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Armageddon 2420 A.D.!: A Sequel to The Airlords of Han [MultiFormat]
eBook by S. A. Gorden

eBook Category: Science Fiction
eBook Description: When the Han Return, Rogers Takes to Space! An all new novel continuing the classic science fiction adventures Armageddon 2419 A.D.! and The Airlords of Han. When the supposedly exterminated Han attack Earth from Space, Anthony Rogers, better known as Buck, follows up on clues in The Airlords of Han suggesting America's evil conquerors were descendents of an alien race. Soon Rogers is at the control of one of America's fastest spaceships on his way to Mars, Callisto and beyond in a desperate race prevent Earth's reconquest by an even greater menace than the Han. Meanwhile, Roger's wife, Wilma Deering, the female supersoldier of the future, stays behind to organize Earth's defenses, where she faces her own challenges and perils. Superscientific weapons, space battles, romance, villains, heroes, Armageddon 2420 A.D., is a worthy sequel to the original adventures of Anthony Rogers in the Twenty-Fifth Century as penned by the late, great Philip Francis Nowlan.

eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/PageTurner, Published: 2005
Fictionwise Release Date: December 2005


7 Reader Ratings:
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PROLOGUE

By now you should be familiar with my story. I was trapped in a mine filled with radioactive gas in 1927. In a state of suspended animation, I survived until the gas evaporated nearly five hundred years later in 2419. I woke to a world conquered and controlled by the Han with their advanced technologies and their great floating cities. Americans had survived hundreds of years as savages scattered though the great re-forested North American continent. They had learned from the Han and explored beyond the stagnant science that the Han had used hundreds of years earlier to conquer the world. They were ready to take back their country.

I was able to help in the overthrow of the Han in the Second American Revolution. Having lived through the World War, I had learned the basics of large scale military operations. The principles of war didn't change with the use of disintegrator and repeller rays, missile guns, jump belts made of inertron and the harnessing of sub-atomic forces. The Americans needed practical experience to complement the new ultra science that they developed.

The first person I saw after escaping the mine was Wilma Deering of the Wyoming Gang. We married months later during the fighting with the Han. She has not left my side. Wilma has made my new life worth living.

There have been many stories about the wars with the Han. I wrote two stories about how I arrived in the Twenty-fifth Century and my part in the Second American Revolution only after being asked so often by friends and family. I finished my last tale with the freeing of the world from the Han. The last Han city was destroyed the same week Wilma told me she was pregnant. Gerdi Rogers was born seven months and seven days later. Four years later Anthony was born. Five more years passed to bring us to the beginning of this story.

Without the Han, the world has expanded. The Bad Bloods and some from the Gangs have started towns and even cities but the majority of the Gangs still lived and worked in their hidden camps. The weight of years of oppression has not worn off and most are only comfortable in their original communities. Wilma's and my home is with the Wyoming Gang, but we both have taken on Boss roles with the continent's security forces. This means that we spend much of the year at our Grand Canyon Training Base or traveling across the world. Wilma is the overall Boss for the Rapid Deployment Forces, RDF. I can't just order people. I have to be there. I am the Boss of our shock troops.

* * * *
A SPECK IN THE SKY

I had just finished a training session with our new self-contained space swooper when I first heard about the speck. There is a limit, caused by air friction, on how fast you can fly a swooper in the atmosphere. With our new swoopers, we can travel outside the atmosphere and fly to the other side of the world in a matter of hours.

The day started out with the crystal clear air of a desert morning. The two-man training swooper stood at the end of the field. It had a cigar shaped fuselage over thirty feet long with stubby triangular shaped wings starting in the middle of the fuselage. A small rudder was in back and two small triangular winglets were at the nose. Two large scoops were under the wings for the two powerful jet engines that powered the craft in the atmosphere. A rocket engine placed in the middle of the fuselage was used for power outside of the atmosphere.

My training pilot was a young woman, Mary Adams, who had been flying space swoopers for the last year. She would sit to my right and slightly behind my position near the front of the craft. The swooper was made with inertron and balanced so it had a weight of only a few pounds along the keel of the craft. We climbed in and attached our equipment, including an air supply hose to our enclosed helmets. These were a safety measure if the cockpit lost pressure. I grabbed the joystick and turned the key. The jets screamed to life. A push on the joystick and the swooper was speeding down the runway and airborne. I started to edge the throttle up and the jets rumbled to a purring sound. The large air scoops worked better the faster the swooper traveled, so the fuel gauge trembled a notch below the full mark as we climbed higher. In a few minutes the gauge seemed to lose its downward motion as the swooper got into its flying zone.

