The Guns of Kor'laesha (FT, Closed, Mature, ATTN Nec, Al)

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The Guns of Kor'laesha (FT, Closed, Mature, ATTN Nec, Al)

Postby Xiscapia » Wed May 20, 2020 1:12 am

XIS Blood Pact, Bridge...

Kor'laesha was a beautiful planet.
Rear Admiral Hirata couldn't help but admire it from the bridge of his flagship, appearing as a blue orb streaked with white where clouds trailed across its surface. Here and there he could make out the green specks of islands scattered across the water-world, the sites of lush jungles, golden beaches, and the kind of ambient warmth and sunshine that attracted tourists otherwise rare in this part of the Kitsune Empire. Even the local Necrians tended to seem more relaxed, their pale skin bronzed with tanning, having long since traded lancers and honor blades for cameras to document seaside photo-shoots and dice for nightlife gambling. It was a wonderful place to be posted, something he had made sure to take full advantage of.
From high orbit, you would never know that the planet was currently a battlefield.

That only went for looking at Kor'laesha and its barren moon, of course. All around them was evidence of the conflict in the form of massing starships, crowding local space under the protective fields of defense platforms, grazer mines, sensor drones, and the other fortifications typical of Imperial systems. The centerpiece of it all was the many transport craft ascending or descending to the world, some ferrying loads of evacuees to larger vessels while others passed through the security screens and vanished into FTL for territories deeper inside the Kitsune Empire. Many of them were part of the logistics section of his fleet, tankers, supply ships, and liners doing their part to speed along the operation, but others were common freighters and cargo craft enlisted in the effort. Everything from tiny courier shuttles to heavy haulers was pitching in to get as many civilians as possible out of the line of fire.

Protecting them along with the static defenses was Hirata's combat fleet. The normally small garrison force had grown, first with the remains of Fel'tethra's own garrison, then with other ships scrambled from other areas until the proper Imperial Navy portion alone was more than two score strong, with the ICE complement bumping that up to just under 60 Xiscapian ships. Then there was the colonial Necrian contingent, formerly known as the Reactionaries, sixteen ships including ten frigates and half a dozen cruisers under the leadership of the Scarlet Serpent. Last but not least, the Cruorians had responded to the call for assistance with a task force of their own: 25 warships led by the dreadnought Odin, not counting the unit's medical frigate and tenders helping out with the evacuation. Put together, it was a formidable fighting force.

Hirata, however, was under no illusions. Even adding in the Alversian reinforcements he had been promised, his fleet would still be only a fraction of the size of the predicted SIN invasion armada. The data collected from the Fel'tethra engagement made that clear, as well as the fact that it was led by a massive super-capital warship which even his pocket battleship Blood Pact couldn't hope to defeat. Fortunately, his orders were simply to fight for as much time as possible for the evacuation before withdrawing -High Command knew better than to think they could somehow hold Kor'laesha.
Unfortunately, that was easier said than done.

The tod examined a holographic representation of the SIN's flagship, the Necropolis, even as reports on the evacuation's progress flowed through his neural link. In the Battle of Fel'tethra, the enemy had held their flagship back instead of using it to crush the garrison, and they had suffered quite a few ships lost for their discretion. Would they repeat the same tactic, sacrificing more of their fleet for the supercapital's safety, or would they throw caution into the wind and use it as a high-tech battering ram? He guessed the former, but it was impossible to be sure. It was something he would need to discuss with his fellow commanders once they had all assembled.

Even at the worst of times, Hirata had always been confident to a fault, and he maintained his customary little grin even though no one but the bridge guards could actually see it. Making the expression made him feel better, something sorely needed when there was a grasping tension in his gut and his heart was working overtime. Fear was never far away when battle was imminent, but he had never expected to be fighting Necrians, the same people he had improbably become so close to. One in particular.
Where did Jyll's loyalties lie?

Despite his thick white fur, Hirata felt cold.

Madano Island
X Corps Headquarters...

A transmission flashed out from the base of the world's garrison, encrypted to reach the fellow AXIS ground commanders coming to reinforce the Xiscapians. A gray-furred tod stood before them in the slim, dark green power armor of the Imperial Army, though it was visibly warped and scorched in several places. Only his head could be seen, but the amber-eyed kitsune looked haggard, standing up straight despite the pressure he was clearly under. A map of inhabited Kor'laesha was projected beside him, showing the various islands and other points of interest as well as force compositions there, both for allied forces and estimates for the rebels. Barely bowing, he lost no time in getting to the point.

"I am Lieutenant General Hotaka, ground commander of Kor'laesha's garrison, the X Corps. My forces are outnumbered and scattered across the islands, but their ultimate objective is the same as yours: buy enough time to complete Kor'laesha's evacuation. Only a fraction of the population is to be moved, but we cannot have another Fel'tethra Massacre, even if it means that Xiscapian troops must be placed in dire straits. Indeed, many already are. That's where you come in.

"Virtually the entirety of the native militia and security forces have turned to the enemy's side, and they have tens if not hundreds of thousands of irregulars across the archipelago. Any Necrian carrying a weapon and wearing a uniform can safely be assumed hostile. The enemy is fanatical, they know the terrain well, and they have broad support from the population. Do not underestimate them.

"Evacuation operations are proceeding apace in most areas, but there are four in particular which urgently need reinforcement. To begin with, the 221st Imperial Mechanized Division and the 118th Imperial Air Assault Division have been engaged in a running battle on the island of Zyanlon as enemy forces made an offensive from the capital area. They have fallen back to the eastern city of Newkara and been reinforced by an Imperial Marine brigade, but they have sustained casualties and are greatly outnumbered. Newkara must be held until its vulnerable population can be evacuated. If enemy forces break through Imperial lines then Newkara's evacuation will become untenable, so this cannot be allowed to happen.

"The second area of concern is the island of Koibol. It houses a KORGTO installation for orbital defense under Imperial control. Unfortunately, it was supplied by a militia base, which has since laid siege to the KORGTO batteries. If that facility falls into enemy hands, they could threaten any allied ships in orbit, and stop the evacuation cold. KORGTO's crew must be reinforced and defended until they can destroy the weapons and render them unusable by the enemy.

"Third is a barrier island on the western coast of Cabraillo. An airbase there is being used for evacuations, but to get to it, civilians have to cross one of three causeways from the mainland. 3rd Battalion from the 901st Air Assault Division is protecting the bridges, but as the evacuations finish the fighting is coalescing on the barrier island. If those causeways fall then all remaining refugees there will be trapped on Cabraillo's mainland. The 3rd Battalion badly needs reinforcement.

"Finally, there is the island of Rapi, part of the Nalato chain. The evacuation from Rapi has been piecemeal due to the presence of a militia base, which controls both the starport and a large fuel refinery on the island. To allow for the evacuation to proceed, we must wrest control of Rapi's starport from the enemy and hold it long enough for transports to arrive. A diversionary attack on the refinery may draw the militia away, but I leave that to the commander on the ground to decide. In any event, an organized attempt to evacuate Rapi must be made.

"Be advised that neither the Imperial Army or Navy will be able to provide you with consistent orbital or aerial cover. Most ships will be needed to assist in the evacuation or defend against the SIN's fleet when it arrives. Otherwise, you will have to rely on what you brought with you. However, I will do my best to get your commanders the support that they need. Lieutenant General Hotaka out."


Xiscapian Garrison Fleet:

-1x Akagi class Pocket Battleship (Blood Pact) [F]
-1x Wasp class Heavy Cruiser (Hajen)
-1x Krystal class Armored Cruiser (Lady Gwendolen)

-3x Ravikovi Modular Cruisers (EWS, cruiser carrier, troop ship)
-1x Iron Succubus Suppression Cruiser (Empire Song)
-1x Annihilator Light Cruiser (Misha)
-2x Messenger of Hope Missile Cruisers
-19x Marchamp Frigates

-18x Invictus class destroyers
-1x Destructor class corvette

-2x ICE Dusky Destroyers
-6x ICE Thresher Corvettes
-2x ICE Veil Interdiction Frigates

2x capital ships
27x subcapital ships
29x attack ships
2x support ships

58 ships, 7,000 troops

Fleet Two:

Harbinger-Class Cruiser Scarlet Serpent [F]
2x Portent-Class Cruisers (Sublimation of Blood, Agony)
2x Tradition-Class Cruisers (Haunt, Death's Door)
10x Homage-Class Frigates

1 capital ship
5 subcapital ships
10 attack ships

16 ships, 2,696 troops

Cruorian task force:

-1 Odin class dreadnought (Dawnlight Predator) [F]
-3 Thor class battleships (Backbreaker, Disruptor, Longclaw)
-4 Heimdall pocket battle-carriers (Emperor of Bones, Void Kiss, Ruckus, Herald of Hastur)

-6 Baldur class heavy cruisers
-10 Hel class heavy frigates

-1Asgard class ECW frigate (Matchless)
-1 Niflheim class medical frigate (Snapdragon)
-4 Midgard class tenders

8x capital ships

16x subcapital ships

6x support ships

30 ships

Total: 104 ships (logistical support craft and transports not included)
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
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Postby Alversia » Mon May 25, 2020 9:23 am

APS Furious
Task Force N

”…it should be fairly quiet but in this age, the unexpected has become the expected…”

Each time the words echoed around in Rear-Admiral Josie Flanagan’s mind, she had to keep herself from smiling humourlessly at just how prophetic they had turned out to be, even as she fumbled at her uniform and barely kept herself from tripping over her shoes.

They had been the final words of advice from Admiral Meyra’Vani-Ras just before the two had departed the briefing room in the depths of VII Fleet Headquarters on Benedict II. The briefing itself had been as routine as a briefing can ever get during a time of war. A patrol to be carried out along the fringes of Alversian territory in the Baxtor Cluster, not far from allied Necrian territory. There had been reports of possible Exile activity in the area, which she had found in navy circles just meant ‘sensor ghost’ and she was being dispatched to deal with it, namely to ‘go and assure the colonists, merchants and miners out there that we’re taking it super seriously’.

That was how she had ended up in command of Patrol Group Rose; a force consisting of the battlecruiser Furious and the heavy cruiser Spartiate. More than enough to chase anyway the Exiles had in the area. Assuming it existed at all.

That had been a week ago; six days of pretty but tedious nebulas, planets and stars as they dropped into system after system, consulted with the local monitoring stations or colonies, ran their own scan and then moved on to the next. The crew’s excitement at the possibility of action had long since faded into boredom; that much pent up energy could only be kept for so long. It had not taken long for the Rear-Admiral to realise that what the colonies had thought was a massive output of energy consistent with an FTL jump was more likely just a solar burp from one of the nearby stars, handily fudged by the rather dense nebula in which it sat. There were no Exiles here. Why would there be? In terms of value, this region sat somewhere between a low-income household and a particularly lucky dog. Still, the mission was slated to last a fortnight and the Rear-Admiral had seen no reason not to use all the time allotted to make absolutely sure she was right.

That was when the message had been received.

She had just settled down for the night, content that she would not be needed for at least the next six to seven hours when her comm had began squealing loudly beside her bed. That had drawn a sigh from the prone Alversian. Normally there was so much bouncing about in Flanagan’s mind that she was lucky to get two hours in which her brain switched off. The one time she was settled, her comm had gone off. Typical.

“What?” She had huffed upon finally slipping the device into her ear.

“Apologies ma’am,” A male voice, the comms officer? She was too groggy to tell, “We’ve received a Priority Two message from Fleet Headquarters, Category Green.”

Priority two! She was out of bed in a second, throwing on her uniform and trying not to trip over her own feet, “Pass on the message, if you would.”

“It’s available on your console, ma’am.”

Flanagan made it to her desk in a single bound, trying to get her jacket the right way around. Even after all these years in the navy she still put the sleeves inside out when she took it off! The console lit up at a single touch, the words painfully bright in the still dark room;

Flanagan’s blood ran cold. At last she got her jacket the right way around, “Lieutenant Commander, I’m on my way to the briefing room. Where’s Captain O’Neill?”

“She’s in the briefing room already, ma’am.”

Of course. Captain Skye O’Neill never seemed to sleep. Flanagan had suspected it at first but now had long since confirmed that the Furious’s commanding officer must be some sort of android.

“Thank you! Send a signal to Captain Eithagar to follow our course and join me in the briefing room. Helm, set course to Kor’laeshia if you would please, all speed.”

Though there was an admiral waiting for her, Flanagan took the time to make sure she was presentable. Time was of the essence but having an admiral running through the ship like she’d been dragged backwards through a hedge was not a way to inspire confidence amongst the crew. It was nothing too fancy, making sure her flowing auburn hair was presentable, that she’d not smeared any of supper across her face and that her uniform covered all the essentials before she was striding from her quarters and down the hall to where the Captain and Admiral awaited.

Captain O’Neill was indeed waiting, hands behind her back and as unruffled as ever. She ran her eyes over the Rear-Admiral as she entered and despite her thumping heart and tingling nerves, Flanagan felt a shiver run through her. The Captain always seemed to be looking past the uniform and the flesh to something only she could see, like some sort of bloody Veela. She held herself like a ruler of old, a warrior impervious. Flanagan may have been her direct superior but there was no doubting in anyone’s mind that O’Neill was queen of the Furious.

Waiting in holographic form beside her was Captain Eithagar of the heavy cruiser Spartiate. The Aretian looked as calm as ever, morose almost, as if everything he had to deal with was a profound shame.

“Captains, thank you for joining me,” Flanagan tapped at the comm in her ear, “Lieutenant Commander, please open a channel to Seventh HQ.”

In seconds, a second hologram joined them. This one was much more familiar, that of Admiral Meyra’Vani-Ras, second in command to the VII Fleet and the same who had sent her off on this mission just a week ago. The Silarian was sitting at her desk, fingers knitted together, a picture of serenity despite the urgency of the briefing.

“Rear-Admiral Flanagan,” She began, accent soft and distinctive. She had told her once which of the many Silarian nations she hailed from but Flanagan could not remember in her sleep-deprived state, “This will be a short briefing, as this is a fast evolving situation and we’ve not yet got all the intel we need. What we know for sure was passed along in the transmission. Fel'tethra has been attacked by what appears to be the full strength of the Solar Imperium. Xiscapian forces are regrouping at Kor’laeshia and are planning a defence to allow civilians to be evacuated. Your force will form part of that defence.”

“My force, ma’am?” The implications of what were happening twisted and swirled in her mind but Flanagan forced herself to stay in the here and now. Focus on what you can control. Leave the rest for later.

“You are now designated Task Force N. Additional assets are being routed to Kor’laesha under your command.”

A task force? Hers? Flanagan kept herself from audibly. She had never commanded anything larger than a flotilla of destroyers, much less a force of heavy ships in a war. Still, she drove those doubts deep within herself. She had trained for this. She was ready.

“Do we know what the force will consist of, ma’am?”

“The war’s tied down most of our major assets and the distance to our primary zone of operation means there’s not going to be much. I’ll send you more details as we get them. Your orders are to make for Kor’laesha at all speed, to link up with the Xiscapian fleet there under Rear Admiral Hirata and defend the planet for as long as you are able.”

“We’re already en route, ma’am.”

The Admiral had smiled at that.


Now, a day later and Task Force N, her task force, was arriving at Kor’laesha.

The planet itself was fairly pretty, a bright blue with pockets of green. It reminded her a lot of Pascen. Intel reports coming in had indicated that the battle had already started on the planet’s surface and evacuations was proceeding at all speed. Indeed, she could see from the sensor readout that there were dozens of ships of all sizes and shapes, merchant and otherwise participating. She could not help but note with pride that more than a few of those were Alversian; mostly smaller vessels of the sort that plied the lesser trade routes on the Republic’s fringes but there were some giants. A couple of Philosopher-Class superfreighters sat like whales amongst a shoal of tuna, receiving a constant stream of shuttles and skippers.

Task Force N was, as she had been warned, something of an ad hoc formation, scrapped together from whatever forces had been available in the area, a mixture of routine patrols like her own, convoy escorts and mine sweepers. She had hoped to see a few more heavy fleet units, especially as convoy SZ-11991 had been in the area, with the dreadnought Goshawk amongst its screen. Alas, no, Goshawk had stayed with the convoy and she’d been given the heavy cruiser Belleisle and a mixture of cruisers and destroyers from the escort instead. Still, it was better than nothing.

“Comms, open a channel to the battleship Blood Pact, please.” She asked of the escan Lieutenant Commander.

“Channel open, ma’am,”

“Rear-Admiral Hirata, this is Rear-Admiral Josie Flanagan of Task Force N. We stand ready to assist in whatever capacity we are required.”

Landing Vessel XV-117

Alversians were not an inherently religious people.

It was a strange quirk, given that every race they had so far encountered had a pantheon in which to believe; the kitsune, the alumina, atoran, silarians, carvon, escans and even aretians believed in some form of higher power or deity that watched over them. They guided their chosen people, heard their prayers in times of need and even, in the stories at least, nudged destiny in a way that would benefit them the most.

Alversians never seemed to have had that. For some reason, no religion was particularly engrained, no prayers to be answered and no friendly nudges of destiny. They did believe in a higher power however, a sense that the galaxy moved in a nameless and unknown manner. They didn’t worship it, but they did respect it. At least most of the time.

At this precise moment, it felt very much to Lieutenant-General Louise Keaton like that unknown force was doing its best to fuck up her day.

This was supposed to have been a cushy assignment, a chance to get some unofficial R&R on Benedict II after a prolonged period in the front lines against the Exiles. She had accepted readily, delighting at the idea of some beaches, bathing and babes and away from the shells and angry Exiles who’d taken up most of her time. In the end, how long had her prolonged not!R&R lasted? A day! A single, bloody, fucking day…

No sooner had her arse touched the first sunbed than the message had come through. Emergency redeployment to the planet of Kor’laesha, where the Necrians had decided that today was the perfect day to strike. Not a week ago, not in a month’s time when she might have been more forgiving but on literally the first fucking day she arrived!

So now here she was, descending to the surface of what looked like a lovely world with what could charitably be described as a mess of units. No one had been ready for this so they’d been forced to stitch together whatever they could find. And so what did she have to defend this planet? A division of troops? Ha! As if! What she had was six Regimental Combat Teams split across four brigades, including, of all things, a brigade of marines and a brigade of alumina mercenaries! Best of the best indeed.

Still, she tried not to get too annoyed as the landing crafted settled down not too far from the Xiscapian command post on Madano Island. As the doors hissed open, the first thing that struck her was the heat, prickling uncomfortably at her skin as she stepped onto solid Necrian ground for the first time.

Still, she was here to do a job so she may as well get to that. She could complain about the bloody Necrian timing at some other point. At least she was glad she had dressed appropriately, tanned midriff and long legs open to the air with long blond hair falling down her back. Had she chosen her Benedict II uniform, she was sure she’d have melted to a puddle looong before she made it to the bunker acting as HQ.

“See? It’s not so bad!” The unbearably upbeat voice belonged to Lieutenant General Tracy Baxtor, her second in command. The Icoran woman was always like that, bright green eyes taking in their surroundings even as she rubbed at her exposed midriff, something she did without even realising it, “Sunny, warm, lovely palm trees, clear blue waters. You could do waaay worse than this.”

Keaton looked at her companion over her shoulder with a raised eyebrow, “We’re not here with the tourism board y’know.”

“I know, but still, got to look at the positives right? It’s better than fighting on some barren rock.”

“Yes, because I’m sure when the shells start falling and bullets flying, the ambient temperature of the water will be at the forefront of our minds.”

“You suck the fun out of everything, you know that?”

“I’m a bad mood.”

“Because you didn’t get to sunbathe on Benedit?”

“Too damn right.”

“Or get a single vodka chaser down at Hot Silk?”

Keaton did not reply but set her jaw.

“Or shake your moves on the floor in the early hours with some gorgeous redhead?”

“I hate you so much…”

“I know,” Baxtor seemed pleased with the reaction, with a noticeable spring in her step, “But you know you can’t live without me. Now stop being such a sourpuss.”

Keaton rolled her eyes as the pair of officers approached the doors of the HQ. Offering the guards a crisp salute, the Pasceni Alversian cleared her throat; “Lieutenant Commander Louise Keaton and Lieutenant General Tracy Baxtor here to see Lieutenant General Hotaka, please.” She flashed her friendliest grin then looked to Baxtor, “Better?”

The Redhead’s grin was genuine, “Muuuch better.”
Last edited by Alversia on Mon May 25, 2020 9:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Xiscapia » Mon May 25, 2020 12:10 pm

XIS Blood Pact, Bridge...

Tuning out the electronic telepathy that sounded off the arrival of the Alversian task force, Hirata studied the assembling ships. Any additions were welcome, of course, but there were not as many capital ships as he had hoped for. Not that it was the fault of the Alversians, since he knew they'd scrambled everything that was nearby and available to assist, but any idea of actually scaring the SIN away from Kor'laesha with a few squadrons of battleships and dreadnoughts faded from his mind. He lost no time in turning to the view screen when the transmission came in, confirming his communications officer's request to patch it in. Letting his hands fall by his sides, Hirata bowed to Flanagan.

"Admiral Flanagan, thank you for joining the defense here," the smile he gave her was rakish and lopsided as if they were catching up on gossip in a bar rather than presiding over two sizable naval forces. Even as he greeted her, other commanders joined the conference: a redheaded Necrian woman introduced as Fleet Mistress Jyll Csir of "Fleet Two", a dark blue male Silarian named Chief Commissioner Yemra'Sar-Avni of Imperial Customs Enforcement, and a black-furred lagomorph Cruorian male who was Admiral John Crichton aboard the Dawnlight Predator. Their stone-faced, even grim expressions proved a contrast to his apparent relaxed attitude, but the kitsune admiral was the one in charge, so no one said anything. Still, his words acknowledged the dire situation they faced. "It's always good to see the People's Navy, and to be frank, we need all the help we can get over here. You should have gotten the scans and analysis of the enemy fleet from the Fel'tethra garrison, so you know what we're dealing with here.

"This is going to be one giant delaying action," Hirata leaned over his console, looking around at the other four commanders. "We need to buy enough time for the evacuation to be completed, which means keeping the SIN fleet away from Kor'laesha's orbit for as long as possible. The system's mine fields and defense platforms should help to slow them down, but we cannot risk trying to meet them in open space where our smaller force could be overrun or overwhelmed. Instead, we'll be relying on three other elements: electronic warfare, snubfighters, and picket ships. While the bulk of our fleet maintains a tight cordon around Kor'laesha, smaller craft will do the bulk of the work.

"We know from the Fel'tethra engagement that Xiscapian electronic warfare works against SIN forces, and the thirty-odd hours between then and now isn't enough time for them to develop countermeasures. The centerpiece for that effort will be the XIS Daughter of Chaos," Hirata displayed the statistics and a holographic model of one of his fleet's Ravikovi modular cruisers, outfitted for EWS. "Backed up by the Cruorian Matchless, she will jam enemy communications, spoof sensor readings, and coordinate with your ships to wreck havoc among the SIN's formations. In particular, they will interfere with the enemy's efforts to extract themselves from mine fields, forcing them to proceed with either caution or heavy casualties. The escorts among the fleet will be charged with guarding the Daughter of Chaos and Matchless against attack, and their continued operation should be considered vital for achieving our objectives.

"The next piece of the puzzle is in our strike craft. With the speed, agility, and outsized firepower of the fleet's fighters and bombers, they are ideal for harassing and further slowing the enemy's advance. Bombing runs will be directed en masse against vulnerable targets, assisted by electronic warfare to help run interference. Combined with the mines, it should make the approach dangerous even for capital-scale vessels. If our small craft can inflict casualties then the enemy will be forced to clear each volume of them as they proceed, buying us more time still.

"The final part of the trifecta is our picket ships. Unfortunately, our strike craft are projected to be heavily outnumbered by the enemy's, though the bulk of them are drones rather than manned fighters. That is where the destroyers and corvettes come in. With cover from the rest of the fleet and electronic warfare, they can provide fire support to our small craft formations, thinning out enemy small craft and clearing the way for bombing runs. I don't need to tell any of you that it will be extremely dangerous," Hirata looked around at them all. "It is, however, the best option that we have."

He looked Flanagan in the eye then. "All of the Chief Commissioner's ICE ships have been assigned to escort evacuation transports, as have most of my destroyers. As each of the other forces need all of their frigates to escort their own support and capital ships, it will fall to your pickets to take on the bulk of the supporting role for AXIS strike craft. I will supply a wolf pack of destroyers to operate under your command, but we otherwise simply don't have enough ships to do the job. Can your forces carry out these assignments, Admiral?"

Madano Island
X Corps Headquarters...

The soldiers bunkered at the entrance to the prefabricated base were armored right up to opaque helmets, but even then, the two Alversians could almost see them widening their eyes at the salute. "Inside, now, ma'am!" one of the vixens actually grabbed Keaton and bodily hauled her into the reception area, followed closely by a second guard similarly manhandling Baxtor. It was only once they'd been hustled down a stairwell that the Xiscapians finally relented, the kitsune private who had made such terse orders to a general taking a step back. "Sorry about that, ma'am, but we just had a sniper attack not half an hour ago. They got the general. That salute put a big target on your back too."

Sending her fellow back to guard duty, the vixen waved the pair on, answering the inevitable questions. "There's no pitched battles happening on this island, least as far as I know, but these fucking people keep taking potshots at us. No, the general's not dead, but they did hit him. I think he's still in the briefing room waiting for you. Right up ahead."

They stepped through an airlock and into a scene of chaos. What had once been an orderly room of seats arrayed around a table with a central holoprojector looked as if a bomb had hit it, with chairs scattered and tipped over while papers littered the floor. Due to the press of people between the Alversians and the table it wasn't immediately obvious what was happening, but that changed once they entered. A torrent of swearing and thrashing erupted from the middle of the crowd, and just like that, the soldiers and officers dispersed, hurrying away with ears flat against heads for the kitsune. Very quickly, there were only two other people left.

Lieutenant General Hotaka was lying prone on the table, his power armor peeled back to resemble a sort of bizarre cross between an autopsy and a salvage operation. A large section of his exposed back had been bandaged over, though it wasn't enough to fully hide how scorched the light gray fur around the wounded area was. The segmented armor plating was likewise blackened and holed through where it was splayed around his body, giving him the appearance of just having hatched from a metal, humanoid-shaped egg. Another soldier in a fully-intact set of armor was leaning over Hotaka, a small knife in hand as they carefully cut away the general's skinsuit from around the wounded area, leaving him wearing nothing more than a jock strap between his legs. The Aretian's blue tongue poked out of her mouth as she focused, exhaling in relief when she finished before bundling up the ruined suit for discarding.

