Citizens of the Imperium

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Leitz June 3rd, 2017 08:38 PM

TDW:1416 Season 4 "Freedom Isn't Free"
 
[Iron System 208.068.0105 Fleet Time]

"G54FE3 Reporting, sir."

"Hold on." Beinon said without looking back. He had seen the reflection of movement in the plexisteel's reflection and made a bet with himself about who it was. She sounded about right.

Still, he didn't want to mess this up. Guthr had gotten some goo from the shop mixed up for him to seal the loose pane of plexisteel in the turret. Beinon liked looking at the stars, it was a far cry from life fully underground or under the water of Haearn. He had claimed the turret as it was totally useless otherwise and moved his office into it. Since the office wasn't anything but a sheet to sleep on and half an old notebook to write on, the unused turret would do. He'd have it cleaned up and fixed up for the Captain's review; when time came to talk about a full time place on the crew Beinon would have made an impression.

He gently needled the goo into the crevasse between the pane and the frame. Creator knew what had kept the thing from leaking, maybe it was. Still, the goo would set in a day and be sealed for the trip to Wardn. Beinon's nose was three centimeters from the pane and his eye caught every nook and cranny. The goo was in the best he could do. One long strip of fastenal tape and he was good.

He liked the view of the stars as long as there was a full atmo or four centimeters of plexisteel between him and open space. He smiled. It was a good job. He was learning as best he could and trying to make sure when time came to be judged he stood straight. Creator knew he had made stupid choices for a long time; this might be his last chance. He worked on his smile and turned to face the woman.

His smile froze on his face.

Her already threadbare top was fully loose and he could see the scabs and scars of enslavement. Her chocolate skin was blotched with ashen gray that matched the rough patches of hair left. If she carried a large box she might weight in at three dozen kilos. Maybe. Skin was tight against her ribs and whatever normal shape a woman should have was denied her.

As she started to undo the tie at her waist Beinon finally got his mouth to move.

"Stop." He wasn't sure he had heard himself, much less if she heard him. "Stop, please."

"They said you wanted to see me." Her gaze stayed locked on his feet but her hands paused.

"I do, but..."

"Am I not pleasing?" She whispered.

"Yes, you are. It's not like that." Beinon felt his face warm. "I mean, you're beautiful, but I didn't ask you here for that. Those rules are gone. Your life isn't forfeit for the slightest mistake."

She started to rock from side to side.

"Look, I'm sorry, I'm still getting used to this myself." Beinon sat in the remains of a gunner's mount. "Let me try to fix this. I'm Crewman Daniels. Please call me Beinon. What's yer name?"

"G54FE3, sir." Her rocking slowed slightly yet her hands were still at the tie straps to her trousers.

"No, lass. Yer name. Them that numbered you are gone." He hadn't done well with her, that's for sure. Still, maybe the truth would cover where his words weren't enough. "Lookit, some of the others said you was good with ship engines. I know you couldn't say that before; one mistake in the engine room and your supper. It's different now. I got the word straight from Captain Webb himself; we get a new start. Someone with your smarts can make it big time."

His eyes fell on her bare feet. They were small, and pitted. Two toes were missing and another looked broken.

"Look, I'll be straight up with you. If I recruit you to work and you do a good job then it makes me look good to. I'm wanting a better place for myself. But I'm not as some; I'll take you with me if you work hard. I'll tell the Captain you did a great job if you do."

"They say he's gone and the pirates are coming back." Her scant muscles pulled skin tight. "We'll all be dead then."

"He's coming back. I've talked to the bridge crew and they are sure of it. We're nearly to the planet and in a few hours the first load of food will hit the kitchens. Imagine it! Can you still eat?"

"Bad teeth." She whispered. "I...they said I'm dying."

His breath caught. "From what? Why didn't you say something?"

"No one cared." She whispered. "No one wanted me."

Beinon stood and stepped over the frayed power cable. He was less than half a meter from her and she shrank back. With his best care he buttoned her tunic back up.

"Let's go talk to the doctor. If you can be fixed then they can fix you."

