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Quazar

Elliptical Orbit

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The story posted here in the comming weeks will be unlike anything I have read in this forum. For this reason, I recommend that the audience review the history section of the manual to familiarize themselves with this largely overlooked period of Battlecruiser history.

Contrary to my intentions, this narrative won't be perfect. However, it is important to understand that RP is extends beyond the limitations of SinglePlayer and MultiPlayer. Narrative-based RolePlaying enters a world of emotions, real-time tactical command of one unit by multiple leaders, and other obscure aspects of the Battlecruiser universe. Feel free to PM me with any questions or comments you may have.

This story is pre-written (as in, finished right now). Therefore, it will be posted to this thread in full. So don't panic if more than a week goes by without a new post - it will be finished.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy!

[rp]

Terrans have always been fascinated by space exploration - shining stars, glowing nebulae, menacing black holes, the prospect of extera-terrestrial life, and the movements of commets and asteroids. While all of these aspects pose some level of potential danger, the last of these hazards is about to be realized....

[/rp]

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Prologue

[rp]

4:01 10/02/2467

Mars/Sol

Jenson Astronomical Observatory

Vice Administrator's Office

Bernard Sullivan walked slowly through the door to his desk and set a datapad onto its shiny surface. Moving to the opposite side of the desk, he paused and collapsed into his chair.

"At least my workspace hasn't changed," he half whispered after a long sigh.

As an Astronomic Observer, Bernard loved his job. In this day and age, stargazing was a rapidly advancing field of study. But 13 straight hours of briefing and press conferences was about all the 62 year old could take.

No new starstations had been built in nearly 60 years. With only government funded scientific facilities established on Mars within the last century, private research organizations were still restricted to Earth and its moon. Rumors had begun to spread that public resources were being utilized to conduct inhumane experiments to human and animal subjects on the Red Planet. Opposition to the government's Martian Plan was mounting.

"And after half a career of government-sponsored research," Bernard said wearily, "my work is never done."

Inhaling deeply, he sat up and grabbed the datapad.

Among the most vocal opponents to this and many other UFN policies were those labeled as the 'Insurgents' in the press release that the tired scientist now read. The group of politicians, lawyers and other dissatisfied citizens were gaining numbers and momentum. What lessons could history teach? Capitalism and communism hid under the guise of countless terminologies and factions, stretching across much of society and religion. This and other conflicts of interest had led to World War III, 130 million casualties and 18 million deaths in the late 21st century. Would this happen again?

4:04

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Here we go!

[rp]

7:43 10/02/2467

Mars/Sol

Colonist Settlement 2

Building C

Loud snoring of much deserved sleep was drowned out and then cut off by the louder beeping of a home communicator. Bernard moaned in protest before reaching up and pressing the [answer] button.

"Dr. Sullivan?" came the voice of Forbes' perky secretary.

"Yeah?" he said in a cracked and muffled voice.

"You're wanted at Display Room 3 immediately!"

Isaac Forbes, the boss, obviously had forgotten that Bernard worked night-shifts - not 24 hours per day! Bernard looked up, squinting hard at the readout on the communicator.

code:

time of day: 7:43

elapsed time: 16 seconds

[...3 lines of other info....]

encryption code: d8Gb5-2724t

"Uh.... OK thanks! I'll be there at 0800 hours." He pressed the [end] button and sprang out of his bed, uncharacteristically awake and alert.

The encoding format told Bernard everything. That frequency and signal packaging were developed and used exclusively by the JAO (Jenson Astronomical Observatory) staff only for bypassing the media and UFN surveillance. Something had gone critical! As Bernard prepared to leave, best and worst case scenarios began flashing through his mind. Had there been a confirmed observation of trans-light-speed radiation? Voyager 2, launched in 1977, was closing in on its 500th operational year. It was confirmed in 2664 to be at least 278 billion miles from the sun and 80% functional. Had the probe found something?

Then he stopped. Looking amusingly at himself in the mirror Bernard chuckled, "You know? Why don't you just go find out what happened?"

7:46

[/rp]

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[rp]

7:58 10/02/2467

Mars/Sol

Jenson Astronomical Observatory (JAO)

Operations Center

Level -4 (bellow ground)/Corridor 3

Personnel walked to and fro in the corridor, recording data and filling reports. Chief Administrator Isaac Forbes stood impatiently looking at a much-simplified and out-dated map of the known universe, his back facing Turbolift 7.

