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Writing an novel, or series, or something


#181

Mora’han gave Salsha a slight glance, “That does sound like an interesting test Commodore, but surely one more male officer wouldn’t hurt the percentages too much. I can see what prompted this experiment, but you do not have to worry about Jahqu being a distraction.” She spoke to both Salsha and Rea, “He is a Henthshraq and we work differently. Even more so in his case, he is still a predon, and thus does not provide any threat at all in that nature.” She turned to Salsha and whispered, “Though I think you would like him, he is my blood-nephew after all.”

Not hearing the whisper, Rea answered back, “Very well then. I will look at the records and make my decision then.” She made a mental note to herself to find out what ‘predon’ means. Mora’han raised her head and flared her gills to Rea before doing the non verbal thank you gesture. Afterwards, she gave Salsha another soft massage on the shoulder and did the correct handshake gesture with Greget before leaving them. Salsha seemed to gain new composure and Greget turned to Rea.

Greget’s translator spoke out, “Commodore Lu, I overheard your statement about males. Is it going to be a problem that I will begin my male cycle in seven of your months?” Rea turned to Greget with a slow look, but she ‘heard’ a whisper from Salsha that it wasn’t a joke. Rea, though once again resisting a tension headache, answered no.

(Please let me know if I am going to fast for people)


#182

President Georf was impressed by the show. While one of his joint chiefs made some offhand commits about the look of the Henthshraq N.A.U.s, all of his commanders agreed that their technology and skill still outmatched their own. Former President Draven then made a surprising statement, “Well, haven’t they been doing this since we were building the first pyramids? I am starting to wonder why they are paying so much attention to us now. Having their liaison officers and even some of the older equipment in our fleet is going to give us a major opportunity to learn from them. Is that what they want, us to catch up even faster?”

Only Georf seemed to follow Draven’s speech. The Henthshraq paid little attention to human race until Draven first proposed the Exhibition Fleet. His plan had a slightly different agenda, but Mora’han suddenly became more active than she had ever been before. Several events concerning the Exhibition Fleet increased the attention that humans were getting everywhere, including from the Henthshraq at the fold point system and bases. One intelligence report indicated that Mora’han purchased over a thousand Terran movies and several shows over the last couple years. The Terran Federation indeed did begin to take some of the spot light in the universe.

Now he was waiting for sixteen liaison officers to arrive for a proclamation ceremony. The banquet hall was filled with officers of the Exhibition Fleet, ambassadors, and the eight other liaison officers from the other species. He saw Commodore Lu talking the Salsha and Greget. Oddly, he thought he saw Maro’han with them a moment ago. With Commodore Rabine there was a Harkonsaur officer and a Coucalo officer. The Coucalo looked to Georf as what would have happened if cats had become more humanoid. In some ways, they appeared to be a cross of a humanoid lion and leopard, but they had their own unique characteristics, such as the third eye. He thought to himself that Salsha and Greget would be a good match for Lu and those two predatory species a good match for Rabine.


#183

The four other liaison officers were scattered throughout the room. He saw the Equatonos talking with some of the destroyer commanders. The Equatonos could be described as more reptilian centaurs, though they still have hair. They had four arms as well, though two of the arms did not have hands but formed natural lances. Not far away, the Mandolian, the race that inspired the little grey men stories of Earth’s past, was trying to get into a better position to see the Henthshraq come in. Both of them were elder races, though both have greatly fallen from power. Still, their support offered a great deal more clout to the Terran fleet.

The Beckton was by the buffet, trying various fruits. Their appearance could be described as a cross between a raptor and giant bird, yet they were more humanoid than that. One human stood out amongst the guest. Her elective cyber eye implant, visible joint enhancements, and obvious other genetic and cyber adjustments clearly showed she came from the Terran Allied Colonies. In order to survive on the not so completely terraformed worlds, the people of TAC allowed far more augmentations to be done electively than the Terran Federation. Still, if the two groups of Terrans ever wished to rejoin as one, having her as a liaison would be a good step in the right direction. Also, she would help provide a more united Terran front to the other galactic political bodies.

A familiar feeling came over him, and he turned to one side to see Mora’han approaching him. She gave her polite, yet dangerous looking, smile and said, “I must be coming more familiar with you. You seemed to predict that I was coming.”

“Indeed, Ambassador. Though I see it as a privilege, for very few humans get to know a person quite like you so well.” Georf gave her a smile and slight bow.

She cocked her head slightly to the side before straightening it. She stepped closer and slightly whispered, “My, you even know that flattery does work on me. Do you need to tell me something?” In fact, Georf did need to tell her about a change to the Exhibition fleet, but before he could say anything, she raised her hand to stop him. “Sorry, Mr. President. I can smell the liaisons right outside the door. They are about to enter.”

A small bowl was put on a pedestal right before him. It was an ornate ceramic bowl with pictures of creatures and figures that Georf couldn’t place. A person announced the liaison officers were entering as the doors opened. Everyone stopped to watch this ceremony that the Henthshraq were performing. Georf was simply amazed by what he saw. Sixteen Henthshraq were wearing outfits that reminded him of Carnival, yet they were clearly more warrior oriented. Four of them had several long feathers stretching from their crest helmets and elbows. He heard Mora’han whisper, “The ones in feathers and carry spears are the N.A.U. pilots. The ones in mail with the extra fins and carrying axes are the marines. The ones with bird figurines are the linguistics officers. Those with the orbiting planets are science officers, and those with actual moving robotic parts are the engineers.”


