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    Guest started a topic (GD) A short story...

    (GD) A short story...

    A Hero’s Name

    Captain Mark Mallory winced as the creaking sound assailed his ears. Freedom Quest was an old ship and she showed it. She first left dry dock nearly two hundred years before and had served well through many upgrades and three major wars. Still to this day, she was the largest and most powerful battle cruiser ever built. Her sister ship, Liberty Quest was destroyed before completion. Debris from that attack still orbited Mars.
    Mallory was the twenty-ninth officer to captain the magnificent warship and he would be the last. Just moments before, the ship had embarked on the return from its last mission. Two weeks from now the ship would dock at the naval yard over Mars and be decommissioned, stripped down and scrapped to be used for new ships.
    A shiver of sadness coursed through Captain Mallory as he stared out of the view port over the nearly mile long hull of his beloved ship. He would miss her greatly. Admiral Reagan had promised Mallory the command of the ship that was to replace the Freedom Quest but somehow, he felt that it wouldn’t be the same. He didn’t even know what the new ship would look like but the name had echoed in his mind ever since that meeting. Liberty Avenger, a very unique name for what was rumored to be a very unique ship. For some reason, Mark Mallory had his doubts. He knew a conflict was brewing and he had wanted to command the leviathan that he now controlled. His hopes of earning a place in history seemed to diminish with each second as they drove the giant cruiser towards the Sol system.
    With a sudden quick decision, Mallory turned and walked briskly over to the navigation area. “How far are we from the Wall?” He asked Jansen, the officer on duty.
    The officer glanced at his display before responding. “If we made a course change now, we’d be there in four hours. Total deviation time would be about seven hours.”
    Mallory nodded. “Make the change. I would like to see that one last time before we dock.”
    The officer smiled and nodded. “I’m on it.” He too shared the love for the ship that his Captain did.
    Within moments, the ancient war machine creaked as her course was adjusted. The blurred maelstrom of hyperspace shifted in a way that created a beautiful tapestry of light for the bridge crew. The dazzling display soothed Mallory’s troubled feelings somewhat giving him a glimmer of hope.
    “I’ll be in my cabin. Let me know when we are ten minutes out.” Mallory said to his first officer. “You’re in charge.”
    Commander Henderson nodded. “Yes sir.” Her bright voice sang. “I’ll alert you personally.”
    Mallory smiled and nodded. “Thanks.” He palmed the control to the hatch and left the bridge. The causeways were quiet with very few people speaking to one another. Mallory noted that he wasn’t the only depressed crewmember on board. He reached the lifts and dialed in level forty-one, the next level down. A couple of seconds later, he stepped from the lift and walked to his cabin. Once inside, he lay down on the wide bunk and allowed himself to doze.

    The door signal awoke Mallory from a fitful sleep. Reaching over to the wall control he pressed the open button. The door slid open to reveal Commander Henderson waiting patiently.
    “Come in Commander.” Mallory called out sleepily.
    Henderson came in and shut the hatch behind her. “We’ll reach the wall in an hour. I figured that you might want more time to wake up before we get there.” She said as she sat down next to Mallory. “Sir? Will I be serving with you on the new ship?”
    Mallory and Henderson had enjoyed both a professional and a personal relationship together. Such a situation was not against regulations as long as it didn’t interfere with the operations of the vessel. “I’ve put the request in Deb. All we can do is wait for personnel to approve it.”
    Deborah Henderson smiled as she leaned over and kissed Mallory full on the lips. “Thank you sir.”
    Mallory felt a stirring of desire. “I need to shower before returning to the bridge. Care to join me?”
    Deborah smiled in return as she began unbuttoning her uniform blouse. Mallory stood up and palmed the lock on the door.

