Monthly Archives: November 2011

Swift Fox and the Pirates of the Jackai, Part Thirty-eight

The IPF Osprey, main bridge

Commander Jarin watched through the view screen as the Night Sky hung like a child’s mobile above a crib. He was calm, but deep in thought of what had just transpired. The bridge crew heard about the loss of the Vulpine pilot, they all heard his last transmission before crashing into the base of the laser lance. Some might have considered it callous, but he could not dwell on that. Especially now, as he took note of the arrival of the Tiger’s Pride.

“Admiral Felan Tal is on approach, Commander,” the helm officer announced.

“I can see that, yes,” he said and turned to the officers at the diagnostic station. “I’ll need a report for the Admiral. Prepare damage report and casualty reports.” The officer nodded in reply then began to gather that information. Most likely the same was being performed on the Kestrel as they spoke. He turned to the communications officer and spoke in a solemn voice. “Please send condolences for the loss of the Vulpine pilot. Let Captain Clarendale know that we send our best to the squadron, and please prepare a message to be sent to the pilot’s family.” Jarin straightened his tunic and cleared his throat before he began issuing new orders. “Open joint hailing frequencies with the Kestrel. We need to greet the Tiger’s Pride.”

Jarin and Yenna remained on open communication as they kept themselves busy with incoming reports of ship’s status. Four dead Kestrel, five dead on the Osprey, all on lower decks when the Night Sky made her initial attack. They were lucky, it wasn’t many ships that survived an attack from a Pantheran destroyer. The combined efforts of the two Stalkers and the Vulpine fighter pilots were enough, but at the cost of ten lives.

Jarin stood at attention as word came in that the Osprey and Kestrel were being hailed by the Tiger’s Pride. He could only imagine that Yenna was performing the same function on board her vessel. Right on cue, Admiral Felan Tal spoke over the comm to both ships.

“Commanders,” Tal said as his image came over the view screen on the communications console. “You’ve dealt the Night Sky a heavy blow, you are to be commended.”

“We had assistance, Admiral,” Yenna spoke up, a smaller image displaying the Kestrel commander next to the Admiral’s on the console view screen. “The Midnight Squadron were most effective in taking out sensors, short range weapons and the Night Sky’s laser lance.”

“Impressive,” Tal replied with a nod. “I will have to commend Colonel Dawkins on the training of his crew.”

“There was one casualty among the fighter pilots,” Jarin informed the Admiral. Tal leaned forward, indicating to Jarin he should continue. “Corporal Maynard, as we are told, was struck by debris from the lance. His craft spun out of control and crashed.”

“Corporal Maynard,” Tal thought for a moment. “A new recruit of Dawkins’?”

“No sir,” Yenna spoke up. “Maynard was a bounty hunter. Royal Vulpine Authority. Under command of Lieutenant Senia Felix of the Nighthawk Squadron. He was part of the group that attacked the laser lance.”

Felan Tal nodded as he thought back to what Tor Clarendale told him. Tal knew that Authority members would be on board. One of them was now dead. Riktar would have a great deal of explaining to do. “I want to see a full report,” Tal finally said. “Structural repairs needed to both your ships and casualty report. As for your actions, you and your crews will be commended. You have helped in protecting the peace. I offer you my congratulations.” He nodded, then ended the transmission. He had Commander Riktar to speak with.

Main bridge of the IPF Night Sky

Riktar was furious and desperate. Two Stalker class ships and a handful of fighters had taken out the effectiveness of a Pantheran destroyer. His crew was scrambling to make repairs and divert power. Charging up the lance had reduced a great deal of the ship’s main power, having it destroyed seemed like it was a complete and total waste.

“Commander,” his communications officer called out, though in a rather timid voice. “We are being hailed. By the Tiger’s Pride.”

Riktar looked to the communications office and scowled. “Don’t answer it. I won’t be speaking with that filthy Jackai today.”

“Oh, I think you will,” a voice came over the communications console. Riktar turned to look at the main view screen, which held the image of Admiral Felan Tal. He looked very angry. “Don’t forget, Commander. I hold the encryption keys to contact any ship I wish to that is under my command. And you are still under my command, Riktar.” Riktar moved to his command console, a look of mixed disgust and dejection covering his face.

“Admiral Felan Tal, if only you…” his words were cut short by a roar from Tal. Even over the vastness of a mere communications link, Riktar found himself slightly startled.

