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61

Sunday, August 14th 2005, 10:51pm

I just got back into town. More on the way soon! Thanks, Micah "I looked down at the chessboard. The move with the knight was wrong. Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn´t a game for knights." - Philip Marlowe, The Big Sleep

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62

Saturday, September 3rd 2005, 10:47am

ok now this story has to be finished! You know its monday when your handgun backfires into your face
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63

Sunday, September 11th 2005, 12:57pm

A new installment!! Only a couple of more to go til the end! Thanks, Micah Chapter 4 The tiny fleet scattered, engaging thrusters to throw themselves clear of the sudden assault. Micah leaned on the Star Chaser’s thruster controls, pushing the ship to its limits. Luther began to pivot in the gunner’s seat, firing off bursts of deadly energy from the ships new, Zoner-installed weaponry. “The fighters register as GMG Captain,” Luther called out above the din, his voice somehow still calm despite its increased volume. “Given our relative strengths, our forces should be sufficient to defeat our attackers.” “Great,” Micah shouted back over his shoulder, twisting the Star Chaser through the nebula dodging the flak from the Hawk and Falcon fighters all around them. “Luther, prepare for a little free-fall fighting.” Micah killed the ships engines and whipped the Star Chaser’s nose around toward the nearest Hawk fighter. The surprised GMG pilot had no time to react as the combined force of the Star Chaser’s full weaponry sliced through his shields and into his reactor core, sending his ship into a flaming death spiral. Micah turned the nose of his ship toward another of the offending fighters and punched the thrusters again. The Zoner Stiletto fighters were faring well against the lighter Hawks but the heavier Falcons were more evenly matched against the gunmetal gray ships. Already, two of the Star Chaser’s Stiletto escorts had been lost. With the Star Chaser’s presence, however, the battle began to swing in the unlikely convoy’s favor. One of the GMG Falcons began to focus its fire on the Star Chaser. The ship rocked as the heavier fire of the fighter ricocheted of its shields. “Shields holding Captain,” Kruger reported. “But they won’t for long under firepower of this magnitude.” “Gotcha,” Micah replied, bent over the controls. “Luther, on my signal release a mine and then a missile.” “Ready when you are,” Luther replied through clenched teeth, firing at their pursuer. Micah slowed the ship, allowing the Falcon to close the distance between the two vessels. The Star Chaser’s shields groaned in protest. “Launch the mine Luther!” Micah ordered. “Mine launched,” Luther replied. Micah killed the engines again and swung the nose of the ship around, allowing Luther to bring all of the Star Chaser’s guns to bear on the Falcon that was suddenly in front of them but still chasing them. The Falcon came into view just in time to see the mine explode on contact with the Falcon’s shields. Luther let fly with the full power of the Star Chaser’s armaments and the Falcon’s shields began to buckle and then to collapse. “The fighter’s shields are at 7% Captain,” Luther called out, the green-blue light from the scanner reflected on his face. “Fire missile now!” Micah said, practically shouting. The missile, following in the wake of the Star Chaser’s energy weapons passed through the almost nonexistent shields of the heavy fighter and ripped the vessel in half in a humongous fireball. “Yes!” Luther exclaimed. “Celebration is, perhaps, premature,” Kruger replied, staring into the scanners. “Seven new contacts have just appeared in sensor range.” Kruger looked up from his screen and toward Micah in the pilot seat. “They are all Falcon heavy fighters.” “We’re outnumbered,” Luther said vacantly, “outnumbered and out-gunned.” The three men sat quiet for a moment, time almost standing still as they realized the gravity of their situation. Micah snapped them out of it. “Kruger,” Micah said over his shoulder as he maneuvered the Star Chaser away from the approaching fighters to buy them some time. “Can you pinpoint the exact position of the anti-matter reaction core on the Munich?” “I should be able to Captain,” Kruger replied, “though I should point out that we will hardly have time to retrieve the core in a combat situation.” “You’re right,” Micah returned. “Not by ourselves at any rate.” “What do you have in mind?” Kruger asked. “Find the core, transmit the data to one of the Stilettos, and have the Stiletto free the reactor core with its weapons.” Micah answered. “We’ll be right behind the fighter to scoop the core up with our tractor beam.” “You realize that any transmission to the Stilettos can be heard by the GMG Captain,” Kruger pointed out. “It’s a chance we’ll have to take,” Micah acknowledged. “But we’re not going to come out ahead on a straight fight; this is our best chance to retrieve the core.” Kruger nodded his head as if to himself. “Agreed Captain,” he said. “But we must do it quickly. The GMG ships are closing and will be within weapons range momentarily.” “All fighters, attack those Falcons,” Micah said, punching the comm. “Stiletto One, you’re with me.” The remaining Stiletto fighters banked toward the incoming GMG ships. The Star Chaser and a single Stiletto fighter turned toward the hulk of the Munich. The freighter’s movements not going unnoticed, two of the Falcon fighters split off, firing their thrusters toward the Imperial cruiser. “Captain, two of the Falcon fighters have separated from the main group and are on an intercept course,” Kruger called out, from the sensor station. “Just great,” Micah replied. “At least the Stilettos will have better odds. I just hope we have time…” "I looked down at the chessboard. The move with the knight was wrong. Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn´t a game for knights." - Philip Marlowe, The Big Sleep

