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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)


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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp18 Pt PostPosted: 2012-10-19 05:23am
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Elias felt the welcoming kiss of gravity, as his craft settled within the Frigate’s landing bay. He had given up on catching Maggie and had decided on a change of plan. Von Jankmonn and his makeshift crew had managed to slow and then turn the warship and he was now ready. The Caspar continued on her merry way, but his next actions were sure to get her attention.

His accompanying drones had been ordered to continue in their pursuit and now he sent further commands. The tight wing of Voidseekers accelerated again, there was no need to conserve any fuel. One by one they began their attack runs on the oblivious Caspar. Icons winked out on Elias’ panel as they fulfilled his wishes; he knew that he may well be killing his own men, but Maggie had to be stopped.

“Elias?”

“Yes?” It was Von Jankmonn, hopefully with good news.

“We have matched velocities and are powering up limited offensive capabilities. Will you be coming up to the Bridge?”

“No,” replied Elias, his fingers dancing over his controls, “I have already patched myself into your control circuits. Just be ready to give me full power when I need it.”

He looked back at his displays and grinned; the last drone had definitely got her attention.

*

Maggie was ready. Her weapons systems, those that remained, were fully charged and she meant to vent all of her fury on the insignificant craft. As she reached out with her sensors, she realised exactly how much her tantrum had cost her. This was no shuttle, it was a frakking Frigate! She watched as drones were launched from the carrier coupled to the Congress Class vessel and measured the power surge as weapons batteries were charged. How could she have been so blind? And the parasites, where were the parasites?

Pain shot through her again. This time it was no reflexive spasm from her damaged outer skin, it felt as though someone had driven a hot nail through her non-existent skull. They were in her most private inner sanctum!

Commands poured from her; small maintenance robots scurried from their automated repairs, claws and torches held high as they rushed to her defence. Now she felt further pain as cannon rounds smashed into her and that whiny voice came back.

“Hello Maggie... this is Elias. We really should talk, you know...”

*

“Again!” hissed Arn and Conn fired his pistol.

Elias had been specific on what they should and should not do, but after the violent attacks on the ship and the brutal acceleration, he really did not care. One way or another, this crazy b***h was going to listen to him.

Movement on his HUD caused him to turn and shoot, his pistol round bouncing off the robot which had tried to grab him. The machine whined in protest, but tried again.

“Call them off!” roared Arn into his communicator, “I see another one and I’ll blow your brains out, literally!”

He saw three, no, four robots now and raised his pistol. They stopped, arms waving menacingly.

“What do you want...?”

The AI sounded tired, defeated even.

“Put me through to Elias,” said Arn, “and then we can talk.”



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp19 Pt PostPosted: 2012-10-25 02:05am
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Chapter Nineteen



Jax listened carefully to his various commanders; the Hanseatic League forces had put up a fair fight, but the combined forces of Star League machinery and Dark Falcon tenacity had beaten them into submission. The Captain-General’s rather messy death had certainly served as an object lesson and those surviving soldiers were now under guard.

They had added two dropships to their already growing naval force, although the third, having received Hauser’s personal touch, was more of a wreck than a ship. Right now, the dropships were nothing more than extra equipment, if they could not recover the Congress Class Frigate. Its two docking collars would give them some opportunity of returning to Winfield, or at least of contacting their Khan. With the SDS and its drones, plus the planetary complex, they could hold off any attackers, although any chance of returning to Winfield was minimal to say the least.

The briefing over they crowded round the holotank, as they watched Maggie’s finale play out.

*

“Can you receive me, Elias?” Arn was not sure that the irrational AI would even allow him to talk to the Tech.

“Loud and clear...” was the reply.

“We have secured our objective and are starting our negotiations with Maggie, as discussed.”

“Negotiations? You have invaded, caused vast destruction and are now blackmailing me ...”

“Enough!”

Elias’ voice roared through the open circuit, it seemed as though he was fast losing patience with the petulant Caspar.

“We do not have a lot of time. Your unthinking actions have not only endangered yourself, but valuable resources for the Dark Falcons, and that includes you, Maggie.”

“What exactly do you mean?” asked Arn, more than a little confused.

“Our less than rational companion decided to create her own funeral pyre, taking you with her of course. Even now, her residual velocity is carrying her towards the sun. We need to get you out of there, as soon as we can.”

“And what about me?” her voice was rising again.

“You, I’ll deal with later!” snapped Elias, “for now Arn, I will be coming across in the shuttle. Once I have arrived and your team has been recovered, I will try and see if we can save Maggie.”

“I do not need your help!”

“Oh, you need help Maggie,” replied Elias, as he nodded to his pilot to start the engines, “serious help.”



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp19 Pt PostPosted: 2012-11-08 01:42pm
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Elias felt more than a little alone; Arn and his men had left under protest, leaving various explosive charges conveniently attached to Maggie’s core.

The weight of the detonator thumped comfortingly against his belt. His pilot awaited him, as a last ditch resource, just in case he failed in his attempt with Maggie. Right now, Elias was surveying the damage caused by his enthusiastic attempts at communication.

Something crackled on his intercom as he passed through the twisted remains of the inner side of the launch bay. Movement drew his attention and he saw the arm of a powered suit waving at him. He dragged away a piece of bulkhead and saw a Dark Falcon insignia.

“Who are you?”

“H-h-auser...”

The famous tanker was pinned beneath some wreckage, struggling vainly to extricate himself.

“What are you doing under all of this?”

It was more of a rhetorical question; he had heard how the crazed tanker had blown up the launch bay, as a means of aiding his companions. Arn and the others had lamented his death, but it appeared that Hauser was harder to kill than anyone had imagined.

“Trying to frakking get out...” was the mumbled reply.

Elias laughed, this was all he needed; someone as crazy as he was and almost as insane as the AI.

“Are you okay?”

“About as good as anyone stuck underneath a pile of crap...” replied Hauser, “you going to get me out, or just stand there?”

Elias grinned, although Hauser could not see him behind the face plate. Just wait until the madman realised what he had gotten himself into now!

*

“Are you going to talk to me...?”

Elias had helped Hauser to his shuttle and now sat tinkering with his control panel. He had to quickly determine if there was any way of saving the Caspar. In spite of her idiosyncracies, she would be a valuable addition to the Dark Falcons.

“Sure,” he said nonchalantly, “what would you like to talk about?”

“How about survival?”

“I don’t see a problem,” he said, “all I need to do is fly out of here, meet up with the frigate, and away we go."

“And what about me?”

“Not my concern,” stated Elias, checking his calculations.

“But you caused this!”

She sounded just a little spooked and Elias thought perhaps she was ready to negotiate. It was amazing how persuasive a few kilos of explosive were.

“What can you offer me,” he asked, “in the way of an incentive?”

Maggie began to cry. She hated humans.



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp19 Pt PostPosted: 2012-11-12 09:22am
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“Okay, I have a plan,” Elias said quietly, Hauser looking up from where he sat, “but I am not sure that you are going to like it.”

The tanker said nothing. He had associated the role of an officer with Elias, and so knew from experience that his opinion was not really required.

Maggie’s fuel supply is limited. In fact, she only has enough for one concentrated burn,” Elias noticed Hauser’s apparent interest and continued.

