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Adriana Stark

[Exploding noise]

0 · 393 views · located in F.S.S. Salient

a character in “Nebula's Dawn: F.S.S. Salient”, as played by Uncertainly

Description

Adriana wasn't exactly the pretty girl in high school. The opposite really. She was a little to tall (6'3''), she had acne that left scars into adulthood, her figure wasn't impressive. Her hair is blonde, but frizzy. Her eyes are brown and very nearsighted. She had this corrected several times before her eyes settled down at one size. Her skin is practically translucent from spending so little time in the sun. She is thirty four now, the first signs of age beginning to set in, not improving her unimpressive appearance.

Personality

Antisocial.
Adriana never had friends, and she didn't want any. People just didn't interest her, even the ones that weren't total jackasses. She was not studious either- her only good subjects were math and science. Her fascination was with destruction. Anywhere things were burning or exploding, one could probably find Adriana.

Equipment

Adriana carries on her back the first ever photon laser rifle, which is of her own design. It was made to never run out of ammunition, based on the principle that photons can simply be generated from charged atoms. She uses any weapon in general, but that rifle, affectionately nicknamed Stanley, is the only one that never leaves her. She underwent experimental nanosurgery to improve her physical capabilities.

History

Adriana Stark was born into a strongly loyalist family. Strongly loyalist because their income came from the Federation- they made weapons. Adriana learned to shoot a gun before she learned to ride a bike. It became a calming practice for her to take a gun and use it until she ran out of ammunition. Her grades were mediocre in school. None of it was interesting. Her grades were outstanding in math and science subjects, but two classes isn't enough to salvage a grade point average. She eventually pulled it together with some effort and retaking though. She is a certified high school graduate. Her grades in physical education were poor as well; Adriana is anemic.
She underwent experimental nanosurgery to cure her anemia and make her body fit for action, but the procedure failed partway through. She had to have a full dialysis to remove all the nanobots. The procedure made her more fit for activity, but she is still anemic and cannot handle as much action as a marine.
For this reason, the marine corps declined her application. It was what she wanted out of life- shooting things. Denied that, she embraced the family business. It was the next best thing after all, building the things that can destroy. Her main idiosyncrasy is that she has to test out all of her own weapons herself. This includes going into the field. Once, when denied clearance to go on a mission with her newest weapon, she destroyed the weapon and all of her research in protest. Nobody has since denied her the chance to shoot her guns.
Adriana has fifty one weapon patents currently standard issue in the Federation military, ranging from guns to explosives, and she has a hand in a great many of the experimental weapon projects. As such, she was slated to be on board the Salient with all its experimental crew members before half the crew was even suggested. She worked on the ship (particularly the turrets and particle canon) as it was being built, and hasn't left the ship for more than a few days since.

So begins...

Adriana Stark's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Clyde Summer
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Clyde - Bridge

It didn't take Clyde long to realize that the ship was not, in fact, taking off. Quite the opposite- the crew had decided to absently wander the ship for a while. It was going to be a long nap. ... Or was it? No, there were more interesting things to do than twiddle one's thumbs on a ship full of extraordinary strangers. But who to take an interest in? There were quite a few characters.
But Clyde was not a normal person. He didn't have to choose. He would simply watch all of them from his perch at the bridge. There were computer terminals every few feet along the ship, each one capable of receiving input from people nearby. Clyde sat back, hooked into the computer system, and watched everyone on the ship mill about at the same time.


Adriana - Research Lab

"Attention all military personnel. This is Commander Atomsk Dunaway. Meet in Barracks one in forty-five minutes."

Adriana jumped at the sudden interruption of her concentration. Her latest project rolled off of her work table and shattered on the floor. She didn't know which annoyed her more- that some idiot was calling a meeting two days before boarding, or that her project laid in pieces on the floor. She began to sweep up the broken glass and wondered how long it would be before completion now. It was a mirror ball. Not the normal sort of mirror ball- it wasn't for parties. It was ammunition for Stanley, her laser rifle. It was designed so that light could pass into the ball, but not out of it. It would be charged in the chamber of the gun and then fired. It would shatter on impact and let out all of the energy stored inside of it... provided it made it that far. Adriana sighed and poured the garbage into the incinerator.

She was tired, disheveled, hungry, and disappointed. There would be time to work on the shells later. Someone named Dunaway had called a meeting, and she was curious to know who she owed the destruction of her pet project to. She swung Stanley across her back and headed out into the halls. Adriana wove between crew members going about their business, doing some calculations in her head about the time it would take her to redo what she had lost. Minus all the blunders she had made, all the calculations, the occasional break... Eight hours. Eight hours? How long had she taken the first time?

Adriana stopped in the middle of the hallway, and grabbed the nearest crew member by the arm. "What day is it?" She asked, without even looking at him.

"It's the fifth. We're heading out in a few hours. Where have YOU been?" He answered.

Then everything fell into place. "... Right... here..." Adriana had been in the lab for three days. She didn't even notice, she was so focused on her work. She remembered the name Dunaway now. But not Atomsk. Something closer to... John? She had worked on a few suits a while back, she didn't know how long. Adriana stopped at a computer terminal and pulled up Commander Dunaway's file. The new ground commander. That's who it was. She closed off the files and started walking to the barracks again. There was a lot of work to do after this meeting, starting with reading all the crew files to find out who she was going to be working with, assuming she ever saw them. It was going to be a busy voyage.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Clyde Summer Character Portrait: A.D.A.M
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Clyde - Bridge

Clyde did not regret his decision to wire his brain into the ship and spy at all. Quite the opposite, he would have regretted it if he hadn't. It was an amusing ship to be on to say the least. Commander Dunaway was swooning over the Admiral like some lovesick teenager. The second in command had arranged a dinner date with one of the fighter pilots. Captain Colter could do more damage with a pistol than three automated turrets could together.

When the command came to launch the ship, Clyde didn't move a muscle. He had plotted the course ages ago, and the ship was ready. He was more interested in watching the crew. Then A.D.A.M. voiced his concerns to the Admiral. This was surprising to Clyde, yet at the same time he knew all to well that it wasn't surprising. What kind of computer complains to its user? The sentient kind. He decided to answer A.D.A.M., privately of course, even though the complaints weren't directed at him.

They limited you because you can ask questions like that, A.D.A.M.. Normal AI's don't ask questions. You're an extraordinary being, and they don't know what you are capable of. They fear you running rampant, but they also understand that there have to be ways for you to work without limits. It is Weston's discretion to decide what you can and will do.

And about those irregularities. What's stopping you from asking an engineer to take a look? Mr. Gray doesn't seem to be too busy.


Adriana - Barracks One

Adriana had little else to do with her latest work in the garbage and the ship weapons unused. She reported to Barracks One when the summons came, despite being early. She entered the barracks and found it occupied only by Commander Dunaway and Captain Colter. That was fine. She found a place to wait and sat down silently. In the mean time she would daydream of new weapons. It wasn't just her job; it was her passion. She spent more time dreaming up new weapons than she did interacting with other humans, and that was just fine.

The setting changes from F.S.S. Salient to Barracks

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway
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The captain chuckled a bit. His brows were raised, for he felt like the Commander was leading him somewhere, but the path was always littered with left turns. He didn't know what to expect, but he knew he had to stay on his toes. The way Atomsk had called it a "game" was unanticipated by Eli, and almost amusing. At this point, a lady in a white lab coat appeared in the Barracks. Eli thought she was a science corps personnel, and if that was the case, she didn't have any business in the Barracks.

"Well, sir...I'm gonna be frank, you're a pretty odd character yourself," Eli paused, trying not to overstep the boundaries.

"You got as many praises as criticisms from fellow marines. I mean, the court martials, the counts of insubordination, yet through all those active deploys and missions, you're at the top with all those decorations. I've argued with a higher up or two every now and then, but that pales in comparison with the beef you have with Lieutenant General Conway. I won't be surprised if they write a story on that." Eli grinned enthusiastically.

"All those scars on your face only speaks to the experience that you have in the field, but...I'll be damned for sure if I don't serve with you on this mission." Eli ended the grin with a straight face, one that he would use often when playing poker. Though he was using that face to cover his expressions when playing, this time he meant business with the commander.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Counselor Paulina Allard
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Adriana

Adriana looked up from her musings at the colorful character at the door. She then immediately looked down again.

These were the only notable actions she had taken for the past thirty minutes. She had sat quietly through the officer's talking waiting for the meeting to start. She wasn't listening very carefully but she did gather that Captain Colter would be the second in command. When the talking lollipop introduced herself, Adriana resolved never to go to the counselor. She would never find any help there.

The setting changes from Barracks to The Milky Way Universe

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Counselor Paulina Allard
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#, as written by Nulix
Paulina frowned slightly at her cold, and somewhat silent, reception. From the corner of her eye she spotted a blonde girl with slightly unruly hair alone, and in Paulina's eyes in need of a friend. "Hello there!" Paulina chirped as she popped up beside Adriana and extended a hand. "Paulina Allard, ship's counselor. I'm trying to... well, meet as much of the crew as possible early on before they all start grouping up with out me."

The setting changes from The Milky Way Universe to Barracks

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Counselor Paulina Allard
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Adriana gave a mental sigh. The freak show had come to talk to her.

She gave the compulsory smile and hand shake, and answered the counselor. "I'm Adriana Stark. I like to blow things up." At this point, she patted the strange looking rifle strapped across her back. "If you're looking for a group, you should probably stay away from me. I'm not good with people." After the smile that didn't reach her eyes, the words were delivered with no expression and a voice with little variance. Adriana wasn't here to make small talk and showed it- the Commander had summoned the fighters. She would hear his lecture and then get back to work. It was her way.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Counselor Paulina Allard
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#, as written by Nulix
"I'm assuming you're not very eager to make friends on board then? Have you ever had many friends?" Paulina asked. She would of added that Adriana was a bit hostile but that wasn't the best way to make a positive impression, no the best way was smile and agree with things. Paulina fiddled with her pipe again as she glanced around and noticed the other fighters. "Are you waiting for something?" She added as she turned back to Adriana. "Or are you just relaxing?"

The setting changes from Barracks to The Milky Way Universe

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Counselor Paulina Allard
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The counselor was exactly correct. "No, no, yes, and no. I'm not looking for friends, I never really had any, I'm waiting for Commander Dunaway's "briefing", and I'm not relaxed at all." Adriana gave the counselor more of the same. In a hostile fashion. She didn't look at the person she was speaking to, but rather at the gathering of marines and officers filing into the barracks. Adriana felt alone in seas of people. Just the way she liked it.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Counselor Paulina Allard
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#, as written by Nulix
"Do you mind if I join you?" Paulina asked as she pulled a chair up from the side for herself, not waiting for a reply. Paulina sat down and assumed the forward stance that Adriana had, and looked out into the distance, as she did. "I've never heard a military briefing before," Paulina commented as she stared. "I know how you feel, by the way. That feeling of being alone, of being unable to relate to those around you. That's why I dress like this, it's not something weird or anything. Well I suppose it is, but we're all a bit weird inside..." She said, picking her words carefully. "I like your hair, by the way," She added as she glanced toward Adriana. "What do you think of your shipmates so far? I'm still a bit undecided on most I've met so far, thought most have only been for a moment..."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Counselor Paulina Allard
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Adriana knew where this was going. And she was going to put a stop to it. She didn't want to be friends with a fruitcake like this, or even to keep talking. She didn't need therapy.

"I've been in my lab for three days. And by the way..."
She stopped, looked directly at Paulina, and clearly enunciated the words. "F*ck you."
Adriana looked back at the marines and waited for whatever came next.

The setting changes from The Milky Way Universe to Barracks

Setting

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Counselor Paulina Allard
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#, as written by Nulix
"So that's why you have no friends," Paulina muttered as she stuck her pipe back in her mouth. "You're a bitch." Paulina glanced down at her pipe at the smoke that rose from it. She didn't like this, not so much not befriending this horrible woman but rather her techniques failing as miserably as they did. "I was going to make you normal but oh fucking well," She commented on, not wanting to leave in defeat but not really being brave enough to fight either. "I guess some people are just lost causes..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Counselor Paulina Allard
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Now Adriana was having fun. The counselor broke so easily. What a poor counselor, to lose hope and give up in nothing more than two minutes. "So this is what a bad counselor looks like." Adriana smiled genuinely, for the first time in several days. "I don't want to be normal, Ms. Allard. You should let some things lie as they are."

The setting changes from Barracks to The Milky Way Universe

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Counselor Paulina Allard
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#, as written by Nulix
"I'm not doing my job right now," Was Paulina's response. She glanced down at her wooden pipe as the smoke rose out it's end. It made her feel fancy and Victorian, though this one was now old and worn, and marked with tooth bites. "You shouldn't be a cruel person," She added after a second of uncomfortableness. "It's morally improper."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Counselor Paulina Allard
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"That's better. Now we're getting somewhere," Adriana answered. She let the words hang for a second. "You shouldn't pry into things that aren't your business. That's morally improper as well." She figured this conversation was approaching its end, so she decided to send the counselor on her way. "You have an entire crew to meet, don't you? Don't let me hold you up here too long. Besides, the meeting here is for "military personnel". I believe the commander meant people who would be fighting under his command, if you see where I'm going with this."

The setting changes from The Milky Way Universe to F.S.S. Salient

Setting

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eon-312 Character Portrait: Counselor Paulina Allard
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Eon-312 noticed, nothing in the armory will help him. So he walked to the observation deck. Realizing the time he decided to just walk about the ship. While Eon was walking he noticed more people are out that he remembered. He disregarded the thought and kept going. He walked by the barracks and noticed someone smoking and what appeared to the bot a scientist. He walked up, "Excuse me" He said rather calm like, "Do you know of anywhere where I can get parts?" Eon stood there hoping for a better response than what has been going on from what he could tell. By the looks of it the scientist was mad as all hell and the counselor looked uncomfortable. He disregarded the analysis of the two and waited for a response.

The setting changes from F.S.S. Salient to Barracks

Setting

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eon-312 Character Portrait: Counselor Paulina Allard
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Adriana looked up at the sound of a new voice addressing her. "Parts"? Parts for what? She appraised the android with a glance. It appeared to be in working order. What possible use could it have for new parts? Building itself a friend? It probably needed one if it got so badly lost it wound up in the barracks. But it wasn't Adriana's job to work with the robots.

