View Full Version : Mercenary....Fan fic
03-12-2005, 07:01 AM
Sorry for the multiple posts, but we decided that it would be best if i were to put a couple chapters in each post and not all 14 chapters into 1 post...it just makes reading it easier.
My next post will answer some of the "what the hell is happening" questions.
He watched as the LIR Azrael kicked up onto it’s port wing and went high, expecting to pull a loop at about a 45 degree angle and come back in with guns blazing. In return, Philip O’Shea, Commander, 2nd Flight, Red Squadron, 1st Wing of the Iron Horde saw the maneuver and quickly pulled out of the split S and practically turned his TEC Paladin on it’s Low Port Ventral Canard. His guns were now squarely on the Azrael as she was at the Apex of her turn. He shifted his guns to dual fire and increased all shields to the front. Once his fingers were finished flying over the controls, he fingered the trigger. Six bursts fired from his Velfire HL-56, and he watched with grim satisfaction as the shields buckled on the Azrael. They were weakened. Then the Azrael pulled something he wasn’t expecting it flew directly toward him, all guns blazing. He quickly pushed his stick to its forward stops and dropped the nose as the Azrael shot overhead, then pulled up again to reacquire his target.
“Sorry kid, not today,” his comm crackled in his ear. The next thing he heard was the warning warble of an enemy missile lock. Frantically he looked behind him, and found the faster and more agile Azrael on his tail, then the world outside his view screen went purple as his shields were splattered with multiple bursts of coherent light. He was already shifting his shields aft and hitting his afterburners when the friendly female voice of his computer chimed in. “Missile inbound, mark 180, at 8 angels, type Trident. Evade.”
The Azrael was directly behind him at a distance of 800 meters and had fired a Trident at him. His thumb began popping countermeasures out behind him as the missile closed, then he pulled back on the stick as hard as he possibly could. Six beams of varying megajoule intensity lanced into his shields, and breaking through found purchase against the hull of his fighter. The Paladin went into a roll and began scissoring as more of the deadly beams punched holes in his armor. As he watched his HUD count down the distance between him and his enemy, he pulled his throttle completely back and swung the ship around, then lit off again with his afterburners. His burners hadn’t had time to fully recharge, but right now he needed acceleration more than top speed.
Then it was over. The Azrael again opened up with her primaries, and stitching her shots along the top of the craft, walked them right through his cockpit. The system failure warnings hadn’t even had time to sound.
His HUD was replaced by two simple words. “You’re dead.”
His comm again cracked to life. “Get to debrief.” His only reply was a dejected “Yessir.” Damn it all to hell anyway, how does the old man do that crap? He must have the Simulator rigged. Directive: The old man always wins. There is no way that he could have done that, no way in hell.
“And what you should have done when you lost site of me was to turn away from my last known heading. I was going to have to loop around to get you in my sights, and the better course of action would have been to fly at me along my trajectory, but entering the loop from my exit point. Instead you tried to turn and pursue, and you got iced for your troubles.” The old man was even more unhappy than usual. “You know all of this, so just what the hell were you thinking about in there? You are a member of the Iron Horde, we have to buy our craft, this isn’t a regular unit, we cannot afford to be losing fighters because a pilot had his mind elsewhere. You wanted to be a mercenary; well then by god you’d better fly like one. You want to be a member of this team? Well then you’d better start forgetting what you know about flying, and start relearning it the right way. We have never” he slammed his fist on the desk for emphasis here, “Never, lost an engagement, and we will not start now. We do not tolerate showboating or going by your gut instinct. You will either learn to fly with your head or you will find another outfit, am I clear?”
There could be only one reply when he was like this. “Loud and clear sir.”
The worst part was, he knew this. He knew everything that Colonel MacAullay was saying. It was true, every damned word of it. How could he have gotten so sloppy? How could he not be flying the way he used to? His worst fear was one that he was beginning to face, he had simply lost his edge.
“Commander? Until we figure out what’s happening with you, I am afraid that I have no choice but to pull you off of active flight status.” The Colonel actually looked sorry about this. Then he lowered his voice, and his command guard. “I’m sorry Philip. I need to know what’s going on with you, and until we know what it is, I can’t risk sending you up, not anymore. This is a combat zone. What’s going on with you son?”
“Permission to speak freely sir.”
“Speak.” The colonel replied as he took his chair behind his desk. “And sit down.”
It was then that Philip noticed the worry in his commanding officer’s eyes. The colonel may be a real pain at times, but no one could ever say that he didn’t care about his people. His People were more to him than pilots and techs and admin personnel, they were real people with real problems, and their problems were his problems. At least as far as he was concerned.
“Sir,” Philip began, while maintaining his parade rest stance, “I’m holding on too tight, I’ve lost the edge. I don’t know if I can get it back.” As he said this he felt the lump rising in his throat, and the water coming into his eyes. He knew that he had just told his C.O. that he might never be able to fly again. He reached up to pull his wings off of his flight suit.
“No.” Was the only word spoken for a long time as his shaking hand hung near his wings. “No you will not remove your wings. You are not quitting.
We’ve had this problem with others, we’ll work you through it. Get some rack time. I want 4 hours a day simulated combat from you, 3 against the computer, one against live targets. I’ll assign the personnel I feel best suited to this. Dismissed.”
“Thank you Sir.” Was all that Philip could muster, anything more may have broken him, with that said he did an abrupt about face and left the room.
For a long moment Colonel MacAullay sat in silence. contemplating the future of Philip O’Shea. “Mike?”
The anteroom door opened and Mike “Maddog” Geisendorff entered. “Lost his edge my ass, his reactions are 8% higher than his average time. The kid should be on fire in there. He should have been eatin’ your lunch and embarrassing you.”
At times like this, it was good to have an X.O. who actually understood things. “So what’s your recommendation?”
“Actually,” Lt. Colonel Geisendorff began, “I think you pretty much nailed it on the head. He may not have lost his edge, but the fact is that he has a confidence problem. He seems to be up there trying to protect himself more, and trying to kill the enemy less. He isn’t taking the high-risk moves that you invented, nor the ones that he invented. There’s something goin on, and he’s trying to protect himself. Treat this one as an edge loss.”
For a long time the two Colonels sat in silence, drawing comfort from the fact that at least the other one was working on the same problem. Then MacAullay spoke up. “If we were going into combat, would you want him with you?”
Mike thought for a moment then sadly shook his head. “No. Jim? You know he might not come back, right?”
“Yeah, but as long he isn’t giving up, and will still listen when we tell him not to, we can’t give up either.”
“Sir, at 04:28 hours, standard time, we lost all contact with our ambassador in the Vasudan Commonwealth. He was touring their outer systems. Last known whereabouts…..Antlia system. We also have unconfirmed reports that the LIR has lost all communication with the Entire Tania Borealis Duchy. No communication from any systems within that duchy.”
Jayme Michaels, Adjutant to the Sovereign Defense Advisor eyed the young Lieutenant. He was little more than a teenager. How did he rate a post as cushy as this? Jayme would be looking into it, but first things had to come first. “Intel?”
The young louie looked nervous about something. “Unconfirmed reports sir.”
“Ok, let’s just cut to the chase, what do we have to go on here?”
“Some reports say they were terran, some say they were vasudan. Some say they were flying the GTVA banner on their warships.”
Jayme stopped staring out the window and immediately turned to face the lieutenant at this. “Go on.”
“All of the reports state that the ships have never been seen before. All of the reports claim to have been fired on first. All of the reports claim that they were oiutmaneuvered, out gunned, and out numbered. From the unconfirmed reports, I would say that the LIR and the VAC are under attack from an unknown entity.”
“How long have you been attached to this office?” Jayme Asked.
“Two months Sir”
“Ok, when I ask for intel I want facts, when I ask for opinions I want opinions, try to keep the two separate. I have to go my boss with what we get, and Mr. Munoz isn’t a very pleasant person to bring bad news to. Mostly because he in turn has to give that news to Precentor Macgregor. Get on the horn, wake up 20,000 people. I want solid Intel on this, and I want options. Now then, what do we have that is solid?”
“Ok, you want me to go to the Sovereign defense Advisor and tell him that two of our neighbors have lost contact with some of their systems. That one of those neighbors is an ally of ours, and that we have no idea what’s going on? I don’t think so…..get on it.”
The young lieutenant looked startled for a moment. “Yes Sir. I’ll get into this personally.”
“Well enough.” Was all that Jayme would say as a form of dismissal. After the lieutenant left, he exhaled loudly, and on his way back to his desk, he caught site of his reflection on a currently offline 3d monitor. His youth, far behind him, he was quickly growing old. Much faster than he would like to admit. Somewhere during the last 13 years with the Sovereign Defense committee, he’d come into middle age.
“Sir we can’t send in our own operatives, it’s against the delta serpentis accords. The Lir doesn’t even know that we know, and the VAC is saying no. No troops within their borders. All we know for certain, is that a hostile force has attacked the Vasudan Commonwealth and we believe that they have also attacked the League of Interplanetary Races. Communication with fringe systems has been lost. The VAC is willing to risk a serious incident to keep us out of this. We don’t take too kindly to them misplacing one of our ambassadors, and they know this. Yet they persist in keeping our troops outside their border. We have offered to send in a small force to help with the search. No go. We have offered civilian science vessels with advanced scanning equipment. Again, no go. We have been blocked at every turn. The only thing we can do according to the Accords is to lend them some troops. Non house troops sir. Mercs.”
Sovereign defense Advisor Munoz had the ability to appear to be looking through the person he was talking to. Even over vidconferencing, this was disconcerting to say the least. For long moments the two sat in silence, Jayme staring at the screen, Munoz staring through jayme, at god only knows what.
“Who were you thinking about hiring?” Munoz Finally asked.
“Well sir, we have a number of outfits on retainer , I was thinking about moving the DG into the Nekkar nebula, and using the Horde.”
Something shifted in Munoz expression at the mention of the Iron horde. He had had several run ins with macaullay in the past, both political and military. Although he had won in most of the political arenas, he had never beaten him militarily, and for a merc outfit, that was where it counted.
“They aren’t very subtle, Adjutant.”
Jayme hated the way that Munoz loved to make sure that his subordinates knew they were his subordinates, but when dealing with Bureaucrats, it was to be expected. “I know sir, but right now I don’t think subtlety is what we need. They are the best. If we want solid intel, they are the ones to use.”
Once again, that disconcerting stare. Finally ,munoz said, “Hire the bastaard.”
“Let’s go people, get it packed up. I want to be ready to move in 24 hours. When the DG gets here, I want to have everything ready to go. Iggy? The fighters ready for cover during the subspace jump?” Lieutenant colonel Geisendorff asked.
Iggy was the lead tech for the Entire first wing of the Iron horde. Not following a typical command structure, The IH had its fighters set into 5 ship flights, 3 flight Squadrons, and 3 squadron wings. Iggy was the oldest member of the IH chronologically speaking, and one of the oldest members in seniority. Although a bit eccentric, he was probably the best tech in Terran Coalition space.
“Ready and waiting. 1st flight is green. 2nd flight is green, and by the time 3rd flight stands the watch, they will be prepped for subspace ops. Basically, green squadron is go. Red and Blue squadrons are set up for immediate launch. Ordinance has been designated and packed aboard support. Pilot recovery craft in case of pilot going extra vehicular are set and ready to fly. Just say the word and we go.”
“Ok,” Lt. Colonel Geisendorff began, “we have a rep from the SDC coming aboard for this op, and he will be expecting to meet with Colonel macaullay, myself, and you at 1630 hours standard. Be here then. Anybody else?”
When no one answered Geisendorff took this as a sign that everything was proceeding according schedule, if not faster. They’d done this a million times. “If no one has any problems or rough spots, let’s get our people moving. The boss wants us to head out asap, we give him what he wants.”
“So what happens now?” Tab Macaullay asked.
“I don’t know. He took me off flight status. I don’t know what happens now. How do you feel?” Philip asked.
“I feel fine, I promise. I just wish I could find a way to tell dad that I’m pregnant.”
Tabitha Macaullay was the only child that Jim Macaullay had. Her mother had died in childbirth, even after all of the medical advances, every woman was still closest to death during childbirth.
Phil put his hand on Tab’s stomach, and imagined that he could feel the tiny life growing inside her. His child was growing in there. And the boss didn’t even know that he and Tab were together. Much less pregnant.
“You know he doesn’t trust your combat instincts anymore, right?”
Philip stopped for a second, deep in thought, wounded. When he turned to look at Tab, he saw what he didn’t expect, what she had said hurt her as much as it had him. Then she grabbed him and held on tight. “I’m scared.”
He held on as tightly as she did, “I know, so am i.”
