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Ben Zwycky

Ambitions

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This story follows on from ÔÇÿDistractionsÔÇÖ (the story I was doing in Orion Starstation ÔÇôThe Orion Lounge

[rp]

Cold.

Cold and beautiful.

ThatÔÇÖs how space is often described, and rightly so. ItÔÇÖs also quiet, so quiet. No matter how many wars we have or however much we explore it and abuse it, it remains cold, beautiful and quiet, seemingly oblivious to our presence.

Such were the musings of Samuel Jordan, chief maintenance man aboard the GCV Cre-nan, an Empirian Canlon armed transport vessel. These were his thoughts as he sat gazing out of a porthole on the vesselÔÇÖs starboard side. Not that there was usually much for him to do in flight, these ships were pretty well put together. He just sat in his office, listening to his favourite soft music and watching the wondrous void go by, as had become his custom.

The stars through the porthole started to move, indicating that the ship was turning, though thanks to artificial gravity generation he couldnÔÇÖt feel a thing. They moved this way and that, almost dancing to the music, accompanied by gentle flashes coming from somewhere.

Three beautiful comets together slowly arced across his view, each with a pretty shimmering trail behind them. He gasped at the beauty of this sight. As one they turned and were now heading straight for him. Suddenly he realised what they were.

Missiles.

He scrambled up from his seat and headed for the door, but before he could reach it, one of them impacted the outside wall of the room and detonated, punching a massive hole in it. The room filled with flame and Sam was catapulted into the door by the shockwave before every loose object was sucked out into space.



ÔÇ£We have a distress call from the Cre-nan.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Send a squad of fighters to support them.ÔÇØ

Four fighters were dispatched From Centauri Station, 2 Defenders and 2 Starfighters. They emerged from the four arms of the mighty station, turned, jumped as one and converged on the Treas jumpgate. As the multiple jumpgate flashes dissipated, the fighter pilots were alerted to the prescence of hostile craft in the region. Two of them immediately jumped towards the nearest raider vessel, the other half cycled through the various ships in the region, searching for the Cre-nan. They were disheartened to find only an empirian military cargo pod, which then disappeared from their scanners, indicating that it had been picked up by someone.They cycled through to two raider T3 shuttles and concluded that there were their culprits, or at least accomplices to the crime.

ÔÇ£LetÔÇÖs make their efforts wasted. Blue squad, target the shuttles.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Acknowledged.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£On it.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Right.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£TheyÔÇÖre heading for Arima. Cut them off at the wormhole.ÔÇØ

Blue squad all targetted the wormhole to the Tau Ceti system and jumped. The two who had already jumped had to wait a few vital seconds for their jump engines to recharge, which meant that they failed to arrive in time to engage the fleeing pirates. This left a defender and stardrone with a chance to stop the shuttles, which both afterburned towards the wormhole entrance the instant they emerged from hyperspace. The fightersÔÇÖ engines were slightly superior to that of the shuttles, and so they were slowly able to gain on the crafts and unleash their fury on them.

The Defenders high-powered Questor class missiles found their mark and reduced the first shuttle to a dissipating cloud of shrapnel. However the stardrone was only equipped with starflash class missiles due to supply shortages, and their inferior warhead and targetting system meant that only two out of the four missiles reached their target and werenÔÇÖt enough to even bring down the second shuttleÔÇÖs shields before it disappeared through the wormhole with a taunting flash.

ÔÇ£Permission to pursue the target, sir?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£You know weÔÇÖre not allowed in Tau Ceti space. Maintain patrol in the region for the next half an hour. IÔÇÖll inform Centris Station.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Yes, sir,ÔÇØ came the disgruntled reply.

ÔÇ£Hey, donÔÇÖt worry about it. Sometimes they get away.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Sir, blue squad reports the Cre-nan was destroyed by raider vessels who all escaped to Tau Ceti except for one of the shuttles that they managed to intercept.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Damn. Well, it had been so quiet for a while hadnÔÇÖt it? What was the Crenan carrying?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Station supplies- repair materials and weapons. We needed those.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Yes, I know things are tight right now, but it hasnÔÇÖt mattered much with it being so quiet lately. OK, inform Aleri station and have them add the Cre-nanÔÇÖs manifest to tomorrowÔÇÖs LRT-10 run. In the meantime letÔÇÖs tighten our belts, increase our patrols of the Treas region and hope this was an isolated incident.ÔÇØ[/rp]

This story will become a multiplayer one. If you want to join in, you have to email me with what you want to do, so that it doesnÔÇÖt conflict with the main storyline. At the moment my normal email address donÔÇÖt work, so please use [email protected] instead

------------------

Cmdr. Ben Zwycky

GCV Svoboda, ISS08

Adjutant to the Fleet Commander

ISS Fleet Recruiting Officer

Director, CIOPS Directorate of Training and Administration

Initiate - Order of Jade Dragon

ISS Fleet Homepage

GCV Svoboda Homepage

"Nakonec pravda vitezi" (in the end the truth wins)

ICQ:72897748

[This message has been edited by Ben Zwycky (edited 06-22-2000).]

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Dreada, that was great. Just what was required. You sure you havenÔÇÖt done this before? smile.gif

[rp] 1955 March 15th, 3001

ÔÇ£Sir, thereÔÇÖs an armed transport coming through the jumpgate from Treas.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£WhatÔÇÖs its IFF?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Terran trader sir, the UCV Terra Nova.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Are they on the Ca-rekÔÇÖs flightpath?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Negative sir, they appear to be heading for Centris.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Well, letÔÇÖs not give them any trouble. We need to encourage trade through here given the state of our economy. Open the central docking bay doors and clear the Ca-rek to leave.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Yes, sir.ÔÇØ

The massive LRT-10 transport eased out of AleriÔÇÖs cavernous central docking bay, carrying a vital load of supplies to Empirian fleet headquarters. For a moment it appeared that the great ship was too large to fit through the armoured docking bay doors, but then they opened fully to reveal Alpha Centauri in all its glory, filling the great space with light. The collected galleries above watched in awe as the behemoth glided out, soon joined by the GCV Hu-fan, an Aestrom carrier from the west docking bay and the GCV De-pal II, the only remaining Empirian Megaron carrier and flagship of the empirian fleet, from the east bay.

The De-pal II was recently constructed and successor to the De-pal, flagship of the fleet in its heyday and commanded by none other than Ugo Ra-Zin for a while before he was promoted to fleet command. Whereas the Depal was only ever called into action in time of war, and earned itself a glorious reputation, its successor had so far been called upon for more menial tasks, like escorting large cargo shipments. It was a sign of the times- of the state of the Empirian military and Empirian economy, and of the value the government placed on this particular shipment.

It was partly out of fear of losing another shipment, and partly to put on a good show for the station citizens, to show them that the fleet still had some glory left. To that end at least it seemed to be working. Some on the galleries cheered, some gazed in awe, some smiled at the memory of glories past. The three mighty vessels lined up side by side and halted next to the station. As one, the two escort vesselsÔÇÖ turrets fired three volleys of bright laser bolts that raced each other out into deep space. Their show over, the convoy slowly gained momentum in the direction of the Treas jumpgate, and the happy crowd began to disperse. Some managed to catch a glimpse of the huge holes in space forming, glimmering for a while and then slowly fading from view, but all went on their way with renewed confidence in themselves and their place in the galaxy.

The three ships cautiously approached the jumpgate with the Hu-fan leading and De-pal II covering behind.

ÔÇ£Give her a nice wide berth,ÔÇØ ordered Gero Fe-jor, the De-pal IIÔÇÖs Commander, ÔÇ£The Ca-rek canÔÇÖt dance as well as us.ÔÇØ

The helmsman eased on the retro-rockets and the distance between the two craft increased as the aestrom disappeared through the pulsing sphere of the jumpgate. The transport seemed to take an age to line itself up to the jumpgate and flash through. The De-pal followed approximately fifteen seconds behind, to enable the larger craft to clear the exit on the other side.

Standing by to arm weapons, entering Treas region in 3, 2, 1

Flash.

On the other side, things appeared normal. No hostile caste alarms went off, the Ca-rek and Hu-fan were waiting where they should be, although the Hu-fan was pointing back towards the jumpgate.

Suddenly a desperate voice came over the comms system

ÔÇ£De-pal! This is the Ca-rek Watch out for the shuttle! They rammed the Hu-fan!ÔÇØ

The Hu-fan continued itÔÇÖs slowly list in space, revealing a massive hole in its midsection where itÔÇÖs launch bays should have been, and multiple decks exposed to space.

What the? Look for a shuttle, any shuttle!

The CVD flickered through the different ships in the region until it arrived on an empirian mercenary T3 shuttle afterburning straight for them. The distance indicator read 15 clicks and dropping fast.

ÔÇ£Afterburn out of here! Get out of the way and cloak the ship!ÔÇØ

The De-pal II started to accelerate as fast as it could and shimmer into transparency, but it was too late. The shuttle altered course to match and before it disappeared the sharp nose of the T3 shuttle, specially reinforced for the purpose, had penetrated the armour round the De-palÔÇÖs fighter launch bays, erupting up through the flight deck a moment before the tiny craft detonated, ripping the belly out of the proud ship. The massive shockwave rippled out through the shipÔÇÖs bulkheads, catapulting people into objects and objects into people.

When what was left of the bridgecrew began to return to their stations, Gero urgently demanded,

ÔÇ£Damage report!ÔÇØ

Jina Fe-dal gave no response. Whether the comms system was down or Jina was unconscious or dead was unclear. Gero turned to his tactical officer,

ÔÇ£Dari, see if you can access logistix and tell me what the damage is.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£OK,ÔÇØ said the De-palÔÇÖs tactical officer as he worked away at his terminal, ÔÇ£IÔÇÖm in.ÔÇØ

The expression on his face the moment he saw the systems report said it all. He immediately calmed himself and reported,

ÔÇ£90% of the flight deck is destroyed, as is just under half of decks 3 and 4. We could maybe launch one fighter and one PTA turret is still working, though damaged. Shields are out, multiple decks are exposed to space, the entire ship is flooded with radiation and if we do any tight turns we might fold the ship in half.ÔÇØ

Just then the general alarm klaxon sounded.

