Writing Challenge #1

420 / Day

The rules for this writing challenge are simple.  
  • Using only the 420 characters provided to you in a Facebook status update, construct a story. 
  • Any story you wish, but your ideas should be conveyed in sequence as much as possible. 
  • You are only allowed one entry per day. 
I'll be posting what I've done so far, and I'll make updates as appropriate.  For those of you who have been following this on my Facebook thread, I have cleaned up some of my flubs.  For posterity's sake, all the originals are still on my page.
The countdown makes sense if you follow -- you know what, that's a lie, the countdown has never made sense.  Just go with it.

11JUL10

Day 704... With deep regret but unwavering resolve, he throws his remaining forces into the breach. No reserves; no hope of reinforcement. Without fail, this last desperate gamble will result in either a Glorious Victory, or the absolute and utter destruction of the Rebellion.

Day 703... It was then, in his darkest hour, that he finally understood. "We are the dead." Yes, we are, but our deaths are not meaningless. Surrounded, betrayed, exhausted, yes he was all of those things. But defeated? Beaten? Never, dear reader. Not as long as the dream of Rebellion continues to live on in the hearts and minds of every oppressed man, women, and child. "We are the dead; they are the future."

Day 702... He had never before believed in miracles, but on that fateful day, when he was at last on the verge of being thrown back into the howling night from whence he had first arrived, there came a sudden crash like thunder. In absolute disbelief, he turned his eyes skyward...

Day 701... Like Valkyries, they burst forth from the darkness.
Gunships, fighters, bombers, drop-pods, and, silhouetted against the night sky, the hulking figure of the Glorious Victory, flagship of the Rebellion. Salvation, it would seem, was at hand.

16JUL10 

Day 700... The command deck of the Glorious Victory was a-buzz with activity. JOs bustled back and forth between stations, reams of data screamed across uncountable screens, and in the midst of it all stood a man whose legend was known to every Legionnaire of the Rebellion. Pacing slowly back and forth with a hand on his signature cutlass; CAPT Blood had returned.

Day 699... Despite the utter chaos around him, Blood seemed almost at peace as he studied the tactical display before him. Two cruisers had just entered the atmosphere 30 Km off his port bow. A shadow of a smile touched the corners of his mouth.
"'Left-tenant' Dodd, flank speed. Prepare the ship for broadside engagement."

Day 698... "Aye, Captain, engines answering flank speed," replied the LT. "On which side are we expecting to receive damage, sir?"
Blood didn't respond at first; he was calculating something on a holo-display in front of him. He slowly turned to face Dodd. For a moment, it almost seemed as though a spark of fire flashed across his eyes.
"All sides, 'Left-tenant'. All sides."

Day 697... Blood quickly turned back and finished his calculations, balled up the holo-screen like a piece of paper, and threw it over his shoulder at Dodd.
"Here, use these firing solutions. Distance to targets?"
"Uh, uh, uh, 15 Km, sir," stammered Dodd.
Blood turned back around and cracked a smile at the fear in the LT's eyes. "Don't be scared. I've done this before."

Day 696... Dodd un-crumpled the firing solutions he'd been thrown. On his way over to input them into the targeting station he took a glance at them.
"Sir," he said, turning back around, "this is insane. There's no way we'll survive this."
"Which is exactly," said Blood, "why they won't be expecting it."
He continued, laughing, "Like I said, I've done this before."

22AUG10

Day 695... On the ground, the tide was turning. Fresh bodies poured off gunships into the fray. Close-in-air-support obliterated enemy fixed positions, clearing the way for newly dropped in armor to roll forward. His forces advancing on all fronts, Brigadier General Wolfe took a brief moment of respite. Again, he turned his eyes skyward, and wondered just what the hell Blood was thinking.

Day 694... "Rubber Ducky, get me a line through to Blood," said Wolfe, still staring at the sky.
Ducky popped his head out from under a wrecked comms terminal. "You're synced in right now, General."

"Am I? So, I just talk and he'll hear me?"

"Assuming your throat mic hasn't been destroyed, yes."

"So, that's a no then..."

"... No, probably not, sir."

Day 693... "Get me a radio, Ducky," said Wolfe as he started toward the nearest tank. "My ride's here."
Ducky grabbed the nearest hand-held and trotted after Wolfe quickly programming it to contact the GV's bridge.

"Here, sir, a direct line," he said handing Wolfe the radio.

