Jun 01 2009

JM’s Review Forum

Published by at 12:12 pm under Review Forums

Please read the comments below.  Thanks.

18 responses so far

18 Responses to “JM’s Review Forum”

  1. Sandmanon 08 Jun 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Welcome to Superhero nation! Look forward to reading your work. From your blurb it sounds interesting. I’ll have more advice when you’ve actually written it, but think about putting in another adult for the uncle to interact with, or maybe give the ships intelligence a human personality.

  2. J.M.on 08 Jun 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Sandman: Thanks for the welcome. To answer you’re concerns, yes, there will be several other adult characters for the uncle to interact with. The artificial intelligence does have a human personality, and in fact the nature of his personality and the relation between humans and their artificial intelligences is a serious subplot in the story at the moment.

  3. J.M.on 08 Jun 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Issue 1: The opening sequence of the first chapter is currently in flux. I’ve written three different versions over the last couple of years. What is certain is that the Destiny, the ship that Jake, the youngish nephew (I am undecided on his age, I’m thinking roughly early twenties) and Dallas, his uncle, own will come under attack by pirates, the latest in a suspiciously frequent series of attacks on the Destiny. Discovering the reason’s behind this attack is the primary goal of the first third of novel. However, I cannot decided how to open. The first open, the one which I have currently written, is simply opening straight into combat (yes, I know it violates the written rule, but my reason is that it allows me to introduce a lot of Jake’s character under fire). The second, is to have a slow open, with the focus less on Jake and more on introducing the general setting, Dallas and Bill, the AI, as well as some of the more generic setting. The third is similar to the second, but adding a nightmare sequence (which in the other two openings is introduced AFTER the combat sequence) that introduces a recurring nightmare that has been causing Jake to suffer from insomnia.

    So, what do you guys think? The post below contains the opening combat scene as currently written.

  4. J.M.on 08 Jun 2009 at 3:20 pm

    With his ship, the frigate Destiny, shuddering around him as Jake put it through a tight turn that stressed the hull to creaking point, he could think of half-a-dozen different places he would rather be at the moment. Most likely it was closer to an actual dozen places, but his mind was occupied trying not to die a fiery death in on the edge of nowhere. Jake brought the ship out of range of the weapons of the attacking pirate ships and sped towards a passing comet.

    “Jacob, if you don’t mind the interruption, why exactly are you taking the ship towards the comet?” asked the ship’s artificial intelligence, named Bill, whose holographic avatar looked at him quizzically from the display station next to the piloting controls.

    “You are a QI, you figure it out,” Jake replied briskly, referring to the quantum computer that made up the core of Bill’s mind.

    “I apologize for not possessing the capability to interpret your brainwaves, Jacob. There are several thousand reasons that I have computed for approaching the comet from this path, and not being about to navigate those shadowy seas which happen to be your mind, and do not possess sufficient evidence to form a satisfactory hypothesis.” Bill always could be a bit snarky when put off.

    “To be honest at the moment, I don’t really have a plan.”

    “Pardon me if I express great shock at that fact.”

    “You didn’t let me finish, Bill. I have several plans, between which I have not decided.”

    “My suggestion would be to decide with alacrity. The enemy ships are closing fast.” The pirate ships had emerged suddenly out of slipspace, just a light-minute outside of weapons range, and caught Jake off-guard. They had been on the edge of inhabited space, faraway from any trade routes or large settlements. There had been no reason to suspect pirate raiders. Even their mission was about as unlikely to produce the immediate profit raiders sought. Jake needed time to regroup and get a handle on the situation.

    So Jake put the ship on a course that would bring it just past the tail of the comet, and laid in several course changes that Bill would execute so that he could think while the ship was put into position. “Bill, bring up the tactical display, including all relevant data regarding the enemy ships, including estimated sensor lag.” Jake turned around, watching from the pilot’s station as the holographic tactical display shimmered into existence, showing the position of the Destiny, the comet and the two pirate ships. The two pirate ships had slowed, detecting the Destiny’s course, and obviously were conversing and debating their next course of action.

