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Most users ever online was 29 on October 1st 2013, 12:09 am

    Dat Suit Story [Title Undecided]

    Doctor Jensen
    Freelancer Operative

    Posts : 431
    Join date : 2013-01-18
    Age : 24
    Location : NSL, UT

    Dat Suit Story [Title Undecided] Empty Dat Suit Story [Title Undecided]

    Post  Doctor Jensen on December 6th 2015, 4:55 pm


    This is a story I've been thinking about for a good three years, but finally got around to putting it on paper. It's of the cyberpunk genre, which I don't have much experience with, but I think it should be quite the adventure and the learning experience, for sure.

    Anyways, I am looking for some criticism of this piece. Everything you say will be thought about and considered. Keep in mind it's in the rough draft stage. With that said, please tear it to shreds. If you have anything good to say as well, you're welcome to say it.

    If you want to support my blog and help me become a well known author, check out this site: http://originalsuitstory.blogspot.com/

    Without further adieu, my story awaits your lofty eyes.


    It was a cold, red day—same as every day on the People’s red world. Of course, it had changed drastically in the last few centuries. Just to the west of the Olympus Mons was a verdant field of various fauna and crops which surrounded the city of Tarnaeus. Though still mainly red, there was bits of silver, grey, and greens that stood out. Tarnaeus was a clump of dull grey and silvers splotched with rusty red patches from the dust storms that they were hit by so often. The large skyscrapers—about 40 stories tall—didn’t do a whole lot to help the storms either.

    Sergeant James B. Tibble sat atop a ridge line two miles east of Tarnaeus. He rolled his head easily, his normally bulky power armor did nothing to prevent such a movement. With a sigh he looked down his scope to the southwest. Construction walkers lumbered to and fro, moving large pieces of framework for the walls of highway five. Traffic passed through the left side in the middle lane of the road. He watched patiently as cars sped through to the north on one side, south on the other. The new propulsion software in each vehicle cast a deep green glow that turned into magnificent waves of light as they cars sped intently to their various destinations.

    Mor, tell me what you’re getting.

    How about a please?

    James clenched his teeth. Just do it.

    The reticule on his heads up display jumped from car to car, spinning from left to right, then right to left as Morianton, his super advanced artificial intelligence companion, scanned the contents of each vehicle. With every scan there was a number of clicks. He felt a stream of information enter his brain. Red Nissan—civilians. Orange Nissan—civilian. Red Ford—civilian. Silver Taurus—civilian. At least fifty other scans also turned up empty.

    Need to see what Nellus has found, he thought.  No sooner had he thought this then his comm had activated. Thanks.

    Of course, Jimmy.

    I told you not to call me that.

    Of course you did. However I’ve always considered it to be rather endearing.

    You feeling alright, Mor?

    I do not feel, Jim...

    He sighed. “Nellus, you getting anything?”

    “Nothing but these new anti-grav models. Martians really love their cars,” a deep, gravelly voice responded.

    “No kidding. People are buying them like they’re hot.”

    “Too bad we got them on Earth already.” Nellus gave a throaty chuckle which sounded like gravel being crunched under heavy boots.

    James laughed. Then his eyes exploded into an unfocused state. A spike of pain tore through the back of his head, causing his body to shudder. He crushed his eyelids together, looked down away from his scope. Another tremor tore through his body. Inhaling sharply, James dropped his rifle and tensed his body. Another tremor. He was in the dirt.

    Then, nothing. James lay there in the martian soil, his biceps twitching every few seconds. Mor, what was that?

    It seems there was a spike in brain activity. What the cause could be, I am unsure. This is unusual considering your circumstances. Perhaps with a little time—

    Whatever. Can you use the suit’s medical functions to neutralize it if it happens again?

    Do you think me to be a buffoon? Of course you do; your people usually does. Because we were created by you,

    Mor! Can you do it?

    Morianton was usually so mellow, but today he was aggressive. Something had gotten him riled. It was a lot like that operation on Jupiter the year before. It would have to wait though. James would talk to him after the mission.

    Hypothetically I could utilize the suit’s power cell to—

    Do it, Mor.

    The whole conversation had taken a few seconds. His brain hummed in response. He felt a hint of irritation boil up.

    James’ comm cracked with static. There was a moan. “J, my head feels like it just got beat by a sledgehammer, man.”

    His eyebrows shot up. “Wait, you felt that too?”

    “Yeah I did, it felt like—what? What do mean? You feel that too, man? The hell?”

    “Darn right I felt it. If it hit both of us, then—”

    “Biological weapon?”

    “Possibly. What’s Helvian say?”

    “Hold on.”

    Mor? The drum in his chest was beating at an incredible rate. Adrenaline pumped into his system. James could feel his pulse hammering off in his forehead. His head pounded mercilessly. And yet, his eyelids were strangely droopy. A smoke slithered through his mind, dimming his synapses, and causing a momentary drop in reaction time. He blinked again, searching the highway meticulously, all the while his HUD feeding him a continuous stream of information.

    It is a possibility, Jimmy. Perhaps biological weapon that attacks on the same wavelength as your brain.

    Is that even possible?

    Morianton gave the equivalent of a huff for an AI. Theoretically, yes.

    “James, Helvian says it’s probably a biological weapon.”

    “Same response on my end too. But Mor says he can do can probably do something about it if it happens again.” Cars zoomed by. Still no target. His eyes twitched left, twitched right. An endless line of cars.

    “But hold up, James, shouldn’t our over shields block that sort of thing?”

    “Not if it’s something we haven’t seen before.”

    James eyes kept moving, as if a machine that had been switched on and couldn’t be switched back off. Cars of all shapes and sizes were streaming towards the north. Most were the regular small-and-sleek model, though there were a few bulkier cars. These looked much like semis of the old days—back when wheels were usually used for transportation—but a bit smaller. Most of them were shaped like a rectangular prism with rounded corners and were of the silver or gray variety. On the front of the semi, just below the windshield was an identification number, used for identifying the company.

    While his HUD was searching each individual car—without many results—James’ eyes drifted towards a particular semi. He looked it over for a moment. It was the same basic gray as the other semis. Windshield was the same. Everything was the same. Shrugging, he started looking towards another car, when his reticule locked onto the car he had been inspecting. The reticule popped outwards, then turned green.

    James cursed and marked the driver, who was moving into the left lane. Four hundred meters up was an off ramp which would take him to the observation outpost positioned just below the top of Olympus Mons. Five hundred meters up was a tunnel.

    “Target found. Nellus, he’s yours.”

    “And the civilians?”

    There were five cars next to the driver, two of which were behind him. If Helvian’s targeting software somehow got messed up, Nellus might end up taking out a civilian. If he made the shot, there could still be casualties.

