Independent PatCom Holocaust
January 2268

 Captain Watkins quickly moved to his station on the bridge; he had been informed that a high priority FTL transmission had just been received. He quickly punched in his security code and waited for the briefing to show up. Without preamble McDuff's voice played on the bridge speakers.

"Captain Watkins, a very exciting opportunity has come up. Through our informants in the Commonwealth, we have learned that their Navy is going to be testing a radical form of corvette. What we do know is that it will be making an attack run of a mockup Independent base. Since this ship is supposed to be used for solo, deep space attack missions, it will be the only vessel there. We are also positive that the mockup is fully automated. This is where you come in. You and your ship were chosen for this mission because you currently have a detail of marines aboard your ship. Imbedded in this transmission are the necessary schematics and plans to cause a "safe" reactor problem aboard the Holocaust. I'm sad to say that it will fatally cripple your ship. After you have moved into position and caused this accident, you will send an emergency SOS to which the prototype will respond. We are positive that they will respond because of your reputation in the Commonwealth. Whoever is captaining the ship will most likely want the glory of capturing you himself. Then, when they do not expect it, you will forcibly take over their ship. Because of your ships outstanding record, you will be given command of the corvette. McDuff out."

 Stunned, Captain Watkins sat back in his chair. Everyone on the bridge had stopped what they were doing. All eyes were on the Captain. Recovering quickly, he stood and addressed the bridge crew.

 "Well, you heard the man. We have just enough time to Jump to the system and move into position. Looks like were going to be acquiring a new ship," he turned to Chief Engineer Philips. "I want you to begin the modifications on the reactor."

 Philips stood to leave the bridge, "Sure thing Ben. I'll get right on it."

 "Mr. Willis, take us to the Alpha Centuri system. As far out as you can get us. According to the briefing, the testing site is more than nineteen hours at our maximum LDS speed."

 "All right. Skipper, now engaging LDS and heading for the LaGrange Point. Estimated time of arrival: forty seven minutes," stated Navigator Willis.

 "You have the bridge Willis. I'm going to brief the marines, then get washed up a little." Captain Watkins said as he strode out of the bridge.

 The Holocaust pivoted on an invisible axis, and disappeared in a flash of green light. Within minutes, the Holocaust was thousands of kilometers away.

 Watkins lifted himself up to the top of the starboard accommodation module. Right when he had left the bridge, he could hear the laughs and cheers. Apparently the marines were playing some sort of game to keep their minds occupied. Watkins did not fault them for this, and didn't ever see a reason to ask them to stop. In his mind, a happy crew was an efficient one. He could hear the chants of Go! Go! Go! Curious, he peeked in instead of entering all the way. All the marines were gathered around Sergeant Kooning, who was eating a third can of some sort of gooey substance. Not very tasty by the look on her face. Captain Watkins looked closer and saw that it was a can of concentrated plankton. Raw by the looks of it.

 Suddenly Sergeant Kooning slammed the can down on a table and let out a shout of victory.

 "Ha! Won your stupid bet, Martez! Now you owe me two drinks at the next station," Kooning said, smiling. She was about to rub it in more, but then noticed Watkins standing near the door. "Is there something we can do for you, Captain?"

 Watkins stepped in, awkwardly, "Actually yes. We just received new orders. Looks like that freight we were going to capture will go on its path unmolested. Our new orders are to capture some sort of new corvette from the Commonwealth Navy. Here." He handed her the specs for the mission. "You may want to take some time preparing for the new mission."

 Sergeant Kooning stared at the briefing, "So that's why we jumped to LDS," she stood up abruptly. "Thank you Captain. We'll get right on it."

 "All right. See you guys in a couple of hours," Watkins said as he dropped back down into the main corridor.

 Chief Engineer Philips twisted the screwdriver back and forth, trying to pry open the Lower Maintenance Shaft. By the looks of it, it had not been opened for months, if not years. Philips gave one more powerful tug, and the access panel opened with a loud shrieking noise. He winced and put on the helmet of his radiation suit. If he entered the area without it, he would suffer severe radiation poisoning and would be dead in an hour. Not the best way to go. He crawled to the end of the passage way, which was as far back as you could get inside the ship.

