Get your fill of sci-fi, science, and mockery of stupid people
* FAQ    * Search   * Register   * Login 
Want to support this site? Click

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)


All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 128 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp2 Pt2 PostPosted: 2011-03-08 07:03pm
Offline
White Mage
White Mage
User avatar

Joined: 2003-02-12 11:59pm
Posts: 17601
Location: Tahalshia Manor
jpdt19 wrote:
"Ioin Kearney" eh....

Well i doubt THAT's a cooincidence :)

Interesting start. I AM curious however about why the new bondsmen have yet to experience zero gravity? Is the dropship still under thrust back to the jumpship/warship? When they do...it's not going to be fun for them!

Please explain, it went right over my head.



Image

Librium Arcana, Where Gamers Play!
Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp2 Pt3 PostPosted: 2011-03-09 05:43pm
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Kearney was rudely woken from his sleep. Hot embers from the fire had been turned into charcoal shrapnel by the exploding missile. Hans’ man had aimed true; direct casualties were minimal, although the whistling chunks of flame burned many. Gasping for breath, his ears still ringing from the weapon’s impact, Ioin looked around frantically for the source of the sorcerous noise. He found it.

Leaping and bounding down the hill towards him, came a group of what could only be demons. Their matt black bodies gave off the dull reflection of metal and from their arms speared forth intense beams of light. Whatever it touched flamed into inexistence. Suddenly, Kearney felt cowed, how had he ever thought that he could kill one of these things.

Fear turned into anger as he drew his pistol and fired at the nearest. The ball struck was harmlessly brushed away. In desperation he called to his men and set off at a flat run towards the main tent. Positioned there was a mobile field piece, perhaps the only thing that could be used against this these creatures. He was gratified to see his squad rushing towards him, many in a state of undress, yet discipline remained.

The first there, he tried to manhandle the unwieldy weapon around, but it was only when Black Conn, his huge wildly bearded second-in-command, reached him that the job became easier. He screamed at his men to load and prime the weapon, glad that its flintlock firing mechanism would make things easier. At last it was ready and he ordered everyone back. Conn followed his instructions, centring its barrel on the largest of the fleet monsters. With a wild cry he fired it and was momentarily blinded by its muzzle flash. When he could see again, the monster was gone.

Loud cheers quickly became groans as they saw the demon rise from the floor, a smoking dent visible in its chest. Its arm turned towards them and a pure beam of energy licked out and touched the gun’s barrel, melting the metal as though it were a child’s toy.

“To me!” screamed Kearney, pulling free his sword and running towards the thing. Not one of his men failed him, even when the monster spoke.

“My turn, now,” its voice was deep, stentorian and it walked purposefully forward.

Kearney was the first to reach it and swung his sword. There was a clang as it struck, the rebound of the blow numbing his hand and causing it to fall. Conn swung a huge pole at it, Kearney realising that it was the tool used to load the cannon, just as it snapped in two over the demon’s skull.

With one swing of its arm, the thing swept Conn aside and moved to grasp him, a fusillade of rifle fire ignored as it’s strange metal hand reached down. Ioin leapt on its back, burning his hand as he hung on. He heard a throaty chuckle, just before he rose into the air, flames spurting under his feet.

*

Hans was confident that he had found his men. The big one was almost of a size to be called an Elemental. Even though he had tapped him hard with his power claw, the gigantically muscled man was struggling to his feet. He jumped higher, the young leader still clinging to his back, and ordered another missile strike. The projectile weapon had been a surprise and he assumed that he would have some bruises in the morning. Wary of any other unexpected weaponry, he decided to play safe.

Two SRM’s were enough. They pounded the ground in the centre of the encampment, shooting brick and earth high into the air. Machine guns were then used to shatter the rest of any defiance and Hans’ boomed demand for surrender was soon complied with. The only one who ignored him and still tried to reach him with a sword, was the black-bearded giant below.

Hans grinned. At least there would be one or two worth breaking. He cut his jets, dropping to the ground with a jarring crash. Ioin fell senselessly to the floor, next to Conn, who he had been knocked down once more. As the blackness rolled over him, he cursed his desire to search the demons out. It seemed that someone had been listening.



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp2 Pt3 PostPosted: 2011-03-09 08:11pm
Offline
Redshirt

Joined: 2008-11-01 08:35pm
Posts: 43
Ah the Harry Potter/Hobbit tactic for dealing with stuff that's bigger and stronger than you.

"Jump on it's back and hit it on the head with stuff"

Yep, that will work well against an elemental :)

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp2 Pt3 PostPosted: 2011-03-10 11:49am
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
When it doubt, beat the bejasus out of it...until it does the same to you :twisted:



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp3 Pt1 PostPosted: 2011-03-10 11:50am
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Chapter Three



“So,” said Gaius Augustus, “how was your visit to see the Demons?”

He was sprawled over his chair, a golden bowl of fruit held close to his right hand by one of his female servants. Another combed his hair with her fingers and a third was acting as his stool.

“There were no Demons, My Emperor,” replied Julius, casting an appraising eye over the women.

“Just as I suspected,” nodded the Emperor sagely, “I suppose it was the rebels again?”

“How did you know?” asked Julius, feigning surprise, “Ah, of course, you know everything.”

The Emperor stared at him, looking to see if his General was overstepping the mark, but Julius was far too good an actor to be caught out so easily.

“There was a massacre,” Julius confirmed, “but we caught up with and dealt with the rebellious pigs.”

Gaius Augustus clapped his hands with glee, “Well done. For your efforts you will be well rewarded, but for now I have another small task for you.”

“Whatever you wish...” began Julius, but was interrupted as the door burst open and a bloody and dishevelled officer was half-carried, half-pushed in front of the Emperor.

“Speak!” squealed the Emperor, his voice breaking with his passion.

“We were ambushed...many men lost...did our best...”

Gaius kicked his human footstool aside, sending her skittering across the floor.

“Worm!” he spat, “How dare you come before your Emperor in this state?”
Now he aimed a kick with his sandaled foot at the unfortunate man, screaming in pain as he stubbed his toes. He turned to the General in childish pique.

“Do you see the worthless soldiery with which I am cursed? Take this man away. Find out what he knows and punish those responsible. Do not bother to return if you fail”

For one moment, the General’s mask slipped, but lucky for him the Emperor had turned away, to heap derision on the man cowering before him. Keep it up, urged Julius silently, and no-one will oppose anything I do. He allowed himself a small smile before he motioned to the guards to drag the bleeding man away.

*

Once more Julius led his men from the city. This time a regiment of foot soldiers marched behind him. Drums beat, fifes played and the populace cheered him. The Emperor stood on the terrace of his palace, absently waving a silken handkerchief in approbation. Their hero went to war with the flower of the city’s soldiery. Those left behind were the young and old, courtiers and senate members. None who could later refuse Julius’ triumphant entry at the head of a victorious army.

He had no intention of wasting these resources in a futile punitive mission. Orders had been sent out to sympathetic officers and his rendezvous had been chosen, only a day and a half from the city. Artillery pieces had been drawn from the front lines, infantry and cavalry detached from their places where they guarded important routes into the city, but Julius was not worried. This would be a swift and bloody campaign, after which he could deal with the rebels once and for all.

Had he not organised a temporary truce with his enemy, with promises made he had no intention of keeping? Even now, their leader waited for his invitation to the crowning of the new Emperor. Julius laughed uproariously, the world was full of fools.



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp3 Pt1 PostPosted: 2011-03-10 01:56pm
Offline
White Mage
White Mage
User avatar

Joined: 2003-02-12 11:59pm
Posts: 17601
Location: Tahalshia Manor
Quote:
the world was full of fools.
And he's going to find himself the biggest fool of all. :twisted: Outside Context Problem Ahead.



Image

Librium Arcana, Where Gamers Play!
Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp3 Pt2 PostPosted: 2011-03-11 11:43am
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Elana stood in front of the thirty or so young men before her. They had formed into two rough groups, holding to their previous allegiances. She needed to break them, before giving them a new identity and it would start now. Without speaking, she began to draw a rough circle in the bare earth.

Jax had picked this mountain retreat as a suitable base. A high-walled fortress sat on the side of the mountain, with a winding rough stone road leading up to it. Apparently it had belonged to some ancient robber and when they had arrived had been in ruins. Dark Falcon Techs had reduced the unusable buildings to rubble and erected temporary acommodation as well as reinforcing the walls. A flat landing site had been prepared and Elana and her people had been brought here by shuttle. Now, laser emplacements protected the only road and a large banner fluttered in the breeze, above the main gates.

“You,” she began, “are scum. Unworthy to be called Dark Falcons. Perhaps one or two of you have something within worthy of the name, but I am not sure. Lieutenant Jax believes so and because of that, I am willing to waste some of my valuable time on you.”

She stepped out of the rough circle and nodded to Hans who had been assigned to this training detail. He now stomped forward, towering above the new bondsmen, and carried on where Elana had left off.

“This,” he said, “is a Circle of Equals. All disputes will be settled within it. Any failure to obey this basic rule will be dealt with severely. Now, I have seen some of you try to fight and to be truthful have been little impressed. As an example to you all, I assume that there are those amongst who disagree with me? Well within this Circle you may prove your point.”

He laid down his weapons, divesting himself of his pistol and knife. Then he removed his tunic and stood, bare-chested before them. There was a murmur of appreciation at his hugely muscled frame, which was silenced by a furious glare from Elana.

“What,” she sneered, as none stepped forward, “is there no honour amongst your kind? It seems that I was right. Worthless surats!”

Kearney’s group parted and the burly figure of Conn pushed his way through. He too removed his tunic and received encouraging pats from his companions.

“Are there any rules?” asked Ioin as he massaged the back of the big man’s neck.

“Ah, yes,” said Elana, “Hans, you may not kill him.”

Hans smiled and nodded, beckoning Conn forward. He was caught off guard by Conn’s speed. A right hand flashed out, smashing his head back and was followed by a terrific hook to his mid-section. A grunt of pain slipped out as the blow landed, but he avoided the stomp to his kneecap. Rubbing his stomach gingerly he circled away and was ready for the next attack.

