Jan 20 2014 7:07pm
A3 Nemesis-class Bomber Erinyes Eight, Contruum System
Lieutenant Kirst's shuttle-like starbomber soared into the dreary star system. Contruum, a blue and brown swathed orb, dominated the viewport in front of him. But his green eyes immediately drifted from the Reaver afflicted world to the glinting metal structures around the world. Star destroyers half-covered in gaping holes lazily drifted around the world. Dozens of smaller craft consorted with the heavy cruisers, drifting in their wakes or flitting about between the star destroyers to the surface of the world below. Kirst watched their blue exhaust of their ion engines fade away into tiny specks inseparable from either the world or the star field behind it. A brief buzz filled his headset.
“It almost looks like nothing's changed since last time,” quipped his bombardier behind him, “you think they rebuilt it all already?”
“Can't have,” decided the man from Ter Abbes, “the Reavers are masters of corrupting things, not making them from scratch. Besides, with the Confederates off of Lantillies and Gizer now joining our raids from Ter Abbes, they have to keep some focus on defense now...”
“Speaking of which, our five o'clock.”
He immediately swiveled his head to watch a pair of some sort of Tie variants soar just over the small formation of Confederate bombers. He almost felt as if he could see the ragged suits of the abominations manning the Reaver starfighters. As their blue ion engines faded into the distance, Kirst goosed his throttle forward, leading the quartet of star bombers closer to the afflicted world. Staring at the growing orb in his cockpit, Kirst took a deep breathe in of the sterilized air. It never gets easier, does it? Shaking his head, the man began to eye the looming hulks drifting around the world. He almost immediately spotted a relatively undamaged vessel, an older Carrack-class Light Cruiser dutifully following one of the larger star destroyers around. Slowly banking his starship towards the man, he began to inspect the craft more closely. Many of the laser cannons had been removed, suggesting to the man that it likely dated from the Clones Wars; many of the light cruisers from that age had been refitted into transports for important people, such as planetary Moff's, under the old Empire. Some had doubtlessly fallen into the other hands of the various factions that sprung up after the second death star's destruction. Yet while he was unsure of its origins, its new allegiance and size made it the perfect target for the Confederate marauders. He toggled his comm array.
“Target the aft power generator bulbs, and prepare to fire on my mark....Three, two, one, mark.”
Dozens of orange blobs jetted out of the bombers' holds to smash into the ovoid structure of the warship. Orange blossoms continuously jetted out of the ship's starboard side even as the ship's lighting went dark on that half of the ship. Kirst lead his flight around the craft and unleashed another volley of missiles into the ship's other main ionization reactor. The missiles and bombs blasted apart the hull plating, causing another mini chain reaction which enveloped the hull of the carrack in a brief, but mostly ineffectual, fireball. The power briefly went out on that side as well as the warship moved to running on its reserve power cells. The Confederate starbombers jetted away from the stricken craft, even as dozens of Reaver vessels converged on their location.
“I'd say we got their attention now...: suggested Horgs, his weapon's officer.
“Now we just have to keep it. Want to starting the bread crumb trail?”
“All weapons free to fire?”
Kirst spared glances at the incoming Reaver vessels, a motley array of craft that would have made a used starship lot run for its money. His HUD lit up as Horgs began to select a multitude of them as targets. Missiles jetted out from the craft. One slammed into a Tie-like fighter, destroying it in a brief inferno. Several more surged out to detonate on some sort of shuttle. Around him, the members of Erinyes' Third Flight attacked the various Reaver craft around them, leaving a trail of burning debris and wounded starships in their wake as the starbombers jetted away towards the outside of the system. Kirst yanked his yoke downwards, leading his flight in a dive that took them just below the boxy hull of an oncoming reaver-infested bulk freighter. Kirst spared a glance at his rear sensor profile, showing a swarm of angry red dots, including two of the star destroyers, trailing them. He flipped a button on his headset, switching its channel.
“We've got them on the goose chase. It's all yours now.”
Kleeque-class Transport Blue Bantha, Contruum System
A pair of large intersystem ferries jumped into orbit around the world. Each release a pair of escape pod like objects, which plummeted into Contruum's blue skies before detonating into massive magnetic pulse shock-waves which thundered down to strike the planet, rendering the Reaver nanites in the area inert. Each starship plummeted down the waves of the corridor cleared by the magnetic pulses. Captain Vyruis gripped the armrests of the Bantha's command chair and quietly swore as a red-haired man struggled with the yoke of the starship. Vyruis's brown eyes widened as they plunged through the clouds; his stomach felt like it was smashing up against his rapidly beating heart. He cleared his throat.
“Pash, are you sure we're going to make this, or do we need to hit the pods?”
“I got this, all right?”
The gray clouds gave way to reveal an almost pleasant-looking field of grassland surrounded columns of trees. Vyrius eye's immediately turned towards the towering gray buildings rose around the municipal park. A pair of airspeeders soared towards them. Ours, or their's? The two craft circled around the transport, looping around to fall in with the transport. Good to see the resistance is still kicking all right. The redheaded pilot brought the nose of their transport up and lowered the transport's landing gear. Vyrius immediately tapped a button on his console, lowering the vessel's ramps. Out of the building, hundreds of people surged out of hiding to board the Blue Bantha and its sister ship, the Electric Equus. A crimson countdown splashed itself across everyone's consoles. Pash turned his pale green eyes onto Vyrius.
“How many runs have you done now Cap?”
“You're crazy,” said Vyruis, wiping a bead of sweat, “one of these days, they're going to get us.”
“Maybe, but they're not there yet,” countered the other man, glancing at a running timer, “and besides, the Confederates are helping us. You have to admit, things are looking up, even for you.”
Vyrius snorted, “You're lucky your father is in charge of this thing.”
