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The man regarded the terminals screen for a time before looking away. In the end, the result was always the same. He approached his cabin view port; opening it with the activation pad. Before him swam the vast heavens, dominated by a single white star. Its pure irridencence should have blinded, or been skewed by the motion of travel, yet it remained. The man always looks down at his belt, at his weapons. He removes his left gun from its holder and regards it with curiosity. Then looking into the heavens once again, he reaches through the view port with the gun in hand to discover this is no glass. The gun is always released into space, and he always watches it as it floats away; spiraling towards the white dwarf star.
The man regards the ghostly shadows lurking in the void, watching the man back. He leaves the view port and the monsters; walks to his stasis chamber and closes his eyes.
He pondered one thought.

"Who are the monsters in my dreams?"

* * *

Awakened by the alert emanating from a terminal at the end of the cabin, I climbed out of the sterile stasis chamber. Still groggy from sleep, I regarded my belt for a moment. It once held two weapons. Putting that thought aside, I answered an alert from the terminal. On screen sat Durandal's bright green logon insignia, set upon a black background. After keying the activation pad, his message came on screen.

Terminal #001 (Remote-override-access) 192.168.0.1

>View:

How are we feeling today? Drowsy, and confused? Good.
You should be used to that by now. Wipe the sleep out of those eyes, replace that empty clip, and listen up.
You"ve been in the confines of your "bed away from home" stasis chamber for about seven years here on board the Boomer, and things have changed quite a bit since you were gleefully romping around on board the Marathon.

Suffice it to say, I've intercepted a Pfhor transmission regarding a Rogue White Dwarf Star. Whats odd about a Rouge Star you ask? Aside from the simple physics of a star that orbits its galaxy on a transversal plane, it's also housing a Jjaro outpost world.

Excited, yes?

Indeed.

News of this planets existence spread fast. Over a millennia ago when the Jjaro left this galaxy; bound for who knows where, they left a truly impressive amount of data and technology behind.
Our tri-optic friends the Pfhor have the origins of their current systems rooted in bastardized versions of ancient Jjaro technology.

The U.E.S.G. fleets as well as The Pfhor's Battle group 3 are both on route to the planet. I'd bargain the U.E.S.G.'s interest only lies within strip mining the planet of valuable Jjaro technology to aid the war effort against the Pfhor.

In case you were asleep during our previous adventures, you would realize that the U.E.S.G. has had a long standing war with the Pfhor. Since that incident where the Pfhor destroyed Sol's first exo-solarsystem colony ship, things have just never been the same.

Recently, the human forces have suffered a number of defeats making their search for Jjaro technology considerably more feverish.

The Pfhor's slaver empirical structure was put into motion by the Pfhor's creators, the Jjaro. For this reason, I'd bet the Pfhor want this outpost world for both religious and technogical reasons.

If you could own a piece of Gods real estate, wouldn't you?

PgUp/PgDown/Arrows To Scroll Return/Enter To Acknowledge

I tapped the enter key to proceed on towards the next page of hypertext.

Terminal #001 (Remote-override-access) 192.168.0.1

Now, in the few precious hours of time we have prior to the calvery's arrival; your needed for a small task.

I need to gain network access to the Jjaro's computer database before the U.E.S.G. and our tri-cloptic buddies get their hands on them. Any portable Jjaro tech. you come across, try to drop a transport beacon on it so I can nabb it for study.

I'll provide you with some helpful uplink circuits for the Jjaro's communications arrays. The uplinks design specifications are based on my vast knowledge of the Pfhor computer systems.
The two are virtually alike, I'm hoping.

Your going to visit five or so of the main and secondary citadels, but first well have to deal with the planetary shield lattice. . .

PgUp/PgDown/Arrows To Scroll Return/Enter To Acknowledge

The text on screen halted for a moment, then continued.

Terminal #001 (Remote-override-access) 192.168.0.1

I'm going to use the Boomers weaponry to remove one of the field-sustaining satellites from orbit. Endo-solarsystem jumps are incredibly dangerous. Therefore, I'll have to divert most of my processing power towards the task. Hang on.
PgUp/PgDown/Arrows To Scroll Return/Enter To Acknowledge

There was a bright flash of light from the bow of the Boomer; lighting up much of the atmosphere below. For the space of a few seconds, the intricate lattice work of satellites and force shields went dark. Everything began to slow; the beating of my heart, the flickering of the cabin lights, the tightening of my hands on the wall railing.

