Long Haul [Freelancer Fanfic]

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Post by Xiggy » Sun Jun 27, 2004 8:18 am

Just another day in orbit around Manhattan. The usual amount of traffic flows through the network of trade lanes and cruise through empty space. Everything seems normal, but there is more going on than most civilians know.

A large train exits the trade lane from Fort Bush and engages her cruise engines. As the ship glides past, her serial number and name can be seen; LCF-0-7488, SS Monmouth.

“Well guys, I hope you guys are happy,” the captain of the Monmouth swirled his chair around the bridge. His helmsman turned around and shook his head.

“What’s so good about docking at Newark Station? Their recreational facilities are restricted to IC personnel and residents? Can we go to Manhattan, Cap’n?” the helmsman asked.

“Don’t have the time, George. We have to be in California by tomorrow. We’re just at Newark to get our cargo. The bar is of course, always open. I’ll be in my room. Deke, you have the bridge.”

Deke didn't bother with getting out of his station to go sit in the captain’s chair. It didn’t matter at this point. Deke looked around the bridge. It was just himself and two other crew members. Helmsman Frank Wolf and Operations Officer Victoria Galloway. The Monmouth has a small crew of 30 people. Most of them are engineers and technicians who keep the Monmouth running on sometimes defective machinery. Deke’s attention was drawn over to Victoria, who had her fingers up to her earpiece. She was obviously being hailed.

"Deke, we’re being hailed by Newark Station, should I put it through?”

Deke quickly moved into the captain’s chair and nodded yes and stood up in front of the wall mounted view screen.

A seemingly confused female communication technician appeared onscreen, “Captain Will Douglass?"

“No, this is Master Chief Deke McNeil, the captain is in his quarters at this moment. Do you need him right now?”

“Negative. I have a message to convey however. Captain Douglass is to meet with a Mr. Krieger in the Hudson Bar. That is all.” With that, the transmission was ended.

“Well, at least she was direct. How long before we dock with Newark, Rick?”

“In five minutes. The pattern is full around the dock point as of now.”

“I guess we can say goodbye to whatever semblance we had of shore leave.”

“How do you figure, Deke?” asked Victoria. “Do I have to remind you that you’re not a genius You don’t know everything.”

“I assume once I tell the captain he has to meet that Krieger stooge in the bar, he won’t let us be around in case it’s some sort of a secret deal going down. You know, Victoria, most people who can actually use logic can figure that out. So don’t you lecture me on...” Deke was cut off by Victoria pressing her fingers against her earpiece again and the motion of her other hand signaling a friendly, “Shut up you flaming idiot” gesture.

Victoria paused a second before she looked up at Deke with a puzzled look. “A general broadcast from the Liberty Police, Navy, and Security Force is advising all law enforcement personnel to attack and if possible apprehend a Edison Trent and an LSF agent named Zane. They are both said to be flying Defender class fighters.”

“Yes, so what’s your point? We don’t know them and they sure as hell aren’t on this ship so what are you worried about?”

“Deke, two Defenders have just left Manhattan’s docking ring. They are flying right for us.”

Deke pressed the panel on the captain’s chair to call the captain’s cabin.”

“Yes Deke?” the captain asked. “I don’t think I hear the usual clunking noise indicating that we are getting ready to dock."

“Captain, you better get up here. I think it may the local space may be getting hot in a few moments.”

“I’m on my way."

Deke went over to his station and put on his gunner’s targeting eyepiece. “I’ve got them in my sights. They’ve both got advanced weaponry, but I don’t intend on shooting at them.” Captain Douglass walked into the bridge and sat down in his chair. “Deke, you sat here, didn’t you? What have I said, time and again, NEVER SIT HERE. Raise the shields, Deke. This could get ugly really fast.”

“Captain, the Battleship Unity has just jumped in. There are a wing of fighters coming in from Fort Bush and they have targeted the two renegade Defenders.” Victoria scanned over her collection of displays. “Captain, the two renegade fighters have engaged the Liberty fighters. This could be a bit one sided.”

“Well what do you want ME to do about it? Frank, get us out of here. Set course for the trade lane to West Point.”

Frank wasn’t pleased. “Captain, do you not notice the very large battleship parked right in front of it?”

