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  • #16
    Death to Kvaerner!

    Morgan Interstellar, Castor System, Planet A, ‘Cyrus’

    “No!” cried Nwabudike Morgan, slamming his fists down hard on his desk. Everything on the desk shook; Morgan was a very strong man. A framed photograph fell forward on it’s face and the beautiful bust of the CEO would have tumbled onto the floor had it not been for Temple, who grabbed the thing. CEO Morgan was very visibly shaken by the news that his diplomat’s ship had been attacked and nearly destroyed on its return from the conference. Morgan had not expected InEn to sign anything, and thought it was already a given that InEn would have to be defeated on the field of battle instead of the political arena, but he most certainly had not expect InEn to try and kill the delegates.

    “I’m afraid that is not the worst of it, either,” said Colonel Jerome Motyer, “according to an unconfirmed report, one of the diplomats was assassinated in the conference hall by an InEn man. We do not know the dead man’s identity, if indeed the reports are true.”

    “Then we must declare war on InEn, there is no way around it!” Morgan was obviously furious. It was unusual for him to show his anger, though. He usually kept it very well hidden, “Let me apologize for my outburst, gentlemen. I have a nasty temper. I can usually control it though. I probably inherited it from the African kings I’m supposedly related to.”

    “Yes, sir, that is most understandable.”

    “Thank you, men. I apparently have the blood of several African kings running through my veins, due to the monarch’s intermarrying. I may well be related to Shaka Zulu, for instance. He had a nasty temper too, but didn’t know how to hide it as well as I,” continued Morgan with a laugh, “If it’s war InEn wants, we shall have to oblige them with it. We cannot tolerate having armed combat ships chasing after our diplomats, and InEn guards assassinating them. It just won’t do.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “At what time is the diplomat’s ship coming back to land, Oba?”

    “According to them they are coming on fast. Their ship is crippled and is in danger of breaking apart, I’m afraid. They estimated that they would arrive in about three hours,” replied Lieutenant Bowana.

    “Good. We shall meet them on the landing platform when they arrive. Hopefully only one has died, at the most. I should actually hope the report is false. I should hate to loose Mr. Siddiqui or Mr. Morgan-Reilly.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “Temple, is the strategy session to be postponed for Thursday?”

    “No, sir, unless you want it to be it will go on as scheduled.”

    “It must go on as scheduled, if only to re-assure our people. Exclude anything about InEn trading from the agenda. If they want a war, they can have it. I will not tolerate their actions.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    Morgan sat back down and eased himself. He felt overly stressed today, and he most certainly was. He knew that innocent people were going to die in an unpleasantly short amount of time. He could not prevent it. The people most certainly would not allow prevention of it, for one. First a supply ship with 130 workers aboard was destroyed, and now this. He was not going to stand for it, and neither would anyone else. As everyone was excused and began to file out of his office, he popped open that bottle of xeno-wine from Chiron that he’d been saving. He’d need it now. By the time Kessel comes over for a glass, if he does, thought Morgan, another shall have arrived. Filling his glass with the pink liquid, rolling it around in his glass for a bit, he slowly began to sip it.

    It was in this brief, serene, happy moment that a small siren began to ring in his office. “Oh dear, it’s time for my injection,” he said to himself. “Come in, Doctor!” he called. In a flash the door opened up and a woman doctor came in carrying an unpleasant looking syringe. In it was a dull yellow liquid, the Longevity Vaccine.

    After having a needle jabbed into his arm, CEO Morgan began to down the contents of his wine glass. He hated the experience, but without it, how would he continue to go on? The Doctor left the room. Morgan’s thoughts were lost in the idea of war with InEn. It seemed as if it would be fairly easy going, unlike the Bree War, or the Hive War on Chiron. And yet he was unsure. No one had any clue as to how large the InEn army was, but Morgan did not think it could be that large. InEn was only a company after all, and a small one at that when compared to Morgan Conglomerate. But Morgan knew too little about InEn to be completely certain. One never knows about these silly little companies, they might just manage to pull something incredible off. “I wonder,” said Morgan to himself, “What makes them tick?”

    The radio by Morgan’s desk was thundering out Jerusalem, the piece of music based on Blake’s poem. “Bring me my bow of burning gold!” sang out the voice on the radio, “Bring me my arrows of desire!” CEO Morgan smiled.

    Central Landing Platform, Morgan Interstellar
    (3 ¼ Hrs. Later)

    When the diplomatic ship finally did land, a small, well-chosen group led by the CEO himself greeted it. This whole thing was, of course, very hush-hush, and so too large a crowd would be a problem. No one would be allowed into the central platform area without a pass. A small, elite group of security officers surrounded the perimeters of the landing pad. Captains Smythe and Ackland were in charge of the group. They were known to be trustworthy, at least one was anyway. Smythe had won battle honors in fights against the rebellious natives (Cepheleens, as they were called) of the Castor planet ‘Xerxes’ 18 years earlier. He’d single-handedly captured an entire battle group of the natives armed only with a simple concussion grenade and a shredder pistol. He’d taken over 50 prisoners and had himself killed 18 of the rebels with his pistol and another 20 with the concussion grenade, which he tossed into their munition dump. The resulting explosion took Smythe out of action, but scared the rebellious aliens half to death. They’d surrendered on the spot. Ackland, on the other hand, was a very small, timid individual, who’s uncle was a Morganite politician. He was still fairly trustworthy, however.

    The CEO came down to the platform via magtube to greet the return of the delegates. He’d ridden down with Miss Carstairs and Mr. Heidyako. The ride had not been pleasant. Due to repairs on the parallel magtube line, they had to slow down every so often, and on occasion the ride became bumpy. The CEO was unusually quiet along the way. He seemed lost in his thoughts. Heidyako and Carstairs were engaged in a pleasant (though rather pointless) discussion along the whole of the line. Nwabudike was somewhat relieved when he arrived at the pad. He’d hoped that Temple could have accompanied him. He trusted Temple more than most of the other advisors. He trusted Temple in the same way that he trusted Siddiqui and Morgan-Reilly. He was, in some ways, like a younger brother. Though Morgan could be a very stern individual, he always stuck by his friends.

    The CEO stepped out onto the pad to be greeted by a saluting group of advisors, talents, and soldiers. He was just on time. The diplomat’s ship could be seen approaching. Morgan gripped onto the metal gate around the pad. Sometimes it could get shaky when ships landed. He looked over the threshold of the pad to see a large crowd of workers and talents, all of whom instantly saluted as they saw him. They then gave a cheer. The CEO smiled and lifted his hand, saluting them back. He was rather ticked off, at first, by the fact that they were watching the wounded ship land, but he could not be angry with his own loyal citizens.

    The ship was now beginning to land. It did so very slowly and did so in a very sloppy fashion. Of course, it could do no more in the state it was in. The ship was very charred and blackened. A good deal of the hull was severely damaged. In fact, mortally so. “Oh, I say,” Morgan heard Ackland whisper to Smythe, “thing looks to be in awful condition.” What worried Morgan most was the damage to the passenger area of the ship. It had obviously taken a direct hit, and he could not tell from seeing it at this distance as to how bad it was. It can’t have been that bad, however, he thought to himself.

    The door of the ship had to be kicked in by some of the security men. The crowd of watchers around the landing pad, the crowd of uninvited guests, that is, soon dispersed, as security men began to shoo them off. This pleased Morgan, as he did not want people to see what had happened to the diplomats. Mrs. Rabinowitch was first to come out, much to the delight of her husband, who stood waiting. She only had a very minor wound on the arm. “I think that’s the worst of it, CEO,” said Ackland with a grin, “Mustn’t have been a very good shot on InEn’s part, sir.” The words had scarcely trickled from his mouth when Siddiqui poked his head out, his arm in a sling, and a bloody sling at that. This sight made Morgan angry. “Ah, well, then,” said Ackland, “I was mistaken. But I am sure it gets little worse than that.” A stretcher team pulled the unconscious Miss Dewhurst out of the ship. She’d sustained a slight wound on the forehead in an explosion. “Hmm…well, it wasn’t that bad. But I’ll bet that’s all there is to worry about.” Things got worse. Chinn was carried out, along with Konstantin on stretchers. Chinn was unconscious and had a bad wound to the head. Konstantin had bad wounds in his legs. He was moaning in pain. “Oh dear, well I don’t believe that it…” Morgan-Reilly was taken out on a stretcher before Ackland could finish the sentence. He had a nasty wound in the chest, but he was taking it like a man. Ackland then opened his mouth to speak, but shortly closed it again as O’Loughlin’s corpse was removed from the ship. “Oh bloody heck,” said Ackland, and he slapped himself on the forehead.

    The CEO was enraged. InEn had definantly murdered one of his delegates. O’Loughlin’s body passed him. There was a small hole in his chest. It was obviously the work of a shredder pistol. War could simply not be avoided. “Heidyako,” said Morgan, “We shall have to convene a council of war tomorrow.”
    All the News a Morganite Needs
    Pg. 1

    WAR!--- Late last night a state of war between Morgan Interstellar and Interplanetary Enterprises was officially declared by the CEO himself. It seems the peace conference faired very poorly, and as our delegates returned, the barbarous InEn warriors shot dead Mr. O’Loughlin, and then InEn warships pursued the delegates’ ship and attempted to destroy it. It is expect that before December we shall have made an attack. A coalition of our allies against InEn is not expected. The CEO believes that we can handle this small upstart company on our own, unless InEn proves to have a strong army. This evening CEO Morgan will be calling a council of war. MorganLinkTV will not broadcast it, due to security reasons. wishes to assure you that right shall win this war and our forces will be back from defeated the degenerate InEn come Spring. READ FULL STORY

    FREDERICK O’LOUGHLIN MEMORIAL MASS--- Sunday morning at St. Benedict’s in downtown Morgan Interstellar. It will be a mass of remembrance of the gallant Frederick O’Loughlin who was murdered by InEn soldiers the day before yesterday. His body shall be buried after mass. A memorial dinner shall follow. Among those attending will be Mr. Imran Siddiqui, who was one of the delegates accompanying Mr. O’Loughlin. Mr. Siddiqui was slightly wounded himself. Also present will be Minister of Defense Amalthea Whitaker, the Liberal Party's outspoken Senator Herndon Wilde, as well as CEO Morgan himself. During mass a list of names shall be read off. The list is of all those who died on the Namibian Queen last week when it was attacked by an InEn ship. Both ships were destroyed with no survivors. The final three names shall be those whom were killed by InEn after the peace conference, including O’Loughlin. The other two men (all soldiers) were killed during the pursuit of the diplomatic ship. READ FULL STORY

    STRATEGY SESSION FOR THURSDAY--- CEO Morgan’s weekly strategy session will indeed be on for the day after tomorrow. It shall be shown live on MorganLinkTV. READ FULL STORY

    NEW BOOK UNDER CONSTRUCTION--- Janet Morrison, author of Wit and Wisdom of CEO Morgan, re-published last week, is starting work on an official biography of CEO Morgan, entitled 'King of Credits: A Life of Nwabudike Morgan'. In this book she will state that Morgan was the man who first believed that the Chiron colonists would eventually move off Planet and colonize new worlds. This of course is true, based on Morgan’s statements in The Centauri Monopoly, i.e. “We estimate that during the next mission century most of Planet’s industries will be moved off Planet to Nessus Prime and other orbital facilities…” READ FULL STORY

    Last edited by History Guy; April 10, 2002, 12:19.
    Empire growing,
    Pleasures flowing,
    Fortune smiles and so should you.


    • #17

      Tyndareus. Second Planet In The Spartan Home System.

      Kessel never saw the punch that caused him to loose his balance and fall to the floor, he was instead watching out for his opponents deadly feet. As he lay on the mat of the gym floor he begin to chuckle as he wiped the blood off his mouth. He rolled over on his back and stared at his opponent who was now circling around him ready to defend herself.

      “That was a new combination you just gave me. I see that you are using your retirement well.”

      Santiago couldn’t help but smile at Kessel’s usual use of humor to hide anger or embarrassment.

      “And it seems that you have gotten too busy to stay up to date on the newest fighting techniques, Marcus. You should know better than that.”
      “indeed I should. As usual you are the one to bring me back to face the cold hard reality of life.”

      With that Santiago walked across the floor and offered her hand to Kessel. He grabbed it and she pulled him up. Most outsiders would be shocked to see the two behave in this manner. But Kessel had been close to Santiago for more years than he could say off the top of his head. And Santiago had always had her eye on Kessel since the first day he entered the academy many years ago while Sparta was still on Chiron. He had taken his fathers place by her side when he had been killed on a special mission to PK territory. Since that day, he had worked to ensure Santiago’s power and everyone else’s obedience to her. She was his mentor, his friend, and he in return was someone she could always count on to be there. No one was surprised when he took over as the leader of the Federation, even though he got it over people that had been with Santiago since Earth. Kessel, had always been the heir apparent.

      The two walked from the gym to a small open room that was exposed to the tropical air of Tyndareus. Santiago’s compound had been built atop the small mountain of Hommel’s peak. The compound commanded a view of the thick jungle that covered the valley floor for as far as the eye could see. In true Spartan style, it was built with a defensive mindset. Even though no one seriously thought it would ever be used as such, but tradition dictated it. This had become the official residence of Corazon Santiago, retired Colonel of the Spartan Federation.

