Recall part 3


Rear Admiral
2681.035.0932 - Questions Left Unanswered

Lieutenant Vence awoke somewhat disoriented, still dealing with the comprehension of where he was. How long had he slept? He checked his watch - only four hours. He felt rested enough, though somewhat uneasy. Looking beyond the numbers that told the time, he realised the watch was a gift from his younger brother Justin. He sighed and lowered his hand. There would be time for grief later. Now it was time to concentrate on the matter at hand. Procrastination had its advantages.

The bluish lights of the small room flickered as he sat up on the edge of the bunk. He hadn't even bothered taking off the clean uniform that Lieutenant McCall had given him. Now it was wrinkled, but that didn't seem to matter. It was devoid of any sign of rank, name or decorations - less the ever-present Confederation Navy insignia.

Gordon brushed aside the blanket off his knees and put on his boots. He got up and walked to the door, which slid away with a hiss. Turning left, Gordon headed for the washroom - the only reference point of the ship he knew apart from the hangar. A door slid aside to reveal a clean, well-lit room with a sparkling floor. Gordon approached one of the three wash basins and propped his arms up on the cold, stainless steel edge. He studied himself in the mirror - unkempt hair and beard stubble.

"I could use a shave," Gordon spoke to himself, rubbing the short hair on his chin.

He scanned a long shelf, strewn with the crewmembers' more or less neatly arranged bathroom implements. His eyes searched higher, along a row of narrow lockers, stopping on an unlabeled one. Before Jessica had shown him his quarters, she pointed Lieutenant Vence to a spare locker and had given him a small blue bag containing all the toiletries he would require. He opened the locker, finding the bag where he had left it after his shower. Gordon took it out and placed it by the wash basin, undoing the button to reveal an assortment of items for personal hygiene. He had already made use of the soap and shampoo. He took out the electric shaver and with the flick of a switch, began the assault on the short, hard, facial hair. The device buzzed intensely as he moved it slowly from right to left cheek - pausing long enough on the base of his chin to remove the more stubborn growth. Circling around, he removed the last of the short hair beneath his nostrils and switched the shaver off. Gordon turned open a tap and splashed cold water on his face. He looked into the mirror - dripping. He reached blindly into the blue bag, feeling past the standard issue toothbrush that had been a bit too soft to his liking. Digging out a small absorbent towel, he dried his face and squeezed the towel dry, replacing it in the bag. Next he took hold of a comb and stroked it through his uncooperative hair. After a few passes he gave up, throwing his hands in the air.

He undid the top buttons of his uniform shirt to apply some roll-on deodorant to his chest and armpits. Finally he took out a chap-stick from the bag, popped open the lid and applied it to his lips. He snapped the lid back on, putting the small cylinder in his top shirt pocket. The re-circulated air aboard most spacecraft was cool and dry. As far back as Gordon remembered, he always had problems with badly cracked, bleeding lips unless he took precautions.

Now he was ready. He fastened the toiletries bag shut by its single button and deposited it up in the locker. He left through the sliding door, walking toward what he believed was the fore of the ship. He passed several doors, reading the clearly written labels on or beside them. He passed Lieutenant Keene's and Lieutenant Barkley's quarters, stopping by Lieutenant McCall's door. Gordon hesitated then knocked lightly on the metal door - instead of using the buzzer, which would more likely wake the Lieutenant if she were sleeping. He didn't want to bother Jessica. She had already been very helpful and understanding, but he thought he could use a few more pointers on getting around the ship. It was impossible to get lost, but he didn't want to intrude where he wasn't supposed to be.

Lieutenant Vence smiled as the door opened to his pleasant surprise, "Hi there. Listen, I wanted to thank you for..."

"Don't worry about it," Jessica stopped him short and smiled, "You'd have done the same."

Gordon concentrated on keeping the smile on his face. Indeed he would be faced with the difficult role when he meets with his mother to tell her that her youngest son had died. "I didn't wake you did I?"

"No, no. I couldn't sleep after all that action. I was just reading," She idly ran a hand through her hair, "I bet you could use something to eat."

