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1

Thursday, October 7th 2004, 10:13pm

Chapter 2 Space was beautiful. Micah believed that anyone who thought otherwise needed to have his head examined. Plotting a course toward the California system, Micah sat back in the cockpit of his Defender and let the computer do the flying. As per the standard agreement the Liberty Navy made with its fighter pilots, the Navy officially signed his fighter over to him when he chose not to renew his commission at the end of his six year assignment. Removing his helmet and rubbing his eyes Micah realized he’d have to find work soon; military service had yet to make anyone rich. Forcing those thoughts away Micah flew toward the edge of Liberty as fast as his ship would take him there. Looking back at his short-lived career in the Navy he knew why. After leaving Planet Houston as soon as possible at 18, he applied to the Naval Academy only to find that he was the only Texan in his class. It wasn’t until the end of his time at the Academy that he realized the criminals he was being trained to fight were primarily composed of people from his own planet. Micah had long stopped trying to count the number of Texans he’d arrested. Or killed. To his peers, the Rouges meant nothing but Micah saw were the faces of the people tired of scratching out a meager existence on the planet that had also been his home; people that, under different circumstances, could have been him. Arriving in California, Micah aimed his ship at the trade lane to Mojave and on to Planet Los Angeles. But Micah had no intention of stopping in the California system. Just beyond the borders of Liberty Space, Micah had heard, in the Magellan System, was Freeport 4. The station had two main advantages: Finding a job would be as easy as rolling off a log and none of them would involve Liberty….

