1997/98 The Armageddon Factor PBeM: The Search

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction Chat' started by Broadcast, May 6, 2010.

  1. Broadcast

    Broadcast 1st Lieutenant

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    Forward: Was digging through some really old CDRs I had kicking around in a box and found my old PBM from the early days of the CIC... 1997/98 PBeM... if any of you guys who collaborated on this are still kicking around, I'd love to finish the story with you... it'd be interesting to see how our writing styles have changed and/or matured.

    This story branch starts shortly after Chapter 2 of the main TAF story


    Here's a groovy story thaty I FINALLY wrote. Here we go.....

    ===========================
    = TAF: The Search; Part 1 =
    = By Drew "Burst" Mann =
    ===========================



    ===================
    = Captain's Cabin =
    = TCS Kinshasa =
    ===================

    Captain Linda Rondoh inserted the small wafer into her private
    computer, and watched the message flash onto the screen: "CLASS AAA
    INFORMATION, FOR CAPTAIN LINDA HUBERT'S EYES ONLY. COMPROMISING CLASS
    AAA INFORMATION IS A CAPITAL WARTIME OFFENSE, WARRENTING EXECUTION"
    Linda's eyes widened, in shock. She had (until now) no clue of what
    was on this disk. All she knew is that Admiral Richards had handed it
    to her at the end of the Jutland's debreifing, with instructions not
    to let anyone else see it. She could now see why. Keying the screen
    to go on, she suddenly saw Admiral Richard's face appear and begin:
    "Ah, Captain Hubert. I'm sorry I couldn't deliver this briefing in
    person, but I have many pressing duties to take care of. Since we
    can't exchange pleasantries, I'll get straight to the point. Your
    ship has been selected for a covert ops mission. "As you know, the
    Jutland just returned from a disastrous engagement with a Kilrathi
    battle fleet in the Eltanin 7 system. We have very good reason to
    believe that the cats are protecting something or someone that they
    really don't want us to get our hands on. We need you
    to find out what that something is.
    "By 1400 today, a team of eight covert ops code breakers will be
    coming aboard your ship, carrying with them our most advanced short
    range cracking equipment, which I can't go into detail about for
    security reasons. Let's just say, these people are the best. "When
    they finish loading, you'll be heading out, with the TCS Hercules, (a
    fueler,) and a detachment of four Broadswords. " As he explained the
    ships the Kinshasa would escort, the screen changed to a sector map
    with icons representing the two capital ships and the Broadswords
    superimposed over the fleet's current system.
    "You'll be heading a round about course through three systems,
    systems were you won't run
    into any kitties, finally hitting a previously uncharted jump point
    into the D'tark 3 system, where the kitty fleet is holing up. This is
    were the fueler will turn back, and you'll go in with the
    Broadswords."
    The icons moved along the sector map, finally hitting the bright red
    dot of the
    D'tark 3 system. The screen then changed to a close up view of the
    system, showing the suspected position of the battle fleet and a large
    asteroid field.
    "Two Broadswords will jump in single file, with you right after them.
    Then, the other
    two 'swords will jump in. They well get in as close formation with you
    as possible. Of course, your ship will also be equipped with some
    heavy duty jamming systems, that will keep the kitties from getting
    any readings on individual ships. All that will show up on their
    screens is a large area of fuzz in your current position. But the
    thing has a short range, and eats power like you wouldn't believe.
    "You'll be heading straight for the 'roids, at max speed. If you run
    into any resistance, the Broadswords will take them out before they
    can report exactly what's in the system. It will be tricky, because
    the Broadswords will have to stay within the jamming threshold. "Once
    you hit the 'roids, your ship will head straight in, and go passive.
    Three Broadswords will peel off, and make a hasty retreat. 1 will
    dock with you, as a little added muscle which you will need to get
    out of the system. Hopefully, the Kilrathi will just think it was a
    failed torpedo run on their carriers or a heavily armed scout
    mission. You'll stay passive in the asteroid field for three days, a
    week at the most. If the covert people haven't completed their
    mission by then, you'll pull out and come home. If you have any
    questions, the covert people have had much fuller briefings, and your
    ship's computer is now being uploaded with more technical details.
    Good luck, I trust we'll see you soon." Linda looked at the screen
    blankly, in shock. To make sure this wasn't a nightmare, she played
    the message back again. Oh yes, it was real. She reclined in her
    chair, looking at the ceiling of her spartanly furnished cabin,
    trying to gather her thoughts. Taking a quick glance at her wall
    clock, she saw it read 1235. The covert ops guys would be there in an
    hour and a half. Sighing, she walked over to a small cabinet set in
    the wall. Extracting a bottle, she quickly poured herself a glass of
    bourbon. She needed it.