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64

Monday, September 12th 2005, 6:18am

You cannot write sweet too many times, sweet! <img src=smilies/icon_smile.gif width=15 height=15 border=0 align=middle>
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65

Sunday, October 9th 2005, 11:06am

Hi all. I promise to finish this story! I apologize for the long delay but law school again has me in its evil grasp. I´ve got the next installment about 50% done.... Thanks, Micah &quot;I looked down at the chessboard. The move with the knight was wrong. Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn´t a game for knights.&quot; - Philip Marlowe, The Big Sleep

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66

Sunday, October 9th 2005, 11:50pm

Hi folks, Well, I´ve finished it at long last. This post and the next will contain the last two chapters of the story. I´ve already got some ideas bouncing around in my head for another one featuring the same characters and so on. I´m also planning on submitting the story to the Fan Fiction section on the Lancers Reactor main page. Enjoy, Micah ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 5 The Star Chaser hurtled toward the hulk of the Munich at maximum velocity. &#8220;I have the location of the anti-matter reactor core pinpointed,&#8221; Kruger called out, his fingers playing over the controls. &#8220;Transmitting telemetry to Stiletto One now.&#8221; Behind them, the Falcon heavy fighters sliced through the nebula, rapidly closing the gap between them and the ungainly freighter. The nebula sizzled with laser fire as the GMG pilots reached firing range. &#8220;We&#8217;re taking fire Captain,&#8221; Kruger relayed, the Star Chaser&#8217;s shields and hull groaning in audible protest. &#8220;I&#8217;d never have guessed,&#8221; Micah muttered to himself through clenched teeth. Aloud, he said &#8220;Luther see what you can do about those fighters.&#8221; &#8220;I&#8217;m on it,&#8221; Luther replied swiveling in the gunner&#8217;s chair, firing off bursts of laser fire and spitting mines at the offending Falcons. The GMG fighters continued to close on the freighter despite the barrage of firepower from the Star Chaser. Under the cover of Luther&#8217;s weapons fire, Stiletto One eased in front of the Star Chaser preparing to fire on the Munich when the pair reached the coordinates. Without a second target, the two enemy fighters began to concentrate their fire on the Star Chaser. &#8220;Our shields are weakening,&#8221; Kruger called out above the roar of the engines and the impact of GMG weapons. &#8220;We cannot withstand the combined firepower of the GMG fighters for much longer.&#8221; &#8220;How long until Stiletto One reaches firing range?&#8221; Micah asked over his shoulder. &#8220;Approximately 17.3 seconds Captain,&#8221; Kruger shot back. &#8220;We are at 3423 kilometers and closing.&#8221; Micah slammed his foot down on a foot switch near the pilot&#8217;s seat activating a shield battery. Forced to stay on course Micah knew the shield battery wouldn&#8217;t last long against the two heavy fighters behind them &#8211; he could only hope the few batteries they had left would be enough. &#8220;Ten seconds and counting,&#8221; Kruger called out. The Falcons&#8217; withering fire continued. Every second was becoming more of a strain on the Star Chaser&#8217;s shields and systems. &#8220;Let them have every mine we&#8217;ve got Luther,&#8221; Micah shouted back toward the gunner&#8217;s position. &#8220;Maybe that will slow them down.&#8221; Luther responded instantly, but the GMG pilots were ready. Keeping their distance, the Falcons were able to sweep around the string of mines that were suddenly unleashed from the Bretonian freighter. With only a minor course correction, the Falcon heavy fighters were able to resume firing on the Star Chaser. &#8220;Damn,&#8221; Luther said, realizing what had happened when the ship received only a brief respite from the almost constant barrage of enemy fire. &#8220;We missed completely.&#8221; &#8220;Don&#8217;t worry Luther,&#8221; Micah replied grinning, though neither of his companions could see it. &#8220;We&#8217;ve just made ourselves a little elbow room&#8230;.&#8221; &#8220;Time Kruger?&#8221; Micah called out. &#8220;Two seconds and counting,&#8221; Kruger replied. &#8220;Stiletto One is entering firing range&#8230; now.&#8221; Homing in, Stiletto One let fly at the imaginary target his computer had painted on the hull of the Munich. Sparks and a small explosion followed as debris went spiraling away from the ancient warship. &#8220;Stiletto One has released the reactor core,&#8221; Kruger called out. &#8220;Target lock achieved Captain, engage the tractor beam.&#8221; &#8220;Done,&#8221; Micah called back pushing a button on his panel. There was a faint buzzing sound inside the crew compartment of the Star Chaser as the tractor beam lanced out. Wrapping the reactor core in an energy field, the tractor beam pulled a piece of science fiction into the cargo bay as the Munich passed beneath the ship. &#8220;We&#8217;ve got it!&#8221; Micah shouted triumphantly. The Falcon heavy fighters were still on their tail, however, and Micah knew that if they didn&#8217;t make it out of the nebula their success would be very short-lived. Cutting the engines, Micah began to swivel the freighter to bring the full might of the Star Chaser&#8217;s weaponry in play. &#8220;The rest of our escort did not fair as well,&#8221; Kruger said, manipulating the range of the ship&#8217;s sensors. &#8220;Four more Falcon heavy fighters are closing on our position.&#8221; &#8220;Damn,&#8221; Micah cursed to himself. He trusted his ship and his friends but Micah knew that taking on six Falcon heavy fighters with a Clydesdale, albeit an unorthodox one, and a single Stiletto fighter was a suicide mission. With the nearest jump hole tens of thousands of kilometers away, it didn&#8217;t take an Interstellar Commerce claims adjuster to calculate their odds of survival. &#8220;Alright Luther,&#8221; Micah said realizing that they would have to at least try to fight off the heavy fighters enough to, hopefully, escape. &#8220;Let&#8217;s try&#8230;&#8221; Micah trailed off as, without warning, a terrific explosion ripped through the hull of the Munich. Shreds of bulkhead scattered into space leaving a gaping hole in the side of the ship. Suddenly, familiar angular shapes began to pour out of the freshly created portal; an entire squadron of Stiletto fighters. The comm. crackled. &#8220;This is Gray Leader to Bretonian freighter,&#8221; A familiar baritone rumbled. &#8220;Looks like I&#8217;m gonna have to bail you out again.&#8221; &#8220;Captain?&#8221; Micah asked in disbelief but being careful not to use his former Liberty Navy commanding officer&#8217;s name over an open channel. &#8220;Is that you?&#8221; &#8220;None other Lieutenant,&#8221; Phillips answered. &#8220;But we&#8217;ll have time for explanations later. Let&#8217;s tangle with these gas farmers!&#8221; With that the Stiletto squadron broke formation and swarmed toward the surprised GMG craft. With the Star Chaser and Stiletto One, the Falcon fighters, all damaged from the earlier fight, were no match for a fresh squadron of Stilettos. Within minutes the last Falcon erupted in a ball of flame, its pieces soon disappearing into the nebula. &quot;I looked down at the chessboard. The move with the knight was wrong. Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn´t a game for knights.&quot; - Philip Marlowe, The Big Sleep

