Band of Brothers: Chapter Six- - A Day of Mourning...


No preamble. Here it is.


Chapter Six: A Day of Mourning

1st Lieutenant Justin Overstreet was wasted out of his mind. He sat slumped against the bar in the darkened rec room, his vision blurred and his head pounding. He might have puked a little while ago, but he wasn’t totally sure. How many bottles of Jack Daniels’ had he gone through already? At least… what came after three? Hell, Justin couldn’t seem to remember for the life of him.
Oh, how did I get into this position? he wondered, reaching around for the bottle of hooch he had been downing mere moments before. He didn’t remember how he had lost it. Oh, yeah, Justin suddenly remembered. Last night… Major Edison. But he tried not to think about that. Douglas had been his commander, but, more than that, his friend. Justin still remembered how horrified he had been as he watched Doug slam his Broadsword into that Ralatha in a desperate kamikaze attack. He remembered his last words: “Sock it to those Cat bastards.”
“ How can I even do that?” he slurred, staring at his two pairs of arms. Wait a second… No, that didn’t seem right. “ I can’t even see straight.” Finally, one of his hands clamped onto the bottle of Scotch he had been drinking. The amber liquid merely filled half of the glass container. Overstreet wanted nothing else but to drink the rest of it, but… No. With an effort of will, he put the bottle back. He was shaking.
“ Who’s in here?” a voice suddenly asked into the silence. Justin jumped, but soon recognized that Irish lilt. It was Joseph Flannery. “ Don’t make me call the MPs, whoever you are.”
Justin raised a hand over the bar. “ No, don’t do that, Joe,” he said slowly, his mouth still feeling sluggish. “ Just me. Jus’in.” He didn’t waste the energy to pronounce the “t.”
“ Now, lad, what ye be doin’ in the bar this early?” the barkeep inquired as he moved around the ad hoc bar. He angrily blew air past his bushy red mustache as he saw the young pilot slumped behind the bar amongst a pile of empty liquor bottles. “ Ye didna go and break into my stores, did ye?” Justin slowly nodded. “ Jesus Christ, lad, ye know I could have Colonel Drake throw ye into the brig, ye know that?” Justin bobbed his head up and down again. Joe sighed. “ ‘Tis about Major Edison, is it not?”
“ Why’d he do it, Joe? Why’d he have to go and kill himself like that?” Justin murmured, the temptation to reach for the bottle of Scotch stronger than ever now. “ I’d always looked to him for the strength to keep fighting this whole, fucking war and now that he’s gone… Where’ll I get my strength from, Joe? And if you say Pete Decker, I’ll kill you.”
Joe didn’t laugh at the feeble joke, but Justin wasn’t expecting him to. “ Doug knew what he was doing, lad, he always did. He’s gone know, but he saved the entire ship. If he had stayed put on the Antietam we’d all be dead now. You, me, and everyone else. As for strength… you can’t rely on anyone but yourself for that, lad. Maybe Doug was a crutch, a father figure to look up to whenever you got lost or confused, but the strength… It lied within ye, lad.”
Justin cracked a wry grin. “ I bet you say that to all drunk, mourning pilots who broke into your liquor stores and got wasted. Look, Joe, I don’t blame Doug for what he did. I’m proud of him, actually, but it still doesn’t make me feel any better.” He fingered the locket dangling around his neck. “ Hell, I should’ve known something when he gave me this. Now I have to go and give this to his family, to see their big, crying eyes as I hand this to little Christopher. Damn.”
Joe nodded. “ I couldn’t have put it better myself, lad. Damn.”
“ What time is it?” Justin asked, deciding to change the subject, even though he knew it would not be forgotten so easily.
The big, Irish bartender checked his watch. “ 0543, lad.”
“ Shit, I got to get up and ready for duty,” he mumbled, using the bar to pull himself to his feet. Luckily, Flannery was there when he slipped and collapsed back down to the deck.
“ Not so fast, laddie, you’re still a mess,” Joe said. “ Here, let me give ye a hand.” The older man draped Justin’s arm across his shoulder and dragged him over to a nearby table. Justin could barely stay in the chair, but he managed somehow. Joe set a cup of strong, black coffee before him. “ Drink this, we’ll try to sober ye up.”
“ I don’t think anything short of a coma would do anything to sober me up, Joe,” he quipped, but he drank the dark liquid anyway, and motioned for another couple of cups after that. He still didn’t feel a whole lot better, and he also felt a hangover coming on, but Joe was nice enough to get him into Sickbay. Dr. Kelso pumped him full of the notorious “green goop” every hungover pilot hated. He also promised to keep quiet about Justin’s drunkenness to Major Noble, the new squadron commander.
John Noble… The man who flew under the callsign of “Cougar” was not a bad pilot, far from it. He was one of the best pilots Justin had ever met, but did he have it in him to lead an entire squadron? Especially one like the Battling Bastards? One of the things that worried Justin was the thought of what would John do when he had to give the order to send Mallory out to certain death. In any other circumstances, those two would have been married by now. In Noble’s position, Justin would be hesitant to let any harm fall upon her head. But that would make him a bad commander, and that was exactly why Justin was worried. Perhaps he should talk to Colonel Drake. As the new X.O. perhaps he had more influence to get Captain Napier reassigned to either Majors Heinrich’s or Nomura’s squadron. Noble would be pissed for the sneakiness, but Justin put the squadron’s well being over Cougar’s feelings.
Justin sighed. He shouldn’t trouble himself with that now. “ I need to get some rest in the short time I have before reporting for duty,” he whispered to himself in the quiet of his curtained-off alcove in Sickbay. He kicked off his boots and soon found himself asleep. He just wished that, when he woke up, his problems would no longer be there.