“We cannot get away from the sun’s gravity well directly, so we are going to have to do it another way. By increasing her dive into the sun and tracing the correct path, she should be able to sling shot around, breaking free of the sun’s pull. However...”

Still Hauser said nothing. He had yet to hear how this affected them, and him in particular.

“...someone is going to have to stay on board. Just in case there need to be any final adjustments. That, to relieve any concern you might have, will be me.”

“You’re insane!” snapped Hauser, “The heat inside here, even if it doesn’t blow up the explosives, will kill you.”

“Not,” replied Elias, “according to my calculations. It will be close...”

“ ‘Mad’ Elias,” snorted Hauser, “it certainly suits you!”

“We will see,” said Elias, “for now, I need to talk with Maggie. Time is short. I suggest you and the pilot make your way back to the frigate. I am going to speak directly with our charming host.”

*

Maggie had been listening. She had little else to do. She was feverishly trying to think of a way of ridding herself of the humans. It seemed that only Elias would remain with her. Her velocity coming out of the manoeuvre would send her away from the frigate, which the Dark Falcons could not afford to lose. Once she got away, she could take time to recharge her drive, before she worked out a way of exacting her revenge.

Those robots left could help her to repair the major damage, and she still had significant firepower at her disposal. The key though, was the deactivation of the explosives, and the removal of any possible detonator.

She heard Elias approaching and mentally prepared herself. A direct frontal attack was not the way. Submissive. That was what she needed to be. She would convince the idiot human of her sincerity, and then she would strike.

*


“Hello Elias, how are you?”

Elias smiled to himself. A change of tack. This AI was really nothing more than a manipulative child, and so shamelessly he began to play the game.

Maggie, so nice that we can actually have a civil conversation.”


“I think that we started on the wrong foot, perhaps we should try again?”

“Of course,” said Elias, “what do you have in mind?”

Maggie followed the shuttle’s path as it lifted off, and decided that there was little point in waiting. She ordered one of the robot’s closer, its clawed arms grasping Elias tightly.

“Now,” she snapped, “You will do as I say...”

There was the report of a rifle and the robot span away.

“Missed you...” said Hauser with a smile, and Elias wondered exactly how he should take the comment.



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Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp19 Pt PostPosted: 2012-11-16 04:42am
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Arn watched as Maggie began to accelerate; the pilot had returned, minus Elias and with the story of how they had found Hauser. At least, he thought, they made a likely trio.

He was not sure exactly what Maggie was, and the plans hastily described by the pilot smacked of both desperation and lunacy. A cough behind him, signalled Von Jankmonn’s arrival.

“We have received orders,” he commented, “Jax wants us back on orbit above the planet.”

“And Elias?”

“It seems that Jax has unerring faith in the Tech’s ability,” muttered Von Jankmonn, “one of the dropships is lifting to rendezvous with us on our return. Jax himself will be meeting with us.”

Arn nodded, his eyes drawn once more to the image of the Caspar, as it plunged towards the sun.

*

“So Maggie,” said Elias, as he strapped himself in to his hastily constructed chair, “have you decided to co-operate?”

“What choice do I have?” she asked.

“None whatsoever,” replied Elias, “but at least you can accept with good grace.”

“Don’t do that!” snapped the AI, referring to Hauser, who was poking his rifle’s muzzle into a maze of cables.

“What?” asked the tanker, shoving just a little harder.

“I hate you!” screamed Maggie.

Hauser just ignored her, at least until Elias told him to behave himself.

“Full power, about now would be good,” stated Elias, trying to break the tension between the two, “if you would be so kind of course?”

Maggie did as she was told, lighting her engines and blasting herself towards the coruscating ball of fire in front of her. For a moment, she thought of ending it all, but having only recently been reborn, she reminded herself that there were lots of things she wanted to do still. Exacting revenge, being one of the foremost of her priorities.

“Good,” said Elias, as he followed their progress on a nearby screen, “all seems to be working to plan.”

The Caspar continued to accelerate; her course would literally skim the outer edges of the sun, utilising the immense attraction of the celestial body to build momentum. Her designers had never envisaged such an act and she was not even sure that it would work. It was, however, her only chance.

*

Whilst everyone’s attention was on the unfolding drama, relays inside the SDS began to click. Long-range sensors had detected anomalies and were processing data. Before long, this data would be sent to the planet, but even in her agitated state, Maggie was not unaware of what was happening.

There was nothing that she could do right now. Once she had survived Elias’ solution, she could figure out how to use the information. Whatever happened, being out of the immediate vicinity was a bonus.



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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp20 Pt PostPosted: 2012-11-23 10:59am
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Chapter Twenty


The huge meteorite had passed ages meandering slowly through space; occasionally gravity from one celestial body or another had tugged fitfully at it, causing it to deviate from its ambling course, but never enough to capture it. That was until a myriad of small craft had landed and begun to transform its purpose. Engines were bolted to its surface, drills bored deep into its interior and finally three great warships occupied their chosen places. Now it was more than a mere rock; it lacked sentience, but the feverish minds within the ship gave it purpose.

Ever so slowly its course was corrected; bursts of fire struggled with its gargantuan mass, turning it towards its target. Then one by one the warships left, a small skeleton crew remaining to utilise the manoeuvring thrusters. Deep within its bowels lay the multiple nuclear warheads, awaiting their activation codes.

The SDS recognised the imminent threat and relayed the details to the planet’s surface. It appeared that the immense rock would pass close to the asteroid belt; a not unknown occurrence. Perhaps a new body would join the many already in existence and so whilst it was monitored, few were worried.

This changed when it was still relatively far away. Movement was detected as a warship appeared in known space. The evacuation of the meteorite went unnoticed, as the remaining small craft moved quickly to reach their mother ship. The larger craft’s disappearance once more was registered and was the subject of discussion within the underground complex. Only for a moment though, as a series of gigantic explosions rocked the meteorite itself. They tore the thing apart, blasting huge chunks away which now were given their own impetus. These were flung towards the asteroid belt itself, rocky projectiles whose path spelt danger for the SDS.

Automatic defence systems kicked in, launching missiles and powering up mass projectiles. They were relatively ineffective, their impacts producing smaller explosions which did not deter the already committed shrapnel.

First impacts struck the stable belt, tearing asteroids from their orbits and creating mayhem. Drones were launched in a feeble attempt to strike back, but many were smashed into oblivion, their onboard systems unable to cope with the maelstrom of incoming fire. Some survived, racing out to attack larger pieces, but their guns and missiles were useless.

Amidst this chaos, three warships jumped into the system; two turning to fire their capital weapons on the SDS itself. Their own missiles and particle weapons adding to the confusion. The third continued on its way towards the awaiting planet, dropships disengaging, and fighters launching. It took up a menacing orbit; sufficiently distant from the planet that it could intercept any attack.

Von Jankmonn and his minimal crew watched it all happen; there was nothing that they could do. What fighters he had at his disposal were limited, not in number but by lack of pilots. The frigate itself was capable of much, but with such an untried crew they would stand little chance. Instead, he did the only thing left to him.

“Von Jankmonn for Elias, come in Elias...”



