Monday, October 27, 2008


Note: One of the problems with writing fan fiction is that sometimes one can come up with a better story. I'll have to incorporate stuff from THE WAY OF BEING into the background of this one.


by Leslie Bates

Chapter One

The klaxon suddenly woke her up.

As she came to consciousness she could hear the voice of a slightly annoyed young man announcing something.


The ship’s klaxon sounded again.

It took her a moment to remember that her name was Joan Sherman, and that she was a Lieutenant (Junior Grade) in the Navy of the Republic of Freya.

Oh, and that she was also the captain of the Freya Navy Ship Reliable.

Joan donned and zipped up her gray shipboard jumpsuit. She didn’t bother to put on any shoes before punching the button that opened the door of her tiny cabin.

The first thing Joan noticed as she stepped onto the cramped bridge of the Reliable was that there were no stars, planets, or other bodies visible in the forward windows. There was only the unlit dull gray of Jumpspace.

There was no real emergency, only a randomly scheduled battle drill.

But as the captain Joan still had to play her role in the exercise.

There were three other people on the bridge when she entered it.

Sitting in the pilot’s seat was the executive officer, Ensign Hal Banning. At the fire control station running a simulation of the tactical scenario was the gunner, Petty Officer Third Class Jim Ripley. He was only wearing the tee shirt and boxer shorts that he normally slept in.

Standing on deck was the Chief of the Boat.

Normally a vessel such as the Reliable, an elderly Swift class multi-mission sloop, one of the smallest craft capable of transiting Jumpspace, would only rate a Petty Officer Third Class, or Second Class at best, as the senior noncommissioned officer on board.

The Republic of Freya Navy had very politely asked a retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Freya Colonial Space Guard, the predecessor service to the Navy, to come out of retirement for one year. Dennis Compton wasn’t quite old enough to be Lieutenant Sherman’s grandfather, but he was fairly close to it.

It was time for the captain to speak.

“What’s the situation?”

Master Chief Petty Officer Compton replied.

“Captain, we have a Federation Tango class patrol ship on an intercept vector to us.” He said. “We are running evasive maneuvers.”

“What the hell do they want?” Said the Lieutenant.

“They want us to surrender.” Said the Master Chief.

Up until about five years ago the Federation was the coalition of English speaking nations and their allies who held political domination over the Earth. The eruption of the Yellowstone super volcano brought an abrupt end to it. With the Federation capital buried under several meters of volcanic ash and anyone who could not leave the planet dying of starvation or killed in the vast planetwide food riot the Federation as an effective political entity was dead.

But the vast fleet of starships paid for by ten billion no longer living taxpayers still existed. Some of those ships were still operated by the coalition of core colonies that claimed to be the continuation of the Federation. Some ships went to those worlds who put in the highest bid for their services. Others simply went pirate.

And some of those had already attacked the Freyani homeworld.

The Tango class patrol ship had four times the size, mass, and firepower of the Reliable and had twice the acceleration. In a fight with conventional weapons the Reliable would lose.

But it didn’t really matter who was in control of the attacking ship. Surrender was simply not an option.

“We are not going to surrender.” She said. “Load the Bird.”

It wasn’t a technically correct order but the gunner understood it clearly.

“Load Mark Two anti-ship weapon, aye, aye.” He replied.

The Reliable carried a single triple weapon turret fitted in what the Freyan Navy called the Bravo configuration. Two beam lasers rated at 750 megawatts each, and a single missile launcher. The missile launcher normally carried three of the Mark One anti-ship missiles in the ready rack.

A basic anti-ship missile such as the Freyan Navy Mark One was a kinetic energy kill system. The warhead was a segmented mass of steel with a bursting charge to scatter the fragments should the missile’s guidance system fail to achieve a direct dead-on impact on the target.

But it was understood by the political and military leaders of the Republic of Freya that not all of their patrol vessels would have the upper hand in every situation. Thus a “battery-round”, which was one weapon per launcher, of Mark Two anti-ship weapons would be issued to each patrol ship regardless of its size.

The Mark Two anti-ship weapon carried a five kiloton boosted fission nuclear warhead. In the parlance of the patrol forces of the Freyan Navy it was called The Bird or The Finger. It was simply the weapon of last resort.

