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#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Fortune Favors...
« on: March 26, 2013, 01:18:47 pm »
Apologies for the delay on the start of book 3, writing this first part was very tedious... but I hope you all enjoy it.

14 June 2014
16:20 Zulu

"Battlestations!"

A red hue filled the room as the primary lights turned off to divert its power to more important systems. Various low power red lights scattered around ops filled the room with their glow. "Positive Shield, now."

Eight half meter thick slabs of reinforced titanium slid up their rails to settle in on top of the viewport glass that surrounded the upper walk around Ops. The slabs blocked out the last of the ambient light from the Sun.

"Rail guns powering up, capacitors charging. Batteries set to hot standby. Auxiliary Power available. All reactors at combat status." Carl dropped the accent for anything important, he almost sounded normal.

"Enemy contact, bearing 147, mark 14. Vector 111 stroke 5. Range 2500 kilometers and closing. Velocity 120 m/s. Acceleration, 1.5 gees."  Roger settled in at tactical.

James wanted to be seated there, but knew that he had another job to be doing, "Do you have a lock?"

"Affirmative, sir. They're out of plasma range, but slugs can still reach out and touch them.”

“Then reach out and touch them. Lieutenant.”

He smiled, “Aye sir, Firing.”  James watched the main table as the projections of the shells flew through space towards the enemy ship.  The projection continued past the ship. “One hit and a miss, sir.”

James nodded, “Fire as they bear, Lieutenant, Target the ship's engines.”

Roger nodded, “Aye sir, targeting engines.”

“Analysis, Sam?”

Sam opened a window on the main table, “Ship appears to have six rail guns, two smaller caliber guns mounted forward.  The bulk of her fire power is in the two guns on either side.”

Two more shells flew out of the station and towards the oncoming ship, James noted that both of them stuck this time, “An interesting distribution of fire power.”

Carl shook his head, “They probably can't power all six guns at the same time anyways.”

James nodded his head in a concession of point, “It also has the advantage of being able to pummel us constantly, and once we've shot up one side, they can simply do a half-roll and give us a fresh side.”

Sam shrugged, “She can also simply orbit us, it looks like that's her plan to begin with.  It'll be interesting to see what kind of range she has on her guns.”  As she spoke two puffs of smoke blew out from the ship's forward guns, the window on the table that showed the enemy ship was briefly obscured as one of the slugs whizzed by the external camera.

Ammanda noted the impacts, “Direct hits, no damage.”

James frowned, “Keep an eye on them, I want to know if they want to try to board us.”

Sam's demeanor changed to a slight panic, “They do also apparently have two ship-to-ship missile ports, if they have any Nuclear Weapons, they could one shot us.”

James put his hand on her shoulder, “They want us in one piece, just hope that they aren't opposed to us being around if they can't have us.”

Ammanda noted two more impacts, “Still no damage sir, her forward guns do not seem capable of cracking our armor.”

James looked at her, “We're trading slugs at long range, it also doesn't mean that her broadside guns can't hurt us.”

Roger flashed a thumbs up from Tactical, “They're entering Plasma range in twenty seconds.”

James smiled, “Switch to Plasma now.  This might be a rude shock for them.”

“Switching, ten seconds to Plasma range.”

“They're still coming in at an oblique angle.”  Sam updated the analysis screen to indicate where Roger had hit them.  “I see some slight buckling around one of the impact points.

“Roger, see if you can hit that spot again.”

“Aye, sir.”  Roger entered a command, “Firing Plasma.”

Two bright orange bolts flew towards the ship, James tracked their path on his monitor, and watched the bolts ripple around the impact point when they struck the target.  Armor plating exploded off the ship where it hit.  “I think that got their attention.”

Sam nodded, “Indeed, they are adjusting their course, coming straight for us now, range now 1500 kilometers.”

Ammanda noted two more impacts, “But their forward guns are still ineffective.  Wait, that last one shattered a window on Promenade sub-deck 2.  Unit two-one-four is exposed to vacuum.  Apparently, the window shield didn't completely seal.”

James turned to her, “Was anyone in there?”

She shook her head, “Negative, I've already got a damage control team heading there to seal the breach.”

Two more explosions rocked the enemy ship, and she banked hard away.  Sam was the first to notice, “They're now at one thousand kilometers, they're turning to broadside us!”

Two puffs of smoke flew out from the ship's broadside guns, and while they didn't feel the impact, those shells more than made their presence known, in the form of alarms ringing out from Engineering.  “We've lost reactor one!  Power Line is severed, and the core went into emergency shutdown!”

Carl nodded, “We're OK.  The containment housing is holding it all in.”

“How are you doing Roger?”

He shrugged, “Fine for now, but I'm starting to use the batteries.”

“He's exposed his engines to us, let em have it.”

Three bolts of energy leaped from the guns, striking the ship in her in the delicate engine area, the explosions tore holes in the side of the ship.  It immediately lurched towards them as her port engine went dead.  After she righted herself again, she responded with another broadside salvo.

“There goes the other reactor!”  Carl shouted.

"Hull Breach! Promenade, section 3!  We're venting atmosphere!”  Ammanda furiously tried to issue orders to her damage control teams.

James looked towards tactical, "Weapons status?"

"Two railguns out, Railgun 4 is operating in low power mode."

Carl stood up from his station, "Both Reactors are offline, auxiliary power is down to 20% and our batteries are almost depleted. We're done."

James nodded and frowned, "Alright." He raised his voice over the wailing sirens, "Computer, End Program."
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Grim Reaper

• The 4th Horseman, the Lord of Death
• Lt.
• Posts: 577
• Gender:
• Beyond the apocalypse
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2013, 02:22:21 pm »
Lol, that last line is rather a disappointment from a surprise perspective.  But since the rest is so good I forgive you
Snickers@DND: If there is one straight answer in that bent little head of yours, you'd better start spillin' it pretty damn quick, or I'm gonna take a large, blunt object, roughly the size of Kallae AND his hat and shove it lengthwise up a crevice of your being so seldomly cleaned that even the denizens of the nine hells would not touch it with a 10-feet rusty pole

• Lt.
• Posts: 737
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##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2013, 02:36:36 pm »
.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2016, 01:18:44 pm by Captain Adam »

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2013, 05:12:57 pm »
hmm... didn't think of that one.  Had I known that was the last line of These are the Voyages, I certainly would have written just a bit differently.  The thing was, when I read that B&B considered TatV a "Valentine" to the fans, I knew immediately that I wasn't going to like it, and refused to watch it, any part of it.  I read "The Good That Men Do" and was almost tempted to watch it just because of the way that Andy Mangels and Micheal Martin re-wrote the episode.  But I still didn't.  More to come very very soon.
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2013, 12:38:04 am »
James looked around Ops as the lights went back to normal.  The sirens stopped going off and the windows re-opened.  Outside, the freighter hovered just above the windows, it too, was resetting it's computer systems to bring it back to normal operations.  “Well, let's have the rundown, what happened, why, and how do we address it?”

Sam spoke up first, “What happened, was that Micheal started targeting unfinished sections of the station.”  She pointed to a pair of spots on the station core, “He hit us here, and here, and severed both of our reactors with just a couple of well placed shots.”

Carl shrugged, and readopted his accent, “It might justa do well t' armor dose parts anywa.”

Roger raised his hand, “Question, while I liked the explosions on the freighter's hull, it made it easier to see where I hit once they got into plasma range, is that what we're expecting, or was that just added?”

Sam nodded, “It's what we're expecting.  The armor isn't exploding, nor is the Plasma making the armor explode.  What the Plasma is doing is super-heating gasses trapped just beneath the armor layer.  We've gone over simulations, and even done lab experiments, unless the armor plating is more than meter thick, or made of a titanium composite that is very cost-prohibitive to manufacture in bulk, it will not be able to withstand the force of those gasses expanding.  Plus the Plasma is also melting away some of the armor to begin with, further weakening the armor's integrity before the explosion.”

Roger nodded, “We need more Capacitor Capacity.  After the connection to the mains were cut, I only had enough power for 2 shots.  Auxiliary power is only enough to power life-support, it provides no combat advantage, and the batteries were depleted far too fast.”

“Sir, we can't armor the entire conduit.”  Ammanda called out, “Specifically we can't armor where the reactor housing meets the station core, any damage to armor in that area could prevent a clean ejection.  I'm afraid that's going to be a weakness until we finish that part of the station.”

“A third reactor woulda kepd us in tha fight longer.”

“Long enough to be victorious?”

James smiled as he moved to the side, and let his people run the conversation, Sam's last question was a good one, of all the people, she had been working the hardest on this simulation and scenario.  Probably in an attempt to make up for what she had already done, to them, and to him.  When he read her report to him after her mia culpa, he was furious that he had allowed her to take advantage of him like that.

“One or two more salvos would have been all I needed to knock them out.”

“So a third reactor, or reinforce the power conduits?”

Yasamin had quickly decided that this was more interesting than her reading, and James had noticed something later that day when he spotted Yasamin studying an access panel just a few meters down the corridor from his quarters.  He had taken to Yasamin the way a father would to an adopted child, so when she asked what was behind that panel, he opened it up for her and let her take a look around.  After she was done poking her head around inside it, she had “danked” him and scurried off.  What he didn't realize at the time was that she had plans to return only moments later.

“Why deya think we cant do bof, Mandy?  I kin make tha plating, an Mikey kin bring up a new reactor.”

Yasamin had climbed into the access panel, and worked her way down the cramped ventilation ducting.  There she waited, with just her PDA for company.  It was several hours before he had returned for the night.  Not ten minutes later, Sam had walked up to his door, reached for the buzzer, but stopped, just shy of the button.  Her fingers trembled as she had backed away from the call button, and she slipped to the floor, gently sobbing. She sat there for almost a half hour, she did everything she could to keep the sobbing as silent as possible.  Then she got up, wiped away her eyes, and walked out of Yasamin's sight.  That next morning, Yasamin relayed the story to James, and it had encouraged James to try to squeeze his frame through the air vent.

“Iron plating wouldn't be very useful against a Plasma attack.”

When the same thing had happened that night, he dwelled on that for the entire evening.  Her report has said that the personal interaction was not part of her orders, it was a suggestion, and only if she had felt comfortable with it.  In truth, she wrote, she felt very comfortable with it, and had from the very beginning, but the book on fraternization was drilled into her, and it was only after she had been given permission, that she had actually felt like she could act on it.  James hadn't known how much he had believed that, and truth be told, he still wasn't sure now.

“Not everyone is going to be throwing Plasma around, Ammanda.  The Plasma has to be kept stable, too much motion and it goes inert.  This station is the only place in the Solar System that can use the Plasma.”

In an attempt to get some kind of direction on it, the next night he waited at the threshold, listening for her foot steps.  He had almost given up for the night when he had gone fifteen minutes without hearing a footstep.  But then he heard her sobbing, and a part of his heart cracked, he opened the door and invited her in.  It was a long sleepless night for the both of them as they wandered around his cabin, talking.  They had agreed to a once a week meeting, where they would talk.  Asking questions, answering questions.  Often times they were the same questions, just reworded differently.  If they were both satisfied with the talk, they would embrace, and bid each other good night.  It had become a bit of a ritual for them, one that they would continue tonight.

“Sam is right, but that doesn't mean that we can't plan for a time when they do find a way to keep it stable even on a ship.”  James brought himself back into the conversation, “See if you can strip armor from less vital areas and apply it to the conduits.  And then look for a way to protect the vulnerable spots without encumbering them.  Maybe a way to stop the shots short.  I'll see about switching up our transport schedule and getting a third reactor up here.”  He spared a stare at Sam, “Or maybe Sam can get that Fusion Reactor working, and we won't have to worry about it anymore.  Patch me through to Micheal.”

Micheal's voice boomed through the overhead speakers, “Sorry about kicking your ass Captain.  But it was awfully close.”

James nodded, “It was indeed.  Anything on your end that you noticed?

“Your power systems are extremely vulnerable.  And your guns are exposed.  I had plenty of things to shoot at, and not enough slugs to throw at you.”

James frowned, not liking one bit that piece of news, “Anything else?”

“Not as important, but your docking arms look pretty brittle too.  Not that an enemy would gain anything by hitting your docking arms, except making it cost more to repair the station afterward.”

James glanced over to Ammanda, “Do you think it would be worth armoring the docking arms?”

Ammanda nodded, “We have a lot of money in those arms, all the security systems, they also can serve as escape vehicles if necessary.”

James sighed, “Alright, looks like I have a report to write to our investors, see if they are willing to spring for some more armor plating.”

Sam looked at him, “Will they?”

James shook his head, “Probably not, we'll have to wait until we get a revenue stream inbound before they'll do it.”
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2013, 02:23:13 am »
(Last one for the accelerated Schedule, I'll get back to a more normal one per week schedule now, but I had put a self-imposed deadline of March 11 to start this new chapter, and as you can tell I missed it.  Not because I didn't have stuff written, I did, but as I said the battle was incredibly tedious to write and took almost four weeks longer to write than I expected it to.  I did, however get about ten parts done in that time, which allowed me to catch up once I got it finished)

19:45 Zulu

“Captain.”

James looked down into the pit from his position over Ammanda's shoulder, where they were going over Damage Control response time from the drill.  He could tell by the tone of Sam's voice that she was not terribly thrilled with the news she was about to relay.

“I have the assistant Deputy Director of the NSA on the line for you.”

He stood up and fixed her with a stare, “Him?”

She nodded, “Yes, sir.”

He nodded and began to walk around the upper tank, “I'll take it in my office.”  He wasn't in a hurry to make it to his office, but unfortunately for him, he found precious little to distract him on his walk there, instead different mindsets warred for control of his thought process.  He had never met, or spoken to Robert Thomas before.  He was present in the call just under two months ago when Sam had abruptly given him her resignation, but Director Thomas should have been unaware that he was watching.  He knew the man to be a weasel, as most spies had to be, often times talking out of both sides of his mouth, and his ass at the same time.  He could only imagine what this call was about, and whether or not he should spring on him that he knows what they were planning.

He wasn't worried too much about the threatened court-martial, he had enough without Sam's “breach of faith” to pin him down and eviscerate him.  Nicole had managed, late last week, to decode the messages between the two of them.  That, coupled with information that Khan had been secretly providing him were just another way of confirming the truth of what was in Sam's report.  James didn't want to assign guilt to the entire US Government, Major Christopher's Trailblazer project was still in the planning phase, and he had good working relationships with the DoD and even the State Department.  Sooner or later, though, he was going to have to confront the NSA on their plot, he just wondered if now was the best time.