"Come on, Sullivan. This is what you've been waiting for!" he mumbled, glancing at his watch for the sixth time.

"Good morning, Isaac!" came the friendly holler of an all too familiar voice from his left, passing swiftly by to his right.

Recognizing the 'nothing's wrong' joke, Isaac grunted and ran after the Vice Admin. "Bernard WAIT!" he said catching up.

Bernard stopped, turned around and held out his hand expectantly. Isaac continued by, slipping a datapad into his hand before catching closing doors of Turbolift 5. "Take that to the front desk." he yelled over his shoulder before dissapearing behind the doors. This procedure was well rehearsed. For all any onlookers knew, nothing was wrong. Bernard found out later that Issac had purposely delayed his appearance at an 8 o'clock press conference to provide a perfect cover for this brief exchange. He looked at the datapad in his hand.

code:

E-mail messaging service: 2 unread messages

Command Prompt> _

Bernard hesitated. Only one message was for him. The other was most likely a memo to the PR Office on the status of the latest Cartography Chart. Inhaling slightly....

code:

Command Prompt> view message 2 [Enter]

Processing....

Date/Time: 10/02/2467 7:42

From: Chief Admin. Forbes

To: Vice Admin. Sullivan

SUBJ: Elliptical Orbit

A team, headed by Kurt Starr, has just spotted a large asteroid breaking up, sending

fragments flying from the Belt. Most left the system but 3 are headed toward the sun with an

average velocity of .34c (just over one third of light-speed). Meet Kurt and myself in

Display Room 9 ASAP!

This message will auto delete in 4 seconds....

8:07

[/rp]

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In this story, Marsz is the name of the space region in the Sol system while Mars designates the planetary region. Mars (without the z) also denotes the planetary object that resides within the space region.

[rp]

8:27 10/02/2467

Marsz/Sol

Starpath Starstation in orbit of Mars

Deck 8/Corridor 26

Isaac Forbes could see the doors 600 meters head of him. Those doors led to a conference room and a group of media personnel that possessed understandable suspicion of the Administrator. Because Forbes was put in charge of Jenson, he was apparently held responsible when a publication deadline was missed. But this time, it wasn't anyone's fault. The press hated that! Lack of information cost them viewership and, in turn, sponsorship. They had to blame someone! After years of only minor inter-stellar discoveries, the media needed a story. And if they didn't get one, propaganda would stir the people to action. Isaac would be out of a job.

On the other hand, he thought as the doors drew closer, it wasn't like nothing was happening. Many years ago, seven nuclear power plants on Earth imploded or melted down within a period of 3 weeks! The UFN was accused of abandoning the care of its homeworld in search of intelligent life only to let this happen. Following the last two of these incidents in April of 2415, 17 million people organized a planetwide strike, demanding that the government take action. The UFN Congress was sharply divided and no majority emerged to change the existing policy. After 52 years, and several legislative elections, the public mostly forgot about the problem when no more melt-downs occurred. Today, the few protesters remaining (and their children) were intensifying their political tactics.

But the public had grown increasingly impatient with these 'Insurgents' and the media was gradually following suit. Now the press needed someting new - a different story that would captivate their viewers!

Isaac stopped suddenly, almost running into a janitorial drone 2 meters from the doors. "And they have to pick on me, huh?"

8:31

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

8:13 10/02/2467

Mars/Sol

Jenson Astronomical Observatory

Viewing Building/Display Room 9

The room was shaped like a movie theater but with 300 fully functional consoles instead of the usual cramped seats. On each horizontal border of the main view-screen was a white line. Beyond this was a pair of tickers, each in turn bordered by a white line against a black backround. From top to bottom, the 4 tickers were colored: light green, light blue, yellow and bright red. Currently, 261 of the consoles were occupied by geologists, astronomical engineers and other JAO staff members. Kurt Starr sat at his terminal viewing a replay of the exploding asteroid. More than 90 satelites and probes across the system were now tracking the 3 asteroid fragments. Bernard Sullivan entered the room and immediately heard a sharp whistle. Turning, he saw Kurt looking at him and pointing to a vacant terminal that was four spaces to the left and one row forward from his own. Bernard quickly made his way to the terminal, sat down, logged in and slipped on his head set.

