Fishing for Asteroids

Who: James Bailey, Sam, Jayson Redfield
IC Year: 2029
Location: Earth Orbit
TP: Harvest-One


Summary: After discovering a huge asteroid comprised of metals that will come in handy for EDC and Autobot construction efforts, the EDC plans an operation to tow it to Earth orbit. In the process they run into a blast from Marissa's past.

=================================== EDC ===================================
Message: 22/11                     Posted        Author
Asteroid                           Tue Jul 22    Apocryphacius
Text Only, because no one needs to see Apocryphacius's loathsome visage

While on Space Station Copernicus, assisting with repairs and sensor reassignments 
for a special project, it was noticed that there is a large nickel-iron asteroid 
in the vicinity of Earth's orbit. Ephemeris for the Sol system indicates that the 
asteroid is abnormally close. Due to rich metal content of asteroid, it may make 
a decent source of resources. If there anything on the books against such a usage? 
If not, towing to Earth orbit for processing would be relatively simple.

End file

Military Hangar - Copernicus

A large, circular hangar, dark, but full of EDC personnel hard at work keeping the fighters in readiness for immediate launch should the warning siren go off. The bay is alive with sounds: techs yelling at each other, tools being dropped, the whine of protesting engines, and the occasional roar of a fighter, as it's launched. Along the massive inner column are the hook launchers and fighter bay doors. A set of individual hangars line the wall and in front of each is a large, magnetic, three-jointed hook. The hook is sunken in the floor and set on a track that yanks the fighter out for a quick launch. The EDC is not all glitz and glamour, and this place proves it.

Contents: Exo-Jet Apollo Class <James Bailey> Jet Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Noah Wolfe> Jayson Redfield Sam Terran Standard Troops #5327 Terran Standard Troops #5033 Terran Shuttle <Banzai> Fighter Bay Doors <FB> Exo Hangar <EH>

Sam is chatting with Jayson. Mollifying, perhaps, but chatting.

Jayson Redfield is still rather uncomfortable with his current location, so is trying to keep himself distracted by talking to Sam.

James Bailey climbs out of his Apollo, nodding at Sam and Jayson. "Well ready to go Asteroid fishing?"

Sam turns as James approaches. "Ah.. yes, very much ready. Erm.. suppose will be piloting shuttle?"

"Err..." Jayson swallows nervously and nods. "Ready...ready as I'll ever be."

Sam is terrible at reassuring people. "Will be fine, Jayson Redfield. Very much like piloting Talon, except very far from planet and not in atmosphere."

You say, "'ll be in one, I'll be in the other. We'll attach tow lines to both for greater control. And maybe Jayson in a Starknight on the surface of the asteroid, 'just in case'." He turns to look Jayson up and down. "You up for this?"

Jayson Redfield stiffens slightly and nods again. "Y-yeah! Just tell me what you want me to do..."

James Bailey raps the Starknight with his knuckles. "Start familiarizing yourself with this. There's another one in the Banzai for you, Sam. -Just in case-. I'll go get another shuttle."

Jayson Redfield has never used a Starknight before. If he can get over his fear, it should be an interesting experience. He takes a deep breath and climbs inside.

Jayson Redfield has left.

Jayson Redfield enters the Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Noah Wolfe>.

Terran Shuttle <Banzai> arrives on the elevator from the floor below.

Terran Shuttle <Banzai> has arrived.

James Bailey looks over at Jayson. "Nothing like on-the-job training. You're with Sam." He thinks about that for a second. Between Sam's selective cluelessness and Jayson's selective unpredictability, they're not exactly the most reliable pair. But maybe putting them together will cancel each other out. ;) James himself gestures at some of the Troopers to accompany him.

You enter the Terran Shuttle <Intrepid>.

Terran Shuttle <Intrepid>

The interior of the shuttle is very roomy. There is a highly technical cockpit that seats numerous bots at various stations, and a huge cargo area for additional troops or equipment.

Terran Standard Troops #5327 has arrived.

Terran Standard Troops #5327 march behind James Bailey.

From Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield>, "With Sam. Right, got it." Jayson's still quite nervous. But hey, he's with friends, so he should be okay!

From Terran Shuttle <Banzai>, Sam finally runs the shuttle up for launch, waiting for James' go-ahead. "Shuttle Banzai, in position."

Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield> has left.

Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield> enters the Terran Shuttle <Banzai>.

James Bailey checks to make sure the troopers are settled in, then flashes Sam a thumbs up (his face appears on a small comm screen on the other shuttle). "All right, let's take 'em out."

You launch from the space station into Earth Orbit.

Earth Orbit

As you enter orbit above the blue-green surface of Earth, you peer through the clouds and see various possible landing sites...

Contents: Harvest One Copernicus Station Terran Sensor #8438 Moon

Obvious exits:

Escape Orbit <EO> leads to Terrestrial Planets <Sol>.
Eastern Hemisphere <EH> leads to Stratosphere above Eastern Hemisphere.
Western Hemisphere <WH> leads to Stratosphere above Western Hemisphere.

Ayotizinco <land0> Cairo Spaceport <land1> Houston Spaceport <land2> Autobot City <land3> New York City <land4> EDC <land5> Korean Spaceport <land6>

Terran Shuttle <Banzai> cruises out of the launch bay, silently.

Terran Shuttle <Intrepid> turns slowly in space with controlled firing of the small maneuvering jets dotting the exterior. Then the main engines emit a sustained pulse, causing the shuttle to accelerate hard in the direction of the asteroid.

<EDC> James Bailey says, "This is Harvester Alpha, coming up on target now...Harvester Beta, how are you guys doing?"

<EDC> Sam says, "Beta reporting on target. Initiating braking in thirty seconds."

From Terran Shuttle <Banzai>, Jayson Redfield leaves the Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield>.

From Terran Shuttle <Banzai>, Jayson Redfield just stands back in the exo. Waiting...anxious, apprehensive...

Terran Shuttle <Intrepid> takes up a position above and slightly ahead of the Asteroid...then suddenly fires maneuvering jets on the rear dorsal fuselage and the front undercarriage, making the Intrepid flip over like a giant pancake!

James Bailey looks back at some of the Exo-Suited troops as they pick themselves up off of the floor. "Sorry! Sorry...that's my bad. Should have given you guys some warning first."

<EDC> James Bailey says, "Beta, as soon as you guys are in position let's launch and get these tow cables securely fastened."

From Terran Shuttle <Banzai>, Sam activates forward thrusters to slow down the Banzai, which glides to a relative halt near the bulk of the asteroid.

<EDC> Private Jayson Redfield idly comments, "Think I'm getting used to this exo unit..."

<EDC> Sam says, "Beta in position."

You leave the Terran Shuttle <Intrepid>.

You enter the Exo-Jet Apollo Class <James Bailey>.

You leave the Terran Shuttle <Intrepid>.

Twisting and shifting, the Apollo transforms into an exo-suit.

From Terran Shuttle <Banzai>, Sam heads over to the other spare Starknight so he can at least help with the cables and whatnot, rather than just monitoring gauges on the Banzai.

From Terran Shuttle <Banzai>, Sam enters the Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Ultra Magnus>.

Exo-Jet Apollo Class <James Bailey> Robot emerges from the Intrepid holding a pair of huge, massively thick cables, one in each hand. These are anchored to the sides of the cargo bay through the open bay doors in the rear of the shuttle.

Harvest One

This is a 200 km diameter asteroid named 16 Psyche. It is the largest M-class asteroid in the belt, meaning metallic and shiny. It's roughly round shape and even has its own rotation. 16 Psyche is a very large Main belt asteroid, well over 200 kilometers in diameter, and likely the largest of the metallic M-type asteroids. It is estimated to contain 0.6 percent of the mass of the entire asteroid belt. This M-type has a fairly pure iron-nickel composition. Psyche appears to be a genuine case of an exposed metallic core from a larger differentiated parent body. Unlike some other M-type asteroids, Psyche shows no sign of the presence of water or water-bearing minerals on its surface, consistent with its interpretation as a metallic body. Small amounts of pyroxene appear to be present. For now though, the EDC has labeled this asteroid 'Harvest One'.