The doors closed behind him, and as a courtesy, he locked them.  Sam didn't mention if what was about to be discussed was in anyway secret, but it was always better to err on the side of caution.  He rounded the desk and deactivated his magnetic boots, he always found it more relaxing to not be anchored to anything during stressful conversations.  He pressed the button on his terminal to bring the call up.

“Captain Atkinson.”  The man's face was familiar, but neutral, not betraying any information that he was about to give.

“Assistant Deputy Director Thomas,”  James made sure to pronounce every syllable of his full title, slowly, for effect. “What can I do for you today?”

He raised an eyebrow, “I was unaware you knew who I am.”

James smiled back at him, “You'd be surprised who I know in the US Government.  Granted, I only know you by reputation.”

“Ah, good things?”

He feigned disappointment, “Oh, well, such is my job.  Anyways, to business.”

James steeled himself, “Go on.”

Robert took  a deep breath, “At 14:13 Central Daylight Time, we lost contact with all twenty seven drone over the city of Houston, Texas.  All the drones were lost.  At the moment, we don't know how.  We were hoping you could help us in our investigation.”

Now it was James's turn to express shock, “I'm not sure what is more disturbing, the fact that you had twenty-seven drones flying over the fourth largest city in the US, or the fact that you lost all of them at the same time.”

“Only ten were ours, Captain.  The other seventeen belonged to other entities, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Houston Police Department, Central Intelligence Agency, among others.”

“What do you need from me?  I'm almost three-hundred thousand kilometers away.”

“We're aware that you have some assets in the area, and would like a confirmation that it was not your doing.”

James chuckled, “Knocking twenty-seven drones out of the sky at once, that would be quite an accomplishment.  If we had a point-defense system that good, I would sleep soundly every night.”

He frowned, “Telemetry from the recovered drones indicated that they did not immediately crash following the loss of signal.  We suspect that someone, or something, jammed them.  There was no unusual activity reported by the National Weather Service, nor was there any radiation surge in the surrounding area that might have interfered with their transmitters.”

James had shrunk his image down to a smaller window as he queried his Houston facility, “Was there anything else?  A power failure at a relay station? Electromagnetic interference?  You're going to have to give me more than that if you expect my help.”

He hesitated, but then apparently decided that what he was holding back wasn't that secret. “Johnson Space Center lost their direct link to the International Space Station's main computer for fifteen minutes, they never lost radio, or video signal, but they did lose their control link.  It cleared up by itself precisely fifteen minutes after it had started.”

James nodded, “I see, something jammed the drone channels, but didn't jam Radio, or Television channels.”

“Correct, none of the broadcast facilities, Radio or Television, reported interference with their operations.  No complaints of satellite or internet interruptions.  It was specifically targeted at Drone Channels.”

James shook his head as he brought his picture back to the full screen, “I've got nothing that went on at my Houston Facility.  In fact, my Chief Engineer was conversing with them at that time, and they made no mention of any interference.”

James shrugged, “We're trying to re-arrange our transport schedule, get the third reactor up here faster, it might not be easy because they are behind schedule in building it, and we can't afford the overtime.”

“No electronic devices are being built there?”

James shook his head, “No, they only build the Fission Reactors there.  Any electronics that we develop are built at our West Texas Facility.  Far enough away from the major metropolitan areas that if they did have the ability to do what happened over Houston, we'd only be knocking down drones we really don't want there in the first place.”

“We don't have any drones over your West Texas Facility, Captain.”

“Bullsh*t.”  James waved off his response, “Mr. Thomas, I trust you about as far as I can throw you.  And you think your stealth systems are so good that we can't spot them.  You should have realized by now that your stealth systems just don't work well against LIDAR.  The reason we haven't shot them down is because we don't care that they are there.  We're annoyed, especially when they take their sweet time to get out of our launch space, but until they become more than a nuisance, we're more than willing to pretend we don't see them.”

“Captain... I...”  Robert was nervous, maybe for the first time James had seen him look it too, “You're right, Captain.  I apologize.  It's Agency policy to deny it.”  He was trying hard to extricate his foot from his mouth, “We should have known that you knew.  I forget sometimes that your capabilities rival, and even exceed ours at times, which is why we were contacting you for assistance in the first place.”

James smiled, “Now you're flattering me.  I know that we don't exceed you in any place.  We match you in several, but the only place we exceed you is that some countries are more willing to be more open to us than they are to you.  Our neutrality, our willingness to stay out of Terrestrial Affairs, has given us easier sight around the world, along with the superior positioning of our assets.”

He stared at the screen and a smile began to form, “I was hoping that you'd still feel some nationalist pride, and offer any information that your 'neutrality' has provided you.  We'd make sure that no one got wind that you helped us, and we could reward you in other ways too.”

<i>Guess it's time to drop the shoe</i> James thought, “I'm not so sure I trust your method of keeping secrets, Mr. Thomas.”

His face fell, “What do you mean?”

James glared at him, “Emperor Khan has provided me some, interesting, reading regarding your previous communications to my station.”

Robert stared blankly at the screen as he tried to form his face into a mask of impassiveness, “I don't know what you're talking about, Captain.”

James smiled, “I'm sure you don't.”  He reached for the comm button, “You might want to have someone go over those encryption algorithms of yours.  L-1 Out.”  James pressed the button, terminating the call.  He had pressed the button hard enough that he had pushed himself upwards and had to reach down to grab the desk before he needed to wait to hit the ceiling to come back down.  While he was reaching down, he pressed the intercom button to call Ops, “Sam, could you come in here for a moment?”  As he pulled himself down he unlocked the door and settled back into the chair.

She entered a moment later, “Yes, sir?”

He waited for the door to close completely behind her before responding, “I hinted.”

Her face was expressionless, “I see.”

“Ok, I did more than hint.  I outright told him that Khan had provided me some interesting reading on his interactions with this station.”

She relaxed slightly, “And?”

“He tried to deny it, and I didn't give him a whole lot of opportunity to respond.  I didn't need to hear him try to wriggle his way out of it, but that's not why I wanted to see you.  How's the Fusion Reactor project coming?”

She looked at him confused, “We discussed this yesterday, I'm at an impasse.”

“Could a change of scenery help just a bit?  You've been working awfully hard on it, and maybe you just need a break.”

“You're not sending me away, are you?  I thought...”  She stopped, “I thought we were rebuilding our relationship.”

“We are.”  He raised his hand to stop her next statement, “And yes, I'm sending you back to Earth, temporarily.”

“How temporary?”  She tensed for an answer she didn't really want to here.

“A month, maybe less.”  He paused for a moment as he considered how to word his next statement, “I need your brain down there, and your connections.  Somewhere in Houston, someone has built an extremely powerful, and extremely selective, electronic jamming device.  I want it. But so does the NSA.  The NSA is going to be willing to go to some lengths to get it, they may even be willing to kill for it.  I'm not willing to go that far, but needless to say such a device could help us immensely up here.  If it can jam Drone Channels, I'd imagine that it could do a passable job of jamming targeting systems too.”

She nodded, “Where do I begin?”

James thought for a moment, “You begin at the local power stations, Centerpoint Energy I believe is the primary power provider in the area.  Such a device would have to take in a lot of power to operate for fifteen minutes.  But you'll have to be quick about it, the NSA is bound to be just in front of us on this.”

“I can call the power stations from here, but I'll obviously need to get to the surface quickly, and Micheal isn't heading back until next week.”

He nodded, “I'll have Carl put an extended tank on a shuttle, you can jettison it in orbit, and Micheal can pick it up when he arrives.”

She looked out the window behind him, Earth was beginning to enter the view, “Anything else?”

“Better pack a weapon.”
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2013, 01:29:16 am »
23:10 Zulu

James held himself up on the promenade railing as he waited for Sam's shuttle to leave it's launch bay. He stared out into space, Earth rising in the window, lost in his thoughts.  He wondered if he was making the right decision.

“Are you sure this is such a good idea?”  Micheal slipped on to the railing beside him, echoing his thoughts.

“Not really, no.”  James sighed as he shifted his stance slightly to open himself up to his friend. “We were supposed to have another talk tonight, but I don't know just how much more I can get out of our conversations.  I want to trust her.  But I can't bring myself to do it just yet.”

Micheal shook his head, “So this is a trust-building exercise?”

James turned his head and looked at him as though that thought had not occurred to him, “I could have come up with a safer exercise.”

Micheal nodded, “Yes, you could have.  Instead you sent her off on a wild goose chase that could wind up with her being arrested, or killed.  And she's going to do it, because she wants to get back into your good graces.”  Sam's shuttle rocketed away from the station, thrusters going full open as she sped off towards Earth.  “There she goes.  She's going to get tangled up with the NSA again, something she has tried hard in the last two months to distance herself from, and then you had to let the cat out of the bag that you knew why she was here.  Had you just stayed quiet about her spying for them, they probably wouldn't even care that she's snooping around down there.  Now they may want her to find out just what she told you, and they'll find out.  And it will be her hide.”

James nodded, accepting the criticism as Sam's shuttle flare was lost to the distance involved.  He closed his eyes, “That may not have been my first mistake I've made since getting up here, but it's the first one that may cost someone their life.” He slammed his open palm down on the railing, his gravity boots kept him in place as the sound echoed through the promenade and drew more than a couple of stares, “Damn it!  Why did I have to be so damned cocky?”

Micheal placed his hand on James' shoulder, “You could still recall her.  She doesn't have to land.”

James shook his head, “No, she won't turn back now.  Even if I begged.  I've had to be careful in my conversations with her.  Even a suggestion, an off handed comment, and she does it.”

Micheal frowned, “If she won't turn around, then is there anything you can do to help her?”

He frowned back, “You know we don't have those kind of resources.”

Micheal nodded, “But you know people that do.”

James turned sharply on him, “If they find out, they'll hang her for sure!  If they don't she'll be sure that I don't trust her.”

Micheal placed both hands on his shoulders to calm him, “She doesn't have to know that she's being helped.  And right now, if she does get caught, I can't see them not locking her up and throwing away the key.  Are you willing to risk a jail-break to get her back, or will you just let her rot in Fort Leavenworth?”

James stopped, “Maybe we don't have to do either.”

Micheal tilted his head, curious, “What do you mean by that?”

James smiled, “Maybe it's time to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.”  He pushed himself away from the railing and started to walk.

He raised his eye brows, “I don't follow...”

James placed his arm around Micheal's shoulder, ushering him along as he moved to the lift, “Spy business, the right hand doesn't always know what the left hand is doing.  Its possible that this is a rogue operation, its possible that the entire NSA knows what's happening, but no one else does.  It's also possible that this plot originates from the Oval Office.  Let's find out just who knows what, and why.”

Micheal shook his head, “What is that going to accomplish?”

James grinned mischievously, “If it's a rogue NSA operation, a call to General Alexander will put a stop to it.  If it's the NSA that's gone rogue, a call to Secretary Hagel can shield her somewhat from it.”

Micheal shook his head, “If the order comes directly from the President?”

James nodded, “Then perhaps it's time I answered those messages from the Republican National Committee.”
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2013, 02:04:13 am »
Ellington Field
Houston, Texas
15 June 2014
07:10 CDT

Sam wasn't out of the shuttle for more than five minutes before she regretted not bringing lighter clothing.  The first thing she noticed was the humidity, such a stark contrast to the carefully controlled climate on board the station.  Even at 7 AM local time, the sun was barely over the horizon, and it felt like she was walking into a sauna.  The temperature at the moment wasn't much different than the twenty-two degrees it was kept on the station at all times.  But she knew that the air was going to get much hotter as the sun rose above the morning haze.  Summer had almost arrived in Houston, the high temperature was forecast to be in the upper thirties.

She chose Ellington Field for its proximity, or lack there of, to Bush Intercontinental, she did have one possibility over in that area, but with Intercontinental being a major air traffic hub, it was where she was most likely to run afoul of the NSA, or the CIA.  It was also close enough to a couple of possibilities, and while not off the beaten path, certainly less likely to draw attention, and James had made sure that the single Air-Traffic Controller on site “missed” her landing.

Of course, they had to know that someone was here in Houston, it would have been hard to miss her shuttle enter orbit, and it would have been even harder to miss her descent.  While they may not know who is down here, they know someone is, and they probably know what that person is looking for, and they had almost a day's head start on her.

Ellington field also had her best choices of resources.  The local Coast Guard Air Station was here, as was National Guard Air Posting.  While not Air Force, she knew at least one of the soldiers at the post, and he was willing to loan her his car.  That was what she was waiting on right now, as she waited she reviewed what she had from Centerpoint and Reliant, the two major electricity providers in the area.  One of her potentials was in Clear Lake, just on the other side of the drainage ditch that separated Ellington Field from Clear Lake.  The likelihood of an EM device being there was low, the proximity of Johnson Space Center made it too easy to discover.  Another possibility was just north of here, in Pasadena, although she ranked that one as low too, a couple of refineries were very sporadic in their energy usage leading up to the event, and even now are continuing.  Probably as a result of ongoing maintenance at the facilities.

A silver Ford Sedan pulled up in front of her, and with the passenger window down she heard a voice she hadn't heard in years, “Samantha Carter.”

She smiled as she leaned into the open window, “Peter Thompson.  You regret going Air Guard yet?”

The red-haired man opened the door to allow her to get in, as she sat down he grabbed her bag and put it into the back seat, carefully setting it along side the empty infant seat, “Not at all, with all the trouble you've gotten yourself into lately, I was going to ask you if you regretted going Air Force, yet.”

She spared a glance at where he set the bag down as she buckled herself in, “Not a chance, I am where I want to be now.  How's Becky?”

He offered a sheepish grin as he put the car into drive and made their way to the exit, “She's fine.  Not happy that I'm spending my off day chauffeuring you around town, rather than with her and the kids, but it's not every day you get to spend it with an astronaut, even around here.  She said she'd forgive both of us if you stopped by to see Matthew.  He's eight years old now, and he can't decide if he wants to be a pilot like his dad, or an astronaut.”

She looked over at him astonished, “Has it really been eight years?”

He nodded, “Katie's five, and Billy turned six months, yesterday.  Where are we going first, Sam?”