"I can't afford it." She said. "I...my body doesn't do what I tell it to. I was going to be next."

"You're with me now. I'll make sure it's taken care of." He looked back at the turret. "Look, don't take this wrong, but you can hole up here. No services rendered, no payment. Just the stars."

"This is freedom?" She wrapped her thin arms around her chest. "It's really free?"

"No, lass. Freedom isn't free. This time, though, we're not the ones to pay the cost. I'm right thankful for the chance and plan on doing my best. I'll do the best I can for you as well. Okay?"


[Iron System 208.068.1715 Fleet Time]

She had cringed as he tried to lead her to the sick bay. Yet she had gone. The doctor had scanned, poked, prodded, and hadn't answered before Beinon had to report for duty. Part way through his shift he had seen her talking to Chief Engineer Chen. His duty as Crewman took him from the engine room to a second full shift in the kitchen preparing hundreds of fish. He pulled himself back to his office and wanted nothing more than to pass out completely.

She was there. She had found a sheet of her own and taken his for good measure. She snored.

He turned off the main light and use his flashlight to find a spot. Work boots made a smelly but functional pillow and he did a quick look to make sure she was okay.

Her hand clutched a small worn thing of lip color. Bright blue, judging from her lips and the three marks on her cheek. He paused and smiled. Over her head, in bright blue. He clicked off his flashlight and curled up sheetless. His mind settled on the writing; she had claimed her space. It was a good sign. It was a good name.

Nila.

Leitz June 15th, 2017 11:32 AM

[Iron System 208.068.1920 Fleet Time]

"Captain on the Bridge." Chen's voice rang out as she slipped out of the captain's chair without remorse. Whatever else the old SCN crew had taught the new fleet, military discipline was high on the list. Everyone on the bridge turned and gave Ben a polite nod and welcome smile. "Sir, SLT Auger has Engineering, SLT McCray is off-duty after a long string of doubles. The reports are in your comms with urgent items flagged."

Somehow the ship looked even cleaner than when Ben had left. The Contact Team had been welcomed by fully dressed spacers who ushered everyone to their quarters and ensured baggage was taken care of. Every hall Ben walked was clean, the air smelled clean, and the crew were clean. Even the hull vibrations were smoother.

EN Jacobson moved to stand by the pilot's seat. The current bridge crew had half an hour left. Gail had asked to shadow the pilot's chair to learn the systems. As an actual rated pilot she was a bonus to the crew. As an officer she had proven her absolute incompetence in battledress yet she had not let that stop her from success. As a person, well, she had verbally sparred all the way back with Tom but kept it light and professional. She hadn't given Ben a no on joining him, nor had she given a yes. Ben could tell she was thinking about a lot of things. Her career, obviously. But not that alone.

Ben had gone over the reports on the way in. The promised food was welcomed by the galley and reported as being full quality and slightly above quantity promised. Lily had signed the paperwork for Jimmie's ship and Chen had a diagnostic module to attach so they could see what work needed to be done.

Spoiler:

Captain Benjamin Webb [M] [797874] (age 30) - [Marine/Consort] (ex-Army Major, ex-Pirate): Rifle-3, Blade-2, Heavy Weapons-1, Jack-o-T-1, Recon-1, SMG-1, Tactics-1, Admin-0, Air Raft-0, Brawling-0, Electronics-0, Gambling-0, Gunnery-0, Mechanical-0, Medic-0, Streetwise-0, VaccSuit-0

Staff
Executive Officer Lily Marston [F] (age 28) 7BAACE
Broker-2, Carousing-1, Computer-1, Legal-1, Liaison-1, Trader-1, VaccSuit-1, GunCbt(EnergyWpns)-1, Admin-0, Brawling-0, Bribery-0, Pilot-0, Streetwise-0

First Officer Israel Auger [M] (age 22) 478999 Duty roll 11 (11+ 0 Using Leader)
Straight light red short hair brown skin
Computer-1, Pilot-0, Navigation-0, FwdObs-0, Leader-0*

Second Officer Sherrie McCray [F] (age 22) 628736 Duty roll 8 (7+1)
Short cropped black hair light colored skin
Computer-1, Carousing-1, Admin-0, Gunnery-0, Blade-0

