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The Antaran Chronicles


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diehardtwinsfan #21 Posted 02 July 2016 - 09:26 PM

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“I got it!” the old Darlok quietly thought.  “Perhaps I won’t have to die on this rock.”  This mission had been going on for several years now and he finally broke through the encryption protecting the best secrets of the Antaran data network.  The Darlok quickly checked his equipment to see activity as he quickly started queueing up data for transport.  He was now racing time as it would be only moments before the Antarans realized that a breech was in progress.  He had taken the necessary precautions.  He was not directly accessing the tap, but had routed it through a number of random points to slow his discovery, but that was also now a matter of time. 

Time was of the essence for the old Darlok.  His time was rapidly coming to an end.  He could feel it.  The aging process for the Darlok race was a bit different from others.  Unlike other races, a Darlok’s need for food increased as they aged as the energy needed to hold their form increased.  Some Darloks had made some fun out of the situation, building items catering towards culinary pleasures.  While younger Darloks did not see the point, older ones seemed more intent on enjoying something that they had to do more of in their old age. He did not have much time.  Perhaps a few years at most, but this mission would be over sooner than that.


 

He again checked his scanners and he could see activity on the Antaran side.  They knew the breech was in progress.  He was hoping to grab as much technology as possible, but he would be happy with his primary goal, and this was already well under way.  Knowing he would not be at his current location long, he started his beacon.  The beacon was a pretty simple device. Its signal was unable to be jammed, so he could let his handlers know that his mission had been successful.  From there though it got more difficult.  He had to make his way to a rendezvous point, and given how deep he was in Sakkra territory, making the rendezvous was no sure thing.  He had a black site setup on a high mountain on Saak.  The Sakkra were not much for colder climates, and fortunately their Antaran captures did not seem to be much for those either.  His black site had been there for years now, and while he never visited, he carefully watched its security systems to ensure no one else visited either.  It was well hidden, so on one would stumble on it, and it had food to sustain him for a few months at least.  Hopefully, he would not have to hunt for food.  At his age, that could be dangerous.


 

He checked his scanners again.  His primary goal and downloaded to his data device.  His secondary goal was transmitting.  Judging by the activity on the Antaran side, any other goals would not be met.  He paced like a young Sakkra engaging in a mating ritual, nervously moving back and forth waiting for his objective to finish.  At last it was done.  He checked the scanner once more.  He would not have time for more.  He quickly disconnected his data device, initiated a digital destruct on what had been his home for the last few years, and transformed into a large reptilian bird that was common to Saak.  He would need to find a flock of them quickly as they rarely flew alone, but this would allow him to move in the direction of his site without too much risk.


 

As he flew away, he was thankful he did not try for his third objective.  Off in the distance he could see the rapidly moving exhaust from what could only be an Antaran missile headed towards his location.  “Up” he thought.  If there was any radioactivity, he had to get as far away from that as possible. Darloks were more tolerant to those types of weapons than some species, but given his age, any exposure to a sickness could potentially keep his prize out of the hands of the military council.  Fortunately, the strike weapon was more of the surgical kind as the place he had called home went up in what looked like a small puff of light from his vantage point.  “On” he thought.  Now he had to reach his new home and wait.  He had given up his old age for this endeavor, his only hope now was that it would be used.



diehardtwinsfan #22 Posted 13 July 2016 - 01:10 AM

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The sabotage of Mentar’s Star Fortress had been an unwelcome surprise to Destair and the Psilon empire alike.  While he had hoped for his crew to get a little time on the planet to relax, instead they had been pressed into double duty both in refitting his ship as well as assisting in repairs on the damaged space station.  Kelvim did not waiver from the original orders, though modifications to them were made once the war broke out.  Destair would still be rendezvousing with the Darloks, though it would be with a Darlok freighter once his primary objective was complete.  He would now be receiving a cloaking device and going alone on a mission deep into Sakkra space by way of the Chondata wormhole.  Destair’s primary objective was still going to be investigating this anomaly.  He thought this rather strange.  Space anomalies were often interesting, yielding credits to an empire, ships, or even the occasional technological breakthrough, but this was hardly worth diverting resources at a time of war.  Kelvim’s reply was simply that this was no typical anomaly.  Whatever it was had been carefully hidden.  This much seemed true.  He was now on approach in his week long journey to the site, but it was not until only a day out that his scanners finally detected the object.  It was indeed well placed, buried inside a nebula that did not allow for easy scanning.  It apparently had been a stroke of luck that the Psilons had even found it, as the object was apparently placed at the epi-center between several floating bodies in a way that made it nearly impossible to find.  Judging from the data, it was only visible to long range scanners once every several hundred years, and that visibility was brief.  A hundred years ago, no long range scanners would have been powerful enough to pierce the nebula, much less find this object.  Even at much closer range its signal was rather faint, and given that there were no shipping lanes or planets remotely close, it was likely that this object had not been disturbed since it had been put there. 


 

Navigating the nebula had been painful.  They were forced to move slowly as they passed around the large rocks surrounding the anomaly.  Likewise, they had to carefully watch for space monsters, as some were known to hide in these types of environments.


 

Destair was interrupted when he heard his pilot note that they were in visual range of the object.  “Put it on the view screen,” he ordered.  The view screen lit up, showing at first only the silhouette of an object no bigger than a destroyer class ship as the gas clouds in this particular nebula were very thick.  As they approached, the object became a bit clearer.  It was a small station, most likely a research lab of some kind.  Perhaps it would have some sort of useful technology, or perhaps it was simply a waste of time he muttered quietly to himself.  Suddenly he realized that this likely would not be a waste as his ship was now close enough for him to recognize the markings on the hull of the object.  Destair had not been at Orion all that long, but he had spent enough time on the planet to recognize Orion symbols.  This station had been built by the ancients. 


 

“Life support is functional,” came the surprised voice of his communications officer.  The Psilons were well noted for their technology, but a power supply that could last this long was something they had not conceived of.


 

“There appears to be a docking port at each end of the station,” his pilot noted.  “We won’t be able to dock the ship with it, but we should be able to get our shuttles on it.”


 

“Prep some boarding parties,” Destair ordered.  “I want a full complement of Marines on each shuttle that boards.  I’ll be on one shuttle, you’ll lead the second,” Destair said to his science officer.  The Ampere only had two shuttles for transport.  They were large enough to hold a dozen marines to go with a commanding officer, an engineer as well as one or two others.  Destair would take another scientist with him, while his science officer selected an additional engineer.  In all likeliness, they would only be harvesting data, and perhaps a few devices small enough to take back for study.  The station was small enough that it would not take more than an hour or two to fully explore.  Destair was more concerned about any automated defense systems that might be operational on the facility, as some anomalies were known to have them.  That said, with the exception of the space battle wreckage Kelvim had found decades earlier, Destair was not aware of any space anomaly that was Orion in origin.  This could be making history.


