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 Post subject: The Rebellious Three
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:49 am 
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This is a continuation of the events in The Systems Three. Because this is a sequel, reading the first is recommended, but not required. I like to think that because of the way this was written and how the first one ends, you can get away without it. Either that or I'm not as clever as I think (which, seriously, is more likely) and you should probably read it anyway :wink: . But if you don't, you will miss out on a few moments here and there. Now, without wanting to delay any further, I hope you enjoy!
__________________________________________


The Rebellious Three

Part 1


Aerater planetary surface, rebel base, Citadel outskirts

Rex sat down in a hidden room under the forest floor and tweaked the radio, searching for any available broadcasts. Several days had passed since the communications relay was destroyed, and looking up, its wreckage was still visible through the planet’s atmosphere. GalCop hastily formed a blockade to ensure the area’s safety, and when they were satisfied, they warped a backup relay into the system. It was nowhere near as powerful as the original, but it was able to re-establish communications between the nearby systems.

Once he heard that the relay became operational, Rex immediately left to listen for any news. He never heard from David Redman, Lieutenant Taylor, or his team after he sent them up to the relay to search for information, but judging by the massive ruins that drifted above, he no longer expected to. Still, he wanted to know what happened. How far did they get? Did they succeed? Did they get the data? No moves were made against Tara Harmon, Aerater’s self-proclaimed ruler, so Rex was worried. After all, this was the whole point of finding that file, which may or may not even exist.

The radio began squawking as he passed a station and he adjusted the frequency to listen. It was a news report, being broadcasted from Tioranin.

“Breaking news: the manhunt for galactic terrorist David Redman is over. The former leader of Atbevete was shot down in the Tioranin system, and investigators have just confirmed that his remains were recovered from the wreckage. Redman was a rising political figure and was extremely popular with citizens from multiple systems, notably the people of Tioranin, Atbevete, Teraed, Rigeti and Aerater. He was recognized for his significant accomplishments towards galactic peace and safety, however, due to his recent actions, the systems announced that they feel much safer with him gone. For those of you unfamiliar with his anarchistic acts, he was responsible for the murder of two GalCop officers and two personal bodyguards, the attempted assassination of Aerater leader Tara Harmon, theft of a Cobra Mk I, collaborating with rebels and bombing a communications relay which claimed numerous innocent lives.

“His accomplice, ex-lieutenant Taylor, received a formal burial today, despite the fact that nobody was able to provide any evidence of her death. The disgraced officer was corrupted by Mr. Redman and she helped him throughout his terrifying rampage. She assisted his escape from GalCop custody, where she assaulted her fellow officers and civilians in the process, then arrived at Aerater where she disappeared. Citizens were in shock by the funeral, a vocal majority displaying outrage to the service and delivering verbal abuse to its organizers. A GalCop representative stated: ‘Anybody, anybody who served as a part of GalCop is entitled to a proper burial, no matter the circumstances.’ A citizen responded with: ‘I don’t care who she was, what she did was atrocious. Anyone who did what she did doesn’t deserve it, and the fact that she got one anyways, disgusts me.’ The grave has already been vandalized, and while GalCop is looking for possible suspects, the officer we interviewed admits it’s not a very high priority case.”

The reporter paused, switched to another piece of news, and continued.

“In related news, tensions are rising in space above Aerater and Rigeti. Hate attacks against GalCop have reached a breaking point, and forces have been ordered to withdraw from the systems and retreat to Tioranin. Tioranin’s leader, Jeremy Ross, issued the command, believing that due to the actions of Redman, that a retreat is the only way to prevent a war between the three systems, and that GalCop presence there would have to be suspended indefinitely. The first ships have already reached Tioranin, and are preparing to increase the system’s defenses if an attack does arrive.”

Rex switched off the radio, shaking his head. This was all wrong. Somehow, Tara found out what they were doing and managed to dodge the situation, even throwing all the blame at David. With renewed determination, he stood to leave, resolving to find another way to take her down.

***

Rigeti, system space

The bridge was bustling with activity as crew ran from station to station, checking readouts and yelling to each other as they relayed information. Alert lights slowly pulsed in the operators’ faces and repeatedly basked the area in a deep red glow. Past the giant windshield, ships darted around in a deadly dance and laser fire streaked by in a spectacular lightshow. There was never a lull in the battle, and the chatter continued in a steady crescendo.

“Additional bogeys, ten plus hostiles approaching at two o’clock!”

“Diverting formations Charlie three and five to engage.”

“Negative, Charlie three and five are covering the left flank.”

“Bravo two, four and five have been confirmed KIA.”

“Alpha three and Charlie one are taking heavy casualties, merging formations under call sign Alpha three.”

“Front flank collapsing!”

“Scrambling formations Bravo two and three to reinforce front flank.”

The captain spoke into the emergency GalCop channel. “Mayday, mayday, this is GalCop behemoth Steel Jury, we’re taking fire and are suffering heavy casualties, need immediate support, over.”

The reply came mere seconds later. “Steel Jury, this is Aerater blockade command, responding to your mayday call.”

The captain breathed a sigh of relief. “We’re under attack in the Rigeti system, pirates and rebels have us surrounded. Send backup.”

“Negative, Steel Jury. Rigeti and Aerater have orders for a full, system-wide retreat. No distress calls will be attended to. Fall back to Tioranin, we’re regrouping there.” They ended communications.

“I don’t believe this.” muttered the captain. He spoke with authority as he addressed the bridge. “Scramble all remaining formations! We’re not losing to any lawless scum.”

At his command, dozens of GalCop Vipers burst out of the hangar and quickly jumped into the fray. The pilots formed a defensive bubble around the behemoth, engaging countless enemy ships as they did their best to hold them back. The behemoth’s gunners fired the ship’s broadside cannons at the swarm of enemies and picked off lone fighters trying to slip around the dogfights. With their combined effort, they were able to repel the hostile ships, but the Vipers were steadily being pushed back.

“There’s too many! They’re slipping past our fighters!”

“Blast them with our cannons!” ordered the captain, as if the words would magically perfect the gunners’ aim.

“They’re too close, we can’t get a good shot.” a crew member gasped in between coordinating the cannon operators.

“They’ve entered the hangar! We’re being boarded!”

“Get security teams to lock it down. Now!” said the captain. “I want those bastards off my ship.”

Squads of troops sprang into action as they marched towards the hangar, ‘Enforcer’-style weapons in hand. They ran straight into the cluster of pirates and rebels that poured out of the hangar, and a firefight swiftly broke out between the two groups. The ship’s hallways were blackened by gunfire, and the troops stuck to the walls to hide behind what little cover was available. Combatants from both sides began to fall.

While the crew of the Steel Jury was focused on repelling their invaders, the fight in space slipped to the back of their minds. Vipers were hounded by dozens of enemy ships each, and one by one they exploded into clouds of fire and scrap metal. With the Vipers’ numbers rapidly declining, more hostile ships entered the cramped hangar and their pilots quickly joined the ranks of their fellow resistance fighters.

The captain knew the battle outside was lost, and now they needed to fight to keep the ship out of pirate hands. Gunfire, shouts and battle chatter echoed to the bridge, and it was slowly getting louder with every passing moment.

“Defensive positions!” said the captain, while he reached for a nearby Enforcer shotgun.

The crew left their consoles and took up whatever arms were on the bridge. They passed around a limited arsenal of pistols and a couple submachine guns, but the majority of the crew were left with nothing, and were forced to hide as far away from the door as possible. The noises outside stopped and a heavy silence fell over the room. The crew kept their weapons aimed at the entrance, hovering nervously as they braced for whatever might charge through.

Suddenly the mob surged through into the bridge. The first few were instantly gunned down by the anxious crew as they unleashed an uncontrolled wave of rounds, but the boarders recovered quickly and returned fire in response. The unqualified crew members were no match for their combat-seasoned attackers, and they were rapidly dispatched with ruthless ease. But the captain wasn’t done yet.

He flicked his shotgun to lethal, took aim at his opponents and squeezed the trigger. He released a spray of rounds at the densely packed group of enemies and a chunk of them fell. The captain fired another blast at the oncoming crowd but they kept their distance, concentrating on the captain to prevent him from firing at them again. He ducked behind a station in the middle of the bridge to shelter himself from the blasts, and pointed the shotgun blindly towards the entrance of the bridge. He felt a flicker of satisfaction when he heard several cries of pain as shots hit their mark.

The rebels and pirates split themselves into two groups, attacking the captain by approaching the sides of the console. He saw one group and fired another blast, but was unaware of the others behind him until they began firing at his exposed back. His body slumped to the floor, the life long gone as the invaders swept the rest of the bridge and ship to clean out any remaining resistance. Once they were finished, they let out cheers of victory and celebration as they stood in their newly claimed prize.

***

Aerater planetary surface, rebel base, Citadel outskirts

Fire.

That was the first thing Jacob Moreno smelled as he walked out from the underground room. Ash, smoke and gunfire was heavy in the air and their scent hung over the forest, completely overpowering the natural odour of the woods. The trees glowed an ominous orange as flames licked their way upwards, and the smoke that bellowed out produced a grey smog that descended on the clearing. The flames crackled loudly as the forest combusted, and some of the trees collapsed when their trunks were burned away. People, shouting and screaming, pushed past him as they attempted to flee towards safety.

Gunshots pierced through the commotion, the noise punctuating through the air in a furious staccato. Jacob heard engines wail as ships, shrouded through the dense treetops, streaked towards the base then flew away. Moments after they passed, explosions erupted around the clearing as their payloads impacted on the surface and left fresh craters in their wake. Rebels were posted in defensive positions around the ridge of the field, lying prone as they fired into the smoke at advancing attackers. Jacob’s hands gripped the Renegade rifle slung around his shoulder and ran towards the perimeter. He approached a rebel with binoculars and a radio who was directing the nearby troops.

“What’s going on?”

“We’re under attack!” replied the rebel.

“No shit.”

“It’s Tara Harmon. Her forces have us surrounded. They just came out of nowhere and started attacking, from the ground and the air.”

“How’d they find us?”

The rebel shrugged. “Your guess is as good as mine. But they’re hammering us hard, and I think we need to evacuate.”

Jacob looked around. The rebels were working in their own little groups and trying their best to defend the base, but they were scattered and uncoordinated.

“Where’s Rex?” he asked.

“Don’t know. Nobody’s seen him since before the attack.”

“We won’t last long if we’re fighting like this. I’ll find him. You try to rally the others, get them to organize our defences.”

The rebel nodded and they parted ways. Jacob ran into the ruins, looking for Rex. He checked the seemingly abandoned structures, the lifeless bodies on the ground and weaved through the fleeing people, checking their faces too. He didn’t see Rex until they almost ran into each other.

“Rex! Where’ve you been?” Jacob demanded.

“I’ve been listening to broadcasts.” he stated.

Jacob was taken aback by his response. He didn’t expected that for an answer. “Look, we need you here. This is important.”

“I know.” said Rex. “Something’s gone wrong. There’s more going on than what Redman and Taylor knew.”

“What? The politician and the GalCopper? I wasn’t talking about them! No, look around: we’re under attack!”

“Listen,” said Rex, ignoring him, “after they left us, they went up to the relay, but escaped the explosion. I know because Redman’s body was recovered in the Tioranin system. I’m assuming they found the data and left to bring Harmon to justice, but something went wrong, and now Taylor’s missing and Redman was killed. It should’ve been simple: deliver the data and take Harmon down. That didn’t happen, so this has to be more complex than we thought.”

A thought hit Jacob. “Do you know what this means? That’s how she found out where we were. Redman and Taylor led her right to us! They weren’t on the run from her, they were working with her. She must have killed them to cover up her tracks and made sure they kept quiet.”

“I need to find out more. I need to get that data.” said Rex absently.

“Rex, wake up. We’re under attack!” Jacob repeated. “We need to buy ourselves some time so we can load up the evac ships.”

An explosion detonated nearby and the ground beneath them rumbled.

“No, I need to go. I have to get to the bottom of this. Keep them off me.”

Jacob was stunned. “What? You’re just going to go? Leave us behind?”

“I have to. This is bigger than any of us.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Call it a gut feeling.” and then he was gone, disappearing behind the mass of people and the ongoing battle before Jacob could reply.

Jacob cursed at nobody in particular, and ran back to the rebel to tell him what was happening. Approaching the perimeter, he found the rebel lying on the ground, blackened and singed next to a fresh crater. Jacob cursed again, then quickly checked to see how the other rebels were doing. They were losing ground and Tara’s forces were starting to spill over the ridge and into the clearing. The overhead foliage was gone, and the bombers were given a clear line of sight at the rebel encampment. The dropped their ordinance with devastating accuracy, wiping out groups of armed and unarmed rebels.

Jacob raised the rifle and joined his fellow rebels in battle. They picked off the approaching enemy soldiers while they formed a defensive circle, but were slowly retreating towards the centre of the field. Each step back meant one less to manoeuver, and soon enough, they were practically standing shoulder to shoulder. Tara’s forces were close and the bombers stopped their attack, careful to avoid risking friendly fire. The flames still surrounded the clearing, and to the desperate rebels, the oncoming soldiers, dressed in ragged cloth and menacing battle-worn armour, looked like they were sent from the depths of hell.

Jacob snapped from target to target, determined to take down as many as he could before they got him. Adrenaline surged through his veins, fueling him, and his actions were governed by instinct. Take aim, pull the trigger, kill the enemy, move to the next. Aim, pull, kill, next. Aim, pull, kill, next.

A shot intended for an adjacent rebel tore through Jacob’s gun and slammed into his shoulder. The weapon exploded in his hands and shrapnel from the rifle and the incoming bolt burrowed into his flesh. The impact lifted him off his feet and spun him around like a top before he collapsed to the ground in agony. His shoulder felt like it was on fire. The pain was searing and pulsating, and it clamped his brain, his thoughts, his mind, drowning out everything.

There were only a dozen rebels left. Rounds whizzed by and rebels were knocked down within seconds of the other. There was no way they could fight their way out. Like dominoes they fell, lifeless to the floor, until there was only one left standing. He was spouting taunts and bravado between bursts of gunfire as the enemy inched closer.

“Come on! Is that all you’ve got!? Bring it! I can do this all day. Come on you bastards! I’ll never back down!”

A shot buried itself in his gut, silencing him and he collapsed to the ground. With nobody left to fight, Tara’s forces spread out through the clearing. The place was suddenly very quiet except for the crackling of fire and the crunching of boots on the forest floor.

Jacob heard a soft moan and ragged breathing. He turned to the source and saw the rebel not dead but injured, and was shifting in pain. In his peripherals, he saw soldiers approaching towards the noise as well.

“Hey.” He hissed as softly as possible. The rebel turned to look. Don’t move. Play dead. Jacob mouthed. Neither of them budged.

The soldiers were right next to them and were examining the bodies. They were methodical, checking each one and gave the face-down corpses a strong kick to flip them over. Soldiers were approaching both the rebel and Jacob and he tried his best too act dead. His body went limp and his eyes gazed blankly into the distance. The rebel tried too, but was unable to keep up the façade. He convulsed as a wave of pain radiated from his stomach.

A nearby soldier instantly turned his weapon on the rebel. His eyes stared at Jacob, widening in panic and he opened his mouth to scream or shout. Before he could do either, the soldier jammed the barrel of his gun into the side of the rebel’s head and fired. His eyes rolled back and his jaw went slack while blood and bone sprayed out of the wound.

Jacob couldn’t do anything. He didn’t dare. The soldiers were only an arm’s length away and he had to keep pretending. He’d been staring at the rebel and was sprawled on the ground motionless, and so he was forced to watch the whole execution. He forced his eyelids open and kept staring while he witnessed the rebel’s life be violently extinguished.

The rest was a blur. The soldiers finished their check and scavenged whatever resources they found at the base to bolster their own arsenal. When they were gone, Jacob picked himself off the ground and roughly made a sling for his wounded arm. He stumbled out of the forest, passing three of the four Asps the rebels had, now in flaming ruins, and he absently made the connection that Rex must’ve taken one to leave.

He wandered off into the wasteland, images from the raid the only thing keeping him company.


Last edited by my ammo crate on Mon Feb 29, 2016 1:43 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Rebellious Three
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:49 am 
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Part 2

Tioranin planetary surface, Central Government Building


“God damn it!” Jeremy Ross slammed his fist against his desk another time. The skin on his knuckles tore and a guard stepped forward to begin wrapping his hand in gauze. Jeremy slumped back into his chair when he was finished and his gaze drifted towards the open drawer. Usually, it stored a ComPad, but today he opened it and discovered it was empty.

“It’s your fault.” Tara Harmon’s voice came through a speaker. “You shouldn’t’ve let Redman steal the encryption codes. You had him, but you just had to gloat. If I were there, I’d have just shot him.”

Jeremy sighed in frustration. “I’m sure you can get away with that kind of stuff in your system, but I can’t just kill someone in my office. Do you have any idea what kind of political shit-storm would start up if people found out?”

He could almost hear her shrug. “I wouldn’t know. Perks of being a dictatorship. Absolute power’s nice, and there’s no asswipes to worry about voting me out of power. Any rivals I have can be put down with a hit squad, and nobody bats an eye.” Tara bragged.

Jeremy grunted, unconvinced.

“Anyway, my message wasn’t that important,” continued Tara, “I just wanted to tell you that the coordinates your team sent me were good. My troops found the rebels and wiped them out, no problem. I don’t know why you’re so pissed about this.”

“Because,” Jeremy began to explain, “of the codes. The only reason he would’ve taken them would be if he had a copy of the data hidden somewhere. If he decoded and uploaded it, there’s no telling what kind of damage he could’ve done with the data floating around the Network for a few days. If people found out about what we’ve been up to, all of our efforts would’ve been for nothing.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“I could go up to the relay and get the file again, but I don’t want to risk it. The destruction of yours is still too fresh in people’s minds and GalCop’s watching them closely for suspicious activity. I need to stop the data from spreading more while I can think of an alternative.”

“Well then, it sounds like you still have a mess to clean up. We can keep Rigeti and Aerater in check if our people do find out, but you better watch your back. Like you said, there’s a shit-storm that might head your way.”

Tara ended the call and Jeremy began to mull over his options. He had a contingency of course, if something like this did happen. It was always best to be prepared, he thought while he opened a file. On his ComPad, he selected a contact, someone he knew was expendable.

The person replied quickly. “Hello?”

“Officer King, I have a task for you. I’m sending you instructions for a device that I want installed on the Tioranin relay.”

“Yes sir.” came the reply. There was silence as King analyzed the files that were delivered to him.

“Wait a minute, what are these for? Is this a…data censor?” King asked.

“What it is isn’t any of your concern. Install it and transmit the access codes to me.”

“Sir, data censorship is illegal, and as a GalCop officer I can’t –“

“I have evidence that can lock you up for attempted murder, or worse, you could be charged as a participant in a conspiracy if this isn’t done. I gave you an order King, so I recommend you do it. Don’t question me again.”

“Yes sir.” King left and reluctantly began to assemble the device.

Jeremy did a thorough GalNet search and found the file he was looking for. It was easy to find now that he knew it existed, and when he did, he let out a sigh. Even after death, David never ceased to disappoint. By looking at the title, he could tell that barely an effort was made to change it, and it was still vague about its contents. Fortunately for Jeremy, this meant that even though it was spreading, it was taking a long time. He copied the link and made another call.

“I have a new job for you.” he said into his ComPad. “Track down anything related to this file and destroy it. Copies, photos, articles…people. Wipe out any trace that it was ever there.”

Jeremy hung up without waiting for a reply and sat back, relaxed and satisfied as his pawns began to work from the shadows.

***

Aerater planetary surface, Tarina village, Citadel outskirts

Three weeks later


Brewer and his thugs strolled down the main street of the settlement. Tarina was a simple place, their houses little more than metal boxes erected in the middle of the wasteland. The ground was dry, loose and toxic and the lack of available food and water was taking a heavy toll on the citizens. Still, it was one of the better places to live on Aerater, and filled with people who were managing to survive, up until recently. Villagers moved out of their path when they noticed thugs approaching, and some diverted their gaze elsewhere when they accidentally made eye contact with the advancing goons.

After GalCop forces nearly tripled in the Tioranin system, countless of its lawless inhabitants were forced to flee or face the terrifying might of the new GalCop fleet. Brewer was one of the many with the common sense to leave. His gang was involved in organized crime, responsible for several murders and trafficking illegal weapons and slaves. But now, he was the head of an uprooted criminal organization who now found himself on Aerater with no resources and limited manpower. He stumbled onto this tiny town, then decided to turn the place into his organization’s new headquarters. Tarina was underprepared for this hostile takeover, and whatever fighting force the village had were either killed or absorbed into Brewer’s gang.

The group walked up to each structure and their occupants hesitantly handed over a sum of credits. When there was no reply at one of the buildings, they began harshly knocking on the door. It shook and creaked, nearly falling out of its frame.

“Open up!” demanded a thug. “Open up, or we’ll break down this door and take what you owe ourselves.”

A voice spoke from the other side of the door. “What’s this for?” it asked timidly.

“Protection fee. Pay up.” the thug replied gruffly.

“I-I already paid a couple days ago. The next payment isn’t due ‘till later.”

“Too bad. We’re stepping up our patrols, so you’d better be ready to pay. You don’t pay and we won’t be protecting, we’ll be trashing.”

A crowd was gathering outside, shifting uneasily as they watched the confrontation unfold. Brewer decided to use the situation to make an example out of this guy, and reinforce his status as their unchallenged leader.

“I don’t have any more credits. I can’t.”

Brewer walked up to the door. “Wrong answer.” he said, and gave the door a strong kick.

“No! Please!” the voice pleaded as the front wall wobbled under the pressure. Brewer reared back for another hit.

A figure, wearing tattered robes and a cheap, opaque flight helmet, shouldered through the crowd, taking strides purposefully towards the group and sneaking up from behind. With a flick of the wrist, a shock baton extended into the person’s hand and lashed out at one of the unaware goons. A downward strike at a thug’s back followed by a quick slice at the legs knocked him off his feet, the combination of force and electric current incapacitating the henchman. The figure moved on, thrusting the baton at the next thug’s chest then slashed horizontally across their face.

The remaining two thugs sprang into action and engaged their anonymous attacker. The figure dodged the first one and let the momentum carry the thug forward, stumbling to the ground. The second threw a punch that the assailant brushed aside then wrapped their arms together, intertwining in a snake-like fashion. The figure repeatedly struck the goon’s exposed stomach with the baton, followed by a swift blow to the head that dispatched the thug.

The last henchman stood up and turned to face the newcomer. He reached for his belt and unsheathed a short blade, then charged. The figure calmly drew the arm that was holding the baton back, taking careful aim. In an instant, the arm swung forward and released the baton. It spun and sailed through the air, landing on the charging thug and momentarily unleashing a surge of electricity through his body. He tripped then fell for the second time and tried to get back on his feet, despite the spasms of his muscles. Looking up, the thug was just in time to see a boot accelerating towards him. Unable to get out of the way, they connected and he almost did a complete backflip before collapsing onto the ground.

The attacker was about to pick up the shock baton when a gunshot landed near it, throwing dirt and dust into the air. Turning, they saw Brewer approaching with a Renegade heavy pistol in hand.

“Predictable.” he spat. “Yeah, I know about you. You think you’re some kind of hotshot vigilante, don’t you? Well, you’ve become a real pain in the ass. Stealing my supplies, attacking my convoys, my men…”

The vigilante said nothing.

“I’ve had enough of you. This ends right here.”

“Agreed.” growled the vigilante.

Raising an Enforcer handgun from its holster, the vigilante sidestepped into a nearby house, firing a flurry of shots. Brewer mirrored his opponent’s movements, diving into a house further down the street. He fired in the general direction of his opponent and used the high caliber of the Renegade to tear through the houses’ thin metal walls. It easily punched melon-sized holes through the material, and the vigilante ducked behind furniture, peeking through the gaps in the wall to try and pinpoint Brewer’s location. No more shots came through, but a dull, rhythmic crunching was slowly approaching.

Suddenly Brewer tore through the wall and entered the house. They saw each other simultaneously and the vigilante raised the Enforcer up to fire, while Brewer took steps closer to close the distance. He approached before the vigilante was ready and knocked the Enforcer away. With both hands free, the vigilante leapt for Brewer’s Renegade pistol and they wrestled for the sidearm. Unable to pull the gun out of Brewer’s grip, the vigilante changed his approach and brushed the weapon’s magazine release. It clattered noisily on the floor and Brewer instantly dropped the now useless piece of metal. He gripped the masked attacker by the robes and threw them at the front door.

The figure was thrown sideways at the door and it shattered from the impact. Splinters and metal bits exploded out with the body and they tumbled back onto the main street. Brewer walked out the house and towards his foe, who was writhing in pain on the ground and clutching a shoulder.

Wimp, thought Brewer as he stepped closer, I didn’t even hit you that hard.

The vigilante noticed the shock baton lying nearby and began crawling painfully towards it. Amused, Brewer passed the wounded figure and stood next to the baton, waiting patiently for the vigilante to arrive, taunting him. When his adversary was almost within arm’s reach of the baton, Brewer picked up the stick and rolled the vigilante onto his back, then dropped a foot on his opponent’s injured shoulder. The vigilante was gasping in agony, and Brewer leaned in to his opponent’s helmeted head.

“You’ve lost. I’m going to enjoy putting an end to your miserable life.”

