No Rest For the Wicked Free Fleet 3
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Earth is safe for now, with it came some much needed surprises. Though if Salchar was expecting a break he’s in for a rude awakening, well he’s already done that once…. but anyway.
Lady Fairgate has sensed something has gone wrong at Parnmal. Thinking that Jorsht is now trying to carve out his own little kingdom, she sends Captain Kelu, one of her favourite enforcers with the largest Syndicate Fleet assembled since the Syndicate and the Union went head to head.
Though Kelu is in for some nasty surprises when he reaches Parnmal, Jorsht isn’t home and this little bit of space is defended by the Free Fleet. Salchar and his people are going to have to pull some major tricks out of their hats to survive the defense of Parnmal. It’s time to see if the Free Fleet has what it takes to survive. No matter what the outcome, their going to make sure no one is going to forget their names
Excerpt from No Rest For the Wicked
Chapter – Siege of Parnmal
Captain Kelu looked at the enemy fleet as it exited Parnmal system. While it made tactical sense, no one in the syndicate would choose to fight without an exit plan if the battle turned against them. Which only furthered Kelu’s suspicions that Jorsht hadn’t just rebelled against Lady Fairgate.
If it was a syndicate coup then there would have to be some clear gain. No one in the Syndicate does anything out of the kindness of their hearts. That leaves two possibilities. One it’s not Syndicate personnel, or two it is a Syndicate coup. He hid a shudder at those thoughts, neither one was particularly comforting. It has to be an outside force, just look at the condition of those ships. That damned PDS was definitely not Union tech. So there has to at least be a new player. Why am I trying to figure this out? I’ve got Gogs for that.
He rose and walked out of the bridge. It didn’t take him long to navigate his Dreadnought’s corridors. He walked into a room of cluttered parts, screens and cabling that surrounded a young Ershue that peeked of his screens at Kelu. The race was notorious for pranks, Kelu had taught the kid to not prank him. Which was why his normal wings were just stubs on his back.
“Gog I need to know what’s been happening recently in this area,”
“Humans got used as replacement crew,” Gogs said swinging in his chair, looking at the ceiling in thought.
Kelu nodded. He didn’t agree with having entire races lied to and having such people as unknowing slaves. One slip up and your trained cannon fodder would turn on you. The cost to replace them after using their kill switches. Just annoying.
“There is a plan to cut off trade in the area. The planet Chaleel, an agricultural world should be suppressed by now.” Gogs paused before looking to Kelu. “That’s about it.”
“What were the Chaleelian forces?” Kelu felt a flash of hope that he’d found the cause.
“Ground based. Their space abilities were outdated Corvettes without parts,” Gogs said, spinning a stylus in his fingers and pushing his seat from side to side. Ershue had an inability to stay still. Unless Gogs was focused on his console, he was always moving in some erratic manner.
“Orvunut was also guarding something,” Gogs said. Kelu didn’t miss the coy look in Gogs’ eyes.
“What was he guarding?” Kelu hoped his tone would get it across that he was not in a mood for games.
“Well, it was large,” Gogs said slowly, trying to draw out some kind of response from Kelu.
“Dreadnought?” Kelu sighed, his tone hard as he looked at Gogs. Gog’s features fell into an almost sulk. Kelu wasn’t playing along.
“You know that was his ship and not what he was taking,” Gogs said, now his turn to be annoyed.
“Gogs,” Kelu’s said with some bite in his tone.
“It had factory ships attached to it,” Gogs said in an attempt to keep the guessing game going.
“Station?” Kelu said, damning himself for the slip up as Gogs grinned. Kelu usually liked these little back and forths, but right now his baser instincts were getting ahead of him, as his finger tapped his rail pistol.
“Close, bigger,” Kelu’s finger stopped tapping his pistol.
No, it couldn’t be, why the hell would there be one out here? There’s only one thing bigger than a station, with factory ships attached to it.
“A shipyard?” He half whispered.
“Nancy,” Gogs confirmed, tapping a command on his console. A three dimensional wire frame of the shipyard unfurled on all the room’s screens.
“What’s that doing here? I thought it was destroyed.” Kelu said, leaning closer to Gog’s view screen to get a better look at the ship yard.
“Nope. Lady Fairgate kept the movement quiet. She used ships with slave crews, so there was less people to talk about it,” Gogs said. Kelu knew it was better than to ask where Gogs had got that information from. Or if the Ershue would have shared it before he asked about it.