"You bet," Gordon replied. His stomach had been voicing its complaints since he woke up.

Jessica stepped over the threshold and turned in the direction Gordon had been heading, "Did you sleep well?"

"Yes, thank you," he replied shortly, keeping the truth to himself. "I guess the Captain will want a word with me as soon as possible."

"When he wakes up," Jessica replied casually, leading him around a corner to the open doorway of the mess. "And not on an empty stomach. He wouldn't allow it."

Gordon paused in the doorway to look over the room. It was neat and tidy despite the odd crumb that had found its way off a plate. He glanced at the plain cupboards and the familiar panel of a microwave cooker - the type seen in every kitchen the world over. He also recognised the food dispenser than brought up rations from the storage decks below. Other than that, the soft padded seating and laminated tabletop formed a somewhat homely atmosphere - a contrast to the military dining facilities he was used to.

"What'll you have?" Jessica started the water on the boil.

"Oh," he shrugged, "Chef's surprise?"

Jessica stifled a giggle, "That'll have to be flapjacks with butter 'n syrup."

"Sounds delicious," even the food was far from standard military issue. Probably the influence of the ship's Captain, Gordon thought.

"Would you like coffee or tea with that?"

There was a choice? "Tea please," it would be a pleasant change from the coffee he always had. "Can I help?"

"Naw. Just take a seat. I'll have it ready in a jiffy."

He made a move toward one of the comfortable looking seats. "'kay. Holler 'f ya need me," he couldn't resist slipping into the delightful drawl.

Lieutenant McCall definitely knew her way about the small kitchen. Gordon looked around the room from his new vantage point spotting a large photo in a thin silver frame. It was the entire crew of the Icarus, posing on the ship's flight deck. He approached it to scan across the names at the bottom, noting the picture was taken some 10 months ago. "This is the Icarus' maiden voyage?"

"You could say that," Jessica replied without turning around. "She was refitted to CES requirements and renamed the Icarus." Lieutenant McCall didn't know how much she could say about the ship and its mission, but that information was public.

"So she was a cargo transport?"

"Yes," Jessica replied shortly, obviously wanting to avoid further conversation on the topic.

"I thought so," Gordon muttered and studied the picture closer silently. Two Majors on a ship this size? An odd ship, with an odd crew and an odd Captain, he thought.

"There ya go," Jessica piped, placing a plate of 6 thick pancakes on the table, with a light clunk. She made herself comfortable in her usual seat against the wall, setting her own plate before her.

Gordon finally turned away from the photo to marvel at the short stack before him, "Yummers!"

Jessica grinned, already munching on a piece of toast. As he sat down across from her, Gordon noticed the meagre contents of her plate. An orange, two pieces of toast, and a small bowl of what he guessed was yoghurt with some cereal. "Aren't you having any?"

She looked up at him, "A girl's gotta watch her weight, y' know."

"You?" he feigned surprise, picking up his knife and fork, "Nah!"

She giggled as Gordon began his attack on the pile of fluffy pancakes, sending syrup running down to the plate. Both fell silent as they ate breakfast.

Thomas quietly walked into the mess, "Good morning Jessica, Gordon."

"Morning Captain," Lieutenant McCall greeted him.

Gordon swallowed hastily, "Morning Sir," nearly shooting to attention. The Gargoyle's commander had been almost totalitarian, or at least such was his reputation. It was rumoured that he had thrown an officer in the brig for not saluting him whilst standing at a urinal.

Thomas smiled, peering at the two Lieutenants through his spectacles as he poured himself some coffee. "Sleep well?"

"Yes Sir," Gordon replied, still unsure of whether he should continue his meal.

Jessica just smiled and nodded, putting another spoonful of yoghurt in her mouth.

Thomas sensed the Lieutenant's tension and decided to leave to let him eat in peace. "Jess, show Gordon up to the bridge when you two are done."

"Okay," she nodded in reply.

The Captain left, accompanied by his mug of coffee. 'Odd sort of fellow,' he thought as he headed toward the bridge. He placed his palm on the cold, dark red panel and the heavy door swung open. Caitlin and Nathan had made themselves comfortable in the two pilots' seats. By the looks on their faces, they had obviously been carrying on a heated conversation to pass the time.

