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    Thread: Christmas Present from Kevin

    1. #1
      TXU Sr. Member kevin398's Avatar
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      Cool Christmas Present from Kevin

      What happens when you find out your entire existence, your world... your universe, is only there for one thing, and you have no control over it?


      Eternal War?

      There were always rumors of war in the galaxy, and more often than not, they occurred. But the major nations finally decided that it just wasn’t profitable any more, and after slicing up the area into ‘Kingdoms’ and ‘Nations’ they settled into a more or less peaceful existence.

      But there are always little groups messing up the works, and pirates and militias are two of them. So...why are the Intelligence Offices galaxy wide now worried about why they are attacking and stealing things? Seemed obvious to George Harris its what they do...when he got called into the Station Managers office to find an officer from Military Intelligence there.

      But he was even more surprised to get offered a job...especially since he got thrown out of the Military Academy months ago for punching an officer in the face. But that he did, and his record was why he got the job...not in spite of it.

      “Heres the deal...” The Captain said while George sat back in shock.” we want you to be an undercover intelligence asset and see what the Hell is going on out on the Frontier. The pirates seem to be targeting materials best used for education... not cash profits...so someone must be funding them, but why?? We’ll give you a ship, an old one for sure but something you can use to make a living with. Go there, work around and for the pirates and their benefactors, and let us know why they are doing what they are. Once the mission is over...the ship is yours..if you’re still alive.” he said with a sly smile, and George agreed. It was probably the only way he was going to get a decent ship of his own so why not? Ride around and ask questions? He could do that. Of course he didn’t know what he was going to get...or find...or maybe he wouldn’t have agreed so fast.


      Chapter 1: The Free Start


      George was thrilled to get a full time job... with anybody. He had been tossed from job to job for months now and his military record haunted him everywhere he went. No one wanted to hire a person who couldn’t take orders, or even worse, was violent to the point of punching his superiors.

      But who that fool was, and why George punched him never got mentioned, and that was the real crime here. But he smiled and walked along, now a 20 year old Captain heading to slip 13 on the back docks at the Capitol Shipyard. He had a free ship here, and that was the best news he’d heard in years.

      No matter how small it was, a ship could earn you some good money. Hell, even mining and gathering scrap metal at all the old battlefields around the galaxy would make him more than working for someone else. And he had his own ideas what he’d do after this job, when he owned the beast outright and owed no one anything for it.

      He got a ride on a electric shuttle and as it stopped at the slip he asked for, his eyes opened wide and his mouth dropped a tad. The ship sitting here was old, older than him by a long shot. It had paint splattered here and there on the sides that didn’t even match, covering what was probably burn marks for not being fast enough to escape some pirate. The flat, somewhat pointy nose held 2 gun mounts and there were guns there, but nothing he’d call safe to use.

      The barrels were smaller than his wrist, and not much longer than his arm, and he hoped against hope that they were getting changed because these were as old as space itself, probably made right along the same time as the ship, and he slowly got out of the shuttle in shock, as the driver got a quick chuckle and just left him there, staring while in shock.

      He was still wondering if this was a joke or not when a dock worker walked up and asked if he was the new Captain, and without even thinking he handed him his code card and the man checked it and nodded seriously.

      “Your the one then.” he said and turned to face the ship, a long gray form stretching 150 feet or so down the dock.” The original name was Callisto...but you can name it anything you want now that you own it. Only one of 6 original light destroyers from the Great War still in existence. The original Mark 1 model, crew, 50, two front particle beams, decent cargo space and good speed... for its time.” George heard,as the man kept reading from the info pack he had with him.

      “Everything is Military Standard though, so everything on it can be upgraded at almost any Star Base. I’d suggest new engines too, what was considered fast 50 years ago is slower than most freighters now.” he went on as George looked like he’d cry.”Well Captain your crews on board and its been fueled and resupplied for the trip, bon voyage!” He said and handed George his papers and walked away.

      He knew now he had been had, or used in some way he didn’t want to think about. Pirate ships were usually rejects from the militaries around the galaxy, but even they have standards. This was a piece of junk and even if he survived to fix it up, it would cost a fortune.

      He went on board and called a meeting of the crew to introduce himself, and they too looked like the dregs of the universe, as he looked out over them standing there. No uniforms at all, old dirty cloths and boots, beards, long hair, all the things that made him think he was a dead man, because this crew was never going to cut it in combat.

      “OK then...I’m the new Captain... and I hope we get along together.” He started as a few looked less than thrilled and a few openly laughed at him. “ Right now things are pretty bad around here. the ship we’re going to rest our hopes and dreams... as well as our lives on...is a wreck, so that tells you what our chances are.” he went on, as faces fell all over the room.

      “I’ll do my best to keep you all alive and you do your best to get everything done quickly and without making too many mistakes, and we’ll all live a whole lot longer.” he added and turned and went to his quarters and the crew just stood there for a second, in shock themselves, then slowly went back to their quarters as well.

      George went to his office and checked everything, the ship had a full tank of fuel and food and water supplies too, so the dock worker was right, it was ready to go. The specs showed a small, simple design made for mass production, and he nodded that during a war getting them made fast was the way to go. But the newer destroyers were bigger, had more guns and were faster, and so he saw that they wanted him to look poor and helpless. Poor he didn’t mind...helpless would get you killed if the wrong person saw you.

      But he decided that it was as good as it was going to get, for now, and he called the bridge crew to report, and they backed out of the docks and started towards the second system out to the East, the Galvani System, and the first open system where pirates as well as everyone else worked and traded freely, and hopefully he’d hear a few good rumors that might help get this job done.


      Chapter 2: Getting Moving...and Paid


      George checked to see how his crew was going to get paid for this, and sure enough they were getting paid from his income, from trading or pirating or whatever they needed to do to live.

      It wasn’t a lot, crew members, especially those with few good skills, didn’t get paid big bucks. The Galactic Standard for crew was 10 Gold a week, and free room and board.Some more experienced men and women got more but they had years of experience too.So even before he could fix up the old boat he needed 500 Gold a week, just to pay the crew.

      Then they would need new shields, these were barely safe for travel, much less fighting. They might well be the original set made at the factory....50 years ago when beams were new and plasma cannons ruled space battles. But that was a long time ago, and everything he checked on his new ship was substandard, or at least minimal even for this, and George started seeing how this old tub had survived the Great War...it had never left the storage area.

      50 megajoules of shield all the way around...on a light destroyer...he might as well just hand over every load of freight they carry, because one missile, even a small one...would cut through that, and the next size up was 100 meg new, and they were 3000 Gold each, and he’d need 4 to fill the racks before he’d feel the tiniest bit safe.

      He did have guns, but this ship only had 2 gun mounts, each right along side the command center facing forward. They checked out as active Particle Beams, but they were the very smallest made, capable of doing 10 Damage Points per second...not enough to cut through minimal shields in less than 5 seconds of full power, if you can keep a lock that long.

      His best chance for defense, or offense, was the missile launcher. It was standard for the time as a military craft, and you could get small homing missiles for 100 Gold each, if you’re lucky,so that would be his first investment, because sailing around gathering salvage or carrying cargo was going to get you attacked, in no uncertain terms, so you better plan for it up front.

      He sat there for a few minutes looking sadly at the screen as he looked up and down the ships specs hoping they got better if he stared look enough, but no luck. 50 meg in shields, 30 units of armor all the way around, even less than freighters today. Tiny little power generator, in a battle it might run completely dry, if he wasn’t lucky. One small missile launcher up front, nothing on the sides or rear..nothing. That was one poor missile defense system...but there was an empty mount on top, and he saw a possible anti-missile turret there later on.

      Top speed...500 Meters per second (slow as Hell), but it did have a Faster Than Light drive, so that was something. They even made sure he had the latest maps, showing where all the Jump Points could be found, so he had the ‘highways’ marked for him up front, the only seriously helpful thing they did that he could see.

      Well, enough of that, a Pity Party wasn’t going to help,he had to get this thing moving and make some cash. Or his new crew would be mutining on him way sooner than he had thought. He walked out to the bridge to see his crew waiting and he took his seat in the Command chair and said it was time to go...and they called and got permission to leave the docks... and started across the system at best speed, looking for anything or anyway to make some cash as they started towards their first Jump Point, taking them to Aria Sector...and their first chance to check about working.

      George pulled the old screen around from behind the chair and turned it on. It lit up and soon he had a view of the entire system, and all the ships and stations there. The old system wasn’t too bad, at least he could see where they were and where they were going, and he even got ship information on ships he touched on the screen...if they were within 500 miles.

      There were settings that no one had used forever it seemed, and he set up his screen to see ships,stations, planets and moons and all their names, and cargo containers if there were any, and set those to flash if they were close by. There, now he had his tools ready, all he needed was something to do.

      They entered the Jump Point easily, and as the engines ramped up the space around them turned jet black and stayed that way for several minutes, and as George looked up at the screen again it showed an entirely new system, and after a second to scan, it had all the names of everything right in front of him, and two small flashing boxes right off the side of the Jump Point.

      “We have floating cargo 90 degrees to the port side.” he called as they maneuvered around and he tapped ‘salvage’ on his screen and a tiny model of his ship appeared on the map, with a green circle around it, and as they moved in the crates slid into that circle and he hit the ‘gather’ button and a tractor beam dragged them into the cargo bay, where he had some workers waiting to sort through it all.

      “Hmm...” he said as they just sat there and he looked up to see his navigator just waiting, and he realized he had given no orders after the jump. “Take us to the nearest trading station.” he said as they turned and went that way.

      He kept watching his screen and did see a lot of traffic in the system and one red dot way out to the one edge, and he didn’t even want to know who that was, because it was marked as an enemy even from here.

      They docked and he sold the little bit of salvage they got on the way in. It was just some food and medical supplies, but he got 1200 Gold for it, and his first months wages were covered so far. Now he hoped things kept going this well... but he couldn’t help but worry about that dot.


    2. #2
      TXU Sr. Member kevin398's Avatar
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      Chapter 3: Necessary Money Pit

      At first he thought about getting something new for the ship...but where to start? So after a little thought he decided he needed a lot more cash before starting on a project this big.

