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Two Dogs' Neural Net

Short Story

Below is/will be a collection of short stories that fit into small sections of the other stories going around atm. They should in no way interupt the flow or direction of the main stories but just expand on some bits.

Hope you enjoy them :)

Number 1: My viewpoint of the battle at Dresden Jump Hole, Omega-7 System 2:57am, January 29th, 807AS as listed in TOTBK.

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Dresden Jump Hole, Omega-7 System 2:57am, January 29th, 807AS

The Eagle hung suspended in the nothingness that was space, nudged occassionally by the solar wind eminating out of the central core of Omega 7, a gentle enough breeze, usually unfelt in the hustle and bustle of just staying alive. Now, the silence hung heavy, the breeze whispered about the cockpit. Above me hung the motionless Eagle of Thor and to my left sat TBK, silent except for the occassional word to placate the tensness growing each minute..."easy guys, keep it steady". Rambler's Eagle slowly drifted past below me, a squadran of Order ships trailed off his wing. He drifted out of my view and I watched the Order ships slowly follow suit.

Oddly enough, this was my favourite time of battle. The waiting. I took the time to reflect on the past or analyse the nearby ships, take in the splendor of space, that vast chunk of nothingness that still had me in awe. Far off to my right I caught the sudden eclipse of a few stars and realized Commander Matik was positioning the cloaked deadnaught The Rook into whatever favourite location he preferred prior to battle. I grinned a wry smile and imagined the crew, tense, strained, confined. I couldn't think of a worse place to be in a battle, locked inside a huge box you didn't even have control over. Mind you, that box held a fairly hefty array of ordinance and under Matik's deft touch could almost annialate the very fabric of time itself. Oh well, I surmised, if I had to be in a box not knowing what was going on, I'd be content knowing Matik controlled my destiny.

TBK's voice almost whispered over the intercom, waking me from my revery. "The train's coming through. It should be hotly followed. Do not allow anything near it, period! Leave thier battle ship to ours. Engage their fighters and cruisers only. Give Procene the time he needs to get that big sucker the hell outa here." His voice trailed off slightly..." Ok, easy now, rising to attack speed."

My Eagle engaged engines and followed TBK up and around the Jump Hole automatically while I set the ship to battle mode. Closing my eyes, I shot a last prayer to Kronos, God of Battle, intoned the ancient chant of the tribe and muttered the war cry "For the Horde!". I added "Remember the Alamo" because I'd come to respect bass's fight for justice over their lost homeland and because it helped me smile. So, grinning like a Cheshire cat, I broke formation as TBK shouted "Contact" and blasted into battle.

Space filled with dancing, twisting ships as Nomad after Nomad popped into existance around me. Missiles screamed past, blue bolts of death flashed in a pyrotechnic light show that burnt the eyes and browned the skin. A pair of Nomad light fighters flashed out of existance as my guns carved a path through the milling throng. I quickly realised we had caught them by surprise. We were the last thing they seemed to be expecting. The few minutes it took for them to realise this and organise themselves into an attack formation was enough for us to totally smash their main core of fighters. I trailed TBK's Eagle off to his left as we swung about for another pass, dropping several Nomad's in our wake. A Nomad exploded off to my right, Damn, I hadn't seen that one. Luckily Thor had.

"Fleggy's attacked, cover the path." TBK radioed and we banked upwards to connect with the stream of missiles flowing out of the Rook. A Nomad cruiser also saw the stream and closed in to intercept. Awefully brave of him I thought, going to catch a battleship destroying bunch of missiles head on with a cruiser. Well, let's see what we can do about that. 

We quickly caught the cruiser and proceeded to tear great chunks from it. A few Order ships also engaged it and it vanished in a blinding flash of blue. I emerged from the blast and shot down to my right to engage a flight of fighters coming in, my guns shaking the ship as they hammered and howled incessantly. I caught some bolts across the tail as I passed and I lost one the rear wings and the mine layer. 

"Bugga" I muttered as I swung to engage them again. I saw two explode as Thor closed on them and a third died under my guns. TBK took out the fourth, and, as it turned out, the last. I was suddenly blinded by a searing light that totally reduced all vision to zero. Even the protective goggles failed to shield my eyes. 

"son of a..." I heard Thor mutter. The Nomad Battleship had engaged The Rook and Commander Matik had reduced it to a memory. As the remains slowly disipated into space, the last few Nomad ships fled back through the jump hole. We were alone.

"Report!" TBK ordered as we reformed. Almost all wings reported in. Losses were extraordinarily light considering we had engaged a full Nomad battle fleet. Kudos for the element of surprise. A master stroke by TBK.

"Dogs, Thor, trail the Nomads, make sure they scarper on home. I doubt they'll be in the mood for a fight anyway but stay out of range at any rate." TBK then added "Good job. Well done. See you back at the Rook."

"Roger that." Thor replied and I felt that pull of the jump hole ease my ship forward. Thor and I trailed the Nomads back through 41, Gamma, then watched them disappear into the Lower Unknown. 

"Right then. Let's get back. I heard something about doughnuts and beer..." Thor laughed.

"Race ya!" I chuckled and the two Eagles shot off back towards Omega 7 the the ready room of the Rook.


Post Script:

The train, under the skillful touch of the master raptor, and it's precious cargo, escaped unscathed.

Seven Order pilots were lost in the battle. Services were held for them aboard the Rook later that week.

Dispatches mentioned four Order Pilots and two were awarded medals for valor, one posthumously.

Six crew members of the Rook received commendations for bravery.

Thor managed to reach the doughnuts first.

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A Hunt for =|:BoD:|=

A Hunt for BoD

I find it hard to comprehend sometimes. The view. It's really... well... different. The polyplexiglass (God, I can even pronounce it) looks too clear to be even there. Logic says it is of course. Space would be a hard medium to exist in, especially in my present state, intoxicated, tired and unsuited, so I’m going to take a chance and think, yere, it’s really there. But that view. Rocks mainly, drifting past the large viewing windows of the station bar, aimlessly. My eyes follow one as it spins casually anticlockwise, bumping up hard against one of the several trailing arms of the station and spinning away into the main group again, to become lost in the crowd. Behind those amazing, floating blocks of dirt, streaks of gold, of reds and yellows, big blobs of blue, topaz and aqua tinged with silver dot the far fields of space. Black sections dotted with a million stars, clouds of gas, swirling against a dark green nebula, an assault on the eyes, an assault on the senses. How can such beauty exist here, in the cold vacuum of nothingness. Incomprehensible!

Freeport 2, a Zoner’s anomaly, naming all their stations Free. Free of what exactly? The law? Out here? Hardly. Free from tax maybe, or free from interference. Damn, I’d like some of that myself. Where was I, my mind wanders somewhat anyway, let alone when it’s full of alcohol. There you go. Free, free from alcohol! *darn tootin' it! There I go again. Mind wandering. Where was I?... Oh yere, watching the view from Freeport 2. Hey, poetry. Well, it rhymed at any rate. Maybe I can form it up into a song. Yere, a verse or two then a chorus of “Watching the view from Freeport 2”. Oh dear, Bartender! a drink please.

A full month had passed since my first tentative steps into space. Life had been so much simpler before space travel came along. Now I was hooked, a space junky. I mean, look at it! All awhirl all the time, no stopping, no resting. From the continuous, never ending spirals of passing asteroids to the huge, gravity eating wells of those big black holes of nothingness, space was alive. Moving! Whoa, moving, oh no, do I need a bucket? 

I looked about the almost deserted bar in nervous haste but found nothing. The action dispelled the thought. No, a bucket was not necessary after all. I wiped the sweat from my brow with the dirty sleeve of my uniform and poured the last of my drink down an almost gagging throat. I stood rather tentatively, checked to see if the gravity was going to hold me there, saw that it was, and began a rather slow shuffle, sort of walk, half crawl thing towards the nearest exit. Luckily for me the bar was there and held me up somewhat. Luckily for the bar my stomach had calmed down quite well and I didn’t feel the need to deposit all my drinks back there.

I made my ship, I remember that bit ok. All those winding, twisting, not quite still corridors that went on forever. Every docked numbered the same. I remember working out that I was in Dock 3. Dock 3 was on Deck 4. Deck 4 led to Deck 8, then onto Deck 5. Huh? Hey, there’s the door to another Dock 3. Good. Let me see. Nope, key does not fit. Must be another Dock 3. Lets try Deck 2 over there. Yep, I was right. Here’s another Dock 3. Funny, key does not work? Oh, ha! That’s my ship key. Lets try this one. Hey, it opens. Good. There was my ship. I remember closing the hatch and finding my bunk. Funny thing memory. It can be there sometimes, and, well, at other times it can be somewhere else. I awoke to see stars drifting by my small port hole. Stars aye. Strange that. I rolled over in my bunk, turning a shoulder to the stars. My head hurt. Stars. Stars!

Whoa. Hang on. Full realization came to me quickly. I muttered a few expletives, almost jumped from my bunk and stared dumbfounded out the port hole. Sure enough. Stars circled slowly, a few rocks drifted by, a station was visible way over there, about 5 k’s away. It looked like Freeport 2. Oh great. I was adrift. 

I clambered from my bunk, squeezed myself from the sleeping cubicle into the cockpit of my CTE-6000 Eagle, hastily threw a few switches bringing the ship to life and engaged the cruise engine. I swung the ship about and darted back towards Freeport 2. How in the 9 hells of Karanos did I get out here? *darn tootin'. I checked the log. It had my departure put some 5 hours previously. What the.., I had drifted aimlessly in space for almost 5 hours. Fearing the worst I quickly ran a full systems check but hull integrity, shield power, weapons and fuel were all ok. Luckily nothing had hit me at all. No asteroid, no ships, nothing. 

As the Eagle eased into the dock of Freeport 2 I deemed it time to either stop drinking, see a psychiatrist or stop sleeping. Yere, I know, not sleeping did seem the most logical thing to do.