    On the bridge, Lieutenant Castaba watched as the counter neared zero. As the readout found the nil mark, he pressed gently down on the control pad. The hyper drive disengaged bringing the massive war ship to sub-light speed. Through the forward observation blister, Castaba could see a speck of reflected light several million miles away.
    He’d never seen the Wall in person before and even from the distance he was stunned at the sheer magnitude of the structure. It was a memorial to dwarf all other memorials.
    Just as he was about to call the Captain on the intercom, Mallory and Henderson walked onto the bridge. Castaba hid his smile at the flush sexual glow of Commander Henderson. Her skin radiated in the way that only a woman’s skin can. He was happy for Henderson and Mallory. They needed each other more than most couples.
    Mallory sat down in his command chair. He was quiet as the ship neared the monument to the dead. The Wall was a solid sheet of armor plate nearly one hundred miles in length and over a mile high. It had been made nearly three centuries before out of the left over debris from a great battle that had been fought here. The names of the Allied dead were laser burned into the surface as a lasting reminder of the hero’s that fought here to save mankind. What was little known was that on the galactic north edge of the sheet of plating, one of the craftsmen wrote a short cryptic message so long before. It read, [Hero from the first, hero to the last. Always to be remembered.]
    As Freedom Quest slowed to a crawl along side the massive memorial, Mallory asked for a moment of silence for the dead. Only the sounds of the ship could be heard along the corridors and bulkheads of the leviathan. Mallory uttered his thanks just as an insistent beeping sounded from nearby.
    A young officer looked at his board then turned quickly in his chair. “Sir! Several dozen ships approaching from behind us.”
    Mallory nodded. It was probably others who came to view the wall. “Send a greeting to them.”
    Before the communications officer could do so, the young weapons officer called out. “Sir, they seem to be moving into an attack chevron. Their speed has increased.”
    “Shields! Prepare to repel attack!” Mallory shouted as he hit the combat alarm. The shrill screech echoed through the ship as the shields were activated. A moment later, phased particle beams splashed against the energy barrier protecting the ship.
    “Return fire!” Mallory called out.
    Pulsed laser fire arced out from the hull in a dazzling display of light. The powerful energy ripped into the shielding of the enemy ships causing one to explode. Suddenly, the ships veered off away from the guns of Mallory’s ship.
    He turned to the combat officer. “What happened?”
    The young man shook his head. “I’m not sure sir. Wait! They dropped something.” The man scanned the object. “Oh no! It’s a disruption bomb! Stand by for impact!”
    Everyone grabbed onto supports or chairs as the bomb contacted the shield. It detonated with a shattering shockwave that pummeled the crew hard.
    “Shields are down! Shields are down!” The Combat Officer shouted.
    Mallory hit the intercom button. “All guns fire upon bearing! Prepare to repel boarders!” He pushed another button that opened a compartment under his chair. He grabbed the carbine and several power units from the space.
    The others on the bridge were making similar preparations with various weapons suited for their skills.
    The Combat Officer called out again. “Incoming! Another bomb!”
    Mallory cringed and said an ancient oath. “Shit!”
    The gunners tried desperately to hit the bomb with their cannon but to no avail. The unit was far too small and moving far to fast. It impacted the hull with a thud before blowing up. Mallory watched in horror as the blast rippled across the hull with debris blowing away from the superstructure behind the wave front into a cloud of death.
    Decompression alarms echoed from the speakers on the bridge. At that moment Mallory knew his ship was in deep trouble. Alarms sounded throughout the ship as decompression shields activated and pressure doors dropped. Through the cloud of debris, Mallory saw the specks of light that were the assault craft bringing invaders to his once magnificent ship.
    Bright flares of cutting lasers assailed Mallory’s eyes as the enemy began to cut through his hull.
    Mallory turned to Castaba. “Any ID on those ships?”
    Castaba shook his head. “No sir. I’ve never seen anything like them and there is nothing in the database regarding that hull design.”
    Just at that moment, the intercom crackled. “Intruders on deck thirty! Intruders on deck thirty!”
    Mallory hit the intercom button. “All available personnel repel boarders! Get them off of this ship!”
    Mallory looked again at the forward ports. Off in the distance, he could see one of the ships hanging back slightly. “Concentrate heavy cannon on that ship.”
    Almost immediately, a brilliant barrage of lasers and particle weapons was unleashed on the one ship. Mallory watched in satisfaction as smoke began to pour from it in great clouds. Moments later, the ship exploded as the main reactor core breached.
    The bridge access door opened to admit an officer with various scorch marks on his uniform. “Sir! Intruders are on every deck of the ship. They are gaining ground quickly.”
    Mallory nodded. “Secure the blast doors. Segregate the bridge and activate internal defenses.”
    “Aye sir.” The officer replied.
    Mallory sat on his chair and activated the intercom. “All personnel abandon ship.” He turned to the bridge crew. “Move us away from the Wall. Once we’re clear, get to the life pods.”
    Henderson’s sharp intake of breath alerted Mallory to her shock. “Don’t argue with me. Just do it.”
    Henderson began to argue but at the look on Mallory’s face, she relented. Before she left, she would have to tell him. She would have to be the last person off of the ship.
    All over the ship, escape pods rocketed from the hull. Thousands of crewmembers risked the emptiness of space over the sure death of the invaders.
    Slowly, the massive star ship began to move away from the Wall. A perverse trail of debris followed along with billowing smoke and ash. Though the blast doors, the sounds of an intense fight could be heard from the hallway. Mallory knew that they only had a little bit of time left.
    “Plot a course into the nearest star. We’ll have to scuttle the ship.” Mallory muttered.
    Jansen shook his head. “Nearest Star is nearly an hour away. There is a singularity less than fifteen minutes away.”
    Mallory grimaced. He really didn’t want to be stuck in the event horizon of a singularity when his death came but he didn’t have any choice. “Do it.”
    Jansen made the course corrections. “Okay. Course plotted. Awaiting your orders.”
    Mallory smiled in a sad way. “Not this time Jansen. Get to a life pod and get out of here. I’m taking this trip alone.”
    Jansen stood at attention and saluted Mallory. “Sir, it’s been an honor to serve with you. I’d like to remain at my post.”
    “I’m sorry Jansen. Earth is going to need good pilots and the more people that survive this the better. You have your orders.” Mallory said as he returned the salute smartly.
    Jansen held the salute for a moment longer then through the tears brimming in his eyes, he muttered, “Go with God sir.” He then turned to get to one of the emergency pods.
    One by one, the bridge crew saluted their Captain and said their good byes. Only Henderson remained. An insistent pounding on the blast door jarred the two from their inner thoughts.
    “You have to go Deborah.” Mallory said quietly.
    She nodded. “I know Mark.” She lowered her eyes. “I can’t leave just yet though. I’ll go with you until you reach the black hole.”
    He shook his head. “I’d prefer it if you left now.”
    “Mark, I can’t. Please. You need to know some things before I go.” She said pleadingly.
    He watched her for a few moments. “Alright. Take the command pod so you can get back to the Wall.”
    She nodded and slapped her hand down on the hyper drive activator. With a spine-chilling shriek, the Freedom Quest embarked on her last faster than light journey.