    The two ships proceeded to split up, one ship heading down and away from the Destiny on the plane of the ecliptic, roughly matching direction as to the main body of the comet, but coming at course so that it would pass just below the main body and surrounding debris cloud and intersect with one of the Destiny’s projected courses. The other mounted a direct pursuit, and was closing as fast as the ship would take her.

    “Bill, designate pursuing ship tango-1, reserve ship tango-2.” The designations popped up next to the dark red icons that represented the pirate ships. “Time till the comet tail shields us from tango-2.”

    “Four minutes, thirty-four seconds.” The tactical situation was going to be difficult. The pirate ships had roughly trapped the Destiny in a pincer maneuver, meaning that escape was going to be roughly impossible. The presence of the comet meant that the surrounding slipspace was going to be nigh impassable, so a jump was out of the question. They would have to turn and fight.

    “Estimate enemy armaments, Bill.”

    “Two ships, frigate displacements, estimated crews ten to twenty individuals. Given response times to sensor data, the ships have a single, simple AI. Weapons on tango-1 are six particle beam turrets, maximum coverage in forward, dorsal and ventral areas. Two forward facing missile launchers, of class-two size. Tango-2 is armed with one forward facing plasma cannon, one ventral and one dorsal missile launcher each, and two phased particle cannon turrets, covering forward, port and starboard angles. Minimal armor and shielding, expect one full beam from our phase cannon would destroy each ship.” Jake nodded. Pirates didn’t often have to deal with heavily armed ships, as even in these chaotic days independent freighters couldn’t afford much firepower.

    “What about ECM?”

    “Unknown, our first shots were destroyed by their point-defense guns. I suspect only standard communication disruptors. They are pirates, not corporate raiders.” Bill was most likely correct. Corporate raiders would have had much more sophisticated equipment, and would not have been so heavily armed. They would have been interested in silencing any witnesses to technological theft, not destruction of a random civilian ship on the edge of inhabited space.

    Jake nodded and pondered the situation. He would have to act fast, to be able to get the surprise on the pursuing ship. “Bill, fire two anti-matter missiles, manual detonation, against tango-1.” Jake felt the magnetic launch tubes hum as the missiles shot through rear launcher, sending them at a significant fraction of light speed at the oncoming pirate ship. Jake returned to the pilot’s station, executing a series of evasive maneuvers. He turned to ship, sending it on a slingshot course around the comet’s head.

    “Jacob, tango-2 is accelerating, and changing course to intercept us on our present course. They will be sensor blind in two minutes, twelve seconds.” The second ship had accelerated before they detected the missile launch, which meant that they were the hammer and the other ship the anvil in this trap. Soon though, the hammer would be blind, and trusting that the Destiny would just be using the comet as cover for escape, and as the anchor in a slingshot maneuver to get them out of the gravity well of both the comet and the nearby nebula, which the Destiny had been surveying before they had been so rudely interrupted. “They have destroyed the missiles.”

    Blooding pounding in his temples, Jake gritted his teeth and focused on a quick mental calculation. “Bill, tell Uncle Dallas to strap himself in, this is gonna be a rough ride.” Bill nodded twice, once to indicate acknowledgement and the other to indicate that Jake’s uncle Dallas had indeed secured himself. “Power up the cannon, and prepare to fire.” Jake entered in another course correction, cutting the main engine thrust and firing his maneuvering thrusters to flip the ship, the maneuver hidden behind the heat and debris caused by the missile detonation.
    “Tango-2 is now in the sensor shadow of the tail,” reported Bill, his normally calm and detached voice rising in pitch.

    “Fire rear missile launchers, two salvoes, proximity detonation, advanced tracking packages!” Four missiles hurtled out of the rear missile launchers toward the pirate ship advancing from the rear. “Fire the engines, maximum thrust!” Jake felt his body press against the seat, as the engines burned against the momentum from their lengthy flight across to the comet. The inertial dampeners and hull creaked as the ship fought hard against the momentum, struggling to advance out of the jaws of the well-laid trap.