Brewer tore the helmet off Jacob’s head and grinned when he saw the broken man’s face, twisted and contorted by pain. Jacob pounded his fists against Brewer’s crushing foot but it was no use. The pain was too much, and it kept him from putting enough force behind his blows. Brewer plunged the baton down to land the final strike, but Jacob’s hands flew out to stop it before it connected. He pushed back with all the strength he had, but it was slowly inching closer. His arms trembled as they strained from the effort, and now Jacob could see the tip sparking as it neared. It was all over, he was sure of it.

There was a soft, distant pop and a shot came streaking towards the duo. It pierced through Brewer’s head and his body rolled along the ground as it was carried by the round’s momentum, carrying the corpse off of Jacob’s battered form. Jacob, breathing heavily and skin slick with sweat from the ordeal, pulled himself up and examined the body. A neat, fat hole was drilled through Brewer’s skull, and it didn’t take a doctor to tell he was dead. Jacob scanned the landscape, looking for the shooter.

On the rooftop of one of the distant houses was the sniper, down on one knee as she checked her GalCop bounty tracker. Satisfied that her payment was delivered, she slung her rifle over her shoulder and started to leave. Jacob was absently watched her, still recovering from the fight and she caught him staring. She waved, making a friendly gesture, before dropping down from the roof and disappearing out of his sight.

***

He hated to do this. It made him squirm, shiver, and the mere thought of it made him convulse in disgust. But he knew it had to be done. Jacob took the knife and plunged in into his shoulder, tearing through skin and flesh as he made the cut. He put down the knife and dipped his hand, covered in a sterilized glove, into the incision, probing the inside of the fresh wound. He looked away and supressed his grunts behind colourful obscenities and clenched teeth. After twenty agonizing seconds, his fingers found what they were looking for, and he pulled the lump of shrapnel out from his body.

He picked up the medical supplies he bought and began applying them over the wound. He disinfected the gash and stitched it up, grimacing as the alcohol burned and the needle sharply weaved threads through his skin. Finally, he spread some sort of medical gel, which supposedly accelerated the healing process, and tightly wrapped it up under sterilized cloth. He wiped the gun fragment clean of his blood and opened a jar, dropping it into the container where it clinked against dozens of other pieces.

Jacob crawled towards a sheet on the floor and lowered his bruised and aching body on the thin mattress. He relaxed, letting his exhaustion and pain wash away and he was enveloped by a deep sleep.


Last edited by my ammo crate on Mon Feb 22, 2016 2:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Rebellious Three
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:50 am 
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Posts: 41
Part 3

When he got up, Jacob was feeling better, energized even. The drugs were working wonders, nursing his body back to health at a breakneck pace. But a dark cloud hung over his thoughts. His pool of credits was drying up, and the supplies he bought were expensive, using up the last of his reserves. After the attack on the rebel base, Jacob spent his time recovering. Under better circumstances, doctors would’ve taken every shard out in a day, prescribed some medication and he’d be back to normal in a blink of an eye. Worst case scenario he’d have to amputate, and, if the system’s tech level was high enough, have it replaced with one of those fancy cybernetic limbs. But there was no team of doctors here to fix him up. He had to rely on his own skill and some luck to crudely perform surgery on himself. It was awful, having to dig out each individual piece. He was forced to do it without anesthetic too, because that was a luxury he just couldn’t afford.

Jacob was itching to get back in action, and only had one goal in mind: kill Tara Harmon. He vowed to get revenge for his fallen brothers-in-arms, and do what nobody in the galaxy seemed able to. But in order to attack her, he needed equipment. Lots of it. Military-grade armour, rifles, ammo and explosives were just a few things on his shopping list. But things here weren’t cheap, and Tara’s guards were working hard to keep weapons out of civilian hands in this part of the planet. Maybe on the other hemisphere, these items would be easier to get a hold of, but then he’d have to travel through a massive warzone. Deciding that wasn’t worth the risk, he started from the basics. He scavenged a bounty tracker and began cleaning up the planet, one criminal at a time, slowly working his way up to better gear.

The shock baton he swiped from a small-time drug smuggler, the flight helmet was taken from a thief and he stitched together his own robes from scraps of cloth. He saved up for an Enforcer handgun which arrived, to his dismay, without any ammo, so he scavenged magazines from downed thugs and reached a sort of equilibrium, carrying enough ammo to use in a pinch, and buying a new battery for the baton every several days. He needed a big score, and when he heard about Brewer, he was certain he’d found it. Instead, someone else beat him to the punch, and he had to use whatever funds were left to patch himself up. His pistol was low on ammo too, only filled with two rounds left in the magazine and nothing else.

He sat down in front of his personal terminal, another necessary expense. It was an old thing, no holographic display and instead projected images on a clear glass screen. Normally these older models had clear glass interfaces, but this one was dusty, scratched and suffered from a massive crack along the screen. Images flickered in and out, disrupted by the fracture and Jacob tapped the glass in a half-hearted attempt to fix it.

“Come on…come on, you piece of crap. Work, dammit.” he muttered.

Suddenly the image stabilized, and Jacob began surfing the local system network for possible contracts. There were lots of thugs, low class scum he could deal with, but he was looking for bigger fish. GalCop rewards were nice, but private, contract work always paid better. The thought that he was woefully underequipped crossed his mind, but he was desperate, and needed the money to make up for the credits he blew on medical supplies.

There were plenty of targets, but very few he could actually do. Ones that were either in space and needed a ship, something Jacob didn’t have, or innocents who were getting in the way of mobsters, people Jacob didn’t want to kill. But there was one that caught his eye, it was relatively close but scarce on details. The rendezvous point was a bar in Citadel City and promised a 2000 Cr reward. Jacob didn’t have any other options and decided he’d take it. It was a gamble, but he hoped this one would finally pay off.

***

Aerater planetary surface, The Marauder, Citadel City


Jacob hadn’t expected to be here so soon. In his mind, he imagined that he’d burst through the city’s walls, guns blazing and cutting a path straight for Tara’s Citadel. Armed to the teeth, he’d cut down hundreds of her guards until he fell or managed to put a gun to Tara’s head, bringing her down with him. None of that happened, and instead he entered through the main gate and walked into the Marauder Bar without a single confrontation. The bar was dimly lit from warm lights and was full of people, like civilians who just wanted to let off some steam, criminals that scanned the bar, eyes shiftily jumping from person to person, and large groups keeping to themselves. Jacob spotted one of those groups sitting in a booth near the entrance, quietly observing the other patrons.

A person was wearing combat armour and leaning on a wall next to the entrance, staring at a ComPad and looking up now and then to watch for any new arrivals. At first glance Jacob thought she was a guard, but the armour didn’t display the same symbol as the other bouncers, and was undoubtedly concealing weapons under her plates. It was an odd place to be waiting and Jacob walked over.

“Uh, I’m here for the contract.”

“Oh, okay.” She looked up from the display, sizing him up from head to toe. “You don’t have much gear.”

“I’ll manage.” he said.

She shrugged and scrolled down on her device. “Name?”

“Jacob Moreno.” he said.

She typed quickly, recording the name on the pad.

“Eliminate your target and we’ll transfer the credits to you.” she said without looking up.

“Do you have any intel on him?”

“Your target’s name is Sam Glover.”

Jacob waited, expecting more. “That’s it? Do you have anything else?”

“They’re in this bar. Good luck.”

Jacob sighed and turned to scan the patrons. Where to start? There were too many people here and he needed a lead. He noticed someone at the counter watching him and she turned away, pretending to be busy. Jacob was surprised to find that he recognized the person and walked up to her, sitting on a nearby open seat. He’d seen her face from just a brief encounter, though it was only a recent one. In fact, they’d only seen each other the day before.

“Fancy meeting you here.” said Jacob.

An amused smile spread across her face. She didn’t look at him though, she was busy staring intently at one of the far booths.

“How’d you know where I am? Are you following me?”

“Nope, just lucky I guess. I’m here for business.” he replied.

“Ah. You didn’t happen to talk to her on your way in, did you?” she asked, gesturing at the armoured figure standing next to the entrance. Someone big, bald and burly walked up to her and she began briefing him too. Jacob realized that they were all here for the same contract.

“Aw, crap.” he muttered. “I really need these credits. Look, do you think you could stay out of this one?”

“No can do.”

“I wouldn’t be doing this if you hadn’t stolen my bounty. I had him.” he said, annoyed.

“Oh really? It didn’t look that way to me. Seemed like he was about to shock you silly, then – I don’t know – parade your dead body around like some kind of trophy. But everything worked out, didn’t it? You’re still alive, and I got my bounty. It’s a win-win.”

Jacob hunched forward, still feeling bitter as he surveyed the bar. Lone patrons, suspicious looking individuals – there was a lot of people, an overwhelming amount of suspects for a single person to go through.

“You wouldn’t happen to have a plan for this, would you?” he asked. “Some kind of special approach?”

“Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. But that’s none of your business.”

“Well, if we’re both here for the same contract and you’re not going to back off, then uh, do you…want to work together? Y’know, split the bounty?” he tried to sound hesitant, like he was struggling with the idea, but had no intentions of sharing.

“Now there’s a thought. Why work alone when I can have thug bait dragging along?”

“Hey, I can handle myself.” Jacob began.

“Riiight.” she said sarcastically.

Jacob’s hand absently went to his shoulder. “Well, you weren’t really catching me at my best. I’m not so sure about you though. Maybe you can handle a rifle, maybe you just got lucky. Can you hold your own if you have to get up close?”

“I can fight. And I know my way around a gun. I’ve got a Javelin sniper rifle, kitted with compensators and a Galactic Armaments ident scope, variable zoom. I know what I’m doing.”

Jacob nodded, impressed. It was some serious gear. “Okay, well then how ‘bout it? Should we tackle this one together?” he asked, bringing the conversation back on topic.

“Maybe. I’m thinking about it, but I don’t know much about my possible sidekick other than that he’s terrible at fistfights.” she said with a grin. “Tell me, of all the jobs in the galaxy, why pick bounty hunting? You don’t really look geared up for it. You mentioned it was for the credits, but anyone can say that. Do you hunt because you like killing, the thrill of the chase, or are you one of those deluded jackasses who think they’re doing everyone a favour by murdering criminals? What are you fighting for?”

Jacob let out a long breath. Flashes from the rebel base raid popped into his head, never really leaving him, as they occupied his thoughts for nearly a month. He hadn’t talked to anyone about it, but it was gnawing at him, and he felt he needed to say something about it. The answer was clear in his mind, but it wasn’t safe to for him to uncover his secret. Not directly and not here, not while he was in the belly of the beast.

“Well, not that long ago, I was fighting for a cause.” he began. “I didn’t need credits but I had a purpose, friends, allies, and we were working towards a common goal. But then in a flash it was all taken away.” he swallowed. “I want justice for what happened, and I want to see the person responsible pay for what they’ve done.”

“Well, don’t bore me with the details.” she said dryly.

“That’s all I want to say about it. When I’m done I can tell you more, but by then you’ll probably have it figured out.” he replied cryptically. “How about you? Why’re you bounty hunting?”

It was her turn to look serious and troubled. She didn’t start talking right away, and she seemed to struggle with formulating a sentence. “When the blockade fell, thousands of outlaws were displaced here. They forcefully set up their rule wherever they could and they used us. We were a resource, free labour and expendable. The ones you saw in Tarina, they had it easy. For the rest of us… those thugs abused us and I– I lost people I love, people I’ll never get back.” She clenched her jaw and tightened the muscles in her cheeks, giving her a determined look. “I hunt because I do myself a favour whenever I put those pirate and rebel scumbags down. And that’s all I will say about it.”

“Okay, I won’t press it.” He raised his hands, backing off from the subject. As he was secretly pursuing a rebel goal himself, he kept a mental note to avoid talking about it.

“Honestly, I’ve got not plan. I have no idea where to start.” she admitted. “I wouldn’t mind having some help with this one. You don’t seem too bad yourself, I might actually split the bounty.”

Jacob lifted the corners of his mouth in a faint smile, glad to have two minds together for this job. But, he felt a twinge of guilt due to his original, selfish intentions. He buried it quickly though, and went right back to business.

“Alright, then let’s go find this Sam Glover.”

“What the hell?!” Their conversation came to an abrupt halt and she stared at him suspiciously, eyes narrowing into slits. “Is this some kind of damn joke? What the hell are you playing at?”

He was taken aback by her sudden hostility. “What? What did I say?”

“Are you tailing me? Did you plant a bug when I wasn’t looking?” she demanded.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. Who’s this guy to you?”

“That’s me, dipshit. I’m Sam Glover.”

“Oh…oh.” Jacob leaned back on the stool as the revelation sunk in. “Then what the hell’s going on here?” he frowned.

They didn’t notice the burly man approach until he muscled his way in between them, lifting Jacob up by the collar.

“Excuse me.” said the man, as he shoved a scanner at his face and waited for the result.

Once it was finished, the words ‘MORENO, JACOB’ appeared on the screen. He read the name and pocketed the device, wearing a smile of satisfaction.

“Bingo.” he said, drawing his arm back and punched Jacob hard.

He was flung back to the opposite side of the counter, smashing into glasses and bottles as he collapsed on the ground. All around the Marauder, people jumped up at the noise, either stepping back or instinctively reaching for concealed weapons. The other bounty hunters glanced around the room, quickly identifying their peers by experience and picked out people making the slightest twitches towards holsters and sheaths, or others who clenched their fists in anticipation for a fight. The hunters knew they were all competition, all here for the same reason, and decided they weren’t going to leave empty-handed. A heavy layer of tension fell over the bar, only noticed by the most situationally aware.

Another sound of shattering glass came from the counter and one of the more inexperienced hunters, twitching with nervousness, mistook it for a gunshot. The hunter whipped out a compact submachine gun, let out a cry and began spraying shots around the bar, and in an instant, all the other hunters sprang into action. They were suddenly armed with guns, knives, clubs, and fists, and sparked a vicious free-for-all throughout the Marauder. The bouncers jumped in too, futilely trying to break up the melee. In the booth near the entrance, the group turned to face each other and one member spoke to the others over the ambient noise.

“That’s our cue. Grab your gear and let’s move out. Clock’s ticking.”

The group members nodded as they reached for sleek black operator helmets and readied their assortment of rifles. They stuck to the wall of the bar, avoiding the brawl and reached the office door, swiftly breaching then disappeared inside.

Jacob struggled to get back up on his feet while the big man vaulted over the counter to continue his assault. He felt himself being lifted up again and the massive hunter slammed him against the shelf, shattering countless bottles of cheap liquor. He was tossed onto the counter and the brute’s fingers curled around his neck and he brought one fist back to repeatedly hammer Jacob’s face. The punches, the lack of air, it was too much. Jacob’s sight was blurring and blackening and dark spots buzzed around the corners of his vision. Channelling his strength, Jacob reached for the Enforcer tucked away in his pants. He pressed the barrel into the man’s gut but while his fingers fumbled for the trigger, the man yanked the pistol out of his grip and tossed it aside.

“Nice try.” he said, and raised his arm for the next blow.

“Yeah, nice try, shit-face.”

The man turned and faced the speaker and his eyes widened in horror as he realized what happened. In the heat of the moment, he completely forgot about the person sitting beside his target. He assumed she was just some nobody, unlucky enough to be sitting next to his mark. When he carelessly tossed the handgun, it landed right in front of her. Sam picked up the gun, expertly twirling it in her hand then wrapped her palm around the grip and slid her finger under the trigger guard, barely taking a moment to aim before she squeezed off a single shot.

It struck the man’s cranium, crackling over his skin and he spasmed, muscles rapidly relaxing and contracting before he finally sunk to the ground. Jacob got off the counter, greedily sucking in air to his oxygen-deprived lungs. Sam walked over to him and passed his handgun back.

“Shame you keep it on stun. Would’ve been a lot more satisfying if he popped.”

Jacob took the pistol from her outstretched hand. “Thanks. I owe you one.” he said between breaths.

“You owe me two. That’s the second time I’ve saved your ass.”

“There won’t be a third, I promise.”

The Marauder bar was in absolute chaos. There were at least a dozen ongoing fistfights, tables were overturned and being used as cover from gunfire, and bodies, both dead and injured, were beginning to pile up.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Jacob started, “but I do know something’s up. We need to work together if we want to make it out of here.”

Sam nodded in agreement, her feelings of doubt and mistrust slowly ebbing away.

Some hunters were thrown out of the brawl and they looked around the bar as they caught their breath. They settled their sights on Jacob and Sam, deciding that they, standing harmlessly to the side, were easier targets.

“Looks like trouble.” commented Sam.

Jacob flicked out his shock baton, extending it into his palm. “So I’ve seen you shoot, and you’re good. But can you fight?”

“Oh, I can fight.” She drew her own weapon, a Nova Industries ‘Firestorm’ machine-pistol and rushed forward, unloading a flurry of shots at the approaching hunters.

The secondary decimated the enemy numbers and the hunters, lacking high-tier body armour, had little protection from the barrage of low-calibre rounds that tore through them with ease. She targeted the distant ones first, knocking them down before they could react, but now several hunters were within punching distance, and she changed her method of attack. She tackled the next hunter and fired point-blank while he was pinned on the ground. Swinging her legs forward, she connected with another hunter, whose own leg gave out with an audible snap. She threw her fist at his head, which was now level with hers, and swiftly knocked him unconscious. In a flash she was up again, jamming a fresh magazine into her weapon before moving to the next opponent.

Jacob incapacitated the first two hunters with ease, the charge from the baton making short work of his attackers. Before he engaged the third however, he realized the other hunters were surrounding him in a predatory circle. His free hand instinctively went to his pistol, fingers nervously brushing the texture of the weapon’s grip. One shot was all he had, nowhere near enough to deal with all the hunters. Even with his shock baton, there was no way he could overpower them all. He mentally created an image of his environment and searched for some way to gain an advantage.

And he had it.

Suddenly he raised his pistol, taking aim at the hunters behind him. They dove for cover, breaking their formation and Jacob ran through the newly created gap, making a beeline for the bar. The hunters ducked behind whatever cover they could find out of fear of being shot, then followed him when they realized he wasn’t firing. He vaulted over the counter and turned around to see how his pursuers were keeping up. He raised his Enforcer again to buy himself a couple more seconds, and the hunters dove out of the way once more, though less frantic this time. They were beginning to doubt Jacob was willing to shoot at them at all.

He ducked under the counter, out of their line of sight. They were moving too fast. He needed to give himself more time, he noted as he fumbled around for a distraction. He grabbed two large bottles by the neck and chucked them well over his opponents’ heads. The bottles shattered on the ceiling, showering the hunters below with liquor and glass. They took cover, covering their heads and necks from the falling shards. They recovered and approached the bar carefully, anticipating another attack. None came, and when they were close enough, they peered over the counter to pinpoint their target. But Jacob wasn’t there.

He slipped away, unnoticed thanks to his distraction and the surrounding brawl, and camped out behind an overturned table which offered a clear view of the bar. Pistol raised, he saw them approach the counter, so focused and oblivious that they didn’t see him hiding nearby. He saw them glancing over the counter, and knowing that they would wise up to his ruse, he decided they would have to be close enough. So he pulled the trigger.

The shot connected with one of the countless bottles resting on the shelf, igniting the contents inside. The flaming alcohol exploded out of its container and landed on other pools of liquor from previously broken containers. As the heat intensified, more bottles shattered from the pressure and combusted as well. It started a chain reaction at the bar, and in moments it transformed into a massive inferno. Some of the hunters suddenly leapt back and collapsed on the ground, dazed. The others didn’t move out of the way in time, and the sudden heat ignited the alcohol that soaked into their clothes. They ran off, screaming and groaning in agony as the flames scorched their flesh.

Jacob stepped away from his hiding spot and lunged at the stunned hunters with his baton. He quickly knocked out the downed figures and saw the electricity crackle with each strike. The hunters were beaten, and Jacob grinned at his handiwork. Took them down with a bullet, his baton and little else. The battle was dying down, and suddenly a thought popped into his mind, filling him with worry. Where was Sam? He lost track of her in the heat of the battle. Did something happen to her?

He felt pressure on the back of his skull, the unmistakable sensation of a gun barrel being pressed into his head interrupted his thoughts. Two rapid strikes hit the back of his knees and he collapsed to the ground. He twisted his neck back to catch a glimpse of his attacker and he recognized her instantly.

“Sam, wait!”

She froze, taken by surprise. She studied his face, trying to recall where she’d seen him as her battle instinct ground to a halt.

“Oh, sorry,” she said, realization striking her as he got up, “I’m not really used to working with someone.”

A heavy calm descended onto the Marauder. Bodies were strewn everywhere and scorch marks dotted the walls, infusing the air with the scent of gunfire. The injured hunters let out soft moans as they rolled in pain on the floor. Shards of glass were littered everywhere, scattered along with toppled tables and chairs and Sam and Jacob stood in the middle of the carnage, standing breathless over the bar’s occupants. They were all lying on the ground, motionless, except for the armoured woman who was slowly walking towards the duo. Sam and Jacob went on alert, suspicious at what might be thrown at them next.

The group of operators walked out of the office and into the ruins of the bar, smoke trailing out of the barrels of their rifles. One of them pressed a detonator and the back room of the Marauder was obliterated with a muffled blast. They stopped in front of them, sizing them up from head to toe, expressions hid behind their helmets. Jacob watched the newcomers, feeling unease at this uncomfortably long faceoff. The one Jacob first met at the entrance of the bar spoke first.

“Well, I’ve got to admit, I’m impressed.” She said, still toting the ComPad. “We never expected anyone to actually win.”

Sam was dumbstruck. “What? You planned this?”

She shrugged. “We have our own agenda, and we needed a diversion. Apologies for the deception, but it was necessary.”

Jacob’s gut churned, still wary.

“Usually, we’d go in and get out, and prefer not to leave anyone still standing, but today…”

One of the operators stepped forward and removed her helmet, a broad smile on her face. “Today, we’d like to make an offer. To both of you.” She paused, extending a hand before she continued. “I’m Captain Langley.”

Jacob and Sam responded with a firm handshake.

“Let me back up a bit.” she said. “We’re an elite task force, contracted by the most influential beings in the galaxy to deal with problems they can’t handle. We’re not aligned with any faction, and while I suppose you could label us as bounty hunters, we’re more than that. We are a collection of individuals, all here from various backgrounds but we work together to achieve our goals, like some universal task force. We are among of the best of the galaxy. This line of work is dangerous, and as you can see –” Langley glanced at her other team members, “– we’re pretty short on manpower. As operative Zhang mentioned, we were impressed by your combat abilities. We would be glad to have your skill set with us, and we can offer you whatever you need in return. What do you say?”

“Anything that gets me off this dump sounds good to me.” said Sam, interested.

“But what if we refuse?” asked Jacob. He caught Sam shoot him a look, and he quickly changed his question. “Er – I refuse?”

“Well, I can’t stop you from doing that. But I suggest you take it. Look, we offered you two thousand credits to come here, but we weren’t really expecting to deliver. I hate to break a promise, and if you join us, you can make more, much, much more with just a few contracts. Consider this your payment.”

“Well, I’d like to be a part of this.” said Sam as she stepped forward.

Captain Langley beamed. “Excellent. And what about you?” she asked Jacob.

He took a moment to think about it. It was a great opportunity for him to fast track his way to top of the line gear. However, regardless of what they said, they were bounty hunters. They rarely let anything get in the way of their prize, and he was concerned at what kind of morals would need to be left behind. Just one contract, he told himself, two at most. The less he was around these people, the better, and when he was finished, they could drop him off on Aerater and he could begin to plan his assault on Tara Harmon.

“I’m in.” he said at last.

“Glad to hear it. If you’d refused, we would’ve went with our usual policy.” She drummed her fingers on her sidearm, driving the point home.

Langley strode over to the door, leading her team outside. “Shall we?”

***

Aerater spaceport, Citadel City


The squad walked the short distance from the smouldering Marauder bar to Aerater’s spaceport, during which Captain Langley gave her two new recruits a quick briefing of their current task. She explained they were hunting targets on a hit list, but it was constantly being updated, so this was turning out to be one of their longer jobs, one that was unpredictable and had no clear ending in sight. They entered the spaceport, passing crowds of people hovering around the lobby. They moved with purpose and entered the massive hangar, passing countless makes and models of spacecraft.

“So you’ve got a ship?” asked Sam as they moved through the hangar.

“Oh yeah, it’s really something. We’re quite proud of it.” said Captain Langley.

“What kind is it?” asked Jacob, curious.

“Well, I suppose I could tell you,” she said, slowing to a halt, “or you can see for yourself.”

They stopped at one of the landing pads, standing in awe at the ship before them. It was a jet-black Boa 2 Cruiser, covered from top to bottom with a matte finish and bristling with guns. Twin beam lasers were mounted under the ship’s nose and a military laser was resting on top, more cannons were mounted on each side of the hull, making the entire craft look like a miniature warship. Slight variations in the exterior indicated that this was far from a stock Boa 2. The outer hull was sleek yet unassuming, but the interior was heavily modified, and under its metal skin, the ship radiated strength and energy, rippling under its black frame. This was a ship that was no doubt fast, powerful and deadly, though it wouldn’t be one to show off.

“There she is.” said Langley with pride. “What do you think?”

“It’s a sweet ride.” commented Jacob.

