Tooth and Claw- - Chapter Five: Helping Hands...


I've been writing like a whirlwind! Two chapters in twelve hours.

So, read, comment, enjoy...


Flight Deck, TCS Enterprise
Aeolus Asteroid Belt, Outlands
1726 hours (CST)

Keeping the expansive slab of durasteel in his sights, Chris decreased
thrust and snagged onto the arresting cables lying out across the Enterprise’s
flight deck. A carrier landing was always the most difficult things a combat pilot
ever had to accomplish. One could be off by just a fraction of an inch and end up
plowing into the carrier’s superstructure, killing himself and knocking out the
ship to boot. But Chris’s landing seemed a clean one and the deck tractor
dragged him into the service area. He shut down his systems and popped open
the canopy, grateful to be free of the cockpit’s stuffiness.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Joel Chiang, Chris’s middle-aged crew chief,
offered a salute as the pilot climbed down the ladder to the deck below. “ Hell of
a fight, sir,” the Asian NCO quipped, taking Chris’s helmet. “ How’d you do?”
“ Oh, only a couple of kills,” Chris admitted glumly, running a hand
through his blond locks. “ The one I really wanted to get got away from me,
though.” He thought back to that Vaktoth. He had been good... damn good.
Chiang shrugged, patting Chris on the shoulder. “ Ah, don’t feel so bad. It
was only your second mission out there. Hell, you did better than I did.”
“ You flew, Joel?” Chris asked, his brow knitted in confusion. He wasn’t
even aware enlisted people were allowed to pilot fighters.
A small grin lighting up his weathered features, Chiang nodded. “ Hell
yeah, kid. Got NCO of the year back in ‘72, when I was serving at Yaeger Air
Base in the Ptolemy System. Just for that, got to take a little joyride in a Ferret.
It’s an old craft, to be sure, but damn sweet, I tell you what. You ever flown a
Chris smiled as well. His dad had flown Ferrets. He remembered old
Doug talking about them being his favorite bird back during the War. His family
had always speculated that if Doug had been flying a Ferret instead of a sluggish
Broadsword, he would have survived that Sartha attack. “ No,” Chris finally
answered, shaking his head. “ But I’d like to. Thanks, Joel.”
His crew chief shrugged. “ For what, sir?”
“ For... bringing back some nice memories.” Leaving a puzzled Petty
Officer Chiang behind, Chris headed towards the Pitbull Squadron ready room,
unzipping his flight suit down to his waist.
He went over to his locker, slipping his boots off and sliding out of his
cumbersome flight suit. Next, he put his uniform shoes on, tied up the laces, and
got back into his light blue jacket. He was shoving his flight gear into his locker,
when Dana Carver snuck up behind him. “ Hi,” she said, causing him to jump
from the suddenness of it.
Taking a deep breath, Chris forced a grin past his uneasiness around her.
“ Hey,” he replied lamely. “ How are you, Lieutenant Carver?”
“ I’m good. Got four kills back there. Pretty cool, huh? How about you?”
Chris felt self-conscious about telling Dana his true kill score in that last
brawl. He didn’t want to seem inadequate in front of her. “, two-- I got
two,” he blurted.
Dana chuckled good-naturedly. “ Hey, don’t worry about it. I was a pilot
on the TCS Chester Nimitz for three whole weeks before I even got one damned
kill, if you can believe it. You’ve been here for less than a day, and already three
kills to your name. Not bad at all, stud.”
“ Thanks, Dana,” he said with a grin. “ Look, I gotta, um--”
“ Yeah, sure,” she replied. “ I’ll catch in you in the rec later, huh?” Chris
nodded and closed his locker, moving quickly out of the crowded ready room.
Was it just him or were his ears extremely hot right now? Hmmm, that seemed
unusual. But Dana was obviously a gorgeous woman, and was taking some
interest in him, and, even though he liked that--a lot-- it still made him feel a tad
uncomfortable, as if he needed to prove something to her. Did he really have to
show off in front of her, however? he wondered. Did he have to act like a
hot-dog like HardCore or Gandalf just to get the attention and respect of a pretty
With a sigh, Chris climbed the ladder into flight control, ready to read the
After Actions Report posted by Major Rigsby and the other squadron
commanders. What he found in the small, elevated chamber, however, was
something he was not expecting. A small crowd had gathered near the back of
the room. Spotting Carrie, he tugged at his friend’s sleeve, asking, “ Hey, what’s
going on?”
“ Take a look,” she replied, tilting her head towards the center of flight
control. Chris pushed his way through the crowd, finally coming to the front of
the throng. What he saw nearly made his knees buckle. Captain Ju’rak, his flight
suit still on, stood alone, a pained expression on his face, a knife poised at his
abdomen. What the hell... Colonel Wright stood in the shadows, arms crossed
over his chest like a sentinel. “ Khan, buddy, what are you doing?” Chris asked
in alarm, stepping up to his friend.
Ju’rak shook his large head. “ Machine shouldn’t have died, Lieutenant
Edison. He should have lived. Damn it all, he would have lived if I had not been
so irresponsible.” The tone of the Kilrathi’s voice was dull, hollow, as if his soul
had been ripped from his body.
“ Why this all of a sudden, Ju’rak?” Chris demanded.
“ I returned to the carrier alone, Wizard. For the first time in my career as
a combat pilot I have returned to base without my wingmate. I looked upon that
flight roster and I saw it-- 2nd Lieutenant William ‘Machine’ Montoya: KIA.”
Ju’rak’s upper lip curled back in anger, and Chris saw a flashing of teeth. “ It
was as if he never existed, they were so willing to accept his death that soon after
it had happened. Does not Machine earn more than that?”
Chris placed a hand on Ju’rak’s massive upper arm, lowering his head in
exasperation. “ Look, buddy, Machine is dead, you have to accept that, you have
to move on. These things happen. I remember when my dad died. I was twelve
years old, a... a cubling! I mean, I was devastated, it seemed that I had lost all
hope then. But I learned something, sir. The dead don’t want us to mourn them.
Honor them, yes, but mourn them? Machine earns more than that, Khan!” he
spat, emphasizing the “that.”
“ I am sa’guk, young one,” Ju’rak whispered, as if Chris’s words were
never spoken. “ I deserve this Zu’kara. In this way alone, Christopher, I can
