Episode 33 (2180.11.13)
by Shawn Hagen (1998)
Starblade Battalion is the Property of R.Talsorian Games.
Opening Titles - As Before
"Anything happened yet?" Akadi asked as she entered the bridge.
"Opening moves," Jesse told her from the Celeste's command chair. The ship's refit had included a gold fish bowl bridge and all around the crew was space.
"Any more ODF ships show up?"
"No. I don't think any will, not soon enough to be of any help. They were bluffing."
Akadi turned to look at the SAC ships. Two cruisers and four battleriders. Double the number of ships the ODF had put in orbit around Faraday. "What's that ship way back there?" Akadi asked.
"Good question. It is on the far edges of our sensors, and it also is generating a fairly nice ECM screen. Might be a watcher, like us."
Akadi grabbed hold of back of Jesse's chair and held herself there as she looked over everything. "Looks like it will start soon."
"Another pointless battle between the two over this stupid planet."
"Captain," the sensor op called. "Ship seven has just launched some very fast moving objects."
"Still not known."
"Keep abreast of it."
"The ODF have just launched their suits," Akadi said.
Jesse nodded as he watched the battle. Neither the ODF or SAC were involved in any operations that might threaten civilian populations, so he had ordered the various blades to start watching the two sides, to learn from them. It was why he was there.
The target analyser started tagging the ODF suits. It tagged each kind of suit, putting a representation to the side of the main display. The representations turned slowly, the computer labelling the various weapons and significant design features.
"What do you think of those Nachtmarens," Akadi asked as the computer tagged one.
"My uncle hates them."
"They are an impressive suit. Fortunately we have a few neat things going for us. Looks like we aren't going to see any of those Sturm Drakens people are talking about."
"I figure we still outclass them."
"The SAC have begun launching their suits."
Jesse nodded and watched as the battle began to unfold. The suits met first, clashing in the area between the ships. The SAC had the advantage in numbers and began to break through the line.
Then the ships began to open fire on each other, changing the flavour of the battle. The commander of the Wotan split his ships, sending them into the middle of the fighting suits. Jesse nodded. While it opened them up to the danger of attacks from suits, it was something they would have had to deal with anyway. On the other hand, the SAC ships were hindered by their own suits.
It might be a more even battle than he had thought.
"Sir, we have information on the objects launched from ship seven."
"What do you got?" Jesse asked.
"I think they are suits," the sensor op told him. "These are computer enhanced visuals."
A sub screen formed on the side and displayed the suit.
"It's big," Akadi said.
"Not human form. No legs. What are those things on the end of its arms?" Jesse asked.
"Some sort of claw. Do you think those things on its shoulders are cannons?"
"Could be. Anything in the computer?"
"No sir. It's new."
"ODF or SAC?" Akadi asked.
"I guess we'll find out soon."
They watched as the battle continued to unfold, the ODF was managing to hold its own. One of the SAC battleriders had been destroyed and a number of wrecked suits floated in space.
"The newcomers are about to enter the battle," Akadi told him.
Jesse nodded as he turned towards the new suits. It did not take long to decide which side they were on. Jesse watched as one of the suits lashed out with huge talons, ripping a Draken apart as it passed. "The SAC have a new toy."
"It's a monster," Akadi said.
"Fast and fairly agile," Jesse noted, watching a suit spin about, opening up on a Nachtmaren with a spread of missiles.
A series of explosions ripped across the side of the Woton and the cruiser began to roll, heavily damaged.
"What happened?" Akadi asked.
"It was one of those new suits," the weapons officer said. "The cannons on its shoulder."
"Impressive," Jesse said.
"Battle is turning," Akadi said.
"How many of those new suits were there?" Jesse asked the sensor op.
"You're sure of that?"
"So, five suits turn the battle."
"The SAC had more ships and suits."
"The ODF commander was a lot better. I thought it was going to end in a draw. Give me a full active scan on those new suits. I want to know everything you can find out."
Getting the Wyverns into the battle had taken some work. The commander of the SAC ships had not wanted anything to do with the Bhan/Zai ship and its experimental suits. It had required them to hang far back and wait for the battle to begin. After that they had burned a lot of fuel to get into the fighting in time.
Carly brought her Wyvern in close to the Nachtmaren that she had been chasing after. The battle was turning in the SAC's favour, though things were far from over. Her Wyvern's huge, mantis like talon reached out and grasped the Nachtmaren, pulling it close. The ODF suit fought and almost broke the hold. Its struggles caused some minor damage to the Wyvern's actuators and buckled the armour slightly. Carly brought the other talon around, hooking it on the Nachtamaren's other arm. With a mighty pull she tore the arm from the suit.
The were electrical discharges from the empty socket for a moment, and for that time the suit was still. Carly took advantage of the momentary freeze up to slash the head from the suit. She left the crippled suit behind and went looking for new targets.
A Viggen was ripped apart by her suits huge talons, a Draken was badly damaged by a spread of missiles and was finished up with a blast from the gauss machine guns. She cut sharp across the bow of a battle rider, turning her suit to face it.
The two huge cannons over the shoulders of crackled with energy as the capacitors were charged to full. She had chosen to arm her suit with the big guns, accepting the recharge times. The cannons discharged, the bow of the ship exploded which set up a number of secondary explosions. Carly was blasting back to avoid the final explosion. When it came a few seconds later, it was a big one that lit the area up for a few seconds.
Carly was feeling quite smug when her suit shook and alarms began to sound. She spun about to face a Nachtmaren that had come up behind her. The ODF suit could generate a tremendous amount of firepower, as Carly was discovering. Still, a blast that would destroy most other suits only damaged her Wyvern.
She put her suit through a series of defensive manoeuvres, avoiding the fire of the deadly suit. She fired back with the gauss machine guns, waiting for the cannons to recharge. The ready lights lit up for both cannons. She tracked the opposing suit with the port cannon, then opened fire on it.
