My brief story!

Ms Marissa Henshall sat at the bar looking over all the patrons, measuring each of the members of this particular clientèle to see where, if any, her next fiscal conquest would come from. Although she had been called a Black Widow on many occasions she never really could understand why, every one of the men she had conquered and then got an obscenely large alimony from were still alive and well, if a little less well off.

Marissa looked herself over, the tight fitting black dress with its low cut top and thigh-high slit was designed to get any heterosexual man's heart pumping, as well as other things and her athletic physique and ample breasts didn't hinder her objectives either. Noting that all was clean and there were no apparent dust specks she looked up to see a well dressed man with a commanding bearing enter the club. Marissa had spent hours looking for just the right man, and this she thought could be just the man she was looking for.

He was about six foot tall, dark brown close cropped hair, broad shoulders and a muscular frame to match her own. This conquest could be real fun she thought and started to move to intercept the man on his way to the drinks counter.

Commander David Ortega, formally of the HMSS Prince William, had walked up to the Remus Club doors and gave his particulars to the doorman who nodded him through without so much a second glance at his off duty civilian clothing, now as he approached the Drinks Vendor he noted a good looking woman making her way over to him, trying not to be too obvious about it and failing miserably.

Ortega motioned her to one of the stewards who nodded his head and intercepted the woman who flushed, Ortega couldn't make out if it was anger or embarrassment, but her overly controlled manner told him this was perhaps not the last time her path may cross his.

At the counter Ortega ordered a large high Alco content drink and then chose a quiet lonely booth in which to wallow in self pity. It had been six months since the incursion from Athena, no official word had been given from High Command to the newsies, however, that didn't stop the self righteous fuck-tards from making all kinds of wild and speculative guesses about the reasons behind the attack.

Ortega knew though, he had been invited to the official briefing where he had been put out to pasture for god knows how long and how ever hard he tried his brain insisted on replaying the whole god-damned event for him as if it was only yesterday. The smell of the polished wood, the looks of admiration and pity he had been given from the junior and senior staffers in the room as he entered.

Lord Jonkover had reliably informed the assembled meeting that the Athenians had staged a pre-emptive strike in response to Empire Com-Sat probes looking for habitable worlds. Frantic Diplomatic efforts since the attack took place had apparently calmed the whole situation and Athenian authorities had apologised In Extremis, although why someone would apologise in the nick of time was a bit of a confusion, but Ortega thought he knew the general gist of the “Diplomatic” overtures.

Ortega was so lost in his thoughts he didn't see the Steward standing at his elbow until she coughed lightly to gain his attention.

“Ensign Ort from the Prelates office is looking for you sir, he says its rather urgent!” she said.

“Show him through Cathie.” Ortega said, wondering what the hell Jonkover wanted now!

The young Ensign walked briskly to the table and stood to attention waiting for Ortega, as the senior officer to initiate the conversation as Imperial Military protocol dictated.

After several moments Ortega sighed and indicated Ort to take the seat opposite him, however, the ensign simply stiffened his stance and it should have been impossible, but he managed to look as if he was standing at even more attention than previously.

“Ok, I'll bite, what's Jonkover want now!” Ortega sighed heavily.

“Sir, the Emperors Prelates office respectfully requests your attention at a meeting of senior staff at 9am planetary time tomorrow. This meeting is of the highest security and no mention should be made to any parties prior to the commencement of the meeting.”

Once completed the Ensign offered Ortega an old fashioned paper envelope and a message board to confirm the receipt of the details. Ortega signed the confirmation and Ort snapped off a salute, turned and with parade ground precision marched out of the room.

Ortega looked at the envelope now in his possession, across the top in written standard were his name and current military rank, however, stamped diagonally across the centre in scarlet red were the words, TOP SECRET, EYES ONLY. Ortega looked up and caught the stewards eye again.

“A private room if you will please Cathy!” he said, eyeing the Alco deciding to leave the beverage alone, for now at least.


Admiral Dax stood in the boat bay waiting for his shuttle to signal readiness to accept boarders, his steward had already been on the intra-ship com and confirmed there was some sort of comms issue that the techs were trying to resolve. That, however, was over thirty minutes ago and Jenson Dax, Admiral of his most honoured grace the Emperors fleet was getting slightly pissed off and Dax was about to start letting people know when the ready light turned from crimson to that most loveliest of greens indicating that Admiral Dax could now depart the civilian cruise liner he had inhabited for the last four standard days, which because of the way nature always liked to play games with human notions was three point seven six local planetary days.