      Just one size better engine was going to cost 4000 Gold each, and his little ship had 3.Each shield generator sold here... used... just barely better than the one he had, would cast 1500 Gold each. Guns...up to 6000 Gold each, and missiles from 250 Gold to 6000 each, so this little bit was barely a drop in the bucket.

      He checked the trade boards and got a delivery to drop off shuttles for a station the next sector over. It paid 5500 Gold if he got them there in time, and he figured that would help get something better for them by then. He really wanted better shields and weapons before they got into a fight, but they really needed better engines too, and when he asked about tuning the ones he had...the maintenence manager just laughed in his face....so much for that plan.

      So they left the station loaded with shuttles and made it safely to the jump point and as they slid through and out the other side, shots range out, and they found themselves in the middle of a wing of pirate fighters attacking a Terran Frigate.

      “Damn it we’re not ready for this!” George screamed as one fighter turned on them and opened fire. His beams hit it solidly but did little damage, but after the second hit the ship started smoking badly. Luckily they were lighter fighters, but they got a call from the Terran Patrol thanking them for helping, as they finished one of their own.

      Two more hits and the troublemaker was gone, and they gathered some scrap and equipment it dropped. The last fighter was still beating on the little frigate but it was doing OK, and George ordered them to the station and made their delivery just before the time limit ran out.

      He also got a nice thank you from the sector manager who said not everyone would stop to help even a military patrol vessel in distress, and George gave them his best smile and said it was the right thing to do...like he had a choice...but he got a nice reputation boost from it and prices at that station went down a bit because of it. So now with the 5500 from the job and almost another thousand in scrap, he got two new pieces of armor. Not the best, but the armor on the sides went from 30 damage points of strength per square inch to 50 on each side, a noticeable improvement if only just.

      But anything is better than nothing and he got another job taking a business man back the way they came, and when they docked at a different station, they got another 3500 Gold, and George gave the crew a weeks pay and the day off, while he searched for new ways to make even more cash quicker.

      A new ship the same size cost around 500,000 Gold... empty...just the engines and hull. Then you still had to buy everything else from scanners to weapons and shields. Even the life support could be bought and upgraded, something else he had not thought of to check until now.

      Then think about weapons tracking, targeting and on and on. Thats why the military buy theirs fully equipped for a set price... its cheaper... and when you’re buying a dozen or more at a time, they’re no fools.

      Of course you can build a nice custom ship a piece at a time, but that takes time, and a lot of cash, two things George was not sure he had.

      Finally he laid down for some sleep and he knew that this job was going to be a hard one. They gave him trash to work with and expected miracles, and he only hoped they gave him enough time to get it ready before asking for too much.

      The next month went just like that. He did do a mission for the Pirate Mercenary Squad, showing they were giving him a chance to fit in. It was just smuggling some alcohol into a station that...supposedly...didn’t use it, but the pay was good and something else new got bought.

      By now his little boat had 75 meg in shields all around, 50 points of armor on three sides and 80 in the rear, protecting the engines. The targeting scanner was replaced with a better one, and accuracy went up by 10% and the two little Particle Beams got replaced with 1 Burner Beam, a small beam that shoots right through shields. Not too powerful but then armor cant take that heat for long even if it is just a 20 point beam.The missile launcher had a light torpedo in it, and their speed went up from 500 to 575, again not a lot but better than nothing. George was working hard to keep them safe and slowly things got better, and just as he thought that, he got a message saying the station manager wanted to see him, and as he walked into the conference room, a young officer in full military dress was waiting.

      “General hastings sends his regards.” he said waving George to a seat.” So what have you learned so far?” He asked as George sat back disgusted, and they started their talk.

      “The pirates claim they couldn’t care less about the cargo they are stealing.” George said as the man nodded and waited.” they get paid to attack convoys or cargo haulers and are even thinking of attacking some archaeology sites themselves. Their benefactor seems very interested in a certain time period, the period of the Atruscan War, some 100,000 years ago. Of course anything about the Atruscans are just legends, but someone is taking it seriously.” he said as the man looked in serious thought.

      “Some recent digs have discovered some new artifacts.” The man said almost silently,” those new sites are being called Atruscan...so maybe those legends weren’t completely false after all.” he hinted as George looked shocked. The Atruscan Empire was a legend that said that while Humans were still walking on all fours, other people flew through space and colonized worlds.They did this for millenia, until another great civilization attacked and killed them off. Then after the war they disappeared the way they came and never returned. That was the Legend of Atruscan, and teachers had mentioned it as a possible different time line, or that it was nothing but folklore for ages. But now it might be true? So that had really serious consequences if it was. It meant there were at least 2 civilizations thousands and thousands of years more advanced than Humans, and that in itself was scarey.

      “Keep your eyes and ears open, and be ready for trouble. Some other groups are checking into this too, and some of our old enemies are getting involved. General Hastings says to be ready for combat at a moments notice, even purchase a bigger ship if the need arrises, and we’ll be in touch if we need to see you again.” he said and waved George away and he went back to the ship upset. Not only are things getting more tense, now even the military was thinking this job would last a lot longer, and George wasn’t too happy with that at all.

      “We’re releasing restrictions on all Military MK 1 ships in storage, you’ll be surprised how cheaply you can get something else if you try.” the man had said on the way out, and that gave George something to think about anyways.


      Chapter 4: Long Term Torture


      George did check at the shipyard and it was true. He could get a MK 1 cruiser with 3x the firepower for a little more than the cost of a new destroyer. They even had the nerve to add battleships and carriers up for sale, and he started wondering what the Hell they were planning. Even a MK 1 carrier, over 40 years old for sure, with weapons on every corner and huge shields and armor, could be bought for just over a million and a half.

      Thats still a lot of money but with jobs paying more and more every time, finding jobs for 25k wasn’t even hard now and higher paying jobs were seen almost daily for some reason.

      Then there were the so called ‘other civilizations’ that they mentioned. The Federation and the Confederates, both civilizations they fought during the Great War 50 years ago, they went back to their home systems after being beaten, but now they were back, just in time for all this espionage and secrecy. A coincidence? He thought not.

      There were even a few new ships, silvery and odd looking made from egg shaped balls of silver material...three balls in a line was a destroyer, three across and three forwards, a cruiser, and they were a piece of work too. They used beams and then when the shields went down fired missiles tipped with biological weapons of some kind. If it broke through into the interior of the ship, people died from some odd gas, and he had lost half his crew during one fight he barely won.

      And now they had the nerve to mention that this destroyer wouldn’t be big enough in the future, maybe really soon too...and that just pissed him off more than before... and that MK 1 cruiser started looking better and better.

      He checked on ships in different sectors too, and his good rep got him some discounts, and in the Terran sector, Trent Shipyard gave him enough of a discount so that the cruiser cost no more than a new destroyer, both costing him 500k...for a limited time only...they said with a wink, and he started back to work seriously because he knew Military Intelligence didn’t joke around, and he’d need that ship very soon.

      By the end of the month he had a good amount in his account, and with a 150k trade in for his old ship he was pretty sure a cruiser was in his future.Not only did many of the missions pay over 20k each now, equipment found floating after battles was being grabbed up as fast as you could find it. He found several 40 ton shield generators when a cruiser exploded by one jump point and they sold for 6k each at the equipment dock. The shipyard made it clear they would take every piece of equipment that was in good working order, and George and his crew did some long days searching and finding stuff from the many small skirmishes that were happening all over now.

      Not to mention pirate raids on shipping that left a lot behind too. So he decided that getting that bigger ship was a sure thing and after some ‘negotiating’ he had all his guns and shields slid over to a much bigger frame 2 weeks later. It had room for a ton more of everything but for now this would have to do, and his new ship drifted out from the dock and into space and started looking for work well before he got called to report again.

      Now he started again,this frame needed 2 more guns or missiles one or the other. there was 2 in the nose and he kept the new ‘burner beam’ he bought for the destroyer, so his front gun cut through shields like they weren’t there, and beside that he had a missile launcher loaded with medium missiles. Then the shipyard gave him two tiny little starter guns for the sides, just to say they didn’t leave him go empty, and his engines were absolute minimal, so his speed was at 600 now, at least better than what he started out with earlier. Add a point defense turret in the top center, and fighters weren’t going to be as bad as they were before. Thats what the difference was between a cruiser and a destroyer, just more of everything.

      It also had twice the cargo space, but needed a lot more crew too, he knew he was going to need it, but every time he got into something better he felt depressed because a lot more responsibility comes with it every time.

      His crew more than doubled and that meant his bills doubled too, but the way things were going he wasn’t going to worry about paying them because missions just kept piling up and he knew once he got this set up better they weren’t going to have any troubles there, and with a more powerful ship comes bigger and higher paying jobs.It was like an odd loop, you do missions to make money but need bigger ships to make more money, then do bigger missions to make money for bigger ships.... and he just shook his head and they went around the system getting the feel of the new machine, and then out again, looking for work to pay for all the things it still needed.

      But with things getting as crazy as they were now every sector had enemies in, some pirates, some from the old civilizations they had fought before. No one seemed to know why everything was happening now, but George was sure someone out there knew why, and he was out there hoping to find out who that was.

      It might be something he had no control over, and in some way he hoped it was, but sooner or later his questions would be answered and then this job would finally be over and he’d be free to do as he pleased once more.

      But that was a different day, and after a fight he barely won with a pirate destroyer, they gathered some more good stuff, and he found another pile by the one jump point again, and he jumped on that too.

      A cruiser, well many cruisers at least, could be set up pretty heavy. He had seen some with 250-300 shields and armor, more than double what he had right now. The two weapon mounts forward, and one on each side gave you a three way punch, and the top turret had the little machine gun in it for missiles and fighters, so hopefully many missiles wouldn’t even hit the shields.

      All this gave you more time in battle, and less chance of death. This new load had a few good things in it, and when he docked to sell them he got a 20 ton shield generator, that gave him 200 points of shield on the nose of the ship, never a bad thing. There was also two pieces of 10 ton armor plate, so his armor went from 75 points a side to 120 points protecting the engines.

      A few more trips like that and he’d be all set...or better than he had ever been anyways... and he hoped his contacts left him the Hell alone for a while yet and let him get set up before it hit the fan.