atone for my mistakes. I can receive Sivar’s forgiveness.”
Khan raised the ornate dagger he carried, lifting it up over his abdomen,
ready to slash down through his flight suit and into flesh and blood. “ No!”
Chris howled, reaching forward, struggling against Ju’rak’s immense strength to
keep him for taking his own life. “ Isn’t anybody gonna help me?” Chris
demanded, looking into the crowd and taking notice of their blank expressions.
He shot a glance at Stingray. “ Colonel Wright?”
The bearded Wing Commander stepped out of the shadows and for a
moment a flicker of hope sparked within Chris. But Wright shook his head,
tossing his auburn locks from side to side. “ I’m sorry, Lieutenant Edison,” he
responded. “ This is Captain Ju’rak’s decision. I can’t stop him from following
his customs.”
“ This is a Confederation carrier, damn you! We can’t let a comrade-in-
arms fall upon his own blade!” Chris roared, surprised by the passion in his own
voice. He locked his gaze on Khan’s feline eyes. “ Someone once told me to be
confident and believe in yourself, and to not get yourself killed. Well, sir, I want
you to do that for me, all right? Be strong and confident, but do not take your
own life. It’s silly! Look, I’ve only known you for less than a day, but I already
consider you a friend. God knows I don’t have many... I wouldn’t want to lose
you, Khan. So don’t do this stupid Zu’kara thing, you read me? If not for
yourself, than for me... and Bill. He wouldn’t want you to do this because of
Khan’s stony expression wavered for a moment, and Chris felt the tension
in the alien’s muscles slacken. With a shudder, Khan slumped forward, the
dagger clattering to the floor. Chris sighed, letting go of his friend and stepping
back. “ You’ve honored Machine by not doing this, buddy. Thanks.”
Surprisingly, Ju’rak smiled. “ You consider me... your friend.” Chris
shrugged. “ I consider you my friend as well, Christopher. Thank you. I no
longer want to take my own life. I want to fight... for Machine’s honor.”
“ Atta boy, Ju’rak. Come on, let’s hit the rec and get you an ox hide
sandwich.” Khan rumbled with laughter and together they stepped past the
crowd into the corridor beyond. Chris finally felt truly happy for the first time in
a long time at this moment. He felt as if he had people he could trust and care
about. Carrie, Ju’rak, Dana. He felt lucky to fight alongside these people.
“ Lieutenant Edison,” a voice called and Chris whirled to see Major
Bowen standing in the darkened corridor. Chris sighed, remember the cruel
prank Spyder had pulled on him a short time ago. He didn’t even want to waste
his time talking to the bastard, but he was a superior officer... Motioning for
Khan to wait for him in the rec room, Chris stepped closer to Spyder. “ Sir?” he
ventured testily.
With a smirk, Spyder held up a hand. “ Look, I know what you’re
thinking; I’m gonna pull some mean trick on you.”
“ Well, after what happened in the rec room today, how couldn’t I, sir?! I
mean, come on, Major, you’re supposed to be a goddamn squadron commander
and you act like the most immature of nuggets. Like HardCore. Like Gandalf,”
Chris replied heatedly. “ Look, sir, with all due respect, I don’t have time for
you.” With a dismissive wave, Chris turned on one heel and stalked down the
“ I’m a jackass, I know,” Spyder admitted, stopping Chris in his tracks.
“ I’ve always hidden behind a curtain of all that crap throughout my career. I’ve
felt... insecure, I don’t know, about my position as a combat pilot. Acting like
that hotshot you saw earlier today was kind of... oh, I guess a shield.”
“ That’s shit, sir,” Chris returned softly. “ I’ve always cared about what
people thought of me, you see, but still I was myself. I never desired to step on
anyone’s toes the way you and pilots like DieHard and HardCore do.”
Suddenly, he found himself chuckling, surprising even himself. Noticing
Spyder’s puzzled expression, Chris quickly said, “ I’m sorry, I just find this
funny. Eight hours ago, I was a newbie on this boat. I didn’t know anyone. I was
a queasy, pathetic plebe. And now look at me. Psychiatrist to every senior officer
I can find. Why did you come to talk to me, Major Bowen?”
Spyder shrugged. “ I saw what you did with Captain Ju’rak back there.
That was noble, kid. You’re a good officer, you deserve better than that crap I
gave you back there. That’s really all I just wanted to tell you, Lieutenant.”
“ Thanks,” Chris said, turning around to go once again when Spyder
called out his name. “ What now, sir?” he laughed.
“ Here, take this,” Karl said, and Chris noticed a simple gold locket in the
squadron commander’s hand. Cautiously, Wizard took it. “ Oh my God...” he
whispered as he suddenly recognized the jewelry. It had belonged to his father!
His hands trembling, Chris opened the locket, and saw his dad’s Academy
picture on one side... and a picture of Major Doug Edison with his arms
wrapped around his nine-year old son on a rocky Maine shore on the other. He
remembered getting that picture taken. Leaving the Galactic War behind for if
only the briefest of reprieves, Doug had taken Chris and his mother to Earth.
They had toured the entire planet-- Ancient Rome, Athens, the Pyramids at Giza,
Mayan temples of the Yucatan, and more. While these great architectural
achievements had been impressive, Chris had marveled at the simplicity of the
New England lighthouses, which were strewn all throughout Maine. He
especially loved this one. It brought back so many memories of his father, and
how close they had been.
“ How did you get this?” Chris ventured, holding the locket up for
Spyder to see.
“ I was a 2nd Lieutenant flying under your father on the Antietam,” the
C.O. of Pinscher Squadron revealed, and Chris’s mouth dropped open. He had
had no idea whatsoever... “ He gave that to me just before we went out on that
mission against the Sarthas in Enigma. Hell, he knew he wasn’t coming back
from that fight. He wanted me to keep this... until you had faced your fears.
Well, it looks like you’ve done that, Doc.”
Chris held out his hand. “ Sir, thank you. You don’t know how much this
means to me, Major Bowen.”
Smiling, Spyder shook the younger man’s hand. Without another word,
he turned and disappeared into the shadows. Chris felt tears in his eyes as he
slipped the locket over his head. “ I miss you, Dad,” he whispered, and then
ventured to find Ju’rak.

