To Curse the Darkness (Coalition, Confederation)
Posts: 4195
  • Posted On: Jan 6 2024 2:06am

Creanti A species indigenous to the Cree’Ar galaxy whose natural habitat was that of space and whose migratory patterns were as wide as the galaxy itself.  It is a rather long-lived creature that was introduced to the Corusca galaxy by the Cree’Ar, who had seeded various solar systems, included the Azguard System, with many eggs awaiting fertilization by Creanti spores.  Cree’Ar antiquity had noted Creanti eggs could find themselves in some backwater system dormant for centuries before a spore found its way there and still potent enough to fertilize.  No matter the distances involved, a spore always found its way to a receptive egg, the biological pull instinctual even across lightyears.  Still, despite the Cree’Ar’s best efforts, the Creanti species never thrived in this adopted galaxy.  And while there may be dormant eggs scattered throughout, it has been several decades since there has been a reported sighting of creatures.  They are currently considered endangered.








Dak frowned at the reading as the computer spit out a result that just should not exist.  But before he put forth a foot into his mouth and uttered his confusion aloud, he figured he would need to run a diagnostic on his equipment first.  Verify before one trusted was the modus operandi.  And yet, the computer did not lie.  It did not know how too.  And a mistake in output usually meant a mistake in input.  Dak searched his brain to see where he could have made such a mistake because what the readings were telling him was impossible.


Arun should not be growing denser.



Posts: 4195
  • Posted On: Jan 6 2024 9:55pm

Submind:   The transmission rates of the scans were off and as more fighters branched out set to Guardian’s pattern and signal routes came and went, the delay discrepancies lengthened.  And it was not just distances that attributed to the differences which was, well, almost impossible.  A picture was forming as groups of enemy fighters were found, surrounding a sightly larger craft, but each grouping seemed the same.  That 10% had gone up to 12% but the grid used skipped a good amount of space.  But partially blind was better than all blind.


And yet, according to the math…there should not be signal interference.  It was a relatively new concept that the Guardian system exploited to tighten the defense matrix as, as far as the submind knew, had not been used against an enemy in an real-galaxy situation. 


Even so, quantum tunneling was quantum tunneling and nothing should interrupt the transmissions.  Or delay ..or bend..




Would a quantum tunnel core through an existing tunnel or would it be rerouted?  Redirected causing a transmission delay?


The Guardian’s current grid pattern being used to spot map the enemy could be used to prove the existence of enemy wormholes but nothing further.  There was just to much space between locations to get a cear picture and the submind would need to drastically rework the grid algorithm.  If the gravity anomalies were the end-points of a wormhole, then a reworked algorithm would help determine the direction, length and positioning of individual wormholes.   That would also mean, however, a specific focus for a specific purpose and the wider coverage of the system would be lost.


This was a decision for Guardian Prime.  To focus future fighter flights to areas that captured signal discrepancies to determine wormhole specifics sacrificing the umbrella coverage of the system, even if spotty or to ignore the wormholes and sacrifice detail for wider system coverage?


And why were fighters disappearing?  It was not a great amount compared to the overall number of flights but, again, the pattern did not overlap and no two fighters were sent to the same area as the grid was set to cover the greatest amount of space in as little time as possible.  With no transponder signals being received it was a good bet that those fighters were destroyed as they came out of their microjumps, not even having time to run their scans.  But that was the danger of blind jumps.


Blind in the sense that these fighters were penetrating a battlespace that the enemy had occupied for a certain length of time.  And while it seemed… it seemed that the battlespace only went inward as far as Arun’s orbital sphere, this was by no means definitively confirmed.  The battlespace might subtly be enclosing around them!


The submind took all of 12.3 nanoseconds to panic before forwarding on its conclusions to Guaridan Prime.

Posts: 837
  • Posted On: Jan 20 2024 3:28am

The Meeting


“Truth” was all that the Minder had said.


Thracken Sal-Solo was still behind her. The priest was still there, dazed and confused. But Beiwi K'Vek still had a job to do. So she turned back to the Minder, squared her shoulders, and continued. “I am a representative of the Galactic Coalition, its governing body, and all of its constituent members. Though we are meeting within the home system of the Azguard people and on a member world of the Azguardian Union, this meeting is official conduct of the Coalition Foreign Ministry. The Azguard have no right to disrupt it, and no authority to end it. In the interest of peace and understanding, I do hope that you will choose to continue the dialogue between our two nations.” And with that, she gestured back toward the meeting room where they had first met.