“You will answer for this treason, Riktar,” Tal informed the commander with a voice that displayed not only his displeasure, but the serious nature of the situation. “You have broken several Pantheran laws merely by firing on ships aligned with the Imperial Pantheran Fleet. That will be your treason. But you have also broken code with the Lupine Treaties. Opening fire on a Vulpine vessel, aligning yourself with known pirates, and the destruction and death of a member of the Royal Vulpine Authority.” Tal read the quizzical expression on Riktar’s face. “You didn’t know. Well, maybe you can pass that off when the Vulpine Authority wishes to question you. But let me inform you. The Revenge had three bounty hunters from the Authority stationed on the Revenge. Corporal Maynard, under the command of one Lieutenant Senia Felix, died as they attempted to destroy the laser lance that you ordered to be powered up.” Tal didn’t wait for any reaction from Riktar at all. He punched in the encryption codes into his communications console, and soon his voice went ship wide on the Night Sky.

“This is Admiral Felan Tal. Now hear this,” Tal’s voice seemed to boom over the ship wide intercom. “All hands will surrender weapons and stand down. All on board are effectively placed into my custody. If you are able and willing to present evidence against Commander Riktar for his treasonous actions, that will be taken into consideration. If you struggle and attempt to fight off the squadron of Central Council agents that are on route to the Night Sky now, then you will be meet with a harsh offense. That is all.” Tal switched the communications back to the bridge of the Night Sky, speaking directly to Riktar. “For your actions, Commander, I hereby strip you of rank. You will be placed in my custody where you will be transported to the nearest detention facility. You will await trial there. That is all.”

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Posted by on November 30, 2011 in The Barrow's Revenge, Writing


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And the final total is…

The final total for this year’s NaNoWriMo:


Now that it’s complete, I’m gonna take a couple of weeks off before tearing it apart and reworking it into a second draft.  Divide it into chapters, make some additional scenes, and change around some names.  A few other things I must do include:

  • changing Tor Clarendale’s first name
  • make readers care about Hardy Maynard
  • change Hardy Maynard’s gender and first name, as Vulpine is a matriarchal society, it would make for sense to have a trio of bounty hunters be made up of mostly females
  • add in more back and forth conversations between Doctor Horatio Cornelius Re and Left-tenant Colonel Artemis Dawkins just to show the rivalry
  • put in more description of the Jackai ships, the Pantheran ships and add into some for the Maverick and Nighthawk fighter craft
  • add in the suddenly growing relationship between Snow Fall and White Fang
  • find a new name for rough ball

That’ll be for the next month, then I’ll take another break, and put a shout out for Beta Readers.


Posted by on November 30, 2011 in randomness, Writing


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Swift Fox and the Pirates of the Jackai, Part Thirty-seven

The IPF Night Sky, main bridge

Commander Riktar was panting heavily again. He was enraged that a pair of Stalker class vessels would have the upper hand in this situation. The addition of the fighter craft peppering the hull of his ship did not add to his annoyance, but it still did register. “What is the status of the shields of the Osprey and the Kestrel?” he barked to his crew, not demanding an answer from any one person.

“The ships are using the patented Stalker maneuver,” one of the officers piped up quickly, some fear in the voice that spoke. The crew could feel his rage. And they were starting to have their own doubts. “They are sharing shields, passing them back and forth as we fire.”

“Curse the day Pantheran engineers came up with that strategy,” he grumbled under his breath. He thought for a moment as his crew continued to fire upon the two Stalkers, finally voicing a command that no one had ever considered would have been made. “Prepare the laser lance.”

The bridge crew became even more silent than they had become. Firing the lance was risky at best. It took a considerable amount of energy and would leave them dead in the water for a short period of time. “Commander,” the weapons control officer finally spoke up, her voice quiet and shaky. “I don’t know if that would be the best of suggestions right now.”

“Oh really!” Riktar cried out in anger. “And just why is that?”

“Long… long range sensors have picked up the Tiger’s Pride on route to our current position,” another officer announced. “Best estimate. Admiral Felan Tal will be here in less than ten minutes.”

“Really?” Riktar cried out as he stood tall from his command position. His appearance became most menacing indeed. “Then Admiral Felan Tal can bear witness as two of his precious Stalkers are blown to oblivion.” He spat his words out as he nearly roared as he spoke. “Prepare! The lance!”

In flight pattern above the IPF Night Sky

Felix and her pilots never let up. They hit ever target they had to, destroying small guns that would pop up, avoiding fire from different locations. They flew as a unit, and all of them kept their eyes peeled for any variation in the Night Sky’s operations. Even energy fluctuations in the ship were taken note of with careful interest.

Which is how they saw a massive power surge in the ship’s systems.

“Nighthawk Leader One to Osprey,” Felix called out as they began another pass from the nose of the Night Sky. “We’re reading a high energy flux in the ship. They theem to be powering up thomething mathive.”

