Ghosts of the past

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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Tue Jan 13, 2015 10:45 pm

Okay, from reading the story, I see I will have to clarify a few things. The main character was named Vico-Ka, the lone survivor of a doomed race of extra-dimensional beings. She lived on a floating island that appeared out of nowhere very early on in the game. The island is where this story takes place. The character Vic-Ka was actually the spiritual geist of a girl simply named Vico. The ghostie Vico-Ka had the power to entangle beings in tendrils of raw spiritual power. That's why she refers to her physical self as another being entirely. Teresa was the name of my character's DNPC.

I think this is one of the better stories I wrote back in the day. I mean it suffers from the same bad grammar and punctuation errors my other stories have in spades. But I do enjoy the rambling relaxed narration.

ME wrote:Their names and deeds are faint, but familiar with the passing of time. Let me think, there was Compact, a man at war with his own capacity for extreme violence in some cases balanced by a greater need for looking after others who suffer. After him came an unfortunate case, Norander, a traveling brush merchant and light swordsman. I confess I never did know much about him other than that he was constantly in a state of needing money. Next came Arc, a human made in the half image of metal, whose quirks orgininated from a combination of the two, but remained a brave dashing soul to the end. Nighthawk, he like Norander never revealed his inner workings to me, yet his silver toungue and quick demenor were always the first to enter frays of discordance. Blast was a man difficult to forget: dressed in home spun suit of bluish crystal, his family were his greatest treasures, that is until the organazation Viper destroyed them and scarred his heart for all time with the ravages of pain and vengance. Lastly, Megan, a female mentalist, appeared concerned with living fast and on the edge, yet in many instances she proved the prime support to which the others clung in times of greatest need.

Wow. Even though this campaign was short lived, I can still vaguely remember who played who.

I remember the Compact because he was the character I played. He had the power of eating weapons and being able to summon them from his body for future use.

Marc's character Norander I remember well. He played a brush salesman who happened to be a psychotic Jedi knight who killed innocent creatures just for the fun of it.

Nighthawk I think was Adam Nieman's character although I don't remember much about him other than his hunted was a dude with the ability to create tornadoes.

Blast is the character Joe played. Of all the characters in this game, I remember him the best simply because he had the most quirks. He played a normal guy who had a energy blast attack and could fly at ridiculously slow speeds. And he wore a homemade blue costume that his wife made for him. He was just a regular guy who wanted to make a difference. And he was hilarious to play with.

And I think I've covered most of the missing exposition from the story. If I need to clarify anything else, let me know.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:18 pm

Arc? Megan?
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Thu Jan 15, 2015 3:15 pm

Arc? Megan?

Nighthawk I think was Adam Nieman's character although I don't remember much about him other than his hunted was a dude with the ability to create tornadoes.


You know, in thinking about, I made a tiny error. Nighthawk was the character played by Jake Jackson, not Adam Nieman. He was your classic ninja with the ability to throw stars and do killing attack damage with a sword.

Adam's character was Arc, the one with the crazy tornado summoner as his arch nemesis. For the life of me, I can't recall what his character did, which means he probably did very little to impact the story. Big surprise, eh?

And I completely forgot about Megan. She was played by Tom. Tom brought her into the game primarily as PR to cover up the fact that our characters were running rampant through the city causing massive amounts of needless mayhem. At one point, we got it into our heads to blow up a plane because a few of the villains were roughly near it. That little stunt got us a trial for destroying public property. What would a group of heroes need in such an instance? Why, a beautiful mentalist with mountains of comeliness and mental powers to sway the authorities that be. I tell you, we really were the royalty of that city.

And there. With that little addendum, I believe I've ironed over all the wrinkles in the fabric. Until the next time super fiends. Until the next time.

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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Wed Mar 11, 2015 9:50 pm

From Eric's futuristic magic dystopian setting:

***********************************************************************
****THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE IS ENCRYPTED WITH PROTOCOL 171.84****



July 8, 2063

Dear Grandpa,

Well, things are getting stranger just as I thought they were going to start to get
normal. It seems like I'm dealing with some very odd people. We'll see how well I fit in.

Everything went well on the ship with the slavers. Like I told you last time we
kinda beat the crap out of them. So we found all the slaves and released them. We
searched the ship, but didn't really find anything interesting.

However, we did find something rather odd among the slaves. One of the slave
women had magical armor, magical boots, a magical ring, and talked like she was an
Indian shaman who was on a bit too much peyote. It was like everything she said was the
answer to the universe, or at least her own universe. Stix, one of my mage companions,
looked at her aura, and it was as if she were two people. He was going to cast a spell on
her to see what was going on with her, but figured out that she had a couple of knives. He
teleported one of them away from her, and it all went down hill from there. She pulled
out her other knife and stabbed him in the hand. That's when I opened fire. I was only a
couple yards away, but I completely missed! There was obviously something magical
going on. I dropped my useless rifle and whipped out my shortsword. By that time a
couple of my other companions had gotten there (Kye and Bogart) and subdued her. She
wasn't dropping her weapons though, and I didn't want to grab them and get cut, so I tried
stabbing her in the leg. That didn't work because of her armor, so I was going to stab her
in the hand, but Stix canceled her missile shield spell and so I shot her in the leg instead.
Then things went from bad to worse. I felt a growing apprehension, like something was
wrong. I looked out the boat, and flying at us at probably 100 miles an hour was some
crazy guy holding some crazy fireball. He was pissed. The girl had already mentioned her
brother, so I assumed it must be him. I took some cover behind a wall and got ready to
fire. I figured it probably wouldn't work, just like shooting the girl didn't help much, but
what else could I do besides run away? I held my fire, and we had a mini dialog, me
asking him who he was and him asking why I shot his sister. I didn't feel like I had to
make any excuses to this psycho, and he didn't feel like explaining himself, so the
conversation was kind of pointless. At any rate, his sister disappeared (literally), and he
left. So that was the end of that saga.

We stayed there that night, watching out for any friends the slavers might have. In
the morning, we hanged the bodies of the slavers over the side as a warning for all those
who were thinking of going into the slaving business, brought all the ex-slaves to shore,
and burned the tug. It was great fun.

