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Author Topic: Ghost Stories Battletech AU (DIRTT)  (Read 1445 times)

wolfgar

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Ghost Stories Battletech AU (DIRTT)
« on: 10 May 2022, 22:06:08 »
Ghost Stories:

"Attention on deck," the class leader barked as the instructor walked into the classroom, causing the entire classroom to stand from their desks and snap to attention.



"At ease," the instructor growled, causing the class to relax. "For heaven's sake, take your seats," he snapped as he set his materials down on the podium. "I only get to have you for one bedamned class period, and in that time, we have to discuss the subject, assign the reading and explain the essay that I expect out of you." He continued. "We have to do all of this before the…gentlepeople from Intelligence and PsyOps so we really don't have the time for the usual courtesies." The class took their seats as he spoke, blinking at the irritation that the instructor was showing.



As he started to lay out his materials, the instructor plugged a tablet into the lectern, causing the projector at the rear of the room to light up and the lights in the room to dim slightly. An image of a warship appeared on the wall next to the instructor who asked a simple question. "Do any of you recognize this ship?" he asked as the single image went from a single overhead view to a side by side of what were apparently design schematics.



"Religion-class frigate," one of the Andurian students answered. "Probably a block one or two since it has naval lasers and the block three's mounted naval grade particle projection cannons."



"Very good," the instructor remarked as he keyed the tablet, bringing up a shot of the ship's nose while it sat in dock, the ship's name clear to any who bothered to look. The reaction throughout the class was not uniform. Several sucked in sharply, while others simply looked around at the reactions of their classmates. "This is the Religion II class ship 'Christian," the instructor said, looking at the class and judging for himself the reactions of his students. "Her only captain of record is one Jaime Dawson, Lieutenant Commander, Free Andurian Navy, from 2582 to 2591. Officially she was lost with all hands in the battle of Barbara's star on March 15, 2591, during the start of what would be the final battle of the Second Andurian Crisis."



"We call it the war of '94," one of the Andurian students said from the mass of students. "What you all call the Second Andurian Crisis, we call the wars of 82, 85, 90 and 94."



Another student snickered and leaned over to one of the Federated Suns officers, their whisper unheard by the instructor but causing the other officer to chuckle as well. "Calling it the Cappellan or Revolutionary pissing contest is not acceptable Subaltern," the instructor said addressing the two junior officers. "That being said, there are things that happened during the start of that battle, and the subsequent battles over that particular system that raise questions as to the actual fate of the Christian and her crew. Since then, there have been reports of sightings of the Christian, reports where, when someone is alone, and in need with no hope of help, the Christian has been reported to have appeared, and dealt with the threat, before disappearing again into nothingness."



One of the other students raised their hand and once acknowledged, asked, "Is that what we are going to be discussing in this class sir, Ghost Stories?"



The instructor looked at the student, who was wearing what looked to be the service khaki's of the Kowloon Republic Navy. "In a sense Ensign, yes, and in another, no," the instructor answered. "What we are about to discuss is the power of belief, especially when there are a handful of facts to lend some credence to the legend that allows it to build. The story of Captain Dawson's Christian just happens to be the most recent Black Navy instance of what is actually a fairly regular occurrence. Now," he continued, turning to one of the Andurian students. "If you would be so kind as to give us the relevant facts about Captain Dawson and his Christian."



"Captain Brevet Jaime Dawson;" The Ensign said, standing and reciting as if from memory. "Joined the Free Andurian movement during the riots of 2571 and was a courier of materials from that point until the revolution of 2582 when the Free Andurian Movement overthrew the sitting Capellan backed government and took the Cathay shipyards. Those shipyards held sixteen warships and four fleet colliers, all in for some sort of maintenance or crew replacement. Dawson was given a commission as a senior lieutenant and command of one of the four Religion II class frigates and sent with another to Ullieri as escorts for one of the colliers which had been hastily turned into a troop transport."



