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View Full Version : Captain Katrina (Devour) vs. The Doctor (Alphaeus)



Devour
01-08-2017, 12:38 AM
A battle between two really good writers! Hold onto your butts. This is going to be a good one :o

We wrote our parts on Google Docs. Of course that caused some formatting tomfoolery. Apologies in advance for that--it shows up the most on Alph's part....

Devour's Part:
Katrina took another sip of her drink.

It was a quiet place where she sat. In a quiet town, in a quiet part of the world where she could for once relax and gather her thoughts in peace.

Living in a time that was not her own took its toll on Katrina. Being stuck ten thousand years in the past meant everyday conveniences which she had enjoyed her whole life-- they were no longer there. They didn't even exist. Nor did every friend that she had ever known. Yet somehow everyone survived without them, as if they had never even mattered.

How could people live a life spent being so… suffocated? So small? Half the galaxy had been explored and mapped out in her time. Space, in all its beauty and danger, was wide open and free for all to see. Thousands of planets more exciting than primitive Earth were just a day’s trip away. How could these people around her be so blind to the magnitude of the universe? To the kind of life they were not lucky enough to have? They were doomed to be strapped to a mossy rock for their whole lives, never to leave or experience anything out of the ordinary. Yet somehow, they smiled.

Katrina took another sip.

Her mood was worsened by a particular man on the other side of the bar who talked loudly, confidently, each word unconsciously proclaiming his perfection in all walks of life from his perfect choice of words to the way he treated others around him. The table loved him and his perfection, perhaps riding in the slipstream of a grandiose being that they knew they could never be themselves. Even his looks carried this; with a shining auburn mane that flowed beneath his strong jaw and masculine features, cared for and dressed within equally perfect clothing. It was almost comical how his green eyes dazzled in the dim light and how his hair flowed with the smallest turn of his head. It was as if he’d been sculpted by an obsessive craftsman to be perfect in every way, and that was the only word you could use to describe what so obviously and resolutely defined this man.

Irritable as she was in her current state, the sight and sound of it had Katrina unconsciously digging her nails into the hardwood counter. She was not someone who yearned for perfection. Or even happiness, if she were to be completely honest. Perfection was a lie. Perfection was a hot fire with no cool breeze to shoo away. It was a roller coaster with no ups or downs. If perfection was all you knew, was perfection really all that special? Or would it disappear into a sea of other perfect moments with nothing to give any of them value or meaning?

“And who do we have here?” The man spoke in her direction. Katrina glanced up from her drink and saw that he was in fact speaking to her. She realized at once the enormous list of things she would rather do than have conversation with this creature. “I haven’t seen you before, pretty lady. You remind me of someone I once knew, back in a time when I met a monster who wanted to drown the world in oil. Heh, that’s quite the story too.” He offered her a reassuring smile that spoke volumes, saying that he understood what she was thinking, and that he knew without a doubt he could raise her spirits and banish her bad mood. With no motive except for the genuine kindness within his heart, he wanted to be her friend.

It made Katrina’s annoyance grow deeper.

“I don’t have the energy for your games.” She said. “Leave me alone.”

Staring for a pause, the man shrugged and ordered a drink from the bartender. After a short moment, he walked up and placed another drink next to Katrina’s almost-empty glass, nodding once. In the short moment he was near, he leaned down so no one else could hear him say, “I understand. I’ll leave you be. Good luck out there, Captain.”

For a brief period, Katrina absorbed just how calculated that simple gesture was as he walked away. It was the perfect, selfless, kind response to her sullen dismissal. With a barb at the tip to show her that he knew who she was. It was a powerful action to state that he was better than her as both an enemy and a friend, but by his good graces he had the heart to respond to her hostility with kindness anyways.

Oddly enough, it was then that Katrina just couldn’t take it anymore.

“Alright. Who the fuck do you think you are?” She snapped, standing up to look the mystery man in the eye. Her voice carried over the whole bar, silencing the friendly conversations with an uncomfortable halt.

“Why, I’m David.” He replied smoothly, unfazed by the sudden silence. “You can call me the Doctor if you’d like.”

“You know damn well that’s not what I mean.”

“Please. Enlighten me, then.”

The pirate captain huffed. The drinks she’d quaffed made the words she felt come out easier. “Everything about you mocks the way life really is. I can’t understand it. I’ve been listening to you talk for over an hour now, telling stories...” She paused for effect. “Has anything bad even happened to you? Ever?”

“Of course they have. I’ve survived many bad things in my life. I lived through wars. You of all people should know what war does to someone.” The Doctor frowned. “Not to mention the darker parts of my life, tangled with the other beings that threatened to--”

“But you always prevail, don’t you?” Katrina interrupted loudly, remembering the stories she overheard him telling. “With great courage and effort, he lives to see another day! The great Doctor, so perfect and wise, triumphs over evil and reaps the rewards of his bravery! Everybody loves him. Everyone wishes they could be him. Gosh, it’s like he doesn’t even have to try to be the center of attention!” She sneered with sarcasm. “You’re so pretentious it makes me sick.”

David’s expression darkened somewhat. He replied with nothing as cold eyes stared into hers, but Katrina did not care.

“Your existence mocks of all of us who aren’t like you. Sometimes, you just can’t win. That’s one thing I know and you do not. We people sit here in our defeat and regret and make the best out of life that we can, and here you are. Splitting in the face of those who survived being crushed by life’s burdens that were too heavy to withstand.”

She pointed a finger at his nose, lip jutting out. “Life is hard. Brutally hard. To see some sparkling, primped-up twit, so absorbed with his own nauseating perfection try and offer me his friendship like it’s some life-raft out of my own shitty existence… it’s insulting. I’d rather die than to have your fake life of perfection.”