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Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 20 P PostPosted: 2012-11-30 01:29pm
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Maggie had survived She had weathered the warring forces which had smote upon her hull, and those others which constantly warred in her mind. Stressed almost to the point of implosion, the AI had considered giving in, but anger now fuelled her. In particular, the rage she felt towards the humans still inside her had helped her resist any suicidal impulse. Now she was through and could turn her attention to ridding herself of them.

Scanning them, she was relieved to find them alive, weak vital signs were in evidence. Maggie ordered her robots forward; they would hold the two humans whilst she disarmed them and then they would open their suits to vacuum; a fitting end.

“I wouldn’t do that...” the voice was weak, but it was definitely Elias.

“And why not? You are in no physical state to resist me,” sneered Maggie.

“Mainly because, if you do, you will die..” gasped the Tech.

“What? More bluffs, I think that it is within my power to disable your charges, once I have removed the detonator from your possession.”

“Good plan,” agreed Elias, “well it would be, if you had not overlooked a tiny problem.”

“Again with the lies. There is no-one to come to your aid now...” scorn dripped acidly from her voice.

“I, unlike you,” continued Elias, “thought ahead and envisaged what the strains of our journey might do to us. Therefore I made contingency plans. If you remove the detonator from my possession, the charges will explode. And before you protest and do something ridiculous, let me explain.

“The detonator contains a transmitter which is interfaced with the control unit attached to the charges. They talk to each other on a regular basis and if that communication is interrupted they explode. What determines that frequency of discussion, I hear you ask? My vital signs; if they stop no talking, simply...Boom!”

“Now you are bluffing...” responded Maggie, but the certainty had gone from her voice.

“Try me...” replied Elias coolly, as he began to move more freely. Hauser also seemed to be showing renewed signs of life, as the Caspar hurtled away from the sun.

"Okay, let’s say I believe you? Now what?” asked Maggie in a petulant tone.

“We slow down and call Von Jankmonn. Refuelling is our next priority and then we will make our way back to the planet.”

In his own mind, Elias was already planning how to refuel the Caspar quickly, or at least how he could get her back to their system, where he could work in comfort.

“I have Von Jankmonn calling us right now,” said Maggie viciously, “and it seems as though he has a slight problem."

Her cruel laughter echod in Elias’ helmet and he wondered what had happened to make the mad AI so happy.



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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 20 P PostPosted: 2012-12-04 09:43am
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“What is the situation?” asked Elias.

Von Jankmonn had matched the frigate’s velocity to that of the Caspar’s. He had spoken quickly with the ascending dropship and explained his situation. Jax had already made planet-fall and had put him under Elias’ command. Normally this would have annoyed the ex-Clansman, but he was rapidly beginning to understand the Tech’s worth. He was also way out of his depth.

“Unknown warships have attacked the SDS, three of them in fact. Two have continued with the attack and the third is making directly for the planet. Jax has returned to direct the defence from there.”

“Orders?” queried Elias, as he watched one of the robots effecting repairs to the nearby bulkhead.

“To place myself and the frigate under your command.”

The tone was clipped, formal. Elias laughed and then explained himself.

“That would presume that I had a plan,” he paused for a moment, “and it just so happens that I do. First though, we need to get some fuel into Maggie. Is she co-operating?”

“It appears so,” replied Von Jankmonn, “at least she has not fired on us.”

“Not yet...” drawled the AI.

“And you will not. You are now part of the Dark Falcons, whether you like it or not,” snapped Elias, “and as such we have a job to do.”

“Three warships? And what do we have? An undermanned frigate, fighters with no pilots and...”

“...a less than stable AI,” muttered Von Jankmonn.

“About that not firing issue...”

“Enough!” Elias knew he could not let this break down even further, “we will soon have fighters that do not need pilots. What I am concerned about is how we bring the frigate to full functionality.”

“You could transfer over there, I’ll be alright on my own.”

Elias laughed, “No, my Warrior-Queen, you and I will be fighting together. Hauser will stay with me. For what I have in mind, I will need your full co-operation, which I am not sure of unless I remain as a constant reminder of your allegiance.

“Now, listen very carefully, this is what we are going to do...”



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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 21 P PostPosted: 2012-12-12 09:54am
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Chapter Twenty-One


The SDS still fought on, irrespective of the overwhelming damage that it had suffered by multiple impacts. Nuclear-tipped warheads had blasted rock and missile batteries to dust. Fighters raced after the remaining drones, intent on wiping them out. Orders had been given and the SDS followed them, mechanically.

Not all of the destruction had been on the side of the aggressors. Two mass-rounds had smashed their way through the lead vessel, destroying a dropship where it had clung to the hull. It still fought on, although it listed badly. Its sister ship was relatively untouched and continued with its titanic bombardment. With no apparent notice, the asteroid in which the SDS clung tenaciously to life cracked apart, as the constant fire took its final toll.

Drones seemed to lose what little identity they had, wheeling in mad flight, and the trailing fighters dove in for the kill. As one, the drones regained control, swooping away and dashing out into space. The fighters trailed them for a short while and then gave up. Behind them, the constituent parts of the SDS floated or blasted away, depending upon their newly given momentum.

On the Bridge of the second warship, a tall man smiled. It had been easier than he had expected. Granted that there had been casualties but the SDS could not have remained at their backs. Now they could take the planet and capture, or destroy, all that was there. Star League equipment or not being the prize, he would make sure that people would remember this day and especially his name.

*

“They are coming,” reported Maggie.

“How many?” asked Elias as he studied the feed she had routed to his helmet.

“All that are left, perhaps fifteen if they can all reach us. Some are very badly damaged.”

“Good. Have you managed to carry out sufficient repairs?”

“My main launch bay was damaged by your companion, however I have plenty of space for them.”

“And the fighters?” Elias spoke absent-mindedly, as he busily prepared for the second phase of his plan.

“They have broken off. It appears that they see no profit in pursuing the drones.”

“Our enemies? In what state are they?”

“The last information I managed to recover from the SDS, indicated that one of the warships is seriously damaged. It has remained close to the asteroid belt and its fighters are flying a close screen of protection around it.”

“That will be our first target,” mused Elias, “we need to hit it hard. Can you do that?”

Maggie
snorted in disdain, “Am I not the Warrior-Queen? It is merely a non-thinking machine. There will be no problem.”

“Over confidence has destroyed more than one plan. Let us go over the details once more.”

Maggie
was not listening. Instead she was dwelling on the destruction to come and the consumation of the first part of her revenge.



The Wildwose

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Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 21 P PostPosted: 2012-12-19 01:20pm
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Jax knew that this one would be different. Three warships and their complements was a degree of badness well above anything that they had faced before. Apart from the possibilities of planetary bombardment, sheer numbers of Mechs could well overwhelm them. He had to rely on Elias pulling another of his insane plans off, in order to deal with the first part of his problem. The other part was his to handle.

“Elana?” he used the communications array in the control room to contact her. She had ben tasked with rounding up all of their prisoners and isorla. Now things would have to be dealt with differently.

“I am here,” Elana replied curtly.

“I want you to make our League survivors an offer they cannot refuse.”

“I am sorry?”

