Assault of the Clones [Open/SWG]

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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The Ctan
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Assault of the Clones [Open/SWG]

Postby The Ctan » Thu Dec 14, 2017 6:05 pm


“We need to hold out just a little longer.”

The ship was a scout ship, one of the best that the government of Antooine could get. One of the last that the government of Antooine had. Small and conical, the ship was festooned with transmitters and very little in the way of guns, the ship was speeding with its engines bright as it shot away from the planet. Flashes of light lit the space around it as fighters soared after it, aggressive angular TIE pursuit fighters that flashed green fire at the ship.

The scout-ship buzzed through an asteroid, the ring-shaped mountain of rock hiding it from the larger ships in pursuit while the attack fighter followed it like a flock of aggressive birds. The pursuit fighter was more massive than the standard TIE fighter, and boosted by advances in radiator design, it was able to carry stronger and more capable engines, giving it the speed and manoeuvrability to keep pace with even the fastest enemies, while mounting weapons that could engage the light freighters and gunships that were often the bane of its cousins.

“They’re still on our tail,” the same speaker snapped, desperate in the cockpit. There were three seats, the first was occupied by Vel Elanna, the best pilot that could be found in the taproot cantinas of Antooine’s only spaceport, Mos Vayya. The morpheme ‘tooine’ in ancient Rakatan was popularly thought to translate to ‘receptacle for bodily wastes’ and it implied something about the planets that bore that suffix. Antooine was something of an exception, it was at least fertile enough for farming, and pleasant enough on large parts of its surface to actually boast both rain and dry periods.

Left bereft of planetary government like so many other worlds, by the collapse of the Galactic Concord, and the wider effects of military campaigns, the planet was one of a million that were vulnerable to raiders. Pirates had come, the fireknives and others, but this was something different.

The fighters that surged after them were quite identical, a uniformity that spoke of the military ability of those who sent them. Vel would never forget when they and their masters had arrived.
__ __ __

The Lazy Bantha was a pleasant enough cantina, and its upper levels provided decent quarters at a good price for a trader or pilot passing through. By the standards of the Outer Rim, it was good, the ale and spirits were decent, too. Vel had been woken in the night by the sound of a photon bomb ripping up the landscape somewhere far too close. Darting from the bed she’d run to the window. For a moment, she thought it must have been a crash, it was a spaceport, after all, it happened, albeit rarely.

The sight from the window dispelled any illusion, though, a blue fireball loomed over the city, and she panicked, backing away from the window to her bed, trying to get away from the line of sight and the glass of the window. Her fears weren’t justified, it was far away, but she knew what it meant, and that meant that she had no desire to be there any-more.

Being in a warzone was very bad when you owned your own ship, she knew, and she grabbed her gunbelt, pelting through the door and corridor beyond, disgarding the lock card and running, clawing a jacket on as she hauled ass past other pilots and crew, smacking hard enough to feel jarring pain from the heel of her hand hitting the door on her co-pilot’s room. “Ichix, get up! Get out here!”

The gand’s response was burbled from beyond the door, and she knew enough to know what he was saying; he was denying the nickname. His species considered individual monikers and identifiers as awards, and he had not earned one; she was quite determined to win him over in the end. Right now, though, she didn’t care.

“There’s an attack, we have to get out of here.”

The cylinder door of the alternate atmosphere room rotated, and a cloying scent filled the corridor as the burly insect-hominid stepped out, his glittering eyes shining in the light.

They ran together from the cantina, into the streets. If they got to the spaceport before it fell, perhaps they would be able to get out, and to somewhere better. There were people in the streets, milling aimlessly and spilling out from the pillared and colonnaded buildings, and the smaller ones that spilled off the main streets in all directions. Other houses had pulled blast shutters into place, while some people were apparently already looting, out for supplies.

Worse still, far too many were heading for the spaceport. She could see crowds, and she didn’t want them latching onto her as a pilot, she turned her coat’s collar down, trying to hide the old TradeFed pilot patch, and looked to Ichix.

“Let’s get through quietly,” she said, and he nodded. The motion never looked right on him.

She tucked her collar up and walked toward the spacers’ entrance, only to watch the blast doors begin to close. She broke into a run, “Hey!” she cried, pelting across the crunchy plasphalt, “My ship’s in there!”

The crowd heard her, “Hey, spacer, spacer take us with you!”

“Let us on her ship!”

The situation’s absurdity struck Vel, she was fleeing from a fight she didn’t understand, though a crowd that had no more information than she. She looked upward, and regretted it instantly.

The ominous wedge of a warship was emerging from the clouds, and from it, bulky troopships were falling like leaves across the city, their pale white hulls smeared with the barely-visible shimmer of active shields.

The crowd began to scatter as landing craft came down, some were landing directly in the spaceport, others outside but it was clear that no one wanted to try their luck, and rightfully so, the moment the landers hit the ferrocrete and plasphalt, their boarding ramps slammed down with the force of explosive bolts, disgorging dozens of hardshell armoured troopers, firing wild bolts of crimson fire into the crowds.

“Run!” Vel shouted, her voice drowned out.

They fled, the crowd scatted with them like a flock of startled gulls, running for doorways, and the sides of buildings, as the blaster bolts rippled through the crowd like fire. Vel sprinted around a corner, watching as blaster bolts smacked pits into the ground and the walls, punching holes through walls and people alike.

Ichix rounded the corner, and she grinned, “The underpass, we should be able to,” she stopped in her tracks, and turned. Ichix was wounded, acrid black fumes rose from him, and he moved, twisting in pain where he had fallen.

She turned, and reached down, clasping his hand in hers, searching.

His other hand was on his chest, the wound almost hidden, and she tried to lift him, failing.

“Do not imperil,” he said, his vocoder speaking for him.

She ignored him, and lifted him, hauling on his free arm, she could hear the sounds of distress but hauled him along. She didn’t speak, she couldn’t speak. It couldn’t be so… random.

The off-world soldiers in their white armoured suits turned the corner. They were not tall, but stocky, built powerfully and with wide, squared off helmets that could hold any number of species, narrow gunslit visors made them look almost like small walking pillboxes than men. They raised their weapons in unison, standard drilled motions.

