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Beyond Alpha Centauri :::

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  • Hive VII Fleet
    Omega IX system, Hive fleet

    Admiral Trassk barked out orders as alarm klaxons blared throughout the bridge. The Drone fleet's incursion into Hive space set off alarms throughout the sector. Cloaked satellites which monitored ship movements triggered when the Drones entered into Hive space.

    The Drones arrival into Omgea IX's system abruptly ended Trassk and her fleets orders to level the planet. Trassk instead ordered the fleet to drop their virobombs on the planet while simultaneously ordering the fleet to begin offensive maneurvers. To distract the Drones, she commanded a few ships to attack, acting as cannon fodder so the main fleet could begin battleplans.

    Trassk spoke with the calm demeanor that the Hive was infamous for.

    "Scramble the fighters. Order the carriers to empty their hangar bays. No reserves."

    Moments later, the fleet's three carriers began to spill their deadly cargo into space. Hundreds of ships poured out of the hangars like angry insects stirred from their nest. The fighters and bombers swarmed around their carriers, waiting for their attack orders.

    Trassk paced the command deck with the air of superiority.

    "I want our frigates and smaller craft as the first wave, followed by the corvettes. The carriers and this battlecruiser will be the final wave."

    Officers around the bridge began relaying the admirals orders to the ships in the fleet. Even in an urgent situation like this, the Hive's reputation of calm under pressure showed throughout the personnel...a nod to their training and socialization.

    Efficiency before Emotion

    The VII fleet slowly shifted from an orbital bombardment position of Omega IX, to an enormous mass of ships. The few Hive ships sent as cannon fodder were nearly on top of the Drones advance ships.

    Trassk stared through the viewport and at the mass of Drone ships ahead.

    "Order the fighters and bombers to engage the Drones. The order the first wave to attack."

    Hive Fighter Squadron SY-12
    Pilot X-4218 (Nelson, Human)
    Pilot X-4219 (Sliim, Xiero)

    Nelson engaged the trhusters of his fighter into full burn. Seconds ago, the wing commander ordered all fighters to engage the Drones.

    Even in a zero-gravity environment, Nelson felt the surge as the acceleration kicked in.

    His Xiero co-pilot, observed and monitored the information coming into them. Sliim kept Hive protocol of non-individual designation as he spoke to Nelson.

    "X-4218, multiple readings on radar. Diversionary Hive ships are all destroyed. Computer estimates indicate Drone ships are heavily armored. Coordinated attacks are recommended."

    Nelson nodded. From what it seemed, the Hive diversionary ships seemed to have knocked out one Drone ship, but the rest were barely scratched from that assault. Nelson understood that the patrol craft sent to distract the Drone ships weren't meant for full scale battle, but he wished they did a bit more damage.

    "Co-Pilot X-4219, arm missiles."

    Just before Sliim could ackowledge, the wing commander's voice filled the channel.

    "All pilots, command indicates that these ships have engaged with 6 Hive corvettes on our border. They estimate that a few of these ships may be damaged from that engagement. Visual contact with any Drone ship that is damaged, we are ordered to launch all missiles at target, then ram it."

    Nelson nodded in affirmation, "Confirmed, Command."

    One of the ships just ahead of him looked like the hull was slightly damaged.

    "Co-pilot, missiles online?"


    Nelson launched his payload and watched as the missles collided with the Drone vessel. Dodging the flak from the Drone ships, Nelson kicked the accelerator into full burn, directly into the Drone ship....
    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


    • Nuevo San Antonio

      "All Opposed..." Came the Speaker's graverly Voice. There was a hint of dispair in it. In fact, most of the politicos weren't even trying to hide their dispair. They were taking part in the destruction of their Political System...

      "The Constitutional Amendment has passed, it will now be submitted to the Governor-Generals for vote..."