Sitting back in his chair Kurt activated the room's intercom system. "All right, ladies and gentlemen. We've got ONE of the admins here. Let's get this briefing started!" The conversation in the room quickly died down as everyone heard Kurt's voice in their head sets.

"OK here's the situation: ...."

8:17

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Starting here, the story alternates between two time frames: (1) Bernard's at Jenson, and (2) Isaac's at Starpath. This approach has worked well in stories such as Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings. Also, different perspectives and time frames may be required in any complex RP that has multiple authors. We will rejoin Isaac and his press conference once the Jenson timeline caches up.

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[rp]

8:18 10/02/2467

Mars/Sol

Jenson Astronomical Observatory

Viewing Building/Display Room 9

There was a long silence after Kurt finished talking. Of the three remaining asteroid fragments, only one was likely to hit the sun. The others traveled side by side in a possible elliptical solar orbit. But because they had not completed their first revolution, the exact path could only be guessed. The main view screen currently displayed the active radar scans of Radio V, a probe looking down on Sol from the north segment of its polar orbit of the Sol system (with an average 2.8 Billion kilometer orbital radius).

"... OK people, switch your headsets to the preset intercom channels and let's get to the bottom of this. Remember, none of this information leaves this room without administrative permission." Bernard said.

Conversations started up as personnel split into smaller groups of specialty without leaving their seats. Bernard established an isolated link with Frank Walsh (the chief geologist) and Kurt. He then leaned back in his seat, looked around at the terminals and thought about the underlying computing system. "Why don't we just simulate the plane of travel and estimate where the asteroids will go?"

Kurt sighed impatiently, "We already did that six times!"

"... And?" Frank said tilting his head toward Kurt.

"And the ending paths are too eratic, alright!?" Kurt snapped, clearly frustrated. "There are just too many variables. As the objects get closer to the sun, the computer changes its prediction each time we run the program!"

Bernard sat up, resting his elbows on the desk. "Play back the break-up again on the big screen."

The view on the screen changed to that of a satellite in solar orbit. The green ticker read:

[Recorded - 10/02/2467 7:38 - Asteroid Belt/Sol - Probe S18....]

Random space rocks of all shapes and sizes doted the screen as the camera slowly panned left. Suddenly the view violently shook for a moment and a nearly round asteroid in the top left corner was gone.

"Freeze it!" Frank said. "Kurt play back the same visual footage starting one-quarter of a second before you paused it and mark the two points. Display it on our three terminal screens at 2% recording speed."

"Good idea, Frank." Bernard agreed. Why should three people hog the big screen when 258 other researchers may need to use it? "I'm returning the main screen to the live radar view."

Bernard then turned his attention to his own terminal.

code:

Visual footage viewing program.

Processing request....

Data obtained on 10/02/2467 at 7:38 GMT....

Location: Asteroid Belt/Sol

Footage captured by: Probe S18

Playback speed: 2% of live recording

Elapsed Time between breaking points (at playback speed): 1 minute(s), 40 second(s)

"You know Kurt, it's funny to watch these geologists try and sort through all this code," Bernard said, covering the mouth piece of his headset.

From the next row back, Kurt laughed. Frank (who was down in the front right corner of the room) turned around in his seat, casting a suspicious gaze their way.

8:24

[/rp]

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[rp]

8:25 10/02/2467

Mars/Sol

Jenson Astronomical Observatory

Viewing Building/Display Room 9

Frank frowned, slowly nodded at Bernard and turned around. "Right, whatever! Go ahead and play it...."

The view on the three terminal screens started with the original asteroid partially out of sight. It slowly ripped apart indicating the explosion. Two of the three fragments moved into view, one above the other. The bottom fragment turned clockwise (relative to the camera) and the top one turned counter-clockwise. In the background, several other fragments moved away from Probe S18, heading out of Sol.

"Where's the third?" Bernard wondered aloud. "I thought there were three fragments headed toward the sun."

Frank speculated, rubbing his chin with his index knuckle. "It must have gone away from the probe's view... to its left."

Kurt sighed with frustration. "If only S18 had panned its camera left just a bit sooner or quicker we could have seen where the third fragment went."

"You can't expect it to do that." Frank shook his head. "With only a handfull of probes scattered across Sol, it's practically impossible to keep visual track of 200,000+ objects."

"Yeah, you're right." Kurt conceded. "Continue."

