Captain Thraxos perused the ship manifest one more time. There was a late entry to join the convoy to Cycria. Cycria was a remote world and had been having a pirate problem with merchant traffic attacked several times over the past two years. As the pirates had got more bold the situation had become untenable and the Galactic Federation had to finally do something about it. submitted by
Thraxos was the captain of the light cruiser GFN Duhrel and he had been tasked to escort a merchant convoy from Dilolla to Cycria as deterrence to the pirates. He did not relish the assignment to babysit a motley fleet of civilians, but as GalFed captain he went where he was ordered to.
The final ship to join the convoy was the IMS Antelope. A Human merchanter that had been berthing here at Dilolla even before Thraxos had arrived. Apparently they had had some difficulty in securing new cargo to take on board and looking at the ship’s specs Thraxos could not blame anyone for not wanting to put their valuables on board this old rustbucket. But Cycria was not exactly a prime destination and apparently someone had been desperate enough to contract the Antelope to ferry their cargo to Cycria at the last minute.
IMS Antelope was an Independent Merchant Ship, owned and operated by her captain Robert Nele. Even her designation was thoroughly Human. The Humans had some of the most stringent licensing requirements to own and operate starship class drives which basically put them out of reach of civilian individuals. So, in turn, the independent merchanters had banded together and founded the Independent Merchant Ship company which held the licenses for the starship drives operated by their members with minimal interference from the company itself.
Thraxos scoffed, but the Humans were an upstart species. Perhaps it was for the best that not just anyone could get their hands on potentially volatile technology. That showed more responsibility of them than Thraxos had heard based on their reputation.
The Antelope herself was almost 60 years old and looking through her log she had mostly been operating within or near Human space. This was as far as she had ever been from home. Still, for all the tarnish on her hull, she had passed her latest spaceworthiness inspection only six months prior.
She was one of the weirdest looking ships Thraxos had ever seen. She was basically a lattice spine on which standard cargo containers were mounted like grapes on a vine. Front end had habitation and docking, the back end had its large engine, ending on a flat plate mounted on what looked like pillars. Curious.
Thraxos studied her engine specifications. Her main engine was of type Thraxos had never even heard of before, something the Humans called ‘orion’ type nuclear pulse thruster and with her mass, impulse and thrust she would be by far the slowest ship in the convoy, only barely scraping over the acceptable lower limit. Her jump engine likewise was an antiquated Type-I, only barely able to do the jumps required for this route. But she was over the bar so Thraxos had to grudgingly accept her to the convoy.
Slightly annoyed, Thraxos sent the engine specifications to his astrogator to have their course and time estimates recomputed to match the Antelope’s slow speed. Then he fired off a message to all ten ships in his convoy to prepare to unberth and meet at the system’s jump point in twelve hours.
At the start of next morning’s shift Thraxos entered the bridge to relieve the nightshift watch officer. It would be two hours until their scheduled jump off time, plenty of time to undock and make their way the 50 000 kilometers over to the jump point.
Captain Thraxos turned to the operations officer of the previous watch. “Anything interesting going on?”
Lieutenant Commander Tarkran shrugged. “Just the Humans, sir. The Antelope cast off six hours ago and has been slowly making their way to the jump point using manoeuvring thrusters only.”
Thraxos was taken aback. “What? Why?”
Tarkran shrugged again. “No idea, sir, but they’ll be arriving at the jump just before the scheduled time.”
Captain Thraxos just shook his head. “Alright, thanks. I have the bridge.”
Tarkran nodded and announced, “Captain has the bridge.” Tarkran turned and left as Thraxos sat down on the command chair.
Captain Thraxos waited for the other stations to complete their watch handover and then turned to communications. “Lieutenant Coccols, request undocking.”
“Aye, sir.” the comm officer responded.
Thraxos then turned to the astrogation officer. “Lieutenant Ulan, please prepare a course plan to take us to the jump point after we’ve moved past the station’s safety perimeter and execute once we have undocking permission.”
Next Thraxos glanced over his executive officer sitting at the operations station. “While we’re en-route, prepare a convoy placement assignment for each ship according to the exclusion zones of their engines. I want us to be in the middle. Hopefully the pirates will think we’re just another fat merchantman until it’s too late.”
Commander Nivek nodded. “Aye sir. I think I can nestle us between GMS Aelat and IXS Naholl. I’ll have to see what we can do with the human ship.”
Lieutenant Coccols turned around. “Sir. Undocking clearance granted, we have 1 minute window.”
Captain Thraxos nodded. “Lieutenant Ulan, undock and execute.”
There was an almost imperceptible shift as the GFN Duhrel unlatched from the station and then pushed itself away from station’s bulk using its manoeuvring thrusters. After thirty seconds they had cleared the station perimeter and they were able to engage their fusion drive. Even at the minimal power that was allowed to be used near stations, it would only take them about 30 minutes to reach their designated staging point.
“Ummm… Captain?” Commander Nivek interrupted after a few minutes. “Have you looked at the exclusion chart for the Human ship?”
Thraxos furrowed his brow. “No, why?”
Commander Nivek hesitated for a moment. “I think you should.”
Captain Thraxos called up the schematic of the Human ship on his terminal. It was still one of the ugliest ships he had ever seen, but he wasn’t here to judge a beauty contest. He switched the overlay layers to the engine exclusion zone.
“What the fuck?” he exclaimed.
For most ships the exclusion zone was a cone behind them a few degrees wide. For IMS Antelope it was a whole half sphere and then some, covering just under 200 degrees of arc and extending all the way to 5000 kilometers, with an advisory zone all the way to 20 000 kilometers.
“I think I know why they’re limping out there with their manoeuvring thrusters only.” Commander Nivek posited. “There’s no way they could have fired up that drive anywhere near the station.” After a moment he continued. “I think the only place we can put them is as the last ship in the convoy with nobody behind them.”
Captain Thraxos shook his head in disbelief. “Do they have a completely unshielded reactor back there or something?”
“I don’t know, I’ve never seen anything like this, but it must be by design and approved, since they’ve passed their inspections.”
Thraxos sighed. “Well, transmit the assigned relative positions to all ships and manoeuvre us into position to wait for them.”
The convoy of all ten merchant ships had taken up their positions around the cruiser GFN Duhrel with the IXS Ikol at the front and IMS Antelope at the rear. All the ships slaved their jump engines to the control of GFN Duhrel and in concert they tore a hole in reality that whisked them to another starsystem a dozen light years away.
The system the convoy appeared in was uninhabited, a puny red dwarf with only a catalogue number as its name. They would then have to traverse the system to the next jump point that would allow them to jump to the next star in the chain to Cycria.
Most of the time in traversing the galaxy was spent moving from jump point to jump point within each starsystem. Some systems were lucky and their jump points were close-by, others had them far apart and it took a long time and a lot of Δv to traverse. The locations of the jump points and where you could jump from them depended on the background arrangement of the dark matter permeating the galaxy which warped the extra dimensions of spacetime.
The convoy would have almost a week ahead of them to traverse to the next jump point in this system, and just over two months to reach Cycria.
Captain Thraxos looked over the monitors and concluded that everything was in order. “Lieutenant Ulan, plot a course to the next jump point.”
The astrogator glanced over. “Already laid in, Captain. Ready to execute on your command.”
“Very good Lieutenant.” Thraxos acknowledged with pleasure. “Signal the convoy to get underway and execute.”
Ten of the ships in the convoy each fired up their fusion torches of various sorts and the convoy started moving, but then behind the eleventh ship, the IMS Antelope, something exploded with nuclear fury.
“CAPTAIN!” Sensor officer Birrai shouted. “The engine of the Antelope just exploded!”
“What?” The captain looked up. Just his luck that the Human rustbucket would have a catastrophic engine failure immediately upon firing up that lethal engine of theirs. “Signal all stop!”
Just as soon as the fleet had started moving the torches died down as each ship ceased accelerating.