“I’m transferring Tab to the Brimstone. She isn’t going with us. We don’t know what’s out there.” Jim Macaullay told his friend.
“I don’t blame you. What about O’shea?”
“He’s going with us.”
“Mike I know what you’re gunna say,” Macaullay cut him off. “But he needs to be there. Even if he isn’t flying. There isn’t anything he can do here, and somewhere out there, he may regain himself. If he does we need to be there. If not, we need to be there to help him through it. It’s been almost two weeks, his reactions improve, his flying ability plummets. I don’t know how to beat this one. We need to find out what’s wrong, what’s going on with him.”
At which point he stopped to knock on the door in front of him. He knew that Tab would take it hard, being left behind, but he just couldn’t bring her into an unknown situation. When she didn’t answer, he knocked again. He was about to turn to leave when he decided to check in on her, make sure she was OK. He silently opened the door to her stateroom.
Her look said it all. Philip’s look said more. Jim closed his eyes and turned half away, then turned back to them.
“Colonel,” Philip started, “I can explain.”
The anger that Colonel Jim Macaullay of the Iron horde felt flooded into his eyes, his voice, and his very core. “oh, you can explain, I want to hear this. You wait here, I’ll be right back.”
He turned to leave when Tab grabbed his arm. “Daddy no!”
“Put some clothes on Tab. It’ll be alright honey, I’ll take care of this.”
With that, he was out the door and heading quickly down the corridor toward the weapons locker. Mike turned to look at Tab and Philip. “He’s gunna shoot you.”
Philip just looked at Lt. Colonel Geisendorff. “No he’s not.”
“Yes I am!!!” came a voice from down the corridor, the command voice of Colonel James Macaullay.
Mike took off running after him, and caught up. “I’m not sure this is entirely legal.”
“It’s OK Mike, I’m not all here at the moment. Did you know about this?” Jim looked at his best friend. “yup, you knew.” His stride became longer.
Mike turned to see Philip running full speed in the opposite direction, and tab running in their direction.
“Here she comes.” Mike said, and then found a passage conveniently placed to his left, he took it, leaving Jim to walk on in silence.
“Daddy this is not funny. I’ve been seeing Philip for 8 months.”
“Not after today.” Came Jim’s stoic reply.
“You can’t tell me what to do anymore, I’m not your little girl. I can make my own choices.”
“Philip’s not a choice, he’s the only person your age that you’ve ever known.”
Tabitha macaullay jumped in front of him, he stopped dead in his tracks and looked at his little girl. She was so tiny, and so defiant. When the hell did she grow up anyway? Where was his little girl?
“Daddy please, I understand the fact that you are socially inept and out of touch with your feelings.” She said softly.
“Tabitha get out of my way.”
She stood her ground, defiant until the end. He put his hands on her arms and gently moved her out if his way. Now stay out of my way.
Forgetting about his exceptional hearing as he was walking away, she muttered under her breath, “Hi junior, this is grandpa, he shot daddy.”
Then she caught herself, and looked up in time to see her father slowly turn to lower his icy gaze on her.
“Tell me I didn’t hear what I know I heard. Tell me I didn’t hear it.”
“Daddy please, I really need you to understand right now.”
“Listen tab, I want you heading planetside in six hours, the
Brimstone will pick you up. We are taking the Fire into the Combat Zone.”
“You mean you don’t want me going?”
“You got it, we are heading into a situation filled with unknowns, you are not going on this op. We’ll be aboard Bannockburn, you’ll be aboard Brimstone.”
Tabitha just looked at him. “No way. I’m going with you.”
And the stand off continued between two of the most deadly opposing forces known to man. A father with a daughter he was trying to protect, and a daughter who wasn’t having it.
03-12-2005, 07:06 AM
“I don’t think talkin’ to him right now is such a hot idea Phil. I’ll think he’ll shoot you.” Lt. Colonel Geisendorff told the young man. Even though he could see that Philip needed to talk to his Commanding Officer, it was more plain that right now Philip needed to talk to his hero.
“Sir, I don’t know what to do.”
Tabitha turned back from the window. “You pack your bags and get ready for this trip, we only have a few hours left until we leave.”
Philip looked at her, “you’re not going.”
“Neither are you.” The Lt. Colonel told him.
“The hell I’m not. And for what it’s worth all senior personnel are allowed one person with them, I choose Philip. Now go pack, we are going.”
The door seemed to erupt in anger as it was flung open, and in walked Colonel James Macaullay, who barely glanced at Philip.
“Didn’t I fire you? You might want to get out of my site.”
Tabitha moved to a strategic intercept position between them, she knew both men’s tempers. Whereas her father was an explosive man, Philip was much more reserved about his. His tempered stayed in check and boiled for a while before it finally blew his lid off.
“Stop it daddy this isn’t going to work.”
“And quit hiding behind my little girl. If there is one thing I will not have it’s my daughter marrying a damned mercenary. She’s better than that.”
Lt. Colonel Geisendorff looked as if he were about to say something to that when the colonel silenced him with a look.
“Better than all of us.” At least he put himself in the not worthy category with the rest of them.
“Colonel….” Philip began
“Shut it and get out of my site you snot nosed little bandit. The last thing I need right now is hear the voice of a washed up has been of a pilot. Get out of my site, and get off my ship.”
“Daddy that’s enough.” Tabitha said from between them, noticing that two men had been inching closer to one another during the conversation.
“You get the hell off my ship too. You want to play games with this loser, then you can go join him in his fate. And that is not my grandchild.”
The look of pain on Tabitha’s face was evident before the words that he immediately regretted had finished coming out of his mouth.
She turned to find comfort from Philip, but he was having his own internal battle. At that moment, seeing her in pain, every emotion he had ever felt collided violently within him. Within the span of a half a second, only two emotions remained near the surface. Anger and sorrow battled as to which would show itself. In the end, sorrow lost a hell of a fight.
The colonel was half turned away and barely caught site of the punch as it landed squarely on his left temple. Knocking him two feet away from where he was, he quickly recovered and charged at Philip, Tabitha had been wise enough to get out of the way. Lt. Colonel Geisendorff had already grabbed Philip and thrown him clear and took the brunt of the crushing tackle that the colonel threw.
Philip was just grabbing the colonel when the security force arrived. He and Lt Colonel Geisendorff were both hauled to the ground.
“Let go of them.” The colonel said quietly, yet somehow his voice cut through the confused shouts. All heads turned to look at the grizzled veteran.
“I said, let them go.” He said again, even more softly, but through a clenched jaw. The security force was all too quick to comply with his order.
“O’shea, get packed. I’ll meet you at your shuttle and we can finish this conversation. 1 hour.”
“You got it.” Philip said as he turned and left the room.
To the Guards the Colonel said, “you are dismissed, no charges will be filed.
The incident never happened. Am I clear?”
All of the guards replied in a single voice, “yes Sir!” then quickly vacated the area. No one wanted to be around Colonel James macaullay when he was this livid. His daughter stood directly in front of him.
His sentence was cut off immediately by the stinging slap that his daughter delivered, damn it if she wasn’t just like her mother. “I hate you.”
He would never let the hurt of that statement show. He would never let the tears he choked back flow. He would never let his daughter know how much she had hurt him with that statement.
“I didn’t mean it Tab. I promise you I didn’t.” was all he said to her.
“You also promised to always stand by me, to be there and try to understand everything with me, we see how far that promise went.”
Lt Colonel Geisendorff was shuffling his feet; “Maybe I better leave.”
“No, you better stay, this affects you too. Tabitha, get your gear packed, and get it stowed on the shuttle, same with…His. I’ll see you in the Hangar.”
“Why daddy, so I can watch you two beat the shit out each other?”
“No, we have a trip to take, and an enemy force out there, I want him to be on this mission.”
She suddenly looked bewildered, and a tad mistrustful. “I thought you said you couldn’t trust his combat instincts anymore.”
The colonel rubbed his temple, “I thought you said I could, besides, he knew when to throw a punch, maybe we just need to remind him what the hell he’s fighting for. But when we get back, I’ll handle this my way. You are not going to marry him. Now get moving, you don’t have much time.”
The Hangar Bay doors opened and the shuttle “Diamond” waited there with all of the men of second flight. First flight was already aboard “Fire”, the Corvette that would be going with them. Most Mercenary groups had a hard time keeping a wing going, and in the beginning so did the Iron Horde. Luck though was with them, and the shrewd cunning of James macaullay. Swinging a deal for absolute salvage rights first got him a Kenaz class cruiser; of course he was already up to squadron size when this happened. The TEC, his employer, had refused to give up the cruiser. During the months of legal battles that soon followed, the Iron Horde grew by it’s reputation alone. Jumping from a three-wing squadron, to two squadrons, then to a full Flight. James, who was calling himself Commander then, had to turn people away at the door. Finally, the TEC relented after being threatened with sanctions by M.O.C, the Mercenary Overview Commission. When a mercenary failed in his duties, due to negligence, the employer contacted M.O.C. When an employer breached his contract, the mercenary contacted M.O.C. Thus, through the intervention of the M.O.C., and the threat of being blacklisted, in which case it would be a very long time indeed, the Iron horde Acquired what was later to be dubbed Bannockburn. After James Macaullay’s home on terra.
From the Bannockburn sprang new forms of wealth. Her cargo hold was heavily modified to accommodate a squadron of fighters, and though space was cramped, and she was already an aging vessel, the men and women of the IH loved her for what she was, a home. She still served in the Iron Horde, even though she seldom saw combat. She was the base of operations for the entire group. Very few mercenary groups were lucky, or good enough to acquire a warship. In the early days of her operation, she was nearly lost to battle twice. It was during the second battle that James macaullay realized that while he was a fine Pilot, and a brilliant fighter tactician, he didn’t know enough about capitol warfare to keep his people alive. He hired someone who could do the job. Giving him the rank of Lt. Colonel, Mike Geisendorff took the helm of the Bannockburn. Three cruisers destroyed and two corvettes acquired later, he was still running the small fleet, and was the executive officer of the Iron Horde. He considered himself damned lucky to be a part of this group. Each day he looked into the eyes of some of the men and women that he may have to lead into battle, and he never found fear. He was as proud of his crew as any ship captain in a proper navy could have been.
As he stepped into the main hangar aboard Fire, he hoped that she would be enough. She was a fine ship, a ship steeped in tradition. The traditional helm console was added to with an ancient wheel from a ship of the terran 20th century. When nation states had not yet united and warred on each other. The helm from the USS Nimitz sat completely out of place on the bridge of the Fire, as did the Helm of the USS Coral Sea aboard her sister ship, the Brimstone. Fully functional, but able to be overridden with a simple switch, they added an air of tradition. Which was the true function in Lt. Colonel Geisendorff’s mind. It reminded him and his crew of the proud crews and captains before them, when navies were still water bound, and not yet space bound.
No one noticed him. Which was good. He tried to make his way quietly to the shuttle, which was where the colonel was waiting with Tabitha. Philip had yet to show up, and at a glance the Lt Colonel knew that his C.O. was less than pleased. It was then that the warning Klaxons went off announcing a ship coming from subspace.
“On Bannockburn, General Quarters General Quarters. Reason for General Quarters, unknown ship in the area bearing on Bannockburn. General Quarters weapons crews to the ready; all damage control personnel report the DC central, all nonessential personnel strap into you racks. This is not a drill.”
Before the statement was ended Lt colonel Geisendorff was already at a full sprint heading for the lift that would take him to the bridge, Colonel macaullay not far behind. He reached the lift and nearly screamed “Bridge!” Until he saw the colonel and Tabitha running up behind him. As son as they were in, the colonel himself gave the order and the lift took them up 6 decks to the bridge.
“Are they hailing?” Lt. Colonel Geisendorff asked.
“Sir we have hailed them, and they have not responded.” Came the reply from the Officer of the deck. These officers are either starting younger or he was getting older. He hoped it was the former.
“On screen aye.” From his Tac officer. Yet another naval tradition of repeating the order given.
The main view shifted from a tactical overview of the situation to a live picture. At this distance it was still uncertain what kind of vessel was bearing down on them, but it was smaller than they were. Which really didn’t matter.
“Warbook calls it a Piranha sir.”
“Now why would a Piranha be charging a Kenaz cruiser?” The colonel asked no one in particular.
“Why indeed.” Was the reply given by the Lt. Colonel. “Charge forward batteries. Get me a firing solution. Comm, put them on the 1mc.” I’ll hail them myself.
“Forward batteries charging aye, firing solution incoming.” From the weaps officer.
“You are on comm sir, opening all frequencies, now.” From the comm officer.
“This is Lt Colonel Geisendorff of the Iron Horde. You are bearing down on my ship, the Bannockburn, unknown Piranha, state your intent.”
“Bannockburn, this is Piranha we have urgent business with Colonel macaullay. Over.”
