Longing for the Good Old Days

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Recently I’ve been talking with someone about Star Catcher and it’s been great getting to hear the thoughts that have gone through their head while reading the story.  I love hearing what people have to say about my stories, how they view the characters, if they like them or hate them, are drawn in by one aspect or another of the story.  But lately it’s gotten me thinking about how I wrote Star Catcher, the style that I used, the wording, the description, the emotion, everything.  Thinking back on when I first wrote the story during NaNoWriMo, I remember pounding out as many words as possible to meet the count for that day and nothing else, but I when I go back and read the story, the level of immersion that I feel with the characters, with the universe, boggles my mind.

Over the last year or so I’ve been working on two more novel length stories that follow after Star Catcher and as I think about how I’m writing them, the wording that I’m using, the description, the emotion that I’m trying to convey in them, it feels forced.  The characters have changed and it feels as if they are only partly there, like I’m missing some aspect of them that I somehow included in Star Catcher but seem to have lost in the preceding time between the stories.

I guess in that time between stories, I’ve changed as well.  I find myself rarely thinking about the universe Star Catcher is set in.  Granted there have been times that I have had spurts of inspiration to write and post some random scene from that universe to here, but even in those, they don’t feel the same as Star Catcher does when I reread it.  So, what’s missing?  Is it the forced creativity brought forth in the rush of NaNoWriMo?  The innocence of a freshman college student?  The lack of stress during those days?  The new-found freedom of being on my own?

I also find myself reading less and less these days.  I have not had the drive to search out or pick up a new book to read.  I attribute this mostly to financial and college stresses.  There were days when I would give anything to stay lost in a bookstore for hours on end and spend my wallet dry.  I find the same thing happening with video games.  My list of unfinished games is growing and though I have some initial elation from getting new games I barely make time to pick them up, instead turning to mindless internet surfing to fill my down-time.  Granted, Minecraft has been an addiction that has helped to fill my time as well and I enjoy playing with family and friends, but even that has suffered from this lack of drive that I seem to have acquired.

I would like to attribute this all to the stresses of college and working to obtain an engineering degree, but I feel there’s more to it.  I have lost habits that I have had in the past and have developed new ones to replace them that I feel are less productive in some sense of the word.  While anime has sufficed to provide me with the level of story immersion that I recall experiencing from books, I do long to return to my paper-bound roots, as it were.

While my thoughts these days reside with financial, career, and future choices, as well as food and house-hold chores, in my late night introspective musings, as I write this, I find myself considering all the changes that have happened in my life to bring me to this point in my writing.  I started this blog as a way to promote myself, Star Catcher, and any future writing.  I have long since fallen off with updating it regularly, much to my own disappointment and possibly that of others.  Since going a second year in the dorms, obtaining roommates, and having lived in two different apartment arrangements, I feel I have lost that sense of freedom that I once had when I first was left to my own devices at college.

Now, I know I’ve rambled completely off topic I’m sure from my original intent for this post, but let me come full circle.  Rereading sections of Star Catcher, Jayko’s character, while reserved and not without troubles, is happy and care-free.  While I tried to capture some of that in the second story, I find he is less of the character he was, without depth and missing that extra energy.  The setting of the story doesn’t help this in any way I suppose as I decided to start crumbling his world around him, but even with that, he should still be able to achieve that depth of character.  I feel this is worse in the third story, where I have thrown him into the military war-machine in an attempt to mold him into the future character that I had set up so long ago.  But I feel he’s losing that happy, care-free side of himself in all of this and that part of him needs to survive if I want to keep that depth for him.  And truth be told, I’m probably describing my thoughts on this in the most side-ways way possible and this could all be attributed to random, delusional, late-night, caffeine-induced, introspective musings.

But, and I stress that ‘but’… I have gained several things that I know I need to do:

  1. I need to pick up a book again.  Maybe a past book, one that I loved, get myself back into the series, reread it to bring back the enjoyment that I once felt when I first cracked it open.
  2. I need to reread Star Catcher.  I need to get that feeling of the original story back in my brain.  Hopefully I’ll be able to pick up on my old writing style and merge it back into my current stories, improve upon it, etc.
  3. Revisit character bios and get a feel for who my characters are again.  I’ve lost touch with them, that much I can feel.  I need to do more character spotlights and develop them, build upon old bios and flesh them out to get a feel of who they are in the current stories while retaining certain aspects from past stories.
  4. I need to write.  Doesn’t matter what, I just need to start writing again.  Not bi-monthly, not bi-weekly.  I need to do some sort of writing at least every other day to pick up the pieces of my shattered creativity.  (We’ll see how well I stick to this one.  It is something I need to do however.)