 Just like the specs said, there was a small access panel at the rear end of the crawlspace. He quickly unscrewed the panel and placed the small explosive inside. This little bomb was going to be the cause of a massive accident. Directly behind all the circuitry was a reserve fuel line. When the bomb detonated, it would take out the fuel line, which would lead to a series of explosions that would take out nearly half of the ship. He was going to miss the old girl, but that was the price of war. Since the crawlspace was too small to turn around in, he had to crawl out ass backwards. Once outside, he slammed the Lower Maintenance Shaft panel shut, and quickly moved onto other duties.

 "Crap! ," Exclaimed Navigator Willis as he wrenched the Holocaust out of LDS. A corvette was in proximity to the LaGrange Point. It was less than ninety klicks away and approaching swiftly.

 Willis played the hail from the other ship over bridge speakers, "Indie vessel, this is the starship Neptune. I am ordering you to stand down and surrender to our forces immediately. You are in violat-" Willis cut the speakers and brought the targeting system online.

 While the Neptune was still more than forty kilometers away, Willis launched a volley of modified seeker missiles, which were fondly known as Heaters aboard the Holocaust. Chief Engineer Philips had modified them to go directly for the thruster exhaust at the unprotected back end of a corvette. They would completely avoid the LDA of the ship.

In quick succession, three of the missiles slammed into the unprotected main thrusters of the Neptune. Each missile carved out a larger hole for the next. The Neptune spun wildly, out of control. Willis was surprised to see that the transitional thrusters didn't fire. Also, the ships running lights were dark. The power relays must have been hit. He aimed the sensor array at the corvette, and did an intensive scan. It seemed that the reactor had automatically shut down to keep from going critical. Only emergency life support was still active. Willis sent an FTL message to Indie HQ. Within ten minutes, a tug with a detail of marines would be here to take the Neptune.

 Leaving the crippled ship behind, Willis programmed the Capsule Drive and moved into the LaGrange Point.

 Alpha Centuri

 The Holocaust sat silent close to the Jump point. Final preparations were being made for the long journey to the testing site. The maximum LDS speed of the PatCom was slightly over .3c. It would be a horrendous test of the Holocaust's systems to remain at that speed for nineteen hours.

"So, are we good to go?" Captain Watkins asked.

 "As ready as we'll ever be. All of the explosives are in place. When the time comes we will evacuate the area that will blow up. We made the modifications on the LDS. We are hoping that it doesn't give out along the way. As you know, this is an old ship with old systems. I can guarantee that we can go for thirteen hours, no sweat. After that it's kind of iffy," Philips paused to take a breath, than quickly rushed on. "When we get within ten thousand klicks we will switch to compressed air thrusters and coast on into the base area. According to the star charts, there is a large asteroid field nearby that we can hide in. If all goes well, than we will be there about forty hours before the prototype."

 "Good. I'm relying on you to keep us at top speed. Watch the LDS field monitors. Don't let us slip," Watkins said. He then turned back to command station, dismissing Philips.

 "Yeah, well I've got some work to do with the engines," Philips said uncomfortably. He quickly backed out of the bridge section.

 The captain turned to Willis, "All right, take us out. Maximum speed." "Setting autopilot for Zone 8654 of the Alpha Centuri system. Estimated Time of Arrival: Eighteen hours, thirty seven minutes."

 The Holocaust's engines started a low rumble that increased in pitch to a high-pitched shriek. All aboard the ship, the deckplates could be felt vibrating. The Holocaust had never had to go this fast before.

 "We are now at maximum velocity. All systems are in the green. Everything seems a-okay," Willis called back to Captain Watkins. "I'll be back in a moment. I gotta take a leak."

 The Holocaust was within four million kilometers of Zone 8654. The ship was about to fall apart at the seams. The vibrations in the warship were now so fierce that it was making most of the crew queasy. The sound of the engines had become a roar, and made it hard for the crew to communicate with each other. Another problem was that the LDS had practically fused into a pile of slag. They were now incapable of decreasing the speed of the Holocaust except to shut it down. If they tried to reactivate LDS, nothing would happen. The crew had changed shifts twice, and the captain was back on the bridge.

 "How long until we can drop out of LDS?" Captain Watkins yelled to be heard over the engines.

 "Five minutes!" Willis screamed back.

 Watkins brought up the plan to blow up the ship on his monitor. He concentrated on the screen, and what seemed like thirty minutes later, the deck stopped shaking and the sound of the ship dropped to its normal whisper.