“I see it,” Jarin replied quickly, with a touch of worry in his voice. “Riktar has ordered the laser lance to be powered up.” There was a short silence as the information settled in. Everyone knew what a laser lance could do. It was the most destructive weapon in the Pantheran arsenal, and the most destructive in the entire Lupine Star System. “Do you think you can take it out before it’s fully powered up.”

“Affirmative, Commander,” Felix reported. “We’ll give it all we’ve got. Ath it thtandth, we don’t have much choithe in the matter, now do we.”

“Agreed, Lieutenant,” Jarin replied, and added one thing from his knowledge of Vulpine culture and lore. “May the Great Mother be with.”

Senia Felix adjusted herself in her seat for a moment as she readied for another run, her hand a firm grip on the stick of her fighter craft. “Thith ith Nighthawk Leader One,” she announced to her other pilots. “Pay clothe attention. Commander Riktar ith planning on firing the lather lanthe. We have to take it out. We’ll only have two patheth to attempt thith, tho we cannot afford any mithtaketh. Underthtood?” She was met with quick replies that all pilots were ready, willing and able. “All right, here’th the plan. I’ll take point and hope any gunth we didn’t take out will focuth on me. Hardigar, you and Traft keep a tight pattern behind me and focuth all your fire at the bathe of thothe extenderth. Maynard, you and Compton will have the job of hitting it with your heavy fire. Uthe the torpedoeth on it. Onthe we make the firtht path, we’ll come back around and attack it again. Make every shot count.” She was met with acknowledgment all around, and the five pilots began their run.

Felix was first, dodging weapons fire with ease, as she intended to be the diversion for Hardigar and Traft. As she plowed forward, closer to the lance, she opened fire, hitting it directly. She could see the weapons fire from behind, knowing that Hardigar and Traft were opening fire on the extenders. It was doing some damage, but they’d have to hit it again in a second pass. As she passed underneath the extenders, she felt the rumble of the explosions, as signal that Maynard and Compton hit their targets on the mark. Just one more pass now, and with any luck, the lance would be rendered ineffective.

She banked her craft, knowing the others were following in formation just by looking at her read outs. Time for the final run. Again, she sped forward, acting as a diversion for the others and letting loose with phaser fire. She hit the lance dead perfect, causing more damage to the weapon from what it had taken earlier. As she passed under the extenders for the second time, she saw the explosions as the weapons fire from Hardigar and Traft hit their mark. One of the extenders buckled and began to fall. As Senia drove her fighter to avoid debris, she watched her sensors, expecting the moment when the missiles from Maynard and Compton’s ships to hit the lance. As anticipated, the rumble from the direct hits came. It was time to punch out.

Just as Felix was about to issue the order to go, an explosion at the base of the lance shifted the weapon to the left. Right in the line of Maynard and Compton’s flight path. Both fighters tried adjusting to the change, but a piece of debris from the extenders appeared in the path of Maynard’s fighter craft. He tried adjusting, but it was too little too late. The debris clipped his wing completely off.

“Left-tenant!” he called out quickly as he struggled with his controls. “Ship is unstable, going down hard and fast. Attempting to compensate.” Maynard kept a firm grip on the stick, but the ship just wasn’t responding as it began to spiral out of control.

“I can give you a hand,” Compton announced over his communication link. “You can ride my wing back to the Osprey or the Kestrel.”

“No good, Compton,” Maynard called out. “You’ll only put yourself in danger. “Join the others. I’m losing cabin pressure at an alarming rate, there’s no way we’d make it. Fall in with Left-tenant Felix and meet up with the others.” Maynard clutched the controls as part of him tried in one last desperate effort to gain control of the vessel, but knowing it was all for not. He put out one last call. “Left-tenant Felix.”

“Felix here, Corporal,” she responded quickly, knowing full well what was going on.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to make it back to the Shipyards and have that tankard with you and Billings,” he said as calmly as he could. “Tell Billings I’m sorry. Life has a funny way of interrupting things, don’t you think.” Without waiting for Felix’s reply, he killed the communication link.

Felix was about to call out, but was stunned into silence as she, along with the other pilots, could only watch as Maynard’s ship veered off and crashed into the base of the lance, the explosion that followed silencing Maynard’s comm for good.

Senia tried to keep her composure as she opened her comm channel. She, Billings and Maynard had come up together from the Academy. They all knew each other very well, and had not only become partners in their positions as bounty hunters for the Authority, but also friends. “Nighthawk Leader One,” she announced, trying hard to keep herself composed and professional. “Nighthawk Leader One to Maverick Leader One.”