The ground exploded beneath them, tearing the street with fire, as an air-speeder went overhead. Vel didn’t look twice, she was shaken from her complacency, “Come on,” she said, hauling Ichix with her as she fled.
__ __ __

The ship juddered as they circled through the belt, searing light from the Antooine sun stabbing through the windows, spiralling as they moved. The attack pods were a little further, and Vel looked back at the communications expert sat uncomfortably next to her. She’d never been in a fight like this before, but she was somehow more composed than the man at the communications station, whose palms gleamed with the same sweat as his brow. A small screen set into the station in front of him showed the sine-wave of the hypernet carrier signal, staggered and juddering from the interference generated by the warships they were fleeing.

“It’s clearing,” he said, nervously, watching carefully for the moment when it would be worth trying to maximise transmitter power output and gain, they had no fancy way to punch through the jamming, just hope for distance and time. Once they got to six planetary diameters, it would be possible to calculate a jump to lightspeed, but if they got a clear signal beforehand, that would do almost as well.
__ __ __

“I think we’re safe here,” Vel said, slamming against the wall and breathing heavily. They weren’t the only ones seeking safety in the tunnel, and some had recovered from panic enough to draw blasters, consider their options. Vel did likewise, they had guns, but the attacking soldiers were fully armoured and trained warriors.

Vel held her blaster, taking the safety off and wincing as she looked at Ichix, the Gand was breathing, just, but he had slumped down the moment they’d stopped, she could rarely tell when he was sleeping. “Are you awake? How... do you feel?”

“I’m… hurt,” the words were simple and slow, the work of a translator framing complex words into simplicities, “I’m dying.”

She would not believe it, and she reached to his chest, looking for some way to help, “No, no,” she said, she said it again, and again, until there was no further point.
__ __ __

An icy boulder the size of her ship flashed into pieces amidst a burst of blaster fire, and Vel breathed a spiteful breath as she span the ship around again, they were fast running out of belt, pieces of space debris the size of houses flashing past as grit ground from their shields and hull as they soared through the belt. The TIE fighter’s narrow frame came into view and she squeezed the trigger on her controls, watching as it burst into pieces under the fusillade from the tiny nose-mounted cannon.

“How’s that signal going?” she shouted.

“Nearly! We can nearly send it.”

“Hurry,” she said.

The sun glimmered off the gunmetal shapes of other fighters weaving through the belt, and she punched the engine once more, careening on another vector.

A dazzling flash flared ahead, darkening the cockpit windows as they polarized to protect the eyes of the crew, and a tsunami raced through the icy asteroids, rippling through them and tearing them apart. As the wave passed it rang the hull like a great bell, and Vel covered her ears in instinctive pain.

“What was that?” one of the technicians cried.

“Siesmic charge,” she said. “They must have worked out what we’re trying to do. It’s now or never,” she said, glancing at the depleted shields, “we won’t take another hit like that.”

“Almost, almost, got it,” the technician cried, his hands adjusting the controls, “Got it, sending now!” he snapped. “It’s gone!”

“Right, let’s make a break for it,” Vel said, hauling the stick around, as the ship surged out of the rubble cast by the seismic charges.

The TIE fighters surged after them, and one of them fired a missile that streaked toward the scout ship. Vel had never even asked this ship’s name, it was a way to hit back, and that was what she wanted and needed right now.

It hit, but there was no damage. “A tracker then,” she said, “well follow us to Dornalian Space,” she said, “see where that gets you,” she added, and input the coordinates for that destination, punching in the numbers, and watching the navi-computer begin working, a set of lights blinking its status.

She wove an evasive course as the fighters tailing her began to fire, switching to ion cannons to finalize their capture, tracing every movement, almost. Daring them to hit her, she pirouetted into the last vector, giving everything the little scout ship had to make it to the hyper-limit. The TIE pursuers were a little slower, and she watched the seconds tick down, hands on the levers to jump the ship to hyperspace.

A heartbeat to go, and she saw the last computation light blink as it neared completion. A warning sounded, and she searched the panels. Tractor beam lock.

She cursed with every bone in her body and hit the panel, the hyperdrive wouldn’t engage when the ship was in a tractor beam powerful enough to arrest their motion; stress would tear the ship to atoms.

The Star Destroyer loomed large behind them, as the scout-ship was reeled in like a fish on a line. Vel Elanna drew her pistol and vowed to sell her life dearly. She had already got the message out. She’d won already.
__ __ __

Atha Prime watched from the bridge of the Annihilator as the ship was reeled in. A Star Destroyer by any standard, the Annihilator was built from information and knowledge stolen from shipyards across the galaxy at the highest of prices; knowledge brought to him from across the galaxy, carefully pieced together and assembled painstakingly. It had been tested and tested again.

“Bring the pilot to me,” he said, turning from the windows of his cockpit module.

His crew did not speak an acknowledgement, there was no need, his word had been given and would be done, and the Clone Master rose, towering over his personal control platforms and the pits of crewmen around him, walking through the doorway.

The Councilmen of Antooine waited in the chambers outside the bridge, each of them secured by binders and a guard behind them. He looked down at them, humans, aliens, a mixture and a rabble, nervousness on every face. “One of you, or more, sent a scout ship to beg for aid,” he said, “which of you did so?”

He searched them, their features were weak, and he wondered at the duros who stepped forward, “I did,” the grey-skinned being did.

Atha bent forward, his hand holding his staff of office, and he went down to one knee to bring his eyes, the only visible part of his features, closer to in-line with the humans, even so the man shrank back against the warrior who held him. “Cunning, to use only a single ship, one that could pass as an escape attempt if it was intercepted. You did not fail, though,” he said, “your message was sent, and not jammed. Do you rejoice?”

“I think it is time to renegotiate,” the councilman said, “there is little doubt that help will be on the way.”

“So be it,” Atha Prime said, “take the rest to the surface, let them go,” he said, “secure what supplies we already have, and prepare to depart. You will remain for a time,” he said, “what is your name?”

“Dor Bin,” the councilman said, watching as his fellows were taken, “you are leaving?”

“Yes,” Atha said, “we’re yet ready to confront a rescue fleet. Soon we will be, but not for long.”

“Then, I think we’re all glad that you’ve seen reason, your eminence?”

Atha Prime rose up to his full height once more, and turned his head with the ponderousness of a tank turret to regard the doorway as it opened once more and a squad of clone warriors entered, carrying the stunned and restrained form of Vel Elanna through the doors.

One of them looked upward, removing his helmet to reveal handsome features beneath. “This is the pilot, Father. We lost seven as we boarded.”

“Good,” Atha said. “You are intelligent, for a politician,” he said to Dor Bin. “And this was an excellent pilot. Better than our current pilots perhaps. Take them to craino-scan,” he said.