Third Officer Francis Chen [F] (age 23) B9388B Duty roll 10 (9+ 1)
Curly medium white medium length hair brown skin
Eng-1, VaccSuit-1, Theology-1, Mechanical-1, ZeroG-0, Electronics-0

ENS (HN) Gail Jacobson [F] (age 21) 78789A Hofud Navy: 1
Frizzed medium green close cropped hair translucent skin
Admin-0, Computer-1, Electronics-0, FleetTactics-0, GunCbt-0, Liaison-0, Pilot-1, ShipTactics-1

Crewman Beinon Daniels [M] (age 28) 583573 Duty roll 12 (11 + 1)
Wavy full yellow short hair tanned skin
Mechanical-1, Vehicle(MineCrawler)-2, Leader-1, Gambling-0, Brawling-0

Tom Graves [M] (age 30) 595B47
Straight light red close cropped hair brown skin


312 former slaves


Ships
1x 1200 dTon Passenger Liner (Abandonment)
1x 1000 dTon hull (Forgotten) (1 unable to jump)
1x 800 dTon hull
2x 600 dTon hulls (1 unable to jump)
5x 400 dTon hulls
5x 200 dTon hulls (1 unable to jump)

Leitz June 19th, 2017 06:33 PM

[Iron System 208.068.1930 Fleet Time] Engineering Section, Abandonment

"Sir what should I do about the upper forward roznik valve?" The frail woman looked at Auger. "The usual 'Ask Chen.' answer?"

"Sadly, Nila, yes." Auger nodded. Fran was due here right after being relieved. He looked at the three blue marks on her cheek. "That for a boy friend?"

"Nyah, just for me." Nila gently stroked her cheek. "Beinon let's me crash in his office. Nothing happening, he's too uptight. Heard he got a look at that Hofudi chick and wigged out. It's kinda nice that way; he's a gentleman."

"He is a good man, that's for sure. You guys are doing well with fixing the ship up and I have to say he's doing more to get that done than I am."

Nila studiously poked Auger with her index finger. "You're not doing bad."

"You haven't seen Captain Aepers. Compared to him I'm a lousy officer." Auger sighed.

"Compared to a slaver you're pretty good. I'm pretty sure you're not going to cut me up and grind me into meatloaf, so that's a plus."

"Low standards, I guess. I like my meatloaf a bit plumper." Auger grinned. "Now, if you can eat some more we can talk about it."

"Plbbght!" Nila gave him a flopping stuck out tongue. "Hey, some of us were wondering about promotions and points and stuff. The Navy types talked about it and the rank structure seems different. How do we get promotion points and get promoted?"

"Well, you do well." Auger sat back. Nila looked at him expectantly. "Really, you probably know more about engineering than I do. That's why I ask questions. When you don't know I refer them to Chen, she knows more than either of us."

"You won't have any issues coming aboard as a crewman." Auger smiled. "I'm sure of that. You'll be lucky to escape now that Chen knows you were almost bonded before being captured. For you promotion points will come easily if you round out your education and fatten up a little bit. People worry about skinny engineers."

Nila flipped him off and they both laughed. They heard Chen coming down the gang way.

"If I have to compete with the likes of you it should be easy." Nila said. "How many points do you have?"

Auger looked around the engineering section. People were reading comps on how to read outputs and then putting the numbers into the logs. They were helping each other.

"Three hundred and twelve." He whispered.

Leitz June 24th, 2017 10:28 PM

[Iron System 208.069.1035 Fleet Time] Bridge, Abandonment

The hair on the back of Ben's neck registered the bridge hatch opening. Oddly, there were no steps. Gail was engaged with the helm and sensors and she had Tom on the comm as well. Their tone was serious but professional.

The small rag tag fleet was coming together in a semblance of a formation. Stores were refreshed, crews were fed. SCN and HN were separated by ship, except on the Abandonment, and they would be returning home as soon as the ships were docked in Wardn space. A 400 dTon HN patrol cruiser was trailing the fleet and would make the jump with them.