"Doctrine wise," the instructor interrupted, "the Religion class was meant to work in no less than pairs, but more often in foursomes, with that number of the ship consistently able to take down a single Town-class light cruiser. However, it was also considered a fair fight for them to face one four to one. Paired as they normally were, they were usually more than a match for Deity class destroyers, but their most common usage was in either subduing pirate dropships and fighters or acting as parts of a fleet's missile screen."



The Ensign nodded to this before continuing with her history lecture. "Dawson, his Christian and the crew would spend the rest of what is most  commonly known as the Second Andurian Crisis, fighting both the Liao's and the Marik's naval assets, at least up until the battle of Barbara's Sun."



"Excuse me," the Kowloon Ensign remarked, raising her hand. "But what or where is Barbara's Sun?"



"Barbara's Sun," the instructor answered, changing the image on the wall to a graphic close up of a thirty lightyear bubble around Andurian. "Is a G6V primary approximately fourteen light years from Andurian in a straight line towards Sigma Mare and Kasdach, that at the time was and still is usually used as a stopover for cargo carriers on their way between Andurian and Aomen which was being colonized at the time and needed resupply on a regular basis."



Ensign Liu nodded at that. "As of 2592 peace talks between the Andurian Free State, the Free Worlds League, and the Capellan Commonwealth were ongoing and in 2594 were supposed to meet again on Andurian to hopefully sign a peace agreement that would leave the Free State free to seek their own destiny. To show their amenability to peace, the Free State government sent their fleet out of the Andurian system for the duration of the peace talks. The Capellan government, of course, had no intention of allowing what they considered to be a break-away province to leave peacefully."



"While the peace talks stalled on Andurian," the instructor took up, waving for the ensign to sit. "Two Town-class, four Deity-class and one Religion II-class ships were sent to the system of Barbara's Sun to wait for the end of the talks. While there, they decided to run a series of exercises to keep themselves sharp and the Christian was chosen to play the aggressor." The image behind the instructor changed again, this time showing the orbital layout of a system. "The system has two Class-Zero stations in it, one in polar orbit of the G6 star, and the other in orbit of the systems lone planet, a gas giant with two ice moons. The system, as you can see, has three debris belts, one between the star and the gas giant, and two more to the out-system side. The Christian's last transmission shows her position as having just cleared the outer debris belt, only to be caught by the arrival of three light cruisers, the Wuhan, the Xingfeng and the Hunan, all three Capellan flagged Town-class variants."



Suddenly the classroom was filled with the sound of a general quarters alert and the sound of a man's voice, "Cord this and prepare to send back it and our sensor data to the fleet in case this goes to shit."



"Recording captain," a woman's voice answered, and you could almost feel the curt nod of the man who had already spoken.



"Capellan ships," the man's voice said solidly. "This is the Free Andurian Navy ship Christian. You are in Andurian space unauthorized and unannounced, please state your intentions and prepare to be boarded to ensure your peaceful intentions."



"That was foolhardy," one of the Northwind students commented. "Ballsy as hell, but foolhardy, he should have simply jumped back to his fleet, or else boosted back into the debris field."



"He couldn't," Ensign Liu replied. "He had too much velocity to do either and his only real choice was to either surrender, which as you are about to see wasn't an option or charge them headlong."



"Bullshit," a Federated Sun's Subaltern replied. "The Capellans may be bastards, and a pain in the arse, but they will at least take prisoners."



"Now maybe," the other Andurian student remarked. "But during the war of 94, they were very much no prisoners, no quarter, and scorched earth whenever they had to retreat on the ground. They are the reason that the survivors of Kasdach had to be evacuated to Sigma Mare and that planet is still a no go zone."