    ===============
    = Shuttle J45 =
    ===============

    Commander Bert Jenkins sat in the cramped seating area of the D-3
    class hauler, or "octapig" as most people refered to it. The name was
    correct, the hauler looked a whole lot like a pig with 8 legs. The 8
    legs were for additional storage space. But the D-3 wasn't designed
    for style, it was for hauling equipment. And boy, did he have a lot
    of it. He was in command of the Confederation's top code cracking
    team, the self-named "Cyphers." a non-creative name for a group of
    non-creative people. That was a must on this job,
    you had to be able to interact with machines. People skills, artistry,
    and creativity were secondary issues.
    His team had been together for five long years, and had helped to
    crack three Kilrathi fleet codes wide open. They were tightly knit,
    partly because they sometimes worked side by side for fourteen hours
    straight, and partly because there were only three of them: Jenkins,
    Lt. Commander Lauren Bussjuball, and Lt. Jane Joos. Bussjuball was as
    plain and mousy as they come. Nothing at all distinguished her from
    any other girl you might see at a bar, but she was a great cracker
    and completely tireless. Bert had read over her fitness report, which
    showed she needed only four hours of sleep a night, due to something
    out of whack in her metabolism. Joos was strikingly beautiful, with
    an infinete depth to her eyes. Many would wonder why she was doing
    such un-glamorous work, while she could be a model or an actor with a
    snap of her fingers. But that wouldn't satisfy her, she was the rare
    combination of beauty and brains. But Jenkins had no such thoughts
    about her, he was a calm, detached professional. He'd been with
    Confed all his adult life, and if there was one thing he'd learned,
    it was never to get involved with ANYBODY with a war on. A beep
    sounded, signaling the docking was about to take place. The "octapig"
    slowly moved up alongside the TCS Kinshasa, extending a small arm
    into the frigate's port side airlock. It cut all speed, the arm
    pulling it towards the airlock, until the two ships were side by
    side, their air locks perfectly lined up. Bert looked over at the
    airlock entrance, and saw the lights cycle from red to green, the
    pressure equalized. Motioning for his companions to follow him, he
    picked up a small packet and a Confed issue duffel bag, and strode to
    the airlock and keyed it open. He suddenly found himself face to face
    with the imposing figure of Captain Linda Rondoh. He quickly turned
    and saluted the ship's colors, painted on the wall. With that, he
    turned and faced the Captain again, saluting and stating: "Permission
    to come aboard, sir." Rondoh dryly replied: "Permission granted."
    Rondoh was indeed an imposing figure. At 6 foot 5, she had to duck to
    get through most of the ship's corridors. She had salt and pepper
    hair, and steel gray eyes which looked as if they could cut a hole
    straight through durasteel. Her face had numerous burn scars about
    it, which (as Bert had read) were aquired when she had been caught in
    the destruction of the Formidable, an Exeter class destroyer, ten
    years ago. The Captain just stared at Bert for a moment, and he found
    himself tightly clutching the small packet he held in his left hand.
    Suddenly remembering his duty, he thrust the packet forward and said:
    "Admiral's orders." Rondoh read over the orders quickly, and her
    heart fell. They required the transfer of six enlisted men and one
    officer off of the ship, to make room for quarters and storage space
    the covert people needed. The reason this upset her was one of the
    enlisted men was their cook, Mandara Sull. She could make the most
    spectacular Vegan meals anybody had ever tasted. A note said the
    reason Mandara was transfered off was they needed the galley space
    for equipment. This meant nobody would be able to cook, they would
    have to live on the hideous dehydrated standard rations.
    "They'll be carried out." Linda said simply, and then, "When
    will your loadout be complete?"
    "About four hours, faster if you can spare some crew members for
    hauling." Jenkins replied. "I've got a few that can be spared.
    Anything else?" Rondoh said, with a bit of an edge to her tone. Bert
    gulped. "No sir." "All right then, I'll be on the bridge." said
    Rondoh, as she abrubtly walked off in the opposite direction. Bert
    exchanged meaningful glances with his companions, and set about his
    work.