Craning his head around to look at Keaton and Baxtor, Hotaka sighed. "You'll excuse me if I don't bow," he said from his position on the table, waiting with impatience obvious from his swishing tail as the medic inspected him. "Are we done?" he addressed her.

"Not really. I need you to come to the medical bay-"

"Like hell," Hotaka scoffed and started to extract himself from his ruined armor. "I already told you, I don't have time to waste sitting around in a hospital."

"But sir, there could still be complications from your wound!"

"Then they'll just have to get in line and wait with the rest of my troubles," he heaved himself off the table, only for one of his legs to buckle. The medic saved Hotaka from falling, supporting him with one arm, and he clung to her for a moment as he got his balance before pushing her away. "I'm fine, I'm fine," the tod turned and looked up at Keaton, meeting the taller woman's eyes. "I'm sorry I'm not in a more presentable state, general. An enemy sniper had a different idea."

The medic was still hovering nearby, and Hotaka glared at her. "I said I'm fine. If I need your help, I'll call. You are dismissed." Sighing, the medic just nodded and bowed. Pivoting, she glanced at the two Alversians and gave them a pair of bows as well, looking Baxtor in the eye for a moment, her expression unreadable. Then she was gone, trotting down the corridor to leave the private alone with the three officers. "That goes for you, too, private," Hotaka addressed her. "Take post outside the door so you can escort the generals back to their ship when it's time." The vixen saluted, turned about, and left as well.

Sighing again, the Yama tod ran a hand through his equally gray hair, unconcerned with how much of his slight body was bared. "What can I do for you, General Keaton?"
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
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Postby Necrisis » Sun May 31, 2020 9:52 pm

Rilaena walked along the spine of the Necropolis. It was a giant, insectoid dragon, six clawed legs dragging through black sand, wings spread wide. Necrian soldiers were speared on its ribs, moaning, its skeletal form infested with Hallowed, each clinging to a corpse or gripping the bones.

At its head was the figure she hunted. He was wreathed in shadows and billowing black silks, a red psion blade in hand.
Green fire erupted from her own and they clashed without preamble, matched stroke for stroke, fire catching along their arms, the dragon’s skull.

But each time the blades crashed like thunder, she could see the masks he wore, but not the face of the Usurper.
Her own face, a mocking caricature of a young Empress.
Aedallen, sneering and twisted, without a hint of love.
Faeden, hollowed eyes alight with red fire, stern and angry.

The cloak overcame her and she was drowning in a sea of silk. Her blade tore it apart, lighting the world in an emerald glow as she struggled wildly until the green flame crashed into a blue shield.


SIN Necropolis
Palace of Dragons

As the dream - the nightmare - faded, Rilaena focused on the small child sitting on the bed, her hand raised in a protection rune-sign, a field of shimmering blue energy glistening between her and Rilaena.

“Tala?” Rilaena looked down at her hand. The focus hilt wasn’t there, but the telltale whisps of green energy were fading from a sword shape. “Oh Goddess…”

“Mother, it’s okay.” The girl let the barrier fall and crawled over to Rilaena, curling into her lap. “It was just a dream. But I could see you needed help.”

Rilaena wrapped her arms around the child - her child - and let herself feel the small, calm heartbeat, the soft scent of lavander, sage and recanta in her long, golden-black hair.

She took stock of her tangled sheets - the burns, the slashes. She didn’t usually act out her dreams, but the Priests had warned her - even Faeden, ever the pragmatic - that courses of action that were good for the Empire often put a lot of strain on the Ruler. This war was against her principels, her codes and her sense of honor. She understood Dream Reading enough to see that.

She needed to see the battle against the dream Addrick through to its end, maybe defeat him - a representation of doubt? - to see this recuring nightmare end.

But that could require an induced sleep state, days of meditation and work.

Days - hours even - she didn’t have right now.

* * *

Once Talialla had returned to her own slumbers, Rilaena tucked her into the giant empress-sized bed and took a cold shower, to clear her head. Dressing quickly in robes and armor, she exited her chambers alone - Aedallen shared quarters with his troops during a campaign, and Rilaena envied him every night - and made for the command chamber.

Along the way she encountered a nervous looking pair of her personal guard, the Sworn, and she gave them a cross-armed smirk.

“Empress,” the first said, bowing. “The Princess-”

“Is in my chambers,” Rilaena said, sparing him the game this time. She was too tired. “How did she escape this time?”

“My Empress,” the second said. “We… are not sure. We were posted outside as you requested. The Priestess Arquetra had read the Princess a story and then stayed to watch her. She doesn’t know how the Princess made away without her noticing.”

Rilaena frowned. “Well, all three of you just post in my personal chambers until she wakes. We’re heading into battle in less than an hour-”

“Empress,” the first Templar interupted. “Three hours. You have only just turned in.”

Rilaena frowned. “Well I’m not taking a fucking nap. Just… get her some rest and then down to the Heart Chambers.”

The Sworn bowed. “Of course Empress.”

Rilaena watched them hurry off, back the way she had come.
Tala had a knack for evading her attendants when she wanted. Including walking through walls and doors, it seemed.
Arquetra was a High Priestess of the Temple. Surely some explanation could be found. If only Faeden was still here.

Rilaena stopped just before the doors to the Command Chambers, straightening her appearance and blinking the tiredness from her eyes. Being a Talon Master had been so much more fun. Responsible for a hundred or so lives instead of hundreds of thousands.
Billions, she reminded herself. Literal billions of people. You are their Empress and they suffer. That’s why you are here. That is why you must sacrifice some so that you people don’t starve out and start eating each other.

Sighing deeply, Rilaena entered the CC with the air of an Empress.

High Fleet Master Fash did not look up from the Tactical Command table as the Empress entered, the door’s strange interlocking bone-like lattice sliding closed after her with a grinding hiss.
“Empress,” he said, tapping at the holographic readouts of the fleet.
“Fash,” she replied, posting herself near the corner of the tac-com. The holographic representation of the Necropolis and its attendant fleet hung between them.

There was silence for a time, before Fash broke it and tossed the reports off the table, causing them to vanish at the edge. “You’ve only got three hours of sleep, Empress. I won’t have you snoring on my command deck.”

Rilaena glared at him. “One time and I’ll never hear the end of it.”
But they shared a small smile and Fash straightened.
“How’s it look?” Rilaena asked, looking at the mission clock that hung above the left back corner of the tac-com. T-minus three hours.

“About as well as it did three hours ago, Empress.” Fash brought up the battlefield they were heading to - the Kor’laesha Theater of War. “We know exactly nothing important. Tavin gave us a bunch of useless chska about his holding and as near as we can tell the intel on the defending force is out of date.”

“But we knew that,” Rilaena said, tapping the planet’s defenses. “Sixteen Necrian Colonial ships, including Jyll Csiir’s Scarlet Serpent. An additional four cruisers and a screen of frigates. Then whatever KEX reinforcement they could muster which we put at between sixty and a hundred ships. A sizable but ultimately hopeless action.”

Fash nodded. “It’s all just play for time. Like those damn gazer mines. Doesn’t anyone just defend their planets with fleets anymore?”
Rilaena shook her head, pressing forefingerand thumb into tired eyes. “I guess its the new fashion.”
Fash grunted and continued. “Regardless, this is not optimal intel, but about as good as I expected from the backwash of Necrian high court blood. And the campaign is still within predicted parameters. Save for the collateral-”
Fash stopped himself, though his Empress did not have to spare him the venomous glare she had when the Fel’Tethra Massacre was mentioned. “The… civilian casualties aside, we are looking good.”

“Acceptable losses…”

“Yes, Empress. War on this scale has to make due with ‘acceptable losses.’”

Rilaena shook her head at him and Fash glanced over his shoulder to the tech pits where dozens of officers and operation forcemen intensified efforts to cover their eavesdropping.

Though unspoken, it was known that the Empress did not care for the war. A necessary evil, she had been quoted as saying by the Var’Karan Reports Network. A heavy choice.
While on the frontlines, she had refrained for voicing the opinion too often, so when she did slip she had to stop herself from rising to the debate that Fash always had with her.

The KEX alliance was a fragile one between two Empires, with dreams of grand starways and expansive claims. They couldn’t both rule this corner of the galaxy. Eventually one would be the victor.

Rilaena turned back to the Tac-Com. “Has Sahrkhaern made his calculations?”

I have, my Empress, hissed a disembodied voice said, emanating for the very air. After each word, an echoing grinding sound came from the walls, as if they were voicing the will of the Ship Mind.

Fash suppressed a shudder and Rilaena cocked an eyebrow at the glossy, black orbs - ‘eyes’ -that clustered over the Tac-Com. They dotted the room in various numbers for hundreds of vantage points, but Rilaeana always addressed this cluster. It made her feel better to put a ‘face’ to the Ship Mind. Unlike all others, Sahrkhaern refused to forge a display self to interact with the crew.

“And?” she asked.

I should be able to used the bleed from the Cascade exit to channel a greater burst through the Arrays, extending the operational edge of the blast.

“Any hazards?”

None. There is the potential for it to strike our own vessels, but in such target rich environment as a minefield, there is little chance of that happening. Even if that were the case, I would simply direct shield energy to -

“Redirect it back out.” Rilaena waved a hand. “And the Xiscap ECM?”

Fash folded his arms and sighed. “Not enough time to figure out a direct counter, but we are working on it. Fortunately, the attendant fleet are all new, SIN Gen1s. That means we can use an old trick I had to pull a few centuries ago.”
He brought up a diagram of one of the SIN Heavy Crusiers. “Each one of the SIN Gen1s has a host core for Wraith Drones from the Necropolis. They already have compliments - a few swarms each - to use as fighter screens. But we once got stuck in a nebula with high electromag-”

Rilaena coughed and Fash redirected flawlessly. He was prone to ramble when not in battle.
“The Wraiths can hard-feed visual data to the cruisers’ own point defense systems. It’s a work around, but their AIs are capable enough to track visuals as oppose to sensor data. If nothing else, it will ensure we don’t have any stray grazer mines nipping at our flanks. Fighters might still be a problem though.”

Rilaena nodded. “Are the Night Haunts ready?”

“They had a few dry runs over Fel’Tethra. Nothing fancy, so we don’t know their limits, but they commanded their swarms well. I think they will prove effective against KEX starfighters. Which is what we are expecting them to throw at us. Whole screens of them. Sheer numbers on our side make that part of the battle a mute point.
“And nothing that small can carry a payload large enough to harm this ship. Goddess below, I doubt they have anything that could really.”

“Nothing is impervious,” Rilaena said, studynig the readouts again. “What about their battleline?”

“Without meaning to be dismissive,” Fash said, waving a dismissive hand. “It’s a holding action. There is nothing they have in the local area that cant stop our fleet. They aren’t here to stop us at Kor’Laesha. They are buying time for their transports, not aiming to stop us here. Not on this time table.”

Fash pulled up the Blood Pact ping. “I’ve heard the Rear Admiral is as crazy as they come. I’d be lying if I wasn’t partly intrigued to see what he will bring to the field.”

“This isn’t a dick measuring contest,” Rilaean said, studying the flagship. “And all Xiscapian Kitsune are crazy as the Pits. What will we do about that disastrous rush of the Hydra?”

“I’ve refreshed working doctrine,” Fash replied. “But a great deal of the success behind that manuver was the enemy’s ECM and a carless firing solution by the Portent’s artillery crew. The magnetic packets from plasma torpedoes will remain actively tracking now, against KEX crews. It will slow our rate of fire and limited deployed emissions, but it’s better than having the foxes dive-bomb our ships with our own weapons.”

Rilaena nodded, watching a simulation play out. A best/worst scenario she had played a half dozen times.
The time they lose this battle, and the Necropolis. Reasuring numbers in the low single percentiles did not calm her nerves, but she hid them well.
Turning from the Tac-Com she seated herself in the Command Throne, slightly off centered from the CC’s main tactical array of equipment.

“Right then. Proceed, Fash. Don’t let my cat-nap bother you.”

Far Gravidic Rim

Space boiled away, ribbons of searing light, tendrils of lightning, thundering soundlessly into the void as the Necropolis arrived.

As it tore into normal space, the Cascade bubble began to bleed away, evaporate into unreal space-time, stablizing the weave once more. However, before it or the nearby grazer mines could react, the Cascade Array - a deep well just fore of amidships - pulsed with energy. A blue-white charge of energy caught the red-shifting Cascade bleed and in the span of less than a few seconds had vaporized a hundred kilometers of local space, the lightning jumping from mine to mine, ripping them apart before they could activate.
Local, unshielded sensors whited out, some even frying from the solar flare-like pulse at the super-dreadnought’s arrival.

At over sixteen kilometers long, about eight wide and three tall, it was less of a ship and more a mobile battlestation.
Even as sensors began to come back online and data streamed in, jamming webs flooded long distance sensors and Poltergeist viruses started to burrow into transmission and receiving sites, creating loops and junk data at every opportunity, overloading boards and creating havok across any power network they could find.

Under the Necropolis’s ample shield, a hundred ships disengaged the tight formation, spreading out behind the dreadnought, avoiding proximity to the grazer mines.

Many of them did not match signatures that had appeared at the last battle, nor did they share metrics with any Necrian ships on file.
These were new, SIN Gen1 craft. Sleek and polished, the honor guard of the Tomb-class dreadnought were a stark contrast to the two dozen or so other ships that did match Necrian ECM craft and Hetaevan ‘junkers.’

Though the irregular craft would be hard to make out in detail through the sensor jamming, a few stuck out as more refined.

Hetaevan Assault Carriers were a co-developed ship, designed specifically to run highly defended blockades with significant static defenses.
It wasn’t a stretch to say they had been developed specifically to attack Xiscapian held worlds.
With armor and shields fit for a much more massive ship on a significantly smaller chassis, the Assault Carriers held the outside lanes, waiting for the command.

Scarlet Serpent
Command Bridge

Jyll had been on edge ever since she had gotten the news.

Fel’tethra. Gone.
Well, not gone. The SIN couldn’t waste the planet. That was the point. To take, not destroy.
But she couldn’t have dreamed up a worse reality. Even now, with the Alversian reinforcements, Jyll could not calm herself.

Was she suspect? She had no reason to be of course. Her loyalty was to her crew and those that had not abandoned her and her fleet to the dark.
And she had remained when the supposed ‘Empress Rilaena’ had sent the call out, to return and fight the good fight once more.

But Jyll had been through enough.
Even when her crews split off - including Auran and his squad of lancers - she had remained in control.
Hirata had seen to that.

He’d been with her every step of the way. Late night discussions of old naval tactics and battles being a favored pass time, the possibility of the new Necrian government being hostile to the KEX had come up.
But they had both dismissed it, perhaps for want of a more positive outlook.
They had both been a bit giddy in those days.

But now, as she watched Flanagan shimmer into view on the Tac-Com, another realization slid home.

She was Necrian. Right now, on Kor’laesha’s surface, the Necrian First Party battled Xiscapian soldiers in streets and homes and businesses. Hotels and beaches, family vacations, long lovers’ nights - all of it on fire.
And she was Necrian.
More than half her crew was Necrian.
Did Hirata still trust her?
Did she trust her crew?

"We have contacts," the kitsune woman called from her station as the sensors blinked and flickered. Jyll’s connection to the taskforce commanders stuttered for a moment before forcing through the SIN jamming fields.

Jyll turned back to Flanagan and Hirata’s images on the Tac-Com. “Admiral, our time for preparation is done. They are here.”

Quiet Cay Beach and Hotel

Auran Veen had been in the middle of a good day.

The rum was sweet, the air cool, the sun warm. The beach was not too crowded early in the day and he and Kurva had planned to meet there later. Her squad had been catching some R&R with her and they had gone out for drinks. Though invited, Auran had declined.

Though he liked Kurva’s squad - the ‘Kits’ they called them in smiling tones - he had not seen any of them since he had returned from the Usurper’s War.
He was the only one to do so from his squad, and during their infamous training operation several years ago, the KEX and NID soldiers had all become close.
He didn’t quite know how to tell them about it.

Shoun and Vouc dead. The Twins… that was a whole therapy session in itself. And Daliha and Hibiki… well they all ‘knew’ about them, but as to why they stayed in the SIN, he didn’t know; couldn’t tell them if he tried.

So he had been avoiding it.

Waking up alone was not an ideal start, but after a bit of meditation on a stiff drink, Auran had left a message for Kurva and wandered off to the beach across from his hotel.

About three hours later, the decently good day had gone to shit.

The explosions had torn through the strip mall a mile down the road. Emergency service trucks had been sniped out on the road about two minutes later and Auran finally put it all together when some ass hat jumped on him from behind, stabbed him in the neck with a syringe and yelled ‘Our Lives for the Goddess!’ and rode him to the ground.

Auran rolled the assailant onto their back - a woman, middle years with a bloody nose and an arm so broken it was basically jello in a sack - and grabbed her by the throat, ripping the needle from his neck.
“What the hell was this?” he hissed, bared teeth inches from her face.
She merely laughed, a little giddy from the shock her body was trying to send her into. “Ah… haha… just Her greatest gift… to us foolish Children.”
Auran - already tired of this turn of events - let go of her, grabbed his broken bottle of Leshi Rum and smashed it again over her face before burying it deep in her throat.

Standing, covered in dark, near black Necrian blood, he adjusted his swimming trunks, tossed his ruined shirt over the woman’s gurgling face and stumbled over to the foot path that lead from the pearlescent white sand to the street.
He needed to find Kurva.
Not that she and her Kit’s wouldn’t be just fine, but he couldn’t let them have all the fun.
Last edited by Necrisis on Sun May 31, 2020 9:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Alversia » Tue Jun 02, 2020 11:59 am

APS Furious
Task Force N

Flanagan bowed back to Hirata, a deep gesture of respect even as the darkness of the comms room was lit by dozens of holograms as they dropped into existence before her. Every captain of her little task force, including Captain O’Neill from the bridge was now listening in on top of the other commanders from the other forces. It was quite the fleet that had been assembled, a mixture of customs, native forces and naval units from two nations who had assembled to defend this planet. Quite how they were going to do that, she still wasn’t sure but she listened keenly to the Xiscapian Rear-Admiral as he explained the plan. It made sense, utilise their advantages, hunker behind their minefields and hold for as long as was possible. Her stomach fluttered as he looked her directly in the eye and explained the task that was to come. It would fall on her nine destroyers and eighteen corvettes to hold the line. She puffed out her chest and nodded.
“We’ll hold as long as we can.” She said.

There were no questions for Hirata once he had finished his briefing. Flanagan bowed once again as he cut the transmission. That just left her standing and facing the captains and lieutenants of her vessels. In particular, she looked at Captain Tērauda, the hulking Carvon who commanded Lion, the light cruiser that led the destroyer flotilla,
“Captain, you know your task?”

He gave a deep grunt and nodded, reptilian nostrils flaring. Even in hologram form he was huge.

“Good. I can give you Carolan, Millon, Solano ,Tiptree and Rage as well as ten of the Corvettes. The rest of the fleet will cover you from afar and keep the larger ships off your hide. Please brief your lieutenants as needed.”

“Aye, Admiral.”

He cut the transmission as did those who led the destroyers and corvettes she had assigned to him. The others waited and watched, looking to her, waiting for her orders. The woman took a deep breath, “You heard the Rear-Admiral. Our objectives are clear; defend Kor’laesha for as long as we can. We’ll hold at our current positions and engage as they come within range. ANB-capable ships, hold until I give the command before firing. The remaining screen ships…you’ll have to hold as long as you can,” She gave them a nod, “Good luck.”

No sooner had the last hologram flickered away than alarms began to ring out, lights flashing red and the soft voice of Ala, the Furious’s AI, “Red alert, all hands to action stations. Enemy presence detected.”

The Rear-Admiral stepped back into the C&C located in the very heart of the battlecruiser. In the centre was a great three-dimensional display showing the entirety of the system. At the very edge, she could see numerous contacts including one massive one that could only be the Necropolis. Nerves began to bubble up in her stomach.

“All small craft have launched ma’am,” One of the Alversians who sat at the map announced, looking back to the Rear-Admiral.

She nodded.

“Proceed with the plan. All cruisers, hold for my signal.”

At the same time, the fifteen small ships of the screen advanced, arrayed into a defensive and mutually supporting formation before the rest of the fleet. Behind them, the fighters, bombers and drones began to gather, mere flies alongside the behemoth ships they defended. It felt like everyone was holding their breaths.

Madano Island
X Corps Headquarters

Though she did not move or otherwise betray it in any way, Keaton could all but picture Baxtor giggle at Hotaka bickering with medics and officers alike. Perhaps wisely, the two officers stood off to the side and allowed that little internal conflict to resolve itself, mostly by the kitsune telling those tending to him to sod off, before stepping forward again. She took a half-step forward when his leg gave in only for him to be rescued by the concerned medics. Again, he brushed off their concerns and she could not help but shake her head. Typical kitsune stubbornness.

“Not at all,” She offered a half bow herself, a wry smile crossing her lips at the sight of the kitsune standing in little more than his underwear, “Thankfully some Necrian out there can’t shoot for shit,” She saluted, “Lieutenant General Keaton and Lieutenant Commander Baxtor," Baxtor bowed deeply, mostly bare legs crossed as she put her hands behind her back and let her eyes wander over the officer's fluffy form,"here to assist in the defence of Kor’laesha,” She grimaced, “Or rather, assist in the evacuation of Kor’laesha. We've got troops deploying to each AO you've required. It's going to be a...” She hesitated, rubbing at her navel without even realising it, "Difficult."
Last edited by Alversia on Tue Jun 02, 2020 1:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Xiscapia » Sat Jun 06, 2020 2:50 pm

XIS Blood Pact, Bridge...

“We’ll hold as long as we can.”

"I know you will, Admiral," Hirata said. His vote of confidence was the last thing he said to Flanagan before disconnecting in face of the arrival of the SIN's fleet. The ICE officer and Cruorian commander had already done likewise, seeing to their own affairs, leaving just him and Jyll in contact. Even as data on the Necropolis and its armada flooded his mind the Rear Admiral looked at Jyll, staring into her eyes. It took everything he had to keep his expression neutral.

“Admiral, our time for preparation is done. They are here.”

"They are," he confirmed and smiled again. "It would be rude of us to keep them waiting. Stay safe, Jyll. I'll see you on the other side." With that, the last transmission fizzled out, and Hirata was left watching the displays as the SIN invasion force formed up on the far side of the Kor'laesha system. His own forces were already in motion, carrying out their various parts of the plan, and he was at the point where all he could do was monitor the situation as it developed. He inhaled the cold, crisp air of the Blood Pact, then exhaled, shoving down all feelings of fear and uncertainty. It was time.

Despite the sheer amount of firepower in evidence, the initial blows between the opposing fleets were purely electronic. The SIN's electronic warfare made sensors dim and stutter across AXIS forces before countermeasures cleared the interference as the Daughter of Chaos and the Matchless made their presence known. Even so, Hirata could clearly make out that the Necropolis had annihilated everything unfriendly for a good distance around it, keeping its attendant ships sheathed in the safety of its shield bubble. He could only hope that the flagship couldn't do that too often.
Standing up straight, the Rear Admiral watched and waited.

Justicar Lead...

All around Captain Mitse and his Justicar Squadron was a sea of blue and green contacts, representing Xiscapian and allied forces respectively, specifically their strike craft. Wings of Shuriken and Shuriken II fighters hovered along with Cadmean heavy bombers, the accompanying famous Alversian XX-40s, XB-99 bombers, and XH-137 heavy fighters a familiar sight. Newer, at least to him, were the Aurora fighters and Thunderbolt bombers of the Cruorian Navy, not to mention the Vulture fighters employed by the Necrian militia. It was an impressive force, over 5,000 strong -greater than 15,000 if one included the militia's drones- but they were projected to be outnumbered by the SIN's strike craft by as much as a 20:1 ratio.
That necessitated that they get creative.

The enemy Necrians would probably be expecting a reprise of the last battle when they had to pick their way through the defenses until engaging the fleet around the planet. Rear Admiral Hirata had other ideas. The last thing they would likely anticipate was for the garrison to act aggressively, but that was exactly what the small craft and pickets were going to do. It was to be a staggered strike, waves of bombers escorted by fighters diving right down the enemy's throat to hurl torpedoes into the tightly-packed formations of SIN ships. In such close proximity to each other and the Necropolis the SIN vessels wouldn't be able to use their heavy and area-of-effect weapons against the fighters, and as they deployed their own fighters and drones to clear them out, the corvettes and destroyers would warp in to chew through their formations. Once they had been thinned out the pickets would jump away again, dividing some of the enemy force if they chose to follow, and the job of pilots like Mitse and his squadron would be that much easier.

Knowing it was nearly time, Mitse checked in on his squadron. The Justicars were a dozen strong, flying older Shuriken fighters that were still quite serviceable as far as he was concerned. They were a mixture of species to reflect the cosmopolitan nature of the Kitsune Empire: almost half of them were kitsune like himself, but there was also a trio of humans, a couple of escan, and even an atoran. And, of course, a Hetaevan, the only one who was possibly a better pilot than he was, and the love of his life. Once they'd all sounded off, Mitse contacted her directly.

Ready for this, Charaan? Those are some of your people out there.

They are not my people, he could practically feel her derision over the thought-link. My 'people' left me to die in the void. Even if they are Guurak, they dishonor themselves by using cowardly tactics. And dishonor deserves death. No, Mitse, I chose my people. I am fighting alongside them now.

He couldn't help but smile at that. Glad to hear your morale is holding up. Because it's time to go.

About time. My cannons thirst for blood.

The FTL inhibitor field lowered, giving the swarms of strike craft clearance to make their jumps. The window was narrow by necessity -if the field was down for too long the enemy would simply jump directly to Kor'laesha- so Mitse engaged his Shuriken's Jaunt Drive the moment the field went down. For a split-second he was aware of ships all around him doing the same, and then his fighter passed through the portal. For a moment everything was dark, with nothing to be seen or scanned in the quantum realm that was Jaunt, and then he was surrounded by ships once more -his squadron, and beyond them, the entire SIN fleet. There was no time to ascertain whether they'd been taken by surprise or not.

Madano Island
X Corps Headquarters...

“Thankfully some Necrian out there can’t shoot for shit."

"Too accurate for my tastes," Hotaka rubbed his back absently, tail coiling.

“Or rather, assist in the evacuation of Kor’laesha. We've got troops deploying to each AO you've required. It's going to be a...Difficult."