“Why all the way out here? There’s nothing,” Kelu stood, still looking at the view screen thoughtfully.
“Exactly,” Gogs said as if Kelu had pointed out his own question’s answer. With another tap of controls, a star map appeared. “There’s no one here from the old Union. Plus none of the races tried expanding in this direction. So it’s the furthest from The Line.” Gogs voice took on a dark edge as Kelu felt his fight hormones spike. He pointed to the region of space which had been long ago referred to as simply ‘the line’. The worst battles of the Union-Kalu war were fought there.
“You’re not trying to say that the Kalu are back.” Kelu asked.
“Nope, I’m just saying it looks like Lady Fairgate is making a nice little bolt hole if anything happens.”
“Nothing was confirmed,” he said, looking at Gogs who lifted his limbs.
“Nothing was denied either,”
He’s got you there, and there has to be a reason that Lifendi isn’t down here.
“I want you to see what you can find out about that. Also I want to know who the hell is in Parnmal as soon as possible,”Kelu said. His mind turned towards how much he would get if he captured not only Parnmal, but Nancy back from these bastards. The other stuff he could worry about later.
First he had to have Parnmal, he might as well shoot himself if he disobeyed Lady Fairgate’s orders.
Since Salchar had returned to Parnmal he’d been a man possessed. Mad Monk hadn’t seen his commander this focused even when he and Mecha Tail had been preparing for their return to Mecha Assault Two.
Mad Monk doubted if the man had slept in the three weeks that he’d been at Parnmal. He’d had everyone training in hand to hand combat. Shrift and Felix had finished creating a mecha factory, Powered armor factory. Monk reminded himself, Lady Fairgate had changed the name of the armor for some unknown reason. True Mechas were towering machines, usually with damned massive weaponry. Though there was other things to worry about other than the name of his armor.
The powered armor, or mecha factories, were pumping out mechas for every creature on Parnmal at an alarming rate. Salchar wanted everyone to not only have a suit of powered armor, but to also know how to use them before the Syndicate forces attacked.
The mechas increased a person’s strength, allowed them to operate in any environment and were heavily armored. They were the workhorses of the Free Fleet. They were as likely to be used for training inside a Free Fleet ship, as they were to be moving heavy materials, or working on the surface of Parnmal.
The Commandos deadly skill with the armor was unmatched. Which served as a good deterrent to syndicate prisoners across Parnmal.
The syndicate personnel were used as a labor force getting Parnmal’s interior ready. Salchar had laid out a plan to turn the station a death trap. Henry and his commanders had taken Salchar’s initial ideas, and added their own twisted plans. Normal corridors were now deadly funnels lined with super-reflective walls which would take hours for plasmid weaponry to get through. Blast out panels filled with shrapnel lined corridors as portable cannons waited, ready to hammer anyone that tried to advance through those hellish gauntlets. The newest weapons system was taken from Earth. While railguns were hard to manufacture. Felix had found out that a few fifty or sixty caliber round’s in upgraded machine guns and gatling guns, did the trick against Powered armor.
It was those weapons that Felix was talking about right now.
“With Min Hae’s research with the solid projectile weaponry such as the weaponry from Earth as well as the railguns we’ve been able to create smart rounds,” A hologram filled the room as Felix stood indicating to the new round with obvious pride. Monk had seen the ‘tests’ which showed Felix and Shrift turning broken armor into truly useless junk.
“The first rounds will have a timed delay, and effectively your rounds become shotgun rounds,” Felix played a clip of a target as a round left the barrel of a gatling gun travelling a few meters before it shredded itself, turning into a cone of shrapnel that ripped it’s target apart.
“The second is a round that will explode once inside a target,”
Again a video played as a round went through a plate of armor, entering the ballistics jelly behind it, and exploding. The video played again in full speed.
“Fuck me, we need to get some cleaner bots,” Felix’s voice was clearly audbile as the armor plate and remaining jelly fell from their clamps.
“Well that wasn’t supposed to be in there.” Felix muttered, pressing a button and going to the next video. Monk didn’t miss the grin on Felix or Henry’s face, or the way Salchar was trying to hide his own amusement by looking focused, and covering his mouth with his hand.
Min Hae didn’t even bat an eyelid at the antics of his fellow commanders.
“The third one explodes behind cover,” Felix continued as the round passed through a doorway, exploding and hitting the jelly to either side of the door.
“Seems quite effective. How long till you can have reloads for every solid state weapon?” Salchar asked, the earlier humor gone from his eyes.