“Maverick Leader One. Go ahead, Nighthawk Leader One,” Dawkins replied, knowing full well what was coming. There were too many times he’d heard the shaking in the voice of someone about to report a downed pilot. There were too many times he had to report a downed pilot as well. The situation was all too familiar for him.

“Colonel Dawkinth,” Senia began, trying very, very hard to hold back any tears. Unlike Dawkins, Senia never had experienced the emotion involved in reporting a downed pilot. “Maynard is gone, thir. Maynard’th fighter craft wath hit by debris, and,” she paused as she took a deep breath. “He crashed into the bathe of the weapon.”

“Understood, Left-tenant Felix,” Dawkins replied with an even tone in his voice. It wasn’t cold, but he needed to put on an air of compassion and calm for Felix. “I’ve been informed by Commander Jarin and Commander Yenna that the lance has been destroyed. They can handle the rest of the clean up, as there are power fluctuations all over the Night Sky. Let’s head back to the Revenge. Do you wish to speak directly to Billings, Left-tenant?”

“If I could, Colonel,” Felix replied, waiting until she heard Billings’ voice over the comm.

“Billings here, Left-tenant,” he said, his voice cracking slightly as he talked. He already knew full well what was coming.

“It ith with great mithfortune that I have to report,” Felix began, still trying to keep her composure. “Maynard will not be joining uth the next time we pull into port at the Shipyardth.” She swallowed hard and continued. “He wanted me to let you know.”

“I understand,” Billings replied with a heavy heart. “We’ll have to schedule time to see his parents. After we get back to the Revenge, perhaps.”

“Indeed,” she said in agreement. Senia coughed and cleared her throat, knowing that the other pilots were feeling what she felt right now. She opened her comm to Dawkins’ ship. “Nighthawk Leader One to Maverick Leader One.”

“Maverick Leader One,” Dawkins responded with a bold voice, trying very hard to be there for the other pilots as they let it register that Maynard was gone. “Go ahead, Nighthawk Leader One.”

“Ready to join up in formation, Colonel,” Felix stated as she guided the pilots back to Dawkins’ group.

“Understood, Left-tenant,” Dawkins said with a clear voice. “Let’s head home.” He flicked a few switches on his communications channel and hailed the Osprey. “Maverick Leader One to Osprey. Commander Jarin, the Night Sky is yours.”

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Posted by on November 30, 2011 in The Barrow's Revenge, Writing


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Swift Fox and the Pirates of the Jackai, Part Thirty-six

Hangar Bay, The Barrow’s Revenge

The Mavericks and Nighthawks idled on the tarmac of the hangar bay, waiting for the final order to launch. At the bay controls near Colonel Dawkins’ office, Talia, White Fang, Snow Fall and Krillis also waited. They knew that there was a battle going on outside, they knew that two Pantheran Stalkers were taking a beating from a Pantheran destroyer. That in itself was just odd. Never before in the history of the Pantheran fleet had one ship turned on others. The prize in the battle; the Barrow’s Revenge.

Finally, after what seemed hours, the call finally came in.

“Miss Talia,” Captain Clarendale’s voice came across the communications link to the hangar bay control console. “I am routing Commander Yenna Fal to you now for specific instructions.” Talia waited for a few seconds and was soon greeted by the voice of the Pantheran commander.

“This is Commander Yenna Fal,” she said over the communications link. “I understand I am speaking with the chief engineer of the Revenge.”

“Yes, Commander,” Talia responded quickly, feeling as though she had let go of a breath she’d been holding for a very long time. “Colonel Dawkins has the Midnight Squadron ready for launch.”

“Good,” Yenna replied firmly. “We’ll need his assistance. If you please, begin launch.”

“Right away, Commander,” Talia said as she gave Dawkins the signal. She closed off the control area and began opening the bay doors. “I’m transferring Colonel Dawkins communications transponder to you now.”

“Very good, Miss Talia,” Yenna stated. “I’ll speak with Dawkins in the field.” The communication link ended, the Mavericks and Nighthawks began to taxi onto the runway. Dawkins went first, followed by Felix, then Taggart, Billings, Edgewick, Hardigar, Maynard, Compton, Traft and finally Miles. Once the group hit space and were clear of the Revenge, Talia began the procedure to close up the hangar bay and filter air into the main bay.

“Good luck, Blackie,” she whispered as the doors closed.

Outside, the squadron hit stars quickly, banking and moving into formation as they came up on the port side of the Kestrel. As they began moving toward target, Dawkins opened communications channels. “Maverick Leader One to Nighthawk Leader One. Do you read, Left-tenant Felix?”

“Nighthawk Leader One reading you loud and clear, Colonel,” Felix replied quickly.

