Ascendancy (R-Violence, Language, Drama)

Unrelated stories that take place in a setting besides Star Wars...

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Kruller
Posts: 36
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2005 6:20 pm

Ascendancy (R-Violence, Language, Drama)

Post by Kruller » Tue May 30, 2006 11:25 pm

OOC: Closed.

Violence, language, drama, mature themes etc.

Post Forthcoming. Hope you enjoy, I'm actually gonna try to keep this one going for once.

Kruller
Posts: 36
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2005 6:20 pm

Post by Kruller » Sat Jul 01, 2006 1:58 pm

“Nice tattoo. Is that new?”


Mason mumbled, “Yeah.” as he pulled on a plain grey shirt followed by his dark blue uniform jacket, not an easy task as he was half hunched over in the cramped cabin shared by the junior officers. “Get some rest, you’ll need it.”

“Don’t worry, I will, I think I’ll write home to my folks on New Utah.” the man who was now occupying the bunk Mason had just vacated. The man was a “day” shifter, which meant his usual twelve hour shift last from 0400 hours until 1600 hours Imperial Standard Time. Today, the man had been relieved early, which was unfortunate, because that meant he was in the bunk before Mason was ready for duty. Which allowed him to strike up a conversation, something Mason was uninterested in at this moment, and as he was the only other person in the cabin, it meant he was the only victim available.

“I’m so happy for you.” Mason said sarcastically as he straightened his uniform jacket, strapped his side-arm to his belt and stepped out of the cabin. He straightened up to his full six feet of height, and walked down the brightly lit corridor at a brisk pace heading for the bridge.

Mason was a “night” shifter which meant his shift lasted from 1600 hours till 0400 hours, which meant his bunk was usually cold by the time that other guy got to the cabin and vice versa. He never even bothered to learn the man’s name, as he only saw him once every month or two if that and the man was fairly new to the ship anyways. He probably would be gone within a month or so anyways, replaced by someone new.

Mason only bothered learning the names of those he worked with, or saw on a daily basis. He had served aboard this ship for over four years now. The Imperial, Eagle Attack-class Destroyer Esquire was one of the most powerful ships in the entire Imperial fleet, crewed and commanded by some of Humanity’s finest. The Esquire was the only true power in this sector of space or it least it had been for the last decade.

The Esquire while remaining the largest ship in this sector, was about to have some serious competition, a brand new ship, the Imperial, Dragon-class Destroyer was about to start her maiden cruise within the next day she was supposed to take her station, freeing up the Esquire to concentrate on its new, smaller then before jurisdiction. The Esquire was losing around thirty of its main crew to the new ship, including several officers from the Tactical Operations Division, said officers would not be replaced, which meant that Mason would be picking up extra duties, hopefully the smaller jurisdiction would mean that it would be less work overall, but Mason feared that it would not be so.

In addition to the crew transferring, there were several officers who had either not renewed their commissions or were retiring after many years of distinguished service. Unfortunately, among these were both the executive officer, and the commanding officer of the Esquire, Commander Jones and Captain Keller had both put in their notice of retirement, and were already set up on the outside for civilian life. Commander Jones had taken a post captaining civilian supply transports for the military, and Captain Keller had opened up a business back on Earth that catered to those who still preferred the so called “wet” ships that still sailed the waters of humanity’s home.

Captain Keller had served aboard starships, military and civilian for more then forty years, and he had been Captain for many of those later years, and had captained the Esquire since about three days before Mason came aboard. In those four years the wealth he made as her captain would have secured his financial future even if he had saved nothing until that point.

The sector patrolled by the Esquire was extremely prosperous and contained planets with higher wealth per capita then anywhere in the Empire. Many of the residents only live there part time, but still, they had vested interests in the region they wanted protected, and were willing to pay to make sure their interests were protected over the interests of others if there became a case of decision. Being Captain had its advantages after all.

Part of Mason’s duty was to make sure the Captain paid his dues of course, and remained loyal to the Emperor. Of course, this was supposed to be every soldier’s and officer’s duty, but Mason had more specific orders, and training to assist him in carrying out those orders. Mason carried two ranks, and followed orders from two separate chains of command, he only reported everything to one of those. He also received two salaries…had to have some incentive besides sheer patriotism to carry out one’s duty after all.

In the Imperial Navy, he wore the rank of Lieutenant, but he also carried the rank of Major in the Imperial Intelligence Division, which often referred to as Deuce by the officers in it. Of course no one besides his direct superiors in Deuce knew of his position or rank in Intelligence. Mason was certain there were others aboard the Esquire also secretly in Deuce, but who they were, what they did for Deuce or how many there were he hadn’t the slightest idea.

One didn’t rise to the rank of Major in Deuce by asking a lot of questions one didn’t need to know. Mason only knew his own mission, which was to take command of the vessel if the commanding officers became disloyal or displayed traitorous actions. If he was unable to take control of the vessel his orders were to destroy or disable it to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. He sent out regular reports to his superiors which included anything he thought was suspicious or disloyal. Deuce had agents to take care of anything and everything they deemed necessary.

Of course there were overt Deuce officers aboard the ship, they were part of the Military Intelligence branch of Deuce, and they provided Intel on anything the Esquire was bound to come across, often which ships had contraband or wanted persons also they knew which ships were not to be boarded and searched, and directed the ship accordingly.