“Wait,” Dor Bin paused, attempting to step backward as the guards seized his arms.

“Your talents will be of use,” Atha Prime said. “We will not speak again. The process is fatal. Fear not, you will fare no worse than your fellows; they will carry my plague down to the surface. Any planet that resists is punished.”

“What, wait, hang on a moment, let’s be reason,” Atha prime nodded to one of the guards, and Dor slumped down in his restraints as one of the guards stunned him at short range.

“Intelligent, but far too talkative,” the Clone Master said. “we will correct that.”
__ __ __

Bombers swept from the ships that orbited Antooine, twin-hulled things with biogenic payloads. The Clone Master had ordered the infection of Antooine, and they would obey. The shuttle that had carried the councillors back to the planet had landed in Mos Vayya, one of hundreds taking food-stocks, vaporator equipment, drillheads, industrial droids and anything else that sensor probes could find on the surface. It was a raid a plague of locusts had descended from the ships in orbit, but their feast had been interrupted. IT would have taken weeks to strip the planet of everything that they had wanted, but the locals had sent a message and a relief fleet could already be racing through hyperspace to the planet.

The bombers streaked over oases and cities, and their glide-pods scattered aerosolized plagues across the planet. Atha Prime had given his command and within half an hour, hundreds of drop sites had scattered every mesa and sand-sea with infection elements; every city and larger town had been afflicted.

The punishment was not yet just delivered from the air, however. Clones obeyed any order without question, and not one flinched from the tasks given to them before they withdrew. Burning hospitals and pharmacies, hunting down medi-flyers and shattering the medical infrastructure of the planet.

Massacre was a currency, and fear a tool.

The clone troopers burnt out every spaceport and orbital strikes were used to destroy anywhere an interplanetary ship could be found. The plague would remain on Antooine unless someone ignored the beacons and landed on the planet to bring aid to its people.

Orbital mines and medical warning beacons were scattered in orbit and at the planet’s lagrange points respectively.

When all this was done, the Clone Master’s ships prepared for hyperspace…

This thread is for the Star Wars RP Group. Head on over or visit our Discord and say hi if you're interested! Anyone wanting to join in feel free to hop in, first reply gets to decide if you intercept the Clone Fleet if it's leaving or if you miss it. The message would outline in brief terms that the planet has been attacked by a force of destroyer-class starships and identify them as pirates.
Last edited by The Ctan on Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:53 am, edited 2 times in total.
"If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"The Necrons were amongst the first beings to come into existance, and have sworn that they will rule over the living." - Still surprisingly accurate!
"Be you anywhere from Progress Level 5 or 6 and barely space-competent, all the way up to the current record of PL-20 for beings like the C’Tan..." Lord General Superior Rai’a Sirisi, Xenohumanity
"Many races and faiths have considered themselves to be a threat to the Necrons, but their worlds and their cultures are now little more than interesting archaeology."

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Democratic Socialists

Postby Telros » Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:02 pm

Listening Post Delta Two, Protectorate Territory
Core Systems Sector, Kojash System

”But...But why Adrius?!

I had to follow the Force, my dear.

You said the Force brought us together.

Yes and it drove us away from each other.”

Anjan leaned back in his chair, lazing watch some of the latest holodrama dreck that had been coming into the sector lately. It was overly dramatic and badly acted, but it fit into his guilty pleasure watching. Sometimes you just wanted junk food for the mind and everyone had their own vice for this, his was the holograms. Plus it helped pass the time for his long and boring shifts as a listening post operator for the Protectorate. During the rebuilding process, they had established long strings of these outposts, using a mix of Imperium sensor and processing technology and the local systems ability to detect objects at FTL speeds, to serve as early warning systems for the Protectorate Navy. Planetary Defense Fleets, or PDF's, were there to protect system shipping and fight off pirates, raiders and the small invasion force, but any dedicated forces would be too much. Thus the posts, to inform local fleets so they can come in and blunt or fight off the attack. They were well-trained and paid, with the Lord Warden and the Assembly not sparing any expense, the Chaos War still fresh in their minds.

It was still mind-numbingly boring though. And thus, holodrama soaps for his shifts. On one screen, a badly shot lightsaber duel between the protagonists love interest and the other part of the love triangle went on, while another had his reports, both filed and current, with one half finished for the first half of his shift. A third screen showed the data scrolling down the holographic screen, reading radiation levels, solar winds, and any signs of hyperdrive or other FTL signatures. He had been recruited after the Assembly had passed and the Warden signed the Draft Act into law five years ago, massively expanding the manpower people they had for the military, production centers and more. They had offered generous pay but it wasn't doing enough to finish the timetable so they had drafted. It caused a stir, angered people, until they saw the benefits packages and pay, plus the fact it was termed, not until they said so. At the end of it, they had sector infrastructure, a vibrant economic system, and a listening post system.

The third screen superimposed itself over the others, with a spike in activity being shown and data scrolling down the screen. Moving his boots off the desk and sitting forward, his hands interacted with the floating keys, soft chimes sounding upon touch. His implant activated, pulling up the data and reconstructing it for his eyes. Security filers activated upon receiving the data, sifting for any worms or bugs trying to sneak its way in.

A message then? Who the hell is transmitting this far? The degradation into the quality hints at this being from across the damn galaxy.

The security did its work and determined there was nothing malicious in the message and brought it in. A footnote made a bell noise off the side of his vision, indicating it was from Antooine in the Outer Rim, confirming this was a far reaching signal. A thought had the scrubbers cleaning up the degradation as best they could, smoothing out the data fractures as best they could. When they finished, he finally played the message. It was short, very short for most messages, and when the contents were revealed, the reasoning behind it struck him in the gut.


Anjan grabbed the message, keeping it playing the background while he tasked the posts computers to analyze the message further while he called up archival info on Antooine. It responded in a couple seconds, dumping maybe a paragraphs worth of information on the planet, half of it being statistics for population, economic parity and so on. It was a shithole of a planet, resembling Tatooine in more than name, without the crime world undercurrent to give it that zest. It didn't make any sense to Anjan, why would anyone want to attack an Outer Rim world with no resources.

It had to be a message of some kind, but without more data, they had no idea behind the intent this action was meant to convey. It was beyond his paygrade anyway, for now anyway. He could get something for calling this in, possibly.

Another thought, a channel opened.

Captain Darnius, this is Delta Two. I have something Fleet Command is going to want to see.

