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The Noveim, a Psilon story


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diehardtwinsfan #1 Posted 12 January 2016 - 08:24 PM

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"Engage the engines" Captain Cyresvus Kevlim III ordered, "It's time to begin our mission".  What exactly that mission was, Kevlim did not know.  He was given a set of coordinates from his new science officer and was told he'd be briefed as his need to know changed.  His Psilon military commanders were not usually less than forthcoming about their missions, especially since Kevlim's assignments rarely operated under any sort of official capacity. Everything about this assignment had been odd.  He was ordered to bring his ship to the planet's surface under secrecy, but instead of docking in the Psilon shipyards over Mentar, he was told to land it at a remote, no-governmental facility in Haldron to complete a refit of his ship.  Given the nature of the wars that the Psilons were fighting, refits tended to happen rapidly in ship yards, and rarely were they given a complete overhaul.  While it was mostly welcomed, his crew was not used to having some extended leave, especially this crew, which was one of the few mixed-race crews in the Psilon fleet for both battle prowess and their espionage capabilities.


 

This particular leave had lasted nearly a month. Returning to the ship was a bit of a welcome. His Psilon crew embraced this willingly, most of whom travled to Ampere for a time of self-reflection and simple labor.  His Darlock contingent had a bit more difficulty given that the Psilon empire's current state with the Darlock Cabal could only at best be described as cordial. Their relationship was one more built out of convenience than mutual respect, and while their non-aggression agreement had been in play for nearly 50 of Mentar Prime's solar cycles, there was still quite a bit of natural distrust between the species. What kept them together was that both empires were fighting multiple wars which gave both sides enough incentive to put aside their differences, but it was hardly the foundation for trust. Kelvim had no issues with trust among his team, they had been fighting together for 3 cycles now and had been through more than enough dangerous missions, and their loyalty to him and the Psilon Empire was not in question. Outside of the walls of his ship though, that was different. He was fortunate that the 10 Darlocks on his crew were mostly engineers.  As such, chief engineer V'dron volunteered to keep them with the ship overseeing the refit.  For the most part, that worked fine, as Darloks, like Psilons, were not ones to enjoy creature comforts and lavish food.  That still didn't prevent a half-dozen minor brawls among his team and some locals in Haldron's only recreation district.  Unfortunately, that was the best news. The Alkari defector (both a pilot and junior engineer) spent a week in a local jail. He frequently had to visit local police to remove one or more of his humans from their custody, and even his Bulrathi battle commander Durol, a hired mercenary, could never seem to leave the ship without an incident.


 

 

 

 

The extended length of the refit was due to a few reasons. First, the ship hadn't been through one since it had been captured.  The second was that it wasn't a Psilon ship at all. The ship had been handed to the Psilon empire by Actesh, the Alkari defector, but it had been pressed into service immediately with very little overhaul. It was also Kelvim's first and only command. How the Psilon's managed to get this ship was still a bit of a mystery. Actesh never talked about how he managed to steal it and fly it out of Alkari space on his own, nor why he fled the empire in the first place, nor why the Psilon military command was more than willing to immediately employ him on that same ship, but only noted that he would be executed on the spot if he were to ever come into contact with his species. Kelvim was mildly curious about this, but his only missions in Alkari space were clandestine in nature and he never was able to connect to the galactic network to look. Actesh, however, didn't seem like one to be doubted. He was a fine pilot, and had maneuvered this ship out of many dangerous fights, including several against significantly larger and better armed ships. He also assisted his Darlok engineers, as he was the only crew member who implicitly understood Alkari engineering. While his Darlocks were naturally suited to rapidly reverse engineering new technology, they appreciated having a crew member who understood Alkari design, as it had prevented them from making more than one mistake. 2 cycles prior, this allowed them to steal and integrate a Darlok cloaking device into the ship in a time sensitive mission that would not have been completed without Actesh's help. That device aided them on a number missions, so much so that the Psilon military council was able to override the Psilon research council and continue using it, despite the fact that this was one piece of technology that the Psilon Empire could not replicate.

 

 


 

But now finally, the refit was done. Alkari technology was well behind Psilon technology, so it was nice to see some much needed upgrades.  Their computer systems had been completely removed and replaced with significantly improved targeting, sensor, and evasion systems, as well as some custom modifications to better integrate their cloacking devices. While the main use of their ship was for hiding and running, upgrading their fusion weaponry to basic phasors was a welcome change, but given how that this ship carried very little long range weapons, it wouldn't matter much.  It was the improvements in their point defense weaponry and the new Neutronium armor plating that would make Kelvim sleep easier at night. Their shields were also upgraded to the newest shielding technology that Psilon scientists had, but even that had proven incompatible with their cloaking device, forcing them to drop their shields while cloaked. They were given a new FTL drive as well, which on average could get them to their destinations 30% faster than their previous engine, and their sub-light engines were upgraded too. Kelvim still did not understand how Alkari engineering, with inferior sub-light engines could perform better than some of the fastest Psilon ships, but the improved sub-light was very noticeable once they left they cleared Mentar prime and conducted their first tests.  Lastly, their ship was given a name: The Noveim, in honor of commander Tristus Noveim VI who perished in their last mission 3 months earlier. Those changes were all fairly straight forward and welcome. However, the other changes were odd. One of their two fighter bays was refitted with state of the art lab equipment, as well as a science crew and his new science officer, while the other saw it's fighters removed in favor of cargo ships.  While the Noveim was not bred for fighting, Kelvim very much preferred using his automated fighter drones to divert and/or distract his enemies long enough to complete it's mission and run. Instead, these fighters were replaced with 2 unarmed cargo transports.  Kelvin also received a security compliment. He was used to running his ship largely unmanned. This time however, he had security on board as well as a small contingent of heavily armed ground troops.  This meant that the entire habitation pod would be full, with most of his crew now needing a bunk mate. The Psilons and Darlocks on board weren't ones for creature comfort, but his Human crew was not as amused, nor were they looking forward to carrying much less food varieties in exchange for Psilon nutrium.  And tensions, well if shore leave was any indication, tensions would likely be high. Kelvim was hoping this would be a quick mission, though given the changes to his cargo bay, he suspected otherwise.



ElPozoleOlmeca #2 Posted 12 January 2016 - 09:14 PM

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Oh interesting....thank you for sharing!

diehardtwinsfan #3 Posted 13 January 2016 - 02:44 PM

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"Again?" Kelvim said inexplicably as the Noveim dropped out of FTL. "Correct" replied Actesh.  "She's changed our course once again." The Psilon were generally considered a patient species, more so than their Human and Bulrathi counterparts, but even this was beginning to tax the limits of Kelvim's patience. Their original course had them headed to the heaviest populated spaceport in the Chondata system, without cloak.  They remained there for several days and were instructed to make no attempts at being invisible using the ship to hunt out some pirates in the area.

 

Chondata was heavily poplulated, very strategic, and tenatively under Psilon control.  The Psilon, Alkari, Darkock, and Human empires had all controlled the system at one point as it existed within a short FTL jump of all four empires, but it's main value, or cause for concern depending on who you asked, was the two stable wormholes that provided instantaneous travel to separate systems on the other end of the galaxy.  It was originally settled by the Human empire, but during the great expansion they want to war with the Alkari and Darlock. It changed hands several times, and as a consequence, the 3 habitable planets in the system had a mixture of all four races, and it also happened to be where Kelvim's Darlock and Human crews were from.  Both empires were more interested in controlling the system to get access to the systems on the other end of the wormholes, but their war with each other quickly turned into a war with more aggressive species on the other sides of the wormholes. A race of rock like species known as the Silicoids discovered and claimed the planets on the other end of the first wormhole, while a lizard like species known as the Sakkra were at the end of the second wormhole. Both the Humans and Alkari had colonized several planets on the other side of the wormholes when they engaged these species. The Psilons, while bordering Chondata, had been focusing their efforts colonizing one of the spiral arms of the galaxy, while "officially" staying neutral in the Human-Alkari war. It worked out well for the Psilons as they were able to colonize a number of stars before reaching a choke point system that appeared to be protected by a highly advanced, well armed ship which, for lack of a better term, they called a Guardian. While they had dealt with and defated several types of space monsters, this particular ship was too advanced to destroy, so the Psilons simply colonized every nearby system content to let the Guardian serve to protect their border. During this colonization, the Sakkra and Silicoids both invaded Chondata, as well as completely eliminating the Human and Alkari presence in the other quadrants of the galaxy with the Sakkra eventually taking Chondata. This invasion allowed for an alliance of sorts between the 4 empires. The Psilons, being the most technologically advanced, led a campaign to expell the Sakkra from Chondata, but at great cost to all four empires.  Nearly 1/4 of the entire Psilon navy was destroyed during that invasion with their Human and Alkari friends suffering high casualties as well. Psilon ground troops captured Chondata 1 and 2 while the Human empire successfully freed Chondata 3. A large fleet of Human and Psilon ships were stationed there, which made the trip odd, but their stay was short lived. Both the Silicoids and Sakkara frequently sent warships to Chondata to test and weaken it's defenses. Within 6 days of their arrival, 20 Silicoid warships traveled through the wormhole and attacked the star base that was under construction at that location. The Noveim, was ordered to engage, but on reaching the battle scene, science officer Slaysalla Serene XII ordered them to cloak, drop some debris, stop all outbound communications, and head to an uninhabited neutron star on the Psilon-Alkari boarder that was 3 days away via FTL. The ruse worked as the crew's listeners picked up the Noveim's name in the casualty reports, officially listed as MIA and presumed dead.


 

Kelvim wasn't fond of the idea that Serene had control over where the ship was headed. It wasn't unusual for science officers to have control of ships in the Psilon empire, but it was unusual that a science officer had this much control over a military vessel. Kelvim was used to sharing power, protocol on the Noveim allowed for Durol, his Bulrathi battle officer, to command the ship operations while Kelvim took on a more strategic role (which usually involved sending out the retreat order as the Bulrathi officer was not one to back down from a conflict, even when he should). Serene was no ordinary Psilon though. She came from one of the more storied Psilon families, who claimed they could trace their lineage back to the "3rd age" of their people. That, however, was very controversial.  While artifacts on Mentar indicated the presence of former great empires including some sort of massive war between a species known as the Orions and another known as the Antarans, Serene was claiming that this was the 4th age of her people.  It was considered consensus that the Psilons had lived in one previous age or perhaps two, and while they were convinced that the Orions and Antarans existed at one point, the stories of their existence were more myth than history. All Psilon history books referred to this present expansion as the 2nd age, though neither the Humans nor the Alkari indicated any such history.

After arriving at the Neutron star, Serene ordered the Noveim to an asteroid belt and requested that they scan for energy signatures. They found none.  From there, they proceeded cloaked to a second uninhabited neutron star deeper into Alkari space and proceeded with the same scan and again found nothing. Serene was clearly very intent on looking for something, and unable to find it, she plotted course to a 3rd uninhabited star near the Alkari-Darlock border. They had found nothing there, and now Serene was ordering them back to the second star they had visited.  "Send her to my ready room, and have Dural and V'Dron meet us there." Kelvim ordered, "It's time we learned more about this". Serene was clearly operating on her own time, and when she arrived two hours later, Kelvim was clearly losing patience, Durol had left, and only the ever patient V'Dron remained. Normally, he'd at least have a clue as to what they were looking for, but thus far, he and his crew had been kept in the dark, and he wanted to know more. Serene arrived in his room clearly annoyed with his request. She was short for a Psilon, standing only 4 and 1/2 feet tall and her gray skin did not do much to hide the 200 Mentar solar cycles that she had lived.

 

"I suppose at this point I can fill you in a bit more," she drawled. "The secrecy is very much needed, as what we are looking for could potentially go well beyond any technology we currently possess.  My corporation was doing some Seismic research in a remote area of Mentar Prime when our scans noticed some sort of underground structure. The structure was well concealed, and we honestly wouldn't have noticed it except that it we were trying to examine the fault lines from multiple angles and the information we were getting back was contradictory due to a distortion field employed by the structure. That resulted in additional types of scans. We eventually were eventually able to identify a structure by the low amounts of Beta radiation it was emitting. .."


