CHEVALIER DE LA

CROIX NOIR

                                                     By 

                                                  Arthur 

 
CHAPTER 5


BY ARTHUR.


AUTHORS CONTACT:

artcart65@gmail.com


I looked around the room at all the expectant faces, everybody there had
been with me at the start of this little rebellion that was now looking as
though it was going towards being a takeover of the galaxy from the
Corporations, this was not what I had originally envisioned nor really
wanted, running something this big was way beyond my capabilities, again I
looked at all the faces as they smiled at what must have been a shocked
look on my usually impassive face.

Everyone seemed to be busy with something else as I looked at all the
faces, Santos was sitting in a large chair, a glass of rum in one hand and
a look on his face like a cat that has just eaten two chickens and slurped
a bowl of cream, Kratos was in another chair with the small figure of Ellis
sitting in his lap, he also looked very pleased with himself, my three
Brothers were trying to look at everything else in the room but me and
tried to look innocent, the other boys were all seated and watching me like
hawks, the smile on their faces told me more than I needed to know.

“Ok, how long have you guys known about all this?”

“About a week, Commander Sargasso.” Tiger said through his smile.

“And none of you thought to tell me about it?”

“The Admiral swore us to secrecy, besides you have been so busy we
didn’t want to bother you.”

The look on Tiger’s face told me he was lying through his teeth, it was
easy to know when he was lying, he didn’t use swear words.

“Right, let’s have it all out in the open and stop calling me
Commander, you know I hate that sort of thing.”

“Yes Commander.” They all chorused together and then burst out into
laughter until finally Santos relented and began to explain all that was
going on.

“I can’t tell you everything yet, you will have to meet with the
representatives of the Galactic Council for that but, what I can tell you
is this, we have been under supervision for a lot of years by the Council,
they have named our Galaxy, Sol 447, they are not allowed to interfere
directly in any Galaxies affairs unless there is a possibility of Galactic
War, our Galaxy is coming close to that.”

Santos paused to think things through again then continued.

“For some time you were under observation by a Council Member, they
decided that you were the one to lead the rebellion against the
Corporations so they set things in motion with that aim in mind, now as
they said, they cannot get directly involved with the upcoming rebellion
but they can assist in some ways to make it easier for us to win, example
the new Ion Drives we are now using, Gareth is also part of their system of
assistance, Professor Langton built him under their instructions and
designs.”

“So just how long has this all been going on, Santos?”

“Since about thirty years before your selection to the Knights, you were
groomed then to come to this place and take over, I have known about it for
the last twenty years, that’s mostly the reason I set up my departure
from the Galactic Navy ten years ago, the Council has been planning and
watching our Galaxy for over two hundred years.”

“So what else is on the agenda?”

“First we have to get more crews, especially fighter pilots, Gareth has
already opened the other production levels and they are now in full swing,
the Jump Ship, which will be our main mobile base is already under
construction out on the other side of the Rim, Gareth has sent five hundred
droids to work on her, I’ll let him detail everything else as far as
equipment goes, for us it is a matter of getting new crews and training
them, we also have to keep the pressure on the Corporations to keep them
off guard.”

“It sounds as though you want to take over the reins, you have more idea
of what’s going on than I do and frankly it seems too much for me to
handle.”

“Not on your Nelly Sargasso, I’ve got all I can handle with our new
fleet, your three brothers will be doing a lot of intrusions and your young
Knights will need to look after our recruitment of pilots, you have the
unenviable task of running it all from here.”

“What about Kratos, he seems to be the only one left out.”

“He hasn’t been forgotten, again it was planned he would give up his
hunting and come here, believe me Sargasso, the Council can influence
certain events if it’s needed, now Kratos will have a special job to do
when things get really interesting and we are out in the open and fronting
up to the Corporations, Kratos will be seen as the head and leader of the
rebellion, he will be our public face on all the news casts so we have to
keep him under wraps for now so they don’t get ideas of sending a Black
Knight to kill him in his bed.”

Everyone but me burst out laughing as Santos said that, I could only think
of how we could have come to this, it was just a shot at Sega Corp, that
was all I wanted and now I had a group on so called friends and some
unknown Council, directing me to an open rebellion against the
Corporations, this was really not what I had had in mind when I thought
about this fourteen years ago on my day of selection.

Tiger was the first one to break the silence.

“We have a plan to get more pilots, if you say it’s ok to go ahead?”

“Tell me?”

“Us boys go back to our own planets and recruit all the boys we can get,
we will take our fighters in the Admirals Cruiser like before, he is having
two of his shuttles worked on and adding Stealth Modes, they will be
stripped down to fit as many boys as we can get, each of us goes to his own
planet and begins recruiting then tells the Admiral to send down the
shuttles when we have enough boys hired on.”

“Aren’t you forgetting you came from a Juvie centre?”

“Nope, we will go in with Shadow Suits, they will never see us, on the
Juvie side there are only ten guards at any one time, by using some of the
Corporations gold credits we can get the adults to start something, it will
give us a chance to get rid of the guards and break out most of the boys
who want to come, once they are into the shuttles we will be out of there
and on to the next place, the brothers say they know a lot of street kids
that would love to get a chance to go against the Corporations and the
other two say they have no problems getting plenty of boys off the
Concourse for the same reason, if all goes well we can have a few thousand
new pilots in no time, the Corporation doesn’t know it but there is an
army out there waiting for a chance to strike back if they only get the
chance.”

