Smart Bomb chapter 6. cold

Standard

Chapter 6. Cold

The American south. A unique society within the American society. A level of chivalry where a woman could stand up to a man, but according to law as put down by the Leader of Truth, such could not be the case.

Women were vessels for the future life. And only assigned for such with the leaders of the church.

America, the abomination, allowed women to drive cars, walk alone, even eat in public. The leader said the women were unhappy by following that path of dissolution.  

And yet? They were happy. Solidly so. But according to the Holy Leader, the American’s were corrupt and unhappy in their vileness.  This was a quandary he couldn’t fathom. 

 Americans are complex. He thought.  This needs more investigation. No one can be destroyed without all the information.  No sentence to death imposed without the evidence to show reason that  death is the only solution for these people. All without warning or a formal reading of charges. 

When Steve the android shifted into a female shape, to move among them, the point of view and experience was different. The differences were subtle, but the differences were there. Both in treatment received and given. 

Although he’d been constructed as an android – as a male, he paused to answer a question he posed to himself. When he was the same thing as a female android? Steve’s mind paused again for a thousandth of a second. And for an android that is a very long time. The thesaurus in his mind pondered a more appropriate word for his female form. In that shape, Steve decided, when he was a she, she was a gynoid.

 Another change  in the database, and it was subtle.  

This part of the United States, where Steve walked along the road. The database listed the area warm in the summer, cool and rarely freezing in winter.

Why then, was he walking along a highway, looking like a heavily muscled Hispanic woman, the plan would have her picked up by a corrupt American soldier where a trade of favors for a ride, would work out well for the android-turned-spy.

But none stopped, stopping at a food-mart and gas station, the android-gynoid female stepped into the unisex bathroom and adjusted her size, something darker, black eyes, bright smile. Slimmer and bigger breasted.

Images the maturing electronic mind pulled from the worldnet, for modeling the next shape and walk, exited with light-colored shirt and jeans instead of what she did wear when she entered.  A slight modification to the color of the hair. Instead of brown-black, she now sported shining raven blue-black hair.

Passing by the Air Force Base as the now female gynoid headed north, while a slow drizzle fell from the cloud cover that soaked her clingy, light-colored shirt and she had her backpack as the only form of insulation. The chill of the air and rain made the artificial skin pucker.

The android hoped that the plan would work, the heat loss was dramatic and alarming, she would have to turn to the jacket that the reverend and his wife donated and was now stored in the backpack.

A few cars passed while the civilian employees left the base to head home.
An elegant, official looking car pulled next to her and the middle-aged commander leaned over, his brass decorations glinting in the gathering darkness.

“Need a ride, miss? The weather is going to turn nasty around here in about a half-hour.” He was official sounding. But his eyes traced over her shape, including the damp breasts of the artificial woman.

“Thank you. How do you know of the weather?”

“We have detailed knowledge of anything in the air.” He smiled as she put her backpack in the car.

The gynoid concluded that the offer not only kept the heat loss to a minimum, but that the American male would not be difficult to mine for information. Her shape pressed against the wet, tight shirt that left little to the imagination.  Net surveys on breast sizes found conflicting information on what was most appealing. 

Sitting there with the pack under her legs, keeping them parted enough for the civilian worker a view of the slightly parted legs of the damp jeans.

“Where are you headed miss?” The officer asked.

“North. Anywhere dry, warm and safe.” A planned response, to a known question. But an unknown event caused heuristic subroutines to rapidly alter the plan.

A voice from the back seat interrupted the plans.

“We have an hours drive north. Roman, I can authorize you another hour of driving after you drop me off, after we secure you a rider.”

Turning around, an entire dictionary ran through the core processors.

“You startled me!” She turned her head rapidly around. “I’m Ann, what do you mean securing a rider?”

“No one travels alone in the equipment, this means he will not be left alone with you or any other civilian. It is protocol. I will secure you a female rider for your comfort.“

 The plan was a fail. Only if she was alone with a male, would the plan work to extract the information. She could figure out something to gain information, but the situation was now outside of the mission limits of safety.  She would be found out and would have to detonate early. 

The driver wore an officer’s markings, had violated the protocols already, they would not take it to any greater lengths.

“I have money for a hotel, I just need to get there.” She said as she sat down in the warm passenger area of the limousine and clipped her seatbelt on. 

They drove on in silence for some distance when a hotel that seemed near their destination.

She stepped out of the car, and recovered her backpack and then thanked the one called Roman – the driver – and the Colonel. She watched them drive away before she changed shapes to one of a sandy-haired middle-aged male of indeterminate heritage and walked to the office of the hotel in the twilight hours and gathering storm.

He was able to record information, the plan failed, however, Steve still discovered, even in America’s own country, the military do not travel alone in official vehicles.  It was not much, but it did add to the database.  And his care would not reveal his existence, changing size, colors and gender to throw off anyone who might track him.  But it was impossible that anyone knew that the operation to blow up the capitol of the America was under way. 

While he sat on his bed, the android watched the local news. Weather, the forecaster said,  would become colder over the next few days. This caused alerts to begin their process to discover alternative forms of transportation that would not attract attention.

Checking the roll of non-traceable cash, an alternative method of transportation would be useful. Ground transport would be preferable, opposed to the hypersonic craft the United States used for air.  The plan also called for avoiding trains or other public transportation. Too much scrutiny with facial recognition at the passenger hubs, by not being recognized in any database, he would be a curiosity that would bring scrutiny.  This would be a mission ending catastrophe.