“Its about time!” Dax grumbled to the Ensign at the hatch way.

“Sorry Sir!” the Ensign fumbled as the Admiral pushed past on his way into the shuttle.

As Dax disappeared into the shuttle the techs were leaving and gave the ensign a look which somehow managed to convey their relief at not having to spend the twenty odd minutes in the company of the Admiral and their sincere sorrow at having to leave the Ensign to it alone.

Dax reached his seat at the front of the shuttle craft and sat down, ignoring the ensign who as desperately trying to tell the Admiral to fasten his seat harness and started to read the after action report on the Athena affair. The actions taken by Commander Ortega were bold and imaginative, attempting to make best use of both mobile and fixed planetary defences. The numbers were raw and the positioning was off, giving a progressively clear picture of the Commanders intentions as the action progressed, but overall, Dax was impressed and pleased by the outcome of his personal recommendation. All in all Dax was looking forward to working with this obviously imaginative young officer.


Lieutenant Samson James was in CnC watching over Section Seventeen, that covered the newly constructed Listening Post Sixteen and Seventeen and posts Eighteen, Nineteen and Twenty, as well as lateral arrays Forty through Forty Nine positive, and lateral arrays Ten through Nineteen Negative. This gave James a lot of space to watch over, but his team were some of the best there were, indeed some of them had been transferred through from LP17 with him. Our group of lucky charms his new C/O had said.

James sighed, just like working up in LP17 CnC Section Seventeen was a boring thankless task, with very little excitement to bother his subordinates, half of which were running down a simulation which appeared to be throwing some new software bugs at them.

James sighed, “Document the bugs and get the details over to Tech Support Sally, I don't want our section slipping up if we have another Athena-esque incident.”

“Yessir!” Sally Underwood said and started making reports and back ups of any and all data for the tech labs to resolve the issues.

“Place all stations back on the grid and get me a fully updated plot on all vessels in our target area please Grimsaw”, then James sat back and watched his satellite display update with all the current information.

As he looked over the codes something caught James' attention, Adm Dax' shuttle was over due at the Space dock and the light codes on the plot were showing his shuttle was en-route and out of position.

“Sally, contact Adm Dax' shuttle and request a status update, they are off course and late.”

Sally Underwood turned to James with a heat red face, “I'm sorry sir, I forgot to update you, Admiral Dax was delayed due to a technical malfunction on the shuttles coms gear, CnC potting changed the course to avoid some Space Debris.”

“Ok Sally, keep me updated.”

Lieutenant James was about to turn away when his coms technicians head jerked sharply in alarm and her slender hands moved with rapid speed over her console.

“Sir,” she shouted, “Admiral Dax' shuttle has just sent out a priority one alert, their combustion core is overloading. The shuttle technician is reporting a feed back pressure spike in the fuel matrix!”

“That's impossible” someone blurted out, “the fuel line return valves would stop any kind of feed back pressure and if they didn't the pump matrix would shut-down and starve the engine of fuel!”

Everyone was about to look at James for guidance when his scanner tech twitched. “I have a Two Thousand percent increase in Shuttle oh oh one's power plant.” the scanner tech looked up in bewilderment. “Sir, the Admirals shuttle. It's not. There's nothing they can do, its gonna blow!”

James' brain went into overdrive. “Dan, I want all scan packs focussed on that shuttle and surrounding areas, dump all data straight to the secure core and patch all stations into CnC command central. Sally, I want you and your team pouring over the stored data taken while we were performing the drill, I want to know if there is anything we could have missed. While your all doing that, I'll be up in Command Central getting a new ass chewed!” and with that Lieutenant James stood and stalked out of their work pit.


Ortega stood in the Admiralty briefing rooms outer ante chamber waiting for his summons to see Lord Jonkover. It felt good to be back in uniform, even if it was the full dress uniform of the Imperial Navy. Clasped tightly in his hands were the schematics he was passed by Ensign Ort the previous evening, the Alco long forgotten he had poured over the details of this brave new vessel. Designated a Battle-Cruiser it had sleek lines that hinted at a pedigree speed yacht lineage and yet hid a vicious smile, for beneath the lithe out line lay a dark heart.