"It already is," he said, before getting a faraway look in his eyes. From their experience with the Xiscapian military, both Keaton and Baxtor would recognize the telltale sign that the Lieutenant General was receiving a neural transmission. "Damn it," he swore and looked back at them. "The SIN fleet has arrived in-system. I had hoped we would have more time."

Turning away, Hotaka leaned over to consult the holographic map projected across the table he had been laid out on. It was displaying a map of the world's many islands, and he stuck his hands inside of the light and made a pulling motion, zooming in on the island of Zyanlon. They could all see the Imperial Army forces dug in around the perimeter of Newkara, represented by azure boxes denoted with the numbers of various units, most of them showing reduced percentages from the casualties they had taken. The picture of the rebel forces was less clear, but the network of towns and roads outside the city could only be controlled by the turncoat militia and security forces. Grimacing, Hotaka motioned Keaton over.

"Evacuating civilians is our first priority. I don't know how quickly the SIN's fleet will advance, but we will be cutting it close regardless. I still have confidence that we will be successful if we focus all efforts on that," he looked at her, searching her eyes for understanding. "I will not be able to evacuate my troops from Newkara before the enemy arrives without compromising the objective. They will almost certainly be trapped on the ground, and I will not abandon them. If your forces land there, they will meet the same fate." He gripped the edge of the table, claws digging into its surface. "I cannot ask you and your women to make that sacrifice."

Quiet Cay Beach and Hotel...

The normal smell of sea salt and freshly-cut grass in the coastal town had given way to arcid smoke and leaking gasoline as Auran staggered up the trail. He could see men and women in combat fatigues cradling lancer rifles as they kicked in doors around the hotel. Sometimes they apparently found an empty room or someone not objectionable, but even as he watched they dragged out a vixen and an Alversian, both dazed and half-dressed, before bundling them into a waiting van. Though the partisans clearly saw Auran, himself half-naked and covered in blood, they seemed to assume he was one of them and did nothing to stop their fellow Necrian from making his way up to the street. One of them, a young woman with a bandana over her face, even flashed him a thumbs-up.

The road itself was clogged with abandoned cars, personal speeders, cargo trucks, and emergency vehicles alike sitting vacant. Some were blackened or holed with bullets, littering the ground with broken glass, but there were surprisingly few bodies. At one end of the block a police SUV was burning, part of a now-shattered roadblock, where an ambulance with flashing lights was trying to skirt around the wreckage. Across the way, another group of Necrians had smashed their way into an Alversian jewelry store and were busy emptying the contents of its counters into backpacks, heedless of the high-pitched alarms sounding from the broken windows. The looters looked only long enough to see if Auran was going to try to muscle in on their prize, then returned to dumping anklets and jeweled piercings into their sacks.

Auran could hear the sound of fighting coming from the direction of the strip mall, gunfire and the occasional explosion reverberating through the air. A six-wheeled truck sped by in that direction, perhaps a score of Necrians hanging on in the back as it bounced over curbs and ran over street signs, masked gunmen watching the town go by impassively. It slowed only to go around the ambulance, shoving the burning police vehicle aside with its reinforced grill, when a scream from the sky made them all look up. A sleek shuttle was descending out of the blue and trailing smoke, its pilot clearly fighting with the controls as the transport careened through the air. For a moment it looked like it was going to crash right into the Quiet Cay Hotel, but at the last moment, it righted itself and skidded onto the street in a shriek of crunching metal and sparks before coming to a stop.

Pulling up behind it, the half-ton truck halted and the armed Necrians began to jump out, rifles shouldered or handguns clasped in both hands as they began to surround the downed ship. It was obviously civilian, right down to the word PRESS emblazoned on its hull, but that hadn't stopped it from being shot down and didn't seem to have any effect on the insurgents as they leveled their weapons. The stern hatch hissed open and an alumina in armor poked her head out, confronted by a dozen lancers trained on her, and could do little more than slowly raise her hands in surrender. A pair of Necrians grabbed her and hauled the taller being out, one relieving her of her rifle while another shoved her towards the truck, still more of the fighters ducking into the transport to emerge with the occupants: a blond Alversian whose hair was matted with blood, and a tod with a vest reading PRESS and a floating camera drone. One of the men promptly shot the droid at point-blank range, all but vaporizing it.

Hackles raised, the armored feline was glaring around when she spotted Auran. Her expression did not change, but she seemed to study him. Their eyes met and he heard words in his head that were not his own, distinctly feminine but cool. You are not one of them. Their vehicle is unattended. If you enter the driver's seat while they are distracted, you can make it to your destination. I will distract them.

"This woman is wounded," he heard her say to her captors. "She must receive medical attention."

"I don't give a shit about some alvie's head," one of the men said as he produced a pair of manacles. "Shut up and give me your hands."

"At least allow me to tend to her."

"Are you brain-dead? I said, give me your fucking hands."

"It's alright, Syrana," the tod said. "I can do it. You guys won't mind that, right?"

"I don't know. You have a lot of nerve, posing as journalists while carrying around an armed alumina," the Necrian stepped closer, casually barrel-sweeping the kitsune. "You occupiers are lucky we don't just gun you down right here. But sure, we can trade. You patch her up, and then we'll take her. I've gotta admit, I've always been curious about what alvie pussy feels like."

The tod stared back at him. "Isn't that a hanging offense, where you come from?"

"It was," the man grinned. "The Dominion ain't around anymore though, and I reckon we've got some time until the SIN gets here. Enough time to have some fun. Not that you'll be getting off easy either. Challa likes kitsune ass, don't you, Challa?"

The unusually large Necrian woman he addressed just nodded, a sick sneer on her own face. "Like we said, fox. A trade. Your lives so we can, heh, vent a little. Isn't that worth it?"
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
The Kitsune Empire of Xiscapia's FT Factbook (V2.5)
R.I.P. Shal - 1/17/10

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Postby Necrisis » Mon Jun 08, 2020 1:43 pm

SIN Necropolis
Command Chambers

Fash watched as the Cascade weapon's energy bloom faded. The sensor ping that signaled 'destroyed enemy contact' became a constant chime until one of the pit officers silenced it.

They had their landing zone. Time to lure the enemy in.
"Peel off Designated sub-fleets 'Pack One' and 'Two'" he said, eyes not leaving the Tac-Com but his voice amplified by the strange acoustics of the Command Chamber. "Sahrkhaern, ready discharge."

Prepared, the Ship murmured.

Pack One and Two were identical types if not styles, numbering nine each with a sleek Necrian Heavy Cruiser at its heart, disgorging dozens of swarm fighters. The escorting ships each had two Hetaevan Assault Carriers and a mixed bag of Hetaevan frigates, gunboats and cruisers. Given the adhoc nature of Hetaevan ships, it was hard to predict the stability of them, or their weapon loads, but they did lack the mouth-frothing charge of Hetaevan ships, instead keeping line to the Cruiser, as if they were more than just escort.

But the SIN Fleet did not advance otherwise, the Necropolis and its tenders even slowing their advance, just as the XIscapian FTL inhibitor fields fell and the Alversian destroyers started to move into position. Long range lancer cannons started to ply their defenses, glaring shot after shot striking shields or hardened hull.

Fash frowned at the hologram of the field.
They were being aggressive. Too aggressive for a holding action. It didn't make sense. It would take hours for the Necropollis to pick its way through the mine field. He had expected a repeat of Fel'Tethra.
Of course, that did not mean he did not prepare for this.

"Master," one of the pit technicians called out. "FTLi is down."
"Detecting Jaunt signatures," another said.

Fash nodded and allowed himself a small smile.
Micro-jaunts. Just as he'd thought.

But instead of the capital ships Fash had thought they'd lead with, the general FTL signal alarmed as thousands of tiny craft emerged almost on top of them.
A surprise attack Fash would admit he would need to use himself one day.

But surprises were what he had trained himself to anticipate, and almost two centuries of war and ship mastering had trained him to plan for the unplannable.

As the defending forces emerged from their micro-jumps, loosing energy and kinetic cannon fire, Fash watched as Sahrkhaern opened up.

The Necropolis had not seen battle - not truly, at least - at Fel'Tethra. She hadn't needed to - the shear weight of the SIN Fleet had been enough to ultimately fold the garrison and seize control.

But now the enemy had brought battle to them, and the super-dreadnought obliged.

Silver-white shards of energy lashed out at fighters in range, over a hundred all at once. Even as the anti-fighter defenses tore into the Xiscapian ranks, literal clouds of Wraiths continued to pour out of the vessel - eight thousand, ten, twelve - lighting the local area with a sea red lightning flashes.

The armada spread out a little, falling behind each other, picket ships moving into position to defend against fighters, attack frigates moving against enemy pickets and capital ships preparing shots on the advancing Alversian fleet, firing at extreme range to gauge shields, red lancer beams amid orange MAC rounds from Hetaevan ships, even as their compliment of Wraiths sought to join battle against the fighters.

As Justicar squadron soared into attack formations, Necropolis looming larger and larger above them, keen Wraith eyes tracked them, launching from the skin of the ships and twisting down, red lancers churning the spacial waters.

Venom Lead
Taravon Aeska
SIN Heavy Cruiser Night Amber

Taravon sat in the pilot couch of his Nightshade starfighter, listening to the battle reports as he waited for the clear signal to launch and engage.
His stomach churned, and he was glad for the moments of reprieve before the fight.
This wasn't like launching against the Usurper's forces. That had been a moral victory, a duty to save the Necrian Empire from those that would undermine it.
This was practical warfare. It was a cold goal for a pressing reality - more territory for several billion citizens before starvation truly set in.
Echana had been working at the clone vats on Var'Kara for almost a year now, pulling twenty hour days just to get as much from the cells as possible.
But it still wasn't enough.
So here he was, about to fly against those who he had once been proud to serve with.

The NID had called it a 'fighter exchange program' but the reality had been that Taravon's cruiser had over extended itself against a pirate group. He and his squadron had been stranded when they took the ship and forced a deployment of escape shuttles and pods to set down on a barely habitable little moon. The pirates had then tried to use the cruiser to bombard them, but the Ship Mind had delayed them long enough that She had pulled the strings of Fate and set a patrol group of Xiscapians on them.
The KEX forces had secured the cruiser, got the pods off the moon and took in the stranded Necrians.
It had been a major embarrassment for the Ship Master. He had taken his own life in ritual when the pirates took the ship and they had damaged the Ship Mind and killed enough crew that the cruiser was nearly inoperable.

Taravon had spend an amount of time among the Xiscapians, flying with them against pirates and raiders while the NID and KEX huffed at each other about operational boundaries and if the Necrians that had been on the cruiser 'had even survived.'

He remembered the short, bright-eyed tod he had served with for almost half a year. Mitse and his Justicars had been some of the finest pilots he had ever flew with. Taravon had become an Ace while he was with them, but the NID commanders had not approved the title once he had returned to Necrian space.
He had watched his friends decay into bigotry and hatred, some even accusing him of unconscionable acts against his betrothed, against his nation. After his wedding to Echana, they followed his kid cousin - Sanjia - out of Var'Karan space, but had stopped at Bas'talok.
He had flown there too, mostly police actions, until the Dominion fell. He had joined the SIN, and had wasted hundreds of enemy fighters. He even had earned the kill-rune for a Cruiser.
Ironically, it was the refitted version of the one that had got him stranded in KEX space.

And now he flew against them.
They called the Usurper's War a civil war - one of dozens his people had fought over the years - but he had never felt like he was flying against family before now.

"Sixty seconds to launch Venom. Final prep," the comms chimed.

Taravon shoved his bile down and steeled himself.
He could not be indecisive now, he thought, eyes and fingers dancing over his launch list for the seventh time.
His squadron needed him to be their leader.
Besides, it wasn't like the Xiscapians were actually in the starfighters he was about to shoot down.

The Nightshade fighter hummed as it rotated into position, auto-docking to the launch tube.
Thirty seconds.

The Nightshade fired from the launch hanger of the Heavy Crusier, its Wraiths and point-defense lancers whirling around him in a blaze of crimson light.
He peeled off and down, spinning into position. The ECM here was in their favor, under the shadow of the Necropolis, but that just meant his HUD tagged his targets properly. The auto-guiding filaments in his plasma missile launchers might not keep the anti-fighter ordnance on target at long range.
But manual guidance was still a preferred choice for an Ace like himself.
"Venom Two and Three, form up. Pick your targets and chase them down. Remember we are H/K for now. Pursue flagged targets with extreme prejudice."


Wraiths not already assigned targets, fell in with them, two 'wing-wraiths' for each Venom pilot.
As they joined the fray, Taravon couldn't stop the exhilaration of zero-g flight hold him back.
He grinned and opened up fire on a Xiscapian Shuriken, tracing lancer flares across it, while paired lances from his squadron gutted the wingmate, forcing the rest to scatter as Venom Squadron blazed by.

All around them, Wraith swarmers converged on the fighters indiscriminately, Necrian interceptors tracking down the heavy bombers.
It did not seem that the aggressive charge had taken the Necrians by surprise, but possibly put them on the back foot. The had stopped advancing at least, save for the two break away squads that were ignoring the enemy, now behind them, and were continuing to press through the edge of the mine field.
Though the mines had not been able to dwindle their numbers yet, they had damaged one of the Hetaevan ships, which now hung behind the Necrian ships, using their more powerful flux shields to shelter from another few mines that had gone off.

Scarlet Serpent
Command Bridge

"It would be rude of us to keep them waiting. Stay safe, Jyll. I'll see you on the other side."

Jyll watched the air where he had been for a full, selfish, second before turning to the Bridge Crew.
They were mostly Necrian, but there was the Kitsune sensors and Human comms officers, as well as a dozen or so other Xiscapians on her ship.
"Give me a status update on our Wraith drones," Jyll said as the fighter offensive engaged the Jaunt Drives. The drones and Arrowhead fighters had been retrofitted over the last few months to sport similar drives, but none of them had been field tested like this.
Wraiths were small for a fighter, and were less functional away from their home ship. In the middle of SIN ECM fields, far away from their homeships like Scarlet, she wasn't sure how well they would do.

Rumors about the machines had plagued NIDSF commanders for years, being almost completely unaltered from their conception, thousands of years ago.
Their Hive Cores held all the programming and design schema, encrypted in some language that, she had told the Xiscapians, had never been translated.
That hadn't stopped the crazy foxes from trying of course, and possibly succeeding.
That had installed the Jaunt Drives at least, but converting that information back into the Hive had been troublesome.
The Wraiths currently deployed were all the Jaunt capable ones the Xiscapians were getting for now.

The Kitsune - Sensor Apprentice Byeol Chanti - did not turn to address her. "All 8k are active. 2k still in reserve."

Jyll just nodded and turned her attention back to the tac-com and looked over her fleet.
Fifteen ships against the SIN armada.
She wasn't alone of course - they had evenly matched fleets this time, and with their role as defender, Hetaevan and Necrian doctrine forbade indiscriminate bombardment of defending ships, in case a stray shot hit the planet. At least, if they cared still.

But she had never seen the Necropolis in action before. That energy weapon was not something she was familiar with, making it unique to the dreadnought.
That was good. That meant it was unlikely to be encountered where the Necropolis was not. But that also meant there was no way to know how powerful it was, how long it took to recharge, what could even defend against it.
Was it some kind of giant lancer cannon, or something else entirely?

"Scarlet," Jyll said, tapping the Portent Cruisers' holograms. "Bring up firing solutions for you, Blood and Agony. Focus fire on the Hetaevan ships. See if they are still using Stormguard lattice or if the SIN has upgraded them to Flux. If Storm, relay that to our allied units - kinetic rounds and heavy material ordinance will be less effective. Energy weapons can cut through the plasma field better. If Flux shielding it won't matter what we use. It will burn away under sustained fire."
"Understood," Scarlet said, her hologram bowing.

Jyll gave her fleet orders to pull ahead of the others, re-positioning so that the Harbinger's heavy lancers could all target at once, in a classic if brazen broadside.

Madano Island
1k out from X Corps Headquarters

Morid Voun adjusted the sights a little on his Howlbasta hunting rifle, gauging for a slight breeze that had picked up.
The kitsune he had winged earlier was favored by that wind. The particle beam the Howlbasta produced was strong enough to punch clear through a jundovha, an Imperial Dragon. Their hide was valued for its ability to absorb a terrifying amount of kinetic energy and heat, before giving in.
He had hunted them for years across the Red Side of Var'Kara - their smaller cousins within the Inverted World were no challenge. But the linorms and jundovha of the Red Side... they were prey worth hunting.

Morid kissed the tooth of an infant jundovha that hung from his neck for good luck and looked back down at the base.
There was no one outside yet, and he'd seen no one leave. That didn't mean there wasn't a back tunnel for his prey to escape from, but they wouldn't be able to spare the manpower to search every elevated point for him, especially as he had moved from the spot that had taken the General to start with.

The Necrian still couldn't believe it.
The shot should have cut him in two, power armor and all.
But heavy lancer burns - especially ones like his modified Howlbasta produced - were radioactive. A sort of poison like effect, leading to fever, vomiting, poor motor skills and cognition.
The graze might be just enough.

But now he had new targets.
The Alversians had sent down their own points of contact, and while he had missed his chance during his relocation, their shuttle now sat outside of the bunker, idle.

He scanned over it, judging it for weak points.
The cockpit was always a good choice, but the anti-dragon, anti-power armor, anti-wall, giant-fuck-off rifle he had posted between the crux of a tree branch deserved more than an assassination.
It deserved a fireball.

So he waited, patiently, for the officers to return, the ship to lift off, or both.
The idling, left side engine, resting easily in his sights.

Crashed Press Ship

Auran felt bile rise in his throat and his right arm twitched, his spine tightening.

He had only met a handful of psionically gifted people in his life, and he still didn't know how it worked. He didn't know if she could read his thoughts too or if it was just one way.
And he didn't know how he was going to kill twenty NFP bastards, but he knew he wasn't going to abandon these civilians.

They didn't seem to know he was there, as the alumina had said, but that could change very quickly.
Auran moved with practiced ease and grace, padding down the hot sidewalk in a crouch, keeping low behind burning cars.

These NFP sorts were all kinds of shit at their jobs. Or at least untrained. NID and SIN protocol demanded that when disembarking a vehicle, the driver, side-seat and at least one other must remain with the vehicle.
All twenty of them were gathered around the trio of Xiscapians - now shoving them between each other, like school yard bullies.
The Alversian with the head wound seemed to have ended up in the hands of Challa - who by all counts could be half Hetaevan by her size.

He rushed to the side of the truck and found that the passenger side door wasn't just unlocked, but open.
Pulling himself into it, the keycard was still in the ignition and the driver's Lancer Pistol - a heavy looking colonial side piece used mostly to kill predators to livestock and the like - rested on the dashboard.

Auran rolled his eyes and resisted the urge to cite them all for gross misconduct. The alluded 'favors' however took priority and while it was no long illegal to romance a sentient alien in the SIN, war crimes were still a capital offense.

He was happy to oblige the SIN one more time.

Auran, calmly glanced in the mirror, adjusted the wheel and threw the truck into reverse, gunning the engine.
Only one Necrian manage to jump out of the way as the truck lurched back, crushing ten of them, spraying all nearby in black blood. The jumper screamed as his legs were crushed instead.

It only took them a few seconds to react, but Auran had already leveled the lancer out the downed window and fired.
Without sighting, the first shot was mostly a tracer that winged one of them in the lower ribs, spinning them down into the trail or broken and bleeding bodies. The second one found the clavicle of a looter, tearing them a new hole from chest to spine.
The last before returning lancer fire made him duck, went wide.

As he dropped prone on the floor of the truck, he grabbed the remains of some kind of takeout tray and launched it out the passenger side door even as he rolled through the open window in the driver's side door, tumbling behind a car.
The sudden movement triggered Necrian instincts not easily suppressed in those that were untrained militia, and lancer burns followed the tray, scoring it a few times before they trained onto him.

Seven left, Auran thought smugly. Not too bad for a stupid feat of heroics.
Sol Imperi Necrosa Factbook

"You know you're in a shitty situation when your better option is 'go to war with the KEX.'" ~ Xiscapia

"Necrian diplomatic missives are often delivered by sniper rifle."~ NS

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Postby Alversia » Fri Jun 26, 2020 4:13 pm

APS Furious, Task Force N

So the enemy had made their first move.

Flanagan watched the tactical readout, the display illuminating pale skin in the darkened room, giving her the appearance of a ghost. Though she longed to watch the thin line of cruisers and destroyers advancing, she kept her eyes flicking over every part of the battle, to make sure none of it was escaping her notice. It had been the hardest part of command training, not to focus on a single point of an ever-changing storm but to stand back and to trust those beneath her knew what they were doing. That was often the failure of inexperienced commanders, this mistaken belief that somehow they needed to control every single facet of battle in order to prove themselves. By now Flanagan had learned; control what you can control. No more.

So she turned her eye to the two formations which had peeled away from the massive Necropolis. It looked like two cruisers at their core and a mixture of smaller vessels in escort. They were advancing but not at maximum speed, less of a charge and more of a methodical advance towards the picket line.

“Bandits Large counting twelve plus approaching 23 point 35,” The aretian operator who sat alongside her asked, not looking up from her readout, “N4 requesting to engage…”

N4 was the Spartiate, one of the heavy cruisers in the fleet. Captain Eithagar had always been a measured but aggressive captain. That was what made him such a good cruiser commander but now was not the time. There was a plan. They would see that it was followed through as far as it could possibly.

“Relay N4, rules of engagement unchanged. Hold and await confirmation.”

“Copy,” The operator began to relay the same to the heavy cruiser, one of dozens who sat around the readout, the conductors who guided and monitored every part of the battle in every dimension counting.

The main fleet had not advanced, respecting the presence of the Xiscapian minefields that had already done so much damage in their initial attack. That was a relief. She dreaded to think how the battle would have gone had the enemy just swarmed them with capital ships. It was going to be hard enough as was without that happening as well. In spite of herself, the admiral tensed as the FTLi field was lowered, a brief slither of vulnerability as the fighters prepared to engage. It was not a new tactic, one that the Alversians and Xiscapians had practised together and used so many times in the Exile and Danaversian Wars but every time she felt her breath catch. However fleeting and however guarded, it was still a vulnerability.

The fighter formations had used the window to jump right into the enemy fleet and suddenly the readout lit up with hundreds, if not thousands, of weapons streaking through the air as they attempted to intercept the incoming small craft. That was even before their own counters had launched and when they did, the Admiral’s eyes widened. There were so many! Thousands upon thousands of contacts scanned and tracked, the information processed by the AI’s of the fleet to give them the best possible readout. Her thoughts went to the pilots whose job it was to weave their way through it all. Remote or not, it took courage and insanity in equal measure, which fairly accurately represented most fighter pilots she had met.

Still she watched the approaching Necrian ships. If they got to within range, they would easily outgun the pickets.

“Relay, N3 and N4 to target contacts 443 and 449 respectively, confirm.”

“N3 confirms, target locked!”

“Confirm N4, target locked.”

“Relay, X1, permission to engage.”

The message would be sent to the Blood Pact, to Hirata, requesting permission for the two Victory-Class cruisers to open fire on the approaching Necrian ships.

Arc Squadron, Kor’laesha Orbit

Akio closed his eyes and took a deep breath to steady himself.

The noises around him faded, large canine ears blocking out the whine of every servo and the beep of every instrument. He ignored the whine of his engines, sourced from exactly where he’d be if he were sitting in the cockpit of his craft. Even his seat shuddered in time with the little bursts of power he put in to keep his XX-99 in formation, Dana written along the side of the cockpit.

It all felt real, as if he were actually darting around the endless void of space with nothing more than few centimetres of carbide and shielding between him and the vacuum. In reality, he sat snugly inside the Furious, ensconced in an armoured pod in the very heart of the Battlecruiser.

Still, he clung to the vibration of the simulated fighter around him, allowing it to pass up into his armoured suit, to make his teeth chatter gently and his fur stand on end. These moments were the most precious he would have; the last few moments of peace before all hell was unleashed and he was called to battle once more. He had done it so many times before; against Danaversians and Exiles both. The enemy changed; the backdrop different but these moments, they never changed.

Dearest Qonn, Lady of Light,
Mother of our fathers,
Let me not bring misfortune to my squadron,

The words of comfort came easy to him, flowing softly from his muzzle as he looked to the little symbol of the Xiscapian goddess which hung from his cockpit. He was an Escan. He called the Alversian People’s Republic his home and yet it had been the Xiscapians who had freed his homeland from the Danaversian scourge. It had been by her mercy that they had succeeded where so many generations before them had failed. By birth she was not her goddess but now he spoke her words as assuredly as if he had known them all his life, more eager than ever before. It sometimes felt like he had as he felt the warmth of her light fill him.

Dearest Qonn, Lady of Light,
Mother of our fathers,
Accept whatever sacrifice that I will be worthy of my squadron.

“30 seconds out, ladies.”

The voice of his squadron commander came over the vox and like that he was brought back to the present. All around him he could see the massed formations of craft; not just Alversian but Xiscapian and Necrian as well. Fighters, heavy fighters, bombers like his own and drones were assembled and just waiting for the go ahead.

He had not thought he would find himself in this moment, perhaps another reason he prayed so fervently this time around. They had been on their way home from the war, to rest at last after days of near constant combat. The Exiles were as relentless as they were merciless, vicious fighters with a great deal of skill. All along the front their services had been needed, allied units hard pressed in every direction. Some saw bombing as the less noble of combat flying and in some cases that could be true, he had seen enough of the Danaversians to know, but there was a nobility in aiding those who needed it. Those on the ground had needed his help, just as those on Kor’laesha needed it again.

Within the bowels of his XB-99 was the Hard Knocker, an anti-ship missile designed to detonate on the surface of an enemy vessel, destroying weapons emplacements, sensor nodes and any manner of equipment it was impossible to fully armour inside the hull. That could clear the way for the XH-137s with their Long Lances that would dig as deeply into the core of a vessel as possible before detonating. That was assuming any of them got close enough.

“10 seconds out,” Tanner was as calm and controlled a leader as he could have ever hoped to have. She had taken a squadron of resistance fighters and outer rim pirate hunters and turned them into one of the best bombing squadrons in AXIS space.

Now they were called on again to prove it.


He hit the control on his stick and just like that his whole view changed with barely a jolt. Where had been nothing but serene calm now there was an entire enemy fleet and the space between them was filled with fighters, drones and blasts of energy.

“Hard left!”