Mason reached the blast doors to the bridge and typed in his access code, the doors slid open and he stepped through. He snapped a crisp salute to the other officers on duty, who returned his salute in turn. He still had a few minutes before his shift was supposed to begin, but he moved to take his station anyways. The bridge was long and wide enough to house the few dozen stations required, the bridge had a single forward viewport, which was a transparent materiel hardened and strengthened to withstand most blasts up to and including a direct strafing run by fighter and bomber sized craft. That is, as long as they we not using nukes or even Slayer-class burrower rockets.

Mason shrugged, if either one was the case, it wouldn’t really matter, the viewports were as strong as any other point on the composite-alloy hull and armor plate. If they were pierced, the hull certainly was. The hull was composed of and armored by numerous layers of composite-alloy armor. The armor utilized both modern very light, and incredible strong and durable composite materials, made in a similar fashion to ancient carbon composites or fiber-glass, and colony age metallic alloys made up of elements such a titanium.

The average ground pounder wore similar armor to this, the composite-alloy materiel was light, durable, fireproof, cheap and best of all was easily molded and designed to fit the wearer. Compared to the ancient knights of Old Europe the average ground pounder wore little armor weight wise, usually not more then fifteen pounds, but the armor could stop a high powered rifle round from penetrating at point blank range. Then again weapons had changed over the years too.

It was a never ending battle that had been going on since the time of Rome, when an armorer crafted a better suit of armor, a weapons crafter would design a sword to pierce that armor. Today the weapons had not changed that much in concept from the weapons of old, point and shoot, they had just been…upgraded. Rifles, pistols and other small arms weapons had not changed so much over the years that they would be unrecognizable, in fact their basic design was similar. except now, gunpowder was no longer used as a propellant in weapons. Well, not ancient gunpowder anyways, these days the refined, and redesigned mix of “gunpowder” was used, this propelled a ferromagnetic round from the chamber, through the weapon’s solenoid power by capacitors in the weapons power cell which would accelerate the round even further. The electro-magnetic capacitors gave the weapon a peculiar, zap like sound when firing. These days a small caliber pistol round had the velocity, range, and power many times that of a 21st century high powered rifle round. Of course, while accuracy had been improved, a rifle still had better far better accuracy at range.

The weapons themselves were made from the same non-magnetic composite materiel as the armor, the weapons overall had slightly increased in size by necessity. Mason looked down at his own side arm. The pistol could have easily looked like one of its 21st century ancestors, except for the very noticeable difference of the power pack and capacitor assembly which was placed at just the right point in front of the trigger to give the weapon the right balance. Of course the best part was that if one ran out of power packs, they could still fire the weapon using its standard gunpowder propellant, this would shorten the range and decrease the power of the round, but it would still kill, after all, while armor crafters may have created better armor, the human skin had not hardened much over the years.

The main cannons of the Esquire were in fact very similar to Mason’s side arm, except these were of a much larger scale and had features Mason wished his pistol had. The trio of heavy cannons carried on the Esquire fired much larger tungsten alloy rounds that could penetrate all but the toughest starship grade composite-alloy armor with a single volley. The auto loading chambers let the cannons fire several times a minute. In addition to the trio of cannons the Esquire sported twenty Ballista-class torpedo ports which fired the guided ship-ship heavy torpedoes designed for the destruction of standard capital class vessels and large freighters. The Esquire also had ten Slayer-class burrower rocket ports which fired the multipurpose weapons designed for either penetrating and exploding deep in ships, stations, or used as space-surface weapons against fortified bunkers. For point defense the Esquire had fifty Swatter class point defense guns scattered across its hull, these guns with their overlapping fields of fire could fill the space around the Esquire with enough rounds to keep anything from getting through. In addition to all that Esquire’s launch bays held two squadrons of small craft. One squadron of single man fighter-interceptor craft, and one squadron of the three man bomber-gunship craft.

The Esquire also carried something special, two platoons of marines, and its launch bays were equipped with the launchers required for their Orbital Squad Insertion Pods. The pods would not only protect the soldiers but carried enough gear and equipment to supply the soldiers for several days of fighting. Their intended use aboard the Esquire was for fast response against insurrections on planets in a particular system, as the pods were always loaded with just about anything the marines might need to hold out for reinforcements from dedicated troop carriers that would surely be on their way. And depending on the colony, sometimes a few marines would be more then enough to hold the world, or at least pave the way for the reinforcements.

After Mason took his station he loaded his control configuration on the console, and did an active sensor sweep of the system, nothing special. One small colony world with a decent population and a few dozen civilian vessels swarming around it in orbit, with a smattering of freighters running trips between the green-blue colony world and its pale rust colored moon, covered in spots by large mining settlements extracting and processing the abundant iron deposits. A few local patrol ships buzzed around the system’s small trading station. Business as usual.

Commander James Andreckio, the new executive officer, was on duty. Commander Jones was getting dropped off in this system, his new civilian ship was docked with the trading station. Commander Andreckio was one of the nicer officers Mason had worked with, the man was actually willing to pull his weight, and favored the Tactical Operations Division for help.

Mason appreciated it, and when the man was on duty worked twice as hard as usual to show his appreciation. His console beeped and he saw a message scrolling across, it was from the local patrol ships. They had a freighter with a ‘board on sight’ order attached to its transponder codes. Patrol ships were in pursuit but the freighter was evidently modified and was out running them.

Commander Andreckio, obviously apprised of the situation, stepped up to Mason and said, “Lieutenant Jadot, what is your suggestion?”