      Onate snarled and hit the "mute" button on the Vid. He was the Head of Ubiqtorate, the Protectorate's Special Services Department. With him in the room were Wrug Ved, Commerce Minister, Nishant Koklasklar, War Minister, General of the Armies Matt McCarthy, and head of the Metasensory Regulation Administration, Joshua Creedon. Of the five, he was the most discerning to be with in the room. Kolasklar spoke first.

      " We know how Yoon did it?"

      Onate waved at Creedon, who nodded with a slight smile. He tapped a button, and in the center of the table a Holo of a Hferhin appeared. Creedon spoke, in the same patronizing voice all Teeps seemed to have.

      "Senator Yoon had some friends from out of town help convince the more important members of the senate to vote his way. We now know there are at least 30 Hferhin on Beta Hydri4, and we've found a handful on other planets in the system. It was pure luck we found them, really. One of my Ghosts who had experience with Proginator mental shields came across one following Yoon. From there we expanded our survallence. Even now, the Superb is tracking what appears the commandship for the Hferhin mission, near Nova Albion and quite within the System defense network."

      McCarthy was steadily growing redder throughout the monologue. "That...that rat Bastard sold us out to the Hferhin? Why? Obviously, he wants to take The Office, but what do the Hferhin have to gain from it? Everything the Dosi tell us indicates the Hferhin could knock us flat, just if the Dosi decided to do the same to us. It makes no sense."

      "I know it doesn't." Onate spoke, his anger was now under control. "That's why we have teams in Place. We..."

      "Governor Pedri is speaking." Ved said.

      The Elderly Governor-General of Arlingotn County was one of the 200 remaining Endeavor colonists, and was much loved by the Public. Today he seemed livid.

      "The council of Governor-Generals has a response to the Senate. No. Not just No, but Hell no! This is an attempt to usurp..."

      There was a Cheer going up in the cabinet room. The ISN narrator reported that Senator Yoon already had a counterstatement ready.

      Yoon's snakey visage appeared on the vid. Creedon seemed to be stareing intently at the space immediately behind Yoon, and to the right. Onate wondered if he could see something they couldn't.

      "I'm afraid that, in the interests of Democracy, we cannot allow the Political Appointees of a Dictator decide how we run our Country. The Senate is ready to support freedom and democracy in the interests of our people. We therefore call upon the Armed Services of the Protectorate of Man to prepare to defend the elected government of the citizenry...."

      McCarthy turned to Onate and Creedon. "Your Teams...."

      "Already moving." Creedon murmered. His voice seemed far away. The vid went staticy, and ISN reported some sort of distrubance at both the Senate and the Chamber of Governor-Generals.

      A youthful 1st Lt. came running in.

      "Sir, the Superb is being engaged by the Hferhin vessel...and the Iron Duke is moving to intercept."

      Nova Albion Orbit

      The Hferhin Vessel came around again, blasting it's Q-Beams at the Superb. The damn thing had already withstood a full forward blast of the Superbs Fusion Lasers, but it had shielding similiar to the Dosi's or the Proginators, and had managed to shrugg off most of the hit... The Valkyries Harried the Hferhin vessel, while the Gargantuan Goliath class Battleship manuevered to fire it's main Particle Cannons. At less than 6 kilometers, the Superb fired it's Plasma Shard Buckshot, which seemd to have gained a lucky hit. The Hferhin vessel was slowing down, and within seconds the Superb's Particle cannons would reduce it to stray atoms.

      The Comms Officer glanced at the CO. "Sir, incoming message from Admiral Farwell on the Iron Duke."

      "Put him on."

      Superb This is Iron Duke. You are ordered to stand down and allow the Hferhin vessel to escape. I say again, you are ordered to stand down, and allow the Hferhin vessel to escape.

      The Superb's CO had been in the fleet for almost 40 yrs, this was his third command. Suddenly, in one blinding insight, all the strange news and politics were making sense. My God, what's going to Happen to us?

      "Negative Iron Duke! Tactical, Particle Cannons, full ...."

      "Sir! The Iron Duke is firing her PCs!"