She gave the other pilot credit, he or she tried to get out of the way, but it was pointless. The suit was ripped apart by the blast, leaving only wreckage floating in space.
Carly checked over the damage indicators. She could still fight, but the battle was almost over. No reason for her to stay. She had acquitted herself well, and was happy with the way the Wyvern behaved.
She was moving out of the battle when she received a message. <Carly, someone just gave me a really intense scan. Set of a bunch of my alarms,> Keene Bird told her. He was another one of Kit Bash's head hunted pilots.
<Makes sense, the ODF are probably curious.>
<That's the thing, it didn't come from any of these ships.>
<Near the moon.>
<You staying in this battle?>
<Yes. I'm fine.>
<I'll go check it out. Take care, watch your back,> Carly told him. She lined herself up with the far off moon and opened up the boosters. They glowed as the Wyvern leapt forward with more than 5Gs of acceleration.
"Got company coming," Akadi said. She had been looking at the screens.
"What?" Jesse looked up from his tactical display.
"One of those big, ugly suits. Coming fast for our general area."
Jesse looked back at the tactical display, then up at the screens. "Let's get out of here. If that thing is fast enough to start getting close we'll cloak. I have no desire to meet that beast in this ship. We'll run quiet, passive sensors only."
The crew went to work and the Celeste turned, moving away from the battle.
When Carly got to the moon she found nothing. She turned her sensors systems up to full and searched the area. There was nothing there, not now.
After several minutes she turned her suit around and headed back to the Bhan/Zai ship. The battle was over and she had to get her suit repaired and the weapons reloaded. It was likely that she was going to be involved in more fighting soon.
The Despair cruised into the Starblade Shoal, the Perth just behind it. The Despair's hull was marked with plasma burns and near the stern was a hastily patched breech. The Perth was in much better condition, though it to showed signs of fighting.
Ree and Epiphany sat in the bow salon, looking out the huge windows. It was the first time since they had left the shoal that the huge, armour shutters had been rolled back from the armour glass windows.
"Is there anything else we have to do?" Epiphany asked Ree.
"Not really. We have everything taken care of. I'll check up on Juan and the others and see if they want us."
"Are we going to stay on the ship?"
"No, not if Juan might call on us at any moment. Best to stay where he can find us. I'll have to arrange to get the Claytons assigned to me so I can keep them close by as well."
"I'm going to grab my suit and move it off the ship then."
Ree nodded. "I'll see you later then. I'm going to stay here and finish off the last few things. I'll see you on the cylinder I guess."
"See you later then," Epiphany said as she got to her feet.
When Epiphany left Ree turned to look back out the window. She put her feet up on the table in front of her and stared out at space. It would be nice to take a little break from the fighting. And while she wanted a break, she was also hoping that the mission Juan was proposing might bring her up against some good pilots. She had not been challenged in a while.
Soon after docking the suit in the Cylinder, Epiphany made her way to the medical centre. She had timed things fairly well and soon after she arrived Dr. Rolson showed up. Epiphany moved quickly to intercept him, falling into step beside him.
"Dr. Rolson, can I talk to you?"
Andrew looked at her for a moment, wondering what she wanted, but simply nodded. "I have to make some reports. Do you know where my office is?"
"I'm sure I can find it."
"All right. Why don't you wait for me. I shouldn't be much later than thirty minutes."
"Okay," Epiphany nodded.
"See you soon then."
Epiphany watched him walk off, then she turned and went looking for his office. She found it quickly enough then went inside to wait.
It was almost forty minutes before he came in his office. He smiled at her. "Sorry, the Chief Medical Officer had a lot of questions." He moved behind his desk and sat down. "So Miss Clarris, what can I do for you?"
"If you don't mind me asking, is it true that you are one of the best nanosurgeons in the Cluster?"
Andrew laughed. "Maybe. I don't think there is anyone really keeping record. I'm good at my work, and I do everything I can to ensure that my patients get the best. There are things I don't do though. Weapons work, excessive body modifications, a number of the possibly dangerous work, I stay away from that."
Epiphany nodded. "I guess what I am interested in is a fairly excessive body modification."
"To the cells."
"That's pretty deep. Chromosome job?"
"That's what I was thinking."
"That can be potentially dangerous. Very easy to make a mistake or botch it if the doctor is not skilled enough."
"Are you skilled enough?"
Andrew said nothing for a time. Then he nodded. "I am."
"Then let's get to work," Epiphany said.
"You'll need two weeks."
"I'll arrange for the leave."
"Okay. Once you got that taken care of, come back here an we'll get to work. I'll set up the computer programs and we can start programming the nanites."
"Thank you," Epiphany said as she got to her feet.
"You're sure you want to do this?"
"Yes," Epiphany nodded.
"I'll see you soon then."
"Anything happening yet?" Juan asked Diane as he walked into the room.
"Nothing yet. Out target is still waiting."
"You'd think a terrorist would be a little busier," Juan said as he walked up behind Diane and looked over her shoulder at the screens she was watching.
"Maybe it's a slow day. How is Marshal Sharp doing?"
"He's found another cache a few hours ago. He has some people watching it."
"We're doing fairly well then."
"Still haven't gotten the big break yet." Juan pulled a chair up and sat beside her.
"I think we are close. We just have to go slow. If we move too fast we might scare off our prey."
"So what's the news from the front?"
"Not much has changed, not really. The ODF and SAC are still mostly engaged in small scale operations. The Battalion is mostly watching, learning about our enemy. I get the idea that some people think we could be performing more important duties."
"They aren't going to pull us off this are they?"
"No. They might think this is a long shot, but it is too important. Caroline wants in on this when we get close. She's putting a story together, so no one is going to order us to halt this."
"Caroline is all right, but only her. She knows when to duck."
"I wasn't planning on opening this up to others. She's probably go to receive a large number of awards when this is all over. Think you'll get a commendation?"