 

"Anti-matter technology," interrupted the normally quiet D'Vron. "Correct," Serene replied. "It was a power supply."  It took nearly a month to drill to the structure, and our technology was unable to penetrate it once it was exposed. More than 30 workers lost their lives over the next three months as we attempted to gain access to it, hundreds more were injured. After some intense scans and research, we found what appeared be a means of unlocking it. It required DNA to unlock... specific DNA.  My DNA." For centuries most Psilons had eschewed normal reproduction in favor of genetic cloning, so much so that their species had a real problem with genetic similarities as the variety in their gene pool was slowly being eliminated. Serene's lineage was one of the few that still believed in normal reproduction, and much in line with being able to trace their lineage back beyond the dark age into a previous age. It wasn't without cost. She was known to have had a dozen miscarriages or still births in her lifetime and in 200 years of age, had only 2 surviving children, one of whom was very weak, but if a family would have possessed a genetic key, it would have been hers. Regardless of this, Kelvim wanted to know what they found. "Inside was a rather large library. We were hoping for technological secrets. The data caches have yet to yield that. The power supply, however, was anti-matter based, as D'Vron noted. It is the basis for your new engines as the propulsion/power technology was something our scientists could only prove in theory.  The library, however, was far more interesting. It had data stores which chronicled what I believe to be our 2nd age. It had extensive recordings of a Psilon empire that eventually became a part of a human empire known as 'Pax Humana'.  They also spoke of two ancient species, which we all know as the Orions and Antarans. The Orions managed to build some sort of Dimensional portal to eliminate the Antarans. It said something else," she paused.  "The Antarans survived." That, was a bit different history than what Kelvim remembered reading. Granted he was only 50 solar cycles old and history was never his thing, but everything history told them of both species was that they had long since died out in some sort of cosmic war. "The library had a location of the Antaran home world," she said, carefully watching their reaction. It was near the center of the galaxy relatively close to a rather largue nebulae. The Orions built the portal in 3 uninhabited star systems and used the stars to power the device. The history records that the planets in all 3 systems were crushed by the power output and the stars collapsed in on themselves becoming Neutron stars..."

"There's more than one Nebulae in the galaxy," Kelvim interrupted, "and plenty of neutron stars. If all of this happened as you say, this would could have been 50000 years ago."

"We considered that," Serene replied, "but this area is still the only one that fits the description. Pax Humana supposedly found it as well and used the technology they discovered there to cement their power.  We need it, even though we aren't sure what we are looking for, but I think as you know, our situation is far from ideal.  Based on our scans, the Sakkra possess far more planets than any other species we have encountered so far, and they seem to be able to build ships much faster than we do.  The Silicoids do as well, as both species have had little preventing their expansions in the outer rings of the galaxy. Our friendship with the Alkari and Darlocks is tentative at best and the Alkari are slowly being swallowed up by the Bultrathi and while the Darlocks are faring better, peace with the Bulrathi seems impossible. The only thing preventing the Bulrathi from swallowing the Alkari is that they are at war with two other species that we've yet to open relations with. We don't see any evidence of anything in the galaxy's 3rd ring, but that is blocked by a massive alien ship. We need more planets if we want to maintain our technological advantage, and as of now, there's nowhere left to go short of a war with the Alkari and their allies in Nazin, one which we cannot fight while simultaneously fighting the Sakkra and Silicoids even if the Humans join us. As such, the High Council has given me complete authority to spend as much time as needed to find something... anything. You and your crew have shown to be adept in battle, especially against worse odds, but also very adept in espionage.  We are beyond the point where the empire needs to steal anything from someone else, but your skills seem bested suited for hiding and discovery of which you've done well these last 3 cycles."

 

While not what he expected, that conversation left a lot to think about. If the Antaran's had survived, were they dead now or was this quest for knowledge likely to trigger a new enemy?  Kelvim knew that the war effort was not that ideal. While being technologically superior, the Psilon population was considerably lower than most of the other empires, and the geography of the galaxy would not them expand further. That directly affected their ability to maintain that superiority. Diverging resources into the war effort wasn't helping either.  More effort building ships meant less efforts at research. While Psilons tended to refer discovery the old fashioned way, knowledge was still supreme in their culture. Finding something that could jumpstart a new line of research or provide a much needed weapon would earn his crew a place in the history books.  Every military commander wanted that, even the ones who had no place for reading them.



diehardtwinsfan #4 Posted 13 January 2016 - 09:34 PM

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The discovery task went on and on. Kelvim would have liked to believe that this would be a shorter ordeal, but it was only until they had approached nearly a quarter cycle of exploration where they finally started making progress.  The time prior hadn't been fruitless. They had discovered a pirates cache in an asteroid belt near one of the neutron stars. Typically this type of discovery went straight to the empire reserves, but given the need for secrecy and that it was relatively small in size, Kelvim and Serene both agreed that it could be shared equally among the crew. Kelvim was a bit more concerned in that it was clear evidence someone had been to this system at some point, though the cache was clearly very old. The cache contained mostly rare gems, gold, and currency. The currency was very interesting as some of it was unrecognizable, while other pieces were something his Human crew referred to as 'antique'.  There was no Psilon currency there, but there was Human, Alkari, Darlock, and even some Bulrathi currency in the cache, though it had to be at least 150 cycles old.  Given the conditions, morale was a low, but this gift lightened the spirits of the Human crew. Even the Psilons and Darlocks on board liked the idea of being able to buy some creature comforts when they were able to return home.

They had spotted other anomalies as well. On their first few passes through the system, they did not really notice, but their computer calculations for distance traveled and their actual time were always off. The trips between the 3 stars took longer than they should have, as if they weren't taking a direct route.  It wasn't a huge amount of time, typically a few hours, but it varied from jump to jump without any reasonable scientific explanation. Recalibrating the computers did nothing, and even their tests after their refit indicated no issue when traveling in known space. Something was slowing their speed, and it wasn't the Nebula near by. Serene's inability to maintain attention to one site was complicating this as well as adding annoyance to Kelvim and his crew. She constantly wanted to check out a different site.

Likewise, the debris systems around all 3 neutron stars were nearly identical in size. The amount of asteroids were consistent with that of a small moon, not planets as Serene's history indicated. About 10 solar days prior, they decided to use one of their transports to take a sample of this floating rock, only to discovery that it wasn't a rock at all. It was some type of metal, and one they had never encountered before. Melting it down and reforming it in their research lab had proven impossible to date, though closer examination indicated that this metal was a specialized mix of known materials, including Neutronium, as well as unknown materials.  Since it's discovery, Neutronium was rapidly being used to replace Psilon armor plating. On it's own, it was already rare, being found only on a few select planets and asteroid systems.  The process of forging it into useful parts was also very expensive. But this metal was much stronger. Serene and Kelvim agreed to take the risk of seeing what it could do in battle, so they ordered the Noveim to target it with it's beam weapons. The weapons did very little to the material. The Noveim's weapons were more for point defense purposes, but even it's main Phasor cannon didn't seem to do much damage. Kelvim was a bit concerned about attracting attention, though there had been no signs of activity in any of the systems. Durol, on the other hand, was quite happy to fire his new weapons. It was obvious that he was itching to do some damage on something, and he didn't want members of his crew to be targets of the Bulrathi's rage.

The metal alone might have been worth the trip, except that they had thus far been unable to figure out how to make, or at least recycle that metal. There was enough debris around the 3 stars to outfit every remaining ship in the Psilon fleet 100 times over. Mining it might be tricky given that these stars were in Alkari space near the Darlock border, but Kelvim was pretty sure the Alkari would allow the Psilons access to it in exchange for enough armor of their own as their war efforts were not going well. Even so, Kelvim suspected that the value of this material might be enough to justify a war with the Alkari and likely Nazin in short order once enough of their ships had been fitted with the material.  The Psilon's weren't known for their trickery, but the quest for knowledge and technology was one of the few things that could unify the science and military councils.  The discovery also made Serene very happy as she had something to dedicate her research staff's attention. That, however, was only the beginning of the discovery. After closer examination, Serene and D'Vron had all concluded that this metal was not naturally occurring. They were looking at the wreckage of a ship. The sheer amount of the wreckage made Kelvim think it was a fleet of ships, but closer analysis seemed to indicate that it was just one very large ship.

Serene noted that her newly discovered histories had mentioned large fleets of ships called "Doom Stars" which were the size of a small moon and could even create their own gravity wells. Kelvim was a bit skeptical, but they were already re-writing history and starting to re-write Serene's newly discovered history. To Kelvim, this was a bit unsettling. If the weapons on these ships were as even remotely as advanced as the structure and armor of the ship, just one of these ships could conquer the entire galaxy. The idea that 3 such ships existed at one point was something Kelvim could not comprehend.  D'Vron was unaware of any shipyard that could be an object that large, and even if that was doable, he suspected it would take nearly 100 solar years to complete. What was more disturbing was that these 3 ships might have been used to envelop an entire star system into another dimension. Not only was this technology something that no scientist could even fathom, but Kelvim's military background wondered if it would be wiser to just leave things alone. Psilons, like most species, tended to gravitate towards questions of 'Can you' instead of 'Should you' which invariably had bad consequences. It was their discovery and use of fusion weapons that created a galactic arms race towards acquiring them, though most agreed that this discovery would have eventually been made by other species too. This, however, was a bit different. Kelvim was fairly certain it would be wise to not wake the space dragon.  Serene was not as convinced. She believed that the Antarans had already returned during the 3rd age, though she had no reasonable explanation for why or how they disappeared again. Her views of these additional ages were already well outside of consensus, and Kelvim didn't see the need to add additional ages to what was already a very clouded history. Dating the metal was also difficult. It was relatively easy to date a metal whose composition was known, but not knowing the composition of the material made this nearly impossible. Serene's scientists settled in on the Neutronium within the material using known methods for dating neutronium, but even those attempts varied wildly saying this wreckage was made between ten and fifty thousand cycles ago.

Additional study of the ship wreckage yielded little in terms of potential technology. The ships appeared to have exploded with the violent force of the heat from the stars. It did not appear that any of the materials within the ships had survived.  All of the "soft" systems were completely gone, and none of the ship fragments were large enough to house much of anything, but today would yield other discoveries. It was D'Vron who speculated that perhaps their custom cloaking device and new anti-matter engines were creating noise that their sensors could not filter. His solution, much to the consternation of Durol, Actesh, and Kelvim was to power them both down and run some detailed scans. This would leave them completely visible to any ships within several parsecs of the region, not to mention defenseless if someone paid them a visit. While their sub-light engines would continue to work, their FTL engines took about 2 hours from a complete power down to usability, as such, they were never powered off completely, but hibernated to allow FTL jump within 15 minutes of coming out of hibernation as well as much quicker if they were never hibernated to begin with. Add to it that these new engines were not something his crew was intimately familiar with, Kelvim assumed that alone was not worth the risk.  The cloaking device was another matter. It didn't render the ship invisible per say, but things in the blackness of space were rarely visible, as such there were few windows on their ships or any ship for that matter.  Visibility outside the ship was accomplished via large network of externally mounted cameras that could focus a lens on whatever location their computer wanted to target. The only way to see a ship in space was for it to be lit and close, which only really happened at space ports, combat, and salvage missions. Even with a cloaking device, you could track a ship's movements if it eclipsed the light of a star or nearby object, but even that was momentary, disrupted by the device, and took far more than just the naked eye. The cloaking devices main purpose was to prevent detection in scans and befuddle targeting computers. Kelvim didn't like the idea of being unable to FTL quickly as well as being an easy target for even a scout ship. Their location in a remote part of space unfortunately was all Serene needed to conclude it was worth the risk, and in the end, she was probably right as no one paid them a visit during the scan. The scan did yield some interesting results. At the epicenter between the three stars, there was a faint radioactive pulse. The pulse of note, did not appear to be random.  Not even a quarter parsec from the origin of this pulse was a signature consistent with the metal they had already been analyzing. Lastly, radiating outward from the 3 neutron stars were a large number of dark bodies.