Looking him in the eye, Katrina picked up the glass he had bought her and downed it all in one mighty swig. She slammed it back to the counter hard enough to crack the glass, storming out from the bar.

Katrina did not see just how dangerous the Doctor’s gaze had been, and what it meant. She did not look back as she thumbed her bracelet and cleared the doors, stepping into the city night. It only took minutes before a silent black spectre swooped in from the blackness, landing daintily in the middle of the empty streets. Katrina’s A.C.E space vessel, a sole display of the incredible technology borne from the time that she belonged, hissed open at the cockpit. The pirate captain climbed in, still furious, and the ship departed from the ground with little more than a whisper of thrusters.

“Welcome aboard, Captain.” The ship’s AI said pleasantly. “Where shall we fly to tonight?”

“I don’t care.” Katrina grunted, barely audible as she stewed. “Turn on autopilot and go wherever. Just take me away from this fucking place.”

“As you wish.”

________________________

Nearly an hour had passed. Katrina was laying back, eyes shut when her ship spoke up with a small warning. “I’m detecting a craft flying our way.” The AI said. “It’s unusual.”

“What’s its make and model?” Katrina asked out of habit, eyes still shut.

“The database says it’s a P51-D Mustang, but that doesn’t look right. Look at this:” It brought up a small page off the internet onto the ship’s viewscreen. “It’s a model from 1940.”

Katrina’s eyes opened. “Wait, what?” She leaned forward. “That’s from 77 years ago! Did they even have wars back then with such awful technology?”

“What’s course of action do you suggest, Captain?” The ship asked, dodging her question.

“Oh. Uh,” The pirate captain rubbed her eyes, trying to wake up a bit. “Raise the shields. Get me a picture of the Mustang. And the pilot too, if you can.”

As the ACE glided gently through the skies, the mysterious vessel soon caught up to them. It rode about a kilometer behind, matching their speed, seemingly doing nothing. In this amount of time, Katrina’s ship threw up an image of the craft in clear detail, edited to negate the effects of dark and movement.

Katrina could see with perfect clarity that the pilot was Dr. David MacBeth. He was looking dead into the camera as if he knew he was being photographed.

“Seriously? How did he find us?” The pirate glared at the image, swiping it off the screen with a gesture. “Has he tried contacting at all?”

As she said those words, two streaks of light suddenly shone behind her. Warnings began to blare as twin missiles rocketed through the sky, straight towards her ship.

“Oh, I see.” Katrina breathed. “I understand perfectly, Doctor.”

With a command, the ACE vessel’s shields dropped. Mere instants later, a searing laserbeam erupted from the rear, locking on and burning one of the missiles out of the sky. The other raced on untouched, and Katrina rolled her ship with ease, straight up and around as her bottom thrusters fired the ship at an odd angle a winged plane normally couldn’t do. The missile raced beneath her hull, swerving around, before the laser struck out again and shot it from the sky with robotic precision.

But then David’s Mustang was barrelling down on them, machine-guns blazing upon Katrina’s unshielded vessel.

Whirling, the pirate shut down power to the weapons and flared up the shields, but not before the ship was rocked by a thunderous wave of exploding shells, striking the ship like a million angry woodpeckers. Flying at incredible speeds for the lack of powered engines, the Mustang zoomed by overhead, quickly making distance and beginning to turn around for another run.

“Classic boom n’ zoom technique. Flawless.” Katrina growled in begrudging respect, working her controls furiously. “Isn’t that a spacefight maneuver? I guess it works in atmosphere, too. What’s the damage?”

“No penetrations. Lots of dents and cracks in the armor.” It informed her as the captain swung her ship around to engage in earnest. Thrusters fired madly, quickly building up impossible speeds. “By all accounts, he should not have been able to even damage our armor…”

Before the Mustang had time to turn back towards Katrina in its surprisingly-tight turn radius, the pirate captain had rocketed past his left side in a streak of pulsing jets. In response, David executed a flawless reverse aerial loop to counter his turn and bear his weapons on her path, to prevent her from turning behind his ship. It also provided him a perfect shot at her exposed flank.

The Mustang once again opened fire and raked the side of the ACE’s belly with claws of lead, but this time they merely caused the ship’s exterior to flash and quake with bright blue radiance, detonating on her shields.

“Come into my house, said the spider to the fly.” Katrina smiled. She pulled back on the joystick and the ACE vessel banked up toward the sky, thrusters lifting their weight easily. She allowed the bullets to strike as they climbed higher and higher.

The Doctor was not the only one experienced in atmosphere dogfighting. He had lost too much speed making a full rotation to follow her up into the skies for long. In addition to the recoil of his guns, even his modified engine could not sustain the climb. David had no choice but to drop back down to avoid entering a stall, dipping down at an angle that would require a normal plane to execute an impossible roll to follow him.

But the ACE was not a plane. It simply rotated in the air with directional thrusters, retaining its momentum, before rocketing down after the descending Mustang.

“You’re mine.” Katrina purred, locking on to the descending Mustang with her ship’s computers. With immense satisfaction, she released two missiles of her own. They came screaming after the P-51 with unnatural grace.

Almost immediately, her ship warned her of a strong electromagnetic field that seemed to be radiating from the Doctor’s craft. “Is that what I think it is?” Katrina breathed, watching David barrel roll to the left to clear himself from the missile’s path. The field seemed to be designed to short-circuit modern electronics.

“David,” she said to herself, smug, “EMP fields are thousands of years old. We’ve moved on from circuits since then.”

The missiles followed his craft with perfect precision, unaffected by the EM field, microthrusters firing to aid in crushingly-tight turns.

As the Mustang fell, the Doctor performed absolutely incredible turns and maneuvers to evade the missiles as they closed in. He made turns that should have knocked a man unconscious again and again. Each pass of the missiles required a flawless, nigh-impossible response to avoid being blown from the sky, and the missiles only turned course and came at him once more with endless stamina. There was no escape. He could only prolong his life by moments at a time.