The timer went to zero. Vyrius slapped the button again, closing the ramps of the transport. The Contruum resistance along with the few who hadn't managed to make it back onboard fled the area. Meanwhile, Pash brought up the starship to rocket back into space. The clouds gave way to the starry skies and the Reaver fleet returning from their wild goose chase of the Confederate marauders. Before the Reaver vessels could get within range, the transports of the Contruum Resistance jumped away to the safety of hyperspace.
CG-10 Centaur Surefoot, outskirts of the Contruum System
“Have you ever read the late Grand Moff Drayson's On War?” questioned Rear-Admiral Costigan.
Captain Aspholme of the Foudroyant winced, “Can't say that I have. Is it better than Admiral Lucerne's Defense in Depth?”
“Lucerne is a more technical writer, which is why you'll never see his treatises out of the Confederation's Academies. No, Drayson waxes more philosophical than Lucerne does,” mused the man from Genarius, “she more or less postulates that war is not a logical matter for many people, but rather, it is an outcome used as a tool to harness people's emotions to make otherwise hard political choices.”
“You think she's right?”
“Sometimes,” admitted Costigan, eying the rest of the starship's passengers, all of them part of Dalos IV's Special Boat Group. But none of the ex-smugglers, conmen, or pardoned criminals took any notice of the naval officers, preferring to chat among themselves about various sundry topics. Costigan turned his brown eyes back to ex-pirate.
“War is not the neat sterilized encounter that Lucerne's textbooks would suggest it is,” said Costigan, “but that's why I'm here, and he isn't. Lucerne sees the offense as a last resort. I see it as a necessity. I like to think the Reavers have proven my school of thought more accurate than Lucerne's.”
“Lucerne still holds the Council's sway...”
“For the exact reason's that Drayson writes about,” noted Brailey, wiping a speck of dust from his uniform, “though I have to give Lucerne credit, he is learning. Do you know where he took the Stormfire and the rest of the frigates too, aside from nearby asteroid belts?”
“I can't say that I do...well...not for sure. Some say he's mining them out to build weapons. Others are saying he's looking for the perfect base to fight the Reaver's from.”
“There are parts of truth in both of those comments.”
“But not the real truth in either.”
“True,” admitted Costigan, “but let's face it, not everyone is man in the other Rear-Admiral's mold. But tell me, what have you heard of Contruum Six?”
“That we're going to die from the cold before we do of the Reavers...”
“Close enough, let's go take a look, we should be reverting from hyperspace soon. The Swiftsure and the rest of the fleet isn't that far away from the system...”
The two men rose from the bench and edged their way around the Dalos IV irregulars to the cockpit's entry way. As they entered the little room, Aspholme's eyes immediately fell upon the small, icy world of at the edge of the Contruum system, Contruum Six. No large ships jetted around the world, as the odd coalition of the Contruum resistance, the corporate government of Contruum Six, and the Contegorian Confederation had decreed that such vessels would attract too much nearby Reaver attention. Only a handful of Juaire II corvettes quietly glided around the world with their systems mostly powered down to avoid long range detection. At the bow of the vessels, dozens of men and droids threw out what at first appeared to be trash cans to Aspholme's eyes. He quickly realized that they were actually mines. He had heard that the few Reaver scout vessels that had bothered to check out the unusually planet had never returned to their fleet; supposedly the world's inhabitants had an unusually large amount of surface to air missiles which had thus far made the world more of a hassle than it was worth to the Reavers. Their transport jetted towards the surface of the world, passing a pair of Juaire corvettes jetting up from the world back to deep space. The Foudroyant's commander eyed one of the passing transport corvettes, recognizing the name painted on the side.
Aspholme murmured, “So that's where all the troops have been going.”
“Staging for the invasion of Contruum.”
“And that's why you're here, not Lucerne,” noted the ex-pirate.
Brailey nodded, “I'm more offensively minded that Lucerne, not that he hasn't added anything of value to my plans. Are you ready to meet Sheamus Orling, CEO extradionarre?”
“I guess? He seemed nice enough on the holo-feed to us.”
“He's probably ready to get all of our troops off his soil, to stop having the Contruum Resistance pass off their survivors through his world as a transit point...”
Jim shrugged, “Or perhaps to just get rid of the Reavers from his doorstep...”
“No, you don't say...”
Jan 25 2014 6:15pm
The Surefoot's landing gear hit the surface of the world with a dull thud which reverberated throughout the cabin. A loud series of mechanical sounds followed by a tide of cold air announced to the ship's occupants that the ramp was lowered. Wincing, Costigan and Aspholme quickly secured the clasps of their white officers' thermal cloak, drawing them snugly up against their bodies. They strolled down the ramp, followed by a pair of C1s and the motley array of Dalos IV irregulars onto the snow swept landing pad. Powdery snow flew up into their faces, briefly obscuring a trio of men walking towards them. The first appeared to be wearing a puffy olive coat adorned with a patch of white peppered with five red dots, followed by a pair of men in white wielding ceremonial blaster rifles. The first man offered them a salute, which Costigan quickly returned with an unusually crisp motion from him. His breath quickly rose up in front of his face to wander into the wintery skies.
“General Cracken, I did not expect to see you...”
The native of Contruum offered a shrug barely visible through his puffy coat.
“You're the most senior Confederate officer to yet visit our system. It is a momentous occasion. Forgive me Rear-Admiral, but who is that man besides you?”
“Captain Aspholme,” replied the tall man, extending a hand to the former rebel.
The two men quickly grasped hands through their thick gloves and offered a clumsy shake of hands. Cracken turned around to walk through the corporate security guards, leading the two Confederate officers through a short path cut into the glacial plains that morphed into a ravine. Behind them, the Dalos IV irregulars met up with the corporate security guards who lead the other Confederates to a set of larger blast doors. Cracken swung open a small durasteel door in the side of the ravine and ushered the two other men into the underground city. The city's warmth immediately caressed the mens' faces, banishing the numbness brought on by the world's harsh climate. Looking forward, the men strolled into the lounge of the private landing pad. Aspholme began to loosen his winter cloak.