"Hard to say. I think in the end the Marshals will pretend this has never happened. We're supposed to be above political concerns and follow the laws of society. We've had to move back from that stance because of the war, which is fine, but we'll pretend it never happened. It is probably best that way." She adjusted the flight of one of the EyeSpies, moving it into a better position. "What does the end of the war hold for you?"
"Business as usual," Juan smiled.
"Good to hear it."
"I think she is beginning to move," Juan said.
Diane looked at the screen. "So she is. Come on," she got to her feet.
"Is there anything special I should know?"
"Don't be obvious."
"Other than that?"
"You'll figure it out."
The woman had already started her car and was driving off when Diane and Juan reached Diane's car. Diane pulled the car cover off and shoved it into the back seat. "Get in," she said as she opened the driver's door.
Juan had just sat down when Diane drove off. He pulled the door closed before it clipped another car in the parking lot. "Where is she?"
"Just down this street," Diane told him, watching the feed that was coming in from one of her EyeSpies. As she came around a corner she spotted the rear corner of the other car as it turned another corner. "We'll just let her get far enough ahead so she does not see us come out."
Juan nodded and said nothing. Occasionally he did similar work, but Diane was the expert.
Soon after Diane sped up, moving through traffic until she spotted the other car. She held a position some distance behind the other car, keeping it in sight. A short time later she suddenly turned off onto a side street and parked.
"What's going on?" Juan asked.
"There's some construction work ahead of us," Diane said as she opened the door. "It will slow her down for a time." She got out of the car.
"So now what?" Juan asked as he got out of the car.
"A little change." She walked around and opened the trunk. Inside was a small motorcycle, folded up on itself. She pulled the light weight bike out and placed it on the ground.
"So what do we now?" Juan asked.
"Well," Diane said as she pressed a small switch on the bike, the vehicle began to unfold. "I'll take this bike and follow her while you take the car and keep in touch with me. In a little while we'll switch off."
"You can change the colour of the car and the plate numbers and signature." She grabbed the helmet out of the trunk then slammed the trunk closed. "Can you handle it?"
"I'll manage," Juan said as he walked around towards the driver's door.
"Good." Diane put the helmet on then sat on the bike. A moment later the hydrogen engine started up and she was heading back the way she had come. The bike's engine was small, but the bike was so light it could attain some impressive speeds.
A short time later she reached the traffic back up caused by the construction. She moved through it slowly, technically illegal, but she'd chance it. Once she spotted the car she was following she halted the bike and waited, moving forward at the same rate as everyone else.
Not long afterwards the terrorist's car was free of the construction area, as was Diane. Diane followed some distance behind, using other cars as cover as she went. The longer she was not seen, the better.
<Juan, where are you?> she sent.
<Eighth street, I'll be crossing Dear street in a minute or two.>
Diane called up a map on the inside of her helmets visor, looking at Juan's position. <Speed up, and turn left when you get to Reeves Street. When you come out on Lilac wait until the car passes then fall in behind it.>
<I'll be there.>
Diane cut the connection and continued following after the car. She pulled to the side of the road before she crossed Reeves street. Ahead of her she saw Juan move into traffic, going after the car.
Normally on such a job she would have had a lot of people on her task force, but she had been unwilling to let too many people know about this operation. She had kept it restricted to Marshals she knew, not trusting the local police force. The Midnight Sun had infiltrated law enforcement agencies in the past. It was safer not to trust them.
She and the others had prepared for that though, and there was a reason she had picked the corner of Lilac and Reeves. Diane pulled the bike into a parking garage and parked it at the end of a row of motorcycles. After securing the small bike, she walked to a larger motorcycle near the middle of the group.
From the side compartments she removed a new helmet and new jacket to make sure she was not recognised. That taken care of she got on the bike, started it up, and drove out of the parking garage. She called up Juan to find out where he was and plan the next switch.
Diane changed vehicles twice more during the tail, switching off with Juan before the woman could realise she was being followed. She left the city centre and out into the suburbs of Kroft. Diane was worried that they might be spotted as there was less traffic, but the woman soon pulled into the parking lot of a park.
Juan met up with Diane on the other side of the park, in a small grove of trees. "Anything?"
"She is still waiting," Diane said, watching the woman through a pair of powerful binoculars.
Juan set the bag he was carrying down then dropped onto the ground beside her. He opened the bag and pulled out several pieces of equipment.
"I sent a crawler out there, up that tree she's sitting under. We'll be able to hear everything."
Juan nodded as he brought his own binoculars up, focusing on the woman.
"Keep an eye on her." Diane told him as she shifted her attention to the area around the park, checking everyone out. She also looked behind her, just to be sure. She was sweeping the park when she saw him. "There's Mr. Bamoral."
"Maybe this will be the one," Juan said, not taking his eyes off the woman.
"I hope so." Diane turned on the mike that was in the crawler.
The man took a seat beside the woman, close, but not so close that they looked intimate. They were seated in such a way that both Diane and Juan could see their faces. Juan plugged his binoculars into a language computer. He could not read lips, but he did not need to and while Diane had the mike, a little redundancy never hurt.
Soon into the conversation they realised that they had not found what they were looking for.
"He's giving the orders," Diane said.
"Going to keep up your watch on her?"
"No," Diane said. "I'll send a call to the cleaners, have them shut down the operation on her."
"Going to put all your attention on Bamoral?"
"Not yet, soon, but not yet. I want to be sure that none of the others are high up before I focus all my attention of him."
They waited until after both Bamoral and the woman had left, then Diane and Juan began to pack up.
Andre Roarke leaned heavily on his cane while the elevator took him up to the restaurant. He had been feeling tired over the past few weeks, old and tired. He shook his head and straightened, taking his weight off the cane. This was not a time to feel sorry for himself. When the soft chime announced the arrival at the restaurant Andre was standing straight, holding his cane, not leaning on it.
