Computer died, took a while to make chapter two!

~~~ And the Sun rose again ~~~

Chapter Two: A Closely Guarded Secret

The onboard CPU hummed silently as only a dim light seeped into the cockpit. I looked around and deactivated my active scanner, keeping the passive operational. I peered deep into space, trying to pinpoint my position. I was about one hundred thousand kilometers from New Berlin, but the planet was in full view. The ship's computer spoke in a garbled language, revealing to me that the ship's hull was torn to pieces. Fuel spilled out into space, and a tangled mass of metal and wires was all that was left of my starboard wing. Groaning, I sat back in my chair, pondering on what I was to do next.

A garbled voice broke over my com channel. "This is RSC Spielbanken. We have picked you up on our scanners as a hostile. Deactivate all engines and power down your weapons. Prepare to be boarded." An old Train was making its way through space towards me. I would have loved to completely tear it apart, but my generator was shot, and there was nothing I could do. The Train fed a thick entrance passageway to my ship, and two burly men smashed open the cockpit door. I didn't even bother to reach for my gun, and was soon hauled into the ship.

It was very old and outdated. Rusting here, ruptured pipes there, the works. I was led down the dank halls to an old iron cell and thrown against the metal wall.

The two men laughed at me. "You should watch where you are flying, Freiheitbastard." They must have thought I was on an undercover mission. "We can smell a Navy pilot a mile away!"

"Must have taken you a while, Dicker Mann." I laughed, and the hairy one spat at me. With that, he slammed the cage shut and stormed off, hotly pursued by his comrade. I leaned back in the cell and tried to think of a way out of my prison. This holding cell was obviously quickly constructed as a way of holding petty criminals, but I had studied these on West Point. I would remember how to escape shortly, but first, I had to see if I could contact any other Liberty pilots.

After hearing their voices trail off, I opened my communicator on my timepiece and tried to radio my brethren. I tuned it to a private channel and called out into space. "This is Schwartz to any Liberty personnel, do you copy, over?" I waited patiently, but no one responded. I repeated. Still no response. Moving over to the restricting bars, I began to study them. Easy joint-lock configuration, all it needed was some leverage. I fumbled in my jacket for a wrench that I normally kept for around-the-ship means and picked it out. Jamming it between the rivets that held the rusty cot to the wall, I "wrenched" it out. The corroded rivet popped out, and I immediately repeated with the other one. The heavy bed landed with a nice, juicy clang. Hesitating, I waited for my captors to burst in and shoot me on sight. Thankfully, the circular door at the end of the hallway remained closed.

My dark hair was matted to my forehead with sweat and I positioned the frame against the iron bars. I jerked downward on the other side and one of the bars snapped completely in half! I was amazed how an old ship like this would still be working for the Rheinland Shipping Company.

Slipping through the gap in the bars, I proceeded to make my way down the hallway. I peered through the small window in the oval door and looked around. No cameras to be seen, maybe a few spotlights, but that was it. The guards were off doing something else. I silently walked down the passageways until I heard chatter and ruckus coming through the crew's cabin. It seemed the guards were having a bit of "fun" with themselves. I glanced through the window, and sure enough, the two burly men were sitting adjacent to each other with their backs towards me. They were loudly laughing, and I noticed several bottles of Sidewinder Fang next to their legs. Drunk.

I had to get out of this place, and to get out was through them. The pilot was off in the bridge so I had to act now. I searched around for something to use and somehow found a silenced pistol along with a small canister of carbon monoxide gas, used as propellant for a few old-age infantry rail guns. I wandered back over to the quarters and sure enough, both men were still out of it, drinking alcohol and playing cards. I raised my pistol and shot a bullet clean through the glass. It was such a fine blow that little excess material fell, and even if more did, it was like they had enough mental power left to pay attention. I chipped open the nozzle of the monoxide gas with my wrench and slowly hammered it into the tiny hole. All that was left was to wait. In five minutes, the laughter had stopped. Two bodies lay slumped over one another. The deed was done, now to take this rig and get back to where I came from, and to find out what the hell the Rheinlanders were up to.

I sneaked to the back of the Train where the cargo containers were, searching for something of use for when I would attack the two pilots. The heavy steel door creaked open and I fumbled for the light switch, which I found, and clicked on. One by one the overhead floodlights flickered on, and my jaw dropped. There were three enormous objects, brilliantly constructed and shimmering in the bright glow of the lights. These were sleek silvery objects, jagged at one end, and large cylinder shaped connectors at the other. It was truly a sight to behold. I strolled around it, marveling at its beauty, when I turned to the other side of the contraption and saw it. The emblem that was swathed across the brilliant silver metal was one that I had not known of before. It was different. Almost alien. There was a gnarled wooden staff curled around a burning star, its rays shot out across the entire emblem. I was stunned. Had Rheinland been receiving help from another source?

The strange object was cold to the touch, and I pressed my palm to the alien alloy. It suddenly became very warm and I could feel a buzz inside the object. I ran my hand across the side until my fingertips bumped against a small latch. I poked the hatch and it slid open. A few controls were visible, blinking silently in the light. There was a small piece of golden text underneath a metal switch. It seemed to be a registration code of some sort.

X-J89 Mk I Flood Jump Generator

I was bemused. I had never heard of a Flood Generator before, and why were they being carried in a Rheinland Train? I shook my head, of course! This is what the Rheinland was using in those new battlecruisers they had deployed to attack the other Houses. Stepping back, I thought for a moment. If I could take over this Train, I would be able to learn more about this new operation, and who they were getting these Generators from. The tiny hatch slid shut and the machine burped and sputtered for a moment, then died. The pistol I held in my hands suddenly grew very warm, and I silently walked out of the cargo bay.

The bridge was just ahead, and I cocked the hammer of my weapon and leaned to the side of the metal door. The ship hummed under my feet. Sweat trickled down my right temple. Funny how I remember it so clearly. The door quickly opened. The barrel to the back of his head. The shot. The blood covering the cockpit. The job was done, and I disposed of the body via the airlock. I did the same with the two fat men in the cabin. Each one I vaporized with a single turret blast. Gruesome work, but it was for my own good.

The controls were still warm as I wrapped my hands around the controls. Checking the NavMap, I slowly gunned the engines. Putting on the strange headset communicator, I unbuttoned my collar and took off my Liberty leather jacket. If I was to get into the installation that lay ahead of me, the jacket would put me in danger.

I did not know what I was getting myself into. If I knew what would have happened, yeah, I probably would have done the same exact thing.

~~~ Next Chapter: Nova