The all the core systems  knew, there was little chance to pass close inspection just one time. Multiple trips past a sensor would reduce the odds of remaining as an anonymous traveler to less than a fraction of one percent.

His program required him to adapt to succeed. He had to change the plan, laid out by a programmer, to travel in crowds on pubic transit, he would have flown inside the country borders without the enhanced passenger checks. He would quickly reach his mission objective. Now, because of the face scanning tech that upgraded. Not just looking for people on a recognized list.  The scanners now looked for someone not fitting in a huge database of humans that normally moved in an area.  

Unfamiliar faces did not travel alone.  Families? Yes.  Couples? Of course. But a single person, male or female, without bags, or people to welcome their arrivals was a flag for the government to look closely at a person.  It could interrupt the mission.

Deliver the device to the seat of evil.

Destination: Washington, the most responsible criminal for the starving and poverty in the true religion by not sharing with the religious foods and comforts that they kept for themselves. They would take the resources and give nothing to strangers. 

Except for the sharing the android witnessed when he appeared as a youth just barely at the age of majority.  They gave to him without thought.   

It was a contradiction of data and measured information. It was answered by combining those donations of equipment and effort all appeared to come from private citizens.

But, where did the sand come from? The officer?

The people he met, Carl and Genesee were inherently kind and followed their book of rules and life. From the little girl in Florida to an officer that refused to handcuff a cold, unarmed and slightly-built youth.

Confict. Subroutines patched, conflict caused potential for failure of mission.

The mission was all important to strike a blow for peace. There would be lessons to be taught by showing that the failure of the United States to pressure Europe magazines from making fun of them or prevent insulting novels from being published.

The way to find through the winter storm, he would walk to the used car lot.

The American love for the automobile would allow him to move north without suspicion.

The plan set, an alternative to walking north the thousand-kilometers north.

Fully stretched out, the android could take one pace per meter.

His core processor measured a new term, a kilopace, a thousand-thousand paces to his target.

One million steps.

A large number that could be reduced by the use of private transportation. The contact with non-believers would be reduced. A new subroutine, created by the latest update to his operating systems, required contact with the people and the government that reflects the thinking of the masses.

Alternative plan: A seventy to one-hundred kilometer drive each day, then interact with citizens.

Taking on the shape and color, hair and accent, more data would be collected for proof of the glory and required destruction of this horrid…

He deleted the plan process, the prejudging of America seemed widespread in the database.

The android lay on the bed and powered down, a required time for reboot of the entire system for purging fragmented data that took up space in his limited resources.

Setting a power-on alert for seven O’clock, he lay on top of the blankets with the room set to just below body temperature.

If anyone looked through the gap of the window shade, it looked as if he was asleep on his back.

In truth, should anyone try to touch the android, the tactile feeling would make a person believe this was a dead human on the bed.

In the morning, the database cleared of all fragmented codes, would require replenished energy levels.

He would need a breakfast high in carbohydrate.

Not for the first time, he anticipated data input from this strange country.

Advertisements

Smart Bomb Chapter 1. Migration North

Standard

Chapter 1. Migration North

He stepped off the hypersonic transport. The snow-white hair of the elderly man glinted in the Florida sunshine.  Dark skinned, but of ambiguous heritage, he did not attract any attention from the transportation officers.

His ID chip said his name was Steve Aldin, his real name?

He had no family, while his brown eyes glinted with good humor, he had no emotion. Though the lines in his face were only a few hours old, they looked like each line and wrinkle earned by hard work and each crease was a story, a crooked nose attested to some long-ago punch or kick that he had suffered.

Although he was average looking, and the step he took was in good shape for someone his age, Steve Aldin was not what he appeared.

Ironically, despite appearances, he wasn’t even human.

Stepping into the men’s room, he locked himself into a stall and stood there for a moment. Then he sat quietly on the toilet and closed his eyes.

A mild shudder ran through his body, as if he had a chill.  Rapidly the skin on his face and arms tightened, the wrinkles smoothed out.

When he stood, he was four inches taller, shoulders were much broader and his hair, instead of white and thinning, he had a head full of curly, raven-colored hair, the once crooked nose was gone. Now he sported an aquiline nose,  undamaged and pristine. Deep-set piercing blue eyes stared out from under the bushy eyebrows.

A quick smile, the young man drew the eye of a few college girls coming back from holiday, on route to the University.

A young man who women would say “Easy on the eyes”, he walked out and strolled to the taxi stand and paid for a ride to the underground Vactrain with his credit-chip.

The taxi never made it to the destination. The taxi company that owned the vehicle reported it and the driver missing six-hours after the scheduled shift was supposed to end.

Police found taxi 141 north of town, a flat tire that looked to have hit an object and cut the sidewall lay next to the driver. While he attempted to change with the spare, when the car fell from the jack stand and pinned the driver to the guard rail. The impact, crushing the father of four with thousand of pounds of steel and glass.

The victim, unseen by passing motorists, no one had called in the car with the flashing hazard lights.

She walked into the nearby bus station, a medium-sized female, wearing an oversized t-shirt and jeans opened a locker with a key found under a rock in a blind spot outside.

