A busy day.


Vice Admiral

Chapter 1: Getting away from trouble

For the first time in ages, I walk straight. I’ve been drinking myself under the table lately.
It is over.
We lost, and if what I’ve heard about New Varsaw is true,....... Well, those Joint Chiefs blokes might’ve been the lucky ones, dying quickly and all.


I was successful, making profits wherever I went, speculating on the War. If those civvies want to think that a used photon rifle would make them single-handedly repel a Cat assault brigade, who I am to tell’em otherwise ?

Whatever.... Now, I’m like all those guys: totally screwed, as the mightiest force ever gathered is closing to Sol.....and just as happy to nuke us unworthy apes as me when selling enough small arms to a farmer to fill his barn.

But, I have a plan, now.

Simple, and effective: The hotshots Confed pilots fly and die, while I fly and flee, with my crew, my ship and a whole load of goods a radioactive Earth won’t need anymore, to a brave new world: One of the “lost colonies” I got the coordinates two years ago in exchange for a ride to Perry with two containers of cardamine.
Noone knows but my XO, who began preps as soon as I told her what my contact in ConFleet sent me in his report.

I just need to take care of the paperwork, and good bye Ear....

Well, my bad. Word of the situation must have got out while I was away. The spaceport is now crowded by rats leaving the ship.
Could be interesting.....how much one of these CEO would pay for a ticket in a fast ship getting as far as Cats as possible ? Or maybe I’ll let Ben, my pal at the control tower, escape with us.

“Ben, whazzup ?”, I say while entering the control tower, looking at the skinny guy surrounded by Navy officers. He turns and, seeing my face, looks as stunned as if I were Trakath himself.
“What are YOU doing here, Mueller”
“Same thing as all those guys here, of course”, I snap back. What did thought, that I was going to take on this fleet for Confed’s sake ?
After a while, he answers: “I didn’t expect that from a guy like you, but....., if that’s what you want.....”
“There is still some room for you, on the Qin, you know”, I offer him.
“No, sorry. I have still a lot of work to take care of here.”, he answers, after taking five secs to think about it.
I had no time to argue with such an oversized ego, so I left for the Qin Saldi, my key to a deserved retirement.

“You know him ?”, asked the Marine officer to Benjamin Quevillion.
“Yeah, and that’s why I’m stunned. This guy.....he’s kind of a smuggler, and as long as I knew him, he did not care about anything else than his own sake and his profits. And now....”
“Looks like he wasn’t such a selfish guy, after all”, said the officer.
“You know, had he insisted, I’d have followed him.”
“You wouldn’t have done any good: one more man won’t change his crate’s odds against Kilrathi fighters”, said a Navy commander, who lokked rather surprised at Ben’s reaction when hearing him. “What was funny here ? He’ll probably die out there, like all those blokes”
“Sorry”, said the flight controller, “but the Qin Saldi is not what I’d call a....crate. It’s more like a corvette with cargo holds, shields, photon guns and all. So, I tell you, one more man could help, with such a ship to work with.”

The Qin Saldi.....my ship, and a legend of its own. Some said it was more famous among smugglers than the Bonnie Heather was in Secret Ops. After all, it was the unique result of tinkering of techs from Earth to Landreich and, if some gossips were true, even or two Kilrathi techs who rightly thought that their love of shiny circuitry outweighted such a tiny thing as a total interspecies war.
And, after a few not-so-clean deals, this legend was the property of Francis Mueller, a.k.a. me.

When I arrived in the hangar I rented for the week, the crew was already inside making sure everything would go as smoothly as possible. No wonder noone wants to be there to greet those……”less than friendly” visitors.
“Skip, the Qin is fueled, loaded nd ready to go. We’ll have clearance in eighty minutes.”
“OK, Ron, the sooner we’re away the better”, I answered to Veronica Chavez, my XO.
“Couldn’t have said it better.”