“You know it’s going to be dangerous to take so many away from the
Corporation planets.”

“So is living in Juvie or on the streets or working your ass off on the
Concourse.” Panther said; all the others nodded in agreement.

“Ok, if you think you can succeed then go for it but make sure you
don’t wear your Skerrit Armour, that’s a dead giveaway, put those
Kevlar suits back on and your Shadow suits over that, Santos, how long
until your shuttles will be ready?”

“Another five days, we’ve got a lot of droids working on the
alterations now, the boys fighters will be their cover while in transit to
the planet surface, but in Stealth Mode they should not have any trouble,
it’s only while they are on the ground and loading the boys on that they
will have to keep their eyes open but I will be up top watching over them.”

“Ok, good enough, now what’s this new ship going to be like?”

“The Jump Ship is a design from the Council, it will have ten Ion
engines to power it and have the capacity to hanger fifty Battle Cruisers,
one hundred and fifty Cruisers, three hundred Frigates and over four
thousand fighters, we are also rebuilding two of the old freighters to be
base ships for some of the fighters, they will also be gun platforms.”

“Just how big is this Jump Ship?”

“Big, very big, that’s why we have to build it out off the Rim and
not in any of the workshops; they are just not big enough to do it.”

“That doesn’t tell me how big it is Santos so stop pissing about and
tell me?”

“Jesus Sargasso, you spoil all the fun, I wanted it to be a surprise
when you first see it.”

“I don’t like surprises, now for fucks sake just tell me.”

“Ok spoil sport, it has ten 7765 Ion engines, that’s to say each one
is about three times the size of any you have seen so far, they are mounted
on a three, four, three format and are attached to the main body by a
system of long poles, the main body is like a standard ship in that it is
the old cigar shape, it is seventeen kilometres long and three in diameter,
that’s where most of the ship hangers are, at the front it is like a
large open oblong mouth, above that is the command and control centre, it
is oval in shape and looks a little like a flat cap on top of the main
hull, this is mostly control rooms, accommodation and weapons platform, it
is half a kilometre high, three kilometres wide and five kilometres long,
like I said, it is BIG.”

“Huh, sounds like it, so how old are we going to be before it is ready
to use, sounds like I will be an old man before it is done.”

“Not as long as you may think, most of the work we have to do is in the
outfitting, the hull and drives came from the Council, as it was not armed
or at that time a ship that could be used immediately as a fire platform,
it was allowed to be sent by the Council, they were not directly involved
in outfitting it for a fight, it was just a hull and drives with no
specific use, so they have not broken their rules about interfering in our
affairs, we will finish the fitting out in about two months, Gareth has
lower production levels 6,7,8 and 9 going full speed on fighter production,
lower levels 10 and 11 are now in full production of armaments for the Jump
Ship and the two new mobile hanger ships.”

“So where are we going to get all the extra Battle Cruisers and other
ships for the Jump Ship?”

“All those from the Rim that are not overseeing the droids on the Jump
Ship are working on the other ships, Gareth has already sent over a
thousand extra droids to help with that, all his lower levels are now in
full production, you would be surprised at how much they can turn out, he
has other droids out in the belt picking up asteroids and mining the larger
ones for metals and minerals to keep the workshops going.”

“Is there anything else or should I just go and sleep for a few years
while you all have your little war?”

“The Federation Flag.” Tiger said.

“We don’t have one.”

“We do now.” Scorpion said as he held up a large piece of cloth for
me to see. “What do you think, Commander Sargasso?”

I looked at the flag as he and Tiger unrolled it, it was plain to see
Scorpion was the one who came up with the idea, he was the only one who had
real artistic talent, the flag was a plain green background, at the centre
were the two overlaid crosses, around them was a circle of five yellow
stars, I looked it over and had to admit it was rather impressive for a
flag.

“So tell me what it all means?”

“The green is for the colour of free grass, the Crosses are for the
Knights, the five stars represent the base, the three moons of the Rim and
the central sun of our solar system, so what do you think Sargasso?”
Scorpion asked.

“Perfect, where are we going to fly it?”

“Well we can’t yet, it would let the Corporations know too much too
soon, we will paint it on the tail of every ship in the fleet alongside the
Knights Crosses.” Santos told me.

“Well I guess it’s time for a rebellion, lets’ go over the boys
pickups one more time, I don’t want anything to go wrong and I think one
more Battle Cruiser should go with you just for safety sake.”

“Sounds good, ok we get underway as soon as the shuttles are finished,
we need those new pilots as fast as possible, they have to be trained and I
think a few augmentations with nanites would not go astray either.”

As I finished the little speech everybody seemed to relax and settle back,
it had been a tense meeting without realising it, it now seemed we were in
the hands of some unknown Council and were about to start a Galactic
rebellion, so much for a quick revenge and then retirement.

It seemed time did not want to stand still, before I knew what had happened
the boys were taking off in their ships to meet with Santos and the Battle
Cruiser away from the base, the shuttles were ready for their pickups and
the many voluntary trainers were going over last minute details of the
schedule for when the new boys arrived, the long periods of peace and quiet
were now a thing of the past, the asteroid seemed to throb with power and
activity every hour of the day and night as Gareth put his base on high
alert and mass production.

