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Old January 31 2013, 01:39 AM   #121
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Episode 13: Revelations

“Admiral, we are cleared for final approach,” Helo called out from the cockpit.

Adama, Saul Tigh, and Laura Roslin sat in the troop bay of the Raptor, along with several members of the Quorum and the very quiet ECO who was trying to remain seen and not heard in such august company. Two more Raptors following carried the rest of the Quorum and—at the President’s direction—the media.

Adama stood and he made his way forward, to the co-pilot seat, while Saul followed him and crouched between the Admiral and Helo. “Request permission to circle once before landing,” Adama ordered.

Scorpia, Raptor 341; requesting permission to circle for observation before entering landing pattern.”

“Raptor 341, Scorpia Flight Control, permission granted.”

Helo slowly circled the Battlestar and Saul pointed at scoring on the outer surface of the port flight-pod. “Looks like they had fires onboard—and recently.”

“It happens,” said Adama. “Heavy cratering of the armor,” the Admiral noted. “Impacts on the engine pods—but they look intact.”

“Is that . . . ?” asked Saul. “She took some hard hits.”

Adama pursed his lips as he cast his gaze on the hole that penetrated the outer armor—and probably the inner hull as well. “Kamikaze strike, according to Commander Lorne. Came in fifteen meters forward of the number seven magazine.”

Saul winced. “DRADIS dome looks good—but there are impacts all over the forward section. She got hammered good, Bill,” he whispered.

“But she survived,” the Admiral replied in just as soft a voice.

Saul snorted. “At the rate she was popping out nukes, I don’t doubt it. She can’t have many left, though. Fleet only gave Valkyrie a dozen and I don’t see them giving her all that many more.”

“And we’ve got four—or we will have when you finish reassembling the warhead I gave to Baltar; Pegasus has eleven left. No, I imagine Commander Lorne’s magazines are just about dry as far as the big firecrackers go.”

They rounded the nose and started back aft along the port pod again—and saw two Vipers launch in sequence to replace elements of the CAP. Both were Mk VI Vipers.

“Old, but serviceable,” Saul said.

And the Admiral snorted. “Seen what we are flying, Saul? The Mk Vis are damn good fighters.”

“I’m really wanting to see those new fighters that Sidewinder talked about—according to the pilots, they can lay down the lead,” Saul said, sounding like nothing less than the rookie pilot assigned to Galactica forty-four years ago.

“Planning on crawling in the cockpit and taking it out for spin, XO?” Adama asked.

“I might just do that, now that you mention it, Admiral.”

“Raptor 341, Scorpia Flight Control,” the wireless broadcast. “You are cleared for landing in the starboard pod. Begin your approach and call the ball for hands-on-stick landing.”

“Copy, Flight, I’ve got the ball, starboard pod,” answered Helo.

And Adama snorted again, jerking his head at Saul. “Better get strapped in,” he ordered as he began to buckle himself into the co-pilot seat. “Rank has its privileges,” the Admiral finished.

“Flight, 341, I have the ball, seventeen degrees down angle, overtake speed +90.”

“341, Flight, you are in the green and clear for landing on elevator One Three.”

Helo winced. “Copy, Flight. Elevator One Three.”

“Problem, Helo?”

“I really don’t like the number thirteen, Admiral,” the pilot answered and Bill nodded. He picked up the wireless. “Flight, 341, request new elevator assignment.”

“341, Flight—you are cleared for landing on elevator One Three. Is there a problem?”

“No problem, Flight. This is Galactica Actual aboard Raptor 341, request new elevator assignment.”

There was a pause. “341, Flight, you are cleared for landing on elevator One Four. Repeat, elevator One Four.”

Adama smiled at his CAG. “It’s all in knowing what to say, Helo.”

Last edited by MasterArminas; January 31 2013 at 02:56 AM.
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Old January 31 2013, 02:51 AM   #122
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Mathias descended the ladder to the lower portion of the hanger deck, Lee Adama trailing in his wake.

“FORM UP!” Colonel Jayne bellowed to the serried ranks of pilots, deck hands, and Marines below as the three elevators began to descend. Mathias marched across the deck and Jayne—clad in his full dress uniform—bellowed, “SHIP’S COMPANY . . . STAND AT ATTEN-TION!” With a thunder that echoed throughout the bay, every man and woman (except those deck hands assigned to secure the Raptors) snapped to attention.

He saluted crisply. “Sir, company is present and accounted for, ready for Presidential Review.”

Mathias gravely returned the salute. Jayne lowered his arm and the XO turned on his heel, followed by the Commander and Lee Adama taking a place beside him—the other members of Lee’s Raptor mission were already standing in ranks.

“Bosun,” Mathias barked, “prepare to render Presidential Honors.”

The elevators slid easily into their wells and came to a halt. The deck crew rushed forward, locking the skids in place and wheeling up ladders—with handles—to the wings of the Raptors, before scurrying away once again.

Mathias stepped forward and the first hatch opened.

Behind him he heard Tom Jayne bellow, “Color guard, present the Colors!”

And Mathias nodded to the Bosun who keyed in a sequence in a control pad against the hanger bulkhead. From speakers throughout the hanger deck, the Colonial Anthem began to play, and five Marines in dress uniform marched forward; two bearing polished and bayoneted rifles—the remaining three carrying flags. Three flags, one for the Colonial Government, the second for home Colony of the President (in this case Caprica), and finally the standard of Battlestar Scorpia. They halted in front of the company, and then, in unison, lowered all three flagstaffs to a forty-five degree angle.

An Admiral stepped out on the wing of the first Raptor, and Jayne barked out, “SCORPIA, RENDER HAND SA-LUTE!”

And three hundred men and women saluted at the same exact moment, each stomping their boot heel on the deck at the exact same instant.

Laura Roslin emerged from the Raptor, and Mathias could not tell if she was stunned or simply shocked that anyone had bothered.

He marched forward to the base of the ladder and held up one hand to assist the President down, and she was followed by Admiral Adama and Colonel Tigh, and several civilians.

Mathias stepped backed and he offered a crisp, slow, and perfect salute as the notes of the anthem reverberated from the bulkheads.

“Welcome aboard Battlestar Scorpia, Madame President,” he said. And then he stood there unmoving.

Bill Adama leaned forward, and he whispered in Laura’s ear. “You are supposed to return the salute, Madame President with your right hand over your heart,” and she smiled at him and did so.

Mathias released his own salute, and so did the company which stomped the deck yet again.

“The Ship’s Company is prepared for inspection, Madame President,” he said—but Bill could see a twinkle in his eyes. By the Gods, he was teasing the President! And he almost—but not quite—burst out laughing.