We think of day as a time when there is light everywhere around us. This is because all of the individual atoms in the atmosphere scatter light from the sun in all directions. This is true with flying, as long as you are still in the atmosphere. A half hour into my test flight the sky started to darken as the air thinned. A velvet black filled with a smattering of stars bright enough to show through filled the cockpit windows in all directions except for directly at the sun. The sky darkened and the swooper trembled as the sensors on the jet engines told the swooper that there was not enough air for them to continue to run. The jets engines turned off and the rocket engine started. I pushed the joy stick and suddenly we were above the earth and looking down at a large blue planet. I could see the outline of the eastern coast of the continent, the curve of Florida to the right and the head of Maine to the left. I whooped for joy and my training pilot laughed. "It happens the first time with everyone. Seeing with your own eyes, what you have only seen before on a globe. You have to yell with joy."

"How many times for you?"

"This is about my three hundredth time above the atmosphere." With a sigh she added, "Rotate and slow down. It's time to head back."

The swooper is so light and fast that like skipping a stone on a pond it could bounce off the atmosphere and into space. I used maneuvering rockets to flip the swooper around so the main engine was pointing in our direction of travel and slowed us down. As we slowed into the atmosphere, I flipped back and pointed the nose a couple of degrees down. When I felt the wings start to bite into the atmosphere, I turned slowly to the North. We made a lazy turn across Canada and to the Pacific before heading southeast to the Grand Canyon Base. I loved flying through the buttes surrounding the Canyon and weaved the swooper around the base. Letting the swooper rise and fall in the thermal air currents of midday, I did a short victory roll before landing.

We left the swooper laughing. At the pilots lounge, I showered the sweat off and drank a gallon of water. With a little flourish, my test pilot gave me a signed card saying I was certified for space flight and a tiny pin with a thunderbolt piercing a globe, the insignia of a space trained pilot.

"Thank you Mary." I removed my pin with wings from my shirt and replaced it with the thunderbolt.

I had just entered the command center when Dr. Huer pulled me aside.

"Tony, I found something in our new telescope."

The telescope was a special project that Dr. Huer insisted on starting last year. Felix Carlisle from the Delaware Gang was the best engineer that I know. When I put him together with Huer ideas become fact. Felix first cast a thirty meter disk of inertron and placed it spinning on what was for all essential purposes a large potter's wheel. Slowly they poured molten glass on the rotating disk and let the glass cool. The centripetal forces of the spin pulled most of the molten glass to the outside rim of the disk. The result was a perfectly curved thirty meter base for a mirror. They covered the surface with a perfectly smooth coating of aluminum and the mirror was finished. Dr. Huer and Felix built the rest of the telescope around the mirror. Using a new process that made inertron wire into long nano-fibers, they braided the nano-fibers into three one-hundred-mile cables. The three cables were anchored to three sides of a nearby mountain with the telescope clamped to its peak. Every evening the telescope would be unclamped and massive dynamos would crank out eighty miles of cable. The weightless inertron telescope would float above the atmosphere take perfectly clear pictures of the stars, sending them to television and projectoscope screens back on Earth. At the end of the day's viewing, the dynamos attached to the cables would pull the telescope back to earth. Dr. Huer already had plans for an ultrascope with an aperture twice as large.

Dr. Huer was panting in excitement. He pulled me to a backroom where he had a table filled with photos.

"Look. Look. Look," he said.

There were a series of photos with dates across the top. They looked like all the other night sky photos that I had seen. But each photo had one speck of light circled with a red crayon. I looked very carefully at the speck and finally saw that it was moving and changing directions from the other points of light on the film. The speck also seemed to glow brighter on occasion with a plume of yellow light bursting from its side.

Dr. Huer had now changed from "look" to "see, see, see."

"A spacecraft?"

"Yes, a spacecraft."

"How big?"

"No more than a quarter of a mile across. The rocket plume is throwing off our estimates."

"Do you have any idea as to what it is doing?"

"It seems to be mining the asteroids. We have some other pictures following the spaceship's path that show a few small asteroids have disappeared."

"We need to learn more."

"I've asked Felix to add extended fuel and air tanks to our newest two-man space swoopers. We were thinking of sending a squadron of three swoopers equipped with our new long distance ultrascopes. The extended tanks should give the swoopers a three week travel time. A one week's travel should put the swoopers just within ultrascope range of the spaceship. This will give them a week to travel back and a few days observing the craft."

Ultrascopes are based on our ability to work with the subatomic elements that make up everything in the universe. Our subatomic or ultra science is what gave us the technical edge in our war with the Han. Subatomic frequencies travel through ordinary matter and our ultrascopes use those frequencies to see farther distances than ordinary telescopes and to even see inside objects. Our newest ultrascopes more than doubled the range of the original designs.

I was so stunned by what I heard all I did was nod my head. I got on a secure ultraphone and called Wilma. She agreed that we needed a council of Bosses. To both of us, a spacecraft meant other life in the universe was on its way to contact us or that the Han had come back. Either way it was something every Boss needed to know.

