Author Topic: The Celeste Affair  (Read 2523 times)

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Offline Ra

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The Celeste Affair
« on: February 03, 2004, 03:50:44 PM »
Ra tunes in his transceiver.
‘All Fed Op craft respond.’ he says. Jo is looking at the view screen. The screen is filled with a devastated Space Agency Cruiser. They are just outside a small stellar system called Celeste. The fourth planet, called Wi Shfulthyn Keng in the native tongue, is inhabited by humans, and is on the outskirts of the Federation.
‘No sign of life.’ says Jo, bitterly.
‘This is Commander Ra, all Fed Op craft respond.’ The transceiver crackles. Jo is trying to make out the Id on the craft.
‘Cerebus 135.’ she says. She thinks at the computer, and a matrix of details appear on the screen, superimposed over the view of the Cruiser.
‘Doa Ghee,’ says Ra, frowning. ‘You remember, the Atlanda Moon raid?’
‘Oh my, not Doa….. ‘ Jo tails off.
‘Emergency. All Fed Op craft respond.’
‘It’s got to be the work of the EST.’ says Jo.
‘That’s for sure.’ The EST appear as humanoid but metal creatures. They are organic computers using humanoid vehicles. Their origin is unknown. They can imitate humans, but at the moment, they haven’t got the eyes quite right. The time is about 17,000 years ago, before this world was recreated by Jo.
‘Do you think they might have stumbled upon an EST squadron?’ asked Ra, ‘Surely a Cruiser could handle anything less.’
‘Perhaps the EST were transporting something to, what’s that planet called……. ’
‘Sum Hoap.’ said Ra, ‘But the locals have a different name. Wi Shfulthyn Keng, I recall.’ Jo laughs out loud, then remembers Doa Ghee, and frowns again. Ra grins at her, and she relaxes.
‘So, think there’s an EST op going down on Sum Hoap?’
‘You bet.’ says Jo.
‘All Fed Op craft respond.’ calls Ra.
The effluent capsule is about to collide with the warp nacelle. Erisian proverb. (it loses a lot in the translation).

Offline Ra

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The Celeste Affair
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2004, 07:17:52 AM »
‘I’ve an idea.’ says Ra.
‘Spill it.’
‘Well, this wreck is a bit obvious. Surely whoever did it is going to come back and tidy up….’
‘So if we hang around silent running…… ‘
‘We might catch us some EST.’ finishes Ra. Jo is already manoeuvring the destroyer away from the wreck. When they are far enough away, she shuts down all ‘noise’ producing hardware, and they wait.

After some time, Jo spots something.
‘Look, over there!!!’ points Jo. Ra picks up the binoculars he uses ‘onworld’.
‘I see it….. them…… it’s about twenty fighters and a craft hauler.’ They wait in silence as the hauler approaches the wreck. There is a shimmer as the tractor beams engage, and the cruiser is in tow. Ra and Jo are standing in the dark.
‘Are they EST?’ asks Jo.
‘That’s for sure, that’s an EMC hauler.’
They watch until the formation of fighters moves off, and Ra raises his hand, Jo’s fingers hanging over the propulsion control. Ra lowers his hand slowly, ‘Easy now….’ he says. ‘They took Doa, and he had a cruiser.’ Jo nods, grinning at him. ‘What’s the plan, Commander?’ she asks.
‘We follow, keeping silent running so they can’t trace us, and see if they land on Sum Hoap.’
The destroyer, Kallisti 777 moves off after the retreating convoy.
‘Let’s hope none of our boys and girls show up now.’ says Jo.

They watch as the hauler catapults the wreck into the fires of Celeste, and the convoy head toward Sum Hoap. As the fighters enter the atmosphere like a chain of onyx, Jo turns on the sensors.
‘Got ‘em… ‘ says Jo, as they land, invisible under Sum Hoap’s cloudy mantle.
‘Standing orbit 1000 micros off spin of that location.’ instructs Ra. Jo manoeuvres the destroyer as directed, then kills everything.
‘All off.’ Ra confirms. Jo stands up and they float, grabbing the rails, to the back of the control room. The hatch leading to the lander bay opens, and they use the ladder to guide their weightless bodies down to the lander.
‘Wheeeee!!!’ squeals Jo as she propels herself toward the lander. Ra laughs and does the same. ‘If people were weightless all the time, there wouldn’t be any war,’ he thinks.
‘Or friction…’ laughs Jo. They get into the lander and buckle up. Ra flicks the lander bay door switch, and the floor swings away under the tiny craft. A few more controls are manipulated, and the lander drops. Ra kicks in the power, and they swoop down toward the surface of the planet.
‘078 260.’ says Jo as Ra starts to speak. They continue in the loudest silence imaginable.

