The StormKeepers Chronicles
Volume IV "Masters of the Galaxy"

Copyright (c) 1998 by Low Ee Mien
All references to Hercs and the StarSiege Universe (c) 1998 Dynamix Corporation

Prelude : The Calm Before the Storm

SK HercBase #3
2137 hrs
Planet Mars
12 hours before the storm...

It was going to be a short, simple and private ceremony, held in the close confines of Chief Instructor Hanuman's office. Consisting of nothing more than one desk, two chairs and four walls, the room now held four StormKeepers officers who had to jostle a little for elbow room.

CI Hanuman cleared his throat, "Greetings to all. Today we are gathered here to officiate the promotion of one of our finest officers to the next rank level."

"Ravager [SK] Lollipop G3W, please step forward."

[SK] Louie G3L grinned inwardly to himself. Step forward, huh. There wasn't room enough here to do a little salute, let alone a full officiation ceremony. Ah well, it was the usual war-time constraints all over again. Louie did recall the official lines though, since he'd heard it said out for himself quite a few times in his career. The words themselves varied a little over the years, but the formalities never changed. He recalled how proudly he stood in front of [SK] Hanuman himself, so long ago, listening to the very same lines that would be read out again today.

Pulling himself to full height (with no small amount of caution, trying not to bump his head against the low ceiling), [SK] Lollipop stood at parade attention. Right behind him, peering over his shoulders, Louie and Jeffr did their level best to do the same.

"In recognition of your piloting abilities, leadership skills and the honour that you have brought to the squad, you have been promoted to the Fire-Rage level..."

[SK] Jeffr managed to stop himself from turning his head and looking around, remembering at the last millisecond that his team-mate [SK] Sinclair was on PERIHASP (PERImeter Herc Active Standard Patrol) and was probably enjoying himself quite a bit stomping around in his Minotaur and kicking up the characteristically-red martian sand outside the base.

"You will serve with your new rank with all the honour, integrity, and sense of justice that this position commands."

Louie's short-attention-span, computer-like, *impatient* mind wandered around a bit, going over missile targeting elevations and ELF weapon ranges, waiting for the final part...

"... and all who are present, and all StormKeepers, past, present and future, shall henceforth recognise you as Fire-Rage [SK] Lollipop G3W. May the Aldur watch over you, and may the Omni-Factor grant its blessings onto you."


The room fairly rattled with the StormKeepers' customary greeting / salutation / battle-cry.

Released from the formalities of the official ceremony, Lollipop, Louie and Jeffr poured out of the cramped office into the bright lights of the hallway.

[SK] Louie grinned his trademark grin/smile/smirk (if you didn't know him well enough, you really couldn't tell which) at his friend and counterpart of fifteen years.

"Welcome to the Fire-Rage Club, Lolli, and bla, bla, bla... [8-) Come on, we'll buy you a drink at the bar."

Which was a joke really, since all on-base drinks were free, and there was no such thing as a bar with real alcohol in there. But it *was* a standing joke, so everyone grinned and sauntered over to the mini-canteen and grabbed a can of orange juice.

Three hours and twelve card games later, it was time for Lights Out. Presently, the deep rumble of an approaching Herc signaled the return of Sinclair from patrol duty. Taking the next watch, Hanuman stomped out in his own forty-ton war machine.

Outside the fortified structure, after the footsteps of Hanuman's Herc had died down, the air was windless, and the night was silent, but it spoke of impending doom...

... continued