Topic: Fortune Favors...  (Read 5306 times)

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Offline Lieutenant_Q

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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)

Offline Lieutenant_Q

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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.”

“Back into the shadows, then?”

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)

Offline Lieutenant_Q

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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?”

She shook her head.

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."

Sam blinked, "The drug war is going real bad then."

"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)

Offline Lieutenant_Q

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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

The ship had a rugged look to her as she coasted in towards the docking arm that waited patiently for her.  Her forward quarter looked heavily reinforced, and the four anti-meteorite defense turrets that dotted the forward hull looked like they could do some serious damage to anything.  She would need them, because in a month's time she would be closing in on one of her first mining targets.  A small asteroid that they had designated HJ1014.  Captain Hudson had selected that target because of the higher likelihood of that rock having some kind of metals, but also because it was just a stone's throw away from a couple of other promising rocks.  James sat on a bench on the promenade waiting for the “Heavy Haulla” to dock.  In his hands on his lap he clutched the box that he was going to give Ashley when she stepped off the ship.  He unconsciously rubbed his ankle again.  The pain had finally subsided, but the wrap held his ankle rigid.  Getting onto the Grav deck that first night had been a challenge.  He had known what to expect, had shifted his entire weight to his good foot and the cane that he had Carl fashion for him from the 3D printer.  What was so good about the cane was that when he was done with it, he could give it back to Carl and have him recycle it for any number of other uses.  The car had deadened his sense of gravity early, but he was completely unprepared for the car stopping and the spin nearly throwing him to the ground.  Of course, it wasn't really the spin that did that, it was the sudden stop of the transfer car that had been what did it to him.

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)

Offline Lieutenant_Q

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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)