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    Topher Lydon
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

The Falcon Banner - 44. Chapter 44

Liberation! Taïr has been liberated from under the yoke of Hegemony occupation; it's populace rising up as Captain Darien Taine and the HMS Excalibur arrive in occupied territory.
The message he sends to one and all is we will be free!

-Paul Schofield 'Imperial News Service'


Taïrians around the planet, biding their time through the occupation, cow-towing to arrogant Amsus rule, rose up as one. They stormed Amsus Garrisons and raided Amsus armouries, handing out the forbidden weaponry to their hastily formed divisions of troops. There was a desperate fight for the embattled and surrounded Amsus space port just outside the capital as the garrison troops tried to launch Raptor's in an attempt to get a message up from the planets surface to the defence fleet in orbit, trying to get a warning through to their commanders.

The Raptor's, serviced by Taïrian engineers and mechanics for years, never got off the ground as murderous Taïrians who had never forgotten their warrior heritage or their loyalty to the Empire overran the spaceport.

The revolution was quick, quiet and short. The Falcon banner rising over the city as the last of the small Amsus presence on the world was rounded up, and the planetary batteries were trained on the Amsus defence fleet.

Darien stood back and let the Taïrian clans fight their own battle, Mayfair co-ordinating with the Excalibur to drop the Kardiac Territorial Army, infantry Mechs offering support to the formidable Taïrian ground troops that seemed to come from nowhere, miners and workers trading their pick axes for rifles and shotguns, tuning captured Amsus weaponry back on their former masters.

The Imperial Captain was shocked at the speed of it, and he glanced over at the Taïrian Archduchess, resplendent in her greatcoat with its forest green lapels and claw mark insignia. She, like all the Taïrians, had dyed her muzzle in the same white stripe pattern that Shale wore, and was watching him in amusement.

"This surprises you?" she asked coming around the broad tactical map that dominated the former Amsus command centre. It showed the troop movements, and the Amsus warships in orbit, oblivious to what was happening below them, or the fact that the Excalibur was sitting waiting for an opportunity to pounce upon them.

"Frankly, yes your grace." Darien replied honestly folding his arms and staring worriedly at the map.

"We have known of your uprising, followed your actions from the first broadcast through to your defence of Arcanis. We have heard the politicians of the Hegemony call your actions terrorism, and von Karin calling you a true hero. And you came here, first, you could have gone to Earth, freed your people; instead you brought back one of our long dead soldiers. The question should be mine to ask, why?"

Darien nodded over to Shale who was directing troops and co-ordinating with some of the leaders of the Taïrian resistance, "I made a promise to my Lieutenant that I would bring your fallen soldier home first."

"And that is how the Empire has always differed from the Amsus." She said formally, "The Empire treated us with respect, honoured our traditions and shared with us equally, both our hardships and our triumphs. My species is long lived, there are, among the oldest among us, those that remember the days of the Empire, and they teach us of the glory days when we were not slaves, when we stood side by side with th Humans."

Darien looked thoughtfully down at the tactical map, to where the Imperial and Taïrian forces were sweeping in to remove the last pockets of Amsus resistance on Taïr. His brow furrowed, "The Empire remembers its allies." He said quietly.

"And the Taïrians never forget theirs." She responded, "So far we have managed to avoid detection by the Amsus fleet in orbit, but it is only a matter of time until they turn their guns on us and begin an orbital bombardment of my world."

Darien came forward, "Excalibur is standing ready to support you, ma'am, give the word and I will order an attack."

"Possibly," she said looking thoughtfully at the ships, the wizened old Taïrian's eyes narrowed, "but if we were to capture an Amsus fleet, then we as a people would be of more use to the Empire."

Darien looked thoughtful as he stared at the ships, remembering his time in Ter-Sec, observing Amsus defence fleet movements, the by the book procedures that wouldn't change from world to world. How the lone cruiser and its pair of destroyer escorts flanked by Raptors would operate. He in turn glanced over to the recently captured spaceport where the rest of the Raptor's were clustered.

"If we can man those ships, and wait until the scheduled rotation, the orbiting Raptors land while the ground ones take off to relieve them. And we wait while the crews disembark the Raptors to capture them, and that will leave the capital ships none the wiser..." He scratched his jaw line thoughtfully, and if we can get one Raptor and dock with the cruiser, let Mayfair's marines and a Taïrian strike team onto it..." His plan still left two destroyers, a problem with their deadly missile batteries.

"We regularly send maintenance teams up to the Amsus fleet," The Archduchess said, "they can silence the cruisers communications transmitter, if you are fast, the cruiser can be overwhelmed and be unable to alert the destroyers."