Taking out a black-cloth shopping bag, the woman turned and walked out to the blind area she found the key at and stood in the shadows. Unobserved, the body stretched to a tall man of Nordic descent. His grey eyes sparkled above sun-kissed cheeks. The winning smile of the American with a mid-west accent.

Moving ever north, he did not need to sleep, the foods he ate came from different organic sources. His energy needs were simple. Carbon based organic material converted into electricity and powered his circuitry.

“Hello.” A voice behind him drew his attention while he picked a handful of high carbohydrate energy fruits, called dates, from a palm tree. His central processing core indicated that the material was easily processed to energy.

He turned and a small dark-haired girl of Cuban descent looked at him, wearing a pink Hello Kitty t-shirt and jeans. She was no threat.

“Hello, I was just getting a couple of these to snack on.” He used a Danish accent, should there be a legal problem. “Are these yours?”

“No, but you are picking bad ones. You should go to the other side of the tree, the sweet ones are there.” She pointed to a spot on the tree almost directly opposite from where he was.

A bite into the dates on the side she pointed to, compared to the opposite side was new knowledge, there was much more sugar in the side the little girl pointed out.

“Thank you.” He smiled.

“You don’t belong around here.” She said. “You are going to have trouble if you don’t get out of here.”

“Thank you, where can I get a ride?” He said as he stepped backwards against the tree.

“I don’t know.” Her eyes were without guile, but it was obvious that she did not go anywhere or very far without her mother or father.

“Do you live around here?” He asked.

“Just there.” She pointed to a house.

“Would your mom or dad give me a ride somewhere?” Already his heuristic programming conceiving of killing the adults if they were a threat and he would steal the car.

“Mom’s at work, my brother is watching me. We have to stay home until mom comes back.”

He nodded, an action he discovered humans did in this part of the world, he knelt and looked the girl in the eye. Studying her iris, she was not aware that the android imaged her retina and transmitted all the information on an encrypted carrier wave to his creator.

“What is your name?” He asked.

“Anna.”

“Thank you Anna.” He stood and walked away. Looking over his shoulder, Anna the little girl had gone back to her yard and was yelling in the door to someone inside about a white man walking down the street.

By the time he reached the corner, the blond Nordic stranger was a shorter, black-haired Cuban looking youth.

He caught a bus at the corner and headed out of the neighborhood.

In twelve-hours he crossed the Florida state line into Georgia as an Irishman with brown curly hair.

Steve Aldin, known by his creators as the Justice of The Religion, was a  morphing android, walking north, blending in to the populace.

He was built and programmed to learn then transmit all he could.  At his destination he would detonate. , Inside his chest, was an antimatter bomb the size of a grain of sand. He was programmed to blow up the top-secret James Madison Micro-Nuclear Power Plant on the Jefferson River, only a kilometer from the Capitol of the United States.

The size of a single-family house, the four-thousand kilowatt plant was a dedicated power source for the halls of government, even the neighboring businesses did not know that a plant was in their midst.

Once he arrived at the plant, his programming directed him to make entry with any means possible.

He would leave a crater a quarter-mile across. The equivalent of more than four-tons of TNT.

Those that lived through the initial blast, would succumb to the melt-down radiation leaks from the destroyed power plant. 

He was the weapon of choice, he could learn about the weakness of the American society for other androids to follow.  The American’s would never guess that they were under attack.

Or by what.

Tykon rocked in a chair and cackled. Even if the American’s knew there was a danger, they could never find the android.  He gave no radiation signature, the antimatter in his chest was inert, only becoming a danger once it was released from it’s magnetic containment and contacted the walls of the normal matter capsule.

And like humans, he could learn.  And he would learn at a string of military bases.  He would learn how to get in and blow up the war machines of the United States.  Other androids would follow.

There was no stopping the crippling of America.

Tykon loved death to visit.  And Death would visit America seven times.  And seven times that, if he had anything to do with it.

Tykon and his team had built the ultimate smart bomb. The American’s didn’t know it, but they were going to be given a lesson on following the path of the righteous.

The Pirate Kingdom Facet 9. Port Aquila

Standard

Facet 9. Port Aquila

Captain Alexandra blinked and took a relaxing breath as the lights changed in intensity, indicating arrival after eighteen hours of travel at faster than light speeds. The deceleration into orbit was smooth and practiced by the hand of the pilot and the advanced systems. The ship Alexandra the Great was capable of pulling much greater loads than the combined mass of the Seraph and the Alexandra’s own cargo load. The orbiting port, that served as the upper end of an elevator to the surface of the planet Aquila, talented engineers tethered by way of a graphene ribbon and diamond-nanorod cable that served the elevator to the ground thirty-two thousand kilometers below.

The big ship pulled into the dock slowly while anchors and airlocks maneuvered in place. Disembarking from the cargo super carrier transporter, uniformed agents guided the crews to a clinic for entry to the planet Aquila. Lines were short with the efficiency of the clinic and the professional faces of nurses and doctors went from room to room as the teams they checked for exposure to biological agents and pressed specialized pneumatic injector guns against the visitors and then the guided the crew of Alexandra the Great out to a waiting room.

Phoenix stepped into her room and the nurse invited to her to sit before she needed to remove her clinic garment  and dispose of it in the receptacle to her right.

A Doctor with kind eyes and wide smile stepped through the transparent glass door with a nurse carrying a single-use pneumatic injector.