ÔÇ£We have a hostile vessel in the region- a Violon carrier just came through the wormhole. ItÔÇÖs launching fighters!ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Abandon ship!ÔÇØ Gero ordered immediately, ÔÇ£We canÔÇÖt hope to defend ourselves- letÔÇÖs make sure that someone hears what happened here. Download the Ca-rekÔÇÖs TACOPS logs to all our ships, and tell the Hu-fan to do the same if they can hear us. LetÔÇÖs give them too many targets to take out.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Transporters are out, as are the shuttles. We maybe have one fighter we can launch.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Then WeÔÇÖll have to stay and try to buy our fighter some time. LetÔÇÖs give those kra-chek something to remember us by. Good luck, everyone.ÔÇØ

The De-palÔÇÖs last remaining fighter was catapulted out of its badly damaged bay and headed straight for the jumpgate, against all the instincts of itÔÇÖs pilot. The Violon and its ships arrived out of hyperpace, and proceeded to finish off the two stricken vessels. The Hu-fan seemed to have been less critically damaged than the De-pal; two of itÔÇÖs turrets were firing away at the enemy vessels, and a couple of fighters were . The enemy craft responded by firing volleys of missiles directly into the aestromÔÇÖs superstructure and the great vessel broke in two. All the lights in the front half went out since it was now cut off from the main reactor, and after a few more shots the reactor went up in a big flash of light, sending large chunks of debris spinning off in all directions.

The two Hu-fan fighters were cut to ribbons by the overwhelming numbers in a vain attempt to protect the transport which was now at the mercy of the violon and its minions. The dying hulk of the De-pal suffered a similar fate, then the fighters turned their attention to the two remaining craft: the De-palÔÇÖs zodiac class fighter and a T2 shuttle that the Hu-fan had managed to launch, both desperately heading for the sanctuary of the Tramis region. Kio He-lak, the pilot of the zodiac, saw the shuttle go up in a burst of light. It was clear that these pirates didnÔÇÖt want any witnesses. He afterburned even more determinedly towards the jumpgate, then a thought occurred to him.

ÔÇÿThese guys are going to keep on chasing me until they think IÔÇÖm dead.ÔÇÖ

The missile lock warning started to beep, then became a solid tone.

ÔÇ£Hostile launch detected,ÔÇØ gently reported the fighterÔÇÖs computer. The laser hits to the little crafts shields were getting more and more frequent. The enemy craft were faster than him, they were getting closer, but the jumpgate was just ahead. He adjusted a couple of settings and carried on. His shields were getting very low.

ÔÇÿGotta time this rightÔǪÔÇÖ

His engines started to take hits. His ship weaved at the drop in thrust from the port engine. He brought it back under control but they had gained more ground.

ÔÇ£Deactivate escape pod SOS beacon.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Beacon deactivated.ÔÇØ

The jumpgate was very close now, but so were his pursuers. Now came his gamble.

He climbed hard then span until the centre of the jumpgate was directly above him, then activated the ejection system, firing the cockpit escape pod directly into the jumpgate. Half a second after ejection, the zodiac self destructed, the flash of the explosion obscuring the flash of the jumpgate, and no SOS signal to give away the ejection. Satisfied with their kill, the hunters turned back to their main prey- the transport.

On the other side of the jumpgate, Kio lay in his cramped and quiet coccoon, hoping that his ploy had worked, while the podÔÇÖs little engines pushed him silently on towards aleri station. [/rp]

------------------

Cmdr. Ben Zwycky

GCV Svoboda, ISS08

Adjutant to the Fleet Commander

ISS Fleet Recruiting Officer

Director, CIOPS Directorate of Training and Administration

Initiate - Order of Jade Dragon

ISS Fleet Homepage

GCV Svoboda Homepage

"Nakonec pravda vitezi" (in the end the truth wins)

ICQ:72897748

[This message has been edited by Ben Zwycky (edited 06-28-2000).]

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(RP)

"You've got to know when to hold 'em,

Know when to fold them,

Know when to walk away,

and Know when to RUN!"

Again these words echoed through the cerebral cortex of the man known as "Rattler." He had been sitting quietly, very quietly, in the debris field for the past 15 hours now. The Defenders had almost discovered him in their attempt to destroy the Raider Shuttles with their ill-gotten gains. Had it not been for that distraction, Insurgent One might be dead, or even worse a prisoner of the Empirians. Ah, but the luck of the Insurgency had indeed smiled upon him these past two days. The Bridge of the Necromancer was quiet now. Her red glow signified the Ill Intentions of Battle Stations and her repairs had been completed. Now let them come if they must. The debris field would gain additional members, more cargo for the taking on the next trip through.

Chavik's brainstorm had finally taken hold and was beginning to bear fruit. Why not strategicly store items for safe keeping within the debris fields of certain systems? Very few Commanders ever actually ventured out into them and those that did would not always bother with the trouble of collecting the cargo from them. It was just too dangerous in most cases. With the last of the new cargo pods released and the Necromancer again rigged for Cloaked Transit, Necromancer's crew all breathed a sigh of relief in unison. They were again as safe as one could expect to be this far from home and in the Enemies preverbial Back-Yard.

Rattler again wanted to study the flight paths of all the ships that had recently passed through his little "Home Away From Home." So much traffic he thought, with such little reason for being here. The list of "Who's Who" was absolutely astounding. Why Now? Had our best laid plans been prematurely discovered by the UFN? Who are these guys? Who ever they are, I certainly have no design nor the intentions to be discovered. The hair on Rattler's neck suddenly stood straight out. "Security, double the watch on Shipboard Search Detail. If we are going to have visitors, I want them found and dead before they have a chance to signal their masters. Understood?" Rattler's thought process once again continued on the region at hand. Why are there so many ships in this region at this time? Why are there so many incidents of collisions within this system? These questions had to be answered before the implementation of the next phase of planning. Rattler was alerted of yet another ramming incident as he studdied the charts. "They're at it again, Sir!" "Another Shuttle just rammed a freightor." Rattler's neck hairs again stood on end, not from warning this time but as result of instantaneous anger. Damned Ameteurs and those who give them license to fly!

From his Stateroom, Rattler issued his orders just before drifting off to some much needed sleep. It had been 72 hours since he last felt the warm arms of his pillow and he was well past the point of no return. He remembered the teachings of one of his Instructors at the Academy. "Speed is Life, Sleep a Weapon!"

"Helm, Lay in a course to the next drop point. 3/4 impulse speed if you will, but do not draw unwarranted attention in our direction. We're in no hurry at the moment. Wake me upon arrival at the drop point or when trouble finds us, which ever comes first. Watch the Meters as well. I don't want a radiation bath today, thank you very much! Stay silent, stay dark, and stay awake, and STAY OUT of the main shipping lanes. It's not safe out there. Travel the rim of the system if you must, just don't get us run over. Understood? Now lets very quietly walk away from this potential grave yard and get on with the business of building our future here. Rattler.....out!"

(/RP)

------------------

Rattler, Insurgent One

Commander-In-Chief,

Insurgency

Official Tester,Battlecruiser Series

[email protected]

ICQ 12894104

"Still Kickin' after all these years!"

[This message has been edited by Rattler (edited 07-02-2000).]

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[rp]

2030 March 15th, 3001

The GCV Svoboda glided through the jumpgate from Centris to Tramis.

ÔÇ£Retrieving Data. Location confirmed as Tramis region.ÔÇØ

An unpleasant thought occurred to Ben. He hadnÔÇÖt actually been in this region since it was overrun by the Vesperons and used as a springboard for an invasion of Sol. He wasnÔÇÖt alone in those thoughts, as memories of those events were hard to shake for anyone who had witnessed them.

ÔÇ£Head for Aleri Station.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Incoming Message from Aleri Station.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Patch it through to my terminal.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Commander Zwycky! Thank god youÔÇÖre here! There has been a major incident. Our main supply convoy to Centauri station was destroyed in Treas twenty minutes ago along with itÔÇÖs escort, the Hu-fan and the De-pal II.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£The De-pal?!ÔÇØ Ben asked in shock, ÔÇ£how did they do that?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£We donÔÇÖt know. We have sent craft into the Treas region to investigate, and others are searching this region for a cloaked vessel we believe is either responsible or knows what happened.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£A cloaked vessel?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£There was a flash from the Treas jumpgate at about the time of the incident, but we canÔÇÖt find whatever craft caused it. Since then all jumpgate flashes in the region have been accounted for by visible ship movements. Will you help in the search for this vessel? Our station radar is not yet working at full capacity.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Of course.ÔÇØ

Thank you, Commander. Good luck.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Sounds pretty serious,ÔÇØ commented Chris.

ÔÇ£It is. You have to be pretty darn strong to take out two big carriers and all their support craft. Launch interceptors and start patrolling the region. Search all the minor locations in the region, away from the shipping lanes, sweep for any energy anomalies and keep a constant navigation lock on Aleri station. Be ready to jump there at a momentÔÇÖs notice- I donÔÇÖt want any craft sneaking up on us.ÔÇØ

The craft spread out on full alert, with all sensors set to maximum gain.

2125 March 15th, 3001

ÔÇ£Hey, filter out some of this noise, Firehail, I think IÔÇÖve got something.ÔÇØ

Firehail pressed a few buttons, and the tacscope began to clear.

ÔÇ£Yep, itÔÇÖs faint, but itÔÇÖs still there. You see it?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Yeah, itÔÇÖs turning. DoesnÔÇÖt look like a cloaked ship, though.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£ItÔÇÖs going in a big circle I think. See if you can bring it up on visual. Commander, I think we have something.ÔÇØ

Firehail activated his TACOPS viewer and zoomed in on the source of the signal.

ÔÇ£Got it in view.ÔÇØ

A dark shape slowly turned before him. As the light of Alpha Centauri reflected off its glassy surfaces, he instantly recognised it.

ÔÇ£Hey, itÔÇÖs an escape pod! Looks like itÔÇÖs been damaged. Sir, weÔÇÖve found a fighter craft escape pod. ItÔÇÖs SOS beacon isnÔÇÖt transmitting and it appears to have been going in a big circle for a while.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Acknowledged IC2, weÔÇÖre sending a medical team on Shuttle 1ÔÇØ

Interceptor 2 jumped to the pod to mark it out for the shuttle, and both pilots gazed at the little capsule. They could hardly see through the layer of ice on the inside of the canopy, but they could tell it was occupied. Both of them became solemn- it was a pilots worst nightmare, to be forced to eject deep in space and have the pod malfunction.

The medical team, dressed in pressure suits, rushed into shuttle 1 and sat down. The craft raced out of the shuttle bay and jumped to Interceptor 2 as soon as it had cleared the bay entrance. It afterburned towards the object IC 2 was circling and activated its tractor beam, drawing its catch into the cargo hold. As it arrived, the medics could see a number of characters etched into the ice on the inside of the canopy. As soon as the cargo hold repressurised, there was an audible hiss of air from the bottom of the capsule, and the ice layer began to thaw rapidly. Not a good sign. The medics prised open the canopy and one by one they stopped their race. Inside lay an empirian in a flight suit, his features visibly bloated and discoloured behind his visor, showing all the signs of having been exposed to vacuum. He was gone.