“Perhaps later, Commander . . . Lorne.”

Mathias nodded. “Madame President, Admiral Adama, on behalf of the officers and crew of the Battlestar Scorpia, I beg to report that on this day, we rejoin the Colonial Fleet with five thousand four hundred and forty-three souls in our care. Let no one, man or Cylon or Lord of Kobol himself, say of those who it has been my honor to command, that they have not done their duty.”

Laura blinked and she didn’t say a word, she just grabbed Commander Lorne’s hand, shock it, and she stepped up and hugged him. And a massive cheer went up from the assembly.
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Old January 31 2013, 05:01 AM   #123
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Several hours later, Mathias, both of the Adamas, Laura, Saul Tigh, Mark Foeswan, and Tom Jayne sat down on the sofa and chairs in the sitting area of the Commander’s stateroom. The Quorum were still being shown around Scorpia—Tom Zarek had been taken aback when his friend Jon Namer had appeared; he was now touring Anubis and Leonis Pryde.

Helo and Sharon had reunited as well—and if they had disappeared a short time later, neither Mathias nor the Admiral had said a word.

Of course, the Admiral may have been a bit distracted when Lee had introduced him to his grand-daughter—and his former fiancée. Neither had wanted a religious ceremony, so Mathias had brushed off the manual of regulations and conducted a very private rite for the two of them in the surgery. Needless to say, the President had oohed and aahed with the best of them over the small babe.

And she had clearly been taken aback by the crew and the ship; just as the personnel from Galactica and Pegasus and the civilians, including the media, had been.

But now the time had come for a private meeting—well, as private as a meeting of this type could be. Mathias leaned forward.

“Admiral, I’ve prepared several reports for you, Commander Adama assisted in compiling them. This,” and he held up one binder, “is the complete report of our mission and return to the Colonies and our activities since. This one,” he raised another, “is a complete manifest of all parts, ordnance, supplies, and provisions aboard the ships I have escorted. And this one,” raising the third, “is a complete roster of all Fleet and civilian personnel, as well as the ships to which they are assigned and their current duties.”

“As far as ordnance goes, our magazines are still relatively full. I have used or expended three Hades-IV space-to-surface munitions, but I retain three in the silos with their MIRVs intact. My nuclear ordnance now consists of eight fusion-tipped Thunderbolt torpedoes and two small—I am speaking of 50-kiloton—warheads for Hydras. If I am given a few days, I can disassemble another Hades-IV and convert eight additional warheads for use with the Thunderbolts. For fighters, the report is no longer accurate—I lost three Mk VIIs, two Mk VIs and four Thunders, along with their crews, in the battle, along with nine personnel aboard Scorpia.”

Bill Adama nodded and Saul Tigh raised an eyebrow before he too nodded an appreciation. “You’ve put your civilians to work?” the Galactica XO asked.

And Tom Jayne snorted. “This isn’t a pleasure cruise, Colonel Tigh. They aren’t passengers—they are survivors. We need every hand for this evolution. That means they need to tend to their own ships and busy hands stay out of mischief.”

Saul snorted. “Damn if I wish we couldn’t do the same thing.”

“I am concerned, Commander,” the President said with a sour look on her face when Saul spoke, “about your agreement with these Sagittaron Freedom Movement terrorists. You gave them a blanket amnesty with no authority to do so, you have given them an armed ship, you have allowed them to set up their own internal police force. Many of them were wanted men and women, Commander—a fact which you must be aware of.”

“There were, Madame President, but in case you didn’t notice, society came crashing down in the attack. Frankly, I don’t care what they did before—the question is what can they do now. Mister Namer and I have come to an understanding, and I have made perfectly clear that any act of violence in the name of political discourse or an action intended to harm this Fleet will not be tolerated. Yes, I have organized police forces on every one of my non-military ships—these will make certain that crime is quashed. My own JAG and CIS personnel are overseeing them, to make damn sure that they do not step over the line. I won’t tolerate assault, rape, or murder on my ships.”

“I am still concerned about this ship—Anubis—being in their hands,” Laura said.

Mathias sighed and he sat forward. “Major Caldwell is a capable and loyal Fleet officer, Madame President. Do you why she resigned her commission?”

“No, Commander,” the President said as she crossed her legs and leaned on one elbow. “Why don’t you inform us of why she joined a terrorist organization?”

“Commander Lorne,” said the Admiral. “That will not be necessary—I am fully aware of who Samantha Caldwell is and her qualifications. And the reasons why she resigned,” she said and exchanged a look with Laura that said ‘we will discuss this later’. She nodded assent and then sat back.

“Her qualifications aside, is her loyalty to the Fleet or the SFM?” the President asked.

“Their war against President Adar and the government imposed on Sagittaron is over, Madame President. I am certain, however, that hotheads on both sides remain and we will be dealing with the aftermath for a good long while. But at the moment, Namer and Caldwell and I have managed to tamp down any problems. Can your Fleet not do the same?”

Laura smiled sweetly again and she sat back. “Lee tells me that you and I are going to have . . . differences,” she said.

“Madame President,” Mathias said quietly. “I am an officer in the Colonial Fleet. As long your orders are legal, I will obey them—so will the people under my command. We will not, however, obey an illegal order. Nor will I deprive any of my people of their rights guaranteed under the Articles of Colonization or the Fleet’s Articles of War. That includes your ban on abortion—it will not be enforced on this vessel.”

Laura sighed and she glared at Mathias and Mathias glared right back at her. “Your Captain Greene told you were a hard-ass, Commander,” and she smiled. “I see that he was right. I want your Cylon prisoners transferred to Galactica.”

“I have no Cylon prisoners, Madame President,” Mathias said with a smirk.

“Oh? I understand that you have two,” she said and both Adamas frowned in unison.

“I had two prisoners—they have proved their loyalty and been inducted into the Colonial Fleet, just as Admiral Adama did with Athena. I trust them, and they are not going to be put into a cell when they have risked their lives to defend the people under my authority.”

“You had no right to do that, Commander!”

“I had every right, Madame President. Under the Articles of War—unless you are setting them aside and ruling by fiat. In which case, you are not President, but a tyrant.”

Lee started to open his mouth as his father leaned forward, but Colonel Tigh actually pulled him back.

“Commander, if I give you an order, you will obey it,” the elder Adama growled.

“On what basis Commander Adama?” Mathias asked. “The two of us share the same rank.”

“I promoted William Adama to Admiral, Commander,” said Laura.