She wanted it to be true. She hoped it was true. She wondered if that was enough for the mind reading alien?




* * *




Admiral Blakeley


The noose was closing. The Azguard had abandoned pretense. And now they had ships disappearing.


But the first round of Integrated Defense Grid installations were ready for redeployment. Guardian had selected a dozen rally points, randomly distributed above and below the system's orbital plane for the Defense Grid to redeploy its orbital assets to. Each of those locations was now home to a light frigate, which would serve as command hubs for each rally point, calculating and storing hyperspace jump trajectories, and listening for the coded commands from Citadel that would initiate the Meteor Shower.


Phase One launches calculated and ready,” Citadel reported.


“Do it.”


Operation Fly Swatter was a decoy; its purpose was to conceal the redeployment of the Azguards' mobile planetary defense network. That it had detected Dominion ships encircling the system was valuable, of course; and that a number of the Coalition's own starfighters had vanished without cause was troubling; but they couldn't turn back now. They had to see this through.


Which meant their deception had to hold. Operation Fly Swatter had to continue, and they had to respond to their vanishing fighters as if that concern was more than incidental. They had to make the Dominion believe that Fly Swatter was being pursued in earnest.


“It could be a ruse,” Blakeley said aloud, to no one in particular.


“To draw the fleet away from Azguard, into open space,” Citadel concurred.


If they moved in force to investigate one of the locations of a ship disappearance, they would be moving away from the protection of planetary defenses. Even if the Dominion didn't intend to destroy the fleet, they could trap it in an interdiction field long enough for any number of horrific scenarios to unfold. And that was assuming they didn't have some exotic technology that could just blow them all up while in transit in hyperspace.



The tactical map of the system was a haze of motion. Ships were popping in and out of hyperspace all over the place. And slowly, surely, that shell of “unidentified craft” encompassing the Azguard System continued to fill out with newly detected formations. Whatever had taken out their fighters might not even be there anymore.


“We have to do something.”


“We could -”


“We're moving out,” Blakeley said, having just thumbed on one of his priority comm lines.


“Yes, Sir,” came back the stiff reply from Vice Admiral Atom.


Blakeley left the line open. “Citadel, find us the nearest disappearance location that the largest number of our Galaxy Guns can get firing solutions on.”


“Yes, Admiral.”


“Admiral Atom, Citadel's going to be feeding you some coordinates.”


“Understood, Sir.”


Admiral Blakeley took a deep breath . . . it had to be done. “Once the jump is calculated fleetwide, the interdictor cruiser Molasses will jump to the lost fighter's destination coordinates. If it is prevented from reaching that destination by any means whatsoever, it will engage its interdictor so the remainder of the fleet can jump in formation after it and be pulled into its battle space.”


“Yes, Sir,” came the reply. “Make ready for battle conditions!” Admiral Atom could be heard saying as he began shouting commands to his own staff.


Blakeley closed the line and stared at the tactical display for a long moment. “Say something reassuring.”


Citadel's delay was no doubt carefully calculated for maximum compatibility with Jonathan Blakeley's psychological profile. “If you were an Azguard, we'd already be engaged over Arun.”


“And that's reassuring?”


“The Integrated Defense Grid hasn't completed its redeployment. You can jump to Arun at any time, Admiral; but once you do, you can never un-jump to Arun.”




* * *




The Ambush


Three thousand TIE Devils is a lot of TIE Devils. Some may think that six squadrons of the Coalition's fastest and flashiest Kris Fighters were irrelevant to a conflict on that scale.


Those people would be right. That's why the space around the Cooperative flagship was filling with a cloud of droid starfighters. The hangar bays of the Lucrehulk-class Battleship Guardian were emptying. While the fleet at large carried any number of starfighter designs in a variety of loadouts and proportions, the droid fighter racks of Guardian were still installed and in use. One thousand five hundred Guardian-refit Vulture-class Droid Fighters spilled from the flagship of the Cooperative fleet, at first diffusing like a cloud out into available space, but quickly separating itself into distinct groups, each group then moving under unseen command to execute specific orders.


Other ships of the fleet launched their own fighter compliments, most holding them near for now. It was, after all, the Cooperative's ample fighter compliment that had allowed Admiral Neychev to redeploy their point defense ships to reinforce the Confederate charge without critically compromising his own force's defensive capabilities. Guardian itself had been retrofitted with multiple flight decks for manned fighters, stripping out much of its droid ground assault capacity in order to convert it into a sort of supercarrier. Those manned starfighter, however, were being held in reserve for the moment.