“River Oaks.”  Sam picked the first one at random, it was a mostly residential area with a few medical buildings near the loop.  Over the last three months, it has seen a significant increase in energy usage, more usage that she could logically account for.

“River Oaks is mostly residential, I thought we were looking for something more, industrial.”

“We're not looking for something that's being mass-produced.  I'm looking for something that is most likely in a prototype stage.  It could very well be in someone's garage, although with the amount of power it would need to work, I doubt it.  I have three places in River Oaks I want to stop by.  The first one is a storage facility on San Felipe.”

Peter turned the car onto the Gulf Freeway's feeder and sped up to match the morning commute traffic, it was slow, even for a Sunday, and he had no difficulty merging into traffic.  “You really think someone is going to work on a Jamming Device in a storage facility?”

She shook her head, “Not really, but a storage facility provides a way to stay out of sight of people that know you, and could get curious.  24 hour access.  Given how infrequently storage facilities are used, it's also a pretty private place.”

“Getting power into one of those facilities is not easy though.”

“No, but the reason I'm looking at this one in particular is that it is not far from a power sub-station.  While it wouldn't be easy, it wouldn't be difficult either.”

He nodded, “You have the address?”

“4200 San Felipe.”

Peter keyed the address into his GPS, “Looks like about a twenty five minute drive.”

She noted the distance and the size of the city in general, “You Texans don't do anything small do you?”

“You're one to talk, just how big is that station of yours?”

She laughed, “It was designed by a Texan.”

“I see.”  He made a move to pass a slower car in front of him, “So just what kind of trouble are you in, Sam?  You didn't elaborate in your last couple of messages.”

She shrugged as she looked out the window, “I got tangled up in the darker side of the Government.  NSA.”

He looked at her apprehensively, “Did you cross them?”

She scowled, “They crossed me.”

“What happened?”

*****

07:40 CDT

“Yeah, I see the power station, just on the other side of the rail line.”  Peter pointed up at a transmission tower as he got out of the car, “And then look at this, it would be a rather simple matter to hook it up to this tower.  It's literally only a couple feet from the building.”

“They'd have to step down the power current to make it useful, but if they've developed a method of jamming drone signals, making a step down device would be child's play.”  Sam closed her door and opened the rear passenger door.  She fished through her bag for her pistol, and tucked it into her waist line.

Peter regarded her for a moment, “You have to keep that concealed here, and that's assuming you have a CHL.”

She smiled, “I'm an active duty officer, I'm allowed to carry in a high-risk zone.”  She wrapped her uniform shirt around her waist to cover the pistol.

He half frowned, “I'm not so sure Houston would be classified as a high-risk area.”

She nodded, “It's a point that could be argued, which is all I need to be able carry it.”

Peter turned his attention to the lettering on the office door, “They open at ten today, did you call in advance?”

“I did.”  Sam walked up to the office door and peered through the glass, “The lady said she'd be up here early... There she is.”  Sam waved at a woman inside the office.

A moment later the older Hispanic lady opened the door, and looked at the two of them expectantly, “Can I help you?”

Sam smiled at her, “Captain Samantha Carter, United States Air Force.  We spoke over the phone yesterday.”

“Ah, Sí.  Yes, come in.”  She pushed the door open for them to enter.

Sam pointed at a camera as they walked in, “I was wondering if we could start by reviewing the footage from that camera from yesterday?”

The lady nodded and led them into the back of the office.
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Captain Sharp

• Posts: 161
• R. Lee Ermy for Prez, 2016!
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2013, 09:11:28 pm »
Liking! Keep it up, sir!

And was very jolted by the 'Computer, end program' line. Guess the fight scene roped me...

--guv
"Jayne?"

"Yeah?"

"You wanna tell me why there's a statue of you here lookin' like I owe him something?"

"Wishin' I could, Captain. "

#### KBF-Frank

• Posts: 22
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2013, 10:17:19 pm »
is the same sam carter from sg1?

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2013, 12:36:30 am »
I covered Sam's "Origins" here: http://www.dynaverse.net/forum/index.php/topic,163392387.0.html  I did base her character somewhat off the SG-1 character.  This whole story is set in our time-frame,  Star Trek, Star Gate, Star Wars, etc., all exist in pop culture.

L-1
17:12 Zulu

James rapped his fingers against his desk in annoyance.  He was being stonewalled, and he didn't appreciate it one bit. At least I had the presence of mind to do this in my cabin rather than in my office.  On more than one occasion he was happy to simply stretch his toes out, something that was difficult, if not impossible to do while he was in magnetic boots.  He glanced down at his bare feet, and wiggled the toes again, “Sometimes you just take some things for granted,” he said to himself with a small smile.  He felt a lot more comfortable on the Grav Deck in recent weeks, a by product of the deck settling in he supposed.  He spared a glance back at the computer on his desk, the screen was still filled with the 'Hold Please' message.  He knew how difficult it was to get a hold of some people on Sunday, but there were still people on duty on the weekend in all areas of the Government.  Maybe not a place like the Post Office, or the Food Stamp Administration, but there was always someone available in the NSA, or the FBI, and certainly the Pentagon, which was where he was currently on hold with.

A light tapping on his door brought his attention behind him, Micheal was already walking into his Cabin, with a couple of mugs of coffee, and a spherical object that he couldn't quite identify from where he was sitting. “I figured you'd need a refill by now,” he said as he set one of the mugs down on the desk beside him.

“Much Obliged.” James finished the last of the coffee in the mug that was already on the desk, set it down and reached for the new mug.

“Anything yet?”

He shook his head as he took the first sip of the new mug, “Nope.  I have to admit it's hard being subtle about this, but one doesn't just outright ask, 'who is involved in the plot to take over my station?' I have to be a little more delicate about the questions.”

“But that's going to take too long.”  Micheal took a drag from his own mug.

James shrugged, “Yeah, but, what can I do?  That's the problem with dealing with spies.  They're duplicitous by nature.”

James turned to face him, “What do you mean?”

Micheal tossed him the sphere, when James caught it, he finally recognized it for what it was, just a rubber ball.  But what surprised him the most was that it followed almost perfectly the arc of a normal ball when tossed on Earth.  After months of being without any gravity at all, he found the return to normalcy, abnormal.  While he was studying the ball, Micheal elaborated, “No one in the US Government is going to give you a straight answer, those that might, probably have no clue that this was even happening.  Why don't you try going to a source outside of the Western Alliance?”

James tossed the ball back to Micheal, “Like anyone in the Eastern Coalition is going to admit to having spies in the NSA.”

Micheal tossed the ball back, “How about Colonel Liao?”

James caught the ball and squeezed it tightly, “It's hard to say, Chinese spies were found at every level of the US Government a couple years back, and it's not unreasonable to believe that they are still there.  But the question becomes two part.  One, Can I trust anything she says? And two, how many of those spies are still loyal to her, and not Jintao?  I mean lets not fool ourselves, a lot of those spies were Communists, and given the way Colonel Liao has slaughtered anyone even suspected of being a Communist or a Communist sympathizer, I doubt many of those spies still feel the obligation to work for China any more.  One thing with the hard left, Ideology trumps everything, even nationalism.  And there's only one place in the world right now where Communists even feel comfortable, and that's the Western Alliance.  Even North Korea is nervous because Liao could invade at any moment, and no one would lift a finger to stop her.”

Micheal raised an eyebrow, “You missed the Southern Hegemony.”

James shook his head as he tossed the ball back to him, “Not really, First Minister Paz, isn't all that friendly to Communists either.  Amazing that he won election with Argentina and Venezuela being so solidly socialist for so long.  But he carried the other states by such a large margin, and of course Argentina went for Fernandez, and Venezuela went for Maduro, the two of them split the socialist/communist vote, and Paz slipped in the back door.  Paz won by being a strong orator, and its a talent he's taken to a new level in the First Minister position, he's pushed for strong free market reforms, and the Parliament, is for the moment, going along with it.  Even Vice-Minister Maduro can't stop him, and that's got to have the Communists there uncomfort...”

His computer beeped, “Sorry for the wait, Captain.  I am Warrant Officer Fitch, how can I help you today?”

“Mr. Fitch.  As I understand it you are one of the liaisons between the NSA and the DoD.”  It wasn't a question, it was a statement.  James looked back at Micheal, he was on the positive side of this being an audio only call, at the moment.  But he knew when he started asking more pertinent questions, he'd be wishing there was a video component to it.

“Yes, Sir.”

James turned to the computer, “I don't need, or want to know any of the details, Mr. Fitch.  But I want to know if there has been any communication between your departments regarding a project called, Goldfinger.”

“Goldfinger, sir?”

James looked back up at Micheal, and mouthed the word, 'maybe', “Yes, Mr. Fitch.”

“Do you really expect to get an answer from him?”  Micheal tossed the ball back at him.

James caught it, threw it up against the wall, and let it bounce back to Micheal, “No.  I don't.  It's how he doesn't give me an answer, that will decide my next step.”

“What are you expecting then?”  Micheal asked as he bobbled, but caught the ball.

James shrugged as Micheal tossed the ball back against the wall, “One of three things. First, most likely, he'll claim he has no knowledge of the project.”  He knocked the ball down and picked it up on the bounce.  “He could either be telling the truth, or that could be the instructions he's received to tell anyone who calls asking about it.  Second, he transfers me to someone higher in the Defense Department, who's job it is to find out what I know about the project.”  James bounced the ball back towards Micheal, “Third, he hangs up on me.”

Micheal caught the ball and held on to it, “Two and Three indicate that they do know something about it.  But you said One is the most likely, how are you going determine what is what from number One?”

James sighed, “Well this is where I am wishing he was on a Video Call.  It would have been far easier to tell if I could see his face.  I'm going to be listening, for something in his voice, or in the way he words it.  I'm not sure what it is just yet, but I hope I'll know it when I hear it.”

Micheal set the ball down on the desk, “And if you can't?”

James picked up his coffee mug and took another drink, “Then I...”

The computer beeped again, but when a video image popped up he was quite shocked, “Nice try, Captain.”

James hoped he did a good job of hiding his face behind his coffee mug as he recovered from the shock, “Mr. Thomas.”  He set the mug down and smiled at him.

“I would appreciate it if you stopped pestering the peons about a scrapped project.”

James kept the smile on his face as he stared at the man's somewhat disheveled appearance, “I'm not entirely certain I should believe you when you say you've scrapped it.”

He nodded, “It's been scrapped, James.  When Captain Carter resigned we ran the sims, without her assistance, there was virtually no chance of taking your station without destroying it, or causing heavy damage to it in the process.  If it would put your mind at ease, I can send you the sim results.”

Robert smiled back at him, “Impressive, Captain.  You've done your homework.  But none of that information would have been hard to find.  And yes, I was looking for something to get myself recognition, not from this Administration, but from the next one, whomever's that may be.  However, as I sit here right now, I don't think I really need to go too far out of my way now.  There's no doubt in my mind that I'll be on the short list for DD, or even Director once the new administration takes over in 2017.  I know you don't trust me at the moment Captain, but I am going to make it my mission over the next three years to help you trust me.  Because I intend to be working closely with you once my current supervisor resigns.

James lifted an eyebrow at him, “I take it you have something on General Alexander or Mr. Inglis that is going to force their resignations?

Robert shook his head, “That's a surprise, James.  One that, even though I want you to trust me, I am not going to let out of the bag.”

James waved him off, “I really couldn't care less about your internal politicking.  As long as it doesn't affect my station or my personnel.”

Robert nodded, “It doesn't.  But please stop poking around down here.  I've already sent the sims up to you.  And I'll leave your crewmen you sent to Houston alone, if they find what caused the jamming, be sure to let us know, I'll do the same should we find it first.  Good day, James.”  The screen went blank, with the exception of a blinking icon in the corner to indicate a file transfer was in progress.

Micheal put down his coffee mug, “Well, that was enlightening.”

James nodded as he picked his up again, “It was indeed.  The order had to originate from somewhere in the Obama Administration, whether it came from The President himself, is another matter.”

“Do you believe him?”

“Not particularly, no.  But at the same time, he is right, we know its a possibility, we have done drills expecting such a thing.  He knows he's not getting control of the station without a serious fight, and without serious damage to it.”  James took a long draw from his coffee, “I am kind of curious now though, what caused the previous ADD to resign.  What was the row, and why?  Something I am going to have to follow up on now.”

Micheal bowed as he began to back out of the cabin, “I'll leave you to that James.”
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2013, 09:02:03 pm »
Houston, Texas
12:30 CDT

Peter parked the car on the street in front of what looked to be a new warehouse. It was currently unoccupied, but there was signs that it has been used in the last few weeks, "Let's hope this one is more promising than the last."

"This is somewhat of a wild goose chase, all I have to go on is general power usage information, Centerpointe wouldn't give me details any more precise than at the grid level. Saying that privacy laws shielded the customer's data regarding their personal consumption levels. But I do know that the signal had to emanate from inside the Sam Houston Tollway, based on what was affected."

"Well, I appreciate lunch, shall we do this?" Peter turned the car off.

Sam grabbed her pistol from her bag, "Let's go."

Peter got out of the car and gently closed his car door, "I still don't know why you insist on bringing that with you."

Sam closed her door, "I've pissed off some people in the NSA, and with Houston's Gang problem, I don't want to take any chances."

"If this is a gang hole," they started walking up to the warehouse, "Do you really want to go in shooting?"

"No." Sam began scanning the exterior of the building for a possible entryway, "But if they start shooting, I don't want to be unarmed." She pointed to a missing window pane. "There's our way in."

He stuck his head into the empty space when they got to the window, “Looks clear.  Why are we here again?”

Sam stepped through the window, pointing her pistol to each side to clear the room, “We're here,” she began as she helped him through the window, “Because this grid had a 45% spike in energy consumption over the last month.  Which unit, we don't know for sure, but this is the only unit in the grid that currently lies vacant.”

Peter pointed to the foot prints outside, “Not as vacant as the records would lead us to believe.”

Sam nodded as she got out the flashlight from her pocket, “Exactly.”

He glanced around the cavernous room with his own flashlight, “There's a second floor, probably a third after that, it would be faster if we split up.”

She shook her head, “Faster, yes.  But let's stick together, we don't have any backup.”

He frowned, but stuck with her “What if this is the place?”

She slowly moved around a corner, letting the flashlight lead her movements, her pistol following the flashlight every step of the way, “If it is the place, the person here would have to be nervous, he took down a couple dozen drones, and he has to know that the owners of those drones will come looking for him eventually.”