ÔÇ£LetÔÇÖs head back home.ÔÇØ One of them disappointedly told the shuttle pilot, who obliged at a less frantic pace.

ÔÇ£Sir, weÔÇÖve recovered the escape pod, but the pilot didnÔÇÖt survive.ÔÇØ He then turned to his companions,

ÔÇ£What were those characters scratched in the ice?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Empirian I think.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Anybody here read empirian?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£No.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Not really.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Well, I suppose the shuttleÔÇÖs cargo camera would have got a good shot of them. We could show them to someone on the station.ÔÇØ



ÔÇ£Ge-dalia. ThatÔÇÖs what it says.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£What does that mean?ÔÇØ Inquired Karen Hilliard, the SvobodaÔÇÖs Comms officer.

ÔÇ£ItÔÇÖs a bird on Centris with big eyes,ÔÇØ explained Ugo Ra-Zin from his office on Aleri. ÔÇ£ItÔÇÖs also the nickname for a shipÔÇÖs flight recorder.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£OK, thanks.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£No problem, just let me know what was on it.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£We will, sir,ÔÇØ Karen replied, shutting down the channel. ÔÇ£Ben, it meant flight recorder.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Thanks, Karen.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Why would he tell us to look at the flight recorder? He must have known we would do that anyway.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£It must be something really important on it. And urgent.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Ben,ÔÇØ came the internal comms call from Engineering.

ÔÇ£Yes, Paul, how are you doing?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Well, weÔÇÖve gone over the capsule. It got hit by a piece of debris which punctured the canopy and the life support system in his flight suit, and all the air would have leaked out in about ten minutes.ÔÇØ

Ben grimaced. ÔÇ£Not nice. How about the flight recorder?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£ThatÔÇÖs the interesting part. It not only contains the tacops logs of the fighter, but also a downloaded record from the GCV Cre-nan, the LRT-10 transport that was destroyed in Treas an hour and a half ago.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Ah. LetÔÇÖs see it, then.ÔÇØ

As they all watched the tacops playback, they were stunned by what they saw.

ÔÇ£Karen, reopen the secure line to Strategic Commander Ra-ZinÔÇØ [/rp]

Next part coming soon! WonÔÇÖt be as long as this one I hope biggrin.gif

------------------

Cmdr. Ben Zwycky

GCV Svoboda, ISS08

Adjutant to the Fleet Commander

ISS Fleet Recruiting Officer

Director, CIOPS Directorate of Training and Administration

Initiate - Order of Jade Dragon

ISS Fleet Homepage

GCV Svoboda Homepage

"Nakonec pravda vitezi" (in the end the truth wins)

ICQ:72897748

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[rp]2145 March 15th, 3001

ÔÇ£You see, sir, that they had a probe already in the region, they deliberately rammed both carriers with shuttles just after they came through the jumpgate, and then brought in a violon carrier to mop up what was left. We donÔÇÖt know what they did with the transport, because this is the point where the logs end.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£They destroyed it and took itÔÇÖs cargo. We found the remains of the CrenanÔÇÖs superstructure. They were our best ships and our best people,ÔÇØ lamented Ugo with his head in his hands. ÔÇ£It was a vital convoy.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Sir, they knew you were coming. It was well planned and executed. Almost militarily so.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Which is why it must have been the SlaÔÇÖti. They have sources and sympathisers everywhere, more resources than anyone knows about and very dedicated personnel.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Excuse me, sir, but you sound like you almost respect them.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£No, I loathe them completely, but I fear that they may be becoming too strong and we are becoming too weak to stop them.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Sir!ÔÇØ Exclaimed Ben, startled by this admission. ÔÇ£You canÔÇÖt mean that!ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£IÔÇÖm afraid I do. We need galcomÔÇÖs intervention, or the situation will just keep on deteriorating.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£I will go and speak with galcom high command right away,ÔÇØ Ben replied, closing the channel and sitting back with a sigh, trying to take in the magnitude of the conversation heÔÇÖd just had.

ÔÇÿIÔÇÖll have to go right to the top with this one after what happened last time.ÔÇÖ ÔÇ£Karen, open a secure channel to Fleet Commander Mark Stryker.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£OK, but he might be busy.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Tell him itÔÇÖs urgent.ÔÇØ

Fleet Commander Mark Stryker wearily turned to the comms terminal in his office.

ÔÇ£Yes, what is it?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Urgent secure call from Commander Zwycky.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Commander who?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Commander Zwycky. Fleet adjutant of In System Support.ÔÇØ

Mark sighed, inserted his security key and activated the retinal scanner. ÔÇ£IÔÇÖll take it.ÔÇØ

The hologram of an unfamiliar face formed before him. ÔÇ£Yes, what is it Commander?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Sir, I have just been talking with Strategic Commander Ra-Zin. There have been some disturbing events going on here.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Oh, really?ÔÇØ Mark replied disinterestedly.

ÔÇ£Sir, Three important supply convoys to Centauri Station have been destroyed in the last two days, along with two carriers that were escorting one of the transports, one of which was the De-pal II, the empirian flagship. The ÔÇÿraidersÔÇÖ have been using extremely well planned and executed attacks, and a highly unconventional strategy. We have managed to obtain a tacops recording of the major incident that I think you should see.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£That wonÔÇÖt be necessary, Commander. I suppose that Ugo blamed the SlaÔÇÖti, and wants us to intervene.ÔÇØ

Well, yes, sir, and I tend to agree with him. And surely

ÔÇ£Commander,ÔÇØ Mark interrupted, ÔÇ£you have obviously been around the empirians for too long. YouÔÇÖre beginning to talk just like them.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£IÔÇÖm sorry, sir?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£They blame everything on the SlaÔÇÖti. If one of their ships is lost, it was the SlaÔÇÖti. If a datapad goes missing it was the SlaÔÇÖti. If one of them catches a cold itÔÇÖs because the SlaÔÇÖti poisoned their water supply! And they are constantly wanting us to get involved, even destroying their own vessels to get us to go after them. Last time we did that we got into a war that lasted for years. They have cried wolf far too many times for us to believe them. We do not have the resources spare to do it even if we did.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Are you saying they destroyed their own carriers? Their own flagship?!ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£TheyÔÇÖve done it before, though not with such big craft. Maybe they decided they needed to be more convincing this time. I donÔÇÖt have time for this, Commander.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£But sir, we at least need to warn our vessels about these new tactics, to be on the lookout for empirian mercenary shuttles.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Send me the recording and I will review it and issue a standing order if I deem it necessary.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Sending now.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Thank you Commander. That is all.ÔÇØ The channel was closed.

Ben started at the abruptness of the finish. He sat and thought for a few seconds, then reluctantly called Strategic Commander Ra-Zin again.

From BenÔÇÖs demeanour Ugo could instantly tell what galcomÔÇÖs response had been.

ÔÇ£Can I guess what they said?ÔÇØ he asked disappointedly.

ÔÇ£They said they donÔÇÖt have the resources spare to be able to intervene effectively.ÔÇØ

and that we are just being paranoid, they dont believe it was the Slati. Ben broke eye contact and Ugo took that as confirmation. Ah, yes- maybe we deserve that. We have been guilty of jumping to conclusions in the past, and of abusing our position in the Alliance. Now we reap the reward for those follies. Justice, cruel justice. Do not worry, Commander- we will manage somehow. We know their tactics now, and we still have a number of capital ships available and more under construction, we will just need a little help to get by in the meantime.

ÔÇ£I will give all I can, Strategic Commander.ÔÇØ

Thank you. One thing you could do



2210 March 15th, 3001

ÔÇ£OK, everyone, weÔÇÖre heading for Centris. Lay in a course.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Course plotted.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Off we go.ÔÇØ

The jump anomaly formed and the Svoboda was seemingly flung through space. The great ship emerged from the other end of the anomaly and eased forward towards the Centris Jumpgate.

ÔÇ£Incoming message from high command to all galcom vessels.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£This should be interesting. Show it on main viewer.ÔÇØ

-----------------------------

GALCOM SECURE MESSAGE

FROM: FLT CMDR MARK STRYKER

TO: ALL GALCOM CRAFT

DUE TO A COUPLE OF INCIDENTS EARLIER TODAY, ALL EMPIRIAN MERCENARY SHUTTLES ARE HEREBY DESIGNATED HOSTILE TARGETS. EXTREME CAUTION SHOULD BE TAKEN WHEN ENCOUNTERED, ESPECIALLY IN THE ALPHA CENTAURI REGION.

END MESSAGE

-----------------------------

ÔÇ£ThatÔÇÖs it?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£ItÔÇÖs better than nothing.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Yeah, I suppose.ÔÇØ [/rp]

Sorry ÔÇÿbout the slowness. Been a couple of power cuts here. Looks like I wonÔÇÖt be able to get this done before I head off to Czech Republic next Friday, but I should be able to keep it going from there, with a little luck smile.gif

------------------

Cmdr. Ben Zwycky

GCV Svoboda, ISS08

Adjutant to the Fleet Commander

ISS Fleet Recruiting Officer

Director, CIOPS Directorate of Training and Administration

Initiate - Order of Jade Dragon

ISS Fleet Homepage

GCV Svoboda Homepage

"Nakonec pravda vitezi" (in the end the truth wins)

ICQ:72897748

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Ahoj z Ceskou Republice!

(Maybe that's not gramatically perfect, but it's near enough smile.gif)

here I am, sitting in an internet cafe in Prague, having just read through most of the general discussion and rp posts since I left. It seems not too much has happened there since I left. Can't stay for too long, is costing me money. Need to get use of another computer so I can get writin' again. Fear not, the story will not die!

Anyone wanting to contact me should use my yahoo adress

[email protected]

Later,

------------------

Cmdr. Ben Zwycky

GCV Svoboda, ISS08

Adjutant to the Fleet Commander

ISS Fleet Recruiting Officer

Director, CIOPS Directorate of Training and Administration

Initiate - Order of Jade Dragon

ISS Fleet Homepage

GCV Svoboda Homepage

"Nakonec pravda vitezi" (in the end the truth wins)

ICQ:72897748

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Well, here I am writing from a computer in the office of that very nice young lady I was talking about. SheÔÇÖs great! smile.gif My first girlfriend! biggrin.gif Anyway, on with the tale-

[rp]

2300 March 15th, 3001

The large sleek craft eased peacefully towards the spinning mass of metal orbiting CentrisÔÇÿ primary moon.

ÔÇ×We have been approved docking clearance,ÔÇ£ reported Karen Hilliard.

ÔÇ×Ten seconds to docking beam range,ÔÇ£ reported Simon, maintaining a steady but safe approach. A particularly vivid memory from his years as a civilian pilot still drifted into the back of his mind at times like these. The memory of Genesis stationÔÇÖs docking tractor beams failing whilst on approach with the Galactic Explorer, a tourist LRT-10 transport, and only just managing to turn the ship out of the way in time. His efforts had made him very popular with his boss, and also made him a much more cautious pilot during docking operations.

