CHEVALIER DE LA

CROIX NOIR

                                                     By 

                                                  Arthur 

 CHAPTER 7


BY ARTHUR




AUTHORS CONTACT:

Artcart65@gmail.com


On our return to the base it was hard to believe we had been in this war
for nearly three years, with so much to do and plan as well as the
continuous training of the ever increasing new recruits, the time seemed to
have rolled by without notice, in the last battle we had noticed the
Galactic Navy was trying to change its tactics, it was on our own heads to
keep ahead of them.

The two sniper units we had captured were placed in separate rooms, we did
not split up the two man teams as I well knew the spotter was totally
dependent on the shooter for all his needs, it was one of the twists the
Corporations had used when genetically enhancing them, at times it was a
difficult life for the spotter, but they were trained for just that
purpose.

Having to use such a large and heavy rifle as the .75, the shooters were
normally tall and well built, they had to be, to be able to handle such a
weapon, the spotters on the other hand were usually of smaller frame and
quite slender, they had a small terminal placed at the back of their necks,
these were used for a thin cable to be plugged in and then attached to the
ranging array on the rifle.

The spotter would also make use of his exceptional eye sight aided by a
strong telescope, his mind was trained in such a way that he would work out
the distance, elevation, windage and any other variables when the shooter
was making a shot, the information was automatically fed via the cable into
the rifle scope and the shooter then only had to wait for the right time to
take the shot, the spotters were really no more than a human computer for
the shooter.

Their lives were symbiotic, the spotter could or would do little on his own
accord, his only job was to range the shots and defend the shooter, in this
they were a real terror, they would rather die defending their shooter than
protect themselves, it made them a terrible force to be reckoned with,
their only lack was in taking any initiative for their own good, even
eating, sleeping, bathing, all had to be by the instruction of the shooter.

With the two being so close since being very small boys the shooter was
also dependent on the spotter, without him he was useless in the field and
as they were virtually attached at such a young age, they never worked well
with a new spotter and so if the spotter was lost or killed, the shooter
was virtually ineffective and would be retired.

These two units were very young, why would they use such young men? I had
to find out also why they were there in the first place, there was no way
the Corporations could have guessed we were going to hit them on that
particular planet, after a rest and good meal, it was time to talk to the
two units.

I asked two of my boys to collect the unit we had captured first, within a
few minutes the two walked into the common room where myself and my three
Brothers waited for them, already we were scanning them for information,
the spotter was tucked in close to his symbiotic shooter who had one arm
draped over the smaller teen, the shooters eyes were hard and protective of
the smaller teen under his arm.

In the spotters mind I could see him trying to think of a way to protect
his shooter, all his senses were on full alert but his body relayed none of
his thinking, this young teen was well trained, his protector and friend
just stood and waited for the inevitable questions, he did not know we
could read everything in his head but we did not want him to know that
either, my first questions would be the usual ones asked under such
circumstances.

"What are your names?"

As expected the shooter took charge, his smaller friend stayed silent but
watchful.

"We are unit 706, we can't remember our names, it was so long ago."

"What was your Corporation?"

"Beyer Corporation, Sir."

Beyer were one of the big ten Corporations, they held most of the
pharmaceutical production and distribution centres throughout the Galaxy, a
Corporation not to be trifled with except by a certain small number of
rogue Assassins.

"Why were you on that planet?"

"We were sent there for training, we were out in the wilds when your attack
came, by the time we got back to the city you had already won, I felt it
was our duty to do what we did."

"I thought you were supposed to use only electronics on your training
missions?"

"Yes Sir, we are, but we had picked up from one of our old instructors that
training missions did not always go to plan so I, and a few others, made it
a habit to carry five live rounds when we went out, I would not take the
chance of my spotter being hurt by a wild animal and have no way to stop
it."

"So it was only by accident you were there and not because you thought we
would come that way?"

"No, we didn't know you were coming to attack, we still have one more year
of training to go, this trip was part of that training, can I ask you a
question, Sir?"

"Yes."

"How did I miss you, I had you square in my sights and my spotter had
confirmed the shot?"

I was not about to tell him any of the secrets of being a Black Knight.

"I guess I was lucky and turned as you fired."

I pulled back my cape and let him see the deep score mark on my armour;
Kratos was busy making a new breast plate for me at this very minute.

"As you can see you came close."