#184

Mora’han once told him before that Henthshraq tend not to wear much clothing. When they do put on outfits such as these, it was meant to impress upon the wearer how important and significant the situation was. In some ways, Georf felt a little bit of pity for the officers. Suddenly, they spoke out loud in a language that the translator could not understand. The pitches of the language ranged from being too high and too low to hear, and it had the Henthshraq common slightly hissing sound to it. Mora’han provided the translation, “They say they proclaim an alliance to the Terran Federation President in order to serve the vision he has created. They will obey his orders and those of his under his command for the entirety of the mission as long as it does involve betraying the High Clan’s People. They will now prove they are ready to serve.” One by one, each of the officers approached the President, flared their gills, raised the right arm exposing the stinger there, and clipped the tip off it. The tips were collected into the bowl.

Mora’han had explained the ceremony to him earlier. Still, it was a bit unnerving to see several Henthshraq warriors wielding blade weapons and cutting off a piece of themselves. However, he was told that the tips come off naturally during a sting and will grow back. With the cutting off the tip of the stinger, he supposedly would be able to tell how strong of warriors they are and their readiness by inspecting the bowl after they had finished. One thing he found curious during the process was how diverse the coloration of the Henthshraq was. He assumed most Henthshraq looked more like Mora’han, but some had very different coloring. Two seemed to be nearly identical, and their black, grey, and green patterns greatly contrasted to Mora’han’s blue and white. It was something she never mentioned, and probably never thought to mention. Only one matched Mora’han’s coloring, and he did so very closely. “Is he a relative?” Georf thought.

After all sixteen were finished, he took the bowl and looked inside. The tips looked very sharp, and there did appear to be a nice pool on toxins at the bottom. He said as was instructed, “I see you are ready. I take these parts of you, and thus accept you as my own to command.” Then he added in his own part, “I am honored to have you under my command, and I hope that you will be honored to serve under it.” All acknowledged him with a slight head nod, which was tricky due to the elaborate helmets they wore. Georf then addressed the whole audience, “Three elder races, six new age races, and the Terran Federation have joined together now. Our goal is to promote understanding and cultural exchange throughout the galaxies and to promote peace and safety. Let us begin now by greeting all of our liaisons joining us today and welcome them into the fleet.”

Almost immediately several of the Henthshraq liaisons quickly apologized to those greeting them and left. Mora’han smiled and whispered to Georf, “Don’t worry, they will be back. They just really needed to get out of those formal wears.” Two of the liaisons did not immediately go though. One who looked near Mora’han’s age with grey and blue coloring approached them. He was followed by the younger looking one with the same coloring as Mora’han.


#185

Mora’han quickly stepped forward to greet them. Curious, Georf stayed close by. Mora’han grabbed the elder one by the shoulders and gave him a soft head butt. She then turned to the younger, grabbed his shoulders, but at the last second nibbled his shoulder instead of giving him a head butt. Though he looked to be in his early twenties, his expression of widen eyes and a quick fin flare must have been the equivalent reaction to a human teenager embarrassed by its parents. He spoke with great control however, “Blood-aunt, that is not really appropriate to do in front of the TF President.”

It took a quick second for Georf to realize that the young Henthshraq had said that sentence in New Latin and without the slightest trace of an accent. If he was not able to see who spoke it, he would have guessed it was a human. The other Henthshraq turned to him and said in an equally impressive New Latin voice, “Greetings Mr. President. I am High Marshal Volsolas’Dasperhado of the clan Ice Bear. I will be leading the liaisons of the High Clan for your exhibition. Also, I will be piloting one of our N.A.U.’s. This is Jahqu’kortanhow, another one of our N.A.U. pilots and a leading diplomat.”

Jahqu turned to the President and held out his hand. Georf took it and could feel the potential strength of this young one through the hand shake. Jahqu then said, “It is an honor to meet you personally, Mr. President. I am very glad to hear that Mora’han and you have accomplished so much together.” Georf smiled and was about to give a nice political response when he realized something.

“Wait, you two are N.A.U. pilots? Were you the ones who just did the show earlier?” Both made the Shraq hand gesture for yes. Mora’han smiled.

“These two were the ones who charged each other in the finally. The unusually twin like pair earlier showed their skill as deadly whirlwinds of death. Even though Jahqu is the youngest of the liaison officers here, he has been flying an N.A.U. for over forty of your years. In fact, just for your understanding, he is 117 of your years in age.” Mora’han finished saying that by gently patting Jahqu’s shoulder.

Georf knew that the average life span of a Henthshraq was close to 480 earth years, or roughly 213 Henth years. The universe was indeed surprising, for here was a youth as old as the average life expectancy of a human. Mora’han turned to him again and said, “Oh, Mr. President, you were going to say something about the fleet earlier. Whatever it is, I bet the High Marshal would be glad to hear of it as well.”