“ We are here today to say goodbye to one of the Confederation’s finest soldiers,” Colonel Casper Drake, the Antietam’s Wing Commander, said in a solemn voice. How could the big man be anything less on this day? Today was the day when the carrier said goodbye, much as Drake has said, to Major Douglas Edison, TCSF.
Justin did his best to hold in the tears threatening to leak uncontrollably from his eyes. Although he remained at stiff rigidity, he allowed his brown eyes to stray to his comrades around him. On either side of him, Pete Decker and Nikita Gorbunov looked about as ready to crack as Justin did. He could not blame them, of course, nor Natalie Maximus, who seemed to be the only officer around who wept openly without shame. MadDog had to admire that quality in her. Yes, everybody was feeling Doug’s death. Even Frosty, who normally remained unfazed by even the worst situation, gazed down at the flight deck with red-rimmed eyes.
Major Edison’s casket sat in the middle of the cavernous deck. Of course, the squadron commander’s body did not lie in the capsule, but his uniform and a memorial plaque praising all Caesar had done for Confed. The casket, which had been draped with the Confederation flag by Colonel Markham’s Marines at the start of the ceremony, rested on a caisson in the center of the deck, but several anti-gravity generators would propel it out of the Antietam and into the depths of space when the time came. Justin suddenly realized he was trying to keep his mind off losing Major Edison by dwelling on the technical aspects of the funeral. He also realized he shouldn’t do that.
Meanwhile, Colonel Drake continued, “ Douglas Edison did his all to preserve peace and harmony in the galaxy by fighting the menace of the Kilrathi with all his effort. And in his death he saved the lives of all aboard this ship.
“ We all loved the Major, and his loss leaves a chasm in our souls larger than any spatial anomaly. But we shall prevail. We shall continue to fight, to ensure that the deaths of gallant patriots like Major Edison were not in vain.” Drake leaned forward, slamming a fist on his podium as if he was a preacher at a Sunday service. “ As Douglas leaves this cruel world and enters God’s glorious kingdom, we shall once again take up arms and destroy evil. For our friends, for our family, for our entire race.”
The burly, red-haired Wing Commander stepped back to allow Father Eduord Somoza, who held the rank of Lt. Commander in the Confederation Chaplain Corps, to come forth. The chaplain made the sign of the cross and said,“ And now we say goodbye for the last time. May God watch over him. Amen.” Justin and the few dozen other soldiers gathered on the flight deck echoed the Father and then fell silent as Gus Markham and his fellow leathernecks came forward.
In the rigid efficiency common of their kind, the Marines ritualistically folded the bright blue flag draped over the casket. 2nd Lieutenant Brian Kellogg ended up with the fully folded cloth and, his white gloved hands careful not to let it touch the ground, stepped forth and handed it to Justin. They had told him before the ceremony that, young Christopher Edison being absent, MadDog would receive the flag, but he still hesitantly accepted the folded cloth from Kellogg. Without another word, Brian stepped back into ranks.
Next came the twenty-one-gun salute, a tradition in the military since the ancient British utilized it to disarm themselves when facing nations of lesser or equal merit. In a voice like thunder, the dark-skinned Marine contingent commander boomed, “ Company… Attention! Present arms! Fire!” Crack! “ Fire!” Crack! “Fire!” Crack! Each successive volley of laser fire shot into Justin’s soul like a sword of agonizing fire. At last, the triple volley, fired in rapid succession by seven Marines, ended.
Colonel Drake tapped a button on his podium that allowed the casket’s anti-grav engines to lift the capsule free of the caisson and propel it down the flight deck toward the stars beyond. As the casket zipped past him, the haunting refrain of “Taps” echoed throughout the flight deck. That tradition, originally an American one, had first been used 803 years ago, but was no less moving. Now, more than ever, Overstreet felt the tears coming. But he held composure. There would be a time to cry, but not now. Not here.

Six hours later, Justin Overstreet reported for duty. He found his normal place in the Antietam’s briefing room, but did not talk to anyone. As a matter of fact, it seemed a great silence had enveloped the briefing room. No one, not even loud mouths like Pete Decker and Luke Frost, opened their mouths. The only words spoken were Froggie Duchamp’s. “ Colonel on the deck!” he shouted and the Flight Wing snapped to attention before Casper Drake waved them down.
“ Now,” the big, carrot-topped Wing Commander said, “ despite today’s… tragedy, we still have jobs to do, people. The Kilrathi will not mourn with us, so we have to stay on our toes. Captain Ruth has decreed that today is the day we are to move in to Trk’Harna IV and oust the Imperials from that world.” A low ripple of approvement passed over the gathered pilots, but it soon died down. They had been waiting so long to do what they came into this system to do that they had almost forgotten about Korag and his rebels.
Meanwhile, Drake continued to speak. “ But, before we do that, there is one more patrol of the Trk’Harna System that we need to initiate before we can successful launch our Marines on the fourth planet. Major Noble, you are Alpha Wing. Computer, display Alpha…”
Justin let his mind wander until the Wing Commander came to him. Drake said,
“ Echo Wing, under Lieutenant Overstreet, is to sweep these three zones- -” he pointed to them on the large screen behind him, “- - and eliminate any hostiles that they may encounter. A simple patrol flight today, gentlemen; it shouldn’t prove too difficult.”
Colonel Drake quickly ran through all the other assignments and asked if there were any questions. Justin raised his hand, then waited for Drake to notice him. When he did, Overstreet said, “ Sir, I’m still short one pilot. Major Edison had been flying in the absence of Lieutenant Tucker, but now…” He didn’t need to continue.
“ Ah, yes,” Drake said. “ Lieutenant Colonel Butler will be flying with Echo Wing, Lieutenant. Nevertheless, you are still in charge, but if Lobo says anything, you better sit up and take notice. Am I understood?”
“ Yes, sir.”
“ Good. Well, if there are no further questions? Okay, dismissed.”
As quietly as they had entered the briefing room, the Flight Wing rose from their seats and exited the large chamber. Justin and Pete Decker walked silently toward the squadron ready room before Babyface said, “ Dammit, man, I don’t feel too hot.”
Justin reached over and placed a hand on his friend’s brow. “ Eck, you feel a tad warm. Why don’t you go and talk to the flight surgeon before we go up?” he said.
Pete vehemently shook his head back and forth, his thick black hair flying into his face. “ Hell no, sir. I fully intend to nab me a Kilrathi or two today, and if I go see the flight surgeon, she’ll order me to sit out, and I’ll be stupid enough to obey. No thank you, First Lieutenant, sir, I won’t sit this fight out.”
Justin sighed in resignation. “ Suit yourself, Decker, but if you start to get the shakes or if you get diarrhea and shit in your flight suit, you’ll turn tail and beat it back to the Antietam. You read me, mister?” Justin hated doing that, but he didn’t want a pilot not at full capacity flying on his wing.
“ Uh-uh, sure,” Pete said and they arrived at the ready room. After slipping into his heavy flight gear, Justin grabbed his helmet and made for his P-64C. He exchanged the usual pleasantries with Petty Officer Coriolis, then hopped into his bird and awaited takeoff.