We had found the last clue on the ship. It was another mathematical puzzle that
we were able to figure out. I guess this group that I'm joining doesn't want loser potheads
with no math skills. The chip had a citation in Latin on it. We hopped on the ethernet and
translated it. It turned out to be a passage from the New Testament. You would have
enjoyed that, I'm sure. It didn't really have any religious significance though, as the
passage alluded to a certain place in town. We went there and found the people we were
looking for. They are a strange lot to be sure, but they offered me a beer first thing, so that
can't be all bad, right?

I guess maybe the problem is that I didn't know what to expect, but I'm not sure
what to think of these guys. They don't appear to have much in the way of a strong leader,
and it seems that everyone has his own idea of how things should be done. Nonetheless, I
think that the time has come for humanity as a whole to understand that the best thing for
all would be a representative government that protects everyone equally, instead of
corporations who look out for their own needs and the needs of their executives. You
seem to have lost hope that the people of this world will every have the courage to throw
off the shackles of this corpocracy, and I think that you may be right. However, if future
generations are to enjoy the fruits that freedom alone can purchase, I will be proud indeed
if I am one of those who will replant the seeds of democracy.

David Austin III

P.S. Because I know you'll ask if I don't mention it now, yes, I killed the slaver we took
prisoner. I questioned him for a bit, but either he didn't know anything useful or he was
lying, so I consulted with everyone and shot him close range with my .45.

P.P.S. Yes, I use the .45 and not the “evil 9 mm which was invented by the Nazis”, as you
say. However, I looked into the history of it a bit and found out that the 9 mm was
invented long before there were any Nazis.

**********************END OF ENCRYPTED MESSAGE********************
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Thu Mar 12, 2015 9:57 pm

If memory serves, this must have been the second or third game we played in that particular future campaign. That would be when I played the first character who didn't work out. He had some pretty good social skills and advantages, but in gameplay he failed miserably, so I let him go in place of Sergei the sniper.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Mon Mar 16, 2015 9:08 pm

Yeah, the file name has it as the second game. I don't even remember your first character. Whoever he was, he was not nearly as entertaining as Sergei. Smile
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Mon Mar 16, 2015 9:14 pm

Here's the third entry.

***********************************************************************
****THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE IS ENCRYPTED WITH PROTOCOL 171.84****

August 14, 2063

Dear Grandpa,

After what has seemed like an interminable and intolerable lull, we have finally
gotten back into the action. Even though the action has been unfortunate for some in our
unit (including myself), men who carry lethal weapons for a living should expect
misfortune from time to time.

You'll remember that the last time I wrote you I had just found the society I had
been looking for. After that I spent a horrible month doing absolutely nothing. They had
me run some small errands and do simple tasks like that, but little that actively furthered
the cause. Any advancement I did was done on my own.

The event that started this whole situation occurred about a week and a half ago.
Kye, one of the members of the group, had been on a short mission for the society.
During the mission one of the other members of the society (but not a member of the
unit) had killed someone. Kye didn't think that person deserved to die and was upset, so
he took us all out to dinner. (Mental note: get Kye angry more often.) After we had
finished eating we got a call from the leader of the society. He asked us to return
immediately. We quickly went to his place. Upon arrival, we saw an unconscious man
lying on the floor in one of the rooms. He had apparently appeared out of nowhere, as if
he had teleported. He was wearing a magical cloak, and I felt it wise to remove it and
hold him at gun point until we could ascertain his identity and purpose. However, no
sooner had we woken him than he disappeared. Another one of our companion, Ethereal
by name (I don't think that's the name his mother gave him), sees everything in slow
motion. He saw this person get up and walk out. Either he had slowed time down for
everyone else, or he had sped it up for himself. Either way, it certainly piqued our
interest, and we decided to investigate the matter further, not only from a tactical point of
view (how did this man get inside a secure area?), but also a magical point of view (how
did this man learn this magic? What kind of magic is it? How does this magic relate to
the cause?).

We found that the style of cloak worn was the same as the cloak worn by a woman
found in a system of caves outside of Mexico City. We have reason to believe that the
two are connected, so we decided to go down there and see if we could find a correlation.
There were a couple of difficulties that we might encounter. First, of course, is the
problem in the area with zombies and other undead creatures. I am intimately familiar
with what it would be like down there, and I did not look forward to going back. I
suggested an alternate plan to decide the identity of the man in the room, but I was
outvoted.

The second problem was that the caves had been taken over by a corporation, and
was a secure site. We were to find out that the entrance to the cave is very heavily
guarded.

I'll add a third problem we had that caused us no small difficulties. Some in the
group are less than forthcoming about their abilities.

We went to New Mexico via dirigible, and then to the site by a small convoy. I
had my dust bike, as did someone else, and Kye had his well equipped SUV. We arrived
at the site with no difficulties, although we did see enough undead on the way to remind
me of the events I have been involved in and how they relate to where we were going.
The entrance to the caves is located in a canyon. We didn't want to alert any
guards that might be at the site to our presence by driving directly there. We decided to
hide our vehicles and try to approach stealthily on foot. That would have been a good
plan had we not suffered an unlikely misfortune.

At first we were able to avoid all zombie contact, but after a couple of miles into
our hike we were forced to engage a few of them. We had the firepower to take them out
quickly, but the gunfire echoed throughout the canyon and attracted more undead to our
position.

We desired a vantage point where we could easily defend ourselves. We found a
rocky hill that would provide us with all the defense we would need. One of us would
climb to the top with a rope, tie it to something, and the rest of us would follow. A simple
plan, had our expert climber not fallen the better part of 25 yards, just as he was reaching
the top. He was severely injured. We performed the best first aid on him best we could,
and he had recovered enough to be able to stumble along. Had he been non ambulatory, it
could have been the death of all of us, because just as he was coming to we were beset by
more zombies. Our vantage point had become a trap, as at the bottom of cliff there was a
corner that restricted our visibility to only a few yards.

We retreated from the area to our vehicles, but we didn't get back there completely
safely. While on the way I felt a coldness in my soul that was uncomfortably familiar. I
knew what we would soon be up against, and so I switched to full auto. Around the bend
came a skull spirit, quick as always. I opened up, but most of my shots went wild, and
before my magazine was empty it was on me. It struck me, ripping me open inside
without leaving a mark. Fortunately for me, Stix had a magical spell ready and nailed the
spirit into its next afterlife. I wasn't injured too badly, and we were able to make it back to
the vehicles to recover.