I get in the command Room, a tiny CIC “found” in an old gunship, to find everything running. After a quick check-list that only reflects the quality of the Qin’s crew, I sit down and begin to relax.
Only one hour to a clearance to survival.
I take a glance at a screen showing the spaceport, where ships of all sizes are now thrusting upwards. Why those intrasystem business shuttles are taking off, since they obviously lack the jump drive that would get them to safety ?
A light in the CIC interrupt my thoughts: Someone is in the hangar, too close to the hatch for comfort.
“Nell, Andy, come with me. With your guns”, I tell to my two crew members assigned to security.

I totally forgot about getting some lazy, high-revenue passengers, but it seems they did not forget me.
Maybe I’m finally going to make some profits on this trip, after all.

“Colonel Amos, Terran Confederation Marine Corps. I guess you are the commanding officer of the Qin Saldi”, said the newcomer just after I opened the hatch.


Next chapter:

-“What are THOSE guys doing here, boss ?”

-She is smiling….what can this mean…..Oh, yes, of course, it’s only a “We’re screwed and you still show enthousiasm” smile…..


I'll post the following chapter in a few days. If you have any suggestion, don't hesitate, since it's my first "real" text in English.


Rear Admiral
I like it, but this Francis Mueller seems rather clueless, for a successful smugler, huh? Seems like he and his crew are the only ones who don't know what's happening! :D


Vice Admiral
Chapter 2 : Good bye, Lady Luck, see you tomorrow

An über-fleet coming to beat the hell out of mankind, everyone fleeing this planet, and, one hour before my clearance, I finally get caught.
And guess what, by a full batallion of Marines in combat armor, nothing less.
I try to answer: “It’s me. What can I do for you ?”
“Our LC, landing craft, I mean, cannot take off, so I’ll get another ship for my men. And since I’ve heard yours is both shielded and armed, we’ll go with you.”
And as he ended his speech, I saw a hundred exoskeletons wlk toward my ship, each one holding a truly big gun, probably heavier than me. I can only do one thing before they get in: whisper to my security crew: “For God’s sake, don’t say anything, don’t do anything.”

After standing still for a minute or two, I go see the colonel:
“What do you think you’re doing ?”
The good thing about his answer was its quickness. The bad thing was that it slightly crushed all my hopes of getting out of this alive:
“We’re going to get in those Cat carriers and blow them up, of course !”


“Why do you think we’re going in front of those fighters with another thousand civilian ships ?”, he resumes.

Double crap. All those ships are going on a suicide mission, and it looks like I volunteered, back then, with Ben and all those officers. And now, with a hundred of trained commandos on board, willing to die with a few Cats, it seems tat I’ll have a very hard time talking my way out of this.

“What are THOSE guys doing here, boss ?”
Great, as if I needed to explain the situation to Ron, now…………
“Looks like some Marines thought we volunteered for a suicide mission of theirs, a.k.a. boarding a frigging supercarrier in the middle of its fleet”, I answer casually, as if it is just normal.
“They WHAT”, she yells, drawing her gun.
“Stop ! They’re in battle armor, armed to the teeth, willing to die, and they outnumber us 10 to 1.”, I reply, holding her arm. “They’ll just take over the Qin if they discover what we were about to do.”
I think about it quickly, and make up my mind. “We’ll have to pull this out, deliver those morons, and get the hell out of there.
“And the crew”, she asks me, “What will you tell them : “Hello, we’re going to attack a fucking Kilrathi battlewagon with all of its fighters and escorts, land on it, drop Marines and get out before those dumbasses blow themselves away.” ?”
“With a slightly different choice of words…yep, that’s it”, I say, before seeing her glare melting me as surely as a neutron blaster. “It’s not like we have any choice, unless you want to tell this colonel guy: “Hello, we’re smugglers who sold a lot of the weapons separatists and terrorists used against you, and we’d rather let Earth be glowing green from rad weapons than risking our sorry lives.” I don’t think any of us would survive this kind of speech, though.”