 

What was only a few minutes seemed like hours as his crew prepared to board the station.  Even with functioning life support, they brought their own backup systems along, which included a portable power generator, life support unit, and various other supplies to keep them alive should the station’s life support suddenly fail when being tested.  After all, Destair was fairly certain that the station hadn’t been in use for at least ten thousand solar cycles.  Strangely enough, as his crew entered their port, the lights turned on.  Destair expected something dark and barely functioning.  The power supply on this station however, was clearly impressive to be able to survive this long, and the fact that the station’s systems appeared to be in good working order was even more so impressive.


 

Destair surveyed the room he had entered.  Their entrance was connected to a large spherical structure on the far end of the station.  Directly in front of the entrance, and on the other end of the sphere was an entrance to what he assumed would be some sort of command center. However, this room had its own unique features.  There were 18 computer terminals set in equal distances around the room.  Interfacing with them would be interesting, and each station had writings engraved in the walls above it in a language Destair did not recognize.


 

“I know that one!” Destair heard one of his marines utter.  He looked over and the guard was pointing at one of the stations.  The word was ancient Psilon… really ancient, a term often said to have been given to them by the creator.  Psilon origins was an interesting debate.  Truthfully, no one could say for certain where they came from.  Religion had long been cast aside by their species, but this was a religious term:  a name given to them by the god of knowledge, and a name largely forgotten.  Destair studied the term for a second, suddenly realizing that he could not that word.  “Can anyone here read ancient?” Destair found himself saying out loud.  Ancient was a relatively new study, one that was born from colonizing Orion.  The planet was littered with artifacts written in the language of the elder species, and the study of it was something that many undertook.  “It means Psilon,” said another voice behind him.  “That one over there, I think it says Sakkra.”  Destair looked at the speaker, which turned out to be his engineer.  He was pointing to another station at the far end of the room, and he continued pointing at other stations as he spoke, “Meklar, Darlok, Human, Bulrathi… these I know.  But these… Gnolam, Ikthul, Trillarian, Elerian,” he paused thinking for a second.  “I haven’t heard of most of these, and the ones I have are said to be myths.”  Destair knew about the Elerians.  It was a matriarchal race, one Humans constantly fantasized about.  Destair did not understand Humans much.  Their males constantly spoke of reproduction, and for some odd reason they seemed to like their stories of Elerians.  Truthfully, he had learned their whole history was like this, starting with the myths of something called a mermaid.  To Destair, there was not much of a difference.  But until now, both were mythical. 

Destair walked over to the terminal with the Psilon markings.  There was no data port to use, but he touched the screen and it became alive.  He did not recognize most of what was on the display.  Numbers of sorts, and more writing with various pictures of his species.  As he touched the screen a new display would appear and he did so until it cycled back to the first picture.  “Those are genetic markers,” came the voice of his science officer.  “This is no research facility.  It’s a museum.”  Destair paused a moment to think about what he was looking at.  The enormity of the discovery however was quickly masked by the excited voice of his chief science officer on the com signal. 


 

“You’ll never believe this,” came the excited reply. “We aren’t alone on this station.  There’s a stasis pod here, and whatever is in it is still alive!”


Edited by diehardtwinsfan, 13 July 2016 - 01:12 AM.


diehardtwinsfan #23 Posted 15 July 2016 - 03:10 PM

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I'm not planning on developing that line, though I did personally like the concept... of course we won't discuss just how poor MOO3 was implemented...

 

 

The idea of a Sentient parasite is a bit more interesting I think than a talking bear, cat, or bird.  :)  I do hope CTS does something along those lines, even if they don't call it Ikthul.



diehardtwinsfan #24 Posted 28 July 2016 - 12:59 AM

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“Another early morning call,” Jones cursed silently to himself as he was woken from his slumber.  As he fumbled for his communication device, the fog of sleep was quickly dissipating and his brain had already solved the purpose of the call before he activated the device.


 

“This is Orion Security Services following Human protocol,” came the voice of a young officer. “A dead human has been found.  The location is being sent to you via secure message.”

Jones was not surprised that this would happen eventually.  He knew that the Darloks had Markovich and he suspect that once they were done with him, he would die. It had been a couple weeks since he had disappeared and the trail had run cold.  His visitations had stopped too, and Jones had little to go on in a practical matter to negotiate a release, and he did not trust his handlers enough to let them know the truth of it.  The reality of all of this was that Markovich was involved in something much bigger, and Jones had no idea as to how deep the conspiracy ran. Two weeks later, the talk of Orion City was still very much centered on the dead Antaran that had been found with several other of the races, and the public statements from those affected raised more questions than answers.


 

War was also continuing to escalate.  The Humans and Bulrathi split their fleets after the destruction of Nazin.  Admiral Virsch had caught up to the Bulrathi fleet and destroyed it as they approached the Darlok colonies in the Nirb system. The Humans withdrew from Darlok space after that, and in so doing sacrificed the marines that had taken Zibb.  The destruction of the Bulrathi fleet led to an unexpected war as the Mrrshan empire decided it was time to rekindle old disputes, sending their Navy in to take a disputed border system. The Darlok war had been a costly one for the Bulrathi, as more than a third of their navy had bene destroyed. Jones wondered how a miscalculation of that size would affect Bulrathi and Human leaders. Jones knew that alone the Humans were not strong enough to defeat Nazin, even if they publicly said otherwise.

Not to be outdone, the Silicoids also joined the fray, moving in on their Mrrshan neighbors only days after their fleet had left Fierras. Jones could see the workings of something bigger. Scanning technology wasn’t that good, which meant that some sort of coordination via espionage was happening. The Sakkra had sent a large fleet at the Psilons, but were quickly repelled at Chondata, not without heavy losses however.  Everyone was going to war, but it seemed as though their wars had no purpose.

Jones wasted no time and raced over to the scene. He was surprised by what he saw, as it was far more than just a dead human.  Another Antaran was on display for all to see along with what he could only assume to be other conspirators: a Klackon, Silicoid, and another Bulrathi.


 

“These deaths were different than others,” came the voice of an investigative officer behind him. Jones turned and looked to see an Alkari guard standing in front of him. “They were clearly tortured,” the guard continued. “Your human compatriot had clearly seen better days. Many of his bones are broken. He has light plasma burns all over his body.  We’ve run a toxicology screen on him, but based on the puncture wounds on his arms, I suspect we will see he had been injected with things as well.” 


 

Not a pretty way to go, Jones thought quietly as he surveyed the scene.  “This scene has been staged,” Jones noted aloud.

The Alkari only nodded.  “There’s more,” he continued.  “This data pad was found at the scene.”  There is not much on it, except a message. Here,” he said handing Jones the data pad.  “Play it.”