“Piranha you will state your business or you will prepare to be fired on, am I clear? Launch fighters on an intercept course, standard ROE.” The standard Rules of Engagement for an unknown vessel were to close to within weapons range, but not to fire unless witnessing a hostile act.
“Bannockburn we need to speak with Colonel macaullay, and Colonel macaullay only. Those are my orders. Request permission to come aboard.”
“Tac get me a scan of their weapons system as soon as we have a fighter in range. Colonel? It’s your call.”
“Ordering scan aye.”
“This is what I hired you for.” The colonel told his X.O.
“OK people, let’s see if we can make em blink. Weaps I want a beam shot 50 meters above that craft, time it for the arrival of our fighters, warn them not to fire unless they are fired on. Launch a transport. You will fire on my mark. Open comm.”
“Firing solution data aye sir.”
“Comm is open Sir.”
“Piranha you will stay your distance, I repeat come no closer, we will send a transport out to you.”
“With all due respect Bannockburn, my orders are to speak with Colonel macaullay.”
“And you are bearing down on my ship, you will halt where you are or I will fire.”
“Bannockburn, I don’t see how…..”
The Bannockburn let out a small shudder as the hiss of the beam cannon sounded through her hull. 50meters above the Piranha she destroyed nothing, but got the attention of the vessel, which immediately took evasive maneuvers.
“Sir, delta lead reports weapons powered down.”
“Well that’s the first smart thing they’ve done. Open comm.”
“Open comm aye.”
“Piranha, you will halt. My weapons officer is angry enough that I told him to miss. He likes firing, and he is a fine shot. I won’t order him to miss a second time.”
“Bannockburn, we read you loud and clear. Engines are at full reverse for all stop. Please send transport. Be advised that you nearly fried Jayme Michaels, Adjutant to the SDA. Over.”
The colonel and the Lt Colonel looked at each other in bewilderment. What the hell was a guy from the office of the Sovereign defense Advisor wanting?
“Thank you for allowing us to land.” The ASDA began. “Let’s not mince words, you were chosen specifically for this mission. We are also sending a company of marines with you.”
The words of the ASDA struck Colonel James Macaullay like a hammer blow. These weren’t just Marines that he was expected to bring along, but more likely watchdogs. He eyed the ASDA warily for a few long moments, taking in his opponent in this sparring match. This was his command, his mission, and he’d be damned if someone who had probably never fired a gun before would be telling him how to run it.
“I’ll be going as well.” Jayme Michaels, ASDA said with his eyes locked to those of the Colonel.
That was where the Colonel drew the line.
“Like hell.” Was all he said. He had moved himself to block anyone from entering the rest of the ship.
“I understand your reluctance, I only ask that you hear me out. But don’t be under the illusion that this is your operation, if you take on this mission you will be falling directly under the jurisdiction of the SDC. And I have my orders to give you. Now, can we go someplace private and talk?”
“Anything you need to say you can say in front of my men, but before you say another word, you have those men halt the unloading operation, either they stop now, or you start loading it and get the hell off my boat.” The tone of his voice left no room for argument.
“Markinson, have the Marines stop unloading the equipment.”
One of the two men who had approached the Colonel and his entourage turned and left to confer with the Marines.
“Colonel as per your orders I have halted my operation, I now again ask to speak with you and your senior staff in private.”
The Colonel looked the man in the eye. This man had no fear of the Colonel, that was readily apparent, but he also had no desire to usurp command of the operation, he would acquiesce to the Command of the Colonel.
“Fine, get your senior staff together and we will meet in CIC in 20 minutes. Mike? Have someone assigned to act as escort until the meeting.”
“Aye Sir.” The Executive Officer of the Iron Horde replied.
Twenty minutes later they were all seated in the Combat Information Center. The Colonel, Lt. Colonel Geisendorff, and Captain Marion Bradley, Commanding officer of the Bannockburn, Jayme Michaels, Adjutant to the Sovereign Defense Advisor, Marine Corps Captain Jonathon Thorvald, and Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Dean Meyer were seated around a table set up for staff meetings in the corner of the CIC.
“You asked to speak to us in private, let’s hear it.”
The ASDA was the first to speak. “Colonel I apologize for the way this has all come about, but you have to understand that these are uncertain times, and this is an uncertain mission. You are going out to find out what happened to a certain number of ships who have disappeared without a trace, into territory which is not ours, and may very well be hostile. My orders are simple, to accompany you and the Marines. The Marines Codecs have all been removed; they are effectively personna non grata. They do not exist. They are members of your own force for the duration. You are to retain command of the operation, unless the event calls for ship boarding or ground force actions, in which case Captain Thorvald will take command of those operations. You will still maintain command of your forces. We don’t know what to expect out there, and quite frankly, these men are trained to deal with the unknown, your landing forces are not. During transit your forces are to be placed training with the Marines, to learn how best to back them up in any given situation. You and your men were chosen because you are the best at what you do, and these men are the best at what they do. The political situation does not allow for us to land troops in the target area.”
For a long moment the colonel looked at the men seated across from him. “Gentlemen this doesn’t sound like a military mission, but a counter intelligence mission. I will retain full command of this operation, and in the event that ground forces are needed, or ship-boarding actions seem warranted, it will be my decision, No one else’s. Your Marines will be berthed near the Hangar, they can use the hangar for recreation and training purposes, all weapons are to be turned over immediately to my Master at Arms, and will be checked out only with low power packs for training. Your Marines will not stray form their berthing or the Hangar with the exception of chow, and/or sick bay. The three of you will have berthing in officer’s quarters. Are these rules acceptable?”
“Sir,” the Gunnery sergeant Began, “while I appreciate the accommodations you are offering, I must respectfully decline, my place is with my men.”
One look at the Gunny told the Colonel all he needed to know. This man had seen more combat than most people have ever seen even in Tri D movie. He was someone that the Colonel could respect.
“Fine. Get your gear stowed, get your people berthed. See to it Captain Bradley.”
Captain Bradley, Commanding Officer Bannockburn had only one thing to say “Aye Aye sir.”
She stood as if to leave then turned to Marine Corps Captain Thorvald. “For the Duration of this mission you are to take the honorary rank of Major, there can only be one captain onboard a ship.”
With that she slid the gold Crossed Hammers that denote a Major in the Iron Horde to Captain Thorvald. He was effectively now a major.
03-12-2005, 07:08 AM
“Never in all my years have a seen Marines in my fine corps move as slowly as you!” Staff sergeant Pardoe screamed at his men on the flight deck of the Bannockburn.
At just over two meters tall, Pardoe cut an impressive figure, even through his combat fatigues; it was easy to see that he was well muscled. As the commander of 3rd Platoon, J Company, 4th battalion, it was his job to keep his 4 fire teams alive. This was done through a strict regimen of barely controlled rage. On the outside, he was ready to physically pummel any man who was not giving his fair 125% of the effort to get the job done. On the Inside, he was proud, it had taken his marines only 8 minutes to fully unload, and secure all of the platoon gear. The crates holding the gear were secured to the deck in preparation of the jump to subspace.
“You will not hold this jump. No jump has ever been held up due to the fact that marines were not ready, we will not break that tradition of my beloved corps! Do you understand me?”
As one his men shouted in return “Yes Staff Sergeant!”
“You have twelve minutes marines. Twelve long, Continuous minutes to get to the master at arms shed, and then get to your berthing compartments. Weapons will be stowed in the MAA shack; your personal gear will be stowed in the berthing compartments. These two Civilians will accompany you to the target areas. You will extend them your every courtesy; you have invaded their home. The rules they live by are the laws you will abide. Am I clear Marines?”
“Very well. As soon as we are underway through subspace you will all assemble back here in parade ground for mission briefing with the Gunny. Well done and fall out marines.”
As if they had practiced the maneuver a million times, the Marines of 3rd platoon fell into a solid line behind one of the “Civilians” and began to follow him to the MAA Shack. The other Civilian brought up the rear. Privates first, Privates First Class second, Lance Corporals third, and Corporals behind them.
The Civilians were actually part of one of the best fast reaction forces known to man. They were iron horde.
On the bridge of the Bannockburn, things were fully automated, yet all things were checked and double-checked, and all orders confirmed, as was tradition.
The Colonel watched as the skipper brought the ship to jump status. No matter how many times he had been there before, the preparations and jump to Subspace always fascinated him. The sheer power that enabled a ship to literally rip a hole in space and fall through it, only to reappear through another rip in another place in the galaxy was mind boggling.
Although a commonplace occurrence, it was widely known that while transit through subspace was safe enough, the forces a ship had to withstand during the jump into or out of subspace could be harsh. Something as simple as a solar flare at the wrong moment could push a ship a few degrees off, leaving a part of her bow exposed to the umbrella like gravitic flux of a star, and that would spell death for all hands. More than once a ship had been lost due to improper positioning. The larger the ship, the more dangerous it was to make the jump. The jump was by far the most dangerous part of space travel, and even though it had been happening for nearly 8 centuries, the Colonel knew that interstellar travel was still in its effective infancy. He would leave it to the professionals.
“Navigation, lay course Charlie.” The Skipper said.
“Lay course Charlie Aye.” Navigation responded.
“Seals set for optimum pressurization.”
Optimum pressurization aye.”
“Electromagnetic harmonics aligned, do it and give status report.”
“Harmonics aligned,” the first officer spoke up on his cue. “Nav is green, com is green, magnetics are green, grav flux is minimal, Matrix is within acceptable limits, Powerplant is running slightly hot, same as always sir. Looks like we’re through revving the engines and are ready on your mark.”
“Very well, on my mark.”
With that he turned to the Colonel, who was almost always on the bridge during subspace jump. “At your leisure sir.”
James macaullay surveyed the bridge crew of the Bannockburn, though no one looked back at him, he knew that they could feel his eyes on each of them. The simple fact that they ignored him and kept to the task at hand was enough to give him the proud moments that a man of his advances years has come to cherish. Made him think of the people who had sat in those seats, under his command, and before the ship was his, and the way they simply accepted the responsibility, and the calm professionalism with which they bore it. While all men think that no one could possibly respect his crew more than they did, in the case of James Macaullay, he may have been right.
He was about to give to the order when the door to bridge slid open with an audible hiss, but also a barely audible grind. He turned to see who was entering the bridge, and Jayme Michaels, ASDA strode onto the bridge, alone.
“Excuse me if I am interrupting, please do not let me distract you, I just wanted to be on the bridge observing when we got underway. I’ve never seen the jump from this perspective, and I may never have another chance.”
The colonel eyed the ASDA without malice. “I can allow that, I’ve been there myself. Captain, at your leisure please bring us safely into subspace.”
“Aye aye sir. Helmsman? Bring us into subspace, now.”
“Engaging subspace drive.”
No sooner had he said the words than they watched as the space around them ripped open and the brilliant blue white of subspace peaked through. The ship seemed to shudder just a bit, and then was literally sucked into the swirling vortex of subspace.
The power of the moment subsided, and normal ships ops resumed. The Colonel turned to look at the ASDA; “I always like to watch the jump into subspace. Let’s face it Mr. Michaels, you didn’t come here just to watch the jump. What’s on your mind?”
“Actually I would like to give you a full report in private.”
Fine, we’ll talk about it in my stateroom, come with me.” He started to walk through the doors that again opened, but turned to Captain Bradley.
“Marion? The door is making a noise, have it checked out.” He gave him a quick wink as he said it.
He opened the canopy on the simulator and wiped sweaty hands on his flight suit before exiting. Commander Philip O’shea had just gotten “butt stomped” again by Lt. Colonel Geisendorff. The simpod behind him now reflected his mood, empty, yet stuffy and hard to breathe in. Lt. Colonel Geisendorff was just exiting the simpod next to him.
“Get out of that flight gear, get a shower, and be in my office in twenty.” He told the Commander.
Once Philip had left the area, the Lt. Colonel walked quickly into the control room to look at the stats, and to review the flight recorders from both pods. Tabitha macaullay was still in there. The eyes of the two met briefly and then in a moment of embarrassment, the Lt. Colonel looked away. It was hard enough to trounce Commander O’shea; it was downright embarrassing to do so in front of tab.
“How long have you been watching?”
“The whole time. Why are you taking it easy on him Mike?”
“Tab, I don’t think we should be discussing this. In fact, I don’t think you should be here at all while we try to work him through it.”
“He didn’t know I was in here. You aren’t pushing him at all; you are just flying around and making mistakes for him to capitalize on. Does my father plan to take Phil into combat?”
“You know I can’t talk about that Tab. But for what it’s worth, you’re right, I’m not pushing him, I’m being easy on him, and he is getting killed. According to all of this, he should be trashing my every move out there. His reaction times are up a full 12% from where they were, and I know he has the knowledge. He just isn’t feeling his way through it; he is trying to think his way through it. And I know why. He’s scared.”