With a press upon some keys on a flat panel at a terminal, the glass-walls became dark and opaque as he turned to the nurse and requested several items. As the nurse took her thermal and vital signs.

Phoenix watched as a nurse approached with a clear tablet that she could read her name backwards though the transparent device. As the efficient, unsmiling and harried young man tapped her information into the flat panel.

“My name is Skyy, how do you feel? Good? Good. Your blood pressure is a little high. This is your first time traveling this far out?” For the first time he smiled, the nurses pupils were slightly odd-shaped, as if there had been an injury in the past.

“Yes, it has been a stressful trip, investigating the damage to the ship.” Phoenix smiled back, “My first time at a crime scene of this magnitude. I have never been to the leftovers of a pirate attack.”

“Well,” he tapped a few more times on the flat panel, “you need a vaccine before you can go to the surface and that includes some DNA testing time.” he tapped again. “Every crew member that boarded that ship must have micro- graphic scan to see if there are any foreign nano-biologic material picked up that could determine the origin of the previous raiders. Many crew died, there is lots of evidence left by them that the investigators have requested for us to collect.”

“Vaccination?” she flipped open her own palm sized secretary. “That is not listed, we’ve requested to travel to the surface to meet with the incoming fleet from the High Council.”

“A common thing to overlook. It is in there.” The nurse chuckled, pressing a button and the walls became transparent once again. ”The doctor will explain it all, he’ll be in directly.”

Phoenix saw the doctor walk up to the clear wall stepped through the door, joining her. His smile was in bright contrast to his clothing and the eyes were sharp and missed little, taking all the world in. A deep voice with a wry sense of humor echoed in his greeting. The nurse handed the tablet to the doctor then tapped the panel on the wall that became opaque again.

“I’m Doctor Concord, pleased to meet someone from the boomer fleet. Is there any further findings on that ship? Anything about Captain Metrano? No? Pity, oh well.” He didn’t type, the clipboard he used transcribed their conversation as text. “No allergies to medications, I see.” His glasses seemed a little large for his face, but the well-practiced smile balanced it out.

“We will have to give you a vaccine that is unique to this planet to protect you from the ubiquitous single-celled little bug that a long ago by a wreck introduced. It mutated and now causes serious gastric distress to new visitors, the vaccine is your best prevention.”

Phoenix nodded and entered the subject to look up later. She had not expected any vaccinations from their contact and their towing a ship to the port. But the council wanted to meet with her at the capital on the planet.

“There is no bending fo the rules, this is part of the normal procedures. The collective governments of Aquila Nova also absorb the costs rather than have anyone spend their entire stay and tour of the outer rim in a sick-bed.” Explained Dr. Concord The nurse re-entered the room with a tray with a pistol shaped injector.

“Now you have had no adverse reactions to any medication at all? You have read the forms on possible reactions to the vaccine…” The Doctor broke off as Phoenix shook her head.

“I have not seen any forms.”

The nurse turned to a display and tapped on it. “She came from Durre Menthor.” He shook his head. “They have stopped giving the notices a month ago, and the admin suspended using forms yesterday.”

“The governments are not seeing eye to eye— again.” The Doctor sighed. “This time they have tried to sabotage interplanetary travel. Okay, we will get you a notice, a form and I will explain it to you.”

“It’s just a vaccine, right?” Phoenix was curious what the concerns were.

“Well, this is fifth generation vaccine, the first two generations had some, rather adverse, reactions that ran about one-third of those that received them. Most were minor. It is in the archives and taught around the systems as how the human DNA could be altered with vaccines.”

Phoenix nodded. In the past, from the first blood transfusions to the first allergic reactions to injections filled history books  with first generation problems from medicine to technology.

“The first generations of the vaccine used other mammals that were not susceptible to the amoeba infection. Here is the notice, ” The Doctor smiled as the nurse came in and handed her a hard copy and code to download it to her personal system. “The reactions sometimes altered the looks of the humans. In the case of a feline based vaccination, some people took on cat-like appearances and in the extreme cases, physical agility. In the case of canine there are documented cases of wolf-like changes.”

Phoenix blinked. She recalled that, from school, the social studies that caused many to portray these altered humans as non-human. They needed to fight a war for their freedoms, to move and live between Durre Menthor and Aquila Nova.

She looked at the nurse nodded— she remembered his eyes! He had feline eyes, with almost slit pupils.

“My grandmother was a fur-covered and tailed beauty that was an accomplished dramatic actress on the planet for one example.” Nurse Skyy smiled. “My grandfather was full human, after she moved back to Terra-Dyo and my mother and father were never vaccinated. My mom had the recessive trait and my eyes I inherited from my grandmother.”

The Doctor nodded. “Some were avian based and although in clinical trials it passed, it was found that if the avian mutations developed, it was a critical medical problem and many died if they became avian altered. Some took on other features, but none have been a great problem since the third-generation of vaccines.”

Phoenix nodded and rolled up her sleeve. “Well, better to get it than go back where I came or spend time in the bathroom.”

The hiss of the injector was like a short spit from a cat while Phoenix sat on the chair. The Doctor smiled and looked at her as she felt a slight flush and asked if that happened often.

“That’s normal, although everyone reacts differently…” Dr. Concord broke off as the room shook and a loud boom resonated through the building.

“What the f…” Squawked the nurse as he took a curious cat-like pose on the shaken floor, then walked out with the Doctor into the middle of the hall.