Navigator Tarsus (SS Lucky Star)
Aeolus Jump Point (Trajan System), Outlands
0012 hours (CST)

Janice felt cold. She had been running this thing for damn near four days,
and it was taxing the little freighter to its limits. The power was getting a serious
drain from the cloaking system, but she wouldn’t dare to take it off-line. There
were just too many Orion patrols out. Under normal circumstances she would
just tap into her TK powers and blast across space in a blink of an eye, but right
now she could not. She was freezing, her stomach growling for food, and she
hadn’t slept in nearly four days! If she was not at her best, then she could no
more use her telekinesis than she could pee standing up!
With a shudder, Janice pulled the thermal blanket up around her
shoulders. The jump point was getting closer, she saw. On the other side, in the
Aeolus System, she had detected two cap ships-- one rather large and one rather
small. At least one of those boats might be able to help her rescue her fellow
Navigators. But she would have to be cautious.
A trilling sounded from the Tarsus’s console, and Janice lunged forward
to see what the problem was. A trio of gray blips had appeared on her scopes.
Cautiously she reached a hand forward to cycle through the MFD until she came
across her target profile. Damn; Orion Razors. She was still cloaked, that was
good, but how long would the struggling system last?
Shivering in the cold and in the dark, Janice Carmichael silently counted
down the distance to the jump point.

