Hunting Party

Lieutenant Commander Terry Cindy Mayfair, commanding officer of the Hunter class destroyer HMS Wolfhound, was wearing greasy coveralls which stated out as khaki but now the original color could only be determined with some difficulty. Few would recognize Terry to be the elegant blue eyes and blond haired officer and princess of New Coventry. She presently had grease in both her face and hair although the grease on her coveralls dwarfed this.

Beside Lieutenant Commander Mayfair, Lieutenant Insall Tvek, the Wolfhound's chief engineer worked on the project as well. The chief engineer was a machine person and had agreed to help her with the project. Terry had found that her engineers natural ability with mechanical and electrical systems to be incredibly useful. She had managed to find several problems that Terry would have had to tear the whole system down to find.

The project that they were working on was a box style four cell missile for capital missiles. The launcher would be carried on the outside of a larger ship and would act in many ways like a small space craft and the launcher even carried a small propulsion system. The missile launcher carried minimal electronics and the flight control of the missile launchers and fire control for the missiles themselves would come from the starship that carried the missiles. Terry had calculated that the Wolfhound's fire control could handle four of the box launchers without overtaxing the Wolfhound's computers. The launchers would be physically attached to the ship’s hull when not deployed for firing. This would put the launchers under the ship’s shields and would give them some protection when not being used. Terry knew that if the system worked as well as she had hoped that they would vastly increase the number of capital missiles that her ship could fire at one time and would make a destroyer far more lethal. When you considered the greater capacity of a cruiser's computers, the larger ships would benefit greatly from this system as well. The missile launchers were relatively cheap and she was surprised that no one had considered the idea before. She pushed away a thought on how wealthy this project could make her.

She had funded the project with her own finances and the project was almost completely a private enterprise. She had drawn up the design herself and the chief engineer had only made a few minor revisions. The only part of the project coming from the New Coventry was the missiles themselves. Military class capitol missiles were virtually impossible for an individual, even a member of the planets royal family, to legally purchase. She discussed the use of Navy cruise missiles with her squadron commander and her father. They both thought that there would be no suggestion of misappropriation of government materials and she hoped that they were correct.

The project had started leisurely with work on the systems being done on their off time while the Wolfhound was in port at her assigned station at New Coventry's main orbital station. Lieutenant Commander Mayfair had rented a small work area because there was no space on the Wolfhound large enough except for one of the hanger bays and that would have required the removal of the fighters in that bay. No bow Terry and her chief engineer were racing to complete the project because in less than seventy-two hours, the Wolfhound was scheduled to pull out. They were on their last box launcher and should be complete, if there were no major bugs. So in the next few hours she was given time to ready her ship and crew for departure. As well, her mother had told her that her family would like to have her come down to the palace for a few hours before the Wolfhound departed. The message seemed to come as a parent requesting a few hours from her daughter not as New Coventry's Queen and Terry felt guilty about not visiting her family as often as she should.

The reason for the Wolfhound's hasty departure was that there had been reports of attacks on ships and colonies by UFO Intruder ships in the local area. New Coventry and Xanadu Station had agreed to send out several small groups to attempt to stop these raids. Plans were presently in the creation of four groups, each with a Xanadu Station heavy cruiser and four New Coventry Hunter class destroyers. The Wolfhound had been selected for one of these hunting parties. The organization of these hunting parties were still undecided but Terry hope that she could get her ship to be assigned to independent scouting instead of being tied to the large vessel. There would likely be a lot of discretion given to the captains assigned to scouting to decide if they should simply report back and wait for reinforcements or if they should engage the UFO vessels themselves.

