G.A.S. Exploreison: Harbinger
The Exploreison was having one of its routine missions. As routine as it ever could get, but unlike before, this time they were exploring a planet where no one has landed before and no one really knew much about. It was a new kind of mission for the crew, but they were not afraid of it, as this has been the reason for their mission.
They were on orbit of the Ferion II. A planet located in the Ferion system and known from its unusual electric storms that have prevented anyone from landing. The other planets in the Ferion system were uninhabited and had no valuable resources. Ferion I was very close to the sun and was extremely volcanic and contained a lot of toxic gasses that made terraforming it very difficult. Ferion III then again was more of a planetoid, reaching far from the sun and had a very odd rotation course, making it a very cold planet with no atmosphere or resources that could be valuable.
Ferion II on the other hand was quite suitable planet for habitat. It was an M-class planet, with oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide atmosphere. It would have already been colonized had there not been the constant electric storm that no one has yet understood. It is believed that something on the planet is creating it, as to why, no one knows, yet.
The Exploreison is the new kind of exploration vessel and the first vessel to be built under the name of Gigerdi Alliance. The Gigerdians had suffered many wars in the past, the secession war, Bacterian wars, and the Timocracy war, but now even as things look bright, the darkest times of the Gigerdi Alliance were coming. Now the future of the alliance depends on Exploreison’s exploration mission. As one of the greatest wars in the history of Gigerdians was at hand…
Chapter 1: The Mystery
Gigerdius was sitting in his ready room, looking out of the holowindow like he always does, but this time he had the view of the Ferion II on the holowindow. The planet didn’t look like an M-class, but rather like a gas planet, with continues storms; not so habitable. Sprak was sitting at his console in the bridge. Performing scans on the planet, analyzing them and sending all useful information to the science staff in the science decks. None of the information they had got was new so the excitement of having one of the first ‘real’ exploration missions was very low.
Grillka was examining some of the information that the science staff had supplied her. It didn’t have anything new and really didn’t contain any information of the planet, expect that it truly is an M-class planet, contains atmosphere and has heavy electric storms and some more ‘normal’ storms as well. Nothing very encouraging information, still they didn’t give up just yet, as if they had, the alliance would have just given them same kind of mission like they have previously got; to ‘explore’ something that had already been found. Some still hadn’t given up hope from a better future, a future where they really could explore new worlds. The alliance itself either wasn’t in such a good shape. The current president, Rubek, wasn’t the best leader they could have. As he had seized the power from the former emperors, Kyle Gigerdi Jr. and Mad Gigerdi Jr. After that, he also formed the “Section 18”, an intelligence organization vowed to protect the alliance and ‘true’ Gigerdians. Still, this didn’t stand in their mission’s way.
Gigerdius then started to make another log: “Captain’s log, stardate 4422.3; we’ve been ‘exploring’ the Ferion II for quite some time now and have found simply nothing new that might interest the strategic command. Somehow, I’m more convinced that they sent us here because they didn’t have anything else for us to do, since they apparently don’t want to send us to the Andromeda galaxy or to any of the dwarf galaxies,” while he talked he was also watching the reports that the science staff had sent. “However, I have figured out a plan that might get us some more information about this planet, or just get us killed or heavily damaged, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take, hopefully the rest are as well,” he continued, rose from his chair and ended the log: “Hopefully we’ll come back in one piece after this. End log,” then he walked almost at the door where he still took one last glimpse of the planet and then headed to the bridge.
R’Derex had really nothing to do, expect to read the reports that were coming from the science staff and from Sprak, which really weren’t the first thing he would have wanted to read. To him, missions like these and the ones they’ve had before weren’t really the ones that were made for him. He wanted to explore new planets where he would have something to do. Still, doing nothing did have its good points, unfortunately he had to stay in his office in case he’s needed during the mission, which he doubted, but he still wanted to follow the regulations, as much as possible.
The bridge itself was rather empty, as the ship was very short-handed. Min’da, Brian, Ghi’la and other people were away either on a shore leave or receiving more training.
Drill was in the engineering. Unlike R’Derex, he had things to do. He was attempting to calibrate the shields and the armor to withstand the electric storm in case the Exploreison would try to enter the planet’s atmosphere. However, as of yet, he has had no luck in calibrating them to withstand the storm. Still, he didn’t gave up trying. Gigerdius came to the bridge and sat down to the captain’s chair. Grillka noticed Gigerdius’s arrival and said: “Captain, I’ve been reviewing the reports sent by the science teams and they don’t give any encouraging information.” “Yeah, I noticed that myself as well and thus I have developed a plan that might get us more information… or just get us killed,” Gigerdius replied and started using the computer on his chair. Grillka wondered a while what kind of plan Gigerdius had figured out and then realized what he probably meant. She didn’t want to believe that so she asked to clarify the matter: “Captain, you don’t actually mean going to the atmosphere?” “As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what I mean. Not just going to the atmosphere, but landing if possible,” he replied with high confidence although truly he was even less sure about his own plan than Grillka was. Grillka couldn’t believe Gigerdius’s idea so she still tried to make sure it wasn’t a joke: “Captain, you can’t be serious with this idea. No ship has even been able to make through the atmosphere, not to mention to land, sir. With all due respect sir, this is a foolish idea that will only get us killed.”
Sprak had noticed the conversation between Gigerdius and Grillka, and intervened: “Commander, I must agree with the captain on this matter. We cannot find any new information without attempting something that no one else has tried before, which in this case would be an attempted landing to the Ferion 2.” “It’s our job to explore the unknown, this is the only way we can do it,” said Gigerdius trying to convince Grillka. Grillka was thinking, she clearly didn’t support the plan at all, but as everyone else there seemed to be positive for the plan she made her decision: “Fine, let’s do it then, sir.” “Good,” Gigerdius replied and then pressed a button on his chair and said: “Drill, we’re going to attempt to enter the planet’s atmosphere, any chance you could configure our shields and armor to be more effective against the electric storm?” “I’ve tried it, sir, but I can’t find any way that would be effective against that electric storm. I’m afraid simply have to try and prove that I was wrong about my calculations about that storm,” Drill replied with little confidence, this didn’t make Gigerdius feel any better, but as he already pretty much knew what Drill was going to say it didn’t impact him so much: “Acknowledged, we’ll just have to hope for the best then.” “Unfortunately so, sir, but I’ll still do my best to keep her together!” Drill said trying to cheer Gigerdius up, which did partially succeed: “I know you will, Gigerdius out.”
Sprak was doing his last scans of the planet in case they will reveal any worthy information that will help them in their plan. Gigerdius was also doing the last preparations needed. Once he was finished he asked from Sprak: “Sprak, your scans revealing anything more that might help us?” “The storm seems to posses high amounts of electricity, it would need a powerful energy source to posses such capabilities. It is logical to theorize that there is a very powerful energy source powering it on that planet, or in the nearby planets,” he replied, Gigerdius was amazed by the “other planets” thing and thus asked for more information: “Other planets? You mean there’s a possibility that the energy is being sent from another planet in here?” “Not only in this system, captain. A highly advanced society could have found a way to transfer energy from other star systems or galaxies, or maybe even from another dimension. However, sensors are not picking up any traces of energy being sent to the planet, so it is logical to theorize that the power source is located on the planet itself, although we cannot be of certain about it,” Sprak replied. Gigerdius was thinking of even abandoning his plan, but still decided to go for it: “Well, let’s see if we can find out, which one is right. Mr. Fhogli, set course to the planet’s atmosphere. Let’s see if we can get through.” “Yes, sir,” Fhogli replied, plotted the course and engaged the impulse engines.
Chapter 2: Duty Calls
Bacterius, near the city of Trabia:
Camp Liberation, 1500 hours
The sky had turned completely blue overnight. The whole planet now lived the life of the defeated and occupied; the camp set up by the GA overlooked the bombed ruins of the Bacterian city of Trabia.
Huge craters created by atmospheric bombing and hundreds of bombing missions by the automated bombers had turned the soil near the city into a rough field of not imploded minelets; you could occasionally hear a large explosion from that field, usually meaning that some unfortunate being had stepped into the field, neutralizing himself effectively. The fleet officers in command of the bombing campaign, known as the “Planetary bombardment coordination officers” had somehow miscalculated the spot that was to be bombed and had send bombers to drop these small minelet cluster-bombs into a road used by the civilian population, there was some sort of a “Boom count” on the guy who heard the most explosions…
There were two large warehouses constructed on “Camp liberation”, both of these housed the clone infantry’s holding areas in which the neurologically controlled killing machines were housed for the next campaign. Most of times, the ground forces officers commanded these battalions of clone infantry through a neurological “implant” enabling the commander to see the battle images and troop movements in real time. Battle-mechs, small and large machines also commanded by an AI interface were patrolling the perimeter.
Then there were smaller buildings for the Ground forces officers such as Mr. Wes Craal. Colonel Craal was in his quarters, a small and tidy space on the left wing of the building, he was staring outside.
His brother had been killed a bit earlier during the campaign, when Craal was still back home receiving orders. A Bacterian division had attacked from two sides at once; effectively destroying the light recon company that Craal’s brother had been leading during the operation. The only setback in the battle had been that Laverne Craal, Wes’s brother, had been in a shuttle overhead the recon company, after a quick attempt to escape from the Bacterian troops firing Surface to air missiles against the shuttle had failed.