After a few seconds of silence, she says: “So, what do we do, skip ?”
A purely rethorical questions. Of course, I know what I have to do. I take the speaker and turn the switch to “General Call”:
“Officers and crew of the Qin Saldi, here is your commander” OK, a good beginning, like Tolwyn’ speech before the attack on Ghorah Khar in yesterday’s movie. As you surely know, the Cats have launched an offensive on Earth, and our fleet is simply unable to win this battle alone. Our one chance is to launch everything we have at them, to allow our Marines to board and blow away their ships. Every time I think about this plan, it appears more clearly that we will get blown away in this madness. I voluteered to go, since if we lose there, we won’t be able to flee far enough to be out of their reach. Oh yes, we could, but I should have read today’s news before going to the spaceport…… Since our ship has some “particularities”, we have been chosen to carry a batallion of Marines and to get them into a carrier. These brave men are there as I speak and I hope we’ll show as much strenght as them today. Or they’ll just shoot us and take control of the Qin. Commander, out.

“A little bit cliché, but not so bad, chief”, I hear behind me.
She’s actually smiling……what can this mean…… Oh, yes, of course, it’s only a “We’re screwed and you still show enthousiasm” smile……


Crappity crap. What did I do before to get involved in that……

Next chapter:

-Heh, first time I find those Marines blokes useful……

-And I think it couldn’t get worse……How naïve.

I'll try to post the next one before Sunday. If I can't, I'll have to wait until next Thursday to post it.


Vice Admiral
Chapter 3 : Fleet Actions for dummies.

Somehow, we could have managed to send them out of the airlock, but, no, I had to get my heroic speech out.

I shitch the intercom to “Engines”, and wait for Cameron, the engineer to answer :
“Are we ready to go ?”

I couldn’t have believed before that someone could express simultaneously doubt, fear and incomprehension with a three-letter word……

“Were you serious, skip ?”
“I’m afraid I am, Cameron. It’s not like we’ve got any choice.”

Of course we had, but I just decided to take and toss it through the nearest hatch.

It took us twenty minutes to be in position alongside the other Marine assault shuttles, twenty minutes during which I tried to enjoy the final moments of my life. Of course, I couldn’t, since I had to convince a third of my crewmembers who couldn’t quite really grasp how charging a full Kilrathi fleet was our best move.

Heh, first time I found those Marines blokes useful : Their group convinced those guys without a word : Some guy said a picture is worth a thousand words. A big photon rifle is then worth a million.

So, finally, I have a few minutes all to myself before the attack……

“Hi there, guys. I’ll be your escort for the attack run.”

Nope, of course. I still have something to deal with.
I turn my head to the comm screen and see a young pilot in his fighter. Someone is already answering.

“Qin Saldi here. Roger that. Happy to have you around……??”

“Oh, sorry, we weren’t introduced. Second lieutenant Alec Crisologo. But call me “Ninja”. ”

A nugget.

We’re attacking supercarriers with our bare hands, and we’re escorted by a single nugget in his light fighter. And I thought it couldn’t get worse……How naive…..

“At least, we’ve got ourselves an escort”, says Veronica, as if she just read in my mind, “which is a lot more than other ships.

“And yes, skip”, she whispered a few seconds later, “I still think we’re totally screwed.”

Since nothing else came on the comm channels, the crew checks what has already been checked twice, and I begin to think High Command forgot about these civvies ships about to die when the order to begin the strike come.
I don’t need to give any order, and, as numerous other ships, the Qin Saldi accelerates, for its first, and probably last, fleet action.
Worse than that, we’re on the same side as Navy’s ships.

A strange thing among a LOT of others even stranger.
And my hunch is it won’t stop today……

“Incoming !”
I hear the single shout on the comm, just before the panicked calls from yachts and other business shuttles.
The Marines in the CIC are still, like robots, almost frightening me.
How can they do ?
“Nav, flank speed on the nearest carrier. Gwen, wait for my orders before firing. Powers on engines and shields.”
Cat fighters are almost there, and our escort destroyers are already firing ImRecs.