    ========================
    = Bridge, TCS Kinshasa =
    = Four Hours Later =
    ========================

    Linda felt a surge of pride as she surveyed her bridge crew. They all
    efficiently went about their tasks, not a single one of them green.
    She hated breaking in green crew members, especially going into a
    combat situation. One "beginner's folly" could cost her entire crew
    their lives. "How long 'till we get underway?" Linda bellowed to the
    young tech. Linda made it a point to always talk loudly on the
    bridge, it kept the crew on their toes. "Engines at 89%, estimating 2
    minutes sir." the tech replied. Linda nodded and sat in her command
    chair, reflecting on the current situation. The transfered crew
    members had left without protest on the hauler that brought the
    covert people over. She had delegated a few crew members who were
    competent enough to handle sensitive equipment to haul the code
    cracking gear on board. By now, about a third of the ship was taken
    over by arcane gadgetry that did god-knows-what. But that didn't seem
    to effect the crew, and so far there hadn't been any wild rumors
    about the mission they were undertaking. "Engines at full sir." the
    tech announced. "Signal the Hercules to set course for jump point
    37-B3. Set us the same course, engines at full, let's go." "Aye,
    Captain." The mighty frigate sped away at a good clip, suddenly
    disapearing in a purplish vortex. They were on their way.


    Comments, criticism, pipe bombs, first born children welcome.

    -Drew
     
  2. Broadcast

    Broadcast 1st Lieutenant

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    Hello, Aces.

    I'm stopping the writing of my INDY PBM - "The Simirat". Another guy that
    will soon join the aces will continue it. His name is Lev Kerjner, and I
    think his nickname will be "Hotshot".=20
    Instead of the "Simirat", I'm joining to an other PBM - TAF.
    So, from now on, I'm going to write the "TAF: The Search"'s.=20

    So, this is it:

    TAF: The Search, Part 2

    TCS Kinshasa
    Captain's Cabin=20
    Dillas System=20
    0925 hours

    "Hello Captain Rondoh, there is something I have to tell you about."
    Jenkins sat down on the couch near Rondoh's desk.

    "Yes, Commander, what did you want to tell me?" the Captain sat on her
    chair.

    "Well, as you can see, Confed is very worried about this Kilrathi weapon.
    And they told me and my men to do all that is possible for the success of
    the mission." Jenkins' voice sounded confident.

    "What are you trying to say, Commander?"=20

    "I'm trying to tell you that Admiral Richards himself, gave me full
    jurisdiction aboard the Kinshasa." Jenkins sounded very pleased.

    "What?!" Rondoh was outrageous.

    "Captain, you are still the commander of this vessel, it's just that from
    now on, you take orders from me." Jenkins stood up. "If I will encounter
    any resistance from you, captain, I have the authority to lock you up."

    Jenkins left the room, leaving captain Rondoh shocked and confused .

    TCS Kinshasa
    Ship's Bridge
    Dillas System
    1213

    Captain Rondoh was very upset when she left her cabin. She planned to stay
    in her room and think how to block Jenkins' orders. The only reason she
    left her cabin was the call from the bridge. She took the elevator and in a
    few seconds she reached bridge.

    "What's going on, Martinez?" She asked the communications officer.

    "Captain, our radar and communication systems are malfunctioning." Martinez
    was confused.

    "What is the reason for these malfunctions?"=20
    Jenkins entered the room.

    "The reason is pretty simple: All our radar jam equipment. It makes our
    radar fuzzy too." Jenkins treated Martinez like an inferior human, only
    because of the 2nd Lt. Rank he had.

    "But these malfunctions started when the Broadswords arrived=85" Martinez
    stopped talking when Jenkins started laughing.

    "2nd Lt. Martinez=85 Don't you think that we started activating the radar
    jamming equipment when the Broadswords arrived? Or you are not thinking at
    all?" Jenkins humiliated Martinez.

    "Commander Jenkins! Don't talk to my crew like this! Don't forget, that I'm
    still a captain and you are still only a commander!" Rondoh was furious.

    "Captain Rondoh, would step a side for a moment." Jenkins and Rondoh left
    the room.

    "What do you think you are doing? Humiliating my crew=85"

    "Captain, don't forget our little chat in your cabin. I do what I want on
    this ship, until I'll get other orders. Understood?" Jenkins entered the
    bridge again. Captain Rondoh went back to her cabin.

    "Martinez=85 Never mind=85" Jenkins sat down on a chair in the Bridge.=
    "Helm,
    when will we arrive at the 3rd nav point?"

    "We will arrive at the 3rd Nav point in 12 minutes and 23 seconds." The
    navigation officer was still stunned from the control demonstrated by
    Jenkins.