Craal despised the Bacterians, because of everything they had done to him as an individual and as a military officer. Right now, he found himself to be the second in command of a GA garrison near the city Trabia. He had seen fighting during the war, and the previous conflicts against the Bacterians as well. Most of times he had been in combat were the special operations he had handled over the few months in this campaign, although the famous “Infantry maneuver battle” that he led into completion had not been forgotten.
At this time, Craal had been told to report to the office of General Worser, just a few hundred meters away from the barracks. Craal looked away from the window, and took his gray tunic from the small table that he had in the quarters, there was a bed in the quarters as well, although Gigerdians very seldom needed sleep or food. Evolution over time had changed the need for nutrition and rest. Craal was “bunked up” with his Spec .ops squad on the barracks, as he walked to the small corridor that housed all the other squad members.
A few humans were standing around the corridor; they were dressed in the GA ground force’s gray as well. They were some liaison officers that had worked with him during the last mission, something to do with the close co-operations with the humans. Craal nodded to the men, which returned the gesture in turn.
Craal stepped outside, seeing a cargo shuttle flying overhead the camp, a small cargo-unloading area had been set-up in the camp as well. More and more equipment was being loaded into Bacterius these days; it became obvious that the GA along with its allies were going to start the administration of the Bacterian territories from here.
“Colonel sir, General Worser has requested your presence in the Company HQ within 5 minutes,” a lanky Gigerdian Second lieutenant emerged from Craal’s left side with his gray tunic unbuttoned, “Very well, tell him that I’ll be there right away,” Craal responded hastily, the second lieutenant left quietly.
Craal passed a large group of other Spec. Ops. Soldiers standing in a line, they seemed to have a training exercise with their training-sergeant, the sergeant dressed in the gray tunic was the only one not dressed to “kill”, which meant that no personal armor or shield pouches were carried in the combat vests.
Ye haven't an arm, ye haven't a leg, hurrah, hurrah!
Ye haven't an arm, ye haven't a leg, hurrah, hurrah!
Ye haven't an arm, ye haven't a leg,
Ye're an armless, boneless, chickenless egg
Ye'll have to put with a bowl out to beg
Oh Paavo Bakteeri I hardly knew ya!
Craal glanced behind himself, and a group of seven Gigerdians running alongside a Drill-sergeant singing that obscure song. Craal had heard that once before, it seemed that the drill-sergeant was very keen on letting this song pass on to the recruits. They were mostly human.
The humans, this physical exercise could have easily been completed in the VR-simulators that were used with the normal Gigerdian recruits, somehow the humans couldn’t cope with the psychological pressure that the simulators gave out so a real-time exercise seemed the most logical choice. There they were, a group of people running around the camp shouting insane march songs, Craal remembered something about an ancient human military doing similar things…
They're rolling out the guns again, hurrah!, hurrah!
They're rolling out the guns again, hurrah!, hurrah!
They're rolling out the guns again,
But they never will take our liberty again
No they never will take our liberty again
Paavo Bakteeri I'm swearing to ya!
The bunch of men along with the Gigerdian drill-sergeant ran to the other end of the camp, the Drill-sergeant yelling: “You’ve got to sweat for the liberty, men!” Craal shook his head wondering about the different ways to train the humans to fight.
Chapter 3: The Incident
The Exploreison was heading towards the planet and was about to enter the atmosphere. The limited bridge crew that was in the bridge at that time was looking at the main screen, which showed the planet in detail. They could easily spot the storm areas on the planet. As they got closer and closer, they could see how the storm intensified as it would be preparing for their arrival.
Everyone had an uneasy feeling, except Sprak who always was an exception when it came to emotions.
Soon they entered the atmosphere and the shields were already getting heavy beating from the storm. “Captain, shields are rapidly decreasing. Currently they are at 60% and falling,” Sprak said while monitoring the ship systems as well as trying to perform scans to the planet. It didn’t took long until the shields were almost down: “Captain, shields down to 10%…” Sprak said and after five seconds he continued: “Shields are down captain, armor cannot take much more, hull breaches forming on outer decks.” “Just a little further…” Gigerdius, but Grillka wasn’t so confident anymore: “Captain, we must turn back, we can’t take much more of this!” Just as she had finished the ship started to shake heavily and Sprak reported: “Several hull breaches, 70 seconds to structural collapse.” “Get us out of here!” Gigerdius yelled and Fhogli plotted the course out.
Once they were out Gigerdius stood up from his chair and walked at Sprak’s console: “Sprak, you got anything of value?” Sprak turned to face Gigerdius and replied: “Once we entered the storm, we advanced only 20 kilometers. The storm somehow directed a very strong resisting force on us that prevented us from entering any further into the atmosphere. I was, however, able to make some scans that might prove to be of value.” “Anything worthy is good,” Gigerdius replied and not long after that Drill said through the communicator: “Captain, I have bad news. It appears that the storm disabled our jump drives, communications, sensors and replicators.” “What, how’s that possible?” Gigerdius asked and was confused about the information, as was Grillka. “I wish I knew captain, my guess is that we got small blasts of EMP charges at us along with that electricity. Still, to disable them completely just makes me wonder… anyway, I can’t repair them with this amount of crew and supplies. We have to find help from somewhere else,” said Drill. Gigerdius was silent for a while and then answered: “We’ll se if we can find some place suitable, Gigerdius out.” Sprak had already started checking the databases for any nearby vessels, stations or other installations nearby and had found one that was relatively close: “Captain, I believe I may have found a stations that will suit our needs,” said Sprak and then Gigerdius and Grillka walked at his console and looked at the screen. Neither of them were really happy about it, but Gigerdius was especially uneasy about it: “The Peace Station? You can’t be serious? There has to be some station more close-by.” “Unfortunately captain, there is not. All other stations are much more far away,” Sprak said and then Grillka said: “Well, it seems that we’ll be heading to the Peace Station again, but how are we going to get there? In sub-light speed it will take us thousands of years to get there.” “I think that’s something that Mr. Drill has to figure out,” said Gigerdius and then headed out of the bridge. Once he had left Grillka said: “I told you this was a bad idea.” Sprak rose his eyebrows and Grillka walked back to her chair.
Drill was in the engineering, trying to get the systems online, but with only a handful of engineering personnel available he couldn’t do much of anything. Then Gigerdius came in and walked near Drill who didn’t notice him until he was just a meter away from him: “Oh captain, I’ve been reviewing the information and there’s simply no way I can complete these repairs with our current supply or crew amount. Supplies are the ones we need the most,” he said and then Gigerdius stopped looked around a bit and replied: “That’s why we have set course to the Peace Station, but in order to get there in this millennia we’d need a way to make a short range jump.” “Short range jump? I can’t get out jump drives to work at all… but there may be another source for jump drives, I still can’t get hers jump drives fixed, but it might allow us to make a small jump,” Drill said and then Gigerdius answered: “Well, I’m all ears.” “We could take the jump drives from the fighters we have here and place them all over the ship, then connecting them as one. It might work, but as it hasn’t been tried on a ship of this magnitude, I can’t say for sure.” “Well, I guess it’s worth a try as we don’t have any other options available right now… alright start making the necessary preparations and inform me when you’re finished installing the jump drives,” Gigerdius said and then Drill replied: “Yes, sir.” Then Gigerdius left from the engineering and Drill said to the crew: “Okay, only one person remains at the engineering everyone else comes with me to the fighter bays.”
The Exploreison had only a very little of crew available. Most of the ship was completely empty or had been shut down. The normal crew amount was still listed as 100 000 in the military records, although rarely they had even a crew of 10 000. Strategic command hadn’t had much confidence in them, as they had only found some obscure clues about an alien race that is coming to kill them. Most of the Joint Chiefs of Staff considered the mission to be ‘failed’ already even that the Exploreison had journeyed only about six months. Still, the crew itself hadn’t given up on their mission, although having only some obscure science and exploration missions to places that have already been found didn’t cheer-up people. And now the plan, that Gigerdius tried to use as a mean to get information no one else has and to make them believe it, has failed. However, that wasn’t their problem at that time yet, as the most of the critical systems had been taken offline, they had to find a way to some place where they can be repaired. Still, Gigerdius never expected the place to be the station he didn’t want to visit anymore.
Sprak was trying to find something new from the scans, but as of yet had revealed nothing major, except some new information regarding the electric storm. R’Derex came to the bridge as he has had very little of information regarding the recent events. He walked at Sprak’s console and asked: “So, what’s happening around here? I just a while ago noticed that suddenly the whole ship was shaking.” “The captain devised a plan to enter the atmosphere of the planet in order to collect more information, however, the plan did not succeed,” answered Sprak and then continued to analyze his scans, while R’Derex responded: “Well, good to know that in what kind of situation we are now. What’s the plan now?” “Our jump drives, communications, sensors and replicators are offline. That is why we have set course to the Peace Station to complete the repairs,” Sprak answered. “Peace Station? But doesn’t it take a long time to get to there?” R’Derex asked and then Grillka answered: “Maybe not. The Exploreison’s own jump drives may be inoperative, but the fighter’s are still online and Drill has already started to remove the drives from the fighters and installing them on the Exploreison, although it’ll take quite a long time before he can complete the installation.” “Well, I suppose there isn’t anything I can do about it; so I’ll head back to my ‘office’, and try to inform me if something new comes up.” “Yes, sir,” Sprak replied and then R’Derex left from the bridge.