ÔÇ×Tractor lock in 5, 4, 3ÔǪÔÇ£

After that incident, extra redundant tractor systems were added to all Galcom installations, but his caution never fully faded. He maintained his grip on the con, ready at a moments notice to abort the approach.

The soft blue ray shot out of SCID HQ and grabbed the Svoboda, bringing her to a safe halt before drawing her into docking bay three.

ÔÇ×OK, Paul, you get hold of those parts and store whatever you can in cargo bay 1, the rest in the ATVÔÇÖs and Shuttles 3 and 4. ItÔÇÖs nowhere near as good as a transport vessel, but itÔÇÖs better than nothing.ÔÇ£

..

------------------------------------------

SVOBODA INTERNAL COMMS MESSAGE

FROM: Fl. Eng Jana Kubikova

TO: Lt. Francis Morgan

Ahoj Franke!

I know IÔÇÿve been getting on your nerves lately, and IÔÇÿm sorry about that. IÔÇÿm changing, and I know itÔÇÿs for the better, but I still love you and I always will. IÔÇÿm learning some wonderful stuff and I just want to share it with you. I know you donÔÇÿt like it, and I know you donÔÇÿt want to think about these sorts of things, but itÔÇÿs a large part of me now and I canÔÇÿt help talking about it sometimes. I canÔÇÿt promise you that I wonÔÇÿt talk about it anymore, because I will, but IÔÇÿll try not to do it so much. Please talk to me- I really miss hearing from you. IÔÇÿll be in the station lounge while weÔÇÿre docked if you want to talk.

Love,

Jana

END MESSAGE

------------------------------------------

Frank dawdled reluctantly into SCID HQÔÇÿs main lounge. It was a quiet and comfortable room, not as large or well-equipped as the one on Orion, but pleasant enough. He looked around the tables until Jana caught his eye. She smiled and motioned to the seat next to her and the pale green drink in front of it. He ambled over and sat down, taking a refreshing sip of the lemonade and lime, his favourite on-duty drink.

ÔÇ×Got your message.ÔÇ£

ÔÇ×Glad you came.ÔÇ£

Frank took another sip and started to relax, ÔÇ×So am I after the stuff I saw today.ÔÇ£

ÔÇ×Must have been horrible.ÔÇ£

ÔÇ×Freaked me out a bit. Even got me thinking about all that stuff you keep going on about.ÔÇ£

ÔÇ×Really? You want to talk about it?ÔÇ£

ÔÇ×Not right now- I donÔÇÿt want to get blackmailed into throwing my life away.ÔÇ£

ÔÇ×ItÔÇÿs hardly blackmail, and itÔÇÿs more about getting a whole new life than throwing away one.ÔÇ£

ÔÇ×Hey, I said not now. Maybe later,ÔÇ£ Frank replied with a gentle smile.

ÔÇ×OK,ÔÇ£ replied Jana with one of her own.

ÔÇ×So how was your day, then?ÔÇ£

ÔÇ×Not too bad, we had to replace the stick in IC-4. Seems like someoneÔÇÖs been a little overzealous with their maneuvers lately.ÔÇ£

ÔÇ×Better a little extra wear on the control stick than a few extra holes in the IC.ÔÇ£

ÔÇ×Ah, yes- I see your point,ÔÇ£ Jana replied with a suppressed giggle.

Both of their communicators beeped at the same time, along with those of several other patrons of the lounge.

------------------------------------------

SVOBODA INTERNAL COMMS MESSAGE

FROM: Cmdr. Ben Zwycky

TO: All Svoboda Crew

All crew report to stations. Departure in 10 minutes. Those requiring transportation to meet this deadline should activate their transponders within the next 5 minutes.

END MESSAGE

------------------------------------------

The message recipients all either left their drinks or quickly finished them off before filtering their way through to the lounge exits. [/rp]

IÔÇÖll try and get the next post done and up soon, but itÔÇÖll most likely be sometime next week.

Later,

------------------

Cmdr. Ben Zwycky

GCV Svoboda, ISS08

Adjutant to the Fleet Commander

ISS Fleet Recruiting Officer

Director, CIOPS Directorate of Training and Administration

Initiate - Order of Jade Dragon

ISS Fleet Homepage

GCV Svoboda Homepage

"Nakonec pravda vitezi" (in the end the truth wins)

ICQ:72897748

[This message has been edited by Ben Zwycky (edited 08-10-2000).]

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After a long absence, I'm ready to get this going again smile.gif I won't have quite as much time to write as last year, but I hope it'll be enough to keep you all interested smile.gif

[rp]

0005, March 16th, 3001

The Svoboda was eased out of SCID HQ's third docking bay by the launch tractor beam without incident, and that quiet but disturbing thought in the back of Simon's mind was silenced once again.

The journey to the jumpgate to Treas was uneventful, though unsettling, since the space lanes were noticeably quieter than usual- the new galcom standing order was discouraging casual traffic through the region, and news of the disappearances in Treas had quickly spread within the trading community. There were a few armed transports still making runs 'probably taking the opportunity to charge triple rates,' Ben thought to himself, but there were far fewer of them

"I haven't seen Tramis this quiet since the war," thought Steve out loud.

"You know the saying," replied Ben, "good news travels fast. Bad news travels faster. All stop."

"Disengaging thrust profile, registering all stop."

The Svoboda hung in space 20 clicks from the jumpgate, the faint pulses of blue and violet light gently dancing off the carrier's nose.

"Let's take a peek round the door."

The short range probe was silently ejected from the starboard side of the massive stationary vessel. Almost immediately it deployed its solar panels, engaged its engines and began homing in on the jumpgate entrance.

"Activate Tacops view. This should be interesting."

The 3D view of the tramis region appeared on Ben's console as the probe quickly approached the pulsing portal to the next region.

Flash.

"Probe link update."

The view quickly changed to that of the Treas region, devoid of any traffic except for 5 blue Target Tracking Designators, all at corners of the region well away from the probe's position. Something wasn't right. Something reminded him of a game he used to play as a child, a game whose name he couldn't remember.

[/rp]

Answers on a postcard to: smile.gif

Well, we're moving again, hopefully a bit quicker than when I was away smile.gif

------------------

Cmdr. Ben Zwycky

GCV Svoboda, ISSHQ (Saturn)

Defence Wing - ISS Fleet

email:[email protected]

ICQ:72897748

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Thanks, Dreada. On with the show!

[rp]

0020, March 16th, 3001

Ben looked at each of the TTD's in turn. Empirian Trader T3 Shuttles. Every single one.

"Play back the tacops logs from immediately after the probe entered the region. The first few seconds."

Steve obliged. The 3D grid formed and the various TTD's appeared spread all over the region, stationary. Something was odd.

"Play the first half second over and over, slowly."

"Hmm?" queried Steve, but followed the order.

"Ha. I see you" Ben thought aloud.

"Huh? Hey, they were moving!"

"Yep- then they stopped. Which means"

"Well on this scale, they'd have to be coming out of hyperspace."

"My thoughts precisely. Zoom in on one of them."

The unmistakeable sight of a shuttle appearing out of a jump anomaly filled the screen.

"Look at the others."

The view flicked through each shuttle in turn. Each and every one was appearing or had just appeared out of a jump anomaly.

"They were all jumping at the same time. Look for the other end of the jump anomalies. I think you know where to look."

"I think so."

Sure enough in an arc about 5-10 clicks from the probe were 5 jump anomalies.

"Whoa."

"OK, it's them, they've managed to get some trader IFF's, which isn't that hard, and they were waiting for us on the other side of the jumpgate, but they scattered when they saw the probe coming," summarised Chris.

"Which means that they can see what's happening in this region, so we're going to have to be careful with what we let them see. Right, Paul, are the mighty ducks ready?"

"Well, I've got four sort-of working, but any sort of detailed scan will show them up for what they really are. If you'd given me more time"

"That's good enough, we don't want to fool their navigation systems as well. Load them up."

"OK, I'll put them in launch tubes 7 to 10, but if they don't work"

"It won't be your fault. Don't worry- I have more faith in your 'sort-of working' than most people's finished product. Thanks, Paul."

Paul's unintelligible grumble was cut short by the channel closing.

"OK, this is going to take some good timing. Launch interceptors and send them through the wormhole. We'll follow, launching the ducks and engaging cloak the instant we're through. Then get out of the way as fast as we can. Ready?"

The various stations around the bridge signalled their readiness.

"Right, get to it."

The Svoboda's IC- were launched and streaked towards the jumpgate entrance, staggering their approaches to avoid colliding with each other.

"Any activity on the other side?"

"Negative, they're staying just where they are."

"IC's 2 and 3 have entered Treas."

"Still no reaction."

Two more flashes accompanied the disappearances of IC's 1 and 4.

"Still holding position."

"OK, let's head in."

0025, March 16th, 3001

[/rp]

Next part coming soon (I hope smile.gif)

Anyone wanting to join (or rejoin) the story should email me either at the adress in my sig or at [email protected] and tell me in general terms what ideas you have for your involvement. I may ask for specifics or tell you that what you want to do clashes too much with the main storyline and maybe offer you a different part or make other suggestions for your involvement, but if possible, I will try to fit people in that want to be in.

------------------

Cmdr. Ben Zwycky

GCV Svoboda, ISSHQ (Saturn)

Centauri Flight Group Leader, Defence Wing - ISS Fleet

email:[email protected]

ICQ:72897748

[This message has been edited by Ben Zwycky (edited 09-29-2000).]

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After a little delay, (lengthened by illness frown.gif) were off again smile.gif

[rp]0026 March 16th, 3001

"Ready"

The 'distance to target' meter rapidly spiralled towards zero. Ben began to issue the next order as the first sparks of energy began to arc their way across from the jumpgate to the Svoboda's hull.

"N"

The central sphere of the jumpgate burst open, tearing a hole in the fabric of space and grabbing the Svoboda in mid flight. The journey across the centauri star system took only an instant, and the energetic display was so rapid, that the most anyone ever saw of it was the great burst of light that accompanied the whole process.

"ow! Launch and cloak!"

Four tiny shapes were ejected from the great ship before its image began to quickly fade and the objects each suddenly began projecting the visual image of the Svoboda, and transmitting it's IFF code. This visual image and IFF code appeared on the shuttles' targetting sensors, but the objects real size and mass was noted by the navigation computer. Any detailed scan, look at TACOPS or even thoughtful examination of the feedback from the targetting computer would have told the shuttle pilots that this was not what it appeared, because there was no armour or shield strength reading and no indication of where it was heading. However, even this level of confirmation was too time-consuming for two of the shuttle pilots, who in their vengeful glee at having obtained a lock on the Svoboda instantly engaged their hyperjump engines. As they exited from their jump anomalies right next to their chosen duck, it became clear where they got the name 'mighty'. At the heart of each was a leech proximity mine. In an instant, both shuttles were destroyed, with both pilots convinced that they had given their lives in striking a mighty blow for the Sla'ti.

