"Suddenly, the universe seems small."

An unpublished Book series

The IDES "Concept"

Book #1

An Unwanted Mission

The first mission of



This book is dedicated to the people of the homeworld modding community, who gave me the idea.


1. Prolouge

2. The Taidan

3. The Soldier

4. The Last Test

------------ Prologue---------

In the years that follow today, several events occur that the reader must know, these events will be listed accordingly in the following chapter. Humans; in their greed and stubbornness, never developed an alternative to fossil fuels. As a result of this, 100 years from now, all of the fossil fuels were gone and the world was unpowered. Overcrowding had taken over the Earth, and people were going hungry everywhere. The Earth was polluted, and poisoned, global warming threatened to flood the world as the atmosphere became more and more full of carbon dioxide. The first task to the human race was clear; develop a new fuel source. The promising fuel of hydrogen fuel cells that was looked down upon and shunned in the 21st century became the only evident answer. Countries scrambled to get their cities powered by fuel cells. Soon, most of the world was powered again, and the situation grew brighter. To account for the overpopulation, cities were built everywhere, on mountains, underground, underwater, and even in the air. The air was filtered by "Terrafarms", huge greenhouses that stretched for miles. Within 70 years, the world was looking better and better. Yet, the population continued to grow in immense proportions. It became obvious that Humans needed to colonize other worlds to compensate for the ever growing population. The old NASA program of the 20th and 21st century were restarted and refitted to colonize the moon. Within a few years, terrafarms and CO2 generators were placed all over the moon. Ice was melted, and soon, the moon looked extremely similar to Earth. With this achievement, humans began feeling tremendous manifest destiny, and that their only purpose was to colonize the universe. A new station, a ring used for docking, was stretched all around the world, to avoid the cost of launching rockets. Humans now set their sights on Mars. Similar actions to colonize the moon were used to colonize Mars. They then colonized Venus and Mercury. And within the next 50 years, populations nearly tripled from 20 billion, to 55 billion. They were content with this for a while but then the started to colonize again. Soon all of the outer planets had cities orbiting them. Colonization of the Solar system was complete. They began settling again for the next 80 or 90 years and the old fire was burnt down to an ember. The

population soared and people prospered, resources were abundant, and funds weren't much of a problem. The old ethnicities of countries disappeared, and the people were now divided by what planet they came from. The people of Earth decided that it was now necessary to colonize other systems, and they developed a giant colony ship, filled with people in cryogenic sleep and all the equipment needed to colonize other planets. 300 years after its launch, the colony ship reached the next nearest star system and colonized a planet. The people in the Sol system were delighted with this new achievement and they began sending out many more colony ships to further increase the size of the human territory. The most obvious problem with this was that colonization was very slow. A man named Zachary Jonathon developed a Warp Engine that could reach speeds of warp 2 or, 450 times the speed of light. Colonization was still slow but much faster than it was before. They now developed "Warp gates" for quick travel between systems. With this, and the development of a Warp 6 engine, Humans quickly colonized several star systems. 500 years later, humans had colonized the entire galaxy. While in their conquest of the galaxy, Humans never encountered a single alien species, which wasn't expected. For several years Humans kept on researching and refining ideas within the galaxy. Populations continued to rise; and people began dividing again. Soon, the race split into 4 factions: Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma. Wars over pitiful disagreements spread between the factions and after several years of chaos, the Alpha Faction (which contained Earth) reigned victorious. After these wars, the Alpha Faction, having united the Galaxy, named themselves the Galactic Powers. The number one goal of the Gp was to ultimately expand Human control to the edge of the universe and to destroy any alien races that might have been encountered. It was now the year 3020 A.D and the population was up to 900 billion. The same measures used to colonize the Milky Way were used to colonize other galaxies with the exception that they were now using warp 9.9 engines that could go over 3000 times the speed of light. Within 20 years, several planets in another galaxy had been conquered; within another 100 the entire Galactic Neighborhood had been colonized. The Gp now

was known as the Inter-Galactic Empire or the IGE. Within a few hundred years, the entire "Known Universe" of today had been colonized. Their empire stretched

for almost one billion galaxies, and it continued to grow. They thought that the sky was the limit and that the universe would never end. In the year 5950 A.D, all of that changed. A colony ship, called A-10209 was cruising along when communication was suddenly cut off. Central Command sent out a probe to investigate. The probe was also lost. Fearing an enemy, they sent out a battleship to a co-ordinate just off of where the colony ship was destroyed. What they found was debris, and a huge green wall of some strange energy, which stretched farther than sensors, could reach. Scanners couldn't penetrate it, and it appeared to be a major road block in exploration. Scientists were sent to investigate, and it appeared to be made up of some sort of plasma yet, it had extreme qualities never observed in plasma, hence, it was called Superplasma or, S-P. It was also observed that the S-P had immense energy output, and when placed in a fuel cell, it produced 1 billion times the power that a normal fuel cell would produce. They replaced the antimatter in warp engines with S-P and it had extremely pleasing results: the engines could now reach Warp 15.9 which is 6 sextillion, 480 quintillion kilometers an hour, or 1 trillion times the speed of light. Colonization now moved at a much quicker rate. Yet, there was a problem: colonization efforts were hitting S-P walls all over the universe. It was now clear that the Human race had reached their limits; the end of the universe had been reached. Populations expanded for several more years before the IGE issued a command that the S-P wall be breached. Scientists quickly developed an anti S-P ray that could breach the wall, and placed it on an anti S-P engine (later known as an ID engine) and sent a ship to get past the wall. The year was now 5995 A.D on the other side of the wall the ship discovered a vast space, which was filled with thousands upon thousands of lines, stretching all in one direction. They observed that the universe they had come from was also a line, except it was a bit straighter than all the rest. They discovered that if the moved their ship in a direction that would be north at maximum warp, they could only reach a speed of 500 miles an hour, which was later designated 1 second per second. If the moved in east or west positions, they could reach a maximum speed of warp