He stepped out of the elevator, looked around, then walked towards the bar. Seated there, with his back to him, was the Grand Marshal of the ODF. Andre took a seat beside him. Karl looked over at him and nodded.
"Been a while," Karl said.
"We've both been busy," Andre said.
"Heard about Tern," he said slowly, as if he was feeling the other man out. "You have my condolences."
Andre nodded, but he said nothing.
The sat there for several minutes saying nothing. The bartender came up to them, Karl ordered another whisky, Andre got a beer. A waiter came up to them and told them that their table was ready. He then showed them to a private booth in the back of the restaurant.
"This war," Karl started. "It's not like I expected."
Andre nodded. "There's something missing."
"I feel like I'm a leg breaker for a bunch of loan sharks."
Andre smiled at that, though he knew it was not that funny. It hit too close to the truth in many ways. "I've been thinking..." he began, then stopped when the waiter reappeared with their menus.
For a time they said nothing of importance. It was not until their main courses had been served and they had told the waiter that they would not need him for a time that they began talking again.
Andre pushed the food on his plate around for a few minutes, not really eating much. He looked up at Karl. "I've been thinking that right now, we're in a fairly good position to negotiate with the USSA."
"Perhaps," Karl said. "We've shown then that we can and will fight them. They may be willing to negotiate, but I doubt the board is."
"As things stood before this all started, we, all the planets, Solingen, were all doing fairly well. Now if we just have those restriction eased up a little, demand the right to our own military force, everyone could do quite well."
"The Board wants it all."
"The Board does not know what it wants. They would not know where to begin if the entire cluster was opened up to them. Crystal chime trees fill warehouses and nothing is being done with them. There are rooms where gold and diamonds are just sitting around. They want all that just so they can say they have it, just because the USSA has denied it to them in the past. The simple fact is that they don't need to be completely independent of the USSA to make money."
Karl nodded. "The people think they want independence, but it is just a buzz word. The Board is selling a dream and not telling anyone the true price. I know all this. You know all this. So what?"
"I'd like to negotiate a peace settlement between the Colonies and the USSA."
Karl snorted. "You think you can do that?"
"Because I have to," Andre told him. "Because I don't want to loose anymore children, because Solingen is greedy. The people want peace. The Battalion has convinced them that this war serves no one's purpose but the Midnight Sun. Still, they don't want to be dictated to by the USSA. We get a peace deal that ends the war and gives the people more freedom, they'll jump at it."
Karl thought about it for a time. "How do you propose to hammer this agreement out?"
"We'll use the Battalion as a Middleman. There have to be people on the other side who would be interested in this deal. The Battalion claims that it wants this war to end. It's time they stopped sabotaging production lines on Iron Sun and stealing military supply shipments and started doing something a little more constructive."
"Got any ideas who to talk to."
"No, not really," Andre admitted sheepishly.
"You could try Miki Vels. She probably knows someone."
"A good idea."
"So you are going through with this?"
"Yes. Want to help?"
"Yea, I think I do. I'm getting tired of simply doing what Solingen tells me to."
"So Miss Dover," Campbell said. "How can I help you?"
"I think perhaps I should be asking that question."
"Why do you think that?"
"I was sent to talk to you. What is with these games."
Campbell smiled. "Force of habit. Still, what is it you want? Why come to me?"
"I don't like the way the Government is being run, I don't like what the people in power are doing."
"Fair enough. I've been told that you have put limits on the help you are offering though. What can you do?"
"What do you need?"
Campbell opened a desk drawer and removed several EO pads and a map board. "Several months ago three crime syndicates operating in Rome stockpiled a large amount of equipment, weapons, medical supplies, that sort of stuff. The Battalion hit the warehouse and took everything.
"Now the same crime syndicates, and two more, have done it again, thinking that no one will try it again. A mistake on their part." He activated the map pad and pushed it towards Joanna. "Got any ideas?"
Joanna picked up the map pad and looked it over. "You need a battle plan."
"We don't need one so much as we would appreciate another one."
"Tell me Mr. Hahn, aren't you worried that someone will find out what you are doing?"
"Fraulein Dominica already knows what I am doing. She can't prove it though."
"And she has not acted on that?"
"Oh, she has been behind four assassination attempts. Fortunately my bodyguards are more skilled than her assassins. You are not the only person who dislikes the current government's way of operating."
"What if she finds proof?"
"Are you offering to give it to her?"
"No, but if I did?"
"You probably would not live very long. That's not a threat, just a statement of fact."
"I'm a survivor Miss Dover."
"I think I can work out a plan. I'll need more information."
"It's all here," he indicated the EO pads.
Joanna nodded as she reached for one of the pads.
"Bye Emiko," a girl named Susan called out as she skated by Emiko.
"Bye," Emiko called to the girl's back. She watched as Susan sped away on her roller blades. She was finding the school system in Sydney to be very different from what she was used to in Tokyo.
The Sydney Academy was a very prestigious High School, many of its students were the sons and daughters of highly placed people in the USSA and in industry. Her mother had arranged for her to go there soon after they had been reunited. As far as Takako was concerned her daughter was going onto university, as she had always planned.
Emiko pulled her knapsack from the ground at her feet and placed it on the bench beside her. She opened it up and removed her datadisplay. She hooked into the schools database and called up one of her texts, reading it over. She sifted her eyes up to the corner every few minutes to check the time.
When it was nearly five she shut off the datadisplay and put it back in her knapsack. Getting to her feet, she shrugged the knapsack onto her shoulder, then reached down to push the black armband up the sleeve of her red blazer.
Coming down the road was a dark grey limousine. She could not see them yet but she knew their were government markings on the doors. She noticed one of the women who always followed her--a bodyguard or just a guard depending on how one looked at it-had moved out of cover.
The big car pulled up beside her, its electric engines humming softly. The door to the passenger section opened, Takako looked up at Emiko.