Once there, Stix mentioned that not only could he fly, but he could also turn
invisible. So, in a matter of a few minutes he had invisibly reconnoitered the entrance.
Obviously, had he let us know his abilities beforehand, we could have avoided injuries in
the unit. Be that as it may, he found out that the entrance to the cave is guarded by two
automats, and there are at least two humans there as well.

For now, we will sit and recover for a few minutes, and then decide what it is we
will do next. I'll let you know how it goes.

David Austin III

**********************END OF ENCRYPTED MESSAGE********************
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:47 pm

At first we were able to avoid all zombie contact

WALKERS!!!!

Oh, wait. We're super bad ass warriors and wizards with access to awesome guns and magical firepower. This zombie invasion doesn't appear to be all that bad.

Anyone know the number of a local necromancer we could call?
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Thu Mar 19, 2015 11:44 pm

It takes a lot of zombies to pose a serious danger to a group of heavily armed special operators. As in "Damn I've shot so many of them I'm almost out of ammo". And (if I recall) Dave carried 300 rounds for his M60 and another couple hundred rounds for his M14. That would have left a pile of zombie corpses, but after that all he had was his short sword...
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Thu Mar 19, 2015 11:55 pm

Here's the picture I used for David Austin III:





And here's the picture Eric used for David, the crazy spider man creature that was our leader:


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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:46 pm

Here is a bio for a character written for a high seas game Adam Nieman never actually ran. (Yeah, I know. Big surprise, eh?) If you have any knowledge of old swashbuckling tales, this story is copied directly from the plotline of Captain Blood starring legendary action actor Errol Flynn.

Dameon Blood, son the of the noble family which bears the same name, shares the violent fate the name conjures, a name as tragic as the tale called his life. Born to a family known for their medical prowess in terms of the field and a latent talent to magically heal the sick to their feet. Intent upon this career from the time of his childhood, young Dameon soon turned into a man assuming the practice of his father in the capital city of the empire.
One fateful night however he was awakened by a woman desperate for his aid. Accepting as his profession and place as a gentleman required, he donned his cloak, grabbed his medical supplies, and followed the woman into the streets of the night. After running through the dark passages of town she lead him to a small home in the which there lay a older man and a younger one both severely wounded and on the brink of death. The woman explained that the two persons were her husband and only son. They had been wounded in a bar fight and now stood on the brink of death.
Moved by her devotion the young surgeon began making ready for the operation. Before he could begin though, the front door of the small house burst open from the outside admitting inside the guard of the town. Once they secured the room their captain moved to the tables where the wounded lay and after a quick examination proclaimed them as part of a rebel group which had scuffled with their number a few hours earlier. When they learned of Dameon’s involvement, in spite of the fact that he had no idea who they were except that they needed medical treatment, he was accused as an accomplice and was arrested on the spot as a traitor to the government. His stay in the dungeon and subsequent trial found him guilty on all counts and the once prosperous doctor found himself rotting in the hull of a slave ship headed towards the colonies in the far tropical islands of the empire.
Thusly the innocent began a tumultuous life of pain and hard labor under the landlord and governor of the isle, Senior Mobius Alvarez, an unkind taskmaster in every shape and description. His ordeal lasted for several months. One night during a party, the master while entertaining his guests became unnecessarily cruel to one of the female servants for tipping over a tray of expensive wines. Unable to defend herself the poor woman was soon lost under the deadly cane strokes and would have died had not Dameon still aware of his noble status, confronted the master and stuck him a blow that landed him to his feet. Angered at being hit by one of his lowly peons, the Mobius summoned his guard and seized poor slave down below into the main courtyard to be whipped mercilessly and left to rot until morning where he would be executed in that self same spot by the master of the house himself.
That night all seemed lost for young Blood, but fortune had not completely gone from the man’s grasp. Just as his back lay naked to the whip’s unforgiving punishment a blast shook the ground and knocked everyone around in confusion. Looking they noticed the focus of the disturbance was a breach which had just been made the island’s main fortress, an attack made by a group of pirates, the roaming sharks of the sea! Sneaking a small number of men onto the island without being detected, the band had planted enough explosives to cripple fortress wall, allowing the buccaneers free access to the few standing guards while the main fleet of ships took the opportunity to enter the fray and blast the remaining walls to dust. The fortress soon fell and with it the morale of the soldier’s who protected it. Fearing the new threat Dameon’s punishers disappeared leaving him alone.
He hung in silence for a moment until he heard the sound of ropes being cut. Gazing up he looked into the face of a fellow slave who hatched a plan. He and his boys were once pirates as well until they had been captured and put to hard labor under their Lord, but in the confusion and celebration that was about to be had, it was his intention to sneak by stealth and take one of the pirate frigates and sail her into the open waters and freedom, a request which Dameon accepted. So rounding up a many as were willing to risk a break for freedom, the slave gathered up the weapons of the dead as they went and slowly crept into the harbor, stole a group of small fishing boats and made their way into the open harbor. Due to present affairs the main body of the pirates were in the process of looting and celebrating their victory in the town, leaving their vessels undermanned and easily targetable. Thusly the salty tars boarded the ship, overpowered their guards, and set sails to the open seas and freedom from oppression, freedom to plunder the seas once more.
Although impressed with the men’s courage Dameon could not bring himself to join the crew of the ship as his loyalties still lay with the government of the land that had sold him into this life of misery. So after many days at sea, the stolen vessel put into a port and there the young doctor bade good-bye to his pirate comrades in search of his own life to set it to rights as it once was.


Doctor Dameon Blood stands at medium height with slim though tough features. His face is slightly rounded at the chin, gaunt though noble cheekbones, piercing gray eyes, and a head of blond hair parted down the middle and ending at the shoulders. He usually dresses in the attire of a wanderer and often sells his services as a surgeon to gain passage onto boats to get him from one port to the next, yet his training as a noble has left him with a number of other helpful skills such as boxing, swordsmanship, and few other nautical skills picked up in his new life as man on the run by sea. He is currently a renegade and wanted from his own country and is wanted for death by Senior Alvarez for personal reasons explained above. Due to his dangerous nature he usually wanders under assumed names so as not arouse the suspicions of those around him, except for those few he can trust. He is currently wandering attempting to make a name for himself in the service of his countrymen in an attempt to clear his name with his beloved government so that he may return to them and live the peaceful life of a doctor.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:48 pm

And (if I recall) Dave carried 300 rounds for his M60 and another couple hundred rounds for his M14. That would have left a pile of zombie corpses, but after that all he had was his short sword...