      Kessel walked over to the overhang and looked out across the valley floor. It had hardly changed since the place had first been built, except that settlers had begun to encroach down in the valley. Nothing serious since this part of the hemisphere had been designated for living space only. The factories had been kept far to the north and south. Santiago didn’t seem to mind the people though. In fact, Kessel thought the Colonel was beginning to mellow out in here later years. At least until she had knocked him down just a few short minutes ago. Kessel turned around just in time to see Santiago rubbing the sweet off her exposed upper body. In many other cultures this would have stopped the conversation dead, and would have produced an emotional reaction. Embarrassment or desire being the top contenders. But in Sparta things were such that people saw this all the time in rec commons and in public barracks. So Kessel had no reaction to seeing this. Well, for the most part anyway. But Kessel was Spartan, and those things were to be controlled.

      “Don’t you ever get bored way up her? I mean, I loved this place while I was governor but I was so glad to get out into space and see other worlds.”

      “I could ask you the same thing about Sparta Command. The only time you ever get away from Command is when you come here to Tyndareus or when you inspect the outer systems. When was the last time you were away from the Home System?”

      “Too long I’m afraid. But you know as well as I do that power revolves around Sparta Command. Power in Sparta is still very much a personal thing. Even after a few centuries. But now that you mention it, Morgan has expressed a desire for me to meet with him. But with his little war with InEn, I don’t see it happening anytime soon.”
      “Oh yes Morgan’s little war. He should be careful. There is much more to this than is on the surface. You should warn him. But don’t make it seem like you are warning him. Morgan is as independent as I am about these things. I am afraid that the Terrans have made a mistake by angering him. They should have been content with only his products beating them and not his armies.

      Kessel looked and nodded.

      “Yes, I have done so already. But we will see what becomes of this and if Sparta will play a role.”
      “Make it to our advantage Marcus, always make it to our advantage.”

      With that Santiago undid the tight braid that held her hair in place. Only Kessel and a few of Santiago’s closest guards ever saw her out of the demanding role of Colonel Santiago, Spartan Icon. She put on one of her robes and sit down on one of the wooden benches that circled the open room.

      It is strange that you mentioned that I should get out and go places. I have decided that I should go to the new colonies that have been set up on the edge of Hive space. Ironholm, I believe you have named them.”

      This was a surprise to Kessel. He had not even entertained the possibility of this happening.

      Corazon, you are of course free go to wherever you choose. But to Ironholm? It is still very frontier there. The colony pods have only gotten started producing as of yesterday. “

      “Marcus, I have done this before you know. What the settlers have on Ironhom are light years above what we had when we landed on Chiron or even what we had on Sparta Prime a couple of centuries past. Besides, I need to feel the what it is like to be needed again. Ironholm will give me the sense of duty and purpose that has always driven me. You could even use it in the campaign to draw citizens to the new system. Come to Ironholm and relive the frontier life all over again.

      Kessel walked closer to his friend and held out his hand.

      “Then I ask you to do me a favor while you are there. I want you to organize the citizens and form Ironholm’s first militia. There are already Marines there, but the citizens must organize themselves in a militia for their own good. I can think of no other person than you.

      Santiago smiled at the compliment from her old friend.

      “That I can do.”

      The two talked for another three hours about everything from the current political situation to the move that had knocked Kessel to the mat. When Kessel’s visit was over he boarded his shuttle and took off back to Sparta Command. The trip would take about an hour, so he had time to catch up on some paper work. As the armed shuttle passed by the large space station in orbit around Sparta Prime, Kessel noticed that one of the system patrol crafts had been brought in for repair. He made a mental note to order Spartan AeroCorp to begin construction on some new replacements. This would hamper the defense budget in some way but the defense of Sparta Prime was not a small matter. He also noted that AeroCorp should see if one of Morgan’s defense companies could upgrade the patrol crafts on board systems. Technology was always changing. It troubled Kessel that the edge in warfare may come down to technology and not personal bravery or honor. As a believer in the Spartan way of life, he would not entertain the idea. But as the leader of a civilization, he had to think of everything. Even those things that didn’t fit into the nice little concept of his society. As the shuttle landed in the Command complex, Kessel’s thoughts returned to Santiago. She was a strong woman indeed. Strong enough to convince two generations of Kessel men to stand behind her through tough times and not ever regret a day of it. His father had had two allegiances in his life. One to his wife, Kessel’s mother, and one to Colonel Santiago. Somehow no one, not even his wife, could think any less of him for it. For Marcus Kessel, it was something different. Santiago had always been in his life. His earliest memories were of standing at attention in front her. Now he was the leader and she had in her own way asked permission to do something. Kessel shook the thoughts from his mind. Like all Spartans before him, reflection could come when he was old or about to die. Right now, he had business to take care of.

      Encrypted Video Message
      To: CEO Morgan
      From: Colonel Kessel

      Forgive my absence these past few days. Our recent expansion into areas around the our Hive border has consumed much of my time. I am sure that some of your subsidiaries will be receiving orders from the Spartan Government very soon to assist us in our colonization efforts. You can also rest assured that we are watching the situation closely and will be able to intervene if and when you choose to ask for assistance. I have ordered our space fleet along our border with the Peacekeepers to move closer to your border in the event that you deem it necessary. Also some of our All-Enviromental Marines have been placed on high alert and have been placed near your border to assist in your upcoming war. Sparta is confident that you will prevail, but do not hesitate to ask for assistance. < Kessel shifts uncomfortably > We in Sparta are concerned that there seems to be more than meets the eye with the situation at hand. InEn seems bent on suicide by starting a war with your much larger and powerful government. Even with the support of the Terran Government, they cannot hope to defeat you. Just be careful CEO. But as always, we stand ready to assist. And by the way. I can say to you that I would be glad to come to your homeworld and sample your wine when you have defeated the foolish InEn and properly disposed of their assets. Until then, Kessel out.
      Which side are we on? We're on the side of the demons, Chief. We are evil men in the gardens of paradise, sent by the forces of death to spread devastation and destruction wherever we go. I'm surprised you didn't know that. --Saul Tigh


      • #18
        Deep Space: Starport Yang
        Near the Bree Fringe

        Yasir Barak sipped his cup of tea which was one of his daily rituals he enjoyed. Ever since taking command of this isolated station in deep space, the region seemed to quiet down. Damn universe comspiring against me, he thought. I need some action.

        As if on cue, red lights suddenly flashed throughout the command center. Taking his boots off the consol in front of him, he set his cup of tea down. He turned around to a technician and shouted, "What's going on?"

        The technician,a Xiero female, turned around. "Sir, we have reports of Drone ships apparently on a planet near the fringe."

        "Put it on the view screen." Barak pointed to the large screen in front of him.

        The Hive personnel in the room gasped at what they saw...

        A Drone fleet was filling the viewscreen with numerous ships. It looked like the Drones were inserting hundreds of soldiers onto the planet.

        Barak tilted his head while pointing at the screen.

        "What the hell are they doing? he asked, almost casually.

        The Xiero technician spoke up, "It appears they are claiming that world for themselves, sir."

        Barak turned his head to look at the Xiero.

        "I know what it looks like. What I want to know is what they are thinking."

        Yasir Barak sat back for a moment to think. Contemplating his next move for a couple of moments, he spoke.

        "Use our cloaked satellite to send a message to them. Tell them this:

        You are in violation of restricted space. This region is considered neutral territory. Leave at once. Repeat, this is restricted space.

        Loop that message and keep playing it." Barak smiled.

        With the cloaked satellite, the Hive could watch Drone activity without them knowing who was sending the message. They wouldn't even know that the Hive was watching every move.

        Barak turned to the homeworld comm-officer. "Tell homeworld we have come into contact with the Drones. Send a visual as well...they will probably want to take a look at this."

        Barak reached over for his cup of tea now gone cold. Why does everything always happen to me ? he thought. Drinking his cup of tea, he listened to the numerous technicians and personnel around him...lost in his own thoughts.

        * * *

        In Transit ship: Bringer of Peace

        Ambassador M'rock couldn't help but be nervous. In mere hours he would be at the Hive border, transmitting his message to who-knows-where. He began tapping the table next to him and thinking of an appropriate message to send.

        This is the Hive, Spartans. We know what you war-monger's are up to and you're going to fail. Please, don't approach Hive space. We'll give you anything you want.

        M'rock grimaced at that last thought. The Hive begging for anything was prepostorous, at least to M'rock. The very idea of a Hive ambassador begging on behalf of the Emperor was unheard of.

        A couple more hours to think what I have to say

        M'rock wiped the sweat building on his brow while the Bringer of Peace and its two accompanying frigate ships sailed toward their destination.
        Last edited by Frankychan; December 18, 2001, 20:36.
        Despot-(1a) : a ruler with absolute power and authority (1b) : a person exercising power tyrannically
        Beyond Alpha Centauri-Witness the glory of Sheng-ji Yang
        *****Citizen of the Hive****
        "...but what sane person would move from Hawaii to Indiana?" -Dis


        • #19
          Encrypted Video Message
          From: Kristy Adams, President of the Free Drone Republic
          To: Nwabudike Morgan, CEO and Supreme Leader of Morgan Interstellar

          Greetings, CEO Morgan.

          On behalf of the Free Drone Republic, I would like to once again express our sadness and anger at the recent provocations on the part of Interplanetary Enterprises, and extend our condolences to Morgan Interstellar and to the families of the men and women lost.

          Rest assured that the Republic stands ready to assist you in any way necessary. All our forces are on high alert; the Enterprise battle group is ready to deploy to your territory if needed.

          Until we meet again, I wish you and Morgan Interstellar the best.

          End Of Message


          Alpha Lab, Caledon, Vega Prime

          "How's the analysis coming?"

          The technician shook his head. Barely out of college, he could not have been more than about twenty-six years old. Yet he did not seem to be intimidated by Derek Sorensen, recently named by Interstellar Scientific Monthly as the greatest Drone scientist in history.

          "Not so good. Here, take a look."

          Sorensen leaned over the young man's shoulder and looked at the screen. As he did so he noticed the technician's name tag: Derek Summerby. An unusual name for an unusual occupation.

          "I've scanned the photographs of that wall into the database," said Summerby, "and I'm running Fractal Key on it."

          Fractal Key was the latest xeno-studies computer program. Designed by the University and marketed by Morgan Interstellar, it was an enormous semi-sentient algorithm that could compare alien architecture, biology, even poetry, across several different races at a time. It could also use sophisticated fractal theory to analyze xenolinguistics and crack their language. It was surprising how much of the universe's phenomena fell into place when examined through the microscope of fractals. Sorensen's thesis had actually been about the relationship of chaos theory and Chiron's Planetmind.

          "The writing matches no known alien race," Summerby continued. He turned and looked up at Sorensen. "The material, however, is similar in composition to something the Spartans encountered on Terma IV during the Bree war."

          "You mean it's Bree?" Sorensen asked.

          "No. It was already there when the Bree occupied that planet." Summerby took a deep breath. "I found something else of interest." At the older scientist's inquiring look, he continued, "We did a separate resonance scan of the ruins on all known levels and frequencies, and we found something very strange."

          Summerby punched at the keyboard and a graph appeared. Sorensen's jaw dropped. There was an enormous peak near the vertical axis of the graph. Even the resonances corresponding to the very matter the complex was made of were almost negligible by comparison.

          "This temple," Summerby said, "is resonating extremely powerfully on what seems to be at most the two-dimensional level."

          "Even the Progenitors never did anything like this," Sorensen whispered. "What does this mean?"

          "I don't know," the technician answered. "It doesn't affect communications or navigation systems."

          Sorensen was quiet for some minutes. "Maybe it was a source of power for whatever built it." He shook his head in amazement. "We're talking about the smallest building blocks of the universe here. Can you imagine the kind of power you would get from that?"

          "You haven't heard the best part yet." The younger man typed some more. "Watch the field over time."

          And sure enough, over a period of hours, the two-dimensional resonance fluctuated. At some periods resonances at uneven intervals, between the vertical axis and the matter disturbances, appeared and then faded almost as fast.

          "Good God," Sorensen muttered, "What is this place?"
          Everything changes, but nothing is truly lost.


          • #20
            Location: Saturn Colonial Magistrate’s Office

            “… And your orders and instructions are not to interfere in the conflict in any way, not aiding either side. If you chose to disobey these instructions, your place as the colonial magistrate will be systematically taken away and you will be escorted back to Geneva to face court charges. Have a nice day. End of Transmittion.”

            Nicholas listened to the message carefully, for the second time, in his office. The room was spacious with a high ceiling – suggesting that it was built before artificial gravity was applied to the colony. Inside was a desk, couple of shelves, Nicholas’ hover chair and a table with some of his personal belongings. The wall he was facing was solely occupied by a display screen, which was until now displaying the diplomatic secretary giving him “instructions” as to what policy should be applied in this Morgan – InEn conflict. They were clear enough but why was Titan considered an Achilles’ heel? Nicholas, who was standing, nodded and the screen changed to statistical and administratory colonial data. Not much changed when he arrived – production was slightly lower, population growth and psych input was stable and corruption seemed low enough but Nicholas wondered why was it there at all. He turned around to look outside the big, thick and radiation-filtering window, which occupied a good portion of the wall opposite. He could see the organic structures which were part of the colony, some bio-domes which grew food, but most of all he saw an orange and purple sky and reddish brown ground. Way back in the background he could pick out the huge native plant towers, which hung high up in the sky, above the close sea of methane and ethane. It all looked so alien to him, even for someone from Mars, but it was his, and more importantly, his people’s home. “I’d better start getting used to this…” he thought to himself.