"Konichiwa," Emiko said as she climbed into the vehicle.
Her mother looked at her, her eyes shifting down to the armband she wore, then back up to Emiko's face. Emiko dropped her eyes slightly, a quiet apology.
"Hello Dominica-san," Emiko said politely.
"Emiko-chan," Auden said, nodding at her.
"I'd like to thank you for helping me get into the school."
"It is not a problem," she said, smiling. "Have you given any more thought to the offer I made?"
"I'm sorry. I can't help you," Emiko said.
Takako stared angrily at Emiko. Auden only smiled. "I hope you will change your mind."
"My daughter is very rude," Takako said, looking at Auden. "I am sorry."
"It is not a problem Sempai. I respect Emiko-chan's loyalty. It reminds me of you."
Both Emiko and Takako suddenly looked uncomfortable, both looking off at nothing. Auden noticed it and wondered what was behind it.
"How are you enjoying the school?" Auden asked.
"It's nice," Emiko said.
"Are you making any friends?"
Emiko was quiet for a moment. "In a way."
Auden looked at Emiko expectantly as if she expected her to continue.
"Everyone there is friendly and nice, but, well," she paused. "We're a little different. Everything I have done," she paused again. "We seem to have a barrier between us."
"You've just had to grow up faster," Auden said. "It will all even out in time."
"I'm sure that Emiko is just being difficult," Takako said.
Emiko smiled. She could tell her mother did not really mean that. It was just her mother's nature. She did not brag about her family, she was often overly harsh in her criticism, but Emiko was not bothered. She was certain that her mother was actually concerned about her.
"Well, I'm sure that you will be all right in," Auden said to Emiko. "Have you checked out the financial situation Sempai?" Auden looked over at Takako.
Takako looked at Emiko for a moment, then over at Takako. "There are no problems there. The cost of repairing the damage to Saturn's ring was unexpected though. Some elements in the government are suggesting that we leave it to after the war."
"That could be bad," Auden looked thoughtful. "The sooner the damage is dealt with, the better. I'm willing the put off full repairs, if a stopgap measure can be found that will suppress further damage until complete repairs can be made."
"I've thought about it and have some specialists looking into it. Greenspoon might be a problem."
"He's been working to discredit the Battalion, but he is not doing a very god job of it. I think he might botch it."
"I'll talk to him," Auden said. "Still, he is managing to paint the Colonies and Solingen in bad colours. It helps."
Takako nodded. "I've sent him a memo that he might want to go after the Midnight Sun."
"I'm not sure that he should take his attention away from his prime task."
"The Midnight Sun in always a problem. This war could have the effect of increasing the Midnight Sun's enlistment."
"We already have a program in effect to deal with the Midnight Sun, I see no reason to create a redundant position."
Takako did not look completely convinced, but after a moment she nodded.
"We'll continue this later," Auden said. "We are almost there."
The limousine began to slow, then pulled into the restaurant's driveway. As soon as it came to a stop a woman opened the passenger side door of the driver's compartment and got out. She was part of Auden's security team. She looked around as she moved to the rear door, making sure everything was clear.
She opened the door and Auden got out, followed by Takako and then Emiko.
"Call us when you want the car brought around," the woman said.
"Thank you," Auden nodded at her, then walked into the restaurant, Takako and Emiko following.
Emiko was looking around, a little in awe of the place. The Bountiful Harvest was a very well known restaurant. It had been featured in countless media entertainment, as well as news features having been host to a number of charity events in its lifetime. She saw a few celebrities sitting at the tables.
"Miss Dominica," the host said as they entered. "It is so good to see you again."
"Thank you Dave," she said. "Is the table ready."
"Of course," he signalled a waiter. "Thomas will show you to the room."
"Miss Dominica, would you please follow me?" Thomas asked her.
Auden nodded then followed the man as he set off.
"Be on you best behaviour," Takako said softly to Emiko.
"I thought I was."
"Don't slouch so, and stop looking around with your mouth open."
"Sorry," Emiko said, sure she had not been doing either.
They were shown into a private room on the west side of the building. The waiter helped each of them into their chairs, filled their glasses with water, took their drink orders and gave them the menus before leaving.
Takako and Auden made small talk about things of little importance. They included Emiko in the conversation, asking her questions about her classes and the teachers. Auden was especially interested in some of the things Emiko had to say as she had gone to the same school for her senior year of high school. She asked questions about several teachers who had been there when she was.
They were still looking over the menus when the forth person who would be dining with them showed up.
"Mr. Closen," Auden said, nodding to the man who was shown in by the waiter.
"Miss Dominica, Mrs. Miya," he nodded to them both before placing his briefcase down.
"You haven't met my daughter," Takako said. "Emiko, this is Yves Closen."
"Closen-san," Emiko said, bowing slightly in her chair.
"Miss Miya," he said, a curious look on his face.
"Please Mr. Closen, sit. We'll eat dinner before we talk.
The waiter held out Yves chair and he took his seat. Shortly afterwards they ordered. Throughout the meal they talked of little of real importance. Emiko was a little bored, but kept up with the conversation, contributing to it when it was appropriate.
It was after the waiter had brought them deserts the Auden brought up business.
"Well Mr. Closen, I believe we have some things to discuss. You can talk freely here, the room is secure.
"I see, thank you," he said, looking at Emiko for a moment. "Well, as you know we are planning on taking the suit to the SAC, officially, tomorrow. Initial testing has come back on the Wyvern and everything looks good. Now, we'll be able to speed production and distribution up significantly if you give your okay to this project."
"Yes," Auden said, putting her desert fork down on her plate. "You do have all the information about the suit with you, don't you?"
"Of course," he pushed his chair back and stood. He walked over to the coat rack where he had set his briefcase and picked it up. "It's all here," he said as he returned to the table.
"Good. Would you give it to Miss Miya."
"Pardon," he said, looking over at Emiko. "This is restricted information Miss Dominica, I'm sure you..."