The door closed and lights flickered as the opaque wall became clear, Phoenix could see the Doctor standing in the middle of the hall pointing his finger at a communication console. Power flickered over the central med-station and Phoenix could see other rooms were people were standing and looking around, the walls were clear everywhere. Several nurses and doctors ran to the rooms and opened doors, indicating for people to leave when the a burst of explosives in the waiting room shattered the security knocked everyone down.

Outside, the Buccaneer Cooperative ships, Thunderbolt, Lightning and Thunder Child sat in a parking orbit around the space station, at a distance, keeping the space-control officer on edge, when alerts in the shipping control center beeped to life and began to flash.

Multiple signatures of several huge warp bubbles. Large enough to carry several ships each. Sensors could pick them up several hundred AU’s away. These ships were carrying titanic energy signatures that pegged all read outs.

One Sub-commander running his fingers over his face as he viewed the displays, talking to the command officer over the microphone.

“This big of a signal, there might be over a hundred  ships, sir, we don’t have enough room for them.” Sub-commander Taul spoke quietly into his microphone of his headset.

“Incoming transmission. Fleet commander wants to speak with the Ship control commander.” The communications officer called over the intercom.

Shimmering out in away that was never seen in the five-years in the traffic control, the outer markers shook and vibrated until they blurred from the energy bow-wave of the approaching fleet.

Suddenly, warning lights indicated high-velocity missiles passing through the lanes towards the disturbance. Three explosions bloomed brightly and silently in the dark sky of the interplanetary space and alarms echoed through out the station.

Huge battleships that had been hidden behind the blue gas-giant planet Scorpi, surged out in formation, filling the space of the arriving fleet with giant explosions. Huge detonations of the hyper-fast special explosives collapsed the stretched space fabric, call a Worm Hole, that the massive energy from the ships opened. Any and all ships in that tunnel would be destroyed or seriously damaged. On the side of the battleships, the Momo Empire flag stood out in stark relief.

The Thunderbolt fired. Lightning, in motion and charged weapons with a skeleton crew. Overcoming the lack of personnel who were on Port Aquila.

The flying gun of the fleet shattered the cover of four other Momo ships that had drifted with the dark cloud of small asteroids and dust, hiding in the debris as it orbited the home star or Nova Aquila.

Originally not part of the Pirate Confederation in years of the negotiations. They were not considered under the control of the united pirate agreements.

On the surface of Aquila, Leader of the High Council Peony summoned the Momo Empire Representative to demand the reason of the attack. The representative brought an answer. Looking like a kid caught stealing cookies, clearly not in line with the tone of the notice he carried in his tablet. The ambassador presented to his host the ultimatum.

The demand was to capitulate and all pirate fleets destroyed and the council surrender to the Admiral of the Momo Fleet at Port Aquila.

War had come to Port Aquila.

©2015 Dash McCallen

The Pirate Kingdom: Facet 3. Investigation

Standard

Facet 3. Investigation

Teams from the four ships went through the Seraph. Shattered metal from high-speed projectiles littered the floor. Here and there, tables overturned, cargo containers upended and used as barricades. Smoking bodies showed the futility of the resistance.

Edged weapons were in evidence, indicating that pitched hand to hand combat had been widespread. The raiders took to using combat swords that strongly resembled those used by the Pirate’s of the outlands.

“Pirates? This is not their way!” The first officer of the Copper Nugget commented over the intercom system between teams.

She picked up a slim bladed sword that glittered with cruel, hair-thin barbs. Wider at the tip, the single edge serrated in a way that promised hideous wounds.

“This is Royal Pirate style! Damn them! I don’t know why this would happen!” Lieutenant-Commander Pollux’s voice took an edged of anger. “They demand a tax, then slaughter and rob?”

Captain Alexandra walked through in her armored entry suit. “Life support systems are nearly repaired. We should be able to…” and pressed a button.

The lights illuminated and ventilation of the air began.

Emergency lights flashed on a panel, they were venting atmosphere in the bridge somewhere.

Four of the repair crew found where a railgun had blown a hole the size of a fist in the outer hull. Nearly a meter thick of Fendrik Alloy, it was exceptionally tough material that could absorb radiation and meteor impacts without appreciable damage. Very durable and widely used in the boomer ships.

The crews failed to find Captain Metrano’s body. Fine-object scans allayed worries that the attacking force ejected Captain Metrano out into space, scans performed for dozens of kilometers around the ship, searching for his body. Several bodies were found within a few hundred yards but it appeared they had not been forced out of any airlocks. The bodies showed signs that the force of venting atmosphere sucked victims out during explosive decompression.

“Captain to the Alexandra” As the master of the big ship called over the communicator that hung on her shoulder. “Contact the nearest Pirate Hegemony outpost and ask if they had any ships in the area.”

Releasing the mic, she looked at the first officer. “We have to find out if there was anyone in the area. The PH has more information on movements than any one kingdom. If a pirate was here, the best odds is the PH will know who it was.”

“The log said they were in Imperial ships.” First mate Modoc of the Fireball said. His handheld readout reflected off his eyes as he read the transcript.

“Until we can get verification of what is written, at the moment it is all preliminary and we cannot settle this with the conflicting evidence. A written account and then we have pirate weapons stuck in some of these crews. ” One of the Seraph’s engineers pointed out. “Until I can get the computers data banks back online and we get access to the sensor logs.”