“This is how it feels.” Katrina said, her ship hovering in place to watch her enemy die. “For once in your stupid, perfect life. This is how it feels to lose.” She gripped the stick a bit tighter. “No matter how hard you tried to fight back.”

Strangely enough, the last of the Doctor’s heatseeking missiles erupted from his Mustang. Twin streaks of primitive missiles came up and around, and Katrina burst out in laughter. The Doctor had released his missiles in the periapsis of his turn, and now his missiles were targeting his own ship! They began to barrel down on him as well.

But then, to Katrina’s amazement… David rolled one last time to the left.

His slower, clumsier missiles spread out as they tried to follow his roll, and they crashed perfectly into Katrina’s own torpedos, blowing them out of the sky.

“Jesus Christ.” She gasped despite herself, noting only vaguely that David was quickly bringing his plane around to press the attack once more. He was perfect. He was nigh infallable. David was exactly the creature she hated him for being. His existence flayed the skin of every terrible moment of her past. Every humiliation and defeat. Perfection was displayed right here in front of her and it was truly a sight to behold.

It was a sight that she could not stand to see for another second.

So in an act of mercilessness, she fired four more missiles at David’s craft.

Merciless like the cold barrel of a gun pressed against the heads of her loved ones.

Merciless like the slamming door of an unmarked van, dumping her into the streets of an unknown city on an unknown planet.

Merciless like the pirates that had found her, cold and starving.

She was a person broken a thousand times, formed together only to be broken again. When Katrina sealed the death of a paragon of perfection that, for all his stories of conquest, could never describe what it felt like to lose all hope…

She realized too late that it didn’t make her feel any better.

She realized that smashing another vase would not make hers any less shattered.

As an explosion briefly lit the night sky like a second sun and Dr. MacBeth died, Katrina realized she had only made the world an even darker place.

And for the first time in fifteen years, Katrina Burdinson cried.
Alphaeus's Part:
The stained and cracked plastic seats were specially manufactured for discomfort, he decided. There was, among other creative omissions of design, definitely no headrest for him. David leaned his head back anyway. It merely hung backwards like a broken bobble-head.

He stared at the ceiling fan above him. It creaked. Slowly. Not the rhythmic creak of something that merely needs oil. It was the painfully, infuriatingly slow creak of some pathetic motor that needed to be put out of its misery several decades ago. The blades that might have been white at some point in time crawled through the air, screaming their objections with every single degree of rotation.

He made a mental note to have Altaer renew his pilot’s license online next time. The Air Registry Administration was not exactly the most happening place. Nor the most entertaining.

Once his neck had stretched to the point where he was worried he might not be able to lift his head again, he leaned forward, propping his chin on his hands, and his elbows on his knees. He watched the lady in front of him. Her shoulders indicated that she was rather well muscled for a woman.

She was taking some kind of test; David presumed she was getting her pilot’s license for the first time, at least in this location. He stood stiffly and rubbed his legs. There was no point in looking at the cracked plastic wall clock to determine the time…it would only make him angry.

He walked around the row of chairs and sat down beside the young woman. “How are you doing to far?”

She glanced up at him and shrugged. “Well enough, I suppose. I’m not used to all of these regulations, I’ll say that.”

David nodded slowly. “Ahh. First timer, I’m guessing?”
She laughed and watched him for a moment, seeming to contemplate what she wanted to say. “I’m definitely not a new flyer…just my first time getting a license from a place like this. Anyhow, though, I need to get back to my test if I ever want to get out of here.”

David smiled benignly and looked away. He could sense that she had just withheld something…unusual. What, he could not know, but nevertheless he was certain she had just dodged his question ever so slightly. Odd. Then again, he wasn’t all that far from SP City, so oddities were pretty much the norm in this area.

As she went back to work, David racked his mind for something entertaining. It was times like this when he finally understood why people enjoyed smartphones so much -- a handy diversion would certainly have been more than welcome. The fan gave an especially loud creak, and he ground his teeth, silently cursing whoever called themselves the administrator of this pathetic excuse of a government office.

He suddenly recalled something he had forgotten about. That serum he stole when that Agent had tried to attack him at the Clinic. He had kept it in his jacket ever since then -- his jacket, after all, was the most secure thing he owned. Still, the problem with having a lot of pockets was that one tended to forget what was hidden in all of them. It occurred to him that perhaps making an index of his pockets’ contents could be useful -- a “pocket-book” so to speak.

After several minutes of searching, David finally extracted the cylinder containing the greenish fluid from his jacket. He hefted it in his left hand, pulling out a small notebook and pen with his right hand with which to take notes. For its size, the liquid seemed rather dense and heavy. When he flipped the cylinder upside-down, it languidly oozed under the force of gravity. It was a thick substance…not unlike corn-syrup it its consistency.

He set it carefully on his thigh while he balanced the notebook in his hands, scribbling down what he had just seen.
_______________________________________

Katrina had not been paying much attention to the people around her. She was only doing this because a bit of research had told her if she did not register she would attract a great deal of unwanted attention the next time she tried to fly -- the last thing she needed. The man who had spoken with her seemed as bored as most everyone else in this place, including herself. He was unusually handsome, she had noticed, but didn’t really seem like her type.

What she did notice, however, was the green fluid in the cylinder he was handling. She eyed surreptitiously without lifting her head. Could it be…??

She set down the test hastily and headed for the bathroom. It was, thankfully, a single-toilet affair, which meant that she could lock the door behind her. As soon as she had locked herself into the dingy tiled room, she activated her bodysuit. The place was close to a local air-force base, so she had worn it just in case the unexpected happened. It expanded in an instant, covering her entire body. When it had fully booted, Katrina turned on the scan function.