“Are you expecting to get shot at?”  He peered carefully into a closet, but didn't linger long as she continued methodically through the warehouse.

“I've been expecting to get shot at since I landed.”  Sam kicked open a door, and did a once over on the room, “If Robert knows I'm down here, I expect he wants a debriefing.  One I am not looking forward to at all.”

“Why?”  Peter moved his flashlight to shorter ceiling that they just entered, before moving it down to a corner that opened up.

“Captain Atkinson has been careful not to let him know that I spilled the beans on his operation, but Robert is bound to want to know if I verified any of it, and what exactly I said.”

They reached the end of the warehouse, “Upstairs?”  Sam nodded, Peter relaxed slightly as they made their way back the way they came, “What did you tell him?'

Sam looked back, “Everything.”  She shook her head as she moved forward, “I should never have gotten involved with the NSA to begin with.  I should have known that what they were going to want eventually was going to jeopardize my being on the station.”

Peter turned his light up the stairs, “And you're not OK with that, are you?”

She took the first step, “No!”  After a couple more steps she began to turn the light to either side of the open stairway, “If Major Christopher's project can't get the funding, Captain Atkinson's station is the only way into space right now.  I do not want to be thrown off because he can't trust me!”

They reached the top of the stairs and glanced around, “What's Major Christopher's project?”

Sam stopped, and lowered her head, “sh*t...” she shook her head slowly, “Damn it.  Don't tell anyone I've told you this.  It's classified.”

He nodded as they started walking again, “Sorry, Sam.”

She shrugged, “Major Christopher is designing a ship, a warship.  Ultimately it's supposed to be our first starship, although I think Captain Atkinson is going to beat us to it, because Shawn just can't get the funding to get anywhere beyond the design phase.”

Peter stopped and put up his hand, “I hear something.”

Sam stopped walking and stopped her breathing to listen, at first she heard nothing, and was just about to say so, but then she heard it, an almost imperceptible sound, but as she was slowly drawn towards it, it became clearer, “Someone's crying,” she whispered.

He nodded and moved in the direction of the sound.  It was coming from what would have been an office on this upper floor.  They were only about sixty feet away from the door, slowly, carefully they moved towards it, glancing to either side to make sure it wasn't a trap.  Their caution paid off, when at thirty feet a single gun-shot rang out through the warehouse.  There was nothing to take cover behind, and they were both fortunate that whoever was shooting at them was either a bad shot, or that the shot was simply intended as a warning shot.

Sam froze and stared at the open door, “We're not here to hurt you!” She shouted.

A second shot sounded through the warehouse, prompting both of them to back off, Peter was half kneeling and pulled Sam down to his level, “Sam, that's a Smith and Wesson 44.”

She glanced at him, not at all surprised that he IDed the weapon, “That means that whoever it is has four shots left.”

He nodded, “And that he wouldn't be wasting his rounds on warning shots.”

She stood up and held her weapon to the side for the shooter to see, “We're not here to hurt you!” she repeated, loudly and clearly, “We just want to ask a couple of questions, and then we'll be gone.”

A young voice shouted back, ”Promise?”

“Yes.”  She looked back at Peter, who merely shrugged.

“Put your gun on the floor!”

She crouched down and placed it on the floor in front of her, then took a couple steps away from it.  “It's down.”

The voice shouted back at them “You can come, but only you.  He stays there.”

Sam took a couple steps forward, then looked back at Peter, “I'll be alright.”

She winked at him as she walked forward with confidence, “It's just a kid.”

“Stop!”  She complied with the command, only fifteen feet from the door.  “Move slowly.”  She took each step, two feet at a time, slowly, deliberately.  As she got closer, she was able to peer through the open door, she noticed that there was more than one kid in the room.  Finally she got to the opening, and Peter was right, she found herself staring at a kid, in his mid teens, holding a Smith and Wesson 44 Magnum.  Behind him, was a girl, also in her mid teens, trembling in the corner, and while not bleeding, but she was cut in various places on her face, neck and arms.  When the boy noticed that Sam was paying more attention to the girl than his weapon, he began to choke, “They raped her, cut her real bad.  I stopped the bleeding, but, she ain't doing too good.”  He tried hard, but couldn't stop himself from starting to cry.

Sam turned to face him, “May I take a look?”

He nodded, trying to wipe away the tears welling up in his eyes.

Sam crouched next to the young girl, her first instinct was to pull away, and Sam stopped, pulled back slightly while trying to comfort her, “It's OK.  I'm not going to hurt you.”  The girl nodded and tried to relax, but screamed in pain when she shifted.  That brought the boy's gun up.  Sam kept her hands up, “I haven't touched her!”

The boy lowered the gun again and knelt next to the girl, “I want to watch you.”

Sam nodded and put her fingers on the cut on her face, “What's your name?”

She didn't say anything, but the boy answered for her, “Isabelle.  I'm Manny.  She's my sister.”

Sam moved down to the cut on her neck, and then to the girl's chest, “I'm Sam.  Don't you two have a home to be at?”

Manny shook his head, “No.  There's no room.”

Sam placed her fingers on her carotid artery, and began taking her pulse, “No room?  How can there be no room?!”

“Momma can't feed all four of us.”

Sam shook her head as she checked the girls stomach, “Well, Manny.  You did an excellent job of taking care of your sister's wounds.  But we need to get her to a hospital.”

“No!”

Sam turned to face him, “Manny, you did everything you could do, and more.  But your sister is bleeding internally, if we don't get her to a hospital, she could die.”

“But... Momma always said we couldn't ever go to a hospital.”

Sam placed her hands on his shoulders, “Manny.  You've been a good big brother for her, now's the time to be a great one.  Let's get her to a hospital.”

Manny looked at her sister, he could see the pain in her eyes, and once again he couldn't stop the tears from welling up in his own, he looked down and slowly nodded.

Sam turned to the door, “Peter!  Call 9-1-1!  We need an ambulance!”
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Captain Sharp

• Posts: 161
• R. Lee Ermy for Prez, 2016!
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2013, 09:33:02 pm »
In this, as much as in SG-1, Sam is a favorite.

--guv
"Jayne?"

"Yeah?"

"You wanna tell me why there's a statue of you here lookin' like I owe him something?"

"Wishin' I could, Captain. "

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2013, 04:29:01 pm »
Many apologies for my absence of late.  Things have changed a lot in my life this last month.  I got a promotion at work, which translates to about 10 more hours of work a week.  And I am seeing a wonderful lady now, who is happily occupying most of my remaining time.  But that leaves me behind here.  I got some time this afternoon to myself and wrote out two more parts.

L-1
18:50 Zulu

Ammanda looked up from her dinner as the door to the mess hall opened to allow James into the room.  She waved at him to get his attention.  He smiled and waved back, and then pointed to the serving line and flashed her a thumbs-up.  She pushed her dinner, Chicken Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Vegetable Medley, and a Bread Roll, to the side and picked up her PDA and continued a status update she had been working on while waiting in line.

It didn't take long for James to slide into the seat across from her, his tray had the same meal on it, she set her PDA down and looked across at him, “I didn't expect to see you today.”

He shrugged as he positioned the utensils around his plate, “My stomach started screaming at me, and then I realized that I hadn't had Breakfast this morning, so Lunch was the next best thing.”

She took a drink from her iced tea, “Ah.  How's it going?”

He blew out a rush of air, “Not well.  I've established that there is some link between the DoD and the NSA, but I haven't been able to get any deeper than that.  It's starting to get frustrating.  And I think the worst part isn't so much that I haven't found anything, its that I've been on hold for almost five hours out of all of this.”

She nodded as she swallowed a bite of potatoes, “It's frustrating because you could be doing something else while you're on hold.”

He smiled as he lifted a bite of the steak to his lips, “Exactly.”

She smiled back at him as she scooped up another bite of potatoes, “Well, look at it this way...”  She put the fork in her mouth and swallowed, “Have you had a single day off since you moved in here?”

He pulled his fork out of his mouth and swallowed what was in it, “Unless you count the day that Kelly kept me in the infirmary for most of it, no.”

She shook her head as she put down her fork, “And I don't count that one either.”  She cut open her roll and placed the dollop of butter on it, “Come to think of it, when WAS your last day off?”

James scratched his head, “hmmm... Christmas.”

She stared at him, “Christmas?”

He nodded as he finished slicing up his steak.  “I've taken a few half days, here and there, but I think Christmas was the last day I had taken the entire day off.”

She shook her head, “And I thought I was a workaholic.”

He placed another piece of steak in his mouth and swallowed it, “There will be plenty of time for vacations when the station is finished.  Heck, I'm even considering a cruise.”

“The space cruise?”

He reached for his water, “No, either the Mediterranean or the East Indies, haven't decided which one yet, but Carnival said they'd comp the entire trip for me.”

She smiled as she picked up a scoop of vegetables, “Payment for helping them with their space cruise then?”

He set the glass down and looked over his shoulder for a second before turning back to her, “Yeah, they are going through one hell of a teething session right now with their space cruise liner.  Mostly trying to get it crewed.”

She looked over his shoulder to see what he was peering at, “You do know what Tuesday is, right?”

He closed his eyes and nodded, “Yeah.”

“Are you doing anything for her?”

James smiled, “I had Micheal pick up a compass and a sextant, along with a spy glass.  The old 16th century navigational tools.”

Ammanda nodded, “I'm sure she'll appreciate the gesture.  She'll be breaking a lot of the records we, and you in particular, set.

He nodded back as he finished his Steak, “Records were made to be broken.”

She cast him a sidelong glance, “You're not upset at that idea?”

He shrugged, “Why should I be?”

“Well,” She started, “You seemed to be fixated on the records when we were building the station, and when you were flying to the asteroid.”

He laughed, “Yeah, well.  It was really just a way to stay focused on the bigger picture.  I really don't care where my name ends up in the history books.”

“You don't?”  She stared at him accusingly.

“Not really.”

Any further remarks he may have made was interrupted by the whistle tone from the comm panel.  “Ops to Captain.”

James pushed himself away from the table they occupied and walked over to the comm panel.  “Atkinson.”

Roger's voice came through the panel, “Captain, I've got an unusual message here for you.”

James folded his arms across his chest, “How unusual, Roger?”

“It was a Skype conference call, sir.  They called and asked for you.  When I told them I'd get you, they said that they would call back in fifteen minutes, and promptly hung up.”

James looked back at Ammanda, who wasn't paying attention, he turned back to the comm panel, “Did they say what they wanted?”

“Just you, sir.”

James cocked his head to the side as he processed that information, “Could you trace the call?”

“No, sir.  They weren't on long enough, and there were multiple tracks to follow.”

James looked back to Ammanda, and his lunch, again, he placed his hand on the comm panel, “They'd call back in fifteen minutes as of when?”

“Two minutes ago, now.”

He nodded, “Very well.  When they call back, pipe it to my quarters.”

“Aye, sir.”

“Anything else?”

“Commander Carter reports no luck so far, although she hasn't run into any interference yet either.”

“Very good.  Keep me posted. Captain out.”  James toggled the intercom off and walked back to the table.  “Well, I have about ten minutes left,” He sat down and took a big helping of his potatoes.

Ammanda nodded and stood up, “I have to get going myself.  Carl wanted to have a word with me regarding the armor plating he was trying to fashion.”

James looked up at her after he swallowed the potatoes, “Anything important?”

She shook her head, “Scheduling.  He'd like to see if I could get a Walker shift or two to install the plating sometime next week.”

James raised an eye-brow, “With all the traffic that's going to be here next week, I think you're going to be having a hard time finding those shifts.”

She nodded, “That's what he wants to see me about.”
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Captain Sharp

• Posts: 161
• R. Lee Ermy for Prez, 2016!
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2013, 06:51:10 pm »
You, sir, are a writing machine. And your stuff is always solid. Glad to hear about said developments.

--guv
"Jayne?"

"Yeah?"

"You wanna tell me why there's a statue of you here lookin' like I owe him something?"

"Wishin' I could, Captain. "

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2013, 01:15:36 am »
Sugar Land, Texas
17:42 CDT

The two of them slowly walked back out to Peter's car, Matthew was following along, and for the ninth time asked if he could go with them.  Finally, when they neared the car, Peter dropped to a knee and held his son in his hands, “Matthew, I know you want to come along.  But I can't let you come with us.”

The sandy-blonde haired kid looked to Sam and then back to Peter, “But, why Dad?”

Peter pulled him into a hug, “It's not safe.”

Matthew pulled back, “But we drive around Houston all the time, Dad.”

Peter shook his head, “This is a little different.  We're looking for someone, that doesn't want to be found.”

He tilted his head to his side, “Then why are you looking for him?”

Peter rubbed him on his head, “Because other people are looking for him, other people that are not happy with him.”

Matthew smiled, “So you're trying to rescue him?!”

Peter nodded, “Exactly.”

Matthew jumped out of his father's arms, “Then he should want to be rescued, let's go Dad!”

Peter grabbed him again, “He doesn't know we're trying to rescue him.  He thinks we're not happy with him either.”

Matthew took a step back, “Oh.”  Then looked up with a big grin on his face, “Then tell him!”

Peter smiled, “If only it were that easy.  We don't know who he is.  It could even be a she.”

“A girl?!”  Matthew backed away, “Eww..”

Peter chuckled, “Look after Mom for me.  I'll be home soon enough.”

Matthew ran back towards the house, “Yes, Dad.”

Sam opened the passenger door to get into the car.  “You can't blame him for wanting to be with you.”

Peter smiled at her as he walked up to the driver door and opened it, “He didn't really want to be with me, he wants to be with you.”

Sam sat down and winked at him, “But I'm a girl.”

He shook his head as he buckled himself in, “You're an astronaut, that trumps being a girl in his book.”

She grinned as she buckled herself in, “I see.”

As he backed the car out of the driveway, he waved at Becky and his two oldest children, who were waving back at them, “Where are we heading now?”

Sam looked over her notes, “Fifth Ward.”

Peter tensed, “Someplace else maybe?”

Sam put down her PDA and looked at him, “Why?”

He put the car into drive and began driving towards the freeway, “Fifty minutes to get there, and Fifth Ward is not exactly a nice place to be after dark.”

She looked back down at her PDA, “Greenspoint?”

He shrugged, “Better, but not much.”

He smiled, “Spring's good.”