The shooters face showed a narrow smile as he saw the results of his work,
the spotter kept his impassive face turned towards me but said nothing, I
did not expect him too.

"Now we have a problem, as you may have guessed we are at war with the
corporations, I know you have both been trained for only one thing and I am
not sure we can fit you into our organisation, the only thing I may be able
to do for you would mean a prisoner of war camp on one of our moon bases, I
know you cannot be split up from your friend and I can't see where we could
let you join us, I know something of the indoctrination you both go
through."

At this time Android Gareth spoke up.

"There may be a way Commander."

"What's that Gareth?"

"Let me take them to my infirmary, I can reprogram their genetic codes to
work with us, if they agreed we could have the beginnings of a new unit to
add to our ground forces."

I turned back to the shooter.

"Well there is that way if you wanted to join us, if so you could also pick
real names for yourselves?"

"Can we think on it for a little, it is a big step after all of our
training but it would be nice to have names again instead of a number?"

"Yes you can have all the time you need, are you being well fed?"

"Yes Sir, they have looked out for us very well, I did not expect it when
you captured us, I know the Galactic Navy would not treat your people the
same way."

"We are not barbarians, we are trying to free the Galaxy of the
Corporations not instil our own form of slavery."

"If you would give me time to think things over Sir, I will let you know
what we decide by tomorrow morning."

"That's fine, Panther, will you escort our friends back to their room and
bring the others in, Tiger you go with him."

Like the first pair, the second unit were young, even a little younger than
the first, the shooter was much like the first young man, tall, about 6'4",
wide across the shoulders and deep through the chest, strong thick arms and
a narrow waist, his spotter looked to be even younger than the first,
perhaps seventeen and not much more than 5'5", both had the usual military
hair cut just like the first unit, cut very short even less than a number
one, the small teen spotter was also tucked in close to his shooter.

We had already read them before they halted in front of us, Panther and
Tiger standing behind them.

"What are your names?"

"We are unit 799 Sir."

"What is your Corporation?"

"Beyer Corporation, Sir."

The answers were almost identical to the first pair, they had no need to
lie under these circumstances and, the fact I had read it all before they
said a word meant they could not deceive us in any way, going by the unit
number, they were a younger pair than the first unit, I already knew the
answer but decided to ask for those who could not read them.

"There appears to be a larger age difference than is usual in units, why?"

"My first spotter had a fatal accident during training when we were both
seven years old, Sir, they held me back until they found another suitable
spotter for me, this was our first outside training mission, we were paired
with a more experienced unit for the mission, Sir."

"So how old are you both?"

"I am nineteen years and my spotter is sixteen years, Sir."

"A big difference for sniper units."

"Yes Sir, it took me a long time to readjust after the loss, Sir."

I nodded my understanding and then told them the same thing as the first
unit boys, these two also asked for time to think it over, for some reason
I had a little more hope for these two, perhaps it was because they had not
yet been fully indoctrinated like the older pair but, if Gareth said he
could help them then he could do it.

The next morning the two units were returned to the common room, after a
few questions, both units agreed they would like to try to have their
programming reversed, they were quickly taken to one of Gareth's
infirmaries and he began work on them right away, an hour later and
Gareth's voice came over the base wide channel, even the ever affable and
unfeeling Gareth seemed to have a catch in his voice as he reported his
findings.

"Commander, we have a problem, the two younger boys have tracker chips
imbedded in the lower skull, I have inserted a number of nanites to destroy
them but I fear it is too late, I am under the impression we should start
to prepare for unwanted visitors, I am instituting a second phase alert, I
am also alerting Admiral Santos that his fleet may be needed in our
defence, are there any other orders?"

"Not that I can think of Gareth, what about the two older boys?"

"They are clear; it is only the two younger ones that carry the chip."

"I can't understand how we did not pick it up during our mind scans."

"I do not think even they were aware that the chips had been implanted, it
would be the reason they did not know about it, I have now sent all alert
beacons to 40,000 kilometres, I suggest you prepare all personnel for both
external and internal battles, my internal sensors and defence weapons are
now active as are all external weapons."

As Gareth finished speaking I felt a tremble run through the base, it had
to be the larger Cannon being run out, I did not know how many pairs of
Plasma Cannon Gareth had but it was not going to be easy for the Navy to
get in here, those, along with the multiple quad barrel lasers were a
formidable defence, if anyone got through I was sure we could handle it
and, with Santos now alerted and, hopefully on the way, we should be able
to hold out but the revelation of our position put us in further danger at
a later time, once the Navy knew our location we would be attacked
endlessly.

