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jamessavik

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About jamessavik

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  1. jamessavik

    Forward Base

    Argus Sigma Puppis System Argus sat serenely moored to a long abandoned mining station. Beside her in the next slip was her sister the Phrixus which was loaded with illegally augmented humans— almost all of them twenty-five years old or younger. It was the next ship over that Mason looked at with dread: the Marine Assault ship Corregidor. At sixty thousand tons, the Cory was many times larger than the freighters. Despite being a forty year old veteran of the ConFed War, she was still quite deadly. Corregidor had a combination of several very deadly attributes. First, she was a troop ship that could move two companies of embarked marines and all of their attached equipment. Second, she was a carrier with enough drop ships and ground attack craft to land those troops and give them an impressive amount of fire support once they were on the ground. Last, she was literally an assault ship which carried six kinetic projectile launchers that could put a hyper accelerated mass of metal of up to a metric ton in a circle five meters across. Marine run ships were the only combatants in the Alliance military that possessed such capability. The thought of riding that ship to a populous, developed world like Thrace and devastating it made Mason feel sick. There was a knock on Mason’s stateroom door and he said, “Come in.” Gary and Jerry entered the stateroom and one of them, Mason couldn’t tell which, said, “You asked to see us?” Gary and Jerry were special among the Gemini soldiers. The Gemini soldiers had an officer caste which turned out to be about one out of every sixteen pair, and all of the Geminis seemed to defer to them. They were very intelligent and Mason decided that he liked these two. Mason said, “Have a seat guys. We need to talk.” They sat in two of the chairs and one of them handed Jeff a computer tablet with “Rooms bugged- we know, Marion has briefed us.” typed onto the screen. Jeff looked up from the tablet, with a surprised glance and asked, “How can I help with the transfer?” Jerry said, “We’ve already got things started. James and John and our snipes are already aboard Corregidor and getting her systems up. We’ll move everybody off the Argus as soon as we get the word. Phrixus will be fast. It’s just people and luggage. They don’t have any heavy equipment to move.” Gary said, “It looks like we’re on schedule and can be underway by first thing in the morning. If you want to get your hands dirty, we could use some help transferring equipment.” Task Force Hammerhead Planetary Nebulae NGC-765092 The fleet jumped into the murk of the nebulae well ahead of schedule. Danny had programmed some long jumps for the transit and the fleet was well and truly in hostile space. Their primary objectives Stonegarden and Pacifica were a mere forty-two and thirty-six light years away. The secondary objectives were no further away than fifty-five light years. Now it was time for the fleet auxiliaries and transports to get to work building the forward operating base. A fleet recon drone had taken position close enough to get a good look at the work and Saratoga was monitoring the feed. There was a small gas giant the size of Neptune about a light hour out from the dying star. It was chosen as the anchor point for the forward base and, the construction began when the transports took up a position in orbit and released a small fleet of construction drones. When Danny got a good look at those drones he had to do a double take. He said, “Commander Hayes, don’t those remotes look a lot like enemy Bumblebee class drones?” Hayes replied, “Good catch Mister Sokolsky. We’ve learned a lot about robotics technology from the Toasters. What you are seeing out there is a new generation of construction drones that have merged our existing tech with some tricks the enemy taught us.” As they watched, the scores of little drones and a few bigger ones began running back and forth between the transports cargo pods and what was obviously becoming the hub of the station. Dubois said, “Wow, those things can really move.” It was an impressive performance. One of the big drones would bring a large component from a cargo pod and hand it off to a few of its worker drones would grab it, spot weld it in place and move on to the next task. The speed, accuracy and quality of work prompted Danny to say, “I’m going to buy some stock in those.” Argus Sigma Puppis System Mason did indeed get his hands dirty. He worked all day getting the equipment stored in Argus’s holds transferred over to the Corregidor. He found himself in cargo bay three; walked over to a stack of lockers and opened forty-four. There was a big toolbox on rails that would keep it in place in zero-G conditions. He started rifling through it and found what he was looking for. He palmed the data crystal and took three common wrench sizes and put them on his tool belt. Had anyone been watching on the cameras, all they would have seen would be a worker picking out an assortment of common tools. Task Force Hammerhead Planetary Nebulae NGC-765092 The task force settled into a leisurely parking orbit around the gas giant dubbed Smokey due to its gray, smoggy appearance and watched with amazement as the new Forward Operating Base rapidly took shape. The little robotic drones scurried about like an agitated colony of ants on speed and cappuccino. In the few hours since it was started the core of the base was formed and the spokes of the ring were already in place. Sokolsky spent some quality time in his lab that morning going over his part of the upcoming operation. His neural implants were one of the keys to making it all work. After getting all the ships telescopes with the right firmware slaved together, they formed a very powerful array of adaptive optics. The next step was to use that information for targeting. It wasn’t a trivial problem but, he was able to use a macro in his implants so that his own brain was acting as a front end for the fire control systems. If their plan was to be successful, it had to happen fast. This was the best he could do and be ready for show time. As he worked, there was a knock on his door and he absently said, “Come in” as he made another tweak to the macro programming to handle the interface. A Lieutenant entered the lab carrying a notepad computer under his arm. He said, “Commander Sokolsky, I’m Lt. Alanson. I’m with Sara’s Tactical department and we wanted to run a few things by you before the big show.” Sokolsky looked up from his terminal and said, “How can I help Lieutenant?” Alanson said, “I understand that an ERD is going to play a big part in our attack and I wanted to go over details so we can decide which one of our weapons is right for the job.” Danny asked, “An ERD?” “ERD stands for an ‘Enhanced Radiation Device’. Some people call them EMP bombs but that is a misnomer.” Danny nodded his head and said, “Got it. What are our choices?” Alanson said, “We have three types aboard. The ERD-70e is the old standard. It’ll fry almost anything without hard shielding out to about 40 kilometers. It sends out a