Lieutenant Commander Mayfair had carefully examined the data available on the UFO alien ships and thought that one of these ships could be captured if the right technique could be used. Her chief engineer had told her that she could likely disable the self destruct system by merging with the system so they could get a ship intact. Terry had pulled a few favors and had requisitioned phase beamers instead of the pods her fighters normally carried. She also had unloaded a number of capitol missiles and replaced them with fusion warhead. She thought that they would be more likely to simply knock down the shields and not damage the ship than X-Ray laser warhead missiles. Consortium Intelligence had offered an incredible reward for the capture of a UFO ship and there would likely be discoveries for New Coventry engineers and scientists as well.

Well, any plans for capture would have to wait on getting the hydrogen feeds on the fusion reactor on this launcher set up properly.

All preparations for departure on the Wolfhound were done. The ship still had twenty-four hours before it was scheduled to depart. Terry had allowed most of her crew some liberty and had decided to take a few hours to visit her own family. She did not plan to take too many hours because she planned to relieve her executive officer so that he could get a few hours of liberty as well. One problem with ships with small crews was that when the ships were on standby, a good percentage of the crew had to stay onboard and she thought it only fair that she shared the duty as well.

Terry had considered wearing her uniform but had finally decided that wearing civilian attire would be the best choice. Her uniform could create layers of formality that she did not wish to intrude on her private time with her family. She could not resist wearing something that would attract attention. She wore a blue and white gown of the current style. The gown had a very low neckline, tight waist, and flowing skirt. One problem she had found with being back in New Coventry as apposed to serving in the Consortium Navy was that most men considered her to be unapproachable due to her royal status. Many of the ones that approached her were social climbers that she did not want to spend time with. Still,. She noted that the male guards gave her admiring glances as she climbed for the shuttle she had taken from the space station. She would have preferred to fly herself but, it was not practical.

Most people were in awe of the palace and its grounds but she had clear memories of playing around the castle and to her it was simply her family's home. Some things she missed. She wished that the shipboard cooks were as good as the palace cooks were. She had been told by her mother that the cooked had prepared curry beef which was one of her favorite meals. She had also been told that only family would be attending. Many of the nobles were greedy social climbers and far too many were very foppish and she got a headache trying to understand their double talk. She had gotten used to the generally blunt language of the Consortium Navy and was having a hard time adjusting back. It was not that there was no double talk in the Consortium Militaries but she still had an easier time with it.

As she got into the castle proper; her mother, her father, and her brothers and sisters were waiting for her just inside. The family went into the main dining room and the smell of the curry beef was delightful. She caught up on family gossip and the adventures of the younger members of the family. They went over Terry's time in the Consortium Navy and she told them about her present crew and how a Hunter differed in the social structure of the crew compared to a Warshield class cruiser. Finally, she told them about her trip to Xanadu Station and the battle that had occurred.

Terry's father finally said, "I am sorry I could not get you promoted over the engagement at Xanadu Station but too many of the nobles would consider it favoritism.

She had already knew that and replied "I understand, I realize that in some cases I may have to work harder for my rank than I would otherwise. I am sure that there will be other opportunities as well."

He said "I have to tell you that having a member of the Royal family serving as captain of a destroyer has made the royal family more popular and has raised support for the Prime Minister's expansion of New Coventry's Military forces. I hope to be able to talk to the Lord of the Admiralty into promoting you to full commander soon.

He changed the subject and asked "I understand that the Governor of Xanadu Station used to be a captain in the Consortium Navy and he only retired when he because Governor? I realize that the Consortium Navy is huge but have you ever served with him?"

Terry winced a bit at the question. She hoped that her father had not noticed. Vell Rankin was the Governor of Xanadu Station and she did not like the man but wanted to make sure that her own prejudices did not color her opinions. She imagined that he believed what he stated but she did not see his ideas as being practical especially the ideas of social engineering that he had been heard talking about in the past. She also considered him to be an individual who believed that the ends justified the means and that he would do virtually anything in pursuit of a goal. He had spoken against many practices and his statements contained all the politically correct statements that had been used to get the support of the crowd for the last thousand years. She was no longer a serving officer in the Consortium and neither was the Governor anymore so she could speak about him without causing any troubles. This was also a private discussion between two political figures. She decided that she would respond simply and allow her father to ask most questions to clarify the situation, "Dad, Vell Rankin was a captain in exploration command. The Fury was never assigned to exploration duties and was normally assigned either border patrol duties or assigned to a battle fleet as escort for a carrier or battleship." She projected into her tone of voice a certain dislike for the man but otherwise allowed her father to decide what to ask. He was very smart and would certainly know what the right questions to ask would be.

