1In a violent world
Where deception's free
Things I can't control
Taking over me
Did they try to take
My identity
So what the hell
Have they done to me!
1

Chapter 2:

Die Another Day

The minor wit in the name the place did little to distract Eara from the outright filth of the Down Under. The smolder of the myriad tokes seemed to be seeping into every pore, the fumes of alcohol making her head swim all the more.

I lookin for a dime, that's top of the line...cute face, little waist and a big-

Only 5 miles beneath the surface of the Moon could one find music this horrible. Before her a stripper, gyrated and grinded to the beat, baiting forth roaring catcalls from the patrons. As they encouraged her with generous amounts of credits, Eara groaned inwardly.

'Please don't be her..Please don't be her...ah...frell.'

Aside for two rather prominent alterations, the stripper was a mirror image of Eara.

Gods...I think they compete to be the black sheep of the family. "LYRA!" she screamed over the blaring, throbbing room. Upon hearing her right name, the dancer stopped mid-removal, to the rumbling protests of the patrons. One of the larger and angrier customers made a grab for Lyra intending to force her to continue. One would have thought he was being murdered from his screams, as opposed to simply two shattered arms.

Eara's head sank in resignation. "At least something's haven't changed sis. Speaking of which, why are you working here and what's with...those?"

"When you've managed to be dishonorably discharged from both GalCom and the Tank Police, not many places will hire you, at least not places that pay well." She shrugged without concern. "As for these, well all that muscle work is a bit hard on a girls body fat. I got tired of looking like a muscle-bound tent pole."

Eara flopped heavily into a nearby booth. "I don't think I want to know how you managed to get kicked out of the Tank Police. The details are probably wild, sordid and possibly include a lot of collateral damage."

Lyra stuck her tongue out ."And you would be correct, but you're not here to chat about how I'm doing. You want to talk about baby sis."

Eara nodded "I've been put in charge of the investigation Supreme was working on before he was killed. While there isn't any evidence as of yet, the whole thing just reeks of Kyra."

"True enough, but I don't see how this involves me. You know Kyra better than I do. Hell, you diapered her for Mikes sake."

" I know the old Kyra, but now...She's totally flipped."

"Can you blame her? She lost her eye, her child and was screwed over by GC and Supreme."

"I sympathize for for her pain, but I can't let it inhibit me from putting end to this slaughter and destruction she's stirring up. Which is why I am here" Eara sighed and removed a small case from her jacket. "By my authority as GC Fleet Commander, I'm restoring you to active service under the rank of Lieutenant with all rights, privileges and pay. You'll be commanding what I have been able to gather of your old platoon."

Lyra started in clear surprise. "The Ruff Ryders?"

"Mhm"

"Generous of you. Why?"

"Kyra and the pirates are using weapons and tactics that are beyond all normal conventions. I need someone unconventional to combat this, someone who isn't afraid to get wild and sordid."

"Looks like I'm your girl then." Lyra said with a laugh

"Good...but could you put some clothes on first?" Resignedly out Lyra's current lack of apparal

"If I must." Lyra said with mock annoyance. As Lyra disappeared into the back, Kyra thumbed a nearby terminal, quickly whisking past various illegitimate services and advertisements before settling upon the news stream.

Welcome to GCNN, GalCom Network News! Fast, First, Reliable.

Today's Top Story:

Supreme Commander Murdered!

During a special patrol to quell the rising pirate threat, Supreme Commander Karl Reines and all hands onboard the GC Flagship Difference of Opinion, were slaughtered by an unknown assailant.

The swiftness and thorough brutality of the attack leads many to speculate as to the identity of the attacker. Claims range from the recently escaped Butcher of Gammula, Kyra Elorian, to a possible reprisal from the Bandit Kingdoms.

The only thing officials have been able to agree upon, is that they will spare no expense in finding the murderer swiftly.

More details available...Would You Like to Know More?

Yamagata Heavy Assembly Acquisition Formally Finallized.

While details and assets had been handed over a sometime ago, the final contracts were signed today to make the Yamagata Corporation a subsidiary of Hadden Industries. During the past, Yamagata had been the backbone of Terran space exploration and in recent years the main manufacturer of GalCom's vessels. It is unknown at the moment, if Yamagata will continue to manufacture ships, or if its contracts will be dispersed amongst the Hadden Conglomerate.

More details available...Would You Like to Know More?