“Well this is certainly better than I'd thought it be...”
Cracken barked a quick laugh, “What? You were expecting Hoth? Contruum Six has been settled for over a thousand years. This city is hundreds of years old. Believe me, as claustrophobic as it can get, West Haven has most of the comforts of home. Beats the hell of out most of the Alliance bases I remember being stuck on...”
Costigan nodded, “How is your resistance faring?”
“Well enough, I suppose,” mused the gray-haired man, “my son just lead another trip to the world and evacuated more survivors, with the help of your people off of Ter Abbes...”
“I regret we don't have a better place for them right now...”
Airen grinned, “Between an ice world like this or a temperate desert, believe me, the choice is fairly easy, as dull as Eregion sounds like to you...but I have to get to a point. I didn't just meet you out of there for the fun of it, as nice as that weather is. I wanted to talk to you before the conference. Before you meet Mr. Orling.”
“Too late...” muttered Aspholme.
“We've talked to him before on holo,” explained Brailey, eying the other man carefully, “but what is it?”
“He's not what he seems to be. We could never pin it on him, but I think he's part of criminal syndicate. A large one.”
“What makes you think that?” questioned Brailey.
Cracken's eyes narrowed, “Let's just call it a hunch for now. Just be careful of what you give or tell him...”
The general from Contruum led the two Confederates deeper into West Haven. Holo advertisements from the various subsidiaries of Contruum United, notably Triple Six Inc, plastered the otherwise plain duracrete walls of the city. Very quickly, the men found themselves in the heart of West Haven, an artificially bored out cavern that stretched for kilometers, with hundreds of minor shafts and interlocking caverns growing of it. Looking around, Aspholme could still the plasma sear marks from where beamdrills hundreds of years ago had bore through rock, back when West Haven was little more than a mining shaft ran by tenacious prospectors. Now multistory buildings rose up to touch the ceiling of the cavern. Cracken lift a finger and pointed at largest building, a rising ziggeraut covered in an almost glyph-like pattern.
“The Headquarters of Triple Six Inc. They pretty much run the city, and much of Contruum Six, along with a few other mega-corporations. But none of the other ones have quite the size or influence of Triple Six. That's where everyone is meeting, but come, I've got a landspeeder waiting...”
The three men wander over to a nearby street, where an arrow-head shaped V-35 Courier rested. Cracken clicked a button on his comlink, which unlocked the doors of the silver economy landspeeder. The men clambered onboard, with Cracken taking the driver's seat. Soon, the officers found themselves in the heart of the city, wading through a moderate amount of traffic. Aspholme found himself idly glancing out the speeder's tinted windows, looking at the various shops and restaurants he might be able to stop by later while Costigan and Cracken chatted about various little military aspects of the ongoing operations against the Reavers in the system. Minutes later, Cracken flashed a badge to a Triple Six Inc security guard, which allowed the speeder to enter a parking garage attached to the Triple Six Inc headquarters. They exited the vehicle and strolled through a series of hallways and checkpoints until Aspholme had no idea where they were in the building. Finally, they took a turbolift up into an octagonal room built with mostly transparisteel walls, offering a panoramic view of the West Haven. Dozens of officers and dignitaries of the Contruum system and the Confederation military forces in the area sat around a large “U”=shaped table. Their chatter grew quiet as the three men entered the room. Several Confederate officers turned their eyes onto the Rear-Admiral. Costigan returned their gaze, shook his head, and gestured with a palms down gesture to stay seated.
“Welcome General, Rear-Admiral,” announced a man wearing a tailored business suit, extending a hand to the man.
“Mr. Orling,” offered Cracken.
“It's Shea, General. Please call me Shea...”
“Shea, it's a pleasure to finally meet you in person,” said Brailey, grasping the other man's hand, “especially after talking to you on the holo-screen for so long.”
Shea dropped his hand, gave it to the other Confederate, “It is good to see you too, Captain. I trust your trip was not altogether too unterrible. Now that you are all here. We can begin the meeting.”
Jan 26 2014 12:55am
Two hours passed quicker than Aspholme would have thought possible. It seemed as if nearly everyone wanted to give a quick briefing on their own subject of expertise, ostensibly because nothing had been transmitted electronically to keep the Reavers from possibly learning about it. A Confederate colonel briefly discussed the subterranean base the Confederation had set up on Contruum Six, established by no less than twenty Poseidons and nearly three dozen engineering Hephaestuses. From the countless holos shown by the man, Aspholme almost felt as if he had lived in the base at one point. Shea detailed the fallout back defenses of Contruum, from the minefields to the local theater generators to the volunteer anti-airmen equipped with hundreds of Belgardi Tridents. He announced that a complement of Triple Six Inc's more experienced security guards would be joining the mustering forces of the Contruum Resistance and the Contegorian Confederation. Cracken, for his part, kept his mouth shut, deferring all questions to political leader of the Government in Exile, Kesh Derell, half-brother of the Prime Minister executed by Admiral Kyoto years ago. Costigan added the intermittent quip to the Confederation briefings about fleet strength, but otherwise kept quiet. Finally, Shea rose and broadly smiled.
“It is getting late my friends, and soon we shall have a dinner break,” stated the big man, “but I wish to make an announcement. I have consulted with the other corporations running the rest of our world. Together we have decided to embrace our allies, not as fellow comrades in our fight against the Reaver menace, but as full-fledged partners and friends. I am pleased to announce that Contruum Six has applied to become a full-fledged member of the Contegorian Confederation. The final details are currently being negotiated by my personal assistant on Genon with the Council as speak, but he has informed that sometime tomorrow, the treaty will be ratified. When we fight the Reavers, we not be allies, we will be you...”