"You say it." A voice whispered from behind Ben. "You're senior."

A cough. "Uh, sir. Permission to enter the bridge?"

Ben knew the voices. He wasn't sure why they were on the bridge and not on the planet.

The captain's chair turned smoothly. Someone had worked on it. Sub Ensign Christian and Ensign Candidate Christian straightened as Ben's gaze fell on them. Both were in full dress whites. Their posture showed formal recognition while their eyes comm'd hopeful anticipation.

"Enter, and welcome. Both of you. Orders?"

James handed over the computer pad. "Sir, the Fleet Commandant felt that it would be useful to have first hand knowledge of space travel for academic reasons. Our orders, subject to your approval, are to accompany your fleet to Wardn, gather relevant data as requested by several Haearn organizations, and return shortly."

"We pestered her to death." Klessia said.

"My sister pestered, sir. I merely laid out the obvious benefits." James said stiffly. "Subject to your approval, there are several others who request transport. Names and affiliations on on the orders. Should you decline we are to leave your ship on the next supply run, which will be the last before you jump. As we understand it."

"A body can only bear the obvious benefits so many times. Please?" Klessia stepped forward. "Sir."

"Sir." Gail's voice rang out. Ben knew that tone from the parade field. It was meant to get attention. Ben turned back. He was being addressed by a naval officer.

"The Vengeance reported sensor anomalies half an hour ago. Commander Graves and I have reviewed the data and we believe there is a small squadron of ships approaching under low power and sensor jamming. I have provided a rearrangement of our fleet to maximize offensive capability with what we have."

"Estimate contact in forty five minutes. The Baroness Anseala is five hours and twenty seven minutes abaft of our position. Commander Graves believes the ships will seek to cause maximum damage and then jump before the cruiser arrives."

"What are your orders?"

Leitz August 4th, 2017 08:28 PM

“I’m dead, you know.” Wanda wheezed.

The dark room’s natural cave walls held the occasional seeping water glisten from the three patches of luminescent moss. One stick of loulask scented twist, as is tradition for the dead, burned at the foot of the woven kelp Wanda laid upon.

“Nonsense, my arthritis still hurts and I can still here you yapping.” Myrta said. “Besides, the doctor here is already spooked enough about the trappings you call a home. Let him finish his scans and give you a shot or whatever. Then we can go back to arguing and I can throttle you without witnesses.”

“Do your worst, sir.” Wanda said.

The man drew a little blood and analyzed it. The med stick mixed up some juice and he looked at her. She nodded.

“WAAUUGGGHHHHH!!!!” Wanda screamed as he injected the mix. The med pen fell on the ground as he tried to control her.

“Just kidding.” Wanda laid back and giggled. “Myrta here it too somber and has no reverence for the dying.”

The med tech picked up his pen and muttered something as he left.

“That was mean. Funny, but mean. He’s trying to help.” Myrta said. She was grinning.

“I know. I actually feel better already. Not sure if it was the meds or the look in his eyes.”

“Potent mix. So, what did you want to talk about?” Myrta sat on the couch as Wanda scooted back up the bed.

“Jimmie must win and I must die.” Wanda said. “Not the best of news for you, at least the first bit.”

“Raeder means nothing to me!” Myrta said.

“And your son?”

“Leave him...” Myrta shook her head. “How did you know?”

“It’s my job to know, isn’t it?” Wanda’s voice softened. “The woman, Pat, has served as Mauten’s mother. Yet she does not say she is such. Mauten is getting big enough to wonder.”

“Is he well?” Myrta whispered.

“He is the apple of his father’s eye. A bit spoiled, but healthy.”

“He must hate me.” Myrta shook her head. “I can’t go back. He doesn’t even know me.”

“When you die his father will attend your funeral. He will explain to your son who you were.” Wanda’s eyes drilled into Myrta. “Perhaps you should give him a chance to find out for himself?”

“You said you must die?”

“Nice to know my death takes your mind off Jimmie’s political victory.” Wanda smiled. “That’s a high compliment.”