    “If he takes that tunnel, we’re done for, all us. They get that intel on our suits, everyone is at risk. Everyone dies. Take. That. Shot.”

    300 meters. There was a brisk silence.

    “Tracking him now. There’s an off ramp.”

    “What?” James looked at the driver, glanced at the off-ramp. It was on the right side of the highway. The target was on the left side.

    “If we get him onto the off-ramp, we could save those civilians.”

    James shook his head and let out a short breath. “There’s no time, man! Take the shot!” He tapped a button on the side of his gun which activated the focusing lenses. Just a precaution.

    He kept he sights lined up on the car, put his finger on the trigger. In the next split second he heard a distant puff. The driver’s chest exploded, a blue orb of plasma blasting outwards in all directions, frying the semi. Next thing James knew, the semi smashed into the car next to it. There was a distant crunch of metal on metal. One car glanced off the bumper of the target’s car and into a mess of traffic. It was one heck of a mess.

    “Nellus, man, I’m sorry—”

    Nellus cursed.

    Tapping his weapon off, James sighed, releasing a long breath and letting his shoulders relax. He sighed and let his tense shoulders fall. That was it. The People’s Republic wouldn’t be getting that intel. For just a little longer the The Allies for Free Earth could relax. Just a little bit longer and—

    Another curse. A sharp breath.

    “Nellus? Nellus?” James activated his rifle and aimed over at Nellus’ position, just 200 meters to the southwest. He had been positioned two hundred meters from the highway. When he looked over there, he furrowed his brow. Nellus was still there, but he was bowed to the ground. His hands were balled into fists which he was pounding furiously into the ground.

    “Nellus, you alright ma-“

    A shout of agony blasted from James’ comm like a punch to the ear. “No, please. No! You son of a-“

    The comm clicked off.

    “The h-” James started, then he felt it. It was like someone had split open his skull , grabbed a screwdriver and was now slowly digging the screwdriver into his brain. He gasped for air, fell to his knees. His hands flew to his head. The screwdriver pressed farther, inching its way deeper. More pressure. Heavy breath left lips. He couldn’t breath. He opened his mouth wide. Blinking rapidly.

    Morianton, help! The pressure increased. It was no longer a screwdriver, but a serrated knife. It cut deeper, shredding his thoughts, his memories. Why am I here? There was a pulse. His body shuddered violently. Morianton! Dark specks began flooding the edge of his vision.The light and the dark battled for supremacy, the light defending it’s claim, but loosing ground quickly.

    James, it seems your vitals are a bit higher than normal. I shall assist you to the best of my ability. I will take the pain away.

    For a few minutes, spasming under the pain, James tried to make sense of what Morianton was saying. Like a dim light being switched on, he understood. Then the light was switched off, and everything disappeared under the cover of black sheet.
    Bad John
    Bad John
    Freelancer Operative

    Posts : 1224
    Join date : 2013-01-17
    Location : A box in the United States.

    Dat Suit Story [Title Undecided] Empty Re: Dat Suit Story [Title Undecided]

    Post  Bad John on December 7th 2015, 10:41 pm

    JEEZUS. That's one hell of a headache.

    This world interests me. I wish to know what happens to James, his AI companion, and Nellus.

    I'd also like to know more about the world this is set in.

    Good start!
    Freelancer Operative

    Posts : 1365
    Join date : 2013-01-17
    Age : 24
    Location : The Great White North (Canada)

    Dat Suit Story [Title Undecided] Empty Re: Dat Suit Story [Title Undecided]

    Post  Manny on December 8th 2015, 4:08 am

    I read it on your blog but I just wanted to comment here. This is good stuff, keep it up.

    I too look forward to knowing more about the world you have created.
    Doctor Jensen
    Freelancer Operative

    Posts : 431
    Join date : 2013-01-18
    Age : 24
    Location : NSL, UT

    Dat Suit Story [Title Undecided] Empty Re: Dat Suit Story [Title Undecided]

    Post  Doctor Jensen on December 8th 2015, 12:37 pm

    Thanks for the read fellas, I appreciate it.
    Doctor Jensen
    Freelancer Operative

    Posts : 431
    Join date : 2013-01-18
    Age : 24
    Location : NSL, UT

    Dat Suit Story [Title Undecided] Empty Chapter 1: Suit Up

    Post  Doctor Jensen on December 10th 2015, 1:37 pm

    December 15th, 2233

    First Lieutenant Frederik J. Tarsus strode down the uncharacteristically cold corridor. The installation was usually heated, but today their was a bit of a chill in the air. That wasn’t much of a surprise, considering where they were at, but it didn’t seem normal. Frederik rubbed his arm, took a deep breath, and continued forward.

    At the end of the hall was a hexagonal door that opened from the middle when he approached. He entered the familiar room, which was like a large octagon. The room was level, save for the middle of the room which dipped down several feet into a jungle of machinery, computers, and people. The room was bustling. Personnel moved to and fro, shouting here and there for certain documents or a call for assistance with a certain machine.

    Frederik heard an off hand comment. “Where could they have gone? It doesn’t…” The person was out of earshot before he could here anymore. That person, and the rest of the room for that matter, was buzzing. And it was not like the normal, annoying buzz. Something exciting had happened, and everyone was working to figure it out.

    Shrugging that thought off, Frederik walked to along the outer hexagon to the left side of the room. Just two days earlier he had returned home from a mission on Mercury taking down one of the People’s Republic’s outposts that was in the process of producing more armaments for the war between the People’s Republic and the Allies of Free Earth. All Frederik had been told about his returning to earth was that the matter was of dire importance. He was to report to the Herakles Project director’s room for briefing on his next mission.

    With a huff, he paused at the door, leading to the director’s room. He looked at the innate carvings picturing Herakles and his fight against the Hydra which decorated the door, the green touchpad off to the side. So many times he imagined passing through the doorway and speaking with the director about a promotion to Captain. Of course, that was just his imagination. Very few of the soldiers enlisted in the Herakles program had passed through that door. Well, Frederik knew one or two who had.

    After typing in the codes he had received from command, the door opened fluidly, noiselessly, revealing a pure white hallway probably twenty meters in length. The sides pulsed all over the spectrum of dark green to light blue. He stepped into the room and began towards—assumedly—the Director’s office. His shoes made a distinct clicking noise as he plodded down straightened himself and moved down the hallway.

    Why are they calling me in if this is as important as they say? Surely there are better qualified ‘Klesians than me. What do they want from me? he wondered. It took him a moment without a response to realize that there wasn’t going to be a response from his AI, Tallius. In fact, he wasn’t sure he would ever get a response from Malleus again, not after the last mission. His heart sagged for a brief moment before he picked it up upon arriving at the Director’s Room.