Aspholme immediately shot a glance at Costigan, who was already intently watching Cracken's face. The older man kept his lips thinly pressed together as he stared down the corporate executive. He clearly thinks that Shea is up to something. But what? Aspholme tried to bring up what he knew of the Contruum Resistance. But aside from being survivors of the world, he knew little about them. He knew that neither Cracken nor Derell were supporters of the Empire that had controlled Contruum earlier, yet that told him little about their nuanced political stances. But Cracken's political beliefs could easily be broadly estimated by his former allegiance to the defunct New Republic. Yet Aspholme was sure Cracken's loyalty wasn't to the Confederation, but Contruum itself. Not that he could fault the man for his loyalty, yet if Shea did become a person of significant power within the Confederation, Costigan and the rest of the Confederate would be more inclined to listen to Shea's plans for the system rather than Cracken's. All of Cracken's careful collaboration with the Confederate military staff for Contruum's liberation had the potential to be completely sabotaged by inter-system politics.
The room broke out in clapping as various Confederates and Contruum Six natives broke out clapping. Even Provisional Governor Derell joined in the applause, lightly clapping despite a forced expression of disinterest plastered over of his face. Sitting still in his chair, Cracken kept his eyes on the corporate executive, analyzing the other man as he shook the hands of those nearby. Costigan rose up from his chair, briefly congratulated Mr. Orling and strode over to the general from Contruum. Aspholme followed suit, and joined the duo right before the Provisional Governor. Airen wearily eyed the men gathering around him.
“Well, this could change things,” sighed the old soldier, “but let us all talk over dinner. I know just the place.”
The men shuffled out of the room via one of the passenger turbolifts. Rather than using Cracken's almost compact V-35, the men rode in Derell's Astral-Eight landspeeder. The spaceship like design easily accommodated them all with much room to spare. Cracken produced a quick device out of his jacket and briefly scanned the landspeeder.
“It's clear,” announced the man.
Derell let out a sigh of relief. Costigan frowned.
“Been having a bug problem?”
“You might say that,” sighed Derell, “though I haven't seen any in the last week. Perhaps whoever's been trying to monitor us has quit.”
“Or they just changed their methods more likely...” dryly commented Cracken.
“Who would want to spy on you, because it's obviously not the Reavers,” said Aspholme.
“I can think of two obvious ones straight off the top of my head: the Empire and Orling,” said Costigan, “That is, if what you say about the man is true.”
“He just announced a game changer tonight,” said Cracken, “perhaps he's not spying on us, because already closer to what he needs in whatever scheme he had us involved in before. That's a bad sign. Because if it's him, and I really think it is, he's up to something.”
Costigan cleared his throat, “I have a lot of respect for you General. But I really do need some sort of proof, or maybe even potential evidence before I can go much further with this one on you. Because if you don't, then I'm conspiring against a potential superior, or maybe even a Confederate citizen.”
“I understand Admiral, believe me. You can't make assumptions without evidence. But worry not, we're almost at Mr. Derell's house, where we can talk a little bit more, and I can show what I have obtained about Mister Orling.”
Aspholme frowned and stared at the Provisional Governor, “You live here? Permanently?”
The Contruum man ruefully grinned, “I've lived here far longer than I would have liked. But when the Empire shoots your brother, it's not exactly safe to live on the world they took from you. There's a small diaspora of fellow Contruum citizens who have taken refuge here from the Empire. Far enough away for relative safety, yet close enough to go back and visit family and friends on occasion, if you're careful, that is...”
Jan 26 2014 2:04am
Derell's Residence, West Haven, Contruum Six
Kesh Derell's house was a moderately sized duracrete cylindrical tower which rose several stories off the “ground” level of the street. It seemed a little too avante garde for Aspholme's taste, but upon stepping inside, he began to appreciate the design a little more. Each level was completely open, giving an appreciated sense of openness that missing from West Haven's occasionally claustrophobia-inducing street design, with its narrow streets and overreaching buildings. Kesh quickly led them through his living room up them up a flight of circular stairs to the level that served as both the kitchen and the dining room. His wife, a thin brunette with a slight accent, quickly paced throughout the room, followed by a pair of humanoid servant droids, finishing up the preparations for their dinner. Kesh swept his left hand, gesturing for them to take a seat on the narrow black table. They did so.
“What would everyone like to drink?” asked Derell, rummaging through his liquid's cabinet.
“Water is fine for me, thank you,” said Cracken, plugging in his datapad to the room's holo-pod.
“I second that,” agreed Costigan, pulling up a chair next to Cracken.
“Captain?” questioned the Provisional Governor, “what can I get for you?”
“Be honest with me.”
“A cup of caf.”
“You're not going to be up all night, are you captain?” questioned Costigan with an eyebrow, “then again, I do need you to stay awake for the rest of the briefing. You know what, I'll have a small cup of caf too, Governor.”
“Two waters, two cups of caf coming up.”
They gathered around the holo-projector, with Crestin, Kesh's wife, bringing up an assortment of appetizers as Cracken began his little briefing. Most of the evidence he presented, while unusual, was nothing that they could condemn the man for. Of course, few could dispute that a man who had bought thousands of Trident missile launchers wasn't up to something, even if ostensibly it was to protect the planet against Imperial aggression. Just as their rosemary braised gornt steaks were serving to them by the servant droids, Cracken pulled up one last holo, which appeared to depict a distant freighter hovering over Contruum Six. Cracken pushed a button, playing the holo-feed. The freighter glided past the camera towards a nearby star destroyer. As it passed the Imperial vessel, it exploded.
“This happened just before the Empire took over our world. They used it as part of their justification for taking over Contruum.”
“But that looks like Contruum Six...”
“Same solar system,” sighed Cracken, “supposedly some Sons of Liberty group was responsible for this. For a long time, I thought it had just been some Imperial black ops project designed to give an excuse to invade our world. But I did a little digging when they invaded our world, hoping maybe, just maybe to see if there was such a group that I could work with to liberate our world from the Imps, like we did before.”
Costigan frowned, “I get this isn't exactly the sort of group you were hoping it to be...”