Drill and his engineering crews had already started to remove the jump drives from the Omega-Delta fighters. The Exploreison contained lots of fighters even that the crew amount was small, but as almost all of the fighters were AI controlled that didn’t really matter. After this however, the fighters would remain quite inoperative as the engineering crews had to remove most of the reactors as well, to get enough power for all the drives.
Chapter 4: A New Mission
Craal entered the HQ building, hologram-tactical maps and officers hurling around the buildings offices. At this time, the GA had not been able to bring all personnel and equipment into the building so many offices were empty, but many officers waiting to get assigned for a job. There was talk that the GA wasn’t willing to commit too many resources into Bacterius, but instead Kapu’s forces were going to assume command of the administration.
“We need 4 squads on the eastern side in case the prison camp can’t be patrolled by 0830 tomorrow…” General Worser ordered a pair of other Colonels around; it was amazing to see one of the generals out on the field, not “flying a desk” as the saying went.
“I can’t be clear enough about the security of this base camp, gentlemen…” Craal walked closer to the point where the General was standing around and explaining the current orders for the pair of Colonels on the field, Craal stood behind the General watching.
“Mr. Craal, you have arrived, haven’t you?” General Worser replied, not bothering to look straight on Craal. “Sir, yes, sir,” Craal replied.
“Good, since I’ve got some special orders for you,” Craal was almost motionless while standing there.
“I see, sir,” Craal stated quietly, “Yes, the two of you can leave now,” Worser commented to the other Colonels who left instantly, they seemed like a pair of people willing to become Generals in the ground forces just by taking orders from Worser.
“Colonel, the way you’ve handled the Bacterians so far has been breathtaking, I hear,” Worser commented while walking around the Strategy table. “Tell me, how many have you killed so far?” Worser asked sincerely, Craal shifted his gaze to look at the table and replied: “My squad and I have eliminated about 200 Bacterians during the campaign, sir.” Worser smiled. “That’s good sum overall, it will pay back nicely on your brother,” Worser concluded.
“Anyway, the Strategic command is putting a special task force together in order to catch some of the Bacterian leaders still unaccounted for,” Worser took a small stance forward, Craal had been waiting for something like this. “They didn’t tell me enough for this mission, just to get you,” The General concluded, “I’ve decided that since you and your squad have performed well on the recent campaigns, you’ll go,” “Sir, where is the next assignment then?” Craal hoped it to be one of Bacterian colonies, lots of possibilities there.
“That I don’t know, I’m fairly sure that it’s off-world, though,” Worser concluded, “When am I going to be deployed?” Craal asked yet, the General looked enigmatic. “There’s going to be someone from the fleet here, they’ve got more specific orders for you, just wait,” the General replied, “That’s all, dismissed,” Craal nodded and stood back, then turned to walk away.
There were a group of Bacterian “warriors” that had fled the homeworld just before the orbital bombings had begun; apparently they were hiding from the GA authorities in fear of being put under Kapu’s “Transitional authority”.
Craal walked away from the General’s office, and walked back to the yard which was still flowing with various GA ground forces officers, he was going to pay a visit to his squad soon enough. Craal looked around for a while, and saw a Gigerdian female standing around the barracks buildings; she was wearing the Gigerdian issue- “Three lens”-sunglasses. She probably had his orders.
“Can I help you, Commander?” Craal walked closer to the woman, who was carrying a black briefcase, she begun to smile when seeing Craal. “Colonel Craal, we’ve got your orders right here,” the woman handed a small holo-tape to the surprised colonel.
“We are sorry not being able to relay these messages through the GA military network, there is a slight risk that someone from this division might intercept the transmission,” the woman explained, Craal nodded agreeing.
The woman seemed to be in a hurry, she saw a GA shuttle landing near the small shuttle-pad and quickly looking at Craal, then saying: “Colonel, President Rubek is very happy of your progress,” the woman hurried to the shuttle, Craal looked behind her for awhile, then he walked back to the barracks.
“I’ve always wanted to be military officer, you know?” Mr. Defier replied to the Gigerdian reporter, it seemed that someone had almost forced him to make these pointless interviews to the GANN. “When I was a kid, I wanted to become either a veterinarian or a ground forces officer,” Defier explained sincerely, the reporter looked a bit amused.
“What made you join the GA military ground forces then, Major Defier?” the reporter asked with the GANN mike in his hand, “Well you know, lots of evil folks in the universe these days, they can’t all be let to do their bidding without consequences!” Defier stated as the reporter understood right about now that he was interviewing one of the weirdest men in the battalion.
“Is that the reason that brought you here?” the reporter wondered out aloud, “Nah, I came here to bag some o’ those Bacterian Sob’s in the craters!” A slight silence fell into the air, the reporter looking at Defier yet more amazed.
“And then there was this one time when the battalion commander took my babies away and sent me here…” Defier understood the possibilities of the silence, the reporter kind of did too, and perhaps talking something sense into the live-show ‘Troops home and abroad’ would make people get interest.
“So you have family back home?” the reporter decided to try talking sense to the Soldier once more, Defier eyed the man for a while. “Well…. Ah, I was talking about my guns ya know?” the reported sighed.
“There’s my semi-automatic called “dust buster” and the new FR5 plasma known as “High hopes”, the battalion commander didn’t allow me to carry them around the transports, he said that they might cause hull breaches if a malfunction occurred…” Defier explained like a professional gun-expert as Craal walked into the barracks where a GANN news crew had parked.
A pair of human officers were playing an ancient human game called “pool” in the back, some of the Gigerdian officers were playing it as well, they were quite amazed since they had never seen anything like it before. There it was, Craal’s unit.
Most of the guys in the unit had come in as reinforcements after the last mission; most of the former team were transferred closer to the galactic core territories. There were just a few men that Craal had commanded before; Defier and another Gigerdian named Rangster were about the only ones.
Defier was a weird case; he had joined the GA ground forces right after he graduated from the Gigerdian “secondary education academy”, he was interested of weaponry and general equipment so signing up just wasn’t a problem for him. It was rumored that Defier’s mother was a human, although this could have been just a very sad way of passing time. Defier had an extraordinary skill in naming his weapons, anytime he got a new piece of weaponry to test or try it had a name five minutes later.
Craal’s unit handled special operations, mainly. And since Craal believed in the new president there really was no problem in getting missions and assignments, and in Craal’s opinion it was good to have a chance to strike against the Bacterians whenever possible. Craal walked to his quarters now, and inserted the holo-tape to the reader on the desk. He sat down and watched.
FROM: GASTRGCOM (SENDER CLASSIFIED)
TO: COL. W CRAAL
Colonel Craal, you and the 147th Spec. Ops. Company are to form a new vanguard against the threat of unaccounted Bacterian military officials still out there. The Section 18 in conjunction with military intelligence has been able to track down a group consisting of about 20 Bacterian officers fleeing towards neutral space, we are certain that the target is the Peace Station.
The Peace station has been largely abandoned after our government among others have cut the funding; the successful end of its mission is a key factor in the shut down process. You have been authorized to take command of the station during your mission, all traces of possible Bacterian casualties or collateral damage must be disposed upon encounter.
President Rubek is willing to promote you after this mission; the Joint Chiefs of Staff might have a position opening quite soon, so the rank of General might be waiting for you when you come back.
Regards, and sorry to hear about your brother
Craal was surprised yet again during the same day; The Peace station would be his next mission. He had heard about the place, very much in fact but had never been there before. Craal knew that Rubek was pleased of him, and the rank of full general would surely bring him more than enough prestige.
“Peace station it is, then,” Craal said to himself. He walked back to the quarters where Defier was sitting, drinking Space-Banana juice with the other squad members. “Colonel, we going somewhere?” Defier asked hesitantly, he saw from Craal’s expression that there was an assignment due.
“That’s correct, and you are going to have one interesting task ahead of you Mr. Defier,” Craal replied, “We’re going to the Peace station, troops!” Craal shouted to the room, somehow, the collective spirit shouted in cheers and positive yells throughout the barracks.
“Sir, what’s my assignment in there?” Defier asked, “Ever played policeman, Mr. Defier?” Craal replied smirking.
Approaching “neutral space”
The Hauler mk2 transport Patna was still in the bowels of hyperspace when Craal and his team were in the small shuttle bay of the ship, after the quick send off from Bacterius the closest GA military transport had been ordered to ferry the squad around.
The shuttle bay was full of military officers now, dressed in BDU-camouflage and combat vests. There were a few shuttles packed with ordinary security and various other engineering people dressed in regular GA fleet black. Craal was observing the load-up; Defier was suiting up with his equipment.
“First we take care of the Bacterians, then it’s a cake-walk from down there on out…” another one of the suited up soldiers was telling Defier, apparently he was convinced of the successful completion of the mission.
“Mr. Rangster, I want you to beam aboard the station among the first team,” Craal walked to the other end to oversee another one of his older officers stacking personal-shield amplifiers back to the box where he had taken them.
“Sir, I doubt that we’ll be needing these for the mission since it’s just a regular op,” Rangster reported upon seeing Craal, “ There’s no need to pack them in, I doubt that any more trouble will come our way,” Craal agreed.