Tab took a long moment to digest what her friend and XO had just said to her. “I know he is. I’m scared mike. If he flies another mission out there right now, he won’t come back from it. I don’t want to loose him.”
“None of us wants to loose him Tab. I know what the problem is, but it’s a new one, so I’m not sure how to get him past it. Off the record. He’s afraid of that child growing up without knowing him. He’s afraid of giving your child the childhood he had, and it’s got him all messed up in the head. He’s hanging on too tight, he’s thinking instead of feeling, his reactions are up and he is freezing. Look at his med readouts…his heart rate is way up, I gotta be honest, he won’t survive an engagement with a hostile force, and he may very well get his team killed out there as well.”
“So how are you going to pull him through this?”
“I don’t know sweetheart. I just don’t know.”
“When mom left, I was always terrified when dad went off to fight, I had to learn that he was going to come home. I couldn’t handle it if Philip was lost out there. You have to pull him through.”
Lt. Colonel Michael Geisendorff stared at Tabitha for a long time while he thought. Then he sat down at the computer and began working. “I need to be alone for a while, do me a favor will ya? Go to my office and tell Philip that I canceled our debrief, he is to meet me back here at 0800 tomorrow morning, ready to fly. This is the last thing I can try short of flying all out against him.”
“I thought you’d already briefed us on what was happening.” The colonel said quietly to the ASDA.
“Hear me out, this is all classified, and you aren’t supposed to know about it. There is nothing routine about this mission. The TEC Ambassador to the Vasudan Commonwealth is out of contact; we have no idea what’s happened to him. The LIR has lost contact with an entire Duchy. We have unconfirmed reports that the ships in the area are flying the old GTVA banner.”
The Galactic Terran Vasudan Alliance had been gone for nearly 300 years. Some claim it was a golden age of learning and philosophy. Technology advanced in non-military areas. It was centuries of peaceful coexistence. It had been gone for nearly 300 years, and now, someone was making it resurface. The big question was why.
“We have no idea who it is, but they appear to have attacked the VAC and the LIR. This is a recon mission, we go in, find out what the hell is going on, and get out. That’s the bottom line.”
The colonel just stared at him for a long period, then sighed heavily. “Maybe we should have a drink while we talk about this, I know I could use one. Aldebarran brandy?”
“I would love some colonel.”
Major (acting) Jonathon Thorvald surveyed the men standing in parade ground formation. He looked into the eyes of each of them, or so it seemed to the men before he spoke.
“Gentlemen, none of you know what we are doing here, including your company commanders. I am under orders not to tell you. I disagree with those orders, and I alone will take responsibility for this. We are heading into the Vasudan Commonwealth, not as invaders, but as Recon. Our ambassador has come up missing. Some folks say we are under attack from the Shivans, some say that it is one of the great houses, and some say that it is terrorist cells. More than a few accounts point to the Neo-Terran Front, but that was 700 years ago. If they have been resurrected, our job is not to take them out; our job is to report back.
“Other accounts say that the ships flying have been doing so under the GTVA Banner. That’s 300 years gentlemen. 300 years since the collapse of the GTVA. 300 years since the GTVA defense fleet left known space. We still have no idea where they are. If it is the remnants of the GTVA come home, our job will be the same. We are to recon the situation, destroy any immediate threat to us, and report back. I have been ordered to say nothing of our mission to you until we arrive insystem. I am breaking that order and telling you now. I will not lead you into a situation that has the potential for combat without you knowing what we are doing.
“We have no idea who we are fighting, our ships are outgunned, out maneuvered and outclassed. You are Marines. You will explain to this enemy what it is to be a Marine. You will stand fast when told to. You will crush any enemy in your way. The rules of engagement are simple, destroy any and all threats to the completion of this mission. So long as one of us reports back…this mission is a success.
“Company Commanders, you are to meet with me immediately following this briefing. Dismiss the men.”
“ You think this is gunna work Mike?” James Macaullay asked his friend.
“I don’t know. I do know that right now I don’t see anything else left to try. Look Jim, if this breaks him for good, you know who she’ll blame. You sure you want to authorize this action?”
“You said yourself that we have no options. Do it.” Macaullay was all business now. “He’ll either come through it or he won’t.”
“Jim, listen,” Mike began, “before you found out about him and Tab you cared what happened to him. You cared as his Commanding Officer, as his friend, and as his hero. You can’t shut him out now and pretend that you don’t give a shit. That may work for the troops, but I know you better than that.”
“You think I don’t care, or that I am pretending not to? Let me set you straight, regardless how much I hate it, he is the father of my grandchild. I will not see my grandchild grow up with someone else because I didn’t do the job right. I care about him as a pilot, and I care about him as that child’s father. No matter how pissed off I am at him, I still think he will make a good dad. I hope to god he doesn’t pull through this, so that we can keep him off the front line.”
“Well then why are you authorizing this?” Lt. Commander Michael Geisendorff asked.
“I owe his father that much.” Was all he got in the way of reply. Get his ass to the simulator, and load the program.”
Years ago, when the Iron Horde was new. Macaullay had been shot down in atmosphere that he could breathe in. For 4 days he remained on the move, hiding and running. The first rescue attempt failed, the second got troops on the ground, and it was during this time that he met a young man named Padrig O’Shea. The meeting was brief; it consisted of Macaullay and O’shea running together toward the waiting dropship, amidst others. Then it consisted of O’shea knocking Macaullay to the ground and taking the enemy fire with his own body. O’shea was killed protecting his Commanding Officer. It was then that a long tradition started within the Iron Horde, something that may very well be what set the Horde apart. The dividends were paid from the life insurance policy to the young widow and the three year old son who knew Padrig as papa, but that wasn’t enough for Macaullay. He would take care of the family through his own means, and eventually, funding through the Iron Horde. The Iron Horde has always been known as a group that truly understands loyalty, and takes care of their own.
Philip O’shea yanked the stick hard to the left and kicked his rudder foils to the right to send His Paladin corkscrewing though the enemy fire.
“This guy’s all over me!!!!!” Philip heard through his headset just before he realized that he was already turning toward Colonel Macaullay’s Azrael. The old man was in trouble.
“On my way Colonel.”
During the 4 and a half seconds that it took him to get into the fight, Philip saw everything. He saw The Azrael bank hard left and pour on the speed to get away from the pursuing Valkyrie Mk-9. The Claymore Mk-4x was a bigger threat as it was turning onto an intercept course. He felt more than saw the familiar shape of the Branwen Interceptor coming in behind him for a shot, and through his craft once again into a corkscrew, using his rudder pedals to keep himself lined up on the Colonel’s pursuer.
“Colonel that Claymore is coming around to flank you, break left, I’ve got the Valkyrie.”
The colonel broke into an incredibly hard left turn that the Valkyrie pilot was Hard pressed to match, but he did match it, just as philip hoped he would. He pulled down on the firing trigger and stitched fire from his Britta HS-9 along the long fuselage and wings of the enemy. Brilliant greenish white bursts splashed onto the shields of the Valkyrie at the same moment that Philip depressed his secondary weapon stud. Two Wasps left his craft, one from each missile bay. The Valkyrie broke off its pursuit and pulled up and right, even as Philip stayed on his primary trigger. The first missile went wide right, following a countermeasure launched from the now hunted craft. He switched over to stagger his fire from the britta Hs-9’s, all 8 guns were blazing in sequence, creating a wall of fire going in at the enemy craft. The second missile hit, and tore the craft completely in half.
A new tone warbled in his ear and he immediately popped two countermeasures, and stood the paladin on its forward ventral canard as he began the long loop downward.
“Missiles detected.” the friendly computer voice told him. Why the hell was it friendly?
“I got the Valkyrie, colonel but I have problems, the Branwen is on my six.”
“Got it, split S and then break right, I am on my way.”
At the tail end of the Split S Philip pulled the stick as hard to the right as he could into a horizontal loop. He hadn’t even thought about straightening craft when he heard the roar of another craft in close proximity, and every proximity and collision warning inside the cockpit went off.
A glance upward showed the exhaust trail of Colonel Macaullay’s Azrael, only 4 meters above the canopy. The rear view showed the back end of the Azrael as it sped toward the Branwen. The Branwen disintegrated under the onslaught.
The Claymore broke away from the fighting to disengage, and the paladin leapt after it, intent on its destruction.
“O’shea, get back here!!” the Colonel’s voice came through. “My craft has been torn to shreds, I need escort back to the ship.”
“We can catch him Colonel.”
“I said no, we can fight another day against him, but I am not going to take chances.”
With that Philip turned his fighter back toward the Colonel’s and flew escort back to Bannockburn.
“Nice flying today, Philip.” The colonel said.
“Thank you, sir. But you did most of the work, I just helped out a little.”
“We’ll talk in a few moments. We aren’t done yet.”
When they rounded the small moon and got a visual on Bannockburn, radio signals also came through.
“Three break left!!”
“Keris did you get that bomber?”
“Someone get this guy off me!!!”
“We just lost blue lead! Repeat, we just lost blue lead.”
Philip saw the battle looming before him, the explosions of missiles hitting countermeasures, the larger explosions of fighters being destroyed, the multicolored megajoule blasts of coherent light. It would have been quite beautiful if people weren’t dying. He caught site of a freighter just as red two spoke up.
“Bannockburn be advised, we have a freighter on collision course with you. We can’t destroy it in time, it’s up to you.”
“Negative red 2, that last bomber took out our entire starboard weapons grid. Destroy that freighter.”
“Bannockburn we cannot. I repeat we cannot get it in time, brace for impact.”
Tabitha was still on Bannockburn.
03-12-2005, 07:09 AM
His afterburners screamed as they lit and he poured more available speed on by pumping all energy into his engines. The Paladin wasn’t built for this kind of speed, and she was starting to shudder. For all the speed that Phillip was giving her, Macaullay’s Azrael blew past him as if he were not there. The two of them raced toward the freighter that had become a bomb. Macaullay was pulling away when he started flinging the craft wildly and popping countermeasures, obviously he had picked up a tail. Once, twice, and yet a third time he crossed the path of the charging Paladin, the missile closer each time. Phillip held his stick steady even as he zeroed all of his thoughts in on the missile. Big bastard of a missile, usually used against bombers.
Then all 8 of his guns began to speak, rapid succession shots filled space as the Colonel crossed his path yet again, the missile in tow. Using his rudders to slew the Paladin while maintaining his speed toward the freighter, Phillip brought his nose slightly up and to the left, all 8 guns barking wildly at the racing missile. The missile in question could not detect and therefore could not avoid the brilliant bolts of light that formed a near impenetrable wall before it. It flew directly into three bolts from the Brita HS-9’s. The missile destroyed, Phillip again straightened the craft and poured on all available speed.
“thanks, O’Shea.” from the Colonel
The freighter was looming larger and larger, and his missiles began to track it. It wasn’t close enough for guns yet. Philip switched to subsystem targetting and targetted the engine. Luckily it had only one. His missile gave the warbling tone of a good lock, and he immediately fired. Then his primary reticle lit up and he pulled his trigger, releasing the pent fury of all 8 guns at once. Quickly switching power to guns and shields, he killed his speed. Again and again missiles leapt from the tubes and impacted solidly on the engine. Again and again the Britae roared their anger at the freighter who dare attack Tabitha. The Engine winked out, but forward momentum was maintained. Phillip kept firing even through the threat tones. Someone was trying to lock on to him with a missile. He ignored the threat and kept firing. Knowing he had only one chance to avoid getting himself and getting Tabitha killed.
He could see that the Freighter was all but dead, and he kept firing, even as the tone changed to let him know that the missile of his death had been launched. He shifted slightly in his seat, feet on the rudders, right hand on the stick, and his left hand began to manipulate the controls for the reaction control valves in his wings. The tone became more insistent as the missile drew closer to him. Barely a glance at the threat warning indicator, and he kicked his burners into a burst that sent the paladin 90 degrees up onto it’s port stabilizer. The missile leapt past, but was obviously not befuddled. It began it’s turn to come back for another shot, when it slammed directly into the bridge of a beat and battered freighter. With no engine and the freighter already a drift, it did nothing to change he trajectory. Phillip was already lighting off with his Britae, missiles depleted long ago. He felt before he saw the freighter shudder as all life left her, and she began to come apart. His rear shields were being crushed under the onslaught of Branwen. Even as he slammed his right rudder to the floor and let his left one up he was pulling the stick to the right and picking up his speed. Afterburners at full. The Branwen hesitated a second too long and was destroyed by a burst from Macaullay’s Azrael.
“I’ve got tails, I could use some help here.”
“on my way Colonel.” Was all he would say in reply.