Her fingers intertwined with the weave of her mat. “I will be needed elsewhere. It frightens me.”

“Where? With Jimmie?”

“Far away from the planet. A need will arise yet I have no way of knowing if I can help. I must go, assuming some troubled Captain doesn’t throttle me first.”

Myrta shrugged. “You’ve been on my ships before. Space ships seem much the same from a passenger’s view.

“Your ships are surrounded by Ocean. In space there is no one to speak to me, to guide or comfort.” Wanda’s voice broke. “I’ve never been away from Ocean.”

Leitz August 5th, 2017 10:16 AM

Yobler’s thumb stroked the safety off the sleek side of the sub pistol. He looked at T3RFG8. FG8 was slave starved thin and shallow skinned.

The men sat on opposite sides of Yobler’s desk. Desk, in that it had his few office things on it. Supported by soldered struts and consisting of a sheared panel from some part of some long forgotten prize. He really needed to clean the thing. He really needed to file down that sharp edge so it didn’t keep cutting the thigh of his coveralls.

He really didn’t see why it mattered any more. The gun’s muzzle sort of pointed towards the slave across the desk. Even with just one light still working and piles of junk laying around there was no doubt in Yobler’s mind that he could shoot and kill the slave.

It didn’t matter; they were both dead. The slave just didn’t want to admit it yet.

“You have a choice to make, Captain.” The slave said quietly. “Shoot me now and be done with it. In a few days, two weeks at the most, you’ll be dead like the rest of us. Or join us.”

The slave spoke earnestly. He had made it past several defenses Yobler had put up when they lost comms with the high station days ago. Yobler had watched the last vid transmission end abruptly. Prather was blubbering about some military ship and then she was gone.

Low station, or “The Dump”, as Yobler called home, was deep within the gas giant’s toxic atmosphere. Some genius had figured out how to turn an old eight hundred ton hulk into a siphon that compressed gas into shipping containers. High station would drone them down in linked groups and The Dump would stuff them full of gas and then use an electromagnetic launch to shoot them back at high station. There the gas would be drained, partially refined, put into clean containers, and then shot out to the refuel depo.

T3RFG8 was good at collecting the containers and even better at shooting them back at high station. Once Prather had demanded FG8 be killed as the slave had accidentally hit her personal shuttle with one of the containers. Yobler had promised to do so and promptly given FG8 a crew’s food portion. Prather was a self-righteous blowhard that lorded it over Yobler. That had lorded it over him; sensors weren’t picking up any trace of high station.

“Don’t do it.” FG8 looked at Yobler.

“Why not? Faster. For me, anyway.” A faint smile. “I don’t suppose I have any loyal crew left, do I?”

“You never had loyal crew.” FG8 replied. “Karp and Schaeng have paid for their crimes. The five of us have a plan. It might work.” FG8 said.

“Your plan needs food and time. Hopewell can probably rig up something for distilling water and regenerating a breathable mix. However, the ponics barely work as is. You’d be better off trying to last with five than with six. Either way there’s little chance of someone sensing The Dump as deep as we are. Whoever did whatever topside probably assumed Prather was the main operation.”

“You’re right, it’s a slow lingering death to wait.” FG8 said. He smiled sadly. “Hopewell already has the distiller running. Now he thinks there’s a way to fix two of the maneuver plates and gain a little elevation. We’re not trying to survive, we’re going to escape.”

Yobler gaped. “Those plates haven’t worked since before either of us was born!”

“I’ve got two kids that should have a dad and a wife I don’t deserve.” FG8 said. “There’s very little chance we’ll make it but I’m not about to die knowing I didn’t do my utmost as a father and a husband.”

The muzzle of the gun waivered.

“You weren’t as bad as you could have been.” FG8 said quietly. “Once you were a good man. That part of you is still there. You have skills we could use.”

“I’d be spaced after the first day of a trial.”

“Absent system government planetary law has effect. The five of us have agreed to speak for you if we live and if whoever is out there is willing to listen.”

Yobler sighed. The muzzle didn’t waiver as it found its way back to his head. A last look at FG8 and then Yobler closed his eyes.