    The Destiny finally pushed has hard as it could, and began to shoot forward towards the oncoming pirate vessel, Tango-1. As the plasma screen dissipated, both ships sped at each other, now finally visible.

    Suddenly, the tactical display Jake had consulted went black. A large portion of his command board went black, and he realized immediately that one of the main circuit boards had blown out. All of the systems damaged, sensors primarily, had been tied into the same breaker that he had though he had fixed weeks ago after another pirate skirmish. Cursing loudly, he shouted at Bill to reroute sensors through other circuit nodes. Bill blinked off as he focused his computing power on fixing the sensors. Time seemed to slow, and Jake turned his eyes back towards the oncoming pirate raider.

    “Jacob, incoming!” Bill shouted, seeing at the same moment what Jake had seen. Twelve missiles were all rapidly closing on the Destiny, unnoticed by either Bill or Jake because of the damaged sensor package. He threw the ship into a ‘dive,’ screaming for countermeasures, point-defense weapons, and a counter-barrage. Bill did all he could as fast as possible. The countermeasures were of Bill’s own design, and despite the simplicity of the guidance computers, the missiles had been allowed to get too close, and they only managed to destroy three of the twelve missiles, frying their guidance packages into thinking they had already hit the Destiny.
    The small frigate finally caught a break when the exploding missiles took out two other warheads, but that still left screaming at near the speed of light towards the Destiny. Bill immediately ruled out a counter-barrage of missiles. While a most effective anti-missile measure, especially if modified to produce a larger electro-magnetic field that could disable missiles hundreds of miles outside of the blast radius, they were to close to do any good. Any effective counter-fire would nearly be as damaging to the Destiny as a direct hit. The artificial intelligence took about two-hundredths of a second to realize that this was very, very bad.

    He fired up the Destiny’s point-defense batteries of two rapid-firing 25mm gauss cannons scanning the forward firing arc. Bill also subsidized the Destiny’s primary energy cannons, whose accuracy was usually greatly insufficient for the task of destroying missiles just under a light-minute away, but Bill posited that a proverbial shot in the dark was superior to no shot at all. The missiles raced towards the Destiny, rushing headlong towards the ready defensive systems. Two missiles were destroyed before intercepting the Destiny’s previous course, but another made it close enough to set off its proximity fuse, buffeting the ship.

    “Damage report!” cried Jake, his head pounding as he put the ship through a series of increasingly desperate evasive maneuvers.

    “Minimal damage to the aft hull, sensor packages D2 through D7 have been-” Bill was interrupted as the ship shook again, this time the power dimming noticeably as his holographic emitter and his vocal communication systems flickered on and off.
    “Direct hit from Tango-1’s forward particle cannons. Shields holding at seventy-two percent efficiency, but power relays three and six are at dangerous heat levels.” Jake swore again. Flying half blind and in a ship that despite its advantage in firepower was flying apart at the seams was not a good sign for their continued survival in the Outlands. But Jake threw that thought out of his mind, trying to bring his throbbing head back into the current and most immediate issue: avoid fiery doom.
    “Return fire, all weapons!”

    The Destiny’s heavy energy cannons moved away from the still oncoming missiles and fired instead on the pirate ship. Suddenly on the defensive, Tango-1 tried to move away from sudden outburst of firepower from the small frigate. But in the pilot and gunner’s haste to try and close into the kill, they had gotten far too close to their prey. Struck repeatedly by the Destiny’s primary weapons, their weak shields crumbled. The blows crippled their primary engines, leaving them without a significant portion of their power and maneuvering capability.