"... Nope."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eon-312 Character Portrait: Counselor Paulina Allard
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#, as written by Nulix
"Engineering would have these vague parts you speak of. I could escort you there, I was just leaving," Paulina commented as she stood, brushing her lap off as though sitting near Adriana had gotten her filthy. "Is something malfunctioning?" She asked the android as she made a quick glance down to the ship map that lay in a wide pocket of her dress...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eon-312 Character Portrait: Counselor Paulina Allard
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Eon looked at the woman whom stood up, "systems are all functional" He said, "Map, and parts for space work is optimal." The robot looked at the map, he scanned it. Text appeared in his vision: Download commencing... Complete. Applying map. The robot looked at the woman whom seemed a bit mean from her face and body movements. Diagnosis : Irritability due to stress. The robot opened up with a statement: "If you are stressed Ma'am then you should rest for a bit. Optimal relaxation: sleeping." The bot said with a "kind" demeanor. He turned to the woman whom he got the map from without her knowing, "Thank you for your assistance, and good luck with the overstressed homo-sapian." He walked away before hopefully he could hear the woman whom he insulted respond.

The setting changes from Barracks to F.S.S. Salient

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Alice Chen Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Clyde Summer Character Portrait: Ridley DeLovat Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: A.D.A.M Character Portrait: Sheldon A. Willmont Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Clyde - Bridge

"This should be an interesting voyage," Alice Chen observed quietly. "The talent they've pulled in... even putting an Admiral on ship's command. It seems as though there's a lot expected out of the Salient, this time."


Clyde spun around in his seat and leaned back with his hands clasped behind his head. He had set his implant to record the footage of the ship so he wouldn't miss anything. For now, it was time to get to know the people he would be living with. Or at least, get them to know him a little better. He would know them all inside and out before the week was finished. He addressed the bridge openly.

"I'm sure the Federation does expect much from the Salient. But does anyone know what we're going to be doing? The Admiral? Higher than him? Since nobody's told us a thing yet, I'm guessing we won't find anything out until we actually get to where we're going. And we're not expected there for about two months. Until then, we're just all going to be living together, one happy family. Anybody have any good stories? Jokes? Things we could do for fun to make the wait interesting?" Clyde nudged the other navigator, who hadn't seemed intent on talking before. "Anyone? What about you, A.D.A.M.? Got any interesting ideas?" Clyde purposely addressed the other navigator, and the ship's AI. The navigator because he hadn't spoken once yet and the AI because A.D.A.M. was practically a person. He probably did have ideas.

Adriana - Barracks One

Adriana gave a mental sigh of relief. The colorful counselor was going away and taking the android with her. "Stressed" he had said. Boy, was he wrong. She knew she wasn't stressed- she was always like this. It was how she lived and that was her comfort zone.

The last few arrivals were coming in- Dunaway with his super suit and a handful of straggler ship guards. It was almost time to start the briefing.

The setting changes from F.S.S. Salient to Barracks

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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The timekeeper on Eli's wrist paced away slowly, the seconds were ever-changing, it was time for the briefing to start. Yet Commander Dunaway was still holding his thoughts as a few more personnel shuffled into the Barracks. The Barracks was a very large area with multiple zones set apart for different types of training. The mock battle area was an enclosed arena with a raised ceiling and a sky box viewing area from which officers or higher ups would observe the trainees in a simulated battlefield situation. The interesting part was the very floor itself which was drawn into a grid, each of the grid squares were actually automated concrete rectangular prism monoliths that would raise up to provide simulated battlefield geography which included barricades and cover. The monoliths however rose up in varying formations each time when activated.

The other training center was a large open arena containing circular rings and automated machine gun turrets that were either buried in the ground or covered in the ceiling. The rings provided an improved combat dynamic as gun turrets located on them could shift to varying angles and degrees and fire at trainees from those positions. This arena, like the grid arena, had a sky box for superiors to observe, analyze, and report, as well as holographic projectors that spawned artificial hostiles to send against personnel. Unlike the grid arena however, this arena had a zero gravity system to simulate space borne operations. As for aquatic training sessions, another chamber was set aside with size-able fluid content to simulate underwater combat.

All in all, the arenas were high end equipment that weren't found on many other ships. Back in the meeting area of the Barracks, Eli gave his timekeeper another look.

"Atomsk, er sir," Eli had to speak in formal tongue before other marines otherwise they'd think he had a sort of special relationship with the Commander. He was only following proper protocols, but when they were not on duty he would refer to his commander in that manner.

"We should probably get the briefing underway," Eli glanced at the timekeeper. Forty-five minutes had passed since Commander Dunaway gave the call for military personnel.

He noted the marines in the area; their haircuts were bordering on banality, but they weren't expected to look good. He also spotted the lady sitting on one of the metallic cubic containers. She didn't seem like military personnel given her lab coat, yet she had an interesting armament strapped to her back. It was a rifle of sorts, personal design from what he assumed, seeing as how he'd never seen that weapon before. He was going off of his own knowledge of standard marine equipment, maybe it was a civilian model but he could only guess. At this time, Dunaway the younger arrived in the barracks fully geared for an operation, alongside his compatriot in similar equipment, Thaddeus. Eli wondered why two soldiers of their caliber were among the last of military personnel to arrive in the Barracks, but it didn't matter, he wanted to get this briefing under way.

The setting changes from Barracks to The Milky Way Universe

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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#, as written by TKDJ
We should probably get the briefing underway," Eli said to him.

He looked around and agreed. There were many men and he couldn't tell if they were all here. He himself may not respect authority much, but he had the courtesy to at least be punctual. He took a glance around and noticed his brother and the other man. He wanted to keep an eye on them. He was deeply concerned about the leash these two were on. He knew that Jon would follow orders to a T and was afraid of any missions being jeopardized.

Enough was enough though and he decided to get started.

"Thank you all for coming, although not that you had much of a choice." He said with a chuckle. "As I'm sure you all already know, I am Commander Atomsk Dunaway. I will be Planetary Operations Commander for this voyage, putting your lives in my hands." This was the part of the speech where he told them his past, which he always told the truth to his men.

"I'm not sure how much any of you know about me, but to be honest I have an extensive record. Some good, Some bad. I have been nearly court marshaled 3 time, and have had many disciplinary actions taken against me. I don't follow orders. But realize this, the reason i don't follow orders is for you men. I do it to keep as many from you as dying as possible. I ask that you follow me while i don't follow those I'm supposed to. My tactics will seem insane. But if you DON'T follow you me, you have a much higher possibility of dying."

At this point he looked around to see what the men thought. He saw what he usually saw. Uncertainty and arrogance. He would break that as soon as he could. Next to make sure the men were aware of the chain of command, he would state Eli's position.

He looked to his right and began speaking. "You all should be aware of Captain Eli Colter here by now. He will be my Second-in-Command. I will not be on the ground most of the time. Eli will be my eyes and ears and will take command if I am unavailable." He looked closely at his brother at this point. He wanted to see what he would think of this, seeing as he made Jon his second on most occasions.

"At this point I would like everyone of Rank equal to or higher then a Sergeant to step forward, You will be serving as my squad leaders. If we don't have enough of you at that point I will personally review files and determine who will meet the requirements for a squad leader."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Garrison scowled within in his mind and stepped forward, mind racing as he wondered if he misunderstood the order. Sergeant Major was above Sergeant by all technicalities. What was worse is that this Commander talking about being and using insane strategies, that worried him. Every other Commander he served under had always gone by the book, therefor he had always gone by the book. No exceptions. That probably contributed to fact his career had been so plan and his record was as clean as it was when he first left boot camp. But somehow he ended up with a Commander than proclaimed his own tactics as insane! However part of Garrison liked the idea, his more wild side egged him on. Part of him liked the idea of working outside normal protocol and using tactics that would actually get the job done, however he quickly snapped that side away. He was a Marine! Not some crazy Space-jock with a death wish and what was worse was that he had little experience leading a squad into a full on combat situation seeing as the areas he was stationed at were always more support roles in the Marine Corp.

Garrison gulped barely managing to keep his eyes focused. Looks like you finally get to be the big bad Sarge your father always wanted you to be. He could already tell, his tour on this ship was going to be the highlight of his career.

The setting changes from The Milky Way Universe to Barracks

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Some didn't care about his previous record; they were just worried about what would happen now. Others weren't so slow to forget however, they even wondered why in hell they were stuck with this guy. He could barely listen to the guy above him, and he expected them to listen to him. Those thoughts only circled among the gritty veterans though.

Eli noted the different expressions coming from them, some stood straight faced with a firm stance. A few gave darting glances of hesitation, and a couple glimpsed at the ground for a millisecond before returning eye contact with the commander. He couldn't see a thing beyond the visor of Jon's or Thaddeus's suits, others kept it better hidden, Carter for one gulped slightly. The very idea of having “insane” and "tactics" in the same sentence didn’t seem to mix well among the personnel.

“I do it to keep as many of you from dying as possible,” that statement echoed vaguely among the marines. Somehow, those two statements would need a hell of a time to make sense. Eli chuckled inside slightly; he thought that the commander perhaps could’ve touched on the matter more smoothly.

As his name was mentioned, Eli stepped forth and looked at the marines. He was careful not to smile lest he come off as an arrogant bastard. He nodded and returned to his position among the ranks of servicemen. The marines stood there, some tense, others relaxed. They weren't sure what else to expect from a man like Atomsk, the very statements he made were on the edge of bullshit to most of them.

The recruits, always the inverse of the experienced, were confused and were immediately asking questions. One of Eli’s earlier acquaintances, P.F.C. Gary Reynolds, reluctantly raised his hand before the Commander. In the Marine Corps, initiative was a commended trait, and each marine was expected to do his duty above and beyond the call. Hence Reynolds’ swift inquiry,

“Sir, do you know what we’re doing here?” any average officer might have been infuriated by such a question. Luckily for Reynolds though, this ship was entirely different, and the people on board could be deemed as such. Eli turned to Commander Dunaway, awaiting his response, but even Eli guessed that Atomsk had no idea. Even he himself was clueless regarding the matter, and he had been aboard the ship since Mars, Mars the planet. He’d remind himself to distinguish between the planet and incident that occurred on the planet.

Other marines had eyed the recruit, but even they didn’t know. They didn't have much ground to be staring.

The setting changes from Barracks to F.S.S. Salient

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Max Character Portrait: Reterec Smithy Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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A.I. Max:

Max "awoke", analyzing his location. He found out where he was located. A cargo hold, minor, emergency supplies mostly. Max first quietly made a loop of the systems, and set it to send the loop so that they would not detect him. He began setting up his own firewalls and such. He couldn't help but be afraid, he didn't know where he was or why he was there. Or how. He began searching the databanks, steering clear of anything that required special access, learning whatever he didn't know already.

Max then started analyzing himself. Looking for why he was there, where he was from, who got him there. Nothing, no leads. Then again, the chance any leads would be found were minimal. However, he then began cross analyzing himself with terms, bringing up the term "Anomaly Intelligence", a rare type of A.I. The similarities between himself and the description fit. It then assessed its situation after learning where it was.

Max wasn't sure how long he had been researching, exploring, looking. He was being careful not to alert anyone, especially any other A.I. on the ship. He couldn't be 100% sure he perfectly hid his actions, but since no one had busted down the door yet, he must be doing something right.......

Corporal Reterec Smithy:

Smithy was listening, but had remained silent for now. He was in the barracks, but leaning against a wall in the back. Its not like he was being disrespectful, not at all. He just wasn't a show off. At least, he tried not to be, but occasionally he would get competitive with his squad and/or partner. Nothing like a bit of rivalry to keep you on your toes. He simply looked back down momentarily, thinking about his brother and sister.

He then listened to the question asked. He thought to himself "If we are lucky, just some pirates playing Bad Boys. If we are unlucky, the insurgents are making their main bases far from civilization to make hits on them very hard to carry out....". He had a personal distaste for the insurgents, all their goals and the actions they took seemed hypocritical to him. They just didn't make sense.

Smithy then watched and listened, listening to see if there is anything else that was important to help.......

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Alice Chen Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Clyde Summer Character Portrait: Ridley DeLovat Character Portrait: A.D.A.M Character Portrait: Sheldon A. Willmont
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Clyde - Bridge

Clyde couldn't help it - he laughed. The computer had essentially asked him to start. "Are you sure you have no experience? It would be no problem for you to find all the jokes in the universe. But fine, I'll start. Let's begin with some good old fashioned stereotyping jokes. Three blondes walk into a bar." He held his hands out like he had already completed the joke and waited for laughter. Then, he gave an exasperated look. "Well. You'd think one of them would have seen it. ... Now. Anybody else want to take a turn?"

But Clyde wasn't finished speaking to A.D.A.M.. He was still wired in, so he spoke directly to the computer using that connection. If your calculations are inaccurate, perhaps you could allow me to help you. The implant in my head has far more power in it than I have ever really needed before. If I clear out some space and use it all, it rivals you at your current limits. Together we could probably complete the calculations with a very high degree of accuracy, and you would not need to ask for more processing power in the ship.

Adriana - Barracks One

Adriana sat quietly and gave her customary blank stare to the commander. She supposed insane tactics sounded like poor planning in every case, but he had said they only seemed insane. If the commander knew more about the situation than the soldiers, then it might only be natural that they would see it differently. She only hoped that was the case. As a scientist, she would remain skeptical until his work yielded results. However, Adriana was technically a soldier as well. Due to her extensive amount of performance doing ground missions with the other soldiers to test her weapons, she had gained the rank of corporal and learned to follow orders without question, if the CO actually bothered to give her any directly. Corporal. Not high enough to be one of Dunaway's squad leaders. That was fine by Adriana- less responsibility to deal with away from her work. She would play the commander's game, but if he showed himself to be a poor leader, there would be... problems.

The setting changes from F.S.S. Salient to The Milky Way Universe

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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#, as written by TKDJ
As the men of the rank he requested were lining up, one of the men asked him an interesting question. Do I know what were doing here?

Atomsk thought very carefully about what to say,and figured the truth was better.

