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The Spartan Chronicles: Book One

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  • The Spartan Chronicles: Book One

    The Spartan Chronicles: Chapter One


    *Chhthd chhthd* came the horrid chittering sound of a mindworm boil on the move. At least that was what the sound was meant to represent. To petty officer Kardon however, it meant to proceed with extreme caution. The idea of using the native sounds of Chiron as a relatively secure field communications protocol had been his after all. His objectives was only a few hundred yards away, the glittering reflection of the bunker was clearly visible, now he just had to get there unmolested.

    Kardon scanned the immediate area and noted no obvious threats so he proceeded to hug the outcropping and slink along to his next waypoint. This close to the principal objective his impact rifle would be useless, simply serving to bring down more heat than to get him out of a tight spot, so he strapped it to his back and pulled out his synthmetal combat knife. There was a lone guard post immediately to his left and if he could make it past without being detected, the remaining distance could be covered quickly.

    ‘Here goes nothing,’ thought Kardon as he stole up on the post. There appeared to be no one home, just a couple of proximity sensors and probably a pressure pad. ‘No problem there, I’ll just send an EM pulse form my comm pack and zip on by,’ he thought to himself. He unhooked the pack and reversed the power couplings, with the grounding so that the receiving pack would broadcast the electromagnetic radiation, rather that gather it. Kardon barely had time to recognize the sound of a rifle whistling toward his head before he took an extended, and forced, nap on the ground. “Heh, heh,” laughed the training sergeant, “guess he wasn’t quite ready for the recon course after all!”


    Captain Haradim Mizuno knew that their current mission assignment was important, he just could not bring himself to look forward to it. The men under his nominal command were all excellent troops, one had to be to qualify for the Expeditionary Forces, not to mention to stay alive in the field, and he did not want to lose them. Reports from the recon pilots indicated that the Hive had managed to break through the Great Fungal Wall to the north of Assassin’s Redoubt. If that were true then they would likely try to expand south quickly and gain a foothold on the Emerald Isle as this rather isolated and small continent had been named. His men had to reconnoiter the area and determine if the massive spread of fungus had indeed been breached and if so to survey any Hive presence. Facing the prospect of a laborious search of the fungal barrier was daunting enough but with the added prospect of some advance troops of ‘The Crackpot Chairman’ around, well it was enough to make a man ill! Captain Mizuno knew his duty however. If the other three commanders of the XForce could explore and map the other compass points away from Sparta Command, then he would certainly not fail to do the same in the North.


    *Whhrrrrr, whrrrrrrrr, whrrrrrrrr* “I’m sorry sir, but we are just plain stuck. This sand doesn’t allow our Recon Rover to get good traction and the rocks just jamb in the maneuvering joints. I’m afraid we’re going to have to push.... again.”

    “Very well. Let’s get on with it,” replied Captain ‘Paco’ Elyias. ‘When will we leave these blasted Dunes!’ he cursed to himself. His command had left Janissary Rock over three weeks ago and since they entered the Dunes two weeks ago they had only covered 40 clicks. Santiago herself had planned this expedition and he had leapt at the chance to impress her. Though the XForce was a team, each commander wanted to outdo the other three, naturally enough, and this was a superb chance to do just that. After the debacle with Commissioner Lal’s attaché, he certainly needed to shine!


    “Come to heading 2-4-2, all ahead flank,” said Captain Shetal Patel. “Heading 2-4-2, Aye Captain,” repeated the helmsman. “Nothing on the scanner, Ma’am,” stated the radar operator. “XO, you have the conn, I’ll be in my quarters,” spoke the Captain.


    “Captain’s log, new entry,” spoke Captain Patel, as the databank began to record her speech. “Today we have reached the Chiron equivalent of the equator, or at least a point at which the geomagnetic stresses are equalized. We are approximately 400 kilometers from the southernmost Spartan holding, Admiralty Base”

    “Over the past month we have extended the known world by several thousand nautical square miles. The prototype hydrofoil has exceeded all performance expectations. We have uncovered several small islands, one of which has an extremely large, extremely active volcano, dubbed ‘Mount Planet’ by First Mate Hidalgo. Additionally we found one medium sized continent with a thick jungle and highly active native life forms. There appeared to be signs of human habitation, but we found no living inhabitants. My current working theory is that the area was overrun by mindworms, given no obvious sign of military attack.”

    “Unfortunately, it appears that at least some of the other human groups on Planet have developed a sea-going capability. One week ago, we picked up a transient contact at the edge of our radar. We were unable to obtain a lock however. In the future, our operations crew may be able to uniquely identify another vessel if we can acquire a sonic signature of the ship. As such this has become a secondary objective of this voyage. Captain Shetal Patel, Log Entry End.”


    “Private,” yelled Captain Wells, “find a viable transmission spot and get this message back to Sparta Command. We are under heavy artillery attack 14 clicks south-southwest of Fort Superiority. The Hive has unveiled some new type of long-range tactical missile. Position untenable, pulling back due south to lead the enemy away from Fort Superiority. Requesting immediate air cover.”

    As the private left to send the message ‘Gung-Ho’ Wells evaluated his options. They were not that many. He had a single functioning Recon Rover, two squads of impact troops – only half of which were unharmed and a couple of elite marines. Fortunately, his marines carried the Mark V Gatling Cannons. Unfortunately, they were a bit short on ammunition.

    His forces had been on a routine patrol when they had found a new river and decided to follow it and perhaps scout a new base location. As they topped climbed out of the gully, a massive explosion had broadsided them. At first, the Captain thought the rover’s batteries exploded, just as his other rover had several weeks ago. Then he saw the exhaust of a rocket coming towards their location. He had given the scatter order to avoid any more casualties, but now his troops were isolated and sitting ducks.

    He tapped his commlink twice in rapid succession to indicate fallback and then spoke, “to the twin hills south of here.” As he watched his men slowly begin to make their way to the regroup point indicated he noticed one of the Marines slog through the riverbed to the north. He opened a private channel, “Son, you having a bit of directional trouble?”

    “No sir! The safety of the unit is more important than one man Sir!” came the reply.

    “Soldier, I appreciate your effort but I gave an order.”

    “Sir yes Sir!” and the Marine continued northward.

    Wells thought to himself, ‘Dammit, that kid is gonna get his head blown off, but you gotta admire his spirit.’ The Hive missile battery tracked the lone soldier but couldn’t seem to get a lock on him, probably since the Marine was keeping low and half-swimming, half-running through the river. ‘He just might do it, and it will definitely buy the rest of us some time to take cover.’

    Just then, a second unit appeared over the rise to the north. The blood drained from his face as Wells saw the blue pennant of the Hive flying from it’s standard. ‘If some air support doesn’t get here soon, XForce may just have lost one-fourth of its team,’ he thought gravely.
    [This message has been edited by spartan_chronicles (edited September 30, 1999).]

  • #2
    Fort Superiority

    "Scramble, Scramble. Pinwheel Four and Thrasher Seven, I say again, Scramble. Will brief you when airborne. Head due South 14 clicks. Go, Go, Go. Pinwheel Four and Thrasher Seven. Go."

    Flight Lieutenant Alex "Dusty" Rhodes snapped to attention as the intercom blared over the messhall at the Fort Superiority airbase. He was playing cards with his buddies, and had just been dealt a pair of Kings and a pair of tens. Blast. This would have to happen when he had an almost certain winning hand. He was Pinwheel Four's pilot, and crew commander. As he rose and grabbed his jacket and helmet, he saw Katy Springer, his Munitions Officer running from the canteen area, with her gear in hand. "Let's go, D", she yelled at him. "Where's Morris?"

    "Dunno", Dusty replied hurrying to keep up with Katy. Morris was their Ops 0fficer, responsible for navigation and radar ops.

    As they exited the mess building, they saw Pete Morris jogging over to their penetrator needlejet, where the mechanic had already fired up the auxiliary engines to get the systems on stream. They caught up with him.


    Over in the rec commons Lisa cursed under her breath. She had just worked out what was a promising combination to capture Octavio's third upper remaining bishop and top level single knight as well as putting incredible pressure on the level 5 queen when the scramble alert intruded.

    "Let's get going", she said to her opponent, Octavio Rodriguez, who was her Ops officer in the tactical needlejet she commanded. She deactivated the 3Dholo chess game they were playing. No point in saving that. She'd never remember the move when she returned.

    "Sir, yes Sir", the vet replied. They were a good team, Lisa and Octavio. Lisa Mayberry, newly promoted to Flying Officer, this her first command, having come through the flight school with the highest marks ever recorded for Interceptor trainees. And Octavio, who had been a rookie Ops officer in the very first aerial engagement fought by the Spartans when they sent their prototype needlejet into action. Octavio was old enough to be her father, and so took a great delight in playing the 'loyal subordinate' role.

    They grabbed their gear from the pegs by the rec room door, and just shook their heads to the enquiring looks they got from the other denizens of the commons. "Don't know anymore than you", she said " you heard the same message we did."

    'Sparky' Thompson, their mechanic, had the canopy open and the starter unit connected. It was one of the older tacticals, with missile weaponry. The newer machines with their chaos armaments were just coming on stream, but the vets were getting these.

