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Liberty Two Democracies | Book Story Novel Of Liberty

LIBERTY two Democracies. 



The suns reflected off her mirrored

glasses as she walked across the dry

grassland. A scarf covered her face

against the dust whipped up by the

occasional gust of wind. Her grey

robe parted with



revealing glimpses of the black

firmsuit underneath. She carried

no weapons; they wouldn't help

her this time.

From the low rise ahead she

would be able to see what she had

come for.

She stopped on the crest and

pulled back her hood. Her long,

dark hair escaped and hung around

her shoulders. In the distance

stood a city, gleaming white

through the heat haze.

"It is time."

She didn't acknowledge the

speaker, continuing to stare across

the savannah. With the optical

enhancements in her glasses she

could make out personal aircars

coming and going between the


"I cannot protect you if you go

any further."

A larger aircraft arrived and


touched down on one of the

buildings, a commuter transport

no doubt. People going to work,

going shopping, meeting friends.

"Does this have to happen?" she

asked her escort.

"It is too late now. We cannot



"All stations, stand by to engage.

Full burn on my mark..." said

Captain Hapsburg in measured

tones. "Mark."





Destruction powered forward, and

swung around the moon it had

been using for cover. The tactical

sensors marked their target, a

Congressional destroyer in orbit

around the planet Orpus-4. The

navigational routines offered a set

of courses to the pilot, who




corkscrew approach. The Caretaker

watched all this with mild interest;

there was little else to occupy its

thoughts right now, the ship was in

prime condition and the crew were






acceleration couches.

The Rampager class was an




Indescribable Joy of Destruction the

eighth to be constructed by the

Republic. They were built around

their main beam weapon and their

engines. Unheard-of levels of

computing power allowed a high-

level AI to take over most of the

basic functions of the ship, leaving

a crew of only seven. This, in turn,

meant that very little room was

needed for living space, so the

power plants, weapons and engines

could be far larger for a ship of its


A minute after The Indescribable

Joy of Destruction cleared the moon,

the enemy started a slow turn to

meet them. Ten seconds into their

manoeuvre, they launched a spread

of missiles.

"I've got them," said the tactical

officer, and the Caretaker switched. 





functions to the simulated bridge.

The tactical officer tagged the

missiles with sweeps of his hands

and passed them to the point

defence systemsS.








unpredictable approach



missiles rushed towards it. The

enemy ship completed its turn, andd

lit off its main drives. There was no







destroyer had ever survived an






Railgun rounds spewed out of

the destroyer's turrets. Moments

later the first missile entered the

range of The Indescribable Joy of

Destruction's point defences. The

ship hummed as the lasers drew

power. Systematically the missiles

detonating harmlessly.
of railgun
wasn't far behind. The
worked with the navigation routine
to dodge the denser regions,
the occasional metal slug impacted
on the hull, sending dull clangs
reverberating around the ship.
The tactical officer pulled upa
magnified image of the target,
dimensional model. A lurid orange
highlight followed his finger as he
marked a line across a pair of large
turrets. He sent a
through the Electronic Interface
System embedded in his brain, and
the ship's throbbing intensified as
the main weapon came online.
Congressional warshipp and the
beam fired, slashing through the
The pilot twisted The
Indescribable Joy of Destruction
about, swinging around in a wide
arc ready for another pass. The
enemy vessel turned too, but was
completely outclassed in terms of
"Same again," said Captain
Hapsburg. "This time break across
at the last second and hit the
turrets on the opposite side."
Despite the reduced weight of
fire put out by the enemy ship, they
still got in plenty of hits. Nothing
The Indescribable Joy of Destruction's
hull couldn't self-repair, though.
highlighted the cut he wanted from
the main beam. The side-step
worked, and the enemy lost two
This time,
however, they launched missiles as
passed. The
the hunter-killer
tactical officer gave the point
defence routine authority to fire
with a thought through his EIS.
The lasers took out the first five
missiles, and hit the next two as
they left their silos. A series of
explosions rippled along one side of
the enemy ship as their remaining
stocks detonated.
The pilot pulled them around in
a tight turn and threw the ship at
the target yet again, aiming at the
gap they'd carved out in the rail-
commander didn't let them get a
clean run, rolling the destroyer to
keep the still-functioning turrets
facing them. It would only delay
the inevitable victory.
Hapsburg ordered. Target their
Destruction barrelled in, swinging
its nose around ready to bring the
main beam to bear as it passed. The

enemy destroyer was moving fast

now, and the pilot had to aim for a

point ahead of it in order to pass as

close behind as possible. A fraction

of a second before the tactical

officer fired the main weapon,

something detached from the stern

of the enemy ship. Human reflexes

were too slow to even register it

before the collision; the AI tried to

adjust their course, but it was too

late. The nuclear mine detonateed

against the hull. Power surged

through the ship, blowing out

circuits. The Caretaker shut down.