That's it? I calculate that if entirely expended, that amount of firepower could easily translate into a mountain of zombie corpses. I think he can handle himself.


Last edited by The Son of Dior on Sat Mar 21, 2015 2:07 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Sat Mar 21, 2015 2:06 pm

Thusly the innocent began a tumultuous life of pain and hard labor under the landlord and governor of the isle, Senior Mobius Alvarez

Ah, yes. I'm aware of Senor Mobius. Didn't he once say something like:

"Vives en el mundo de suenos, Neo." O algo asi.


Last edited by The Son of Dior on Mon Mar 30, 2015 5:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Sat Mar 28, 2015 11:07 pm

The Son of Dior wrote:That's it? I calculate that if entirely expended, that amount of firepower could easily translate into a mountain of zombie corpses. I think he can handle himself.

I forgot the .45 rounds. But I don't think he carried more than 50 or so of those.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Sat Mar 28, 2015 11:10 pm

The Son of Dior wrote:Ah, yes. I aware of Senor Mobius. Didn't he once say something like:

"Vives en el mundo de suenos, Neo." O algo asi.



Interesting story. I've never seen Captain Blood.


And when I read of Mobius, I thought of this:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%B6bius_strip


I have always been fascinated by this object, and wondered how a three dimensional shape that has only one edge and one side can literally and quite easily exist in our Euclidean universe.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Fri Dec 18, 2015 5:25 pm

Far too much time passes since someone last posted here. I am going to post a few more of our stories from games long since entombed to give the ghosts of those games a chance to speak from the dust.

And if anyone else out there besides Jon and myself have anything they may want to contribute, please do so. (Please, please do so) And now...for something completely different. A space bum with three buttocks.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Fri Dec 18, 2015 5:26 pm

The Ballad of "Dusty" Dexter Mars
Written and performed by the same



Listen children of stars that gleam
To stories of dusty boots
That walk the lanes of spacers
Oh there are tales of daring and stories of might
Of empires so strong, they're fragile
They tumble down and crumble to dust
And when the smoke clears
And when the dust clears
When we can see dark space again
It's the drifter left standing
Wait'n for another ride

He was born to test tube parents of Travail
His mom or dad were lab coats
Brought up in controlled isolation
His destiny so sure
They planned for him and so many others
To replace the dead
Burned by Imperial ships
Eclipsed behind the fury of suns

(Chorus)Oh there are tales of daring and stories of might
Of empires so strong, they're fragile
They tumble down and crumble to dust
And when the smoke clears
And when the dust clears
When we can see dark space again
It's the drifter left standing
Wait'n for another ride

At 18, a ward of the state no longer
He was drawn into conflict
Petty squabbles of the stars
The talking heads beguiled him
Into wearing a soldier's coat
And go to the moon Malvina
For 10 days he fought and won
On the 11th there came more enemies, Imperial allies
Outnumbered, outgunned, he fought on
He fought until his friends were gone
Then starved and broken they dug him up
And dumping his remains in detention
The war ended
The fighters retreated to their corners
And he was left without a pension or a penny
And on he goes

(Chorus)

On Vallis he knocked the door
Of a traveling show of actors
They brought him in
As one of their own
And taught him the craft of thespians
He performed with them
Awash in lights and cardboard
Then the curtain fell
Their manager gambled and lost
And their curtain fell
But parting ways, he left with a flourish
And song to cure his pains
And on he goes

(Chorus)

On Rehaboam's Run
He earned a belt
Mining metals and minerals
On barren rocks adrift as himself
Thinking he found his trade
They struck the motherlode
And to secure it
They struck for their rights
And were replaced every one
And on he goes

(Chorus)

In a Vargr steakhouse
He bussed and cooked
And peddled tourist junk
To slathering stares and bar room brawls
He stayed through it all
But then a health inspection barred the doors
An effect for a cause
For a co-worker poisoning
Their rival clan's ambassador
And on he goes

(Chorus)

Short on credits
And starved on the road
He fell in with a carnival
Reading palms and entertaining drink
Until the night under the table
The result of a hard won gamblers duel
He awoke to find his pockets turned
His circus friends had packed and gone
Alone the circle turned
And on he goes

(Chorus)












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Better Quell Jorel

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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Fri Dec 18, 2015 5:43 pm

What did I think of that? It certainly counts as one of my more ambitious origin stories. Make a song out of a character's past instead of a two-paged journal affair like with so my other characters. As of present, I did enjoy the invoked images of the song, but I felt most of the lyrics were clunky. The words may have stood well as prose, but they lacked the rhythm quality lyrics rely on. I guess the words may have worked if the performer took the approach of sing speaking the whole affair. From a rhythmic standpoint, I think I did a better job at writing that goblin chant for Jon's most recent Middle Earth game. That's a bunch of words you could easily make music for.

I did enjoy creating this character concept; it may in fact be something I'll return to one day in the future. Only this time, the space bum will just be a guy fallen on hard times trying to redeem himself rather than being content with a -5 social stigma that everyone treats as a -40 curse disadvantage.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:35 am

CHAPTER 0  –  Flight to Saurus



Nearly microscopic interplanetary dust, rippling with the solar wind, swirled through the vacuum of empty space, accompanied only by the occasional loose hydrogen atoms. Several hundreds of thousands of miles away, floating through equally empty space, a blue and green planet hung suspended by the invisible tether of the gravity field of its distant sun. The distant stars shone with their melancholy, steady light.

And then local spacetime changed. The light from the stars wobbled and wavered, as if seen through the clear diffraction of a still pool suddenly disturbed by an errant pebble. A man-made object – a starship – that was not there, suddenly was. An improbable inverted tear drop craft, it could barely be seen in the illumination of the system's sun. It was not an impressive ship by any standards. Made of mottled grey steel and blackened by the extreme environment of extraplanetary space, its red stenciling in block capital letters proclaimed it to be the IISS ALBERT PIKE. The ship began to drift slowly towards the planet, carried partially by its own residual inertia, and partly by the planet's gravity well already tugging at the ship's mass.

Aboard the ship, a man stood in front of the mirror in the state room fresher. He took a puff of his thick cigar, set it down in the ashtray, and continued to comb his dark brown hair. When he finished, he put on an Australian style cowboy hat with one brim rolled up. He was impeccably clothed in the dress uniform of the IISS Communications Office – Express Boat Service. His moustache was neatly trimmed, his shirt buttons perfectly aligned, and his dress boots shined. Bach's Brandenburg Concerto played softly in the background.