    Lisa looked across the dispersal ground to see if she could pick up Pinwheel Four - she assumed she'd be flying cover for the Penetrator. She picked it out at the end of the line, and saw that their crew was just boarding. A faint tinge of jealousy crept over her as she saw that Pinwheel Four was itself one of the newer needlejets, with fusion powered engines. Her relic was still fission powered, as the need to upgrade and replace had not been severe.

    "Maybe this scare, whatever it is, will get us upgraded to fusion power", said Octavio, as if reading her mind. He was good at that, Lisa thought. Often he anticipated her command or manoeuver before she verbalized it. 'Probably comes with being a vet', she thought, 'He's probably seen nothing new for a few years.'


    The two planes fired up their engines and taxied to the runway, wheeling from the taxi strip and accelerating into the take-off run in one co-ordinated fluid motion.

    "Come in Thrasher" squawked her headset as Lisa strained to match the rising speed of the larger penetrator.

    "Acknowledged, Pinwheel, Thrasher here", she replied.

    "Let's see what they have for us", Dusty said.

    Command came on line.

    Fourteen clicks south, units under fire. Reconnaissance patrol strayed too close to a Hive location and they opened fire on us. Lost a rover, and have some assets trapped there. See what you can do to take out the threat or lay down some fire for them to effect a getaway. Codename is 'Buzzard'. Take care, missiles reported. Use counters as needed. Out"

    "Got that, Thrasher?" asked Dusty.

    "Roger that", said Lisa.

    "Take up position one click above and 300 meters behind at 5 o'clock", said Dusty. Although the Chiron clock bore no resemblance to that of old earth, Dusty chuckled to think how nomenclature in the military kept to the old Terran traditions.

    Lisa engaged the afterburners for a spell as the tactical needlejet rose above the penetrator, and dropped slightly astern. She was aware from the readouts that Octavio had armed the primary missiles and readied the weapons array for instant deployment. She also knew that he was commlinking with Pete Morris directly on how to deal with any threat that might materialize.


    Morris scanned his consoles, looking for information that could help them. He activated the deep tracking radar, and watched its simulated sweep across her screen. He didn't expect any Hive aircraft activity this far from any of their bases, but one never knew.

    "Reaching target location." Dusty said. "Going on a flypast for a looksee. Stay high," he told Lisa.

    "Muzzle flashes, one o'clock," said Pete. "Not ours"

    Dusty swiveled his head, and picked them out.

    "I see two units. How close to our guys." He asked. "Can you tell. Can you raise them?"

    "Don't know", said Pete. "I've been trying from about four clicks back. We should be in range now. Hive must be using comm jammers on our guys".

    "Broadcast to ours, secure channel, that we're going in. If they pick us up, they'll take cover. If not, then they'll hear or see us anyway", said Dusty.

    Just then Lisa chimed in. "Dusty, let me do a fast low flyby that'll alert our guys that we're here. You come in fast on my tail maybe 30 seconds later and take out their arty. 30 seconds will be enough time for our guys to duck."

    "Roger that, Go" said Dusty. 'This kid has balls', he thought. First mission and wants to tempt missiles, small arms fire, AAA and goodness knows what.'

    He felt the penetrator flutter as the fringe of the shockwave caressed it, and gaped slack-jawed as the little tactical needlejet went through the sound barrier on its plunge to the engagement area.

    "Sweet Chiron" he exclaimed, "these old buckets aren't meant for FTS. She'll get herself killed. But we need to follow."

    He banked and dove, picking up speed, as Katy readied the munitions pods.


    Lisa wrestled with the stick, trying to maintain control as she flattened out of the dive about 100 meters above the ground. Octavio was grim beside her. He knew the service record of this needlejet, and didn't fancy prolonged faster than sound flight.

    They roared over the positions of the Spartan units, and came to the Hive battery. They noted grimly that there were two units who seemed to be pinning "Gung Ho's" men down.

    Lisa was pulling the nose up to lose speed, and as the speed abated, suddenly stood the needlejet on its tail, bleeding momentum. Ahead, the arc of a missile's path could clearly be seen probing the sky where the Flasher would have been had it continued on it earlier path.

    "Paint 'em" she said, but again was amazed at how Octavio anticipated her. The laser beams from two needlejet ancillary electronics weapons pods shot out, wavering slightly as Octavio fought the shudder and compensated for the sudden loss of speed.

    "Locked on", he shouted, "let's go".

    Lisa engaged the afterburners as the needlejet rose vertically, fighting gravity, maintaining the laser locks on the targets.

    Katy huddled over her console as Dusty brought the Penetrator in a straight line.

    "Steady", she said, then triumphantly "Target acquired two of them". She did a hasty recalculation, fingers flying over the keyboard, then sank back triumphantly.

    "Gone", she said simply.

    The twin Stinger missiles leapt from the pods, their target acquisition system unerringly locking on to the laser paint on each of the batteries superstructures.

    Twin detonations rocked the ground as the missiles took out the artillery batteries.

    Dusty commlinked the command center. "Buzzard successful. Threat removed," he said. "Orders?"

    "Pinwheel Four return to base. Flasher Seven, CAP until the evac unit gets in to get Wells and his men out, then return. Deal with any threat as appropriate."

    "Roger that", both Dusty and Lisa said in unison.

    Dusty laid the wing over to return to base.

    Lisa pulled out of her climb at ten thousand meters, and began a lazy figure of eight over the engagement area while she waited for the choppers to arrive and evacuate the stranded troops.
    [This message has been edited by spartan_chronicles (edited September 30, 1999).]


    • #3
      Personal Entry: 7.11.2225

      This looks like it will be the begiining of a new chapter in my life, so I will record my impressions (and maybe someday write a book - who knows?)


      I watched with morbid fascination as the trooper held his forearm over the flame of the candle.

      He was humming softly to himself, continuously, in a drone monotone, just below middle C. His eyes had a glazed look, and the beginnings of a tear welled up in each.

      The smell of burning flesh pervaded the room. This was the third exhibit to us rookies. Oh, we knew that the flesh would be regenerated and the skin would heal, but at this point in time the pain must be incredible.

      The scorched flesh on the arm continued to singe, revealing some bone beginning to appear.

      The two minutes passed.

      Rynn blew a piercing whistle, and the trooper jerked his arm away from the flame. "Holy Chiron", he exclaimed, gazing in unbelief at his charred forearm. "That hurts."

      "Medic", said Rynn.

      The bored orderly who was standing by sprayed antiseptic over the burnt flesh from a canister, then slapped a bio medpack on the arm. He finished by spraying from another canister, which congealed and hardened to form a thin silksteel cast over the arm. The hand would still be operational during regeneration - Rynn was careful not to let tendons get severed. Singed, maybe, but not decommissioned.

      "Show's over", she said. "Let's move it."

      I hustled out with the other four recruits wondering just what I had gotten myself into.


      My name is Miles Cavenagh, and I am 19 Chiron years old - about 21 of the old Earth years. I have just joined the newly formed Spartan Psi Corps, headed up by Major Ann Rynn. Our mission is to garrison our bases with elite troops who will be largely immune to the attacks of the local mindworms, and we are experimenting with various ways of keeping our sanity during the mindworm attacks.

      Spartan scientists have deduced, from their work into the secrets of the human brain, that certain types of induced hypnosis could provide a credible defense against psi attacks, and we are testing these theories.

      I was selected for the Psi Corps, or Empath squad as it is loosely referred to, because I survived a mindworm attack as a boy outside my home base, going so far as to severly cripple the mindworm which was captured by a special units operative shortly afterwards. The scientists thought me some sort of prodigy, and interrogated me for hours on what I did, thought, felt said, during the encounter.

      If truth be known, I don't remember much of it.

      It was about two years ago, and I had finished a shift in the forest we were cultivating just a couple of clicks to the north of Assassin's Redoubt, my home base. The area I was working abutted an untamed field of fungus, but was beautiful, on a slight incline with a view over the ocean.

      I was daydreaming, thinking about Lisa, a girl I'd met at the intercollege games that summer. She was from Janissary Rock, and was utterly beautiful. She wanted to be a pilot in the emerging airforce, and I was envious of her combination of beauty, brains and athletic prowess. (Her dream did come true.)

      Anyway, I was lying propped up against a trunk, daydreaming of what it would be like to have Lisa in my arms, when the mindworm struck.

      I had heard the rustling among the fungus, but hadn't paid much attention. It coiled, and sprang for my head. I could sense its power, trying to induce me to panic, but in my lazy dreamy state, with my mind filled with images of Lisa, I swatted at it to knock it off, tearing a few of its tentacles from my skin. It flopped to the ground, and seemed to be marshalling its energy for another mind attack or physical attack.

      All the workers who were at the forest edge had been supplied with small shredder pistols for this very event, so I drew mine, and dreamily flamed off several of the larger tendrils, and shortened considerably most of the others. It shriveled into a tight ball, and rolled itself into the fungus.