            He was shaken out of deep thought by the colonial AI. It had an artificial female voice that was designed to sound as perfect as humanly possible, but it always left people with an eerie feeling of speaking to a machine probably more intelligent than themselves, capable of handling most automatised tasks of the colony. With no known emotions or even primitive care. Nicholas encountered the AI and even seen her… “it” in person, several times now and it always gave him the chills.

            “Magistrate, your guest, Doctor Tanaka, is here,” a soft voice echoed and he shivered.

            “Then let him in,” he replied and turned towards the double doors, which sucked themselves in to let Dr. Tanaka in. He was a short, oriental-looking man, dressed in blue-silver clothes. His age was unguessable and he carried an almost fixed smile on his face as he entered and greeted the magistrate.

            “It is a please to meet you finally sir,” he said to Nicholas as they shook hands. Dr. Tanaka was the most respected scientist on Titan and he designed several projects currently running on this moon. The Titan scientists’ speciality is biotechnology, which is why many man-made objects here look like organic structures – because they were literally “grown”.

            “You wanted me to give you a tour around our science facilities?” Tanaka asked Nicholas.

            “Well, this extraordinary world requires deep study, doesn’t it?” he replied in his rich tone.

            “Then we should begin right away, if you wish,” Tanaka added with a tiny bow. Nicholas turned his head upwards and issued a command.

            “AI, automatise the colony for the duration of my absence.”

            “Acknowledged,” the woman-sounding voice responded. Tanaka was amused.

            “I see that you have switched off her interactive hologram. Does she disturb you?”

            “She? That is a computer program, not a human being.”

            “Forgive me for questioning your judgement,” he looked down for a while but then back onto Nicholas, with his Japanese dark eyes. “We must proceed with the schedule, don’t we?” and he smiled.

            “Yes,” and they both walked out and passed several corridors, with many people busily working, like in a busy hive, some of them looking up to salute their magistrate. They then entered a white room with nothing but two doors – one from where they came from and the other, where they were going. Tanaka approached the far door, placed his hand on its surface and looked into a miniscule black dot in the centre.

            “Check complete. Welcome Doctor Tanaka,” a synthesised voice said. These sectors were not designed to be ergonomic or entertaining – they were structured on the basis of efficiency and security.

            Tanaka stepped back and let Nicholas go through the same process.

            “Check complete. Welcome Magistrate Popullos,” and the doors pulled themselves inwards, looking as if it was a moveable organ, and they proceeded into a short corridor with rooms on each side. On every rooms “door” (if you could call them) was an imprinted glowing symbol, suggesting the room’s function. The two men walked straight ahead, towards a room marked with a symbol resembling a circle within a larger triangle. The doors quickly sucked themselves in as they moved forward and a busy and rather weird-looking room greeted them.

            For a start, it was much bigger than the corridor, with an extra floor to be climber if complete access was required. Every piece of machinery, every console, everything an Earther would expect to be a piece of digital technology, was made of bio engineered organic material. Busy technicians and workers dressed in fluorescent blue coats were observing several vast displays floating in mid air, showing data analysis. Many stopped their work as the two men entered the room, some coming up to greet them themselves. The room had a heavy chemical smell to it, and Nicholas felt a slight heartburn. Tanaka observed as Nicholas reached for his throat.

            “Biochemical reactants – you get used to them and eventually stop feeling the side-effects of working with all this glorious technological equipment,” he said in awe at the strange devices. He led Nicholas, who already felt he had too much to take in, towards one of the big screens, where a young dark man waited for them. He had curly and short black hair and a wide smile. He greeted with Nicholas as Tanaka introduced him:

            “Mister Popullos, please meet Doctor Shacraz. Shacraz, meet out new magistrate.”

            “Good to see you sir. We here at the science centre have been very busy lately. I assume that you have already met one of my creations,” he said proudly as a tall and slim woman, dressed in tight, bright golden clothes stepped in from beside him. Her long curly hair reached all the way to her hips, over her smooth black skin. She moved with a form of majesty achieved only by highly trained or co-ordinated personnel.

            “Yes, I believe that I’ve met the colonial AI before,” Nicholas said with discomfort. First organs that served as machines and now her again? Tanaka saw that it was getting too much for him and he swiftly waved his hand at Shacraz and gave him an angry look. The woman’s image soon dissolved and Nicholas felt easier. Shacraz sighed and commented:

            “Well, people’s reactions vary when they first meet her.”

            “Her? What is it with you people? That is just a dumb machine, nothing else!” Nicholas half-cried, clearly frustrated by the AI.

            “Now I assure you it meant no offence. Now can we continue with out tour?” Tanaka suggested. Nicholas closed his eyes for a second, sighed, apologized for that outburst, and nodded to continue. Shacraz was startled at his magistrate’s reaction, but his expression stayed the same. He pointed at the big display and Nicholas watched it, as the two scientists presented him the technological marvels they mastered using biotechnology. They even showed him how the giant plant towers were harvested, when the buds on their ends split off the main body and fell. They were later collected before they took root on the ground and started growing. Next came bio weapons and new bio ship designs. The two men spoke with pride as they talked about Titan’s space defence but then they unpredictably succumbed to disgust when InEn was mentioned. On Nicholas’ question about whether InEn committed any illegal actions there, no one answered him and there was big pause. Subject was changed but he could feel trembling in Tanaka’s voice. “They are hiding something from me,“ Nicholas thought. “And it seems that I need to find out what it is myself.”

            ************************************************** **

            Location: Vassion Religious Complex, Tatiana Base

            It was sunset. Skies were filled with purple colours and Saturn could be just seen through the thick clouds of Titan, with it’s brilliant rings also visible as little silver streaks. On the surface, tall cone-like structures of the Vassion complex pierced the image. They were of strange colours – blue, green, black and grey. Inside, however, visitors were greeted with warm yellows, reds and browns, with sky-blue ceilings. Those who worked as psych Empaths were the priests they wore violet overalls and they were specially trained to detect and appeal to others’ emotions and feelings. This is why they were hated by the old xenophobic government – the belief in equality of all living creatures clashed with wars involving the Belters and incidents with Scions.

            A service was being held that night. Thousands filled the vast halls as they stood and recited a hymn. Couple of priests walked around, burning a scent that gave off a trance-inducing feel to the vast crowd. Pretty soon, the hymn was reduced to a long drone and psi energy generated was more than overwhelming. The people felt as one for that short period of time. Then the apparently main priest spoke and broke the sacred collectivity.

            This was just one of the denominations of the Vassion customs. In the nearby hall, music and dance took the place of the hymn for a more “alive” collective feeling. In one other hall, a death ceremony was being held to a man no one liked – the last colonial magistrate. Only the administratory officials attended it – no proper friends or family. The priests moved uneasily through the half empty room, emanating psi energies all around, and then the coffin was removed from view, moving incredibly easily, as if it were empty. The officials, satisfied that the former magistrate was dealt with, left shortly. All but one man who then said to his hidden comm. device:

            “Task complete.”

            ************************************************** **

            Location: Nova Saturna Command Centre

            The circular room was dark except from the blue light coming from the ceiling lighting it. Highly skilled professionals sat at their consoles on the edges of the room, monitoring incoming information. Few guards stood around in case of a rare emergency, and Maria Sanchez sat in her hover chair in the centre of the room, her black eyes piercing the agent on the screen, which floated in front of her. She had long black hair that went over her Latino looking face. She was dressed in her normal uniform, with the rank of supreme commander, an insigne of a silver dragon’s face imprinted on the left shoulder of her indigo uniform, the uniform of Nova Saturna. Maria pierced deep into her subordinates’ eyes, who just informed her that the former magistrate’s death ceremony had been held successfully, with the officials not noticing anything.

            “Good, now get me Mister Jessen on screen,” she asked with a cold expression and the face on the display switched to an old face, with grey hair and beard. He was smiling at Maria as he spoke:

            “Ah Commander Sanchez, how nice to see the face of my saviour!” he said with a chuckle. This was the former magistrate whom they help stage his death. He promised to finance the movement if they helped him.

            “Pleasure is mutual. Now, about our fee?” Maria asked him with deadly eagerness.

            “Ah yes, your agent is informing me that you should be seeing it on screen now.” And as he said that, a little window popped up on the screen, showing energy credit transfer from the Swiss Central Energy Bank. Their energy count suddenly rose by a very significant figure. Maria finally smiled:

            “I thank you on the behalf of Nova Saturna and I am sure your actions would have led you down this route anyway,” and she pressed a small red button on the hover chair, by her right hand.

            “I am glad that you see my way,” and then he noticed the agent press a riffle to the back of his head. He immediately started to tremble out of fear. “What, what are you doing?!”

            “Earlier I said that we’ll deal with personal problems later and do business then. Well, this is just a personal gift from the depths of my heart.”

            “But… why? I gave you the money!”

            “Remember when you ordered the security forces to ‘deal severely’ with all those who showed any other ‘difficult’ political views. Do you remember the former strategic advisor?”

            “Well, yes, no, it can’t be…”

            “That man was my father,” her voice started trembling. “I stood there as a little girl watching you take them away, my mother and my older sister screaming, my father knocked out because he resisted! I hid where you couldn’t find me and I the local priest, who also survived your cleansing of political individuality, took me and I loved him as my second father. I had grown to hate you and your tyrannical administration! Now feel my locked up wrath being released!!!”

            “NO! I can explain-“ and the riffle fired, making a hole straight through Jessen’s skull. Little blood was seem on the screen, as the body instantly fell, but Maria could have shivered for every drop of it. She looked down for a second hoping to calm down.

            “What should I do now Commander?” the agent’s expressionless face appeared on the screen.

            “Clean up and place the body inside the coffin. Agent Wroc should join you in a second. Then report to command.”

            “Roger, Agent Odeg out,” and the screen blackened and shrank. Maria closed her eyes, shutting off herself for a minute. “The revenge is complete,” she thought. “Now we can proceed with the greater plans…” Then she remembered about Jonas Ray, the Earth Correspondent. He should be receiving the data disk within an hour, containing valuable data that could both benefit the Nova Saturna movement overall, or can be used as a bargaining chip. InEn would literally kill for it.
            ... This body holding me reminds me of my own mortality...
            ... Pain is an illusion...


            • #21
              Near Tranquility City, Moon
              For the rest of the journey towards Tranquility City, the two men remained silent. Even catching the glitter of the thousands windows of the tall buildings enveloped in the pressure domes erected beside a crater that had been covered and transformed into a habitation area did not make them open their mouths.

              Filkins took the disc out of his backpack as they approached Circle One, the first checkpoint when entering the city. Circle One was invisible, actually, as it was the maximum reach of the personnel scanners that monitored traffic from and to Tranquility City. As soon as they crossed the line, a bleep accompanied by a request of identification was sent to the suit radios. Filkins and Greg complied, and Filkins continued looking at the data disc.

              "What are you trying to do? Extract the information by staring at it hard?" Greg asked.
              "Huh? Oh, no. Just thinking. This must be big. They after all killed the man who gave this to us."
              "We should of just buried it down right there, and forget about it all", Greg stated. "We are lucky those corporate security honchos did not blast us."
              "Maybe, but I'm curious. Don't try to tell me you aren't."

              Greg was about to answer, but incoming radio traffic stopped him. An incoming Crawler offered to hitch them a ride.
              After the crawler had dropped them off at the western dome, the men proceeded to Greg's home, as it was closer by and had a rather good data disc replayer.


              "The Morganites are very angry, and demand an explanation", the Minister of External Affairs, Peter Kalm, said and sat down. The Cabinet was assembled again, this time in a small conference room in the Parliament building.
              "The session starts in shortly, madam", the security guard reminded the Prime Minister.
              "Thank you", she replied, and continued, "tell chairman Coracao that I want to address the Parliament before the members can ask questions from the Cabinet." The guard complied and disappaered to a doorway leading to the main hall where four hundred seats stood facing the podium.

              "Now, the Morganite rep's discussion at the meeting brings an interesting new element to this. It now appears that the press already has information of the stunt InEn pulled in Moon sector."
              The Minister of Defense cleared his throat. "Prime Minister, should we inform the Parliament, and of course the press, that InEn asked for us to order the military to ignore all InEn activities there at that time? That leads to believe that InEn planned to get rid of the diplomats in the first place."
              Drecaille closed her eyes for a moment. "We are going to, if asked, tell everything we know about the conflict between Interplanetary Enterprises and Morgan Interstellar. Other matters, well, we will discuss them when they surface."
              The announcer beeped. The Parliament session was about to begin.


              "The disc has been partitioned, and may I say, in haste. The tool used was rather crude, and some data scripts has even been disrupted. Because of that, the disc got those pesky read errors. But I managed to repair the data scripts. They contained nothing user-loadable, they were the scripts that help the computer drive to find the piece of the disc they want to read."