After having the station services go over the ship and refitting lost nanos and bots, I set out once again. I swung left and entered the trade lane, that strange set of hoops that were strung up between planets and bases like Christmas lights across a pine tree. They lifted my ships speed up beyond the ability of the gauges to read and I shot off towards the Hamburg System. I had come far in my little quest, already having crossed several systems from California Minor, my new home since Mojave had closed it’s bases after the second bout of killer sand storms. 

My destination was Sigma 19 and a rendezvous with as many BoD ships as I could find. The Bringers of Death had haunted my dreams and clogged my senses now for the past 2 weeks. They were a merciless band of brigands who looted and destroyed all before them, sometimes for no more reason then the relief of boredom. Antisocial and xenophobic to the extreme they had a fear of, and a hatred for, all other clans and fliers in Sirius, particularly if you happened to be smaller or perceived to be weaker then them. All in all, a nasty piece of work.

Somewhere up ahead, in Sigma 19, lay my destiny. Revenge would be mine. Honour would be returned. Things would be set to right. I tightened my grip on the control arms, steeled my reserve, narrowed my focus, noticed the ‘blip’ on the radar…

The blip on the radar grew nearer. I strained my eyes for a visual confirmation of what the radar was telling me but was unable to make it out at this distance. I wouldn’t have to worry about it for to long it would seem, as the blip closed in on my position. I exited the trade lane and there it was. Just to my right. An Assassin ship. I noted the name emblazoned on the hull. Magnetic. My radio crackled to life.

“Greets TwoDogs. What brings you [bass] to these parts?” He shot me a friendly wave as I shot past his position. His ship lay motionless, waiting for an entry to the jump gate through to Hamburg, and points beyond. Ahead of me, a large cargo train was slowly, oh so slowly, attempting to dock with the gate.

“Ahoy Magnetic. Nice to see you. Perhaps I could ask the same question.” My cheery wave in return visibly relaxed the Assassin pilot.

“Yere you could, but I wouldn’t answer you – lol” and I heard his chuckle fade away as the jump gate engaged and his fighter vanished into that artificial wormhole generated by the jump gate. I followed shortly after. I felt the ship jerk forward, that queasy gut wrenching moment as the ship was twisted out of normal space and shot forward into the bright spirals of the wormhole. Momentarily blinded by the flash of the crossover point I rubbed my eyes to clear them and attempted to refocus. 

My ship popped out into normal space beside the jump gate that held the Hamburg end of the wormhole to Bering. Before me a battle supreme was underway. Four Tradelink ships were desperately trying to bring down the lone assassin Magnetic. I sat dumbfounded at the skill and seeming ease that the Assassin evaded, dodged and blasted his way about the clear zone between the jump gate and the trade lane entrance. The Tradelink ships one by one winked out of existence until all that remained were Magnetic’s ship and mine. Mental note to self: get better! Much better!

He yelled a deep throated laugh through my earphones and, connecting with the trade lane, shot off towards the distant planet of Hamburg. I followed at a slower pace, my mind filled with the maneuvers, the pace, the aiming. I ran the whole sequence of events over again. I didn’t understand half of what that pilot had just done. I dropped out of the trade lane into the Hamburg planet area and docked with the planet. I needed a drink.

The bar was full. I caught it just as the night shift was coming off duty. I managed to get to a corner of the bar, order a drink and make my way to a booth. I let the noise wash over me and it fell to a low murmur in my head as I sat and watched the ice slowly melt, my drink untouched. Those moves, that timing. How did an Eagle move like that? 

Right! Time for action. I left the still full glass on the table, elbowed my way to the exit and made for my ship. What I needed here was training, hard, fast and relentless training. I hailed a cab and it deposited me before the hangers housing my Eagle. As I checked her over for any thing out of the ordinary it occurred to me that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. What was out of the ordinary anyway? I ran a hand down the wingtip, admiring the sleek lines, the hard creases and the deadly guns. Deadly guns. I now wondered at this. My guns certainly did nothing like the damage that Magnetic’s guns had caused. I need to do a complete refit obviously, but with what? 

Ok. Enough. I knew what I needed to do, even if I didn’t know how. I made my cockpit, almost subconsciously ran through the checklist to bring her to life and disengaged the suspension dock. I twisted the Eagle on her tail and shot out and away from Hamburg. I pointed the ship back the way I had just come. My destiny, my meeting with BoD, will just have to wait. I knew what I wanted and I knew just the guy to give it to me. I checked my active pilot logs and, sure enough, there he was. I flicked the intercom on and hailed him.

Left!!! No, no, no, right!! Up, go up…what? Oh no. There he goes. Another ball of molten metal, slowly dissipating, reduced to it’s barest components. I watched as the blip dropped off my radar. Out there, in the real space, a ship had ceased to exist. Maybe the pilot had ejected in time, maybe he had not. I did a quick scan, noted a tractor beam lick out and pick up something, saw the three remaining Outcast Sabres engage their cruise engines and vanish rapidly into the murk of the nebula. I hoped, I suppose, more then believed, that the Outlaw beamed up his fallen comrade and not just a floating piece of cargo before he departed.

“That’s not how you do it.” Thor shook his head in dismay. When would those Outcasts ever learn? Send boys to do a man’s job. He swung his ship back towards where I drifted in my Eagle, my nerves strung tight, my knees numb and my mouth dry from the rush of adrenalin. He shot a Wasp disruptor into my ship waking me from my stupor, the explosion washing over the ship, killing the cruise engine generator for a few seconds. It was off at any rate but the intention behind the shot was obvious.

“Wake up! Stay alert at all times. Do not assume space is empty just because your scanners are empty. Understand!” Thor admonished. I blinked away my daydream and grasped the controls. A little too tightly. My ship lurched to the left, inadvertently dropped a counter measure and sent a mine tumbling out towards Thor’s ship. A blue stream of death flicked out from Thor’s ship, destroying the mine before it could begin to track towards him. He chuckled, shook his head and lit up his cruise engines. I dropped onto his wing as he reached peak cruising speed and together we began the long flight towards distant Freeport 10. 

I had caught up with [bass]Thor at the jump hole to Tau23 and requested some training. He happily agreed but needed to complete a mission first. I tagged along, no idea what he was up to and no intention of asking. If he volunteered the info, good, if not, well, that was ok to. I was here to learn how to fly these things, I mean, really fly these things. I knew [bass] were involved in some major play in Sirius at the moment but as I was only a relatively fresh newcomer, I was out of the loop until my probationary period was up. This was fine by me. There was an unbelievable amount to information to digest as it was without adding more to it. Like the sky here for instance… hmmm, not sky, it’s space. The space here was blue and white. It was relatively uncluttered. It was strange. Freeport 10 hung in space like a tethered balloon. Space was about as clear as “clear” could get. 

I sat in the station bar watching the nothingness outside while Thor took care of whatever the business was he was taking care of. Way out there, far off in space sat two large glowing orbs. I knew these to be suns, but what strange suns they were. They actually seem to touch each other. Probably a trick of the angle and the distance but they certainly seemed joined. Surrounding each sun, rotating in a never ending race, lay a asteroid field. It rotated in a huge figure eight about each sun, small rocks the size of my fist seem to make up the bulk of it. How could I could see that from here? It was like space itself acted similarly to a magnifying lens, bringing distant objects closer? I gave up trying to work it all out. It was simply beyond the mind stretch of a guy who only just a month ago was leading a war party across a sandy plain and wielding a sword to decapitate a rebel murderer.

Tearing my eyes away from the scene outside I casually took in some of the patrons of this Freeport. Some were a bit disheveled, dirty, weary while some were the exact opposite, neat, tidy, clean. To one side of the long bar sat a lone man, taller than most I had met, heavy set too. He glanced in my direction, gave me a slight head nod in greeting as our eyes met, and turned back to his drink. Now I really was seeing things. Those eyes seemed to be rather odd. Seemed to flash a brilliant blue, if only for a split second, but I was sure they did. Hmmm, time for sleep I think. I left my drink still full on the table and made for my ship. I’ll catch 40 winks. That’ll fix me. I didn’t notice it at the time but the drink I had left on the table in Freeport 10 wasn’t the only drink I had left behind untouched. I didn’t occur to me at all that I hadn’t had an alcoholic drink since Freeport 2.

Since losing the one true friend a man finds in his life, alcohol and loneliness had basically been my only companions. A wise man told me not long ago that one day my spirit would rise up and cast off the shackles that were binding me. I laughed at him at the time, raised a bottle in salute and gulped the entire contents down in one go. I let a resounding burp erupt into his face, commented on his stupidity and marched out. I was as drunk as a drunk could be the first time I flew an Eagle. I bumped into a few things but soon learnt that the ship was tough, it could take it, just avoid planets and suns, no problem. Lots of people told me often things like “Watch what you’re shooting at Freelancer” and “Verify your target. That’s me you’re shooting at!” and other stuff like that. 

I vaguely recall taking a shipment of fine wines somewhere, for somebody, once. Can’t recall actually getting where I was supposed to go but I do recall that is was a nice drop. I gave up doing cargo runs after that. Not much profit in it. Besides, Eagles didn’t hold a whole lot of cargo. I also remember celebrating my first bad guy kill. Some poor shmuck in a clapped out Dagger came at me from out of the sun, guns blasting away. I actually stopped and looked up the manual, found the right page, dropped my thumbs onto the gun triggers, and blew the poor bastard to bits. My shields weren’t even dented. Hey, look at that. Woot! Back to base, back to the bar, bourbons all round barkeep!

A loud banging on the hatch of my Eagle woke me from my reverie. Thor looked up towards the cockpit and gave a friendly wave.

“You want to get going now?” He yelled. I nodded in reply and set about readying the ship for takeoff. Thor clambered aboard his fighter in a few short, well practiced moves, got it lit up and made for the exit dock before I had the engine running. We emerged into space almost side be side and Thor swung his fighter away from the station and out towards the distant jump hole back to Tau23. I jerked my ship about and hastily and clumsily mangled the controls and got up beside him. He seemed to be a part of the machine, each move smooth, controlled and executed with the minimum amount of effort. Yep, I have a long way to go. 

“Let’s get to safer space and then we’ll do a little practice.” He smiled, gave a thumbs up signal and we shot forward into cruise speed.