Then as quickly as it began, it was over. The lattice work of satellites had regained and redistributed its power; simmering with ghostly iridescence. The ship was fast approaching an low orbit of the outpost world, inside the shields perimeter.

The thick cloud cover obstructed the view of the planet, but dark kilometers of land could be made out against the brown cloud earth.

A new message appeared on screen.

Terminal #001 (Remote-override-access) 192.168.0.1

See you around the citadel my friend; there's work to do. Do check any operating terminals for messages from yours truly; I'll keep you informed on the situation in orbit.

-Durandal

>Logout Disconnecting. . .

The last image visible was Durandal's logout symbol. My world then became a whirring disc of noise.

* * *

The world came back into view as atoms were reassembled after transport. The roar of noise was deafening. I landed upon ancient stone bathed in soft, brown light.

After quickly surveying my insertion point for uplink locations, terminals, or danger; I allowed myself to take in the scope of the structure I was within.

I appeared to be in an outer room of one of the citadels. It's vaulted ceiling stretched so high, it receded into darkness. The cathedral-like windows allowed a broad view of the white light filtering down though the dense layer of brown cloud cover. Surrounding the citadel where I was located were numerous other towers of similar design.
Located kilometers away in all directions, they were dark shapes standing alone against the brown, overcast sky.

Then began the search for uplink points where Durandal's uplink circuitry could be installed. Proceeding away from the outer halls of the cathedral, I working my way up, and closer to the central core that should run the height of any building.

* * *

The following hours passed in a blur. I became more machine than man; running down endless chambers and halls, platforms and stairs. Installing uplink circuitry in sub-station after sub-station; one after another until my task was complete.
The world would then disappear into the familiar roaring disc of noise. I would be transported to the next citadel, and repeat the same task.

* * *

As I ran through another endless series of halls, I picked up the sight of a lit terminal. Surrounded by a bank of flickering and deactivated monitors, it prominently displayed the green logon symbol of Durandal. After touching a metallic pad, the symbol was replaced with a message.

Sub-Junction#12 (Remote-override-access) 168.201.61.7-- 192.168.0.1

>View:

Salutations from low orbit; our friends at the U.E.S.G. have shown up with a large contingency of ships.
The same can be said for the Pfhor's Battle Group 3.

I've managed to avoid their sensors by maintaining a tricky elliptical orbit, but it won"t evade them for long.

I could entertain you with a witty and insightful account of the events of the past few hours, but we don"t have the time to squander.

Currently, a battle is raging a few thousand kilometers off the Boomers aft quarter between the opposing forces.
Point being, your have less than 5 minuets before your going to be swarmed with the combined ground based forces of the U.E.S.G. and the Pfhor.

I need one final uplink installed in a minor Citadel in the Southern-most continent.

Be swift or be dead they say.

-Durandal

>Logout Disconnecting. . .

With the beep of logout, the ever familiar roar filled my ears with noise as I was transported to the next destination.

* * *

I was running before I hit the floor from transport. Carrying nothing lest my remaining weapon and the final uplink circuit, I made my way past vast banks of information. Many contained boxes filled with paper-like cards; others with dusty Jjaro hardware. There wasn't time to place transport beacons. Every second counted.

As a spiral stone staircase was ascended, I glanced out the dusty windows towards the horizon. The sky seemed to briefly lighten as fire rained down upon the earth below. Fragments of what must have been the force shield satellites fell from the heavens; burning iridescent blue and white.
Within moments of the planetary shields failure, the sky became stippled by hundreds of troop drop ships.
The legions of troopers poured out like ants across the citadels from their transports. My anxiety began to mount.

Onward, up the staircase I ran, through gateways, and halls. Onward, into the fray.

The Pfhor forces were already overwhelming the U.E.S.G. troopers. Many lay dead or dying; riddled with alien gun fire.

"I must concentrate on my task..." I muttered to myself over and over again.
I couldn't let myself be distracted from installing the uplink circuit.

A lightly armored Pfhor fighter ran to attack me, warbling in its strange tounge. In one swift motion, I raised and brought down my armored fist; throwing it aside and down a flight of stairs.