It took nearly a month before the Battle Cruiser, now filled to capacity
with new recruits, arrived back at the base, as the sometimes ragged
looking assortment of boys from every dark place in the Galaxy walked from
the Battle Cruiser now parked in one of the massive cradles in lower hanger
1, the one hundred instructors waited patiently.

Every consideration was to be given to those boys who had either family or
special friends with them, we were not a forced labour camp and we wanted
the new boys to feel safe and give them hope, it was a time when they
needed some sort of proof that their lives had changed for the better, in
the war of the rebellion that was to come, some would never return, we were
not going to keep the danger from them but if we could give them at least
some form of hope for a good future them we had to do it.

Looking around the vast hanger at the numerous boys still dressed as they
had been when they left their homes, it was easy to pick out the Juvies of
Terra, they still wore their yellow jump suits, the mass of boys from the
Concourse were also still in the skimpy clothes they usually wore and those
from the planet Kramer 04 looked as though they had just had a shower for
the first time, their clothes were the usual torn scraps of anything they
could find to wear.

Each group kept themselves slightly apart from the others, it would not be
long before the trainers had them all working together but first they had
to know what they were in for both from the dangerous side and the
advantageous side, it looked as though everyone including those who were
now part of the new rebellion, were waiting for something, it then startled
me to realise they were waiting for me to make some sort of welcome speech
to the new boys, it was something else I was not very happy about, I did
not like speeches.

I looked out over the mass of boys, there had to be well over three
thousand and I was sure that in time there would be more to come, it was
strange to look at the young faces watching me, some with apprehension,
some with fear, others with hope but all with a look of being somehow lost
in the massively impressive hanger.

“Welcome boys, you have volunteered to come here, who we are may not be
what you were expecting and what our future may be is at this time is very
unpredictable, we have called ourselves The Federation of Free Traders,
what we really are is the beginnings of a rebellion against the greed and
power of the Corporations.”

I paused to look out over the thousands of young faces, some, like those
from the Juvie facility on Terra, were really young, in fact they were not
much more than boys not quite yet into puberty but they all stood silently
and listened.

“Now is the time I will ask you to think over what I have said so far,
if you don’t want to get into this fight then you can leave now, we will
fly you back to your planet and you can go your own way, if you decide to
stay here with us then we will do everything in our power to train and look
after you, you will be well fed, well clothed and well trained, you will
also be given your own fighter and trained how to use it, if you think this
is fun just think on what could happen if you are captured or, which is the
most probable, killed by the Corporation forces?”

I paused again to watch the faces closest to me, there did not seem to be
much fear in them only a look of savage revenge for their past lives, a
young teen from Kramer 04 raised his hand above the multitude, I pointed to
him.

“Yes, you have something you want to ask?”

“Yeah Mister, when is the talking over and we get to eat, I came here
with my friends for the food, the fucking and the fight so let’s get to
it.”

It started as a soft tittering and before long it was a loud raucous echo
of boyish laughter as they all nodded and called out at the same time, it
looks as though I had little doubt now why they were here, with a smile on
my face I motioned for the trainers to move down among the boys and start
to sort them out, it was time to head to the upper levels and get them
settled.

On our return to the upper levels, the base seemed a more positive and
friendly place, the many large barracks were now filled with new boys,
store rooms that even I had not known of were now opened by Gareth,
suddenly there was a feeling of home in the base, while at the same time
there was an undercurrent of order and purpose.

The boys were lined up in long files, they were then told to strip off all
their old clothes and put them in a disposal shute where they would be
taken by Gareth and reconstituted into something else we could use, none of
the boys seemed in the least shy at this order, once they were all naked,
they stepped into a small alcove where Gareth took all their details and
the clothing was issued to fit them, they were then told to return to their
barracks where they could all shower and get clean, they would then dress
in their new uniforms and go to eat in the large dining hall.

Their new clothes consisted of a normal black jump suit with the logo of
the double cross along with a new pair of Kevlar boots, they were also
issued with all their own personal equipment for washing and keeping clean,
as well as this basic dress, they all received their flight suits, these
were made also from Kevlar but had the added fittings of a survival pack,
they were also designed to take the high G forces of fighter manoeuvres,
looking at some of the young faces I could already see the beginnings of
pride showing on their young faces and their general demeanour.

After a huge meal laid on by Gareth’s droids, the boys were then taken
to the five infirmaries, there they received Gareth’s latest experiment,
he had used both his genetic laboratory and his engineering section and
come up with a new nanite that would be used to give the boys some
advantages over other fighter pilots of the Corporations Galactic Navy.

The injection of the new nanite would work overnight to increase the
strength of neural pathways already in the boys brain for sight and
hand/eye co-ordination, as well as this it would create a new neural
pathway that would enhance reaction times, it was not needed for the boys
to have the technology that the first group had, they would not be going
into places where they needed titanium implants, by the next morning, the
new boys would start their training for when their new fighters were ready.

Another week passed and then came the time when the new fighters were ready
for the boys to try for the first time, they had spent the last week in
intensive training both on communications and tactics, there were also the
finer points of flying a fighter of this nature, each Positronic brain in
the fighter would have to be matched with the young pilot when he took over
the small fast craft.

It took another five days before every boy in the base had been matched to
his fighter, now it was time to see what they had learned, the new plan for
training had been to get away from the strict adherence to the protocols of
the Galactic Navy and to let the boys use their own heads within the
parameters of the overall plan.