“I could have a hundred thousand rounds in two days’ time,” Felix said without missing a beat.
“What if I wanted Planetary Rail Cannons priority?” Salchar asked, leaning forward.
Felix looked at the ceiling as if finding the information there.
“I could get you a thousand rounds for the PRC’s,” he said as his gaze returned to Salchar.
“For every fifty thousand rounds for other weapons I want a hundred rounds for the PRC’s,” Salchar said as Felix made a note.
“Now Min Hae does it look like they’ve noticed our field?” Salchar asked, talking about the minefield that was now surrounding the approaching Syndicate Fleet.
Monk had been thorough in his creating defenses for Parnmal. The main defenses were a series of PRC’s not only on the station but on thruster stabilized asteroids. A secondary tier of defense were hollowed out asteroids moved by pressurized gas. This made them damned near invisible to sensors as they sowed their deadly minefield.
The station itself had planetary grade shield generators as well as ablative armor covering areas not protected by the massive Asteroids thick natural armor. While Parnmal was massive, at over a hundred forty kilometers diameter, not including it’s rocky off shoots. The syndicate and the Free Fleet had only dug into the asteroid about five percent of that. Min Hae was still piecing together what had happened to the planet Parnmal had been a part of. Whoever had done it had the power to crack planets, which was a scary thought indeed.
“They are in place as you wanted. Though I had something interesting happen, an incoming transmission.”
Min Hae had changed from the man that was grasping at straws trying to get information from the Syndicate from Resilient’s armories. He had garnered a calm that rivaled Monk’s as he talked about anything from the food you liked, to how a reactor could go critical with simple piece of code.
There was no question about him being the director of the Intelligence department. He was cold and as ruthless as the information he found. He dealt in facts and was one of the pushing forces that was trying to figure out what combinations of different societies tech could lead to. He reminded Monk of Henry for his drive and the way he treated his subordinates, but without the air of relaxed competence. Instead, Min Hae had the deadly calm of a serpent pointed at anyone that would dare hurt its family.
Monk had seen Min Hae in interview rooms. The cold efficient way in which he got subjects to talk had made him infamous amongst the Syndicate personnel. He had gained the nickname of Merchertevak. It was a bird native to Drvntrni that fired small poisonous needles at its prey, stalking them until it’s enemy was unable to fight back. Then it would begin its feast.
He never hurt those he interrogated, but he was a master of mind games. Monk had seen many of the files on most of the garbage that called Parnmal their prison. Few if any of them deserved any kind of mercy, but Monk and the rest of the Free Fleet treated them fairly. If they didn’t then they wouldn’t be any better than them.
“Really? What was this transmission about?” Salchar asked, the other heads in the room focusing on Min Hae.
Min Hae was always finding useful tidbits of information and anything he had to say could save lives.
“There’s a person by the name of Gogs who wants to defect,” Min Hae said.
“Are we sure that he’s telling the truth?” Henry asked, unhappy to be trusting some unknown.
“That’s what he’s saying,” Min Hae paused in thought before continuing. “He’s also the one that was able to find our little virus and for now has stopped it from spreading. He says that he hasn’t told anyone, and if we grant him asylum he’ll allow the virus to spread.”
“Does he know who we are?” Salchar said, the tension in the room growing. Many people in this room had friends and family on Earth or on Chaleel. If they failed, they would pay the price.
“He and the fleet he’s with still aren’t sure. Though they seem to suspect that Orvunut is out of the picture. Captain Kelu who is leading the Syndicate force, is focused on taking Parnmal before any excursions past us,” Min Hae said. “I agree with Henry about trusting this Gog. I wouldn’t bring it up if I didn’t think it might be somehow useful.”
He looked around the table, those solemn faces agreed with his own thoughts.
“There is one other thing he said of importance.” Min Hae said, pausing as if he was trying to figure out how to best say it.
“Just spit it out or we might be waiting an age.” Salchar said the grin not quite making it to his eyes when debating such serious subjects.
“Very well,” Min Hae’s own serious tone making a few people shift in their seats. “The Corvette Kelu sent was to gather more reinforcements as we thought, though not from the nearest people. He sent the Corvette to report directly to Lady Fairgate. So whatever’s coming will be a large force indeed,”
“How long will it take that force to get here?” Salchar asked, his grin evaporated int steely tones.
“About eight months,” Min Hae said. “The Syndicate is slow and they will stop in every system they can, to pillage, trade and suck up as much free time as possible.