Flight Control Center, TCS Enterprise
Aeolus Asteroid Belt, Outlands
0735 hours (CST)

Four days after he had arrived on board the Francis-Marion assault escort
carrier TCS Enterprise, 2nd Lieutenant, TCSF, Christopher “Wizard” Edison
woke up feeling refreshed. After all, he had helped two people overcome some
serious problems, and had also been given an heirloom which represented his
strong connection to his father. He never felt more alive, to be quite honest. It
gave him a greater desire to fight the good fight, to stay alive to see another day.
And then, of course, there was always the prospect of Dana Carver...
Showered, shaved, and wearing a fresh Space Force uniform, Chris took
the lift from his barracks to the flight control center, ready to assist the Air Boss
in the morning routine. Major Rigsby had told him it would be good for him, to
see how it worked on the other side of the flight stick. Chris had agreed, albeit
reluctantly at first, but he had eventually warmed to the idea.
He saluted Bartholomew Thoe, the dark-skinned NCO who served the
role as the Enterprise’s Air Boss. “ Reporting for duty, sir,” he piped. Thoe
returned the salute, ran through the usual and retreated to the rec room in
desperate need of some coffee. Chris smiled, sitting down in the central chair. As
OOD in flight control, Chris began to bark out orders to the various noncoms
occupying the small chamber.
Below him the flight deck was cavernous, filled with numerous Hellcats,
Arrows, T-Bolts, and Longbows, the deck crews rapidly working to repair the
damage inflicted upon them. To think, he thought sadly, that just three days ago
that chamber below us had served as a funeral hall. Ju’rak has still been
somewhat broken up when Major Charles Rigsby, their Landreich squadron
commander, had sent Machine’s casket out of the airlock and into space. And
now Machine, and all of the other pilots lost in the battle against Vagargk and
the KIS Skarr’var’Rhis, were gone forever. Once the Enterprise was at its full
capacity again, Captain Hawk was going to order an offensive strike against the
Hakaga carrier, utilizing the small store of Mace torpedoes in the carrier’s stores.
It was also helpful that the Skarr’var’Rhis was not in the best of shape.
With a sigh, he settled back into his seat, swiveling the small monitor
mounted to his chair around to watch the events unfolding on the bridge. The
ship’s control center was nothing spectacular, he had to admit. It was rather
small and unpretentious, not filled with the majesty of a ship like the Concordia.
Captain Baine Hawk, the Aussie who had once served under the legendary
Admiral William Eisen, stood towering over the helmsman, his thick arms
crossed over his chest.
“ Status report?” Chris heard his tinny voice say.
Although he couldn’t make it all out, he heard the end of a lookout’s
reply. “... and fifty percent, Captain. Almost at top efficiency.”
“ We’ll be able to launch against the kitties soon, Cap,” Lieutenant
Commander Ted Rollins, the Enterprise’s Exec, said with a grin. “ It’s always
nice to see Cats pushing up daises.” Good thing Khan wasn’t around to hear
that, Chris thought with a wry smile.
In the corner of the screen, Chris saw Lieutenant Jamison hunch over her
instruments with a start, pressing her headset firmly into her ear. What the hell
was going on? he wondered. “ Captain Hawk,” Sela said with an excited tinge to
her voice. “ I’m picking up a distress signal originating from the jump point,
“ Patch it through, Lieutenant.”
Sela worked her instruments and a moment later a voice, garbled but
clearly young and female, came over the bridge speakers. “ To any ships that can
help-- is Janice Carmichael. My home pla-- by Orion raiders. Am on Tarsus
freighter Lucky Star. Please help me, I’m being....” But the message dissolved
into static.
“ Flight Control, I want a wing of two to go out there and bring back that
Tarsus,” Baine snapped, and it took Chris a moment to realize he was speaking
to him. “ Oh, uh, yes, Captain,” he stammered. Before he could do anything,
however, Colonel Wright, already in a flight suit with a helmet under one arm,
burst into flight control.
Chris saluted. “ Colonel, are you going out to rescue that ship, sir?”
Stingray nodded. “ Who are you taking up there? I need to log it down because
I’m working as OOD this shift.”
“ Not anymore you’re not,” Dirk said with the slight hint of a smile.
“ Sir?”
Grinning openly now, Colonel Wright shoved a flight suit into his arms.
“ Suit up, Lieutenant Edison. I want you on my wing for this one. I’ll post
Ensign Holland here in flight control.”
Chris frowned. “ Colonel, sir, are you sure you want me on your wing? I
mean, I kind of get queasy in the cockpit.”
“ Did I just make a suggesting or an order, young man?” Stingray barked,
and Chris immediately saluted again, relinquishing the central seat to Craig
Holland. Wright brushed past him, clapping the young pilot on the shoulder,
before clambering down the ladder and disappearing from view. Shaking his
head, Chris quickly slipped his flight suit on, grabbed his helmet off of the rack,
and jogged to his Hellcat, finally repaired after the battle against the Dralthis
from the Skarr’var’Rhis.