 Watkins breathed a sigh of relief, "Thank God. What is our status, Willis?"

 The navigator consulted his sensors, "Well, we dropped out about three thousand klicks farther than I had hoped. I'm activating compressed air thrusters. We'll be at the proper site within ten more hours. That's a little more than twenty-seven hours before the test corvette is supposed to begin its attack run.

 Holocaust bridge
Within Asteroid Belt 6
Thirty-five hours later

 Alarm klaxons sounded throughout the ship.

 Captain Watkins addressed the entire ship via the speaker network, "We are being boarded! All hands prepare to repel boarders! Their ship has docked to the upper hatch. I repeat! We are being boarded by a hostile force!"

 He turned to the crewman on duty that was at the navigation station, "Lock off the bridge. We won't let them take the ship."

 "Aye sir! Bridge controls have been isolated" The navigator read off the apposing forces progress. "They've taken over the starboard module! Another group has secured the port module! Three marines are moving toward the bridge via the main corridor." He paused, "They're attempting to rewire the security panel! Sir!"

 His warning was too late as the bridge airlock softly snicked open. Before the captain could even reach for his gun, the marines stormed into the bridge. The marine in the lead raised her firearm and quickly took a shot at each of the bridge crew. Click, click, click.

 Sergeant Kooning lowered her gun and smiled, "Bang. You're dead."

 "God damn it!" Watkins slammed his hand on the key that would activate the speakers, "All crew. Exercise is complete. The marines took over the bridge. Everyone back to stations."

 He turned back to Kooning, "How the hell did you make it to the bridge? That should have been impossible!"

 One of the marines moved aside. Standing there looking sheepish, was the chief engineer.

 Philips' voice took on a feigned dramatic tone, "I had to help! They threatened to torture me!"

He dropped to the floor, pretending to faint. That caused chuckles all around the bridge. Suddenly a light began to blink at the navigation station, followed by an urgent beeping. Watkins looked at the readout.

 "What?! A ship has been detected. It just appeared on the passive scanners." He yelled into the speaker system. "To your stations! Everyone get ready. A ship has been detected."

 Watkins squinted at the main viewer, "I don't see anything. Wait! There it is."

The corvette was illuminated as it fired a test shot. Instantly after the light dispersed, the corvette was once again shrouded in darkness. It seemed that the corvette had the same color hull as the blackness of space, which made it damn near impossible to see. Apparently the PBC cooled down at a phenomenal rate. With only passive sensors, the computer couldn't make out the corvette for more than a few seconds. The captain had to manually keep the scope on the corvette. He kept having to squint and stare hard to track it. The other crew on the bridge couldn't make the corvette out; but with his superior vision, Watkins was able to track the ship. The mysterious corvette accelerated and moved toward the base that was in the distance.

"Wow," Engineer Philips breathed. "We've lost sight of it. If it continues on its course and speed, it should reach the base within a minute. Whatever that is, it sure as hell is state of the art. I'll focus the scope on the base now."

 "Go and make sure that the explosives are ready," the captain ordered.

 "Trust me Ben. They are as ready as they can get. You can detonate them from here. The others have evacuated the sections that'll blow."

 They all watched in awe as the prototype began its attack on the base. The corvette arced high over the station, seemingly to properly scan the station for weakness. The mockup station opened up with three PBC's at full strength, but for some reason, all of the shots went wild and didn't even come close to the corvette.

 "Sir! The corvette is projecting hundreds of EM signatures! The station's guns are having a hard time locking onto the actual ship," the navigator said in amazement.

 The corvette then turned around at an astonishing speed. It accelerated toward the station, firing PBC and Gatling Cannon at the reactor of the mockup. The LDA was able to hold this off, but was helpless to stop the single seeker missile that homed in on the LDA generator. In an instant the Linear Displacement Array shut down. The thick titanium armor could have been tissue for all that it helped. The corvette dug an ever deepening hole in the side of the station. With a tremendous explosion, the reactor was destroyed, and what remained of the station began to slowly drift away. The entire attack didn't last more than two minutes from when the first shot was fired.

 "All right. Begin the startup of the collider ring and set off the explosives," directed Captain Watkins, "They should believe that we had the accident when we tried to start up the reaction process."