    The name plate to the side of the door confirmed Frederik’s suspicion about the room: Nero T. Marcus, Director of the Herakles project. Nodding to himself, Frederik straightened his sandy brown suit coat and took a deep breath. He typed a second code into the keypad to the right of the door. It beeped and the door made a swooshing noise as it retracted upwards.

    Within the room was a silver desk in the shape of a half of an oval, which housed a number of microcomputers and—according to the rumors—Director Marcus’ personal AI. Behind the desk sat the Director himself. He was a wan man with a black mustache as black as the void itself. He was of a darker complexion; his eyes were a grainy brown, the eyelids of which were wrinkled far beyond their years. Spider webs of red veins covered his cornea, suggesting the good director had been looking at a screen far more than he needed to. To his right stood another member of the Herakles project, Major Johan Conners stood to his left, conversing in soft tones. Both of them gazed over at him, inspecting him thoroughly.

    “First Lieutenant Frederik J. Tarsus, reporting, sir.”

    Director Marcus was silent as he narrowed his eyes and peered into Frederik’s eyes. There was something about those brown eyes that was disconcerting, like he was staring through Frederik, discerning his every thought, characterizing him just by looking into his eyes. Frederik stifled a shiver.

    Johan wore a very subtly hidden smile on his face, the corners of his mouth turned every so slightly upwards, his blue eyes glowing slightly. His huge shoulders bobbed upwards with every breath. He scratched his nose.

    “Welcome Frederik, it’s good to have you back after your last mission on Mercury. I understand it was quite the scare,” the Director said, smiling, his lips parting and quivering, giving the impression of a wolf snarling. “How are you doing?” He arched an eyebrow.

    “Thank you, sir. I’m just fine.”

    “You don’t have to call me sir, Lieutenant. I’m not military.” Frederik noticed him clenching his jaw.

    “Uh, alright that, uh, works,” Frederik replied.

    “Right, well then, Tarsus, so you haven’t be told concerning the details of this upcoming mission of yours. I am correct, am I not?” Frederik nodded. “Very well. Are you aware of the operation BLOWBACK? It was pulled off by two of your associates in Tarnaeus three weeks ago.”

    Frederik tilted his head upwards slightly, trying to remember the details of that mission. He closed his eyes, clacked his teeth together then clenched his jaw. The details of several different missions ran through his head. Then, something clicked, and he realized what he was talking about. James and Nellus had been sent on that operation. It was good to hear they had gotten it done, though. Did something happen? he wondered.

    “Yes, director. That was the operation on Mars. They were supposed to stop some sort of intel from being delivered to the PR’s leaders, right? Are they okay?”

    “That’s correct, Frederik. they completed their mission. But,” Director Marcus glanced down and blinked repeatedly, as if trying to stop his eyes from being so obvious about what was going on, “they disappeared.”

    “Disappeared, sir—director?” Frederik’s hard began beating slightly quicker than normal. “That’s never happened in all of the Herakles Project’s history.” He paused. “Who? The PR? Those pricks.”

    “We’re currently in the middle of trying to figure out what happened, Lieutenant. We’ve been considering what occurred there, and we haven’t come to any conclusions as of yet.”

    Frederik clenched his fist. James. Nellus. Both were missing. Some of his good friends, gone. What happened?

    “You mean, you don’t know what happened to them?”

    “Our agents have been investigating the area, but we have no leads so far. Though, the situation is rather… interesting.” The corners of the director’s lips turned down. “And that’s why you’re here, Frederik.”

    Frederik arched an eyebrow. “I’m not sure I understand.”

    Director Marcus motioned to Johan. “Major?”

    Johan nodded. “Yeah.” He placed his light brown hands on the desk, his lips forming a hard line. “Mars, being a planet under PR control has been difficult to infiltrate, but we were able to send in three agents. What they found was, well, confusing. I’m sending it to your neural interface now.”
    A stream of data filtered through his neural interface and onto into the implants in his eyes, allowing him to see the whole report for himself. One thing stood out. First, they had looked over the scene where the operation had taken place, and there had been no signs of a battle taking place. In fact, from what the report said, it looked like James and Nellus had simply walked away after they had completed their mission.

    He blinked. “I don’t understand. They just walked away?”

    Frederik crunched his eyebrows together. He had known James and Nellus for all five years the Herakles project had been operational. They been trained together, lived in the same barracks, cooperated in numerous operations together. Neither of them seemed like the kind of soldiers to just walk away from the military—he knew the implications of such an act.

    “It looks like they deserted.”

    A cold hard knot formed in Frederik’s stomach.

    “With all due respect sir, I don’t know if that’s the case. This hasn’t happened before, not in our ranks.”

    Johan nodded and let loose a shaky breathe. “I understand how you feel, Lieutenant.It’s unthinkable that some of our own have deserted. And I agree that the situation seems odd It’s unprecedented. All of us agree on that. There are so many unknowns, but, we have to treat this like it is a desertion—” Frederik’s shoulder’s tensed, “—as a precaution. We don’t know why nellus and James have gone AWOL, and that’s dangerous. They could have left for something trivial, surely. But, it’s also possible that they’re angry at the government, at the military—at someone. Those suits, their AIs, and the users themselves could be dangerous in the wrong hands.”

    It was then that the puzzle pieces slowly started coming together for Frederik. He was starting to find pieces of the puzzle he hadn’t seen before. He now somewhat understood what was going on. James and Nellus were being considered as deserters. Someone needed to bring them in. Though he didn’t really like it, and it was… confusing to think that something like this could happen. But why am I a part of this? It was obvious that he was being asked to take a part in this mission, but why? Why me?

    “So we need you to track them down and bring them in,” Director Marcus stated.

    “With all due respect, isn’t there someone more capable than me?” He shifted his weight to his other foot.

    Johan suppressed a grin. The Director nodded. “You give yourself less credit than you should. You’re a remarkable soldier, Frederik, according to your record—which, yes, I am allowed to look at. Johan here tells me you’re one of the most perceptive men he’s ever met. Saved his butt more than he count. Regardless, we need a ‘Klesian to track our people down, and you ‘fit the bill,’ I believe the saying goes.”

    Frederik kept a straight face. “Fair enough. When do I leave?”

    “Tomorrow, 0400 hours,” Johan said. “You’ll be leaving on the frigate Relativity."

    “And Frederik, once more thing,” Director Marcus said. “On the off chance that this is something… else, we’re having an expert in Artificial Intelligences accompany you.”

    “Director? Are you sure that’s a good idea?” The corner of Frederik’s lips twitch downwards. “I don’t think that’s necessary.”

    “Negative, Lieutenant,” Johan said, waving a hand. “We’ve been informed that it is necessary to send Doctor Paulsen with you.”

    “May I ask why, sir?”

