Recall - Down to Business


Rear Admiral
2681.037.0902 - Down to Business

Thomas rapped lightly on the thick, decorated door. He was sure that it was real wood producing the hollow sound. Without waiting for acknowledgement he reached for the handle. It smoothly slid away under the pressure of his palm, until with a gentle click the lock was released - the door gliding open with little resistance. The room had changed significantly since he was last here. Gone was the plain grey, functional desk - replaced with a grand bureau of a dark lacquered wood.

"Good morning Sir," Thomas silently closed the door behind him.

"Morning Thomas," Admiral Terrell briefly peered up from his work. "Make yourself comfortable," he indicated the soft looking, high-backed chairs around a sturdy oval table, "I'll be right with you."

Terrell looked back to the pile of papers that had greeted him that morning. The Admiral had hoped to get through more in the hour he had before his scheduled meeting with Commodore Harvey. He finished reading a paper document and nonchalantly stuffed it into a shredder that was neatly integrated into his workspace. Scanning over the folders on his desk, he pushed some aside to pick out ones that lay beneath. Satisfied, he scooped up the remaining folders and neatly stacked them in a nearby tray - leaving his desk clutter free. He got up from his swivelling chair and walked the short distance to his conference table.

"I have something you might want to take a look at."

"Paperwork," Thomas turned on the sarcasm, "Wonderful."

Terrell ignored the comment and handed him a thin plastic folder. The Commodore took it with a sigh and reluctantly opened it. The face in the photo on the upper left corner of the front page did not register immediately - he blinked.

"2nd Lieutenant James G. O'Connor?" Thomas read off the name label to confirm his recognition.

"Yes," the Admiral replied without pause, "We want him to be our test pilot for the Steltek craft."

Thomas looked up from the folder, "Have you told him yet?"

"No," Terrell briefly stroked his chin, "I wanted to leave you the pleasure."

Thomas grinned gratefully. He knew James would be thrilled at the opportunity - perhaps even enough to forgo his aspirations of space combat.

"That's not all," Terrell continued, circling a finger in the air, "Read the last two pages."

Thomas thumbed through the short stack of paper - the standard profile, academy record and a couple of performance reports. He scanned over the second last page - a recommendation of promotion to 1st Lieutenant, confirmed on the final page.

"He's earned it," the Commodore's lips broadened to a smile beneath his thick white moustache.

The Admiral nodded, handing him the other two folders he had selected, "And so have they."

Thomas looked at each in turn - Nathan now a Captain and Micas a Lieutenant Colonel.

"I see the Confederation is generous in its gratitude," Thomas looked up at the Admiral.

It was no surprise that Thomas hadn't been handed Travis' folder, though Jessica's would have been a pleasant surprise. Her time would come yet - soon no doubt. Caitlin would have simply refused a promotion - like she had done before.

"You realise you're effectively grounding Major Gratke with this?" Thomas poked the paper with a finger.

"Thomas, I don't know the man, but scanning over his record I can see he's destined for greater things than piloting fighters."

Commodore Harvey knew that, "I just hope he doesn't miss the flying. He never let on if he was attached to it." He closed the last folder, handing them all back to the Admiral.

"As their commander, you may impart their new ranks at your leisure."

"They we're still asleep when I last checked. I'll do it later tonight." Thomas shifted in his seat, "So what about me, Admiral?"

"What? You already got your promotion," Terrell spoke with a straight face that soon broke with a smile.

"I mean what's going to happen to me now that I'm a Commodore?"

The Admiral frowned, "Exactly what was happening when you were a Captain. I gave you my word, and I intend to keep it. You'll stay with the Icarus and her crew - the one you put together. You'll help us conduct tests on the Steltek craft and then you can go back to searching the asteroids."

"Frankly, I was thinking of throwing in the towel."

Admiral Terrell paused to study the expression on Thomas' face, "I'm not so sure that's a good idea."