 Unknown corvette

 "Well. I'd call that a successful test, wouldn't you?" said the Captain.

 "Yes sir. The ship performed better than we could have hoped," the Navigator replied. He looked at his board in amazement. "Sir! There is a massive heat signature only ninety klicks away! Looks like a reactor went critical. We are receiving a distress call on all bands. I'll patch it through."

 "Unidentified corvette, we request immediate assistance! This is Captain Ben Watkins on the Holocaust. We suffered major damage! We have heavy casualties! Please help us, You must-" With a burst of static, the message ended.

 The Navigator turned to the Captain, "Their ship is heavily damaged sir. Do you want me to prepare to dock?"

 "No," the Captain said sharply. "When we move in range, destroy the Holocaust. There's no telling what they might have seen. We can't risk it."

 The Navigator remained doubtful, "What if they sent an FTL transmission. We wouldn't necessarily have detected it. I think that we should board and take the ship over. You heard Watkins. The Holocaust has had heavy casualties. Surprise would be on our side sir. We could take a look at their logs and see if they know anything of significance. Then we could kill them."

 "All right, we'll do it then," the Captain affirmed. "Open a channel."

 "Channel open sir."

 "This is . . . the unidentified corvette. We will be docking in moments. Everyone, just stay calm and this ordeal will be over with."

 Bridge of the Holocaust

 Captain Watkins shook his head. There was no such thing as a safe reactor accident. They had lost two men to flying debris. The ship had almost been blown in half. The marines were standing ready to attack the other ship.

 Watkins looked over at Philips. He was nervously pacing the bridge. He was the only one on the ship who didn't know what really was going on.

 Suddenly there was a resounding thump throughout the Holocaust. The prototype had docked.

 "This is Sergeant Kooning! We're boarding now! Team A port! Team B starboard! We'll take the bridge! Go! Go! Go!" There was suddenly the sound of gunfire and screams of pain. "They're armed! Martez is down. Making a run for the bridge now!" The bridge crew heard a wet sounding thunk, and a groan of pain. "We have the ship. Captain, I think that you should know that this is not a Commonwealth ship. I don't care if it's a prototype. The crew isn't wearing Navy uniforms. They're wearing full body gray attire, complete with a helmet that disguises their faces. I don't think that these people wanted to be recognized."

 "That doesn't matter. We have their ship and that's all that counts. Round up the crew and bring them over here. I'm sure their people will come searching," Watkins said briskly. He activated the speaker system. "All hands, board the corvette. We will be undocking in five minutes. Let's move out gentlemen."

 Three minutes later, the corvette undocked from the wreck that was the PatCom Holocaust. The corvette lit its thrusters and headed deeper into the asteroid field. They would hide there until they knew fully how the corvette worked. Philips was instructing amazed engineering teams from the bridge. Practically everything on the ship was more advanced than what they thought as state-of-the-art. Within four hours, Philips had finally compiled enough information to present to the captain. There was small room near the middle of the ship that was apparently supposed to be used as a tactical area. It had various screens and a large holographic projector on the table that was in the middle of the room. Captain Watkins had dubbed it the "briefing room", and was waiting for him at that very moment.

 Philips entered the room to see Watkins sitting in front of a monitor. He addressed him without turning.

 "Well Mr. Philips?"

 The engineer took an involuntary step back. The captain had never called him 'Mr. Philips'. He also hadn't ever heard him speak so emotionlessly.

 "Uh . . . everything seems to be working properly. This ship was definitely made for major assaults. The weaponry on this ship makes a normal corvette look like a thirty year old tug! It has a lot of non-standard equipment on it. There's even a small Electromagnetic Pulse generator. The ring generates over 15% more energy than an average corvette. Both the LDS and Capsule Drive are very powerful. The thrusters are somewhat more advanced than normal. This ship has the maneuverability of a corvette because this ship has a much larger size and mass than the Dreadnaught class. We have two cannons that can rotate in almost any direction. Something else to note is that we have five LDA's. Two over each hemisphere and one covering our six. The most fantastic thing of all is that we are constantly in stealth mode! Even when we are actually accelerating or changing direction, we are almost invisible! With the collider ring at full power! This craft is a work of art. The Independence Movement will surely benefit from this."

 Watkins regarded the excited engineer coldly, "Just how do you feel about the Movement? Are you completely happy with it?"