He said, "Due to the systems proximity and due to the systems powerful economy, Xanadu Station is one of New Coventry's most important allies. It is possible that this group know as the Robotech Expeditionary Force will become important allies in time but presently we need to know who we are dealing with. I realize that there is a strong reluctance on a junior officer to criticize a senior officer but I need to know all you know including even wild rumors. I have heard myself some information that seems troubling and need to verify what the truth is. This is the first chance I have had to ask you and your perception might give me some insight that my advisors do not have. Any information you give me, I will be very careful with and plan to tell only the prime minister if possible."

Terry replied "Dad, we are both out of service, problems about a junior officer taking about a senior officer is not a problem in this case. I am also talking to my father and it could even be said that I am speaking as a princess to the king." she paused for a few moments to collect her thoughts, "There has always been rumors and stories traveling around the fleet about him. This is actually pretty unusual because there is probably over ten thousand officers with the rank of captain in the Consortium Navy. The reason why there is some much discussion of him is because he gathered a large number of political connections over the years. He comes from one of the Utopia Worlds far from any border zone and unlike most officers from a Utopia World, he carried most of the planets values with him. Most officers I have met from Utopian Worlds never want to go back and consider the planets to stifle individuality. Vell Rankin often speaks out on creating a society were everyone has a better than average standard of living and that nationalizing the economy is the way of the future. As you can expect, most of his politically influential friends come from the more liberal elements of Consortium Society. While he has not spoken on the subject, this same political group are the same ones that want to keep down spending on the Consortium Armed Forces so that we do not antagonize the Trans-Galactic Empire and their legitimate border concerns. To be honest, he is not well liked by most Consortium Military Personnel due to his connections with the political parties which speak about making friends with our enemies instead of going to war with them. It was though his political connections that the Governor got his command in the first place. Fleet Command put him in exploration in the hope that they could forget about him. This is of course was how he was able to discover the disabled fleet and become the Governor after finding them a system to settle at. The only other item I know that is likely not in the records is that he has a friend who used to be one of the Consortium's best fighter pilots. The woman is some kind of mutant and was imprisoned for fraud. It was later found that she was innocent but she moved to Xanadu system and seems to be acting as one of his chief trainers. She might be a way to get to him outside of normal channels."

Terry's father nodded to her and changed the discussion to other subject.

The Wolfhound, along with three of her sisters, were preparing to enter Faster Than Light space. The group was the first one to leave the system but the other three groups were scheduled to leave withing the next few hours as well. The gravity of a star system inhibits the FTL drive and all contra-grav propelled starships had to go to the edge of the system under normal drive. The Hunters were suppose to link up with the Xanadu heavy cruiser in about three days in one of the systems that had been recently raided by the UFO aliens.

UFO Aliens were becoming a concern to the Consortium Armed Forces and Consortium Intelligence had provided some of their tracking data on the UFO Intruder ships so that they might be tracked more easily. Terry had already examined the data several times and hoped that she could work with her bridge crew to come up with a better way to track the alien vessels. Unlike larger vessels, she could work beside her crew without creating a familiarity that couple effect crew moral. Presently, UFO Intruder vessels could only be detected at what was a small fraction of normal tracking ranges. By training with the crew at what to spot and by some minor reprogramming of her sensors, she could likely increase the range which these ships could be detected but the ranges would still be very short compared to conventional engagements. She could likely further increase ranges by using her fighters to sweep for enemy ships but even then ranges would be limited. She was also concerned that data on the UFO aliens system might not hold up to predicted models at longer ranges and anything she did might be worse than useless. She planned to train heavily over the next few days using the projected data and so that was an important concern. She also planned to have a large number of gunnery drills based on close range engagements because it was likely that any encounter would be at very short range. She actually planned to start the first drill only a few minutes after the ship entered Faster Than Light travel.

