Discussion Thread Earth Orbit, 400 km above Earth – October, 4th 1957 Slowly it moved around on its orbit, the four long antennas slowly swinging out, even two hours after it had been served from the last stage of its R-7 rocket. Sputnik 1 followed along on its orbit, never even slightly noticing the slight changes around it as it speed over America. Far away from it stars changed alignments in such a way that while they appeared to be the same as always they weren't. ---------------------------------------------------- Paranal Observatory, Chile – Monday May, 16th 2005 11.20PM UTC-4 Martin Winters had to suppress a loud yawn as he leaned back in his seat in front of Antu, the first mirror of the VLT, waiting for the image to load up to his system. He would rather take a closer look to the Magellan Clouds for his latest project, but someone had gotten some time on Antu to do some IR images of an area towards the galactic pane. Winters sighed, why that was more important than catching some goo images of the recent supernova, he never knew. Slowly his small finger moved towards his nose, pushing into the right nostril to try and catch that booger that was annoying him for the last hours. As he picked his nose, his eyes fell to the screen and the display on it. He blinked a few times as he noticed something that shouldn't be there. His finger still in his right nostril, he leaned forward and looked at the hazy warm blob that was close to the edge of the screen where nothing should be, somewhere in the general direction of the Moon. His eyes narrowed as he pulled his finger from his nostril, having managed to catch the booger and his other hand moved to his mouse to zoom in on the warm blob that shouldn't be there. Slowly the image pulled up from the insane amount of data that originated from Antu. Winters blinked. Was that a white hot spot inside the blob? ---------------------------------------------------- Norad Space Command, USA – Monday May,16th 2005, 9.21PM UTC-6 "What the hell was that?" General David Mathews asked out loud as he glared at the display, while the technicians were working around him. Whatever it had been just had killed off two Keyhole satellites. "Looks like an EM Pulse," one of the technicians noted. Mathews looked over to the technicians and walked up behind him, before taking a glance at the display. It was showing a rather EM spectrum with a very large peak in the middle. "EMP?" he wondered and looked up at the large display that dominated the far wall of the control room, trying to make out anything that might have caused the Pulse. The technician nodded. "It came from the general direction of the Moon, sir." "Was there anything planned?" he wondered out loud." Did the Chinese try something with that Probe of theirs?" Only a few days ago China had launched a Probe to the moon, officially to take a few imaged for their lunar program, not that they any further than the USA. "Possible." Mathews frowned. "Keep me up," he said and patted the technician on the shoulder, before walking back into his office, trying to get some info from someone else. ------------------------- Pirate Dropship Drakon Pirate point between Planet III and IIIa System S3-19570410 16 May 3020 “Holy mother of God,” Captain Burgess Hale whispered. Despite a religious upbringing, he didn’t believe in God. His former life as a Federated Suns officer and current life as a pirate had been one long hard scrabble struggle. If God existed, he obviously didn’t give a damn about humanity, let alone one disgraced former member of the AFFS. Only now it looked like God had decided to smile on Hale and his rag tag group of pirates. Here before him was the motherload every pirate dreamed of. Rich enough and heavily industrialized enough to that his people could actually be picky about what they took. And if the smattering of transmissions that they had sampled were anything to go by, primitive enough to be a cake walk. The only problem was a persistent sense of déjà vu. Hale couldn’t help but feel that he had seen this planet somewhere before. But that was impossible. He was in the middle of the Grantville Cluster, a cluster of stars over fifty lightyears across just off the Outworlds Alliance that everyone knew was devoid of any inhabitable worlds. This made the cluster a handy place for pirates to lay low between raids. And that’s just what Hale had been doing when they started picking up radio transmissions from this system. On a lark, he had decided to investigate, hoping for maybe some lost Star League cache. And it looked like he had hit pay dirt. “Prep for jumpship separation, boys and girls,” he told everyone. “It’s party time!” He took one last look at the planet’s image, still haunted by that nagging familiarity. He pushed it to the back of