“You promoted him to Rear Admiral, Madame President. The Articles of War reserve to the People’s Council the exclusive right to confirm any appoints to Flag rank, with one exception—as President, you are within your right to nominate Commander Adama for that rank, but without the ratification by the Council, Madame President, he remains, in the eyes of the Law, a Commander. Now, you could, legally, appoint him as Admiral of the Fleet—but that office is limited to a single term of three years, after which he is legally mandated to retire.”

“Commander,” she said in a very sweet and quiet voice, “we no longer have a People’s Council.”

“That does present a problem—for you, Madame President. However, until the Quorum revises the law and the Articles of War, then William Adama remains a Commander. He is, of course, senior to me and I will obey any lawful order that he issues. No offense meant, Bill,” Mathias said.

“None taken, Commander Lorne,” that gravelly voice answered. “You know, I didn’t think you were a barrack’s room lawyer, Commander.”

“I am not, Commander. In fact, I prefer very much to avoid politics—but I will not be threatened, nor will I be coerced into doing something that my conscience tells me is wrong. For the moment, I am more than willing to accept that you are an Admiral, but Madame President, you need to fix the law real quick and get the Quorum to confirm your appointment. Now,” and Mathias sighed. “Lee here informs me that you and I are going to have very many differences over the crew of the Pegasus—frankly I want them all tried and the guilty ones convicted for their role in looting and abandoning civilians. Not to mention the gang-rape and abuse of one of your Cylon prisoners—a prisoner that is now in your surgery. He has tried to persuade me that this will not happen, and while I believe him, I also feel the need of making the argument that we cannot allow rapists in uniform, Admiral Adama.”

“You are asking me to conduct a witch-hunt that will decimate that crew and utterly destroy their morale,” Adama said.

“I am asking you to do your job and bring criminals to justice before they shame our uniform even more, Sir.”

Adama started to reply, but Mathias held up his hand. “I don’t want an answer now, Admiral. And I will abide by your decision. And while we are on the subject of crimes and punishment, Madame President, I will not stand by and let Prisoners of War be subjected to such punishment or to summary execution. The Articles forbid it—and I will not allow it.”

You will not allow it, Commander?” asked Laura, and she threw up her hands. “Are you launching a coup?”

“No, Madame President,” Mathias said—and the tone of his voice made very clear he meant ‘not yet—not unless I am forced to’.

She drew in a deep breath and forced herself to calm down. “I believe that this . . . reunion will take some getting used to on both sides,” she said as she stood, followed by everyone present in the room. “Admiral Adama, I am growing weary—may we return to Galactica?”

“Certainly, Madame President,” he said. “If you would give me a moment, I would like a word with Commander Lorne in private.”

One-by-one, the other officers filed out until only Mathias and Bill Adama were left. “You want a drink, Admiral?” Mathias asked.

“I think we could both use one, Commander,” Bill said and he waited until the younger officer handed him a glass and they both took a sip.

“You are an idealist, aren’t you Commander?” Adama asked. “You wish that the world fit neatly into all of those little boxes in your head that you keep separate and organized—it doesn’t. It never will. Sometimes, we have to sacrifice some of our idealism in order to survive, Mathias. It is not pleasant, and on rare occasion it leaves a stain on the soul that can never be removed.”

Mathias nodded as Bill glared at him. And Adama took another sip. “You stand by your principles, and I can respect that, Commander. But I too have a limit on how far I can be pushed—do not make the mistake of crossing that line with me. I will bury you, if I have to. Do you understand me, Commander?”

“Perfectly, Admiral.”

“Good,” Adama said and he took another sip. “I am not going to question your choice to put your Cavil and Sam Anders in uniform—and gods know we cannot keep the secret of the rest of the Cylons for long, now that you are here. So, I am going to need to work on the President on that—but I cannot do that if you are pushing her into a corner. She doesn’t back down, and she doesn’t fight fairly, Mathias. Consider that a warning.”

He sat down his glass and he walked over to the hatch. Then Adama stopped and he turned back around. “That being said, sometimes, we could use a bit more idealism in our lives, Commander. Just be certain you do not cross that line.”

And he opened the hatch and joined the President as Mathias drained the last of his drink and walked out to accompany them to the hanger deck.

Last edited by MasterArminas; January 31 2013 at 05:26 AM.
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Old January 31 2013, 06:11 AM   #124
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Captain Malcolm smiled as the media clustered around him. And finally, he held up hands and they—eventually—quieted down. “Thank you all, but please, if you want to make to heroes of people, I suggest you look at the rest of the men and women and children who served with me on Virgon, and with Samuel Anders on Caprica, and with Tannin Roan on Tauron. With all of the other survivors who labored each and every single day we were down there to survive—to fight back—to find a way to come home.”

“All of us have lost a great many people we cared for, whether you were aboard this Fleet on the eve of the attack or trapped behind the lines on the Colonies or on this ship sent far away for nothing more than to learn. And yes, to answer your question, Miss Palacios, I take my responsibilities as the sole living heir to the Virgon throne seriously. I take my responsibilities to the Virgon people seriously. And I shall endeavor to do all within my power to ensure that my people—all of the people of the Twelve Colonies—remain safe and find a new home.”

“James McManus,” the next reporter said. “Rumor suggests that you are planning to declare yourself as an official Presidential candidate in the upcoming election, Prince Hamish—what is your stance on Vice President Baltar’s allegations concerning the illegal actions of the President?”

Hamish frowned. “I have no bloody idea—I just arrived on this ship hours ago, I haven’t heard the allegations, and I have made no statement or taken any action that even suggests that I am running for that office. However, I will say this in response to the rumors that I have heard.”

“As a citizen-subject of Virgon, I hold that our civil liberties are the core of our strength as a people. We must retain that principled core or we will weaken and degenerate into some barbaric mob. As the Crown Prince of Virgon, I will be fighting to preserve the freedoms and liberties that those who came before us have won. Earlier today, I met with Marshall Bagot, the Delegate of Virgon to the Quorum. He is a good man, I believe, and I will be supporting his fight to ensure that liberty remains alive among our people.”

As another reporter began to ask a question, Hamish held up his hands. “There are plenty of other people on this ship that deserve your attention today, my friends. And for myself, I haven’t eaten in twelve hours and I am famished—so if you will excuse me, I need to find a meal.”

“And there you have it, folks,” James McManus said into his microphone, the report going out live over the wireless to the ships of the Fleet. “Prince Hamish will be running for the office of President to restore the freedoms and liberties that Roslin has robbed you of. This is James McManus, reporting from Scorpia.”

“That isn’t even close to what he said, James,” Playa Palacios said as she tucked her recorder into her bag. “What’s your game?”

