Friday, June 28, 2013

Administration 2013 Post for Q2

The conclusion of The Vault Incident and this post today marks the end of the second quarter of 2013 for the Chronicles, and the transition from Spring to Summer here. As I mentioned in the last Administration post, I had a few things going on. The biggest of them--graduate school--ended about a month ago when I defended my Master's Thesis and completed the Master of Liberal Studies program. I've done a few other, not-writing, things of importance (including revising work-related profiles and beginning to look for work) since then.

I did make the submissions deadline for the Sword & Laser anthology as well as the MISFITS Writing Contest. I haven't heard back from either yet, and with regards to the latter I expect that I did not get into the final group of winners yet again since they are announced at CONvergence (which I will attend next weekend). As for the former, I know that they're just swamped and so it's well within the period of time for a start-up like this to sift through them and accept or reject. I know enough about this process to be thrilled to get any response whatsoever, so I will proceed apace with other projects in the meantime.

As for HitRECord, it's attractive but far more friendly to video and audio than written contribution due to the nature of the medium commonly used (streaming a/v). Still under consideration at this time, but I'm wondering if that outlet would be a worthwhile use of my time.

The other thing I mentioned, about finally compiling these stories and putting in the work needed to make them into something that a critical mass of people would actually spend real money to purchase, is--to be honest--a daunting task that has me a little scared to take on. That's also what keeps me from fleeing from it screaming like a young Jamie Lee Curtis into the night.

So, what's left for 2013? Well, next week I will have a new post-Flames story about Ken. That will run through July, August and September. I'll let you folks know what's left for 2013 when I get to the Q3 Administration post. If you have any requests, post them below.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Vault Incident-12

“Here we go!”

Gale Wolf launched her drone fighters, and as they took wing she pitched over and dived upon the enemy airfield. Coming out of the sun, the enemy forces below couldn’t see their attackers clearly, making it impossible to hit them with ground fire. The drones targeted and destroyed the enemy’s aircraft on the ground, taking out any possibility of losing air supremacy, and Gale Wolf herself outright obliterated the airfield’s command-and-control infrastructure with a combination of missiles and well-aimed cannon fire. Within minutes, all resistance remaining consisted of enemy personnel using small arms and inherent powers- uselessly.

Roger, Alex and Alan 1 dropped from Gale Wolf as it made another pass to support her drones. The three of them glided down to the ground with the aid of backpack-mounted light-wings. As they neared the ground, Roger signaled to Alan 1, and on cue they threw down some hand grenades. That cleared the landing zone, and the three of them hit the ground running for the building wherein their quarry awaited them.

The trio breeched the building from the side, bypassing the enemy detail awaiting them at the door and catching them from behind. One grenade took them out, and a limpet mine used on the ceiling in a second-story room brought their target to them as she fell from the room above. Alex and Alan 1 dealt with the enemy handler and his henchmen, quickly overwhelming them with unexpected violence of action, while Roger bound their target and signaled for pick-up.

The three of them, quarry in hand, made for the rooftop where Gale Wolf met them. Once aboard, Gale Wolf made for home and recalled her drones. The enemy, completely unable to pursue, soon faded into irrelevance as it disappeared in the distance. Roger contacted the Council, and they made use of their executive privilege to recall Gale Wolf directly to the Inner City and the Council Tower. Once there, Roger took the prisoner to a top-security cell and locked her under Engineer’s Seal.

Roger waited until the Council was present before he began interrogation.

“Name.” Roger said, “Your real name.”

She didn’t answer.

“Fine. Have it your way.” Roger said, and he turned to Alex.

“Emile Tory, Imperial Intelligence.” Alex said, “You hold the rank of Major in the Imperial military, but your file is sealed due to your presence in the Imperial Cult- and, officially, due to being female.”

“We are well acquainted with Imperial hypocrisy.” Alan 1 said, as he entered the chamber.

“We know that you deal with the inhuman presence based out of the mid-Atlantic continent.” Roger said, “We also know that you are the one responsible for the entity that breached the Inner City, ostensibly in the Cult’s name.”

Emile looked up at Roger.

“One question, and your answer, determines how this ends: are you for the Cult or the Usurpers?”

Emile smiled and nodded submissively.

“That’s all I need to know. Council members, I recommend rectification.”

They agreed, unanimously. Within a year, Usurper agents got wiped out.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Vault Incident-11

“Engineer,” Gale Wolf said, “I detect Imperial units ahead. They do not seem to have detected me yet.”

Roger looked at the sensors. “Gain altitude. Get us into the sun.”

Gale Wolf climbed high into the sky, attaining that superior position.

“Deploy drones.” Roger said, “I want eyes on that scene.”

Gale Wolf resolved and deployed a dozen drones, each one under its own cloak, and sent them forward. Their sensors reported back to Gale Wolf, and their streams fed directly to the bridge.

“Engineer,” Alex said, “there are too many Imperial units here to be just a cult operation.”

“I concur.” Alan 1 said, “That’s a forward base for staging prior to operations.”