    3. #3
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      Chapter 5: Breaking it In


      For a month things were pretty quiet. He now had 200 in shields all around, and 120 points of armor all around too. The tiny little point defense gun on top was replaced with a newer one and now fighters weren’t that big a deal anymore.

      He replaced the one gun forward with another missile bay, and now fired two medium missiles at a time, reducing the chance that enemies could shoot them down because point defenses were good at getting one, but two at once? Not so much.

      The level 1 starter guns along the sides got replaced with better weapons. The cutter beam from the front was now on the right side, and a class 4 particle beam was on the left.Fighters had a hard time messing with them now, and destroyers had to think twice before giving them a go, because they were more or less even now with a tiny bit better chance leaning Georges way at the moment.

      But he watched and scanned and knew even this wasn’t enough. One Federal cruiser yelled at them for getting too close one day and George talked fast and flew faster, because this thing made his look sick. But that quick scan told him that in a real battle they still weren’t ready, and he was determined to double his armor and get as many shields on his ship as possible before his charm and wit weren’t going to be enough.

      They just came out of a jump point one day when fire erupted all around them. A pirate cruiser and fighter wing were attacking anything coming through the point and they were todays first meal it seemed. A missile hit them right in the nose, causing a temporary loss of power to the missile launchers, as George screamed for evasive maneuvers and all his weapons came online. The side guns hit the cruiser as it went by, and George’s scan showed some small damage.

      The cutter beam had gone right through his shields, and did a small amount of armor damage as it passed. The other beam had to get through the shields first, so even a good hit only weakened it, not doing any real damage yet, and George really hoped he got another burner soon, but they were hard to find.

      By now one fighter was gone, but there were 4 others yet and his shields were dropping too damned fast for his taste. His missiles came back on line now and he got a shot off at close range as the cruiser came back around for another shot, and one hit the ship solid and his shields dropped fast.

      Now his beams were doing some good and a yellow mark showed some damage on his scans of the enemy ship as the fight continued. His ship was showing wear too, but they were still hanging in there for now. Finally the last fighter went down and it became just a slugging match between the two cruisers. They were both giving it their all but in the end a shot with two missiles right into the engines ended it as the pirate ship drifted to a stop and was destroyed a second later by a good beam attack.

      George finally sat back in his chair and relaxed for a second. He took some damage but there was a shipyard nearby, and the Sector Manager called saying they saw the fight and his repairs would be free for today and thanked him for removing these enemies from their sector. George gave them his big smile and thanked them and gathered all the stuff he could find, and even on the way to the shipyard he found a little more, and when he docked he sifted through it all looking for better things than what he actually used.

      Now his ship had 250 shields on the nose and covering the engines, and the armor on the nose got reinforced up to 200 points too. He also got a newer engine, and his speed went up to 625, and he knew that would help a lot. Some missions are even time sensitive and he stayed away from those, but maybe he’d consider it a little more after a while.

      He had seen cruisers doing 700 or more, so this was an improvement, but not enough.

      “Damn it!” George thought, there would always be someone bigger, someone better, someone with better weapons, and he hoped he got out of this terrible spiral of death while he and his crew were still alive themselves.

      All the repairs got done and he took it out for a spin. They got told by everyone they talked to that fights were going on around there every day now, and both the pirates and the Confederates were stopping ships and searching them for something, and no one knew what.

      But many tried to escape and so there were pile after pile of stuff all over the system, and the shipyard said if they could bring that stuff all in they’d buy it for a good price, because repairs were starting to be a big thing here and they needed every parts they could get.

      George agreed, and they started a nice slow patrol, and they were right, there had been fights all over the place and little bits of armor, engines and weapons were floating all across the sector, and they had to come in once because they ran out of cargo space, and even with keeping a few things for themselves they made some big bucks that week.

      They got their first kill of a pirate cruiser, fighters and increased their armor all around by more than 50 points. The nose and engines had even more than that, and now with 2 new engines their speed was approaching 675, and George had more confidence they could escape if faced with something too big to handle.

      Their point defense gun was now a class 5... not bad at all... and their side weapons went up to class 6 as well, gaining at least 10 more points of damage a second...each...with a little bit of luck he’d make it, they’d be ready, and he was afraid to mention it out loud because he just had a bad feeling that would start something bad happening.

      But he might as well have shouted it from the rooftops, because the next day he got called in for a meeting, and after that his ship started moving towards the territory of the Monkery, an ally that had stood beside them since the Great War, and it seemed the Confederates were moving in to attack them and their sectors. Why? No one knew, but George mentioned that they were also working with the pirates gathering ...who knows what... across several other sectors and Intelligence wasn’t a bit happy to hear that either.

      “You’re on loan to the Monkery until further notice, report to Commander Stipel when you arrive at Arin sector.” he was told, and his mission jumped from Intelligence for the Terran Government, to Support for an ally, and George started wondering if he would ever get out of this contract.


      Chapter 6: Monkery Empire


      His ship jumped in three days later to see the Arin star base just ahead. He got permission and docked, and then walked off his ship to be guided to his first meeting by a security detail. He walked into the office and saluted, as the simian officer nodded seriously and waved for him to sit.

      “Your Commander speaks highly of you.” He said softly as George just smiled and waited.”I hear you fly a cruiser, that will certainly come in handy here. The Confederate States have started a march across our boarders. They stop long enough to waste every ship in a sector then leave a small group of ships behind to hold it and move on.We seriously believe they are here to conquer us completely, and our Military is ramping up getting ready to repel them, but we need time. So I’m assigning you to enter our space and attack and destroy every Confederate ship you see. There will be bounties paid,of course, and your ship will get free repairs at our shipyards while you’re here.

      If you so desire you can even purchase other ships, if that one is destroyed or totally shot up to make fixing it not worth while. Our shipyards make some of the best ships available, so consider that when you come in all torn to shreds.” he said as George just nodded back seriously and waited.

      “Our patrol ships are already working to push them back, if you get into a battle or see one ahead of you, it’ll be our men and women trying to save us, so please assist them when you can, and they will you too.” he added as George said he would.” Then thats about it, I understand there are other things you’ll be doing while you’re here and we agree wholeheartedly. This war is a mystery wound in an enigma...no one knows why it has started just now, but our Intelligence is also working on finding out why, so you share what you find and we’ll share what we find, and together perhaps we can find out what the Hell is happening.” He said with a quick salute that George returned and he was led back to his ship and off he went with a new map added to his showing all their sectors and he laid in a course to the nearest jump point and got ready to see what was really happening out there.

      The Monkery were a sentient simian race, they hadn’t evolved like Humans did but instead just became smarter and smarter until they too formed a civilization and had trade and speech similar to their Human cousins. But that little tidbit was not to be mentioned. They considered Humans to be barbarians, always looking for a fight, and at times like this that came in really handy.

      Their biggest thing to be proud of was art, they had more artists than any other race, and their work sold for millions every year and became a good part of their economy. They had military families too, and if you walked into a room it was easy to tell them apart. The soldiers looked very much like they should, with wide shoulders and big arms. The artists were shorter, less well built and thinner all around, but their intellect was outstanding and when it came to business they were hard to beat.

      But they seemed to hold back their soldier brothers a lot, they didn’t want that reputation follow ing them around like it did us Humans, but at times like this half their fleet was in moth balls and crews had to be trained quickly to get enough ships out to do any good.

      And that was where George came in. Humans loved to fight so why not let them? So now while he searched for evidence of what was going on George and his crew would fight to protect the Monkery and get bounties for each kill. His orders were on his computer in his office and the figures they showed said he could buy anything he wanted while he was here, and the prices here weren’t any worse than back in Terran space, so they weren’t kidding. But since they were artisans they build every ship by hand, right down to the ornate trim around the doors and chairs in the cafeteria. They had some of the best technology available anywhere and they knew how to use it, so a Monkery cruiser would be something special, and he decided to check into that...just for fun later.

      They went out and jumped into a Garand sector to look around. There was a little salvage there but no ships so after gathering that onward they went. This time into the Tartar system, and there they found real trouble.

      They entered from the jump point and saw firing immediately off in the distance. Beam were flashing and explosions being seen and they ran full blast to help out. The sector patrol called and welcomed them saying these guys just wouldn’t quit, and when they got into missile range George could see they were right.

      There were piles of loot everywhere, dozens of them, and as they opened fire on a hurt destroyer, it went up in flames and the enemy noticed them coming maybe for the first time. Now on to a cruiser and the fight went pretty well and while they took a little damage they killed it and looted the equipment it dropped. Now there were just a few ships left, on both sides, and while his allies called for reinforcements...so did the enemy...they weren’t messing around they wanted this sector, and George and his team weren’t about to let them have it....until the reinforcements arrived.

      They had been fighting destroyers, fighters and a cruiser, but that was just a normal cruiser, and when George saw the next one come out of jump he turned to attack it, and then saw the first scans.

      It looked the same as the first but this...shields at 750, armor at 600, and cutter beams and missiles. It was a killer just looking for someone to kill, and George and his friends had stepped in it.

      His ship had barely half of that, and he had felt pretty safe until now. The first cruiser was wounded when he arrived, so he never saw it at full power, but he did this one, and as his missiles hit the nose as it ran towards him, he saw death coming his way, since they barely made a dent.

      He screamed for withdrawal, and as he did the last ship of the sector patrol went up in flames beside him. He was all alone now and the Confederate cruiser was just getting serious. George called for retreat and they made a fast turn and started towards the jump point, now 10 minutes away. But he took a hard hit from the rear, and one engine went down.

      But he seemed to be just a tad faster than this one and he was now just out of their gun range, so missiles were it. He screamed to dump every atom of power into the engines as his navigator reminded him he had already done that, and they both nodded they knew, but he just had to say it.

      They had one engine down but were still just staying out ahead by a little bit. His scans showed the beast was following and throwing missiles at them but he had his point defense running full blast and only 1 out of 5 got through. That wasn’t good either but now they were less than 5 minutes from jumping, and as they looked up a bright light flashed just ahead, and ship after ship of the Monkery Navy ran in through the Jump point and George felt like kissing those hairy cheeks.

      The enemy pulled back a little waiting on his reinforcements too, and they got set up in battle formation with 12 ships on one side and now 6 on the other. George held back to watch saying his engines were a mess, and everyone agreed. But when the fight started that cruiser earned his respect as ship after ship took hits and a few exploded before sheer numbers finished him off.