“You don’t really think Roslin is going to let Baltar continue to run against her after that stunt in the Quorum, do you, Playa?” James smirked. “According to my source on Galactica, he is in their brig right now. That means we need a new candidate, and if he doesn’t want to run—who cares? If he’s elected, he will take the office; they all do. Anyone but Roslin, I say.”

“She’s not that bad—she’s no Adar,” the only veteran journalist in the Fleet protested.

And James snorted. “Oh, she’s just as bad as Adar. Only she has a sweet smile while she cuts off your legs. Oh,” he said, snapping his fingers. “You hear anything today about a ship called Joyita?”

“No, why?”

“One of the pilots started to say something but then a ranking officer whispered in his ear, and he dropped it. I figure if they don’t want anyone talking—it must be good.”

She shook her head. “I’ll ask around, James.”

“Fine. If you find anything, we can share the byline,” he grinned.

“We’ll talk,” Playa answered and she shouldered her bag to find the next person to interview.
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Old January 31 2013, 06:42 AM   #125
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

“I cannot believe you volunteered us for this shit detail,” Skulls said from the ECO station in the troop bay of the Raptor. “Right now, Scorpia is the place to be—hell, any ship in the Fleet is going to be party central, Racetrack. But no, you go and volunteer us for long-range patrol. Thanks.”

“Can it,” Racetrack snapped. “I need to get my head clear, Skulls, and I can’t do that back in the Fleet.”

“Touchy,” he murmured and then he went back to examining his board.

The mission was simple—survey the systems that surrounded the nebula currently hiding the Fleet and see if there were any Cylons around. Simple and boring. Well, with the exception of if they actually discovered Cylons, in which case it might become rather terrifying. And coincidentally, scan for new sources of tylium, water, and breathable air.

Currently, the Raptor was in a dispersed binary system with two yellow suns. Both well within the range of having inhabited planets. But the first of the pair had been a bust—and now this second appeared to be the same. And then Skulls jaw dropped.

“I’ll be damned!” he cried. “Racetrack—that gas giant! One of its moons as a breathable atmosphere!”

She looked down at her equipment and she grimaced. “Barely breathable. Not pleasant, though.”

“Oxygen and argon, we can do worse and if the Fleet runs out of air, you won’t care how it smells. This is . . . oh, FRACK!”

“Skulls?”

“There is a ship in orbit.”

“Cylon?”

“Nothing like any Cylon ship I’ve seen,” he answered. “Small thing. Can’t be a warship.”

“You never know,” Racetrack said. “Get it on tape.”

“Recording. Wait,” he said. “I’m picking a transmission from the surface. Garbled.”

“See if the system can clean it up,” Racetrack ordered.

Skulls played with the broadcast for a few moments, muttering to himself. “Wrong frequency for the Colonies—or the Cylons. Damn, that’s weird—it’s repeating.”

“Like an Emergency Broadcast?”

“Yeah, I can’t make any sense of the words.”

“Tie in the translator—maybe it is some obscure dialect,” Racetrack said.

“That did it,” said Skulls after a moment. “I’m playing it.”

"Mayday, mayday, this is Colonial Marine Rifle Detachement Sulaco. Heavy casualties suffered. Immediate evacuation required on Acheron. All ships. Mayday, mayday, this is this is Colonial Marine Rifle Detachement Sulaco. Heavy casualties suffered. Immediate evacuation required on Acheron.” And the message kept on repeating.

Racetrack swallowed. “Did they just say Colonial Marines?”

“What are they doing so far out here?”

“Spin up the FTL, Skulls. I think we need to get this back to Galactica.”
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Old January 31 2013, 08:09 AM   #126
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

“Mayday? What the frack is a mayday?” asked Saul as he listened to the recording in Admiral’s quarters on Galactica. “They keep saying that word—it must be important.”

“Colonial, Marine, Acheron—those words I recognize,” said the Admiral. “But it certainly has the feel of a distress call, doesn’t it?”

Saul nodded. “But if they are Colonials, then why are they using such an obscure language? And why didn’t they preface it with krypter?”

“What if . . .,” Helo began and then his voice trailed away.

“Captain Agathon,” Saul said sharply, “if you are CAG then you speak your mind at meetings! Not as disrespectfully as Starbuck, but if you have something to add, belt it out!”

“What if these aren’t our Marines?”

“Say again?” asked Adama.

What if they belong to the Thirteenth Tribe?”

Adama exhaled and he nodded. “It is a possibility, but what if they are Cylons?”

“The ship isn’t any Cylon design we have ever seen—it isn’t any Cylon design that Athena has ever seen,” Helo argued. “But that is beside the point. Whoever it is down there, Admiral, they are asking for help.”

“Oh, boy,” said Saul. “You can’t save the universe, Helo!”

“No sir, Colonel Sir. But you can save one life—or a dozen—or a hundred. If you try. Admiral, these people could be a long-lost expedition from one of the Colony worlds, or they could be the Thirteenth Tribe, and maybe something else entirely different. But they are asking for help. If it were our people down there, and someone else heard their krypter call, wouldn’t we want them to help our folks?”

Saul snorted, but Adama waved him back down. “All right. Who do we send?”

“Can’t be Galactica, or Pegasus, or Scorpia,” said Saul. “We need those ships here and Scorpia needs to finish repairs—so do we. And I’m not about to risk a Bezrek on a wild goose chase, so that leaves Anubis or just a Raptor flight.”

Adama nodded. “Sending Anubis would get her and her crew out of the President’s line of fire for a few days—contact Major Caldwell. Inform her that I need her to report aboard immediately for a briefing. And Saul, get with Scorpia’s Marines—they have already worked with Caldwell’s people, and have Aisne assign . . . a platoon. That should be enough with what they already have.”

“And in the meantime, I’ve got more paperwork to attend to,” the Admiral said. “Let me know when Caldwell comes aboard.”
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Old January 31 2013, 04:06 PM   #127
Tribble puncher
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Location: Lexington, KY
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Well I didn't see this coming at all....

Last edited by Tribble puncher; January 31 2013 at 06:42 PM.
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Old January 31 2013, 07:16 PM   #128
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

“And the result of this interrogation?” asked Laura.

Adama shook his head negatively. “Baltar insists that both the sidearm and the nuclear weapon were in his lab—he claims that he forgot the pistol was in his possession and he put inside a filing compartment and left it after Kobol, Madame President. Either he has an exceptionally strong will, or he actually believes that someone stole the device from his lab.”

“But the coincidences . . .,” started the President.

