THE LOPER:- The Chase

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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

THIRTY-EIGHT

Time passed as Hav and the Admiral waited on the arrival of the freighter ‘Khan’ and the Officers twiddled their thumbs until the craft slammed back into normal space, close enough to shake the Coltimma for several seconds. The Admiral immediately got on to the Communications Officer and she paged a ‘stand to’ order to the freighter. The helm officer targetted the weapons to emphasise the point and Have started off for the teleport bay to deal with boarding the ship. He accepted a comm from the deck officer so the teleport operator could lock on for the return trip and he entered the transport room. He picked up a weapon from the Arsenal Officer and checked it over along with his padded militia armour. “It has a stun setting,” he asked.

“Aye, sir,” the Officer replied, confirming the models capabilities and verbally telling Hav how to switch between the settings as the two other security types going with him looked on.

He accepted the weapon and hopped onto the pad for transit. “Ready when you are, Lieutenant,” Hav said blithely. The operator carried out procedure.


Hav and his colleagues arrived on the bridge of the Khan and the former security Officer took the layout into account as he kept his weapon trained on the floor close to the Captain’s Canine feet. “Stand away from your stations,” he ordered and the two sat officers swivelled their chairs towards him. The two Militia covered them as the Canine stepped forward.

“This is outrageous,” he blustered, “what right do you have to board us like this?”

“Federal search warrant,” Hav replied. “Suspicion of smuggling contraband and aiding in the escape of a wanted fugitive. That sort of thing. We’re going to strip search your ship, Captain. How thoroughly we do so is up to you.”

The Captain growled lightly and ground his teeth. “You’ll get no resistance from us. Let’s get this over and done with.”


“In a way,” Januvitski said, lying on her back underneath the backup power generator couplings, re-routing power lines so they travelled through the secondary generator, “it’s quite lucky we red-lined everything a week or so ago.”

“Why’s that,” Katara asked, being able to hear the Human over the engine due to having exceptional ears.

“Pardon,” Jan asked, looking over to her friend as the Vixen crouched next to the metalwork.

Katara winced as she remembered how bad Human ears were and raised her voice. “I SAID ‘WHY’S THAT?”

“Oh, well, we’d never have been working on how to stretch things out if we hadn’t. Running the power through the secondary generator slows the power down slightly as it diverts but it lessens the pressure on the main…”

“JAN! IT WAS MY IDEA!”

The Human laughed as she finished the connections. “Suppose it was.” She pushed her trolley out from under and sat up. “Just telling you how brilliant it was,” she said, her face wet from the heat.

Katara threw a towel at her to plug up the leaking. “I DID… I did say it was my idea, didn’t I?”

“You taking the blame if it doesn’t work?”

“My idea. YOUR endeavour. If it fails,” she finished, helping the Human up, “it’s all your fault.” She released the Human and stepped over to a control panel. She flicked the comm. “Sub generator team to Groal.”

<”Groal here, Katara. Things ready?”>

“Yup. We’ll monitor from here. Run the power.”

<”You’re not in command yet, Katara,”> Groal reminded her.

“Run the power, sir,” she snarked.


“Lappineans use armour provided by Lappara tech,” Jaqui instructed her senior staff from the sickbay bed as Barleycorn tried to work around her. “The most up to date version has a small scale deflection shield generator so you may need to adjust the particle gain upwards to punch through it. Downside to that is it means stun’s off the table if you’re facing one of them. It’s kill and maim only.

“Lovely talk of blood for a medical bay,” Night complained, making sure her scalpels were all secured.

“Can’t be helped, Night. If we get boarded these things need to be known.” She turned back to the security crew. “My lot think of speed as the best way to deal with an enemy so they’ll try to compromise Engineering before anywhere else. ‘Cut out the heart and the legs will stop’ as Uldin used to say. Charming philosopher she was. Double the team assigned to Engineering and arm the maintenance workers. They’re trained, might as well make use of them and, unlike the engineers, they don’t have an assigned weapon.”

“Stun weapons,” one of the officers asked.

“If stun weapons won’t work against the invaders,” Night contributed in exasperation, “what’s the point of assigning them? Other than to make people feel better because they’ve got a weapon in their hands?”

Jaqui chuckled. “I’ll handle the chat, Night. She’s right, though. Give them same as you’ve got and tell them how to switch power. They’ll still get through. It might take a bit longer is all.” She kept to herself the thought that a second was an eternity in a firefight.


Hav moved amongst the crew, scanning with his detector that, unknown to them, was a medical scanner, checking for life signs and biometrics. It had left him in the uncomfortable position of knowing one of them was in the early stages of dementia and another had arthritis in the elbow. Maybe he’d tell them later, if he got a chance. He’d been moving it across the cargo holds as well, ‘looking’ for contraband and heat sources. “Right,” he said, “one of you’s going to tell me why you’re carrying so much water in bay three, hmm?” He grinned, the combination of rodent and Wolf teeth casting him in a creepy way that brooked little argument. “Open it up.”


Ten minutes later, Hav had Yilla Sobrii in custody, having found him in the water tank, doing laps. He’d tried to fight, of course, but there wasn’t much point as he was surrounded. He’d come without anything more than trousers and Hav commed the Admiral. “We have a prisoner here,” he announced. “Ready to beam back, if you could.”

<”I was about to call you, Hav,”> the Admiral replied. <”A militia ship’s just turned up with a warning. It’s not a freighter they’re here to meet.”>

He paused and Hav wondered why until they fizzled out of existence and returned on the bridge of the Militia ship. Point to point, Hav thought, that’s never good.

“It’s a warship,” the Admiral finished.

“And it’s here,” the helm officer said as the cruiser dropped into normal space.
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

What a great chapter you posted! This is just FABULOUS!
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

THIRTY-NINE

The cruiser shifted in closer to the five Militia ships as it began broadcasting a jamming signal to prevent the ships talking to each other but the Admiral, veteran of a dozen small scale encounters, had a few ideas up his sleeve and he turned to his officer of the deck. “Send the instructions for star running,” he instructed. The officer complied as Hav beetled over.

“Star formation,” he asked.

“Five of us,” Patch told him. “Five points on a standard star. ‘Star formation. Take off in all directions.” He pointed at the ship. “That thing can’t follow more than one of us.”

“Hopefully it doesn’t follow us.”

“Sir…” the helm officer intoned as something pulsed from the Lappinean ship. It travelled halfway between the ships before detonating, casting a crimson light across space and covering the ships with a light that their sensors could barely read. “What in the stars was that?”

“Unknown,” the Admiral mused. “Lieutenant Keel, operate Star…”

“Sir,” Keel replied, “we can’t.” The officer of the deck threw his hands up, exposing his pinkish palmpads. “Whatever that was, it’s destabilised our engines ability to create a warpspace bubble.”

The Admiral gritted his teeth, grinding them together hard enough to crack a section of incisor off. “Then signal Star attack. We disable, destroy or hold until the Loper can get here.”

“Easier said than done,” Hav mused, looking at a ship that was almost eight times their size.


Hawle kept his feet flat on the floor as people hurried to station around him, They were, according to Sarah, twenty minutes out. The situation had been visible on sensors for a moment before blotting out for some reason and they weren’t in visual range yet. Weapons Officer Garrity, a large Canine of the Faoil clan, had the plasma cannons running to full power and the high powered torpedoes ready in case of need. The shields were rated to near one hundred percent and he was still working with maintenance and engineering to get the ‘near’ part rubbed out. Even Match had himself strapped down for this one. “Did we get any scans of the Lappinean craft,” he asked the Raitchian.

“The only thing we got was rough size,” he confirmed. “She’s a cruiser class, sir.”

“They always are. How’s things going with the beacon, Greyson?”

Stikka took a second to realise the Captain was talking to him and almost flinched as he turned his attention to the Captain. “Uh, it’s online and transmitting,” he remarked. “But we have no clue if anyone’s listening to it.”

“Old Lappinean saying, Greyson,” Hawle replied. “Always assume ears are listening.”

“And eyes watching,” Raven grumbled. “Something’s wrong here.” Hawle cast his gaze to her. “If that’s a standard communications blackout, why hasn’t a Militia ship come at us on an intercept course and gotten past it?”

“Theorising,” Stikka said, running through the data he could access. “Well, there could be a number of options including they just simply haven’t thought of it yet? Or… there’s a more troubling one.”

Hawle crossed his legs and rested his arms on his armrests. “Go ahead, Greyson?”

“According to certain news sites, a Lappara Corp scientist was working on a way of disrupting subspace temporarily. The last report listed states they didn’t have any luck but I can’t find anything about her for the last year. So..”

Hawle nodded. “They may well have kept at it.” He helped himself to a mint. Ten minutes out.


A Militia ship sparkled into death, sending out a swirling mass of hull fragments that glinted in the light of the nearest sun as the engine core flashed and strobed, losing life support through the exposed hull as Patch and his three remaining ships kept working at the cruiser. Their efforts were being hampered by the dozen Lappara Corp Odan Fighters that swarmed around them like locusts, snipping away at shields that were already being pushed by the cruisers’ mounted weaponry. The ship twisted to port, losing the lock on target as a pulse of energy that would have crippled it shoved under the belly of the craft instead. Hav stood ready to defend the ship or, indeed, to teleport over and attack their enemy if they got the chance. But Patch wasn’t hopeful. They needed to break the cruiser’s shields to teleport across. It was far more likely it was them going to be boarded. Or die. One or the other.

“The disruption field appears to be dissipating, sir,” the helm officer told him as the console to her left blinked out.

“Bit of a pointless thing now,” he advised, “seeing as how we couldn’t get away if we tried.”


Maze Hardy had her people ready to launch. Ten left out of the twelve she’d started with a year ago. Combat blooded veterans all now. They hardly needed her advice but she was still the one giving it. Still the one in charge. Still the one to give them the encouraging speech before they flew into combat. Still the one who needed to find the words to say. Words that encouraged without being repetitive. She figured she’d told them these words about fighting for each other and their ship and inevitable justice before but not in the last two or three off the cuff speeches. She told them to scatter and patted the ancient Starlancer the deck chief kept as a runaround and emergency back up. The others followed suit as the old girl had become something of a good luck charm since they’d found it in the Bellaphron’s launch bay, stripped of parts by the Varkonians. They’d patched it up and it was active again, a testament to longevity. Already in flight suits, the group got into their cockpits and readied themselves for the launch, straight into combat.


The ship began to shake and Groal checked his systems before calling up to the bridge.


<”Groal to bridge,”> the voice said through the speakers as the bridge shook with the rest of the ship.

”Go ahead, Groal,” Hawle replied, figuring he knew what was coming next.

<”Our warp bubble is destabilizing somewhat. It’s holding at twenty percent but we really should slow down for safety.”>

“We have to slow down anyhow,” Hawle advised. “We’re here. Chappers, take us in. Sound launch stations. Ready weapons.”


And the Loper returned to normal space minutes from the middle of a firefight.
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Love how casual the Loper actually is about firefights. Hawle won't let it get him down. Great chapter!
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FOURTY


Maze led the squad out into attack formation, pulling g’s to turn her fighter around to loop towards the enemy. She spoke into her helmet as her sharp eyes picked out the opponents. “Right, before we lose comms, ignore the big ship. Get those Odans away from the Militia ships. Then we can concentrate our fire. Watch each others’ wing and slag them until they surrender. They might not have noticed us but watch for traps. Go!” She slammed the engines to full and sought to be the first into the fight.


Admiral Patch was getting worried. He’d have to admit that. They’d done some damage to the cruiser, he was sure of that, but they’d not been able to concentrate on damaging the ships engines whilst the fighters were attacking. His ships didn’t have anti fighter weaponry on either side, just forward facing and they had to try and cover each other as best they… The ‘Sipsting’ broke up in space as it fell past his viewer, scattered metal raining onto the cruiser’s shields. Two down and his ship was suffering too. He gave passing consideration to handing the prisoner over to them but he knew they were just going to kill them anyway. Holding onto their prize was probably his last chance of a ‘nuts to you’ at them. He checked his service weapon in case he had the chance to engage the enemy in direct combat.


Hav took control of weapons as the officer stationed there was thrown from his chair by the latest impact and landed on his wrist with enough force to make him cry out. Hav took almost no time at all in learning the layout as he’d seen the layout before, on the occasions the Council and Militia had conducted joint exercises. He allowed a passing thought of his loving daughter and an instant of regret that he was risking her suffering loss again but he shuffled that to one side as he concentrated on the current events to make sure that future suffering didn’t come to pass. As the helm officer, a decently attractive Mican, pulled the ship to starboard to avoid incoming fire from one of the Odans. He fired as it shot across the screen but merely grazed it. “You’ll have to do better than that,” she said tersely, not taking her attention from her duty.