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2

Friday, October 8th 2004, 12:06am

Here´s the third chapter! Chapter 3 (a little longer) 2 months later… “Copy that, Freelancer 5 dash 12. You are cleared to dock,” the droid droned. The large, steel doors slid open allowing the large, mottled Clydesdale freighter to enter the docking bay. A slight shudder made its way through the ship as the lifts took over for the main drive and the ship lowered itself to the deck. Once down, the automatic lights above the ship hummed to life over the freighter’s assigned berth throwing a harsh glare over the hull and revealing the words Star Chaser over the port defense turret. It had been a while since Micah had been back to Freeport 4. Spending the last two months as a fairly anonymous trader in Bretonia, Micah found himself spending most of his down time on Freeport 4. It was outside the direct influence of House space but still had enough traffic to keep it interesting. Micah powered down his ship and walked across the docking bay toward the populated areas of the station. As he reached the door Micah couldn’t help but look back at his ship and smile to himself. There had been a time when he would have laughed out loud if someone had told him he’d be a freighter captain one day. But now that he’d actually gotten used to the change, he’d started to become rather fond of his graceful, if somewhat obese ship. “How’s it going Captain?” the bartender said with a grin when Micah walked into the bar. “Not bad Luther,” Micah said. “Still limping along in that Bretonian bucket of bolts?” Luther gibed. “She flies pretty well,” Micah replied, smiling. “But you’ll never find out if you never get out from behind that bar.” “I like it back here,” said Luther. “No one shoots at me. I had enough action on that Bretonian gunboat as a gunner to last me the rest of my life. I like the IMG. You know when the last time anyone attacked a Freeport was?” “I hear you,” Micah said, raising his hands as if to surrender. “But I still say that six Starbeam turrets are an excellent argument against a Molly.” “You can just keep arguing, friend,” said Luther, polishing the bar. “So what are you up to now?” “Just a little R&R,” Micah said, “I’ll go back to hauling boron in a day or two.” The friendly banter was interrupted by a man, dressed in a suit, sidling up to the bar. “Excuse me, gentlemen, but I couldn’t help overhearing that you are a freighter captain?” the man in the suit said with a slight accent Micah couldn’t quite place. “That’s right,” Micah said. “What can I do for you, Mr…” “Perhaps we would be more comfortable at my table over there,” the man said, pointing to one of the tables near the large viewports on the far end of the bar. “Alright…” Micah said, beginning to wonder what he was getting himself into. Micah followed the man in the suit across the bar, sitting across from him at a table under a viewport looking out over the Freeport 4 – Manchester Jump Gate Tradelane. “Alright Captain, I would like to hire…” the man in the suit began. “Look I hate not being polite, but you never told me your name,” Micah said. He was beginning to feel that knot in his gut; the one that told him something wasn’t right, like the time he’d accidentally wandered into a Molly ambush while trying to find a shortcut from New London to Leeds. “No, I didn’t,” the man said evenly. “You can call me Mr. Kruger.” “Alright, Mr. Kruger, what can I do for you?” “I was wondering, Captain, if you hauled people as well as freight,” Kruger said calmly. “If you’re looking for a slaver, you’ve got the wrong freelancer, Mr. Kruger,” Micah said, starting to get up. “Wait a moment, Captain!” Kruger said. “I was referring to passengers. I would like to hire you to take me to Sigma 13.” “I don’t have much in the way of accommodations on my ship, Mr. Kruger…,” Micah said, lowering himself back into his seat. “I am willing,” Kruger said, taking out a stylus and scribbling on a napkin, “to pay you this amount if we leave tomorrow.” Micah eyes widened when he saw the number Kruger had written on the napkin, but he’d been around the sun once or twice before and his suspicions were not allayed by the sizable figure on the napkin for the simple task of transporting one man halfway across the sector. “Where in Sigma 13 would you like me to take you?” Micah asked, his eyes narrowing, searching Kruger’s face as if the truth were there and only waiting to be found. “I will tell you that,” Kruger, smiled, “when we get there.” “Then I don’t think…,” Micah began. “There you are, you slimy piece of Rheinlander filth,” a rough voice sneered. Micah turned to see a tall, Asian man dressed in a flight suit Micah had never seen before and a haircut that was equally foreign. There was malice in his voice and in his eyes, but all these observations were secondary to the immediate concern created by the blaster he was pointing at the table. “Though you could hide from us in this pit?” the man asked, gesturing with the blaster as if to indicate the whole station. “And now I’ve caught you trying to escape,” the man continued waving the gun at Micah. “What are you going to do now? Buy your way out of this mess too?” the man laughed. “You can’t possibly match the reward I’m about to collect,” he sneered, aiming the gun at Kruger’s head and squeezing the trigger. There was an explosion. Micah flinched, involuntarily – he’d never actually had to fire his blaster before – all his combat experience had been in a fighter. He looked at Kruger expecting to see his brains splattered all over the viewport only to find Kruger staring at the wall across the room – through a newly created hole in their assailant’s torso. The thug crumpled to the floor and Micah saw Luther standing behind him with a smoking plasma rifle in his hands. “Luther?” Micah asked “Come on,” Luther said, “We’d better get going.” “We?” asked Micah, a grin starting to form on his face. “Well, that’s probably gonna cost me my job and it looks like you could use the help,” Luther replied. “I don’t need any help because I’m not taking this job,” Micah retorted. “I think you should reconsider that statement, Captain,” Kruger said, kneeling over the body of their attacker. "Why would I want to work for you after what just happened?" Micah asked incredulously. “That’s why,” Kruger said, tossing a small, black object up to Micah, “What is this?” Micah asked. “It’s an Identi-reader,” Luther said, “Bounty Hunters use them to identify their targets.” “You’re ID is in here, Micah and so is yours,” Luther said, pointing at Kruger. “But I’m not sure what this blinking light on the side means…,” Luther muttered, almost to himself. “It’s transmitting,” Kruger replied grimly. “What’s going on here, Kruger?” Micah demanded. “It means our friend here didn’t come alone,” Kruger replied. “Your friend Mr. Luther is correct; we really should be going. I’ll explain on the way to Sigma 13.” Edited by - mdutr0 on 10/7/2004 11:10:58 PM Edited by - mdutr0 on 10/7/2004 11:12:38 PM Edited by - mdutr0 on 10/7/2004 11:14:45 PM Edited by - mdutr0 on 10/7/2004 11:15:58 PM