He twisted hard on the stick without even thinking, his nimble little bomber jolting out of the way just as a formation of XX-40s and drones blasted past them to engage the incoming Necrian opposition. Already he could see the bursts as smallcraft on all sides were taken down. He had no time to think about them or their losses however. He had to keep his head on the swivel. He had to stay alert.

“Archangel, Boxter, attack vector 110.180. Justicar will cover.”

“Copy that. Archangel, on me!” Tanner began her dive towards their target, a Necrian battleship that was being swarmed from all sides. Amongst them flew the drones, scrambling their sensor signatures to missiles, intercepting incoming ordinance and, yes, dying on their behalf. One such drone in front of him was blown to fragments as it was hit by an energy beam from their target. It had been coming right for him. A lucky escape.

“Justicar Leader, beginning our attack run!” And with that, Akio gunned his engine to full.

Once more unto the breach…

APS Lion, Command and Control Room,
Task Force N Screen

The bridge of a light cruiser was much smaller than that of a battlecruiser and it was made all the more so by the hulking Carvon who now paced up and down with his hands behind his back as if impatient for the hunt to begin. The only time that Captain Tērauda looked up was when the fighters jumped in. He had said nothing but had turned those sharp, intelligent eyes to Specialist Second Class Inwien Helwe and she had known what to do even as she nearly passed out from hyperventilating.

Tapping one of the thousand buttons before her on the screen, the Aretian flicked a stand of metallic blue hair out of her eyes, trying to keep the tremor from her voice, “All vessels open fire. All vessels open fire.”

Her console lit up. The readout before her lit up. The ship beneath her feet shuddered gently as she let loose with the first of her weaponry. At the longest range were the railguns, 12 of them firing shells that were the size of a large truck and weighed nearly thirty tons each. They were aimed for the heavy cruisers that were approaching, reaching their targets in mere seconds. Had they hit a continent, from experience, they would have shattered it on impact but vessels of war were another matter. What was also another matter were the missiles that had been launched from every destroyer and light cruiser, filling her sensor readout. These were not aimed for the ships of the enemy fleet but instead into space where the concentration of enemy drones was heaviest and that of AXIS fighters was non-existent.

Most burst on impact, revealing within a powerful source of concentrated electromagnetic energy. The blue stinger, she had heard it called by the older crew and now she saw way. Long tongues of what looked like lightning and too intense for even her own sensors to get an accurate reading reached out faster than it took to blink and struck at the surrounding drones, some extending so far she was not sure that contained within the missile had been some terrible beat determined to have her prey. Others were duds, drones disguised as missiles to draw enemy fire and confuse their counter-battery operations. Yet others simply exploded into vast clouds of debris, shrapnel to ensnare and overwhelm any drones who had the mixture to fly through them. A small minority contained heavy explosives behind drilling tips, hardened points eager to taste shield armour and the soft interior defences that awaited them.

How many would get through the screen, she could not tell. This was her first time at the tactical console and until ten seconds ago she had been having the hardest time trying not to be sick. Now that battle had been joined, the feeling had gone. There was too much to do, too much training to recall, too many things to focus on.

So she became as her Captain, who looked for all the world as if he were walking through headquarters on a warm sunny day. She would do her duty.

X Corps Headquarters
Madano Island, Kor'laesha

"Too accurate for my tastes."

Keaton nodded sympathetically as the kitsune rubbed at his bare back. It did look like it hurt still, “You’ll be an eternal testament to the build quality of Xiscapian armour, General.”

There was no more she could say before the General seemed to zone out. Keaton and Baxtor shared a look, well aware what that meant. He was receiving transmissions from somewhere and judging from how his tail swished of its own accord, it was not good news.

In fact, it was the worst news they could have had.

So SIN had arrived early. Lovely. That made everything just that little bit harder. Now how much time they had was up to the fleet; to Hirata, Flanagan and Jyll. Normally she disliked placing so much faith in the pampered princesses of the navy but there was nothing else for it. Hopefully all that time they spent sitting down and reading books would now come in handy.

Keaton again looked to Baxtor and the woman met her eye before shrugging, “They had to get here at some point, and I hate waiting anyway.”

The Lieutenant General rolled her eyes before looking back to Hotaka’s readout. By any metric, it looked bad. There were so many enemy units, so many isolated positions and far too many ways of communication and retreat cut off. Well, this was how it had to be apparently. Heavens knew nothing was ever going to made easy was it?

At his sombre words though she looked him in the eye and sighed. She knew what he was asking and it tore at her gut. Every Alversian soldier who landed on this planet was being sacrificed to buy as much time as possible for the civilians to escape. Thousands of women and men would be left behind, their fate uncertain.

It stung to even think about it, but the Alversian drew herself up with a sigh, rubbing absentmindedly at her bare midriff before giving him a nod, “I understand. We can be on the frontlines within the hour.”

This time she did even need to look behind at her companion to sense her nodding in approval. These people needed every chance they could get. Every second bought would be a victory. They could help in this, and it was in no Alversian’s nature to turn their back on those who needed their help. What was it Sammi Owens had said? In her speech at the beginning of the Exile War?

We must stand shoulder to shoulder with them, suffer where they suffer, and, if needs be, place ourselves in harms way so they are not.

She felt her chest swell with pride at those words. They would do what was right.

No matter the cost.
Last edited by Alversia on Tue Aug 04, 2020 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Xiscapia » Sat Jun 27, 2020 7:39 pm

XIS Blood Pact, Bridge...

Hands clasped behind his back, Hirata observed the two sides as the battle was joined. Explosions blossomed throughout the volume around the Necropolis as fighters, drones, and missiles alike were shot down, the SIN armada fanning out into a holding pattern as sloops and anti-shipping frigates surged forward to confront the attackers. Potshots were also being taken by the larger ships, lancer beams and magnetically-accelerated shells soaring by AXIS forces or impacting with the flare of shields, but more concerning were the two task forces that had split off from the main body and approached. Eighteen ships, including two heavy cruisers and what were tentatively identified as four troopships protected by an assortment of smaller escorts. Most of the SIN force had halted to deal with the smaller attackers, and yet these smaller flotillas pressed on. It was too much to hope that communications had failed.

Brilliant flares came from the side of the defenders as Jyll's cruisers opened up, a barrage of lancer fire impacting the troopships and eating away at their shielding. Prompt relays from the Scarlet Serpent informed that the Hetaevan ships were using Flux shielding, which was equally effective against both kinetic and energy weapons. It was almost a shame, with the APB cannons on the big Alversian ships charged and primed for ignition, but despite the transmission for permission to fire, Hirata held off. The main energy weapon of Alversian capital ships was very powerful, but he still waited as the broadside from Jyll's ships melted the defenses of the carriers, weakening their force fields with every volley. When he judged that they'd taken enough sustained punishment, Hirata gave Flanagan's Victory cruisers the order to fire.

Focus the two carriers in the leading formation, he transmitted, indicating the pack without the trailing carrier.

Justicar Lead...

Dodging between streams of point-defense fire, Mitse snarled as one squadron-mate after another went dark, their fighters blown apart by flak or zeroed in on by enemy interceptors and drones. He had given the order for his formation to scatter in the shadow of the Necropolis, taking refuge among the masses of allied ships angling in for their own attacks, but the losses were still severe: fully half of his squadron was gone in just two minutes. It was a testament both to the weight of AA fire and the skill of the enemy pilots. Recalling his remaining ships with a thought, Mitse wheeled around and spotted the SIN unit that had given his so much trouble, a trio of newer manned fighters escorted by drones. They were flying away from his squadron, coming up behind a formation of Cruorian bombers, and his hands gripped the controls tighter. They were now evenly-matched in numbers, and the thirst for revenge was strong.

Then the bays of the Necropolis opened, and more Wraiths than Mitse had ever seen poured out into the volume. Swearing, he jerked the control yoke, and his half-squadron peeled off in a blaze of missiles, not even making a dent in the thousands of drones that emerged but definitely getting their attention. For a few seconds, Mitse thought he was going to get taken out of the fight for sure, ripped to pieces by the oncoming swarm, but then an Invictus destroyer appeared from nowhere, heralding the arrival of three others of her kind backed up by many more Alversian corvettes. The seething mass of Wraiths ran into a storm of particle beams, entropic waves, and still more missiles from the destroyer, punching holes through the cloud and thinning their numbers far more quickly than Mitse ever could have. Breathing a sigh of relief, Mitse waggled his wings at the picket and his fellow officers banked around with him again.

Why did we warp in so close to their command ship? Charaan demanded. If I will be destroyed I want it to be from an enemy pilot, not a deck gun or a mindless machine.

That was our entry zone, Mitse said simply, scanning the area in the lull the destroyer had created for them. The offending squadron of SIN fighters had vanished, probably to some other part of the battlefield, but they had a new objective. No time to ask why now, we need to form up on those Alvie bombers. The call had come through, and Mitse and his flight rose up from beneath, antiproton cannons flaring as they picked off Wraiths around the battleship that the XX-99s were bearing down on. Releasing a sensor-scrambler missile for good measure to detonate adjacent to the capital ship's hull, trying to lessen the amount of point-defense fire the bombers would have to contend with, Mitse kept a sharp watch of the surrounding volume even as he transmitted.

Arc, Justicar Lead, we'll run interference for you as long as we can!

XIS Undercut, Cockpit...

Commander Eisuke kept his hands on the joystick of his scout ship but did little to guide it, letting the ship "fall" with minimal control into the battlefield around the Necropolis. It was hard to keep from interfering, the temptation rising every time a lancer blast passed close to the Undercut, but the tod restrained himself. The Twilight-class was fully cloaked, invisible to the naked eye, and hidden from scans, with the chaos of the battle only making it less likely that the sleek little vessel would be detected. It would have been completely invisible, except for the cargo pod clamped to its belly that looked from a distance like just another piece of drifting debris. The container was also the reason he made no adjustments to the trajectory, doing all he could not to draw any attention to his daring plunge towards the supercapital ship.

How are we doing back there? he asked his fellow Ascian.

Absent from the cockpit, Lieutenant Merva knelt on the deck of the ship, fingers flying across the console keys she was hunched over. The abhuman ferret was Cruorian by birth, but unlike so many of her fellows on the battlefield, she had chosen to join the military of the KEX rather than the nascent republic. Her talent and skill had been rewarded at the end of her training with an introduction into the Ascian program, the elite of the Imperial Navy, with the expectation that she would be taking part in operations against the Exiles. Instead, she was here, preparing to strike a blow against what had once been an ally of the KEX.
At least, she hoped that would be the case.

The miner is online with all systems green, she reported. She still couldn't entirely believe that they were about to do this. They called it the Takao-Keisuke Maneuver, after a pair of kitsune traders from the legendary freighter Dimension who had launched a unique, ill-fated but ultimately successful attack on a "pirate" battleship threatening their convoy. It had since come out that the ship had been deployed from the Federal Republic of Sagittar to cut off a trade route to the colony of Phenia, which made the outcome all the more impressive. The two tods had launched a mole miner drill from their merchantman and piloted it right into the FRS battleship, exploiting its lack of shields and penetrating extraordinarily thick hull armor to burrow deep inside the raider. The pair had perished in their attack -but only after the battleship had turned its own guns on itself to get rid of them, resulting in the only recorded incident of a capital ship being crippled by a freighter.
Merva hoped they would have better luck.

Closing in on the Necropolis, Eisuke was forced to make minute adjustments to their course, lining up with one of the warship's innumerable airlocks. Slowing at an angle, he gently pulled up on the controls to lightly dock with the massive enemy vessel. The only reason he could do so was that the Necropolis had extended its shields over the entire fleet, leaving it vulnerable to such a tactic. Still, the kitsune knew full well that even if they had succeeded to this point, it probably wouldn't last long. It just had to last long enough.

The cargo pod was lined up with the airlock, with the Undercut perched atop it and the bay doors pointing at the hatch. On Merva's command, the miner would activate and punch through the airlock to begin digging its way into the bowels of the SIN flagship, its on-board sensors homing in on the largest power source. Hopefully, that would be the core reactor of the Necropolis. Just in case the Necrians somehow pulled off a similar feat in stopping the miner, it was armed with an ion bomb, the destruction of which would fry electronics in a wide radius around the blast. That was assuming they could get the machine inside in the first place.
Now, Lieutenant!

Madano Island
X Corps Headquarters...

“I understand. We can be on the frontlines within the hour.”

Hotaka nodded, grateful even if he didn't entirely show it. He couldn't have asked the Alversians to make that sacrifice, but he had known in his heart that they would not refuse. The bond between their peoples went beyond simple allied interests, which was why foe after foe had fallen before their combined forces. Except, it seemed, for here. Kor'laesha was the world where he, at least, would be made to make his last stand.

The idea disturbed him to the point where he thought he was going to throw up. Holding on to the side of the table, the general grimaced while trying not to let his nausea show. Already, he felt hot with the humiliation of his defeat. He was going to preside over the largest surrender of Imperial forces in history, assuming he didn't die first. It was increasingly feeling like he might.

"The Zyanlon theater," he began, then trailed off. The tod was leaning against the table, staring into space, but unlike before he looked unfocused. He swayed, holding on to the table for support before starting again. "Zyanlon has reports of enemy small craft supporting the advance on Newkara. There is an Amanastar-"

One of his hands jerked, and he knocked over a canteen of water perched on the edge. The kitsune only watched as it clattered to the floor, blinking at it. "No, I'm receiving a new transmission," he bent down to pick it up and ended up sitting down on the floor, head swimming. "Don't..." Hotaka swallowed, mouth suddenly dry. "Sniper's still out there. Don't..." He put his head in his hands, pinching at his snout.


Atop the hill that the bunker was buried beneath, Staff Sergeant Necorona Morta stared down the scope of her "Deathspeed" energy rifle. After the attack on the general, the Necrian had been ordered away from her post overseeing one of the evacuation centers to searching for the sniper who had nearly killed her superior officer. It wasn't the first time she'd tangled with such enemies during the uprising -she had confirmed kills on two sharpshooters- but this one was definitely the best, she thought as she swept her eyes over the expanse of space beyond the bunker and the parked shuttle outside. The command center had been set up ad hoc after the one built for the purpose had been bombed at the opening of the revolt, so the usual security was absent -there were no electric fences, no shields, not even a proper gate. It was little wonder, then, that the sniper had been able to infiltrate the makeshift command post.

Wandering over a copse of palm trees mostly obscured by an overgrown thicket of bougainvillea bushes, she was about to pass it over when something caught her eye. At first, it had registered as nothing more than a broken palm branch, dead and browned in the sun, but when she looked back she realized that it was too thick and regular to be organic. She had to give her foe credit; she recognized the weapon, and somehow he had infiltrated to this point, made the shot on the general with a civilian-grade hunting rifle, and he was still there, waiting for another opportunity. Necorona couldn't even make out the sniper himself, just the weapon poking through the trees.
But she wasn't going to give him the chance to take any more shots.

Necorona couldn't fire in good faith without being able to actually see her opponent since missing would allow him to escape or return fire, even if she could make a reasonable estimation of where he was. Luckily, she had other options. Hospital Actual, this is Sierra-1, she contacted base security over her neural link. I have eyes-on times one foot mobile, designate Charlie-1. His coordinates should be coming through now.

A moment passed before the response came. Copy that Sierra-1. Deploying times-one squad for neutralization measures. Can you take him?

Negative, Hotel. I do not have a clear shot. Will attempt to disarm Charlie-1. ETA on squad arrival?

T-minus two, Sierra-1. Be advised that callsign Alpha is requesting permission for departure.

That meant the Alversian officers' transport. Necorona's eyes narrowed. She couldn't blame the pilot, but that was a bad idea. Hotel, be advised that you should not permit Alpha's departure. It will provoke Charlie-1, and a weapon of that caliber could blast right through them. Strongly advise you delay Alpha's departure until my signal. How copy.

Another moment passed. Copy that, Sierra-1. Departure order belayed.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Necorona kept her sights fixed while allowing her eyes to pick through the trees and shrubs that made up the copse. She couldn't see anyone within or any other weapons, but that didn't mean there weren't others. The Staff Sergeant wasn't aware of the squad going around to flank the sniper, which was a good thing -it meant that the other sniper wasn't, either. As thick as the tension was, nothing outside showed it, from the soft breeze through the trees to the cry of a distant raptor. Necorona waited.

Sierra-1, Hotel. Squad designate Romeo-1 has been patched to you.

Copy that.

Sierra-1, this is Romeo-1. My unit is in position. How do you want to play this?

Romeo-1, Sierra-1. I shoot and scoot, you close in and flush him out.
Necorona smirked. We're going fox hunting.

Copy that Sierra-1, you sick bitch.

Romeo-1, the signal is now!

Grinning, Necorona pulled the trigger and watched in delight as the Howlbasta's barrel blew apart

Zyanlon Island
Quiet Cay Township...

Things happened very quickly after Auran's surprise entrance. The lancers abruptly went silent followed by the smash of glass as Challa was sent sailing through a storefront window with telekinetic force. When Auran peeked out he saw Syrana decapitate one of the men who had been holding her, the militia's weaponry scattered around her feet as she swung her sword around and plunged it into the other's abdomen, blood spewing from his mouth before she tugged up and removed her blade in a spray of ichor. Despite her bleeding wound, the blond slammed her head back into the nose of the woman behind her, making the Necrian scream in pain and stagger back before a haymaker of a punch laid her out. The man beside her gave a snarl-hiss and drew his knife, slashing at the Alversian, only for Syrana's blade to twitch and make the thug stagger away, missing the offending arm.

"Don't shoot!" The last woman standing had tugged a holdout lancet from its holster and jammed it against the side of the kitsune's head. She looked wildly from the Alversian, who had scooped up one of the lancer pistols, to Syrana, her blade slick and shiny with blood. "You move one fucking muscle and I swear I'll burn his brains to ash! I'm going to-"

Auran's lancer flared, and the would-be hostage-taker collapsed to the ground, a smoking hole opened in her back.
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Postby Necrisis » Wed Jul 01, 2020 10:26 pm

SSF Necropolis
Command Chambers

Fash's eyes flickered across the tac-com, fingers occasionally tapping status updates sent in by Ship Minds across the fleet.
Things were going well, so far.
Two light-attack cruisers had fallen back behind one of the Hetaevan heavies, letting shields recover and performing field repairs while the Hetaevan Baerox unleashed salvos of ion cannons into the pickets and destroyer that had gotten into range. The Wraith cloud was capped at twelve thousand and Necropolis was resupplying them constantly. He could keep that up for an hour or so, before harvester drones had to deploy and gather salvage from the field.
They would be done by then.

The micro-jaunt attack was starting to stall despite the surprise, reports coming back about bombing runs being destroyed or called off as Nighshades and Wraiths hunted them down.
Even so, the Alversian missile barrages were playing havoc with their sensors and the fleet was starting to take hits from the shear number of ships arrayed against the armada, coupled with their inability to maneuver effectively within the minefield. Even though Sahrkhaern could replenish down Wraiths easily enough, those Alversian missiles - nicknamed 'Blue Tongues' by the bridge crew - chewed through the drones fast, and Fash had to reorganize the swarm to stay close to KEX and APR ships, and spread out at all other times.

Nothing serious, but the defending feet had drawn the proverbial line in the sand, and if the SIN armada didn't move soon, it was going to be all but a stalemate.

That was when Pack One reported in. They were starting to take fire from the defensive line, weakened by the colonial Necrian vessels.
Fash glanced at the countdown he had been tracking for the last few minutes. They would be cutting it closer than he cared for, but sooner was much preferable to later.

He opened a link to the Necrian Heavy Cruiser at the heart of Pack One's formation. "Fleet Marshal Ith, engage your charge. Tell your Maakus' that they can keep whatever ships they take. Once at appropriate range, detonate your ordinance."
The Ship Master's voice came back over the com, confident and resolute. "We will do our duty to the end, Supremarex."

Fash disengaged the com after sending a similar command to Pack Two, and waited for the next moment to play out.
They were twenty minutes into the battle, and the anticipation was starting to make his heart pound. Even after all these years, decades of Fleet Mastery, the excitement of battle never left him.

Moon Curse
Command Chamber

Fleet Marshall Ith Iscaria stood from his command throne and address his crew, com links opened to the Pack One fleet and his ship.
"We are commanded by the Goddess Herself to levy justice against the unjust. To seek peace against the violent, love against the hateful. I fear no evil, for She is beside me. I fear not Her Embrace for my Goddess comes for me. How say you all?"

There was only the briefest of silences as his words sounded across all coms before there was the deafening reply, shouted from his bridge crew and coms.
"I fear no Evil, I fear no Death, the Goddess comes for me!"

"Well said," Ith said with a grim smile. "Alpha Marrak, Fleet Master Fash has given your packmates permission to take any ship you can for your clan. Goddess speed you."

"And She you," came the snarled reply from the tac-com. "For Blood, Glory, and the Red Dawns of Haethra!"

Pack One - and its sister, having received and performed similar orders and exultation - surged forward, all guns firing into the Alversian-Xiscap line, completely ignoring the Necrian ships under Jyll's command.
The Hetaevan heavy cruisers put on a burst of speed and pushed all shields to forward and starboard, even as grazer mines fired, igniting the flux shields and plasma lattice below. Hulling two frigates with many more shot than it should have taken, the Hetaevan vessels did not rupture or explode, instead hurtling at full force into one of the Alversian capitals not able to move out of the way fast enough.

One of the assault carriers - fires burning from engines torn and sundered - propelled itself into the Odin-class dreadnought. As it was chewed into by the warship's weapons, dropships and microflares of jetpacks could be seen leaving the MAC as all its remaining guns turned into Dawnlight Predator - six of the eight quad-linked ion cannons firing at dangerous cycling rates, a fraction of the turbolasers joining in.
As it neared the dreadnought, two flashes of light fired from either side of the bow, its armored hull crashing into the Predator's shields.
The blazing lights pumped into shield, ripping them apart before the wreck collided with the ship, ion cannons still firing before one detonated in a blaze of over-clocked glory, ion energy spilling over even as boarding lances launched from the front of the ship.

The Necrian heavy cruiser held back, launching six plasma torpedoes into the Alversian line, two targeting the Furious, dozens of lancers and heavy lancers crashing into shields and hull, its Wraith swarm disengaging from the ship's hull and churning into the mix.

Behind them, among the grazer debris and destroyed frigates, a small black oblong floated free, no bigger than four meters by one.
To any sensor, it seemed to be just another shard of debris.

Scarlet Serpent
Command Chamber

As Packs One and Two charged the line in a sudden display of aggression, Jyll stared out the view port at the Necropolis. She had trained under Fash for two years. She knew him, or at least had. He was a man of overwhelming force and focus, and he ran his fleets the same.
Learning that the flagship was going to be here, she had run over any possible attack and angle he would bring to bare.

While the Battle of Fel'Tethra certainly had his mark on it - overwhelming might and a patient slow advance through dangerous territory - this attack did not.
The fleet was stalled, hanging back out of major range of anything but the most powerful cannons, weathering the storm of fighter attacks.

It wasn't patient, it was reserved.
Not to mention, where was the rest of the fleet?

Fel'Tethra battle reports put the conservative count at three-hundred ships, more than half a new type of Necrian ship.
But this fleet - at just over a hundred - was turning out to be mostly Hetaevan. Long range active scans had showed that even what they had thought were NID era ships were just Hetaevan junkers, using Necrian hulls and salvage.

"What's the game, you old dragon," Jyll muttered to herself, turning back to the tac-com in time to see the pull-away fleets charge.
It was reckless, suicidal almost. Eighteen ships, against the defending line? There was no way. Even the Heteavan ships - heavily armored, with stupid amounts of system redundancy and weapons that would overwork most modern reactors in minutes of sustained fighting - were falling fast.
It came as little surprise when the massive troop carriers aimed for Dawnlight Predator and Jyll sent them a small prayer. She had been on the receiving end of a Hetaevan boarding party once. It wasn't as easy as it seemed to dislodge them once they were on board, and she had only had to contend with a pair of harpoon frigates - the trooper carrier seemed to be made specifically for this band of Hetaevan glory.

Watching the tac-com's holograms, Jyll gritted her teeth as one of the trailing fleets' troop carrier engaged some kind of afterburner and prepared to ram the Blood Pact, over a dozen ion cannons ripping into the shields.
Her own ship continued to fire barrage after barrage, having to re-target the main fleet as the two flotillas got out of her broadside's firing arc.
But the frigates adjusted to keep the Hetaevan ships in sight, lancer batteries tearing at the heavier ships again and again.

What was Fash's plan?
Jyll searched the field. She had to be missing something. The overwhelming force was all Fash needed to break the line and scatter them, prepping to land troops while their fleet scrambled to either regroup or flee.
But as it was, they could just hold him here. This charge attack was pointless. With so few ships, there was little hope to occupy them for more than a few moments.


Jyll turned to Byeol, her apprentice sensor technician. "Fleetman Byeol, scan for energy sync across the board. Give me any anomalous data."
"At once," the vixen replied.

Across the command pits, the human comms apprentice - Jeddas Finn - finished his check-by list and glanced up at the view screen.
Nudging his Necrian officer, who glared at him, the human nodded to the Necropolis. "I've never seen a ship like that. You think that main gun... I mean, are we going to be ok?"
The Necrian swiped his com check list closed and keyed something into the shared console. "We'll be fine." He glanced over his shoulder at Jyll, his eyes edging passed her to the Security Officer standing on the other side of the table.

She caught his eyes, a stare that lasted for only a second.
Then he turned back to the console.

"I need you to blanket-com all our sister ships. Everything in the Necrian Defense Fleet."
Jeddas looked back at Jyll who was cycling through a dozen items Byeol had pulled up. "I..."
"You're my apprentice," the Necrian said, reaching over and opening the comms. "She gives me orders, I give you orders. Did no one tell you fucking mammals how to do your jobs before sending you up here?"
"No. I mean. Yes, sir."
"Good." The Necrian looked at him, his expression softening for a moment. "Sorry. It's hard seeing you in her seat. I had a partner... but she left to join the Empress's fleet." He nodded out the viewport. "That one."
Jeddas merely nodded. "Of course." He complied and opened all channels to the other ships. "What's our dispatch?"
The Necrian glanced at the read out, making sure it was all the Necrian colonial vessels and, nodding in approval, turned back to his own.
"Lightning Strikes Twice."
At Jeddas' confused look, the Necrian gestured for him to send the message. "It's a rally call. That charge will have moved us out of position. She gave standing orders to maintain the line, so that's our job to remind them. Go, send it."
Jeddas merely nodded.