The fighters were set out as flights of four not three as we had used in
the past, there was one nominated as lead pilot and the other three flew
one each side and one behind, there were then ten flights to a squadrons,
an older pilot was put in charge of this and would oversee the tactics of
the whole squadron when in action, he would be in a Frigate at the centre.

In addition ten Squadrons were then arranged into one Wing, this gave them
the force of four hundred fighters if a mass attack was needed, the wing
was overseen by another older officer who had once been in the Galactic
Navy, he would again be at the centre in one of the Cruisers, around him
would be four others which formed a Corp and overseeing them would be one
of the Battle Cruisers, the Battle Cruisers would be Captained by myself
and one each of my Brother Knights, over all of us would be Santos in the
soon to be completed Jump Ship.

The others had at first wanted me to stay at the base out of the way of
ordinary fighting but that was not my way, Santos had the experience and
knowledge to run an army of this size so it was better he did what he was
best at, I was trained to fight and to kill it was better than wasting away
hiding in an armed base, finally they relented and let me take one of the
Battle cruisers, at least with the weapons and armour of those mighty ships
I had a good chance of surviving any attack by the Navy.

The time for our first foray against the Galactic Navy was drawing closer,
both old and young men came from the Rim to join in crewing the new
Frigates and Cruisers, most had been brought up with these types of ships
all their lives while out on the Rim, the young teens and boys of the
fighter squadrons were primed and eager for their first strike against the
mighty Corporations that had subjected them to lives that were less than
slaves, the testosterone running through the base and the ships was almost
palpable in the air.

Through Ferris and Ganius intensive searching, we had found all of the
Major planetary system had pulled in large numbers of Galactic Naval ships
to protect the home worlds of the Corporations and their owners, although
this took a large number of Naval ships they still had more than enough to
mount serious armadas against us if we made a mistake, our numbers were big
but theirs were overwhelming if it came to a knock down drag out fight, we
had to use our advantages in weaponry and tactics to make up for the lack
of total numbers.

Once the fighting started it would not mean an end to the production lines,
they would continue and we could only hope that, as we made inroads, if we
made inroads, we would have more people join us in trying to bring down the
monopolies of the Corporations, we could not be sure there would be any
uprising of the ordinary people of the galaxy, they had been subjected to
the power of the Corporations for over three hundred years, all we could do
is try, we had no room for failure unlike the Corporations.

That night, as I lay with my once hard tool slowly wilting in the tightness
of Snake, I thought of the possibility of us losing, it was something I had
to take into account, the chances were all on the side of the Mega
Corporations that ran the Galaxy, the only thing we had in our favour was
the element of surprise, they had no knowledge of our size and strength,
tomorrow was another day, hopefully it would be a good one, it was the day
that the new Jump Ship would arrive, I pulled the semi awake form of Snake
closer and tried for one more effort in his hot tight hole.

When the morning arrived I was thankful for Gareth, with him in control of
the base and the major weapons systems, I had little to do on the
administration side of the base, I was thankful for that, it was one thing
I had never been any good at, there was no way I could sit for hours at a
time at a desk and read through meaningless piles of paper and files, my
job was fighting, Gareth was welcome to the admin job.

The arrival of the new Jump Ship was imminent, Santos had said they would
be here in time for lunch, slowly all the barracks emptied and there was a
sense of anticipation as the time came closer to the arrival of our heavy
weapons ship, all training had been suspended for this one arrival, none of
us quite knew what to expect, we knew the ship was larger than anything
ever built in this universe and that the Corporations had nothing to come
even close to its fight and flight abilities, this new ship was to be our
ace in the hole.

The normal early morning hush was soon broken by the sound of loud claxons,
flashing red alert lights and the loud steady voice of Gareth.

“All personnel, all personnel, this is a red alert warning, all viable
flight crews to their ships, all pilots not yet with a ship are to report
to the nearest Cruiser for assignment.”

The Android Gareth appeared through the door with Ellis in tow.

“What is it Gareth, are we under attack?”

“No commander, this is a call from Admiral Santos, all flight crews are
to assemble in battle order at the 10,000 kilometre mark, those new fighter
crews not yet issued with their fighters are to join the Cruiser or Battle
Cruiser crews until their ships are ready, Admiral Santos wants every
crewman at the mark.”

“Thank you Gareth.”

“That requirement also includes all members of the Knights, Commander.”

“Damn the man, now what’s he up too?”

“I do not know Commander, I am sure you will find out when he arrives in
the next hour.”

There was no answer to that so I turned and went to find my Brothers and
the rest of the boys, we might as well do what Santos asked although the
idea of waking us all up with a red alert status was not my idea of a fun
morning.

As the full armada began to form up out at the 10,000 kilometre mark, I
looked over our new F.F.T. forces, at the head station were our group of
Knights, the ten boys in their fighters around us in formation, even Ellis
and Android Gareth were with us in my ship, behind us in five tiers were
the mass of fighters both from the Cruisers and Battle Cruisers as well as
the large number who would be joining the new converted freighter gunships,
the number was staggering.

Behind the fighters were twenty new Frigates and behind those the six new
Cruisers which were soon to be joined by those built out on the Rim, it
would give us a total of fifteen Cruisers at this stage, in another rank
lined up behind the Cruisers were the new Battle Cruisers, we now had five
plus two more to come from the Rim, it was an impressive sight but still
nothing like the numbers the Galactic Navy could put in the field at any
one time.