I guess as the days march along I will find out if I will stick to any of these goals or if they are just random, delusional, late-night, caffeine-induced, introspective musings that won’t amount to more than another blog post.  Here’s that I will.

 

Random Short #19: Promises

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Happy Holidays all!  Finals are over for this term and break is well under way.  I can’t say I’ve been doing as much writing as I would like to be, but I’ve had a scene that was spurred by a combination of music that I’ve been listening too and an idea that is to come in Jayko’s storyline–not too terribly far in the future from Star Catcher.  I had to get it out of my head despite it being a couple of books away at the least.  I can’t wait to get to this point in the storyline, but it needs a good amount of development before I’ll be able to reach it and dive into it fully.  In the mean time however, enjoy this little excerpt from a future story.  Cheers!

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Introspective Musings About Life, Engineering, and Writing

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I know I say this almost every post that’s not a short story post or another scene for Black-Heart, but boy it’s been a while since I’ve actually put anything on here.  And as you probably guessed it from the title, this post is going to be a little philosophical.  Just a bit.  There will be stuff about writing too, hopefully.  Don’t worry.

You know how in high school how the advisers and teachers and everyone else is asking what we want do or be when we grow up?  How they start pushing all us young students to choose a career path and decide who we are and want to be?  I remember it.  And call me a late bloomer, I’m still thinking about it.  But, I have a feeling we all are still asking ourselves that deep down.

For most they push those questions of careers and future onto us around senior year of high school.  Currently, it’s my senior year of college, so I’ve already made my decision in that regard.  I thought I knew what I wanted to do.  And I remember saying, “I’m going to go into Aerospace Engineering so I can go to space!”  Then things changed.  I missed the deadline for applying to University of Washington and instead got accepted to Oregon State University and University of Nevada, Reno.  Both good engineering colleges, but not for Aerospace.

Ok, so maybe Mechanical Engineering is where I would want to start.  It provides a good base for me to head into Aerospace.  Sounds good to me, I’ll start with Mechanical, get a Bachelors, and then head up to UW to get a Masters in Aerospace.  Good, I have a plan for the future.

Well, through the ups and downs of college.  The hard work, long nights and repeated struggle to keep my GPA above water, mindset’s change and with them goals.  Which keeps bringing me back to the question of what I want to be when I grow up.

It’s difficult to keep your goals and the reasons you started off with in sight when faced with repeated challenges that can seem rather daunting.  I wanted to design and build spaceships.  I wanted to be able to sit down at the drawing board and pull from my experience and knowledge the design for a ship that would best the space shuttle and bring the future of space travel into the now.  That was my reason for starting into Mechanical and wanting to head for Aerospace.

Reality hits hard however and a decent dose of it can open eyes and turn heads.  I learned that we’ve hit a bit of a wall with space travel.  Monetary wise and technology wise.  NASA no longer gets the funding it needs to put some of it’s far reaching ideas to work, and the technology to get us out there hasn’t changed in a while.  We’ve optimized it down to the best of our current knowledge.  Granted, SpaceX and the rest of the private industry are working their magic to take the next step and figure out how to go above and beyond what we currently have.

Where does that leave me however?  Sitting at the library studying my ass off in hopes I don’t fail my next test completely.  And it’s the fact that I’ve been doing that for several years now that’s gotten me thinking:  Am I cut out for Engineering?  I’ve made it this far, so why not?  Am I going to ever get to go to space, to experience the worlds that I write about?  Probably not in this lifetime– unless I want to become an astronaut and be a part of the crew on the International Space Station.  Granted, that would be cool, but I want to go farther.  But then, if I do want to go into Aerospace and try to get with a company like SpaceX, do I have the drive and dedication to stick it out for several more years to get my Masters?  Even then will I still be able to get in with SpaceX?  Do I even want to go to Grad School?  What would I research if I did?  Am I even interested in a specific area of Mechanical, or Aerospace Engineering to even want to get that in-depth with it?