"Ensign Park is correct," the instructor interjected. "It was during the war of 94, as the Andurians call it, that Kasdach, when the local government realized that they would not be able to hold it, attempted to use nuclear weapons and other orbital strikes against the invaders. Up until that point the first and second Andurian Mobile Expeditionary Units had only targeted military targets. From that point on they also targeted any government offices that they could reach. This continued even as their ships were used to evacuate as many civilians as they could reach. Continuing on though, if you will look at the projection you can see that the Christian was at least a full AU out from the sun, outnumbered and outgunned. We do know that she went down fighting, the aftermath of the Capellan ships proves that, however what happened to the Christian itself is what is in question, as her remains were never found."



The projection became animated, the same as would be shown in the after-action reviews of their simulations. "The records are from the wrecks of the Capellan ships," the instructor told them. "Hegemony technicians and systems were used to process and meld the three ships' sensor logs to show what happens here, up to a point." With that the battle seems to proceed in earnest the weapons of the cruisers hulling their target repeatedly, first in her engine spaces before moving further up the ship's hull. "Religion class ships were heavily armored but lightly armed," the instructor remarked as a series of explosions seemed to rip an entire section of armor plating out of one side. "But the Town-class ships in question had recently been upgraded in their weapons, trading their forward laser batteries for Particle Projection Cannons, which ripped through the Christian's armor like so much tissue paper." Suddenly the animation stopped, the various ships frozen where they sat. "That was the last image of the battle according to the sensors of the Wuhan, Xinfeng, and the Hunan," the instructor told them. "However, when the Andurian fleet arrivedto the scene, this is what they found.



An old video image, obviously from a space suit's helmet camera with its grainy resolution showed a shuttle's approach to a chunk of metal that bore the Chinese characters for the name Xinfeng, "First Lieutenant Michael Lo approaching the remains of the Capellan Light Cruiser Xinfeng," a male voice

sounded through the room. "I don't know what happened here, but currently there is no sign of Captain Dawson and the FAN Christian, hopefully the sensor logs haven't been damaged and we'll be able to find out what happened to these poor bastards and ours."



"Lieutenant," another voice broke into the recording. "Be aware that sensors are reporting a temperature spike consistent with an incoming jump signature. We might not be able to cover your shuttle while you're in there for very long."



"This is Major Cho," another, older voice replied. "Marine units will dismount and search the ships, Shuttle pilots will return to their ships until such time as the fight here is done. We'll take extra stores with us just in case it lasts longer than eight hours."



"Understood Major," a fourth voice answered. "Pilots, you heard the man, unload your troops to their respective destinations and get back to ship, ASAP."



Multiple voices replied in the affirmative and after a moment, the view from the shuttle became that of a docking port, followed by entry into the ship. "Jesus," an unknown man's voice commented as they penetrated into the ship to find it holed through to the core areas, suited and unsuited bodies and body parts floating everywhere. "What the hell did this?"



"Supposedly," the lieutenant answered, "a Religion-class frigate, but I don't buy it. Command this is Peregrine-Two, there's no way anyone survived this, we're going for the bridge."



"Understood, Peregrine-Two," the major's voice answered. "See if you can access the sensor logs there, Peregrine-One, you entered from the aft, clear engineering and see if you can get their command logs."



"Understood Hawk-Six," the lieutenant and another voice answered. "Right turn McMasters," the Lieutenant continued. "we're going straight to the bridge."



"Yes sir," a female voice replied and a suit in the foreground turned right down a corridor, only for the footage to freeze at that point.



"You can look up the rest of the clearing and recovery of the three cruisers on your own time if you want," the instructor said somberly. "There isn't anything there you haven't already seen here. Now, as noted the Christian was missing, and never found. Yet since then, there have been sightings of the ship, only one of which managed to be recorded on sensors."