“Sir, we’re approaching the Peace station in five minutes,” a GA fleet officer reported suddenly behind Craal’s back, “Very well, I’ll go in with the first team.” Some of the soldiers moved away from the shuttle area, Defier packed his vest up and walked to the stack of boxes in which Mr. Rangster was situated as well. He looked around and asked when seeing Craal leave: “Did you bring it?”
Rangster looked away from the small pad he was writing something into, and took time to reply: “Yeah, its in the gray box on the left,” Defier lifted the lid of an uncanny looking gray box, six barrels of black and dark-gray steel stared back at him. Rangster chuckled: “The redeemer, huh?”
“First boarding party, please report to transporter room 2 at once!” the intercom shouted. “Hope they’ve got batteries,” Defier replied to himself.
Chapter 5: A Daring Attempt
Drill and the rest of the engineers had removed some 40 jump drives from the fighters and were setting them up around the Exploreison. They were to be set all over the ship in order to get the inter-dimensional field large enough for the whole ship to enter it. And the work was almost done already. Some of the last drives were being attached on the hull.
Drill was doing some of the last check-ups outside the hull. He was, of course, wearing a space suit. They had been doing the work for about three hours straight already, which is why some of the command staff was getting restless already. And because of that his communicator made the usual beeping sound: “Drill, how’s it going there?” Gigerdius asked and seemed to sound as if he wasn’t even waiting for them to complete the work. “Everything should be ready in about fifteen minutes, but we need to some quick tests after that, but they shouldn’t last any longer than ten minutes,” Drill replied and seemed to give the answer Gigerdius was hoping for: “Well… good. No use for us to sit idle here when we can get going already.” “Yes, sir. Everything should be working soon, Drill out,” replied Drill and did some last checking on the drive.
“You do realize that this isn’t the only way to get out of this system?” inquired Grillka. “Yeah, I know, but… the sooner we get this matter solved the better. Besides, we’re on very tight schedule here,” Gigerdius replied. He clearly wanted to hurry up because the Strategic Command had always been giving them very small timetables in which to do the work they’re suppose to do. This is one reason why they really never get the work done in time. “They will most likely send a ship to investigate when we won’t answer the regular communication check,” Grillka tried to explain, but Gigerdius wasn’t eager on trying out when the cavalry would finally arrive: “I know, but that might take several days even. This way it may not even take a day.” “Or it might take even more than just to wait here,” “Yeah, you’re right… but… well… I guess one reason is also that I’d like to see that station again, but then again, maybe I don’t…” Gigerdius attempted to explain, not really sure what he was talking or what was his genuine opinion about the matter. Grillka obviously noticed this: “I thought you might have something else on your mind. Maybe this trip to Peace Station will even benefit us more.” “We’ll see… thanks for the advice by the way.” “Isn’t that the reason there’s a first officer on every ship?” Grillka replied and had a small smile on her face. “Yeah… good thing we have those… but shouldn’t you get some sleep? You’ve been up for over 17 hours already,” Gigerdius asked. “I guess I could use some sleep, but not yet.” “I hope I don’t have to order you to get some sleep.” Gigerdius replied and was obviously trying to get Grillka to listen to him. “No sir. I’ll go then right away… sir,” she swiftly replied, trying to hold up the correct military protocol. “Good… we shouldn’t be at the Peace Station for many hours even, you should be able to get some sleep at least.” “Yes, sir,” Grillka again swiftly replied and then departed from the bridge. “Sometimes I even like this military protocol…” Gigerdius said to himself.
Drill had completed all the setup and was at the engineering doing some testing on the drives. Everything seemed to be progressing well and the tests also seemed to be going all right. Drill also wondered that this situation would serve as an excellent test to see if the ship can really be moved by the jump drives of the fighters. After the tests had been completed he pressed his communicator and said: “Drill to Gigerdius, captain everything is set and we can go whenever you wish.” “Good work commander, we’ll be on our way then. Gigerdius out,” Gigerdius replied and then gave the order to head to the Peace Station: “Fhogli, set course to the Peace Station, best possible speed.” “Yes, sir… but I have to say I’m not really qualified to be setting courses on a testing environment as this. I wasn’t much trained as a helms officer,” Fhogli replied, being rather unsure of his own talents in situation like this. “I’m aware of that lieutenant, but we don’t have much of any other choice right now. Just do your best, that’s all that’s required,” Gigerdius replied, trying to get some hopes up and encourage Fhogli. It did seem to work, somewhat: “Yes, sir… I’ll try, sir…”
Fhogli started the start-up process, but he was still very nervous. No one knew if something drastic might even happen when they activate the engines and jump. Still, this was the option they had chosen to execute.
Chapter 6: The Invasion
The deck of the station was dead quiet. Colonel Craal stood near a small alcove on the wall with the other members of his team sent to the Peace Station to hunt Bacterian terrorists.
“Sir, the second boarding party will be beamed to the main engineering section of the station,” someone behind Craal reported. Craal shrugged. “Fine, just tell them to watch their steps down there,” he ordered sternly.
Craal was in command of the primary boarding party that had been beamed from the assault transport G.A.S. Patna waiting outside the station. His team featured four other “operational specialists” as the HQ liked to call them. One of them was Mr. Defier, the rather unstable weapons specialist that had taken a prone position along the end of the hallway.
Craal had taken his standard sidearm with him in case he would have the chance to frag some of the pitiful terrorists lurking somewhere inside the stations now inactive decks. “Sir, team 2 has been beamed aboard the station. They have begun a sweep along the engineering decks and then they’ll proceed to search the Bacterian sector,” the some soldier behind him reported again.
Craal nodded to himself and glanced to Defier who was still prone along the corridors wall, he was obviously sure that something or rather someone was about to rip through the walls and kill them all. Too bad for Mr. Defier, that wasn’t going to happen. “Mr. Defier, feel free to loosen up a bit” Craal said with his clear voice, he tried to make it sound funny since he was a bit unsure on how to approach this half-Gigerdian, half-human killing machine.
“Huh, sir?” Defier’s voice growled back. Craal smiled, the other members of the team advanced closer to the corridors wall where Defier was still waiting. “Nothing, it’s just that I doubt the Bacterians are waiting for us in this deck.” Craal saw that Defier was a bit paranoid again, but sometimes it seemed like being paranoid and completely incompetent to handle operations like these didn’t really separate into two things at all on his case. “After all, this deck has something to do with the plumping of the station,” someone replied, and Craal nodded.
“Why do you think we were beamed to a deck that has something to do with plumping?” Defier finally loosed up and stance back to his feet asking this out loud. “Someone in the ship must’ve messed it up, man,” Mr. Gecko, a bald Gigerdian, replied to Defier. It was probably Mr. Gecko who had been talking out loud before as well, Craal wondered to himself.
“I think it’s safe to say that the Bacterians are not hiding in this deck, colonel,” Mr. Gecko reported again. “Yes, we’ll search a couple of decks below us then,” Craal stated while the team walked to the elevator.
“You think landing to the plumping section of this station is bad, huh?” Gecko chuckled as the team members stepped to the elevator. “You should’ve seen the 2nd company on Apraising when a couple of the drop pukes landed in the middle of the Bacterian latrines, man…” Gecko started to “talk the talk” with Defier, who was obviously interested. “I’ll tell you man, they didn’t need any freakin’ IR camouflage after that... all the freakin’ colors of the rainbow were on those uniforms, whew...” The door of the elevator slid shut. After the short ride in the elevators the first team emerged from the elevator and took positions along another hallway somewhere in the maintenance levels of the station. Craal scratched his chin and look around skeptically.
“I wonder where are our guests staying at?” Craal blurted out while Defier was scanning the dark hallway along with another soldiers shoulder lamp’s beams of halogen-light. “This is all screwed up, colonel,” Mr. Gecko shook his head hesitantly. “What do you mean?” Craal replied. “Sir, we don’t even know if the Bacterians know that we’re in this station right now,” Gecko spoke further.
“I think they would’ve used the security systems to somehow block our path of advance if they’d have the control of this station,” Gecko explained calmly. “Agreed, obviously they’ve figured out how to put the correct breathing oxygen into specific decks, but they haven’t accessed the security systems yet.” “They ain’t smart enough for it…” Defier murmured quietly.
Craal nodded to himself again and slightly tapped his communicator located above his left breast pocket. “Team one here, anyone from team two please report in,” he ordered quickly. It took a few seconds when the reply came: “Team two here, go ahead.” “I want you to do a recon in force on the hangars and docking bays. Scan for any vessels, especially ones with Bacterian signature and after that report in.” “Yes, we acknowledge that and are moving to the elevators…” “Good, team one out.” The second team was moving around as well now. Craal and his men were still in the hallway located in one of the maintenance levels. Everything was quiet. Too quiet. “If I were a Bacterian military official on the run, where would I be in this station?” Craal said out loud. “I don’t know, sir. But the lower decks of this place sure might be a great place to hide since there are no maps of it available,” Gecko once again speculated. “Yes, it would take sometime to find them there…” Craal wondered to himself again. “In any case, it’s best that we’ll try the maintenance access tunnels to the lower decks next,” Craal then concluded.