“AI, I need an evaluation of the contents of the main room here. I’m mainly concerned about the tube held by the man who is sitting in the first row, second chair from the left.”

The AI responded momentarily. “The contents of that tube are a substance of which we have seen traces on other planets, derived from a strange species of alien. It possesses the ability to regenerate both biological and metallic substances.”

The results told her exactly what she had suspected.

One of the substances she needed for her antimatter bomb was inside that tube.

_________________________________

David was relieved to have finally been called up. Experience had told him to have everything he could possibly need ready right when he reached the counter. There were only two attendants working, and only one computer for the entire facility, which slowed him down. Still, in his usual way he was able to convince the rotund clerk to move fast enough to make beads of sweat form between what few wisps of black hair covered the top of his head. He was already walking out to his plane when the same young woman he had spoken to inside ran up beside him. She spoke to him, slightly breathless.

“Sir…Could I have a word with you?”

David turned and smiled at her politely. “Why of course, my dear. How might I help you?”

She caught her breath before continuing to speak. She extended her hand. “My name’s Katrina. I happened to notice that you were handling a tube of some greenish fluid in there.”

David shook her hand, noting the firmness of her grip. “Ah. The Serum. I’m a doctor, you see…Dr. David MacBeth, to introduce myself…and that is something I happened to acquire rather by accident a while back. I had forgotten about it until today. In addition to my practice, I do a great variety of research, and had begun to take some notes on that to pass the time.”

Katrina measured him for a moment. “Alright. So, how much would you sell it for?”

David gave a bemused smile. He gauged her emotions. Again, there was something beneath what she was actually saying to him. If only he could figure out what it was. “I’m sorry, but I really am not interested in selling it. Like I said, I do a great deal of research and this might be quite useful -- besides, there are other factors involved that make me especially desirous to retain possession of it.”

She stepped closer. “I can offer you a great deal, sir. Besides, I can assure you it would be in your interest to accept my offer.”

David sensed the threat behind her words. And the self-confidence. This was not just some young woman. She desperately wanted what he had, and would do whatever she felt was necessary to get it. His face shifted into the impenetrable mask of refined cheerfulness he had mastered over decades. “I’m afraid, Katrina, that I am not one who is prone to vacillate concerning decisions. I can also assure you that I am not one whose interests can be swayed by anything or anyone.”

She snapped up a strange gun from her side, but was standing far too close for her own good. Before she could raise it, David had latched onto his wrist with one hand. At the same time, he launched at punch at her left eyebrow, just slightly to the outside edge.
__________________________________

The two lightning movements from such a seemingly refined and peaceful man caught her off guard, and left her struggling to stay on her feet, gun dangling loose in her hand. Katrina had, clearly, underestimated this fellow. While she tried to make the world stop jumping and spinning and sparkling before her eyes, she could hear the man walking away.

Angrily, she willed herself back into control of her equilibrium. Her vision cleared just in time to see the man closing the cockpit on some kind of large old prop plane. She raised her gun, but he was already heading down the runway and out of range.

She smirked. “If you want a fight, Doctor, I’ll damn well give you one.”
_____________________________________

David was nearly back to his estate when his radio crackled on. “Captain Kendall to Dr. MacBeth, do you read me?”

David smiled, pleased to hear the voice of a friend and Serpent. Viktor might have run off with the bulk of Nehushtan, but David still had connections. “I do indeed, Captain. To what do I owe this honor?”

“Doctor, down here at the air-force base I was watching the radar. Right as you left our airspace an unidentified flyer tagged onto your tail. They were hanging back all the way until you went off radar. Didn’t respond to air-traffic control. Just thought you might like to know.”

David raised his eyebrows. “Thank you, Captain. I’ll look into it. Dr. Macbeth out.”

The woman at the ARA office, her threat, her strange gun...he couldn’t know for certain, but it seemed to him like things added up. A slow smile spread across his lips as he put on his air-mask.

It had been a long time since he had gotten into a dogfight.

Too long.
____________________________

Katrina’s A.C.E. ship was, of course, having no trouble keeping pace with the Doctor’s plane. She could tell that radar had pinged her, and had waiting until she was certain David would stay out of range of the air-force base. She had scanned their weapons when she flew in and knew that they would be far more trouble than she wanted. Now, though, she was closing in on her target.

The sky was strewn with layers of stringy white clouds -- the perfect camouflage. Her guidance systems locked on. She switched her forward gun to AI and targeted each wing -- the “serum” as he had called it needed to go down in one piece.

Before she could fire, however, the AI bleeped momentarily before losing its targeting. She growled and tried to switch it back on. Her targeting screen flickered before dissolving into pure static.

“AI, I need a diagnostic of what is going on.”

“HEPdah blARRRRRRRPP dadinga kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrla WHOOOP BEEEEdeeeeeeerrrrrrr BE-ding fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuSIK!”

The sound vaguely reminded her of something she had read in history books about ancient internet technology. Dial-something…the name didn’t matter know. As she checked her displays, it became obvious that most of her AI’s functions were faulty or failing.

With a growl she spun around and left the cockpit, grabbing her toolbox on the way. She wondered what else could possibly go wrong with her ship. Before she reached the AI’s circuitry panel, however, the A.C.E.’s alarms sounded as it began shaking violently. She tossed the toolbox aside and fled back to the cockpit in time to see the Doctor’s plane fire another volley at her.

She checked the digital readout for her ship’s armor, then swore a blue streak when she realized that it too was garbled.

“That son of a bitch must have some damn good interference tech on board that craft.”