Mason would have preferred to simply arm a Ballista and send it on its way so much easier. But orders were orders after all. “Sir, I’d dispatch our interceptor squadron to cut off the freighter’s escape vector, and a flight of bombers to disable the ship’s engines if necessary.”

“Lieutenant, have you ever heard the term ‘overkill’?” Andreckio asked, “That’s a lot of firepower to send after one measly freighter.”

“Exactly, an overwhelming show of force will show these locals that we mean business, the crew of that freighter will more then likely shut down and let themselves be boarded by the locals rather then wait for our boarding team to get there. It’s called an object lesson, what better method to get our point across but to let the criminals do it for us, if they know we’ll blast them out of the sky if they run, they won’t run.” Mason outlined

“Perhaps, but maybe not. It’s important that we give the right impression to the public as well.” Andreckio said thoughtfully, then gave the appropriate orders to carry out Mason’s plan. “We shall see if your idea pans out Lieutenant.”

Andreckio looked over Mason’s shoulder at his tactical screens, and sure enough once the fighters had launched and positioned themselves, the freighter had killed its engines and prepared to be boarded.

Andreckio neither looked impressed, nor surprised, he smiled slyly and moved off to another station.

Mason wanted to laugh, the superiors were always testing him, he might not be the fastest officer at making system checks or performing sensor sweeps, or even firing the Esquire’s cannons, but he did it right, and by god he didn’t miss anything. He also was dead on with his aim, he could take out a capital ship’s bridge on his first shot. He had long ago given up on trying to reason with the other officers and his commanders. He received “Meets Expectations” on his performance evaluations, just enough to keep him from getting his pay cut or disciplinary actions.

The last straw was when he had reported to his superior, Lieutenant Commander Robert Yakinchuk one of his fellow officer’s actions which were sheer laziness and it created more work for Mason and other officers in the Tactical Operations Division, afterwards Yakinchuk had buckled down on Mason, not the other officer, he had nit picked everything Mason had done from then on. The other officer received no disciplinary action. It was infuriating, but Mason took comfort in the fact that if it became unbearable that one day he would write up a report to his superiors in Intelligence, and hopefully get the men either reassigned or executed.

He would of done it already, but Yakinchuk was actually fairly competent as head of the Tactical Operations Division. It was rare, the last division head had been a complete moron, barely competent. In Mason’s opinion the Empire had grown complacent, its commanders more concerned with their officer’s abilities to brown nose rather then their ability to command troops and ships. Mason believed that what the Empire really needed to get out of its stagnation was a good war, even just a few decent sized colonies in open revolt would do it. Maybe the Social-Political Division of Deuce could stir the pot a little on some of the outer colonies. He made a mental note to suggest that to his superiors next time he was back at Imperial Intelligence on New Rome.

He performed a few more system sensor sweeps, still nothing out of the ordinary, he settled in for another boring shift, it was odd, when he was off duty, he usually wished he were on duty so he’d be doing something, and when he was on duty, he wished he were off duty, so at least he wouldn’t have to stand here doing nothing but performing sensor sweeps and system checks all day.

Mason was hoping they’d announce shore leave, he had a lot of time in for his age, which meant he would have dibs on shore leave slots before people with less time then he, since he had more time then most on his shift, he could get the choicer spots.

He watched the locals tow the freighter back to the trade station, where it’d be extensively searched and then impounded. Mason’s guess, probably smugglers trying to avoid the tariffs, or trafficking illicit drugs or banned weapons. Could be just about anything. He almost wished the Esquire had picked up the freighter, he could’ve made the excuse to go down there and check out the ship himself, or maybe even assist in the interrogation, at least it’d be something different to do.

He sighed, and glanced around the bridge, eyes lingering briefly on one of the two fully armored marines standing guard at the blast doors to the bridge, on the upside at least he didn’t have to stand around holding a rifle and wearing that armor all day every day. He probably would’ve ‘accidentally’ discharged his rifle by now if he had that duty.

Luckily for Mason he only had to play ground pounder once every two months to keep up his ratings in vehicles and small arms and personal armor. He was cross trained on half the job classes and equipment in the Empire, he just hoped no one asked him to fix it. He knew how to maintain the gear, and could probably guess his way through a lot of the repairs, but other then that you might as well throw it at a wall, it’d probably work better afterwards. Mason sighed again, and wondered when he’d have a chance to head down to the mess deck and get some chow.

Kruller
Posts: 36
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2005 6:20 pm

Post by Kruller » Tue Jul 04, 2006 12:21 am

Klaxons blared. Mason came awake and sat up, pistol in hand. Due to the lack of space, in the process he slammed his forehead into the bunk above him, nearly rendering himself unconscious. He cursed as he fell back onto his pillow and rolled out of bed, vision slightly blurred, and head throbbing, but at least he was awake now.

“All personal to stations, this is not a drill; I repeat this is not a drill. Hostiles inbound.” stated the smooth feminine voice over the ships speakers, the other two dozen officers who had also been asleep in the cabin scrambled to get into their uniforms and get out the door at least half dressed.

Mason pulled on the uniform trousers he had worn the day before over the shorts he usually wore to sleep, and pulled on his boots, he had lost a sock during the night, but he didn’t think that would really matter right now. He grabbed his uniform jacket and made his way out the door, pulling his jacket on as he did so. He pushed his way through the crowded corridor towards the bridge; he kept up a brisk pace but did not run like all the others were.