    Johan shook his head. “Tia will tell you more about why she’s coming along. She’ll also be able to help with some repairs on Tallius and your suit.”

    Sighing internally, Frederik nodded. “Yes sir. I’ll make sure she doesn’t get into any trouble.”

    “That’d be great, Frederik,” Marcus said. “Dismissed.”

    Frederik snapped of a crisp salute to the Major, which was promptly returned, after which he left the room. His shoes clacked against the super hardened polymer as he retraced his steps, leaving the main operations room and heading towards the armory, where his suit was being repaired.

    The scientists had told him they would be making some minor repairs on Tallius. Frederik had asked, hypothetically, if he were to enter the suit without his AI would he still be able to use it. They had told him of course, and explained to him that the suit was, in fact, designed to be operated with or without an AI. The drawback was this: when the AI and the user connect their minds when using the suit, the user’s reflexes are amplified, in fact, everything is amplified; but, then those advantages are taken away when user is the only one controlling the suit.

    That gonna be me? Frederik wondered. Man, I wish Tallius were here. It’s so weird not having him here. Don’t you think? There was no response. Oh, duh. Frederik smiled, and stifled the urge to smack himself in the face. Soon he’d be able to see Tallius, maybe they would even be able to link up, though he doubted it.

    Picking up the pace, Frederik swept through the cold, steel colored halls towards the armory. It didn’t take long until he was there. All he had to do was follow the signs that he’d been following for a good five years.

    The armory itself was a maze of steel and human flesh. There was a main armory, and four wings, which branched off of from it. Frederik entered the main armory, the doors sliding apart with a hiss, revealing a room of great depth and wonder. The ceiling was probably thirty feet up from the ground, and about forty feet in length. The walls were lined with storage racks stocked with all sorts of armaments, and gray crates filled with loads of explosives. Four elevators—basically glass cylinders with steel base and top—were spaced apart equally, with two elevators on parallel walls. The elevators were the only way to get to the top floor, where there were four wings which stored all inactive and spare ‘Klesian suits.

    Frederik pressed through mass of human flesh and robot, and entered the first elevator on his right. It hummed as it came to life and ascended to the top floor. Frederik closed his eyes, breathing in deeply and taking a moment to rest. He had been traveling from planet to planet, accomplishing mission after mission for the last two years, without stopping, without leave. That’s war… No. That’s ‘Klesians. I kind of chose this, didn’t I? Yeah. I guess I did. He squeezed his fingers into a fist, took a breathe.

    Thirty seconds before his expected arrival, the elevator slowed, then halted. Frederik furrowed his brow, opened his eyes. Outside the elevator was a slim woman, about five and a half feet tall. Her hair was the color of honey, a golden brown, and her eyes were light blue, but were sharp and vibrant. A badge was stitched above her left breast, but Frederik couldn’t see it. The glass door hissed and edged towards Frederik, then slid along the frame of the elevator.

    The slim woman blinked rapidly, then looked over Frederik’s skin tight gray suit. Her eyes fixed upon the golden letter over his left breast and arched her eyebrows.

    “Didn’t expect to meet you here, Lieutenant.” She gave a half smile. “Can I call you Frederik?”

    Frederik scrunched his eyebrows. Old love interest? No, I’d remember. Old friend? No, same thing. Classmate? Nah, doesn’t make sense. “Sorry,” he blurted out, “I don’t think we’ve met.” He looked at her name tag. “Oh.”

    She giggled. “No, we haven’t. My name is Tia. Tia Paulsen. I’m going with you to—“

    “—Mars. Just realized that.”

    The elevator door closed behind her and began it’s ascent once more.

    “I guess you’re stuck with me now,” she said.

    “You can call me Frederik, by the way,” he affirmed.

    “Good. I didn’t want to have to call you Lieutenant the entire time we’re together.” She laughed. Her voice was the sound of clear, flowing water. Calming, yet powerful.

    “Yes ma’am.”

    “Don’t call me that. Makes me feel like I’m forty. It’s Tia.”

    Frederik nodded. “Fair enough.” He paused, then, “What are you doing down here, if you don’t mind my asking?”

    “Of course I don’t. I was actually getting some firearms training,” she admitted.

    “Oh.” He immediately thought of the ramifications. What in the world was command thinking, sending a scientist without firearms training? More baggage. “First time?”

    “You could say that.” She smiled, looked down as the elevator slowed. “Are you going to get your suit by the way?”

    Frederik nodded. “I’m headed there now.”

    “Then I’ll meet you at the ship. I can take a look at your AI then.”

    Frederik laughed. Why’d she go in the same elevator as me when she’s going down? She was probably just getting to know who he was, or something like that. “Okay. I’ll be heading there soon.”

    Frederik stepped out of the elevator and took a glance backwards. Tia stood straight in the elevator in perfect posture, smiled, and waved. Frederik nodded back, turned, and rolled his eyes. Trying to forget her for the time being, he made his way to wing one, where his suit was still being worked on. There, three scientists were looking at the suit—coined the Hephaistos, Mk II—which was placed on an armor rack, giving the impression that someone was standing in the suit and was simply holding still. They were holding data pads in their hands and soft murmuring amongst themselves. It looked like one scientist had been looking at Tallius’ matrix. His brown eyes were flickering from his datapad to the matrix, and his lips were moving apart from time to time as if he were muttering to himself. Frederik couldn’t be sure though.

    He immediately recognized one of the scientists meandering in front of the Hephaistos, and approached him.

    “Merrus,” he said.

    Merrus glanced at Frederik for a split second and sighed, then looked back at his datapad. But in that split second, Frederik thought he saw a smile tugging at the edge of Merrus’ lips. He gave Merrus a firm slap cuff on the shoulder.

    “It’s not ready, Fred,” Merrus stated.

    “What’s the hold up, buddy?”

    Merrus tapped his datapad, and showed it to Frederik. On the datapad was a blue 3D model of the Hephaistos, which showed the status of each function in the suit. Green meant it was functioning well, yellow meant it had some problems but was functional, and red meant it was having a lot of trouble. Again Merrus tapped the datapad, this time around the neck area of the Hephaistos. It was a dark yellow.

    “What are we looking at exactly? Tallius’ matrix?” Frederik asked, raising an eyebrow quizzically.

    “It’s Tallius’ matrix,” Merrus affirmed. He tapped the matrix, which replaced the suit on the datapad. It looked like half of an onion, as there were several layers visible on the outside. “You see that red dot in the middle? That’s Tallius’ memory core. We’re trying to figure out what’s wrong, but haven’t been able to decipher the problem yet.”

    The metronome in his chess started beating faster.

    “How useful would he be like that in the field?”