Thomas hadn't expected that sort of reaction. He would have liked to think that he could end his military career with the snap of his fingers - and yet something held him back from making that decision. "What with the promotion and all," he felt it hanging.

"Why don't we go see how our people of science are faring?" the Admiral got up abruptly. He dropped the folders on his desk and headed for the door.

Thomas stood up and followed him to the decoratively carved portal, "Many important people must pass through this doorway."

Terrell nodded, opening the door and letting Thomas step out before him. He walked up to the neatly organised desk of his uniformed secretary, "Jeanne, do you have those security passes issued for project 139?"

The well groomed secretary nodded silently, reaching into a desk drawer to produce a small booklet - handing it to the Admiral. Terrell flipped through the ring bound, clear plastic holding sheets and extracted two pass cards.

"Here," he handed one to the Commodore, "We'll need these."

Thomas examined the small plastic card. Just your standard security clearance card with a hologram of the owner and a small circuit for tracking movement through restricted areas - completely useless to anyone but the owner since they were almost always used in combination with some other form of identification such as a retina scan. He clipped it onto his uniform pocket just as the Admiral did.

"Make sure the other members of the Icarus' crew get these," Terrell handed the booklet back, "Oh and if I'm needed urgently, I'll be in bay 5."

"Yes, Sir," Jeanne replied.

The Admiral led the way out of his office through the automatic, sliding glass doors etched with the Confederation logo. They made their way down a long curving corridor, toward the elevators to the lower decks of the naval base where the dry docks and hangars were. Both the grey haired men walked in silent of anticipation of what some of the Confederation's finest scientists had discovered since they eagerly began their work late the night before. They had excused themselves from the promotion ceremony turned informal party. Both Terrell and Thomas knew the arrival of the Steltek ship on Perry was only the first step in a long line of tests and experiments.

They rounded a corner and Admiral Terrell pushed the button for the elevator.

"Do you think they'll have anything for us yet?" Thomas asked, glancing around.

"I have no idea Thomas, but they've had three teams of six working full time since they unloaded our little gem," he deliberately avoided any specifics. The landing operation the day before had spawned enough rumours to conveniently conceal the true importance of the craft arriving aboard the Icarus.

The elevator announced its arrival with a light twitter and its door slid aside. They entered and turned to face the number display at the front of the small cabin - already occupied by several serious looking men in uniform. After a short trip in silence, the lift soon stopped and the men filed out, leaving the two old time friends to continue their journey lower.

"Did your people report any magnetic field disturbances as we landed?" Thomas adjusted his glasses slightly as the elevator plunged down - the acceleration unnoticeable as the artificial gravity compensated with adequate force.

Terrell raised an eyebrow, "Yes, now that you mention it. But the report on my desk this morning indicated they couldn't specify the cause."

"I'm not sure as to the details, but Micas mentioned a dynamic electromagnetic field generated by the craft in his account of the docking operation."

"Well there were mild power fluctuations reported along the base's shaft right at the time of your landing on Perry. The technicians wrote it off as a random glitch like any other, but our more informed scientists suspected a link to the cargo you were bringing in."

The door slid aside once again and they stepped out into a spacious, metallic hall. They approached two armed men standing by a large door labelled with a blue number 5.

"Good morning Admiral," a ginger haired security guard saluted the two superior officers.

"Morning Harry," Terrell returned the salute, as did the Commodore. As the man called Harry scanned his security tag, the Admiral turned to face Thomas, "Not even a cockroach gets past this man without his knowing about it."

Colonel Harry grinned, "Just the way you want it Sir." He pointed a small device at Thomas security tag and then at his face - it bleeped in recognition. He poked at it for a few seconds and the door behind him opened with a loud clang. "Go right ahead Sirs. They're expecting you."

The other armed guard saluted rigidly as they walked in to behold the centre of operations that had been set up to study the Steltek craft, within mere hours of its deliverance to Perry. Half a dozen smart looking people in white lab coats bustled around the craft - intently tapping away at their computer terminals and consulting with each other.