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3

Friday, October 8th 2004, 2:51am

I think it´s a great start. Keep going <img src=smilies/icon_smile.gif width=15 height=15 border=0 align=middle>
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4

Friday, October 8th 2004, 10:15am

I agree. Very well written. <img src=smilies/icon_smile_big.gif width=15 height=15 border=0 align=middle> Keep it up!
Signature from »ww2jacob« ________________________________ A turbulent time where the fate of humankind rests in the balance. The fulcrum, the breaking point of humanity. Heros rise and fall, faster than any can track. Saviors and demons both. Who will you be? How will your story be told? Control Your Own Faction 5: The Redemption Join the revolution here!

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5

Friday, October 8th 2004, 12:54pm

Very good so far<img src=smilies/icon_smile.gif width=15 height=15 border=0 align=middle>
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6

Friday, October 8th 2004, 10:41pm

Thanks ladies and gents. I´m currently working on the next section; hopefully it will be up soon! Thanks, Micah

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7

Wednesday, October 27th 2004, 6:07pm

Sorry about the lack of updates recently folks. Law school has a tendency to keep one kinda busy.... There will be one soon though! Thanks, Micah

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8

Wednesday, October 27th 2004, 7:03pm

Here´s two chapters as compensation for the delay! Part 2 Chapter 1 &#8220;Starting pre-flight checks,&#8221; Micah called out, bringing the Star Chaser to life, her engines roaring to life, &#8220;Going straight to main drives.&#8221; The trip from the bar to the docking bay had been remarkably uneventful, though Micah had been expecting an ambush at every turn. But, though the trio had gone with guns drawn, they did not meet a soul. &#8220;Off we go,&#8221; said Micah, easing the Star Chaser out of the docking bay, &#8220;Laying in a course for Sigma 13.&#8221; The Star Chaser began accelerating toward the trade lane to Liberty space, the auto-pilot taking over control of the ship. Micah breathed a sigh of relief. &#8220;Lucky, we didn&#8217;t meet anyone else on our way out,&#8221; Micah said, looking back at Luther. &#8220;I think I know why,&#8221; Luther said, looking past Micah at the scanner next to the pilot&#8217;s seat. &#8220;Look at that.&#8221; Immediately behind the freighter, and gaining fast, three Hawk fighters flew in a silent, but deadly pursuit. &#8220;Is that who I think it is?&#8221; Micah asked, reaching for the thruster control. &#8220;It is,&#8221; Kruger said calmly. &#8220;And we&#8217;re not going to make to the trade lane before they catch up with us.&#8221; &#8220;Your ship is armed, I suppose?&#8221; &#8220;Yes, it&#8217;s armed,&#8221; Micah said, becoming annoyed at the man in the suit. &#8220;But in case you haven&#8217;t noticed, we&#8217;re in a Clydesdale and they&#8217;re in Hawks!&#8221; As he spoke, Micah flipped off the auto-pilot and hit the thrusters, aiming the ship at the trade lane. &#8220;Luther, you still remember how to run defensive turrets?&#8221; Micah asked. &#8220;Like riding a bike,&#8221; Luther said walking over to the gunner&#8217;s chair. &#8220;A what?&#8221; Micah asked. &#8220;Never mind, just something we used to have back on Cambridge,&#8221; Luther replied, switching on the gunner&#8217;s station and warming up the turrets. &#8220;Guns charging.&#8221; &#8220;Good,&#8221; Micah said, &#8220;we haven&#8217;t got much time.&#8221; Chapter 2 &#8220;Hawks incoming!&#8221; Luther called out, swinging the gunner&#8217;s chair around to bring the guns to bear on the pursuing fighters. &#8220;What do you intend to do, Captain?&#8221; Kruger asked. &#8220;Just hang on,&#8221; Micah replied. &#8220;I&#8217;ll show you a little trick an old pilot from Houston taught me,&#8221; Micah said, reaching for the thruster control. &#8220;Thrusters on!&#8221; &#8220;Uh Micah&#8230; You&#8217;re flying AT the Hawks, not away from them,&#8221; Luther pointed out. &#8220;That&#8217;s the general idea,&#8221; Micah said. &#8220;Trust me.