Kearney’s men were cheering in encouragement and even Arn felt some respect for the huge rebel. What happened next was almost too quick to follow. As Conn struck, Hans moved inside the blow catching the trailing wrist and dragging his opponent down as he twisted. The momentum of the movement drew Conn’s face level with Hans’ knee, which rose to meet it. There was a crunch of bone and Conn’s head slammed backwards as blood sprayed out.

Letting go off the man’s wrist, Hans stepped back and drove his front foot deep into his opponent’s stomach. With a whoosh of escaping air, Conn doubled over exposing his neck to Hans’ elbow strike.

“Hans!” cautioned Elana and he changed his blow. He had time to recover from the killing strike. A step to the side, a swivel of his hips and his fist cleanly clipped Black Conn behind the ear. His feet slid out from underneath and he crashed unconscious to the floor.

Elana picked up a handily placed bucket of water and tossed it over Conn, who roused spluttering and swinging his hands wildly. She easily picked him up, avoiding his flailing fists and pushed him into his comrades’ arms.

“A good start,” she said and then turned to Arn, “you are next.”

Arn nodded and stripped off his tunic. He wanted someone to fight and although he had seen the punishment meted out to Conn, did not care. Anger washed over him, yet he controlled it, his fury ice-cold. Jeers and cat-calls came from the rebels, but ne merely pushed them out of his mind.
He was leanly muscled, working in the fields with his father every day, before joining the army. His mother said he followed more in the footsteps of his grandfather and Arn smiled in remembrance of the old man.

Hans grinned at him, “Confident are we?”

There was no reply and Hans narrowed his eyes. This one would not waste his breath, he reminded him of Kahn Sheehan. The same cold gaze and determined set of features. For the first time, a flutter of worry entered the Elemental’s mind, but was quickly banished.

“Finish it quickly,” said Elana, “we have work to do.”

Again this was accompanied by jeers and as Hans looked to Elana, Arn struck. His back leg swept round, taking the full torque of his body in its movement. It slammed against Hans’ ribs, the toe of his boot striking the same place as Conn’s blow. He smashed his forearm into the big man’s temple as the first blow landed, staggering him.

Reflexively, Hans’ huge arms circled him, pulling Arn forward. It gave Hans a brief respite and he shoved Arn away, sending short, sharp jabs into the young man’s face. Now it was Arn’s turn to reel drunkenly and one smashing right dropped him to one knee. He rolled away before Hans could land the next punch, staggering to his feet. Arn shook his head to clear and almost missed the Dark Falcon’s next punch. Had it landed, it would have all been over. As it was, Arn ducked his head and took the blow on the top of his skull. Even so, his vision began to blacken.

He snarled and leapt at Hans, his surprise attack letting him inside the big man’s guard. A right to the face and a left to the body, pushed Hans back to the edge of the circle. As Arn drew his leg back to strike, Hans swept his back leg away, slamming him to the floor. One knee pressed gently against Arn’s neck cutting off his air supply. He snarled in frustration and tried to rise. Hans looked across at Elana and seeing her stern face, hit the young man cleanly.

The same treatment was given to Arn, yet the most unusual thing to happen was when Black Conn pushed his stunned companions aside and helped Arn to his feet.

“He almost had me,” said Hans in quiet voice to Elana.

“I know,” she replied, “interesting, no?”



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp3 Pt3 PostPosted: 2011-03-12 08:42pm
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Kearney could not understand Conn’s reaction; this was an Emperor-loving enemy. Who had no doubt killed and tortured many of their own kin. He pushed through the group surrounding the recovering pair and spoke harshly to a surprised Hans.

“I have a grievance,” he snarled, “for the Circle of Equals.”

“With me, nestling?” asked Hans smiling.

“No,” spat Ioin, his finger shooting outwards as he turned, “with him!”

Elana saw that he pointed at the recently defeated Arn, who even now was just staggering to his feet, with the help of Conn.

“What is this grievance,” asked Elana, puzzled. These recruits had only been brought together today and even now were beginning to bond. This could shatter them totally, or, it could unite them stronger than before. She could see the disgust on the big one’s face and the embarrassment of others within the original rebel faction.

“Why are you doing this, Ioin?” growled Conn, his arm still supporting Arn.

“His kind killed my family,” and turning to the others, “and many of yours. One little fight and you’ve already forgotten years of torture, imprisonment and death in the name of their cursed Emperor. Well, I have not. We are better than that.”

Hans saw Conn move slightly away from Arn, and the two separate factions begin to reform. This would not do, yet before he could speak, Elana interrupted Kearney’s flow of vituperation.

“I have already told you that you are now Bondsmen of the Dark Falcon Clan. The past does not exist, yet you would cling to some false idea of supremacy. An idealised belief in being better than the rest. Very well, I will allow this, but first Arn needs to learn a little more about the truth surrounding the massacre.”

She saw Kearney pale, yet he held his ground. Conn’s face was puzzled as he stared at his companions. Again there was a mix of shame and lack of understanding. Elana knew then that this would work, as long as she could give Arn some reason to fight.

“Our cameras saw everything. As you have been shown,” and here she talked directly to Arn, “your once Emperor ordered the massacre of your village. What you did not know was that a group of rebels stood by and watched. They made no effort to intervene, and he,” she pointed dramatically at Kearney, “was one of them!”

Certainty of his involvement was not necessary, just the accusation, but when she saw Kearney’s face and that of two others, she knew that she had struck home. The anger on Conn’s face was immediate, but it was nothing to the icy fury which calmed that of Arn.

“Is this true?” he hissed, the flickering eyes of Kearney betraying his answer, even before he spoke.

“We were following orders, there was nothing...” began Ioin, but Arn would not let him continue.

“Do not tell me there was nothing you could have done. I have never done anything against your family, I joined the army but a few short weeks ago. That said, I accept my responsibility for believing in the Emperor. Ignorance is no excuse. However, a man would not have been able to stand idly by and see innocents slaughtered, irrespective of their beliefs. And you have the gall to accuse me?

“I will fight you. Not to salve your injured pride, but because you deserve it.”

With that Arn threw off the supporting hands and strode into the circle, blood still dribbling from his bruised face. Ioin turned to face Conn, but the big man looked away, unable to believe that his friend could have done such a thing, yet knowing it was true.

Kearney shucked off his jacket. He would show them. His shame for his actions had been overcome by the jealousy he had felt in seeing his position usurped. Even now, he justified all that he had done to himself, as he did his certainty in the defeat of Arn. For him, there would be no rules. The village boy would die and once again he would rightfully lead.

“No rules!” he snarled as he entered the circle, twisting his body from side-to-side as he limbered up.

Arn did not answer. A freezing fire burned outwards from his eyes, he was ready.

Kearney wanted to humiliate Arn. In his mind’s eye, he saw himself beating the man to a pulp, and with a disdainful sneer, he launched his front foot forward. It was the last thing he would ever do.

Blindingly fast, Arn’s left forearm blocked Ioin’s rising knee. His right hand shot outwards, palm open and fingers curled. He had heard and been shown much by his Grandfather, but this was something else. Ripping the life from his enemy was what he needed and his knuckles punched into the flesh of Kearney’s throat. They destroyed the man’s windpipe, crushing it instantaneously, but it was insufficient and he struck again into the depression already created. This time his digits dug into flesh and tore it free, a contemptuous boot flinging the dying man to the floor. Not waiting to see the results of his actions, Arn turned away.

“Now that one,” said Elana in a hushed whisper to Hans, “is definitely a Dark Falcon.”



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp4 Pt1 PostPosted: 2011-03-13 07:33pm
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Chapter Four


General Aquilla yawned and stretched lazily. He had slept well, the last of his forces arriving early in the morning. All of the troops were bedded down and he only waited for his commanders to join him. Not that much further planning was needed, as he had spent months organising the disposition of his forces in his head. His stay in the city had also served him well. Each defensive position had been studied and their weaknesses identified.

Idly, he picked at some fruit, as he studied the simple map laid out before him. The main gate would be his target. Although in appearance it was the strongest position, years of neglect had meant that its stoutness was questionable. Insects had attacked the wood and laziness its defenders.

Buildings had been constructed more to house the Emperor’s growing army of courtiers and slaves, rather than with thought for a potential attack. Still through, the main thoroughfare had been left open. It was a well-paved and glorious route which led directly to the palace itself. He would change things once he had made his last triumphal entrance to the city as a General, that was certain.

The sound of men’s voices signalled the arrival of his subordinates and with a wry smile, General Julius Aquilla opened his tent flap and welcomed them inside.

*

Jax stared at the holo-image before him. Elias had been monitoring the troop movements outside the Imperial city and it was obvious, that this morning would bring unwelcome visitors. He had, at first, thought about using an alliance with the Emperor as a means of consolidating the Dark Falcons position on this world. Apart from rest and recreation, they needed a base for recruitment and resupply. Their rapid exit from known space had left them with extremely limited resources.

The jumpship itself, was even now being repaired as was the destroyer which had been docked specifically for that purpose. FedCom personnel had been re-educated and were now working alongside their ex-enemies. Still, with only five Omnifighters, twenty suits of working battle armour and three Mechs, they were particularly short-handed.

Mechs, he thought, well they resembled the huge machines in shape and structure, but were units taken out of frontline service and their pilots were even now still recovering from their injuries, suffered during their attack on the jumpship near Winfield. They desperately needed more personnel and he was sure that the new training camp would bear fruit.

These men would be trained initially to fight as a unit with autorifles and crew-served weapons. Elias was confident that he could manufacture powered armour, but that would take time and resources. In the meantime, they would have to conserve their more advanced weaponry until they really needed it.

Jax had no intention of striking out for known space, until he had a full complement of men and weapons. So, he leaned over the image again and studied the ground described there. They could not afford for the city and its technology, however weak compared to theirs, to be destroyed.

Unfortunately, he could not yet intervene fully without expending valuable resources.

The irony of the incident at the training base did not escape him. He would sit by and watch this assault take place. Not through weakness, but rather through necessity. His priority was the Dark Falcons and returning them to fight at their Khan’s side. Everything else must come a poor second.