surge of around fifty mega-electron volts on a line of sight decreasing as a square to the distance. We tried these on the Toasters but, they have to get really close to take any damage.” Danny asked, “What else do we have in the magazines?” Alanson replied, “We’ve got the ERD-74e which is about twice as powerful. We also have an ERD-70m but that’s a special microwave bomb meant to disrupt planetary communications.” Danny said, “How do these bombs work?” “They are very similar to typical nukes but instead of the typical blast and thermal bloom, the energy release is in a powerful electro-magnetic surge that is murder on all things electronic. They used them against the Toasters early in the war but the enemy adapted to them very quickly. That’s why I was so surprised when the TacCo asked me to have a word with you about them.” Danny reached out with his implants and asked the ships computer to show him the specifications of the ERD-74e. It displayed a dizzying amount of information but what caught his mind’s eye was the core of the warhead was an exotic mix of Neptunium and several other trans-uranium elements. It was typical of an implosion device but its energy release was exactly as Alanson had described. Danny said, “We’re going to use the ERD-74e and we’re going to use it in jump space. The Toasters are much more vulnerable there. That’s where they do all of their communications and, we can seriously hurt them.” Alanson asked the obvious question, “How are we going to deliver it?” “The hyper-space projectors we use to send fighters off on deep patrols. I have a program that merely opens a jump point without opening an exit point. We’ll send the bomb in and close the jump point. It will pretty much lobotomize any toasters within the area of effect.” “How big will the area of effect be?” “That’s the big question. I can’t really be sure. Jump space is dimensionless. I have calculated it will deliver a seriously damaging pulse out to a little over five light years. We will need to wait at least ten minutes for the effects to dissipate before we will be able to open a jump point.” Alanson whistled and said, “That far?” Danny said, “Maybe a lot farther but, anything as connected to sub-space as our enemy is within five light years will fry like bacon.” Corregidor Marine Assault Ship Sigma Puppis System At some point in the changeover, things got organized enough aboard the Corregidor that the bridge and Combat Information Center were finally manned. Mason had never been aboard a warship and this one was specialized to facilitate Marine operations. Much to his surprise, the crew had put him in tentative political command with Gary and Jerry acting as his military deputies. Mason had himself situated in the Captains ready room adjacent to the bridge. From there he could keep an eye on activities and have some space to work. He had already loaded some software and as soon as they were near a relay or an inhabited system, they would be able to monitor the newsfeeds. Even though the ship was old and had been mothballed for years, the command areas were powerful and complicated. There was quite a lot of arcane equipment and it looked like the Gemini soldiers knew how to use all of it. The loading of their passengers went smoothly. All of them were highly motivated. They were from worlds whose local laws put a great many restrictions on them that had complicated their lives. The stated plan was to jump into an anchorage where the Alliance had a number of Conestoga class colony ships parked until the Rim War was over, seize one and jump away to deep, unexplored space. Then they would find a world, claim it for their own and live happily ever after. As much as that thought appealed to Mason, it was the Bishop’s unannounced side trip to Thrace for a kinetic bombardment atrocity that had his stomach tied in knots. Hitting a populated core world with kinetic weapons could easily kill millions of people and leave lasting environmental damage. The Alliance would never stop looking for them. Gary’s voice interrupted his reverie, “Conn to the Skipper. The Bishop’s ship just jumped into the system and will be docking in an hour.” Mason replied, “Acknowledged.” The end game had begun, but in this game the pawns had a mind of their own. Task Force Hammerhead Planetary Nebulae NGC-765092 Forward Operating Base (FOB) Delta It took Danny and the Tactical Section crew six hours to work out all the necessary details to deploy the Enhanced Radiation warheads via the hyperspace projectors on the flight line. The warheads were designed to be mounted on a standard missile chassis so that part was easy. The job might have taken even longer if there hadn’t been some work already done on how to accomplish using the catapults and the long range projectors to deliver ordnance. Some enterprising officers had suggested doing something very similar while the new fleet carriers were undergoing trials. It took the machine shop about an hour to fabricate some harnesses that would attach to the missiles to the catapult. A harder problem was creating a data bus to upload the missiles programming and control it. Once that was accomplished, they tested it by sending a standard ship killer missile through and worked out a way to get the ordnance up from the magazines, past the flight line and into the service corridors serving the launch tubes in the bow of the ship. Once all of that had been solved Danny was astonished to find most of the afternoon was just gone. He got cleaned up and reported to Commander Hayes that their special delivery package was ready for shipment. Hayes asked him a few questions about the process they had worked out and Danny answered them to the Commander’s satisfaction. Then Hayes asked, “Danny, could we use the same method to deliver nukes?” Executive Officers ask awkward questions like that. Danny and the Tactical section would work long into the night into the night because, when you do something special, someone always wants you to top it. By midnight local time they had worked out everything necessary deliver most of the special weapons lockers contents by way of the hyperspace projector from ten kilo-tons up to one hundred fifty megaton variety. Corregidor Marine Assault Ship Sigma Puppis System Bishop Keilor boarded the Corregidor like a conquering general with several of his personal guards. Sebastian Beck met him at the airlock with an embrace and said, “It’s really about to happen after all these years.” Keilor smiled broadly and replied, “Yes old friend. We’ve kept our promise, and now; it’s about to all come together.” Keilor returned the salute of the honor guard of Gemini soldiers. Very few people aboard knew that it was from this very ship the Bishop’s company of Marines had dropped into a meat grinder on Pelenor in the last days of the ConFed War. Jeff and Marion watched the Bishop’s triumphant entry via the ships security system. Jeff said, “That smug SOB is taking a victory lap. Marion, I really wish you would stay with us. You have to know what guys like Keilor do to loose ends.” She watched the Bishop’s hail fellow, well met routine and said, “If there’s any chance to get back together with my family I’ve got to try.” Jeff gently took her arm and said, “Marion, you know he’s going