Better not be wasting my time with more holodramas, Anjan.

Save the sass. We got an Outer Rim system under attack, Cap. Get Fleet Command, now.

Apologies. On it.


Antooine System, Outer Rim Sector

The stars in the system filled the void with their bright light, and were soon joined by streaking lines of more glowing stars and light that resolved itself into twenty-four vessels belonging to pat of the Protectorate's 4th Fleet, led by Commander A'baht, formerly of the Dornean navy. The fleet in short order moved into a protective pattern, with squadrons of N-1 starfighters and Scurrg H-6 bombers forming up in a screen for the fleet. Hatches opened on the capital ships, and probes were launched in quick, forceful succession before their own jets activated and they began to disperse around the star system, beginning to form a sensor network to enhance the fleet's own. A'baht stared at the tactical display forming in front of him, while cries of the crew finishing out the post-FTL checks could be heard in the background. His second in command, Captain Andar, stepped up to view the map as well.

Sir, I-

“We have mouths, Captain, we can very well use them. Save for the headspeak for combat."

“I...very well, sir. Our sensors are giving us the picture of the situation now. Debris is littering the orbital space around Antooine, as well as a decent distance out of the system. Some tried to run, but didn't get far enough.”

“Task one of the Praetorians to go back to the edge of the system and deploy more probes to read the light coming out the past few hours. I want to see clearly what the hell happened in this system. And have the rest of the fleet begin approach to the planet, and open channels to the planet, we need to find out-”

“Commander! We are reading a force of ships still in the system, unknown identification codes, Imperial Star Destroyer designations, nothing matches our archives, however.

Both officers turned their head at that; Delta Two had warned of this from the message but it still made no sense. “Bring us on an intercept course and run their scans past our design archives, we should get some idea of where they were built or who they came from. Captain, get them on the tactical map.”

“Yes sir.”

The map updated with red-outlined vessels, whose formation and power generation indicated a jump to hyperspace was imminent. A'baht's whiskers twitched as he stared at the screen. Andar tilted his head in his Commander's direction but said nothing yet.

“Set fleet to combat alert and have all squadrons prepare for combat. Switch to implant communication from here on in.”

“Switching per your orders, sir.”

The eyes of all the crew flashed as lights flared into being like fireworks as their implants turned on, connecting them into a mutual communication and sensor network using their collective minds. The Dornean kept speaking as if nothing had occurred.

Communications, open a channel to the fleet. I will be dictating our message to them, make sure to get it down to the letter.

Operations, get me as much information you can on the fleet as you can. Redirect all sensor suites and probes to focus on them, the planet will come later. Initiate full intercept burn towards the pirate fleet.

Captain, inform the Harmony they are to finish their probe deploying mission and come back as soon as its done. We may need even their firepower.

The crew exploded into action even before he was done thinking commands in their direction.

As you command!

A'baht dictated his message to the Communications officers who then relayed it on an open channel to the pirate fleet.

”Pirate forces, this is Commander A'baht of the Protectorate Fourth Fleet. You are to stand down, lower shields and prepare to be boarded for interrogation into a recent attack in this system. Ignorance or refusal of this action will result in hostile action being taken against you. I will not warn you again.”

Message sent.

Good. Operations, get me targeting solutions and have the first wave of strike craft move into position. Let's show them we mean business.

The fleet, initially drifting, now had their engines flared to almost pure white with energy as they rushed towards the unknown fleet, moving into more of a wedge formation to enhance firepower and allow the front ships to potentially get shots off. Several squadrons of N-1's moved out of formation to escort their paired H-6's towards the fleet. A'baht didn't have an Interdictor-class Cruiser with him, and was cursing that fact. He could hopefully cut off their escape, if they used old Conclave drive tech, and give them more time. With this, they may not have enough time to even get into firing range before they jumped. They would just have to make a race of it and hope their aggressive stance gave this unknown group pause and give them a piece of, if not the whole puzzle.

”So strange. They look like Star Destroyers and yet...nothing I have ever seen before.”


Task Force Alpha-3, Fourth Fleet
4 Keldabe-class Battleships
2 Centurion-class Battlecruisers
7 Hammerhead-class Cruisers
11 Praetorian-class Frigates

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The Ctan
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Founded: Antiquity
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Ctan » Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:29 pm

The Annihilator

Atha Prime watched as the fleet of Action IV Bulk Transports lumbered out past the planet, their engines ablaze as they carried the stolen cargoes from the planet. The cargo load was a strange one, repulsor-speeders, agricultural machinery and more, anything that had seemed of value during the raid.

The clone troopers had made no effort to disguise that their reasons for coming to the planet were completely acquisitory, herding traffic together and ordering the inhabitants to leave, or shooting them in their vehicles and loading them at space-ports. Light transports, and other machinery, anything they needed, they took. A hit-list of targets were gathered.

The Clone Masters’ fighters were escorting these craft, as the ships lumbered upward, overburdened by their stolen cargoes, each one escorted by a pair of fighters as they reached the edge of the planet’s gravity well, flickering into light-speed and vanishing.

A siren sounded, that of inbound craft approaching. The Clone Master turned from the viewing platform over the bridge area, and looked downwards as a hologram snapped into being, hovering above one of the crew-pits. It showed the ships that had just emerged from hyperspace far off their portside. Twenty four craft. Several of them destroyer-grade. He was not certain if they could be fought, but he did not need to be. He listened to the message, but ignored its content.

His ship carried a cadre of clones for analysis, bred with the genes of analysts and experts, but also bred with significant variation in their imprinting and training, clones intended for intellectual work were not trained in the same imprints, they were instead given varied experiences to make them intellectually diverse. Allowing them to consider different perspectives. The process wasn’t perfect though, and madness took them often. “Opponent fleet has the force to displace us, we can engage with a limited prospect,” one said, before others began to interject, and for a few moments a burble of voices in competition spoke to one another.

“Father, instruct us. Our chances are limited, four Mandalorian battleships, two battlecruisers, design upgraded but archaic, escort ships. We will be outmanoeuvred.”

“Proceed with the withdrawal,” the Clone Master said, “retain maximum resource. Commodore Aurek.”

Further forward on the bridge, the commander nodded. “Yes Father,” she snapped, and turned, “come to general quarters, advise all transports to make to flank speed, target the closest of the enemy battleships, fire when they’re in range. Alert fighters to deploy.”