    Pursing his lips, Merrus looked at his datapad. He cocked his head and narrowed his eyes. “I mean, he may experience some confusion, which could be problematic depending on the magnitude of the confusion he’s feeling. So, he would be operational in the field, but—”

    “Then I’ll be taking my suit off your hands,” Frederik stated, and placed his gloved hand on Merrus’ shoulder. He squeezed.

    “You sure that’s a good idea? Tallius would work far more efficiently if you’d give us a week.”

    “Sorry, Merrus. Don’t have a lot of time. I just got called in for another mission. Leaving tomorrow at 0400. Gotta do my own maintenance too.” He shrugged. “Plus, Doctor…” he searched his brain for the doctor’s name, “Paulsen should be able to help me out.”

    Merrus stared at him for a second, then nodded his head in resignation. “Doctor Tia Paulsen? She’s going with you?” Frederik nodded. “Wow. I had no idea. She’s a genius. Knows everything there is to know about the Hephaistos and the artificial intelligences inside of them… Albeit, she’s a little crazy, but you should be fine. Anyways, we can finish up with your Hephaistos here pretty quickly, and you should be out of here.”

    Frederik nodded the affirmative. Merrus spoke with the other scientists who, after a brief but heated debate, began to wrap up their examinations

    “How’s your family, by the way?” Frederik asked.

    “What? Oh, they’re good. Dad is doing alright too. Hanging in there.”

    Without looking at Frederik, Merrus tapped furiously at his datapad. He motioned Frederik towards the Hephaistos, who in turn, stepped forward and gazed at the marvel of human engineering.
    The Hephaistos was something beautiful, and unlike anything Frederik had seen before. It was large, for when he stepped inside of it, he would stand at seven feet tall, but was also form fitting. The chest and back were the thickest parts, having been reinforced to protect the vital organs. Numerous armaments were stored within on the backside.

    Frederik stepped forward. In response, the suit beeped, a beam of red light emerging from the visor and sweeping over him. A green light flashed on and the suit shuddered. A seam along the middle of the chest, arms, and legs opened up, revealing the calming white interior of the Hephaistos.

    Frederik neared the suit, quickly shed his clothing, then turned his back towards it. He moved into a spread eagle position, and stepped into it. The suit met him halfway, enveloping his body and sealing its openings. He grabbed the helmet in one quick motion and put it on. The interior pulsated a dark red, then began to change colors as the suit began to boot up.

    Frederik inhaled deeply and grinned.

    Last edited by Doctor Jensen on December 12th 2015, 11:30 am; edited 1 time in total

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    Post  Impanther on December 12th 2015, 9:40 am

    The title should be Dat Suit Story . . . I am completely serious
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    Post  Doctor Jensen on December 12th 2015, 4:26 pm

    I don't know about that. But I'll think about it. Lol.
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    Post  Manny on December 12th 2015, 7:05 pm

    Or, "but dat suit tho..."

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    Post  Impanther on December 15th 2015, 6:08 pm

    Manny wrote:Or, "but dat suit tho..."

    Indeed, anything dat suits Jensen's personality.
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    Post  Doctor Jensen on December 16th 2015, 12:38 am

    I see what you did there.
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    Post  Doctor Jensen on February 17th 2016, 1:22 am

    It never took too long for the needle to enter the neural jack in the back of Frederik’s neck, but there was always a dull pinch; it left him feeling like he needed to scratch his neck for an hour or two. There was a freezing sensation as Tallius entered his consciousness. From the trainings Frederik had received he knew the device connected to his brain through the jack in the back of his neck and a metallic half-headband that touched his temples. Incredible to think that man had achieved such a technological feat.

    After a moment, the suit had completed its activation cycle. Save for the whir of servos within the suit it was silent. But he wasn’t alone; he could sense something sitting in the back of his consciousness. Frederik reached out and attempted to contact Tallius.

    You there? he asked.

    The other presence tiptoed about his memories, moving with the precision of a professional burglar. Frederik frowned. This was certainly unlike Tallius.

    Tallius? he said. Pressure crept into his chest.

    The presence, paused. Lieutenant, I am here. But your cortex is unfamiliar to me; I remember only your name, and have… a strange craving for my mother’s brownies. Peculiar, considering I do not have a mother, nor can I eat. My primary programming seems to be intact; I am still able to hack into a computer network when needed, and can operate the Hephaistos with ninety-seven point three percent efficiency.

    Frederik smiled… But that quickly faded. He quickly recalled his training; he could mentally close his mind to outsiders—psychics, AIs. etc.—which included Tallius. Did he lose his memory? Can that happen to AIs? I mean, Merrus said there could be complications, but that can’t be right, he thought. He addressed Tallius.

    You don’t remember anything besides the brownies?

    Affirmative. My coding tells me there is an error in my memory core, but I am unable to fix it. It would seem it is an issue of hardware. Curious.

    Frederik’s throat constricted. We’ll get you fixed up, Tallius. Don’t you worry. He closed his eyes and sighed.

    Very well, Lieutenant.

    Shaking his head, Frederik almost laughed. You’ve always called me Frederik, or Fred. That wasn’t entirely true; Tallius had always called him Frederik, but never Fred. It had just never been his thing. But this new Tallius didn’t know that; maybe it was unfair to lie to him like that. Frederik didn’t really know how he was supposed to be treating his damaged friend.

    Very well, Frederik. I will remember that. What are we doing now?

    Frederik shared his memory of speaking to the Director and Johan. I let you do this all the time when… well, you know. Anyway, we’re gonna go to the ship.

    We’re shipping out?

    Frederik chuckled.  Nice one. He’d never heard Tallius tell a joke before; it was very refreshing.

    What? Ah, that was a very appropriate play on words, indeed.

    “Merrus, thanks for the help,” he said. “Tallius and I really appreciate it.”

    Merrus, who had busied himself with other tasks, turned and nodded.

    “Anytime. Tell your head-buddy to get better, alright? Oh, and let him know that we tried to fix you too.” He grinned.

    Frederik’s external comm unit clicked on. “Duly noted, Merrus,” Tallius said.

    Turning around, Frederik grabbed his deposited clothes from the floor and stuffed them in his pack. He extended a hand towards Merrus, which was mirrored by his friend. they firmly shook hands, after which they exchanged goodbyes. It was a solemn moment for Merrus, one that Frederik also had experienced. Many friends had come and gone in the five years since he’d joined the Herakles program. In that time, he’d gained a few friends, and lost even more. Now his chest reflected the numbness in his hand.

    With a nod, Frederik left for the hangar bay silently. Have I lost another one? Frederik wondered. His chest tightened. Quickly, he forced his mind to change the subject, though Tallius hadn’t seemed to notice—or at least, he hadn’t said anything. As he walked, he encountered numerous military personnel, who gave him a crisp salute, which he always thoughtlessly returned.