Now, though, tactical was reporting a mass of Imperial fighters between the main fleet engagement and the Cooperative's fast attack groups, who themselves were chasing down the Imperial interdictors. They hadn't been immediately identified because of their small cross-sections: TIE Devils. They had the speed to get pretty much wherever they wanted to be in the battle space, and the Cooperative fast attack group didn't have the point defense or fighter complement to handle them if they attacked en masse.


Chasing an enemy they couldn't catch was pointless, so Admiral Neychev was left in the unenviable position of choosing between recalling the fast attack group and hoping they could survive a pass through the cloud of Devils to rejoin the fleet, or press the attack against the enemy Attack Spheres and hope that the Devils would defend their only ride out of the inky blackness between the stars.


The Confederates were holding inside of effective attack range, trading blows with the Attack Spheres, undoubtedly hoping for the interdictors to fall and allow the whole fleet to jump away. It was a good idea, simple and straightforward. Hells, the fast attack group might even be able to take out the interdictors before the Devils tore them apart, if Neychev was willing to make that trade.


It was all too obvious. There had to be more. “Where are the rest of the ships?”




Ambassadors Grace Nova and Rane Cardan were sitting at a quaint little cafe table in one of the diplomatic wings of the Cooperative flagship. The dining area was clear except for the two of them; even the droid bartender at the far edge of the cafe was powered down out of sight somewhere. Their attendant had been kind enough to override the controls on the table's holoprojector, converting it from a menu display to a full-color rendering of the battle outside.


Grace leaned back in her chair, clearing the edge of the hologram from her line of site with Rane; they had taken up seats next to each other at the round table so they wouldn't have to talk through the hologram at each other. “Six Imperial Attack Spheres. They should have dozens of support ships: cruisers, escort frigates, gunships at minimum. More if they were paired with Star Destroyers. So where's the rest of the fleet?”


“Which means what?” Rane was making no effort to conceal his nerves.


Grace leaned back in. “Which means either these were pressed into service from some oddly specific mothballs the Dominon got their hands on – crews trained to operate them fetched from who-knows-where – or . . .”


“Or there's more of them out there?”


“We aren't slowing,” Grace noted, furrowing her brow. Since the Confederates were holding position and slugging it out with the Attack Spheres, the forward sections of the Cooperative fleet had already caught up to them and fallen in formation beside the Confederates. Guardian and the other heavy capital ships were closing on them, and should be well into a deceleration if they were going to join the Confederates in their brawl. The combined power of the two fleets should make short work of the six Imperial capital ships.


But that wasn't happening.


“Guardian, what's going on?” Grace asked, poking at the hologram as if it would respond to her manual manipulation, which it did not.


“The admiral is concerned about the edge of the gravity well,” their babysitter said, a little blue-and-white humanoid form sparking to life on the surface of the round tabletop. It wasn't exactly “the Guardian” conducting the battle, it had explained. Rather, it was a sort of “babysitter” spinoff that had passive access to some of the tactical datafeeds. It could keep them company and forward certain information as the battle developed, but it wasn't a participant in the ship's combat activities.


“Concerned?” Rane asked. He was clearly trying to distract himself from his own discomfort by pretending to be interested in the conversation. It didn't' seem to be working, but there wasn't much else to be done for him under the circumstances.


Grace nodded as Guardian zoomed out the display and overlayed two translucent spheres to represent the estimated areas of effect of the Imperial interdictors. “The farther they run, the closer we get to the edge of the gravity well.”


“That's good, right? We can leave if they get out of range, right? Right?” He needed the answer to be “Yes.”


“They're running toward Azguard. If they move beyond the effective interdiction range, we can jump away, but we can't jump toward Azguard. We'd just run into their fields again. But if there are more Imperial ships out there, those ships could hyperjump into the battle and use their own interdiction field for a precision jump on top of us.”


Rane leaned back in his chair and let out a long sigh. “That sounds too complicated to pull off. That's got to be too complicated to pull off, right?”


Grace shook her head slowly, her attention fixed on the display. “We haven't even closed with their interdictors yet. We don't know if they're moving evasively, or if they're just executing a preplanned maneuver. There could be any number of Imperial scout ships in nearby space, outside of the interdiction, signaling another fleet by hyperwave. We don't know. The admiral doesn't know, and he's got to decide . . . he has to have already decided, in less time than it took me to work this out, now that I think about it.”


