Pegasus Faces Planet Chimera

Pegasus drifts. A story inspired by this image by Daren Horley.

Pictonaut short story for August 2013.

Pegasus drifted, serene before chaos. Dead ahead Chimera loomed large, brooding and immense. It was relatively passive, retaining some calm before it stormed.

Commander Rophon looked out to the planet. She meditated for several moments. At last she came out of reveries, blinked her wide eyes and braced herself. Flexing fingers, breathing deep and settling herself firmly into the pilot’s seat, she commenced to initiate procedures.

Alert eyes scanned the vidscreens and monitors. Swift system checks indicated all was A-okay, the ship in optimal condition.

Ready? Yes, I’m ready she reassured herself.

Downloaded implants played over and over in her head to corroborate her conviction. You are strong, Bella whispered the memories imparted at Athena Base. Belief. Believe and triumph is yours. Believe and you will achieve immortality.

To achieve immortality – an endeavour worth crossing galaxies for.

Switches switched, drives engaged and the steering console shifted. The spacecraft angled itself in response and Rophon guided it upward and away from the orbital ring of satellite meteorites.

Pegasus turned gracefully. Its rear solar panel fins glided into position as the fore concave bowl dragged round rays from the nearest sun. The great shining shape then came to a rest, aimed directly at the tumultuous, tremendous target objective.

Pegasus faced Chimera and Chimera faced Pegasus.

The consciousness of the planet stirred and acknowledged the arrival. The surface shook, gas clouds whirling and churning as the celestial shape rose and riled in escalating wrath.

Chimera did not appreciate visitors and Chimera was angry. Rophon resolved to hold firm in spite of the sight of growing cosmic discord before her. Pegasus, in turn, also held firm.

The planet read the ship’s will and revolted. All at once it exhaled a warning. A hostile snarl pulsed out into the blackness. Pegasus remained unmoved. No, thought Rophon. In chorus with the sprite voices wired into her mind she sang, with strength and belief comes triumph over adversity. Believe and triumph is yours. Believe and you will achieve immortality.

Incensed at such obstinacy, Chimera hurled fury. It heated and roiled, turmoil roaring across its foreboding facade. Violent flux flashed across its face and alternated between hideous phantasmal aspects. Like a growling king lion then morphing into the nightmare shape of an abominable goat spewed out of Hades. Finally, Rophon came to discern the image of a serpent, whipping, spitting and biting out viciously at her vessel.

Pegasus sat in place. Rophon sat firm. Strength. Belief. Triumph over adversity. Immortality. All the enlightened numinous voices echoed inside, sublime electric confidence surging through synapses.

The monstrous body boiled over and shoomed in an immense intake of breath in the midst of a void but Pegasus’ powerful anti-gravity thrusters held it steady against the enormous suck. The rings of Chimera reverberated and roamed around, oscillating and then forced from their stable orbit.

The debris shot downwards towards the surface to be swallowed by the atmosphere, punching holes in noxious clouds as they plummeted. All was consumed by ferocious fog and the thunderstorm flurries thrashing across the entire planet, alive and apoplectic as its core churned fresh fever beneath. Claimed by the grasping planet, reams of ice and rock passed by Pegasus, the craft unmoved in spite of the phenomena.

With a sudden howl that traversed the deathly silence of the surrounding Ly-Cia system, Chimera creased in upon itself, convulsed and unleashed its explosive ire. With volcanic vigour on an incomprehensible scale it fired a blast of matter – molten flame, hard ice and burning gas blazes – directly at Pegasus.

Rophon looked into doom cast through the vacuum. It came right at her at rapid speed, fired with all the fury and hate the hostile planet could summon up from its bitter centre. Remember Bella, the voices reminded, forever blessing her senses, undying and eternal. Strength. Belief. Triumph over impossible adversity. Immortality.

Rophon floated in place, defiant. Pegasus floated in place, defiant.

Scorching discharge crashed upon the concave bowl, ice and fire smashing upon the mirror surface extending out of the craft’s structure.

It swept right around the inside of the basin, waves of aggressive energy spreading out across the dome. The rocks riding along the deflected tides were scattered, broken down into insignificant fragments as Pegasus pushed back the assault.

In streams and torrents the concave structure directed the bombardment back towards its source. The gush raced around the bowl and flowed ever-faster towards the offensive planet that had expelled it.

Chimera continued to cast it all out and, in return, Pegasus repelled it all. All of Chimera’s hostility returned back to its origin as Rophon and her vessel held unharmed.

The source body was overwhelmed, engulfed by its own outpouring. The unceasing assault that Pegasus had so gracefully guided back suffocated and swiftly started to swamp the billowing surface.

The sentience of Planet Chimera was surprised, stunned at its own vulnerability and shocked at the sudden loss of self-mastery. Its core unstable, the vast body shuddered. An ugly myriad of leonine, serpentine and bestial visions broke through the violence of the surface clamour and cried out in pain. In burning, broiling spasms Chimera’s persona broke down and all its matter collapsed.

As the immense abomination imploded and the blast abated, Pegasus released itself and retreated from the fray. With an agile revolution, Commander Bella Rophon achieved a safe distance from her adversary and powered up the hyperdrive. Switches switched, drives engaged and the steering console shifted. A hasty systems scan confirmed all was A-okay. Rophon murmured the mantras and made to move on.

Strength. Belief. Triumph over impossible adversity. Immortality.

Pegasus swooped and with a clean swish shot off into hyperspace, faster than light towards star systems closer to home.

Crippled, Chimera collapsed into cataclysm and lost consciousness. In its last gasps the perishing planet coughed up great clouds of dust, ice and rocky matter, painting its demise across the empty expanse of space. Its remains would linger for a long time yet, records of triumph over seemingly impossible adversity written in the stars.

A triumph written in the stars by Bella Rophon, commander of the Pegasus. She had strength. She had belief. Now, she had immortality.

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  1. Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘Pegasus Faces Planet Chimera’… | ENTER... JAMES CLAYTON

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