“Agreed. We need to return to the ships and organize the information thus far recovered. The confederacy of buccaneers will wish to take charge of the investigation of this crime.” Communications officer Kitt had brought up over the intercom system while he worked under the flooring with the internal data storage units.

“Negative. We are the only ones here. My ship is the most advanced and has the complete facilities to perform a preliminary investigation of the attack. If any of the pirate kingdoms or clans wish to get involved they have to establish their jurisdiction. ” The communicator buzzed in their ears.

“Copy, no need to get short on the radio. You have the more current equipment. But the Buccaneers and Pirates normally have the best of everything.”

“They have been contacted already.” A voice unrecognized as any member of the Fireball. Those that had readouts did not recognize the transponder codes.

Captain Alexandra keyed up her communicator “Crewman, identify yourself, you do not have a transponder address that is on the crew manifest.”

“No surprise captain, as we are not in the ship, we are outside. You should find three extra ships logged into your little network and we have assigned ourselves identifier codes.”

“They have?” The distracted voice of Carla Qualy as she was running file scans of the memory core.

“Yes they have, we have three ships pulling up outside now. Fireball has announced the arrival of the pirates first.” Captain Alexandra spoke. “I’ll be having a word with my ship’s security about this, we have better scanners than the Fireball.”

A collective “Ooh.” came from the several teams over the com network.

Outside three medium-sized ships with crossed lightning bolts and a forward facing skull painted on the side approached and stopped a short ways away from the confab of ships and the smoking wreck.

Leading the way, the ship Thunderbolt came into visual range.

The pirate fleet had arrived.

The Pirate Kingdom: Facet 1. War against Empire

Standard

Note: This is a concept story that came out of my head. Might not be developed.

The Winged Sword

 Facet I.

In the outer reaches of the systems, the cargo ship Seraph shuddered as he pushed the engines to the limit. The Captain, Iridium Metrano was twelve years its master. He loved the position. Out away from the worlds, trading with the different outworld’s. It was a great life, an adventurous one. Pirates, traders, empires, rogue black holes that were uncharted.

 And the lovers in each port. Captain “Eye” (as his crew called him with affection) slipped a soft, secret smile into his morning as he recalled the last port of call.

 One Captain he had met a year before and had kept in touch with the woman adventurer in a virtual world of “Spacelife” for the out-system shippers. She was… Fun.

 An alert light at the navigators position lit up, bringing the Captain out of his pleasant memory. It had been an uneventful trip thus far, well more than half-done. This trip was to be well profitable with their trading for a pure solvent and coolant purchased at Storis for a pittance. One-hundred thousand metric tons of oxidane and another ten-thousand metric tons of oxane — oxidane binary solution. The bottom line would be very profitable. The biggest problem was more of the fact that the cargo was not as dense or compact as it could be. The danged stuff was potentially hazardous.

 As a solid it could fracture bulkheads if the cold of space got to the loads. In the gaseous state, the potential of lethal burns was very real. It took only a little of it to be inhaled to cause health problems up to and including death.

 Handled properly? It was very safe. But bulky. At a kilogram per cubic meter, it was a lot of cubic meters. The engines strained with the Alcubierre drive doing it’s best to contain the volume of the mass. The weight was not a serious problem, it was the volume that kept the warp bubble unstable.

 For the twenty-fifth time the intercom beeped on the captain’s headset from the engineering department, another complaint from Engineer Lockesly from the outworld systems. He was closed about what he was doing on a boomer.

 The colloquial names of the big cargo ships. Long lost to history, the name boomers had a long and proud tradition. Occasionally called outlaws or even pirates. They did not rob, but did strive for freedom on the shipping lanes outside the empires rule.

 Another light on the navigator’s panel lit. A proximity alert. Something had entered the ship’s sensor range.

 Sir! Incoming electromagnetic pulse!” Yelled the weapons officer. “It’ll knock out or drives!”

 The worst had happened, the warp bubble collapsed and they dropped to normal space. Seraph was built as a very tough ship, but the sudden change in speed put the entire ship under strain. Noises and groans as the ship held together as the structure was strained to the limit.

 “Incoming message.” Kitt the burly male human-siberian tiger hybrid whose arms were more the size of most men’s legs with shoulders to match. Kitt would laugh and say that the only exercise he ever did was to lift a beer to his lips and pour. His striped white fur so very fine on his skin, it gave him a look that glistened in the light.

 “Prepare to be boarded.” was the only message as impacts of weapons fire lit up the weapons officer’s panel.

 “They are hitting the hanger doors, Sir!”

 “Hail them! Tell them to stand down, we surrender.” The Captain responded.

 But it was too late.

Facet II. Captain’s Log Found

 The pinging of the emergency beacon, detected on the coded sub-channel by the incoming rescue ship. A channel often used by Boomer’s when wanting to keep conversations out of the ears of pirates or empire raiders.

 The cargo ship power section, that included crew’s quarters and medical facilities responded. Leaving their cargo orbiting a planet, the good ship “Katrina” was pushing her graviton engines to the maximum while relaying the beacon’s coördinates to other cargo-haulers in the area. The “Copper Nugget” was responding but was a half-day away at full speed.

 Another ship answered the call for help, from the distant outlands. “Fireball Express” was pushing its Alcubierre drive until they reported that they had set a personal speed record and would be there shortly after the Katrina. The Seraph was going to have all the help she could use.