      He always knew no matter how hard you try there’s always someone better, but comparing two cruisers like this...was just madness. He now knew that while he was feeling good about his fix up lately...he had a long ways to go before any major battle came again.


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      Chapter 7: New Information Comes In


      They made it back to the shipyard and were getting repairs when George got called in to talk to the Commander. He seemed pretty happy the way things went and mentioned that he appreciated George running in to help his people like he did.

      “You held the sector just long enough for us to get a new patrol put together, and we’re grateful.” He mentioned but George wasn’t looking especially well. “Did you get hurt during the battle, you don’t look so good.” he said as George just smiled and told him the story, as the simian nodded seriously and poured them both a drink.

      “The Confederates like medium and small ships. But don’t let them fool you, they go out of their way to make them tough.” He said taking a drink while George waited for him to go on.” They have 3 types of destroyers, and 4 types of cruisers. They feel making a fleet of battleships or carriers is a waste of resources, so they make 2 cruisers and 4 destroyers for every 1 ship of the line. What you saw was probably one of the bigger ones. They have a missile boat cruiser, gunboat cruiser, a small carrier thats cruiser sized, all types built on a single large cruiser frame.” he added while George looked properly impressed.

      “I thought you knew all this...and that you were flying a light cruiser on purpose. Because even the Terran military now uses ships quite a bit bigger than yours.” he mentioned as George had to admit, until a few weeks ago he was in a destroyer, and now this cruiser, all out of the Retired Fleet ships storage area, as the Commander just nodded he understood. “Then let me give you a little advise...if you’ll alow it...” he hinted as George smiled and waved for him to continue.

      “Use what you have carefully, and always watch your back. These barbarians use some good ships and equipment, so don’t come in empty if you can help it, and watch for better weapons mixed in, they have some real messy things they use. With a little luck you might survive this assignment after all.” He said finishing his drink as George chugged his down too and he shook the mans hand and went back to see what he could do to protect himself and his crew next time.

      By the time the repairs were done George was back. He checked to see what all they had gathered last time,because he remembered getting a few things where that first cruiser had exploded.

      They got a little empty cargo container that blew free from the wreck, and a set of nice missiles he decided to keep. Then a new cutter beam, and he now knew why he had a hard time finding any, they were made by the Confederacy and not Terrains at all.

      So now he had two, one old class 4 beam he’d been using for a while, and now a class 7 beam, nearly twice as powerful as the first. Now both sides of his ship had one, so no matter what direction they approached or past one another, he was going to get a good cut in before they got out of range, and with a little luck this improvement would lead to many others.

      They quickly returned to the sector and gathered everything they could find. The shipyard was happy with this deal and gave them great prices too, and George found out the Commander was right, the Confederates had great technology, and even some specialty armor he had never seen before.
      One type was an absorption type. While most armor was just metal, this type wasn’t it was made from a special high temperature substance that absorbed the attack, taking the heat and turning it into electrical power for the ship. That explained a lot, since he had seen some destroyers that seemed to have more firepower than his cruiser.

      There was also reflection types, they didn’t burn but reflected the shot back into space, they were going to be destroyed eventually, but not before stopping several shots on that one plate. He started to see that technology played a real roll in their strategy in battle, and his opinion of that large cruiser went up yet again. Using these new alloys and shields, he could only imagine what their real power was.

      He gathered a few loads after the latest battles and his rear armor went from 175 points to 250 points, and mixed in was some armor that made more electricity as the battle went on. His right and left sides were equal in plating, and now had class 6 beams on both sides. The Confederate destroyers liked these, and he saw a steady supply of new weapons coming in.

      The small to medium missiles he used were replaced with Capitol Ship missiles now, with longer range and 50 points more destructive power, and after a week looking, studying and working hard his little cruiser looked like an entirely different machine than before, as the Commander saw from his office.

      “He might be a barbarian...but he does learn.” he said softly and with a big grin as newer and better paying missions went out, and George and his crew got their share of those too.


      Chapter 8: Learn or Die


      It seemed obvious to George now, when in battle watch, listen, and see what the enemy has to offer. They might beat you today...but there’s always tomorrow. He remembered what one teacher said at the Academy before he got tossed out : “The last man standing wins, no matter how long it takes or how many times you try. People all make mistakes... watch for it... and use it to your advantage.”

      So on the battlefield learning something new every day was the way to stay alive. Not just you, but your allies too. You’ll be surprised by what you see from time to time, sure, but not every time, because you saw it before and remembered, and saw it coming again. Thats the way to succeed, and thats how you win. Never giving up in a panic, never rushing into battle without thinking first, patience, and power working together, and he was going to make sure he remembered that from now on.

      The battles for Monkery space went on for weeks, and by now they got their Fleet up and running and attacked back with a fury. George was right there too, and he got his share of kills, and bounties, as even his crew mentioned when they worked well into a month without time off.

      So since they felt it important to mention it, they got the weekend off, and he sat back in a nice restaurant having a hot meal for a change and smiling while checking his ships maintenence reports on his pocket computer.

      He was doing really well now. He watched and attacked ships he was sure he could beat, and did, and the cash started piling up, as he started thinking about something just a tad bigger again. Ships have a maximum weight they can carry, not just the cargo hold but the frame itself.

      Destroyers are normally around 600 tons, max, cruisers another 100 tons more. Then of course bigger ships up to carriers that can hold weapons and fighters with a total of 1200 tons. And all the ships in between. Like the Commander mentioned some time ago, he saw George come pulling in in his old ship, and assumed it was a light cruiser from the start. It was set up that way of course but now he was pushing the maximum it could possible handle, and even the speed and maneuverability was starting to show it.

      But the enemy ships weren’t slowing down a bit, and like that one cruiser he saw some time ago, they seemed to fight the maximum weight rule by being bigger and heavier than average ships can be.

      He thought about a cruiser/carrier combo. But after being in a lot of battles he noticed many carriers wound up fighting with regular weapons anyways after their fighters got blown out of space. In a major battle the average life span of a fighter was around 5 minutes, tops, and after they were all gone the carrier lost half its firepower, not a good thing for sure.

      Then he thought maybe a cruiser set up as a gunboat...a classic set up for this size of ship, with every light mount being used for a gun of one type or another and what few heavy mounts being used for missiles. It was a time honored set up that reached back in time to the old Navies of the past, but while they did well in close range combat, at range they had only the few missiles to lean on, and point defenses shot many of those down.

      But he had seen something else. The point defenses were almost standard, one to a customer, and since they didn’t fire on enemy ships even at close range, then they weren’t used for anything but fighters and missiles. So...ships that dropped 2 or more missiles or torpedoes at a time had a much better chance to get them through. Point defenses could only get one then reset and fired again, to keep from overheating. They might be a power driven machine gun but they were tiny, and couldn’t fire forever without a pause. So with two missile traveling in together one had a real good chance to get through, and those did a lot of damage and it didn’t matter if you were close up or over a hundred miles away.

      He had his ship set up firing two from the front together, and it helped. But he was wondering about a batter set up, but this ship just didn’t have the mounts. So on his day off he was doing some searching, and while the Terran’s had some nice ships, a lot newer and bigger than his. They really didn’t have anything with the mounts he wanted.

      He was sitting there drinking coffee and waiting on his dessert when the screen changed and his Commander popped up on it.

      “Looking for something a little better?” He asked and George knew he was being watched.

      “I keep thinking something is wrong about all this...” George mentioned as the man nodded he did too.” The Confederates had all the time in the world to attack you and just beat around the bush for ages, but now they are totally serious, what changed?” George mentioned softly as the man looked serious for a second.

      “Remember what your first Commander mentioned was going on? The artifacts that were going missing?” He hinted as George nodded he did.” All these battles have been either to get into areas where more of them can be found or attack ships carrying them. The Confederates have always been technically advanced even by our standards, but why start a war to hurry just to gather these old parts?” He asked as George had to think about that.

      “Then it struck us...what if they don’t want them at all? What if this is all for someone else?” he hinted as George’s face lit right up.

      “Those odd shiny ships we see from time to time...” George added softly as the officer nodded it was true.

      “We made an attempt to talk to a few of them and they ignore us completely, or open fire without a thought. We destroyed on cruiser and found the cargo hold was full of these old artifacts. It seems they are the buyers and the Confederates and Pirates are gathering for them.” he added as George asked what the Hell could be worth losing so many ships for? And even the Commander just shrugged at that.

      “Whatever it is has got to be worth Billions.” George mentioned as the Commander didn’t agree.

      “Trillions...” he mentioned as George had to think about that for a minute.”they’ve lost billions in ships so far without even slowing down.” he added as George did agree.

      “This war is far from over, so if you’re thinking about seeing it to the end, plan ahead for bigger and longer battles.” he said and a new spec sheet came up on the screen and George saw a nice new design,a cruiser made in the shape of a Trident, with the main body inside and big pointy arms or wings on the outside. It had two mounts up front just like his old ship, but back by the engines it had 2 larger mounts, with 4 missile tubes and two gun mounts together, and the turrets on the front and rear could swivel to the sides so that even along side the enemy got hit.

      Maximum weigh capacity...750 tons...and George saw a new heavy cruiser design very much like he wanted, based on both guns and missiles and with enough capacity to load both and a good amount of armor too. The hull was made from a new high temperature alloy and would take a heck of a beating and stay intact. Ordering and waiting time for construction was normally 6 months, but it said 1 was in stock, and George saw that someone was helping him even now. The price was more than reasonable too and they even mentioned his ship would be taken as a down payment, cutting 250k off the price.

      “SOLD...” It now read as George tapped the screen and smiled. Now to go see his new ship...as the Commander smiled and shut down his screen. If things were going the way they all thought, He’d need that ship, and they’d need many more like it.


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      Chapter 9: Bad Times Coming


      The screen buzzed a while later and Commander Stipel opened it to see his counterpart, General Hastings on the other end.

      “How’s the decoding going?” Stipel asked as Hastings looked sad he asked at all.

      “It took 4 weeks running our super computer day and night to get even part of their computer data decoded.” he offered as the Commander nodded and waited. “ The story isn’t good. They call themselves The Chosen and their government is a religious cult of some kind that’s centuries old. They worship the Atruscan’s as Gods, and say they will return to help them in their time of need. Which they seem to think is now...” he added as the Commander looked away sadly.