his mind. Whatever it was, it couldn’t be important. ---------------------------------------------------- Paranal Observatory, Chile – Monday May, 16th 2005 11.30PM UTC-4 Martin Winters all but stared at the display in front of him and the metallic shape in its center. At the moment he was pretty much locked in this location, unable to really think of anything he could do besides stare at it. The ship that was shown in the center of the image that filled the 22 inch display was cylindric in shape with a rounded bow and several spines extending from the rear. Right at the moment Antu had made the image, the ship had been firing its maneuvering thrusters, illuminating the hull even more. Next to the larger ship was a smaller object that looked more spherical, a bright glow from its end showing that some sort of engine fired to propel it towards Earth. "Hey, nice render," he heard a German accented voice behind him. " I didn't know that you're a Battle tech fan." "Wha?" was Winters intelligent response as he turned around to face Tobias Wamsler. The nerdy German smirked a little and patted his shoulder, before moving his facer closer to the screen. "Wow," he made." That's one realistic model of an Invader class." Winters blinked rapidly a few times and stared at the display, only to move towards Wamsler after a moment. "Hah?" Wamsler didn't seem to notice. "Hoooo," he noted." And that looks like a Union. Look at the battle damage. Wow..." He turned around to look into the disbelieving face of Winters. "You really need to tell me where you found it. DeviantArt?" Winters stared some more, before his hand automatically moved to his mouse, zooming the image out and showing it in the controls of Antu. Wamsler blinked. And blinked again. "You mean..." he began turning towards Winters, who simply nodded. "Oh frack..." ------------------------- Washington DC United States of America Earth 16 May 2005, 11:45pm EST President Jack Ryan Sir. fought a yawn as he sat in the situation room. Slowly his eyes glazed over the room, taking in his various staff members. He didn't know what was going on, but it had to be damned important. He'd just gotten back from a week long visit to China to normalize relations with the new, more democratic, government and was very tired. He'd never found it easy to deal with long flights, and after 13 hours of jetlag and a 15 hour flight to sleep of he'd asked everyone to let this sleeping dog lie. Part of him was annoyed, but he also knew that this was probably damned important. The Joint Chiefs all were dancing in their seats like nervous school kids and MP looked like she was about to pass a diamond. It could almost be described as funny if it wasn't so foreboding. Taking a deep breath he began the meeting. "Alright, tell me what we're looking at." "At 11.20PM Eastern Standard time NORD detected a massive electromagnetic burst at the Lagrange Point between Earth and the Moon," The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff began, "This has been is confirmed by the Paranal Observatory in Chile. They've also taken pictures of a pair of unidentified flying objects. The larger of which is a roughly cylindrical shape approximately five hundred in length. The smaller is a spherical craft eighty meters meters wide. It is expected to reach Low Earth Orbit in three hours.": "Wait a moment," Jack cut in. This better not be some kind of prank on the president. He knew that they'd never do such a thing, but even that seemed more likely than aliens. "Craft? Are you sure?" "Both shapes are obvious artificial. The larger of the two craft has hence deployed what looks to be a massive Solar Array while the smaller of the two detached from the larger and is making use of what spectrographic analysis has deemed to be a pure hydrogen fusion reaction for propulsion." Jack frowned and said the only thing that he could even think of in response. "Aliens." "Looks like it, sir, but it gets stranger." The PotUS smiled wearily. "I think that the only way that things could get any stranger if is the Second Coming of Christ walked through the Door and introduced himself like Fonzie." Muted laughter filled the room. "Sir, the images from Paranal are on your desk. We haven't received any others yet, but NASA says that they're putting the Hubble right on it, and its my guess that by the end of the night every telescope on the planet is going to be looking at it," the Chairman paused for a moment, "The people from Paranal attached several images that make things entire situation just that much more confusing." "Such as?" "Look for yourself sir." The President nodded and opened the file before him and looked through the file before him. The two UFOs seemed very familiar to him and he didn't know why. As strange as it seemed it was like