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp4 Pt2 PostPosted: 2011-03-15 06:19pm
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Gaius Augustus was woken from his nap by a roaring sound. The earth trembled beneath his bare feet and his stomach fat rippled where it bulged over his pants. Blearily he opened one eye as the roaring came again.

“Will someone tell me what that is, and kill whoever is responsible?” he screamed in the general direction of his attending courtier.

The man looked extremely nervous and was glad for the rapid pounding on the throne room’s door and the hasty entrance of an officer.

“Ah, perhaps you can help?” he asked disarmingly.

“Soldiers are assaulting the city,” gasped the man, forgetting his manners in his haste.

“Soldiers?” the Emperor’s voice now rose in timbre, in line with his agitation.

“General Aquilla has returned,” said the man nodding his head, “and is firing cannons at the main gate.”

“Liar!” shouted the Emperor, “He would not do that. Take this impudent fool away and kill him!”

With that Gaius Augustus the Third slumped back into his chair. The roaring grew louder now and was interspersed with frightened screams. He turned to his courtier pleadingly.

“He wouldn’t do that, would he? Not, my General...”

*

The initial attack had gone exactly to plan. His field artillery had been moved close to the city early in the dawn light and as the sun broke through the clouds, begun firing. Shot screamed towards the main gates, hammering into the surrounding brickwork and sending wood splinters hurtling skyward. This bombardment had continued long after the shattered remains of the doors hung limply from their massive frames.

Elevation of their barrels caused the iron missile to arc up over the walls and fall indiscriminately onto the buildings behind. Aquilla wanted to make a point.

Soldiers returned to the walls as it became obvious that the cannons had changed their aim and larger pieces began to bark out a response, targeting the guns themselves. Infantry scurried out from the main and side gates and began to take up a defensive position. It was whilst they were still engaged in forming their rank and file that Aquilla sent in his cavalry. They had been moved to positions flanking the main gate and now raced over the small hillocks screening them. Their sabres were free as they leant down, hugging their horse’s necks for protection. Some defenders fired at them, knocking men from their mounts, but it was unorganised. With a triumphant whooping they were among the infantry.

Blades rose and fell with precision, carving a bloody path through the desperate defender It was then that Julius moved in with his men and the packed rows of infantry. There would be losses, but the cannons were in fixed embrasures as he well knew. They had limited reserves of ammunition and their crews more ornamental than battle ready. As his weapons continued to pour out destruction he gleefully urged his men on.

*

“Sir?” Elias asked the pensive Jax, “what are we going to do? They are shelling indiscriminately.”

Jax stared as part of the poorer section of the city was hit. Fires had started and were greedily destroying the cheaply constructed homes. Nearby was the industrial district which housed their factories and warehousing. This was a disaster. It appeared that this jumped-up General cared nothing for the people and was more intent on murdering his way to power. That it was the same man who had led the massacre of villagers was obvious.

“We cannot stand by any longer,” he said decisively, “we must act. I have no love for this Emperor, nor his minions, but the city, its people and resources must be protected. Get me Greta and have the fighters scrambled.”

Elias laughed to himself as Jax rushed away. It was so like the man to justify the intervention because of the valuable resources. Well, so be it, he thought, battlefield salvage was always his favourite part.

*

Julius led his men through the gates and let them free. A little rape and pillage would satisfy their baser emotions and in the meantime he could conquer an Empire. Afterwards, there would be time to win over the populace. The crackle of musket fire ahead spoke of some troops still loyal to the Emperor and he spurred his horse forward to join the fight. It was as he entered the main square that the sky was filled with projectiles. They rained downwards, fire streaming from them as they broke open and deposited their charges. The ground trembled with their coming and Julius fought hard to restrain his frightened mount.

Flames licked around their bodies as they floated to earth. These must be the demons! Their description fit; almost human-like, clad in strange armour with powerful weapons which burnt and tore through troops as though they were not there.

“Fire!” he screamed at the top of his voice, and then “Charge!”

General Julius Aquilla did not follow his men to their death. He watched as their volley fire was swept aside, one of the demons spraying them with something. It was as though a full company of men fired which each sweep of the thing’s arm. Men were plucked away, projectiles knocking them from their feet with ease. Blood pooled on the floor amidst their shattered remains.

Something flew from another’s shoulder with a roar of smoke and flame. It slammed into his charging cavalry throwing men and beasts wildly into the air, broken body and animal parts falling in a crimson rain. A voice boomed forth, calling for their surrender, but the General did not wait to hear or see any more. He turned his horse’s head for the gate urged it into a mindless gallop. Escape was his only priority.

Jax watched them flee and let them go. His Elementals would be busy dealing with those soldiers left within the city precincts. It would probably be better that his men summarily dealt with them, rather than an enraged citizenry. Now he needed to deal with this self-proclaimed Emperor. He had no reason to believe that he was any better than the man he had just driven away.

The scream of fighters overhead and the crunch of munitions told him that the rout was in full flow.

“Let them go,” he transmitted wearily, “they are of no threat.”

“That may well be a mistake,” grumbled Greta, by his side.

“Then we will pay for it later,” said Jax, “murder is not part of our remit.”

Greta said nothing as she followed up the steps to the palace, but could not shake the feeling that when the day came, the bill would be heavy.



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp4 Pt3 PostPosted: 2011-03-17 09:23am
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Gaius Augustus stared in mute disbelief at the demon as he mounted the steps to the throne. He still found it hard to credit the wild stories brought to his ears, but here was one of the creatures in the flesh. It was armoured in black with a curious emblem on its left shoulder; a stylised bird in black on green. Another two stomped into the room, turning to face outwards their arms held at chest height.

The first stopped in front of him, its facial covering reflected the overblown face before it. A deep rumbling bass voice rolled out, seeming as though it materialised from thin air.

“I would normally expect a thank you, for what we have done here today,” said Jax, “but having seen the deplorable manner in which you treat your people, it will no doubt not be forthcoming.”

The speech was archaic, stilted, yet understandable and Gaius reacted in his usual manner.

“Who are you to...”

The roaring stutter of Jax’s machine gun shattered the silence. Chips of marble ricocheted round the room as the once powerful Emperor squealed in terror. His hands covered his sparse pate as he mewled in terror, whilst his courtier fainted.

“Don’t interrupt. It’s rude.” Said Jax flatly, “Now where was I? Oh, yes. We have intervened because we could not stand by and watch the needless slaughter of your people. Even now, my troops are dealing with the remains of your attacker’s forces and then we will be taking over your city.

“As of now, martial law is in effect. A curfew will be set and we will enforce it strictly. I wish to meet with your leading council members, or whatever you call them immediately.”

The Emperor began to cry and in disgust, Jax turned to the now recovering courtier.

“You,” he said, will...”

Any comment he had to make was cut short, as the poor fell back to the floor, shaking with terror.

“Elias,” said JAx into his transmitter, “I need you and your team down here quickly. We have an awful lot of work to do.”

*

Elana watched as her recruits attempted to traverse the newly constructed assault course. Others had been brought to the training camp and she had split them into five teams of eight. By far the team showing the greatest promise was that led by Arn. They were an even mix of old enemies and had gelled quickly after the death of Kearney. Black Conn had immediately fallen into his new role of second-in-command to Arn, and none dared dispute his authority. The others were responding well, but she sensed something in the determined face of Arn and was accelerating their training.

Hans continued to try and beat them into submission, both physically and mentally and they were pushed the hardest of all. She had heard from Jax of his intervention in the city and approved wholeheartedly. They needed a solid base of operations, although from all reports the city was in a poor state of repair and would not be easy to defend.

The roar of an approaching engine announced the arrival of the shuttle, with a new cargo of fresh meat for her own particular grinder. It appeared that Jax had already been hard at work, selecting those he thought had potential. Her barked order brought the recruits from their exercise. They ran and formed two lines near the rear of the craft. As the door opened and ex-soldiers of the Emperor disembarked, the jeers and cat-calls began. This tunnel of shame was only the first of many indignities that would be heaped upon them. Well, if it did not kill them...



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp5 Pt1 PostPosted: 2011-03-20 06:20pm
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Chapter Five

Nearly three weeks had passed. Elias and his team had worked wonders. They had immediately taken over the running of the foundries and gunpowder factories. What they had found had given them a good starting point, but new formulas had been introduced, specifically in the fabrication of metals. Their immediate priority was the retooling of equipment and energy sources, in order to install the basis for mass production.

Specialized equipment had been ferried down via shuttle and today they had produced for inspection, the first of the new weapons. In no way could they hope to mimic any of the Clan Technology en masse. That would take time and much more sophisticated industrial development. What they had done was advance the weaponry of the Empire hundreds of years, by an amalgam of knowhow and existing capabilities.

Jax turned the rifle in his hands over, whilst Elias described it. They had taken the propellant fuel and improved it immensely. Also the rifled barrel and the brass shells gave the weapon a huge advantage over anything that already existed on the planet. Magazined weapons were still a little way off, but the breech-loaded rifle and its manual sights had stunned the local soldiery. Cannons had also been modified and the new weapons boasted improved rounds, including shrapnel, canister and high explosive.

Elana had been training her new charges intensively and they would be presented with the first of the new rifles as part of their passing out parade. They were well-versed in the general principles and extra drills had been given with mock-ups.

The ceremonial cutting of their Bondcords and acceptance into the Dark Falcon Clan would come first though. There was one squad which would be trusted with existing laser and autorifles. Its initial eight members had been expanded to sixteen and showed great promise. They would be part of the new elite force and would be welcomed directly into Jax’s Infantry.

“This is excellent, Elias,” said Jax, handing the rifle back to the Tech.

“It is the best that we could do,” replied Elias self-depreciatingly, “for now.”

“And it is more than enough to deal with any threat we could face on this planet,” Jax commented, moving to the window overlooking the parade ground.

“Of that, I am not certain,” Elias said, “so we are working on more formal and standard body armour, non-powered.”

“You think that General Julius could be a threat to us?” Jax asked.