“Fully decked out. She’s quick, nimble, and armed to the teeth. We sacrificed a lot of cargo space to give her the extra juice, so it’s a bit cramped inside, but we weren’t really using all that space anyway. With a good pilot at the helm, she could give a GalCop behemoth a run for its money, in theory. But in practice… we’ve held our own against two.”

Sam let out a low whistle as the team entered the ship. Langley looked back and motioned for the two to come up.

“Welcome aboard,” she said as Jacob looked around the interior, “the Artemis’ Will.”


Last edited by my ammo crate on Mon Feb 29, 2016 1:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Rebellious Three
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:51 am 
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Posts: 41
Part 4

Tioranin planetary surface

The two figures stopped in the middle of the sidewalk during the crisp Tioranin dawn. They faced each other, talking in hushed whispers while their eyes surveyed their surroundings.

“Well?”

“We’ve cracked it. Here it is.” They exchanged a flash drive, and the recipient studied it briefly.

“What about the others?”

“Couriers are distributing them as we speak.”

“Good. Make sure this stays off the Net. One digital copy and they’ll be all over us.”

“We’re on it.” There was a moment of silence as the gravity of their task fell on them.

“The boss says we’re close.”

The other nodded. “We pull this off and there’ll be a reckoning. No way they can ignore something this widespread.”

A military-looking dropship circled overhead, its engines slowly raising in pitch as it descended to the street below. The two conspirators looked up, startled.

“They’re here. They found us.” One gasped, panic seeping into his voice.

“What!? How?”

“Doesn’t matter how,” he said, drawing his Renegade handgun, “we’ve got to get out of here. Deliver the data.”

The dropship doors opened in mid-air and dozens of troopers jumped out of the craft, firing their thruster packs to slow their descent. They aimed their rifles and fired at the two men.

“Run!” screamed the armed rebel, raising his pistol at the approaching wave of soldiers. “I’ll cover you!”

The other gripped the drive, sprinted away from the street and made a beeline for a nearby building while his partner fired away. Massive slugs whizzed by the jet-packing soldiers, several connecting and caused them to spiral out of control in a spectacular fashion. The remaining troopers touched down, weapons hot and they easily dispatched the lone rebel. They turned to follow the sprinting man, but only pursued in a slight jog. He kept running, a grim smile on his face as he knew they couldn’t catch up to him at this rate. It didn’t take long before he figured out why.

Before he reached the safety of the building, another transport turned sharply around the corner. It cut him off and unloaded another squad of troops between him and the structure, forcing the man to skid to a stop.

“Tioranin Guard, don’t move!”

The man raised his hands as the troopers closed in. He spun around, searching for a way out, but it was useless.

“We have you surrounded! Don’t try anything, don’t even think about it, scum.”

He felt his stomach drop and he sank to his knees in defeat. It was over. There was nowhere to run. A trooper stepped towards him, coaxing a menacing click from his rifle, but his superior raised a hand, signalling him to stop.

“No. Not here, not now,” the leader hissed, pointing around, “witnesses.”

The trooper glanced around, and sure enough, civilians were watching the confrontation, awoken by the sound of gunfire in the city streets. Some held their ComPads up to their face as they recorded the scene before them.

“Looks like it’s your lucky day.” whispered the leader, leaning into the rebel’s face. “We’re going for a ride, that sound fun?”

They exchanged a hostile glare as troopers handcuffed the man and roughly shoved him into the back of the transport. The second team of soldiers filed back into the vehicle, then they were off. The leader sat in the back with the rebel and toyed with the confiscated flash drive.

“What’s on this?” he wondered. “What makes this so valuable that your buddy was willing to sacrifice himself to protect? Hm?”

“Cut the bullshit,” the man spat, “you already know, don’t you?”

The guard leader didn’t respond, but flashed a knowing smile. He inserted it into his own ComPad and opened the file, verifying it was indeed the correct document.

“Then you know the truth. Your government is responsible, and they’re using you to do their dirty work!” stated the rebel.

“And you should know you’re way out of your depth.” the leader responded. “You have been caught associating with a known terrorist, and are charged with conspiracy against the Tioranin system and the Galactic Cooperative. You are all public enemies, you and your little gang of traitors.”

“They’re lies! They’re all damn lies, and you know it! Don’t any of you know what’s happening? Your leadership is corrupt, and you’re protecting them! Do any of you know what they’ve done!?”

“Oh, we know. We know the truth, but the public mustn’t. They must think that Redman betrayed them, and in order for that to be true, that file must not exist. And if it doesn’t exist, then you never would’ve gotten your hands on it, and we would never be here.”

“What?”

The leader ignored him. “And if we were never here, then neither should you. And yet, look at us, both sitting in the back of this transport. That’s a pretty big problem, don’t you think?” He cocked his Enforcer pistol. “Fortunately, I have the perfect solution.”

He raised the gun and fired, boring a neat hole into the man’s forehead. The corpse slumped forward, limp in its seat and wrists pushing against the cuffs. A droplet of blood rolled down from the fresh wound.

“Much better.” commented the leader. “Alright, let’s finish up. We got more of these punks to bust.”

***

Aerater system space, rock hermit station


The crew of the Artemis wasted no time throwing their new recruits into the fire, testing their mettle. Within 48 hours, they managed to conduct six successful operations in Aerater space, though Jacob and Sam weren’t sure if they really were being successful, because the team was being tight-lipped about their actual objective. It seemed only half the crew knew what was going on and the other was content with being shrouded in blissful ignorance, as long as the paychecks kept rolling in. Jacob however, kept a mental record of any patterns, and he noted they kept scanning through terminals and burning unmarked documents. He figured they were hunting a gang of data thieves who were spreading information on a scandal some embarrassed authority would rather keep quiet.

Regardless of their goal, they were an effective team. They were well-coordinated and worked like a military unit, calling each other by last name and kept a high standard of discipline, although Langley was the only one who had a rank. The others believed they were equals, and so ranks had no place on their ship. Getting to know the other members was first on the agenda, and knowing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses helped improve their performance in battle. They were a surprisingly diverse bunch which helped reinforce their idea of a versatile fighting force.

There was Captain Langley of course, the squad’s unrivalled leader. She was in charge, making tactical decisions in the field and was the one to accept potential contracts. The others described her as fearless, determined and they followed her without question. Because of her nature, it seemed fitting to give her the title of Captain, even though she was never actually the one piloting the ship.

Gillis was the one at the wheel and was the only one who held the honor of flying the Artemis. He was a survivor, the longest serving squad member and had been on board the ship well before anyone else. His team was killed in an operation three weeks prior, and he only managed to escape death by being on board the Artemis at the time. He never talked about the incident, though it was obvious the event left behind deep scars. The trauma he experienced left him in a questionable state of mind, but that was never an issue when he flew. Flying was like a drug for him, focusing his attention on the present and suppressing his worries, and it was his own form of escapism. In flight, he was dependable, and the team never had any second thoughts when they put their lives in his hands.

Langley might’ve been the squad’s leader, but if anything happened to her, there was little doubt that Janacek would be there to pick up the pieces. He was the runner-up for the position of Captain, though being assigned to second-in-command never seemed to bother him. He was highly skilled in combat and provided his own tactical solutions to Langley, who considered the suggestions very seriously. She treated him like an equal, and never shied away from giving him opportunities to take charge. Whenever they needed to split up in a mission, which was often due to their small numbers, Janacek was always leading the second fireteam.

Zhang was the tech specialist, gathering intelligence for the team and relaying it to them. Without her, Langley’s decisions would be nowhere near as effective as they were, and she almost kept the team running singlehanded. She preferred to operate from a distance, away from the action but wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. She toted a custom, modified Enforcer shotgun that switched between pellets, slugs, stun and lethal. It was an impressive piece of weaponry, though slightly cumbersome, that decimated its fair share of opponents. Not her design though, she admitted with a hint of disappointment.

Santiago designed Zhang’s custom shotgun and kept most of the team’s equipment in working order. He also kept inventory of everything for the squad and was in charge of managing it all. The moment Sam and Jacob came aboard, he issued stock Vanguard gear to them, all military-grade, so Jacob noted whoever was funding them had deep pockets. Santiago had a creative spirit, often carving intricate designs into his equipment during his free time, like patterns and symbols, though they were usually to make himself look more intimidating. He was usually tinkering with his equipment in his spare time and was even willing to mod the team’s weapons, though at an extra cost.

Lavoie was the oddball, and looked the least intimidating of them all. He had a small frame, suggesting he was seriously lacking much body strength, but in combat, he toted a Renegade light machine gun which more than compensated for his figure. While the other members preferred lighter weapons that offered more mobility and were easier to handle, Lavoie’s stamina was unmatched, and he was a terrifying force in combat. Some wondered if he had cybernetics underneath a layer of artificial skin, but nobody really cared enough to check. Lavoie seemed normal enough, though was glad to be finally spared from the “new guy” jabs.

Langley gave them an opportunity to pick up any belongings before they left the surface, and Jacob brought his battered terminal aboard the Artemis. It was the only thing that was directly linked to him, and he’d rather not leave it on such a hostile presence. He knew it was a liability, having it on a ship full of people like this, but fortunately privacy was one thing they seemed to respect, and so it was less of a risk keeping it here. He never kept many belongings to start with, and so everything else he needed was brought in on his back. Sam didn’t have much either, and just retrieved her customized Javelin rifle.

Jacob and Sam were given their own rooms, crew and they settled into the cramped space. The ship was so stuffed with modifications that this cabin made Jacob’s shack on Aerater look luxurious. There was simply a narrow bed and a tiny desk, bundles of wires ran along the wall and a single fluorescent light that illuminated the room emitted an annoying hum. No bathroom though, as the ship only had one, and the crew had to share with eight people.

As they approached the rock hermit, Jacob slipped on his new combat helmet, glad to have an opportunity to escape the confines of the ship. Even though the station was probably only a little more spacious, the new scenery would be a nice change of pace. The team was all geared up and waiting by the airlock, ready to move once it opened. Gillis sat in the cockpit, making minor adjustments to the ship’s course as it approached the station.

“We’re in,” he said through their headset radios, “beginning docking procedure.”

Captain Langley turned to face the others in the airlock. “Remember, stations like these are completely lawless. They don’t take too kindly to outsiders, so stay on your toes.”

“Rock hermits aren’t big on records, so there weren’t any station plans available.” said Zhang. “We know the target is on the station, but other than that, we’re going in blind.”

“Stay alert and let’s keep this snappy,” continued Langley, “we don’t want to overstay our welcome.” The team responded with a chorus of affirmatives and stepped out into the station.

Rock hermits were hot spots for smugglers, pirates and rebels wanting to either settle down with their loot or sought a temporary refuge. Their inhabitants generally didn’t trust each other, but were willing to join forces and leap to the defence of the station if it were at risk. Countless eyes observed the heavily armed squad as they walked across the hangar. Jacob felt uneasy as heads turned and conversations dropped to faint whispers as they passed. A small crowd formed in front of the entrance, and one of them stepped forward to confront the group.

The man wore dusty, washed out clothes, and his wrinkly eyes watched them intently. “You’d better leave.” he said in gravelly tones.

The squad came to a stop in front of the suspicious criminals. Langley stepped towards him, unimpressed by their attempt to intimidate.

“And why is that?” The helmet laced her voice with static as it passed through its speakers, slightly distorting it.

“GalCop isn’t welcome here.” he spoke flatly.

She scoffed. “I think it’s been too long since you’ve gotten your hands dirty, old man. We’re not GalCop.”

“Don’t try to fool me,” he retorted, “I know military when I see it. You don’t have any authority here.”

Janacek shifted impatiently. “We don’t have time for this.” he said through their headsets so the smugglers couldn’t hear him.

Langley nodded, snaking her hand towards her holster. “GalCop has rules and regulations – if we were with GalCop, would I be allowed to do this?”

She jammed the pistol’s barrel into his shoulder and squeezed the trigger. He collapsed to the floor with a thud, groaning in pain and the criminals jumped back in surprise, some reaching for whatever weapons they had tucked within their rags. The squad responded by raising their rifles and the crowd hesitated, unprepared for the sudden response.

Langley spoke again, voice amplified by her helmet. “Listen up! We don’t care about any of you, who you are or what you’ve done. We aren’t here to bring you in. Just stay out of our way and nobody else gets hurt.”

She was almost telling the truth. Jacob knew their objective well enough that he knew there would be a handful of people on the station who were going to get hurt regardless.

The crowd broke apart, eyes downcast and left the entrance unobstructed, giving the squad full access to the station. One of the observers hung around, watching them for a moment before he turned around and retreating into the winding depths of the rock. Zhang spoke up, pointing out the odd behavior to the squad.

“Look there, see that guy? Eleven ‘o clock.”

“I see him.” said Sam.

“Took one good look at us then walked off. He’s a sentry I think.”

“Good eyes, Zhang.” complimented Langley. “If he knows who we are, then he’s going to warn the others. Lavoie and Glover, tail him. Find out where he’s going.”

The two nodded and broke off, moving briskly to catch up to him.

“Everyone else, stay close. A big group is going to be too obvious, so we need to keep our distance. Keep ‘em in your line of sight though, so we can jump in if anything goes wrong.”

They followed the man as he walked through the station, Lavoie and Sam attempted to blend in with the crowd, far behind their target. The rest followed in a parallel passageway and kept a close eye on the two. They followed for several minutes, leaving the hangar, common areas and living quarters behind.

“Hold up,” said Sam through the radio. The team instantly came to a stop in the middle of the hallway.

“He stopped in front of a door…” she continued, “and he’s inside. Looks like a single room, one way in and out.”

“Okay, we’re coming.” said Langley.

They were reunited and Jacob glanced at the door that stood between them and the room, controlled by a panel on the wall beside it. The team stacked up on both sides of the door, ready to breach while Zhang began hacking into the controls.

“Any idea what’s in here?” Janacek asked.

“Looked like monitors, computers, and lots of tech.” responded Sam.

“There are contacts too. I counted at least three tangoes.” added Lavoie.

“Okay, this is it. Ready up people.” ordered Langley.

The panel suddenly blinked green and Zhang stood up, drawing her weapon. “We’re in.”

“Wait for my go.” commanded Langley. “Three…two…one…go!”

The door slid open and they spilled into the room, guns blazing. The occupants spun to face the entrance, reaching for their own weapons but were gunned down before they could return fire. The fight was over before their targets knew it had started. Jacob checked his corners and stepped over the bodies to secure the room. Through the view of the rifle’s integrated holographic sight, he noticed wires bundling together and snaking around the corner to another room. He peeked in, seeing nothing of interest other than the blinking lights of servers against the wall.

“Clear!” shouted a squad member from the other side of the room. It was a small area and so it didn’t take long to secure.

Satisfied, Jacob hollered back. “Clear.”

Suddenly a hand lashed out and knocked his rifle out of his hands and onto the floor. A fist collided with Jacob’s head and he staggered back from the sudden blow. His combat armour protected him from taking any real damage and he recovered quickly. He saw his attacker charging towards him and shifted his feet wide, slightly bent his knees and raised his fists, ready for the next attack. His assailant threw a punch and Jacob thrust his open palm towards it, catching it midair. His other hand, balled and hardened under an armoured gauntlet, slammed into his stomach, pummelling the soft flesh below the ribcage. Jacob’s opponent doubled over, winded, and Jacob jerked his leg up to rapidly connect his kneepad with the man’s head.

The man reeled back from the sudden counterattack and fell back on the floor, unconscious. Jacob glanced at his team members, seeing two of them walking up to detain the last person, while the others took a brief moment to watch the fight then returned to searching the room. He saw Sam, who was eyeing him with her head cocked to the side.

“Don’t forget to check your cooorners.” she singsonged.

He walked past her, waving his hand dismissively as she took another jab at his hand-to-hand combat. He could almost see the grin she wore behind her helmet.

*

“Wake up.”

The smuggler suddenly jerked up, fully alert but couldn’t move. He was tied to a chair, and as soon as he realized this, he thrashed about, testing the restraints and trying to break free. It was useless, and he looked around to study the room. The entire place had been turned inside out, sheets of paper were everywhere, computers were in a shattered ruin and drawers and compartments were opened. He looked at the eight figures in front of him, his captors, and immediately knew what they were after.

Langley stood next to him, helmet by her side and watched as he looked around.

“Good, you’re up.”

“What do you want?” he said with a hint of venom.

“I have a question I need you to answer. A very quick, simple question.”

“You’re wasting your time. I know what you’re after, and I won’t say a damn thing.”

“I don’t think you’re in any position to be making bold statements like that. Besides, you haven’t even heard my question yet.”

He glared at her, still defiant, but sat silently.

“Where are the backups?” questioned Langley. “We found your data. We burned the papers, deleted the files and trashed your computers for good measure. We’ve turned everything over and destroyed every copy we could find. But there are backups, hidden somewhere. There always are with you people. So the question is – where are they?”

More silence followed.

“This’ll only be as difficult as you make it.” said Langley. “Tell us, and we’ll let you go.”

He didn’t respond. Not immediately and not with words. He spat at her and leaned closer, opening his mouth to speak. “Go to hell.”

Langley stepped back, wiping the off the spit. “Have it your way. Gillis, he’s all yours.”

Gillis cracked his knuckles, approaching the chair as he did. Their captive ignored Gillis’ imposing figure and continued to face Langley.

“What’s the matter? Can’t get your hands dirty? Gotta rely on your lackey to do all the hard work?”

Gillis struck out at the defenceless smuggler, landing a blow across his face.

“Tell us where they are, and this will all be over.” promised Langley. She sat on one of the tables and let her legs dangle off the floor.

Gillis paused, giving the man a moment to respond before throwing another punch. He righted himself and spat out a rosy mixture of blood and saliva.

“You think that hurts? I know slugs that hit harder than you do.” he said before getting punched again.

They continued, minutes passing of continuous beating. Gillis hammered the smuggler’s face like a bongo, and each time he replied with another quip. He was battered and bruised and a steady stream of blood dripped from his nose and cheeks. It was no doubt broken and sat at an angle, and the rest of his face was purple from bruises. He was swollen and bleeding, but continued to stare defiantly from the narrow slits that used to be his eyelids. Gillis landed another punch that resonated around the room.

“You don’t even have the balls to finish me off.” the man rasped. “I can do this all day.”

“Gillis, that’s enough. Stand down.” ordered Langley.

“Ma’am, I was just getting warmed up.” There was audible hint of disappointment as Gillis spoke through his helmet filter.

She walked up, seizing Gillis’ role and stared down the smuggler.

“You don’t scare me, bitch.”

Langley reached down at her holster, whipped out her pistol and jammed it into the man’s chest. “Watch your mouth. I’m giving you one last chance. Or else.”

He scoffed. “Empty threats. You need me alive. You need me to tell you where the data is, so you’re bluffing. You can’t kill me.”

“You’re right. I can’t kill you.” she admitted, lowering the gun. “So I’ll need to take a different approach.”

She reached into her utility pouch and brought out a syringe, and the smuggler’s eyes widened.

“What is that?”

“Stimulant.” replied Langley as she injected it into his bloodstream. “I need you awake for this.”

Before he could realize what ‘this’ was, Langley dropped the barrel to his knee and fired. He gasped and balled his hands in pain.

“Now,” said Langley, “the data. Where is it?”

He raised his chin, still resisting. “Go to hell.” he managed through clenched teeth.

Langley brought the gun to the other leg and fired. He yelped and tightened his fists further as he tried to contain his agony.

“Give me a location.” ordered Langley.

“Go. To. Hell.” he repeated.

Langley put her pistol away, dropped her hands onto his knees and leaned in, putting pressure on the two gunshot wounds. The man took quick, sharp breaths and trembled under her weight, groaning as he neared his pain threshold.

“I’m only going to ask you one more time.” threatened Langley. “Where is the data?”

“It’s up your ass.” he sputtered. His face was contorted in an ugly grimace, but somehow he found the strength to look her directly in the eye. “You won’t get anything from me!”

She hung her head and sighed, appearing to be disappointed, but while she hid her face from his sight, she grinned darkly. She was finished putting up with this guy. He ignored her final warning, and now there was no holding back. Without hesitation she plunged her thumbs into the open wounds and twisted, creating indescribable amounts of pain. He thrashed and squirmed before finally caving in and letting out a bloodcurdling scream.

Jacob shuffled uncomfortably, feeling increasingly nauseous as he watched until it became unbearable, then turned around to leave the room. Some gave him a sideways look as he passed but nobody made any moves to stop him. He walked outside the door frame and it closed with a pneumatic whoosh, leaving him alone in the stone corridor. He removed his helmet and took in the station’s air, the filtered version feeling more refreshing than what his armour supplied. Random passersby kept to themselves and avoided eye contact with him, as they were still afraid of what the squad might do. Even through the metal door, the screams were still audible and sent haunting chills through whoever was nearby.

He was in shock at what he’d seen, and while he had plenty of indicators that these people were an amoral bunch, nothing could prepare him for what just happened. He’d seen them interrogate before, but they never needed to resort to torture. The others had given up before they had to do that, but now that he’d seen it…

He slumped against the wall as he tried to collect his thoughts in an attempt to drown out the noise. Conflicting thoughts ran through his head. He couldn’t keep doing this, but he needed the credits: this was the only way he could oppose Tara Harmon. But, as he thought about it more, he realized that it wasn’t truly his sole option. This was just the quickest, simplest way to achieve his goal, and his thirst for revenge prevented him from considering anything else.

The door whooshed open once more and one of the troopers stepped out into the hallway then shuffled over to Jacob. He turned to look and recognized Sam’s armoured figure as she approached.

“Hey,” she said softly, “are you okay?”

Jacob waved his hand. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just a little shaken up. You?”

“I…no, I don’t know. What happened back there?”

He shivered. “Who are these people? What do they want?”

She didn’t say anything, but based on her expression she shared his concern. “This feels wrong, Jacob. I can’t keep doing this.” She buried her head in her palms.

Jacob raised an eyebrow. “Wasn’t this your idea? I thought you wanted to.”

“I just wanted to get away from that godforsaken wasteland. Besides, that was before I knew they were completely psychotic.”

Jacob nodded in agreement, and for a moment they said nothing, silent as the screams providing a chilling backdrop that highlighted their worry. After a moment, he spoke. “I think it’s best if we just forget about all this.”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know, just tell them we want out or something. Get them to drop us off at the nearest system and then we’ll get out of their way.”

“And then what? Just leave them to do whatever the hell they want?” she challenged.

“We’re out of our depth,” he said, dodging the question. “We don’t know who they’re working for or what they’re after, and I think it’s better for us if it stays like that.”

“So that’s it then. You’ll let them run around, terrorizing the galaxy?”

“Yes.” he admitted softly. “There will always be bad people, people like this doing terrible things, and no matter what you do, you can’t stop them all.”

Sam couldn’t believe her ears. She refused to accept that the words coming out of Jacob’s mouth were their sole course of action.

“It’s best that we back out while we still can.” he continued. “Then put it all behind you, forget about the squad, the tortures… and you won’t have to see me again. We’ll go back to whatever we were doing before we got pulled into this.”

A muffled gunshot interrupted their conversation and the door opened, allowing the rest of the team to single file outside. Jacob snuck a peek in the room and saw the man limp in the chair, his head tilted up and a violent spray of blood splattered on the wall behind him. Jacob’s eyes strayed past the corpse’s legs and he instantly regretted it, the sight inducing nausea and he stepped away. Santiago activated an incendiary charge that he planted and it instantly began burning and erasing all traces that they were ever there.

“There goes another one,” said Langley as she turned to update Jacob and Sam. “He caved in and told us where they were hiding ‘em. Lucky for us, we already found each hidden stash, so it’s a mission complete.”

Blood dripped down her gauntlets and Jacob shivered inwardly at the sight. She stopped and frowned when she noticed their troubled looks.

“Something wrong, Moreno?” she asked.

He glanced at Sam, aware of their intentions to escape. This was their opportunity, but he was suddenly nervous now that he was being confronted. He looked back, forcing himself to make eye contact.

“Not at all,” he lied.


Last edited by my ammo crate on Mon Mar 07, 2016 6:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Rebellious Three
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:52 am 
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Part 5

Jacob collapsed on his bunk, drifting in his thoughts. The Artemis was sitting idly in space while the crew determined who their next target was. She hadn’t spoken to him since they returned from the station, but he knew she was upset he hadn’t done anything to distance themselves from the squad. He wanted to get off the ship just as much as her, but he was trying to figure out how he was supposed to tell to the others about it. He racked his brain, trying to formulate an argument when a blinking light on his terminal distracted him.

He scrambled over, suddenly on alert. It was a notification of a new message, urgently flashing. Questions flew by. How long had it been like that? He was too distracted when he entered to notice, so it could’ve arrived seconds ago or while he was away on the station. More importantly, who contacted him? Nobody knew who we was outside the ship, and he was careful to never share his contact information with anyone. He opened it carefully, expecting malware or some annoying kind of advertisement, but what it actually was couldn’t’ve surprised him more. A pre-recorded message began to play once he opened it.

“Hello, if anyone’s on this channel, I need immediate support.”

Jacob’s jaw dropped. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. It was the last person he ever expected to see, and possibly the last person he ever wanted to see. Rex.

“I have reason to believe that my location has been compromised,” continued the recording. “Two weeks ago, I discovered incriminating evidence of a large conspiracy that was successfully executed and subsequently covered up. In order to spread the truth, I dispatched agents throughout the sector, but one by one they disappeared. We are being hunted. I am vulnerable, exposed and I need backup. I need your help. My coordinates are Echo-2, Bravo-5, Rigeti planetary surface. Please, get here as soon as you can.”