to kill you.” Marion grinned and said, “He’ll regret it if he does.” There was a knock on the door and the twins James and John entered Mason’s ready room. John said, “We’re ready to purge the computer systems. It’ll take some time but we have everything we need to put them back together after we pull the plug.” Mason asked, “What about critical systems?” James said, “We can put them into local control. That’s what happens by default when the main computer fails.” Marion said, “Whatever we’re forgetting, it’s show time. We’ve got to get the Bishop off the ship so you guys can get away and scrub your computers. Task Force Hammerhead Planetary Nebulae NGC-765092 Forward Operating Base (FOB) Delta Just before he knocked off for the night, Danny had a look at the progress on the Forward Operating Base. There were still a number of spiders crawling over its external spaces but it looked like it was nearly finished. One of the fleet munitions carriers, the Thor, was docked and apparently unloading its holds into the base cargo facilities. He thought of the mysterious Mr. Carter who had come aboard the Raymond T. Burke when this had all started. Let him have his secrets if they all work out this well. It was well past midnight when Danny dragged himself into his rack. He found Tom Rivers sitting up in his bunk asleep with his computer pad in his lap. Danny slipped out of his dirty work uniform and got on the top bunk. As he did, Tom stirred and said, “You back Danny?” “Yeah. The XO had a brain storm and gave the Tactical guys and me enough work for a whole extra shift today.” Tom was quiet for a moment and said, “Are you nervous?” Danny chuckled and said, “Oh yeah. Everything is riding on some of the stuff I have worked out. I’m not scared of the battle. I’m terrified something I might have over looked may bite us on the keester.” “Same here. Tomorrow before we jump in, a couple of my guys are going to recon the area around Stonegarden in a pair of Ravens. Then when we hit the enemy fleet, I’m going out as a controller on a Spectra to coordinate the attack.” Danny said, “Aren’t the Ravens those matt black spy birds that are made of carbon composites?” Tom said, “Yeah. They’re pretty cool. They are small enough not to make a huge jump footprint and most sensor suites can’t see them unless they are really close.” Danny said, “It takes big brass ones to fly into an enemy system armed only with a sporty ride and a camera.” “Oh yeah, but they aren’t completely unarmed. Each one carried four anti-radiation missiles and a jammer pod. Stealth really is their best defense.” Danny paused and said, “We’re going to do all right tomorrow.” “Yeah. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have the jitters.” Corregidor Marine Assault Ship Sigma Puppis System Mason watched on the ships security system as the Bishop made his way through the ship and couldn’t help but think damn, this guy is good. Bishop Keilor was an eloquent and engaging speaker even though Mason knew at least two-thirds of his speeches were half-truths and outright lies. He could glad hand with the best. Watching the Bishop work the crowd, Mason remembered an old story about a Roman General or Emperor, he couldn’t remember which. He had a slave that would follow him around and say: remember thou art mortal and all glory is fleeting. The Bishop could have used one of them. Slapping backs and shaking hands, he continued his act as he worked the crowd and made his way to the bridge where Jeff, Marion and the command crew of the Corregidor were waiting. When the Bishop arrived on the bridge, on seeing Jeff he asked, “Is anything wrong?” Jeff said, “Loading the ship was a lot of work. We’re all sore and tired.” The Bishop acknowledged Mason with a curt nod and turned to Marion, “Are you ready to ship out? We’re a jump away from Regency Station where you can catch a ship.” Marion said, “I’ve got my purse and suitcase and I’m ready to travel.” The Bishop smiled, “Good, good. Then we all have a busy day ahead so we had best get started.” Once he was sure all was well, Bishop Keilor, Sebastian Beck and Marion Scott left the Corregidor and headed to their own ship. Argus and Phrixus both disconnected from their berths and began to head outside the gravity well of the Sigma Puppis system. The Bishop’s ship was third in line but it was smaller and faster than the freighters. It would be the first to jump. James picked up the bridge mike and said, “Now hear this. The ship is about to depart. Stand by maneuvering.” When he set the mike down, he gave the order, “Release the docking clamps. Thrusters back one third.” Slowly the ponderous Corregidor backed away from the old station and began a wide turn to bring her bow around. Once she was heading bow on and gaining way, John announced, “The ship is in trim and accelerating. We’re two hours away from our jump point.” Task Force Hammerhead Planetary Nebulae NGC-765092 It all started while Sokolsky and Rivers were still in their rack. The fleet, less its attached auxiliaries, tankers and transports, began to form up for battle. Carrier Divisions one through four and the Marine Assault Group formed the core of the formation. They were widely spaced as carriers need room to operate but were still close enough to provide mutual support. Close in to the carrier divisions, the two divisions of battle cruisers formed up with the carriers to provide close screening. The battle cruisers were armed a lot like battleships but they lacked the same armored protection and were fast. Admiral Stewart’s Kongo and the Dunkerque formed up close aboard the 1st Carrier Division to cover Yorktown, Saratoga, Enterprise and Lexington. The rest of the battle cruisers attached themselves in pairs to the four Carrier Divisions. Just in front of the carriers was Battleship Division 1 consisting of the “R” class missile heavy armed battleships: Bassett’s flag Repulse and her sisters Renown, Revenge and Rodney. On the right and left flanks of the carrier formation were BatDiv’s 2 and 3 with BatDiv 4 trailing. Outside of the ring of battleships was a ring consisting of six divisions of cruisers. Each cruiser division consisted of a command cruiser and seven heavy cruisers. This ring was three dimensional around the core formations. Finally, outside the ring of cruisers was a screen of eight squadrons of destroyers less the squadron detached to escort the transports back to Alliance space. Each destroyer squadron consisted of a light cruiser as flag and eleven destroyers. The formation was coordinated by the fleet’s TacCom network connecting all the ships. Every ships movement, spacing in the formation and weapons were controlled by the fleet’s command staff over TacCom. It even provided for the ships firing arcs and safe transit zones for fighters and shuttles. By the time Sokolsky and Rivers had breakfast and assumed their stations, the fleet was maneuvering away from the gravity well of the little gas giant to jump. At seven am fleet time, the speakers on the bridge crackled to life, “Hammerhead Actual to fleet. Set condition one throughout the fleet. This morning we will engage the enemy. Prepare to jump on my next signal.”
  2. Operation Hammerhead chapter 17- Forward Base will publish Saturday night at 8pm eastern!