With the Branwen out of commission the Colonel had picked up a pair of Claymore MK4x’s. Philip knew them well. He sent the Paladin into a spiral toward the one who was high and left of the Colonel, knowing that the Colonel usually preferred high and left as an escape vector. The Claymore was taken completely by surprise. It never registered that someone was about to fire on him. Phillip was still targetting his partner, who began to fly erratic immediately, attempting to throw off his pursuer. The Claymore under Philips guns flew straight and true until it’s shields were destroyed by a single bite from all 8 guns. It attempted to dodge left, but a light touch to the stick kept him lined up and again the brittae sent deadly light lancing forth. The Claymore had nothing left. There was nothing left but the fireball that Phillip flew straight through as he brought the paladin around to take out the Claymore. Who had already found an escape vector and was using it. The Blue white of a jump acting as a tattletale for where he went.
“Thank you, sir.”
“let’s head home, I am sure that Tab is as worried about you as you are about her.”
Colonel James Macaullay hated himself for what he was now doing, and knew where Phillip’s head was. It was in the battle, at that moment in time, Phillip O’shea may have been the most dangerous man that Macaullay had ever met. He was certainly the best fighter pilot he had ever seen. He knew that if he could see into the cockpit, Phillip would be staring straight ahead, seeing everything, and yet registering nothing. He was riding on the combat high. His senses were hyper alert, his reactions faster than ever. James knew at that moment, that Phillip was not only back, but that he was more dangerous than ever. Now he had a reason to live, and to fight. That reason was with him, and James knew first hand, that there is nothing more powerful than a man fighting to protect his family.
James Macaullay climber from the Simpod even as Lt. Colonel Geisendorff and tabitha were pulling Phillip from his.
“That was incredible, a Paladin isn’t supposed to move like that.” Mike said to his C.O.
“I know it, what were his reaction times in there?”
The Lt. Colonel glanced at the monitor, then back at the Colonel. “Jim he was 22% faster than you out there. He’s a machine.”
A sharp glance at Tab silenced Lt. Colonel Mike Geisendorff. He couldn’t believe he went there in front of Tabitha. His eyes closed for a second and a half and when he looked up, the Colonel was laying Phillip down onto the command couch.
“How long til the drugs wear off?” James asked
“I can bring him to reality anytime, he won’t be susceptible to our suggestions any longer when I do.” The doctor said.
“Phillip, you are the best. There is no need to be afraid anymore, you are past it.” James whispered into Phillip’s ear.
James looked at Mike and saw the same wonder in his eyes. How had the kid gotten this good? Both of them were thinking about the future, and the things that Phillip could do, and the places he could go. James then made the fatal mistake that all fathers make. He looked at his daughter, and saw the worry on her face as she sat on the bed staring into Phillip’s face.
“bring him out of it. Now.” James ordered.
The Doctor prepared the hypo and set it against Phillip’s neck, then he left.
Phillip’s eyes opened.
“Tab. Colonel? What happened?” He asked while looking back and forth between the faces peering down at him.
“It’s a long story son, how do you feel?” James asked.
“Never better. I feel like I could take anything right now.” Phillip answered, not sure why he felt as good as he did. He suddenly wasn’t afraid anymore.
“Ok, listen, in two hours I want you down here in the Simpod.”
“yes sir.” Phillip replied to the Colonel.
“Come on Phil, let’s go to my room for a bit, I need to talk to you.”
With that, tabitha pulled Phillip from the table and walked him from the room. The two Colonels sat in silence for several minutes, until Mike broke it.
“Sorry about that”
“no sweat, I’m just glad she didn’t hear. We’ll know in a few hours whether this worked or not. I just wish we could let him remember what he did in there. He thought it was real and he came through it better than I ever thought he could.”
Lt. Colonel Geisendorff looked at the Colonel, “It was insane sitting out here watching. I couldn’t believe it.”
James turned to the readouts and began to study them, “We’ll know in a bit.”
Tab watched from the view port as the fighters roared past. She knew that only one of them could have been Phillip. He wasn’t the only one in the command who flew a Paladin, but he always knew where she was watching from, and would make sure that he wagged the stabilizers for her so that she saw him waving. The forward sweeping semi circular stabilizers would provide almost no lift in atmospheric conditions, and served to be little more than outriggers in space, but she had seen him more than one time stand his fighter on one while slewing it around. Her hand reflexively moved to her stomach and the baby she carried, although she didn’t notice, lost in thought.
They had drugged him. Phillip was scared because of her, and that fear would have killed him. They had drugged him and thrown him to the wolves. He would either fight his own demons in there or he would die in there. Die on the inside. She was afraid that he wouldn’t make it back and become the fighter pilot that he was born to be. The pilot who didn’t control the craft, but let the craft be simply guided by his steady hand. She knew better than to think that he was invincible, but to think that he would become the hollow shell of the man that he is now, a creature set to live in his past, a past that is too painful to face, that she could not bear. No matter her own fears as to what may happen to him, he was who she had chosen to be with, and what he did in a fighter wasn’t simply something that he did, it was who he was.
She knew well his fears about the child. That the child would grow up and not know his father, or worse, grow up knowing that in the end, his father was a coward. Phillip was no coward though. He had made it through and was again in command of Gawain, as he had named his Paladin. He was the best at what he did, and everyone knew it. He was the only one who didn’t know exactly how good he was.
Again Gawain came screaming by and the stabilizers wagged for her. Long after it retreated away from her was the wistful smile on her face as she peered through the hazy trail left by the afterburner. Even the blue white light of subspace could do nothing to dampen her spirits as they patrolled above her, around her. That was her man out there, following her father’s orders. She could never have been more protected than she was at that moment.
“2nd flight, Red squadron, form back up on me. Let’s keep the pattern tight, we are dropping from subspace soon and I don’t want any surprises.” Phillip spoke even as he turned Gawain into a gentle bank to the right. He’d always loved flying in subspace. Subspace was where the Lucifer had been taken down. How many years had it been? Hundreds of years before his time. The swirling blue, black, and white of subspace could be spell binding and beautiful to look at, it was also one of the most powerful places he had ever been. He knew that a terrible power could be unleashed if someone could ever fully tap the potential of subspace.
“Forming on you Lancelot.” Came the response from his second in command of the flight. As soon as he had named his Paladin “Gawain”, the old man had dubbed him Lancelot as his call sign.
3 pairs of microphone clicks also told Phillip that the remainder of his 5 man wing had also gotten the order and were complying. He switched to broadcast on the command net.
“2nd flight Red Squadron reformed and keeping the pattern tight.”
“Got it 2nd red, 2nd blue is out there hanging at the markers, and we have 1st Red and Blue on standby. Should be dropping from subspace in less than a minute.”
Phillip switched back to the flight net, “Ok boys look alive, we are dropping in less than a minute. Check in as soon as you are out.”
Four pairs of Microphone clicks answered him. Damn these guys were pros. A last glance through his readout showed his flight in earnest. 2 summoners, 2 Thors, and his Paladin comprised his flight. Currently the only unknown quantity was “Pepper” in 5, flying a Thor. The sleek interceptor was fast enough, and punched hard enough, but she wasn’t as maneuverable as a superiority fighter. Certainly not the equal of a Summoner. The fact remained though that if you had to get there in a hurry, the Thor was your machine.
He could hear the timer counting down. At zero, a brilliant white light flared before him, then the cold darkness of space.
“check in.” he spoke on the flight net. This not only reaffirmed the order that he had given, but also let his flight know that he was out of subspace.
Everyone was accounted for, he switched to the Command Net. “2nd red is out and intact.”
“Bannockburn is out. All forces accounted for.”
It was then that Phillip’s threat receivers went crazy.
Commander O’Shea literally smashed the firing stud on his control stick releasing two Crossbow Missiles. “Fish in the water.”
He quickly switched back to guns and leveled his crosshairs on the enemy ship, firing his eight britta’s in stutterfire, 4 bursts of two each. He was watching the exhaust plumes of the crossbows in his peripheral while keeping the britta’s online, when the ship slipped sideways faster than he could have thought possible. It didn’t just bank and turn, it slid to the side, causing the missiles to by pass it and explode harmlessly off her starboard fuselage. Worse yet, it cuased Phillip to miss with his guns.
“No joy, repeat, no joy. This bastard’s good.” He switched to the command net. “Bannockburn we need reinforcements, we need them now.” To punctuate this statement, 2nd flight, red 3 exploded ahead and above Phillip’s charging Paladin.
He pulled to Starboard to try and catch the enemy craft as she came about. She was gone, and Phillip was npow the hunted, whether by his former prey or another ship he couldn’t tell, but his shields were multicolored from the hits as the green lances began to puncture them. He quickly his landing jets and kicked his reaction control rudders to port while pulling his stick back. Gawain flipped end for end in a barrel roll and ended the manuver facing the opponent and firing all 8 of her britta’s into it. He saw the craft buckle under the onslaught before he fired again, and scored a second alpha strike. Still she came on, threatening his front shields, he had to arrest his rearward momentum and fast before the craft blew him apart. He punched his afterburners and was immediately planted in his seat as his engines kicked into added thrust and he shot forward like a bullet blasting away with his Brittas, and firing off a missile salvo even without lock. The Crossbows hit and the craft exploded just as he flew through it, debris raining around him, and pinging off of the transparesteel canopy.
“All fighters, disengage and return to Bannockburn. We are tracking a large vessel incoming and need to get out of here now. Disengage and return.” Came the voice from Bannockburn. The problem of course was how to disengage with this foe without being destroyed in the process. They were far more manoverable and faster than his force. The Summoners seemed to be holding their own, but just barely. The Thors couldn’t outrun them, and the Paladins would be sitting ducks.
“Red and Blue, reverse double cross on my mark, all scissors. Blue for home first. Go Go GO!” Phillip ordered. A look at his tactical display showed him to have three ships in Red flight and four in Blue flight. Blue flight shot immediately toward Bannockburn. All of them scissoring like mad and crossing each other’s paths to keep the enemy ships from getting a clear lock on them. Red flight shot away from Bannockburn also scissoring, forcing the superior enemy force to divide between the flights and pursue.
Crisscrossing with Dragon in 2 and Pepper in 5 did nothing to disuade the enemy force. His shields were being eaten by superior firepower. A glance at tactical showed four ships chasing his flight, and 5 chasing Blue flight.
“Getting hammered on boss” Dragon called from Red 2.
It was a bit early, but so be it. If they didn’t pull it now they would all be dead before they could get it done.
“GO GO GO!!!” Phillip screamed and immediately turned his craft around. The enemy ships were still in straight line as Red flight went between them in full afterburner, Gawain groaning in protest as she was manouvered in such a way that she was never meant to, the forces of the manouver stressing her hull almost to the breaking point. He saw Blue Flight coming toward him when Pepper shot out in front, his Thor easily the fastest of the three. Dragon’s Summoner was pulling ahead low and port. The pursuers of both Red and Blue had already made the turn and were again gaining.
“It’s gunna be close gang. Choose targets. Mark em. I am on Gemini 4.”
“Dragon has Gemini 2. Slow down a bit Pepper.”
“Negative Pepper, mark your target and punch through, then head straight for home, combat landing.”
“Roger lead, Pepper has Gemini 1.”
They opened fire as one on the enemy force, with Blue wing shooting between them to hit the pursuing force. Covering each other in a desperate attempt to even up the odds. The force pursuing Red flight was the first to react and return fire. Blue two went out in a fireball. Red flight faired better, destroying all three targets, and with 5 heading for home, Phillip, with Dragon on his wing turned and went after the final pursuers of Blue wing, they had already manouvered away and were coming about.
“Switch targets, go after Virgo while they are looking at Blue.”
“Got it. I’m on 3.”
Phillip again glanced at his tac display, and noted that only two of Blue flight remained to try and take out the two ships remaining in Gemini. He immediately switched to the command net, “Blue on my mark break off and go Virgo. We have Gemini. Blue 1 break to low port on my signal. Break now!”
Blue 1 followed as ordered and broke to the left and down, the enemy ship trailing him. Enemy fighter designated Gemini 2 found himself being hammered on by 8 Britta hs-9’s his aft shield being eaten away even as two Crossbows arced their deadly way toward it. It went up in a fireball.
Dragon was all over his target, but had problems of his own. The two fighters left of Virgo wing were attempting to line him up and take him down. “Get some cover on Red 2.”
“Blue 1 is on him.”
Before Blue 1 could line up a shot, all three of the remaining enemies broke off and headed out at max speed. They reformed a few Kilometers out and kept going.
“Head home at best speed, we have to get out of here before the heavy arrives.” Phillip ordered. 3 double clicks of microphones were his answer.