      “It seems they have existed since before Humans and Monkery by a long shot, their history mentions times and places we have never heard of, and time lines dating back tens of thousands of years. Its a fact now that they are the oldest culture we have met yet, but why they worship a race that hasn’t been around for tens of thousands of years is a mystery to us at this point. Our ships are watching for a chance to talk, now that we know a bit of their language, and we hope they will. But their technology is centuries ahead of all of ours, so we’re paying premium prices for any tech we can get from wrecks, now that they have jumped into the battle.” Hastings said as Commander Stipel agreed they would also.

      “It seems they have convinced the Federation and Confederates to aid them, and along with the pirates get them whatever things they need in exchange for what will eventually become a part their new Empire...when the Atruscans return and side with them against us.” Hastings added as even Stipel looked shocked.

      “But how do they think they will return? Until recently we just thought they were legends but now that artifacts are being found we know better. But even the Legend says they lost the war to the local tribes and were forced to leave the galaxy, so how can they ever hope to contact them?” he asked as Hastings looked tired thinking it.

      “The artifacts are parts of something, maybe a subspace radio or some other way they can contact them again. If they finish it and it works, we are all in deep water, because we have our hands full with the rebels we have now.” Hastings added as they both agreed.

      “We’ll keep sending you any computer cores we find here.” Stipel said as Hastings thanked him for that. “ Your man is doing a good job for us here, so we thank you for sending him to us.” He added as Hastings looked less than worried about it.

      “He’s not my man...he’s just a mercenary like any other... so use him as you see fit.” he mentioned as even Commander Stipel looked surprised.

      “I thought he was one of your Intelligence Officers?” he asked as Hastings got a big grin at that.

      “Slaves work harder when they don’t think they are slaves.” he added with a sneer and a wink, “He’s a loser I recruited for one job, nothing more, he’s of no importance to Terran Intelligence or our Military. Just some random merc now, since we learned already the information he was searching for." He added and the link went down as Commander Stipel looked a little surprised and decided that he really didn’t like this man as much as before.

      But then he saw now why George was fighting top of the line ships in ancient wrecks. Getting some use out of old ships waiting to be scrapped might make Hastings look good, but it certainly wasn’t much help for the Captain and his crew. It was amazing they had survived so far, and the General couldn’t care less, something that Stipel decided that George didn’t need to know, since he was taking the job seriously, and doing pretty well at it for now.

      But out here he was on the front lines, and he was no longer an Intelligence Officer by the General’s own words, so Stipel released him to fight on his own, and for whoever he wanted. So he’d get treated like any other asset that worked for him. Hastings might not care about his people. But here soldiers get treated as friends, so long as they earned it in actual deeds, and not lip service. But if things were going as badly as they both thought, good men and crews were going to be a blessing from now on, and so helping him get a real ship for a change was a good idea, and he knew George would use it well in the battles ahead.

      From time to time people with talents that are above average get found. They don’t realize they are different, they just are. Like a Hero in some storybook, they walk through fire and kill enemies and go home safe... or at least alive. George might well be one of those, using old frames that were thrown away half a century ago and weapons literally gathered from wrecks on the battlefield, and he and his crew had as many kills as any of Stipel’s men and ships had. He could only hope his luck held out, and that he did this well from now on...they were going to need him if they were going to be fighting 3 civilizations...and a Legend...all at once.

      George was in his glory now, for the first time since this started he was sitting in a new ship...a really new ship...not some old rag that he was given to use. And now he was his own man, and could go...or stay to suit himself. The Commander made it clear they needed him here, and the bounties would be substantial from now on. So George stayed and got ready for even more missions than before.

      The new ship had that special smell that said it was new, and didn’t have even a hint of smoke or sweat in it yet. But he was sure that would change soon. The crew moved their things in looking very pleased, as George took a tour, looking at the intricate carvings of the wood and all the shiny, polished surfaces, it was more like a home than a ship, but the specs showed that it was a real threat to anything nearby.

      His guns were added, and his best missiles to the tubes and he carefully placed the armor he had in the best locations for better coverage, for the moment. He still had lots of room for expansion on that and the shields, but with 300+ shields and 200+ armor, some very high tech, he was confident they would get the chance to add on even more safety in the days ahead.

      When everyone was ready they went out for a spin to get used to the new ship, and his point defenses got a pair of fighters that ran in , probably spying for the enemy, but those weren’t going to report back now, and they jumped into the next sector to look around too, before even going to check on any real missions.

      By the end of the first day, they were back and ready to get to work. The engines were fine for now but everything on this new ship had room to grow and George saw that this might last him the rest of his time working this War, and he wasn’t unhappy thinking it at all.


      Chapter 10: Open War...Concealed Truths


      The Chosen had made it their priority to find parts for their machine. They even hired other civilizations to aid them in getting them, with promises of greatness if they helped. The Atruscans were a mighty people, they had been thousands of years ago. But no one ever thought to ask them if they wanted to help anyone else.

      Those are the kind of blind things people do when they feel they are right, and now they ran headlong into their future, not knowing what it truly was going to be.

      But they kept their secrets well too, and even after weeks of fighting no one else knew...for certain...what they were trying to build. Knowing how very old the parts were many just laughed, saying they had no more chance to build a working machine with those than we had to bring back the dinosaurs, but they were willing to fight to prove it, and had somehow talked others into helping. So now the war went on, and everyone got into the act as battle after battle and wins and losses started piling up and the main reason for it all sat back in their home sectors, far from the battlefield and researched these things and hoped they would hold out long enough to see if this worked or not.

      But their allies were promised lands and planets taken from their old enemies, and after seeing the Chosen taking their sweet old time, they decided to go ahead and take back these planets for themselves. If they got it done without their help, then they owed them nothing, and they could stop the war when they felt like it. But the Chosen knew this and left just enough ships on the battlefields to look like they were helping, and keeping an eye on those people that might want to quit and go home sooner than they hoped.

      All this while fighting continued, and people like George and his crew won battles or lost friends and the war went on. But this was the biggest conflict since the Great War 50 years ago, bigger perhaps since the Chosen were involved. But one by one areas were conquered and the battles started moving closer to home. The Confederates had planned for a long war, while the Monkery had not. So they got the early advantage over them and their friends.

      A few Terran sectors got overrun too, and the Fleet was forced back, as the Federation and its allies celebrated their first victories while the Terrains and Monkery worked hard to rebuild their Fleets.

      And George went out every day somewhere, doing whatever was needed, and soon got a reputation for being a hard worker and a good Commander in the field. His kill rate was well up there, and his mission success rate was in the top 5 of everyone on both allies.

      Commander Stipel watched from his office as fight after fight either were won or lost wither he was there or not, and wither his own Fleet could handle the enemy alone or not. He wasn’t too surprised that George did things differently than the regular military, and he made a few notes about it when something he did worked out better than expected.

      He wasn’t too proud to learn from someone else, and small changes were made and things got a little better for his people and their Fleet as they adapted to new technology and new ideas on the battlefield.

      And a few others ,like George and his Team, were found to be helpful and one new frigate class got added to the mercenary group they had hired, and George saw that they were pulling out all the stops, and so he had an idea.

      There was a lot of new technology on the battlefield now compared to years ago. One such thing was a missile used by the Chosen. It penetrated the hull and set off a gas bomb, and it killed every person near it. Half a crew could be killed without having to fight for long periods of time. They were mainly used against bigger, more powerful ships, but he got his hands on a few after killing two Chosen destroyers carrying them.

      Now he was going to try something on his own. He was his own man now so his decisions didn’t hurt anyone else. But there were a lot of patrol missions out there that paid big bucks, if you could survive to finish them. And so he decided he needed some help too, and he went looking for a free ship.

      It took two tries to find something worth the effort. But he attacked a pirate destroyer that was patrolling alone near the Monkery boarders. The fight went quickly and as the ship drifted to a stop. George threw a tractor beam on it and started back, something unheard of most times.

      He pulled into the shipyard sometime later and after using spacesuits to enter and check for the remaining gas, he took the few people still alive prisoner, and handed them over to Monkery Intelligence who were thrilled to get them.

      “You did well today...” He heard as Commander Stipel called to congratulate him, and George just nodded and smiled.” That ship will sell well, and you’ll slowly become a rich man the way the War is going.” He hinted as George just smiled and asked where he could get a crew, and Commander Stipel seemed lost ...for about a second...then nodded eagerly and said he’d see what he could do. And the deal was made and Georges own Mercenary Group got a new ship and crew, and a new name to go by, and The MK 2 Mercenary Group was born, and George made sure everyone knew that they were not going to be the lowest form of help you could get. And with a little work taking salvaged parts out of storage the destroyer was as good as new and they flew out of the shipyard together the next day.

      “Planning ahead I see...” Stipel whispered as the pair left for work and he seemed pretty happy with that. Every ship was needed, and he knew some jobs on the bulletin board were damned near impossible alone, but that was just how it was, and so maybe this new idea was a good one for them all...only time would tell.


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      Chapter 11: MK 2 Attacks!


      With the new help George felt like they had a better chance doing some of the higher paying jobs now. They did a few convoy protection missions and failed only one, and even the Commander left them know that the enemies reinforcements were huge and even his fleet would have withdrawn.

      But they got a few done too and gathered some better guns and missiles for free. The ships now were in good shape and they went out more often and did more than nearly anyone else, regardless of group size,and even the Monkery Government noticed after a while.

      “Our Fleets are being gathered and equipped too slowly.” The Commander complained at their monthly meeting.” The Mercenary Gilds are losing men fast, and will soon not be able to hold the Line waiting for us to get there.” he demanded as a few members of the Congress agreed, while others did not.

      “If we move in at full force too quickly then we will be the one losing ships.” One Congressman said as a few nodded sadly.” Let them hold the line a little longer, then when we move, the enemy will be caught completely off guard and we’ll get the credit for subduing them ourselves.” he said as the real Military men there looked sad they’d even say that.

      “Just so you understand....” One older Statesmen said, while standing up and giving them all the evil eye.” We’re asking volunteers to do our killing for us, and dieing for our cause for little pay. If they survive this we will owe them an enormous debt, and I for one will make sure you never forget it!” he said sourly and walked out of the meeting.