Dark bodies were a mixture of known and unknown scientific phenomena.  What they really were was nothing more than a free floating object in space, but also very difficult to detect. They posed a big problem for traveling outside of known routes as a ship traveling at FTL could fly into one. If their gravitational well was strong enough, a ship could find itself way off course when it dropped out of FTL because it flew too close.  While not rare, these bodies were not common either, and for the most part they forced travelers to move at slower speeds on non-charted paths. Sensors could detect them when close enough and their computers could adjust course on the fly, and once the route was traveled and charted enough, it could be used freely. The problem though is that there was a strong dis-incentive to publish new routes, as it publicized any advantage the new route would provide. This even included military routes, as Psilon military vessels often traveled their own routes to stars if they discovered one that was more advantageous, and on border worlds, they never published this information. Corporate citizens, while required by law to publish routes often delayed these publications for as long as they could reasonably do. The unknown scientific phenomena was a bit more of a problem, as astronomy had not found a way for these objects to exist in the manner in which they do. One of the prevailing theories was that planet and star destroying weapons had caused them and the fact that there were high number of these objects near by indicated to Kelvim that perhaps this part of space had been a part of a brutal war at one time. Whatever it was, Kelvim wasn't sure he wanted any part of it.

The decision surrounding where to go next was not nearly as difficult as Kelvim expected it to be. The dark bodies, while interesting, likely weren't going to yield anything of interest from a technology perspective. That left one of two courses: the epicenter of the radioactive pulse or the debris field near by. Their navigation computers did not seem to be able to chart an easy course to either location as whatever was dampening FTL jumps between the 3 stars seemed to be stronger close to the epicenter. Simulated FTL jumps were showing that for some reason the couldn't arrive at that point, but could only arrive at a point close by and then continue there via sub-light - a journey likely to last at least two weeks with no guarantee that they could FTL out of that location if needed.  That left the debris field.  That too wasn't a straight jump, but they could get there with much less sub-light time.  There was no neutron star or even a dark body that they could see from their scans, which meant that if this was in fact a non-natural metal, then it was the result of a space battle. That fact piqued everyone's curiosity as intact or damaged systems along with intact data stores could provide an enormous technological advantage to the Psilon Empire.



diehardtwinsfan #5 Posted 14 January 2016 - 04:31 PM

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View PostEmP64213, on 14 January 2016 - 03:13 PM, said:

 

I see what you did there :D, nice job!

 

 

Since we don't know the lore, I figured it would be fun to play with it.  :)



diehardtwinsfan #6 Posted 15 January 2016 - 01:51 AM

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While D'Vron liked the idea of studying ancient technology for the purpose of discovery, this whole mission was beginning to smell worse than a Bulrathi's breath on a hot summer day. Darlocks, being minimalists whose only true knowledge was self, tended to be as Humans put it "in touch with nature" or something like that. The bottom line was that they had a keen awareness of their surroundings and could pick up on things much quicker. This new change was making his skin crawl.  The trip to the debris field had taken far longer than he would have liked.  They had spent nearly a week at sub-light speeds for a trip that should have lasted no more than two solar days.  Something was clearly dampening space travel in this particular part of space. That said, D'Vron wasn't sure if it was just problems with physics that made him wary or problems with politics. Given their communications silence, the discovery of this new metal had not yet been transmitted to Mentar, nor had their new findings. That was a bit of a blessing, but also a sense of dread as he feared what would await.

 

 

 

 

D'Vron had always been loyal to the Psilons.  His family migrated to Chondata shortly after the Darlocks took it from the Humans. When the Darlocks captured it, the human settlement had already been conquered by the Alkari. After his family moved there, the humans took it back. During D'Vron's life, Chondata was occupied by Humans, Alkari, Sakkra, and eventually the Psilons.  He wasn't alive when his family moved there and never got to experience life under Darlock rule. In his experience, Psilons were by far the most honorable of the planet's overseers granting citizenship immediately and establishing a noble rule of law. Likewise, unlike the other species, D'Vron appreciated their minimalist views, quest for knowledge, and simple things like their food.  He had been a little old for military service, but his life as an engineer was hardly fulfilling and when the Psilon military began recruiting him at age 35, it seemed like a nice change, and unlike his civil career, his military career excelled as like any Darlock, he was a natural when it came to espionage, and his engineering background was also highly valued.  He had never lived in Darlock space though, and he only traveled to Darlock space once, on a covert operation to steal the cloaking device his ship now used. Even though he was essentially born and raised in a battle zone never under the control of his people, he still harbored some feelings for them.  The Psilons weren't one to paint an evil picture of their conquered foes. He knew that what they had found here was the type of discovery that could change the course of the galaxy. The metal alone, if the Psilons could reverse engineer it, would do that, as would salvaging what they found in the debris field. D'Vron was certain that the Psilons would go to war with the Alkari over this portion of space. The Alkari and Darlock empires had a very tight alliance presently for reasons he wasn't aware of. His fear was that this war would quickly escalate to Nazin putting him in a very uncomfortable position. While Captain Kelvim certainly trusted him, he knew that trust wouldn't likely extend beyond the hull of the Noveim, and even internally he wondered if he was on the right side if war were to break out. He was certain that any species would go to war for the rights to this small sector of space and given the tenuous nature of peace in the core of the galaxy; he wasn't certain of the outcome. A war between the Humans, Alkari, Psilon, and Darlock would likely weaken them to the point that the Sakkra and Silicoids could easily overrun them. His hope was that some form of peace, whether an agreement between the Alkari and Psilons or perhaps a new alliance between the Psilons, Darlocks, and Humans would keep the casualties low and the war quick. The problem is that the Psilons weren't fond of sharing the technology they discovered as technology greed was to Psilons as financial greed was to Humans, and it was clear that Mentar would be unified in controlling this region of space.  Perhaps they would trade some technology with the Alkari for it, but he suspect that what the Psilons would give was not what the Alkari would desire.


 

The Debris field itself was exactly what they had thought it would be. It appeared to the remains of an ancient battle. They had hoped to put a date on when this battle occurred, but those attempts had thus far been impossible. Unlike the field around the 3 neutron stars, this was clearly the work of two very powerful fleets, all of which were forged with that same metal.  As well, the ships were recognizable as they had destroyed each other and there appeared to be two distinct architectures.  The exterior of one set of ships was a greenish color with green and black markings, while the second fleet's colors were blue and white. Attempts to translate the languages were difficult, but Psilon scientists did seem to be making progress there as both sets of languages appeared to be possible root languages to several of the well-known languages of the galaxy, including his native Darlock tongue.  The salvage teams were a bit perplexed by the complete lack of alien bodies in the ships. Given how badly damaged the ships were, it was assumed that the natural vacuum of space would preserve any bodies for study, but there were none there. Most of the data stores had been cleared out too, though they were able to find some floating ship fragments which contained data as whomever cleared out the data only did so on the more intact ships.  No one was certain as to how to recover data from systems that were likely ten to fifty thousand cycles old, or even if it was possible.  It was bad enough that the computer systems were foreign to their own, so that would need to be reverse engineered as well. D'Vron was personally overseeing this with his team and a Psilon scientist. It seemed best suited to his own skillset as the problem was just as much an engineering problem as a research one.


 

The wreckage was also very interesting. Each fleet had several monstrosities that could only be these 'Doom Stars' that Serene referred to. They weren't quite the size of a small moon, but traveling quickly from one end to another would have been impossible. The weapons systems on them were fairly impressive, but the size of some of these weapons alone made any kind of salvage attempts on the larger ships impossible for their destroyer. It would take a very large operation and a long time to salvage these.  Some of the smaller ships were more amenable to a salvage operation.  They were able to safely remove and recover several point defense versions of the main weapon types from each of the fleets, though at this point they had absolutely no clue how to power them, much less build them.  Serene and Kelvim had both concluded that bringing a few of these systems back to Mentar along with the salvaged metal was well worth filling up the ship's storage bays. Simply getting these to Mentar would be a priority at this point, which for D'Vron was a welcome thing. He didn't want to be here much longer.  Their shielding technology was also different, and too large to take with, though the damage from the space battle made it likely that this would never be recovered.  They didn't use the same type of technology for shields found throughout the galaxy. That was one technology that all races pretty much architected the same. These devices were significantly larger than standard shields, which D'Vron found to be odd, but perhaps their output was proportionately larger. As well, none of them were undamaged.  The Psilon scientists were unsure what this could be.  D'Vron wondered if this technology was similar to the concept of a Damper Field that he had observed in human entertainment known as 'Science Fiction.'  Given the size of this device, and the fact that the weapons they recovered were already taking up most of their space, the teams decided to leave the shielding alone.


 

There was one item though, that was of interested to everyone.  One of the green ships was almost completely in tact. It's hull size was about the same as the Noveim, and the only damage it sustained was a crippling shot to its engines and shields which seemed to have overloaded its power systems. Like the others, someone had removed the data cores from the ship. The ship was so well preserved that the thought of outfitting it with an engine and flying it back to Mentar on it's own power was openly considered. They unfortunately hadn't brought a spare engine core along, so that wasn't truly an option.  They could tow it at sub-light speeds with a significant loss of speed and acceleration, but D'Vron was very concerned about trying to tow it at FTL once they cleared the dampening field. He suspected that their own hull would not be able to withstand that type of stress, and the cloaking device would definitely not protect them. They would most likely be observed returning to Psilon space, and there was no guarantee that they would not be intercepted.  On top of this, the ship was clearly outfitted differently. It had no weapons. All of the green ships also appeared to have some sort of self-destruct device that detonated when the ship was sustained too much damage, so there was much less of that fleet in tact. While it apparently didn't detonate every time a green ship was destroyed, it clearly was responsible for leaving less salvageable material. It's discovery on one of the green ships, left 5 Psilon scientists dead when they accidentally triggered the device while attempting to remove it.  They were fortunate that their transport ship had moved on to another wreck when it happened. The explosion was powerful enough that it could have been monitored, which worried D'Vrol. At that point, the Noveim was ordered to remain in full cloak and at a safe distance from the wreckage.  D'Vron wasn't certain he understood why a ship would be equipped this way. It struck him as something that would damage more friends than foes, though it would be very useful in preventing capture and salvage. The intact ship, however, did not have one of these devices. It was different in many ways, including a that it was clearly specially designed for a single unknown purpose, which made him wonder if the blue fleet had attacked for the purpose of disabling this ship.  The Psilon scientists were fairly certain they could power it. While packing a spare engine aboard the Noveim wouldn't have been reasonable even if they had thought of it, they did have a dozen portable generators on board, the largest of which could power the Noveim on it's own. Today's debate had been just that. Should they power it on?  All of the data from the computer systems had been removed, so D'Vrol did not see the point.  The engines didn't work, so flying it home under it's own power was a waste of time. Life support, however, could be restored as could it's sub-light engines, possibly some computer systems, and the custom device that the green ship housed, though only the Psilon scientists aboard wanted to power it. The commanders of the Noveim all thought this was a bad idea, especially since it would increase the possibility of being detected, though at this point, it was pretty clear that no one ventured into this part of space, nor was much trained on it.

 

 

Serene of course overruled this, saying something about her theories of a 3rd age.  D'Vron's patience with Serene was rapidly waning, as was everyone else's as far as he could tell. At this point, he wished to forget about her 3rd age and was quite willing to send her out the nearest airlock.  She was going to get everyone killed with her complete lack of respect for the military situation at hand. Kelvim agreed to let her do it under the condition that this was it.  They were going to get what they could from this ship and go home. Serene accepted, which in a way made D'Vron happy. They were going to leave soon. Transporting the power supply was another matter. It took up nearly the entire transport pod, so the crew needed to assemble and power up the ship would not be able to join them. Other salvage operations were still in progress, so leaving them with only space suits and spare air canisters wasn't really an option. This meant for two trips with one of their cargo ships. After the second launch, D'Vron went back to his quarters to get some sustenance and read over the engineering reports on the recovered items. He studied the schematics of the green ships weapon closely. He knew that Psilon phasors could not easily penetrate this armor. Perhaps a heavier mount might have some success. The Psilons were experimenting with Plasma cannons, and those could do some significant damage, or so he was told. Perhaps this could more easily penetrate the metal. His thoughts, however, were cut short by the shrill sound of the Noveim's battle alarm.