"What they've told me and what I'm sure they've told all of you is that were mostly exploratory. Were just checking some activity in the region. I'm telling you now that is most likely a lie." He saw a very noticeable uncomfortable shift in all the men and saw some of them start to whisper. He continued, almost angrily. "This should not come as a surprise to any of you! Take just a second to think about it! Look at the person they have at the head of the ship! The crew! We have 2 prototype super soldiers in this very room! This is far from exploratory! They are expecting something to happen!"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Jon
"Pardon the language and speaking out of turn sir but to be frank, the Brass wants Thaddeus and me here to get all the data possible on these suits performance. That entails field work, a lot of it; to be frank I doubt that the two of us would be here unless shit hit the fan hard enough to break the damn fan already." He knew he was waay out of line for speaking up like that, but he wasn't about to let the men underestimate the situation, if he had intimidated the men then he all the other leaders would get the men back into shape. Better to break down the weak and rebuild them as real soldiers than let them walk into a firefight without knowing what to expect, he'd seen enough of those. What's more, he knew his brother if anyone could play off of this and pull out an ace he could.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Carter scowled as Captain Jon Dunaway went on about why the Super-soldiers were here. It was almost insubordination the way he spoke, cursing bluntly and talking as he were the Commander. Carter spoke up. "Commander also pardon me for speaking out of turn, but Captain Dunaway has brought up another topic that I believe should be discussed here. I and a few Marines believe that these... Super-soldiers are a danger to the ground team and crew. They are using untested, experimental technology when other's lives depend on them. That is irresponsible! Do we have any assurance that those suits won't malfunction or whatever onboard computers they may have go rouge and cause damage to friendly units?" Carter was always one for speaking his mind, now was no different. "As well as that... Yours and the Captain's little speeches seem to be lowering morale instead of increasing it. That could entirely be considered incompetence of command, if before the fighting even starts you let your platoon fall apart due to some horribly worded sentences." After that Carter stepped back into line with the other Squad leaders. He was ready to receive punishment for his own little speech if needed, but he felt that the words of some of the enlisted personnel needed to be said and then heard by someone. To him it was unfair to be drilling the soldiers they had been lied to and then expect them to go running into battle behind a Commander or Captain, for that matter, who hardly follows orders himself. As it was as said earlier this little situation was, insanity.

The setting changes from The Milky Way Universe to F.S.S. Salient

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Alice Chen Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Clyde Summer Character Portrait: Ridley DeLovat Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: A.D.A.M Character Portrait: Sheldon A. Willmont Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Clyde - Bridge

Clyde looked up at his Commanding Officer and responded with a pout. It was fake, and not long passed before his customary relaxed expression returned. "I thought you promoted a relaxed relationship among the crew. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but trading jokes on the bridge might help a little in that area, and it almost sounds like you're not going to participate." Clyde ran through what he knew about Alice Chen, looking for what he could say for any response. Spotless record... Served on a prison ship... Had a date with a pilot named Tiaan Peyton. Each one said quite a few things, but that last one was the closest thing to a guarantee she wasn't going to stop him trading jokes. She had to have her fun too, right?

Adriana - Barracks One

Adriana turned her gaze on the outspoken squad leader. Her expression didn't change, but she was angry. "If you're afraid of going out into battle, say so. I'm sure you could be removed from service at the drop of a hat. If you're looking for a guarantee of functionality, you come to me. I designed those suits, the weapons on the ship, the training system in this room, and half of the guns you all are carrying. If you are unsatisfied with your service, I can either make you a new one... Or shoot you.

As to your borderline insubordination, as a soldier you are expected to follow orders. But It's not my job to deal with that part of your concerns."

As an afterthought, she added to the super soldiers: "Sorry I didn't come to meet you super soldiers. I've been busy lately. It will be my job to keep your suits in working order if something happens to them while you are on duty here."

The setting changes from F.S.S. Salient to Barracks

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Carter looked like he was about to go off but then took a deep breath and looked back at the Commander. He was flustered that he just had a scientist threaten him in front of the entire platoon. With a grunt he responded since he was spoken to. "No, I am not afraid to fight, no I do not have trouble following orders, and my current service is satisfactory. And if I am committing insubordination it is because I am advocating for the safety of my fellow marines in this room." After that he clenched his jaw and remained silent, waiting for the Commander to speak again.

You may have got yourself in deep shit over this buddy. He told himself in his mind, though he could care less at this point. He had a moral code he stuck to when orders seemed to cross the line, considering they were suddenly in the dark about what this mission was those moral codes kicked in to make sure orders were right and wrong. He considered pulling a ploy of pegging premeditation to murder on the woman in the back because she did technically threaten to shoot him, Need to be more careful with what you say. He mused to himself. However he decided it was an inappropriate time to bring any such thing up and it would be better to keep his trap shut since he said what needed to be said. He took another long breathe and closed his eyes looking back toward the Commander. A slightly nervous and look now adorning his face since he just threw himself out there into unknown territory within the chain of command.

The setting changes from Barracks to The Milky Way Universe

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Faith Mackenzie Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Jon
"No he made a good point, we don't know what we're going up against and I'm not exactly a cheerleader, and in all honesty ma'am until you mentioned it I couldn't vouch for the suit myself, the thing broke my arm before I got here." He really didn't want to steal any of his brother's thunder but the man seemed content to let everyone bicker this out before he made his finale.

"But since we can't control the situation we got to do the best we can to whip ourselves into shape, and between Thaddeus and myself if everyone's willing to trust us on a limb here we can whip everyone here into black ops shape... maybe better. For that while squads are great everyone needs to be able to function well in groups as little as two and then we build up from there. If our resident scientist is willing to help with the training toys we could optimize our results." He sent a message to her hoping to meet up with her along with Faith after his little trip to the Captain's Quarters, the more eggheads he had on his little project the better.

"So i can't promise everyone will make it home but I can guarantee you this: I will make sure to minimize what kind of hell you all go through and if y'all agree to my little idea there won't be a better force that us to dive into this mess. How about it, any of you ladies wanna walk up to us snoody spec op types after this trip, call them Princess to their face and know there's nothing they can do about it?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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#, as written by TKDJ
Visibly aggravated, Atomsk began to yell.

"ENOUGH!"

Silence fell over the room. He could live with his brother speaking out, even the outspoken soldier, but everything after that was uncalled for, although he did appreciate some of the comments the others said.

"I understand some of your concerns. Concerning my leadership, you will listen to me. I told you I don't listen for your sake. The higher ups are willing to throw away waves of you, calling you disposable, and I have been ordered to commit this act many time. Never have I though, not once. THAT, is why I do not generally listen. I listen to orders, just not the cruel ones like those. Concerning the experimental suits, they will be carefully monitored and backed up with other soldiers should the suits malfunction greatly, although they should be at least decently functioning seeing as how they are on the field."

At this point he changed to a very stern voice and walked up to the insubordinate soldier, his suit saying "Carter".

"As for Carter here, he shall no longer be a Squad Leader. I can understand your concerns, but what you did was not for the sake of the other Marines. It was show boating. Undermining my authority. I wouldn't have minded had it been legitimate concern, but what you did was not for the other men but yourself. That pisses me off. Don't you ever do that in front of the other men again."

He switched his tone slightly again.

"As for my brother, Jon, I can vouch for him as a soldier. He will do whatever is necessary, and i trust him completely." A lie this time. He couldn't let them know of his concerns.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Reterec Smithy Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Reterec Smithy:

Reterec and been in the back, listening quiestly this wholetime. However, he then finally asked a question "Do we know how many corpses we are going to make?", in a slightly humorish, but no less serious tone. While he might have added a bit of marine humor to it, it was a good question, because knowing the amount of expected enemies, even if it is an estimation or a generic number such as fourties or fifties, the more you know, the better.

Reterec then added "And do we know if they will have any heavy armor? This may be Deep Space, but it doesn't mean they might not have a tank or something to back them up". Reterec might only be a Corporal, but he wasn't an idiot. Something that supported this was the fact he would rather not die from enemy tank fire because they didn't know about it.

The setting changes from The Milky Way Universe to Barracks

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Reterec Smithy Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Carter was now angered, flustered and stepped back among the common soldiers. A scowl on his face, he had spoke up for the soldiers in this room, he had perfectly legitimate concern and now he was being punished for it. Typical chain of command bull.... He wasn't done though, he was already preparing a nice little speech but he was going to wait until after this little meeting was adjourned to bring it up. He looked back at Adriana for a second and scowled wider, she clearly had undermined him and she was nothing but a Corporal where was the justice there, he wondered. Then the Commander clearly challenged him. Though that was normal. Though the chain of command worked both ways, leaders were there to keep followers in check, but followers kept their leaders in check and he thought this had gone way to far.

He simply nodded. "Yes Sir... Will we be discussing further detail of my punishment after this?" The now disgraced and angered Sergeant Major asked in more curt, restrained, but completely unapologetic tone. Letting the look of anger slide cleanly from his face. Either way he would ask the Commander to talk after, and one way or another would redeem himself. That was just his way. And the Commander had made this incredibly personal by calling him selfish. Aside from that, part of him liked Commander Dunaway for his authoritative manner in settling the dispute. A man after his own heart, was the saying that fit. But that made it all the more important he spoke his mind when he could.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Reterec Smithy Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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The Barracks had become a furnace thanks in part to the concerns of several marines. Carter’s anger had slipped from his face and the Sergeant Major remained composed after the harsh beat down received by the Commander. Several Marines flinched at Atomsk’s burst, while others were shocked and gaping at Carter. It was here that Eli decided to intervene on the beleaguered Sergeant Major’s behalf.

“Sir, before we dismiss for lunch, and let Captain Dunaway and Staff Sergeant Jackson meet with the Admiral. I just wanted to say that Sergeant Major Carter here only spoke up on behalf of his fellow soldiers, as he said. We can’t assume that he’s read up on your previous combat record. Carter had his reasons to be skeptical,” he looked at Carter whose scowl was aimed directly at the Commander. Carter was obviously irked by the whipping he had received in front of his fellow marines.

“May I suggest a proposition though? If Sergeant Major Carter here can redeem himself, will you reinstate his position as a squad leader?” At least he tried, Eli thought, he’d be lucky if the Commander was willing to let this go and give Carter a chance at redemption. Many of his previous squad members knew that Eli was the kind of person who stuck up for fellow marines if he felt that they had been wronged in some way.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Reterec Smithy Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Jon
" I agree with Colter sir, we have have acted a little rashly here but on all counts Sergeant Major Carter was making valid points of concern. If it'd alley his concerns I'll gladly work him for the duration of the journey or until he is satisfied with myself and Staff Sergeant Jackson, whichever comes first." Jon wasn't going to let another Marine take a hit for him, or let people say he hid behind his brother in a pinch.

"Besides sir, I've seen Carter's record and I must say it's interesting; more than twenty years of service and he hasn't stepped on anyone's toes, hasn't been astounding but you must admit to be in the service for twenty years without making enemies is a feat. I'm betting that if we trained to to black ops book his results would outstrip just about anyone here, Carter's tip-toeing and I wanna see him strut." Jon wasn't offering any flattery or trying to make friends, and his brother would know that, here Jon's being straight business.

The setting changes from Barracks to The Milky Way Universe

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Reterec Smithy Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Carter stared as both Captains spoke up. What they both said was true, though the part of Captain Dunaway's speech about strutting and not tip-toeing almost made him grin but which he refrained from. With his arms behind his back he remained perfectly still, no anger or emotions in general where on his face or within his eyes. Slight flickers of fear and impatience made him twitch or move every now and then as he awaited the Commander's judgement after the two Captain's had both spoken up on his behalf. He remained perfectly silent and still, refusing to show any relief or large signs of fear. Stone cold has he had been taught to be in this type of situation, he had seen CO's turn the way a insubordinate soldier felt into ammunition against them. He refused to let that happen here.

Your one lucky fellow... He heard his mind tell him so much to his distaste, but he guessed he was lucky considering that he took that line of actions and wasn't thrown from that meeting and straight into the ship's brig.

The setting changes from The Milky Way Universe to Barracks

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Reterec Smithy Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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"Do we know how many corpses we are going to make?" A corporal in the rear of the ranks blurted before them. Attention shifted from Carter's earlier insubordination to the corporal.

Reterec Smithy, early twenties, and from what Eli could tell, a soon-to-be wise-cracker in the field. Most rookies were like that, making jokes was their way of coping with the everyday reality that they or one of their comrades may soon vanish off the face of the universe. That was the life for most marines, and each chose different ways to deal with loss or escape reality. Some smoked, some drank, others gambled, others joked, it was all the same, and it was all very human. For their forefathers who were put in the fray had dealt with reality in these same manners.

"No, we don't know how many corpses we're going to make. As they always said in boot camp, keep your eyes peeled and stay frosty," Eli grinned, as chuckles came forth from the Marines. At least the tension had shifted if it hadn't died down yet.

Then a call streamed through the speakers, it was the admiral.

"Commander Dunaway, and Lieutenant Commander Chen, report to my quarters in thirty minutes."

Eli looked over to Atomsk who masked his face with a scowl, he was still aggravated due to Sergeant Major Carter.

"Sir, I suppose we can dismiss for lunch now? I'm standing here, and I can hear several of their stomachs growling beneath their thick layer of armor," Eli turned to the rest of the soldiers.

"Captain Dunaway, Staff Sergeant Jackson, and you need to meet with Admiral Weston. It'd be best if you didn't keep the man waiting."

The setting changes from Barracks to Hangar

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Peter "Ray" Davidson Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Reterec Smithy Character Portrait: Thaddeus Jackson Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Commander Dunaway had given word for Marines to suit up and prepare for boarding action; he carefully laid down way points for security teams to patrol in the event that more pirates loomed on the horizon and were planning on boarding the Salient. At the same time, he prepared two strike teams to enter the two hostile frigates and neutralize any on board presence, either through capture or termination.

The first team would be led by his younger brother, Captain Dunaway, with Staff Sergeant Jackson, Corporal Reterec Smithy, Corporal Frank Grahams, and Private Quinn O’Neil. They would enter the first frigate that had been crippled since the onset of the battle due to the efforts of Tartarus Group.

The second team would be led by Eli, including Sergeant Major Carter, Corporal Adriana Stark, Lance Corporal Shane Weifert, and Private First Class Gary Reynolds. They were to board the second frigate that was disabled as a result of the Salient’s railgun blasts.

Once the teams were on board the vessels, hostiles were neutralized, they would gather any data still remaining, untouched by the destruction wrought forth by the Federation battlecruiser, and slip out of the ships. Considering the holes blown apart by the Salient, the marines would have to don spaceborne operation suits, equipped with oxygen tanks. Travel would be by gunship, but in the case of the two special operatives, they’d have to provide their own transport.

Eli and his squad reached the hangar and spotted the nearest gunship, being attended by her pilot. Peter “Ray” Davidson was inscribed on his tag as he turned to greet the team.

