a command into the remote pods and new disruptions started to flicker through normal space.  One by one, the weapons swarm emerged beside her, unfolding down from the pocket dimension that held most of her systems, processors and fabricators.  They weren’t that advanced compared to the locals – there was no point in adding massive culture shock to their other problems – but they’d be enough to make her point.  Or so she hoped.  Barbarians couldn’t be counted upon to be rational.  It was why they were barbarians.

 

Three to ten seconds.

 

Her communications functions activated at her command.  “Attention,” she broadcast, projecting her signal forward on multiple frequencies.  They wouldn’t be able to block her message from reaching every ship, station and planet in the system.  Associate functions ensured that the message was downloaded into every computer core, a stunning display of superior force.  “By order of the Association Senate, you are ordered to stand down and end hostilities at once.  Your criminal assaults on innocents will no longer be tolerated.  Stand down or be destroyed.”

 

Eleven seconds to five minutes.

 

Her sensor probes could reach right into the starships holding the command authorities for both fleets.  Their panic was clear, easy to track, as was their determination to continue their senseless war.  Those who might have surrendered and accepted that they would no longer be allowed to terrorise the local galactic arm were overruled.  Many of the others simply didn’t believe her threat.  They still thought of power as being measured in starships hundreds of kilometres long.  What little they could see of theArchangelwas tiny.  Even the swarm of remote pods wasn’t intimidating.

 

Their response finally came in; a flat refusal to obey orders.  Marie didn’t hesitate any longer, even though her orders allowed her discretion.  The only way to impose peace was to overawe the barbarians, to make it clear that nothing they had could match a singleArchangel.  And if a few hundred thousand of them had to die, it would only underline the message she intended to send.

 

Five minutes to seven minutes.

 

At her command, the swarm rocketed forward, instantly accelerating to 0.9C.  There was no attempt to cloak them, but they would arrive hard on the heels of any warning of their coming.  The barbarians tried, firing enough energy to cook an entire planet in an attempt to take out the remotes before they could strike home.  It was utterly futile.  Each of the remotes was wrapped in nothing less than the fabric of the universe itself, invulnerable to any force that could be mustered within the universe.  If they’d been able to do more with hyperspace than use it as a means of transport, perhaps they would have been able to do something, but instead they were helpless.

 

Alien Race #1 was struck first.  A thousand starships, the smallest being seventeen kilometres long, were rammed by the remotes, which smashed through force shields and hull metal as if they were nothing more than paper.  The force of the impact alone would have wrecked them, but the remotes plunged onwards, fissioning matter and converting it into antimatter as they passed.  Each of the ships went up in a colossal explosion, leaving the unharmed remotes to speed onwards on a course that would hold them in readiness to return to the attack, if necessary.  Alien Race #2 fared little better.  Marie’s concession to them had been to spare them the antimatter, knowing that it might destroy the planet’s biosphere.  A dozen stations were blasted to debris and left to burn up in the atmosphere.

 

Marie re-manifested her communications function and repeated her message.  She’d carefully targeted the starships and stations commanded by those who wanted to fight, wiping them selectively from the universe.  The remainder saw sense and surrendered at once, apart from a handful that jumped back into hyperspace in an attempt to escape.  Marie let them go.  They couldn’t evade her when she chose to go after them – and she would, if they caused trouble.

 

She pulled back the remotes and issued orders to the two fleets, separating them from each other before someone could reactivate their weapons and resume the fight.  Her cyber assaults penetrated their computer cores and overwhelmed their pitiful defences, slaving them to theArchangel.  Once the bigger ships arrived, the crews would be evacuated back to their homeworlds or newer colony worlds along the Rim, somewhere where they would be safe from their own governments.  Or perhaps the Association would permit her to make a few home truths known to their leadership, starting with the fact they were very small fish in a very big pond.  The galaxy was a dangerous place for arrogant upstarts who thought they were the lords of creation.

 

The aliens seemed to be pleased, almost.  She felt an odd spurt of envy for them.  They were soldiers, just like herself, but they had a brotherhood that none of the Archangels ever knew.  The Archangels were humanity’s defenders and enforcers, yet that didn’t make them popular.  They could kill – and that, to most of the human race in all its myriad forms, made them terrifying.  The easy brutality she’d used to keep the aliens in line could so easily be turned against her fellow humans.

 

Depressed, she turned away and waited.  It wouldn’t be long now.

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4 Responses to “The Archangel Marie”

  1. Paul Howard January 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    “The aliens seemed to be pleased, almost. She felt an odd spurt of envy for them. They were soldiers, just like herself, but they had a brotherhood that none of the Archangels ever knew.”??

    What were the aliens “almost pleased” about?

  2. The Deposed King January 13, 2012 at 8:49 am #

    That they would be saved from their own governments and kept together,maybe? I agree Drak it is confusing. Why would soldier be happy they A: lost and B: are soon going to be out of a job. Bitter sweet at best I’d say.

    Also as an arrogant barbarian I have to say I’ve totally learned my lesson.

    I need me some of them Archangels!

    It reminds me of the Hobbit the movie. Where the humans, elves and dwarves are about to go to war with each other over the great treasure locked inside the mountain and then the goblins show up. Suddenly instead of I’ll smite thee elf/human/dwarf its. “Oh great Elf King my truest Friend and Ally let us unite together against this common foe. and so on and so forth.”

    Barbarian leader of race that developed its own technology:
    I shall name it the new Sub-Angel research project and until its completed we must live in constant fear and slavishly follow the dictates of the association senate. Which is why we need to raise taxes (remember whenever anything happens good/bad its time to raise your taxes) Then when we have our own angels, we shall produce them with the expectation of a 10:1 loss rate. But our great numbers and martial spirit will carry the day! We will bury you!

    We shall have three projects. Operation insider, operation one eye closed and operation blind man walking. We know they can get into our computer core’s at will. So operation outsider is so they know we think they’re stupid. Operation one eye closed, is so that the people in our lower governing bodies think we actually have a secret project. Operation blind man walking is where we fund several independent groups and instruct them to have no further contact with the government until they’ve suceeded in their research projects. They are to independently make their way to secret locations. Blackhole event horizons. A permanent trip through hyperspace, whatever. With no contact to the home office until their work is done.

    Oh well the Archangel was very well written except for the nit with the last paragraph. I think the main character makes a decent protagonist.

    But boy how overbearing judgmental Association Senate get under my craw!

    The Deposed King

  3. chrishanger January 15, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    They’re pleased because they will survive the war and their home planets won’t be destroyed by hostile aliens. Their leaderships are not entirely popular – although you’re right, the Association is very judgemental about this sort of thing.

    I’m not sure if this is clear, but Marie has been grafted onto a starship/weapon that exists mainly in a pocket dimension, allowing her to bring the right weapons out into normal space when she needs them. She’s pretty much an ultimate weapon by the standards of most SF – she could crush the combined navies of the Honorverse without breaking a sweat. But she’s also isolated from the Association because she’s capable of committing violence without losing control of herself/going mad and declaring herself the ruler of the universe. There aren’t that many Archangels, for obvious reasons.

    Think I should turn this into a story?

    Chris

  4. The Deposed King January 16, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

    Honestly I’m loving Dauntless and hoping of a sequel.

    That said. I think this would probably make a decent story.

    The Deposed King

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