The muzzle shook for several long seconds and then stood still. A loud click as the safety was reset.

“I’ve nothing to live for. Nothing.” Yobler gasped. He lowered the gun and extended it butt first. “Captain’s model. My one treasure.”

“What are your orders, Captain?”

atpollard August 9th, 2017 10:14 PM

[Iron System 208.068.1926 Fleet Time]
Quote:

Originally Posted by Leitz (Post 567852)
"Captain on the Bridge. Sir, SLT Auger has Engineering, SLT McCray is off-duty after a long string of doubles. The reports are in your comms with urgent items flagged."

"Thank you Chen. It looks like both your Theology and Engineering training has paid off. The transformation aboard this ship is nothing short of a miracle." Ben smiled, "And I am not ONLY talking about the hardware. I'm sure you have more important things to do than babysit the bridge. So the Captain has the bridge and you are free to do whatever you feel appropriate. At this point, I trust your knowledge of the day to day operations more than my own."

As Ben sat in the Captain's Chair, a strange mixture of personal feelings swept over him. Up to this point, he had been able to focus on the next imminent crisis. This made 'Captain Webb' something that he knew as an intellectual fact in the back of his mind, but not something that 'felt' like reality. Sitting in that Chair and staring at those reports, reality had finally overtaken Ben. Ben was the Captain of the Abandonment. The safety and operation of this ship was his responsibility. The lives of all of these people were his responsibility. It was exhilarating and overwhelming and terrifying all at the same time.

Ben was aware of another feeling. One he had never, ever expected to feel on a ship. Ben felt like he belonged on that ship and in that chair. It wasn't the cabin in the woods that Ben dreamed of, but it felt like he was where he should be in spite of that.

'What the hell am I going to do about all those slaves?' Ben thought to himself for about the hundredth time. Ben knew his general plan: he had enough food to feed them right now, they were on their way to Wardn to live as free men, and they had the beginning of a plan to carve a new home out of the ruins of Trevile. There were a hundred things that could go wrong and everyone would look to Ben for the answers. For the first time, Ben had a idea of what Angelo's people were for.


[Iron System 208.068.1931 Fleet Time]

He turned off his display and closed his eyes for a moment. Ben thought about the Pirate Captains he had served under. The memories of their faces, etched with lines. They never seemed to smile. Ben wondered if this was how they felt. Was it days and nights spent worrying about how you were going to pay the bills and take care of everyone depending on you, that carved those lines and frowns into their faces. "These people really deserve a better Captain than me" he thought. "They deserve someone who knows what they're doing. How to run a ship. How to run a business. How to be a leader." He rubbed the bridge of his nose, "Instead they got stuck with me." Ben opened his eyes and saw his crew all hard at work at their stations. Ben thought about the transformation within this ship ... within this crew. Pity party's over. They still need me to be a captain.
Spoiler:

Captain Benjamin 'Ben' Webb [M] (age 30) - [797874] - [PAJL Marine/Consort]: Rifle-3, Blade-2, Heavy Weapons-1, Jack-o-T-1, Recon-1, SMG-1, Tactics-1, Admin-0, Air Raft-0, Brawling-0, Electronics-0, Gambling-0, Gunnery-0, Mechanical-0, Medic-0, Streetwise-0, VaccSuit-0 ... (ex-Army Major, ex-Pirate) ... [ESTP] Promoter



[Iron System 208.069.1040 Fleet Time] Bridge, Abandonment

Quote:

Originally Posted by Leitz (Post 568283)
"What are your orders?"

"Let's go hunting." Ben replied with a predatory smile. "Gail, make 'em count."

Ben swung the chair towards the Toppers "Grab a turret, Christian, and protect our people from incoming missiles."

"Gail. Tom. Can we launch multiple volleys timed for simultaneous time on target as an overwhelming volley on the targets? Can that be coordinated with Baroness Anseala to improve final targeting?"

"Communications, advise the fleet that the hunted are about to become the hunters."