It took only a few hours for all the Bosses on the North American continent to conference over the ultraphone network. The last Boss to arrive on the network was in Canada. He had been on a lake fishing when the emergency conference was called. Each Boss had a special room with walls paneled with projectoscreens. The full-size wall screens gave every Boss the ability to see and interact with every other Boss, even if they were physically on the other side of the continent. It was possible to walk up to the screen and look the other fellow eye to eye. The whole group was cautious about taking any steps beyond a carefully phrased alert to all security forces. But a few Gangs, the Wyomings, Delawares, Susquarmas, Colorado Union and the RDF decided to go to a full alert. No one said it but everyone feared that the spacecraft was Han.

During the ten days it took for the swoopers to be modified and arrive on station partway to the asteroid belt, Wilma and I traveled around the world to the Bosses of the world's other RDF forces. Miguel Sanchez, the RDF Boss for South America was our first stop.

Miguel was a short little man with a fiery temper. He was also one of my best friends outside of North America. He had a meal cooked just for us. It was the one thing I couldn't stand. The peppers he used in nearly every dish made my eyes water. One meal and a gallon of water later we got down to business. Miguel already knew about the spaceship and was ready to make plans.

"We will decide what we need. Don't worry about the other Bosses. If we decide we need it, I will make sure they agree."

South America weathered the Han both easier than the North and worse. They had the jungles of the Amazon and the mountains of the Andes to protect the people, but much less of the technology survived. South America had four times the population of the North but was just beginning to produce modern fighting equipment. Wilma put together an exchange plan where we could shift units. Miguel would immediately send men and women north to train with our equipment and South American bases would be open for positioning of our mobile forces.

We were just starting across the Pacific when our stomachs twisted in pain. "The next time Miguel comes for dinner we have to make something just for him. Have you tried the pemmican from the Northern Gangs?"

"I haven't but from what I heard I want some on hand for Miguel. The only thing that stayed down this time was that liquor he makes from fermented peppers. The problem with that is that I can only drink a few ounces before my eyes cross."

"Wilma, you are a better man than I am. I can't even take a drink of that stuff. It burns a hole in my mouth."

We stopped at Hawaii to recover from Miguel's meals and to work on a communications grid linking both sides of the Pacific.

To a greater or lesser degree we formalized exchange plans similar to the ones Miguel agreed to with the Orient, Australian/Pacific, Nepal/India, African, Slavic, and European RDF Bosses. The most important problem we tried to solve was communications. If there was an attack on Earth from space, we needed all the defense forces to know the details as it happened. I left teams setting up networks in every remote location we could find.

We just made it back to the Grand Canyon Base when the swoopers started broadcasting their long range ultrascope signals. Dr. Huer had every surveillance technician from the Gangs studying the signals. The swoopers were too far away for many details but the general structure of the spacecraft was apparent.

At some time in the past, the craft must have started out as an asteroid. It was shaped like a potato. There were large pivoting rockets on the ends of the spheroid. The craft had been hollowed out. The ultrascopes penetrated the outer shell showing a maze of tunnels and chambers that filled the interior. The spacecraft was surrounded with thousands of smaller objects giving the affect of watching a large paper wasp nest with its inhabitants buzzing around. There was a larger concentration of buzzing objects around the middle of the spacecraft. It took some time but the ultrascopes finally got the range of the concentration. They were building up the middle with new chambers and tunnels. It was possible to see the skeleton of a perfectly round sphere being formed.

Dr. Huer exclaimed, "So that's what they are doing in the asteroid belt. They are using the raw materials to expand their ship."

I asked, "What size are those smaller ships?"

"At this range about the smallest detail we can see is about fifty feet across. Hmm. Let's see. If that is fifty feet, that must be about a hundred, which would make ... The bigger ones farther away from the main craft are between five hundred to a thousand feet across while the smaller ones are a hundred feet. Since the tunnel ends are appearing from nothing we can see, there must be hundreds, if not thousands, more smaller ships building them."

I struggled with the idea of tens of thousands of ships to defend against. If the mother ship was Han, we would need to destroy all of the smaller ships at the same time we destroyed the mother ship or we would have an extended fight with whichever ships were left. Would forcing them to leave our solar system be possible? I needed to think.

Wilma and I left Dr. Huer and his technicians recording the data coming in from the swoopers. Even back in 1927, I found that when I wanted to think I would go to the cemeteries. The rows of crosses from the Great War, the green grass and the softly blowing breeze would always settle my thoughts. Wilma and I took a swooper north to the mountains outside of the old Han city of Lo-Tan. There on the slopes of the mountains was a meadow filled with markers. The Americans lost in the assault on the city. We sat on a rock outcropping until the air cooled with the coming of night.