From Terran Shuttle <Banzai>, Jayson Redfield enters the Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield>.

Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield> leaves the Terran Shuttle <Banzai>.

Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield> has arrived.

Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam> leaves the Terran Shuttle <Banzai>.

Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam> has arrived.

<EDC> James Bailey transmits schematics of the position to place each of four different tow cables. No doubt carefully prepared by some EDC number-crunchers who will never get to set foot in space despite all of their careful calculations of stress, physics and engineering. "You guys got it? Okay...let's go to work."

Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam> stands in the doorway of the airlock, as its pilot looks out over empty space and the asteroid.

Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield> is behind the other Starknight. That pilot is still nervous about this, but determined to gather his courage and do this.

From Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam>, Sam coaxes his suit out of the cargo bay, and the Starknight drifts out into open space. After it's traveled a few meters, it slowly turns and Sam makes the manipulator arms motion to Jayson, like he's saying 'come along now.'

From Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield>, Jayson Redfield gets the hint, and follows after Sam.

Exo-Jet Apollo Class <James Bailey> Robot moves carefully through space, approaching the asteroid and still holding the two tow cables.

Harvest One

This is 'Harvest One', a metallic barren rock with no air, no water, but plenty of metal for which can be exploited. The stars glitter off its dusty, rock strewn, and pockmarked surface. Thankfully, this 200 km diameter M-class asteroid is large enough to have its own rotation, so someone isn't cooked all the time when they're facing the sun.

Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam> has arrived.

Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield> has arrived.

Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam> glides over toward James' suit. Sam radios, "Following lead. Er.. asteroid is.. quite large. Shuttle engines will handle mass?"

Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield> stays close to the others. "Wow," Jayson murmurs. "'Quite large' is an understatement, I think, Sam."

Exo-Jet Apollo Class <James Bailey> Robot slows down once it nears the asteroid's surface, using minute bursts from the vernier jets dotting it's shoulders, legs and back. Finally it flexes at the kness and fires foot thrusters very briefly, causing it to flip over to land feet-first on the asteroid. Inside, James radios back, "Well, it might take a while, but with no gravity and no friction I think it's just a matter of applying enough steady power in a controlled manner. It's only when we start getting closer to Earth orbit that things get a little tricky, due to Earth's own gravity."

From Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam>, Sam nods inside his suit. "Ah.. yes, would expect so. Especially since minute flaw in execution could result in massive destruction, should asteroid collide with planet."

James Bailey eyes Sam's face on the small web-cam like display the EDC often uses for Exo-to-Exo communication. "Let's try and be a little more positive here, Sam."

From Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield>, Jayson Redfield just grins, despite himself, and gives Sam a thumbs-up. "Hey, I'm sure it'll go fine. Stop being so logical. 'Kay?"

From Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam>, Sam has kind of a mixed expression. "Erm.. yes, of course."

Exo-Jet Apollo Class <James Bailey> Robot attaches one cable lightly to the surface of the asteroid, hooking the tip of one of the large, vicious looking grapple-like prongs into a rent in the metal of Harvest One. Then it jet-hops across to the designated place to put the second cable, moving much easier since the pilot only has to worry about one cable. When he gets to the spot he begins working it carefully into place, twisting it back and forth to burrow it deep into the surface.

From Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam>, Sam isn't in charge of one of the tow cables. Instead, he's monitoring the stresses on them and making sure they don't get tangled, as the other troops move them into position. Checking for small defects that may impact the mission. He slowly glides down the length of one of the cables for this fine inspection, and will certainly repeat the maneuver on the others. "Cables looking acceptable, within tolerances. Attaching solidly?"

Exo-Jet Apollo Class <James Bailey> Robot finishes twisting the grapple at the end of the tow cable into place. Then James steps the Exo back and transmits a signal to the shuttle. At an electronic signal sent along the cable. There's a very brief shreiking sound, from metal on metal, and the cable shudders a little and then is still. The Apollo reaches out and tugs at the cable, but now it doesn't budge.