      I had snapped out of my reverie by this time, so I ran into the base, and returned with one of the garrison troopers. He carried with him a burlap sack, and bundled the mindworm into it to return to the scientists at the base.

      So I became a sort of local celebrity, and got sent to Sparta Command for questioning by the research scientists. (And also met up again with Lisa who had just commenced her pilot's training, but that's another story.)

      Convinced that it was my daydreaming that had presented me with some defense, the scientists began their line of research into hypnotic trances, and formed the Psi Corps to see if this line of reasoning would bear fruit.

      It seemed to work reasonably well. Ann Rynn, a Captain in the 47th was transferred to command this embryonic unit, and naturally I was thought to be a worthwhile recruit.

      Which is how I came to be watching the gruesome exhibition of how hypnotic trance can block out physical pain. But is it effective against psi attacks?

      That's what I was going to be a guinea pig for.

      Miles Cavenagh
      [This message has been edited by spartan_chronicles (edited September 30, 1999).]


      • #4
        The Arzamas Forest
        04:15 hours Spartan Military Time (SMT)

        Captain Jake Lomaz impatiently gazed out into the misty, predawn depths of the forest. There were no signs of the enemy, but he knew they were out there, he knew their objective, and he had orders to stop them. Finally, he looked away; the sensor array would detect them long before he could see them. If there was one thing he hated about being a soldier it was times like this. Times when the only thing you could do was hurry up and wait. For the hundredth time he went through the mental checklist and for the hundredth time everything checked out. He climbed down from his perch and started looking over his men. His gaze slowly traveled over his Company, and they looked just as eager to fight as he was. Corporal Moss had a smile on his face and looked like he was ready to leave the security of the bunker and go hunt for them. Obviously, he hadn’t ever seen combat before. Sargent Rucker on the other hand was an old veteran and he wouldn’t leave the bunker unless ordered to and even then only grudgingly.

        “How ya feeling today boys? Do you feel mean?”
        “HUWAH!” Echoed through the bunker.
        “Who’s the best?”
        “We are, Sir!” The chant was loud and in perfect unison.
        “Who’s the best?”
        “We are, Sir!” Even louder.
        “Who’s the best?”
        “We are, Sir! Alpha! Alpha! Alpha! HUWAHHHHH!” They had even started banging the butts of their rifles on the floor. There wasn’t any need to check things again; all he needed was the enemy.

        Deep inside Captain Lomaz knew that part of the reason he was so ready to fight was to wipe the smirk off Colonel Lockhart’s face. At the briefing, Brevet General Lockhart boasted that his newly formed 469th could take Worm City without any support at all. In last year’s exercises, it took three armored divisions with heavy support to break into Worm City. One measly division wasn’t going to crack these defenses. The 469th would have to get through two divisions firmly entrenched in bunkers. Then General Tucker and an entire armored division stationed at Worm City that could provide mobile support if needed. Alpha Company was the best company in the Second Infantry Division, and Captain Lomaz was going to prove that they were the best. Nothing better than making an ego maniac look like a fool.

        04:40 hours SMT

        Alpha Prime was just begining to rise above the horizon outside of Worm City. A low rumble echoed across the flat arid expanses. The rumble grew louder and then drop pods slowed the rapid decent of the 469th. It looked like an early morning meteor shower, and it was the dawn of a new era of warfare. In a matter of minutes, troops covered the ground and they were rapidly organizing. Before Worm City even knew had happened, the streets were teaming with troops from the 469th. General Tucker’s men were completely caught off guard, very few at all made it to their rovers. The defenders never had a chance, and in a rare occurrence (especially considering it was a training exercise), many dazed Spartan troops surrendered. With such light resistance, Lieutenant Erik “Da Lizard” DeLyle led his platoon in a near sprint to the command Villa, where General Tucker had his headquarters set up. A few of his men got hit by the training rifles and they immediately dropped as all the joints in their combat simulator suits froze up. However they didn’t fire back and just kept on sprinting to the command villa.

        05:05 hours SMT

        General Tucker like usual was having his after breakfast tea. He was looking forward to how the day would unfold. Brevet General Lockhart had side that by the end of the day, he would be in control of Worm City. This was obviously quite nonsense, but Lockhart had always managed to produce results in the past. There was still no report of contact with the 469th and the Second Infantry Division would give them hell. Somehow Lockhart would try to bypass the defenders but the bunkers guarded a narrow isthmus. There was no way they could bypass the bunkers, and there was no way they could blast through them either. Such foolishness would probably damage his career. Suddenly shots pierced the quite morning and the sound of a small skirmish interrupted the General’s tea.

        “Major what the hell is going on here?” Furious and confused, Tucker felt a deepening sense of dread. This was impossible. Before the Major could even respond the door-busted open and troops from the 469th rushed in.

        “How did you get in here?!” The general didn’t even make a move to defend himself, but Major Willis jumped and hit the alarm. Suddenly a klaxon deafened the entire base with its wail. Nearly every single soldier in the room opened fire and dropped him.

        “General Tucker, I hereby order your arrest and demand your surrender.” Comaadned Lieutenant DeLyle. Two soldiers moved to the dumbfounded general and put him in restraints. Moments later the klaxon stopped, and a horn sounded the end of the exercise. A few proud soldiers took down the Worm City Training Area Defense Force HQ sign outside of the headquarters and put up their own sign that read.

        Courtesy of the 469th Airborne Division

        Colonel Thomilson, the XO of the 469th saw the sign and smiled to himself. Training was over. They were ready. Each and every single one of them were ready, but as Thomilson reflected, not every single attack would be this successful. Most of them wouldn’t make it back from the front alive, and Thomilson smiled to himself. Disipline, Sacrifice, Victory. That was the spirit of the Spartan soldier.

        05:20 SMT

        Back in the plasmacrete walls of the bunker the Objective Alert alarm sounded. It pronounced that Worm City itself was under attack.

        Captain Lomez looked at the screen wondering what could be happening.
        “Huh? Commtech get me a fix on the location of that signal.” Captain Lomez wondered if the commlink frequency was compromised. Then suddenly the alarm stopped, obviously it was a malfunction, but the adrenaline rush had already started kicking in. As Captain Lomez turned away from the commlink another loud noise pierced the early morning calm. This noise pronounced defeat for Captain Lomez and the rest of Alpha Company.
        [This message has been edited by spartan_chronicles (edited September 30, 1999).]


        • #5


          TO: Corazon Santiago, Commander in Chief, Spartan Federation
          FROM: Major Ann Rynn, Psi Corps Commanding Officer
          SUBJECT: Empath Attack Strategies

          Captured Hive interrogation footage of Believer military personnel has shown that their unshakable conviction in the superiority of their belief system translated into a perceptible military advantage. Hive field commanders reported that Believer military forces attacked with great vigor and in all instances inflicted more causulties than expected.

          Hive military anthropologist studied the True Believer society and reached the following conclusions:
          • During the attack they reinforce this belief system with aggressive militaristic music and prayers led by religious leaders attached to each unit.
          • They undergo sleep conditioning with implanted dream sequences that generate feelings of invincibility and heroic strength and endurance.
          • There are various scriptures in the Conclave Bible proclaiming that God will aid and protect his servants, giving them strength on the battlefield.
          • True Believer society conditions its populace from the time they are born to believe, worship, and fear their God. Any secular advancement that threatens their status quo is declared evil, and this lifelong process of mental conditioning has had remarkable results.

          Spartan researchers belive that a life-long process of conditioning could help natural empaths achieve great power. In particular sleep conditioning could greatly strengthen the power of forces in psi combat. I request the allocation of additional funding to this line of research and appointment of one or two of our up and coming scientists to develop these theories into a secret project code named “The Dream Twister”

          Filed # 771-ES-2225
          [This message has been edited by spartan_chronicles (edited September 30, 1999).]


          • #6
            Fort Superiority

            Wing Commander Scott "Googlie" Allardyce sat behind his desk at Air Force Field HQ at Fort Superiority, and reflected with pleasure that his lads - and lassies - had done the job again. He had flown into Fort Superiority during the night from SAC HQ in Sparta Command to be on top of all the action. Operation Buzzard was a success. But he would need to relieve young Lisa Mayberry - with her older needlejet she couldn't hang around for very long.

            Who was on standby?

            He reached over to the console and flicked it on, selecting 'Crews'

            The Spartan Air Force was small, but efficient. As newer aircraft appeared on bases from the production lines, older ones were recycled for other military operations. The original prototypes were given over to the expeditionary forces for their inevitable modifications to support special operations, and the older fission powered needlejets were being modified as ground support craft for the Rolling Thunder Brigade as newer fusion powered units became available.

            Only three fission jets remained in service with SAF, the one allocated to Lisa, one flown by Julia Santiago - a niece of the CinC - and one that was used for training. All five penetrators were now fusion powered, as were the remaining six tactical interceptors.

            He scanned the list of crew, looking at the Interceptor crews, as one of them would be the most logical to spell Lisa. His assets were somewhat dispersed, as each of the larger bases warranted an interceptor on alert, and the governors of the smaller bases were screaming for coverage as well. ('Let them build them, then,' Googlie had snorted, when their requests had filtered through to his desk.)