Darien nodded, "Very well, I'll pilot the R-403 and land the strike team on the cruiser. Colonel," Mayfair looked up, "We're gonna go hunt us some bear."

Mayfair frowned, looking to the cruiser Darien was pointing at, his eyes lit up. "Can I bring my big gun Skipper?"

* * *

R-403 followed the wing of Raptor's as they climbed into orbit, passing, dutifully, the Raptor wing sweeping down to the planet and into the waiting arms of the newly formed Taïrian Liberation Army and Colonel Ramsey's forces.

Darien assumed point, the other ships piloted by pilots from VMA-23 hastily brought down by Wing Commander Masconi, knowing that the Amsus fleet controllers would recognize a Taïrian accent immediately. She her self was in the cockpit of R-768 just off of his port wing, newly promoted Squadron Leader Katz was sitting off of his starboard wing heading up the perfect diamond formation that was text book Amsus flying.

The cruiser, a mighty bird sitting like a huge predator over the planet of Taïr gave no sign that it suspected the Raptors approaching it. The frigates rising into flanking positions around the small Amsus armada, Darien powering back on the throttles as he curved his ship on an approach for the spine of the cruiser, to the Raptor docking ports placed at intervals along it.

"BC-72 this is R-711 on approach," he stated into his radio, smiling as he was met by a loud burst of static, "BC-72 can't read you over."

Darien smiled as he flipped through the procedure manual he had dog eared in preparation, "BC-72, this is R-711, under emergency procedures chapter forty paragraph nine sections one through ten we are going to dock to assist in repairs, activate docking port four and stand by to receive us."

He began to execute his final approach, flipping on his landing lights as he extended the landing gears, abeam of the fantail he started his turn into the ship, banking into his final turn, firing the VTOL thrusters as he concentrated on the optical landing systems. The Raptor cleared the fantail of the cruiser pulling its nose up as it descended for a flawless landing on the lit landing pad, hatch couplings extending as Mayfair's Marines tensed.

Darien scrambled up and out of his chair, striding back as he unholstered his PKD, the Marine Company checking their own weapons, as they stood ready in the hold around the belly hatch that connected them to the cruiser. The Larger Taïrian's arming their own weapons as Shale flashed a tooth grin at Darien, hefting a shock grenade nodding to one of the Marines who pulled open the hatch on the surprised Amsus officer that was coming up the ladder.

The grenade bounced past him as he looked down at it clattering down the short hatch tube, bouncing into the midst of the technicians that had clustered beneath it. The one climbing the ladder looked up again as it blew, a Marine Rifle barking once killing him instantly.

"Go!" Mayfair bellowed, pushing his troops ahead one at a time as they dropped down to the deck below, coming up with their pulse rifles room clearing exactly as they had been taught, covering the other marines dropping down beside them.

There was a burst of gunfire as Mayfair gestured to Shale's squad of Taïrians, sending them down into the cruiser next. He glanced across at Darien, "You sure you want to come with?"

"Can't stay here." Darien said tightly easing his grip around the PKD, as he tensed, nodding to the Colonel as he jumped down the ladder into the cruiser. There were bodies everywhere; the Amsus unprepared for the attack had been caught by surprise, the Marines knowing their specific targets already working their way through the ship to secure their objectives.

Mayfair joined him a few moments later with the rest of the six man squad the team spreading out to begin the advance on the bridge, sweeping forward as the sound of gunfire reverberated from somewhere deep in the bowls of the warship.

Darien took a deep breath jogging through the ship, Marines forming up around him and Mayfair as they advanced, Mayfair swinging his Pulse rifle diligently covering his men as he ordered them forward with hand gestures. A couple of shots were fired their way, as an Amsus crewmen burst from a side corridor, trying to get to the cover of the opposite hall.

Darien's PKD struck the alien squarely, sending him flying like a rag doll, to lie crumpled against a bulkhead.

"Cracking shot Skipper!" Mayfair exclaimed in amazement.

Darien shrugged, "All in the wrist." He replied as they moved forward.

"Inquisitor!" Came the desperate cry over the TAC-net, Darien and Mayfair exchanging looks, both knowing the mission was in trouble.

"Three, One, come in three?" Mayfair called into his comlink, "Shit!" he exclaimed.

They had nothing with the kind of firepower it took to take down an inquisitor, at least the Marines didn't. Darien lifted his PKD; glancing at the Colonel, "Take the bridge." He ordered tightly.

"With due respect, sir," Mayfair said tightly, "You're not figurin' on taking that thing on alone are you?"