He zipped past her cockpit. She smirked and strapped herself into the Captain’s seat, settling her hands on the controls. Whoever this person thought he was…he had just picked a fight with the wrong lady.
__________________________

David was laughing like a schoolboy on his first high as Katrina began to give chase. He glanced over her shoulder. Whatever kind of freakish plane she was flying, he had the feeling his P - 51D Mustang was outmatched…even with his modifications. He hoped, however, that fact would be exactly what helped him win.

He whipped his plane into an evasive swerving course as bullets began whizzing past him. Her ship -- for the entire lack of observable engines told him that it was some kind of advanced craft -- was on his tail in mere seconds. Her fire was drawing closer to his hull…and he was pretty much out of power for his EM field. In a matter of seconds he would have to turn it off, and her computers would come back online, and he would be nothing more than a giant target.

He jerked his plane upwards into a rolling stall, landing directly behind her craft. At the same time his EM field dropped, he fired off a pair of his air-to-air missiles and laid on his trigger. Four .50 machine guns spat out their LEAP -- light-explosive armor-piercing -- anti-aircraft rounds. He centered all his targets around what appeared to be another swivel canon on the back of her ship.

The impact of missiles paired with another volley of bullets seemed to finally do some damage…but no sooner had his hopes risen then her ship jerked to a complete stop, forcing him to pull straight up.
_____________________

“Laser canon unavailable.”

Katrina nearly had a fit. She lunged from her seat and stomped back to the rear of her ship. The laser was a fried mess…he must have struck it right when the AI was trying to fire it. And that would take far too long to try to repair.

She rubbed her chin, eyeing her scan to make sure he was not drawing back around yet. This Doctor was tricky, but the fact was that he was flying a prop plane. She had the A.C.E. His biggest disadvantage would be speed.

She cracked her knuckles. “I’m not a Pirate Captain because I can’t figure out how to solve a problem. There’s more than one way to skin this cat. AI…Lock onto him and fire three missiles.”

She moved back to her seat casually. No matter what he tried to pull, no ship of hers was going down that easily.
____________________________________

David reached his peak altitude and flipped nose down for a dive just in time to see three tiny dots streaking up towards him.

“Missiles.”

He hated the word. He had stuck to using a vastly outdated plane because it was the absolute best of its kind, and when he and Altaer had retrofitted it there was something to be said about deceiving looks. Still, it was times like now when he partially wished for something a bit more cutting edge.

He toggled his missile controls and grimaced as he launched three intercept missiles. As gravity pulled him into a dive, his missiles did their job and destroyed those that Katrina had fired…but that left him with only one more intercept.

His prop retracted just before his speed broke through the sound barrier, the opened once he had pushed far enough past it to keep them from shattering in the shockwave. He began firing long before he was technically within range. This dive-fire technique was something developed by WWII pilots -- in essence, gravity gave their bullets an infinite range. He only got in a second of firing, however, before he noticed that his rounds were exploding around her ship instead of on it.

“Shields. She’s got shields. Of course she’s got shields.”

He let off the trigger. No point in wasting his ammo. From the slight bending of light he could tell she hadn’t dropped them. He sneered behind his mask. “Poor girl thinks I’m new to this game. By the time you’re my age you learn to out think a person or two.”

As he flashed past her plane and continued in his dive, he was certain the for the briefest moment he was able to sense her emotions.

She surprised him.

She was just like…him.
____________________________

David did surprise her by continuing his dive. From what few things she had read about flight in her time here, prop planes weren’t supposed to be able to break the sound-barrier…but he was doing well over that according to her systems.

She swung her gun down and flipped on her AI targeting for her main canon. It locked on, and she happily pulled the trigger.

This time, it fired.

Nothing happened.

She brought up her gun’s camera to see what was going on.

“DAMMIT!”

David had managed to flip his plane into a horizontal freefall. His plane was level, as if he was flying it, but was falling entirely under the force of gravity and his own momentum. The result was an entirely random course predicted the culmination of thousands of different factors…plus his own controls.

The AI was attempting to trace and predict his path, but because it was purely random was failing to land a hit. She cursed again as she spun the A.C.E. into a dive to follow him down, launching her last two missiles as she kept visual track of his movements.

“AI, activate autopilot and switch gun to manual.”

With the controls in her own hands, she watched his erratic course downwards, then began firing in sweeping crosshatch bursts. David appeared to be watching and adjusted his fall accordingly, launching yet another intercept missile. Except this time there was only one.
___________________

David grimaced as he struggled to maintain some level of control over his plane. Controlled stalling was yet another trick he had learned in the service…but back then there was no such thing as targeting systems. He watched in horror as the second missile she fired pulled closer…closer…CLOSER!

It ripped straight through his port wing, a direct hit to his fuel tank. It did not detonate, but David did not have time to be thankful for this. The sudden impact ripped the plane into a truly uncontrolled spiral. David wrestled the stick desperately while also fighting centrifugal force to shut off his fuel line.

A glance at his altimeter told him that in mere seconds he would hit the ground. With his fuel line finally closed, he placed both hands on his stick and pulled with all his might. A glance out the window told him that he was still over his property…and his lake. The plane finally spun back into control, and he flipped it nose down and retracted his prop for his dive sequence.

The fall had, fortunately, dropped his speed enough for him to safely hit the water. He jerked the stick back as soon as he was underwater -- his lake was deep for the area, but still far from deep enough to accommodate a full-fledged dive. He let momentum drag him down at a shallow angle, careful to stay far enough away from the bottom to avoid snags.

His breathing gradually slowed as he relaxed. Death had nearly struck up there. He was no stranger to death, but in the end he was far from fearless. His supposed fearlessness was merely a suppressing of his fears…not a freedom from them. Now that he was underwater he extended the prop so that he could maneuver. Water had filled his spare fuel tank, providing extra weight and drag. Still, he could feel the vibrations of Katrina’s bullets detonating above him in the water. Because water did not compress like air, he had no way of gauging how close they were…for all he knew, they could reach him even ninety feet underwater. The lake was a murky brown, which made it impossible to see…especially when his prop stirred up the silt from the bottom.