&#8221; The freighter flung itself at full speed toward the fighters. Micah waited until the Star Chaser entered firing range and suddenly swung the ship ninety degrees, perpendicular to the path of their adversaries. &#8220;Nice move,&#8221; Luther groused. &#8220;You just gave them our tail,&#8221; he said, moving to turn the guns toward the aft the ship. &#8220;Are they following?&#8221; Micah asked. The hull shook as shots from the fighters&#8217; guns ricocheted off the freighter&#8217;s shields. &#8220;I&#8217;d say so,&#8221; Luther called out, firing the Star Chaser&#8217;s guns at the nearest fighter. &#8220;Good.&#8221; Micah grinned, laying on the thruster control, pushing the Star Chaser to its limits. &#8220;Get ready to release a mine on my signal!&#8221; Micah said, shouting over the roar of the combination of the ships&#8217; engines and thrusters. Hoping his plan would work, Micah pulled the engine cut-off lever beside the pilot&#8217;s seat and released the thruster control simultaneously. &#8220;What just broke?&#8221; Luther asked, looking around the ship apprehensively as if expecting to see a piece of conduit or control panel spouting sparks and smoke. &#8220;Nothing,&#8221; Micah said calmly, enjoying the free fall his ship was now in. &#8220;Mr. Kruger I suggest you strap yourself in. Luther, ready on those mines.&#8221; The Hawk fighters, thinking themselves extraordinarily luck in finding their prey such an easy mark, suddenly found the ungainly Bretonian freighter swinging around to face them while maintaining its speed and direction. &#8220;Coasting backwards....&#8221; Kruger murmured. &#8220;Inventive&#8230;&#8221; &#8220;Luther, fire everything you&#8217;ve got!&#8221; Micah called out. Luther targeted the closest of the three fighters and let fly, all six turrets and two guns coming to bear on the now startled light fighter pilot. At that moment, Micah pushed forward on the thruster control again, sending the ship forward; the hunters had just become the hunted. Micah watched the distance read out closely as the Star Chaser sped toward her targets. &#8220;Leader&#8217;s shields buckling,&#8221; Luther said. &#8220;I&#8217;m doing hull damage!&#8221; &#8220;Fire all mines!&#8221; Micah ordered, the ship almost 200 meters from the fighters. Luther stomped on the mine release pedal three times in rapid succession, discharging seeking mines directly in front of the fighters who were still traveling on the same course they had been during the pursuit. The Star Chaser plunged through the enemy formation, right through the middle of the three fighters. Micah swung the ship back around to face the fighters and cut off the thrusters. As they looked back at the receding fighters, they saw three explosions in quick succession. &#8220;One fighter destroyed!&#8221; Luther crowed. &#8220;Two badly damaged!&#8221; &#8220;Heading for the tradelane,&#8221; Micah said, swinging the ship&#8217;s nose back in her direction of travel and punching the thrusters. &#8220;Next stop Sigma 13.&#8221; Befriend the Outcasts at least once, for thou shalt behold the Hispania and marvel. - KnightLight

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9

Wednesday, October 27th 2004, 9:11pm

Great story. How did I miss it? Now, the inevitable question...can I offer constructive criticism?
Signature from »Codename« Edit: Removed sig. Edited by - Stinger on on 12/30/2004 3:43:05 PM

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10

Thursday, October 28th 2004, 6:02pm

Thanks very much! I hope to have another chapter up soon! Constructive comments would be welcome. This is my first story in any genre, and I´d appreciate any advice you can give me. Thanks, Micah Befriend the Outcasts at least once, for thou shalt behold the Hispania and marvel. - KnightLight Edited by - mdutr0 on 10/28/2004 5:04:11 PM

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11

Friday, October 29th 2004, 10:20am

your first attempt is a failure. please try again with A GOOD attempt. oh and a good topic would be MONGOLS Go Mongols GO
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12