2000 or more, which the kilometers per hour is too great to list in this book. They could not move south at all. These characteristics were exactly identical to a

theorized "4th Dimensional space" and therefore, the humans had discovered the fourth dimension. They called it the Ulatraverse. Preparations were made to enter the other 3rd dimensional universes and the IGE renamed themselves the IDE or Interdimensional Empire, a name which would stick for generations to come. A fleet of warships that were as long as a kilometer or more were sent into the next nearest universe which was called Alpha 2, theirs being called Alpha 1. Inside they discovered no races at all until the reached the Milky Way galaxy of that universe. In the Milky Way they discovered all of the races described in the ancient sci-fi series: Star Trek. Why, exactly they were living here, was unknown to the fleet, and research is still occurring to this day. The year was 6400 A.D. The IDE fleet quickly made peace and allies with the United Federation of Planets, since they were such similar species. The Romulans, Klingons, Bajorans and other allies of the Federation quickly became allies of the IDE because they saw how powerful they were. This was true, because the IDE was several thousand years more advanced than all the other races in Alpha 2. As a term of their alliance, the IDE destroyed the Dominion, (a race that was at war with the federation) with ease and began a long time of peace and sharing of technologies with the Federation. This alliance soon became known as the IDA or, the Inter-Dimensional Alliance. Other universes were explored, and other science-fiction races appeared: Star Wars, Homeworld, Stacraft, Star Ship Troopers, Mech Warrior, Independence War, and Starlancer universes were discovered. Most of these races simply blended into the IDA with ease; with a few exceptions. It is now the year 6480 A.D the population of the IDE is nearly 70 trillion, the universes of Beta and Alpha 5 have been recently explored. The Alpha 5 universe, which is the star wars universe, is at complete and utter war. The Galactic Empire is in a great war with the Rebel Alliance, and it looks as if neither side would win. The IDE has quickly made an alliance with the Galactic Empire. The Galactic Empire said they would continue to be allies within the IDA if the IDE destroyed the Rebel Alliance. The IDE has flat out refused because the

believed it unwise to destroy such a potential ally. This has made the GE extremely angry, but their shaky alliance still holds. In the

Beta 5 universe, or the Homeworld universe, an empire, known as the Taidanni Empire, has completely resisted the IDE and has stolen technology to go into inter-dimensional space. The Taidanni have been listed as the IDE's number one enemy,

and they are going to be dealt with without mercy. The Taidanni's anti-power, the Kith, have allied with the IDE, a warship will be sent within a month to explore the Beta 5 universe diplomatically, and report any trouble. Another battleship, the IDES-96750 "Concept" has been sent to Alpha 5 to keep an eye on the Galactic Empire's fleet. Assigned to the IDES Concept is I, Lieutenant Jonathon Lepeirce, the main character in this story. Now, this prologue has ended and the story of my journey begins……………….


The Taidan

"DA-deep!" The sound awoke me so quickly I didn't have time to think. "Mr. Lepeirce, please commence dressing sequence, time is 3:45 AM." A red glare pierced my eyes, the message repeated again. "Mr. Lepeirce, you have 5 seconds to comply." The computer said in a flat tone, with each syllable emphasized. I reached over and pushed a small glowing panel to my right. Today was my last day of training, my proving point to enter the IDE military. Today was a day to be proud, a day that my parents have been preparing me for all my life. My father was an admiral, back in the Zerg Wars, 20 years ago. I had the opportunity to zip through the academy on my pedigree alone, but I chose to do it myself, out of hard work. 5 years of training brought me to this day. I had memorized every rule and regulation of the IDE Military forces; I had trained my body for this day and had practiced with every weapon in the arsenal. It was mandatory for naval officers to be trained like a private in the army, since it would be common when the enemy would board our ship. We learned this the hard way in the Zerg Wars, when hundreds of little zerglings would board the ship, and converge on untrained officers. The Zerg are all dead now, but you've got to be prepared for anything. I put on a beautiful, brand new IDE uniform, mostly blue with golden shoulders and cuffs. The buttons were engraved with an "I" on each one. I had a naval hat to complete the uniform. This uniform was used only for formal purposes, and my every day uniform would be more nondescript. I looked out of my window onto a busy Chicago street. Well, the actual street was several hundred feet below me, but hovercars were zooming this way and that on a street marked by nothing but a blue hue of light. My apartment was on floor 988 of the complex, and there were still 250 floors above me. "Last day in Chicago." I said with a sigh, and then added "I hope." The computer screeched again. "Mr. Lepeirce, Graduation commences at 5:00 AM, please proceed to transporter lobby immediately." I put on my hat and walked out of my door. "Good luck." The computer mumbled. I took an elevator down 100 floors to the lobby on that section. The lobby wasn't very crowded, so I easily found a spot on my nearest transporter. Standing next to me was Chip Alexander, one of my

