Between: Part 1

Excerpts From the Interstellar News Network:

New Developments in the Issakass War
The Issakass First Fleet that had been attacking the Hardor Imperium appears to be in disarray following the destruction of its flagship. The flagship had been directing an attack on Hardor Prime when it turned and rammed another battleship of its own fleet.

At approximately the same time, the ships of the Issakass fleet began to fire upon themselves, resulting in losing 50% of their fleet before they managed to withdraw and turn off their weapons.

When the flagship was boarded after the battle, Hardor forces discovered that the command staff of the Issakass flagship had been killed with bladed weapons, in some cases beheaded. Laser scoring from within the bridge indicates the personnel were aware of the attacker, but unable to stop the being.

Additional inspection of the flagship’s computer systems indicate that it had released an update to the fleet’s friend or foe recognition database that misidentified Issakass ships as hostile vessels. It’s believed the fleet’s automated weapons’ use of that database caused the fleet to fire upon itself.

Until four years ago, the Issakass were best known for their merchant ships which could be found throughout the galaxy. Armed with devastating weapons whose designs are based on technology recovered from archeological sites, the reptilian Issakass are now engaged in a war of conquest that includes nearly sixty systems and more than five fronts… (More)

Traveler Advisory: The Border with Human Space
Travel within human space is restricted due to the violent and dangerous nature of the inhabitants, but those who must travel within its boundaries should use Xiniti patrolled jump gates. Of particular note is the Precursor archeological site in System 5151 of the Human Quarantine.

More than fifty ships have disappeared while investigating the site. Thirty of the fifty were armed…(More)

Human Ascendancy’s Fleet on the Move
A naval task force from the Human Ascendancy, humanity’s oldest and most aggressive post-Abominator nation has been seen on the border of Alliance and Human Quarantine space.

Reports indicate that they may be traveling toward the K’Tepolu system…(More)

* * *

We came out of blink space into the H’spar system with not one, but two ships behind us. One ship would have made sense. The colonists’ ship (named—I’m not kidding—The Bug’s Revenge), a bulky and slow design usually used for cargo, lumbered after us. Behind it, however, flew a much smaller ship. I knew the wedge shape. It was a Stinger class deep space fighter, a ship used throughout the galaxy.

The Human Ascendancy assigned them to government agents that needed to travel through hostile systems, a phrase that accurately described most systems in human space—even within the Human Ascendancy.

It hailed us. “Bug’s Revenge and Xiniti ship surrender. You can’t outrun us or out fight us. Your only hope is to stand down and appeal to our mercy. Breeders, your escape was an impressive feat that only makes your gene lines worth more, not less. Come back now and your indiscretion will be forgiven. Resist and we’ll destroy you despite your value.”

The Bug’s Revenge broadcast a woman’s voice. “Ascendancy ship. Thanks for your offer but we’re not stopping. We don’t want to go home and breed warriors for the military.”

Turrets (at least five) popped out of the Bug’s Revenge’s skin and that hull glowed. Interesting. It wasn’t like my ship’s shields, but they had shields too. It appeared that theirs had been integrated into the hull.

The Stinger fighter took the pointed invitation to leave and zagged toward the right.

It would be nice to say that all our problems were solved and we continued peacefully on to the next jump gate, but that wouldn’t have been true.

What actually happened is that I used my implants and extended my thoughts in the direction the ship had turned, seeing one thing I’d expected and many things I didn’t. What I expected to see was the gas giant H’spar and the four populated ice worlds that orbited it. What I did not expect to see was a Human Ascendancy carrier cruiser. It was launching fighters.

Even with The Bug’s Revenge’s unexpected fitness for fighting, we didn’t have a chance and I knew it. That, of course, made it all the more irritating when the ship’s AI started communicating with me.

[I’ve run several thousand simulations and you don’t successfully fight your way across the system to the next jump gate in any of them.]

“I guessed,” I told it.

[I’d recommend a strategic withdrawal.]

“In process,” I said and opened communications with the colonists’ ship.

“Start your near space drive and follow us,” I told the captain.

“That won’t do any good,” he said. “We won’t reach the next system for years with a near space drive and they’ve probably mined near space around the system’s second jump gate.”

“Have you ever followed another ship through jump? Follow us and make sure your FTL envelope matches ours. Ours will change twice, once to jump and once to blink.”

“That’s impossible for a ship your size,” he said, his voice growing louder.

“It’s not,” I said, and transitioned the ship into near space. The Bug’s Revenge followed. The lack of other options had made me more persuasive than normal.

We passed through jump space into blink space and out into normal space with the colonists’ ship behind us, and one less secret.

16 thoughts on “Between: Part 1”

    1. Heh, Howard Taylor (Schlock Mercenary) fell into the “not” category, but his review is entertaining.

    1. Sorry about that… It’s supposed to feel like an excerpt, so I put in “More” so that it would feel more like one. I wish there were more, but I put in exactly the amount that I thought would be interesting.

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