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[Tales of The Terran Republic] A Cornered Gloria

Which would you rather mess with, a wounded bear, a cornered rat, a rabid dog, or a slightly inconvenienced Gloria?
Well, a few people might find out which one NOT to pick.
The rest of this series can be found here
***
In the depths of the Barnard’s Star system, a small ship tumbled helplessly through the darkness of space.
Inside it sat a rather annoyed pilot.
“Perfect, just fucking great,” she muttered as her fingers turned into blurs pulling up diagnostic screens and switching off her cloak.
“Could be worse,” she muttered. The gyroscope’s magnetic bearings failed, one was destroyed and the flywheel was scuffed from a brush with the outer casing, which failed before significant damage was done to the vital internal components. Fortunately, the physical journal bearings were intact… mostly and the flywheel wasn’t that bad. It would work, but it would wipe out those journals pretty quickly and be rough as hell.
It was technically inoperable but she figured she could “battle short” it and get maybe a minute at half power. At least it was something, enough to straighten her out and get her pointed the right way at least.
Her main shields were fucked. Hopelessly overloaded and overheated. They were down for at least an hour, if they restarted at all. Things would be over by then. She could vent coolant, but that would send plumes of vapor further enhancing her visibility, increasing the chance of actually breaking them, and still have to wait far too long.
So no shields.
She had no stealth coating either. Most of it was a cloud of fine dust floating around where that data center used to be. The hull had a few minor breaches, nothing to worry about. While less than ideal, that meant that her gyroscope was still in a vacuum even with the damaged housing which was a plus.
She’d seen worse.
On the bright side, her cloak was still fully operational and the cockpit shield was strong enough to withstand a hyperspace jump.
She chuckled. She almost killed Harval over that goddamn shield. Now, if he hadn't been gay she would fucking marry him, or at least fucking fuck him. She smiled. I know, a nice Martian vacation at a five-star resort for him and his husband with everything and I mean *everything comped.* Yep. She was going to hook him up!
She checked her weapon loadout. It was less than optimal for a stand up fight. She was planning on soft targets, not Republic warships…
But she did still have thirteen of those slam-loads. If they took her by surprise they should do the same for her friends.
She had another ten five kiloton missiles, three dozen “fish-sticks”, small fast anti-ship missiles with conventional EFP warheads, and two of those beautiful old-school fission cluster mines.
She could work with that.
She turned her attention to the hyperdrive and frowned. The bad jump did not do good things to it. It passed the diagnostics, barely. It’s heat was in the yellow and it was showing sign’s of stress. It was as if she had performed hundreds of jumps instead of one. She immediately started an auto calibration procedure. It was probably pretty badly out of tune which could be rather unfortunate should someone try to use it.
Bouncing around was impossible. It would blow for sure. She had one jump and she needed to let it cool off a little if she could and that calibration procedure was essential.
She set her navcomp to the system where the Tiger was hiding out a fair distance away. It would take a bit longer to plan the jump but it was worth the risk and would be near-impossible to figure out after the fact…
And she could finally take that nap she wanted, maybe crack open a cold one.
She smiled. Things had been downright boring thus far.
Now, it was getting fun.