To tell the truth, he wasn’t that sure at all of the direction they were supposed to take. Obviously the Bacterians were on-site, but finding them from a station like this would surely take some time. He had been briefed of the stations schematics before the operation. However, it still seemed that the lower decks would be the place that he would choose as the best place to hide in on a situation like this.
“Back to the elevator then, I guess,” Defier turned around as the group once again retreated to the elevators. As the first team yet again emerged from the elevator, Craal’s communicator made a sharp “beep”-noise that indicated an incoming message. “Yes, come in.” “Sir, I think we found it.” “What did you find then?” “Sir, we managed to get some of the computer systems online in the docking bays control room. So we scanned the docking bays and found a Bacterian shuttle docked in there.” “Excellent, what did you do with it?” Craal asked nervously. “It’s a shuttle from the B.E.S. Auriga.”
The Auriga was a command ship of some Bacterian admiral. It had led several raids against the GA military’s fleets during the last phase of the offensive against the Bacterian colonies. As Bacterius had fallen, the ship had taken more and more high-ranking officers aboard. The ship had been tracked down sometime ago, but the higher staff had largely abandoned it. Now they had finally found them.
“Open the airlock and space the shuttle. After that instruct the Patna to destroy it with its weapon systems,” Craal ordered. “Yes sir,” the reply came instantly. “You haven’t found out the passengers yet, sir?” The secondary team leader’s voice asked sharply. “We have no idea where they are,” Craal replied. “I see, sir.” “Listen, how many would you guess that shuttle can carry?” Craal decided to try his luck; just to find out how many “terrorists” was he dealing with. “According to the traffic database on this computer, that thing could carry 10 beings.” “Alright, leave some sentries behind and meet us on the security central.” “Copy that, we’ll be there shortly.” A full turn had to be made.
The station’s Security central
A medium-sized group of soldiers were loitering around the Gigerdian sector’s security offices. Colonel Craal, along with Lieutenant Nafter, was looking at the holographic map of the station’s decks.
“Both the Bacterian and Hemmoian security offices are sealed. So are the weapons lockers and storages,” Lieutenant Nafter explained while looking at the holograms. “Yeah, but even if they could’ve gained access to the lockers, they would’ve just found the kitchen sink, so to speak,” Nafter chuckled a little. “Excuse me, what?” Craal asked while raising an eyebrow. “Sir, with all due respect, I mean that the weapons storages are mostly emptied of weapons and ammunition due to the cancelling of the Peace Station project. We would not be that careless to leave weapons behind here. ”
Craal nodded. Obviously the lieutenant had been a bit too dashing with his words. “Sir! We’ve got movement!” one of the soldiers monitoring another “map-table” screamed out. All of the soldiers quickly gathered around the table.
“Where?” Craal asked. “The scanners are showing one life-form of Bacterian origin moving along the access hatchways connecting the Bacterian maintenance areas to the Hemmoian maintenance area.” “Good, let’s saddle up then,” Lieutenant Nafter concluded. The soldiers quickly hurried to the elevators.
Maintenance access hatchways
“Listen up, the target is still in the same deck, but has moved about 20 meters to the left,” the voice from Defier’s communicator explained as he rode the elevator along with the rest of the team. “Now hurry, it seems to have stopped again.”
Defier led the first team now. With him was Mr. Gecko along with a couple of men from the second team. The halls were dark, so the team stopped to its steps immediately. “Alright people, do not light up the shoulder lamps here or the target might see light. Use the IR-goggles instead,” Lieutenant Nafter ordered via the communicator.
One of the Vemrer soldiers in the group, wearing a distinctive green beret, carried a backpack full of IR-goggles. The soldiers quickly grabbed one each and put them on. “Alright, put IR-signature tracking on and configure the APSR to zero,” Lieutenant Nafter instructed.
The team started to advance along the hallway, quietly with their weapons pointed forward. The IR-system also featured a motion tracker that now connected to the same security system material that Colonel Craal, along with Lieutenant Nafter, was observing.
“Around that corner and to the right…” Defier whispered. The motion tracker on their goggles’ HUD-displays showed the target-blip suddenly turning around. “Oh crap, I think it noticed you.” “Yep, it’s moving now.” The team could hear it now; the Bacterian was rattling some sorts of crates and was obviously carrying something. “This is colonel Craal. I don’t want you to kill it, but to capture it. It will be of no use to us dead,” Craal quickly cut in on the action. “You heard what the colonel said, I don’t want to start searching this station deck-by-deck,” Lieutenant Nafter supported him.
“Set weapons on stun,” Defier ordered. “Look, you guys get ready to grab it if it runs, okay?” Defier stated. Suddenly a dark figure emerged from the storeroom’s doorway and started to run to the other end of the hallway. One of the soldiers fired upon it, but it jumped out of the way sending sparks flying from the nearby wall. “Come on! It’s getting away!” Defier yelled as the team started to run after the mysterious figure.
The figure (obviously Bacterian) was trying to stuff itself into a hole of some sort in the wall. Mr. Gecko pulled its legs farther away from the hole on the wall as another soldier grabbed its left leg and pulled. The figure grunted and fought back. The team had caught it unarmed.
The team dragged the Bacterian away from the hole and to the floor. The Bacterian calmed down quickly, Defier lit his shoulder lamp and projected the beam of it to the Bacterians face. “This is team one, we’ve got one of ‘em,” someone reported to the security central.
Defier pulled out his pistol, and pointed it to the Bacterians face. “This time it’ll be no nonsense, or I’ll smoke your ass.” It was a male Bacterian with a long black hair. He wore a somewhat dirty Bacterian military uniform and had the rank of a “commander” displayed on it.
“Where are your shipmates?” Defier asked while pointing the gun to the Bacterian’s face. “I’d reply if I were you, man…” Gecko suggested while nodding his head in approval. “Ehm… I don’t know anything,” the Bacterian replied slowly. “Oh yeah? Well you’re not here for the sights or the free booze, so…” Defier smiled to himself and tapped the Bacterians head with his weapon.
“Sir, we’ve caught one of them alive and are requesting operational procedures on how to deal with him…” one of the soldiers contacted Lieutenant Nafter again. “Yes, offer them anything. Just make it talk.” Nafter replied.
Defier looked at the soldier talking with the lieutenant over the communicator. The others were looking around as well. “Come on, I’ll spare ya if ya tell me where the rest of the crew is located in…” “Hah, heard it before” The Bacterian replied calmly. “Alright, no one falls for that anymore…” Defier nodded to himself and rubbed his chin like someone engaged in deep thought.
Then he clutched his pistol and hit the Bacterian over the head with it. The Bacterian groaned in pain. “What in the name of the gods are you doing? Don’t hit the prisoners!” Gecko yelled back.
Fortunate for the Bacterian prisoner, Defier calmed down and stepped away from the Bacterian. “Damn Defier, sometimes you could pass for a human even with that skin color…” Gecko replied to Defier. “Yeah, so you keep telling me.” Defier nodded.
The Bacterian was lying on the ground, and suddenly stood up again. “Everyone can be broken. Everyone has a price that makes him or her succumb,” Colonel Craal was talking with Defier over the communicator. Probably giving him instructions on how to deal with the Bacterian. “We do not have much time, but you should nevertheless try…” “His fellow Bacterians might be coming to search for him soon…”
The rest of the team was looking at the hole that led to an air ventilation shaft of some sort. “You think that this is the place where they’re hiding in?” One of the soldiers asked. “This leads to it, yeah” Mr. Gecko replied.
Colonel Craal along with the other officers had found the blueprints of the air duct network. The whole network was quite large, so searching it like this would take time. Obviously Defier had thought of something new. He approached the prisoner, and looked at him. “Hey, we’ve got a ship here waiting to transport you back to Bacterius,” he kept a straight face as he said it. “What?” The Bacterian looked up. “We’ve got a bunch of other prisoners in custody as well. I suppose we will take you to the security central where we round you up and put you in a shuttle. Or beam you aboard,” Defier explained. “There are other prisoners as well?” the Bacterian lightened up. Gecko and another soldier were talking on the corner; everyone looked like they were ready to leave the area. “The rest of those Bacterians must be jamming the stations scanners somehow,” Gecko concluded. “Yeah, the Bacterians had some sorts of body armor-suits during one of the battles in the colonies that enabled them to sneak in and out without the older scanning systems detecting them,” the soldier replied. “Yeah, I’ve read about those things. But I doubt that it’s the thing they’re using here…” Gecko stated. One of the soldiers took a hold of the Bacterian prisoner and started to escort it away. Defier turned to speak with Gecko. “What are trying to do?” Gecko asked. “This officer is one tough guy. I thought that offering him amnesty might encourage him to talk, but that thing doesn’t say anything.” Defier explained. “What a great plan...” Gecko smiled sarcastically. “Yeah, right. I guess we’ll just separate into these seven little ducts then,” Defier looked around after saying it. “Yep, one of them is the right one. Has to be,” Gecko agreed.
Some of the other troops were called to the same deck with Defier’s team. The hole that the Bacterian had tried to squeeze through lead to another smaller room that had the seven access ducts leading to different parts of the Hemmoian/Bacterian sector where the remaining Bacterians where holed up in somewhere. There wasn’t enough manpower on site yet, so it was going to be one man per access way.