Darien clapped the stalwart marine on the shoulder and smiled, "Go, take the bridge, trust me."

Mayfair nodded, "Aye Skipper." He gestured again to his men and they carried on forward as Darien cut down a side passage, heading towards the last known location of Squad three.

The close atmosphere of the Amsus cruiser, bathed in its red emergency lights, was claustrophobic. He slowed as he flexed his hands around the pistol, raising the weapon as he swung around a corner, crossing another connecting hall, his eyes sweeping every direction as the weapon swung effortlessly too and fro.

He'd fought an Amsus Inquisitor before; the creatures seemed unaffected by bullets, shrugging them off as if they had no effect. The creatures would keep coming until shot by something capable of delivering a massive system shock. He wasn't sure the PKD was up to the task, but they didn't have anything else to stop the creature that would tear its way through the defenceless marines.

He saw a couple of Karin Marines and a Taïrian exchanging fire with a few surviving Amsus troopers through a cargo bay, and he circled around the fire fight, keeping his eyes peeled for the Inquisitor.

He was glad of the black gloves he wore; the leather covered the fact that his palms were moist with nervous anticipation. He was alone now, alone with an Inquisitor lurking nearby.

The cargo bay he moved into housed cargo containers from seized vessels, lit by circular lights in the ceiling that shone down lighting small circles of light and plunged the rest of the large bay into shadows. There was a light rattling from the life support machinery that had malfunctioned and created a damp that left condensation on the walls and made the deck plates slick beneath his feet.

Years of hunting criminals through some of the worst cess pools on Earth for Ter-Sec had given him a natural caution, noticing the dead bodies of the Karin Marines that had been set upon by the Inquisitor, dark burn marks on their uniforms where the inquisitors energy weapon had struck them. Darien knelt beside one, his pistol still at the ready, confirming they were dead, as he rose slowly.

He wasn't afraid, he found that strange. He knew an Inquisitor could be beaten, he'd beaten one before. So long as he kept his wits about him he would be okay.

He heard something, it was a faint, the faintest hint of what he searched for, and it was gone almost as soon as he caught it. A disciplined creature, one that knew the slightest sound would give it away. But it was too late, Darien rose to his feet, he had found his Inquisitor. "I know you can here me." He said in calm even tones.

The only sound was the occasional burst of weapons fire elsewhere in the ship.

"I can hear you." He said again as he allowed his footfalls to echo into silence. "Your heart beating, the ragged breaths you're taking, the fear you are feeling." He swung the weapon about again, searching about the shadows, "I know you're here." Darien continued his voice echoing through the bay, "I can see your handiwork." He glanced at the dead marines, "You're a predator; you prey on the weak, the defenceless. How does it feel to be in their place now?"

There was still no reply.

"How does it feel to know that you are the one that is being hunted?" He asked aloud, the sound of the marines entering the bay behind him made him feel relieved.

"There is no escape. I know where you are." The PKD lifted slightly, "I will shoot you if I have to."

There was a roar from beside him; the Inquisitor propelled himself out of the shadows towards his hunter, extending those deadly hands towards Darien's throat. Darien sidestepped the clumsy assault propelling the alien towards a pile of crates and sending it sprawling. His PKD skittered across the deck as he lost his hold on it.

The Inquisitor came up and at him again, but once again Darien was prepared. Hands that seemed to know where the punches were coming from deflected the deadly attacks. There was nothing special about the way Darien fought, years of self-defence courses taught him how to read untrained attacks and he reacted to them. Hardly a martial artist in his moves, he instead relied on what was practical, buying himself time.

The Inquisitor was driving him backwards, moving faster and faster, as a couple of marines lifted their pulse rifles to get a clear shot, but they couldn't risk shooting their Captain.

"Jesus he's going hand to hand with that thing...." One of them breathed in awe.

Darien was loosing and he knew it, the creature was landing blows with a rapidity bred into his species, one that no human body could match. Darien staggered as the Inquisitor sent him sprawling across the deck.

The pair of Marines opened fire with their pulse rifles unloading a full magazine apiece into the creature, it simply ignoring the wounds as it reached out ifs hands to choke the life from the fallen Imperial Captain.

There was a blur, a barrelling ball of fur bursting from seemingly nowhere crashing the Inquisitor to the deck. Shale lifted up, his paws clubbing down on the Inquisitor repeatedly as he fought to subdue the alien. Darien watching in shock as the hulking Taïrian was thrown off of the Inquisitor and slammed into the marines knocking them all to the deck.