“Cannot be proven to be active lies by Baltar,” said the Admiral. “It strains the imagination that they are coincidences, but even under chemical interrogation he has stuck to his story,” the Admiral shook his head. “Although, I do believe the good scientist really has need of seeking professional help. One or two times, it was if he was answering questions someone else was posing—not us. And the new Court that the Quorum put into place will not allow us to continue to hold him, not on the full array of charges we wanted.”

He frowned. Newly installed High Justice Romo Lampkin—one of the few professional attorneys-at-law remaining in the Fleet had, on behalf of the Quorum, issued an order demanding that formal charges be filed or the Vice-President released.

“Without corroborating evidence,” Adama sighed, “there are only two things I can charge him with. The first is failing to inform me immediately that he lost a nuclear weapon. And that is only if we consider him part of the Fleet—as far as civilian law goes, technically his only crime in that regards, as the Justice told me earlier today, is improper storage and disposal of hazardous materials. The second is possession of handgun without a proper permit.”

Laura threw up her hands and cursed. “We know that he had to play a role in this—and we cannot do a thing to him?”

“His political career is over, Laura,” Adama said and he had a crooked smile on his lips. “Someone released to the Fleet that a nuclear weapon for which he was given responsibility found its way into the hand of terrorists—he will not be President.”

“And legally he will get a slap on the wrist!”

“And so will the majority of the Pegasus crew,” said Adama. “Lampkin and I had a little chat about the matter—and he has pledged, publically pledged—that he will investigate the accusations against the Pegasus crew. Privately, he told me this entire thing is a bloody mess. Before the attack, if something like this would have happened, every man and woman on that ship would have been cashiered or incarcerated—or shot. He knows we cannot do that—we cannot afford the luxury of doing that—and while is conducting a judicial review of the situation, most of the crew will receive nothing more a note in their file. He did tell me that if he feels that the charges of rape can be proven, the individual in question will stand trial. And Major Shaw will probably be standing trial as well for her role on Scylla; the recordings were rather damning in that regard.”

“I noted that you assigned him a security detail,” Laura said quietly.

“Yes. The Gemenesse are furious that he invalidated your order over abortion. He’s already been hung in effigy on several of their ships—and I don’t want them moving from an effigy to the real thing.”

“Your Commander Lorne will be happy,” Laura said bitterly.

Adama said nothing, until Laura got herself back under control.

“At least we are safe from the Cylons at the moment,” she said.

Adama shook his head. “That is a pipe-dream, Madame President. Once the Guardians discover the properties of this nebula, they will search meticulously—I know them. It is only a matter of time before they find us, which means as soon as our repairs are completed, the Fleet needs to move—and move fast.” He paused. “We have the coordinates where Caprica suggested for a rendezvous—and they still have our POWs, Laura.”

She glared at Adama, but he sat there unfazed until she looked away.

“We need to get those people back,” the Admiral said softly, “and if they are serious about combining forces against the Guardians, we need to consider their offer.”

“But this ship you found—the one you sent Anubis to investigate,” Laura began.

“Could be anything, Madame President. We won’t know until Caldwell returns. And there is another matter we must address—soon.”

Laura frowned and she nodded. “Joyita. I’ve heard that certain reporters are asking questions.”

“Right now, Scorpia’s people are keeping their mouths shut, but that won’t last. We need to get ahead of this, Laura. And we owe it to Tory and Saul and Galen and Ellen that the news is broken to them gently before they get ambushed with this.”

She fumed, but she nodded. “And that ass Lampkin has already informed me—Commander Lorne gave him a full briefing, were you aware—that there is no charge which he and the Court will sustain against them,” she said bitterly.

“At the least, he delayed the elections for four weeks—eight weeks from today. That gives you an opportunity to repair the damage that Baltar dealt you, Laura,” Adama said with a grin.

“But now Zarek has thrown his hat into the ring—and there are rumors that Prince Hamish is considering a run as well,” and she paused, then chuckled. “Here I am, after we have united with nearly fifty-five hundred new survivors, worried about an election for an office I never dreamed I would hold.”

Adama just waited.

“What if that ship belongs to the Thirteenth Tribe, Bill?” she asked.

“In that case, Madame President, the election will be a foregone conclusion—if you are the President who managed to guide us to Earth.”

“The thing that worries me about that,” Laura said softly, “is what if they are not ready for the Guardians or the Cylons? What if we lead them there—and see the slaughter repeated?”

The Admiral frowned and he shook his head. “If—IF—that ship belongs to the Thirteenth Tribe, then at the very least they are a space-faring civilization. An interstellar civilization—there is no world in the system that Racetrack surveyed that could support a sizeable colony able to build a ship,” he sighed. “But we will not know until we make contact—we have no way of knowing at this time how long that distress beacon has been activated.”

Laura nodded. “Send a Raptor to meet with Caprica at the coordinates you gave her, Bill. And arrange a new rendezvous to continue our discussions,” and she sighed. “And release Gaius fracking Baltar from the brig.”
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Old January 31 2013, 07:17 PM   #129
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

There may not be any more updates today. An idiot one block over cut a natural gas line. So far, they aren't evacuating my sub-division, but half the counties fire-trucks are on scene and we are waiting for the gas company to get down here. And the smell is QUITE strong.
MA
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Old January 31 2013, 07:21 PM   #130
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Don't worry, I haven't completely lost my mind here.

I selected the Aliens setting because of the following:

1. Colonial Marines . . . automatic plothook.

2. They have synthetics (I prefer artificial person, myself) . . . so the 13th Colony has their own Cylons or do they?

3. The technology level is generally the same. Big difference? Sulaco covers 0.74 light-years per day, while the Colonies have their instant-jump fold-space drive. Both have anti-gravity, both rely PRIMARILY on kinetic weapons and missiles and nukes. BUT, the Earth of this setting ALSO has directed energy weapons (but no shields) which should come as a MAJOR SUPRISE to the Cylons.

That was the big three reasons. And LV-426 is just 39 light years from EARTH. Now think about this. This is the Earth of 2179, just a few centuries from now. Earth with BILLIONS of people and major colonies. All ripe for attack by the Cylons.

Can this be interesting? I hope so. Anyway, it isn't nearly as much of a curb-stomp Cross-over as a lot of people like on this site. I mean mixing Star Trek and BSG, or Star Wars and BSG, or 40K and BSG, the power levels are just so dramatically different.

Here, not so much. And that gives me (and you the reader) a chance to focus on the story and not on the huge gaping holes in plot because of the technological disparity.

Now, I am not using the far-left field A vs. P stuff, or integratng the Predators, or having the Aliens change their own DNA with each host (silly idea) and I think you might like where this goes.