Saluting Joel, he clambered into the cockpit and felt the tug as the tractor
dragged him into position. Stingray in a T-Bolt blasted out before him, kicking
up dust from the flight deck, before Chris got the word from Sela. He got a good
grip on the flight stick, pushed the throttle forward. The medium fighter rolled
down the deck, gradually gaining speed as it neared the airlock. Finally, he was
clear and he lifted his landing gear and pulled up onto Stingray’s wing.
“ Rescue Wing, be advised,” Captain Hawk interjected over the comm,
“ tactical is detecting several Razor fighters, possibly Orion, pursuing that
Tarsus. We also have evidence that the Skarr’var’Rhis has launched a wing of
Darket light fighters on an intercept course as well. Keep your eyes peeled,
Stingray responded in the affirmative and gave the order for autopilot.
When the signal lit up upon his HUD, he flipped the toggle and was hurled
across the cosmos to the first nav point. Alarms blared suddenly when Chris got
manual control back. “ Damn, sir!” he swore. “ Three Kilrathi Darkets! Light
fighters. They must be the boys the Captain was talking about.”
“ Well, it’s a good thing we caught up to them before they came within
range of that Tarsus,” Stingray said. “ All right, Wizard, let’s get these bastards!
Lock and load!”
As the slight, knife-winged enemy fighters broke apart and dove straight
at them, Chris linked his neutron and ion guns, dropping a Darket into his sights
and opening fire. But the damn thing was fast, turning sharply to completely
avoid Chris’s salvo. “ Speedy buggers, aren’t they, sir?”
“ Damn straight, but just keep your breakfast down and we’ll be fine,
Rescue Two,” Wright replied.
Chris barrel rolled to port as the bogey opened up on him with his meson
guns. Damn, how he hated meson guns. True, energized shields could stop
them, and they did squat inside an atmosphere, but a fighter wouldn’t last long
when pounded with those guns for a sustained period. He leveled out his
Hellcat, swooped around to target the Darket again. His shots hit this time,
however, and the light fighter lost a wing. The Kilrathi pilot hissed in anger as
Chris targeted his engines and fired an ImRec. The Darket spun around, flying
apart at the seams. “ Kilrah, I die for you!!” he howled, even as one last quick
explosion engulfed him and, quite spectacularly, his wingman, who managed to
eject. Chris laughed out loud as the Cat pilot floated helpless in space. As he
flew past him, Chris waved cheerfully at the stranded pilot, and the Kilrathi
waved an angry fist at him.
“ Nice shooting, Lieutenant,” Dirk said. “ But I think I can use a little help
here. I’ve picked up a bogey, and I can’t shake the damn thing!”
“ I’m on my way, Rescue Lead!” he announced, taking off smart targeting
to locate Colonel Wright’s T-Bolt, then hit afterburners, soon seeing the Darket
looming over Stingray. Ineffective laser fire spat out from the Thunderbolt’s rear
turret, but it did squat against the Cat’s shields. The T-Bolt juked to port and
starboard, trying to get rid of the Darket that plagued it. But, yes, it was a fast
little bugger and was always right behind him.
He called up another Spiculum IR missile, cutting the juice as he neared
Stingray and the Darket. The Kilrathi noticed the heavier Hellcat and bolted,
stopping its attack on the T-Bolt and zipping away to port. Chris laughed,
engaging in a pursuit. The Darket bobbed violently to get away from Chris, who
nipped at the bogey’s shields with dual guns. “ Time to taste vacuum, kitty--”
The words had barely been out of his mouth, however, when the Kilrathi
suddenly exploded merely klicks in front of him. Chris yelled in shock as
thousands of flaming shards pelted his forward shields.
“ What the hell was that?” he demanded.
Stingray’s weakened T-Bolt flew up to Chris’s wing. “ That son of a bitch
blew his own ship up, catching you in the blast. The old kamikaze tactic. Well,
that looks like that’s all of them, Lieutenant. Thanks for saving my ass.”
“ No problem, Rescue Lead.” The autopilot light lit and after the brief trip
to Nav Two, Chris saw their Tarsus. It was an ungainly little craft, to be sure,
battle damaged, and bobbing and weaving against an Orion Razor fighter. Chris
detected the remains of two other Razors. Looks like whoever was piloting the
Lucky Star was putting up one hell of a fight. Even before they had come into
weapons range of the little pirate fighter, the Tarsus let loose with a volley of
mass driver rounds, tearing through the Razor’s shields and shredding it to
pieces. Wow, Chris thought, grinning.
“ This is Rescue Patrol from the TCS Enterprise,” Stingray stated.
“ Tarsus freighter Lucky Star, are you in need of assistance?”
An attractive, raven haired women seemingly in her mid-twenties
appeared upon his VDU, disheveled but well. “ Are you shitting me?” she
snapped. “ I’ve just ran through three systems on cloak for the past four days! Of
course, I’m in need of assistance. You’re one of the dumbest pilot jocks I’ve ever
met, Rescue Patrol, and I’ve been around for two-hundred years.”
And it wasn’t until later that Janice Carmichael’s last statement made any
sense to 2nd Lieutenant Christopher Edison or Colonel Dirk Wright.