Gammulan Imperium Requests Additional Aid

During a closed session of the GC council, the Gammulan Imperium requested another 10 billion credits in economic and relief aid. Citing the costs in rescuing and relocating the populace of the increasing hazardous planet of Gammula Prime. While the largest shards of Denib have already struck, the more numerous smaller debris rains down in great torrents. Additionally the unbalanced tidal strain is turning the planets weather system into a temperamental hell. Hurricanes of ice, and shearing planetquakes are not uncommon, making the rescue of the 1 billion estimated people still on the planets surface a roll of the dice.

More details available...Would You Like to Know More?

----------------------------------------------

GCV Timestamp: 0700 Hrs 6-05-3081
System: Sol
Sector: Earth
Vessel: Peacekeeper Class, Heavy StarBase
Designation: GalComHQ (Arrant Judgement)

Buried in the encompassing dark she sat. Still and rank with the stench of excreta one would have taken her for dead, if not for her occasional racking sobs. Truly this was one lost of the will to live.

This sensory assault greeted Hadden as he hobbled into the detention cell.. Her lonely, weary eye rolled up to match his gaze.

"Come to finish what you started?" Though simply said, truth and contempt of it pierced Hadden's heart. Resting upon his canes, the old man studying the broken woman before him.

"Kyra, as soldier you told me, you had done things in which you are not proud off. Even in the midst of a desperate situation, you held on to a code of honor. I can hardly say my history is spotless, but even amongst the horrid, I held on to an ideal..a bar in which I would stoop no lower. My intentions were plain from the day we first spoke, but no matter how desperately I wanted you, would I do such a thing. Sadly, you have only my word to trust Kyra."

The mismatched pair held each others gaze, shrouded by the silent dark for a time seemingly unending. As tears streamed from her eye, Kyra finally broke the calm.

"I want them to pay. I want them to pay for that I lost. My friends, my crew, my..." Her words becoming unintelligible amidst the anguish.

"I know, dear girl. I know. Come, stand up, lets get you cleaned up. I have something that will salve your hurts. It's not your day to die."

--------------------------

GCV Timestamp: 1230 Hrs 2-03-3077
System: Polaris
Sector: Polarian Star
Vessel: Battle Cruiser Mk3 Class, Heavy Cruiser
Designation: Surprise

"All fleet ships have achieved stations keeping orbit with us, Commander" Ico reported, her eyes never leaving the NavCon display. Though a replacement fresh from OCS2Ico was proving to be one of the finest astrogators Kyra had evertoured with. However, Kyra had a nagging suspicion her inexperience was going to be a liability in the coming moments.

"Burst message incoming from the science team, Commander" shouted the Comm officer. Kyra let out a small sigh of annoyance, while one of the oldest crewman of the Surprise, Mavin was nonetheless a very jumpy and excitable fellow.

" Science team reports that they have located the singularity. Unfortunately, it is so far within the sun's solar envelope that a stabilizing bracket would not be possible to insert. Additionally, the lead scientist wants to note, that even if it was possible to insert a bracket, the singularity is of a such poor and unstable fashion that it wouldn't do much good."

Kyra let out a long string of choice profanities, somehow managing to make the salted Marine XO Resnig blush. Taking a deep breath, and then another, she tapped the fleet signal band upon her command console.

"This is Commander Kyra to Fleet, by now you have already recieved the message from the science team. I don't have to tell you that it is terrible news, but it doesn't change our mission. We are going to Gammula Prime and we are going to make them squeal. All ships warm up systems to full and prepare to navigate the singularity... manually. Kyra out"

A silence filled the room, that was almost certainly echoed amidst twenty-nine other vessels. Resnig turned to her and after a moment of contemplation bellowed

"HAVE YOU LOST YOUR FLIPPIN' MIND! We aren't pilgrims! No one's navigated a singularity without a bracket in almost 200 years! Let alone one that's unstable and buried inside a ruddy star!"

Kyra smiled at him "Looks like we are going to be putting some marks on the history books then." Resting her hand upon the shoulder of Ico, she motioned for the terrified girl to leave her post. "They don't exactly teach this sort of thing at OCS Ico, it's something that needs to be done by the seat of the pants. Take my seat and relay my coordinates to the fleet. Do your best to adjust them for the ships immediately behind us."

"Yes, ma'am" Ico said with obvious relief.

Sitting in the nav seat, brought back old memories, but it wasn't a time to daydream. Her hands flew across the controls and display, bringing up necessary systems, and preliminary calculations.