Anyway, that is my thoughts. I hope that you guys continue to read and offer me your opinions.

MA
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Old January 31 2013, 09:44 PM   #131
Tribble puncher
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Location: Lexington, KY
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

I am enjoying this, I usually Groan at crossovers, but your attention to detail and how this story has manifested itself has me hooked. I got a little chill when the transmission played back...it literally was one of the last things I would of expected. I would have never thought to cross these two properties over, but for the reasons you have listed, it is definitely doable. I look foward to reading the remainder of this, and am glad to know that this story got a lot longer and a lot more complicated.

B.T.W. Hope the Gas leak gets sorted out.
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Old January 31 2013, 11:10 PM   #132
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Anubis emerged from FTL just outside of the moon’s orbit around the gas giant. Major Sam Caldwell nodded as the DRADIS display came back on-line and stabilized—just that one strange looking ship. At three hundred and eighty-five meters in length, it was even smaller than Sam’ very ancient Battlestar. But well armed for its size, she thought as the systems high-lighted two twin KEW turrets on the dorsal and ventral surfaces, eight missile tubes along the flanks of the spiky nose, another eighty tubes on the ventral surface—for orbital bombardment, perhaps? No point defense that she could see, but the strange ship carried two very large (even larger than the bow-guns of a Mercury-class Battlestar) structures set outside her hull to the port and starboard. She wasn’t certain of what they were—there were no muzzles, no accelerator coils, no recoil compensators, no magazine feeds—but they just looked like some sort of weapon.

No flight deck, but the images showed five large bay doors on the lower surface—perhaps for their versions of the Raptor.

And she noted why the Raptor had not picked her up earlier. Just like her own Anubis, this Sulaco was apparently designed deliberately to generate a minimal signature on DRADIS. It had not responded to her hails, but it was definitely powered up, retaining its heat. She nodded to her helmsman who held the little Battlestar at a safe distance.

“Ma’am,” said Conner Horn, the Sagittaron who manned her combined tactical/sensor station. “That same message is repeating from the surface—and I am detecting another transmission directed at the ship in orbit.”

“Hail them, Mister Horn,” she ordered.

************************************************** **

Bishop ignored the raging winds as the gas giant slowly shrank towards the distant horizon and his fingers flew across the keyboard as the dish adjusted itself to align with Sulaco so that he could remote pilot the remaining Cheyenne in her bay.

And the remote terminal suddenly crackled with sound. Words emerged, laden with static from the atmosphere, but words. And Bishop raised an eyebrow. They had spoken in a dialect of Greek.

“Battlestar Anubis to Colonial Marines, we have received your transmission, respond please.”

He activated the comm unit and adjusted the microphone pickup and answered in Greek. “Bishop, responding, Anubis.”

“Bishop, Anubis, do you require assistance?” the voice on the far end of the link asked.

“Eight survivors Sulaco Marine Rifle Detachement require immediate dust-off,” he answered.

There was a pause. “Evacuation?” she asked.

“Evacuation. We need immediate evacuation.”

“I have three Raptors en route to the surface, Bishop. We are detecting a beacon near your location.”

“That is the landing pad, Anubis—we will meet you there,” he paused. “Exercise extreme caution—the area is infested with large numbers of a highly dangerous xenomorph species.”

************************************************** **

Sam looked at her crewmen and then she shook her head. She understood the components of the word—strange shape—but the context?

“Repeat the last, hostile lifeforms?”

“Animal lifeforms, not terrestrial,” the wireless spoke.

She nodded and Horn began passing instructions to the Marines and crew aboard the three Raptors.

“ETA to Raptor landing is ten minutes,” she broadcast.

************************************************** **

“Understood. We will meet you at the port,” Bishop said and the transmission ceased. He put down the terminal and changed frequencies on the comm-unit.

“Bishop to Corporal Hicks, please respond.”

“Go, Bishop,” the voice of the senior surviving Marine said.

“A rescue party is en route to the surface, Corporal Hicks—ETA to landing at the port ten minutes and counting.”

“What the . . .,” Hicks started, and then he stopped. “We can sort this out later, I need to get everyone moving. Meet us at the port!” And the transmission ceased.

“I will meet you at the port,” Bishop said to no one in particular. And then he began to cautiously make his way through the rough terrain down the slope of the hill towards the landing pads.
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Old January 31 2013, 11:11 PM   #133
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Tribble puncher wrote: View Post
I am enjoying this, I usually Groan at crossovers, but your attention to detail and how this story has manifested itself has me hooked. I got a little chill when the transmission played back...it literally was one of the last things I would of expected. I would have never thought to cross these two properties over, but for the reasons you have listed, it is definitely doable. I look foward to reading the remainder of this, and am glad to know that this story got a lot longer and a lot more complicated.

B.T.W. Hope the Gas leak gets sorted out.
It did, thank you. They shut the gas down and got it sealed and everything is now just fine.

As to the story . . . I hope I can pull it off.

MA
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Old February 1 2013, 01:53 AM   #134
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Hudson and Vasquez turned off their welding torches as their cutting flames met. And Hudson grinned widely. “Sealed up tighter than a drum! All we need now is a six-pack, a pizza, and a deck of cards!”

Hicks came running around the corridor. And he groaned. “Rescue team on the way down,” he said scowling at the door. “ETA is about nine minutes.”

Hudson threw up his hands and he started to curse, he stopped and started to say something to Hicks, but then he bit his tongue and turned around, relighting the torch. “Nine minutes—we can’t cut through all of this in nine minutes.”

“Maybe we don’t have to,” said Vasquez. “Get the rest and meet me in Operations,” she said as she took off running.

“What is she thinking?” asked Hudson, and Hicks shoved him.

“Does it matter? Grab everyone and get to Operations! NOW, Marine!”

************************************************** **

Gorman looked up from the monitors as Hicks and Hudson rushed in and began to grab the weapons piled on the table. “Where’s Burke, Ripley, and the girl?” he asked.

The Lieutenant, who had woken up only a short time ago stood and he grabbed a pistol and chambered a round. “Ripley and the girl are in Medical—Burke had to go to the can. Have they got in?”

“Negative, Lieutenant,” said Hicks. “Bishop called in—a rescue party will hit the landing pad in . . . eight minutes, thirty seconds.”

Gorman’s face melted in a look of relief and he holstered the pistol and picked up some of the excess weapons and gear. “Vasquez?”

“Meeting her in Operations—Hudson, get this gear there, now. Lieutenant, are you with me?”