    "Thank you."

    TCS Kinshasa
    Ship's Bridge
    Dillas - Zor'kah Jump point.
    1230

    "Martinez, ask the Broadsword leader when will he be ready to jump."
    Jenkins was sitting on the Captain's chair while Captain Rondoh was in her
    cabin.

    "Defender, when will you be ready to jump?" Martinez asked.

    "Me and Polaris will jump to the Zor'kah system immediately when you will
    close this communication channel." Defender was calm and ready.

    "Roger, Defender. Kinshasa out." Martinez closed the communication channel.
    Defender and Polaris opened 2 jump holes and entered in it.

    "Initiating jump sequence." Rasal the Nav. Officer said.
    The Kinshasa opened a jump hole and entered in it. A few seconds after
    that, Sharp's and Valiant's Broadswords entered their own jump holes.

    "We are in the Zor'kah system, Sir." Rasal said.

    "Dolpas, call the captain." Jenkins said "Martinez, where are we exactly?"

    "We are in the edge of the Zor'kah system. Zor'kah's gravity is very weak
    here. And we are very far from the ideal places for a fleet in the system.
    I'm sure that if there is a Kilrathi force blocking our way to the asteroid
    field, it will be in the dark side of the 5th or 4th planet. And from this
    kind of distance their sensors can't detect us." Martinez was pleased that
    Jenkins stopped bothering him with his insults.
    Jenkins stood up while the captain was entering the room.

    "Captain." Jenkins welcomed Rondoh with a fake voice.

    "Commander." Rondoh's pleased voice was fake too.=20
    She went to the comm. Console quickly. Rondoh pressed a few buttons and
    Defender's face were on the comm. screen.

    "Ah, Captain it's good to see your face for the first time in this
    mission." Defender didn't like Jenkins (like every creature in the radius
    of 20000 km's).

    "Hello Defender. It's been a long time since we last met." The captain
    laughed.

    "Yeah=85 The last time we met wasn't so cheerful, huh=85" Defender started
    remembering the destruction of the Formidable=85 The great explosion=85 The
    'Mayday' calls for help=85

    "Well, let's try to make this mission more=85 Happy." A tear dropped on
    Rondoh's cheek.

    "Hey, Linda=85 It's all gone. Try to forget it and go on with your life,=
    look
    at me. Today, I'm the best pilot around. Ha!"

    "Defender=85 You are still modest as ever. Let's get to business: The
    Kinshasa going to fly to the asteroid field, while you and the other
    Broadswords fly really close to us. If we will come under attack, you will
    break formation and kill the attackers. Don't forget that we can't give you
    reinforcement except for two Epees. Understood?" Rondoh was eager to finish
    the mission as soon as possible.

    "Sure. When was the last time I didn't understand orders, Linda? Ha!"=20

    "Kinshasa Out." Rondoh pressed on the "end transmission" button.

    "captain, you can return to your cabin. I can take this situation from now
    on to my hands." Jenkins said.

    "Commander, I prefer staying here in MY bridge and sit on MY captain's
    chair, if you don't mind."=20

    "Of course, captain." Jenkins smiled, a fake smile.

    TCS Kinshasa
    Flight Deck
    Zor'kah System
    1804

    "I will not let you do this!" Captain Rondoh was angry.

    "But mom! You know I'm the best pilot on this ship!" 1st Lt. Trevor Rondoh
    was angry too.

    "The Broadsword pilots can take care of themselves. I don't think they will
    require an Epee, and besides, I think you will only cause them trouble."
    Rondoh didn't mean to let her son to fly the Epee in this mission.

    "Quit it, Mom! I know you are just trying to protect me, but I'm no longer
    a kid. You know that additional firepower won't hurt the Broadswords. And I
    can take Colt with me. That way we will cover each other's back. Please=85"
    Trevor 'Wrath' Rondoh was a stubborn man. He planned to fly the Epee even
    if his mother won't let him.

    "Okay, Okay=85 But, you will launch only if the Broadswords or the Kinshasa
    are in trouble. Okay?" the captain was sure that Kyle 'Defender' Haverson
    and his men will do a good job and her son won't have to risk his life in
    the Epee.

    "CAPTAIN RONDOH, REPORT TO THE BRIDGE IMMEDIATELY" the voice in the
    loudspeaker said.

    "Trevor, I don't want you to do anything stupid. You will launch only if I
    will tell you to, Okay? Bye." Captain Rondoh started walking towards the
    elevator.