"Sorry, to interrupt," Thomas approached them as Nathan vacated his seat.

"Nothing we can't discuss later," Caitlin smiled at him.

Thomas sat down heavily in the empty chair and took a sip of his coffee, "I take it the shift was uneventful."

"Quite," Nathan spoke up, "Nothing on long range scanners - not even civilian."

"No news from Admiral Terrell?"

"No news is good news," Major Torres threw in.

Thomas shrugged and took another taste of his coffee. He glanced at the control panel displaying current time and distance to target, "Looks like we should be in Palan within the hour. You two can get some rest now. I think our little scuttle in the wee hours of the morning has everybody out of whack."

Though Nathan was supposed to hand his post over to Major Gratke, he was quite tired,

"No arguments here."

Caitlin silently got up and headed for the door, "Sounds like a plan."

Thomas remembered himself, "On second thought." They both stopped. "Lieutenant Vence will be here shortly to tell us his side of the story. I'd like you to be here, Caitlin."

"Sure, just give me a minute to freshen up."

They both left and Thomas was left alone on the bridge once more, staring out into the vast darkness and enjoying his coffee. Only minutes later the door to the bridge swung open again. This time to admit Lieutenants McCall and Vence. Jessica was carrying a plate with a sizeable sandwich - lettuce and cheese visibly sneaking out from beneath the rye bread. She handed it to the captain who smiled and thanked her.

Meanwhile, Gordon stood back and examined the bridge from a distance. It definitely looked more like the bridge of a transport vessel than that of a military ship, but then he had never been on a ship of the Confederation Exploratory Services.

"Take a seat," Thomas gestured, taking a big bite of the multi-textured sandwich. "Mmm," he voiced his approval tasting the crisp lettuce, moist tomato, and tangy egg with mayonnaise on a smooth cheesy base. He chewed slowly - enjoying the simple pleasure while Lieutenant Vence peered out the window at the stars.

Jessica smiled, "Micas is having breakfast and will be up shortly," and left.

Knowing the Captain would be busy eating for a while, he decided to voice a few thoughts. "You know, Sir. I've been on many a bridge and never really had the chance to look out a front window." The topic seemed appropriate considering the Captain's informal behaviour and the relaxed atmosphere that prevailed aboard the Icarus. "I mean I guess it's no different than the view from a fighter, but every time I would just be standing bolt upright - either saluting or staring straight ahead into the face of a superior officer." He turned to look at the Captain, realising he had forgotten to salute upon entering the bridge. Then again, he had followed suit after Lieutenant McCall.

Thomas sensed Gordon's concern, "I don't pay attention to such things," and took another bite.

Lieutenant Vence grinned at the pun. "My CAG on the Gargoyle would have me scrub the flight-deck with a toothbrush if I didn't salute him in the mess... Even if it was with a knife in hand."

Thomas swallowed, "The Icarus is a navy vessel, but while we're out here she's also our home."

The thought of home brought back a serious look to the Lieutenant's face. He turned back to the dazzling view outside.

Thomas lowered his sandwich. "I'm sorry about your brother," he spoke gently.

The silence bit hard into Gordon. He clenched his teeth.

Thomas switched to his matter-of-fact voice. "Saying that he died so that we may live won't bring him back or ease the pain." He leaned forward and lowered his voice, "But I am an experienced tactician and I can tell you there is no way in hell you could have prevented it."

Lieutenant Vence looked wide-eyed at the Captain - whose hands were still clasped around his sandwich.

"The loss of the Gargoyle was a hefty price to pay for our survival, but that's the way it was written," Thomas paused for emphasis. "I'm surprised you came out in one piece son," he deliberately took a large bite of his sandwich and chewed it audibly.

Gordon's heart sank. He was filled with sorrow, not having considered that he was still here because the Gargoyle and its crew weren't. He now had a duty to make all his future battles count, so that their loss would not be in vain. They had all fought against incredible, overwhelming odds.