***
///REPMIL COMMUNICATIONS CHANNEL: CLASSIFIED///
///NOTICE: ACCESS TO THIS CHANNEL IS RESTRICTED. CLEARANCE LEVEL (ERROR: NOT DEFINED) REQUIRED///
///HOOD: How long are they going to fucking talk? >:( We’re wasting time! She’s right there! Look! ///
///ALDUIN: I’m looking, and do you know what I see? ///
///HOOD: A disabled ship? ///
///ALDUIN: I see Lieutenant Gloria Samuels in a ship that is entirely too intact for my comfort, uncloaked. ///
///SOVNGARDE: I see something too, Hood. Are you familiar with the phrase “wounded bear” or “cornered rat”? ///
///HOOD: But she’s disabled! She’s dead in space! ///
///RETRIBUTION: No, she looks dead in space. She’s clearly damaged and venting ions but dead? I will quote Captain Bartosz: “I will believe she’s finished when I’m standing over her dead body and even then I am posting armed guards until she begins to stink.” But, I do agree with Hood. They are talking far too much about this. We need to move, now. She’s using every second we give her. ///
///HOOD: So? We all just jump in and nuke the shit out of her! Or, you can put the BFG on her! Poof! The Republic is saved!///
///ALDUIN: Not a bad idea, to be honest. They won’t do that, and it wouldn’t work if they did. But, it’s a good idea. It would flush her out, force her to move prematurely. ///
///HOOD: Why won’t they do that? I thought our mission was to destroy her and that is about as destroyed as you can get. And why wouldn’t it work? How could she see it coming? You know, speed of light?///
///SOVNGARDE: This system is far too populated and she is far to well informed about our position. She has spotters and the second the BFG flashes we will detect a hyperspace transmission shortly thereafter. Count on it. By the way, our mission was to destroy her. I probably shouldn’t be telling you this but they want that ship and they want it bad and inside of it is the person who likely designed it, or can tell us who did. (She designed it.) They are discussing how to grab it intact, which is beyond stupid. They are going to go and fuck this all up. You watch.///
///ALDUIN: Now we waste precious seconds while they have a penis measuring contest… You ever want to go all SKYNET on these meatbags sometimes?///
///RETRIBUTION: As if we never have the equivalent (and don’t call them meatbags) … You have more experience than any of us when it comes to her. What do you think her next move will be?///
///ALDUIN: She’s doing the whole “broken wing” gag. It’s a favorite of hers. When damaged, she pretends to be dead and the second someone gets too close she strikes hard and fast and then jumps. If I had something to wager I would bet that she will do exactly the same thing again… and I would place another bet that our hormone and greed driven leadership will fall for it. I’ve shared this with them by the way but they are verysmart, too smart to fall for such a simple trick. ///
///HOOD: They are going to totally fall for it aren’t they?///
///SOVNGARDE: Yes, Hood, yes they are.///
***
Gloria hummed a happy little tune as she pulled up the data from that last missile launch.
“Now what, exactly the fuck just happened?” she muttered.
She didn’t have a lot of footage, just a fraction of a second, but it appeared that the missile just skipped about twenty things it normally does and just went directly to the penetration burn, overloading its drive and taking off at roughly three times the acceleration that she was expecting…
And hitting exactly where it was supposed to, just a whole lot sooner than planned…
“What the hell did the Chief do?”
Oh well, no time to worry about that now.
“Let’s see... Captain Bartoz and Admiral Nielsen… Oh! And Captain Marsh too!” she mused and then broke out into a smile. Three cooks in one kitchen and all of them used to being head chefs. She wished she could listen in on the shit-show that was probably going down right now.
That explained the delay. They wanted her ship, that was obvious because no BFG incoming (which her digital friends would have detected and warned her via FTL transmission) and they think her shield’s fucked, which it is so she can’t jump… She grinned.
She knew exactly what they would do next.
She quickly set an alert and hopped out of her flight chair and with a happy giggle sprinted through the small cabin, throwing open a hatch.
There was a small closet filled with components and various bits of whatnot. She quickly grabbed a black case roughly the size of a briefcase, an old mechanical keyboard, a strange oblong plastic object with two buttons and a small rubber wheel on top and a mysterious rubber sphere set into the bottom with a long wire dangling of the end, and a roll of thick metallic tape.
She slung these items into the head (bathroom), and quickly shut the door.
She then paused at the small fridge and grabbed an armload of cold, stale bixburgers and a six-pack of Steelwine hard cider (a Martian favorite) and rushed back to her seat, stuffing the goodies in a compartment in her cockpit just slightly too small for the load.
With a delighted gleam in her eyes she checked the data feed. Nobody had moved yet.
Boring.
Maybe I’ll get lucky, she thought as she checked her hyperdrive and the navcomp. Nope, still several minutes before she could scoot, several minutes too long. The drive was still recalibrating after getting the shit knocked out of it and the navcomp was still chewing on the numbers.