“If not directly to ourselves, then to our plans, yes I do. We have also been picking up some strange readings through our spysweeps...”

“What sort of readings?” questioned Jax.

“Energy leakage. Very old, but still there. Once we have this first group of recruits integrated into our forces, I would like to investigate it further.”

Jax smiled at him, “Are you thinking that there might be some hidden Tech cache here, Elias?”

“Not exactly,” said the Tech musingly, “but these people got here somehow. I would like to find out when and how, if I can.”

“Very well,” agreed Jax, “once we have Hans’ unit incorporated, you can take them out for a trial run.”

Elias nodded and joined Jax by the window. Elana’s voice rang out clearly. Ranks of men formed up and his pride stirred as he saw them clad in the distinctive raiment of their new Clan.

*

The cart rolled slowly southwards. It had been a long and pitiful journey, the small caravan surrounding it unused to arduous travel. Gaius Augustus sat imperiously on a small seat, a courtier holding a parasol above his head. He had been given a simple choice by Jax; leave with what he could carry, or stay and die. Surprisingly a number of his courtiers and guards had chosen to accompany him exile. These were the meaner of his people, those who had stood to suffer the most under the new regime.
Some of the more self-serving of them had already left, taking their and others belongings, so it was a much poorer, hot and tired ex-Emperor who now ruled over little but this small band.

Their direction had been chosen with some thought, Gaius thinking that some of his minor cities would still not have heard of the loss of his throne. He intended to reach one of his lesser palaces and resurrect his life there, in relative safety and comfort. His thoughts were rudely interrupted by a terrified shout from his men at the front of the caravan and he watched open/mouthed as they raced past him on their mounts. All the while, they cast fearful glances over their shoulders.

Gaius strained his eyes to see what could have caused the commotion and was rewarded with a puff of smoke. Something whizzed past his ear, striking the parasol carrying courtier and covering him in a sudden fountain of blood. He squealed with fright and tried to bury his way into the back of the cart. It was in this position that Julius Aquilla found him, his rear stuck high in the air and his head amongst silken coverings.

“My Dear Emperor,” he said as he withdrew his sabre from its scabbard, “you cannot imagine how pleased I am to see you.”



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp5 Pt2 PostPosted: 2011-03-21 08:38pm
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Wind howled past his face as Arn poked his head out of the shuttle’s cargo door. If he had been impressed by the laser rifle he had been given, then this machine had stunned him. He had seen it fly a number of times, but apart from his time as a prisoner and then recruit, he had never travelled in it. Behind him, his squad were checking over their new weapons, body armour and communications equipment. What had seemed like sorcery only a few weeks before, was now accepted as common place.

Their black combat fatigues still looked new and shiny, but that was not through lack of effort in dirtying them. Arn thought it was rather due to the presence of Black Conn, who had adopted him and by default the rest of the squad. The fight with their Elemental leader Hans had instilled respect in the men, yet it was Arn’s battle they remembered with pride.

None now wore the cord of Bondsmen and instead sported the Dark Falcon badge on the left shoulder of their tunics. It seemed that the distinctions between them had also disappeared, and in that the tenets of Clan life had been beneficial. He heard the clump of Han’s armoured feet behind him and turned.

“We are nearing the next search area,” said Hans, “Elias is convinced that this is the one.”

Arn laughed, “Again? That’s the third sure thing in a row.”

Hans joined in with his laughter for a moment and then became more serious, “Elias is almost always right and he is looking nervous about these readings. Make sure you are ready for any eventuality.”

With a grunted affirmative, Arn moved back to join his men, a bad feeling settling into the pit of his stomach.
*

The shuttle passed over a small mountain range and began its descent to the pre-chosen landing site. It was a cautious landing, Elias scanning the area with his equipment before finally giving the green light for a landing. He was thorough, as was his want, and used a full range of spectrum analysis in his search for the mysterious energy readings.

Deep inside the mountain, a small light began to blink. It was housed inside a metal cabinet and faded almost to inexistence before becoming stronger. Others joined it, at first timidly and then whole-heartedly. Cabinet after cabinet shone brilliantly, machines began to whirr and the mountain woke from it slumber.

“Frak!” cursed Elias as his readings screamed at him, “Get us out of here!”

“What?” asked the astonished pilot.

“Just do it!” shouted Elias as the surface of the mountain began to shudder with the awakening of the beast within in. It was then that the pilot’s own alarms began to squeal furiously and he turned an astonished face to the almost apoplectic Elias, “Freebirth!” he cursed, “We are being scanned, and....someone has a lock on us. A...missile lock!”

*

The now self-acclaimed Emperor Julius was in his private quarters, admiring himself in his new finery when the officer rushed in, babbling. He calmly raised his hand and struck the fool across the mouth stopping him in mid-tirade.

“Is this how you approach your Emperor?” he snapped as the man wiped a small trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth.

“No,” he replied, dropping to one knee and bowing his head, “forgive me, please, but the news is so great, that I forgot myself.”

“Speak, then,” said Julius, “but remember that your life perhaps hangs now on a thread. This had better be worth it.”

“They’ve woken,” he said, turning a beaming face to his new Emperor, “as was foretold, the Gods have woken!”

*

“What is it?” asked Hans, as Elias frantically punched buttons on his terminal.

“An automated Defence System,” replied the Tech, “very old and seemingly tetchy. It is trying to communicate with us, but I think that we are only going to get one chance at confirmation, before it attacks us.”

“Well punch in the right code then,” said Hans dismissively.

“There is where we have our problem,” said Elias, “I have absolutely no idea what the correct code is...”



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp5 Pt3 PostPosted: 2011-03-22 05:53pm
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Julius, as had many others, ignored the tales of the Gods. He had always looked at the black boxes within the various palaces as nothing more than baubles with which to impress the superstitious. Even the stories had mainly been relegated to children’s games or had become wrapped up into village folklore. Gaius had removed the boxes from their points of veneration within the Imperial palace and had them destroyed. Somehow, this more backward palace had been overlooked.

Now though, he was having an epiphany. The matt black box sparkled with a myriad of racing lights and his men kneeled in adoration before it. A strange voice crackled into existence and Julius almost joined his men, but restrained the urge to crash to the floor by their side.

“Unidentified craft detected. Permission to execute Emperor Protocol requested...”

The voice stalled and then started again, repeating the same phrase over and over again. Emperor Aquilla noticed his men watching him and spoke to the strange flashing object.

“This is Emperor Julius Aquilla, who are you?”

“Voice pattern match not accepted,” said the voice, “please confirm execution of Emperor Protocol...”

“I am the Emperor,” shouted Julius, “you will obey me!”

“Voice pattern corrupted,” replied the disembodied voice, “implementation of Defence Protocol Alpha Two Three Zero will initiate in Three, Two, One...”

All lights ceased to flash and their Gods died before them.

*


The pilot had moved them further from the mountain itself, before dropping Hans and his squad to earth. Elias had joined them and they cautiously approached on foot.

Seismic action rocked them, knocking men from their feet with its violent action.

“Earthquake?” asked Hans.

“Not exactly,” replied Elias, “Look!”

From the top of the mountain four metallic objects pushed forth. They were in a rough square and began to shine in the reflected sunlight. Higher and higher they rose, their tapering points spearing skywards. With a final rumble they locked into place and a low hum could be heard.

“This is Jax,” the voice broke into Hans’ headset, “What is going on? Our sensors report major seismic activity in your area.”

“You would not believe us...” said an astonished Elias.

“Oh, I think that I might,” answered Jax, “That is if you were to tell me it had something to do with the distress beacon that has just activated.”

“Distress beacon?” now Elias was surprised.

“That is what we believe it to be,” Jax said, “it is a constant pulse and directed on a tight beam.”

“What are your orders?” broke in Hans.

“Shut off the signal, any way that you can. I am sending you reinforcements as we speak and have been appraised of the potential threat of missile attack.”

“Would not this help us in getting back to Winfield?” queried Elias.

“Perhaps,” said Jax, “but we have no idea to whom this signal is being sent, nor who might answer it. We must shut it off...before it’s too late.”



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp6 Pt1 PostPosted: 2011-03-26 02:22pm
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Chapter Six



Sound in space is like a silent scream. Momentous action dies before anyone notices it has begun. The asteroid belt which wended its way through the outer part of the planetary system had been home to cataclysmic impacts and quiet death. Today was different.

A signal pulsed steadily as it pierced the overpopulated garden of rock, before racing out into the black vacuum. On an ordinary day, the mute witnesses to its passage would have continued on their solitary gyrations. Instead, something listened. It was a vague recognition at first, centuries of meteor strikes and silent vigilance had deadened its capacity to understand, but its creators had designed well. With each pulse it became more aware, tiny circuits responding languidly to the imperative call. Some failed and were re-routed, the individual cells ignored as the machine became aware.

Automatic sub-routines began to churn, electrical impulses prodded and coaxed a response from long-dormant circuits, until a critical mass of commands was reached. Darkened caverns buried deep within cold rock were flushed with a faint glow, which strengthened. Machinery clicked and whirred into life and new machines checked and repaired where they could. Not all was successful as the complex had lain dormant far longer than anyone could have imagined. Lights dulled into non-existence as specific areas were discarded and energy was focussed on the more responsive.

Forgotten now, the signal continued its lonely journey towards the stars and its ultimate objective.

*

“Sir?”

Jax turned towards David, who seemed more than a little agitated.

“Yes, what else have you found?”

The Tech looked surprised, yet only for a moment.

“We are picking up an energy surge in the outer Asteroid Belt. It started a short while after the signal began. It is growing in intensity.”

“Send our fighters out there to have a look. I think that our unexpected find has yet to deliver all of its surprises.”

David relayed the orders as Jax looked out of the window, in the vague direction of their discovery. He had a very unpleasant feeling about all of this. An automated defence system, responsive asteroids and still the thing continued to hurl its message into space. What had they stumbled on?