I asked Gareth about the Navy finding our base and what it would mean for
our future.

"At this stage, Commander, they only have the location of the two smaller
boys, they are not aware it is our base, when they break the 50,000
kilometre limit I will send a warning but I will also have Admiral Santos
in the Jump Ship out near them, he can activate all his jamming devices and
hopefully stop any signals before they reveal our final location, once
Admiral Santos has jammed all communications I will fire on them once they
reach the 30,000 kilometre mark, at that range they will still not see the
base."

"I hope you're right Gareth, you know we can't let any of them escape to
tell of our location."

"I am sure you and the defenders will have no trouble in cleaning up what
is necessary after the battle, I would alert all fighter pilots to be on
standby, fighters are harder to hit so some may get through, you will have
to stop them before they get here."

"Thanks Gareth, we will do what we can, I want all ground attack troops
loaded onto troop ships and evacuated to the Rim as well as any `Tanks'
still here, we won't have need of them if they get through our defences and
come inside."

"Very good Commander, is there anything else?"

"Yes, have all fighter pilots check their ships so they are ready to launch
at a moment's notice, they are not to go out further than the 15,000
kilometre mark, the four Battle Cruisers in the lower hanger are to go out
to the 25,000 kilometre mark and lay all their mines across as wide a field
as they can and then join up with Admiral Santos."

"Very good Commander, the order has been issued."

"Well that's all we can do for now, now it's just a matter of waiting to
see what they send after the boys."

I turned and watched Ganius and Ferris at the console, they were looking
very much wrapped up in the screens before them, it was not long before
Ferris looked up with a frown on his face.

"Sargasso, I've just got the first signal through on the Navy channel, they
are sending eight Battle Fleets divided up into four Battle Groups, it
looks like we have something in the range of four thousand ships after us,
this time they mean business."

All I could do was nod and then try to think how we were going to get out
of this full scale attack, yes we had the technological advantage as well
as still having surprise on our side, but their sheer numbers meant some of
them were going to get through, if our jamming broke down they would have
us in their sights forever, this time we were outnumbered five to one
although I was sure Gareth's defences were going to do a lot of damage but
some would get through.

The mine fields would take care of a large number of fighters but they
would only damage any heavier ships and still leave them with a fighting
capability, Gareth's Plasma Cannons had better be as good as I hope they
are, our ships will not be able to attack their ships until the base
weapons shut down, there was too much chance of accidental friendly fire in
such a large scale attack, at some stage it was going to be touch and go,
added to that, this large multi Battle group was still only a small part of
the whole Galactic Navy, we had to stop them from reporting our true
location.

While we waited for the multiple fleets to arrive in our back yard, Ferris
and Ganius had been keeping tabs on the news casts, it seemed the
Corporations were having a little trouble in some of their outer planets,
for the first time in centuries there was discord on some of them, mines
were on strike and the local Militia's and Police could do little to stop
them, Naval Marines had been sent to some of the worlds but it only seemed
to cause more harm than good, there were two planets that had gone into
open revolt, it looked as though our efforts in the last attack were
beginning to pay off.

As any soldier will tell you, the worst part of any battle was the long
hours of waiting before action began, this was no different but, this time
we were on the defensive, with the large number of ships out there after
our blood, we could not take the fight to them until the time was right,
the common room became charged with nervous tension even though nearly all
the personnel were well seasoned fighters, only the younger pilots waiting
in the hangers by their fighters had seen little if any fighting.

Gareth's Android had disappeared along with Ellis, at this stage I had no
idea why the two were not in the room with the rest of us, there was
something going on between the Android and Ellis but, for the life of me I
could not work out what it was, as I mused over this latest event, Gareth's
voice filled the room.

"Commander, the enemy have reached the border, I am about to send out my
ultimatum, do you wish to hear the conversation throughout the base?"

"Yes Gareth, please pipe it to all sectors."

The internal communications speakers hummed into action as Gareth began his
warning to the Navy.

"Galactic Navy, Galactic Navy, you are entering restricted space, turn your
ships around or you will be fired upon, over."

There was a long pause as we all waited with baited breath for the reply,
it came soon enough.

"Unknown, unknown, who are you and why do you give this warning, over."