We did not have long to wait, first there was the displacement of space as
the ships from the Rim jumped in and joined the massed ranks, most
noticeable were the three huge modified freighters, they were bristling
with laser pods and a smaller version of the Plasma Cannon, they had been
rebuilt to such a size they would easily take all the fighters not going to
the Cruisers.

Once they were all settled into their positions, the space in front of us
shimmered again and a single ship jumped in, this was one I had not seen
before, it had been painted a dark purple and had a gold stripe along its
full length, its size was between a Frigate and our own smaller ships, it
suddenly struck me what it was, as it closed in on where we Knights sat
waiting a familiar young voice came over my comm. Unit.

“Hello Sargasso, what do you think of my first command?”

“So Sarraton, is this what you have been up too, and just what the hell
kind of ship is that, you don’t have a single weapon to defend yourself,
what use is it going to be in a fight?”

“This is not a fighting ship Sargasso, I thought you would recognise it
and don’t underestimate what this ship has got hidden away from sight.”

“Ok, so you look like a diplomatic ship, well the colours are anyhow.”

“That’s right, this is the official diplomatic courier ship of the
F.F.T. it’s for Kratos to do his business, Admiral Santos put me in
charge of it, my first command, I never thought I would be a captain at my
age but he said I was ready for some responsibility so put me here.”

“Congratulations Sarraton, I hope you don’t get yourself and Kratos
killed in the damn thing.”

“Oh they will not get us that easy Sargasso; you should know that by
now, we are not as defenceless as we look.”

“Good, ok so where is the mighty Admiral Santos?”

“Right behind me, he’s got a show for us as he arrives, did you know
he is quite the showman when he is in the mood?”

“I know he is quite the show off when he is in the mood but showman is
stretching it a bit.”

“Wait and see.”

I could hear the chuckle in young Sarraton’s voice as he signed off and
took his place in line with us, as we waited I wondered what the hell
Santos had dreamed up this time, how do you make a spectacle of a ship
arrival, I did not have long to wait.

From the dark reaches of the space in front of us came the sudden sight of
massed laser beams being thrown off in all directions, except of course in
ours, they were sending violet blasts of energy deep into the blackness of
the far space around us, sure enough Santos had done things his way.

From the centre of the mass of laser beams the massive Jump Ship appeared,
the first sight of the ship made me catch my breath, even knowing the
dimensions of the ship, the actual reality of it appearing out in front of
us was stunning, my little seventy metre ship looked like a flea on a rabid
dog when put beside this behemoth of a ship, even the large Battle Cruisers
looked like small toys, I had a sudden feeling of satisfaction and thanks
that this Jump Ship was on our side, I had no idea what the Galactic Navy
was going to think when they saw it for the first time but the word
‘Fear’ did come to mind.

As we watched, the huge ship began to turn slowly so it was facing us, it
was a good five kilometres away but still dwarfed us, as it turned fully on
to us I could see that the hanger at the front resembled the huge mouth of
the long extinct whale shark of old Terra from this huge mouth then
streamed a horde of black painted needle fighters.

As they came into view, the fighters took up their positions in flights
then into squadrons as they settled around the huge ship as an escort, the
ship slowly came to a halt now facing us fully, over the general channel we
all heard the authoritive voice of Santos.

“Pilots and crew of the Federation of Free Traders, thank you for
assembling, this is now your command ship, it will be known as the
F.F.T. Sargasso in honour of our founder Sargasso Chevalier De La Croix
Noir, we have in front of us a battle that many of us may not live through,
but you have to know that eventually we must win, it is time to bring down
the might of the Corporations that have kept the people in virtual slavery
for far too long, thank you all for assembling, now it’s time to make
plans and take the fight to those who only want greed and power to
succeed.”

Hearing those words from Santos I had a funny feeling for the first time in
my life, naming the ship after me made me feel embarrassed, something I had
never been in all my twenty eight years, I could only guess where this was
going to lead when I saw my Brothers in the common room for the first time,
Damn Santos and his ideas.

Finally we all turned for the base, Gareth had opened all the hanger levels
for the massed ships, only the Jump Ship could not fit, it would stay on
station outside and in stealth mode when at the base, for now it was a time
to get everyone inside and for the new boys to continue their training and
outfitting, the stream of fighters were still coming off the very efficient
production lines of Gareth’s workshops.

Gareth had spent some time reconfiguring the lower levels of the base, we
now had seven levels devoted to hangers, he had had the massed stream of
Droids working for the last month on the new configuration, every ship in
the massed fleet was slotted easily into the new hangers except the Jump
Ship, an hour after the arrival of the Jump Ship and everyone was back in
the base, in the upper level common room the Captains and other junior
officers joined the rest of us, Santos had a wide smile on his face as he
saw the dark glowering look I gave him.

“What’s got your nose out of joint, Sargasso?” Santos asked with
that smug smile on his face.

“You old fucker, you named that ship after me just to rub my nose in it,
I know how your fucked up mind works, you did this to embarrass me.”

“Oh, mighty leader, not so, as a matter of fact, it was the pilots and
crew who voted to have it named after you, I had nothing to do with it.”

“Yeah right, and I bet you just worked real hard to stop them, you know
how I hate this sort of thing, I’m meant to be inconspicuous or my trade
skills are not worth a damn.”