Perry Officer Robbins, the Wolfhound's duty communication tech, reported "Captain, Commander Paige instructs that all vessels prepare to engage FTL drives in four minutes." Commander Piage was the commanding officer of the Dauntless and a full commander which put him in defacto command of the four hunter class destroyers.

When ordered, the Wolfhound's FTL drive activated smoothly. Terry waited a few more minutes and said "Mr Hummel, sound General Quarters" and the executive officer pulled opened the alarm box.

Three days later, the four destroyers dropped back from FTL Space. The system was still getting itself back in order after the UFO Intruder ship attacked. The drills had kept the entire crew of the Wolfhound, including her captain, very busy during the entire trip. Lieutenant Commander Mayfair was not yet satisfied with the results of the training but there was definite progress. The ranges on simulated detection had increased sixty-eight percent and the gunner crews snapshot firing was improving in both speed and accuracy. She was more sure than ever that her ship could capture a UFO intruder ship if operating solo and she planned to discuss this with the captain of the heavy cruiser if and when she had the chance. If she was in command of the fleet, she would divide all of the ships so they could cover more star system. In her examination of the data on UFO aliens, she had seen nothing that indicated that a New Coventry hunter would not be a match for a UFO Intruder vessel.

A message had been sent to the New Coventry ships that indicated that the captain wanted to meet all of the Hunter captains once they rendezvoused together. Terry planned to barrow one of her ship’s Black Eagle starfighters to go from her ship to the Xanadu vessel. While not a turbo-jockey, she considered herself to be a good pilot and quite capable of flying herself. Many other captains preferred to have another pilot fly them but Terry never particularly liked being a passenger on a fighter. She had qualified as a pilot for the new Black Eagle fighter but most of her experience was in the old Osprey class fighter. New Coventry was slowly replacing the old fighter with Black Eagle and Katana fighters but many Ospreys were still in service especially at ground bases. There had been a proposal for a new medium Starfighter design to replace the Osprey initially and preform the roles of both the Black Eagle and Katana fighter. The proposed design was suppose to be as fast in normal space as the Black Eagle, have heavy guns, carry a variable ordnance load out, have a faster than light drive, and be as modular as possible. She liked the light starfighter that New Coventry had developed while she was in the Consortium Navy. The Badger light starfighter had many advantage of the Consortium Scorpion light starfighter including, or maybe especially, the fact the New Coventry fighter carried shields but several other features were very nice as well. The Badger was streamlined for atmospheric use, carried secondary laser weapons, and had a larger load out of missiles that could be carried. She had only had a chance to fly the light fighter a few times but she had enjoyed each time. New Coventry had recently purchased a couple of dozen Spitfire class heavy starfighters which were being evaluated as a possible replacement for the Proctor class in New Coventry service. If the fighter was chosen, New Coventry planned to set up their own manufacturing facilities for the heavy fighter. What she had learned about the fighter indicated that it was an excellent design although she had not had a chance to fly the fighter herself. The fighter had been developed by Xanadu Station's best engineers with feedback from the pilot that was Vel Rankin's friend. The fighter was one of the fastest heavy fighters ever built and she was hoping to get a chance to fly the fighter in the near future.