The Eagle is very limited in it’s movements, especially since it boasts to be the most maneuverable of Sirius’s heavy fighters. Working in the vacuum of space and having an almost unlimited amount of area in which to maneuver, one would expect the Eagle to literally act like a thoroughbred stallion given it’s head in a paddock of brood mares. Alas, this is not the case. The Eagle is sluggish, underpowered and, surprisingly, unable to do a simple roll turn or even bank left or right. It was pretty useless as far as fighters went. Or so I thought.

Enter the skilled pilot. An hour of “simple” flight training from Thor had me twisting that Eagle sideways in the blink of an eye. It tumbled, span, rolled and flipped in seemingly impossible directions, all with the gentle press of a finger or thumb on a control button. Sensitive, light to the touch, the control buttons on the main board of the Eagle had looked simple enough, but through knowledge and practice I found they had come alive, the Eagle finally responding like a stallion. Fingers played across the keyboard of the controls, an engine kill, swift swing left, engines ignited and thrust resumed, gone, all in the blink of an eye. I started my first tentative steps towards real combat.

“Well, you’re getting the hang of that. Let’s try hitting something while you are doing all of that ‘out of control’ flying there.” Thor laughed as he swung his fighter towards me. I lined the crosshairs on my guns up with his ship and let loose a burst. He wasn’t there, my shots disappearing into the distance. I swung about and tried again. Again he simply darted across my screen and I missed everything.

“Slow down, take your time. Ease into the shot. Come, try again.” And try again I did, and miss again I did, and again, and again. *darn tootin' it. This is hard. Like trying to hit a gazelle with a short bow. Yere. Hang on. It really was just like that. I could do that with my eyes shut. Yere, in your dreams, I grinned wryly to myself. Ok, let’s try. Thor the gazelle, blasters the short bow. There he is. Aim, lead the shot, follow the drift, compensate the angle, lead, shoot!. Wham, full broadside. I got him! Swing around on the spot, thrusters go, crosshairs in front, leading him, leading him…, shoot! Wham. YES! I gave a yell of enthusiasm and swung about again. I swung the gun sights to intercept him but this time he wasn’t there at all.

I immediately swung back to my left but he wasn’t there either. I began to climb when I found him, or rather, he found me. A full broadside knocked my shields all the way down and most of the red of my hull armor disappeared. He chuckled an apology and darted away.

“Come, let’s do it again. This time, I want you to turn just before I get to you, not after I’ve gone past. That’s how you lost track of me.” I did as instructed and soon I was holding him steady in my sights for most of the time, hitting him most of the time, getting hit less often, dodging better, turning better, shooting better. It was exactly what I was hoping for.

Soon, all to soon, Thor had to return to his mission and I was left to assimilate all that I had been shown. He gave a cheery wave goodbye as he departed and I thanked him for all that he had done. As time hurried by, I learnt how to make the Eagle fairly dance across space. I lined up distance small asteroids, blasting them from space as they came into range, the Eagle flicking about madly like a leave in a gale. Every rock that presented itself a target I blasted, a blink, a flit of debris, finger down, rock destroyed. 

Joy, oh joy of joy’s, I was pounced upon by a flight of Outcasts. I put my new found skills into play and they blinked out rapidly. I sat in awe for several minutes while the reality of it sunk in. I had just dispatched four Outcast Sabres in a few minutes where not long ago it would have taken me half an hour.

Okay, rocks and untrained, unenthusiastic criminal pilots were one thing, real, highly motivated and skilled pilots were another. Only time would tell if I would ever make the grade. One thing was sure though, I needed to practice against the real thing.

I took time fitting out my ship. I visited every port from Tau23 to New Berlin looking at what was available, what was “good”. My conclusion was not looking too good at all. Nothing available to the common merchant was sufficient to use on a top of the line fighter. What I had barely warmed up a shield on a real fighter and what you could buy was worse.

I checked out every passer by that came into scanner range. OSG tagged ships gave a friendly wave as they hauled their precious cargo inwards, towards New York and the planet Manhattan. The accompanying fighters, when there were any, looked nonplussed at being scanned and seemed a little edgy. I stopped the practice. Two Atreides tagged police Eagles casually looked me over as I entered New Tokyo space, gave a half hearted salute in my general direction and drifted off to scan some new comers.

By the time I reached the planet of New Tokyo I was pretty sure what I needed to arm the Eagle with. Nomad blasters, Cannonball missiles, Tizona del Cid shield destroyers and Ripper mines. Now all I had to do was find them. Ok, let’s see. Space was big. Planets were numerous, stations more so. 

“Greetings pilot. What’s happening?”. My radio crackled and roused me from my thoughts. The was voice distorted by distance, sounding oddly metallic. I glanced at the display consol, Prag_Matik. The name rang a bell but I couldn’t place it.

“Hello there.” I responded. By the readout I realized the message was coming from several systems away, closer in towards the central systems. 

“I see you are a new member of [bass]. Welcome aboard.” He said with a laugh. “I’m Fleg_Matik, of [bass] as well. Can I be of any assistance?”

“Well, pleasure to meet you” I smiled in response. What was that expression? Ask and ye shall receive. I needed info and here, a fellow member of my new clan, just pops up and says hello. “I need to outfit a new fighter. I am unsure exactly how to go about it. Can I ask for some info please?”

“Ask away. Always happy to render assistance. Better yet…” There was a slight pause, a ruffle of what sounded like papers being sorted, a scrapping of metal across metal (had no idea what that was?) and he continued on. “meet me at Fort Bush and I’ll show you how it’s all done.” And in a system, far away, a freighter stopped it’s headlong flight, swung about, and darted off towards the New York system.

“On my way.” I fairly beamed back. As my wife was wont to say, I fairly bubbled over in effervescent fervor, slobbered at the mouth a bit, did a bit of drooling and hit high gear towards Fort Bush.

Fleg_Matik proved to be quite well versed in the arts of space flight. Once in New York I purchased a new flier to begin my new fighter quest with. Just a simple, cheap Starflier. Fleg_Matik took me to a nearby station, manned by, shall we say, ‘questionable personages of ill repute’. Here I purchased a bribe. Not cheap, but once the bribe was distributed to the right people I suddenly found myself without an enemy in Sirius. Well, almost. It would seem money talks all languages.

Leading me onwards, we exited the New York system via a secret jump hole used by Junkers, Rogues and Xenos, and cruised up through the Colorado System. One moment of note, Fleg_Matik took time out to pass by another station of ‘ill repute’ not to buy or sell anything, but to ‘moon’ them. Where’s a camera when you need one. Big hairy posterior beaming in the starlight, mooning a Xeno base. I think the Xeno were to busy either shocked at the audacity or laughing themselves into a fit to do anything about it. I was luckily on autopilot at the time, hanging off his wing, otherwise I would have surely hit something from the laughter. My eyes were watering. Now here was a man after my own heart.

“Stick with me kid. I’ve been flying these systems of Sirius now for years.” Fleg_Matik stated rather matter of factly as we reached the Zoner base of Ames without further incident. Here another well placed bribe secured unmolested passage further into the outward systems. 

Upon reaching Ainu Depot in the Hokkaido System, Fleg_Matik looked about himself rather sheepishly. “er, oops!” He muttered. “Wrong system.”

Upon reaching Freeport 9 in the Omnicron Theta System, Fleg_Matik looked about himself with an air of confidence. “Yere, we’re here. Grab yourself an Eagle and we’ll set it up.” A half hour later found me kitted out with everything I needed, big blasters, big missiles, big mines and a big ego.

“Just let me at ‘em now.” I grinned and almost lovingly caressed the fine lines of the Eagle as she sat in the launch bay of Freeport 9. I ran a now more experienced eye over my ship, noted the graceful lines and slight ‘bird of prey’ sweep of it’s wings, the now deadly guns jutting from various mounts about her hull and the mine and countermeasures pods sitting full of their payloads. All I needed now was someone to deposit all of this fire power onto.

I thanked Fleg_Matik for all his assistance and his donation of the weapons. I promised I would pay him back 10 fold. I never quite got the opportunity to meet him in person, what with one thing or another, and I never got to work out what that metallic sound coming from my speakers every time we talked was either. On the long trip here an occasional chance to glimpse him through the view port of his Eagle usually met with a wing tip away or a change in direction. Anyway, I owed him big time and left him to his privacy. 

So, without further fanfare, I blasted off towards Sigma 19 and the BoD boys who waited there. Well, if I was going to need practice, may as well hunt the very thing I came here to do in the first place.

The hunt for BoD was back on!

There’s always reasons, excuses if you will, for war. Every side believes they are in the right, have a just cause, are battling evil. Each combatant tries to overcome fear, doubt, reason, tries to kill or be killed. Wars are fought, not for honour and glory, but for politics, the need for more. More power, more control, more wealth. The power brokers, the money men, the egomaniacs, it’s their war, controlled from afar, in the relative safety of their glass tower. Their gamble, wealth, power, control. It’s just us poor slobs at the sharp end of the stick that pay the ultimate price.

Rarely, very rarely, a truly just war comes along that really can be simply defined as good verses evil. In Sirius, as in all of mankind’s realms, war waged. A new force had invaded the already highly unstable and inflammatory systems of man. Blind Warriors, they called themselves. A previously unknown alien race supposedly awakened from centuries of slumber to defend Sirius, although to defend Sirius from what exactly, has not been truly determined. The only information available about the Blind Warriors is through their inevitable press releases, their feeble attempts to justify their existence and their even more feeble attempts to justify the mass slaughter of all who cross their path.

Asking no quarter, and receiving none, the Blind Warriors threw themselves against all they encountered, in sometimes desperate attempts to bring down their hated enemy. Those that stood in their way sometimes died a fiery death, but most of the time, skilled pilots destroyed the Blind Warriors en mass, for their intentions and their skill did not measure up to the reality of war.

It was shown, time and time again, that when the Blind Warriors met stiff resistance they fled. They were only content with the slaying of the innocent, the inexperienced, the defenseless, me.