The other three shuttles, recognising the deception began to converge on the jumpgate to Cronus.

"All Interceptors, you are free to engage and destroy those trader caste shuttles. Stay out of tractor beam range and be aware that they may try to ram you. We will remain cloaked since we are their primary target."

"Acknowledged, Engaging."

"Simon and Chris- keep an eye out for any moving spacial anomalies, or unaccounted for jump anomalies. We don't want that Violon turning up unannounced and spoiling the party."

"Already on it."

"Simon, target the jumpgate to Cronus, but only jump if the shuttles are destroyed or are fleeing the region. We don't want to give away our position."

"Got it."

"OK, let's sit back and watch the show."

[/rp]

Right, sorry for the really long delay redface.gif

After the next post there will be a range of mp possibilities, if I'm not feeling too cwm3.gif and don't get too stuck with cwm15.gif

Later

------------------

Cmdr. Ben Zwycky

GCV Svoboda, ISSHQ (Saturn)

Centauri Flight Group Leader, Defence Wing - ISS Fleet

email:[email protected]

ICQ:72897748

"honour is what on man can give you, and no man can take away"

[This message has been edited by Ben Zwycky (edited 10-19-2000).]

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Well, after the longest break so far and an indefinite move to Prague, IÔÇÖve found I have a little time to carry on with this story. For how long I will have this spare time is

a very good question. On we go smile.gif

[rp]0032 March 16th, 3001

Two of the shuttles darted out to the exit points of the jump anomalies, one charging at an exit point at top speed, the other using a slightly more cautious approach. He used the rapidly decreasing distance to target indicator to gauge when he should arrive, aiming to get there just after the approaching fighter, when it would be at its slowest and therefore most vulnerable point.

The charging shuttle overshot its mark by about 3 seconds, itÔÇÖs pilot cursing himself and desperately trying to circle back round to attack itÔÇÖs target, but too late- Interceptor 4 was easily able to reach combat speed. The more cautious shuttle timed his run to perfection, and before Steelfingers knew what had happened he was enveloped by the gentle blue glow of its tractor beam.

ÔÇ£Gagh! HeÔÇÖs got us in his tractor beam. Someone help me out here!ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£On my way,ÔÇØ chimed Poltergeist as he climbed sharply to line up the enemy shuttle.

ÔÇ£Keep your distance- he might try to swing us into you.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Can you shoot?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Negative, weÔÇÖre held at an angle to him. Wait, the cargo door is opening?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Repeat that steel, it didnÔÇÖt make sense.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£The shuttleÔÇÖs cargo bay doors are opening.ÔÇØ

The armoured door to the shuttleÔÇÖs cargo bay slowly rolled up to reveal a humanoid figure in a space suit carrying a multi-mode rifle, which he aimed at the paralysed craft.

ÔÇ£HeÔÇÖs got a rifle! Take ÔÇÿim Polt!ÔÇØ

Since the shuttle was now running on autopilot, Poltergeist found it relatively simple to make his attack run, although matters were slightly complicated by his desire not to hit his friends and the shortage of time he had. As he closed, the bright stream of energy bolts that hammered into IC-1 made this lack of time more evident. Poltergeist fired two shots into the inviting gap, the first hitting the upright figure to devastating effect and the second causing a minor explosion within the cargo space, blowing everything out into the void except a lone charred boot held magnetically to the floor. The tractor beam, however, was unaffected and still held IC-1 in its colourful embrace. This situation was quickly rectified with a precise burst.

ÔÇ£Thanks, Polt!ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£We owe you a drink, bud!ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Just focus on staying alive and getting those other shuttles.ÔÇØ

Now freed, Steelfingers and Cutthroat exacted revenge on their previous captor.

ÔÇ£ThatÔÇÖs what I call going out with a bang!ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Yeah! OK, now whereÔÇÖve those other two got to?ÔÇØ

The impatient shuttle was having a torrid time from IC-4: itÔÇÖs tractor beam, shields and life support system were all badly damaged and itÔÇÖs engines had taken a couple of hits. The shuttleÔÇÖs pilot knew his time was running out, so he afterburned and flew dead straight for a few seconds to get Carrion and Showcase directly behind him and heading straight for him. He took a lot of hits as he slammed on his retro rockets and decelerated extremely quickly, closing the gap to under 300m before activating the shuttleÔÇÖs self-destruct, attempting to hit them with the full force of the explosion. Carrion noticed the rapidly decreasing distance and turned sharply to avoid a collision. This meant he was heading away from the explosion and took the force of the blast (and a couple of small chunks of white-hot titanium) with the back of his craft. As a result his engines were damaged, though not heavily, since his shields took the major part of the impact.

ICÔÇÖs 1-3 all ganged up on the final shuttle, attempting to disable itÔÇÖs tractor beam as quickly as possible, while being careful to keep their distance as much as they could. The shuttle twisted and turned heroically, but in vain as itÔÇÖs engines were hit again and again until it could barely crawl through space. It was finished off with a single questor missile from Livewire, enabling them all to back away to a safe distance.

ÔÇ£Any sign of that Violon?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£There was a faint moving anomaly about 1000km from the jumpgate, but it disappeared very quickly.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Hmm. Looks like it doesnÔÇÖt want to show itÔÇÖs face this time. Damage report,ÔÇØ requested Ben

SteveÔÇÖs fingers danced across his console as he brought up the information:

ÔÇ£According to our telemetry, ICÔÇÖs 2 and 3 are undamaged, IC-4ÔÇÖs engine is at 82% and itÔÇÖs life support is at 91%. IC-1, however, didnÔÇÖt fare so well. They sustained damage to their fore armor, HUD, CVD and lasers, all at 70- 75%, and itÔÇÖs Weapons pod is at 60%, so they can only use half their launch tubes. Steelfingers has also been injured, though not seriously- his LF is reading 83%ÔÇØ

Steelfingers, howÔÇÖre you doing

ÔÇ£Just a scratch, sir,ÔÇØ he reported, the trickle of blood running down his sleeve in plain view.

ÔÇ£Nevertheless, once weÔÇÖre all through the jumpgate, you are to return to base for repairs and report to medibay. Redwood will take your placeÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Yes, sir.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£LetÔÇÖs go and make our delivery.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Hyperdrive activatedÔÇØ

The jump anomaly seemed to form out of nowhere, hang around for a while then disappear. About thirty seconds later the jumpgate to Cronus flashed, but no ship appeared out of it. The SvobodaÔÇÖs Interceptors in turn then passed through the gate.

ÔÇ£Retrieving data.ÔÇØ

There was no space activity in the Cronus region. No shuttles, no transports, no patrol craft. This by itself was not unheard of, but given the amount of activity in Treas, this was slightly unnerving. The Svoboda decloaked and IC-1 docked to make her repairs.

ÔÇ£WhatÔÇÖs happening in the other region? WeÔÇÖve still got our probe there. Oh, and send those mighty ducks the self-destruct order. We don't want any innocents thinking their running to a safe haven and landing on one.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Mighty Ducks destroyed. Activating Tacops ComputerÔÇØ

The 3-D view of the Cronus region was quickly replaced with the view of the probeÔÇÖs region, and the three red targets stood out immediately. One Violon and two of itÔÇÖs fighter compliment, the fighters on their way to the probe and the Violon heading for the jumpgate. Before the Violon arrived at itÔÇÖs desteination, the fighters arrived at theirs and quickly launched a volley of missiles at it. Just as the Violon was nearing the end of its jump the missiles impacted and the view flashed back to the current region.

ÔÇ£Probe lost.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Looks like heÔÇÖs heading for us, or heÔÇÖs going to mine the jumpgate. Full alert- everybody watch the jumpgate and be ready to pound anything coming through.ÔÇØ

Five minutes passed.

ÔÇ£Looks like heÔÇÖs mining the gate.ÔÇØ Head to the station. LetÔÇÖs do what we came to do then figure out a way home.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Hyperdrive actived.ÔÇØ

[/rp]

Well, there we go for now. IÔÇÖm back biggrin.gif. Me and Eva are just off to celebrate our 3/4 anniversary cwm38.gif

Later,

------------------

Cmdr. Ben Zwycky

GCV Svoboda, ISSHQ (Saturn)

Centauri Flight Group Leader, Defence Wing - ISS Fleet

email:[email protected]

ICQ:72897748

"honour is what no man can give you, and no man can take away"

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Two chapters in a week! IÔÇÖm doing well smile.gif

[rp]0046 March 16th, 3001

ÔÇ£Docking beams activated. TheyÔÇÖve got us, Ben.ÔÇØ

The exterior of the station had a number of different coloured plates welded randomly across its surface, and the majority of the residential sections of the station appeared to be without power. The Svoboda was slowly brought in to the main docking bay, and it became apparent where those plates had come from. Interior dividing bulkheads either had large sections cut out of them or had been removed completely. As the docking confirmation light all lit up, a message came through the internal station network:

ÔÇ£Activating CommlinkÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Welcome to Centauri Station, Commander! Where is the transport?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Transport?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£We were told to expect a terran transport escorted by a terran battlecruiser.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£IÔÇÖm afraid there must have been a misunderstanding. WeÔÇÖre the transport- we filled all our shuttles with spare parts, repair materials and weapons for bringing here. We even filled what little space we had left in our transporter room. Not as good as an MRT-15 I know, but it should help.ÔÇØ

We are grateful for your efforts, and those parts will come in very handy, but as you can see, our need is great. While your cargo is being unloaded, please make your way to the main control room, as I would like to discuss some things with you. An escort is just arriving at your airlock now.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£IsnÔÇÖt your transporter working?ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Yes, but it is not at 100% efficiency, and there have been a few minor incidents.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Hmm. I donÔÇÖt particularly want to be a ÔÇÿminor incident, but our own transporter is working just fine. Send us the co-ordinates and IÔÇÖll be there within a few seconds.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£As you wish, Commander.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Co-ordinates received,ÔÇØ reported Karen, ÔÇ£Relaying them to the transporter room.ÔÇØ

A couple of seconds later the familiar spatial anomaly appeared in front of BenÔÇÖs eyes and before he could say another word he was in the spacious main control room of the station. The tacops viewer dominated one side of its circular wall and a multitude of screens and consoles of various descriptions covered the remainder, most of them manned. In the centre of the room were a couple of almost semicircular consoles with a swivel chair in the middle, on which sat the station Commander. He stood to greet Commander Zwycky.