    "Yeah, Bye." Trevor said to himself.

    TCS Kinshasa
    Ship's Bridge
    Zor'kah System
    1806

    "What's going on?" the captain asked.

    "Martinez, tell her the exact details." Jenkins didn't say Rondoh's rank on
    purpose.

    "Well, Captain, our sensors detect a Kilrathi fighter team, even though
    they are still malfunctioning. They are heading to our position, and at
    their current rate, they will reach cannons range in less then two minutes.
    What are your orders captain?" Martinez was nervous.

    "Tell Defender and his Broadswords to attack. Get ready two Epee pilots in
    the flight deck but don't launch them yet." The Captain didn't want her son
    to fly, yet.

    "Are you sure about that, captain? You're not doing it from personal
    considerations, aren't you?" Jenkins sounded like the devil himself.

    "No, Jenkins, No."

    "Then you won't mind if I put your son out of the flying roster for this
    battle, won't you?"=20

    "No, Commander."

    Jenkins started pressing some buttons on a console near him. He put Colt
    and Powers on the flight roster.

    "Satisfied, Jenkins?"=20

    "Yes, captain."

    The 4 Broadsword approached the Kilrathi fighters.

    "I see 5 Sarthas" Sharp said.

    "I see 2 Jalkehis too." Polaris said.

    "So what? They are only 7 and we are 4. As usual, we are gonna kill 'em."

    Defender was confident, as usual.

    "You inferior Humans. You shall taste the power of the nar Caxki clan!" One
    of the Jalkehis fighters said.

    "Come on guys, Let's fry some kitties!" Defender said.
    Polaris and Defender started attacking one of the Jalkehis. They both used
    their triple mass driver cannons. Almost all of their shots were accurate
    and in a few seconds, the Jalkehi blew up.

    "I need help, guys." Sharp said.

    "Coming to the rescue, Sharp." Valiant said.

    "What will be our next target, Defender?" Polaris asked.

    "This Jalkehi!" Defender started shooting on a unique Jalkehi - This
    Jalkehi was painted with a green color.

    "Maybe it's recycled=85" Polaris said while he was shooting with his mass
    driver.

    "No, no, no. I'm going to recycle it right now!" Defender turned his
    Broadsword, and started shooting his fast right side cannon. In a few
    seconds, the Jalkehi was destroyed.

    "One less Kilrathi!" Valiant said after he destroyed a Sartha that was
    chasing Sharp.

    "Thanks, Valiant." Sharp loaded a Pilum FF missile. "eat this, kitty!" he
    fired the missile and the missile hit a the last Jalkehi. The Jalkehi was
    neutralized, and couldn't move faster than 20 kps.=20

    "He's all yours, Valiant." Sharp smiled, then locked on another fighter.
    Valiant moved to an attack position near the Jalkehi.

    "Thank you Sharp, I think I'm gonna fry a Jalk=85" A Heat-Seeker missile=
    hit
    Valiant's Broadsword, and destroyed all of his back shields. Then, two
    Sarthas arrived behind him and started shooting on his exposed armor. In a
    few seconds, the Broadsword blew up.

    "Kinshasa, this is Defender. Valiant is DOWN. I repeat, Valiant is down.
    Shit! End transmission." Defender started shooting at the Jalkehi. In a few
    seconds, it was destroyed too.

    "You hairy Kilrathi!" Sharp fired his 2nd FF at a Sartha, and destroyed it.
    Two Epees arrived at the battle scene.

    "Hello, Broadswords. We are Colt and Powers." Colt said.
    He started in a pursuit after a Sartha.=20

    "Kaboom!" He destroyed the Sartha quickly with his Particle cannons.

    "two more Sarthas are out there. You can do it guys!" Martinez announced in
    a message to all of the pilots.

    "Hey, I'm in trouble. My front and rear shields are down, and they are not
    regenerating. I don't know what to do!" Powers sounded very panicked.
    Defender destroyed another Sartha with a FF missile.

    "Well, now there is nothing to be afraid of, Powers." Polaris said while he
    destroyed the last Sartha.

    "Return to the Kinshasa, pilots. The battle is over." Martinez didn't know
    about the Kilrathi battlegroup that was hiding in the asteroid field=85

    To Be Continued=85

    That's all.

    Bye!
    Ilan "Fireball" Rosenfeld
    rose@rannet.com

    and my favorite quote:=20
    - "How much do you hate the bloody romans?" =20
    - "A LOT!"