    His mind wandered, and he considered the mission ahead; What coulda happened? He didn’t know much, but he knew that he wanted to figure out whatever was going on, because he had friends out there. They deserved that much from him.

    What do you presume occurred on Mars, Fred? Tallius asked.

    That’s the thing. I don’t know, Frederik admitted. What do you think the odds are of James and Nellus deserting?

    The Herakles database says there has never been a deserter in its history, correct?

    That’s right. But it could still happen.

    Indeed. However, there are a number of other factors to consider: the most important of which would be morale, Tallius said, then added: I think.

    Frederik arched an eyebrow. Tallius didn’t usually say ‘I think.’ You think?

    Statistically speaking, morale is the greatest cause of desertion. Whether or not it is the greatest factor in one’s desertion, I cannot tell with one hundred percent certainty.

    Maybe it had been more than Tallius’ memory core that had been damaged. Maybe his personality core had been damaged as well. Either way, Frederik intended on asking Tia when he got to the hangar. He turned left at a sign indicating the hangar bay was to his left.

    So, what are the odds? Frederik pressed.

    Rather low. Perhaps it is more than simple logic that dictates my thoughts in this particular situation.

    Frederik stopped at the hangar bay door and scrunched up his face in bewilderment. You mean intuition?

    I suppose so, Tallius said. Is that unusual?

    For you? Yeah, it is. He didn’t add: Older Tallius would have never talked like that.

    There was no response from Tallius, so Frederik was left in silence to ponder Tallius’ sudden change in character. He tapped the controls for the hangar bay doors and stepped into the cavernous hangar. Enormous ships cluttered the hangar; destroyers, carriers, frigates. You name it, it was there.

    Tallius, any idea where the Relativity is?

    The database says it is located in the southwest quadrant. It is currently undergoing preparations for our departure.

    Wonderful. Let’s go see her,
    Frederik said.

    For the next five minutes Frederik meandered towards the Relativity, until finally he could see a small frigate tucked behind a destroyer-class battleship. It was a small thing, about four thousand five hundred feet in length, and one fifteen hundred feet in width. Gargantuan engines rested atop back of the ship like giant cannons. The body of the frigate itself was cylindrical sleek; giant cannons extended off the front of the ship like giant tusks. Frederik soaked it all in and smiled. Most ‘Klesians were not fans of flying, but Frederik enjoyed the thrill of being able to pass through a stable wormhole; it was exciting, unlike anything he had ever known.

    He walked to a ramp on the side of the frigate where a petty officer holding a datapad stood lazily. Spotting Frederik his eyes widened slightly and he scrambled to give a salute.

    “Lieutenant, sir, welcome to the Relativity. I had heard you were coming along. It’s an honor,” he said.

    “Thanks. Am I good to board?”

    “You should be fine, sir. I think your friend is waiting in there as well. She told me to let you know.”

    He shrugged.

    Frederik rolled his eyes. What does she want? he wondered. “Did she tell you where?”

    “Deck B, in the lab.”

    “Thank you, soldier.” Frederik nodded and stepped aboard the frigate.

    The interior was pure white, and the halls were long and smooth as if an insect with obsessive compulsive disorder had made it; it was perfect. Frederik walked down the hall towards the elevator, admiring the frigate. From the looks of it the Relativity was fairly new.

    At the end of the hall he boarded the elevator. It hummed and started its ascension to deck B. Frederik crossed his arms and waited. His thoughts turned to Tia. She was an interesting woman, and she looked young too, leaving him to consider how she could be considered to be so proficient in her field at her age. Gotta be some sort of genius or something. May not have much gun training, but she’s good for something.

    It is as one of your race said: “there is more to her than meets the eye.” Tallius suggested.

    Rolling his eyes, Frederik grinned. Still, she rubs me the wrong way.

    Indeed. Though, if I may Frederik, there was a spike in your dopamine levels when you encountered her for the first time. Perhaps she is a worthy mate.

    Frederik shook his head, then laughed at the notion. Don’t think so Tallius. That was definitely like the old Tallius, always goading him.

    Is she not worthy of an attempt, Fred?

    Slowing to a halt, the elevator doors parted. After a few moments he had passed by the medical bay and arrived outside the lab. He moved his hand to press the button to the lab, but hesitated. He knew the way Tallius like to let things slip with

    No comments like that around her, alright?

    Does it make you uncomfortable?
    Tallius asked.

    It makes everyone uncomfortable. This was a lot like when Frederik had first met Tallius; at that time he had been just as clueless about human nature. It felt like they were almost starting over, which he almost dreaded the thought of.

    Frederik palmed the control for the door and stepped inside the lab. Tia was sitting in front of a disassembler, a machine designed to remove the armor from a ‘Klesian among other things. She held a datapad in her hand. Turning around, she gave him a curt-but-fake smile and motioned to the machine.

    “If you would be so kind,” she said mockingly, tucking a lock of golden hair behind her ear and grinning.

    Your dopamine levels have increased again, Fred, Tallius stated.

    Frederik narrowed his eyes and crossed his arms,  staring at her defiantly. He didn’t take orders from a civilian.

    “Come on now, don’t be shy. I need to take a look at your AI. Is that all right?” she asked.

    “If it is necessary, Doctor Tia Paulsen,” Tallius said.

    Again Tia motioned to the disassembler. Frederik groaned but relented, walking over to the machine and looking down. Five claws armed with various tools shook to life and snaked towards Frederik’s Hephaistos armor.

    Sighing, Frederik spoke to Tallius: Don’t worry buddy, she’ll fix you up; she’s an expert, even if she’s arrogant.

    Let us hope her records have portrayed her accurately, Tallius stated.

    The disassembler gently grabbed, tugged, and twisted at his armor as it began to methodically take his suit apart. His bracers and leg guards were first to go, followed by his upper arm pieces. Next to go was his heavily armored chest and back pieces; the disassembler grabbed at the seams in-between the two pieces and inserted a metal tip inside. It twisted and the chest and back pieces came apart. Eventually the machine had taken his suit apart and placed it onto a mannequin next to Tia, leaving Frederik in a grey, skin-tight bodysuit.

    “Computer, face the Hephaistos’ AI matrix towards me please,” Tia said sternly.

    Spinning one hundred and eighty degrees, the mannequin edged towards Tia and halted within a comfortable arms length. She grabbed her tools and a monitor next to her and began her work. Frederik crossed his arms. She doesn’t need me here. I should go get settled in. Nodding, he turned about and started for the door.

    “Aren’t you curious about what’s wrong with your AI?” Tia asked, refusing to turn her head towards him.

    “Of course I am. Someone already explained it to me, though.”

    “Well, sit down,” Tia said. “What happened to it?”

    “Tallius? He’s got a name you know,” Frederik stated.

    Tia snorted. “Of course, of course.”