“Alright, go inside these ducts and if you find the terrorists then call us immediately,” Defier instructed. “The prisoner didn’t talk, and we don’t have time to make him talk just yet,” Defier added.
The troopers entered the hatchways with Defier taking the third hatch. The hatchways were almost completely dark as well. Defier guessed that he had to be walking somewhere in the Hemmoian sector’s air ducts at the moment.
“This is Defier, any movement?” he tapped the communicator. “No, I haven’t found anything yet,” Gecko replied. “Same here, nothing going on,” someone replied from the fifth hatch.
Defier advanced a bit further until he came to the end of the tunnel where an airlock of some sort was closed. It had a warning-sign written in Hemmoian on it. He crawled closer to it, and took a better look at it.
“Hmm, this sign has a symbol for a medical area,” Defier concluded to himself and gently touched the sign. It fell off, like something that had been attached to the wall loosely in the first place.
“What the hell…” Defier knew that airlock-looking doors did not carry symbols of sickbays on it. It almost looked like someone had welded this door in place of a duct entrance. The welding marks were still fresh. It seemed like the Bacterians had constructed a “fake-airlock” door in place of an open-air duct. “All teams, this is Defier! I’ve found something odd, so you’d better come to the third tunnel as fast as you can!” Defier shouted to his communicator. Quick confirmations followed.
As the first two soldiers arrived, they looked at the same door quietly. “Yep, that thing is not supposed to be here,” one of the soldiers agreed. One of the soldiers took a small round object from his pocket. He gave it to Defier. “It’s a mine. If we set it to detonate in about one minute it should nuke that door away,” the soldier explained. “Let’s do it,” Defier concluded and attached the object to the wall and crawled around the corner. The three pulled out their weapons and waited for the little beeping sounds to grow more intense.
Suddenly a huge explosion ripped through the tunnel, not to mention the sound wave that echoed along the tunnel. Defier peeked from around the corner; he motioned for the two others to follow him.
Indeed the “fake-door” led to another large room of some sort. Suddenly they saw someone running away from a small corner on their right side. The group opened fire on the figure, and it fell to the ground silently.
Suddenly someone started to fire on Defier as well. The fire was coming from the other side of the room, the two other soldiers returned fire while prone. “Take cover!” Defier yelled.
This was definitely the place where the Bacterians were hiding in. The fire intensified from the Bacterian side, while the Gigerdians had to take cover. “This is Defier! We’ve found them, but there are at least seven of them firing at us! We’re taking cover behind walls,” Defier yelled to his communicator. “Copy that, we’ve instructed the others to move into your position,” Colonel Craal replied.
Defier glanced around the corner and pulled the trigger of his sidearm, “Damn, we’d need a goddamn rifle…” he wondered out loud. Suddenly more Gigerdians appeared from the tunnel. They took cover behind the same walls, until one of them brought a rocket launcher of some sort with him.
He aimed quickly to the way the Bacterians were firing from and blasted away. Everyone took cover in the Gigerdian side when the blast wave hit the hall. The blast had taken a large piece of the wall with it, not to mention that at least two pipes on the sealing were broken and leaking a liquid of some sort. “Goddamn it, none of that heavy weapons stuff out there…” someone’s voice echoed from a communicator lying on the deck. “I think it’s safe to say they’re all dead,” Defier chuckled while looking at the destruction. “Tell them to send an engineering team from the ship to repair this…”
Peace Station - Main reception area
There were three Bacterian survivors. They had all been executed swiftly and placed in the airlock. Most of the Bacterian bodies were to be spaced so no one could find them.
Colonel Craal had been ordered to take command of the station since rumors were circulating that it was to be opened for business again. This place had to do as his “prize” for now. He was still waiting acknowledgement from the GA military strategic command on his mission. So, for the time being he was running the place. Since the place was to be re-established under GA control, some new changes were to be made.
The main reception area had automated bots sticking rather aggressive looking “propaganda posters” on the walls. The posters screamed GA supremacy and liberation. Craal was overseeing the operation. He smiled smugly while looking at some staff walking to the nearby elevators. He had been told that some of the terrorists might still be left, so he had a small team of the overall squad stay behind to secure the area.
Overseeing the Peace Station really seemed like a sweet job for the moment. It would be a great “training ground” for his soon-to-be general’s position. “I think the worst of trouble is over. All we have to do now is to just look good and spread the good word of the alliance,” Craal said to himself. “After all, we are here to keep the peace,” he mused to himself further.
Chapter 7: Harbinger
Exploreison was approaching the Peace Station, accompanied by some fighters. Gigerdius was in his ready room doing a log of the past events: “Captain’s log stardate 4423.7. Our routine mission to the Ferion system didn’t really go as planned. We attempted to land on Ferion II as a last resort due to the fact that no small ship had been able to land to there, but due to the unusual electric storm in the atmosphere, our jump drives, communications and sensors were disabled. It would also seem that our replicators aren’t working properly, so we need to get to a resupply before our supplies run out.”
He looked out of the holowindow and continued to do his logging: "Drill says the damage can be repaired, but because of our current shortage of onboard personnel we decided to seek help from any nearby stations or vessels. The Peace Station turned out to be the closest station we could find and because sensors are not operational we had to set course to there, we were able to use the jump drives on the fighters onboard to make a short range jump to get us nearer the Peace Station. I never really thought I would visit this place again. It doesn’t really bring back any good memories at least, but still I just somehow like that place as well… anyway, it seems that the commander of that station is not the same it used to be when we left from here last time. We used the fighter’s short range communications to inform them of our arrival so they should be somewhat prepared for that.”
Not long after that Sprak said through the communicator: “Captain, we have arrived at the Peace Station.” Gigerdius stood up from his chair and said: “I’m on my way, end log.”
Gigerdius came to the bridge and saw the Peace Station on the viewscreen. He started memorizing it once again. He had rather neutral expression towards it, no happiness, and no sadness. Then he stated: “Sprak, inform R’Derex to meet us in the bridge transporter room. We’re going to make a little visit to the station.“ Sprak stood up from his chair and then they both left the bridge.
Colonel Craal was already waiting for them at the Peace Station, along with one other officer, who had pointed ears and a green barrette hat, he was also carrying a sidearm. The officer was a male Lihter and part of the attachment commanded by Colonel Craal. Gigerdius, R’Derex and Sprak materialized in the Peace Station lobby. Craal looked serious and seemed to recognize Gigerdius. Gigerdius and company walked at Craal and the officer. Craal greeted them: “This is certainly a surprise, Ambassador, or should I say, Captain, welcome to the Peace Station”, Craal saluted Gigerdius with a Military salute, but Gigerdius didn’t respond to it. He didn’t expect any “by-the-book”-attitude and had no plans on following it. He responded: “Thank you colonel and yes, I have my own ship now, and we need time to do some repairs, you might be able to help. “My station can render full aid, even to you, believe me,” Craal replied and Gigerdius continued: "Good, I have my Chief Engineers notes on the damage of the Exploreison, I suppose that you'll want to have a look at them" "Of course, I'll let my staff handle them, but there’s something I don’t get though. The Exploreison is the flagship of the exploration fleet, 14 kilometers long, crammed full of state of the art technology ... but you still need our help to fix your malfunction?” Gigerdius started to explain: “Well, we encountered an unusual electric storm on Ferion II, you might have heard about it, which damaged our power systems quite a lot and because we are really shorthanded it would have taken longer time for us to repair them, and because our replicators also went offline, so we really didn’t have much supplies available.” Craal then responded with a slight tone of ridicule: “How about that.” And continued: “Now, before you go, there are some things I need to discuss with you, personally,” while looking at the other Exploreison officers, and then he turned back to Gigerdius and continued: “Meet me in my office as soon as you are able to.” “I’ll be there once we get the repairs started,” replied Gigerdius and then the Exploreison crewmembers left the area. Once they were gone Craal lowered his voice and said to the officer: “Keep a close eye on the Exploreison’s crew, I don’t want them to cause any trouble here, understood?” “Yes, sir,” the officer replied and Craal countered: “Good, dismissed.” The officer left and Craal squinted and looked at the direction Gigerdius and the crew went Gigerdius and the crew are walking along the corridors. “This place seems to look mostly the same, at least in this area,” Gigerdius commented. “Yes, but we have only explored a very small area yet,” replied R’Derex. “Anyway, I’m going to look around here. Let’s meet in the main conference room in 30 minutes.” “We will be there,” Sprak answered and they parted ways.
Gigerdius was looking out of one of the windows and was thinking at the same time: “The Peace Station had changed. Once a shining beacon of peace and hope, it had now been turned into a military outpost. I had seen that the times were changing for the Alliance, but looking at it all now, I can't help but wonder if these changes are for the good or the bad." He then decided to explore the place a little. He walked trough the corridors of the Peace Station and saw several propaganda posters labeling the Bacterians and Hemmoians as terrorists and enemies to the GA, a lot of pro-GA-posters. Claiming people to remain vigilant as the enemy could be anywhere, telling you to obey your superiors, to be obedient and to defend your liberty. For Gigerdius this was a rather big step towards extreme patriotism. He hadn’t seen anything like this aboard the Exploreison and was thus a bit stunned of all the posters, he commented: “Hmm, seems like I’ve been out of the loop for a long time,” while several other people walked by him.