The door slowly swung open, revealing two crewmembers Gordon had only seen on the photograph. Noticing their rank, the Lieutenant shot up to attention and saluted. The woman smiled and saluted mid-stride, seating herself by what he assumed was a navmap. The other Major saluted briskly and sat down at the auxiliary control panel without a word.

"What happened out there Gordon?" Thomas asked between bites.

Gordon lowered his hand and sat back down, "Well...There were three of us flying escort for the CES Icarus as Zombie wing." The Captain already knew this but Gordon needed to get his thoughts in order. "Three fully functional Weasel fighter-interceptors with a standard load-out. Our last contact with the TCS Gargoyle was an order to delay for 3 minutes before jumping to Xytani, and that the Icarus was to follow another 3 minutes behind," he paused, thinking about any important details he might have forgotten. "The Gargoyle's scouts, another three Weasels had already jumped ahead to start a standard three point patrol of the area. This was about 20-25 minutes after we had received word from the Gargoyle that the civilian transports had jumped into Xytani."

"20 minutes? Even at full-thrust the Gragoyle couldn't have reached the transports before they jumped," Major Torres noted.

"That's right," Gordon recognised her voice from the radio, "They never did. Identification was based solely on long range radar and radio confirmation."

"So the Gargoyle had no idea what was aboard those transports?" Thomas asked.

"That's right, Sir. The scouts never got within range to perform a scan."

"How many transports were there?" Thomas frowned.

"The Gargoyle reported three Barracudas and a Shark."

"If I recall, their respective capacities are 120 and 90 tonnes," Caitlin noted.

"80," Major Gratke corrected.

"That's what... 120... 240... 360... 440 tonnes payload in total," Thomas counted thoughtfully, "Micas, what's your best guess at the weight of an Arrow and a Grikath? That's about the size of a K'nagatha."

Lieutenant Vence caught on but waited to voice his point.

"13 and 27 tonnes Sir," Micas came up with the numbers without effort.

"Let's see," Thomas adjusted his glasses, "The Gargoyle reported 17 fighters and 9 bombers."

"If they crammed 4 K'nagatha weighing a total of 108 tonnes on a 120 tonne Barracuda, they couldn't fit on any more Arrows," Caitlin began.

"But if they took 3 on each, so 81 tonnes, that leaves 39 tonnes," Thomas continued, "Just enough to fit 3 Arrows of 13 tonnes each."

"And 6 more Arrows at a total of 78 tonnes would fit aboard the Shark," Micas calculated.

"That's a total of 9 K'nagatha and 15 Arrows," Caitlin added together. "So 2 Arrows are still unaccounted for."

"Probably flying escort," Thomas suggested.

"Yes. Two or three escort fighters wouldn't raise any suspicion," Caitlin agreed.

"But, there was no sign of the freighters when we jumped in, Sir," Gordon spoke up.

"20 minutes would suffice to escape beyond sensor range," Micas explained.

"What happened next?" the Captain asked, "After you jumped into Xytani."

Lieutenant Vence continued, "Well, Zombie 1 led the jump, I followed, then Zombie 3," it was easier to keep names out of the way. "The moment I jumped in, Zombie 1 was away on afterburners. The battle was already in full swing, and before our jump drives had shut off completely, Zombie 1 ordered the attack. I didn't wait for my systems to recalibrate, I just spotted the nearest enemy and went after him. The Gargoyle's shields were already down and she wasn't moving, but I couldn't confirm that because my targeting systems hadn't come online yet. When my radar finally came on, I saw we had just lost the last Badger, leaving four of us in Weasels."

"How many Badgers were aboard the Gargoyle?" Micas asked.

Gordon was about to mention them anyway, "She carried 3 Badger heavy-fighters in addition to 10 Weasels of which 4 were onboard at the time of the attack. 3 flew Zombie wing and 3 in the scout patrol," Gordon threw in.

"Go on," Thomas urged.

"Well. Then the turrets destroyed a K'na... What did you call it?"

"A K'nagatha. An old Kilrathi heavy fighter."