"All Defense Fleets are to hold station, repeat, Lightning Strikes Twice, copy all ships."

"Good," the Necrian said, leveling his lancer at Jeddas' head and firing. "You did good."

Jyll whipped around as the lancer discharged with its characteristic hiss, her hand flying to her own sidearm before two strong arms reached across the tac-com and hauled her through the holograms to rest on Security Officer Khathres's armored chest, lancer pistol charging a shot into the barrel before she could even think.

Cries of surprise and pain rose across her command deck as lancers discharged, the smell of burning flesh filling the room.
Byeol received a gut punch, folding her over, even as two Necrian's tackled another, rolling over the pit causeway and down with a thud. There was a struggle and two quick hisses of a lancer.

Jyll struggled for a moment, her mind racing. How stupid could she have been? No, no they had been desperate, hard pressed to find locals with warship training.
But NFP... here?

"You'll want to stop that," Khathres whispered, pressing the pistol into her temple, her arm pinning Jyll's throat. "I'm not a fan of this mutiny idea, but the Goddess has charged us with special purpose. I cannot go against my Lady more than my Ship Mistress, but one had to give."
Jyll strangled out a curse, but Khathres merely gestured to Byeol. "You're a fox-lover, yeah? Well, you don't keep nice and still I'll burn her right through."

Jyll's eyes met the young vixen's, wide and fearful, but with a set jaw in the face of a lancer that Jyll admired.
"Don't..." Jyll gasped. "There's... no need..."
"Oh but there is." She looked over at the comms officer, who was staring at Jeddas, slumped in his chair. "Comms?"
He just nodded, reaching over to close the human's eyes. "Sent. The know the plan."

Jyll could only watch, helpless, as her frigates pulled back, losing some of their original cohesion as the moved towards the KEX Veil-class interdictors. They would be soft-locking them now, getting more than close enough to open fire and destroy them.
But not every frigate was moving. Some had stopped firing on their targets, drifting lazily, others turning about, fast. But comms were silent across the board. Maybe not every crew had mutinied, but all communications between the ships were out.

Please, Hirata, Jyll thought. Please... see them. Please...

Venom Flight

Taravon juked left and down, pulling through a tight roll that took him around the covering fighter and lining up the Alversian bomber in his lancers, stitching red pockmarks across it's shields before launching a plasma mote, guiding it manually into the rear engine and tearing the ship apart in a fireball as countering lancer fire ripped through the local area, point-defenses whipping by as he skated across the shields, using them to recharge his own faster, even as the KEX fighter started to chase him down.
But another wave of bombers had been flagged, and Taravon guided his ship up and into a spiraling move punching thrust for a moment - long enough for the other fighter to give chase - before reversing the spin and reversing direction.
He felt their shields skid across each other, flaring them, but already his plasma launcher was primed once more and he loosed two pulses in rapid succession.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw the flotilla foul against the defensive line.
That meant...

Only a second later, two void-bomb charges detonated, micro-singularities whirling out from the bombs, ripping apart grazer mines in swaths of roiling energy.

He turned his attention back to the task at hand.
Soon the fighters would be stuck and he could hunt them down with leisure.

SSF Necropolis
Lower Expanse

The XIS Undercut scooted up to the airlock - big enough around to take in a whole small ship, nevermind personnel - and positioned itself.
Even as Eisuke lined up their effort, he saw something shift along the hull of the ship.
A pair or bronze Wraith drones, clung to the underside, walking along the skin on their modular wing-legs, their glowing red eyes sweeping the empty space Eisuke and Merva were actually occupying.

For a moment it seemed like they had been spotted somehow, the two drones watching them eerily. Then a flight of bombers and fighters swept by, followed closely by Necrian ships and the Wraiths leapt to pursue.

Continuing with their plan, the Undercut's mining pod jettisoned, smashing into the Necrian dreadnought and burrowing in.

As it ate into the airlock, black sludge spilled forth, spattering against the stealth ship's underside and whirling off into space.
Within moments the miner was gone, but the sludge continued to pour out from the broken hull, like blood from a wound.
Unlike blood, it pulled itself up to the Undercut tendrils and lashing tendons of black ink, wrapping around the ship, sparking whatever shields it might have.

Even within the ship, both the kitsune and ferret could feel a pressure in their heads, words forming as if from nothing.

Arrogant insects to breach my flesh. My skin is bone, my blood intent. But you are wrought of softer things...

If either had the mind to track the miner's progress, they could see that though it was still burrowing, it had made it less than a hundred meters into the ship before slowing to almost a crawl.

Madano Island
1k out from X Corps Headquarters

Morid kept his breath steady, watching the lander with the patience of an experience hide-hunter.

His ears picked up something on the wind, and he sniffed.
A new scent. But what-?

The lancer blast took the muzzle off the Howlbasta before Morid could move.
Like almost all lancer-type guns, the Howlbastsa charged the barrel with gases then energized them to produce the beam.
So when the enemy sniper took the barrel, the ensuing, green fireball torched the treetops and Morid, who fell back with a grunt of pain.

As he landed - rolling onto his hands and knees, knife in hand, half of his body smoldering with radioactive fires - he heard a chime.
One of his traps had gone off.

There was a scream as a tree whipped by, trailing a trooper by the ankle to slam him down into the dirt.
Morid batted at the flames as he scuttled across the detritus of the forest floor, even as another pair of KEX soldiers appeared from the underbrush, rifles roaring.

Morid felt a round rip through his shoulder even as he launched the disc from his pocket with an underarm whip that took the lead soldier by surprise, even as the compressed synth-silk exploded over them, throwing him back into the following soldier where they became entangled on the ground.
Another chime and a soldier that had taken an extra moment to watch for the trap that had taken his fellow was catapulted end over then, the tree breaking with the force of the attached zipcord.

Morid didn't know if they were dead. He didn't stay to find out, or if there were more of them.
Fading into the brush, he winced his way through the dense cover, checking the sun only once to keep his way.

He paused for breath on a tree, vomiting onto the leaves as the nausea of rad-poisoning set in.

But no. He had survived worse. He had taken the head of one of those giant schor that tunneled around Bast'alok. Their poison was no more potent than some light radiation poisoning.
Even as his vision swam, Morid made his way through the trees toward his wilderness camp.

There was another sniper out there, and he intended to match wits with them if he could. It would be an epic battle - if... if he could only get this radiation down...

Morid collapsed, his vision wavering. He retched and got himself back up again.
Not too bad then.
Not bad at all, he thought, wiping blood from his mouth.

Zyanlon Island
Quiet Cay Township

Auran stood, lancer still aimed at some of the broken bodies that twitched. He looked over the trio with an approving look.
"Nice sword work," he told Syrana. "I've seen templars do worse with more. Grab what you can and lets get out of here. I have some friends - nearby I hope. If we can meet up with them, we'll have more than a fighting chance against this NFP scum."
Sol Imperi Necrosa Factbook

"You know you're in a shitty situation when your better option is 'go to war with the KEX.'" ~ Xiscapia

"Necrian diplomatic missives are often delivered by sniper rifle."~ NS

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Postby Alversia » Wed Jul 08, 2020 1:39 pm

APS Furious Task Force N

Callaghan watched as the battle unfolded both before her eyes and on the readouts. She watched as one of the columns burst towards the line of allied capital vessels; one heading for the dreadnought Odin and another straight for her own vessel.

“Captain, we have a vessel incoming. 2100 and closing.”

The announcement was made not to her but to Captain O’Neill who stood nearby. The ship was her domain, her queendom. Callaghan had enough on her plate with the battle itself raging not to need to micromanage the ship on top of everything else. O’Neill had commanded the Furious against Danaversians, against Booleans, Exiles, against Gajaha. The confidence she exuded was infectious, even Callaghan herself felt it despite being her immediate superior. Let the fleet fight its battle, the Furious would do her part.

Even now, upon hearing of an enemy boarding party, for it could be nothing else, bearing down on her did not ruffle the Alversian, “Target, mid-batteries, fire at will. Torpedo batteries 4 through 6 to engage. Heavy batteries, remain on target. Spinal begin spool.”

By her command, beams of red energy began striking from all along the hull of the Furious, her wedge bow allowing dozens of beams to wear down the shields and began boring into the armour of carriers. That was the real threat of the Molecular Disruption Beams; as shields collapsed until missile and torpedo fire, the energy of the beams would begin to break apart the bonds between the molecules of the armour before passing their energy to the next connection to repeat the process. The thicker the armour, the denser the molecules and the more efficiently the effect could spread. Beam after beam, round after round, the carrier coming straight for them was stripped away.

“Admiral, X1 targets confirmed.”

Callaghan nodded, eyes darting to the map where the two carriers were marked, “Fire.”

It took just a second to pass that order through.

The Admiral could see it all through the sensor readings and the visual link before her even as the deck beneath her feet began to tremble and hum. Furious was limbering herself up, collecting energy at a rate that would have outmatched entire planets but it would be Spartiate who fired first, her own spinal cannon already spooled up to maximum. Indeed, Callaghan could picture the wry smile on Captain Eithagar’s face as he fired straight at the first carrier. Her sister heavy cruiser Moorshire was not long in following; the recoil from the discharge throwing her back like a cannon of old. Each shot had the power to crack open a planet; capital-killing weapons around which the ships had been built rather than vice versa.

Of course, now that they had fired, the downside of the Neutron Cannon became evident; now hot enough to roast a gal in seconds, it would take time for the cooling systems to make everything safe to even begin spooling up that degree of energy again. How long depended on the ship but she knew she could not relay on them being back in the near future.

The trembling beneath her had died down. Furious had collected her energy and now held it like a loaded spring.

“Fire.” O’Neill said it as calmly as ever. It was evident the carrier was not going to be stopped in time and so instead Furious hit it with the power to crack a super capital ship. The heavy cruisers were one thing, but a battlecruiser was quite another.

Callaghan did not feel a thing, not even when the entire battlecruiser lurched back, more power discharged in seconds than some planets generated in an entire year.

Her elation was brief. Immediately her eyes turned from the targeted carriers to her own line. It was breaking. The Necrians? The Alversian gripped at the rail before her, watching as frigates broke away from her own destroyers and corvettes and instead headed for the FTLi cruisers…

“Send a transmission to the Admiral,” She spoke breathlessly, “Permission to engage…engage enemy frigates.”

Arc Squadron, Kor’laesha Orbit

Akio’s whole world was light and chaos and noise.

Even now, after all his training, his instinct was to flinch any time a shell burst too close, or a beam of superheated energy glanced his cockpit. Any time a fighter, friend or foe died a fiery death in the cold vacuum of space, the urge was to shield oneself, to protect against the war that raged just beyond his reach. The Escan did not flinch, though even he could not keep himself from twitching at particularly close bursts.

The destroyer screen was doing as intended and forcing the drones to stay close to their opponents, something which only helped the nimble and lethal fighters escorting them. Already he had worked out that his XB-99 could outmanoeuvre their drone counters at these close ranges, though the numbers were negating that somewhat, but now his focus was wholly on the battleship before him.

Thirty-two XB-99s were attacking it; Boxtor in front and above and Archangel hot on their tails. Other squadrons would be attacking from other vectors he knew, to distract and overwhelm, but theirs was the main attack. Theirs was the one that had to succeed. It was a big ship, he could tell that already, and it was throwing up a lot of counter-fire in defence of itself. The ECW suite in the nose was working overtime. It was nothing fancy, but it was never meant to be with its only purpose to throw off the targeting sensors by a fraction at a time, to buy them half a chance. The drones that flew amongst them were much more active, beams of energy shooting out to intercept incoming missiles or rival drones who got too close.

His sensors detected a massive spike of energy from somewhere around him, consistent with two massive explosions in space. Whatever they were was not important right. Instead, his world was the battleship…

Boxter in front was taking a hell of a beating. He watched as two of their craft were eviscerated by lancer fire, another fell to fighters coming up from behind. Archangel was not spared either as he saw fire streak past his cockpit from behind.

“Steady,” Tanner’s voice was as level as her words, “Stay in formation. Watch your spacing!”

A burst from beside him. Archangel-3…Bobbi…her bomber had vanished, torn in two by some drone that streaked away.


A round of lancer fire destroyed another Boxter bomber. There had to be only half their number left.


“Watch our si-“ Archangel-4, Sora, a fellow Escan managed before he too was destroyed.


His whole cockpit rocked. A near miss…


They were getting close now…his finger hovered over the trigger.


He pressed.

The whole craft lurched beneath him as if a great mass had just separated. From point blank range, his Hard Knocker streaked away in front of him as the formation now broke hard left, following Tanner’s lead. The Hard Knocker packed a hell of a punch for something its size but it was never going to kill a battleship. It did not need to. He watched to see the impacts, targeting the same points in the shield, the same areas of armour. They were not to destroy the battleship, merely nullify its defences. The real finishers would be following up before long.

“Justicar, we are clear!” Tanner called over the vox, “Engaging!”

This was now their new role. The XB-99 was a fighter in every way except when loaded down with a warhead. Now free; it was time to turn the tides on their attackers.

”Let’s see how you like it…”

X Corps Headquarters
Madano Island, Kor'laesha

Keaton met Hotaka’s eye and accepted the slight nod he gave. When the Xiscapian General had mentioned what would happen, he had also known what her reply would be. They were in this together, to the end.

The weight of responsibility seemed to bear down on the kitsune as he held on to the table for support with shaking knees. Something was wrong.

Hotaka tried to speak but interrupted himself. A canteen of water was sent clattering to the floor as he tried to reach for it like a gal after a few too many cocktails. Keaton was moving already, her first step a walk. Her second step was a leap as she grabbed the General, cushioning his fall as his strength seemed to leave him in an instant. She lowered him gently to the floor and placed him in the recover position. His heart was racing. His pulse and his breathing were weak.

“Medic!” Baxtor called, rushing for the door where his previous carer had departed, “We need a medic in here now!”

Keaton held the tod’s head in her hands, the ground cold and hard on her knees but she did nothing to change it, attention wholly on her comrade, “Hotaka,” She spoke as clearly as she could, “You’re going to be alright. Stay with me now, General. You wouldn’t want us to win this thing without you now.”

Zyanlon Island
Quiet Cay Township

“Yeah, not bad at all, Giggles,” The Alversian woman was still holding her head, not at all perturbed by the sight of so much death and dismemberment around her as she regarded her feline companion, “Give me one second…”

She ducked back into the wreck of the shuttle, emerging with a pistol and a medical kit, “I have a feeling we’re going to need both of these.” Her blonde hair had been mattered and blackened by blood and there was a bruise welling up on her cheek. Again, she looked to the alumina, “You want to grab anything from these scumbags?”

At the same time, she handed the pistol to the tod, “You should probably take this; I’m seeing two of everything right now.” She squinted in Auran’s direction, “Cheers for that; whichever one is real…”
Last edited by Alversia on Tue Aug 04, 2020 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Xiscapia » Fri Jul 10, 2020 12:37 am

XIS Blood Pact, Bridge...

One of Hirata's virtues, going back to his days of wargaming at the naval academy, was that he was usually quick to recognize when he had made a mistake. The fact that this realization often came only when it was too late for him to do anything about it had contributed to its fair share of taunts and jokes at his expense. 'Insight at gunpoint' his fellow cadets had called it. But the candor and understanding it took for him to see his own errors had made him a better commander.
However, that was contingent on his ability to survive his own mistakes.

I should have given Callaghan's cruisers permission to fire as soon as they asked, he thought as the SIN task forces made their charge. The escorts were being torn apart, taking missiles, shells, and energy blasts meant for the carriers, and when an APB beam sliced through the stern of the leading Hetaevan ship and gutted its engines that only sealed the fate of its target. The Dawnlight Predator had no hope of moving out of the way quickly enough, and Hirata could only watch in the slow-motion that his neural uplink provided while the carrier crashed into the dreadnought, debris and energy flares bursting into the void while swarms of boarders used every conceivable means to cross the gap. One of the Cruorian battleships, the Backbreaker, had already begun to turn about to help the stricken dreadnought, and Hirata had neither the time nor the inclination to micromanage saving the Cruorian flagship. He had to trust that they could get it done -especially since there was a second carrier bearing down on his own ship.

As difficult as it was to do, Hirata ignored the imminent threat. That was for the captain of the Blood Pact to handle, and the vixen electronically barking orders did just that. Even as focused as he was on the bigger picture of the battle, Hirata was aware enough to be impressed. The pocket battleship had been designed as a "fast" capital ship, eschewing the large numbers of troops and ships that the regular Dominator ships carried in favor of a sleeker, less massive superstructure that was much more maneuverable. Captain Hono proved that as her commands led to the Blood Pact heaving itself into a vertical position.

Spinning on its axis, the pocket battleship's shields flickered and let through ion blasts that stitched chain lightning along the ship's hull. At such close range, there was no way to avoid the furiously firing batteries, but the barrages came in passing as the Hetaevan carrier cleanly missed the Blood Pact. It might have had the room to maneuver to turn around for another pass, but its momentum took it straight into the jaws of the Furious, and with the Blood Pact out of the way the Alversian flagship gave the would-be rammer everything it had. It was only then that Hirata thought about how strange the tactic had been. Hetaevans were known to be reckless, but even they had to know there was no real chance at success with so many AXIS ships arrayed against them.

Permission to engage enemy frigates? he wondered at the transmission from Callaghan, confused for a split-second. All of the frigates escorting the Hetaevan carriers had been destroyed, and it was only after he saw the sensor readings that he realized the Alversian admiral was referring to the ships of the Scarlet Serpent task force. The other cruisers were still dutifully firing at the distant SIN fleet, but the guns of the Scarlet Serpent itself had gone silent. Equally worrying was the fact that the Homage frigates had completely fallen out of formation, some drifting while others peeled away to penetrate the larger AXIS formation. Jaw set, Hirata gave his orders.

Admiral Callaghan, your top priority is keeping our inhibitor and electronic warfare ships safe. Destroy all Reactionary frigates approaching them. The Empire Song will support. Comms, the Lady Gwendolen is to set course for the Scarlet Serpent. There is a probable mutiny on board.

As called, the Empire Song veered into a protective position where the Veil inhibitors were covered by its guns. The Iron Succubus cruiser was quite a new and unusual vessel, an Alversian hull stocked with Xiscapian technology and Huerdaen weaponry, bristled with rows of flak cannons and room for several dozen ion cannons and torpedo tubes. As the Homage frigates closed and opened up on their targets the Empire Song responded with withering bursts of flak as hundreds of cannons blanketed each frigate. Antimatter bomblets detonated in proximity to enemy missiles, torpedos, and Wraiths to destroy them, while other submunitions were fired directly at the lancers, miniaturized shield generators absorbing energy blasts repeatedly as the volume was filled with clusters of explosives and shield packets. No matter what the Homage frigates did, they wouldn't be able to fire on the Veil frigates -or on the torpedos homing in on the traitorous ships.

Not far away, the Krystal armored cruiser Lady Gwendolen powered towards the Scarlet Serpent. Like the Iron Succubus, the Krystal was a recent design for a ship not unlike the Hetaevan carriers. The reason for its lack of hangars, bulbs for energy weapons, airlocks, and more could be found in the wicked-looking ramming prow that the cruiser sported. With a full division of Imperial Marines aboard, Lady Gwendolen had been made to board and capture enemy capital ships, though this would mark the first time that one was used to put down a mutiny. Looming over the Scarlet Serpent, the armored cruiser lashed out with tow cables and harpoons to attach itself to the other ship, carefully reeling it in so the Necrian ship's airlocks lined up with its breaching collars.

CSS Dawnlight Predator, Bridge...

Admiral John Crichton was wasting his time.
The abhuman lagomorph stood on the bridge of his flagship, squinting as he tried to make out sensor readings and recordings through all of the interference. He already knew it was a lost cause. For such a savage attack, the ramming maneuver had been skilled enough to effectively cripple the dreadnought, leaving many of its sensor arrays and batteries disabled, damaged, or destroyed. Even now the enemy was abandoning their mortally wounded ship in favor of his own, taking everything from shuttles and boarding lances to harpoons and jetpacks. What stuck in his craw was that he was expected to do the same.

"Admiral. We have to leave, now."

Exhaling, John turned to the commanding officer of his security detachment. The jackal woman had a head of height on him even without the power armor she wore, but she spoke respectfully to her superior. Whether she could sense or sympathize with his plight, John couldn't tell. It felt wrong to leave the Dawnlight Predator for a new ship after it had been rammed, even considering the dreadnought's condition -like he was abandoning its crew to their fate while he continued the fight from a safe position. He had always known in an abstract sort of way what protocol called for, but knowing and doing were two very different things.

"I know," he said finally, the anger and regret roiling in his chest. "Let's go." Glancing back, he shared a last look with the vulpine captain of the Dawnlight Predator, getting a solemn salute from the man, before John stepped off the bridge for the last time. His bodyguards formed up on him, with two leading and another two flanking him as they trotted through the rumbling ship. Feeling the impacts of debris and boarding craft was the only way he really knew that it was under attack. They were close to the citadel that was the dreadnought's bridge, nestled in the heart of the ship, past a maze of turrets and ambush positions the enemy would have to navigate to even get near.

"The Backbreaker and her frigates are going to blast the remains of the rammer off us and then dock to provide support," the staff sergeant told him as they strode through cold and quiet halls. "Our objective is to get you on board the Backbreaker so you can retake command of the fleet. We should be able to reach an airlock and walk right through, but if that's not possible then we'll escort you to one of the hangars instead. I'd prefer to avoid that. Hangar bays tend to be hotspots during boarding actions."

They passed by a nonfunctional lift and proceeded down a staircase, taking a corridor that passed between the crew staterooms. John's ears twitched as they picked up the sound of distant combat, shouts, screams, gunfire, and explosions echoing and reverberating through tight metal spaces. It got fainter as they went in the opposite direction, but John still brushed his hand against the butt of his sidearm. He never would have thought he'd have any cause to use it outside of training, but that might be about to change.

XIS Undercut, Cockpit...

"The hell...?" Eisuke breathed as the dark substance spewed out of the hole that the mole miner had made. If he hadn't known any better he would have said that the ship was bleeding. Having come up beside him, Merva was less concerned about that than the miner's progress, consulting the instruments with a frown behind her helmet. The little vehicle was moving far more slowly than it should have been, and she didn't have the faintest idea why. It could bore through solid rock or thick hull armor, so what in the universe was holding it up?

She got her answer when the oozing liquid drifting out of the Necropolis solidified, hardening into tentacles that lashed out at the Undercut. Both of the Ascians felt their ship lurch as their target grabbed hold of them, and Eisuke didn't need the shrieking klaxon to tell him that they had just lost shields. "Fuck, fuck, fuck!" he yanked hard on the controls, at first trying to pull away, but despite the gravitic waves that washed over them the tendrils held fast. The scout bucked and Eisuke angled its nose down, antiproton cannons pointed squarely at the black mass linking the Undercut and the Necropolis. They flared with antimatter bursts, any notion of stealth having been jettisoned with the miner, as he desperately tried to cut the cord.

"Soft enough for you, bitch?" Merva hissed through clenched teeth.

Madano Island
X Corps Headquarters...

“You’re going to be alright. Stay with me now, General. You wouldn’t want us to win this thing without you now.”

"Heh," Hotaka coughed, eyes fluttering as he tried to keep them open. "We're not...winning. My...responsibility..." His breathing was labored, head lolling weakly in her hands as she propped it up in her lap. Eyes rolling, the tod gave her a weak smile. "Gotta be an easier way...get my head in an alvie's lap..."

He coughed again, trembling where he lay on the floor, but by then the medics had arrived. The same Aretian as before was there, snapping orders left and right as they got a hard-light stretcher positioned beneath the general. There was some amount of confusion as several guards appeared as well, though both Keaton and Baxtor could hear the Aretian scolding Hotaka as he was carried off into some other part of the bunker. All in all, several minutes passed before they were approached again, this time by a Necrian woman in Imperial power armor. She had a regal face, with a high nose and amber eyes, black hair tied back in a braid that disappeared into her armor.

"Generals," she gave them a quick nod. "I'm Major General Nerelith, General Hotaka's executive officer. The doctors told me that sniper shot hurt him more than it looked. Radiation poisoning," the elfin woman grimaced. "He's expected to recover soon, but for the time being I must take his place. On the plus side, base security is hunting that sniper down, so it shouldn't happen again."


Staff Sergeant Brona Hillock stalked through the jungle with her rifle held close, scanning the foilage for any signs of an ambush. The traps the sniper had set hadn't been too damaging on the whole, but it had been enough to break one of her private's arms, and between the need to transport the wounded back to base and the pair she had in the other armored car on the perimeter, Brona's squad had been reduced to four, counting herself. Flanking the Alversian on one side was Private Mashha, a balu grenadier, and on the other walked Corporal Joanne Sweeper, the lagomorph representing the squad's designated markswoman. The only one out in front was Private Koken, the rifle-vixen leading the rest of them as she followed the invisible scent-trail. Not that she needed much help: the smell of burned flesh and hair hung in the air, along with blood and vomit. The stench of warfare.

Koken halted, one hand coming up to stop the others as her armored tail curled. Right on the other side of this tree, she informed her fellows. Under Brona's direction, the four spread out, skulking around the edge of the clearing that the wounded sniper had stopped in until they could all see him. Brona almost felt sorry for the man when she set eyes on him, seeing how horribly he'd been burned along with the radiation sickness, but knowing that he'd shot General Hotaka hardened her heart. Though not enough to keep her from giving him one last chance.

"Freeze!" Brona stepped out of the underbrush at the same time as her fellows, surrounding the injured Necrian with their rifles leveled. "Drop the weapon! Get down on the ground, hands behind your head!"

Zyanlon Island
Quiet Cay Township...

When Auran spoke to her Syrana merely nodded, already having produced a bloodcloth to wipe the ichor from her blades. She didn't look at him or her own cleaning, constantly scanning the area for other potential hostiles with her ears perked high. The tall feline did, however, roll her eyes when the Alversian addressed her, albeit she didn't dignify the compliment with a response. She had already slid her swords back into their sheaths when Amelia finally said something worth responding to.

“You want to grab anything from these scumbags?”


“You should probably take this; I’m seeing two of everything right now.”

"Fair," Yukaze exhaled and crouched down, stripping a holster off one of the corpses. Strapping that to his thigh, the tod looked up at Auran. "Thanks for the save. And, uh, I guess I'll drive." Standing, the reporter went around to the truck's cabin and climbed in. Once the other three were inside and ready he drove up the street, maneuvering carefully around abandoned and burned-out vehicles as the sound of lancers and gunfire got closer and closer. Passing by a burning store, Yukaze glanced across at Auran.