No sooner had I entered Sigma 17 in pursuit of the BoD then I ran head long into a pair of Blind Warriors using the jump gate to Omnicron Theta. One was flying a Sabre, the other was oddly in a small, light fighter from New Tokyo designated a J7P-7Q Kusari Light Fighter, commonly dubbed the Drake by it’s pilots due to it’s swan like, swept back wing array. 

In battle, a single, slight incident can turn even the most desperate of situations. Here, a small, insignificant event kept me alive. The two Blind Warrior ships were already engaged with the jump gate and were only mere seconds from leaving as I popped into space right beside them. They reacted instinctively and disengaged from the jump gate to do battle with me as I scrambled to get my Eagle up to battle readiness. The event that saved me was the Sabre could not disengage quick enough and was drawn into the worm hole, leaving the Drake to face me alone. 

I hesitated, should I attack a seemingly inferior machine or allow it’s pilot to escape into the jump gate now that it’s escort had left? I shouldn’t have spent the time wondering. The Drake engaged me, missiles launched, guns ablaze, it darted in under my defenses before I could even react. It buzzed outward and back again before I could turn. In dismay I watched as my shields quickly fell into the red. I had underestimated the enemy greatly. I reacted as I had just been trained to do and fought the light fighter as I should have at the start. The pilot was good. He avoided my main attacks with skill and speed, obviously trying to stay alive until the Sabre returned. I figured I only had seconds left to me before that happened.

I held my turn longer than usual to try and gain a little distance on the darting, weaving Drake and managed to come about with him some 500 meters away instead of right on my tail. This time, little buzz box, no mercy. I lead him with the sights, opened up my guns and blew him to little dust molecules. As I passed through his dispersing cloud the Sabre reappeared on my screens. Here I made my second mistake.

The Sabre was directly ahead of me, stationary, obviously undocking with the worm hole, the pilot yet to gain full control of his ship. I was tempted to blow him to kingdom come but honour, pride, some sort of sense of rightness, or what ever, held my trigger fingers still. Pilots called it dock raping, shooting before the attacked could defend themselves. I wondered if the Blind Warrior would have offered me the same courtesy. I passed within a few meters of him as he gained control. He swung about and fired in the blink of an eye. My shields went full into the red as I struggled to come about and engage him.

He set off in pursuit of me as I dodged and swerved, dropped counter measures and basically tried to stay alive. It was not working. Ok, I needed to change my tactics. Up ahead lay a transport convoy of some six or seven ships. An idea formed. Back home we have a saying, the best form of defense is attack, the best form of attack is to get someone else to do it. I darted into the group, weaving about them as close as I could, my pursuer hot on my tail, his shots flashing about me. Sure enough, he hit one of the transports. It erupted in a ball of flame, sending the accompanying fighters scurrying to attack the Blind Warrior. 

He only took a few seconds to clear a path through them but that was all I needed. While his attention was focused on getting through the swarm of smaller fighters I swung up and out of the group, coming 180 degrees in my lift, hit my thrusters and charged in towards the Blind Warrior, letting loose everything I had, doing everything how I had been instructed. We hit each other full on. My shields were already almost non existent so they didn’t last long. His on the other hand were fully charged. My missile flew true, my shots hit home and my mine crashed blindingly against his side. Both fighters erupted in a searing ball of flame and dispersing energy. 

My escape pod activated. I floated in empty space. A voice crackled over the communicator. It was the Blind Warrior. He had jettisoned as I had and now also floated out there somewhere, the pod much to hard to see at even close distances.

“Rather suicidal of you wasn’t it?” He groaned.

“Yere, well. Not quite what I had in mind. Didn’t take into effect how mush area an exploding Sabre needs.” I chuckled.

“Bah!” I could almost see him scowl. I chuckled again. Nice to know I could get under his skin. His voice actually sounded oddly familiar but that may have simply been the fatigue.

An hour later a passing Dromadary freighter picked up my distress beacon and I was soon enjoying the comforts, albeit somewhat utilitarian, of the pilots hospitality. Coffee never tasted so good. 

The pilot dropped me off at Freeport 9 back in Omnicron Theta. I thanked him and headed off to the control room to organise a credit transfer to allow me to buy a new fighter. A message was waiting for me. A rather attractive young lass asked if I was who the name tag on my flight suit said I was. I said I thought so and she handed me a slip of paper. It simply read...

"TwoDogs. Report to bSS Rook asap - TBK"

The Black Knight scanned surrounding space through the large viewing screens, his back to me. He cut rather an imposingly figure, standing straight, hands clasped behind his back, the long, dimly lit room empty save him and I. His space garb looked, to all intents and purposes, like a old world knight's suit of armour. I surmised it to be made of metal but he carried the weight of it as if it were mere cotton. It was black of course. Well, a dark silver, almost black. Close enough.

He said to enter and be seated at the sound of the opening door but did not take his attention from the vast view before him. I dropped down into one of the vacant seats, weary from the long flight. I followed his gaze out the viewing windows and took in the splendor that was Sirius. 

“I am receiving some good reports about you TwoDogs.” The Black Knight’s voice carrying an air of command, his back still to me. “Some of my pilots say they are happy with your progress, that you may become an excellent pilot one day, with the fullness of time.” He turned his head slightly to half face me, a slight grin upon his lips. “Given we can afford the time, that is” and he chuckled as he turned his attention back to the view. All the features of his face except the mouth had remained hidden in the shadow coming from the lack of lighting at that end of the long room. He guarded his anonymity well. I could sense his eyes looking almost through me but could not make them out in the half light.

“There are several things that are using up our time at the moment. To say we are busy is an understatment. Time is rapidly becoming a luxury, a luxury we may not be able to afford, soon enough.” I shifted uncomfortably in my chair, my leg getting pins and needles from the fatigue. As I slowly rubbed some feeling back into it The Black Knight continued. “There is much at stake. The weight grows heavy but the burden must be borne.” He turned his head towards me again. Again I could only catch a glimpse of the lower portion of his face.

“I require you TwoDogs to do a service. It is a service I cannot spare anyone else to do. I believe it to be a service that will lift your warrior soul and bring great honour to yourself and to us.” I shot my head up and stared at him for a moment. “Have I piqued your curiosity TwoDogs?” He asked quietly and turned his attention back to the view. I caught a sly grin creep upon his face as my curiosity was indeed piqued. My manner betrayed me. I realized, well after the event of course, that he was using the very thing that I held most dear to lead me into accepting whatever assignment he was about to give me, before I’d even heard him out. 

“Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is two fold.

“Soon we will be in combat with a clan called the Death Knights. They distribute their forces in our direction, trying to obtain that which they cannot reach. In skirmishes they seem a worthy opponent. What they lack in number they make up for in enthusiasm, or maybe it’s fanaticism. Who can tell? I require more information on what they are about. I need this information to assimilate with what is currently known so I can then formulate strategies. 

“I do not require a spy TwoDogs, no insider is required here. We are a business clan, not a war clan. It may be well worth our while to negotiate rather than wage war. After all, everything has a price. 

“Secondly, I need to know more of these aliens known as the Blind Warriors and where, if anywhere, they fit into the bigger picture. I heard you had a run in with them. What light can you shed?” He stopped talking, taking me by surprise.

“Um, well, “ I stuttered, caught off guard, “Not a whole lot really. I bested two of them in a dogfight but lost my ship in the process.” I stopped rubbing my leg and thought back. “One thing though, the alien I talked with sounded familiar. I think I’ve heard his voice before.” I pondered on that for a few moments. The Black Knight allowed me time to think. He simply stood there, expressionless to me in the darkness of his anonymity, just waiting. I thought back but was unable to place where I had heard the voice. “No, sorry. I might come to me later.”

“Very well. See what you can find out and report back to me here 1700 hours, one week hence. That’s in bSS Rook time TwoDogs, not Mojave time... That is all. I look forward to your report.”

"I was planning on settling an old debt with a few BoD. May I also pursue that as well?" I almost half pleaded.

"Certainly. I would, however, expect your new assignment to take priority."

"No problem." One day, I thought wryly to myself, I'll actually meet up with those blasted BoD.

The room fell silent. I took this to be my cue to leave. 

I soon found myself once again within the familiar confines of my ship. I readied it for flight as I ran my assignment through my head again. The Eagle vibrated gently as it sat in the dock, it’s engines humming steadily, waiting for the command to unleash it’s full power. Some 5 minutes later I killed the engine and clambered out. The ship seemed to protest visibly and sink despondently back into the docking cradle beam.

I made for the bSS Rook’s library, and, after getting directions from a Petty Officer, finally stepped into the carpeted foyer. I found a booth, brought up a display on the computer terminal with a verbal command, and settled down for what I thought would be an extended stay.

“Computer Terminal three two four seven, this is TwoDogs. Get me every scrap of information you have on the Death Knights. Every bit. Do not leave anything out regardless of how trivial the mention. Understood?”

“Understood. All information pertaining to the Death Knights. Computing.” An elderly, matter of fact styled female voice emanated from the speaker. It sounded like it meant business and you had better believe it! The screen flashed a brilliant white, scrolled down several lines of text and proceeded to retrieve the requested data. I leant back in the chair and watched the text scroll past. It scrolled much to fast to read but occasionally I saw a word or two I recognized, place names mainly. I decided on grabbing a drink from the dispenser in the front foyer and made my way through the empty library to the machine.

“Schakla, lighted, conterred, strong.” I muttered, adding emphasis to the word ‘strong’. 

“Does not compute. Word unknown. Shack lah. Please advise?” The machine droned back at me in another, matter of fact, elderly female voice.

“Um, coffee, I think you call it here.” I groaned in frustration and leant my head forward onto the tall machine before me. 

“Repeat instruction please”

“Coffee, lighted, conterred, strong” I muttered.

“Does not compute. Word unknown, lie ted. Please advise”. 

I groaned again. What was the human word? Oh yere. “Coffee, milk, conterred, strong” I said again and sighed in exasperation.

“Does not compute. Word unknown. conterred. Please advise.” 