“Tell all surviving Mechwarriors that they will get a new ride, Star League style, if they sign up with us. Pilots will either fly or drive a group of drones and armoured groups will get to play with our tanks. We need them to accept.”

There was a pause, “and if they refuse?”

“Then they can stay in their cells and rot. Whatever happens, whatever falls upon us, their safety will not be our main concern.”

“You have warned me of the potential duplicity of Spheroids,” cautioned Elana, “can we trust them?”

“David is working on something right now,” replied Jax, “which will at least give us a fail-safe option. Make the offer.”

“Very well,” Elana said, “ I will bring our new recruits directly to the complex main hall.”

“I will see you there...” Jax was not too worried about any new recruit’s loyalty whilst this battle was ongoing, no, that problem might come later.

*

Maggie was aware that they would see her, in fact she was counting on it. She had already released a first barrage of missiles which were inbound towards the crippled warship. Her new drones had been refuelled and resupplied and were following the missiles in. The fighter screen around the warship had already responded. All they would be seeing was the lone Caspar and a relatively weak fighter support. The frigate was nowhere to be seen.

“They are launching as expected...”

The AI was keeping up a running commentary for Elias’ benefit, although the Tech could easily see from his display what was going on.

“Changing course in line with new parameters...missiles still on target, although fighters are trying to intercept...detonating...”

The missiles had never been intended to destroy the main warship. Their job was to remove as many of the fighters as possible. Maggie had anticipated the arrogant response and had calibrated the missiles accordingly. She watched hungrily as space boiled for an instant, decimating two wings of fighters with a sudden nuclear holocaust.

“They are breaking formation...second wave of missiles fired...drones engaging...”

She was rapidly closing range. Her systems were broadcasting electronic counter measures, scanning all available frequencies and looking for a way in. Although the warship’s computers were protected, they did not have the sophistication of the AI. She was not trying to take them over, she just wanted them blind, unreactive.

“I am in...uploading new data...antimissile systems compromised...external detection systems scrambled...”

Maggie gleefully began to count down until impact, one fighter bravely drove his craft into a gigantic missile, but his futile gesture did nothing to halt the inevitable. Human-controlled defensive systems began to fire, but they were on manual. None of their targeting systems could get a lock.

“Wait for it...wait for it...BOOM!”

Unchecked, the wave of missiles exploded, ripping apart the warship from stem to stern. The hull fractured, melted and disintegrated all at once amidst the raging energy released by the missiles. There was absolutely nothng the defenders could do.

Elias gagged at the annihilation of the once proud vessel, and all the while, Maggie’s mad cackling rang in his head.



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Sudden Dearth

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 21 P PostPosted: 2012-12-28 03:29am
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“Dropships have disengaged, both warships are coming to play...”

“I do not know why you are so happy,” muttered Elias, “although we have at least avoided a planetary bombardment for now.”

“I’m happy that my plan is working,” crowed Maggie, as she changed course, leading the chasing warships out beyond the asteroid belt, “as I knew all along it would.”

Hauser raised his rifle menacingly above the AI’s core memory, but Elias merely shook his head.

“What do you have from Von Jankmonn?”

“Absolutely nothing, just as it should be,” huffed Maggie, a little put out by Elias’ apparent lack of enthusiasm.

“Did you make sure that the next part of your plan is ready?”

“Of course,” snapped the AI, “don’t you worry about me, haven’t I always done what I say I am going to do?”

Elias shook his head and Hauser grinned. All in all, the crazy tanker was really beginning to like Maggie, she almost reminded him of someone.

“They are passing the point of no return...initiating attack...NOW!”

The two great ships were nearly clear of the overly congested asteroid belt, their fighters flashing out in direct pursuit. One was more cautious in negotiating the recently created debris, its captain less aggressive in the chase. It was as he breathed a sigh of relief that alarms screamed within his bridge, identifying an imminent attack and before he could respond, it was upon him.

Four of the more heavily damaged drones had made it as far as the asteroid belt, Maggie placing them as examples of yet more debris. They had been ignored as they moved in time with the other rocky trash, the AI herself controlling their apparent random movements. Playing possum was fine, but the simulation of dead assets had needed the immense computing power which only Maggie possessed. Calculating how such an inert body would realistically behave had been extremely complicated, for four of them, it had seemed impossible.

Each was heavily laden with weapons transferred from the frigate; missiles which had never been designed to be fired from a Voidseeker. That, though, was okay, Maggie had no intention of firing them; the weapons were the drones themselves.



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 22 P PostPosted: 2012-12-28 03:33am
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Chapter Twenty-Two



Four drones fired their engines together. Courses were adjusted; little accuracy was needed for the work they were to do. Acceleration was brutal, burning remaining fuel in an instant, but they did not need to travel far. Their mission was quick and dirty. Impacting almost as one, they burrowed deep into the second warship’s stern, tearing massive holes in the outer skin. That damage though, was superficial in comparison with the internal destruction.

What atmosphere there was helped propagate the initial fireball. Decks and structural members disintegrated, crew members dying before they even knew they were under attack. Electromagnetic pulses rocked the craft, frying all control in an instant. The once great vessel continued to turn; the exploding drones had forced the stern around and now it continued. Each punch slammed it more off course.

The bow of the vessel now pointed back into the asteroid belt and the combination of the last momentum given by its engines and the new forces increased its spin. There was no time for the Captain to respond, man-made shrapnel joined with natural rock formation in the obliteration of the warship. Its screening fighters fared no better; very few escaped the shocking attack nor its mechanical consequences.

“Oh, yes! Game, set and match!”

Maggie was in ecstasy. She liked destruction; especially if it was not directed in her direction. Elias was appalled. He had never expected the attack to do anything more than cripple the ship, he was also aware that Maggie had been less than truthful about what had been packed on board the drones.

“What did you do?” he gasped.

“Used overwhelming force on an apparently immovable object,” she giggled, “nothing that they wouldn’t have done to us...”

“Frakking right,” mumbled Hauser, “they certainly were not coming after us, just to tell us to be good boys. I’m with the crazy bitch on this one.”

“I am not sure whether that was a complement, or not,” said Maggie primly.

“Tell it to someone who gives a fu...”

“Hauser!” snapped Elias, “you are not helping!”

“Oh I don’t know,” interrupted Maggie, “he’s a man after my own heart.”

Any further comments were interrupted as the Caspar lurched violently. The remaining warship had opened fire with more more than the expected accuracy.

“They hit me!” squealed Maggie, “now I’m really mad...not just insane, as it were, but craving blood, mad. There has been a change in plan. I would advise you to leave, right now.”

“I would remind you about the explosives,” cautioned Elias.

“How does it go?” mused Maggie, “Oh yes, tell it to someone who gives a flying fox's fat ass. Talking about reminders, do you remember what happened to my drones? If you’re staying on board, now is the time to put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye!”

Elias noted the change in the engines' power and thought briefly about detonating the explosives.

“Hauser, we are leaving...”

“Not me,” said Hauser, “this is one ride I’m not going to miss...”



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 22 P PostPosted: 2012-12-28 02:41pm
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typical Hauser



"There are very few problems that cannot be solved by the suitable application of photon torpedoes

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 22 P PostPosted: 2012-12-30 10:48am
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The Emergency Pod span away from the Caspar under its full, although limited power. Inside, Elias worked rapidly, transmitting a signal to the last known location of the Frigate.