friends since High School; he was also joining the IDE navy. "Looking forward to graduation?" He said. "Yeah, I'm a little nervous though. Everything makes me

jumpy, even this good 'ole reliable transporter." I said. "Yep these transporters sure are scary these days." He said in a sarcastic tone. "Destination?" A female voice said over a speaker in the panel in front of us. "Chicago Academy of the IDE" We both said. "Jinx!" I yelled just as a blue green glow covered my eyes as the transporter quickly dismantled every molecule in my body. A fraction of a second later, I was standing on grass next to Chip in front of a sign that read "MILITARY ACADEMY OF CHICAGO----Entrance to the left "Chip and I advanced to the left and went through a small door and into a large lobby. A secretary saw our uniforms and motioned us into a door to the right. "You're late." She said, pointing to a wall clock which read: 5:00:00:01. We opened the door to the right and found ourselves in a totally empty room, and all of the officers which had trained us were sitting in chairs on a platform in front of us. "You're early." They said in unison, just as a multitude of other graduates entered just behind us. Instantly, chairs appeared from under the floor and low volume music came from small speakers in the ceiling. We filed into our chairs in alphabetical order. "Welcome," said the commander behind the podium. The commander was Commander Young; he was a pilot in the Zerg Wars and had lost his right arm and shoulder, and the right part of his chest. He chose to have them mechanically replaced, so the chrome on the right half of his body shined brightly. "You have all trained for many years for this day. Countless preparations were made to ensure that you were our best fighting force yet. Today, you take our place--- you will be running the military. But, one last challenge awaits you." "And that's why," he added "you have had to train so long." Then, a holoscreen flickered up behind him. Diagrams of many mechanical devices were on the screen. He pointed to a couple of diagrams. "This is the Gauntlet." He said. "It is an obstacle course that you must go through, and survive, mind you, to precede into the IDE military forces." He pointed to another diagram of something that resembles one of us in a full battlesuit. "You will be carrying a phaser pistol, an energy flak rifle, a pulse rifle, and energy grenades. I trust that you've all been trained properly?" The holoscreen

shut off, and he said: "You have 30 minutes to get past the obstacle course without killing yourself. Believe me, some of you will die in this course, it's happened in the

past, it will happen again. Starting at random, cadet Lepeirce, you are first. A wave of terror rushed over me as I thought the situation over, he had chosen me? Out of the 1300 cadets in this room: me; I was chosen. "Cadet, do I have to push you?" He said, sarcastically. "Oh." I mumbled as I walked into a door which read 'READYROOM.' The door automatically slid shut behind me, as I was suddenly transported in front of a locker which read my name. I stepped into the locker and turned around. Clasps held onto me as pieces of metal were being put all over my body by robotic arms. The metal quickly fitted itself to my exact proportions leaving a little bit of breathing space. Then, implants, which were put into my body as an infant, linked to the suit and it powered up. Hydraulic pumps were then fitted onto the suit, these would give me incredible strength, then a containment field surrounded the pumps, and a final, ablative, jointed suit was fitted around me. A helmet was then placed on my head; the greenish visor had a HUD on it that told the stats of my suit and of my surroundings. I then proceeded to the weapons locker, where I got my EFR, a long rifle with many barrels, my phaser pistol, a sleek hand sized gun, and my Pulse rifle, a large, shoulder mounted rifle with one barrel. I put on a tritanium belt containing energy grenades, a transporter buffer, and a knife. My equipment was complete. I walked over to a door with the words: CADET TRAINING STATION (The Gauntlet) marked upon its front. A greenish control panel sent out a small, luminescent glow which radiated from a small green button. I pressed my thumb into the button; the computer scanned my DNA sequences to determine if I was allowed to enter. "Approved," Said a mechanical voice that was centered on the control panel. The doors opened with a heavy mechanical grinding as layers of blast door material sunk into the surrounding wall. On the other side of the door laid before me a vast, expansive plain. On one side of the room stood a door with a flashing console next to it. It was on the opposite side as me. The overall color of the room was a drab gray, but on top of the gray stretched a grid of neon blue lines. This room was designed to create holograms. The Environment quickly melded and changed as photonic

projectors and force fields radically changed the plain, and thus, I was now standing under an open sky in front of a huge door, which appeared to be a compound.

