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Author: H. Peter Alesso
Genre: Science Fiction
Jamie Hawkins was living on an obscure planet in the twenty third-century
when on one fateful night—his life changed forever. His heroic effort to save
the lives of innocent women and children, caught in the cross-fire of war,
placed him squarely in the crosshairs of avenging soldiers.
A former marine, Hawkins was stunned when his rescue effort
was seen as treachery. Unfairly convicted of treason by a corrupt judge, he was
sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor on an infamous penal colony.
Once in prison, his courage and perseverance won him the
admiration and trust of his fellow convicts. While he was plotting his escape,
an enemy attacked the planet--giving this daring warrior his chance. Together
with his fellow prisoners, he launched a bold assault and high-jacked an enemy
From then on, the rebel ship Indefatigable, engaged in
multiple ship-to-ship and fleet actions until the exploits of Captain Jamie
Hawkins became legendary.
The black of night had
fallen, but Jamie Hawkins couldn’t sleep. Though the surgeons had patched
up his many wounds, the remorseless pain persisted, even now, months
after his medical discharge from the Marines.
BAM! BAM! BAM!
Despite his desire to
ignore the unwelcomed thundering blows, he answered the door to his country
home and found his neighbor, tall scrawny seventeen year old Joshua Morgan,
gasping for breath.
“Captain Hawkins, come quick! Come quick, or they’ll all be killed!”
“Who? What are you talking about, Joshua?”
“I’ve just come from the city—it’s a war zone. People are dying,”
Joshua’s voice broke. “The hospital is taking care of the wounded and
sheltering women and children, but its force shield is buckling.” He finished
in a breathless rush, “It’s only a matter of minutes before it fails.”
A troubled frown creased Hawkins’s face. Their mothers had been friends and he had known Joshua
since he was born.
Has the boy been drawn into the turmoil? He wondered.
Hawkins had listened to the broadcasts throughout the day, absurd in
every detail; demonstrators declared that they were only protesting injustice,
while the government insisted the violence was a last resort against rebels.
Which is the greater lie?
“I told one of the doctors, I knew someone who could help. My flyer’s
right outside, sir. You must
come,” begged Joshua, his expressive eyes pleading.
A more kindhearted man,
who possessed his insight, might have agonized over what was happening in the
capital city, but though Hawkins was not unsympathetic, past adversity had left
him more hardboiled and cynical than most.
“That’s not my concern anymore,” he said.
Joshua’s desperate voice squealed, “You’re a veteran. You could make a difference, sir.”
Hawkins put his hand on
his hips, threw his head back, and barked, “Ha!”
Then, giving vent to a
deep inner passion, he demanded, “What difference can one man make?”
As a Marine, Hawkins had been a hot-blooded warrior, always quick to
action, so at this moment of great upheaval, while frenzied violence was
playing out in the capital, he surprised himself with his reluctance to act. As he ran his hand over the long
jagged scar that marred his chest, one thing was certain, the foolish mutinous
passions of the people could only lead to ruin.
But the look that spread
across the boy’s face was indescribable—it was as if he had just lost his hero.
“Alright, if you won’t come, at least tell me how to maintain the
shield,” said Joshua, showing a daring and persistence beyond his years. “I’ll
go back alone, but you must tell me what to do.”
“You have no idea what
you’d be getting yourself into. All hell has broken loose. Can’t you see, you
can’t contribute anything worthwhile, and most likely something terrible will
“I must go back, my mother is a volunteer at the hospital,” said Joshua.
Throwing back his shoulders with a determined jerk of his chin, he challenged
Hawkins’s jaded gaze, pleading, “Please. Tell me how to fix the shield.”
Hawkins opened his mouth, but the words froze on his lips. The boy’s courage
was a splash of cold water in his face, stinging his sense of honor. It wasn’t in his
nature to send this boy to certain death—for Joshua could never accomplish what had to be
done—nor it was in
his makeup to let innocents be condemned to death with the hospital’s
A gritty resolve washed over Hawkins. He said, “Let’s go.”