Atha Prime watched the synchronized machine he had created go into action with more than a little pleasure. The analysts still debated, focussed intently on their task as they updated their recommendations, while the commander calmly executed decisions based on this, a single node to ensure that decisions were made swiftly and efficiently. From her, thousands of other hands went into action across the fleet as she issued her orders.

He keyed in the tactical plot, the ships were inbound on an inward vector, and Commodore Aurek swung the Annihilator and the Replicator about, leaving the Discoverer to guard the convoy, launching the alert fighters to intercept inbound strike waves.

She was a good one, he’d already ordered another wave of her pattern produced for future ships.

Antooine Space

Of the three star destroyers, two slowly – even for their size – came about to bring their bows toward the Protectorate ships, the rows of dorsally mounted guns elevating and traversing to trace toward the rescue fleet, one or two ranging shots firing into the void, red blast bolts hurtling through the distance. The ships were not moving to hasten their engagement with Commander A’baht’s fleet, positioning themselves closer than their column of transports to ensure that they were protected.

They reinforced their forward shields, switching them to double-front when they were positioned, a bold move, and one that would have to be reconsidered when range closed. Flights of fighters surged out from the twin gaps on each of the destroyers’ wings, TIE fighters, their designs were similar to those used by a thousand other systems, short-range fighters, little more than a pair of guns, a pair of engines, and a seat, their deflectors accounted by some to be so under-powered as to not be adequate for combat. Seat of the pants flying at its purest.

When the fight began, the pilots of the Protectorate Task Force might find that it was almost like fighting ‘droids, despite the obviously manned ships, they had razor-sharp reactions, and were eerily similar, making the same decisions, predictable, if one mixed it up with them enough to learn their patterns.

The engagement was a mask, of course, and as each of the Action-IV transports flickered away into hyperspace, there were perhaps fifty of them, spaced out a few minutes from one another, the two fighters escorting them would wheel back to protect their mother-ship, the rearmost of the three star destroyers.

The final of the three, the Discoverer, did not turn to engage, instead it remained with the fleet of transports, only its portside turrets firing at the Protectorate ships, over-charging them with the ship’s power supply.

All of the destroyers retained two squadrons of fighters for close in defence, and each deployed three additional squadrons, the Discoverer’s protecting the transports, the Annihilator and Replicator’s small-craft meanwhile, swept out to engage the enemy.

3 Annihilator-class Star Destroyers.
50 (and counting) Action IV Bulk Transports
"If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"The Necrons were amongst the first beings to come into existance, and have sworn that they will rule over the living." - Still surprisingly accurate!
"Be you anywhere from Progress Level 5 or 6 and barely space-competent, all the way up to the current record of PL-20 for beings like the C’Tan..." Lord General Superior Rai’a Sirisi, Xenohumanity
"Many races and faiths have considered themselves to be a threat to the Necrons, but their worlds and their cultures are now little more than interesting archaeology."

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Postby Allanea » Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:09 am

Aboard the FKS D-567

The elderly gravitic destroyer was quite small, or at least it was small as far as ships went. Compared to a house, or perhaps a pod racer, it was no doubt enormous. Compared to an Annihilator-class destroyer, it was almost a pest. In the era of the Allanean Republic, destroyers of this type had no names at all, known simply by their numbers, and the numbers themselves were not consecutive, to avoid an enemy guessing from a number of a given ship how many there were. In theory, the Crown had now begun a project of naming, and refitting, all the ships. But in practice, this had not yet reached all vessels, and the D-567 still had no name.

It was still as it had been when it entered Allanean service years and years ago – a wedge-shaped warship, painted a polished dark-grey, dozens of weapons turrets ranging along its hull. Yet, through the years, small accidents, bad maintenance, the general vagaries of Navy service had left scratches and marks along the gleaming dark-grey paint, captains and crews came and went. Many considered assignment to the Skyriver Galaxy to be a sort of dead end for one’s career.

Captain Sergei Vyacheslavich Murmanov, Third Rank, understood clearly that the Navy certainly did not mean to reward him when they chose to assign him to the ship. He was not surprised to find that the crew had not been the finest, or at the hyperfold drive could no longer be coaxed to the full speeds for which it had been designed without suspicious smoke appearing in the engine compartment.

When the alert came, Murmanov was in his study, stroking his squarish, bright beard as he consumed his morning coffee – with a shot of brandy in it, of course.


“Pizdets.”- sighed Murmanov as he gulped down his coffee. – he reached for his communicator.

“All men, action stations. This is not a drill, I repeat, this is not…”


The starship rose from its moorings. Safety cables that someone forgot to unsecure pulled and snapped like enormous guitar strings as the gravitic engines brought the D-567 higher and higher from its dock on the surface of Aiquin. In the streets, men raise their heads staring as the ship rises, the cables flailing around it like the tendrils of an enormous beast, and then vanishes in the skies.

“Crew check.” – Murmanov says, in the bridge, raising another cup of coffee – now a metal Navy mug of strong, black coffee – to his lips. It’s shaping up to be that kind of day.

“One hundred and eighty-six available, four sick bay, three left in the barracks because they couldn’t take it for takeoff, five AWOL, two missing.”

“What do you mean missing, missing how?” – Murmanov asked. “…nevermind, not the time for this right now. Navigator, take us to hyperfold…”

“The fold drive isn’t in good shape, sir.”

“Take us to simple hyperdrive, then. To Antooine, fuck its mother sideways through seven coffins.”

And, in a flash, the ship vanishes.


Antooine system, some time later

The ship appears in a flash. For a moment, the cables around it coil and hover in space. Someone ought to cut these, it’s unsightly, ponders Murmanov, as he issues his orders.

“Computer, systems check.”

A metallic, unfeeling voice begins its recitation, like a monk reciting a prayer that he had read out a thousand times.

“Systems check complete. Cloaking system – non-functional. Foldspace access – non-functional. Turrets 67-A, 45-B, 72A through 78A – primary non-functional…”

“Computer, abort malfunction listing. Are there any new malfunctions?”

“Negative, Captain Murmanov,” - the voices says, almost seeming to be apologetic. Perhaps it is programmed to detect the annoyance in Murmanov’s voice.

“Sensors officer, run a sensor sweep of the system, please.”

There is silence for a few seconds, as the new information finally appears on-screen.

Then Murmanov asks, although he already knows his crew can’t know the answer.

What the hell is going on here?
Last edited by Allanea on Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:17 am, edited 2 times in total.