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67

Sunday, October 9th 2005, 11:58pm

Epilogue It felt like at least a standard year since Micah had had a drink. Micah and his companions, including Captain Phillips, were sitting around a table in the bar on Bruschal Base. &#8220;Captain,&#8221; Micah said. &#8220;How long have you been a Zoner?&#8221; &#8220;Oh, just a couple of years now,&#8221; Phillips replied. &#8220;You&#8217;re friend is being modest Micah,&#8221; Kruger put in. &#8220;Captain Phillips has been with us for over a standard decade and has quite a distinguished record. When I told you that the Zoners had operatives in every faction in the Sirius sector I was not exaggerating.&#8221; &#8220;I can see that,&#8221; Micah acknowledged. &#8220;But isn&#8217;t the Navy going to wonder where you are?&#8221; &#8220;Hell no,&#8221; Phillips said laughing. &#8220;The paper pushers think I&#8217;m on Planet Curacao on vacation.&#8221; &#8220;So how long were you inside the Munich?&#8221; Luther put in. &#8220;We arrived a few hours before you did,&#8221; Phillips replied. &#8220;We came in from Sigma 19. We were broadcasting Outcast id signatures, though you probably didn&#8217;t notice it at the time.&#8221; &#8220;We were a bit busy,&#8221; Luther acknowledged. &#8220;Zoner Command thought a little back up might be in order,&#8221; Phillips continued. &#8220;Exactly,&#8221; Kruger said. &#8220;The residual radiation produced by the Munich, combined with the usual sensor inefficiency generally associated with nebulas was more than enough to hide Captain Phillips and his squadron from the GMG&#8217;s sensors.&#8221; &#8220;All we had to do was wait for our signal and catch the GMG with their flight suits down,&#8221; Phillips put in, sipping his drink. &#8220;Well it worked,&#8221; Luther said. &#8220;But why wait so long? We could have use your help a lot sooner.&#8221; &#8220;We were testing you,&#8221; Kruger said, answering for Phillips. &#8220;If you recall, I told you that after our mission was complete I would have a proposal for the both of you.&#8221; &#8220;I remember,&#8221; Micah said, swishing the liquor around in his glass. &#8220;What is it?&#8221; &#8220;The Zoners are divided into three main groups,&#8221; Kruger replied. &#8220;We have operatives in every faction in the sector, as I said before. There is, of course, also the overt wing of the Zoners. They operate in the open, run the Freeports and Ames Research Station, and generally create the illusion that the Zoners are a separatist movement of maverick citizens of the four Houses.&#8221; &#8220;The Zoner bases also serve as local headquarters for our operations and Zoner Command,&#8221; Phillips put in. &#8220;They serve as intelligence gathering centers and bases of operation.&#8221; &#8220;But what about this base?&#8221; Luther asked. &#8220;This isn&#8217;t a Freeport, it&#8217;s a base for a faction of political rebels.&#8221; &#8220;We have special relationships with certain factions in Sirius and use their bases and support services from time to time when the need arises,&#8221; Kruger answered. &#8220;The Bundschuh here in Rheinland, the Blood Dragons in Kusari space, and the Independent Miners Guild.&#8221; &#8220;And the third division of your organization?&#8221; Micah asked. &#8220;The third division of the Zoners is more covert,&#8221; Kruger replied. &#8220;While the first two divisions operate mostly in the realms of information gathering, the third division is primarily concerned with operations in the field.&#8221; &#8220;Most of our operatives pose as ordinary freelancers,&#8221; Kruger continued. &#8220;Such as yourselves.&#8221; &#8220;Let me guess,&#8221; Luther said. &#8220;That&#8217;s where Micah and I come in.&#8221; &#8220;Exactly,&#8221; Kruger answered. &#8220;Though I had not planned on enlisting your services on this mission, Mr. Luther, they proved invaluable on numerous occasions and the Zoners are not ones to turn their backs on serendipity.&#8221; &#8220;Whoa, hold on,&#8221; Micah cut in. &#8220;What do you mean &#8216;you planned&#8217;?&#8221; &#8220;I recommended you as a possible recruit to Zoner Command,&#8221; Phillips said. &#8220;right after your commission expired and you went into business for yourself.&#8221; &#8220;So your hiring me to fly you around Sirius was part of your plan?&#8221; Micah asked incredulously. &#8220;My presence on Freeport 4 was no accident Micah. Command approved of Captain Phillips&#8217; recommendation,&#8221; Kruger responded. &#8220;But we had to test your abilities for ourselves.