From some unknown source in the reddish rocks surrounding the door came hundreds upon hundreds of tiny little machines. They hovered with miniscule thrusters which adorned their backs. In their front was a red type of "eye" triangular in shape, which scanned the world around it, on the bottom, extending out to the front was a single, fierce-looking gun. I had seen these before, they were called "Horde Swarmers" and were designed to get into ventilation ducts of enemy ships and swarm personnel. I had only a fraction of a second to react before the first green beams lanced out around me, their shimmering hues of green and gold flashing, as they exploded into the soil, and fused it into solid glass. One beam struck my shoulder. The ablative plating melted off, revealing a new plate of fresh tritanium which rose to the surface. I ducked and dodged multiple beams and took refuge behind a rock. It wouldn't be safe there for long. As pieces of rock were blown away, and strewn as graved into the soil in front of me. I thought it appropriate to activate my personal shield, for now. I took out my phaser pistol and leaned out from the rock. I had about fifty of the tiny little machines in my sights. I began firing wildly into their swarm. The greenish-blue beams of my phaser pistol struck an unsuspecting swarmer who, being hit made an electronic shriek and fell to the ground in a stream of fire. They retaliated and I got hit about six times. Their weapons did little more than light up my shields, which caused several alarms to go off in my helmet. 'This won't do any good.' I thought. Then I remembered my EFR. (They don't call it an Energy Flak Rifle for nothing, you know.) So, I pulled the device out of my pack and examined it. The weapon was about a meter long and had twelve barrels on the end which rapidly spun, like a minigun, when fired. This also would not suffice, as it sent a rapid stream into one location, therefore it would do no more damage than the phaser pistol. But, I pressed a button on the side of it marked TURRET MODE. This caused it to split in half and sprout legs. The two halves formed into separate firing platforms. In turn, the six barrels on split into several smaller parts and formed into 4 rows of 6 which made 24 barrels on each end. Now it was technically an EFC (Energy Flak Cannon.) I placed it with its

tripod legs on top of the rock, which was now rapidly shrinking. In doing this, the gun powered up, and made a satisfying hum as green lights flickered on its side.

The computerized drones must have seen this, and the immediately scattered. They scattered because the EFC has been known to fire 70 million rounds a second. I felt a new air of confidence as I pulled the trigger. The gun made a loud charge-up type noise before it began firing. The barrels rapidly recoiled as shot after shout began pumping out of them. A giant wall of thousands of little flashes of electric blue energy advanced at lightning speeds toward the swarm of Horde Swarmers.The effect was dramatic. Not a single swarmer survived without a hole blown through it. They dropped like flies as beam after beam pummeled them mercilessly. It took only about half a second before every single one had crashed and had a thick stream of fire coming from it. I love the EFC. I stepped out from behind the rock and scanned the area with my eyes. Discovering no swarmers, I paced up the EFC and advanced over the rubble to the door on the side of the cliff. I carefully examined the door. It was a huge and heavy blast door; it probably had several layers of tritanium reinforcing it. It would take weeks to blast trough a door like this with my armament alone. Next to the door was a control panel. It was a siple panel with12 numbers arranged in order, 1-12 taking up most of the panel. Above the numbers was a space containing 5 spaces for 5 numbers. This probably meant that it was a simple coded lock that would have me put the correct 5 numbers in the 5 spaces. I achieved this simply by pulling a small boxlike device from my belt. I placed the device on the panel and pressed a button. The panel instantly re-fitted itself to fit the panel and its numbers. It then systematically tried every number combination possible. In about ½ a second the control panel let out a chirp and a voice said "Access Granted." The door opened with a whoosh, (it did have several layers) and allowed me to pass inside. I had to rush to get into the room before the door closed behind me. There was a narrow hallway, lined in strips of lights which illuminated the hall with bright white light. To the left and right of me stood two large symbols, each one had a 'T" surrounded by a half circle with two lines underneath. This was the symbol for the Taidan Empire. So, this must be a Taidan outpost. I thought, advancing through the steel covered hallway until I reached the

back. In the back of the hallway, there appeared to be no door, or other hallways splitting to the left or right of the far wall. This meant

one of two things. 1: The taidan hated visitors or general staff to enter their compound or 2: It was a trick. I decided that it must be two, so I switched on the scanners in my battlesuit. Instantly, a holographic display appeared just before my eyes. The holographic display highly resembled the environment around me, yet it had a light blue tint, and information was rattling across the screen, putting out to much information for my brain to compensate. It told everything, from the metal composition of the bulkhead to every insect that had touched that wall over the past 5 years. But, never the less I simply turned on a computing implant in the back of my brain, and at once I knew everything. My brain began computing thousands of times faster than normal and I struggled to find the information I needed. Then, and just then, I saw it. There was a huge heat output, erupting from subspace on either corner of the wall, and my sensors were being bounced back at me from the wall directly in front of me. This meant one thing. The wall was a complex hologram, surrounded in an S-P force field. I shut down all of the implants and sensors. I needed to blast through the shield and get to the other side. It would be easily done. I took my Plasma Rifle from my pack and extended its barrel out, and mounted it on the shoulder of my battlesuit. A display flashed up on my visor, with the stats of the gun. With mere thought, I switched the rounds that would be shot from the gun from plasma to Anti-S-P. A few seconds later, the gun chirped, and the ammunition was now loaded. Fire! I commanded the gun with my mind. The Recoil was incredible. A huge teardrop shaped ball of greenish flame erupted from the end of the barrel, sending heated air molecules tumbling from it as it quickly traveled toward the wall. I was pushed back about 3 feet from the recoil and I looked at the wall and at once the anti-S-P shell exploded against an energy barrier. The wall disappeared and a yellow tinted shield began flickering in its place. The shield immediately let out after about 2 seconds and disappeared with a tired, electronic bellow. I turned off all of my implants and put up my plasma rifle and looked into the room that was behind the shield. It was an immense cavern; the walls were covered with row after row of taidanni stations, extending for about 3

stories. At each station was a taidanni, busily working away, and punching buttons and examining readouts, some were even linked