Lt. Commander John Vincent Kelso, MD, hated the dark. Ever since he was a kid, being plunged in inky darkness was so terrifying for him, that there were no words to describe the fear. Perhaps it harkened back to the days at the orphanage on Herbert III, before the fighting started, when the sadistic priests and nuns had locked him in the “Box” for hours on end, just because he had flicked a spit wad in a fit of childhood mischief. He hadn’t even known what he’d been doing then, but had been punished brutally for it, nonetheless.
And now he was in the dark again. Stifling a curse, Kelso entered Sickbay- - his Sickbay- - in complete blackness. “ Hello?” he called. “ Who’s in here?” Normally, the lights were to be left on at all times, considering a doctor or nurse was to be on duty at all times as well. “ Or who isn’t in here?” he muttered, realizing the obvious. Damn, someone was derelict of duty and would not be treated too kindly once Kelso got his hands on him or her. With a sigh, he found the light switch and flicked it up. Bright yellow light cascaded from the ceiling and filled the Antietam’s Sickbay.
Dr. Kelso took a look around. Well, nothing appeared out of the ordinary, save for the absence of an Officer of the Day. John found an intercom and barked, “ Paul, who’s supposed to be on duty this shift?”
Paul Winchester, one of his head nurses, responded with a befuddled, “ Um, Ensign Rickman, sir. Uh… James Rickman. Isn’t he there already, Commander?”
“ Hell, no, he’s not here, Lieutenant. And if I find this Ensign Rickman, he’s going to get an earful, I’ll tell you what,” Kelso fumed. This dereliction of duty would not stand unnoticed, of that the Chief Medical Officer was adamant.
“ Uh, yes, sir,” the nervous-sounding nurse replied and signed off.
“ Goddamn Ensign-fucking-Rickman,” Kelso muttered, pulling his white coat out of a nearby storage locker and slipping it on. Whatever James Rickman was up to, there were still patients to look after and Kelso would be damned if they went unnoticed. He gathered up his supplies and discovered that he’d first be seeing a Spacehand Jean Belmont of Engineering for a recurring headache. It was most likely migraines, related to stress. John would simply prescribe a strong dosage of the available painkiller.
He was eyeing his PAD while he made his way to the infirmary when he suddenly tripped over something large and went sprawling to the floor. “ Shit,” he groaned, lifting himself up on his elbows. What he saw nearly gave him a heart attack.
Ensign James Rickman was sprawled out over the deck, his throat cut and his lifeless eyes staring. The blue front of his uniform was torn and bloodstained. Kelso scrambled away from the body and to his feet. “ Kelso to Ship Security!” he tried to shout into the intercom, but nothing came out but static. Someone had just cut the wires, so whoever had killed Rickman was nearby and John had no doubt after him.
A C-244 pistol lay nearby. Kelso looked around and carefully inched toward the firearm. The counter on which the gun rested was adjacent to the “morgue”, or so the large room filled to the brim with stainless steel drawers was called. The door to the morgue was open, a thin fog of ice vapor escaping into the Sickbay. “ What the hell?” John asked. He slowly entered the morgue, but felt a chill that had nothing to the lowered temperature level in the chamber. Something was definitely wrong. It was the drawer that contained the body of that ensign from the Vicksburg, the one that Lieutenant Overstreet had rescued. The metallic surface that the drawer was composed of had been busted through, as if whoever was inside had decided to come back to life and free himself. But that, Kelso knew, was preposterous to the greatest degree. Benito Vanzetti was dead. There was no way… Suddenly, the lights went out.
With a strangled cry of alarm, John Kelso lunged toward the pistol, but soon found himself sprawled out on the ground. Someone had just hit him! He scrambled to his feet and saw… No! It couldn’t be!
With a howl of effort, his attacker, unnaturally pale and thin, lunged toward Kelso, plunging a medical scalpel into the latter’s chest cavity. A geyser of surprisingly red blood sprayed into the man’s face, but he did not see Dr. Kelso hit the ground.
Meanwhile, John slipped into complete, and eternal darkness…

1st Lieutenant Justin Overstreet was snug in the cockpit of his P-64C Ferret patrol fighter, a small flight of Sartha light fighters weaving and dodging around him. MadDog, his hands locked tight around the fighter’s control stick, rolled quickly to starboard to avoid a hail of neutron fire spewed forth from a Kilrathi fighter hovering over him like some wrathful god. But the Cat bastard would soon realize that Justin wasn’t so submissive.
Maybe the Cat had some twisted superiority complex, for Justin had never seen a fighter so decorated before. It was as if the Kilrathi ace had decided that showing off to his buds back at base was not enough, and so he had to show off to the enemy as well. Perhaps he thought it would make the puny Terrans, as he called them, scared. Yeah, Justin thought sarcastically, and not for the first time, I’m shaking.
Quickly, Overstreet inverted, dropping his green crosshairs on the knife-winged alien fighter. The Sartha buzzed sharply to port, but Justin stayed on him, slamming down on the triggers and pummeling the Cat’s shields with heavy mass driver guns. The massive bolts began to punch right through the Sartha’s relatively light shields and into armor. Justin closed one eye and lined up his guns with the damaged Sartha’s cockpit. The flamboyant Kilrathi ace was tumbling end over end, so it was no easy feat. But Justin managed, finally letting loose with a new mass driver volley that tore a gaping hole in the Sartha’s golden armor and sucked the arrogant bastard right out into vacuum. MadDog cheered out loud as the light fighter exploded a moment later.
He leveled out and glanced down at his radar display. Two red blips and… two blue ones as well? There were three other pilots in his patrol! Shit, he thought frantically, reaching for the comm controls. “ Who’s missing?” he shouted, too worried to find that answer out for himself.
“ Boyar got shot up pretty badly, Lieutenant. I sent him back to the boat,” came the gruff voice of Lt. Colonel Edward Butler. Ted had been one of the best back in the early days of the war, but something had happened during the Vega Campaign ten years ago. It seemed he had watched his wingmates and ship gets blown up around him, while at the same time seeing his home planet bombarded by Anti-Matter rockets. His performance had faltered ever since then, but he was still damn good if you asked Justin Overstreet.
Snapping out of his reverie, he realized that 2nd Lieutenant Gorbunov was okay and safely back at the Antietam. He couldn’t live with another pilot dead. Not after Paul Tucker… and Major Edison. But he pushed that thought out of his head. It would do him no good to dwell on that here. “ Uh… roger that, Lobo,” he said quickly. “ Now let’s get these bastards off our backs and get back to the Antietam for a nice glass of moo juice.” Alcohol was still off limits, and, besides, after last night’s binge, Justin would be happy if he never had to look booze in the face again.
Pete Decker came on the radio, “ Let’s kick these shits back to Holy Mother Kilrah!”
“ I shall destroy you, Terran!” a grotesquely accent voice barked and Justin saw a Kilrathi face lighting up his communications VDU. He gave the pug ugly a rude gesture and blanked the screen. He knew the Cat was confused by that gesture, just like Terrans had no clue what was going on with the Kilrathi’s whole claw-grasping business, but Justin didn’t care.
The Sartha came buzzing toward him, blazing away with his neutron guns. Justin’s Ferret shuddered under the impact, but he quickly pushed the stick forward, diving down and away from the energy guns. He quickly inverted and hit rudder, while the Sartha zipped underneath him. Justin righted his patrol fighter and dropped in on the Cat’s six, dropping a missile lock on him.
As he desperately tried to evade, Justin dropped the ImRec and pulled up, just as the Sartha blew apart below him. By that time, Pete Decker and Ted Butler had teamed up to nab the final Cat bastard and Echo Wing was on their way back to the Antietam, their final patrol before the “Big Show” finished. Justin received landing clearance from Lieutenant Garner and waited for the ACLS to bring his modified Ferret to a safe landing. But, as his fighter skimmed the flight deck, he noticed something odd. Usually, when he returned from a mission, the flight deck would be abuzz with a plethora of deck crew, ship crew, and pilots as well as dozens of launching and landing fighter craft.
That was not the case now. The deck seemed nearly empty, save for Rachel Coriolis and a few other enlisted deck hands. To Justin, it seemed as if that one small team would handle all three incoming Ferrets from Echo Wing. The young pilot bit his tongue in worriment. Something had happened on board the Antietam, that much was certain, while Justin and his flight had been out in space.
He landed quickly and helped Rachel’s team get his fighter into its proper service area. Usually, that was not his job, but the small crew needed all the help they could get. Lobo and Babyface landed shortly after him and the three pilots began the trek to Pilots’ Country. They were stopped, however, by Colonel Drake and two grunts who were noticeably MPs. “ Sir?” Justin said, saluting smartly.
Drake returned his subordinate’s salute and said, “ I’ll be blunt, gentlemen. We’ve had a murder on board.” Justin’s mouth dropped open and he heard Pete Decker exclaim out loud. “ Now, please, men, keep your voices low. Whoever killed Dr. Kelso is still on board this ship… somewhere. He could be after anyone of us. Lt. Colonel Markham and his Marines are at this moment searching the ship.”
“ Who did it?” Pete asked.
It was s stupid question, but by looking at Drake’s serious expression, you never would have guessed it. “ We don’t know, Lieutenant. Benito Vanzetti’s slot in the morgue was empty…” Justin shivered. Vanzetti, the Ensign from the Vicksburg, was most assuredly dead! He had died just after they had found out that he was a Mandarin that had betrayed his crew. But that, MadDog realized, could only mean one thing… “ Now we think that the Mandarin operative on this ship, the same person who blew up that bomb on the flight deck, removed the body as a scare tactic. But I can’t talk anymore about this subject.
“ I’m going to have to ask you men to report to the barracks and stay there until further notice. Am I understood?” The other pilots nodded in comprehension. “ Good. Dismissed.” He turned to the MPs. “ Sergeant, Corporal. Escort these three to the pilots’ barracks.”
“ Uh… excuse me, Colonel?” Justin blurted.
“ Yes, Lieutenant Overstreet?” Drake replied.
“ The regs seem to state that we should give up our sidearms in a… situation such as this,” he said, remembering clearly from the guides.
Casper Drake let out a big breath. “ I’ve consulted with Captain Ruth. He says we’ll need to be able to defend ourselves. So keep a hand on your pistol, pilot.”
“ Yes, sir,” MadDog responded.
“ Come with me, please,” the Sergeant, whose tags identified him as Lowell, said gruffly, pointing down the corridor with his C-47 assault rifle. Justin, Lobo, and Pete Decker went with him. Justin felt his heart pounding in his chest. He always thought that he could be safe on his carrier, that the only real way he could die was in the cockpit of his fighter. But now he suddenly realized just how wrong he was. This killer, whoever that may be, was still on the loose and, like Casper Drake had said, could be after anybody next.
The two MPs made sure that they were in the barracks before departing to wherever it was where they were going. Justin stayed in his flight suit, his uniform still in his locker in the squadron ready room, and sat on his bunk. He looked around. Off in separate corners, Noble and Mallory, and Ryan Yan and Natalie sat together. Frosty, Nik, and Spyder paced between the cots as if they were ready to take on the murderer right now. Justin did not know how smart that was, but he felt ready to do the same thing himself. Froggie Duchamp was by himself, quietly speaking French. Praying, perhaps.
For all he knew, anybody in here could be the killer. They could have been assisting the Kilrathi all along; they could have blown up the bomb. But, no, because he most definitely would have been dead by now had a Battling Bastard been the killer. Then who could it be? He had seen no signs of dissent whatsoever among his colleagues. The bomb on the flight deck had not been discovered, which added another mystery into the mix. It was as if the explosive device had simply materialized onto the flight deck from midair and any evidence of it being there after the explosion had vanished the same way. Justin sighed in annoyance and stood up.
He didn’t know it at the time, but something was silently approaching the Antietam.