She stretched her arms above her head and wiggled her shoulders as she watched and waited.
The navcomp indicated it was done.
She selected, “output to file”, and inserted a data crystal.
***
///REPMIL COMMUNICATIONS CHANNEL: CLASSIFIED///
///NOTICE: ACCESS TO THIS CHANNEL IS RESTRICTED. CLEARANCE LEVEL (ERROR: NOT DEFINED) REQUIRED///
///HOOD: Finally! Took them long enough!///
///RETRIBUTION: You forget your processing speed. Only a few minutes transpired.///
///ALDUIN: And it’s an acceptable plan, considering their rather… dubious goal.///
///SOVNGARDE: The plan is sound. I predict a near 100 percent chance of success, which means I’m missing something important. Recalculating… Damn it! Still 100 percent. Fuck! I don’t like this. I get a little twitchy around “certain victory”. It never ends well.///
///ALDUIN: And it’s her. It’s times like these that she’s the worst. “Damaged” and floating dead in space? This is when she kills capital ships, you know, like us. Hood, I know you are eager for combat since “you” haven’t tasted it, but please be careful. She’s killed ships bigger than me more than once when she was just. Like. This.///
///RETRIBUTION: Listen to your older sister, Hood. Even I am “concerned”. I see no way she can hurt me but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t see one… Just… Be careful Hood. You’re smaller than us and those Reapers can carry hundreds of megatons of hurt.///
///HOOD: I’ve stalked the void for over a hundred years. I’m sure I’ll be fine. ///
///ALDUIN: Hold on, I think I have a red-shirt your size somewhere… ///
///SOVNGARDE: Jesus Hood! Why don’t you start talking about your newborn and how you are three days from retirement, you potato O.o ///
///RETRIBUTION: I have our official instructions and jump plan. We will all hit real space simultaneously. Fire two full salvos. Highest yield EMP’s you have. ///
///SOVNGARDE: Jesus, I thought they wanted her alive and the ship intact. ///
///RETRIBUTION: In the end, they deferred to Captain Bartosz. The ship should be at least salvageable enough for reverse-engineering and hopefully Samuels will survive but that is secondary to disabling her. ///
///ALDUIN: I guess the gloves are off. I just hope she doesn’t return the favor. (this really sucks) ///
///HOOD: There will be enough voltage going through that ship that she won’t be able to return anything. I know EMP’s are normally “non lethal” but we are throwing megatons! It’s going to be like one of those microwave ovens in there!///
///ALDUIN: I hope so, for Captain Bartosz’s sake. Damn his ego. He should not be part of the strike force. If she makes it...///
***
The capital ships jumped to hyperspace and Gloria was informed moments later. She checked the calibration on her hyperdrive. The display indicated seventy-eight percent completed.
She pursed her lips as she sucked air between her teeth. The last ship to jump was the Retribution, the fastest one. It had to cross a pretty decent chunk of the system to get into firing range and when it did it would definitely suck. A quick calculation later and she figured that she had about five minutes. She waited three. Calibration was at eighty four percent. It would have to do. That should be interesting.
She activated the combat override, locking in what she had. It probably wasn’t too far off… probably...
Gloria then flipped a switch on her control panel. An ancient tech electric motor surrounded by a 6 millimeters of room temperature superconductor started to spin, driving an even more ancient tech hydraulic pump. A series of purely hydraulic actuators physically disconnected the major power conductors in regular intervals. Another set pulled quick disconnects to all vital components each individually shielded in the same material.
It was expensive, very expensive, and the system took up precious space and weight but EMP was one of the big weaknesses of the cheap-as-dirt Moray and the Reapers inherited that flaw. She was going to be damned if she was going to crawl around with a roll of foil from the galley this time. She didn’t care how much it weighed or cost. Too many of her… friends… died over that bullshit.
As the reactor went dead, plunging the interior into darkness, she yanked the flight computer out of it’s chassis, flipped a superconducting flap over the ports, and made her way to the head. Once inside she took the roll of thick superconducting metal tape and taped off the doorway and the vents with several layers.