 "Of course I am! This is almost a holy war to me!" Philips exclaimed.

 There was a sudden look of rage on Watkins' face. In barely the time it took Philips to blink, Watkins had covered the distance between them and smashed Philips against the wall.

 The captains' face was contorted with wrath as he spit out his words, "What?! Everyone in the Movement is a fool! They simply want to be separated from the Commonwealth! The Commonwealth is full of filth that must be destroyed! Destroyed! Everyone else on this ship is with me. Where do you stand?"

 "I, I can't abandon my principles. You don't und-"

 Philips never got to finish his sentence. With a roar, Watkins grabbed each side of the engineer's head and brutally twisted it almost completely around. Watkins let his body fall, and he left the room to go to the bridge.

"Head toward the Point. We have much to do in the following years." Watkins ordered.

 "Yessir. What's our Capsule Space destination?"

 Watkins handed him a small computer disk, "Just follow this."

 The navigator frowned as he looked at the Capsule Space destination, "Sir, this is in interstellar space. We will be able to get there, but we can't form a stable Capsule Bubble without the support of a gravity well."

 "Trust me, it's there. Besides, it isn't in the middle of nowhere. Now head for the Point."

 Watkins moved swiftly to a communication speaker, "This is Watkins to medics. There is a body in my briefing room. Prepare it for regeneration; cause of death was a fatal neck injury. Watkins out."

 *********************************************************

 Pirate Coalition Vessel Black Death
January 2268

 The Black Death, the newest addition to the Pirate Coalition's fleet, slowed as it approached the Alpha Centuri Jump Point. The current commander of the Black Death was Admiral Ben Watkins, who was also the leader of the Pirate Coalition. So far the Black Death had traveled from the testing site without incident. The Capsule Drive was being prepped for the upcoming jump.

 "Sir! The Jump sensors are going insane. I'm seeing a very large contact and a number of smaller ones." Reported Navigator Willis.

 The scopes zoomed in on the LaGrange Point to see four corvettes burst into three-dimensional space. They were quickly followed by three PatComs and six tugs. The Jump sensors suddenly ramped up as a destroyer slowly made its way out of the point. All fourteen ships took a defensive posture around the LaGrange Point and made it impossible for the Black Death to slip through, stealth technology or not.

 Something caught his eye as he looked at the ships. Then it suddenly hit him. They were all Indie ships! He aimed the scope at the destroyer, and surely enough, he saw the familiar markings of the Under New Ownership. There would be no way to fight their way past the fleet, and traveling to another Point would take to much time. Watkins was not worried. He was a superb tactician and a plan was already coming to him. He remembered that there was a large metallic asteroid about two thousand kilometers away. They had had to make a course correction to avoid it. He made the proper adjustments in the comms relay, and turned to the weapons' officer.

"Open a channel to the fleet using the modifications that I have inputted into the computer."

 "Channel open sir," the weapons officer said nervously.

 The admiral forced his voice to sound perplexed, "Independent ships, why are you blocking the Point? Has there been a change in the plan? If so, I'm not aware of it."

 Watkins waited nearly a minute before he got a response, "Watkins, this is Quartermaster McDuff. Please dock with the tug Angle face. They will supply you with new crew members. I'm sure you could use the break."

Watkins could tell right away that McDuff was lying. He had probably discovered at least one of the moles that Watkins had placed in the Independence Movement.

 "It has been a long trip, McDuff. I'd be glad to have a break, but the LDS has gone offline. This is a prototype after all; just have the tug zero in on our coordinates, and they could attempt to repair the system."

 "All right. McDuff out."

 Watkins looked at the sensors and saw that one of the corvettes, two PatComs, and four of the tugs were heading toward the asteroid at breakneck speed. The false signal had fooled them and they had no idea how close the Black Death really was. There were still the destroyer and five other ships in front of the LaGrange Point. The Admiral had a plan that might work, but he only trusted himself to execute it properly.

 "Slave weapons and navigational controls to the command station now!" Watkins barked out.

 "Done sir!" Came the reply from both stations simultaneously.