Sometimes, there really is money on the sidewalk.

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The Ctan
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Postby The Ctan » Mon Jan 15, 2018 8:15 pm

The Discoverer

“They are more cunning than Father believed,” Flag-Captain AB-394 said, bringing her sharp-eyed features to rest on the ship that had emerged closer to her ship, the Discoverer. She turned to examine the ship that had emerged. Closer, and more dangerous, it was a frigate, perhaps, or a destroyer, but not a Star Destroyer. “Magnify,” she ordered.

She turned her gimlet gaze on the ship, and examined it. The markings were different from the main attack force; her agile mind bridged the gaps. She had been created for ship command. If one looked at Commodore Aurek, and AB-394, one would notice no difference. They were sisters, twins, of course. She thought of her commander in a strange way, sister, from the same batch-run, and commander both.

Still, she wasn’t the same as her sister, and she saw more than a distraction, she saw an opportunity. The design was fast, practical, a wedge lineage, bulky engines at the back, and a smooth upper and lower surface, the same as her own ship, but different.

It had advancements, both attack fleets had their distinctions from the galactic mean, and to her, that made this an opportunity to seek advancement, and more than that, to please Father.

“Stand by portside weapons, give me ion cannons,” she said, “lock on to the new attack ship and stand by,” she said, “Prepare boarding ships and tractor beams. Lifeform scan?”

“Two hundred or less,” one of the clones in the crew pits called.

“Order a boarding company to the shuttles. We will take that ship and bring it to Father. Key prisoners only.”

“Yes Ma’am,” he said, “Standing by, boarding crews to readiness.”

“Turbolasers ready,” she said, “Fire to effect shields, ion-cannons only once shields are dropped. Open fire,” she said.
"If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"The Necrons were amongst the first beings to come into existance, and have sworn that they will rule over the living." - Still surprisingly accurate!
"Be you anywhere from Progress Level 5 or 6 and barely space-competent, all the way up to the current record of PL-20 for beings like the C’Tan..." Lord General Superior Rai’a Sirisi, Xenohumanity
"Many races and faiths have considered themselves to be a threat to the Necrons, but their worlds and their cultures are now little more than interesting archaeology."

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Postby Allanea » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:10 pm

Aboard the FKS D-567

The turbolasers bathed the destroyer in green, radiant fire. For a moment, it would seem as if the Allanean predilection of using multiple layers of shields would protect the ship – the Accumulator shield on the outside glowed an unholy glow, as it seemed to become only mightier from the onslaught, soaking up its energy. But then, just between the first and the second turbolaser blast, it collapsed entirely, as if overwhelmed. The green glow stripped away the lower shield layers with ease, like foil wrapping from a chocolate egg.

Inside the ship, men screamed and swore as the blasts tossed them about. Murmanov let loose a flurry of curses - pizdets, blyad, huylo yebanoe nahuy vishlouhoye! – as the hot coffee soaked his uniform when he was tossed about in his chair. On his right he heard an uncomfortable crunching sound as a young ensign’s arm and wrist met with the bridge room’s wall.

“Computer, blya! Damage report, blya !”- Murmanov bellowed, losing his capacity for printable speech.

Accumulator shield – lost.

Deflector shield lost.

Fires in compartments 57A, 58A, 59B.

Breach in compartment 60A. Fifteen crewmen lost. Fifty-seven injured.

Shipboard cat – lost.

“Are you for real?” – Asked Murmanov – “Are you reporting on the death of the ship's cat to me right now? Are you fucking with me?”

I am a Mark 5 Shipboard computer.

I am a subsapient artificial intelligence.

This equipment is not –

“Fuck you! Fucking trash can with grav engines!”- Murmanov roared, ignoring how ridiculous he might have looked at the time. “Weapons officer! Fire everything at that warship! Pilot, bring us about to face them!”

The weapons began to fire, kinetic-kill missiles streaking out towards the enemy ship. But, in that same second, everything went suddenly dark, and, for a brief moment, the empty coffee mug floated serenely past Murmanov’s face. Then, suddenly, emergency lighting bathed them in cherry-red glow.

“Unfuckingbelievable.” – said Murmanov. “Status report.”

Weapons systems lost.

Hyperdrive system lost.

Life support lost.

Antiboarder subsystems lost.

Sensor systems – ninety-five percent lost.

Emergency lighting and life support active, emergency grav support active.

“Fucking piece of junk. Activate techspiders.”

Communications with droid bays lost. Cannot activate techspiders.

“Un. Fucking. Believable. Emergency signals.”

”Emergency signaling system lost.”

“Die in a fire.”

”I am sorry, Captain Murmanov, I’m afraid I cannot do that.”

“Then I hope whoever programmed that response dies in a fire. Let me guess. Computer, are self-destruct subsystems also lost?”

”Unknown, no connection reply from the subsystems. You could attempt manual self-destruct.”

“This is not an action movie. Computer, check emergency internal comms.”

”Emergency internal comms – functional.”

“Well, at least something works on this old bathtub. Computer, patch me through to the crew.”


“Crew of the D-567. This is Captain Murmanov speaking. We have been attacked by an unknown armed force, which significantly outguns and outnumbers us. Most of our sensors are lost, and there are… three major, battleplate-grade combatants in-system, one of which has just fried everything we have. I have not the slightest idea what is going on, but I believe the nautical term is ‘holy shit we’re fucked’. Prepare to repel boarders.”
Last edited by Allanea on Mon May 13, 2019 7:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

Sometimes, there really is money on the sidewalk.

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Postby Telros » Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:43 pm

A'baht watched the tactical screen carefully as the enemy began to respond. Further, he could see the numerous smaller vessels, both matching the design profile of this force and ones that registered as belonging to many merchants, smugglers, and the actual Antooine government. This would appear to further prove the theory that these were pirates, but those ISD sh16ips put evidence against that fact. Pirates dreamed of having an Imperal Star Destroyer, but most of the users of it had left and even if they had managed to get one, maintaining one in full battle readiness took more money and resources than was available to most pirate and crime organizations, as well as access to the proper shipyards. Still, their rapid entry and course, complete with his message, seemed to have drawn their attention; two of the three ISD's swung about to engage them, covering the line of transports which were still moving to exit the system.

Enemy force has swung about and has begun intercept vector, showing enemy turbolaser and ion cannons deploying and charging, enemy target lock attempts detected.