Jacob couldn’t believe it. After abandoning them on Aerater and keeping silent for over three weeks, now Rex had the audacity to come begging for help, just because he might be in trouble. He shook his head. There was no way Rex was getting any help from him, not after he left the rebels to fend for themselves and then let them die. As far as Jacob was concerned, Rex held the blame for their defeat that day, and he deserved whatever violent end that was coming for him.

“Help you?” he muttered to himself. “Fat chance. Good riddance.”

Footsteps approached his cabin and Jacob scrambled, quickly hiding the file before whoever it was arrived at the door. He closed it just as Janacek poked his head through the frame.

“Don’t get too comfy.” said Janacek. “Zhang just picked up a massive activity surge at sector E2B5 over in Rigeti. Gillis should be able to get us there within the hour.”

Jacob froze, trying to process what he just heard. “E2B5?”

“Whoa, is there an echo in here?” Janacek looked around, feigning surprise and his voice thick with sarcasm. “Yeah, that’s what I said. Don’t lose the armour just yet, you’re going to need it.” he said before he left.

Jacob’s brain was chugging away, making connections from this new information. Whatever Rex had found was undoubtedly the prime target of the Artemis’ Will. That made his discovery suddenly very, very interesting. Perhaps he would finally get an answer, he thought as the ship entered witchspace. What was waiting on the other side, he had no idea, but he was anxious to find out. All he had to do was wait for an hour, and so he did, planting himself in front of the terminal and waited as the minutes ticked by.

***

Rigeti planetary surface, abandoned Nova Industries facility

The old building was easy to spot in the remote area thanks to its boxy outline and long antennae. The Artemis approached silently under the cover of night, circling overhead while Gillis and Zhang checked for any fortifications. Langley began dividing the team into groups and assigned them tasks.

“Gillis and Zhang, secure the landing pad and hold it until we’re clear. Janacek and Lavoie, sweep the second level. Moreno and Glover, take the top. Santiago, you’re with me on the ground floor. Anyone finds anything, give us a shout and we’ll converge on that location. Got it?” The team nodded in acknowledgement. “Alright. It’s show time.”

The ship descended on the overgrown landing pad and the squad swiftly formed a perimeter. Once they swept the area, they split off in their predetermined groups. Sam and Jacob arrived at the third floor, illuminated the empty hallway with their flashlights and slowly pushed into the darkness. They advanced in silence, and Jacob became painfully aware that Sam hadn’t said a word since the station.

He watched her and saw her making jerky, stiff movements while hostility practically radiated off her. He tried saying something in a vain attempt to break the silence, but his voice petered out against her cold unresponsiveness. She checked behind her to make sure they were alone, then switched off her radio. Jacob watched her, puzzled then realized what was going on. He turned his off too then braced for what was next.

“What do you think you’re doing?” she hissed.

“What’re you talking about?”

“You know damn well what I mean. Why are we still here? Wasn’t the plan to ditch these guys?”

“It was. I mean, it still is, but I need to do this first. This is important to me.”

She stopped in her tracks and narrowed her eyes. “Oh I get it. You thought about this long and hard, then decided you’d prefer killing people for no particular reason! Is that it?”

“No! It’s not like that. It’s nothing like that.” he said hastily, startled she would think that of him.

“Then care to explain?”

He sighed. “Remember what I was talking about in the Marauder when we met? This is related to that.”

“Then tell me what’s going on. I can help you.” she said, practically pleading.

“I can’t.” he said, remembering her dislike for rebels. “Believe me, you won’t want to hear it.”

Suddenly she was hostile again, possibly even more pissed than earlier. “And so you think it’s helpful to keep me in the goddamn dark?”

“Look, its better off like this. You have to trust me.”

Sam threw her arms in the air in exasperation. “Gah, you’re full of shit.”

Jacob said nothing, instead simply raised his rifle and continued down the decrepit hall. Sam mirrored his actions and tailed behind him.

“I don’t know why I even bother with you,” she ranted. “You’re just a spineless piece of crap. I didn’t need your help back on Aerater, and I certainly don’t need your help now. Maybe you’re happy with just sitting on your ass, but I should be doing something, either running or putting a stop to this, not moping around. I should have just left you when I had the chance, you pathetic-”

THWACK!

Jacob spun around and saw Sam collapse to the ground, a figure standing behind her. He clutched a metal beam and held it two-handed like a large bat, and rushed towards a stunned Jacob. He was hit with a powerful shoulder charge that picked him off his feet. He tried to target his attacker, but his rifle was too long to get a shot at this range. They collided with the wall and Jacob felt crushing pressure as he was sandwiched between them, then dropped down on all fours. Jacob looked up and rolled out of the way just in time to dodge the beam before it came crashing down on his head. He turned onto his back and brought his gun up, shining the flashlight at the enemy and wrapped his glove around the trigger.

Suddenly, his eyes widened and he threw his rifle aside then brought his hands up in surrender. “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! Rex, stop!”

Rex froze mid-strike, surprised this guy knew his name. He squinted at the armoured figure, weary and ready to attack again. “Who are you?”

Jacob switched off the opacity on his visor so Rex could see. “It’s me, Jacob. I got your message.”

“Jacob?” Rex dropped the beam and his face lit up. He approached Jacob with open arms. “Oh god, it’s good to see you again. I’m glad someone could make it.”

He glanced at Jacob’s armour, Sam’s unconscious body and back again. “How did you get here? What happened?”

“It’s complicated.”

Rex’s eyes darted around as he put the pieces together. “Oh, you infiltrated their group, didn’t you?” he whistled, impressed. “You sly bastard! Damn, I didn’t know you were crafty enough to pull something like that off. How’d you manage that in a couple hours?”

“Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that.”

Rex was still grinning. “I’m sure. Be sure to tell me all about it later. But right now there’s work to be done. I was worried I was going to have to hold them off by myself, but now that you’re here, we can afford to go on the offensive.” He produced a knife and approached Sam’s body.

“Wait, don’t touch her!” Rex stopped, confused. “She’s with me. And I didn’t come here to help you. I wouldn’t even be here if I had the choice.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Aerater. Three weeks ago, you abandoned us. You left us to die.” Jacob spat. “We were crushed while you ran off with your tail between your legs and never stopped for even a second thought. So yeah, I’m not here to pull you out of the fire. You deserve everything that’s coming for you, you son of a bitch.”

Rex stepped back, worried as his confidence began to crumble. “You don’t understand. I’m onto something big.”

“Then make me understand. I want answers.”

“I wish I could. But there’s no time. These guys are closing in, and the clock’s ticking. I’ll explain everything later, I promise, but for now, I need to keep them back. I need your help for this.”

It was clear Jacob wasn’t going to get anything right now. If he wanted to get to the bottom, then he would have to play along. He finally responded with a resentful “fine.”

Relived, Rex began to explain the situation. “Okay, then here’s the plan: I’m transferring all my data and evidence to my Asp in the back. We need to defend this floor until it’s finished, then we can get out of here. The transfer should be done in five minutes, but we should make our way to the ship in four, because once the transfer is completed, it’s wired to send a signal to a stockpile of –”

Moreno, get down!” interrupted Janacek. He thundered down the hall with his weapon ready, took aim and opened fire.

Rex immediately dove for cover and Jacob jumped in front of him to protect him from the incoming rounds.

“Moreno, what the hell are you doing?” he barked.

“Stop, hold your fire!”

“Have you lost it? That man is our target. Get out of my way.”

“He’s not my enemy.” responded Jacob. “What’s so special about that data we’re after?”

“That’s none of your concern. Step aside.”

“I think it is. Who are we working for?”

“It’s not your concern Moreno! You don’t know what you’re doing. Stand down, that’s an order.”

“I don’t take orders form you anymore.” he announced.

Rex stood back up, brandishing a Firestorm shotgun and began spraying shots downrange. Janacek spun around in an instant and bolted away to the staircase, seeking cover from the incoming rounds. Jacob turned his radio back on, realizing that Janacek probably only came to investigate because nobody responded to their sound off. He was just in time to catch their conversation.

“Say again, Janacek? I don’t tolerate bullshit on this line.”

“I repeat, Moreno is working with the enemy.”

“What?”

“How could we be so blind?”

“Traitorous bastard!”

“Alright everyone, new objective. Moreno is marked for capture. I want him alive – if possible.” said Langley with steel in her voice.

Jacob broke into a run after Janacek, turning back to give Rex some instructions. “I’m going to hold them off, I’ll meet you in the ship. And keep her safe.”

He saw Janacek heading towards the descending staircase, and he threw a grenade in that direction. Janacek saw it coming and changed course, running upstairs to the roof instead. Jacob followed him up while the explosive destroyed the staircase, preventing the rest of the team from coming up. He moved as fast as he could, caught up to Janacek, lunging at him with a tackle then tried to subdue him. Jacob still didn’t know enough to justify killing one of the squad, and he wanted to avoid creating any ripples until he knew exactly what was going on.

“Argh, get off!” said Janacek before kicking his gut.

Jacob’s grip on Janacek loosened and he grabbed Janacek’s rifle instead and tossed it off the edge. Janacek reached for his pistol next but Jacob began beating his hand, cracking bones as they were crushed between the ground and his fist. With his oppoent’s trigger hand bust, Jacob eased off, and continued wrestling with his former squad mate.

“I need backup, on the roof.” Janacek’s voice came out of the squad’s headsets.

“Negative, we’ve got a situation.” replied Langley. “We found a massive collection of hardheads down here, rigged to detonate. We’ve got four minutes to bug out, so everyone, double time it back to the ship. We don’t want to be around when this place blows.” Jacob realized that this must have been the stockpile Rex was talking about earlier, before they were rudely interrupted.

Janacek pushed back with a sudden burst of strength and tossed Jacob off to the side. “I’m done playing with you. We’re out of time, and normally I’d follow my orders to bring you in, but today I’m going to disobey them. This isn’t over until I bash your skull in with the pavement.”

Jacob scoffed. “I’d like to see you try.”

They rushed together and clashed, fighting a heated brawl on the roof of the doomed facility. Below, the timer continued to tick down. Three minutes left. The crew of the Artemis retreated to the landing pad, and Rex watched them. Once he was satisfied they weren’t going to interrupt the upload, he hoisted Sam’s body over his shoulders and made his way to the Asp and began warming up the engines once he was inside. Both groups had their eyes on the roof, watching the two battle precariously close to the edge.

Janacek rushed again at Jacob, wrapping his hands around his waist and lifted him up into the air. He staggered as he tried to move both their weights over to the edge. Jacob glanced down and saw the long drop down to the surface and several trees and antennae that protruded out of the ground below. He flung his arms out and shifted his weight back, throwing Janacek off balance and they fell back down on the roof. They scrambled up to face each other when Jacob suddenly realized his hip felt a lot lighter. He looked down, saw his holster was empty, and then quickly searched around for the gun. Janacek raised his arm, revealing that he had taken the pistol when he picked up Jacob.

Time seemed to slow. The gun was going up and up, and soon Jacob would be staring down its muzzle. There was nowhere to run as the roof was devoid of cover. He had no other option, save for one reckless move. He rushed at Janacek before he aligned his sights, closing the gap and Janacek fired wildly, thanks to the extremely close quarters and being forced to use his other, less experienced hand to work the trigger.

Jacob reached Janacek, and without thinking he gave him a hard push. The momentum lifted Janacek off his feet and he went sailing over the edge. He windmilled his arms, desperately trying to break his fall and let out a cry as he accelerated down to the surface until he landed on one of the several antennae below. There was a sickening sound as the antennae impaled him and he slowly slid down the needle.

NO!” shrieked Langley.

Through the radio, Jacob could hear soft, throaty gargles as Janacek fought for life, but soon he let out a sigh as he breathed his last, going limp halfway down the spike. Looking at the landing pad, he saw a figure, who he assumed was Langley, raise her rifle and opened fire, though at this distance it was useless. Being cautious, Jacob dropped to the floor, hiding himself from her sights while their voices crackled through his headset.

“Captain, wait, it’s no use.”

Gunfire, tinny and light echoed from the radio moments before the shots whizzed by.

“Langley, we have to go.”

“No, I can’t leave him behind!”

“We don’t have time!”

“Leave me alone!” she cried.

“Captain, get a hold of yourself! Santiago, Lavoie, secure her.”

The gunfire stopped, and Jacob heard rustling and the sound of armour colliding with armour.

“No! Stop! Don’t touch me!”

“You have to let him go Captain.”

“Let me go! Janacek!”

“He wouldn’t’ve wanted you to die too. You need to be strong, for him.”

“I – I can’t…”

“Get her aboard!”

“No, no…”

“We’re cutting it close. Gillis, punch it!” Within moments, the Artemis’ Will blasted off into the atmosphere, leaving Jacob alone on the surface. Weeping filled the radio, rapidly transitioning to static as the team left the area.

Jacob knew he needed to get clear of the blast radius, and ran to the back of the building to look for the Asp. He recognized the warm glow of idle engines and started running down the stairs and made it down one flight before he remembered the rest were an obliterated pile of rubble thanks to his grenade. There was another set on the other side of the hall, but he feared he wasn’t going to make it and had no idea how much time he had left. He moved past a window, and concerned about getting caught in the explosion, he prepared himself for another reckless manoeuver. He stepped back, did a running jump, and then dove out the window.

He tumbled outside along with a shower of glass and braced himself for the fall. He crashed and rolled several feet on the ground before he forced himself up despite tremendous amounts of pain. He hobbled to the Asp and clumsily boarded the ship. Pain in his lungs flared whenever he took a breath, and he knew several things were definitely broken.

“Rex, I’m here.” he managed.

The ship suddenly ascended and slowly began to tilt its nose to the stars. Rex opened the ship’s intercom and spoke into his microphone.

“What the hell took you so long? Take the scenic route?”

Jacob ignored his remark. “How much time do we have?”

“Enough to avoid becoming barbecue. Hold on to something, this might get a little rough.”

The transfer stalled at 99.9 percent for a moment, and Rex eased the ship to the edge of the signal radius. Without warning it completed, and the cluster of missiles detonated, ejecting flaming chunks of the building into the air. The shockwave swatted the hovering Asp and Rex wrestled with the controls to keep the ship steady. Jacob held on to a safety railing to keep him from getting tossed around and felt the changing pull of gravity with each rotation of the ship.

In the cockpit, Rex was straining to get the ship level, but it was rolling uncontrollably now. He couldn’t tell which way was up, but he saw the altimeter rapidly decreasing and the proximity alarm began beeping furiously. He looked back out the windshield, saw the familiar sight of stars through the constant tumbling, and took the opportunity, jamming the throttle forward and the ship’s engines roared, blasting them into space. They sped away from the surface and into the familiar freedom of the sky, and Rex was grinning from ear to ear, fuelled by adrenaline from their narrow escape.

Woohoo!” he exclaimed, followed by a giddy laugh.

Jacob sat down, relieved to be alive. His headset crackled and he could make out a voice speaking behind a thick layer of static.

“Jacob Moreno… I don’t know if you can hear me. But if you can… this isn’t over. I swear, I will hunt you down, and you’re going to pay for what you’ve done, traitor. You can run, but there’s nowhere you can hide.”

***

Sam opened her eyes a crack as she lay on the warm mattress. Her head had a pounding headache and she slowly lifted herself up to a sitting position. She couldn’t remember what happened or how she got here, but she was glad to be back in her cabin. But something was off and she looked around, trying to put her finger on it. Small details, like the hue of the walls, the brand of mattress and the lack of light were new. Then she realized some of the items here weren’t hers, her own possessions were nowhere to be found and the layout of the room was completely –

This wasn’t her cabin.

She bolted off the bed and looked around. It was a maintenance room of some sort, pipes and wires ran along each wall and it was littered with random knickknacks but mostly empty, except for a small row of data banks nestled in the corner. This wasn’t the Artemis either, but what looked like the interior of an Asp. She struggled to recall how she got here, and ran through the events until she remembered blacking out. Was she taken prisoner by someone? She scanned herself, noting her weapons and helmet were gone, but other than that she seemed to be okay. She walked over to the door and it opened with a quiet hiss, revealing the rest of the ship.

She poked her head out and saw no one. The door was unlocked and there was no guard, so whatever happened, she wasn’t taken prisoner. She could see the cockpit from here, the telltale blue glow of witchspace beyond the window, and two figures sitting in front of the controls. She crept closer, trying to get a better look. One of them looked beaten up and bandaged, and she recognized him as Jacob when she approached. The other, the kidnapper, sat in the pilot’s seat, quiet and unmoving. She stealthily approached from behind and gripped the pilot in a powerful headlock.

“Ack!” he gasped as he struggled to break free.

She tightened her grip around his neck to cut off his air supply. All she had to do was hold him for a little longer then he would pass out.

“Sam, don’t! Let him go.” Jacob was staring at her from the second seat.

“Why?” she asked, eyeing his bandages. “Who is he, and what did he do to you?”

Jacob shook his head. “This wasn’t him. And he’s a friend.”

She didn’t move, and continued to suffocate him.

“Sam. Trust me.”

Sam finally released her grip and took a step back. “What’s going on? Where am I?”

“Patience. Everything will be explained shortly. Isn’t that right, Rex?”

Rex massaged his neck and cleared his throat. “Yeah, yeah. We’re glad you decided to join us,” he said to Sam. “He probably doesn’t look it, but Jacob’s relieved you’re here. I told him I’d rather not explain this any more times than I have to, and I wasn’t going to start until you showed up. First things first though, we should probably get introductions out of the way before we try and kill each other.”

Sam waited silently and Jacob reluctantly nodded.

“I’m Rex, former leader of the Aerater resistance. I’ve been running a group of underground couriers.” He looked at Sam. “You?”

She shrugged. “There’s not much to say. Sam Glover, bounty hunter. I’ve lived on Aerater all my life.”

Jacob took a deep breath and sighed. Sam was watching him and he prepared to tell the truth, bracing for the worst. “I was a grunt for the Aerater rebels. I worked with Rex up until our defeat.” He glanced over at Sam, studying the slight frown that was etched into her face. “You took that really well.”

Her frown became more pronounced. “Why shouldn’t I?”

“I thought you held a grudge against us.”

She held her head in her hands and let out a sigh. “Is that why you never told me anything? Because you thought I’d hate you?”

Jacob’s downcast gaze and silence gave away his answer.

“I don’t believe this. I told you, it was the new ones, the ones that arrived after GalCop left that turned the system to hell. Not you. You were fighting for all of us, for the hope that someday we would all be free. Most people were too scared to join, but the ones with a good head on their shoulders had hope that you would succeed. And we were devastated when Tara’s forces wiped you out.” She paused for a moment before continuing, speaking softly. “You should have told me. I would’ve helped you.” There was a long pause before she asked her last question. “Didn’t you trust me?”

Nobody responded. Jacob and Sam avoided looking at each other and stared blankly at nothing in particular, feeling ashamed, disappointed and embarrassed.

Rex cleared his throat again, breaking the silence. “Well, um…that, uh…now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I think it’s time to bring everyone up to speed.” They turned to face him while Rex thought of a good place to start. “What do you know about David Redman?”

Jacob shrugged. “He’s dead,” he muttered unhelpfully.

“He was a politician for Atbevete,” said Sam. “Highly successful and extremely popular. He was trying to unite Tioranin, Teraed, Atbevete, Aerater and Rigeti in an alliance, but it all fell apart when he tried to assassinate one of his rivals, Tara Harmon. He broke out of GalCop custody and tried to attack her with your help, and blew up the relay with a Q-mine. After that he ran back to Tioranin where he was shot down by bounty hunters.”

“Top marks,” applauded Rex. “A bit oversimplified, but that’s the version that is widely accepted as fact.”

“You mean that’s not true?” asked Jacob, skeptical. “So the thing he blew up just looked and functioned exactly like a communications relay, but it really wasn’t?”

“No,” clarified Rex, “all of that did happen, but the thing people get wrong were his motivations. Contrary to popular belief, he wasn’t driven by a psychotic bloodlust. When he came to us for help, everyone heard that he killed four people and nearly killed Tara too. But he was adamant, convinced he’d been framed. He and his rogue GalCop officer put together a good story, but I seriously doubted it was true. It sounded so surreal, and besides, you know how politicians are, they’ve usually got their mouths and ass switched around. But I let them go up to the relay anyways, because if they were telling the truth, then it would’ve given us more dirt to use against Tara. But everything went sideways, the officer disappeared, the relay blew up, and whatever integrity he had left vanished. Redman went to Tioranin where he was killed, bringing an end to his spree of terror and that’s where the story ends.

“But what if he was telling the truth? What if Redman was framed, and there was a document that explicitly stated every single course of action required to make him take the fall? What if that document was on the relay, and what if he did find such a file, and his last action was to upload it for the entire galaxy to find?” Rex turned around, reached for his ComPad and brought up the file for Jacob and Sam to see. “Because he did – and that’s how we end up here.”

Jacob snatched the device and stared intently at the screen. Sam leaned in, peeking over his shoulder to get a good look.

“There it is. This is the truth, codename Tau Carina Green, and it disproves every single accusation against him and Lieutenant Taylor. The murders: committed by Harmon herself, and the bomb was placed weeks in advance, along with evidence, bribes and the like. All organized by three systems with nothing by selfish intents, they used David Redman as their own scapegoat to dissolve the alliance and preserve their own power. They executed their plan in absolute secrecy, not even their own citizens were aware of the deception.”

“Which systems?” asked Sam.

Rex raised a finger into the air. “Aerater.”

That wasn’t surprising, considering Tara Harmon proved herself to be quite heavily involved.

He extended the next. “Rigeti.”

Since the system was classified as feudal, it made sense that they’d want to hold on to power as well.

Finally, he put up the third and final digit. “Tioranin.”

“What?” exclaimed Jacob, surprised to hear the democracy’s name. “No way. Ross and Redman essentially drafted the alliance by themselves. They were close. No way Ross would do anything like that.”

“That’s what everyone’s supposed to believe.” realized Sam.

Rex nodded. “Everyone was fooled. People who helped Redman genuinely believed that Tara was acting on her own, and that exposing her would fix everything and clear his name. Redman thought he would be safe in Tioranin, but he never expected that Ross would stab him in the back. He orchestrated the entire thing: Redman’s framing and murder, and after his career was in absolute ruins, nobody would risk another alliance, and the three systems joined together. Ross pulled all GalCop fleets into his system, which forced criminals into Aerater and Rigeti so that they could expand their malevolent empire.”

“So… that means…” started Sam.

Jacob finished her train of thought. “The rebel base raid… the countless civilian deaths from incoming criminals… that was all Ross?”

“Indirectly, yes, he was responsible for all of this.” confirmed Rex. “Once I found out, I focused my efforts on all three systems. That’s why I couldn’t help you on Aerater. I had plans on a large scale to try and take them down, so I put together a team of couriers to distribute the information into the systems. Tau Carina Green told us everything we needed about their operation, and if the file were somehow exposed to the public, a data censor would be installed on the Tioranin relay to mask the file from the local population, so I used old-fashioned couriers. If I tried to share the file through the Galactic Network instead, nobody in Tioranin space would be able to see it. So I planted my agents, and when the time was right, they would simultaneously reveal the truth and the citizens would rebel and overwhelm their corrupt leaders.”

“But I forgot something. GalCop can monitor and trace all activity through the Network, and because they’re now controlled by Ross, he can too. By the time I realized my mistake, they were already hunting every single one of my agents. I knew they would be after me soon too, so I grabbed all the evidence I had, started transferring it into the ship and sent out a call for help. Fortunately, you two came along and got us out, we escaped, and now here we are. We’re jumping to Atbevete so we can try and rally their citizens to respond against the STA. Tioranin, Rigeti and Aerater have committed numerous crimes, and they need to pay for their atrocities.”

“STA?” asked Sam.

“Systems Three Alliance. That’s what they call themselves.” replied Rex.

“Why do we need to bother with Atbevete? We can just go to Tioranin and distribute the file there.” said Jacob.

Rex shook his head. “They watch all incoming traffic, and with the data, we wouldn’t last five seconds before getting blasted to bits. How long do you think this bucket can last against two GalCop fleets and a Navy blockade? No, if we’re going to stand a chance, we need backup, which means going outside the STA’s zone of influence. Besides, Ross isn’t the root of the problem, just the sick sack of flesh on top of it all. Once we get to Atbevete, hopefully we can gather support and pressure the STA to dissolve. We’ve still got a couple hours ‘till then, so kick back and rest up. I think we’ve earned it.”


Last edited by my ammo crate on Mon Mar 14, 2016 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Rebellious Three
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:52 am 
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Part 6

Atbevete system space

The Asp dove straight for the planet’s surface once it arrived in the system, passing the behemoths guarding the spacelane. Jacob couldn’t help but gape as they passed by the massive ships and watched the small cluster of Vipers that buzzed around the giants, on standby in case of an emergency. The behemoths were freckled with black spots, scorched from laser fire and looked heavily battle-scarred. Their little craft sped along their path, leaving the towering ships behind, and Jacob noted a peculiar lack of GalCop ships in the system. It was odd, considering it was within striking distance of two highly active criminal hotspots.