"Galactic Navy, this is Alpha Base of the Federation of Free Traders, you
are invading our space, turn about now or you will be deemed to be carrying
out an invasion of our space, you have one minute to comply before we open
fire, over"

"Alpha Base, you are not known to our Members of the P.U., we are tasked
with finding a number of lost staff units, their signal came from this
sector, you are interfering with a legal search by the Galactic Navy, I
suggest you shut down any weapons you may have and let us through, if you
refuse you will be fired upon, over"

"Galactic Navy, you now have thirty seconds to turn about, your staff
members are not at this location, over"

"Alpha Base, this is their last location, we will be coming in to search,
stand down your weapons, over."

"Galactic Navy, your time is up, this is the last warning you will receive,
turn about now, over."

"Alpha Base, you cannot stand against us, it would be suicide to open fire
on these fleets, stand down and let us investigate, out."

Only the hum of the silent radio waves greeted us now but, within seconds,
Gareth's main armament opened up with a ferocity I did not think was even
possible in this day and age, although we could not hear the actual sound
of the large Plasma Cannons, the effect of their discharge made the very
air in the base crackle with a renewed energy, the fight for Alpha Base had
begun.

We all stood by the main console to watch on the multiple screens, the
large main screen showed the enhanced battle area, the huge mass of enemy
ships were represented by a small red dot, our much smaller fleet was shown
in green and the mine field, now not very far from the approaching ships
was shown in small blue lights, there were a lot of them stretching over a
wide area of dark space like a long and tall fishing net.

All of our fleet ships were in stealth and sitting above the main body of
the Galactic Navy, Santos had divided his force into enough smaller groups
to have ships hiding above each Battle Group, when the time came they would
use the same tactics of hit and run that had been successful in the past
although, this time we knew we were not going to get away unscathed like
most of our earlier fights with the Navy.

Every fighter we had in the hanger was now on standby, their pilots were
sitting in their seats waiting for the order to go, we also knew, depending
on how many of the Navy fighters got through the mine screen, that we would
not be seeing some of those same young pilots return to us at the end of
this fight.

As we watched the screens, we saw the beginnings of the destruction of the
Naval Ships, unlike a Pulse Cannon, which used a long beam of energy, the
Plasma Cannon used Plasma in the form of a large ball that came out like a
blue burst of energy, being so much smaller than the long beams, they were
much harder to trace back to their origin, when they hit their target, it
would virtually dissolve the area hit, out in the limitless regions of
space it marked the total end of any ship hit by one of those Cannon.

The mass of red dots on the screen began to thin out as they began to split
up into their Battle Groups and try to take evasive action, it was on the
outer verges of the Battle Fleets we began to see small separate battles
start as Santos directed his ships to jump in and out of stealth, fire then
disappear again, at the centre of the Battle Groups, Gareth continued to
take toll, slowly red dots began to disappear.

The Battle Groups had as yet not been in range to fire one single shot at
the Base, although they were trying desperately to shoot down any of the
attacking ships that appeared then disappeared on the outer edges of their
groups, the huge fleet was now at the 35,000 kilometre mark, Santos had the
jump ship on full time signal blocking as well as taking shots at the
larger Cruisers in the Fleets.

It had become a running battle, the Galactic Navy kept trying to track down
the position of the signal they had used to find their two sniper units
while Gareth kept up a fast rate of fire on the masses, while the red dots
were fast disappearing on the screens, there were still plenty of them left
and they were still making headway into our area of defence, the huge loss
of life and their determination to find us told of their dogged intention
of following their orders regardless of losses.

The Navy must have had a good track on the boys signal as they did not slow
at the 30,000 kilometre mark, here as predicted, they launched their
thousands of fighters into the void, the mine net began its own destruction
as the Fighters flew right into the middle of the field, however there were
far more fighters than mines and we began to see some break through and
head towards the base, it was time for our boys to set about our defence.

All fighters were to leave the hangers in stealth, against the far superior
numbers that we faced, it was their best defence, our new arrangement of
squads and flights we hoped would make the difference, the Naval Fighters
were used to fighting as a single line or as individuals, it made them
easier targets, Gareth's Plasma Cannons had now been joined by his Pulse
Cannons as the Battle groups broke through the 25,000 kilometre mark, his
Starlight lasers were already busy on the fighters that had made it in to
the 15,000 kilometre mark, our own fighters now began their attacks.