              Greg looked at the tech. He was an older acquaintance from his former job at Lynx Marketing where he had served as the resident know-it-all. Greg had never gotten into computers - year after year they were getting rather easy to use as a "mundane", but when there was a technical problem, the little pieces inside provided enough trouble for technicians to work on for hours.
              "So it's fine now?" Filkins asked.
              "Yes", the tech replied, and immediately noticed that most of his jargon had passed right through the otherwise perspective minds, "like a charm. If you will now excuse me, I have some real work to do."
              "If this wasn't real work, then you won't probably charge me", Greg said with enough sarcasm to render any sort of misunderstaning impossible. The tech grinned and responded: "It was a fifteen minute job. Just buy me a cup of some real coffee the next time we meet."
              "You like real coffee?" asked Filkins in slight disgust. He had had himself nourished always by mainly low-price synthetic products, and had thus grown accustomed to them. "With authentic caffeine, right?"


              "Before I announce the session had started, the Prime Minister wishes to address the Parliament." Drecaille thanked Coracao and proceeded to the podium.

              She watched to her right. Coracao had returned to his seat next to the three vice chairmen and the session secretaries. To her left were the Cabinet ministers, sitting in their own desks which had microphones and a computer console, like all the other desks in the hall - including the four hundred in front of her. A big electronical board behind the ministers listed that 366 members were present.
              Up in the hall was a balcony, which stretched all the way across the oval shaped hall. Reporters had taken over the floor, and a fourth television camera was being placed as she cleared her throat to silence the whispering that had been present all day and now had increased almost to the level of normal talking as Coracao had announced the Prime Minister.


              The first partitions was meager in it's size, and only contained a read-only file.
              "If you have recovered this disc", Greg read out loud, "please return it to Third Street, building number twelve, apartment five in basement floor, Southern Habitation dome, Tranquility City, Moon, Coalition of Earth. Reward."
              "And that's all."
              "Yup, that's all."
              "And the second partition?"
              "While you were in the bathroom, I checked it out. The computer prompted me for a password."
              "So what do we do now?"
              "What do you think?" Greg replied and highlighted the word "Reward" with his finger.


              "As all of you probably know, Interplanetary Enterprises and Morgan Interstellar have engaged in what appears to be a full scale war. Earlier this day the two parties attempted to conclude peace on our Moon, but no agreement was achieved and the Morganites decided to leave. An unknown agent then suddenly pulled out a weapon, and killed Frederick O'Loughlin, a Morganite dignitary. The Coalition hereby gives it's sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Mister O'Loughlin.

              But that was not all of it. The Morganites quickly left the base, but InEn launched a squadron of frigates in pursuit. Pursuit of an unarmed vessel, ladies and gentlemen. The ship fired some shots, but was ordered to disengage by InEn, after the Cabinet had issued an ultimatum to InEn threatening the corporation with overtaking of all their Earth assets.

              Because of this, the Coalition from now on washes it's hands from Interplanetary Enterprises. If the Morganites attack InEn assets, and InEn assets and employers only, the Coalition will not intervene. Because of this, all Coalition citizens working for InEn are prompted to immediately leave their positions. Coalition will arrange a salary and possibly a new job for all former InEn employers. All Coalitioners who ignore this recommendation will not be aided in case Morgan Interstellar threatens to eliminate or harm them.

              However, Morgan Interstellar will not be able to roam freely in this system. If any of their attacks even injures a Coalition citizen, who is not under InEn, or damages Coalition assets, the Coalition shall respond with all due speed and strength, as will Terran Alliance.

              Since waging war is harmful for everyone, and speeds up a possible economical recession, it is desirable that the two parties could be able to resolve their differences without armed conflict. Earth Coalition will mediate in future negotiations, if asked by any of the involved."

              Drecaille took a pause, sighed and faced Coracao.
              Now, shall we let the session begin, chairman?"


              The taxi had dropped them outside building number twelve. Greg and Filkins entered and descended down to the basement.
              "This is the right apartment", Greg identified the number on the door, five. He clicked the buzzer on the door.
              "Who is it?" a voice, strict and somehow androgynic, blurted.
              "I am Greg Jeannessy, and this is my friend Humboldt Filkins." He was about to say "sir", but could not tell whether the sound was one of a man or a woman.
              "State your business."
              "Well, umm, we have a data disc that was given to us when we were taking pictures of the Morganite ship at the InEn Moonbase Seven. You must of -"
              The door slided open, and Jeannessy and Filkins were blinded by bright light.
              "Excuse me, but could you please -"
              "What is on the disc?"
              "Just turn off the -" Filkins attempted to say.
              Greg heard a click, a very foreboding click, a click which could be from a finger flipping a switch, or a finger deactivating the safety on a shredder pistol.
              "The disc has a text file giving this address and prompting that a reward will be given if the disc is delivered here. Then there was a part which could not be accessed, since it was password protected. Now could you please turn the light off?"
              Lance Christensen turned left and whispered to his supervisor: "It could be that someone succeeded in extracting the codes after all! Do I let them in or do I", Lance motioned his shredder pistol, "you know what I mean?"
              "Ah, there's no need for making a mess anymore. Even if the pair would call the marines, we would be long gone", a man sitting in the shadows of the small apartment replied.
              "Very well." Christensen holstered the pistol and turned the light off.
              "Sorry about the light, and the gun", the man in the shadows shouted, "this neighbourhood has a bad reputation."
              Greg stepped carefully in and pulled out the disc. "Here is the disc." Christensen took it and inserted it carefully into the room's only computer, sitting on a table. Greg looked at it, and noticed it was a protable model, which had no network connection and an old keyboard - screen interface.
              Filkins followed to the apartment but remained silent in front of the door as it closed automatically.
              Christensen accessed the disc. He looked at the two visitors and asked the man in the shadows: "Should I send them off?"
              "Excuse me", Greg noted, "but we are in the room..."
              The man laughed briefly. "Mister Jeannessy is right, Lance. Give them some for bringing the disc to us."
              Lance sighed, took out a transaction card and gave it to Greg. "Take this and all that's in it -"
              "Stop! You fool! If you give them a transaction card, it can be traced to them!"
              "Excuse me, Mister Ray", he quickly stopped, "- I mean, Sir."
              "Download the money on a separate chip and dispose the transaction card."
              "Okay." Christensen accessed his computer again, and did as told.
              "Here, take this and please leave", he said, rather embarrassed. Greg took the chip and prompted Filkins to open the door. The two men left.
              "Christ, Christensen, that was a close one", the man said, rose from his chair and sat in front of the computer. He entered a password for the prompt, and scanned the now open files. "It's all here, Lance, it's all here. Give the order to pack up the operation."
              "Will I order a taxi for you, to the starport, sir?"
              "Yes, please. Lives were sacrificed for this disc. And the rest of our Lunar expense account... But do know that we were damn lucky to get the disc."

              Jonas Ray's task was now complete, though some hours ago it had seemed impossible.


              "This is amazing!"
              "What? Is there a lot in there?"
              Greg pointed at a number on the screen. "This much."
              "That must be the account number", Filkins exclaimed in disbelief.
              "I know where we are going next", Greg said, "though my wife might not like it."
              "Something to do with ship sighting, right? Right?"
              "Hey, that's how it got us the dough, it's cosmic justice to spend it on ship sighting. Now, what would you think about a trip to Callisto? They say that there is going to be a ship exhibition in the near future there..."
              Cake and grief counseling will be available at the conclusion of the test. Thank you for helping us help you help us all!


              • #22
                New Isreal
                Oort Cloud
                Conclave Star Ship (CSS) Joan of Arc

                Captain John Redman looked at the holoprojecter that was showing the Joan of Arc's course. They were on standard patrol. Reports from a couple of tramp frieghters in the region sujested that a new pirate gang was forming out on the boonies. The 2 main worlds of the Believers and their minning systems were on the fringe of known space. John was glad to be out back in space again espically after the massaive retrofit that his heavy crusier had gone through the last 2 years back on Isreal, though spending time with his family was a pleasent experince he just wished that they would stop trying to set him up with a nice girl. He rather shot himself then get married right now, skippering crusier was what he was born for. Unlike battleships which were always moored near the planets, or the destoyers which traveled in packs, the crusier on patrol nominmally was alone, he was the law out on the fringes of the space more often then not, and that was how he liked it. No admirals or commodores ordering him to go on a sucide mission or a milk run of their personal glory. Out here it was just him, his crusier, and targets of opertunity.
                "Captain, sensors are picking up a destroyer sized vessel, hull profile unkown, power generation is a 70% match for a Hammer of Light destoyer, it is on an vector towards nav bouy." the sensors officer said.
                "Roger, probely setting himself up for a ambush of the next bunch of frieghtors micro jumping here. Sensors, can you tell if he has seen us yet?"
                "Sir, target is showing no signs of deceting us," the man running the sensors station replied,
                "Good, the new stealth shielding is holding, helm set an attack vector on the destoyer, com hail them."
                The com officer, then said, "Aye captain; Unkown ship this is the CSS Joan of Arc please state ships ID and mission."
                The reply that came back was a women's harsh voice, "This is Captain Lille Malali of the Hammer of God, go to hell you heretics,"
                John couldn't be more pleased, on his screen that he pulled up from the sensors station he saw the destoyer moving about in a erratic pattern, tryuing to figure out where he was. He gave a command, and 2 missiles fired. They came screaming out of the fore tubes of the crusier and locked onto the happles Hammer of God ship. The destoyer's point defence manage to knock down one of the missiles, but the other got through and contacted the enemy ship, the expolsion savaged the ship's shields. Then the Conclave ship entered energy range, the frontal battries of the crusier opened fire and regular and 2 capital sized chaos beams fired expanding the wound in the Hammer of God ship, the reply fire was paltry and did mimal damage the shields. Then a beam penetrated through the other side of the destoyer and it began to spin out of controll. An interior string of expolsions racked the stricken vessel and blew it up.

                Captain Redman was going to breath a sigh of releif when the sensors officer yelled that he was dececting 9 vessels emerging from FTL. The Joan of Arc swong to face the new entries, and when the ships finnaly came out, 5 Hammer of God firgates charged the Conclave warship, while 4 escort carriers began to launch their deadly cargo. Redman ordered, "All battries fire as you will, helm evasive manuvaers, communcations, HPG the nearest Conclave ship to ask for assitance, these frigates are going to be a bit tough, they are using latest generation weapons, repete latest generation weapon systems." The comm officer nodded, and relayed the message, Redman was confindat that his ship could take frigates, the escort carriers on the other hand would tip the balance into the fundalmentlists hands.

                Conclave heavy crusiers were designed to take small fleets of lesser warships on their own, but this was no small fleet, the scence of the Joan of Arc was imprseeive to watch if there was some 3d person watching like God on this small part of the universe. Fighters swarming in and dieing in bunchs due to the crusiers secondary battries, while the primaries were in a slugging match to 5 modern frigates. 3 of the firgates were already venting air, but aft port shield generators on the Joan of Arc . One of the crusiers chaos turrents was taken down by a fighter launched missile. The battle went on.

                New Isreal
                Oort Cloud
                HOG Flight Leader

                The HOG fighter pilot pulled up his Mallazer class fighter/bomber and looked to see if his wingman followed. The heavy crusier was proving a tougher opponet then the HOG commodore in charge of the hunting squadron. The Hammer of God was using these step up attacks for the next offensivse. The invasion of New Isreal, but as that thought was appealing to commander of the flight of fighters, it was no time to be day dreaming, another round of flak fire from the crusier sent his wingman into obivlon. He pulled back his fighter and began to strafe again aiming for the port side. The dual chin mounted impact cannons on the front of his ship complimanted the fighter version of the plasma shard missiles that deadly little craft had. Though the new equpiment on the heavy crusier was making it diffucult for a target lock for the missile to run straight. He looked at his monitor that displayed how many fighter he had left in his command and grimaced, the crusier was going to make sure that flight country in the carriers were going to be quiet once they got home. But yes the pilot thought as missile from one of the frigates struck home on the aft port shield and tore off several weapons emplacments. But his joy was dampend a bit when one of the main battries of the crusier struck against its tormentor and hit the reactor of the frigate, the ship just simply broke into several pieces then exploded in a fury that took out some fighters. Two more frigates began to pull away from the battle, each of them showing scars where the powerfull main battiry chaos beam hit, the heavy crusier felt obliged to chase them. Then an order came over the fighters com channel, they were to rearm while the frigates drew the crusier on a goose chase. The fight leader relayed that to his squadron commanders and they and the surviors headed back towards the escort carriers. He was going to be the first one to land to rearm, when a massiave ship came out of FTL and immiedatly opened fire with its main guns on the carriers. The HOG flight was struck by a plasma shroud that went through his fighter and into the hapless escort carrier. The carriers were little more then converted freighters, they were not designed to stand up against a destoyer let alone the Conclave Superdreadnought that had emerged.

                New Isreal
                Oort Cloud
                CSS Joan of Arc

                Captain Redman grined in joy as the CSS St. Paul came out of FTL and in a swift salvo took care of the fighters and the carriers. The frigates that he was chasing apparently knew that the tide of battle had turned against them, since they were building up the charatistic energy of a FTL transit. "Guns knock out their drives, move power from aft shields to fore battries, lets see if we can't get them to cry uncle." He ordered.
                The power was moved and in 5 rapid shots of the capital chaos gun that had survied the fight with the fighters the frigates were without FTL travel, though they were gaining speed in realspace. But so was the Joan of Arc . Redman didn't know if the captain of the frigates would, surrendor, risk a chase across realspace, or go kamkaize. He got his answer when the frigates began to slow down and transmit a surrendor message to the crusier. The bridge cheered the battle was over and they were likely were going to get prize money from the two HOG vessels. He suddenly felt tired when he said, "Damage controll, how bad is it?"
                He felt even worse when the DC officer began to read out the caustlity report.