directly to their station, doing the work with their minds. The Taidan looked very similar to humans, with the exception that they had starch white skin, not a normal shade of brown, like humans, and they had white hair, so, essentially, they were al albinos. These workers had no protection, and several started to flee when they saw me. I took out my phaser pistol and fired it into the air, hitting an overhanging rock and causing small pebbles to shower onto the steel-plated floor. "Wait!" I yelled to them though my helmet, which immediately produced; through the universal translator, the taidanni language. "Stop what you're doing, put your hands in the air and evacuate the building immediately!" I yelled, a systematical phrase, taught to me through training, by the books. Many of them stopped and ran down the stairs. But some stayed and started relaying messages to security, I would guess. And whatever they did, it caused alarms to go off and my guess was that a trained military force was on its way to destroy the invader which had moved into their base, unannounced. I stunned the remaining ones at their station with my pistol and ran to take cover. The civilians did the same, as I scrambled behind a computer console and pulled out the EFR and pointed it towards the door at the far end of the room. A few seconds later the door opened with a hiss, steam erupting from some sealed chamber beyond. I could see a few shaded figures through the mist. They were bulky, misshaped figures that moved with caution. Suddenly they came out of the fog; the taidanni soldiers in their own battlesuits. The taidan hadn't advanced very far in personal shielding technology, so, their suits were covered in armor that was a few inches thick. Their suits were powered by some sort of fuel, as they had exhaust pipes implanted in the back of their suits, they would spout a bluish gas every so often and hissed like a sinister snake, ready to strike. Their armor was painted in crude sort of yellow and orange, and each of them carried a primitive, but sleek looking projectile weapon in their hands. The one in the front who appeared to be the officer shouted out something that my translators strained to pick up. "Sadqursh timoxaer herim lotar!' He shouted to the people behind him, the next time he barked orders my translator began to work. "Spread out, you dogs

and find him, when you do, kill him, without mercy!" He yelled, this time it was met with a shout of approval by the others, and each of hem, there were about twelve, fanned out and began franticly searching behind consoles. I knew that I would be found soon, so I climbed up a ladder and took a position on the first catwalk behind a waist high row of consoles. I turned on my personal shields and got their attention by firing a stream of energy into their officer's head. My EFR did little more than explode it. He fell to the ground with a thump and caused the other soldiers to scatter and take cover. Obviously, it wasn't smart to leave the officers without helmets, as my EFR would never pierce the thick armor of their battlesuits. Knowing this fact, I threw my EFR to the ground and pulled an energy grenade out from my belt. As I looked out from behind the console, the entire force of taidans began firing at me. Great flashes began erupting from their primitive weapons and loud booms vibrated through the air as explosive shells began rocketing toward my position, going thousand of miles an hour. I threw myself down onto the cat walk as all of the bullets screamed into the wall above creating 2 inch bullet holes in the armor plating. I looked out from behind the console and immediately, my targeting computer flipped on, I could see the taidanni soldier firing at me from behind a pillar, a green glow radiating from his suit. I pitched the energy grenade at him and shut my tinted visor plating. A massive explosion erupted from the ground near that pillar and sent out a giant flash of light and energy rocketing in shock waves for about ten feet in all directions of the explosion. The soldier flew out from behind the pillar and slammed into the ground, 35 feet away. It was pretty clear that he was dead; along with at least 6 civilians. Around the pillar was a crater of molten rock and steel, twisting in intense heat and bubbling. Part of the pillar was now molten, and the entire ceiling began to collapse. But the molten material led quickly, leaving the pillar misshaped and the ceiling in a collapsing state. 10 more of them remained. I speedily produced my phaser pistol from my case, and ran towards the center of the catwalk. The other taidan were easy to find, as they continued to send a constant stream of bullets at me. I set my sights on two behind a munitions box; they were firing at me with great accuracy, sometimes even having bullets graze off my shields. I leapt out from the catwalk onto a console and aimed my phaser at their position and immediately I was hit six times. The slugs