Spoiler:
  • Lt Benjamin 'Ben' Webb [M] (age 30) - [797874] - [PAJL Marine/Consort]:
  • Lily Marston (LT Lillian Oalu) [F] (age 28) - [7BAACE] - [Socialite/Merchant/Navy]:
  • ENS Gail Jacobson [F] (age 21) - [78789A] - [Hofud Navy]:

Leitz August 10th, 2017 08:13 AM

[Iron System 208.069.1045 Fleet Time] Bridge, Abandonment

Ben had pushed hard to get the slaves to Wardn. Available food, plenty of space. They could take back a section of Treville just by presence alone. Food costs were easy and shelter was as close as the nearest abandoned building. It would be rough for a while but they could scrape by.

He knew what the pirates had done. They had sat on passive scans out near the likely jump points. The liberated ships would have questionable crews and would head for a known jump point. The pirates were gathering data for Francesca, of course. That meant several things. Smaller ships, longer time in the ship. Doubtful they were well armed or numerous; she would have wanted data and a chance to slap Ben, Angelo, and Refugio all at once. The liberated ships were near the jump distance and the pirates coming from One-Fifteen. The HN Cruiser Baroness Anseala was at Two Fifty. The pirates probably had faster maneuver and planned on one strafing run before hitting the jump point. They would hide their destinations. They wanted to hurt Ben but not be hurt.

All eyes were on Ben. He could hear people breathing. He smiled; those were deep breaths of preparation. Not of fear. Not panic.

Gail's eyes had been on him. Waiting. She licked her bottom lip. In the HN she had been a slow riser to a middle game who would sit at a desk and sign forms until she retired. Whatever his decision, she would support it; she couldn't do otherwise. But her preference was clear.

"Let's go hunting." Ben replied with a predatory smile. "Gail, make 'em count."

Ben swung the chair towards the Toppers "Grab a turret, Christian, and protect our people from incoming missiles."

"Sir. I am rated on basic missile weapons systems. Ensign Candidate Klessia Christian is rated on Sensor Operations. You have an empty Sensor Ops chair. Sir." Sub Ensign James Christian raised his chin. "Sub Ensign Derek Parker is rated on power generation systems and he is currently helping unload gear."

Chen had stopped at the hatch. "Sir, we have one missile rack, one particle, and two pulse lasers operational. I can find people to fill the other seats."

Ben glanced at Gail's tactical solution. Maybe Brianna could have done it faster and better. Ben saw the obvious; Gail had put the best weapons and hulls forward. All those credits pirates had spent upgrading their weapons were a gift to Ben at this moment. They would lose time if the fleet maneuvered to match Gail's plan. They would lose lives if they didn't.

The HN, like the SCN, had really good targeting missiles. Ben had crawled over enough tubes to understand how they worked. The Baroness Anseala could fire now and target post launch. Or they could give the Abandonment control.

One of the former slaves pushed his hand down to make it quit shaking. He focused on the OPMAN; do what needed to be done the way it needed to be done. He had adrenaline coursing through his system but he still had control.

Klessia moved to the Sensor Ops chair and strapped in. Her hands started finding their position and she paused. Her eyes locked with the former slave to her left, her teeth bared. "These b******s stole my father and killed my friend."

Forty two minutes. Time to turn and bring weapons on-line. Active scans once the turns had been made and first fire to Ben. Probably a second shot while the pirates brought their own weapons on-line and reevaluated their failed plan. By that time the HN missiles would be tracking open targets.

"They do not know our weapon systems status and we can make the initial turns to seem like a pre-jump maneuver." Gail said. She glanced at James. "Timed impact is possible but more difficult. Recommend familiarization during fleet maneuvers and then opportunity fire, sir."

atpollard August 11th, 2017 02:39 PM

[Iron System 208.069.1050 Fleet Time] Bridge, Abandonment

Quote:

Originally Posted by Leitz (Post 571265)
"They do not know our weapon systems status and we can make the initial turns to seem like a pre-jump maneuver." Gail said. She glanced at James. "Timed impact is possible but more difficult. Recommend familiarization during fleet maneuvers and then opportunity fire, sir."

"OK. Your the Navy puke. We'll do it your way." Ben smiled "Remember I like to just grab an unused torpedo and attack the ship in Battledress. Opportunity fire it is."