 The Black Death instantly leapt forward, aimed directly at the U.N.O. The corvette let loose a salvo of seeker and disrupter missiles at the surrounding escorts, all the while firing the PBC's and Gattling guns at the Under New Ownership. Watkins didn't really care about damaging the ship, all he wanted it to do was slightly angle downward. The Black Death rocked with the impacts from the escort ships but Watkins kept the ship on course. The corvette was 5km away from the U.N.O. ...4km...3km...2km. The belly thrusters fired as the Black Death executed a 90 degree angle and activated Instant Shield. The amazed Indie crews watched as the Black Death ricocheted off the upper hemisphere of the U.N.O. and bounced into the LaGrange Point; vanishing in a flash of light.

 Pirate Coalition Vessel Genocide

 The armored light cargo ship slowly lumbered out of the Earth L4 Point. The craft momentarily halted as it transmitted a flight plan to the civilian spaceport G-kon. Transmission begins: LDS flight to spaceport Phobos in Mars space. Sell/Trade manufactured goods, grain, computer parts. Transmission ends.

 Transmission begins: Approved. Transmission ends.

 The automated cargo ship oriented itself for the most direct flight, and entered LDS with a green streak.

 *********************

 Phobos was, obviously, named after the larger moon of Mars. It also was the largest port in the vicinity of Mars, a maximum of 2.78 kilometers long, and a minimum of .4 kilometers wide. The spaceport was the main area of trade between Mars and basically every other area of known space. There were hourly LSTs carting goods from Mars to the spaceport and back again. Like nearly every other station, there was no official "night time." This was largely because captains of transports had their own versions of night and day, and if the spaceport shut down for everyone to sleep, they would literally be turning away hundreds of ships. Phobos, of course, did have a time when most of the personnel were asleep, and it was at this time that Crewman Edwards was in the traffic control module. The control module was at the end of a long spike jutting out of the main body of the spaceport, and was basically a massive clear bubble, giving its occupants an almost unobstructed view of space.

 Crewman Edwards concentrated hard on the screen in front of him. He was deathly afraid of open space. His greatest fear was that he would die by freezing to death in the vacuum of space. That was the very reason he had been given this post: to help him get over this phobia.

 A ship suddenly flashed out of LDS fifty kilometers away from the station. Edwards checked the flight log. A light cargo ship called Genocide was scheduled to arrive according to the recent transmission by G-kon.

A nice name, thought Edwards.

 The Genocide kept the same slow pace as it approached Phobos. Suddenly, the craft altered course and sharply accelerated toward the habitation modules. Edwards activated the comm system.

 "Command to Genocide! What the hell are you doing?!" Screamed Edwards.

 He got no response as the armored cargo ship slammed through the outer hull of the main habitation module. Edwards was knocked off his feet as the massive shockwave rolled through the station. The crewman heard the emergency klaxons blare as he struggled to get up. He kicked off the floor and sailed into the transparent ceiling.

 Internal gravity is off he realized. Looking around, he saw stress cracks all over the command module, many of them were growing. Images of himself being blasted out into space flashed through his mind as he fumbled with the storage locker for the emergency space suit. Crrrrraaaaaaaaacccccckkkkk! His fingers halted as he stared, transfixed at the massive spiderweb of cracks. Crewman Edwards managed a feeble "Shit" before the side of the command module exploded outward, pulling out everything that wasn't attached to the floor. Edwards was one of these things as his face was solidified into a soundless scream.

 It was later reported that a terrorist attack on the Mars spaceport Phobos had killed nearly 250 civilians and more than 20 navy personnel by exposure to vacuum. Another 40 civilians were killed when the light cargo ship's fuel supply detonated, nearly an hour after the initial impact occurred.

 Herewon; Headquarters of the Pirate Coalition

 The PCV Black Death flashed into existence as the gravity generators around the artificial LaGrange Point began to power down. They had made it through just in time. Had the Black Death appeared just a minute later, it would have been smashed against the iris that covered the Point. Using only it's thrusters, the corvette moved into the large cluster of rocks, intersteller dust, and asteriods. The large asteriod belt covered nearly twelve million kilometers cubed.

 ********************************************************************************

 Watkins stared intently at the darkness. They had been traveling for more than an hour, moving at very low speeds to avoid the debris in the belt. Because of background interference, sensors were only effective for a short range; not even ten kilometers. Sergeant Kooning had moved to the bridge shortly after the Black Death entered the belt. She was beginning to get impatient with the wait.

 "Where the hell is the goddamn station? We better get our payment or the marines and I will mutiny." Kooning said, a threat in her voice.