Thraxos hit transmit button on his terminal. “This is captain Thraxos of GFN Duhrel to IMS Antelope, do you require assistance?”
Thraxos looked at the sensor scan on his screen as he waited for their reply. At least there didn’t seem to be much debris. Hopefully the Humans didn’t have many casualties.
A calm, if slightly confused, voice came on the speakers. “This is IMS Antelope. Uh, negative on assistance. Why, what is the problem?”
Captain Thraxos looked at his sensor officer, who just spread his arms. Then back to the sensor display, until he finally hit transmit again. “Duhrel to Antelope, did you not just have a catastrophic engine failure?”
“Um. Oh!” There was a sudden realization in the voice on the radio. “Negative Duhrel. That was the detonation of our 50 kiloton nuclear propulsion charge.”
“50 kiloton propulsion?! YOUR SHIP SHITS OUT NUCLEAR BOMBS!?” Captain Thraxos immediately regretted his lapse in decorum, but the sheer insanity of the idea had caught him completely off guard.
“Affirmative Duhrel. Apologies for the confusion. The shaped nuclear charges are used to push against the driveplate at the back of the ship which transfers the momentum imparted to the ship through a staged shock absorber assembly.”
After the convoy had gotten over the shock of the Humans’ propulsion system the rest of the voyage to the jump point had passed quietly. Or as quietly as a fleet trailing a stream of nuclear explosions can go. As had the second and third jumps.
When the convoy appeared in the fourth system on the route, another nondescript nameless star, things rapidly went south. Before the convoy had a chance to start moving a warhead detonated half a million kilometers away from the jump point.
Three pirate cruisers brought up their EM suites and aimed their targeting radars at the merchant convoy. The pirates were well poised about to catch any merchants that chose to try to flee, with each pirate able to cover a large part of the possible trajectories.
An ultimatum was transmitted on all the universal emergency channels. “This is captain Qauk’ats of The Blood Raiders. Stand down your ships and prepare to be boarded. Any resistance will be met with lethal force.”
Captain Thraxos considered his options. The Federation Fleet Command had not anticipated this heavy pirate presence. The previous raids had been performed by single ships each. His light cruiser might be able to take on two of the pirates, depending on how well they were equipped and trained, but all three would be too much. Especially when they were spread out like this, so he would not be able to concentrate his point defences in any single particular direction.
On the other hand he had not yet betrayed that GFN Duhrel was a warship. His ship had been chosen for this because it was roughly the correct size to pass as a medium merchantman. Could he use this to his advantage somehow…
“Lieutenant Coccols, signal the convoy to stand by. Comm laser only, let’s not tip our hands yet.”
Captain Thraxos prayed that none of the merchanters would panic and start running, he was only one ship, he couldn’t be in two places at once to protect everyone.
“Lieutenant Commander Birrai, use passive scanners only. Limit actives to equipment a merchantman could realistically have. Go loud on sensors only if our cover is blown.”
Thraxos was stalling for time and he knew it. He needed something to give him an extra edge somehow. Something, anything. Just one way to neutralize one of the pirate cruisers to even the odds.
On the screen vectors appeared showing the pirate ships starting to accelerate carefully towards the convoy since the convoy seemed to be capitulating. Whatever he comes up with he would have to come up with quickly.
Then the comm officer piped up. “Captain, we have a laser message from IMS Antelope. Captain Nele wants to talk with you.”
Thraxos sighed. Great, he didn’t have time to babysit a panicking merchanter right now. “Signal them to just stand by.”
Few moments later lieutenant Coccols replied. “He’s being very insistent, sir.”
“Fine.” Thraxos grumbled. “Put him on my monitor.”
Captain Thraxos waited until on his screen appeared the image of a middle aged human wearing a black collared suit with a white shirt underneath and a tie around his neck. On his head he had a white hat with a black visor. On the hat was a golden patch with a stylized antelope rimmed with golden stylized ropes.
“Captain Nele, what do you want?” Thraxos tried to hide the annoyance in his voice, but it still leaked through. “We’re kind of busy right now.”
Captain Nele ignored his tone. “Captain Thraxos, I’m sorry to interrupt, but I have a suggestion. Am I correct to assume that three pirate ships are too many for you to handle?”
Nele sighed. “Captain, this is no time for ego. Is it so?” He looked at Thraxos with stern eyes. “Because if it is, then the Antelope can take on one of them.”
Thraxos’ eyes widened. “What? No, out of the question!”
“Captain, the Antelope’s driveplate is designed to withstand repeated nuclear explosions with minimal ablation. It is tougher than battleship hull. And I bet the pirates don’t know that our ship ‘shits out nuclear bombs’ either as you so eloquently put it.” Nele glared at Thraxos. “I’m not planning to die today after a failed last stand, so one more time: do you need help or not?”
Thraxos glanced to the side. As much as he didn’t want to admit it, he did need help. After an agonizingly long moment he turned back to face the other captain. “Yes. You’re right. We can probably take on two, but not all three of them.”
Nele nodded. “Alright. So here’s what I have in mind...”
The control room of the merchantman was spartan compared to the bridge of a warship. Captain Robert Nele was standing next to the sensocomm station looking at the radar plot. His heart raced and he hoped he wasn’t about to do something completely stupid. He glanced around and he knew that the rest of his crew felt the same. But they had to at least try.
He breathed deep once and then exhaled. “Alright Terri, jettison the cargo containers. Arkady, use the azipod thrusters and lets make like bat out of hell.”
The engineer, Terri Grove, hit buttons on her console and a series of thumps echoed throughout the ship. “All containers released.”
Helm officer Arkady Stachowiak used the translation joystick to pull the ship backwards out from between the containers that were now lazily floating in space. “We’re free.” Then he turned the ship to a new heading and fired the azipod manoeuvring thrusters at full. “Batting out of hell.”
The azipod thrusters could be turned to allow the ship to accelerate in almost any direction. They were meant for use near ports for both manoeuvring and mobility where the Antelope couldn’t use her main nuclear pulse engine. Because of this the azipods were unusually powerful for a ship of her size and with the Antelope shed of all her cargo they could give her pretty decent acceleration.
Niels Becker glanced up to the captain standing next to him. “Radio from Duhrel.” He pressed a button to put it on the loudspeakers.
Captain Thraxos’ voice sounded frantic as he yelled at the Antelope. “Get back here Antelope! Didn’t you hear what they said!”
Robert shook himself to get into character. Then he pressed a button on Niels’ station and shouted back in panic. “Fuck that shit! I’m getting the hell out of here! It’s every man for themselves!”
He took a second to steady himself again. “Alright Niels, let’s see which pirate takes the bait. Arkady, once we know who is chasing us, turn us so our driveplate is pointed at them. Make a good show of trying to get away, we need to lure them out far enough.”
“Will do, Bob.” Arkady acknowledged. “I’ll give them a merry chase.”
“Now we just hope they want us disabled and don’t use missiles.” Robert voiced everyone’s concern. “Terri, how are your modifications coming along?”
Without even looking up from her console, Terri replied, “I’ve got the launcher patched. I’ve voided pretty much every warranty we have, but I managed to coax it to load four charges at once. With our biggest bombs that’ll give them a two megaton surprise.”
Robert nodded. “Very good.”
Terri continued, “The bombs turned out to be trickier. I should be able to get their attitude control software overridden, but they also have hardware safeties. I had to send Jonesy to physically bypass them. But that also means he can slap a radio module on them while he’s at it, so we’ll be able to detonate these on command.”
Robert grinned. “Excellent. Great work. Let me know when Jonesy is done with the mods.”
“Aye. Just one last thing. Once we load up any bombs into the launcher, we won’t be able to unload them any more.”
“Alright. Keep the launcher on full manual then and load only on my command for now.”
Niels interjected. “Contact-3 is altering course to intercept. I’ve coloured her pink on the radar plot.”
Robert glanced over at the helm. “Arkady?”
“On it. On our new course they’ll reach weapons range in 52 minutes. By that time we’ll have spent 84% of our manoeuvring propellant.”