The Wolfhound came to a stop relative to the Xanadu heavy cruiser. The heavy cruiser, the Gloire, was in a stable orbit around on of the planet which the UFO Aliens had raided. The Gloire was a heavy cruiser and Xanadu Station had originally considered the ship to be a battleship. The heavy cruisers shields were down, which surprised Terry because she expected that the UFO Intruders could strike anywhere in this area. A heavy cruiser was able to withstand and inflict a lot of damage but crew members would probably die if the ship took damage. Well, it was time to head over to the heavy cruiser. Commander Mayfair said "Comm, let the Gloire know that I am on the way. X.O., you have the bridge" and headed for her quarter to change into her jumpsuit which also would act as her flightsuit.

It only took Terry a few minutes to change and she was on her way to one of the Wolfhound's compact fighter bays. When she arrived in the bay, she did a careful walk around the fighter to see if there was anything wrong. She then got into the fighter and began a very careful pre-flight check. A pilot was taught from the beginning of pilot school to carefully check any craft they planned to use. All systems checked out and she strapped herself into the pilot’s seat. Sergeant Ivory Chavis, the senior mechanic for the Wolfhound's four fighters double checked Commander Mayfair's straps. It would not due to have something happen to the captain. As soon as the fighter’s systems were up to full power, Terry launched.

Compared to most full time fighter pilots, Terry only hot dogged a little bit. She did enjoy herself on the way to the Xanadu heavy cruiser and took advantage of the freedom the fighter gave her. The only problem was that the trip was over too quickly. Perhaps she should see about purchasing for herself a "Kitten" class trainer so she could get the enjoyment from flying a fighter more often. The Kitten was not as fast as a Katana or Black Eagle fighter but was still very fast and was very maneuverable. Well, she would have to look at her finances when she came home. As she approached the heavy cruiser, her fighter was caught by one of the larger ships tractor beams and pulled into the hanger bay.

All four New Coventry captains had been escorted into a large briefing room. There were no comparable sized compartments on the Wolfhound with the exception of the hanger bays when they were empty. Terry wondered why this room was chosen instead of smaller quarters such as the captain's office which was usually attached to the captain's stateroom on larger vessels such as heavy cruiser. Terry was concerned that this compartment was chosen to show the New Coventry officers how insignificant their forces were compared to those on Xanadu Station. Terry was also concerned with the fact that the Xanadu captain was behind schedule and they had been left waiting in this room for ten minutes already.

It was at least ten more minutes before Gloire's captain arrived. The captain was tall with black hair which she kept long. She wore a simple Xanadu ship’s jumpsuit which carried the rank of full captain. While hard to see, Terry thought she could see a look of disdain on the heavy cruiser's captains face. This disdain also could heard in the captain's voice "Welcome onboard the Gloire, I am Captain Brooke Jacobs. I am sorry about the delay but I had some engineering reports to go through." At that statement, the New Coventry officers were stunned. Three starship captains left waiting while the officer they were suppose to be meeting with was looking through reports. Commander Mayfair considered commenting but decided that it would be Commander Paige's responsibility to respond.

Captain Jacobs continued with "The orders from our admirals leave a lot of room for discretion. Every encounter with the being know as the UFO aliens has resulted in conflict. I hope to change this and attempt to negotiate peace with them. No one has attempted to contact with them so their only response could be to defend themselves. This has been shown here when the colonies and merchant vessels have all shot at the UFO Alien ships when they tried to visit. I tried to tell the colonist this but most of them refused to listen to me. " Terry was curious about this statement because she had looked at the records on encounters with the creatures and the Aliens always attacked without warning. Some Consortium military vessels had attempted to communicate with the aliens on earlier encounters and they had gotten no response other than being attacked. Since then, the Consortium had instituted a policy of simply engaging any UFO vessels they detected. The Xanadu captain continued with, "I think that it would be best if we kept our ship’s shield and weapons unpowered so that they can see that we mean them no harm. I plan to have the ships operate together as much as possible for safety reasons." Terry knew that this meant that the captain wanted to make sure that none of the captains could operate in a way to provoke the peace loving UFO aliens.