“Give me a target I can’t miss then,” he replied, equally tightly.


Galloway sat at the weapons station on the bridge and kept his thumb on the button to fire the cannons at the cruiser as the Loper came in behind her fighters to engage the capital ship. The ship had greater mass than the fighters who used the same amount of thrust to travel the relatively short distance faster. Well, that was how Lieutenant Keele had put it when he’d asked. She might have been ribbing him.

Behind him, Hawle was talking. “Do we still have communications, Dawton,” he asked. The Human replied that ship to ship was out. “Right. That’s the first thing to sort out. Match, find their jamming systems and forward the location to Galloway. Galloway, target at your discretion until you get the location from Match, then break things.”

“Acknowledged, sir,” the Officer replied as the Loper ate up the distance between them and the fight.


The ship shook again and Hav held onto his terminal as the shaking threw others from their chairs. He wished this ship might have seatbelts as the Council ships did. Shielding was down to about fifteen percent now and there was a fighter coming straight towards them, jinking and twisting to evade his fire as the Militia pilot showed herself inferior to the fighter that was blanketing them with weapons fire, striking seemingly without fear until…


...it exploded, the bright light of its expelled atmosphere flashing in space for an instant as something banked to avoid the Militia clipper. “A starlancer,” the Helm shouted.

“Maze Hardy’s Starlancer,” Hav corrected. “The Loper’s here!”

The Helm officer actually laughed slightly. “How can you tell?”

“Her ‘lancer’s a prototype. Altered fuselage for aquatic operations.”

“Target the cruiser again,” Patch ordered. “Now they’re engaging the Fighters we might be able to concentrate on her engines and weapons.” The ship shuddered as the cruiser shredded the last of the shielding and crunched the nose cone of the ship inwards. “And get us out of their cannon angle!”

“Aye, sir,” the helm replied before muttering ‘as if that hadn’t occurred to me’ just loud enough for Hav to hear.

He had to chuckle.


“Well,” Maze Hardy told herself as she banked hard to avoid incoming fire, “they know we’re here now.” The Raitcian checked her screen as weapons fire cartwheeled around her before shifting into a sharp dive and twist to angle back into the firefight. The cruiser was trying to swat at the Militia ships who were trying to do damage to the cruiser’s shields. Given time and no firing back, she presumed they’d be able to do it but, with the fighters now distracted, they had the faintest of chances. She pressed the firing stud and obliterated a fighter to add to her tally. There was excitement in this, she acknowledged, but no joy. Ending a life should never be that. The proximity alert sounded so she used her emergency jets to push herself directly up as an enemy thundered through under her, its guns firing at where she’d been.


“Entering range now,” Match called as the Loper shuddered under the first shots from the cruiser.

“Noted that,” Hawle replied drily as the seatbelts strapped on automatically. “When are they in our range?”

“Now, sir,” Match retorted, not rising to the gag.

“OK. Galloway, I know you know to watch our fighters. Fire at your best target. Chapston, Hawle 13 please.”

“Aye.” He thumbed the icon and fire lanced from the Lopers forward cannons before Chapston pushed them around at an angle to narrow their profile.


“Here we go,”Groal complained as the ship lurched.
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

This was likewise also a really nice chapter! The work you did on it is splendid!
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

An explanation of battle...

FORTY-ONE

The viewscreen shuddered as the Lappinean ship fired on the Loper. Heck the SHIP shuddered if the bridge was anything to go by. They were moving around, trying to keep out of the main cannons’ arc of fire and only having limited success as, to quote Match, the cruiser seemed to have some modifications that weren’t on the blueprints. Like higher power flank weaponry and an aft mounted torpedo launcher that Hawle wasn’t desperate to test out. He held on to his chair from reflex as the restraints stopped him spilling out anyway. The bridge was still intact, despite Hawles’ imagination. “Are we making any dents in their shielding, Match,” he asked as Galloway fired again, scoring a double impact on the field protecting the cruiser.

“Yes, sir,” the Raitchian replied, “her shields are down by about thirty percent since we arrived. Ours are down twenty percent.”

“Oh, that’s good,” Hawle remarked drily, “we’re losing but we’re losing slowly.”


In the middle of the ship, the secure area was full, almost to capacity. It was where the non essential crew and civilians were required to assemble. Ships like the Rodomont had several of these rooms but the Loper was only equipped with two, one in sciences and this one, where Colleen Una, Cedar Kirkwall and Polva had foiund themselves. As Colleen contented herself with keeping civilians, including the handful of children that called the ship home, safe, Polva had tied the padd he’d brought in with him into the sciences terminal on the bridge. It was something that had attracted the attention of Cedar, who peeked with direct curiosity at the numbers.

“It’s Shield power,” the Russellian told him, pointing at numbers. Since the start of the battle. “That’s us, that’s the enemy and that’s the Militia craft.”

“The Militia seem to be doing about as well as we are,” Cedar put in.

“There were more of them when things started,” Polva told him. “And they’re more nimble and harder to hit. Minus side,” he explained, “is that any hit happens over a wider area of hull.”

Cedar nodded. “So a hit takes more power from the shielding as…” He paused, looking confused.

“...The generators are usually smaller,” Polva explained with a tight grin. And less extensive cabling systems. Our stuff…” He paused as the room shook and he imagined dust falling from the ceiling. “...has back ups in all critical places to reroute power.” He felt the distant thrumm of the main weapons firing. “The Militia don’t. No room.”

“Oh, so it’s all things equal?”

“Which is what we don’t want.”


Colleen, in the absence of anyone who could act as a teacher – because the only one the ship had was a hologram program – was taking the five youngsters through some of the nursery rhymes she recalled nanny teaching her. And she had to explain what a ‘bus’ was after the wheels ditty. She asked if the child had ever seen a public transport like that. The Canine chirpily replied that he’d seen cars on his last holiday with his parents. She’d begun thinking he should probably get out more but she reasoned the only reason she knew the things existed was there had been a bus stop at the end of her family mansions’ drive. She’d pestered her mother the one time and they’d ridden the bus to one end of its route and back. She’d been exhilarated to see how others lived, looking goggle eyed at the others of what she’d thought of as lesser class up to that moment in time. How they lived, where they worked and, at one point, having her tutor’s flat pointed out to her. She’d not known what a ‘flat’ was and had been shocked to know it meant someone’s house was split into pieces so others could live there. Travel, they say, broadens the mind and it certainly had hers. The next song, ‘Rhymes with Colanta’ had passed without comment after explaining Colanta was a Mican vegetable.


“What does that mean,” Cedar asked, pointing at one of the figures that blacked out suddenly.

Polva closed his eyes and blew a breath out of his nose in concern. “It means that one of the Militia ships has been destroyed, Cedar.”

“Oh,” Cedar said quietly. “How.. how many..,” he asked timidly.

The technician sighed. “Usually about eighteen lives,” he intoned.

“May the gods collect them.”

“Mm,” Polva murmured, trying not to think about the fact they were regretting the deaths of eighteen people on their side whilst trying to kill hundreds on the cruiser… He kept his grin tight and rictus as the room shuddered and the shield readout on the Loper dropped to forty percent. The scanner readings flickered on the cruisers stats. “We’ve made a hole,” he extrapolated. “One of their shield generators must have failed.”

“What does that mean?”


<”Stikka,”> Hawle’s voice shouted into the teleport room, <”You’re on!”>

Lieutenant Stikka, concealed within combat armour, turned the speaker on to reply for himself and the four security Officers he was taking over there. “Ready to roll, sir. Chief Lalda – no arguments. If you would?”

The Feline in charge of the teleport system – who’d been about to remind the Racon that she WASN’T a Chief as she was the only person in her department – kept her opinion to herself and engaged the transit stream to send the team across.


Stikka’s squad arrived in what appeared to be a tertiary hold and shot the door out. They weren’t staying here and he didn’t have time to have fun with the engineering settings. He tossed the spare comm he’d been carrying into a dark corner of the room and led his team out, heading for the communications station. They’d gone a few minutes into the ship before running into the first of the security patrols in their own armour. Battle was engaged.


“Stikka’s sent the package,” Raven mentioned.

“Yup,” Hawle replied as Galloway scored a direct hit through the strained shields and sent fragments of hull into space around his impact. The Loper rocked and a terminal to Hawles’ side went blank as the power to it overloaded. “Now we just need to do our part or it’s all for nothing.”
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Really hope that they will be able to do their parts then! Though with what they have accomplished before I'm sure it can be easily done!
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Problem I always have with ship battles is how to make them interesting.

Loper. Pew.

Cruiser. Pew.

Militia ships. Piddly pews.

That's not interesting. That's why I tend to look at what the characters are doing during the fight. It's why I had Polva explaining some of those readout things you always get in Sci-Fi shows (that's why Cedar's there so he has someone to explain it TO) and Colleen's doing something too. Later on in this fight I have the 'no chat' part I try to put in these stories so that's a part, again, from one character's P.O.V. Spaceship battles just aren't interesting. The effects on the people involved, however...
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I can see how the effect of a battle in a spaceship on the crew would be much more fun to write. As you said, just doing a battle scene with them can get boring quickly.
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FORTY-TWO

Stikka fired the wrist mounted cannon and watched as the energy unleashed swept down the hallway and impacted on similar armour that was firing at him. He ducked back behind the bulkhead frame and took stock. His team needed to get through this passageway to get to their target and… Hang on, he thought, this is a bulkhead door. Perhaps that meant..? Was there another way through? Right. He detailed the others to keep the enemy back and reached out to connect with the ship computer. He loathed doing this sort of thing as it made him taste ashes and cinnamon in his mouth, even though he wasn’t eating anything. It was also something distasteful but this was war and one of the eccentricities of the thing was what was considered a secure system. He clicked in through their firewall and accessed low security systems. There it was. There were both of them, in fact. The Emergency teleport system and bulkhead doors. The Racon worked on closing the doors before the enemy charged them.


The Helm Officer held to her course as something ripped a line into Patch’s ship, somewhere close to the engineering section. She hoped that no-one she knew had been hurt down there but she had a suspicion that was just pure optimism on her part. Her friends were dying today; she just had the task of making it as few of them as possible. She flinched as a Starlancer shot across their path as they prepared to engage move A-12 so Mr Hav could target the area of hull the Loper had exposed. She watched as Hav almost shot the Starlancer.

“I don’t think they’d have appreciated that,” Hav admitted tightly.

“Chaos of battle,” she replied. “Still rude, though.”

“Like not knowing your name.”

“Ask me later. Fighting now.”

“O.K.”


The bulkhead opened again. The Lappineans weren’t there. The group glanced into the area and Stikka heard one of the team make a comment as to where the others had gone. Stikka grumbled. “Don’t ask,” he said, disconnecting from the emergency teleport system whilst disabling it. It had been designed to provide emergency teleport to a rescue vessel in the event of a terminal situation. In this case, however, the rescue vessel wasn’t there. He’d also infected the system so it couldn’t pick up non Lappinean life signs so they couldn’t do exactly the same thing to them. Give someone a bad idea… He led the team onwards as others rushed to fill the gap left by the missing defenders.


Maze Hardy almost lost control as five Lappineans appeared in the void before her, one cracking explosively on her shielding, leading to something banging on her starboard nub of a wing, almost tipping her around on the axis. She thought it might be a foot. It certainly wasn’t something she wanted to hit again as it had taken her energy shields most of their charge. When it came to energy charges, a small proportion of incoming energy actually bled back into the shields. Physical strikes like this were something different. They just took and took. Twenty percent, she reckoned. And her atmospheric capabilities were compromised. She wheeled around, out of the firing path of one of the Lappinean fighters and onto another as it tried to lacerate the Militia ship.


“We have incoming,” the officer at Patch’s science station called. “They’re targetting… The bridge!” Hav spun around as he felt his fur stand on end. Teleport beams were incoming and taking shape as Lappineans in light armour. If he’d had time to think about it, he’d know they were keeping the expensive armour back to defend their ship and didn’t expect the Militia to put up much of a fight. They were, he DID think, not expecting to find a Wolf on board! The diminutive, white furred, Wolf sprang from his seat and tackled two of them at the back of the knees as Patch fired on a third and the bridge burst into violence.


In the engineering section of the Loper, Groal kept track with the incoming reports of damage and destruction across the ship. Power lines were down and being rerouted across the ship. The fighter bay doors were jammed shut and comms were fighting to stay operational. He looked over to where Katara and Januvistki were working to keep the lights on in Engineering, The shielding was down to about thirty two percent efficiency and more physical damage was coming in every minute. Every second even. He started work repairing damage caused to the engine by a power surge. It needed bleeding efficiently through into a new system. The trouble was that, if he did it too quickly, it could blow out the conduits. If he did it too slowly, it could cause permanent damage. Normally the automated fault system would deal with it but that was damaged right now, an irony that counted for nothing.