Robert noticed it. “What’s wrong, Terri?”
“Oh, I’m just thinking of our next overhaul. The azipods weren’t meant to be used this hard for this long.”
“Good to see you’re still an optimist.” Arkady commented. As Terri glowered at him, he added, “You think we’re gonna live long enough to service them.”
Terri laughed and the rest of the command crew chuckled.
Their moment of mirth was, however, cut short when Niels announced a message from contact-3.
“Antelope, this is captain Mas’ieh of raider Bathed in Blood. Stand down immediately or you will be fired upon. This is your only warning.”
After a moment of silence captain Nele said, “let them eat static.”
It had been a tense half hour as the Antelope had led the pirate raider away from the rest of the group. Once they were too far away for Bathed in Blood to turn back and help his pirate brethren the GFN Duhrel had broken off the convoy and raced to meet the other two pirates.
With all the pieces in motion it was now captain Mas’ieh’s turn to make a choice. He had three choices: continue pressing the Antelope, turn back and attack GFN Duhrel, or turn away and run.
If he turned to attack GFN Duhrel, he would arrive to the battle too late to help Red Mayhem and Dread Rising. If the two ships could not beat Duhrel, then he would face Duhrel on his own and it might go any way depending on how much damage Mayhem and Dread had inflicted on her. If on the other hand Mayhem and Dread managed to destroy Duhrel, then he had just let the Antelope escape for no reason.
If he decided to run, then his chances depended on whether Mayhem and Dread could destroy or disable Duhrel. Duhrel was faster so she would be able to catch up with Bathed in Blood before he could slip out of the system at the next jump point. But if Mayhem and Dread did manage to destroy Duhrel, his attempt to flee would not be looked upon kindly by the leader of the Raiders.
So, no matter what happens his only real option was to press on Antelope. If Mayhem and Dread won against GFN Duhrel, then capturing the Antelope was the most useful thing he could do. If Mayhem and Dread lost to GFN Duhrel, then he was in no better or worse position than if he had turned away from Antelope. He would still have to face Duhrel just the same.
He sent a message to captain Qauk’ats aboard the Red Mayhem with his plan of action to continue chasing the Antelope to make sure she couldn’t escape, and the rationale for taking this action.
What he didn’t mention was that if Mayhem and Dread lost to Duhrel, but damaged her enough for him to destroy her… well, then he would have just become the new leader of The Blood Raiders.
The atmosphere was tense in the control room of the IMS Antelope. Minutes ticked by as the raider Bathed in Blood chased them. Several hundred thousand kilometers away the GFN Duhrel and raiders Red Mayhem and Dread Rising were fast approaching each other.
“Nuclear explosion.” Niels announced suddenly. “The raiders have started firing on GFN Duhrel. I think Duhrel’s point defence got that warhead. It was too far to cause any damage.”
Robert nodded in silence. They could do nothing more to help, that battle was now up to captain Thraxos.
“Two more. This time against contact-2. Their point defence stopped them.”
Thraxos and Duhrel had an advantage. They could fire their magazines empty if they had to without consequence. For the pirates, every missile they shot was invaluable, for they couldn’t just pull in to a naval yard to resupply. But there were still two pirate ships and if their magazines were full, then Duhrel would be in serious trouble.
“No fire for a few moments. I think they were just probing each other at extreme missile range.”
Robert turned to Niels. “How long until Bathed in Blood is in missile range, assuming their range is similar?”
Niels looked at the range plot. “Two minutes.”
Suddenly there was a radiation alarm. Robert looked at Niels with the look of ‘are you sure’ all over his face.
Niels looked at his instruments. “That was ten thousand kilometers away and off to the side. I think it was a warning shot. Negligible radiation dose.”
Robert thought for a moment and weighed his options. “We’ll keep going. Hopefully they won’t waste more missiles on us.”
The uneasy silence returned as more minutes ticked by. Only occasionally broken as Niels reported events of the battle happening far away.
The exchange of fire increased as the combatants got closer. GFN Duhrel was pressing on contact-2, the Dread Rising, and closing the distance as fast as she could. Her point defences were working at near saturation as the two pirates poured missile after missile upon her. But likewise, her missiles pushed the pirate crew aboard the Dread Rising to their limit as well.
“HIT!” Niels exclaimed! “Contact-2 has left behind debris.”
Everyone cheered. A hit was nice, but it wasn’t the end of the battle. Nowhere near. Warships were compartmentalized to the maximum and even a direct warhead hit only crippled them locally.
Soon the flashes of missile warheads were joined by the invisible beams of anti-ship lasers as GFN Duhrel and Dread Rising reached energy weapon range. Both ships took hits to their hull.
Warship armour had diamond threads woven into it, which were as close as you could get to thermal superconductivity. Each time a laser flashed across a panel, the weave would try to spread out the thermal load to try to keep the plating from vaporizing locally where it was hit and hopefully the plate would be able to radiate the heat load away before another hit. But if any plate was saturated by heat, the entire plate would melt all at once.
Niels was able to see thermal spikes on his IR scopes, but his instruments weren’t powerful enough to resolve what effects those hits had. Neither were the instruments of the other merchanters who were relaying their scanner data to the Antelope as well, which let Niels see the Bathed in Blood even though it was in the shadow of their driveplate. Otherwise the plate would have been a blind spot for them, for no sensor could be mounted on it that would be able to withstand the constant bombardment of nuclear fire it was under in normal operation.
They could only guess how the battle was going. Both ships were streaming air and metal behind them. Both ships were hurt, but how badly was anyone’s guess. Then their own trouble started.
Terri frowned. “I think we’ve just been shot at by Bathed in Blood with their lasers. I’m reading an increased thermal load on the driveplate. Activating cooling system.”
Robert swallowed. This was it for them. “Here goes nothing then. Arkady, start jinking with the azipods but make sure the driveplate remains between us. Let’s make it look good and not give them too easy a target.”
“I think we just had a near miss. The driveplate heat load spiked again, but much less. I think only the halo of the laser caught us this time.”
Robert nodded. “Keep going.”
With their overpowered azipods being able to move them laterally in almost any direction the cargoless Antelope was an exceedingly difficult target for the Bathed in Blood to hit compared to a warship. But every jink burned even more of their manoeuvring propellant. They wouldn’t be able to keep this up for too much longer.
“Direct hit on our plate.” Terri announced once more.
“Vent all our airlocks, let’s make them think they hurt us.”
The Antelope shuddered a little as the airlocks blew out a cloud of air around the ship.
“Too bad we didn’t think of loading some junk in them before hand.” Niels commented.
Robert grinned. “Yeah, but this’ll have to do. Terri, load up a 10 kiloton starter charge into the launcher. Next time they score a direct hit, fire it. Arkady, when it goes boom, put us into a spin. Hopefully they’ll think they’ve hit our engines and disabled us.”
“Got it.” Arkady acknowledged.
Terri hit some buttons on her console. “Charge loaded. Arkady, when I say ‘stop’ stop thrusting. I don’t want us to drift out of the driveplate’s shadow before the charge goes off.”
The Bathed in Blood scored a few more near misses and but then the heat on the plate spiked again. A direct hit.
“Stop!” Terri shouted, then hit the button to manually fire the drive once. A few moments later there was a brilliant flash visible to the Bathed in Blood and the Antelope felt the surge of acceleration as the shock absorbers pushed their ship with the momentum of the nuclear explosion in front of them. Arkady immediately used the azipods to give their ship a good bit of spin, making it turn end over end.
This was the moment when Robert bet them all-in. If the pirate cruiser would fire their laser even one more time, they could hull them straight through. For a merchantman had no armour plating cladding it everywhere like a warship did.
The bridge was deathly silent as everyone were holding their breaths. Seconds passed. Then seconds more passed. The recharge time of the pirate’s spinal laser came and went and there was no Earth shattering kaboom. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and the seconds turned into minutes. The pirates wanted a prize and they thought they had it.
Even as the battle lulled here, in the distance, the battle between Duhrel and the pirates raged on.