“How was Kelu on us so quickly then?” Henry asked.
“Kelu is this sector’s enforcer. He must be connected into the FTL relay’s that Lady Fairgate took over when she took the Union. He must be out of that range to send a Corvette to her. ” Min Hae replied.
“Now the question is how we get them to attack before they get those reinforcements.” Salchar said, silence only cut by Salchar’s fingers tapping the table in thought.
“Hit them with cannons?” Henry suggested as Salchar shook his head, a small smile on his lips.
“While that will do quite a bit of damage to them,” Salchar said, the short lived humor dying on his lips. “They’ll just run out of range again. We need to make them think that we’re weak,” Salchar said, his tone business-like in contrast to Henry’s.
“Why don’t we use the mines? Push them towards us,” Monk said.
“That was going to be my final resort. I want to see if we can get them to come in guns blazing and overconfident first.”
“Riot?” Bok Soo said, as eyes turned to him with questioning looks. “We make a show of some stuff blowing up. Then we have someone send a panicked message to Kelu saying that the ones going against Jorsht need his assistance.” Bok Soo shrugged, it wasn’t elegant, but it could work.
“For what reason would they attack Jorsht?” Monk asked. Everyone was thinking the same thing.
“Took their ships and there’s a reward for his head,” Min Hae said. It made sense for the Syndicates, money was god to them.
There were no arguments from around the table.
“Make the preparations, in one week we’ll lure them in, or pull them in. We’re going to lose the PRC’s that they saw already. To sell this we’re going to have to prove that the PRC’s are out of order. We’ll have to give up a few not facing the syndicate as well,” Salchar said, Monk making notes as well as a few other people in the room. “Henry, how are our Commandos?” Monk knew Salchar was up to date on the Commando’s situation, but the others in the room. Yet the commander also knew that others might not be. A leader didn’t just make sure he was up to date with information. He made sure everyone was on the same page. If people didn’t know what was going on at a company level, then things could quickly unravel.
“They’re all fighting fit. I’ve made mixed companies with veteran leadership throughout. We’ve got thirty two thousand Commandos fully trained. Thankfully the next rotation of trainees weren’t slated to be here for another two weeks meaning there’s no new boots around.”
He threw something into the centre of the table, which turned into a model of Parnmal. A rainbow of colors highlighted the map.
“Each squad has been assigned primary, secondary and tertiary areas throughout the station, modifying defenses as they each felt fit. They’ve turned it into a true killing ground,” Even as tired as he was, Henry’s pride in his people was clear.
“I’ve had them conducting drills on every site, making it so they can switch between multiple areas depending on where the Syndicate comes from. There’s companies ready to board any ship that connects to our airlocks. Airlocks have been blocked off in certain areas, so that there are fewer entry points and bottle-necking for the enemy when they come. We’ve got dead ends, automated turrets, blow out panels and every contraption we can think of to bleed the enemy.
Henry’s calm demeanour changed to an unsure tone.
“The one thing I have an issue with is the Syndicate prisoners.” Henry finally said, looking to the others in the room. Identical grim looks came back from around the conference table.
“If I may,” Monk said as he raised his hand. Salchar waved for him to take the floor,
“We will be securing them in the new barracks. They were being made for the new trainees. They’re like the current barracks on Hachiro. Each squad pod has their own air supply, food, power and such. They haven’t had any electronic systems installed. So everything is manual, and the doors can be modified to only open from the outside. It’s actually better than the hangar we’re keeping them in now,” Monk finished.
“Is that satisfactory?” Salchar asked the others, seeing the same unhappy faces as Monk. Though there was no other way to secure them. “If you have any suggestions for Monk, pass them on afterwards. I do not want to be worrying about fighting a battle on two sides.” That got a few grim faces.
“Any other issues?” Salchar asked, but no one looked to have anything.
“Alright, let’s get some grub then. That includes you too Min Hae,” Salchar said as the man was about to make an excuse. Min Hae cracked a grin, Monk smiled at the sight. The man put himself under a lot of stress, and when he’d gotten the message about Orvunut too late he’d buried himself in work. Monk had told Salchar, who’d had a talk with Min Hae, getting him to lighten up a little. Now Monk had to see if he could mutter a few words into Salchar’s ear in an attempt to get him to at least rest before this all kicked off. The battle was coming no matter what and Monk wanted to Salchar to have more than just Wake up keeping him functioning.