Fuze and Barleycorn were in full flow with minimal nurses, treating lacerations and burns and broken limbs as quickly and efficiently as they could in a medical bay that was looking far too much like a meatball surgery centre. Treated broken wrists and arms and their owners were in the chairs as those with broken legs needed them more. Even they tended to have to move aside when new wounded came in. Fuze pushed the sheet over the face of a Raitchian he’d failed to save after she’d gotten rather to close to a conduit that exploded. His nurse took the bed away as he entered the time and date of final entry and waited for her to pull a fresh bed in from the stock area. They were going to run out if this kept up. But it wouldn’t help for him to stop working. So he wasn’t going to.


“Katara,” Groal shouted as he returned to his terminal, “Januvitski! Get away from there! The thing’s building to blow!”

The Human and the Vixen didn’t need any further encouragement and had taken three or four rapid steps away from the wall before the frame ruptured and exploded, raining shards of metal in all directions before things fell silent in the Engineering department. Groal grabbed a fire extinguisher and stepped over the prone figures so he could get to the white fire dancing in the wall with the pressurised retardant.


Jaqui Pangal complained to the empty room as it shook. She’d discharged herself back to the security Office and was fighting to keep upright in the provided wheelchair as she checked the comm. There were reports of an explosion in engineering. She directed a couple of guards to enter the territory.


Stikka had his objective. He was in the communications suite now. Actually they were trapped in here. The Lappineans were using their battle armoured troops now. But they were outside and he was inside with his people. Well, three of them anyhow. The Racon worked on lowering the jamming field or completely destroying the transmitter to break it. <”They’re cutting through the door,”> Valrix warned as Stikka worked on the system.

“Then keep them occupied,” Stikka grunted, “their comms officer’s trying to keep me out.”

<”Right, sir,”>


Match looked up. “I’m getting another signature coming in,” he warned.

“Friendlies,” Hawle asked.

“I don’t think so...”
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

When have they ever ran into friendlies when it had something to do with a battle? You would think at this point that Hawle would know better. XD Lovely work!
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FORTY-THREE

The battle continued, shaking the ship with every impact as the Lappinean cruiser boxed with the USC Frigate, landing explosive blows despite the lighter fighters best measures to evade and jab. Both Militia mosquitoes remaining still buzzed around, stinging away at the enemy cruiser as best they could. Hawle watched as the screen slid past the underside of the vessel and Gallaway punched a small hole into their hull. The shielding had been weakened here by the simple exponent of them needing the shielding on top, where Hardy and her team, allied with the Militia, had caused damage. The problem was that the Lappinean didn’t have many sensitive spots on her underside and Hawle knew it. But they might still hit something fragile. Of course, the Lappinean could easily hit sensitive spots on the Loper too. The lights cracked off for several seconds as though to prove that. The power rerouted and the illumination came back on. “Keep an ear out for that new ship, Dawton,” the Captain ordered. “Soon as she gets here, tell me what she is.” The bridge shook. Raven reported there were barely any front shields left. “Match, transfer power from aft shields to fore.”

“Aye, sir,” the Raitchian reported. “Back up to… thirty one percent.”

“And we have to keep facing her now,” Raven put in.

“I know but…”

“The Jamming field’s down,” Dawton called, having suddenly heard other voices over the communications system.

“Hawle to Stikka,” Hawle called after slapping his comm.

<”Stikka here,”> the Racon replied. <”Bit busy right now, sir. Would appreciate help before they break in and kill us all.”>

Hawle tutted. He was obviously rubbing off on the cyborg. “You ready for a rescue?”

<”Slightly, sir.”>

“We’ll get on it. Soon as conceivable. Hang in there. Out.” Hawle closed the link and opened one to the teleport chief. “Hawle to Lalda.” No response. He repeated himself. Still nothing. Hawle cursed and gestured to Raven. “Get down there and find out what’s what, Sarina. It could just be the comms down or…”

“It could be the operator,” Raven complained, rising from her seat and taking off at speed towards the back.


She picked up a security officer as she went, dragging him away from his position as she went, stopping beside the teleport office door and trying to open it. Nothing happened when she pressed the stud so she put the manual override to work, opening the small hatch and putting her command key in to release the hand pump. She applied pressure and the mechanism clicked to open the door slightly, enough for her to get her claws in and pull.


The room was quiet and dark, lit only by the sparks of a blown conduit that cast white light onto the broken frame of Chief Lalda, lying prone on the floor in front of the gash. Raven pushed forward quickly, stooping to check for signs of life by touching the side of her neck. Her fingers came away sticky. She breathed out, something Lalda couldn’t do now. There was an ocean of metal in her back. “Raven to Hawle,” she told her comm. “Lalda’s dead. Conduit blew out behind her.” Raven cast her eye over the station. “Teleport terminal’s damaged but probably viable.”

<”Understood,”> Hawle said shakily as the ship shook. <”Get to the emergency terminal. We need Stikka and his team back!”>

“Understood.” She turned to the guard. “Notify the medical station,” she ordered before taking off. “And close that door as best you can!”


Stikka opened fire as the door fell apart and caught one of the Lappineans in the armoured chest. Even with the protection offered by the armour, there was still quite an impact at that range and the hostile wasn’t getting back up right now if, indeed, he ever did again. The others fired into the room. Stikka saw one of the guards take a direct shot and stagger backwards before dropping onto his tailbone and firing back. They weren’t firing inwards with the same power as Stikka’s team were firing outwards and it took a split second to compute that they didn’t want to destroy their own communications systems. But lesser power would still do it, Stikka thought as he fired again, breaking part of the wall next to a head. The owner ducked away as a piece of wall clouted him on the helmet. Where was the beam out? What was keeping the Loper? The ship shook again, dislodging a Lappinean from her position and into the firing arc of two of the Lopers’ team. This one wasn’t going to get back up as the combined power was enough to break the armour over her heart and blast out the back. Stikka watched as Batley died in response. Then he paused as something tubular rolled into the room.


“Got them,” Raven called as she put her knowledge of the teleport system to use in cargo bay one. No-one heard her as she was the only person in there. The system here was, generally, a cargo teleport system but, in cases of emergency, you did what was needed and it could pick up a comm when linked in just as easily as the main system. Raven, having taken a command refresher course on the system five months back, was mostly confident about her being able to use the system under optimal conditions but that was hardly these. She tapped her comm. “Raven to bridge. I’m locked on. Give me five seconds to get them back?” She grimaced. She knew the shields would have to be down to teleport the team. Any hits would be direct to the hull.

<”Five,”> Hawle replied. <”Four...”>

Raven jumped to it as she only had a few seconds left.


Stikka appeared on the cargo dias and reacted as though he’d just been shot as he jumped off. He gesticulated to Raven soundlessly as he still had the battle armour on. She couldn’t hear him protest that he wasn’t a suitcase as two of the others walked off the platform and one lay there unmoving.

“Lalda’s dead,” Raven said, making the gesticulating suit stop mid wave. “Main teleport station’s unusable.” She stopped as an alert sounded.

<”Security to Engineering,”> Dawton’s voice called. “<Repel boarders!”> Stikka sighed silently in Raven’s eye and led the way.
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Somehow I'm thinking things are probably gonna get a lot worse. Gonna be interesting to see how they can pull a win out of this. :D
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FORTY-FOUR

Katara could smell blood. No, that wasn’t right. She was pretty sure she could taste it as she tried to figure out why it was so dark in here. Ah. Her eyes were closed. Things hurt. None of this seemed optimal… Hadn’t there been some sort of panic going on? Her arms hurt. That wasn’t going to stop her getting up. The floor was hard. Her knees hurt. Oh, heck with it, everything hurt. Especially her back. She opened her eyes and things swum back towards sanity as the misty figures started clearing up. She still couldn’t hear anything other than the buzzing but… She growled lightly as things became simple. There was a size seventeen boot in front of her and it didn’t belong to any Lappinean she knew. Which only left Lappineans she DIDN’T know and that meant the enemy was here. She tensed herself and sprung to her feet quickly behind her prey, landing with her hands on his shoulders and her teeth on the back of his neck. He jerked and tried to bring his weapon to bear in the small space they’d found themselves in but Jan had a hold of his gun and was keeping it from getting much of a bead on either of them. She was kind of happy to see Jan was still with them, even if she was struggling to stand against the Rabbit as he fought for his life. He was going to lose too. She could see the blood on Jan’s face and on her back but she could taste his in her mouth and there was no way she was going to let a Rabbit escape her teeth once it was in them. She kept worrying at them, holding his chin with her spare hand to stop him calling out as her teeth pulled through sinew and vein and artery and… A crack ended the struggle. His eyes rolled up and the tooth pressure on her hand slacked as his knees gave way and he slipped down towards the ground. She pulled her blood slicked teeth from his neck and swallowed his lifeblood before gently lying him down on the floor.


She looked around. It was Groal’s Office. HER office, as she thought of it. The room shook. Still in battle, then. Groal must have shifted them in there after… whatever. Something to do with an explosion? Yeah, judging from the pains in her back. The pains that had Januvitski sagging. Katara could SEE those wounds and imagined her own wouldn’t be that much better. She grabbed the office chair and had the Human sit in it. She could see the Humans eyes and their asking her not to go out there. She got it, she really did. But there was no way she wasn’t going to free her ship of the Lappinean… sorry, ENEMY Lappinean forces. She cracked the door open slightly to make sure no-one was looking their way. Then she pointed to Januvitski, put her fingers next to her head like Rabbit ears and imitated firing a shotgun whilst trying to whisper instructions in case the Human could hear her. Then she gave her the gun, imitated the ‘rabbit ears’ again and tried a grin that probably didn’t work with all the blood on her teeth. And the scrap of neck. She stepped over the blood and left the room.


Things were chaotic in the main engine room as she entered. Her nose was cold. She could see Groal crouched behind the engine, swapping fire with two Lappineans in basic combat gear. She wondered where the armoured types were? She caught Groal’s concerned eye as he saw her and gestured for her to get back in the room. She pointed above him at a Lappinean who’d just shot Berkely and was getting ready to shoot the big guy in the back. She threw herself towards the other pair keeping Groal pinned down as he had to twist to aim at the other. Security, she saw, was keeping back the rest of the assault pack just outside the main door as she brought the pair low, spilling one of the guns from their hands before one brought their elbow into her muzzle. She felt the blood of her tongue as she bit into it. It barely mattered, save to remind her of how much pain she was actually in. She kicked out at the Lappinean who’d dropped their weapon and caught him a glancing blow on the hand going for the knife in the sheath as she used her hands to grapple with the other one with the simple premise of keeping his gun away from her. She could feel things getting colder and louder now. Must be blood loss and hearing return, she supposed as she glimpsed Groal shooting true in the seconds before a bolt went through his shoulder. She kept her pressure on and kept trying to kick the other to keep his hand off the knife. A pain in her thigh told her she’d failed and she was going to lose this fight in a short while and what was that bolt of light? Oh, it was Januvitski. She was almost slumped against the door frame now, finding it too painful to move. Her face kept moving, though, which is how Katara knew she was still alive. The Human slowly managed to move her hands upright to the side of the head and impersonated Rabbit ears as Katara punched the surviving Lappinean in the face before putting one hand on her chin, the other on the back of her neck and twisting hard enough to jerk the legs as the fighter became a corpse.


It was hard to move but she pulled herself across to her friend to make sure she was alive and call her a stupid twit for moving, even if she’d saved Katara’s life with her actions. The knife in her thigh was moving with every sensation and she was just about able to get there before she had to acknowledge that moving again wasn’t too smart an idea. She sniffed the air. Nothing but blood. She could see the Human breathing heavily as Solange, that wondrous Feline she hated amongst all others, skidded over with the medical kit and began doing his job as a first aider on Januvitski. She knew he wouldn’t be able to prevent Jan from going to the hunting fields if it was her time but his ministrations just might keep her this side of the bus lane until one of the professionals could get here. It looked like the fighting in the department was finished anyhow. That was the best way to account for the fact she couldn’t hear it above the whistling now. Solange was smiling; trying to look encouraging as he worked on Janiuvitski.


Someone came into the room. Shone a light into her eyes that she batted away and moved Solange aside so they could work on Jan. She managed to work out it was Fuze. Had she just dozed for a second? Better not let that happen again. She told Fuze, probably too loudly, that he’d better save Januvitski or she’d flay him alive and didn’t Notice Solange smirk at the thought whilst he started doing what he could to keep her heart going, providing stimulants and shots whilst patching up the wounds he could. She watched the Rat wave a couple of properly armoured types over to carry Jan and her before he injected something into her neck and….
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Oooh. This chapter seems really ominous. Has me on the edge of my seat!
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FORTY-FIVE

Things sparked and flashed around the bridge as the battle went on. Match had switched to a spare console after his had died and worked harder than he had before to pull up details on the monitor. At least he had a chair now, even if it was trying to throw him to the floor every few seconds. He glanced over to Chapston, concentrating hard as the ship skidded past incoming fire and Gallaway fired again. “Weapons at 45 percent,” Match called. “Shields at 15!”