James turns to Jayson's web-cam picture, which is on the opposite side of his canopy from Sam's. "See that, kid? Make sure it's secured, then signal them to pop the prongs out and anchor it. Then tug it a little just to make sure it's set."

From Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield>, "Oh, it..." Jayson follows James' example. Still nervous, but willing to do this. He grabs one of the remaining cables and heads over to another of the grapple-like prongs.

Suddenly, as if in response to the shriek of metal-on-metal from the cables anchoring themselves, you hear a cacophony of series of shrieks intermingled with faint flapping noises that often cut off. Gradually the sheer number of shriek/flapping noises taper off until you can make out the sequence clearly for last few sets of sounds. They go something like shriek-flap-flap-shree-- with the last shriek cut off abruptly.

Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam> runs back up one of the other lines. "Have not read detailed report on metal content of asteroid. Assuming primary constituent is iron? Have percentages?"

From Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam>, Sam stops talking abruptly as the weird noises warble their way up the cables.

<EDC> James Bailey transmits a light tapping noise, as if he's tapping on a screen. "Anybody else picking that up?"

<EDC> Sam says, ".. er.. making assumption sound is not expected."

<EDC> Private Jayson Redfield says, "Um...I'd say not."

<EDC> James Bailey says, "No, not expected...we shouldn't be hearing any sounds at all out here, should we? I thought the only reason we hear the cables setting is that we're each touching the surface or something connected to the surface?"

<EDC> Sam says, "Er.. correct. Vibration must be transmitted along cables."

<EDC> Private Jayson Redfield says, "This is just creepy."

<EDC> James Bailey says, "Well, whatever it is, I don't hear it any more. So that could mean..."

<EDC> Private Jayson Redfield says, "Stay on your toes..."

Exo-Jet Apollo Class <James Bailey> Robot unclips a hand-held gunpod and turns around, slowly scanning the area.

There's a faint orange line on the 'horizon' of the asteroid, as if something on the far side, the side facing away from the sun, is glowing bright orange...

<EDC> Sam says, "Ah.. Lieutenant.."

<EDC> James Bailey says, "I see it...spread out, be ready for anything."

The glowing line brightens a bit, and suddenly there's a flicker of movement! Then another! Something is emerging from over the horizon. At first it looks like a glowing orange cloud streaming over, but that's only due to the distance. Anyone who uses magnification on their visual sensors will quickly realize it's actually a huge swarming wave of flying creatures approaching the EDC side of the asteroid from various directions.

From Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam>, Sam's brow creases, and he sighs quietly.

From Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield>, Jayson Redfield tenses a bit. " THAT?" He heads away from his comrades, keeping an eye on the strange glow. He zooms in on his sensors. "Scratch that. What are THOSE?!"

From Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam>, Sam radios, "Believe those are source of odd noise. Also may be quite dangerous."

As the flock of creatures gets closer, it becomes possible to pick out individual entities from within the horde, and to attempt identification. They're nearly human-sized, but shaped like bats. Giant, radioactively glowing, ooze-dripping bats. They're fanged mouths gape open as they shriek, but of course now that they're flying they make no sound...

From Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam>, Sam looks at the readings coming from them. "Ah yes, was correct. Quite dangerous."

<EDC> James Bailey says, "Tactical systems estimate they'll make contact in forty-five seconds!"

<EDC> Private Jayson Redfield says, "Great. Giant alien bats. Hope they're not vampiric!"

<EDC> Sam calmly, almost detachedly says, "Priming weapon systems. Ah.. what would be most effective against countless swarm of flying alien space bats?"

James Bailey watches data scrolling by on his tactical screen. He transmits, "At the speed they're moving...they're almost as fast as a Starknight. Some of them are breaking ahead of the pack."

From Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield>, "Dangerous? Ya think?" Jayson crouches slightly into an offensive posture, the exo, of course, mimicking his movements. "They might try pack hunting tactics that some predators on Earth do. Unless they act like normal bats, but I doubt it. Either way, I'm not likin' this."