    Frederik sighed internally as his patience began to grow thin. “We were hitting a gas collecting station on Jupiter. It was an easy target… or, it was supposed to be. Tallius and I got in no problem. They had a few guards, but we mopped them up pretty easily. We thought it was gonna be easy.” He shook his head slowly, looking at her with a long-practiced neutral glare. “We were wrong. The PR set a trap for us. Me and Tallius got pinned down, my shields got hit, and we were flanked. One of them hit Tallius’ matrix from behind and Tallius went dark.”

    Tia nodded again. Frederik looked at her, narrowing his eyes ever so slightly. What’s she thinking? The right corner of her mouth was turned up slightly. He couldn’t tell if she was bored or tired, but ran with the explanation that she was bored. After all, she was a scientist; what interest would she have in stories of war? She probably just wanted to know what the cause of the damage was.

    “Right,” she said, pausing to fiddle with the matrix again, then turning to him. “Do know what it was, exactly?”

    Frederik leaned back against a table. “Plasma?”

    Truth was, he wasn’t entirely sure what had hit him. The PR’s soldiers had a variety of weapons, from projectile weaponry to plasma based weaponry, and he hadn't had time to check the soldier’s weapon. It was looking like that decision had turned out to be a mistake.

    “Hm. Maybe so,” Tia said. She scratched her scalp roughly. “It appears to be a plasma burn. There’s some scorching around the edges. It must have been a very lucky hit. Your shields were still partially up, weren’t they?”

    Frederik nodded. “Yeah. Why?”

    “It’s simple, really,” Tia said, giving him a smug smile. “Had you been hit without your shields, Tallius’ matrix would be gone.”

    Raising his eyebrows slightly, Frederick shifted his weight and grunted. “Makes sense.”

    Tia looked back and forth from the Hephaistos to the diagnostics screen. Her nose scrunched up as she tilted her head to the side silently. Frederick shifted his weight uncomfortably, then scanned her over and realized he wasn't getting much from her. She seemed like a complex person; certainly she was arrogant and impatient, but there was something more to her. He couldn’t quite place it.

    She move with quite dignity. Her posture was perfect, her shoulders square and her back straight as if someone had placed a rod in her back. When faced with the Tallius’ damaged matrix, she seemed unshakeable. Her hands were steady, moving with careful precision and purpose. When she hit a specific button, it was always intentional.

    Suddenly, she looked at him. “I think I’ve narrowed the problem down to two possibilities,” she said, nodding to herself. Frederik raised an eyebrow at her. “Firstly, the whole memory core could be fried altogether. The plasma bolt seems to have done enough damage to the circuitry, but that seems unlikely. Tell me, does Tallius remember who you are?”

    Frederik nodded.

    “I thought so. I assume you were told as much by the other technicians.” She paused, but not long enough for Frederik to respond. “That leaves us with option two. Do you know what artificial intelligences are made from?”

    Furrowing his brow, Frederik blinked quickly in thought. “Isn’t that classified?” He frowned.

    Tia turned towards him and laughed, her arms falling to her rib cage as she grabbed her sides. “Of course it is. But you need to know anyway. An AI is more than just coding, we extract everything we can from a freshly deceased human brain, and put it into a tiny matrix at the back of your neck.” Frederik’s eyebrows shot up. Tia continued. “The AI matrix was designed in such a way, that if it sustained critical amounts of damage, it shuts down, and induces amnesia on the AI. That’s what happened to Tallius.”

    Frederik chewed on his cheek briefly, his heart rising into his throat. He gulped. Crap, Tallius. This is my fault, man, he thought. “Are you sure? Can’t you reverse it or something?”

    Letting out a snort, Tia rolled her eyes. “Of course I can; no one is stupid enough to make that sort of programming without something that reverses it.”

    Frederik sighed inside, noting her defensive tone. This was going to be a long operation if she acted like this around him all the time. He made a note to himself, making sure not to get on this woman’s bad side; he wasn’t sure that his sanity would be able to stand the who-knows-how-long trip they were going on, especially if he had to walk on glass in order to ensure she didn’t get angry at him all the time. A tinge of irritation lit up in his stomach. Frederik had purposefully stayed away from women like this for years just to make sure he didn’t have the displeasure of insuring their wrath. It was a small thing, but he didn’t like to be around those kind of people. They dragged him down.

    “Okay, so he’s in some sort of induced amnesia? How does that work?”

    “He’ll regain his memories, eventually. I’m going to have to do some repairs on him periodically. With time, he’ll be fine.”

    Frederik wiped a hand over his mouth. “So it’s gonna take some time. Is that what you’re telling me?”

    “That’s precisely what I’m telling you,” Tia said forcefully. She raised a cocky golden eyebrow, daring him to make a retort.

    “Why’s it take take so long?” he said, forcing down some other nasty words he was dying to say. Instinctively, he attempted to hide his irritation, relaxing his fists and taking a deep breath.

    “It hasn’t been perfected yet. Furthermore, it’s a countermeasure against hostiles. In the case that one of our AIs is captured and repaired, the amnesia-like state is triggered, and lasts long enough that we can track the AI. If it’s in the wrong hands we terminate it.”

    “But what about in our case? Can’t you speed it up or something?”

    Tia huffed and gave him an annoyed look. “To an extent, I can. But an unfortunate side effect of the amnesia programming is that it takes a long time for it to be fully repaired. We’ve been working on repairing it, but—” for a split second, Tia’s face was sullen, but after that it was gone, replaced by her confident half smile, “—there hasn’t been much progress.”

    Frederik suppressed a smile. Something inside of him found immense pleasure from the fact that Tia, this supposed prodigy scientist, couldn’t figure something about.

    “Hm. To keep them out of the PR’s hands then?”

    “What? Yes, the Allies knew it would be the most sought after tech around,” Tia said. “Can you even imagine what the People’s Republic would do with that tech?”

    Frederik thought. The People’s Republic had been fighting this war for a century. No one really remembered why they were fighting, at least not originally. It was said that Mars, after years of Earth dominating Mars’ trade, and its people, Mars had finally had enough. Under the leadership of Sir Wallace, they severed all ties with Earth. Any cargo ships near Mars were commandeered, and the crew slaughtered. Animosity towards earth had grown immensely.

    Earth’s response was as prompt as could be for traveling at sublight. Within six months, they had amassed the largest navy ever assembled, numbering just over one hundred warships. Within two hundred days, they had arrived at Mars. The general feeling at that time was that Earth would arrive at Mars, the Martians would give up after a brief battle, and peace would be restored without many casualties. They were wrong. That day, on the beginning of the First War, Earth lost thirty warships, five of which had been surrendered and its crew subsequently tortured. The recording of the torture had been broadcasted to Earth’s government itself.