OCS Leviathan
Hadrian Quasar (Hadrian System), Outlands
1147 hours (CST)

“ The jump shall commence in two days! If does not, than you shall die!”
Giovanni Valentino roared, his black eyes glassed over in his madness. Tobias
Hart writhed in agony on the deck, Valentino bending his leg at an unnatural,
and painful, angle. The Consortium invasion armada had been building up
nicely these past four days. Thirty ships were now assembled, soon to be more,
all of which were centered on the massive dreadnought Leviathan, Valentino’s
brainchild. The vessel was surely a force to reckon with, as was Valentino.
And he would send this invasion armada straight to Earth, the home of
the Terran Confederation, through that man writhing on the deck. Tobias Hart,
the three-centuries old leader of the Navigators, was a powerful telekinetic and
could rip open the fabric of the space-time continuum, creating a wormhole for
Valentino’s grand armada. If only the damned wretch would cooperate.
Brandishing insults to the messenger of Nike, the Greek goddess of Victory,
would only result in pain, and Valentino hated to injure the poor man. What
choice did Hart have anyhow? Assist the Consortium... or die. And how
Valentino would hate to kill Hart. After all, who else could do what had to be
Well... there was the Navigator cell his troopers had abducted from the
Titus System. Those had been mostly the original Navigators, the crew of the
long gone SS Santa Maria. Some day, he hoped to use the Navigators’ TK powers
to bring the galaxy to its knees. The Confederation, the Kilrathi, the Border
Worlds and Landreich... All would kneel before him or be slaughtered.
At last, he let go of his death grip on Hart’s leg, turning away in disgust
from the little man. “ He will learn,” he whispered darkly to his Chief of Navy,
Space Marshall Hans von Metz. The man, a former sergeant in Valentino’s
platoon, was but a shadow of his former self. He legs, long gone, were replaced
my mechanical stilts, making the emaciated man extremely tall. The Marshall
was bald, save for a long white ponytail snaking out from his scalp, and his nails
were a foot long each, constructed of titanium. They could slice through
“ He will have to, milord,” von Metz rasped, his steel jaw creaking as he
forced the words out. “ The jump will commence in but two days. We will be
ready by then.” He tilted his head towards Tobias Hart, who was slowly
crawling to his feet. “ He will have to be.” He waved a claw toward the writhing
energies of the Hadrian Quasar. “ If he is not, then we will not be able to jump
the Quasar, and all which we have worked for will be for naught.”
Valentino nodded, but his thoughts suddenly strayed to Vagargk and the
Skarr’var’Rhis. Why hadn’t they destroyed the Enterprise yet? What was taking
them so long? Had Vagargk ran? Damn, he had been looking forward to killing
that furry bastard.

If I'm locked on, there's no such thing as evasive action!
You'll burn yourself out, D5. And you'll burn us out

**A carrier landing was always the most difficult things a combat pilot ever had to accomplish.** - Isn't it lucky that all carriers have the Automated Carrier Landing System?

**“ Oh, only a couple of kills,” ** - It only takes five to get an Ace ribbon...

**He remembered old Doug talking about them being his favorite bird back during the War.** - I guess everybody likes the Ferrets.

**his auburn locks** - Ah, good. He's got his hair back

**If she was not at her best, then she could no more use her telekinesis than she could pee standing up!** - Uh... yes. I see. That's an... interesting... analogy

**Four days after he had arrived on board the Francis-Marion assault escort carrier TCS Enterprise, 2nd Lieutenant, TCSF, Christopher “Wizard” Edison woke up feeling refreshed.** - Four days? Sure took him a while to wake up
. You might want to rephrase that...