“Gallaway,” Hawle commented bitterly, raising his voice over the noise, “if you don’t hit something important soon, I’m going to have IOC look closely at all those qualifications!”

“Doing my best, sir,” the Canine groused, having lost much of his power when they’d needed to transfer power to shields. “Permission to launch a torpedo, sir?”

“Sounds an idea,” the Captain replied. He’d been reticent due to the proximity of all the ships but it was coming down to maybe die by being caught in an explosion versus possibly dying by not causing an explosion. If he was going to die, he figured it was better to be proactive about it. “Take out their engines.”

“We hit it might take out the entire ship, sir,” Gallaway retorted, sending the computer instructions to load the projectile. “Ready, sir.”

“Then fire.”


Hardy’s warning light flashed in her helmet and it almost killed her as she tried to work out what it was. She almost got hit by incoming fighter fire from the five Lappineans still flying and just managed to jerk aside. “Oh, Fefra… Starlancers, get away from the cruiser! The Loper’s launching ordinance!” Without waiting for them to check in, she put it to open call to try and warn the Militia ships, knowing the Lappineans would hear as well. Not like they could really do anything, was it? “Starlancers to Militia! The Loper’s about to use torpedoes! Be ready!”

<”Thanks for the warning, Maze,”> said a voice she thought she knew. She realised she did. It gave her an extra reason to want the ship alive.


The torpedo slid quickly from the launcher near the bottom of the Loper and the engine powered up, boosting its already impressive speed as it cut through space on its short journey towards its destination, the rear energy intake manifolds of the Lappinean ship and Hawle cursed slightly, under his breath, as he watched the ship react a little ahead of schedule. He wasn’t going to criticise Maze for doing it but he wished she’d not done it. Five seconds warning was five seconds warning as…

“That ship’s coming in,” Dawton called.

Hawle watched an Odan fighter put itself between the torpedo and the Lappinean ship. “Good pilot,” he muttered as the explosion brightened space for a collection of seconds, an energy wave from the core lashing out in all directions. “Brace for impact!”


The wave slammed into the ship, pretty much killing the rest of the shield power as it rolled over the top. Screen cameras blanked out, leaving Hawle with holes in his viewscreen as conduits split across the hull of the ship, making Hawle thankful the bridge wasn’t there to be shot at. He’d had warning so had already gritted his teeth to try and keep his tongue safe but he didn’t want to think about the number of injuries that had just occurred. Hopefully those on the bio-stabilised hydraulic beds in sickbay were still in one piece. “Match..,” he started.

“Damage reports already coming in,” the Raitchian reported. “Systems down around the ship due to damage. We have standard engines but not velocity scale ones. The weapons are down… No, they’re back to minimal power now. We have breaches on most decks, particularly sciences. Bulkheads autosealed. External sensors offline. Automatic repair systems… are barely working.”

“Dawton, get Groal to assign teams now Engineering’s secured. Tell him he can draft in any security and maintenance staff he finds to help, even if it’s just as carrying muscle.”

“Right…”

“Match, what about that ship?”

The Raitchian cast his eye over the readings quickly. “Uh, right… We were only able to get a few seconds on scans but… It’s quite large and…” He paused as Raven clambered back onto the bridge and retook her seat. “...that’s pretty much all we got,” he admitted, throwing his hands up.

“Are external comms still working,” Hawle asked Dawton as Sarah worked to keep behind the cruiser, which still had manoeuvring power as the missile hadn’t impacted anywhere near directly on the hull.

“Uh, yes sir,” Dawton replied, holding an earpiece next to his head. “Just about anyhow. I’ll ask Maze to go check on the newcomer, shall I?”

“No, just ask her if she can SEE it.”


At this range, it was just a dot on her ships’ scanners. Maze had a feeling it would be much more than that soon, as her people disabled the last of the Lappinean fighters. Her scans of the big ship showed it was damaged, not disabled. The aft cannons were gone and the launcher mounted there was debris, twisted about and buckled beyond use but the forward weapons were still operational and so were some of the anti-fighter weaponry, one of which had just knocked Lancer 6 out of the fight. She hit the thrusters after detailing Lancer 3 to keep an eye on the squad. Her sensors reached out, probing and analysing what was coming towards her as her cannons cooled and recharged. The shield power monitor ticked up a percentage point. She compensated for the wing damage and swept in closer to target it was…


… It was launching a few of its own fighters? OK, Maze thought, time to roll a die, as Hawle might put it. She set the comm to general transmit again. “Flight leader Maze Hardy of the Loper to incoming vessel. Identify yourself. Over.”

She held her breath. This was no fun. It was tense, waiting for the inevitable boot to fall as the smaller pinpricks of light thrust towards her.

<”Flight Leader Hardy,”> her comm said, making her jump slightly. <”This is Captain Dunnett of the M.S.S. Colbrea. We are here to assist.”>
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

The work you put into these 40+ chapters is really grade A quality! Can't wait to read more from you!
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FORTY-SIX

Hawle watched the incoming ship on scanners as the main screen still had to be on the crippled but still fighting Lappinean ship. His nose was itching. He did, of course, have an answer for the question of how they’d come to be in the area and that answer was a name that probably translated to the name of a town somewhere in the north of a Human world. They often did, thanks to some peculiarity in the universal translators. He wondered what their excuse would be. Probably helping the training the Mican worlds militias underwent or escorting a dignitary as they didn’t travel on freight vessels or the cheap rate ‘star buses’ that generally ran the patch or they’d had the worst malfunction in computer history and only worked it out when they were eighty light years from Micanna. They wouldn’t, of course, give the real reason, which was… “Dawton, we got intership yet?”

The Human pulled himself from under his console, where he’d spent the last minute fixing things, and looked over to the Captain. “Just about,” he confirmed as something sparked slightly in the exposed assembly. “Well, audio anyhow.”

“Good enough,” Hawle remarked. “Put us on with the Militia ships.”

He looked up, as though the ceiling might fall in on him as the Lappinean put in a shot, more in desperation now than in… well, anything else. Or they’d not seen the Mican yet?

“You’re on, sir,” Dawton told him.

“Loper to Militia,” Hawle said. “Thanks for your help in apprehending Sobrii. But, as the Lappineans now have him and they’re going nowhere, we can handle it from here. Break off and head back to Pandera as soon as you can, over. Out.” He cut the line.


Admiral Patch listened to the transmission from Hawle as the helm adjusted course to avoid the anti fighter weaponry. “We still have the… Pandera?” He shrugged expressively. “What the heck’s that idiot on about? Get me a line to the Lo…”

“With respect, Admiral,” Hav said from the weapons station, “he usually knows what he’s doing – even if no-one else does. He’s probably thinking that new ship’s listening in and she’ll probably want him too! He’s telling us to clear off and hoping they don’t know where we came from!”

Patch nodded. “That makes sense. I think. Break combat. Signal our other. Best speed for home.” He flinched as a console sparked and the lights failed so the bridge was lit only by the consoles and the viewscreen. “Whilst we still have a ship.”

“Under…” the helm officer grimaced as the ship shook and the doors to the rear jammed, half open. “...stood,” she finished, turning away from the combat as the Loper’s fighters provided a screen.


“Has anyone tried asking them to surrender yet,” Hawle asked his bridge crew as the battle swung decisively in their favour..

“It’s next on my list,” Dawton replied before a shot slammed into the hull of the ship. Damage to the starboard side, according to Match. “Or it would be if that hadn’t knocked the comms out again, sir.”

Hawle sighed. “Keep firing then.”

On visual, two mighty blasts came in from the Colbrea, tearing into the hull of the crippled cruiser and blasting out the other side. “OK,” Hawle said, his ears wilting a little at the sight. “Chappers, move us away from here in case the Micans are peeved…”

“On it, sir,” the Human replied, engaging a course at random as the cruiser tried to alter its fire to take on the new enemy. Match shifted the small amount of shield power he had left to try and cover the withdrawal.


His arm in a sling, Groal and a security guard dampened down an over heated conduit with coolant from an extinguisher before the Engineer could get to work providing a fast patch to the system. He needed both hands to do the job well so he made use of one of the guards mandibles to do the holding part and refused to wince as his blood continued to leak onto the bandages. Four of his people dead or on Barleycorn’s tables, including his two best and they might not survive. Bodger, of course, had made it through unscathed. Groal wasn’t sure how but he’d take the Brockian’s help right now. But the Brockian was putting out his own brushfire amongst the blood. The device in his hand buzzed and cauterised the wounded electrical circuit so the build up rerouted through the less stressed systems and chips. He helped his underling put the plate back up on the wall, covering the circuits and used the device on a new setting to trap the plate against the wall. He’d move on to the next brushfire now.


Hawle wanted to be helping out down below, pitching in with his people but he had a thought that this wasn’t quite over yet. Although the battle, it seemed, was. Hardy had obviously told her fighters to return to the barn and it seemed they were bringing one of the enemy fighters with them, escorted by two Starlancers. Apparently the lancer bay was still operational although the chief had lost most of his staff to the repair teams and the vacuum shields wasn’t working. “Match,” he ordered, “soon as it’s safe, transfer power to the vacuum shield on the Lancer bay so they can land, would you? Chappers, do you think we’re far enough away?”

“I’d rather be further, sir,” she replied honestly. “But this’ll probably do.”

“Fair enough. Put the brakes on. Let the Mossies return to the barn. I’ll pull up the rear view.” He pressed a few buttons on his arm rest and the view changed from the stars ahead to the two fighting cruisers behind them. Well, it was almost a fight as the cruiser they’d just spent the last little while punching wasn’t in any condition to fight, let alone win. In fact, all she was in a position to do, it seemed, was die and she did that in style, blowing apart in a string of explosions that spread along the fuselage and throwing chunks in all directions at speed. “Ah,” he said, “Match…”

“We don’t have enough shields available to do much, Captain,” the Raitchian said, entranced by the chunks that were headed their way. “Without velocity we won’t be able to dodge, sir…”

“No need,” Chapston remarked, “the Mican’s moving on us.”

“Figured they would,” Hawle told her, hoping she believed him.
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Really can't wait to see where this is gonna head! I look forward to the next installment!
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FORTY-SEVEN

Seconds passed into minutes as Hawle watched the flickering screen. He thought he’d better ask a question. “By any chance, Ensign Dawton..?”

“Intership’s patchy but currently up, sir,” the somewhat ruffled Human cut in, taking the unusual step of interrupting his Captain in the sake of efficiency.

“And they’ve not called us,” Hawle drawled, resting his chin on his hand. “I wonder if they’re mulling things over.” He tapped his armrest. “Very well,” he decided, “I’ll be mother. Send a hail, Dawton.”

“On it, sir,” Dawton replied, tapping away at his console.

“Didn’t pre-empt me that time, did you,” Hawle grumbled, just loud enough for Raven to hear. “Sarina, get the damage and casualty reports in from all heads of departments that aren’t either dead or in the secure zone, would you? Casualty lists take priority.”

“On it,” Raven said, doing her best to find the information on the half awake computer.


The fizzling face of a Mican appeared on the screen and distorted with interference as Hawle remained in his seat. He’d say it was to show his confidence but, in truth, his seat restraints were jammed. “Commander Aldair Hawle of the Loper,” he said in greeting. “Thank you for your assistance.”

<”Captain Dunnet of the Colbrea,”> the voice said. Hawle was pretty sure it was female, even accounting for the distortion. <”Do you require help, Commander?”>

“Oh,” Hawle said breezily, waving a hand, “all we can get. Things are quite broken around here. I can’t even get up. But the first thing you need to give us is a velocity tow. I left a tracker given to me by a Pirate on that ship and I imagine several vessels are homing in on our location right now.” He grimaced. “They were my back up plan as I was busy not knowing you existed.”

<”Understood. Hang on, Loper.”>


The screen blanked out and Match transferred what power he could to structural integrity so the tow didn’t rip the ship in half as the invisible beam stretched from the Colbrea to the crippled Frigate and took the strain. Things shook as the ship kept itself together during the five minutes or so the ship was at velocity and a technician appeared on the bridge to assess things. Hawle had the feeling Groal had casualties. He’d get down there as soon as he could. His teeth rattled as the two ships slowed to normal space again, some quarter of a million miles from their prior location. He gestured the technician over and indicated his mobility problem. “Have you out in a jiffy, sir,” the Human told him.