Terry considered what the captain had said and decided to see if she could take advantage of the Captain's attitude. Terry asked "Captain Jacobs, I am concerned. There are a great many small colonies that have been visited. If you are going to search for the beings know as UFO Aliens, you will not have time to go to the colonies and ask the people at them what occurred. There might be something that they know that would help you in negotiating with the UFO Aliens." While Terry did not believe a word of what the Xanadu captain had said, she knew that the captain believed what she had just spouted. Terry could also see that the captain was agreeing with what she had just said but decided to add even more with, "Captain, I have worked as an ambassador on previous occasions and believe that I could talk to the colonists and miners and get any information that they know."

Terry could tell that Captain Jacobs was relieved that she would not have to talk to the people on the ground. Captain Jacobs asked "Lieutenant Commander Mayfair, I assume that you are volunteering?" Terry nodded and the Xanadu captain continued "I would expect you to follow the rules on shields and weapons that I previously discussed and wait until I can get into the system so I can negotiate peace with them."

Terry replied very carefully, "Captain Jacobs, you would not expect me to follow the orders of those senior to myself or to needless engage in combat and risk my crew", and let the captain make assumptions on what she meant by it.

Three weeks later, neither the Wolfhound or the other search groups had found any of the UFO Intruder ships. Terry was glad that the Gloire group had not met with a UFO Intruder ship because Captain Jacobs required the Hunter's captains to keep their shields down and weapons offline. Terry had found this out from a private message from Commander Paige.

In the meantime, several more colonies and ships had been attacked by the UFO Aliens and both New Coventry's Lord of the Admiralty and Xanadu Station's Chief of Fleet Operations were considering sending more forces as reinforcements so the searching could cover more space. Terry knew that if the independent forces could not stop the UFO ships from raiding ships and systems, assistance from the Human Alliance or Consortium Armed Forces would be requested as well. Several of the colonies seemed to have been attacked by more than one UFO Intruder ship but due to immense confusion, it was hard to determine if this was accurate or not. Other than this, Terry had learned little new information from the planets that had been attacked during her visits. She had informed them that there was an attempt underway to stop the marauders and was able to salve their fears.

During the three weeks the Wolfhound had been detached from the other vessels, the ship’s crew had continued training and her tracking crews had managed to increase tracking range by 106% compared to range that they had detected the UFO vessel in simulation when they first began training when they left the New Coventry system for this mission. Commander Mayfair suspected that they would need more actual sensor data of UFO Intruder ships to further increase tracking ranges. The Wolfhound's gunner crews had also improved in the last three weeks of training and Terry was satisfied with both her gunner crews and tracking crews. She had decreased her crews training tempo in the last few days to prevent them from becoming exhausted but she had her crews still keep a careful watch. Terry also kept two fighters several light seconds forward of the Wolfhound to extend the destroyer's sensor range. She had the other two fighters waiting at standby in the hangers and were ready to launch at a moments notice. It created problems with the fighter’s maintenance but Terry knew her ship needed to be as ready as possible. Against Captain Jacob's orders kept both the Wolfhound's shield at full power and her weapon systems hot and ready to fire. Her crew was under instruction that they were to immediately engage any UFO Alien vessel because if she was off the bridge, there would be no time to get her to the bridge to give orders. She had put the instructions in writing and knew that Captain Jacob might try and get her prosecuted for not following her orders. Terry did not like the idea that the ship might fight a battle while she was disposed but saw no other solution.

Petty Officer Karen Launhardt, the Wolfhound's duty sensor operator reported, "Black Eagle number two reports a faint pattern about a half a light second forward of it. Preliminary data scans indicate that it might be a UFO Intruder ship."

Terry quickly scanned the data as it was replayed on the monitor on her bridge command chair. The data appeared very similar to what she had seen in the Consortium data and was fairly conclusive. Commander Mayfair ordered "Comm, send a message to the Gloire stating that we have detected a UFO Intruder vessel but believe that I cannot avoid engaging the vessel." She paused for a moment and continued, "Hell, I do not know if they have detected us themselves. Prepare a slow approach to attempt to surprise them."