The projection went from the stopped footage of the wrecked ships to a two panel still. On one side was a system map labeled "Nukus System" and the other held a dropship. "Meet the MV Hera's Dream, a Thirty-Five-thousand-ton aerodyne hulled bulk cargo ship built and worked in the Nukus system. Her job is, was, and will always be, hauling Titanium and Germanium ore from the zenith station to the KF-core manufacturing plant in the outer system there. As you can see, the system is an F1V, with three gas giants, multiple moons, and a large debris belt between the inner giant and the outer two. Because of the importance of the systems industry there is a fleet presence, however they are usually located either at the zenith station or at the drive core manufacturing plant. The fact that they usually jump between the two is a known thing in the area. This of course means that the interior of the system, which has one terraformed moon, is open for pirates to pass through undetected. Such was the case here when the Hera's Dream, having passed the debris field, was confronted by four "Pirates" who demanded she enter orbit of the system's second gas giant and stand by to be boarded."



"Why didn't they just go full boost and scream for help from the fleet?" One of the Lyran students asked.



"Because you can only go so fast before you are causing the micro-meteorites to punch through your hull, especially with a civilian freighter's hull," a student from the Draconis Combine pointed out. "Add to that I bet that while the freighter had a greater starting velocity, the pirates had a good intercept angle, higher thrust and heavier armor."



"You would be correct Chu-I," the instructor replied. "Four, Deity-class destroyers that had been stolen by the pirates of the Tortuga Dominions were coming out of the gas giant and one of its moon's radar shadows at full thrust. The Hera's Dream of course, did exactly as she was instructed and flipped to decelerate so that they could orbit the next planet and be boarded. Now, let us hear in their own words what happened. What you are about to see and hear are the amalgamated sensor logs of all five ships, and the bridge recorder of the Hera's Dream."



"Why can't we hear the bridge recorders of the pirate ships?" the Free World's Subaltern asked.



"Because they didn't survive the upcoming fight," the instructor commented flatly before starting the projector. On the wall, the image of the system became animated showing the position of all the planets as the ships moved through it while the voices of the bridge crew of the Hera's dream talked.



"Ma'am," a male voice said out of nowhere, in the classroom, the bottom of the screen showing the animated graphic identifying the voice as Jeffery Cao, helmsman of the Hera's Dream.



"I see them Jeff," a female voice, identified as Lina Fu, the 'Dream's' second mate answered. "Unknown vessels, this is the cargo ship Hera's Dream, bound for station alpha-nine. Please flash your transponders and state your intentions."



"What do you think is going to happen?" Jeff's voice asked even as the five ships moved through space, the message winging its way across the distance.



"I don't know…" she started just as something pinged in the background. "Message received," she muttered, and then a new voice filled the pickup.



"Greetings unarmed freighter," the new voice said with a distinctive lilt to its English. "This is the warship Kali, of the Tortuga Dominions. Flip about and decelerate along the course we are providing you, and we promise to leave you and your crew alive."



"What do we do ma'am," the helmsman's voice asked, panic starting to tinge his tone.



"Sound General Quarters," the second officer said, probably more calmly than she actually felt. "The computer is identifying them as four Deity class Destroyers, so we don't stand a chance in hell against them. This means that we do what they say, until the time we can get away."



The whoop of a civilian General Quarters alarm sounded in the background and the students could almost see the hard swallow and the nod of the helmsman as he spoke, "Understood ma'am."



At that point the graphic started fast forwarding through its time stamps, and the instructor spoke up. "This continued for the next three hours or so as the Hera's Dream decelerated to achieve the proscribed orbit around the third gas giant." Suddenly the graphic froze, showing the four warships only a small distance away from the freighter. All five were labeled, the warships being the Kali, the Quetzalcoatl, the Loviatar, and the Ares All had been slowly moving closer to one another, but this was when a new contact had appeared on the sensor logs. "This is when the new contact shows up," the instructor said, stating the obvious. "No transponder or IFF, and no idea where it came from with that much velocity, as this is the first time it shows up, well within the sensor envelope."



"Possibly stealth technology?" one of the students asked in the darkness of the classroom.



"I highly doubt that," the instructor answered as the graphic started moving again. "But just watch and you will see why."