ÔÇ£Ah, Commander, welcome. As you can see, we have some major problems. ÔÇØ he said, indicating to one of the bigger screens which was showing a series of internal views of sections of the station.

Perhaps the most disturbing illustration of the stations degradation was the view of the stationÔÇÖs main welcoming hall. Public access terminals, comms terminals, and the majority of the shops and restaurants had been totally gutted, their materials and parts no doubt scavenged for more vital station systems. These were the hallmarks of a fortress that had been under siege for a long time.

I had no idea things were this bad. How could you run out of parts so quickly? I was here one week ago and everything seemed.

A faint tremor interrupted him, as did an alarm on one of the consoles

to be fine.

ÔÇ£Explosion on Deck 12, section 38. Hull breach in sections 38 and 39 on Decks 12 and 13ÔÇØ

The residential section, sighed the Station Commander tiredly. Send repair team 6 and security team looking down a list on his console screen, three. He rattled off the orders as if he had given them for the tenth time that day (in fact it was only the fourth).

ÔÇ£We have a number of saboteurs on board. They wrecked perscan with a logic bomb and ever since have been almost impossible to track, except by the wake of destruction they have left behind. This is a very large station and there are a lot of places to hide in it. We know they are probably based somewhere in the residential section, since it was evacuated three days ago and main power to it was cut yesterday, but even that has 12 levels and 100 sections on each level. Plus there are the service tunnels and air ducts- we could be searching for weeks and not find them.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£So weÔÇÖve got to get perscan back on line.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Believe me weÔÇÖve tried, but every time we scrub the system and reinitialise it, the logic bomb reinstalls itself and scrambles everything again.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£OK, I think I have someone who can help there. Svoboda, this is Zwycky.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Yes, Commander.ÔÇØ[/rp]

This plot is going to develop slowly, but will be pretty complex in a while. Anyone wanting to be part of it should contact me at [email protected] You can still use my profile address, but that is not going to get to me as quickly. I have to talk to my landlord about getting this phone line sorted frown.gif

Later,

------------------

Cmdr. Ben Zwycky

GCV Svoboda, ISSHQ (Saturn)

Centauri Flight Group Leader, Defence Wing - ISS Fleet

email:[email protected]

ICQ:72897748

"honour is what no man can give you, and no man can take away"

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Well, with a delay lengthened by a very stressful job (which is now over ) and lack of phone line (which has now been put in ) on we go:

[rp]

0100 March 16th, 3001

"OK, let's see what we have here," enthused David Briggs, as he hooked up the System Infiltration Console, "Hmm. Comms, Logistix, Weapons, Tacops, Tactical, Perscan."

The system administrator gasped at the ease with which Briggs was able to access the station's most vital systems.

"You guys really need to upgrade your security system. I didn't even need your access codes to get in here. I know some good people you could talk to about that, but we'll worry about that later."

He nervously agreed. David tapped a few keys and brought up a series of windows of scrolling text.

"OK, scrub and reinitialise perscan. I'll be monitoring all the incoming and outgoing message traffic to all these systems, and hopefully we'll see where that bomb is coming from."

"OK, formatting."

The perscan activity monitor dropped to zero, and the perscan screen changed from a jumble of random characters to a blank screen. While they waited, the administrator searched through the software datacubes in his personal safe and Briggs eagerly watched his screen for any anomalous system behaviour. A few minutes later,

"OK, it's clean. Reinitialising." The administrator inserted a datacube into the slot and a single spinning galcom logo appeared on the perscan screen.

"Administrator retinal scan required." Announced the console. The retinal scanner was activated and the administrator obliged.

"Identity confirmed. Proceeding."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

INITIALISING SYSTEM TOOLS

LOADING STATION MODEL

LOADING PERSONNEL IFF CODES

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-----------------------------------------------------------------------

"Same every time."

"Yes, gotcha! Hmm, that might be awkward."

"What have you got?"

"You see here? The weapons computer sent two files with almost the same name; the second one has a space before the file extension. That's the virus- it's in the weapons computer."

"Well, we can't shut down the weapons computer, the station would be defenceless! And anyway why didn't they make the logic bomb take the weapons computer down?"

"Maybe it will when they send a trigger message, but I don't think it'll be as simple as shutting down the weapons computer."

"Simple? It takes a lot longer to reinitialise the weapons computer than perscan- there are an awful lot more subsystems."

"What I meant was, the virus in the weapons computer is there to keep the virus in perscan running. Maybe there's another virus monitoring the one in the weapons computer, and another one monitoring that, and those other viruses might do something more serious than just reload the others."

"So what do we do? We can't shut everything down at once. If you're right, even a tiny delay between system shutdowns could trigger something serious. Just shutting everything down anyway would cause mayhem."

"So we have to isolate all the systems from each other before we reinitialise them."

"Isn't that going to trigger just what we're trying to avoid?"

"Not if they don't notice. You ever written a psi-deck program?"

"Of course, what has- you mean simulate all the stations systems? The psi-deck doesn't have that kind of processing power."

"Not on it's own. Half the station is evacuated, so a lot of system resources aren't being used, and this little toy has a bit more kick than you think," Briggs smiled, proudly tapping his console. "Anyway, we only need to simulate the signal traffic between the systems. First of all we need to route each system link through two adaptive simulation spaces in series, but just set them to passive learning for now. It'll take a while, but shouldn't set off any alarms."

"We hope. I'll bring up the files from the psi-deck."

"The psi-deck's adaptive programs are good for a lot of things, and I'd have no hesitation in using them if there was no alternative, but they're not designed for this kind of simulation, so they tend to be a little imprecise and use a lot of system resources."

"Which are at a premium. What else have you got, then?"

"I've got a couple of much more specific and efficient simulation programs. Here you go- it's called Smooth Talker. The interface is a bit basic, but it does the job."

"Hmm. I see what you mean. Sort of reminds me of Psi-OS 9."

"It uses a highly modified and streamlined version of Psi-OS 8, but if you know Psi-OS 9, then you shouldn't have too many problems with it."

0130 March 16th, 3001

A faint light briefly shimmered in each of Centris Station's weapons turrets.

IOD Turret 8, Centris Station

System Engineer Mike Weston and Marine James Foster surveyed their new temporary home. Mechanically it was reasonably well maintained, since it was such a critical system, but it obviously hadn't been occupied for quite a long time- a few burnt and broken circuit boards and a couple of leftover lengths of plasma conduit formed a haphazard pile on the gunner's seat and the whole gunner's area, including this pile, was decorated with a thin brown layer of dust. Mike cleared the pile from the seat and cleaned the gunner's console screen before performing a routine diagnostic.

"I sure like the view," grinned James as he looked out at the beautiful Sa-marilad (Heaven's Fire) Nebula through the turret's armoured bubble canopy. He could have no idea how many pairs of eyes were looking back at him.

Classified reports were analysed. Secret meetings and discussions were held- some heated, some desperate, some calm. Plans were formed (some risky, some ambitious) and messages sent out. A chain of events was started. Shrouded figures in various darkened rooms thought they were in control of what was about to happen. Only the unforgiving passage of time would reveal who was in control of what.[/rp]

[ 08-01-2001: Message edited by: Ben Zwycky ]

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0230 March 16th, 3001

"Briggs, this is Zwycky. Progress report."

"All simulation spaces are active and running smoothly. We're ready to isolate the station turrets and missile pods. Are they all manned yet?"

"We have one of the Svoboda's marines and systems engineers at each emplacement ready to reinitialise and activate manual turret control at your command. It's not pretty but it's a whole lot better than nothing. Let's hope no-one decides to put the station's defences to the test in the next few hours."

"I'm with you on that one, sir. We're on it."

The administrator typed in the isolation command, placed his finger over the "proceed" key, winced, and pressed it.

Nothing happened.

No explosions, no alarms, no warning lights, no changes in any system sounds or screens.

The administator looked up at Briggs, who was calmly examining a data flow diagram on his screen.

"Did it work?"

" 'Course it did. What did you expect? No-one's going to notice any change unless they try to do something unusual on the system. Tell our techs they can reinitialise the turrets and lets move on to the next system."

"OK, comms?"

"No, we'll leave that until last, since it's the most visible system from the outside. Let's break the rest of the links then get perscan and the weapons computer up and running again, so we can find those saboteurs. How would your troops communicate if the stations comms computer went down?"

"They have a backup system- their communicators can link directly to each other without the comms computer, but only up to a limited range, and it drains their power cells significantly, so they can't use them for more than half an hour or so of actual broadcasting and receiving. Generally we tell them to send text messages where possible, as that uses less power, but it's pretty slow and awkward for them, so they're trained to move round in squads and take it in turns being the comms guy for their squad."

"Hmm- we could solve the range problem by routing the text messages through the Svoboda's comms computer. But only as long as it's just text messages, because it's only designed to cope with the ships own message traffic, which is an awful lot less bandwidth than a station's."

"Right. All system connections are severed. Turrets are scrubbed, reinitialising and responding to manual control. Scrubbing perscan and the weapons computer."

0300 March 16th, 3001

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SYSTEM ADMINISTRATION LOG

0243 TURRETS ISOLATED

0245 TURRET CONTROL SYSTEMS PURGED. MANUAL CONTROL ACTIVATED

0248 ALL SYSTEM LINKS SEVERED

0250-0257 WEAPONS COMPUTER SYSTEM PURGED

0252-0256 PERSCAN SYSTEM PURGED

0254 POWER GRID SWITCHED TO MANUAL CONTROL.

0259 WEAPONS COMPUTER SOFTWARE REINSTALLATION BEGUN

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

0325 March 16th, 3001

"OK, we can put in this security program for now. It's a placeholder really, but it should be different enough from what you had before to stop them getting in for a while."

"Right- so, we can start up perscan now."

"Yep, it won't have the IFF's loaded yet, but we should be able to work out which ones are the bad guys once we've accounted for all of our people. Disable the alarms before you start it up, though. We don't want them to know we've got our eyes back."

"Done. Restarting."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

INITIALISING STATION PERSONNEL SCANNER SYSTEM

LOADING STATION MODEL ............ DONE

LOADING OBJECT DATABASE ............ DONE

LOADING VIEWER ............ DONE

LOADING SYSTEM TOOLS ............ DONE

RETRIEVING DATA FROM STATION SENSORS

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

A rotating 3D model of the station grew from the middle of the screen to form the station overview, filled with thousands of little blue dots indicating the position of every person on the station.

"Okay, let's cut to the chase. Bring up the residential section."[/rp]

OK, pending a couple of permission issues, this story should be up and running again (I hope )

Anyone wanting to take part must email me first at [email protected] (I should have a non-vanity email adress to give you all by tomorrow)

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[rp] The model of the station broke apart into large sections and the residential section rotated and grew to fill the entire screen.