 Almost casually, Watkins turned and placed his hand on the chest of Sergeant Kooning's battle armor. With what seemed a small push, Kooning sailed across the bridge and slammed into the rear airlock with a resounding clang. Watkins rushed toward her and she fired a wild shot at him with her pistol, catching him in the stomach. He hardly paused as he snatched the pistol out of her hand like a adult taking a toy from a child. One-handed, he lifted her off the floor. With the body armor, she weighed well over 500 pounds. Yet he seemed to hold her up with ease. He crushed the pistol with his other fist, then dropped it to the floor. He directed Kooning's head to his abdomen and ripped open his shirt, revealing his wound. The surrounding tissues had nearly forced the bullet out of Watkins body. As Kooning watched with terror in her eyes, the bullet fell to the deck with a thunk, and Watkins' abdomen healed nearly instantaneously.

 He forced Kooning's head toward him, "You dare threaten a god? To kill a god? Fool."

 Watkins effortlessly shattered her neck, and turned to the rest of the bridge crew, who were concentrating hard on their tasks. They had seen this behavior in the Admiral before, and knew to be as inconspicuous as possible. "The marines can't be trusted. I will...deal with them. Dock to the station when we reach it."

 The bridge crew did not respond. They continued in their tasks, even when they heard the screams of the pain, the wet sound of flesh tearing, and, most frightening, the Admiral roaring with insane laughter as he killed. The docking procedures went without problems.

 ********************************************************************************

 Philips awoke in a holding cell. He tried to get up and instantly regretted it. He gasped as pain shot through his neck. He felt the soreness lessen as he rubbed his neck, he tried to get up again, more slowly this time. He immediately felt for his knife. The four-inch blade was still in his belt. He held it in his hand, at the ready. One of the walls of the cell was completely clear, and he saw an inky black picture, absolutely devoid of stars. As he squinted, he saw a massive shape in the distance, he knew it was at least nine kilometers in length and two in width. All around it, he saw corvettes flitting back and forth. Suddenly, a corvette passed Philips' line of sight. It was followed by nine more, and from Philips' vantage point, they were either heading deeper into the belt or out of it. He guessed the latter. He knew now why he was placed in this particular cell. He could see a lot of stations and warships. Watkins was trying to say: Look at all of it. You think you pose a threat to me? You're nothing to me. Philips whirred around as the door opened behind him. Watkins stood in the doorway confidently, then stepped inside as the entrance closed behind him. Philips felt suddenly intimidated as Watkins, who was nearly seven feet tall, stared down at him in amusement. Watkins had changed out of his flight suit, and now wore much more expensive attire. He sported a loose fitting blood red three piece suit, and had matching gloves and boots on that seemed to be made of leather.

Watkins spoke with scorn in his voice, "Do you plan to kill me with that toy knife?"

 Philips steadied himself and said, "What the hell do you think you're doing? Where the hell are we, asshole?"

 As fast as lightning, Watkins reached out and smashed Philips across the mouth open handed, "This is not an Indie ship. Here, I am in charge. From now on, you will address me as either Admiral Watkins, or Lord Watkins. Is that clear Mr. Philips?"

 "Yeah, sure." Philips mumbled. He spit blood on the deck. With his tongue, he could feel a number of teeth that had been loosened from the blow.

 "Good then. I should think you would be more grateful. After the incident in the briefing room, I had your body frozen, then repaired at this station. Without me you would be dead. The only reason that you are alive is because that you may still be of use to me."

 Watkins strode to the window and pointed, "See that? It's just a shell now but soon it will be the most powerful killing machine ever created. I intend on calling it the Hammer of Thor. You are quite an intelligent man, and you will help finish it. If you do not...you will die. Slowly."

 Philips started to talk but was cut off by Watkins, "A few months ago, I ran into a unusual ship. It wanted to destroy us, but I managed to convince it otherwise. It had mistook us for a Commonwealth ship. It hates the Commonwealth nearly as much as I do. It seems that a Navy vessel helped an enemy of this ship. We realized that we had the same goal; and dicided to forge an alliance. They give us advanced technology, and we destroy the Commonwealth. The details are still being banged out."

 Watkins then nodded at the window. "Here they come now."

 Philips looked out the window and felt his heart stop.

Hovering outside the station were three Chaos warships.

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