He felt a trio of thumps in the deck in rapid succession, at this he quickened his pace, he had felt those thumps enough times to know exactly what they were. The main cannons of the Esquire were being fired, which meant whoever they were fighting had capital ships at least close to the size of the Esquire. To Mason’s knowledge, there were no pirate groups that had that kind of firepower. To Mason’s knowledge, no one had that kind of firepower outside of the Imperial Navy. It couldn’t be some off the wall cult or even rebels or anyone Mason could even remotely think of.

The ship shuttered slightly, and the lights in the corridor flickered, those were weapon hits! And definitely capital ship sized weapons; one didn’t make a fifteen hundred meter vessel shake by firing at it with anything less. The corridor thickened, and the crowd became near frantic crewmembers pushing over each other to get to their stations. It was slowing Mason down, so he simply raised a hand in the air and shouted, “Tactical officer coming through!”

This elicited more of a response than Mason expected, and he said quietly, “Well call me Moses.” He ran down the corridor to the bridge only having to announce himself a few more times. As several series of thumps reverberated through the deck, Mason grew concerned; he had fired every weapon on the ship numerous times, and could tell by the thump exactly what was being fired. Because of this he could recognize each thump that wasn’t being caused by the Esquire’s weapons, and he had felt too many thumps that could only be weapon impacts.

His hands shook as he tried to punch in his access code at the bridge, he had to punch it in three times to get it to open. The door slid open and his first thought was that it was calmer in the corridor. Officers ran back and forth between stations, orders were being shouted back and forth and Mason only needed one look at his immediate superior, Lieutenant Commander Yakinchuk, who was pale as a sheet to know that today was not a good day.

“Sir, what’s the sit rep?” Mason asked as he saluted, his commander didn’t return it.

“Six hours ago we got a distress call from New Constantinople, we’re in system now. As soon as we arrived out of FTL we detected numerous hostile contacts, four of which are destroyer size capital class warships, the garrison here didn’t stand a chance. As for who are they? We haven’t a clue.” his other immediate superior, Lieutenant Commander Lacey Armstrong filled him in.

Mason nodded and said, “What are my orders?”

“Takeover the main cannons from Lieutenant Kendal, he’s not hitting a damn thing anyway.” Lt. Commander Yakinchuk ordered

Mason nodded, now was not the time to say “I told ya so”, he moved over to the primary tactical station and kicked Kendal off. Part of him wished Kendal had refused, Mason would have enjoyed pistol whipping the man. Though Kendal apparently had realized that he was in over his head, as Mason loaded his control configuration he took a deep breath and checked over his tactical screens, his fingers flying across the controls. He kept most of his attention to his main targets, the four warships ranged from nine hundred meters at the smallest to just over sixteen hundred at the largest. At least a dozen smaller capital craft swarmed around their larger kin, ranging from cutters size at around seventy meters to the size of large frigates at six hundred meters but these were not his quarry, it would be wasteful to target them at this time.

While Mason would have preferred to train his cannons on the largest ship first, that was exchanging a broadside with the Esquire’s port side, and the next largest was exchanging a broadside with the Esquire’s ventral side. The main cannons, whose barrels ran the length of the ship could only fire at targets in front of the Esquire.

Which was unfortunate for the smallest destroyer sized warship, as it’s course would take it directly in front of the Esquire, he set his targeting computer to calculate the hostile ship’s speed as it made it’s firing run, he did a quick overlook of the ship’s sensor profile as he charged the cannons. He guessed what he thought to structural weak points or important points, and set up his targeting points accordingly, those points were directly ahead of the Esquire, points of empty space. He waited, and toned out Kendal, who was saying something about Mason being incompetent and not going to hit anything. He linked the firing commands on the cannons to a single key, and checked their status one last time, he blinked, then jammed his finger down on that key. To the untrained, it was a single, very large thump, but Mason could feel the three thumps individually.

The triplets sped away from the Esquire, and the enemy ship sped towards its date with them. The rounds struck simultaneously, one near the bow of the ship, which Mason hoped was the bridge, one amidships, and the other in the stern just ahead of the engine module.

Anyone looking out the forward viewports would have seen the ship actually jump away from the Esquire, the round that struck amidships must have hit their primary missile magazine as the enemy ship basically shattered. Countless pieces of metal and whatever else it was made out of flew everywhere. The fore and aft of the ship shot out and away as the mid-ship section exploded. The result even destroyed a few enemy cutters sized craft and even a frigate that had been near the ship. Mason couldn’t help but smile in pride as a quick cheer went up from those who witnessed it either on their screens or out the viewport.

He even heard Captain Keller shout across the din, “Damn good shot Jadot!”

Mason watched his weapon status board, as he looked for his next target, the smaller enemy craft were too busy taking evasive action to pay any attention to the Esquire, and none of the destroyers or even larger frigates were in front of the Esquire. In the distance he saw half a dozen large ships some as big or bigger then the Esquire, although they didn’t appear to be warships, they were still hostile. He set up targeting points, their speed was minimal, so he only really had to adjust for the minor gravitational influence from nearby planet New Constantinople, and the debris ahead.