 


Edited by diehardtwinsfan, 15 January 2016 - 01:54 AM.


diehardtwinsfan #7 Posted 16 January 2016 - 08:14 PM

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The orangeish lighting and shrill sound of the Noveim's battle alarm caused Durol to jump into action.  While Durol relished battle, he absolutely hated the sound of that alarm. The Alkari's hearing was completely different than that of every other known species in the galaxy, and the sound of their alarm was so shrill that it could drive people insane. Durol was convinced that the Alkari used this as a means of torture of their captured prisoners and thought that would be more effective than most of the Bulrathi methods he was acquainted with. He was also convinced that the Psilon military council would excuse any action under the verdict of temporary insanity to anyone who had to listen to it for an extended period of time. Durol tried hard to get Kelvim and D'Vron to change this alarm to something that didn't quite pierce the skull with sound, but the best he won in this fight was that Kelvim agreed that the sound could be shut off as soon as all senior officers were at their stations. That was incentive enough for him, and battle was his responsibility. Fortunately for him, Kelvim and Actesh were already on the bridge, and D'Vrol was right behind him.


 

"Status," he roared. "Proximity sensors are going crazy," a young Psilon ensign replied. "There are radiation spikes all over the area and the ships proximity sensors are detecting something, though we cannot determine what that is."

"And what of our away teams?" he bellowed.  "They are all accounted for except the team aboard the intact Green ship," Kelvim replied softly.  "I've already contacted them and they have not powered up the ship. This is not their doing. They are under orders to return to the transport, maintain silence, and wait."  The command structure on the Noveim was quite a bit different than a typical Psilon command structure. Psilons were known for their incredible intelligence as well as their ability to out think their opponents on a strategic level.  They were not known, however, for their battle reflexes. Psilons were the definition of a species that could acquire vast amounts of knowledge, but the wisdom needed to use that knowledge was often lacking as Psilon military commanders often underestimated the abilities of their enemies, especially ones that moved instinctively without logic. Psilon's typically worked well when they had time, could think through their options, and take the best one, but that wasn't ideal in an evenly matched battle that required quick decision making. Psilons won most of their fights by simply having superior technology.  Their ships could take a beating and deliver one as well. Even though Captain Kelvim was young for a Psilon at 50, he was wise well beyond his years. His power structure on the Noveim was shared. In matters of engineering, D'Vron has complete command. In matters of battle, command was his. Kelvim could overrule, but he rarely did, except when he saw a strategic moment or decided it was time to run. While not always liking what he felt was cowardice, Durol came to respect Kelvim's ability to know when the battle was lost. Psilon's couldn't build the most ships, but they had the best ones, and losing them was costly. As a hired mercenary, Durol didn't have the ties that the rest of his crew had. He could leave at any time, yet ye stayed in large part because his strengths as a Bulrathi complemented the Psilon weaknesses. Durol was fairly certain that Psilon technology with a Bulrathi military arm would be the death of any other empire in the galaxy, especially if they could conquer a few Klackon or Sakkra industrial planets for ship building.

 

 

 

The shrill alarm was thankfully now silenced, though the orange battle lights of the Noveim still indicated the situation. "Where's the epicenter of the disturbance?" Kelvim asked.

 

"It's close, about 10,000 miles from here," the ensign replied. "I'm putting it on screen now.  I don't understand it though," he said as the screen shows nothing but the darkness of space. "But as far as our sensors are concerned, it's as if the entire area is infected with a Bulrathi stomach flu." But within a few moments, the screen wasn't showing nothing anymore. A small ball of light appeared, as if a star was being birthed by the Bear goddess herself, and it grew for several minutes, climaxing with a bright pulse that nearly blinded everyone on the bridge. And then it was gone, except that three small green ships were now present on the view screen. The ships themselves were no bigger than Psilon scout ships, quite a bit smaller than the Noveim's hull. But their presence, and the fact that everyone on board knew of the technology they likely held, had the crew springing to action. D'Vron was immediately on the comm with the Psilon scientist and Darlock engineer charged with analyzing the architecture of the green ships looking for any information that would be useful to know in battle. Kelvim was summoning the Psilon scientist in charge of translating their language. Durol was barking orders to the weapons crew, preparing the Noveim for a fight, but being cloaked, he knew it was wiser to wait and see if they were spotted. "Where did they come from?" Durol ordered.


 

"They couldn't have traveled through FTL," the communications officer replied. "We would have detected them.  Perhaps they've been cloaked this whole time, but..." he paused as if to weigh his words carefully, "we've been here for many days.  They would have de-cloaked sooner. It's as if they were born out of nothing."

 


 

"Perhaps that's because they came from another dimension," Serene replied. No one noticed that she had finally arrived, and truth be told, the crew had forgotten she was aboard.  Her presence now was hardly welcome, but she would be commanding nothing in this situation, whether she liked it or not. "It could be Antaran," she went on. "We know from our new-found history that they survived."


 

 

 

"The galaxy has no record of this species other than the history books," Durol growled. "Why now?"

 

"I suspect because they detected us," she coolly replied. As much as Durol didn't like her, she was probably right. The great expansion documented space crystals, space amoebas, and even a fabled space dragon was had supposedly been destroyed by the pesky Mrrshan, but no one had encountered a species as advanced, or as old, as what this likely was. For what seemed like an eternity, the three ships did not move, as if they themselves weren't sure of what happened. But then two ships charged their engines and went into FTL, much to everyone's surprise. Their FTL speeds were not fast, by Psilon FTL standards, perhaps only the equivalent to the output of a fusion engine, but they could jump, and the Noveim couldn't.  D'Vron rather quickly noted what Durol was already thinking. If they can reach fusion speeds in this dampening field, how fast could they go once they cleared it? There was no known or even conceptual engine technology that could reach those types of speeds. "Where are they headed?" Durol asked nervously.

 

"From the looks of it," the communications officer replied. "Altair. If they can accelerate further once they clear the dampening field, they will be there in two days max."

 


Edited by diehardtwinsfan, 16 January 2016 - 08:14 PM.


Ronstersauraus #8 Posted 28 January 2016 - 10:11 PM

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Liking where this is going!  Thanks for posting.

diehardtwinsfan #9 Posted 31 January 2016 - 06:39 PM

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yeah, I have another one written, just haven't had time to proof read and figure out where I want it to go as I have a couple of end games in mind.  But yeah, I'm kind of going from memory since it's been a decade since I played MOO2.  I'm a bit more familiar with the MOO 3 tech tree to be honest, but yeah, class V shields, phasors/plasma, enough to beat the guardian or antarans in MOO2, though in my lore, they ancient races are a bit more dangerous.

Birdie_Sparrow #10 Posted 03 February 2016 - 05:28 AM

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We are getting quite a lot of fun reading the fan fic that is starting to crop up... "Have they posted yet? No? *grumble*"


 

 


diehardtwinsfan #11 Posted 06 February 2016 - 07:05 AM

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Why Altair? Kelvim wondered to himself. The question was rhetorical as he knew the answer. It was the implications that troubled him. The Alkari were the weakest of species in the core, slowly losing a war to the Bulrathi. The only reason they hadn't been swallowed quicker was the war the  Bulrathi's were fighting. Duron had left the Bulrathi many cycles ago, and the lack of any type of Galactic Senate made contact with these other races difficult.  Duron was fairly certain they were at war with a species known as the Mrrshan, and likely with another called the Klackon, but the Psilons held no planets in that part of the core and their relationship with the Bulrathi was not exactly on good terms. The Psilons had a pretty good relationship with the Humans, but other than that, it was generally agreed that their non-aggression pacts were in place mostly due to their war with the Sakkra and Silicoids. The jump to Altair told Kelvim a lot about this species. It had to be old. Altair was not the closest system to their location, as there were several more heavily populated and desirable systems near by. It was, however, the closest imperial capital, and their choice to head there had to be related to that. If capitals were their stops, they'd likely head to Nazin next, followed by either Mentar or Sol if they wanted to move towards the Psilons or to Ursa if they wanted to head towards the Bulrathi. He suspected that if they made a 3rd stop, Sol would be next, followed by Mentar.

The direction of their trip also bothered him. It was direct. If he were to take the Noveim there, it would likely be via two systems, in part for fuel reasons as they had enough fuel to return to Chondota without a detour to Altair, and in part due to uncharted dark bodies, black holes, and other space phenomena that would force them to travel at slower speeds on what would be an unfamiliar route. This clearly was not a limitation for these ships, or perhaps his ensign didn't take them into account with his estimate. Kelvim thought hard about how he could warn the Alkari, but that would put him and his crew in a precarious position. He was flying a modified Alkari ship and it's pilot was an Alkari fugitive. Perhaps one of his Darlock could shapeshift and report it, but even then that would reveal his location and once their false documentation was sniffed out, they would receive no cover from the non-aggression pact that protected official travel.

That, however, needed to wait. One green ship remained, and its actions were not clear. It did not appear to see them, but Kelvim was certain it knew they were there. It was broadcasting the same message over and over again while slowly sweeping the debris field with weapons charged. He had a team working on translating the message, as the langauge appeared to be similar to that of ancient Darlock. Unfortunately, not even his Darlocks knew their ancient tongue, and what little of the message they were certain of contained the words 'surrender' and 'die'. Their next action had to be planned carefully. They had a crew still aboard the other green ship, and given it was clearly a specialty ship, Kelvim wasn't sure if it made more sense to order his crew to overload the power supply and destroy it, simply leave it alone and get them out, or power it up in hopes that this ship was some sort of weapon they could use. He and his staff knew it was only a matter of time before their transport pod was noticed. Its only saving grace was that it was tiny, but it's hull signature would be completely different from the two fleets and a close pass would reveal it.

Durol, Actesh, Kelvim, and D'Vron had spent the last half hour weighing their options, none of which were appealing, nor were they in agreement as to their best option.  His senior staff did agree that they could not out run it, nor could they defeat it in traditional combat.  They had also agreed with Serene that this was likely the Antaran race that her history described. Their current plan was to sit quietly and hope it left but to prepare for what was likely going to be a fight. As the Antaran ship moved through the field, they had silently positioned themselves closer to their away team by hiding near one of the crippled Doom Stars. The analysis of the green ship's architecture had come back from his engineering team. Like most space ships, it seemed to have less weapons near it's aft, and its FTL and sub-light engines were back there as well. One of the options they were considering was to move within range of all of the Noveim's forward guns, de-cloak, and fire its main canon and point defense weapons simultaneously. They doubted they had the firepower to destroy it, but they did think the element of surprise might allow them to cripple it and, if they got lucky, trigger the self destruct device that the ship likely carried. They knew that option had risks. They didn't know if they could get their shields up in time, especially with the power surge coming from the weapons fire, to protect them against what would be a very quick counter attack. But if they could get their shields up and cripple their opponent, they were confident that their pilot, in conjunction with the Alkari ship's inertial dampener and Alkari design, could keep the Noveim out of it's cross hairs. Perhaps a series of hit and run attacks using their cloaking device for surprise would eventually destroy it, or perhaps they should simply try and collect their remaining crew and leave. This was his preferred option. Durol, however, was pushing hard for a more daring approach.

Since the ship was no bigger than a scout ship, they guessed that it had at most 20 crew members on board, up to half of which would be security personnel. This could be reduced if by chance they noticed the uncloaked cargo ship and attempted to board it. His military complement had been split up, with 5 Psilon soldiers aboard the derelict Antaran ship and his remaining 15 soldiers on the Noveim. Psilons, however, weren't suited for hand to hand combat, and he wasn't sure what technology their Antaran scout's marines employed. Even with an engaged Bulrathi leading them, phasor rifles, sensory disabling explosive grenades, personal deflector shields, and personal neutronium armor, Kelvim wasn't certain they could pull that off, though he did admire Durol's courage as well as the boldness of the plan. The Antarans would most certainly NOT expect that. He wasn't even certain that they could breath the ship's atmosphere, something the Psilons found out the hard way in their first engagement with the Silicoids. After that, there was the very real problem of flying it. They could attempt to tether it tightly to one of the doomstars in hopes it would not be noticed and return at some point later to fly it out, but even that seemed like a lot of risk for the potential reward.