Without a word, Wolfe took the radio and walked
off. Looking up, he depressed the transmit button. "Nice of you to drop by, Captain."

Day 692... Blood turned to face the audio speaker that had zipped across the deck to float at his side. "Is that you, Wolfe? I thought you were dead."
"No such luck. Mind telling me just what the hell you're doin'?"

"Something I fear you've not been able to do," said Blood, turning back to his tactical display.

"And tha
t would be... ?"
With a devilish grin, he whispered, "Winning."

Day 691... Wolfe glared daggers at the radio, prepped himself to yell something, then suddenly decided against it and instead said, "Good luck with that."
Without a second thought, he casually tossed the radio into the path of the nearest tank treads, spun around, and called out, "Axel."

"Here, sir," called back LT Axe
l.
"Have that new Arty shell the pass on our right. Keep that infantry boxed in."

"Can do, sir."

Day 690... In one swift motion, Wolfe stepped forward, hoisted himself up onto the nearest tank, slapped the hatch, and yelled, "Roll out!" Barely audible over the roar of the engine was the crunching of the radio he had discarded.
Ducky, clipboard in hand, was watching Axel set up a SATCOM dish.

"He just destroyed that
radio."
"He sure did," replied Axel without looking over.

Day 689... "Please tell me our beloved General did not just drive off on the back of a tank, destroying a $30,000 radio," said Blood.
Dodd looked up from his console at the holo-screen in front of Blood which was replaying the event in an infinite loop. "Looks that way, Captain."

"Excellent," he muttered, closing the s
creen with a wave of his hand. "Distance to targets, 'Left-tenant'?"

Day 688... "2,000 meters, sir."
Blood studied the display intently, and whispered, "Give me manual control."

"What?"

"The ship. I want manual control of it. Now."

Dodd hesitated for a moment, "... Aye, sir. Control is yours. May I ask why you feel the need to be in control of the ship at this moment, Captain?"

"You may ask, but I doubt you'll receive an answer."

Day 687... Multiple holo-displays appeared in front of Blood. He fluidly manipulated the controls for the ships speed and bearing. "'Left-tenant', how many navigators in this galaxy would you trust to lead a camel through the eye of needle?"
"I trust you to survive this, sir, but only because you've done it before."

"S
urvival is not my objective," he said, slowly increasing the speed. "Victory is."

Day 686... As the Glorious Victory began to pass between the two cruisers, the ship started to shake with the impact of high-explosive shells. The longer it went on, the worse it got. Damage reports began flooding into the bridge, but Blood did nothing. Still staring at the holo-display he said, "Engage voice recognition, authorization code 0546. Disengage safeties. Standby to fire on my mark."

Day 685... The shaking intensified. In a shower of sparks, a piece of shrapnel burst through the bulkhead, coming to rest in Blood's left shoulder. He never flinched; his hands steady on the helm, he stared at the tactical display, waiting for his ship to be in the precise position. With a sudden jerk of his right hand the ship's momentum died, leaving it stationary for a fraction of a second.
"Fire."

Day 684... A volley of high-explosive shells slammed against the broadside of each cruiser, impacting in sets of two. Each set was followed by a single armor-piercing, delayed-fragmentation shell. The resulting internal explosions cut the lines of communication between the reactors and the rest of the ship. The engines of both cruisers went dark.
Blood looked around. The shaking had stopped.

Day 683... Emergency generators powered on to maintain vital systems, but they couldn't provide enough power to the engines to keep the ships in orbit. Blood watched as gravity and inertia dragged both cruisers toward the planet.
He smiled, "All batteries, open fire. Kill them all." The helm's holo-display disappeared
. "'Left-tenant', report; have they found it yet?"

Day 682... The tank rumbled to a halt. Wolfe jumped down to the ground and looked up at the two cruisers slowly falling through the atmosphere, being torn to pieces by the Glorious Victory's relentless bombardment.
A tired-looking man in a uniform with no rank designators was directing a group of technicians as they w
orked to open a strange door.
"Commander, report."

Day 681... The man stopped, looked around, then realized he was being spoken to. "Oh, right, of course, 'Commander', yes, well," he said gesturing toward the door, "we found it."
"I see. And..."

"Oh, and we're getting it open. The power supply is archaic at best. We should be able to splice in a battery or something."