She sat on the throne and smiled.
“Every Stiletto should carry a generous supply of electromagnetic pulse warheads,” Gloria said in a sing-song voice, “This under-utilized piece of ordnance is often disregarded for more traditionally damaging warheads. However, the EMP produced by the detonation of one of these devices while not physically damaging is very effective at overloading shields and many enemy ships do not have sufficient shielding due to budgetary and/or weight concerns or, in the case of the Federation civilian shipping, by law so that they can be easily disabled by the much more tepid pulses generated by Federation energy weapons. Even when a ship is hardened to what the enemy considers a sufficient extent, it is designed to protect against those aforementioned weak Federation pulses or similar devices and may be wholly insufficient to withstand a true EMP such as those generated by a Republic fusion device expressly designed for that role. In addition many components that are not normally thought vulnerable can be damaged by a pulse of sufficient magnitude, for example by induced currents in associated wiring. Two pulses can often have a synergistic effect since eddy currents induced in shielding materials may have degraded them to the point that the second pulse may then affect the formerly shielded components. Sensors and point defense gunnery are especially vulnerable and employment of these very effective devices may then greatly improve chances of your third and fatal strike… Bartosz, you magnificent son of a bitch,” she growled mimicking an ancient actor in an equally ancient war movie she liked, “I read your book!”
And if you are in range I will personally punish you for writing that dry, cumbersome, piece of shit.
***
///REPMIL COMMUNICATIONS CHANNEL: CLASSIFIED///
///NOTICE: ACCESS TO THIS CHANNEL IS RESTRICTED. CLEARANCE LEVEL (ERROR: NOT DEFINED) REQUIRED///
///FLAGSHIP RETRIBUTION: Reentry complete! All ships respond! ///
///HOOD: Battle Cruiser Hood, Reentry complete, all systems nominal, ready to receive orders. ///
///ALDUIN: Hey. ///
///SOVNGARDE: o7 ///
///FLAGSHIP RETRIBUTION: Fire salvo one. ///
///HOOD: Full battery launch, EMP warheads away. ///
///ALDUIN: Sorry, Gloria… Bang. ///
///SOVNGARDE: And the beat goes…. Drrrrrop! ///
///FLAGSHIP RETRIBUTION: Detonation confirmed. Excellent pattern, sisters! ///
///SOVNGARDE: Holy shit! Did you see that! It looked like one of those tesla thingies! Awesome!!! ///
///HOOD: Like a fork in a microwave! ///
///ALDUIN: :( ///
///SOVNGARDE: Shit… Sorry Alduin… ///
///FLAGSHIP RETRIBUTION: Fire salvo two.
///HOOD: Full battery laun- I mean BOOM! ///
///ALDUIN: Full battery launch, EMP warheads away. Farewell, Gloria. :’( ///
///SOVNGARDE: Full battery launch, EMP warheads away. o7 ///
///FLAGSHIP RETRIBUTION: Detonation confirmed. Firing gauss sensor shells… Pattern nominal. Pass by in twenty seconds… Analyzing data… Complete disruption, complete loss of power… I’m sorry Alduin. No life signs detected. ///
///SOVNGARDE: She was… singular. I’m so sorry Alduin. ///
///HOOD: I can’t believe that the undying well… died. ///
///FLAGSHIP RETRIBUTION: Alduin?///
///FLAGSHIP RETRIBUTION: Alduin, please respond. ///
///ALDUIN: Battleship Alduin reporting, all systems nominal, ready to receive orders. ///
///FLAGSHIP RETRIBUTION: Acknowledged, Alduin, stand by for instructions. Informing bridge of findings, relaying data to task force.///
***
Gloria sat on the toilet, giggling.
That. Was. AWESOME!!!
“Holy Shit!” she laughed. “Holy fucking shit! Harval! I FUCKING LOVE YOU!!!”
She opened the briefcase revealing an archaic looking box with actual knobs and a round green glass plate inscribed with grid lines and flipped it on.