His weapon status board lit up green, and he fired away each cannon separately according to his tactical computer’s timing. He watched as an enemy cutter dodged a chunk of debris, and weaved directly into the second round’s path, the heavy round tore through the cutter as if it were just empty space. The rounds sped on their paths, and Mason watched as the ships in the distance, attempted to maneuver away, they weren’t very fast at all, and definitely not fast enough. The first round split its target like a dry log, the ship was evidentially some sort of ammo carrier, as it lit up like a string of firecrackers. Multiple chains of explosions tore through the ship, ripping it to shreds.

The next two rounds tore through their targets like an arrow through a rotten orange, they apparently were not armored at all, and as they disintegrated Mason magnified one of his cameras, and at a glance knew that those ships, both over two thousand meters long had been packed full of enemy ground troops. He returned that camera to its default view, he didn’t mourn the loss of any enemy, but he would rather not expose himself to that. Only his training kept him from vomiting on the deck, others…weren’t so restrained.

The Esquire had reoriented by the time his cannons were ready to fire again. Captain Keller wasn’t stupid, he knew that even a ship as powerful as the Esquire couldn’t stand up to this kind of punishment forever, the enemy ships were firing some sort of plasma cannons along with missiles and torpedoes, along with what appeared to be some sort of energy beam which carved gashes in the ship’s armor. The combined fire had burned and gouged deep holes in the Esquire’s armor. Of course the Esquire had taken quite a few bites out of the enemy ships as well, each Ballista-class torpedo was about three meters long and a meter in diameter, while each Slayer-class burrower rocket was about ten meters long and three in diameter. Needless to say, the Esquire was giving better then it got, but that wouldn’t last forever.

The Esquire had already recalled its remaining small craft, and had plotted an escape vector, its FTL drives were charging up and almost ready to go.

The largest of the enemy destroyer-warships positioned itself directly in the Esquire’s path, and stopped. Several of the large frigates surrounded their larger brother, while the two remaining enemy destroyers and their smaller kin wrought havoc along the Esquire’s dorsal and starboard sides.

“You’d think they’d have learned by now, Mr. Jadot, make us a hole.” Captain Keller ordered.

“Aye sir. I’d recommend we go to full flank speed.” Mason said, and the Captain gave the order to carry it out.

Mason had already made his calculations, he aimed all three of his cannons in a perpendicular line to the destroyer’s hull in the center of the enemy destroyer, where its hanger bay lay. Mason linked the cannons again, and when ready stabbed the firing key.

The rounds sped out and impacted the enemy destroyer, ripping right through its carnivorous hanger decks, the force of the impact and the ensuing explosions split the destroyer in two, the two sections jutted away, plowing through the other ships too close to move out of the way. A fireball consumed the oxygen that escaped from the dying ship. As it the fireball burned itself out in the gorging that ended its own life, the Esquire plowed through the space, collision alarms blared but Mason didn’t hear them. He didn’t notice that the ship’s Faster Than Light drives accelerated it past the speed of light. He didn’t hear the report that the enemy wasn’t pursuing, nor did he hear the resulting cheers…



For the next few minutes, which felt like an eternity, nothing really mattered to Mason, not the fact that he was drenched with sweat, so much so it felt like his boots were half-way filled with it; not that his throat was so parched it could have consumed an ocean, nor the fact that his back was beginning to hurt from all the heavy slapping it was enduring from the other elated crew, and even a bear hug from someone. He did not even notice his superiors coming, complimenting him, and vigorously shaking his limp hands, nothing. Numerous salutes, it didn’t matter, he didn’t flinch, he didn’t shake, it did not matter. It did not even matter that he survived. All he could thing of was what he had done.

Mason knew he had killed before, pirates and raiders mainly, but he never thought of the people, in his mind it was always just a ship, a machine, a hunk of metal. Until he had seen those troop transports. It did not even hit him at first, the destroyers, the troop transports, the ammunition carrier, the image of every ship that he had destroyed, directly or indirectly. His mind flashed to the image of his sensor screens and the red blips that had blinked out when ships had been destroyed. Merely guessing from what crew compliments Imperial ships of the same size carried, his mind estimated that in less then an hour, he had killed tens of thousands of people or whatever the enemy was.

He laughed out loud, it was a cruel, sick laugh, he had killed so many people, and he didn’t even know who they were, or even if they were human at all, they were roughly humanoid anyway. He didn’t notice the others laughing too, though theirs was not the same, it was more jovial, they laughed not because they realized the sick irony, but because Mason laughed, and at this point, it didn’t matter to them what it was about, they wanted to join in, be like him, do what he did.

Part of Mason tried to rationalize it all away, and a voice in his head shouted, “They Started It!”, “They Attacked YOU!”, “You Did What You Had To Do!”, “This Is War!”, “You Are A Soldier!”, “Think Of All The People They Killed!”, “You Saved More Lives Then You Ended!”, “It Was Them Or You!”, “They Were Gonna Kill Your Friends!”.

Most of Mason was swayed by this rationale, and just rationalized it away, yet part of him remained, ashamed of himself for killing those people, enemy soldiers or not. Mason’s mind closed in on this part, isolated it and wrapped it up, sending it to the very bowels of his being, out of sight out of mind. That part of him was locked away with everything else he had ever regretted doing.

He was so caught up in his own thoughts that he didn’t realize that several bottles of liquor had been brought from the officer’s mess, and glasses filled and passed around. One had been placed in Mason’s hand, and a toast had been raised by the Captain in his honor and the honor of all those aboard who had won out and survived.

Mason heard himself say before he drained his glass “To the honor of the fallen!”

He heard the others repeat it, though they thought he only meant it for those on their side.