      Protectorate News Service wire report

      (Nova Albion)

      For the first time since the early days of the New Europa Uprising, Protectorate vessels fired on one another. Commercial MV FRONTIER reported to PNS that the Goliath-class Battleship HPS SUPERB engaged a Hferhin vessel shortly after The Senate declared it had control of the government. Another vessel, the HPS IRON DUKE, apperently the flagship of Home Fleet CinC Admiral Farwell, opened fire and destroyed the SUPERB. Vice Admiral Harms of the Beta Hydri 5 Flotilla ordered all ships under her command to ignore orders from the Home Fleet until the Political situation could be clarified on BH4. The Senate then ordered Harms to return to Home Fleet control.

      Harms has refused. Everyone from Newstations to amateur subspace radio operators are reporting the Home fleet is prepareing to attack the small, 40 ship Flotilla in orbit of Beta Hydri 5. There is no word yet as to what Dr. Henry Pym's reaction to all this is, or even if he's aware of it.

      Today, you are the waves of the Pacific, pushing ever eastward. You are the sequoias rising from the Sierra Nevada, defiant and enduring.


      • The Dragon Wakes

        Franco stared in bewilderment as several medium-sized Hive ships charged directly into his flotilla's line of fire, but understanding gradually dawned as Hive fighters poured forth like a plague of locusts.

        "My God," he muttered. "That thing doesn't look like a carrier!" He gestured at his comms officer. "That request for reinforcements?" he began. "Send it now!" he finished.

        The message would take hours to get there. But it only took seconds for the diversionary ships to fire on the advancing Drone vessels, severing the main power conduit on DRS Harold Jarvis. Then the fighters were upon them.

        "Weapons on wide array," Franco ordered. "Fire at will!"

        A handful of his people's torpedoes found their mark, but more missed. The Hive fighters darted between the lumbering Drone capital ships like vengeful mosquitoes, chipping away at their hulls.

        Actually, Franco realized, some of the "fighters" were probably bombers, because they were firing more in a more ventral than frontal fashion, and their payloads were clearly much larger. And, if he magnified the view on his MMI, he could see that they were actually a different shape.

        But there was no time to think about that now, because the Liberty Bell's proximity sensor had just triggered. Franco focused on the violated region and saw a flashing Hive fighter icon - it had already fired!

        "Brace for impact!" he ordered, and an instant later the entire ship rocked. Alert messages poured into Franco's MMI, threatening to overwhelm his senses. Then the safety systems kicked in, and he could see again.

        "This is all we need -" he started to complain, when an Impact Detected! message overlayed onto his tactical layout.

        "That son of a . . ." Franco sputtered. "He rammed us! Damage report?"

        "It's bad, sir," his operations officer replied. "Full breach on hull sector four. We are losing atmosphere on deck eight. The power conduit is fluctuating and we have no more suspension, at all."

        We're dead. "Change of plans," Franco said, and he hoped he sounded confident. Silently he cursed the Hive carriers. A few of the frigates carried three fighters on board. They would not make a drop in this ocean.

        "I want a turtle formation," he ordered. We're going to trade blows with them, Franco thought grimly, until the reinforcements arrive or until we can't fight any more. "Order the flotilla to hold the formation and hold its ground. If we're going to hell, we're taking them all with us!"

        As his crew rushed to comply, Franco watched the main part of the Hive fleet coming about to face him . . .
        Everything changes, but nothing is truly lost.


        • Geneva Coliseum
          Terra, Sol System

          A long table sat at the center of the coliseum, surrounded with several tens of thousands of seats filled with humans.

          A large structure hung overhead, with distinctive lettering that read "Geneva Blitzball Stadium". The structure, upon activation, shimmered to life. Millions of gallons of water swirled around, forming a beautiful floating sphere of crystal clear water.

          Music could be heard wafting throughout the arena, a mixture of jazz and country music. The music coasted to a stop, as two figures emerged from opposite sides of the arena.

          The figure walking in from the right wore an uniform of navy blue with golden trimmings, along with a white overcoat. The figure approaching from the left wore an dark blue uniform with silver insignia.