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  3. jamessavik

    Cadet Cruise

    That's coming Paul but I've got to finish Operation Hammerhead first. It'll make more sense when I start rolling it out.
  4. jamessavik

    Make us laugh!

  5. walmart-saturday-night.png

    1. Page Scrawler

      Page Scrawler

      Now you know why I shop at Meijer. And only on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. :P

  6. jamessavik

    LolCats

  7. jamessavik

    LolCats

    Winblowz update gave me the horks
  8. winblowz update gave me the horks
    horking-cat.jpg

  9. In 1957 Civil Defense sent geiger counters to every high school in the country so young people could learn to detect and monitor radiation from fallout. Thank your lucky stars we won the Cold War. 

  10. jamessavik

    Kin

    Task Force Hammerhead Saratoga 0700 “Now hear this. This is the XO. Begin morning watch. We will be arriving at our replenishment point this morning. Expect a layover of three days as the fleet fuels and loads munitions. I expect our replenishment teams to get us squared away soonest. The carriers are in the front of the line so the sooner we get it done, the more time we’ll have for rope yarn.” Danny logged into the master navigational console for the morning watch and sent a query through his neural implant: what is rope yarn?” In the days of sail, one afternoon a week was set aside for the repair of sails. It was a day of rest for sailors while underway. The slang has survived from wet navies to indicate any period of crew rest while underway. The computer signaled that the first jump equations were ready and Sokolsky said, “Conn, this is Plot. I have a valid jump solution for jump Master 22-1.” Lt. Rankin said, “Jump computer has accepted your solution Plot. Transmit to the fleet and start the jump clock.” Dubois sent the jump equations to the fleet and said, “Jump clock has started.” The rating manning the engineering console said, “Jump engines are charging nominally. All boards are green sir.” As the jump engines charged, his implant signaled the receipt of new messages. TO: Daniel Sokolsky, Science Officer, Saratoga FROM: John Gant, XO, Canberra RE: please contact ASAP during stand down TO: Daniel Sokolsky, Science Officer, Saratoga FROM: Franz Muller, Captain, Fearless RE: Would like to have a word with you TO: Daniel Sokolsky, Science Office, Saratoga FROM: Shawn West, Engineer 3, Renown RE: Would like a moment during the layover He immediately recognized the names. They were all members of small group that shared his, Tom and Holloway’s genome id. Time to meet the family. Task Force Hammerhead Raymond T. Burke Captains Day Room Captain Schmit and Chris Harrison were having a 2nd cup of coffee when the long awaited virtual meeting began. All of the Command crews of the fleet transports were connected into the fleet network when Admiral Sam Stewart appeared on their monitor and began. “Good morning gentlemen. I’m Admiral Stewart and my job is to protect your ships. We’ve been very tight lipped about our specific plans because we are not sure if our enemies can penetrate our firewalls and networks. Early in the war there were some indications that they could until we deployed new encryption protocols. When it comes to security, we have to be very paranoid about their capabilities.” “This morning I’m here to fill in the blanks.” “First- what you are carrying is a modular base. We will be deploying it in enemy territory to support our operations. It will provide facilities to fuel and munition our ships, repair battle damage and support our operations.” “Second- as you are carrying mission critical hardware, when we form up to jump after refueling at GC9882, each of your ships will get a close escort. Ships from Destroyer Squadron 5 will pair up with the transports to provide close escort. That is in addition to the protection of the rest of the fleet.” “Third- once you have offloaded your cargo, we will form up a small convoy with a light escort and go home the way we came. The convoy will rendezvous with the prepositioned ships at GC9882 and proceed to re-enter Alliance space in the Sagitta sector. You should all be back in friendly space in two or three of weeks.” “Finally- you will be shipping out empty with full fuel tanks on a speed run. Your chances for running into the enemy are virtually nil but you will have all the ships I can spare to escort you home.” “That will effectively end your part of the operation. Are there any questions?” There was a brief pause and then someone spoke up. “This is Captain Kent of the Elliott Jefferson sir. I understand we will be arriving at our resupply point today. How long will it be until we are in position to offload our cargo?” Admiral Stewart answered, “We expect to stay at GC9882 for three days. From there it will then be three days to the Carina Rim. We expect the base to be up and running in 36 hours. Call it just about a week. Is there anything else?” This time there were no questions. The Admiral said, “Very well. Once we establish our anchorage, the transports and their escort element will form up and jump for home. Your close escort will contact you before we form up to jump for enemy space. Good luck everyone.” Delta 44-40 Heavy Redeye Flight from Evergreen to Parliament Special Agent Eric Fields had his computer pad on his tray table working. He picked at a stale Danish and cold coffee as he reviewed his case files. Working Evergreen was always interesting. In fact, Fields had started out on Evergreen. Their Rangers were a highly regarded law enforcement unit that had to have a mix of skills and an understanding of the unique planetary ecology. After he mustered out of the Alliance Marines after the Corporate War, he had applied and worked as a Ranger for over a decade. The Ministry of Justice had recruited him for their investigative branch a few years ago. Now Fields was Justice’s liaison with Evergreen. After spending three fruitless days looking for Scott Mason on Evergreen, he and his partner had been summoned back to Parliament. Max was useless on flights. He had the unique and priceless talent to sleep through them. Fields could not figure out why Headquarters had assigned the Mason case such a high priority. The paperwork and warrants on the kid made him sound like the worst thing since