**Stingray nodded. “ Who are you taking up there? I need to log it down because I’m working as OOD this shift.”
“ Not anymore you’re not,” Dirk said with the slight hint of a smile.** - Does Stingray talk to himself frequently

**He called up another Spiculum IR missile,** - Oh, mighty Spiculum, I summon thee...

Ok, I guess that's about all. I'm sure Matrix will come by soon enough with all the real nitpicks
. Other than that, quite good, though quite odd at times...
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Me? Burn out? Naw. I'm already a good way through Chapter Six now...

As for my "interesting analogy"... Hey, you say stupid stuff after going twenty-four hours sine somnus (that's without sleep for you non-Latin speakers). It's funny when you're dead tired, honest!

I put in that "auburn locks" bit there just for you, Quarto.

As for Stingray talking to himself (
) that is actually one whole paragraph with Chris's speach, so those are Chris's words. Because of the way the sentences arrange themselves once I cut and paste them into my post from MS Word, it seems to be two paragraphs, even though they're not.

Quite odd... Why, whatever do you mean?

Ah, once again I thank you for reading my simple tale. It only gets more complicated from here...

If I'm locked on, there's no such thing as evasive action!

[This message has been edited by Dralthi5 (edited March 13, 2000).]
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I put in that "auburn locks" bit there just for you, Quarto.
Oooh... that's so nice

Quite odd... Why, whatever do you mean?
Why, whatever don't I mean
? You put in some very... unusual... remarks every once in a while
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Yeah, well I'm a nice guy
. Seriously, you did make a big deal over the hair issue.
But not that there's anything wrong with that...

If I'm locked on, there's no such thing as evasive action!
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Keep that pace and you're gonna end up writing faster than Quarto.


PS.: what happened here... looks like someone turned the board upside down.

"This matter winds itself ever in new riddles.", Faramir - The Lord of The Rings
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That's because the board was turned upside down, Klaus
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Twilight Zone returns...


"This matter winds itself ever in new riddles.", Faramir - The Lord of The Rings
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What is going on, guys? Is there a speed writing contest taking place that I'm not aware of?
(remember: big grin!)
I wasn't able to go online for a few days now and there are new chapters of each story popping up like bug fighters out of an artificial wormhole! Well, now you'll have to wait for comments until I'm finished reading.

Ok, here are some comments:

- Carrier landings: I guess it's only difficult if you have to land manually (TPoF reference
). Otherwise the tractor beam/magnetic plate system seems to make it pretty simple!

- Spyder/Wizard scene: Hmmm....seems familiar somehow

- Pinscher/Pitbull squad: Is there a Chihuahua squadron, too?

I have to repeat myself again. I like it, especially for those different characters!

No one will hear your cry of death in the void of space
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Well, Nighthawk, in pretty much every novel ya read, there's some reference to carrier landings being difficult, so, even with the ACLS, it'd probably still be a tad hard.

As for the familiar Spyder/Wizard scene: Yup, that was kinda my point. I always give homages to WC products out there with some of my stuff. e.g. Some of my lines are similar or identical to those in the movie, or Prophecy, or so on. Just one of my quirks.

Heh, Chihuahua Squadron. Nope, the only other squadron I've mentioned is Bloodhound (in the next chapter). Hell, I'm running out of vicious dog names, though. Suppose I'll have to make my next squadron Poodle Squadron, huh?

Well, thanks again for reading it!

Expect Chapter Six soon, as well as my next story, a rather interesting tale entitled Invasion...

If I'm locked on, there's no such thing as evasive action!
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Hehe, I think, that's the reason why most people take different types of serpents as squadron names. There are more of them and all sound somewhat menacing!

No one will hear your cry of death in the void of space
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The return of the nitpicker.

<LI>&gt;A carrier landing was always the most difficult things a combat pilot ever had to accomplish.&lt; - Thoughts getting ahead of your writing? You must've been thinking of "was the most difficult thing" and "was one of the most difficult things" simultaneously.
<LI>&gt;One could be off by just a fraction of an inch&lt; - Aren't you exaggerating just a little? Besides in space there's no gravity - you can drift in slow as you please.
<LI>&gt;killing himself&lt; - What? No airbags?