Their last option might be to detonate the power supply on the derelict ship when the Antaran ship passed by. The explosion would kill his away team and if they were close enough, damage the Antaran scout ship as well, possibly even using the debris field to damage it further, but this option seemed to be the least likely, not to mention that communications with them were likely to reveal their location. A combination of all 3 might work, but they had a better chance of witnessing a supernova than they did making this work.

Kelvim's thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the scream of his battle commander.  "Ready weapons!" he heard Duron roar.  Time was no longer an option, as the Antaran ship was now headed strait for the derelict ship.



diehardtwinsfan #12 Posted 06 February 2016 - 09:57 PM

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The Antaran scout ship left him and his crew little time to decide to do what was next. It was headed straight for the derelict ship, and it would be only a matter of time before his crew aboard the ship was detected. Kelvim watched silently as his battle commander barked orders, and attacking the scout ship was the best option.  "Commander!" the ensign at the comm station shouted, "The ship appears to be sending some sort of strange subspace broadcast. I cannot decode it.  It also appears to be sending a long range message to its friends."

"Let it be a short message," Duron roared, "Fire engines the moment this doomstar wreck eclipses that ship. Lock target on that ship's engines, raise shields and fire all forward weapons the moment it passes back into view."

The Noveim's weapon's officer immediately began punching a series of commands into his console and the Alkari pilot was also moving rapidly.

"Actesh," Duron ordered, "Prepare for evasive maneuvers immediately after firing.  Place ourselves behind the nearest obstacle and prime the cloacking device."

Even though they had served together for years, Kelvim was always a bit nervous about the Bulrathi's bravoso in battle. Kelvim knew almost immediately that based on the Antaran ship's speed, the Noveim would pass within a few thousand meters of the Antaran ship.  There would be little room for error, but at that range, all point defense weapons along with the Noveim's main Phasor array would do maximum damage to the enemy ship.  He could only hope that it would cripple or destroy the ship, but given what they had seen in the debris field, he was fairly certain that they would only damage it. His other concern at that range was a possible collision as they had no predictive models on record to estimate how an Antaran ship would execute evasive maneuvers. Duron and his crew had executed similar patterns in training and even in battle, but never against an opponent this superior or this close. The Alkari were known for their fast reflexes, and Actesh claimed that he was the best of the best, but now Kelvim would see if the Alkari pilot had good reason to be confident.

"Prepare to contact our team on the derelict ship," Kelvim ordered his comm officer. "We may as well let them know what may be coming.  As soon as we de-cloak, send the message."

The comm officer nodded apprehensively and began typing some commands at his console.  Precisely as the Antaran ship passed behind the hull of the doomstar, Actesh engaged the Noveim's engines.  A split second later, the Noveim's weapons fired on the unsuspecting Antaran ship. "Direct hit to the engines," yelled the weapons officer as Actesh almost immediately changed the Noveim's course through the debris field aiming for the nearest large object. The Antaran ship's response did not disapoint returning fire within a second. It's main weapon obliterated the remains of  what appeared to be an ancient frigate that Actesh was hoping to use to shield the Noveim and continued on striking them directly. The sound and force of the impact was enough to tell Kelvim that the blast had passed through the shields even before the weapons officer was able to speak.

"Shields are down, severe damage to the starboard armor plating," the weapons officer shouted.  The Antaran ship immediately fired again, much to Kelvim's surprise as whatever weapon that was could recharge faster than his phasors.  They were fortunate that Actesh was already moving and this shot missed. "Secondary explosions detected aboard the enemy ship," shouted a voice from the comm station, "It is slowing rapidly."  The Noveim managed to get off one more shot before Actesh maneuvered behind the derelict Antaran ship; however, it appeared to do little damage to the Antaran's forward hull.  Kelvim didn't have time to realize the danger his away team was now in, but he was not expecting the Antaran ship to stop firing. Actesh realized it too, almost instantaneously and again changed course to keep the abandoned ship positioned between them and the enemy.

"Status NOW!" Duron shouted.

"There's minimal structural damage, but our shields need some time to recharge, we will not survive another hit with that weapon.  Casualty reports are coming in, but everything appears to be minor" D'Vrol said, "Fortunately, the Antaran ship appears to be crippled.  Engaging cloaking device."

D'Vrol's decision clearly did not please his battle commander as the Bulrathi immediately began yelling what could only be Bulrathi explicatives in his native tongue.  Regardless of which, it was the right decision, and everyone knew it.  They were safer with no shields, no weapons, and a cloak than they were with no shields and weapons that did not seem to be nearly as effective at longer range.  They could potentially approach the ship again, but they would need to carefully plan to use the nearby debris as a shield.  Kelvim's thoughts were cut short by his comm officer. "They're boarding the derelict ship."

"That's impossible," Actesh screeched.  No freighter left the enemy ship.  "That means they can"

"Teleport," D'Vrol finished. "That technology is only theoretical."

"Patch the communication into the bridge," Kelvim ordered, hoping that the five person security force would be able to repel whatever was coming.  The sounds of explosions, frantic shouts, and weapons blasts quickly filled the bridge followed by an eerie silence. "So much for boarding them," Duron growled silently.

"All crew members, arm yourselves."  Kelvim ordered over the ship's intercom.



diehardtwinsfan #13 Posted 07 February 2016 - 10:10 PM

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The silence continued for what seemed to be an eternity as Kelvim considered what to do next.  The reports from engineering indicated that the damaged shields would take about an hour to repair.  This essentially gave them an hour to think about what to do next.  That of course assumed that the crew of the Antaran ship would take longer than that to repair its engines.  Duron wanted to execute a similar cloaked maneuver and attempt to use the derelict ship as cover, but they quickly found out that their Antaran opponent could now see them somehow.  The cloaking device was helping, but Actesh got a bit careless as they approached the derelict ship briefly leaving its cover, the Antaran vessel fired in their direction when the Noveim was more exposed, nearly hitting them.  The fact that they hadn't been boarded was a blessing.  Apparently, the cloaking device was preventing them from being boarded, or perhaps the Antaran's weren't interested in taking them alive. As for their enemy, it remained near the derelict with weapons charged and continued broadcasts. It seemed as interested in this prize as they had been.

Kelvim wasn't comfortable staying any longer, as there were two more opponents out there somewhere, and the Alkari destroyer wasn't really a match for the wounded ship. No one was certain as to how many more ships could be brought through the portal.  Everyone agreed that the crew aboard the derelict ship was likely dead, and based on their transmissions from the ship, it had been taken quickly.  The military component of his crew was hardly elite, and it was there more for labor and extra protection, but Kelvim was convinced that even an elite Psilon fighting squad would have been any more of a match for their opponent.  It would take a massive amount of numbers to overwhelm their opponent given the technological disadvantage, and Kelvim was pretty convinced his 15 remaining troops were not enough. The only real logical decision was to leave while they could still do so.  Kelvim dreaded the conversation that he would have with Duron and D'Vrol, as neither of them blindly accepted Psilon logic, but surprisingly enough both agreed that it was time to leave.  Serene fortunately, had suffered some head wounds during the battle and was not in a state of mind where they would have been able to consult with her.  Given her advanced age, her healing would be slow.  As it was, their cargo bay was full with a few data modules, quite a bit of this metal, and the two distinct weapons they had recovered. Even with their losses, it was an impressive find that could potentially propel Psilon technology well beyond that of their neighbors.

Leaving, however, was not going to be easy.  Actesh flew the Noveim out by keeping the derelict ship positioned between them and the Antaran.  Once they felt they were safely out of range of it's weapons, they charted a course for Chondata.  After refueling there, it would be a very short jump to Mentar.  Getting there though, would be difficult. They were deep in Alkari space and based on their entrance, it might take a week before they could make an FTL jump. Kelvim was fairly certain that by the time they engaged FTL, the Alkari would have lots of problems of their own. The compassionate side of Kelvim wanted to warn them, but even if the transmission made it in time, there would be far more questions about what they was doing there than what the Psilon empire would want to answer.  Even attempting to use their forged paperwork was risky if someone looked a bit closer at the communications. As such, they had agreed to maintain silence. They did decide that once they cleared whatever was dampening travel in this part of space that they would attempt to connect to the Alkari galactic network.  From past experience, they knew they could do this and not be noticed.  At the least, they might have a better picture of what happened at Altair. Going there, however, wasn't going to be an option for now.  They had much bigger concerns.

Once they had safely cleared the debris field, the trip was uneventful. D'Vrol was doing everything to get maximum power out of his engines, but it still took 8 solar days to clear the dampening field to get to a portion of space where they could FTL. During that time, they were able to make progress on translating the Antaran language.  It did appear to be related to Darlok in some way.  The translation didn't make Kelvim feel any better about this new enemy.  It was the same message over and over again:  "Sons of Orion, you have repeatedly tried and failed to kill us. We are returning yet again to take our place and rule your people. Surrender or die." Once they had broken that message, they were able to turn their attention to the other messages sent by the Antaran scout, but it said only one thing: "Deliverance remains."  That message was a bit more interesting, but what it meant didn't appear to be obvious.  Duron and the Psilon military commander on board thought it was some sort of military code, as the meaning made no sense.  The Antarans were so advanced though that part of Kelvim wondered why they would even need a code, but that was less troubling than the other broadcast.  Their ship had sent two distinctive types of broadcasts.  The one they had translated was a fairly standard long range broadcast that could only have meant to be sent to their other scout ships.  The second was strange. It exhibited radioactive properties that typically surrounded a black hole and all they had was the sensor data to analyze, and given no known way to decode it, they had no idea what was sent. The going theory among their scientists was that this was a phone home to the lost world of Antaras, based in large part on Serene's history and the fact that those ships appeared out of nothing. Serene had unfortunately healed to the point where she was participating in this research and was in agreement on this matter, but she was far more interested in dissecting the contents of their original broadcast. "Returning yet again" was all she needed to go trumpeting on about how this was the 4th great expansion of the Psilon race even though this message could still easily fit into conventional thought on the matter. Regardless, she had little desire to head back either and was quite content to focus on researching their finds.

Shortly before engaging FTL, they were finally able to attach to the Alkari galactic network. The AGC was essentially a method to connect the computer networks of each planet in the Alkari empire using targeted subspace broadcasts. Alkari space based networking equipment tended to work in a mesh based line of site communication, where send and receive communications didn't happen well when the line of site communication was disrupted by a fairly large body.  As such, they Alkrai did allow their signals to disperse a bit, which made it very easy for anyone to read and listen to unencrypted communications if they were relatively close to a line of site connection between Alkari planets, larger capital ships, or an outpost, and their position would remain a complete secret as long as they only listened. Active participation could be done in secret, but there was more risk there as they would trigger a number of security systems, and their main hope would be to disguise that communication in a way that would appear to be a false positive, but the success of that attempt would succeed more or less based on who was reviewing the positive reports as any communication attempts would be discovered if someone looked closely at the details. They had also been given some encryption keys by Psilon intelligence when they left, which they hoped had not yet been changed. The Alkari, like everyone else, tended to rotate their encryption keys more frequently for high value communications.  Their lower value ones tended to stay in use longer or sometimes they rotated one of their higher value keys to lower value keys when it was necessary to use it across a larger array of endpoints.  That was all dependent on circumstances. The chaos when they connected though, worked to their advantage. The exact details of the story were unclear. There was quite a bit of speculation ranging from Darlock deception surprise attack, to the Sakkras, a space dragon, and even Altair itself going nova.  The chaos was enormous, so much so that the entire empire had been thrown into disarray.  Lower level communications indicated that the Alkari had transferred all control of their military to another planetary system.  They had been able to detect the Antaran ships about 10 hours prior to their arrival. That allowed the Alkari enough time to mobilize some of their older ships used primarily on pirate control and system defense.  Duron suspected that they mobilized based only on the size of two scout ships, as they had to have had military ships that were closer and more advanced. Then again, perhaps their war with the Bulrathi had left them more over extended than what Psilon intelligence believed. They were the technologically weakest of the known species in the core and they didn't have the most planets either.  What protected them from being overrun was largely a tight alliance with the Darlocks and the fact that the Bulrathi's were at war with one or possibly 2 other races.