“Mavericks and Nighthawks, sound off,” Dawkins ordered and was quickly met with the role call of the combined squadron. “Good show. I’m opening up communication with the Commander of the Kestrel,” he called out and switched comm frequencies. “Maverick Leader One to IPF Kestrel. This is Left-tenant Colonel Artemis Dawkins. Do you read me, Kestrel?”

“We read you, Lieutenant Colonel Dawkins,” Commander Yenna replied. There was urgency in her voice, even though she tried to come across as calm and cool in the heat of battle. “Ensign Corr will begin uploading strategic points to you, and a battle history. Looks like the Night Sky has taken a few good hits, but she’s giving it right back to us.”

“We;ll buzz the Night Sky like mosquitoes, Commander,” Dawkins replied as he quickly went over the information transferred to his console. “Left-tenant Felix, are you reading this information?”

“Yeth, Colonel,” she confirmed quickly. “I thee four areath of thtrategic interetht we could focuth on.”

“I believe I know the ones you speak of, Left-tenant,” Dawkins replied as he tapped out the coordinates and transferred them to the other pilots. “Taggart. Billings. Edgewick. Miles. You four are with me. We’ll attack the port side of the Night Sky, focusing directly on their weapons. Lead toward the belly of the ship. Felix, take the rest and work on their shields from the star board side and come around above her. Look for anything suspicious. I don’t like the look of those extenders on top of the Night Sky.”

“Do you think it could be a lather lanthe?” Felix asked.

“It’s possible, Left-tenant,” Dawkins replied with a nod. “But I’m not going to assume at this point. Be ready for anything. Begin approach, I’ll keep Commander Yenna informed of our movements.” He flicked a few switched on his cockpit console and hailed the Kestrel. “Maverick Leader One to Kestrel. Commander Yenna, we are splitting off to attack four strategic areas. I’m taking a group to attack the Night Sky’s weapons and focus along the belly of the ship. Left-tenant Felix and her group will try to divert shield power and weaken the defenses of the ship.”

“Understood, Lieutenant Colonel,” Yenna replied. Dawkins could hear the explosions as blasts hit the Kestrel over the comm link, as well as the continuous drone of the red alert klaxon. “We’ll try to draw cover fire for you. I’ll coordinate with Commander Jarin of the Osprey.”

The plan was set. Dawkins dipped his Maverick and began a run under the belly of the Kestrel, four other other fighter craft quickly following suit. As Dawkins began his run, Felix began her own, taking her Nighthawk above the Kestrel, as she and the four other pilots followed along the ship’s length as she looked for an opportune moment to attack.

As Felix was carefully observing the situation, Dawkins and his fighters began to open fire, targeting any weapons they could see. Their weapons were cycling through different phase harmonics, hoping that a few would land a hit and pass through the shields of the Night Sky. The first volley attempt was unsuccessful, but Taggart made a successful hit.

“Maverick Two to Maverick Leader One,” Taggart cried triumphantly over the communication link. “Sending all pilots the phase modulation. Put her to that frequency and we can punch a hole through her shields.”

“Well done, Taggart!” Dawkins replied with equal excitement. “All right boys, let’s punch this one and see if we can’t weaken her just a bit for the Stalkers.” The five fighters continued their assault, their weapons blasting small explosions over the hull of the massive ship.

Above the action, Felix brought her group into formation and began a run of her own over top of the Night Sky. “Nighthawk Leader One to thquadron,” she called out on her communications link. “The ship hath her thenthor array built in the upper thection of the ship. Let’th knock it out and make it harder for them to target.” Her order was met with hearty agreement from all around. Thanks to Taggart, the job was made easier once they were able to calibrate their phaser fire with the proper modulation.

As the fighter craft continued peppering the Night Sky with phaser fire, on board the Osprey, Commander Jarin was formulating a new plan of attack. The fighter squadron was quite successful, and was helping a great deal in confusing the Night Sky. But he feared that the fighter pilots would become easy targets.

“Let’s give the Midnight Squadron a bit of hand, shall we,” he said in a calm voice as he stood beside his helms officer. “Open hailing frequencies to Colonel Dawkins.” His communications officer quickly patched the Osprey to the lead fighter craft.

“Maverick Leader One here,” Dawkins said over the comm link. “Go ahead, Commander Jarin.”

“We’re going to give you some cover fire,” Jarin informed the fighter pilot. “We’ll fire in a pattern close to you but it should draw Riktar’s attention back to us. It’ll give you ample opportunity to put a massive thorn in his side.”

“Understood, Commander,” Dawkins replied. “Uploading our flight plan to you now. Dawkins out.”

“Star board turn, three point four degrees,” Jarin ordered helm control. “Weapons control, firing pattern on the wing extenders. Try and take out their engines.” Jarin smiled as his weapons control began to fire to either side of the fighter craft. “Ensign, open up hailing frequencies to the Kestrel.”

