by A21 Reporter Andy Clems
The WSP Fleet closed to attack range, their powerful interceptor missiles standing by. Twelve identical craft advancing on the monstrous threat that lay only a few thousand miles ahead.
Inside their respective flight decks, the WSP commanders took in the sight of the vast alien creature, the last of the Kellax. As tall as a mountain and covered in flailing tentacles, each one several hundred feet in length, the space-borne creature looked every inch the malevolent destroyer of civilizations it was.
The creature’s maw was as wide as a city-block, capable of swallowing any of the advancing patrol ships whole. Now, as the comparatively tiny craft approached in formation from the direction of Earth’s solar system, the Kellax’s single enormous eye swiveled to look on its next meal.
It began moving towards the XL ships, travelling at surprising speed by way of some horrific form of gaseous propulsion. It had closed to within a mere twenty miles when the Earth fleet made their move.
Like an exploding star, half of the ships fanned outward, pulling sharply away to left, right, top and bottom, while the centre craft fired off volleys of interceptor missiles. The projectiles exploded spectacularly against the fleshy skin of the beast, but did little to check its progress.
The craft took evasive action, three of them making it past the Kellax, but XL14 wasn’t so lucky and was snared by one of the wicked tentacles. It’s nutomic-hyperdrive engine was burning at maximum power trying to escape, but it was held fast as the Kellax began to feed it into its massive maw. At the last second, the commander jettisoned Fireball Junior and made a bee-line for the cover of a small planetoid nearby, while the rest of the fleet dived at the beast and reigned covering fire around its lone eye.
The concentrated fire took effect, angering the Kellax. It flailed its grotesque tentacles wildly, snatching at the patrol craft buzzing around it like bothersome insects. Fireball XL22 took a blow to the port wing, shearing it off at the base. The pilot barely had time to pull out of a crazy spiral dive, one more second and he would have smashed right into XL6.
The battle was not going well for the Earth forces, their greater numbers bought them time, but the advantage was slipping away as more ships were disabled by the seemingly unstoppable might of the Kellax.
Then, just as all seemed lost, another ship entered the battle, closing on the fray from the dark side of the small planetoid. Fireball XL5 roared towards its sister craft, taking aim at the creature’s gigantic open maw.
At the signal from Colonel Zodiac, XL3 and XL12 flew in close to the Kellax’s eye and let loose a slavo of interceptor rockets. They just got clear as the creature’s tentacles groped for them, blinded by the flash of the explosions.
As the rockets detonated, XL5 released one of its own, but not a standard interceptor. Professor Matic and Doctor Venus had modified one of the missiles to carry a planatomic warhead.
The crew of XL5 watched as the glow from the missile’s exhaust receded into the maw of the Kellax, then the surviving craft turned tail and applied maximum thrust.
The explosion shook the fleeing ships so violently that many of their crews were sure they weren’t going to make it.
But then it was over, and when they turned their astroscopes and spacemascopes back to their previous coordinates, there was no sign of the Kellax. The beast had been vanquished, and the threat to Earth had been defeated.
The surviving craft picked up the crews of XL14 and XL22 and headed for Space City, where a heroes welcome awaited them all, particularly the brave crew of XL5.