"Sergeant Ko-gin, would you like to account for your men?"

The burly commander of the station's marine contingent peered over the administrator's shoulder at the perscan screen. He pointed at various locations on the screen.

"That should be team 4, team 8, team 3, team ... hmm. Those your guys?" He inquired indicating a cluster of dots near the edge of the station.

"No, mine are either on my ship or in the turrets. Looks like those are our playful friends, and they've made themselves right at home. How many do we have...6, 8... 10"

"And in a very defendable area. They can see far up the only access corridor in either direction, and they probably have their own detectors and booby traps all around them."

"But, they're right on the edge of the station- only the station armour between them and the outside."

"You mean land troops on the outside and cut or blast through? They must have predicted that- They'd spot you in a second."

"Not exactly... Commander?"

"Yes, Briggs?"

"We have located the saboteurs. They have a small encampment right on the edge of the station."

"Right on the edge?"

"That's right, sir. Here are the co-ordinates."

"Hmm... well, that'll make things a whole lot easier, won't it?"

"Yes it will, sir."

"I'll launch and cloak the Svoboda. Tell me if you find any others."

"Right, let's see if they have anyone somewhere else- bring up the vital station systems and their surroundings."

The station model reformed then instantly broke apart and another section rotated and grew to fill the screen.

"Tacops Computer, clear- Main Computer, clear."

Another section,

"Weapons Computer, clear- Station Command Centre, clear."

Another Section,

"Operations, clear- Comms Computer, clea- no, wait, who is that?"

"Those are my guys- team two."

"But aren't there normally five guys in each patrol? There are six dots there."

"Rotate that view. See, there, that one's seperate from the group. He's in a service duct."

"Team two, investigate unidentified individual in the service duct 5 metres north of your position."

"Aye, sir- checking it out."

"Other areas: Team 1... Team 5... Team 7. Looks like he's the only one unaccounted for, and we can start planning our assault."

Ola Ti-tor, the leader of team 2 silently signalled to his men. One of his men moved to the hatchway entrance, two others moved to the right side with weapons at the ready, and Ola and the remaining man stood ready on the left- they were in position. He nodded. The man at the entrance quickly opened the hatch and backed away, Ola and the man opposite him quickly aimed their rifles down the duct, switching to infra-red view in the dim light in the duct. The shape of part of a human form glowed clearly against the cold background.

"Halt! Identify yourself."

"System Engineer Ugo Ga-wol, performing maintenance on the power grid."

"Sir, do we have a system engineer by the name of..."

"Grenade!"

The unmistakable clank, clank, clank of metallic objects bouncing along a metallic surface were temporarily drowned out by a burst of automatic rifle fire ricocheting down the duct. Then came the scrambling of humanoid bodies diving out of the way of the entrance hatch, then the huff of a smoke grenade and the deafening boom of a frag grenade.

"You guys all right?"

"Yes, sir."

"Is he still there?"

"I can't see through all this hot smoke."

A disembodied voice from Ola's communicator gave him the news, "don't bother, he beamed back to his base before the grenades went off. Check whether he was on his way to or coming back from planting a device."

"Aye sir, on our way."

One minute later the report came back, "sir, we may have a problem."[/rp]

Well, I'll be packing up my comp tomorrow for the big move to my home for the next year (at least) and which after the 8th of September will be me and Eva's first marital home

I should be up and running again by the middle of next week, so I should be able to carry on with this story.

Later,

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[rp] The small, flat circular box was only noticeable to someone very familiar with the room. It was placed on the ceiling almost directly above the comms computer, matching the shape and size of the service hatch it replaced. The only give-away was the lack of handles for opening it.

"How long has that been there?"

"Sir, it appears that one of the service hatches has been replaced with a flat-panelled device of the same size and shape. It's unclear how long it has been there."

"We'll have to assume not very long since your guy was still so close to the scene. Look around carefully for other devices, but be prepared to make a quick exit. Good work. Teams 1, 5, 6, 7, and 9 to 12- search your assigned areas, especially near vital station systems, for new flat-panelled objects. They could be instead of an entrance hatch, ventilation grid, anything."

"Aye, sir"

"On it."

"On our way."

"Right, we'll need to contain and destroy those saboteurs before they do any more damage."

"That's being worked on. How's it going, Doug?"

"Everything's under control- a quick Maori side-step and we're in. Are the shields ready yet?"

"Yep, I've got a tech down there and they're responding to manual control."

"OK, the Commander's going to co-ordinate things. McIlroy out."

"A quick what?"

"Maori sidestep. Oh, it's Doug using his rugby terminology again. The Maori are an originally aboriginal human race who live on many small islands in the south Pacific on Earth. They were famous for their very large, fast and aggressive rugby players, and their war dance before each game."

The Svoboda glided invisibly into position, about a click from the station.

"Co-ordinates locked."

"Anyway, when a normal player wanted to break through an enemies' defensive line, he would either charge at a gap, try to draw in defenders to make gaps for other players or weave their way through using their agility and speed. The Maori became renowned for a slightly different tactic, which became known as the Maori sidestep."

"Which was?"

"Charge straight at an opposing player, knock him down, then walk over him."

"I like the sound of that," smiled Sergeant Ko-gin.

"Briggs, stand by to lower the shields on my mark."

"Aye, sir- standing by, Weapons computer on-line in 2 min- Woah, Oh, ****!"

"What?"

"Someone's just sent a ping through the system! The comms computer's going crazy- it's trying to send signals to all the other systems at once."

"Comms are down- switching to backup system."

Three faint tremors came in quick succession, almost merging into a rumble.

"What was that? The flat-panelled devices! All teams, report!"

"Briggs, lower shields!"

"Hang on, sir, they've knocked out internal station comms. I'll need to signal my tech."

The interference on incoming messages was so intense that there was barely any recognisable signal

"T--- -n- ---- -----ng -- ---ort"

*crackle* *hiss*

"This is no good, switch to emergency text only, routed through the Svoboda's comms. Right- all teams report."

Sergeant Ko-gin's handset converted his voice into a simple text message, encrypted it and then sent it via the Svoboda's comms computer to all his men's backup handsets.

"They're still in their base. Perscan is still working!"

"Lower the shields! Respond if you get this message"

"Weapons computer, comms and Tacops have all been destroyed. Oh, dear."

"Reports coming in from teams 1, 5, 6 and 7. Nothing to report in their areas. Also from 10 and 12."

"Come on guys, tell me you're alive."

"Well done, Briggs, shields are dropping."

On the bridge of the Svoboda, the console screens started to distort slightly. "There's a cloaked vessel in the region, maybe two," reported Steve.

Ben watched the station shield indicator drop rapidly towards zero. "Ready on my mark"

Simon thought aloud, "Think they can see this coming?"

"2, 1, fire!"

The Svoboda's main gun fired twice at full power and four Vagrants arced their way towards exactly the same point in quick succession. The first three, together with the IOD blasts blew a hole about 2m wide in the station's armour and the fourth flew right through the whole and detonated in the middle of the room to devastating effect. A column of flame erupted out of the hole in the station armour and a single sabouteur was catapulted headfirst out of the doorway into the corridor accompanied by a large amount of debris. As he hit the opposite wall, his head bent sideways before the rest of his body slammed against the hard metallic surface, then dropped to the floor with his head at a very unnatural angle.

"Mission successful, no survivors."

"Sir, team 2 reports that the flat-panelled device was an area denial bomb which has scattered anti-personnel mines all over the room the comms computer itself was probably destroyed by a second device triggered at the same time, which would have been the tremors we felt. Only two of them survived the blast. Teams 9 and 11 have been wiped out, probably by similar devices."

Pain and anger was detectable in Sergeant Ko-gin's voice as he spoke, "But we got those kra-chek. Teams 10 and 12, verify area denial weapon use around the Weapons and Tacops Computers."

Back on the Svoboda, an alarm sounded.

"Enemy vessels decloaking! 2 Carriers!"

Battle had begun.[/rp]

Sorry to leave you all at this point, but I've got to go and get married Hopefully I'll have the next chapter by the end of the month. Later,

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Well, it's been too long since the last part.

[rp] 0350 March 16th, 3001

IOD Turret 8, Centris Station

“I’m getting hungry. Want some field rations?” offered Mike.

“Nah, thanks, I don’t eat on guard duty- I’ll get relieved in a couple of hours. You can head back to the ship, can’t you? I thought you were all done about half an hour ago.”

“That was configuring this turret with it’s own minor operating system to give you level two functionality independent of the weapons computer. Now we have to wait for Mr Briggs to re-initialise the weapons computer, so we can re-integrate everything and we’ll both be surplus to requirements.”

“Er, right. So basically you’re stuck here with me until then.”

“Basically. Should be about… another 5 minutes, then I can get to work again.”

“And I’ve been working the whole time,” chuckled James.

“Is this what most of your jobs are like?”

“I’d say about 95% of our shifts are on guard or patrol duty, which is an awful lot of this, having to stay alert for hours on end, watching out for some bad guy or other to try and hurt my buddies, which doesn’t happen that often. It’s kappa team that gets to do all the neat stuff.”

Mike glanced around the turret and then out at the stars “I guess I didn’t really appreciate how boring your job is most of the time. I mean I always have little things to do, or things I can do to pass the time. It doesn’t matter that much if I’m not concentrating when there’s no work to do, and I can always see the results of my work almost immediately, systems fixed, settings optimised, components upgraded, gadgets built. How do you take satisfaction in your work- I mean what keeps you going and makes you glad you became a marine?”

“I think of all the people I care about who need protecting, and all the people who are still alive because of me.”

“Hmm… yeah,… thanks,” said Mike quietly.

“Your welcome.”

After an awkward pause, Mike volunteered, “you get a nice view once in a while too, I guess.”

“Occasionally.”

Mike’s communicator began emitting a quiet but high-pitched whine. He looked at it screen which was filled with rapidly changing characters.

“What the-?”

“What’s wrong?”

“My communicator’s going crazy.”

“I’ll check mine. Svoboda, this is Foster. Do you read?”

“Svoboda here. What is it Foster.”

“Weston’s communicator’s just gone crazy. I was just checking we still had comms.”

“Internal Station Comms have gone down. Svoboda’s external comms remain unaffected. Sit tight and await further instructions.”

“Acknowledged. OK, Mike get ready for some noise.”

“What do you mean? Hey, now it’s…”two faint rumbles almost together interrupted him “…gone dead.”

“That’ll be us taking ‘em out,” grinned James, “Whenever we’re told to sit tight, we know something loud is going to happen pretty soon. I sort of expected something louder than that.”

“Why not just say directly what’s going to happen?”