Low level military communications were much more informative. The Antarans had done a great job of destroying anything that could shoot at them, and they did so with incredible speed. They destroyed the star base protecting the main shipping lane in a matter of minutes and engaged about ten Alkari military ships in short order, with none taking more than 1 direct hit to destroy. Their fusion and ion based weapons appeared to do no damage. They proceeded to the capital planet from there destroying the main Alkari ship yard on the way. Planetary defenses had put up a better fight, as they were able to destroy one of the Antaran ships, but not before the two ships had laid waste to the Star Fortress and fighter garrisons surrounding the planet.  They had also easily avoided Alkari space mines on approach.  It was a suicide run by a retired Alkari fighter pilot that did the ship in. He had apparently used his very large commercial freighter as a battering ram on the scout ship. The Antarans used their point defense weapons against him making the impact relatively harmless, but the merculite missile volley behind him was able to reach the Antaran ship relatively unscathed.  What happened next was a bit more disturbing, as the Antarans had apparently teleported right into the capital building and took the Galactic Warden captive along with five members of her staff, which included her top military advisor, after which they destroyed their major governmental buildings and left on a course back towards the debris field.  All of this had been completed only 6 days prior.  It had put the military in disarray.  They were forced to recall two of their more powerful warships to Altair and sent a small fleet of ships to fortify their Darlock border.  Kelvim knew that this could potentially lead to unwanted conflict if they were detected and interdicted, but he suspected that their cloaking device would keep them safe as it had done many times in the past.

The Bulrathi's had also quickly moved, which indicated to Kelvim that they had an extensive covert operations running in the Alkari empire.  They quickly laid siege and conquered the border system of Ramad.  Their fleets were now blockading the much larger and established system of Herculis.  That would be a fight, but with a few less ships, no capital, general confusion, and a blockade of needed supplies, Kelvim and his staff were fairly convinced it wouldn't take more than a standard lunar cycle to overcome. Herculis was also the home of the second largest shipyard in the Alkari empire, with the most advanced being destroyed by the Antarans. Duron was convinced that if it fell, the entire empire would collapse within a solar cycle at most.  They had only 2 other advanced shipyards in their empire.  As it was, they had been building ships only as fast as they were being destroyed. Losing their two most productive shipyards would be the end of their ability to keep up the fight.  Kelvim wasn't sure what to think of that. The Darlocks were friends with the Alkari, and they had a somewhat shaky non-aggression pact with the Bulrathi, but a Bulrathi take over of Altair would make them the unquestioned powerhouse of the core.  The Psilons had no formal contact with Ursa, so that relation was a bit unpredictable. Psilons were the strongest militarily of the core with the most advanced technology, but lacked in general military skill, and they were fighting two wars of their own with the Sakkra and Silicoids.  They weren't losing those wars, but they weren't advancing either.  Neither showed any sign of ending.  A third war would not be advisable unless they had more help from Sol and Nazin, particularly Nazin. The humans would most definitely help in what little ways that they could, but the Darlock empire was a wild card.  His crew aside, the Darlock agenda due to their secretive ways was always difficult to determine. Not even D'Vrol was certain what they would do.

Their arrival at Chondata was relatively normal. They used their recovery protocols to refuel at the battle station guarding the wormhole to Sakkra territory. On docking, they immediately received an eyes only communication from Mentar. They were to go straight there and meet the chief Psilon military commander in Seisma. The location seemed a bit odd, as the Psilon military was based out of Coulomb, but foreign relations was based out of Seisma, which meant that whatever the Psilons were planning, it wasn't going to be done alone.

 



diehardtwinsfan #14 Posted 07 February 2016 - 10:11 PM

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View PostBirdie_Sparrow, on 03 February 2016 - 05:28 AM, said:

We are getting quite a lot of fun reading the fan fic that is starting to crop up... "Have they posted yet? No? *grumble*"

 

 

You get 3 :)  Happy Monday.



Ronstersauraus #15 Posted 08 February 2016 - 10:28 PM

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Fantastic.  I appreciate your effort and talent!

diehardtwinsfan #16 Posted 09 February 2016 - 01:04 AM

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Lieutenant science officer Marrot Zardosan woke from his sleep with a sharp rush of pain.  He tried to remember what had happened but everything was very hazy.  As his consciousness returned, he looked around at the scene to try and ascertain what exactly had happened, and all of a sudden, the memories started trickling in. He was in the middle of a very bad nightmare, one only told by Psilon nurses during his first few years.  Psilon's were known for their memories, as well as their inability to forget.  A typical Psilon developed began to permanently keep memories around the anniversary of their first lunar cycle.  The smartest ones started sooner than that, and Zardosan definitely qualified as one of those.  He was top of his class at every level of education, and he had received distinguished honors for his work on both phasor and plasma weapons.  He had volunteered for this assignment as the Psilon plasma weapons project was coming to an end.  He had wanted to lead something bigger, and he was given the second in command role under Serene. Weapons were his specialty, and there wasn't much in the Psilon pipeline, so this small trip appeared to be another way to distinguish himself in an already distinguished career. He was young for a Psilon officer, at only 35 cycles in age.  He also didn't have the lineage that some Psilons have. He was cloned in an experiment that involved no DNA from their familial lines, making him a genetic bastard of sorts, especially since the DNA used to clone him wasn't completely Psilon.  Fortunately for him, lineage was more for identity in the Psilon empire, but what counted was accomplishments, and Zardosan had exceeded that of many Psilons who were much older than him.


 

He was remembering now...  the derelict ship he had been on was shaking violently, and then there was nothing. They were warned by the crew of the Noveim to remain silent, and so they had. The military crew was on full alert, and the science team aboard wasn't armed except for their required ion pistols that all military members carried.  The silence lasted for what had seemed to be an eternity when they received a sudden communication from the Noveim telling them that they were engaging an unknown enemy force.  The marines on board had sprung into action, ordering Zardosan and his men to hide in the main room of this destroyer class hull they were researching.  They had already moved their power supply to this room attempting to power it on.  Given the warning, they continued with this, only as far as doing something that would be detectable by an enemy race, though he knew that if whatever was out there got close, it would see the transport ship they had used to dock with their ship.  Regardless, the memories were flowing in fast now, and they were the type that made him wish he had dreamed all of it. The marines were moving to take up a defensive positions near the only other airlock on the ship.  He and his science team were moving as ordered to the main chamber of this ship, when all of a sudden radio chatter went crazy as multiple people saw unknown aliens, and then as fast as that, he heard and sensed a massive sensory device and then silence. Whatever technology it was, it had disabled both his eyes and ears along with a searing pain that literally froze him, at which point he remembered nothing.


 

His sight was coming back thankfully though he was in a lot of pain, and he looked around the dark room. He had been moved, and apparently so had his science team... minus one.  He had boarded the derelict ship with a science team consisting of six Psilons, a Darlock, and a Human. The Darlock engineer was missing. It was his responsibility to configure the power supply, and Zardosan knew that the orders were to self destruct it if boarded. Given that he was still alive, he could only assume that the Darlock was dead, or that it had hidden itself, possibly shape shifting into an inanimate object. He hoped that was the case, as he doubted the Darlok had the time to complete that mission. There was no sign of the five military soldiers on board, and his ion pulse pistol was gone. He stared around the room for a minute attempting to survey its contents. From the looks of it, they had all been placed in a larger room in the crew quarter area. It was cramped for the seven of them, but not something that Psilons were unused to. He suspected that when the human woke up, that would be different. Some of them suffered from something called claustrophobia, or the fear of confined spaces. Zardosan didn't understand humans much. They placed strange value in things like reproduction and wealth. They didn't crave technology, but instead wanted to accumulate things of little value such as money, land, wives, mistresses, and in some cases extreme power. They were ridiculously flamboyant in most everything they did including their clothing, but they were resourceful, especially when it came to money, and his experience with the Humans on the Noveim told him that they could be loyal and valuable in ways other than the technological advancement that he so desperately craved.


 

Slowly, some of the others in his crew were starting to wake up, but his observations were short lived by blinding light as the door of their chamber had been opened. Zardosan was grabbed by something, and the light meant he couldn't see again, but his mind was working fast. Life support, he realized. It's on, and so is the power. His chamber was dark, but he suddenly realized he was no longer wearing his space suit.  He paused for a second, slowly opening his outer eyelid to allow some light into his large Psilon eyes. Psilons had large eyes, and to accommodate for sudden changes of light, Psilons had two sets of eyelids. The first filtered out the white spectrum, allowing some eye sight, and a chance for his nervous system to adjust. The second could be opened a few seconds later. An ancient Psilon method of execution involved removing their eyelids and facing them towards the sun of their planet. It was quick, as the light would overwhelm their brain functions causing the brains of most Psilons to cease immediately.  Those that survived were effectively blind, and they were mentally paralyzed for all intents and purposes. Most Psilons hoped for a quick death, and those that survived usually killed themselves.  The practice had been banned nearly 100 cycles ago, though their enemies had found it to be an effective method of torture. Most Psilons would tell anything they knew to avoid this fate.  As seconds passed, he opened his inner eye lids and was looking at a species he had never seen before. It was a greenish brown in color, with a strange looking head and small tentacle type objects protruding from its face. He was further surprised, unnerved, and relieved to hear it speak.


 

"Psilon scum," the creature said, "Is your race so weak that it was conquered by the Alkari?" Zardosan wasn't sure what to say until he realized that this species recognized the Alkari design of the Noveim. He wasn't sure what to do next. Psilon military officers had gone through extensive training involving capture, but scientists were rarely on the battle field, and this was not something he had been trained to handle. The truth, for the time being, seemed wisest. Perhaps he could learn something about them if he cooperated. "No," he replied. "We stole it from them. This was a science mission to investigate the remains of this battlefield," he replied as it suddenly dawned on him that they should not know his language. "But how can.."

 

He was cut off before he could finish his question. "I hear you?" the alien replied. "We know you. We know all of you. We've known you throughout multiple ages. You're Psilons... incredibly intelligent, even worshiping the gods of technology, but you are frail and do not understand others. You understand nothing other than advancement.  We Antarans have conquered you before, and we will do it again. We know your language, and solving it's barrier is easy. Now why are you here?" asked the Antaran as another one near by removed a small knife from its uniform.

 

"We are studying this ship," Zardosan nervously replied. "We mean no harm," he said hastily as he realized what was happening. He struggled against the alien that was holding him, but to no avail as the Antaran quickly and skillfully cut into the muscles around an eye. It wasn't as painful as he expected, but it hurt, and immediately after the lights were turned off. "A patch," he asked... "Please, just a patch."  The Antaran waited for a few minutes, with each second feeling like an eternity.

 

As his eyes adjusted to the new darkness, he heard the Antaran speak again. "Tell your friends that the same fate awaits them if they attempt to destroy this ship," the Antaran stated slowly and eerily. "I will not tolerate that," he said very slowly and pointedly, and with that the lights were on... and the pain... excruciating pain, and like that, his entire left side went numb while the other side throbbed.  His captor released him, and he immediately collapsed under his own weight. He could feel one side of his body, but it only felt a pain that he could have never imagined. The other side was dead. His captor picked him up with one hand.  With the other hand, it steadied his head so that it was constantly facing the overhead lights as it dragged him back to his cell. Each passing light was brighter than before and Zardosan could only scream in pain as he passed under them. "5000 years and nothing has changed," he heard the Antaran mutter, and then he fainted.