bounced off of my shields, sending electric blue energy waves around my suit then instantly exploded, about three feet away from me. I pulled the trigger. The tritanium trigger slid back into the body of the gun with ease, and a powerful beam of red-orange energy cascaded into the munitions box; sending thousands of bullets ricocheting all over the complex. The taidanni tried to run away, figuring their armor would protect them from the flying bullets, (which it did.) but, it wouldn't protect them from my phaser. I slammed the trigger and burnt two neat holes into their backs. They fell with a clank to the floor, dead. I instinctively pulled up my EFR from the ground and prepared for more attackers. That's what I got. A soldier ran across the room, wildly firing at my position. I aimed my EFR and fired at his body. Blue energy careened toward him in a flash. The energy hit his armor and began bouncing off of its semi-reflective surface. But I couldn't stop firing. Beam after beam reflected off of his armor and smashed into the ground. That's when I realized my mistake. I let go of the trigger and threw the EFC to the side. The taidanni soldier was still there only slightly burned, but no real damage was done to his armored suit. I could see his face, and he saw mine, his expression instantly turned to a smirk, his yellowish teeth showing as he slammed another clip into his rifle. I had no time to think. Twenty slugs blasted out of the muzzle, flowing in a rapid pattern towards me. They hit me directly in the head. All I could see was bullet after bullet exploding on my forward, shield. I could hear the whir of S-P generators trying to shove all energy into the shielding. I couldn't move; hydraulic pumps were left powerless, as all energy was being transferred to shields. The shield reading grew large in my visor, blinking red, and constantly falling in value.68%, 45%, 21%, 10%, 9%, 8%. Then like a miracle, he ran out of ammo. My hydraulics responded instantly, as I did a roll to the right and fired a piercing beam directly into a cooling fluid tube on the taidanni's suit. Streams of charcoal-gray gas erupted from him. He flailed around, trying to plug the hose. He didn't have enough time until another streak of orange blasted through his chest plate and plowed him to the ground. 5 down, 7 to go. The Remaining 7 were clustered around the front entrance, scrambling about something. This is almost too easy! I thought, getting ready to set up my plasma rifle. But then I realized what they were scrambling around. They had prepared and loaded a 200 Terajoule Energy cannon. One soldier sat behind it while the others aimed their guns at me. I immediately tried to dodge as energy rounds began firing out of the muzzle of the cannon. They were red, bright; like stars; and they struck fear into one's heart. The soldier was firing every half a second, making a sound like a screeching bird, as blasts traveled through the air at lightning quick speeds towards me. I dodged in most anyway possible as the pure energy flew all around me, making craters in the wall. They were tracking rounds, so I had quite a hard time trying to get around them. Wave after wave blasted into the tritanium walls, melting the metal with a steam-like hiss. One blast hit me in the chest. My shields dropped in an instant as the red hot energy slammed into my battlesuit chest plate. The chest plate itself simply slid away, and a fresh one instantly replaced it. However, the blast caused me to fly back and slam into the wall. I slumped to the floor, in agony. The firing stopped, and the soldiers began to cheer, thinking that they had killed me. They were far from wrong. I could see that they were celebrating and patting each other on the backs, the fools. They were 3 feet away, just below me. I waited until just the right moment before I ordered the hydraulics to kick in. I rolled off the catwalk and fell down, arms outstretched and I tackled the nearest soldier. My 570 pound suit smashed him to the ground. I looked into his face. It was in an expression of utter fear. I didn't blame him, for I drew back my fist, charging up hydraulic power before I released it. My fist busted straight through his visor and into his face. It killed him, instantly. The other idiots of the group had thrown there guns to the ground and were now rushing to get them. I dived towards the energy cannon and took hold of the handles. I fired upon them, mercilessly. The first part of the gauntlet was complete. -----------------------------------

