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Operation Hammerhead- Sneak Peek!


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Private Residence of Senator Okana

Parliament

Father Kielor of the New Covenant Church savored the forty year old Scotch. It would never do to have one of his flock seeing him drinking alcohol: regardless of its rarity or expense. He swirled it in his glass and breathed in its smoky fire.

Senator Okana continued his babbling, “Admiral Bassett got a message from the front and accelerated his departure. The fleet jumped away ten hours early.”

The Senator was a member of the Senate Intelligence and Defense Committee and was proud of the secrets that he held. So proud, that his incessant babbling broke the spell of the exquisite Scotch. Kielor sighed and said, “We are sure that all of the abominations are aboard?”

Okana said, “Most of them- all of the ones within the fleet. Our contacts in the Fleet Personnel Bureau made sure to post them to high value targets like carriers. Many of them are even fighter pilots.”

The Father smiled at the fat, idiot politician. It was easy enough to get them elected and still easier to lead them but their skills at thinking on their feet left much to be desired. At least this one didn’t have the wits to see where one plan ended and the next began.

Okana, obviously very pleased with himself continued, “I’m afraid that the fleet has faulty intelligence. Enemy strength is five times the estimates they were given. They are jumping into a meat grinder.”

Kielor asked, “What about the enemy. Aren’t they dangerous to the Alliance?”

Okana said, “Yes and no. What our intelligence people have discovered is they are completely robotic and are acting on their programming. They have secured five worlds and, on finding that they are in hostile territory, they have set up a perimeter around those worlds. Analysis of their behavior to date indicates they have assumed a primarily defensive posture and occasionally probe our positions.”

“What are they?”

Okana sipped his drink and said, “Intel thinks that they are an advance robotic force sent to prepare planets for colonization. Given the time and distance that it took for them to get here, we’re not expecting any colonists. We can handle them with enough firepower and that is being arranged. Poor Admiral Bassett and his clones just don’t have enough. We expect that they will hurt the enemy but they are just too badly out gunned.”

Kielor stood and said, “You’ve done well Senator. The agreed upon sum will be transferred to your accounts in 24 hours. I look forward to doing business with you in the future.”

The Priest extended his hand and the Senator shook it. The Senator noticed a tiny prick from the ring the Priest was wearing.

Some minutes after the haughty Priest had left his house, Okana collapsed and died.

Of the many lies that Kielor had told the Senator, the last one was that he was looking forward to doing business with him in the future. Kielor and his Church were done with him.

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"What is that smell?"

Master Chief Franks looked at the deformed bulkhead and saw that the gray paint was melting off the metal.

Power had failed. Everything was lit by red emergency lighting. Alarms were sounding. The few crew members still standing were all injured to one degree or another.

"There's a fire in that compartment. Move away from the bulkhead and take cover. It could blow."

He ran to the starboard squawk box and found that it was dead.

Stevens asked, "What hit us Chief?"

Franks said, "It had to be a missile. A big one. It hit us somewhere between frame 75 and 80 right before we jumped."

Gilliam said, "Damn. That's the main dynamos, fiber optics junction and... Oh Jesus we're screwed."

Franks said, "Shut up and do something useful. See if the starboard squawk box is functional."

"You, you and you, Help me move this junk so we can get to the damage control substation."

Chavez yelled, "Sir, the foam system for that compartment is in here. Can't we pump it full of foam and stop the fire?"

"Negative, negative. It's not just fire. It's heat and plasma. It's so hot it will vaporize the foam and explode. That's why it hasn't triggered."

Gilliam said, "Sir, the box is operational. I've got main Damage Control."

Franks ran across the deck littered with casualties and equipment that has been scattered like the toys of a petulant child by the shock of the impact. If he had time to think about it, the open staring eyes of the dead would creep him out and the living squirming in pain would paralyze him.

"DC this is Master Chief Franks. I'm in compartment 334 on the aft side of frame 80. There's a fire on the other side of the bulkhead. I've got a lot of dead and wounded here."

"Franks, can you move further aft?"

"Negative. The bulkhead is warped and the hatches are inoperable. We're stuck here."

"Be advised that we're badly hurt and have lost most of our internal sensors in that area. We need to vent the effected compartments to space but we're not sure which ones."

"I think we lost everything from frame 75 to 80."

"I concur. Get in the shelters and prepare to vent those compartments to space."

"But sir. I've got thirty people here at least!"

"Get them in the shelters Chief. Either we get that fire out or we lose the ship. Save the living. You got two minutes."

Franks put down the handset and yelled, "Everybody that's not in BDUs, get in the shelters. Those of us in BDU's, activate survival mode and hang on. It's about to get windy in here. Move it, move it, move it, now, now, now!"

Thirty seconds later, there was a jarring explosion that cracked the red-hot bulkhead. Rivets popped out like rifle bullets and killed crewman Gillian. Thick noxious black smoke began seeping through the cracks.

It's amazing what a little motivation will do to get people moving. The two emergency shelters were cram filled and closed in seconds.

The melting paint running down the bulkhead began to catch fire. The air/RC relief valve blew and the compartment began to fill with a fog of toxic gases that the life support system couldn't keep up with.

Franks grabbed the handset and yelled over the noise, "I don't know what you're going to do but you had better do it now, we're losing her."

He activated survival mode in his Battle Dress Uniform. Instantly the nano-polomer garment changed into an emergency survival suit.

He locked his arm around a ladder as a hurricane of gases began blowing though the compartment out the vents near the roof. It took twenty seconds to evacuate the atmosphere from the compartment but it seemed like an eternity.

The white-hot heat of the plasma fire was replaced by the deep cold of interstellar space.

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