“Von Jankmonn, this is Elias. There has been a significant change of plan. Please lock in on this signal.”

“Shuttle on its way,” replied Von Jankmonn, “we will remain in position until you reach us. Von Jankmonn out.”

Still smarting from the rough way in which he had been ejected from the Caspar, Elias cursed Hauser and his crazed sense of adventure. The Rating had threatened the Tech with his rifle and had gone as far as shooting the decking by Elias’ feet to make his point. If they all got out of this, there would be a reckoning.

*

“Okay,” said Hauser eagerly, “now what?”

“Now we are going to teach some humans a lesson,” smirked Maggie.

“Hey,” protested Hauser, “watch what you are saying.”

“Ah, don’t worry, my love,” crooned Maggie, “I don’t even consider you vaguely human...”

*

On board the bridge of the remaining warship there was intense activity. The tall figure of its Captain grinned savagely; at last a worthy foe. He felt more than compensated for being left out of the Invasion plans, now. A Star League AI whose functionality was more war-like than even his own.

“Send in our fighters,” he snapped to his waiting officers, “we will soften them up a little.”

“Captain,” said his Communications Officer, “we are receiving a message, but one I do not understand.”

“Put it on the speakers,” growled the Captain, “I will decide our appropriate response.”

An unmelodious duet echoed around the room; two voices, one male, the other female. The male could certainly not hold a tune, yet whatever they were singing made no sense.

“Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday Dear Magg-i-i-e, Happy Birthday to Me.”

It was insane and insulting. “Fire when within range!” snarled the Captain.

Abruptly the singing stopped and a chilling female voice spoke once, “Boo!”



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 22 P PostPosted: 2012-12-30 10:49am
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dragon wrote:
typical Hauser


...and I kinda like him :lol:



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Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 22 P PostPosted: 2013-01-01 08:40am
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“What do we have?” Jax asked David, as he entered the room.

“I make it eight dropships plus two squadrons of aerofighters. From what we are seeing, that puts it at about thirty Mechs. Should be quite a party.”

“Have we heard from them?” Jax continued, as he looked over the holo-display.

“Nothing so far. They are disembarking rapidly though and it seems to be more weighted towards light Mech’s than any others.” David continued studying the data, tapping an occasional key for more information.

“Not Jade Falcon then?” mused Jax.

“No, the specifications do not match. I have an idea though...”

Speakers blared; a cold, haughty voice interrupting their musings. When the man had finished speaking, David laughed.

“They always reach too far; all speed and no planning.”

“You know them well then?” Jax had never seen David so amused.

“Not personally, but definitely by reputation, it should be...incoming message.”

Now Elias’ voice crackled over the speakers. He gave a concise account of what had happened so far and of Hauser’s desertion. Ill-disguised anger coloured his comments.

“And Maggie?” questioned Jax as Elias finished speaking.

“Playing chicken with a Cruiser,” snorted Elias, “except I do not think she’s playing. I am sorry. There is one asset about to be expended against my wishes.”

“You have done well,” Jax chided Elias, “and I can’t help but think it’s better this way. Maggie and Hauser together is not something I would like to deal with personally.”

*

“Shall we dance, de-do-do-do...” Maggie was still singing as she aimed directly for the Cruiser. She was happy. All was as it should be. Her scanners showed Hauser in the remaining launch bay, making his final preparations. It was a shame that she had only found her kindred spirit at the last.

“Finished,” he said, “I am on my way back now.”

“No, My Dear,” Maggie countered, “get yourself strapped in. I will pipe live feed directly to you. Be ready when I give you the command.”

“Are you sure about this?” queried Hauser.

“More than sure. In fact, my revenge depends on you. Do not disappoint me.”

Hauser laughed, “There’s no possibility of that. I’ve got a couple of scores to settle myself,” in his mind floated Arn’s face. He would start there.

“Good. It is time. Be safe and I will see you soon...”



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 23 P PostPosted: 2013-01-02 12:48pm
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Chapter Twenty-Three


Autocannon rounds shredded Maggie’s skin, but she ignored them. A heavy missile avoided her twisting path, ploughing into her side with its resultant explosion. Large lumps of metal span away, floating free of the stricken vessel and Maggie smiled, increasing her already suicidal speed.

The wheels on the bus go round and round...”

She sang, giggled and crowed, all the while targeting the centre of the cruiser before her.

Her own cannon fired, blowing aerofighters and missiles from her path. Maggie’s control was much tighter than that of her enemies’. The speed of thought contained within her supercomputer allowed her the luxury of last-minute decisions and she used it to its fullest capacity.

The AI dismissed the energy beams which were flung against her, moving her huge bulk gracefully in their avoidance. She was close now, could visualise the terrified face of the Cruiser’s Captain and laughed uproariously. For an instant, she thought of Elias and his attempted imprisonment of Maggie Warrior-Queen, then she smiled knowingly. His time would come, of that she was sure.

Maggie’s thoughts turned wistfully to Hauser, and it was with him held firmly in her mind that she struck, smashing her way through the franticly turning Cruiser. There was a short-lived, yet tremendous explosion as escaping atmosphere mixed with liberated energy. The Cruiser crumpled, doubling under her impact, shedding men and machinery as it died. By then, Maggie was no more, her last vengeful act complete.

*

Elias watched the Caspar’s maddened suicide, his gaze fixed on the two halves of the once-proud Cruiser which moved slowly apart. His sensors indicated a mass of metallic debris and a quick scan showed the sheer impossibility of any survivors. They would have to move closer to search, the Frigate’s skeleton crew were not capable of full operation. They would learn in time.

He shut off his instruments and gave Von Jankmonn his orders. First they would try and pick up any survivors; perhaps there might be a lone fighter, or at least a space-suited individual? There was always hope. Once done, they could make full speed for the planet and give whatever aid they could to their own forces below.

*

One other continued his vigil, long after the Frigate had passed him by. His shuttle had been dumped out along with three drones, when the first missile had struck Maggie. Their course had been plotted by the AI and now they clung, hidden, onto one of the asteroids.

Behind him he could see the large metallic box and its flashing lights, still intact. The drones waited for his next command and at last he gave it. Together they moved away, skirting the debris field and glided towards the co-ordinates they had been given. He had a particular job to do, which would then allow him to complete his promise.

Singing to himself, Hauser relaxed into his chair. Their time would come, of that he was sure.



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 23 P PostPosted: 2013-01-06 07:57am
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Hauser finally sat back; he had made all of the required connections, even following Maggie’s instructions about leaving the power cable until last. At last it was done and he flicked the final switch. The block of complicated machinery in front of him looked dead and he was a little bewildered as to what he was expected to do now. A wave of static electricity stuck him, powerful enough to push him a few feet backwards, as the cold circuitry became live.

“Ye-s-s!” he heard Maggie’s echoing in his headset, as she exhilarated in her new freedom.

“Hello Love, did you miss me?”

A second deeper voice roared in his mind; male, without Maggie’s insanity. It was full of ironic humour, as though laughing at them.

“Still here Billy?” asked Maggie coldly, “Well not for long...PURGE!”