Rex eased the ship into the atmosphere and navigated the Asp to the central government building. It was nestled within a ring of skyscrapers which decreased in height the closer they were to the central office. The building shared the same dull, grey, utilitarian aesthetic as the rest of the city, and while it still loomed above the nearby high-rises, it looked short and squat, making it appear somewhat inelegant.

“Warning: you are entering Atbevete government airspace. This is a restricted area. Divert your course immediately.”

Rex ignored their automated warning and continued trying to hail the confederacy’s head office.

“You are not authorized for approach. Further disregard of protocol will result in armed response.”

“Well, they seem like a friendly bunch.” he muttered to himself.

Large anti-aircraft sentry cannons whirred to life and angled up at the lone Asp, ready to fire.

“Uh, Rex?” Jacob pointed at the cannons.

“I see ‘em, I see ‘em.” He drummed his fingers impatiently. “Nobody’s picking up the damn phone.”

“Are you sure they’re even working today? Maybe it’s a holiday.”

“Due to repeated violations, your ship has been marked for imminent termination,” the system announced.

The guns whined and raised in pitch as they prepared to fire, and their deadly hum could be heard from inside the ship. Rex dropped the attempt to contact the building directly and hastily began broadcasting on the open channel.

“Wait, don’t shoot! We don’t mean any harm. We have important information regarding David Redman.”

The cannons continued to track the ship, but their wail slowly subsided. The radio crackled as someone replied to their broadcast.

“Incoming vessel, you have clearance to land at docking bay seven. Be advised, you will be fined for previous infractions. Any further hostile actions and you will be shot. Failure to follow standard procedure will result in you being shot.”

“Roger that.” Rex turned off the microphone and swiveled the chair to face Jacob. “There we go. Piece of cake.”

“How did you know they’d let us in?”

“The Atbevete government are suckers for anything about Redman. When the galaxy blamed him for those crimes, Atbevete’s reputation took a steep dive as well. They tried to distance themselves from any of his work to avoid the embarrassment, but I’m sure that if they got their hands on any information that proves he wasn’t a violent lunatic, they would’ve hit the jackpot.”

They entered the hangar and she ship docked snugly inside. The trio left the Asp and were greeted by a line of soldiers who instantly took aim once they were in sight.

“Hands up! Don’t move!”

“What the hell is this?” demanded Rex as the guards approached.

“Because of your unauthorized arrival, you will be subject to a search to ensure the safety of everyone in this building. Do not resist or you will be shot.”

They were patted down while troops searched the interior of the Asp, confiscating their weapons. Once they were satisfied that there was nothing dangerous in their possession, the leader of the guards stepped forward.

“Where’s the information?” he asked.

Rex motioned towards the Asp. “It’s stored inside the ship.”

The guard extended a hand. “Give it here. Then you can be on your way.”

Rex frowned. “I don’t think you understand. This is critical information, and I’m going to deliver that data personally.”

“You’re in no position to make demands.” retorted the guard. “You should be thankful we didn’t blast you out of the sky. Don’t push your luck.”

Rex was unfazed by their empty threats. “You wouldn’t dare. I’ll give the data to your government myself or they won’t get it at all.”

“That’s not going to happen. We checked your IDs and we know who you are. You’re wanted for affiliating with the Aerater rebellion, and our government doesn’t negotiate with your kind. You either give it to us and you can leave without a scratch, or we arrest you and take the data anyway.”

Jacob stepped up beside Rex. His stubbornness was getting them nowhere and they needed another approach. “If you identified us, then you know that our fight isn’t with you, but against Aerater. We wouldn’t leave and risk turning ourselves in at another system unless it was for something important.”

The soldiers remained steadfast as they kept their guns trained on their unwelcome guests.

“We were one of the last people to see Redman alive.” Jacob continued. “We know what nobody else does, so you should listen to what we have to say.”

The guard’s hand flew to his earpiece and furrowed his brow as orders descended from up high. At last, he spoke in grudging tones. “Well, it sounds like someone up there’s interested in what you’ve got. The Atbevete government is granting you temporary access to the building, but only under armed supervision. We will escort you to the Council where you can present your data.”

They barely gave Rex enough time to grab the files before they were whisked down the grey corridors. The guards kept the three of them inside their formation to ensure they didn’t sneak off.

Rex glanced at Sam and Jacob and spoke in a hushed whisper. “See? Piece of cake.”

“Piece of cake, my ass.” muttered Jacob while Sam rolled her eyes.

They walked into a large chamber where seven officials sat behind a long table. They were turned towards each other and were conversing amongst themselves until the door opened and the group entered. Their chatter simmered down and they faced them, eyeing them with their cool gaze. The official in the centre sat behind a large elevated podium and the others were split evenly on either side. The one behind the podium leaned in and the Council perked up in anticipation.

“On behalf of the Atbevete government, we welcome you to our system. I will speak for the people of Atbevete and our governing body. Now, I understand you have some information for us.”

Rex took a step. “Yes, I have data on David Redman that I’m sure you’ll want to hear.” He produced a drive and inserted it into the terminal before him.

Rex decided that the best approach to bring them over to his side would be to kick off with the big guns. There was no point in dancing around the issue and he wasn’t planning on sugar-coating it for anyone, but he couldn’t resist a little dramatic build-up to the revelation. The officials looked down at their displays and studied the files that appeared. Countless documents, charts and logs of the Teraed Region flew by as they were copied and delivered to their terminals.

“Over the past few weeks, after Redman’s death, I searched for every detail I could find leading up to his final moments. All I could find were official reports, written well after the event and drawing the same conclusion from the same scattered points of common knowledge, stating that David Redman was a menace. But I couldn’t find any conflicting information or additional details… until I discovered one loose thread. I found a hairline fracture and tore the whole thing apart.” He brought up the file for all of them to see. “This is what we brought. This is the truth, proof that David Redman was innocent and the data to back it up. This document clearly states what–”

The official raised his hand, cutting Rex off. “We are already aware of the Tau Carina Green papers and the STA.”

“What?” said Rex, shocked. His train of thought came screeching to a halt and he stared at them, thinking of what to say. “You knew?”

The speaker nodded. “Tioranin censorship doesn’t reach this far. We’ve been sitting on that data for some time.”

“You knew?” Rex repeated. “You knew what Ross planned to do and you didn’t do anything?” He was livid. “Our system was invaded by criminals and you did nothing!?”

“Silence!” bellowed an official. “We’re in no condition to fight. You saw yourselves when you came into the system. Did you see GalCop anywhere?”

The speaker continued his peer’s outburst, though in more composed tones. “Pirates show up at our borders every day to raid our ships and bombard our fleet. GalCop presence is spread dangerously thin, and we cannot afford to divert our ships to save some – second class system and risk leaving our world vulnerable.”

“You could have warned us! You should have done something!”

An official on the side shook his head. “Impossible. By the time we discovered the file, Ross’ plan was already complete. We were too late to stop it.”

Another spoke. “And because of your inability to repel the attackers, the enemy is now at our doorstep. Traders won’t risk warping in while those bloodthirsty savages lie just outside our system. Our supplies are dwindling, our fleet is on the verge of collapse and our people are suffering. All because you allowed them to secure a foothold.”

“Oh, that’s rich.” Rex spat. “So this is all somehow our fault? Our fault that Tara, a participant in this conspiracy, wanted this to happen?”

“Yes. You had several opportunities to remove Harmon from her throne, but you didn’t. It’s your fault you squandered every chance you got.”

“We didn’t come here to point fingers.” interrupted Sam. “We came here to ask for help. All the systems are in distress, not just Atbevete, and something needs to be done.”

“We agree,” replied the speaker, “but this does not concern you. This is a matter strictly between Atbevete and Tioranin. Ross manipulated Redman to tarnish the reputation of Atbevete and our citizens want redemption. They demand to see justice for his treachery.”

“Then let us help. You said so yourself, you’re in no position to take action.” Jacob reminded them.

The official declined. “No. This is our battle to fight, and ours alone.”

“But you’re not alone. Every system has been hit, and we need to band together to show the galaxy that we will not stand for this.”

One of the officials shuffled in her seat as she tried to get comfortable. Her nametag, unlike the others, was glossy and her suit looked crisp and new. She was the newest member of the Council had been elected to fill the gap left by David Redman.

“Perhaps it is time we considered contacting others to aid us.” she said.

Several officials shook their heads and sighed with disapproval.

“Miss Demarco, I know you’re still new here, so I’ll remind you just once.” someone replied from the opposite end of the table. “We are an independent system.” He punctuated his words by pounding a fist on the table with each syllable. “We don’t need help to solve our own problems.”

“Independent or not, I think it has become clear that we are not the only ones affected by the STA.” she retorted. “We are all victims, and if we are to respond, we cannot stand alone.”

The officials broke out into murmurs and attempted to suppress their heated arguments. Jacob watched as they hissed at each other and shook their fists angrily. They tried to act professional in front of the three of them, but it didn’t take long before the thought was pushed away and the intensity of the room began to rise.

The speaker stood up, gripping the podium as he spoke to their visitors. “It appears we have an important matter to discuss. Please, step outside while we reach a consensus.”

Sam reluctantly turned and left, while Jacob followed. He tugged on Rex’s sleeve to pull him along, who was still seething from the exchange. Once they were outside, the door whooshed closed and muffled the voices behind its thick walls.

*

Coriolis station, Atbevete system space

The trip up to the station was mercifully brief, meaning there was little downtime before they got started. As they flew skyward, Jacob could see stars out of the viewports as the atmosphere rapidly thinned and revealed the dark canvas of space. He could see the spacelane, the two battered behemoths that stood guard and he got a good look at the Teraed Government frigate with its own behemoth escorts as they warped in and lumbered towards the station.

The Atbevete representative arrived at the station first and waited in the conference room. The Teraed officials docked shortly afterwards and made their way in as well. Jacob, Sam and Rex sat on the side and silently watched as the two parties exchanged curt greetings and planted themselves on opposite sides of the room. GalCop officers could be heard outside as they patrolled the hallway, and more were stationed inside to stand guard. Jacob glanced at the planetary representatives, then at the officers. He was aware of where they were and why they had chosen to meet here.

It was neutral ground.

This entire meeting seemed doomed from the start. The Council took a long time to sort themselves out, and they finally announced that they would seek outside aid, though the decision was only made by a narrow 4-3 vote. Then, out of all the systems they contacted, only one, Teraed, responded, and to make matters worse, they refused to meet on Atbevete soil. After they both ruled out the others’ systems and ships, they agreed they would meet on GalCop property, which was belonged to no system.

Now they kept themselves at an arm’s length and held back their interactions to sizing up each other from afar, waiting for someone to make the first move. The mental friction between them created a noticeable tension in the room.

“Will anyone else be joining us?” asked Jacob, though he already knew the answer.

“Unfortunately, no. The other systems are too busy playing politics.” muttered the Atbevete delegate, representative Demarco.

“What madam Demarco means is that they’re all watching out for their own ass.” elaborated Ambassador Blake. “Tioranin is the center of power in this sector, and none of the other systems dare oppose Ross. However, if we go through with this, then they’ll give us their ‘moral support’.” The last two words were spoken with utter contempt.

“And so if we fail, then the systems stay on Tioranin’s good side.” finished Demarco. “As far as they’re concerned, this is our problem.”

“So, how do we proceed?” asked Rex.

“You want to respond against the STA.” said Blake. “We can offer our ships to your fleet and bolster our firepower.”

“Whoa, hold up.” Jacob looked at both parties. “Who said anything about firepower? I thought we were just planning to call out the STA and pressure them into dissolving.”

A highly decorated officer standing beside Blake quickly exhaled through his nose, amused by Jacob’s ignorance.

Demarco shook her head. “Our citizens share a collective bloodlust after being wronged by the STA. Tioranin will not respond to our communications, and there is no sense trying to reason with Aerater or Rigeti. There is only one course of action that we can take that they will not ignore. War is inevitable.”

Blake nodded his head in agreement as he continued. “I can provide my system’s ships and GalCop fleet, but Teraed will require something in return.”

She squinted at him. “What are you on about, Blake? This isn’t a trade, this is a collaborative effort. ”

Blake chuckled. “As if you’re doing it from the goodness of your heart. It’s obvious this is personal, your system has a bone to pick with Ross ever since he threw dirt all over your golden boy. But Teraed doesn’t get anything after we put our necks on the line to secure your own vendetta.”

“What are your terms?” Demarco narrowed her eyes. She wanted to hear Blake’s demands, though made no promises they would happen.

“We want capital benefits. Exclusive trade deals, mining contracts, reduced import fees and diplomatic hubs.”

“You’re out of your mind. The Cooperative won’t grant you sector capital status just because of this one thing. Those privileges are reserved for the most stable system, and that falls to Tioranin, which is classed as a democracy. You’re constantly on the brink of a civil war, you really think they’ll give it to you, just because you asked?”

“Atbevete came to us for help. I think we deserve something for our trouble.”

“Forget it. I’ve seen the reports on the state of your fleets. They’re barely able to match ours, and the price you’re asking isn’t worth any of the ships you can offer. We don’t need your help. Atbevete can handle this ourselves.”

Blake raised a finger. “Ah, but those are only the registered ships GalCop is aware of.”

“Meaning?” asked Demarco.

“When GalCop withdrew from Aerater and Rigeti, we were preparing for a response, but based on the damage our behemoths took simply in the defence of our system, it became obvious that they were insufficient to deal with the heightened criminal presence. Fortunately, our research division was developing an advanced prototype flagship to deal with such an enemy threat. When we finished construction, initial tests indicate that she is unmatched by all other known crafts. This is our equalizer. Teraed has been preparing for an assault like this, and now is the time to strike. War is on the horizon, and we will meet it head-on, regardless whether or not Atbevete will fight by our side.”

Demarco hesitated. If Teraed truly did have the power to turn the odds in their favour, then they would be able to claim all the glory and fame for themselves if they succeeded. But the chance of him having such an ace was extremely slim. Something flagship-class required cutting edge facilities, but she knew something about the Teraed system that could easily dismiss Blake’s claim and she sighed inwardly, relieved at the thought.

She scoffed. “You’re bluffing. Teraed doesn’t have any dry-docks advanced enough for such a project.”

Blake smiled. “I never said anything about dry-docks. Besides, our prototype wouldn’t even fit in one if we tried.”

“But without the size restrictions enforced by galactic dry-docks…” Demarco’s jaw almost touched the floor. “Impossible! How big is this ship?”

“It’s massive. She’s the ultimate war machine. With our combined strength, we can rival the STA and bring the fight to them. All that matters now, is whether you’re with us or not.”

“I don’t believe you. If you want us to work together, you need to prove that this ship of yours exists.”

“Very well.” shrugged Blake. He gestured to the man at his side and the officer spoke into a radio.

“This is Admiral Kader. Bring her in.”

The others turned to the viewport and they looked at the void of space. They waited, staring outside for several minutes. Their anticipation melted into skepticism and disappointment with every passing moment. Demarco turned to Blake and shook her head.

“I knew you were lying.”

Blake continued looking out the window intently. “Patience. We may be technologically superior to you, but instantaneous warping is still just beyond our reach.”

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a massive wedge-shaped object popped into existence, blotting out distant pinpoints of light as it emerged through an equally large witchspace portal. It loomed over the behemoths and they hastily swerved over to the side to avoid a collision. It moved at a rapid pace, closing the distance between it and the station. Heavy plasma cannons dotted its sides, and a split down the front of the ship gave way to its main cannon, a large barrel half a kilometer in diameter. The insignia of the Teraed system was engraved proudly onto its side, and was seen clearly by all the ships who passed. The other ships in the spacelane flew aside and their pilots gaped as the colossal ship thundered past.

“There she is: the Horizon.” Blake announced proudly. “A prototype for the next generation of law enforcement battleships. Four times larger than a standard behemoth and ten times as deadly, she is not to be trifled with. Aboard her are an experienced crew and a belly full of our finest troops. The sight of her will surely make Tioranin tremble in fear.”

“Then this is it.” said Rex, nearly jumping with anticipation. “We’ve got our fleet, and from here on out, we’re allies. We’re all we’ve got, so we can’t afford to be at each other’s throats. Mobilize your troops, it’s time for action.”

*

Atbevete system space

“I don’t trust them.”

Jacob followed Rex through the Horizon’s corridors and turned to Sam as the voiced her thoughts.

“Why not?” he asked.

“They’re all power hungry animals.” muttered Rex in agreement. “Think about it: Tioranin is the central diplomatic power here and now, it’s become a galactic target. If we win – if – and Tioranin falls, what do you think will happen next?” He paused, but didn’t give anyone enough time to respond, “There’s going to be a power vacuum. Someone’s going to want to fill that in. Maybe Atbevete really does want nothing other than revenge, but it’s entirely possible they won’t stop there. They’ve tasted glory when Redman was at his peak, but now they might try and top that by seizing Tioranin’s power for themselves.

“Teraed was a little blunter with their intentions, and it’s clear they want a piece of Tioranin as well. But, if they both go after the crown, then this coalition will quickly tear itself apart. One war right after another – this won’t end well for anyone, and our sector’s already depleted forces will have to clash once more. We’ll be extremely vulnerable, even more so than we are now, while the STA is closing in.”

“So what are we supposed to do, not fight back?” questioned Jacob.

“No, the STA needs to be stopped.” Sam declared.

Rex nodded. “Innocents are on the line and we need to fight to save them, but the price we’ll have to pay after will be high. Tackle one hurdle at a time, but stay prepared for whatever follows.”

They stopped at a door and it swiftly parted to grant them access and they strode into the war room. Crewmen dashed from station to station and they performed checks with the other ships to ensure they were all coordinated. GalCop, Teraed and Atbevete military brass circled around a holographic map of Tioranin while they planned their attack. Rex pushed his way between them and took a quick look at their hologram. Having never worked with this kind of technology, he stared intently as he struggled to decipher it until he finally caved in and asked.

“So, what’s the plan?”

One of the generals suppressed a snicker like it was the simplest question in the galaxy. Admiral Kader faced him and answered his question.

“It’s straightforward and direct. Nothing fancy, no funny business. Our combined fleets warp in together and rush Tioranin’s defences before they can react. The Teraed fleet will push to secure the Coriolis station, and Atbevete forces will sweep around to clean out any resistance. After we’ve dug in, phase two begins, and we deploy ground troops to secure the capital.”

Rex raised an eyebrow. “That’s your plan?”

They nodded proudly.

“It’s suicide.” he stated. “They have two GalCop fleets and a Navy blockade, we have a mashup of leftovers. They outnumber us three to one.”

A general waved his hand dismissively. “Numbers won’t mean anything for them when we show up with the largest warship in the galaxy.”

“The ship’s impressive, I’ll admit it, but I doubt she’s invincible. Against their numbers, we don’t stand a chance. The instant we start our attack, the other systems will be alerted and they’ll mobilize to bolster Tioranin’s defence. Our fleet won’t last against five combined forces.”

“You think a handful of pirate ships are going to stop us? They’ll be crushed against our might.”

An officer cocked his head to the side. “What would you suggest we do?”

Rex stepped closer to the hologram and studied it again. “Tioranin’s defences are too fortified to take down before the other systems can jump in. A direct assault won’t be enough. But the other systems…” An officer picked up his hint and quickly zoomed out to the sector map. Rex pointed at Rigeti and Aerater and continued. “…they’re weak. They don’t have an organized defence and we can strike them down with ease.”

“What are you suggesting?” asked Kader impatiently.

“Divide and conquer. We hit them fast and hard, and before anyone realizes what’s happened, Tioranin will be left alone without any backup. If we fight them all at once, we’ll be overwhelmed, but take them on one at a time, and we might stand a chance.”

“That’s out of the question. We pulled every armed ship we have to make this fleet. Our systems are defenceless and we can’t risk leaving our homeworlds exposed while we parade around the galaxy. Jeremy Ross is our priority target, and we can’t afford to direct our ships anywhere other than Tioranin.”

Rex stared down Kader. “We can’t afford to be reckless about this either. We only have one chance, and if we brute force our way through, we’ll lose. We need to play smart.”

“You want us to put our own citizens on the line to fight some pirates?” Kader’s voice was thick with incredulity.

A GalCop officer stepped beside Rex. “Not just pirates. There are innocents on those systems who need our help. We aren’t fighting just for Teraed and Atbevete, but for all five systems. This victory won’t come easily, and we will need to make sacrifices for the greater good.”

The other military officials nodded in support of Rex. Kader glanced disapprovingly at his peers.

“Fine,” he said, “but I think this is a mistake. Set coordinates for the Rigeti system. Tell your ships to prepare for witchspace jump and get your pilots battle-ready.”

“Yes Admiral.” they said in unison before they left.

The officers split off to their own stations and Kader sat on the bridge of the Horizon. He watched as the crew scrambled below him and the ship broadcast the countdown to the fleet in its robotic tones. Suddenly a massive blue portal tore open in front of the ship’s bow and the Teraed-Aerater combined fleet disappeared one by one. Blue light consumed the ship and they were off, speeding towards Rigeti on their titanic thrusters.

Hit them fast and hard,
echoed Kader as he formed his plan of attack. That, I can do. No recklessness, no risks. After I strike them down, they won’t be able to get back up.


Last edited by my ammo crate on Mon May 09, 2016 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Rebellious Three
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:53 am 
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Part 7

Rigeti system space

The behemoth lazily circled the planet once more while its pirate escorts followed in a rough V formation. Patrols were dull, routine and unexciting. The crew of the behemoth were itching to use the craft’s broadsides for more than just intimidation, but the monarchy insisted that they kept their prize within the safety of their system. And so, the ship once known as Steel Jury circled Rigeti day after day, prominently displaying its new colours and name. Both were roughly etched into the side of the behemoth’s hull, which was now proudly called the Steel Bandit.

A transmission from the surface suddenly reached the Bandit, and the pirate captain listened to the broadcast.

“Listen here, all pilots: we weren’t expecting any visitors today, but the beacon’s going crazy. It’s picking up lots of energy readings. Big ones too, looks like someone’s gonna try and attack us. Get your asses up there and give ‘em a warm welcome, why don’t cha?”

“Hell yeah! Don’t have to tell me twice.” whooped the captain.

The behemoth lurched forward, escorts in tow as they sped towards the beacon while thousands of fighters lifted off the planet’s surface. Looking behind, the captain saw a comforting cloud of dark ships streaking towards the marker as well. Turning forward with a grin, the captain had no idea who was coming through the portal, but whoever it was, they were in for a nasty surprise.

The most eager ships darted to the front and waited for the intruders to appear while the Steel Bandit nestled itself behind several rows of fighters and warmed up its broadside cannons. Every last fighter was jittering in anticipation, excited to have an opportunity to spill some blood and break up the dull routine of patrols. They were prepared to fire on the first thing that dropped out of witchspace, but when the portal finally opened, their confidence vaporized and the pilots nearly soiled themselves in terror.

The first wave of pirates were immediately flattened when the rift opened. Others spun their ships one hundred and eighty degrees and opened the throttle to increase the distance from themselves from whatever the hell just came out of witchspace. Dozens of engine streaks trailed behind them as they injected fuel into their engines, and the comms were being flooded with chatter.

“What the hell is that?”

“Get away, run for your lives!”

“Oh shit, shit, shit!”

“We’re doomed!”

“THEY’VE WEAPONIZED ASTEROIDS!”

The Steel Bandit held its ground, mostly due to the fact that its crew was petrified with fear. Something large dwarfed over the behemoth and the object filled the entire viewport. The radio crackled once more and the command post on the surface hailed the ship.

“What’s goin’ on out there?”

The captain fumbled with the ship’s controls to try and hastily respond. “I don’t know, they just dropped something massive on us! I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“What is it? Thargoids?”

GalCop frigates and Viper fighters quickly overtook the large object and opened fire on the fleeing ships.

“It’s GalCop, it’s GalCop!” shrieked the captain in surprise. “Get everyone out here! We’re under attack!”

A pirate stationed at one of the consoles turned to the captain with a panicked look. “Captain, it’s coming straight for us!”

The captain’s arms flailed in alarm. “Turn the ship around! Get us out of here!”

As the Steel Bandit began to change direction, the object began to accelerate towards them. It was outside the view of the bridge, and without being able to see it, the crew had to rely on the ship’s radar for its position. Simply hearing the distances being called out and the blip approaching was not reassuring for the behemoth’s occupants. The crew member shouting the distances became more and more terrified as the numbers steadily decreased.

“Five kilometers…four point five…four kilometers…three point five…three…”

“We’re not going to make it!” someone shrieked.

“…two kilometers…one kilometer…” The behemoth’s bow was almost perpendicular to the approaching mass.

“Brace for impact!”

“…five hundred meters! Two hundred!”

Before the captain could come up with a set of orders, the Horizon plowed straight into the stationary behemoth. Its reinforced bow easily sheared the hijacked ship in two and the Steel Bandit offered no resistance, barely slowing the colossal ship down as it steamrolled through the pirate forces. On the bridge, Fleet Admiral Kader wore a satisfactory smirk as he saw chunks of the T-boned behemoth drift by and the other ships flee before him.

“Status report.” he barked.

“Hull damage is negligible, captain. Shields are holding.”

“We are green across the board. All systems nominal, sir.”

He leaned back in his swivel chair, his grin broadening as he did. He turned to his radio and spoke into the fleet’s encrypted communications channel for his set of orders. “All ships, press the attack, don’t give them any room to breathe.”