      “My reports say around 20% of the enemy troops have been destroyed by these mercenaries, bravo for them! We’ll see they get credit for what little they do when the time comes, until then we keep repairing and upgrading our Fleets and then we’ll be ready to make our move.” The President said and the conference call ended with people all over either smiling that they had won , or looking upset that the Military was forced to rely on outsiders for defense, instead of doing the job themselves.

      Of course they didn’t say not to fight, just don’t get into any major battles, and what few smaller ones they did join in they got full credit for winning, wither that was true or not. But the Commander had seen the writing on the wall, and knew that those fools in the Congress were wrong. The enemy had more ships than they could ever muster, and so he decided to do whatever he could to help the mercenary groups that were doing all the hard work.

      He upped the pay out for missions first thing after the meeting, and made repairs on many ships systems free. Then he opened their shipyards to anyone with cash to buy newer ships and that was going to get him some trouble later he was sure. But they needed those ships on the front lines, and if the military couldn’t use them someone else needed to.

      His Intelligence officers had told him the enemy was massing for a huge strike and he had passed that info on to the Congress and their Intelligence Officers, but they waved it all away as just rumors, and he saw the truth. They were so stuck in their peaceful thinking and complacent ways that they refused to enter a real war, for fear of losing everything.

      But not to enter was the same thing, but they would never agree. He was just starting to wonder what they were really planning, since they were holding back the military badly. They would all die just like the people in the streets of every Monkery city if the enemy broke through those lines of people protecting them, but he felt they didn’t care anymore. Their personal safety as all they worried about, and as sad as he was to do it he secretly had a few watched and checked on, and their personal ships were ready to run for it...while their entire civilization fell around them.

      He knew now that only those few that could save them had a chance, and he called a meeting to show many people there what he had learned and even the President went into shock that some members of Congress were doing such a thing behind his back.

      Now things changed rapidly. Three of their main fleets were sent out from the Capitol, and they joined the war effort, as the Congress screamed for them to stop. But he had a few arrested for their treasonous crimes, and soon the rest made a run for it, from Monkery Space into Terran space for safety, but they didn’t all make it, since the space between was hotly contested, and their own selfish ways ended in their deaths, as many got caught between the fleets and were destroyed.

      The President went on the news and told the story, how a handful of good men from both Monkery and Terra had been protecting them all this time. Their names were told and their reputations grew, and he took personal command of the military and fleets went out to attack the enemy and protect their cities and young men and women ran to join the military in the biggest recruitment drive in the history of their race, and ships got built and crews added, and the war went on, only with a much better chance of victory now.

      And George and his people ran in to help, and after one particularly hard battle they limped back to base towing a Confederate cruiser, shot to bits but there, as many cheered for them and George had it repaired and added it to his wing of ships, now nearly doubling their firepower.

      And this made him the third largest Group of the mercenaries, and many more missions were brought out for them to see. Task Force missions helping the Monkery Military gold the line, convoy missions hauling supplies to and from bases, all things that needed done to keep ahead of the enemy, and while that was going on the Terran Intelligence Office had found a new spot to look for info.

      The Perdition system was the first solar system belonging to the Chosen on this side of the galaxy. They had several research stations there and they knew a lot of their information about this war was stored there. But it was heavily guarded and they needed that information badly. So a mission was added to the Allied Job Boards, and the pay was enormous, and the three biggest mercenary groups joined together to do it, and George was right there as they jumped into the system and his destroyer ran for the base while all the bigger ships attacked the defenders.

      The battle lasted for quite a while and ships started getting lost on both sides.But they held the line and as the word came back that they got all the info from the enemies computers, the destroyer ran past the Fleet to the jump point and left the system, as everyone fell back and one by one ran to escape.

      20 ships went in and started the battle, and as the smallest group George was given the job to hold the jump point while his destroyer ran in to gather the info. And they did ,destroying 5 Chosen ships and gathering some good materials from the wrecks. The information was sent back to the base and from there out to Terra and no one said a word for a few days. The attack group got paid and they divided the cash between them. But out of 20 ships to start only 12 remained, and George felt lucky all his vessels survived, as they docked and started repairs.


      Chapter 12: Intelligence Overload


      The computer files went on and on. They talked of all the things the Chosen knew, or what they believed in anyways. But it wasn’t good, and soon there was a meeting with all the Allies to discuss what was happening.

      “We already knew that they literally believe the Legend of the Atruscan Invasion thousands of years ago.” The President said as many nodded silently.” What we didnt know is this: They are direct descendents of the slaves the Atruscans had, or brought with them back then. They were purposely left behind to wait and rebuild the Gate when the time was right. The Atruscan’s are an ancient race, they traveled the stars and colonized the Universe first, before any other civilization even evolved anywhere else. They are old beyond imagining, and powerful too. They had star ships and fleets when we were all still walking on all fours and grunting, and they sent out probes looking for new worlds to conquer and explore.

      One such probe came here and built a Gate out of native materials and opened it to explorer ships, but by then they weren’t alone. Another race called the Amockery came too and they clashed here in an endless war. They fought for generations, centuries even, and at last the Amockery defeated them and forced them to withdraw. The Atruscans are patient if nothing else, and so secretly left people behind to start a colony here and wait until the Amockery went home again. That happened long ago, but the Chosen are just now gathering the necessary parts to rebuild the Gate.

      Once its ready they intend to open it once more, and let the Atruscans back into our galaxy. Because they have evidence that this is all true, they convinced the Confederates and Federation to help them get ready. This war is made especially to thin out our defenses before the Atruscans return... like they’d need the help.” he said sadly as many whispered among themselves.

      “They have promised their new allies parts of our empires in exchange for their help, they intend to reduce the Terran Alliance to nothing and divide up the land for themselves. They already know that this war will take a long time. They started planning it a decade ago secretly. Now its in full swing and they are gaining on us all badly. We had no idea the scope of this plan until now and we were caught completely off guard by it.So our only hope now is to adjust quickly. Every ship yard is getting fully automated, and every ship is being offered to our allies to help rebuild their fleets. We need every ship that we can find or build, so everyone do your best to build new Fleets for the coming battles. Repairs at ship yards and equipment docks will be free for labor, and reduced as much as possible in parts costs. This is no time to worry about a profit, and so lets all work together to turn the tide of this war and save our people!” He screamed as many cheered and hooted and the link went down amid people whispering and talking about what they had heard and they saw that this was indeed a well laid plan, and the Allies just now found out how long ago it had all started.

      The Monkery had already been doing most of what the President had said. They opened up their ship yards to anyone with cash and had repair crews working around the clock to repair allied ships. Their parts factories were working around the clock too, making new weapons and armor units and they knew first hand that the Confederates were doing the same thing.

      If this was to be a long war, then resources would mean everything, and parts would be needed like never before. So this was not just another day, week or month of war. It was War until further notice, and it would continue even after the Gate opened, if they ever got it working again.

      George saw this for what it was, War without end, and it made him sad thinking it. Millions would die, thousands of ships would be destroyed, and colonies would come and go depending on who captured them at the time.

      The Terran’s were finally throwing their all into the war, and the Monkery were too, making ships as fast as ever before and selling them at cost, just to keep the Fleets going.There were times that even his ships needed repairs, but the ship yards were swamped and sometimes he had to do them himself. So he started to check around and soon found a small station that was abandoned near the Monkery boarder. He called the owner and they had a nice long talk, and George leased the place for cheap, and they moved in and made it their base.

      They cleaned the place up and measured everything to see what they had to work with. His destroyer came inside the dock easily and the cruisers just barely fit if the entire dock was empty.But that was fine for him, and he hired a dozen mechanics and engineers and bought them some tools and he started his own repair facility and home base for the MK 2 Gild, and his men and women now had a real place to call home, and his allies saw that he was getting just as serious about this war as they were and they approved.

      Soon makeshift shipyards and equipment docks popped up all over both Monkery and Terran space. The main Mercenary Gilds were given free rein to do their own repairs and even upgrades and some remodeling of ships. It became nothing to see ships with oversized weapons or double the normal number of engines, but no one said anything about it and soon their enemies started getting surprised by these odd new ships.

      Cruisers with the speed of destroyers, and destroyers with nothing but missile batteries mounted for long range attacks. Ships that were never really designed this way but seemed to work, and everyone had their favorite ship design, and new ideas started getting tested by even the main civilizations trying to keep up.

      While they weren’t any better than before, the element of surprise can be a powerful tool, and soon the enemies stepped back a bit to see what was happening, and that gave the allies some time to get themselves a little better prepared than before, and a few battles started to turn more their way.


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      Chapter 13: Big Attacks


      Now they felt more ready, and the Terrans called for all the help they could get, and planned a massive attack. They had found a pair of ship yards just inside Federation space. And their spy drones showed that they were staging many new ships there, probably waiting for more serious battles to come.

      The plan was simple, fight your way into Federation space, destroy or badly damage the ship yards, and then all the staged ships sitting there. The drone scans said they were empty, no crew of any kind, at least not yet. So attack without mercy, destroy everything and run back home. That was the plan at least, and everyone saw the scans sent back of the area and the fleet just sitting there.

      The Allied Fleet was composed of the Terran 2nd Fleet, a battleship task force, and all the mercenaries they could get to follow them. The mercs had recently taken some heavy losses, but still 10 ships showed up to help, and they fought their way to the Federation boarder and finally through the jump point and into Federation space.

      They caught the enemy by surprise, and the few active ships attacked while calling for reinforcements. The fleet dropped torpedoes and missiles into the ship yards, and one was all but destroyed. Then the others ran to attack the waiting ships, and as cruisers and even one carrier was attacked George had his own idea, and his destroyers ran at best speed and pulled in beside 2 brand new Federation destroyers sitting there in the staging area.

      Marines beamed in and a minute later they both showed as friendly, as George cheered on his bridge and the other mercs screamed at him for cheating, as one other took the time and beamed in a team into a wounded cruiser and took it also.