Sunday, October 31st 2004, 3:54pm

GhengisKhan - Unfortunately for you I am immune to the banal comments of idiots. Perhaps you should peruse the dictionary for the definition of the word &quot;constructive.&quot; Should you be so lucky as to post criticism that IS constructive, I would be more than happy to consider any comments you might make. As unlikely as I find this proposition, I look forward to reading more of your most pleasant conversation. Good luck on your hunt for Mongols in Freelancer; I wish you the best. Thanks, Micah Befriend the Outcasts at least once, for thou shalt behold the Hispania and marvel. - KnightLight

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13

Tuesday, November 9th 2004, 6:59pm

I like. When´s the next installment due out? <img src=smilies/icon_smile.gif width=15 height=15 border=0 align=middle>

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14

Wednesday, November 10th 2004, 3:04pm

This is good keep it up. I need more story
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15

Thursday, November 11th 2004, 7:43pm

More coming soon I promise. Law school keeping me busy... Thanks, Micah Befriend the Outcasts at least once, for thou shalt behold the Hispania and marvel. - KnightLight

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16

Saturday, January 22nd 2005, 3:32pm

Fear not everyone! The story is not dead and I have every intention of finishing it. I was swamped with finals from my first semester of law school and just finished off a relaxing stay with my family for the holidays. More should be coming very very soon! Thanks for your patience Micah

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17

Saturday, January 22nd 2005, 4:43pm

Good to know. This does not bode well for me though. If law school is *that* time consuming I may have to give up the internet for three years (when I - hopefully - start law school in about 1.5 years)
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18

Monday, January 24th 2005, 1:52am

Hi, &quot;The Hawk fighters, thinking themselves extraordinarily luck&quot; My main suggestion would be proof-read your story at least once, you´ll probably add more detail and often pick up on edits! It´s good so far. Keep posting. <img src=smilies/icon_smile.gif width=15 height=15 border=0 align=middle>
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19

Monday, January 24th 2005, 5:38pm

At long last! A new installment! You may want to reread the last chapter or two to get back into the story. More coming as soon as possible. Enjoy! Part 3 Chapter 1 Getting to Sigma 13, however, wasn&#8217;t that simple. Micah knew one couldn&#8217;t go straight from the Magellan system to Sigma 13, or at least he did once he examined the readout on the navigation computer&#8217;s screen. From the California system, their current destination, there were only two real choices: they&#8217;d have to go through Kusari space or Rheinland space. &#8220;Well, which way?&#8221; Luther asked. &#8220;I&#8217;m not sure,&#8221; Micah sighed, dropping back into the pilot&#8217;s chair. &#8220;No matter which way we go it&#8217;s going to be difficult; the Star Chaser is a Bretonian freighter. We won&#8217;t exactly blend in with the ships in Kusari or Rheinland.&#8221; &#8220;I propose going through Rheinland,&#8221; Kruger interjected. &#8220;Why should we trust you?&#8221; Luther asked. &#8220;You&#8217;ve done nothing but almost get us killed since you walked into my bar! I think we should drop you on Los Angeles and be rid of you and your trouble!&#8221; &#8220;If that is what you and the Captain here desire, please do,&#8221; Kruger shrugged nonchalantly. &#8220;But I wouldn&#8217;t if I were you. Two of those Hawk fighters survived our little adventure outside Freeport 4. Believe me; they will be communicating with those who hired them about this ship. Your only way out of this is to help me.&#8221; &#8220;You talk like you know who hired them, Kruger,&#8221; Micah said. &#8220;There is always conflict when two groups want the same thing,&#8221; Kruger said. &#8220;But Rheinland will be safer. Hawk fighters are not very common in Rheinland, they will be as out of place as we. In addition, in Rheinland, I have certain&#8230; associates that can help us evade the more heavily traveled routes to the Sigma systems. &#8220;Associates?&#8221; Micah asked, his eyebrows raised. &#8220;Why do I not like the sound of that&#8230;&#8221; &#8220;We&#8217;re coming out of hyperspace!&#8221; Luther called out. &#8220;We are now in the California system.&#8221; Nothing had changed in the California system in the past two months as far as Micah could tell. San Diego Border Station was bustling with activity. Trains and their escorts of Starfliers and Startrackers made their way between the jumpgate and tradelanes, a pair of Bounty Hunter Piranhas was docking with the station and, as Micah fed power to the engines, a Liberty Police patrol flew over their heads communicating with the station as they passed. &#8220;I&#8217;m aiming us for Planet Los Angeles,&#8221; Micah said. &#8220;There&#8217;s more traffic than the California Minor route, and while I&#8217;d like to think that we&#8217;ll be relatively safe in Liberty, there may be safety in numbers.&#8221; &#8220;Your plan seems sound,&#8221; Kruger said, sitting down in the navigator&#8217;s chair and crossing his legs. &#8220;In the meantime, Kruger,&#8221; Micah said pointing his finger at the Rheinlander on his ship, &#8220;I want some answers.&#8221; Befriend the Outcasts at least once, for thou shalt behold the Hispania and marvel. - KnightLight