“You never know who might be listening in. For important plan changes, strategic updates, they generally use hyper-encrypted text messages.”

A much louder set of rumbles, recognisable as explosions, echoed around their tiny compartment.

“Then what was that?”

“Maybe that was us taking them out? Svoboda, what just happened?”

“Guys? Will you stop all calling us at once, please? The saboteurs set off a couple of devices just before our assault. We’ll give you a fuller update shortly.”

“Well, I supp-“

“Enemy vessels decloaking! All turrets lock on targets and fire only when they approach within 2 clicks.”

Mike ducked out of the way as James’ seat rose into the ‘ready to fire’ position, and James’ attention switched to the turret’s independent radar screen. Two new red dots appeared. “OK, what do we have here? A zenstar and a viper, eh? Eanie, meanie, mynie, zenstar.” Distance: 5.2 clicks and closing.

“Launch all fighters! Tell the station to do the same. Target the nearest carrier and engage. Assign three vagrants and two ralixes to launch on FATAL. Maintain cloak as much as possible.”

Jana waved Frank goodbye and watched his interceptor being catapulted out of it’s bay through the cloaking field in an eruption of rippling space and electrical activity.

In her mind she made a simple request: ‘Keep him safe for me, please? He’s in your hands now.’

The zenstar flew straight as an arrow, right at turret 8, almost looking down the barrel of the silent gun. Distance: 3.8 clicks and closing fast.

A cloud of blue dots appeared on the Station Perscan screen.

“Those are not my guys!”

“Intruders on Deck 4! They’re closing in on the Control Centre!” [/rp]

I'm already working on the next bit, so hopefully before the same time next week. Later,

[ 11-16-2001: Message edited by: Ben Zwycky ]

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I am doing well I had a couple of lessons cancelled, so here you are!

[rp] ”Get the guards inside and lock down all entrances to the control centre!”

The heavy titanium security doors slowly closed and met together with a solid clunk.

“That’s not going to hold them for long- they might be able to override the lock.”

“I know something they can’t override- Svoboda, we’ve got some visitors.”

The zenstar’s triple T2 lasers began firing a staccato stream of energy bursts right at James’ position, making him flinch as they first impacted and lit up the shields directly in front of him, but he still kept the turret’s crosshairs right in the middle of the zenstar’s TTD. Distance: 2.8 clicks and closing. “Come on…”

‘Dive, spiral, climb, burst,’ thought Frank as his craft danced to the motions of his hand, ‘lock, launch.’

“Perseus away!” Announced Firehail as the sleek missile arced its way towards its target.

What functional fighter craft (and some of them barely) that remained of the station’s compliment slowly leaked out into space, the automatic launchers long since scavenged for precious components.

The two attacking Violons with all their support craft launched outnumbered the defenders by almost two to one, not counting the station. Not counting it at all.

The hapless viper weaved this way and that, but Frank’s missile still struck home, reducing its shields to almost zero and sending the tiny craft into a tumble. Another burst and the craft was effectively disabled. In lining up his shot, however, he allowed some enemy craft to line up their own, and was hit by a volley from each of the three zenstars on his tail.

[email protected]#%!”

Distance: 2.1, 2.0

“Surprise!” rejoiced James as the beam lanced out at the incoming vessel, lighting up the cockpit canopy. The pilot, as much confused by the source of the light as dazzled by it, carried on on the same course, giving the beam time to wear down the craft’s shields and slice through the armoured glass canopy to deadly effect.

“Gotcha!” James shouted as the craft’s reactor housing was breached and the little craft burst in a pretty shower. The viper completed it’s attack run and flashed past James’ turret. “+&*, that was fast!”

“Override this.” Grunted Joost van Weig as he slammed an Instant Blockade mark IIB over the last remaining set of double doors and activated it’s shield generator. “OK, that should keep them out for a good while.”

“And us in here, if we lose the Svoboda. Unless you want to trust the station’s transporters, that is. How far away are they?”

“20 of them are about 50 m down corridor 2, and the other ten are about 100m down corridor 4.”

“Aiming to attack both doors at the same time. How’s our ambush?”

“Well, we’ve got 6 of your guys and 10 of ours waiting for the group of 20 and only 3 of your guys and two of ours waiting for the ten. I don’t like those odds.”

“I don’t think Henry, Jason and Graham will be too upset,” grinned Joost.

The Vagrant and ralixes homed in on the Svoboda’s target and impacted, despite the Violon employing its EMD and activating its cloak at the last minute.

“Can’t tell what damage they did, but their sheilds were too low for them not to have done any.”

“Reports coming in from the turrets that they are finding the fighters very difficult to hit manually.”

Tell them to focus all their firepower on the capital ships where possible. They can’t take the station without them. We’ll concentrate on the fighters.

“Engines are gone!” shouted Firehail, as his indicator dropped to zero. The interceptor’s primary safety system deteced the loss of power and activated the emergency thrusters to bring the craft to a full stop. They were a sitting duck.

“Eject!”

“No response! It’s malfunctioning!”

‘God, if you’re there, get me out of this one!’

In the distance, Frank could see two of his pursuers closing in for the kill, even without the aid of his radar. The converging pulses of energy, the sickening scream of burning armour, Frank saw his life pass before his eyes, then suddenly a viper streaked across the paths of the two hunters, ripping off a wing from one of them, and ploughing into the cockpit of the other, destroying all three. Firehail locked onto their remaining attacker. He was going straight at them, 3 clicks and closing fast. 2 and a half, 2,…

“Why isn’t he firing?”

Just as the question left Firehail’s lips, an IOD blast slammed into the side of the zenstar, followed by another, and another, and then two firestars finished it off.

“Come on you stupid ejection system, work!” shouted Firehail, pounding the control panel, first with one hand, then both, then he hit both walls of the cabin at once. Something went clang[i/], something went fzzz, some lights came on, then the escape pod ejected.

Firehail whooped with delight, Frank just sat in stunned silence.

God, it seemed, was in the mood to confirm his existence.

With all three of their HUD units hooked into the station’s perscan system, Henry and Jason Shaw and Graham Trein watched the enemy troops walk into their trap.

Jason pulled the pin on two grenades in his left hand, and held his assault rifle in his right. Henry silently switched the safety catch on his ZS10 to OFF. They were standing in a corridor that intersected corridor 4 at right angles about 60m from the control room exit.

Henry counted with his rifle one, two, three and they began to run towards the junction. In their soft shoes and body armour, even though they were running at an almost full sprint, they were making very little noise as they went past the corner.

0400 March 16th , 3001 Corridor 2 (45m from station control centre)

Flanked by 5 of his buddies on either side, the marine aimed his PRL at the entrance to the station command centre and pulled the trigger. The spectacular roar of the missile and the mighty explosion as it impacted right in the middle of the doors left them damaged, but surprisingly intact, due to the unseen protection and reinforcement of the instant blockade on the other side. It did however, shake the defenders crouched in two groups 20m either side of the end of the corridor, waiting for someone to approach the door.

0401 March 16th , 3001 Life support duct 27, grille 28, above corridor 2 (122.5m from station control centre)

Kappa team member Mirek Novotny eased the grille loose and lifted it up into the duct where he lay. Bracing his legs against the sides of the duct, he leaned his upper body out of the duct down into the corridor, bringing his BMP-9 sniper rifle out with him. Flattening his body against the ceiling, he zoomed in with his viewfinder.

Jason threw his grenades with plenty of wrist action, so that the grenade in his fingers flew further than the one in his palm. Henry emptied half a clip into the group, finishing off one and badly injuring another. The group were alert, and so managed to fire off a few rounds at the pair, hitting Jason twice in the side and spinning him round slightly as they went past the other corner. The grenades went off a second later, taking out another three (including the one Henry had injured, and slightly disorientating most of the remainder. Three tried to chase their attackers round the corner, but were cut down from behind by the two station security men crouched where Henry and Jason had started. They were finished off by the crossfire generated between them and Henry and Jason, now prone in the middle of the corridor.

At full zoom, Mirek could see that the guy with the PRL was lining up for a second try, so Mirek took him out with a single head shot. His hand twitched as he fell, firing his next rocket into the floor by his side, which detonated to devastating effect, all but vaporising half of his nearby comrades and depositing their remains on the deck below. The other 5 were badly burnt and either unconscious or momentarily stunned. The remaining 10 further up the corridor were understandably surprised.

Mirek carried his momentum on, ‘breathe, hold, squeeze, aim, squeeze.” Two more down.

The defenders by the control room took advantage of the confusion (which Mirek continued to add to)

And charged forward to positions at the corners of the corridor. Some of the station marines charged a bit too far and were cut down in the ensuing firefight, which didn’t last long.

0401 March 16th , 3001 life support duct 31, grille 18 above Corridor 4 (77.5m from station control centre)

Having loosened the grille below him, Graham took advantage of Henry and Jason’s extremely distracting tactics by removing it. While the three remaining Intruder marines were considering what to do, he unleashed a long and loud spread of bullets at them from his hiding place 5 metres away, injuring two of them, before he crawled backwards as fast as he could to avoid the return fire which came quickly. In doing so, his rifle got caught in the duct opening and he abandoned it there, drawing his SCAT 1 pistol and aiming it at the opening as he crawled back.

One of the injured marines ran as best he could to the opening and got out a grenade to throw into the duct, however he had failed to notice the noise that Graham had covered up with his burst of gunfire.

The noise of the grenades he’d dropped at the same time.

Before he could pull out the pin, they detonated at his feet

The remaining two marines, one lightly injured and one badly injured, both slightly concussed, were finished off by a trademark attack from the silent strike twins.

“Looks like we’re done here.”

“You should get that seen to,” remarked Henry, looking at the blood slowly seeping through the hole in Jason’s body armour.

“Yeah, stings a bit. Got careless there.”

“This is more like it!” exulted James as his turret’s laser sliced into the Violon’s armour.

“Get him, Jim!” applauded Mike.

“Ben, the second carrier is cloaking.”

“He’s jumping!”

“All visible enemy craft are entering hyperspace.”

It was true. All the remaining fighters were heading for the jumpgate to Varan.

“Due not pursue. Remain in defensive formation around the station. I want no dead heroes, understood?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Acknowledged. Maintaining station orbit.”

0404, March 16th , 3001 Corridor 2 (45m from station control centre)

Jon Tulloch watched horrified as an enraged station marine ran to the intruders’ prone, burnt bodies and pummelled them with bullets, screaming the word “Kra-chek!” over and over again. He continued screaming and waving his rifle at them long after the clip ran out and the rifle just rapidly clicked, then he dropped his rifle, dropped to his knees and his screams slowly turned to sobs. A fellow marine ran to him and put his arm round his shoulders.

“The Sla’ti killed his parents.”

"Oh- I'm sorry."[/rp]

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