Casey Duquette, as the man was named, took his job seriously. Grievously wounded in a previous encounter, he had left the IISS Special Security Services to allow his spine to heal. Taking the job of an X-Boat pilot seemed natural. It was usually a fairly simple job, without a great deal of danger or surprises.

Casey had elected to take a route off of the normal X-Boat pathways. He enjoyed delivering news, electronic mail, and other data to the far flung and widely scattered systems of the Imperium. His might be the only official Imperial visit one of these outer systems received in six months or more. Often his arrival would be a major event, and he was usually greeted by members of the press, political dignitaries, prominent religious figures, academic leaders, and so on.

Casey didn't mind. He had never sought the limelight, and although he had a clear idea that not all things were well in the Imperium, he knew very well that he served as an unofficial ambassador of the Imperium to these oft ignored systems. He carried with him a gift for every system's leader: a bottle of fine whisky and a box of the best cigars – which was only fitting as he was a frequent guest editor of Barley and Leaf, an almost unknown magazine with virtually no circulation.

Taking his unfinished cigar with him, Casey walked back to the bridge, which was designed to be operated by one man. He sat at the console and brought to life the glowing translucent holograph displays.

Standard protocol for an X-Boat entering a system would be for the Jump Boat Tender – a specifically designed craft -  to approach the X-Boat, exchange data, refuel and resupply, and the X-Boat would be on its way again. The standard X-Boat didn't even have a maneuver drive; it simply didn't need one. However, because of the lack of complex infrastructure on most of the backwater planets that Casey had chosen to visit, his ship had been retrofitted with such a drive, at the expense of one of the state rooms and some electronic storage capacity.

Casey wasn't quite sure what to expect in this system; the data manifest seemed to not have been updated in several years. He might be met by a supply/communications ship, he might have to go into planetary orbit and refuel at an orbital station, or the locals might refit him using ancient rocket powered space vehicles while he waited in orbit.

Not having received a signal from any waiting ship after he had jumped into the system, Casey began to scan the area with both his PESA and AESA. His transponder was already on. Waiting for a response was nothing unusual. Although he had a window of time in which he was expected, he had no firm day or time for arrival, and it would be unlikely that the awaiting system would keep a ship on standby.

Monitoring the PESA scanners, Casey noticed a faint glimmer of infrared radiation against the galactic background. He zoomed in on the hit, and magnified. The outline of a red glow could barely be seen in the blackness, but it was there, and it was definitely a ship. Casey vectored his AESA to ping that heading with laser and radar, and got an almost immediate response. About a half light-second away, a large vessel cruised on a heading towards Saurus. It was quickly decelerating, which meant that it must have come from further out in the system. As it had no active transponder, Casey matched the received data with his on board database. His computer told him that he was looking at one of the Darisshii class Heavy Interdiction Cruisers, a modified battle cruiser designed for the IISS to be used in interdicted Red Zones. According to the database, this ship was The Forge. Casey thought that that was interesting. He hadn't expected a fighting ship in the area, and if the system was being interdicted he would be among the first to know. Casey wondered if there was trouble in this or a neighboring star system.

Casey decided that it didn't matter. He felt strangely apprehensive about the situation, but he talked himself out of taking any cautious measures. After all, he was in an Imperial system, piloting an IISS Express Boat, and the other ship was also obviously IISS. At any rate, the ship already had noticed his AESA scan, and was changing vectors to an intercept course. Perhaps this was his resupply vessel? Casey opened a comm channel.

“This is IISS Express Bout Albert Pike, calling IISS Forge. I have entered the Saurus system, and am waiting for data exchange instructions, over.”

Casey still didn't think that this was his resupply boat, but at least this ship could probably tell him where he needed to go to find it. Casey waited for an answer from the warship. He didn't wait long, but it wasn't the response he was expecting.

A half dozen red warning lights flashed on his sensor panel. This ship was firing at him! A pulse of ultraviolet laser crossed the void between the two spacecraft. Another red emergency indicator light meant that one of them had struck his ship. This was the targeting laser, pinpointing his location more exactly than this warship's radar had been able to. The next burst of laser would be from the ships main guns. At this range, he would likely be slightly out of their weapons' maximum effective range, but it would still only take a few direct hits to mortally wound the lightly armored Express Boat.

Casey changed the configuration of his ship console from Navigation/Communication to Emergency Combat Operation. Normally in combat stealth was an advantage; however, an Express Boat was anything but stealthy, and at any rate the other craft had already spotted him. Casey hit his emergency beacon transponder. Saurus was only a few light seconds away, and provided they had any sort of electromagnetic communication capability, they should be able to receive his signal.

Casey put his X-Boat's reactor at full power output, plotted a course to Saurus, and initiated evasive maneuvering. He had seen space combat during the brief but bloody Sarpedon Incursion, but in that conflict he had piloted a cutting edge Rampart Class fighter interceptor. However, trying to evade laser cannon fire from a Darisshii class vessel in an Express boat was like trying to leap barrels while riding a giant, over-caffeinated snail.

Still, his maneuvering worked. His sensors picked up plasma trails passing both above him and below him as the laser beams superheated the interplanetary dust to millions of degrees. Like fingers tens of thousands of miles long they reached towards the little boat. Casey quickly changed vectors and passed out of the path of the plasma trail.

Casey sighed. That was a lucky shot on their part. Still, the battle wasn't over; he had only survived the first volley. Now the warship would have to wait until its battery of capacitors recharged for the next shots. Casey didn't wait, and he sprung into action.

First was survivability. Getting up from the flight deck, he rushed to the ship's locker and pulled out his vacc suit, climbing into it in record time. As Casey returned to the bridge he attached his air hose to his suit and then punched in a command on his computer's terminal to quickly vent the air in the craft to the empty vacuum of space. If – and when, Casey had no doubt – he did get hit by laser fire, if his craft was still pressurized he would risk an explosive decompression. Instead, an already decompressed ship would merely get holes poked into it.

That done, Casey tried to establish communication with the enemy vessel. They had made no course correction commands, no demands for surrender, nothing. Their intentions seemed fairly clear to him: they were going to destroy him, no muss, no fuss. Nevertheless, Casey opened all emergency channels and hailed the ship.