They drove off in silence, merging onto the South West Freeway and beginning their trip up US highway 59, Sam looked down at her notes, and back at Peter several times before she finally turned to him, “Look, Peter.  You don't have to take me around town, I can get a rental.”

“It's all right, Sam.”

She stared right at him, “What's wrong?”

She turned to look out the window, “I don't want you to get hurt in this, Peter.”

He turned to face her, “I'm not letting you go around here without backup.  Why your Captain sent you down here without any is beyond me.”

She turned back to him, “I chose to come down here without it.  I could have taken anyone I wanted, there's several people on board who were itching to return planet-side.  I chose to come down here alone.”

“Why?”

“Because...”  She stopped, she couldn't think of a reason.

“Sam.  Is it really because you think he'll throw you off the station, and if you do this for him, he'll keep you?  Or is it something else?”  She stared at him, speechless.  “Is there something more, between the two of you?”

“No!  I just...”  Sam looked for the words, when a pair of beeps came from her pocket, she ignored them, “I...”
The beeps happened again, Peter shook his head and smiled slightly.

“What?”  A third time.

Peter looked back to her, “Your phone is making a Star Trek noise.”

“Oh!”  She fished her phone out of her pocket, it was making the TOS communicator beep sound.  She flipped the phone open and put it to her head, “Carter.”  A pause as she listened to what whoever was on the other end of the call said, “Humble?”  She shook her head, “Yes.  We'll head there right now, sir.  Carter Out.”

He looked over at her, “Well?  Where to now?”

“15023 Eddie Drive.  Sam Houston Tollway and I-69.”

He frowned, “Old Humble.  That's not exactly a nice place to be either.”

“Well, I'm making this one an order, Peter.”  She made a note in her PDA, “The Captain got a tip off that the person responsible will be waiting for us at the Delorean Plant at 6:30.”

He scoffed, “Sam, I'm no spy, but that sounds like a trap.”

“The easiest way to beat a trap is to get there early, how fast can we get there?”

He smiled, “You willing to pay the ticket if I get one?”

She nodded, “Of course.”

He nodded and broke out into a full wolf grin, “Then hold on, we'll be there in fifteen minutes, Police Willing.”
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2014, 02:27:08 pm »
(Wow... one thing I hadn't noticed, is how far ahead I had gotten since I got my Nook... I need to start posting more... sorry ladies and gents... here's more)

L-1
22:55 Zulu

James shot through the Promenade like a man on a mission, he had just kicked himself off the wall at the end of the Lift Access Corridor with as much force as he could muster.  Many people would call this reckless, and had he been looking, he would have noticed both a scowl and a look of concern on Dr. Norman as she looked out the Infirmary door while he shot by.  He did a slow somersault through a quarter second burst with his belt thruster, and stopped his tumble when his feet were oriented in the direction he was heading.  Then he noticed Kelly, opening the doors of the Infirmary with a medical kit in her hand, shaking her head and moving as quick as her Magnetic Boots would let her.  James shook his head back and gave her a wink and a thumbs up, as he coiled for the impact.  He glanced down to make sure that his feet were going to land correctly on the wall near the docking corridor that the freighter was attached to.  He landed right where he expected to, although not quite as he expected.  His legs bunched up and absorbed the force of the impact, but he felt a twinge in his left ankle as he hit it.  He grimaced as the pain shot up his leg, but made no noise to indicate that he had been hurt.  Instead he calmly stood up on the wall and glanced at Thomas Hicks, one of the Walkers assigned to installing the security systems on this corridor.  Thomas had been startled by his landing, and looked at him quizzically.

James steadied his voice before he spoke to him, “Are you almost done here, Mr. Hicks?”

Thomas nodded, “About fifteen more minutes, sir.”

James nodded, but couldn't muster a smile as Kelly continued to get closer, “Good, power it up when your done, and run me through it when I come back out.”

Thomas nodded again, “Aye, sir.”

James spared a glance for Kelly as he started to coil up to shoot himself down the corridor, but couldn't help but grunt when he felt his ankle flare up at him again.

Kelly heard it and shook her head as she walked up to him, “That was an extremely stupid thing for you to do, Captain.”

He grimaced but nodded, “In a hurry.  I'll stop by the Infirmary as soon as I'm done.”

She stopped next to him and grabbed him by the ankle, it elicited a yelp from him, “See that you do.”  She let him go and turned back to head into the Infirmary, “If you're lucky I'll have some pain medication waiting for you.”

James gently pushed himself off the wall and up the corridor, mindful of the pain that still coursed through his leg, when he made it up the length of the corridor he used his hands to stop himself.  The airlock between the docking arm and the freighter was closed, a simple press of the button opened both doors.  It would probably be the last time the airlock to the freighter would be unlocked, any future attempts to board the freighter would be met with a passcode requirement.   He pulled himself through the door and cursed himself for being so careless.  The pain in his ankle hadn't subsided, and he was worried he may have broken it.  As he pulled himself along the corridor of the freighter he wondered just what kind of punishment Kelly would administer for being so careless.  Withholding Pain Meds was just one of her options.  Other options, depending on how bad he hurt it, might be being confined to the Grav Deck, or even the Infirmary.

He came up to the lift access door and pressed the call button, the door opened immediately, and Micheal was waiting in the lift, with his arms crossed and a scowl on his face, “I could have met you somewhere,” he stated bluntly before reaching out to pull James into the lift.

James nodded as the lift doors closed behind him, Micheal punched the button for the Bridge, “Faster this way.  How quickly can you be ready to get underway?”

Micheal tilted his head to the side as he thought of the answer, “About an hour, why?”

“I need you to get back to Earth.”

Micheal sighed, “Sam?”  He ran his fingers through his brown hair as he ran through what he needed to do, “Fortunately there's nothing pressure sensitive in the Cargo Bay, we can cut it loose and let the Walkers pick it apart from there.  But we'll be back two weeks ahead of schedule, and we'll be burning fuel maintaining orbit, rather than saving fuel by being docked here.”

James nodded as the door to the Bridge opened and they floated onto it, “I know, but Sam's going to be needing more support than we can give her while we're both up here.  She smells a trap, I smell a trap.  But I couldn't not give her the information, if its him, we need to get him before the NSA does.”

James glanced over to Nicole, who was idly listening to something through her earpiece, “Because the biggest threat to the station's survival, besides rogue asteroids and such, is a drone.  We can deal with ICBMs, unless someone wants to throw fifty of them at us.  What would be more difficult to deal with is a swarm of drones armed with missiles.  The drones could evade our defenses and fire the missiles at us from a range close enough that our current Point-defenses couldn't shoot them down.  If we can jam the drone's signals, they can't shoot us.”

Micheal settled into the command chair, “What do you expect me to be able to do?  Am I going to be able to fire on an NSA target if I need to?  You know what kind of trouble that's going to get both of us into.  We're back to the question I asked you on the Promenade, how far are you willing to take us, and how far are our investors willing to let us go?”

“I'm hoping that the mere threat of you being able to do something will make them think twice.  I can't imagine the United States wants an incident any more than we do.”

“Why should they care?  Seriously, we are dependent on foodstuffs, fuel and water from Earth.  We have three different facilities in Florida and Texas, we may be aloof out here because we are so far away, but we are tied to the United States far more than you would like us to be.  And I think far more than you realize.”

James winced, “Yes, we are.  I'd like nothing more than to be able to cut all these ties, but logistically, we can't.  And we won't be able to for at least the rest of the decade, even if everything goes right.  We could grow our own food out here, but water, where are we going to get that from?  Engines aren't efficient enough to go out and get it from all the ice chunks drifting further out in the solar system.”

Micheal looked at the view-screen, “Soooo... I'm going there to bluff?”

James shrugged, “They still don't want to make you angry, with one order you could level every Government Building in Washington D.C., and they wouldn't be able to stop you until you were done.  They couldn't get an ICBM up to you fast enough. And they have no defenses against a direct assault from orbit.”  James grabbed a hold of the railing around the command pit, “But maybe more importantly, if she needs personnel backup, or even close air support, you'll be there to provide it, immediately, not six hours later.”

Micheal nodded, “Then we should get started,”  He raised his voice, “Nicole, recall everyone.  Make preparations for departure.”  He looked back at James, “And you need to go see Kelly, you're going to regret it if you broke your ankle.”

James pushed himself back towards the lift doors, “I didn't break it, I'd know by now if I did that.  Twisted it, Sprained it, Tore a ligament, maybe.”

Micheal smiled as James backed through the now open doors, “Keep telling yourself that.”

James considered those words as he rode the lift back down to the airlock.  He bent over and rubbed his ankle.  The Micro-gravity was making the swelling worse than it normally would be.  He was probably doing more damage to it by not being in the Infirmary already, but if Kelly thought that it was irreversible damage, she wouldn't have let him on the freighter in the first place.  The lift doors opened and he pushed himself out with his good foot.  He was careful not to activate his boots, he knew that he'd regret putting any kind of pressure on the ankle.  He settled himself to a stop just inside the station.  The airlock door was open, and a pair of crewmen that he didn't immediately recognize walked by him, and tossed him a salute.  James returned the salute and reached for the comm panel.  Activating the direct line to the security station he spoke into the panel, “You ready down there Thomas?”

“One more minute, Sir.”

“Alright, I'm going to get myself in position, and then push off and slowly drift down the corridor”  James looked down for a moment, “Please bring the results of the test to the Infirmary.”

“Aye, Sir.”  A pause followed his confirmation, “If you want to start down now, the first station is already running, the last one will be running by the time you get there.”

James pushed himself down the corridor, as he drifted down the corridor he noticed George and one of his new assistants enter the corridor, George waved at him and pulled the assistant to the side of the corridor.  James waved back as he passed through the Metal Detector.  The least useful of the security systems, pretty much everyone coming on and off the station is going to have some kind of metal on their persons, but it does let the people staffing the security booth know to be looking for something.  A gust of wind from every direction blew his uniform every possible way.  The Chemical sniffers, would go through the various known explosive residues along with biological and chemical toxins, hopefully within a couple of seconds.  “Sorry to cut your stay short, George.”

“It is, what it is, James.”  George shrugged as James floated by, “When I get back I may have something to peak your interest.”

James smiled as he approached the last station, “Looking forward to it.”  Air jets once again doused him as he waved them along.  The last station was examining his body from multiple camera angles, along with laser detectors, looking for something that may be hidden in a pocket or under his uniform.  He took a mental tally of everything he had on him, so that when Thomas came to him with the results he could say it worked great, or it needed to be re-calibrated.

He came to a stop at the end of the corridor by grabbing a hold of the hand railing at the airlock hatch.  A quick re-orientation and a shove off  pushed him across the Promenade and into the Infirmary, where a very upset Dr. Kelly Norman would be waiting for him.
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #17 on: February 25, 2014, 01:33:47 pm »
(Getting back to a regular posting schedule again, I'm going to shoot for updates every Monday, Kids willing... (which is why this one is Tuesday))

Houston, Texas
18:10 CDT

It was quiet at the DeLorean Motor Company facility.  Not so much a factory as a repair shop, all four bays were shut, and no other vehicles were in the parking lot.  Sam closed her door and continued her gaze around the facility.  “You enjoyed that way too much.”

Peter smiled, “It's not every day I get permission to do 110 down the freeway.  Almost felt like flying.”

She shook her head slightly as her gaze finished its sweep, “Except when you're flying in formation, you know for a fact that the people flying next to you are professionals, I thought for sure that one lady was going to panic as we blew past her.”

“She didn't.”  He looked around, “It's awfully quiet here.  We sure this is the place?”

She nodded, “Sure looks promising, its isolated, even if it is just off the Tollway and the Freeway.”

He looked around some more before he noticed that Sam was already heading off towards the building, “What are you going?”

She called back as she broke into a slight jog, “As I said, it's isolated, I'm going to make sure we've got a secure perimeter.”

He broke into a run after her, “Not alone, you're not.”

She stopped at the corner of the facility and peered around, checking the tree line in the distance of any thing unusual at the same time.

He looked over her shoulder, “You think that the person we're looking for is here already?”

“Most likely.  The car is probably parked inside the building.”

He pointed to the house just on the other side of the fence, “Or they live there.”

She shrugged as she made her way down the 'alley' between the facility and the house.  It really wasn't much of an alley because while directly to her left was the facility, the other side of the alley was a chain linked fence.  A chain linked fence who's purpose became all too clear when a big Alaskan Husky ran at the two of them barking.  The animal jumped up onto the fence and growled at both of them.  She pushed along, with one eye on the dog.

“I think she was happy to see us.”  Peter commented dryly as they moved away from the dog, trapped by the corner of her yard.

“She sure had a nice way of expressing it.”  She kept her gaze fixated on the large growth of trees just ahead of them.  The trees were too well groomed to actually hide anyone, the trees across the street beyond them, however, were untamed, and therefore an issue.

“At first I thought this might have just been a maintenance facility, but it's big enough to actually build them.  I wonder if I could get a DeLorean.”

She looked around the corner they came upon, the clearing made her feel at ease, “Would you really want one?”

He smiled as he checked their 'six', “I wouldn't mind seeing if they had the Time Machine here.”

She chuckled, “I would be surprised if they did.  I would expect it to be on display somewhere if they did.”

He shrugged, “You never know.  We've had an abnormal amount of rain the last couple of months.  Maybe they pulled it inside to keep it out of the rain.”

She said nothing as she kept alternating her focus on the wild growth trees across the street, and the corner they were quickly coming up on.  She was so focused on her observations that she jumped when Peter put his hand on her shoulder.

“Sam.  In all seriousness.”  He started as she steadied herself, “Do you think we might be making him nervous?  We're here early, you've got your gun drawn.  Don't you think that we might need to take a step back and just go in on faith?”

“Faith is something I have little time for right now.”  Sam peered around the corner, “The NSA is a dangerous organization to be up against.  I don't want to be caught flat-footed.”

'Sam.  Stop.” He raised his voice slightly in a hope to get his point across, “They want you both alive.  They want him alive because they want to know how he did it.  They want you alive because they want to know what you said.  Having that gun out right now just increases the chances that someone is going to get hurt.  And you're fooling yourself if you think you're going to be able to defend all three of us with that 9 Millimeter.”

She turned around and stared him down, “Do you have a better suggestion?”