                OOC: I will go back some time and get rid of the bad spelling errors, this is just setting up the stage for a plot that I want to get started.
                "I do think that it is important to realize that wars are ugly and vile and that there better be a damned good reason for getting involved in one. Because the price for somebody is going to be very, very high."

                David Weber


                • #23
                  Hive Prime
                  Emperor Yang's Private Room

                  Yang drummed his fingers on his desk while watching the viewscreen in front of him. He scrutinized the image of the InEn fleet pursuing the single Morganite diplomatic ship. Yang watched as the lead InEn ship took chunks out of the pathetic Morgan ship.

                  "Stop....Rewind." Yang said wistfully. Yang reflected on the situation he was watching.

                  Yang first heard of the Sol System when his agents infiltrated Morgan Interstellar over 100 years ago. Hive spies reported that the Sol system was thriving instead of being a graveyard, as Yang thought it was. Earth itself recovered from the brink of self-destruction, something Yang thought was astonishing. Yang thought Earth was dead and the news of Earth and its solar system flourishing was remarkable. Yang learned of the Mars revolution, the discontent of former Earth colonies, the InEn/Morgan rivalry, and the Terran Alliance. His spies had done very well, gathering invaluable information.

                  Yang leaned back in his chair and glanced over to the man sitting in a corner next to him.

                  "So, what do you think?" Yang asked the man.

                  "My lord, you know what I think. The Morganites are scum and they got what they deserved." The man replied rather distastefully.

                  Yang sighed. Of course he thought that. Yang turned to look at one of his memorabilias taken from Chiron, a single xenofungus tubule kept in stasis on his personal desk. Taken from a field next to The Hive on Chiron to force Yang to remember his failure. Never again.

                  The Emperor turned to face the man sitting in a chair dwelling in the shadows.

                  "Minister Ehud, after myself, you are the resident expert on the Morganite mentality. Your family has had the most contact with them than anyone else, myself excluded of course."

                  Minister Abdullah Ehud smiled. Dressed in the robes of the Hive Economic Minister, his face glowed with Yang's praise. Ehud tugged his gold collar, marking him as the Economic Minister. Praise always did embarass him.

                  Yang continued, "Abdullah, I know you hate the Morganites. You also know how they think...However, my attention is needed elsewhere. I want you to direct our Morgan campaign. Spymaster Shirlak and yourself will be in charge of our forces against Morgan Interstellar. Your tenure as the Economic Minister is now over."

                  Minister Ehud sighed, but knew the Emperor did what was best for the empire. Ehud reminisced about his now form duties, loving the number-crunching and how he watched the Hive economy grow from nothing into the greatness it now was.

                  "Yes, my lord." Abdullah spoke softly. "When do I begin?"

                  Yang reached under his desk and pushed a button. A secret door opened and in it stood the Spymaster, arms in his trenchcoat-uniform's pockets.

                  "You start now, begin by initial contact procedures with InEn and the Terran Alliance. I think they may want to know that they aren't alone in their struggle."

                  Minister Ehud stood up and headed toward the secret doorway, thinking about his new duties and dreaming of Morgan Interstellars downfall.
                  Last edited by Frankychan; December 27, 2001, 02:04.
                  Despot-(1a) : a ruler with absolute power and authority (1b) : a person exercising power tyrannically
                  Beyond Alpha Centauri-Witness the glory of Sheng-ji Yang
                  *****Citizen of the Hive****
                  "...but what sane person would move from Hawaii to Indiana?" -Dis


                  • #24
                    Deliver Us From Evil

                    Morgan Interstellar, The Capital

                    Winter was coming early this year for the planet ‘Cyrus’ and for Morgan Interstellar. That Thursday the citizens of Morgan Interstellar awoke to find 3 inches of snow on the ground. Being mid-October this was a little odd, as snow usually did not come until mid-December, and came at it’s heaviest in March and April. The weather forecasters began to report that this year’s winter would be a very long one. Morganic Learning Centers were closed for the day. All terraforming activities were to be postponed until the snow melted. However, this did not interfere with the duties of the officials who ran Morgan Interstellar. The day would be busy for them, with a Strategy Session at 10 am and a War Council at 2 pm. It would most definantly be a long day.

                    A lot of people were angry. Public reaction to the crisis was better than Morgan could have hoped for. The people wanted revenge. They flocked to the military, rich and poor alike. Volunteer offices were packed with young men and women waiting for their commissions. MorganLinkTV was filled with commercials with ‘Uncle’ Morgan, like a modern Uncle Sam or Lord Kitchener, pointing at the crowd crying, “I Want You for the Morganite Army!” The popular singing group “Dirty ‘Dustrialists” did their own rendition of “I’m Proud to Be a Morganite” for the adds. Posters outside most buildings in the city read: “Be A Morganite Soldier—Honor, Glory, and Energy Credits”.

                    CEO Morgan was angry, as well. His last attempt to reason with InEn was to send an Encrypted Visual Message to the President of that company. There had been no reply, and none was expected. When Thursday came he knew that there was nothing for it but to launch a general attack on InEn, to defeat the company in battle, and to force it to surrender, or at least, as the CEO put it, to “heel”. He knew the Earthers weren't going to do anything about it. The CEO wanted to take care of everything in this war on his own, and if possible, very quietly. He did not expect much of a war, actually, InEn was busy trying to commit suicide in his eyes. There was no doubt as to whom would win this war. As small as the Morganite army was, InEn’s would definetly be smaller and more poorly equipped.

                    Of all of them, though, T.H. Temple was angrier still. Economically speaking, the war would benefit Morgan Interstellar far less than it would hurt it. It was not always such in war for businesses. War, for example, he said, was what took America out of the Great Depression back in the historic Second World War. World War III probably saved most industrial nations when it came about. The Bree War, even, had been beneficial to Morgan Interstellar, as the Morganites weren’t the ones doing the fighting, but they did supply the troops. But in war between companies, all was different.

                    This was the subject of the strategy session that day, which followed a senate meeting. Originally the subject of the session had been the FTL Drive and possible trading deals with InEn, but that was, of course, off. No one wanted to hear anything about that sort of thing; they wanted to know what war would do to the economy. It had also been decided, for possibly the first time ever, that the strategy session would not be broadcasted live, but instead to be shown later, with some of the more secretive bits edited out.

                    “Not much,” said Temple, “the economy would probably be stagnant. With most of our workers gone off to war, all work that requires the use of men will have to be done either by automaton or by women, both options would probably slow down the works. It’s a tough job up at those factories, as most of you know. It’s no job for a woman, and we will have to develop something by way of a fast, automatic, programmed robot. And it has to be cheap and yet it won’t be in need of constant repairs.”

                    “Good point, Ted,” said the Honorable Cornelius Walker, sipping a drink made of the native flora of the planet, “but this may well mean getting these things from the University or the Drones, they both deal in that sort of thing. But, do you really think we shall run out of workers?”

                    “From the view out the window, sirs,” said Temple, gesturing at the Army ROTC across the magtube, “I should think we would have an overwhelming amount of people coming out of Morgan Interstellar, and probably Morgan Antimatter as well, as most of those who died on the Namibian Queen were from there.”

                    “But could we not move the work of those two planets onto another planet’s work schedule, or several planets?” asked Senator Herndon Wilde, the Liberal Party leader. He was a very unhelpful fellow much of the time, and Morgan regretted ever being around him.

                    “It sounds reasonable enough in theory,” said Morgan standing up, “but it would clog up their normal work schedules pretty badly. I think this is the problem with 24 hour work schedules, and not expecting the unexpected. I am afraid that this will indeed hurt our economy…unless…” All eyes fell on the CEO, “Unless, of course, we put our hardened, rebellious drones to work.”

                    “As dangerous as it is, that may well be our only alternative,” replied Temple, “Though we may have to take them from our punishment spheres and put them under armed guard. It’d have to be the strongest ones, so any rebellion among the workers would have to be met with very strong and severe punishment.”

                    “But what if that breeds yet more hatred?” asked Mr. Delgado of the BoT.

                    “Then,” said Morgan, “we may have to use mind control on them. As risky as it is to perform, it is certainly very effective.” There were general nods of approval at this.

                    “I do have a question, CEO,” said Ms. Marchmain, a poweful Conservative Senator, “Are we going to use trade to build up a proper and potent military force?”

                    “I suppose you mean, will we trade for better ships, weaponry, and the like?” asked the CEO. Ms. Marchmain nodded. “I have thought about this a bit. Of course we shall have to get a better group of gunships, and carriers, and the like. I believe we only have seven or eight troop carrier ships max., and one of them is practically a relic. We have two supercarriers, but those are only to be used in most extreme cases. I think we have to procure some better ships from those who make ships the best, the Drones. We have a large number of credits on hand for the ministry of defense, I believe, I am sure we can buy some first rate ships with that, and perhaps send the Drones several free FTL Drives and ship boards in return for several carrier and battle ships. And don’t forget that we have Morgan Shipworks still cranking out trade ships, but we may easily change the order to battlecruisers, although they shall take a while to produce.”

                    The rest of the session seemed to pass quickly enough. Overall, there was very little to discuss.

                    The day really started that afternoon, when CEO Morgan convened the war council. A good number of important people had come down for it. The “grand old man of the army”, General-in-Chief Albert Marchand had come down for example, as did the Minister of Defense, Mrs. Amalthea Whitaker. The CEO, of course, was attending. The Home Secretary, Admiral Vallachi, Admiral Mortimore-Clarke, Major General Lehman, Imran Siddiqui, and Mr. Temple were also in attendance.

                    All that morning the council room had been scoured for bugs, for spying devices, and the like. The Data Angels were known to place such bugs in council rooms before. The Chief of Security, was afraid that there were bugs planted in the room, set to record the council’s decisions and then sell them for some ridiculous price to the enemies. After a long search, however, no such probes were found.

                    The War Council seemed to last forever. Albert Marchand, the be-whiskered General-in-Chief created the plan of attacking Callisto, a moon owned by InEn, in order to avoid upsetting the Terrans. Morgan was quite tired of the Terrans, “Such people as those who run the Terran Alliance are totally unscrupulous. One can never accomplish anything with them. All civilized societies recognize InEn as interplanetary terrorists, who must be caught, tried, and punished for their actions. However, if the Terran Alliance is to get fumed whenever we try to deal out justice, than I should rather the Terran Alliance collapsed all together so that we should not have to bother thinking about them. It brings to mind the fact that all such nations are ultimately ruined. Try and think of one such nation that has not? It is impossible, sirs and madames. Even on Chiron it is so, all civilizations that have acted in such a manner were crushed. Remember the Cult, the Data Angels, even the Hive for a time.”

                    “That is true, CEO. But we must consider the facts: the Terrans are stronger than we are. Any assault on them would be futile without a large amount of help. I am not trying to undermine our troops, we have a superb army, but it is small in comparison to what the Earthers can muster,” retorted Mrs. Whitaker.

                    “I agree. I must concede that InEn and not Terra must be attacked and defeated. InEn would be easily defeated if it were not for the Terrans that lurk behind them. At least we have the Spartans and the Drones, however, but I should not wish to make this a total war…Callisto must be attacked and taken. InEn must surrender and pay reparations, or hand over those who planned the attack on our ships…Marchand, please give us an overview of what we are to expect…” responded the CEO, slowly.

                    “Yes, CEO,” said Marchand, and he then pressed a switch on the wall. A giant holo-map of Callisto shot up on a giant screen on the wall, as the lights in the room dimmed. Marchand began to point out with his stick the defensive positions of the InEn forces, and where to bomb.

                    Early the next morning, three large Morganite transport ships were filled to the brim with hardened shock troops.

                    St. Benedict’s Cathedral, Morgan Interstellar

                    “Pullman, H., Ship Weapons Operator
                    Punjab, P., Superintendent of 1st Shift Trading Group
                    Putnam, S., Captain of Security
                    Pyort, A., Commerce Worker…”

                    CEO Morgan sat back in the pew. One of the deacons was reading out the list of those killed in the InEn attack on the supply ship the week before. Everyone had perished. The ship had gone down with all hands. Nothing was known as to what actually transpired on the fiery ship as it began to break apart. All they knew was that H. Pullman, P. Punjab, S. Putnam, A. Pyort, and all their comrades, whoever they were, were heroes of the new war. Martyrs for their cause. In such a righteous cause who could stand against Morgan? InEn certainly couldn’t. Terra might try, but they were just a bunch of sniveling twits anyway. The Hive, perhaps. Morgan above all hated the Hive. Yang was a symbol of total evil in his mind. If there was a Devil, he believed, he must be very much like Sheng-ji Yang.