“Lock !”
Gwen almost yelled when she saw the alert light lit up.
Not the first time someone tries to shoot us down, so, we know the drill :
“Launch a decoy. Starboard engine stop. Port engine max. Ninja, shoot it down if it comes too close.”

Our escort fighter turns quickly towards the missile, but stays here, as the rocket itself turned to chase the decoy.
When the two contacts merged and disappeared, I ordered to resume the attack.
Keep calm, Francis, they don’t seem a lot smarter than those bounty hunters, so we’ll maybe get out of this alive.

I take a look to the global situation :
Eighty or ninety civilian ships and assault shuttles already disappeared, and the fighters weren’t even at gun range……

After two other minutes, the fighters began to fire, and then, the chaos was complete, fighters dogfighting around shuttles, which disappeared in a bright flash as soon as a fighter managed to get to it.

Crap, it’s really working. Even with the enormous losses, our swarm was getting closer and closer to the capships.

Next chapter :

-Cat fighters, of course……

-Why do I need to be reminded every single minute that we’re doomed ?

Mjr. Whoopass

<FONT color=lightblue><B>I was going to say someth
Very Cool. I like that the installments are brief since I tend to get bored easily by long chapters. I liked some of your touches like writing that a single word communicated several different things at the same time and about a picture being worth a thousand words but a big photon rifle is worth a million.

Normally, I might comment that the smuggler character is a little too cliche in that he's a completely greedy and self centered smuggler type.. but I think it's also a realistic personality trait for that occupation and it also creates a nice dynamic since he's forced by circumstances to perform a selfless act to help Confed. Nice story so far and I sense the most exciting parts are yet to come.


Vice Admiral
Chapter 4 : "How to serve man", by Vorghath the Hunter

While those fighters attacked everything flying, we were getting closer and closer to the main fleet, and the hard part of this day could begin.

"What the.... ? Come back !!", I hear

Great......the rookie broke out, either eager to join the fight or scared by the odds.

As if I needed that : to go from little cover to no cover at all....

"Dumbfire down !", said the rookie a few seconds after, while Ron was going to the comm console to yell at him. I take a look on the scanners, and I see his fighter coming back into escort position.

But, as I look on the scanners, I see a new contact. Looks like a Cat carrier covering the main fleet. It'll make a good target enough for those Marines guys, and I won't have to commit suicide : a.k.a. attacking a supercarrier.

So, a win-win situation.

I show the carrier to Ron :
"We're going to nail this one. Gwen, warm the guns, enable EW, we're going in."

My weps officer agrees, and I look back at the screen, when a few more contacts appeared : a Broadsword dodging fire from a Dralthi, itself followed by half a squadron of fighters.

Cat fighters, of course......

Ninja broke and thrusted to the bomber, while our turrets began firing to provide him some cover.
"You were right, Ron. Maybe this rookie isn't so bad, after all.", I tell my XO while we looked the fight between the two fighters reach an blinding end as the Dralthi exploded in front of our port cameras.
But as the bomber used our covering fire to get close to us, Ninja was stuck, dogfighting with the enemy reinforcements, apparently keeping them far enough from us.

As the bomber flew close to us, its pilot called us :
"Bomber Hornet 7 here. Do you carry Marines ?"
"This is the freighter Qin Saldi. If you ask us if we have a bunch of crazy, armed-to-the-teeth guys in our hold, the answer is yes.", I heard the comm answer.
"Roger that, Qin. Do you have a target ?"
"Yep, this carrier", Anders answered, before transmitting targetting data. "Where is your squadron, Hornet 7 ?"
"Gone, when these Cats fried our escorts.", she answered dryly.

Why do I need to be reminded every single minute that we're doomed ?