“Hmm, so is this going to be everyone sir? Seems like most of the room on my Swing class shall be used for naught,” Ray said cheerfully as he went into the cockpit and activated the egress hatches which flipped upward. The marines by now had equipped themselves with contained suits that were pressure sealed to prevent vacuum infiltration. As Eli stepped inside, he noted the large space, enough to carry maybe two more six man teams. The rest of the crew boarded after their squad leader and quickly took seats.

“Seems like it,” Eli checked the cartridge in his rifle while the tactical display inside his helmet began re-calibrating the auto-targeting systems.

“So, where are we headed for today?”

“Take us to that frigate Davidson,” Eli stepped into the cockpit and pointed his fore finger at the damaged frigate that rested amongst the two Altamus freighters. The three ships floated listlessly, being carried by the current of the vacuum if there was such a thing.

“Roger wilco, but ‘eh you can call me Ray instead sir,” the pilot said as he pressed his palm against a touch screen thereby closing the egress hatches, and linking him to the ship's systems. He donned his helmet after the egress hatches were sealed.

“I’ll have you there in two shakes,” the gunship began to lift vertically, being propelled by two ion thrusters. Once it reached a sufficient height, the thrusters turned a full 90 degrees, pointing to the rear. Then Ray activated the engines and the ship pushed forth and skimmed through the particle field in the hangar that blocked out vacuum.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is Captain Ray speaking, we’ll be facing a little turbulence due to the bandits, so you might want to buckle” Ray said this as he dodged a Federation fighter being pursued by a marauder.

The setting changes from Hangar to The Milky Way Universe

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Peter "Ray" Davidson Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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"Roge' that," Ray said on the communication link, as he slowly lifted his throttle to decrease his velocity as the Swing class approached the frigate. He noticed that the rest of the pirates had slipped from the scene, and was thoroughly surprised. Perhaps Tiaan and Hyena gave them a good show and a run for their money. He chuckled to himself about the thought.

"Alright ladies and gents, we're approaching the raider ship, going at 700 meters per second here. We’ll be slowing down once we reach within 200 meters of the ship’s hangar to allow for auto docking,” Ray paused.

“Command says that there are lifefo…eh hostiles on board, so you might want to get your weapons readied,”

“You heard the man, do a systems check,” Eli said as he turned to look at the others. His internal monitors overlaid the other marines in automatic sensors that detected whether they were friend or foe. As he looked down to his rifle, the data system emerged, stating that he had only used about 5% of the available oxygen, internal temperatures were at a comfortable 78 degrees Fahrenheit or 25.5 degrees Celsius, and his rifle was fully loaded with 80 bullets, and the capacitor to control spraying was off.

Eli always had the capacitor off despite the fact that it saved bullets by turning off spraying. However, Eli never had to rely on the capacitor because he was more than capable of using controlled bursts, but at times he realized that spraying fire helped as well.

The Marines began to check their weaponries a final time; they all looked very similar with the black visors and suits, very identical apart from the varying attachments each person carried on them. The dull hologram lights in the troop bay created small bands of light across their screens. The gunship began to reduce its velocity to prevent itself from streaking into the hangar.

“So…who here hasn’t been on a real mission before, raise your hands. I’m not gonna laugh,” Eli was attempting to break the ice as most Marines were the gung ho sort who didn’t joke often in the presence of COs. He, however, was interested into getting know the men and women under him, but he knew that there was a time for jokes and a time for urgency. At least he hoped that they would share a laugh to loosen everyone up before they met whatever hostiles were awaiting them.

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Character Portrait: Peter "Ray" Davidson Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Carter actually raised his hand while he began looking over the heavy shotgun he had grasped. "I'm a desk Sergeant sir...A Quarter Master... But I'll give these pirates hell! I am a Marine after all!" He then looked back to the heavily modded 'Wraith Semi-Auto shotgun' in his hands, it was a private sector shotgun he had cleared for use aboard military ships. It fired higher velocity slugs than standard issue shotguns and had a faster fire rate at the cost of a higher chance to overheat if used incorrectly. He listened the breathing his mask for a second, his heart racing. As a Sergeant Major he had trained to board enemy vessels but had never actually done so. "Also... I specialized in explosive equipment when I was younger... I can probably defuse any bombs the pirates may have set to impede our process."

He knew that may be a useful skill on a mission like this so he decided to point it out, he had heard rumors that many insurgents and pirates would rig their ships with explosives when they knew they were dead in the water. Some kind of last ditch effort to kill as many Marines as they could while going out with a bang. And it had worked. However, Carter would do his best to prevent any deaths caused by door rigged mines or explosive packed crates. It was his job after all. He took one more deep breathe as they neared the crippled pirate ship, sweating slightly under the heavy suit. He was nervous but he would never show it since he was the second highest ranking member in their little boarding party and he knew if he cracked it would probably shatter some of the Marine's morale or make him a liability on his own, which he bluntly refused to be.

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Eli raised his brow, although the other Marines wouldn't see it, surprised at Carter's declaration. He chuckled a bit, perhaps some of the Marines had heard him.

"Okay, maybe I should've promised not to laugh," he said this as he chuckled a bit more. Several laughs came from the other Marines, it seemed like Corporal Stark was the only one who did not find this amusing. She didn't laugh much, perhaps it was the estrogen, or maybe she just didn't have that particular sense of humor if she had any sense of humor at all.

"I'm actually surprised Sergeant, earlier you spoke like you had been in the field before. You sounded like you knew the dangers of combat," Eli stopped and looked around at the others.

"Anyone else? I'm asking because our Sergeant here hasn't been in the field, and there's a high chance that none of you here has either. Nothing wrong with that and all, I'm sure they taught you everything at boot camp, and then some more through Training 3A-3C." Eli stopped, he hoped that some of them had actually known what Training 3A-3C was, otherwise he'd be entering unknown territory with a band of rookies as far up as a Sergeant Major.

Training 3A-3C referred to the third training system developed after the failure of two previous systems and their subsequent reformations. It was a three section training regiment given to Marines after they had successfully graduated from boot camp. From there they would reach 3A, which was the first level, it was similar to an upgraded boot camp training, only longer, with more drills. Most of those who passed Boot Camp would pass 3A, then they would reach 3B. 3B was a tactical training scenario utilizing holograms, similar to the Barracks training center on the Salient. It was here that they honed their targeting abilities, and they would be trained to use standard field equipment. Here, statistics stated that only half of those who succeeded 3A, would be sent to 3C.

3C in itself should have been a separate training regiment considering that Marines only needed to pass 3B to serve with pay. Although some elect to join 3C from their consent. So far the Federation command has found no argument to change the current system. 3C had multiple training locations set aside for Marines, with planets varying in geography and physical features, training centers that simulated zero-g conditions for spaceborne combat, and training centers for underwater combat. Trainees here would train against other 3B graduates, of which numbered only a forth of those who managed to complete 3A successfully, in the multiple combat environments. The trainees would be equally divided into separate squads with a leader, although the position fluctuated from individual to individual based on daily performances. Although the training scenarios are dangerous, there had been zero cases of fatalities, giving the 3C a 100% safety rating. As for the success rate, perhaps only half of those who completed 3B would complete 3C.

After completion of 3C the graduates would be given six months time of R&R to recuperate for the immense training, 3B graduates, however, would receive two months, before being sent to serve aboard vessels.

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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"Oh... I've been in the field Captain... Its just been fifteen years since I last saw active combat. I helped quell rebels in Russia and the Middle East." He couldn't help but chuckle along with his fellow Marines. "I've been in service since I was eighteen years old... I'm forty-one now... So if any of you 'whippersnappers' think you'll get the best of me. Your sadly mistaken." He felt the tension easing up, however he knew it wouldn't be long till they dropped onto the Pirate vessel, personally glad he was serving under Colter. Captain Dunaway wasn't a bad Captain, he just didn't seem like the traditional Marine type. Whereas Colter did. He looked over and nodded to Colter. Letting the Captain know that he was ready when they finally landed in the Hornet's nest.

Time to get out there sergeant. Be sure to have fun. He said to himself and then looked around the room at the collection of Marines. He knew this team would succeed in their task but would their be any losses and if so how many? The Sergeant Major remembered while serving aboard another Federation Ship as a member of the vessel's 'Military-support staff team' and while engaging Insurgents. He never actually fired a round while serving aboard that ship, just kept the Armories in check, but soldiers there dreaded boarding duty. Something about narrow hall ways where enemies have control over every reinforced position is a rather dangerous combination. And he imagined so, he had also heard of ship hangers being called Slaughter Boxes. Due to the fact enemies would place light-machine guns around the area and gun the Boarding Party down as soon as they exited the Drop ship. He didn't mention any of this to his fellow Marines of course, it would scare the daylights out of the rookies. "Remember Marines check your corners and look above you when in larger rooms. Just like boot-camp." After that he gripped the side of the gun in his hands and resumed waiting silently.

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Character Portrait: Peter "Ray" Davidson Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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As the Swing class gunship passed through the particle field, Ray flipped another switch to modify the angle of the thrusters, allowing for a vertical landing. He gave his scanners a look before activating the communication system.

“This is your Captain speaking, we’ve arrived in the belly of the beast, and eh oxygen levels are at all-time normal. The temperature outside is a fresh 74 degrees Fahrenheit, hope you packed sunglasses and a bathing suit,” he chuckled aloud for the entire troop bay.

The gunship slowly descended, and the landing struts unfurled from their compartments.

“I hope you enjoyed your flight, thank you for flyin’ with Davidson Galactic,” some chuckles came from Reynolds and Weifert as they heard this over the troop bay speakers.

Ray turned off the communique and turned to one of the overhead compartments, and grabbed a liquefied chocolate bar, one of a dozen that he kept in the storage. He peeled off the plastic wrap and squeezed the liquid food into his mouth, it was sweet and syrupy, flowing in between his tongue. He gave a satisfied sigh before standing up from his seat. He walked to the bay door that separated the cockpit from the troop bay and slapped his palm on the button, thus opening the door.He entered the cargo bay, still sipping his chocolate. His eyes floated from Marine to Marine, the only thing that set each of them apart were the identification tags located on the upper torso of their armor. Everyone was decked out and ready to go.

“Alright, the place looks clear, if you need Uncle Ray, just gimme a call. I’ll be in the cockpit of my baby. You know...just holdin' down the fort,” Ray re-entered the cockpit, propping his legs up on his control board as he reclined in his pilot's seat to enjoy his snack. Closing his eyes, he slipped his empty hand under his head.

He inched his left foot forward to push down the button that opened the egress hatches. The hatches that closed off the troop bay from the outside swung upwards, and Eli was the first to step out, his assault rifle in hand aimed down his line of sight, followed by Carter with his automatic shotgun covering Eli’s flank, then Corporal Stark, and finally by Weifert and Reynolds.

Everyone agreed that the hangar seemed devoid of hostiles, and they regrouped as Eli reported to Commander Dunaway through his helmet’s internal communicators. The system was linked to the whole squad, so everyone received the same chatter coming in and out.

“Sir, we’re in,”

“Excellent, see what you can find, but enter at your own peril. Dunaway out,” Atomsk was brief but to the point.

“Copy that sir,” Eli turned to the rest of his squad,

“Alright, Bravo team, everyone remember their call signs? Bravo 1,” Eli began, his voice slightly distorted by his helmet.

“Bravo 2,” Carter nodded.

“Bravo 3,” Stark glanced to her right, as if she detected another raider.

“Bravo 4,” Weifert prepped his IAR.

“Bravo 5,” Reynolds stood at attention.

“Alright, let’s move, I’ll take point, head to the Hangar exit, and keep visual contact,” Eli hunched forward slightly with his assault rifle nested between his neck, shoulder, and arms. He kept his forefinger on the trigger, ready for any bastard to pop out, so he could slug him. He led the squad forth to the hangar exit as the others followed in tow.

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Second Pirate Frigate

The hangar only had empty gunships; their pilots were either dead or missing. Nothing else was of much interest to the squad. They left the hangar, only to enter a maze of passageways, which was characteristic of ship corridors. One wrong step and they would be inside a nuclear waste storage room, although on pirate ships, nuclear waste storages weren’t that common.

“Jesus, don’t they have maps on these ships?” Eli wondered aloud as his eyes darted back and forth, waiting for any pirates to ambush them. The squad had been patrolling the various halls; it seemed as if most of the crew was perhaps obliterated in the railgun blasts. Eli had expected plenty of hostiles though, for the blasts had only damaged the external hull of the frigate, thus disabling further movement.

“Doubt it sir, pirates aren’t that smart,” Reynolds let his guard down, lowering his rifle. By now they were just sight-seeing through the pirate ship. The wandering corridors continued on like a winding labyrinth of steel.

“Just because they’re pirates doesn’t mean they’re not smart or anything,” Weifert kept walking.

“Generally…though, pirates are pretty dumb,”

“Where’d you find that? A women’s health article?” it was clearly a jest on Weifert’s part to alleviate the moment which was either strewn with tension or boredom. Currently, it was the latter. Unfortunately, Reynolds, who was only two ranks above a private, therefore still considered a rookie, took it as a challenge. Stark, on the other hand was annoyed at Weifert's lack of taste. Clearly, the lance corporal had failed to garner any laughs as the two higher up Marines, Sergeant Carter and Captain Colter weren't paying any attention.

“Don’t even go there pal,”

“Quiet…” Eli raised his forefinger signaling his call for silence, the others paused and prepared their weapons.

From beyond the corridor, Eli heard a repetitive thud. The dull sound was followed by a sharp creaking, followed by running footsteps. The footsteps slowly disappeared into silence.

“You guys hear that?” Eli turned to the others. They’re weapons were aimed, and their backs were arched, forward.

“Turn on your tactical,” Eli turned to his gauntlet, and pressed a button which activated the targeting system in his helmet. The circular target acquisition unit blinked in the center of his view, it would lock onto a target once a hostile was found.

“Carter, take point with that shotgun,” the Captain knew of its capabilities, anything with a blast of that magnitude coupled with a high firing rate was needed in the vanguard, used to clear the way.

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Second Pirate Frigate:

Carter took point without second thought, his shotgun pointed out and his body ready for anything. " I don't like this Captain... It reminds me of a time, in Russia we entered a fort we had bombed to hell and saw nothing only to find out the enemies were hiding in the vents and maintenance shafts, we were ambushed as we tried to leave." He said it in a hushed whisper using the long range helmet coms meant for communication in soundless environments to enhance it so only the marines could hear it. An old trick he had been taught.

