The Wolf and the Hare (Part Four)

A tale of The Light Years War.

(c) 2015 Thomas F. Brown, All Rights Reserved.

This material may not be reproduced in any form without the expressed written consent of the author.

Rennai Government Underground Bunker,
Shijian Southern Continent

Lowe regained consciousness – having no idea how he lost it in the first place – sitting in the front seat of a small electric cart. To his left sat a total stranger in rust-brown military uniform. This man, the cart’s driver, operated the vehicle with a joystick instead of a steering wheel. The only pedal at his command was a small one near the man’s right foot. A brake, Lowe realized. The speed of the cart had to be controlled by the position of the joystick. The only other item on the cart he didn’t recognize was a blinking red light. Its purpose he couldn’t guess, but there was strange fascination in the constant flicker of crimson light. Staring at the thing, it was some time before he realized his surroundings. Now he noticed that the air was warm, almost too warm given his current winter garb. Glancing about at the vast underground spaces around the moving cart, he reflected that no one could possibly heat such an area so effectively.

How far north are we?” he asked suddenly, concluding that they must be a lot closer to the planet’s equator than before. It was winter in the southern hemisphere, after all.

“Far enough,” was the low-voiced reply.

For the first time, Lowe took a close look at his surroundings. What had at first seemed to be odd, ill-lit shapes within a cavernous chamber suddenly resolved into endless rows of swept-wing aircraft. Although they were hard to see in the gloom, Lowe could make out their trim shape, and small size. They were so small, that he couldn’t see how a man could get into one, much less fly it. Under each wing, he could see the trim shape of the G-bombs.

“This is it,” a voice said from behind him. Lowe half turned in his seat to see Shau-chi smiling at him.

“I don’t believe it,” Lowe said, facing front again. His stomach churned at the thought of what it all meant. Was the world really coming to an end? Was the government really that stupid?

“You will. When all that’s left of Shijian is this underground bunker, you’ll feel differently. “

“How can you expect to survive when the bombs start dropping? These bombs, especially.” Lowe indicated the fighter craft with his left hand.

“This bunker-complex,” Shau-chi replied evenly, “is equipped with its own gravity-control. No matter what happens to the world, we will survive.”

“You sound so sure. Has it ever been tested?”

There was no reply. Lowe turned around, and gave Sham-chi a worried look.

“No,” the man admitted after a long pause.

“This whole thing’s just a wild guess, isn’t it?”

“Of course it’s been worked out properly. We wouldn’t commit ourselves to a war otherwise. “

“Yet there’s been no testing.”

“It’ll work, trust me.”

“Come on now, who do you think you’re talking to, an ignorant savage?”

“Sorry. It’s just that we don’t fully understand the process yet. We’re still only copying machines found in that spaceship. “

“You’re only… . Do you mean to say that you haven’t worked out the full mathematical model of the process?”

“We were hoping you could help us out with that.”

“A little late for that isn’t it? I mean, suppose I discover that this bunker’s just so much wishful thinking. Will you going to call-off the war?”

“No. As you say, it’s already too late,” Shan-chi replied. “In another hour, this whole fleet of spaceplanes will be launched. The enemy’s already made their move. War’s certain now.”

A thought that had been nagging Lowe returned now.

“Why do you suppose the Shizi would send their fleet all the way out of the solar-system, then back? “

“Testing the ships perhaps, or training the pilots.”

“Don’t be a fool,” Lowe shot back.

“Why? Who else could it be?”

“You mean you can’t guess? ” Lowe couldn’t believe the other man was that thick-headed.

“What? Some sort of alien invasion? I thought you had better sense than that.”

“Worse than any alien force,” Lowe replied, reluctant to say the thing that was on his mind, but unable to remain silent.

“What?” Shau-chi demanded, irritation clear in his voice.

“Earthmen,” Lowe said, the word barely audible.

“And why in the world would they bother to come here after all this time?”

“I don’t know,” Lowe said thoughtfully, his heart pounding and his mind a whirl.  “Repossession, perhaps?”

To be continued…

Go to Part Five

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