Georf quickly recalled the matter and said to them, “Due to various reasons, not all the new battle cruisers will be completed in time for the Exhibition Fleet. In fact, six are still under construction. So, it has been decided to add six older treaty bound battle cruisers to the fleet. This way, the people and ports we visit will quickly see how much advancement we have made in such a short period of time.”

Volsolas answered, “Ah, yes, I have heard about your new warship designs. The new treaty bound battle cruisers of yours caused quite a controversy in our government. I think this might actually help the fleet some more ways than just showing how fast you are progressing. The less threatening the fleet is, the more comfortable the other races will be to have it arrive in their space.” He turned to face both Mora’han and Georf. “If you would excuse us, both Jahqu and I really want to get out of this attire. Neither of us could resist saying hello first.”


#186

The President nodded to them as both turned and walked towards the door way. He was about to say something to Mora’han before visiting the other guests when a loud roar echoed throughout the room. He turned immediately and saw the Harkonsaur liaison jumping into the air and aiming to land on Jahqu. Faster than he saw anyone react, Jahqu pivoted himself and shot his arms into the air, catching both legs of the Harkonsaur. Suddenly, with a quick toss, the Harkonsaur was back on the ground on two legs, but a few feet from Jahqu. Jahqu’s spear appeared from no where and was at straight level with the Harkonsaur’s head.

No moved or breathed. The security had their weapons pulled but was unsure whom to aim at. The Harkonsaur suddenly smiled, showing rows of sharp teeth. He reared his head back, and started to make very loud barking sounds. Several people relaxed, and Mora’han whispered to him as Jahqu began to laugh, “The sound the Harkonsaur is making is laughter. Jahqu spent four years with them, and I think this one knows him. My nephew made quite an impression on them.” Everyone went back to the party as Jahqu walked over and lightly head butted the Harkonsaur. They spoke in its language, and Georf could see both were pleased to see each other.

“I hope my people make an impression too, but I don’t think they can do what your nephew just did.”

“Believe it or not, Mr. President, he had practice. There are several non sentient predatory species shaped like the Harkonsaurs on Henth.” Georf turned to Maro’han after what she said. From what he could see, she was telling the truth. The Exhibition Fleet had not even fully assembled and already a very alien interaction had just taken place. His people were in for an interesting journey.


#187

I actually have a bit more after this, but am very slowly going on the next part. I will start posting more on this if anyone is interested.


#188

A bit of inspiration…

[video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMZ9E6w0MOs&feature=related[/video]


#189

Posting some more for anyone who followed…

Rea watched the Henthshraq perform the ceremony, which was a bit overdone in her taste, and then joined Greget in a conversation with the TAC liaison officer. She guessed that Jahqu was the young male in the pilot outfit. She had to remind herself that he was far older than he looked, so he would be well experienced for the job at hand.
Suddenly, she heard a roar come out. She turned in time to see the young male grab the Harkonsaur liaison out of the air and toss him to the side. He brought his spear to bear faster than she thought any could and had it aimed right at the Harkonsaur. The Harkonsaur’s laughter caught her just as off guard as the initial roar. Salsha walked up to her, slightly unnerved.

“I never saw real action like that so up close.” She said. “I have fought in duels, and practiced many forms of self defense, but I think from what I am hearing them say, that was an actual attack by the Hankonsaur to test him. I guess that is, Jahqu!” Rea could hear the two talking, but they were speaking Harkonsaur. Rea now definitely knew she found the right linguistics officer. She turned to Salsha, and saw her giving an appraising look over towards Jahqu. Slightly smiling to herself, Rea started to turn back away when she saw Salsha’s face turn into a look of horror.

“What is wrong Salsha!” she asked.

She quickly looked to Rea and tried to relax. “I am sorry Commodore. I must accept alien cultures as they are.” Rea kept looking at her for an explanation. Either ‘hearing’ or just by telling by the look, Salsha continued, “Those two are discussing the Harkonsaur’s last hunt, and they are being rather, descriptive. I choose not to listen anymore. I cannot let myself be influenced by my own beliefs on something so, barbaric.” Rea lightly reached up and touched Salsha’s shoulders.

“We will be meeting many races. Some of them are predatory. I know your people are avid vegetarians, but I will need your help in talking with predatory species. You are going to grow strong for this voyage, so don’t push yourself to hard right at the start. I don’t need you to eaves drop on those two right now, but I am glad you were able to explain what the commotion was about.” Salsha nodded and joined her in going back to Greget and the TAC liaison. Rea noticed Salsha no longer looked towards Jahqu.


#190

After the formal party ended, Mora’han quickly disappeared from the large crowd. She found a quiet room nearby and waited for those who she knew would come. One of her assistants waited outside just in case any of those certain people had trouble finding her. It didn’t take long before she heard her assistant announce someone wanted to see her, but she was surprised that this one was the first to find her.

She smiled as soon as the door opened, for the feel and the scent were unmistakable, and she knew even without looking, “Hello, Di’zalna. How is my near clan-daughter by default?”