Watching on the screens it almost seemed like a slaughter as our pilots
jumped in and out of stealth, each time taking two or three of the enemy
before disappearing and starting all over again, we could now see the enemy
fighters were rapidly growing less and less as our pilots took a deadly
toll on what was an almost defenceless fighter force, neither their speed
nor weapons could counteract our better fighters, that is not to say we did
not have losses but they were far less than those of the attackers.

So far Santos had told us he had been able to contain the space waves and,
even though the Battle groups had tried to call for assistance, our
blocking was working, our divided fleets and Gareth continued to hammer
away at the now depleted forces, their fighter cover was also rapidly
disappearing as our own pilots went about their defence in a very vicious
and determined way, they gave no quarter and went after the slow and lesser
armed ships as though their lives depended on it, which of course they did.

The multiple battles had now been going on for more than two hours, on the
screens the red dots were now much less and had been scattered all over our
space, the fighting had now broken up into individual battles as our bigger
ships went after the Frigates and those Cruisers left by Gareth's Plasma
and now Pulse Cannons, Gareth had shut down his Cannons and was now only
using the Quad barrelled Lasers against the few remaining fighters, some
had got to within two hundred kilometres of the base, for the vastness of
space that was very close, the Lasers soon put an end to that as they set
up a light storm the fighters could not get past.

Slowly, over the next hour, the tide turned, the red dots were now so few
it seemed almost pointless for them to continue but they still tried to get
to the base, there was no turning back for them as we were to find out
later when Ferris searched some of the ships records, they had been ordered
to bring back the two lost units or die trying, they had tried and now died
for their efforts, the amount of space debris out there now would take
weeks to clear and re-use.

After four hours of vicious fighting, the Galactic Navy was down to only a
handful of undamaged ships, most of which were the smaller Frigates, as far
as we could tell there were now only two Cruisers left in the massed
fleets, the Plasma Cannons had torn them to pieces and now only the
remnants remained, it was time to call them up once again, I gave Gareth
the order to cease fire and contact those few ships left, of their fighters
there was now no sign, most of our pilots had returned to the hangers
nearly half an hour earlier.

Gareth sent a message to Santos to contact the remains of the fleets, it
would be better coming from him as the Admiral of our fleet to make
contact, we all stood in the common room listening as he called the Naval
ships on an open channel.

"This is Admiral Santos of the F.F.T. forces, we ask you to surrender, if
you do you will be treated as Prisoners of War, if you continue to fight we
will annihilate you completely, you have lost 95% of your forces and are
now in an untenable position, I ask the senior officers to shut down your
drives and surrender."

There came no reply so Santos sent the message one more time, this time
adding that it was their last warning.

It did not take a genius to see they were now out gunned, outnumbered and
out of hope, only a fool would send men to their deaths with no hope of
winning, it was only a minute later when the communications picked up the
voice of the Senior officer on one of the remaining Cruisers.

"Admiral Santos, this is Admiral Gollings, do I have your word my remaining
men will not be harmed?"

"You have our word Admiral, all your Officers and Men will be treated as
bona fide Prisoners of War and be repatriated to one of our moons until
this war is over, at the same time, if any of your men try to escape or
cause any trouble during their captivity, they will be dealt with harshly,
on that you have my word, now Admiral Gollings, do you surrender your
remaining forces?"

"Yes Admiral Santos, I see no other alternative under these conditions, you
have our unconditional surrender."

"Which of the Cruisers is your command ship, Admiral?"

"The Cruiser Starfire, I will move to the head of our fleet and await you
Admiral Santos."

"I will be alongside in a few minutes, please have all your senior officers
on your command deck for my arrival, I will have a guard with me Admiral so
I suggest you do not try anything foolish, our men are as well armed as our
ships and you have seen what they can do."

The airwaves went quiet and we watched as the scattered red dots formed up
into one group and stopped in space, the blue of our ships now held
position right above them while a swarm of smaller blue dots representing
our ship born fighters, surrounded the now diminished Battle Group.

Once the surrender had finally been decided and the Naval crews were all
disarmed, Santos called in his waiting troop and hanger gunships, he had
had them sitting off to the side of the battle in stealth mode to await the
outcome, a message had been sent for droids to come and start to reclaim
salvage while the Naval crews were sent aboard some of the gunships to be
transported back to the moon he had set aside as a prison planet, those
that needed medical aide were soon under the care of Med Droids, of our own
injured, they were very quickly sent to the base and into Gareth's many
infirmaries, where they would be given the best care Gareth could provide,
we lost only three men while they were under his care.