"This is insanity, but it's still better than what I heard coming out of Fel'tethra," the orange tod said. "It seems like they're making a point to take prisoners here. Which probably doesn't mean anything good, but," he shrugged, "better than extrajudicial execution. What's your story, though? Haven't exactly seen a lot of Necrians take up arms against the uprisings."

Before long the truck pulled up at the end of a boulevard leading to a two-story strip mall. The complex had clearly seen more than its fair share of fighting, with all of its windows smashed and walls blackened by lancer fire, but the name of the large, central establishment was still legible: The Vixen's Den. Judging by the bodies piled in front of the building it seemed like a mob had formed with the intention of looting and burning it, only to be gunned down by whoever was still shooting from the club's darkened recesses. In the street, kneeling behind cars and crouched on balconies, dozens of Necrians wearing camouflage fatigues and carrying lancers were firing back. The partisans seemed to be getting the worst of it, but it was obvious that they heavily outnumbered the defenders inside. All it would take was the courage for them all to rush at once.
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
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Postby Necrisis » Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:00 am

SSF Necropolis
Command Chambers

As Packs One and Two charged the defenses, Fash turned to look at the countdown.
Still counting down. Just enough time.

The Hetaevan assault carriers were doing the heavy lifting here, even as their frigates and picket ships were annhilated, each one throwing troopers toward the planet or a ship.
One MAC had been torn apart under sustained fire, yet it still pinged 'active' on his tac-com, firing mass drivers and turbo lasers into the ships that now surrounded it. That meant the Ship Master - the Alpha - was still alive and kicking, along with a sizable infantry force no doubt.
Another one had charged for Blood Pact but the ship's surprising agility had gotten it out of the way, only for the MAC to not care and continue on towards the Alversian flag, Furious.
The capital killer weapons that skewered it and the following ship made Fash take note. He flagged them as secondary targets. Such readings meant that they likely had long cool times, but he wasn't going to take that chance. Best be rid of them now.

Pack One's lead Maaku had managed to take the least damage - even including an Alversian kill-shot through the main superstructure, nailing two reactors, but unable to slow it down.
It rammed straight into the dreadnought.
The ship's heavy mass - as well as its still firing batteries of mass drivers and ion cannons - had knocked Dawnlight out of position, deviating another ship from the same line to try and clear the vessel, that was even now still firing engines, pushing the dreadnought back and into Kor'Laesha's gravity well.

The last one had followed closely behind, hanging back, until it had seen its chosen prize.
It lurched forward into the Lady Gwendolyn, appearing from behind the debris that was the other frigates and picket ships.
Not quiet a surprise, but the armored cruiser seemed to have its own concerns, making a heading for the Necrian Defense Fleet, now in complete disarray.
Just as it flared retro-rockets again, a blast from Furious, detonated one of the engine blocks. The roiling inferno that then ripped apart other engine houses kicked the ship forward, careening into the Xiscapian cruiser. If it didn't crash into the ship, it wouldn't be able to correct its coarse away from just burning into atmosphere.

The two Necrian Basilisk Heavy Cruisers had remained at range, a near constant barrage of plasma torpedoes arcing away and into the enemy ships. Heavy lancers tore into the dark of space, flashes that moved to fast to dodge, tearing apart a defending destroyer with multiple sustained hits. The pair - Moon Curse and Dragon Herald - had angled flux shields starboard-fore, drifting slowly toward each other and bubbling the shields so that they maintained overlapping fields of fire and shielding.

Their Nightshade fighters and Wyrmwood bombers were deploying, along with small swarms of Wraith drones.
The striker attack would have been met with the enemy Wraiths, but more and more of them were turning back. They either careened into each other or dive-bombed themselves into previously allied ships, while others started dog-fighting each other. The five hundred or so that remained 'on duty' would be just enough to match the two super-capitals' deployed swarms.

Even as Wraith turned on Wraith, the NDF ships had fallen silent, before starting to open up on friendlies and each other.
Fash knew there had been whispers of NFP help, but he hadn't thought they would be able to coordinate this well. There was either more to them than he thought, or someone was pulling strings here that Fel'Tethra's militias didn't have.

It mattered little. The void-bombs had cleared new landing zones for the next stage of battle, but Fash needed those Veil ships dead. He couldn't wait for the friendly-fire to score a hit, he needed to make the opportunity himself.

He tagged a collection of ships near the back of the flotilla's formation, largely ignored for there small size and lack of attacking fire.

"Fleet Mistress Velit, target the Veil class Xiscapian ships and burn them down for me."

"At once, came the reply."

SSF Bharghest Siege Frigate
Fleet Mistress Velit Senndi

The young woman tapped the com closed and relayed her orders to the ten ships at her command.
"We only have one shot each before they realize the threat and start coming for us," she said calmly. "We all get two of three before they get ships on us. Remember, trust your Hetaevan gun crews. They know what they are doing."
She nodded to the pair of giants to the right of her command pit, one of whom gave her a confident smile.

Turning back to their task - along with other pairs across the artillery fleet - they used the ship-mounted cameras as well as a Hetaevan spotter standing in EV to relay other corrections.
It was perhaps a bit strange, if one were to watch the frigates - sixteen Necrian frigates, protected only by a handful of point defense lancers, and four relatively massive Hetaevan Seax-class frigates of similar design - shift slightly with small grav impulses and chemical rockets, imperceptible changes as the twenty ships floated loosely in formation.
Each Siege ship had one or two Hetaevans magged to the hull, with powerful electroculars. Forgoing the traditional firing solutions from sensors and other gear that was less than reliable in ECM fields, the Hetaevan spotters were masters of their art, something they called 'The Long Breath.'

Mistress Velit studied the tac-com with interest as quiet voices made friendly bets before falling quiet.
Then the Hetaevan gunner looked at Velit and nodded.
"Fire now, all fire," she said, keying the comm.

From the rear of the SIN armada came four flashes as magnetic drivers discharged nuclear-tipped tungsten shots across the gulf of space, aiming for the Veil frigates and their attendants.
Only seconds later they were followed by brilliant scarlet flashes, as fast-as-light heavy particle lances erupted from the nose of the Bharghests, outpacing the Hetaevan shots in the blink of the eye.

One blast took a drifting Homage hull and bored through it, dispersing harmlessly against shields and debris.
The other fifteen found their targets.
Though not as powerful as the Alversian capital-killers, the lancer artillery were uncomfortably accurate across such a gulf.

Then the four Hetaevan shots landed amid the Alversian and Xiscapian ships, massive kinetic damage igniting like a nuclear bomb before the tips discharged. EMP radiation and molten tungsten shrapnel spiraled through the ships, damaging shields, tearing hulls.

Mistress Velit didn't wait to hear back damage and contact reports. She nodded to the giant gunners. "Fire at will, focus down those Veils. Load team, prep second shot."

Already the Hetaevan Seaxs were firing again, leading fire on the Veils, even as the Bharghests started to target them and other ships nearby with better shots.

CSS Dawnlight Predator

The landing torpedo had ripped into some supply chamber.
Seigkerd held the screaming man's face in one hand as he turned to Njoll, who was cooing softly to the twelve-foot long Guurk she had been nursing for a few weeks now.
It's massive head and horns clacked with her helmet, a soft rumble building in its chest.
"You two about ready?" Seigkerd flexed his fingers and the man's skull collapsed like wet paper. "Because there's a dreadnought with our name on it."
"Oh," Njoll said in a sweet voice that made the other Heteavans crawling from the torpedo chuckle. "Yes, the Alpha is impatient. So impatient. But you know to wait for me to give the order. Yes, yes you do..."
She glanced up at her mate and he could feel her smile even through the helmets. "He's ready to kill for you. Bleed for you. Like me. Like them. He deserves to hear good voices before battle."

Seigkerd knew better than to contradict her and merely nodded. One of his packmates handed him his sword from where it had impaled a crewman to the wall.
Hefting it back into its sheath he nodded to the door. "Guurks first then, beloved."

Njoll turned back to the giant death lizard and cooed a singled word. "Feast."

With a snarl and a rush of dark scales, the beast vanished into the corridors of the ship.
Shaking his head, Seigkerd checked his HUD and pointed. "Bridge is this way. Take any officers alive if you can. Kill the rest."

XIS Undercut
Necropolis Ventral Hull

"Soft enough for you, bitch?"

As the antimatter bursts flared into the black ooze, it parted, but not with damage. The sludge twisted and writhed around the ship's attack, spilling out and around, pressing against the shield until it cracked.
It was almost seemed alive, how it kept shifting and moving, twisting the ship away so that the gun could no longer aim for the airlock.

There was a creaking sound and the ship groaned. The ooze was pressing itself into every seam, every bolt, with an intent that was troublingly intelligent.
Then it started to draw the ship inside, piling more and more sludge out of the wound and engulfing the Undercut.

"A cyst you are, an irritant. Futile your struggle, misguided your heroism."

The creaking grew louder even as the vessel was pulled against the broken airlock, guiding it so that its own hatch was matched to it.

"Let us see what pearl this sand has made."

There was silence for a moment before there was a scratching at the Undercut[i/]'s hatch, that grew louder and more insistent.

Outside, the black ooze, little rivers of silvery light coursing through it, searched the ship for an electronics panel, pulling and squeezing into every gap, thousands of fingers forming at the hatch door, scrabbling at the edges, worming their way inside.

Far away, the miner had found itself entangled in a similar mass, and was slowly being pulled back toward the Xiscapian ship.

Venom Flight

Taravon tracked the XB-99, lead firing to force an evasive maneuver then stitched paired lancer burns across it, tearing it apart.
He had lost track of his wingmates in the furious storm of Wraiths, but they and his squadron were fairing well. With so many drone fighters on their side, he had only lost one fighter to a graze, sending the Nightshade back to [i]Night Amber
, damaged but alive.
The same Basilisk Heavy Cruiser that he was now shooting down bombers for.

The mighty shields flared almost constantly under the barrage of missiles and heavy ordnance. It's own drone screen was working overtime as raw point defense, supporting the defensive network of powerful but short-ranged lancers. The longer ones were tracing beams across space, ripping enemies from the sky, but just as many burned into empty space as the pilots juked and dove away.

Only one bomber left.
Taravon sighted it down, firing a few tracing rounds to gauge response time and reflex.
Night Amber loomed below them, his one-way armored canopy automatically dimming as the super-cap's shields flared again against a salvo of missiles.
He had played with them long enough, time for the kill.

He spun his fighter down and behind the XB-99, releasing a plasma mote, guiding it manually along projected magnetic rails to avoid a sensor lock - and warning.

But the fighter jerked, releasing its payload before he could get the shot clean, and the plasam torpedo passed below the fighter and above the missile.
Taravon snarled and canceled the shot, letting it dissipate in a haze of ionized gasses, even as he changed speed and trajectory to keep up with the XB.

"This is Night Amber, copy all signs. Night Amber has lost shields and is pulling back to re-up. Please maintain your defensive lines."

Taravon grinned a little, even as he started to tangle with the XB's pilot in the most deadly dance - beside his wife's waltz.
Amber had always been unerringly calm and polite at all time, a bit of a quirk for a warship's Ship Mind, who were usually dour and direct. But the nearly cheerful communication did what Amber always set out to do - put her crew at ease.

As the NIghtshade and XB whirled up and away from the super-capital, the heavy cruiser started to float back, its shield array flickering as it tried to reestablish a connection across the smooth skin. Two Hetaevan ships moved to cover it, adopted lancer batteries opening up with a unique, unstable haze to the beams.
Nothing more than a cosmetic quirk, really, but their coverage did manage to head off another few bombers.

Not that Taravon could pay attention to his home-ship. The XB-99 was much faster without the extra mass, but it still only matched the Nightshade in maneuvers.
But the pilot was talented. It wove and dove with the best of Taravon's squadron.
Even so, it was only one fighter, and as a trio of Wraiths pulled into Taravon's wings, they started to herd the ship into his firing line.
With each second, misses became near hits, and near hits rocked the XB's shields.

Scarlet Serpent
Command Chamber

Jyll could only watch as the Alversian and Xiscapian ships turned their guns on her tiny fleet. Scarlet hadn't contacted the bridge yet - there was no way the Ship Mind had been unaware of what was going on - and that worried her. Had the goon got to her before all this? Or worse... was her own Ship Mind against her?
The loyalty matricides that made up a Ship Mind - the mixing of machine and mindful organic - was difficult to guess, but no. No, Scarlet was not only her Ship Mind, but her friend.

"Right," Kathres said, securing her choke hold on Jyll. "Get these two tied up. Khalak? Raise the team heading for the Ship Mind."

"No need." There was a red flash from the tac-com and Scarlet - the image of young Necrian woman, dressed in nothing but shimmering code - appeared before them. "They are here with me. Their bodies at least. You will stand down, Security Officer, before you make any of this worse."
Kathres holstered her lancer and roughly shoved Jyll over the tac-com, pulling her hands behind her. "I have you Mistress, Scarlet. There's nothing you would dare do that could endanger her. You will comply with our orders, like the good slave you are, and you might even survive to become Lord Tavin's pet."
Scarlet grimaced. "I'd rather see myself burned to ash than listen to you. And Jyll would say the same."
"So you speak for your Mistress now?"
"Damn you, Kathres," Jyll snarled, bucking back against the other woman, trying to knock her free.
The Security Officer, however, only stumbled a little before cocking her fist and sent Jyll flying across the table.
Stalking around it, Kathres swiped at Scarlet, sending her imaging flickering for a moment. "You have a lot of fight in you, Ship Mistress. I can admire that. It's a lot more than most other Masters I've seen or served for. But in the end-" she grabbed Jyll's uniform collar and hauled her to her feet, dark blood spilling down her face. "In the end, your bravado is just going to get all you loyal crew killed for nothing."

Scarlet suddenly screamed, her image flickering out of existence.
Jyll started to struggle but Kathres merely punched her across the face again, sending her sprawling to the deck.
"Your Scarlet is all sorts of trouble," Kathres said, grabbing Jyll's boots and pulling her under her, kneeling on her chest, started to strangle her. "So I'm having a team perform a sort of lobotomy. By they time they are done, this ship will vent the rest of your loyal traitors to space and we will break the Serpent across the bows of that ridiculous light cruiser out there. And when the rest of the fleet rises from the Cascade, within your defensive line, that has wasted all its big guns on Heteavan honor-fools, there will be a true fleet. A real Necrian fleet that will burn you all from space."
Jyll gasped for air. Her vision swam, even as her mind calculated what Kathres had given up.
The charge had been a distraction. A forcing of the hand. Fash was going to land a Necrian fleet directly on top of the defenders and tear them apart at close range, outnumbering them two or three to one, while they scrambled back into position. Had the Alversians already used all their main guns? She wasn't sure.
Her lungs burned, her vision drained of color.
She tried to move, but the woman on top of her was fit, stronger than her without Jyll's hands cuffed.
Far away, she heard Byeol call out to her, only to be met with a meaty crunch.

Then Kathres was hauled off her, and Jyll dragged in a ragged breath, coughing. Looking up she saw her comms officer, lancer still in hand, burned blood from Apprentice Finn still on his hand, standing over her.

"You a fur-fucker now too?" Kathres bit out, bleeding from a cut on her lip.
Khalak shook his head. "We fight for Necrisis. Not Tavin's mad dreams. It is wrong to abuse a subdued captive."
"I-I'm not..." Jyll coughed, forcing herself to her knees. "All that... subdued..."
Khalak glanced at her with the ghost of a smile. "You truly don't know when to give up." He turned back to Kathres. "Enough. We have the bridge, and judging by the approach of the Lady, our game was called early. Now is the time to edge out the enemy, not fight ourselves."

There was an uncomfortable stillness, and Jyll checked on Byeol.
One of Kathres' men had struck her across the face. Her muzzle was bleeding badly, a gouge taken from her top lip. She had been shoved back into her stations chair and was being tied to it, her head lolling to the side.

Outside, disarray among the NDF had fallen into utter chaos.
Sublimation and Agony had stopped firing into the SIN fleet and were slowly turning about, but without a clear intention. Despite several tries, no one could hail any of the NDF ships. The two smaller cruisers had stopped for a moment, but then resumed firing into the SIN fleet, with drop ships deploying back toward Scarlet.
The Wraiths - all linked to the Serpent for the jaunt-attack operation - were drifting now, with only a handful returning control to their home ships.

One faint ping came from the dropships, their transponders changing from Xiscapian to Defense fleet again and again, trying to signal they were friendlies.

The Homage frigates were firing at each other, at the engaging Alversian ships, and the Veil-frigates.
One of the Necrian frigates, forgoing subtly all together as the Alversians opened fire, shunted all power to shields and engines, aiming to ram one of the interdiction frigates with max speed.

Madano Island

"Drop the weapon! Get down on the ground, hands behind your head!"

Morid leaned heavily against the downed tree, vomit and blood coating the ground and his shirt.
He heard the words, faintly, and turned to look at the Xiscapian soldier, without actually seeing her. His eyes were sunken and he was sweating badly.
It took him a moment, long enough to give Brona a reason to tighten her trigger finger, but then his hands raised slowly, unsteadily.

He fell forward into the dirt and tree litter, vision swimming.

There was a low howling sound in his head, a rushing feeling in his arm and legs and gut.
Was this death?
He'd never thought much about Her Embrace, but he always assumed it wouldn't be this cold.
He started to shiver, unable to move or make more than a gurgling sound.
The radiation from the shot that had downed the kitsune Major was a powerful does, dangerous if untreated.
Morid had taken almost a dozen times that amount, and a part of him knew he likely didn't have long for this world.

As the soldiers closed in, steadily and cautious for more traps, Morid managed a few words, barely above a whisper.
"P-please...last... rites?"

Zyanlon Island
Quiet Cay Township

“Cheers for that; whichever one is real…”

Auran - already in the process of stripping a shirt and holster from one of the NFP - nodded. "Honor demanded it at the very least. And I got to kill some of these militia rejects. Good day all around."

Climbing into the passenger seat next to the kitsune reporter, Auran checked his new lancer rifle while keeping an eye on the skyline.
He couldn't see the fleets up there, probably boarding the twilight side anyway. But from what he had heard, it wouldn't be too long before they were landing troops.
He wondered, idly, what they would do when they got stuck here.
The SIN was much more lenient towards aliens now, a more open society all together. But then why were they working with these terrorists and rapists? Would he be able to open fire on SIN soldiers like he had NFP?
He guessed he would find out sooner rather than later.

"What's your story, though? Haven't exactly seen a lot of Necrians take up arms against the uprisings."

Auran only spared the tod a glance before turning his eyes back to buildings.
"It's a bit less than complicated." He glanced at the reporter again. He had just saved them. "I'm ex-SAS - the Imperium's infantry corps. We fought a long and hard war and in the end I couldn't stomach it any more. After we won, I helped out a bit then handed in my commission and headed out here for early retire. There's a way you conduct yourself as a Necrian in the Solarium's Armed Services. These NFP fucks don't follow that. If nothing else, they are a disgrace to my People. At most, there's a war on and I'm not letting soldiers hurt civilians. It's not the way." He glanced back at Syrana. "Though... not sure how civilian some of you are."

As the truck pulled up towards the Vixen's Den, Auran waved the others down.
"Keep low. I'm Necrian at least, but it won't take them long to figure out we aren't friendly."

Auran ran his eyes over the stand off.
Whoever was defending the Den needed to be broken out. There were several cars on the street, most being used as cover for the NFP, and a dozen or so on balconies above in what looked like an apartment building.
But Auran look up to the roof and, after studying it for a moment, found what he was looking for.
The glint of a sniper and spotter.

"Alright," he said, turning back to his companions. "They've got the Den's holdouts pinned down. I say we gun the truck into their position while making a roll and dash for the Den. I picked up an AM grenade from that one who had you by the throat. The anti-matter pin is going to do a number on this truck so we better be in cover on the other side of the road when that goes off. We get into the Den and join up with some more defenders."
He glanced over the tod in his press vest and the Alversian woman with her bandage head. "You two good to move? Fight? Either?"
Sol Imperi Necrosa Factbook

"You know you're in a shitty situation when your better option is 'go to war with the KEX.'" ~ Xiscapia

"Necrian diplomatic missives are often delivered by sniper rifle."~ NS

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Founded: Apr 26, 2007

Postby Alversia » Fri Jul 17, 2020 9:47 am

APS Furious, Task Force N

The spinal guns did as intended; two of the cruisers destroyed and another badly damaged. Even so, she winced as the damaged cruiser careened into the Cruorian dreadnought and she knew there was nothing more she could do for them. It would be up to the dreadnought crew to either flight or retreat from their own vessel. The battle elsewhere had to be her priority now.

“Captain, enemy vessel incoming.” One of the sensor officers reported from around the tactical view.

The same MAC incoming was being pounded now by the heavy guns and missiles of the Furious as it bore down, having at one point been heading for the Blood Pact before it had evaded.

“Take evasive action,” O’Neill ordered.

At once the Furious began to move, using its agility to full effect. The Hetaevan were not the first species the Alversian had encountered who liked to ram and to board, so Alversian ships had been designed to evade such attacks, such that the battlecruiser moved like a spring lamb, dropping down to avoid the ramming ship while simultaneously unloading every short and medium range weapon available into the armoured vessel. Additional tractor beams designed for just this purpose now shoved against that same ship, giving it no chance to turn or correct its course towards the battlecruiser.

O’Neill could protect the Furious but now Callaghan had wider concerns.

“My regards to Captain Eithagar, he is to protect the support ships by any means within his disposal.”

“Yes, Admiral.”

Callaghan clasped her hands behind her backs and forced herself to watch as the Tiptree was torn in two by enemy fire, debris scattering in every direction as escape pods launched in stealth mode amongst the shattered hull and vanishing from view and sensor alike. Two corvettes had already been destroyed from the piquet and the others were taking damage. It was they who were closest to the enemy fleet and so it was they who were taking the brunt of the punishment. She longed to call them back, to defend the bigger elements of the fleet but the longer they bought, the more civilians could escape.

“Ma’am! Energy spike amongst the enemy fleet!”

That was manifested before her, alarms ringing as she saw the build up of energy before it lashed out towards the support ships, the Veils and the others.

Furious, Moorshire, target those frigates, all batteries!” She commanded sharply.

At once, the rail guns of the battle cruiser and one of the heavy cruisers turned on the frigates, launching rounds of heavy metal at near the speed of sound with the power to devastate planets in a sustained bombardment, firing up to a dozen rounds a minute into their midst.

Meanwhile, the Victory-Class Heavy Cruiser Spartiate had moved towards the frigates, her own heavy guns blazing away as it closed with the NFP Frigates firing on their former allies. Those that signalled friendly were ignored, those that did not faced the full fury of an Alversian battle-line warship that was holding nothing back. Disruptor beams crossed the gap between them to cut through the hulls of the frigates and torpedoes launched in their direction. The Alversian ship moved in front of the frigates like a protective mother, daring the much smaller frigates to face her.

Arc Squadron, Kor’laesha Orbit

Though their primary role was done, Akio had work to do. It just seemed that the Necrians had no intention of letting him do it.

First lesson of combat school; a destroyed fighter contributes precisely fuck all to the battle.

Ever since he had realised his payload, what was left of Arc Squadron had been engaged less in combat and more in a desperate scramble for survival. The Escan’s sensors were alive with alarms and warnings; letting him know that there were sensors targeting his craft near constantly and he was having to roll and throw his XB-99 in every direction to try and keep just an inch ahead of his pursuers.

The rest of Arc Squadron were trying the same but one by one they were being picked off. Of course, they were giving as good as they got even as a Wraith passed in front of Akio’s target. He squeezed the trigger on instinct and was rewarded with the sight of his foe exploding right in front of him; the debris scattering as he burst through the cloud. There was no time to celebrate the victory though as the drone that had been covering his three o’clock erupted into flames.

“Close up!” Tanner ordered over the comms, “Guard on my flank! Boulder and Hammer moving in!”

The jinking and dodging and surviving had done its purpose. Far beneath them, visible only to his sensors, a wave of drones was bearing down on the unshielded Heavy Cruiser, beams of energy lashing in every direction as they knocked out drone and missile alike while their shields flared and blazed from the defensive fire of the ships now protecting the vulnerable capital. These were only the vanguard however, the sacrificial screen to tank the worst of the incoming flak while behind them came the punch. Two squadrons of XH-137s were following close behind, each loaded down with a Long Lance anti-matter torpedo, a compact ship-killer designed for just such a purpose.

Arc had done their job, keeping the defending squadrons occupied and the drones had helped to nullify some of the flak. Now the Heavy Fighters could do what they needed to do.

X Corps Headquarters
Madano Island, Kor'laesha

”Gotta be an easier way...get my head in an alvie's lap...”

“None quite so memorable,” Keaton gave him a warm smile as she continued to stroke along his muzzle, keeping his head firmly in her lap, trying to ignore how he trembled beneath her fingers, “Kitsune will go to such extremes these days.”

At that point, Baxtor returned with the medics who swiftly pushed Keaton out of the way. The General did as commanded, standing aside to let the professionals lift him onto a stretcher, the Aretian scolding him all the while. Keaton watched him go, biting her lip in concern before turning back to Baxtor, who was in company with a Necrian in Xiscapan power armour.

“Major General Nerelith,” Keaton bowed her head and winced at the news. Radiation poisoning wasn’t quite the death sentence it had once been but it was a nasty experience for anyone. Her eyes kept going to the door where they had taken the tod.

“I’m glad, General,” Baxtor took over, rubbing her hands together, “I do so dislike being the duck at a target range. As we informed General Hotaka, we’re deploying forces as we speak. All unit commanders have been briefed and I trust them to carry out the tasks assigned to them. What is the status of the orbital battle?”

Zyanlon Island
Quiet Cay Township

While Auran spoke, in the backseat the Alversian had her head tended to by the feline quickly and roughly, at least if her companion’s wincing and scowling were anything to go by. Once she was bandaged up, the woman couldn’t help but snort at his words; “No true Danaversian eh? These aren’t your people and all that?” She said nothing more but took to looking out the window, keeping an eye out for any possible threat. When they reached the vixen’s den and saw the situation, the pilot looked somewhat surprised and even a little offended.

“I can move, yeah,” She said somewhat sharply, “I can shoot as well if need be. Is your plan seriously to kamikaze the only working truck we have into them and then make a break for the same place they’re currently sieged down in?” She looked to the kitsune and in particular Syrana, “Is this something you merc types do often then?”
Last edited by Alversia on Tue Aug 04, 2020 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Alversian FT Factbook

"Things are only impossible until they're not!"
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Democratic Socialists

Postby Xiscapia » Tue Jul 21, 2020 12:06 am

XIS Undercut, Cockpit...