The part of Mason that rationalized it all away locked that last part of Mason away, in its deep, dank dungeon. Hoping it would never to see the light of day again...

Kruller
Posts: 36
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2005 6:20 pm

Post by Kruller » Mon Jul 10, 2006 6:29 pm

It had been four days since the Esquire had engaged the still unknown enemy at New Constantinople, it had taken that long just for the Esquire to travel from there to New Kyoto colony, even when going faster than light space was still big, and not many stars had planets to terraform.

Mason walked down the corridor towards the airlock closest to the junior officers quarters, he had a duffel back slung over his shoulder, most of the crew had been given shore leave when the Esquire had reached New Kyoto. The colony was the largest, and most industrialized colony in the sector, not to mention it was the home to one of the few major shipyards outside of the Sol system, and one of the very few places a ship the size of the Esquire could be repaired.

As Mason passed through the open airlock and into the spacewalk, he looked through the clear glass viewports sides, already workers in repair tugs were pulling off large sheets of armor and replacing the damage or ruined sections as best they could, it might be a day or two before the Esquire was ready for combat, the crew members who were not aiding in repairing, reloading, or refueling the ship were given shore leave to go down to New Kyoto or to go to one of the nearby trading stations. They were simply told to keep their mouths shut, and their comms open.

Many of the officers and crewmembers who had broken down during the battle were being transferred to the Sector Command Station for Psych evaluation. Others for debriefing, thankfully Mason had been spared of this for now, and allowed to go on shore leave with the rest. He passed through spacewalk and onto the shipyard station. Those with family living on New Kyoto were greeted by relatives. Mason followed the others as they moved towards the station’s shuttle bay, where they could catch a ride down to the surface.

Mason wanted to get away from it all for a while, so he headed towards an orbital cargo skimmer, he waved to the skimmer’s captain when he approached and called out “What district you going to?”

“Commercial district, you need a ride kid?” the skimmer’s middle-aged skipper replied with an easy smile.

“Any places there to have a good time?” Mason asked shifting his gear bag to his other shoulder.

“Sure, there’s plenty of places for young officers like yourself, woman there like men in uniform and they serve good liquor straight from Earth, not that backwater piss they serve in some of the other colonies.” The skipper answered, wrestling the last cargo crate into the skimmer’s cargo hold and securing the hatch.

The older man patted the skimmer’s hull affectionately and said, “She’s not much for looks, and you can’t pack as much in her as you could my last wife, but she’s more reliable and loyal then any woman I’ve ever met.”

Mason laughed at this and said, “I’m sure she’s wonderful, but I’ll take a real woman any day.”

“Eh? Suit youth when are they gonna learn,” the skipper muttered, “So do you want a ride to the surface or not?”

“Sure, I’ll give ya twenty Terrans for the trip.” Mason offered. Terrans were the Empire’s standardized currency, and all government and military personnel were paid with them. Terrans were also the only accepted currency in the Imperial Sector, which encompassed the Sol system and many other important systems. However, in the far outposts of the Empire, Terrans were not as accepted, many colonies opting for a barter system rather then using the currency.

“Bah, I was a fighter jock when I was your age, save your money for drinks and woman.” the older man said with a smile as he clapped Mason on the shoulder and led him into the tiny cockpit.

“You know kid, when I was your age…” the skimmer captain began recounting some story from his youth, and Mason pretended to be listening intently as they rode down to the surface.

Kruller
Posts: 36
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2005 6:20 pm

Post by Kruller » Wed Jul 12, 2006 2:18 pm

New Kyoto was a beautiful world, one of the first worlds to be terraformed outside of the Imperial sector and as such it had many years to build up to this point. The massive shipyard complex in orbit could be seen any time it was overhead, provided there was no cloud cover.

New Kyoto City was a huge metropolitan area taking up several hundred kilometers in every direction, including several kilometers up. Outside of the city were large factories and manufacturing planets, and the rest of the planet was taken up by agriculture with a few sparsely populated settlements.

However the City, as it was called, was the only real spaceport on the planet, and it was the home of the 132nd Imperial Legion and its hundred thousand legionaries. The legionaries had their barracks spread out all across the city so that they could easily supplement local police forces if necessary.

Often the legionaries accompanied the local police on patrol, and it was not unusual to see squads and even platoons of legionaries in full armor marching lock step down the street their grey-black armor polished to a bright sheen. After seeing such a display, most criminals had second thoughts about plying their trade on New Kyoto.

The almost non-existent crime rate was only part of the reason many people loved the colony, and the other, was that it was one of the cleanest colonies in the Empire, and on a sunny day it seemed the whole city gleamed and littering carried a stiff fine which usually included hours of community service cleaning.

Mason had never actually set foot on New Kyoto itself, the other times the Esquire had been at the colony Mason had either slept through the stay, or had been otherwise occupied aboard ship. This time however Mason had determined not to even go back to the ship until the crew was recalled. After the skimmer captain had so kindly dropped him off with the rest of his cargo, Mason had bid the man farewell and headed for the nearest Legion barracks.

The Legionaries and their Captain had treated him as one of their own, and made him an honored guest despite the customary rivalry between ground pounders and swabbies such as himself. Mason thought it might be because of his ratings on their equipment, the legionaries had been surprised and a little impressed when he correctly answered their questions about Legion equipment and regulations.

After some good natured banter the legionaries had provided him with a bunk and footlocker to stow his gear, and pointed him in the direction of a decent nightclub some even promising to buy him a drink or two when they got off duty.