He returned the stare, “Honestly?  Hope they don't show up.  Because if they do, it doesn't matter what you do.  They're getting us.  Now who gets hurt in the process is entirely up to you.”  He ran his fingers through his hair in frustration, “Do you seriously think that they are going to just show up with two or four people?  They're going to show with six, eight, and probably HPD back up too.”

She looked away for a split second, and then nodded.  “Alright.”  She toggled her safety and tucked the 9mm into her waist band. “What do you suggest?”

He walked up to the service door fifteen feet in front of him, “Hope he's here now, and that we can get out of here before 6:30.”  He knocked hard on the door.

The door suddenly opened and a short, young Asian woman glared at both of them. “You're early.”

Sam took a step forward to introduce her self, “Yes, I'm Captain...”

“I know who you are.”  She cut her off.

Peter looked down at her, “Then you know why we're here early.”

She nodded, “I could hear you two talking.”

Sam stepped in, “Then you know that we need to go.”

A familiar voice chilled her veins, “It's a little too late for that, Samantha.”

She turned towards the parking lot, Robert was standing next to the DMC sign with two HPD officers flanking him, weapons not drawn, but clearly ready to pull them if needed.  At the same time Peter noticed the two men in suits behind the young girl.

Robert shook his head as Sam began looking for options, “Please don't make this any more difficult than it has to be.”  He motioned to the two HPD squad cars that swooped in behind them.

She lowered her head in dismay as she pulled her 9mm from her waist band and tossed it to the ground in front of her.
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2014, 06:27:26 pm »
L-1
23:25 Zulu

“Hold. Still.”  Kelly glared sharply at Roger who had just burst into the Infirmary with the news that Sam had been captured, but he never got a chance to relay that information.  “And as for you, Mr. Simmons, you are aggravating my patient.  Get. Out.”  She looked back at James who was about to open his mouth to countermand that order, “And not another word out of you.  Doctor's orders.”

James closed his eyes and resigned himself to whatever Dr. Norman had in store for him.  She stared Roger out of the Infirmary before turning back to him, “Now, it's not broken, but I'm going to need to do an MRI to see if you did anything more than roll it.”

James nodded, “Do you want to use your new toy, or do you want me to climb into the tube?”

She smiled slightly, “Actually both.  That way I can compare the images and see if the Portable MRI machine is as good as advertised.  I should warn you though, the PMRI has only been used on a handful of people, its typically used for geographical surveys.”  She turned and walked into the other room.  When she returned a moment later she was pushing a device about the size of a twin sized bed into the room.  From what he knew and what he saw, the device was only that size because it was expected for the patient to lay on it while it took the image.  The actual scanning device was not much bigger than a Desktop PC tower.  In the case of a full body MRI, the scanning device would roll along a pair of rails underneath the bed.  But in this case she only needed a scan of his ankle, she locked it in place at the foot of the bed, and motioned for him to get on it by patting her hand on the bed.

James pulled himself off the exam table and on to the bed.  The advantages of the PMRI machine were purported to be numerous, first and most important, it was far cheaper than the traditional tube based machines.  Second, it's not nearly as power hungry as the tube machine.  Third, Claustrophobic patients had no trouble laying on the open bed.  Fourth, it was not as dangerous to people with implants as there were no super-conducting magnets in the system.  The drawbacks were that it couldn't get as clean of an image as the tube machine, and that some things could be missed by the portable one that the tube machine wouldn't.  Kelly volunteered to field test the PMRI machine for NASA.  She had a traditional MRI system in the Infirmary, but it was the only one in space, cost and weight considerations precluded having one on the freighter.  Should the PMRI machine past muster, it would be standard issue on all Starships.

Kelly moved his ankle to the appropriate position on the bed, and stepped over to the control screen.  A couple taps on the screen was accompanied by a whirring sound which lasted all of ten seconds.  And then a hissing sound as the device vented the built up heat. “Not bad,” she started as she read the display on the screen, “Not good either.  I can tell you tore your ACL cluster.  I don't know if I need to surgically repair it, or just cast it and let it heal on its own.” She motioned to the other room, “Into the tube you go.”

James pushed himself off the bed, and towards the back room, “Make a decision right now.”

She looked at him, “What?”

He passed through the door with her following, “Act like you don't have the option for the tube.”

“Oh.”  She shook her head, “Given that you were being stupid, I'd elect for surgery.  It would teach you a lesson about being careless.  You knew that it was only a matter of time before your carelessness in weightlessness would catch up to you.  Yet you kept pushing it, despite all my protests.”

He shrugged as she pushed him into the tube, “I'm stubborn.”

She shook her head, “Well stop it.  You're not too stubborn to die.”

James settled into place inside the tube, deciding that the last comment was probably not in his best interests to respond to.

“Hold still.”  She called out to him.  The tube flared to life, he could hear the mechanisms rotating the magnets around him.  He even felt his hair stand on end as the machine did its task.  The whole sequence was done in forty-five seconds, although it felt a lot longer.  When the noise stopped and the mechanism came to a rest he saw Kelly stick her arm into the tube to offer her assistance in getting out.  He took it and she pulled him out, stopping him along side her, where she already had the two images she took side by side on her screen.  “Well, maybe not as bad as I originally thought.  The image is cleaner than I anticipated.  And your ACL tear isn't that bad either.”

James sat back down on the exam table as she continued to look over the image.

“You're not having Surgery.  I'm going to wrap it.”  She shook her head, “Don't think that you're getting off lightly here.  No exercises for the next week.  I expect to see you in here every day at 1500 hours.  If you're even one minute late, I'm going to hold you in here for the rest of the day.  Keep your Grav Deck time to the absolute minimum.”  She pulled out an elastic bandage from a supply locker, and began to wrap his ankle, “And no pressure on the ankle at all.  When you're on the Grav Deck you will be using a cane.”

He nodded his head, “I could just go back to the office space I was using for my Quarters before the Gravity Deck was constructed.”

She stopped wrapping and looked up at him, “No.”  She turned her attention back to the ankle and finished the wrap, “If you're skipping the exercises, you need the Grav Deck's influence while you sleep, when I say a week, I'm only referring to no exercise at all.  I'll put you back on a limited exercise regimen next week.  Depending on how quickly you heal, you could be back to normal activities in four weeks to six weeks.”

“Normal, of course, being not shooting myself around the station.”

“Exactly.  I'd prefer to never see you do that again.”  She reached into the cabinet and pulled out a syringe and drew a blood sample from his arm.  “I need some platelets for the plasma treatment.”  After she had what she needed, she moved over to the centrifuge and placed the sample inside it.  While it was spinning she grabbed the hypo-spray and filled it with a medication.  “And this is for the swelling and the pain.”

He nodded and kept his leg extended.  She placed the tip of the nozzle just above the wrap and pressed the trigger button.  A compressor in the back of the room came to life and shoved the medication through his skin.  He smiled as he felt the medication enter his body, “It's a shame you can't draw blood that way.”

She nodded as she placed the hypo-spray into the sterilizer tray, “Unfortunately we can't get things out without breaking the skin.”

James looked around the room, “How much longer?”

Kelly shook her head, “ A couple more minutes.  You really shouldn't be in a hurry.”

He turned to look over his shoulder, “Roger wanted something, and it seemed important.”

Kelly moved to block his view, “I'm sure it was, but it can wait until I'm done with you.”  She turned to look out the window, where she could see him standing, waiting patiently, “If it was something that threatened the station, I think you can be assured that he wouldn't have let me throw him out, and that Micheal would be in here already to countermand my order.”

He nodded, “So while it may be important, it's not something that needs immediate action.”

The centrifuge beeped and began to cycle down. “Exactly.  And as soon as that stops spinning I'll have your plasma injection ready, and you can leave.”
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #19 on: March 13, 2014, 01:08:55 pm »
Houston
18:35 CDT

“I must say, I was pleasantly surprised when James sent you down here, Sam.”

Sam glared at Robert as he sat on the reversed seats inside the back of the SUV that they were seated in.  Neither she, nor the young girl that was seated next to her, were restrained, but she knew that while the vehicle was running, that they weren't going to be getting out of it.  “What are you doing with Peter?”

He smiled at her, “Mr. Thompson is getting a warning for excessive speeding, and being told to forget this whole thing happened, he'll be back with his family by 8:00 PM tonight if he cooperates.”  He looked over to the young girl, “Unfortunately for both of us, she is not the person we were looking for.

Sam looked towards her, “What do you mean?”

He frowned as he handed Sam a folder, “Whoever did this sent her to meet with you. With the plan that she would take you to meet someone else, who would then take you to see the person we both wanted.”  Sam opened the folder and looked through it, “For some reason, the individuals in question didn't trust anybody.”

Sam looked back up at him, “Are you surprised?  Everything you say and do is lies and misdirection.”

He shrugged, “Such is the nature of my line of work.”  He pulled out another folder, and he held it so that she could read her name on it, “Over the last couple of months, I had gone over just what I would do when it came to debriefing you.”  He opened it up and began to look it over, “But then it came to my attention that I really don't need to.  I have no questions for you that require an answer anymore.”

She frowned, “Then what am I here for?”

He motioned back to the young girl, who had simply been watching the exchange between them silently, “We both want the device.  And you are the only way we're getting it.”

“You really think that whoever is behind her is going to cooperate?”

He shook his head and pointed to a spot in the folder that Sam still held, “No.  Which is why we need to sweeten the pot a little bit.  This young lady is here on immigration violations.”  He turned his attention to the young lady, “If you're willing to help us Ms. Phoeng, we'll clear those from your record, and move you to the front of the line.”

Sam set the folder down and crossed her arms across her chest, “I still haven't told you I was going to help you.”

He looked back at her, “Sam, we're not rivals this time.  When this is all done, we'll drop you off at James' reactor research facility here in Houston and you can go about whatever else you need to do here.”

Ms. Phoeng spoke up, “What do you want, the device or the person?”

Robert turned back to her, “The person.  But we'll settle for the device, provided that the person goes with Captain Carter.”

“Why?”

Robert glanced over to Sam before responding, “If the person goes with Captain Carter, the person is on the station where they can't do anymore damage like what happened yesterday.  While we would prefer to have the person working directly for us.  We acknowledge that the person might not be willing to do so.  The person has already expressed a willingness to work for Captain Atkinson.  And we would rather have the person willingly working, than working under duress.”

Sam scoffed, “You would force someone to work for you.”

Robert didn't bat an eye, “Of course.  Sam, you and I both understand the dangers we face.  Your friend Khan,”  Sam tried to suppress a shudder at the mention of that name, “May have ended Islamic Terrorism, but that doesn't mean that world is any more safe than it was before.  Even though our country was founded on the ideals of freedom and liberty, we know that there are lengths that need to be gone to, to ensure that the vast majority of the populace can enjoy those freedoms.  We operate in the shadows because we are an anathema to our founding principles.”  He leaned forward and whispered into Sam's ear, “Would you be surprised to know that we predate the formation of the CIA by almost 100 years?”

He leaned back to let that sink in.  “If you'd like to make a phone call, Ms. Phoeng.”  He produced Sam's cell phone and handed it to her, “We'll be stopping at this gas station up here, you can make the call to your contact.  Tell them that you and Captain Carter will be heading to your rendezvous point.  I'll even let the two of you use one of our cars, so you can go there alone.”  The vehicle stopped, Ms. Phoeng hesitated for a moment, but eventually took the offered phone. “You can step out side if you'd like.”  She nodded, the doors unlocked and she opened up the door, only to find a suited man waiting there for her.  “Just in case you try to run off.”  He smiled.

When the door closed Sam looked back at Robert, “So you're telling me that the NSA has been around since the 1850s?”

“Well, we weren't called the NSA back then, nor do many within the organization really know who we are.  Most of them only know the official history.  Truth is, we've been around since the early 1800s, although our work during the War of 1812 was unofficial.  It's really amusing sometimes, James' friend George Noory, attributes a lot of what we do to groups like the Illuminati.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Times are changing.  The United States is falling apart under the weight of some of its elected representative's greed.  Governor Romney was correct during that campaign rally that there's a percentage of the population that depend on the Government and that they will never vote for someone who wants to dismantle it.  Some view it as a way to keep themselves in power.  But it's also a slow death spiral.  Because as more people get brought into the system, there's less people to support that system.  The cracks are starting to show, we're doing what we can to hide them.  But we can only hide them for so long.  By the end of our lifetime, they will be exposed for the world to see.  You and Captain Atkinson are a part of our contingency plan, even though neither of you know it yet.”

Sam shook her head, “What if we don't want to be a part of your plan?”

Robert smiled and shook his head, “You'll want to be a part of it when the time comes.  Just remember our motto, 'In defense of the United States, by whatever means necessary.' And we do mean, by whatever means.  We didn't bind ourselves by the moral code of the United States, even during the Civil War, and we're not about to start now.”

She scowled, “So, we're based on a lie?”

“Of course.  No country can long stand without some sort of secret police.  We just aren't as out in the open as other nations.”

“Are you trying to tell me that every nation in the world has people like you?”

He nodded, “More or less.”
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2014, 08:52:34 am »
L-1
16 June 2014
00:10 Zulu

“Do you still want me to go?”

The words floated in the air along side James as he stared back at Micheal's image on his office computer.  He took quite a bit of time thinking the question over.  The freighter had just about undocked from the station when James had relayed the news of Sam's capture.  Instead of burning back to Earth, Micheal had ordered a holding pattern while they discussed it.  Finally, James nodded, “Yes.  If there's a an opportunity to spring her before they get her to wherever they want to take her, I want you to take it.  The NSA didn't bother cutting our connection to their feeds, so we know right where she is.”

“They won't be happy about that.”

“I'm sure they won't.  But I'm in a 'I don't give a damn' mood.”

Micheal nodded with a grunt, and then decided to change the subject, “By the way, how's the ankle?”

“Hurts like hell.”  He unconsciously pulled his leg up so he could rub the wrap, “The medication she gave me is doing wonders for the swelling, but not too much for the pain.”

Micheal stifled a laugh, “I wonder if that was on purpose.”

He shook his head, “I don't doubt it.”  He let his leg fall back alongside the other, “If the opportunity to rescue her happens, I want you to take it.  I don't care how upset that makes them.”

His door chime sounded, and he looked up to see Ammanda staring in at him.  He nodded and waved her in.

“Sorry to interrupt, sirs.  But Commander Carter is on the line.”