“Aye sir,” his communications officer called out. Within seconds, the voice of Yenna was acknowledging the hail.

“I’m giving cover fire to Dawkins and his men,” Jarin informed Yenna. “I only see five of the craft, and there should be ten of them.”

“I see the other five,” Yenna quickly replied. “Lieutenant Felix and her formation are breaking across the back of the Night Sky as we speak. She’s making criss cross runs attempting to take out the ship’s sensor arrays.” There was a slight pause as Jarin could hear an officer giving her a status report. “I’m going to target the Night Sky’s aft thrusters. We’ve got a good shot at hitting them right now. If we turn five point seven degrees port side, we’ll have a chance. Kept the Revenge covered between us still.”

“Excellent idea, Commander,” Jarin said with a firm nod. He and the rest of the bridge crew shook slightly as they began to feel the blast of the Night Sky’s weapons. “Oh dear. I think we made him mad.”

“I don’t think it was possible for him to become any more mad,” Yenna said with a laugh. “I’ll keep communication lines open and hail Lieutenant Felix of our plan.”

At present, Felix was guiding her group in a constant barrage of weapons fire, shifting their phase harmonics to match the changing shields of the Night Sky. Each time they found a hole, they’d report to the rest of the squadron, which Dawkins would relay back to the Osprey and the Kestrel. Felix kept her comm channel open as she directed the fighters, so it was no surprise to her when Commander Yenna hailed her.

“Nighthawk Leader One reading you loud and clear, Commander Yenna,” she replied as she banked left to begin another run over top of the Night Sky. The fighters she lead followed in near perfect precision.

“The Osprey is giving Dawkins cover fire,” Yenna informed Felix. “We’re going to do the same for you. Keep clear of the aft of the ship, we’re targeting rear thrusters.”

“Understood, Commander,” Felix replied quickly as she drove her fighter craft down for another firing run over the hull of the ship. “I’ll keep tight formation with the other fighterth.”

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Posted by on November 29, 2011 in The Barrow's Revenge, Writing


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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in randomness, Writing


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Swift Fox and the Pirates of the Jackai, Part Thirty-five

The IPF Osprey, main bridge

Commander Yenna Tal watched the main view screen carefully as she stood behind the bridge command console. Long range sensors had picked it up as they were moving into position to escort the Revenge. “Ensign,” she called out to one crew member close to her right. “Open hailing frequencies and try to contact the Night Sky.” The ensign nodded and began attempting all hails. As the ensign continued her attempts at contacting the incoming ship, Yenna opened channels to Commander Jarin and Captain Clarendale. “Commander Jarin, I assume you’ve been watching this,” she said as she seemed to glare at the ship as it grew on her view screen.

“It’s the Night Sky, alright,” Jarin replied, his voice heard by all crew throughout the bridge. “We’ve tried hailing her, but nothing as of yet.”

“As have we,” Yenna replied. “I suggest we begin defensive maneuvers. Pattern U-Drift-Alpha.” The pattern was something new, not a cadet or academy attack pattern. But instead it was one that the pair of commanders had worked on with their respective helms officers.

“Agreed,” Jarin said and could be heard issuing orders in the background. The two ships were used to such maneuvers as Stalkers were often built to have a twin, and the commanders trained to fight in tandem. “Captain Clarendale, be advised to remain on course. Do not change your heading at all. Let us deal with the Night Sky.”

“Understood, Commander Jarin,” Crena’s voice piped up over the communication channel. “If I may suggest, we can stick close to you and act as medical transport if needed. As well, the Midnight Squadron is standing by for additional support.”

“Medical support would be advisable, Captain,” Commander Yenna replied. “Have your helms officer stay in our shadow and maneuver to keep us between the Revenge and the Night Sky. As for the Midnight Squadron, get them ready, but do not launch until I give the command.”

“Understood, Commander Yenna. Captain Clarendale out.”

“This could be decidedly deadly, Commander Yenna,” Jarin stated in one of several moments where each commander gave their thoughts on a situation. Yenna and Jarin often did this, it helped bolster their confidence, the confidence of the crew, and helped them to work together like a well oiled machine. “Maybe having Dawkins’ Squadron on stand by might be a good idea, but then again they could all get slaughtered.”

“From what I know of Colonel Dawkins, he would die defending his ship and those on board,” Yenna commented. The Revenge and even the Midnight Squadron were just as well known among the Pantheran as they were among the Vulpine. “Let’s begin maneuvers, shall we.”