Jacob watched the battle unfold from the observation deck of the Horizon. Laser fire streaked through the void, and the retreating Rigeti defenders were instantly obliterated whenever a plasma blast connected with their ships. The pirates tried to return fire but their forces were unable to counter the sheer volume of incoming lasers. Scattered dogfights broke out on the sides, but the pirates quickly gave up their ground when the unstoppable combined fleet rumbled by. The enemy ships popped like balloons and they spewed scrap everywhere where they exploded, and the Coalition fleet relentlessly pursued the enemy ships while they fled back to the planet.

Sam stepped beside him, watching the display in silent awe. Explosions went off around the viewport and provided additional, random illumination to the room.

“Wow,” she managed under her breath, “this is one hell of a ship.”

Jacob nodded. “Look at them. They don’t stand a chance.”

“Good thing she’s on our side. I’d hate to be out there.”

Jacob nodded absently as his thoughts began to drift and looked away from the battle, as the constant destruction was beginning to dull his senses. The Horizon was indeed massive, and its engineers had been toying with the name Gargantuan-class for the unrevealed flagship. He was amazed that something of this size was kept secret for however long it was in construction. He brushed his hand against the room’s frame and turned to Sam.

“How long do you think it took to build something like this?”

She shrugged while she continued to stare out the window. “I don’t know. Years, probably.”

He looked thoughtful as she confirmed his estimate. No matter how long it took to assemble the ship, it still looked sleek, modern and filled to the brim with cutting edge technology. Explosions outside brought him back to the present and he looked out to see the fresh wave of devastation the ship was inflicting. Not to forget advanced weaponry, he added. He watched as another wave of ships was vaporized with ease by the Horizon’s cannons. Was all this really necessary to keep the peace? Jacob couldn’t answer, but he felt doubtful.

The fleet charged on, slowly approaching the planet. The defenders put up a feeble counterattack to repel their invaders, but the advancing ships easily swatted their fighters aside. Kader watched the distant orb slowly swell until he could begin to make out the features on its surface. He drummed his fingers impatiently on his seat. He didn’t want to spend any more time here than was absolutely needed.

“What’s our distance to the target?”

“Two hundred fifty kilometers and closing.” replied a crewman.

They weren’t moving fast enough, Kader decided as he turned to his pilots. “We need to pick up the pace. Give her everything she’s got, let’s see how hard we can push her.”

The Horizon’s exhaust transformed into an angry orange as fuel was dumped into the engines, and the sudden amounts of additional energy overpowered the standard, clean blue flame. The behemoths at its side injected as well, speeding up to match their surging flagship. They barreled towards Rigeti and Kader watched their distance slowly tick down. The enemy ships dug in and tried to oppose the fleet but it was useless. Their formations were blasted apart by plasma cannons and the stragglers were chased off by Vipers. The ships powered through.

“One hundred kilometers! Sir, we have passed the threshold. We are within optimal range.”

Kader spoke on the fleet-wide channel. “All fighters, disengage and retreat. Fall back.” The Vipers immediately returned and dashed behind the safety of their parent ships.

“Capital in sight.” Someone announced.

Satisfied the area was clear, Kader spoke to his gunners. “Fire when ready.”

A low hum began and slowly raised in pitch. Jacob looked up at the sound and he and Sam spun around to try and pinpoint the source.

“What is that? Is that us?” she asked.

The sound grew louder and louder, changing from a hum to a whine, and when Jacob looked out the viewport again, he could see the nose of the ship was glowing. He realized they were powering up the main cannon and he scanned the void, searching for their target. Scattered clusters of pirate ships stood between them and the system, and he couldn’t find anything worth firing on, especially since they seemed to be chewing through the pirate numbers with ease. Suddenly the realization dawned on him and his eyes widened.

They would never… they would never consider…

But it was too late to do anything. The nose of the Horizon emitted a glaring blue light, and the whine seemed to reach its peak.

“Oh no.”

The ship’s frame shuddered from the stress and its internal systems seemed to screech from the weapon’s first legitimate use, and the grating sound sent cold shivers down Jacob’s spine. The observation deck rattled noisily from the weapon as the ship unleashed its payload and a round five kilometers in diameter ejected out of the magnetically accelerated barrel and into the planet below. The glowing bolt blinded him and Sam, but they couldn’t tear their eyes away from the window, partly out of shock and from a morbid curiosity as they tried to catch glimpses of the planet before its impending bombardment.

Pirates unlucky enough to wander into the path of the shot immediately disappeared, and lightning arced into nearby ships, overloading and crippling their systems. The others watched in paralytic dread as it blazed through the void then the sky, emitting a sonic boom as it pierced the atmosphere and detonated on the surface. A surge of energy rippled across the planet, destroying everything in its path, while those in orbit could hear screams broadcast from the surface moments before they cut out into static. They couldn’t believe their eyes. Their empire, which stood strong and proud, seemingly untouchable was brought to its knees in a matter of seconds. The battle was over, and they had been defeated. Once the surviving pilots realized this, they woke themselves from their terrified stupor and warped out of the system. One by one they fled until Rigeti remained, alone and abandoned to burn.

Once the energy dissipated, Kader leaned in to get a better look at its effects. The hemisphere facing them was now blackened and charred, and glowing cracks spider-webbed across its surface as magma broke through the fissures. Smoke blew away from the epicenter and drifted to the other side where they began to obscure the sky above, eclipsing the sun behind a cloud of dust. The side that was blasted by the cannon was reduced to ash, nothing but a dead, molten wasteland. Kader couldn’t’ve asked for a better result.

“I think we can call that a successful firing test.” he congratulated the crew. He opened the channel and spoke to the fleet. “All ships, lock on to Aerater coordinates. Standby for witchspace jump.”

Fifteen seconds later, the combined fleet was gone, speeding towards their next destination. The blue portals they left behind were the only thing illuminating the scorched world below.

***

“What the hell were you thinking?” Rex demanded.

“My job.” retorted Kader. “We’re at war. We can’t show our enemy any weakness.”

Jacob and Sam arrived at the war room to see Rex and Kader in a heated argument. The other officers stood beside them and watched them wearily.

Rex pointed an accusing finger at the holographic display. “You just nuked half a planet! How is that part of your job?”

“A third.” he corrected. “And this is my job. This is the Horizon’s first field test, and it’s my duty to make sure all her systems are functioning properly.”

“Does that include annihilating millions of people, you psychotic bastard?”

Kader looked at him with fury in his eyes. “I don’t have to explain myself to barbaric scum like you. I am the commander of this fleet, which I’ll remind you, you are part of because of my goodwill, so you will treat me with respect.”

Rex brushed his comment aside. “There were innocents down there. Civilians.”

“Rigeti was an STA stronghold, teeming with criminals. Any innocents on the surface were few and far between.”

“Let me guess, it was a ‘necessary sacrifice’.” mocked Rex.

“We started this fight at a disadvantage. We all knew that. If we want a chance at success, then we can’t allow petty sentiments to bog us down. Every second we waste is another Tioranin gets to prepare for our attack. We need to be efficient and take out Ross’ allies before he realizes nobody’s coming to save him. That was your intention, wasn’t it?” He walked over to the hologram of the burning Rigeti. “Criminals won’t listen to authority, but they’ll respond to power. This wasn’t just to knock down Rigeti’s monarchy, but also to send a message, showing that it’s pointless to resist. Anyone foolish enough to side with the STA after this only has themselves to blame when we drive them into the ground.”

The GalCop officer challenged Kader. “This doesn’t excuse your actions, Admiral. Mass murder of civilians…this is a serious crime.”

“You can’t prove there were any innocents down there.”

“I have enough reason to believe that there were.”

He scoffed at the officer. “So what are you going to do? Arrest me? For doing what’s necessary?”

“Y’know,” said the officer as he stepped towards him with a pair of handcuffs, “that’s not a bad idea.”

Kader sneered when the other military officers didn’t offer any protest.

“Admiral, under the authority of GalCop, you’re under arrest. You are relived from duty.” announced the officer smugly. He gave Kader a good shove and two guards lead him to the exit.

“There’s only one way to win this,” Kader declared as he passed the others, “and that’s through aggressive, unrelenting power. Take that away, take me away, and you’ve jeopardized our entire effort. When our fleet falls, I’ll be the first to say that I told you so.”

Once Kader was whisked away, the officers turned to each other and eyed each other anxiously.

“Now what?” one of them asked. “Admiral Kader might’ve been ruthless, but his tactics were effective. How do you expect to tackle Aerater, especially now that they most likely received an advance warning?”

“That’s easy,” said Rex, “I’ve fought on Aerater for ten years. I know a thing or two when it comes to my home turf.” He walked next the hologram and met each of the officers’ gaze. “We’ll do this our way and we’ll do it right. The main cannon is off limits. No mega railguns of doom, we’re not here to commit genocide, but to put an end to the STA.”

The officers murmured in agreement, and Rex changed the hologram to the surface of Aerater.

“Aerater is led by Tara Harmon, the system’s self-proclaimed ruler who operates from a citadel tucked inside the safety of her own capital city. The other side is a mess of lesser factions, but that’s not our priority. Harmon is the link to the STA in this system, and once she’s taken down, the STA will withdraw from the area.”

“A concentrated, surgical strike.” A general nodded. “That’s it then. We’ll organize a ground assault and focus our forces on the citadel to secure the HVT.”

“Rex, you’re the most familiar with the system, would you like to lead the attack?”

Rex bowed his head slightly. “I’d be my pleasure.”

“What about the fleet? Who will command the ships?”

Rex looked at the officer. “I nominate the GalCopper. I think you have a pretty good idea of what you’re doing.”

He smirked at the jab. “I’m sure there’s someone else more qualified.” he said, shaking his head modestly. “Well, I mean, if no one else will…”

The others didn’t protest, and one spoke approvingly. “We await your orders, sir.”

He nodded and took a deep breath. “Okay.” He paused, closing his eyes for a moment and collecting his thoughts. “Our fleet is about to drop out of witchspace anytime now. We have until then to plan our assault, so I suggest we get started.” He dismissed the officers and they returned to their stations to prepare their offensive.

Rex turned to Jacob and put a hand on his shoulder. “Gear up.”

“What do you need me for?” he asked, and Rex replied with a grin.

“We’re about to touch down on Aerater, guns blazing and bring the fight to Tara once and for all. When that happens, I want you by my side. Think you’re up for it?”

Jacob nodded. The two of them had waited years for this moment. “Absolutely.”

“Good.” Rex gave him a friendly clap on the arm. “We’re going home.”


Last edited by my ammo crate on Mon May 16, 2016 6:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Rebellious Three
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:53 am 
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Part 8

Aerater system space

The Horizon arrived seconds after the other ships, and was treated with a clear view of the ongoing skirmish. The fleet was busy cleaning up survivors from the Rigeti attack and the combined efforts of the frigates and Vipers swiftly shot down the handful of fighters. Once they were finished, they directed their attention to Aerater, guns ready to take on the second wave of hostile crafts. Instead, the Coalition fleet moved down the empty spacelane, which was surprisingly devoid of activity. There wasn’t a single ship, hostile or civilian to oppose their advance.

“This is Acting Fleet Admiral Anders. All ships, status report.” The appointed GalCop officer sat on the bridge of the Horizon and squinted at the readouts as he tried to identify any ship signatures. He fidgeted in his seat, the chair unexpectedly extravagant for a military vessel.

“Our scanners are empty, Admiral.”

“Nothing to report.”

“All quiet over here.”

“I don’t like this.” he muttered as he kept an eye on the scanners. “Stay on your toes, be ready for anything.”

The fleet cautiously approached the planet, but arrived without incident. In front of them was Aerater, where the debris from the previous communications relay could still be seen circling the planet.

“This is as far as we go. Ground forces, you are clear to deploy. Keep an eye out for activity.”

At his command, dozens of Komodo dropships flew out of the behemoth’s hangars and clustered together as they descended to the surface. They took the most direct route to the surface, which meant going through the cloud of debris floating in low orbit. It was risky, but it gave them the additional advantage that Aerater’s anti-aircraft countermeasures wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from the ruins until they were right on top of the Citadel. The ships slowly made their way through the wreckage, carefully avoiding large fragments that drifted by.

Jacob was in the hold of the lead dropship, busy examining his new standard-issue GalCop armour when Rex appeared beside him.

“Here we go. Are you sure you’re ready for this?”

“Medical gave me a good look-over. I’m cleared for duty.”

“Alright, just don’t go jumping off any exploding buildings this time, hey?” Rex said with a grin.

Jacob didn’t promise anything. “Only if you don’t try and blow it up first.”

Rex chuckled as he moved over to check up on the rest of his squad. They were accompanied by an elite GalCop strike team, armed to the teeth and ready for battle. They cradled sleek automatic rifles, tactical military hardware and reinforced combat armour. Once he was satisfied with the state of his squad, Rex made his way up to the cockpit and stood next to the controls, quietly observing as the pilot spoke into his headset.

“This is Kilo Actual to all ships, how copy?”

“We read you loud and clear, over.”

The pilot eased the dropship up to avoid a large piece of debris. “Take it nice and slow. I don’t want to lose anyone before we’ve reached the surface.”

The other pilots responded in acknowledgement. The dropships followed in a tight formation and bundled together in order to avoid having to find their own safe route through the field. The pilot kept his eyes glued forward, watching for any large chunks that might annihilate the column of ships.

“I’ve got enemy movement,” crackled the radio, “three ‘o clock!”

Rex instinctively looked right and scanned the area. Kilo Actual glanced between the radar and the right viewport as he anxiously tightened his grip on the joystick. Eventually his shoulders dropped slightly and spoke into the radio.

“Stand down, it’s just debris. Ease up, Kilo one-six, you’re making me nervous.”

Rex peeked at the ship’s radar and saw countless white dots, each corresponding to a chunk of rubble outside, drifting beside and ahead of them. They were well within the debris field now, and invisible to Aerater’s sensors.

“You might want to recalibrate your radar, one-six. Or lay off the Alazian fungus.”

“Kilo oh-seven, shut up. That was never during active service. On the other hand, your stash of feline holos-”

“Hey! Cut the chatter, you two.” interrupted the pilot. “I don’t care what happens off duty, but keep this channel mission-relevant. Stay focused.”

They continued at a steady pace and moved silently through the lifeless wreckage. Rex looked up and he could see what remained of the relay’s massive shell, which was blackened and hollowed out by the strength of the Q-mine. Small pieces floated around and sunlight glinted off their surfaces, making it appear that someone released a giant cloud of glitter in the atmosphere. He could make out scorched remains of ships and icy bodies that drifted past, frozen in the dark void.

“Warning: hostile ship signature detected.”

Scattered bursts of laser fire suddenly whizzed by and the pilot jerked up, startled. He looked at his radar, and saw a red blip approaching from behind the fleet of dropships.

“Contact!” How did he sneak up behind us?

The ships tried to dodge the blasts but the sluggish Komodos couldn’t avoid the nimble craft, and it easily honed in on their position.

“Kilo one-zero, you’ve got a tango on your six.”

“Gah, I can’t shake him!”

“Kilo Actual, we’ve got a problem.”

Kilo Actual glanced down at his radar and what he saw made him freeze. Countless dots, once a neutral white were now flashing red and more blips continued to change colour as they began to move, steadily closing in on the formation of dropships. The pilot slowly looked up, and Rex could see the perspiration drip down the back of his neck. The wreckage was illuminated a vibrant blue as hundreds of concealed ships powered up their engines.

The STA fleet had been waiting, silently drifting and blending in perfectly with the surrounding debris with their ships disabled. Now that the Komodos had blindly wandered into the middle of the field, they fired up their thrusters and approached the helpless dropships.

“Warning: hostile ship signature detected.” droned the ship’s system. “Warning: hostile ship signature detected. Warning: hostile ship signature detected.”

The pilot widened his eyes at the rapidly approaching horde.

“Warning: hostile ship signature detected. Warning: hostile ship signature – warning: hostile –”

“It’s a trap! We’re surrounded! All units, break off, break off! Evasive manoeuvers!”

Warning – warning – warning – warning – warning – warning – warning – warning – warning: hostile ship signature detected.”

The enemy swarm descended on the dropships and they scattered to try and lose their pursuers. The debris field was lit up by lasers and explosions as the two groups of ships clashed. The dropships were decimated from the enemy assault and they were torn apart with ease, both from incoming fire and hasty manoeuvers into the orbiting debris. The pilot did his best to avoid the bursts, but he could still hear the sounds of impacts fizzling against the shield.

He saw another Komodo being chased and he tailed the enemy ship, trying to keep it in his sights. Once he got a lock, he launched a missile at the fighter, and it consumed the preoccupied ship in a ball of flame. The sheer number of STA ships meant that is was an insignificant victory, and no matter how many he could take down, this was a losing fight. He pointed the ship to the planet’s surface and jammed the throttle forward. The ship left the battle behind them and sped downwards, while he checked the transponders of the other dropships. He was devastated to see over half of them stopped transmitting, but he quickly shook it off. He spoke on the fleet channel to rally the other ships.

“All remaining ships, this is Kilo Actual. Regroup on me, we need to drop off these boys off on the surface.”

The surviving Komodos followed him and approached the planet, but the horde instantly tailed the fleeing ships. The nose of the Komodo turned orange when they began atmospheric entry, and the troops in the hold began to bounce around. A bolt connected with the ship ahead of them and it suddenly caught fire and peeled away, trailing smoke and flames out of its busted engine.

“I’m hit!” shouted the pilot through the radio. “I’m going down!”

Like sharks after blood, a pack of STA ships broke off, chasing the crippled ship and started to plug lasers into the sputtering craft. The pilot saw it and cursed in desperation. Rex turned to the side and saw another damaged Komodo spiral downwards, accelerating and spinning out of control. It began to glow orange as it hurtled against the atmosphere and left a black streak of smoke across the sky.

“She’s burning up, I can’t hold her together!”

Their numbers were dangerously low. If they lost any more, the pilot knew there would be no chance this assault would work.

“All units, sound off!” he ordered.

“Kilo oh-four, I’m right behind you, Actual.”

“This is Kilo oh-seven.”

“Kilo one-niner.”

“Kilo one-one, here. We’re all that’s left.”

Five ships. That was it. Kilo Actual grimaced and adjusted his grip on the sticks. “Okay everyone, follow my lead. We’re going in hot.”

They tightened their formation and pulled up, levelling out with the surface as they sped towards Citadel City, now a distant speck on the horizon. They streaked across the open wasteland, keeping low to the ground to escape their pursuer’s sensors, but they kicked up clouds of sand as they moved and the swarm quickly reacquired them. They swerved left and right to dodge the incoming bursts of lasers while they rapidly approached the Citadel.

Large cannons on top of the city walls swiveled on their mounts, taking aim at the advancing ships and opened fire. The air around them exploded as the flak cannons tried to target the advancing Komodo dropships. A round bored straight into Kilo one-one and the shot shredded the ship apart, spraying bodies and scrap metal into the desert.

“Kilo Actual, the LZ’s too hot!”

“Roger that.” replied the pilot. “Ground teams, prepare for combat drop.”

He flicked several switches and the hold opened up. Jacob looked out and he could see the other Komodos at their side and a number of enemy ships closing in.

The squad leader shouted to his team over the roar of the engines, laser fire and exploding flak. “Lock ‘n load, marines! It’s show time.”

The soldiers shouted a battle cry in unison and filed up in front of the open door.

Jacob tapped on the soldier in front of him. “They never told me about this. What’s a combat drop?”

“It’s real simple, even a Jameson could do it. All you’ve got to do – is jump.” Jacob broke into a smile behind his helmet despite the situation. Just jump. Of course.

The pilot lowered the ship further so that they were only meters above the ground. He turned back and yelled into the hold. “This is it, go, go, go!”

The first wave of troops jumped out of their dropships and tumbled down to the planet’s surface. Immediately after jumping, they activated their armour’s thrusters to neutralize their inertia, and they touched down safely on the surface. They picked themselves up, brushed off the sand and readied their weapons for battle.

Without warning, a stray shot flew into the open bay and connected with the interior of the dropship, causing smoke to bellow out of the hold. The troopers stumbled as the impact knocked them off their feet.

“Kilo Actual’s been hit!”

“Argh, I can hold her steady for now, but I’m losing her. I’ll keep her in the air for as long as I can.” The pilot angled the ship up, gaining altitude and turned to Rex. “This is your stop. Get out there and give ‘em hell.”

Rex nodded. “Will do.” He ran back to the hold and saw the troopers still struggling to pick themselves off the floor. “What the hell are you still doing in here? Move your asses and get out there!”

The squad scrambled up and leapt out of the doomed ship as fast as they could. When it was Jacob’s turn, he hesitated, but only for a moment. He knew there wasn’t time for second thoughts and he steeled himself for the jump. By the next instant he was ready, and leapt out of the dropship. The roar of the sputtering craft faded away and was replaced with the howling sound of rushing wind as he began to freefall to the ground. He could feel and hear the enemy ships as they soared behind him, and he looked back to see the Komodo steadily losing altitude. The last soldier jumped out of the ship’s belly as laser fire began to tear it apart.

Kilo Actual struggled to keep the ship level, but his controls weren’t responding. Jacob saw the ship’s trajectory get steeper and steeper, until it was almost completely pointed to the ground. The engines kept driving the ship forward and it accelerated briefly before it crashed in a spectacular explosion. The pursuing fighters broke off, briefly celebrating their kill, then turned to hunt the remaining dropships.

Jacob looked away and he glanced down at the ground and was alarmed to see how close it was. He fumbled to activate his armor’s thrusters, and instinctively raised his arms in front of his face as the ground rushed to meet him.

*

“Admiral, we’ve got a situation.”

The Horizon’s bridge was in a state of frenzied activity after their strike team was clobbered by ships that simply appeared out of nowhere. Anders leaned in, paying attention.

“Talk to me, what’ve we got?”

Other crewmen suddenly began flooding him with information.

“STA fighters are inbound. They have additional reinforcements lifting off from the surface.”

“We’ve lost contact with our dropships, sir. Kilo Actual is not responding.”

“Initial estimates report almost ninety percent of our assault team is KIA.”

He brushed aside the other crewmen and pointed at the first. “What did you find?”

“The witchspace beacon is lighting up with activity, Admiral. There’s a fleet coming through the portal.”

Anders clenched his fists. It was a classic pincer maneuver. The STA was about to warp in reinforcements behind them and try to catch them between two fronts. He hailed the commander of the Atbevete fleet to deliver his instructions.

“Turn your ships around. Get ready for hostiles dropping on our six.”

While behemoths and frigates turned around to face the beacon, STA ships charged at the waiting fleet. Pirates and rebels danced with Viper fighters while the larger cruisers fired away with their broadsides. Even though they were only at half strength and were facing against much larger numbers, the Coalition fleet was still managing to hold their ground against their attackers. Behind them, the witchspace portals opened and a fleet of ships arrived in the system. Coalition behemoths angled their plasma cannons at them and took a moment to line up their sights.

“Targets locked, Admiral. Waiting for your command.”

Anders watched the readouts, tracking the movements of both groups of ships. “Once they’re in range, open fire.”

“Wait, belay that order!” shouted a crewman.

Anders looked quizzically at the operator as she continued.

“I’m detecting multiple friendly signatures, all behemoth, frigate and Viper class. It’s GalCop, sir.” Anders double-checked his displays and saw that the new ships were indeed registered as a part of a GalCop fleet.

“Reinforcements.” He said with a sigh of relief. He instantly began restructuring his battle plan to make use of these new forces. “Get me a line to their flagship, we need to bring them up to speed.”

*

“Captain on deck!”

The crew stood at attention and saluted as Commander Olson stepped onto the bridge of the Adjudicator. He beamed at the officers and took in the sight before him. He was the captain of the second GalCop fleet, recently appointed from an unexpected message he received in his inbox hours ago. Until then, he’d been busy administrating the combined forces around Tioranin, and was interested by the sudden tasking. For the first time in his career, he had the chance to walk away from his desk and into the deck of a ship he could finally call his own. Olson never got the opportunity to lead a battlegroup and the image of him, sitting at the bridge of a behemoth and a fleet of ships at his fingertips, was exiting.

“At ease.” he said and the crew returned to their stations.

He strolled past his subordinates as they were busy calibrating and checking the status of their systems. Reaching his station in the middle of the bridge, he sat down on the seat and skimmed over his readouts. Information flew by on the holographic displays, but his eyes glazed over them and he looked through the coloured constructs of light to watch his crew work. He swelled with pride as it all soaked in, when suddenly a gloved hand appeared on his shoulder, startling him.

“Welcome aboard, Commander.”

He spun around to chew out whoever just interrupted him, but the words died in his throat when he scanned the person from head to toe. He didn’t recognize the intruder, but the sleek, black featureless armor was distinct. There was no mistaking its profile.

“You.” He said as he narrowed his eyes. “What are you doing here?”

Captain Langley returned his gaze with a cool smile. “Oh, you know, this and that. Just keeping an eye on you, make sure you’re settling in.”

Olson glanced around to make sure nobody was watching their exchange. The crew members were all preoccupied, watching their screens intently. He turned back to Langley, leaned in and spoke in hushed whispers.

“I don’t know how you knew I was here,” he hissed, “or how you managed to get aboard, but I want you off my ship.”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that. I’m under strict orders to make sure you don’t do anything stupid.”

“Oh yeah? Well, you’re on my bridge, which means you follow my rules. I demand you to leave immediately. Who sent you?”