            Squadron Leader Ben 'Slats' Miller, although the ranking Interceptor commander, was too far away, at War Outpost to be of much use. He had the most experience of any of the pilots, and had teamed with Wilma Statham for almost all his flights. Googlie considered them his Elite crew, and they were granted the callsign Indigo One, with the I - series denoting the new Interceptor designation. But, too far away.

            Indigo Two was his own brainwave, a team of two lassies, as unlike each other as chalk and cheese. Jill Hughes, a Captain, was the Flying Officer, and she was flamboyant, extrovert, charismatic, and exuded sexuality. Sandra Keen, her Ops Officer, was the reverse. Shy, withdrawn, introvert, somewhat mousy, but absolutely brilliant in all three roles that were demanded of an Ops Officer - navigator, engineer and weapons officer. Googlie saw them as a commando team, long on experience and very inventive when tackling solo assignments. But they were stood down at present while their Gattling Lasers were being replaced by the new Chaos weaponry being fitted to their Interceptor.

            Indigo Three and Four were again too far away to be of use. Three was crewed by Rudi Gertz, the Flying Officer and Luigi Cerintola as his Ops officer, while Four had Pedro Martinez flying and Paul Sturgeon as Ops Officer.

            That left only two. There was no Indigo Five, as that slot was taken by Thrasher Five, one of the older fission needlejets, and as was the custom had been given to one of the recruits from the Academy as her first command. This was Julia Santiago craft, and her Ops Officer was an older vet, Alan Watt. Julia was currently at Fort Superiority as she and Lisa had flown down from Sparta Command after their induction. She was a possibility, although Googlie saw from the screen that Alan, her Ops Officer, had been given two days off to attend to some family business as this was his home base.

            Indigo Six was the other possibility. It was commanded by Dexter Patterson, the third of this years crop of rookies. And while his scores had not been as high as Lisa's or Julia's, Googlie had decided to give Dexter the new fusion Interceptor as his command rather than either of the others. Dexter had exhibited an unusual gift, as had Tricia van Impe, his Ops Officer, a veteran who had flow with Googlie himself. These two rarely communicated via commlink in their needlejet - they seemed to have an empathy bond that each knew instinctively what the other was thinking. Such talent would be wasted on a soon to be obsolete machine, so he had allocated one of the new Interceptors that came off the production line. His old Thrasher still sat on the Apron at Sparta Command's aerospace center, not yet transferred over to another unit of the military.

            With their increased range, Dexter was a viable option. But Googlie had a mind to send him to the southern coast to Admiralty Base to see if there was anything behind these sightings of naval activity that had been reported from the expeditionary force's Captain Patel.

            That left only Julia, but with no Ops Officer. 'Well,' thought Googlie, 'it's time I got a few more hours logged. I'll crew for her. Give me something to talk to Corazon about at the next officers reception'.

            He grabbed his flying gear and commlinked Julia.
            [This message has been edited by spartan_chronicles (edited September 30, 1999).]


            • #7
              Tape 17/ © MorganLink 3DVision

              Good evening.

              "I'm Paula Forbes bringing you this evening's headline news.

              "Our top story is the resumption of hostilities between troops of The Spartan Federation and The Hive. Spartan reconnoitering forces encountered Hive units which opened fire, destroying some Spartan vehicles and causing their troops to take cover. An air strike was called in which resulted in the total destruction of two Hive missile units that were involved in the altercation.

              "We are going live to our correspondent in Fort Superiority, SF, Justin Holmes, who has just finished speaking with one of the Spartan needlejet commanders.

              "Justin, what was the nature of the threat the Spartans were facing?

              "Well, Paula, as you can imagine the Commander was pretty tight lipped. Apparently one of their reconnaissance teams came under fire from Hive batteries and had to take cover. The Air Force was called in and the threat was neutralized. The Spartan units are, however, without transportation as their rovers were destroyed, and currently the Air Force is flying patrols to allow the evacuation team to get the troops out of their location.

              "Justin, did he say if there were any other Hive units in the vicinity?

              "No, Paula, he didn't say. He did say that all leave had been cancelled and that all Spartan forces were increasing their readiness.

              "So was this skirmish localized, or did the pilot offer any insights into how widespread it might be?

              "No, Paula, as I said he was pretty tight lipped. I had the impression that he could have bitten off his tongue after he revealed their heightened state of readiness.

              "Thank you, Justin.

              "As The Hive is a loyal ally of the Morgan Corporation, we will be bringing you a report from our correspondent in Workers Nest on our late night news. Let us hope that this skirmish does not represent the reopening of hostilites on a grander scale that might drag us into conflict.

              Now for our other news………………………….


              • #8

                Date and Origin Censored, Spartan Military Command, by order Major Buehle, SMI/CS/44.17

                Dearest Lisa,

                It was good to get your note over the secure comm, and yes, I miss you too.

                I'm glad you saw your first action, and piecing the parts together (we pick up the Morgan news at the training center) I gather you were one of the pilots that went after ***.***.*** Well done.

                Training is going apace here. Not as exciting as you being in action, but yet we feel that in our own way we are contributing to pushing forwards the boundaries of science.

                Yesterday we started our trance training. The experiments they have been conducting on us all started from my experiences with yon mindworm when I was dreaming of you (yes :: you were the inspiration for my successful fending off of the attack - but I told you that when we were together at Spartan Command, so this isn't news to you).

                But you are still my inspiration. At the training, they tell us to focus our thoughts and minds on the most pleasurable experience we have ever had, while they use the Sechelt-Haskins laser technique to hypnotize us. It's easy for me - I just relive that night we spent together after the holotheatre sensory and the rec commons jig.

                Anyway, the training is now concentrating on us being able to induce the trance ourselves, which is a lot harder. The triggers are different for each of us, so it's not as if one of us can snap our fingers or whatever and we all fall down. It's early days yet, but it seems that the trigger is whatever we were physically doing when the Sechelt-Haskins trance first took effect.

                I know you will laugh, but I was actually picking my nose, so now when I want to self induce, I think of us that night, pick my nose, and whoosh, I'm gone. One guy in our team, Garth, has a gingivitis fetish, and was surreptitiously brushing his teeth when the trance took, so he is undergoing some reprogramming right now. I mean, can you imagine him going into battle with the mindworms carrying his flamer, shredder and toothbrush? Too funny for words.

                We are having difficulty as well controlling how long we are in trance. For me, it's usually about 15 minutes (does that ring a bell!!), but one gal, Sarah, was over three hours. They had to do a recidivist Sechelt-Haskins on her to bring her out of it.

                They are making a huge assumption that mental pain equates to physical pain, and as the techniques have been successful in letting us build neural clamps to block pain that they will also block psi-pain. Tomorrow is the big test for us all.

                Well, sweetheart, I don't know how much of this will reach you. I've coded it using our third level code, but I'm sure if the action with the other faction is heating up that the censors will be active.

                Anyway, love you, and can't wait 'till our next R & R together.



                Major Ann Rynn entered the secure viewing room. One window was complete glass - two way so that the room occupants could both see and be seen. The glass was reinforced with silksteel fibers woven into the glass molecules so that it gave a slightly shaded appearance.

                The room she was viewing was a specially constructed training room, with plasteel armor shielding and no external windows. Two doors led into it, one at either end.

                At Ann's command, one opened and four young trainees, looking somewhat sheepish, but very apprehensive, entered. Miles, Garth, Sarah and Todd, the fourth trainee.

                "Spread out", Ann commanded over the speaker. "Don't give it too easy a target."

                The four trainees scattered to the four corners.

                Ann chimed in again. "Remember, you have your choice. You can go into trance now, before we release the Mindworm, or you can wait until you think you are about to break before trancing, if you are confident of doing it under tension. Eventually we will all be able to delay as we gain experience, but I want each of you to experience victory, so do what you need to do to win".

                Ann switched off the intercom and turned to the young trainer beside her.

                "Voki", she asked, "you're absolutely sure that this one can't lay larvae? We don't want to kill it, but if one of my trainees is threatened…..” She let the unfinished sentence speak for itself.

                "Sure", said Voki. "It's sterile".

                "OK", said Ann, "Let 'er go".

                The other door opened, and a sack was tossed into the room. The sack bunched and bulged, then out of its opening skittered a mindworm. It was huge, with what seemed thousands of the ten to fifteen centimeter individual tendrils making up its mass. If it could, it would have glared malevolently at the four trainees.

                The four recruits leapt back. Three had never seen a live mindworm before - only Miles had - and even he was surprised at how large it was, compared to his memories.

                The mindworm lashed out with a bolt of psi-energy that pierced right to the very center of the mind. Todd screamed, and Ann noted reflectively that both Sarah and Todd were frantically trying to induce the trance. Todd was succeeding, and gradually calmed down, but either Sarah's power of inducement was weak, or the mindworm was focusing more on her than the others, but she was now writhing on the floor holding her hands over her ears.

                The mindworm began to move in for the kill.

                Ann was ready to activate the destruct sequence too save the trainee when she saw Miles move to put himself between the mindworm and the panicked trainee. Ann heard snatches of whispers, and turned the amplification up so that she and Voki could hear.