 The super-cargo hauler “Alexandra the Great” had dropped its load in the orbit of a gas giant and was responding. Known as one of the most modern superships in the lanes. The captain was a good friend of Captain Metrano.

 “Keep it to the wall Mr. Tox. I don’t want to lose a single heartbeat to the clock.” Captain Phoenix Alexandra, owner and operator on this mission. Her own messages had alerted her company and all ships were responding to the broadcast location of the Seraph.

 A few hours after the ships had arrived in the area. Evidence of a violent battle had taken place on the Seraph. The ship’s log by Captain Metrano had been found.

 Facet III. Captains log:

 

We are under attack, hanger doors were hit first when we dropped out of light-speed.  The first attack has disabled our dorsal engine (number-2 engine) and the warp field collapsed. We hove to and signaled that we were just a merchant ship.  No injuries initially but they shot their way through the hangar doors.  Crews set up defensive positions but we have only minor weapons and cannot hold out.

 

Markings on the ships involved show them to be of the Momo Empire, we have identified one as a capital ship of the DreadStar class.  We sent a general distress call but they have jammed all frequencies. We do not know who have answered and if any are en route with help, but they will be too late I fear.  We will try to hold out, but our ship is no match for Imperial weapons. They have blown holes through the doors and pushing through out of the hanger.  They are assaulting the cargo area where we are carrying twelve-thousand units of Oxonium in armored containers for trade to the Oriak Mining Syndicate as coolant that they desperately need.  

Captain’s Log final entry:

I sent a message to the Pirate Hegemony, but there is none that is close enough to answer in the time on the channels I have used. All other communications are down, I have no other access for standard frequencies. How this will pan out, I will only ever wish and hope against all odds,  it is too late we have lost the ship.  I have been sending out surrender message on all channels but no response….

They have broken through the below decks and have taken over. They are attacking up the stairs, there is no time to finish. I will launch this log to outside the ship with a beacon.

Tell my family I was going home for the holidays. Tell them I love them.

They are coming.

 

Iridium Metrano  

Captain and Master of the Merchant ship Seraph

 

Facet 3. Investigation

 

Teams from the four ships went through the Seraph. Shattered metal from high speed projectiles littered the floor. Here and there, overturned tables lay about, cargo containers upended and used as barricades. Smoking bodies were testament to the futility of the resisting crew.

 Edged weapons were in evidence of a very pitched hand to hand combat had been widespread. The raiders had taken to using combat swords that strongly resembled those used by the Pirate’s of the outlands.

 “Pirates? This is not their way!” The first officer of the Copper commented over the intercom system between teams.

 She picked up a slim bladed sword that glittered evilly. Wider at the tip, the single edge, serrated in a way that promised hideous wounds.

 “This is Royal Pirate style! Damn them! I don’t know why this would happen!”

 Captain Alexandra walked through with her armored entry suit. “Life support systems are nearly repaired. We should be able to…”

 The lights illuminated and ventilation of the air began.

 Emergency lights flashed on a panel, they were venting atmosphere in the bridge somewhere.

Four of the repair crew found where a railgun had blown a hole the size of a fist in the outer hull. Nearly a meter thick of Fendrik Alloy, it was exceptionally tough material that could absorb radiation and meteor impacts without appreciable damage. Very durable and widely used in the boomer ships.

Captain Metrano remained MIA. Worries that he was ejected out into space by the raiders nagged at the rescue teams, but laid to rest when they performed micro-fine object scans for dozens of kilometers around the ship. Several bodies were found within a few hundred yards but it appeared they had not been forced out of any airlocks. They showed signs of being sucked out the holes during explosive decompression.

“Captain to the Alexandra.” As the master of the big ship called over the communicator that hung on her shoulder. “Contact the nearest Pirate Hegemony outpost and request if they had any ships in the area.”

Releasing the mic, she looked at the first officer. “We have to find out if there was anyone in the area. The PH has more information on movements than any one kingdom. If anyone was here, the best odds are the pirates know who it was.”

 “The log said they were in Imperial ships.” First mate Modoc of the Fireball said. His handheld readout reflected off his eyes as he read the transcript.

 “Until we can get verification of what the Captain Metrano recorded, no one can say for certain, right now it is all preliminary and we cannot settle this with the conflicting evidence. A written account and then we have pirate weapons stuck in some of these crewmembers. ” The Katrina’s engineer pointed out. “Until I can get the computers data banks back online and we get access to the sensor logs.”

 “Agreed. We need to return to the ships and organize the information thus far recovered. The confederacy of buccaneers will wish to take charge of the investigation of this crime.” Communications officer Kitt had brought up over the intercom system while he worked under the flooring with the internal data storage units.

 “Negative. We are the only ones here. My ship is the most advanced and has the complete facilities to perform a preliminary investigation of the attack. If any of the pirate kingdoms or clans wish to get involved they have to establish their jurisdiction. ” The communicator buzzed in their ears.

 “Copy, no need to get short on the radio. You have the more current equipment. But the Buccaneers and Pirates normally have the best of everything.”

 “We have contacted them already.” A voice recognized as the second engineer of the Fireball. Those that had readouts recognized his transponder codes.

 Captain Alexandra keyed up her communicator “Crewman, identify yourself, you are not transponder address is not on the crew manifest.”

“No surprise captain, as we are not in the ship, we are outside. You should find 

 “They have?” The distracted voice of Carla Qualy as she was running file scans of the memory core.