He was awake again now, back in the same room he was before. He could not move one side of his body, and he was completely blind in the eye that had been taken of him. The rest of his body throbbed in pain. He wanted to say something... anything to tell them what happened. Speaking with only half of his mouth was difficult, but the only words he could muster were "Kill me," as he passed out again, but not before he felt something worse than the pain.  The ship was shaking violently.



diehardtwinsfan #17 Posted 09 February 2016 - 01:15 AM

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It had been over two standard lunar cycles since the Noveim had quietly left Mentar on its exploratory mission.  They had embarked largely in secret from a planetary capital that had been largely spared the brutality of war over the last 100 or so cycles.  But within moments of dropping out of FTL, Kelvim could see things were changing. Dural also noticed it and was immediately salivating. War was coming. In front of him were 40 Psilon warships.  There were 15 cruisers, 27 heavy cruisers, and 3 battleships.  The battleship was a new hull design that was still under construction when they had left. They had the opportunity, on one of their last days before leaving, to do some test runs with one of those ships, though Kelvim was not sure which one. Their main goal at the time was to let the ship test its scanning and targeting capabilities against their cloaking device, but at that time, the ship's plasma weaponry was still not yet operational. He knew the Psilons were prototyping those weapons, as one of his science officers had come from that project, but he didn't think they were ready to commission them, but these three battleships said otherwise. Kelvim hadn't seen this many ships since the battle of Chondata, but that was 25 cycles ago, and he was only an ensign at the time.


Dural's excitement was obvious, much like his Humans were when they divided up the pirate cache they had found. He was ordering lots of scans, attempting to (in the words of his Human crew) 'have an early Christmas.'  Kelvim didn't quite understand Human nuance, but they were all rather amazed at the fleet that was in front of them. But that wasn't all that was there.  The Darlocks had a much smaller fleet in peaceful orbit, consisting of ten heavy cruisers, no doubt their finest ships, though not up to par with Psilon technology. Slightly further away, around the mining colony of Mentar I orbited some Bulrathi ships as well.  Their fleet consisted of 2 battleships and a dozen or so heavy cruisers.  Kelvim was somewhat curious as to why they were not with the rest of the fleets, but then again, he had never seen a Bulrathi ship as the Alkari and Darlock empires provided a nice cushion between the Psilons and the Bulrathi, and he knew that most species were wary of the Bulrathi.


 

Based on his quick scans, the Bulrathi were pretty close to the Psilons in technology, though his scans did notice a rather surprising inability to stack weapons on those massive ships.  They appeared to not do well with miniaturizing their weapons, or perhaps they lacked the external battle pods found on all Psilon ships.  Their shields were a bit weaker, probably class IV, but they all were carrying the plasma weaponry that the Psilons were just beginning to use. That wasn't too surprising as the Bulrathi outnumbered the Psilons in planets by a 3 to 2 ratio. Their ability to produce and research benefited greatly from far more real estate than any species in the core. Seeing all of them together there made Kelvim wonder if there had been a massive change in the political landscape since he was gone. Diplomatic ships were present too, for both the Humans, Bulrathi's, and the Darlocks.  Obviously something big was happening.  Diplomatic ships only arrived when the heads of empires were coming together.  That was rare.  There had been attempts to form a Galactic Senate in times past, but nothing had ever materialized.  Kelvim wasn't up to speed on galactic politics, but this might be the largest diplomatic gathering in at least 50 cycles.


 

They were greeted by the Emperor's personal fleet and were escorted through the fleet to Mentar.  Kelvim and his senior staff were immediately transported to the imperial seat and told to wait for the Emperor and his staff. That wait was short, too short.  Kelvim suspected that whatever was coming next was directly related to what had happened. D'Vron was sitting stoically near the end of the end of the large table, and Dural was pacing when the Emperor arrived.  He was not alone.  Besides several body guards, he had his imperial science and military officers and a couple of young secretaries, but strangely enough, no foreign dignitaries were present. "We don't have much time," the military officer spoke quietly. "We need to know what you found, what happened, and where you were."  That was easy enough.  Kelvim provided the locations of the 3 neutron stars as well as the location of the debris field.  In a few minutes, he had described what they had observed.  On finishing, the imperial science officer abruptly stood up to leave.  "Have a team bring all of the discoveries to our top military lab," he ordered to a young secretary. "Premier Drabel, see to it that we have a secure claim to that part of space." The imperial military officer nodded silently, as his scientific counterpart left the room.  Kelvim watched as D'Vron leaned forward in his seat. He had gotten to know this Darlock quite well in ten cycles of serving with him.  He could sense his apprehension.


 

The silence broke quickly with the Emperor himself speaking. "I'm guessing you already know that the Alkari empire is on the verge of collapse. The Antaran assault on their home world had left a void in their government that will not be quickly filled. The Bulrathi are pressing them from one side. The Alkari reaction has the Darlock fleet mobilized. Even the humans, as weak as they are, have mobilized.  Two days ago, the Humans sent their reserve fleet to Altair. It is escorting military and civilian transports. They will arrive in a week and expect to take the planet quickly. Talk began yesterday with the Humans, Darlocks, and Bulrathi.  The plan is divide their empire as peacefully as possible...."


"Then why aren't the Alkari here?" D'Vron interrupted.  Kelvim could sense the tone in his officer's voice, and that made him uncomfortable. Whether the Emperor recognized it or not, he didn't know. But he responded gracefully. "They have no leaders anymore.  We have summoned them, but no one has arrived. The Wardens convened to choose a new Galactic leader, but their military may have staged a coupe, or perhaps someone else did. Their assembly was bombed shortly after all the Wardens arrived.  Our operatives don't believe that any have survived.  With no leaders, that empire will collapse. The last two days have been spent attempting to divide their territory. The humans, for some odd reason, are willing to settle with Altair and the two closest systems. There at 10 inhabited planets in those 3 systems, and a few more that they could inhabit at some point. It's a small price to pay..."


 

"For what?" It was Dural interrupting this time. He was trying to be diplomatic, but that was diplomatic in a way only a Bulrathi could sense. To Kelvim, it would have been threatening had he not known better. "Those two systems contain their other two ship yards, their highest outputs, and not to mention the economic benefit" Dural continued, "they want the military prize for a war they did not start and a war they cannot win."


 

"We agree," the imperial military officer replied. "It's a hefty price, but only 3 systems of the 30 controlled by Altair. The Bulrathi will be able to take down the Alkari in short order... and no offense to you, but that is something the other powers are not comfortable with. The Humans do have their value, it keeps them happy, and they do have the useful ability to negotiate treaties.  Based on what you told us, we are more than willing to give up a few systems in our claim to make up for it. We are fortunate that the Bulrathi are fighting wars of their own with the Klackons and Mrrshan. While they may want a fight, even they know it's unwise to over extend themselves. The Darlocks and Bulrathi will take over most of the Alkari empire. We will reserve enough to ensure we have access to your discoveries. Your weapons and metal alone will allow us to defeat that Guardian and claim the planets behind it.  We may also be able to overrun the Sakkra or Silicoids as well. Sacrificing a few systems in the short run will give us many more in the long run, but we have one problem: the Darlocks know you where you were."


"Darlock trickery," Dural chuckled, "You can see that."


"Oh, we agree," the Emperor interrupted this time. "I have no doubt they were behind the bombing.  They shy away from direct conflict and use subterfuge to acquire and expand. If we had your abilities," he continued looking at D'Vron and smiling, "We would do the same thing.  We do not want a war in the core. There's too much of it going on already.  Our terms to the Alkari will be as peaceful as possible:  full citizenship into our empires along with lower taxes over their planets to allow them to rebuild quicker.  The Bulrathi and Darlocks plan on offering the same terms. We are going to take the five systems along that boarder.  The Bulrathi and Darlock will split the remaining 22 systems evenly. We will border the Bulrathi now too, but if this goes through, they have agreed to a non-aggression pact.  You just need to play your part."


"And that is?" D'Vron spoke up. "Unfortunately, someone on your ship is not who you thought. We don't know who the informant was, but the Darlocks followed you the whole time. They were cloaked in that debris field too. They know what you found. We've agreed to share the fruits of it with them, along with a few more planets since they will have no room to expand, and..." he hesitated realizing he had said too much. "The Humans when the time is right," Dural and D'Vron simultaneously finished it for him. Psilons weren't known for their trickery, and the sheepish look of the emperor was all the answer that anyone in that room needed. Kelvim's human crew always said that politics makes for odd bedfellows. What was once a tight alliance between the Psilons and Humans would unravel very quickly.  The Psilons would step aside once the Darloks had the tech needed to overwhelm their human opponents. The Bulrathi were too busy with bugs and cats.  The Psilons might be the real winners though, having sole access to the Sakkra and Silicoid worlds, not to mention the ability to settle whatever was behind that Guardian. It was a waiting game for them... a somewhat ingenious one. With the tech they found, time was on their side, and sharing it with the Darlocks made sense as everyone knew they'd end up stealing it at some point anyways.  But with the Darlocks being boxed in at the core, their expansion would be limited, but instead of fighting the Psilons, who would have the same technology, they'd likely fight the Bulrathi.


 

"You must corroborate their story," the emperor continued looking at Kelvim.  "Dural and D'Vron, you will proceed to your new ships. Congratulations on your promotions."


Edited by diehardtwinsfan, 09 February 2016 - 01:18 AM.


diehardtwinsfan #18 Posted 09 February 2016 - 11:42 PM

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View PostEmP64213, on 09 February 2016 - 08:36 PM, said:

That escalated quickly!

 

 

 

The real question is whether I should finish the campaign (which will be very long since I pretty much only play sole survivor) or just have it reach a particular end.



diehardtwinsfan #19 Posted 10 February 2016 - 02:15 AM

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Kelvim was surprised as to just how fast this room could be cleared. He was escorted with the Emperor to another room where he was given a quick DNA scan, magnetic scan, and blood test. While the Psilons were partnering with the Darlocks, it was clear they would not trust them, and for good reason. Darlock shape shifters were masters at stealth and subterfuge. These simple scans could prove his race with no problems. He knew from his time with D'Vron that Darlocks were excellent at assuming physical form. Assuming internal organs, mimicking behaviors, and adapting to species nuance were much more difficult tasks, but Darlocks were observant, and given time and practice, they could fool many tests, but certainly not all three.  Darlocks had easier time with Humans and Psilons, as their physiology, eyes, and ears were easy to mimic.  They struggled more with Alkari, particularly mimicing their internal hearing. Only Darlock spy masters could fool an Alkari well. Alkari's ears worked on a different wave spectrum, and their language was impossible for any other species in the core to learn as it was more a series of shrill screeches than structured. Alkari had a better time learning the language of others. Kelvim had once watched the master of Alkari studies at a the permier Psilon university attempt to communicate with Actesh in his native tongue. According to Actesh, it was equivalent to what he would expect out of an Alkari whose age was about 4 lunar cycles. As a species, Alkari had little youth, and this was the equivalent of comparing this instructor to a 6 year old Psilon.  The instructor had not been amused.


 

The results of the test didn't surprise Kelvim, but he did breath a sigh of relief that the test wasn't somehow rigged. He supposed that it had more to do with the benefit of the Bulrathi and Human delegates he was about to meet. Silently, he mulled over his new story. He didn't like telling lies. It wasn't natural to Psilons, even their politicians were known to be honest, something that only Alkari politicians could boast. Bulrathi politics was usually honest, but incredibly violent, as political contests resembled a melee as opposed to a reasoned debate. Kelvim wondered how they could ever accomplish anything, as nature rarely combined intelligence and strength, but then again, superpowers of the core were the Psilons and Bulrathi.  Darlock politics might have been the worst though, except for the fact that no Darlocks lusted for power. Kelvim was convinced that the Darlock empire would have never learned light speed if they had been blinded by the lust for power that he saw in humans. However, if a Darlock truly believed his or her cause, then nothing would stop them from accomplishing it. Darlock politics were idealistic in nature, and deception and murder were common in Darlock politics if someone had a reasonable cause, though Darlocks knew full well that these traits were better practiced on other species.