“I’m not going anywhere.” She looked at him defiantly. “Jeremy Ross instructed me personally.”

Olson quickly surveyed the bridge again, worried that someone heard Langley drop Jeremy’s name. “I don’t believe you. He doesn’t send mercenaries to do his dirty work.”

“Well, he did. Seems like he’d rather put his faith in this ‘mercenary’ than his go-to lackey.”

He didn’t reply, and Langley pulled the corner of her mouth back a little.

“Don’t believe me, huh?” She reached for her ComPad, selected a contact and offered it to the Commander. “Then here, why don’t you talk to him yourself?”

He eyed her suspiciously before he finally snatched the device and pressed it against his ear. “Hello?”

“Commander Olson. Congratulations on your brand new position. How do you like your ship?” Jeremy’s voice came through the speaker.

He spun away from Langley, pushing her out of his mind and focused his attention on the call. “What is this? Did you put me here?”

“Of course. Who else would’ve authorized your transfer from paper pusher to Fleet Admiral?”

Olson furrowed his brow. The ship, the fleet, none of it was truly his. It had all been calculated, orchestrated by Jeremy for another one of his plans.

“What are you playing at, Ross? I thought we were finished. I’m done doing your work.”

“No. We’re never done. There’s still a mess that needs sorting out, and this is a complication that stemmed directly from your incompetence. I need someone I can trust, someone who can direct GalCop without drawing attention to deal with the situation and clean this mess up. Unfortunately, these qualities do not fall on the same person, and that’s why she’s here. Langley will monitor you and keep you in line while you direct the fleet. You will listen to her every order and follow her instructions to the letter. Got it?”

Olson peeked at Langley and she stared back as she waited, arms crossed and weight shifted to her back foot. She couldn’t hear their conversation, but she could guess why Olson briefly decided to stare at her, and gave him a knowing smirk.

He turned away again and spoke into the receiver. “This is ridiculous. I don’t need her. You can trust me.”

Jeremy sighed in what sounded like genuine disappointment. “I wish I could. But the way you handled Taylor was proof that I can’t do that anymore. I’m giving you another chance, Commander. Don’t waste it.”

Olson stiffened his grip on the ComPad and stared ahead in defiance. He’d spent too much time working under Jeremy’s directions, too much time spent helping Jeremy fulfill his goals.

“And what if I refuse?”

There was silence, then he heard rustling as Jeremy moved around his office. Finally things settled down and there was a tinny thump as he plopped back on his chair.

“Let’s see…your family, they’re in district seven, correct? Drishinko Tower? That’s a cozy part of town, Olson. Very safe. I have lots of patrols and surveillance in that area to keep it that way. But, it would be a shame if something were to happen, say, a generator failure which caused a district-wide outage, and I lost my feeds…I know I can deploy troops to secure the area and get to your quarters, but without systems to double check my orders, I might send a kill squad by accident. The buttons are very close and I tend to get confused.”

Olson’s hand trembled as he listened to Jeremy’s thinly-veiled threats.

“Do you understand me, Commander?”

He took a quivering breath. “Y-yes.”

“Good. I’m glad we can agree.” Jeremy’s voice was dripping with satisfaction. “Captain Langley will take it from here.”

Olson tore the ComPad away from his ear and thrust it in Langley’s general direction. He didn’t bother to see where she was. He couldn’t stand to look at her.

“Well, now that you’re all caught up,” she said, pocketing the device as she spoke, “let’s get started. Shall we?” She gestured out the behemoths’ window at the awaiting Coalition fleet.

“What do you need me to do?” he mumbled.

“Well, how ‘bout full speed ahead? That’ll do for a start.”

Olson squeezed his eyes shut. He couldn’t believe this was happening, but at the same time he knew he was completely powerless. He opened his eyes and commanded his ships forward.

“All ships, advance. Maximum speed.”

The battlegroup began to move and approached the conflict ahead. From the distance, they could see explosions surrounding the Coalition fleet, the telltale sign of dogfights, and through the window, the crew could see something massive. It was completely unknown, gigantic, but it was obviously a ship. Lined with guns on its side and a giant exhaust on its rear, it sat behind a cluster of GalCop cruisers and seemed to brush off the opposition with absolute ease. The crew turned to each other, muttering in amazement at the colossal ship. Olson stared at it too, a wave of pure awe breaking through a layer of insecurity and he gaped at the ship along with the crew.

“Admiral, we’re getting an incoming transmission. It’s coming from that…thing.”

“Ignore that.” said Langley. She stared out of the window, analyzing the battle ahead. She wore the same expression as before, unimpressed by the giant ship. “Prep the fleet for battle.”

“Fleet, ready weapons. Man your battle stations.” ordered Olson.

Langley pointed at the Coalition forces. “Get a target lock on those ships.”

He turned and looked at her in surprise. “What? Those are GalCop ships, I can’t do that! You can’t be serious.”

She gave him a menacing stare. “Do I look like I’m joking?”

Olson stared back out to the battle ahead and bit his lip. “All ships, lock onto their frigates and behemoths.” He hated himself the moment the words left his mouth, the wicked puppeteer standing behind him, but above all, he cursed Jeremy Ross for putting him is this crippling situation.

A crewman was shocked. “But sir, those are GalCop ships, they’re our ships –”

“I know what I said!” Olson lashed out. “Get me a lock on their ships. That’s an order!”

Langley grinned in amusement. “Heh, not bad. Now you’re getting into it.”

Olson shot her a vicious look and returned his gaze forward. He didn’t want to look at her as he knew what came next.

“Now, here comes the fun part.” she said casually. “Light ‘em up.”

Olson took several deep, shaky breaths as he braced himself. After this, he knew there was no excuses, no turning back. He opened his mouth, giving the order in deceptively calm tones.

“Open fire.”

*

Lasers, missiles and superheated plasma hurtled across space, flying through the void and collided into the Coalition ships. Half a dozen frigates instantly succumbed to the volley and behemoths began to turn away to protect their scorched hulls from another assault. Moments after the first attack, the approaching GalCop fleet fired another round of energy blasts. The Horizon’s shields flared as it repelled the incoming barrage, but it was taking a pounding.

“Rear shields are at forty percent strength.” announced a crewman.

“Friendly fire! Incoming fleet, you are firing on friendly forces. I repeat, you are firing on friendlies. Hold your fire!”

Anders made a fist as he realized they’d been played. “That’s not just any regular GalCop fleet, they’re in Ross’ pocket. Atbevete ships, you are clear to engage. Take them down.”

The Coalition fleet recovered from their attack then they turned to face their opponents and returned fire. Anders clenched his jaw and watched the displays while the battle unfolded. Now not only were caught between two fronts, but they also managed to get the drop on them. He looked at the casualty reports, and the hostile pre-emptive strike claimed a portion of their numbers from their already insubstantial fleet. Their ships traded cannon fire and explosions rocked the hull.

“Deploy fighters, deploy boarding craft. Send out everything we have!” Anders commanded, and the crew immediately spoke into their headsets to relay his orders to the fleet.

In the belly of the Horizon, Vipers scrambled to launch and additional Komodo dropships loaded up with troops. Sam walked through the hangar behind a squad of marines as they boarded a Komodo. The attendant on the pad raised an arm, stopping her from boarding the ship.

“Whoa, where do you think you’re going?”

“I’m getting on this ship. I’m going out there.”

The attendant looked at her disapprovingly. “I don’t think so. It’s dangerous, and space combat’s not the same as boots on the ground.”

She didn’t budge. “It can’t be that hard. And I’m not just going to sit on the sidelines and wait while our ships duke it out. Did you hear the Admiral? We need everyone on board for this, so I’m going. No matter what.”

The attendant sighed. There were a bunch of other ships who were queuing up to leave and they couldn’t afford to waste time arguing about this. They did need every pair of hands they could get, and so finally the attendant gave her a reluctant nod. Sam quickly leapt into the ship and slipped on her helmet while the other troopers gave her a sideways look. She moved among them purposefully, giving them the impression that she belonged.

“Gear up.” she said. “Let’s knock some heads.”

The troops shrugged at each other and the ship blasted out of the hangar and into the heated battle. They weaved between frigates and Vipers, dodging laser blasts and rushed head-first towards the STA GalCop fleet. This wasn’t just to attack Harmon anymore: without word from their ground team, the Coalition was left with nothing and was forced to go on the defensive. Their backs were up against the wall, and this battle had just become a fight for survival.


Last edited by my ammo crate on Wed May 25, 2016 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Rebellious Three
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:53 am 
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Competent
Competent

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 1:00 am
Posts: 41
Part 9

Citadel City, Aerater planetary surface

Combat boots crunched against dry sand while gunfire crackled, popping shots from a distance. Bolts slammed into nearby surfaces which sent bits and pieces airborne before they showered back down.

“Contact! Left side, on the roof!”

There was a sudden blast from a nearby weapon, followed by a satisfied “Got ‘em.”

“Keep moving. Don’t stop or you’re dead, trooper.”

Jacob felt himself bouncing up and down in time with a group of footsteps and he groggily opened his eyes. He was hoisted over someone’s shoulder and he could see the person’s back, his arms dangling in front of him and the blur of the ground as they moved. He slowly lifted his head up to get a better look at his surroundings.

“He’s up.” someone said beside him.

“Okay, let’s find a place to set him down.” Jacob recognized Rex’s voice. “There, in that building.”

The team darted into the safety of the structure and out of the exposed alley. Jacob saw his view shift as the soldier carrying him propped him up against a wall and the team quickly check the floor for hostiles. One of them set up behind a window and began to supress the enemy advance under a barrage of fire, and another found a family in a closet, hiding and petrified with fear from the raging skirmish.

“It’s okay, we’re not here to hurt you. Stay calm and stay inside.” said the soldier before passing them a handful of rations.

Jacob carefully moved his arms and legs to make sure they weren’t broken, and surprisingly, nothing was. However, he felt extremely sore. He slowly picked himself up, drew his weapon and looked out the broken windows. He recognized the dusty streets and cheaply assembled buildings as Citadel City, but there weren’t any civilians to be found. Instead, Tara’s personal forces roamed the streets and rooftops as they tried to gain a line of sight on the squad. The GalCop troopers were doing their best to pick them off but more just kept coming.

“Rex!” shouted Jacob. “We can’t stay here. They’re almost on top of us.”

Rex ducked down and joined Jacob behind cover. “I know, but resistance is too heavy. There’s no way forward.”

A group of advancing Aerater troopers were suddenly gunned down, and the squad looked over to catch a glimpse of the shooters. On the opposite side, they saw another squad of GalCop marines approaching from a backstreet across the main road.

“We heard you guys from across town,” said a voice through the radio, “thought you could use the assist.”

“Glad you could join us.” replied Rex. “Form up on me, we need to push to the Citadel.”

They began to cross the street when suddenly one of the soldiers pointed a finger down the road, looking at something out of Jacob’s view.

“ARPEEGEE!” came the panicked scream before a dumb-fired rocket exploded on the ground beneath the squad.

They were blasted away, and one of the bodies flew through the building’s open window and tumbled across the floor, coming to a stop at to Jacob’s feet. He flinched back, the sudden and unexpectedness of it caught him off guard. One moment they were there, the next there was simply a crater.

“Dammit!” cursed Rex. “Fall back! We won’t be able to get there like this.”

The squad packed up to leave as another enemy patrol appeared on the boulevard. Rex and two other soldiers dropped smoke grenades where they stood, creating a smokescreen to obscure their movements while the squad fled out the back door. Rex followed his team, firing blindly behind him to give the impression that they were still trying to defend the building. Satisfied they were far enough away, he sprinted to catch up with the others while he swiftly swapped out his depleted magazine. They kept a low profile, careful to avoid the main roads and ducked behind dumpsters whenever they heard Tara’s forces thunder by.

Jacob recognized a charred out building as he moved, though curiously it was nowhere near any obvious signs of battle. He slowed to a stop to get a better look, and realized what he was looking at. It was the Marauder bar, still in ruins after the fight inside days ago. It seemed nobody had bothered to clean it up, and an idea wormed its way into his head. Tara’s forces were looking for GalCop marines, but if they suddenly disappeared…

“Jacob, what are you doing?” asked Rex.

“I’ve got an idea.” he said. “In there.”

Rex looked at him, puzzled while Jacob checked left and right to make sure the road was clear. He darted towards the bar and the squad carefully followed him.

“What’s this plan of yours?” persisted Rex as they entered the abandoned bar.

“Tara’s hunting GalCop.” started Jacob while he unfastened his chest plate. “If we can make ourselves look low-key, hide any connection to the Cooperative, we can slip past their patrols.”

“That’s pretty ballsy.” Rex nodded thoughtfully and instructed the others to remove their armour. “I like it. And then what?”

“Then,” he said, “we waltz straight into the Citadel. Nothing flashy, nothing complicated. We walk in, bypass their defences, and grab Tara.”

Jacob removed the last bit of armour and crouched down over one of the bodies. He looked away, held his breath and began to disrobe the corpse.

***

Aerater system space

Coalition fighters rocketed past the Komodo and clashed aggressively with the STA Vipers. The ships danced around each other, trading laser fire and missiles. It was a confusing cluster of ships, and the pilots, try as they might, struggled to pick apart friend from foe. Shots illuminated the empty space and the Komodo ducked around the battle as it tried to avoid the mass of duelling fighters. The dropships advanced towards the frigates and the lead behemoth, whose broadside cannons began firing plasma at the incoming crafts. The pilots expertly dodged the blasts and continued at a steady pace.

Sam walked past the other marines in the hold as she distributed an explosive charge to each of them.

“Our fleet is getting clobbered, and they won’t last long if this attack keeps up.” she said as she passed out another charge. “You like that big ship of yours so much? Well, we’re going to make sure it stays in one piece. You see anything that looks important, place one of these on it and blow it sky high. Once these corrupt ships are in ruins, our fleet will have a lot more breathing room. We don’t have much time, so let’s keep this quick.”

A formation of Vipers were deployed to ward off the ever-nearing dropships and lasers slammed into the Komodo’s military shields.

“Shields are holding.” commented the pilot, “Don’t worry about those fighters, they can’t touch us. Get ready, we’ll be docking in sixty seconds.”

Another volley collided with the ship and the shields flared and gave out. Two blasts hit the hull and the ship rocked from the impact.

“What the hell was that? Something just chewed through my barriers!”

Another barrage drummed against the ship’s frame and red lights began to flash. Electrical fires ignited, sparks showered into the hold, and smoke seeped out of cracks as the systems strained to keep her going. The ship was doomed, and Sam knew they weren’t going to make it to the ship fast enough. One more shot and the Komodo would be blown to bits. She slipped on her helmet and her armour sealed with a hiss.

“Everyone, helmets on, now!” she ordered.

The marines hastily scrambled for their helmets and she heard the pilot holler, “Incoming!”

Whether or not the team was ready, it didn’t matter. She had to act before they were all dead. Her palm slapped the button to open the hold and the tiny breach instantly vacuumed out everything that wasn’t secured in the hold, sucking the marines out into space moments before the ship turned into a fiery explosion from the last volley. Sam twisted her neck around to see the attacker, though there was nothing to see except black. But when she looked closer, she could see a ship-shaped shadow circling above. It targeted another dropship and began to dispatch it with ruthless efficiency.

It was the Artemis’ Will.

The sight fuelled her own will to fight, and she was more determined than ever to dispatch these ships so she could have a chance at dogfighting the Artemis herself. She looked around and noticed helmetless marines drifting lifeless through the void, and felt a pang of guilt. They were good people, and now they were dead because of her, she thought somberly. The nearby Komodo was destroyed by the Artemis’ assault and she quickly shrugged off the feeling. These soldiers might’ve died in vain, but more would join them if she didn’t hurry.

“Anyone still with me, get yourself on board that ship.” She unholstered her pistol, pointed it behind her and fired, crudely using the recoil to propel herself to the behemoth.

Other drifting soldiers followed her lead as they equipped their guns and fired away to boost themselves over to her. They used their ammo sparingly to drift to the Adjudicator and no further, careful to keep themselves from overshooting their target. None of them wanted to fly past it and spiral helplessly into the void. Their approach went unnoticed as they were too small to be detected by the ships scanners, and the shots they fired blended in naturally with the chaotic backdrop. As she neared, Sam could see other Komodos slipping past unscathed and began unloading their troops into the enemy frigates.

She reached her hand out to get a hold on the passing behemoth, but when she did, the sudden change in direction caused a sharp pain to surge up her arms. It quickly dissipated and after that, it was easy to hold on to the ship in the vacuum. She could feel the rumble of the engines as it closed in on the Horizon to fire another volley of plasma. She looked behind her to see how the other troopers were doing, and it seemed like she was one of the lucky ones. Most of the soldiers were able to find a grip on the ship’s hull, but others slammed into the behemoth and harmlessly bounced off.

“If you missed this one, try and get aboard another.” she said. “Let’s rough ‘em up as much as we can.”

Returning her attention to the Adjudicator, she carefully climbed along the hull to the ship’s airlock. The marines were already there, and a soldier flashed his GalCop ID to the scanner and the door opened, granting them access to the ship. They entered the chamber and their feet touched the floor, now that they were under the influence of the ship’s artificial gravity. There was a hiss as the airlock pressurized and Sam removed her helmet. The integrated HUD was nice, but there was no substitute for the full awareness she had without it.

The door opened and they stepped inside, weapons raised and swept the empty corridor. They split up, one group headed for the stern to target the reactor and engines while Sam lead the other to the bow to sabotage their scanners and logistics. They arrived at the scanner and communications systems and the marines discreetly placed their charges. It was easy to manoeuver around the ship thanks to the standard-issue armor they wore, and nobody did as much as bat an eye when they passed.

They had to pass behind the bridge to get to the next system and when they did, Sam paused to sneak a glimpse out the large window. Dead, broken ships surrounded the Horizon and explosions randomly dotted the hull. Its heavy cannons fired at the circling fighters and sent a few shots towards the STA GalCop ships, but the blasts went wide and only slowed them down, if anything. The colossal ship was taking a pounding, and she became frustrated as she watched. Of course she wanted it to turn all its weapons on the corrupt fleet and mercilessly tear them apart, but she knew that if they did, it only would have put their own crew and infiltration teams at risk.

Suddenly frigates on the Adjudicator’s flank detonated and broke apart while Komodos fled from the wreckage.

“What was that?” asked someone on the bridge. “What happened to our frigates?”

“I don’t know, Captain. One moment they were there, and the next…they weren’t.”

The other teams were already done, she realized, and they needed to pick up the pace. She turned to leave and quickly plant the final charges when something made her freeze.

“It’s sabotage. Somebody blew them up from the inside. Run system checks and ID checks on the crew. If there’s anything suspicious, get rid of it.”

That voice… “I know that voice.” whispered Sam.

“Run system and ID checks. Get rid of anything suspicious.” the captain echoed.

“Concentrate your fire on the big one. Gillis, lead the charge.”

The voice, the Artemis, referring to the craft’s pilot by name, she was certain it was Captain Langley. It couldn’t’ve been anyone else. Sam signalled the others to move ahead without her and she went back to get a better look of the bridge. Langley had her back to the entrance, and stood behind an officer in the captain’s chair who seemed to repeat whatever she said. It was a strange sight to see somebody mutter a command, and then have someone else say it again for everyone to hear.

“All ships, concentrate your fire on their flagship.” said the captain mindlessly.

Part of her was nagging her to forget about it and just hurry up and place the charges, but the other knew they didn’t have enough to destroy the ship, only cripple it. If she wanted payback, this was her only opportunity. Two more squad members from the Artemis, Lavoie and Santiago, stood guard in front of the door, but they were looking out the window too and didn’t see her behind them. She looked around to make sure nobody else was watching, took a deep breath, and then strolled onto the bridge.

She walked calmly and purposefully, slowly approaching Langley from behind. Her hand stayed close to her holster and was ready to draw at a moment’s notice. She felt Santiago and Lavoie looking at her, but it was brief and they thought nothing of her. She avoided eye contact with them, and as far as they were concerned, she was just some GalCop grunt. She was very close, almost close enough to reach out and grab her, but she kept herself unarmed to avoid the risk of getting spotted and alerting the bridge to her presence.

Langley shifted uncomfortably. She watched the battle ahead of her, but something made her uneasy and her pulse began to quicken. Years of combat and hunting experience taught her to be in tune and aware of her surroundings, and while it was no super sense, she could tell when somebody was creeping into her personal space. She casually glanced behind her and saw some girl in GalCop battle armour awkwardly close to her, who froze and her eyes widened when she realized she’d been noticed.

That was the first warning sign.

The second came during Langley’s split-second scan of the officer, when she saw her hand twitching next to her holster and immediately realized what was happening. She, whoever she was, managed to break into the Adjudicator and was planning to put a cap in somebody. Langley’s survival instinct kicked in and she lashed out at the would-be assassin. It happened incredibly fast, Sam was barely able to blink before Langley threw a punch at her and she staggered from the blow. Sam felt a hand on her shoulder and was pulled towards Langley, who raised her knee and slammed it into Sam’s gut.

Winded and unable to recover from the unexpected attack, Sam was helpless when Langley firmly gripped and tossed her to the middle of the bridge. She tumbled to the floor in front of the captain, and Olson quickly stood up in the sudden disarray. Langley raised her pistol and took aim at Sam.

“Get down, Commander.” she ordered.

Olson spun around, still trying to grasp the situation, and Sam took the Commander’s confusion as an opportunity to trap him in a headlock. She raised her own pistol, jammed it in Olson’s temple and wrapped her finger around the trigger.

“Stay back! Stay back, or I blow his brains out.” she threatened.

The crew spun around to get a look at the commotion and they saw Sam holding their Fleet Admiral at gunpoint. Panic took over, and they scrambled to get away and avoid the hostile standoff. Somewhere in their frenzy, the alarm was pressed and red lights began to flash, and the ship repeated the message “Alert! Security to the bridge!” periodically over the intercom. Lavoie and Santiago stepped beside Langley with their own guns raised, and Sam glared at them all fearlessly.

“Well, well, well, look who it is.” said Langley. “You know, some of us held on to the hope that you weren’t a backstabbing little shit too. I can’t say I’m surprised. I haven’t been wrong before.”

Sam scowled at her. “Haven’t been wrong? I know the truth, I know what’s going on, and what you’re doing is anything but wrong.”

“As if you’re any different. Look out there, at however many people who are putting down their lives. Do you think that’s right?” Sam didn’t say anything, but kept her distance. “You can say whatever you want, but the fact is, your fleet is doomed. Don’t make this hard on yourself, and give it up.”

Sam held her ground and shifted her grip so they could all see her weapon. “I don’t think you’ve noticed, but I’ve got a gun to you officer’s head. Do exactly what I say, or he gets it.”

“And what would you like us to do?” There was a hint of mockery in Langley’s voice, and Sam couldn’t tell if she was being toyed with or not.

“Tell your ships to stand down. Send them back to Tioranin, or better yet, warp them into the sun.”

Langley scoffed and the three of them approached Sam menacingly, ignoring her warnings. Her eyes darted back and forth between them as she backed up to try and keep them in front of her. She tightened her grip on Commander Olson and pressed her gun harder into his skull. His expression was one of pure terror, as he was completely helpless to the whim of his deranged captor.

“Don’t come any closer or I’ll shoot! I mean it!”

“I’m sure you will.” Langley replied. She aimed her handgun and fired two quick shots.

The impact forced Sam to take several steps back. She closed her eyes, and her arms began to tremble while she waited for the pain to surge through her. It didn’t come, and she slowly looked down to check herself. To her surprise, she was completely unharmed, but her arms continued to tremble and she saw why. Commander Olson was gasping for breath, eyes wide and hands clutching his chest. His legs gave out and Sam released him in surprise, letting him drop to the floor. His uniform was soaked with blood, and it pooled beneath him as he coughed and sputtered red saliva out of his mouth. He continued to wheeze until he finally let out his dying breath.

“What the hell, are you insane?” Sam exclaimed. “He was on your side!”

“He was expendable. Don’t worry about him. Now, where were we?” mused Langley while the other two approached her. “It’s a shame Moreno isn’t here with you. I’d love to splatter his brains all over the deck along with yours.”

“This isn’t over, Langley. Even if you kill me, you’re about to lose this system. And guess what? Jacob’s down there, leading the attack against Harmon, and when the STA’s broken, your ships will be the ones on the run.” It was all misinformation of course. Nobody knew what was going on planetside, but Sam figured that if she could manage to spread the corrupt GalCop forces, their fleet might stand a better chance.

“What? He’s here?” she asked, thoughtful.

Sam could see the gears in Langley’s head beginning to turn, and while she was doing that, her arm snaked behind her back and wrapped around her demo charge. She still had one, explosive ace up her sleeve.

Langley suddenly turned away from the bridge and began to leave. “Gillis, get back here and pick me up. We’re going to the surface.” She looked back at the two on the bridge. “You two, deal with her. And lead the fleet, you’re in command now.”

They nodded, and Sam felt a surge of panic. Langley was leaving, and once she was gone, she wouldn’t have a chance to face her again. In an impulsive, desperate attempt to stop her, she whipped out the charge and chucked it at Langley. Lavoie and Santiago stared in horror while Sam dove back, sliding over a console as she tried to put as much distance between her and the charge as possible.

“Captain, look out!” shouted Lavoie as he forcefully shoved Langley off the bridge.