In the aft section of the ship in the accessway to the single turret the rest of the crew practiced the loading procedure with blue painted inert practice rounds.

On the bridge Lieutenant Sherman turned to the Master Chief and gave him an order.

“Chief of the Boat, unlock the safe.” She said.

“Unlock the safe, aye, aye.” He replied.

On the aft end of the bridge a bright and shiny box was bolted to the bulkhead. The Master Chief dialed the combination of mechanical lock on the box. With the final click of the lock he opened the box, reached in and picked out one of the two manila
envelopes in the box. The first envelope was marked with a red stripe and sealed with red colored wax. The other envelope had no markings and was merely closed with the flap in.

The Master Chief picked out the second envelope and handed it to Lieutenant Sherman.

Joan opened the envelope and removed the practice arming key for the Mark Two anti-ship weapon. She turned to the ship’s gunner and spoke.

“Fire Control, what is the status of the Mark Two?”

“Captain,” he said, “I show the Mark Two loaded and ready to launch. Firing solution is laid in.”

“I am arming the weapon.” She replied.

Lieutenant Sherman turned and stepped towards the pilot’s station.

On top of the forward control panel between the pilot’s and co-pilot/navigator’s seats was bolted a small shiny box with two key slots and red and a yellow light. Joan inserted the key into the slot under the yellow light.

“I am arming the weapon.” She said.

She turned the key and the yellow light lit up.

“Captain.” Said the Gunner. “I show the weapon is armed.”

“Launch weapon.” Lieutenant Sherman ordered.

“Launch weapon, aye, aye!” The Gunner replied.

The Gunner pressed a button and watched the results on the fire control display.

“Weapon away!” he yelled.

Joan heard the click of a stopwatch being stopped. She turned to the Master Chief to see that he had pulled the stopwatch from a pocket in his shipboard jumpsuit.

“How did we do?” She asked the Master Chief.

“We passed, Ma’am.” He replied.

“And?” She said.

“We could do better, Ma’am.” Said the Master Chief.

Ensign Banning in the pilot’s seat failed to suppress his own groan.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Quote of the Day

"There is no such thing as an Ubermensch. There are only deluded fools who believe that they are superior beings."

-- Patricia Weymouth-Clarke, President of the Ursa Major Confederation


Friday, October 17, 2008

Quote of the Day

"When one makes a bloodcurdling statement one should not have to also say. 'and I mean it!'"

-- Ashleigh Dahl, The Path of Empire

Monday, October 06, 2008

Quotes of the Day

The Universe doesn't care how neat your theory is.

-- Professor Simon Weymouth, on book tour for The End of Utopia, 2101.

Martians (colonists) take pride in their work, of course Martians actually do work.

-- Elizabeth Anderson, Chief Administrator, Hellas City, Mars. Quoted in the Report on the Failure of the Utopia Planitia Colony, 2095.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Way Of Being, Chapter Two

The Way of Being

By Leslie Bates

Chapter Two

“There are those who believe that they are superior intellects. They choose to believe things which are often contrary to good old common sense. And of course they believe that the rest of us would benefit from listening to them drone on and on about what they believe ... in the aftermath of the loss of the third Mars Direct mission these voices, which had largely been silent since the end of the Final War, rose up and spoke as one saying that we, the Human race, should not waste any further effort in exploring and colonizing other planets until all our problems on Earth were solved. This, given the usual ideology of the self-appointed superior intellects, was taken to mean the establishment of the global socialist collective ... My Uncle John’s* answer to them was that we will NEVER solve all of our actual problems on Earth. And not only should we NOT bet the future of Humanity on the Final Peace actually being final, we should also note that we live in a dynamic universe and that unstoppable extinction events are still possible. Therefore it is absolutely essential that we establish permanent self-sustaining Human communities off of the Earth. On other planets of the Solar System and ultimately on the planets of other stars in our galaxy.”