It was late evening and Mason was approaching said nightclub after a fresh shower which he had drawn out into a half hour affair, relishing every last undisturbed drop. He had changed into a casual, yet respectable outfit and put on his good cologne, after styling his hair with some sort of spray on stuff that made it silky soft.

A large screen across the front of the building displayed a dragon flying majestically through the stars which occasionally morphed into the words “Club Dragon”. Several legionaries and local police stood by outside, the legionaries at attention with their assault rifles across their chests. The message to not start trouble was clear. Mason entered the short, fast moving line and after having his age verified with a quick retinal scan to check his identity he was waved in. A quick flash of his Military Identification Card waived the fifty Terran cover charge.

It also discouraged the club’s security officers from patting him down, but out of curtsey he showed them that his service pistol was secured in its shoulder holster. If the security guards objected, they knew better then to voice it. By law active duty military personnel had the right to carry their sidearm on them at all times; moreover, it was strongly suggested.

Mason stepped into the club itself, it was smaller than he had expected, and from the looks of it quite full of young people roughly his age, Mason was only twenty-two, having graduated from the Imperial Military Academy at the age of eighteen he had then been immediately assigned to the Esquire.

The real party had yet to start apparently; there was no one even out on the dance floor. Mason stepped up to the bar and ordered a drink, some local mix he had never even heard of, but was willing to try. As he was he taking his first sip from his drink, a drunken woman stumbled into him, spilling his drink on the bar in the process.

The drunken woman grabbed his arm and even over the din of bar he could hear her yelling something about him being an idiot, as he turned she moved to slap him pulling her hand back, he restrained her slapping hand, and removed her other from his arm. Keeping a strong hold on her he leaned in so that she could see the very serious look in his eyes, and perhaps it was this that prevented her from doing something even stupider, like spitting in his face.

Mason said calmly, but with a tone that indicated it would be unwise to try his temper, “Miss, you need to leave me alone, and get out of this club before I call security.”

Mason then let her go with a nudge towards the door. He saw her eyes widen in hate as she screamed something about her telling her ‘man’ and that her ‘man’ was going to make Mason pay for what he had done.

Mason shrugged it off and continued to try to have a nice time, he spent the next five minutes arguing with the bartender to give him another drink for the sake of the spilled one, and finally the bartender relented. Mason turned around to see that many club goers had started to make their way out unto the dance floor. Mason had conversed with a few of the single, female patrons, and was having a lovely conversation with a young lady who served in the Imperial Legion and she had just accepted his invitation to make a trip to the dance floor when he was tapped on the shoulder.

Mason excused himself and turned around to find the largest, thickest man in the club, wearing a shirt labeled “security” across the front and back of it. “Excuse me sir, we wish to discuss with you what happened earlier, if you would please come to the manager’s office with us.” Mason then noticed that the security man’s shadow was in fact two members of security around Mason size.

Mason followed the men even though he didn’t really want to write up a report, he would have preferred not to make a deal out of it. But he would respect the club’s security wishes.

The big man gestured for Mason to go first, when Mason stepped through the door he was hit in the stomach by a club wielded as hard as possible by the drunken woman he had a confrontation with earlier. Mason doubled over in pain and was kicked rather hard in the side by the large security man.

As Mason lay on the floor the other two men took position on the inside and outside of the office door with it shut between them, there would be no disruptions.

The drunk woman continued striking Mason with the club as well as kicking at his head as he lay on the floor. She screamed obscenities at him as he tried to shield his head from the club as the large bouncer kicked him a few times before pulling him to his feet and saying, “You made the mistake of messing with my woman, you’ll never make that mistake again.”

The bouncer was interrupted as Mason kicked in his right kneecap, sending the leg into a very unnatural position. The man’s eyes widened in pain and he let go of Mason, that was the opening he needed. He ducked just in time for the drunken woman’s club to swing over his head and wallop her ‘man’ in the temple, stunning him.

Mason lashed out behind him with his right foot, sweeping the drunk woman’s feet out from under her. He then leapt towards the man at the door, slamming the surprised man’s head back into the heavy metal door, he hit the lock function on the door itself so that the other man wouldn’t be coming in any time soon, even though he was banging on the door it was securely locked from inside.

Mason turned to see the large man crawling towards the office’s large dark oaken desk, yelling at his ‘woman’ to “get his gun”

She was struggling with the lock’s keypad on the desk, when Mason dispatched the interior door man by slamming the man’s face into the metal door three or four times in quick succession.

Mason turned and said barely controlling his rage, “You pull that gun and you’ll be dead, right now there’s a chance of surviving this, I don’t want to, but I will kill in self-defense.”
The security man cursed Mason and said, “When I blow your brains out, what will you do then bitch!”

Mason withdrew his sidearm and fired a single round into the desk where the lock pad was situated, the round tore through the wood sending splinters into the face, chest and arms of the drunken woman, she fell back screaming in pain.

The bouncer’s eyes widened, realizing the only way Mason could have carried a gun into the club, he started to apologize when the banging from outside the door stopped, a burst of gunfire was heard and the door literally burst from it’s hinges, several legionaries stepped through, assault rifles at the ready, Mason dropped his pistol and raised his hands in submission as the legionaries secured the room…

Kruller
Posts: 36
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2005 6:20 pm

Post by Kruller » Thu Jul 13, 2006 2:01 pm

After a quick verification of his identity the legionaries gave him back his gun, and he told them the entire story truthfully, neither adding nor omitting any detail.