His mind spun. The only way he stood a chance of downing her ship was by dropping her shields. He had planned on waiting for his EM field to recharge…but her missile had made that option a moot point. Now, though, the dial told him that it was full.

A thought occurred to him, and he laughed grimly.

Either he died…or things were going to work out just fine.
________________

Katrina hovered over the water, waiting. Her scans told her that somehow he was not only alive down there, but that his plane was still running. Water was the only place the A.C.E. was no equipped to travel, and Katrina made a mental note to adjust that as soon as she got back to her own time.

To pass the time while he waited, she moved back to tinker with the laser. She doubted she’d have the time or supplies enough to fix it now, but she could at least make some progress. The AI broke her concentration.

“The Target has gained speed rapidly. He is ascending to the surface -- attack anticipated.”

Katrina raced back to her controls. “Raise shields!”

As his plane erupted from the water in a geyser of bubbles, her whole ship was rocked by a massive wave of energy. She clamped her hands onto her chair, watching as her shields and systems were overloaded, only to have the ship rocked once again by a series of six rapid blasts to her hull and a barrage of bullets. His plane flew directly past her cockpit, and for the briefest instant Katrina could have sworn she saw him waving cheerfully.

“Permission to board?”

At the sound of his voice she jumped from her seat. One hand froze, clenched on the back of her headrest. David stood right behind her, a rifle leveled at her. He was smiling, apparently quite pleased with himself.

She stared him down for a moment, then raised her bracelet as she drew her pistol. His pair of rapid fire shots were stopped by her shield, giving her time to return fire. He lunged to the side, but her bolts of plasma bit into his right shoulder, sending the rifle skittering across the floor.

He rolled to his feet inside the tight place and flung a knife at her with his left hand. The larger and slower object passed straight through her shield and dug into her ribs. She gasped, but the act of breathing sent waves of pain through her body. She clenched her jaw, pushing through the pain and blasting apart David’s rifle just before he was able to grab it again.

He lept away from the blast and flung another knife. She hurled herself to the floor on her back, crying out as the force jarred the blade that was still in her. She grasped and ripped it out in a burst of adrenaline. The world around her wavered for just a second, but she was no stranger to the pain of combat. She drew her own sword in time to swat away another knife thrown by the Doctor, then lunge forward with her own attack.

He drew a knife to parry her blow, but was hampered by having only one good arm. With his free hand occupied, Katrina fired her pistol from her other hand into his chest. The man crumpled to the ground…and then vanished.

She limped to the locker containing her medical supplies. She coughed, wincing in pain as the taste of blood filled her mouth. There was no way to mistake what that meant -- she was operating on one lung now. As she mended herself, she called out to her system.

“AI?”

The system responded instantly. At least that was back online. She had to speak between breaths now.

“Find and…destroy…our…target. NOW.”
_____________

David patted his old Warbird lovingly before he walked away. They had met and fought a space-ship of all things…and lived to tell the tale. He would need a new pair of superconducting batteries for his EM fields now -- activated them in the water had resulted in an instant and complete discharge of their power, blowing out their coils. Still, that was a small sacrifice.

“Thatta girl. We’re gonna live to see another day.”

His confidence, however, was shattered by a sudden pain in his chest. He collapsed against the side of his plane’s hull as his hands clenched at his chest. His mouth moved through a variety of shapes, but produced nothing more than wheezing as the pain spread down his left arm.

He fumbled frenetically in his jacket for his nitro pills, and popped them under his tongue. In a moment, once he was able to take a deep breath, he followed them with a shot of endorphins.

His Reflection had just been killed, and he had just had a heart attack.

Katrina was not dead.

The fight was not over.

As the hormones flooded through his body and dulled the pain, combined with his own natural adrenaline, he unsheathed his rifle and generated a new pair of Reflections. Running to his munitions locker, he hastily unlocked the door and activated the hydraulics that lifted the massive armored door open. He grabbed a small box and passed it around himself. There was one simple word written on the box.

Aeropyre.

He headed outside. Katrina, he knew, would have been able to track him down. Her AI would probably have not stayed down for long…whatever energy source she had, it would certainly be able to withstand the blast from his own little batteries.

The cold air bit into his skin, and he instantly regretted not having worn his actual pilot’s gear…but his airplane had a heated cockpit, so he had not anticipated needing it. It mattered little. He would be victorious or dead in a matter of minutes.

Her ship hurled into view almost faster than his eyes could follow. It jerked to a complete stop. For the first time David realized that the ship had been built to look like a giant raven with wings spread forward. All in all it was a rather attractive craft. He noticed the rotary gun mounted under her hull swivel towards his hanger. David growled his response through clenched teeth.

“Not on my land you don’t!”

He stood and began firing his complete store of HEAP -- high-explosive armor-piercing -- rounds he had in his rifle. He burned through all 26 bullets his rifle held, then chambered his Aeropyre round. His first Reflection stood, and did the same. Her gun spun towards it and spat out a quick burst of rounds. His Reflection ran, buying enough time to fire the Aeropyre round, but David was stunned by the explosive power of her ammunition. Huge craters were carved out by each shot. As his first Reflection was ripped to shreds by the firing, David fell to his knees.

Blood ran from his entire body in slow trickles as the capillaries in his skin burst under the stress, making him literally sweat blood. His felt something loose inside his abdomen, and realized he was hemorrhaging. Another round of injections -- adrenaline, endorphins, coagulants, and hemoglobin -- brought him back to his feet. His second Reflection managed to use Katrina’s own attack as cover for his own, and escaped unscathed. David watched approvingly as the metal under her hull shivered like an unfastened tent under the second Aeropyre round.