I looked at the machine and made a fist, waving it threateningly in it’s direction. I shook my head and tried to think of the human word for conterred. It finally came to me. “Look you bucket of bolts, make me a coffee, with some milk, sweet and strong, before I throw you out into space!”

“Affirmative.” It droned back and proceeded to make me a coffee. Luckily for it the coffee was rather good. I gave the machine a nasty sideways glance and returned to my booth, expecting it to be still in the process of looking up information. I was surprised, and a little disappointed to find it had finished already.

There wasn’t much to go on. The Death Knights were led by a human male calling himself Darkwolf. Darkwolf believes himself to be the reincarnated Knight Percival. He has gathered a select few about him and hold council at his round table in Dresden system.

Well, fat lot of good that is. Time to do some digging elsewhere. I finished my coffee, tossed the disposable cup into a nearby receptacle went to make for my ship. Time for a quick trip to Dresden.

I was halfway across the foyer when I bumped into her, literally. She was carrying a pile of papers, books and various woolen, furry, stuffed animal things, teddy bears I think they are called. Anyway, everything crashed about us as she fell heavily away from me. I reached out a quick hand and caught her around the waist before she hit the floor. 

We stood like that for a few seconds while I starred into her eyes. She smiled, sort of, and attempted to stand. I realized with a start what she was doing and quickly helped her to her feet. I mumbled an apology and began to pick up her belongings I had scattered about the foyer. She knelt and proceeded to pick up as well. I looked at her furtively, marveled at her dark, speckled red hair, her slender face, narrow neck, nice…er. Hmmm. Steady there mate. She caught me studying her and blushed a bright red. She smiled as she stood, crumpled everything she carried to under one arm and extended the other to shake hands.

“Hello” she muttered, almost inaudibly. I took her hand and shook it slowly, holding it perhaps a might longer then custom would dictate.

“TwoDogs” I croaked out, coughed to clear my throat, and said it again.

“Nice to meet you.” She fairly beamed. She stood only up to my chest, was slim of build, (and what a nice build it was), had petite hands and a couple of little freckles about her small nose. “My name is Khaz”

“Nice handle.” I said with as much casual coolness as I could muster. “And nice accessories to go with it” I muttered under my breath. Obviously not quietly enough for she blushed again.

“Can I have my hand back please?” She almost giggled. I watched her walk away, stared at the empty hall for another few minutes, caught myself finally and headed for my ship. What was I doing again? Oh yere…

My mind roamed freely, as it tends to do when there is little to occupy it, and soon found the woman I had met prior to leaving the Rook. Once there, it decided to stay for a while, and she occupied my thoughts for almost the entire trip, interspersed by the image of The Black Knight, our enigmatic leader. 

That was an interesting meeting to say the least. I had pondered on how it would eventually have come about. I first met The Black Knight in orbit about the planet of New London. We had struck up a friendly banter and he had invited me to apply to join Base and System Services as they were in need of personnel. I thought at the time, yere, cannon fodder. Also at the time, after an interesting time in Dublin sampling the local beverage, and adding a nice touch of Bourbon to it, I was inclined to say, “sure, why not”. Now he had a problem. I had turned a corner in my own life, had found a cause I could pursue, a purpose on which to focus. I didn’t feel like offering myself up as cannon fodder. I actually had the urge to prove myself, if only to my self.

If I was to be “instructed” to do [bass]’s bidding, then I would have to be convinced it was worthy. I would need to know there was a real man behind the name, not some automated program running a set of neurological positrons within a robot housing. My nature dictated I keep my friends close, my enemies closer, up front and in their face. It was a style of life I had grown up with. It was the way of the barbarian warrior. Sure, honor, prestige, a sense of right over wrong, all meant a great deal, but if I was to charge headlong into a fight I needed to be able to know I could trust the guy to my right, and the one to my left, and especially the one to the front, the one to follow.

The Black Knight needed his anonymity. It cloaked him in his need for protection. It hindered him in his need to personalise himself. I doubt very much indeed I would have followed a tin suit. I felt, more than saw, a real man behind the armour. A glimpse of a smile showed more of the man than a face to face handshake ever could have. The helmet, his helmet, sat to one side on the end of the table, not discarded, within easy arms reach if needed, but off his head. This showed trust, trust in a new man, trust in a warrior. I returned the trust as best I could and sat at the far end of the desk. I did not encroach into the dim light in which he stood. After our conversation I believed he had worked me well. To my mind, and complete satisfaction, he demonstrated he trusted me, he demonstrated his need to remain anonymous, he demonstrated his ability to lead and he demonstrated he understood me, understood the driving urge of the barbarian warrior. 

All of a sudden, without any warning or preamble, Khaz’s beautiful face interspersed my thoughts and I forgot about everything else for a few minutes. I think this could develop into a problem. The next time I’m back in the Rook I’d better do something about that. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat and got back to the business at hand.

The trip to Dresden was uneventful, in Sirius space travel terms. A couple of Red Hessian ships scanned me from afar but let me pass unmolested. My cargo bays were empty and I had a neutral rep (thanks again to Fleg Matik’s well placed bribes) so it was relatively pointless to attack me, especially seeing I was flying a well armed Eagle. The trade lane support rings shot by in rapid succession, the dull roar of them almost hypnotic in their rhythmic timing, the blue and white flash momentarily distorting the view. Each ring giving the ship a gentle push onto the next. 

For this trip I needed to be a bit less conspicuous so I painted out the [bass] emblem on my Eagle. Over that I painted Banzai Runner. It was from an event, from long ago, with a friend now lost. Back on my home planet a valley full of particularly nasty giant scorpions proved a worthy testing area for any would be warrior wanting to prove himself, or herself. A small, rank carcass was thrown out that would attract three or four scorpions and the warrior would basically take them on. On a drunken dare one night, my friend and I rubbed a rank, nausea inducing carcass over ourselves, tied a piece of it to our backs and proceeded to run the full length of the valley, and back, naked, with only a skinning knife for protection. With what seemed like the whole tribe looking on from the escarpment we were cheered and jeered as bets were made, won and lost, and we ran the valley. We survived, but only just. The phrase Banzai Runner was coined in tribute to it. I don’t think anyone else has tried it. So, this looked like an opportune moment to run the gauntlet again, so Banzai Runner it was.

Dresden sat at the ‘bottom’ of the Rheinland set of systems and was famous for it’s diamonds, cobalt mining and pirates. A brief history of the system scrolled across my terminal as I engaged the first trade lane ring. Up ahead the Death Knights home base lay somewhere, all I had to do was find it. Simple enough, I thought. There are only 4 bases listed in the system, and one of those was Red Hessian home base. I doubted the Death Knights would set up shop there, but, then again, you never know. I would leave it for last.

First stop, Bautzen Station, small, lightly manned, outpost of Kruger Minerals. It was a diamond mining facility, supporting several small mining ships slowly sifting through the seemingly never ending supply of asteroids that littered the area. As such, it was heavily guarded and I was met by no fewer then 4 Kruger Minerals Hawk heavy fighters. They gave me the once over, scanned me for contraband and let me pass. I wondered what they would have tried had I had something on board they didn’t like. A hawk is a good ship, and in the hands of a skilled pilot can cause a fair bit of damage but up against an Eagle, it was a little outclassed.

The base proved empty of Death Knights. The bar had no gossip at all on them, nor the machine shops, trading areas or command centre knew anything about them. It wasn’t a cover up. It was a sincere lack of any knowledge at all concerning them. Bautzen Station was a seldom used way stop. It sat on the main trade line but nothing much stopped there. All the talk centered around the sudden departure of the Freelancers United clan that had been the mainstay of the system for so long now, gone in the blink of an eye. No-one knew where, and no-one knew why.

Needing nothing from the station I cleared the dock, swung to the left and lined up the trade lane for my next stop, Pirna Border Station, oddly named I thought, as it certainly didn’t sit near any obvious borders. I reached it unmolested and lined up a docking bay. Space about the station was full of Police and Rheinland Military craft, weapon of choice, the Valkyrie heavy fighter. Although outgunned, it matched it fairly well toe to toe with the Red Hessians Sabre. 

I received the cursory cargo scan, waved good naturedly at the departing fighters and docked. As I clambered from my ship another Eagle entered the docking bay, it’s tough metal shields scarred and burnt, the shiny blue aura of it’s energy shields completely missing. I noted with some surprise the emblem it sported, [DK], the Death Knights. The pilot slowly climbed from the ship. Favouring an arm that was obviously injured he almost fell to the deck. He looked weary, spent. I reached across the short distance and offered him my hand to help him raise. He looked up at me through the visor of his helmet, his eyes questioning, but thankful. Yet another suit of armour. I was beginning to think these ships weren’t all they were advertised to be. All I wore was a worn out regulation Liberty Navy uniform I had picked up in a Navy disposal store on California Minor. Cost me all of 30 credits. Maybe I had better rethink my choice of wear.

“Thank you friend”. The tall man even sounded weary. “It’s been one hell of a day.”

I helped him to his feet. He stood at my height and was almost as big. His suit resembled yet again that of a medieval knight from old Earth. Unlike The Black Knight’s armour however, the face visor was not opaque and I could clearly see the man’s features. He winced as he lifted his other arm to shake my hand. His grip was still firm and strong.

“Darkwolf.” He introduced himself. “Some call me other things, but friends call me that.”

“TwoDogs” I replied, shaking his hand. He paused slightly, looked me in the eye, a smile began to slowly steal across his face. “Yes, it’s real.” I smiled back at him. What’s in a name? A full measure of easement, that’s what. A full measure of ‘you’ve got to be kidding’ will lull even the most deadly of enemies, comfort the most loyal of friends and ease introductions my way. He made to remove his helmet but his arm prevented that. I took hold of it with both hands and lifted it free of his head. It was light, hardly any weight to it at all. As he removed his gloves and we started towards the elevator up out of the hangers. 

I left him at the medical bay, told him I’d catch up with him another time, and left for the bar, not to drink, but to dig for information. He waved a cheery goodbye and thanked me again for the assistance. I made our parting sound as casual as I could and if we happened to meet again, it would not seem out of the ordinary. In this way I made it look like the man I most wanted to talk to in all of Sirius, was merely a casual acquaintance.