03-12-2005, 07:10 AM
“You sent me back here because you didn’t think I would survive in the engagement instead of letting me stay and fight. Now two other people are dead because of it.” Ensign Santos Levario nearly shouted.
His words had a visible effect on Philip, in the debriefing. The knowledge that he had lost a lot of pilots today weighed heavily on him. The knowledge that some good friends were gone weighed even more heavily. The worst of it was, he was the one who would send the news home. The Colonel usually took that responsibility on himself, but when it came to the fighter pilots, Philip felt that it was his duty as the C.A.G. He wanted to throttle the young pilot right then and there for his insolence. Yet his anger was understandable, if misplaced.
“No, I sent you home because you were the only Thor that we had left. That meant that you were by far the fastest one we had, and I wasn’t sure that any of us would survive. You were the only one that had a prayer of disengaging and making it back so that your battle roms could be reviewed, and the old man could see exactly what we were fighting out there. They weren’t anything that we have seen before. Your safety was not an issue, the safety of the people that we were trying to protect was the issue. Am I clear, Pepper?”
Pepper looked as if he was as stupid as he felt, which at that moment was quite stupid. “Perfectly Sir. I stand corrected.”
Phillip looked at the man, not much older than a boy really, standing before him at parade rest. “Sit down, you and I need to have a talk.”
Ensign Santos “Pepper” Levario sat in the chair opposite the desk that belonged to Philip, who was already seated. “Sir I owe you an apology for the remark.”
Philip had to suppress a smile before he could continue. He had been right, and Pepper knew it. Pepper’s passion would serve him well as a pilot, provided that his ego didn’t get him killed first. He was a tough kid, grew up in foster home after foster home before coming to the Horde a year ago to learn how to fly. In actuality, he had come to the Horde to simply get away from his past, which he seldom discussed, but his aptitude was high enough for fighter training. His reflexes were better, and his sim time was fantastic. He was a natural pilot. Philip had once overheard him giving advice to a pilot who was struggling, the cockiness was gone from his voice, and he didn’t taunt the other student, it was the first time that Philip had glimpsed the man that Santos would become. He was explaining to the younger student how he saw everything in three dimensions, tracking each member of the immediate battle, and could visualize this in his head. He talked about how he kept of him aware of the battle, and didn’t focus simply on the fighter that he was shooting at, or being shot at by.
Santos could not know that this was a gift that few possessed, and those few became the best pilots in the business. While his “pupil” would go on to fly fighters, he would always fly by the numbers, not really feeling the joy that others would feel when flying. For him it was a chess match and he would think his way through. While an adequate pilot, he would never be one of the best.
“Pepper, in half an hour I have to meet with the Colonel. It will be my recommendation at that time that you be placed in a tighter training regimen. The fact is, you are a great pilot, you can see the battle easily, and have almost a bird’s eye view of it. I know what that is like, I do the same thing.”
Pepper looked as if he were waiting for more bad news, and when none was forthcoming he spoke up instead, “Sir, permission to speak freely?”
“Of course.” Was all that Philip would say in reply.
“You said that I am one of the best, yet you are wanting me to train more heavily. Why?”
Philip again had to repress a smile, at Santos. His file was a thick one, always in trouble, which means that he was seeing this as disciplinary action, or that he wasn’t good enough in the eyes of his C.A.G. “Let’s get this straight, I said that you are a great pilot, I never said one of the best. You can become one of the best, but you aren’t. The bottom line is, Blue 1 can’t handle it. He can’t see the battle from outside it. He’s a good commander, but he has no heart for it, I think that you do. In eight months time I plan to review your performance and training level and put you up for a command position. Your battle sense will serve you well there, but more important, it will serve this command well.”
Santos was visibly shocked at this. He quite literally could think of nothing to say. His jaw was simply hanging open, and his eyes were wide, as if he had just seen the fabled chupacabra of his ancestor’s legends.
Philip finally did smile. “Close your mouth Pepper, we aren’t finished yet. The Pilot and command training doesn’t bother me, I know that you will do just fine in those, the thing that scares me is what happened in this office. You cannot think for a moment that anything is personal, because it isn’t. This is business. If I fail, people die, that’s all there is to it. If you fail in a command position people die. Sometimes, the hardest part of command is knowing whether or not you’ve failed, the constant second guessing. You think you’re up to it?”
Santos could finally speak, “Yes Sir, and thank you Sir.”
“Don’t thank me yet, you may not be so thankful once the training kicks in. Dismissed.”
Santos stood, and before he was completely upright, the intercom sounded, “Commander O’shea, you are needed in the Captain’s ready room, asap.”
“Good luck Pepper” and with that Philip shook his hand and ran out the door.
Once in the corridor he kept running, asap was a word not often spoken in the Horde, so when it was, it meant “get your ass here now.” Philip had no idea what was going on. The Colonel would be upset at the losses incurred today, and while not cold, he was a professional who understood that death is the nature of combat. Philip had no clue what this could be, but to move the Command Staff debrief up half an hour wasn’t unheard of, but it was still a bit unsettling.
It took him 5 minutes to get from his office near the flight deck to the Colonel’s ready room, which was off of the bridge. When he entered, the Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel Geisendorff, Mr. Michaels, and a Vasudan were in there waiting. There was also a contigent of Vasudan Guards and Iron Horde Guards. The IH Guards were not actually on the Horde Payroll, they were some of the special forces Marines. Philip scanned the room quickly, and decided that for all the guards, things were fairly civil. He moved quickly to the Colonel’s side.
“Gentlemen, this is Commander O’Shea, Commander of my fighter squadrons. Commander this is Subcommander Ak’lah, of the Vasudan Commonwealth Naval Forces. He is here inquiring as to our presence. Perhaps you could fill him in on this morning’s events.” The colonel said without moving his eyes from the Vasudan.
“That will not be necessary”, the Vasudan countered, we were en route to assist you when our probes picked you up. Your signals were forwarded to my ship, and you we have heard all. Commander O’Shea, I am sorry for your losses today.”
“Thank you, Sir” Philip replied. He didn’t trust the Vasudan for some reason. Maybe it was the overly polite manner, but Philip knew that there was more to this than a simple apology.
“The Vasudan Commonwealth requires that your ship disarm while in our space. This gestures and laws apply to all privately owned warships. You must comply.”
Subcommander Ak’lah ordered.
Colonel Macaullay didn’t bat an eye. “I mean no disrespect, but I cannot comply with that order. You are facing an enemy that you do not know. One that you cannot protect yourself against. Disarming my ship would be to place my people at greater risk than they are by simply being here at all.”
“You must understand, these are the laws which govern all in the Commonwealth. Order must be kept.” The Vasudan began to shift nervously.
It was then that Jayme Michaels, Assistant Sovereign Defense Advisor spoke up, “Colonel, if I may?”
A glance at Mr. Michaels told the Colonel all he wanted to know at that moment, “Go ahead.”
“Subcommander Ak’lah, forgive me for not giving you the full rank that I hold in My government. I am the assistant to the Soveriegn Defense Advisor of the Terran Coalition. I speak for our government.”
While not quick to anger, the Vasudan was beginning to. “You would dare bring an armed vessel into VAC Space? You risk war with our people.”
“Actually, I risk nothing. While the TEC may not conduct military operations within all space that belongs to you, according to the non aggression pact that we have with your government, either of us may use mercenaries to bolster the strength of the other. Further, we may use Mercenaries to conduct non military operations within one another’s realms, so long as the actions taken in strength are from a defensive point only. These gentlemen are being paid by the TEC, and we are here to find our lost diplomat. Should you wish to press this into a military matter, this ship will defend herself, and you will have violated our treaty with your government, and would probably be the cause for a war between our two peoples. Think about it Ak’lah, neither of us wants that. You are being attacked by an unknown force, it is my belief that this unknown force has either captured or killed our ambassador to your government, the TEC has paid these mercenaries to come here and find out. We have a common enemy, let us not fight amongst ourselves.”
“We will be watching you, in fact we require your flight plans so that we may escort you.” The Vasudan said.
“An hour before we move, we’ll transmit our intentions.” Lt. Colonel Geisendorff said.
“That is acceptable, but know this, should you in any way harm the Vasudan People, I will not hesitate to destroy you.”
With that, Subcommander Ak’lah turned and left the ready room. Followed by his contingent and that of the Marines who were escorting him.
“Well, I think they heard of me, there’s a Vasudan Commonwealth Flotilla out there making sure that I don’t attack. I didn’t know I rated so high.” The Colonel finally said.
The Vasudan flotilla consisted of a Zhong-kui Corvette and 3 Peng Lai Cruisers. The sleek lines of the Vasudan ships following in stark contrast to the hard edge leading Kenaz Cruiser of Terran Coalition origin.
“Captain, if you would notify Subcommander Ak’lah that we are leaving for the Antlia system in an hour, I would apreciate it.” Colonel Macaullay said, as he watched his crew from his accustomed place on the bridge.
“Aye Sir, Comm, open a channel to the Flagship of our friends.”
“Channel open sir, at your leisure.”
Macaullay stared out at the nebula in the distance. Wondering if he had ever felt this alone. He still knew nothing about the enemy that his man had faced, and the Vasudans weren’t talking. He knew that he would strike a nerve by going to Antlia, it was the last place that hid quarry was known to have been. If Antlia has indeed fallen, he would know soon enough.
“Colonel, the Vasudans recommend against that course of action. In fact, they are asking for you to come aboard so that they may discuss the matter.” Lt. Colonel Geisendorff told him.
He was right, Antlia had fallen to this enemy. If so, then it would stand to reason that more of the outlying systems had fallen as well. “Tell Ak’lah that I cannot leave the ship at this time, but that if he would like to come aboard, I would happy to discuss this him.”
While Lt. Colonel Geisendorff was relaying the message, the doors behind Colonel Macaullay slid open and Tabitha walked onto the bridge. For a moment, all activity ceased as all eyes turned toward her, they just quickly were averted as the crew went back to work. It had occurred to Macaullay, as it was occurring now, that his daughter possessed a kind of presence, people felt her when she was near, she would have been a great commander, and Macaullay was glad that she had chosen a different course.
“Daddy? What are we doing?” her voice was so calm, and yet so forceful that her father had to smile a bit. A great Commander indeed.
“We are forcing the Vasudans to tell us what the hell is going on.” He turned to look at his daughter. “They’ve been rather tight lipped about everything, and by wanting to go to Antlia, they will have to give us an explanation as to why they don'’ want us to. I know the real reason already though, Antlia has fallen. We are about to turn around and go the other way, to Rotenev.”
Tabitha looked thoughtful for a second. Then asked matter of factly, “What intel do we have on Antlia, and what assets will we be using to gain more? It occurs to me, that if we are heading for Rotenev, you are afraid of this enemy, what did you see in the Battle Roms?”
“Whoever this is, they are flying the standard of the GTVA.” He said loud enough for only his daughter to hear.
“Ak’lah is on his way, Colonel.”
“Good.” Macaullay suddenly felt a great relief at not having to see it through. “Mike meet me in my ready room with him as soon as he gets aboard, have Michaels meet us there as well. In fact, have Michaels meet me there now.”
“You got it Jim.”
“Tabitha, you’d better go wake Philip and have him join me there now as well.”
Tabitha suddenly looked cold, “He need sleep dad.”
“I know, but I need him there for this meeting, I promise, he will go right back to bed afterwards.”
“Tell Ak’lah to turn back Immeidately!!” Macaullay shouted on the bridge as his ship rocked beneath his feet from a second hit.
“Helm come about to Starboard, down 10 degrees on the foc’sle, and begin roll for broadside!” Lt. Colonel Geisendorff called out.
He heard the echos as they acknowledged his orders, and through the viewscreen, he watched as his fighters screamed overhead and then away form the ship. A glance at tactical told him that the Vasudans had also launched fighters and were moving in to a support position. The enemy destroyer also beginning her turn and preparing to broadside the Iron Horde vessel.
Macaullay watched as the blue beam danced toward his ship, her light brilliant as only mega-joules can be. He felt his ship shudder again beneath him.
“Sir, we have dempression on decks 7-9, frames 13-16, sections 1 through 4. Engineering reports burst coolant leads, we are loosing speed, and losing power to guns and life support.” Damage control reported.
“How long to repair?” Lt. Colonel Geisendorff asked.
“Sir, they can’t. We haven’t got the parts for the repairs. There are too many to make. Life support will fail in 2 hours.”
Philip saw the destroyer begin to make her turn and ordered all squadrons to take out the turrets on the side facing Tabitha. At least he could by them some time. Enemy fighters were launching, and coming in waves from the fighterbay.
“Dragon, Pepper, let’s go see if we can’t wreck the fighter bay a bit, all other flights, continue to disarm this vessel, the Vasudans are on the way as well, so just hang tight and stay alive, ETA is two minutes.