Roger looked at the realtime streams. He saw an airbase, crude-but-functional, with Imperial army personnel and air assets—dropships, gunships, fighters, etc.—moving about. Then he input an application from his personal device into the datastream, and ran that data again; the Imperial assets and personnel appeared translucent and other figures appeared underneath.

“Look again.” Roger said, and he pushed the filtered stream to the other stations.

“That is not good.” Alan 1 said.

“Wait.” Alex said, “I’ve spotted our target.”

Alex locked on to her and pushed that to Roger and Alan 1. The three now watched as she met with an older man, apparently an Imperial Intelligence officer, but really an alien humanoid in disguise.

“Doesn’t she think to check?” Alex said.

“Cult tradecraft is weak in the face of its object of veneration.” Alan 1 said, “So long as cursory scans come up clean, she’d never think to question that her contact is what he claims to be. Remember that they have to avoid Stalkers just like we do.”

“But I don’t see any of the usual Imperial countermeasures.” Alex said.

Roger quickly confirmed that with a scan of the scene.

Gale Wolf, time to target.” Roger said. “10 minutes, Engineer.”

“Battle stations. We’re going in hot. Send report to the Council.”

Klaxons went off, and weapons consoles heretofore powered down lit up.

“What?” Alex said.

“There is no way that a real Imperial base would lack countermeasures, and there is no way that a loyal cultist would fail to notice that fact when it’s before their eyes. This woman is not a cultist- she’s the Usurper agent.”

Alan 1 nodded, agreeing. “Objectives?”

“Tag and bag that agent. Get her handler if you can. Destroy everything else.”

“Acknowledged.” Alex, Alan 1 and Gale Wolf said.

“Combat preparations procedures underway.” Gale Wolf said, “Drone fighters will be ready.”

“Standard engagement procedures, Gale Wolf.” Roger said, “The others and I will deploy when ready.”

Alex looked at Roger, curious.

“Suppress air defenses to establish air supremacy.” Roger said, “Then channel resistance into a line of retreat that we want. We deploy as soon as supremacy is established.”

“By air drop.” Alan 1 said, “They’re expecting something bigger, so they won’t notice us until it’s too late.”

“Hit hard, hit fast, and then we get out.”

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Vault Incident-10

“Security constructs report that the suspect is not present.” Alex said.

“She wasn’t there for some time.” Roger said, “The cult’s leaders and top members are not stupid, and they too are often as perceptive as we are. She likely noticed that the neighbors’ behavior changed, and then saw signs of our presence affecting them, and slipped away before the constructs got in place.”

“You say that-“

“Yes, I have, on the receiving end. Slipped out of the Imperial Capital like that.”

“What now?”

“The constructs will follow procedure. Have their report forward to me immediately.”

“Is this why you sent Alan 1 to the yard? You know that we’re going to have to chase her down?”

“Not quite.” Roger said, “I know where she’s going, and I know that she’s not going to be alone if we don’t seize the initiative now.”

“Engineer,” Alan 1 said, “we are cleared to proceed.”

“Acknowledged.” Roger said, and both he and Alex beamed aboard a waiting airship directly to the bridge, where Alan 1 awaited them.

“Welcome aboard, Engineer.” Alan 1 said, “Course?”

Roger entered some figures into a wrist-mounted device. “Set course for this location, on that bearing, and under cloak as soon as we’re about to go beyond the Outer City.”

“Acknowledged, Engineer.” Alan 1 said.

“I don’t recognize this ship.” Alex said, “It’s not in the database.”

“Not at your level of clearance.” Roger said, “This is my own design, and it’s under Engineer Seal.”

“Aside from the Engineer, only the Council and myself know of it.” Alan 1 said, “Its visual similarity to Republic standard designs, combined with camouflage protocols, ensures secrecy while its deployed and not cloaked.”

“The Seal does the job while in its berth.” Roger said, quickly following.

“Does this ship have a name?” Alex said.

Roger smiled. “I am Gale Wolf,” the ship said, displaying a feminine persona, “and I am pleased to meet you, Alex.”

Roger and Alan 1 looked over at Alex. “Sorry.”

The Gale Wolf slowly weaved through the air traffic of the Outer City, heading east-southeast as it passed through the outer screens marking the City-State’s outer limits, and under cloak it quickly sped up to a cruising speed that made their personal lightjets feel slow.

“I get it now.” Alex said, her eyes wide with delight, “How else does she vary?”

“You’ll find out soon enough.” Roger said.

“Engineer,” Gale Wolf said, “incoming transmission from the Outer City.”

“To me.” Roger said, and he read it on his personal device.

“Well?” Alex said.

Roger frowned. “They weren’t fast enough. We’re going to have company.”

Alex looked to Alan 1, seeking a clue, but Alan 1 smiled at her.

“General Quarters.” Roger said, and Gale Wolf’s pleasant environment instantly shifted to one of a harsher, combat-ready warship. Unnecessary displays vanished, leaving utilitarian bare walls. The bridge condensed into the minimum space necessary for the three of them—two stations and Roger in a command chair—which they assumed.

“Ready, Engineer.”