Cracken shook his head, “No, not exactly. They appear to have some ties to the Galactic Liberation Front.”
Aspholme shuddered. The GLF had developed quite the reputation for running oftentimes gruesome but highly effective terrorist attacks. How the GLF survived was beyond most people's guess, with how many enemies they had developed, yet the group had thrived, apparently supported by some unknown wealthy benefactor. Such an attack wouldn't have been out of place with the GLF's methodology. Costigan swished a little bit of the water in his mouth.
“I'm going to guess that you're going to propose that Mister Orling has ties to these Sons of Liberty.”
“I think so. I did a little spying around here once, while trying to scrounge up supplies for the resistance group I was trying to organize on Contruum. Double Six Inc has a rather remote facility some several hundred kilometers southwest of here. I managed to discover it based on only a rumor. At first, it appeared to be a small random warehouse for some of their pricier goods. I suppose the remoteness does make a pretty secure spot, but once I got in, I realized how much more there was to the place. They were storing hundreds of Trident missiles there...”
“Not exactly damning evidence, given that we already know of their possession of the weapons,” noted Brailey.
“True,” smiled Cracken, pulling up a series of holos of multiples, “but these two were there, wanted for a GLF bombing in the Corellia system. And these two were there, suspected assassins on Giese IV. And these three are now deceased in a suicide bombing deep in the Core. They were all stationed there as guards.”
Brailey quietly swore, “In other words, it was a terrorist supply cache. The man ordered weapons for a legitimate reason and supplied them to terrorists and criminals.”
The oldest man nodded, “Not necessarily Orling mind you, but from what my slicers have been able to gather, he's at least visited the facility. So he would know a bit about the personnel stationed here. Or at least the person in charge of the facility. Probably appointed the man, at least, given the personal touch he's known for putting on his operations. But now you can see my hesitation in letting a suspected terrorist know too much about our plans. But I'm more worried now that if Contruum Six does join the Confederation, that he'll have access to your weapons and technology too.”
“He's not a proven guilty man,” reminded Aspholme, “or maybe he's even changed his mind, and gave up the terrorist thing to become a more mainstream freedom fighter...”
Brailey frowned, “We can't trust him. I'm going to get CSIS to start an investigation, if General Cracken, you will provide them with everything, maybe we can remove this terrorist problem and liberate your homeworld at the same time.”
“A tall order,” quipped Derell.
“But one we have to do,” said Cracken solemnly.
Jan 26 2014 6:17pm
Revanche-class Star Defender Swiftsure, somewhere in the Truum Sector
Costigan lounged his command chair, flicking through various holo-screens displaying the arrayed Confederate fleet. Aside from the core of his federal fleet, territorial military forces from nearly every world within the Confederation were present. Some of the them appeared to be blatant, showy political symbols sent by their councilors to join his fleet: star destroyers from the shipyard worlds of Abhean and Thomork, thousands of battle droids from the factory worlds of Metalorn and Ter Abbes. To Costigan's eyes, they overshadowed some of the more significant contributions by the smaller worlds. Dalos IV's irregulars were a key example of this. The special boat group already was prying around the inner Contruum system, clandestinely setting up various sensor buoys and performing quiet reconnaissance insertions that would be key for the initial stages of the coming assault. He heard the snap click of several Audacian shock troopers clicking their heels together at the entrance of the bridge. He swiveled around to face the newcomer.
The man from Genarius half-forced a placid face as the newly appointed Councilor Orling walked onto his bridge, accompanied by a pair of Contruum Six's “Free Rocketeers”. Wearing graylite armor augmented by jetpacks, and wielding heavy blaster pistols as well as Trident Missile launchers, the soldiers were Contruum Six's keynote contribution to the invasion force. Why Councilor Orling retained several for his personal guard seemed fitting for political reasons, though entirely impractical for VIP protection reasons onboard a battleship like the Swiftsure. Costigan rose from his chair to greet the man.
“Welcome aboard, Councilor,” said Brailey, extending his right hand towards the bigger man.
Shea grasped the hand and warmly smiled, “This is quite the pleasure, Admiral. To finally see a great commander at work.”
“Well, I wouldn't call myself great, Councilor, but we'll get the job done. Why don't I show you around the bridge...”
The four men strode around the bridge, with Costigan explaining the various features of the bridge, along with introducing some of his more diplomatic bridge crew to the councilor. While Brailey did his best to seem at ease, his eyes kept wandering back to peer into the councilor's eyes. He half expected the big man to show some sort of unusual interest in some system or person; something that could potentially give the man's alleged hidden loyalty to the GLF away. But nothing of the sort happened. The only remotely unusual remark from the Councilor hinted at one of his guards having the guts to ask one of his sensor operators out on a date. That elicited several genuine smiles and a few light laughs, even from the woman herself. Yet Brailey found himself forcing a smile across his own face at the joke. Sheamus cleared his throat.
“I hope you don't mind, but I was wondering if I could stay here on the bridge during the battle itself and perhaps watch our forces in action. I promise to stay out of your and your crew's way. You won't even know that I'm here.”
Brailey paused for a second. Well I can't exactly say no to an reasonable request like that to a Councilor, I still don't like this one bit. Not with a man who has a bunch of explosives on bridge and is linked to bombings...but at least he's here too, and I don't think he would want the Reavers to win either...the only thing he has to gain in an understanding of how we work...which may or may not be legitimate. I guess I'll have to take his request at face value...even if he is probably a terrorist. Orling frowned.
“Is something wrong Admiral? I hope I've not put you in an uncomfortable position.”
“Oh, no, of course not,” shot back Brailey with a quick fading grin, “I'm just thinking of a good place to put you on the bridge. That's all.”
“I suppose it would be harder with three men,” agreed the politician, “Jennings, Bryance, thank you for your time with me. You can go back and report to your sergeant, I'll not be needing your presence here any more...”
I'm not sure if that made me feel any more uncomfortable...