The next few minutes were somehow quiet. Well, quieter for us than for the others. The scanners showed me every second a red blip closing on a blue one and making it disappear.

And then what I feared happened.

As long as we were alone, or almost alone, we only drew a fighter at a time, which met the bomber's turrets (Note to self : buy a few of these for the Qin, they sure would be handy some day) , but now that we're closing on the fleet, some civvies and Marines jocks found out we could offer some cover against Cats attacks.

And of course, none of them thought that a group of Marines shuttles would draw them faster than a tachyon.

And of course, it did.

One modified cargo, six assault shuttles, two yachts, three bombers and five fighters on our side, and, according to the scanners, the other side has ninet....twen.....twenty two fighters.

Huh, another blip. !?

OK, NOW would be a good time for the Concordia to come at full speed, guns blazing, as in this "First to Kilrah" holo we saw last week.

The scanners need more time to classify the contact, and, for now, only display that it's not a fighter.

Could it be ? Like in the movie ?


Naaaaaah, of course, just another problem, as if it was too easy.

Next chapter :

-"So, why did you volunteer ?"

-"They're coming back !!"


Vice Admiral
Chapter 5: End Run ?

The fighters break off, while we rerout as much energy as posible to the engines.

“Tell the bombers to close on us, we’ll need them to blast our way to the carrier”, I tell my comm, before looking t my computer to select the cargo hold on the minimap. The screen shows then Amos’ face:
“Ready your troops, we’re closing on them.”
He acknowledges and makes a sign to the guy behind him before answering: “You’ll need their transponder codes to get in. I’m coming.

The Snakeir was somehow isolated from the main fleet, so our small group would only have to dodge fire from two destroyers, and I planned to busy them with some torpedoes….

The bombers get into firing position, next to us, as we’re racing to the escort ships.

I look now at the targeting computers.
Thirty seconds before optimal firing range.
Only two fighters are left, thrusting in a swarm of deflection shots.

One left, The torpedoes are acquiring lock in the bombers.

The Kilrathi fighters are now beginning their attack, and close on us. Qin’s EW is at full power, temporarly jamming their missile locks.

Torpedoes locked.

Ten seconds.
A dumbfire misses the Qin by inches and transforms a yacht into a hydrogen ball expanding behind us.

Five seconds.
The combined fire of bombers and our turrets shoot down three fighters, forcing the remaining ones to fall back to the Kamekh, after shooting down a Marine shuttle.

Twelve trails of smoke accelerate and turn to the destroyers, whose flak is beginning to hit us, now, desintegrating a another shuttle and one bomber, before switching targets, trying to shoot down our presents.

As I see four massive impacts on the first destroyer, someone cheers in the CIC.

Yep, I hope they’ll be more talented in those “Sivar’s hunting grounds” of them than they were in this world.

Crap, Sivar must have hear my thoughts, only one torpedo hit the second one, crippling it.

“They’re coming back !”, I hear from one of the two remaining bombers, obviously speaking about the Kamekh and its fighters that, indeed, seemed eager to avenge the destroyers.

The second yacht dodged a missile fro the carrier and accelerated at the corvette, at ramming speed.

What do you expect to do, you moron ?
Of course, what happened next was predictable: a pair of Cat fighters broke formation and blew it to pieces.

“Tango 11, get to that destroyer and nuke it. I want a safe way home for the other ships.”, said the colonel, who came unnoticed in the CIC (I’ll wonder later how a man in battle armor with a very big gun can get in my CIC unnoticed).

He then looked at me and asked, since our ships weren’t too much fired at:
-So, why did you volunteer for this mission ?
-What do you mean ?
-Let me recap: an impressive cargo ship, armed and shielded as a corvette, a crew that seems to have combat experience. You could have fled without taking any damage, and be well out of trouble now. So, why stay and fight.
-Err, I hesitate, let’s say we just wated to do like all those brave guys at the spaceport.
Noone can say I lied, there, right ?
-Maybe, but……he began, right before cheers erupted all over the CIC.