– Francis Harding, Fifth President of the Federation

Lieutenant Elizabeth Adams, the Captain (Gold Crew) of the Freya Colonial Space Guard Ship Reliable, finished her second set of fifty push-ups for the day and turned over to do her second set of fifty sit-ups, this in turn would be followed by a run on the ship’s treadmill. Doing two sets of exercises a day was not as much a matter of diligence on her part as it was more a means of relieving the inherent boredom of performing a patrol in space.

But it didn’t hurt her either.

The exercise routine also allowed Elizabeth to mentally focus on something other than the most recent message from her mother announcing the birth of a son to her youngest sister Hannah and the often repeated question of when she was going to leave the Space Guard and get married.

Elizabeth Adams was the third of five sisters. Colonial families, even well off upper class families like hers, were generally larger than the families who remained on Earth. But was it really necessary for her to marry and add her own brood to the new generation of colonists as well?

And who the hell was she going to marry anyway?

Lieutenant Adams was called to the bridge before she finished her run on the treadmill. She folded the treadmill back into its stowage slot, grabbed her towel, and wiped off the sweat as she walked to the bridge.

It wasn’t a long walk. The Reliable was a Swift Class multi-mission sloop that the Freya Project had purchased second hand from the Federation Space Force. At 1400 cubic meters in volume the Swift was smallest standard vessel that could generate a stable jump field. And of course the designers would try to stuff as many components as possible into the tiny flattened bottle shape of the hull.

Elizabeth stepped through the sliding hatch onto the bridge. Standing watch on the bridge was the Chief of the Boat. As a general rule he preferred to sit in the navigator’s seat on the right side of cramped control space of the Reliable.

“What do you got, Chief?” Said the Lieutenant.

“Emergence from jumpspace.” Said the Chief. “It’s a two-hundred tonner. Transponder signal says it’s a space force Ashland class.”

Elizabeth picked up the clipboard she kept by the pilot’s seat and searched through the collected notes on it.

“It should be one of the ships carrying the new Governor General of Loki and his party.” Said the Lieutenant. “Transmit the greeting as planned.”

“Should we mention what’s been going on dirtside?” Said the Chief.

“No.” Said Elizabeth. I think he will far more pissed off if it is a complete surprise.”


The Meridian appeared after only six hours and forty-five minutes.

The immense disk of the Meridian was the first to settle on it’s landing legs at the primitive landing facility on Loki. There wasn’t much to the facility, which by the standards of the Federation only qualified as Class E, the lowest rating for an actual starport.

The control tower was a tiny room jutting out of the small whitewashed concrete block building that served as the administration building and terminal with three picture windows that slanted inward. The landing pad was little more than a cleared area that was covered over with gravel. There were also three sheet steel structures constructed as warehouses but with no wares to house.

What passed for a refueling facility was a small pump and a pipe to the nearest small lake. A visiting ship’s onboard fuel purification plant would have to separate the hydrogen from the oxygen and other contaminants.

The barely streamlined brick of the Epping Forest circled the field before she made her landing. She was about one third the size of the Meridian.

The manager of the starport floated his air raft, a gravitic descendent of the Jeep, out to the debarkation ramp of the Meridian. He settled the air raft onto the gravel and jumped out and strode confidently over to the large and obvious authority figure in civilian clothes who was the first to debark from the Meridian.

“Good afternoon, Governor General,” said the starport manager, “I’m Lloyd Robertson, the starport manager. Welcome to Loki, sir!”

The large obvious authority figure went into a fit of booming laughter.

“Um...” the starport manager ummed.

“Sergeant Major Anatoly Stedenko.” The large man introduced himself with an obvious Russian accent. “Formerly of the 58th Security Police Battalion out of Smolensk.”

Lloyd the starport manager stared.

“The Old Man asked me to come along when he got the job. He’s over on the Epping Forest.” Said the retired Sergeant Major.

“If you run over to it now you should catch him before he disembarks.”

Stedenko laughed again as the hapless starport manager leapt back into his air raft to speed over to the Epping Forest.

* John Andrew March, Founder and First President of the Federation. He was not actually an uncle to Francis Harding, the son of British Prime Minister Sarah Harding, but there are some grounds to believe that John and Francis were actually biological cousins.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Quote of the Day

"A Carthaginian Peace is better than no peace at all."

-- John Andrew March, Last President of the United States and First President of the Federation.