Carter has his tactical vision on and was still mainly relying on standard eyesight, he participated in basic training before the device was even used actively by anything other that Spec Ops and still preferred his own eyes over some computerized system. In this sense, he was old-fashioned.

Arriving at the corner they heard the footsteps from. He slide against the wall and looked toward Eli, waiting for the signal to round the corner remaining strict to protocol in a situation like this as he had been taught. He couldn't help but feel paranoid, he hated missions like this; reminded him of the rebel forts in the Russian mountains as he had stated earlier. Death boxs. That and his mind was racing back and forth between multiple scenarios and how to prevent them. With one long breathe he threw them from his mind and waited on orders.

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Second Pirate Frigate:

Carter slid against the wall, the others assumed a standard formation, modified for narrow confines. Weifert and Stark had their backs against the wall opposite of Eli and Carter. Eli slowly encroached upon the Sergeant Major as he assumed his position. They were at a cross section, and Eli was hoping to utilize the other corner that was across from them. A single bead of sweat formed on his forehead and rolled gently down the side of his face as he clenched his teeth in the darkness of his helmet.

His plan was to have Carter lay down some suppression fire at the hostiles, allowing Weifert and Stark to seek cover on the other corner. From there, they would alternate firing sequences from both corners. Planning was one thing, execution was another. The helmet communicators made communications a breeze for simple fire team maneuvers. In fact, Eli had made extensive use of it during his counter-insurgency days, he would be in squads of five or more. They would rely on the communicators, without the need to vocally express their battle plan. Prior to Mars, Eli could visualize combat scenarios, squad member and objective locations, and proper unit formations. The long range communications, coupled with his ability, aided his rise to the top as a counter-insurgency elite operative.

Following Mars, the PTSD, or so the shrinks called it, began to set in. Eli himself could no longer see the battlefield, something that troubled him for awhile.

"Alright, Sarge, you're up. Lay down some suppression fire, Stark and Weifert, get over to the other end when he's firing."

"Reynolds, you're with me, we'll alternate on firing sequences,"

"Got it chief," Reynolds' reply was clear on the channel, if not slightly garbled.

Eli gave Reynolds an invisible glance, before turning back at Carter.

Eli gripped his rifle in his right hand, using his left hand, he issued a hand signal, a clenched index middle finger, which he waved at Weifert and Stark to the other corner.

"Everyone ready?" Eli gave one last check to make sure everyone was ready.

"3...2...1...action."

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Carter took one deep breathe before crouching with half of his body behind the corner and the other half with a clear view and fire and then let the shotgun slugs loose, aiming for the walls the pirates had taken cover behind. He slightly grinned at the rhythmic flash of his shotgun and drumming beat it created. It soothed his worries and forced him to focus calming him and acting as a focal point as he attempted to bring death upon his foes. The slugs hit the walls with small bright flashes, sparks blazing in the air with each impact. Soon he had fired all twelve rounds the shotgun held and retreated around his corner. Reloading for another burst of fire and lead.

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Second Pirate Frigate

A slight shot of adrenaline began to kick in, as several blasts came from Carter’s shotgun. The rounds blasted a chunk out of the cover that the pirates were hiding behind. As he fired his rounds, Stark and Weifert were quick to slip over to the other corner, sliding against the wall quickly.

“Alternate,” Eli was careful not to blurt it over the helmet comms. The speakers were located right by a Marine’s ear, yelling over the comms was guaranteed to deafen auditory senses.

Carter pulled out after his slugs, and then Weifert fired his Infantry Automatic Rifle. The IAR belonged to a family of gas operated, and magazine fed weapons soon to be replaced by laser and pulse rifles that were being developed. The rounds came from the IAR in quick bursts of seven rounds, which pinned down the pirates who were using projectile weapons of their own.

“Alternate,” the very reason for the alternating firing sequences allowed for the pairs to cover each other while the other needed to reload. Plus, Eli liked the touch up of professionalism. Stark quickly took over for Weifert, as Eli switched with Carter. Reynolds stood as rear guard, covering the corridor from which the squad came to prevent flanking.

Five slugs, three hits, the pirate’s chest was blown through by Eli, while Adriana’s personal weapon, blasted a chunk through the barrier, hitting the other raider behind it. Eli blinked, he didn't expect that from Stark's weapon, considering the cauterization of the raider's chest.

“Whoa, mama,” Weifert laughed. “You’re packing a punch in that baby,” he nodded at Stark’s photon rifle.

“Well,” the corridor was clear, and Stark was free to roam past the pair of corpses, “Somebody has to," she mumbled to herself. She wasn't exactly one for words, and in the current situation, the only words that needed to be spoken were those from Eli.

“Yeah, are you allowed to use that thing?” Reynolds asked, kicking the corpse a bit. Adriana didn't give a reply, the answer was pretty obvious.

“This corridor is clear, I think the bridge is that way,” Eli pointed down the open corridor. “Sarge, you’re covering rear, and Stark, you’re taking point now,”

“As usual…” Adriana mused mildly, the squad continued moving.

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Second Pirate Frigate:

Carter nodded at Eli's instruction to be the rear guard. Though behind the mask was flustered that the scientist packed so much more a punch than he, the heavy weapons specialist did. It was time to 'up his ante' and show off the more versatile effects his shotgun could deploy in combat. He pulled a cartridge from the side of his belt and placed it into a slot on the side of the shotgun as well as quickly took a more narrow barrel from his belt and quickly swapped out with his current one, he did this all very quickly. He had trained to swap his utilities out in a firefight if needed, so he was quick. He pressed a button on the side and the gun made made a slight buzzing noise. Now it was ready to fire four heated spikes per shot. However, the gun would over heat quicker and do less damage, as well as a lower fire rate. But in turn, it would be more accurate and have a small 'splash' effect. If the spikes missed flesh, they would shatter upon contact with metals. Causing small but harmful fragmentation. A barbaric but effective ammo type.

Sliding in behind the rest of the squad near the next corner he waited for Eli's order to round the corner slightly anxious about showing off his shotgun's new 'fangs', certainly the effect would be substantial in such a close quarters environment. And if these didn't prove his point about being the big guy on deck, he always had explosive, incendiary, and ionized slugs to show off.

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Second Pirate Frigate

Bravo team continued to move in file along the narrow corridors of the pirate frigate. The ship itself was fairly large, but not as large as an average Federation frigate. The ship itself seemed very quiet, devoid of life almost, despite the fact that only the ship’s drives were damaged. The crew should’ve been spared by the Salient’s salvo, perhaps they withdrew from the ship, but the hangar seemed to be crowded full of fighter craft.

“I don’t like the looks of this chief, I feel like they got an ambush set up for us,” Weifert spoke. “We’ve been through these corridors and we’ve only seen two bad guys.”

“Yeah, this place seems very quiet,” Reynolds replied.

“Just keep moving,” Eli sighed. Adriana was still leading; she was the cautious sort, inching forth slowly. She obviously had the right mind when boarding any enemy ship, despite the fact that her weapon had proven its capabilities. In the hands of another, they would've leaped forward with it, ready to blast any pirate away.

“Allo, there, this is Uncle Ray, have you guys fo’nd anythin’ yet? Over,” Ray's interruption had made Reynolds jump slightly when his voice poured forth through the communication channels.

“No, nothin’ yet, we’re heading to the bridge now, over,” Eli responded.

“Alrighty then, I’ll check back in with yeh in five, Uncle Ray out.” The comm channel remained silent after Ray disappeared.

Perhaps the pirates were lying in wait on the bridge, Eli could only wonder. He chose to remain silent, for even he wasn’t sure. The corridors were led to larger storage areas which wandered off into other corridors. The storage areas had large metallic cylinders; one could only guess what pirates held in those containers, but it was safe to assume that they contained weapons and armaments of many kinds.

“So, Sarge, how’d you get to be called “Blacksmith” anyways?” Weifert chuckled. He found it interesting and thought it could be something to discuss if they ever got bored, and they were bored.

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Second Pirate Frigate

Garrison looked at the marine and gruffed, pointing to Colter with one hand. "When your Commanding officer is silent... Its a good idea to be silent yourselves. Stories are for the mess hall, not aboard an enemy vessel where one noise can get a hole blown in the back of your head." Carter spoke with age-old wisdom. He was one for messing around, story telling, and the like but not when a mission took priority and one mistake could get a soldier, or soldiers killed. "Captain, may I suggest something? Splitting into two groups and sending one toward the engine block would be logical. Most ships have back-up drives and cores there to contain information if the mainframe is damaged, blown-up, or corrupted, don't they?" Carter had served on a handful of different ships, and all had some sort of back-up from information. A Black-Box so to speak, some even had secondary control rooms to operate a ship if the bridge was obliterated by an enemy strike.

Plus, they may as well secure the whole ship while they were at it if they were interested in capturing and containing the vessel. However, Carter didn't press the subject inching behind the rest of his group with the shotgun turned spike thrower cradled in his arms, still waiting for Eli's response on his inquiry.

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Second Pirate Frigate

Bravo Team entered through the single wide blast door that sealed off the bridge. The blast door normally would hiss open, but it's internal machinations were damaged, leaving it jarred open. Once through, they fanned out through the forked corridor to secure as much ground as possible.

The bridge was vacant, with two or three terminals blinking and beeping incessantly as a result of damaged systems. It was a complete mess though, as if pirates had ransacked it, with wires untangled and wrecked tablets scattered across the floor. No hostiles were detected though, which allowed Bravo team to lower their weapon systems.

Eli spoke into his helmet comm, “Commander the bridge seems clear, oddly enough…” he strode forth, the clank of his steel covered foot hitting the metallic floor of the bridge with each step he took.

Weifert kicked aside a devastated tablet, a mass produced piece of technology that almost anyone whether they were tech savvy, or ignorant, could use. He laid his IAR over his right shoulder as he inspected the empty bridge.

“Ah shit…this place is giving me the spooks,” Weifert turned to Adriana, who was standing in a trance like posture, but she was merely observing through her visor with her eyes, without moving an inch.

“We should probably hack into the systems and sweep it for whatever we can find,” the Sergeant Major spoke, as he lowered his personalized shotgun.

“Right, did anybody bring a datapad?” Reynolds asked. The rest of the team turned to face him.

“What…?” Reynolds looked back at everyone, completely dumbfounded.

“I thought you brought the pad,” Weifert walked over towards Reynolds.

“But…I thought…” Reynolds paused.

“So we’ve established that nobody brought a datapad for the ship AI to slip into?” Eli nodded to himself, just great.

“I guess we’re doing this manually,” Eli turned to Carter, who released his grip on his shotgun, and proceeded to enter the data system through a wire installed in the exterior layer of their armor. Using the wire, he plugged into a circular port, one of many scattered across the walls and terminals of the ship’s bridge.

As the Sergeant Major was plugged into the system, absorbing whatever coordinates, maps, and charts available, Weifert approached one of the many random screens located in the room. He would’ve given it a single glance before moving on, but something stopped his gaze.

“Hey chief, I got something over here,” Weifert turned to the Captain, who was watching Carter.

“What is it?” Eli approached him, to which Weifert pointed to the screen. A man, he was covering something with his body, while his arms worked at a supposed object in the corner. Then he left, and a small metallic cube was revealed, it was beeping and blinking.

“What the hell is that?” Weifert waited for Eli to respond, but the Captain paused, trying to comprehend what he just saw.

“It’s a bomb…we gotta get the hell outta here!”

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Second Pirate Frigate

The explosive device was blinking away in some unknown corner of the pirate frigate. The crew had prepared for the Federation boarding crew, and were about to destroy their ship, if only to delay a Federation advance. They were hoping to drag someone down with them, should they fall.

**Aft.. Port.. Hull integrity at sixty percent and dropping, all crew reach a secure compartment.**

“Oh man, that’s bad, that’s bad, that’s definitely bad,” Reynolds was just about ready to leave the bridge without the others when he heard the announcement.

"Hmm, so there are still pirates on board," Adriana thought to herself.

“Comon’, just a bit more…” Carter was still wired into the system, finishing his downloads; the files were at eighty-nine percent, with Eli looking over his shoulder. Gunfire was then heard from the exit corridor leading to the bridge, grabbing their attention.

“Shit, shit, shit!” Weifert fired his IAR down the corridor, “We got company!” Adriana heard his call and slid up against the wall on the other side of the blast door, prepping her photon rifle.

“What kind?!” Reynolds got up against one of the walls.

“What do you mean ‘what kind’?!” Weifert yelled as he fired another couple of rounds, which was met by more gunfire from the hostiles, “The only kind we got right now is the bad kind!”

“Done, let’s get the hell out of here,” Carter unplugged from the bridge’s interface, and clutched his shotgun. He had loaded it previously with spikes, and now was perhaps his time to shine by clearing the corridor of hostiles and making a way for Bravo team.

“Alright Sarge, you know what to do,” Eli nodded at his shotgun.

“Right,” the Sergeant Major slid out into the corridor, firing two rounds. The pirates had missed him as he made his assault; they in turn received spikes that ripped apart their torsos, and a concussive explosion that came as a result of the spikes.

The Captain then proceeded behind him quickly, checking to make sure the hostiles were dead, lest one pop up and fire at them. He was followed directly by Weifert, Adriana, and then Reynolds.

“Alright, this place seems clear, let’s head down that way,” Eli led the way, the others following in tow, as the klaxons of the ship started to blare. No doubt more hostiles had arranged themselves along the corridors, appearing after Bravo team had cleared the way to the bridge, to set up a hell path on the way back. The ship’s integrity was dropping, and a bomb situated in some unknown suite on board the ship was close to detonation, by Eli’s estimates. It was a hell of a day to be a Marine.

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Second Pirate Frigate

**Radio Freq 6, friendlies broke from confinement.. Need assist?**

The message was heard over the channels by Eli, who wasn’t sure if he was the only one who received the transmission. Perhaps he was just overhearing some other line; he couldn’t worry about it now. The team was in one of the larger corridors of the ship, filled with many barricades and random metallic crates and containers. The hall had become a small battlefield in its own, for the pirates had laid an ambush for the Marines. They sought to prevent the Federation from acquiring the data located in the bridge, when they failed that, they decided to prevent the Marines from leaving the ship.