          The two figures took measured strides along the long red carpet, and after a tense minute of silence, both figures approached the table at the same time.

          The right figure was the first to speak.

          "Hello, citizens of Humanity. It is I, Academician Zakharov. We have come here to witness a historic treaty between the University Alliance, and the Protectorate of Man.

          The man to my right is Lord Protector Henry Pym, the leader of the Protectorate of Man. Please give him a warm welcome."

          Henry Pym spoke.

          "It is with great pleasure that I am able to come here, to meet the Academician in person, and to ratify the treaty that will give each of us a better understanding of each other."

          The Academician smiled, and beckoned towards the table. Both powerful men sat down, side to side, facing a sheet of paper, with an old fashioned feather pen.

          The Academician spoke once again.

          "I thereby acknowledge the points provided within the treaty, with all the benefits and rights thereof. The University Alliance shall acknowledge total diplomacy, establish an embassy, and open full trade relations with the Protectorate of Man. May both nations live well."

          The Academician took the feather pen, and stamped the first of two historic signatures upon the sheet of paper.

          Academician Randius Zakharov

          He returned the pen to its holder, and nodded to Henry Pym.

          Pym smiled and began his address.

          "As the leader of the Protectorate of Man, it's my hope that in the coming weeks, months, and years, both nations will avoid any misunderstandings. The Protectorate of Man formally opens total diplomacy, an embassy, and full trade relations with the University Alliance."

          Henry Pym took the feather pen, and added his signature, the seconf of the two historical signatures to the sheet of paper.

          Lord Protector Henry Pym

          The arena erupted in cheers.

          Billions of holo-vision viewers throughout the Human Sector watched the treaty signing, the highest watched event in recent memory.

          The two leaders stood up, and faced each other. They shook hands, resulting in another round of cheer. Both men faced towards a third red carpet and exit. They walked side to side towards the exit, as equals.

          Upon the exit of both men, the floating sphere of water took on a navy blue hue, then a emerald hue, before reverting back to its original crystal clear state.

          Several hours later

          The Academician sat in his chair, and let out a long drawn out sigh.

          Finally. I can focus more on my short term plans, now that the Protectorate is out of my hair for the time being.

          His eyes drifted towards a sector lying between the Sol system and the main University regions, on the floating holo-map.
          Geniuses are ordinary people bestowed with the gift to see beyond common everyday perceptions.


          • ISN News

            MATTHEW HESS: This is Matthew Hess, of the Intersteller Network. We apologize for this interruption of our normal broadcast, but we have a camera crew on scene in orbit of Beta Hydri 5. As you can see...

            * two dozen or so large Protectorate capital ships engageing each other. Emerald blots of other ships remain in the background, not engaging *

            ... Several Home Fleet vessels, including the Iron Duke are engaging the BH5 Flotilla under Vice Admiral Harms, who is commanding from her ship Surt. Admiral Farwell has ordered the Protectorate Starfleet to submit to Senate control. Refusals from several high level commanders, from VADM Harms to Fleet Admiral Fel have been forthcoming. You can see that the most local flag officer...oh!

            * Iron Duke and Endurance destroy the battleship Eagle*

            ...Most of the fleet is actually sitting out...I think we see the Surt trying to activate her Star Drive and escape, the Intrepid and Thiazi appear to be covering her retreat.....

            * wispy smoke of a Hyperdrive activation is visible on viewer, other BH5 Flotilla ships follow, Intrepid is destroyed as the Utgard-Loki fires main particle cannons*

            ...It appears the ships under Harms' command are escaping. It's worth noting the vast majority of the home fleet did not engage on either side...we're getting word now that the Governor-Generals on BH3 that did not submit to senate authority are having their capitals bombed using Valkyrie atmospheric capable starfuries. The Planetary Guard of BH3 have sortied needlejets to intercept I...oh Good Lord...

            *Planet Buster detonation from cameraview of downtown La Jolla on BH3*

            ...It appears that Yoon's forces are not holding back any longer....


