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THOSE THAT ROAM IV: Best-Laid Plans
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The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry...
Submitted By Sprawl on 11/01/04
SYN3H Chronicles, Sprawl, THOSE THAT ROAM 
This Document originally posted in the "SYN3H Chronicles" Group

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THOSE THAT ROAM IV: Best Laid Plans

When Commander Aubrey Falconer arrived on Earth, he was greeted as a global hero - even though his mission had failed.

Perhaps it was because there were few casualties, or because they were the first team to actually reach Mars. Or maybe it was just because Falconer, Richardson, and MacDane did not let on just how much damage had been done and what exactly had happened on Mars. What was certain was that the Earth population knew nothing of Frederiksen, nothing of the great beast, and nothing of the Synthetium problem. Falconer declared a public funeral for Commander Rupert R. C. Nicholas, and the ten other members of the team who had been killed.

Falconer had lost all hope for Commander Nicholas' survival, and he decided that returning to Mars soon would be disastrous. He resolved to strengthen their expedition into an army and return to Mars with a force powerful enough to destroy Frederiksen's own fleet.

MacDane recovered in hospital for three weeks, then was released, still weak; he returned to IASA (The International Aeronautics and Space Administration) a few days later. Richardson, however, took leave to Saito, Japan, where he owned a large Minka.

So Falconer and MacDane were left with a diminished force, with only one man to lead it.

* * * *

MacDane sat in his office, head in his hands. The one thing in his mind was the mission. The failed mission to Mars. The applause had tugged at his heart, becuase he knew that there was so much this happy population was not being told.

There was a knock at the door. He looked up sharply. Falconer leant against the doorway, holding a small clipboard in his left hand. MacDane sat up, a smile forming on his face.
"Are we...?" he said excitedly. Falconer nodded slowly. MacDane stood bolt upright, sending his chair skidding backward. "I've been waiting for this." He grabbed his coat, and the two of them headed downstairs in a high-speed elevator. They rushed outside into the rain, and entered their car. The chauffeur sealed off the windows with soundproofing, and started the engine.

MacDane sat back.
"Finally recruiting..." he exhaled. Then he turned to Falconer. "It's been two months, Commander." Falconer batted away the latter title with his hand.
"Not Commander. The mission is over. I am merely another NASA Executive. The same as a year ago."
MacDane sighed.
"Then I am guessing I am no longer Captain." Falconer shrugged.
"It's not a big deal. You are still a Staff Sergeant, if that makes you any happier. Plus you're our technician. Invaluable!" MacDane smiled.
"Perhaps..."

The car halted, and the doors slid open. Falconer stepped out, MacDane following quickly. Before them was the Original Mars Mission Headquarters - a tall, sleak, black skyscraper, with a large basement. The automatic doors hissed open before them, and they readied themselves for a swarm of new recruits.

* * * *

Falconer seated himself in his recruiting office, and asked his secretary to bring in the first candidate. Shortly, a young man entered. He sat down on the chair opposite Falconer. Falconer was surprised that he had not greeted him, nor had he shaken his hand. Falconer looked into his eyes. The man stared back. Then he suddenly spoke.
"My name is Forest Owens. I am 19. I live in Scotland. I am a network engineer and technician."
Falconer raised his eyebrows.
"Impressive...résumé?" Falconer chuckled. But Forest did not laugh. He sat, rigid in his chair, glaring at Falconer. Falconer sat forward, without looking at Forest. "Mr Owens, we have a large number of ships which are damaged. We have engineers to repair their structure, but their network links, communications arrays, elec-"
"I can fix that." Forest cut in. Falconer looked at him incredulously.
"I'd appreciate it if you got rid of that attitude." But Forest stared straight back.
"Then go find someone else." Forest stood, and walked from the room. Falconer sat, unsure of what to do. Then he rang for the next applicant.
 
* * * *
 
An hour and ten candidates later, a noticeably older man, probably in his late thirties, entered the room, grinning. Falconer stood and returned the smile.
'Firestar!" he called. 'Wonderful to see you here! It's been a long time."
"Too long," Firestar laughed. They shook hands, then settled down.
"Well, I am sure this won't take too long. How's the wife?"
"Good, thanks. How's the mission?" Falconer burst out laughing.
"Perhaps not as good as your wife!" he chortled. They both laughed heartily.
"The great Firestar Samoht...how did you even get 'Samoht'? Unusual, surely?"
"What's Samoht backwards?" Firestar asked. Falconer thought for a moment, then grinned.
"Makes sense." Falconer paused, then continued. "Okay, you're in." Firestar leant forward.
"But...?" Falconer shrugged.
"It's not really a 'but', as such, but I would like to ask your opinion on something."
"Yes?" Falconer squinted.
"I...my first candidate this morning. He was young, and he had talents - he was a technician, network engineer, etc. But he had this attitude - a little sociopathic." Firestar sat back.
"And your problem is..." Falconer let out a sharp burst of laughter.
"Well, should I hire him, or shouldn't I?" Firestar sat forward, and looked directly into Falconer's eyes.
"This isn't about personality. This is about skill. And right now, we need about all the help we can get. And if that kid can fix the networking systems for the fleet, we're back online. We can start the mission off again. We have a strong, communicative fleet. Hire that kid. Do it, and do it before he's goes off the radar. Those kids are like gold dust."
Falconer was contemplative for a moment, then he nodded solemnly.
"Okay. But it's not going to be easy." He turned and spoke through the wireless comms to his secretary. "Locate Forest Owens, and bring him here ASAP." Firestar smiled kindly.
"That was your best decision yet." Falconer looked at him sharply, not understanding, but Firestar stood, and exited the room, turning only to say:
"I'll see you tomorrow, Aubrey."
 
@****@
Three days later, Aubrey Falconer, Forest Owens, and The Great Jet Pilot Firestar strolled into The Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, and were met with panic. Everywhere, technicians and programmers were shouting, crying out in anger. Alarms were blaring, and there was a loud hissing.
"What is going on?" Falconer roared, but he was inaudible. Firestar shook his head.
"This could have been prevented, Aubrey!" Falconer didn't know what was going on at all. But then he looked carefully at the large screen in front of him, streching up to the ceiling over twenty metres above, and let out a gasp of disbelief.
"Three days, Falconer." Forest growled. "Three days, and none of this would have happened. I could have prevented this." Falconer whirled around.
'WHAT DO YOU MEAN?" Forest strode over to the nearest computer, wrenched an employee away, and began jamming the keys furiously.
"There's no hope. The satellites are going to plummet." Falconer let out a roar of despair, and sank to his knees. Firestar held his head in his hands, and sank into the chair behind him. Forest looked on, shaking his head. Suddenly, there was a loud crack, and the screens fizzled out. Then the lights were sharply cut off with a loud crackle. The room was plunged into darkness.
 
And up in the sky, every single satellite around Mars lost connection, and spiralled into the darkness of the Milky Way.
 
 

» Reply to Comment
Re: THOSE THAT ROAM IV: Best Laid Plans
1 day - 4,189v
Posted 2011/01/04 - 1:43 GMT
wow! I like how the plot is forming! XD
» Reply to Comment
Re: THOSE THAT ROAM IV: Best-Laid Plans
11 hours - 775v
Posted 2011/01/20 - 1:09 GMT
wow! thx for including me! good job!
firestar
» Reply to Comment
Re: THOSE THAT ROAM IV: Best-Laid Plans
3 days - 10,293v
Posted 2011/01/23 - 14:34 GMT
As I have said before, great twist/suspense at the end!


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