“Sarah,” Hawle asked as the Human started poking at things with a screwdriver. “What’s a Jiffy?”

“Uh, a padded envelope, I think, sir,” she replied, nerves still frazzled. “Think ‘e means ‘e’ll be done quick, sir.”

“He will be if he tries sending me through the post,” Hawle replied as Raven compiled her lists. He stood up as the restraints clacked open. “I shall forgive you, Mostyn,” he told the Human. “How are things in the rest of the ship?”

Mostyn paused and put a hand through his fading hair as he wrapped his intelligence around the fact that the Captain knew his name. “Uh, it’s not great, sir. We’ve got breaches on several decks, half the staff are injured or dead and we need back up.”

Hawle nodded. “I’ll try asking them,” he said, indicating the Mican ship. “For now, get the secure zone open. There’s a fair few back up in there. Go on. And good job. Dawton,” he called, dismissing the technician, “you know what to do.”

Dawton grinned. “Started doing it as soon as you called, my liege.”

Hawle could hear the strain in his voice but decided to make nothing of it.


Captain Dunnet stepped over fallen masonry as Commander Hawle escorted her to the conference room, passing by Stikka as he directed response teams. The Racon had uploaded several maintenance texts and temporarily knew everything he needed to know to act as deputy Chief for Groal. It had, though, pushed his Command knowledge into the memory buffer so he figured he’d purge it when it was done. After the encounter, Dunnet looked at Hawle. “So you really DO have a cyborg on board,” she told him without making it sound like a question. “That must raise security issues?”

“None that have ever come into play,” Hawle replied. “Lieutenant Stikka has proven himself an excellent second officer. But we don’t tell him that often, after he installed an ‘Ego’ program.” Hawle pushed open the recalcitrant door to the Conference room and decided, due to the lights having fallen on the table and the chairs being mostly buckled and broken, to take her to the Canteen instead. All the tables and chairs there were either part of the deck or built for being thrown around.

“My chief Engineer is assembling his teams to come over here and assist, Commander,” Dunnet confided.

“Teams,” Hawle scoffed with bitterness. “My Chief Engineer’s down to using whoever he can get hold of at the moment. Oh,” he added quickly, “thank you. They’ll be useful. As will whatever spares you can give us to get us back to Cora II’s maintenance yards.”

“You’ll have it,” Dunnet replied, keeping her hands behind her slightly portly frame.

Why did Hawle still feel like there was a shoe coming towards his head?


The canteen was something of a mess, with cutlery everywhere, but they were able to close the door for privacy and Hawle pulled up two chairs to a table. “Seems the replication machine’s still in order,” he assumed, seeing its lights were still on. “That’s something. Want Coffee?”

“Micanna Tea please. If it’s still got it in memory.” She took a seat.

He brought the drinks over and sat down. “Now,” he asked, “what’s the real reason you dropped by?”

“Well,” she stated, “off the record? It was to help you. We got a call ordering us off our planned work with the Militia ships around Kelva on a priority call. And,” she continued, sipping the tea, “I was also to make sure the Castoran didn’t get away. I’ll deny it if you ever take it further, COMMANDER, but there’s a kill on sight order on Sobrii.”
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

This story keeps on getting interesting by the chapter! Great work on this!
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FORTY-EIGHT

The Mican cruiser gave assistance to the crippled USC ship for several hours, patching the ship up as best they could under the time restraints. They’d detected several Pirate vessels at the battle co-ordinates, including one that Hawle recognised from around Vallonia. “We’re putting out a masking field,” Dunnet told Hawle, possibly revealing one of the technologies they were, maybe, really out here to test out. The Loper’s skipper said nothing, just filing it away. It was becoming standard practice for the individual militaries these days. Preventing industrial espionage by holding tests around out of the way colonies controlled by their own peoples. And then sell them to the U.S.C. for higher profits as there was no competition. And the New Colonies were good for that. Better than the massed systems anyhow. “It disrupts our energy trail as well,” she continued, twigging on what he was thinking. She grinned a tooth grin. “Should help when it comes to sales, eh?”

Hawle chuckled back. “That’s up to the bean counters. Nice ship you have here,” he added, commenting on the bright, almost spacious, bridge he was standing on.

“Just like yours,” she replied gallantly. “Only this one still has the new ship smell. And protective plastic film covers on some of the consoles.” She shrugged. “Haven’t found all of them yet. Yours is pretty impressive too. Velocity 4.5 is your record, I believe?”

Hawle’s ears pricked up and his eyes widened slightly as he turned to look at the happy Captain. “We held that for about seventeen minutes whilst pursuing a drone craft that was attempting to escape us. I wasn’t aware it was public knowledge due to who we were pursuing.”

“Well, secrets get out and we need to know records if we’re to push them. We’ve looked over all the amendments your Engineer did to enable you to keep up such a speed without the ship breaking apart and they’ve helped us level things out to a point where we can comfortably manage a top speed of Velocity four without putting as much stress on the system.”

“Hmm,” Hawle muttered. “We did hold Velocity 4 for almost thirteen hours a week or so ago. And it was only because the engines finally went near critical that we had to slow down.”

“Thirteen hours?” Dunnet breathed out. “We’ve managed twelve. Can I poach your Engineer?”

Hawle chuckled again. “Nah. I’m losing him anyway. He’s taking a ground job on Cora II. To be with his wife and baby son.”

“Eh, swing and a miss. And the deputy?”


Doctor Barleycorn looked over at the bed as Katara fought to wake up. She hurried over to where the permanently stroppy Vixen was forcing herself to sit up. “Like heck you’re sitting up,” Barleycorn warned, putting hands on her patient’s shoulders to push her back down gently.

“Nuh g’w’n tuh…”

“Yeah, your jaw wasn’t broken,” Barleycorn regretted, “but you’ve been out of commission for several hours and we’ve had to patch up a lot of holes in your torso which is why you hurt so much – or will do when the medicine wears off. And you ARE staying put. I had to put six pints back into you. And set several bones. And you were lucky. Januvitski’s still out.” Barleycorn saw the look of alarm in the Vixen’s eye as it widened. “She’ll take longer to recover. Not as bloodyminded as you, Katara. Groal,” Night asked, making Katara wonder if she was a mind reader. “He’s leading the repairs which,” she continued, pushing Katara back down again, “are continuing apace, thanks to the Mican cruiser that ‘chanced by’ lending some crew. We’ll be underway soon. Possibly. They never tell me much on the mechanical side.”

“Like you don’t tell anyone much on the medical side,” Jaqui Pangal said, wheeling herself into the room.

“You survived intact, then,” Night asked her friend.

“I spent a fair amount of time on the floor, under my desk, hanging on so I didn’t get thrown against the back wall and do myself a permanent mischief.”

Night huffed. “One way to do it, I suppose.”

“I had a padd and could organise security from there,” Jaqui protested. “Much damage in here?”

“Bed four’s not working. Several of the lights are borked and the scanners are playing up. Other than that it’s the patients that are broken.” She gently pushed Katara down again. “No, YOU need the bed more than the others. I’d have had you out of it if there had been so stay put.” She glanced at Jaqui. “Do you have any handcuffs I can borrow?”

Jaqui chuckled and found a zip-tie. “Closest thing,” she said, handing it over, “and isn’t that more a question for your boyfriend?”

Night threw a towelette at her.


Stikka and Harvey sat together in the debris of Harvey’s room and Greyson wondered, exactly what he’d gotten himself into. Harvey usually insisted on doing the clean up operations on him in Stikka’s room and this was the first time he’d been in the Squirrel youth’s room. He’d offered to help clean up when he’d seen the mess and Harvey had asked him if there had been a battle. Stikka was pretty sure he was joking but… Anyway, the Captain had asked him to come down and assist Harvey in getting things back online and, after that had been done…

“...So the Captain doesn’t trust the Micans either,” Harvey asked, generally curious. “Didn’t they just save us?”

“In the battle we didn’t just have,” Stikka goaded. “They did. But they came in blasting. Before he went over there, the Captain told me the Micans were ordered to kill Sobrii if they caught him.”

Harvey puckered his brow. “Why,” he asked. “Everyone else seems to want him captured alive so he can work for them.”

Stikka nodded. “Question the Captain wants answered. He had a theory, of course. His theory is there was one reason the Micans might want him killed. So he can never tell he WAS working for them. And, of course, the Lappinean navy was going to sneak him to safety. So the Captain doesn’t want them to be able to tell *ahem* whoever sent them that Sobrii’s still alive so we’re to ‘excise’ the comms reports between ourselves and the Militia ships.”

“Right, right.” Harvey started work on the system.


Two hours later, Hawle sat back in his chair and held on as it creaked under his weight. “Got the position of the Militia ship, Chappers?”

“No, sir.”

“Figured not. Set course for Caldera and we’ll probably find them along the way. Groal says we’re cleared for two point five so let’s go to two.” He gestured with a finger, pointing towards the still glitching viewscreen. He almost said ‘engage’ but, knowing that would make Sarah snicker at him, went for ‘put your foot down’ instead and cringed as things creaked...
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Dang. The Loper is losing Groal? But then who will help Elena douse Hawle in stuff? That really sucks.
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Trick I pulled there. Dunnet's essentially on the opposite side as she was supposed to kill Sobrii. But she's so nice and friendly. She's happy she didn't have to follow orders because *ahem* she, uh, totally believes Sobrii was on the Lappinean cruiser. And she'll say that officially...
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

As long as it doesn't create a lot more problems then she should go ahead then! Of course nothing is never easy.
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FOURTY-NINE

With her deputy on duty at the helm, Sarah had found her way down to locate her betrothed amongst the work. They still had things to patch, despite the help from the Micans and she found him inside a wall panel. She shushed Technician Pilla, who’d been about to tag Polva to tell him she was there. Instead the Collian kept his tongue and pointed out the right tool for Sarah to hand Polva when he asked for it. She handed it to him and stroked the back of his hand. “Bit forward, Pilla,” Polva admonished before sniffing the tool and pulling his head out a touch. “Oh, heya, love. A minute?” He put himself back into the panel and laid a fix in before coming back out, letting out a breath and closing the panel. “Is it lunch time already?”

Sarah tapped her comm’s readout. “Dinner time, more like,” she admonished. “Cedar’s found some undamaged stock that he’s keeping for us. Quiche’s apparently.”

Polva’s face fell slightly. “Quiche’s?”

Sarah cast pity on him. “I know, I know. But they don’t need to be heated and he’s reluctant to switch the ovens on right now. Wants to make sure they’re all in best order first.”

“Eminently sensible,” Edelmar agreed, looking to Pilla as he made his mind up. “Seems it’s time for a break, Frank. Say an hour?”

The Collian nodded in reply before saluting his ‘superior’ to remind him of the fact that he wasn’t his superior, and headed off to collapse in a chair somewhere and pretend to be unconscious until he was.


Polva took Sarah’s arm and, if he were to be honest, leaned on her for support as exhausted feet pulsed to tell him to give up moving. She carefully removed the arm from his and put it around the back of his waist to hold his side and support him more lovingly. They entered Cedar’s workplace and found their way to one of the tables. “Quiches are still free,” Cedar commented from the kitchen. “Refrigerators were needed for… other things so the food’s got to go!”

“When you can, Cedar,” Sarah commented.

The Comm system sounded. <”Are we on,”> Hawle asked as Sarah made to check her comm. Polva put a hand on hers and pointed up to the speaker. <”Apparently we are,”> Hawle continued. <”Right.”> A sigh. <”We’ve been through a lot these last few days with barely a moment to catch our breath. This day we’ve lost friends and loved ones, neither of which can be easily replaced. It’s not the ship that carries that makes the journey but the people who you travel with. I can’t tell too much about the events officially but I feel you should know the indirect events. We’ve been pursuing someone who targeted Pirate ships with a virus under cover of selling them shipping lists. His secret was out, leading the clans to the brink of all out war due to their paranoias about who he was working for and who was going to hide him. In case you’re wondering why that would involve us, remember Vallonia. Many members of many clans would have no trouble paining the spaceways red with corpses and attacking civilians on ships, orbital habitats or planets. Our friends gave their lives in service to keep them safe and us alive. We have a duty to proceed in all our ways in their memories. To ensure the lessons and hopes they gave us are not forgotten and that they live on in our hearts, our minds and our actions. There will be a memorial service for them when we return to Cora II so friends and families there can join with us and can offer as much support to us as I know we will to them. Until then? We must attend our duties, knowing they are with us in spirit. It will be problematic. It will be troubling. But this is only because we know how much they mean to us. Mentioning their names will come easier at times but, for now, know that they helped up bring calm to turbulent times. People will answer for their actions in due time.”> The line shut off.

“Strange place to end,” Polva commented idly.