      “Get those weapons active and get them moving.” George screamed, as his men agreed and the destroyers all activated their turrets and went to work on the rest of the enemy fleet. The battle lasted for a while yet, as a few more ships ran in to help. But in the end the Allies won and the ship yards were destroyed, and one by one the ships went back through the jump point and worked their way back home and George and his team got a nice hefty pay for their part, and two new destroyers, adding a lot more ships and firepower to his Team, and his standing with the other mercenary groups went up a great deal instantly.

      Up until now his group had been called a Team or Group because one or two ships is not a Fleet. But even by military standards his new group moved up to the official standing of a ‘Wing’ of ships. Still not a Fleet, but much better, and with 6 ships he could take on some really impressive missions alone and keep all that income for himself.

      He set one up with missiles, two launchers up front, and the rest as gunboats, and soon he was getting teased for not stealing something bigger when he had the chance.

      “The time will come....” he hinted and many who worked with him knew that with an almost endless war coming he would be a fool for not gathering every wounded ship he could, as a few others were doing even now.

      It’s not like they weren’t out there, but heavy ships are heavily armed, and heavily escorted, so getting something really impressive might push his group up to Fleet status, but he was probably going to lose ships trying it, wither he won or lost, and he wasn’t ready for that yet because he was just getting used to having a ‘fast attack wing’ of ships with good speed and firepower, and his name was out as someone you could call on in an emergency, and he got a few calls that weren’t even on the job boards yet.

      Once a week he took a big job, from escorting massive fleets of freight haulers to clearing a task force out of a sector. These new jobs paid big bucks, some as high as 250,000 gold, and that was nearly enough for a new destroyer if he needed one. But his luck was holding out, and as they limped home from yet another mission, all he lost was a few crew members and some damages from missile attacks.

      In two days he was up and running again and everyone knew that when trouble came he didn’t run away, and his reputation went up again with just about everyone in both Monkery and Terran space.

      The Mercenary Gild was now made up of 4 groups. Georges MK 2 group, the Monkery Mercenary Gild, the Terran Mercenary Gild and a new Gild made up of people that were just getting started...the Second Chance Gild...or New-bee Gild behind their backs.

      They had 2 destroyers and a few fighters but that was it. They did some convoy protection missions and helped as back up on a few others, and as George watched from the safety of his heavy cruiser, he saw them taking too many chances, and knew they wouldn’t last long enough to get a good reputation. It happens a lot. People see big money sitting there for the taking and they rush in, many times to their deaths, but he had learned slowly, the best way, that death awaits those that are not patient and he turned away from watching them after a while because he had his own problems to worry about.

      The enemy was getting stronger, and he wondered why they held back until now. Their big battle line ships were seen more and more. Carriers with dozens of fighters, and Battleships with huge guns and missiles. They led the way to a few enemy victories too and one sector was lost again as they moved in to reclaim it.

      That left them one step closer to the core sectors and the Capital, and the Monkery Military was getting more and more upset that even with all the ships they could muster they couldn’t stop them completely.


      Chapter 14: Desperate Measures


      So it came down to this: they called for help and the Terrans sent their damaged 4th Fleet, now just a wing of attack cruisers. They joined the Monkery 2nd and 3rd Fleets and all the mercs they could get. This made a sizable Task Force, and they were determined to destroy as many enemy ships in as little time as possible, buying them all time to rebuild after that.

      They moved slowly, purposely giving the enemy time to call for help, and as wing after wing of destroyers ran in to throw missiles into the Force, they went up in smoke just as fast. The enemy lost 6 destroyers the first wave and less then an hour later 4 cruisers, as they worked their way across the sector towards the enemy jump point. Once there they flew through and came out in a Confederate system and met another Force of enemy ships. Everyone was taking losses but the Confederates worst of all.

      In the first day 12 ships were destroyed, 2 ally ships and 10 Confederate ships. The Task Force was cheering their good luck when a wave of new ships came through the jump point behind them, and Front Line ships were with them. A carrier and a battleship both and all their escorts, and everyone knew they couldn’t win against a force this large, but they could hurt them badly, and so that became the plan.

      As the main force moved in to attack, George ordered his destroyers into position and they threw missiles at everything they could get a good shot at. One destroyer was eliminated right away, and another limped away, badly hurt. Then his cruisers circled around the main fleet and attacked from the side and another 2 enemy ships were destroyed, as their attack force broke into smaller groups and moved to intercept the new attack wing.The battleships escorts left them and moved in to attack, and George and his wingman dropped every missile they had on them from a distance, and one cruiser went up in smoke and another was badly hurt.

      The two groups moved closer together, and soon it became a fight of gun against gun and armor against armor. Luckily George had been doing this type of fighting for weeks now, and his high tech armor was doing a good job of fighting off the weapons the Confederates were using. Another destroyer was killed and another heavy cruiser was disabled and just drifted along without power.

      They pulled back a bit to get rearmed and get their shields back up, and a Monkery supply ship pulled along side and gave them each more missiles to use and they thanked them. Now they were ready, and they ran into range and blasted the side of the huge battleship with everything they had. It took some time and they took some damage, but the big ship lost its shields on one side completely, and George showered the entire side with toxic missiles, and then ran away while the death toll on board the big ship went up and up.

      50-100 people died as the gas swept through the big ship, and their marines went into a panic and ran to get gas masks, and left their posts for a second, and George had every ship nearby beam marines in, and then pull back and 120 marines ran in and the battle inside the big ship was as fierce as the battle was outside.

      But the gas attack had its effect, and the defenders were caught off guard. They were caught in small groups instead of sticking together, and suddenly a massive force was attacking them and some fought to the death while others dropped their weapons and surrendered. It took an hour but the big ship stopped firing, and the carrier saw the writing on the wall and jumped away to the thrill of the Allied forces.

      They all turned and went home, victorious in chasing the enemy back into their own territory, and another group moved in to hold the sector as George and his crew escorted the big ship back into friendly space and then to the shipyard, where they got a huge price for it and he bought 2 new cruisers to fill in his fleet and his allies saw that while the war was far from over, they had good people fighting along side them and they at least had a chance now.

      The word got out that a enemy sector had fallen, and the Monkery people cheered for them, but the Terrans only knew their people had been involved and gave them a rousing round of applause when they returned. It seemed they were holding the line on their propaganda, saying that only the Terrans were doing well, and that the Monkery were depending on them and their allies to help hold back the enemies, which was far from the truth.

      If they weren’t careful they were going to lose the few allies they already had, but politics was running wild there and even as they lost a few fights, they refused to call the Monkery for help, and used mercenaries instead, and made sure they took the worst of it when the battles started. That gave them another excuse, to say that only true military families were trained well enough to truly fight well, and slowly even the mercenary groups started refusing their calls, and the Terran Congress saw that maybe they had over done it a bit, as their own people were forced to hold the enemy back alone, and were losing ships and people now at an alarming rate.

      They put out the word that they were calling ‘any strong and proper Terran soldiers’ to fight with them and a few went ...mainly for the huge amount they were getting paid. George jumped in too for a few fights and did very well. The embedded news crews got to see first hand that not every good soldier was from a famous family, and they said so on Empire wide broadcasts, but the military laughed it off saying that they had started the MK 2 Gild by giving a lost soul his first real chance, and George got a good laugh at that one, but refused to say one way or another because depending on who you talked to it might just be true.


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      Chapter 15: “Things Can Only Get Worse From Here.” Quote from Commander of Monkery Fleet to Congress, Star Date September 2nd, 3200


      The War had been ongoing for over 2 years now, and thousands had died and were missing. The Terrans were still fighting tooth and nail to hold their territory, and the Gilds were running raged trying to keep up on two fronts. George and his team lost one cruiser, gathered another after a battle and spent a month getting it ready to go out again. They gathered every piece of armor, every gun no matter how small, and all the food, medical supplies and ammo they could find after every fight, and sold what they didn’t need themselves.

      The Monkery Military was on full alert and drafting men and women had begun just trying to keep up with the losses. But the Confederates never seemed to run out of ships, and that alone made fighting them seem hopeless. For every group of ships they lost, another just slipped into position to continue the fight, and even the militaries of both the Terrans and Monkeries were starting to worry that somehow they were going to win on sheer numbers alone.

      The Federation was doing just about as well too, and now everyone was starting to wonder how this could be. Their fleets had never been this big before, but they never seemed short of reinforcements and slowly it seemed to become clear that they were getting a lot of help, and the Chosen seemed the likely suspects.

      “They’re using these massive fleets to keep us out of their space...” one Admiral said as many at the meeting agreed.” That means they must have never given up on their plans. And are still trying to build that gate to call for the Atruscans once more. If they succeed then this war is over, adding another civilization to their allies will end our resistance in a second on all fronts!” he declared as many looked sad he said it just like that.

      “We need to know for sure,” Another added and many asked how that was even possible.” lets build a few stealth drones and send them to see, if they have given up on construction that would certainly be good news don’t you think?” He asked as many agreed and the research and development people started construction of the drones that very day.

      In a month they were ready and 6 drones slipped into Chosen space without being noticed. They flew from area to area and soon one saw a flickering off in the distance, and ran that way. It got close and there was a huge crown shaped devise, and every once in a while it sputtered and glowed, and then went out again.

      “My God! They almost have it working.” The President said as the room full of his allies was deadly silent.” How can this be?” he asked but no one knew for sure.

      “Scans show they don’t have the power to keep it stable, so they need a long time to build something big enough to power it. It appears they tried to run it off a ship sitting there, but the generator wasn’t nearly big enough.” One researcher said and many nodded agreement.

      “It sputters for a second or two...” Another officer said as many nodded,” do you think they got a message through? If they can they can talk to the people on the other side, whoever they might be now, and ask for help.” he added as the room got very quiet.

      “Then we have no choice, we need to stop them right away. Lets put every ship we can muster together and make a run on the gate. Destroy it, or at least damage it badly. Every ship capable of firing missiles and torpedoes must be ready to leave at once!” Was declared, and everyone agreed and their biggest push yet was under way, to stop the Chosen from finding yet another ally, or die trying.

      The Task Force was made up of the Monkery 3rd,5th and 6th fleets, and the Terran 1st, 3rd and 7th Fleets and every mercenary ship capable of the fight. They didn’t take time to look for a fight as they ran in, they had one already waiting, and they forced their way through 2 waves of enemy ships just to get to the jump point to Chosen space.