That seems to be the one thing that’s been plaguing me the most.  Am I interested enough in my chosen major or even specific aspects of that major that I want to work with it the rest of my life?  So far I’ve encountered many things in engineering that have been “neat” and “cool” and “interesting”, but I haven’t found anything that stands out enough to me where I could say, “This is the coolest thing ever!  I want to learn everything I can about this one thing and I would be happy doing this for the rest of my life!”  And that troubles me.  I look at everyone else around me and the majority of them have something that they want to do in engineering, some goal that they are working toward.

And this brings me full circle:  What is my goal?  What do I want to do with my life, with my degree?  Well, I know the reason I got into engineering in the first place: to head up into space.  Maybe that’s all well and good, but what’s the core of that want?

Let’s refine it a little bit:  Ever since I can remember I’ve been obsessed (I guess you could call it that maybe) with science fiction, mainly the space opera genre.  I love seeing the amazing star-ship concepts that people come up with to traverse the vast darkness of space and all the little technical details of those ships.

Ok, that’s a start.  Let’s refine it some more:  Well, I want to see those ships and everything that makes them work become a reality.

Good.  Superb.  That’s a helluva good reason to get into engineering.  And that takes into account more than just Aerospace, right?

Sure, let’s follow that train of thought for a moment and make it a slightly more general statement, something to build off of:  The reason I’m working to become a Mechanical Engineer is to see science fiction become a reality.

Let’s get building then.

When I see others’ goals in engineering, I feel they’re more geared toward the industry.  “We’re going to revolutionize it and make it better, faster, more efficient with this component or gizmo.”  This seems to be the driving statement behind everything in engineering.

That’s cool.  But I’m not sold, completely.  How about this?  Let’s take this ridiculous, fantasmical concept that everyone thinks is fantasy and make it a reality.  Screw optimization, lets get our hands dirty.  Trial and error!  Let’s build something from science fiction!

Now that I can get behind.  Maybe that statement was there at the beginning when I started out in Engineering, but as the end of college nears, it’s all “specialize in this”, “learn how to do that”, “you’ll need it in the industry.”  What if sitting behind a desk isn’t what I want?  What if the reason I’m learning all this stuff isn’t to go out and be “successful” in life?  Frankly I could care less about being successful in the industry.  As long as I can build myself a ship that will traverse the stars, I could be the poorest man on the Earth and still be happy when I woke up every day.

Next question:  How I am I going to go about achieving that?

Well, back to square one, I guess.  At least I’ve determined a goal I can get behind.  Maybe this is why I like writing so much.  I get to create all this fantasmical tech and then put it into a universe where I can play with it.

I guess as long as I can write and keep making up crazy ideas for technology that I would like to see happen, I would be alright with living a mild-mannered life as long as I have someone to share it with, and a decent pay rate to keep myself elbow deep in my random hobbies and entertainment.

Well, that makes for an uplifting and slightly depressing blog post.  At least, for me that is.  Even being back at square one, I guess it helps that I can start somewhere with a better idea of what I want.

And the tl;dr version:  Bit of an existential crisis.  I’m a writer trying to be an engineer and an engineer trying to be a writer and it’s not doing me any favors with the choices that I’ve made.

Idea’s and Inspiration

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As of late, well, let’s call it a while, I haven’t really kept up with blogging all that much.  I’ve posted a few Random Short Stories, and more of Black-Heart, but not many ideas or updates on life or writing, which I feel is what people would rather read than waiting for a new update on Black-Heart.  I know I get frustrated when my favorite web-comics don’t update on time.  Regardless, I haven’t been active on the blog and that can drive readers away too.  And if content is bland and there are days when I’m pretty bland– I digress though.

The reason I’m writing today is just what the title says.  I’ve got some ideas and inspiration that have been popping into my head and I want to expand upon them.

Lately, when I’ve had a good chunk of time, I’ve been binging on an anime called Fairy Tail.  Great anime in my opinion (if you are an anime fan or know what anime is. If not that’s ok too, just skip ahead).  I describe it as a combination of Naruto and One Piece, silly but with some serious parts.  Lots of epic battles and a great overarching storyline.  Sadly it ends at episode 175.  I hear it cuts out mid-story-arc, but I’ve heard a rumor (not sure if it’s true) that it’s going to start up again in September sometime.  I’m hopeful!

All the epicness going on in the story-arc I’m in right now has been getting my mind whirling with ideas and epicness for my own stories.  I’ve been fixated on Jayko lately and a specific scene which has been developing in my head.  I want it to be epic and to have a multitude of things going on at once as it’s a battle scene.  I’ve already posted about three parts of the scene as Random Short Stories.  But there’s still more to come.  I just haven’t worked it out completely yet.