Under normal conditions navigating a jump point singularity is merely trivial exercise. Simply signal the stabilizing bracket and all the relevant data is encoded into the ships computers. However an uncharted singularity, must be precisely calculated by hand. An astrogator must sift through the flood of data from the intermitable fluxing field, for the exact moment which to execute the light speed flipover within the Horst Congruency3 A simple misplaced decimalwould end this mission in short order.

Her delicate fingers massaged her nose, a normally calming exercise, that sadly failed at this stressful juncture. With a resigned sigh, she Kyra turned her gaze to the instrument console.

"Navicom Voice Mode" She barked at the panel. She knew the system would rapidly become unreliable, but for a time it would be wise to have double check.

Merlin Navicom A.I. Online-Voice Mode. Greetings, Commander. Please Enter Preliminary Jump Coordinates.

It's not entirely understood, just why sentients are able to plot jump coordinates more efficiently then an A.I. Somehow the imperfect and often muddled senses of beings unable to perceive more then three dimensions can feel the subtle variations, often preemptively. So as the gap between ship and Congruency, lessened rapidly, it didn't bother Kyra at all when Navicom could no longer keep up.

Commander, I can no longer verify your jump coordinates. Please recompute.

Undeterred she rattled off coordinates at breathtaking speed, louder and louder over the Navicom's protests.

Jump coordinates invalid. Please recompute.

"Commander..." Ico whimpered

"Sensors are being distorted by the stars pull. Navicom is no longer viable. Continue relaying coordinates to fleet."

Jump coordinates invalid. Please recompute.

Alarms screamed throughout the ship, the seething flames of Polaris singed at the Surprise's cermet skin. It was to late to return, they would jump or be cremated.

Jump coordinates invalid. Please recompute.

"All hands brace for transition!" At the precisely determined point, the Surprise winked out of existence. For an unending eternity, the crew of the Surprise were torn apart, and shattered, agony unknown to those used to stable transitions.

And then it was over, millions of stars filled the display screens instead of a single massive one, and though completely exhausted by the harsh transition, the crew let out a unanimous cheer. They had done it, they were in the Gammula system. The reality of the situation, destroyed their jubilance twenty minutes later, when they realized that of the thirty vessels in the fleet they departed with only seven made it through.

-----------------------------------------

GCV Timestamp: 0800 Hrs 6-05-3081
System: Sol
Sector: Earth
Vessel: Peacekeeper Class, Heavy StarBase
Designation: GalComHQ (Arrant Judgement)

He rose as best he could to greet Kyra, a warm smile concealing the pain and effort resulting from the gesture.

"You are looking better already My dear."

"Yes..Thank you." She murmured absently, her eye studying the small conference room.

" Please have seat." Haddenspoke making a small ceremony out of pulling out her chair. "Cocoa, with a little milk I believe?" His musing smile grew at her quizical surprise. The nearby dumbwaiter presenting two large warm mugs of just that.

As he sat heavily into his own chair, she took a small sip from the rich chocolate. It tasted better then she remembered, it had been so long since she had any. Trapped upon that polar cap , with most their supplies and amenities gone..Her solitary closed and she sighed with some content, inhaling the perfect aroma. Eventually her gaze opened and it fell upon the conference table. On the table lay a small stack of papers ... scratch notes really and small data pad. As she scanned across the top sheet of paper, the words scrawled upon them sent a chill through her as throorough as any polar winter.

"My... notes..." She stammered out.

That wicked Cheshire grin appeared upon Hadden. "It was always my view that you would have been one of the finest minds this culture of ours has ever produced, had formative events in your life gone differently. In spite of your command career, you managed to tackle one of the grails -as it were- of modern civilizations. While Im sad to say, you were quite a ways from completing it, your rather unorthodox approach to the problem provided paths and insights to scientists that had been stumped for centuries."

Kyra stared at him mouth partly agape, to which he his smile grew even larger. "After being missing for so long, GalCom considered you and your crew dead. In the process of weeding out any confidential materials amongst your personal effects, they found what you had been tinkering with. Within a short period of time, what was previously just conjecture and hurriedly scribbled fantasies on napkins, was turned into this- Lights!-" He called out. The room instantly became dark, a small holographic blueprint then loomed in front of her.

"Before you are the schematics of the galaxies first known Irrelevancy drive. Capable of transporting a vessel and it's crew to any point, instantaneously. Without the pressures of wormhole choke points, let alone the inherent dangers of such travel methods, the balance of power now dramatically and un-revocably shifts. With the ability, to flit around, as it wishes, GalCom has literally overnight become the force in the Galaxy. However, like all good things Kyra, TAANSTAFL. The price of this particular 'free lunch', comes at the cost of immense size and power inefficiency."

