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 The Hidden

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AmenRa
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Age : 46

PostSubject: The Hidden   Sun Nov 18, 2007 8:17 am

Fleet battle cruiser Arizona slowed to less than five hundred meters per second. As she topped the small moon, her shadow was cast upon its cratered surface by the system's binary suns. She was a large ship, her forward pod bearing the distinctive outlets of torpedo tubes and missile arrays. Aft, behind the connecting dorsals, the hull bristled with point defense particle cannons, and the hull then widened to form the housing for the plasma drive exhausts. Her coloring of flat, dark gray painted a menacing silhouette for the Alliance Fleet Command's fastest and most dangerous battleship.

In the Combat Information Center, Captain John Hampton sat in the center chair, his eyes fixed on one of the three viewscreens before him. To his right, and just behind him, sat Commander Ranyr, the ship's executive officer. Arrayed around the oval shaped room were sensor technicians, weapons control, and the helm and navigation station in the front. Just below the forward observation windows was a large, main view screen, flanked by several smaller screens.

Hampton watched the navigation display, seeing the distance now to their main objective, the planet Galazor. "Can we hold station with this moon we're over and follow its orbit?" he asked to no one in particular.

"I don't think so, sir," Ranyr replied, "it appears this moon is on an eliptical orbit around the planet. At its farthest point, passive sensors will do no good at all." Ranyr was always to the point. He was Byirian, with pale, white skin and fine, silver hair.

"Well," Hampton stated, "we sure as hell can't go active with sensors. If the pirate's strike base is indeed on Galazor, they will see us for sure." The captain swiveled his chair to check a computer terminal beside him when someone began to shout.

"Torpedo inbound!" came the voice of a sensor technician. "Torpedo bearing two-one-zero mark four at minus five-zero degrees! Range is seven-zero thousand kilometers!"

Hampton grimaced. "Man battle stations anti-vehicle," he said to Ranyr. "Shields at maximum," he ordered to the weapons officer.

When Ranyr relayed the order through the intra-ship communications system, four hundred thirty crewmembers stepped to and ran to their stations. In the torpedo room, technicians programmed the fire control computers to load varying sets of weapons into the ready load-outs. Everyone knew their captain had just ordered Arizona into battle.

"Sensors," Captain Hampton said, "find me a launch vehicle."

"Scanning now, sir," came the reply.

"Yesterday, Chief," Hampton stated evenly.

The chief petty officer knew what that meant. He activated the active sensor arrays. He had a positive sensor return within a second.

"Contact bearing two zero two mark zero at minus three zero," the chief replied. "Contact identified as a Pulgar class missile frigate," he added.

"Designate contact Master One," Hampton ordered. "Weapons, firing solution for Master One, please," he told the weapons officer.

Unfortunately, going to active sensors did something other than allow Arizona to find the vessel that shot at them. The active sensor ping that located the missile frigate was also detected by the torpedo that the frigate had launched. This same torpedo, which was only searching for Arizona before, had now acquired the Alliance battle cruiser and was homing in.

"Targeting computer is downloading the data now, sir," the weapons officer replied.

Hampton noticed his hands were sweating. He rubbed them across the front of his pants and remembered to remain calm. Every crew member aboard this ship, his ship, was depending their very lives on his every word.

"Torpedo from Master One is homing, sir!" the sensor chief exclaimed. "Impact with us in twenty-eight seconds!"

Hampton turned to his XO. "Ready counter-measures," he ordered. Ranyr nodded his head and went to work at his console. He looked over his shoulder at the weapons officer. "Point defense guns to automatic," he told him. "Oh, and if you could get me that firing solution on Master One sometime today would be nice," he added with a half-smile.

The weapons officer continued to make small adjustments to his fire control computer while simultaneously setting the battle cruiser point defense particle cannons to automatic tracking and firing. "Firing solution on Master One locked, sir," he said with a nod.

"Load tubes One and Two with Mark 99's," Hampton ordered. The weapons officer selected the Mark 99 pulse-flash torpedo from his loadout screen. Once the order was relayed to the torpedo room, the torpedo technicians verified the order, and then programmed the automated loaders to select two Mark 99 torpedos from the weapons storage. In less than five seconds the loading had been completed.