                    Temple suddenly rushed into Morgan’s pew. He was always late for these sorts of things. Siddiqui was sitting beside him, his arm still in that sling of his. Morgan looked about him, at the Holy images and the precious objects. There was a copy of a Rublev icon of Christ resting near the Altar, placed there by a Believer diplomat. Morgan couldn’t help liking it. He loved the look of those icons, just as he loved the look of the building. Beautiful place. He heard the warships take off nearby and fly directly overhead, some headed for Callisto. Some were going to be put in action for a much different reason. It was a well- conceived idea, created by that master of cunning, Morgan himself. It was very much the hush hush government secret. Another transport ship flew overhead. The deacon at the pulpit had finished with the names of those killed on the supply ship…

                    “Those killed by InEn troops after the peace conference…
                    O’Loughlin, F., Diplomat
                    Alexandros, T., Private Soldier
                    Montgomery, D., Private Soldier
                    End of List.”
                    Last edited by History Guy; April 10, 2002, 11:56.
                    Empire growing,
                    Pleasures flowing,
                    Fortune smiles and so should you.


                    • #25
                      Callisto, moon of Jupiter, in Sol system

                      The dark world of Callisto was descending to a somber night. Workers had returned home from the mines or the offices some hours ago, and now the habitation domes were adjusting the level of light to create a synthetic 24-hour day.
                      Outside the plastic spheres, that were many in their numbers and some kilometre or more in diameter, it was not dark, as the largest planet of the system shone in all it's power. The Sun was just a star among the others, maybe slightly larger.

                      The largest dome, Callisto One, was not a single dome, but a tightly knit complex of several smaller domes, with one taller and wider, the original one erected by the first colonization team centuries ago. In the middle of it, the local headquarters of the colony's largest company, owner and legislator, Interplanetary Enterprises, stretched to the heavens.

                      In one of the topmost floors was the office of the Colonial Magistrate of Callisto. The co-operation between Coalition of Earth and InEn was something very rare. The colony was basically Coalition territory, but since InEn controlled over nine tenths of any private territory, building or excavation, the Colonial Magistrate was not appointed by the Cabinet back on Earth, but by the executive board of InEn.

                      Seven years ago, Trudy Napgraft had been appointed the Colonial Magistrate, and now after all that time she was probably one of the most apt Magistrates the Coalition had. Too bad for the Coalition, she could not be transferred to some more distant and - if possible - smaller piece of rock to take care of some more demanding business.
                      She was happy where she was, with a salary much more then anything a goverment official could ever desire and an office in the top floor of the InEn Headquarters, with a view to the western gardens someone would kill for, and with a husband and two children, both born on Callisto.

                      Magistrate Napgraft was shuffling through a number of data files, this time regarding the efficiency of the life support system, as the buzzer rang. Napgraft lifted her look from the viewscreen and prompted the visitor to come in.
                      "Good evening, Mrs. Napgraft", General Klyden, the colony's Chief of Defense, greeted her. He was a former member of the Coalition military, and though his rank in the paycheck was "MO-4", he was always called "General".
                      "Good evening to you too, General. Do come in."
                      They exchanged some small talk about family affairs, and Klyden invited Napgraft to a dinner at his house, as his fiftieth birthday was steadily approaching, and the like.
                      "General, I doubt your birthday was the reason you bothered to come up here."
                      "You read me like an open book, ma'am. According to your memo twelve-fourteen, issued yesterday, you have reduced the reactor standby of the primary ground-based defense installations by another ten percent. If someone would attack us right now, it would take hours to get the guns to full power. Are you sure what you are doing, with the Morganite hassle and all?"
                      "General, we discussed this already two weeks ago when I ordered the last reduction. We simply do not have enough energy resources. Until I can get a clearance for ordering an expansion to the energy array, I can not do a thing about it. We need all the energy we can to upkeep habitable conditions."
                      "With all due respect, when I walked here, I was sweating. It's over 10 degrees Celsius out there. If we would lower the general temperature by just one degree, we could draw enough power to the guns."
                      "I am sorry, but under that temperature the overall efficiency of the energy consumption of the colony would fall drastically. Not to mention the eco-system of the Gardens."
                      Klyden sighed. "Is there anything I can do to convince you, ma'am?"

                      Manned Scanner Platform Five, orbiting Jupiter

                      The guard looked at the mug filled with something that bore striking resemblance to coffee in both it's outlook and odor. But when he sipped the hot liquid, he felt an immediate urge to spit it back to the cup. However, he swallowed and wiped sweat from his forehead.
                      "Damn it", he cursed out loud. The coffee from the synthetizer, the little adget that turned the greyish-brown protein porridge into more aesthetic dishes, was disgusting.
                      "Why for Pete's sake do you keep drinking coffee?" the other guard of the Control Platform hollered from the other room.
                      The guard put down the cup and walked into the Control Centre. His coworker was entering something to one of the consoles manually.
                      "And may I ask what are you up to with the system?" He walked to one of the other consoles, sat down and opened the system on the screen.
                      "I am doing a diagnostics on the primary scanners."
                      The guard checked the worklist of the day. "It's not in the list, Matt."
                      "I know, but it was giving something odd at me so I decided to check it out. The scanner logs that I thought were eerie are the two latest ones in the main database directory."
                      He seeked the files and studied them. "This is insane."
                      "I know. Sheesh, an object the size of Mercury? The optics would of confirmed that."
                      "Have you browsed the database for earlier malfunctions like this?"
                      "Yes I have Dan, and found no match. There have been no size-related errors with this model. But it is only a year old, and a rather rare design..."
                      "There's always a first time for everything", Dan said. He felt tired, probably because he had kept skipping an hour from his sleep cycle every night the past fortnight. But he needed to get the program finished so that he could send it for evaluation. He needed caffeine, and he needed it bad. No matter how horrible the coffee would taste.

                      The communicator display started to blink. Matt let the diagnostic program alone and went to check what the message was.
                      "Dan, you'll never believe this. A Morganite convoy has jumped inside Saturn's orbit and is headed straight towards Jupiter."
                      "What the hell? That's suicide", Dan replied from the kitchen and started to chuckle. "Maybe it's a network glitch, and they are getting the same malfunction we are."
                      "No, at least three Alliance battle groups have confirmed the sighting and are going in. And the Coalition Navy is going as well. But what is more curious, a Terran Alliance group of Battlecruisers is showing interest on our strange sighting."

                      Heavy Cruiser CNS Red Sun, command ship of Coalition Fleet 85J

                      "The Morganites are not responding to our hails, sir", the communications officer reported to the captain. "They have transmitted us a message, demanding us to allow them to pass."
                      "Keep hailing them until we reach firing range. Navigation, when will we reach firing range?"
                      "In 325 minutes, sir."

                      300 minutes later.
                      "Yet no respones?"
                      "We have attempted on every common frequency. They are intentionally ignoring our demand that they withdraw immediately from our space."
                      The captain quickly consulted the local commanding officer of the Terran Alliance's joint fleet and the commander of the local InEn battle fleet. They concluded that the Morganite dispatchement should be destroyed as soon as it reaches weapons range.

                      Manned Scanner Platform Five, orbiting Jupiter

                      After forcing two cups down his throat, Matt called him to the console.
                      "The diagnostics did not detect an error."
                      "Oh crap. Not another EVA, I hate those suits."
                      Suddenly, the main alarm of the detector system started to howl.
                      "What now?" Matt asked. "I already disable the primary array..." The both of them sat down to their respective stations.
                      "The secondary array has detected several ships, over a dozen", Dan reported. "Some appear to be Alliance Battlecruisers. Theres a big lot of them, and they are closing in."
                      "Confirmed. Send an identification request to the unknowns, and send what we know to the Alliance fleet.."
                      Dan ordered the computer to send a recorded request of identification in the three most common languages.
                      "No response", Dan finally said.
                      "Roger. I have checked the ship silhouette and signature with the optics. It is not of Terran origin, nor does it match any knwon alien signature."
                      "First contact, perhaps?" Dan suggested in optimism.
                      "Unlikely. They were clearly trying to escape our scanners until the last minute. I believe we are facing an attack of a hostile force." Matt rose from his chair and walked to the third console. "Come, I need your authorization to activate the primary alert."
                      Dan stepped to the console and entered his own keycode as Matt did the same. A loud bleep echoed in the circular Command Centre as the alert signal was sent hurling through space.
                      "OK, now, you know the drill?"
                      "Yes. I am the data expert", Dan said, "So I must backup the main logs to the capsules memory bank and the central network."
                      "Correct, whilst I keep sending information of the targets down to Callisto. And when the Platform is targeted. we will proceed to the rescue capsule and land on the moon."

                      InEn Headquarters, Callisto

                      General Klyden was about to leave as Napgraft's desk viewer made a loud noise. The Magistrate rushed to it.
                      "What is it, ma'am?"
                      "I do not understand. This is a level one attack warning from the Scanner system, even though the Morganites are on the other side of the planet altogether!"
                      "A malfunction? A loop in the network?"
                      "With this advanced equipment? Besides, this is a warning given manually by the guards onboard. This is a real threat."
                      "I will proceed to co-ordinate the defense myself in the Command Nexus", General Klyden reported and started to run for the express elevator.
                      "Wait!" More reports started to flood in. "All of our orbital platforms have been eliminated or rendered useless."
                      "Where is the closest friendly fleet?"
                      Napgraft swallowed. "There seems to be a quite large Alliance force there, but they did not start engaging the Morganites until they had destroyed most of the defense platforms. The Morganites are landing."
                      They stood silent for a second, or a minute. Maybe an hour, they couldn't tell. Suddenly the desk bleeped again.
                      Klyden walked to the screen on the desk. Klyden's second-in-command had started to power up the defense guns, but to no avail. Only two Morganite ships had been damaged, none destroyed.

                      Thousands of elite soldiers were readying themselves on the Morganite landing crafts.
                      Morgan Interstellar had sneaked up on the now practically defenseless colony.

                      Over the moon's surface, the Terran space battle force retreated as the Morganite warships started to regroup their strength. The remainder of the troop ships landed.
                      As the people down were being subdued, more Alliance ships jumped in. InEn and Coalition joined them. In a brief battle, the Morganite battleships had either surrendered or exploded.
                      But on the moon...
                      Cake and grief counseling will be available at the conclusion of the test. Thank you for helping us help you help us all!


                      • #26
                        In the Shadow of Jupiter

                        Callisto, Morganite Troop Carrier 8

                        Major General Harry Marmion felt the jar as the carrier landed on the rocky surface of the Jovian moon. He quickly shoved the photograph of his young wife and his young son back into his pocket, and grabbed something from the floor. It was a black, leathery object. An oxy-mask. He picked the shredder pistol off the floor beside him, and fingered his grenade belt, just a final check to see if everything was all right. It was the basic routine. Harry Marmion was 32, and the nephew of the General-in-Chief of the Morganite army, Albert Marchand. A large portion of that army was in the newly landed carrier. About 50,000 souls (veterans and volunteers alike), all organized into the 1st Corps.

                        Marmion was ready for whatever lay ahead. It was war this time, the real thing. This time it was not just a training exercise. In a few moments he would give the order, the doors would swing open, and 50,000 Morganite soldiers would rush out across an alien landscape, under heavy enemy fire. The only problem was that Harry Marmion was sick to his stomach. Just seconds ago they’d landed, but for nearly an hour before that he’d been watching a slow space battle unfold. The Morganite plan had paid off. A fake transport carrier (robotically operated) and six small warships had been sent towards one direction of Callisto, while the genuine article, containing Marmion and his boys, was sent towards Callisto itself. The InEn fellows down below hadn’t noticed the real carrier for some unknown reason, at least not until it was too late. While Marmion watched the imitation carrier and it’s escorts disintegrate under concentrated InEn fire, the true carrier floated down toward Callisto. The escorts quickly shot down the orbital facilities of Callisto, most with a single, well-aimed shot, though some of the fighters were taken down by missiles fired from the platforms. Before long, all the platforms had been reduced to sinders. Marmion had watched them, the round, black satellites, each briefly vanishing in a shower of sparks, and then spiraling down to Callisto, wreathed in flame, finally disappearing into the black void of space. Leaving its escorts (to almost certain destruction at the hands of the InEn ships), the carrier had descended down towards the orb.

                        “Is it time?” asked Marmion’s adjutant, Sigurdson, fingering his rifle.

                        “I think so,” responded Marmion, quietly.

                        “You’d better give the order then, sir,” said Sigurdson.

                        Marmion gave the order. The doors swung open, revealing a barren, rocky desert. No one was in sight. One could, however, barely see ugly, gray, bulbous domes over a hill. These were dwellings. “Alright boys!” cried Marmion, “Everyone out!” Marmion whipped out his shredder pistol and charged out onto Callisto. A huge wave of men followed him out, emerging like angry wasps from their nests. Immediately shots came from the directions of the rocks, and men fell. The first shot took out a young officer and about six other men, all beside Marmion. They were all killed in a flash of energy, their bodies flung backward against the carrier’s walls, some 30 feet back. It was as if they were flies that had just been hit head on by a swatter. Still, Marmion’s boys poured onward. Colonel Nassar immediately set up a small missile launcher, as Brigadier ‘Prince’ Kingson ordered his men into battleaxe formation. The phalanx of Morganite men and steel moved forward, like a great wave crashing onto a cliff-face, or along a coastline.

                        A small, metallic missile suddenly slammed into the front of the Morganite battleaxe, incinerating about 12 men, and injuring many more. Kingson himself was slightly grazed across the cheek. Had his helmet not protected him, he would have been bleeding. He ran up to Marmion, pointing his shredder pistol in the direction of some huge rocks. They slighly resembled human faces. “General, sir, they have a good sized missile launcher somewhere behind those rocks, and from here are nearly completely immune to our weapons. We have to take out that battery, sir,” he called.