Captain Donald Ruth had been reading in his cabin when Commander Jerome had announced from the bridge that Kilrathi troop ships were on their way. Stifling an expletive, Ruth ground out his cigar, dropped his copy of The Winds of War by Herman Wouk, and dashed out of his cabin, returning just for a moment to grab his uniform jacket from a hook.
He arrived at the Antietam’s bridge a few moments later. The carrier’s control center was roaring with a grand cacophony of shouting human voices, all trying to be heard over one another. “ All right, everybody shut up!” Ruth roared, and everybody did just that. When all was quiet, he snapped, “ Now, I want to know just what in hell is going on! Lieutenant Commander Jerome?”
Warren Jerome removed his service cap and straightened his unruly brown hair. He then said, “ Captain, it’s just as I said over the intercom. Four Kilrathi troop shuttles, which usually carrying ten Marines each, are approaching our position from Trk’Harna IV. They took out Captain McNamara and our CAP. I’d sent out an intercept wing from Major Heinrich’s squadron, as well, but they haven’t reported back. They may have been wiped out by an escort of some sort, although we haven’t detected those on our radar.”
Shit, Ruth thought, scratching at his thinning gray hair. I should have expected this with a Mandarin on board my ship. He went immediately to his command chair and got Chief Warrant Officer Mordechai Kabrowski on the comm. “ Mr. Kabrowski, can we blow those trooper transports out of the sky?” he asked.
“ Eh… maybe, skipper,” the Pole responded from belowdecks. “ But I have to say that we cannot get a decent lock on them bastards. I mean to say, it looks like they’ve scrambled out radar.”
Ruth sighed and lightly pounded the arm of his chair in frustration. “ That might explain why we can’t get their escorts on our scopes. Mr. Kabrowski, do what you can. I do not want those furry sons of bitches anywhere near my ship. We’re so close to launching the attack on Trk’Harna IV now. Do it!”
“ Aye, aye, sir!” the Weapons Officer snapped and signed off. An instant later, a flurry of interception missiles rocketed from the carrier, trailing immense exhaust plumes. Ruth and his bridge crew cheered out loud when one Kilrathi transport vanished in a quickly dispersing cloud of debris. But there were still more to contend with and, it seemed, save for a couple impacting uselessly against their shields, the other warheads had missed.
Something suddenly blossomed in the forward bridge viewports. Ruth stared at it and Mollie Finster announced incoming torpedo a moment later. “ All hands, brace for impact!” the Captain shouted into the intercom. He quickly strapped himself into his seat as the Kilrathi torpedo slammed into the Antietam a few decks below the bridge. Mollie Finster went down to the deck unconscious. Damn, he though. Mollie had always been his favorite. When she had been taken away by the medics, Ruth roared, “ Shields up!”
“ Shields up! Aye, aye, sir,” Nick Goddard replied sharply and, sure enough, the Antietam’s shields were surrounding the carrier a moment later. Mollie Finster’s replacement announced more incoming torpedoes. Donald put his turret gunners and Mr. Kabrowski to work then, as well as Helmsman Kevin Murphy, who he ordered to move the Antietam behind a large asteroid. The massive chunk of ice and rock blocked most of the warheads, but a few snuck past and hit the shields, bringing with it casualty reports from across the ship.
Naomi Akwende and Igor MacDougal, who had replaced the late Van Salzburg, began to blaze away as if the world was coming to an end. Ruth watched in satisfaction as a Grikath snapped in two and exploded against the large asteroid. But, despite their best efforts, the Kilrathi troop transports just kept coming!
The Radar Officer shouted, “ Captain, they’re coming through our shields!”
“ What?”
“ I… I dunno, Captain! They’re producing some sort of… negation effect with their tractor beam!” the young man hollered nervously.
Donald Ruth made a fist. “ It was that Mandarin bastard on this ship. He gave the Kilrathi our phase shield settings and now they’re busting through.” Clang! “ I want Marines at every airlock! Those furry sons of bitches won’t be coming in here while I’m on duty!”