For the whole battle we did not come out unscathed, the memorial wall would
have many new names added although some we thought lost turned up in
evacuation pods later, most were fighter pilots from the melee that had
been the close in defence of the Base, the total loss to our side was still
high for our smaller numbers but did not come close to what the Navy had
lost.

We had one Battle Cruiser badly damaged but salvageable, three cruisers
were total losses as well as fifteen Frigates and another ten damaged our
loss in fighters was higher but still not as bad as the Navy, in all we
lost two hundred and six fighters from the ship born Squads and eighty six
from the base although we did recover twenty nine of those from pods later.

The sense of jubilation was soon tempered by the losses, as we had a small
military most everyone knew each other or at least knew of someone so even
a single loss was felt by all of us, it was time to take stock and plan our
next move, when the news got out, as it would, the Corporations were not
going to sit idly by and forget about it, especially as Santos had plans
for his pirate radio station to start putting out reports of the major
battle and its outcome.

We saw as our biggest problem, the fact that the combined fleets of the
Galactic Navy would have sent their last location to their headquarters
left us with too little margin of error if and when they came looking for
the remains of their fleets, it was a little too close to home, we would
have to do something to send them in another direction, almost impossible
given their losses but we had to work on something.

The next day things were getting back to normal, the injured were being
well taken care of by Gareth, in the outer reaches, the droids were busy
reclaiming anything that could be used by our production facilities and the
two sniper units were now free of the infirmary and ready to meet with us
again, they had not been awake during the battle and so did not know
anything about it, with the hubbub of talk in the base it would not be long
before they understood.

The two units sat on one sofa as we all waited for them to work things out,
the smaller spotters were tucked up very close to their shooters, in fact
they were so close as to be almost sitting in the larger boys laps, there
was now a spark of humanity on the four young faces as the blocks on their
emotions had been removed by Gareth.

On their young faces there was now a look of comfortable happiness as the
two larger boys hugged the smaller ones to their sides, in the eyes of the
smaller boys was a new expression, one that looked a lot like love or was
it contentment but at least now they had each other, it was now time to
make the last change.

"So, 706 and 799, have you decided on your new names now that you are free
of their programming?"

"We have talked it over Sir, but it's so long since we had names we don't
know where to start, perhaps you could help us?" it was the older boy of
unit 706 that did all the talking for the four of them.

"I suppose I could but, names are very personal things, it would be better
if you could select them for yourselves."

"I'm sorry Sir, we just don't know how."

"You don't have to feel sorry, I know what they have done to you and how
they do it, would it help if Gareth, he's our A.I., ran a list of common
names on a screen for you and let you select something from there?"

The older boy looked silently at his three companions, at a small nod from
each he turned back to me.

"Yes Sir that would be very helpful."

"Gareth, can you run a list of names on monitor four so the boys can have
something of an idea what to select for themselves?"

"Yes Commander."

We all sat back and waited while hundreds of names slowly ran through the
monitor, I watched as each time a likely name came up, Gareth would pause
the list and then tell the boys what the name meant or was translated to,
it took nearly half an hour before they settled on new names, it was with
wide smiles they told us their new names, much to my surprise they picked
very old fashioned and simple names.

"Now the next thing is to have you properly outfitted and a position within
our forces so that everyone knows who you are."

I turned to Spider and gave him a nod, he immediately went out and then
returned within a minute pushing a small cart filled with items, the two
most prominent were the large new rifles lying on top, they were nothing
like what the four boys had had before, these were the creation of Gareth's
workshops while the boys had been in the infirmary.

706 had chosen the name, Simon and, for the spotter, Daniel, 799 had chosen
Mark and the young spotter had chosen Evan, all four seemed very pleased
with their new names.

"Now Simon and Mark, as you have chosen to join us in the Federation, we
thought you should be recognised as a special unit so, to this end we have
given you the titles of Master Gunner, your spotters, Daniel and Evan are
now to be known as Gunners Mates, these new uniforms will give you the
ability to use what we call a stealth mode as well as power generated
camouflage."

I watched their expressions as they heard that they were now a single elite
unit, what came next was even better.