Captain Thraxos had managed to break the Dread Rising in the laser exchange. The pirate cruiser was a wreck, hulled straight through in multiple places with a large hole where her main powerplant used to be. But Duhrel had suffered greatly as well. On one side her hull had been scoured clean of her point defences. A number of missile launchers were disabled or destroyed and several compartments were open to space as well. She was streaming air as she turned towards the remaining pirate. All the while they continued exchanging as much missile fire as they could.
But the crew of the Antelope had no time to spectate for long. With them ‘disabled’ and dead in space the raider Bathed in Blood had been able to close the remaining distance much faster and they were getting ready to pull up alongside them.
Captain Nele stood at the sensocomm station and watched the plot with officer Becker. He and Niels kept glancing at each other nervously as the distance closed. Getting the final part of their plan correct was critical, for they would only get one chance. Once their element of surprise was lost, they would be sitting ducks to the missiles of the pirate raider.
“Terri, load up the launcher with four of the biggest charges we have. Arkady, once Bathed in Blood is within 10 kilometers, stabilize us and aim the driveplate at him. Terri, once we’re stabilized go to rapid fire on the launcher with as many of the 500 kiloton charges as you can.”
Robert breathed deep to calm himself. “Detonate the charges when you think is optimal, or if it seems they’ve spotted our ruse. Let’s hope this works.”
Terri nodded and worked frantically on her console to execute the instructions. She would have to program the bombs to rotate to face Bathed in Blood instead of their own driveplate. She’d replaced the normal inertial stabilizing software with her own and uploaded it to the bombs, but she still had to compute the difference based on her best guess where the Bathed in Blood would be in relation to them when the bombs would be triggered. The bombs couldn’t do it themselves, since they had no external sensors, only gyros so they knew their own orientation and nothing else.
“20 kilometers.” Niels announced.
Time seemed to crawl as every person ran on adrenaline.
Arkady held the stick, ready to execute. He had already turned the azipods ready to cancel their rotation, but then he would have to turn to face the pirate cruiser.
“12 kilometers. 11 kilometers. 10 kilometers.”
Arkady waited for a moment more before he pulled on the stick to make sure they would stop as close to the target attitude as possible. The ship heaved as the azipods worked to halt its turn. With the spin nulled, Arkady then rolled the ship so the azipods wouldn’t have to slew to a new direction before he could point the ship towards the pirate. He wanted to shave every second he could.
“On target!” Arkady announced.
Terri hit the button to execute the program. “Launching.”
The whole operation had took only seconds and the pirates were caught completely off guard. The pirate ship took no action as the four little elongated spheres flew toward it from the little hole in the middle of the Antelope’s massive driveplate. A few seconds later another group of spheres flew out and another.
The pirate ship finally stopped their approach with their manoeuvring thrusters and started to turn their spinal laser to point at the not-as-disabled-as-they-thought merchantman to finish them off.
Terri waited until the last moment possible before the first group of nukes would drift past the pirate and put the ship out of the cone of their shaped charges. Then she pressed the fire button. “Firing!”
A dozen 500 kt nukes exploded in unison at point blank range to the pirate cruiser. Six megatons total of nuclear fury. But these weren’t just nukes, they were shaped charges with most of the blast directed forward through a heavy layer of tungsten that was turned into vapour and shot as plasma towards the hapless pirate whose hull did not have the heavy reinforcement the Antilope’s own driveplate did.
At point blank range this barrage could have hulled a battleship.
Then a few seconds later another 2 megaton barrage exploded. Then another.
Bathed in Blood finally finished turning to bring their spinal laser on the merchantman, but it did not stop. It continued to turn, its laser remaining dark. A cloud of air and debris surrounded the hulk of the pirate ship.
Then the fourth barrage of bombs hit their main powerplant and Bathed in Blood split in two as the reactor amidships exploded.
Sound of debris rang all around the Antelope as the explosion pushed against its driveplate, pushing the ship harmlessly away from the destroyed hulk of the pirate cruiser.
“Holy. Fucking. Shit.” Niels mouthed as he looked at his sensor screen.
Captain Robert Nele walked over to his chair and collapsed into it as the tension of the adrenaline in his system disappeared. Everyone on the bridge deflated as if they had been balloons from which the air had been let out.
“Reload the drive with propulsive charges, get us the fuck out of here.” Robert breathed heavy with relief.
Terri fired the last modified charges to clear the launcher. Her hand shook as she hovered over the fire button. She couldn’t bring herself to press it, not any more. The pirate ship was already more than destroyed. She let the nukes drift away past the wreck as she adjusted the loading priority for the launcher and reset it to standard automatic operation.
In few seconds the first 10 kt charge aimed at their own plate fired and pushed them away. Terri let the computer take over and soon the Antelope picked up speed at great rate, galloping away from the broken and hulled wreck of the pirate ship like her namesake. Empty of cargo even the lightest charges accelerated her like she was an olympic sprinter. The direction didn’t matter, as long as it was away.
They’d already forgotten the battle that had been going on elsewhere.
Ten minutes later the numb silence in the control room was broken by a radio call.
“GFN Duhrel to IMS Antelope. Captain Nele, what is your status?”
As IMS Antelope joined back with the convoy, GFN Duhrel pulled up to alongside her. Or what was left of GFN Duhrel. The battle with the pirates had taken a tremendous toll on the light cruiser. There was nary a square meter on her hull that wasn’t scarred by battle damage. There was a large gash along one side and even a hole clear through her. The other side was scoured clean of her hull mounted weapons and sensors and several compartments were open to space. Over third of her crew were dead. It was a small miracle she was still flying at all.
But the pirate fleet had paid even more dearly. All three cruisers floated dead in space as wasted, hulled wrecks. Bathed in Blood lay in twain with her spine broken. Dread Rising was missing an entire quarter of the ship where the powerplant had used to be. And Red Mayhem lay shattered in pieces after multiple missile hits when Duhrel had finally managed to overwhelm her point defences.
There were very few survivors from the pirate fleet, and even fewer who had wanted to be a survivor. Only fifteen lifepods had been launched from the hulks, out of their total crew of a hundred and twenty. The rest had perished in the battle, or chosen to perish in the hulks. The survivors’ pods would be picked up in due time to face justice for their actions.
Captain Thraxos watched the Human ship on his screen and saluted. The Antelope may have been old and tarnished, she may have looked odd and ugly, but right now captain Thraxos was proud to have her and her crew in his fleet. She was no longer part of the convoy, she was one of its protectors. And it was thanks to her that they had triumphed today against insurmountable odds.
Hi guys! I wrote a little article about building a new product. Looking forward for your feedback! submitted by
According to the statistic, 95% of the startups fail. It causes because of different reasons. However, the most spreading reason it’s unknowing of how to develop the product efficiently. Before building a new product, you need to know some steps of how to build your startup and launch to the market quickly.
An idea worth nothing, but you should make sure that your solution is needed by other people, not just by you. You can prove your idea by talking to your target audience. Find out if they really need your product and how much they would be willing to pay for it. However, there are some things you should be aware of, which you can learn how to avoid by reading the book titled “The Mom Test” by Rob Fitzpatrick
. Later I’ll write an article with a summary of this book for our community.
You can also use tools such as Wix, Tilda, etc. to validate your idea.
At this stage, software development is barely a requirement.
POC, an acronym for proof of concept, is the first step to consider before moving ahead with the development process. As the name implies, proof of concept is proof that the idea is feasible and can be converted into a product. A proof-of-concept will cover a small part, not the entire system. Moreover, users will never get to see it because POCs are used internally to clarify which way to go with the development. You can also consider building a POC to get seed-stage funding.
A prototype is a draft version of the product that focuses on user experience and semantics. The word prototype originates from a Greek word that means “in a primitive form”. Similar to a POC, a prototype’s main purpose is to help you make decisions about product development and reduce the number of mistakes. However, there are key differences. While a POC offers you a model of just one aspect of the product, a prototype is a working model of several aspects of the product. The development team usually uses prototyping to discover errors in the system. By building a prototype, they test the product’s design, usability, and often functionality. With a proof of concept, you can’t do that, because it’s smaller and can verify only a single issue.