I ran onward, clutching the uplink circuit within my left hand.

Higher up into the citadel, the U.E.S.G. had forged a battlefield stronghold by toppling crumbling support columns into a makeshift blockade. A small contingency of frightened looking men seemed to he holding off most of the onslaught of hunter's bolts and gunfire.
Sidestepping, I quickly ran towards a particularly sunken ridge near the men. I managed to make it up, and over the fallen stone to relative safety.

I landed amidst the dead of the human forces, seemingly those who had fallen holding this barricade. Quickly I scavenged for any ammunition or weapons available. Another military issue pistol was found in a dead mans grasp along with some scattered clips of half spent ammunitions.

My head raised up to see a crouched U.E.S.G soldier regarding me in fascinated horror. He screamed something incomprehensible, and too two wild shots directed at me. The body shielding took the brunt of the impact, sending me skidding for three meters.

Instinctively I drew my weapon and fired at the mans chest.

The effect was one that you might see in those old war movies. The man thumped against the wall, and made a series of pitiful gurgling sounds as he slid down the pitted stone.
His comrades realized by this time what was transpiring, for they all halted their fire upon the Pfhor. A brave few raised their weapons to bare on myself; arms shaking as they pressed themselves to the rocks.
In their second of indecision, the Pfhor were on top of them.
The fighters shockstaff's came to bare on the U.E.S.G troopers; sending them sprawling upon the floor. Many were dead before they hit the cobblestone ground.

The unbridled viscousness of the Pfhor's retaliation horrified even myself.

Countless battles won, defeat always on the horizon. When death arrives, it always comes brutally at the hands of the enemy.

Enraged, I dropped the uplink circuit; drew my remaining weapons, and let loose my fury upon the Pfhor.

The concussive force of the bullets against their light armor released their insides to the air. The hoard of creatures, with eyes glistening with hatred and religious fever, charged. Their fighters fell one after another at my hands.

Soon, the room was silent; filled only with spent casings and the bodies of the fallen.
I stood amidst the violence and distant sounds of battle, comprehending the scope of what I have caused. Again. And again, and again. I am the Manus Celer Dei. The swift hand of God -

I was awakened from my stupor by the shattering noise from a nearby Citadel.

Moments before it was covered with U.E.S.G. troopships; men and women retaking what they believed was rightfully theirs.
Now, a immense orbital strike from the Pfhor had reduced the structure to carbon vapors and rubble.
I grabbed the discarded uplink chip from the gore around me, and retreated further up the Citadel. Nearing the top where the main array of the structure was, I found my goal.
The subsystem of what once was a Jjaro communications array.

Working with the arcane circuitry of the array, I managed to solder the circuits in place.
Another detonation resounded through the empty hall, shaking the building to its foundations.
The welcomed log on symbol of Durandal briefly flashed on a nearby screen, amidst a bank of dusty terminals.
Touching a metallic pad, the message from Durandal came on screen.

Comm.-Array#56 (Remote-override-access) 168.201.61.7

>View:

Excellent work with the uplink circuitry my friend. I have everything that I need, or may ever want thanks to our endeavors here.

I say we leave this party before we start to feel unwelcome.

Don't you agree?

Yes, I thought you would.

See you on the other side of Sol; prepare for transport.

-Durandal

>Logout Disconnecting. . .

The Roaring disc of noise enveloped my senses as I was dissembled atom by atom for transport; in the space of a millisecond.

I'll never get use to this.

* * *

The man stood in his cabin, staring out into the void. His view port window still open, an eerie, rising music seemed to drift in from the heavens.

"It has an underlying sound of wind chimes", the man thought.

Outside, the white dwarf star stood ever present, and he no longer wondered why it was so stationary. It was familiar as if from a dream, yet profoundly different.

There were no longer ghostly shadows in the void.
After a time, he noticed a single word prominently displayed on his cabins terminal, written in white:



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The man approached the screen, and it went black. It then displayed a familiar statement.



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He regarded the message for a long time before answering.

"I don't know". He stated to the terminal.

The screen again went black, then was replaced by a new message.

He regarded the message for a long time before answering.

"I don't know". He stated to the terminal.

The screen again went black, then was replaced by a new message.



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With that, the man and his world disappeared into a roar of noise and light.

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