&#8221; &#8220;Do not mistake my meaning,&#8221; Kruger said raising a hand and silencing Luther before he could begin. &#8220;Our mission was very real and extremely important. But it also served as a test.&#8221; &#8220;And I&#8217;d say you passed with flying colors,&#8221; Phillips said, smiling over his glass at Micah and Luther. &#8220;Well gentleman?&#8221; Kruger asked. &#8220;Do you accept?&#8221; Micah looked at the crusty Bretonian sitting beside him. Both men knew it would mean a life of secrecy and danger, knowing that the stakes would always be high and that the odds would almost always be against them. &#8220;Well,&#8221; Luther sighed heavily. &#8220;It beats bartending.&#8221; Micah smiled at the center of the table and looked up at Kruger. &#8220;I think you can take that as a &#8216;yes&#8217; from both of us.&#8221; &#8220;What if we&#8217;d said &#8216;no&#8217; though?&#8221; Luther asked. &#8220;What would have happened to us?&#8221; &#8220;To you?&#8221; Luther replied. &#8220;Nothing would happen to you; no one would believe a word you said if you were to tell your story. Captain Phillips and I would be reassigned, our identities changed, and you would never see us again, something I would rather not do.&#8221; &#8220;So how does this work?&#8221; Micah asked. &#8220;What do we do now?&#8221; &#8220;You and Mr. Luther will receive your assignments via our network of operatives and stations from Zoner Command,&#8221; Kruger replied. &#8220;How you complete your objectives will up to the two of you.&#8221; &#8220;The two of us?&#8221; Luther asked. &#8220;Don&#8217;t you mean the three of us?&#8221; &#8220;I&#8217;m with Luther,&#8221; Micah put in. &#8220;There&#8217;s no way we&#8217;re agreeing to this unless you&#8217;re part of the team Kruger,&#8221; &#8220;I told you they were going to do this,&#8221; Phillips said to Kruger with a chuckle. &#8220;Actually, Micah I anticipated this very scenario,&#8221; Kruger replied. &#8220;An hour ago, Zoner Command approved my transfer to the Star Chaser pending your acceptance of our proposal.&#8221; &#8220;In that case we&#8217;re in,&#8221; Micah said, reaching across the table and shaking the Rheinlander&#8217;s hand. &#8220;Besides, you know the ins and outs of the Zoners. Luther and I need someone to show us the ropes.&#8221; &#8220;Then, I believe, a celebration is in order,&#8221; Kruger said. &#8220;Another round gentlemen?&#8221; &#8220;Sounds good&#8230;&#8221; Micah said, his voice trailing off as a quiet but high pitched beeping sound began, coming from Kruger&#8217;s direction. A small comm. unit that Micah and Luther hadn&#8217;t noticed before appeared in Kruger&#8217;s hand. Kruger flashed his eyes across the screen and returned the small device to his pocket. &#8220;Zoner Command,&#8221; Kruger said, responding to the Micah&#8217;s and Luther&#8217;s questioning glances. &#8220;We&#8217;ve been ordered to report to Freeport 9 in the Omicron Theta system.&#8221; &#8220;That was fast,&#8221; Micah said. &#8220;How did they know we said yes?&#8221; &#8220;I transmitted a signal indicating your response to Command with my comm. unit,&#8221; Kruger replied. &#8220;So what&#8217;s up?&#8221; Luther asked. &#8220;What are we doing in Omicron Theta?&#8221; &#8220;We&#8217;ll find that out when we get there,&#8221; Kruger said in reply. *** The Star Chaser slid gracefully out of the Bruschal asteroid field and began to sweep around the dark side of Planet Holstein. &#8220;Setting a course for Omicron Theta,&#8221; Kruger called out from the navigation/sensor station. &#8220;Everyone ready?&#8221; Micah asked, looking around the small command deck of his freighter. For the first time since he joined the Liberty Navy, Micah felt good about what he was doing. And even though he didn&#8217;t know what was waiting for them in the Omicron Theta system, Micah knew that this ship and this crew would be able to handle it. &#8220;If nothing else,&#8221; Micah thought, &#8220;it&#8217;ll be fun.&#8221; Receiving a nod from Kruger and a raised thumb from Luther, Micah swung the ship around, pointing it at the waypoint. &#8220;Here we go,&#8221; Micah said, &#8220;engaging cruise engines.&#8221; The small freighter seemed to pause for a moment as if to gather her strength. The cruise drive reached critical mass and the Star Chaser leapt forward, flying through the space between the stars. THE END &quot;I looked down at the chessboard. The move with the knight was wrong. Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn´t a game for knights.&quot; - Philip Marlowe, The Big Sleep