"Captain," the second officer said, "New contact bearing 274 mark 40."



"I see her Miss Fu," what was obviously the captain's voice, an older woman by the name of Margaret Cho answered. "Thoughts Mister Kilpatrick?"



"Pirate dropship or shuttle probably," a male voice answered gruffly, the ticker identifying it as the first officer, a mister James Kilpatrick. "They probably have some hidden base around here somewhere."



"Velocity is wrong for that sir," the second officer responded. "And unless they put a hidden base on an asteroid in the debris field, the vector is wrong as well."



"You're not going to suggest that the fleet is actually out on patrol in the system," the captain remarked dryly.



"No ma'am," the second officer replied. "The signal is too small; this is at best a fighter patrol or maybe a frigate or corvette."



"You don't honestly think this is the outrider for some fleet patrol presence do you ma'am?" the first officer asked skeptically.



"I don't know," the captain answered. Suddenly the woman's tone changed from resigned to bloodthirsty as she continued. "Everyone get back into your space suits and prepare to pump us down to zero air," she snapped. "Helm, get ready to flip us and run like hell, full thrust maximum sustained velocity until its time to slow down to dock at the station. How long until the newcomer is in intercept range?" the captain asked.



"If they blow through them at their current velocity," the second officer answered, "ten minutes. "Time goes up from there depending on what maneuvering they do."



"Understood," the captain replied. "Everyone get ready, we'll need to be ready in nine minutes."



"Nothing happens for the next five minutes or so," the instructor said as the dots on the graphic get closer together. "Here, however, is where things get interesting."



With that said, the voices of the bridge crew of the Hera's Dream return, "Aspect change on the incoming ship, captain," the second officer snaps as the sensor perspective changes from that of a system map, to a close in shot of the ships in orbit. The students are transfixed, watching the graphic as they are absorbed by the audio. "Skew turn," the woman watching the sensors calls out. "She's going to cross their sterns close in."



"Aft docking camera on the main viewer," the captain snaps out and as one could figure that the main screen of the ship was filled with the view, the graphic scene splits to show the four pirates looming as a spot of red light hurdles in from the bottom of the screen.



"Second skew turn," the sensor officer calls out. "She's coming up right between them," she continued as a red haze seemed to fill the screen, bathing the identified ships as if in a bloody mist.



As the students watched, the incoming ship seemed to start corkscrewing through the enemy formation, even as six pairs of lasers seemed to fire as one. "Helm," the captain barked, "evasive maneuvers, exit course."



"Aye ma'am," the helmsman answered. "Full thrust in ten seconds," he finished even as the camera seemed to pan away and rotate off of the carnage that was just being released behind them.



"Number two," the captain snapped. "I want you to keep as much of an eye on that fight as possible. All hands, brace for full thrust."



"Aye ma'am," the second officer replied, shifting the camera's aim to keep the fight in frame, just in time to watch the smaller ship catch eight particle projection cannons from four different directions. Even then, the smaller ship seemed to shrug the blasts off even as its lasers parted the pirate's armor plating like a hot knife through warm butter. This lasted for about five more minutes as the Hera's Dream built velocity away from the scene until the point that the fight was nothing more than a pinprick of light in their camera.



At that point the both the graphic and the video stopped, and the lights in the room brightened. "The Hera's Dream made it to station Alpha nine, reporting the incident to the naval fleet presence there," the instructor told them. "The following is part of the second officer's debriefing."



"So we sent a pair of our frigates out to the gas giant to investigate your claims," a male voice said evenly as the students leaned towards the front of the room listening. "We even found the wreckage of the four destroyers that you said had waylaid your ship. All of that lines up with what we learned from your sensor logs, so that part is confirmed. Now, did anything else happen on your way to the station?"