MilTech’s cyborgs. Field’s gut told him there simply had to be more to it than he needed to know. It didn’t matter what kind of cop you are: you deal with people. Damaged, broken and sometimes evil people but people nonetheless. With experience and instinct, a good cop becomes proficient at reading people and Fields wasn’t buying Mason as a maniacal terrorist. Something else was going on here and it had the stench of politics about it. For weeks the conservative coalition in Parliament had been telling everybody that would listen how dangerous illegals, or people conceived with illegal genetic enhancements, were supposed to be. They wanted to rewrite the Genome Protection Act and redefine their legal status. There wasn’t a clue to Masons presence anywhere on Evergreen. Besides for the surveillance photo taken near the University, there was no sign of him on planet. No hits on facial recognition, no activity on his credit account. In the days after he vanished, no fewer than two hundred and fifty ships had been in and out of Evergreen’s orbital space moving agricultural goods all over the core worlds and points beyond. Fields brooded over the surveillance photo on his computer screen as his partner silently snored in the seat beside him. It was a short twenty-two second piece of night-vision video in shades of gray. Mason appeared to be drunk or drugged and two guys were- what? Helping him walk it off? No. Someone had given Mason Ketanol to remove his tracker-bug. Mason would have had the all the fortitude of grape jelly. The facial recognition software that had spotted Mason had drawn a blank on the two mystery men. They looked to be about the right age for college but something about them rang alarm bells in Fields mind. It was the way they moved, their situational awareness and the way they swept the area with their eyes. He had seen people that moved like that in his own Marine Force Recon training and later with the Evergreen Rangers. Elite troops had a way about them. It wasn’t something they did out of ego. It is a way of thinking and acting that was very distinct honed by years of experience and training. Those two young men helping Mason down the street were operators or Fields would eat his hat. That raised another much more interesting question: whose operators were they? Hotel Clairmont Parliament Jeff woke to a splitting headache. He fumbled with the empty champagne bottle which eluded his grasp and slid off the couch. Marion looked up from her computer screens and said, “Good morning sunshine.” Jeff sat up and said, “My mouth tastes like sweat socks.” Marion laughed and said, “You always were a cheap drunk. Look in my bag in the bath.” Jeff wobbled his way into the bath that was still steamy from Marion’s shower. He fumbled through her make up kit and found her breather mask. He turned it on and put it over his mouth and inhaled the units hangover relief mixture. Its effects were almost instantaneous as his head cleared. He still looked rough so he took a quick shower and dressed. When he appeared, Marion was busy monitoring the progress of the teams as they made their way through the bowels of the city. She looked up from her work and said, “Better?” “I’ll live. How is it going?” She took a sip of orange juice and said, “So far, so good. The various security systems have all taken the passwords so far. Our boys will all be in position to install our surprises over the next hour.” She said, “Anything inside the Parliament data network you’re curious about? We have the keys to the kingdom right now.” Jeff pulled out a computer pad that he had and plugged in the new memory module that he had bought. He booted the system and connected to Marion’s sub-net and gasped. Marion smiled and said, “We’re inside the network and the security systems think we’re with CNET. We’ve got a level of access somewhere between a Cabinet Minister and a demi-God.” Task Force Hammerhead GHJ-743146 System Cygnus Rim The task force emerged from jump in the Sandage system at general quarters. Tanaka’s carriers launched a strong fighter escort just in case the enemy showed up. Tom Rivers and Crash McDonald were busy on the Saratoga’s Pri-Fly (Primary Flight Control) controlling the fighter screen. Commander Hayes said, “Done with navigation. Maneuvering has the conn.” A watch stander repeated, “Maneuvering has the conn, aye.” Danny’s navigation duties were done for the moment, but he stayed at his post watching the ballet the fleets command crew was performing. Every ship was locked into a tightly choreographed dance and it was impressive. The only thing at all remarkable about the tiny red dwarf system was its placement on the edge of the galaxy. The Sandage Research Station had been placed there a short while after the Cygnus arm planets had been colonized. For forty years the observatory had been used to study astrophysical phenomena in distant galaxies unobservable from the other side of the galaxy. Sandage Station had observed, catalogued and studied supernova, gamma ray bursts, active galactic nuclei, young and old galaxies. Now it was mothballed until the Alliance could evict their rude neighbors. From over the fleet-wide channel, one of the officers aboard the Repulse voice announced, “The handshake with the StarCom relay was successful. Our data package is way.” Admiral Bassett’s deep voice came across the fleet wide channel, “Hammerhead Actual to fleet, stand down to Condition 2. Be prepared to jump as soon as we get our reply and recover the CAP.” It took a little under an hour for the reply to arrive. Sokolsky turned the key to enable the Saratoga’s computer to send the new jump coordinates to the fleet. He announced, “New jump solution has been sent to the fleet.” Another member of the navigation team said, “All ships acknowledge receipt of a valid solution.” “Hammerhead Actual to fleet: before we jump to GC9882 to rendezvous with our tankers, this is the message we received— Great White Actual to Hammerhead. Mako, Bullhead and Leopard battle groups will begin operations immediately. Great White, Sand and Blue battle groups will begin in 48 hours. Good luck and good hunting.” “It has finally begun so we’re on the clock. Jump on my next signal.” Parliament Space Elevator Jeff and Marion stepped aboard the space elevator just as the “New People’s” wave of “terror attacks’ began. A