The Soldier

I looked down at the right hand of my battlesuit. It was covered in blood; Taidani blood. I spent about half a second feeling both guilty for my actions and sorry for the holographic man. But then I realized that I was trained to do this, and I had done well. My next goal was probably to move through the door in which the soldiers had come from. I glanced at the mission clock in the upper left hand corner of my visor it said 27:20:05:09 which meant I had approximately 27 minuets left. It's surprising how so much can happen in just three minuets. I walked towards the door, which was probably locked tightly. However, when I reached the door the layers of tritanium alloy slid back automatically, and a computer-voice said "Welcome Mr. edralaskirgo." I realized that my hand was right in front of a DNA scanner. It had scanned the blood on my glove and registered me to go through. So I was fortunate. I walked through the frame into the gloomy, steamy interior of the room beyond. I struggled to look through the mist until I got out of it, after about four seconds of walking. In the room were a lot of noises, clanking, cranking, and electronic motors, stem hissing and tritanium pounding. It was an assembly yard. The room was huge, no doubt over 500 feet high and endlessly long. In it was row after row of assembly lines, each one assembling one war machine or another. Tanks, fighters, half-tracks, walkers, weapons and mass drivers were being assembled by a number of robotic arms. All of the finished products vanished into a dark cavern at the end of their lines; no doubt a warehouse was in that area. I scanned the room with my eyes, looking for resistance. From what I could see, there was no enemy force in the area. However, just to be safe, I took out my pistol and proceeded with caution. I edged along, keeping my eyes on a massive door which probably led to my next objective. I didn't see it coming. I felt a huge jolt, and then a sharp pain in my back. Before I could move, I was lifted from the ground. My internal sensors told me that the thing, whatever it was, had struck an electric pump, which was designed to push air into my suit and went straight through it, finding its way into the woven tritanium underneath. I whipped my head around, trying to see my attacker. I saw him alright. He was in an advanced Taidan battlesuit, which was much more heavily armored and had a personal shield system as well as a huge claw, which was sticking into my back at the moment. The claw was part of a physical shield, which was attached to a massive energy cannon. I expected him to fire. Apparently though, he had other intentions, because instead of shooting me, he slammed me up against the far wall of the factory. I yelled in pain as the claw dug into the tritaium alloy and pierced my skin. I flailed in the air, reaching for my pistol. He slammed me into another wall, this time sending chunks of concrete flying through the air. My visor computer systems flickered on and off from the impact. This time, though, the claw moved to the side of me, colliding with the wall. He was now pinned to the concrete. This gave me enough time to reach my phaser pistol. I grabbed it and twisted my arm around so that I could fire at the mechanical arm that was holding me. It was a bit too close for comfort, but I pulled the trigger any way. A large flash erupted from the muzzle, and punched into the tritanium "shield", 2 inches away. I managed to vaporize the end of the mechanical arm, only about 13 centimeters though, but it was enough to get me free. I fell to the ground and spun around to face my adversary. He was larger than I thought, around 7'4" in his full suit. He had broken free now, and he was clearly enraged. He yelled something muffled, in Taidan, and thrust his weapon out towards me. I had to think quickly as mini plasma bombs and energy rounds came screaming towards me. I did what he least expected and rolled forward instead of back or to the side. The mini plasma bomb hit the concrete 7 feet behind me. The shockwave from the bright purple explosion sent me flying towards the Taidan soldier. He fired an energy round, point-blank into my shoulder, blowing away the armor plating and blasting right through my left arm. I was lucky that the energy round just grazed me, and therefore only disintegrating tissue on the side of my arm for only an inch, otherwise, I wouldn't have a left arm. I collapsed in a bloody mess, next to the Taidan. I barely had enough time to swing my right arm around, phaser pistol in hand. I pulled the trigger once more and hit the taidan in the chest; the setting at it's highest. He flew backwards, unhurt, onto the ground giving me enough time to scramble to my feet; painfully. I moved away from the fallen Taidan soldier, looking back at him and firing a few uncharged shots at him. He was getting up, nearly virtually unscratched. My battlesuit had repaired itself; new plating was in place of the old. Painkillers were injected into my arm, and I could hear dermal regenerator repairing the tissue.The taidan was enraged, running now toward me firing wildly into the air. I reached back and felt a moving assembly line belt. Behind me, tanks were being made; an electronic arm was cutting a piece of sheet metal with a plasma beam, sending sparks flying. The taidanni was descending upon me. It was my only chance. I fired a well placed shot at him, striking his reflective helmet and sending phaser beams back around the room. He was blinded for a moment, and I was able to get onto the rapidly moving conveyor belt. I now rocketed off at speeds that were probably around 200kph; the tanks around me were being crushed or ignited by various robotic arms. I spun off of the belt just in time not to be crushed. I had made it about 100 meters away from the soldier. I ran as quickly as possible towards a completed tank, at the far end of the room. I was about 12 meters from it. The taidan began firing devastating plasma bombs at me now, blasting into conveyor belts, sending shrapnel flying. A bomb hit the tank, bounced off and exploded in the air. The blue explosion did nothing to the heavily armored tank. I climbed to the top of the tank and searched frantically for a hatch. The soldier was 20 yards from me, apparently out of plasma bombs, he began firing energy rounds. I found a hatch on the tank, and what appeared to be a lever opening it. I pulled open the hatch with difficulty, and slipped in, as energy bursts blasted around the tank's turret. I was now inside the tank. I looked around the compartment. It was small and cramped, as well as very dark (as there were no windows). I searched for a seat, found one, and whilst sitting in it, the tank activated. "TT-1540 at your service," sputtered an electronic voice. "Please specify mission type and controls." I didn't have time for this, so I tried something. "Re-rout all weapons controls to the main command station, computerize all controls." I said. Magically, the tank responded. "It is done." It said. The console in front of me lit up, as well as a screen showing the top of the turret and the taidani soldier. He was 3 meters away, as I could see over the stocky barrels of the tank. "Forward, 1.5 meters." I commanded. The bulky tank lurched forward, screeching with the effort of beginning to move. The soldier stopped, then ran in the opposite direction. He was clearly marked by the numbers "12537" on the tactical screen. "Target: 12537 and fire!" I ordered. The barrels shot backwards, the recoil shaking the entire tank. A huge ball of energy rocketed forward, toward the taidan. He tried to dodge, but it tracked him; it was too late. The massive energy round blasted into the ground, exploding and sending up sparks. The soldier disintegrated. Test #2 was complete. _____________________________________________________