The view shook slightly and the fragments were gone. Uncertainty crowded into Bernard's mind. "Pause!" he said suddenly.

Puzzled Frank and Kurt looked at him.... "What is it?" Kurt finally asked.

The live radar view on the big screen now showed 2 objects. "No it didn't...." The whisper from Bernard over the intercom was hardly audible to the other two men.

"What's that?"

"Get Issac back here immediately!" Bernard stood up removed his headset and walked quickly to the nearest door, bumping 3 people along the way.

"Why? Where are you going?" Kurt yelled.

Bernard only gestured to them to follow as he reached the door.

8:28

[/rp]

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sorry to pst something that doesn't belong but i'd like to say i'm enjoying your writing, kinda reminds me of Dan Brown's books, Deception Point especially... you are left wondering what is really going on and what is so important that the guy's thinking but he doesn't say anything.

Keep it up, i really like it!!!

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Thanks, Laracuente! All comments (even constructive criticism) are welcome in this thread, so long as they pertain to this story. For a future story, I may start a sparate thread specifically for comments.

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[rp]

8:31 10/02/2467

Marsz/Sol

Starpath Starstation in orbit of Mars

Deck 8/Conference Room B

The doors opened and Isaac walked in shaking. Despite years of experience confronting invasive media, the 76 year old was always nervous. But here it was: the moment of truth....

"Ah, there he is!" The Starpath spokeswoman stepped away from the podium after hearing the opening doors. Issac stepped up to the podium. The atmosphere was formal and friendly on the surface. But underneath the polite smiles, firm hand shakes, and exchanged courtesies, suspicion plagued the room. And now was Isaac's chance to satisfy them.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the press, representatives of the United Free Nations: We at Jenson Astronomical Observatory are pleased to announce that the Galactic Cartography Chart of The Milky Way Galaxy for the year 2468 has been" - (there was a hint of anticipatory applause at the words 'has been') - "scheduled for release this comming January." His smile and enthusiastic tone were met with blank stares and low murmering.... "Our Cartography Chart of The Known Universe is due out the following year." Before the words even left his mouth, Isaac knew they would only worsen the situation. His mind now begged for any possible interuption! "I, I will take questions now."

The conference room erupted into a storm of hollering and yelling as Isaac searched for the reporter with the easiest question. Just as he was about to point to a bright and surprisingly calm young man, the Starpath spokeswoman lifted her hand in the air, signaling an interuption. The deafening silence returned with the exception of a faint beeping. She walked over to the door and activated a communicator on its right side.

"... It's for you, Dr. Forbes. You're wanted back at JAO right away!"

Isaac raised his hand, stepped down from the podium and walked toward the door as the press mobilized in pursuit! In the corridor, as Isaac walked the 700 meters to the docking port, media personnel surrounded him and shouted unrelenting questions. After about 4 minutes of repeating "I have no further comment," he finally stopped in his tracks, held up his hands and firmly said, "Ladies and gentlemen, please! I promise, you WILL get answers to your questions!" The echo of raised voices in the huge PR lobby partially subsided as the group descended the escalator to Deck 9.

Isaac chuckled. Apparently the egotistic media could be embarrassed as well. Another 50 meters to go, then he could relax for 10 minutes as the three-man capsule* returned the Chief Admin. to the red surface....

8:34

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

8:29

JAO

Viewing Building/Corridor 2

Bernard staggered through the corridor rubbing his eyes. Fatigue was setting in. After a few seconds, Frank and Kurt were right behind him. "Hey wait a minute, Bernard. Isn't this a little past your shift?"

Bernard threw his arms down, lifted his head and started walking faster. "There was no third fragment, guys! Check the radar - only two objects passed S18 and are headed toward the sun."

"But we all saw THREE objects, that were right together!" Kurt asserted.

"I'm going to the galley to try and get a sugar high. Have Isaac meet us in my office. I'm dead tired and must stay awake!"

The two men stopped as Bernard continued down the corridor. "... I did only see two bleeps on the big screen as we went out." Kurt reminisced.

Frank sighed and whispered, "We may have a UFO on our hands...."

8:31

[/rp]

*This story takes place 431 years before in-game spacecraft were first developed in 2899. If Terrans could transport hundreds of people over millions of miles between Earth and Mars without jumpgates or hyperdrive, then a surface to orbit operation using a Saturn-V type spacecraft is perfectly logical.