"Er...what's a fracus?" Rambler muttered through a cut lip and swollen cheek. A glancing blow had also torn his left temple a little but the blood streaming from the small head cut looked impressive.

"I think it's a small disagreement, like shouting and stuff." I groaned. The jaw ached and was hard to move. Some marks on the side of my chest would most likely develop into a few nice bruises later on. My mind tried to tell me something was amiss but it didn't register.

"Pfft. Thought so." Rambler complained and found it somewhat difficult to sit himself down onto the solitary bunk that constituted the sole furnishing of the small cell. He eventually managed it and eased his sore body into a prone position and commenced to count the pin holes in his eyelids. A soft snore soon emminated from the cell to my right and I grunted at the ease in which he'd managed to fall asleep. I could hardly move, let alone sleep.

"Lucky bastard." I muttered as I tried to ease myself onto my own bunk.

"Who's a lucky bastard?" The voice came from a cell further up the corridor and belonged to Grisha. He soon heard the low snoring of Rambler and added..."Pfft, yere. I see."

"Hey, do we get fed in here?" Came a low voice belonging to Praxis. He sounded like he was in the cell to my right. His voice lifted to a beefy yell ."Hey jailkeep, do we get dinner?"

A voice called from way down the hall to my left. "Pipe down in there. You've missed dinner. You'll have to wait for breakfast."

"Bugga" Praxis swore and I heard his bunk squeak as he flopped down into it. "I'm bloody starvin'." A few minutes later he added loudly. "What about a free vidcall. Don't we get a free vidcall? Can I order pizza?"

Both Grisha and I broke into laughter at the absurdity of it. 

* * *

I obviously managed to fall into a light sleep as time passed in a blink and I awoke to find an arguement taking place down the hall. The cell doors were opaque plexiglass but the walls were tough durobelium and not opaque in the slightest. But even so, I could easily identify who the protagonists were. Princess was tearing strips off Grisha.

"and the bill. Look at this...almost 2 million credits!!" and I heard her wave some paper about.

"yes but..." Grisha tried.

"Don't you 'but' me mister. Just what were you thinking?"

"Well, I wa..." 

"Don't give me any excuses. I'm fed up with having to clean up after you. You're not a kid anymore *darn tootin' it!"

"I know, but it's jus..."

"2 million credits!!"

"yes, but we..."

"2 million. And that's not counting the bail."

"I know Prin..."

"Which they have to fly a judge in special just to hear your case."

"Well, I dunno wha..."

"Do you know why thay have to fly a judge in special just to hear your case? Well, do you?"

"well, not exact..."

"Because the local judge is in the hospital."

"oh, ok, why is h..."

"Because one of you oafs put him there! One of you stupid idiots put the Judge of Freeport 2 in intensive care."

"oh, right, wel..."

"Don't care, don't want to hear it. I'll see you when the new judge arrives." and I listened to her stride up the corridor. She passed my cell, looked a little upset so I refrained from saying "hi" or anything. She muttered "2 million credits" as she exited the cell block.

In the silence that followed the only sound was Rambler's snoring. Praxis punctuated the moment with a resounding fart. I drifted off to sleep again.

* * *

A sharp pain in my side woke me. A hand, cool and soft, ran across my bruises. In my half awake state I flashed out my hand and grasped it as it crossed my chest. A woman's yelp woke me fully. I looked up into a pair of stunning hazel eyes and the familair face of Khaz. I smiled at the recognition. 

"Do you think you could let my hand go. It's going purple." She frowned.

"Oh, sorry." I blurted and she returned to dressing my wounds. I watched her try to wrap it around me and I eased myself up onto my elbow to allow her room to pass underneath me. "I thought you were a Librarian?" 

"I'm a woman of many talents Mr Dogs, and besides, the local Physician is in hospital at the moment and I happened to be in the station getting supplies." She wrapped a bandage tightly around my waist and pulled it even tighter..."Do you know why the local Physician is in Hospital at the moment Mr Dogs?"

"Er, no, and please, call me TD." I grunted as she wrapped another tight loop about me.

"It would seem he was called into a bar last night to render medical assistance and found himself in the middle of a wild brawl. Seems he couldn't get out of the way of a thrown chair quick enough. But I don't suppose you know anything about that do you Mr Dogs."

"Not exact...arrgghhh, that's rather tight don't you think?"

"Oh, a big tough bar room brawler like yourself should be able to take it.". 

She finally finished bandaging me up, cleaned the blood from my face, ran a bone density scanner over me, pronounced my bones not broken and made to leave. She stopped halfway to the door and turned her head back toward me. "Please take care not to damage anything else Mr Dogs. We do have a dinner date next week and I don't want find you, how shall we say, unable to meet my requirements." She flashed that award winning smile of hers, dropped a quick wink and left the cell. The jailkeep had the good grace to blush as he closed the plexiglass wall behind her.

I grinned like a school boy and eased myself back down onto the bunk. My eyes lidded over again...

* * *

"On your feet TwoDogs!"

I managed to struggle back into the land of the living and sat up on the bunk. Standing over me was the Freeport Commander. He was flanked by two guards and a subordinate officer. As I was obviously taking to long to stand, the two guards leant forward, grabbed a handfull of uniform, and pulled me up, none to gently. One of them tore off most of the top half of my battered old Liberty Navy uniform. He tossed it aside like a piece of dirty rag, which, in effect, it now was.

"Cheers." I muttered and half grinned a wry smile as I stood to attention as best I could. May as well try to make a proper impression. This was the base commander after all. Maybe I could swing a 'get out of jail free card' off him. I chuckled to myself again. Hang on, Freeport? Why is Dresden popping into my mind and why does it feel like it's important?

"I don't find this at all amusing Pilot." The Commander spoke with an authority not used to being ignored. I forgot my train of thought as he continued. "You bass guys make me sick. Think you own the place. This is a Zoners base mister, and don't you forget it. You may control the space lanes out there but in here, I'm the Boss." and he leant in so our noses were almost touching, "Comprende!" and he jabbed a finger heavily into my stomach.

He smelled of garlic and cheese, with a hint of wine. I was unsure just how long I'd been asleep for but it was enough time for my stomach to come to the realisation that it was none to well. In fact, it was pretty much dead in the water. It was fairly certain that it should not really be holding onto all of this hard to digest food while it felt like the inside of a washing machine. Too many bruises, to much pain, too much food. A catalyst was needed and too much garlic, too much cheese and way to much wine proved my undoing. If he had just refrained from poking me maybe things might have been different. My stomach had had enough. It emptied. I passed out. I do remember hearing some loud swearing and stuff but that's about it.

* * *

I awoke again in a nice, soft bed. I looked about through half closed eyes and realised I was in my cabin on the Rook. I had absolutely no idea how that had come about. A low voice hummed a soft ballad and I could make out Khaz sitting beside me. A cloth touched my forehead and wiped away the perspiration. 

"Hello TD." She smiled. "We have the poison under control and you should make a quick recovery."

"er...poison?" I muttered.

"Yes. And a goodly dose of it you got too. Someone tried to do you in. Would've killed any ordinary man but the Doc says your barbaric constitution was harder then your would-be killer had bargained on."

"What? I don't understand? Someone tried to kill me?"

"Yes. It was just unfortunate that you appeared to be drunk. Apparently one of the side effects. It wasn't until I was almost back aboard the Rook myself when I realised you no longer drank anything stronger then Sirius beer, and let's face it, you'd need to drink a Drom load of that to get drunk, being so, well, um, well versed in the art of drinking as you were.

"Anyway. I alerted Commander Matik and he retrieved you from the brig. That was 4 days ago. So, how do you feel now?"

"Sore. How did the other's fair?"

"Oh they're fine. They actually were drunk, and a bit disorderly. You were disordily too you know. You still have to face the Freeport Judge on that 'destruction of public property and causing a fracus' charge. What on earth caused that?"

"Dunno really. I had just walked into the bar I thought was in Dresden. Next thing I know Rambler came flying through the air at me. Oddest thing really. We picked ourselves up, I said something about 'WTF!', he muttered something about no-one calling his mother that and getting away with it and then I sorta forget the rest."

"Hmmmm. Well, we'll worry about that later. Right now though, lets get you clean. Now where did I put that sponge..." and I distinctly heard her giggle.

A thought once again flashed into my mind... Dresden... Darkwolf... something about a mission... but it was lost in the soft touch of an angel.

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Two Dogs' First Encounter with a Freelancer

TwoDogs first encounter with a Freelancer

Mojave brightened. The sun crept slowly westward, lighting the barren, windswept desert, pulling the long shadows toward it. TwoDogs put his hand to his brow to shield his eyes from the already hot sun. Another hour and it would almost be suicidal to continue the chase. TwoDogs could not see his quarry but could see where it had passed. Many footsteps marked the trail, a trail a child could follow. This irked him somewhat and caused him to pause in thought. 

He lead a small war party made up of hastily 4 days prior, brought together when news first came in of the raid on the outlying village. A massacre. Women, children, murdered, most while they slept. Most of the men had been away on the great hunt. The attack was obviously planned to coincide with this event. That made it all the more dreadful, for the slaying of innocents was condemned out of hand. No true warrior would even dream of carrying out such an atrocity. Then to add to the audacity of the raid, they carried off the younger women, sound in the knowledge that there would be little to no pursuit.

TwoDogs’ small band was made up of old men and young boys, those that could not make the journey to the hunting grounds. He alone stood as the only recognised warrior, his time being taken by the humdrum of politics, not the revelry and excitement of the hunt, his hand the only one strong enough to lift a war axe. Alone then, he set out to bring justice. He had travelled only a few meters when several of the old men took up their swords, their pikes, their staves, and hurried as best they could to drop into the long loping stride of the warrior, slightly behind him. He nodded in recognition of the noble deed to the nearest of them and, putting his head into the chase, stepped up the speed. The old men, who all once were warriors, fell into step, eased their breathing, carried their weapon upon their back, and followed.