Gigerdius watched the Propaganda posters when a dark figure walked along the corridor, and accidentally hit him. “Uhh, I’m sorry,” Gigerdius apologized, the figure looked at him with a normal look, and responded: “That’s quite alright, Captain.” The man then walked away. Gigerdius is left to wonder the identity of this man. He looked at the direction the man headed for a while until he finally pressed his communicator and said: “Gigerdius to Drill, Drill have the repairs begun?” “Yes, sir, we’re starting them in about a minute,” responded Drill. “Good, I’ll contact you later in light of further developments, Gigerdius out,” replied Gigerdius and then started walking to Craal’s office.
Gigerdius walked into Craal’s office, he saw Craal sitting behind his desk, reading something. The office was full of GA propaganda posters, a picture of President Rubek, and everything seemed to look very “Pro-GA”-like. Craal noticed and looked at Gigerdius, and calmly pointed Gigerdius to have a seat beside the desk: “Ah, Captain Gigerdius, sit down”, Gigerdius proceeded to sit down. Gigerdius: “There was something you needed to talk about?” Gigerdius looked at Craal. “Yes, there was. I wanted to tell you how things are run around here,” replied Craal. Gigerdius was bewildered by Craal’s words. He did not expect him to start a conversation this way. “I’m not so sure what you mean and how does it concern me?”, replied Gigerdius, wondering. Craal then proceeded to stand up from the chair: “As you might have seen, the order has been restored to this place, while our troops are occupying Bacterius, I can guarantee safety for our citizens here. Just like this office… it once belonged to one filthy Bacterian, but I rearranged it…” Craal looks at the propaganda posters on the wall and continues: “more appropriately. And removed all the Bacterian propaganda.” “I see…” responded Gigerdius, being surprised by the aggressive tone used by Craal. “Yes, and I know that there are traitors working to undermine the president’s authority as well, all I need you to do, is to keep watch of these saboteurs, just in case,” Craal continued and kept constant eye-contact with Gigerdius. “My position is really not to do these things,” said Gigerdius and then stood up and continued: “I devote my career to the exploration of other Galaxies and to diplomatic affairs”, Craal looked to his side and changed their topic of discussion: “Yes, but that’s a good looking ship, sad to see it in your hands.” “What do you mean?” asked Gigerdius, wondering Craal’s sudden switch of topic. “Let’s put it this way, I’ve heard about your little “Operation” during the Timocracy war, and you’ve been to prison for it”, Craal explained, maintaining his very serious tone, which seemed to be become even more aggressive. Gigerdius also decided to take a more serious tone: “What has happened has happened, and that wasn’t really my fault even… But I’ve made things better for myself now.” “Say what you want, but I’ll be watching you like a hawk, that is all,” Craal said with very disrespectful voice. “Fine!” answered Gigerdius and left the office with frustration. Craal looked at Rubek’s face and smiled.
Gigerdius stopped right outside Craal’s office. He checked the status of the Exploreison’s repairs. “Gigerdius to Drill, Drill how have the repairs started?” “Quite well, captain. We should be ready in no time,” answered Drill through the communicator. “Good, I might wanna leave this place sooner than I thought." "Why is that?" asked Drill, wondering what might be driving Gigerdius off so early. "I’ll explain that to you later, but keep me informed on any changes at the Exploreison, Gigerdius out," Gigerdius ended the conversation. He then proceeded to walk around a bit before heading to the conference room.
Craal left his office to do his routine check-up on the soldiers under his command. He was also curious about the Exploreison’s progress. He wanted them out of the station as soon as possible and file a report about it to the GA Strategic Command. He proceeded towards the security office of the Gigerdian sector. Most of his troops were located there. The same officer that was with Craal during his first meeting with the Exploreison’s officers was there. Craal went to him: “Report, officer!” “Sir, the Exploreison’s repairs are proceeding well, they should be able to depart in few days,” the officer reported. “Good, I want that ship out of here as soon as possible. Have the Exploreison’s crewmembers done anything?” asked Craal to see if he could have some good reason to throw them out of the station and report their activities to the Strategic Command. “No sir, we have been monitoring them closely, but haven’t detected any suspicious activities,” answered the officer. Craal wanted to make sure that they don’t act the most friendly way towards the Exploreison people: “Good, but if they do anything odd or suspicious don’t hesitate to arrest them.” “Yes sir! Sir, how did your conversation with the captain Gigerdius go?” the officer asked in turn. “Well, perhaps better than I had originally thought. Still I never imagined to meet him, never really would have wanted to meet him,” countered Craal and thought about the conversation he had with Captain Gigerdius. “I understand sir, but they should depart soon,” the officer tried to assure the colonel of the Exploreison’s soon to come departure. “Yes, they should, unless they make up some excuses to stay here and sabotage our work here,” Craal stated, and seemed to firmly believe that there was something more sinister in their arrival to the station, the officer didn’t have such paranoid thoughts and so tried to convince Craal of their honesty: “I pretty much doubt that sir.” “Yeah, so do I, but there’s always a chance… anyway, I’ll head to my office, inform me if anything happens,” responded Craal, leaving the possibility of anything still open. “Yes, sir,” the officer replied and made the standard military salute. Craal then left the room to check up the rest of his troops.
Sprak and R’Derex were wondering the Gigerdian sector of the station. Looking around. “Well, this place has changed in these few months,” commented R’Derex while they were walking. “Indeed it has,” was the firm answer of Sprak. R’Derex stopped near few propaganda posters, Sprak did the same. Suddenly an officer came out of a room behind them. Sprak and R’Derex turned to watch. Sprak commented the event: “There are a lot more security officers.” “Indeed, now this place seems to be more of a military installation than any ‘Peace Station’,” R’Derex responded, being a bit uneasy about the increase in security officers, especially ground forces ones. “Yes, it would appear so. A most peculiar observation; the new personnel seem to be completely army in origin - There are no fleet officers to be found anywhere. A highly unorthodox procedure," Sprak said, by his usual logical way of speaking. "Y'know, you're right. It is strange,” agreed R’Derex. Sprak turns his interest towards the posters and comments about them: “What do you assume is the meaning of all these posters?” “I think they’re some kind of government propaganda. Good thing we don’t have those at the Exploreison,” R’Derex replied, being glad of not having the need to watch them aboard the Exploreison. “Their intended purpose escapes me,” wondered Sprak, not seeing much reason or logic in them. “Well, I don't really get them either,” R’Derex responded, not seeing too much logic in them either. “Why have they placed them all over the Station?” “Don't ask me, could be a grunt thing; those guys have always had a need for extravagant posters,” answered R’Derex, not having so much respect over the grunts. “A logical supposition. But we should head for the conference room now,” reminded Sprak. “Oh yes, we really should or we’ll be late from the meeting,” R’Derex replied and gestured for them to leave. So they started to head to the conference room for the meeting.
Gigerdius had stopped to look the stars at a one window located in the Gigerdian sector. He was thinking the previous memories he’s had of the place. Voices kept going in his head, the voices of Kyle Gigerdi Jr. and Mad Gigerdi Jr.. “I think he should be executed or imprisoned,” said Kyle “Well, I wouldn’t go that far; it wasn’t really his fault, you know,” Mad replied, apparently trying to lower Gigerdius’s sentence. “Hmm… I don’t know, I still think he should at least be placed in custody,” continued Kyle, not willing to give up on Gigerdius. “That’s a bit too rough a treatment for him, I think we should just let the court-martial decide what to do with him. After all he still wasn't responsible for the whole incident,” Mad said and tried to let the court to do the judgment. “Fine,” was the short and swift answer of Kyle. He obviously didn’t want Gigerdius to get away so lightly. Then suddenly a short pause came inside his thoughts, until he finally hears another voice: “Unfortunately, with the damage done at the Peace Station by your so-called 'copy', we are obliged to place you under arrest. However, further investigations on your involvement in the matter are under way...” And again a short silence, then Kyle Gigerdi Jr.’s words: “You will have a court-martial, but you will not be executed and probably won’t be imprisoned either.” Gigerdius shook his head and said: “Damn, this place always gives me bad memories… better get going now.” He left the area and proceeded to the conference room.
Back at the Exploreison. The bridge is rather empty and Drill has occupied the captain’s chair. Only Fhogli is present of all the bridge crew. Suddenly Grillka comes in, walks at Drill and asks: “Where’s the captain?” “He went to the Peace Station,” replied Drill. Grillka didn’t like what she heard, her previous commanding officers had always informed her if they were to depart somewhere as it was the usual protocol. Gigerdius seemed to be different and that had started to annoy her: “And didn’t bother to inform me about it?” “Well, perhaps he didn’t want to disturb you?” But that wasn’t good enough reason for Grillka, she sat on her chair with no good mood: “I hate people who only go through fast military training.” Drill chuckled.
Chapter 8: Rising Tensions
Sprak and R’Derex have arrived at the conference room. Gigerdius walked in the room. “Captain, the repairs aboard the Exploreison are proceeding well, we will be ready to depart soon,” said Sprak when he noticed Gigerdius’s entrance. Gigerdius noded and proceeded to sit down while saying: “It’s good that we’ll be ready soon, there are some weird things happening here.” “What do you mean, Captain?” asked R’Derex, wondering what the captain meant with those words. “Colonel Craal seems to dislike me, for my past ‘actions’ during the Timocracy War,” Gigerdius replied, a certain confused tone could be heard in his voice. “Hmm, Craal seems to run this station like a military base, so that really doesn’t surprise me,” said R’Derex and didn’t consider Gigerdius’s experiences so anomalous.