So, far I’ve brought back the Commandos from a previously trunked story, set up a massive fleet for Jayko to command, taken that fleet to the doorstep of the enemy, dropped mechs right into the middle of a battlefield and set up the main characters to head into heavy fighting.  I’ve got ideas whirling around that I need to develop on where the Commandos and Jayko have to fight their way to a key control center.  I want them to encounter heavy resistance and to be not be able to stop the Wormhole Gate they are assaulting from being activated.

Trying to add on to the epicness that I’m trying to go for, Jayko calls in Helios Station, an ancient space station of massive proportions that drops from FTL into the middle of the space battle and absorbs the brunt of the energy projected into space by the Wormhole Gate, stopping it from opening.

What’s been difficult for me with all of this, has been trying to convey everything that’s happening in the battle at once, to give the reader a rush as they progress through the battle following the Commandos.  To convey the size of the Gate and Helios Station.  The awe as it drops into battle, scattering dreadnaught size battleships as it moves into position over the planet.

So my question to all you other writers out there is this:  How do you convey something that’s supposed to be fast paced, that’s supposed to have something big happen that makes your characters stop and stare, and think, “Holy-sh–t!”?

And if you’re not a writer but a reader:  What do you think makes a scene in a book give you that same feeling described above?

Random Short #18: Hard Strike

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Laurel lay at the crest of the bluff overlooking the valley below.  Set in front of her on it’s bi-pod, was here long-range kinetic scout rifle.  It’s butt snugged up against her shoulder-plate, visor linked into its optics, she scanned the entrenched Ssin.  Their silver-plated arched forms strode about on patrol around the perimeter set at the base of the mountains.

Large ground to air cannons had been set up around the valleys leading in to key points.  Going in by ground seemed to be the only option to Laurel with the gravitational distortion enveloping the ring of mountains, preventing any orbital strikes on the area.  Not to mention the Ssin fleet orbiting high overhead.

The valley below her that they had been tasked to recon was the most direct route into the Gate caldera, as Jayko had called it during their briefing.  The wide opening into the valley from the grasslands was perfect for a joint air and ground attack.  She knew it, and so did the Ssin.

The sun was heading toward the horizon, falling behind her.  This strike needed to happen soon.  Laurel could only hope that the info they’d sent up to the Arcayan advance vessel had made it back to Jayko and the rest of the fleet.

Catching movement through the scope, she saw the two figures of the twins moving quickly, nimbly through the Ssin fortifications in the valley below.  They were heading back.

Good.  They need to get their asses back up here.  Both Tappen and Tarren had opted to set up some sabotage on the massive cannons protecting the valley entrance.  Laurel panned ahead of them a ways to a Ssin patrol that was headed right for the twins.

Letting out a hiss of breath from between her teeth, she sighted in on the lead Ssin, mentally activating her radio.  “Patrol, baring twelve hundred from your position,” she said as calmly as she could.  Just watching them move through the Ssin forces put her on edge.  “The Created”, as they were called by the Arcayans, were some of the fiercest and most deadly opponents that the squad had ever faced.  And if they were allowed to live, they adapted quickly, so the next time they fought, there was no chance of survival.

“Come on,” she hissed quietly.

“Clear,” called back the twins in unison.

She let out a breath she hadn’t known she’d been holding and panned away from the lean Ssin looking for the twins.  They had vanished from their previous path and were no where to be seen.

“Just keep it quiet down there and get back up here in one piece.”

There was a double clicked response from their radios.

Now, where’s Ben?  She scanned the hills leading up to the fortifications.  He’d headed off to get a look from a different angle and had sent back some good intel from his recon.  However, he was supposed to be back by now.

As if on queue, her radio came alive with his voice.  “I’m on your six.  What’s the sit-rep?”

“Glad to have you back.  Twins are just finishing up on their end.  Intel’s away, so we should be getting a response sometime soon hopefully,” replied Laurel.  She felt Ben’s presence as he crawled up next to her on his elbows, a scope held in one hand.

“I don’t see ‘em down there,” he said scanning the fortifications.

“They skirted around a patrol.”

“I give ‘em two minutes.”  Ben kept the scope up to his visor trying to locate them.

“Give us some credit,” came Tappen’s response from their radios.