“This is the IISS Express Boat Albert Pike, Delta Two Five Seven Niner Fox Tango. This is an official Imperial Scout Ship. Per Imperial law, an attack on an Imperial ship is an attack on the Imperium, and is considered an act of war. Cease and desist your attack immediately, power down your weapons, and proceed to Saurus in a stable orbit.”

Although he meant every word of it, Casey knew his words were hollow. A 2000 dTon warship wasn't going to surrender to an unarmed X-Boat. It still seemed like the thing to do though, and it had the effect of legally placing him in the position of the aggrieved party.

His response was another targeting ping. This meant that their capacitor batteries had finished charging, and they were preparing to fire again. Casey again input an evasive action flight solution into his navigation computer, causing the Albert Pike to bob and fishtail wildly in space.

This time, however, Casey wasn't so lucky. His panel lit up with red lights once again, telling him that he had been hit. Casey brought up a holographic representation of the damage. Sensors indicated that one of the laser beams had struck the side of his ship in the area of the fuel tank. Luckily, his X-Boat could only carry enough fuel for one jump at a time, all of which he had already used up in the last jump. Were there any liquid hydrogen still in the tank, both Casey and his ship might now be nothing more than very small particulate matter, floating through the void of space.

Casey took a closer look at the damage. His hull had been punctured, but his ship had already been compartmentally sealed when he had gone on combat alert. The structural integrity of the Pike was still intact, but his AESA indicated that the enemy warship was now on an intercept course at maximum acceleration. They didn't plan on leaving him crippled and alone: they were going for the kill.

Casey recalculated his flight path towards Saurus, and redlined his reactor core's output. He knew that if he stayed in space, the enemy craft would slice him to pieces at their leisure. His only hope was to get to Saurus and lose himself in its obscuring mass.

On Casey's side were time and distance. If he had appeared out of jump space much closer to The Forge, things would already be over. However, because of the initial great distance between the two vessels, not only were the cruiser's weapons much less effective at this range, they were also much less accurate. Of the dozens of shots that had been fired, the few that had hit him were due mostly to luck. Nevertheless, The Forge had much greater acceleration than the Albert Pike, and every thousand kilometers that distance was shortened meant that the outcome of this encounter was more and more likely to end poorly for him.

Still, he knew his hope was a forlorn hope, even should he not be shot down. The Albert Pike had never been constructed to enter any kind of atmosphere. Any landing would be a crash landing, presuming that he wasn't disintegrated during reentry. If he managed to land at a shallow enough angle, the force of impact might be softened enough for him to survive, provided that his acceleration couch and artificial gravity dampers continued to work upon impact.

Casey began to work on another flight solution. He would approach the upper atmosphere at a parallel angle to a chord of the sphere's surface. The planet's gravity well would spin him around in a sharply decaying orbit, and he would be pulled down into the atmosphere, quickly losing speed. This would decrease his landing angle, and also give him more time in the atmosphere, slowing him down further by using his ship's hull as an airbrake.

This solved only half of the problem. As Casey programmed the flight path, the enemy vessel again locked onto him and fired. Casey again managed to maneuver out of the beams' paths. He didn't know how much luckier he could get, but as the planet began to loom large in his sensors, he figured that they would only be able to fire a few more dozen volleys.

Casey finished his final calculations for his flight path. He had chosen one that would likely crash land his ship near a settlement high in the mountains on the far side of the planet. His calculations had a margin of error of several dozen miles, but at least he would be secure knowing that he wasn't going to land in an ocean. He cut off all electromagnetic emissions, and entered the flight solution into the navigation computer.

Casey continued to take evasive action as he drew closer to Saurus. He successfully dodged a few attacks, but but by the time he had entered the planet's mesosphere, the hull of Deck Two – where the cargo hold – was breached and his jump drive was obliterated by a direct strike.

The Albert Pike was now in the outer atmosphere of Saurus, and began to tremble as it passed through the stratopause into the stratosphere. As the force of the atmospheric friction heated up the Pike's hull, more warning lights buzzed. Something was wrong. Somehow he was going too fast. His work panel vibrating in front of him, Casey brought up his flight schematics. He had calculated he would need another 5.4 minutes before he would hit the stratosphere and need to fully reverse his maneuver drive's acceleration to slow his descent.

His ship now beginning to shake violently, Casey looked at the vital statistics for Saurus. Damn! Casey thought, silently cursing himself. Damn! Damn! Damn! Damn!

Casey had neglected to take into account the planet's atmospheric density. When he had calculated his flight plan, the computer had used the default of one Terran Atmosphere. Looking at the planetary information, Casey saw that at sea level Saurus had an air density of 1.35 atmospheres of pressure.

The enemy ship completely forgotten, Casey hit full reverse engines. He didn't have time to recalculate, he needed to slow down now, otherwise he would skim through the top of the atmosphere, bouncing off of it and be flung into space, or he would careen towards the surface of the planet at such a velocity that the Pike would burn up completely in the planet's denser air.

Casey reached his hand forward to punch in the new data into his calculation. Despite the G damper, his ship was swaying so turbulently that his hand danced around the panel, unable to manipulate the correct keys.

Then it felt that he had struck a brick wall. The ship lurched forward, and Casey gasped as he slammed into the acceleration couch's restraining belts. Simultaneously his scanners ceased working, and all the lights and instruments in his cockpit went black. He must have hit the troposphere, and all of his external equipment must have been instantly destroyed. Casey saw his vacc suit's digital readout for his external thermometer out of the corner of his eye. It was quickly passing to the red zone.

There was one more lurch that was too much for Casey's acceleration couch. He struck the inside of the helmet of his vacc suit.

Casey remembered nothing more of his fateful flight to Saurus.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:59 am

Casey wrote:CHAPTER 0  –  Flight to Saurus



Nearly microscopic interplanetary dust, rippling with the solar wind, swirled through the vacuum of empty space, accompanied only by the occasional loose hydrogen atoms. Several hundreds of thousands of miles away, floating through equally empty space, a blue and green planet hung suspended by the invisible tether of the gravity field of its distant sun. The distant stars shone with their melancholy, steady light.