Fighting reigned throughout the corridors of the TCS Antietam. All Justin Overstreet wanted to do was help out, to pick up his gun and drop a few Kilrathi. But when the enemy troop ships had broke through the carrier’s phase shields, a Marine corporal decked out in full C-524 armor had poked his head into the pilot’s barracks and barked, “ Keep your asses glued, flyboys. We’re being boarded.”
As he sat there, Justin heard laser fire booming just outside. He heard the screams of the dead, both Terran and Kilrathi, as they got in the way of one of those laser bolts. Justin had never been in the army, had only fought in space, snug in a cockpit, and so this new type of fighting was frightening to him.
“ We can’t just sit here!” he yelled, standing up and slamming a fist into a bulkhead. It was a childish task, he knew, but what better way to get out all his pent-up anger and frustration? “ We can’t just sit idly by while Markham’s boys get slaughtered out there!”
“ What can we do, mon ami?” Maurice Duchamp asked, his head in his hands.
“ That ape of a corporal told us to stay put. Besides, if we go out there, the Kilrathi will kill us all. We’re not Marines, Justin.”
Justin nodded. “ I know, but… I just feel like I should be doing something.”
“ We all do,” John Noble replied. “ But, as Froggie said, we have to stay put.”
Slowly, MadDog sat back down. He’d stay here, but he wouldn’t like it. The sounds of war and death continued outside the barracks. The throaty roars of the Terrans. The high-pitched squeals of the Kilrathi. To the ear, they sounded so different, yet when Justin really listened, he could detect the same emotions within each: fear, anguish, and sorrow. No one liked the concept of death, but they died anyway for their cause. Like Paul Tucker and… Douglas Edison. Justin wondered what Caesar would have done had he still been alive. He smiled wryly. Doug probably would have passed out guns and rushed out into the hall, weapons blazing.
Clang! Justin jumped. The heavy metal door of the barracks was dented in, the impression strangely that of a paw print. “ Christ! They’re trying to come through!” Justin shouted, rising to his feet. The other Battling Bastards rose as well, all backing up toward the rear wall. The banks of metal lockers would protect them from any fire at first, but would do squat once the Cats got in. Clang! The enemy soldiers tried to break down the door again. Justin bit his tongue. He wasn’t in the mood to die right now, not pinned against the wall like a criminal before a firing squad.
“ Guys,” he said, “ what are we doing? We have weapons. Let’s fight these bastards!” He yanked his C-244 out of its holster and checked the clip. It was full. Pete Decker did the same. After the other pilots had checked the clips on their respective firearms, he hunkered down behind the rearmost bank of lockers and rested his pistol along the plastacrete skirt around them. Clang! Boom! The door flew off its hinges and, amid a thick cloud of smoke, Justin clearly saw the polished golden metal of Kilrathi armor.
“ Au revoir, you bastards!” Lieutenant Duchamp roared, rising from his crouching position and bringing the pistol to bear.
“ Froggie, no!” MadDog shouted, but it was too late. By the time the French pilot had begun to squeeze the trigger, the Kilrathi cut him down with ease. Maurice fell back, his blue eyes wide, into Justin and Mallory Napier’s arms. The man, blood leaking from his mouth, shuddered and died. “ Froggie, why?” he asked, but his time for mourning was short. Justin picked up his pistol and began to blaze away from his crouching position. The other pilots added their fire, creating a storm of bullets which crisscrossed the berths like cannon fire in the vacuum of space.
Justin whooped in triumph as a big Kilrathi sank to ground, the top of his furry head blown messily off. With so much gunfire, he was not sure if he had killed the beast, but he didn’t particularly care. The Kilrathi died, end of story. Two more Cats fell, as well, dead before they had even hit the ground. Lieutenant Overstreet thought that they were in the clear at that point, but the Kilrathi’s fire intensified, and Spyder Bowen fell back screaming, his left thigh a bloody mess. He would live, but he would not be comfortable for a while.
Likewise, the Battling Bastards increased their fire, slicing through the Kilrathi Marines like a hot rapier or epee. He smiled at the irony, but dwelled on that for a short time. He drew a bead on an approaching Marine and fired, dropping the big lug, who fell mere inches from his foot. The Kilrathi’s golden eyes were open are staring, and Justin saw his chest slowly rising and falling. The alien was in great pain. Closing his eyes, Justin aimed his pistol at the Kilrathi’s head and pulled the trigger, effectively putting him out of his misery.
A moment later, the fire died down. Justin stood up slowly, ignoring Mallory Napier’s hushed, “ Justin, get back down!” But all he saw was a large room littered with dead Kilrathi bodies. They had done it. A dozen rocket jockeys had cleaned up a squad of the Emperor’s finest. With a dramatic flourish, Justin twirled the pistol on his finger and blew on the barrel.
“ My, my, you think you’re hot shit now, don’t you, MadDog?” a cold, mocking voice said from behind him. His nervous comrades pointed. Slowly, Justin turned, keeping his finger on the trigger. Benito Vanzetti, his blue Confed uniform torn and bloodied and his skin unnaturally pale, stood in the doorway, a Kilrathi Dor’chak laser rifle pointed at Justin’s chest.“ Drop it,” he commanded, nodding toward what was in Overstreet’s hand. “ Good,” the Italian man continued when Justin had obeyed. “ Now I suppose you’re wondering just what the hell I’m doing here.”
Pete Decker stood as well. “ Come on, let’s just ice this bastard and call it a day.”
“ Tut, tut,” Vanzetti admonished, swinging the barrel of his rifle from Justin to Pete and then back again. “ Make any sudden movements and your chum here gets it. Don’t underestimate me, ladies and gentlemen, I am well prepared to pump Mr. Overstreet here full of energy.”
Natalie Maximus, who looked about ready to cry, said, “ Come on, Pete, sit back down.” Babyface Decker looked reluctant to do so.
“ That’s an order, Lieutenant. I’ll handle this,” John Noble barked, standing up as well. “ Sit down. If anyone fires, you’ll be facing a court martial if we get out of this thing.”
Angrily, Pete flipped the safety on and jammed the pistol into the waistband of his trousers. “ All right, fine. Just don’t let your guard down, Vanzetti.”
“ Oh, don’t worry, Lieutenant Decker, I won’t,” Benito returned with a malicious grin. “ Now, where were we? Ah, yes. My… resurrection. Like Lazarus, I have risen from the dead.”
“ Go to hell, Vanzetti,” Cougar shot back hotly. “ I’m not here to play games. I want answers. Start from the beginning. The Vicksburg.” Justin hoped Noble knew what he was doing, for he certainly was in no position to make demands.
“ Well,” Vanzetti said with a shrug, “ I can probably think of a million reasons why I shouldn’t waste my time flapping my gums with the likes of you, but seeing as how you’ll soon be dead and the only conversation I’ll be having is with overgrown housecats, I’ll talk.
“ Perhaps you don’t know, but my homeworld is Mylon 2.”
“ The world the Cats dusted with proton bombs?” Spyder asked.
“ Yeah, that’s right. But it was Confed’s fault for not responding fast enough. I don’t blame the Kilrathi. This is war. It was their duty. But those goddamned High Command buffoons, with their fancy-pants capes and epaulets, were too slow to send in reinforcements. My family died because of your inability to act.” Vanzetti looked as if he was about to cry, but he composed himself and went on.
He said, “ I learned something that day, you know that? I learned that we have no hope of winning this war. That the strife will continue until the Emperor hobbles off his flagship and sits himself behind President Rodham’s desk. We will cease to continue as a race. And so I figured, ‘ If you can’t beat them, join them.’ That’s when I joined the Mandarins, to curry favor with our future overlords. You’d do the same if you were in my position.”
“ No,” Lobo Butler said, rising slowly to stand at Major Noble’s side. “ You’re wrong, Vanzetti. I watched my home planet nuked by the Cats, and I’m more than willing to fight for our freedom. You’re sick, Vanzetti. The Kilrathi decimated Mylon 2. Not the Confederation. Please. Surrender and end this madness.”
“ Shut up! Let me continue,” Vanzetti roared. “ I joined the Naval Academy then, in the hope that I could manipulate Confed from within. The Vicksburg was my first success. The Antietam would be my second. After I had the Vedurag destroy my ship in the Heinlein System, I suppose my rescue party forgot about me or something, but you people picked me up. I reasoned I should try to bring you under as well. So I exploded the bomb on the flight deck…”
“ How?” John Noble demanded. “ We couldn’t find a bomb.”
Benito Vanzetti chuckled coldly. “ Fools, all of you. I’m surprised you didn’t check that evacuation pod, I truly am. If you had, you most likely would have detected the bomb taped under the pod’s seat. But, lucky for me, you were far too trusting. I damn near destroyed this ship and you wouldn’t have known it was I. At that point, I overheard Captain Ruth speaking with Admiral Halsey about the mission here in Trk’Harna and decided to… hide until then. I swallowed a capsule of arakh’lerk a Kilrathi drug derived from that arakh stuff they go ga-ga over. To a Kilrathi, it’s like what nicotine is to humans. To a Terran, it slows the heart, dulls the senses.” The Mandarin’s dark eyes sparkled. “ It simulates death.
“ That drawer your so-called Doctor Kelso stuffed me in was a tad uncomfortable, but, thanks to the Kilrathi drug, I hadn’t noticed it much. The lerk wore off later than I had desired, but it did wear off eventually. Well, that basically brings us to the end of story. I transmitted the Antietam schematics to my Kilrathi friends on Trk’Harna IV and, even now, they’re storming the bridge. Killing your Captain, I have no doubt.”
Justin swallowed hard, letting it all sink in. When he and Captain Ruth had accessed the KIS Vedurag’s central computer, he had been so sure that Benito Vanzetti had been a Mandarin and had betrayed the Vicksburg to the Kilrathi. When it had seemed to the entire crew that the man had died, he had been doubtful. Now, with his sudden return, it was obvious. The traitor and killer had been Vanzetti all along. He was alone on this. No one else on board the Antietam belonged to the accursed Society of Mandarins. That thought was relieving, but it did nothing to squelch the nervousness he felt now, in this position.
Overstreet eyed the man he had helped to bring on board this ship. He knew he could not blame himself; he had just been doing his job. Still, there was that nagging thought in the back of his mind that he was somehow responsible for this entire mess.
“ Damn, Vanzetti,” he said slowly, so as not to startle the Mandarin and set him shooting, “ what happened to the brotherhood of the Service? You know, ‘We few, we happy few, we band of brothers?’”
Vanzetti threw his head back and laughed. “ Brotherhood, hell! It’s every man for himself these days, as far as I’m concerned. Besides, you can’t trust anyone in this day and age.” He spread his arms wide and grinned. “ I’m living proof of that.”
Bang! Bang! Bang! Vanzetti’s dark eyes went wide as those three noises resounded within the pilots’ barracks. Justin, confused, watched as the former Confed ensign began to sway back and forth, as if intoxicated. A thin trickle of blood leaked from his mouth and he let the Dor’chak clatter to the deck. “ Get him!” Justin shouted, throwing himself flat. A chorus of gunfire rang out, catching Benito Vanzetti across his body. He was dead even before his mangled body hit the ground. Justin sighed, grateful that the encounter with the Mandarin slime was over.
Coming to his feet, he looked out the door, wondering who their savior had been. A big grin spread across his features when Joseph Flannery, carrying a C-47 assault rifle, burst into the barracks. The Battling Bastards converged on the bartender, clapping him on the shoulder and praising him to no end.
“ Well,” the big Irishman said, modest as ever. “ I figured I could do better than sitting around and letting those Kilrathi sons of guns take over me ship. So, I pulled me old trusty C-47 and went Cat hunting.”
“ Your timing couldn’t have been better, Joe,” Justin said.
He and the other pilots were safe for now. But he wondered what was going on throughout the rest of the ship.