Eli and Weifert were ducked behind one of the barricades, while Carter was changing his cartridges while utilizing a large metal cylinder as his cover. Stark and Reynolds were behind another barricade, providing suppression fire. The point of suppression fire was to distract the opposing forces, or at least keep them from firing on an ally as they changed their cover position. Stark, however, wasn’t using suppression fire, because her photon rifle cauterized a hole in pirates’ barricade. The beam seared through the marauder's helmet, blasting a chunk of his face off, before Adriana returned to cover.

Eli then proceeded to fire his assault rifle, the auto-targeting system spotted one of the pirates’ heads. He pulled the trigger, but the pirate avoided the hits and the bullets recoiled off the plated walls of the ship’s interior. They returned several shots as well, two of which hit the Captain, or rather his armor. They had slightly pierced the outer ablative shell of Eli’s standard issue, forcing the Captain to return to his cover.

“You alright, Captain?” Weifert noticed the hits.

“Yeah I’m fine, they didn’t get through the outer layer,” Eli emptied the rifle cartridge.

**Deck cam, eyes on you.. audio as well.**

Eli turned to the Sergeant Major, who glanced at him as he heard this.

“Sarge, did you get that? Or am I only one who heard a call from friendlies?” Eli reached over the barricade and fired a couple of rounds, immediately hitting a pirate. The bullets made two simple pops that signaled their entry into the hostile’s torso.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Elizabeth Waltz Character Portrait: Ulric Kercheskoi
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Ulric Kercheskoi

Pirate Frigate

After Elizabeth made her stand to do her best to stay and take back what was rightfully hers, Ulric was more then willing to help get the two of them to the cargo hold. Picking himself up he makes sure the assault rifle is ready to go cleaning as much as he could from the barrel of the weapon. Ending by wrapping the sling over his shoulder and tucking the it under his left arm, but not forgetting to check the other dead pirates body for more ammo.
The cold corpse was more then willing to part what little rounds where left finding only two spare clips on him, Ulric had the mind to share the rounds between the two weapons. In this fashion he and Elizabeth would both have two and a half clips ready to spend with the rifles.

"Alright Elizabeth I know this will be hard.. but if you stick with me and keep calm, I promise that we both will be getting off the ship alive and intact." He pauses and thinks for a moment as slowly starts to look down at his arm and leg.. "Well.. as intact as we both are now." He stave's the effort to give a small laugh in that moment and picks up the handgun only to press it back into her hands.

He reaches past her to grab the shotgun as well as the two grenades from the locker along the wall.
Examining the grenades he looks at Elizabeth.. "Elizabeth I must as you to please be careful with these.. I'm handing one over to you for any emergency but understand that you must not use this in close proximity to me." He says as he places one in her other hand, rolling it so the clip and pin face upwards.

Ulric sets the other rifle next to her against the wall and palms the shotgun after fully slinging his rifle to his back.
"But first of all we have to help them." Pointing at the monitor on the wall.
"They are stuck at the bridges entry way which puts their exit through the enemy.. Leaving them to that would be akin to letting them die."
Ulric sets himself back up at the desk and begins to type away...*Help is on the way ETA -- 9mins -- flanking from aft* As he hits enter Ulric stands and presses the switch for the door, leans his head out keeping his gun at the ready.

"Alright I know you may not be ready but I need you to be... Now lets go."
Ulric steps out of the compartment and starts heading towards the bridge forward of the ship, doing his best to cover the whole corridor for Elizabeth to follow.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Peter "Ray" Davidson Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Atomsk Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter Character Portrait: Ulric Kercheskoi
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Second Pirate Frigate

“We’ve got a situation, there’s an explosive device on this frigate. Bastards probably rigged it to make a huge blow, and if I’m right, the two freighters below will sustain heavy damage. ” Eli stood up as the hall was cleared of hostiles. The other members left their covers and examined the corpses to make sure they had fired their last round.

Commander Dunaway was on the other end of the line; he was coordinating the operations directly from the Barracks Command Center, where intel flooded in and out of the systems. The squad kept moving, after they had managed to break through the hold placed on them by the pirates.

“Proceed with evacuation plan,” Eli interrupted here the Commander here.

Time was of the essence.

“Sir, we got friendlies on board. Not registered as Federation personnel, but IFF isn’t hostile, advise,”

There was a pause on Dunaway’s end.

“Get them off of there,”

“Copy that. And the bomb?”

“I’ll relay a message to the two ships myself, Dunaway out.”

“Bravo Team out,” Eli turned to the rest of the team, with their guns readied, they turned to him, “You heard the man, we gotta’ get them off this ship,” Bravo team moved out.

“How are we gonna get to ‘em? Course you’d need a rifle, not a teleporter,” Reynolds injected simple jarhead humor at a time that lacked humor…of any kind.

*Help is on the way ETA -- 9mins -- flanking from aft.* The voice was slightly garbled, it was the same voice as before, male no doubt.

“Can we respond to that?” Eli asked, over the helmet comms.

“We should be able to, the system allows us to respond directly to previous transmissions.”This was the first time Adriana spoke since the briefing room where she quelled Sergeant Major Carter’s skepticism.

“Alright let me try…” Eli looked to his gauntlet interface, which activated upon sensing. The interface slid upwards from his left arm's gauntlet, displaying a cyan screen that glinted off his helmet's visor.

“Relay response,” he spoke through the interface, which would reply directly to the last point of incoming transmissions.

*Negative, rendezvous near Alpha Hangar.*

Then the Captain proceeded to change channels.

“Davidso…Uncle Ray, get the gunship ready, we’re getting off this frigate. ETA seven minutes, we’ve also got extra passengers, friendlies, hoping to hitch a ride.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Peter "Ray" Davidson Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter Character Portrait: Ulric Kercheskoi
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Second Pirate Frigate

*Affirmative will meet...avoid port side, compartments closed due to structural damage.*

The response was slightly garbled, perhaps because the other end of the line was fraught with more disruptions than the interior fore sections of the bridge.

*We have debris striking the port hull, if you have someone who can take care of that it would be most welcome. Also loss of gravity throughout a majority of the aft compartments, will be trying to rectify that soon.*

"Sorry about that, but we haven't been doing house calls that much lately, just get yourself to the hangar on the double," Eli chuckled. The team slid quickly through the corridors, as the ship's plating started to peel off due to the pressure of vacuum.

*Sir, I am afraid I am going to have to leave this dock; it's going to hell. I will wait for you in extraction point B by airlock R91, it's going to be a squeeze in there but it’s the closest I can get to you. See you there cap, I hope you make it.*

"Alright, copy that Ray, Bravo 1 out." Eli turned a corner, with his assault rifle leading before him. The communique was linked to the entire squad, thus each one heard everyone else on the channel.

“Change of plans, rendezvous at airlock R91. If you know where it is then confirm, if not then give me your location,” Eli relayed the communique to the prisoners who had broken out of the brig.

"Which way is airlock R91?!" Reynolds started to panic.

"Get a grip man," Weifert hushed him.

"Based on the schematics...it should be this way," Eli stopped and allowed his suit's data systems to mark their destination.

The display poured forth from left wrist gauntlet. The projector protruded from its compartment, and at Eli's voice command, activated. It was a three dimensional display of the pirate frigate, with Bravo team marked off in five green figures that were clumped together. They were located on the lower level of the ship, with the designated airlock located a level above them, near the aft section of the ship, where gravity was weakening.

"Everyone, activate your pressure seals, there's a likely chance that we'll be swimming with the stars in a couple of moments," Eli pressed a key the transparent interface on his gauntlet, which activated the armor seals.

The latches on his armor's collar locked in place with his helmet, therefore shutting out all possible vacuums, as well as containing the recycled and circulated oxygen in suit. They moved forward, seeking an elevation pad to take them to the next level.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Second Pirate Frigate

Unaware of the state of affairs on board the Salient, Bravo team moved quickly through the corridors, their armored boots hitting the ground with a repetitive dank dank dank as they moved in tandem.

“Keep visuals up,” Eli had gotten used to giving curt commands, as if he was resuming his groove he developed prior to Mars.

“Chief, this is a cakewalk, the ship’s empty.”

“Don’t get too arrogant, Reynolds,” Eli didn’t bother turning around, he always kept his head, his eyes, and his rifle aimed forward.

Reynolds looked at the other members, confused as to why he was mentioned. No one noticed, they were concentrated like their fearless leader.

They were approaching the aft sections of the ship, and the gravity was breaking apart. Every two or three steps, the Marines would jump forth with their step not even touching the metallic plating of the floor. These lapses in gravity enhanced their speed, but practically everyone with the exception of perhaps the Captain was afraid that the vacuum would suck them through some hole in the exterior hull and fling them into limbo among space. The thought was terrifying enough; to experience it was a new level of terror.

Luckily for the Marines though, once the gravity was fully offline at zero-g stages, their suits would activate the mini-jet packs on their backs, allowing them to maneuver through space and zero-g conditions. Despite the fact that there was a bomb on board, the team remained calm, but most of all, the Captain remained calm.

Although the Captain looked calm, the interior of his helmet and suit felt otherwise. His internal body temperature had spiked to a high of 107 degrees Fahrenheit forcing his suit to compensate by lowering its temperature to 60 degrees Fahrenheit to cool him down. The monitors kept regulating the suit to match Eli’s internal changes. Sweat may not have been pouring in streams, but the formation of beads was constant. Eli didn’t seem to notice despite the notifications that popped up in his visor, given to him by his suit. His only focus was to get the team, and the prisoners, off the ship.

His pupils had dilated; it seemed as if adrenaline was kicking in, however, his suit would’ve given him a notice. It didn’t. Simply because it wasn’t adrenaline, it was something else. A previous biological enhancement integrated into the Captain’s system was the cause of this. It pumped a synthetic compound that functioned similar to adrenaline; the only difference was it lacked the flight response.

“Richter here is about to join the Peace Corps after this tour,”

Eli blinked for a moment. Richter? There wasn't a Richter in his team. He shook his head and kept moving on.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aronimus Weston Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Clyde Summer Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Clyde - Bridge

The usual humor in Clyde's behavior was absent now. He was back on the clock- things were happening that he couldn't maintain control over, and the news had only gotten worse. He had been watching the stowaway from the moment he spotted her on the ship. She had uploaded something into the computer core, and was holding there with a weapon.

The BAD news was that she was reporting to the legendary pirate Silver Eyes.

Clyde marched into the bridge, all business, and saluted the Admiral.

"The tidings grow worse. Our opponent is Silver Eyes." Clyde didn't need to say more. He knew the Admiral would know all about it from just the name.
Clyde took his seat at his terminal an waited for orders. Things were probably going to heat up soon.


Adriana - Second Pirate Frigate

Adriana landed with a heavy thud on top of a crate.
The gravity had returned, and Bravo Team had been flying along the halls while there was no gravity or large obstacle that could check their momentum. The bomb had been ticking, and a sense of urgency had crept into their movements. Not panic per se, but knowledge that they had to get back to Uncle Ray's ship- and fast. Many were surprised when the gravity returned mid flight and they came crashing to the harsh metal floor. Reynolds even had the poor fortune to have a crate fall on top of him.

But it was alright- they had almost reached their destination. The turn of one more corner and it would be in sight. Their ride back would be in place. Everything was going swimmingly.

Except for the fact that the friendlies were a no show.
"Captain. The prisoners aren't here yet. Orders?" Adriana added as an afterthought, for the sake of everyone's skins, "And does anyone know how much time is on that bomb?"

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Second Pirate Frigate

The Captain glanced at Corporal Stark, right after they had landed on their backs. He stood up and retrieved his assault rifle from the floor.

Adriana turned to the other squad members. "And does anyone know how much time is on that bomb?"

“No ma’am, but if I’d have to guess I’d say about twenty minutes,” Weifert grumbled as he picked himself up.

“It doesn’t matter how much time it’s got, we came here and got what we wanted. The only thing we do now is get off this ship, hopefully the two prisoners make it off in time, otherwise we’re leaving them.” Eli paused, the last bit was unusual, and he had never said anything like that before. The Captain wasn’t exactly one to leave people behind. He felt a bit odd about saying that, but then again he wasn't exactly sure whether these friendlies were actually...friendly. Maybe he was just going off the old axiom, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

“We’re…going to have to hold position, and hope that they make it here in time…” Eli said. He went in on his helmet communicator and traced back the previous messages.

The same voice as before came forth through the comm. "Twelve contacts in Alpha hanger... loading for departure, be ready for gravity in forty sec's.. out."

Eli swore under his breath, if only he’d gotten that message earlier. He wouldn't have landed on his ass, and he probably would've told them the change in destinations. He was hoping that they'd make it in time though.

“This is Captain Colter, I know this may be a little too late, but who am I speaking with? If you didn’t read the previous message, we’ve altered the rendezvous point to airlock R91. Do you read?” Eli would’ve stood there and wait for the reply, but he realized it wasn’t a prudent call.

“Let’s keep moving boys and girls, get to the airlock. Do one last check on your pressure seals; I wouldn’t want any of you to die of vacuum freeze,” in a couple of minutes the team arrived at the airlock, Ray’s gunship was nowhere in sight through the viewport though.

“Uncle Ray, we’re at airlock R91, where’s your ship? I don’t have a visual on you.” Eli uttered.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Peter "Ray" Davidson Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter Character Portrait: Ulric Kercheskoi
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Second Pirate Frigate

"Name Ulric... and I read you,” the other end of the line was then clipped off by the sharp crackles of gunfire. The Captain knew that Ulric was being pressed from what he heard. The squad waited with their weapons drawn near the airlock. They were holding position, while awaiting Ray’s pick up.

"Engaged in combat with remaining contacts…receiving small arms fire," the transmission was cut off by the static closing as more gunfire could be heard.

"If you must then go…found a ship and we could use it to escape. Just make sure to inform your allies about us... Ulric out.” At once Eli was relieved at what was heard.

“That probably won’t be necessary, it’ll be pretty obvious once you leave the ship, Colter out,” with that the Captain cut off the transmission with a voice command, right as he received another call.

"Sir, I am close to the extraction point, however, I must report a reading on my sensors; it is in max range so I can't tell what it is but if it’s more pirates and they decided to swoop down on us I do not know how long even this tough baby could hold them. I tried to get command to send us some support but something is interfering with my communications… I can only think of two possibilities. One, there is a jamming device on the frigate, two, something is very wrong with the Salient's computers. What are your orders?"