“How ‘bout thirty?” chimed in Tarren.  “We’re on your six.”

Ben grunted.  “Now all we need is the cavalry, then we can really get this party started.”

Laurel reached out and flipped up the bi-pod on her rifle and started a backward crawl from the edge of the bluff, rifle cradled in her arms.  When she was back far enough she sat back on one leg, and checked the charge on her rifle.  Tappen and Tarren came up next to her, crouching.  Ben joined them momentarily.

“Do you really think this is going to work?” he asked.  “They have a helluva lot of defenses.  Just between us.”

Laurel shook her head.  “Don’t start.  Everything is riding on this and you know it.  You saw how serious those Arcayans were in orbit.  I just wonder when they’re getting here.”

Ben nodded.  Silent.  Then, his head jerked up.  “Holy shit.”

Laurel and the twins turned to look at what he’d seen behind them.  At the same instant their radios came alive with chatter.  “Heavies incoming!  Look alive down there!”

“Strike cruisers!  In atmosphere!?” cried out Ben in shock.

On the horizon the clouds had parted into a mist, whisked away by the drives of the array of Gamma-Class Heavy Strike-Cruisers that were descending from orbit onto a path right up the valley toward their position.

“Let’s kick the door in!  Cover your heads!”

A pinpoint of light winked at tip of the cannon slung under the belly of the cruiser.  Laurel and the squad threw themselves to the ground, covering their heads as the super-sonic round impacted on the gravitational distortion behind them. The ripple of the shock-wave engulfed the area in a roar of sound light and debris.

Even on their perch several clicks out from the Ssin fortifications, the squad felt the full force of the strike.

“I take what I said back!  Who the hell authorized the firing of a Jump Cannon in atmosphere!?” shouted Ben over the noise.

Laurel uncovered her head as a shower of grit rained down on them, the dust from the impact clearing steadily.  The roar gave way to the steadily increasing wine of afterburners.  Looking up into the sky she caught sight of the first wave of starfighters as they blew by overhead, unloading a salvo of missile fire on the Ssin ground forces before pulling up to skim over the top of the distortion.

As the Ssin fortifications went up in a hail of fire and explosions

The radio was alive on multiple channels, with orders being give and status updates coming in from hundreds of places at once.

“Weapons free, you are weapons free.”

“Jump Cannon’s online!  Charging for another strike.”

“Ssin fighters incoming!  Watch your six!”

Laurel slowly got to her feet as the next wave of fighters streaked by overhead, followed close behind by dropships of all designs.  Almost she immediately she picked out a familiar form and familiar voice as well.

“Yeee-haw!  We’re not missin’ the party are we?” came the voice of their pilot over the radio.  Their dropship came in low, circling around and dropping down, hatches open.  As Laurel watched, she spotted the figure standing in the doorway of the dropship, rifle strapped to his back, hanging onto one of the hand panic-bars overhead.

“Jayko!” called out Laurel over the radio.

Raising an armored hand, he waved them on-board.  “Need a lift?”

“Hells yeah!” cried out the twins scrambling to their feet and hopping up into the bay with him. Laurel pulled herself in along with Ben and the dropship started to ascend.

Jayko touched the side of his helmet.  “Recon team aboard.  You may initiate the drop.”

“Drop?” asked Ben quizzically coming up beside Jayko and Laurel.

An Arcayan voice came over the radio.  “Drop initiated.  Impact in thirty.”

Jayko just nodded to the sky above them.

Laurel saw the form of the Arcayan Advance Vessel materialize in the sky high overhead, followed by twelve flaming comets streaking through the lower atmosphere.  On the crest of the hill where they had been moments ago, the comets struck land in two rows of six, one after the next, their impacts sending soil flying around them, leaving craters at their feet.

The twelve heavily armored mechs, stood, their limbs articulating long heads on the swivel as they pulled out their cannon sized rifles from their backs, cradling them in four sets of mechanical limbs.  Steam rose from their armor as they started to move forward, sighting in on the nearest Ssin ground to air cannon that was turning it’s aim from the sky to fire on them.

With a discharge of energy down the cannon sized rifle, the mech fired and the Ssin cannon erupted in azure fire shattering with a roar.

“Holy hell!” breathed Ben.  “And I thought those things were impressive just standing in their bays.”

“Heck of a landing spot,” said Laurel remembering that they had just been standing on that bluff.