“What trade skills, they are long gone now, once you went out and
started this little war of yours against the Corporations, those days of
your life were over and you damn well know it, besides, what better way to
put a little fear in the Corporations heads than to have them know you are
coming after them in that fucking big ship, now settle down boy and get out
the rum, we have some planning to do so don’t go getting your knickers
in a knot over something so trivial.”

I gave him my best glower and sat down as Android Gareth appeared as if by
magic with a bottle of the Admirals favourite rum, it was going to be one
of those nights, I was not looking forward to waking up in the morning,
deep down I knew Santos was right but I did not want to let him have the
satisfaction of knowing it.

Much to my surprise, the rum did not flow as fast as normal when with the
Admiral, we settled down and began to plan what to do next, Ganius and
Ferris had gathered a huge amount of intelligence on the Corporations
movements, both in freight and military ships, finally, late in the night,
and as the newest recruits were settling in their beds tired out from
another hard afternoon of training, a plan came together.

Our intention was to cause as much disruption in the Corporations ranks as
we could create, the plan was for the Knights to go out and take after
their many freighters, we were to either capture or disable their
freighters, if the crews wanted to join our efforts then they would be lead
to the Rim and the freight would be used by us, if they did not want to
join then we would take the cargo and disable the ship but leave the crew
uninjured wherever possible, if they tried to fight they would be
considered enemy combatants.

We were sure that over time the Corporations would want to get us and so
send out some of their Battle Fleets, a Battle Fleet consisted of one
hundred Cruisers and three hundred Frigates as well as the four thousand
fighters kept in the holds of the Cruisers, the Frigates did not hold
fighters, they were attack ships, they were about two hundred metres long
and all guns and aggression.

Once they sent out a Battle Fleet we would call up our own heavy ships, the
Knights were only to stir up trouble and not to take on Battle Fleets, that
was the job of our new and ever increasing F.F.T. Navy, Kratos would do his
thing as the lead Diplomat for the F.F.T., when we started the attacks on
their freighters, he would avow no knowledge of us and try to convey that
the attacks were the work of pirates, our ships would still carry the
signature of the Knights.

As the hours grew late, we decided to call it a night, Santos was happily
settled down with a fresh bottle of rum and some of his old ex officers
from the Galactic Navy, they were going to make a celebration of it, for me
I had the hot body of Scorpion waiting for me, he was much more fun than a
bottle of rum and a sore head.

Two days later and all the new boys had been issued with their new
fighters, they were now in training to get used to working in the small
flights system and then onto the squadron system, they also had to practice
landings and takeoffs from the three huge gunships in formation, for us
Knights we had other things to do, with the four of us Brothers in our
larger ships and with one each of the boys as our co-pilot, we had the rest
of the boys in their fighters, we would then attach our tractor beams to
their fighters and jump them with us to where there was a freighter convoy,
if nothing else we could at least come away with some nice new cargo
belonging to the Corporations, if it all went well we could end up with a
few more ships for modifications out on the Rim.

We jumped into the space 1.5 million kilometres out from Saturn, ahead of
us was the convoy just as Ganius and Ferris had said it would be, but they
had made one mistake, instead of five freighters, there were fifteen in the
convoy, around them were the escort of four Cruisers and ten Frigates, the
Naval ships we could soon take care of but we had not been prepared for
that number of freighters, if we were to take them back to the Rim we would
have our hands full, it was time to call for some help.

Once I had sent the message to Santos, we set up to take out the escort,
while the Frigates were all guns and gung ho for a fight, the most
dangerous were the Cruisers, if they got their fighters out we could have a
real battle on our hands, staying in stealth we went after the Cruisers
first, with one each it took little time to turn them into floating hulks,
our Cannon far more effective in bringing their drives to molten metal than
their weaker lasers could stop, not that they could see anything to hit.

The Frigates spread out trying to find where the barrage of fire had come
from, to avoid being tracked by our fire, we would shoot both Cannon and
then change position immediately before they could get a lock on the last
place of firing, as our co-pilots used their shooting skills us pilots
would do the evasion, it was a good and very effective plan, the Cruiser
were out of action before they could fire more than a token shot in the
direction of where we had been.

It was the same for the Frigates, we would fire and dive or jink away, in
ten minutes the freighters were defenceless but still trying to escape
towards Saturn where a Corporation base was positioned, when the last
Frigate was stopped we went after the freighters but came out of Stealth so
they would see what was after them.

I trusted to the old form of convoy that the Corporations used and selected
the lead freighter as the head of the convoy, it was usually agreed by all
the other freighter Captains who would be the lead Captain of the convoy,
the decisions he made were followed by all the other ships, I aimed for the
lead freighter and called him up on the open wave band.

“Convoy leader, this is the Battle Group of the Knights of the Cross,
you are asked to shut down your drives and heave too, failure to do so and
we will attack.”

“Battle Group Leader, we are unarmed freighters and are under the
protection of the Mitsubishi Corporation and the Galactic Navy, you have no
jurisdiction over us.”

“Convoy Leader, look behind you, you have no Galactic Naval escort, shut
down your drives and heave too now.”

“Who are you?”

“My name is Sargasso, you are now captives of the Knights of the Black
Cross, now heave too.”

“My name is Captain Brevik once of the Galactic Navy you may not have my
ships Sir, I would rather lose it all than bow down to pirates.”

Before I could answer, Santos voice came over the general channel.