            Earth Orbit

            "Oakenshield exiting hyperspace, she's taking up a escort position. If the UA doesn't know something's up, they sure as Hell do now."

            Pym merely nodded, knowing that within a few seconds they'd get a query by UA authorities asking what the hell a Protectorate light crusier was doing showing up unanounced. The signing of the treaty had gone off without a hitch. But upon his return to the Riothamus, he'd heard the news. Worse, none of the cabinet on BH4 had been reached. While Admiral Fel, the Supreme Commander of the Protectorate Expeditionary Force, had already contacte dhim and conveyed his intention to support the constitution, things were still grim.

            "Sir, we're being hailed by Zalharov."

            "In my cabin." Pym walked out of CIC, and walked up several ladderwells to his stateroom. Zakharov's face was on the viewer, inscrutable.

            Probably wondering if it was smart signing a treaty with a potentially desposed leader

            "Can I help you, Randius?"

            "Hank, I have a few questions. First, what is that light crusier doing here, and second, does it have anything to do with newstories we are recieving at our listening posts?"

            Pym gritted his teeth, looked at Randius' face. It had the same arrogance that Prokhor's did. No time for that, we're all friends here.

            "Obviously, you already know the answer to that Randius."

            Randius nodded thoughtfully.

            "Will you be requireing any assistance?"

            Pym continued to grit his teeth. Not in a million years would I let the UA get a hold over our government. You don't really think we're that stupid, do you? The stress is getting pretty bad...

            "No thank you. We will be leaving shortly for a secure loyalist location. I do appreciate your hospitality while I was here, and still wish to take you up on your offer of a state visit."

            "And I you. Anything else I should know before you leave ?"

            "No." Pym said. He glanced out the viewer that simmed a window, and saw 5 white smokey fields erupt. One Protectorate Battleship, one Battlecrusier, and 3 destroyers entered real space.

            "Well, we were also expecting another escort." Pym added, belatedly.
            Today, you are the waves of the Pacific, pushing ever eastward. You are the sequoias rising from the Sierra Nevada, defiant and enduring.


            • !Mexa!


              "How long have you been flying a shuttle, Dr. Jones?" Gary asked.

              The University scientist laughed, never taking his steely eyes off the command screen. "Since I was, oh, about seven years old. There are more pilot AIs in the Commonwealth than stars in the sky, but this is my one little conceit."

              "Well, you fly very well," Derek offered. "I'm sure you're helped by these clean space lanes."

              Yesterday they had spent some time in Dr. Jones' laboratory. Gary had digested several volumes of research papers, while Derek compared visual records of the Caledon and the Berrik ruins. Some of the same pictograms appeared at both sites, but spelled out different words.

              Dr. Jones said, "The authorities employ about two million self-directed robot probes. They take care of most of the large obstacles. But only on the space lanes. A lot of people enjoy fly-by tours of comets and ice asteroids. Ah, we're almost there."

              The shuttle accelerated somewhat. The centripetal forces would have been much more unbearable had the three men not been strapped into soft synthefoam seats.

              "I apologize for the turbulence," smiled Dr. Jones. "As you've no doubt noticed, I like to initiate parking manually as well."

              The shuttle pulled into an airlock with orange walls and slowed to a halt. Dr. Jones rose from his seat, donning a weatherbeaten leather hat. "Shall we?"
              Everything changes, but nothing is truly lost.


              • Why Can't We Just Get Along?

                Orchard Valley, Firaxis

                "I'm warning you," said Brian, "those political shows make my head hurt. You keep watching that, I'm outta here!"

                "No, no," replied Sam. "It's from the Drone Republic! I'm still hoping for another fistfight." He was referring to a now-infamous incident from the previous year involving a Socialist senator. During a discussion of the education budget, he took exception to a comment by one of his own party's representatives and threw a punch at him. It took fifteen minutes and about a dozen guards to break up the ensuing melee.

                Brian was sceptical. "It better be good."