“What happened ?”, we say simultaneously to anyone capable of enlightening us.

Veronica, who genuinely smiled for the first time since we took off, told us the news:
“One of the big ones just exploded.”, she said, showing us the once-mighty ship broke in a lot of tiny pieces, ”looks like you Marines got it.”

Eh, it could finally work.
If they could take out a supercarrier, maybe we really have a chance.

Next chapter:

-‘K, now, either he’ll punch my face with his battle armor, or he’ll become my best pal.

-So, there’s only one thing left to do….


Vice Admiral
Chapter 6: The Marine whisperer

“Flak incoming !”
The carrier is finally pounding our shields, as the remaining ships hide behind us, hoping we’ll hold long enough to get to it.

“Power to forward shields. Flank speed, get us to their landing bays”, I tell, before turning to Amos:
“To answer you completely, colonel, we’re smugglers, weapon smugglers to be precise, and it was more an accident than a will to help Confed if we volunteered.”
I see his face turning from the serious Marine to the guy trying to be sure of what he heard. So I have to finish my speech fast or he’ll be sure of what I said, a.k.a.: a good reason for murdering the C.O. of the ship he’s standing in.
“Now, give me the access codes, ‘cause, we’re going to smuggle you in and out of their tin can. No difference from the usual work, sneaking and bringing a lot of trouble wherever we’re going. So, now, we do the job, and after we’re back, we’ll see what to do, OK ?”

Crap. Why did I say that ?
I mean, I could have let him go and kill himself, but no, I needed to tell him we’re the “scum” who’s responsible for a lot of killings in the Borderworlds, and even in the Sirius sector. On the other hand, I’ll have an answer soon enough: either he’ll punch my face (with a battle armour, which will probably do me no good), or he’ll become my best pal……

Huh, no reaction ??

As he seems to be on the edge of taking his gun to kill me and everyone in this room, he speaks slowly:
“Wait for us, because we’ll be back, at least to settle this out.” He takes a datapad from one of the “pockets” of his armour. “Here are the codes. Just send them at the last moment, or we won’t be able to land.”

Without any further word, he turned back and left the room, and I waited fifteen more seconds before breathing again.
Huh ?
Veronica, who witnessed my “speech”, repeated:
“You lucky moron.”
“Yep”, I answered, before looking at the tactical map.

We were closing on the Snakeir, while the Kamekh was slowly gaining ground.

We’re now very close of this carrier, closer to a capital ship that I’d ever wanted to be.
“Shields critical !”
Not yet. We’ve got one chance and one only, so better not screw it up.
I wait a few more seconds.
“Shields gone ! We’re naked !”

I activate the transponder with the Cats codes, and suddenly, the turrets stop firing, thinking we’re furry pals.
I yell :
“Get in the bay, NOW !!”

One of our landing gears must have failed, because when we hit the hangar deck, I heard a noise more devastating to our ears than a tactical nuke.
“Open the back bay doors, Hal”, I say to him, before telling Gwen: “Get me some covering fire now !”

So, what else can I do ? Let’s recap :
-A hundred or so heavily armed madmen are now shooting everything that moves (and a few that doesn’t).
-The few Cats in the bay who didn’t fled to escape the apocalyptical noise of a cargo landing with a landing gear broken were now discovering the intense but brief feeling of being in a small hangar overcrowded by enemy Marines AND intense anti-fighter turret fire.
-All the other ships have followed us, meaning that the day of the most important Kilrathi military operation, one of their carriers was filled with human cargos and civil yachts. Not serious, pal……

Yep, there is only one logical thing to do now……

I turn to face the rest of the crew in the CIC, and ask them the most important question of the day :

“Anyone wants some coffee ?”

Next chapter:

-“We still have to get out, now.”
-“What, is it attacking a carrier that gets you in such a mood, or the coffee ?” Maybe both….