"Yes a K'nagatha. That was when we lost contact with the Gargoyle. They must have got the bridge, but some turrets were still active. Maybe 30 seconds later the power core exploded and the Gargoyle began to break up. I nearly panicked - I would have if I weren't so busy with the swarm of Arrows all over us. We kept close together and targeted the same Arrow, since that way we had a better chance of making a kill than the heavily armoured K'nagatha. Either way, we spent more time dodging their shots than taking shots at them."

"That's what it looked like on radar," Caitlin commented.

"Somehow we managed to kill off another two Arrows before the Icarus arrived. If not for your arrival, I'd have been space-dust for sure."

"That must have been the longest three minutes of your life," Caitlin sympathised.

"And for the scouts, the shortest," Thomas spoke gravely.

"Oh man!" Gordon brought his hand to his forehead. "If we had it bad, it must've been hell for them," he was actually shaking.

"No doubt, they fought well," Thomas frowned.

"Lieutenant, I noted the enemy were slow to evade our fire. What did you notice about the enemy's tactics?" Micas questioned.

"Huh? Well Sir," Gordon remembered himself turning to face Major Gratke, "Though the attack itself was well staged, the pilots lacked skill. I easily surprised them, even with standard manoeuvres. They often responded with inappropriate evasive tactics which made them quite ineffective despite their large numbers."

"Did you notice anything else?"

"Yes," Lieutenant Vence frowned, recalling the battle. "I taunted them constantly, and they never retorted. I must confess, I was infuriated and flung the most foul insults I could muster."

"Could your radio have been damaged? Or maybe theirs?" Thomas asked thoughtfully.

Gordon shook his head, "I was in constant touch with my wingmates and our instruments indicated otherwise. They just wouldn't talk back. Almost as if they had taken a vow of silence."

"That's because they had taken a vow of silence," Thomas put the pieces together and enlightened the others. "The attackers were members of the Church of Man."

"Better know as Retros," Caitlin added. She had the displeasure of meeting them previously.

"Of course," Micas recalled the stories of the fanatic sect. "That would explain their determination to destroy us and their obvious lack of skill in combat."

"That lack of skill saved my butt," Gordon threw in.

Admiral Terrell had warned Thomas of the revival of Retro beliefs several months ago. They had even gaining some sympathisers within the military. Apparently their recent recruitment was bountiful, however their ceremonies and demonstrations were for the most part peaceful, and neither Thomas nor the Admiral really expected any military engagement. The Captain was almost certain, that information of their position had been leaked to the Retro's. As much as he would have liked to get the view of the others, he was not at liberty to discuss this information.

The door to the bridge swung open abruptly and Lieutenant O'Connor stepped forward.

"Captain," James grimaced, "I'm tired of all this resting."

Thomas nearly burst out laughing, "Okay then, make yourself useful, and take Gordon here to sick-bay. Run him through the scanner and then yourself."

Gordon got up, knowing the Captain had asked enough questions or now.

"We won't learn any more details until we get the flight-recorder to Perry."

"Yes, Sir," Lieutenant Vence said simply. He got up, saluted his superiors and followed James.

Thomas watched intently as the two left, the door shutting firmly behind them.

"Micas, secure cargo bay 2," Thomas ordered. Doors were rarely locked aboard the Icarus, but now was a good time to do so.

'Why had the Retro's attacked?,' the Captain thought. 'Was it coincidence, or could they have known about our cargo?'


Actually, this is part 4, not 3
I spotted a few mistakes, but I don't have the time right now to pick them out.
Meanwhile, you've got to be more careful with stock phrases:
"the type seen in every kitchen the world over" - The world over?
We're talking about a universe here.
The other thing was that the Retros taunted us quite frequently in Priv. You'll have to explain where they got the vow of silence from. I'm sure you'll manage just fine though
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Yup...Yummers! =)
*shrug* The universe is also a world, just on a much larger scale than planet Earth. You'd think that the concept of "world" to a space faring race would mean every place you could get to. Besides, it was meant to relate to the humble microwave in the kitchen of a home.
As for the vow of silence I've got it all figured out.

You read the thing and you didn't pick out the mistakes? How could you!? I want my mistakes! =)
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You want your mistakes, eh?
All right then. Let's get started, shall we?