Donald Ruth slowly lowered himself into his chair and sighed in relief. Several Marines, acting of their own accord, had boarded the transports and captured the Kilrathi pilots at the helms. The remaining Kilrathi on board the Antietam had been trapped and Chief Hornby had come up with a plan to flood the corridors of the Antietam with a knockout gas. The carrier’s Operations department had gone to work, getting as much anesthesia from Sickbay as they could and pumping it throughout the ship (except the bridge and engine room, that is, where the Kilrathi had failed to reach). The Cat troopers had dropped like tons of bricks (as well as a few Terran soldiers), and Colonel Markham’s men had dragged the unconscious aliens to the brig, where they were now. It had been a sneaky and unorthodox tactic, but it had worked. That was all that mattered to Donald Ruth. Plus, now Confed had three fully operational Kilrathi troop shuttles to work with.
“ Captain, sir, we’ve discovered our Mandarin operative,” Warren Jerome said, slowly approaching the Captain’s chair.
Ruth ran a hand over his face. He was suddenly bone-tired. “ Lay the bad news on me, Commander. Who was it?”
“ Sir, you may not believe it… but it was Benito Vanzetti all along.” Jerome frowned. “ You don’t believe me, do you?”
The Antietam’s C.O. smiled at his X.O. “ No, Warren. As… unbelievable as that sounds, Commander, I believe you. Just make sure that rat’s body is off my ship by morning.”
Jerome saluted, perhaps a little too stiffly. “ Aye, aye, Captain Ruth, sir!” He spun on his heel and left the bridge.
“ Casualty report?” he asked.
“ Twenty-two dead, ten wounded,” Nick Goddard reported from Operations.
“ What about Mollie Finster?” he asked, dreading the answer.
“ Nurse Fletcher down in Sickbay says she’ll pull through and be back at the plot board by tomorrow,” Nick replied with a grin.
Thank God, he thought. Actually, he had a great many things to thank God for. But he could do that later. “ I want to see Colonels Drake and Markham in my office immediately,” he told Yeoman Samantha Mulligan. She went off to do as told. Captain Ruth called after her, “ Tell him we’ve waited long enough. We’re landing our boys in fifteen minutes!”

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

[This message has been edited by Dralthi5 (edited October 30, 2000).]
My goodness. Dralthi5, what have you done? Or rather, what have your characters done? This is crazy!