    Those missiles however were still chasing the Destiny and far too close for the comfort of both Jake and Bill. Their point-defense weapons were firing on visual cues only, with the majority of the aft-facing sensor packages now nothing more than molten plastic and metal. The missiles were closing, but now free of the immediate danger of Tango-1s particle cannons, Jake maneuvered the Destiny trying to get the sensor packages on the starboard side to lock onto the missiles. However the missiles were now locked onto the plasma flare of the Destiny’s sublight engine. Unable to shake the missiles, Jake was running out of options. Free of human beings, the missiles could accelerate much faster than the Destiny, and would eventually catch up to the small ship, incinerating it in a fiery blast of an anti-matter explosion. If any part of the Destiny was left intact, Jake and Uncle Dallas would be deep fried from the radiation, as would Bill’s quantum computer. There probably wouldn’t be enough left to scrape off of the wreckage of the ship. The ship would be cut up and sold for scrap, if anyone found it. The thought of plasma torches tearing out the guts of his home was almost too much to take. But the image suddenly inspired him with an idea.

    “Bill, cut forward thrust!” Bill did so; stumbling on the same solution that Jake had seen.

    “Calculating time to impact,” Bill rubbed his hands together and wiped his forehead, very, very nervous. The missiles closed on the white-hot engine torches, within a mere thousand kilometers. “Firing engines, maximum burn!” And those missiles were promptly incinerated before they could detonate by the plasma exhaust from the Destiny’s primary sublight engines.

    Jake leapt up, cheering loudly. The adrenaline coursed through his veins, and he shouted, cheering at their near escape from death. Quickly though his vision blurred, his head pounded, and he had to sit down. His eyes burned, and his throat was dry. He rubbed his face, and took several deep breaths, trying to calm down. “Bill, bring us to a safe distance away from Tango-1 and watch for Tango-2, they should be emerging from the sensor shadow in about ninety seconds.” He quickly rose and strode across the bridge to the small water fountain, and grabbed one of the cups from the cabinet above it, which were secured in small padded braces, and poured himself a glass of water, which he promptly drained in about four swallows.

    “Jacob, Tango-1 is continuing to launch missile salvoes. They pose no threat, as we are at a sufficient distance that the point-defense weapons are capable of destroying them well before the missiles close to dangerous distances. I took the liberty of transmitting several messages of surrender; however they are all going unanswered. Given their consistent belligerence, it would be my suggestion to eliminate them before they are able to enact repairs and begin their attacks with greater effectiveness.”

    Panting, he made his way back to the pilot’s station, head still pounding, but his throat was sated and his eyes had stopped burning. Both Jake and Bill’s faces had hardened, and Jake turned and nodded, almost imperceptibly. Bill’s lips twitched and two lances of energy erupted from the Destiny’s forward particle emitters. They struck Tango-1 amidships, and the small ship erupted with explosions, burning the quickly escaping oxygen. The ship ripped open, as smaller explosions tore open large patches of hull as the pirate ship’s stores of oxygen and other combustibles were lit a flame.

    Jake and Bill smiled grimly, and Jake returned to the pilot’s station, head still pounding, knowing no respite from the destruction of the unnamed pirate ships.
    He heard the bridge gravlift doors scrape open, and his uncle, Dallas stepped onto the bridge, and almost immediately, Jake felt the pounding in his head subside significantly. He smiled and gestured to the navigator’s station to the aft of the bridge.

    “Made sure that your seat was still here. How was the ride?”
    “Not too bad, I was in the lab, so I was able to get to the secured emergency couch and enjoy the ride. Never in my life have I figured out what genius decided to Bill was filling me in on the details. How in the name of John Gordon did they find us?”
    “Jacob, Tango-2 is emerging from the sensor shadow of the comet,” Bill remarked, leaving Dallas’s question unanswered.

    “Bring us about, arm the phase cannon and compute a targeting vector.” Bill’s holographic eyes glazed over as he concentrated on making the calculations, tension slowly rising as they awaited the final steps in the fatal dance.

    “Roger, phase cannon online, capacitors charged to maximum. Target acquired; ship oriented and ready to fire.” Tango-2 shot out from behind the tail of the comet, but Dallas frowned, noticing something odd about the course the ship was taking.
    “Bill, wait! Don’t fire!” cried Dallas, receiving odd glances from both Bill and Jake. “Look, they aren’t firing; they aren’t changing course to intercept. Bill, check electromagnetic activity on that ship.”