<EDC> Private Jayson Redfield says, "I'd use my fists, myself. Whatever works."

<EDC> Sam says, "Erm.. was being ah.. facetious? Lieutenant, perhaps superior shielding of shuttles would provide better protection than exo-suits?"

<EDC> James Bailey says, "Maybe...but I don't like the size of that swarm. They could completely surround the shuttles, and if they're able to do some damage, any damage..."

<EDC> Private Jayson Redfield hesitates for a moment. "Sam...don't tell me *you* were being *sarcastic*." He laughs a bit, despite the situation. "I don't know how we're gonna pull it off, but we're gonna protect those shuttles at all costs. At least, I am!"

<EDC> James Bailey says, "Let's target them with a combined barrage. Maybe if we take out a chunk of them, the rest will lose interest. Start at 3 o'clock and work your way clockwise?"

Exo-Jet Apollo Class <James Bailey> Robot opens fire with the gunpod, sending out a long stream of tracer rounds that have nearly limitless range in space, slowly walking it's fire to the right.

<EDC> Sam says, "Receiving.. strange energy readings. Suggesting use of unguided projectiles, unknown how energy weapons will react."

From Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam>, Sam, following suit, activates the ballistic weaponry systems, spitting out dozens of rounds of slugs to follow James' tracer rounds.

From Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield>, Jayson Redfield activates his machine guns and fires at the approaching creatures. Even in the midst of it all, he's still a smartass. "Hey, you guys ever see that movie Snakes on a Plane? Now we got Bats on an Asteroid. Who'd've thought?"

The combined firepower of the three EDC Exo-Suits scythe into the swarm of bats. The targets are still at long range, but without any visual magnification you can make out small rippling explosions wherever the rounds are aimed. If you zoom in, you see that each bat takes some light damage before blowing up. But there's so many...

And then a new twist! The few bats remaining in that section of the swarm just depleted by the EDC fire seem to twist and shift and reconfigure...they transform. Wings and limbs folding in until they are smoothly rounded missiles! These streak ahead of the flying creatures who are still in bat form, moving at close to Mach 1!

<EDC> Private Jayson Redfield says, "Please tell me I'm not seein' things. Are those bats...*transforming*?! Shit!"

<EDC> James Bailey says, "Transforming bats! That reminds me of something...can't place it now though. Take cover!"

<EDC> Private Jayson Redfield says, "Once you think of it, let us know. I'm always in the mood for a story. AHH!"

From Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam>, Sam, deadpan, says, "Of course. Seems most other life in galaxy consists of transforming aah!" He cuts his complaint short as a wave of the creatures streaks past him. The little Starknight twists and turns and does some sort of flip, trying to avoid the things.

Exo-Jet Apollo Class <James Bailey> Robot raises the small shield-like plate on it's arm, catching two of the missiles that explode in fairly impressive blasts, the sound transmitted down through the Exo, across the surface of the planet and to anyone else standing there. A third missile strikes the Apollo's midsection, setting the whole Exo-Suit shuddering. "Unh!" James' voice crackles over the EDC comm. "Not too much damage, but if all of those things detonate at once...!"

From Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield>, Jayson Redfield stares at the transforming bats. "WHOA!" he yelps as he dives to the side, out of a missile's path. He kneels and fires a laser at a bat who's gotten a little too close for comfort. " now we know they're giant alien robot bats. And I thought this assignment was gonna be boring!"

Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam> swats at a few of the missiles, since they're so close. "Very many of them, cannot get bearings, have --" static, as three bat-missiles explode on contact with the Starknight, kicking up debris and obscuring it from view for a few moments. "Ah.. physical contact not recommended," he finishes when his radio comes back on.

James Bailey checks his tactical display. "Rest of the wave will be here in 15 seconds!" That's's only been 30 seconds since all this started. Amazing how time slows down once the adrenaline stars flowing! "All units, open fire! Don't hold back, we've got to hit them with everything we've got!"

Twisting and shifting, the Apollo transforms into an exo-jet.

From Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield>, "Don't hafta tell me twice!" More machine gun fire. "These things are aimin' to kill! I'm not gonna get taken down so easily!" Sure, Jayson made be *saying* that, but he's keeping a close eye on his comrades. He wants to make sure *they* stay safe!

Exo-Jet Apollo Class <James Bailey> Jet pops open small compartments to reveal internal weapons hatches...from these a small swarm of mini-missiles streak out, aimed with maximum spread to impact with a wide arc of the approaching bat-creatures.

From the Shuttle Intrepid, the Starknight-equipped Terran Standard Troopers take up firing positions and unleash a massive barrage of fire, holding back one entire side of the bat-swarm.

From Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam>, Sam calls out over the sound of explosions, "*crackle* seem highly explosive, sw-*pop*-ing to electrical ar-*sizzle*-ck." From one of the other weapon pods on his Starknight streams a blue-white lightning arc weapon discharge.

<EDC> Private Jayson Redfield says, "Y'know, this is a lot like my First Person Shooter games. Except those are trying to kill you."

Electricity clearly seems to be the most effective attack, even more so than the Exo-Jet's mini-missiles. A single bolt of man-made lightning catches an entire line of the bats and somehow triggers their explosive attack, which often takes out neighbooring bats as well. Catching on quickly, the Starknights on the shuttle switch weapons as well, sending out streams of electricity that decimate the section they were targetting.

From Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam>, Sam blinks. "Ah. Hm."

From Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield>, "What a shocking fight," Jayson murmurs to no one in particular as he lets loose a stream of electricity.

By this time the bats have reached the EDC Exo-suits, converging on them from three directions (the bats from the last side have been utterly demolished by the Intrepid's Starknights). Sam and Jayson's fire is enough to whittle down the remaining bats significantly, but there are still enough to mob each Exo-Suit, buffeting them in a flurry of wings and fangs and claws that don't seem to be doing too much first.

That ooze that the bats were emitting? Acidic.

<EDC> Private Jayson Redfield says, "Oh my god!"

<EDC> James Bailey says, "We've got to get some distance. Sam, your thrusters!"

Exo-Jet Apollo Class <James Bailey> Jet fires it's large main engines and streaks up away from the surface of the asteroid, leaving behind a trail of bat-creatures that quickly try to follow along in his wake.

From Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam>, Sam keeps cutting swaths through the radio-acidi-mecha-bats with his lightning arcs. As they come in closer, he sets the beam to a wider dispersal, causing them to blow up nicely, and more -evenly- spray their metal-eating acid all over his exo-suit. "Think may be clearing most of --" AHOOOOOGA! AHOOOOOGA! Klaxons ring and red lights flash all over his console. "Aah!" he calls out over the radio, kicking his suit into reverse, not nearly as fast as the Apollo. "Systems reporting multiple structural failures!"

From Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield>, Jayson Redfield manages to get the bats off him for a moment, long enough to fire up the thrusters and try to escape. A bit of the acidic ooze has gotten onto the exo--that can't be good. He winces, then jerks his head up at Sam's call. "Just...just hang on!" He makes a beeline for the other Starknight. Meanwhile, the acid is slowly eating away the armor.

James Bailey brings his fighter arcing back around after leaving the bats pursuing him far behind, and lines up the pack for a few barrages of laser fire, picking them off from extreme distance again. But when there's only a few left, they transform into missile form and streak at him. "Damn!" James curses, breaking away in a banking turn, the handful missile-bats following him again, but unable to close in.

Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam> speeds away from the pack, towards the relative safety of the Banzai. But its thrusters are sputtering from the acid damage, and its attitude control isn't holding up to well. It's starting to spin a little. Sam grimaces, stabbing at the control panel, silencing alarms and adjusting the engine output. He even aims the suit's ballistic weapons downrange, firing in order to get a little extra momentum. "Still here. Ideas?"

Exo-Jet Apollo Class <James Bailey> Jet completes a wide banking turn that ends with the Exo-Jet flying back towards the other EDC craft again. "I could blast some of the ones after you," Even as he's transmitting this, James triggers his weapons, sending lasers chopping through a few of the bats after Sam. "But when their numbers are down low enough, they'll change into missiles, and then they'll be able to outrun a Starknight. And I've still got a few fans on my tail too!"

Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield> comes up beside Sam. "I got one idea! Try to keep moving." The exo zooms off toward James and the bat-missiles that are following him--a bit *too* close to the missiles. He takes aim, and fires one more shot of electricity, hitting one of the missiles, and effectively causing a chain reaction when it explodes. He's caught up in the series of explosions, and damaging the Starknight, but not as badly as it might have been. "Whoa...that was an explosive idea, huh?"

Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam> speeds along, but one of the radio-acidi-mecha-bat-missiles catches up to its left foot and explodes. Inside, the lights go out and the exo-suit starts to tumble. About ten seconds later, the lights come back up, but Sam isn't in view of his camera. Well, actually his feet are. He's gotten himself turned upside down to do something. "Mmph! Keep them away, need thirty seconds!"

Exo-Jet Apollo Class <James Bailey> Jet snaps a quick roll to move even farther away from Jayson's Starknight as it zooms by - it didn't look like they were in danger of colliding, but at these speeds why take chances. "That was a -brilliant- idea, kid (and a really bad joke, even for us). Sam, I'm gonna try and get your pack into missile mode and after me. When I do, I'll lead them around for you to light up." The Apollo unleashes another horde of mini-missiles, probably it's last volley, tearing into the bats still menacing Sam's Exo. Predictable, most of the remaining bats shift into missile mode and try to chase the speedy Exo-Jet. "Sam...Sam, do you copy?!"

From Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield>, It's Jayson's job to make bad jokes, apparently. After James fires the mini-missiles, he tries to get between Sam and the remaining bats. That plan backfires, however, as the bats transform and go after James. "Here we go again," he sighs. "James!" he calls, as he fires more electricity at the few bats who haven't transformed. "How many more of those missiles do you have?"

From Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam>, Sam practically yells to be heard by his radio inputs, which he had to leave behind with his helmet to squeeze down into the access behind the control panel on his Starknight. "Five seconds!" Three, two, one. Click. He quickly drags himself back into the pilot's seat, upright again. Still with no helmet, and thus a limited HUD, he has to manually target the weapons systems a little more manually than usual. Crackafoom! The electrical cannon cuts a swath through the line of missiles trailing James, causing a massive explosion.

<EDC> Private Jayson Redfield says, "Whoa, Sam. That was SWEET!"

James Bailey glances to one side as he checks. "Uh...just ran dry." He blinks. "But the shuttles should have a full load of rockets." He's been keeping his Exo-Jet flying back and forth across the space around the EDC position, carefully controlling his velocity so that the missile-bats remain on his tail close but not close enough to be caught in the blast in case they explode - or are detonated...

Which Sam oblingingly does. There's no boom in space...but there are certainly enough fireworks to give the most EDC troopers a pleasant sense of satisfaction.

<EDC> The voices of the Terran Standard Troops erupt as well, most cheering or hooting in approval.

Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam> then unceremoniously shorts out again.

Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield> heads over to the other Starknight and takes hold of it. "You okay, Sam?"

Twisting and shifting, the Apollo transforms into an exo-suit.

From Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam>, Sam sighs quietly, in the darkness and silence, and completely to himself because his radio is dead, he mutters, "Can already hear Andi Lassiter yelling about this..."

Exo-Jet Apollo Class <James Bailey> Robot jets down and comes to a stop next to the other Starknights, looking them over.

Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam> drifts.

<EDC> James Bailey says, "Scanners clear, that was the last of 'em. Better get him back onto the Banzai, kid. We might be able to patch up his Exo, but either way he'll be a lot more comfortable."

<EDC> Private Jayson Redfield says, "Roger that!"

Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield> has a good amount of damage, but nothing that can't be fixed. With Sam's Starknight in tow, it starts back toward the Banzai.

Exo-Jet Apollo Class <James Bailey> Robot remains behind to make sure the tow cables that started this whole mess are still securely fastened. It should be along in a minute.

From Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam>, Sam is dragged!

Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam> is dragged, anyway!

From Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield>, Jayson Redfield manages to get Sam all the way to the Banzai. "Well, this turned out to be quite the adventure, huh?"

James Bailey finally follows along. James mutters, "It's not over yet, kid - that was just the easy part."

From Terran Shuttle <Banzai>, Sam leaves the Exo-Suit 5385 Starknight Spare <Sam>.

Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield> has arrived.

Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield> has left.

Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield> enters the Terran Shuttle <Banzai>.

From Terran Shuttle <Banzai>, Jayson Redfield leaves the Exo-Suit 5373 Starknight Spare <Jayson Redfield>.

From Terran Shuttle <Banzai>, Sam has to manual pop the seals on his exo. The electrical system seems completely drained.

<EDC> Private Jayson Redfield says, "I suddenly have a strange urge to watch that Batman show from the 1960's."

Terran Shuttle <Banzai> has left.

Terran Shuttle <Banzai> enters Copernicus Station.

==================================== EDC =====================================
Message: 22/17                     Posted        Author
Operation: Early Harvest (Stage 1) Fri Jul 25    James Bailey
Operation: Early Harvest is underway. Thanks to the information supplied by 
Specialists Apocryhacius and Wolfe, we were able to approach the target asteroid 
- designated Harvest One - and Technician Sam, Cadet Redfield and I executed the 
first stage of salvage operations. We utilized two shuttles, Starknights and an
 Apollo-Class Exo-Jet, with Exo-Platoon 5327 supporting.

We succefully connected tow cables from the shuttles to the surface of Harvest One 
as called for in the mission plan. However, fastening the cables somehow attracted 
the attention of a swarm of transforming space-bats on the far side of the Asteroid. 
Due to exemplary Exo-Suit piloting by Sam, Redfield and the 5327th, we were able to
 neutralize the threat and proceed with the mission.

I'm pleased to report that Harvest One has been positioned in geosynchronous orbit 
at a safe but accessible distance from Copernicus station. I've left the 5327th 
stationed on Harvest One temporarily to make sure there are no further inhabitants 
and also to prevent any unauthorized access to Harvest One. Truly these are 
troubled times we live in.

==================================== EDC =====================================
Message: 22/18                     Posted        Author
Addendum: 'Bats on an Asteroid'    Fri Jul 25    James Bailey
After some research, I discovered a file on the first reported sighting of these 
creatures, 'Lipoles', submitted by none other than our very own Colonel Faireborne. 
The record indicates these creatures were first encountered on Jupiter's moon of Io, 
and eat metal for sustenance, which may explain their presence on Harvest One which 
may have passed near Io at some point and contains enough metal to be a buffet of epic 
proportions for metal-eaters. They also secrete an acidic substance and transform into
 self-propelled exposive devices (living missiles).

Based on our experiences, effective tactics against these creatures include the 
following: 1) Electricity based attack, 2) avoiding physical contact, and 3) engaging 
with craft capable of speeds of Mach 1.5 or greater.

I have documented our findings and added them to the 'Lipoles' file.

        -- Lt Bailey

================================== Reports ===================================
Message: 9/55                      Posted        Author
EDC Salvages Giant Asteroid        Fri Jul 25    James Bailey


        COPERNICUS STATION (EARTH ORBIT) - In what EDC officials are calling 'a 
deep-space salvage operation', the EDC has towed a giant metal asteroid into orbit 
of Earth. Details are sketchy, but official sources indicate the EDC intends to mine
 the asteroid, labelled 'Harvest One', for metals to use in repairs of the Copernicus 
Space Station, recently damaged in a Decepticon attack. It's been suggested that the 
amount of raw material available in an asteroid of this size should exceed by far the
 requirements for such a repair project, leaving questions on what the EDC plans to 
do with the remainder.

        'Harvest One' is currently in stable geosynchronous orbit and is maintaining 
a distance of 30 kilometers from Copernicus station. Many times larger than the 
station itself, it is also visible from the surface of Earth if the viewer knows where 
to look and the skies are clear enough.

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