"Well," the voice of the second officer replied. "We were about three hours clear of the fight, when my sensors picked up a ship seemingly in pursuit. It was shortly found to be the strange vessel, so we didn't exactly worry, but we maintained our velocity all the same. Just because they had bailed us out of that issue, didn't mean that they didn't want us or our cargo for themselves. But peaceably, they came up alongside us, matching velocity, so the captain has us turn on the portside docking camera so that we could get a look at our savior. At first the ship is hidden by that same red haze effect, but after a minute it fades, and then she rolls ship to show us her name. When she did, I think we all shat ourselves some."



"What do you mean?" the questioner asks.



"There were thirty big damn holes clean through her," the second officer answered. "Not new damage either but old damage, as well as a gash down one side of her that opened so many compartments to space that no one would have survived the hit, not even suited. And then, gods, then we could see her name, and," the second officer pauses for a moment before taking a deep breath and continuing. "She was one of the old Religion class ships, either a block one or two, and she was bearing the name 'Christian' on her forward hull."



"Dear God," the man's voice almost whispers. "What happened next?"



"We watched," she answered. "All of us, as bit by bit the ship faded out of existence, even as it flew along beside us it disappeared into nothing." One of the two of them let out a hard breath, and then the second officer chuckled mirthlessly. "Scared the ever-loving hell out of us, and I don't think any of us that saw that got a good night's sleep from that point until we made port here."



"I can…" the voice of the questioner is cut off sharply as the recording is stopped. "Now," the instructor said taking back their attention. "Your assigned reading is 'MacMillan's Missing: Stories of those that have been lost in action' and I want each of you to find one story in there other than that of the Dawson and write a five-thousand-word essay on the effects that encountering a similar situation that the ones detailed and described here would cause. Do not be afraid to reference other instances of the claims of those units showing up, I know that they are out there. But what you must convey is the effect, on both sides of the combatants, of facing down something out of history's shadows. It is the first of the month, I expect the results to be inside my inbox no later than the thirtieth." With that the tone detailing the end of the class period rang and the class stood while the instructor collected his equipment and walked out.
Wolf wins every fight but one, and in that one he dies, his fangs locked on the throat of his opponent.

cawest

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Re: Ghost Stories Battletech AU (DIRTT)
« Reply #1 on: 10 May 2022, 22:38:38 »
nice.  now you need a fury tank named chris

PsihoKekec

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Re: Ghost Stories Battletech AU (DIRTT)
« Reply #2 on: 11 May 2022, 00:09:19 »
Will we see some kind of hero next?
Shoot first, laugh later.

wolfgar

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Re: Ghost Stories Battletech AU (DIRTT)
« Reply #3 on: 11 May 2022, 19:32:17 »
not really @PsihoKekec, this was more of a one shot so that i could get the AU out there and somewhat noticed, i'm currently working my way through history economics and politics being rewritten so that i can fix that dreaded thing that has always driven BT fanfic writers crazy

FASAnomics

@cawest
I am completely missing the reference there
Wolf wins every fight but one, and in that one he dies, his fangs locked on the throat of his opponent.

BrokenLancer

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Re: Ghost Stories Battletech AU (DIRTT)
« Reply #4 on: 11 May 2022, 23:10:43 »
@wolfgar

As I recall, there was a movie made back in the day about a haunted/cursed Plymouth Fury named 'Christine'...

wolfgar

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Re: Ghost Stories Battletech AU (DIRTT)
« Reply #5 on: 12 May 2022, 18:52:16 »
hangs head
one R not two, damn it
was never really a fan of Mr. King, first and only one of his books that i ever read was Cujo, and as someone who has grown up with large breed dogs all my life, that one killed me. Never could get into anything else he did after that.

Also never knew what model car Christine was, and the only thing, even now looking at it that "Fury" in regards to a tank is concerned is that damned Brad Pitt movie where if i had been there i would have shot each of the bastards.

deep breath, in and out.
Wolf wins every fight but one, and in that one he dies, his fangs locked on the throat of his opponent.