“Jack, shut your fucking drives down and stop playing hero.”

“Who...who’s that... Admiral Santos, is that you?”

“Of course it’s me you jack ass, now shut down your fucking drives or
I will shoot them out from under your skinny ass.”

Immediately I saw the blue glow of the freighters drives diminish and
finally die altogether as they heaved too and slowed to a stop, just as the
last one settled into place, the huge frame of the Jump Ship appeared from
the black void, I was sure I heard the gasp of breath from inside my ship
as the Captains saw the massive ship for the first time.

I listened as the astonished voice of Captain Brevik came over the channel.

“What the fuck is that Admiral, where did you find a ship like that?”

“This, Jack, is the Flag ship of the F.F.T. Navy, now you can come join
us and make a new life for you and the crews or we can take pot shots at
you and leave you out here to wait for the Corporation to send help.”

“But where did you go, by the time I threw in my hand with the Navy for
the way they treated you and the others, you had disappeared, I wanted to
join up with you but couldn’t find hide nor hair of any of you?”

“Well now is your chance, look Jack, we don’t want to cause any of
you trouble but you know as well as I do that the Corporations time is
coming to an end, it is only a matter of time, we are going to try to hurry
things along and, believe me, we are in better shape than they are, as you
can see by this ship, now, what’s your decision for your convoy?”

“Well I have no doubts, all my crew are ex Navy and left when I did,
we’ve been trying to make a living with this old freighter but you know
how the Corporation works with us sub contractors, we barely make enough to
live on by the time they take their cut in levies and taxes on our freight
so we are in but you will have to ask the others what they want to do.”

Santos sent out the call on the general channel, of course all the other
ships had been listening to their chatter so knew what was what, of the
fifteen freighters, twelve wanted to come with us, the other three had
families to care for, a most unusual thing for freighter crews, they were
away from their homes for eleven out of the twelve months so most times
marriages did not last long.

The three that wanted to return were relieved of their cargoes which were
transhipped into the cavernous hold of the Jump Ship in no time at all, the
three ships were then disabled enough so that the crews were kept safe but
they could not go on their way under their own power, they would send an
emergency message to the base on Saturn and await rescue, it worked well
for us as well, they would be able to tell the story of the massive ship
out hunting for Corporation freighters, if nothing else it should force a
reaction from the Galactic Navy which was what we wanted in the first
place.

Santos got eight of the big freighters into his gaping maw of a hanger, he
then put tractor beams on the other four and disappeared into the
blackness, we were close behind, we would go to the base and he would take
the freighters to the Rim for unloading and renovations, they would in time
become armed freighters of the new Federation, it was a few more ships for
the burgeoning fleet.

We had only been back at the base for little more than a day when Gareth
told us Santos was jumping into the base area, all the time he had been at
the Rim I had kept watch on the news stations, their broadcasts were varied
as to the reason that an unarmed convoy could disappear into nothing, as
yet they had not heard from the lone survivors and the Galactic Navy had
forced a news ban on all officers and crews of the escort.

Over the next few days the story that the Corporation wanted known was
leaked out, as they owned all the news outlets it was not difficult to put
their slant on the event, the report went something like this.

“A cowardly attack was made on one of the Mitsubishi freight convoys by
dissidents once belonging to the Sega Corporation, they had been discharged
from Sega for underhanded dealings with another Corporation against Sega,
these felons had then formed themselves into a pirate gang and were now
attacking innocent and unprotected convoys, for this reason, all convoys
would now be escorted by large contingents of the valiant Galactic Navy who
had also lost small ships to the unprovoked attacks. The Corporation were
now going to combine their efforts to bring these vagrant pirates to
account and for this purpose there will be a merging of the Corporations
Directors until this emergency was over.”

It now looked as though the Corporations finally had come out in the open
about their plan to rule from one position although they tried to hide it
behind our latest attack, Santos soon had his pirate station broadcasting
what we saw as the truth of the situation and how the Corporations had been
hand in glove all along, the battle of the newscasts was about to begin,
everything Ferris had gleaned from his families files was now put to the
cosmos for all to hear and see, it was the start of the battle for truth
and the Corporations did not like it.

It took a further six days before the Corporation released the fact that a
full Battle Fleet was going after the perpetrators of the convoy attack,
finally this is what we had been waiting for, it was a surprise to us that
the three freighters that returned to their homes never said a single word
about the Jump Ship, perhaps we had friends we did not know about, time
would tell and as soon as we made the attack on the Battle Fleet, the truth
would be out and they would all know about the new ship, that is if the
Corporations let it be known, if not, well we would let it slip out on our
own broadcasts, fear is a mighty tool.

Gareth wasted no time at all in tracking the Battle Fleet, in only a few
hours he had their heading and rendezvous point, we would let them form up
in their standard formations then appear before they can get into motion,
there is nothing like a sitting duck, they would all be powered down to the
minimum speed while all the senior officers talked over their tactics for
when they found us, we would find them instead while they were still
talking about who should be the boss, this was where Santos came in handy,
he had told us that it was nothing new for senior officers to fight over
who should be in command of a Battle Fleet, it all came down to political
clout in the end but these meetings could go on for hours.