    Bill’s glance narrowed, “Dallas is correct, there are no electromagnetic readings coming from the ship.” He paused, and turned to look at the vessel out the bridge’s vast observation port. “I am also not detecting any hodspace emissions, indicating no artificial gravity, and no faster-than-light capability. Given what my sensors are detecting, I hypothesize that the ship has for some reason been abandon. I cannot confirm this hypothesis, but I cannot detect any oxygen or human-compatible atmosphere, however at this range the sensors are unreliable. At the moment we should operate under the assumption that the ship, while disable, is still manned to the brim by the roguish scum.”

    Jake and Dallas looked at Bill, mouths slightly agape. Bill turned and shrugged at them.

    Bill puffed his chest, purple eyes sparkling, bristled, “Pardon me gentlemen, but this is the fourth time in three standard weeks that buccaneers have attempted to destroy me. I believe you can allow me to demonstrate the utter frustration at these seemingly pointless attempts to take my life.” Jake raised his eyebrows, and looked at Dallas. Bill waved him off, answering Jake’s unspoken charge. “Yes, yes, and your lives as well. I’m sure you both are ‘all broken up about it,’ as the colloquialism goes.”

    Dallas chuckled, his deep basso laugh bringing a smile to Jake’s face. “Yes Bill, all of us are all broken up about savages trying to kill us, rape our corpses and loot our ship.”

    Bill, still not exactly satisfied with both Dallas and Jake’s nonchalance in regards to being removed from this life, bristled a little and returned his gaze to the pirate ship. “Perhaps the two of you should suggest the appropriate course of action to take regarding the disabled pirate ship.”

    Dallas looked at Jake, his brow furrowed and eyes concerned. “I think we need to take a look, see if we can get into their computer. We’ve been out on the Edge for the last three weeks, with almost no contact with Chalmers or anyone else at Gyota back on Sercen. We need to find out who sent them and why. These aren’t corporate raiders, they are actual pirates, who kill first and ask questions later.”
    “Well Bill, can we dock with the tango?” asked Jake.

    “I believe so. Their engines are not firing, and their course remains steady. It will take time to complete the maneuver, but I am sure, under Jacob’s capable piloting skills, we will be able to dock the Destiny to that thing.” Bill spoke those last words as if uttering something slightly dirty, not worthy for consideration under normal circumstances.

    “Very well; Bill and Jake, make it happen. I’ll prep the EVA suit for this little jaunt. Let me know when we are in position, and I’ll head over there.”

  5. Sandmanon 09 Jun 2009 at 4:46 am

    Pretty good storywise, but a science issue: those missiles can’t be going anywhere near the speed of light. Nothing with mass can go anywhere close to lightspeed. But that’s a minor quibble. I have a small problem with the acronyms, what do they stand for? ECM? EVA? Also, maybe explain who Chalmers is and what Gyota and Sercen are.

  6. B. Macon 09 Jun 2009 at 10:03 am

    ECM is electronic countermeasures, I think.

  7. J.M.on 09 Jun 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Sandman: My apologies, I thought most people would now what those are. ECM is electronic countermeasures, while EVA is Extra-vehicular activity (basically space suit).