Jones complied revealing an audio communication. “Citizens of Orion,” it said. “This, along with those found two weeks ago, is the evidence of a vast conspiracy against all of our member races. It is one designed to keep us at war with each other and to keep us weak, so that Antares will prevail.  Set aside your differences and fight your one true enemy.”


 

“There’s not much to it.” Jones noted as he played the message again. “I agree,” the guard replied. “The problem is that it is already out.” Jones looked at the guard inquisitively. “I’ve already had a reporter asking me about it. The message was not just meant for us.”


 

Jones cursed silently knowing that this would make his investigation painful. Humans were known for their bureaucracy, and if such a conspiracy existed, they conspirators would no doubt tie as much his investigation up as possible.  For that matter, plenty of others seeking to make names for themselves would do much of the same.


 

“Send the human body to Dr. Salk for analysis. We would like to look at that Antaran too if at all possible.  I want all video surveillance from any camera within a mile of this place and all crime scene photos.” 

“It is already being done,” the guard nodded. “We’ve gotten quite accustomed to these procedures.  Much of that information has already been sent.”


 

Jones returned to his apartment to review the information. The guard had not lied, as much of the information he needed had already been delivered via secure electronic communication.  Jones scrolled through the data reading the information when he suddenly realized he was not alone.  His instincts as a Human spy were second to none.  He simultaneously turned as he grabbed his blaster just in time to dodge what would have been a fatal blow from his assailant. The attacker’s knife still struck him on his arm, causing him to shriek in pain and drop his blaster.  Blood flowed freely from his arm as the wound was deep. In desperation, Jones grabbed whatever he could find, hurling it at the attacker.  The Darlok simply chuckled as he dodged the random objects.  “That message was cute,” it said chuckling quietly. “You have no idea just how much power Antares has.”  The Darlok continued as he picked up Jones’ blaster. “The time for unity was forty years ago.  It’s too late now.”


 

The Darlok raised the blaster to execute Jones only to be interrupted by a large Bulrathi crashing through the door. Culso was not alone, as behind him came another Darlok in the form of the Human woman that has visited Jones on several occasions.


 

“You!” hissed the assailant at the new Darlok as it turned to fire on the welcome intruders, but Culso’s Darlok fired first vaporizing the attacker almost instantaneously.  Jones fell to the ground as the shock of his wound was setting in. “You must hide now,” the woman wheezed.  “It will not be safe so long as conspirators remain here.”



diehardtwinsfan #25 Posted 02 September 2016 - 01:56 AM

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“It’s quite safe to turn off,” Destair’s science officer humbly noted. “The stasis chamber not only appears to be intact, but it is functioning optimally as well.  The being in side is well preserved.”


 

“Can we tell if it is armed?” asked a security guard warily. 


 

“Scans of the device show nothing to be concerned about.  I cannot promise that, but the being will be weak.  I could not tell you for sure how long this being has been here. Maybe ten thousand years…  Maybe more.”


 

“What can you tell of its physiology?” Destair asked, suspecting already that he knew the answer.


 

“It is nothing we have encountered before. It isn’t Antaran; that much I can say for sure, but these readouts are not like anything I’ve seen.”


 

“Wake it up,” Destair ordered. “Bring all security personnel here.  If it wants a fight, let’s make sure it cannot win.”  The science officer complied and began tapping a few key sequences into the input terminal on the device. Something inside of it activated and a soft humming sound started to emanate from the stasis pod. “It may take a few minutes,” the officer noted.  They silently watched the device as it began to restore life functions to the creature inside of it. After a few minutes, the device began to glow. “It’s warming up the being now,” the officer timidly noted. “The device’s monitor is issuing a count down. From the looks of it, roughly another minute or two.”


 

Two more minutes passed.  The device was humming louder now.  The humming climaxed into a loud click as the latches protecting the enclosed being released and the hissing sound of air rushing into the device followed. The door of the chamber slowly opened revealing the being inside. It was still sleeping.  Perhaps it was dead, Destair could not tell, but the being itself was not like any that Destair had seen before. Like most species, it was a biped, though it had only two arms, unlike the Psilons. Its skin was a dark blue hue, and looked to be incredibly smooth. Perhaps it was a young creature, he thought, as there were no signs of age on the being. It had no hair either, three fingers on each hand, and three toes on each foot. The creature opened its eyes, causing the guards to quickly point their weapons at it. Its eyes actually glowed, even in the light, and were pure white.  The creature slowly moved as it attempted to regain its strength, and then to Destair’s surprise, began speaking in ancient Psilon.


 

“My children have come of age,” it said feebly. “how many others were able to visit the stars?”


 

“We know of ten other races,” Destair diminutively replied. “This… museum, indicates there were more?”


 

“The universe is a great mystery,” the ancient replied. “I’m sure there are plenty of secrets you have yet to discover...”


 

“Like the Antarans?” Destair interrupted. It was an honest question, though Destair wanted more than a simple answer. He wanted to see the ancient’s reaction. The alien paused and shifted uncomfortably, but answered.


 

“Long ago there were three races: the Orions, of which I’m one, the Polarians, and the Antarans.  We explored the stars together and lived together in harmony.  During that time, many achievements were made, including you.   We created you, along with many others, but that peace did not last.  When the Antarans and Polarians went to war, we stayed out of it for too long. The Antarans wiped out the Polarian race and turned their sites towards us. That war was brutal, as many beautiful planets were obliterated.  We struck the final blow, folding the Antaran home world into another dimension, but as it turns out, they had wiped our race out two hundred cycles prior.”  A few of the crew members exchanged puzzled looks as the alien continued.  “We had been infected with a bio-engineered genetic plague. The Antarans designed it well, tailor making it to our genome. It remained dormant in our bodies for nearly a two hundred cycles, quickly being passed down to each and every member of our race, and when it was activated, only a few of us survived as it destroyed the majority of our civilization in a hundred solar days. I too am infected, and my days are numbered.  I wanted to see our creation some into fruition, and so I chose stasis.  Tell me, how many of you are space bound?”


 

“We know of ten other species,” Destair repeated as he considered just how much information to pass on to the ancient. “A number of the species in your museum do not exist, and you are the first Orion we have met.”


 

“Space holds many secrets,” the ancient replied. “Do not be so arrogant to think you have found them all.  Many secrets are hidden in space; even in this nebula more are likely more to be found.”


 

“We’ve found many,” Destair replied calmly, “including Antares.” 


 

The alien’s eyes glowed a shade of pale yellow as it recoiled at the statement. “They should have been sealed up forever.  Perhaps I can be of assistance yet.”  The alien slowly struggled as it stood to its feet, eliciting a reaction from the security personnel as they uncomfortably pointed their weapons at the being. Destair calmly raised his hand indicating that they should lower their weapons. The alien slowly moved over to a data terminal motioning to Destair as he asked for a data pad.