"I'm aware. Don't worry, Miss Miya has clearance to see them, for tonight at least."
He looked at Auden, then over at Emiko, then back at Auden. Finally he opened his briefcase and removed a display pad and a small holo stage. He placed the stage on the pad then handed it over to Emiko.
"I would like your opinion on the suit Emiko-chan," Auden said, smiling. "You are an expert after all."
Emiko looked at Auden for a moment, then over at her mother. She waited a few seconds then nodded. "I'll try to be as helpful as possible," Emiko said as she turned the stage on. When the representation appeared she jerked back slightly, a little surprised.
She was used to seeing anthropomorphic suit designs. There was something almost reassuring about the huge, man shaped suits. Like they were some sort of armoured giant out of myth. The Wyvern was not anything like that.
There were no legs, just a huge tripod like arrangement fused into the waist. Its arms ended in huge, insect like talons. The huge cannons on each shoulder gave it an appearance of horns. All in all is was a rather scary looking apparition. And she was only looking at a representation forty centimetres high.
She stared at the suit for several seconds, then reached forward and picked up the display pad and called up the stats. Ree had made sure that Emiko could read and understand just what all the information meant, though she also told Emiko not to trust stats that the manufacturer provided.
She looked up at the image, then back down at the stats several times, getting a feeling for the suit. As she understood more and more of it she began to feel a sinking feeling in her stomach. She knew that Ree could find thirty ways to deal with the Wyvern, but she was not Ree. No one was. All she could think of was how many people would die if they faced this suit, ODF and Battalion both.
Finally she reached out and shit of the holo stage and then the display pad. "It is a good design," she said.
"Better than the Battalion designs?" Yves asked.
"I can't say," Emiko told him.
"So you think it is an effective design?" Auden asked.
"Yes. It is very fast and well armed. It will perform well as an anti-ship system and will also be able to go up against most suits and come out very well."
"Well," Yves said, looking a little surprised. "We'll be giving the presentation to the SAC tomorrow."
"Good luck, but we will not be giving our okay to this project," Auden said.
"What?" Yves asked.
"What?" Emiko asked at the same time.
Auden smiled at Emiko for a moment, then turned to look at Yves. "These are a very expensive suit Mr. Closen."
"Of course, we know that, but they will only be produced in limited numbers. We will be able to afford it."
"I am aware of that Mr. Closen, but the truth is that the suit is not at all in line with Gaian principles. We cannot in good conscience agree to this."
"Excuse me Miss Dominica, but we are at war."
"I am aware of that Mr. Closen."
"You don't seem to understand," Takako told him. "This suit is very environmentally unfriendly. Much of the technology may dead end in a year, and in all likelihood the suit will be obsolete in two years. This is not a suit that will be easily upgraded."
"We are at war," Yves said, stressing each word.
"All the more reason to say no then," Auden told him.
"If we simply toss aside our beliefs when things get hard, they are of little value," Takako said.
"We may need this suit, but if we build it, we will have lost the most important battle that we fight. This suit will not be given our approval." Auden said.
"You have already completed five of these suits have you not?" Takako interrupted him.
"And are currently working on several more?"
"Ten to be exact."
"I suggest that you use those ten as spare parts. The ODF will pay for the five suits you have currently built and they will be absorbed into the fleet."
Yves looked like he was about to say something, but he took a deep breath, let it out, then pushed his chair back. "Thank you for dinner," he said as he stood up. "I will let the Bhan/Zai officials know of your decision. We will still be taking our proposal to the SAC tomorrow."
"Good luck," Auden said.
He nodded, then turned and walked from the room, opening the door, closing it behind him with excessive care. Then he was gone.
Emiko had watched it all with some confusion. She was not sure what that had been about. She was certain that she had been invited to see it, but she was not sure if it was real. Perhaps the Wyvern would really be built, all that just a play to convince her of something.
She looked at her mother then at Auden. Both of them were finishing off their deserts, as if everything that had just happened was forgotten. Did they really believe in their cause that much? She did not know.
Andre took a seat in front of the desk, looking over at Miki Vels.
"I'm sorry Director Roarke, I cannot give you as much time as I should, but I am very busy."
"Of course," Andre nodded.
"So, what is it I an do for you?"
"I'd like to get in touch with the Starblade Battalion."
"I need to speak with the Battalion. It is important."
"I'm sorry Mr. Roarke. You have obviously been misinformed. I have no contact with the Battalion."
"And yet you made an announcement about them."
"They saved this colony, but I did not ask them to. I made that announcement as a thank you. I can understand why that upset some people. I have talked to the proper authorities about this."
"Miss Vels, I am not here to place blame. I am not an agent for Solingen, and I am not going to set you up. I don't care if your are a member or not, but I assume that you at least know some people and how to reach them. I want to talk peace."
"Peace. It is time that we worked out a treaty between the powers. There has been too much loss of life as it is."
Miki stared at him for a time. "I might be able to arrange something, at least set up a meeting between you and someone who might help you."
"Thank you," Andre got to his feet. "I'll leave you now Miss Vels."
Miki nodded and watched as he left her office. She remained as she was for a few minutes then reached for her phone.
"What's up?" Juan asked as he came into the room.
"We think we've got something," Conaly told him. "Bamoral got a set of orders from someone."
"We're still trying to get an ID on him," Diane said.
Juan moved up to where several people were sitting. They were looking at a screen, watching a playback of a recording.
"That's him," one of the others said for Juan's benefit.
Juan looked at the picture of the man, it was from a high up angle so she could not tell much about him. "Is there a better picture?"
"In a few seconds," Diane told him.
The angle began to descend, probably taken from an EyeSpy. Juan spotted Bamoral sitting at a table, and the newcomer approached him.
"This Mr. X gives Bamoral a set of instructions," Conaly said.
"Can you give me a zoom on his face," Juan said quickly, a little too loud.