DOC_Agren

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Re: Ghost Stories Battletech AU (DIRTT)
« Reply #6 on: 20 July 2022, 20:41:48 »
This was good
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

wolfgar

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Re: Ghost Stories Battletech AU (DIRTT)
« Reply #7 on: 15 October 2022, 18:58:12 »
got another similar story brewing. this time based on the Alabama song "The Borderline"
Wolf wins every fight but one, and in that one he dies, his fangs locked on the throat of his opponent.

Dreadpool

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Re: Ghost Stories Battletech AU (DIRTT)
« Reply #8 on: 16 October 2022, 01:20:10 »
hangs head
one R not two, damn it
was never really a fan of Mr. King, first and only one of his books that i ever read was Cujo, and as someone who has grown up with large breed dogs all my life, that one killed me. Never could get into anything else he did after that.

Also never knew what model car Christine was, and the only thing, even now looking at it that "Fury" in regards to a tank is concerned is that damned Brad Pitt movie where if i had been there i would have shot each of the bastards.

deep breath, in and out.
Christine was a 1958 Plymouth Fury...

Now, if the scenario involved a 1971 Lincoln Continental Mk-III with an unhealthy appetite for killing people in horrifically-brutal ways, I'd be VERY scared.

DOC_Agren

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Re: Ghost Stories Battletech AU (DIRTT)
« Reply #9 on: 16 October 2022, 22:57:56 »
Christine was a 1958 Plymouth Fury...
Well that because King must have heard the orginal story of Golden Eagle
being a local, we heard the legends of it but most of the times as a kid it looked like this tucked in the back of the property
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

wolfgar

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Re: Ghost Stories Battletech AU (DIRTT)
« Reply #10 on: 31 October 2022, 19:15:26 »
Little Boy Blue
A DIRTT AU
 
Kowloon, one of the many independent systems out on the edge of known space and one of the many sleeper colonies that the Alliance allowed to go out into the unknown to find a place they could call home well away from the core worlds of the Alliance. Their original core population was all from the southeast region of the continent of Asia and most thought that they were being sent out in ballistic ships to find their new home. None of them realized when they got there that the slow boat that they had been told they were going to take was a lie. That the Alliance, in either a fit of brilliance, or stupidity, (I still haven’t figured out which) sent them out on a cargomax freighter in cold-sleep before dumping them on the planet that had been chosen for them. Fifty thousand men, women and children, and something akin to 75 thousand tons of equipment put into building a colony out on the edge of forever, and then the jumpship just up and leaves them there, forgotten in the paper shuffle for a few hundred years.
 
Now you might be wondering why the Terran Alliance would do something like that, and the answer is arguably simple. The Kowloonese are some of the toughest bastards to ever have to fight or conquer. Everyone else sticks out like a sore thumb amongst them, and the biggest, most drastic insult in their culture is the word “Collaborator”. To call someone that is likely to either get you killed on the spot or start a blood feud that would make your NorAm cousins of the Hatfields and McCoys sit up and take notice, and notes. Because of this, and the fact that when the Second Soviet Civil War ended and the quite a few of the Eastern powers felt put out with the western dominance in the Alliance government, the Eastern Powers tended to use the people in that area as stalking horses to try and bleed the Western Alliance governments for their own benefits. This just pissed the locals off to the point they said screw it and asked the Alliance government for their own stake, FAR away from where the Chinese and other Eastern powers were being sent to set up their own shops. Not wanting to admit that all they were doing was putting the rebels on ice instead of sending them out in slow sleeper colony ships, the Alliance agreed, and ended up putting most of a whole generation of south-east Asians into cold storage as well. It wasn’t until the invention of the jump drive that they actually figured out what they were going to do with them.
 