                "Come on Lisa, come to me. Come on Baby. You don't want him; it's me you want. Yeah baby, it's me"

                The mindworm seemed to bunch itself up and refocus and the mass perceptibly oriented towards Miles.

                "Yeah, that's it baby, come on now, I want you, come to me".

                Suddenly Miles stiffened, and Ann saw a dreamy look come over his face, accompanied with an almost idiotic grin. The mindworm coiled, as if to spring.

                Miles, still looking transfixed, suddenly said in his normal voice,

                "Garth, the sack, get the sack",

                Then began his cooing to the mindworm again.

                "Come and get it, baby. I've got what you want, come to me".

                Sarah had stopped her convulsions on the floor and was dragging herself to a corner, whimpering.

                Todd was comatose on another corner, staring glassy eyed at the tableau in front of him

                Garth moved cautiously towards the sack, one finger rubbing his two front teeth, never taking his eyes off the mindworm.

                Miles simulated pulling a flamer from his belt, pointed his finger at the mindworm, and said "Poof, poof, you're frazzled my pet", and turned to the glass and impudently grinned at Ann and Voki.

                Just then the mindworm sprang, aiming for Miles' head and shoulders. He ducked, and twisted away, leaving the mindworm to continue its launch to the space where he had been, but which was now occupied by the open mouth of the sack that Garth was holding.

                With one deft move Garth twisted the neck of the sack and secured its seal. Early experimentation had shown that the mindworms were largely ineffective in complete darkness, and more so when contained in armor threaded sacks. Sensory deprivation, the scientists had reckoned.

                Ann was enthralled. There was so much to question the team about, but especially Miles.


                "So were you in the trance continuously?” Ann asked Miles.

                "Not really," he replied. "I found I could switch it on and off more or less at will".

                "When you asked Garth to get the sack, you looked deep in trance - it seemed that the mindworm was focusing its attack on you, and yet you managed to communicate with Garth. How?” she asked.

                "I'm not really sure," he replied. "It was as if I could compartmentalize my feelings - be aware of the mindworm's attack and at the same time plan and communicate a strategy to defeat it. Sarah's acting job was very convincing as well."

                "You mean that Sarah's panicking was simulated?” asked Ann incredulously.

                "Not exactly, " Sarah said sheepishly. My head was screaming, and even although I finally got myself into a trance it was hard going."

                "But why?” asked Ann.

                "Oh, it was Miles idea", said Todd. He reckoned that the mindworm could probably sense if people were panicking, or confident, or confused, so dreamed up - well that's probably an inappropriate word - came up with this plan to give the mindworm what it wanted while we put the other pieces of the plan together."

                "He almost lost me, though. “ Garth interrupted. "I was deep into the trance, and mentally was feeling for my flame gun, confused because I couldn't find it. When Miles spoke, it brought me out enough that I could carry out the plan."

                Ann looked at Miles with a new appreciation.

                "And who is Lisa?" she asked.

                Miles colored. "Oh, she's my trance inducer," he said. "I imagined that the mindworm was her. When it began its attack on me I was able to switch in and out of the trance at will, because it was acting so out of character."


                Voki had left with the sack containing the mindworm.

                Ann was chatting with Bonaventura, the young scientist assigned to the team.

                "I want to raise their defenses", he said. "They have demonstrated that there is strength in numbers. Against such abominations, we must organize our defenses on the principle that one strong and able mind can shield the many. I think Miles Cavenagh has that mind. I would like you to prepare them for Neural Grafting. And you, too, if you are to command them."

                Ann shuddered.

                'Neural Grafting', she thought. It sounded horrible.


                • #9

                  TO: Field Marshal Gavin Burge
                  FROM: Wing Commander Scott Allardyce
                  RE: Ian Allardyce
                  STATUS: PERSONAL


                  Just heard that my boy, Ian, who has just graduated from the Military Academy at Assassins Redoubt, has been posted to your 47th.

                  Don't show him any favors, but treat him fairly.

                  He's a bit of a ladies man (takes after his old man, no doubt), so if you have any platoons commanded by a strong lassie who could knock sense into him, he would benefit from learning some humility!

                  I believe it's my turn to buy at the next Officers' Dinner, and I've been able to get a bottle of good vodka from Gecko, so we'll hang one on.




                  • #10

                    As the reverberations from the explosions subsided, ‘Gung-Ho’ Wells risked a quick look over the ridge top. Apart from a lot of smoke, he couldn’t see a darn thing. He felt another shock wave hit and was about to order his men to dive for cover again, but then he saw the Spartan Penetrator do two quick barrel-rolls as it pass overhead. ‘Damn air jockeys and their freakin’ sonic booms,’ he cursed to himself. Though he didn’t really mean it, after all those pilots just pulled the collective nuts of his unit out the fire.

                    “Ensign Johnson, do you pick up anything out there?” Wells said to the man with the field sensor.

                    “Negative sir,” came the reply.

                    “All right, let’s go find that kid’s body and at least give him a burial. He sacrificed himself so we could get to cover. I’ll see that he receives the Spartan Medal for this.”

                    ‘Sir, yes Sir!” came the deafening response of the remainder of his unit.

                    “And someone figure out how the hell we’re gonna get back to base without a rover!”


                    Captain Patel stood at helm of her new hydrofoil and watched as the computers steadily recorded data about the massive mindworm boils careening around the abandoned settlement on-shore. ‘I hope this data is useful, these creatures give me the creeps!’ she thought to herself. Her reverie was about to be shattered.

                    “Conn-radar, I have a transient contact bearing 085 speed between 10 and 14 knots, distance 8000 meters and closing,” squared the intercom.

                    “Radar-conn, are they aware of us?” asked the Captain.

                    “Negative ma’am, or at least I don’t think so.”

                    “Alright. XO go to yellow alert.” Captain Shetal Patel pressed the button to relay her next statement to all stations. “Crew this is the Captain. We have an enemy contact. As per our secondary mission we are going to gather as much data about his contact as we can. Be prepared to go to battlestations.”

                    “XO, rig for ultra-quiet.”

                    “Rigging for ultra-quiet, aye-aye.” Executive Officer Eddy Ramirez sounded three short blasts over the internal communications, letting the crew know to secure all loose objects and tighten up anything that might make noise and therefore give away their presence.

                    “Navigation take us into that patch of sea fungus. I know it’s a risk with all the native activity, but it is the only way we can hide from the enemy radar.”

                    ‘And now we wait and watch,’ the Captain thought. She knew this was murder on the crew. Sitting here with their engines off, main weapons grid powered down and their only defense being their dubious position in the fungus. But she also knew that sea power was the means by which the Spartan’s could control Chiron. For them to control the seas however, they had to have hard data on just what they might face in battle. And so, Captain Shetal Patel and her crew...wait.


                    “Jesu Christo!” exlaimed the young ensign.

                    “Indeed,” replied ‘Paco’ Elyias. “This is certainly something interesting.”
                    Captain Elyias’ crew had finally been making some progress across the Dunes when they crested a particulalry tall dune and found them. ‘Them’ was a ring of the mysterious Monoliths that had been reported all over Chiron. Paco had seen holopics of these strange objects, but he was face-to-face with not one, but several. Or at least he would be face-to-face with them if it were not for the massive mindworm boils among the fungus interwoven between the Monoliths. Normally, one could not see a boil when it is in the fungus, but these boils towered over the native plants. Each one must have been over 30 feet wide.

                    Even more ominous was the wreckage clearly visible next to one of the Monoliths. It was the remains of a large troop transport and what appeared to be several supporting craft. The markings of the United Nations Peacekeeper’s was visible even from this distance.

                    “Strange that Lal’s people knew of this place and yet never reported it, nor shared their maps of this sector,” said Sargent Rufus.

                    “Not really Roof,” replied Elyias. “We may be allies, but they always try to barter their maps for our technology; besides a find of such archeological significance as this would surely be guarded with secrecy.”

                    At the same time Elyias thought to himself, ‘Hmmm, seems that beady-eyed little diplomat Lal sent over was holding out afterall. Perhaps I can still turn around that little incident.’

                    “Captain what shall we do?” inquired the navigation officer.

                    “Send a burst transmission back to Janissary Rock, to be relayed to Sparta Command. We cannot move in against those boils with the equipment we have here,” spoke the Captain. “In the meantime pull back to the last dune and secure a perimitter. And set up a monitoring unit to watch that ring. We may be here a while.”


                    • #11
                      Fort Superiority

                      I got the Wingco's commlink as I was washing my hair.

                      Activating the toggle, I said "Julia here, Sir."

                      "Need you to scramble", was the response. "I've left Thrasher Seven in a holding pattern over some of our boys, and need you to relieve her until Cory's Cab Crew get in to evac them."

                      "Sir," I responded, "I've no crew. Alan's off for two days. I can go solo, but its dangerous if we get any opposition."

                      "I know, and no need" was his laconic reply. "I'm your crew. Can you get us airborne in 15?"

                      "Yessir, cando," I barked, "see you at the plane".