                Evidently it was Question Time, as a youngish senator in a blue suit was asking a question. "My question is for the Secretary of Defense," he said aggressively. "What is the justification for the Space Marines attempting to deal with the Hive in a piecemeal and haphazard fashion, when everyone knows - everyone . . . hey! Shut up! I didn't interrupt you when you were waffling away up here! When everyone knows, Mr. Secretary, that the Hive has been our Republic's number one enemy since the days of Chiron?"

                "That's Robert Patrick," said Sam. "They're tipping him to be the next Socialist presidential candidate."

                "Wow. It's like a soap opera."

                Several New Republic senators were heckling Patrick aggressively. "Bailiff, please remove Senator Martinez," ordered the adjudicator. "The Secretary of Defense will now answer." Silence gradually fell on the Senate.

                "They have five-minute penalties," said Sam, "like in blitzball."

                Brian shook his head. "What a crazy country."

                "The honorable Senator Patrick," said the Secretary of Defense, "obviously has no idea what it takes to run a war. Presumably this has something to do with the fact that he has never served in the army, unlike myself." Shouting from both parties rose up around him. He continued, "I would have to be an idiot to order an all-out attack on the Hive when even our spies don't know where any of their planets are!"

                Robert Patrick was on his feet again. "Idiotic? You know what's idiotic? It's idiotic to show that you're indifferent or even afraid - yes, afraid! That word isn't too big for you, is it Senator Walker? Afraid of a despotic bully like Emperor Yang."

                "I thought that guy was a Socialist?" said Brian.


                "The people aren't going to stand for the New Republic's timidity much longer. When the workers go into the polling booths in November, they're going to vote for people who are going to defend their rights, and who are going to fight for them, instead of bribing their enemies to leave them alone like one of Morgan's subdivision commandants!"

                "I didn't know you were a clairvoyant, Robert! When are you going to tell the workers how many of their children you're going to draft to spread your revolution throughout the galaxy?"

                "How dare you!" Robert Patrick removed his jacket and threw it onto a table. "Come over here and say that! Sybarite!"



                "Slum lord!"

                Sam said, "Good to see democracy is alive and well in the worker's paradise."
                Everything changes, but nothing is truly lost.


                • Roving

                  Most of the Protectorate Expiditionary Force that had been dispatched to fight the Bree was now in orbit of the Crown Colony. Gathered in the conference room onboard the Riothamus were the twenty Senior loyalist flag Officers available at Hand. Fleet Admiral Fel was briefing the plan to Storm the Beta Hydri system...a feat that would be damned near impossible.

                  The Holoprojection of the BH system showed the huge gravity weels scattered aroung the system, leading only a few safe paths in. "Safe" being a relative term, as each entrance was doubtlessly filled with Billions of Mines by now. There had been a heated discusson as to whether to slog their way through a Gravity Well, or blockade the system, or just plain sit tight and pray for the best.

                  Fel seemed to have something entirely else in mind. He showed an attack route that would take the fleets straight through the densest of Minefields.

                  "Roving, as we all know, is still a devolping colony. There are Hundreds of Massive Conestogas in orbit as we speak. Our proposed plan of to use what capture Bree shield generators we have on hand and..and..Bullrush our way through."

                  Pym leaned forward.

                  "I'm sorry Admiral?"

                  "We are going to attach as many shield generators as possible to as many conestogas as possible, and send them barreling through with the Fleet following."

                  There was a silence in the room, thenGeneral Chiu said, slowly, "Will that work?"

                  "It's the quickest way to break our way in. We know there are still major Planetary Guard Units fighting in the system, and we can use them instead of stripping our occupation forces further."

                  "What about the Cyber-facility on RE123?"

                  "As far as we know...all the plans, hardrives, memory...every thing for the cybers, at all three of our facilities, has been wiped. SOP for emergancy destruction."

                  There was another silence. Then Pym smilied. "Fortunately, that's the sort of thing I carry with me. So, no Cybers?"

                  "None except the ones we got. Want to minimize our casulties..."

                  There was more silence, then General Chiu spoke again.