Where the Battleship left mass for a rather large payload of cargo to haul the Empires precious goods, the Battle-Cruiser did not. This left the Battle-Cruiser a smaller ship, however, the Bureau of Construction had finally gotten its collective heads together with those of the Bureau of Research and included a drive that was smaller, but output a twenty five percent increase in power, added to the fact that although the Battle-Cruiser was thirty five percent smaller, the lack of a cargo hold meant that there was a twenty or so percent increase in space for arms and armament.

The battle-cruiser could not only out pace any Battleship on the block, she could out gun and out manoeuvre them also and that was a vessel that Ortega would give his left Knut to be on the bridge of and he whole heartedly hoped that the schematics in his possession meant exactly that. He just hoped he would get a good commanding officer.

Ortega was about to start examining the flower arrangement for the fourth time when the Briefing Room door opened and Rear Admiral Carolette Sanguine beckoned Ortega through the door.

When Ortega walked into the room he was surprised to see the meeting was to be with Admiral Sanguine alone.

“Our apologies for the delay Commander, Prelate Jonkover conveys his apologies for not being here also, however, there have been developments that have required his most urgent attention, as such I will be brief.” Sanguine paused to look at the message board on the desk and took a deep weary breath before continuing. “Commander, your original assignment was aboard the newly constructed Battle-Cruiser HMSS Prince William under Admial Jenson Dax, however, a freak accident has bereft the Navy of one of its finest Flag Officers.”

Sanguine levelled her, what Ortega could only have described as emotional eyes at him, “Admiral Jenson Dax was killed within the last hour, when his shuttle was destroyed by a feed back pressure spike in the fuel matrix, therefore, you shall proceed without Admiral Dax on-board.”

Sanguine sighed and sat heavily in a chair, “Dax was supposed to give you a few pointers to tighten up your tactical ability before he retired next month, HMCS Arnova was supposed to be his last Hyper Space capable command and this was his wind down duty before he was demobbed.”

“Sir, I” Ortega started but Sanguine waved her hand to stop him.

“Commander, here are your orders. In brief you have received a promotion to Captain and are hereby ordered to take command of HMSS Prince William and all who sail in her. God Speed Captain and good hunting!”

With that Admiral Sanguine stood, congratulated Ortega on his promotion and assignment to the Empires latest and most heavily armed fighting vessel and hustled him out of the door with as much haste as warranted a busy Admiral in the middle of a service wide crisis.

Ortega stood in the hallway with the orders chip and a small back Salt-Buck hide box containing his new rank insignia in his hand, a million thoughts were rolling through his head when a pleasant light, melodic, voice sliced through everything, momentarily stilling all other thoughts and concerns.

Looking up Ortega saw a petite woman with dark blonde hair, subtle make up and a shy smile standing in front of him. Rachel Devon, Specialist Devon's younger sister stood in front of him in her service uniform smiling shyly.

“I wanted to say thanks for the eulogy you gave at Sam's funeral, it was great, it really summed him up. He was really proud to serve on the Prince William and would have loved it if he could have moved on with you where ever you go!”

“Sam was a good man and I think he would be pleased to know the Prince William is well on her way to making the honours roll.” Ortega smiled and waved the documents for Rachel to see. “I made Captain and have a new command called the Prince William!”

Rachel's face lit up with the most radiant smile that literally took Ortega's breath away and she gently took the Salt-Buck box from his unresisting hands. Opening the box Rachel took out the Captains insignia and fixed them in place on his collar, while Ortega lifted his chin slightly to allow her to do so. When she had finished she rested the palm of her hand on Ortega's chest for a moment and looked critically at the new emblems of authority, while she did so Ortega was caught up in a maelstrom of confusing feelings, feeling that Ortega had never really felt that strongly before, but oddly feelings that were entirely, wholeheartedly right.

“They suit you sir!” Rachel said to Ortega as she turned to leave.

“Rachel, wait, I erm, I mean, I erm.” Ortega fumbled about for the right thing to say, “can I take you for a drink when I get back from the shake down cruise?” he finally managed to blurt out like a school boy asking the popular girl out to prom.

“Sure.” Rachal Devon's shy smile was back, “Remus club 7pm on your second day back, I'll be waiting!”

Ortega stood and watched Rachel turn the corner of the corridor before going to his new assignment, but as he did he though he heard the unmistakeable squeal of an excited female from down the corridor and smiled, and as he walked through the corridors of the Admiralty building, Captain David Ortega was walking on air.