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68

Monday, October 10th 2005, 7:00pm

Very well written, I am impressed with the way to wrap the story into the game experience. Thank you so much for your time and all the work involved in putting a piece like this together. Hands down, this is some of the best fan fic I´ve read. I´d love to see more from this trio and you certainly have me itching to go back to my computer and see if I can´t manage to make myself a zoner tonight <img src=smilies/icon_smile_wink.gif width=15 height=15 border=0 align=middle> Ciao and peace. Phasade
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69

Monday, October 10th 2005, 8:23pm

Thank you very much for reading the story and I am pleased that you enjoyed it so much. I was trying to make the story feel like you were playing the game and tried to add little details and descriptions to create that effect. I´m glad to see that it was not entirely futile. I submitted the story to Eraser last night via email. I am definitely planning on another story concerning these characters and their work wih the Zoners - I´m bouncing around some ideas as we speak.... Oh, should the story be posted on the main page it will be entitled, &quot;Zoners Can Remember&quot; Thanks again, Micah &quot;I looked down at the chessboard. The move with the knight was wrong. Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn´t a game for knights.&quot; - Philip Marlowe, The Big Sleep

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70

Tuesday, October 11th 2005, 11:14am

Yeah - I like &quot;Zoners can remember&quot; as a title for this peice, although it does give away a bit of the plot, and finding out about the zoners is a great part of the story. Another option is something less direct, a long the lines of &quot;Faction Memory&quot; or &quot;Missing in Sigma&quot;. Good luck with everything and thanks again for a great story.
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