When we got back to the Grand Canyon base, I called together all of the tactical bosses of our forces. In the projectoscreen room, I had one of Dr. Huer's boys fill everyone in on the latest information. I then made my announcement.

"Here is the situation as I see it. We have a huge spaceship with tens of thousands of accompanying smaller ships in the asteroid belt. We need to find out if they are Han before they can get close to Earth. If they are Han, we need to force them out of the solar system or destroy them en masse. I can't see any of the smaller craft surviving the journey to another star system. So, if we push them out we need to leave them the use of the mother ship. Without an escape, those Han remaining in our solar system will continue to be a threat.

"Dr. Huer has told me that the swoopers will stay for two more days recording everything they can find. Before they turn back, they will leave a relay satellite at their current location and release three remotely controlled reconnaissance balls aimed at the current location of the mother ship. Dr. Huer is hoping that the balls will be close enough to the mother ship in about 4 weeks to start sending back more information.

"Any questions?"

There were none from the boys. I pulled Wilma aside and asked her to start thinking about defending the Earth if they got past us.

The days went by fast. The remote controlled space balls came close enough to the mother ship to start sending videos back but few new facts were found. I put Felix Carlisle in charge of building a ship that could meet the unknown mother ship far from Earth. He called for help from across the world and soon there was a small city built into the canyon walls filled with people. The biggest problem was languages. Hundreds of translators moved in but it was still a cliff city filled with voices I did not understand. Every region was asked to build and train a squadron of swoopers of various kinds and sizes to berth on the ship. North America, South America, the Orient, Australia/Pacific, Nepal/India, Africa, Slavic, and Europe each built smaller supply ships to ferry equipment out to our force when we launched. A surprise problem was getting the world's bosses to agree on a name for the new spaceship. It seemed there was a boss in some location in the world had a reason to reject the most obvious names such as the Defiant, Waterloo, Constitution, Enterprise and so on. An English boss didn't want us to use Defiant. A French boss didn't like Waterloo ... It was finally decided to call it the Colorado. The rest of the ships were named quickly, Mississippi, Amazon, Huang, Tasmanian Sea, Ganges, Congo, Volga, and Rhine. It was also decided that the Mississippi would be converted from a supply ship to a control center for the remotely controlled weapons and spy craft we called balls.

All of the world's sub-atomic factories production of the invisible ultron and the weightless inertron was used in the construction of our fleet. Even with the world's production output there was not enough ultron. How to protect all of the fleet without enough ultron was a problem solved by Dr. Huer. He suddenly realized that what we see is light reflected off an object. Since inertron reflects light, all it would take is to shape the outer skin with inertron so it reflects away from any observer looking at it. The ultron could be saved for those craft assigned the task of getting very close to the enemy.

The unknown mother ship, with her accompanying swarm of smaller craft, left the asteroids and traveled to Mars. Our reconnaissance balls kept watch on the intruders. A week before the mother ship left the asteroids all of the smaller craft formed up around it. A small group of a hundred ships left first and explored the region around Mars before the main body of ships followed. As the mother ship drew closer to the Mars, thousands of the smaller ships surrounded and landed on the planet first. A few days later the mother ship entered orbit around the red planet. It was decided to meet the intruders once we saw the gathering of ships indicating a movement towards Earth.

It would take months of travel to reach the intruders so I spent as much time as possible under our own sky. I was on a butte watching the newly recruited pilots learning to fly. A swooper would link a chain of gliders together and carry them aloft. There were a dozen different white gliders soaring across the sky in different exercises and mock attacks. Wilma and Katie Ricken joined me watching the novices float across the bright blue sky. Katie was the leader of the swooper squadrons.

I said, "Do you remember how all of this started?"

"Sure do. It was after the battle of Lo-Tan. There were still Han cities in the world and you were visiting my old Wright Gang near the Ohio River. The Big Boss brought you by and I showed you my cache of notebooks."

Katie was a solid rawboned girl at the time. She looked like she could hold a battle line next to you in hand-to-hand combat. She showed me a sealed locker that her family had kept for hundreds of years. I opened the first notebook and read the cover page. 'Property of General Billy Mitchell, Air Warfare, Part One Air to Air combat.' There were dozens of other notebooks with subtitles such as Air-to-Ground, My De Havilland Tactics on Attacking Ships, Edward Richenbacker's Notes on Fighter Tactics and the Duties of Wingmen...

I talked the other bosses into starting an air school and before the month was out Grand Canyon Base was started with Katie as the lead instructor. She would be leaving with us to command the swoopers on our mission. Unlike me, she would be extremely busy on the flight out to meet the intruders. She would be modifying the tactics of the swoopers to the changes of the airless and weightlessness of space.

We talked for a while about little things. I took a last breathe of pristine desert air before heading back inside and more planning.


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