David jumped to his feet and stepped into the open, his footfalls crunching the dry winter grass ever so slightly as his eyes focused down the barrel of his rifle. His finger twitched on the trigger, and his own Aeropyre round hurtled towards Katrina’s ship.

Upon impact the electrochemical explosive did its work, starting a chain reaction based off of the same principles as lightning. The fireball, electrical discharge, and intense shockwave did their work, and the hull finally split open. David raced for cover as the craft slid forward like a plate set upon an uneven table, slowly nosing into the ground as if it was merely falling asleep.

He waved his remaining Reflection forward as the hatch popped open. It had reloaded and began firing now, expecting to pin her down inside the craft.

Instead, she leapt out nimbly, seeming to ignore the attacks. Her entire body was covered with some kind of exoskeleton, and David grit his teeth. He had cracked one nut just to find another inside.

She raced towards the Reflection with astounding speed and split it in two with a blade that formed out of her left hand. David wavered slightly on his feet. This time there was no drastic pain…only a dull throbbing in his head, a flickering of his senses. He rushed to give himself even more shots. His brain was bruising from this level of stress now…

He himself stepped out. “Katrina!”
_________________________

She turned to face him and prepared to attack. She knew she had just killed David…three times. The first time in the ship she had dismissed it as some kind of teleportation technology, and perhaps she had not killed him. Now, though…she had killed him twice. There was no doubt in her mind.

Doubts, however, began to swirl as two more Davids appeared beside him as he spoke to her. She whispered to her AI, “Scan these attackers.”
The response was swift. “These are identical…not just identical, my scan shows them to be the same being. All three bodies belong to this one man.”
How…?? She hesitated for just a moment, which bought David enough to for all three of them to fire in sync.

They force of their coordinated explosive rounds downed her suit’s shields, and the next volley flung her backwards into the concrete walls of his hangar. She nearly smashed through the walls, only to be hit by another volley, and another.

They were targeting her arms and legs now, interrupting her movements and slowly breaking down her exoskeleton. By the fifteenth volley the power in her suit finally went down, and she collapsed. The Davids continued to fire, this time aiming at her torso…at the exact spot he had stabbed in her A.C.E.

Her breathing felt wet now, and she was becoming dizzy. It registered now that he had stopped firing, and she tried to deactivate her suit and rise to her feet. No sooner had her suit retracted, however, than two pairs of hands grabbed her.

She swung her sword blindly, and felt it hit something. She heard a scream from in front of her, and then something hard on the back of her head toppled her into an endless abyss of pounding blackness.
_________________________________

David tried to lift himself, but failed. His body was going into medical shock, and shutting down. His last Reflection came running, and gave him a series of injections and pills. It generated another Reflection to replace the one Katrina had just beheaded, then hefted David up onto its shoulders to head into his house. He had a full array of medical equipment there, and would be able to stop himself from dying.

As his original body slipped into semi-consciousness, his focus shifted to the Reflection that was still in the field with Katrina. He bent down to her and felt her side. Her treatment of it was good, but rudimentary. He sat down on the cold earth, and lifted her tenderly into his lap. After making sure he had fully disarmed her, he grabbed onto her hand fiercely, and willed her to feel no pain and no fear.

He had never used these new powers before, and was unprepared for the result. His own body trembled under the stress of taking on her pain and fear, and replacing it with comfort and peace.

Her eyes fluttered open as his own vision spun. He struggled to maintain his balance, and smiled down on her as his vision slowly cleared. She stared at him, her drive to fight effectively eliminated by his empathy.

David stroked her short, silky hair. “There now. No harm done. Well, at least to you.”
________________________

Katrina failed to fully understand him for a moment as her mind put together the pieces of what had happened. She was totally at peace right now…not even slightly afraid of the strange and mystical man that had just been trying to kill her. It occurred to her that she felt no pain.

“Did you heal me?”

David laughed. It was a weary sound, but relieved. “No, Katrina. I’ve made you feel better, but I’ll need to treat you. I am, thankfully, a Doctor.”

She stared at him. “Why aren’t you trying to kill me?”

He grinned. “Well now, I respect a fight well done. Besides, doing that now would be a bit under-handed of me. I might be tricky in combat, but I still follow the rules of war. You’re a damned hard lady to kill, you know that?”

As he helped her to her feet, she snorted and rolled her eyes, glad that David had somehow removed all of her pain. “Easy for you to say. I killed you -- what, four times? -- and you’re still here. I’m still not sure whether I should be awed, curious, or straight-up freaked out.”

He wrapped an arm around her shoulders, chuckling as they walked towards a massive white marble mansion. “Well, you destroyed some of my bodies -- or Reflections, rather -- but you didn’t kill me. In fact -- well, actually, nevermind. I can tell you more later, if you want. For now, let’s get you fixed up. Besides…”

He looked over at her and winked. “Unless you want to remain a respected enemy, I think we just might be able to work out some kind of deal about that serum…although on MY terms, this time.”

Katrina stared at him, unsure of how to even make sense of this man. His long red hair and emerald earrings suggested some kind of tender and fashion-obsessed businessman. Inside though…he was a warrior. A pilot. A leader. Ruthless in war, shrewd in dealings.

He was a lot like her.

Alphaeus
01-08-2017, 04:38 PM
(ummm...bump?)

Awesome fight, btw. I had a blast!

Kamiroo Wolf
01-08-2017, 06:09 PM
Wooooooooooo, just read Devour's part and I gotta say... I regret not reading a lot more of the battles around here. They're so good!

The only constructive criticism I can give is that the grammar and sentence structure was a bit choppy here and there with sentences that could have been be combined, punctuation that felt(and was) unnecessary, and other minor details that disrupted the flow of an otherwise great story! The characters were captured well(at least I feel so) and the way each of them were portrayed delighted me to the point where I found myself interested and yearning to know more about both of them. The ending felt a bit... odd to me(a tad bit anticlimactic and unfitting for a character like David if you will), but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Great work, Devour!