The chase was now entering the third day. The old men, their hearts still stout, their minds still sharp, slowed him. Their bodies were simply not up to the constant pounding a long chase produced. So the pace was slower than was needed. They were closing the gap but it was taking much to long. TwoDogs realised that when they did finally catch up with their quarry, his party would be too weary to offer much of a fight. Most would fall quickly. He knew this, his men knew this, but still they pursued.

Most of the chase had been to the south but now it turned more eastward, towards the column of thick black smoke that hung from the sky like a giant finger, pointing to who knew what. The noise had been deafening. Something huge had fallen from the sky the night before, had fallen and hit, hard, shaking the very ground on which they had lay. At first light the tell tale smoke trail marked where whatever it was had come to a shattering stop. It was many kilometres to the east, perhaps a half days run. Their quarry had also noted this and had changed their direction, perhaps to investigate, perhaps to seek quick profit, perhaps to loot, whatever their reason, this now was the new course. And it was good. TwoDogs could cut across directly towards where their path was set, catching them much sooner that he had hoped. If he could increase the speed marginally he would have them within the hour.

He looked across at his ancient warriors and raised an eyebrow in question. They too had noted all that, knew what was expected of them, and to a man nodded their consent. TwoDogs nodded his appreciation and set forth instantly, dropping into the land devouring lope of the hunter, not the warrior. It would in all likely hood kill some of the older, lesser fit men of his party but none voiced concern, none complained, none faulted in their resolve, such was the nature of the desert clansman.

Surprisingly, only one man fell. TwoDogs knelt beside the fallen warrior, eased him into a sitting position against a small boulder, facing the east, the rising sun, the God of all life, and placed the man’s sword upon his chest. TwoDogs took a small container from his back pack, prised open the lid, placed his fingers into the white, sticky substance and then, placing his hand upon the fallen warrior, ran his war paint down his face in two straight lines, from his forehead to his chin, marking him for all to see as a warrior of the clan. If TwoDogs did not return, his body would be cared for with the respect it deserved. The dying man smiled up at him, thanked him for allowing him to die as a warrior, and slipped from this existence to the next.

TwoDogs took another dip of the white paint and ran it down his own face. He tossed the container to the nearest warrior who proceeded to do the same. Soon the small party were all adorned in the war colour, the colour of honour, the colour of the clan.

The chase resumed.

They were approaching a small knoll in the middle of a large basin between tall mesa’s, the ground clear save for a lone saltbush tenuously clinging to one side of it when an ear piecing scream cut the still midday air. The scream was cut short, but was soon joined by many, many more. Instantly TwoDogs realised what was happening. The raiding party were disposing of their captives, brutally. The pace quickened to an almost flat run as TwoDogs rounded the knoll. Before him was a picture that would haunt him all his days. Butchered girls littered the ground like discarded rag dolls, several more were running, screaming, in any direction available to them, to escape their killers. A loan, dead raider lay at the centre of the clearing, the ivory gleam of a dagger handle protruding from his back. Obviously one of the captive girls had taken exception to something and dispatched the raider with a cleverly concealed knife.

TwoDogs was upon them, axe slicing, chopping, singing. Then he was in amongst them, hack, parry, slice. Then out the other side, swinging left and right, the axe glistening in the sun, red flying, silver shining. His band of old warriors flung themselves head long into the fray, and such was the mind of the raiders occupied with killing defenceless girls, that many fell before they gathered their wits and began to fight back. By then it was too late, far too late, for TwoDogs came at them from behind now, and they fell. 

The raiding party consisted of over one hundred strongly bodied souls. TwoDogs party consisted of eight old men. The number soon began to tell. The old men began to fall, set upon by a dozen to one. TwoDogs fought the fight of the barbarian warrior, the blood lust up, the eyes glazed over, the head pounding, forward he stepped, close to his enemy, in their faces. And they fell, dead and dying, the axe seemingly unstoppable. The girls, small in statue and small in number, never the less, grabbed up weapons from the fallen and fought, fought for their lives.

But it was lost. No one man could hold so many. TwoDogs took his first step backwards as the number before him grew. Then another, and another, more parry now in his strokes then death dealing. He closed to one of the mesa sides and put rock to his back. This allowed him to concentrate forward now and he once again commenced his killing. He did not enjoy it, though he did not abhor it, he just did it. And he was one of the best at it.

He was joined shortly by two young girls, of maybe thirteen or fourteen, who both got in close under his swing and held off attackers coming in from his side. He knew it was lost. He knew this was his last stand but he was going to make it such a stand as the telling of it would echo across the land for years to come. Friend and foe alike would dip a head in respect at the feat of arms carried out this day, on this field.

It was true the story would be told over and over again, over countless campfires and in countless taverns, but it was not the story TwoDogs was thinking it would be. A light, bright, intense, held in a tight beam, horizontal to the land at waist high, cut across the battle field. Everything stopped. No one moved. No sound came from anywhere. Only TwoDogs and the two young girls remained standing.

“Thought you could use a hand.” Came a thin, raspy voice from behind the knoll. The voice carried pain. A tall, heavyset man, garbed in a dirty Rheinland Navy uniform, stepped from behind the knoll. He staggered forward and collapsed to the ground, a service laser pistol gripped in one hand. TwoDogs approached the man gingerly, unsure of what had just happened. He looked about him at the many, many dead this man had somehow dispatched in a few seconds, almost expecting them to spring back to life. The girls clung to his side, not as frightened fawns, but as coiled cobra’s, ready to defend themselves and their saviour in an instant.

TwoDogs stood over the man, nudged him with his boot and received a groan in response. He knelt, rolled the man over onto his back and the two eyed each other from only about half a meter. The fallen man was big, as big as TwoDogs himself, unshaven and obviously injured, although the nature of his injury was not readily apparent. He broke into a lopsided grin, his eyes lighting up slightly, even though they still showed some pain. TwoDogs returned the grin, he couldn’t help himself.

“Name’s Oddball.” He grunted, almost inaudibly, and lifted his hand in the universally recognised gesture of greeting. TwoDogs looked at the hand for some seconds, took a quick glance at the fallen enemy, shook his head in wonder and grasped the hand. 

“TwoDogs is what they call me.” He pulled Oddball to his feet. They were of an even height. Oddball cocked an eyebrow in quizzical surprise. “Yes, you heard right.” TwoDogs answered the unasked question.

“Right then.” Oddball saw the warrior, saw the defiant stance, saw the bloodied, well used battle axe, dented shield, young girls/tigers coiled at his side, and wisely refrained from further comment. Besides, after the large blast, his laser was fully discharged. It wouldn’t warm a piece of toast. He was beginning to ponder on what to say next when everything sort of faded to black.

Oddball awoke to the enticing smell of cooking meat. He noticed he was wrapped in what appeared to be large furs. The sun shone warmly upon him through the half open flap of what appeared to be a Tepee, a cone shaped tent made of tanned animal skins. 

"Great, I've been sucked through a black hole into the Last of the Mohegans..."

The sunshine was not hot so he guessed it was either early morning or late afternoon. The thin, crispness of the air told him it was morning. He prepared to wince in pain from his wounds as he began to ease himself up into a sitting position. Strangely though, the pain was quite subdued, almost nonexistent. He lifted the furs covering him to reveal large, clean bandages across his chest and one of his thighs. He also noticed with some alarm that he was missing his clothes.

The room suddenly brightened as the flap was thrown open and two elderly women entered the tent. One sat a bowl containing a clear liquid down by his left hand and keeling beside him, offered some pieces of cooked meat from another bowl she carried. The second woman busied herself to his right, her back to him. 

Well, the meat smelled really good. The liquid looked like water. The woman smiled an old, toothless grin and waved the morsel under his nose. Yere, it smelled exceedingly good. 

“You should eat Oddball.” TwoDogs commanded from just outside the flap of the tent. “It’s been eight days since you have eaten, that I know of at any rate.”

Oddball opened his mouth to say something back but a piece of meat was thrust fully into it, almost gagging him. He chewed. He liked. He was ravenous. The woman kept the pieces coming almost non stop. She offered the bowl and he drank, thank full that it was indeed water. As the feeding continued the old woman warmed to her task and she fairly cackled in glee. 

With the meal over, Oddball began to lay back down but was stopped by the second old crone. She had kept away but now began to fuss over his bandages. He tried to keep some sort semblance of dignity and tried to hold the furs down but the woman simply tossed them off him. He was about to protest but realised that she had probably seen him like this every day for the last week. She unwrapped his bandages, tended the deep cut across his chest and the hole in his thigh, dobbed some sort of gooey poultice on them and re-bandaged him, all without uttering a single word. He was surprised by the wounds. They hadn’t felt that severe. It looked like he was lucky to be alive.

Eventually he emerged into the day. He noted with some surprise that he was in a fairly large camp. Maybe upwards of a hundred tents dotted the grassy plain. A meandering, bubbling steam split the village in two and tall pines surrounded them on all sides. He estimated that several hundred people lived in this village and by the look of it all of them had come down to his tent by the stream to see him this morning. A wall of faces greeted him. And they were not too friendly looking either. In fact, some of the younger men looked like they were about to take his head off. 

He was dressed in a native garb of furs and skins, his laser pistol nowhere to be seen. The crowd pressed in, slowly, but inexorably. He went to take a step back but decided not to. He was not going to let them think he was afraid of a bunch of primitive savages. He was a fighter pilot. He had faced off more enemy fighters then most of these savages had seen mornings. 

“Bah, let’s get to it then.” He grunted and readied himself for the onslaught. Soon the crowd was within a couple of meters, totally encircling him. They slowed even more as they realised Oddball was not taking a backward step. But there were a few hundred of them and only one of him so they rushed. They charged in, several of the young men reaching him at the same time. He tried to throw a punch but was suddenly covered with torrents of ice cold water. Laughter erupted everywhere as more and more water was poured upon him. Oddball staggered under the weight and fell to the grassy ground. After what seemed like ages but was only a few minutes, the water stopped and the crowd meandered away, laughing and joking.

Oddball looked up into the sun as a shadow fell over him. TwoDogs offered him his hand and pulled Oddball to his feet. “You know, if you wanted me to clean up I could’ve just washed in the stream.” Oddball scowled.