*

The incoming Visigoths were detected long before they reached their target. New systems were activated in response. Rock split apart in explosive detonations, the detritus of centuries of inactivity was blown away in a few short moments. Huge steel doors were exposed which slid apart, groaning in protest. Behind them were revealed the mouths of dark tunnels at the end of which a faint glow could be seen. This glow burst into incandescence and swift and deadly shapes streaked out towards the oncoming fighters.



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp6 Pt2 PostPosted: 2011-03-28 11:49am
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Arn followed Hans up the slope. His new body armour no longer chafed in importune places and like the weight of his rifle, had over the last few weeks become a comforting friend. The Elemental could have easily outpaced them, but Elias set the pace, muttering to himself. Behind him, Arn’s men came in two tight groups, eyes scanning the surrounding terrain. Only he and Black Conn carried laser rifles, the others sported Clan autorifles. At his side hung a needle pistol on one side and an evil-looking combat knife on the other. A snug helmet topped off his uniform and it was via the transmitter set within it he heard Elias’ triumphant shout of discovery.

“Here!” he said emphatically, “This is some sort of entry point. Dig here.”

Two of Arn’s men were detailed to excavate the area and in a short time had uncovered a sealed metallic cover. Explosive charges were placed around its circumference and with a deafening roar, the metal was torn apart. They waited for any response, but with non-forthcoming, prepared to make their entry.

“Arn,” said Hans, “I will wait for the rest of the Elementals and then assault the signal equipment externally. There is no way that any of us in power armour can fit down this tiny hole. This job is yours.”

His response a curt nod, Arn detailed his men to their posts and watched as the first of them dropped into the black hole. He quickly followed, activating the light snapped to his harness. It was still a shock to Arn and the others the ease with which their new brothers surmounted even the most miniscule of problems. No doubt, he would eventually get used to it.

*

On flew the signal. It had reached the edge of the system when it struck its target. On the moon of the final ice-bound rock, which had mass enough to act and behave as a planet a silvery receiving dish welcomed it.

Again archaic equipment was woken, ruminating and meditating on the encoded message. This though was a much simpler installation than the others. It had only one purpose and redundancy had been over-built into its construction. There was little delay in the actuation of its tiny power plant and less in the relay of the data to its central system. In the blink of an eye the tiny electronic brain completed its singular function and the message was relayed.

This time the surge of power noted was as spectacular, as was the shortness of its duration. Equipment spoke, space folded and the new missive lanced out.

*

“How much further?” asked Arn in a whisper. The descending shaft had brought them to a sloping corridor, whose walls were illuminated by a dim light. All of his remaining men had made the descent successfully, the metallic rungs protected from the harsh attack of the air. Two of them were ahead, guns at high port as they moved cautiously forward.

“We are nearly there, according to my scans,” replied Elias, “the power source cannot be far from here.”

There was a harsh spitting sound and the lead man dropped to the floor, his weapon clattering noisily as he clutched the red hole in his leg.

“What the ...” the other screamed in pain, as his shoulder exploded in a welter of blood and bone. Pulsing red light bathed them as a long and ululating tone crashed upon them.

“I think it knows we are here,” said Elias, just as a steel door slid into place, trapping the two wounded men on its far side, “and it’s not happy.”

“Neither am I,” snarled Arn, grabbing the nearest of his men and tearing a satchel charge free from his pack, “my men are on the other side.”

He spoke briefly into his comm. and slammed the explosive down by the barrier. Conn joined him, manhandling another alongside the first.

“Overkill never hurts,” the big man said, grinning at Arn.

“Certainly when we’re in a hurry,” Arn replied, setting the charge, “time to take cover, I think.”

The two men raced after the others, diving to earth as the world turned red and rock-covered. Staring back down the corridor, Arn could see the door twisted to one side.

“Move!” he roared, as he tore back down towards his injured men. There was a whirring sound and the hiss of escaping air. Slivers of metal streaked after them, as the defence system finally awoke to the threat.

“I’m not happy,” snarled Arn as he bundled Elias to one side. The whickering sound of passing rounds seemed constant now. His men clung to the floor, none of them risking raising his head.

“Fixed emplacements,” said Elias, as he studied the trajectories of the offending shots.

“What?” asked Arn, still puzzled at some of the words used by the Tech.

“The weapons cannot fire higher or lower than they are set. If we crawl, then we will get past them. Not very sophisticated.”

Arn stared at him for a moment, wondering if the man was joking, but Elias only smiled back.

“You heard the man!” he shouted, “on your bellies and let’s go!”

*

“That is impossible!” the startled exclamation of the lead fighter pilot echoed in the Jax’s control room.

“What do you see?” he asked urgently.

“We have incoming fighters, at least fifteen. They appear to have been launched from within the Asteroid Belt itself...”

“Whose are they?” Jax interrupted insistently.

“That is what I find hard to believe,” came the response, “they are emitting a warning. Wait ... evasive manoeuvres, now!”

“What is happening?” Jax’s frustration at his inability to see what was going on had filtered into the tone of his voice.

“We are under attack,” came the strained reply, “but not from all of them. Some are headed your way, directly.”



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp6 Pt3 PostPosted: 2011-03-30 07:05am
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
The Clan Watch was a curious body. It was founded by Nicholas Kerensky to spy on Clan Wolverine, and its functions were considered un-Clanlike by many. There were adherents who understood the worth of these warriors and scientists and utilised their intelligence gathering and scouting skills. Almost classed as lower than solahma units by many, Clan Jade Falcon and in particular Kael Pershaw saw the inherent worth of their actions. It was one such scientist who first heard the strange signal.

He, like many of his Watch brothers, was sat in front of scanning equipment, scouring the channels for any intercepted message or interesting communication. So, it was with surprise he picked up the archaic and yet urgent signal. Immediately he relayed it to his Khan and his interpretation of its significance. No report was ever sent to the IlKhan, as practice demanded, rather Pershaw mobilised a warship specifically to find and take advantage of the promised riches.

*

Within the Deep Periphery, others received the urgent missive. They were the owners of the rightful destination of the signal, yet had long given up hope of ever hearing it. Centuries had passed, the lost parties forgotten of except in story books and government records. When the receiving devices sparked into life though, everything changed.

Immediately an expedition was organised, well equipped with both civilian and military resources. This was the unlooked for blessing, the fountain of youth, the answer to all of their dreams. Money and prestige could be gained on the back of this discovery and all wanted to be a part of it.

*

Emperor Julius kicked the now dead box and struck at it with his sword. Nothing worked, it refused to listen to any of his Imperial commands. When he had run out of curses and most of his breath, he stopped and, chest heaving, tried to make sense of it all. It was then reports began to arrive, of the flying machine which had disappeared into the nearby mountain range. Shortly after the earth shook and then strange structures were seen blooming in the distance.

The ex-General had learnt a healthy respect for the demons, yet he had to do something. He could feel the power slipping from his hands already. Both Infantry and Artillery units had eventually made their way to him and their idleness did not bode well. Already there were rumours of discontent and he knew that the only thing which would keep them occupied was war, in one form or another.

Men still within the chamber stared worriedly at him. His towering rage had disappeared, diminishing him in their eyes. Still, they snapped to attention when he sprung into action, demanding his horse and the mobilisation of the troops. They cheered him when he spoke of how they would capture the flying machine and destroy any of the demons they found.

Many of them had not entered the city with him and so had been spared the humiliation of defeat. Very few survivors had escaped with Julius and those whose loyalty was suspected, had been reassigned, permanently. So it was that Julius once again led a body of troops to battle, who lied of the ease in which they would strike down their enemies and who even began to believe that the demons were a figment of his own imagination.

*

Arn had led his men away from the first of many ambushes. They had recovered and treated, as best they could, the two injured men and now found themselves pinned down again. Their own communications devices worked, but they could not raise Hans outside. They were on their own.

“Where are we, now,” gasped Arn, ducking down behind the remains of what Elias had called a heating unit. Lasers pierced the gloom as the complex's defences strove to eliminate their perceived threat.

“Close,” grunted Elias,“ at least with respect to the power source.”

Ahead of them stretched a large open space. It was dimly lit, yet frequently they saw more from the intense flashes of light which streaked across it. Dark humps of blackness cast momentary shadows and they were able to inch their way forwards. Return fire had already accounted for three emplacements, yet there appeared to be many more still functioning.

“Do you have any suggestions of what we can do?” asked Arn, snapping off a shot in the general direction of the latest beam.

“Hans would be good, right about now,” returned Elias, “one or two missiles could easily sort out this problem.”

“Well he’s not here and we have no missiles,” snapped Arn, “even if I knew what they were.”

A deep rumble became a bass growling and Arn looked quizzically at Elias.

“You really do not want to know,” mumbled the Tech, “believe me, you do not. Things have just got a whole lot worse.”



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp6 Pt4 PostPosted: 2011-04-01 01:20pm
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Star Commander Lee Binetti watched the sleek shapes as they swooped towards him. Their movements were crisp, each instantaneously mirroring that of its sister ship. His computer had initially had problems identifying the craft, cycling unceasingly between known Clan and Inner Sphere fighters. It had stopped warily on one shape for a moment and then began again. Finally it had come to rest on an impossibility. Here though he could see the real version flashing towards him.

The actinic pulse of PPC’s made him flip his Visigoth to one side and shout useless commands to his men. They were all veterans, their conversion from Jade Falcons had been easier for them, as they had maintained their unit and command structure. Inner Sphere pilots were hard to come by in the Dark Falcons as were more fighters. He gritted his teeth as a barrage of medium laser fire sprayed past him and cursed at the precision flying. From his read-out, Lee knew that no human pilot flew these craft. Mark 39 Voidseeker attack drones carried sophisticated battle computers and the neural net they formed together, made them deadly foes.

What they were doing here was not his main concern, rather how they could be dealt with. Once again he sent a transmission to Jax, warning him about his visitors and what he could expect as another burst of lasers narrowly missed his left wing tip.

*

“I repeat, these are SLDF attack drones,” said Jax to the listening Hans, “very fast, one heavy laser, one medium and a PPC under the nose. They were designed to be resistant to electronic counter attack.”

“Why are they attacking us?” asked Hans as he waved the rest of his Elemental reinforcements towards cover.