Di’zalna casually walked to her and gave her a slightly more than formal head butt. Her smile revealed that she truly was in a good mood. “Thanks to you, I am doing very well.” Her eyes widen with excitement and she started to talk rather quickly, “These humans are fascinating! Sure, they smell odd, but their buffet table was unbelievable! They are more diverse than in their culinary skills than any other alien race I know of. And this mission is going to be very interesting. This is so much better than being stuck at home right now.” She stopped quickly as if she said too much.

Mora’han gave a slight questioning look, “Are you having troubles at home? Kaysayra did mention something about suitor issues.”

Di’zalna gave her an interesting look, visibly controlled herself, and then whispered, “I am telling you this in confidence, because I trust you. I am a very proud Silver Dragon, but some of my clan elders drive me insane! They have nearly offered me up to three other clans for sorry political alliances! Out of the three names I put on the list, one is already courting, one was rejected by the elders due to a pre arrangement, and the other one rejected me. I think he was intimidated by me, but once I found that out, I am glad that stopped before it got any farther. By the gods and Maker, why do we have to put up with this? And poor Kaysayra, she is probably about to blossom at any point and become a postdon. Then she gets to experience what I am going through.”

Mora’han gave a slight laugh, but she quickly stepped closer and lightly hugged Di’zalna. Then she stepped back but still held her shoulders. “No wonder you requested to join this mission. I completely understand. I still remember when I had to chose a suitor and court him. Yes, I can remember that far back. It was hectic. I wish I had a two year break from the whole business. Truly, I do think it helps that you take your time and let some of the initial rush to leave the elders. It tends to make them think more rashly. Also, it gives time for others to catch up, if you had anyone special in mind?”

Di’zalna gave her a blank look. “Well, sort of. There are a couple of male classmates I intend to see again as soon as I get back, and they should be blossoming at any time now. I had very fond memories of them and we stayed in contact. Still, we might not be compatible. Also, Ki and Versi seem to have some potential options for me. I don’t know, it’s just I want to make the choice, not the elders or my blood-father.”


#191

A knock on the door made each of them shake their heads and give a quick sniff. Mora’han’s smiled again as Di’zalna’s face showed disappointment. Jahqu entered and turned to see them both. He gave a quick glance to Di’zalna before turning to Mora’han. “Sorry I am late in coming to talk with you, blood-aunt. The Harkonsaur liaison, well I guess you could call him Swiftkick, held me up. Though if you are busy with Di’zalna, I can wait.”

Di’zalna quickly spoke but still only faced Mora’han, “No need. I just wanted to thank you again for what you did for me. I will let you and your blood-nephew have some time alone.” She flared her gills at Mora’han before heading towards the door. She gave Jahqu a slight head nod in his direction.

After she left, Jahqu walked to Mora’han and gave a strong hug and head butt. “It has been a long time, blood-aunt. I am say to “Hi” from your two nieces and nephew. I didn’t interrupt anything, did I?”

Mora’han smiled and gave a slight nip at Jahqu’s shoulders. Though he managed to dodge, she held him close by. She answered, “Yes and no. I feel I might need to stay in contact with Di’zalna, though only in a partial advisory role. If it were a discussion she wanted to continue, she would have chased you out with her axe. It seems you two are getting along better?”

Jahqu shrugged, “We made a cease fire agreement for this mission. It wouldn’t be good if the TF personal saw how we two duel. It might give the wrong impression about our species.”

Mora’han sighed and said, “Honestly, you have known her since you were twenty years old. You are 117 now. That is nearly 100 years. And you still fight like you did back at the beginning?”

Jahqu gave her an eerily similar blank look, “If you hadn’t notice blood-aunt, she is a proud Silver Dragon and I am a proud Night Fox. I think we actually have the friendliest relationship between the two clans. I guess 100 years of knowing each other does have an effect.”

Mora’han managed to repress a groan. “Well, from your last letter, Mahria has already started to create a suitor list for you. Don’t worry, I sent her some strong candidates already.” Jahqu’s change in expression made her quickly throw in, “It’s not that serious Jahqu! My, you really are not ready to think about such things, are you.”

Jahqu lightly nipped her shoulder, “I love you, blood-aunt, but I think you might be trying to rush me a bit. I still have roughly five years before I could even begin to blossom, and that would be doing so early. I know it is the natural process for our people, and I am eager to lose the predon title, but I can’t even imagine thinking of females of our race in any different matter than I do now. And before you even ask, I have not even begun to contemplate any names to add to the list.”


#192

Mora’han smiled, but Jahqu probably sensed that she was somewhat sighing to herself. “Well, I think you are right. I am rushing ahead, and the god of time and goddess of nature are probably laughing at me and your blood-sister. Still, you are going to be such a good catch for any female, Jahqu. I want to make sure that female is a good catch for you as well. Let your old blood-aunt worry if she wants to.”

Jahqu laughed slightly when a knock on the door had both them look towards it. A quick sniff and shake told them who it was before he opened the door. “Hi Volsolas, in it is good to see you again clan-brother.” Mora’han chimed at him.