A short balding man in an oversized lab coat waddled into view from around the ship. "Ah, Admiral Terrell," he met them as they neared the asteroid encrusted craft, hovering in mid air.

"Professor Hughes," the Admiral outstretched his hand, "How are you and your team progressing?"

"Just fine Admiral," he shook hands briefly and repeated the gesture with Commodore Harvey. "I've had to force some of my colleagues to sleep, but we are ahead of schedule. In fact we're just about ready," he never completed the sentence.

Admiral Terrell raised an eyebrow questioningly and exchanged glances with an equally puzzled Thomas.

The Professor continued, "We've completed all our initial scans and are ready to remove the remains of the asteroid from the craft." He turned around and walked up to a trolley standing amongst the array of instruments set up around the ship. Taking out a couple of pairs of goggles similar to ones he wore around his neck, he handed them to the two military men, "Here, put these on."

They did as instructed.

"Why are your people having trouble sleeping?" Thomas asked as he donned the goggles over his glasses.

"Excitement," the Professor put his goggles on over his own spectacles as well. "We have three teams of six working eight hour shifts, but this sort of discovery gets us all worked up, so it's hard to remain disciplined. Most work twelve or sixteen hours straight - without food or drink. We're dealing with a new technology that is powered and active, so I need my people to be fresh and have their wits about them. I can't stop them thinking and working but I insist they get at least two good meals and 8 hours rest a day."

The Admiral looked somewhat puzzled at the scientist's almost military discipline. Thomas just smiled - he knew full well the responsibility involved in team leadership.

"Professor," a young woman in a lab coat spoke up, "We've completed the structural analysis."

"All right," Professor Hughes replied, "Remove all equipment from the vicinity and lets crack this baby open."

The young woman nodded and began giving directions to the other white coats and some assisting uniformed technical personnel. Thomas watched in silence as they began detaching probes. The team worked efficiently in moving the equipment away - leaving only the cameras that had been set up around the craft. The Commodore was so engrossed with the systematic work progressing before him, that he never heard the opening of the main hangar access door.

"Morning Sir," a familiar voice greeted Thomas from behind.

"Nathan," Thomas spun around to see Lieutenants Barkley and O'Connor, "I see you and James finally decided to get up?"

"Yes Sir," James replied, "We checked in at the Admiral's office and decided to skip breakfast to check out what's happening."

"You're just in time too," Professor Hughes handed each of them a pair of goggles which they put on as the others had done.

"Well you can watch this," the Commodore hesitated - he still wasn't exactly sure what this was going to be, "And then you'll march right back to the mess and eat breakfast."

"But…" Nathan began to protest.

"No buts!" Thomas cut him off sternly.

Admiral Terrell chuckled quietly - it was like watching a father reprimand his own children.

"We're clear to proceed," the young woman reported.

Checking everything and everyone was in place, Professor Hughes announced, "Whenever you're ready Arthur."

A short, dark haired man with a thick moustache nodded curtly and hunched over his console - extending a mechanical arm out to the ship. He manoeuvred the cutting laser on the tip of the long arm, "Setting to ten percent power and 5mm penetration."

As the cool green beam burst into life, their goggles automatically darkened to compensate for the sudden increase in light intensity. Several of the scientists looked to their computer screens to check on any changes in readings as the long arm began to move the laser along the ridge of the craft.

"Neutron emissions have increased by two percent," a tall scientist reported.

"I'm reading some local electromagnetic field fluctuations at the point of incision," the young woman reported.

"The craft appears to be absorbing the laser's energy and re-emitting it in several other forms," the tall scientist added.

"Continue at the present setting," the Professor adjusted his goggles.