Costigan nodded, “There is a spare seat near Angie, the sensors operator. You seemed to get along with her fairly well, if you'd like.”
“That would be fine, thank you.”
The former corporate executive strode up to the sensors operator he had joked with minutes before, and took a seat next to her. Costigan retired to his command chair and exhaled. What have we got ourselves into? He rapidly flipped through a series of screens before settling on one of the sub-screens of one of his flight controllers monitoring flights within the Contruum system itself. A quartet of dots appeared in the system, designed as Erinyes Third Flight. Brailey cleared his throat. And so it's about to begin...
Jan 27 2014 2:42am
A3 Nemesis-class Bomber Erinyes Eight, Contruum System
Kirst's stealth bomber jetted into the edges of Contruum's planetary system, his flight group swinging about in the gravity of one of the world's barren moons. They slingshotted out of orbit towards the planet itself. Finally, the last one to this cursed world...His eyes immediately flitted about the canopy to the objects which orbited around the world. He ignored the rectangular shipyards, the wedges of corrupted star destroyers, and the almost countless smaller skeletal and decrepit starships which buzzed around them, entirely oblivious to their presence. Instead, the man focused his eyes on even smaller objects, the orbiting satellites of the world. On his passive scanners, there were hundreds of blips which the sensors' computer analysis identified as satellites. Some would likely turn out to be space junk and nearly the rest of them would turn out to be innocuous satellites which he would have little interest in. His comlink buzzed and one of the blips turned from yellow to red.
“I see the first one,” reported Horgs, “looks like everyone else is away...”
“I see it. Once we're in range, you're clear to fire.”
Kirst lightly tugged the yoke of his craft to the left, sending his nearly black craft to edges of Contruum's atmosphere. And this is where we're the most vulnerable...we might have them onto us a little sooner than I'd like...While the A3 was difficult to detect with electronic sensors, the starship's blackish hull would easily stand out against the backdrop of Contruum to a close observer. He quickly double-checked his scan of the area, just to make sure there were aren't any observers too close to likely see them. There weren't. He pushed his craft further into orbit. Staring forward, the man soon saw one of the tiny objects become encased in a block of red, that turned to yellow, that turned to green. Nearly a second passed after that transition before Horgs launched an orange-sheathed concussion missile. The warhead surged forward to smash into the HoloNet Relay, destroying it in a brief conflagration which reigned minute particles of debris into the atmosphere itself. His helmet comlink crackled.
“Think they noticed that?”
Kirst snorted, “I'm not sure what the right answer to that is. I hope it hurt them, I just hope it didn't draw too much attention to us...”
“A little late for that, it appears someone noticed our missile launch...but it looks like they're heading other places as well.”
“Well, hopefully this little bit of vandalism will give us a bit of an edge...”
Jan 27 2014 11:30pm
Protector-class Flak Tower A62, somewhere in the Truum Sector
“This is ridiculous. This was Admiral Lucerne's great idea?”
Several of the soldiers of the Flak tower let out a brief bouts of laughter at Captain Aspholme's outburst. Aspholme had found himself temporary removed from command of the Foudroyant, instead being tasked out to lead one of the “Star Redoubt” sections that were quietly being mentioned within the planning. He had thought the redoubts would have been purpose designed battle stations. Instead, he found that the redoubts were actually asteroids outfitted with hyperdrives and a nav computer, along with one or two Protector-class Flak Towers built into them. This is a job for a planetary defense or army commander, not a man of the fleet....or is it? He felt a firm hand on his shoulder. Jim turned his head to the right to look the sole man not wearing a Confederate uniform in the tower's command center: General Cracken.
“It could be worse...”
“I don't want to hear it, sir,” replied Captain Aspholme, “and I mean no disrespect to you sir. This isn't a ship, though I'll admit the guns are looking pretty nice right now. I'm not liking the lack of sublight drives though...”
“Well, you better get use to it Captain,” said the general, glancing at his chrono, “because we have less than ten minutes before the jump.”
“I just don't get it. You're here, why do they need me?”
Cracken ruefully shook his head, “Would you just give a foreign leader direct command of all of this hardware and all of the lives of your men here?”
“I suppose not.”
“Consider it an attache or supervisor role,” said Airen, “you're my boss, in a sense, here to make sure I don't screw up these budget orbital fortresses your Admiral came up with.”
The two quickly went over the battle plans for their part of the assault, eying the updates from the series of lightning raids the Confederate Starfighter Corps was executing in the system right now. Admiral Lucerne believed that by destroying the Reaver's communication links across the hordes far-stretched colonies, the Reavers would not be able to respond as quickly to either reinforce their worlds or get the idea to signal to start more attacks to spread their virus. Yet the concept was unproven. Aspholme half expected the Reavers to already have developed some sort of BDE-based swarm communication technology of some sort. But he had to admit, the Reavers were probably getting used to the Confederation's surgical raids on Contruum that the initial starfighter attack might not attract too much attention from the outlying Reaver worlds. Minutes quickly passed as Cracken outlined various fire vectors and local orbital landmarks one last time before a red timer on one of their computer console displays clicked down to zero.
He mentally felt as if he were moving quickly, even if he couldn't see or really feel it with his body. Yet the idea of hurtling through hyperspace on a little more than a hyperdrive equipped and relativistically shielded asteroid unnerved him, even if the journey did not feel any more unusual in its substance to the man than the many ones he had experienced on other vessels. Minutes passed before the collection of orbital fortresses emerged onto the outskirts of Contruum's planetary system. Almost immediately, Cracken was issuing orders to the artificially induced asteroid belt that loosely surrounded the world. Aspholme flipped several channels on the holo-projector, finally displaying the feed of one of his tower's EPRs. One of the decrepit Reaver Star Destroyers orbiting the world was torn apart by the long-distance railgun batteries; slugs streamed out of the asteroids, smashing into and through the hull plating. Careful bursts of green-glowing slugs from another flak tower on his asteroids smashed into the invested ship, blanketing the warship in radiation even lethal to the Reavers. Clouds of bright flashes erupted around the warship as the distant Confederate fleet launched volleys of Starflares at their targets; the hyperspace capable missiles surged forward into their targets, adding to the carnage inflicted on the already damaged ships; more explosions and blue lightning flared across the star destroyer's hull. Aspholme winced as the Cracken precisely directed a barrage of flak tower fire that sliced off the prow of the destroyer, exposing more of the unarmored internals of the ship to another flak tower, which neatly raked the inside of the vessel with meson filled shells. Aspholme spared a glance at his chrono. A neat trick, but the fleet better here soon before the Reavers adapt to this little strategy by outmaneuvering our sitting rocks...