“Yes, but this was more fun, and, in it’s way, a greeting to you. Welcome to the clan. You have been physically cleaned and tonight you will be spiritually cleaned.” TwoDog’s big grin had no defence and Oddball grinned in response. “And then tomorrow we will hunt.”

“Er, right.” Oddball shook his head in wonder. “Hunt what exactly?”

“Ay? What? Well, whatever. There’s always something to hunt.” And TwoDogs chuckled as he turned and walked away. “Come Oddball. Let me show you around.”

“Can I at least get something dry on? These wet furs weight a ton.” 

TwoDogs kept walking, waved an arm airily about and two young girls dashed in with towels. They began to rub Oddball vigorously, knocking him about in their enthusiasm. He recognised them from the battle. They were the two young girls clinging to TwoDogs side. Fought like cornered tigers he remembered, though they couldn’t be more than twelve or thirteen years old he figured. This reminded him of other things as well. With the girls still rubbing him dry he hurried after TwoDogs. 

“What of the others? Were there any others to survive?” TwoDogs stopped at the words and turned to face him, his shoulders stooping, as if some huge weight had suddenly fell upon him.

“No. There were no others. All the men fell, as did all but these two girls.”

“I’m sorry.” Oddball muttered and dropped his gaze. “I tried to get there as fast as I could but there was a bit of a drop to where you were.”

TwoDogs looked at him, put a hand on his shoulder and spoke the longest speech he would ever make again in the long years the two men were to be firm friends. It was said this once, understood, and never spoken of again.

“Yere, I saw that. We followed your trail back to your strange craft. You came straight down almost fifty meters without stopping, such was your rush. You took a few trees and rocks with you, hence your wounds there. It was a mighty charge, worthy of a great telling, and I shall remember that deed always, for all of my days. For you are the reason I stand here today. I hold you as brother and warrior.”

TwoDogs turned and continued to walk. Oddball and the young girls followed.

“I carried you for two days return to our camp. Then I carried you another day to here, our summer home. Tahlia and Taylor, the young girls here, tended your wounds, kept you alive. Once here, I placed you in the care of the wicker women, medicine women, and returned to the battle ground. My warriors travelled with me. We collected our dead, returned and held the ceremony of passing two nights ago.

“We also bought back this…”

TwoDogs and Oddball topped a small rise. Below them stood Oddball’s stricken craft. TwoDogs was not to know then but he was soon to learn that before him lay, mostly in pieces, one of the greatest fighting craft ever to grace the space lanes of Sirius, the Eagle Fighter.

“And I retrieved this for you.” From his cloak he produced a leather wrapped bundle and handed Oddball his laser pistol. Oddball took it, looked up at TwoDogs, and recognised the gesture for what it was. One warrior was handing another warrior his weapon in friendship and total trust. The moment was not lost on him.

“At the end of the day, as the sun went, we placed a shrine of remembrance upon that knoll. We marked the spot for all the clans to see. There, on that site, passed a day of loss, a day of pain, but also there passed a day of glory, of battle fought and won. Great honor for the Clan. Great honor for me. But no greater honor than that won by you. It will be remembered.”

TwoDogs and Oddball stood looking down on the wrecked space craft, their minds each on their own thoughts. No words were spoken, no more were needed.

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

I wrote this story based on what I had put in the Neural Net in the other section. I sorta wanted to put into words how a indian/tauren warrior ended up flying an Eagle in Freelancer. This is the start of that story.

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Last Updated (Thursday, 29 July 2010 17:28)

 

Two Dogs' Neural Net

 

I'm going to have a crack at joining up 2 online games here   so bare with me please.

758AS: Born on a planet in the California system called Mojave, TwoDogs spent his youth nutured within the family of his tribe, the Tauren. Primitive and ignored, the Tauren followed a culture not dissimilar to that of the early American Indians, with their customs, religion and lifestyle. Contrary to popular belief and a lifelong ribbing, TwoDogs was named after a mythical beast of mythology who guarded the gates of hades which, although Greek in it's origins, had somehow become mixed into the lore of his tribe.

Mojave was basically separated into two main factions that battled for dominance. Growing up as a wild native warrior, TwoDogs soon distinguished himself as a resourceful, clever leader who carried the respect of both friend and foe alike. Succeeding his chieften father upon his death, TwoDogs lead his people to the safer climate of the north during the Great Sand Storms of 781AS that all but obliterated the southern half of the planet. The long hard suffering of that cataclysmic event brought all the tribes together under one banner with TwoDogs assuming the role of adviser and protector of LongWaddie, a firm but fair leader from the north who's bearing and quiet wisdom made him the natural leader.

789AS The chance meeting with a Freelancer pilot upon the Knoll of Rememberance changed not only his life but that of the entire planet. Obviously some quirk of fate had separated the two races. TwoDogs met a huge, greyhaired, weather beaten, larger than life character from the Stars who had found himself stranded on Mojave after crashlanding his ship. Taking a liking to village life the newcomer stayed with TwoDog's tribe for many years. The two became firm friends and shared many adventures, quests and beers together.

790AS TwoDogs and his friend from the stars introduced Mojave to the culture and expanse of Sirius. Both are prodigious story tellers of worth and their easy going, relaxed approach to life makes the inevitable meeting of the two cultures less damaging. TwoDogs works tirelessly to ensure a harmonious transition. Liberty is not without it's own resources and sends councillors, soldiers and settlers to assist in the intergration of the two cultures. Mojave soon bustles. Not all smooth sailing, some of the Tauren under Steelhand break from the union and move to the south, to escape what they see as the interlopers. They raid and plunder remote settlements for several months before TwoDogs and his band of warriors, led by GreySkull, his first lieutenant, can bring them to justice.

792AS The first flight school is set up, training students in Rhinos and Patroits.

795AS saw the establishment of LongWaddie University on Mojave and 4 years later the first graduates emerged.

803AS The Nomad Wars saw TwoDogs and his friend separated for long lengths of time as duty called to them both. TwoDogs led his people through many trials and tribulations, the good times and the bad. Many pilots from Mojave distinguished themselves in the conflict with a special squadran of Mojave patriot pilots established to keep the trade lanes of California open. Known as the Tauren Terror they spread fear amongst the Rogues and Lane Hackers, Junkers and Xenos with crime reaching an all time low. With the defeat of the Nomads the squadron was disbanded.

806AS brought the sad news of the fall of TwoDogs friend, lost to illness after surviving so many battles.

806AS TwoDogs receives his friends ships, charts, notes and his musings, left to him as a last token of sincere friendship. Taking the ship aloft for the first time was both nerve wracking and exhilarating. To pilot such a vessel was a steep learning curve but the notes and instructions left by his friend proved invaluable. TwoDogs proves a quick learner as he was well versed in combat and applying the tricks and tactics learnt on the dry hot plains and windswept mountains of Mojave, many outlaw vessels fall to his guns.

806AS TwoDogs chances upon a pilot by the name of The Black Knight and although the meeting was brief, TwoDogs recognises a kindred spirit. Consulting his notes he finds the following passage concerning The Black Knight and his clan.

"-[bass]- is quite good. They are neutral and seem to mainly play for fun. They own a couple of systems near where I spend most of my time and occassionally we meet. I have not had much contact with them but from conversations both including me and on open channel they seem quite genuine. A couple of characters of note are The Black Knight (TBK) and Fleg Matik (Fleggy). One word of warning though, avoid a 'flegging' at all costs - hahahaha"

806AS TwoDogs joins with [bass]. A new world awaits, the dawn of a new era beckons him forth...

806AS The second great sand storm wreaks havoc on all of Mojave. Scientists from Manhattan discover that the planet's axis has shifted 0.03 degreees, throwing the climate into permanent disarray. Although many want to build against the worsening conditions, simple economics determines mass evacuation of the entire populace is warranted.

806AS The entire population of Mojave is moved to New California. Many looters and criminals move into the abondoned cities, causing havoc on the nearby tradelanes as the criminal element now have a handy, albeit extremely dangerous, base from which to work from. Liberty Council vote to permanently remove the docking rings. Mojave is left to the elements and the memories of people like TwoDogs.

807AS TwoDogs has made a new home among the stars of Sirius and with his new found friends of clan bass and DracO he strives to bring a new order to a chaotic frontier. He has trwon off the shackles of the past and looks forward with purpose and determination.

When not out in space cleaning out vermin he spends his time in the bSS Rook, mixing with his clan, in the Rook's library mixing with Khaz and at California Minor mixing with his people.

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

TwoDogs is my World of Warcraft character and I hope to bring honour, trust and a bloody good sense of humour to [bass], honour being the single most important life force of the Tauren Warrior, along with crushing heads, splintering bones and tearing asunder all and sundry. Taurens are very susceptible to bad hair days. Oh, yere, we also tend to be rather bullish (no pun intended), brutish, prudish, and lots of other ish words (like squish and "yuck, what's this under my hoof??!!" ish). With those unfamiliar with Tauren Warriors they are about the size of 1 and a half Arnie Swartzeneagers.

RP Charactor:

If anyone would like to include the TwoDogs charactor in their stories he is primarily still a barbarian and still somewhat awed by the size of Sirius and the number of people there. He has an even temper, an easy disposition and is almost impossible to rile up (get angry). He is loyal to his clan, has a strict code of honor, ethics and morals. He no longer drinks alcohol to excess but will partake in the odd bourbon if in the company of boistrous pilots or warriors.

In quiet moments he will reflect on his life and that of his friends and is prone to become meloncollie if left alone to do this for to long. He will usually rouse himself from this state by going BoD hunting or doing a dumb dare, usually extremely dangerous.

His fighting style is up close, in your face, intimidatory, atypical of a barbarian. He has a deep, ingrain sence of invincibility, which is also a barbarian trait. He doesn't actually believe he cannot fail in a fight, he simply doesn't consider the possibility. He is not foolhardy though, but calculating and quick of wit and can measure a man, situation, battle, anything really, quite quickly.

That's TwoDogs. Barbarian Space Warrior.

 

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