"We're barely fifteen centimetres along," the man controlling the laser sighed, "At this rate well be here all…"

He was cut off by an intense shattering noise that filled the hangar. With a loud snap, the rocky shell cracked in two - the smaller half toward the back, sliding off the hull of the craft with a grudging hiss. Everyone looked up in time to see the back part of the crust slip off and collapse onto the hard deck, crumbling into a thousand pieces with a resounding, hollow thud. The laser flickered and died as the front part of the shell began to slide off - the underside giving way at the shift in weight. The bottom part of the shell began to crack and flake off, showering the deck with more of the brittle rock's fragments. Large chunks slumped to the ground, stirring up dust as they collapsed. Finally the remaining unbalanced section atop the ship slid sideways and smashed into a heap on the deck.

There was a moment of silence as the heavy dust settled - slowly revealing the sleek elongated shape of the Steltek craft. The shiny black form reflected the bright lighting of the hangar. Several rounded protrusions from the egg-like hull glowed with an eerie green light.

Thomas suddenly burst out laughing, causing the others to exchange amused glances.

"I'm sorry," the Commodore apologised between coughs, "It's just that Lieutenant Keene has proved me right for once."

Professor Hughes waved his hand at the cloud of dust around him, "Get that mess off the deck, and have our labs analyse each and every last fragment."

"Wow," Nathan admired the shining hull as the fine particles danced around the craft.

"Yeah, ain't she a beauty?" James commented.

"You'll get to see her up close and personal Lieutenant," the Admiral grinned at him.

"Outside and in," Thomas added cryptically.

"On and off the field," Terrell threw in.

"Sir?" Lieutenant O'Conner was utterly confused.

"Should we tell him?" Thomas turned to the Admiral.

"Why spoil the fun?"

"James, you're going to be flying that," Thomas indicated the Steltek ship. "Oh and you're promoted to 1st Lieutenant. Congratulations." The Commodore took James' hand and shook it vigorously as the news sunk in.

"I'm going to be flying that?" he asked incredulously.

"The boy catches on quickly," the Admiral commented.

"Well science division certainly thought he catches on fast enough to make his a test pilot," Thomas defended.

"I'm going to be flying that?" James asked again.

"You sound like a broken holo-vid," Nathan complained, "You lucky son of a gun."

Lieutenant O'Conner was visibly shaken and somewhat pale.

"Maybe it's just as well that you skipped breakfast," Commodore Harvey noted.

James felt as if he had just won a lottery. He pondered his incredible luck - chosen to pilot the only ship of its kind that the Confederation owned. It will be a great honour.

"I think I've seen enough for now," Admiral Terrell turned to exit.

"Yes, so have I," Thomas wanted to get away from the dust.

"C'mon," Nathan slapped James on the back, taking the opportunity to further agitate him, "All you need is a few days of mess food and sleeping on a zero-G bed."

"And speaking of zero-G," Admiral Terrell was reminded, "Thomas, I'd like your crew to join in a few of the regular patrols starting tomorrow. I think they could use a change of scenery."

"Yes, Sir. Definitely," Thomas was serious. A few days out of routine could help, especially since they had their work cut out for them. After the first wave of tests would be completed at Perry, the next few months would be spent testing the Steltek ship off base.

"What about our well earned rest?" Nathan whined jokingly.

The Admiral fielded the question without turning around, "Nothing can get you rested up better, than getting out there, and into some fighter action."


Well, after a long while, there it is for all it's worth.

You know the drill - lemme know what y'all think.

[This message has been edited by Matrix (edited May 17, 2000).]
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Hoooray! Pretty good!
I don't know, but I thought the story was over with that party episode.

"They we're still asleep when I last checked"
Shouldn't it be: "They were..." ?

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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Well... I think I'll post my comments tomorrow. 'Twould take too long to read this again right now.
klaus: It's not over till the fat Colonel sings - and since I haven't yet introduced one...
And yes you're right. Well spotted.

[This message has been edited by Matrix (edited May 19, 2000).]
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Dammit, I shouldn't have waited... now I've got to review two sections
. Well, let's get this done before you write up a third...