He answered, “Sorry, I came to steal your blood-nephew. All the liaisons are packing up to head to a training facility. For one month, we are going to learn directly from TF personal about their ship board operations and protocol. Though, I am sure you will be able to keep in contact. Come on, Knightshield, hug your blood-aunt and get going.”

Jahqu seemed sadden but quickly gave Mora’han another tight hug before heading out. He nonverbally signaled he will keep in contact. Before Volsolas closed the door, Mora’han asked him to stay for a few seconds. He entered the room and closed the door behind him. “What is it, dear clan-sister?”

Her entire outlook changed. The caring grandmother like aura turned into one of strong command. “I have a favor to ask of you, dear clan-brother. I want you to look out for Jahqu. I know you can’t always be there for him, and he can defend himself far better than most, but… Damn it he should have been my oath son.”

Volsolas waited to respond. It was rare to see Mora’han act in this manner, and she just brushed a subject that was still considered very touchy, even if it was nearly 100 years old. When she seemed to calm and looked at him for a response, he said, “For you, I will do whatever I can. But, I doubt there would be much I could do, for I see him becoming a better pilot than me one day. And frankly, I don’t want to lose my top spot…”

The look she gave him stopped that line of talk. He simply said again, “You have my word, I will look out for him if he truly needs it.”

She smiled. “Thank you, Volsolas. Also, though this might be impossible, try to keep him and Di’zalna from fighting too much. I arranged for them to be in the same task force, so keep tabs on them if you can.”

Volsolas was confused for a moment. Suddenly, it dawned on him on what his clan-sister was thinking. “Are you crazy Mora’han? You do know what they think of each other? Right?”

The look she gave him stopped him cold. “They think of each other as honorable adversaries and with great respect. True, there is a long history of fighting and angry remarks, but I can see there is no hatred between the two. This could end a clan feud that has lasted nearly a thousand years when it should have ended 700 years ago. Even if everyone else can’t see it, I can clearly see the possibility.” She gave him another very cold stare. “I don’t need to be a telepath to see what you are thinking, I am not going senile.”

Volsolas mentally gave up. “I have already checked to make sure they would get along for the mission. They arranged a cease fire. Still, I thought they were going to different task forces. I won’t change anything, but next time; tell me these things beforehand.”

She quickly walked over and hugged him. “Thank you, Volsolas. You have always been there for me.”

He returned the hug, “I got to get going. It would be bad for the High Marshal to be late.” He quickly left the room after saying that, leaving Mora’han with the strong emotions from the past swell up within her. He couldn’t bring himself to tell her that those two would never work, and that she was mixing personal feelings with her political goals.


#193

N.A.U.’s were not designed to fight within cities. Their size made movement cumbersome within the tight quarters and spaces between buildings, signs, and wires. Anti-grave disrupters often made flying difficult. Unfortunately for the training marine and infantry units, Jake’s N.A.U. did not seem even lightly phased by the cities obstacles as he wreaked havoc amongst their units.

Inside the cockpit of the N.A.U., Jake had several screens visually up and some just in his head. An alert captured his attention, and with frightening speed, he turned the N.A.U.’s head and fired the blanks from the head positioned rail guns. The rocket launcher team of marines that was trying to sneak up behind him met its simulated death. The ground troopers were wearing combat armor suits that gave them the appearance of being video game warriors. However, these suits were not for games. The speed increase, armor protection, atmospheric protection, and bio enhancement of senses and strength from the suits turned the ground trooper into a deadly fighting machine. They were literally crawling up the walls, running around at near cheetah speeds, jumping several meters in height, and carrying powerful weaponry. Still, their suits could not withstand a blast from a N.A.U.

In the city they should have had the advantage. The tight quarters would allow them to out maneuver the N.A.U. and bring it down with rocket and anti shield/armor weaponry. Jake was proving to be very hard to outmaneuver. Slowly, Jake walked his unit towards the park area. The city was real, but no one lived here. It was in fact one of the largest training facilities of the T.F. military, and it was used for joint training operations. As he reached the park, Jake started to vent some frustration.

“This is Red 2. I have reached the cabbage patch. There has been lots of stinging ants, but no queen yet.” He cycled through his scanners, but the main transport ship that brought the marines into the city remained hidden from him. A quick glance at the screen showing the remote probes data told him they were so far unsuccessful as well.
A voice from an instructor came over his com, “Red 2 this is Red 6. You are to make noise in cabbage patch. Try to draw out the bees for fun time.”

“Understood,” Jake replied. The simulated battle was trying to replicate an actual battle that took place during the war of TAC independence. A CIENS force and TAC force both tried to take over a neutral city on a free trade colony. Both groups actually sent N.A.U.s into the city, but only the TAC units fared well there. Jake and the rest of Red team currently played those TAC units.

Jake scanned the area again. He did manage to pick up several hostile infantry and one armored vehicle near the park area. He waited. After getting a simple flash of green on one screen, he quickly walked through the park, did not expose himself by flying over it, and moved towards their position. They saw him coming when he got close enough for it to be obvious, but it was too late. He fired his main weapon mounted to his upper right arm. Though it was mounted to the upper arm, the large rifle like weapon swung down to be held as if it were an actual rifle. Computer aided controls made targeting deadly accurate. The tremendous destructiveness of the rounds, if they were not simulated, would have obliterated the entire area where the hostile units stood.