Jan 28 2014 11:39pm
Revanche-class Star Defender Swiftsure, Contruum System
The mammalian-shaped hull of the massive warship entered realspace among the edges of the perimeter of asteroid based forts. Almost immediately, dozens of its autocannon blisters opened fire, wasting the several of the more obstinate Reaver vessels charging the forts covering the northern pole of the world. Another squadron of Confederate vessels, lead by the Foudroyant, swung around one of the world's smaller moons to slingshot to the defense of the southern forts. The star destroyers grabbed a hold of the opposing craft with their tractor beams and melted them in cleansing plasma fire. Across the system, the Confederate and Contruum resistance starships moved to support asteroid forts as they tore up the opposing Reaver starships from a distance. Two of the Confederation's rare Interdictor Mk II cruisers hung behind the fleet, ensuring that no Reaver jumped into hyperspace if they managed to leave Contruum's gravity well. Costigan heard the slow inevitable sound of feet walking towards him; the man swiveled on his chair to face Councilor Sheamus. The politician smiled.
“I'm sorry, I know I said I would stay out of the way, but you see, this seems to be going so well, that I can't help but wonder if we are doing something wrong.”
Costigan, “Councilor, I almost agree with you, but looking at the holo-screens, I don't see any unusual threats. Their larger and slower craft can't stand up to the firepower of our asteroid bases. And the ships that do get past the fire run into range of our fleet, where we've wiped them out. We did hit them pretty hard before we even jumped in...”
“I don't like it one bit. If it's too easy, something is wrong. You said it yourself...”
“I don't know what to tell you. Maybe because we kept hitting them before all of this, we wore them down, or they knew we were coming eventually, so they left. The only thing I know is that right, we seem to be winning. Not that I don't feel some unease about it. This is real, and the hardest part is yet to come.”
Sheamus frowned, “What part is that?”
“Taking Contruum itself,” replied the man from Genarius, “there's a lot of massive buildings there that people could have survived in. Those are also buildings we'll have to systematically clear out. We will hit the world with every piece of magpulse weaponry we ever have, and will have, and there remains the possibility that there will parts of the Reaver virus still laying latent there for years to come before it is discovered. The only solace I take in that, is that there are probably still ordinary survivors left on Contruum; people that we will have the opportunity to rescue from such a damning existence. Councilor, if you can see any threat or danger that I, or any of our people might have missed, I will forever be in your debt. But until you do, I must ask you to leave for now, that I may continue to run the fleet in the largest engagement I have yet to experience in my career.”
With a nod of his head, Councilor Sheamus retreated back to the empty chair at the sensor's station. Costigan returned his attention to directing the various elements of the Confederate forces to fuse into a unified, synchronized force. Reserve forces deftly moved back and forth between the various asteroid-based batteries, shoring up their defenses and firepower as needed. Long-ranged attacks from Suffren-class Cruisers and several Korleon-class Long Rangers quickly struck down the several larger Reaver vessels that had managed to evade an unforeseen gap in the asteroid forts' fields of fires. Costigan added several last minute tactical directions into the computer before switching over his main holo-projector to display a real time holo of the world itself, complete with the various facilities and starships orbiting the world itself. He rose up to walk around and closely inspect the model. His lip twitched. It seems so simple, yet things rarely are...Brailey mentally began to note where the largest concentrations of Reaver small craft remained, now that the last of the larger ships had been destroyed by the batteries of the asteroid forts. We have only to destroy them and ensure no more of that Reaver dust is present. His earthy eyes settled on an angular structure floating half-way between the net of asteroid forts and Contruum itself. It'll have to be a priority first. The maker knows how many things the Reavers are hiding there...He plopped back into his chair and slid on his headset and began to search the various subspace communication's channels. He tapped a button on his console, bringing up a holo of a brunette woman sitting in a command chair, with a fellow Kon'me officer cloaked in gray standing right behind her. The woman crisply nodded at the man.
He pulled a name to the face, “Commander Lira Usaiga, so you're the one Captain Aspholme put in charge. Very good. I want you to lead the Foudroyant group to secure the shipyards. Don't take any chances with it, beat the crap out of it with whatever EMP munitions you've got...the last thing we need to happen is have the Reavers take over another one of our ships...”
Another light began to flash on one of his communication program tabs. Costigan exchanged a few quick words with the woman and then cut his connection to the Foudroyant. He turned his attention to the information about the sender. Once he saw it, he spared a quick glance at Councilor Sheamus's direction, but the suspected terrorist appeared to be busy observing another real time holo of the battle around Contruum itself. Brailey took the call.
Jan 29 2014 12:31am
Protector-class Flak Tower A62, in high orbit via Contruum
“I see the Foudroyant has received orders to take the shipyards,” noted Cracken dryly, looking up from his personal datapad.
The holo of Rear-Admiral Costigan briefly shimmered as the man from Genarius tilted his head to the side, gazing thoughtfully at the man. Aspholme glanced between the two commanders. Well this just looks great...Costigan ruefully shook his head.
“The yards need to be secured to ensure that the space around the world is entirely secure before we move the fleet into orbit...”