 “Yes they have, we have three ships pulling up outside now. firebrand has broadcast their arrival first.” Captain Alexandra spoke. “I’ll be having a word with my ship over this.”

 A collective “OOooo” came from the several teams over the com network.

 Outside three medium-sized ships with crossed lightning bolts and a forward facing skull painted on the side approached and stopped a short ways away from the collection of ships and the smoking wreck.

 The Thunderbolt had arrived.

 

Shock and Awe Chapter 8. Dispatch

Standard

Chapter 8. Dispatch

Stepping out of the air-return shaft, he pressed a button in his pocket.

Little more than a car door remote.

Above, in the ventilation duct, an electronic board received his signal, inflating the folded square of cloth that tightly fit inside the plenum, blocking all fresh air from being delivered to the lower floors, becoming an effective cork.

The intruder gently rolled two smoke canisters to each end of the hallway and pressed the button on a spray can, deploying a vapor that smelled like melting plastic.

A dispatcher that was questioning the radio traffic, was turning to her supervisor to say there was something wrong when she saw smoke and smelled wires burning.

“FIRE!”

As one, the dispatchers all stood up and made for the smoke-filled hallway.

Suddenly blocked by a man in a mask and leather jacket.

“No fire, just attention-getter. Please, everyone lay down.”

In the far end where officer Davies sat, she brought out an AR-15 that out on the first alarm of an attack.

The intruder rolled multiple stinger grenades into the dispatch center that detonated rapidly, causing Davies to duck and take stock that she was still alive.

Too late to stop the intruder who had plugged into a USB port with his equipment and pressed a button, data surged through the now-allowed hardware that rebooted the entire dispatch system.

The officer, deciding the grenades did not injure her permanently, took position and tried to take a sighting on the intruder through the smoke. But there were too many obstacles, the air was too murky to shoot at a shape with people sitting up when the monitors went dark.

Someone yelled “RUN!” and twenty people scrambled for the stairwell.

Officer Gwen Davies grabbed the phone and tried to call the watch commander’s cell phone.

“Hello.”

“Lieutenant! He is down here in dispatch!”

“Shit! On our way.” The masculine voice broke the connection. Gwen looked at the phone for a moment, she thought Leslie Murrie was on duty.

Her radio on her hip buzzed on a person-to-person frequency. “…Davies.”

“Go ahead for Davies.”

“It’s Russ, I’m coming your way to back you up, this place is on fire,”

“No, we have the intruder here, he’s smoke-bombed us.” She said quietly. “He is here in dispatch.”

“Enroute. I have contact with the watch commander, I’ll tell her.”

“Who is on tonight?”

“Leslie Murrie. Why?”

“There was a male voice that answered the watch commanders phone.”

“Could have been one of the other guys. Shit is going bad up there. We have officers down.”

“Okay, get here as soon as possible, I’m pinned down and he has explosives.” She looked again. “I can’t see because of the smoke, and he is  moving so I can’t get a clear shot.”

“Copy, I’m at the end of the hall. He has to come past me or you to leave the floor. I can’t see shit with all this smoke, why is this floor not venting?”

Pops of gunfire sounded.

“He’s shooting! Small caliber!”

Gwen dove through the door, flashes of his weapon illuminated the smoke. She aimed about leg high and laid grazing fire down the hallway.

A scream from the smoke.

BOO-YA! She bagged a bad guy! This gave Gwen a savage pleasure.

“I’M HIT!” 

Shit! She knew that voice, she was just listening to it on her phone.

It was Russ!

Gwen got to her feet and moved from side to side of the hallway. The heavy smoke was acrid in her nose, it was military spec smoke. She knew the smell intimately from her time in the service and the smoke grenades are easy to get from the internet. She passed by the data center and tried the door.

Locked. It was always locked. The window was intact and it was clear inside.

As she stepped away, a movement caught her eye as she passed the window. She stepped back and looked again. Staring and tried the door once more.

Locked, positively locked. She looked up and down the door, nothing wrong with the door, no tamper marks, but, on the floor, something odd.

A bit of cardboard with bar codes on it. She left it alone, dropping a folded notepaper over it in the shape of a tent.

Walking a step farther, paper tatters all over the place.

Firecrackers.

The asshole faked shooting, now she shot Russ.

Russ was on the ground, blood had sprayed on the wall directly behind him. The bullet had grazed his calf, giving him a groove in his muscle the size of her index finger to fit in.

“You will be fine, it is just a flesh wound.”

“Oh yeah, they say that, but they never said that it hurts like a bitch!” Russ said, rocking back and forth, holding his leg up. “Damned thing throbs!”

“Did he come this way?”

“What?” The question distracted him from his pain for a moment. “No. I saw a shadow in the smoke, then he started shooting, but no one came this way.”

“He had to go back into dispatch and he is in there somehow.”

The elevator door opened and eight SWAT officers stepped out, seeing the bleeding brother on the floor, the leader motioned to one of the heavily armed officers who stooped next to him and applied a pressure dressing. It was a SWAT medic.

“You got him?” The masked swat officer asked Gwen.

“Yeah.” And she pulled Russ to his feet and headed to the open elevator.

She smiled grimly, bad guy screwed the pooch now.

SWAT was the best of their best.

Gwen would pay good money to see this bastard get taken down by the team.