#194

Several warnings came up on his screens, and in his total spherical vision, he saw the three enemy N.A.U.s flying towards him just over the tree tops. He raised his N.A.U.’s left arm, which held a bladed shield that hid two extra missile launchers. His shoulders missile launchers also activated, and he quickly got a lock on with all missiles and his rifle. His rifle also carried a deadly flack cannon, just like marine rifles contained smart grenade launchers. The enemy units immediately pointed their weapons at him in order to intercept his volley. But he didn’t have to fire. In very quick secession, all three were marked destroyed. Jake smiled as the three other trainees must have been screaming their heads off at what happened. A communications screen popped up to his right.

Hana’s eyes made her easy to recognize, even with the helmet. “Red 1 to Red 2. Hook, line, and sinker! Coming to join up with you, lost my hiding hole.” The three enemies were so intent on getting him they failed to scan for other units. Depending on how well Hana hid herself might have meant they wouldn’t have detected her anyways, but they opened themselves to her deadly sniping skills. Jake started to notice the differences in their skills as they trained together. He was a bit quicker to asses a situation and able to use most weapons with high efficiency. She was able to handle only some of the weapons as well as him, but she was far quicker in target locking and far better in target movement projection. Though both of them were still assigned to space born multi role N.A.U. units, she has proven to be the ‘sniper’ of the team, and he proved to be the all purpose player. Both types were actually highly valued pilots.
In a secure com link, Jake connected to Hana’s unit. “Where did you find a hiding hole for an N.A.U.?”

Hana’s face appeared on the link, “I used the computer to calculate where to jump through a roof of a building and leave its walls intact. Then I powered down several systems to lower my signature. They only way to see me was from above, so I only had to scramble sensors in one direction. Bet you didn’t expect that. After I fired though, any unit nearby would have reported my position.”

Jake did have to admit that Hana tended to be far cleverer than he. After checking the area again as her unit came up next to him, he said “I thought we were to keep city destruction to a minimum.” She gave him a look that conveyed the expression of ‘bite me’. In a more serious tone, he asked, “Do think he is upset that we are showing off again?”

Jake looked at Hana’s unit. It matched his in every detail, except she had a long sniper rifle for her right arm weapon, and powerful shock cannons mounted on the left arm. If anyone did manage to get to close to her, those cannons would quickly end the threat. She answered back, “He was mad at us for starting our N.A.U.s so fast, but I agree with you Jake. After watching them ‘perform’, I am not going to slow down my training.”


#195

After watching the Henthshraq demonstration a week ago, both agreed that they needed to accelerate their training. They didn’t wait when they plugged into their units, but instead immediately went into the training exercises. The intelligence officer was angry, though it was hard to tell how angry. But instead of trying to force them to slow down, he managed to get them accelerated training permissions. The current simulation they were partaking in belonged to the class ahead of them. Still, they were outperforming some of their peers.

“Damn straight I am mad at you for showing off. You have outscored all but the top cadets in this class.” Although they didn’t see his face, the familiar synthetic voice sound came from their secured link. Both Jake and Hana reacted in surprise. They had secretly figured out how to make such links without instructor knowledge, but they had no idea this person had joined them. “Don’t kid yourselves, I am very versed in my job. Of course I figured out you had a secure link. And don’t worry about me distracting you, the top cadets found the CIENS’s team drop ship. Congrats. You won. You gave the other team a major headache and proved too be a very good distraction. You also provided a great headache to me as now I have to explain how your units’ sensor synch time is nearly 200% better than anyone else’s. Now go let yourselves get shot up or something, please!”

The intelligence officer had become very nervous ever since the Henthshraq vessel arrived in the Sol system. Jake knew that the Terran Federation walked a thin line when they let Hana and himself join the military. The technology the Henthshraq put into them was considered highly classified. Even though the T.F. military had not actively probed their systems, the tests they were doing came close to the edge. If the Henthshraq found out what they were up too, the consequences could be disastrous. By doing so well in training, the officer thought the two would be obtaining unwanted attention.

Jake couldn’t care less. Those carnivorous monsters that put their high tech system into him will learn they could not buy his forgiveness. He would make sure that they would never hurt anyone else like they hurt him. Hana’s resolve in the matter was just as strong, if not stronger. Over the main communication channel a message was relayed that the simulated TAC team had destroyed the CIENS drop ship. Victory was theirs. Their instructor popped up on a different window, “Red 1 and Red 2, return to base. Damn good piloting in there. You are clear to fly now, anti-grave disrupters have been turned off.”


#196

Both cadets acknowledged him. Jake saw the three nearby defeated units take off. They did not bother to say anything to them. “In case you are wondering,” the voice said, “those three had several colorful words to describe you two. Don’t alienate your fellow cadets now.”

A small voice in Jake’s head said that perhaps the officer was right. But he could not help but think of something other than other cadets. “Do you think you can arrange for us to train against simulated Henthshraq units?” he said.