  8. J.M.on 09 Jun 2009 at 5:28 pm

    General Relevant Historical Background: Humanity has spread itself over a good portion of the galaxy, living on planets, moons, space stations, trade ships, anywhere where humans can gain a toehold. A common government, the Signan Interstellar Commonwealth, emerged from an alliance of humanities original colonies and other governments. However, by the rough historical era (the Winter Commonwealth) the Commonwealth was beginning to disintegrate underneath its own weight. Earth, capital of the Commonwealth is destroyed in a sudden and massive invasion by a race of machines known as the ‘Etek,’ the Old Common word for cold.
    Slowly but surely human space is bisected by the unyielding Etek, and within twenty years the Commonwealth finally collapses. Eventually stopping their advance for reasons unknown, human space as been reduced by rough a third called The Line, known to be occupied by the Etek. The humans living in the third of Old Commonwealth territory have no contact with the unoccupied human territory on the other side of the Line.
    Three human governments emerge out of the chaos. One is the Industrial Confederacy, a group of corporations who, out of sheer necessity, assumed the role of governing a significant portion of human worlds. The second is the New Terran Union, an aggressive, near-fascistic pro-human government which strongly favors launching an attack against the Line, but instead focuses on uniting the remaining human worlds under its rule. The NTU was an extremely brutal regime. The third and smallest government, known as Emergent Terra, is a group of radical “singularitarians,” who favor abandoning traditional bans on nanotechnological improvement and genetic engineering of humans in order to ‘ascend.’ These three governments fight a vicious civil war, devastating much of the remaining human territory.
    While the NTU appears to be the dominating power, a young admiral defects to the Industrial Confederacy with his fleet, brutally eliminating the NTU, bombing the homeworld New Terra, killing billions. The IC gives his an extra-legal, semi-autonomous organization known as the Vanguard. The Vanguard also destroys the Emergent by unleashing a virulent plague on the Emergent worlds. Now the sole government of known human worlds, the IC tries to rebuild. The Vanguard’s oppressive operations lead to the emergence of a crime syndicate known as the Morelli Combine. Law and order is extremely tenuous, many formerly common technologies are being lost, and it appears that humanity is dying.

  9. Sandmanon 10 Jun 2009 at 3:14 am

    No need for an apology. We’re not really that formal here. I’d recommend maybe putting that as your first page so the reader understands what’s going on straight away. It’ll save you a lot of awkward explanations later.

  10. Tomon 10 Jun 2009 at 4:04 am

    Err… sorry but I’ll have to disagree with you there Sandman. As an explanation for the situation it’s okay, but as a first page? The manuscript will be dead on arrival. No publisher is going to sit through that just to get to the story. It’s an infodump.


    Exposition like that should be revealed gradually over the course of the story.

    Although having said that, that is a LONG backstory, you might want to simplify that a bit, I was having trouble paying attention.

    Here’s an example of a fantasy world’s backstory that’s complicated, but still understandable, the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender.

    The world of Avatar is split into four nations, each one representing a different classical element, Water, Earth, Fire and Air. 100 years before the events of the show the Fire Nation started a war and killed everyone in the Air Nation, except for one pre-teen boy who escaped. That boy is the Avatar, the reincarnated spirit of the planet. He froze himself in an iceberg by accident and was awoken 100 years later by two teenagers. 100 years later the Fire Nation has almost won the war, and it’s up to the Avatar and his friends to save the world.

    There, quite a long backstory, but still simple enough to follow. A condensed version was featured at the very beginning of the show.

  11. J.M.on 10 Jun 2009 at 9:35 am

    Tom: That’s not all on the first page. That’s why I put the tag “relevant historical background” at the front of it. That’s to give the readers some question as to what in the name of all that is sacred and holy is going on, so as to make some informed criticism, at least in terms of story. For example, whether a later mention of the New Terran Union in the first chapter communicates it’s aggressive, pro-human stance sufficiently Plus it gives me something to do when I don’t want to write the story.

    Though to be fair I think he was talking about the acronyms ECM and EVA.

  12. J.M.on 10 Jun 2009 at 9:50 am

    Woops, I just misread both posts. Goes to show you should post right after you wake up. As to your point about condensing the back story, I get your point. I will say that’s an “extended” summary of the backstory, which I tried to include the elements that would eventually become relevant in the first part of the story, so to at least provide a short point of reference, but I’ll try and come up with something a little simpler.

  13. Sandmanon 10 Jun 2009 at 12:00 pm

    I see yor point Tom. I agree, I was wrong and a massive info dump would kill a manuscript stone dead.. Though to be fair Star Wars did get away with “A long time ago, In a galaxy far, far away”.

  14. Tomon 10 Jun 2009 at 12:08 pm

    With movies it’s different. You’ve payed your $9 or whatever for an evening’s entertainment and you’re not going to walk out just because there’s an infodump at the beginning, but if you’re in a bookstore and you read the first page of a book and it’s an infodump… back on the bookshelf it goes.