The Caretaker came online and

found it

alone. Captain


Hapsburg and the six other crew members were dead. The ship's

main personality was silent. The

logs since the Caretaker had shut

down were blank. As the queries

came back from the ship's systems,

it discovered that the ship was

badly damaged, lacking the power

and resources to repair itself.


The Caretaker reviewed the

document. It was a brief situation

update from the main personality,

explaining that it had gone into

hibernation to reduce the drain on

power. It instructed the Caretaker

to get the ship home. There was no

report on what had happened in

the intervening time.

The Caretaker almost rebooted

the main AI core there and then. It

wasn't programmed to deal with

this kind of situation. It was only

supposed to keep the place tidy and

help coordinate repairs. Then it

calculated how long the power

reserves would last, and realised

that they wouldn't even make it out

of the system.

Where are we?

It had never had to know

anything about navigation, but a

glance at the ship's external sensors

showed they were no longer in the

Orpus system. It queried the

navigation routine and found it to

be off-line. Determined to discover

its location, and slightly concerned

that it didn't know how it got

there, it searched the database and

absorbed a manual on astrogation.

Another look at the external feeds,

and it determined that they were in

a system three jumps away from

the scene of the battle.

Probably safe from pursuit. For


There was so much it should be

doing. It didn't know what exactly

yet, but it should be able to work it

out. For now, at least, it could do

what it was built to do. It could tidy

up the interior of the ship.





attention to the internal sensors.

Bodies littered the






Congressional Marine armour.

So, we were boarded.

There was no point in doing

anything about the enemy bodies

right now. Once it had a full

inventory, it would know whether

it needed to salvage the materials

in their armour.

The Caretaker ordered a repair

robot to the bridge. Normally the

machine would have refused the

command, a failsafe to protect the

crew if it malfunctioned, but with

no-one left alive, the 'bot complied.

As the spindly, multi-legged

device gently lifted the first body

seat, the

from its


reviewed the personnel files. All

crew members had recorded the

traditional request for burial in

space. By the time the last corpse

had been reverently laid out in the

loading bay, the Caretaker had


calculated the


required. It recited the lines laid

down in the regulations, and

played the prescribed fanfare as it

launched the bodies on their way.

In a few months time they would

burn up in the system's sun.

The Caretaker reflected on the

task ahead. There had been clear

instructions on how a funeral was

to be conducted, following them

had been easy. There didn't seem to

be a rulebook for getting a crippled

ship home without a human crew.

The Caretaker pieced together

some of what had happened as it

completed its inventory. In the

battle and its aftermath, the ship


used all its reserves of

materials to regrow the hull and

key systems. It had been forced to

cannibalise non-essential parts of

itself in order to scavenge some of

the rarer elements needed to

rebuild the engines.

The architects of the Rampager

class had envisioned swarms of the

sleek hunter-killers converging on

Congressional capital ships and

tearing them apart, overturning

Congress' current superiority. As

they were designed

purely for

hunting enemy warships, combat

survivability had been high on the

list of 'must haves'. This had led to




which could heal itself in the midst

of a battle. Once the titanium

skeleton had been laid, the body of

the ship was literally grown over it,

a process that turned out to be too


to allow the

hoped-for swarms to be ready. If

The Indescribable Joy of Destruction

had been deployed with its siblings,

it wouldn't now be in



The Caretaker realised that it

needed somewhere to hole up. If it

could find a source of raw materials

and fuel, and was left alone for

long enough, it could fix the ship

and hand back to the main

personality. Trawling through the

astronavigation database, it found a

suitable system; out of the way and

likely deserted. It should have the

natural resources it needed to

repair and replenish its stores. And

the system was within range of the

abused drives.


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