Just as the Senior Chief Scott Carlson, the Wolfhound's senior helmsman was calculating a new course, the UFO Attack ship changed course and headed in an intercept course directly for the Wolfhound. The alien ship was accelerating towards the Wolfhound at a faster rate than virtually any fighter in the Three Galaxies. As, the UFO attack ship began launching its starfighters. So much for sneaking up undetected.

Without her orders, the Wolfen gunnery operator launched all four pepperbox launchers, got a rapid missile look based on the sketchy targeting data that he had, and fired seventeen capitol missiles at the alien vessel. The UFO Attack ship and her six escorting Spinerette fighters were only able to intercept a total of eight of the incoming capitol missiles. The missiles had been programmed to detonate outside of the UFO Intruder's solid energy shields and the remaining missiles exploded almost as one. All three of the UFO ship’s shields collapsed leaving the command compartment of the vessel exposed.

Following behind the capitol missiles launched by the Wolfhound, eight long range missiles had been launched at just four of the UFO Spinerette fighters from the Katana that had been operating in the scouting role for the Wolfhound. All four Spinerette fighters had been intent on the capitol missiles that had been fired at their command ship and did not attempt to shoot down the missiles being fired at their fighters. Three of the four UFO fighters were destroyed outright and the fourth lost all of its protective shields and the pilots cage was exposed.

While the scout Katana fighter rapidly closed with the UFO Intruder ship to take out the crew before the solid energy shields were restored. Terry detached the second Katana, which had just launched, to disable the UFO Spinerette fighter that had lost its shields. The Wolfhound came behind her fighters and showered the remaining UFO fighters with medium range missiles. Both fighters were quickly destroyed and the Katana fighters joined togther at strafing the UFO Intruder ship with their phase beamers after the second Katana had disabled the remaining UFO fighter. Commander Mayfair had one of the Black Eagle fighters come back to the Wolfhound to pick up her chief engineer to se if she could disable the UFO vessel's self destruct system.

A few minutes later, the Black Eagle fighter had picked up the engineer and was headed back to the UFO fighter and vessel. The capture of a fighter as well the larger ship would be quite advantageous. Still, Terry could not help but feel the engagement had gone too easily.

Suddenly, an warning light flashed on the Wolfhound's main tactical display. Seventy percent of the ship’s rear were stripped away in an instant. A second UFO Intruder ship had managed to sneak up behind the Wolfhound and had opened fire on the Wolfhound as soon as she was within range.

Commander Mayfair hastily ordered "Helm, flip us 180 degrees. Weapons, as soon as you have a target bring all weapons to bear."

The ancient destroyer flipped on its axis like a ferret protecting its tail. The weapon operator took the commander's orders literally and planned to fire all point defense weaponry as well as the main particle beam array. Three heavy particle beams sliced away at the solid energy field protecting the UFO ship. While the shield was not completely dropped, it was weakened by about three quarters of its original power level. The Wolfhound had fired a single capitol missile and the UFO vessels point defense weaponry had concentrated on the one missile. The missile was much slower that the particle beams and would hit the UFO ship several seconds after. With such a concentration of firepower, the missile was destroyed long before it got to that point. In concentrating on the capitol missile, the defenses had ignored the incoming medium range missiles. While the other point defense weaponry was still out of range, the medium range missiles were withing range and they came in behind the cruise missile. The missiles had been fired in a slightly staggered pattern so they would not be obliterated when they hit the shield if the shield dropped before then. The forward shield on the UFO Intruder ship shattered after the first few missiles and the remainder went on to hit the central portion of the vessel. The second UFO ship exploded when the missiles hit the central section. During the time it took for the missiles to hit their target, the Wolfhound had been struck a second time. The beam had hit the undamaged forward shield and the shield had held.