That is all background history to this story though. The Kowloonese settled in and were left alone in their binary system and soon realized that the planet they were on was not as minerally rich as they would have liked. The system was out there for the taking though, and within a century the people there were already building space habitats and mining the minerals of the moons, exo-planets and asteroid belt. One of the exo-planets, while without an atmosphere, was able to provide a prominent anchor point with a solid one-G standard gravity so that the spacers could maintain their ability to stand under standard gravity. The planet was named Hatter, (the reason why is unknown) and habitats were built on, and into the surface of the planet.
 
Expansion like this doesn’t come without a cost, however. Early missions to space were fraught with danger, and even once they got past the point of chemical rockets to get out of the atmosphere of the planet, space as always was a stone-cold killer. When it comes to Hatter though, most people who went there, either to build the habitats, mine the minerals or live their lives, found the place to be a new home. Spacer crews would move their families there so that they didn’t only see them once or twice a year for a week at a time. It was in these early days, when things were moving fast and furious, that this story occurred. A freighter captain decided to move his wife and son to Hatter so that he could be around them more often. The wife was adult enough to understand the dangers this presented but also wanted more than just a week once or twice a year to spend with her husband, so they took their young son to Hatter. Wife and son received specific safety warnings upon arrival to ensure they understood the dangers of living in the habitat and were specifically told that they were to keep their emergency suits with them at all times if they were not wearing a proper space suit.
 
Now Safety Suits are not the construction suits that resemble the early space suits of the Apollo program, nor are they the sleek combat suits of Navy, Coast Guard or the Marine Corp, they are bright yellow or orange tubes that one either pulls down over one’s head, or up from their feet, seals, and waits for the rescue crew to come and get you. They are equipped with a rescue beacon and a radio along with their eight-hour air supply, but otherwise they have nothing to offer you as either comfort or excitement. The fact that they were being told to carry these things at all times discouraged the boy who had been expecting something fancier and after a few months of nothing but what he considered stupid drills he simply stopped carrying the thing with him unless he knew there was going to be a drill.
 
One day his mother caught him going out without his safety suit and stopped him, telling him that if he couldn’t be counted on to take his safety suit with him then he couldn’t go out to play with his friends. The two of them argued until finally the mother sent the boy to his room. Half an hour later though the boy snuck out, believing himself smarter and more knowing than his mother and went down the corridor to play with his friends. A game of hide and seek was declared and the boy was not it, so he slipped through a door into what he thought was a small room to hide. Shutting the door behind him he realized that he had walked into an airlock on the edge of the habitat, an airlock that was even then starting to depressurize. The boy panicked, beating on the door until anoxia robbed him of consciousness and the lack of pressure robbed him of his life. It wasn’t until hours later, when an outside work crew came into the already depressurized airlock that anyone knew what had happened.
 
Now most of you are going, what a tragedy, what a loss, how does anyone recover from losing a child like that. The answer is that the mother was never the same afterwards, but that is not the end of the story, because ever since then, the boy’s spirit has wandered the halls of the original habitat sections of Hatter. Reaching up and moving papers in the administration offices, being seen just walking and, it is believed, looking for his family after all this time, even playing with the children that are living there, though he seems to be certain to keep them well clear of the airlock that took his own life.
 
Don’t believe me? Eh, it's not anything unusual to be honest. Hell, I’ve been there and seen him myself, I swear it. I was there picking up a load of ore for the smelters around Coventry and had to go to the administration offices to sign some paperwork for whatever odd reason, and while I was there at the desk doing the paperwork this young boy, maybe nine or ten standard years walks up to me and looks at the paperwork that I’m filing out. His skin, especially around his lips, had that blue tint to them that you see when someone dies from lack of oxygen, and a little bit of blood under his nose. He then walked right through the door and out into the hallway. I swore then that I would never go back there, lost a good solid job because of it too. No, I won’t go back to Hatter, Kowloon sure, though I’m sure that the planet has its share of ghosts as well, but not to Hatter.

Wolf wins every fight but one, and in that one he dies, his fangs locked on the throat of his opponent.