Spoiler:
  • Captain Benjamin 'Ben' Webb [M] (age 30) - [797874] - [PAJL Marine/Consort]:
  • XO Lily Marston [F] (age 28) - [7BAACE] - [Socialite, SCN, Merchant]:
  • Ensign Gail Jacobson [F] [78789A] (age 21) - [Hofud Navy]:

Leitz August 11th, 2017 02:54 PM

"Aye Captain, I think you're right." Helm looked at his screen. "Too early. Too methodical."

Captain Marnie Stephens looked at the readout. The target fleet had been moving into pre-jump formation. She couldn't force herself to think of them as enemy. It made sense as most of the crews were probably untrained slaves or naval staff from totally different ships and different bridge systems.

Yet it felt a bit too soon. Marnie trusted the gut that had kept her alive for three decades in space. She had worked herself, through brains, charm, and the occasional slit throat, from property to crew. And now to Captain with a small fleet of her own.

A well equipped and very well paid fleet. Even if the mission was unsavory it would pay for time in system and several refits they needed. They had spent a couple extra weeks hidden. How the client had known what would happen was beyond Marnie. Why the client would pay that well for what was obviously spite was also not her concern. Her crews had kept distant from the others and maintained a mostly unsullied reputation even when they did hit rockside for a break.

"Comms, notify the fleet on silent channel. Prepare--"

Marnie jumped at the klaxon as the lights automatically went red.

"Active targeting on us. Detecting hot weapons and multiple missile launches." Sensors said. Her voice was rhythmic and unemotional. Marnie had her a lot worse come out of the same mouth with the same tone.

"All ships light up and engage." Marnie said into her ship to ship comm. A button. "Engineering, full power! Sally, I need--"

A scream came over the comm before Marnie silenced the comm. Everyone on the bridge froze as the Agrassian's hull shook.

"Evasive maneuvers. Damage Report." She said. "Weapon status. Sensor report."

"Multiple significant hull hits. Minor damage in engineering and fuel. Loss of one turret. And..." Number One looked pale. "Multiple radiation hits, Captain."

"Weapons fully on-line in four point two minutes, Captain. Power shunts being undone. Missiles being armed."

"Incoming missiles, Captain. If they are of local manufacture then half chance they are nuclear." Sensors said. "Ma'am, Golanatha and Tirannon report significant physical and radiation damage. Others preparing to engage with minimal or no damage. Hold please."

Sensor's hands danced. "A second salvo of missiles is being launched. "

The crew looked at their various screens and said nothing. Most had spent years with Marnie and a few had known her far longer. They fought well, they picked good contracts, and they planned ahead.

Marnie's gut wrenched. This plan hadn't worked. Had Sally survived? Should Marnie have kept her on a different ship? Who else was dead now or likely to die in the very short term? Who would die from radiation? What were the odds?

Marnie's gut told her the math was dead on.

"Weapons; lasers only, point defense only. Helm, interpose us between the two fleets. Comms..." Marnie looked at her friend. "Strike colors. Notify the other ships we will interpose if they choose to escape."

"Ma'am. First missile salvo ineffective. Unable to determine warhead signature. Second round incoming." Sensors said.

"Ma'am..." Comms bit her lip. "All other ships striking colors, reducing weapons to defense only. Holding position and awaiting orders."

"Thank you, Comms." Marnie said quietly. She activated the option Comms had provided.

"This is Captain Marnie Stephens of the Agrassian and attendant fleet. We surrender and request medical aid."


[Iron System 208.069.1100 Fleet Time] Bridge, Abandonment

"Sir, enemy fleet has struck colors." Ensign Candidate Christian said. The disgust was clear in her voice. "They have opened a comm channel and wish to surrender."

Ben saw the readout. Half a dozen sleek ships holding formation. The first round of missiles had missed but the second was enroute.

"Sir, confirm their weapons are set for point defense only. Missile launchers detected but inactive." Gail said.


Spoiler:

Captain Marnie Stephens 9A3A96 [F] Age 44


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