                      Well, there were worse things than flying with wet hair.


                      I met him at the needlejet, as he was chatting to "Joker", my mechanic, who was overawed at the big man himself talking to him. I came up behind, and tapped Googlie on the shoulder.

                      "All set Number two?" I asked. I was going to enjoy this. While in the plane I was in command, and it would be fun to see how the Wingco reacted. 'Hell, I may even impress him', I thought, 'maybe even as much as that hotshot Dexter, or that slut, Lisa'. I knew what she and that trainee trooper had been up to in the holotheater - I was in the row behind. I had witnessed his hands everywhere, all over her body, and their kissing, tongues in each others mouths. And rumor was that they had spent the night together after the show in some sleazy motel on the strip. And how come she is first in line for the next Fusion Interceptor to be delivered? Because she always attends briefings with old Googlie with her buttons undone halfway down her shirt. That's how. And me, I was Miss High and Mighty Supreme Leader la de da Corazon Santiago's niece and mustn't be shown any favoritism on account of that. So I would fly the last Thrasher, be last to get the Gatling Lasers fitted, would have the oldest codger as crew (although if truth be known Alan was highly capable) and get all the clean up jobs to do. Like how come I wasn't asked to fly with the Pen on the mission. Oh yeah, Alan was on leave, so I'd be ruled out.

                      "Well?" the voice of Wing Commander Allardyce interrupted my reverie.

                      I snapped to attention.

                      "Let's board and get underway" I said.

                      We climbed in, and I fired up the fission engines. Joker disconnected the auxiliaries, closed the canopy and gave a thumbs up.

                      I taxied to the end of the runway, and accelerated smoothly into the air, retracting the landing gear at the recommended 200 meters, and generally doing everything by the book.

                      "Relax, Julia" came the voice in my earphones, ignore me and fly as you would normally. Pretend it's just Watt here behind you. Now set course due south and climb to ten thousand meters. I'll see if I can raise Lisa.

                      "Come in Thrasher seven," he said.

                      Lisa's voice rang sweetly over the commlink: "Thrasher Seven here, identify yourself"

                      "Thrasher Five here", I responded, but Googlie cut me off "Seven, what's the situation?"

                      Octavio's voice came over the ether:

                      "Googlie, I recognize you, you old fart. What the hell are you doing airborne. You don't trust us or summat?"

                      Allardyce forgave him the intimacy. In the air, flying as he was as crew, Googlie foreswore rank of any kind. Octavio, the old vet, knew this so was taking advantage of the situation.

                      "We're coming to relieve you on the CAP", said the Wingco, "Cory's Cab Crew are scattered and it's taking time for them to assemble an evac team. Lisa, what's the status"

                      "There's movement, all right." She said. "I can see our positions, and the two wrecks of the Hive batteries are still smoldering and clearly visible. There are another two battery units approaching Gung Ho's position. I don't think we'd be very effective against them. You'll see for youself. They are making great use of the terrain, using the fungus well, so it'd be really hard to paint them for Pen missiles, and our Gatling Lasers would be useless against them. Chaos guns might be better, but neither of us has them in these Tacs."

                      Octavio's voice came on, all business like:

                      "We've picked you up on our radar, Five, and you should be getting us now - about four clicks away".

                      Googlie's grunt indicated that indeed he had the signal.

                      Octavio continued "In two clicks you'll be passing directly overhead where we last saw the two fresh units. The're just between the fungus and that newly planted forest you'll be picking up soon".

                      "Affirmative" said Julie, "I see them." Or at least from that height she saw a small dust cloud as the units raced between patches of fungus.

                      Googlie came on: "OK Lisa and Octavio - you're relieved now. Return to base and get filled up. Standby in case Cory's held up and you need to spell us. Out".

                      "Roger that, Out", came from Thrasher Seven.


                      I watched the small needlejet waggle its wings as it sped past on its way back to base. Now the show was mine.

                      I set the autopilot to a lazy eight pattern, and got the binoculars out to scan the terrain below. Behind me Googlie was doing the same with his electronics.

                      "Number One, look over to 11 o'clock. What do you see there?"

                      I turned to the indicated quadrant, which was all fungus. From this height, it looked placid, but ripples could be seen as though a major windstorm was ruffling through it. But the pattern was wrong - localized, repetitive.

                      'Holy Chiron', I thought, 'It's not wind, it's soldiers causing that, probably a battalion or two, about two clicks behind the advancing missile units.'

                      "Enemy movement, sir," I replied. "Lots of them. I'm going lower for a closer look".

                      "And I'll activate a mobile sensor and paradrop it," said Googlie. "They know we're watching, so we're not giving anything away, and even if they capture and disable it, it will already have provided much information. You'll need to drop your speed to around 200 clicks for the drop, though".

                      'I know', I thought irritably. 'Doesn't he credit me with any sense at all?'

                      I cut out the autopilot and commenced a steep dive to the ground, keeping the angle just fine enough to prevent going fts. Although Lisa, Dexter and I had all done it in training with even older Thrashers, I didn't think it wise to test the CO's heart by taking him through the sound barrier without warning.

                      I swept around the advancing position and leveled off, to begin a run for the sensor drop.

                      We approached the position and I bled speed using full flaps, as though preparing for a landing. Googlie was busy arming the sensor, coding in instructions, and readying for the drop.

                      As we commenced the flyby at around 1000 meters, I opened the weapons pod doors and passed the activate sequence to Googlie, while I concentrated on the flying. He wanted to drop the sensor as close to the advancing units without it parachuting directly into their hands, so some spur-of-the-moment estimations were necessary as the force came into view.

                      There were two armed and armored rover battalions, supported by four marine squads, and….horrors, a missile battalion just behind them.

                      "They can hurt us," I said to Googlie. "Let's drop the sensor and get out of here."

                      "No, wait, keep the course," he said, "There's a small ridge coming up and I think I can place it on the ridge for maximum effect."

                      "Sir", I said, my voice rising, "With all due respect let's go. The missile battery is taking aim at us."

                      "Two more seconds", said Googlie, just as my instrument panel went berserk. The threat alarm sounded in our ears and the panel lit up with the warning from our threat detection radar: "Target seeking, target seeking, locking on, locking on, locked on." The audible alert droned. The flashing red changed to a continuous red and the 'locked on' message pulsed yellow.

                      "Fire", said Googlie as he activated the sensor ejection.

                      Behind us the parachute opened as the mobile sensor began its descent to the ridge we had just crossed.

                      Ahead of us the simultaneous launch of the anti-aircraft missile could clearly be seen, as could the missile itself, arcing towards us.

                      I turned on full power, retracting the flaps in one fluid motion, and set to climb, but afraid that we were too late.

                      We were.

                      The missile tore into the right wing of the needlejet, exploding and ripping half the wing off.

                      I fought the controls, but had lost all power to the flaps and control surfaces of the right wing. The aircraft was essentially unflyable, and already our climb was tapering off and the familiar bucking of a needlejet about to stall was beginning.

                      I made the decision. "Mayday, mayday, Thrasher Five down. Eject, Eject", and pulled the eject lever.

                      The canopy retention bolts blew jettisoning the canopy a mere second or so before the individual seat ejectors activated, as Googlie and I were catapulted into the air. 'I'll bet he hasn't done this in a long time', I thought as the chutes deployed and we drifted lazily to Planet's surface.


                      Lisa heard the mayday call as she was beginning her approach to Fort Superiority's main runway. She had no fuel left to turn and go back, and wasn't sure who Googlie had left back at the command center.

                      She activated an all commands call that would register with all Spartan military commands.

                      "Aircraft down, I repeat aircraft down approximately 15 kilometers south of Fort Superiority.

                      "Crew safely ejected. Rescue needed urgently.

                      "Crew consists of Wing Commander Allardyce and Flying Officer Santiago. I repeat, rescue needed urgently"


                      Dexter Patterson and Tricia van Impe picked up the call as they transited their aircraft to Admiralty Base, having received the orders before Googlie boarded Thrasher Five.

                      As he thought about turning round and going to fly cover for a rescue Tricia came on over the commlink:

                      "We have to, Dex. He's our CO and she's Corazon's niece. We're the only assets within reach at the present time"

                      Dexter swung the Interceptor around and made for the new co-ordinates that Tricia was feeding him.


                      • #12
                        "Shave our heads?"

                        Our Commanding Officer, Ann Rynn, and I asked at the same time.

                        "Yes, Sarah," the young scientist, Juan Bonaventura, told me. "You need to have your head shaved for us to attach the neural nodes and to insert the grafts. Your hair will grow again - in fact, we need it to grow again to cover the implants and the nodes. You'll be a luscious redhead again in no time".

                        I shuddered. I was proud of my hair, and constantly tested military regulations to keep it as long as allowed. Major Rynn, on the other hand, had less to lose, as she kept hers cropped short most of the time. But shaved?

                        We were gathered in the barracks briefing room at Sparta Command, the entire squad. Ann Rynn, our CO, the three vets and us four rookies. We were getting briefed on what was about to happen to us, what we would feel, the surgery procedures, and what changes we would experience as a result.