James looked back at his computer and noticed the call waiting light blinking, “I'll tie us in to a three-way Micheal.”  James entered a series of key-strokes into his computer, and added Sam to the call, “Commander Carter?  Are you alright?”

“I'm fine, Captain.”  Sam's voice sounded relieved and concerned at the same time, “Robert didn't really want me, or that was the claim he made anyways.  I don't have a lot of time, so I need to make this quick.”

“Ok.”  James nodded, although he knew she couldn't see him.

“There were conditions on my, not being wanted, though.”

“What were they?”  James met Micheal's gaze, neither one of them were entirely comfortable with what they were about to hear, or so they thought.

“First, the person we're looking for goes to the Station.  Not-Negotiable.”

James nodded slowly, “I'm fine with that.”

“Second, the NSA gets the device, again, Not-Negotiable.”

James frowned, “I'm ok with that as well, but I'm not liking where this is heading.  Two terms that I find perfectly acceptable usually means I'm not going to like the rest of the deal.”

“Third, he wants to meet with you.  In person, on the Station.  Within a week.”

James brought his hand to his chin and scratched it, “He certainly picked a bad week for that.”

“He left me with the impression that that last part was slightly negotiable.  But not much.”

Micheal spoke up, “Find out if he can make it three weeks, Commander.”

“I didn't realize this was a three-way call.”

Micheal answered, “We were just discussing how we were going to get you back.  James authorized me to open fire on NSA assets to do it.”

“I see.”

James looked up, “I agree with Micheal.  If it can be three weeks, They'll be less I have to worry about going on up here and I can give him my full attention.”

“I'll ask him that.”  Sam paused for a moment, “And please don't consider firing on NSA assets again, we use them way too much.”

“I'll keep that in mind, Sam.”  James nodded, “I'm glad you're alright.”

“Thank you, sir.  I have to go.  I'll let you know his answer.”

The computer made a tone as the call was ended, James turned his attention back to the monitor, “Well, I guess I have to apologize to your crew, you don't need to go anywhere right now.”

Micheal shrugged, “It was a good drill for them.  We good to go back to our original schedule then?”

James nodded, “Yeah.  Another two weeks here and then off you go for the next cargo run.  I am so glad that the bottleneck got cleared up on Earth.  I was really worried we were going to start getting behind schedule.”

Micheal turned back to the monitor after he paid attention to something off camera for just a second, “We kinda are still.  Granted not as bad as we were going to be, but we're still about a month behind schedule.”

James smiled, “That's ok, I'll take being a month behind schedule, as opposed to being three months behind or more.”
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #21 on: May 11, 2014, 04:12:09 pm »
Houston
15 June 2014
19:22 CDT

“Thank you, Captain Carter.  That will be perfectly acceptable.”

Sam stood at attention as she relayed her conversation with James and Micheal to Robert, she didn't want to give him any further hints of weakness.  “Then I will relay your acceptance and...”

He shook his head, “No need.  I'll respond myself.  You need to make your meeting, and time is running out for that.  So you can get going.  Just remember to let us know where the device is.”  Sam nodded and turned to the waiting vehicle.

Robert turned back to his vehicle and settled into the back seat.  “Intercontinental.  We're done here.”

The driver stared back at him, “You're sure?”

Robert nodded, “I am.  It's all about control, John.  Even though it's not in our direct control, we still have control of the situation.”  He pulled out another folder, “But it's almost time for ourselves to separate from the NSA.  It's too high profile.  And a high profile can become a liability.”

Robert shook his head as he looked out the window, the setting sun was still high enough in the sky that it blocked out the vision of the stars, but the moon was visible just over the other horizon, and he stared long and hard at it.  “Not exactly,” he muttered as he activated his laptop computer for a visual communication.

Only a couple of seconds passed before he had the man he most wanted to talk to out of this whole ordeal, staring back at him.  He smiled, “James.”

James' cold stare met him, it almost unnerved him, but the Station Commander was not an intimidating person, at least, not right now,  “Robert.”

He paused for a moment to decide how best to phrase it, then decided a diplomatic tact with a hint of flattery would be the best approach, “I'm grateful for the opportunity to finally meet, face-to-face, James.”

“Does three weeks work for you?”

Robert nodded, “It does indeed.  I know how expensive it is to alter your ship's flight plans.  I can most certainly wait two more weeks.”

James' expression softened slightly, “Thank you for understanding.”

Robert bowed graciously, “I'll be bringing two aides with me, and I'd like to stay there for a week.  To discuss things that I would rather not discuss over even this secure connection.”

James' eyes seemed to dart all around the screen, as if he was reading something that may have been overlaid with his image on his side, “I think a week would work out just fine.  You should be able to take the Cruise Liner back to Earth, if that's ok with them.”

Robert nodded, “Oh, I'm sure it will be.”

James nodded and his focus returned back to Robert, “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

Robert shook his head, “No.  Nothing at this time.  Although I do want you to know, sincerely.”  Robert dropped the smile and adopted as serious an expression as he could, “I know we got off on the wrong foot.  And I sincerely apologize for it.  I hope that in time you come to realize that I am not your enemy.”  He looked away for a second, “And I think that by the time this all comes to an end, you'll realize, that I may be the best ally you'll ever have.”

James merely stared back at him, “I hope you're not offended when I say that I hope you're wrong.  Not that I wouldn't be upset if you were an ally.  Just that I already have some good allies, and I don't want to lose them.”

Robert smiled, “I understand completely, James.  Until July.”  He closed the comm link and looked out the window, “I hope, for all of our sakes, that I'm wrong too, James.”

John glanced up to the rear-view mirror, “Intercontinental in ten minutes, our plane will be ready in fifteen.  Where's our next stop, sir?”

Robert turned to look at him, “Colorado Springs.  It's time for me to show you Area 52.”
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2014, 02:56:45 pm »
“Do you trust him?”

Carter looked over at her passenger while considering her question, “No.  I don't trust him.” She looked back at the road, “But at the same time, it's not like we have a lot of options.  If we don't take him at his word, and follow through, he's just going to keep hunting until he has both of you, and you'll be in DC, or where ever it is that he wants to keep you.”

“But being a prisoner on station is not better.”  She scoffed at her, “It does not matter that we will be free to go where ever we want on station, we will never be able to return to Earth. And that makes us prisoners, without the cage.”

“I suppose you're right, but consider this,”  She paused for a moment as she took a turn, “When you did what you did, did you really expect that the United States would just say, oh well, no big deal?  I mean, just in terms of property damage alone, you committed a felony, to say nothing about the terrorism charges they could have brought.”

She turned away and looked out her window, and said nothing in response.  Sam let the silence hang in the car for a couple of minutes before she spoke again, “I take it that your silence means that you weren't entirely on board with this idea.”

“No, I was not.”

“Then why did you take part in it?”

“I only agree to be contact person, I did not want anything to do with, I did not realize until after it was done, what I was getting myself into.”

“You couldn't back out?”

Sam pulled the car into a parking lot where she told her to go, “You don't have to come with us.  You heard what he said, he knew you were just the contact, there's no charges against you.”

“That does not mean that there will not be later.”

“I doubt it.  There's nothing for them to gain by doing so.”

She opened her door and began to get out, “I do not share your optimism.”

Sam sighed as she got out of the car herself, she looked around at her surroundings, an apparently abandoned warehouse just outside of the inner loop of Houston.  Not anywhere she had planned on looking herself, at least, not until the bottom of the list.  She knew that Peter would never have consented to drive her here, at least not unless they were in broad daylight, and even then her hair would probably be standing on end.  Out of the corner of her eye she spotted a small group of teenagers, maybe the oldest was in his early 20s.  They were looking in her direction, possibly sizing her up, possibly just curious as to what she was doing here at 8 in the evening.  The sun was setting behind them, and in a few minutes, twenty at most, they would lose the natural light, to be replaced by what was apparently two or three out of sixteen light poles.  She glanced around to see what else could be an issue if they had to stay later than she wanted to.  Nothing immediately caught her attention, other than the group of boys all turned to face her, rather than each other.  She was clearly the focus of the groups entire attention.  They had ceased talking directly among themselves and while she could still hear them talking, it was clear by their posture that they were talking about her.

Ms. Phoeng was several meters in front of her, ignoring the boys and instead making her way towards a barricaded door near one of the garage doors.  Sam increased her pace, without appearing to be hurrying, to catch up with her.  When she had caught up to her, she spared a glance over to the boys.  They had almost casually crossed the street, as if they were trying to be intimidating.  Sam wasn't intimidated in the least, but certainly did not want to have to shoot any of them.  She stopped at the barricaded door, and waited patiently as Ms. Phoeng rapped a sequence on it, she kept herself facing her while still being able to track the  boys out of the corner of her eye.  Sam subconsciously pulled her right hand closer to her concealed pistol.  It seemed to take forever for the door to open as the boys began to get bolder, not even caring if they were noticed any more.  She was just about the clear the concealment of her pistol when the door opened.  The boys stopped their advance, and the two of them were pulled into the building.  The door was slammed shut behind them.  Her eyes seemed to take forever to adjust to the darkness inside the building, she couldn't make out anything but the outline of the door.

“Sorry about that, Captain Carter.  They aren't harmless, but they are useful.  They've kept people away, although I've had to show them on more than one occasion that I am much smarter than them, and more than willing to hurt them if they try to come in here.”

She detected a faint Spanish accent on her voice, but except for that her English was nearly flawless. Sam still couldn't quite make out anything, but felt a gentle tug on her hand leading her into the building.  One thing that she did notice, was the smell, it smelled as if something may have been rotting outside, odd that she didn't notice it when they were outside, except that the slight breeze may have been pulling the smell away from them, “I am sorry about the lighting too, but it helps if someone does get through the door, that they can't see anything immediately either.  We'll get to a place where you'll be able to see in just a moment.”

A door opened ahead of them filling the room with a slender beam of light, the sudden change from dark to light blinded Sam again, but her eyes gradually adjusted and she made out a fairly large room ahead of her.  When she walked in, she swept her gaze across the room taking in the elaborate setup.  Off to one side was an old chalkboard, equations and circuits written on it, erased, written over, erased again and finally left up there.  Towards the middle of the room was several computers, one of them was connected by hard line to a cubic device about 3 meters on each side.  Her gaze stopped there as she examined the device from afar.

She hadn't even noticed the young Hispanic girl standing in front of her.  "It's a broad spectrum electronic countermeasures system, capable of filling as much, or as little, of the radio spectrum with white-noise capable of distorting or even out right blocking many frequencies at once.  It can even selectively block one channel while letting the two adjacent channels through without so much as snow."

Sam couldn't take her eyes off of it, "What kind of range does it have?"

"Seventy kilometers was the range in its first test, I'm sure I could have made it area of effect larger if I had more power."

Sam finally blinked and turned to the girl, "Sam Carter." She held out her hand for the girl to take.

"Maria Hernandez." She took Sam's hand and looked behind them, "Not to press, but should we get out of here?  Not that I'm doubting you, Captain, but I know they know where you are, so they know where I am now."

"We have to leave, but we have some time." Sam smiled at her, "Micheal is providing us some interference.  Let's get some things together before we go."

She regarded Sam with a cold stare, "Like what, exactly?"

Sam stuck her head out towards the other side of the room, "Your personal effects, for example.  I doubt we have time to get the device, but we can certainly get your computers." She looked around, "Can I make a phone call?"

Maria nodded, "It's not running right now, although with a flip of a switch I can jam everything in this building. With very little power required."

Sam smiled, "Not a bad idea, I'm going to call someone to help us get out of here.  Once we're gone, turn it on and make Robert's life just a bit more difficult."

Maria started walking towards a bedroom setup, it looked like a half bedroom with no expectation of privacy, Sam didn't want to know what she did for personal hygiene, because she didn't spot anything that could even be used as a bathtub or a shower.  Suddenly the source of the odor from earlier dawned on her, she probably hasn't had a bath in weeks.  She was lost in that thought that she missed Maria's question.  "I said, who is Robert?" Maria had stopped walking and was now staring hard at her.

Sam had already opened her mouth to breathe through it, rather than her nose, "Robert is the NSA guy that was here for you."

Ms Phoeng finally spoke up, "He caught me at plant. He said I could go free if you go with Sam."

Maria glared at Sam, "You're lying to me!"

Sam shook her head, "Micheal is not providing physical interference.  He's not in orbit causing trouble. He's hacked the NSA real-time satellites, the NSA thinks we're still driving.  But he can't keep it up for long, maybe fifteen more minutes. Then it's a race to see who gets here first, James, or Robert. I want to give James a head start.  Robert says he just wants the device, as long as you come with me. But I wouldn't put it past him to get you too, if the opportunity arises."

She looked at her, sizing her up, and then turned and ran off to her bedroom, "Call your friend and get those computers shut down, I can be ready to go in five minutes."

"The device has to stay." Sam cautioned as she raised her phone to her head.

Maria shouted back, "That's fine, it's just a prototype. If I had better parts I could make it much better."

Sam put the phone down, "A truck will be here in twenty minutes."

"That's cutting it close. Move the computers next to that door over there." Maria waved in the direction of a garage door. "That door opens, we can load your truck from there."

Sam ran over to the computers and began shutting them down, "What about the boys outside?"

Maria smiled as she closed up her bedroll, "Thugs today don't hold a candle to gangs twenty years ago, I flip a switch and their smart phones get blocked, they leave to find signal for their phones. I've done it a dozen times before, they were the guinea pigs that I tested the ECM device on, making sure it worked before I tried the massive jamming field. Every time I flipped the switch, they left."

Sam started pulling the computers apart, most were laptops, but there were two desktops, including the one tied directly to the ECM device. "Are you going to be able to control it once the computers are disconnected?"

"Yes and no, it can be turned on, but the frequency can't be adjusted. So while it will work, nothing else will either, GPS, wireless networks, radio, anything.  The affected radius will only be about 200 yards.". She smiled, "There's one house that keeps calling their Satellite provider every time it turn it on. I think they're about ready to drop the dish."

"Think of what an unscrupulous cable company could do if they had this ability." Sam packed up the third laptop. "Although it would disrupt wireless networks too, most cable companies love to provide that service too."

"It blocks everything, no one would be able to call even 911, unless they had a land-line.  And anyone with a cell phone that used the tower right behind me wouldn't get signal either, even if they were out side the 200 yard range."

Sam zipped up the fourth laptop, "How long does the effect last?"