And then local spacetime changed. The light from the stars wobbled and wavered, as if seen through the clear diffraction of a still pool suddenly disturbed by an errant pebble. A man-made object – a starship – that was not there, suddenly was. An improbable inverted tear drop craft, it could barely be seen in the illumination of the system's sun. It was not an impressive ship by any standards. Made of mottled grey steel and blackened by the extreme environment of extraplanetary space, its red stenciling in block capital letters proclaimed it to be the IISS ALBERT PIKE. The ship began to drift slowly towards the planet, carried partially by its own residual inertia, and partly by the planet's gravity well already tugging at the ship's mass.

Aboard the ship, a man stood in front of the mirror in the state room fresher. He took a puff of his thick cigar, set it down in the ashtray, and continued to comb his dark brown hair. When he finished, he put on an Australian style cowboy hat with one brim rolled up. He was impeccably clothed in the dress uniform of the IISS Communications Office – Express Boat Service. His moustache was neatly trimmed, his shirt buttons perfectly aligned, and his dress boots shined. Bach's Brandenburg Concerto played softly in the background.

Casey Duquette, as the man was named, took his job seriously. Grievously wounded in a previous encounter, he had left the IISS Special Security Services to allow his spine to heal. Taking the job of an X-Boat pilot seemed natural. It was usually a fairly simple job, without a great deal of danger or surprises.

Casey had elected to take a route off of the normal X-Boat pathways. He enjoyed delivering news, electronic mail, and other data to the far flung and widely scattered systems of the Imperium. His might be the only official Imperial visit one of these outer systems received in six months or more. Often his arrival would be a major event, and he was usually greeted by members of the press, political dignitaries, prominent religious figures, academic leaders, and so on.

Casey didn't mind. He had never sought the limelight, and although he had a clear idea that not all things were well in the Imperium, he knew very well that he served as an unofficial ambassador of the Imperium to these oft ignored systems. He carried with him a gift for every system's leader: a bottle of fine whisky and a box of the best cigars – which was only fitting as he was a frequent guest editor of Barley and Leaf, an almost unknown magazine with virtually no circulation.

Taking his unfinished cigar with him, Casey walked back to the bridge, which was designed to be operated by one man. He sat at the console and brought to life the glowing translucent holograph displays.

Standard protocol for an X-Boat entering a system would be for the Jump Boat Tender – a specifically designed craft -  to approach the X-Boat, exchange data, refuel and resupply, and the X-Boat would be on its way again. The standard X-Boat didn't even have a maneuver drive; it simply didn't need one. However, because of the lack of complex infrastructure on most of the backwater planets that Casey had chosen to visit, his ship had been retrofitted with such a drive, at the expense of one of the state rooms and some electronic storage capacity.

Casey wasn't quite sure what to expect in this system; the data manifest seemed to not have been updated in several years. He might be met by a supply/communications ship, he might have to go into planetary orbit and refuel at an orbital station, or the locals might refit him using ancient rocket powered space vehicles while he waited in orbit.

Not having received a signal from any waiting ship after he had jumped into the system, Casey began to scan the area with both his PESA and AESA. His transponder was already on. Waiting for a response was nothing unusual. Although he had a window of time in which he was expected, he had no firm day or time for arrival, and it would be unlikely that the awaiting system would keep a ship on standby.

Monitoring the PESA scanners, Casey noticed a faint glimmer of infrared radiation against the galactic background. He zoomed in on the hit, and magnified. The outline of a red glow could barely be seen in the blackness, but it was there, and it was definitely a ship. Casey vectored his AESA to ping that heading with laser and radar, and got an almost immediate response. About a half light-second away, a large vessel cruised on a heading towards Saurus. It was quickly decelerating, which meant that it must have come from further out in the system. As it had no active transponder, Casey matched the received data with his on board database. His computer told him that he was looking at one of the Darisshii class Heavy Interdiction Cruisers, a modified battle cruiser designed for the IISS to be used in interdicted Red Zones. According to the database, this ship was The Forge. Casey thought that that was interesting. He hadn't expected a fighting ship in the area, and if the system was being interdicted he would be among the first to know. Casey wondered if there was trouble in this or a neighboring star system.

Casey decided that it didn't matter. He felt strangely apprehensive about the situation, but he talked himself out of taking any cautious measures. After all, he was in an Imperial system, piloting an IISS Express Boat, and the other ship was also obviously IISS. At any rate, the ship already had noticed his AESA scan, and was changing vectors to an intercept course. Perhaps this was his resupply vessel? Casey opened a comm channel.

“This is IISS Express Boat Albert Pike, calling IISS Forge. I have entered the Saurus system, and am waiting for data exchange instructions, over.”

Casey still didn't think that this was his resupply boat, but at least this ship could probably tell him where he needed to go to find it. Casey waited for an answer from the warship. He didn't wait long, but it wasn't the response he was expecting.

A half dozen red warning lights flashed on his sensor panel. This ship was firing at him! A pulse of ultraviolet laser crossed the void between the two spacecraft. Another red emergency indicator light meant that one of them had struck his ship. This was the targeting laser, pinpointing his location more exactly than this warship's radar had been able to. The next burst of laser would be from the ships main guns. At this range, he would likely be slightly out of their weapons' maximum effective range, but it would still only take a few direct hits to mortally wound the lightly armored Express Boat.

Casey changed the configuration of his ship console from Navigation/Communication to Emergency Combat Operation. Normally in combat stealth was an advantage; however, an Express Boat was anything but stealthy, and at any rate the other craft had already spotted him. Casey hit his emergency beacon transponder. Saurus was only a few light seconds away, and provided they had any sort of electromagnetic communication capability, they should be able to receive his signal.

Casey put his X-Boat's reactor at full power output, plotted a course to Saurus, and initiated evasive maneuvering. He had seen space combat during the brief but bloody Sarpedon Incursion, but in that conflict he had piloted a cutting edge Rampart Class fighter interceptor. However, trying to evade laser cannon fire from a Darisshii class vessel in an Express boat was like trying to leap barrels while riding a giant, over-caffeinated snail.

Still, his maneuvering worked. His sensors picked up plasma trails passing both above him and below him as the laser beams superheated the interplanetary dust to millions of degrees. Like fingers tens of thousands of miles long they reached towards the little boat. Casey quickly changed vectors and passed out of the path of the plasma trail.

Casey sighed. That was a lucky shot on their part. Still, the battle wasn't over; he had only survived the first volley. Now the warship would have to wait until its battery of capacitors recharged for the next shots. Casey didn't wait, and he sprung into action.