Sam checked to make sure Langley was still in the blast radius, and she was, for now. She knew she couldn’t wait any longer, and pressed the detonator. But Santiago also knew Langley was too close, and he did the only thing he could to keep her alive. He flung himself on top of the charge and tried to use his body to contain the explosion, but this wasn’t just a simple grenade, it was much more powerful. The blast ripped through his armour and sent bits of him splattering across the bridge. Even though he couldn’t supress the bomb, he was able to deflect most of the energy away from Langley and Lavoie while they escaped.

Sam looked around the blackened bridge, saw the two of them run off and cursed. She began to chase them down the behemoth’s corridors, raised her weapon and prepared to shoot at the first chance she got. She saw them turn corners seconds before she was ready, and each time she let out another curse. They didn’t seem to realize she was there and they turned down a long, exposed corridor. She sped up in anticipation, glad to finally have a clear line of sight.

“Gotcha.” muttered Sam and she dropped to one knee to steady her aim. “Where do you think you’re going, jackass?”

She felt more explosions and the ship rocked, throwing everyone aboard off their feet and breaking her focus. Moments earlier, once the other marines realized that a charge had been detonated, they hastily evacuated and simultaneously set off their own explosives to coordinate their strike. The behemoth was crippled, and it sprayed sparks into its hallways, plasma out of its engines and began drifting aimlessly through space. The other GalCop ships saw that their offensive line was broken, and whatever battleships remained were scattered and uncoordinated.

The Coalition fleet sensed the sudden change in the tide, and immediately launched their counterattack. They sent frigates and behemoths after the helpless ships, and started to wipe out the lingering resistance. While this was good for the fleet as a whole, this was definitely bad for Sam. Lasers riddled the defenceless Adjudicator, punching holes through the hull and depressurizing entire floors. She donned her helmet once again and it locked into place with a comforting hiss, then she continued her pursuit of her former captain.

She took one step and was suddenly flung into the air, drifting through the passage along with anything else that wasn’t secured. She groaned. Another complication. It seemed that the artificial gravity was one of the systems the marines decided to target. She struggled to manoeuver around the ship, quickly losing hear bearings of which way was up or down, forwards or backwards and left or right. She managed to float into a map of the ship and she studied it carefully. Langley said they were getting picked up. Where could they have gone in order to pull that off?

Her eyes strayed to the ship’s massive hangar, and she almost smacked her forehead if it wasn’t for her helmet. The hangar, of course. She pushed off the wall and navigated over to the hangar, using the surfaces to easily float down the empty passages. When she arrived, Langley and Lavoie were in mid-jump and were drifting towards the awaiting hatch of the Artemis. They were too far to shoot at with her gun, so she prepared to jump after them, but she came to her senses. What if she missed? What if they left before she got aboard? Those were risks that would only end poorly for her.

Instead, she glided over to an awaiting Viper and climbed inside. By the time she familiarized herself with the controls, warmed up the ship’s engines and was ready to escape the belly of the incapacitated ship, Langley was already aboard the Artemis and well on her way to the surface of Aerater. Sam eased the nimble craft forward, and the ship linked with her GalCop armour, throwing the ship’s vital information up on her HUD. She left the wreckage behind, entered the middle of the retreating fleet and angled the nose of her ship to the surface.

The Artemis’ Will was long gone, but she knew where Langley was headed. She hit the throttle and streaked towards the Citadel.


Last edited by my ammo crate on Mon May 30, 2016 6:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Rebellious Three
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:54 am 
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Part 10

Citadel City, Aerater planetary surface

“I feel disgusting.”

That was a fairly blunt statement nobody disagreed with.

Rex sniffed the air, then lifted the dirty breastplate he was using as armour up to his nose to take a good whiff. “I smell…singed.”

Jacob glanced at him, and he recognized the tatters as one of the hunters that he set on fire.

“I think we all smell bad. Like, ‘dragged through a landfill’ bad.” a marine quipped. “Hey, look on the bright side: you step in some crap and nobody’ll notice.”

Jacob kept walking, trying his best to avoid smelling himself, the others, and kept the scavenged clothing as far away from his skin as possible. “We’re almost there.”

The Citadel towered ahead, only two guards stood between them and their target. They were careful to make it this far, and luckily their stolen clothes kept them under the radar. Passing patrols didn’t even give them a second look as they were too preoccupied searching for GalCop forces. They were able to simply walk up to the Citadel, and now that they were here, their goal was now within reach.

The two guards raised their weapons menacingly at the group of filthy marines. “Stop! Where do you think you’re going?”

“Uh, we’re…” Jacob racked his mind for an impromptu excuse. “We saw those GalCop guys over by the spaceport.” he lied. “You can catch them if you hurry!”

A guard pressed a finger on his helmet and spoke into a radio. “GalCop, over by the spaceport. Kill them all.” A squad of Aerater troops stormed out of the Citadel, past the marines and rushed towards the spaceport. Jacob scratched his head. He was hoping that the two guards would’ve left their post.

“Why are you still here, scum? Screw off.” the guard growled.

Jacob squinted at them. They bought his other ruse easily, so he figured that these guys were really thick, and wanted to see if he could get away with this one too. “We need to speak to Tara. We have other important information about GalCop’s plans.”

The guard looked at them from head to toe. “I don’t think so. Miss Harmon doesn’t allow filth like you inside. Now, go away.”

They weren’t as stupid as he’d hoped. Jacob frowned as he tried to think of another angle, but the wail of engines interrupted his train of thought. He looked back and saw a matte black Boa 2 descending onto the main boulevard. The landing ramp was open, and someone fully armoured stood at the edge. He suddenly recognized the ship as the Artemis’ Will, and was startled to see it here. How did it manage to find him, and who was that?

Rex didn’t share Jacob’s curiosity and he couldn’t wait any longer. He drew a pistol holstered on his belt and the shotgun that was attached to the back of his armour and took aim with both. He sprayed the first guard with a shotgun blast and shot the other with a swift headshot. With the guards down, he led the others inside.

“Come on, let’s go. Double time it, I need to get to Harmon.” commanded Rex.

Jacob began to follow him inside when he heard the person shout his name.

MORENO! Where do you think you’re going, coward? Come face me, you traitorous son of a bitch!” roared Langley.

Jacob stopped mid-stride and turned around to face the landing ship. It was far too wide for the street, and it crushed the roofs of several buildings as it touched down. He held his ground in front of the Citadel while Langley jumped down from the ship and stormed over to him.

“Jacob, what are you doing?” demanded Rex.

“Go, get Harmon. I’ll deal with this.” he replied.

Rex nodded and led the team inside. They moved quickly up the stairs, shooting any guards inside before they realized what was happening. The tatters they wore hid any connection to GalCop, and without the cooperative’s clean, sleek, distinguishing armour, it bought the squad seconds of reaction time as the enemy hesitated to pick out their targets. The squad rapidly dispatched any opposition they met along the main hall as they struggled to match Rex’s pace. The building was far from secure, but Rex forced them to make a beeline up to the top floor where Harmon presided. They had no choice but to follow him, as their advantage depended on them sticking together.

They reached Harmon’s office with minimal casualties and quickly scanned the room for guards. Their search turned up empty and they slowly fanned out across the teardrop shaped office. A desk sat near its point, flanked by tall, floor to ceiling windows which was the only thing that allowed sunlight into the room. They kept sweeping the room, but it looked like it was completely empty. Tara was nowhere to be found.

“Hello, Rex.” her voice suddenly came out of nowhere and echoed around the tall office. The marines looked around to pinpoint the source, but it was useless. “I suppose this is the day Aerater has been waiting for. Or the one you’ve been waiting for, isn’t it? The return of the king.”

“Harmon.” spat Rex. “It’s over. GalCop has finally landed in your city. You’re rule is at an end, and I’m the one who’s going to do it.”

He searched for her, but she continued to taunt him from the shadows. “Oh, you’re full of crap. You want to stop me in the name of freedom, yet you name yourself after the ancient Earth word for king. Yeah, I’m going to call bullshit.”

“It doesn’t matter what I call myself, what matters is that I’m the leader Aerater deserves, and that will be achieved by tearing down your dictatorship. GalCop is at my side, and we’re here to stop you.”

Tara’s laugh echoed eerily around the room. “Yeah, GalCop’s with you, I won’t deny it, but they’re hardly at any advantage. You made it here, but this city remains under my control. And your fleet…well, being allies with Ross and his armada of GalCop ships has its advantages. Imagine the confusion of a fleet firing on their supposed allies. Did you wonder why you weren’t getting any backup sent to the surface?”

Rex shook off her words and tried to focus on the task at hand. She was playing mind games with him, trying to get him to worry about the thousands of people above. He the thought ran across his mind, but it snagged and he couldn’t let it go. Pushing away thousands of lives, that was cold. Was it wrong to just ignore them like that?

“Did you expect me to be surprised that you’re here? I’ve heard what you’ve been up to, and it seems like death doesn’t stop you from keeping busy. It’s a shame you tried to undermine the STA, but I guess you’ve got an unfortunate habit for picking the losing side, don’t you? Years of organized resistance, and look where that got your pathetic group of rebels. What makes you think you can do anything now? Actually, don’t worry about that too question too much. You’ll be with your old buddies soon enough.”

“Shut up!” screamed Rex. “I will stop you, and the people of Aerater will be liberated from your rule!”

“Oh, you poor misguided soul.” she chided. “You want to give Aerater freedom? Look at these people, perpetually on the verge of slitting each other’s throats. Give them a democracy and they’ll just rip it to shreds. They need a leader, someone who will enforce the rules, someone who will do whatever it takes to maintain order. I am that person, the one who will act as a shining beacon for all of Aerater to bow down and submit. You take that light away, take me away – well, I’ll show you what happens when you leave the people in the dark.”

Large, thick drapes suddenly fell down from the ceiling, being pulled down by a silhouette who was certainly Tara. She landed on the office floor with barely a thump, and the soldiers turned to her in surprise. Rex didn’t get a good look at her though, because the drapes covered the windows and plunged the room into a sudden darkness. The troopers spun around, lost in the black and carefully prodded their way around the room.

“When they can’t see, they get lost. And chaos ensues.”

They heard a cry of surprise, then the sound of armour clattering on the floor and they turned to face the sound.

“What was that?” asked a marine.

“I don’t know. Sounded like –” suddenly the trooper screamed, but it quickly devolved into a throaty gargle that fell to the floor and slowly petered out.

The soldiers trembled with fear and their anxiety began to climb.

“Augh, she’s here! She’s on me!” exclaimed another.

There was a sharp whoosh as something cut through the air followed by several wet squelches as an unseen blade buried itself in soft flesh. The marines panicked and began spraying wildly at the source. The muzzle flashes from their rifles provided temporary illumination to the room, and they could tell they were shooting at something, just not what it was. It only took a full magazine from each trooper to realize that they had been firing on one of their own.

As it dawned on them, they made another realization: none of them knew where Tara was now. Once they all figured this out, they resorted firing blindly around themselves in a feeble attempt to keep her away. She grinned behind her adaptive night vision optics. These fools were lighting themselves up and pointed out exactly where each one was. This was too easy, she thought as she lunged for another soldier and plunged her knife into his neck.

Rex backed away from the commotion and to where he remembered Tara dropped down. If they wanted to get her, they needed to see first, otherwise they were literally hunting blind. He turned to the windows. If the curtain was blocking the light, then he needed to get rid of it. He tried to push a drape out of the way, but it seemed weighted at the bottom and didn’t budge. He tried to lift it, but he wasn’t strong enough to pull it off. Finally, he tried pulling it down, and he felt the tension shift as one of the anchor points above gave out. Encouraged, he continued to pull and another point broke.

He peeked back to the other troopers to see how they were doing and saw that there were only three sources of gunfire left. Alarmed, Rex let go of the curtain. Pulling was too slow, and he needed a quicker way to remove it. He picked up his shotgun to fire into the fabric, and suddenly sunlight poured through the bullet holes. Tara froze and looked over when the brightness of the room increased by several notches, and she saw Rex put his hands through the fresh holes and prepared to tear it open. Terrified of losing her advantage, she left the clueless marines behind and sprinted towards him, poised to strike the moment she was within range.

She wasn’t fast enough. Rex ripped a tall opening in the fabric and allowed light to return to the room. The remaining soldiers stopped their wild flailing, and when they saw Tara charging towards Rex with a blood-stained knife, they instantly took action. They each fired a short burst, but because their eyes were still adjusting to the sudden glare, all the shots missed except one. It drilled into her thigh, and the next step she took, she stumbled and collapsed, her wounded leg unable to handle the exertion. She slid across the floor and struck Rex from behind, knocking him onto the ground.

A marine rushed to Rex’s side, helped him up and walked him over to the exit while he was still feeling dazed from the fall. The other two roughly picked Tara off the floor, ripped the goggles off her face and made her limp towards the exit behind Rex.

“You’re coming with us. I’m sure we can find a nice cozy place for you in GalCop custody.” gloated one of the marines.

Rex brushed the trooper beside him away. “No, she won’t. She’s not going anywhere.”

“Sir?” the soldier asked with concern.

“Rex, what are you doing?” questioned Tara.

Rex brandished his shotgun and loaded a round in the chamber. “I told you. I’m putting an end to your rule. Permanently.”

Her eyes widened and the troopers looked at him with worry. She effortlessly pushed them away and backed away from Rex. The marines didn’t stop her. There was nowhere to run. She limped towards the tall windows while Rex turned and pointed the shotgun at her.

“No!” She screamed while she hobbled away. “NO!”

Rex didn’t waver, flinch or hesitate. He pulled the trigger and she collapsed to the floor. But the blast didn’t kill her. She was too far for the weapon to be effective, and she was now a writhing, bloody mess on the ground. Rex walked over to her, menacingly pumping the handle and the used shell clattered noisily against the ground. She crawled away, desperately trying to distance herself from the maniac and his shotgun, but she was doing little else than spreading a trail of blood across the cold tiles.

She finally gave up and looked at him in the eye, bloody and defeated. Rex loomed over her as he raised the muzzle and pointed it directly at Tara. He closed one eye to improve his aim, a pointless gesture at this range. He wasn’t doing anything but drawing it out.

“Please,” she whimpered, “just do it.”

A smile slowly crept onto his face. That was something he never expected to hear from his nemesis, but now that he did, he couldn’t help it. Years of rebellion against her tyrannical rule, his desperate efforts versus her dominant power, and this was how it would finally end. The once untouchable dictator of Aerater lay beneath him, defeated, injured, and begging for his mercy. He lowered his boot on her bloodied shoulder and stared at her behind the weapon’s iron sights, savouring her expression as she squrimed, forever etching it into his mind. He took a breath to calm his rapid pulse, and prepared himself for closure at last, ready to do as Tara asked.

He squeezed the trigger, and after a loud gunshot, silence filled the room while Rex stood over her body. It was over. They were victorious. He won. Rex dropped the shotgun and his shoulders sagged in relief. He felt as if a cloud had just been lifted, a weight had been removed, and he took in the precious moments of tranquility. He walked over to the floor to ceiling windows and basked in the warm sunlight that now freely poured in.

“Rex, GalCop ships are on their way to the surface. Reinforcements are here.”

He looked at the sky and saw a legion of Komodo dropships approaching, undoubtedly full of additional marines to secure the city. He returned his gaze down to the main street and noticed that the black Boa was no longer there. Instead, there was a parked Viper off to the side and he saw the pilot rushing to the base of the Citadel. She let out a shrill, desperate scream and Rex followed her gaze. After a quick glance, he also darted out of the office and bolted down the stairs as fast as he could.

*

Jacob stopped mid-stride and turned around to face the landing ship. It was far too wide for the street, and it crushed the roofs of several buildings as it touched down. He held his ground in front of the Citadel while Langley jumped down from the ship and stormed over to him.

“Jacob, what are you doing?” demanded Rex.

“Go, get Harmon. I’ll deal with this.” Jacob told him before he turned to face Langley.

She walked over, face obscured by her combat helmet and when she spoke, it was filtered out of the speakers with the usual radio interference.

“You’re going to face me alone? How brave.” Her voice was full of venom. “Brave, but stupid.”

“They’re not involved. This is between you and me.”

“Damn right it its. You’re going to pay for what you’ve done.”

It was clear that there would be no talking his way out of this. Jacob pulled his handgun out from behind his back and took aim. “You can try, but I won’t go down without a fight.”

Langley whipped out her own pistol with practiced ease and continued to approach him. “Oh, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Her walk sped up into a jog, then a sprint. She charged at him recklessly, and once she was close enough that he was sure he wouldn’t miss, Jacob squeezed the trigger. Unfortunately, so did she, and they both fired within a split second. The shots slammed into their armour, and Jacob’s scavenged plates absorbed the damage, but blew open from the impact. He dropped to the floor to recover from the blast and glanced up to see what kind of injury he’d inflicted on Langley. A red, glowing circle was carved onto her armour, but she shrugged off the shot and kept running.

She dropped her gun in the sand and leapt on Jacob. With both hands free, she was able to violently tear the pistol out of his grip and tossed it aside.

“We don’t need these to take each other down.” She said, struggling to pin his arms to the ground. “Show me what you’re made of, traitor.”

Jacob wormed his hand free and threw a punch at her head. She was knocked to the side while his hand went numb from the collision against her reinforced helmet. He drew his arm back and hit her again and again, until there was a red splatter across her visor from his bloodied fist. She turned her head back to him and cocked her head to the side.

“That all you got?”

He bent his legs, planted his feet on her abdomen and pushed. She was forced off him and he took the opportunity to switch their positions. He pounced on her, keeping her on the ground while she struggled to free herself, and reached for a nearby rock. He smashed it against her helmet, but to his dismay, he didn’t even leave a dent, however Langley became disoriented by the more powerful strike. He raised the rock then brought it down again, and this time he could see the helmet chip. The next hit caused the chip to expand into a long, vertical fracture, and Jacob lifted the rock for the next blow.

But Langley was ready. Jacob only kept three of her four limbs pinned since his free hand held the rock, and her own unpinned hand was all she needed to regain the advantage. She reached out and stopped the attack before it landed again, and Jacob’s grip loosened in surprise. She wiggled her other arm free, grabbed him by the collar and pulled him close for a head-butt. She rolled out from under him and scrambled to her feet. Jacob struggled to stand up too, and when he did, Langley spun around and delivered a roundhouse kick to his side. He staggered and then turned to face her again, breathing heavily and staring at her behind a layer of sweat.

She cracked her knuckles and began to step closer to him. She charged again, and Jacob waited for the last moment, like a matador in a heated bullfight, and dove beneath her, grabbing her legs and flipped them up. Langley tumbled backwards into the sand and Jacob darted to her to continue his assault. He raised his boot to stomp on Langley, but she rolled aside before they connected. She jumped back to her feet, spun to face her opponent and grabbed Jacob’s incoming fist. She twisted it, pulled his arm taught in front of her, then chopped her forearm down on the back of his elbow. There was a loud snap as something broke and Jacob cried out in pain.

His limb was hanging at an unnatural angle, but he didn’t let that stop him. He ran at her, pressed his good arm against her neck and pushed her back until she slammed against the nearby Citadel. The breath was knocked out of her and Jacob spun her around, grabbed the back of her helmet and smashed it against the unforgiving metal. Langley gripped her head and slowly sank to the floor.

“Had enough?” he snarled.

She started to pick herself up and Jacob kicked her in the stomach. She paused to clench her fists but continued to rise. “Hell, no.” she gasped. “I’m just getting started.”

They clashed once more, punching, dodging and weaving. Blow landed after blow, and Jacob felt his bruised body straining from the effort. His scavenged civilian-grade armour couldn’t offer the same resistance as Langley’s advanced military plates, and every punch that hit him, he certainly felt, but when he landed several hits of his own, she barely reacted to any of them. Her breathing became heavy and rough, but instead of tiring, the fight just seemed to add fuel to her violent fury. They continued to spar, and Langley was ruthlessly draining his endurance. He felt himself tiring out and his movements began to slow. It didn’t take long before he made a mistake.

He saw the punch coming, but there was nothing he could do about it. His arm made a feeble attempt to block it, but he was too sluggish, and it collided with his face, causing the world to spin. She kicked his legs apart, forcing Jacob on one knee and she kicked his leg again at the joint, snapping that too. Jacob collapsed to the floor and he rolled around, trying to stand, but he couldn’t. He was beaten.

“Get up.” said Langley. “Come on, get up! I’m not finished with you yet.” She picked him off the ground, savagely beating him across the face before she tossed him away.

Jacob lifted his head out of the sand and felt a spark of hope when he saw his pistol, lying just out of his reach. Langley had forgotten about it and accidentally threw him right in front of it. He painfully crawled over, making sure to use his battered figure to block Langley’s view of the gun.

“I’d love to stay and finish you off myself, but it sounds like your fleet managed to pull a victory out of its ass.” said Langley, turning her back to him and began to walk away. “My crew’s telling me I have to go before GalCop arrives, so I’ve got to leave you here. I want you to remember this, the day you crossed me, the day you thought you could face me, and lost. Don’t forget this for the rest of your miserable life.” She bent down to pick her own handgun out of the ground. “For however short that may be.”

Langley threateningly turned around and aimed her pistol, but was astonished to see him already standing with his own handgun raised. There was barely a moment’s hesitation before the round was fired, and the gunshot echoed throughout the empty boulevard. Langley stood motionless, in shock at what she’d just seen. Jacob felt his tired arm drop to his side, and the gun fell out of his loosening grip. She took an involuntary step back and her breathing became deeper and more rapid.

Jacob dropped to his knees and looked down at his battered chest plate. His broken arm twitched as he brushed it across the armour’s open hole, and he began to shudder when he saw it return slick with blood. It oozed out of the bullet wound in a steady flow and began to seep into the sand, staining it a deep red. The colour began to drain from his face and the world, and he felt dizzy. He collapsed on the ground and began to bleed out.

“Captain, hurry up, we have to leave!”

Zhang’s shouts snapped Langley out of her trance, and she holstered her pistol, the barrel still warm from being fired. She quickly ran back aboard the Artemis, leaving Jacob alone in the sand. The ship quickly lifted off and shot skyward, avoiding the column of incoming Komodos and left the atmosphere. They carefully snuck around the Coalition fleet in orbit, and promptly jumped out of the system.

Jacob helplessly watched them go while he lay on his back, and he tried to shift himself into a different position, but his body wouldn’t move. He saw the advancing dropships and thought they were some kind of metallic Valkyries, coming to whisk him away. He noticed a Viper at the head of their formation, and it quickly dropped down and landed on the street. He felt the thumping of approaching footsteps and could’ve sworn he heard someone call his name, so he glanced over and saw Sam rushing to his side. He was surprised that she was here, but was glad to see her regardless.

Jacob!

Her mouth moved in the shape of his name, but he couldn’t hear anything. She looked worried, but he couldn’t understand why. He didn’t feel any pain, only calm, but she seemed to panic at the sight of him. He wanted to tell her not to worry, but he couldn’t make the sounds. He raised his arm towards her and she gripped it hard. He couldn’t do anything except stare, but she broke eye contact and looked at something behind him. He craned his neck back, and saw Rex standing over him, his eyes wide in alarm. Sam looked around and let out a desperate cry.

Medic!

Rex looked up too and shouted as loud as he could. Medic! We need a medic over here!

His eyelids felt heavy. It was becoming difficult to keep them open and they fluttered as he began to drift off. A marine ran over with a cross displayed prominently on his armour and medkit in hand.

Hurry! Move your ass, trooper!

He kneeled next to Jacob and opened the kit. What happened to him? mouthed the soldier.

What the hell does it look like? He’s been shot!

Command, we have a man down. He’s in critical condition, GSW through the torso, several broken limbs. He’s fading fast. He looked over at Rex. I don’t know if he’s going to make it, sir.

Jacob was getting tired. His eyelids drooped further until they finally shut. He was surrounded by a vast emptiness, but fought to stay awake. Eventually, he let go, leaving the galaxy behind and fell backwards into the comforting embrace of unconsciousness.


Last edited by my ammo crate on Mon Jun 13, 2016 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Rebellious Three
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:54 am 
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Part 11


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 Post subject: Re: The Rebellious Three
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:55 am 
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Part 12


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 Post subject: Re: The Rebellious Three
PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 3:03 am 
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Part 2 is now up.

I've barely started, and I can begin to see why people normally don't put everything all clumped up together...this is going to be one long page. Ho boy.


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 Post subject: Re: The Rebellious Three
PostPosted: Mon Feb 29, 2016 2:33 am 
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Here's part 3.

Well, I haven't heard from anyone since I started this, and it feels a little...strange? Honestly I'm not sure how to describe it, but I can tell you it doesn't feel great. I realize that this is nowhere near grade-A writing (and that's why I'm not a professional writer) and not much has happened yet, but I'd still like to hear your thoughts. I don't want you to pull compliments out of thin air, but I wouldn't mind having some kind of feedback. I hope I didn't come off as a bit of an asshole. It's just really quiet around here, and I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

So, what do you guys think so far? Do you like it/hate it or whatever? Mildly interested or don't care at all?


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 Post subject: Re: The Rebellious Three
PostPosted: Mon Feb 29, 2016 1:41 pm 
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Thing is, the forum generally is in the doldrums, and interest in Oolite fiction is almost non-existent.
Lack of comment doesn't necessarily mean no-one likes it... though it may seem that way. Ho-hum!

Somewhat discouraging, I know... it's stopped me writing any more fiction.

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