                        Bonaventura, the young research scientist who was making mindworms his specialty, was going to be present during the grafting process, and had undertaken to relieve the medics and the surgeon of the necessity of telling us what it was all about.

                        He continued:

                        "This new technology, Neural Grafting, is based on Secrets of the Human Brain, which, if you remember your schooling enabled us through our research into Biogenetics and Social Psych to answer the last of the great unanswered questions - what is the biological mechanism of self-awareness. We now have an understanding of the fundamentals of consciousness. We can now take that a stage further.

                        "Neural Grafting allows attachment of digital circuitry directly to the neural cortex, and with these implants humans can enhance many aspects of their physical being, from heightened sensory perception to faster reaction times, for example.

                        "In your case, where we have been studying your interactions for several weeks, we can provide enhance features or dampen features.

                        For example, Garth, you are a big man with rather slow motor skills. We will give you lightning fast reflexes. Todd, you have a low tolerance for pain. We will insert for you neural analgesic dampeners that you can activate at any time that will flood your system with painkillers, enabling you to function through excruciating pain.

                        "Miles, you have an overwhelming trance inducing talent. We will extract cells from your neural cortex and implant them in your teams', not that they will necessarily have your dream, but they will have your capacity for triggering the trance at will. Then we will enhance that for each of you.

                        "Any questions?"

                        The usual questions rang out - how long was the operation, how long would they be out of action, could more than one enhancement/damper be made, could sexual pleasure be enhanced etc. Juan Bonaventura patiently answered each one, then said, "Quit stalling, let's get these haircuts".

                        We filed through the ops room to the medical area, where we lined up to get our heads shaved. Mercifully, they didn't let us see ourselves in any mirrors, but judging from the catcalls and guffaws of my team, if I looked anything like them we were a pretty sight indeed.

                        We stripped and went through a sterilizing wash tank, and emerged shivering slightly at the other end, looking curiously at each others naked bodies, but totally devoid of any sexual undertones as white coated masked medics prepped us for the neural grafting procedures. We had a soft jelly vaseline analogue rubbed into our skulls to allow the nodes to bond, then we were led to the operating tables, arranged in a circle like spokes, with the heads almost touching. Each one was labeled with one of our names. We lay down on our assigned table, and were hooked in to the apparatus by one of the medics.

                        Juan Bonaventura spoke to us:

                        "You will remain semi-conscious during the operation. At certain times we will increase the dosage so that you will black out when particular incisions or implants are made. This is to stop you from thrashing about. But most of the time it will seem like you are dreaming. You will be able to hear us, and respond to our commands or suggestions, but you will be unable to initiate any actions of your own. Good luck, and I will see you soon".

                        With that he left our area of vision.

                        'Good luck' I thought. 'How revolutionary is this treatment that the designer wishes us good luck'

                        The medic pulled a sheath over my skull, with some holes cut out for me to see and breathe. It was bristling with nodes and connections, and as I looked over at the others, I could see external markings on the skullcap. As if reading my thoughts, the medic said "These caps are marked for ease of use by the surgeon, for where the needles will be inserted for the probes and for the implant areas."

                        "Ready?" asked the chief surgeon. The medics all replied "Ready Sir."

                        An automatic arm swiveled to my head, and a nozzle protruded, moving against my temple. I heard a slight "thoop" and felt a little jet of compressed air thump against my temple.


                        I floated among Chiron's clouds, and looking over at another cloud saw Ann lying there, naked, looking at me and smiling. There were angels fluttering around her, massaging her head and scalp, and she had a sort of halo of energy surrounding her that was sending little lancets of energy to her scalp.

                        I felt the angel hands massage my own scalp, and I closed my eyes to enjoy the sensation.

                        A sharp pain penetrated my consciousness, as if one of the old women at Assassins Redoubt had inserted her acupuncture needle into my neck. I dreamily heard a voice say: "sleep for a few minutes"...


                        My head hurt. I winced as I felt another lancet of pain just behind the right eyeball.

                        The disembodied voice said " If it hurts, just concentrate and think of…" I could sense the medic consulting the monitor, "… lemon flavored sorbet".

                        'Ah,' I thought, 'my favorite. How did they know?’ I thought of a spoonful of sorbet and suddenly my taste buds experienced the old tingle of the lemon. My pain disappeared.

                        The voice said "You have just released a neural analgesic into your system which will dampen any pain for around twenty minutes. The trigger, for you, is lemon sorbet. Think of that, and the analgesic is released. If you keep on thinking of it, more will be released. That is how you control it. The readings show that you are still releasing the analgesic into your system. To hold it at its current level, just imagine the spoon, or scoop, or tub is empty."

                        I did just that.

                        "Good', the voice said, the readings have stabilized.

                        "If you wish to remain conscious for the rest of the operation, the dampener in your system will last until we are complete. However if you wish to go under again, just lift your right hand."

                        I let my hand lie still on the couch.

                        "Good", said the voice. "You can observe if you wish. There is a monitor above the central console where you can see what is actively being done inside your skull."

                        I was more interested in the reactions of the others.


                        Ann lay still while the surgeon began the larger incision to implant the chip. She had her eyes closed. He made the cut, and peeled the scalp back, revealing the tissue underneath. From the slight tingling in my scalp, I deduced that I was undergoing the same treatment.

                        With great delicacy, the surgeon inserted a filament thin probe, searching for the synapse that would signify the site of the enhancement, where the chip would be inserted into the interstice and connected. He seemed to be successful, for he carefully took the tiny microchip from its envelope with long tweezers and positioned it on the end of a slightly thicker probe. He inserted this into the small cavity, then activated a current through the original probe that acted as a solder to lock the chip into the neural interstice. He gingerly made the connections.

                        I heard the medic say to me: "The implant is successful. You can now summon anger, control fear, disable panic, choose to be icy calm or violently enraged, to the exclusion of all else."

                        I was the most levelheaded individual anyone I knew had ever known, with a stable temperament, so this indeed would be a change. I relished the thought of using this to scare my friends and family.

                        "We are now going to graft on a cloned cell from Cavenagh - his trance inducer was the most potent of all of you, so we will build from this strength. You will, of course, have to develop your own triggers, but you now know how. You will need to override his.


                        I dreamed.

                        I was lying on a large bed with a neon light just outside the window flickering on and off with monotonous regularity. As it flickered it had a delayed strobe effect that showed me the most beautiful girl I have ever seen straddling me, and rocking back and forth. The sweat was dripping from her breasts and running over my chest as I strove to keep up with her rhythm.

                        "Lisa", I was saying, "Oh, Lisa"

                        I heard the medics voice intruding:

                        "Sarah, Sarah, exit the dream. You must leave the dream - it's not yours. You are not Miles. Sarah, come out".

                        "Nooooooo," I wailed, but it was too late. The dream had ended. I opened my eyes and looked around. All the other troopers, including Miles, were staring at me. Miles had a mischievous grin on his face.

                        "Now you know how I could face the mindworm", he said. Ann was looking at me speculatively. "You were projecting to all of us", she said. "You must have exceptional Psi-powers, we could all feel and experience the dream through our embryonic linked neural net system."

                        "But that's because you've all had the implant too", I said.

                        "On the contrary", said the surgeon, "We haven't commenced the cell implant in the others yet. You're the only one we've done. You must have found a way to channel the psych enhancement we implanted in you to project the dream to the others. Interesting."

                        'Yes, interesting,' I thought. 'I wonder what that portends.

                        [This message has been edited by spartan_chronicles (edited September 30, 1999).]


                        • #13
                          South of Fort Superiority

                          As Julia and Googlie floated to Planet's surface they saw the abandoned needlejet lazily cartwheel as it plummeted to Chiron's surface, hitting a fungus patch and exploding in a pyrotechnic display.

                          "Let's hope that it took some mindworms with it" he commlinked to Julia, who gave him a thumbs up as they neared the surface. "Steer for that rocky outcrop, Sir," she said over her link. "It may give us some cover and some protection."

                          Googlie saw where she was pointing, and pulled the drawstrings to move the chute laterally to the indicated
                          Outcrop. He saw that she was doing the same.

                          They landed about 200 meters apart, Julia smoothly rolling with the impact and carrying to the upright position again. She braced herself and pulled in the chute, loosely bundling it.

                          Googlie's landing was more awkward. He twisted his ankle as he made contact with the ground, trying to imitate Julia's smooth manoever. Instead the chute dragged him for a few meters as he tried to regain his feet. All in all it was an undignified performance.

                          "Are you all right, Sir?" she asked, hurrying over to him and extending a helping hand. "Are you hurt?"

                          "Just my dignity," he growled. "Been years since I pulled this stunt. What now? What's the SOP for this predicament. I'm afraid I've not kept up to the manuals"

                          "Standard Operating Procedure calls for us to secure a base within the next thirty minutes, then activate our emergence locator transponder, and sit tight until help arrives," replied Julia." As she was speaking she was scanning the surrounding area, and thinking 'Sweet Chiron, he's useless. Can't execute a basic chute landing, doesn't know what to do next, and we are probably right in the middle of enemy held territory. If not, then they would certainly have seen the chutes and will come to investigate. Just what I need. A babysitting job.'