A couple red laser bolts pierce the shrinking void between the two forces, missing their ships with ease, as one Hammerhead-class moved to dodge it. A ranging shot, clearly the gunnery stations were well trained, getting a sense of the distance while they finished their targeting solutions.

How is our progress?

We have already begun initiating target locks, all fighter groups are preparing to engage. The Harmony has returned back to formation, its captain informs that he has completed probe deployment. No matter the outcome of this fight, we'll get the data we need.

Good. Reinforce forward shields and set the combat alert. Inform me when we enter engagement range.

Aye sir.

A'baht watched as the enemy force continued to get closer, noting they reinforced their forward shields as well and begun deploying fighters.

'Tie Fighters, most curious. Seems they have plundered Thrashian military technology, although how they did that escapes me.'

We are entering maximum engagement range, we have acquired target locks, as has the enemy.

Have the capitals engage both ships directly, alternating ion and turbolaser salvos, we need to wear down their shields so we can pick apart their defenses. Cruisers and frigates are to support the fighter engagement until they see an opportunity to start picking off sections of the ISD's once their shielding fails. All strikecraft are to engage at will, have the fighters go after the ISD's or the transports once they have finished engaging this group. Try to hit the transports if possible, but the objective is to weaken or try to capture a ship if possible.

Understood, sir.

Very well. Engage.

The fighter squadrons from the Protectorate fleet, the elegant Naboo designed painting in the blue and silver colors of the Protectorate gleamed in the star light as they formed into their respective wings and a force of them charged towards the incoming TIE's. As they got closer, they began to sound off.

This is Silver Leader, commanders report in.

Gold Leader, ready.

Blue Leader, burning towards the enemy.

Yellow Leader, we are ready when you are.

All craft, you know the drill. Silver will remain guarding the fleet from any surprises the enemy may have for us, Yellow leader will engage the squadrons coming in at us. Blue and Gold will remain on standby until we have cleared the enemy squadrons and then we'll make a run at the ISD's. By then, we hope to have disabled for damaged them enough for us to make a run at the transports if possible, otherwise we are to finish a ship off for capture. Fly straight and true, and remember, power through prosperity!

Power through prosperity!

The fighters split off after they got their orders, one hundred and eight strike craft roared forth to engage the TIE's their own red laser bolts mixing with the enemy's as they engaged each other, missiles launching out to try and pick off as many of the unshielded craft as they could before they came together. Once they did, it devolved, as it usually did, into a grand melee of dogfights, where the skill of these known pilots came up against the Protectorate pilots. Gold Leader himself was chasing one, who rolled to the left with a precise clip, just missing the twin linked laser shot set to annihilate them. He rolled after, focus setting in, his mind clearing save for the target and his instruments. Off to the side, one of his squadron's fighters exploded, its shields failing under an assault but two TIEs. With barely a twitch, he rolled his craft around it and kept after his target.

'You are a slippery bastard, but you ain't getting away from me!'

They juked and dodge, even hard reversing and shot towards him, filling the space between them with energy. His shields blared and warnings appeared about his shield strength, but he yanked on the stick and pulled a loop, coming out and around behind it, firing away.

'C'mon, ya shit....'

He let out a whoop as the lasers connected and sent the TIE spiraling into a fireball. After the moment, however, he was back on the hunt.

As for the fleet, the Centurion-class Battlecruisers and Keldabe-class Battleships began to focus their firepower, each battlecruiser bring its seven medium turbolaser batteries and four ion batteries to bear, while the battleships brought their eight heavy turbolaser batteries, and six ion cannon batteries. Hundreds of guns were brought to bear on the two ships, divided between each ships. The six ships hammered each vessels, filling the space between them with red turbolaser salvos and bluish-white coronas of ion energy hammering the shields in back to back, seeking to bring the shields down as fast as possible. It was a hard task with the reinforcement. These were followed up by small fires and smoke being seen as missile tubes were activating, launching waves of proton missiles, thirty at a time, firing three waves in a salvo. A'baht expected the PD would get most, but it didn't hurt to get damage 'down lane' so to speak.


Shields are holding around 95%, we're just ending the skirmish phase of battle. We're hitting their shields as hard as we can but they've double charged the front ones, it's a literal wall.

Well let's change the game. Have two Centurions peel off, each going for a flank of each one, one to one. Have a force of frigates and cruisers go with them for support. Have the squadrons ready to support if more fighters show up. Either they let us hammer them on the sides or move their shields around.

Sending orders now

As ordered, two Centurion-class along with 3 frigates and two cruisers each departed the formation, moving to flank, maintaining fire on the way. The enemy's own bolts hammering back into their shields, fields of energy lighting up at very point of contacting but maintaining their strength for now. It was at this moment the Allanean ship entered the system, close to the third enemy ISD.

Oh, dammit. Civilian casualties on his watch. Who the hell blindly jumped into a system with a warning like that?

Comms, send a warning to that ship, try to get them to leave. We don't have a way to get over there yet with what we're already handling.

Sending now sir, but it may already be too late.

Right on cure, the third ISD began pouring on the heat, turbolasers, ion cannons, everything, hammering the tiny vessel. It fought back valiantly but in the end, it succumbed to the ion blasts. A crowd of craft then left the ship, moving towards the ship.

Commander, detecting-

Boarding craft, I know Lieutenant. Order Blue Leader to send his squadrons into that fight, and sending over some assault troops, we'll try to save who we can, if we can even make it. If he runs into heavy fighting and casualties, he is to turn around. We'll make the attempt but I won't lost a quarter of my fighter strength on saving them.

Orders sent, Commander

Right on cue, another group of one hundred and eight fighters wheeled around, being joined by a group of assault shuttles as they made a hard burn towards the FKS D-567, along with a message.

"Unknown ship, this is Commander A'baht of the Protectorate Navy, Fourth Fleet. I don't know if you can hear this but we are sending over fightercraft and shuttles with soldiers to try and help you against the incoming boarders. Hold out as long as you can until we can effect extraction."
Last edited by Telros on Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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A preview of more to come.

Postby The Ctan » Sun May 12, 2019 3:29 pm

Breaching pods soared through space toward the D-567, each of them was a pod with a long cylindrical hold and a spread of radiator-wings, designed for high performance manoeuvring. Twelve of these, two squadrons, escorted by attack pods came in toward the diminutive ship, each of their maws churning with grinding cutters. Each of them carried twenty four clone troopers, a whole company of clone warriors. They bolted themselves into place, mag-clamps engaging with audible thuds as their flukelike maws growled into life and churned their way into the deck-plates beneath.