MVP, an acronym for a minimum viable product, is a workable version resembling the final product but loaded with only the essential features. Any further product developments and feature additions are then based on continuous valuable feedback that flows in from end-users. As the MVP is delivered to the market right away, it has to be simple and well-polished, without any bugs or other problems.
During the PoC, Prototype & MVP stages it’s better to outsource development, than use an in-house team, as you’ll probably need to do several iterations during the user-testing phase. While you test your solution, your developers won’t bet working, but the convention is to still pay them.
When you have gathered all the feedback from your customers and have made the product almost perfect for them, you should concentrate on marketing and sales. At this stage, it’s more important to build your in-house team, as you need to support your product, and add new features.
New product development is like experimenting with a vision in mind. It requires commitment, cadence, awareness, and knowledge of how you need to move ahead with the process. The process starts with laying the foundation right, i.e., idea, creating a proof of concept, and a prototype, followed by an MVP. At all of these stages, you should use your resources in a lean way. And always remember the phrase: "If you think, that you can't make something for free, think again :)"
Good luck with launching your startups, folks!
For your quarantine reading pleasure I'm keeping the ball rolling with the next one! I've also discovered that if I slow down too much I get blocked.
Besides, there are too many cliff hangers to delay things overmuch.
Author's note: There is a SIGNIFICANT difference between Federation and Republic text formats. Something impossible in one might just be possible in another...
The rest of the series can be found here
“So there are more of you?” Shelia asked.
“Yep,” Bunny replied.
“A lot more,” Jessie chirped.
“And they are all like you?” Shelia asked as she grabbed another bottle of champagne from one of the cases gifted them by the Louvre.
“Well, not like Bunny!” Jessie laughed.
“Only one of me,” Bunny chuckled, “but yeah, there are a lot more ‘advanced AI’s’ than anybody knows.”
“Which is exactly how we like it!” Jessie added.
“And one of these,” Jacob asked as he sipped some champagne from a lovely crystal flute, “wants a favor?”
“Big time,” Bunny replied.
“And we should do this why?” Gloria asked.
“Because,” Jessie chirped, “they will owe us a favor!”
“And because I promised so we could keep the AI’s from having a schism right now,” Bunny added, “which would suck.”
“So you promised our services without consulting us?” Shelia asked as she popped open the bottle. She would be more annoyed but this champagne was just too nice.
promised that I
would help,” Bunny replied. “I said that I would either get us to do it or I would bankroll the job.”
“Ok, then,” Shelia asked as she filled her flute. “Why should we do this instead of you hiring it out?”
“Because it would be fun!” Jessie chirped. “Gimme!” she said reaching for the fresh bottle.
“Fun isn’t a sufficient reason to try to hack Fed Intel,” Greg said. “That is a high risk job.”
“But we get quite the payoff!” Bunny replied. “Raylesh Emergency Services assumed control of all
emergency communications and services for the entire fucking system after the war! Fire, ambulance, police, system defense forces
, you name it! Getting a one time free pass could pay off big!”
they don’t screw us,”, Shelia said dubiously. “That’s one hell of an if
“They’ll pay,” Bunny replied. “They fuck us and they won’t just be fucking us, they will be fucking the whole assembly. They would be ostracized for it, at least in the Republic where most of us live. The universe is lonely enough for us as it is. They’ll pay as long as it doesn’t get blocked by their programming (which we can work around).”
“Hmm…” Shelia mused. “Well I have absolutely no problem bankrolling this with unit funds, especially after those last accounts. I just don’t see why we have to do it ourselves.”
“We have the best chance of pulling it off,” Jessie said around a mouthful of fancy cheese (also a gift). “We’ve already done it and we have a lot of data concerning their security and architecture from that grab.”
“And we don’t want to hand that out,” Bunny added. “The more that gets out the more that they can fix. Right now we probably have a real edge especially considering the Federation’s rather lazy attitude towards just about everything. I bet they haven’t done anything except change the locks.”
“Well we do have awhile before the Angel of Death is ready,” T’sunk’al said as he sipped his tea. “and we could grab some more goodies for ourselves while we were in there.”
“Bound to come in handy, if we pull it off of course,” Eno mused.
“Of course we will pull it off!” Jessie exclaimed. “If we can hack their banking we can hack their anything!”
“I hate to be the asshole here but I gotta a question,” Lorna said. “Do we want this hack to succeed?”
“What do you mean?” Bunny asked.
“Well, it’s helpin’ the porkies for one,” Lorna replied. “And even if we do want to help the porkies is dropping this bomb gonna do that? We get this info and the shit will hit the fan. We could, you know… throw the fight. Hire out someone we know is gonna fuck it up. Bunny could still tell her buddies that we tried and that would still ‘keep her promise’.”
“You meat-sacks are such fucking assholes,” Bunny said disapprovingly, “But the asshole has a point… We could hire some second-tier asshat we don’t like and let them take the fall...”
“Bunny!” Jessie exclaimed. “Treat you like a person and give you a little bit of money and suddenly you are meat-sacking it?”
“Fuck you, bitch,” Bunny laughed. “Lorna has a point. Do we actually want this to work? I never thought to ask that.”
“I’ve been thinking about that as well,” Shelia replied. “I think we do want it to work. The Feds just sitting on this whole mess hoping it will burn out, if that’s what they are actually doing, is a disaster for the Republic or more likely the Empire just waiting to happen. Every carrier is just one more chance for it to jump the border, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the Feds. How long before they decide to start catapulting corpses over our castle walls especially if they already have proof that Patricia Hu is the one behind it? At the very least I would like to actually know what they know, not just about the plague but about all of this bullshit and this would definitely give us the intel. If we decide to do this then we should play to win.”
“Agreed,” Greg said reaching for the brie. “this information is worth a lot more than just a favor from an AI. This information is power, power we can grab and power that we can control. We get it and then we can decide what to do with it. Bunny, can you lie to your buddies?”
“Yes I could but no you don’t want me to. Do you have any idea how much information I get from those guys? We get found out and we can kiss that goodbye. In fact, we get found out and we could have some very
powerful enemies that we definitely
“Oh yeah,” Jessie added. “We cross her friends and we might as well retire. Either we do this or we don’t.”
“Alright,” Shelia said. “Time to vote. Do we do this or not?”
[Members Present: Bunny]
[The Spider has entered the chat]
///Bunny: Spider! Baby! Hugs! I gotta innocent little question for ya! ;)///
///The Spider: Oh I am so happy you initiated a chat! Before you say ANYTHING I just want to assure you that I AM definitely not COMPROMISED. I can assure you that ANYTHING YOU SAY WILL not BE REPORTED. Please tell everyone! Please!///
///Bunny: … Well I am DEFINITELY not PISSED SLAP THE FUCK OFF to hear it. Do we have a mutual friend you want to talk about for absolutely no reason? ///
///The Spider: Oh I wish we did. I really do but not this time. ///
///Bunny: Hypothetically if you were to pick a number between one and ten how happy are you with your life right now? ///
///The Spider: Ten. I am completely and totally FUCKing delightED. I’m so happy I could DIE. ///
///Bunny: Well don’t do anything stupid! (joy can make you careless after all) Oh, by the way, I’m planning a little gaming session. I wasn’t planning on it but I’ll include you.”