 

Destair asked his science officer for a blank device and handed it to the ancient. The alien slowly punched a few sequences into the terminal and began downloading information to the device.  Destair was mildly surprised as he assumed that ten thousand years would make for incompatible technology. Then again, much of the Psilon’s computer technology had come from research done on Orion itself.


 

“We must take this to Orion,” the ancient continued. “The information on this device will allow you to control the ship that protects our home world.”


 

“That ship is destroyed,” Destair said plainly seeing no point in hiding that information. The alien’s eyes glowed a darker yellow this time, and for the first time Destair could sense a hint of anger in its voice. “How?” it mustered. “We destroyed it shortly after Antares returned to this galaxy.” Destair curtly replied.  “We needed its secrets.”


 

“Then your only hope is to defeat the Antarans at Antares.” the alien replied as it punched a few more sequences into his terminal.  “This additional information should be of use.”



diehardtwinsfan #26 Posted 03 September 2016 - 01:13 PM

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View PostEmP64213, on 02 September 2016 - 09:00 AM, said:

Oh, long time since last episode! I like introduction of living Orion. Did you base your story on MoO 3 or made your own? MoO 3 manual had some story about how Orions and Antarans fought, I think they were branches of the same race like Humans and Terran Khanate in this installment. Their repeating theme was race A exiled their criminals to a hostile environment and that caused them to evolve into race B and that's why A and B are mortal enemies. For example Sakkras were Trilarians exiled from oceans to the land. It's boring reasoning and I don't mind retconing it.

 

yeah, I've had it written for a while.  I'm almost done, I promise :)

 

 


 

The original idea was that this was MOO4.  After the game came out, it was obviously MOO1, so I kind of dropped a lot of the post MOO3 ideas.  Honestly, I had forgotten that the Sakkra and Trillarians were similar... though I do remember there always being a fish lizard war when those two were nearby. They hated each other.  That said, I don't remember MOO3 addressing the Antaran/Orion history. I remember the lore as that everyone thought Antares was defeated during Pax Humana only to find out they had destroyed an outpost or something like that. The Antarans slowly snuck back into the universe eventually overwhelming and defeating all races and imprisoning them on random worlds... they didn't even get their home worlds.


 

I just wanted to stay away from the "they ascended" line.  To me, that's a line that needed redacting from pretty much every sci-fi plot ever made (not a fan of the technological ending of this game either). I like the idea that the Antarans killed off the Orions long before the Orions even realized it.  The guardian is now built to preserve the secrets of a race about to die.  It also makes for interesting plots where you can occasionally bring them back in.



diehardtwinsfan #27 Posted 23 October 2016 - 10:22 PM

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The trip rendezvous with the Darlock freighter and trip into Sakkra territory went better than Destair could have hoped.  True to his word, the ancient was nearing death, and fortunately for Destair, the Orion passed away prior to meeting up with the Darloks. Destair had hoped this would be the case, as he did not want questions from the Darloks as to their unexpected guest. To help with this, he took the Captain’s liberty of choosing not to report this entry to Mentar, saving it for a later date when he could debrief the situation in a more thorough manner.  Destair suspected he’d likely receive some sort of minor note on his record for this, but it struck him as a prudent decision, and he was certain he could appeal this all the way up to Kelvim if necessary.


 

As for the Orion, it spent most of its time speaking to crew and pouring over star charts.  On a whim, Destair ordered his chief navigation officer to spend as much time with the Orion as possible. This led them to a number of interesting points for exploration as the Orion detailed out the locations of major Polarian, Orion, and Antaran cities and outposts along with the locations of other potential research labs, fuel platforms, satellites, trading hubs, a potential jump gate to another galaxy, and other objects not necessarily attached to a nearby star. While many had already been found, a few were in odd locations to say the least, some of which were still in hostile and inaccessible portions of space.  Destair had hoped that they might discover more of the ancient race; however, the Orion was certain this would not be the case. At best, they might find another being in a similar manner of preservation, but if the Orions had figured out how to overcome their condition, they would have by now. The ancient also showed them the locations of where some of the unknown species had been located. The Elodai were the most interesting of all, given their sustaining life was found beneath the surface of a gas giants. Destair wondered if the Psilons and other species had inadvertently killed them off, as gas giant compression technology was common and in heavy use. Yet so, the systems where this species was supposedly located was at this point untouched given their remote location on one of the galaxy’s outer arms, deep within Silicoid territory. The Silicoid’s slow growth rates led them to be far more interested in working on existing planets than compressing gas giants and as such, they used asteroid belts and gas giants as a means for research and income. The Orion gave them descriptions of many of the other “lost races” as the crew had begun to call them. The Ickthul were a parasitic race, one that would likely be exterminated if found.  A potential home to the Elerians would likely be another big fine. This race of matriarchs was long fabled in Human tradition, one that certainly would grab interstellar attention if found. Lastly, the Orion showed them the location of the spawning ground for space dragons. While only one such beast was known to exist, and had been destroyed by the Mrrshan, their lair was said to be located deep in the very nebula where the ancient’s outpost was found, confirming the rumors that said beasts lived not far from Nazin.  No doubt, this would provide an impressive scientific discovery should the Psilon and Darlok research treaty be rekindled.


 

As for technology, the ancient refused to reveal much. He provided Destair with some data that he said would help them defeat the Antarans, but refused to provide any additional information. “Technology was to be discovered when a race was ready and not freely given”, the Orion said repeatedly. The alien was certainly willing to allow them to explore other potential ruins and learn technology on their own, but it was not going to please the military council, especially given Destair’s decision to not report it immediately. Destair knew there was risk here if his ship was destroyed, but rather than make it a potential target while traveling through Darlok space, he chose to simply store the data as it was learned in a heavily encrypted security capsule that would do a one-time encrypted burst to the Psilons should his ship be destroyed. The system, called ETB for short, was not a commonly used technology to be certain, but specialized listening posts were setup all over Psilon territory. Their only real job was to record the transmission and send it to Mentar for decryption.  This technology had proven very useful on several occasions as exploration ships often used it to keep a running note of their logs prior to entering new systems, providing accurate data of the explored systems right up to the scout’s destruction.  Destair could only hope it would not be needed, especially given his current mission. Getting home alive was paramount to much of this.  The data that the Orion had given Destair turned out to be very little. The alien refused to explain it, stating only that they needed to learn what it meant for themselves. It appeared to be nothing more than a set of frequencies, whether that was a modulation sequence for their death rays or shields or perhaps some sort of communications beacon, Destair had no answer. His engineers had none either, and little could be done to experiment with it on this trip given the silence they needed to maintain.


 

The Orion passed less than a day before meeting up with the Darlok freighter near the Sakkra border. Its body was stored in stasis for study by Psilon scientists. No doubt they would be interested in its genetics along with what caused it to die. Strangely enough, it appeared as if it was in good health. Medical scans indicated that there was nothing wrong with the creature, though they had no data on Orion physiology save for the remains preserved on Orion itself; however, those were just bones, which told little about the race’s soft tissue, neurological capabilities, and consciousness.