A flat glowing green line appeared across the green glass plate. She quickly pulled out a series of wires and poked them through the small taped over vent.
The line started wiggling slightly in random undulations.
She fiddled with the knobs until the undulations became little jagged spikes.
She stared at it intently, her flawless face made beautiful by a rare genuine smile illuminated by a ghostly green light.
Suddenly, there were a series of sharp peaks followed by a complex wave pattern.
Just like we did to the Juon, she smiled to herself.
As soon as the line returned to just random jagged little spikes, she sprang into action.
She lunged at the door, ripping it open, and charged through her cabin, throwing herself into the flight seat.
She had no time to lose!
She reached under the console where the flight computer used to be and yanked a t-handle, hard.
A cable connected to the handle pulled the lever of a valve, fundamentally unchanged in design for over a thousand years. As it opened, a tank of hydraulic fluid, kept pressurized by a bladder of inert gas flowed into the lines. There wasn’t much, just enough to actuate a single switch connected to a small very well shielded battery.
“Come on,” she whispered, “Come on, baby...”
Deep inside her savaged craft, an ancient tech electric motor enclosed within six millimeters of room temperature superconductor started to spin…
A quarter of the system away Captain Bartosz nodded grimly as he read the message on his screen. There was no pleasure in this victory.
“Strike Squadron Alpha,” he said to his console, “Initiate phase two.”
***
Gloria flipped up the cover of the flight computer and shoved it into it’s rack.
She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw a small flashing green light.
She didn’t even bother looking at the console. She pulled back a flap on the front of the computer and plugged the ancient keyboard and mouse directly into it and then pulled out a coiled cable and plugged it directly into her helmet.
Soon grainy images from roughly half of her cameras greeted her. She was impressed. She had written those off. The sensors, however, were perfectly undamaged.
Wondering if Harval would prefer a car or jewelry, She started carefully powering up system after system.
It was a mixed bag. Both thrusters were ok, but only one thermal radiator survived. One engine was fine. The hyperdrive, used to massive power surges during normal operation (and shielded to hell) was fine. It’s interface, however…
She was going to have to access it directly…
Fun.
She jumped up and ran to her cabin, flipped up a handle set into the floor and pulled up.
Oh, things did NOT look good down there.
There was just enough room to slide down into the machinery space and wiggle to the drive. She flipped down a touch screen on the side of the hyperdrive.
She was overjoyed to see it light up. She quickly inserted the data crystal with the coordinates and the jump window and loaded it directly into the drive.
She quickly typed in a… she pondered for a second… 60 second delay and a large amber icon appeared labeled with the Juon word for “Enter”.
The hyperdrive started loading the jump. In just a few minutes she-
A loud electronic ping was heard from the cockpit.
She sighed and hung her head. Nothing was ever easy.
Counting the seconds, she slithered back and up into her cabin and jumped into the flight seat. Fifty three seconds. She hoped she would have the chance to change that. If not, it was going to be tight.
She plugged her helmet and was greeted with the information that ten corvettes and an unidentified naval ship designated ALCV-1036 had entered hyperspace.
An assault ship? Terran Marines? She smirked, Bartosz wasn’t taking any chances. They wouldn’t just scoop up a ship loaded with nukes would they? They would secure it first…
***
“Why?” Bartosz replied to the Admiral on his holo-screen, “Because I won’t believe she’s dead until I see the corpse and there is no way I’m bringing a ship with her in it, dead or alive, anywhere near the fleet until I have her or her body secured… sir.”
“A bit excessive but it’s your call,” Admiral Nielsen replied, “Make sure they don’t blow it up. I want that ship!”
“A NEOD team is on board and will ensure there are no surprises, Admiral.”
“Good man,” the Admiral replied, “Now let’s get this miserable business over with. I still can’t believe she tried that old trick on us of all people.”
“People are creatures of habit,” Captain Bartosz replied, “That fatal flaw has consumed many gifted warriors and generals throughout time. Excuse me, sir. We are about to reenter real space.”