    - Monty Python, "The Life of Brian"
     
  3. Broadcast

    Broadcast 1st Lieutenant

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    Part 3 is missing! So here's part 4


    Hello Aces!

    I want to start with an annoucnment about my new site - "The Fey Space
    Station". It's at:

    http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Palms/5233/fey.htm

    The site tells about the Lyra sector, Rim Trading Inc, a new sector that I
    invented and a lot more. I will soon mail you all the PBMs I wrote over
    there. Don't forget to drop by and sign in the trading log.

    Oh, the site isn't approved for clubwide PBMs yet, so if you want it
    approved, say something, do something or say your opinion! :)=20
    I think that most of the site could help the aces (more PBMs opportunities
    - In the Galar sector, Spider Order, etc.).


    But now, I want to get into the more important part of this e-mail - TAF:
    The Search, part 4.
    Sorry that It took me so long to mail the 4th part of The Search. But here
    it is, enjoy...

    TAF: The Search, Part 4. By Ilan "Fireball" Rosenfeld
    Send all comments about TAF: The Search to rose@rannet.co.il=20

    TCS Kinshasa
    Ship's Bridge
    Zor'kah system
    0804

    "Commander Jenkins!" Martinez said.
    "What is it Martinez?" Jenkins touched his new scar on his cheek.
    "I received a message from sickbay. The Captain is gone." Martinez was sad.
    "Then I'm assuming command of this vessel. From no on, the TCS Kinshasa is
    under my command." Jenkins said.
    "Yes, sir. May I tell 1st Lt. Rondoh about the captain?" Martinez asked.
    "Yes, Martinez. If you'll need me, I'll be at the temporary barracks."
    Jenkins stood up and left the bridge.
    Martinez was left alone in the bridge. He pressed on a button and Wrath's
    face were on the screen.=20
    "Hello, Trevor." Martinez said.
    "Martinez, what's going on in the ship? Is the launch deck repaired yet? We
    are out here for already two days." Wrath said.
    "The flight deck will be repaired in the next few hours." Martinez
    answered.
    "That's what you said yesterday too!" Wrath shouted.
    "This time I'm not lying." Martinez laughed. "Listen, I have to tell you
    something."
    "What is it? you sound bad." Wrath started to worry.
    "It's your mother. She isn't with us any more. She's gone, Trevor."
    Martinez said.
    "NO!" Wrath turned his Epee and started firing at the empty space.
    "Wrath, calm down. You knew that this option is possible. Try to face it
    without hurting anybody else. I lost my best friends in this battle too. I
    felt the same you feel right now when Sharp and Polaris died. But I
    controlled myself." Defender said.


    TCS Kinshasa
    Flight Deck
    Zor'kah system
    1137

    "At last! Martinez, thanks! Now we can dock. Come on Wrath, we are going to
    dock." Defender moved his Broadsword into the flight deck. He landed his
    Broadsword quickly, and a few moments after him, Wrath landed his Epee too.
    They both got out of their fighters. Martinez waited for them in the flight
    deck.
    "Hello, my friends. I have to fill you in with the latest news. OK, we are
    23 people including you two. The new captain is Commander Jenkins. We don't
    have a jump unit, and the only 3 engineers that are still alive estimated
    that they could improvise a jump unit only in a month, if their plans will
    go exactly as planned. The "good" point is that we are in a very long range
    from home and without a jump unit, we can reach home only in 32 years. But,
    we can move to the near systems because they are very close - half a day of
    cruising between a system to another system. So, our plans are: trying to
    maneuver between these systems and avoid Kilrathi forces, and that way
    surviving a month - until the engineers will create a jump unit." Martinez
    finished.
    "Only 23 men?!" Defender started thinking.
    "Who invented this plan? Commander Jenkins?" Wrath asked.
    "No, as a matter a fact, I didn't tell him about it, but I'm sure he will
    accept it. It's the only logical way to act." Martinez didn't think about
    this point.


    TCS Kinshasa
    Ship's Bridge
    Zor'kah system
    1152

    "So, Commander Jenkins, do you accept this plan?" Martinez asked.
    "No."
    "What?! But, commander, it's our only option!" Wrath said.
    "No! we are going to finish this mission. We have orders from Richards.
    What we are going to do is very simple: We will cruise through the systems
    in the area, until we will find what we are looking for: The thing that the
    Kilrathi are guarding. Understood?" Jenkins asked.
    "Yes sir." Defender, Wrath and Martinez said.
    "Martinez, how long before the Kinshasa will be ready to set a course to
    the Anshar system?" Jenkins asked.
    "We can start moving even now, sir. We will arrive there in approximately
    13 hours, sir." Martinez said.
    "Set a course to the Anshar system." Jenkins left the bridge, leaving
    Defender, Wrath and Martinez upset.