The weapons officer informed the captain tubes One and Two were loaded and ready.

"Match generated bearings and shoot, tubes One and Two," Hampton said.

"Tubes One and Two fired magnetically," the weapons officer responded. "Units from tubes One and Two running hot, straight, and normal," he added.

Captain Hampton checked his tactical screen, visually confirming what the weapons officer had told him. He then looked at the plot for the inbound torpedo. They had less than fifteen seconds.

Hampton stood from his chair. "Launch counter-measures! Helm, all ahead flank, steer twenty degrees starboard, maintain zero degrees pitch!"

The orders were carried out. Ranyr touched a button on his console, and two, four-meter wide disc shaped objects were expelled from the battle cruiser's underside. At the same time, the helmsman increased the Arizona's speed to near the lightspeed threshold, turning the large cruiser to port.

The two Mark 99 torpedoes cleared their launch tubes. They drifted for a moment, until their sensor arrays locked onto the distant Pulgar frigate. They then pulsed their plasma drives, shooting towards their target.

The two counter-measure units Ranyr had launched were sending out duplicate signals that precisely matched Arizona's sensor signature. They were non-powered, and were drifting carelessly in space's vacuum as the battle cruiser that launched them pulled rapidly away.

"Inbound torpedo is changing course," the sensor chief stated. "It appears to now be homing on the counter-measures," he explained.

The pirates aboard the missile frigate were frantically trying to turn their craft and get away from the inbound Mark 99's. In order to sneak up on Arizona, they had shut down their main drive and used chemical thrusters to bring themselves into firing range. This would be their downfall. It took time to start up the frigate's drive system. Time that they did not have.

Hampton watched one of the secondary main viewscreens as the inbound torpedo impacted with one of the counter-measure disks. There was a brief flash of biright, white light, and then nothing. A cheer went up around the CIC.

At one point, someone, it could have the pirate helmsman, the navigator, or all of them, looked out a viewport and saw the two black shapes of the torpedoes as they crested Galazor's night terminator. It was the last sight they would see. Both torpedoes detonated simultaneously. The resulting thermonuclear explosion completely vaporized the small missile frigate.

Aboard Arizona, another cheer went up, this time echoing through the entire ship.

"Stand down from battle stations?" Ranyr asked Hampton.

"Negative," the captain replied. "That was a pirate frigate we just blew all to hell," he explained, "so I would say Fleet's intel about Galazor is on the money." He turned to the helmsman's station. "Make for Galazor orbit," he ordered. Then, to Ranyr and the weapons officer he said, "make the ship ready for planetary bombardment."

"Aye, aye, sir!" came their replies.
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PostSubject: Re: The Hidden   Wed Nov 21, 2007 8:55 am

On the surface of Galazor, in the largest city of Galak'han, Major Jack Harper sat quietly at a small, circular table nestled away in the dark corner of some bar.

He was as incognito as Jack Harper could get. A decorated military officer, not many people in the military circles didn't know his face. However, since his appointment to the Alliance Defense Command Special Intelligence Division, he had maintained a profile as much 'off the radar' as he could. Harper's closely buzzed gray hair and intense blue eyes left their impression on one as much as his chiseled face and considerably lean body.

Jack Harper was a warrior, pure and simple. He had been the leader of an elite Special Mission Force team throughout most of his career. Now, though, he found new skills being put to test as a field operative with the SID. One of these skills, one that he had not honed much in the past, was patience. Like the patience he was running out of as he waited in the smokey and loud bar for a contact that he was supposed to meet.

A beep sounded discreetly in his pocket. He pulled back his dusky, brown leather coat, being careful to not reveal the butt of the pistol he had concealed in his belt. He pulled the comm unit out of a pants pocket and looked at it from well above the plane of the table top.

It was a text message from General Hartley, back on Earth Orbiting Station. The text, in short, said that Arizona had just engaged a pirate frigate above Galazor, and the battle cruiser was now preparing for planetary bombardment. They were all awaiting Harper's transmission.

Jack scanned the room again. No one new had came in. And then he had a curious feeling. It was a feeling like he was sitting somewhere he shouldn't be. He couldn't quite pinpoint what it was that told him to get up and move. It was like an itch that he just couldn't exactly tell where to scratch. But, as soon as he stood up, he realized what it was.