“Well, it’s not quite finished yet,” Sarah commented as Cedar arrived with two quiches and covered in pastry and filling. “What happened to you,” she asked, picking some pastry off his ear.

“I got carried away,” Cedar moaned. “When he started giving the speech, I was about to come over with your dinners and…”

Polva chuckled. “You saluted, didn’t you?”

Cedar nodded sadly.


Colleen picked up the clear metal vase Aldair had advised her to buy over the glass one she’d had her eye on and appreciated that he’d probably been right. She put it back atop the moulded mantelpiece and went to get the dustpan and brush to sweep up the dirt and earth. The electrics in her room were non operational so she had things lit by five small, battery operated, spotlights that, once again, Aldair had advised her to take. One of Groal’s had been in to make sure the structure was sound and nothing was about to blow out but, other than that, she’d been alone with her restorations. She chuckled mirthlessly as she supposed she wasn’t alone in being alone right now. She hoped they’d come to her. In the absence of a councillor – and even the holographic one was out now – she was what they had. She took a breath as she began the clean up work. She’d have to be mentally prepared for that. The room had to be ready.


“How’s Polva,” Hawle asked as Sarah returned to the bridge, smelling of the Russellian as though she’d gotten a lot closer than just sitting next to him in the canteen. He wondered if they’d had to examine their quarters that closely and clean up that much?

“How’d you guess, sir,” she asked as she relieved her cover and signed into the station.

“Well, I know I’d go looking for Elena if she’d been here and, frankly, you have a relaxed expression and a positive bounce in your step that you didn’t have earlier.”

“Is… is it that obvious,” Sarah asked, a little embarrassed at the thought.

“Yes,” said half the bridge simultaneously before laughing.

Sarah realised she’d been had. The Captain lightening tensions somewhat, perhaps? She turned around. “Yez gits,” she chided them. “I’s gonna have half of yez as bridesmaids for that!” She pointed at Dawton. “’Specially you, David.”

Dawton, surprised, put a hand on his chest. “Wha..? Why me?”

“Match has a kilt, Stikka’s got no ego, I’ve seen Raven and Hawle in skirts before and I KNOW you’d be embarrassed!” She turned back to her console, completely aware that half the bridge, including Raven, was turning to look at the Captain. As planned. “Coming up on the Militia ship, by the way, sirs,” she confirmed as Hawle bluffed that it was a long tale for another time and threw a Mint Imperial at the back of Sarah’s head.
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Now I can't get the image of Aldair in a skirt out of my head. Why are you punishing me?

:lol:

Great chapter.
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FIFTY

Groal groaned. Had he only been in bed for an hour? That’s what his clock was telling him. It had to be lying, didn’t it? Perhaps it was broken like much else in the room and its defect had just shown? He hoped that was it as he tapped the pulsing comm that had woken him by talking on the implant inside his ear. He’d dreamed he was with Salla and Samnar, running with the boy on his shoulders as Salla sat under a tree on the hillside, laughing happily, when a cherub had appeared over his shoulder, calling his name. He watched the cherub for a few seconds before realising it was a resemblance of Dawton and, thus, a chubby, naked, Human. He’d put his hand over his sons eyes before waking to hear the voice say it for the fifth time. And, now, he talked. “What ya want’ Dawton,”

<”Nothing personal, Commander,”> Dawton replied. <”We’re coming up on the Militia craft and they’re in worse shape than we were at combats end. Captain wants a team over there to keep their ship together. You’re to lead. Over.”>

Groal groaned again before he sat up. He supposed he understood the situation. And he supposed it was appropriate that he was made to suffer before taking leave of the reigns and slipping politely towards taking root. He pushed himself up and reasoned he was still dressed as he’d not bothered to take his shirt and shorts off earlier. He padded over to the replication machine, ordered toast, accepted the Raitchian Stew it dispensed in a cup and sent a message to Harvey to check out the replication computers as something was still awry. Then he drank his cup of breakfast, pulled his boots on and attached his toolbelt. He decided to check in on the canteen as he heard one of their machines was still dispensing the correct drink.


“And why are you going over,” Sana asked Hawle as he joined her in the teleport control area. “Before you answer,” she added quickly, “they have made sure this is running correctly, yeah? “

“The Mican ship ran the established tests,” Hawle confirmed. “Up to the second proving teleport of organic matter. Of course Dunnet didn’t tell me about it until after she’d sent me back. Thought it was them sending me, not that her call had gone to her officer here…” He indicated the Mican behind the dais, who was standing with a stiffness unusual on this ship. “Tyne, isn’t it?”

“Talbot Tyne, yes, sir,” the Mican replied. “You were lacking a fully qualified operator and Captain Dunnet had me spare. It seemed a smart move to loan me to you.”

“Understood.” Hawle leaned on the dais. “I wasn’t aware the Mican Militia appreciated chatterboxes?”

He cocked his head slightly. Like a Canine, Hawle thought. Perhaps there was some in his heritage. “Are you telling me to shut up, sir?”

“Nope,” Hawle relented, pushing himself back up off the support. “Merely commenting. No-one’s ever been reported on this ship for talking too much. “Send us over.”


The pair arrived and both checked themselves over for intactness before Sana spoke. “You realise he’ll tell the Micans Sobrii’s not dead as soon as he gets back to his ship?”

“Oh, of course,” Hawle breezed. “But it’ll be academic by then anyhow.”

“How so?”

Hawle looked at her in confusion. “We’re banged up worse than a hornet in a steel drum,” he remarked. “You really think WE’RE taking him to Talvery? We’ll be picking him up from here, then heading for the USC Macrimmon. They’ll take him to Talvery. Now,” he added, pointing to the door, “we’d better go see the locals or they’ll think we’re snogging in this closet.”

Sana screwed her Fennekin nose up. “Not my type, sir,” she goaded. “I could never go for anyone with bigger ears than me.”


The door opened to reveal Hav standing there, hands together in front of his waist. “And that’s quite a line to come in on,” he offered.

Hawle shook his head as his former officer smiled slightly. He stepped forward with his hand out. “I don’t get any respect,” he said as Hav took the hand. He clapped him on the arm in addition.

“You hate respect, Sir,” Hav goaded.

“I like it. A bit,” Sana said, playfully clicking her heels together. “Agent Sana to accept a prisoner? I hear you have one for us?”

“Yes,” Hav admitted bitterly. “The person responsible for all this, Yilla Sobrii. If you’ll follow me…”


Hav led the way through the half dead ship, using his diminutive stature to avoid sparking wires and hanging plates that Hawle knew Groal was going to love after he finished the outside scans with the shuttle. Sana also got past with ease and Hawle wondered when he’d last been the largest person in a group. “Are you wearing scent, Hav,” he asked idly, hands behind his back as he got close enough whilst ducking to sniff his former Security Officer.

“Nope,” Hav commented, thinking it must have come from when Debbie kissed his cheek whilst accepting his invite to coffee at some near point in the future. She had his number. There might be a future there. He was hopeful. “Can’t think of any reason, sir. Might I ask how Chief Pangal is?”

“Still wounded from earlier this week,” Hawle told him. “Night’s got her on light duties right now. What sort of Doll would Cassie like?”

Hav rolled his eyes. “Anything white furred. Although that does mean I have to wash it more often. How many did you lose today, sir?”

“Eighteen in total, including Chief Lalda.”

Hav stopped for a second as his face fell. “Aw, no! I liked her!”

“You say that like there were some you didn’t?”

“Nah, but she was the one I’d thought about asking out before the love of my life entered my life and I needed to put her safety first. There’s no-one there I don’t like,” he declared. “Even nickname givers.”


The door opened and conversation stopped. There, in front of them, behind solid metal bars, sat Yilla Sobrii, looking quite sorry for himself.
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I liked where you went with this chapter! Things really are keeping me on my toes!
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FIFTY-ONE

The Castoran looked up with a twisted smile from where he was sitting. “I take it you have questions for me?”

That, Hawle thought, was putting it lightly. He wanted to know why someone would set up people to die in the suffocating blanket of space and risk all out war and set off a chain of events that had led to the death of at least a hundred individuals on six ships in the last day alone. But he drummed his fingers on the wall. “I’m not interested,” he said simply, every word a lie. “I’m just here to arrange your transport with those who’ll take you to the people who’ll ask all the questions. Then they’ll determine where to hold you.”

“Depending on what you tell them,” Sana chipped in. “I mean, at the moment, all we know you’ve done that we can hold you for is illegal transit and selling on Flight plans. I mean that’s already been proven by IOC on Pandera so you’ll be formally arrested for that as well as trying to evade capture – your co-operation now is useful, by the way.” She chuckled. “Odd, innit, the safest place he can get in this entire sector is controlled by an Octogenarian Mican.”

“Oh,” Hawle said, leaning into it a bit as he copied her by crossing his arms like she had and leaning slightly against her shoulder, “like the place he was booked to be heading to? Where we’d have to take him if, perchance, he didn’t tell enough?”

“Yeah.” She straightened up, and spoke to the warden as Hawle pretended to nearly overbalance. “Bag ‘im up,” she said. “We’ll take ‘im.”

“You coming to Caldera soon, sir?” Hav asked as the guards got Sobrii manacled and masked for transit. “Visit Cassie and all that?”

“Depends on the good Octogenarian, doesn’t it? If you have leave imminent, you might want to come to Cora II. Sarah’s manacling Edelmar into marriage in ten days.”

Hav chuckled. “If I get an invite I’ll do what I can. With a little ‘plus one’?

“If you get an invite, I know a science ship that can give you a lift.” They stopped talking as Sana and the warder escorted Sobrii forward. Face to face with him, humour had no place, just loathing and contemplation. He walked him back to the teleport facility as he heard Groal’s engineering team had successfully docked. Hawle stepped things up slightly. It wasn’t that he was worried but he figured it was better not to bring a Celican who’d lost so many friends face to face with the person directly responsible for the deaths so soon after.


The team reassembled, minus Hav, on the Loper’s teleport deck and Hawle watched the Mican operator’s eyes widen slightly as he saw who was with them. “I’ll catch you up,” Hawle said as the others got off the dais and headed for the door. He indicated the operator. “Just need a word.” He leaned on the console. “Now then, Mr Tyne,” he said pleasantly, “I know who you think you just saw and I know what you’re thinking of doing.” He held up a hand. “Ah, ah, let me monologue here. You’d be required to notify your Captain as soon as possible that the guy’s alive – if that was who you just saw, hmm? Captain Dunnet would then need to tell her superiors and there’s one of those dangerous enough to maybe send them after the ship holding him, even if that ship’s a United Security Council vessel. Then all heck might break loose and the IOC would look VERY closely at everyone who might have leaked it. I know you need to do your duty but I think you should, um, have trouble getting to a working long range transmitter for… several hours?” He smiled. “By then, it’ll be too late to catch us before we get to Talvery, won’t it?” He tapped the Mican on the chest with a small swing of his hand as he smiled. “You can talk now.”


The Mican worked things through in his head. He didn’t reckon there was anyone crazy enough to risk an outright attack on a Council ship but there were hints of a dangerous intelligence in the Mican worlds out here so there was the possibility of being wrong. And, of course, if he WAS wrong, he stood himself no favours being on the Council ship that would be shot up. They still hadn’t repaired all the damage in here and the red stain on the floor was equally concerning. This ship wouldn’t survive another battle right now, would it? “I don’t even know where the long range transmitters are, sir,” he said brightly. It was sort of the truth anyhow.

Hawle tapped the console. “Good man,” he said brightly, “and, if it gets you in trouble, I’ll put in a good word.” he noted the worried look in Tyne’s eye. “Maybe ask you to be assigned here,” he continued as he headed to the door. “I’ve probably got a Raitchian agent aboard ship anyway, what’s one more?” He let the door close before he commed Dawton and instructed him to monitor all long range transmissions.


An hour passed as the ship prepared to head home, not towards Talvary Communal station. She was waiting on Groal and his engineering teams, who’d been using some of the few spares they had to patch up the Militia ship before it made it’s final trip back to Caldera. That, at least, was the official reason Hawle had made sure the crew knew about. The other reason was, Match told him, just about to arrive. The seemingly flat, mall, ship, with twin points indicating the front and a half moon class engine glowing to the back, came in at something of an angle on approach vector. “They’re hailing, sir,” Dawton said.

“Figured they might,” Hawle said, swinging his feet off Raven’s vacant chair and down to the floor. He’d been there for the last five minutes after helping out with debris removal and had felt the need to relax before doing something official. “Put them on, would you?”


He blinked as the screen almost coalesced correctly and showed the face of the Commanding Officer of the U.S.C. MaCrimmon, Lieutenant Commander Riston. “I’m Commander Hawle. Welcome to the patch, Lieutenant Commander,” he said in greeting. “It’s nice to see an Osiran in the command ranks again.”