    TCS Kinshasa
    Ship's Bridge
    Anshar system
    0224

    "Sir, we are now in the Anshar system." Martinez said.
    "Scan the system for enemy fighters and capital ships." Jenkins said.
    "Sir, our long range sensors were destroyed during the battle at the
    Zor'kah system. We have only short range sensors, that reach only to the
    15th planet." Martinez said.
    "Why didn't you tell me?!"
    "You didn't ask, sir."
    "Okay. let's start moving toward the 6th planet." Jenkins said.
    The Anshar system contained 19 planets, that moved in a unique pattern. A
    year took 421 days on all the planets! The more a planet was far from the
    sun, it's speed was faster. As a result of this, the planets moved
    "together".
    "we are now getting close to the 12th planet." Martinez said.
    "looks like this system is empty, huh?" Defender mumbled.
    Suddenly, Martinez's face were all pale.
    "Sir=85 I'm reading a great amount of energy near the 8th planet." Martinez
    started to shake.
    "Martinez, what could be the cause for this energy readings?" Jenkins
    asked.
    "I don't know=85 probably more than three Dreadnaughts=85"=20
    Silence took over all of the bridge.
    "I think we just found what confed-intelligence wanted us to find=85"=
    Jenkins
    said.


    TCS Kinshasa
    Ship's Bridge
    Anshar system
    0250

    "So, what are we going to do? Any suggestions?" Jenkins asked.
    "I think we should go in there quickly, discover what's going on, and go
    back home." Defender said.
    "Commander, one Dreadnaught is setting a course to the 10th planet. They
    could have noticed us if they were trying to look, but I think they didn't,
    because they are moving in a path that will make them vulnerable. Anyway,
    if they will get to the 10th planet, they will discover us, if they want
    to, or if they don't want to." Martinez said. There was a lot of cold sweat
    on his forehead. He wanted to retreat, but the new captain=85 He will=
    surely
    tell him to attack.
    "Martinez, Set a course to a point that we can hide in." Jenkins said.
    "Wh=85 What? Ah, All right captain." Martinez was surprised to see that the
    captain thought the same way he did.


    TCS Kinshasa
    Ship's Bridge
    Anshar system
    0614

    The Kinshasa was hiding behind the 16th planet. The ship's edge was
    revealed near the edge of the planet, so the crewmen could see what is
    happening near the 10th planet.
    "Come on=85" Jenkins started shivering. He knew that the Dreadnaught is=
    about
    to do something=85But what?
    "Captain, the Dreadnaught stopped moving."
    "Did they detect us?" Jenkins' voice was quiet. 'If the Dreadnaught
    detected us, we will die, and our mission will be a failure' he thought.
    "No, captain they didn't detect us. But they are releasing some king of an
    object from their ship=85"=20
    All of the crew members saw a long missile moving out of the Dreadnaught
    toward the 10th planet.
    "What the hell is that?!"=20
    "It has the same structure as a Torpedo missile=85 but it's really large=85=
    "
    Martinez was barely standing. He felt like he is going to die.
    "I think that we will find out what is this thing soon enough." Jenkins
    said.
    They saw the missile entering the planet's atmosphere, and then, they saw a
    little explosion.
    "That's it?! They need a Dreadnaught to make this little explosion?!"
    Defender was confused. For the first time in his life, he couldn't do
    anything to save his mission because he didn't knew what's going on.
    "This explains it." Martinez looked at his console with a grim look.
    "What?" Jenkins asked.
    "Our sensors detect huge quantities of Narlosium and Varinium spreading all
    over the planet. In this rate, the planet's atmosphere will be 99%
    Narlosium and Varinium in 9 minutes." Marinez sat down on a burned chair.
    "Martinez, what are Narlosium and Varinium, exactly? Is it some kind of a
    poison?" Jenkins didn't understand a word of what Martinez said.
    "Narlosium and Varinium are recently discovered gases. They are breathable,
    but they are creating a Hyper Greenhouse affect."
    "So?" Defender asked.
    "So, the heat inside the planet will stay there, and will get more heat
    from the sun. Eventually, in a few hours, this planet will be cooked,
    melted, and then, vaporized" Martinez left the bridge and went to his
    temporary quarters. Wrath moved to Martinez's console and replaced him.
    "Now, can we go home?" Defender asked Jenkins.
    "I think not, Defender." Wrath said.
    "Why?" Jenkins asked.
    "The Dreadnaught detected us." Wrath said.