he'd seen them before somewhere. Shaking his head he continued to look through the file until he reached scans from of all things, a war gaming book. One he'd once owned to be exact. Battletech Technical Readouts of the Union Class Dropship and the Invader class Jumpship. Two entirely fictional images that exactly matched the two ships now in High Earth Orbit. It has been years since he'd played the game. It was something he'd left behind once he'd been promoted in the Agency and no longer had time for. Jack Ryan looked at the others and nodded slightly. "Things have gotten stranger," He admitted. "Bring us to DEFCON 2." He paused for a moment, "And get Sally and Jack Jr. in here.' ------------------------- Norad Space Command, USA – Monday May,17th 2005, 3.01PM UTC-6 General David Mathews stared at the large situation room display. The smaller of the alien spaceships had just finished its second orbit around Earth and had yet to do more than just that. He shook his head, wondering what the heck the CIC was thinking. He couldn't actually believe that they were dealing with something straight out of science fiction, did he? Okay, perhaps this was a little science fiction, with a honest to god space ship just appearing close to the moon and a second one going into Earth orbit. Of course he had voiced his thoughts, when he heard about the CICs thoughts from the Pentagon. And someone had pointed out that according to the doppler radar, the spheric ship was moving at one Earth gravity. To Mathews that didn't mean much. That those aliens moved with a constant acceleration however did. It just showed how far advanced they were. "Sir," he was broken from his thoughts." The Dropship is breaking orbit." He frowned at the technician. After hearing what they were apparently tracking, they had taken to call it the 'Dropship', even if that just could not be. He looked up at the display again. At first he had hoped that it would go back to where it came from, but it seemed that it was going to deorbit over the Pacific. "Any idea where it will go down?" "Hard to tell," was his answer. "It could be nearly anywhere, with those engines they could take a longer flight at hypersonic speeds..." ------------------------------------ Pirate Dropship Drakon - Briefing Room One hour to Entry System S3-19570410 16 May 3020 Captain Hale swept his eyes over the assembled. To his left, his "Intelligence Officer" and captain of the Drakon, Reynold Mamoto was still listening to a muted audio stream. On his right Mechwarriors Tony Denaro, owner of one Commando, and Ken, the Stinger pilot, the were playing dice with infantry boss Leutnant Irdon Koltan. The third Mechwarrior, Dana Zumross, was absent, probably tinkering with her Hermes II as usual. Just as well, so long as she got to burn something, she was happy. "Let's start, Reynold. You had 3 hours to find me some targets." Hales opened the briefing. "This world is heavily industrialised, but practically undefended. There are no orbital defense installations, no fortresses. I've found some militia installation, but there is no trace of a Mech base. We can just drop down and choose what we want. They use some exotic codecs, but we had a good deal of them on file. From the intercepted transmissions there are no signs they have noticed us yet or that rhey are even looking. They seem to have forgotten all about space travel. ------------------------------------ Pirate Dropship Drakon - Bridge Low Orbit of planet III System S3-19570410 17 May 3020 “Man, look at all this junk,” Hugo Chin, pilot of the Drakon, said as he maneuvered the Dropship into orbit above the unnamed planet. “I’ve never seen so many satellites orbiting a rock in all my life. I don’t think even New Avalon or any of the other House capitals have this much stuff, not since the Second Succession War anyway.” “Big deal,” snorted sensors officer Jane Dietrich. “It’s all little stuff, com sats and stuff.” “You know, we could fill our holds with just the stuff sitting up here and still make a profit,” Chin speculated. “What, Hugo? And forgo the pleasure of having solid ground under our feet and something other than canned air to breath?” Captain Mamoto said as he propelled himself onto the bridge in the microgravity environment. “Besides, we’re not exactly well stocked with vac suits. Who exactly is going to do the EVA to grab a bunch of satellites? Our esteemed mechwarriors in their mechs?” Chin shrugged. “I was just saying, skipper…” “Never you mind that,” Mamoto said, ending the dialogue. “Jane, any signs that they’ve noticed us?” “You mean other than being pinged by several dozen radar sources practically since we detached from the Elephant?” Jane said sarcastically. “Noooo, none at all, skipper.” “Oh, good,” Mamoto said, completely oblivious to