1. Well, actually, Klaus'd already spotted this one.
2. *Colonel Harry grinned* - You mean, his last name is Harry? Because normally, one doesn't combine first names with military titles. Admiral Geoffrey, General James or Colonel Chris just don't sound right
3. *A short balding man in an oversized lab coat waddled into view from around the ship.* - The archetypal scientist
4. Hmm... come to think of it, whatever happened to that other scientist specialising in the Steltek? What was her name... <loud noises as Quarto prowls through ancient, dusty threads> Ah! Found it. Dr. Gina Adams. Apparently, she was supposed to be so vital to all this, that Adm. Terrel immediately started making arrangements for her to get to Perry ASAP. And she can't have been too far away - not if they had been able to contact her from the Icarus.
5. *and 8 hours rest a day."* - Need I say anything, or do you still remember what I said about numbers?

6. *"Remove all equipment from the vicinity and lets crack this baby open."* - Let's.
7. *As the cool green beam burst into life* - You know, WC lasers have always been red. In fact, the only greeen coloured weapon that I can recall right now is... the Steltek gun.
8. *"At this rate well be here all..."* We'll.
9. *Several rounded protrusions from the egg-like hull glowed with an eerie green light.* - Egg-like? Only the drone was egg-like. The Steltek fighter (in the derelict base) certainly wasn't. Of course, it's your ship, so...

10. *"It's just that Lieutenant Keene has proved me right for once."* - Confused. Maybe you mean, "proved me wrong"?
11. *"Should we tell him?" Thomas turned to the Admiral.
"Why spoil the fun?"* - Be careful not to overdo those sort of dialogues. I get enough of those smug elder types reading Eddings
12. *Thomas defended.* - That's a rather odd phrase.
13. *O'Conner* - Could've sworn it was O'Connor. Ah, well.
14. *well earned* - Well-earned.
15. No fifteen. You just don't make enough mistakes any more

Well, there isn't much else to say. 'Tis a nice enough section, though I daresay not one of your best... even if I could count the mistakes on my fingers. Maybe it's just because it was a slow section, and after the long wait... <shrug> still, it's pretty good.

[This message has been edited by Quarto (edited May 21, 2000).]
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1. *nod*
2. Uh. No will change to "the Colonel" to avoid further confuzzlement.
3. Yup. I figured I'd throw one in since I have so many non-stereotypical ones about.

4. Dr. Adams is the chief scientist in another team that worked earlier that morning. Don't worry, all will be explained.
5. And need I quote my reply or do you remember it?
6. Aye, let's.
7. Actually it should've been blue since it's probably a Nitorgen laser. And this is a cutting torch not a weapon...though it certainly could be used as one at close range.
8. We'll spotted.

9. The egg shape makes several things simpler, all of which get explained in the next few sections.
10. Nope. Proved me right. I might add/rephrase to make it clear that he's happy with Travis' work on stripping most of the asteroid off.
11. Aw let the old fogies have some fun. Their days are numbered anyway.

12. I warned you the chapter was odd.

13. It is O'Connor...a typo.
14. If you say so - cause Word didn't.
15. What? You mean I'm getting better?

I wasn't aiming for best, or inspired enough to do so. Be prepare for more slow going as James explores the Steltek fighter technology first hand.
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2. As I thought
. Though I must say, he's pretty high ranking, for a security guard.
3. Ah.

4. Dang. I thought I had you there
5. I remember it, but I don't think it applies in this case. You normally keep them in numerical form because it makes it easier to work things out then. But I don't think that there's much to work out about "eight hours of sleep"
7. I know... I just figured I'd mention it
9. Well... as long as you have an explanation. But it had better be good.
10. Well, when you finish, I'll go re-read the whole thing, but until then, I'll have to pretend I remember what you're talking about
12. No, you warned about the next one. This one caught me by surpise.

13. In that case, you'd better do a search and replace, because there'd been several of them... at least two.
14. And since when do you expect Word to tell you the truth?