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20

Monday, January 24th 2005, 7:47pm

Here´s another installment to make up for lost time! Comments always welcome. Enjoy! - Micah Part 3 Chapter 2 &#8220;As I&#8217;m sure you know, the GMG supplies over 90% of the H-fuel used in Sirius,&#8221; Kruger said, pacing the small command deck that Micah sometimes jokingly referred to as &#8220;the bridge.&#8221; &#8220;I&#8217;m sure you also know that the Rheinland fleet was decimated by the GMG.&#8221; &#8220;Yeah, the 80 Years War. So what?&#8221; Luther said, waiting for Kruger to get to the point. &#8220;If you remember your history lessons, Mr. Luther, you will recall that Rheinland&#8217;s greatest and final defeat occurred in Sigma 13,&#8221; Kruger responded impatiently. &#8220;The wreckage,&#8221; Micah said, &#8220;You want the wreckage.&#8221; &#8220;Very good Captain,&#8221; Kruger said, turning from Luther back to the pilot&#8217;s chair. &#8220;But it&#8217;s not the wreckage we&#8217;re after. It&#8217;s what is inside the wreckage that interests us.&#8221; &#8220;I&#8217;m almost afraid to ask what it is we&#8217;re looking for in the wreckage of an old Imperial warship,&#8221; Micah said turning his attention toward the controls as the Star Chaser emerged from the tradelane in front of Los Angeles. As Kruger spoke, Micah sped past the planet and docked with the tradelane to Planet Mojave, putting the ship on auto-pilot all the way to the New York jumpgate. &#8220;Don&#8217;t worry Captain, it&#8217;s a piece of intelligence that we believe the battleship Munich was carrying when it was destroyed,&#8221; Kruger said. &#8220;More than that I cannot say without authorization from my superiors.&#8221; &#8220;What superiors?&#8221; Luther asked. &#8220;And who&#8217;s this &#8220;we,&#8221; you keep talking about?&#8221; &#8220;My&#8230; associates,&#8221; Kruger replied, his lips turning up slightly. &#8220;Fear not Mr. Luther; before this is over nothing will be hidden from you.&#8221; Luther huffed, slumping a bit in his chair, obviously unsatisfied with Kruger&#8217;s explanation. On auto-pilot, the ship entered the New York jump gate and the black of space was quickly replaced with the mottled tube of hyperspace. &#8220;Entering, the New York system,&#8221; Micah announced a few minutes later. The Star Chaser dropped out of hyperspace, a transition that was always more abrupt than Micah expected no matter how many times he went through it. The blackness of space, with it&#8217;s backdrop of stars, reappeared. The ship was immediately fired upon. Micah reached for the controls to bring the Chaser back up to full speed. &#8220;Luther, guns!&#8221; Micah called out, the ship roaring to life beneath their feet. &#8220;Hawk fighters approaching,&#8221; Kruger said, remarkably calm under the circumstances. &#8220;Six fighters this time.&#8221; &#8220;That&#8217;s way too many Micah; head for the tradelane,&#8221; Luther said whipping the gunner&#8217;s chair around firing the ship&#8217;s guns. &#8220;They&#8217;re between us and the tradelane,&#8221; Micah said, turning the Chaser ninety degrees, firing the main engines and thrusters and taking the ship on a course parallel to the entrance to the tradelane. &#8220;That&#8217;s going to be difficult.&#8221; The Star Chaser lunged forward, spitting laser fire and trying to escape the swarm of small, but deadly, civilian fighter craft. &#8220;Shields dropping,&#8221; Kruger stated as calmly as if he&#8217;d been discussing the weather. &#8220;I am aware of the shields,&#8221; Micah spat back, hitting the shield battery control, quickly becoming annoyed at Kruger&#8217;s deadly calm under fire. &#8220;How we doing back there Luther?