<“It has been a while,”> the Reptilian agreed, his chitinous throat bulging slightly as he swallowed. <”but we aim to regain some of our standing in the council.”>

“Never mind standing,” Hawle advised. “Keep your honour first and foremost. Do your duty and keep the trust of important people. Standing will account for itself if you do that.”

Despite appearing like he was annoyed at being lectured by someone he’d just met, Riston inclined his head. <”Worthwhile words,”> he admitted, possibly falsely.

“That said,” Hawle continued, “I want you to teleport the tagged prisoner in our brig and the equally tagged IOC officer directly to your ship and hot foot it straight to Talvary Station. I have reasons for not sending them to you via my own teleport station that I don’t wish to go into right now. Can you comply?”

Riston looked sideways, obviously consulting with someone off-screen. Hawle sent a quick message to Match to scan the bridge, which the Raitchian started before Riston looked back at the screen. <”According to my engineer, that should be no problem. Have them ready in five minutes. Sir.”>

“I’ll tell Sana. I don’t care if you shock the other one. Hawle out.” He cut the line. “Everything correct over there,” he asked Match.

“Species list matches the official,” the Raitchian confirmed. “Shall I begin the ‘interference’?”

Hawle nodded as Raven stalked in and slotted herself into her seat. She sniffed. “Why does my seat smell of your feet,” she asked Hawle.
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I enjoyed all of this chapter and thought it was really great! Good work!
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FIFTY-TWO

<”Been pulling the long shifts again, Commander,”> Henry asked from the screen as Hawle sat up in his bed, pyjamas showing fruits and vegetables patterned on it as he straightened an ear up to full attention. <”I have to think that’s the only reason you’re answering in your pyjamas.”>

“Sorry I forgot the epaulettes, sir,” Hawle responded. “It’s been a long day. Has the MacCrimmon arrived?”

<”I’ll ignore the insult you may not have planned, Aldair. Indeed the object of desire has arrived. Shouting the odds but the news will break shortly after. You did well in this, Hawle.”>

“I did precious little,” Hawle muttered bitterly. “All credit goes to my crew.”

<”Of course,”> Postlethwaite replied with dry wit before poking something towards the screen. <”and YOU’RE part of the crew, Aldair. Don’t forget that. They never do. “>

“Understood.” Hawle sighed. “Don’t forget things need to stay open and above board, sir.”

Henry’s face darkened. <”I am NOT required to keep to any deals you may or may not have made with people we do NOT make deals with, Commander!”> The tone softened. <”but, with high ranking people watching, the higher profile the better, I agree. As for now, what are your plans?”>

Hawle huffed slightly. “Well, in our current state, there’s not much we can do to help the flooding on Astina IV…”

Henry nodded and chose to interrupt on that point. <”Had a bit of an idea there,”> he admitted. <”With it being a non combat mission it was a perfect use for the Bellaphron so I sent her to help.”>

Hawle appreciated that. The gigantic explorer class museum piece with its industrial scale replication machine and room for almost three thousand passengers would have been the perfect ship for the job. “I bet the museum trust gave you gyp on that, sir.”

<”They did indeed. You’re headed back to Cora II, I take it? What are you planning to do with your ‘passenger’?”>

Hawle knew he was talking about Tyne, the Mican teleport operator. He shrugged. “Depends. If he wants to stay I could use a fully qualified teleport controller. Polva’s close but not ready for the chief’s job yet. If he applies, I’ll follow protocol. If the Micans assign him here, I’ll take the olive branch. If neither happens, I’ll return him. As expected, he sent a message to his ship a couple of hours back. When they had no chance of catching the clipper. Be interesting to see if he feels safe to go back. Intelligence might want a word…”

<”Hmm. Might need to have an ‘off the books’. I’ll let you get back to bed”> Henry terminated the call and Hawle changed back into the uniform he’d been wearing until Dawton had warned he was about to transfer the Sector Commander down. It never hurt to let people think it was later than it was. They were less likely to shout at you at two in the morning. That done, he went back to the film he’d been watching.


Colleen handed Sarah a cup of tea and sat primly in her main chair to regard the Human and Russellian on the sofa. “And what brings you to me,” she asked gently, feeling she knew why they were there already.

“Well,” Polva said, wringing his hands together, “it’s like this. Um…” He paused, obviously looking for words he’d had in mind that had just fled from his brain.

“...With all that’s gone on,” Sarah added uncomfortably, looking around at the askew apartment, “...do we have a right to..?” Her words failed her too, as she looked helplessly at Polva.

Colleen sat back and took a sip from her own drink. “Do I think you have a right to be happy,” she mused. “Do you think you have a right to be miserable? I mean, I understand where you are approaching this from but are you seriously considering that, in all this, people don’t want some signs of better things? If you decide not to marry simply because of the suffering that you’ve had – that others aboard have suffered – then you may forever think on it as a nineteenth victim of this event. It will always come up. And it does not deserve to. The event deserves to be the happy oasis that it is, Sarah, Edelmar. It deserves to be a celebration of all that we’re forever striving for. I should advised you not to go too flat out in celebration, however. I’ve noted that people appreciate an occasion to remember how happy their friend would have been in the occasion. It helps us remember them more fondly. So,” she summed up, “you two may become the focal point for hopes and dreams. It’s important that, if your love is strong enough, and I think it is, you go ahead with this. And I’ve already bought my gift for the occasion anyhow.” She allowed a slight grin. “I’m told someone always buys a waffle iron?”

Sarah found the tension broke with that last comment and had to laugh in relief as someone she trusted gave them permission to do what they wanted to do. She finished by putting her hand atop Ed’s and interlocking fingers. And squeezing slightly. “I don’t know about the waffle iron but I love you enough to put up with the fears Edelmar.” She put her free hand to his cheek and turned this face more towards hers as he gently held it to the cheek. “I have no fears when it comes to you other than losing you.”

“I’m never going to let that happen,” he replied, before locking mouths in a deep, loving, kiss.


Doctor Fuze wasn’t best happy. He was doing the late shift in the medical centre and trying not to let the dratted Vixen do too much to help the Human and set back the work he’d done keeping her alive. Januvitski was awake now and asking for something to read, which he didn’t have. Unless she wanted medical textbooks or that erotic Mican thriller Night didn’t know he knew she kept in her locker; a gift from her Detective. He took a slightly fizzy concoction over to the human and helped her sip it. “It’s a vitamin concoction. Raspberry flavoured, apparently. Whatever a Raspberry is.”

Januvitski swallowed and coughed. “Well,” she said with a gravel tinted voice, “it’s not that, Doc!”

“Hmmm, perhaps your taste buds were damaged during the fight?”

“Not funny, Doctor,” Katara grumped. “She almost died.”

“But… didn’t. And my humour’s fine, Kat… Just in a lot of pain…”

“Can’t keep you on painkillers forever, Jan,” Fuze told her. “Never a good idea. We get back to Cora II and the main hospital there will provide all the cover you need.”

“When do we get there,”Jan asked.

“Tomorrow, I think,” Fuze told her, wondering if he was correct. He was guessing.
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Elena probably was the one that bought him those pajamas. After all he already WEARS pie enough as it is. XD
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FIFTY-THREE

The Mican didn’t move as light played onto his red stained face in the lower break room. There was no life here, Raven reckoned, as she pulled up the debris that had been covering Technician Keele these last thirty or so hours. With Valrix’s help, the Burman moved the mangled metal from the body and laid it down on the floor. “The last of them,” the Commander breathed, having spent much of the last day carrying out remarkably similar operations across the ship. It was S.O.P. in a situation like this. Assume those you can’t find are dead but work to confirm or deny. Every now and again you came across a miracle but those didn’t count if you assumed everyone would survive. They’d found one earlier, A Raitchian with all major limbs broken who’d refused to die and Barleycorn thought she had a chance. But not with this one. His eyes were open. Raven didn’t want to look him in them. It was akin to admitting she’d failed. “Move him out, would you, Valrix,” she asked simply.

Valrix would usually have complained at such a task. But now the Canine merely nodded his head and took the limp form onto a stretcher. His hands were dusted with dried blood now, war painted on his fingers. He set the frame down on the carrying mechanism and picked up the sticks at the one end, Raven getting on the other end to carry the victim to the penultimate place of rest.


The ready room was half cast into gloom by the damaged lighting system and Hawle sat, pondering things in silence. He’d almost been in tears when the death toll reduced by two, Ensign Borneville being found, trapped and unconscious, in a toilet stall close to the fighter bay a half hour ago. They still had well over a day before they got back to Cora II at this current speed. The picture on his computer screen opened up to reveal the image of Harriet Thurso. Hawle regarded her coldly. “I thought I should call,” he said simply. “Thank you for sending a cruiser to assist.”

<”It seemed like a good idea at the time,”> The Mican allowed. <”And I am happy to see you survived in one piece. Did you suffer many casualties?”>

“Sixteen dead,” Aldair told her matter-of-factly. “Twenty more with injuries. It would have been worse if not for the timing.

<”Timing is all important,”> Harriet agreed quietly, nodding her head on screen. <”I’m sure Sobrii will attest to that.”>

“Well, I would hope so,” Hawle intimated carefully, “after all, we was lucky to survive, wasn’t he?”

<”Most fortunate,”> Harriet agreed. <”It was good strategy, getting that Militia ship out of the way as soon as our cruiser showed up.”>

“It seemed about right. We didn’t need them in the way, did we? They might have been caught in the crossfire as the Colbrea headed in.”

She mused. <”That would have been unfortunate,”> she agreed. <”I rather like Mr Hav.”>

Now it was Hawle’s turn to shift forward in his seat, so he was half in the darkness. “As do I. I must say, Miss Thurso, I do hope we never get to be adversaries. It seems both of us are good at out of the box thinking and planning ahead where needs be. Neither of us might see the other coming.” He smiled a tight smile. “It’s a good job we’re on the same side, wouldn’t you say?”

<”Why would we ever be on opposing sides,”> Harriet replied, charm personified that Hawle didn’t believe in the slightest. The ‘innocent’ old female he was facing was far too invested in Mican affairs for him to trust her. The same as Balbury, the Lappinean he figured was pulling the other strings in the affair. They might be of the same species but Hawle knew the intelligence chief would have no qualms about killing Hawle if the need came to it. <”You rate yourself too highly, Commander,”> She chuckled, <”although, if it would make you feel better, I do judge you as a character of quality. Someone to be watched,”> she added in a darker tone that still shone with amusement. <”But I accept your thanks, Commander. Oh,”> she continued, all humour gone, <”as an additional gift, you may keep the teleport operator until you get a new one assigned. The Colbrea will just have to do with the other five trained operators for the next few months.”> The light tone returned. <”I shall file the loan with Henry. Goodnight to you, Commander.”> The line cut out.

“Flamin’ woman,” Hawle cursed before standing up and sighing. “Right,” he said, preparing himself. He took a breath. Two. “One, two, one two,” he intoned before striding towards the bridge door. It jerked open erratically, permitting him onto the bridge. He stepped around the technicians and Engineer putting Match’ main console back together again and took up his seat, dislodging Stikka. “Isn’t it time for your break, Greyson,” he asked.

“There’s time yet, sir.”

“No, I think it’s time,” Hawle replied, checking his arm rest. “Whilst you’re out there, see if you can find some Mint Imperials, would you? The ones I had in here seem to have vaporized.”

The Racon 2nd Officer stood and hoped his breath didn’t smell of mint as he excused himself for a short downtime.

“How long until home, Chappers,” Hawle asked as Sarah threw a sweet over her shoulder at him. “Is this the one I threw at you yesterday,” he asked, catching the white, ‘ball’ shaped, confection.

Sarah shrugged. “Can’t be sure, sir,” she confessed, “I don’t label ‘em. And a day and a half at current speed, sir.”

“Hmm. Oh, your upcoming ceremony?”

Sarah tensed, wondering if she’d like what the Captain said next. Did he want to host the ceremony or ask her to postpone or… What could be more horrible than that, she wondered before realising she needed to speak. “Yes, sir,”

“Can you spring an invite for Gerry Hav and Cassie? I mean, if you do it quickly, The Savval can get them there for the ceremony and…”

Sarah laughed with relief. “Of course, sir,” she hooted, “it’ll be good to see Gerry again. And Cassie, of course. I was worried you wanted to officiate at the ceremony or something! It was really going to make it awkward…”

“What,” Hawle asked.

“Asking you to give me away, of course.”

Hawle looked a little non plussed. He moved his head from side to side and took a breath through his teeth. “Weeeellll… I’ll loan you to Polva, Sarah. But I can’t give a good helm Officer away. It’s not good policy.”

Having made sure things were safe up ahead, a situation helped by the relatively low speed, Sarah locked off the helm and, in response to Hawle’s jibe, stood up and stepped towards him. “Permission to assault a superior Officer,” she said, holding her arms out.