  15. Sandmanon 10 Jun 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Haha. Yeah, true

  16. J.M.on 11 Jun 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Arc Summary: The story is currently separated into three rough arcs. The first covers the introduction of the Destiny and the main characters Jake and Dallas Wellford, and Bill, the ship’s AI. The Destiny has come under a suspiciously high number of pirate attacks, leading the crew to suspect a bounty has been placed on them by an unknown source. The Wellfords, unable to maintain the Destiny with just the two of them and their areas of expertise, dock at Columbia Spaceport to take on supplies and to hire an engineer to assist them. Using their contacts within various corporations and unsavory places, they are unable to ascertain anything at all about a bounty, which leads them to suspect that they are being pursued by the secretive Vanguard.

    Unable to determine where the threat is coming from, they take on a transport commission from Chalmers, their contact within the Niven-Kolar Corporation, a small corporation who are trying to rebuild the planets under their governance. Departing from Columbia, they travel to the rundown, poorly maintained waystation at Durand to pick up their passengers. The Wellfords believe they are being followed by Vanguard informants, and try to ambush their followers by leading them into a Morelli Combine watering hole, sparking an open firefight. They grab one of the Vanguard personnel, and flee to the Destiny. After a tense firefight with a Vanguard destroyer, they flee, now fugitives from the Vanguard.

  17. J.M.on 11 Jun 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Second Arc: Now on the run from the two major powers in their area of space, they flee to slipspace as long as possible, contemplating their next move. After discovering their contract was a set-up from the Vanguard, the Destiny no longer has any base to go back to. Interrogating their captive Vanguard agent, they discover that their original contracts was a set up. Left without any options, Dallas tries to contact several people from his “old life.” All are suspiciously silent, but Dallas finally reaches one, the administration of a free station near the edge of the Line. They also discover that their escape from Durand sparked an open conflict between the Vanguard and the Combine, giving them a measure of security, as both sides are wrapped up in their fight.

    Their agent reveals that they are chasing Dallas for some reason, and that they had tried to plant an agent on the Destiny, but was unaware whether they had succeeded. After admitting his guilt, he claims that he had become disillusioned with the Vanguard, and allowed himself to be captured in order to escape. Agent also tells the crew that he thinks that Dallas has the key to something that Vanguard wants. Dallas reveals that he has been hiding something from Jake, and promises to reveal that secret when they arrive at their hiding place. The arc concludes by their arrival at the free station, which is threatened by Morelli Combine operatives demanding protection.

  18. J.M.on 12 Jun 2009 at 11:58 am

    After repelling the Combine agents, the reader is introduced to the station administrator, Oliver and his daughter Nicole. Dallas reveals that he and Oliver were a part of a secret organization called the Watch, which was dedicated to protecting humanity from unknown external threats, including the race which had conquered Earth in the mid-21st century. After Earth was destroyed, the Watch become an outlawed organization, and its members had to flee. Still trying to fulfill their charge, they maintained a series of caches and safehouses containing “Libraries,” suppositories of a significant portion of human knowledge, which the Vanguard wants for blueprints of advanced technology, which would allow them to dominate the remaining human worlds.
    Now armed with the reason behind their attacks, the Destiny prepare to set out to warn the other members of the Watch still alive, and secure the caches and safehouses. Using the free station’s dockyards, they are able to repair and upgrade the Destiny, readying it for the perilous journey ahead. However, before they can leave, a beacon is planted somewhere on the base, alerting the Vanguard to the location of the ship. They discover that Oliver’s chief of security is the mole planted by the Vanguard, after they were unable to break any of the other Watch members. The Destiny aids in preparing the stations defense, but are going to leave before the Vanguard arrives in order to throw them off the trail. The Vanguard early and attack the station, but they themselves are suddenly ambushed by the Etek. After barely escaping with Oliver, Nicole, and two other workers, they discover that the Etek have invaded all of Industrial space, forcing the Destiny to flee beyond the line.

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