“How do you know all of this?” Rane asked. His wonder seemed genuine, a nice little break from his nauseous anxiety.


Grace cracked a smile. “I'm the Cooperative ambassador to the Contegorian Confederation, a nation founded by the people of Kashan, a warrior society that didn't exist as an identifiable culture fifty years ago. This is how I keep up at the dinner table, before official business even kicks off.” Her thin smile vanished and she leaned in, squinting at a particular spot on the display. “Guardian what the fuck is going on with this maneuver!?”




* * *




Admiral Keyn Neychev wasn't a Cooperative type. He was an Onyxian, truly and deeply. He didn't have the time to consider that distinction at the moment, and he didn't have the disposition to do so at any other moment. What he had was command, and the necessity imposed by combat.


IFF had just flagged an ocean of TIE Devils bearing down on the fast attack group he'd sent to chase down the Imperial interdictors. They were out of position and hopelessly outgunned. So why were the interdictors still running away?


“Maintain our acceleration and adjust course to put us here.” He stabbed at the holodisplay with two fingers, indicating a point in space closer to the Attack Spheres than the Confederate fleet, and directly between the Attack Sphere formation and their TIE Devil fighters. “All Cooperative vessels that are now moving to assist the Confederates will rejoin us as we pass.”


He heard the chatter coming from the communications pit as dozens of junior officers relayed the orders throughout the fleet. “Our fast attack group will break off from their pursuit and maneuver to meet us at the Attack Spheres with all the speed they can muster.” They'd have to plow straight through the Devils to execute that maneuver, but meeting them head-on would minimize the time the Devils could fire on them, and maximize the time it took the hostiles to turn and reengage them. If the Devils chose to follow them into the repositioned Cooperative fleet, they'd have to wade through waves of droid starfighters intermixed with manned interceptors, then brave the point defense guns of the Cooperative's regrouped escort ships.


Unless the Devils had a reason to turn back now, before engaging the fast attack group at all.


“Inform Admiral Lucerne that we are preparing a mass bomber run on the Attack Spheres, and request any available fighter/bomber wings assist in a coordinated strike.” He reviewed the tactical display as it updated to show the projected maneuvers. “Execute the bombing run with fighter escorts as soon as the fleet reforms,” he ordered, pointing at the spot in the display where several curving lines converged, showing the projected maneuvers of various faster Cooperative ships that would rejoin the heavy ships as they flew by.


The Cooperative could have moved between the Confederates and the Imperials to shield the Confederates from the ongoing assault, but that would have blocked the Confederates from returning fire. They could have moved in beside, but then the Imperials would have no incentive to change targets and there would be no pressure on the TIE Devils to reposition themselves. By moving in closer to the Attack Spheres, it made the Cooperative a more inviting target, and a more threatening enemy. As ranges closed, there was less time to intercept missiles, and less opportunity for faster light ships to evade heavy fire.


And unless the Devils turned back immediately, these six lonely Imperial warships were going to be shredded by thousands of anti-ship torpedoes, while a whole fleet blocked those little devilish bastards from rejoining their motherships.


“Orders away, Sir,” came the comm officer's confirmation.


Keyn Neychev was an Onixian officer. If this were an Onyxian command, none of this would be happening. Their ships would have blown through this trap with barely a hiccup, their fleetwide HIMS punching them through this lightweight interdiction with little more than a shudder through the deck plating. If this were an Onyxian command . . .


“Advise Admiral Lucerne that we are engaging our own interdictors to screen against enemy reinforcements; request that they do the same.”


“Yes, Admiral.”


Maybe it was eight captured Imperial vessels in the black of space, intended as nothing more than an early warning system for their Dominion masters. Maybe it was an ambush set with the expectation of encountering a much smaller force.


Maybe it was bait for something far more.


In the best case scenario, they'd never know for sure.




* * *




Interdiction fields, pulse shields, MGLT ratings, point-defense frigates, cafes on a warship. It was a lot to keep track of. Too much, even. That might bother a Cooperative-type. It might trouble them, haunt them even, make them second-guess themselves.


Admiral Keyn Neychev wasn't that type, though. Guardian suspected, with the barest thread of excess computing power available under combat conditions, that he might just be the type that they needed in that exact moment.