                        “Tell Nassar to incinerate them. They are too dangerous to be left untouched,” responded Marmion. Kingson slapped his chest in a salute and hurried back to Nassar, who immediately acted on the order. Within seconds three small red missiles were launched simultaneously from Nassar’s position. Marmion watched as they flew overhead. He tripped, and rolled over onto his back, as the missiles slammed into the rocks directly behind the missile launcher. Nassar ordered his men to fire again. As Marmion stood back up, the missiles presumably hit their target (it was rather hard to see it all from where Marmion was). The InEn missile battery exploded in flame, the machinery melting very quickly in the intense heat. Bodies flew overhead, and landed with a crunch onto some large rocks several yards away. Marmion charged into the enemy battery’s position, and saw something that sickened even he, a seasoned veteran. The InEn missile launcher, and its operating crew, had been totally obliterated.

                        Behind the rocks were about 10,000 InEn soldiers. It was quite a surprise to see so many, Marmion thought. Yet most of them were half prepared, wearing the minimum for combat, very unprepared, some were even unarmed. They’d all be taken by surprise. Marmion grinned, just before he gave the order to advance. Pouring over the rocks were the Morganites, who soon poured energy and shredder darts into the InEn forces. A young private kneeled beside Marmion, aiming his gauss rifle at an InEn officer. Unfortunately before he could fire, the young private fell back into a rock, his blood splattering across Marmion’s metallic uniform. He’d been killed instantly, a shot through the oxy-mask. A second shot struck Marmion, who tumbled backwards, landing beside the dead private.

                        When Marmion awoke, he found himself being treated by the surgeon, a wound in the left arm. He was lucky that the shot had not penetrated his suit, otherwise he'd have blown up like a balloon, and popped like on. The sounds of battle had died down. The field in which some 10,000 InEn troops had been positioned was now littered with corpses and wounded men, thousands of them, both Morganite and InEn. “You’ll live,” said the surgeon angrily, “which is more than I can say for those mother’s sons out there.”

                        “I’m sorry, sir,” said Sigurdson, “we were afraid you were dead until I found you. I think we’ve got the InEn troops on the run, sir. The main complex is in sight.”

                        “How long was I out?”

                        “Not long, sir, about 45 minutes,” replied Sigurdson, grinning like a Cheshire cat, “This fight was very quick. They were tough to beat at first, I’m afraid, a lot of boys fell, sir, but we got ‘em, sir, we got ‘em beat. We caught an InEn Colonel, he says that there are 20,000 InEn troops on Callisto, but most of them have already been engaged, and more than half are green.”

                        “How many boys have we lost?”

                        Sigurdson’s boyish grin seemed to vanish, “I’m afraid there is no casualty report yet, sir, but I’d guess we’ve lost about 6,000 men. I’m sorry, sir.”

                        “Oh bloody…” Marmion stopped himself from cursing, and stood up, “I’m going off to where the fire is hottest,” Marmion began to laugh, “Maybe I’ll go out in a blaze of glory. I’m really useless in this fight, tactics don’t work here, you see. We just have to find them and atomize them.” True to his word, Marmion charged off towards the front.

                        The front was rather depressing. They’d finally run up into some hastily made fortifications, and the fighting was slower. The reserve forces of the enemy were pouring into their makeshift foxholes and tearing large gaps in the Morganite line. Marmion grabbed at his grenade belt with his uninjured arm and pulled a plug out of one, before counting to eight and tossing the thing into one of the foxholes, which was thus made an even bigger foxhole. Then the skies opened and it began to rain, soaking both the living and the dead.

                        General Klyder, who controlled the defense of Callisto, was bent over a holo-map of Callisto in the darkened Command Nexus. He was rather angry. Up until about 20 minutes ago, the defenses were holding. He had even thought for a time that the Morganites would break, that the applied pressure of his reserve force would snap the Morganite battle line in two. Now, unfortunately, the Morganites had broken through the InEn center, snapping his own battle line in two. It was a desperate battle now, and he was afraid that there was no hope of a victory now. He was sure of one thing, however, he was going to go down fighting. He would take some of them with him. He watched on the electronic map as the Morganite battle phalanx came closer and closer to the main complex, to the nexus of control itself, and unfortunately for him, the Command Nexus, and himself. He only hoped that the Magistrate would escape.

                        He suddenly heard boots clatter-down the hall-way leading to the door, and grabbed the rifle by his side. He relaxed slightly when Colonel Keeler rushed in. Saluting, he reported that the Morganites were right on the tails of the retreating defenders. He was afraid the next target of the aggressors would be the Command Nexus. He was right. They could be heard now. Approaching. Cutting through the defenders like a knife cutting through butter. Keeler rushed to the doorway, and prepared to close it. He was stopped however by Lieutenant Kraus, who ran in, and saluted both men. “Please don’t salute now,” said Keeler, “ that they are coming. They shall want to capture the highest ranking officers.”

                        “They won’t get me though,” said Klyder, loading a shredder pistol, “I’d rather blow us all up then fall into their hands, to reveal everything I know about InEn’s defensive system…I must do it, for the good of the colony...we'll get wiped out otherwise...boy is InEn going to hear a mouthful from the Terrans…never going to hear an end to it.” A bolt of energy suddenly cut through the door as the three officers decided to get behind the huge metal table on which the holo-map was set. The doors were suddenly blown open, probably by several concussion grenades. Klyder shot down the first man to enter, a Morganite private, probably not more than 20. The Lieutenant greeted a second Morganite in the same way. The next thing to enter the Command Nexus was a grenade. The explosion did little damage to anyone, or anything.

                        “Stop that, you fool,” cried a Morganite officer, “we want to get some prisoners, and to preserve the Command Nexus itself. We’ll have to storm the room.” That’s exactly what they did. About a dozen Morganites, armed to the teeth burst into the room. Brigadier Kingson was among them. Marmion soon ran in after them. “Surrender!” cried Kingson. Keeler attempted to shoot him, but missed by inches, instead putting a hole through the wall, inches away from the Brigadier’s skull. Unfortunately, one of the Morganites took this rather badly and fired his shredder pistol directly at the Lieutenant’s chest. Kraus was propelled backwards into a wall. Keeler tossed his pistol aside and put his hands in the air.

                        “OK, now you,” said the Brigadier, gesturing toward Klyder. There were tears in Klyder's eyes. He seemed to be a clutching a photograph of a family in one hand, and something small and round in the other. His pistol was on the floor beside him. As several Morganite soldiers came around to take him, the table seemed to explode, the Morganite soldiers fell back, one of them was dead. Klyder had been true to his word. He’d detonated a grenade rather than be captured and forced to reveal all. Marmion felt sick to his stomach once more.

                        “You boys go on, please do try and not kill the Magistrate, please,” said Marmion, sitting down. He was certain of one thing, Callisto was now Morganite territory.

                        FROM GENERAL MARMION, CALLISTO


                        I am pleased to report that Callisto is ours. Full report to follow.

                        Last edited by History Guy; April 10, 2002, 12:14.
                        Empire growing,
                        Pleasures flowing,
                        Fortune smiles and so should you.


                        • #27
                          Location: Nova Saturna HQ

                          She could feel the tension in the dark Command Nexus. All eyes were fixed on the big holoscreen that was floating in the centre of the room. It was showing the battle and siege of Callisto. Maria swallowed and felt guilty. Guilty of betraying the people of Sol. She had this feeling ever since they sold the InEn security data to Morgan, who paid a hefty price indeed. The screen switched to an intercepted news report. Maria couldn’t concentrate as the voice of the speaker went on.

                          “The colony was practically besieged by the technologically mighty Morganite forces… no one knows how they got past the InEn codes and security interlocks… traitors are rumoured-“

                          “Stop!” she shouted out, and the screen went back to statistics. Most bowed their heads in reflection while others looked at Maria for an explanation. She swallowed again, unnoticeably, and spoke in a firm voice, crucial to healthy leadership:

                          “Sacrifices are necessary. The colony was the source of command of our enemies, InEn. As Sun Tzu stated, “Never enter a war unless there is something to be gained”. We have something to gain – freedom, from the tyrannical rule of the amoral EC. That was my promise to you from the beginning, and I shall uphold it until my last breath is drawn,” she paused. This seemed to lift up the morale in the room, as everyone looked up, as if looking into their dream, a wonderful dream of independence.

                          “To freedom!” she stood up and cried.

                          “To freedom, oh our great Queen!” they rejoiced. Maria smiled and sat. One of her agents approached her.

                          “What is it officer Myodin?”

                          “Your Highness, another Belter clan wished to accept our offer. Shall we proceed?” he asked. His uniform was black with cyan and silver streaks.

                          “Proceed officer. Have the ships arrived?”

                          “Yes Our Queen, the purchased battle cruisers are fully in our service, currently ordered to avoid detection,” he placed his left hand on his ear for a second and announced another news: “Our Queen, the technicians have finished penetrating through the orbital cannon systems. On screen now.”

                          Maria looked in front as the 3D holo-image of the cannon appeared. It was like a giant black ball with three grey rods sticking out at the “bottom”, facing Titan. The InEn and EC, to control drone riots using highly unorthodox methods, and locate and destroy Nova Saturna outposts on surface, manufactured this. It was locked up after the government shift on Earth, and hidden in high orbit. Now, as Jonas Ray, sent the other part of the data stolen, they hacked inside it and brought it online. The beast was active again, floating about above their orange world.

                          An engineer’s face popped up on the side: “Our Queen shall we modify the cannon to be used as a space-to-space weapon or shall we leave it to help us strike on-ground targets?”

                          “We do not want any further ground damage. And besides, if the InEn or EC send ships, this should shake them off. Proceed with modifications.”

                          “Yes Our Queen,” and the head disappeared. The holo-image appeared to change and the three rods repositioned themselves on different points, towards space, rather that concentrating all three on one ground target. “Nothing is more satisfying than using the enemy’s ways against them”, she thought. The agent next to her, still standing, listened to his ear once more and confirmed:

                          “Modifications in place and weapons on stand-by. There are no enemy targets present, since InEn are heavily engaging the Morganities. Only other ships in the area belong to the Belters and the TAF, who we thing will stay neutral, at least for now.”

                          “Excellent officer, dismissed,” and the agent walked away. Maria got out of her seat and walked over to one of the nodes in the corner of the room, where some agents were busily carrying out various operations on ground. She tapped one woman with one long blond braid and young blue eyes met her glance.

                          “Shimei, has our guest been greeted?”

                          “On-ground agents are about to engage the subjects, Your Highness,” the woman spoke. She wore a grey uniform, with comm attachments to her left ear. She lifted a finger in mid-air and the node translated and showed a picture of two people at a table in the holo-bar. There were two supposed body guards standing around, but their agenda was to follow their coming Queen, not necessary to protect their Magistrate. The camera zoomed in and there was Nicholas’ face, his eyes piercing through as if he looked straight ahead at Maria.

                          “Prepare to engage,” the blond agent issued an order. Maria hoped she could reason with this man. After all, he’s an academic from Mars, a first non-Earther Magistrate. And in his published work suggests a soul sympathetic to their cause. At least she hoped so.


                          Location: Hilton Holobar, Horizon Aida Base

                          Nicholas felt like he was watched, and this time, it did not feel like the colonial AI. She-, “it” had been switched off for maintenance, and he was partially pleased. He sat at a handcrafted chair, at a marble table, with a woman he knew ever since their crèche days. This was Anita Delitz, Titan Economics Advisor. She had short and slightly spiky black hair and emerald green eyes. She wore a grey and black business suit, and high-healed shoes were at the tips of her crossed legs. Her cosmetically rose-red lips moved smoothly as she spoke:

                          “… And the economy minister of Earth says I’m not doing my job properly! Well you tell me how am I supposed to function in this mess of a world… Nicholas? Nikos?” that was her nickname for him. He turned instantly, and had a warm smile on his face.

                          “What were you thinking about?” she leaned forward and licked her lips. The holographic image of the stream nearby was almost undistinguishable from the real thing, even the sound of it, which seemed to distract the two. Nicholas looked straight into her eyes:

                          “About this being the first time I’ve seen you since my arrival here,” they smiled and he put his hands over hers. Anita giggled.

                          “Well… it’s been a long time since we’ve-“

                          “Excuse me sir, you have an emergency call,” she was interrupted as one of the guards stood next to Nicholas. “You have to come immediately, sir”

                          “Not now! Can’t you see I’m busy?!” Nicholas snapped and the other “guard” approached Anita.

                          “I’m afraid we must insist, sir. Orders are orders,” the one beside Nicholas pressed a metallic object to his back and same was dome to Anita.

                          “What is this? Whose orders!?!” he was furious.

                          “Our Queen, Maria Sanchez, sir. Surely you’ve heard, scanning through all those security files. We made sure you knew.”


                          Location: Nova Saturna Meeting Room

                          Nicholas and Anita were told to wait in the chamber, where holograms were fully animated, ”for their entertainment”. None of them felt hurt in any way, in fact their treatment was proper, except for the initial “persuasion”. The seats were made of original leather and the single armchair, handmade out of natural wood, imported from Earth, was opposite them. The holographic scenery was animated with trees, flowers and birds chirping about. There was even the salty scent of Mediterranean Sea. It reminded Anita of her last temporary workplace, Italy. The distractions died away as their host appeared, closely followed by her two personal guards, Titania and Oberon, who both looked out of the ordinary. Titania had scaly yellow-green, reptilian-looking skin, no hair and seemed very muscular. Her tallow eyes throbbed you as she starred. Oberon seemed to be the ultimate blend of man and machine. A helmet full of wires and connections covered his upper head and an optic device replaced his right eye. He wore a sort of armour and seemed to glow faintly in blue energy. His face was uncovered and it remained black and neutral throughout the conversation.