&#8221; &#8220;The last time I saw this many bogies, I was on a ship that had a few more gunners,&#8221; Luther shot back through gritted teeth, firing constantly and swiveling his chair back and forth wildly. &#8220;Gotcha. I&#8217;ll see if I can get us a bit more space,&#8221; Micah said, cutting the engines but still traveling in the same direction as the pursuing fighters. &#8220;Hold on to something, Kruger. Firing Z axis thrusters!&#8221; The Star Chaser, suddenly dropped, relative down, out of the pack of Hawk fighters. Now in the clear, Micah turned the ship&#8217;s nose back up, toward the Hawks, bringing all the Chaser&#8217;s guns to bear on their attackers. &#8220;Let fly, Luther!&#8221; Micah shouted. Now able to use all of the ship&#8217;s guns, Luther concentrated his fire on one of the Hawks above them. Already weakened by the Chaser&#8217;s guns during the pursuit, the hawk came apart in a small, streaking nova above view port of the command deck. &#8220;I&#8217;m reading five new contacts in the area. They&#8217;ve just emerged from the tradelane.&#8221; Kruger reported. &#8220;They register as Liberty Navy.&#8221; &#8220;What a relief,&#8221; Micah said, reaching for the comm. controls. &#8220;Star Chaser to Liberty Navy patrol in need of assistance. We are under attack from six Civilian CTE-1500 Hawk fighters. I repeat we are in need of assistance.&#8221; &#8220;I doubt that very much Lieutenant,&#8221; a deep baritone rumbled over the Star Chaser&#8217;s tiny speakers from one of the Defender heavy fighters. &#8220;You look like you&#8217;re doing just fine.&#8221; &#8220;Captain?&#8221; Micah asked, surprised to hear his former commander&#8217;s voice again but definitely glad. &#8220;Who else Lieutenant?&#8221; Captain Phillips replied. &#8220;All fighters defend that freighter!&#8221; Now facing more resistance, the Hawk fighters began to break off toward the jump gate to California rather than face the might of the Liberty Navy in its own territory. Captain Phillips and his squadron attacked and, with the aid of the Star Chaser managed to destroy the remaining Hawk fighters. &#8220;How did you know it was me Captain?&#8221; Micah asked when the battle was over and the ubiquitous Junker CSV was tractoring in the debris. &#8220;I saw your little escape maneuver when we jumped out of the tradelane,&#8221; Phillips said with laughter in his voice. &#8220;And I also remember a certain Lieutenant who got a high percentage of his kills flying backwards, sideways, and upside down. I&#8217;ve never seen anyone fight like that before or since.&#8221; &#8220;Captain there&#8217;s no up..&#8221; Micah began. &#8220;I know, I know,&#8221; Phillips interrupted, chuckling over the comm. &#8220;There&#8217;s no up or down in space. Don&#8217;t remind me, it gives me motion sickness.&#8221; &#8220;A former Liberty Navy fighter pilot,&#8221; Kruger mused, almost to himself. &#8220;The freighter Captain has hidden depths.&#8221; &#8220;So what are you doing back here now, Lieutenant?&#8221; Captain Phillips asked. &#8220;I could ask you the same thing, but it&#8217;s just Micah now Captain,&#8221; Micah said. &#8220;Last time we spoke you were the captain of the Battleship Mississippi.&#8221; &#8220;They transferred me over to the Missouri a couple of weeks after you left,&#8221; Phillips replied. &#8220;I just like to get out and stretch my space legs every once in a while, that&#8217;s all. Good thing I did too. You in some kind of trouble?