Hawle rose and accepted the hug.
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Is it wrong I wanted him to be assaulted with something else? XD. This was a nice chapter!
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

And he leaves the ship...

FIFTY-FOUR

The shuttle touched down in the secure zone at Cora II’s spaceport and few saw the small parade of hearses and wagons that took the sixteen away for their final preparations. The injured found themselves being carried or helped to waiting ambulances to be escorted to the capital’s hospital. Katara included, although she wasn’t best happy about it. “There are others more in need,” she told Groal as he bodily carried the protesting figure in his arms. “And, if you don’t release me, I’ll have you!”

“But that would only make me drop you and probably injure yourself more, Kat.” He kept the hint of humour in his tone as they crossed the semi-arid concrete to the waiting vehicle, that already had Januvitski in it. “Plus Barleycorn said you’re not to walk so, guess what?”

“You’re not going to let me walk?”

“Darn tootin’. I need the Chief Engineer to be in good shape when she takes over MY ship. And she’ll still be that, you know? No matter what Aldair thinks. No matter what you WILL think. The Chief Engineer always has the ship as theirs.”

“I’m getting that,” Katara grumbled. “And I’ll treat OUR ship well. My job might well be easier without you obstructing it like the giant, muscly, Oil brain that you are… sir.”

“It’s a good job we’re at the ambulance,” Groal told her, handing her over to one of the paramedics. “I might have dropped you after a comment like that.” He stepped back so the attendant driver could close the doors and sweep around to the drivers seat before he headed back to the shuttle.


Aldair stood, blinking in the light, as Groal returned to his side for, possibly, the final time and stood beside him. “When do you take over this lot,” Aldair asked, indicating the jutting towers to the left that indicated the Council maintenance station and all its workings.

“Couple of weeks,” Groal announced. “First I have to get the Loper back up to spec, of course?”

Hawle turned to look up at him hopefully. “Can you get us more speed in the engines? That Mican Cruiser claimed they were close to breaking our speed record. They’ve been up to 4.3 on occasion. According to them,” he added as the Celican looked down at him with wide eyes.

“I’ll see what I can do. Might as well give them a record to chase, hmm?”

“Exactly what I was thinking.” Hawle looked around to see the one case of goods and clothes the Engineer was taking. “Not taking much?”

“The rest is to follow.”

Hawle shrugged. “I’ll have the rest bunged in a crate for you.” He looked innocent. “What? Not like Salla will want the junk in her house, is it?”

Groal chuckled. “That ‘junk’ is some of the greatest crud in the sector. Sir.”

Hawle sighed. “Make sure we’re always first on the repair schedule, eh? Especially if the Rodomont’s booked in?”

“No favourites, Commander,” Groal fibbed as he took his case towards the annoyed looking taxi driver.


Half an hour later, the cab pulled up outside one of the refugee homes and Groal got out with a bit of effort, due to the smallness of the vehicle and the largeness of the Celican. The Canine cabbie, one of the Bellaphron Refugees who Groal couldn’t quite place, accepted the fare without a discount for life saving and helped him pull the case out to leave on the roadside before heading off in the second hand special to allow the temporarily one armed Engineer the chance to pull it up to the door. He pulled up and tapped the doorcom. There was no reply. Another try with the same response so he opened the door with his own digital key and entered. He took the case upstairs to lay it out on the bed, almost tripping over some of Rodin’s blocks on the way up. Salla, he noted, hadn’t made the bed but had moved a cot into the room. Aha, he thought as Mercy’s car pulled up outside, here they were. He chose not to glimpse his love getting out with his son and moved quickly back down the stairs to sit on them and surprise whoever was first in. Marin, he guessed from the fact that the clouded silhouette had to jump to get to the sensor. The door opened and she bounded in, full of enthusiasm and youth and leapt straight into his arms. “Smelled ya outside, Uncle Karla,” she said, hugging him tightly as he ignored the pain in one arm and hugged her back, with a kiss that he soon had to replicate for Rodin as Marins’ big sister joined in.

“Is that my loving Husband under there,” Salla said with amusement as she watched the cuddle pile on the stairs.

He managed to look at her, one of Rodin’s ears across his muzzle. “I’ll be with you in a few minutes, Love,” he told the chuckling Lappinean. “Where’d you go, anyhow?”

“Weekly check up for Samnar,” Salla explained as Mercy arrived with the baby in a basket. “The pharma company’s keeping an eye on him as planned.”

“You girls want to let go of him,” Mercy asked her daughters, “so he can hold your cousin?” Her face drooped a little in confusion. “And my… half brother.”

The girls ‘complained’ but complied and Groal helped himself up to his feet and came down. Salla gently took the Orange furred cross with the buck teeth, Celican muzzle and long ears from the basket and put him into the crook of Groals’ sling. The baby looked up at him in confusion, as though he’d never seen anything like his father before. As he’d probably not remember the first day, it was true. Groal tried to think of something to say. “H...hello,” he practically squeaked. He swallowed. “Heya, Samnar,” he tried again, getting some strength into his tone this time as he gently tickled his son under the muzzle and felt the weight on his arm and his chest as the warmth snuggled in slightly. “I’m your father. And you’re the handsomest baby I’ve ever seen, aren’t you?” He smiled happily as he noted Samnar trying to find where the familiar voice was coming from, eyes flicking around before they alighted on Karla’s eyes and held them in an invisible vice. Karla rocked him slightly as the girls held on to his legs and Salla looked on dotingly, her hands together as Groal said silly things with a happy tone.


Hawle sat back in his chair in his cabin and listened to the noises outside as engineers and technicians worked on getting things operational outside. It wasn’t so much that he really wanted to be here but he had the strange feeling that one of the Command staff probably should be, just in case of any… His comm beeped. <”Dawton to Captain,”> the Human said.

He tapped the comm. “David? Thought you were off landside for a hot date?”

<”Was about to hand over to Kella,”> he admitted. <”Then I get a call wanting you. From an unidentified source?”>

“Right. Well,” Hawle admitted, “I’m in my quarters so put it through and toddle off to see your Mican.”

<”Right, sir.”> He cut the line and, Hawle imagined, left as Savra’s face appeared on the screen.

“Captain Savra,” Hawle remarked with a sort of happiness bourne from knowing this was coming. “Have we managed to stave off clan war?”

<”For now, Commander,”> the Celican replied bitterly, his scar moving wickedly as he talked. <”It’ll come by again.”>

“For what it’s worth, he may never live to testify. With those who were paying, it’s unlikely.”

<”Who?”>

“No proof but a Lappinean Cruiser and a Mican cruiser meet. The Lappinean cruiser appears to be an escort.”

<”And the Mican?”>

“Came in firing. Orders to kill, apparently.”

<”Balbury and Thurso.”>

“You never heard it from me. I never warned you.” Hawle turned the link off and erased it from the log.
Last edited by Welsh Halfwit on Wed Dec 14, 2022 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I hope Groal's replacement will still be able to "accidentally" dump things on Hawle from time to time. Or Groal ends up back as part of the crew.
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Welsh Halfwit
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Location: Wales, a luverrly land with noisy neighbours.

Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FIFTY-FIVE

The first week passed by quickly, allowing Hawle to have a small amount of time off that he spent in the countryside with Elena, walking and chatting at leisure with neither of them being expressly well known in the vicinity so, although Stikka had Hawle’s comm number and Mercy had Elena’s, they were largely untroubled by the locals. “It’s been some time since I explored a cave,” the Pekan said as Hawle took her by the waist and lifted her down from the steep steps.

“It’s been quite a while since I explored anywhere on a planet,” he replied happily, letting the wind that came in along the forest river ruffle his shirt against his chest, something he noted Elena watching. He turned on a handlight and gave her half a grin. “I’m told it’s clear of any creatures, my love, but…” He stood upright and straight, pushing his chest out as his ears flicked to rigid. “...I shall defend you, m’lady!”

Elena laughed and pushed past him in her shirt and jeans. “I’ll never fear wild vegetables when I’m with you, my handsome,” she told him, grinning as she playfully drew back a fist, “but I can punch a bad guy as well as you can.”

“Yeah,” Hawle admitted, thinking of the ‘test your strength’ machine at the carnival last night. He was sure it had been rigged somehow…


They explored the cave for a couple of hours before heading back, Elena now wearing a necklace made of cave flowers with stalks that they’d found amongst thousands of others in a small area where the light from above came through a crack in the ceiling and must have, occasionally, escorted the rain with it. “We need to think about getting back,” Elena said with resignation. “You’ve got ‘father of the bride’ duties to work on. And I don’t trust those Human wedding movies we’ve been watching to be one hundred percent accurate on what you’re supposed to do.”

Hawle gave her a more or less chaste kiss on the lips. “There was me thinking you’d appreciate a romantic film or two.”

She tapped his nose. “I don’t think ‘Father of the Bride’ counts. Although it was fun.”

“We could watch it again, if you like? Just so you can find out if you like it or not.”

“We’ll decide when we get back to the cabin,” Elena told him as they got back to the top of the steps and the path back to the cabin. “First one there decides,” she called after she’d started running.

Hawle rolled his eyes, called her a cheat and started after her.


“You were serious,” Raven cursed as she examined the light blue thing she was currently wearing. It was a lot of fabric to look at but nothing to carry, offered no protection from the wind, looked like it would dissolve in the rain and made her feel faintly ridiculous. “I feel like I can rip this thing with an accidental flex!”

“Be nice, Sarina,” Night Barleycorn said from under her similar dress, that reached the floor on her and splayed out slightly behind her. “It was the biggest version the replication system in the shop could manage. It’s not their fault you’re built so powerfully.”

“How come she doesn’t need to do the dress up,” Sarina protested, indicating Maze Hardy, who was reclining against the door in a leather jacket and trousers.”

“Ain’t Raitchian tradition, this wearing dresses thing,” the pilot claimed. “Plus I’m a stand in. Most other females she knows are walking wounded right now and shouldn’t walk too far anyhow. We’ve got a deal. No dress but I’ll wear matching colours. Even if I do look terrible in light blue.”

The bride to be called out from where the tailor was doing the final adjustments to the full white ensemble. “You were always in the top five, Maze,” she claimed. “Magda and Martine were the only ones ahead of you.”

Maze paused in her indolent filing of the clawtips. “Which one’s Martine?”

“Januvitski,” Night put in. “She’ll be joining via videolink, by the way. I’ve helped them set it up.”


“A tuxedo,” Cedar mused, looking over the Russellian as he stood in the back room to the male’s outfitters. The natural barrel chest of his compatriot and upcoming marital sacrifice pushed out the shirt somewhat, so the jacket strained slightly to keep the buttons tight but the split tail enabled his actual tail to move freely through the slot. “That’s what they call it, isn’t it?”

“It is,” Edelmar agreed. “Sarah always said I’d rock one so I’m going to do it. And,” he added, inclining his head, “royal blue is my house colour so it’s got that going for it.”

Cedar put a clawtip to his teeth in thought. “Isn’t black the usual colour?”

“According to the website, they can come in many colours. The traditions we agreed on for the dress are Canid.” He put his palms upward to indicate his respect for some traditions. “The male wears the family colours and the female wears white as a nod towards the transition between family colours. Even if no transition is to occur, y’know?” He paused and thought on something. “I wonder why she giggled when I said she could wear white?”

“Meh,”Cedar commented, pulling at his straw coloured suit, “It’s probably a Human thing.”

“Totally,” Dawton said, entering from the changing rooms in what were obviously trousers with the tail hole patched up in his black suit, “and it’s not something we talk about. Marius is getting his tail hole widened, by the way.”

“He would be the one having trouble,” Polva grumbled, checking to make sure his finger claws didn’t rip the pockets inner fabric. “My ‘best male’.”

“I was a bit insulted,” Dawton commented, “but I should have figured you’d want one of your technician friends.”

“Wasn’t just that,” Edalmar sniffed. “Until you said you were going to bring a ‘plus one…’”

Dawton put two and two together and finally made four. He laughed. “Nah, mate… and I’m using the friend version of that – I was always Sarah’s friend but I knew her eye was never on me!” He stepped over and clapped Polva on the arm. “I’d say the best male won but it was never any contest, you know?”

“Who’ve you got catering the reception,” Cedar asked ‘innocently’, having worked on the preparations for the last few days.

“But… I thought… you were..?” Polva looked horrified until Cedar creased up. “You swine,” he called, throwing a handkerchief at the FieldMican as proceedings continued.
Commander Hawle. U.S.C. Loper. By the talented DDeer.
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Amazee Dayzee
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Re: THE LOPER:- The Chase

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Glad to see Elena and Hawle again! It always feels like its been too long! Good chapter!
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