Gareth aided by Ferris, kept an eye on the forming Battle Fleet, as more
ships flew into to join the fleet, we assembled our own little fleet, every
ship we had that was able to fight was readied for the stealth jump with
F.F.T. Sargasso at the head, unlike the Galactic Navy, we had our own
formations, our battle groups were smaller and broken up into what we now
called Battle Squadrons, they consisted of thee Cruisers, five Frigates,
one Fighter Gunship and a total of one thousand Fighters, there were three
Battle Squadrons and all were overseen by the F.F.T. Sargasso.

The Battle Squadrons would all fight independently but within our overall
plan, it would mean the enemy would have to split their force into three
factions, something they were not used to and therefore would not have the
tactics practiced for such an occasion, it was another advantage to us,
Santos had been right when he said we would have to throw out the book of
rules made by the Galactic Navy and write our own if we hoped to win
against such far superior numbers.

Of course the real winning margin was our newer and more powerful
technology, there was not a ship in the Galactic Navy that carried the sort
of fire power we now had in all our ships, even our fighters outgunned most
of their Frigates in the power of their Starlight laser systems, the
Fighters also had the added advantage of being three times as fast as
anything they could put in the field.

Naturally our biggest advantage was the stealth ability of every ship, the
fighters were by now well practiced in appearing, firing and then
disappearing before they could be locked onto by the larger ships and, in a
one on one fight with another Naval fighter, ours would make mince meat of
them for both speed and fire power as well as the new formation of multi
ship Flights and Squadrons, the Galactic Navy was in for a shock, they had
had many long years of feeling safe and secure in their unchallenged role.

On the F.F.T. Sargasso, Gareth had updated the Positronic quad core to
listen into all of the Galactic Naval command frequencies, everything they
knew we knew, as our Battle Squadrons jumped into the space around the
Ganymede System where the Navy was forming up, we listened to what they had
to say about our last attack.

We had been put down as a rogue unit, the survivors of our little foray
told the Navy they had been attacked totally by surprise or they would have
shot us out of the void, they had seen four ships larger than Fighters but
much smaller than Frigates, we were also accompanied by ten new Fighters
and our weapons had been a little better than theirs and that the four
larger ships had used illegal Plasma Cannons, it was the only reason they
had been beaten but now, as they had a full Battle Fleet, our little ships
would not stand up to them, we were about to disappoint them on that score.

Our plan was for Sarraton and Kratos to appear in front of the Battle Fleet
and say they were looking for protection as they made their way to another
meeting of the P.U. to ratify their free status, at the same time, my
Brothers and I would take our little unit of four ships but this time use
only six of the Fighters as we would need our co-pilots in our ships with
us, as Sarraton was talking to the Battle Fleet we would make a raid on the
rear of their formations and then disappear, if nothing else this should
cause a little panic in the Fleet.

There was always a chance that the Galactic Navy would think Sarraton and
Kratos had something to do with it, Sarraton assured us he could get out of
the way if they were fired upon, we hoped they were right, it would give
Kratos the means to start an angry tirade to the P.U. about Diplomatic
Immunity being breached and a real excuse for the newly formed F.F.T. to
declare war on the Corporations, not that we need it but it would look good
in the newscasts, in the long run public opinion would be on our side as
long as they did not put two and two together and that we had set the Navy
up from the start.

It was determined that my Brothers and I would never take any part in any
Battle with the Fleet, if the Navy fired on Sarraton and Kratos, it would
give Santos and our Fleet the excuse they were looking for, our little
group was to be no more than a catalyst that got the Navy to fire on
innocent Diplomats and so we split from the main Fleet and went after the
rear of the Naval Battle Fleet just as Sarraton was approaching the Naval
Fleet in clear sight, he had launched from the Sargasso and then come out
of Stealth far enough away from the Naval Fleet to be seen in time and
identified.

When we were sure that Sarraton was well identified and was closing in all
innocence towards the Naval Fleet, we jumped out of Stealth and went after
some Frigates and Fighters at the rear of the Fleet, the chaos of the
sudden attack caused havoc in their ranks, before they could react we had
downed five Frigates and seven Fighters and then went into stealth once
again.

We all sat far above the chaos of the sudden attack, the Navy was trying to
work out what had just happened, as they got the reports of a sudden attack
on their rear, the forward ships went on full alert, someone, somewhere
must have been a little jittery, one of the forward Frigates opened fire on
Sarraton, it was only one laser blast but it was enough for Sarraton to
evade and then for Kratos to huff and puff about his Diplomatic Immunity
being ignored and putting him and his unarmed crew in danger.

Well out of range of the Battle Fleet, our three Squadrons sat in the
darkness of space, they were all in stealth mode and were just waiting for
the call up, it was time for our little group to make another run at the
Navy, this time we hit them on the left flank, again they lost ships in a
flurry of Laser and Plasma fire before we disappeared once again into the
blackness, we were not trying to disable these ships, this was for all the
marbles, we hit them as hard as we could and tried to put them out of
action on a permanent basis.

Over the general channel we could still hear the loud gruff voice of Kratos
berating the Navy for their attack on his unarmed Diplomatic Ship, the
ships shields had easily deflected the fire but that did not excuse the
shots in the first place and it was all Kratos really needed, as a parting
shot he told the Naval Command they had just declared War on the Federation
of Free Traders and he would make the same declaration just as soon as he
was in front of the P.U., Sarraton took the ship away at speed, when far
enough away he went into stealth and jumped for Terra, within hours they
would make the declaration, in the mean time we had a fight to start.



TBC.


Artcart65@gmail.com


 

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