the sarcasm. “Okay, Hugo, take us down. We’re going with landing point C.” ------------------------------------ NORAD Space Command United States of America Earth 17 May 2005 “No effing way,” muttered Lieutenant Thomas Warner as he stared at the first high resolution photographs of the alien intruder from the spy satellites in orbit. He had been hearing outrageous rumors about the alien spacecraft coming it, but he hadn’t believed them. The similarity of the alien bogey to any fictional spacecraft couldn’t be anything but a coincidence. Then he saw these pictures. The spherical ship looked beat up and worn, its paintjob scored with what looked like burn marks and minor cratering. But even so, Warner could make out the faded insignia painted on the side, a red and gold sunburst with an upright sword across it. On top of the logo was a more freshly painted black X that appeared to have been hand drawn. But what really drew Warner’s eyes were the blocky English style lettering and numbering adorning the hull. “General!” ------------------------------------ Bridge U.S.S. Nimitz Pacific Theater Earth 17 May 2005 “They can’t be serious,” Admiral Roger Corman said as he stared at the printout of the message from PACCOM. “Sir?” Captain Ben Grayson, the Nimitz’s nominal CO, said. “What’s going on?” “We’re being ordered to prepare for a ground strike with heavy air cover in New Zealand,” Corman replied. “But that’s sixteen hundred miles away,” Grayson protested. “That’s barely inside the operational range of our Hornets. And why are we attacking New Zealand anyway?” “We’re not,” Corman said disgustedly. “According to this,” he waved the message, “New Zealand is about to be invaded by aliens and we’re the closest carrier group that can respond.” “No offense, sir, but this has got to be a joke,” Grayson said doubtfully. “Joke or not, we have our orders,” Corman replied. “Prep the strike, Captain. In the meantime, I’m calling PACCOM and confirming our orders.” ------------------------------------ Cornwall Park Aukland, New Zealand Earth It was a beautiful and sunny day for the people visiting Cornwall Park that day. The first thing most people noticed was the distant roar not unlike that from a jet plane, if a little deeper than normal. Some people looked up and saw a brilliant spot of light that appeared to not be moving very much unlike most jets. But the light grew brighter, attracted more attention from people on the ground. And as the light and sound grew unbearable, a hot wind began to pick up and it slowly dawned on the onlookers that the whatever-it-was was descending towards them. At first one by one and then soon in a mass stampede, people began running away from the descending UFO. Most of them even survived. The Dropship Drakon landed in the park. The column of fusion fire underneath it brought the thirty five hundred ton vessel to a soft landing, its power digging out a crater in the dirt beneath it and utterly annihilating any living thing unfortunate enough to be caught there. ------------------------------------ Dropship Drakon 17 May 3020 “Touchdown in thirty seconds,” Mamoto’s voice said over the intercom. “Why an island?” Mechwarrior Dana Zumross said suddenly as she sat in the cockpit of her Hermes II. “What?” someone else said, confused. “Why are we landing on an island,” Dana asked again. “Why not on the mainland near richer pickings? Why a rinky dink island in the middle of nowhere?” “Well, darling,” Ken, the Stinger pilot replied, “if you actually bothered to come to the meetings, then you’d know, wouldn’t you?” “Stuff it, dickwad.,” Dana told him, annoyed. “Just tell me.” “Twenty seconds,” Mamoto said. “It’s simple really,” Hale broke in before the two began squabbling. “Despite being a ‘rinky dink little island’, the target I have in mind has enough loot sitting in the open that we could stuff the Drak’s holds full and still not get everything.” “Ten seconds, Nine…” “And besides,” Hale continued, ignoring the countdown, “there’s only the one militia base in the area. Now we can probably handle anything the locals can throw at us, but we’re not exactly drowning in spares as is, so I want the damage to our mechs minimized.” “…three, two…” “Gotcha boss.” “…touchdown!” Mamoto cried as the muted engine roar cut off. The mechwarriors could all feel the Drakon settle down gently… and then lurch violently to the side. Luckily, the mechs were all still in their cradles, so they weren’t tossed around like giant rag dolls. A few seconds of mass cursings filled the comm channels during which Hale noticed that the floor of the bay was now a thirty degree slope. “Mamoto, what the hell happened?” Hale demanded furiously. “Er, sorry about that,” Mamoto replied. “Apparently the ground isn’t as solid as it looks. I think one of my