Aaaaaaaand back a bit later. Just finished Alph's part!

I personally dislike The Doctor from a character standpoint and went into this story looking for stuff to nitpick and frown at, but I have to say through and through the work was solid and I enjoyed it immensely! There were little, negligible grammar mistakes(only to be expected in every story) here and there, sure, but my only real issues with the writing were the parts that would have made more sense if I had been following The Doctor's/Nehushtan's story(No clue what the serum issue was about, though it made me think of Gus, Sanctuary's scientist who may or may not have access to a similar substance) and the ending, which I honestly found a bit unsatisfying and expected(though still a good one). All in all, the story was solid and the action within was riveting. Excellent work, Alphaeus!

As for my vote... I'm actually going to give it to Devour. Though the ending and action was a bit on the lighter side in her story, the characters really drew me in a way that allowed me to enjoy the ride more than I did in Alphaeus'(I even ended up skimming a few parts, sorry). However, the work and time each of you put into both stories is greatly appreciated, and I look forward too seeing more from each of you!

Sorry if my review of the stories was shit, I'm still working on this whole feedback thing.

Devour
01-14-2017, 09:36 PM
Thanks Kamiroo :) Yeah, I thought up a better ending like 3 days after posting the thread and I'm kicking myself for not doing it. It really was kinda anti-climactic. I appreciate that you posted too!

I never made a post myself... Alph, I totally loved how you depicted Katrina in your part :o The story itself was pretty dang good. I wouldn't have minded the dogfight part going on for longer, which was the gimmick of our whole thing, though I guess mine didn't have a ton of dogfighting either. Since I was a participant I read your part for enjoyment over C&C, so I haven't really picked out any C&C or whatever. But it was a super fun battle and I'm glad we matched.

I'm also saddened by how few people voted or commented on this. It's kind of discouraging honestly, since i put a lot of work into my story and think both of these parts are super rad. If the turnout is so small compared to the number of people who viewed the thread, was all that work worth it? Outside of the fun of writing the story itself of course, but the thoughts remain... Will the turnout be like this every time? Do I want to write the best I can and only have 1 person C&C it? Idk mang...

Urako
01-14-2017, 09:40 PM
I read it. I don't have much to say, but I want you to know Devour that I read both of the stories and I thought they were awesome. I don't have any CnC because you guys are some of the best and i really don't have anything to say. I guess the real reason why i'm posting this is to say don't lose heart. More people read this than you think. They just don't always comment and vote.

Crank
01-14-2017, 09:42 PM
You changed the fonts. You changed the fonts?! THE FUCK, MAN

ErrorBlender
01-14-2017, 10:00 PM
Woop.

I had read both stories like a day after it released but I put off voting for a bit thinking on who to vote for. I only realized I've put it off for so long but I'm happy I made it. Anyway, here we go.

Devour:
Katrina was more in focus here and felt more like a short story than a battle (despite a dog fight taking place in it) and it felt nice to read. Character development here was good, I loved how it all ended the way it did. Even if David was more of a plot device here used to spur on Katrina's own progress as a person, I felt as if this was okay. This was alright. Not all battles need to focus so hard on each gladiator but just enough to give them character as to not simply denounce them as props. David and Katrina were done well here, if I may say, and it through the days that I procrastinated, I would think which story better left a mark.

Alphaeus:
You write well, kudos to you on that. Its long (no problem there, I just felt the need to mention) but has a lot of bits that keep you hooked. I felt as if nothing happened though. It was just another day in being David. An awesome day, but just another day.

Verdict:
Both stories were written well, no doubt there. In the weeks that did go for me lazily easing the responsibility to vote into the corner of my mind, Devour's piece struck me as more memorable. In the end, I go for how much I enjoyed reading a story. So, it goes to Devour.

Crank
01-14-2017, 10:54 PM
I appreciate that as soon as I finished both stories, the theme song of Devour's side instantly played (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SU3ArjPSBoI). Well, the chorus at least, for the beginning at least.

Anyway!

Devour: I don't know much about planes, but I think I was able to follow your piece very well. I liked the characterization of the gladdies and thought the ending was extremely well done, but the battle itself seemed to be missing... something. Maybe it was just that it had so much buildup but the Pirate was never in any true danger. The one thing I kinda took issue with was why the Doc was hunting her. Sure, she was a bitch, and sure, I'd be pissed if someone checked 'no' on my 'Wanna be friends' note, but it's not a hunt down an out-of-this-world craft and attack level offense. Motivation matters to me, a whole lot, and as well written as it was, it left an iffy feeling in my mouth through the story.

Alph: Yours was also extremely well written, but I did get lost a few times and had to reread some things several times in desperate hope of understanding (Doc's copy in Kat's ship, for example). Also, the perspective shifts were a bit to frequent for me. Once in a while is fine, but rapid use of the underscore kinda felt like cheating. It also made it tricky to connect to them. With Devour, while I didn't like the motive, as someone who works food, people straight piss me right the fuck off a few times a week, so it's a feeling I recognize, but I can't form a bond with 'Cool, dogfight,' or attempted burglary. I think if you held onto one over the other, it would've glided to more connection to the characters, but with the cuts, I didn't feel close to either.

In the end, I'm giving Top Gun to Devour. Both were really well written, it's just that with his, I got a more stable picture

Alphaeus
01-17-2017, 09:42 AM
Yeah, I think I screwed up. Hence why I've gone back to Altaer. I need to get a grip on things.

Anyhow, awesome battle.

Now...

@Dvor

Collab time. Theme: Freaking the shit out of Katrina. Just like we discussed. :D