      They jumped across and when they got there they saw the Chosen Fleet waiting, and protecting what looked like a huge dreadnought, all black and red with odd looking shape and powerful weapons sitting there by the gate with several major ships of the Chosen Fleet.

      “These are you enemies?” Was heard on the open communications channel as the Chosen agreed, saying that they weren’t that strong but they had large numbers backing them.” Pitiful.” It said as a beam flew out and the first 3 ships of the allied fleet were gone in an instant, as scanners recorded every detail for study later.

      “When you called, I expected so much more than this.” It said as the beam shot out again, and a major allied ship went up in flames in an instant, as they all fired missiles and torpedoes and even with the big ship covering it the gate took a few small hits. “Kill them!” It said as dozens of fighters ran off the big ship, and attacked the Fleet as the Chosen Fleet too joined in and the allies started taking serious damage.

      “Retreat, we’re too late!” Someone screamed but the Admiral of the Terran Fleet refused saying they had come too far to turn back now.

      “Attack until you cant fire any more, then retreat, we dare not let more than this come through!” he screamed as many ships ran in and the big enemy ship slid forward to put itself between the gate and the attacking fleet, giving it cover from attack.

      But even a dreadnought, the biggest of the big could not take damage forever,and after a hundred missiles it too had to fall back. But by then the gate glowed and a second, smaller ship came through as the Chosen cheered that their saviors had arrived.

      “The Fleet comes...” Was heard as ship after ship came out now, one after another, all black and red and oddly shaped but definitely powerful, as they too turned and fired at the Allies.

      “Keep firing every missile you can and then retreat,” The Terran Commander said as his forces pulled back and started back through into friendly space.” Get every scan possible, we need to know all there is before we leave!” he ordered as everyone did as he said,and as the last allied ships left the area, the Chosen cheered and thanked their new friends for helping.

      “You did well, just like our slaves before you.” The Chosen heard as they stopped short and asked what they meant. “It was your duty, to wait and then rebuild when the time was right. And you did well. We can take it from here, so sit back and watch and do our bidding, as is your purpose.” They heard and they weren’t too sure thats why they called for these ships and they said so, as a beam reached out and the ship carrying their Emperor was gone in an instant.

      “Any more questions?” It said as they all got quiet and the new people left them know that 50,000 years ago they were nothing but slaves, doing work on their ships and buildings and when they left this area and went home they left them behind...to do exactly what they had done...rebuild the Gate after their real enemy had left. And that was exactly what they wanted them to do.

      “Now that the galaxy is free from the stain of the Republic, we can claim it once more, and make sure they never return to stop our plans.” They said and the Chosen decided that being quiet was better than dieing for nothing, and they accepted their place as slaves once more after all these millenia.

      Chapter 16: Rethinking a War


      With the Confederates, the Federation and now the Atruscans on their side the Chosen seemed unstoppable. Their Fleet was, by now double what it had been, and the new ships were seen traveling out of Chosen space, something they themselves didn’t do unless it was an emergency. But these new ships were more serious, and worked to fight against every ship they encountered.

      They had harder shields for protection, and better weapons even than the Chosen had been using. They were sending smaller ships out to scout around and attack anyone they found and after a few battles, even a few of those ships got destroyed and some of their technology was captured and rushed to the research labs for analysis.

      Better, harder armor, and beam weapons that cut through shields like they were nothing. The Allies called for every piece of equipment they could get, and missions were set up just for that purpose. Now it became ‘if you cant beat them join them’ at least as far as guns were concerned. If their old guns were not strong enough, then use the enemies guns instead, and they started making changes to the guns they were using to make them stronger and more like the ones the new enemy used.

      But within a month, the new enemy had taken back 2 sectors and many stations. They moved in and fought, then stayed to hold their new lands, never pulling back. It was clear they intended to stay and claim every bit of space they could. Eventually they would own everything, if they weren’t stopped soon.

      George and his crews worked hard too, doing some patrol missions that nearly got them killed. Two of his smaller ships were gone now and his larger ships had been beaten around pretty badly and were now sitting around his little base waiting on repairs to get done.

      “But we need you here today...” He heard as one Terran sector manager from 2 areas over screamed at him for refusing his job.

      “I have to get repairs done right now, if I send ships out in this condition they’ll never come back, and that wont help you later on either.” he explained as the man just scoffed and closed the link. “Morons...” George whispered and went back to watching as one destroyer got done and moved out of the bay and another cruiser moved in to start it all over again.

      As usual he had been gathering every bit of equipment he could, and stocked up his warehouse as much as possible. If he hadn’t then by now he’d be screwed, because every bit of new equipment was getting grabbed up by either the Terran Fleet or the Monkery Fleet just to keep their own ships going now.

      The Fleets were slowly getting smaller and only truly skilled Captains and Commanders were still out there. But the enemy seemed to think they had all the time in the world, and so they moved slowly and then built up their defenses before moving on. It was clear they were in no hurry, but they were totally serious too, and they claimed area after area and then closed the jump points to anyone but them, with turrets around them to stop enemies from getting in, at least for free.

      One Fleet after another took heavy damage, and as they did were forced to fall back to safer areas, and then the enemy would move in and claim that spot, and then put up defenses and get ready for the next battle.

      But George wasn’t sitting by idly either. He did the jobs he could do and took the time to go ever every square inch of the battle area gathering armor or weapons, and by now his Flag Ship had the best of everything, and other stuff he found was slowly being added to his other ships as well.

      If he was careful then he could keep going. If not then his group would fall and disappear like several more before him. Out of the 4 major mercenary groups, only 2 remained, and they were only a shadow of what they started out to be, and he knew that one mistake, one bad battle that would go against them, and they would be done, and his allies knew it as well.

      Because it wasn’t just him, it was everyone, and the major civilizations had every ship yard making replacements as fast as they could, and every young person, male or female got drafted into the military and was soon on the front lines.

      But you can only do emergency things like this once, and this was it. Now it was win or lose, because there was no one left to call and the Home Planets started planning for the worst, the day when enemy ships pulled into orbit and opened fire into the Capital and other major cities.

      But in deep space a hidden transmitter went active, and for the first time in thousands of years a call was sent and got received on the other end. The Republic wasn’t the massive force it once was, but it had the best of everything. They believed that quality beat quantity every time, and had proven it in the past.

      Their old enemies were back as the scanners showed, and were wasting the little people that lived around them. Now it was time to send them packing, and they jumped in a handful of ships just as a planet was attacked and in a second the enemy ships were scrap, and their Commanders saw it from a good distance away and saw the shape of the ships that did it, and they left their Generals know that the old enemy had returned.


    9. #9
      TXU Sr. Member kevin398's Avatar
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      Chapter 17: Revenge or Retreat?

      So now they had to make a decision, run or fight. They had lost to these enemies several times before, and ran home to hide. But that ground on them badly and it was decided to stay and fight, and the little galaxy half way between them would once again be their playground.

      They sent in every available ship and went looking for the enemy. They found a wing of 5 heavy ships just sitting in one sector waiting for them to come. The Chosen scouted them and sent info back and then started the attack themselves, and their fleet was dead in less than an hour, and the Republic ships lost no one...none.

      So very old was this civilization that they were making space ships and flying from star to star when the Humans were still in caves, and the Chosen were still in slave cages. Their technology was so far advanced that even the Atruscans, who had fought them before, was no match for them, and they tried everything to just get samples of their technology for themselves, and failed. And after months of trying, the Republic jumped right into the Chosen home system and attacked the planet there, and the Gate.

      It was clear even the Atruscans couldn’t stop them, so they settled for getting top of the line scans of the new ships and their weapons and ran for it. Now they’d have information for a new fleet and then they’d come back again, and as the Republic destroyed many Atruscan ships, the remainder of the Fleet ran back home before the Gate was destroyed.

      They left behind these Chosen friends that had helped them once again, with the same orders...survive and hide...and when the time was right a message would come and they’d rebuild the gate again. The Atruscans would never admit defeat, and so another war was inevitable...someday.

      The Chosen ships jumped away, to hide as ordered, and the Republic ships destroyed the Gate and sent its parts in every direction, to crash onto planets and asteroids and moons, never to be seen again. They then sent a message to the friendly ships nearby...rest and prepare...because someday when that Gate got rebuilt again, they might not come back, and they jumped away and the Terrans and Monkery had a new order...something to live for for a long ,long time...get ready because the Atruscans would return and they had to be able to defend themselves, and that message was written into the laws, and rules of every planet, because they dared not forget it.

      The Milky Way was not just another Galaxy in the Universe...it was THE center of the Universe, like the center of a spider web or bicycle wheel, everything else connected to it, and because of its importance the Atruscans...as well as others that knew of it... fought over it every few millenia and would again. The people actually living here must be ready to protect their homes. Because the Republic had been doing this for over 100 wars now, and even they were getting tired of it. If they stopped interfering the Galaxy would fall to someone else, or the residents would have to protect it themselves, and they made sure to tell them that the samples from the Atruscan ships was a good start, but no where near enough, and they would need to work together to build defenses and wait until a new enemy came to take their worlds from them, and stand together as one to defend the place.

      That was the message they left behind when they left...maybe for the last time...and it got sent to every civilization, no matter who they were, and they had to think wither it was in their best interest to keep their war going or to start getting ready for the next one, wither it was hundreds of years away, or might start tomorrow, and they decided to bet on a long time away, and even while the Chosen were gone now, the Confederates and the Federation decided that THEY were the ones that would rule the Galaxy until the next war started, and their attacks kept right on going, even without their old allies.

      The fighting lasted for many years and finally the Allies won and forced the enemies to admit defeat. The outer universe hadn’t bothered them for a while, but they knew they would. Living at the Hub of the Universe was a bad spot, because every civilization that wanted to conquer them all had to come through here first, and that was a terrible thing.

      The entire galaxy became Allies now, and started getting ready. They needed to be friends forever, or they would die when the next big war began. Eternal War, that was their destiny, and now that they knew it they would make sure that they would be as ready as they possibly could...when that far away time came again.

      The End, and Merry Christmas to all


    10. #10
      TXU New Member blazermick01's Avatar
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      Great to see you back Kev. Enjoyed that.

      Merry Christmas to you and all those around you and the readers here.


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