    Deborah stood in front of Mark and gazed into his eyes. “You can come with me you know.”
    He shook his head. “I can’t. I have to make sure that they don’t get control.”
    Deborah sighed. “I love you. I’m going to miss you dearly.”
    Mark averted his eyes. “I love you too. I should have married you a long time ago. I’m sorry.”
    Deborah smiled. “Don’t worry about it. I do have something I need to tell you though.”
    Mark frowned. “Hmmm?”
    Deborah put her hand on her belly. “You’re going to have a son.”
    He stood stunned for several moments. “How?”
    She laughed. “Oh, the usual way I suspect.”
    “I mean, I didn’t know.” He said. “I’ve always wanted a son.” His demeanor saddened. “I’ll never know him. When will he be born?”
    Deborah smiled. “Five months from now. The doctor told me yesterday. I was planning on telling you when we reached Earth.”
    Mark sat down on his command chair oblivious to the frantic pounding on the reinforced door less than a dozen meters away. “You know, I’ve always dreamed of being a hero. I guess I’ll never get to be one for my son.”
    Deborah shook her head. “Mark, you are a hero. Mark Mallory, the man who saved his crew on the last voyage of his ship. Your son will know that you truly are a great hero.” She pulled him from his chair and wrapped her arms around him. “He’ll also know just how deeply I love you.”
    Mark cried at that point. He held Deborah for the remaining minutes before he had to drop out of hyperspace. Reluctantly, he withdrew from her embrace to reach over and shut down the hyper drive. “You have to leave now.”
    Deborah nodded. “I know. I don’t want to though.”
    Mark pressed his hand gently on her stomach. “For him you must and for me you must.”
    He walked with her to the Command Pod. “I love you.” He said as she strapped in.
    She pulled him close and kissed him deeply. “I love you too my hero.”
    Mark withdrew and watched the hatch close between them. Moments later, he heard the charges that separated the pod from the ship. Racing back to the bridge, Mark watched as the pod raced away from the ship. Silently, he said his final goodbye to the woman who had stood by him in the best of times, and the worst.
    Mark moved to the ship controls and steered her towards the blurred empty spot in the heavens nearby. He then grabbed his rifle and prepared to defend the bridge from the unknown enemy that pounded on the nearly meter thick shield between them and victory. He settled in behind a console and awaited his foe. Minutes raced by as the pounding became louder. A dull red glow began to show in the middle of the door but it refused to give way to the enemy.
    A loud tone alerted Mark to the finality of his decision. He had just crossed the event horizon. The ship was doomed as was he. Nothing could pull them away from the awesome gravity of the singularity now.
    Suddenly a blast rent the air as the door finally gave way to the intruders. Mark blindly fired his weapon into the opening as smoke filled the air around him.