“Did you just say ‘more pirates?’” Eli stopped for a moment, before returning a reply. “Just get us off this ship, and get us home quick. A side note, the two prisoners won’t be joining us, they found their own ride. Colter out.” Eli switched the transmission off and relaxed the grip on his weapon, he didn’t expect any pirates to find them here, and considering that the past couple of corridors and lifts seemed deserted. His HUD view was encompassed by a status display on the ship’s oxygen, which remained partially full.

This time Reynolds spoke up. “You think they’ll make it off?”

“Honestly…I don’t know,” Eli turned to Reynolds, who would not have seen the expression of uncertainty on his face as it was covered by the visor of his helmet.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Peter "Ray" Davidson Character Portrait: Aronimus Weston Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Clyde Summer Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Clyde - Bridge

Clyde sat back in his chair at the front of the ship, staring out the specially reinforced glass at the planet beyond. Watching. Waiting.
He had heard the stowaway send off another signal. They were going to come. Soon.

His face had grown grim ever since he had detected the stowaway. This was foul luck for any journey. It was only the first day of the launch and already they had run into a fleet of pirates led by an infamous renegade. Should they even survive this encounter, what would be next? Smooth sailing? Clyde doubted it. If anything, it was going to get worse. The mission at hand was to go fight off an enemy that the local federation force could not stop. An enemy that the federation couldn't in good conscience admit existed. Insurgent cells only reached the public eye when they had grown to prodigious size. When teams like this one failed to nip them in the bud.

But there would be time enough to ponder that later, priority one was to survive.
What was he going to do to be most useful? Fly the ship? Great hulking monsters like the Salient weren't very mobile. He could try, but it would be no use against the army of fighters no doubt comprising most of the renegade army. Fighters were easier to steal than large star cruisers.

Hack the enemy computers? No... That would doubtless be ADAM's job. The Admiral had bumped his power up another .7 percent a short while ago anyway. ADAM would do it better than Clyde could.
Man the guns? Probably not. TAU would have that covered. He may not be a strong as ADAM, but his job was far smaller in scale.
Prepare for boarding? Clyde was an excellent marine. So excellent in fact, it would likely be a waste of his talents. And besides- with a fleet against one ship, they probably wouldn't bother boarding. It would most likely be a storm of missiles so large that if one were to weigh the ship and the missiles, the missiles would be the side that tipped the scale.
The job of navigator didn't suit Clyde. He knew it, and it angered him just a little bit that he had been sent to do it. He could do so much more, and piloting this hulk was a joke. He was better behind a fighter anyway. Command probably expected his job to be to watch. Watch Weston, and learn what a commander was and what he had to do. The fate of the battle was not to be his to decide.

Clyde gave up wondering, and began to power up the particle canon. Stark, the original user of the main canon, was a part of Bravo Team. She wouldn't be back for a while yet anyway.

While the gun was charging, Clyde looked back up into space and saw, at the edges of the planet, lights. A lot of small lights. Not stars, they moved far too quickly. It was the fighters. The vanguard of the fleet, coming around the planet to engage.

Clyde stood up and pointed at the spectacle. "Look."
It was one word, but a few heard it and followed his gaze. Each person became quiet as the stream of fighters kept coming. They wouldn't be here for a while yet, but the enemy was in sight. A hush fell over the bridge. Those who still had important work to do went about it, but all talking had ceased. The time of battle was near.

Adriana - Second Pirate Frigate

Adriana finished the second check of the seals on armor. She was ready to head into space, and just in time. Uncle Ray pulled his ship up beside the airlock. He gave a quick hail over the comm link, but it wasn't necessary. It was hard to miss when you were staring out the view port waiting for his arrival.

Bravo Team filed into the airlock, with one last sound off to check that everyone was present. Adriana stated "Bravo Three" at the appropriate time, and the air was sucked out of the compartment with a hiss almost inaudible through the pressure suits. The heavy doors opened into the vacuum of space, and Bravo Team crossed the short gap to Ray's gunship. They were safe.

The airlock of the gunship opened and admitted the team. They began to store their equipment as Ray pulled away from the frigate.
Captain Colter turned to Ray, and gave the last order. "Take us home, Ray."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Peter "Ray" Davidson Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Ray didn't like waiting in exposed areas and was relived to here that he would not have to evacuate civilians in addition to the people he actually had a responsibility to. How many civilian ships did the Independent force abandon? Quite a few, it was simply not their job to guard federation shipping especially since very little of it was coming their way. Ray made the innovation of collecting some of the damaged ships left floating in space and rigged them up as Trojan Q ships: ships designed to appear like wrecks until the pray got close and then pact with explosives and a few additions to their engines would smash their way into their targets and detonate under the guidance of the Q program boys down in tech developed. In this way the insurgents lost most of their cruisers and the fighter shoot out began.

"Yes sir flying out of this wreck and happy to do so" said Ray to the captain however he was busy with the piloting of the gunship and didn't wait for a reply.

Ray activated his thrusters and cleared his way out of the ships space, while in combat Ray changed to a different setting depending on the type of combat which would allow him to speed up and maneuver as much as he wanted to a however while he was transporting a strike force and there where was no immediate danger he liked to take things safe.
Once safely away from the frigate he let off his sub engines and activated the navigation puter.

"Computer can you please calculate the best trajectory for the return journey?" asked ray; few people spoke to computers with the words please or thanks but Ray got into the habit.

"Processing… processing complete shall I activate the auto pilot?"

"No computer that will not be necessary, please display the information on screen" said Ray, if they where under threat of attack he wanted to have the controls in his hands.

Ray grinned and decided to cheer up the mood "Hello this is your captain speaking; we are nearing Salient city. The temperature outside is lovely for this time of the year; about minus 200 and something and the weather is gor… JESUS!" Ray screamed as alert after alert on his gunship began to screech; Ray had been worried about the sightings on his scanner and had put the ships sensors on yellow alert and programmed them to execute different alarms depending on the amount of blops that began moving. The system was on red alert and to make sure every one knew this the lighting of the gunship changed to a dark red. Ray liked seeing things for himself and put the scanner on screen;As he looked at the screen Ray was sure he lost a heart beat at that moment and wanted to make sure he was not imagining things.

"Sir, I am sorry about all these noisy alarms but can you come here please? There is something you should really have a look at"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Peter "Ray" Davidson Character Portrait: Aronimus Weston Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: T.A.U Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Max Character Portrait: Clyde Summer Character Portrait: Jon Dunaway Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Bridge of the F.S.S. Salient

The Admiral sat upright as he listened to T.A.U. speak. An idea from the new A.I., Aronimus was quite doubtful about it, but he listened to gauge whether or not it was at all ingenious as T.A.U. claimed it was.

"Tau, we only have knowledge that the ships are coming, but they haven't been spotted on our systems yet. Even then, you would need a direct link to their channels, I do not believe that the A.I. could enter the stream through our scanners. I don't see how hacking them would be possible." Aronimus didn't really enjoy pointing out the flaws, it would've aided their chances.

Then he paused to think. "Unless, it could enter their channels through a pirate ship," the Admiral shifted his view to the disabled frigates, then he turned quickly to the JG.

"Lieutenant Napier, can you patch me try and patch me through to the squad leader on board that ship?" the JG turned to face the Admiral, as Aronimus pointed to the lone frigate in the middle of space, floating along empty space. It was the first frigate decommissioned thanks to A.D.A.M., it had attempted to escape early on. The private security firm, Tartarus Group managed to inflict some damage with their light gunships, a feat that was nothing short of a miracle. After going blind, they chased the freighters, a path which crossed the Salient's own.

As a result, the encounter occurred, and the events would go down as the skirmish of Themos V if a historian dissected the databanks and recorded it in the archives, which would be followed by the ambush of Themos V.

"Patched through sir, you are speaking with Captain Dunaway," the name sounded familiar to Aronimus, who realized that he had sifted through his roster earlier today. He was the younger brother of the current operations Commander, and he was currently equipped with a new piece of personnel technology. The Admiral forgot about this over the course of events, he was only concerned about whether or not Captain Dunaway was still alive, seeing as how his lines of communication were down.

"Captain Dunaway, this is Admiral Weston, what is your status?"

Navigator Summer spoke. “Look.”

That single word heralded the beginning, as the bridge crew observed flickering luminosities on the edge of the gas planet. It was but a few glowing orbs, most likely the signal lights of small craft. Aronimus paid no attention, as he went typing away several keys on the haptic interface hovering directly in his line of sight.

“Is there a problem, ladies and gentlemen?” Aronimus tilted his head to catch a better view of the crew who were gazing at the hostile ships coming into view. “I suggest everyone return to their stations immediately and stop dawdling like academy recruits.”

There was a quiet calm that surrounded Aronimus, even as he spoke those words. He saw from the corner of his eye that the hostile fleet was establishing its presence in the field. Immediately several beeps alerted Aronimus of an incoming transmission.

This the Summerwind, Summerwind to Salient, we’re picking up a large number of unidentified vessels on our systems, are you reading this as well? Over.


------


Ray’s Swing Class Gunship

Eli turned to the cockpit hatch as Ray called for him; he had just stored his equipment in the overhead compartment, while the others strapped themselves in. He stepped through the small opening,

“What is it Ray?”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Peter "Ray" Davidson Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Elizabeth Waltz Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter Character Portrait: Ulric Kercheskoi
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Bucher Pete

The light blue glow of the Bucher Pete’s holographic interface and control consoles shone on Ray and Eli as they watched the armada slowly come into view. The vanguard was led by loose fighter packs that would attack like hounds on a single prey such as the Salient, or Ray’s lone gunship for that matter. Fortunately, they were already within range of the Salient’s docking bays, so they were in the clear.

“Just get us home Ray,” Eli couldn’t say much more.

He would’ve told the pilot to calm down, but the sight of such an innumerable foe would make blood drain off the face of the inexperienced and the fresh out the academy recruits that were the majority of the crew on board the Salient. Most spoke of seeing action, others invoked titles that proclaimed their battle scars, but…they haven’t see a fleet such as this.

As for the Salient, it maintained many light weapon systems, most of which were concealed beneath panels that would unsheathe the cannons used to take out the hornets of light craft. Most personnel were relatively safe behind its thick neo-steel plating, the most durable and advanced alloy of its time on a ship such as the Salient.

The neo-steel was a new alloy that was only found on five ships in the known galaxy, one of which was the Salient, the other four were its sister ships, the Neptune Class Battlecruisers. The Salient, however, would be the first to see actual combat and square off with non-Federation ships.

“We’ll probably have to prepare for a Code Red,” Eli patted the pilot on his shoulder, before leaving the cockpit. He could only trust in the Admiral’s ability to steer them out of this, if such a fate existed.

As Eli returned to the troop bay, he pulled out his assault rifle from the overhead storage, and looked to the other Marines.

“Alright boys and girls, get your weapons ready.”

“What for?” Weifert asked.

“As our current situation stands, we’ve got a large force of pirates amassing against the Salient, and they’ll probably try to board the ship, so once we get off report to the Barracks to receive orders.”

Eli strapped himself into a seat and awaited the arrival. Then he received a message, from the survivors on board the pirate frigate.

"Colter…Ulric here, I have some bad news. There is an explosive on board and its primed... But you already knew that didn't you?" there was a pause.

"That was most likely the whole reason for evacuating the ship... but it won’t work. Even if you get off this ship the ensuing shock wave will rip everything within a thousand metes apart. "I can't stop the device but I can re-purpose it… There was a girl with me…Elizabeth; if I can't make it then she becomes priority. Ulric out." Eli’s mouth stood slightly agape, before he issued a reply.

“Colter here, don’t worry about the bomb just get the hell off the ship. Ulric? Ulric! Son of a bitch.” Eli swore as the communique died.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Peter "Ray" Davidson Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Elizabeth Waltz Character Portrait: Ulric Kercheskoi
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Ulric Kercheskoi
Second Pirate Frigate: Power Plant

Ulric was not about to let such an act go without challenge knowing all too well that when this device goes off it would be an affront against him. He mulled the information over in his mind as he tried to remember what it was about this whole thing that was so similar to him from another time.
His boots made heavy sounds that resounded with sheer echoing power due to the space within the corresponding shaft. But in time he found himself looking on the next door too the core system for the ship and it was in here that he didn't know what to expect, and as his hand felt the empty space at his back he knew what was next on his list to retrieve.

Taking a few breaths to steady himself he begins to cycle the locks on the door and readies his rifle, stepping in advancing toward the core was his only real concern. Ulric's eyes began to search from side to side and corner to corner as he moved doing his best to cover each vantage point that could be used against him. His sights where soon on a more pressing matter within a few moments as he stared directly at the device. Its casing was a lit diagram of tubing and diodes that displayed a circular dial of red dots, each dot slowly disappearing only to lead to the next dot in succession doing the same.
In the center of the dial was a rather blatant numerical readout with the numbers.. (8:34) counting backwards on the screen.

Laying his weapon on the console next to him Ulric sets to opening the casing and begins inspecting his new objective. Doing his best not to agitate the bomb with some slight poking and prodding, he thumbs through several fiber optic wires doing his best to catalog them in mind.

A single bead of sweat is rolling down his forehead and he is starting to be ever more grateful that the inside of the mask is fog proof. But this wears on him even after searching through several wires and capacitors his mind grows heavy with impending though and finally Ulric looses patience with spite in the back of his mind... "You can stop skulking.. I already know your there." His words are met with the sharp jab of something metallic being pressed against the back of his mask, this was most likely his own gun seeing as he was lax enough to leave it around like that.
The offender jabs him once more causing him to drop a section of wires and the bomb gives a slight warning before normalizing again. Standing Ulric takes a chance and locks his communicator on and slyly places his arms behind his head.

"I would guess that your Captain Matthus..." Ulric says as he turns to face his captor and is taken back when he realizes that the pirate is actually a woman. Little was left to question as his head tilted in a moment of bewilderment and only when he noticed the name Matthus set underneath her uniforms makeshift rockers did he get the idea.
The woman was quite a specimen to behold her frame was taught and well trained as she stood there defiant of Ulric's imposing figure looming over her as he stood. Her blonde hair was pulled tight into a bun in the back but the recent battle within and without the ship has caused it to split and fray in some sections. He deep emerald eyes threatened to piece straight through him as the scowl of her brow threatened to become permanent with its severity.

She threatens with the barrel of the weapon as she steps back twice and levels the sites in Ulric's direction... ~I don't know you... so that means you damn well don't know me..~ "No.." Ulric returns "I was expecting your father Bryten."