Wearing a brown pilot jacket, tanned rawhide trousers with knee-high
leather boots, calfskin gloves, and goggles, Hawkins skillfully maneuvered the
single seat flyer at breakneck speed. Joshua desperately clung to him to stay
on the back of the motorcycle-like vehicle--his arms wrapped tightly around
What they saw was a madhouse--Newport was ablaze with savage fires that
lit up the horizon--scores of them. Just hours before it had been a vibrant
city, the capital of Jaxon, renowned for its culture and history, thriving with
business and commerce, home to over a million inhabitants going about their
ordinary daily lives, now it was a battlefield.
Though his home was a mere two dozen kilometers outside the city, it was
impossible for him to fly directly there. There were several sharp mountain
peaks in their way, one tremendous one, flanked by two smaller ones, causing
Hawkins to race the engine of single-seat turbojet to gain altitude. The noise
and vibration of the straining sputtering engine roared into the dark rainy
night until they were able to ascend to three thousand meters.
When they reached the outskirts of the city, they descended to a hundred
meters, but skyscrapers rose in their path causing them to fly directly over a
paved highway that connected the planet's capital to the suburbs. It was
swollen with traffic--pedestrians, motorcycles, trucks and cars--choking the
road. There were people of every description; disheveled housewives and
construction workers, unskilled laborers and local tradesmen, reeking hobos and
sharply dressed businessmen, young and old, men and women alike, all seeking
safety. Some carried cherished possessions while others brandished antiquated
bullet guns, since the government had already confiscated most laser and plasma
weapons. This crowded mass of human unhappiness snaked its way along its
ill-chosen path intent on escaping the terrifying violence.
Is Joshua's mom in that mob? Hawkins wondered.
Those remaining in the city suffered under a shower of high explosive
aerial bombs intermixed with artillery shells. With sirens wailing, Hawkins saw
bombers overhead dropping death from the skies and heard the repeated firing of
artillery in the distance. He couldn't tell who was doing the shooting.
After his initial reluctance to come, he agonized over whether he would
arrive in time. A nearly impenetrable wall of smoke, flame, debris, and
explosions added extra heart wrenching minutes to the journey.
Every two minutes a new wave of jets would be overhead and a new barrage
of artillery shells would join in. The roaring fires pulsed, like the blind
fury of an agitated buzzing beehive. Little fires grew into big ones, right
before his eyes. Big ones died down under the valor of firemen, only to break
out again a few moments later.
Hawkins saw the panic in the street. The city's civil-defense included
shelters that were now overflowing with refugees. Many had left their homes and
defied the flames to run to the bomb shelters distributed throughout the city,
only to find there was no room for them. In addition to the death and injury,
everywhere there was evidence of psychological trauma--children sat in
rubble--their dead parent's bodies nearby. It was impossible to gauge how much
more the citizens could take. Panic and raw nerves grew tighter with each
passing minute. The people prayed for a respite--but there was little hope for
mercy on this night.
Hawkins heard the crackling of the closest flames and the screams of
victims and firemen, alike. Smoke blurred his vision and seared his lungs.
Nevertheless, he kept going with Joshua clinging to his waist.
"Arf! Arf!" choked Joshua.
"Here cover your mouth with this handkerchief," yelled Hawkins
over the uproar around them.
The sirens wailed.
"Oh, no," said Joshua. "Are we too late?"
"We're almost there," said Hawkins.
They heard detonations high in the air. The sky was alive with a deadly
dance of destruction.
Farther down the street, Hawkins could see soldiers breaking through the
defensive ring of some diehard demonstrators, sending them fleeing in every
direction. He couldn't quite make out what the people were yelling, but he
could see one oversized banner fall to the ground.
It read, "Beware the Wrath to Come!"
About the Author
scientist and author specializing in technology innovation, H. Peter Alesso has
over twenty years research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
(LLNL). As Engineering Group Leader at LLNL he led a team of scientists and
engineers in innovative applications across a wide range of supercomputers,
workstations, and networks. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. and served in the
U.S. Navy on nuclear submarines before completing an M.S. and an advanced
Engineering Degree at M.I.T. He has published several software titles and
numerous scientific journal and conference articles, and he is the
author/co-author of ten books.