Commander Riktar sneered as he watched the two Stalkers begin their patented maneuver. His refusal to answer hails was signal enough for them. But Riktar did not care in the slightest. A new age was about to begin for the Pantherans, and anyone who was willing to stand in the way deserved everything they got. Riktar rose from his command chair, stood proud and called out in a loud voice to his weapons officer.

“As soon as those ships get midway through their maneuver, that should give a window of opportunity to fire on the Revenge,” he said as he pointed to those who sat at the weapons console. “Make the shot count, Lieutenant. I expect to see space trash where the Revenge once sat.” The weapons officer replied quickly, making sure to set the ship’s targeting sights. The movement of the Osprey and Kestrel was going to make it tight, both Commanders were experts at what they did, and the crews of each ship worked well together. “FIRE ENERGY CANNONS!” he bellowed and watched the view screen closely. The cannons fired and all watched as the two Stalkers continued in their maneuvers. They held their breath as the Revenge came into view for only a second. But before the energy blast could move onto it’s target, the Kestrel came into view, taking the full brunt of the blast.

The bridge became silent as everyone waited for orders. They finally came, but not with a roar, with a cool calm. “Forward shields up. Ready phaser fire. Prep the lance, but hold off on it. We’ll be a sitting duck if we end up using it. Leave that in case the battle turns ugly.” He looked out the view screen again, and added in a louder voice which conveyed the urgency of the moment. “Red alert! All hands to battle stations!”

Everything happened simultaneously on board the Kestrel; crew members grabbed hold of anything close to keep from falling as the first energy blast hit, the klaxon announcing red alert sounded out, and Commander Jarin began calling out to his stations.

“Damage report!” he called out quickly as he moved over to stand beside the weapons control, giving them quiet directions as to the best places to target the Night Sky.

“Starboard hull integrity at ninety nine point two percent, sir,” an ensign called out from ship’s diagnostic station. “Shields are holding. Transferring power to starboard shields.”

“Helm, rotate two point three degrees starboard,” Jarin said quickly as he walked with purpose to the helmsman station. “Keep the Revenge between us and the Osprey.”

“Aye, sir!” the officer stated as he punched in the commands.

“Crew status report,” Jarin called out as he punched a comm on his console that hailed sick bay directly.

“Minor injuries on decks fifteen through nineteen,” one of the sick bay nurses reported over the comm. “All injured are being transported to sick bay.”

“Weapons control, I want an even spread of energy blasts along the Night Sky’s port side,” Jarin called out as he motioned to the Night Sky on the view screen. “Aim for the thrusters. Let’s leave her dead in the water.”

“Commander,” the communications officer called out. “Incoming hail from the Osprey.”

“Patch it through,” he called out as he held firm to the command console, another volley from the Night Sky striking home.

“Commander Jarin, we’re coming around from above you,” Commander Yenna warned. “We will be firing above you.”

“Understood, Commander Yenna,” Jarin said through gritted teeth and informed her of the intended location they had their weapons targeted. “We’ve already begun targeting their thrusters.”

“Continue firing on thrusters, we’ll do the same,” Yenna replied quickly.

“Hull integrity at ninety nine point zero percent, sir,” the ensign from diagnostics called out. “Starboard shields are continuing to hold.”

“Incoming transmission from Captain Clarendale,” the communications officer called out over the noise of the surrounding chatter from other officers and incoming reports from all decks.

“Patch it through, ensign.” Jarin called out as he steadied himself on the command console. “Go ahead, Captain Clarendale.”

“Commander Jarin,” Crena announced over the comm, her voice sounding quite tense. “Midnight Squadron is ready for launch on your mark.”

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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in The Barrow's Revenge, Writing


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Swift Fox and the Pirates of the Jackai, Part Thirty-four

The IPF Night Sky

Commander Riktar sat in his command console, his attention on the priority channel communication from the Osprey filling the bridge. He let a low rumble escape his lips as he considered this news. A calculation he hadn’t considered, he may have to open fire on ships from his own fleet. Such things are sometimes to be expected when a rebellion is on the doorstep. It was time, after all, for the Pantherans to prove they were the force to be reckoned with in the system once and for all.

“Commander,” his navigation office spoke up from helm control. He left his question sit silently, awaiting for orders from Riktar.

“Keep on course,” he finally said with a low growl. “This doesn’t change anything. We still have a mission to fulfill. Each and every crew member knew this when we began, it’s the reason I hand picked everyone. Make sure to alert all decks. We will be engaging in battle when we reach the Revenge.”

“At present speed, Commander, we should intercept the Revenge in approximately five hours,” the navigation officer announced. “Should we increase speed?”