First was survivability. Getting up from the flight deck, he rushed to the ship's locker and pulled out his vacc suit, climbing into it in record time. As Casey returned to the bridge he attached his air hose to his suit and then punched in a command on his computer's terminal to quickly vent the air in the craft to the empty vacuum of space. If – and when, Casey had no doubt – he did get hit by laser fire, if his craft was still pressurized he would risk an explosive decompression. Instead, an already decompressed ship would merely get holes poked into it.

That done, Casey tried to establish communication with the enemy vessel. They had made no course correction commands, no demands for surrender, nothing. Their intentions seemed fairly clear to him: they were going to destroy him, no muss, no fuss. Nevertheless, Casey opened all emergency channels and hailed the ship.

“This is the IISS Express Boat Albert Pike, Delta Two Five Seven Niner Fox Tango. This is an official Imperial Scout Ship. Per Imperial law, an attack on an Imperial ship is an attack on the Imperium, and is considered an act of war. Cease and desist your attack immediately, power down your weapons, and proceed to Saurus in a stable orbit.”

Although he meant every word of it, Casey knew his words were hollow. A 2000 dTon warship wasn't going to surrender to an unarmed X-Boat. It still seemed like the thing to do though, and it had the effect of legally placing him in the position of the aggrieved party.

His response was another targeting ping. This meant that their capacitor batteries had finished charging, and they were preparing to fire again. Casey again input an evasive action flight solution into his navigation computer, causing the Albert Pike to bob and fishtail wildly in space.

This time, however, Casey wasn't so lucky. His panel lit up with red lights once again, telling him that he had been hit. Casey brought up a holographic representation of the damage. Sensors indicated that one of the laser beams had struck the side of his ship in the area of the fuel tank. Luckily, his X-Boat could only carry enough fuel for one jump at a time, all of which he had already used up in the last jump. Were there any liquid hydrogen still in the tank, both Casey and his ship might now be nothing more than very small particulate matter, floating through the void of space.

Casey took a closer look at the damage. His hull had been punctured, but his ship had already been compartmentally sealed when he had gone on combat alert. The structural integrity of the Pike was still intact, but his AESA indicated that the enemy warship was now on an intercept course at maximum acceleration. They didn't plan on leaving him crippled and alone: they were going for the kill.

Casey recalculated his flight path towards Saurus, and redlined his reactor core's output. He knew that if he stayed in space, the enemy craft would slice him to pieces at their leisure. His only hope was to get to Saurus and lose himself in its obscuring mass.

On Casey's side were time and distance. If he had appeared out of jump space much closer to The Forge, things would already be over. However, because of the initial great distance between the two vessels, not only were the cruiser's weapons much less effective at this range, they were also much less accurate. Of the dozens of shots that had been fired, the few that had hit him were due mostly to luck. Nevertheless, The Forge had much greater acceleration than the Albert Pike, and every thousand kilometers that distance was shortened meant that the outcome of this encounter was more and more likely to end poorly for him.

Still, he knew his hope was a forlorn hope, even should he not be shot down. The Albert Pike had never been constructed to enter any kind of atmosphere. Any landing would be a crash landing, presuming that he wasn't disintegrated during reentry. If he managed to land at a shallow enough angle, the force of impact might be softened enough for him to survive, provided that his acceleration couch and artificial gravity dampers continued to work upon impact.

Casey began to work on another flight solution. He would approach the upper atmosphere at a parallel angle to a chord of the sphere's surface. The planet's gravity well would spin him around in a sharply decaying orbit, and he would be pulled down into the atmosphere, quickly losing speed. This would decrease his landing angle, and also give him more time in the atmosphere, slowing him down further by using his ship's hull as an airbrake.

This solved only half of the problem. As Casey programmed the flight path, the enemy vessel again locked onto him and fired. Casey again managed to maneuver out of the beams' paths. He didn't know how much luckier he could get, but as the planet began to loom large in his sensors, he figured that they would only be able to fire a few more dozen volleys.

Casey finished his final calculations for his flight path. He had chosen one that would likely crash land his ship near a settlement high in the mountains on the far side of the planet. His calculations had a margin of error of several dozen miles, but at least he would be secure knowing that he wasn't going to land in an ocean. He cut off all electromagnetic emissions, and entered the flight solution into the navigation computer.

Casey continued to take evasive action as he drew closer to Saurus. He successfully dodged a few attacks, but but by the time he had entered the planet's mesosphere, the hull of Deck Two – where the cargo hold – was breached and his jump drive was obliterated by a direct strike.

The Albert Pike was now in the outer atmosphere of Saurus, and began to tremble as it passed through the stratopause into the stratosphere. As the force of the atmospheric friction heated up the Pike's hull, more warning lights buzzed. Something was wrong. Somehow he was going too fast. His work panel vibrating in front of him, Casey brought up his flight schematics. He had calculated he would need another 5.4 minutes before he would hit the stratosphere and need to fully reverse his maneuver drive's acceleration to slow his descent.

His ship now beginning to shake violently, Casey looked at the vital statistics for Saurus. Damn! Casey thought, silently cursing himself. Damn! Damn! Damn! Damn!

Casey had neglected to take into account the planet's atmospheric density. When he had calculated his flight plan, the computer had used the default of one Terran Atmosphere. Looking at the planetary information, Casey saw that at sea level Saurus had an air density of 1.35 atmospheres of pressure.

The enemy ship completely forgotten, Casey hit full reverse engines. He didn't have time to recalculate, he needed to slow down now, otherwise he would skim through the top of the atmosphere, bouncing off of it and be flung into space, or he would careen towards the surface of the planet at such a velocity that the Pike would burn up completely in the planet's denser air.

Casey reached his hand forward to punch in the new data into his calculation. Despite the G damper, his ship was swaying so turbulently that his hand danced around the panel, unable to manipulate the correct keys.

Then it felt that he had struck a brick wall. The ship lurched forward, and Casey gasped as he slammed into the acceleration couch's restraining belts. Simultaneously his scanners ceased working, and all the lights and instruments in his cockpit went black. He must have hit the troposphere, and all of his external equipment must have been instantly destroyed. Casey saw his vacc suit's digital readout for his external thermometer out of the corner of his eye. It was quickly passing to the red zone.

There was one more lurch that was too much for Casey's acceleration couch. He struck the inside of the helmet of his vacc suit.

Casey remembered nothing more of his fateful flight to Saurus.
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