1. **Eduord Somoza, the Antietam’s resident chaplain** - The what? Until WCP, funerals had always been conducted by the CAG. As far as I know, there's no logical reason for this, but rules are rules, you know
2. **"A simple search-and-destroy mission today, gentlemen, it shouldn’t prove too difficult.”** - How so?
Will the Kilrathi fighters roll over and patiently wait for death when Echo Wing comes flying by?
Never call a search-and-destroy mission simple. The very nature of a search-and-destroy mission means that it's always very, very difficult.
3. **. Four Kilrathi troop ships, carrying ten Marines each** - How does he know how many people are onboard?
Also, troop ships is an incorrect term. Shuttles. Troop ships generally carry around a thousand Marines.
4. I'm a bit confused about the whole Grikath + troop shuttles scene. Where's the Antietam's CAP? Surely, they're not sitting in the middle of a Kilrathi system with no CAP, are they?
5. **The enemy soldiers tried to break down the door again. Justin bit his tongue. He wasn’t in the mood to die right now, not pinned against the wall like a criminal before a firing squad.** - Tell me, mon ami, do the words "Be prepared to surrender your sidearm" mean anything to you?
That seems to suggest that pilots - like all other Confed officers - carry a sidearm. Always. Unless of course the Marines disarmed them after landing - but in that case, there wouldn't be any guns in the locker, either.
6. **“ Go to hell, Vanzetti,” Cougar shot back hotly. “ I’m not here to play games. I want answers. Start from the beginning. The Vicksburg.”** - With all due respect, senior Cougar, you are hardly in any position to demand answers
7. **ak’rahsh** - Ack. Please, please don't make up Kilrathi words without consulting me first
. In this case, the original Kilrathi word would have been arakh'lerk - meaning, Arakh-drug (ref: lerkrath and kalkrath). Naturally, the Kilrathi may have one or two other words for it, but they would all contain a derivative of either arakh or lerk - any words that do not contain these are probably slang (like weed or dope), and as such he would not know them.
8. **The cryopod your so-called Doctor Kelso put me in was a tad uncomfortable** - As is to be expected, since cryopods freeze people
. It is also quite impossible to trigger the de-frost option from the inside, since the passenger is too stiff to do so. I will assume that he's lying, and that in fact there is another Mandarin onboard. People don't just defrost all by themselves.
9. **Several Marines, acting of their own accord, had boarded the transports and set their autopilots for the big rock that the Antietam hid behind.** - Whoa! I know Marines are supposed to be dumb, but this just takes the cookie.
I sure hope they get court-martialled for their idiotic destruction of Confed (well, captured, but Confed) property which could have been used in so many ways that it's just not funny. Just think of all those IFF codes sitting in the computers. The nav data (those shuttles had to come from somewhere)... flight logs... and that's not even mentioning that Kilrathi shuttles using Kilrathi IFF codes could easily land onboard any Kilrathi vessel in the vicinity - with Confed Marines.
10. **Colonel Markham’s men had dragged the unconscious aliens to the airlocks and blown them out into space.** - Hmm, they aren't just dumb - they're totally brainless idiots, apparently. And they've definitely got a court-martial coming now. Summary execution of POWs without even interrogating them first? Not only is summary exection very un-Confed, it also makes no sense whatsoever from the military point of view. What did you think the brig is for - locking up disorderly pilots?

Well, that's all the nasty things that I felt I had to say
. Actually, I rather enjoyed the chapter, except for the above-mentioned points. You had a nice balance of action and... well, non-action
. The funeral scene was rather nice too, and the barracks scenes were good too.
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1.I was trying to be a tad more realistic. Chaplains conduct military funerals (I did research).
2. Whatever.
3. Fine, shuttles. It's a generic term, really. It's a ship. It's carrying troops. Troop ship.
4. The Antietam had fighters out, but they were destroyed.
5. Yeah, because we all know a pistol's gonna do a helluva lot of good in the cockpit.
I like the way I did it. And if they did have pistols (useless for a pilot for the most part), Colonel Drake would indeed have taken them (as Major Edmond told Blair to do when McGuffin was killed on the Concordia), as well as the guns in the locker, and my heroes would all be dead now. Where would my story have gone then?
6. I hardly see how bringing that up is productive.
7. Fine.
8. Well, perhaps there's a side effect of the drug we don't know.
But if you want to assume there's another Mandarin on board, that's your perogative.
9. Yeah, my characters are idiots, which, in turn, makes me an idiot for writing it. Thanks. Well, if I were Captain Ruth (which, in a way, I am
) I wouldn't want a couple dozen belligerant Kilrathi on my ship with possible booby traps hidden beneath their armor. Besides, it was an act of desparation.

And I absolutely will not change some of the aforementioned things just because you want me too.
Thanks for keep reading.

If I'm locked on, there's no such thing as evasive action!
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Sorry if I sounded a tad nasty down there.

Anyway, do you have any suggestions on how I can make it better? I want to make my chapter as good as I can get them.

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

[This message has been edited by Dralthi5 (edited July 09, 2000).]
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Hey, I wasn't trying to offend you or anything
. Let's go over these again.

1. I know, I know. But this is WC, and for some as yet unclear reason, funerals are conducted by the CAG. It's not my fault - it's just the way it is.
2. Well, I just felt that his words weren't altogether appropriate. But hey, maybe he was just trying to keep their morale up?

3. In a way. But at the same time, troop ship implies something big. You can't possibly imagine my reaction when I first read that each of those troopships has ten Marines on it. In my mind, I had this image of a 100 metre long Dorkathi freighter with these ten Marines sitting around this vast, empty lounge
. Also, I recommend that you don't say how many Marines there actually are onboard. It doesn't matter as far as the story is concerned anyway. You can, I suppose, mention the shuttles' maximum capacity - but this is likely to be closer to 20 than to 10.
4. Hmm, ok. Must have happened so quick that I didn't even notice
5. Where else, Dralthi5? When a pilot ejects, he wants to be able to... borrow... a ship from the enemy. He certainly doesn't need his sidearm on board the carrier
. Anyway, if you insist, let them run around weaponless. It's their choice
6. It isn't
. You should know by now that not all my comments are productive. I just found that amusing. I didn't say that you need to change it or anything.
7. Don't get irritated so easily. I'm just trying to keep the Kilrathi language sensible. It gets extremely annoying when you find that someone creates a new word without bothering to check the existing words first. It also means incredible amounts of extra work for those of us who actually want to create as much of the Kilrathi language as possible
8. Side effect
? What, like it superheats him to the point where the liquid nitrogen or whatever it is they use simply evaporates? I don't think I can believe that, because it would also roast him. So, I'll just hang on to that prerogative
9 & 10. Look, if you're going to have your characters doing things that Confed would shoot them for, then don't expect me to approve of it. Have you played WC2 SO2? There's a mission in it where you run into an unarmed (and damaged) Kilrathi freighter. They surrender. You know what happens if you take it out anyway? You get court-martialled. Your actions have convinced Tolwyn (so he says) that you're a Mandarin. Enemy ships are even more useful than our own.
As for the Kilrathi Marines, Confed commanders also do not have the choice of executing people summarily (well, they do, and it is legal, but nobody ever does it). Those POW camps aren't just for decoration, you know.
And if Captain Ruth acts out of desperation, then he's not much of a Captain. The whole point of being in command is to keep cool in every situation. Quite frankly, this one looks real good - he's got his Marines, he's got his Brig, and he's got a bunch of unconscious cats. Why would he be so desperate as to commit as merciless and inhumane act as to shove them out the airlock? Especially right now, when intelligence regarding the Kilrathi forces is absolutely vital.