Diane halted the tape, then zoomed in on the man's face, letting the computer enhance it.
"I know him," Juan said.
"I did not think you the type to hang around with terrorists," Diane said.
"He's not a terrorist, well, at least not a fanatic."
"Midnight Sun and Fanatic are synonymous," a woman Juan did not know said.
"Not him. That's Ichiru Davis, pure money man. No morals, but he's not going to put his life on the line."
"Maybe he has changed," Conaly said.
"Maybe, but I doubt it."
"So what is he doing with the Midnight Sun?"
"The Sun has, I would think, a lot of money. A man like Ichiru, talented but not too bright, might think that he could skim a good sized fortune off the top."
"So if we were to grab this guy, would he take his life?"
"Not a chance. Big coward at heart."
"Do you think he is highly placed?" Diane asked him.
"We figure Bamoral is pretty high, if he is taking orders from Ichiru, well, that says something. He liked to get up high, had a way in ingratiating himself with people so you'd trust him."
"You know him well?"
"He took me for most of my money once. He is good at gaining people's trust. If anyone could set themselves up with the Midnight Sun, he could."
"This could be just what we are looking for," Conaly said.
"And if Juan is wrong and the Davis offs himself when we grab him?"
"Might be worth the chance," Diane said. "We've been at this for almost a month now. If we keep this up, eventually the Sun will figure out someone is watching them. It has happened before."
"I'm certain this is the thing to do," Juan said. "But I can understand why you aren't. Still, this is the sort of thing we can't pass up. I say we do it."
"It's a gamble, but that's what Juan is good at," Diane said. "I'm for it."
"Okay. He who hesitates is lost," said Marshal Puan Li.
"And look before you leap," Marshal Hank Tibias said. "Too big of a chance."
"I'm for it," Conaly said.
"Chancy, but we are going to have to take one eventually. Let's do it," Marshal Jerry Cotton said.
"Looks like we are going for it," Juan said. "Now, how do we set this up?"
"Will Davis talk to you?" Diane asked Juan.
"Maybe. He took me for a lot of money, but I've forgiven stuff like that before."
"If you can arrange a meeting with him, we'll work on it from there. We are going to make up a snatch and grab plan, just in case he panics when you get in touch with him."
"Let's get to work," Conaly told them. "This is a big one, no mistakes."
Ending Credits - as before.
Michael Gilson sent me this suit design. It will not show up in this story, it does make a good 'Post Story' suit.
Here are preliminary stats for the transforming GA awaiting commentary. I'm assuming this is a post or late war design. I'm also assuming that Jeffrey Lyons is the principal designer, and that he named it "Ram" after the WW II Canadian tank in a (successful) attempt to interest Tess and get more input from her.
Tons: A 58.7, B 56.8, S 59.4, K 54.8
Cost in CP: A 698.9, B 779.2, S 696.8, K 650.2 (1)
MV: MR: Land MA: Flight MA
Humanoid, -3, - , 8, 8
Tank, -4, - , 16, 0
Supercharged cool powerplant x0.3
Virtual Controls x0.05
Heavy Hydraulics x0.1
Arctic protection x0.05
Desert protection x0.05
Space protection x0.05
Targeting computer x0.05 (2)
Conditional Movement-No GES in Humanoid form x-0.1
Conditional Movement-No wheels in Tank form x-0.1 (3)
Servos and Armor:
Location, Class, Space, Kills, Armor, DC
Head, Medium weight, 6, 6, 8(10), 4
Torso, Light Heavy, 14, 14, 8(10), 4
R. Arm, Medium weight, 7, 7, 8(10), 4
L. Arm, Medium weight, 7, 7, 8(10), 4
R. Leg, Medium weight, 7, 7, 8(10), 4
L. Leg, Medium weight, 7, 7, 8(10), 4
Pod, Medium Heavy, 16, 0, 8(10), 4
Type, MA, Location, Kills
Wheels, +2, Legs, 6 (3 per Leg)
Thrusters, 8, Legs and Arms, NA (weapons mated) (4)
GES, 8, Legs and Arms, NA (weapons mated) (4)
Pilots cockpit in head, armored (5)
Gunners cockpit in pod, armored (6)
Name, Location, Kills, Space, Cost
Stereo, Head and Pod, NA, NA, .1
Liftwire, Head, NA, NA, .3
Antitheft, Head and Pod, NA, NA, .2
2 spotlights, Head, NA,NA, .4
Storage Module, Pod, NA, 1, 1
Damage Control, Pod, NA, 1, 1
Micromanipulators, Head, NA, 1, 1
QCM, R. Arm/L. Arm/ TMT/TMT/Pod, NA, NA, 5
-3 awareness wheels, R. Leg/L. Leg, NA, NA, 3
+1 cool, all, NA, NA, 1
Maneuver Pod, Head, 1, 1, 4.5
Maneuver Pod, Pod, 1, 1, 4.5
(Ram Kangaroo Only)
12 passenger cockpits, Pod, NA, NA, 12 (7)
Light Heavy in head, range 20, comm 1800, 2 kills, 12CP, 1space
(No back up since loss of head will also result in loss or ejection of pilot, see (5))
ASP in head, 1 space, 10.5 CP
Name, WA, Range, Damage, Shots, Kills, Location, Space, Cost, Notes.
Weapons common to A, B, S, K
R. Hand, 0, melee, 1K+2K, NA, 1, R. Arm, 1, 2, quick and handy
L. Hand, 0, melee, 1K+2K, NA, 1, L. Arm, 1, 2, quick and handy
Laser Pod, +3, 6, 2K, inf., 1, Torso, 1, 10.8, antimissile/antipersonnel-fragile
Laser Pod, +3, 6, 2K, inf., 1, Torso, 1, 10.8, antimissile/antipersonnel-fragile
Laser Pod, +3, 6, 2K, inf., 1, Torso, 1, 10.8, antimissile/antipersonnel-fragile
Weapon Mount, NA, NA, NA, NA, 1, Torso, 1, 2.5
Weapon Mount, NA, NA, NA, NA, 1, Torso, 1, 2.5
Plasma Rifle Type 1, +1, 11, 5K, inf., 5, Torso, 7, 15.4, BV 2
Battle Axe, 0, melee, 6K+2K, NA, 1 Hand, 7, 7.3, AP-Thrown range 4
Kinetic Kill Counter Missile, +3, NA, "1", 20, 2, Pod (Binder for K), 2, 5, dedicated counter missile.