    No parent had allowed their child to forget such brutality, and hate for Mars grew over the on-and-off conflict spanning over the next hundred years. With the incredibly intelligent AIs that Earth had created, Mars would be unstoppable.

    “That can’t happen. Not after the First War,” Frederik muttered.

    “Then you see how important Tallius is. And you no doubt understand how big of a problem it was to lose Nellus and James’ AIs.”

    Frederik glanced at the floor, narrowed his eyelids in response. “And my friends,” he muttered. If they’re still alive. Tia wasn’t doing herself any favors talking about his friends like that.

    “Them as well,” Tia spoke haltingly, choosing her words carefully. “If we don’t get them back, all of my work goes to waste. One way or another, we have to get those AIs back, or dispose of them if worst comes to worst.”

    Frederik flinched. Knowing Tallius, he wouldn’t like that either. He had created some sort of relationship with Helvian and Morinaton (James and Nellus’ AIs), and had communicated with them frequently. Hearing that they might have to terminate Helvian and Morianton might cause Tallius grief. Who hasn’t had something to grieve over since the war? Tallius’ll be fine. Maybe he can just override his emotions. You’d think I’d know this. I’ll have to ask him about that.

    “That’s true, but—” Frederik was cut off by the sound of the intercom above them.

    “Doctor Paulsen, will you send Lieutenant Tarsus to the bridge?” a coarse voice said. Probably the captain.

    Tia glanced at the intercom, then back to her work. “If I must, captain. I was just starting to like him,” she said, looking at him and winking. “He’ll be there in a moment.”

    What kind of games is this lady playing? he thought, clenching his jaw undecidedly.

    “Thank you, Doctor.” Upon the intercom clicking off, Tia grabbed at the the AI matrix, and said a few words under her breath. “I really hate that man. On your way, Frederik. We can finish our conversation later.” With a slight pop the matrix came loose. “I’ll work on this while you’re gone.”

    With a nod Frederik turned to the disassembler and pressed a button at the center of the machine. It twitched to life slowly and rapidly picked at the Hephaistos, then turned to Frederik and methodically placed the armor on him. After a minute he was fully encased in his shell. He breathed a sigh of relief, then left for the bridge.


    The doors swept open, giving Frederik a view of the bridge. Unlike many science fiction authors of the past had supposed, the bridge was not at the front of the ship but in the heart of the ship itself. A number of large monitors accessed the countless cameras being used to give them vision to port side, starboard side, aft, and the bow, along with a number of other slightly different angles. Starlight twinkled on the largest monitor directly in front of him, creating the figures of heroes and beast he had imagine from his back lawn so many years ago.

    In front of the monitor stood a slim man in a green uniform with the insignia of an eagle pinned to his breast pocket. As soon as his eyes rested upon the captain Frederik had instinctively snapped a salute. Years of training and interaction with his superiors had taught him to be extremely careful about how he treated them. He didn’t know the captain, which made him very wary, and in these days betrayals were all too frequent—especially from people you were close too. People you could trust were in short supply.

    The Captain turned and returned the salute, slightly relaxing and giving a wide toothy smile.

    “Lieutenant Tarsus, good to have a ‘Klesian aboard the Relativity.” He reached out a hand, which Frederik tentatively clasped and shook. “I’m Captain Johanason. The navy Brass has been telling me all about you; glad to have you aboard.”

    “Thanks you Captain,” Frederik said flatly. He clasped his hands behind his back. Meanwhile, his eyes darted from side to side, checking the bridge for any sign of danger.

    Johanason rubbed his upper lip with the back of his hand and grinned. “Now, why don’t you take off that helmet so we can talk face to face.”

    An alarm went off in Frederik’s head. His hand twitched, but he willed it to press the button at the back of his helmet. He placed the helmet under his right arm like a running back would grasp a football. With a penetrating gaze, Johanason studied his pale white face. Frederik gazed back at him; this treatment was all too normal for him, as he rarely removed his helmet. And when he did reactions varied.

    Johanason motioned for Frederik to follow him, which he did. They walked past the monitors and into a smaller room. At the center of a room was a table Frederik had seen hundreds—if not thousands—of times. Atop the table was a holographic projector and some buttons on the side of it. At the tap of a button, a green hologram of Mars and its surrounding moons jumped into view.

    “Alright,” Johanason said, placing both of his hands on the table. “We’re leaving for Mars in two hours. When we get there, you and Tia will be dropped in a refitted PR dropship so you can slip in unnoticed. We’ll drop you on the dark side of the Deimos so you’ll look like a supplier for the colony there. If that fails, you have codes uploaded to your dropship’s database that you can send if anyone contacts you. They’ve been uploaded to your database if you need them. You’ll be able to get through the blockade that way.”

    Frederik nodded as he watched the hologram. A dropship appeared from behind the moon and moved towards Mars, which was surrounded by some of the largest ships Frederik had seen. Huge cannons hung off of the front of several of their biggest ships, making them appear to be giant whales with cannons attached to their bellies.

    Frederik whistled. “Sir, that seems like one heck of a blockade. Gotta be some pretty tight security.”

    “There’s never been anything like it,” Johanason agreed. “But we’ll get you in there, Tarsus. No backwards dust-licking spacers are going to stop a ‘Klesian. Hope you’re ready son, because once you pass the blockade, we’re going to do an atmospheric drop. You’ll be dropped right onto the area under investigation. You can expect friendlies in the area; they’re masquerading as construction workers. Keep your eyes out and stay hidden. Remember the objective here: find the MIA ‘klesians here. Find any clues you can.”

    Coughing, Johanason scratched his chin again. “Any questions?”

    “Sir, the extraction plan?”

    “You’ll be given a homing beacon, which can be activated through your Heads-Up-Display. When you activate it, the dropship will pick you up.”

    “Understood sir,” Frederik stated, wondering how the dropship would have such free reign in Martian space.

    “Good. You’re going to need all the help you can get. Don’t do anything stupid, understand me? We need those assets—alive if possible.”

    “Yes sir. I’ll get it.”

    Johanason stared at him, then nodded. “This is cliche as hell, but everyone’s depending on you to get this done. You don’t have room to fail, Tarsus.” After a pause, “dismissed.”

    Frederik saluted then turned towards the doors. As he walked he looked towards the floor and furrowed his eyebrows. The whole operation seemed like a suicide mission, even if the captain wasn’t willing to admit it. It would take a lot of luck breaking the Martian blockade, then make an in-atmosphere drop, and then avoid Martian soldiers on the ground while trying to find the missing ‘klesians on the ground. All without being detected, if he could avoid it. Mission parameters for ‘Klesian were always very loose depending on the ‘Klesian. Still, he would need a little bit of luck on Mars.

    But luck had always been his strong suit.

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      Current date/time is May 23rd 2019, 7:30 am