He made a move toward one of the comfortable looking seats. "'kay. Holler 'f ya need me," he couldn't resist slipping into the delightful drawl. - That 'kay should have a capital letter

"I thought so," Gordon muttered and studied the picture closer silently. Two Majors on a ship this size? An odd ship, with an odd crew and an odd Captain, he thought. - Hehe. I guess the way I do thoughts is contagious
. And it's not at all confusing.

"Yummers!" - I still don't believe that one...

Though Nathan was supposed to hand his post over to Major Gratke, he was quite tired, - Shouldn't this end with a full stop?

"Take a seat," Thomas gestured, taking a big bite of the multi-textured sandwich. "Mmm," he voiced his approval tasting the crisp lettuce, moist tomato, and tangy egg with mayonnaise on a smooth cheesy base. - Uh... Next you'll be telling us about the nutrient values of the sandwich, and of the differences between complex and simple carbohydrates
. To put it simply, don't you think you overdid it just a bit? It sounds like a MacDonald's ad

"Better know as Retros," Caitlin added. She had the displeasure of meeting them previously. - Better known as Retros,

Admiral Terrell had warned Thomas of the revival of Retro beliefs several months ago. They had even gaining some sympathisers within the military. - They had even gained? They had even been gaining?

The Captain was almost certain, that information of their position had been leaked to the Retro's. - To the Retros. Retro's suggests there's only one.

'Why had the Retro's attacked?,' the Captain thought. 'Was it coincidence, or could they have known about our cargo?' - And again, Retros.

As you can see, there's really nothing serious, so I had to resort to nitpicking
. Hopefully, this means that you'll focus on writing the next section rather than fixing up this one
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Now that's much better. =) I did spot two before and have corrected them. The others I'll get onto right away...except the sandwich. I like the sandwich, and I tend to get a bit extravagantly poetic every now and then. =)
You've actually drawn my attention to a mistake we both missed in "Gordon muttered and studied the picture closer silently."
And what's wrong with "yummers?"
Oh, come on, Mac... I mean, Yummers?

It's just a little unusual, that's all
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Aw come on, you can't expect me to believe you've never heard "yummers." I'm pretty sure it's an Aussie-ism.
Actually, I've heard yummy, yum, and so on, but I haven't heard yummers
. Either way, it still sounds kinda funny when used by a soldier. But hey, at least it gives us something to discuss
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Anything to keep the post on top.

But I still can't remember what "yummers" is a conjunction of. Yummy and...?
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I think it's actually an objectification... if you know what I mean. As in, you can say yummy food, or just say yummers, and it would mean the same thing... maybe.
Matrix: You want this thread to stay on top! Ok, here is my contribution!

Sorry for not having given my two cents earlier but now there are so many different stories that it is hard to keep up with reading and commenting as well as remembering all the different storylines! (I actually had to reread the end of your last chapter to get back into it.
I have to repeat myself in saying that it's a great piece of work! Although there is not much action in this chapter it still is quite interesting to read for the description of the characters.
Do you have already figured out the whole storyline or is it changing slightly in the process of writing each new chapter?

No one will hear your cry of death in the void of space
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Thanks for the comments Nighthawk - especially since they're positive.
I can see how all these stories can get mixed up.

No, I haven't got the whole thing figured out. I originally had the beginning and a piece from the middle. I'm filling out the parts between those, making it up as I go along. To this day I have no ending, so I'm just as curious to see where this all goes.
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Taking a month off the Net has some positive reults. Now I have a lot of fanfic to read!

Keep goin' and keep them comin'!

Ever think of becoming a professional writer?

"This matter winds itself ever in new riddles.", Faramir - The Lord of The Rings
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Oh goodie! I see somebody else has read my story. That's had the benefitial side effect of bringing this post to the top.

klaus: Actually I have considered getting this published once I have enough written, but I'm not too sure if I'm on a professional level...yet.

Anyways, I wrote most of the next section yesterday, and I've been writing two sections ahead so expect a flood of new stuff soon. I've got to catch up with Quarto see.
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