"Your old rifles are well out of date for what we use so Gareth has had
these two new rifles produced for you, they are called Starlight Laser
rifles, their range is well over ten kilometres, to assist with your
sighting, Evan and Daniel have had a small extra chip implanted by Gareth
to enhance their long range sight."

Spider handed each rifle to the two shooters and then began to take out the
thin black Kevlar uniforms, on the right side breast was a large gold pin
in the shape of crossed rifles and on the left shoulder was a small
attached box, this was the operations module for the stealth and camouflage
unit, without even waiting for privacy, all four boys stripped naked and
began to put on their new suits, there were also four new side arms for
them.

"Each of your weapons have been marked with your own DNA so no one else can
use them, we have also sent out a Federation wide notice of your rank and
who you are, from now on all four of you will be greeted as an officer with
all the entitlements, we have also had a number of volunteers to pilot your
ships for you, we will let you pick who you want so that you are
comfortable with them."

By this time all four boys had a rather stunned look on their faces, they
had gone from being captives to officers in only a few days, not only that
but they had now been issued with weapons and equipment the Navy would
never see, added to all that, they now found out they would have their own
personal ships to take them where ever they needed to be.

"Well Master Gunners Simon and Mark and Gunners Mates Evan and Daniel, what
do you think of your new assignment?"

There was only silence from the four boys, the looks on their young faces
told us all what they thought, it had all been a little overwhelming for
what they had first expected, Simon talked for the others.

"We don't know what to say Sir, it's far more than we could ever have
expected as first prisoners and even in the Navy we would never have made
officer grade until we retired which was not a likely hood in our
profession, we can only say thank you for the chance Sir and, if you will
excuse us for seeming to be a little ungrateful but, do you think we could
go and test our rifles out?"

The room broke into laughter as we saw the real professional come out of
the young teens, the sense of tension in the room dissipated as I called
for Droid Gareth, when he arrived I asked him to take the four boys to
upper level seventeen, this was where the long range target room was, it
was in fact a large long tunnel bored into the heart of the asteroid and
Gareth could set it for any weather conditions a trooper might come across,
it stretched for some ten kilometres into the core.

Over an hour had passed since the four boys had left to try out their new
weapons when the atmosphere of the base changed, Ferris had been keeping a
close watch in the Naval Channels for any indication of a renewed attack
formation, what he heard did not bring any joy to our ears.

"Sargasso, it looks like we could have trouble coming up, the Corporations
have called for a full scale search and destroy mission on the Federation,
starting at the last known location of their missing fleets, they are
pulling in just about every ship the Navy has for the effort."

"That's going to be a lot of ships."

"From the messages I have seen it will be well over twenty thousand ships,
even with everything we have we can't win against that many."

"How long do we have?"

"About two months for them to all come together then another month for the
whole fleet to get within range so three months all up."

"Ok, send for Kratos and Santos, we need them here as soon as they can make
it, I think it's time to really go after the Corporations in a way that
will scare the pants off them."

"What do you have in mind?" Brutaria asked me.

"Hit them where they least expect it."

"And where's that?"

"Right in the middle of their homes."

"Their what?"

"Right at the heart of their operations, look, there are thirty one
Corporation Headquarters on Terra, there are six more on Mars and the rest
are out on Saturn, we hit them all with everything we have and tear down
their structure from the inside, without any directions from the
Corporations the Navy will be headless, if we get real lucky they should
pull back to reconsider what they should do, remember what Santos said,
each Admiral wants to be the leader, with the Corporations out of action
they will probably start to fight amongst themselves before they worry
about us."

"Yes I see what you're getting at; it just might work if we can cause
enough trouble at their headquarters."

"Don't worry, when Santos and Kratos get here I'll fill you in on the
details I've been thinking of."

It was two more days before both Kratos and Santos could make it to the
base, within an hour we were all sitting down to talk it over, it took
little persuasion to get both of them on side, now it was time for the
details to be worked out, this took a full day but at the end of the
planning session we had what looked like a good workable plan.

For the next two weeks we set about gathering all the information we would
need to attack the Corporations at their heart, the most detailed of
planning had to be over the positions of their main office blocks and the
CEO compounds, we had forty two targets to hit at the same time as well as
watching over our own defences just in case the Navy had a few extra ships
to guard the homes of the rich and powerful.