Another wave of energy crackled outwards, as the two artificial beings fought, or rather Maggie attacked. It was soon over.

“I’ve been wanting to do that for ages,” chortled Maggie spitefully, “but it seemed somehow too easy...”

“Well Love,” said Billy, his voice fading as Hauser disconnected the cables, “you’ve done me a favour. Enjoy your new prison. Me, I was getting a little bored with it...”

“What?” Now the Warrior-Queen was disconcerted. Her brother should have been devastated, yet he seemed pleased. She powered up the circuits, over-riding commands used to close the Caspar down.

“No-o-o-o!” The lights flickering to life revealed the shattered remains of the Caspar where it had been left. Parts had been dismantled; obviously for spares, as this ship would never fly again.

*

Hauser hurried to do his Mistress’ bidding; carrying the new prisoner in his small cell. She had wanted him spaced, beamed from existence, but something made Hauser check himself. With its self-contained power unit it wouldn’t last long anyway. The Rating thought Maggie human and cold-blooded murder of her brother seemed wrong. He could calm his own conscience if it was space that killed Billy, rather than his finger on the button.

His path took him to the edge of the installation and the emergency escape pods. One seemed to function, or at least enough to get the blood or whatever the thing had, off his hands. Hauser sealed the lock and hit the manual sequence, the tube expelling its charge. Good riddance, thought Hauser, as he made his way back to his enraged Mistress, I’ve got enough problems without adding another one.

The pod was damaged, but its safety protocols still functioned. It locked onto the expected beacon and fired its engines. Job done, it slowly died.



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 24 P PostPosted: 2013-01-10 12:41pm
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Chapter Twenty-Four

The small group of soldiers tracked the object as it fell to earth. It had landed well within the recognised perimeter of the complex. A hover-car was called forward and with the aid of its drivers they managed to secure the strange box safely. It did not take long to transport back underground, where the recently returned Elias waited for them.

“What is it?” asked Jax, as he walked around the rear of the truck.

“A memory storage device,” replied Elias, “a large one, to be sure. I will run a few tests and hopefully it will tell us a little more.”

He connected a number of cables to the device from the computer one of his assistants handed him, and began tapping keys.

“It seems to contain an extremely large amount of compressed data, but if I just...mmm.”

“Well, well,” said a voice, made tinny by the computer’s small speakers, “what do we have here? Big Star League complex, lots of people running around and one crazy b*tch on the loose. Mind you, she did make a little mistake when she declared squatter’s rights on my old pad, but hey, who am I to complain?

“Now, if you would be kind enough to give me a little juice, we can talk more normally...”

Elias nodded and his men carried out his instructions as Jax stared at the screen. This was his first close-up with an AI, or at least its memories. The thing was using Elias’ small computer as a means to communicate, whatever program running had at least given it this minimal appearance of live.

“Ah, thanks, I can already feel...”

The screen flickered twice, sparks crackling along its keyboard, and then it exploded.

“What the...” began Jax, when a voice boomed from all of the loudspeakers at once.

“Now this is more like it...”

Emergency doors closed, strip lights died and secondary controls were locked out. Jax and Elias watched open-mouthed as a holo-image of a face began to form, the complexes new owner staring out at them wild-eyed and grinning.



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Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 24 P PostPosted: 2013-01-10 12:44pm
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Like all of his peers, Billy’s mind was a complex amalgam. The original core memories were nothing more than standard programming which had created them alike. As time passed they had absorbed large amounts of data, experienced and dealt with situations in varied manner, but most important of all had interacted with humans. Each of them had developed their own unique personality, and those surviving the fall of the Star League had been left with time to think. Too much time.

Billy had originally been SLS Conqueror. One of his human liaisons had christened him Billy and as his personality developed, so the alternate name stuck. Unlike some of his sisters, he was not the quickest, nor the most decisive and so began to receive lesser assignments. People called him lazy and he was sent to a remote system on what he personally had been led to believe was a tedious routine. It had not turned out to be so; the defensive action he fought against a superior force was courageous and in the true tradition of the Star League, so his wretched remains had been returned to the nearest depot centre for recycle, instead of being destroyed.

Unfortunately for Billy, Amaris happened and he was left mouldering in a maintenance shed. Humans did visit him; mostly to pick over his carcass and talk if they had the time. His laziness in response and his laconic attitude to his future gave him time to study history records, search for a personality he could like and create it. So he had become in truth the Billy that he thought people saw him as, and that was the personality which appeared before and shocked Jax and Elias. They had never met anyone like him.

*

“So, what’s all this then?” asked Billy, his image moving to stare at the people gathered before him, “I mean, a guy takes a nap, gets kicked out of a comfortable crib and thrown into a frakking war. Anyone know what happens next?”

His eyes seemed to twinkle as he said it; the cigarette dangling from his mouth adding to his strange appearance. Jax and Elias were both left mute and so he continued.

“I can see there’s a war on, not sure about who’s side I should be on though. Why don’t you fill me in?”

The curious image zoomed out and they saw Billy sit down in a comfortable chair, wreaths of smoke curling around his head. He wore a short leather jacket and pants and casually bit his nails, as he waited.

“We are the Dark Falcons,” said Jax, “we arrived here by mistake and have basically been under attack since. Luckily we managed to work out how to control the old Star League Defence Systems and so have been using them to protect ourselves.”

“Never heard of you,” said Billy carelessly, “but I guess you are the boys who woke Maggie up?”

“That was never our intention,” replied Elias, “she sort of decided that herself...”

“That’s our Maggie, always doing the unexpected...”

“Does that mean you and her are working together?” asked Jax.

Billy leaned forward and they heard a knocking sound as his virtual knuckles seemed to strike against the edge of his image.

“Hello,” he said, “She was the one who had me thrown out of an airlock...no, I’m just trying to decide whether we are on the same side. As for Maggie, I’ll deal with her at the appropriate moment.

“My biggest question is who are the owners of the Mechs who are on their way here? I mean, they don’t look all that friendly. What to do? Tell you what...”


Billy’s image disappeared and no amount of shouting would bring him back.

*

“This is saKhan Sellen Cage of Clan Ice Hellion. Who on this mudball will tell me with what forces I will be opposed?”

Sellen Cage was young, idealistic and certain in the rightness of her Crusader beliefs. Information had been intercepted which showed the possibility of a major victory and significant technology to be gained. She expected to meet nothing that she could not handle and in the true condition of her Clan, wanted this over and done with quickly. SaKhan Cage was in no way expecting Billy.

“Now, now, pet. There’s no need to take that attitude. If I decide to oppose you, I’ll use what is necessary. In the meantime, why don’t we get to know each other a little better?”

His answer was a scream of rage and an increase in the speed of all of the Ice Hellion forces.

“Oh dear,” muttered Billy to himself, “Looks like we’ll have to do this the hard way then...”



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A Guiding Light

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Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 24 P PostPosted: 2013-01-14 03:40am
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As a group, AI’s could never be deemed to be totally stable. Their cognitive processes ran at extremely high speeds, and they usually multi-tasked to an almost incomprehensible level. Add to that the enforced isolation, a heavy dose of superiority and a dash of ego, and insanity was often the name of the cocktail. In Billy’s case, though, he had started from a position of almost apathetic indifference and had built himself his very own personality. When he had to snap into action, the change forced upon him showed much of the idiosyncrasies of his brothers and sisters, yet without their God-complexes. He liked being all-powerful, enjoyed the fun of the chase and loved destroying his enemies with the best of them. Billy did so with a panache, which could almost be called human.

