Wow, this was REALLY long overdue...kinda like my library books right now...hehe just kidding. I'm a good citizen and turn all my books in on time. :D Anyway, now for all those disclaimers: I do not own the Bolo series. Hence why this is a fanfic. I do not own the Bolos. No matter how cool it might be. The whole actual short story called "A Time to Kill" is the brainchild of David Weber. Phew, now that all that is over...hope you enjoy! ;)



My previous damage estimate was premature. The systems error I detected previously also extends to my damage control center. I am unsure of the nature of the error, not simply the extent it occurs in my systems. As a unit of the Line, a carrier of the Dinochrome Brigade's hallowed honors, uncertainty of my own systems is not something I have experienced before, nor is it a trait of even a less-than fully functioning Bolo.

It has been 4 days, 12.5 hours, 2.8 minutes, and .45 seconds since my damage control reawakened my personality center. I have spent the better part of that time analyzing data from the single remaining orbital satellite regarding the time elapsed after I was disabled. The satellite, however, was damaged in the initial attack, and lack of maintenance has further degraded its memory crystals. What remains is subject to suspect, since the damage likely, probability at 95.233% plus or minus .3%, corrupted any data in 87.41% of the working crystals.

The information, despite its deplorable condition, confirms the conclusion my own logic centers deduced: all life on the planet was eradicated by the Melconian world burner that the invasion fleet used as a final, desperate tactic to eliminate the Concordiat presence and the small force of Humans still alive following my brigade's destruction as well as the Enemy's Garm fists and their supporting units. Any Humans that may have survived the primary effects of the world burner would have fell victim to an inhabitable, radioactive wasteland. Previous observations of the super weapon's effects have also confirmed the degradation of even the most basic genetic code.

In consideration of this information, and of my own limited mobility, there is no point in moving from my current location. I shunt power to my communications array, and begin broadcasting strongly on Brigade frequencies, requesting maintenance.

I doubt, however, that anyone will respond, even if they are listening.

Fleet Admiral Gal D'ar did not like the operation Sky Prince Zal J'ardal had given him. A small flight of ten Zeffredi class stealth destroyers and his Command vessel, a Wakmag-type superdreadnought, were to probe Human space and report their strength and positions. D'ar had the uneasy feeling that it was a one way trip, which is why he selected a small system, far away from the main Human forces. The young, arrogant Sky Prince was sure that the records and summaries of the Humans' combat performance were fabricated to deceive the War Council of Sky Princes, but Gal D'ar was not sure of his confidence. Surely, there was exaggeration SOMEWHERE in the records, but the entirety of it was impressive nonetheless. Even if the so-called Dinochrome Brigade was only a fraction as effective as it's combat history claimed, it was still impressive. And D'ar did NOT want to see its effectiveness up close and personal. Hopefully, if all went well, they would not be detected.

"Approaching system," the Navigator announced, "which is known to the Humans as 'Matterhorn'. It supports three habitable worlds. The farthest one is an icy mountain world. The middle, a planet of temperate and very moderate climate, was the greatest populated and of the greatest strategic importance. The third is the most like our own world, a desert planet very close to the system's star. It was never really developed by the humans, and only the side facing away from the star was ever sparsely settled."

D'ar scratched the red-orange flap of skin stretching from his neck to his chest, then tapped the display. "We will go here, to the middle planet. Its strategic importance gives us the most to study. And we can camp on the desert planet, on the side facing the star. They will never know of our presence. Set a course for the most habitable continent. I want to survey within four otells."

"Yes, Admiral." the Navigator bowed and returned to his station.

And so, Fleet Admiral Gal D'ar, of the Royal Alkultani Navy, gazed at the planet known as Riordahn, and narrowed his eyes, slitted pupils dilating, contemplating what surprises might be lurking there.

Sophie trembled a bit as she logged in to her messages on her data pad. It was lunch time, and the cafeteria was already packed. Already she had almost crashed into several students as she carried her tray back, fiddling with her pad. The notifications for the contest's winners were going out, and she was very excited and anxious to know if she made the cut. She grinned as she saw Rakar waving at her from a table with some of her friends. She walked over, plopping her tray down.

"What's up Rakar? You look like you're about to go into a happiness coma!" she asked.

"I am! I was chosen for the survey!" he grinned and his ears flattened.

"Congrats! I'm so happy for you! It must be totally exciting!" she gave him a giant hug of death.

"Oof! Hey, you're crushing me! I can't go if I'm dead! By the way, have you checked to see if you have won too?" the Melconian playfully punched her on the shoulder.

She bit her lip. "No, not yet...I'm kinda nervous...I logged in but I haven't looked..."

"Well come on! Let's see!" he grabbed her data pad.

"Hey! Fine, ok." she opened up the messages, scrolling all the way down, looking for any sign of the invitation.

She sighed in sadness. It didn't look like she had made it. Then, she realized something. She had forgotten to check her spam! She bit her lip again, tapping open the folder and swiping down again. Then she gasped. There, at the bottom of the messages, was the official notice.

"Well, did you make it? I can't see!" Rakar tried to lean over, curious.

She squealed in happiness and hugged him again. "I made it, I made it!"

He blinked. "Wow! Cool! We'll get to go together!"

"Do you know where we are going to be surveying?"

He scratched his muzzle. "I think the Speaker Emeritus said the Matterhorn System, but I'm not one hundred percent positive on that..."

She started jumping in glee again. "It doesn't matter, we still get to go on an adventure! I'm so excited! I'll have to figure out what to pack!."

The young Melconian rolled his eyes and grinned.

Yep. I just used that classic "important message is really there but hiding in the spam" trick. How cliché can it get? You'd be surprised. MWAHAHAHAAA-*cough* *cough* :D It may be awhile before I put up another chapter. Hopefully not as long as it took me to finish this one, but with college starting soon who knows. -\_(^^)_/- what a pathetic attempt at a shrugging smiley. Oh well (insert another one here). :D