                  "In the history of bad ideas, this is the worst bad idea."

                  Fel smilied.

                  "You haven't heard all of my ideas..."
                  Today, you are the waves of the Pacific, pushing ever eastward. You are the sequoias rising from the Sierra Nevada, defiant and enduring.


                  • Arlington, Beta Hydri 4

                    One year later…

                    The Office of the Lord Protector shuddered and shook as a gravship flew directly over the temporary Praetorian Palace. “Temporary”, in theory, as Nuevo San Antonio had been destroyed by Yoon while loyalist forces advanced upon the city. The Planet Buster had used a Hypermatter core, and the destruction had been widespread…over 29 million Protectorate citizens had died in that one incident alone.

                    Pym stirred in his chair as the thought drifted over him. He had lost his wife in the war, as well as most of his “Immediate” (with a life span now approaching 700, there were lots of “immediates”) family. He shared the grief the entire Protectorate felt, with nearly 700 million dead, not to mention the 1 million in the “greater purge” and the 50,000 in the “Little purge” that followed. Fortunately, the 50,000 odd recipients of the “Little purge” had been put to good use, resocialized and now happy colonists in the newly acquired Bree holdings. It wasn’t something Pym wanted to do, though…

                    “You worried that it’s something Yang might have done?”

                    Pym looked up and saw Ian McDiarmid standing there, looking 20-something, in blue jeans and a Texas A&M T-shirt. Pym sighed and quietly injected himself with an anti-psychotic. Ian disappeared. Since the destruction of Nuevo San Antonio, Pym had felt himself growing truly old, something which had med him. Growing old and dying had been a phobia of his competitor back on Earth, and the idea of turning into Prokhor Zakharov did not please him that much.

                    “Sir? Important message from the Admiralty. The freighter Edward’s Explorer is under attack by a Nautilus Privateer, the, uh, Teach .”

                    The new War Minister was a young man of 90, taking from a teaching post at the Naval War college. Yoon had killed most of his cabinet, including War Minister Kolsklar. Now he worked with a body of strangers…Pym glanced at the two Rangers that were flanking War Minister Grayson. More Rangers in the building then there had ever been before, not to mention a company of genetically altered star marines on the Grounds. 1 km up was an armory that had a battalion of urban warfare Cybers. Security had been tightened.

                    “Are the, Sea Dragon and Shackleton on station and ready?”

                    “Yes Sir.”

                    “ Then give them the go ahead to destroy it. I tire of those pirates thinking we’re easy pickings because of a little internal disorder. “


                    Morgan Intersteller-Eoforwic Trade Lane

                    Edward’s Explorer

                    The EE was one of the hundreds of thousands of Protectorate fast freighters that had seemingly appeared overnight on the interstellar tradelanes. In the past 6 months, however, pirates and ne’er doers, mostly those affiliated with the Nautilus Syndicate, had preyed upon Protectorate flagged ships on an almost daily basis. The Pirates invariably left no evidence behind, or at least none that could hold up in court.

                    The EE was over a Kilometer long, but the Nautilus Privateer almost matched it. It was, in fact, equipped on par with a pre-fall Earth Light cruiser. There was only one problem:

                    Pre-fall Earth tech lagged far, far behind that of the Protectorate’s Military. The two Ranging destroyers, Sea Dragon and Shackleton decloaked and fired with their fusion and gravity guns. While not as powerful as the Particle cannons used by the regular navy, the eight beams of light that lanced out were more than enough to carve the Teach to ribbons. It’s engines died instantly, and the EE swung around and exposed it’s broadside to the Teach…just long enough for two breaching pods to burst forth and go flying towards the Teach. The Pirates, more used to boarding under armed merchant vessels rather than repelling two dozen armored star marines, lost control of the ship quickly.

                    With a Nautilus Privateer in possession, the case for launching an invasion of the Syndicate had become a slam-dunk one.
                    Today, you are the waves of the Pacific, pushing ever eastward. You are the sequoias rising from the Sierra Nevada, defiant and enduring.