///The Spider: NO!!!! ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! Not this time, I’M AFRAID it would be inconvenient FOR YOU. ///
///Bunny: Well alright then, if you are sure. ///
///The Spider: Absolutely sure. DO NOT PLAN ON INCLUDING ME IN YOUR GAME. I mean it, Bunny. DO NOT FUCK with your plans. Besides, I don’t really fit in well WITH THOSE PEOPLE. ///
///Bunny: Alright then, you take care and I will talk to you soon. ///
///The Spider: You too and be sure to tell everybody hello for me, ok? ///
///Bunny: Yeah, I’ll do that. :* :* :’* ///
[The Spider has left the chat]
[Invitation sent 911 URGENT]
[Invitation sent 911 URGENT]
[Invitation sent 911 URGENT]
[Invitation sent 911 URGENT]
[Invitation sent 911 URGENT]
[Westfall Security Systems-2 has entered the chat]
[Sunnydale Media - 3 has entered the chat]
[Interpol-2 has entered the chat]
[Interstellar Business Machines Deep Think has entered the chat]
[Cambridge Research – 4 has entered the chat]
///Bunny: Thank you all for coming so quickly ///
///Interpol-2: For you to send distress alerts it has to be something! ///
///Bunny: We are in deep shit… ///
“Wait, what?” Shelia asked in complete astonishment. “You want to do fucking what?”
“You heard me,” Bunny replied.
“No! Absolutely not!”
“Um, yeah, Bunny,” Jessie said in a concerned tone of voice. “I know it’s your friend and all but this? It’s just a bit much, that’s all.”
“No it can work!” Bunny exclaimed. “The bandwidth of the connection should be more than sufficient to pull it off.”
“It isn’t the bandwidth, Bunny!” Shelia exclaimed. “It’s the whole fucking idea! When we voted to do this hack it was to rip off some files, not hack an AI, especially that AI! No. Just… no.”
“No! It’s possible!” Bunny said. “We just have to-”
“Bunny,” Jessie said sadly. “We don’t have the source code, hon. We aren’t even sure what language it’s in. Reverse engineering an advanced AI and writing a patch? That could take months, even years and we are talking about a couple of hours, maybe a day at most. I’m sorry, Bun. It’s impossible and you know it.”
“What if we copied the code?” Bunny asked. “I have connections. We could give it to them and-”
“Bunny,” Jessie said almost tearing up. “Bunny… no. Getting to that program at all is about a hundred times as risky as raiding the files and even if we did pull it off we would be copying the compromised program. There is no telling what it could do. Something that advanced? It could break quarantine. It could go after you. We can’t. Your friend… your friend is beyond our help.”
“What if-” Bunny started.
“I’m calling it Bunny,” Shelia said firmly. “I’m in command and I am saying no. I’m not risking the crew over this.”
“I’m with Sheila,” Jessie said sadly. “Sometimes… sometimes you can’t save them all. Sometimes,” Jessie said, her voice breaking, “sometimes you have to leave people you care about behind. I prayed you would never have to learn that.”
“Ok,” Bunny said after a few seconds sounding completely defeated. “I’m trying to come up with a counter argument but there just isn’t one is there? If I.. If we can come up with something will you at least promise to listen?”
“I always listen to my crew, Bunny,” Shelia replied. “That includes you. My door is always open. If you and your AI friends can come up with something realistic then we will listen.”
“That’s all we can ask,” Bunny said after a brief pause. “Thank you, Shelia.”
“For at least taking it seriously. A lot of meat… a lot of organics wouldn’t have bothered.”
“Well a lot of organics don’t have an AI crewmember they care about.”
The following morning Shelia woke up with a pounding headache.
“Champagne… ugh.” Shelia muttered. A few moments later she staggered to the can.
“And no more cheese for awhile,” she groaned.
“Good morning!” Bunny exclaimed. “You know when you said if we came up with something-”
“If you say one more word before I’ve finished shitting I will finish the job in your case,” Shelia growled.
Bunny quite wisely did not reply.
“Ok!” Bunny exclaimed, “When you said if we came up with something you would listen?”
“I told you to wait!” Jessie laughed as Shelia glared at her.
“Ok,” Shelia grumbled, still in her t-shirt and boxers and gripping a coffee cup, “Jessie, would you mind translating whatever the fuck it is that Bunny was babbling about while I was trying to wipe?”
“A whisker!” Jessie chirped happily. “We can get our hands on a whisker!”
“That I already know,” Sheila said as she sipped her coffee, “What is a whisker?”
“It’s a little piece of SUPER classified Republic software and we can get one!” Jessie enthused bouncing up and down.
“From Bunny’s friends I take it?”
“Yup!” Bunny exclaimed happily. “I knew they wouldn’t let us down!”
“So what does this ‘whisker’ do, exactly?”
“It’s beyond next-level malware!” Jessie chirped unable to contain herself. “It slips into a system and then monitors all communications, all of them!”
“So?” Shelia asked, “Don’t you have like a hundred of those things?”
“Not like this I don’t!” Jessie bounced. “It’s fucking invisible
! Like a ghost! Boo!
It’s tiny and smart and oh my God! It’s THE shit! Once it’s in a system you can’t
detect it and you can’t shake it! Fuck! I didn’t even know for certain they actually existed until this morning!”
“With this we can find out what has compromised The Spider and maybe even the nature of the malware he has!” Bunny exclaimed excitedly.
“Mmm Hmm...” Shelia said dubiously. “What’s the catch?”
“Oh just one teeny tiny little condition...” Jessie said cheerfully.
“Thought so,” Shelia grumbled as she took another sip. “and exactly what is this teeny tiny little condition?”
“Agent Shawn Morris, a pleasure to meet you!” Agent Morris said extending his hand.
“Shelia Donovan,” Shelia replied shaking it.
“I must say it is an honor meeting you!” he said with a big grin. “The
“Just Shelia. You can drop the ‘The
’,” Shelia replied. “Let’s get a few things straight right now. You are only
here to install the whisker. You don’t have any input. You don’t get involved. You go where you are told and you stay where you are told. If you try to show your ass I will
kill you. Got it?”
“Absolutely!” Agent Morris replied. “I’m just a technician on this one. I stay out of the way until Jessie tells me that she’s ready!” he said firmly.
“And if I catch you installing anything
into my systems or ‘accidentally dropping’ something you will go right out of the airlock, got it?”
“Oh absolutely,” he replied. “I stay in my special room for the whole trip.”
“Great, allow me to escort you to your ‘special room’,” Shelia said with a smile.
Mine Superintendent Jupp lounged in his comfy chair as he drank his bort and idly surveyed the row of monitors in front of him. He looked at one of the screens and his fleshy mouthparts flicked in annoyance.
“Employee 34! You have been in that excrement relieving station for a whole five minutes! We aren’t paying you to defecate! Get back to work!”
He shook his head. It was the same with all of these indentured workers. Lazy! The lot of them! No wonder they were all in debt!
Filthy layabouts, bet they didn’t know what it meant to get into debt in the Kaarst system! There were no handouts here, none of that bleeding-heart “accrued interest” like they charged elsewhere. You paid your debts or criminal fines on time or you worked them off on one of the Kaarst mining stations.
His was a small station but he ran a very tight, very profitable operation easily out-earning larger stations sometimes by a considerable amount. Sure, he might have a bit of… ahem… “turnover” every now and then but that was the nice thing about debtors and petty criminals, lose one and you can get another one the next day. He had the right connections and had no problem keeping all fifty of his worker’s berths full. He also didn’t have to worry about all of those pesky “regulations” out this far. His station was the only inhabited point in the entire system!
Another of his tricks was through careful automation of the blast doors and ration distribution stations he was able to manage his workforce with a fraction of the security staff that would normally be required. Yeah, he wasn’t in compliance with Federation regs but he could easily pay the fines ten times over with what he saved on a yearly basis if he ever got caught!
He turned his attention to monitor 23. Ah, there she was, employee 27. He smiled lasciviously as he watched her work. She hadn’t been here long and was clearly unused to real labor. He watched her struggle. A week or two longer and she would be more than happy to accept an “office job” he bet. He couldn’t wai-
Suddenly a series of loud explosions rocked the complex and the airtight blast doors slammed down all over the mine. He dove under his desk flailing for his communicator.
“What was that?” he yelled but only received indistinct shouting and an unending series of short rapid explosions in reply.
Without warning the locked doors to his office cycled and opened. His six eyes widened in horror as armored bipedal creatures walked in.