There was a silence as both Hana and he took off in flight. The voice did not answer back till they were halfway through the city. “You two need to let that grudge go. I knew you had one, but this is now becoming dangerous. Even on this channel, please don’t say that race’s name.” Jake’s annoyance grew stronger. No race should be that intimidated by another race. “But, if you promise to stop showing off some, I will not cancel some of the special training exercises we had set up for you. They do include a worst case scenario with one particular group.”

Jake saw that even Hana react to that statement. They had planned for them to train against simulated Henthshraq units already. The news was actually surprising for them. Maybe the TF was intimidated by the Henthshraq, but now Jake was given some hope that they were not foolish enough to remain so. Hana actually spoke first, “How much do we need to cut back then?”

“Start missing a few times for starters! At least some glancing blows! Slow down how fast you react to an enemy alert, you are close to 80% faster in reaction than normal combat pilots. You had…” Jake stopped listening to the voice. He will slow down a bit for these games if it meant that he can truly practice against the real threats.


#197

“This is Stinger1 reporting in, possible hostile detected in asteroid belt 78 kilometers from my position,” said the pilot of the out dated N.A.U… He was a middle aged man, heritage hard to tell, but he did not fare well with the passage of time. Flying in the darkness of space with him was another old N.A.U. and one torpedo fighter. A light cruiser, their mother ship, was about 300 kilometers from them in the opposite direction. The boxy designed cruiser was only about 400 meters in length, smaller than even some of the newer TF destroyers. Still, for a mercenary group, they had fairly good equipment.

The captain of the cruiser came over the com. “Roger that Stinger1. Stinger group move in to investigate. Will do a brief warp jump to your location and begin disrupting warp field generations. If these are the pirates and we nail them, Tradecross colony might pay us enough that we can all retire.” The pilot laughed to himself.

“Fat chance in hell,” he thought. He gave the signal to move and kicked his engines to max power. Their cruiser showed up next to them a moment later, and he quickly detected the warp disruption field cover the asteroid belt. Two more fighters and two more N.A.U.’s were launched as well. “Can’t run now, so what are you going to do?” The pilot waited to see what the pirate ship’s reaction would be.

It didn’t take long. The ship roared out of the asteroid belt and launched six fighters and several combat probes. The ship was close to 500 meters in length, but the weapon systems it carried were sloppily welded onto the former freighters frame and did not pack all that much power. It looked impressive though, and impressions meant a lot to pirates.

The cruiser fired its rail guns. The shots clipped the pirate’s shields at both ends of the ship. Over the intercom the captain’s voice could be heard, “Pirate vessel, surrender now. There is no point in trying to fight us. Power down your weapons, shields, and engines and prepare to be boarded. You do not have to die.”

The pilot grumbled a little. The captain sounded very threatening, but more than likely the pirates would surrender, go through the courts for a week, and then be released. The ship would have been impounded, but they tend to be quick in grabbing a new one. He suddenly thought, “Well, at least it is job security.”


#198

Surprising him, his sensors started to scream alarms. Several large vessels came out of warp not far away from the pirate vessel. Most of the ships were about 350 meters in length and were shaped like old tri-marines. Others similar in shape were closer to 600 meters in length. The torpedo fighter’s pilot’s hoarse voice came over the come, “THL ships? What the heck are they doing here? Damn, there is close to sixty of them!”

The Tradecross colony was the main trade connection point for the THL, but they rarely sent their warships to there. The pilot had never seen so many of them before. The captain of the cruiser quickly called out, “THL vessels. This is the mercenary ship Grazkit flying under the flag of the free trade colony Tradecross. We have just cornered a suspected pirate vessel and apologize if we inconvenienced you with our warp disruption field.”

The reply came suddenly. The lead ships of the THL fired there laser and rail gun cannons at the pirate vessel. Its shields withstood the first impact, but the second volley ripped the ship to shreds. Very quickly, several fighters, some of them strangely human shaped, launched from the THL vessels. Another warp disruption field appeared, but it came from them.

Stinger2 called out, “I got a very bad feeling about this.” Her voice was actually quivering.

The captain of the cruiser called out again, “THL vessels, that ship was to be taken into custody! Wait, why are you disrupting warp fields? THL vessels respond. We are you treaty allies here. Please respond!”

The pilot watched as the few remaining pirate fighters were destroyed. A cold feeling began to crawl through his body. “Stinger group, BACK OFF! I think they are coming for us!”

The lead THL ship sent out one text message. It simply read, “Too long have you not honored that treaty.”

“Ah crap, defend yourselves!” The pilot shouted. The THL fighters fired a pair of missiles at him, and he barely managed to shoot them down. The torpedo fighter pilot called out in his hoarse voice, but then was silenced as a pair of missiles impacted.
The THL fighters that were oddly humanoid shaped didn’t move as fast as a real N.A.U., but they were faster than he could handle. He fired, twisted and turned, but slowly he and his partner were getting overwhelmed. Several blasts punctured their way through space, and near instantaneously his cruiser was venting its air into the dark void. “Damn, this has got to be a start of a war. And I am going to die in what will be just a small foot note in the history books. They won’t even print my name.” He made another invasive maneuver but was met by two of the strange THL units and their aimed weapons.