As he stood, a Nurian female that had been sitting on the other side of the room stood also. She had been sitting there and watching him the whole time. She raised the muzzle of a slugthrower in his direction, muttering something in her curious language of squeaks and whistles.

Harper was quicker. His 10mm pistol was in his right hand first, then a two-handed combat grip as he had done countless times before. He lined the small, holographic sight up center-mass on the insectoid's segmented torso and pressed the trigger to the rear. The pistol pulsed, spitting three 10mm rounds out of the barrel before the weapon had even recoiled. The Nurian fell against the wall, knocking over a chair, and finally coming to rest on top of a table.

Harper was headed out the door when a shot rang out and impacted into the sandstone wall beside him. He did not return fire, he just ran like hell. As he exited the bar into Galak'han's night desert terrain, he pulled the comm unit from his pocket, thumbed it on, and spoke into it.

"Emergency action message to EOS, SID command, General Hartley," he said. "My contact tried to kill me. Contact has been neutralized. Request hold on planetary bombardment. Location of pirate base unknown. Believe there is more here than first thought. Please acknowledge." And then he pressed the 'send' button.

Harper ran, ducking behind a few hovercars that slowly moved through the crowded dirt street. He ran into a small shop that sold dust clothes to protect people in the deep desert. He ran out the other side wearing one of the long, flowing robes, then doubled back around the shop, stopping between two food stands who were obviously in competition with one another. He watched the street ahead of him.

It wasn't long at all before he saw him. This one was human, and wore a robe similar to the one Jack had on. Harper waited, seeing the man come closer, and closer still. Jack slowly moved around the side of farthest food stand. The man was turning now, his back to Jack, obviously looking into the shop Jack had gotten his robe. Big mistake, Jack thought, never, ever put your back to the street.

Harper was on the man before anyone could really see him move. Jack had stepped into the robed figure and brought all the power he had into a sweeping ridgehand strike to the side of the man's neck. The man collapsed as his brachial nerve was overloaded by disarrayed impulses. Harper held the man under his shoulders, nodded politely to the two food vendors, and then dragged the man away.

In an alley, where it was just Jack and the robed man, Harper held the man's right hand in a painful wristlock while he leveled the muzzle of his pistol at the man's head. He waited a second or two before tapping the man lightly against his temple with the pistol barrel. The man finally came back from dreamland. He realized the predicament he was in, and his eyes got wide.

"Yeah," Harper said, "you're fucked. Wanna tell me why you were shooting at me?"

"Wasn't me," came a very bright sounding reply, "I was looking for me mate outside there."

Harper used the man's own index finger to point to a slugthrower that lay behind Jack's feet. This was the same slugthrower Jack had taken off the man before he came back to consciousness. "Wanna try that again?"

"Okay, okay," he said, "they said Kerak would take care of you, that all I had to do was confirm it. But then you pulled a trigger on her, and I had to do something. Lots of money on you, man. Lots of money."

"What the fuck are you talking about? Lots of money? You're no paid assassin," Harper stated pointedly.

The man shrugged as best as he could with Harper's wristlock and pistol holding him down. "Nope, but they say you are. Here looking for Egmont, and you were hired by Zorba Corp. Somebody would pay for your ass, whether it was Egmont to know he didn't have to worry about you, or even Zorba because they need to know to spend their money a little smarter," the man finished with a smile.

Harper smiled. The cover story SID had designed for him worked very, very well. And he just learned that the planted information had made its way past his contact, who was the man he was holding at gunpoint right now, all the way to Egmont, the suspected leader of the pirate band. This was getting better all the time.

"So," Jack said, still smiling, "you wanna make some real credits?"

"Fuck yeah," the man answered. Harper let his wrist go, and re-holstered his pistol.

"Alright then," Jack told him, "all you have to do is remember two things. One, you get me close enough to Egmont that I can make details of his base of operations. Two, you try to double-cross me, I will personally cut off your dick and jettison it out an airlock while you watch." Harper looked the man in his eyes. He could see fear. "We understand each other?"

There was a nod. "Yeah, we do," he answered.

"Good. Let's get moving."
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