Thread: Dawn
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Old March 13th, 2008, 02:57 AM

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Default Re: Dawn


Zezzis system
...onboard CDS West End...

Captain O’Rourke was ready for this moment. She, along with the light cruiser Montreal and the repair ship Alice Springs were guarding the warp point back to Velocitas. She had trained long hours. She had served as an operations officer on Southampton. She had participated in battles, but was not in command of any. She was always carrying out someone else’s orders. She longed for the chance to prove to herself – not for the ability to impress others with her accomplishments. She wanted to know herself that she could handle the responsibility of leading her crew into harm’s way and safely back out again.

Oh yes, she was ready.

The Sithrak were giving her the opportunity. What was presumed to be an expeditionary force of one frigate and one supply freighter was trying to make it to the warp point. O’Rourke had followed standard procedures – hailing, warning, interspersing; but the Sithrak didn’t respond. Finally, on their third attempt to get to the point, the freighter turned away to run and the frigate closed on the Dawn ships.

O’Rourke was in command of the blocking force. She sent Montreal ahead of her, and followed behind. Alice Springs needed no encouragement to clear the field. Scans of the frigate showed it was woefully outgunned. It didn’t stop, however. When the frigate got inside West End's missile envelope, it didn’t stop. When it was hit by one of those missiles, it finally slowed down.

Montreal was closing onto the Sithrak, and opened fire with its three anti-proton beams. Montreal took hits from the Sithrak DUC, but the shield regenerator had the shield at almost full strength before the Sithrak could fire another shot.

West End launched a second volley of missiles, and then shut its targeting computer down. O’Rourke was operating on a limited supply amount, and Montreal should have no problem finishing off the frigate. She didn’t, and the resulting explosion was something of an epiphany for Katherine O’Rourke. She realized she was the reason that 100 lives – alien or not – were no longer part of the galaxy.

She ordered the force to stand down, and the freighter exited the system. They wouldn’t have caught her before she escaped, and O’Rourke finally had her trial by fire. She knew she had won, but she also felt she lost.

She now knew why Captain Harrison and her instructors didn’t really say much about their combat experiences. She wondered if they felt this much shame as well.

She ordered Montreal to hold the point, and she moved West End two sectors into the system to join up with the Pinta that just entered the system. Together, they would colonize one of the gas giants in the system. O’Rourke hoped she would feel better when they would be building a colony instead of destroying lives.

Chazzwazzer Star System…
...onboard CDS Harvester 004 in asteroid field #3...

James Cabrera was fast becoming a wealthy man. One of the first captains of the Harvester class mining ships, his radiation resources were flowing like gas out of a nebula. His crew was also very handsomely rewarded. He was able to arrange for some “unofficial” shuttle flights planetside for his crew, and had taken advantage of the opportunity to enjoy some of the activities that were just this side of legal that some traders offered.

Today, though, all hands were onboard, as the supply shuttle was due in. Cabrera was always nervous when another ship came into the field with his freighter. He knew most of the shuttle pilots, and they were all good enough men and women; but flying in and amongst rocks that weighed on the order so several kilotonnes required a skill all its own.

The shuttle docked, and supplies were being transferred. One passenger on the shuttle got off, and was flanked by two people wearing intelligence directorate uniforms. Before they made it out of the hangar, the workers had already passed the word that some very inhospitable types were on their way into the ship probably to see the captain. Cabrerra knew they were coming, but where would he go?

Cabrerra was contemplating how much a fine was for illegal activities on a planet when the door opened. The woman in the middle of the uniformed officers spoke.

“Mr. Cabrerra?”

Not ‘Captain’, but ‘Mister’, thought Cabrerra. Oh well, might as well see what they want.

“Yes, I am. And who might you be?”

The woman smiled.

“I have a special consignment you need to view and sign for.”

Cabrerra didn’t understand.

“I haven’t ordered anything like that. And I haven’t received any requests to assist the Navy.”

Technically, the Navy couldn’t order a civilian ship to participate in a purely military matter, but saying no to them wasn’t really a good idea. The woman looked a bit sheepish.

“Well, there’s the rub, Mister Cabrerra. We’re not exactly Navy, or Empire, for that matter.”

Cabrerra now caught on. Smugglers. He had been approached before about using his ship as a “drop”, but the price was always too low.

Cabrerra smiled back at them.

“Well, let’s go see what you have, shall we?”

Together, the group made their way back to the hangar. The supplies were finished off-loading, and the group approached a container near the shuttle.

Cabrerra approached it, but was stopped in his tracks when the two security guards leveled their weapons at him. Cabrerra backed up and raised his hands.

“Whoa, fellas – just wanted to take a look. I’ll sit right here if you want me to.”

The woman spoke again, but there was a distinct difference in her mannerism.

“Captain Cabrerra, I am Lieutenant Isly of the Intelligence Directorate. You are under arrest for illegal activities while operating with an Empire contract. You will accompany us. Your second-in-command is now in command. Please step into the shuttle, Captain.”

Cabrerra rubbed his chin while he considered his options. The hangar crew stopped what they were doing and were starting to approach the group, but their – and Cabrerra’s – options dwindled to zero when six more armed men emerged from the shuttle. Cabrerra made up his mind quickly.

“Okay, Lieutenant, I’ll go with you. Let’s get this cleared up, shall we?” He turned to his second-in command. “I should only be a few days – and a whole lot poorer,” he winked. Then he turned and boarded the shuttle.

Chazzwazzer-Nekkar warp point...

The shuttle docked with a freighter, that much Cabrerra had surmised. But no one got out of the shuttle. Through the docking port, the shuttle’s occupants had access to the freighter’s computers and displays. Cabrerra was watching the main view as the freighter approached the warp point. He seemed confused.

“Lieutenant, just where exactly are we going?”

The lieutenant was staring at Cabrerra as if sizing him up. Then, after an interminable pause, she answered him.

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