#199

“Damn it! Not again!” Jake shouted to no one in particular. He was within a training simulator, and once again the faded screens and puffs of safe, artificial smoke indicated his unit was destroyed. This was the third time in a row.

“Relax Jake,” said a strange male voice. Jake bit his lip before saying anything stupid back. The voice continued, “I did tell you this is a worst case scenario. Believe it or not, even when you get destroyed we are figuring out a great deal of information. Oh, they just destroyed Hana’s unit, and your cruiser was given a crippling hit. The scenario is over.”

Power came back to his simulator. The coordinator for this training exercise told everyone to take a thirty minute break before they try again. The scenario was not truly a difficult one. It simply was to protect a destroyer of one race from a radical group of the same race, or simply put it, it was an escort mission. The team was even given two friendly TF cruisers and several computer controlled friendly fighter units. The one thing truly different was the species involved was the Henthshraq. The radical group of Henthshraq had destroyed the destroyer and every TF unit three times in a row.

As Jake walked away from the simulators Hana quickly caught up with him. She seemed a little bit irritated but more concerned over something else. “How are you holding up Jake?” She asked.

“Oh, just fine. The fact that I joined the TF military to fight these evil bastards just to be beaten by simulated versions of them over and over again is not causing me any issues.” He curled his hands into fists, but managed to restrain himself from punching the steel casings near him.

“Hey, we are the only ones who managed to take out one of their N.A.U.s each time. Last time it was two. Even all of these vets training with us haven’t had that consistency.” Hana’s voice was one of encouragement, but its strength was lacking.

“A few of them managed to take out three in one session. We still keep getting killed fairly early. We are as good as pilots as any them, what are we doing wrong? Why are we so powerless against that race? This is a bullshit program; they could not be that strong.” Jake was no longer controlling his anger well, and he started to breathe slowly to regain his composure.

They were in a separate room than the rest of the pilots. The training session was considered highly classified, and they were not to be associated with it. As they moved towards the door, it opened and the man in a black suit entered. He had a different face yet again, but the smile remained the same. The odd voice penetrated the air, “Yes, I can see that it is very frustrating to keep on losing. You should hear what the other pilots are saying. But, still, only one of them has commented on you two. Said, ‘Those two have skill, but it seems they have little combat experience.’ She nailed it on the head all right. You two do lack experience, and that is not something that can be given to you. Still, your results are teaching us a great deal.” He pulled a tray out from nowhere. On it were several biscuits, sushi, two hot dogs, and two vegetable crepes. “Thought you might be hungry, so I grabbed a little something for you.”


#200

Hana looked at the tray with some confusion. The food combination made little sense. Jake just looked at the man in black. “Let me ask this. Is there a way to complete this scenario successfully? Or are you just enjoying pissing me off?”

Hana looked over to Jake with a bit of disappointment. The man in black just laughed, making Jake more angry, but then said, “You really must be hungry to start talking like that. And, I will answer those questions. No, and, not intentionally.”

Hana looked up from the crepe she was about to bite. “You are saying there is no way to complete this scenario successfully?”

Jake quickly asked, “Then why the hell are we doing this then?” He looked at the man in black for a second. Suddenly, he thought of something, “This isn’t one of those ‘how to handle defeat’ tests is it?”

The man laughed again, “No, those come near the end of your N.A.U. training. Everyone here is supposedly vet pilots. Good guess though. This is truly a measuring test for our current skill and equipment level. Next session, you are receiving upgraded weapons. Triple munitions rifles are going to be the new standard and should be available when you get assigned to a squad.”

Jake and Hana looked at him with some interest. “Oh, you don’t know about those?” He asked eventually. When both shook their heads, he continued. “Well, you know about how the Henthshraq put limits on warships that can use their fold point system. They can only carry up to x fighter units, be less than x,y,z dimensions, and depending on the weaponry, be no stronger than the limit they place. Thus the term treaty bound battle cruiser exists, for most species can build a battle cruiser up to the limits. For the exhibition fleet, our battle cruisers lasers fire only at 75% the intensity of the max limit, the rail gun shots only have 82% of the max kinetic energy allowed, and the plasma bolt rifle about 78% of the max allowed power level. The only thing, our new cannons are designed to fire all three shots at once, from the same specialized barrel, and with the comparable reload time of just a rail gun itself. We even shrunk the system down to N.A.U. rifles.”

Jake and Hana stared at him for a second. Hana was the first to speak, “So, what you are saying, is that the Exhibition Fleet battle cruisers have nearly three times the fire power allowed by the treaty?”

He smiled, “No, only 235% more, and still technically allowed since we are not over any of the specified limits. Nowhere in the treaty did it say one cannon cannot fire all three rounds at once.” Both Jake and Hana knew that capital ships tend to have varied main weapon systems. Shields can be adjusted to handle lasers, rail guns, plasma bolts, and particle beams effectively, but not all at the same time. Still, each weapon was in a separate weapon mount. Jake’s expression showed he finally caught on that instead of splitting up weapon modules with different munitions, each of the new battle cruisers had all their turrets equipped to fire three types at once. No shield could adapt to that, and it did greatly increase their fire power.