“We must have woken them up, somehow,” said Jax, “and when they asked nicely who we were, we uncivilly gave the wrong answer. To add to your problems, we have detected a rather large troop movement from the nearby populated area. It seems that General Julius has not learnt his lesson.”

“That,” said Hans flatly, “is the least of my worries. We still have no response from Arn and Elias, and unless we blow a huge hole in this hillside, there is little chance of us following them down there.”

“That is understood. We will just have to trust that they will complete their mission,” replied Jax, “and in the meantime, get your people ready to receive visitors.”

*

“Where did they come from?” mused Jax. It was more of a rhetorical question, but David answered anyway.

“We have tracked them back to the asteroid belt. They must have been hidden there. Data suggests that these drones were seeded quite liberally throughout known space. Their use was normally for less strategic systems. Most of them appear to have been destroyed after the Second Succession War. That is what both our and Federated Commenwealth information suggests.”

“Well some were forgotten,” snapped Jax, “who is controlling them?”

“Defense Satellites were speculated as being their homes, that and the larger Caspar drone warships. At least we can be thankful that it is just fighters.”

“Knowing our luck,” mumbled Jax, “this is only the start.”

“Once they are within range of the Defensive system on the ground,” commented David, “I would assume that control will be switched. Although they do have certain independence, even then.”

“It seems that our only option is to blow them up,” mused Jax, “which is a shameful waste.”

“It is not the only option,” said David, “if we could get them to recognise us, they would be a valuable addition to our forces.”

“I assume then that you can wave a magic wand and tell them to back home,” Jax had not intended his sarcasm to slip out, but his frayed nerves were beginning to show.

“No,” David said with a grin, “but I know a man who maybe could invent the wand.”

“Well, call him then, man,” snapped Jax.

“There is a slight problem,” David said, his voice becoming serious, “last I heard, we had lost contact with him.”

Jax stared at David and then took his frustration out on a nearby piece of inert furniture. Could this situation get any worse?

*

“We need to move,” said Elias as the growling machine rolled forward on its huge wheels.

“What is it?” whispered Arn, awed by the huge machine.

“A light tank,” returned Elias, peering around his sparse cover, “although in our case, light really does not give it credit.”

“How do we fight it?” there was a determined set to Arn’s face, which Elias liked.

“We do not,” he replied, “we find another way round.”

“There’s only one of them,” Arn said sulkily.

“And if you were all in power armour, we might stand a chance. However, body armour against that thing is a recipe for disaster.”

“It does not look dangerous…” began Arn as a bolt of light seared its way through a nearby structure, “…but then again. Move out!”

Elias studied the machine a little more. One large laser and what looked like missile racks on the side of the turret. No, definitely not dangerous, he chuckled as he scurried after his disappearing comrades.



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp7 Pt1 PostPosted: 2011-04-03 12:57pm
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Chapter Seven

The corridor was beginning to fill with smoke as the tank continued in its vain attempt to find them. Burning debris sent its choking fingers after Arn and his men. Fortunately the computer-controlled vehicle could reach only so far into the darkness with its turret and neither could it depress the barrel sufficiently to effectively terminate this perceived threat.

“This is not working,” coughed Arn, “we need another plan.”

Elias was staring into his scanner and Arn could almost hear the cogs within his brain functioning. Decisively the Tech half-straightened and pointed at the nearest wall.

“There is a parallel tunnel close by,” he said, “you need to create a hole, here.”

“Is it safe?” asked Arn as he motioned Conn forwards. The big man unslung his pack and withdrew some explosive, fashioning the malleable material into a shaped charge.

Very deliberately, Elias turned to look at the tank, before returning his gaze to Arn’s face.

“Okay,” grumbled Arn, “stupid question. When we get through this wall, then what?”

“One problem at a time,” he said, shrugging his shoulders and wincing as another shot roared overhead, “but I would be obliged if you could hurry it up a little.”

*

“Freebirth!” cursed Binetti, “These things are fast!”

He watched as the group of fighters turned together in preparation for another run.

“I have had enough,” said the Star Commander, “these drones need to be split apart. It is too easy for them with one grouped target. On my command, I want the four of you moving in different directions. Their reactions may be fast, but I want to see how fast.”

Lee sent each of his men their vectors and then counted down.

“Now!” he snapped, and his well-trained veterans instantly reacted, whilst Binetti maintained his course.

There was a moment of confusion amongst the drones, which the Star Commander took advantage of firing all of his weapons into the massed ranks, just before they moved to counter his move. This created instant discord; one missile impacted directly onto the swept-forward wing of the lead drone, ripping it into shreds and spinning the craft into its neighbour. His lasers burned through plate, causing other craft to initiate evasive manoeuvres and their cohesion was lost. He grinned as his men inverted their courses as planned and raced into the attack. This was more like it!

*

“The drones will be upon you soon,” commented David, “as will be the lead units of the local ground forces.”

“Good,” said Hans, checking his display for enemy icons, “I would hate to think that this would be too easy.”

He had split his force, sending half of the Elementals to the far side of the hill, ready to disrupt the oncoming army of General Julius. It was a simple plan; a target-rich environment for the drones would be one of the few possibilities he had to overload their battle computers. Unfortunately his men would be the ones that the machines would detect, so placing them within the oncoming soldiers and inviting return fire was the only viable option.

“Engage when you are in range,” he ordered, “our objective is maximum destruction and confusion. We need those drones occupied so that Arn and Elias have time to complete their mission.”

There were no audible replies and he had expected none. New icons appeared and he checked his weapons once more. It was time.



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp7 Pt2 PostPosted: 2011-04-06 07:44am
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Elias had led them away from the machine. Their passage through the wall had been relatively easy, not so afterwards. The tunnel was much smaller and wound a tortuous path around the open area. They could still hear the tank prowling outside and at any moment, Arn expected it to smash hungrily through the thin wall. Even though Elias had explained that it was not sentient, but controlled by a computer, the local soldiers harboured remembered stories of demons and this thing, certainly fit the bill.

At last he called them to a halt in front of a strange metal cover which he told them was an inspection hatch.

“This should bring us out behind the tank,” he said, unfastening the retaining clamps as he spoke.

“Should?” asked one of the soldiers.

The Tech laughed, “Will, I should have said. Once out, we will have a relatively short time to traverse the remaining space and enter the opening opposite. My calculations indicate that is the passage which will lead us direct to the command centre of this installation.”

“How short a time do you think we will have?” asked Arn carefully.

“Can you run fast?” replied Elias, with a grin.

*

Emperor Julius had just started his men up the nearby slope when the demons struck. Their horrific weapons tore their way through his lead ranks and he suddenly remembered why he had run away the last time they had met. Dark shapes leapt and bounded down the slope and were soon hidden amongst the press of his soldiers’ bodies. The only indication of their presence was the staccato roar of their guns, the scream of wounded and dying men and the stench of terror which wafted across the battlefield.

Julius, though, had not come unprepared. He valued his men’s lives little and so gave the order for his guns to fire. Small field pieces were quickly unlimbered and trained on the heaving mass. Cannon balls were loaded in some of the pieces and grapeshot in others, and, as his hand fell they opened fire.

The effect was devastating, not so much for the Elementals in their power armour, but specifically for the Emperor’s own men. Balls smashed through their ranks, exploding bodies in a welter of blood. Through sheer luck one of them struck power armour, knocking the man off his feet with its momentum but doing little damage. With the grapeshot the carnage was multiplied. Gleefully he ordered his men to keep firing and drove his infantrymen forward, their muskets spitting ineffectually.

As Emperor, he did not commit himself to the battle, but watched open-mouthed as his men died. More by his own hand than that of the demons’. The final thought of retreat had entered his head when the most terrifying of all came to pass. Sleek silver shapes flashed into his vision as they attacked. They did not target him where he waited but fired directly into the midst of the wounded and dying soldiers. Then, Julius realised that they were not seeking to punish his temerity in defying his Gods, rather they struck at the demons. A light of wonderment entered and he vowed to appease his Gods. He would find another of the Black Boxes and make it understand who and what he was.

His attention was drawn back to the remainder of his forces and he signalled the withdrawal. He saw something impact and throw bodies and earth skywards, along with a huge gout of flame. Light pulsed in answer and a thin sliver of silver roared upwards, away from the demons and towards his saviours.

Horns sounded and his men withdrew, those at least who were still able. He watched as the demons disengaged and sped back up the hill, firing in response to their attackers. Now, he felt that he might have a chance. He would not make the same mistake again.



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp7 Pt3 PostPosted: 2011-04-13 01:27pm
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Breath rasping, legs pumping and his satchel bouncing in a mad frenzy against his back, Elias ran. At his side at first, and then quickly outdistancing him, were Arn and his men. He heard the change in pitch of the tank’s engine and cold sweat prickled between his shoulder blades.

Black Conn saw him struggling and tossed his rifle to Arn, before spinning and grasping the Tech by one arm. Almost effortlessly he half-dragged Elias along, tossing him bodily through the yawning tunnel opening and diving in after him, just as a blast of heat passed close over head.

“Thank you,” gasped Elias, as he crawled forward. Conn grinned at him and then picked him up by the belt, sprinting for the safety of a twist in the passage.

“I thought we’d lost you there for a moment,” grinned Arn, “welcome back.”

“I was saving myself,” Elias grumbled.

“Good,” Arn said, pointing towards the double doors which barred further access, “because you need to deal with that.”

“I do have a little explosive left,” interrupted Conn sheepishly.

“No need,” returned Elias, pulling cables from his pack and attaching them to his data pad, “this I can deal with.”

All the while he worked, the tank could be heard rumbling back and forth. There was the occasional petulant burst of heat as the machine tried, in vain, to reach them. Once, it slammed against the entrance and the soldiers tensed, but it quickly returned to its vigilance.

“Yes!” exclaimed Elias and the doors slid open, revealing another short passage which opened out into a roughly circular room. There was a huge central cylinder within which lights dashed in crazy abandon. Around the cylinder were set a bank of control panels and Elias eagerly started forward.