                          Maria sat in the armchair and her two most loyal officers were at her sides. She wore brown-yellow clothing and her curly black hair hung freely on her shoulders. When she spoke, her voice held no arrogance and disrespect.

                          “My dear guests, I wish you an honoured welcome. I’m sure it was under these circumstances but matters call for such measures.”

                          “If you’ll introduce yourself-“ Anita started but Nicholas broke off.

                          “I know of her. She, Maria Sanchez, is the leader of the Titan people’s rebel movement, familiar as nova Saturna,” at this Anita was satisfied. She felt sympathy with their cause, seeing this as a parallel of Mars’ independence. Nicholas felt uneasy however. “I must let you know Miss Sanchez, I cannot condone the illegal acts your movement has committed-“

                          “Illegal? How do you buy freedom today, my dear Magistrate?” she asked wryly.

                          “By committing yourself to terrorism?” at this Maria’s eyes flashed.

                          “Terrorism? How can you call us terrorists?! I carry out nothing more than the will of my people. You are from Mars, how did you gain independence? Don’t tell me you simply signed a peaceful pink-ribboned treaty straight away?”

                          “She has a point Nicholas,” Anita started. Nicholas gave her a surprised glance. “You probably know the rumours of the atrocities EC committed against these people.”

                          “Sure, sure, a whole floating cannon of those,” he responded sarcastically.

                          “You mean you don’t know? Right. I’ll show you what out technicians managed to do with your ‘rumour’,” her right hand did a particular movement and the screen in that direction changed to orbital attack view – the orbital cannon was active and in orbit around Titan. Nicholas gasped.

                          “Zoom in,” she said and the holo-image swelled up. “This was originally used by the past Magistrates to pick ground settlements of their ‘enemy’. This meant all those opposing EC, including women and children of men who cherished freedom. Our own outposts were threatened until the Terran shift in government, when you were meant to arrive. Ex-magistrate Jessin disabled it upon your arrival, and we gladly waited for that.”

                          “So… if this mega-rumour is true, the others… about nerve-stapling, assassinations…” he gasped as Maria nodded. Her left hand moved and her left side showed various photos, data and statistics.

                          “Roger Garishaw, leader of Rhea Worker’s union – dead. Gabrielle Macy, head of Democratic Opposition of Titan – dead…” and she went through dozens of names.

                          “Please, you’ve proven you point, why do you need me?” he asked and then noticed that the image centred was subscripted ‘Alberto Sanchez’. “Isn’t that…” he started but cut off as he saw Maria close her eyes foe a second and nod.

                          “I... I need you to announce our independence to the universe. If you do so, you’ll be offered the position of Psych and Populance minister, and you friend here, a marvellous economic, will, if she wishes so, be appointed Head of Economic Ministries,” Anita gasped excitedly. “Don’t worry, your friend, Dr. Samato Tanaka, has accepted the offer of being the Research and Development Minister,” she paused and smiled. “You are a well known figure throughout the Sol system. Your publications on psychology and philosophy are well noted. Your presence in my council would boost the people’s morale, as well as it would attract fellow people of Sol to migrate to our world. What do you say?”

                          Nicholas was startled. He looked at Anita for suggestions but she just smiled and slowly nodded. He stood up and walked over to Maria.

                          “Offer accepted, from where shall I broadcast?”
                          ... This body holding me reminds me of my own mortality...
                          ... Pain is an illusion...


                          • #28
                            New Israel Speaker's Villa Two men sat at the edge of the pool. The table they were using for a work station was cluttered with hard copies of reports of the mop up of the HOG forces in the New Israel system. 3 days before, an Conclave destroyer followed an HOG corvette to its home base. Within hours the entire Temple Guard fleet within New Israel was on it, marines managed to board the base and capture several high
                            ranking officials. With this and the other victories that had been occurring in the war against the fundamentalists the Speaker's poll numbers were up in the heavens so to speak. But his mind however was on the one bit of data the public hadn't found out about that could cost him and his party and alliances the next election, the budget.To fund his war against the HOG, the Speaker managed to get use the one of the mining stations as
                            opposition against the buildup off the fleet. He had told the investors that once the HOG was gone the spaceways through to the 2 worlds of the Conclave would be more profitable. Now its was time to start repayment and the money brought in by trade wasn't enough to keep the mining station. So he called up his Marshall (who was his sounding board and the only person he knew who wouldn't try to stab him in the back) and began
                            working on his plan to save the mining station and if it worked get some more money to build up another colony world if possible.

                            Hall of Elders Conclave voting room
                            "The Speaker of the Conclave hereby submits SC Bill 103, short name "Solider of God". Without any objection I will read the bill, and with the current wartime rules of orders we will begin debate on this bill by tomorrow and end no latter by next tuesday at 3:50 PM." The Speaker pro temp announced out loud to the assembled Members of Conclave. The MOC already had a copy of the bill for a week now and the back room wheeling and dealing had already assured its passage. Looking at the holo of some of the unhappy faces, Martin Keenes smiled. It was a good sign that things went smoothly the way they did. The opposition party would of loved a chance to nail him to the cross, with
                            the way he was spending money to go against the HOG (which had suspected had infiltrated them quite a while ago) but was forced to do it, in such a way that any attempted by them to spill the beans about how he managed to build all those new shinny
                            warships without going over budget would of meant the political death of them as well as him. No what he had to worry about was some new MOC from his party who felt morally obligated to tell the press and step away himself from the whole mess instead of going with such an questionable bill that involved the draft. Marshall Mathews told him not to touch the fleet, but use the ground forces and maybe some of the smaller escort carriers
                            and destroyers for orbital support with his plan.It was simple, every major group and some of the larger minor ones, would get a message. It would be a simple business deal. For
                            paying off the bills the faction who hired them would get 8 divisions worth of ground troops, their transports and the escorts for the transports for a period of 2.5 Earth years. Plus with the war going with Morgan, and the chilled relations the Spartans and the Hive, one of those factions would be bound to want to hire them. Plus he was already working on smaller package for groups that needed regiment or single division sized troops to
                            garrison for them. And with how his people were and how his PR mangers (who were already working the crowds) they would feel that they would be doing the Conclave a favor and feel good about giving back to the Church State they were born into. And with HOG looking like it would be on its last leg, he could maybe create a way that the Conclave would be able to make good money and build enough for 2 colony's in the near future.He would just have to wait and find out who would be the first to take the offer.

                            Edit, corrected major errors,
                            Last edited by Silence; January 16, 2002, 11:17.
                            "I do think that it is important to realize that wars are ugly and vile and that there better be a damned good reason for getting involved in one. Because the price for somebody is going to be very, very high."

                            David Weber


                            • #29

                              Syrma. The Spartan Home System: Spartan Military Station Laconia

                              Marcus Kessel was standing in a side room adjoined to the command center of station Laconia looking out as another system patrol craft slowly pulled out of the stations docking arm. It would join it’s three comrades to their patrol sector most likely near the asteroid belt. As Kessel studied the newly repaired ship, the door to the room chimed announcing that someone was there. He reluctantly commanded the computer to open the door and allow the intruder to enter. As he turned around he was pleasantly surprised to find that it was major Castor that was there, but soon saw the seriousness of the expression on her face.

                              “Sir, we have reports that the Morganites have taken Callisto in a very daring raid into the heart of the Sol system. Our agents there have reported heavy casualties on both sides, but say that the Morganites have indeed secured the moon for themselves.”

                              “What was the Terran response to all of this?”

                              “It is hard to determine right now. One of our agents was injured in the fighting and has failed to report in. Our other agent on Callisto has reported that their were many casualties from both sides, but the Morganites have gained control of most of the facilities. For now there have been no attempts to retake the moon. It appears that the Morganites may have tried a diversionary raid while their main force landed, and after a hard fought battle, subdued the InEn security force.”

                              Kessel sat down at the desk and processes the information that was coming to him.

                              “The Terrans will try and retake the moon as soon as they can. This will prove disastrous to them if they allow the Morgans to stay on Callisto for too long. How large was the Morganite force?”

                              “The first agent was only able to transmit the conformation that the Morganites had indeed landed. He is either wounded or in Morganite custody. The second agent was present in the command center and later transmitted information suggesting around 20,000 or as high as 60,000 Morganite troops. She has since been observing silence procedures, and is expected to report back when conditions permit it.”

                              “Advice her to remain blended in. She is to remain a Terran citizen for the time being. Contact Admiral Paiktis and order him to reform his fleet. He is to begin preparations to move out of Formalhaut and move his fleet closer towards the Sol system. Make sure that he knows not to engage anyone. He should position himself close to the Morganite Industrial Systems in case there is some kind of attack there. He is to then wait until he is signaled.”

                              “Understood sir.”

                              “One more thing. Effective immediately, all ships entering a Spartan system are to be scanned. Not just random scans, all ships. Inform the system governors of the security upgrade and prepare an announcement to be sent to all other governments. I am authorizing the Spartan Navy to begin preparing mothballed ships for active service. Sparta will be ready for anything the Terrans or the Hive can produce. And contact Dawn. Tell her it is time to pull her teams together. They will be expected to begin two operations in the next weeks time.”

                              “It will be done Sir”
                              Announcement From Spartan Federation
                              To all Recognized Governments

                              Effective immediately any and all vessels entering a Spartan system will be scanned without exception. Any ship that does not comply does so at their own risk.

                              To: Morgan Interstellar and Drone Republic
                              From: Colonel Marcus Kessel.

                              I am initiating security measures designed to limit the dangers posed by the current conflict between Morgan Interstellar and forces of InEn and possible threats from other sources. I assure you that the measures taken will not be in violation of our numerous standing treaties. I ask for your cooperation and urge you to take similar measures. Kessel out.

                              Ironholm: Ironholm System

                              The once empty and peaceful planet was a busy place with construction and the sound of planetary jets patrolling the vast skies. The three Marine bases were now filled to capacity as a hundred thousand Spartan Marines went about putting the finishing touches of the planets defenses. The orbital batteries had been in place for a week now. And the ground based batteries were just now coming online. Meanwhile back in space, System Patrol Crafts were forming up and heading out to their new patrol routes. The Spartan Fleet Aztec had left the system as soon as the last of the SPC’s and Apex heavy fighters had been delivered. As ordered, the fleet moved out of the system to remain near the new border. Spartan Scout ships scoured the new borders for hidden Hive ships. Spreading a fine stream of ionized gas in predetermined locations looking for any disturbances that might indicate a hidden vessel. When those duties were completed the fleet split into two parts. With the Spartan Carrier commanding Aztec 1 and the Communications ship Balmorra leading Aztec 2. Aztec 2 plotted a course that would take it back into the heart of the Spartan Federation but, as preplanned, changed course and returned back by another route and took up position in the newly named Kell Nebula. The maneuvers took all of three days to complete. In this time Aztec 1 patrolled right up against the new Hive border. Briefly sending a unmanned probes into Hive territory. Officers from the Marines, Navy and Army began preparing their men for combat. There was an air of anticipation in their ranks. For those that had seen combat before, it was as natural as breathing. For those that were too young to remember large scale combat, they eagerly awaited their chance to become initiated the ranks of the Spartan Elites.
                              Last edited by Sprayber; January 16, 2002, 01:57.
                              Which side are we on? We're on the side of the demons, Chief. We are evil men in the gardens of paradise, sent by the forces of death to spread devastation and destruction wherever we go. I'm surprised you didn't know that. --Saul Tigh


                              • #30
                                Heavy Cruiser Liberty Bell, above MI-35, the Bree Fringe

                                Captain Albert Franco listened impassively to the audio message. The voice was strong, authoritative. In his left ear, he heard one of the sensor officers telling him that they could not get a bearing on the transmitter. As the message looped back to the beginning, Franco nodded to the communications board.

                                "Broadcast this message on all audio channels," he ordered. "Sender of message, identify yourself immediately and show your location. Do not attempt to interfere."

                                "Aye, sir."

                                He returned his attention to the sensor readouts. Nearly half an hour earlier they had detected the signature of Bree ships at the Oort radius from the star. Three frigates had gone to investigate. They showed up as red on the captain's display, but there was no sign of the aliens.

                                As Franco pondered that oddity, his communications officer shouted, panic invading her voice, "Sir! Urgent transmission from the planet!"

                                A man came on the channel, static cutting and distorting his voice. "- under attack," he said. " - Bree assault - numbers suggest - urgent!"

                                "Red alert," Franco ordered. An alarm sounded and the bridge crew moved purposefully to their battle stations. The captain punched an intercom link. "Prepare the gravships for insertion," he barked.

                                Franco felt like kicking himself. The Bree ships had in all likelihood been ghosts, decoys to distract the task force from the ground attack. And with three frigates at the Oort radius, the transports were suddenly looking very vulnerable . . .
                                Last edited by Mr. President; December 26, 2003, 02:17.
                                Everything changes, but nothing is truly lost.