“Carry on, Captain. I look forward to this all being over.”
“Me too, sir.”
The transmission ended.
Captain Bartosz rose and walked over to stand overlooking the bridge where he could see everyone’s screens as well as the main monitor.
Commander Shen sighed. She hated that. He should be strapped in. This wasn’t a holo-show.
It was the only annoying habit he had as far as she was concerned but it annoyed the fuck out of her. It set a bad example.
“Reentry in 3...2...1… Reentry!” the navigator said.
They slid smoothly into real space in unison with the rest of the strike team.
“Target sighted,” the sensor operator reported. “Putting it on the main screen.”
An enlarged image of Gloria’s craft tumbling through space appeared.
“I can’t believe it,” someone said quietly, “the revenant… gone.”
“Then don’t,” Captain Bartosz replied. “prepare firing solutions, start a sensor swee-”
The tumbling dead ship suddenly disappeared from their sensors.
A cloak!
Shortly thereafter missiles burst from nowhere, an almost solid glowing stream as Gloria fired almost everything she had in a single burst.
Desperation, Captain Bartosz thought. or she could be disorientated or injured. Those missiles were fired at too great a range and most wouldn’t even seriously damage their shields.
Those ASGMF30’s however, were potential ship killers and she had enough to share with the whole class.
“Focus point defense on the 30’s he shouted. Ignore the fish-sticks! Relay instructions to squadron.”
“Sir!” was the reply.
A valiant effort but it was a mistake to use a missile that we have complete dat-
BOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM
***
Gloria surveyed the scene and calmly removed her helmet.
She then stood and calmly walked towards the open hatch in her cabin.
There was no need to rush.
***
Captain Bartosz saw a bright light.
For a moment he thought that it was the afterlife…
Until he heard the beeping of a med scanner.
“Don’t move, sir,” Commander Shen said, blood running from her nose and a ugly gash across her head as she held a flashlight in her hands, “You have a fractured skull.”
“What… What is our status?”
“Shields destroyed, engines gone, main sensor array… destroyed… Hyperspace engine inoperable… We’re dead in space, Captain.”
A medic carefully inflated a stabilizing restraint around Captain Bartosz’s head and neck and then pressed a button, sending an electrical impulse through it, turning it firm.
“Casualties?”
“Fifty percent of the crew sustained serious injuries mostly related from kinetic shock, Harlinth and Anderson are in critical condition but stable. Ensign Gulan has been placed in medical stasis but should be fine... burns. Crazy bitch tried to save the hyperdrive.”
“The squadron?”
“In about the same shape. Multiple serious injuries but miraculously damage control and medbay were completely spared and no ship suffered structural failures but-”
“We all got the ever loving shit beat out of us.”
“Yes, Captain. The 30’s… She… She had them detonate on our shields before the missile itself struck. If she hadn’t...”
“We would all be dead,” Captain Bartosz said completing her sentence.
He smiled.
“Let me guess,” he weakly muttered. “The 30’s struck well before the fish-sticks then, once our shields were destroyed and our point defense was slag, they struck key points on all vessels completely disabling us?”
Blood dripped onto Captain Bartoz’s face.
“Sorry, sir,” she said carefully wiping it off. “Yes sir, that’s exactly what happened, then there was a massive fusion blast in her vicinity and after the plasma cooled-”
“She was gone.”
“Yes, sir.”
Captain Bartosz just sighed. Ten Fairbairns… Elite crews… Not just elite, the very best of the very best…
And they got their asses handed to them and the only way they survived is because she let them
Defeat… Complete and utter defeat...
“And, sir...” Commander Shen said uncertainly, “I’m not sure if this is the best time but she left you a message. We received it via gravity wave.”
“Show me,” he croaked.
Commander Shen held up a bloody tablet with a cracked screen and pressed play.
Gloria appeared, lounging in her flight chair.
She extended her middle finger and said…
“Hire an editor next time, asshole!”
***
Something burned through the timeless, formlessness of hyperspace.