“A tactically sound spot for a landing.  The Arcayans wanted to make sure you were out of harms way before dropping into the fight.”

“Nice of them to make sure we were clear,” retorted Ben.

The dropship juked wildly in the air.  “Hang on,” called the pilot.  “Fire’s getting heavy.  We’re coming in to the LZ.”

“LZ, sir?” asked Laurel.

Jayko nodded looking over to her and un-holstering his rifle one handed.  “You ready to take on some heavy fighting?”

“Always,” confirmed Laurel, checking the charge and ammo supply on her own rifle. Under her helmet, her gin on her face couldn’t have shown with more confidence.

Random Short #17: Helios Task Force

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Jayko stood on the bridge of his dreadnaught, the Laser Lancer.  Outside the bridge-spanning viewport, the bright star at the center of Helios Station glinted, shedding it’s blue-white light on the fleet of gamma class heavy cruisers orbiting the station.

A massive artifact from a time lost to humanity and the galaxy, the several hundred kilometer space-station ringed the artificial star at it’s heart.  When he’d first seen the station, it had reminded him of a throwing weapon, with it’s sleek hull and sharp edges, but the evidence that it was more than what it appeared became evident when one got much closer to it.  Hundreds of city spires rose from recessed sections of hull dwarfed by the size of the station.  At the inner edge of the ring, tall curving wall sections rose up, acting as solar radiation collectors.  The cut-outs along the station’s outer edges: docking bays, vast enough to hold entire fleet of dreadnaughts.

It was still unknown whether the station had been intended to act as a safe-haven or a weapon.  Regardless of that fact however, the station had never seen use until only very recently.

Jayko’s focus on the station was broken as Jessica’s hologram appeared next to him and spoke.

“The task force is nearly assembled, Jayko.  We’re waiting on what remains of the Combine Human-Dekk Fleet,” she reported.

Jayko shifted his gaze from the viewport to the scan the bridge of the Lancer.  He’d relinquished command of the massive bird-like dreadnaught years ago, but had kept it close by as a precaution.  Now, the massive ship and the task-force it commanded were needed once more to lead a assembly of ships, larger than the Combine Human-Dekk fleet had been at the height of it’s days.

He gave a small nod.  “I didn’t expect the Council to divert any forces here.  They don’t view this threat as a priority over maintaining the Ssin front-line.  Is there any word from out recon team?”

“We have received the data they have acquired from the planet.  The Arcayans are preparing to act if we do not reply soon.”

“Display, please.”

A series of holographic windows appeared before the two of them displaying images and analyses of a large ring of mountains.  Information tags adorned each of the towers piercing the mountains and and the surrounding terrain.

“Overlay with the battle-plans, please.  Any changes?”

Images changed becoming criss-crossed with a tangle of vectors and troop positions.  Only minor. All is as expected.  They have set up fortifications at base of the Gate caldera and there is a gravitational distortion protecting it from orbital bombardment.”

Jayko nodded and looked over at the AI.  She smiled back at him.  “Shall I put you on fleet-wide?”

He smirked back at her.  “Do it.”

She turned to look out the viewport and then nodded.  “You’re live.”

Jayko stood straight and gazed out at the assembled fleets himself.  There were over a thousand ships of all sizes floating in the black out there between star-systems waiting for his word.

“This is Jayko Troven, addressing all assembled ships.  We have just received the data from our advance recon team.  The enemy is dug in and are waiting for us.  They knew we would come to know of there plans sooner or later—but what they did not know is this: They had not a clue that we would come together in this time of need—species, fleets, from across the galactic arm—to hit them with a force greater than this galaxy has ever seen.  They thought that we would fracture, that we would run, that we would crumble beneath their feet.

“I for one say that we will not!  We will fight!  We will stop them dead in their tracks!”  Jayko raised his fist, his words growing confident.  “Each and every one of you have made it to this point, survived the worst that is out there.  What is to come though will test each and every one of your skills.  This is why I will not be commanding this strike.”

Jayko paused for a moment his gaze hardening a smile coming to his face.  “Instead, I will be fighting along side-everyone.  I have more than enough trust in each and every one of you that I will fight as well, that I will put my life alongside yours.

“The order has been given.  Let’s hit ‘em hard!” shouted Jayko triumphantly.

He nodded to Jessica and she cut the transmission.  “Let’s follow suit.  Light ‘em up and move ‘em out.  I’m counting on you to coordinate with me on the ground.”