“Wait!” shouted Arn, as he caught movement in his peripheral vision and a bright charge of particles spat out of the dim interior.

*

Hans and his men were fortunate that the attack drones were built more for ship-to-ship encounters, than anti-personnel work. Their runs were predictable and they came en-masse. He had split his men into small teams, which appeared to further confuse the attackers, as did their agile movements.

“Let them come,” he mouthed into his transmitter, “just a little closer...now, fire!”

Missiles shot up in a flat arc, giving the front drone no time to react. There was a massive explosion and the craft wobbled, before splitting apart. Half of it flew into its neighbours and the other part careened earthwards, bouncing and tumbling in its final death throws. The compact group of fighters whirled away, quickly reforming and preparing for another attack.

The Elemental saw friendly icons appear on his display and knew that his men were returning. This was about to get interesting.

*

“Is he dead?” asked Arn as he looked at the crumpled figure before him.

“No,” replied Conn, “the only way I could stop him, was to give him a little tap.”

Arn looked first at the unconscious man and then the deep mark scorched into the ground by his side.

“Well, you hit him, you wake him up,” snapped Arn, passing his thermos of water across to Conn, “and thanks. We need him.”

Conn grunted and tipped the full contents of the thermos over Elias’ head. The tech spluttered his way to consciousness and glared at Conn.

“What did you...?” and then he saw the black streak next to him, “Oh, thank you.”

With a grin, Conn helped him to his feet and patted down Elias’ tunic, “It was only a tap,” he said as he turned away.

“Elias!” Arn called, just as the man was about to respond, “We’re wasting time. How do we turn this weapon off?”

Quickly, Elias scanned the room, finally settling on a nearby panel. With his data pad in one hand, cables dangling loosely, he pointed.

“I need a little time working on that,” he said, and then turned to Conn.

“You seem like a good person to create a distraction,” Elias said flatly, “I need a few moments.”

Conn stared at Elias for a moment and then laughed, “Sure,” he said, “but next time, it won’t be just a tap.”

*


“Sir, we are receiving information of multiple jump signatures. They are still some distance away, but we have definite confirmation,” said David, startling Jax from the study of his tactical display.

Hans’ voice crackled over the speakers, “Attack drones are breaking contact, I repeat, they are disengaging.”

“Hans, wait one moment please,” Jax turned to the Tech, “what more can you tell me?”

“Star Commander Binetti has also reported that the remaining Voidseekers have disengaged. He requests permission to follow.”

“Negative,” said Jax, “get him back to the Jumpship and find out where we are with the repairs.”

Come on Elias, he thought to himself, wave that magic wand.



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp8 Pt1 PostPosted: 2011-04-16 05:03pm
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Chapter Eight


The waves caused by the emerging ships bounced and rolled against each other, their myriad reflections being caught by the old Star League installation. Its systems analysed them, separating the various contacts and attempting to identify them. Each appearance was pinged by a tight signal, its invitation for identification receiving no response and the mechanical brain chattered to itself and the attack drones. Threat analysis had shown where the greatest danger laid and so the subservient fighters hurried in response to their master’s call.

Inside the construct, bursts of energy flew through conduits. Insistently they hammered against reticent receivers, whose centuries of idleness provided a greater barrier than had ever been expected. One pathway slept, yet the control centre would not give up. Again and again it pushed, tore and screamed at the blockage. At last it received a response.

As a sleeping giant opens one blood shot eye, its sister machine struggled angrily to awareness. Bleary exchanges happened in the blink of an eye and sensors snapped to life. One huge power plant stuttered and then burst forth, followed by a second. The defibrillation had been successful. Engines flared, retaining bolts burst and from the shadow of the artificial asteroid a dark shape slunk free. Its birth was mirrored by a spectacular second, rock shattering and splitting apart. Slowly at first and then with gathering speed, the two huge predators swam towards their targets.

*

Captain-General Gunther De La Cruz tapped his fingers in irritation against the arm of his command chair. This mission had been expected to be difficult, but he had been surprised to find that a FedCom jumpship had beaten him here. There was evidence of activity from within the asteroid belt, which had brought a shark-like grin to his face. He could almost taste success.

Sensors indicated that the jumpship was heavily outmatched by his force, although they had picked up a small contingent of fighters close to the vessel. That was of little concern, though. What was intolerable, though, was the information he had just received. Attack drones had already been activated and were inbound. It appeared that their greatest wishes had been fulfilled, in that the base was operational. He was already mentally counting his money, when a red-faced and frightened junior brought him more information.

Oh, the richness of it all, and it was so close. The Captain-General gave the order for the recognition signals to be sent and sat back in his chair with a smile.

*

Elana entered the command room to find Jax staring once again at his tactical screen. She had recently arrived from their training camp, in which the second intake of recruits was progressing nicely. It helped that all of them had fought previously with the ex-Emperor’s army and so there was a solid basis on which to build new foundations.

“What news?” she asked calmly. The relationship between herself and Jax had matured into an informal confidence, which many others could not or would not share.

“Jump capable ships have entered the system,” Jax stated flatly, “and no, we have no idea who they are. At present they seem content to wait, although I am not sure for what.”

“And our forces?” she queried, more concerned about troops in action, rather than enemies yet to be declared.

Jax continued to study the data in front of him, but spoke to her over his shoulder.

“The attack drones have disengaged and appear to be moving to intercept our new guests. There is more activity reported from the asteroid belt, which has yet to be confirmed. It seems as though we are considered the lesser of two evils, right now.”

“That is a good thing?” she queried.

“Of that, I am unsure,” Jax said, “we need for Elias and Arn to get in touch with us. Contact was lost and we have no way of knowing what they have encountered.”

“Can Hans not follow them?” her question was half-dismissive.

“Only by blowing up half the mountain,” responded Jax.

There was a wicked smile on her lips as she spoke. “And your point is...?”



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp8 Pt2 PostPosted: 2011-04-19 09:18am
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
“Understood,” said Hans, motioning his men forward, “we will create our own access tunnel. It will not be pretty, but it will be effective.”

“Your objective is to find Elias and help him, if you can. However, if all else fails, destroy the complex.”

Hans acknowledged the order and approached the entry point that Arn and his team had used. He stitched a pattern in the earth with his laser and stepped back, as the explosive charges were laid. Something had obviously changed which needed the Tech’s deft touch. First of all though, the hammer would be used. The ground heaved as the explosives tore into the dirt, digging a deep crater with their violence.

There was a cracking sound away to the left and Hans leapt away, as the earth split asunder. Like the petals of a huge flower, metallic strips folded back and a growling could be heard as if from the den of an enraged beast. First a long tubular shape emerged and then the body, wheels spinning as the machine gripped the newly broken earth. A laser spoke, flashing out and stripping the rock away where Hans had stood moments before. Now clear, the vehicle spun towards its target, the echo of its passage still resounding from deep within its darkened lair. It was joined by a second and then a third.

“Freebirth!” cursed Hans, as three Chevalier light tanks rolled forth. His targeting reticule chimed and he fired, his SRM streaking towards the first of them. With a smashing roar, it struck. Still the beast came on, its heavy armour shrugging off the impact.

At his first shot, his men joined in. This was not going to be as easy as he had thought.

*

“Hurry up,” shouted Conn, as the PPC scored the wall near his latest dive path.

Elias looked up once, then concentrated on his task. The panel was on the floor next to him and his hands were buried deep inside the control recess. Cables spilled across his lap, as his hands feverishly split and remade connections. Twice now, he thought he had succeeded, to find the power rerouted and sweat pouring from his brow, he feverishly tried again.

Arn could see the automated defence system. It was split into two separate units which ran around the room on some sort of concealed track. It was fast. Too fast for his men’s rifles and he now rested his laser across the shoulder of one of his men. The muzzle wavered as the man’s chest heaved with adrenalin-induced excitement.

“Stop breathing!” he snapped and the man obediently held his last breath. He tracked the foremost unit and watched as it fired again. Good, he had it. Beneath him the soldier’s face began to turn purple, but he obeyed Arn’s command to the letter. Just as his vision began to blur from lack of oxygen, Arn fired three times in quick succession, before bowling the man over as he crashed into cover.

The first shot struck the spherical shape, ricocheting away. A second burned into the concealed track, melting metal with its intensity and the third one cut away at the exposed and smoking cables. There was a muffled roar and the unit came staggering to a halt.

Its partner had now targeted Arn. Beam after beam slammed into the ground nearby, causing the soldiers to huddle behind the control panel where Elias was working. Conn readied himself for another dash for safety, and Elias pulled frantically at the cables, as once again he was foiled in his attempts to power down the awful guardian.

“Frak this!” snapped Arn, pulling Elias aside and sticking his rifle inside the panel.

“No!” shouted Elias, as Arn pulled the trigger.

With a sharp crack, the panel exploded under Arn’s intense bombardment, throwing him back and into the open. As he looked up, he saw the defence unit halt, realign itself and the glow of its cannon as the deadly charge built.

*

“What is delaying you?” Captain-General De La Cruz peered over the shoulder of his subordinate, the reek of worry-induced sweat percolating the air.

“It is not responding to the code,” whispered the officer,

“Get out of the way!” snarled De La Cruz, tugging roughly at the man’s shoulder and snatching the data pad from his hand. It was impossible, he could feel his triumph slipping from his grasp.

A quick glance showed the bulk of the two massive shapes converging on his position. Smaller points of light, suddenly appeared as though a deadly mist had sprayed forth. “Move!” he screamed, punching buttons desperately.

“New contact,” shouted his communications officer.

“What?” the Captain-General’s voice squeaked in disbelief.

“New jump signature,” the man intoned flatly, “we have contact. It is a warship and is broadcasting on an open channel.”

The Captain-General heard an arrogant voice echo round his control room, and knew that he had failed.

*

Each of the craft spat forth a silvery cloud of smaller vessels, which rapidly aligned themselves. Their silvery wings glinted as they banked and wheeled in tight formation. Then, as if receiving a single command, they shot forward towards their appointed targets.