    Deborah watched from her pod. The mighty ship passed the event horizon and began to surge into the spiraling pull of gravity. Her sobs racked her body as she fought the emotional loss of the man who had been her soul mate.
    With great reluctance, she turned away as the ship disappeared into the glowing mist of doomed light. She swore to herself that no matter what, Mark Mallory would not be forgotten.
    The hyper drive engaged at her touch and she whisked away back to the Wall.

    15 years later:
    Two suited figures floated outside of the space ship over the singularity nearly a million miles away. One of the figures, a beautiful woman stared at the darkness with tears in her eyes. The younger man with her stared in awe and trepidation at the menacing view in front of him. Together, they held a hull metal plate between them. Attached to the plate was a buoy beacon and a set of maneuvering jets.
    The pair looked at the plate before releasing it. The inscription read: Hero from the first, hero to the last. Always to be remembered. Mark Mallory died here on the first day of the Sho’Tak invasion in order to save his crew and humanity. Little did he know just how important his sacrifice would be to the future.
    The pair released the small metal plate and watched as it floated away gently among the stars.
    “Mom? What was Dad really like?” The boy asked.
    Deborah looked over at her son and smiled through her tears. “He was a hero Mark. He was a wonderful hero.”
    Together, Mark Mallory Jr. and his mother returned to the nearby ship. The Fifteen-year-old Mallory’s Revenge stood guard over the pair. Once named Liberty Avenger, the ship had been renamed when the survivors of the attack reached Earth. She was the most powerful starship in existence.

    [ 11. December 2002, 23:56: Message edited by: Rebecca ]

  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    To be honest, not sure I've ever readany of your other works. But sci fi is always close to my heart, and this was a good one man. Thanks for sharing

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Thanks guys. The inspiration for that came from the dog go figure. Still haven't quite figured out how though.

    I'll put something together to post up here soon.

    Mike

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  • Rebecca
    replied
    It's great to see you writing again. I'm gonna have to get you to repost all your past works when you get the chance so we can resubmit them to the archives again. We lost all of them in the switchover. Good story, brother. I'm looking forward to your next writing project! [img]smile.gif[/img]

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Used to read lots of SI-FI. Had forgot how much I enjoyed it. Good short story, HR

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Indeed, Good story. Nice change going with the sci-fi this time. I re-read the Bobby's war thread about a month ago. Good stuff.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Pretty good.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Funny thing about the black hole.

    What an outside observer sees when a starship passes the event horizon is the ship start to stretch as relative time on the outside slows. Relative time because the gravity of the quantum singularity slows time. What is left is the image of the stretched ship but it does not dissapear entirely.

    And will not until the end of time.

    But inside of the event horizon, the time left before impact with the singularity is measured in tenths of a second depending on the solar mass of the black hole.

    Probably the best description comes from a novel called "Gateway" where the main character is forever in grief over a loved one who ended up in a black hole. To him, she was still in that black hole, and would be forever. But she lasted for a tenth of a second before being compressed into a molecule and much of her energy (and a ship and several other crew) released in a stream of radiation black holes are known to emit.

    They say that if a black hole were big enough, it can take a long time before hitting the singularity, and everything heads for it over time. Some say a galaxy has a black hole at the center.

    It is also said that you might be able to orbit the sigularity in a rotating black hole (some rotate, some don't) and in some cases the singularity itself revolves (ring singularity). If you orbit that ring against the rotation of the ring, you travel back in time. (So says the theory - but that is all in math anyway).

    I once wrote a space flight simulator program that simulated the inside of a black hole of sufficient solar mass where it takes some time to hit the singularity. I never got the black hole to work right though.

    I know the Dark Zone well.
    (some of you will get that).

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  • Hawk45
    replied
    Saved this one before it could get lost! LOL

    Thanks HR!

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  • krinkov
    replied
    and it was noticed somebody had scratched on the back of the wall of honor"KRINKOV WAS HERE" WINK!

    and the beat go's on...................

    take care,KRINK

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Its about damn time HR. Good short story. Thanks.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    uh... next installment? It's a short story bro! I'll come up with something for you guys soon.

    Mike

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Been waiting for another one of your stories Hard Rock...

    As usual, excellent read!

    When do we get the next installment?

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Short indeed, but good read tough.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Good story!

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