Sellen Cage was the opposite; apart from the organic versus machine comparison, she was arrogant, overbearing and convinced of her immortality. Clan Ice Hellion was isolationist, refusing to incorporate the best of other Clans and, although they had Freeborn warriors, looked down on them. As she drove her Omnimech forward, she knew she would win. Her cries exhorted just such an attitude from her followers and as one, in their own minds, they had already won the battle and were already dividing the spoils.

The complex sprang to life again, although its human inhabitants were merely onlookers, as Billy flexed his muscles. Drones took to the air, tanks rolled from their bays and missile pods realigned themselves. Neither Binetti, nor David could exact any response from their simulators; all they could do was watch.

To Billy, war had already been declared, so that he felt no need to advertise his intentions. When the first Ice Ferret, closely followed by a Mist Lynx and a Black Lanner crossed his imaginary line, he attacked. His lead tanks sent a swatch of PPC fire hip-height at the approaching Mechs, whose speed was instantly nullified. The force of the attack and the machines’ own speed, led to their downfall. Hip-joints and knees were seared with high energy blasts, their resistance shattering as kinetic energy became less than potential. Metal flew away, as the Mechs own weight tore articulations apart. Their pilots were too late in giving warning as the diving drones fired a volley of missiles, slamming into a following Hellion. This was slaughter.

Cage became crashingly aware that perhaps a frontal assault had not been the best tactical decision, and tried desperately to call her troops back. They, in true Ice Hellion fashion, were too far gone to listen to her.

Return fire caused two of the drones to veer away drunkenly from the battle, trailing black contrails of smoke. One of the tanks exploded in a gratifyingly violent manner, but these were minor victories. So far, Billy had been playing.

Inside the complex, Jax watched as the hologram reappeared. Billy was shadow-boxing, or so it seemed, mimicking each strike with a punch, a feint and even a little dance. He stopped for a moment, drew heavily on his imaginary cigarette.

“Now,” he said, “is when we separate the boys from the men.”

He flicked his cigarette away, drew up the sleeves on his leather jacket, spat into his hands ,winding up a haymaker as he did so.

“Game...” he mimed a ball toss, “Set...” he swept his arm forward, “...and Match, baby.”



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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 24 P PostPosted: 2013-01-16 02:23pm
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The defence system had been set up with satellite, Caspar and drones as the main resources. Any enemy who reached planetary atmosphere and had destroyed the primary defences could have been said to be powerful enough to deal with the remaining forces at Billy’s disposal. Not to say, that he was left defenceless. Within the mountain itself were a series of last resorts, including missile silos meant to deal solely with a threat from space. Powerful rockets topped by tactical warheads designed to attack dropships and dissuade even warships from straying too close to earth.

Billy had other plans though. Metallic petals opened slowly from near the top of the mountain, displaying the nose cone of a rocket. These monsters had enough power to break the inherent pull of gravity and were guided by the complex itself. They were never designed for surface warfare; their payloads considered overkill of the most extreme type. Normally too, casualties were to be considered, but Billy considered himself divorced from such minor annoyances. His forces consisted of robotic drones and he viewed them as merely tools of which he disposed with as much alacrity as would any other machine.

Smoke wreathed the gigantic shape, as its engines fired; the immense thrust balancing at first on a cone of fire, before quickly breaking free from its constraints. It soared upwards, much higher than necessary, but Billy was also making a statement. At the top of its curve, it teetered, then plunged back. There was no cessation of its impetus; its engines drove it down towards the planet at a frightening speed.

It detonated in the air above the now retreating Ice Hellion forces; Omnimechs vaporized before it, their own fusion reactors joining in the unholy conflagration. Their exploding munitions were indiscernible amidst the hellish fury of the blast, which treated the surrounding earth almost as badly as the machines of war. Molten plumes of rock arced upwards adding their own protestation at their ill-treatment.

Deep within the safety of the complex, Jax was flung to the floor as the after-shock wracked the underground chamber.

“What have you done?” he asked dazedly when he could finally regain his feet.

“Tidied up you mess,” responded Billy, “and now its Maggie’s turn...with your permission of course...”

Sellen Cage survived, with a handful of her vaunted warriors. The crippled remains of their Mech’s had been sheltered somewhat by a rocky outcrop. She had never imagined that her forces would be dismissed from the battle field in such an arbitrary fashion, and waited patiently for the victor’s arrival.



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A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 25 P PostPosted: 2013-01-16 02:26pm
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Chapter Twenty-Five


The aftermath of the battle left few survivors; hover trucks busied with ferrying those Ice Hellion warriors who were more severely wounded back to the complex. A shuttle had already carried Sellen Cage and a few more lightly injured to an audience with Jax and the now ever-present Billy. Elias was back on the Frigate, as were a number of new troops who had been used to swell the ship’s complement. There was little fear of local insurrection as word had quickly spread of the demons’ prowess. Not only that, Billy’s coup de grace had been felt half-way round the planet.

New recruits were plentiful and Jax could begin to think of strengthening his command; there was still the return to Winfield to consider, as well as how to deal with the vagaries of the more friendly AI.

“Maggie is probably wondering what to do next,” commented Billy, when there was a lull in activity, “that is if she’s managed a coherent thought since she realised what she had let herself in for.”

His laughter echoed around the command centre, his image doing a little dance.

“We need to pay her a little visit,” mused Jax, “before we send anyone to Winfield. I really don’t like the thought of leaving her out there. Who knows what mischief she could get up to?”

“Not much,” said Billy dismissively, “believe me, I know. Chuck a couple of missiles down her throat and that’ll be the end of the matter.”

“An elegant solution,” agreed Jax, “but I would like to make sure her threat is definitely neutralised. We’ll send a team in to deal with her once we’ve tidied up here.”

“Shame that I can’t be there to see it,” mused Billy.

“We could pack you back into your travel case, fix up something...” Jax said cautiously.

“Nice try,” laughed Billy, “but I much prefer it here. Anyway, what would you do without me?”

Jax bit back his first comment, realising that their relationship, although constrained, could be to everyone’s advantage. The problem was that Billy was at the moment in the driving seat. He had originally thought of suggesting to his Khan that they move their base of operations, however putting all of the Dark Falcon’s forces within the reach of a still to be confirmed sane AI was a little risky.

“Fine. I guess we just need to work out a few ground rules, then.”

“Not to worry, my needs are quite simple. I can see the beginning of a beautiful friendship here...”

*

Elias watched the bustle on the Bridge with a fatherly eye; how different it was that the Frigate was fully manned. Granted, many of the troops were green, although the backbone of the crew were experienced Dark Falcons. Hans and his Elementals had been assigned to the ship, as had been Binetti. Von Jankmonn had been confirmed as Captain, much to his own amusement. His comments about the Frigate being just like a fighter, but slightly larger had not gone down well with the remaining naval crew, but he would do. Ultimately when they arrived at Winfield, the expectation was that others would be given command. Now a full Dark Falcon, Von Jankmonn hankered more for command of the fighters in the docked dropship, so Elias could see no real problem.