So as you can see, I would suggest some minor corrections in most cases, except for 9 & 10. Here, some larger corrections are in order. You don't have to make any corrections, of course - you can say that Captain Ruth is a ruthless sob, and doesn't give a damn about a bunch of cats - and about his own crew (since ultimately, this will affect the whole operation negatively). But I'd be surprised if that was the case. And, I'd be very surprised if you didn't see the plot value of having Kilrathi to interrogate and Kilrathi shuttles to use in a sneak attack on the Luna Mortis installation
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Okay, I can definitely see your point on the troop ships and the knocked-out-cold kitties. I already have my own plans for Luna Mortis, BTW, but any suggestions are vastly appreciated...

As for the funeral... Fine, this time I'll stick with Wing Commander tradition (
), but I'll still include Eduord Somoza (the name of my chaplain in all my stories, WC or not, BTW) for... oh, I dunno, the spiritual aspect of it all. If you've read the WC3 novelization (which I don't think you have), the Victory's chaplain, Commander White, makes a little speech before Col. Blair does his thing.

4. Yup, a few Ferrets from Fred Heinrich's squadron. Yes, okay, it is a small blurb, but it's there.

5. I don't insist, per se, but I just can't think of any other option at this point. I'll keep at it, though, to make my chapter as good as I can.
6. Okay, okay.

7. As for the Kilrathi word stuff... okay. But I've yet to see this fake (
) language fully explored like, say... Klingonese (or Klingon, if you prefer) in Star Trek (which was expanded into a dictionary
). But, if you're so sure, then, of course, I'll change it to make as accurate as possible.
8. Eh... I'm still unsure of how I could go about this. I could invent a Mandarin on the Antietam, but I have no plans for that, really, as of yet, and if I put it in now, it'd be kind of obvious. I'll keep thinking about this one, too.

Thanks for your input, I'll go back later and clean Chapter Six up a tad.

If I'm locked on, there's no such thing as evasive action!
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As for Donald Ruth being a ruthless son of a bitch, well... Wait until book 3 in the Justin Overstreet "Brother" Trilogy. Wait... scratch that. You didn't hear anything.

If I'm locked on, there's no such thing as evasive action!
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Yes, well, I just figure that young J... Jus... no... ah, that's it. I just figured that young Jeremy might prefer going to Luna Mortis in a troopship that won't get shot down the moment it appears on radar

You can have your chaplain if you really want
. Maybe the crew of the Antietam is more religous than those of the 'Claw and the Concordia. BTW, you really shouldn't use the same name in all your stories. In fact, you should never use the same name twice (unless it's the same character, obviously).

5. Well, it's not really that complicated to change the scene a bit so that instead of passing the guns around, they pull them out of their holesters. If you want to make up for the lost words, just add that Justin feels quite surprised, as he never expected he'd have to use the handgun.
7. I'm working on it
. And it's only fake if you believe it is.

8. Well, maybe store him in a plastic bodybag instead. They also have to be kept cold to prevent decay, but only at about normal fridge temperatures. Of course, then he's sitting in one of those weird cupboards, but hey - they're not designed to keep live people in, so he'd manage to get out. He'd still have a nasty cold though.
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I liked this chapter, but that part about shoving live kats "out the door" surprised me a little. I'd think they'd be put in the brig in chains and gagged...


Keep the story coming, laddie!

The WC Source Code Release Project needs you!

"This matter winds itself ever in new riddles.", Faramir - The Lord of The Rings

"...we follow the sun, we follow the sun, we follow the sun..."
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So the marines got caught with their pants down and are trying to make up by killing POW's and destroying captured ships. Utterly brainless! No wonder the Kilrathi is winning the war. Have'nt learned from Jotunhein (SM1). So who's the squadron leader in charge of CAP. Send the guy to Caernavon along with that 'Mandarin' from Tiger's Claw!

Dralthi5: It's a very nice story though!

Quarto's done picking, so I won't.

ps: Aha! Now, I see the point in Rachel's saying "cut and paste specials" (WC3). Bob Holland must have been her mentor.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Arial">quote:</font><HR>Turn me loose, Colonel.
This is what I live for!

[This message has been edited by JoeyRP (edited July 12, 2000).]
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Paste and glue specials, bud.

BTW, I just got an e-mail from Vondoom, saying he'd put up my story on his site. It's nice to know people like my stories.

klaus & Joey: Thanks, guys.

Quarto: Well, you don't know this, but I've used Justin Overstreet, John Noble, Eduord Somoza, Christopher Edison, Tomo Nomura, Donald Ruth, Ryan Yan, and Warren Jerome in other non-WC, original Sci-Fi stories of mine. A lot of them (Overstreet, Noble, Edison, Yan, and Somoza) have the same jobs that they have in BOB, but others have totally different jobs. (ie. Nomura's a Marine sergeant major, or Ruth is an admiral, and Jerome is Vice-President of the UCE [or the United Colonies of Earth]). Once I come up with a name, I like it and use it over.

Good suggestions, BTW, I'll think about it.

If I'm locked on, there's no such thing as evasive action!
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There. If this meets your approval, everyone, I can move on with Ch. 7. After the strike on Trk'Harna, I'll change the focus of the story from Justin to Jeremy (I hope you haven't forgotten him

Oh, and I forgot to bring this up before, but my plans for Luna Mortis, Quarto, are actually very similar to your idea.

If I'm locked on, there's no such thing as evasive action!
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&lt;Emperor's voice&gt; Dralthi5... I am pleased! &lt;/Emperor's voice&gt;

Yes, it will do nicely
. Oh yeah, there is just one tiny nitpick that I forgot the first time round.

**The throaty roars of the Terrans. The high-pitched squeals of the Kilrathi.** - I must protest. The Kilrathi do not emit high-pitched squeals
. In fact, their roars are far throatier than any throaty-roaring-Terran ever dreamt was possible.
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Well, I went by the only sound of an injured Kilrathi I've heard: Those in the movie. The noise the Cats in pain make kind of sound like squeals to me.

If I'm locked on, there's no such thing as evasive action!
The Kilrathi in the Movie also look very different from the games, but I don't see you describing your Kilrathi as furless (if you did, then die, foul creature!). The game Kilrathi roar!

And purr.
Fine, fine.

If I'm locked on, there's no such thing as evasive action!
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Dralthi5:
Well, I went by the only sound of an injured Kilrathi I've heard: Those in the movie. The noise the Cats in pain make kind of sound like squeals to me.


Those furless freaks! Must have shaved their furs off to fit inside a flight suit!

If Roberts had a hosted site, I'd flame him for that

Don't spoil the suspense by hinting what happense next, unless you're just trying to whet my appetite for more!

[This message has been edited by JoeyRP (edited July 17, 2000).]
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Deal. I'll keep my lip buttoned and get to writing.

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