Hadden manipulated the holo-display, so that it focused on the estimated proportions. Kyra inhaled sharply, the engine column was massive. No GalCom ship could mount a device of that size, let alone power it.

Continuing off her thoughts, Hadden spoke. "No class of GalCom vessel can accommodate such a device, no matter how wondrous it is. Well...almost." The holo cleared quickly and began to display ship schematics. "The BattleCruiser Mk. 6, Nautilus. Of course, as you can see, the BattleCruiser classification is vast understatement."

Understatement that it was...This ship was huge. It easily out-tonned the GC Flagship.

"Orignally conceived as a basic ship enlargement to combat the growing rumors and mythical reports of a class of Gammulan Super Dreadnaughts.. " Kyra contained a grimace, the Snakier was no rumor or myth.

"As construction time neared, the O.S.S4 took control of the project. Implementing a number of long shelved but advanced projects, eventually culminating in the final design before you. With just enough space left over to fit, a bit snugly, the new prototype engine."

Her eyes scanned the details of the ship, there was so much to take in..but one thing just seemed to stand out...much like it did all that time ago with the Snakeir. "A ship of this size is too large to be constructed quietly, it would require a massive space dock, not mention the cost. The price tag for ship like this would stick out in the GC budget."

"True enough, but here is were you can take a lesson from politicians. First rule in government spending, why charge the taxpayers once, when you can bilk them twice. Only this time, they will do so willingly and with much enthusiasm."

Being surprised and perplexed around this man was quickly becoming a career. Realization of what he meant came quickly as the holodisplay changed once more. It was beautiful panoramic of Mars, the rusty red swirls contrasting sharply against the Black.

The display began to slowly zoom in focusing on a section of the Martian ecliptic. The camera centered itself on what appeared to be minor shimmering light sources. The zoom jumped several magnification factors, showing the true nature of the sources. Kilometers and kilometers of shining metal. A vast ocean of derelict ships, in all stages of decay and repair.

"The Kharak Graveyard" She muttered. The Graveyard of Kharak was site of the largest pre-Contact battle in human history. It was there that the U.N. Spacy had it's final battle with that of the Sol Rebellion. Though the Spacy won the battle, the damage it sustained martially and politically ensured it's dismantling several years later, paving the way for EarthCom.

At the time, there was not enough funding nor desire to salvage the battlefield and as the year passed, it was mostly forgotten save for a few sparse paragraphs in history texts. After the formation of GalCom, interest was renewed in the site. However instead of salvaging the hulking wrecks, it was turned into an orbiting war museum. Many of the ancient war ships had been restored, and many more were in the process of being restored. In more recent times, the Kharak Graveyard was expanded to include, defunct or storied modern craft.

"In the time you were away Kyra, the Graveyard has received many fresh additions, and most proudly several captured Gammulan warships. Most proudly of all, is that of a 'Gammulan' Super Dreadnaught.

The Holo finished it zoom, locking it's view upon a massive craft, dwarfing all those around it. Despite the construction scaffolding and myriad support vessels obscuring much of it, there was no doubt. It was the Nautilus.

"Though there have been many complaints of the sharp rise in prices and the large numbers of areas off limits due to restoration, tourism within the Graveyard is at an all time high, bringing in several billion credits annually. And there she lies for all the galaxy to see, and seeing how the only people who know the true design of the Super Dreadnaughts are either dead, or in such a position that they would never be able to point the error in mis-classification, it remains the largest and most elaborate Purloined Letter in history."

Had it been any other man, Kyra would have said that he couldn't be serious...but with Hadden...

"Though it was taken from the headlines because of your return and subsequent trial. It was proudly touted, that the Kharak restoration group had finally been granted permission to use GHQ's larger and more advanced service equipment to complete the 'restoration.' In truth the ship is being brought here to install the Irrelevancy Drive, and as with all GalCom shipwork is being preformed by Yamagata Heavy Assembly. Which also...Just so happens to be. A recently acquired, wholly owned subsidiary-

"-Of Hadden Industries." They finished together.

That Cheshire grin returned and her heart skipped a beat. "She needs a Commander, Kyra. Care to go for a ride?"

1"With My Mind" by Cold

2OCS: Officer Candidate School

3Horst Congruency (Jump Point/Singularity): A point in space, with strong and/or unusual gravity fluxuations. A sufficiently powered vessel, can

4O.S.S- Office of Strategic Services