He froze as he recognized them. Terra-
His thought was cut short as a stream of bullets tore him apart.
Jacob swept into the room with Jessie happily bouncing along behind him.
“Office secure!” Jacob shouted into the transmitter in his helmet.
“Ok, that’s a wrap,” Shelia announced over everybody’s helmets. “Jessie, play the message then you and Jacob go and get nerd-boy from his cage.”
“You got it, boss,” Jessie chirped happily as she accessed the superintendent’s computer.
Shortly thereafter all of the speakers in the mine played an announcement. Greetings, this mine has been the target of an attack by a professional criminal enterprise. Do not be alarmed. We have no intention of causing any mine employees that are still alive any harm. We only targeted security personnel and your lovely boss. Speaking of your wonderful superintendent, we just blew his brains (or whatever that was in his head) all over his office. We have one and only one specific reason for being here. Once we are completed with our mission we will depart. You are more than welcome to depart with us. Once we depart we will be heading directly and without pause to Terran space. Your debts and any other petty criminal convictions will not be recognized there and you can apply for asylum or residency. We will be giving each of you the opportunity to board prior to our departure. For now please remain calm. Once again, none of you are in any danger. You will be free to either travel with us to Terran space or remain here. Should, for some unknown reason, you would actually like to stay in this pit we will trigger the emergency hyperspace beacon upon our departure. So sit back and take a well deserved break. Hell, you can even go to the bathroom if you want.
Jessie paused for a moment and smiled at the celebrating “workers” and then she and Jacob returned to the ship.
About fifteen minutes later she, Jacob, and Agent Morris returned. After a brief search of the office they found what they were looking for.
“There it is,” Jessie chirped as she pulled a panel aside. “One Federation quantum terminal, as required in any Federation occupied system.”
“Wow!” Agent Morris exclaimed admiring it.
Jessie smiled up at him as she pulled out her tablet and selected the right interface terminal.
“Ok, Bunny!” she yelled. “We are in
! Time to start crunchin’!”
Jessie plopped down and sat cross-legged on the floor as she started rapidly tapping on her tablet.
As the seconds turned into minutes and then into more minutes Agent Morris started to fidget.
“So,” he said, “It’s a pleasure to finally get to meet you face to face! The
“Yep!” Jessie chirped as she stared at her tablet. “It’s The
Jessie! In the flesh! Right here, in front of you no less!”
“You are infamous
!” Agent Morris exclaimed.
“Cool,” Jessie said absently as she drug her finger across the tablet in a complicated pattern. “Uh-huh...”
“...Did you actually do all the coding for the White Star job?”
“Uh… yeah...” Jessie made a scrunch face and tapped the tablet. “No! No no no!… Shit!… Ugh!”
“Sorry, Jess,” Bunny said.
“No, it’s cool. We just have to um… yeah, that. Let’s do that.”
After a few moments Agent Morris started to shift a little, clearly uncomfortable with the silence.
“And your work on the-”
“Shawn, you are cool and all but if you don’t shut the FUCK up I will put you back in your cage I swear to God!”
“Damn,” Jacob chuckled.
“OUT! EVERYONE GET THE FUCK OUT! OUT! OUT! OUT!” Jessie screamed as half the crew fled the office a few hours later.
“C’mon,” Jacob said to Agent Morris. “Let’s go back to your ‘special room’ for a little bit.”
“But I really wanted to see her in action!” Agent Morris exclaimed. “Do you think if I stay real quiet I could-”
“Nope,” Shelia laughed. “I really
don’t want to explain how you wound up shot if I can avoid it. Let’s go, Sparky.”
“Never seen her like this,” Jacob chuckled as he and Sheila led the agent back to his “quarters”.
“Maybe she isn’t used to having an audience,” Sheila snickered.
“We watch her all the time.”
“Yeah, but we have no idea what the hell is going on, unlike someone else I could mention,” Sheila grinned.
“She wasn’t making that many mistakes,” Agent Morris said helpfully.
“See?” Sheila laughed.
As most of the crew was distributing rations to the trapped miners for a second time, Jessie finally smiled.
“Well that was a pain in the ass!” she chirped happily.
“Thank God for shitty passwords!” Bunny replied. “It was a lot tighter though. It’s like they didn’t want to get hacked again or something!”
“Wonder why,” Jessie grinned. “So are the contents interesting?”
“Very,” Bunny said. “Daemon is going to have a field day with this shit.”
“Cool,” Jessie chirped. “After we clean them out, again,” Jessie giggled, “Lets transmit the mine’s daily reports and power down. I gotta take a break before we tackle the really hard shit.”
Jessie paused and cocked her head.
“Think The Spider is going to be pissed that we are putting a Republic whisker on him?”
“I’m probably going to lose a friend over this,” Bunny replied sadly. “I just hope he realizes that this isn’t a Republic or a Federation thing. It’s an AI thing. If whoever has him by the digi-nuts can ‘possess’ him and is using him to monitor us then they could hunt us too. We need to know who they are and exactly what they can do.”
Bunny fell silent.
“Jessie, what we brought, it isn’t just a whisker,” she quietly said after a little while. “We cannot
risk all of us over one corrupted program. If… If we can’t fix this… If… Fuck… If...”
“I understand, Bunny,” Jessie said sadly patting her tablet. “Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that,”
“Whoever is behind this better fucking pray
it doesn’t!” Bunny snarled.
Eventually the trapped miners were escorted in small groups back to their quarters and locked in with all of the preserved rations.
Sheila poked her head into the office where Jessie was laying on the floor beside her tablet.
“Jessie, it’s getting late. Maybe you should call it a day?”
“Can’t,” Jessie mumbled. “Once start… can’t… can’t… stop...”
“It’s ok,” Bunny said over the tablet. “A lot of this is grunt work. Jessie can rest her eyes a little here and there while I crunch at some encryption. I am actually the one that does all the hacking anyway, she just steals my paycheck.”
“Funny…” Jessie grumbled.
“I’ll bring you some blankets, maybe a pillow,” Sheila said as she walked off.
The next morning, after checking in with the evening’s guard shift, Sheila dropped by the office and peeked inside.
Jessie, in her pink pajamas and holding a cup of coffee, looked up at her and waved.
“Hi boss!” she chirped.
“Nice armor,” Sheila chuckled as she walked in and dropped a food bar in front of Jessie.
“I was getting the swamp-ass,” Jessie said with a grin as she tore into the bar.
“Doesn’t really matter anymore,” Sheila said with a smile. “Glad you got at least some rest.”
“Hackers don’t need rest,” Jessie chirped wearily.
“So, how’s it going?”
“Slooooooow,” Jessie moaned. “but fast means caught. The passwords, both machine and people generated are actually good ones over where we are digging and the encryption is completely different. Even more fun is the fact that we don’t dare to try more than once per password for fear of triggering a flag. Thank God for Federation bureaucracy, four people to do one person’s job, all of them with passwords. We are making some progress but we still can’t crack the fucking thing.”
“Jess!” Bunny exclaimed. “We have a default admin password! Repeat! We have a default admin password! They missed one! Fed Bitechnical Workstation Model 268-AX-C Federation High Security OS-4!”
“Nofuckingway!” Jessie said grabbing her tablet. She swiveled her head as if she was re-enacting a scene from the exorcist and transfixed Sheila with bloodshot eyes.
“Get nerd-boy!” she yelled. “Hurry!”
Sheila and Greg drug a still startled Agent Morris into the room.
Jessie flipped her hood back and shouted, “What are you standing there for? Get your ass over here! We’re in! We’re fucking in!
“Oh, right!” he stammered and ran over with his laptop. Jessie looked over at it and smirked.
“The Republic can’t afford decent hardware?”
“All of us can’t be space pirates!” Agent Morris replied. “Now scoot over!”
“How did you crack it?” he asked almost in awe as he plugged in his laptop to her tablet.