    TCS Kinshasa
    Ship's Bridge
    Anshar system
    0622

    "Suggestions?" Jenkins asked.
    The bridge was full of silence.
    "Then, I'll have to make the decision I didn't want to make. Defender, we
    will fill your Broadsword with extra fuel instead of missiles. Then, the
    Kinshasa and it's too Epees will stall the Kilrathi until Defender will
    jump out of the system. Defender, you must get this information to confed
    HQ. You know we don't have many chances here. You will have enough fuel to
    jump to the Dillas system, were you will have to hope that the Hercules is
    still there. Understood? The data is being transferred to the computer on
    your fighter." Jenkins finished the quick briefing.
    "But, Captain, I can't leave you here to die!" Defender said.
    "That's an order, Defender!" Jenkins never faced death before, but now he
    was ready.


    TCS Kinshasa
    Flight Deck
    Anshar system
    0631

    Defender climbed into his Broadsword.
    "You're cleared to take of, Defender. Good Luck!" Martinez said.
    Defender took off and started moving toward the jump point to the Zor'kah
    system. He saw the Dreadnaught getting closer to the Kinshasa. Two other
    Dreadnaughts were very far, but got closer to the Kinshasa too. The Two
    Epee pilots - Wrath and Colt started engaging enemy fighters.
    'Wow, this jump point is very far - about 40000 km. It will take me about 2
    minutes to reach there in full speed. They will catch me=85 shit!' he
    thought.
    "No! Colt is down!" Wrath shouted. He knew that he doesn't stand a chance.
    'I gotta help him=85 the kid will die=85' Defender thought. But he knew=
    that he
    has to keep on with the mission. Only 29000 more kms.


    "What's going, Martinez?" Jenkins asked.
    "The Dreadnaught launched two cap-ship missiles, And we don't have any
    missiles or laser turrets. Hit in 6 seconds." Martinez said. The death was
    getting closer as they spoke.
    "Shit! Evasive maneuv=85" Jenkins stopped talking when the huge explosion
    ripped his head off.
    After two seconds, only some metal plates were floating were the Kinshasa
    was, a few moments ago.=20
    Wrath destroyed one Sartha. Then, two Jalkehis destroyed his Epee. He
    didn't eject.


    Defender was very close to the jump point. 'Only 10 more seconds, I can do
    it!' He thought. 4 fast Sarthas arrived behind him and started attacking
    him.
    He saw that his rear shield was destroyed, and the Armour was beginning to
    fall apart.
    'Yes! Here is the jump buoy! Buzz off Sarthas!" He started firing with his
    rear Neutron Bolts cannon. He destroyed one rookie Sartha.
    He was in only 100 Meters from the Buoy, when he felt an explosion behind
    him. The Jump unit was hit, his damage control unit was destroyed.
    'Nooo!' He thought. He reached the jump point. He knew that the jump unit
    was hit, but he didn't know if it still works. He pressed on the 'jump'
    button.
    A purple vortex opened in front of him. He entered in it, and the Sarthas
    after him.


    A Terran Confederation Broadsword
    Somewhere
    0634

    'What a headache!' Defender woke up and found himself lost in space. The
    Broadsword had no shield, engines, and it's armour suffered critical
    damage. 'The Sarthas must have been destroyed during the jump' he thought.
    'And now I'm a sitting duck, and even my ejection system doesn't work!'
    He waited a few minutes, and then saw a vortex opening 6000 KMs of him.
    'Now, I'm going to die=85' he thought. Closing his eyes.
    He waited a few moments, and understood, that the vessel didn't fire on
    him. He felt that his Broadsword was moving, even without engines.
    He opened his eyes slowly, and saw the TCS Garius, towing his Broadsword
    into it's flight deck.


    After a few moments, he landed and got out of the ship.
    "Hello, pilot." The captain said.
    "Uh=85 what system am I in?" he asked.
    The captain laughed for a few seconds and then said: "You're in the
    Landreich system=85". Defender started walking, and in a few moments he was
    in the rec-room, drinking ale.

    THE END

    Hope you liked it,
    Ilan "Fireball" Rosenfeld
    rose@rannet.co.il
     

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