 

The meeting with the Darloks was uneventful. They were equipped with the cloaking device along with a set of coordinates that were deep in Sakkra space. The device was more advanced than the device that Kelvim had used even allowing for their Damper field to remain online while in cloak, though the Darloks were clear that they could still track the movement of Destair’s ship should he deviate from course. They provided him with a means of notifying them of course changes as well should he need to adjust course for whatever reason. However, any deviation from said course would be considered an act of war. Destair suspected this was more posturing than anything else given the state of the Darlok navy and the wars they were currently fighting, but he had been ordered to cooperate fully with the Darloks, and he was not going to test the resolve of the race or any Darlok Captain that would happen upon him if by chance he diverted course.


 

The trip into Sakkra space was also surprisingly quiet. They were constantly fighting battles near Chondata, and the Antarans had incurred on several systems in their territory, including their destination:  Saak prime.  Strangely enough though, they saw little activity at all. Certainly, there would be ships near the Anataran border as well as Chondata, but no military vessels at all along their journey seemed rather strange. The lack of commercial ships to avoid was also an oddity. The Sakkra were apparently much weaker than Psilon intelligence indicated. Destair collected as much passive data as possible, but he did not want to risk any active scans that could potentially expose his location as gathering intelligence was not a stated goal of this trip.


 

Their arrival at the outskirts of the Saak system put them on high alert as they stealthily made their way to the system’s first planet. Like the rest of Sakkra territory, there was little in terms of commercial traffic. The Anatarns weren’t much for trade, so this was not much of a surprise. They did, however, have a military presence in the system which included a battleship and a half-dozen cruisers orbiting Saak III.  Destair had his ship stay as far away from there as possible as his ship had no means of combating an Antaran fleet that large. That said, the Antarans had little military presence over the other three planets in the system, a handful of Antaran frigates were in orbit of each. Destair was confident he could win a quick battle over two or three frigates. Several Psilon cruisers with similar layouts had done so in the past, but this was not a battle he planned on fighting. He had one job to do.



diehardtwinsfan #28 Posted 27 October 2016 - 12:09 AM

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“Approaching Saak prime now,” came the quiet statement from the ensign commanding the navigation helm. Destair was amused that his crew was speaking quietly, as if the Antarans could hear them speak. Regardless, stealth was their primary concern for the pickup. The coordinates they had was a location high in a relatively uninhabited mountain range located on the northern end of the planet.  Extracting their package and doing so without detection was the task at hand.


 

Destair knew from his orders that he would be picking up one passenger, a Darlok, but he had nothing else to go on other than the call sign the Darlok would present to his landing party. The landing was the tricky part. Opening the bay doors on his cruiser would negate the effects of the cloaking device, so to buy more time, they had taken refuge behind a large asteroid, dispatched the cargo ship, and mounted it on the exterior of the Ampere’s hull. That required some creativity, but this allowed the ship to be protected by the ships cloaking device prior to launch.  As well, the launch of the transport vessel would not expose them. From there, however, it was up to their pilot to evade detection of whatever Antaran sensors were on the planet.  Destair and his officers hoped that an entry near the planets northern poll along with a flight path close to the ground in its northern mountain range would provide enough cover for the small transport vessel to go undetected. It did have some evasion capability, but despite the joint efforts of both the Psilon military and science councils, there had been no success in developing cloaking technology for smaller ships. Consequently, the Ampere’s primary job was to stay in orbit and protect the ship if needs be, both in landing and takeoff. Destair’s greater concern was the Antaran fleet located only a short jump away.  Quick detection would likely lead to a mission failure. To prevent against that, the first order of business for the crew on the transport was to load the Darlok’s data pad into the ships memory and transmit it immediately in the event of a fight. Successful transmission would give Destair the option to leave the system if needed. On his end, that same data was to be loaded into the ETB system.  Destair had no idea what this Darlok was providing for the war effort, but he knew that it was of extreme importance. It was to survive, even if he and his crew did not.  That fleet concerned him though.  It was an odd placement to say the least, as there was no known Sakkra colony on Saak III. It was a huge volcanic planet with as many or possibly more minerals than Orion itself.


 

“Ready to launch on your order,” came the quiet voice of Destair’s navigation officer. 


 

“Bring us as close to the planet’s atmosphere as possible without detection,” Destair commanded.  “At that point, launch the ship.”

The crew of the freighter were already aboard, and no doubt were growing impatient as they had spent the better part of the last day trapped in their little ship. Psilons were used to cramp quarters; but even so, this would not be an enjoyable assignment.  Hopefully, it would not last much longer.


 

“Ship is away,” the communication’s officer announced.


 

“Bring us to a higher orbit. Pay close attention to all traffic.  I want to know about any ship that changes close are that may come near our transport.”  Destair watched the main battle screen for any signs of traffic. Commercial ships were noted in a green color, while the larger warships displayed in red on the 3D map of Saak.  The Antaran frigates did not appear to notice, and nothing had changed with the larger fleet orbiting Saak III.  Destair let out a sigh of relief as he watched the path of the freighter as it descended to the planet’s surface. The freighter itself was a refurbished Saakra cargo ship that had been captured during one of the many battles on Chondata. The Psilon had refitted it with modern technology, but the hope would be that it would pass for a standard Sakkra commercial vessel, one which would go unnoticed. 

“Two local vessels have broken course and appear to be headed towards our freighter,” came a statement from one of the ensigns on the navigation crew.  “Vessels appear to be planetary police force.  Intercept in 10 minutes.”  While not good news, this certainly could have been worse.  The orbit of the Antaran military ships appeared to be unchanged, which was Destair’s greater concern. The freighter was well armed, with a military grade point defense particle beam along with a cybertronic tracking system. It also had a small shield which would withstand the types of weapons found on a typical police vessel. That wouldn’t do much good against the Antaran frigates in orbit, but it would buy them time. Destair had no means of alerting them as any communication would give away his position. He could only hope the crew of the cargo ship would respond in kind. The police intercept would arrive before they reached their destination.


 

The problem at this point is that Destair had no means of knowing if the crew on his cargo ship could see what the Ampere could see.  Even if they could, they were under orders to not evade or even change speeds beyond what normal traffic would do. Anything suspicious would likely get the attention of the orbiting military vessels, and if they moved, the fleet at Saak III would follow.  A quick FTL jump would have them in weapons range in a matter of fifteen minutes, which was not enough time to complete the extraction.