Terry had brought the Wolfhound into another battle and she had lost no crew.

Three weeks later, the Wolfhound was back docked at one of the main orbital stations that was in orbit of New Coventry. Lieutenant Commander Mayfair had just taken a shuttle down to the planet to meet with the Lady Jane Fox, Lord of the Admiralty, to discuss her actions with the UFO Intruder vessels and potential charges of insubordination. Captain Jacobs had requested that Lieutenant Commander Mayfair should go before a board of inquiry for disobeying the captain's orders. Terry was wearing her best dress uniform and hoped that she would not need to get her father involved to resolve the situation.

Terry entered the Lord of the Admiralty's reception area. The Lieutenant sitting at the reception desk stated "Commander Mayfair, the Lord left orders that you were to be escorted to her office as soon as you arrived." The Lieutenant walked over to the rear door of the reception area, opened the door, and stated "Lieutenant Commander Mayfair to see you, My Lady"

Lady Jane Fox was sitting at a large wooden desk. She was a relatively plain women with brown hair and brown eyes but she was one of the most competent Lords of the Admiralty to ever sit behind that desk. She said "Commander, please sit down. This is not a trial", she then turned to the Lieutenant "Harold, go ahead and close the door. The Commander and I have much to discuss." With that, her assistant closed the door as he departed.

The Lord of the Admiralty folded her hands together on the table, "I said we were going to discuss the current charges. Much of what I am going to say must remain behind these doors. I am sure with your political position, you can understand the trickiness involved here. I have dismissed Captain Jacob's request for a board of review. The official reason I am giving is that due to conflicting orders I must dismiss the request. As well, the judge-advocate general has agreed with me on this. Now, the reality is that the orders of the captain violated what the mission goals were and likely put the destroyers under her at risk. Even if we were to put you in front of a board, your popularity would likely backfire on the Navy.

"I have received some information you might be interested in. Consortium Intelligence has taken possession of the captured UFO vessels. As you and your crew were previously instructed, the capture of the UFO vessels and their transfer to Consortium Intelligence is to remain a secret. In trade for the captured UFO Intruder ship and fighter, New Coventry will receive three Warshield class cruisers and we will be kept informed of any discoveries made on the alien ships. You and your crew will receive prize money for the capture of the UFO vessels but the transfers will have to be disguised carefully and will likely take several years before you and your crew gets all the funds that are due to them.

"You are likely curious how we are going to explain the acquisition of the three cruisers. The explanation will be that the ships belonged to a mining colony that went bust and we were able to purchase them for a fraction of their actual value. While I would like to give you command of one of the cruisers, there are simply too many captains that are senior to you and we do not want to create problems with Xanadu."

Commander Mayfair smiled and said "I can understand, I guess I will simply have to capture my own ship!" and the Lord of the Admiralty was afraid that she was serious. Terry was glad to hear about the transfer of the three cruisers. New Coventry presently had only one cruiser, the black prince, and the three Warshield class cruisers would add immeasurably to New Coventry's forces. New Coventry's Bureau of Shipbuilding had attempted to purchase several Warshield class cruisers to strengthen their forces but the fees that were added by the Consortium Government made the ships cost almost as much as a larger and more capable cruiser. Because of this, New Coventry had developed their own heavy cruiser class, the Warspite class, but the first ship of the class had not been commissioned yet. When New Coventry completed their planned heavy cruisers, the system would have one of the most powerful Independent Defense Forces within Consortium space.

Lady Jane Fox was not quite done and said, "In spite of you lack of being able to follow the commands of senior officers, You have been promoted to the rank of full Commander. Congratulations, Commander. Now, I believe you have business with Bureau of Shipbuilding. Something about negotiating for the manufacture of the pepperbox launchers that you and your Machine Person engineer developed."

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By Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Story proofread by Lady Lynx (

Copyright © 2001, Kitsune. All rights reserved.