03-13-2005, 03:22 AM
W0W, you wrote all of that? Its great.... I am about halfway finished.
03-13-2005, 07:11 AM
Macaullay was already sprinting for damage control when the ship began to shudder, and the telltale whine of her beams sounded. One by one the beam cannon lit off, sending brightly colored death back toward the destroyer that had attacked her. With decompression on 3 decks, he knew that he was taking casualties, and he had to see how things were going for himself.
The Kenaz cruiser was by far the most powerful cruiser ever built. Iron Horde modifications had enhanced the Bannockburn even beyond what her designers had done. With 4 anti cap ship beams on each side, she could decimate a ship as large as a destroyer, and for anti fighter defense, each side held 3 aaaf beams, and 4 magnesium flak turrets. A Velfire turret covered the front, her rapid-fire bursts spelling death for fighters attacking from that direction. Twin Velfire turrets top and bottom covered the rear. The side broadside beams covered most of the top and bottom of Bannockburn. What wasn’t covered by the beams was easily covered by her fighter compliment. Heavy modification had allowed her to field a full squadron of fighters.
The amount of force and firepower that she could produce came a cost, the most significant of the sacrifices that she had to make were in speed and maneuverability.
Again the ship was rocked by a blast, and Macaullay was taken off his feet. On the way down, his head was smashed into the bulkhead and he was rendered unconscious.
“Dragon get out of there!” Phillip screamed as Dragon flew into the path of another wing of fighters. They were slow to react as his guns opened on them, and one went down under his onslaught before he was past them, guns and missiles blazing.
“I’m alright Boss, but I have a whole mess of free targets in here, get clear of the bay while I take em out, nothing is gunna launch now, trust me on that.” Dragon replied, the sounds of firing and explosions echoing through the com link.
“Got it Dragon, stay in here and wreak some havoc, hit fuel and ammo if you can find any. Pepper, stay with him and fly cover, keep your eyes on your sensors in case anyone comes in to take him out. Once you guys have damaged enough of this place, get out, we still need help out there.”
2 double clicks of the com link were all that Phillip in reply from Dragon and Pepper as he turned his fighter back to the battle at hand. In his view, he could clearly see Bannockburn; she was venting fire in more than one place, which meant that she was losing air. Tabitha was quickly pushed from his mind as he flew straight into the three fighters that Pepper had engaged in the fighter bay. They weren’t breaking for the battle; instead they were heading for Bannockburn. That could only mean one thing. These weren’t fighters, these were bombers.
“Bannockburn be advised, you have bombers inbound your position. Lancelot is tracking and engaging.”
“Acknowledged Lancelot, do what you can out there, we’re in quite a mess here.” Came the voice of the Comm Officer.
Phillip opened up with his 8 Brittae as soon as the missiles had positive lock. He pushed the firing stud and felt the gentle shimmy of Gawain as his missiles leapt forth, tracking the purple light of his Brittae as all of them slammed into the rear shield of the enemy craft. His scanner showed that the shields were gone, yet he continued to fire on her even she turned to evade. His shots were scoring hits on the craft even as the missiles struck home, not destroying the craft, but certainly taking her out of the fight as she spun completely out of control, and had no thruster operating to correct with. He’d obviously destroyed something vital. His attention shifted immediately to the next bomber.
“2nd Lead Red, you have a tail, repeat, you’ve been picked up and they are coming up fast.” Phillip heard over his com link even as he poured fire into the second bomber. While this one was faster to react, the end result was the same, it was destroyed. As it went into a fireball, so did Gawain’s aft shield. Phillip slammed the port rudder pedal even as he pulled hard on the flight yoke. Then he threw the port bow thrusters to full reverse, sending his assault fighter into an end for end flip, once again showing that in capable hands, any fighter can be as nimble as a superiority fighter. Gawain protested this kind of abuse, but gave in and allowed it to happen.
The enemy craft had her guns blazing but broke off at the site of Gawain suddenly flipping to become the hunter. A quick check of Tactical showed that his entire squadron was down to half strength, but the Vasudans had joined the battle as well, the odds were now favoring his forces. If he could get rid of this fighter, he could still intercept the bomber.
“All ships, the Bannockburn can’t take much more of this pounding, scan for the weapons subsystem on that destroyer, and take it out.” Phillip ordered as he tracked the fighter with his Brittae on stutterfire, letting loose 4 pairs of 2 bolts at a time. The fighter charged him, with her own guns blazing, which a mistake. For all her maneuverability and speed, she was under powered against Gawain. She fell and Phillip quickly reversed his heading to again track the bomber.
“Sir I’ve scanned the vessel 3 times, and I do not find a weapons subsystem. To me it feels like each gun is independent of the others, we’ll have to take the turrets out.” Came the voicing from Blue 3.
“Understood, any forces not engaged, go after those turrets.”
Lt. Colonel Geisendorff saw the new contact on his tactical display and knew what was bearing down on his ship but before he could say anything, Captain Bradley was shouting. “Incoming bomb, track and destroy, Brace for impact!”
With two of her port guns down, she wanted to roll and present the four starboard guns to her target. At the same time, tactical showed that there was a weakness of coverage underneath the destroyer, so ideally she wanted to get under it and broadside with her fresh starboard batteries. Bannockburn was slower than any other Kenaz cruiser, but was still by far more mobile than the destroyer that she was fighting. Currently she could nothing until that bomb was either destroyed or her ship was struck by it.
She didn’t bother to glance out the main view port at the raging battle, but instead kept her eyes glued to tactical. “I want all flak and aaaf on port side tracking and firing on the bomb, top Vels as well as foc’sle Vels tracking the bomber, I want it taken out as soon as it is in range.”
“Aye sir, weapons firing and tracking as ordered. One of our fighters is inbound after the bomb and bomber. It’s Lancelot.”
There was a chance, a good chance actually, that Lancelot would be caught in the blasts of the magnesium flak. It couldn’t be helped. Hopefully he wouldn’t be hit.
Phillip saw the aaaf beams and the flak tracking the bomb, and the Velfire Turrets tracking the bomber, he opted for going after the bomber and hoping that the bomb wouldn’t make it all the way in. Kicking in his full afterburner, he poured on the speed and opened fire, the bomber didn’t flinch as it launched two more bombs at Bannockburn, then sluggishly veered off. It has just begun its evasion when the Crossbows hit. The explosion was huge, the bombs obviously going critical instead of coming apart.
My God, they were armed in the bay. Phillip thought as the shock waves of multiple warheads raced toward him. Deciding that the best way to minimize his target profile was to hit them straight on hard and fast, he gently pressed the starboard rudder pedal and threw all power to the engines as he again lit off with his afterburners. The shock waves hit and he was slammed about in his cockpit, his finger pulling the trigger more than once and firing the main guns. Then he was through and chasing after the bombs. The first of the bombs was hit by flak and blew apart at close to 500 meters from Bannockburn. The second and third were passing the 600 meter mark, and Phillip was firing in chain mode, one at gun at a time in rapid fire, attempting to put up a wall of energy bolts that the bombs would have to fly through. He connected with the bomb nearest him and was hard on the last one when an errant aaaf beam from Bannockburn lanced through his shields and into Gawain.
03-29-2005, 03:06 AM
“Lancelot is hit, I repeat, Lancelot is hit!” screamed the weapons master when he saw the hit.
Tabitha had just entered the CiC when she heard this. Her face went slack, and the water she had been drinking dropped from her hand before she could notice, let alone stop it. Although she couldn’t see Gawain at that moment, he had seen the effects of such a hit more than enough times to know what would be happening in the small craft. First systems would die, and the craft would tumble end over end, usually twisting at the same time. More often than not, she would be venting fluids; precious fuel and life support coolant would be lost. Recovery craft should be on the way.
“Two new contacts, entering between the Destroyer and Bannockburn. Friendly IFFs sir, getting readings now. SIR THEY ARE OURS!!!! OH MY GOD IT’S FIRE AND BRIMSTONE!!!” The operations specialist yelled in excitement.
Tabitha moved across the CiC in a daze. She was looking intently at the incoming bomb, and the spinning icon that she knew to be Phillip. Phillip didn’t know it, but he had taken out one of the bombs.
Before Lt. Colonel Geisendorff could utter an order, the twin corvettes opened up in a united double broadside on the now outgunned destroyer. Both corvettes spewing fighters and bombers from the launch bays. Lt. Colonel Geisendorff ordered the Fire to move to a position under the enemy vessel, and then roll for broadside. Brimstone was to be the bait; she would go over the top and would then begin directing fire at the Turrets, forcing the enemy craft to fire on her. Bombers were in coming from both ships as they attacked the turrets. The enemy fighters were soon going to be overwhelmed by the friendlies.
Phillip was still spinning in space.
Two crewmembers gently eased the burden that they carried onto a bed in sick bay. The doctor immediately came over to take a look. The patient was, gracefully, asleep. The entire left side of his face was smashed, He wasn’t asleep, he was out cold. The doctor went straight about his work; all of the vitals were fine. He ordered the patient moved to resonance. Years ago, resonance, using minute sonic vibrations had replaced the x-ray and the CAT scan. The irony of the development of this technology is that one of it’s first uses was as a sonic welder, using sonic vibrations to weld two pieces of plastic together, mostly in toys. Now the children of this technology are used to safely examine not only bone structure, but also internal organs. It would be ten minutes before he had the results of the resonance. Some things could not be hurried.
Tabitha was still in concentration on the spinning icon in blue, and the in red denoting the inbound bomb. The bomb icon winked out; it had been hit. Two blue icons were moving very quickly toward Phillip, and two others were escorting yet a third ship to his area. She reached out and touched one of the racers. It was Dragon. A touch to the other icon brought up its information; it was Pepper. She turned to the Comm officer.
“Raise Pepper.” Was all that she said.
No one would dare deny Tabitha a request, for fear of reprisals from the old man, or even from Phillip, but somewhere in that small frame was a powerhouse of will, and everyone knew better than to tell her no.
“Pepper, please give status on Red 1.”
The two racing icons reached Phillip and formed up to either side of him.
“Copy command, cockpit is untouched, scans indicate life support at 12%, engine is gone, weaps and nav are offline. Comm is down as well. He is venting fuel from the Starboard side, no flames. He has also taken damage near life support, I suspect that automatic damage control could handle it, but he won’t last much longer. He needs help. He is spinning at about 1.5-rps port; velocity is stable at 38. There is no movement in the cockpit. Passing beneath I can see no damage. All damage seems to be centered behind the cockpit. Son of a bitch, the docking ring is a mess, recovery craft cannot dock, I repeat, recovery cannot dock. Get that recovery Vehicle here asap, he just started venting life support. He is not conscious and cannot go to internal support. Dragon get above me. Command I am going EV. Send a second recovery vehicle for my ship. Switching to internal life support. Canopy open.”
Captain Bradley was on her feet, “Order him to close that canopy and await further instructions.”
The order was passed on by the Comm officer.
“Negative Command, “ came the voice of Dragon, “he has a hold of my stabilizer, and if he were to let go now, I am afraid that he would miss his ship. We are moving over to Lancelot, he’s going to open the canopy from the outside and switch Lancelot to internal support, then get him out of there and await recovery craft. I will stay on Pepper’s Thor after the drop off, it is moving steady at 12. Should be an easy pick up.”
Tabitha’s eyes were glued to the display, and her ears were glued to the Comm officer.
In his ship, Dragon had already picked Pepper up; knowing what he was thinking when he popped his canopy. There was only enough life support for 15 minutes once a pilot went internal. They had to be quick in order to get the C.A.G. out and still have support left in Pepper’s suit when the recovery craft arrived. He couldn’t accelerate as quickly as he wanted to, for fear of what would happen to Pepper, but he couldn’t afford the time for a slow burn either. He looked to his Starboard stabilizer and Pepper waved him forward, he accelerated, and watched Pepper nearly lose his grip when the ship gave her initial lurch. Slowing down again would be a bit tricky. But they had only a few minutes to make this happen. Luckily, the fighting was going on elsewhere at the moment.
CiC on Bannockburn was a hive of activity, between the Vasudans now being range to fire on the destroyer, and the twins out there, controlled chaos was happening. Such is the way of combat. The enemy fighter cover was now all but non existent. The destroyer was changing course, seeking an escape vector. Fire and Brimstone were being true to their names and raining hell on the injured ship. The battle was all but over.
Dragon’s Voice came back over the Comm, “We are above the target, she has taken on a very slow spin on her x axis, as well as her more speedy flat spin, I am maneuvering to compensate. Too late, Pepper is free, repeat Pepper is en route to the target. Rolling for a canopy view and transmitting.”