15. Why shouldn't you be? Just because people don't speak English around you, doesn't mean that you'll automatically get worse... though it doesn't help.

I don't mind slow going as long as it's interesting.
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2. Only the best get assigned to a project of such importance.

5. Picky, picky. As you will no doubt have noticed I have been trying to keep the other stuff in non numerical form. And yes I do belive proper creative writing shouldn't contain number.
9. It will...I hope.

10. Actually I haven't covered Travis bio in detail but how he got aboard the Icarus will no doubt be explained.
12. Ah. Sorry. I'll be careful to post more warnings next time.

13. Erf. Okay. I also often write Terrel instead of Terrell, but I think I nailed most of them. BTW, what is Admiral Terrell first name? James?
14. I'd at least expect it not to lie.
15. I guess practice makes perfect...or something.

In that case I hope it is.
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Ah, I see you're still here. Don't go away, because I'm about to post Chapter X. You know, the one that's been ready, but not quite. At any rate, I've just gone over it again, and decided that it's time to post... guess why?

13. I don't know. He might not actually have one.
14. You ask for too much
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I'm always here.

I've just gone over it again, and decided that it's time to post... guess why?
Heh. So I see my posts had the desired effect...again. I'll check it out ASAP. Oh and don't get too comfy. Next section "First Contact" should be done in a few days...well maybe tonight. Nothing like a little healthy competition to get inspired eh?

13. You don't know? How can you not know something about WC?

Aye, tha' I doo.
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Competition can indeed be very valuable.

13. Well, there doesn't seem to be anything to know about his name.
As far as I know, it's non-existent. Unless they mentioned it in that ancient preview. Wait a sec...



<security alert>





Preview found... searching for data...
...Admiral Terrell. Located. No first name available. But you might want to read this anyway:

Admiral Terrell
Proven in combat, Terrell is a career officer who won his rank in the heat of battle. He is a much celebrated and highly decorated hero of the Kilrathi War. Terrell has since been put in charge of all military vessels in the Tolnidan Sector (presumably, this was later changed to Gemini Sector) and he takes his command very seriously. He plans to clean up the entire sector.

Ah, here's some others you might be interested in...

Commodore Reismann
Commodore Reismann has been given a special directive from Admiral Terrell - eradicate all piracy in the Tolnidan (Gemini)Sector. Reismann, a bloodthirsty commander, is just the man for the job. He has been assigned a force that rivals any frontline Confed Battle Group.

Doctor Lemuel Monkhouse
The good doctor is one of the foremost authorities in the newly developing field of xenoarcheology, the study of the remains of alien civilizations. Everyone seems to be interested in the doctor's work. The Confederacy, the mob, many private corporations, the Kilrathi...

Remember him? He's the one who translated the map for us.
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No name huh? Well thanks for the info. I will no doubt come in handy. And yes I remember Lemule Monkhouse.
I like what I read. I shall have to come back a little later and give a more in-depth review. BUt keep up the good work.
Hey, Matrix, I was going to check out your story (since you were nice enough to read mine), but I can't seem to find the first chapter. Did it make itself scarce like some of my chapters?

If I'm locked on, there's no such thing as evasive action!
It's still here, but you can't see the thread title, and you probably can't post in it. Gimme a sec, an' I'll plunder the 'Zone in search of it
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Well, that was a nice trip down memory lane
. Just a note, in his first three or four threads, Matrix had to split the story up into two or three posts - naturally, things get mighty confusing because the order has been reversed since then
. So, just keep that in mind when reading...

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4 (The title says it's Part 3, but you can't really trust Matrix
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9 (Ye be here now
Part 10

[This message has been edited by Quarto (edited May 28, 2000).]
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No problem
. Only took me half an hour. And I got to see a lot of threads I haven't seen for a long time. Usually, I stopped over at my threads, just to make sure Dralthi5 had posted his comments
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My very perfunctory comments.

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