"Enough of this," Eisuke snarled and pulled on the control stick, wrenching the scout ship around and straining against the substance worming its way across the outer hull. The structure was sealed tight, of course, but he had no desire to stay and see if the stuff could find a way through. "We're aborting. Merva! Now!"

Even as he engaged the Jaunt drive, his partner triggered the bomb inside of the miner. Their reactions were pinpoint, the rift opening around the Undercut and tearing it free from the Necropolis to vanish into quantum reality just before the wave of ionic energy washed over the supercapital. A weapon of that power even a few dozen meters inside a conventional warship would have been crippling, but as the Undercut reappeared on the far edge of the system under Eisuke's steady hand he knew that the mission had been a failure. His only consolation was that the data they had gathered was valuable even if it did nothing to help anyone at the moment. Exhaling, the tod glanced at Merva before turning to the instruments.

"Signal the fleet. Takao-Keisuke Maneuver ineffective. Necropolis appears to be a bio-mechanoid hybrid of unknown nature. I'm conducting a deep scan of the Undercut now, whatever that stuff was, we don't want to bring any home with us. Keep an eye on the scopes in case somebody decided to follow us."

XIS Blood Pact, Bridge...

Hirata sighed as the update flashed across his neural uplink. His gambit in trying to disable the Necropolis hadn't paid off, and it seemed the enemy's plan was in motion. It was all he could not to think about Jyll, about whether she was okay, or if she was even still alive. If he let it distract him then he would lose any chance of rescuing her command, and he wasn't foolish enough to believe that the mutiny wasn't calculated -the question was if it was by her or someone else. Either option could mean the worst, so he ignored it. Too many people were counting on him to keep a clear head.

Missile cruisers are to provide faster-than-light covering fire for our forward escorts and small craft, he ordered. Our forward escorts and small craft will withdraw under that covering fire. It had been a costly failure for the fighters and attack ships of AXIS. One of Hirata's destroyers had been shredded by the brunt of enemy fire and another had been sent drifting backwards to burn up in Kor'laesha's atmosphere, while a third had been taken under tow by one of the larger Scimitar corvettes. At least two of the Alversian ships had been destroyed as well, to say nothing of the hundreds of Xiscapian and Cruorian small craft that had gone dark on the tactical map.

Which wasn't to say it had been completely fruitless. The bombing runs would have done some damage, and the attack had succeeded in drawing out the bulk of the enemy's own drones and small craft as well as halting their forward progress. Even as he watched waves of munitions from his fleet's missile cruisers disappeared at the edge of the FTLi field and warped in among the largest concentrations of SIN small craft, anti-matter detonations, electronic warfare arrays, and clusters of homing missiles and mines tearing into them as the AXIS ships began to turn about. They wouldn't be able to jump directly back to his fleet due to the FTLi field encompassing it, and he didn't dare drop it for their return least the enemy predict it and pop up right on top of him, so the attackers would instead scatter and use their drives to put large amounts of distance between themselves and the enemy. Only then would they return to their motherships.

Of course, some of those craft were having problems of their own. The Dawnlight Predator was being bodily forced back by the dying hulk of one of the assault carriers, one of the Cruorian battleships pounding away at the burning superstructure to no apparent effect. Finally it reached out with tractor beams, assisted by a quartet of Hel frigates to arrest the carrier's forward momentum as they tried to pry it away from the wounded dreadnought. The Dawnlight Predator itself was fighting back, engines flaring as it attempted to wrest itself free from the rammer or at least change their trajectory away from orbit. If that could be accomplished, saving the dreadnought from the boarders infesting it would be a whole other task.

Nearby, the Lady Gwendolyn passed "under" the other assault carrier as it attempted to crash itself into the Furious only to be diverted on a wide course that took the enemy ship back towards the planet, taking fire all the while. Whether by accident or by design it hurled itself onto a direct course for the armored cruiser, shedding wreckage and trailing fire while the blocky battlewagon lined itself up. The chances of the Lady Gwendolyn evading were rendered moot by the fact that it had lashed itself to the Scarlet Serpent; any attempt to get out of the way would have left the cruiser helpless to be rammed. Instead it held firm, shields giving off a dazzling display as the ruined prow of the carrier disintegrated on contact with them, meter after meter of the ship being destroyed until finally the barrier shields failed. Hetaevan construction was strong, but the ship had been gutted by fire from the Alversian ships, and when the hulls met it simply collapsed against the untouched plating of the Lady Gwendolyn. Entire decks crumpled and tore themselves apart before a gravitic burst from its gravity shields threw the half-destroyed ship back, neither hooks nor boarders finding anywhere for purchase on its hull.

It seemed at least unharmed enough to signal to the drop ships dispatched to the Scarlet Serpent to go ahead.

Justicar Lead...

Plunging his Shuriken down into the thick of combat again, Mitse had grown used to the feeling of his snarl frozen on his face. The dogfights had been as rough as he'd ever seen them, blackening much of his ship with lancer burns, and even though Justicar Squadron had dished out more than its fair share of damage it wasn't nearly enough. There were simply too many Wraiths mixed with and covering for the Necrian pilots, enough that fighting just to keep his unit alive had become all-consuming. It was a battle that Mitse was losing: most of Justicar was gone, leaving only himself, Charaan, and one of the vixens left. So when the recall order came, it was far too late for his tastes.

Justicar, form up, he ordered, pushing the throttle forward to jet clear of one of the larger Wraith formations. The missile fire from the fleet wrecking havoc behind him gave what was left of his squadron enough breathing room to regroup and accelerate for one of the enemy heavy cruisers. It was being subjected to runs by Alversian strike craft, both the heavy fighters and purpose-made bombers quickly coming under harassment by Wraiths and Necrian fighters. Jamming his control yoke in, Mitse blew one of the trailing Wraiths away with twin streams of anti-protons before switching to the fighter ahead of it, a pair of missiles streaking out from ordinance bays to home in on the interceptor. One of his wingmates was vaporized by an energy blast from the cruiser, and Mitse signaled Arc Squadron.

Arc, Justicar Lead, we'll cover your withdrawal for as long as we can!

ICES Zodiark, Bridge...

Evasive maneuvers! Captain Holt hardly needed to give that order to her helmsman as the Veil inhibitor frigate Zodiark was already random-walking under the protection of the Empire Song, but it let her feel like she had some control over the situation. The canine woman might have been mistress and commander of the little frigate and all one hundred souls aboard, but there were now dozens of enemy ships gunning for it and the main reason it hadn't been destroyed lay in the cover of the Empire Song and now the Spartiate. The sister ship of the Zodiark, the Yoshika, was in similar straits where it was huddled among the protective screen of the Blood Pact.
Yet Holt could see where the point-defenses were starting to wear thin against the barrage.

The Zodiark shifted to one side, barely avoiding a particle beam that would have hit it dead-on otherwise, and in its illumination Holt saw the faces of her command staff with abrupt clarity. Every last one of them, all customs officers, were clearly terrified and in way over their heads, but they were still calm and sticking to their training. Holt had always known that a day like this might come, and she was relieved to see that she'd drilled a crew who wouldn't crack under pressure. Never mind that they were inhabiting a tin can of a starship that was nothing more than an upgraded Dusky destroyer of the kind used to catch smugglers, and that so much was riding on so few. They were doing their jobs, and they were doing their duty.

She had just looked back when an explosion buffeted the Zodiark, and she found herself hanging on to her command chair as the deck heaved beneath her. One of the Hetaevan rounds had come far too close for comfort, and it was only when the ship stopped rumbling that its shields were lit up by another particle beam. Shields down, announced the instruments officer, and at the same time the shadow of the Spartiate fell across them. It was almost enough to make Holt miss the contact that was one of the Homage frigates, I.F.F. gone from friendly green to hostile red, throwing caution into the wind and speeding towards them. The Zodiark was small and fast, but the Homage was a similarly swift and agile design, and it skimmed right underneath the Alversian cruiser and whipped around into the Zodiark.

Incoming- Holt was nearly thrown off her feet as the frigate collided with her own, the two ships locking together as they went tumbling end over end. The Zodiark shuddered once, then twice, but still remained under her own power even as the smell of smoke curled into the captain's nose. Stabalizing, the tod at the helm fought with the controls, righting the dented ship that now had another, slightly larger frigate wedged into it. Thinking to strap in to her command chair but figuring it useless now, Holt scanned over the damage reports that scrolled through her mind. Doppler Compensator was fried, reducing her ship's maneuverability, the ion-flux stabilizer had blown and electrocuted 17 crew members, and the power interface unit had overloaded and exploded in its bay.
But they still had power, engines, and life support, and most importantly, the inhibitor field was still online.

APS Spartiate, this is ICES Zodiark, requesting assistance with collision extraction. Medevac also required, count 17 casualties.

CSS Dawnlight Predator, Interior...

Before the boarders could proceed far into the ship's corridors they all heard the telltale howl of atmosphere being blown out into space before things went completely silent. They lifted weightlessly from the deck as the lights went out, plunging them all into total darkness with neither oxygen or gravity outside. There was, however, still enough tactile sensation for them all to feel the vibrations through the deck plating and bulkheads even within their armor, though no sort of night vision would help them see through the smoke that filled the vacuum without any fire. Enough chunks of scaly meat bumped into them all for the Hetaevans to figure out that their beast had met a sticky end somewhere close by.
In the silent darkness, something crawled.

Madano Island
X Corps Headquarters...

"P-please...last... rites?"

"Sorry," Koken raised her rifle, barrel centered on the sniper's head. "But this is the best you're gonna get."

"Belay that," Brona raised a hand. "We were ordered to take him alive if we could. He's still alive. For now. Cuff him," she nodded, and with the rest still covering her Mashha knelt down and fastened her manacles around Morid's wrists. "It's your lucky day," the Alversian told him as Mashha patted him down for other weapons or pieces of equipment. "You don't die yet. Probably."

Hoisting the Necrian up to carry him over one shoulder, Brona called for the remaining FAR to come pick them up. "Hotel, Romeo-1. Charlie-1 has been neutralized."


“I’m glad, General. I do so dislike being the duck at a target range."

"Then you will be pleased to hear that my forces have just apprehended the sniper," Nerelith nodded to Baxtor. "And security is being tightened. If more show up then our own sharpshooters are now in place. Not that I expect the situation to improve, to be perfectly honest. But it is a blessing that he didn't get the chance to fire another shot."

"As we informed General Hotaka, we’re deploying forces as we speak. All unit commanders have been briefed and I trust them to carry out the tasks assigned to them. What is the status of the orbital battle?”

"Yes, operations seem to be proceeding apace. As for the space battle, our fleet has suffered casualties but they have brought the enemy to a halt. I pray it remains that way for some hours yet. We need all the time we can get," the Necrian's lips pursed. "General Keaton, I am aware that this may be too much to ask, but may I speak to you in private? I am unarmed," she indicated her empty holster. "I would prefer not to have anyone else be party to what I will say, but I won't order General Baxtor away just to say it."

Zyanlon Island
Quiet Cay Township...

“No true Danaversian eh? These aren’t your people and all that?”

It was Yukaze who shot Amelia a glare when she spoke. "And it definitely wasn't Alversians who invaded Dela or massacred Tolfarans, was it?" the tod shook his head at her. "Not helpful, considering he just saved our lives." Turning back, he just nodded to Auran, seeming to mull over what the man had said. Syrana didn't seem like she was paying any attention to the conversation, her rifle resting on a box with its barrel pointed out the back of the truck.

"You two good to move? Fight? Either?"

"I can handle myself," Yukaze told him. "I didn't come here to shoot anyone, but I will defend myself."

"Is your plan seriously to kamikaze the only working truck we have into them and then make a break for the same place they’re currently sieged down in? Is this something you merc types do often then?”

"You are correct in that we will want to keep this vehicle operational, but Auran has the right idea," Syrana said. She wasn't looking at any of them as she spoke, instead busying herself with gathering plastic containers and jerrycans from the truck's bed. "There are a pair of commercial buildings at the street's end near the Vixen's Den. They are uninhabited. If we can set fire to them, the smoke will cover our attempt to exfiltrate our allies from their current position," the alumina looked up at Auran, holding a jug of gasoline. "You should easily be able to make it to one structure. They will assume you are one of them. I will burn the other structure. When enough smoke has been generated, it will be your job to bring the truck around to the back of the Vixen's Den," she addressed Amelia. "With Valoria's blessing you may drive better than you flew. You should also keep hold of that grenade," she looked back to Auran. "That is what is called a 'trump card.'"

"And what should I do?" Yukaze asked.

"Sit there and look pretty," Syrana said, and rolled out the back of the truck with a gallon of fuel in each hand. She was gone before anyone could mount any objections.
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
The Kitsune Empire of Xiscapia's FT Factbook (V2.5)
R.I.P. Shal - 1/17/10

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Founded: Jul 26, 2010

Postby Necrisis » Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:57 pm

Kor'Laesha System
Outer Terminus

"Your bones are gristle, my blood your tomb. Rest now, your doom is manife-aaaAAHH!"

As the Undercut returned to real space, fragments of the black ooze fell away, drifting off of the ship as its shields restored, piggy-backed through the jaunt.
Now, though, it was lifeless, inert.

Still, those final words seemed to echo around them, along with the scream.

On the ventral side of the kilometers long super-dread, a small spark of energy flared and died, seemingly effecting nothing.

Across the SIN fleet however, Ship Minds severed their battle-meld connections to the flag ship, screams cutting off communications, throwing coordination into the wind.
The Hetaevan ships pressed the advance in lieu of direction, covering lagging allies as SIN ships fell out of position, though only for a few moments.
Only the most skilled tacticians and strategists would even notice the lapse, and - in the chaos of battle - perhaps not even then.

Command Chamber

Fash glowered up at the cluster of glossy black eyes, staring at him, unblinking, from above the Tactical Command table. "Saherkhaern?"

The whole room had felt it. A flickering to the lights, a groan in the walls.

The Tomb-Ship was creepy at the best of times. Some strange sounds, crewmen sleep walking, linked-dream-events, frequent nightmares.
The constant feeling of being watched.
Not to mention the Embalmed who tended to routine maintenance, or the Nhrgul who performed their own strange duties.
But ship was still home. Those same things that put an Apprentice or Cadet on edge were the comforts of the older, veteran spacers.

But none of them had seen or felt something like that before.

Rilaena had stood from her throne and walked over to the Tac-Com, hand trailing along the wall of the alcove where she had been sat, idly losing a game of khazet against herself.
"Saherkhaern? Are you alright?"

There was silence.

"Status on all ships," Fash demanded, pulling up readouts already on the keystone ships - Moon Curse, Night Amber and Dragon Herald, the three heavy cruisers in the armada of mostly Hetaevan heavies - sans a few SIN picket lines and support ships.
"And get me one of those Bloody Templars. Where is Saherkhaern?"

"I am here, Fash." The familiar rumbling, hissing groan of the Ship Mind resounded from the room. "There was a complication. It has been attended to."

"Where the void-?" Fash snarled. "What complication?"

"Intruders. They cut into my skin, set an ion bomb to burrow, like a parasite, into my bones. They were evicted. Their bomb... irritated me. But all is well now."

"Every Ship Mind in the fleet has broken Web," one of the tactical officers shouted out. "Should we re-link?"

Fash swore darkly as Rilaena strode over. "I can re-establish the link," she said, already pulling her hair into a battle knot.
"No, wait for the second wave."
"But the inhibitor is still up," Rilaena said, gesturing to the faint blue-purple shimmer represented on the Tac-Com. "It's obscuring more than what we planned for."

Indeed, the void bombs had cleared large swaths of area, big enough to jump in the fleets, yet the inhibitor fields cut through good chunks of them, reducing the clearings by almost half.

"But not what we need." Fash waved his hand over the holographic field. "Ready the Adepts, but wait until the rest of the fleets arrive. We will have to press the attack. Sahrkhaern? Is the Cascade Lance ready?"

"No. The shock to my systems disturbed the charge. I have begun reaping the batteries to regain the energy needed."

"Belay that. We don't need super-weapons to win this day. AXIS might think we will pry victory from cold dead hands, but I plan to rip it from their still beating hearts."

Fash cleared the Tac-Com and readied new orders.

Venom Flight

Taravon heard the blip of a downed wing-Wraith and reacted on reflex. Flux shields fell behind him, double layered and he reversed grav-thrust, sending him whirling backwards.
The missiles detonated on the double layer, barely rocking the fighter but dropping them to almost zero percent.
It was only a moment, the flare of the missiles blinding visuals of the enemy pilot long enough for Taravon's Nightshade to soar behind it. Shields evened out again, lancers already tracking across the Shuriken's shields.

Then they juked and Taravon followed. The chase was on anew, even though he winced a little when his com exploded in a rush of static, sounding vaguely like a scream, causing one shot to go wild.

Space was filled with streaks of red and white, usually ending in a flicker of plasma or torn ship, spinning wildly out of control.

Closer to Night Amber, her shields still flickering, flux sails raising high above the skin of the ship to better connect to the others, Hemlock heavy fighters deployed from the hangers.
Equipped with five heavy lancers each, with powerful tracking equipment, the squadrons tore into the screening fighters, leaving the heavy cruiser clear to focus on point-defense.
As the Alversian bombers and fighters clawed their way in, ship losses rising, one bomber broke away from the rest, followed by an XB and Shuriken.

As a Hemlock and its Wraiths diverted to follow up on them, lancers striking out, glancing shields, tracking spins and feints, the Shuriken peeled off, trying to flank them, only to run straight into a fresh cloud of Wraiths.
The Alversian fighter moved to shield the bomber, taking a full salvo of the Hemlock's five lancers, ripping apart, shattering on the shields of the assault craft as it dove through the debris.

Long Lances were launched - some too far to be more than a distraction, others too late, burning up under a firestorm of lancer cannons along with its bomber. One or two almost made it, destroyed by focused point defense and a Talon of Hetaevan fighters that dropped in to scatter the XH squadrons.

But the break away bomber spun and looped, taking a strike to shields then to hull, but surviving the winging shots with only a streak of smoke and flash of fire.

Then the Long Lance fired and the XH bomber spun away, firing into the Hemlock, downing its shields before Wraiths chased it away.
The Hemlock, damaged, bleeding plasma, pushed itself forward, tracking the Long Lance too late.

The Lance missile impacted the hanger bay, flaring bright blue and silver.

Night Amber faltered, then a second explosion quaked through the belly, blue flames ripping through the ship, sending it twisting back.
Damaged, out of the fight, but not yet destroyed, the massive heavy cruiser's engines spun to zero. Plasma fires burned along the ventral sides of the ship, listing to one side as another group of Hetaevan ships moved to cover it.

"Don't worry," Night Amber's voice said, weak over Taravon's com. "Everything is magnificent. Give them hell ladies and -..."
Static filled the air for a moment before falling silent.
Taravon felt his jaw set, and he triggered the coms.
"Venom Flight. Revenge for our Lady Amber."
"Clad in naught but Night, Brother."
"We fear no death for the Goddess-"
"-Comes for us!"

And with that, Taravon renewed his chase against the Shuriken.

Dawnlight Predator

As the gravity clicked off and air vented, the twelve packmates didn't miss a beat. Magnetic boots clamped them back to the floor, armor already sealed. As blackness covered them, helmets shimmered into the night vision spectrum, heat sensors already powering up and motion detectors reaching out into the darkness.

Njol swore quietly as a chunk of the beast floated by. "World Mother's tits... poor thing."
"Keep form," Seigkerd said. "I saw something. Tracking ahead. Njol, do you see-?"
"Yes. I saw it too."
Seigkerd took her by the shoulder, guiding himself into the center of the ring his pack had made while he pinged his coms. "This is Alpha Seigkerd. Any copy?"
"We copy, Alpha. Alpha Vhra didn't make it."
"We are making progress to the bridge. Meet us there and stay in touch. Something just tore our Gruuk apart."
"A worthy foe then."
"Don't let your glory lead your head, packmate. Just remain aware."

There was a grunt of affirmation from com and then silence.
Seigkerd took his position as head of their circle again, eyes flashing across the HUD.

Scarlet Serpent
Command Chamber

Jyll was helpless.
She could only watch the mutineers get her ship ready to betray the man she loved.
They had sealed the doors, and over their coms, she caught bits of conversation. The Ship Core - where Scarlet resided - was sealed tight. She didn't know what had happened to Scarlet, but she was safe - for now. It would not take long to cut through that door.
But the Serpent's trooper compliment was divided in her favor. They had secured the port-side hanger - the one facing to Kor'Laesha - and were holding out.
She just hoped one of her troopers had taken the initiative to ping the Blood Pact or something. Otherwise, the Xiscapian drop ships - she could see their advance on the Tac-Com, though so could Kathres - might just open up on them as a matter of course.

Jyll tried not to think about all that, though.
Instead, she studied her ex-crewers.
They were mostly NFP - colony grunts with little formal training and lots of hate and anger in their eyes.
Kathres was the worst - she indulged her's but then reeled it in, keeping control.
But Khalak...

The young man had returned to his station after laying the body of Apprentice Finn on the ground, paying respects to the body in the short-cut manner of battle, but it gave her a moment to realize that his mannerisms were Heart Hold. He had formal bearing, a soft accent that came to anyone who learned High Necrian - something not taught in the colonies.
But he was as pale as any spacer she had ever seen. While the others all had the slight tan, he looked like he had never seen anything but artificial sunlight.

While Kathres barked orders and made her plans, Khalak grabbed the med-kit from above where Jyll and Byeol had been tied up and sat down across from the kitsune, pulling out med-gel and bandages.
He caught her look and narrowed his eyes over a smile. "My parents raised my Devout. The Goddess would never leave such an injury be."
"What does she had to say about mutiny?" Jyll asked, testing the cuffs. Too tight to slip, but she had managed to get a twist in before Kathres locked them.
Maybe, if she could just...

Khalak dabbed the gel into the deep wound on Byeol's face, even though she still managed to bare her teeth at him. "Well... you left the Dominion first."
"The Dominion abandoned us."
"And the Imperium offered to take anyone it could." Khalak shrugged. "You made your choices. You remained. You were afraid."
"Afraid?" Jyll scoffed, covering a jab of pain from her wrist.
Khalak nodded. "You feared that it was a trap. Or that you would never return. You feared - as all the colonial powers did - that the Imperium would be no different than the Dominion. And you had grown accustomed to a certain way of life." He pulled out a bandage and fixed it around Byeol's muzzle, binding it shut as well as dressing it. "No one would blame you. But the SIN succeeded the NID. And this is a NID vessel. That is a NID colony. We are only trying to retake what was taken." He stood, hands on hips and looked down at Jyll. "The Goddess abides. She is merciful to the fallen and the misguided. Perhaps you would do well to... investigate the SIN for yourself. You might be surprised."
"Were you named for Talak?" Jyll asked suddenly as he turnedaway. She almost had it.
Khalak nodded, turning. "Yes. My parents were spacers. I was raised by Sisters of the Temple and the Ideals of Talak. My father named me for the man he idolized."
"The Empress isn't even his real daughter," Jyll said, desperately trying to keep his attention. "It's all a lie. A trick. The SIN started this war for what? A few planets and thousands, millions dead?"
Khalak's face grew dark and sad. "Better a million Kitsunes and Alversians than a billion Necrians. We are starving Jyll. The Usurper's War took much from us. More than you can possibly imagine."
"I can imagine quite a bit," Jyll growled, her hand coming loose.

In one movement she had sprung into Khalak, striking him across the jaw, the other hand grabbing his lancet in a difficult reverse grip and ripping it from its holster as he fell.
It was still charged and she leveled it at the closest insurgent. The lancer shot took him in the chest, sending him to the ground as the others responded.
But Jyll was already landing a second and third by the time Kathres had even reached her pistol. A fourth and fifth sent the woman reeling back, sprawled over the Tac-Com. One of the mutineers finally got a shot off, white-hot pain blossoming across her shoulder.
But Jyll spun with the hit, using its momentum to through his follow up shots wide and landing her own in his chest.

Jyll approached her one-time security officer, making sure she was dead before turning to see Khalak with Jyll's honor blade at Byeol's throat.
"You don't have to do this." She raised the lancet. "But I will if you make me."

Khalak glanced from her to the blade for only a second.
A fatal one.

The crack-hiss of the lancer took him in the side of the face. Khalak crumpled without a sound.

Jyll let the pistol fall to her side, breathing to quiet the screams inside, the shaking muscles.

Freeing Byeol with a strike of her blade, Jyll sheathed it and retrieved her personal side arm from Kathres' body. Making sure the bridge was sealed from the inside, she looked at the kitsune. "You know Xiscapian Morse Code, yes?"
The vixen nodded, grimacing around the bandage.
"Good. Use the active sensors to ping the Blood Pact. Send 'Ship taken. Vixen alive. Retaking my ship.' Understood?"
Byeol nodded again and sat down at the sensor's console while Jyll pulled off her old Dominion uniform jacket. She looked at it for a moment before throwing it to the ground and pulling Kathres' body armor on. It already had some compromised layers from her lancer, but it was better than nothing.

In the debris riddle defense line, the ICES Zodiark struggled against its foe. The Homage frigate had crashed into it and then unleashed every lancer cannon and turret it had, engines blazing from silver-blue to white, pushing the ship back into the gravity well.

Even as the other Homage frigates fell against the Alversian's ships - some gutted and venting atmosphere as they burned by, others launching themselves in fiery death against the Spartiate's armored and shielded hide - the SIN siege frigates' shots became slightly less accurate, but at the ten-thousand-kilometers mark, the defending ships couldn't land enough hits fast enough to do more than reduce their accuracy. Blast after blast rocked the area around the Veil Frigates, red flashes searing shields and glancing off the protecting cruisers.
The Saexs, however, had changed targets entirely, pounding nuclear bolt after bolt into the Spartiate.
Radioactive clouds bloomed across it as another two bolts hit home, one missing and another detonating on point defenses.

The chaos only mounted as the two Basilisk Heavy Crusiers focused their attention on the Spartiate, hundreds of heavy lancers and plasma torpedoes finding their marks.
Yet they were slowly moving back still, an offensive retreat, even as their fighters and drones joined the fray.

Beyond the line, the Hetaevan MAC - hulled and trailing flames and chunks of metal - burned into atmosphere, heading for one of the island clusters.