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Bernard's and Isaac's timelines are now synchronized.

[rp]

8:54 10/02/2467

Mars/Sol

Vice Administrator's Office

The three men were in Bernard's office, waiting for Isaac. Kurt sat at the desk twiddling his thumbs. Frank stood by the bookshelf reading Galactic Derelict by Andre Norton. Bernard slumped behind his desk with his forhead resting on his arm. The black leather chair was so comfortable that snores soon reached Kurt's ears. "You know Frank, it's amazing that this guy can fret and worry so much and still catch up on Zzz."

"Well, remember when he usually works: from 1800 to 0400 hours. Plus they called him in three hours early yesterday."

Kurt looked down and folded his hands in his lap. "Wow...."

The door opened and Issac burst in! "What'd I miss?"

Bernard lifted his head off his arm and sat up with a yawn. "Nothing. What did WE miss?"

Isaac Forbes laughed. "Well, I don't know about these guys. But you got the same garbage last night that I received today!" He motioned for Bernard to stand up.

"You BET I did!" Bernard rolled his eyes and stood up. "Just because we're in charge doesn't mean we have control over everything all the time."

"Exactly." Isaac sat down in Bernard's chair with a plop. "So what's the situation?"

Frank put down his book, grabbed the last remaining chair, sat down and put his palm on the desk. "A'right. Here's what we've been able to piece together: This morning at 7:36, a nearly round space rock in the Asteroid Belt broke apart into roughly 21 fragments. 19 of them have left Sol but the 2 bigest are headed toward the sun at a speed of around 3 million kph."

Isaac raised his hand. "Wait a minute. Two?" he said closing his eyes, and trying to recall what now seemed like distant memory.

Kurt nodded. "When Bernard got to Viewing Room 9, the live radar view displayed three objects heading out of the Belt. Visual footage captured by Probe S18 in the vicinity of the asteroid indicated only two objects passing by it and heading deeper into the system."

Bernard, who was left standing without a chair in his own office, now leaned against the corner of the room. "When we looked back up at the radar after viewing the S18 footage, there were only two asteroid fragments headed for the sun!"

Frank continued, "Detailed scans of the third object in the radar recording indicate an unusually high metal/plastic content."

"All asteroids have metallic composition. But plastic?" This was completely new to Isaac.

"That's what it looks like." Kurt sighed.

"You realize what this means!" Isaac asserted, leaning back in Bernard's chair. "Radar and visual censors, together, have rarely been fooled in the 450+ years they've been around."

Bernard sneezed, grasped a tissue from the dispenser on the desk and blew his nose. He cleared his throat, "Excuse me! ...Yeah but the resolution, particularly at the range of the Radio V probe, is at best too poor to properly identify the object."

"Well the radar would sooner miss a target than display one that's not there! And S18 indicates only two fragments." Kurt's expertise was unquestionable in this area. "By the way, that vibration in the visual footage was caused by the impact of microfragments and the subsequent corrections from the probe's thrusters."

Isaac sat up and slapped his own thigh. "OK! So we're back to the question of how the asteroid split appart in the first place."

No one spoke for nearly two minutes.... "The thing is," Frank said with a sigh, "that large of an energy discharge could only come from an explosion!"

"And when's the last time an asteroid simply blew up?" Kurt asked.

Frank grabbed a networked datapad from the desk and brought up his own geological database. "Well, a chemical explosion from these molecular structures has never been observed."

"What about on the nuclear level?" Bernard asked, folding his arms.

Frank slowly shook his head as he read silently. "Its possible, but again, we've never seen it happen."

"Well, it happened!" Bernard snapped. "And we've got to figure what we are going to do about it."

Isaac smiled. "All right, we'll take it from here, Bernard. Go get some sleep!"

9:05

[/rp]

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[rp]

17:46 10/02/2467

Mars/Sol

Colonist Settlement 2

Vicinity of Building C

The Martian landscape had always been breath-taking! But this afternoon, as the recharged Vice Administrator Bernard Sullivan jogged among the rocks in his standard-issue pressure suit, Olympus Mons* almost seemed to sparkle. On its top, was Bernard's place of employment, offering the best planetary view of the sky in Sol. Soon, he would have to end his exercise session and board the maglev** that would take him all those miles through the dispersed colony, up that formidable mountain and back to the bureaucracy therein....