Vice Admiral
Chapter 7 : Coffee time

If I have to remember only one thing from this day, I finally know what it’ll be: The look on everyone’s face, a few seconds after I made the suggestion.
Anyone wants some coffee ? With those four words, a crew fighting for mankind’s very survival shifts back to a bunch of men and women ready to kill anyone between themselves and a pot of coffee.
I know what almost everyone will drink, so I just speak to the most recent crew members before going to the kitchen of the ship, and, while the coffee is brewing, I begin thinking about those Marines fighting their way in a Kilrathi carrier, when Veronica comes:

“So, Ron, what do you think about it, now ?”
“Milk, not sugar.”
“Oh, you weren’t speaking about the coffee. About the other “exciting thing” of the day, I still think only a moron could have designed such an attack plan, but since it worked, I’ll say “a great plan, worth of greatest honours”, don’t you think ?”
“Yep, but we still have to get out”, I tell her, while giving her a mug of coffee and taking the pot back to the CIC.

“Coffe time, guys”, I say, before feeling my ears melting from the cheers coming from everyone here.
“What, is it attacking a carrier that gets you in such a mood, or the coffee ?” Maybe both….Note to self : to keep a crew happy, attack a Kilrathi carrier bare-handed. What moron sait the life of a CO was an easy one ?

We barely had time to drink before the colonel call:
“Get ready, we’re taking off !”
“You heard the man, guys”, I tell the CIC, “get on.”

I take a glance to the external video feed, and see sixty, maybe seventy guys in armor running for their lives to the Qin.
A few seconds later, we hear Amos’ voice again:
“Go, go, go, go !! Everyone’s here !! Take off !!”

We’re still halfway through the hangar, almost ready, when he gets in the CIC:
“Are you OK ?”
“I’ve got five nukes primed and counting, so get the hell out of here, unless you want to be scattered all across Sol.”
He made his point, no arguing with that.

As we accelerate, the Kamekh that chased us twenty minutes ago stops right in front of the bay, effectively preventing us to get out.

Oh, oh, looks like the movie will stop right now, either if we ram the corvette or if we wait for the nukes to detonate.

“Launch dumbfires one to four”

What ?

As the four rockets burn in the bay’s atmosphere, cross the shields and race to the ship, I turn to the origin of the order, and ask her, ‘cause it came from Veronica:
“What was that ?
“Those were the dumbfire I had installed on the Qin during refitting and refueling. Looks like you were too busy drinking or inviting Marine guys aboard to read the FYI memo.”

Then, the corvette, desperately trying to evade the rockets, exploded in a blinding flash just in front of the carrier, destroying a few of the fighters around it, and forcing the rest to retreat.

We dash at flank speed, followed by the surviving ships. As we get clear of the debris field, I look at the scanners, and see the remaining fighters getting back to nail us.

Cr.....I have an idea......

Next chapter:

-Shut up and trust me.

-How long before boom ?


Vice Admiral
Chapter 8: Something about whipped cream

I turn to Amos:
-How long before boom ?
-One minute fifty, he answers after looking at one of his armor’ screens.

It can work, with a lot of luck.

I turn to Hal:
“Hal, you’re fluent in Kil, don’t you ?”
As he nods, I tell him to get at the communication board.

While he gets there, I turn to Ron:
“Turn towards those fighters, speed two-thirds.”
“Are you crazy !? Those guys want fry us, no matter what, and you go right on them !”, she almost yells, before saying: “And we’ve got no more rockets.....FYI”
“Shut up and trust me. I have to think, now. And by the way, tell to the other ships to stay close behind us, and, when I give the mark, to accelerate at flank speed.”

While she transmits my orders, I close on another console in the comm section, to activate our of-course-illegal-but-so-nice-to-get-rid-of-it frequency scanner. After a few seconds, during which I resume my thinking, the screen shows me the comm frequency those fighters seem to use to prepare their attack.

I see Amos touching his watch and making the sign “One”. OK, so, one minute left. It’ll work.