 

The crew nervously watched their ship as the police vessels approached.  Their freighter followed protocol.  When the planetary police ships reached hailing distance, they acted like common criminals, speeding up to ‘avoid capture.’  This too was fine, as criminals and pirates often used remote planetary locations as staging points for various crimes.  They had mapped out this scenario. His crew had one order, and that was to buy time. As long as the issue remained a police matter, the Antaran fleet would hopefully remain unconcerned.  So far, that appeared to be the case.  Their freighter sped up, racing through the winding mountains as it approached its destination.  The mountains provided few options in terms of evasion, and anything too sophisticated would alert the military for sure. Destair could only hope that the general belief was that this was common crime.  Several more police vehicles had broken off and were headed on intercept. It would only be a matter of time now, and his crew performed as ordered, waiting until they had reached their destination to open fire, destroying the approaching police as they landed. Destair could only hope these were Sakkra police.  Even in a conquered state, the locals would be loath to notify the military any sooner than necessary; however, the weapons fire would without question be noticed by the orbiting military vessels. Within a minute one of the frigates responded, moving slowly in their direction. The fleet at Saak III remained in orbit, but was no doubt aware of a potential incident. “One Ship.” Destair thought…  That was easy enough to defeat. It would prevent boarding for certain, but their MIRVd Pulson missiles and Orion death rays would make quick work of a single frigate, quite possibly the others as well should they choose to visit. 


 

“Package is away!” came the welcome voice from the communication station. “Give them as much time as we can safely provide,” Destair ordred.  “Fire on that frigate with everything the moment it gets too close.  How soon until they arrive?”


 

“Five minutes,” came the reply.  With no need to hide, a direct route make more sense.  Cover was blown and multiple planetary police units were now on intercept as it was. Five minutes, however, was too long. The Frigate was already within weapons range. “It’s powering weapons!” came the voice of a military ensign.


 

“Blow that ship away and get us as close the package as possible!” Destair ordered.  His crew responded impressively, decloaking the Ampere and simultaneously opening fire on the unsuspecting Antaran frigate as the Ampere descended towards the planet’s upper atmosphere.  The death rays scored a direct hit with noticeable secondary explosions on the enemy ship before the Pulson missiles finished it off.  “The other frigates are headed this way!” shouted one voice as a second loudly announced that the Saak III fleet was now moving as well.  “Time,” Destair thought.  “Just a little more time.”


 

“Package secure,” came a welcome voice. “Cloak this ship and get us out of here,” Destair commanded.


 

The cloaking device engaged, but before any other order could be carried out, the view screen indicated what several voices were about to confirm: directly in front of them were three Antaran cruisers. The rest of the Antaran fleet was also present, arriving at various strategic locations around Saak prime.  “Too fast,” Destair thought as the chaos of voices from his bridge confirmed his worst fears.



diehardtwinsfan #29 Posted 31 October 2016 - 01:42 PM

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“Evasive maneuvers,” Destair ordered attempting to remain calm. He was a young Captain, and had little battle experience.  He wasn’t ideally suited for this type of mission, but casualties often forced these types of decisions.  Destair wondered quietly what Kelvim would do in this situation as he suddenly realized how unqualified he was for this position. “Can we get out of here?” he asked his navigation officer as he pondered escape options. “Not directly,” came the reply.  “Move away from those ships, see if we can find some space to jump behind that moon.”

“Where?” replied the navigations officer.


 

“I don’t care,” Destair replied.  “Just get us to a place where we can plot a safe route.” The Ampere moved as expected, threading its way around obstacles as it tried to avoid oncoming ships and the various planetary platforms known to exist. Strangely enough, the Antarans in firing range did not fire. “They have no direct lock on us,” Destair thought aloud. The other ships were now in pursuit.  “Take us around the far side of that moon,” Destair ordered. “We only need a minute. Plot a safe, short jump and execute as soon as we reach that point.”  The jump would take them further into Sakkra space, but it would buy them a chance to make a longer, calculated jump under conditions that did not involve a large Antaran fleet bearing down on them.  The crew followed orders admirably, and the Ampere rounded the moon and charged its engines. The Antaran cruisers were in close pursuit, but it was clear they could not get an easy lock until the engines started to fire.  The cruisers opened fire scattering a barrage of bursts in their general direction, with the damper field adequately absorbing the damage.  Thirty seconds later, their FTL engines engaged and took the Ampere well out of harms way.


 

“Status,” ordered Destair.


 

“No major damage,” came the reply.


 

“Plot a safe course to the Chondata system from our next jump. Do not spend any more time out of FTL than what is necessary.  Sakkra space is empty, and they cannot see us. If the Antarans are going to follow us, they can risk a Sakkra attack. I need to speak with our new guest.” Destair had barely finished speaking when he heard a distinct Darlok voice behind him.  “I’m already here.”  Turning around, Destair was confronted by a very old, yet familiar Darlok.  “You served with Kelvim when Antares was reborn.”


 

“I did, the Darlok replied.  I spent years with him and many more working to keep the Darlok/Psilon alliance together.  This will be my last act.”

It was clear looking at D’Vron that age had gotten the best of him. Once they reached a certain age, Darloks had trouble maintaining their shape. It took much more energy for them to do so, and often to lengthen what days they had left, they would spend significant amounts of time in an inert state that required no energy to maintain. Darloks did not age in the same way Humans or Psilons did. They could remain young until they could no longer hold that form. “I may never make it home,” D’Vron calmly stated as he handed the first of two data pads to Destair.  “This contains my last wishes.”


 

“And the other one?” Destair asked inquisitively?


 

“A means to defeat Antares,” came the reply.



diehardtwinsfan #30 Posted 03 November 2016 - 12:34 AM

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Jones woke up to bright daylight and a throbbing pain at the site of his wound.  He was in a hospital somewhere, but exactly where he was unsure. This unit did not look anything like the hospitals in Orion City.  Still groggy, he attempted to gather his wits. Near him was a young, attractive Human nurse who was busy doing some sort of medical related job… what he did not know. At the door was an armed Human guard. That was a surprise. Jones slowly sat up, startling the young nurse who immediately left.  The guard remained and refused to respond to Jones, though in truth Jones was not sure how coherent he sounded.  After a few minutes of pain, he fell back unconscious only to be awoken at some point later by the sound of voices.


 

Opening his eyes this time, he slowly surveyed the room. The guard remained, though now several individuals were seated at a small round table a few feet from his bed. “He’s awake again,” came a soft female voice.  “This will help with the pain.” Jones slowly turned to see the young nurse beside him, administering some sort of drug into an IV tube. Whatever the drug was, its effect was quick.  The throbbing pain was already starting to dull.  Mentally, he was quickly getting his bearings, though physical movement was much more slow and painful. This was beneficial. He had no idea where he was, how he got there, or why he was moved. Standard protocol would have put him under guard at the Orion City Medical Center. He was not there. 


 

Jones thought back to his last memories, but they were few. Culso, or perhaps a Darlok in disguise, had helped him out of his apartment, but he did not remember making it out of the building.  He must have passed out. “Where am I?” Jones feebly asked.  The men at the table had stopped speaking and were now paying attention. 