“Evasive maneuvers, try to keep distance away from the fire fight. Engage cruise engines, try to get us to the next trade lane ring en route to West Point. ” Frank nodded his head in acknowledgement and began to engage the cruise engine.

“Captain, we’re being hailed by Gamma 1 of the Liberty Navy,” said Victoria. Will Douglass pressed the communication button on his handrest to listen to the Navy pilot.

“Gamma 1 to freighter, you are to shut off your engines and stand down," the pilot commanded.

“Negative Gamma 1, we’ve done nothing wrong. Just leave us alone. We’re getting out of here, I don’t want my ship damaged or worse any of my crew injured.”

“Have it your way, fool.” the Navy fighter disengaged from pursuing one of the renegade fighters and began to strafe the Monmouth. The ship rocked a bit after a volley of energy shots impacted on the shields. A missile zoomed right into the Monmouth’s engines.

“Victoria, damage report,” the Captain frantically looked around the bridge. A small shower of sparks fell out of the ceiling and a booming noise came from down and below the bridge.

“No serious damage to the ship. We’ve been hit by a Wasp missile, sir. We cannot engage the cruise engines.”

“Frank, you’ll have to use afterburners.”

“Captain, you think those will actually get this ship moving?” Deke asked.

“Do we have a choice?”

“I dunno sir, but make up your mind, Gamma 1 is coming in for another pass. Shields are holding but I’d rather not wait and see if he can strafe the hull a few more times.”

“I’m tired of this, open fire on him. Try to disable his engines or weapon systems. I don’t care. He shot first, know he must deal with pissing off William D. Douglass. FIRE!”

The Monmouth’s six turrets came alive as Deke lined up a shot on the attacking fighter. Only the starboard side guns could hit the target, so Deke used those to fire at the fighter. The Monmouth’s guns opened fire and the fighter’s shields crackled as it sustained several hits. The fighter launched a missile at the Monmouth before breaking off and rejoining the fray with the two renegade fighters. The missile made a straight line for the starboard side of the Monmouth. It hit right above the engine on that side as the shield lit up around the hull. The bridge shook again and Captain Douglass gripped the two arm rests on his chair.

“Damage Victoria?!”

“There are fires in the engine room, the starboard engine took minor damage. It has been reduced to 75% efficiency. But a nanobot should be able to fix it.”

The Captain pressed his communicator button. “Chief, are you all right down there?”

“No one’s hurt, but it’s a bit hot down here. We can have the starboard engine fixed as soon as we get the nanobots deployed.’

“Go ahead, we’ve got to get out of here quick.”

Victoria looked at her displays and paused in a second of mild shock. “Captain, a Liberty cruiser has just jumped in with a few more fighters. They are not hostile to the renegade fighters...”

Deke had looked at the newly arrived cruiser in his targeting eyepiece. “Sir, it’s opening fire on the Unity. The Unity’s hull is at 90 percent. Now 80 percent. Hull breaches are forming. 75 percent and there are fires on all decks. 50 percent, massive hull breach on the port side. My God, that cruiser’s tearing it apart! 25 percent! The ship is falling apart, the engine’s gone critical...”

For a split second, everything seemed peaceful. All the fighters had stopped firing. The cruiser ceased fire. The Unity floated in space, fire spewing from cracks in the hull. And suddenly, it just imploded. The shockwave hit the Monmouth with a tremendous force. And then the battle restarted. A few more Liberty fighters exploded. One of those loyal to the renegade cruiser careened out of control and slammed into Newark station.

"We’ve got a clear path to West Point, Captain,” Frank said.

“Take us in,” the Captain didn’t bother with a status report. The ship was just rocked around a bit. Any damage sustained was minor.

“Captain, we’re locked out the trade lane.”

“Hold on Frank, I can hack into it...” the Captain, Deke, and Frank all just looked at Victoria. How in the hell did she know how to hack a lane?”

“Almost there...”

Deke refocused on the battle. “Two Liberty fighters on an intercept. I’ve got a clear shot...” The Monmouth’s guns opened fire and blasted one of the fighters. The fighter’s shields almost immediately collapsed and the fighter itself exploded in a warm fireball.

“Got it! Go Frank, GO!” Victoria seemed almost thrilled to hack the lane.

“Engaging trade lane activation... Now.” The Monmouth entered the circular energy field of the trade lane and sped off towards West Point...

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