landing feet is in a sewer. But don’t worry! The doors are clear and we can take off again with no problem.” “We better,” Hale growled. “Okay, open the doors and let us out.” The mech cradle released Hale’s Hunchback, and he carefully piloted it across the now uneven floor to the opening hatch. As he stepped outside, Hale was followed by the rest of his lance. The ground and some of the nearer building appeared to have been damaged by the Dropship’s landing, but there were no militia forces to greet him. That was good. “Okay people, let’s do this by the numbers,” Hale said once the quick spot check was done. “The target area is roughly north of the LZ. Form up on me and…” The other three mechs of his lance dashed past him at their best speeds. “Dammit!” As he put his bigger and slower mech into a run after his errant pilots, Hale decided that he really needed to work on unit discipline. He was just glad that his choice of targets was unlikely to kill his people for their stupidity. ------------------------------------ May 17, 2005 Auckland, New Zealand "You know, this is absolutely the last time I volunteer for an easy Annual Training in a friendly country" Sergeant Tony Dansel remarked as he watched the Mechs stomp across the port facility while the detachment he had ended up in charge of cowered behind a building. "Oh, and all of you who have ever given me shit for what I read owe me a dozen drinks." "What, just because you read about giant robots?" Private Jim Johnson said snidely. "No, because I read about these giant robots. It's sure as hell not a publicity stunt or anything cooked up on Earth, because you could feel the ground shake when that thing touched down, and no one has anything that big that can do reentry like that. So the simplest explanation is probably some combination of an alternate universe and time travel. Well, maybe aliens with a perverse sense of humor" Dansel said, as he continued trying to dial anyone in his chain of command. "Simplest?!" "What do you know anyone today who has giant robots, with beam weapons like what took out that news copter, that happen to look like a kludge of two separate Japanese animation franchises that were used wholesale as the basis for a board game? Oh well, on to practicalities. Anyone manage to get through to higher?" A chorus of negative replies ensued with a sarcastic follow up "Nope, they said they're in a meeting holed up in the TOC before they left for the day. Of course, no one told them that isn't supposed to stand for Teenagers Only Club." "Naturally. And our weapons are still back at the barracks, without ammo, and wouldn't dent those things anyway. It's a shame really, these jerks are so spread out they can't really cover each other. Why couldn't this have happened next week when the Cav brigade would be here?" "You have a clue what's going on then mate?" A quiet voice breathed in Dansel's ear. He turned around to find a dozen men in urban camo, not quite pointing their weapons at his people. "Only about as much as your average intel puke probably. From their actions, they're hostile, from their numbers, equipment, and poorly painted over insignia, some kind of pirates, probably mostly independent. I don't suppose any of you are familiar with Battletech?" The smallest of the newcomers piped up "What, like that Mechwarrior computer game?" "Exactly. Giant Robots, distant future, sucks even more than usual to be infantry. Your best bet would probably be to use explosives on any leg joint you can reach. Only trouble is the whole getting spotted and dying bit. Well that, and my people don't have explosives, training, or a surplus of balls. Sergeant Dansel, US Army Reserve by the way." "Captain Lewis, Australian SAS. I think we might be able to provide the last three. Your bollocks shortage wouldn't extend to covering a distraction perchance?" "Well Captain, that depends on how much expensive equipment we can get away with breaking." ------------------------------------ May 17, 2005 Auckland, New Zealand Northern Motorway Gloria Freeman gaped at the sight of the sight of the soldiers grouping up alongside the side of the mptprway. "What do you think they're doing, Neddy?" He looked at them as they jumped over the edge of the edge, ropes trailing behind them. "I don't know. Training?" A loud bang emanated from beneath them. "Jesus," she swore. "What are they doing?" Looking out the window into the park, she swore again as she saw the giant robots in the park turning to look at the freeway. "Jesus!" One of them opened fire on the freeway, blasting holes through the road with its lasers, and reducing a car in front of them to pieces. "Jesus, Neddy!" She pressed down hard on the accellerator, trying to get away from the sounds of fighting as soon as possible. "Oh, Jesus!"