Day 680... "Very well," said Wolfe, walking toward the door. There was something familiar about it. A sense of Déjà vu seemed to emanate from it, striking him as a wave strikes a rock. He had seen it somewhere before, but there was no logical explanation as to when or where.
"Sir," said a technician kneeling near a
control panel, "we have power."
Wolfe stood before the door and whispered, "Open it."

Day 679... The gear-like dial in the center of the door spun to the left as the sides unlatched, allowing the whole door to me draw upward into the frame. As Wolfe took his first steps inside, florescent lights powered on in rows, illuminating the cavernous chamber.
"Looks like we tripped an auxiliary power supply," s
aid the tech from around the corner.
Wolfe couldn't hear him. It had all come rushing back at once.

Day 678... He walked briskly toward an ancient computer terminal. With a deft movement he powered it on and began searching through the directories. After several moments he called out, "Commander, have your men secure Level 2, Section C."
The 'Commander' waved a handful of techs forward, then advanced until he was a
few feet from Wolfe. "Should we set scuttling charges?"
"Yes. Are the drop-ships inbound?"

Day 677... "Should be 10 minutes away, sir."
"Good," said Wolfe, scrolling through screens filled with numbers. "Secure this data before we leave."

"The data, sir? Why?"

Wolfe moved aside and allowed the 'Commander' to see the screen. His eyes widened in understanding. They'd finally found it; a veritable treasure trove
of information. Answers at last.
"Knowledge is power, 'Commander'."

Day 676... "Captain, new contacts inbound," said Dodd.
Blood manipulated his holo-screen to zoom out to a system wide view. There were, indeed, several large, angry, red triangles on course to jump in-system within the next 15 minutes.

"Take us out of the atmosphere. Have we pulled out all our forces yet?"

"No, sir, we
still have a few isolated units fighting to reach their LZs... and the artifact."

Day 675... The Glorious Victory gathered speed as it prepared to break through the clouds, forcing its way into the great beyond, tardy drop-ships chasing after it.
"High orbit achieved, sir. Still tracking numerous, hostile warships inbound. Time to deceleration, 12 minutes."

"How many left on the surface?"

"All units
airborne. All drop-ships should be secure in the hanger within 10 minutes."

Day 674... Blood did a quick mental calculation. If only they had more time, he could make a clean get-away. After several attempts without a satisfactory solution, he gave the only order that had a chance of saving his ship.
"Man all auxiliary and emergency generators. Divert power from all non-essential systems to t
he mass-driver. Prepare firing solutions for all possible entry coordinates."

Day 673... As Wolfe marched down the long passageways to the bridge, Axel in tow, the lights suddenly flickered, stopping him dead in his tracks.
"That Son of a Bitch. Has he lost his damn mind?"

"He shot his way through a blockade and came to our rescue, sir. I'd say he lost his marbles long before now," said Axel.

But
Wolfe had already taken off at a run. Hopefully, there was still time.

Day 672... "Warm her up, 'Left-tenant'," said Blood, his eyes trained unblinkingly at the tactical display.
"Belay that," called out Wolfe, charging onto the bridge.

Blood spun around with a quizzical look on his face. "Belay that, 'belay that'."

Dodd hesitated at his station, confused.

"Power down," Wolfe insisted. "We
have what we came for, and now we need to leave."

Day 671... Blood looked unfazed. "Even if the artifact is secure, we can't escape before they arrive. We only have an advantage if we fire on them before they can respond. 'Left-tenant'?"
"60 seconds to deceleration."

Wolfe smiled and almost laughed. "Gloria, engage stealth systems, authorization code Alpha-Alpha-4-8-9
-2."
A smooth, female voice replied, "Authorization code accepted. Engaging stealth systems."

Day 670... Blood looked around, confused. "Stealth systems? We have those?"
Dodd looked up from his screen, "Apparently."

Wolfe walked to the center of the command deck. "Plot a random course home. Jump on my mark. Blood, get your ass down to Medical; you're bleedin' all over yourself."

"Am I?" he said as he looked down
at the shrapnel in his left shoulder. "'Left-tenant', how long has that been there?"

Day 669... ADM Shark didn't understand it. His ships had scanned the system 3 times, yet there was no trace.
He paced around the bridge of his flag-ship, the Goliath, going over the sequence of events in his mind. He'd had them cornered; no time to escape.

As he passed one of the bay windows, a pin-prick of light caught
his eye. A shadow, zipping off into the vast reaches of space.
"Sneaky Son-of-a-Bitch."

 
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