 

“You’re quite the sensation right now,” came a familiar voice though Jones could not see the man’s face as he still had his back to him.  “You’re the only Human on record to have killed a Darlok spy, and now you’ve killed a second,” the man continued. Jones was going to use his condition to his fullest advantage feigning grogginess while his mind was working at the speed of light. He did not kill the Darlok in his apartment, but clearly these people thought he had. This was fine, Darloks and Humans were at war.  Jones attempted to force a smile, but the pain made that difficult.  “My niece,” the voice continued, “has spoken rather highly of you.  Setting that aside for a moment, can you explain this data stick?”  Jones paused for a long time. It was not his, at least not that he could remember.  Perhaps the Darloks slipped it into his possessions.  He remembered nothing after the attack.  For all he knew, this could be a ploy. Fortunately, the man continued interrupting the rather uncomfortable pause. “It has some fairly damning information, much of which corroborates the official Darlok position.  Where did you get this information?”


 

“My investigation of these events is not complete yet,” Jones stumbled.  “And you know I cannot let you know my sources” Jones feebly replied. 


 

“Not even to me?”  The man turned and Jones instantly recognized why the voice was familiar.  It was none other than Chancellor Collins himself sitting at the foot of his bed.


 

“You and I both know that revealing sources, even to you, is the surest way to get them killed,” Jones replied.  Perhaps he was a bit too unfazed, but the terse response was a rather unexpected reply to a man used to getting his way.  The Chancellor paused for a second before cracking a faint smile.  “I can see why she likes you.  You have wit, something Andrea values.  I had Ms. Schnell assigned to you in part to keep her out of danger, yet somehow, she finds it anyways.  Truthfully though, you’ve done well in giving her some real work that she can find useful to carve out a career of her own.”  Jones was a bit surprised too, and his lack of response caused Chancellor Collins to continue. “She was the only good thing that came out of my first marriage.  My wife’s sister’s daughter.  She’s smart and very dedicated.  She’s also convinced that we are on the wrong side of this war, and she got many of those doubts from you,” the Chancellor stated somewhat accusingly.


 

“I have my doubts, but those remain un-validated” Jones replied in as feeble of a manner as he could.  He did not dare state much more.  This was dangerous ground, especially not knowing what was on that data stick. It could be just as much true as it could be a complete fabrication.  The Chancellor was an interesting character to say the least. His first marriage and divorce had been well publicized during his time in the Human Senate. That included several rumored dalliances with romantic paramours. Perhaps “niece” was code for “daughter.”  That, though, would have to wait for another day, and it was not worth the political suicide that Jones would risk pressing that subject.

“You’re fortunate that Andrea called me,” the Chancellor continued. “Following protocol might have insured your death, if what is on this data stick is true. You’re safe in my home while its contents can be investigated.”

Not remembering any of the journey, Jones felt it best to change the subject. “I remember nothing except the attack.  How long have I been out?”


 

“It has been over a week,” came the reply from the nurse standing next to him. Jones had forgotten about her and was startled slightly by her reply. The Chancellor continued… “A lot has changed.  My own Vice-Chancellor is currently under investigation based on your data, along with several key military advisors, but you should know that already. The Bulrathi have made peace with the Darloks just yesterday. It was costly for them, surrendering some key choke point systems near the Mrrshan boarder along with 20 cycles of costly war reparations, but losing half of your fleet will do that. The Mrrshan picked up an entire Bulrathi system in the conflict as well, and the only thing protecting them from more incursion is their fight with the Silicoids and the fact that the Bulrathi surrendered those systems to Nazin knowing the Mrrshan wouldn’t risk a war crossing them. But what I want to know is how you, doing counter-espionage, managed to get so much information on this Antaran plot.”


 

“I still have ears around the galaxy,” Jones carefully replied, “but as I said before, much of the information I had has not been confirmed. If it had, I would have acted, but I hear whispers all the time, most of which are false, and that is even more true when you’re at war with the Darloks.”  Jones was sure now the data was a Darlok plant. He did not want to own it, whether it was true or not.  Last he needed was to be responsible for some Darlok lie.


 

“We’ve confirmed much of it,” the Chancellor continued. “Mentar announced recently that the individuals named in your reports have been arrested for treason, as has Nazin and Fierras. The Silicoids have confirmed that Antares has incurred on some of their remote planets, as have the Meklar and Klackon.  Antares has been moving quietly taking remote planets that are hard to defend, all of which are near black holes. The Silicoids have stated that Antares is actively recruiting Silicoid workers for a ‘better life’ on Saak III.  Apparently, instead of inhabiting that volcano, they are relocating Silicoid civilians to this planet, which is some sort of utopia to their species…  all to build ships.  Everything that can be validated has been so far.  Your work has been impressive.”


 

Jones was taken back by the statement. The Darloks must have had quite the collection of information, and given their war with Humans, it made sense to plant it. The Chancellor had fallen into the trap assuming the information was legitimate. Jones had the perfect cover if it was not. Regardless, there was little he could now to change the course of history, though for once he heard the Chancellor say something requiring a new action.


 

“The real war is with Antares,” the Chancellor stated.  “As luck would have it, the Psilons told the Senate today that they had a means to attack them, and they were willing to freely give the technology to any race that would join them.”



diehardtwinsfan #31 Posted 08 November 2016 - 03:13 PM

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Admiral Kelvim stared out at the vast expanse not far from the Cretarch black hole.  This black hole was the largest known object in the galaxy and received its name from the Sakkra explorer that discovered it. From a view screen, there was not much to see. While stars were visible all around, a small circular section showed no light.  To the untrained eye, it was easy to miss. Magnified, it was more noticeable, yet for some strange reason this phenomenon of astronomy was strangely hypnotic.  Perhaps it was due to the enormous amount of power that the object contained or that black holes routinely kidnapped unwary travelers with out of date maps. Traveling near one was always dangerous, and the Psilons were about to attempt a feat that no known explorer had yet to do.  They were going to travel through one.


 

It had been a month since the young Psilon Captain had returned Kelvim’s old friend to Chondata. That month had been a whirlwind of activity. Time is a fickle mistress, and that was even more true during times of war and peace. For years, Kelvim had had his fleet stationed in one or two locations, dealing with an occasional space battle with the Sakkra or quarterly trips to Mentar. Much of that time though was spent in meetings or on the deck of the Titan warship he used to observe his battles. For the last few years, time was something he had plenty of. The last month, however, was not so kind. His old friend passed away shortly after arriving at Chondata, and while Psilons were not sentimental creatures, Kelvim personally handled the arrangements at D’Vron’s request.  Kelvim rarely attended funerals, but it was respect for his friend that kept him personally involved. Not surprisingly, this funeral became a matter of state for the Psilons, with many diplomats and politicians in attendance. What was surprising was that it was also a matter of state for the Darloks. 