Suddenly, the lights blinked off and then back on, the place shook and some odd sound effects could be heard. Sprak, R’Derex and Gigerdius were amazed. “What happened?” was R’Derex first comment, although he was rather sure none of them exactly knew what was going on. Gigerdius looked around a bit and then replied: “Sounded like a bomb.” “Perhaps we should investigate,” recommended Sprak. “Good idea,” Gigerdius responded and stood up from the chair, they all walked at the door where they were stopped by a security officer: “Sirs, for your safety I must demand that you remain in the conference room.” “What has happened?” asked R’Derex wanting for more information. “We’ve had a bombing(Somebody set us up the bomb!), Colonel Craal will inform you more once he has more information, until then remain in the conference room,” answered the security officer swiftly. The crewmembers moved back into the room.
“So I guess we’re not leaving yet,” R’Derex commented. “It would appear so,” replied Sprak, with his usual logical tone. “I guess we could request further information from the Exploreison,” “Good idea, sir, they probably know something that going on,” R’Derex answered to Gigerdius’s suggestion. “Gigerdius to Exploreison,” but he was counted by silence. “Gigerdius to Exploreison…” again only silence. “What could be wrong there? The short range communications should be functioning without problems,” R’Derex worried, he was even thinking of the possibility that Exploreison had been damaged or was under attack. Sprak, however, shed some hope to him: “Sir, I believe Colonel Craal and his troops have deployed an all-communications jammer. It is commonly used by ground forces in critical situations where absolutely no communication is allowed,” “Highly possible Sprak, but they could’ve informed us first,” Gigerdius commented, not being very happy about the situation. “It is also possible that it automatically activated on emergency situations, as that is also a common procedure,” Sprak said, shedding some light into affairs again. Gigerdius obviously didn’t know all this stuff, being so new to anything widely relating to military, especially the ground forces: “I see… well I haven’t investigated how these things work exactly; they didn’t teach me all this stuff in such a short time.” “That is completely understandable captain, not even all trained fleet captains know this information,” Sprak continued and apparently tried to make Gigerdius feel better about himself.
“So for now I guess we can only wait,” said R’Derex and sat down on the chair. “It would appear so,” Sprak replied and they all went back to sit on their chairs. “By the way, does fleet use such jamming techniques as well?” Gigerdius asked. “Sometimes, but more rarely. Fleet usually doesn’t so widely jam its own communications as the ground forces do,” Sprak answered, apparently knowing everything you could know about the subject. “Okay, good to know. Thanks for the info Sprak,” Gigerdius thanked and Sprak nodded in response.
Craal was investigating the bombsite. There was surprisingly little of damage. Mostly the place had some damaged cords and stuff blown into the corridors. A lot of people had still been killed comparing to the little amount of damage. Craal was discussing with one his troops, a male Gigerdian: “What does the preliminary analysis say?” Craal asked. “We have confirmed the deaths of three people and at least eight wounded,” “So many soldiers were killed, but little of material damage, why?” asked Craal, wanting to know the reason for so many deaths. “A suicide bomber possibility was investigated, but none of us believes that as there is no proof relating to that. Most likely a bomb was placed in some precise location where a lot of our personnel were situated,” “I want this matter to be solved as soon as possible, continue your investigations and report any new findings to me immediately,” ordered Craal. “Yes, sir!” replied the soldier. “I’ll go and meet Mr. Gigerdius and his… “crew”,” Craal said and did the usual military salute, the soldier responded to it by doing the same.
Sprak, R’Derex and Gigerdius were still sitting in the conference room, waiting for something to happen. Then Colonel Craal walked in along with another officer. The officer is carrying a gun and was a male Lihter with some kind of combat vest on, the officer was rather young-looking, which of course didn’t mean that he was “young”. He was as unemotional as Mr. Sprak was. Craal on the other hand wasn’t happy at all: “Gentlemen, we’re on station-wide alert. There’s been a bomb explosion near the Security Office of the Gigerdian sector.” ”Any casualties?” was the first question that came to R’Derex’s mind. “We’ve had some hull damage, and four people are currently confirmed dead, seven wounded,” Craal replied, and wasn’t happy for the loss of his troops. He, of course, already had a firm believe that who were responsible. “Have you got any idea on who did this?” Gigerdius asked, not knowing that Craal had already picked a possible guilty party. “I’m very sure that it’s those scum Bacterian terrorists. I suspected that something like this would happen after our victory!” counted Craal with an obvious aggressive tone of voice. R’Derex, Sprak and Gigerdius looked at each other, they’re worried, except Sprak who only raised his eyebrows.
“We’d need to get to the Exploreison,” Gigerdius asked, attempting to remove the jamming field currently in place aboard the station. Craal shook his head: “No way, this station is under martial law. You stay here with us, until this is cleared up.” “At least let me contact Exploreison, so I can determine if everything is okay there and to make sure no one leaves or goes to Exploreison!” “Hmm…. Fine do it then!” Craal replied, even more aggressively; he obviously didn’t like Gigerdius’s aggressive tone of voice. “Do you have any medical facilities here?” asked R’Derex, wondering whether or not the Craal’s taskforce had sufficient resources to heal the wounded. “Our medical facilities are pretty full at the time, and half of the staff is elsewhere,” answered Craal, admitting that they didn’t have enough resources available and actually needed the resources onboard the Exploreison. “Then you should beam those dead and wounded people to Exploreison,” Gigerdius explained to Craal to make him understand the situation. "Hmm… alright, we'll beam them aboard your ship then." Craal presses his communicator and continues: “Craal to sickbay, beam the dead and wounded to the Exploreison; they'll take care of them there and disable the communication jamming so that the Exploreison can be contacted.” “Yes, sir, sickbay out,” replied the medical officer.
“Gigerdius to Exploreison, Drill, lock down the Exploreison and inform Deket that he’s getting four dead people and seven wounded there!” Gigerdius instructed Drill. “Yes, sir. Captain, we also detected an explosion at the Peace Station, is everything okay there?” asked Drill through the communicator, as he was a bit worried of the turn of the events that had occurred. “I’m not sure yet, I’ll contact you when we have some more info, Gigerdius out,” Gigerdius quitted the conversation. “Any chance I could assist you?” asked R’Derex, obviously Craal’s forces could use some assistance. “I think that’s OK, we are quite short handed here anyway,” admitted Craal as well. He seemed to still have some respect towards R’Derex. Perhaps because his job was closest to that of the ground forces’. “Colonel, it would be wise to allow us access back to our ship, as we cannot help you here to any considerable extent. Our facilities onboard the Exploreison are far superior to the equipment here,” Sprak began to explain to Craal, he realized that he and Gigerdius couldn’t really do anything useful aboard the Peace Station, but could rather use the resources at the Exploreison. “On any other situation, you would stay here, but we need assistance, you might as well use the Exploreison,” Craal replied and seemed to be calming down as he was letting them to go. “Thank you, colonel,” responded Sprak, calmly as Lihters do always. Gigerdius and Sprak then stood up from their chairs, Gigerdius presses his communicator and said: “Gigerdius to bridge transporter room, two to beam out.” After that they were energized. R’Derex then stood up from his chair and said: “Let’s get to work then.” “I’ll escort you to the bombsite,” Craal replied and they all left from the conference room.
Grillka and Drill were waiting in the transporter room of the bridge of the Exploreison when Sprak and Gigerdius beamed in. Once Sprak and Gigerdius materialized Grillka asked: “So what really happened there?” “I have no idea, that’s why we’re here. What we do know is that a bomb exploded there,” replied Gigerdius as he and Sprak stepped away from the transporter pad. “I would need to run scans on the Peace Station to actually determine what exactly happened there,” Sprak explained. “I see, but why didn’t you inform me that you were actually going to visit the station?” Grillka asked from Gigerdius, as she wanted to know why she wasn’t informed about him visiting the station. “Well, I thought you were still sleeping… and I was somewhat eager to meet the new commander of the Peace Station, even though I regret that now a bit...” replied Gigerdius, knowing that Grillka may not take that explanation so openly. However, Drill was the next one to make the question: “What do you mean, captain?” “Colonel Craal does seem to have irrationally extreme militaristic tendencies. It is almost as if he considers us to be in a state of war. He also appears to harbor certain distrust for the captain because of the Timocracy War incident,” explained Sprak. “Militaristic commander, interesting… but shouldn’t you do your scans now?” Drill said as they had already wasted some time just talking in the transporter room. “Yeah, you’re right we really should,” Gigerdius replied and they all left from the transporter room. Outside Grillka still commented: “I hope you inform me better about your trips in the future, that IS the military protocol if I have to remind you.” “I understand, I’ll try to remember that, but no guarantees,” Gigerdius replied in his usual attitude of not caring about the military ways. Grillka sighed as Gigerdius didn’t seem to much care about following the correct protocols. “And we have much more important matters to attend to now,” Gigerdius continued and headed for the bridge. Grillka still looked troubled and commented to herself: “They should never allow ambassadors to be captains.” “Did you say something commander?” Gigerdius asked, as he could hear her saying something.