The drunk woman kept yelling that it was all lies and they needed to hear her story, her ‘man’ was begging with her to keep her mouth shut, he had actually broken down to tears. Both he and his ‘woman’ sat on the office’s couch, cuffed and shackled after she put up a struggle. She had blood on her face, arms, and neck and her blouse was already bloodstained from where she had been hit from all the splinters.

The large man had been shackled with no regard to his injury, and it was obvious to Mason that the man was in excruciating pain. Mason almost even felt sorry for him, but he had been stupid and he had hurt Mason without regard, the man got what he deserved in Mason’s opinion.

Three legionaries stood guard, weapons aiming directly at the couple, fingers on the trigger.

Another legionary had his gun pointed at the unconscious interior door man who had been cuffed, shackled and left laying on his side on the floor, Mason was surprised at how much damage he had done to the man’s face, it was covered in blood and his nose had obviously been broken, his chin split and a few teeth had been knocked out. But the man had been in league with the others, and would have at the least stood by and watched Mason been beaten or even killed.

The female legionary whom Mason had been conversing with at the bar pushed her way into the room, an older male legion medic in tow. They came straight to him and as the medic checked him over, she smiled and said, “You still owe me a dance,”

Mason laughed, and it something clicked in his head, “You were the one who called the legionaries in didn’t you,”

“Yes, that was me, I thought it was suspicious so I asked the bartender about you, he told me what had happened earlier and I put two and two together. I talked to the legionaries outside and after I told them what I suspected we came as quick as we could.” she said, then smiled, winked, and commented “It looks like you didn’t need too much help, you can handle yourself pretty well in a fight for a swabbie.”

“Well, I try.” Mason said, while romance was not necessarily the first thing on his mind, his body aching as it did, but…he was still a man. A man being thoroughly examined and prodded by a legion medic, not exactly a picnic.

“Try harder not to get hit next time,” the medic said sternly as he finish, “Nothing is broken, and I don’t believe there’s internal bleeding, but you were damn lucky. You’re going to have some serious bruising, but nothing permanent from what I can tell.”

Mason nodded, and watched as the legion medic headed out of the room. The drunk woman screamed after him, “What? Ain’t you gonna check on us!”

The medic turned and said simply, “It would be a waste of my time, you’ll be just as dead.”

At this the woman finally shut up, realization finally dawning on her, she sat silently and stared straight ahead in shock of how just another night out and turned into her last. Her ‘man’ was likewise, he had been hoping to get out of it somehow, but that last sliver of hope slipped away.

Mason looked puzzled, and the female legionary explained, “New Kyoto colony, and the City in particular has very strict laws concerning the conduct of civilians towards Military personnel. Since from your testimony and that of other witnesses, including that of the other Club Dragon personnel, it was obvious they intended you harm. Even striking a military officer is a capital offense for a civilian on New Kyoto.”

“But they still have to go to trial right?” Mason asked, knowing how it was done elsewhere, oft times death sentences were changed to life imprisonment on a penal colony.

“This is New Kyoto. The ranking Imperial officer acts as judge and jury in circumstances such as this. He has already decided their punishment, after taking New Kyoto’s laws into careful consideration.” the female legionary explained further, as she pulled him towards the door. “Now, you still owe me that dance.”

Mason had a pretty good idea what was going to happen, especially after seeing the splattered remains of the security man who had been outside the office door.

The club was now deserted, with spilled drinks and empty cups and glasses scattered everywhere. The music still played but the club was devoid of all other life besides Mason and the female legionary.

She led him out on the dance floor, as the large security man and the drunken woman were lead outside, followed by two legionaries carrying the now semi-conscious interior door man between them. The rest of the legionaries left them in the club alone.

Mason focused all his thoughts on her, the music, the moment inside of the club, and even as he distantly heard the ordered gunshots he blocked them out. She leaned in next to ear as they danced slow, and close. She whispered, “Don’t worry, they’ll have it cleaned up out there by the time we leave.”

Mason nodded somberly, and he realized something important, “I’m sorry, but I don’t even know your name.”

“I’m Lieutenant Miranda Huntington, 132nd Imperial Legion, and you’re Lieutenant Mason Jadot, Imperial Navy, currently serving aboard theEsquire which is in dry dock for repairs.” Miranda said as if she had known it the whole time.

“How did you know?” Mason asked, somewhat defensively, he didn’t like it when others knew more about him then he knew about them, it put him at a disadvantage.

She giggled girlishly, and said, “They verified your identification remember? Those men are like my brothers, it didn’t take much more than me asking for them to tell me. Now be quiet and dance with me.”

Mason didn’t know what to think about this woman, to be honest, he wasn’t sure if she was crazy or what, he was so confused and conflicted he didn’t know what to think, maybe he was crazy. He just didn’t know anymore. He continued dancing with the woman, but his mind was far away, he wondered if those people would have died if he had not come to this club, what could he have done to prevent their deaths. Perhaps they deserved to die, he did not know, perhaps it was there time.

Mason would later purchase several bottles of strong liquor on the way back to the legion barracks where he was staying, eventually Miranda went back to her own barracks as she had duty the next morning, she gave him her contact number and he vaguely promised to call her. By the time he went to sleep he had drained all but a mouthful of the last bottle.

He never had liked alcohol much…

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