“No,” Riktar said as he sat back in his chair. “I have little doubt that the Osprey and the Kestrel will have their long range sensors sweeping the area, and if they detect our presence, they will move faster to their target. Continue on course, Ensign. The Night Sky is enough to deal with the Revenge and a couple of Stalkers.”

Midway point to the Pantheran Hub, merchant’s run

The long range sensors picked up the pair of Stalkers well before they came into visual range. Norrin tapped her claw on the console as she inspected the readings, motioning to Taffy and Griffin that both ships were running hot. That meant they had weapons systems primed and ready, and shields were fully charged. Part of her didn’t know if she should be worried or relieved that they were getting a strong escort to the Pantheran Hub.

As the ships crept closer, Norrin gave the word. “Captain. The Osprey and the Kestrel are within visual range.” Almost everyone on the bridge turned their attention to the stars above them and they watched as the imposing figures of these pair of sleek attack cruisers came into site. The two were from the same manufacturing cycle, that was clear. They both sported the typical laser lance seen on many Pantheran ships. A formidable weapon, but one that drained energy quickly. Most Pantheran commanders knew that to use the weapon meant they had no other choice. It was a last ditch attack weapon, not one for an opening salvo. The ships were both long in shape and quite narrow in width. They were built for speed, as could be seen with the dual wing stabilizers each ship had. The stabilizers had fore and aft engines built onto them for quick turning, making them perfect for fly by attack runs. The Stalker class had something else that other ships did not, that one aspect that gave the Stalkers their name.

A cloaking device. They would often enter battle cloaked, which made them perfect for patrolling the border with the Wayfarer’s Belt. For the two commanders of these particular ships, they had already recorded a combined attack rate of three ships per month since launch. That was forty Jackai ships taken down by the pair.

“Impressive ships, aren’t they, Mr. Gor’lan” Crena said to Gor’lan as they came closer and closer.

“Aye, that they are, Captain,” Lonny nodded in agreement. “Just glad that they happen ta be on our side.” The pair of ships began to go into a turn as they approached the Revenge.

“Jarin and Yenna are both faithful to the ideals of the Pantheran Central Council,” Townes said as he stepped forward. “With their approach and the knowledge throughout the entire fleet that they will be bringing us in, it means one of two things for Riktar.”

“And those are, Agent Townes?”

“Either Riktar is going to run and hide,” Townes said with a nod. “Or he’s not going to be far behind, and he’ll have his weapons hot.” Townes, Crena and Gor’lan became silent as the pair of Stalkers began their turning patterns, looking like a pair of birds of prey as they began to pull into position. As they settled into position, the crew of the Revenge got exactly a feeling for how large these ships really were. They had to be three times as long as the Revenge and four times as tall.

“Captain,” Griffin called out from the nest. “Commander Yenna is hailing us.”

“Patch her through, Mr. Griffin,” Crena replied as she straightened her jacket. Soon on her visual communications screen, the face of Yenna Fal appeared. “Good morning, Commander. A very early morning it is as well.”

“I would say so, Captain, yes,” Yenna replied with a small nod. “And good morning, Captain. We have you between us and we have coordinates set for the fastest route of transport to the Pantheran Hub. We’ll transfer those coordinates to your helms officer.”

“I’ll make sure that Miss Norrin has it patched in,” Crena said, then looked to the crow’s nest and nodded to Norrin. “We’re ready, Commander.”

“I must warn you, we are expecting some trouble,” Yenna stated with a serious tone to her voice. “Long range sensors have detected fast movement coming from the orbit of the outer most moon of Canin. We believe it’s the Night Sky, so keep your crew ready. Hopefully we don’t have a fight, but we’re expecting one. Keep the Revenge between us at all times.”

Tensions on the bridge rose as Crena began making communication orders across the bridge. “Mr. Krillis, if you and Miss Snow could report to weapons control in the engine room, please. Have Miss Snow assist Mr. Fang on the long guns, and you help Miss Talia keep the engine hot. Colonel Dawkins, have your fighters ready and prepped for launch. Mr. Griffin, keep communication lines open between the Osprey, the Kestrel and ourselves.” She flipped a few of the switches on her console and issued a ship wide announcement. “Now hear this. We are currently under escort of Commander Yenna Fal of the Osprey and Jarin Tor of the Kestrel. Commander Yenna has informed us that their long range sensors have picked up a ship that is on an intercept course with us. She believes it to be the Night Sky. We could be in for a fight, so prepare for battle stations.” Crena ended the ship wide communication link and sighed as she looked to Gor’lan and Townes. “And here I was hoping that we’d have time for a spot of tea before we arrived at the Hub. Ah well, I suppose we’ll have to wait until after this affair.”

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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in The Barrow's Revenge, Writing


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