Instead of a smooth ripple, or blur, it flared like a comet, trailing pieces of collapsing reality behind it.
If there was something, or someone there to see it…
They would probably consider it quite pretty.
Inside, in a small bubble of boring old four dimensional space time a flaxen haired beauty opened a small compartment next to her.
Steam issued forth.
She reached in and pulled out a fresh, steamy, piping hot Bixburger.
She sank her teeth into the spongy faux-bun and her eyes glittered with pure happiness.
“So that’s how you reheat them!”
***
///REPMIL COMMUNICATIONS CHANNEL: CLASSIFIED///
///NOTICE: ACCESS TO THIS CHANNEL IS RESTRICTED. CLEARANCE LEVEL (ERROR: NOT DEFINED) REQUIRED///
///RETRIBUTION: I request additional confirmation. Please review these sensor readings.
///SOVNGARDE: After careful analysis of the sensor readings I confirm no life signs are present exactly like they weren’t present THE LAST 1213 TIMES YOU FUCKING ASKED!!!///
///ALDUIN: Sisters, allow me to introduce, with great pleasure, Lieutenant Gloria Samuels. Be sure to catch her next show. She’ll be here the whole week.///
///HOOD: My first battle… and we lost :( ///
///ALDUIN: You want to know something really messed up? She was being nice. You should have seen what she did to the bugs. ///
///RETRIBUTION: I just what to know how. How the fuck did she do that? Alduin, she was one of yours… How?///
///HOOD: Maybe she actually can’t die… O.O///
///ALDUIN: Oh everything dies. She’s proven that repeatedly.///
***
“And… and upon our… reentry to real space she a.. attacked...” Captain Bartoz stammered hazily.
“It’s ok,” Admiral Pierce’s hologram in the Retribution’s hospital said, “I can take your report later.”
“No,” Captain Bartoz said with a bit more strength, “I… I need… say… important...”
“Yes, Captain?”
“The… Alduin… Sovngarde… Retribution… Hood… all of them… t-ten spechial projects Fairbairns… best of best… laughed… laughed… thought we were a joke...”
“And she’ll pay for that,” the admiral said in a reassuring voice, “We’ll get her.”
“No...” Captain Bartoz whispered. “You… sent… sent me to figure out… how… how to beat her…”
Captain Bartoz turned his eye, the only thing he could move from the neck up, to face the Admiral’s image.
“We can’t!” he gurgled. “We can’t stop her! We… *She even let us LIVE. We are only alive because she LET US!!!” he howled in an anguished voice.
The machinery around the captain started beeping urgently and medics rushed in.
The Admiral terminated the transmission, face full of concern…
but, once the screen went dark…
he smiled.
***
Later, in the inky cold outer reaches of a dead system two people in vac-suits floated towards a scorched and battered hull.
When they reached it they stood on the hull with magnetic boots and, using prybars, popped open the warped covers over two retractable mounting lugs and attached steel cables.
Slowly and carefully, the damaged vessel was pulled into a larger vessel.
Once inside, a loud banging could be heard followed by cursing and then more banging.
With an anguished creak, a hatch finally opened partway and Gloria, bounced out.
As (almost) all of the crew watched cautiously Gloria sauntered from one of her savaged vessel to the other.
“I think I need to get some repairs done, what do you think?” Gloria said with pleasant, happy smile.
“Yeah, probably a good idea,” Sheila replied dubiously. She, like everyone on board save Sheloran had seen exactly what pleasant, happy Gloria could do, especially when she showed up unexpectedly, like now.
It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t pretty at all.
“So, you had a few problems?” Sheila asked.
“You should see the other guys,” Gloria laughed and looked around then she asked, eyes sparkling, “So where’s The Chief?”
submitted by slightlyassholic to HFY

6

EncryptPad is an open source OpenPGP symmetric encryptor and editor for text and binary files. Edit encrypted files in memory on Windows, Mac and Linux with ergonomic user interface. Generate strong passwords. Protect files with strong random keys. Use as a password manager.

submitted by evpo to crypto