small amount of methane in the Parliament Dome gave the entire city an odor like a leaking sewer. Frogs in the fountains and Evergreen crickets chirping would be a nuisance for months until it was all over and done with. Marion had spotted the one item that was not on their list: the fuel air bomb slowly filling the Parliament Building. That was an item Mason did not want his people to get credit for. Parliament Station Shuttle Landing Bay As soon as Agent Fields and his partner’s Red-Eye landed and shook hands with the local network, his notepad computer chirped with incoming messages. Out of habit he read the summaries and abruptly stopped at the user name Jeff Mason with the subject line Urgent! Task Force Hammerhead GC9882 The Task Force jumped into the fringe of the small globular cluster GC9882 two hours early. Located off the disk of the Milky Way and a little above, the view was stunning. As far as globular clusters go, GC9882 was tiny. It was so small that it was only discovered during the first scouting missions out into the Cygnus arm over a hundred and fifty years ago. It was just a convenient place to stash a resupply convoy which was orbiting a bloated gas giant fifteen light minutes out from a dim M class star. The maneuvering watch took over on the flag bridge for the next few hours the Task Force crept across the system to the rendezvous point and prepared to fill up their tanks with nice, clean refined fuel. Sokolsky stood at his station, stretched and headed off to the officer’s mess to get some food. When he arrived in the mess, Holloway and Rivers were already seated with a number of pilots. Rivers said, “I can’t believe that they brought the Port Royale all the way out here.” A senior pilot named Conway said, “They usually keep her around the Omicron Ceti corridor.” Much to his relief so he wouldn’t have to ask, as Sokolsky sat, a junior pilot asked, “What is the Port Royale?” Conway answered, “The Port Royale is a rebuilt liner that allows fleet officers and enlisted on deep deployment a twenty-four hour liberty port. I’ve been aboard her a few times at Omicron Ceti and she’s just amazing. It’s a huge ship and it has every sort of diversion: games, a casino, live entertainment and restaurants that are just plain astonishing.” Sokolsky asked, “Who will get to go?” Conway grinned and said, “I’m pretty sure a light Commander could get a pass. It’s already on the ship-wide net. If you aren’t on duty for the replenishment, anyone can go.” Tom grinned and said, “I’ve got to see that ship.” Parliament System Argus As soon as Marian and Jeff were aboard, the Argus was cleared for departure. The little freighter cleared the station, took a fast departure lane and jumped away as soon as they were clear of the systems gravity well. The happy couple and the returning covert operations teams were treated to a hero’s welcome and a small victory party in the passenger’s lounge. There was champagne and treats that had been purchased planet side. All in all, it was a good party. Even the perpetually dour Sebastian Beck looked pleased. He had a quiet word with Marian and said, “Good work. I believe your work for us is done. On our next jump we will put you on a shuttle with some money and you can rejoin your family.” Marion smiled and raised her glass to Beck. If it were true, she was done with this nightmare. If not, she knew how to play rough too. Across the room, Gary looked at his brother Jerry, raised an eyebrow and nodded toward Jeff Mason. Jerry looked out the corner of his eyes and saw it too. Jeff Mason did not look like a guy at a victory party. His demeanor was more appropriate to someone contemplating a terminal illness. Task Force Hammerhead GC9882 Anchorage Saratoga pulled alongside the fleet tanker Atlantic Traveler and spent an hour filling her tanks. As soon as she was done she pulled into a parking orbit with the other ships that had tanked up and began shuttling personnel for liberty over to the Port Royale. Sokolsky and Rivers flew over on the twelfth shuttle off and were stunned when they got a good look at the opulent liner. The old ship had been designed and built eighty years ago to take many thousands of colonists to their new homes in the core system worlds. Once that was no longer profitable, the old lady sat in a boneyard for several decades until a senior officer from the Phoenix colony remembered her from traveling aboard as a child. Port Royale was purchased for a song, given a major refit with modernized engines and fixtures and was run by a contractor that ran a line of hotels and casinos. She had spent most of the war serving as a liberty call in the Omicron Ceti slot. The Sokolsky equations, the new jump equations which were spreading to all Alliance shipping, had made her nimble enough to join the replenishment fleet that had been prepositioned way the hell and gone in a globular cluster four thousand light years from her usual haunts. As they followed the line to check in, Holloway intercepted them and handed them both a room card. Ten minutes later they were in a heated pool with a few hundred other sailors that just wanted to get wet. Parliament System Parliament Building Sub-basement Special Agent Fields watched as the last of the gas cylinders was removed from exactly the places that Jeff Mason had said they would be. Even the lot numbers, serial numbers and bar codes were right. His partner Max sighed and said, “Jesus Eric. When is the last time you got an e-mail from a mad bomber that told you exactly where the bombs were?’ Fields said, “Something hasn’t been right about this from the start. Mason’s psychological profile just isn’t right for anything as bloody as turning the Parliament Building into a fuel air explosive.” “Are you buying this conspiracy to flip the government with an engineered military disaster on the rim and high profile terrorism in the core worlds?” Fields looked down at the cylinder and said, “If this thing had gone off, it would have killed at least half of the elected government. It would have forced special elections.” Max finished his thought, “And after all that bad news, it would have certainly broken the ruling coalition. The pieces fit. Mason is a stalking horse for whoever this Bishop Kielor character is but, Mason isn’t on their team.” “I know exactly who Kielor is Max. I was a Marine during the ConFed war. He used to be a Colonel who retired in an intelligence billet a few years ago. He got an Alliance Cross when his company got shot up at the very end of the war. He is politically savvy and has powerful connects. If there is one guy in the Alliance with the access to pull all the strings to make this happen, it’s him.” Max shook his head and said, “This is huge Eric. I don’t even know where to start.” Fields said, “We start now. We’ve got to see the Director and then we’ve got to get to Thrace. Come on!” Task Force Hammerhead Port Royale GC9882 Anchorage After a nice afternoon of goofing off, Sokolsky's implant pinged with an incoming signal. TO: Daniel Sokolsky, Science Officer, Saratoga FROM: John Gant, XO, Canberra RE: Are you free for dinner? I think we need to talk. Danny sat straight up like he had taken an electric shock. Tom asked, “Are you all right?” Danny said, “Yeah. I think we’re about to get some answers. Sokolsky sent: TO: John Gant, XO, Canberra FROM: Daniel Sokolsky, Science Officer, Saratoga RE: Yes. Where and when? I want to bring two others. The reply came immediately. TO: Daniel Sokolsky, Science Officer, Saratoga FROM: John Gant, XO, Canberra RE: Sooner the better. Grisham’s. I’ll have a private dining room. Danny asked Rivers and Holloway, “Are you guys ready for an early dinner?” Both nodded. Holloway said, “I’m even hungrier for some answers.” They spent ten minutes getting ready for dinner, checked the ships directory and headed off for Grisham’s Steak House. They weren’t the only ones to have that idea. Grisham’s was packed and there was a line out the door. As they approached, a waiter saw their party and beckoned them in past the line. He ushered them in past the crowd into a private dining room. The usher opened the door and said, “Enjoy your steak gentlemen.” Sokolsky entered first and failed at concealing his shock. Around a large table there were a number of senior officers starting with a Lieutenant Commander and going up to Captain. Their resemblance to Sokolsky, Rivers or Holloway was striking. One of the men wearing the braid of an Executive Officer stood and said, “Welcome Lt. Commander Sokolsky, Lt. Rivers and Lt. Holloway. I’m Commander John Gant. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance and tonight you are going to get the answers you have quietly been looking for.” Danny took one of the empty chairs and the stunned Rivers and Holloway saluted. The most senior officer there, Captain Muller of the Fearless laughed and said, “I appreciate the courtesy gentlemen but, tonight we’re all just sailors. No rank in this mess.” As Holloway sat he asked, “So what is going on?” Captain Mueller said, “Most of what we’re going to tell you is not common knowledge. I suggest that you be discrete with this as there are people out there that hate and detest us on general principles. It’s a bit of a long story that goes back to before the Genome Protection Act when it was legal in much of the Alliance for parents to have their children genegineered. I was one of the first generation of a line of people designed by a very talented geneticist named Ava Bruckner. As a matter of fact, I grew up knowing her. She followed the first generation for years to make sure everything was working.” Gant continued the story, “Dr. Bruckner was a genius. She wasn’t one of those hacks making intentionally low IQ workers or sex slaves for brothels that so disgusted and enraged the Alliance’s idealists. Her whole intention was to create people who would be gifted enough to face the challenges that humanity would face as we spread out in the galaxy.” Mueller picked up the story, “You’ll notice that we’re all older than you. We were born before the Genome Protection Act was passed. We’re ‘legals’ and aren’t forced to jump through all the hoops that you younger people have.” Sokolsky said, “And we’re illegals because we were born after.” Holloway growled, “The tattoos, the registration with the Bureau of Genome Integrity— all of that shit because we were born after something we had nothing to do with.” Gant nodded solemnly. Mueller said, “All of that is unfortunate and reactionary on the part of grandstanding politicians but you need to know the truth. Bruckner created twelve designs. Alphas and Betas were prototypes and were only simulations, but the next ten designs were gamma through mu. Commander Gant, I and you three are all thetas. Lt. West is an iota. The designs aren’t supermen but we have advantages. We are rarely ever sick, we heal quickly when injured and tend to be highly intelligent. We are free of any inherited disorders.” Sokolsky said, “Have you noticed how many of us are in this fleet?” Mueller shook his head. Danny said, “As I pretty much own the Saratoga’s computer, I did a database search on all personnel that have non-unique genome id numbers. There are literally hundreds of us in the fleet.” Mueller gave Gant a look and said, “Do you know about the Geminis? They’re all Marines.” Sokolsky said, “No, I’m not familiar with that term.” Gant said, “It goes back to the ConFed War. The Corporations were trying to create super soldiers. Everything they tried didn’t work until they grew them as twins and raised them from childhood. The ConFeds called them Gemini soldiers. They got what they were looking for. The Geminis have grown up to be outstanding soldiers but they were just children when the Alliance Marines liberated them. It turned out to be a very lucky match. The Alliance Marines that liberated the kids ended up adopting most of them and almost all of them eventually joined the Corps. There has got to be a lot of them on the transports.” Sokolsky said, “Most of them are Marines but there are ten other groups that have identical genome id codes. I think I have an idea why this is.” “Admiral Tanaka had me do some threat analysis and projection of what we’re jumping into. There are two different sets of numbers furnished by the Ministry of Defense and Fleet Intelligence. Both of those sets of numbers are much too low. The Ministry numbers are short by a factor of at least ten.” Everyone around the table turned pale. Sokolsky said, “I believe that this situation has been created with the intention of creating a military disaster for political purposes but it’s going to backfire. We’re going to kick their ass.”
  11. jamessavik