The lander descends in a wood about one micro from the fighter squadron base. Jo and Ra get out, and rush about collecting fallen branches to conceal it. This takes some time, and they do not speak.
‘Lovely, Jo..’ says Ra as Jo fits the last branch. ‘Let’s hope no one comes too close.’ The lander looks a very unlikely bush, but the EST aren’t interested in fauna. Only metal turns them on. Jo giggles.
Only an EST could be THAT stupid. Popular Erisian joke. (in Galactic High Speech, it works)

Offline Ra

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The Celeste Affair
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2004, 08:27:41 PM »
Ra pulls his locator out of his belt and studies it.
‘This way.’ he says, marching off into the woods. Jo skips after him, catching him up within a few yards.
‘What’s the plan, Commander?’ asks Jo.
‘Surprise.’ says Ra, enigmatically. They tramp on through the woods. Eventually, they come to a perimeter fence. The fence consists of posts every ten milimicros (a micro is about a kilometre). Six bands of invisible but quite deadly light span the distance between the posts, which are two milimicros high. Ra holds up his hand on seeing the fence and Jo stops in her tracks. She surveys the fence.
‘It’s bound to be alarmed.’ says Jo.
‘Uh huh. We can’t turn it off.’ returns Ra. He looks around for something to assist them. There are no trees overhanging the fence. ‘What we need, is a two and a half mili pole.’ Jo starts looking about in the woods.
‘What about this?’ asks Jo holding up a long branch.
‘Perfect.’ Jo strips off the small branches with her field knife. She doesn’t bother asking what it’s for. She hands the striped pole to Ra. Ra eyes up the pole, then tests his weight against it. It flexes, but doesn’t snap.
‘Hide.’ he says to Jo. Jo slips away undercover. He goes up to the fence and swipes the pole through the invisible beams. There is a blinding flash and the end of the pole bursts into flames. Ra drops the pole and runs back into the woods.
‘You watched me strip that pole.’ says Jo.
‘You didn’t ask.’
‘Yeah, but……’
‘You looked like you were enjoying yourself.’
‘Hmmmmm…….’ says Jo. She grins at Ra evily. ‘You…..’ They both freeze. An aircraft engine sounds overhead. They watch a two EST aircraft land just their side of the fence. The EST get out. Ra and Jo already have their light pistols drawn. They fire simultaneously.
Both EST fall to the ground.
‘Ok, how did you know they’d land this side of the fence?’ asks Jo.
‘I didn’t.’ replies Ra. They climb into the aircraft. Jo takes the pilot seat.
‘How do you think we start this thing?’ asks Jo. Ra flips a few controls and eventually finds the on switch. The engine roars into life. Jo grasps the control stick and they soar above the trees.
‘Over there.’ points Ra. Jo turns the craft. ‘Set it down there.’ Jo spies a small clearing in the wood. She deftly sets the craft down and they leap out, running for the trees.
‘Ok, we can slow down now.’ says Ra. Jo stops running and looks round, The aircraft is out of sight. Ra starts whistling the march from ‘The Great Escape.’
‘What’s that?’ asks Jo.
‘Oh, I call it a ‘march’. It’s a kind of war song. I’m not sure what it’s for yet, but I’m sure I’ll find a use for it one day.’
‘It’s kind of nice, in a stilted sort of way.’ says Jo.
‘It’s for stilted soldiers.’ says Ra. He continues whistling.
Eventually, the woods end and the fighter base becomes visible.
‘Shhhh!!!!’ hisses Jo. Ra smirks and holds up his hands. They crouch down and approach the edge of the wood.
‘I’m willing to bet this is their only fighter base. If we can put it out of action, they won’t be able to attack us on the way out, or our buddies on the way in. Any ideas, Wing Commander?’
‘Well,’ says Jo, ‘we could destroy that.’ She points at a building with large antennae and dishes on it’s roof. ‘That would blind them.’
‘It seems a shame not to take all these fighters as well.’ says Ra.
‘You take the fighters, I’ll take the building. I’m feeling destructive.’ says Jo.
‘Go.’ says Ra. Jo backs into the woods and disappears. Ra runs toward the nearest fighter, light pistol drawn. It’s about 30 milis and he makes the fighter without being detected. He crouches behind one of the fighter’s landing pads. He looks over toward the hangers. There are a few EST technicians attending the hangered fighters. No one else is in sight. He climbs into the pilot’s seat and studies the controls. He aims his light pistol at the control panel and fires a short burst . The control panel melts. Ra gets out and looks about again. No one has noticed his vandalism. He ducks under the craft and races toward the next one.
Jo creeps out of the wood. After surveying the surroundings, she runs toward the building. The door is on the far side. Expecting guards, she steals around the corner, light pistol at the ready. She reaches the next corner and flattens against the wall. She peeks round the corner and immediately ducks back. She’s spotted two EST guards.
‘One, two, three….’ She swings around the corner.
The guards crumple, two limbo dancers in limbo. Jo races to the door.
Ra reaches the next fighter. He’s spotted at least thirty more, and his first idea is seeming a bit long winded now. He climbs into the pilot’s seat and looks for the self destruct control. After a while, he finds it. He breathes a sigh of relief. It doesn’t require a key. He looks out at the other fighters. If he can self destruct one in the middle, they should all go. About four hundred micros and he’s among the flock. He fries the control panel and climbs out of the craft. He hears a sizzling sound by his left ear and immediately crouches behind the nearest landing pad. He swings round to find his attacker and spots a guard just outside the hanger with a light sniper. He curses. His light pistol is out of range. He pulls out his transceiver.
‘Hi Cat.’
‘I’m kinda pinned down. Could you sort something?’ asks Ra. More guards are appearing. The first guard points straight at Ra and the others follow his gaze. ‘Quickly?’ pleads Ra.
One by one the guards fall.
‘Found a light sniper.’ crackles Jo’s voice.
‘Strategy without the ability to implement it is like stupid, man.’ Excerpt: ‘Ra’s Greatest Wits’. Jo Trigestimus.