 

His story was relatively simple. It left out the technological finds.  The 'Antaran' attack was nothing more than a combined covert operation between the Psilons and Darlocks. The Psilons had agreed to this with the Darlocks for various reasons. The Darlocks needed room to expand, and the Psilons coveted a handful of planets that were heavy in Neutronium ore. No one else knew who the Antarans were, so they were going to admit that this was nothing but a well executed covert operation using Psilon technology and Darlock subterfuge.  Kelvim knew that the Psilons were expending an enormous amount of political capital for this, but given that the Humans and Bulrathi were both expanding their empires, their greed might blind them. Kelvim wasn't as certain the Humans and Bulrtathi would play along either, but they had seemed to buy the Psilon/Darlock tale. He knew that they also would agree to non-aggression out of the arrangement, but he wondered if it would be short lived. The Humans needed to build more ships. He suspected they wanted to try and incur on the Sakkra or Silicoids.  They needed planets more than anything else. He even thought the Psilon Emperor hoped for this as it might weaken one of them while they massed superior technology. He was afraid that they would target the Psilons instead or perhaps the Darlocks.  Now that they also bordered Bulrathi worlds, that could lead to another war as well.  The Bulrathi had their hands full on another front against the Mrrshans and Klackons. They needed more ships and more production. This would give it to them, and having the relatively peaceful Psilons at their backs and a third of the Alkari empire was more preferable than fighting 3 wars.  The Psilon empire was counting on the threat of war to be enough to keep the peace. His human crew had a term for this, from one of their ancient languages.  They called it Détente.  The language had long been dead, as was it's people, but many things from that culture apparently lived on. The Alkari presented another wild card here, but with few ships, no capital, no leaders, and a choice between quick extinction at the hands of the four empires or full citizenship among them, they would likely capitulate.  Their race had never known peace, and this was as close as it was going to get.


 

His next order of business concerned him. He was no longer in command of the Noveim, but was being handed the flag ship as well as command of the Psilon armada orbiting Mentar. His new ship was to be called Peacemaker, though he wasn't so certain he'd be making peace. The Noveim would remain in his fleet, though its cloaking device was already in the process of being removed. That was going somewhere the Darlocks didn't know about, as it was one of the few technologies that Darlocks had on Psilons, and there was no way they would allow the Darlocks to have their new finds while not having a comparable stealth technology to match them. Actesh had refused to leave the Noveim. It was truly his ship, and as such he was given command of the ship. D'Vron had a choice for his next assignment. He could become Kelvim's first officer, which Kelvim had personally lobbied for or he could join the research effort on the new technology, though the end result was that he would likely return to Nazin as a Darlock citizen.  The Emperor himself had encouraged D'Vron to make that choice.  Kelvim suspected that this opportunistic alliance would be short lived. Perhaps a level of trust would form between their empires, but this appeared to be more of a way for each empire to peacefully exchange members of the other's species so as not to be encumbered by citizens that might have secret allegiances.  In the end, D'Vron chose to be on the research team.  Dural would now be commanding the Widow Maker, a more appropriate name for a battleship, but strange for Psilons given that it was rare for members of their species to couple and reproduce. Their command arrangement was to be the same as on the Noveim.  Kelvim led the fleet, but deferred to Dural for military matters.  It was easier to do this on the same ship.  It would be more difficult on multiple ships.


 

Their first mission would be to return to the debris field and clear it. The Darlock cabal was providing an additional 15 Cruiser class warships once they were in route.  That left his Darlock counterpart with 25.  They appeared to be high tech.  The Darlocks apparently had plasma canons before the Psilons, meaning they had stolen it from the Bulrathi.  They were also mostly using anti-matter engines, neutronium, and class V shields. Kelvim was pretty sure most of that tech had been stolen.  These ships had Darlock cloaking as well.  He could overpower them should something happen, but they would exact damage.  He would command 41 Psilon warships, along with some interesting support ships.  The Psilons were adding 3 heavy cruisers called only capture ships. These weren't warships by any means, and were to remain behind the other 41. They were loaded with defensive capabilities, but their offensive weapons were replaced with tractor beams, and they had a huge complement of fighters whose only task was to board and capture ships, and these marines would be far better prepared and equipped than the ones he had on the Noveim. Both Darlocks and Psilons were supplying some very large salvage and transport ships. The metals were to be split evenly, as was the technology they discovered. A joint research facility was opened on an orphaned planet that they had found which sat between the two empires. It had no star, making their outpost impossible to detect. Each empire provided a heavy cruiser to guard it, and based on his final conversation with D'Vron, the security being setup by the two empires was enormous.  He knew that Antaran shielding technology was one big piece they would try and bring back. The computer technology would be studied as well, but given the damage at the debris field and the fact that at some point, all the data modules were removed, he didn't expect much progress, unless of course, they could take a living Antaran ship.  Before leaving, Kelvim received a report on the weapons they had brought back.  Scientists were pretty convinced that the Antarans had mastered particle beam technology, a weapon that literally dissolved molecular bonds.  The weapon of choice on the blue ships was different.  So far, no one had any idea as to it's theoretical origin. It was significantly larger than the particle beams, and presumably more powerful, so they dubbed it a death ray. The three neutron stars were also parceled out.  Since the wreckage was the same at each star, the Psilons and Darloks agreed that the star closest to their systems would be only theirs. The wreckage around the third star was to be harvested jointly, as would the debris field.


 

That would be more than enough to defeat two Antaran scouts, but Kelvim rightly worried that the Antarans would send reinforcements. He didn't like the delay. It had taken two weeks to get to Mentar from the debris field. They had spent a week loading supplies, making plans, and waiting for the Bulrathi's to leave which they did, and given that some ships in both fleets had ion propulsion, they would take nearly three weeks to return.  To cut that down by a few solar days, Kelvim and his Darlock counterpart agreed to send the ion based ships first.  The anti-matter ships would catch up to them in transit. As this week in port was coming to end, the first reports came back from the various envoys sent out to Alkari worlds. The Alkari were surrendering. They put up a fight initially, as ground forces mobilized and pockets of their navy congregated, but their new Darlock friends showed him their true power. Any Alkari leader that was resisting had been assassinated. He knew Darlock espionage was better than any, but this frightened him. They were ruthless, and if they could coordinate this type of a strike empire wide, then they were to be feared. These Darlocks were not like the ones that served on his ships. They were far more dangerous.



diehardtwinsfan #20 Posted 11 February 2016 - 04:45 AM

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Devin Cresbane quietly slithered through an air vent on the derelict Antaran ship carrying with him his stolen antaran pistol and some basic food supplies for his captured comrades.  Like so many of the crew of the Noveim, he had spent his entire life in Chondata under the rule of species other than his own. His story was a sadder one.  He was orphaned at a young age during one of the many alien invasions fought to conquer the planet. Having no name and no family, he had been raised in a small human religious commune and given a human name.  Like D'Vron, he had experienced the rule of several species in Chondata, and when he came of age, he had been given a spot in a premier Psilon military university. His field of study was engineering, but like many Darlocks, he put in extra time studying biology. These were common fields of study for Darloks. The engineering skills were necessary for assimilating technology, while biology was studied by those who were to be master spies.  The Psilons had encouraged him to study both. Like most Darlocks, he was a gifted engineer, though the study of biology was a bit more complicated. Darlocks learned that subject differently.  They had to become it. As a youth, his human guardians had encouraged him to develop his shape shifting abilities, often using animals from Sol as his template. He had mastered many of them, but by an adult, he was truly one with a reptile that humans called a snake.  As a Darlock in human form, his height was average for humans. As this reptile, he could shift to more than 15 feet in length. He had found this repitle to be useful for hiding in hard to reach spaces, and found it very adept at killing in single combat at short range.


 

On the Noveim, he was an engineer, but during their covert operations, he was often tasked with espionage. He was the closest thing to a master spy that the Psilons had on board. It was mostly his work that had allowed them to steal the cloaking device, something to this day he was still proud of. Stealing from the Darlocks was something that few had ever done, and his human upbringing had taught him to never back down from a challenge, and to be proud of accomplishments.


 

Since the Antaran take over, he had mostly assumed the reptilian form as the ship's ductwork made it suitable to quietly move. He had hoped to free his ship mates or destroy the ship, but the task had been slow going, and more Antarans had arrived on the ship, making his movements difficult. He had witnessed the mutilation of officer Zardosan.  At the time, he had counted only four Antarans on the ship.  That same night he surprised and strangled an unsuspecting Antaran in its sleep as retaliation.  He took and hid its weapon and armor, hoping that he could collect more and possibly overcome the ship, but the next day, they were greeted with more forces.  There were now at least two dozen Antarans on the ship, which made his movements all the more difficult.


 

The Antarans did not take well to the murder of one of their own. The brutally tortured and killed his human crewmate as a response.  To his credit, the Human did not reveal Cresbane's existence to the Antarans, though they openly wondered if a Darlock was on board.  They also made no efforts to feed or take care of their remaining prisoners.  After three days, the Psilons had to put Zardosan out of his misery, suffocating him in his sleep.  Each day since his mutilation he had asked them to kill him, and while they refused at first, it was clear his condition would not improve. He had been blinded in one eye, yet the presence of any light in that same eye had made him scream in pain. There were now only 5 prisoners, who were locked up, given no food or water.  Cresbane had taken it on himself to care for them, stealing food and dropping it through a small air vent. He made effort though to not be seen by them and visited only when they slept, so as not to let them know he was alive. It was better for them that way... at least for now.


 

To carry items, he had to adapt the snake form somewhat. It would have been an odd sight to a human, for sure, but this was more born out of practicality. He never went anywhere without the Antaran hand weapon, as it was his only means of defense if he was discovered. He wasn't going to be taken alive, and after his first kill, they always traveled in pairs of two or more. He had hidden away the larger rifle, armor, two grenades, and the personal deflector shield that the Antaran was not wearing when he killed it. He had hoped to collect a few more prizes and arm his Psilon friends.  Instead, he was now actively sabotaging their efforts and stealing food and water for him and the Psilon prisoners.


 

The Antaran ship was definitely different than a standard space ship. It had a huge labyrinth of pipes and conduits connecting it in ways a typical ship would never be constructed. The main chamber housed some sort of device, which for all their research they had yet to determine what it was. The ships engines, which had been damaged beyond repair were somehow tied into this device as well, as was the ship's computer systems and shield emitter. He used these conduits to move freely throughout the ship.  He would sleep in them as well, usually retaining the reptilian form. With the increase in crew, he had to concentrate his sabotage efforts to smaller things that weren't noticed. He would often move supplies to other locations, slightly undo certain types of work he observed them doing, and stealing things he could easily move that he was certain could not be tracked. Even this was proving more difficult, the Antarans were able to jettison the ship's damaged engines and remove its damaged shields, and no sooner had that happened and they were replacing them with new ones. Cresbande didn't know how many Antaran ships were now out there, but he knew when they would arrive. The entire area of space shook violently, like it did the first time they had come. This was strange to him, as space was a vacuum.  Yet each shaking brought more supplies, more crew, and whatever else they might need.  More enemies meant more precautions, and with no exit strategy, he was certain he'd be found at some point, but here was something about this ship that was important to them, and he wanted to know what.


 

As such, he had decided to change his approach. Since there were more Antaran's on board, he found it easier just to listen. He had a translator from the Antaran he had killed. The device was small enough that he didn't think they were tracking it, though he could never be sure. He resorted to listening and observing, something Darlocks did very well.  It was clear that the Antarans were a savage species, but highly intelligent. That had been obvious from the take over, but they seemed to have little more respect for each other than they did for everyone else. He had been able to steal a small Antaran computer device, but he found he could not read their language. He wisely deposited it with another Antaran's supplies.  That Antaran was killed the next day for his incompetence.  These types of things would be easy, and if he could identify the political layout, he'd be able to slow them down further.  For the most part though, he hadn't been able to learn much about what was important... until yesterday. He had been able to listen in on two new Antarans being debriefed of the situation. Apparently, this ship had been a part of some Antaran secret mission, one that their history books thought had failed.  It had failed not in battle though, according to their history, but because whatever they wanted to do with it didn't work. Through some sort of 'Orion trickery', they had been fooled. The Orions were something they spoke of constantly. He knew of no race called the Orions, but assumed it was the blue ships found in the debris field. These too were a powerful species, and one the Antarans both hated and feared. A great battle had been fought here long ago, and he was fairly certain that this ship wasn't a part of it.  Regardless, the Orions were victorious. This place was also an entry point between their worlds.  How that worked, he wasn't sure either. What he could tell was that this part of space was a place where they could hear what was on the other side, and a place that had been guarded by the Orions for more than a millennium.  The Noveim had woken them... somehow.


 

He had a new plan.  After leaving his friends with food, he returned to his lair.  These grenades would do.  Now to figure out how it worked.






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