The secure line in CiC buzzed and Lt. Colonel Geisendorff picked it up. Tabitha didn’t notice.
On a small viewscreen Tabitha watched as Gawain came into view. A figure falling toward it as the tail came up and she was spinning. It looked as if Pepper may miss the ship altogether and just float off into space, until he got one hand inside an exhaust port. Anywhere but the cold of space and the exhaust port would still have been hot enough to burn through gloved hand, and through the flesh beneath.
Pepper knew only two things; the foremost in his mind was that his C.A.G was in serious trouble, and the second, that he was an idiot for trying this fool stunt. He was free falling through space and was watching the exhaust port come to him, he managed to grab a hold and pull himself up. Once atop the fighter, he made his way to the cockpit, agonizingly slow. He knew that time was running out for the Boss, and he was the only one who could do anything about it. The pressure actually meant nothing to him, he was calm and at ease with what he was doing, hurried, but not harried by the thought of his commander’s life support giving out any second. He couldn’t feel the end over end spin, but the flat spin was enough to offer him some gravity by way of centrifugal force. He could feel himself being pulled to the outside edges of the fighter. He finally made his way to the cockpit.
Tabitha watched as the canopy opened with a slowness that could not have been natural, and saw as the figure reached in and unhooked Phillip. Phillip was now on the life support from his own suit. Once he was clear of the cockpit, the figure turned to wave, and silent tears rolled down her cheeks. They weren’t out of this yet, but it was a good sign. The readouts on the suit said that Phillip was alive.
“Recovery you have 6 minutes to get here and get these two pilots, get over here, lock onto me, I’ll be the fighter dragging to pilots with me.”
That said, Dragon didn’t wait for a reply, he inched his craft closer to Gawain, and, mindful of her tail section coming upward to meet him, had to break off. It was then that Pepper leapt into open space once more, with Phillip thrown over his shoulder. Dragon set about to intercept them, but was told to back away by the pilot of the recovery craft. Both pilots would make it through the day.
Lt. Colonel Geisendorff hung up the secure line. “Captain Bradley, you have command of this fleet, Tabitha we need to get to sick bay.”
Tabitha turned around with an almost puzzled look, then realized that they would be taking Phillip there directly upon his arrival. “We need to get to the docking hatch, that’s where he will have to come through.”
“Tab, it’s your father.”
“His brain is swelling from the bleeding. I can relieve some of the pressure, but I can’t stop the bleeding inside. I’m sorry Tabitha, there is nothing that I can do.” The doctor calmly explained.
03-29-2005, 05:46 AM
Tabitha stared down into her father’s face, he was a mess, but even caved in, he didn’t look as bad as he really was. She’d spent the night running back and forth between his bed and Phillip’s, and she wasn’t the slightest bit tired. The stress was getting to her, she knew, but she couldn’t have slept if she tried. Phillip wasn’t awake yet, but that was by design, they were keeping him out. They would allow him to wake in the morning, and once he was up and about, they would find out about any adverse effects of the electric shock.
When he took the hit, it struck near high voltage cables, the ship became the conductor, and the insulation in the helmet was overcome. He was literally knocked senseless by the blast. He still had plenty of Life support in his suit when the pick up arrived, but Pepper had less than a minute. They had both nearly died. Her father on the other hand, was dying. The doctor’s had decided that it would be best to keep him under sedation, for the pain, but it wasn’t the explanation for his still not having woken up. That was another matter entirely, he was in a coma. He would never wake up. The full force of it all had yet to hit Tabitha, she was still in shock over the day’s events. Lt. Colonel Geisendorff was with her at all times, and the doctors and nurses were in a state of constant alert to her presence, not knowing her reaction once the shock wears off.
Tabitha stared down into her father’s face, the man who had protected her, who had raised her, who taught her right from wrong, and more important, gave her the knowledge of Honor. He was by far the most honorable man she had ever known, yeah he had his quirks, but he was a good and decent man, and didn’t deserve this.
“Mike?” she asked
“Right here. Whaddya need?” Lt. Colonel Geisendorff asked.
“I want Pepper and dragon to receive commendations.”
“Tab I know that I can keep them from any serious trouble over this, but they were defying orders. I know that what they did saved Phillip’s life, and we are all indebted to them for that, but they risked losing two more planes, and two other pilots out there, and that is unacceptable.”
Tabitha still hadn’t looked up from her father. She had always hated the way hospitals smelled. “They are exactly what the Iron Horde is, courageous, and loyal, and caring more for each other than for ourselves. They aren’t rule breakers, they are heroes, and deserve to be treated as such. Phillip would be dead right now if not for them. Worse than that, the C.A.G. of this command would be dead. We both know that dad was grooming Phillip to take control and be the C.A.G. of the entire Horde, because dad thought it was best for all of us. They didn’t disobey an order, they did what they knew to be right, what was best for all concerned, and were willing to die for it. They aren’t the heroes of me. They are heroes of the Iron Horde, and exemplify what we are. I have never in my life witnessed an act more selfless. There was no debate, no planning, they knew what had to be done and they did it. I want them to have commendations, and I know that my father would give it to them.”
Mike looked like he wanted to be anywhere but where he was. Which in reality wasn’t at all what he was feeling, he was just wanting to have any conversation other than the one he was in.
He was spared replying to her when she abruptly turned and walked through the separation curtain. He knew exactly where she was going; she was going to Phillip now. He gave her a few minutes of alone time, time to mull things over. She was right, and he knew it. They had disobeyed a direct order and were heroes for it. They had put everything in jeopardy, and came out untouchable. On the other hand, if they had failed, they would be dead. The gamble paid off.
Tabitha walked over to Phillip’s bed; he looked surprisingly good, all things considered. His hair was singed, and he had obvious burns. Other than that he looked fine. What was this going to do to him psychologically? Would again hold on too tight, and become the shell of who he once was? Would their unborn child ever know the man she fell in love with? Did she ever want him to fly again? Right now, all she could think about was the fact that he was safe.
Dragon and Pepper had come home to heroes welcome, and then been summarily confined to quarters. She didn’t care; Phillip was alive because of them. Any other action would have been far too late. She needed to know that he was ok. She needed to know that he was who her father originally thought he was, and again thought he was.
She turned back to go look in on her father.
Mike still stood in the room with his closest friend. Damn we’ve been through a lot, he thought to himself. It was all coming together so nicely. Dammit why’d you have to be the one? Why couldn’t you just stay your ass in CiC where it belonged? He knew the answers though. Because he wasn’t the Commanding Officer of the Iron Horde, he WAS the Iron Horde. They were in a hostile environment, and they had lost the C.O. There were standing orders locked in a safe in Mike’s Quarters, and he had to go and get them. He had never looked at them, never even contemplated looking at them; he was always so sure that of all of them, Colonel James Macaullay was the one closest to being immortal.
He heard Tabitha’s footsteps coming up behind him, and realized that they had no time to grieve. They were both losing someone special to them, but they were Iron Horde, and would persevere, they would go on. Right now, they had work to do.
“Tab, I have to run to my cabin real quick, and we need to talk. Wait for me here.”
“Sure Mike,” was the reply she gave, her eyes never leaving her father.
He took a step away, and did something absolutely uncharacteristic for him. He slipped his arm around her, and kissed her lightly on the top of the head. At first there was no movement from her, but then, slowly, he began to feel her weight as she leaned against him, and buried her face. It was then her tears flowed, and he knew that he could do nothing to stop them, and at the same time, he couldn’t allow himself the luxury that he was giving her. He felt her arms around him and she held him tightly, her body wracked with sobs and all he could do was allow her the use of his shoulder. He knew that she was too smart for any of the clichés, or any of the “I wish I could make it all better.” He knew that all he could do for her now was to let her cry.
She didn’t go into hysterics, but it was all starting to sink in, and he knew she would be a mess soon if she didn’t have something keeping her busy. Twenty minutes later they were back at Jim’s bed, the Orders having been read. They were simple; Mike was to take command of all military assets, Tabitha was to take command of logistics and administration, Phillip was to take command of all fighter and bomber assets. He was to be the C.A.G. for the entire Horde. Mike was also to take command of all ground units. The three of them were to form a command triumvirate, and would then run the Iron Horde as they saw fit to run it. James Macaullay was confident that the three of them could work together and make the Iron Horde even better than it was, and it was currently one of the Elite in Mercenary circles.
03-31-2005, 05:36 AM
Though no one would have begrudged him showing up in clothing comfortable to his burns, Phillip would not hear of it. He’d been allowed to wake, and remembered the aaaf hit. His first thought was to ask after Tabitha, and then Gawain. Tabitha was a little worse for wear, and once his wits were about him, he’d asked her what was wrong. The haunted look in her eyes was evidence enough that things were not right. The news hit him like a hammer blow. All thoughts of Gawain were gone, as he pulled Tabitha to him. That was two days ago.
Dressing was quite a painful ordeal, and he would accept no help to ease the pain that movement caused while putting on his dress uniform. Movement only caused the pain as he pulled the black pants on, and then the boots. He checked to see that the red stripe running down the outside of each pant leg went in at the boot seam, and then went for the jacket. The short sleeve shirt would offer protection from it rubbing against his burns, but the arms and neck were another story. The Charcoal gray jacket of the Iron Horde was pulled on slowly, and painfully. The left side of the “blunted V” was buttoned first, and each of the ten gold buttons on that side were painful. Then the Black flap of the “V” it self was closed on the right side of the front. With the left side done, the tugging and rubbing was excruciating. Last was the buttoning of the banded collar at the neck, also in black. Now that his uniform was on, he placed the Red shoulder board on his left shoulder and attached it, the red meant that he was a Pilot, the Mace crossed with the Sword denoting him as a Commander. The half cape came next. Worn over the right shoulder with the rope going under the left arm and attaching to the other side of the cape, the cape was the most painful part of all to get into. Three times Tabitha had to be told no; he would not accept her help.
The last items to be put on were the belt, which bound the jacket at the waist, and held the scabbard for the cutlass that he carried. The hilt of the cutlass gleamed its high polished gold. Only then did he actually allow Tabitha to help him, as she had always done when he had to wear the uniform. She gently placed the ribbons and awards in the proper places. First she placed his wings, next came the campaign ribbons, and finally, his ribbons denoting him as a marksman. The last was the braided red and white rope that would loop under the shoulder board, denoting him as the Command Air Group, Iron Horde.
He reached out and hugged her gently. She gingerly returned the hug, fearful of his burns, and together they walked the few steps to the hangar bay, where the funeral would be held. Each lost in their own thoughts as they entered, yet taking some small measure of comfort from the fact that they were there for one another in this dark hour. Neither noticed that all eyes were on them as they took their seats in the front row.
There was no spiritual leader to perform a ceremony, so it fell to the Commanding Officer of the Military Assets, newly commissioned Colonel Mike Geisendorff.
Tabitha tried to pay attention, but her thoughts kept wandering. She knew that there was nothing that could have been done, nothing at all, but that did little to ease the pain.
“He was never more proud of a crew than he is of the people in the Iron …..” he was saying. Her thoughts were on her childhood, with both him and her mother, until her mother just one day was gone. She’d left a note, and explained that simply couldn’t take it anymore, that she was leaving them. Three months later they were informed of her suicide. Now they were both gone.
She came out of her reverie to the sound of her name, and knew that it was time for her to speak. She slowly stood, and Phillip stood with her, escorting her to the makeshift podium. He knelt on one knee while she went forward to it, and then turned to face the gathered crowd. Though it wasn’t mandatory that all off duty personnel attend, she knew that they were all there, from the Bannockburn, the Fire, and the Brimstone. The place was filled to capacity.
She looked out in the crowd, studying the faces of those where present, afraid to begin. She had no idea what she would say. She hadn’t prepared anything. How do you sum up your father in a few sentences?
Slowly, unbidden, and uncontrolled, tears came down her cheeks. She could think of nothing to say. She looked into the crowd, unashamed, and saw that a lot of them had broken as well. She stood, silently crying before the Horde, and with the Horde. All she could think was, I need you daddy. All that she could say was, “We love you daddy.”
At that, the low mournful sound of a drone bagpipe played. And her father’s Phosphorus and Magnesium coffin was set ablaze. The top burned brightly as it was launched from the bay and into space, all eyes on the monitor behind Tabitha, watching as their commander met his fitting end; burning in space to Amazing Grace on the bagpipes, as was his heritage.
04-01-2005, 02:13 AM
is anyone reading this?
04-01-2005, 02:53 AM
When I have the oppertunitly and spare time. I am about halfway through.
04-01-2005, 04:25 AM
I've already read some of it over at HL.
It's long, but always a good read ;)
04-01-2005, 04:29 AM
ok, it's 2/3 of the way finished. when it is done i plan to post the actual .doc file, fully compiled.
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