17:47

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

17:58

JAO

Operations Center

Level 1/Corridor 4

Bernard quickly walked to the scheduled meeting room. His stomach was growling angrily. "Rats! Forgot to eat breakfast.... Oh well. At least you're awake, Bernard." he mumbled to himself.

The door slid open revealing Frank, Isaac and Kurt sitting around a table with more datapads and scattered papers than Bernard had ever allowed to accumulate in his own office.

"Uh.... Good afternoon, gentlemen. Getting your Ph.D's again?"

Kurt and Isaac laughed as Frank rolled his eyes. "Well, good 'morning' to you, Mr. Sullivan. Want some coffee?" Isaac held out a steaming black mug.

The appetizing aroma filled Bernard's nostrils. "Yes please!"

Frank smiled. "All right, men. Let's get him up to date."

"OK." Kurt began. "One fragment has passed its solar periapsis (or, point of closest approach to the sun). The other succumbed to the sun's gravitational pull and quickly dissapeared into its surface."

Isaac now held 5 pads in his right hand in a fanned out arrangement with three of the screens facing him. "The third object was definitely a UFO. Upon closer examination of the Radio footage," (Isaac turned his hand over to view the other two displays.) "all 12 probes in the network saw it crash directly through the original asteroid in the Belt. After traveling with the two fragments for a while, its image deteriorated, over a period of 30 seconds, before vanishing all together!"

"It... cloaked?"***

"That's the only way to explain it." Frank surmised.

Kurt held up his hand. "Just got this from the Solar Ops computer.... The third asteroid fragment will swing round the sun and cross Earth's orbit... there's gonna be an impact."

No one spoke for nearly 2 minutes. Isaac emerged from deep thought. "So... the Insurgents are right."

The others looked up from their reading. Bernard squinted, trying to deduce Isaac's contention.

"I wouldn't say that." Frank said, shaking his head. "It makes perfect sense. The UFN wants to go explore the far reaches of space. The insurgents care only for the 'blue/green' planet and its resources. So what happens? An asteroid comes from outer space and threatens our homeworld. I would say both sides have found some common ground."

"Yeah.... The government isn't always right." Kurt agreed.

Bernard slowly nodded and concluded, "Diversity of opinion can be a good thing, sometimes."

The four men settled into their seats, immersing themselves in the mountain of data.

18:09

[/rp]

*Olympus Mons is a dead volcano and the largest in the Sol system.

**It's a subway train propelled by Magnetic-levitation.

***This is long before the inter-stellar space revolution of 2900.

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[rp]

18:13 10/02/2467

Mars/Sol

Jenson Astronomical Observatory

Operations Center

Level 1/Meeting Room 2

Isaac sat reading a datapad and grasping his right shoulder with his left hand.

"Gentlemen?" Kurt's voice startled Bernard and Frank. "I have some good news!"

Isaac brought his left arm to the table with a thud, startling the other two again! "What? Did you save a bunch of money on your hovercraft insurance by switching to-"

Kurt interupted. "NO! No, no no no." He stuttered, trying to hold back his laughing. "No. Don't start that again!" He took a deep breath. "The fragment will miss Earth by 900 miles!"

"You're kidding." Bernard frowned.

"Look for yourself." Kurt held out his datapad.

Bernard looked at the radar projections on the display.

"... Well!?" Isaac demanded.

"Gentlemen, I think he's right. We just might pull through this after all!"

Frank reached out his hand. "Let me see that."

Bernard handed him the pad and folded his hands on the table. "It was close but deviated just enough to miss us."

"Us? Remember Bernard, we're on Mars." Isaac said as the four men stood up and stretched.

"Does this mean we can finally catch the next Earth-bound ferry and eat lunch at that little restaurant in Boise, Idaho tomorrow?" Kurt had been wanting a vacation for weeks.

"Only after the press conference, Kurt." Bernard reminded him.

Isaac nodded, slapping Frank on the back. "Sounds like a plan!"

18:16

[/rp]

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Epilogue

[rp]

2:59 10/03/2467

Outer Sol System

Voyager 2

279 billion miles from Sol

17 hours ago, the old probe had detected a possible discharge of weaponry....

Suddenly a distant star dissapeared from Voyager 2's view only to reappear 4 milliseconds (thousandths of a second) later.