Madano Island

Morid coughed up blood as Brona hauled him over her shoulder, bile and inky-black blood spilling down her back.
His head swam. It was like trying to breath water. He could feel his skin, his bones, his teeth. They were all pulsing and writhing.
Radiation poisoning was decidedly unpleasant.
He coughed again and it felt like his whole skin was sloughing from his bones, then the itching came - in his skull, his heart, his lungs and stomach. It was torturous.
Damned foxes. Rather than just commit the rites and kill him, they were going to let him slowly die from his own poison.
Cleaver, sadistic little things.

Zyanlon Island
Quiet Cay Township

Auran didn't quite understand the barb 'Danaversian' but enough to narrow his eyes and bare a few teeth.

Syrana, however, piqued his attention. True, this was their only working vehicle. But it was also big, loud, and unarmored. It's Necrian make meant that its fuel cells were likely plasma based. One solid hit and they would go up in an inferno of immolation.
But her plan took him out of the truck, and while he didn't wish death on either of the others, he could feel their latent distrust.

As she vanished into the destroyed street, Auran nodded to the other two and slipped out of the truck.

These NFPers were better trained than the last group - snipers on the roofs taking shots when they could while the rest cycled firing so there was almost always a lancer burning a hole in something.
At their rate, the Den might just fall down, but it was largely wasteful.
Unless they had back up coming...
The truck.
Of course, Auran grimaced to himself as he slid into cover against an alleyway. That's where those other twenty were driving too. To support and push for this group.
Even as he thought it, he heard one of the NFP soldiers key a com.
"Challa, you copy? I saw your truck pull up in the next street. I need your team to move on the back of the building. We have sling jumpers along that side ready to take the back doors. Join up with them."
There was a moment of silence, then- "Challa, you copy girl?"

Auran suddenly realized there was no coms unit in the truck. Challa must of had the commlinks on her, or one of the others.
None of them had thought to grab gear besides a weapon or two.

He pushed on. There was no way to let Yukaze and Amelia what they were driving into. He just hoped they wouldn't get spotted too fast.

Rounding the corner while avoiding most of the other Necrians on the street, Auran scanned the shop.
It was an old book shop. Auran smiled tightly.
Burning books were not his ideal forms of distraction, but given the titles of some of them - Vixen's Kiss, Snake in the Fox Den, Goddesses of Kor'Laesha Third Annual - the NFPers would burn it all anyway.

Pulling a lancer pistol, Auran dialed down the power and scattered shots across the front of the room. He waited for the fires to start burning hot, then made for the back door.
Sol Imperi Necrosa Factbook

"You know you're in a shitty situation when your better option is 'go to war with the KEX.'" ~ Xiscapia

"Necrian diplomatic missives are often delivered by sniper rifle."~ NS

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Founded: Apr 26, 2007

Postby Alversia » Tue Aug 04, 2020 3:28 pm

APS Furious, CIC,
Task Force N, Kor’laesha Orbit

Callaghan forced herself to watch as another corvette; CC-109 took the full brunt of a Necrian heavy cruiser and the tiny vessel simply crumpled. There were some escape pods but not many and the Alversian gulped at the thought. They had been on their way back from convoy escort, looking forward to some R&R away from the war. Thanks to the Necrians, that crew would never see their families again. Had they even had the chance to tell them they had been diverted? Everything had happened so quickly…

“Ma’am!” One of the operators was looking to her, “Command from the Blood Pact; withdraw the screen!”

Too late for CC-109. “Thank the Admiral. Dispatch orders to Captain Tērauda; his ships are to fall back to Sector 004. We will cover them from there.” She could see already that the missile cruisers were launching their payloads to do much the same but having the guns of the Furious could not hurt.

“All batteries,” O’Neill had heard the command; “Focus fire on targets in Sector 002. Give the screen room to breathe.”


The situation was bad, but at least with the screen back in position, her fleet would be back up to full strength. The time for mourning would come later. They still had a job to do.

APS Spartiate, CIC,
Task Force N, Kor’laesha Orbit

In the midst of battle, Captain Maenir Eithagar was a bastion of serenity.

It had always been in his nature. Why fear things one could not control? And if they could be controlled, then what would panic do to do help see it done? It was a simple mantra but the blue-skinned man had found to be of endless help during a long and often stressful naval career. Now was one of those times.

“Sir, C turret reports inoperable.”


“They’re trying, sir.”

“Very good, keep me informed.”

He was watching his tactical reading of the battle with the same air one might have given a piece in a gallery. It was beautiful; in a morbid, visceral sort of way. Certainly he could see the allure of battle to races like the Carvon or the Hetaevan…

“Sir, collision course detected!”

“Tractor beam if you will, please.”


The frigate in question; a black dot remarkably close to his own vessel, the centre of his world, changed course abruptly. It’s suicide burn had been dangerous but now it worked against them. The Spartiate’s tractor beams were designed to ensnare pirates; little ships with a lot of power behind them. With simple nudges, it was a simple enough task to keep their hulls and direction of travel away from both the Heavy Cruiser and the FTLi ships it protected. Well, as simple as anything could be in space.

Even so, the Spartiate rocked as it took another direct shot from one of the two cruisers were now backing off. A curious move. Certainly, the Alversian ship-of-the-line was giving as good as she got but the fight was very much undecided. Clearly they had something else in mind.

The ship rocked again. Those long range Necrian vessels were proving something of a bother. Of course, it was the range at which the Spartiate excelled and she was throwing solid rounds at a third of lightspeed. On their own, it would have been a fair fight. With the two retreating cruisers, Spartiate damage was adding up.

“Hmm,” The voice belonged to the woman beside him, fairly unique in that she was a metal blue from her long, flowing hair to the naval uniform she wore, standing in the exact same posture as he, “Seems the Zodiak needs our help, Nirry. Medievac and a…tow, I think.”

“Is that so?” He smiled at the AI, “Engage Tractor Batteries A2 and A3. Have Defensive Batteries Alpha and Sigma cover the shuttles. Please inform Captain Holt that medievac is on its way and ask if she requires further assistance for damage control.”

“Can do!”

From the Spartiate, two more tractor beams were activated, engaging the embedded Necrian vessel and tearing it slowly, piece by piece like an arrow from a wound away from the stricken cruiser. Disruptor beams along the hull took advantage of the vulnerability and tore away at the frigate’s hull. At the same, a shuttle within the protective shields of the heavy cruiser and that of a dozen drones launched, under the watchful eyes of yet more Point Defences.

Spartiate rocked once again. Another of those nuclear lances had just skinned the upper deck.


“Standby, sir!”

“Please inform the admiral that we will soon require assistance if she can provide any.” Of course, the same message would be passed to Hirata.

Callaghan’s response to the admiral was quick; a request to detach some of her returning light ships to protect the heavy cruiser and FTLi frigates alike.

A sound plan. But then he did have a vested interest in it being seen through.

The thought made him smile.

Arc Squadron
Kor’laesha Orbit

The XB-99 Tornado shuddered under Akio’s seat as he squeezed the trigger. Hitting fast moving targets in a space dogfight was a challenge at the best times never mind when he was also trying to duck and dodge to keep the Necrians off his tail. Still he could not help but feel a thrill as the Wraith he had targeted flew into the burst of fire from his twin nose cannons, disintegrating under the fire with fragments staying on course off to his port. It was one of just so many that were now descending Boulder and Hammer squadrons. Despite the best efforts of Arc and Justicar and their accompanying drones, the heavy Devastators were taking losses, shields overwhelmed by the point defence fire and quantity of enemy small craft. He winced as another XH-137 exploded, shields collapsing under the sustained fire from so many angles.

With a flick of the stick, he found himself on the tail of another Wraith without so much as a twitch from his target. He must have been inexperienced, focusing on his target to the detriment of his surroundings. The Escan closed quickly, everything in space combat was measured in seconds and millimetres, he would need to be precise. There was another Wraith on his wing, just over his right shoulder but the angle was wrong, he had a heartbeat to shoot. He fired.

The shots missed but it jerked the rookie out of his trance and the Wraith spun away from the XH-137 Devastator he had been following. Job done. Akio turned hard left just as lancer fire filled the space where he had been just seconds ago. He turned his eye back to the bombers, looking for any drone or Wraith lining up attacks on them. Unfortunately, he had no shortage of targets.

Focus. Pick a target. Don’t get overwhelmed…

“On your left!”

The voice of Sera; his wing-girl. Without thinking, Akio yanked the stick between his legs and had his Tornado rolling right just as another streak of lancer fire passed his cockpit. How was he supposed to protect the bombers in this? He could barely protect himself!

He watched as the Devastators launched their payloads, the heavy fighters turning away from the murderous point defence fire even as the heavy fighters poured from the heavy cruiser’s hangars. Most of the Long Lances were intercepted, as was inevitable even with all the work that Justicar and Arc had done. All it took was one to get through though…

In spite of himself, Akio whooped in his cockpit as he saw the explosion rack the Night Amber, then another. The ship was leaning to one side as it lost some semblance of control, with Necrian vessels closing in to protect it.

“Good job Arc!” Tanner sounded elated even over the comms, “Copy that, Justicar, we're falling back now! Arc, form up on me!”

There was not much left of Arc. A quarter of the sixteen craft remained while a third of Hammer and just a fifth of Boulder were still flying. It was a heavy price to pay; but they had done their job and taken an enemy capital out of the fight. Even as missiles burst around them like fireworks to celebrate their work; Akio followed Tanner and Sera towards the withdrawing corvettes and destroyers of the screen.

Time to rearm and do it all again.

X Corps Headquarters
Madano Island, Kor'laesha

”Then you will be pleased to hear that my forces have just apprehended the sniper”

“Ah, excellent. Good work, General,” Keaton nodded her head in approval, “Your teams have done well. I hope they and the sniper both are not too injured?”

” Not that I expect the situation to improve, to be perfectly honest”

“No indeed,” Keaton bit her lip while behind her Baxtor exhaled gently with a slight shake of the head, “But we shall take our victories where we can get them. Having a sniper overwatching our command centre would have made things even more difficult than they already are.”

At the news of the space battle though, the Alversian gave only a nod, pondering the implications. That the enemy had been stopped was good, though the mention of casualties did bring a lump to her throat. There was only so much they could do, but as Nerelith had said; the fate of the planet was in their hands. The longer they could hold, the more they could draw out the battle on the ground. It was going to be grim no matter how one looked at it, for there was only going to be one outcome. A defeat for sure; but by what degree?

"General Keaton, I am aware that this may be too much to ask, but may I speak to you in private? I am unarmed. I would prefer not to have anyone else be party to what I will say, but I won't order General Baxtor away just to say it."

Keaton hesitated and looked back to Baxtor whose response was a raised eyebrow and a shrug. That made the General smile, for it was how Baxtor reported she had no issue with whatever decision Keaton would make. For her part though; the Alversian shook her head;
“I have no issue with your being armed or not, General,” A smile, “But Tracy is my second in command. Anything you wish to say to me, you can say to her with the same degree of confidence.”

“Scout’s honour,” Baxtor crossed her hand over her heart with a wry little smile. Whatever the news was would not be good and the levity was appreciated, at least from Keaton’s perspective. It was why she liked having Baxtor with her; she gave the commander a fresh look on things whenever Keaton herself was stuck.

Quiet Cay Township
Zyanlon Island

"Not helpful, considering he just saved our lives."

“Who said I was being helpful?” The pilot poked her tongue out at Yukaze, “I was just observing. And hey, I did say ‘thank you’ for saving us!”

”When enough smoke has been generated, it will be your job to bring the truck around to the back of the Vixen's Den,"

“Okay, got it. When I see the big fires, take her around the back and see if I can pick the folks up. Not a worry, I can do that.” Amelia grinned broadly, shuffling between the front seats as Auran vacated the driver’s seat, brushing unavoidably against Yukaze as the 6’6’’ woman shuffled and inelegantly fell into the chair, “Sorry Fluff!”

”With Valoria's blessing you may drive better than you flew”

“Ha ha,” She said somewhat sarcastically at the back of the alumina, “Have fun, Giggles. Remember, you’ve got that stick up your ass if you need a weapon in a hurry.”

As the two disappeared into cover; one heading to each side of the street; Amelia hummed to herself as she adjusted the seat of the truck and then the rear-view mirror with only a brief moment to check the bruise on her cheek before sighing and settling back. The attempts at radio contact, she had no idea of, lacking the communicator she would have needed. Instead, she began to rap her fingers against the steering wheel alongside whichever song she was humming to herself, glancing back at Yukaze in the back seat,
“Hey, sir. Welcome to Alvie Cabs, where you heading tonight?”
Last edited by Alversia on Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Xiscapia » Sat Aug 08, 2020 2:06 am

Justicar Lead...

"Damn it, get off me!" Mitse jerked his Shuriken around, tearing through a debris field with a Nightshade in hot pursuit. With Arc Squadron's target cruiser gouting flames and the Alversian ships breaking off his job was done, but the SIN's fighters were not going to simply let him go. If they had gotten more time Mitse could have fought close to the wounded Night Amber, trying to catch the enemy interceptors in the cruiser's crossfire, but there was no such luxury. It was time to try something else.

Pulling out of his turn, the tod bolted his ship forwards, the spaceframe rattling with the effort as his ship's engines hummed louder. The burst of acceleration gave him a few prescious seconds, but it was no saving grace: the Nightshade would zero in on him and blow him apart before he could make it into Jaunt. A warning siren indicated that was exactly what was happening as his opponent locked on, choosing the reliability of cannons over missiles in the ECM-ridden battlezone. Mitse stayed the course, flying straight and even in the direction of the AXIS fleet. Charaan was swinging around in her own ship, having shaken her pursuers, but she was still too far out to help.

At the last moment Mitse juked, rolling his Shuriken over as lancer fire peppered at his shields. The other pilot had expected the maneuver, turning to match him, but what they could not have expected was the wavering rifts tearing open across thousands of kilometers to admit hordes of missiles, courtesy of the fleet's artillery cruisers. Some of them detonated immediately, either by design or from being intercepted, and Mitse rode the waves of explosions as he hurtled through the rain of rockets larger than his own fighter. Having known where the ships would be firing, Mitse bolted for the edge of the radius. "Yeah, how do you like -shit!"

A lancer blast clipped one wing of his ship, sending it spinning, and even as Mitse fought with the controls the sensors blurted an alarm: the Nightshade emerging from the wall of missile fire, battered but very much intact. Aborting his Jaunt activation, Mitse pulled ahead again, swearing under his breath until a fresh surge of missiles streaked up from below. Though smaller, the cluster of munitions homed in on the Nightshade doggedly, forcing it to break off its attack closely followed by Charaan's fighter. HE SAID GET OFF! she thought-screamed before abruptly tearing away, leaving her missiles to try to finish the job. Now's our chance!

Copy that, Mitse exhaled and punched in the coordinates for Jaunt. A dark, swirling portal opened and the two Shuriken dove through, descending into the quantumn level and infinite darkness until they popped out the other side. In a relatively lonely patch of space Mitse brought his fighter around, teeth gritting as he realized that most of the other Xiscapian and Cruorian squadrons hadn't gotten off much better than his own: the bulk of them were down to half strength or fewer. Even those ships that were still mobile showed signs of damage, much like his own crumpled wing, and in the time it would take for them to approach the fleet and get repaired and rearmed there would be only a token screening force. The saving grace was that the same FTLi field that made it all take longer prevented the SIN from taking advantage of that to pull the same stunt, so he and his would have breathing room.

Good work out there, as always, he told Charaan as they reoriented their ships, forming up with what remained of the attack wings. And thanks for the help.

The big woman laughed. I'm the only one who ever shot you down, and I intend on keeping it that way!

XIS Blood Pact, Bridge...

Admiral Callaghan is requesting permission to divert her incoming attack ships to the defense of the inhibitor frigates.

Hirata didn't even have to think about it. Granted. She is to do whatever is necessary to preserve the combat-worthiness of our inhibitor ships. He watched as the strike craft and attack ships fell back, disengaging while the fleet proper dealt with its own problems. That was going well enough so far: despite the sheer volume of fire neither the Spartiate nor the Zodiark had fallen, the Dawnlight Predator had managed to separate itself from the ramming ship, and the Lady Gwendolyn had signaled that it was starting boarding operations on the Scarlet Serpent. Even the SIN fleet seemed oddly hesitant, some of the craft milling about while others pushed forward ahead of them.

A lull. Or as close to one as he was likely to get. Volcanis and Lupanail are to merge shields with the Zodiark, he ordered, referring to a pair of Marchamp frigates. Developed during the Danaversian War, the ships could add their shield strength together, a capability since extended to every other compatible Xiscapian ship, and here it would prove crucial to the AXIS defensive line. As commanded, the two frigates turned about and accelerated for where the Spartiate was taking a pounding, the bubbles of their force fields already fused together on the approach.

Sir, his communications officer looked up, the woman making eye contact with Hirata. Signal from the Scarlet Serpent. 'Ship taken. Vixen alive. Retaking my ship.'

Sighing in relief, Hirata just nodded. Only Jyll would have called herself 'Vixen', a pet name she'd adopted, and it hardly needed to be said that she wouldn't have contacted him if she'd been behind the mutiny. Inform the Serpent that friendly infantry will be boarding imminently to assist. Other units standing by. Keep in touch, and Goddess preserve her.

ICES Zodiark, Bridge...

Eyeing the shuttle from the Spartiate as it approached, Holt turned her attention to the two Marchamp frigates as they imposed themselves in front of the damaged Zodiark. With their shields linked they edged towards the FTLi frigate, merging their defenses with her own ship's once the transport had passed within the interlocking shield bubbles. Assured that the wounded would already be on their way to the medevac ship, Holt winced as a blast lobbed from an enemy cruiser impacted the frigates defending her, making shields glow brightly as they dissipated the force. The same gravitic sheer that pulsed out from the attack shoved the ramming Homage frigate away, ironically probably saving the turncoat ship from being completely disintegrated under the power of the layered shields. She ignored it; even if it wasn't destroyed by the guns of the Spartiate, it no longer posed a threat to her command.

Thank the Spartiate for her assistance. We would not have survived without her.

Transmission sent, captain.

XIS Lady Gwendolyn, Breaching Collar...

Staff Sergeant Michelle Green checked her carbine, even though she'd checked and re-checked it half a dozen times already. A veteran of the Danaversian War, she had fought mainly with weapons captured from the enemy during her time as a resistance fighter, and she'd gotten into the habit of inspecting any gun she held almost obsessively. It was a trait she'd passed down to the rest of her Imperial Marine troops, including the pair of soldiers responsible for the portable autocannon that made her unit a weapons squad. Satisfied, the lupine escan looked ahead again with a swish of her armored tail. A thud vibrated through the compartment as it slotted into place against the port hangar of the Scarlet Serpent, and the "voice" of her division's major general appeared in her head among thousands of others.

Soldiers of the Empire, you are about to enter a target-rich environment. Be advised that the ship is at war with itself, which means that you will not be able to distinguish friend from foe readily. Any personnel you encounter aboard are to be taken into custody. Unless they resist this, you are only to fire if fired upon. Each unit has its assigned objectives. For the people, for the Emperor, for Xiscapia!

With that, the boarding collar pressurized and hissed open into the cruiser's hangar, and Michelle's unit advanced under the cover of shields.

CSS Dawnlight Predator, Interior...

Ripper Commander Ivo held himself perfectly still, the abhuman jackal bracing himself against the dreadnought's bulkheads near the ceiling as the boarders passed directly below him. The rest of his special forces unit, primarily commandos called Fangs but including several psychic Rippers like himself, was in identical positions as they waited for the enemy to file down the hallway. Whatever beast they had brought with them had run right into prepared mines, making the traps ahead slightly less deadly, but Ivo was mostly just glad that it had blown itself up before doing any damage. This fight promised to be nasty enough without involving literal wild animals. Once the last Hetaevan had entered the corridor, Ivo signaled to his troops and they dropped down into the bay.

Thanks to his uplink with the ship's A.I., Ivo tracked the enemy squad's progress as they pressed on through the warship's bowels. Every compartment they entered was much the same as the others, dark, airless, and deprived of artificial gravity. Splitting up, half of his unit went down a maintenance tunnel while the other half took a utility shaft, each running parallel to the Hetaevan advance. Seconds stretched into minutes as he collected data: scans told him that they were using magnetic boots and infrared vision to compensate, while the A.I. silently informed him that the boarding teams were communicating with each other. Localized jamming put a stop to that, leaving his target squad unable to contact reinforcements or even talk to each other beyond hand signals.

The tension would have been building with the enemy as they waited for the other shoe to drop, but when Ivo gave the order it all happened at once. The Hetaevans in their bulky armor were forced into single-file in a tight hallway, and the A.I. triggered a series of blast doors that lowered themselves between the compartments, separating the enemy soldiers into pairs or solitary opponents between sealed hatches. At the same time the local gravity switched from null to intense, weighing the Hetaevans down in their armor, and the lights in each section flared without warning to disrupt their night vision. Ivo was with his Fangs at the front when the first blast door retracted, exposing two boarders where they'd been trapped inside of the compartment. The other team would be engaging the rear of the boarding party, cleaning them up before proceeding to the next compartment -simple divide-and-conquer tactics.

Ivo thrust an arm forward, and his team opened fire.

Madano Island
X Corps Headquarters...

“Your teams have done well. I hope they and the sniper both are not too injured?”

"Thank you, ma'am. The intercepting squad did sustain several non-fatal casualties, and the sniper's wounds were rather more severe," the Necrian woman gave a tight, unpleasant smile. "Courtesy of our own overwatch sniper, I'm given to understand."

“I have no issue with your being armed or not, General. But Tracy is my second in command. Anything you wish to say to me, you can say to her with the same degree of confidence.”

Smile dropping, Nerelith swallowed and nodded. "As you know, many Necrians across the colonies have turned on their Imperial counterparts in the uprisings. That is why I am unarmed; I wish to assure everyone I work with that I am no threat to them, and I do not need a sidearm to do my duty. Under normal circumstances General Hotaka would have ordered me to proceed him in the evacuation as his executive officer, but with the general incapacitated, command of Kor'laesha's garrison falls to me. He made it clear to me that he will not abandon AXIS forces even if that means his capture or death, so I now have a responsibility to do the same."

Taking a breath, she continued. "I assume that protocols are much the same with Alversian forces, which means that General Baxtor will be withdrawing when our position becomes untenable, and you," she looked Keaton in the eyes, "will remain behind to do everything possible to extract your troops. I will do the same, but if it seems that we are about to be captured..." Nerelith hesitated. "Necrisis First Party members are cruel. I fear what they will do to me if I fall into their hands. I must-"

She cut herself off, getting the same faraway look in her eyes that Hotaka had when receiving an update. Before she could speak the ground shuddered, sending vibrations through the rock and almost putting her off-balance, though she quickly looked back to the Alversians. "That was our Ground-To-Orbit battery firing. The better part of one of the enemy ships has entered atmosphere; the battery reports that it was destroyed, but that was a Hetaevan ship. There will likely be scattered Hetaevan forces landing on this island soon. Inform your troops to watch the skies."

Zyanlon Island
Quiet Cay Township...

Skulking through alleyways and between cars, Syrana was both careful and in constant motion. The partisans were focused on the strip mall, not expecting anyone to be on their flanks, and she took advantage of that as she bypassed several checkpoints and at one point leapt over a low building to land behind her target structure. The plant nusury was deserted, and she wasted no time in splashing fuel across saplings and beds of moss on her way to the other side of the greenhouse. With a click of a lighter the gasoline caught fire, flames spreading quickly to the surrounding building, and she ducked out one side even as she reached out with her psionics to assess the situation. Auran had made it to his objective and the other two were on the move...but there were far too many minds tinged with hosility lurking behind the Vixen's Den.

There is an enemy squad stacked up at your destination, she telepathically informed Amelia. Continue as planned. They should mistake you for a friendly unit. Not waiting to try to read the Alversian's mind for a response, she probed at the interior of the Vixen's Den until she found what she was looking for: a faint psychic presence. Do not be alarmed, she instructed the alarmed Necrian. I am friendly. There is a squad preparing to flank you. Do exactly as I say, when I say it, and you may survive.


“Hey, sir. Welcome to Alvie Cabs, where you heading tonight?”

"The back of a strip joint, because we're too ashamed to enter through the front," Yukaze joked, and they started off. As they navigated around abandoned cars and over cracked pavement he tried very hard not to think about the fact that the Necrian-made truck would go off like a bomb if a single well-placed shot hit its fuel tank. Fortunately, no one shot at them as they drove down the side street Auran had taken and swing around to the access road that would take them behind the strip mall. The Den's defenders had plenty of other targets, and it seemed that the gunmen hadn't caught on to their truck of reinforcements being in hostile hands. He was feeling good about the plan up until they turned the corner, coasting to the strip club's back door, and saw a dozen armed Necrians staring at them.

Ducking down, Yukaze braced himself for a barrage of lancer fire. From Amelia's perspective it was clear why: the group was watching the truck expectantly, weapons up but not pointed at them, though the sham couldn't possibly last much longer. Then the club's back door slammed open and two figures emerged, as unalike as night and day. One was a sharply-dressed Necrian woman, though her suit was torn and burned in places, a submachinegun cradled in her arms, and the other was a pure white vixen wearing nothing more than a bikini top and holding a lancer rifle. The pair turned in unison, somehow having already known that the enemy was there, and Amelia saw their bullets and beams tear into the line of partisans. The ones who hadn't been immediately shot started to return fire, but more people piled out of the club behind the first pair to add their fire to the mix, and in seconds it was over.

The group they had rescued was quite the motely crew, caught between dressing for a day at the beach and a night out. On one side there were a pair of tuxedo'd tods, an elfin Olacian woman dressed in a crop top and miniskirt, and a male escan "dressed" in dye and glitter, and on the other was a pair of tods in swimming briefs, a third clad in board shorts, and a tixen wearing a V-string. Behind them, a final two vixens -one in a suit, the other a thong- supported a third vixen between them, keeping her off a leg that had clearly suffered a lancer burn. The weapons they were armed with were just as eclectic, a mixture of Imperial sidearms, captured lancers, and the likes of machine pistols and sawn-off shotguns. After looking over the dozen-odd persons, the alabaster vixen looked between the truck and the end of the alleyway where Syrana had appeared.

"Thanks for the help," she called to the tall feline. "Now let's put some distance between us and here!" Waving her people on to board the truck, she peered into the driver's side window where Amelia was. She rapped on the window.

"Hey, remind me to buy you a drink if we get out of this."
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
The Kitsune Empire of Xiscapia's FT Factbook (V2.5)
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