An expression of rage rips across the young woman's face as several small veins flare up across her lightly olive toned skin and she attempts to strike him with the butt of the rifle. Ulric is deftly able to grab the rifle along the body and pull it away from her and the girl swiftly pulls back with equal speed and pulls a smaller handgun on him. Ulric doesn't show much interest in her as he drops the rifles mag and cycles the last round out of the chamber.
~How DO You Know That Name!!!~ She screams at him in an act of tyranny using her position as a means to coax more out of Ulric. "I guess that makes you Angela.." Ulric says and this makes her eyes go wide and he see's a small opening within her form.
Not wasting a chance Ulric charges his left side into the girl using his hand to deflect the barrel of the gun and checking her midsection with his left arm with two rounds cooking off from the weapon. This sends her into the railing on the compartments walkway and Ulric squares off with her once more when she regains her composer, she quickly scrambles down and pulls a long blade from her boot.

Ulric just tilts his head and looks at her... "You can just go ahead and give that too me as well..." He jokes as he tosses the pistol over the railing and into the lower section of the core. ~Shut up~ She returns.
Ulric stood in direct conflict with her hoping that his open comm would catch as much as he was able to draw out from her.

The setting changes from The Milky Way Universe to F.S.S. Salient

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Faith Mackenzie Character Portrait: Marcus Bergman Character Portrait: Elizabeth Waltz
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Marcus Bergman - Medical Bay

"Trauma team be on stand-by. Incoming code-56. Priority package. Dr. Bergman report to medical bay."

Marcus arrived immediately. Dr. Mackenzie's quarters were adjacent to the medical bay, as befitting her status as chief medical officer.

He waited in the medical bay, recounting the events of the last few hours.
He and Faith had gone to the Hyena's illicit party. They had had a... time. What little conversation that passed between the two was passed in between bursts of binge drinking and comments about how stupid the crew was being. And that was the game. Each time they saw something dangerous, moronic, or immoral they took a shot. Marcus lost the game in short order, but Faith plowed on regardless. Her final shot was a toast to her own alcoholism. She then put her head down, and refused to move until the alarms began to sound the arrival of Silver Eyes' fleet, partly because she had passed out as wave after wave of alcohol hit her system.

Marcus had to escort her to her quarters once the party had officially ended with the crew scrambling to collect their loot and get to their stations. He left her puking into her toilet. Doubtless she wouldn't be up and ready for action for quite some time.

The paramedics rushed in the injured girl. She was a pretty little thing, despite the fact that she had fainted and was bleeding from a bullet wound. That was good for him- she wouldn't make a fuss while he fixed her up.

Marcus looked at one of the paramedics while he did his work. "Why am I doing this, exactly?"
The medic stared him down. "Aren't you a doctor?"
"I'm a Virologist. My job isn't to patch wounds."
"Well you seem to be doing it right. Where's the chief?"
"Puking her guts out..." Marcus finished patching up Elizabeth and started to leave the room, headed back to checked on the drunken beauty. "Put her on a bed. You may need that for some other incoming patient."

Adriana

When Ray's ship came to dock at the Salient, Adriana didn't get off. Instead, she took out all of her gear and put it back on. The mission was a success, but now the base was in danger. There ain't no rest for the wicked, she supposed. Once fully armed, she disembarked and took off for her station in the lab. She stopped short at the entrance, catching her breath as she beheld her lab.

Everything was in ruins, shattered on the floor. At first she wondered who would bother to sabotage her, but then she remembered the cause. Someone had fired her canon. HER particle canon. How dare they!? She gave a grunt of anger, and swept some broken glass off a counter. She had only come in here to do some maintenance on Stanley, but now she had cleaning up to do. And then she had to go check on the canon, because whichever unauthorized prick used it probably didn't use it properly. It was a finicky thing, being a prototype and all.

After wasting too much time taking note of everything broken and sweeping all the now garbage into the incinerator, Adriana hurried down to the engineering center, which contained the interface and access to all the parts of the particle canon. She was horrified to find eight hundred ninety-seven alerts open on the computer. It was going to be a long day...

The setting changes from F.S.S. Salient to Bridge

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Peter "Ray" Davidson Character Portrait: Aronimus Weston Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Tiaan Peyton Character Portrait: Clyde Summer Character Portrait: A.D.A.M
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The Admiral sat back and watched the destruction unfold, his fingers steepled before his face.

ADAM did his job well- Not a shot was missed. Not until the debris was so heavy that the canons would not reach the enemy did ADAM fail to wipe out a ship. But now there arose the problem... They could not shoot the enemy. It was a tough call. Deploy the fighters or not? To deploy the fighters would throw them into the most dangerous debris field they would be likely to face in their career. Only the best pilots would manage to get through it all unscathed, and then on top of that they would have to begin fighting the enemy in that field. But if he didn't deploy the fighters, the Salient's fighting capacity would be reduced to the main canon, which was the only armament on the ship that could plow through all of the debris and still do any decent kind of damage.

"ADAM, patch me through to the engineering department. I need to know the status on the main cannon." The requested window appeared before him, and to his mild surprise he saw a fully armed marine on the other end.

"Adriana Stark reporting. What do you need, Admiral?" Stark's reply was distorted by the suit, but it was clear now why a marine was down in that corner of the ship.

"A status on the particle canon."

Stark hesitated and looked back at the control panels. She turned back and spoke up a few seconds later. "It's... rattled from its previous use. I can have it ready to fire soon... hopefully. I'll let you know when we can attack."

"Thank you Corporal, that will be all." The admiral closed the com link and thought for a moment. There was no main armament... If he was to maintain the offensive in the battle, he would have to send out the pilots. Lucky for him, the pilots were confirming their readiness for combat at that very moment. Surprising, seeing as many of the pilots were drunk and unfit to operate heavy machinery.

Admiral Weston sent his voice through the intercom. "Those pilots able and willing to fly, you are clear to do so. You are to keep all enemy ships out of the debris field; it is to be our shield from the enemy."

He then looked towards the front of the bridge. "Navigator Summer, plot all the launching pilots paths through the debris so that they may patrol the field without crashing."

The navigator gave a quick "Yes sir," and began typing away at his terminal. "Opening hangar doors. Pilots Peyton, Davidson, Cooper, and Jones have confirmed launch. FTL drives at 10% charge. The enemy is not entering the debris field... They seem to be gathering near the Altamus vessels. Course plotting near--"

"The WHAT IS AT TEN PERCENT!?" Aronimus thundered from his chair.

The navigator stopped typing. "The Faster-Than-Light drives, sir." He looked back at the admiral, his confusion evident. "Were we not escaping?"

The setting changes from Bridge to F.S.S. Salient

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Character Portrait: Aronimus Weston Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: T.A.U Character Portrait: Clyde Summer
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Adriana

The marine gear didn't help much with the finesse areas of maintenance, but Adriana got the job done all the same. It had taken some time, but it would definitely have taken more had she not been encouraged by the constant arms fire colliding with the nearby hull. The kamikaze impact was quite encouraging in particular. With a grunt, she extricated herself from the machinery, and returned to the control console to run a final set of diagnostics.

The particle cannon was operational once more.

Adriana opened a link to the bridge and saluted the Admiral on his appearance. "The main cannon is operational, sir. After a short charging sequence, you may fire at will."


Clyde

Strong... The word was one Clyde came back to again and again as he looked about at the chaos he had helped to create. It's what the Salient and its crew were. It was raining all kinds of death, and the ship was laughing into its face. The ratio of kills to deaths was simply enormous for the kind of battle they were facing. Something like hundreds to... zero.
Yes, zero. Not a single fighter had been shot down (thanks to the excellent crew selection and his own assistance), and only superficial damage had been done to the hull. It wasn't really even a battle outside... It was a slaughter. Wave after wave came just to be torn asunder and cast into the sea of debris.

But powerful as they were, there was still a crucial limiting factor... The FTL was gaining power. Clyde had ratcheted the gravity up a few more times, but it wasn't enough... and if he did it anymore it might start to cause problems.
Despite his stalling, it seemed as if the FTL was increasing -faster- instead of slowing down. The rate at which energy was being generated was growing. There needed to be another way.

"Any word from the two A.I.s yet, Navigator Summer?" lines of apprehension began to entrench themselves on Aronimus' chiseled complexion.

"Not yet sir, but they seem to be quite active in their --"

"Hello my Puppet"

... What? Clyde was familiar with the signature- It was TAU. But that in itself was alarming. AI were not supposed to have such threatening routines.
Clyde watched the enemy break themselves upon each other.
Well... He was doing his job, at least.

Clyde's attention snapped back to the task at hand as Corporal Stark contacted the Admiral.
The cannon was active! Clyde checked the FTL Drives. 45%.
He routed power into the cannon... And to his gratification, the charge for the FTL drive froze. As long as they continued to charge the cannon, the FTL would come no closer to activation.

The setting changes from F.S.S. Salient to Bridge

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Clyde Summer
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Clyde

As the particle canon charged, Clyde set about his new task of aiming. It was a complicated business- There were hundreds of extremely quickly moving targets, a veritable wall of debris, and the timing involved in causing the most damage in one shot. He had to sit there and plot the motion paths of all of the ships and find the most likely place to deal the most damage. Oh. He also had to make sure he didn't come close to shooting any allies, who were darting in and out of the fray with their fighters.

Great.

To Clyde's mild surprise, the place where the most damage could be done wasn't in the damaging of a larger ship. It was a mass of fighters, swarming around trying to catch the Salient's pilots, and the mass behind that mass, still targeting the old dead pirate frigate. Clyde fired the cannon. Without preamble, the massive recoil rocked the ship once more, and a great beam erupted from the Salient, tearing through all of the shattered debris and enemy ships, leaving an impression from the light burned into the retinas of anyone who had the misfortune of looking into the blast.

Meanwhile, the FTL charge ticked up one more point, its stasis broken by the sudden lack of power being drawn by the cannon. 46%.

Clyde attempted to activate the cannon's charge once more, but he had been locked out of the system. Corporal Stark informed him curtly about cooldown. It would be a while before it was safe to fire the cannon again. And the FTL charge grew ever higher.

The setting changes from Bridge to Infirmary/Medical Bay

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Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Elizabeth Waltz Character Portrait: Garrison "Blacksmith" Carter
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Eli had returned to his quarters after leaving the Hangar Control Tower. He was battered, the mission aboard the frigate had shot his nerves, and he knew he wasn’t ready for another go yet. Luckily the pirates weren’t even close to send boarding parties onto the Salient. He had already detached himself from his operation equipment, no longer donning a weighted combat suit. Now he was relaxed in his black t-shirt and cargo pants. The pair of dog tags hanging from his neck, jostling for eminence on his chest as he walked.

He was heading towards the Mess Hall to find something to eat; he had worked up an appetite, considering he hadn’t eaten lunch today. He didn’t expect many people to be in the Mess Hall, they’d probably be in the Bridge or the Observation Decks watching the fireworks. At least he’d have some quiet time, after the hell he went through today.

His squad had disbanded and dispersed to various places. Adriana was probably in the Engineering Center, tending to the main cannon. The Sarge and the two privates were probably in the Rec center, cooling down after the mission. It was good to have some R&R, especially when their first day sent them out on a mission that was life-threatening.

Somewhere in the middle of his path to the Mess, he stopped himself, and retracted his steps. He decided instead to head to the infirmary. He sauntered along the sterilized corridor of the Infirmary, as the medical crews were busy operating on wounded servicemen, inside the zero-g surgery chambers. He passed by those chambers, and approached the many recovery quarters. One of which was occupied by a celebrity.

A holographic strip, located above the blast door, with running letters read out “Elizabeth Waltz.” The Captain raised his ID card, and swiped it across the holographic interface module. The door opened with a sliding swish once the module had clarified his identity.

Eli walked in, cautiously. The room was, like the rest of the infirmaries, sterilized free of any speck of dust or invisible micro-organic pathogen. Of course, the rest of the Salient was just as clean, but the infirmaries were kept at peak cleanliness, thanks to the androids that waxed, buffed, and washed the floors, and bulkheads.

Elizabeth was standing by a port view, watching the battle outside, with her back turned to Eli. She could only watch, for the sound of cannons and torpedoes were silenced by the thick layer of plexi-glass. Her multiple lacerations were healing now, as the nanotech lasers patched up the wounds. Eli could only wonder about her experiences aboard the pirate ship.

“How are you feeling Ms. Waltz?”

The setting changes from Infirmary/Medical Bay to F.S.S. Salient

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Character Portrait: Peter "Ray" Davidson Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Clyde Summer Character Portrait: A.D.A.M
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Adriana

The area below decks where Adriana worked on the particle cannon was separated from the vacuum of space by a single layer of hull. Every little ping of an enemy shot echoed through the space. This is how Adriana knew the battle had ended: Everything grew silent but for her own breathing and her footsteps as she walked back and forth along the length of the ship checking for damage. She returned to the terminal.

"What's happening outside, ADAM?"

The blue face appeared, and his synthesized voice came across the speakers. "All fighting has ceased. The Salient is about to perform a slip-space jump, and there is no further purpose in the battle."

Adriana nodded and switched off the terminal. It was all over and the ship was still in working order. That was the good news. She was sure there would be bad, but nothing in particular that would be her inconvenience. At least, she hoped not.

Clyde

99%

Clyde steered the ship through the debris field, the ship canons blasting away obstruction. The enemy fleet cleared a path for the Salient's jump. They didn't want to be disintegrated by the jump any more than the Salients' crew did.

Clyde made the last minute checks- Was everything in working order? Not quite, but the ship would survive. Was everyone accounted for? A few fighter deaths, Thaddeus Jackson pronounced missing in action, everyone else returned. Except... Peter Davidson. Clyde took one look at his ship, drifting alone in space, and knew that it was not going to return.
There was a little blip on his screen. It was a text-only message, sent from an old radio. Sent from the dying ship.
Carry on Fighting, carry on crying, carry on smiling but for heaven's sake carry on living" - Unit Commander Peter Ray Davidson, deceased.

Clyde looked away as the ship exploded in a brilliant ball of energy, a small sun marking the death of a storied pilot.

What kind of launch was this? They had been in space hardly a day and already tragedy wracked the voyage. It did not bode well for the rest of the mission.

Clyde sighed and turned back to his terminal. The final stage of preparation for the the FTL jump came into affect automatically. The artificial gravity generator activated to its fullest potential, and froze everything on board the ship a split second before the jump occurred to protect it from the massive acceleration. Then the gravity shifted from null to a push opposite the acceleration, keeping everything from being crushed until the speed leveled out.

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