                          As if to substantiate that thought, Googlie tried to walk and announced "I can't put any weight on this ankle, I think I may have broken it."

                          'Great, freaking great', she thought. But said: "Don't worry, Sir, it won't be long till they send a recon flight over, they'll pick up our signal, and Cory's Cab Crew will be here in no time. Now let's just get you to that rock face over there," indicating a twenty foot high escarpment about 800 meters away.

                          She slipped an arm under Googlie's shoulder and said: "Lean on me Sir, I can take your weight, I'm plenty strong enough."

                          They limped over the rocky surface towards the rock face.

                          "Aye, for a lassie you've got compact strength," said Googlie, "and a braw body to go with it, too."

                          Julia wondered 'Is he trying to flirt with me, or come on to me, or just paying a compliment'. The latter, she decided. He was old enough to be her father.

                          They reached the sanctuary of the rock face, and were pleased to see a fissure that would accommodate them both, hiding them unless one were standing directly in front. They flopped down to the ground.

                          Julie pulled out her modified commlink, and pressed 'activate'.

                          "Secure band, she said. Signals on a random frequency every 30 seconds. Search and Rescue crews have a continuous scanning capability to scan the spectrum every 30 seconds, so the chances of the signal not being picked up are something like six million to one. Unless the Hive are scanning the same frequencies with the same pulse ratios as ours, we will be invisible to them."

                          They took stock of their provisions, munitions and assets.

                          Each had:

                          A shredder pistol
                          A whistle ("To scare away the mindworms", offered Googlie)
                          Eight ration packs, enough for four days meals, or eight days subsistence rations
                          500 millileters of drinking water
                          A pack of 20 tablets to decalcify the local water
                          A small filter that fit over the neck of the bottle to trap large local micro-organisms
                          A flashlight
                          A large poncho

                          Julie said: If we could find the jettisoned seats we'd have a pup tent and dingy each, but given the likely Hive activity around here it'd be unwise to go searching. We'll just wait for the Cab Crew."

                          Googlie broke the news gently.

                          "We may be here longer than you're assuming", he said. "They were having trouble rounding up the crews to go evacuate Gung Ho Wells and his men. That's why we extended the CAP. I wouldn't like them to think they need to give us preferential treatment. It's pretty much 'first come, first served', and Wells has priority."

                          They saw the flash before they heard the explosion, as from the general direction of where the needlejet had crashed a plume of fire and thick black smoke ignited. The roar of twin fusion engines split the air as a needlejet thundered overhead and disappeared into the distance.

                          They were both peering up through the crevasse. "Was it one of ours', asked Googlie. "Your eyesight is better than mine."

                          "Yes Sir", replied Julia. "I can't be sure, but I think it was Dexter."

                          "Right", said Googlie. "He was on his way to Admiralty Base and must have picked up your mayday, and turned back for a looksee. He must have blasted the remains of the Thrasher to stop the technology getting into Hive hands. Smart thinking. With a bit of luck he'll be able to give those Hive units pause for thought."


                          Command Center
                          Fort Superiority

                          "Sir", the young operator said. "We're picking up a strange signal. It's broadcasting on one of our assigned frequencies. Seems to be transmitting sensor data. Switching to visual." He keyed some commands into the control system as Major Hargreaves turned his attention to the console. He was duty officer for the evening and already this was turning out to be some day.

                          As the cameras came into focus, they could make out two armored battalions approaching, with infantry outrunners walking ahead, looking for mindworms presumable in the fungus to either side of the vehicles.

                          "Are we controlling it, Jenkins," the Major asked. "If so, zoom."

                          'Trying, Sir…ah, there it is." His fingers flew over the keyboard, and suddenly the picture magnified to show the Hive insignia proudly splashed over the paintwork of the armored skirmishers. They were equipped with missile launchers. Behind them, coming into view, were the marine squads, about four battalions of them, marching crisply in step.

                          Jenkins panned the cameras around, the digital pictures becoming fuzzy as the focal point was lost. Suddenly, he stopped, and zoomed. An Anti Aircraft missile battalion was coming into view, the crew joshing and gabbering excitedly.

                          "That must have been the crew that downed Thrasher Five", muttered Hargreaves. "He must have paradropped a remote sensor - probably why he got shot down, doddering old fool."

                          "Alert Sparta Command", he said. "That's a sizeable invasion force, and if my calculations are right they're only about sixteen or seventeen clicks from us. What assets do we have here?"

                          Jenkins consulted his datalinks.

                          "Not much," he replied. There's one chopper from 5th who was on a training assignment with 4th, a division of the 47th infantry, and some garrison troops. We'll need to look further afield for longer term help."

                          "What about the 469?" Hargreaves asked.

                          "Training manoevers," Jenkins replied, again consulting the datalinks. They're drop, though, so they don't have to be close by.

                          "Well, we can't deploy them, we can only provide intelligence. Send out to all commanders" said Hargreaves, turning back to his screens.


                          • #14
                            ATTENTION ALL MILITARY COMMANDERS:

                            Large concentrations of Hive forces converging on Fort Superiority. Massing about sixteen clicks due south.

                            Unit strength known to be two armored battalions, four marine divisions and a AAA Missile Battery.

                            Objective unknown.

                            Threatened assets in the area include General Wells and his detachment, without transportation, and Wing Commander Scott Allardyce and pilot, downed in the same general vicinity.

                            Local assets include one Penetrator, one Chopper, some units of the 47th on local manoevers, and our local garrison. An Interceptor previously here has been recalled from transit south.

                            Assistance required. Please advise.

                            Major Hargreaves, Duty Officer, Fort Superiority Command Center


                            • #15
                              Tape 33/ © MorganLink 3Dvision

                              “Good afternoon

                              This is Paula Forbes bringing you the lunchtime Headline News.

                              “Our top story of today remains the increasing level of hostilities between The Hive and The Spartan Federation.

                              “We reported yesterday that a battle erupted in Spartan territory south of Fort Superiority, that resulted in the destruction of Spartan motor vehicles and Hive missile batteries.

                              “Sources told us that late yesterday afternoon a reconnaissance needlejet belonging to the Spartans was downed by a Hive missile battalion near where yesterday’s skirmish took place. The latest word is that both crewmembers ejected safely, and a race is on by elements of both forces to reach the survivors.

                              “ We are now going live to The Hive where our reporter, Nikki Samatomo, is standing by.

                              “Nikki, come in. What can you tell us of yesterday’s action?

                              “Paula, Nikki Samatomo here. I spoke with the Hive Information Minister after the news conference he held this morning.

                              “Apparently some Hive units were prospecting unclaimed land on the continent south of The Spartan Federation’s Fort Superiority with a view to establishing a perimeter and founding a new base there when they cam under attack by Spartan forces.

                              “Nikki, that would be the skirmish we reported on yesterday?

                              “Right Paula. The Spartans destroyed two Hive battalions without any attempt at negotiating, but not before the Hive had rendered inoperable the transports of the Spartan troops. After the air strike by the Spartans on his missile battalions, Chairman Yang ordered additional troops to attempt to capture the stranded Spartan ground forces. Rumors abound that Yang also ordered his forces to move on Fort Superiority itself.

                              “A Spartan support needlejet that was circling the area was shot down by troops of the Twin Suns Division, and intercepted radio traffic suggests that this jet was crewed by none other than the top officer in Spartan Air Command, Wing Commander Allardyce, and a pilot who happens to be the niece of Corazon Santiago herself.

                              “So needless to say, Nikki, both sides are rushing to effect their rescue, or capture, as the case might be?

                              “Right Paula. Chairman Yang left no doubt this morning what the Hive’s position is. Here is the statement released early this morning by the Hive Information Ministry.

                              Yesterday Hive Forces on a routine scouting mission encountered a large detachment of the Spartan Expeditionary Force Northwest of Deep Community. Without provocation, the Spartan Expeditionary Force attacked the scouts. Simultaneously as the Spartan Expeditionary Force engaged the recon force, Spartan Air Force units scrambled from Fort Superiority, joining in this devious sneak attack. The Spartan Federation has a long history of aggression towards its neighbors, and it appears that it seeks to renew its offensive against the Hive. We condemn the Spartan Federation for its blatant violation of the cease-fire, and we have registered a formal complaint with the U.N. Peacekeeping Force. However, we would warn any faction that the Hive Military Forces are fully prepared for any escalation in tensions, and though the Hive seeks peace, we are prepared for war. We ask the Spartan Federation to stand down, or risk the consequences.

                              Whether they will, though, is anyone’s guess, Paula.

                              “Thanks, Nikki. Well, there you have it. The rush is now on to reach the downed aircrew and bring them in safely. Rumors that Hive Forces might move against Fort Superiority if you couple that with the stern reaction from the Hive it leaves no doubt that there is a potential for a major war breaking out.

                              “Stay tuned to Morgan News, where we bring you the latest on Chiron happenings.

                              “This is Paula Forbes, signing off”

                              [This message has been edited by spartan_chronicles (edited September 30, 1999).]