"There's one thing more that might help us if you can wait for two weeks."
Santos said at the last meeting.

"What's that Santos?"

"The second Jump Ship will be ready then; it would give us the capacity to
hit both Terra and Mars with some heavy weaponry."

"Second Jump Ship, what second Jump Ship?"

"The one we started to finish after the first battle, the Council sent it
to us by "Accident" when we beat the Navy the first time; they thought it
would make a good "Training Ship"."

The smile in Santos voice told us all how much truth was in that statement
but at least now we had a good fighting chance, added to that came a report
of five more rebellions on the outer planets and moons, it seemed the
reports by Santos Pirate station were having some effect on those out on
the edge of the Corporation influence.

"So everyone, we now know what we have to do, we've hit Mars before so they
will be prepared, Santos, you take the Jump Ship and two of my Brother
Knights, I'll leave it to you as to what other ships you will need, Kratos,
can you take the two sniper units to Saturn, you are the only one here with
enough experience in long range shooting, I'll take my boys and Brutaria
with half the ships to Terra, we have to keep in contact, I want to hit
them all at the same time so they cannot call for any help until it's too
late."

"I'll get right on selecting my ships and crews." Santos said right away.

"I'll get the new boys ready; Ellis will need to learn to work with them."
Kratos said.

"Ellis? No way are you taking him with you, do you really think you can
take a small boy on an attack like this one, be sensible Kratos, this is
going to get dirty, it's no place for a young boy."

"Sargasso, you really don't know about Ellis do you, as far as him going
with us, well if he doesn't go them neither do I, we will need him, believe
me on this."

"Kratos, he's just a small boy, what on earth can he do in the sort of
fight we are getting into?"

"You want proof; ok try this, Ellis, GO."

As far as I knew Ellis was not even in the room but suddenly I felt a
weight land on my shoulders and the cold sharpness of a blade at my neck,
as I tried to spin and flip the light body on my back it disappeared
leaving only the after feel of the cold knife blade on my neck.

"What the fuck?"

"Well Sargasso, I know you have your abilities, find the boy and he stays
here."

As Kratos sat in his chair with a smug look on his grizzled face, I glanced
at my Brothers and sent them a message to start a deep scan of every place
the boy could be in the room, after five minutes of searching, we all came
up with nothing, there was no way the boy was in the room, I looked at the
smug face of Kratos.

"Ok where is he?"

"Right here on my lap, Ellis, switch off."

Immediately the small form of Ellis appeared sitting on Kratos knee, his
head was down and he was looking at me through his fringe of light hair
with an embarrassed look on his flushed face, his eyes held a little hint
of mischief as he slid the thin knife into the scabbard at his waist. Ellis
was dressed in a pale blue body suit that fit him like a glove, around his
very narrow waist was a thin black belt with the scabbard and a small black
box with a blue light.

"Ok Kratos, what was that all about and how the hell did he do that?"

"No one can track him, his brain is Positronic if you remember, he leaves
no signal trace, and the uniform was made especially for him by Gareth, he
can also move like a jump ship for some distance and his suit is even more
than just a camouflage suit, it's also impervious to any electronic fire
power, somehow it grounds out the charge, I even tried to put a .75 through
it with no success, mind you I made sure he was not wearing it at the time
just in case."

"Very funny, now tell me what's going on."

"With Ellis new brain he has direct contact with Gareth and everything he
knows, Gareth has been giving him improvements all the time he has been
here, take the new sniper boys, they have to work in tandem to get the best
results, Ellis can do it all by himself through his connection with Gareth,
he can almost outshoot me and both the sniper boys at any range, his
connection with Gareth means he can go anywhere without being seen or heard
as you just found out."

"Ok, I believe you, he can go along just don't pull any more tricks like
that one."

I watched as Ellis leaned in close to Kratos ear and whispered something to
him; I gave Kratos an enquiring look.

"He just asked if he could do the things with you that you do to all the
other boys when he's bigger?"

"What, how could he know what goes on in my quarters?"

"Hello, he's hooked into Gareth remember, he sees and hears everything
going on in the base as well as on most of the ships, what; does it spoil
your bed games?"

"You can leave that alone right now, ok people let's get to work, we only
have a couple of weeks for training and travel."

We all spilt up and went to get things sorted, the next few weeks were
going to be all or nothing for the new Federation, this was for all the
marbles.


TBC.

Artcart65@gmail.com



 

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