Maria moved her packed up stuff over to the garage wall, "It's over the instant I turn it off.  But it uses more power than I can pull from the grid, so I have to run it off of a capacitor.  The capacitor has enough power to last for twenty five minutes at that power level. If it was fully charged, it could run for 90 minutes."

"So we flip the switch as we're leaving and we get a 20 minute head start."

She stopped at the door, "Are you expecting them to chase us?"

Sam shrugged, "I don't trust them, even though he says he's done with me, and you, I don't believe it."

"Can I leave now?"

Maria looked at her contact person with an expression of guilt, "If you want to, I thank you for your help, and you'll find the money we agreed to in your bank account. I can't ask you to follow me any further. I'll still be looking out for you, when I can."

Ms. Phoeng bowed her head and ran out the way they came in. Sam moved to follow but Maria had already walked over to her to start packing up the last two computers and stopped her, "She lives a block from here, she'll be fine."

"I'm curious as to where you got the money for this stuff?"

"Call it drug money." Maria shook her head, "My father was a cartel assassin, he was given a lot of money to make sure that the drug smuggling ring in the Houston area ran without too much interference. Most of the time it was just a bribe, but occasionally he had to off someone who threatened it. Most of them were either pushers who strayed away, or a rival cartel member. But he had to off a couple HPD officers that got too close, the last one cost him his life as well. But his money was well concealed, my parents were never married, although he constantly provided money for her and me.  She died a year ago, a revenge hit I'm told, and I had already had a knack for electrical engineering, so I took the money and began working."

Sam said nothing, mindful that her reaction to anything she might say could be trouble.

"I don't care to be involved in the drug war, but because of my father I am. Even though he did what he could to hide us from it, they still found her.  I don't think they'd think twice if they found me.  This ECM device was my ticket out of their way, I thought at first I could sell it, and go anywhere I wanted to. But then I realized that there was only one place I could be out of their reach, and that was L1."

"Why would you even have thought to build this thing?"

"A not yet publicly known scandal, two of the larger cartels got their hands on drones they shot down over the border.  They've repaired them and are using them to hunt down border patrol agents, and their rivals.  You probably haven't noticed from where you are, but there has been a 40% jump in violence on the border.  Agents in their trucks are being ambushed in well coordinated attacks, when the neighboring agents and the national guard move in to assist, its already over, but 100 km of border opens up every time, and hundreds of people are pushed through, carrying tens of thousands of pounds of crack, cocaine, heroin, amongst others."

"I don't know which ones has them, I don't even know which one killed my mother, but if they come looking for me, and they have a drone, now they'll never find me, and they'll lose the drone."

They pulled the last computer over to the garage door, and sat down to wait for the truck.  Sam pulled out a piece of paper from one of the boxes, "If you'll get me a list of what you would need, I'll get the list sent on to the right people."

Maria regarded her with a cold stare, "Not quite. I want to be sure that I'm going to be safe up there.  Once I get up there, I'm kinda stuck there aren't I?"

"No, but there's few places that would take you on Earth, maybe Russia, you could join Snowden."

"No thanks, I've seen the way they treat him there."

"Then I'm not sure what you're looking for. Captain Atkinson can't offer you asylum, it's not another country up there.  It's a neutral international space station.  Technically under international law, but he doesn't recognize the UN as an international government for a host of different reasons."

"I just want a re-assurance that he's not going to discard me when he's got what he wants."

"He's kept the Persian refugee, and all she's done is wander the station learning English."

She stopped and stared at the floor for a moment before looking back at Sam, "Alright."
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #23 on: December 25, 2015, 08:22:42 pm »
Getting the this post is ancient warning continuing this...  wow.  I had intended that this story was to take place in the near future, but I fell behind and now I'm actually in the past.  So... I'm going to work at catching up, and then moving back to where this story belongs.  I'll be wrapping up the short term loose ends and moving ahead to about 2020.

L1
17 June 2014
15:23 Zulu

Haulla's forward thruster flared to life again, slowing the ship even further as she approached the docking arm.  Heavy Haulla has an unique propulsion system, termed a Multi-Vector Drive system, it generates the thrust by conventionally burning the fuel just like any other deep space ship.  But what's unique about it is the drive system can then expel the waste, or the thrust, in any of four different directions.  Aft, for thrusting forwards. Forwards for stopping or reversing.  And laterally to either side, for movement in the other direction.  The design makes the ship the most maneuverable ship in the solar system.  Just a tap of the button and it can change it's heading by as little or as much as it wants.  An ingenious design, on paper.  In practice, its a little less genius.  Because the ship can change it's heading whenever it wants, it's crew has to be ready for a nearly instantaneous change in gravity, which can ruin experiments, spill food and drinks, and more importantly, break limbs.  The crew and passengers have to be secured in acceleration berths or chairs whenever the ship is thrusting, practical for a small ship with a crew that is well trained.  But wholly impractical for a large ship, or a ship with a lot of passengers that are not trained.  And  completely impractical for a War Ship, or any ship that has to have crew roaming the ship during a maneuver for that matter.

The other item that concerned James when he saw it on paper though, was the complete lack of Reaction Control System thrusters, excepting a few small thrusters that amounted for little more than an Attitude Control System.  The lack of  RCS thrusters, while deemed unnecessary because the Main Drive System was a better RCS thrusters than traditional RCS thrusters, meant that in the case of a Main Drive Failure, the ship would be completely stranded, unable to stop itself if in transit, and unable to begin transit if stopped.  The designers deemed that a Main Drive Failure was so remote of a possibility, and the desire to cram as much cargo space into the ship as possible, that they felt the risk was acceptable.  James didn't think so, but his emphasis had always been on safety.  Yes, risk was part of the job, and there were some risks that just had to be taken, otherwise they'd never leave the planet.  But where ever possible he had insisted on safety, from redundant power systems, to uniforms that could form a pressure seal in the event of a hull breach.  Each uniform had a small oxygen tank that could provide 10 minutes of breathable air, and 20 minutes of life-support in the event of being swept out into space.  To activate the suit, all one had to do was open the small pouch at the back of their neck and pull the clear plastic helmet over their heads.  That's not to say that being sucked out into space was going to leave you unharmed, but the survival rate was projected to be almost ten times higher with the uniform, than without.

He “stood up” when the Haulla's forward thruster stopped completely, she was at complete station-keeping, and began to slowly drift towards the docking arm. He placed the box inside his uniform jacket to give him the use of both of his hands.  James intended to be at the airlock entrance when they completed their docking maneuver.  Mindful of his promise to Doctor Norman, he carefully pushed himself over the railing and down towards the promenade's main floor.  He looked down and noticed that Kelly was actually watching him as he floated through the promenade.  She scowled at him and grimaced ever so slightly when he landed on his good foot and straightened up.  He flashed her a quick thumbs up, which drew a shaking of her head and a storming off back into the Infirmary.  He slowly made his way down the docking arm, when he was about half way down, he heard the security systems come to life, along with the gentle thud of the Haulla making a hard seal on the docking arm.  All that remained before the door could be opened now, was the equalization of pressure between the two ships.  Failure to do so wasn't very dangerous, provided that the atmospheric pressures weren't too far apart.  But in a micro-gravity environment, any pressure gradient would cause a wind current that would gust through the station or the ship, that could knock things over.  If it was too far apart, the difference could actually damage interior bulkheads, walls that aren't designed to handle great pressure differences, and even hurt individuals.  James also knew that Ashley would not leave the bridge until the docking maneuver itself was complete, and following naval tradition, would be the first off the ship, he finished making his way up the arm after the pressure light had turned green, but before the doors had opened.

When the doors parted, Ashley was the first one off, she regarded his wrapping with a bemused look before coming to a stop in front of him.  He noticed directly behind her, and quickly swinging off to the side of her, so that it could get a better vantage of her and him, was a camera drone, taking the whole meeting in, and sending it back to the potentially thousands of subscribers that may be watching what they would probably be considering a historic event.  She was dressed in the part, a very revealing, very form-fitting pirate costume, complete with sabre and bull whip.   He wondered what her next move was going to be, when she stood at attention, saluted him and asked, very loudly, “Permission to come aboard?”

James smiled and returned the salute, “Granted, Captain Hudson.”  But before she could turn to her ship mates, he crossed the short distance between the two of them and embraced her.  “Welcome back, Ashley.”

If the move caught her by surprise she didn't show it, instead she shoved him up against the wall and gave him a passionate kiss.  When she pulled her face away from his, she grabbed him roughly by the hair and pulled his face between hers and the camera so that she could whisper in his ear, “All for the cameras, James.  There was vote on the website that wanted me to take you as a conquest as soon as I stepped off the ship, so if you'll oblige me, I'd like to man-handle you for a moment.”  She then took his face and shoved it in between her cleavage, to the cat calling of her crew.  Once he got over the surprise, he realized that the people probably wanted him to fight back, so he tried to pull himself out of her grasp.  That got her to let him go, but only long enough to draw her sabre, spin him around, hold him up to her body and place the sabre up against his neck.  Her crew cheered, and he went limp in her arms.  “48 hours of leave, Me hearties, I'm taking my prize back to my cabin!”

Her crew cheered and made their way down the docking arm into the station, the camera drone followed after, leaving the two of them alone.  She took the sword away from his neck and sighed, she paused a moment to make sure the drone was out of earshot.  “Of all the things I love about this job, I hate that I have to perform for that damned camera.”

“Nature of the business, I suppose?” James looked down the corridor, “I hope they aren't going to be too rowdy.”

“They shouldn't be too bad.  After they get a once around the station, they'll realize that there's nothing to do, and get bored.”  She led him onto her ship. “I'm sure you want a tour.”

James nodded and followed her aboard, but spared one more glance down the corridor, “If they get too out of hand, they may get shot, just warning you.”  When they got through Haulla's airlock, the first thing he noticed was how much darker it was on the Haulla, compared to the station.  Even though the ship was brand new, the lack of lighting made the ship feel less clean.  The corridors were perfect circles, making them slightly disorienting as it was hard to tell which way was up.  The tube like corridor had ridges every half meter, presumably to allow for hand and footholds for movement when the ship is moving in any direction.

They had been traveling “up” through the corridor towards the bow of the ship, the tube branched off to their right, but after just a half meter, there was a door blocking access beyond. Ashley tapped a code into the door and it slid open, revealing a much different type of corridor.  This corridor was well lit, and looked to be made of wood.  The lighting was imitation candle light, housed in 16th century lamp fixtures that lined the walls every half meter. The floor was aligned with the rear of the ship, making it so that it was under normal use when the ship was under thrust. Since the ship had docked parallel to the axis of the station, there was no orientation change.

“I couldn't help but notice that you do not have a grav deck on this ship.”  James commented as they floated down the wooden corridor.  Upon closer inspection, it was not wood after all, but a plastic molding designed to look like wood, probably for camera effects.  There were only six doors down this corridor before it ended in another access door.

Ashley stopped in front of the most ornate of the six doors, “It was deemed too expensive to install.”  She pulled out an oversized key from her belt and placed it into the keyhole for the door.  It made a electronically synthesized mechanical clicking sound before the door slowly opened inwards.

James stared at the door as she pulled him into the room, “And in the event of a hull breach, that door could be ripped off its hinges.”  She shoved him into a web of rigging that she had set up along the wall on the right side.  As she did so, she pressed a button on the door frame.  A more conventional door slid shut in front of the wooden door.
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

#### Lieutenant_Q

• Lt. Commander
• Posts: 1668
• Gender:
##### Re: Fortune Favors...
« Reply #24 on: December 27, 2015, 10:25:39 pm »
“I can honestly say, that this is the most boring place I've been in a while.”

“Well what do you expect? They haven't even opened a shop up yet.”

Yasamin stared down from the third floor of the promenade as she followed a pair of well built miners. They moved cautiously, but not slowly through the promenade's main level. They scoffed every time they passed an empty storefront.

“I expected something! Even if it's just a curiosity shop.”

One of the men stopped in front of an open door. “Wait, what's in here?”

“I don't know, there's no sign or nuthin.  Think we should go in?

“Why not, we've got 48 hours to kill.  So far all I've seen in this place is the ability to stargaze. We'll have plenty of time for that once we get to the belt. The view would probably be better too.”

Yasamin dropped down to the deck behind them. If they had heard her land, they didn't show. A small white light pierced the darkness beyond the open doorway.  As they slowly made their way into the room, she grinned and waved at them. It was then they realized that she was there, they turned towards her to say something, but were cut off when the door slammed shut in front of them.  She giggled to herself as she walked away.

Ashley regarded the box that was sitting on the table, “What did you get me?”

James motioned for her to open the box, “This should fit right in with the persona they want you to adopt.”

She smiled as she opened the box, “Interesting, not real practical in space, but they can definitely adorn my cabin. Thank you.”

He nodded while looking around, it certainly looked the part of a 16th century pirate ship's captain's cabin.  Posh, luxurious, and filled with loot.  Even the paneling looked like real wood.  There were a few items that looked more modern, but every attempt was made to camouflage it into the scenery, it looked extravagant, and it made James wonder just where their priorities really were.

“All this stuff is surplus from the last “Pirates of the Caribbean” Movie, most of it is nothing more than just a hunk of plastic designed to look like something else.  The only stuff that's sturdy enough to even be touched is the sofa, the bed, and the whipping post.”

James tugged on a manacle on the wall, “This doesn't even look practical.  It's oriented correctly to be used while under thrust, but I hope you don't intend on being in here during a maneuver.”

She shook her head, “No, and I don't even sleep in here.  This entire room is for show.  My actual bunk is on the other side of that closet door. Much more like the cabins we had on the freighter.

"How much did all this cost?"

Ashley shrugged, "Maybe $1000." James looked around again, "There wasn't a better place to spend the grand?" "It's a net gain, the subscription fees we've netted already have multiplied that expense by a factor of 30." James stopped and turned back to her, "30 grand?" She nodded, "With more coming in every week, the smallest week we've had since launch was$450. Now that we're in space, the accountants think we're going to haul in 3 grand just this week."

"That is an incredible amount of money, but not enough to fund even this week."

"I know, we'll get by though. Even if the trip is a total bust, we'll still haul back enough material to break even. Barely."

James stared at her, finally understanding, "This was a fallback option."

Ashley nodded, "The crowd-sourcing idea failed, we didn't raise half as much as we expected. "

"You sure you'll be alright?"

She shrugged, "We don't have a choice."
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)