Heavy Missiles, +1, 10, 8K, 4, 3, Pod (Binder for K), 3, 4.8
Swarm Missiles, +1, 8, 1K, 40, 3, Pod (Binder for K), 6, 8.7
Heavy Gauss Cannon, +1, 14, 10K, - , 10, Torso mount, 12, 22.2
Ammunition, - , - , - , 10, 1.9, Cannon, 1.9, 7.6, AP
Heavy Gauss Cannon, +1, 14, 10K, - , 10, Torso mount, 12, 22.2, crosslinked +2CP
Ammunition, - , - , - , 10, 1.9, Cannon, 1.9, 7.6, AP
Mark 1 Very Heavy Plasma Cannon, +1, 18, 20K, inf., 20, Torso mounts, 28, 107.5,
Warm up 1- Wide angle 60
Gauss Howitzer, 0, 1600, 20K, - , 20, Torso mounts, 22.6, 28.6, x10 scale long range
Ammunition, - , - , - , 20, 5.3, Howitzer, 5.3, 31.8, x10 scale Blast 1 (at 1:1 scale Blast 5)
Binder, Medium Heavy, Standard, DA-4, SP 8, DC 4, Torso mount, 10.9 CP, holds swarm missiles
Binder, Medium Heavy, Standard, DA-4, SP 8, DC 4, Torso mount, 10.9 CP, holds heavy missile rack and KKCM
(1) These are all expensive suits, costing more than Myrmidon, though less than Plasma Cannon Myrmidon and 2nd Gen ODF suits. Price could be reduced by using Overcharged plants, reducing MV and Land MA by 1, or using Standard plants and reducing by 2. You would still equal Nachtmarens MV and surpass its Land MA.
(2) I can't find targeting computer rules in Z, Z+, or SBB, so I just used the one from Nachtmaren. I have one space to fit it in, so if it takes more the cost of space efficiency will have to be added to final cost.
(3) Nothing in the rules says you can take CM twice, but nothing says you can't, so I did.
(4) According to the rules, thrusters can operate as GES at no extra cost. Therefore in humanoid form these act as 8MA flight thrusters, but in tank form they add to act as 16MA GES.
(5) A head cockpit saves a little space and money. I'm gambling that the fewer kills will be balanced by the ejection bonus for a comparable survivability. If not, 1 laser pod and the targeting computer can be moved to the head, pilots cockpit and m-pod moved to the torso, back up sensors purchased, and torso hydraulics efficiencied to zero.
(6) If standard rules are being used take the extra action. But if 'Let's Active' is in use I'm not sure if the extra action is worth the MR penalty
(7) Room for 6 PAFS troopers or 12 infantry or 12 stretcher cases or cram in 24 evacuees with just their clothes.
Our new GA is done. While admittedly it is expensive with all variants costing more than the basic Myrmidon, cost inflation is actually less than typical for late war suits. And the payoff in performance is certainly worth it- The Ram is tough and insanely fast for ground combat yet still more than adequate in space combat. Much thanks goes to Designer Emiritus Belin whose input kept us from forgetting the hard learned lessons of designing the Arrow.
The Ram design started out as a Myrmidon Chassis with the wing array replaced with a single pod. The result was a suit with the strength and protection of an HA but the weight of a Soldier! Then the Myrmidons basic weapon suite was installed internally in the torso and pod. A choice of heavy weapons was mounted externally. To simplify the design and logistics the two direct fire variants mount Myrmidon guns. The Ram A mounts two linked Heavy Gauss Cannon, in effect doubling the firepower. The Ram B mounts the Mark 1 Very Heavy Plasma Cannon so it has the same firepower as the Myrmidon Plasma, but oddly enough the Ram B costs less. For the artillery Ram, which we named Ram Sexton, we adapted a light Naval Gauss Gun. While a bit of a handicap for small point targets it shines in delivering area effect. Finally for our infantry fighting vehicle, the Ram Kangaroo, we pulled the missiles from the pod to make passenger room and moved them to two shields we placed in the torso weapons mounts. Since weapon mount articulation is insufficient to parry with the shields only the shield contents receive protection. Theoretically the shields could be dismounted and used in humanoid form, but we shaped them to look like heavy gauss cannon in order to fool enemy observers, and so they would provide little coverage.
The Ram has a slow transformation to save expense. In space once away from a spacecraft deck only one form, humanoid, would be viable. And on the ground we assumed the crew could always find some cover when it was necessary to change. During the transformation the forearms fold back onto the upper arms, then the whole arm twists so the forearm is outboard. The shoulders slide back onto the pod and the pod tilts back till is parallel with the waist pivot of the torso. The upper torso tilts back to reduce height and improve the slope of the armor, becoming a turret, and the head becomes a cupola. The lower legs fold back on the upperleg then twists so it is outboard, then the knees come together. After the joints come together and panels fold up to fill gaps the result appears to be a turret on a wedge.
The movement system when transformed is the result of a suggestion by Designer Belin. A tiny amount of thrust is bled off to power lift fans. With the fans now supporting the Ram, thrust that formerly had to be used for lift can now all be used for propulsion.
"We're here in the Engineering Section of the Starship Enterprise
where we have replaced the fine dilithium crystals they usually
use with Folgers crystals. Let's see what happens."
Shawn Hagen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
On to Chapter 34