The Last Test

I looked deeply into the crater made by the heavy energy cannon of the tank. Nothing remained but smoke and glass, fused from the dirt and steel of the floor-as well as the taidan soldier. Dumbfounded, I stumbled out of the hatch of the tank, looking around for the entrance to the next test. I assumed it must be one of the last for I had only 18-20 minutes before my time was up. I assumed that the most logical way to go was through the door that I had discovered at the beginning of this test. I searched the factory with my eyes, and there, far away, was a standard IDE doorway, blinking green. I would waste quite some time getting to it, as the sensor readings from my helmet stated that it was nearly 4 kilometers away. (It was a huge factory!) So I determined that I would find a superior means of getting there than by simply walking. Sure enough, immediately to my right was a long line of taidan reconnaissance motorcycles (T.R.M.). So, before I knew it I was speeding towards the door at a good speed. The tires of the cycle screeched on pavement as the braked grinded on its axles. I got out, and headed for the door. It opened immediately (and unexpectedly, for that matter,) with the sound of a computer voice. "Welcome, and congratulations Rec. Lepierce." It said, in a polytonal voice, much unlike the commercial computer I have at home. "Time has been stopped for you, as you have made it to the halfway point in the course!" I looked around the room I was in; it was a dimly lit supply room, in its center was a huge and beautiful imperial shark class hover tank. "Rec. Lepierece, last test is approaching. You will have 15:20:12:31:48 Minutes to complete the rest of the course. The previous tests have tested your ability as a foot soldier; the next test will try your abilities at operating heavy machinery; such as the Shark Hover Tank and the Fox Transatmospheric Attack Fighter. Your current rank is 1/1 your predicted rank is 4/1300. Good luck. Time will proceed when you exit this station." The communication abruptly ended. The dark room suddenly lit up as a spotlight shone brightly over the Hover tank, which now powered up, and purred as with anticipation of what was coming. It gently hovered, about a meter off of the ground, producing little more than steam and a luminescent green glow from the S-P cell in its rear. It had a smooth, sleek barrel, the equivalent of a 300mm cannon, as well as one turreted 20mm plasma and energy cannon, and one forward mounted rapid fire Projectile Flak Cannon which protruded from its front. I gravitated towards the beautiful machine, edging closely to its hatch. From somewhere in its interior, a graceful stairway automatically protruded to the ground, upon my arrival. I climbed it, and proceeded into the already open hatch. Sliding inside of it, I slipped into a comfortable seat, and the semi-transparent hatch closed above me. The most noticeable effect of being inside this IDE tank was the greatly superior feel of comfort and space, as compared to the cramped, metallic interior of the taidan vessel. There were also no controls or large windows in the front of the cabin, only a small, Plexiglas slit, allowing me to see all but a small bit of the surrounding environment. But, I had not to fear, because, upon my saying "interface" The pitch-black interior of the tank glowed with fluorescent blue, as a blue and gold interface magically appeared in front of me. A soothing voice said: "Welcome to the Shark Module Mk.VI. I will be your host on this mission, all controls are automatically relocated to the main interface or to your neural link for easy access to all parts of the vehicle, and I will not speak again until a command is given. If at any time, power to the mainframe is lost, an auxiliary control panel is directly to your left." I observed the glowing holographic controls with the greatest sense of wonder. The center of the interface was dominated by a large viewscreen, showing me all that was around me. I could see a large, multilayered bay door in front of me. "Computer," I said, "Can you open the bay door?" "Of course" it replied. The doors began grinding open, one layer at a time. Eventually I could see what lay beyond them. On the outside I could see the near-endless canyon of a massive city street, but it had no joy, for it was empty, and war torn. There were burnt out vehicles, strewn all about the ground, some still burning, having fallen from the sky. The sidewalks, once filled with happy, normal people was now filled only with debris, and lost souls. The once gleaming, 900 story buildings were now mostly reduced to rubble, and few stood above 200 feet; they were pockmarked with holes, burns and scars, and their glass was shattered, their steel melted, to form the hideous landmarks they were now. It was the perfect setting for an ambush. Sifting my fingers through the complex interface, I was able to move the tank forward. It glided, rather than lumbered, into the dismal, eerie scene of decimated, long dead civilization. It was at this time when I noticed the weather, torrents of rain pelted the exterior of the tank, limiting the vision of myself, and rendering my tiny glass slit useless. The interface, however, compensated, producing the holographic image as if it were a clear day, one of not such dreary magnitude, a day perhaps experienced by this forgotten, unnamed place. The tank glided, slowly and solemnly through the darkness of rain, her headlights struggling to keep all in front of her alight. I sped up the pace, smoothly causing the tank to glide over a fallen hovercar. I came to the first intersection, expecting the whirr of a tiadanni engine, but to my surprise, found nothing. I continued on, towards my goal, the ending door, which the sensors proclaimed was just down this road, on the other side of the city. I came to a spot of unusual amounts of still burning vehicles, this time military. Perhaps this was the last form of resistance put up in the city. I saw a smashed battlesuit, identical to my own, impaled helplessly on the barrel of an energy cannon, but no body was inside of it. The path led me to another intersection, but I had no time to observe the sides of it when ahead of me came the thunderous crash of a sonic boom. I immediately looked skyward, to see none other than a tiadanni fighter, is screeched overhead, almost too fast for me to see, I craned my head back to see it shooting off into the night sky, and turning back for another run. It wasn't until then that I realized that it had shot a few volleys of cannon fire at my vessel. The shields now showed 89%, but they were recharging rather quickly. I sifted through the controls of the tank and aimed a plasma cannon at where the fighter had once been. I saw a small shimmer, and heard a loud boom. I pulled the holographic trigger representing the plasma cannon, and held it there. The barrel of the cannon screamed away, pouring out its fire, at 3 rounds a second. The green blasts echoed and erupted in a stream into the sky. The fighter, now recognizable as a scout, dodged my fire and shot past me once again, but the targeting computer predicted its path and continued to fire at it. A plasma beam screamed into the scout's engine, and an immediate explosion followed. The scout was now shooting off smoke and sparks, and it careened out of control. The pilot, however, was able to make one last pass. The scout was directly in front of me, and it was losing altitude, coming down fast towards the street, as if it were a runway. I continued to fire plasma at it, as it continued to fire at me. The scout hit the pavement, and continued on its destructive course, screeching over concrete, and plowing into fallen tanks. It made the most horrible screeching noise my ears have ever heard, squealing its way down the road like fingernails on a chalkboard. I thought that it was going to hit my tank, but it slowed, and stopped in the intersection directly in front of me. Behind it was a burning trail of molten metal, Its two main machine guns in its front were ravaged, and twisted, and the glass of the cockpit was cracked. Just then, a mechanical sound came from the cockpit, and the pilot's chair ejected! The char shot up through the air, and I wasted no time in firing a plasma beam directly into it. It disintegrated, pilot and all.