“Operations? There is no exit to the outside in Operations!” Gorman said as he slung a flame unit and a satchel of grenades.

“She thinks there is, Sir,” Hicks slammed a magazine home and chambered a round and he headed out of the small room towards Medical. “Get going, Hudson—we’ll meet you there!” Gorman shouted, actually getting the name right this time.

Hudson opened his mouth and then he shook his head. “That’s right, just leave me to haul all of this SHIT!” And then he slid the gear into a backpack, picked up the other flame unit and his pulse rifle, along with the medical kit and the comm and flares and he stumbled with his arms full and staggered down the corridor towards Operations.

************************************************** **

Carter J. Burke looked through the clear doors of medical at the sleeping Ripley and Newt. And then, with shaking hands, he looked over at the two stasis tubes holding live face-huggers. “I’m sorry,” he said—he whispered—to the two sleeping forms on the other side of the glass. “But this is more important than a washed-out pilot and an orphan.”

He turned and took three steps and he laid one hand on the stasis tube, and for a moment, he paused. But then, he gritted his teeth as the alien inside began to writhe in an attempt to get to him.

Burke put his second hand on the tube and then he spun around as he heard the clatter of boot steps. Gorman and Hicks charged in and the Marine officer stopped and looked at Burke. “I thought you were in the can?”

“I-I was,” he stammered. “Then I came down to check on them. What’s wrong?” he asked as Hicks barged into Medical and roused the woman and child inside.

“Rescue team is landing—get to Operations. We are leaving this nightmare,” Gorman said.

Burke swallowed. “We cannot leave them, Lieutenant,” he said, gesturing towards the stasis tubes. “Their value to the Company is inestimable—we have to take them with us.”

Gorman stared at the junior executive from Weyland-Yutani and he shook his head. “Out the question, Mister Burke—now MOVE.”

But Carter J. Burke stepped forward and put his hand on Gorman’s chest. “Your superiors are well-paid to do as the Company asks, Gorman. Now I am ordering you to take those tubes with us.”

The thunder of a pulse rifle exploded and Burke ducked down on the floor, his arm covering his head, as first one and then the second of the tubes—and the alien specimen inside them—exploded.

“Like hell we are,” said Ripley as she pointed the smoking pulse rifle at Burke’s stomach.

“Do you have any idea how much those specimens were worth?” Burke exclaimed.

“The Company can bill me; I’m already running a tab,” she said.

The exec balled one fist, but then he heard the click of a hammer cocking into place and felt cold metal pressing against the back of his head. “Don’t even think about it, Burke,” the Marine said in a very cold voice. “NOW MOVE!”

************************************************** **

Hicks entered Operations carrying Newt in one arm and his pulse rifle in the other—Hudson was shaking his head and backed up against the far wall, “No man, hell no, she’s crazy, she’s lost it.”

Vasquez was laying out overlapping lines of plastic explosive across the expansive windows—she finished and embedded a detonator and then raised the interior shields.

“This is your plan? It’s thirty feet to the ground, Vasquez!” Hicks exclaimed and she threw him a pack.

“I recovered twenty meters of climbing line from the ruins of the APC, Corp,” she said as she wired the detonators to the clacker and she smiled, “FIRE IN THE HOLE!” She yelled and then pulled the trigger twice.

The BOOM of the explosion rocked Operations and she hit the controls—the interior shield slid back down into the floor—and the armored windows were GONE. Only fragments remained.

Hicks looked around the room and he tied off one end of the line to a support beam, and he nodded. “GO.”

Vasquez vaulted up to the rim, the wind howling like mad, and tossed the coil over the side. She grinned and then she jumped and slid thirty feet to the ground below.

“Hudson,” said Gorman, but the short-timer didn’t move. “HUDSON!”

“Man, oh man, oh man,” he whined as he slung his rifle and the heavy pack and slid down—but unlike Vasquez, he wound up landing on his ass.

“Ripley,” Hick instructed.

“Newt,” she began, and Hicks nodded.

“I’ve got her, GO!”

And she slung the rifle over her head and one shoulder and then zipped down to join the other two.

Gorman looked up and he tied the final knot in a sling and he stepped up to Newt. “Put your legs here and here, and one arm here,” he ordered, and the girl did, and then he lifted her up and put the final loop over Hicks head and shoulder. “I’ve got the rear, Corporal Hicks,” he said as he helped the Marine up.

Hicks nodded and he looked down at the girl. “Close your eyes—it’s just like an amusement park ride, honey,” he said—and when she did, he jumped away from the edge and slid down the nylon line.

“Your turn, Burke,” Gorman said as he turned around, and then he cursed. Burke was gone. “BURKE!” he yelled. And he swore. He leaned over the edge. “GO ON! I’LL GET BURKE AND JOIN YOU!”

Hicks waved and then he and Ripley, and Vasquez and Hudson began to move towards the distant landing pad—keeping a careful eye on the surrounding terrain in the fading light of the gas giant overhead.

He turned, and Burke staggered back in hold one tube with a dead alien inside. “It’s dead—but it is worth millions,” he said.

Gorman sighed. And he shot the tube, splashing the goo and the dead alien on Burke’s suit. “Down the line, NOW,” he snarled.

“You’re making a big mistake,” Burke growled as he grabbed the line and stood in the window. “When we get back, I’ll have you bro-KEEEENNNNNNNN!” Burke screamed as Gorman pushed him off the edge and he slid down the line to the ground, where he managed to land on his face.

“Damn if that didn’t feel good,” he said as he hopped up and joined the idiot below.

Last edited by MasterArminas; February 1 2013 at 02:17 AM.
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Old February 1 2013, 05:52 AM   #135
MasterArminas
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Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

“Prince, Anubis Actual,” the wireless spoke into the pilot’s helmet. “I don’t like this talk of hostile lifeforms—the fourth Raptor is on the way down with full external loads.”

“Copy, Anubis Actual,” Hamish answered. Since the small Battlestar normally carried only two Raptors, the Admiral had asked for volunteers for two more—and aggravated by the actions of the media, Hamish had volunteered. So had Racetrack, who was flying the second of three Raptors loaded with Marines—but not fully loaded. They still had room for eight survivors among them.

“Coming up on the beacon, Prince,” Jester called out from the ECO station. “All Marines stand ready for deployment—arming cannon pod,” he continued and Prince saw the weapons station console come to life. Each of his Raptors carried just the one pod for this flight, but weight considerations with a full troop bay meant his other hardpoints were empty.

“It sure isn’t a vacation world, Prince,” Jester said. “High winds, barely breathable air, cold, lack of surface water . . . penal world maybe, but who in their right mind would colonize this place?”