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

19:00

Somewhere between Voyager 2 and that distant star

A dark vessel floated through the emptiness. "Commander, the last fragment has narrowly missed the third planet." Deep sighs of relief came from the bridge crew.

"That was close."

The Comms Officer frowned. "Sir, logs indicate the missile was launched at us from a cloaked ship. It was jammed by our EMD successfully and headed to the debris field of that star system."

"How could a cloaked vessel launch a weapon without being exposed?" asked the Research Officer.

"It's a moot point now! Our 'friendly' competition blew up an asteroid and made first contact that much harder. I don't think those people are ready for it anyway.... Abort the mission. We're returning to Vanguard."

[/rp]

In this story I used the term "Insurgents" for easy identification to the reader. This name probably did not come into general use until about 80 years before the UFN officially labeled them as such in March of 2965.

Well, that's it. I hope you enjoyed the story. If you are wondering what happened at the end, first look at the time period (2467), and read the history appendix that is included in the full game manual. The first nation that the Terrans officially contacted was the Empirians in 2928. The starstation Vanguard gives a clue as to who this unknown ship and crew were. Our story ends on this mysterious note.

I wrote Elliptical Orbit sporadically from late October 2003 to mid August 2004 (although small modifications were made as recently as this morning). Role-Playing is my favorite aspect of this game series. If I can find such a block of time in the future, I plan to cover a major event in official game history. Thank you all for reading this story.

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Thanks, Damier.

BTW, I received a PM about a possible conflict in story times. I will repost it along with my answer. Because it was a Private Message, however, I won't reveal the person's identity.

quote:

Originally sent to me in a PM:

I read up to post 5 and it seems that the time changes from 8:31 to 8:13 and then increases. BTW I love the story so far.

Posts are numbered starting with 0. So you are actually referring to post #4. That time change is partially explained by this sentence:

quote:

Originally posted by Quazar in
:

Bernard found out later that Issac had purposely delayed his appearance at an 8 o'clock press conference to provide a perfect cover for this brief exchange.

Chief Administrator Isaac Forbes attended that press conference in the first scene of post #4. Notice the change, not only in time, but also the location: from Jenson Astronomical Observatory (on the surface of Mars) at the end of post #3, to Starpath starstation at the biginning of post #4. The timeline effectively splits because the characters are in different locations. So the later scene at Starpath can be posted before the earlier scene at the Jenson Observatory. Think of it as a "mean while" type of story telling.

The feed-back I have received from readers of this story will help me write better in the future.

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The fact that you have asked this question has taught me the value of explaining details better. Thank you, Mrxknown.

I don't feel I should spell out the answer. This is, after all, a mystery.

Two military spacecraft, from different alien nations, attempted to make contact with the Terrans at the same time. On their approach their pathes crossed and hostilities were exchanged. One craft fired a missile at the other. The second craft's Electo-Magnetic Disruptor jammed the incoming missile. Immediately, both ships cloaked. The long-range weapon headed into the asteroid field of the Sol system, destroying a random space rock. The Terran scientists on Mars observed this explosion. From there the story unfolds as I have posted.

In the end, the the Commander of the second alien spacecraft, the one at which the missile was fired, orders the crew to return to "Vanguard" (posted just before the closing RP tag in post #13). It has nothing to do with the Vanguard Fleet in the Earthcom Alliance. In hindsight, I would have chosen a different location if I had anticipated the recent name change of our Fleet.

After looking in the Launch Bases section of the UC Appendix, I have not found the Vanguard Starstation. If you have read the Alien Nations Appendix, ask yourself "which nation concentrates on exploration more than any other task?" That nation has a Starstation (in BC3K at least) called Vanguard. This should tell you which alien nation sent the craft at whom the missile was fired.

I believe that Mrxknown has asked what alien nation sent the first alien spacecraft, the one that fired the missile. No clues were given about its identity. I was not sure, frankly, what nation I thought should send that ship. So it is a toss up among any alien that has a primary attribute of Warrior. Its up to you, the reader, to decide which of these openly hostile alien nations sent the first spacecraft, the one that fired the missile at the other ship.

Last Hint: There are 13 possible alien races in the game - including the Terrans. Neither ship was sent by the Terrans or the Galaxians. That narrows your search down to 11 possibilities. Of these 11, two alien nations each sent their own spacecraft to make contact with the Terrans.

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