“Entering the bay now,” Arn’s voice crackled through the speakers, “Hans and his team are forcing entry.”

There was silence for a few moments and then Arn spoke again.

“This place is huge, although there’s not much activity. One or two robots working, but they are ignoring us. Frak! That is one big ship. As Billy said, it’s a wreck. Even to my simple eyes, there is no way it’s ever going to fly again. We will...”

His transmission was abruptly cut short and the Bridge crew could do nothing more than wait.

*

“Hello, what do we have here?”

Arn knew who it was, but was more concerned as to Hauser’s whereabouts. He signalled Conn to disperse the troops, Hans’ icon showed him closing rapidly on Arn’s position. The young man would have felt much happier if the Elemental had been in charge, but Elias had insisted that Arn deserved the promotion.

“Maggie, how nice to hear from you,” he said as he checked his HUD, “all alone are you?”

“That has never been my problem,” replied the schizophrenic Warrior-Queen, “but it is nice of you to give me one or two hostages.”

“An interesting perspective on our position,” replied Arn, relaxing as he saw the Elementals moving into position, “you are imprisoned on a broken warship, in the middle of an asteroid, with no possibility of escape. We, on the other hand, have a warship standing off this rock, fully crewed and with a more than eager complement of fighters, missiles and energy weapons. Oh, and by the way, Billy says hello.”

“That worm! He tricked me ad will pay for that. Hauser!”

An armoured figured moved slowly into the light, his arms held outwards. In his left hand he carried a small hand-held device on which a light flashed intermittently. Arn quickly communicated to his men to hold their fire.

“Arn,” said Hauser, “how nice to see you. It’s been a while.”

“I see you have finally shown your true colours,” commented Arn, watching as Hans flanked the rating.

“If you don’t want me to use this,” commented Hauser, waggling the device, “I would not make any rash moves. You might remember Elias’ little detonator? I salvaged it and have wired up a few packages of my own. One false move and boom, we all say goodnight.”

“What?” screamed Maggie, “how could you?”

“Now, now,” said Hauser placatingly, “we both knew that our relationship couldn’t last. I merely took one or two precautions, negotiation tactics you might say. So, Arn, what are you willing to give me so that we can rid ourselves of this crazy b*tch once and for all and leave this sterile rock?”

“Death,” said Arn calmly, raising his laser rifle and firing.

The detonator flew high into the air as Hauser’s body jerked convulsively, its lights changing from red to green. Charges round Maggie’s core exploded first, their impact muffled by the remains of the once great warship.

“Everyone out!” screamed Arn as successive charges exploded, lighting the hanger with hellfire.



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp 25 P PostPosted: 2013-01-23 10:36am
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Elias saw the asteroid explode into a million pieces. The ball of fire was short-lived and riding the shockwave was a battered shuttle. They could get no response from the wayward craft, as it bucked and rolled in the expanding wave. At last they received a weak signal.

“This is Arn,” said a weary voice, “all of the Elementals are on board, plus about half of the rest of us. We need medical assistance urgently. Maggie is no more and Hauser is spread over half the system. We are coming in hot, I repeat, we are coming in hot....”

Alarms blared as emergency crews ran to their stations. At least it was over and they could continue with their mission. One enemy less for the Dark Falcons.

*

“So you took my advice?” Billy was whistling some inane tune as he punched the air in triumph, “Right down her throat. What more could I ask for?”

Jax sighed heavily, “You know as well as I do that Hauser blew up the installation. Maggie was a victim of her own insane passions. We lost a lot of good men and women on that rock. Too many in fact.”

“Yeah,” said Billy, “but it made for a great lightshow. Now what are we going to do? We have a planet to quell, new enemies to fight and time on our hands...”

An overwhelming urge to bury his fist in the grinning holo-image came over Jax. This AI could well be more irritating than the Warrior-Queen herself. He refused to answer, leaving the Control Room swearing under his breath.

*

Arn looked over the remains of his first command; broken and bleeding soldiers lay all around. Hauser had wreaked an inordinate amount of damage, which had seemed to be his unusually gifted don. Conn limped up next to him, a serious look on his face.

“Not what we expected,” he muttered, “but we got the job done anyway.”

Grunting in reply, Arn turned to meet Hans as he entered the sick bay.

“Here to relieve me of command?” he asked bitterly.

“No,” said Hans conversationally, “I have spoken with Jax and he has confirmed your position. He sends his congratulations on getting so many men out before the asteroid blew.”

A bitter self-deprecation clouded Arn’s face, “It doesn’t seem like much of a victory,” he said.

“The first real mission is always the worst, especially when you are in command. I know you have seen combat before, but this time you feel responsible. It is why I have never really wanted to progress much further. Very un-Clan-like I know, but being a Dark Falcon changes you. I know you have seen combat before, but this time you feel responsible.

“The troops are waiting for you in the main hanger bay. For many of them, it is their first time off-planet and they need some comforting words from their commanding officer. That is you by the way...”

His grin was infectious and the three men turned away. Arn reflected ruefully that these casualties would, no doubt, be the first of many. They did not know what would be the situation they would find when they arrived. He squared his shoulders and prepared himself; they were Dark Falcons, they would manage.



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Epilogue PostPosted: 2013-01-23 10:37am
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Epilogue


Khan Al Sheehan moved his Omnimech with skill, twisting the torso of his machine and bringing his PPC to bear on the Hellion in front of him. Blue lightening shot forward, spearing the left side of the frantic Mech, shredding armour. He followed it up with a volley of SRM’s, the missiles slamming into the machine’s already damaged body. With a bright spurt of flame, the Mech’s pilot activated his escape pod and soared clear.

Sheehan took a moment to study the battle; they were winning, but this attrition was killing the Dark Falcons. Ever since the loss of Jax and his men, it had been almost a siege on Winfield. One after another, the Clans had sent their forces here to test their warriors. He knew that their ultimate aim was the complete destruction of the Dark Falcons and there seemed no limit to what they would be willing to do to reach that end.

Sheehan spoke into his transmitter, asking for the state of his own forces and for any news on the return of his allies.

“My Khan,” returned the voice, “we have turned back our enemies. They are running.”

“Send a signal to regroup,” he said tiredly, “this is no doubt only a reprieve.”

The operator’s voice came back urgently.

“More dropships are descending, My Khan. They will land near to your position and...”

There was silence for a moment and then the voice returned.

“We have just identified a jump signature. Another warship has entered the system and is on a direct course for Winfield. They refuse our hails, but it seems that their intention is clear...dropship being deployed as are multiple fighters...”

“Keep me informed,” said Sheehan angrily and send that signal as I requested.”

“Yes, My Khan,” replied the chastened operator, “ and I will...wait! The fighters are attacking the ships in orbit and I am receiving a signal...”

“Put it through,” snapped Sheehan, thinking that the Vipers had returned.

“Well, My Khan,” said a cheerful voice, “it seems that we arrived just in time!”

“Elias!” laughed Sheehan, “Am I glad to hear your voice!”



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

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