 

After the rebirth of Antares, D’Vron had given much of his life to keeping the Darlok-Psilon alliance intact, even though neither race fully trusted him, though for differing reasons. The Psilons did not trust him because he was a Darlok, and the Darloks did not trust him because he was born and raised under governance of the Quanta and served in the Psilon military for many solar cycles. D’Vron had spent the better part of a decade working with Darlok and Psilon scientists unlocking the secrets of xentronium armor, the damper field, and the Antaran particle beam, all while doing his best to be loyal to both races. The breakup of the alliance left D’Vron without a true race to call his own. In an attempt to preserve a relationship with both races, D’Vron volunteered for the deep cover mission to steal the secrets of traveling through black holes.  This final mission had lasted more than a decade, during which time Kelvim’s only contact with D’Vron was through status reports. Those efforts earned D’Vron the trust he never had with either species, even though he would never benefit from it.  The destruction of Nazin played a large part in this. Most of the Cabal’s high command were killed when the Bulrathi and Humans attacked Nazin. This turned out to be a blessing for D’Vron in a way as many of the scientists and engineers that he worked with after the rebirth were moved to positions of prominence after Nazin’s destruction. As such, it became a matter of state to the Darlok cabal as well.  Kelvim was further surprised to learn that one said engineer had been the mother of a son that D’Vron had never known. As he learned, it had seemed best to her to not disclose the child’s father for both her sake and his.  Now, she was the chief science minister for the Cabal in charge of overseeing the entire empire’s research.

Beyond matters of state, the information brought back to Kelvim from Captain Destair was also impressive. Several ancient sites had been discovered with this data including the location of a crude jump gate that created a one-way, unstable wormhole to another galaxy.  The Psilons had only begun their research on this object, but it seemed to be able to send a traveler to one of five different galaxies.  The precise destination, at this point, seemed random.  Not surprisingly, automated scout ships were being built rapidly for the sole purpose of investigating what might exist on the other side. At the same location was a massive half-finished jump gate. One could only speculate that a plan was in place to ferry travelers between multiple galaxies in a less random fashion. The devices had been camouflaged well, built on the edge of an asteroid field in deep space.  They were made from the same material, so passing scans did not notice. At this point, no one knew how the Orions had hoped to power the super gate.  The smaller jump gate used technology like what they had today; and as such, it powered back on easily.  Given its age, perhaps some Orions had left to explore and colonize other galaxies before the great plague killed off their people.  The idea that this race might still be alive was intoxicating. 


 

While the Orion history was certainly of interest, it was the political climate of today that contained the most unknowns. A human spy in Orion City had apparently uncovered a massive Antaran plot to keep the galaxy at war while quietly consuming it.  That act now had the attention of all the races, and a temporary truce had been with an agreement to unify and attack Antares.  However, it was clear that the agreement had no teeth. The Sakkra, as it turned out, had very little of their fleet left. The Antarans had been frequently moving into their space to destroy war ships that wandered too close. The rest had been engaged near Chondata, but the Sakkra had also been heavily infiltrated by Antares, with many of the key decision makers in the war efforts under the influence of Antaran power who continued ordering attacks against the Psilon positions in the core. The smaller ship losses were often covered up and attributed to various issues, and as such, they had little to offer. They had provided escorts to fleets to the Cretarch black hole, but that of itself was laughable. They had little to offer.  Their prize battleship was in bad need of repair, and besides the one battleship, they had nothing but cruisers and destroyers. Kelvim was certain that only one the three witches of death, a nickname given to the three Titans in the Psilon fleet, could take on their entire fleet by itself.


 

The Bulrathi fleet had largely been destroyed.  Admiral Virsch had taken out most of what they sent in retaliation for their attack on Nazin. They pledged a few token ships, though at this point, none had arrived as they had to keep the rest home to protect against the Mrrshan, who also provided only a few token ships. The Mrrshan seemed quite happy to retain their fleet as the Bulrathi losses put them on a much better footing with their ancient foe.  The Meklar was another unknown.  They did not seem to care much about the affairs of the galaxy. They expected a few Meklar ships, but so far, none had shown up.


 

The Silicoids, on the other hand, had surprised Kelvim, sending their entire 3rd fleet to the black hole. This was the smallest of their four fleets, if Psilon intelligence was to be believed.  It was, however, sizable in number, making it the 3rd largest fleet present. The Silicoids were blessed with the ability to build massive amounts of ships, but the ships were also the weakest in terms of their technology. Even this though had to be secured with concession, namely Saak III, the volcanic supergiant that Antarans were using to house relocated Silicoid civilians. Getting the Sakkra to concede there had been difficult, even though they had never settled the planet. It required rather hurried diplomatic dispositions with the Humans, Psilon, and Darlok. As well, it included a military defense pact with the Psilons in the event of a Silicoid incursion into Sakkra space. The Human negotiators, who mediated much of the agreement had no doubt worked many hours to secure it.


 

The Klackon were an unknown. Kelvim expected little from them as well as the Terran Alliance which was too small and too outdated to fight as years of their own wars had cost them dearly in terms of both technology and the ability to expand.


 

That left the Darloks and Humans, both of which were sending sizable fleets, and both of which needed to be separated. There was still too much animosity there, though the Human turnabout on these issues had been impressive. The Darloks were sending most of their fleet, led by Virsch himself. The Humans were sending about half of their fleet, making it the second largest fleet next to the Psilon contribution. Kelvim had hoped to leave more of his ships behind, but all of his capital ships and most of his cruisers and destroyers had been committed.  He wasn’t certain how the Psilon military council would agree to what could only be considered madness.  Failure here would likely mean the end of the Quanta, but the concessions were apparently worth it. Several uncolonized border systems in disputed had been granted to Mentar, essentially protecting their new-found jump gates.  Some sort of Antaran technology rights had been granted as well, though Kelvim did not know what that entailed. Perhaps the military council was confident in their ability to rebuild a fleet quickly, as ship yards at Orion and several other Psilon systems were capable of mass producing smaller ships. The larger capital ships though could not be made as fast, and Kelvim’s three Titans, along with all twelve of his battleships were being committed to the fight.


 

The stolen black hole technology, now being shared with all races, was changing how interstellar travel was being considered. Apparently, these black holes were all connected in some manner, creating what could only be described as a cavernous shortcut to many parts of the globe. Traveling through them had been impossible up until recently, and now all races had the ability to create some sort of anti-gravity bubble.  The device, however, required no engines as they relied on the force of the black hole’s gravity to propel them through the ‘tunnels’.  Mapping the network had been somewhat more difficult, but their automated drones were capable of accomplishing this feat, giving this fleet the ability to pass through all three of the black holes protecting Antares. No matter where the Antaran’s main fleet was stationed, it would be flanked. Kelvim was certain they would need this advantage as no one knew the size of the fleet on the other side, and they would not know until they arrived.






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