    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

    Rand isn't for everybody. I've heard way too many people criticize her work that have obviously never read it. One thing that she is about that most everyone can appreciate and that's thinking for yourself.
  12. Chapter 16 of Operation Hammerhead has been queued to publish Saturday night. Set condition 1 and prepare to jump.

    starcarrier.jpg

  13. jamessavik

    LolCats

  14. That feeling you get when you catch your cat drinking out of your glass... and you know its not the first time.  😺

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. jamessavik

      jamessavik

      Apparently- if I like it, he's gonna try it

    3. drpaladin

      drpaladin

      Travel mug. Problem solved.

    4. clochette

      clochette

      I feel you, Loopings favorite is grape juice closely followed by multi fruits juice and Minion likes to drink the end of moms bowl of latte...

  15. jamessavik

    Astronomy

    Star Creation --"May Not Be the Same Everywhere in the Milky Way" April 30, 2018 The mass distribution of young stars may not be the same everywhere in our Galaxy, contrary to what is currently assumed. If this turns out to be the case, the scientific community will be forced to re-examine its calculations about star formation and, eventually, any estimates that depend on the number of massive stars, such as the chemical enrichment of the interstellar medium, and the numbers of black holes and supernovas. In space, hidden behind the dusty veils of nebulae, clouds of gas clump together and collapse, forming the structures from which stars are born: star-forming cores. These cluster together, accumulate matter and fragment, eventually giving rise to a cluster of young stars of various masses, whose distribution was described by Edwin Salpeter as an astrophysical law in 1955. Astronomers had already noticed that the ratio of massive objects to non-massive objects was the same in clusters of star-forming cores as in clusters of newly-formed stars. This suggested that the mass distribution of stars at birth, known as the IMF1, was simply the result of the mass distribution of the cores from which they formed, known as the CMF2. However, this conclusion resulted from the study of the molecular clouds closest to our Solar System, which are not very dense and therefore not very representative of the diversity of such clouds in the Galaxy. Is the relationship between the CMF and the IMF universal? What do we observe when we look at denser, more distant clouds? These were the questions asked by researchers at the Grenoble Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics and the Astrophysics, Instrumentation and Modelling Laboratory, when they started to observe the active star-formation region W43-MM1, whose structure is far more typical of molecular clouds in our Galaxy than those observed previously. Thanks to the unprecedented sensitivity and spatial resolution of the ALMA antenna array in Chile, the researchers were able to establish a statistically robust core distribution over an unmatched range of masses, from solar-type stars to stars 100 times more massive. To their surprise, the distribution did not obey Salpeter's 1955 law. It turned out that, in the W43-MM1 cloud, there was an overabundance of massive cores, while less massive cores were under-represented. These findings call into question not only the relationship between the CMF and the IMF, but even the supposedly universal nature of the IMF. The teams will continue their work with ALMA within a consortium of around forty researchers. Their aim is to study 15 regions similar to W43-MM1 in order to compare their CMFs and ascertain whether the characteristics of this cloud can be generalized. NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, captured the image at the top of the page of a star-forming cloud of dust and gas located in the constellation of Monoceros. The nebula, commonly referred to as Sh2-284, is relatively isolated at the very end of an outer spiral arm of our Milky Way galaxy. In the night sky, it's located in the opposite direction from the center of the Milky Way. Perhaps the most interesting features in Sh2-284 are what astronomer call "elephant trunks." Elephant trunks are monstrous pillars of dense gas and dust. The most famous examples of are the "Pillars of Creation," found in an iconic image of the Eagle nebula from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. In this WISE image, the trunks are seen as small columns of gas stretching towards the center of the void in Sh2-284, like little green fingers with yellow fingernails. The most notable one can be seen on the right side of the void at about the 3 o'clock position. It appears as a closed hand with a finger pointing towards the center of the void. That elephant trunk is about 7 light-years long. Deep inside Sh2-284 resides an open star cluster, called Dolidze 25, which is emitting vast amounts of radiation in all directions, along with stellar winds. These stellar winds and radiation are clearing out a cavern inside the surrounding gas and dust, creating the void seen in the center. The bright green wall surrounding the cavern shows how far out the gas has been eroded However, some sections of the original gas cloud were much denser than others, and they were able to resist the erosive power of the radiation and stellar winds. These pockets of dense gas remained and protected the gas "downwind" from them, leaving behind the elephant trunks. These pillars can also be thought of as rising like stalagmites from the cavern walls. The Daily Galaxy via Grenoble Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics (CNRS/Université Grenoble Alpes) ___________________________________________________ Not really a huge surprise of a discovery. Stars form differently in different regions. This is known from observation. Different types of stars form under different conditions.
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