Darien didn't hesitate, he scrambled across the deck, scooping up his PKD from where it had fallen he trained in and fired. The concussive energy smashed the Inquisitor through crates. As the Inquisitor stumbled to its feet again, Darien fired a second shot, and a third, advancing steadily, emptying the PKD into the creature, throwing it up against a bulk head as the kinetic weapon pounded the resilient creature into pulp.

He lowered the weapon breathing heavily, the black oozing paste that had once been an Inquisitor slid down the bulkhead to pool on the deck, and Darien turned to check on his men.

Shale was bruised but smiling in pride, as the two Marines picked themselves up, the both of them shocked that their skipper had killed it.

"Go, help secure the ship," Darien said sliding his PKD back into its holster, feeling the bruise on his jaw with his other hand, he glanced over at Shale, "I owe you one."

Shale smiled and winked bending down to pick up a spare pulse rifle and following Darien as he marched through the corridors of the captured Amsus Battle Cruiser.

Mayfair had secured the bridge, the Colonel looking up at Darien as the Captain walked through onto the tightly packed bridge, running his hands over the command consoles and checking data.

"We're restoring communications now," Mayfair reported dutifully, "I present to the Empire the prize-ship BC-72."

Darien nodded his head, "I accept this prize in the name of the Empire." He replied formally coming down to the lower deck and staring out of the observation ports at the two Amsus destroyers, out gunned and out numbered and totally oblivious to the fate that had befallen their comrades.

"Communication net restored." A young marine reported from the communications station, "Squads two and four reporting they are securing the last of the Amsus crew."

"Any word from Taïr?" Darien asked glancing behind him.

"They are broadcasting the mission accomplished signal." The marine replied, "The captured Raptor squadron is on its way back up."

"Time to present our two friends with a few options," Darien stated, "Open a frequency, general broadcast," he glanced at Colonel Mayfair, "Weapons if you please Colonel."

Mayfair took the gunnery station, bringing the cruisers main weapon systems online.

"This is Captain Darien Taine in command of BC-72." He said calmly, "If you check your radar scopes you will see that you are surrounded."

"Excalibur reports they are coming around the azimuth of the planet." Darien smiled, it was a breathtaking sight, his ship, the Excalibur cresting from the night side of the world surrounded by squadrons of fighters, rushing to reinforce the Raptor wings and the newly captured Battle Cruiser that were all training their guns on the two Amsus destroyers.

"Fire a warning shot Colonel." Darien gestured, as the heavy particle cannon discharged between the two destroyers. Darien nodded in satisfaction as he stared up at them again, "You are now prisoners of war, stand down and prepare to be boarded, any failure to co-operate will result in your utter destruction."

He waited patiently while the Amsus commanders weighed their options, reaching the inevitable conclusion that they had none.

"They're signalling their surrender." The marine back at communications reported.

"Order Excalibur to dispatch boarding teams and secure those vessels." Darien ordered sighing with relief, he'd won.

* * *

The Archduchess von Taïr greeted the triumphant Imperial Captain as he came down the rear ramp of R-403 pride in his eyes as the newly captured Amsus Capital ships landed at the star port further down the mountain. She affixed him with a warm look as she came to the edge of the landing platform to look at the vessels that would form the first Taïrian attack squadron.

"My people owe you a great debt this day Captain Taine." She said calmly.

"The Empire remembers its allies." He repeated firmly.

"And the Taïrians never forget theirs." She responded automatically. She smiled across at him, "The ranks of the Taïrian army are swelling exponentially, volunteers to follow you on your long march back to Earth, word has been dispatched to our colony worlds, the Amsus are in for a rude awakening when the realize the Taïrians have declared their allegiance to the Empire once again."

She looked at his troubled face, and placed a heavy paw on his shoulder, "look about you Captain Taine, this is a free world because of you, there is hope in the Galaxy because of you, take that hope and free your people."

Darien nodded, "All the way to Earth."

She nodded, "I think we shall call our new prize the Hope of the Dawn," she stated watching as the sun broke over the far mountains painting the sky a burnt amber.

"It's fitting." Darien replied folding his arms.

Copyright © 2011 Topher_Lydon; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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"I know you can here me."   "I know you can hear me."

Darien was loosing and he knew it -  Darien was losing and he knew it

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Tier is now free and joining the Imperial Fleet.  Interesting battle with only a warning shot fired.  

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With the inquisitir dead and totally surrounded, the Amsus were wise to capitulate. 

We now have a second Archduke/duchess. The empire is regrouping. 

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This went better than I expected, not too sure how many more Inquisitors Darien should be taking on one-on-one...

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