<LI>&gt;Yaeger Air Base&lt; - Hmm. Might want to check that spelling. I'm pretty sure it's Chuck Yeager.
<LI>&gt;some nice memories.”&lt; - How about good...or better yet fond memories?
<LI>&gt;as if he needed to prove something to her.&lt; - *nod* Right on the money.
<LI>&gt;as if he never existed,&lt; - I'm getting movie flashbacks...
<LI>&gt;Does not Machine earn more than that?”&lt; - Better deserve than earn.
<LI>&gt;“ Look, buddy,&lt; - Be carefull with buddy. It can be quite derogative.
<LI>&gt;Machine earns more than that,&lt; -, leabe it. But change the other earn above.
<LI>&gt;If not for yourself, than for me...&lt; - Then for me.
<LI>&gt;buddy. Thanks.”&lt; - That's really odd how he goes between "buddy" and "sir" but never uses his name.
<LI>&gt;Chris finally felt truly happy for the first time in a long time at this moment.&lt; - Too many time/moments. Consider re-phrasing.
<LI>&gt;Chris sighed, remember the cruel prank&lt; - Remembering.
<LI>&gt;“ Sir?” he ventured testily.&lt;
<LI>&gt;I don’t have time for you.”&lt; - "Because I have to stop a suicide, give you a psychological analysis, save the world, and be home in time for tea."

<LI>&gt;Psychiatrist to every senior officer&lt; - LOL! I was right!
<LI>&gt;Chris ventured,&lt; - A somewhet odd word to indicate speech.
<LI>&gt;If she was not at her best, then she could no more use her telekinesis than she could pee standing up!&lt; - Huh? I don't geddit.

<LI>&gt;Four days after he had arrived on board the Francis-Marion assault escort carrier TCS Enterprise, 2nd Lieutenant, TCSF, Christopher “Wizard” Edison woke up feeling refreshed.&lt; - Heh. Four days is a lot of sleep. How about saying that four days had passed since his arrival, and then that he woke up feeling refreshed in a new sentence.

<LI>&gt;see how it worked on the other side&lt; - How things worked?
<LI>&gt;Chris had agreed, albeit reluctantly at first, but he had eventually warmed to the idea.&lt; - Consider removing one but.
<LI>&gt;ran through the usual and retreated to the rec room&lt; - The usual what?
<LI>&gt;“Did I just make a suggesting or an order,&lt; - Suggestion...and you generally give orders, not make them.
<LI>&gt;kicking up dust from the flight deck,&lt; - Can we get someone to sweep that mess up?

<LI>&gt;Finally, he was clear and he lifted his landing gear and pulled up onto Stingray’s wing.&lt; - Double and.
<LI>&gt;Damn straight,&lt; - Damn straight.
<LI>&gt;The T-Bolt juked to port and starboard,&lt; - Juked?
<LI>&gt;seemingly in her mid-twenties&lt; - Must have one helluva plastic surgeon.

<LI>&gt;“ I’ve just ran through three systems on cloak for the past four days!&lt; - Confusion of tenses. I'd suggest "I've been running through..."
<LI>&gt;And it wasn’t until later that Janice Carmichael’s last statement made any sense to 2nd Lieutenant Christopher Edison or Colonel Dirk Wright.&lt; - What a horrid way to end off. At least get rid of the and.
<LI>&gt;If does not, than you shall die!&lt; - Unless Valentino forgets basic grammar whilst he raves on, that should be "If it does not, then you shall die!"
<LI>&gt;his black eyes glassed over&lt; - I believe that's glazed.
<LI>&gt;death grip on Hart’s leg,&lt; - BWAAAHAHAHAAHA! Stop it! You're killing me!
<LI>&gt;Had Vagargk ran?&lt; Or rather, had he run.
Once again a nicely flowing read despite the few oddities. I'm interested in seeing the threads converge. Oh and you haven't used Doberman or Pittbull.

"Dying is easy, it's living that scares me to death." - Cold (Annie Lennox)
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Or Rottweiler (sp?) for that matter...

"This matter winds itself ever in new riddles.", Faramir - The Lord of The Rings
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What would I do without ya, Matrix?
Usually when I write I'm not worried about getting it posted anywhere, and so I'm more careful. Once I get toward the end of a chapter, I'm so excited about getting it up here, that I, of course, miss a few things.

In response:

1.) Yeah, that must be it.
2.) &lt;groan&gt; Yes.
4.) You're probably right.
7.) Hell, never thought of that.

17.) I put that line in there in order to avoid any, " Why is a junior pilot helping all of these senior officers through tough times?" comments.

18.) It's prefectly all right.
19.) Neither do I...

20.) You see, it makes sense the way I meant it. He woke up four days after he had arrived on board. Of course, there were other times he woke up, but he also woke up at this particular time, four days after he had arrived on board the Enterprise... Yeesh, let's just let it go, I'm getting a headache!
28.) It basically means to pull sharply to one side.

-All the other things are just careless mistakes that I'll be more careful about next time.

-And, by the way, I have used Pitbull.

If I'm locked on, there's no such thing as evasive action!
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