“Aye, sir,” she said, inclining her head with a smile.

“Task force dropping out of FTL, sir!” called out one of the bridge crew.  “We’re being hailed.”

“Put ‘em on,” said Jayko turning to look for the arriving ships.  A sizable group of ships of dekk and human design dropped from FTL followed close by five dreadnaughts large dreadnaughts.

A hologram appeared before Jayko.  The Fleet Commander was dressed in a crisp Combine Fleet naval uniform and smiled when he saw Jayko.  “We didn’t miss the party, did we now?” asked Commander Adren Hale.

Jayko broke into a wide grin.  “You’re just in time!” he said, happy to see his old friend from the Combine Fleet.  “The Council finally made up their mine, did they?”

Hale shook his head.  “Sadly they decided to sit with their thumbs up their asses.  I had to make the decision myself.  The Ssin border’s not going anywhere.  And between the two of us, when you messaged me about this whole thing.  It wasn’t hard to see where my forces were needed.  My men are ready to follow you to hell and back if it means we can finally stick it back to the bastards that kicked us out of the core worlds.”

Jayko nodded.  “Fall in.  Jessica will fill you in the on the plan.”

“You’re not leading this thing?”

“Nope.  I want to see this through personally.”

Hale smirked at Jayko.  “That’s just like you.  I’ll keep the skies clear and we’ll be on station when you need us.  Good hunting. Hale, out.”

“The same to you, old friend.  Jayko, out.”

The transmission cut leaving Jayko staring at the view before him.  The Lancer had adjusted it’s orbit around Helios Station along with the other fleets, moving into position for FTL transition.  Jessica had linked in to the entire fleet network and was coordinating the jump.  They were going to bring the entire fleet into orbit around the planet right on top of the Ssin forces blockading it.

Taking the helmet of his crimson colored ability enhancing armor, Jayko slid it over his head, locking it in place.  The AE armor was tighter than he remember, but it felt good to step back into it.

“Guess I better gear up, and get ready.”  He shook his head and looked over to Jessica, smiling underneath the golden visor.  “It’s going to be one helluva shock when Helios Station drops in on them.”

She smiled back.  “First impressions are everything.”  With a surge of acceleration, the Lancer and the fleet jumped.  It was time for battle.

Random Short #16: Joint Operation

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Laurel stood with her helmet in hand, waiting for the lift to arrive at it’s destination.  Clad in her ability enhancing armor, her pistol at hip, kinetic scout rifle attached to her back, she was ready to get their recon mission started.

Behind her stood the rest of her squad, the twins Tappen and Tarren, and Ben, her second in command.  His wide build and heavy AE armor made him look like a tank of a man and that was what he was.  The twins took care of tasks that required a quick nimble touch to them and Ben took where there was sure to be damage dealt.  His armor showed scars of past missions and his contribution to the team.  Laurel served as the long range member of the team, coordinating and taking out targets from a distance.

They’d been through hell and back together under Jayko’s command before he vanished.  Somehow though, they’d come full circle and the old bastard had shown he was alive and kicking no worse for the years he’d been gone, and they were under his command once again.

The lift doors opened and Laurel stepped out onto the Combat Hangar as it was labeled and stopped dead, the rest of the squad mimicking her, all of them gazing in awe at the scene before them.

Ben let out a soft whistle, impressed at the view.

They’d come onboard the Arcayan Advance Vessel through one of the hangar bays that housed smaller ships.  Since their time onboard though, their drop ship had been moved to the Combat Hanger.  Having had limited access aboard the ship this was the first they’d seen of the hanger and their drop ship.

“I’ll be damned,” said Violet softly.  “So this is what they were hiding.”

“Not sure how they can hide these things in the first place.  That is a good size of firepower they have,” chimed in Ben.

Laurel shook her head and scanned the hangar for their ship.  It sat in the center of the floor on a raised launch platform, waiting for them.

Starting down the steps Laurel strode toward the drop ship resting between the rows of giant mechs standing tall on either side of the hanger in their respective bays, scaffolding and restraints wrapping around them.  Each torso the size of a large drop ship, standing on two double jointed legs.  Four arms, to large and two half-size adorned the broad shouldered torso, and resting on top a the elongated form of a head, optical sensor suite staring menacingly ahead.  Set in racks on either side of the bays was a single large kinetic rifle the size of a starship’s cannon.