I whisper something to Hal. At first, he smiled, but as I finished, he looked upon me as if I was some kind of monster, disgusted by what he heard.
“Translate it.”

The fighters are almost in position, when he begins to speak.

“Ron, on my mark, get on all our jammers, the starboard propellers and the remaining flares.”

As he speaks, I see a few heads turning around and having a look half-stunned, half-disgusted.

Didn’t know so many people in this ship knew this part of Kilrathi language.

The answer came back pretty quickly, and was ferocious, even for a guy like me who didn’t understand a word of what the pilot said.
“No need to translate the answer, Hal. I think I prefer not to know what he said.”
I wait a few seconds, then I tell to Ron to begin all the evasive tactics.

At the same moment, the fighters launch all their missiles and rush towards us, all guns firing, but I anticipated that, and while the combined action of flares and jammers so early in the missile guidance threw away their lock, our lateral propulsion made it possible to avoid most of their fire, corrected too late to destroy our shield.

“Switch all power to rear shield, and tell the others to get in front of us.”
“Great. They missed us on the first attack. And so what, now ? They’re faster than us, and in thirty seconds we’ll be dead.”, Ron says angrily, while sending the message.
“Maybe, but in ten seconds, they’ll be close to an exploding carrier.”

And as they were changing course, the Snakeir blew away like a firework on Confed day, sending debris everywhere.

Everywhere including the fighters.

“Oops.”, I said in a negligent tone.

After a few seconds of silence, I resumed:
“So, can we go back to Earth now, or do we need to take on another carrier, colonel ?”

“I’ve got no more nukes, so Earth is a good idea, if they haven’t demolished it yet.”

For the first time, I began to worry about what could have happened to it during our “leisure trip”, and, during our way back, I tried to raise comms with a spaceport or a space station, until, as we were halway back, we heard an official announcment by Tolwyn himself on the main comm frequencies.

We lost several big cities, and, of course, lot of Marines (I even begin to appreciate those damn crazy bastards, now) and civilians, but we apparently won, since no rad weapons hit Earth.
Crap. I’d always wanted to see Paris.

Amos, holding a cup of coffee, came to see me a few minutes before we landed.
“Something’s still wondering me.”
“What ?”
“I’ve seen a lot of operations involving Cat fighters, and, most of time, even if they’re prone to react to insults, they rarely go in berserk mode.”
“Huh ? Didn’t know that ? So.....we were lucky today.”
“What did you tell this “Hal” to get them in such a mood ?”
“Nothing special, I told you.”
Crap. If I tell him, he’ll react as the others.....

Huh. Since when a Marine’s opinion bothered me ?

Oh, yes:
Maybe since one of them was in front of me in battle armor.

He still looks at me.


“OK, OK, you won. Let’s say it was something concerning me, their mothers and a can of whipped cream.”
“Whipped cream ?”, he repeats, obviously not understanding the last part of my sentence.
“Whipped cream.”

Then he slowly take a step back, while he seems to have problems deciding if he should ask more or if what he could guess all by himself was already enough.

During all the landing, I saw him keeping an eye on me, the kind of look he would have had if he was in the same room as a pack of Kilrathi warriors discussing How to serve Man.

The Marines got off the ship as soon as we landed, and for the first time since we got off, we could think about what to do next. I was about to ask Ron if she agreed to resume with our original plan when someone in the hangar got near the hatch and asked for me.

Déjà vu.
I've got a bad feeling about this.

I get to the hatch with Neil and Andy, and I see one guy.
Heh, probably a CEO who doesn’t know it’s over.

“What do you want, pal ?”

“I ‘ave something that could interest you.”


“What are you talking about ?”

“Some well-paid jobs, that are probably easier than what you just achieved with that Snakeir.”

How did he know ?

“Before anything, can I know who I’m talking with ?”

“Of course, laddie. The name’s Taggart. But you’ll soon call me “Paladin” .”