The newcomer had not been forgotten. Courses were altered and one of the craft swung around to face the recently arrived warship. Deep within its hull, batteries charged and weapons cycled and on the asteroid a man-made machine pulsed further commands.

*

Conn leapt forward, his front foot planted on the sloping edge of one of the control panels. He pushed off, arms outstretched. With a grunt he caught hold of the defence unit with one hand and used his momentum to swing his body round. The large knife is his hand shot forward, the tip burying into the cannon’s open maw and jamming its body deep inside.
Sweat loosened his grip and he tumbled to the floor, twisting to watch Arn’s final moments. There was a shower of sparks and the spherical unit gyrated wildly, the knife falling free. Conn knew he had lost his last chance of saving his new friend and stared on helplessly.

He heard the whizz of a passing shot, the heat causing him to flinch in pain and swivelled, expecting to see the burnt and smoking remains of his leader.

Before him stood Arn, legs spread wide apart and laser hanging limply from one hand.

“Frakker!” he spat before speaking to Elias, “Are you ever going to turn this thing off?”

Elias laughed and scurried forward, ignoring the charred panel and signalling out one of the bigger control units, “Turn it off? No. But I am going to re-educate it a little.”



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp8 Pt3 PostPosted: 2011-04-29 11:22am
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
“At last!” Captain-General De La Cruz could not hide his glee at the positive confirmation of his signal. He watched the data transmission begin, sequences cascading across his screen as the defence satellite and his ship began to communicate. The second of the Caspar M5 drones halted in its menacing path and waited for new instructions, whilst its sister ship continued on its steady way towards the menacing shape of the recently arrived protagonist.

Once again, he began to dream of untold riches and power. Who else could claim to have discovered such a prize? Mentally pinching himself, he gave new orders; the sooner he got his people on the ground the better. There was also the strange FedCom jumpship to be taken care of.

“Sir?” the Comm officer’s voice was apologetic, although uncertainity and a little fear was there too.

“What now?”

“The signal is stalled, Sir.”

“Do I have to do everything myself?” queried De La Cruz in exasperation, just as a holo-message registered. It was coming from the planet.

“Pass it through to me,” he snapped, his egotistical fantasies rapidly disappearing.

The image shimmered and then strengthened. It came from what appeared to be a war zone, smoke and sparks could clearly be seen in the background. A face smudged with oil and ash grinned at him and as the man turned to speak to someone else outside the visible area, De La Cruz caught the flash of a strange insignia; a dark bird on a green background.

“Hello,” the cheery faced soldier said, “I am Elias, of the Dark Falcons. To what do we owe the pleasure of your visit?”

De La Cruz spluttered with rage, his words an incoherent babble.

“Sorry?” the man asked again, “There must be something wrong with the signal.”

“I am Captain-General De La Cruz, of the Hanseatic League. We are here to recover what is rightfully ours. You would be advised to surrender immediately, before I am forced to remove your irritating presence for good.”

“Now, now,” said Elias, “that is no way to speak to a new friend. I have been authorised to offer you the possibility of a peaceful withdrawal. It seems that you are not the only one with claims of ownership, as we notice another party has also arrived...”

“Enough!” screamed De La Cruz, “I will not take instructions from an unknown group, living on a backwater planet. You will obey me!”

There was a pause, then the voice returned, this time flat and cold.

“The Dark Falcons take instructions from no-one. You have been warned. Proceed at your own risk!”

For a moment, there was silence, and then the Captain-General exploded in rage.

“Order all of our ships to proceed at full speed for the planet! Dropships to prepare for a hot entry. We will smash these fools. Send the drones to take care of our arrogant friends here, whilst we deal with those on the ground.”

“That,” said the officer, his voice measured and strangely resigned, “will not be possible.”

“What!” roared De La Cruz.

“We have lost control of the drones...”



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 COMPLETE + BK2 The Lost Chp9 Pt1 PostPosted: 2011-05-02 02:00pm
Offline
Padawan Learner
User avatar

Joined: 2011-01-27 06:37am
Posts: 218
Chapter Nine



Within the Hanseatic League, there had long been stories of lost Star League bases. From its original foundation, the inner circle of the ruling council had zealously guarded the sacred logs of their Star League forefathers. In them, were detailed accounts of the wonders of satellite defence systems, caches and machinery. The avarice of this mercantile league, and its position of force within the Deep Periphery had driven its steady expansion.

On the capital world of Bremen, an order of state-funded scholars and technicians reverentially maintained records of recognition codes, equipment specifications and three receiving devices. These machines were monitored continuously, and it was one of these which had caught the computer-generated message.

Quickly, a combined force of Regional Defence and Convoy Protection was put together; an unheard of undertaking, which consisted of a brigade-size unit of BattleMechs and Combat Vehicles, plus Marines, Aerospace Assets, Assault Dropships and Jumpships. This was too great a prize to be taken unawares. Captain General De La Cruz was given overall command and was charged with success at all costs.

Once the area and technology had been secured, merchant vessels would follow to carry back the technology and perhaps seed the new world with colonists. It had been a good plan, but had been doomed to failure from the beginning. One of the Leagues fundamental premises had been flawed; they were not the only ones to know of the signal.

*

Kael Pershaw had not expected to be the last to arrive, nor that his welcoming committee would be so large and hostile. Even with his warship and all of its assets, he could see that they were outmatched. If they could get down onto the ground, he was sure of victory, but the fact that one of the drone warships and its complement of fighters was heading directly for him, had not escaped his notice.

He gave the order to launch his own fighters and to prepare for battle. His only hope was that the second ship and the Hanseatic League assets did not join the fight. Pragmatically, he knew that he either had to control or destroy this old Star League base. If it became necessary, he would withdraw and bring back allies, although that was not his first choice.
Pershaw bared his teeth in a feral grin as the anticipation of battle coursed through him. No-one had answered his batchall and so he was not limited by restricted resources. Perhaps, he would not need any help after all.

*

Hans fired his jets, leaping back away from the laser round. This was getting just a little hot. Two of his men were down, their suits trying their best to maintain the broken bodies within. One of the Chevalier tanks was stationary; three of its wheels had been shredded away and its turret whirred in frustration as it tried to hit one of the rapidly moving Elementals. The other two tanks were still aggressively trying to erase the rest of his unit. It was then he heard more growling echoing from the underground tunnel and Hans knew they were in trouble.

He watched first one and then another of the beasts emerged. They were slow and stately, yet deadly in their intent. These machines were slightly different, blisters of strange shapes clung to their sides and the lead tank had an unsightly protuberance perched high on its turret. Knowing it was less than useless, but determined to take at least one of these machines with him, Hand sighted on the turret itself, awaiting the familiar sound of his last missile locking on target. Just as he was about to fire, he heard a familiar voice.

“I really would not do that, if I was you.”

“Elias!” shouted Hans, as the blisters unfurled to reveal the crouching forms of Arn and his men, “You took your time.”

“We had one or two minor setbacks,” replied the Tech cheerfully. Hans could hear mutterings from Arn, something about “minor, my frakking backside!” and then he gladly watched the initial tanks power down.

“So, we do not need to blow this up?”

“No,” Elias said, “I am afraid we could not, even if we wanted to. A rather sophisticated defence system, if I might say.”

“Was it worth the pain and effort?” Hans asked, indicating his downed men.

“Definitely,” Elias said, now very serious, “and you need to get Lieutenant Jax here at once. This place is enormous and I have only just started cataloguing it. Just let me say that these tanks are the least of what I have found.”

*

Arn liked the tanks. Now that he had accepted that they were no longer demon beasts, he thrilled to the idea of riding in one. Elias had told him that normally, these machines were designed to be piloted by humans.

The Tech’s descriptions of what they could do had been hard to understand, but the thought of commanding one had filled him with a childish glee. When Elias had talked about the difference between these and BattleMechs, Arn and Conn had scoffed. Machines as tall as a palace, which made the Elementals look like babies. Very hard to believe.

He heard Elias talking to the Leftenant and Jax’s command that they wait where they were for his arrival. Arn patted the machine on its armoured flank affectionately and moved off to help with the recovery of Hans’ men and to set up an initial perimeter. That was a least something he knew how to do and if Elias was right, would become increasingly necessary as it appeared that they could expect unwelcome visitors shortly.

*

Elana had returned to the training camp under instructions from Jax to accelerate the pace of graduation. She knew that if the enemy forces reached the planet her group of recruits were poorly armed, both mentally and technologically, to resist. It was her job to somehow even the odds.

Her first instruction was that all of the recent graduations were recalled. Imperial soldiers, still awaiting induction, would need to take up their old duties for now. They would be given crash courses in the use of the new rifles being issued, but there was not enough time to complete their training.

Two classes were ready for their passing out and this she brought forward. There were another two groups halfway through their training, but now they would need to finish their education on the job. She sent the shuttle for all of the spare autorifles and ammunition available and called her training cadre together. Improvisation would be the name of the game and it was something she had learnt from a master.

*

Jax’s shuttle landed on an open space in front of two of the tanks. Their menacing shapes gave him a slight fright as the turrets tracked his descent, but Elias assured him that they were on standby and that his pilot had transmitted the correct identification signal. No longer did the old Star League code work, rather now that of Elias’ own invention; a particularly Dark Falcon recognition.

The Tech himself was waiting for Jax as he stepped out of the shuttle. Grouped with him, as though forming a guard of honour, were Hans, Arn and their men. Brief formalities over, Elias led him down into the complex.

Muted light aided their passage and the tramp of booted feet gave Jax a comforting feeling. They passed through damaged corridors, this time directly crossing the large cavernous space where Arn and his men had met the first tank, and finally reached the control centre. It was bright in contrast to the rest of the areas that they had passed, although this too showed the residual effect of the Dark Falcons’ passage.

Elias led him to one of the central control panel and bade him sit in one of the less damaged seats.

“What can you tell me that can be of some help to us?” Jax asked.

“I can do better than that,” said the excited Tech, flicking switches and coalescing a holo-image, “I can show you...”

*



The Wildwose

A Guiding Light

Sudden Dearth

Gerard A. Whitfield

Top
 Profile  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 128 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 5 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group