Evidence of battle scared the mechs and each one seemed to wear it’s set of scared and pitted armor plating like a badge of honor.  The Arcayan Advance Vessel had obviously seen battle in the past.

The crew of the Advance Vessel bustled around preparing the mechs for combat.  The song of war had been sung, and they were prepared.  However, Jayko had asked them to wait until a recon of their objective had been completed.  He’d told Laurel in the briefing that he believed they would need the combine strength of all the ships he could muster and Helios Station if they wanted to take out their target in one strike.

As the squad reached their drop ship, climbing the steps up to it’s launch pad, their pilot met them at the open hatch.  She tipped her shaved head toward the mechs lining either side of the bay.  “Quite a sight, ain’t they?” she said as way of greeting.

“That’s an understatement,” said Ben under his breath looking around.

“These Arcayans sure know how to project their power.  Aside from dropping into orbit around the planet unnoticed, they have these things prepped and ready for battle,” she said expanding on what they already knew.  “And they said they’re going to insert us under the radar too.”

“Good, all without our target knowing we’re here,” said Laurel with smirk.  “Just the way I like it.”

The pilot snorted a laugh.  “Climb aboard honey and let’s see what they have in store for us.”   She reached up and grabbed one of the hand holds, hoisting her self up into the drop ship’s bay and heading for the door to the cockpit.  “Mac!  You ready?” she called up to her copilot.
”All in the green!  Jus’ waitin’ on you.”

“Well fire it up and give ‘em the go signal.  They haven’t told me what’s in store, so let’s be surprised, shall we?”

Laurel followed with the rest of the squad, stepping up into the bay.  She slung her rifle off her back and secured it overhead before dropping into of the crash-seats on either side of the bay, pulling the harness over her chest and putting her helmet over her head.  She sealed it and looked up to see Ben Across the way with the twins doing the same.

She flashed him a thumbs up and he nodded back.  “Comm’s are in the green,” she heard him say in her ear.

“Glad to hear it,” she replied.

The pilot came over the comm and the bay doors slid shut with a hiss of compressed air.  “Engaging seals.  All green.  We are go.  Repeat we are go.”

An Arcayan voice came over the channel.  “Affirmative.  Begin drop sequence.”

“I read you, but I don’t know what you want me to do.”

“As you humans say, ‘sit back’.”  The connection went dead.

“I’ll be damned, what stuck-up fool—“

The pilot’s sentence was cut off as drop ship suddenly jarred and Laurel felt herself being pressed into her seat at the ship was moved suddenly from where it had been resting.

“Well I’ll be, they got us in one of their cargo grapplers.  What in the hell are they doing?”  Laurel felt the world turn sideways and she queued up the outside camera’s on the drop ship’s hull on her heads up display.

“Shit!  We’re in a drop chute!” called out Ben.  He’d queued it up as well.

“Yeah I can see that,” said the pilot.

The Arcayan voice came over the comm again briefly.  “Extending cloak.  Prepare for drop.”

“They can do that?” asked Ben quizzically.

“Brace yourselves!” called back the pilot as the connection cut.

Suddenly the pulse of electricity shot past the outside of the drop ship and in the next second they the ship was accelerated past the mach barrier and in the next instant they had exited the drop chute and were rocketing into the atmosphere.

“Holy shit!  They were in hella low orbit!  We’re already in atmo!” called out the pilot.

Laurel felt more than heard the drop ship’s thrusters fire over the roar of their descent.  They’d gone through several cloud layers and were coming up on the ground very quickly.  The world leveled out and suddenly skimming the grassy planes of the continent they’d landed on.  Ahead in view was their target.

The massive ring of mountains pierced through by multiple spires reaching up toward the heavens dominated the view before them.

“Alright, squad.  Once we hit dirt and we’re in position, we send the green light to orbit.  Here’s hoping our commander can pull off his wild plan by that time or it’s going to be us against an Ssin army.”

“I think we can handle that,” said Ben confidently rapping his thick chest-plate with a gauntlet.  “There’s no way they’re stopping this beast.”

“All that fat you mean,” jabbed the twins in unison.

“Shut it!” snapped back Ben.  “Or I’ll throw you out of this bird.”

“Only one doing the throwin’ in going to be me,” shot back the pilot.  “LZ’s coming up, so get your arses in gear!”

“Aye, ma’am!” called out Ben releasing his harness and standing up.

Laurel followed suit.  “Let’s do this!”

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