&#8221; &#8220;It sure seems that way,&#8221; Micah said. &#8220;I can&#8217;t discuss it on an open channel. All I can tell you is that I need to get to Rheinland as soon as possible. That&#8217;s the second time we&#8217;ve been attacked by Hawk fighters in as many days.&#8221; &#8220;I understand,&#8221; Phillips replied. &#8220;Is there anything I can do?&#8221; &#8220;I don&#8217;t know how we&#8217;re going to make it to Rheinland like this,&#8221; Micah said. &#8220;There are only so many fighters I can fend off!&#8221; &#8220;As much as I&#8217;d like to see you kick some butt in that big tin can you&#8217;re flying, I&#8217;ll make it easy for you,&#8221; Phillips said. &#8220;My patrol and I will escort you to the edge of Liberty space in the Texas system personally. Form up and we&#8217;ll leave immediately.&#8221; Micah was relieved at Captain Phillips&#8217; offer and accepted at once. While their trip through Liberty space would no longer be as discreet as Micah, and especially Kruger, would have liked, they would be unlikely to be attacked while inside Liberty space with a full squadron of Navy Defenders as an escort and reinforcements within easy call. The small fleet passed quickly and uneventfully through the New York system, past West Point Academy where Micah completed his training, past Norfolk Shipyard and the Battleship Missouri, Phillips&#8217; new command. Micah passed most of the time the two days the journey across Liberty space took talking with his former captain over the comm., reminiscing over missions flown together and adventures the two men had shared. Once in the Texas system, the Star Chaser and her escort shot rapidly through the tradelane to Planet Houston, Micah&#8217;s home world. Micah didn&#8217;t have time to stop, nor would he have wanted to if he had; none of his family still lived on Houston, having moved to Planet Denver sometime after he&#8217;d joined the Navy. Instead, the odd convoy paused only long enough for Micah, Luther, and Kruger to decide their route to the Hamburg system and Rheinland space. Micah chose to go through the Bering system for a number of reasons. For one, it got the Chaser out of Liberty space that much faster since the jump gate was closer than the one to the Hudson system. For another, there was a station there, Freeport 2 where they could stop and, hopefully, not be noticed. Kruger had also intimated that he could contact some of his &#8220;associates&#8221; there without attracting any undue, and unwanted, attention. &#8220;This is as far as we can go,&#8221; Captain Phillips said over the radio as the convoy approached the jumpgate to the Bering system. &#8220;There are a few Navy ships patrolling the other side of the jumpgate before you get to the tradelane, but our jurisdiction basically ends here.&#8221; &#8220;Thanks Captain,&#8221; Micah replied. &#8220;I owe you one.&#8221; &#8220;No you don&#8217;t Micah,&#8221; Phillips replied. &#8220;I wish you could tell me more about what&#8217;s going on. You don&#8217;t see many Hawk fighters this side of the Crow Nebula; it worries me. I guess I&#8217;ll just have to wait until you get back. I&#8217;ll show you around the Missouri, and you can tell me all about it. Be careful Micah.&#8221; &#8220;I will Captain, and thank you,&#8221; Micah replied. &#8220;I&#8217;ll see you when we get back. Star Chaser out.&#8221; Micah closed the comm. channel, and docked with the jumpgate to the Bering system. The stars disappeared and they were, once again, flung through the kaleidoscope of hyperspace. Befriend the Outcasts at least once, for thou shalt behold the Hispania and marvel. - KnightLight Edited by - mdutr0 on 1/24/2005 7:52:08 PM

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