They sought to connect with docking points and other areas intended for docking the ship, not to squander the surprise, but to minimise the disruption they would inflict on the ship’s operating function; doors were obvious ambush points, but better to be ambushed and able to fight than to drill through a fuel line and blow the ship in half.

Blast carbines barked and the troops fired grenades the moment the doors fell, it was the first time the Clone Masters’ creations saw battle against a first rate military power, and they were excited to prove their worth. Slashes of red light shot through the smoke as they entered the corridor, bringing a wave of violence before them.

Clone Commander RIN-4892 was a tall warrior, built for the intimidating presence his form radiated; the Clone Masters knew that size was no great advantage to a technological warrior, at least not in battle, but they also knew that their plans called for their creations to become garrison troops and police, and there was yet value in intimidation. He moved with smooth precision with his troops, watching as the battle was joined, watching the smoke of screening grenades and carbonite-particles hang in the air, as he sought his target.

The ground-force commander’s voice echoed through his helmet. “Captain,” she said.

“Cousin!” he said, “we have engaged.”

“We have you on our screens. Be advised, hostile forces inbound to your location, Protectorate Forces, we believe they intend to contest the vessel.”

“What are Father’s orders?”

“Return to your pods,” she said, “we need not waste lives here.”

“What of the ship?”

“The secrets of the Allaneans will wait. Withdraw.”

RIN-4892 muted his microphone and wondered at how to curse. There was no way his soldiers would want to withdraw, and there had been incidents before, reining in the aggression of brothers and sisters, particularly infantry specialisms, when they were denied their foes’ flesh.

He could feel it himself; he wanted to win, he was built for it, bred for it genetically. “Captian?” VIE-394 said from the mothership and he restored sound.

“Cousin,” he said, “I must regretfully ask that you reconsider. My men will not withdraw in good order.”

It was her time for silence, and he could imagine the conference being held.

“We’re pulling back the assault boats. Father has decided there should be no prisoners.”

He charged.
"If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"The Necrons were amongst the first beings to come into existance, and have sworn that they will rule over the living." - Still surprisingly accurate!
"Be you anywhere from Progress Level 5 or 6 and barely space-competent, all the way up to the current record of PL-20 for beings like the C’Tan..." Lord General Superior Rai’a Sirisi, Xenohumanity
"Many races and faiths have considered themselves to be a threat to the Necrons, but their worlds and their cultures are now little more than interesting archaeology."

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Posts: 23385
Founded: Antiquity
Capitalist Paradise

Postby Allanea » Mon May 13, 2019 8:04 am

They speak of space being enormous. They speak of the vast emptiness beyond the stars, distances so vast that light itself needs years to cross them. They speak of the vast ocean of unforgiving blackness, stretching out between stars and planet and galaxies.

But for Ensign Jake Waller, outer space would turn out to be small, the size of a locker in which he had shut himself when the fire began to spread through his compartment, swift and all-consuming. Outside, he could hear the flames roar as his crewmates were consumed within seconds, their death-screams turning into fearful squeals, and then, at last, into silence.

They speak of space being cold. They speak of the emptiness waiting outside the hulls of our ships and stations, waiting to freeze a man's eyeballs in their orbits.

For Ensign Jake Waller, space was hot. Incredibly hot, as the door to his tiny locker became as hot as a hot plate, as hot as clothes iron, as hot, at last, as a frying pan. His shelter was now an oven.

They say that in space, nobody can hear you scream. Yet some could still hear Ensign Waller – some engineer had installed an emergency comms link in the locker when the D-567 was last refitted, and, somehow, it had not yet failed.

Captain Murmanov! Captain! It's Ensign Waller speaking! I'm in an emergency locker, compartment 45-E! There is burning lubricant in the compartment! CAPTAIN! CAPTAIN!"

Bang, bang, bang, the young man's fists are pounding against the door, his gloves smoldering as he smashes his knuckles in desperation against the steel, fear overcoming even the searing pain. Tears run down the man's cheeks as he screams.

Captain Murmanov! Help! Captain! It's me, Ensign Waller! Compartment… forty-five-E! Captain, save me, Captain!

The screams become incoherent now, and then there are only sobs, and the smashing of fists against the steel. Captain Murmanov can hear everything. Every scream, every cry, and every strike – and then, silence.

He reaches for the flap on his holster. "Gentlmebeings," – he says, "Just so we're all clear, none of us are going to survive this day."

"But Captain…"

"I know we have anti-boarder defenses. Some of the passages are now flooded with bakelite. Some are vented to space, yes. And we both know that any group of people who have come this far, are going to know how to get through both of these. We're all going to be dead, or prisoners, by tomorrow morning." – he pauses. "Gentlebeings, I can't appeal to your duty, or your honor. I know you're all too smart for shiny words… but here's what I can talk about. I can talk about spite."

He felt his hand on the ridged, heavy butt of his pistol.

"I want this shit to cost them something. When they come home to their ship, I want them to look about their shuttles and see the empty chairs their friends were in, and I want them to ask themselves if it was worth it. That's all there is for us now. We are all already corpses, gentlebeings. I cannot deny this basic reality. But let us be expensive corpses."


The boarders meet resistance. Sometimes it is automated – a defense turret popping from a ceiling or floor, a release switch filling a room with neurotoxins or venting it into space. Sometimes, it is a sailor – firing a plasma rifle or a shotgun, throwing a hand-grenade around a corner.

What's most definite about this is that there is a fight.

In the ship's sickbay, Doctor Arthur Dougherty is waiting. There are four injured men in beds around him, all mangled in ways that would require advanced surgery to even keep them alive – and, of course, the surgery machine is itself mangled, laying in the smashed ruins of the surgery room. Dougherty is out of nanoregeneration injectors, healing potions, and out of ideas.

Even the ship's cat is dead.

In this hellish mockery of what the D-567 was but hours ago, it seems strange to him that he cares more about Lord Whiskers, the ship's orange tabby, than the sailors who have died all around him. Nevertheless, Lord Whiskers was counted among the ship's medical equipment. And these pirates have killed him. There is no point to psychoanalyze oneself now – it does not really matter, he decides, what he is angry about.

He raises his carbine. His lab coat's pockets are filled with plasma rifle magazines. At his hip – an old chemenergic pistol in a leather holster.

Very soon, someone is going to pay for Lord Whiskers, that much is certain.

Sometimes, there really is money on the sidewalk.


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