“Certainly Acheron is a nasty bugger of a planet, Jester, but it does has a certain charm to it—and if those sensor readings are accurate, looks as if there is a sizeable amount of tylium ore in the crust.”

“Didn’t say it wasn’t a valuable world, Prince, but damn if I would want to live here,” he paused, “coming up on the lower edge of the cloud cover . . . now,” he said as the Raptor finally descended into moderately clear air.

“Hello,” Prince whispered as he saw the rough colony laid out below him. And his DRADIS showed the location of the automatic landing beacon ahead. And something else—there was a massive structure in the distance, easily twice the size of the Great Pyramid on Virgon. “Would you look at that,” he whispered. “Whoever these people are, they can build, Jester.”

“Recording,” the ECO reported.

“Excellent,” Prince answered and then he blinked. “What the . . .,” he whispered and he triggered his flood lights as he went to hover mode.

The sudden bright light illuminated the ground below—and a sea of writhing creatures bared their fangs at the Raptor high above them.

“FRACK!” cried the Marine commander—Lieutenant Tamara Mayne. “There are hundreds of those things down there!”

“And they are moving toward the colony structures,” Jester said tightly. “I think we need to get down and grab our passengers and get the frack out of here, Prince.”

“I do believe you might be correct, old boy,” Hamish said quietly.

“Marines, I want a perimeter around the landing pad! Unload the heavy weapons,” snapped Tamara. “If it ain’t human, kill it!”

“Looks like a welcoming committee,” Prince said as he approached the pad and set down. A single human male was standing there—looking very nervous. The hatch was open even before the skids touched the tarmac and the Marines flooded out with weapons at the ready.

Tamara walked up to the waiting man, “Lieutenant Tamara Mayne, Colonial Marine Corps—where are the rest?”

Bishop nodded—her Greek was atrocious, but he managed to translate the gist very quickly. “They are coming now—the xenomorphs are very dangerous, Lieutenant. Their outer carapace resists small arms fire and their blood is highly acidic in nature—what Colony are you from?”

“Libran,” she snapped. “This just gets better and better, Marines—we need to take them down at range.”

“I am not familiar with that Colony—or with your dropship,” Bishop said in a confused voice. “Is this all that you brought?”

“Raptors can hold eight troops plus the crew—I brought myself and fifteen Marines; you did want a place to sit on the ride to orbit, right?” She considered the man—he was unarmed. She unbuckled her pistol, and offered it to him.

He shook his head. “I am not a Marine, Lieutenant Mayne. I am a . . .,” he began.

“Ma’am, folks coming in!” the platoon sergeant barked.

Tamara and Bishop trotted up to the perimeter as four adults—one carrying a child—came hurrying in. Three wore uniforms and armor, but all four were carrying weapons.

Bishop spoke. “They neither speak nor understand your language, but I can translate.”

“Tell them to get the kid aboard a Raptor,” she said, and then she cursed. “Marines! North-east!” she shouted as she raised her heavy rifle and began firing at the on-coming wave of alien creatures.

Her guests needed no translation of that as they turned and three of them began adding their fire—the fourth of the strange looking Marines held a weapon that literally belched a stream of burning gel into the creatures.

Tamara blinked at that, but she didn’t have time as the creatures just kept coming and coming—she was switching magazines and watching in shock the carapaces of the creatures shrugged off some of the rounds. But not all. And she smelled the stench of their acid blood and saw it melting away the edge of the tarmac with incredible speed.

“DANGER CLOSE!” shouted Prince over the wireless and Tamara and the Marines pulled back—a Raptor in the sky swooped down and fired a salvo of rockets into the creatures, momentarily breaking up the wave.

“GET ABOARD!” she yelled pulling on the arm of one of the stranded humans—the Marine turned around and for a second, Tamara thought he was going to shoot her, but he nodded as she pointed to the Raptors and yelled to his people.

“There are two more!” Bishop said, as he pointed at Gorman and Burke—Burke running for his life while Gorman backed up, firing his pistol in the aliens chasing him and throwing grenades.

“SUPPRESSIVE FIRE, NOW, GODS DAMN IT!” Tamara yelled.

The Fleet Marines laid down a withering barrage, and the strangers added their own grenades to the mix—Burke screamed and he went down, holding his leg, but Gorman lifted him with one hand and continued to stagger towards the pad. The Marine she had grabbed ran forward—with one of his companions, and then a second who cursed. Tamara couldn’t understand the words, but she could tell he was cursing.

And behind her she heard a scream as one, then a second, of her Marines was torn apart by the claws and teeth of these creatures. She spun and fired a burst into three fighting over the first Marine—the second was being carried away, and she offered a quick prayer as she draw a bead on his body and put a bullet in the man’s chest. She’d want her men to do the same for her, if it came to it, after all.

The strangers picked up the two injured men and retreated firing behind them as they came.

“Make it fast, Leftenant Mayne,” Prince broadcast, “these things are encircling the pad. Racetrack and Burner are ready to lift—just you and our guests left.”

The fourth Raptor swooped in again—and if the rocket pods were empty, the two cannons pods were not. High explosive tracer shells ripped through the attackers on either side of the retreating Marines and then they were there and Jester was helping them up and into the hatch.

“GO!” screamed Tamara as she grabbed the edge in one hand sat on the deck, still firing at the creatures charging through her bullets.

The Raptor rose up, even as Racetrack and Burner hovered thirty meters up—their cannons adding fury and flame to the sea of creatures below. And then the Raptor shook—hard—and Tamara raised her rifle at the creature that had leaped ten meters from the ground to the wing and snarled at her.

CLICK. The firing pin fell on an empty chamber and time seemed to stand still as a slime-coated pair of inner jaws snapped out towards her face—to meet a shotgun blast that caused her ears to ring.

She screamed as the acid blood of the creatures coated her legs and then her guests hauled her inside and Jester sealed the hatch as Prince punched it for orbit.

Jester opened a survival pack and dug deep, extracting a brown package that he shook and tore open and he said, “This is going to hurt like all the hells,” and then he poured a red powder atop of the acid burning holes through her suit, clothing, flesh, and blood.

Tamara screamed in agony—and then she passed out. But the substance stopped the bubbling acid cold. The evacuees laid her on the deck and one of them held his fingers to her throat; he felt a pulse and he nodded. He babbled something in a language that Jester didn’t understand and held out one hand, but at the moment, the language didn’t matter, so Jester just smiled and he clasped the man’s hand and shook it.

Last edited by MasterArminas; February 1 2013 at 06:25 AM.
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