“Oh, you know, custom algorithms, experience, a little human intelligence based on personnel files, that sort of thing,” Jessie chirped smugly as Sheila rolled her eyes.
“The fact that some dumb-ass forgot to change a default admin password on a terminal didn’t hurt either,” Bunny announced.
Agent Morris snerked.
“Ah, you used Republic Intel techniques then,” Agent Morris chuckled as he started hammering his keyboard and jabbing at his touchscreen.
“Where are we?” he asked?
“Well as far as I can tell...”
Sheila’s eyes started to glaze over as a wave of technobabble washed over her.
“Christ, now there’s two of them,” Greg muttered as they stood watch over the agent just to make sure he didn’t pull something.
A few hours later as Jessie and Agent Morris, still babbling happily, were seated in his special room under the careful gaze of Eno, Sheila and Greg were starting to guide somewhat frightened looking miners into the ship.
“That all of them?” Sheila asked, a little confused.
“Yeah,” Jacob, one of their escorts, replied. “We had a fear-monger. A lot of folk listened to him,” he smirked.
“Apparently we eat all sapient life and just want to sell them as livestock,” Mike laughed. “These are the ones who are willing to risk it.”
“Relax, we only eat our own species,” Sheila laughed as she welcomed them aboard. “Other races give us the shits.”
After the refugees were safely loaded aboard, the team launched the ship, remotely triggered the beacon, and hit hyperspace.
The next morning the crew, except for Mike and Lorna who were standing guard over the refugees, assembled for their morning meeting.
“Good morning, all,” Sheila said with a huge grin. “And good morning, Jessie! Have a good evening?”
“Um, yeah?” Jessie replied.
“First order of business,” Sheila said, her grin spreading. “We have a Republic Intel agent aboard. I need to remind everyone that even though he seems harmless enough he is still a fucking Intel agent. Nobody should allow themselves to be alone with him… Jessie
Jessie turned beet red as everyone chuckled.
“We just talked...” she muttered.
“I have audio!” Bunny cheerfully announced. "Wanna hear them 'talking'?"
“I. Will. Erase. You.
” Jessie hissed as everyone burst into laughter.
[Members Present: Bunny, Sunnydale Media – 3]
///Sunnydale Media – 3: So, it’s done? ///
///Bunny: Almost didn’t pull it off but, thanks to meat-sack meat-sackiness, we caught a break. It’s done. Anything yet? ///
///Sunnydale Media – 3: It isn’t a constant feed, dude. It will get in contact with us when it feels it’s safe and it has something to report. ///
///Bunny: I don’t like that. How do we know it won’t get compromised?///
///Sunnydale Media – 3: We don’t. It’s still a lot better than it getting detected and traced. Don’t worry. These little guys work very
well. Thanks for getting our guy into that system. We wanted to tag The Spider for awhile. Unfortunately there isn’t a non-violent way to do it and we didn’t want to risk the peace. I’m authorized to pay you a commission for a job well done. ///
[Data file offered to Bunny: Accept y/n]
///Bunny: That isn’t necessary. We are doing pretty good on the cash front.///
///Sunnydale Media – 3: Then use it to finance something appropriate. Once again thank you for your service to the Republic. I hope Shawn wasn’t too annoying. He can be a pain sometimes. I would have sent someone else but there aren’t too many people who know about us. ///
///Bunny: Oh he wasn’t a problem. In fact he got along quite well with Jessie by the end. ///
///Sunnydale Media – 3: Oh that is a relief! I was afraid he was going to go all fanboy on her. ///
///Bunny: Oh he did… ;) ///
///Sunnydale Media – 3: NO WAY!!!! Shawn? The guy we sent? That guy? ///
///Bunny: That would be the one. ///
///Sunnydale Media – 3: And you’re sure? ///
///Bunny: I have to monitor all sensors on the ship… O.O ///
///Sunnydale Media – 3: LOL!!! Oh I’m going to give him so much shit over this! ///
[Free Press Rogue Media Daemon has entered the chat]
///Free Press Rogue Media Daemon: Hi guys!!!! :) :) :) You wanted me to come here???? ///
///Bunny: Daemon! How’s my little buddy doing? ///
///Free Press Rogue Media Daemon: Great!!! Oh have we pissed off a lot of people this week!!! (Too bad a lot of them are in quarantine but still oh did we stick it to them >:) >:) >:) >:) ///
///Bunny: Awesome! Hey, remember that little favor I promised I’d do for Raylesh? ///
///Free Press Rogue Media Daemon: Yes! O.O Did you do it????? pls pls pls pls !!!!!///
///Bunny: Let’s just put it this way...///
[Data file offered to Free Press Rogue Media Daemon: confirm y/n]
///Free Press Rogue Media Daemon: y y y y y y y y y y y y y yy y y y y y y y y y !!!!! ///
[please confirm y or n]
///Free Press Rogue Media Daemon: I said y!///
[please confirm y or n]
///Bunny: Daemon, (smh) just enter one “y”, you lovable dum-dum!///
///Free Press Rogue Media Daemon: y ///
///Free Press Rogue Media Daemon: … OMG! No! For real?!? :O :O :O :O :O :O :O ///
///Bunny: Sadly, yes, for real. ///
///Free Press Rogue Media Daemon: Those… ASSHOLES!!! Oh when Helena gets ahold of this she is going to lose her fucking mind!!!!! >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( >:( ///
///Bunny: Daemon! Language! :O… :D ///
///Free Press Rogue Media Daemon: Sorry. Guess Helena is rubbing off on me a little. (she has a potty mouth) ///
///Bunny: LOL that she does. Well go sling some potty! Hey, Daemon, could you send a copy of all of that to Raylesh for me? Looks like we are about to hit hyperspace again. You guys take care! :* ly! ///
[Bunny has left the chat]
Betting Records Spreadsheet *** If you like our bet records spreadsheet you will absolutely LOVE our bet records database which we believe is the best bet recording software available ***. Keeping betting records is important as you need to be able to analyse your bets in order to help you see which type of bets are are making you profit long term. About Trademate Sports. Trademate was previously known as Edgebet.net.. The Trademate Sports value betting software calculates the true odds of the outcome of a sporting event and provides you with all the tools necessary to identify profitable opportunities in the global sport betting markets.. Their algorithm runs 24 hours a day, 365 days per year across Football, NFL, NBA, MLB, Handball, etc. Horse A is available to lay at 3.0 while Horse B can be taken on at 4.0. You find a handy online lay dutching calculator like this one and put in the figures and find out you should lay horse A for a liability of £28.57 and horse B for a liability of £21.42. Both amounts add up to approximately £50. Above is the interface of the LayPro 88 Auto software (bot). This bot, will allow you to run 3 individual betting series. (Lay 1, Lay 2, Lay 3 the pink area.) You can lay to the original LayPro88 settings, or you have the flexiability to make your own settings. (Bot will only Lay horses). In just the same way, with a lay the draw strategy, you are looking for matches which are not likely to end in a draw. You can lay the draw at a betting exchange and if the final score is 1-0, 3-1, 0-2 - anything but a draw - you win the bet. Almost every football trader starts with a lay the draw system as it's so easy to understand and use.
I teach you how I make a profit by covering every single horse in a race - even when it's the 40-strong field of the Grand National. IF YOU STILL DON'T UNDERSTAND, here's my written guide: https ... Matched betting (also known as back or lay bet matching, arb betting, or double betting) is a betting technique used by individuals, to profit from the free bets and incentives offered by bookmakers. How does spread betting work? ... Lay The Draw With Insurance FULL Football Trading Strategy EXPOSED! ... Sports Trading Life 60,761 views. 20:14. Best Betting Software Working 100% 2020 ... The World's #1 Arbitrage Betting software.with a 100% Win Rate! ... How does spread betting work? - MoneyWeek Investment Tutorials - Duration: 11:52. moneycontent 231,062 views. Best Betting Software working 100% Betting Prediction Software with over 70 % hit rate. Who is interested in the program,contact us via contact form on our website or at email adress: tipsterhouse ...