“I understand Admiral, believe me, but once we know there aren't any massive Reaver threats inside it, I'd really appreciate it the rest of your ships would help start clearing a corridor for the landings. Admiral, my people are still dying. We may have set the Reavers back with all our raids, but the Reavers on the ground, they're still there fighting, and winning, in a sense. We may have stopped most of them, but they're still finding and kill those who managed to stay safe and isolated. Who knows how many hundreds are dying this very minute, because we were obsessed with ensuring that there was nothing on the shipyard...”
Brailey's eyes flared, “This isn't your fleet, General, nor are they your people. I understand the need to get to your world as soon as possible. Shortly, I will order the beginning of electromagnetic bombardments of the space in the area, but I cannot risk billions of credits and thousands of lives as easily as it would appear you would like me too. But you have promise, I will ditter dally around the place needlessly while your people are slaughtered or converted. You have my word.”
“Thank you sir.”
“And thank you sir,” replied the Admiral, cutting the channel.
Aspholme winced, “That didn't too pretty.”
The old man let a grin grow across his face, “No, but I just wanted to give your Admiral a little reminding about why we're really here. I've seen too many officers get to that level, get wrapped up in the details, or even become lost in thinking of strategy, that they forget the real reason why most of us took up arms, or so I like to think: to protect those we love. And if he doesn't understand that, the Maker have mercy on his soul.”
Aspholme glanced at the world below, watching the steady streams of meson slug fire scythe across the world; the flood of ephemeral radiation each slug brought hopefully irradiated much, if any, of the fine nanite dust that typically seemed to have engulfed the space around worlds occupied by the Reavers. Contruum was somewhat different from the other worlds in that the Confederation had long ago struck at the Reaver dust with long-range electromagnetic weapons and droid-piloted ships packed with electromagnetic demolitions to lessen the spread of the nanite infestation, but until the asteroid forts' bombardment, pockets of the dust had remained, seeking to expand into that devouring field that had blanketed the other worlds. Minutes later, bright flashes of light closer to the low orbit of the world announced that the Admiral had kept his world; more electromagnetic pulse devices entered orbit around the world before exploding. Tachyon cannons from the Confederation's artillery cruisers began to scour the orbit, incinerating any remaining dust in their bright destructive beams. The massive magpulse cannons mounted in the Swiftsure's hangars began to open fire, pounding the world in hundreds of gigatons of electromagnetic force, ionizing the atmosphere to destroy more dust and strike the ground like thunder, clearing out whole open areas of the Reaver's, or any electronic, presence. Magnetic pulse pods began to jet out from the warships surrounding the world to plummet into the atmosphere before exploding in vibrant hues of blue and purple, further adding to the electromagnetic havoc wrecked on the Reavers ground side. Cracken slapped Aspholme on the back.
“You Confederates aren't half bad,” observed the man, “if a little easier influenced than you would leave us to believe.”
“What do you mean?”
“After our little talk, Costigan only had your Foudroyant and one other ship secure the shipyards. He immediately set the rest to free our world.”
“So now what?”
Cracken narrowed his eyes, “Now someone is about to die.”
Jan 29 2014 1:22am
CG-10 Centaur Wasp 22, Contruum
“So this is it?”
The chilling wind whirled about them, buffeting the rocketeers as they clung to their safety lines in the cabin of the transport. The ramp continued to lower, showing little more than the passing blurs of gray and white clouds. Corporal Bryance of Contruum Six's “Free Rocketeers” pulled the straps of his flight helmet tighter and switched on the breathing apparatus. He stared up at a red light positioned just over the beam overhead of the ramp. Suddenly, it turned green. Slinging his Trident missile launcher over his shoulder, the man ran out of the cabin and off the ramp to plummet through the air in a free fall. The wind tugged at edges his jumpsuit not covered by his armor. He glanced up to see two more humanoid objects falling towards him. While he was laying relatively horizontal to the grounds, the two rocketeer C1s dove towards him head first. He grinned. Crazy droids. As they neared him, the man followed suited. The three began to plummet towards the top of one of the many skyscrapers on Contruum. As they neared its surface, he stood back up and fired his rocket pack in a breaking action; his two escorting C1s followed suit. All three landed on the rooftop of the building. As their feet touched the ground, a rooftop door flung open towards them and the tips of several blaster rifles poked out towards them. His eyes widened. Blaster fire began to stream out at the three Confederate infantry. The droids immediately returned fire with their odd assortment of weapons as the Bryance dropped to the ground in a good prone position. He quickly slung his Trident launcher and pointed it at the entrance and tapped the trigger. The rocket jetted forward and detonated, completely wiping out the small sub-building that housed the stairs downwards into the rest of the skyscraper. The droids, relatively untouched, except for some new carbon scorches on their armor, awkward ran forward with their weapons leveled. Bryance rose, slinging his rocket launcher across his pack and drew his blaster. He walked behind the droids, trying to use their bodies as extra protection against any Reavers that might pop up from the smoldering ruins, but none did.
The group neared the edge of the destruction that the Contruum Six had wrought on the building, revealing flights of stairs which seemed to go to the ground level. Shrugging, the man pulled out a satchel of ion detonators, armed the fusing the device and dropped it down the shaft. The man walked away from the entrance, followed by his battle droid escorts. Almost a minute later, the charges detonated, flooding the entire building with electromagnetic radiation. He eyed the two Confederate droids closely. One remained a little too close to the opening of the shaft; unprotected by the thick duracrete roof, the battle droid stumbled around as its systems fought against the power overflow. It's blue photoreceptor briefly blinked and then faded; the droid collapsed onto the duracrete roof. Bryance sighed and turned to the other droid.
“See if you can patch him up. I'm going to take a quick look in the building itself.”
The man jumped into the shaft and trigger his rocket pack several times, slowing his descent into the dark building. He reached the ground floor and glanced at the expended satchel of ion detonators laying on the floor. I 'm not sure if you worked well, or a little too well back there. He glanced up at the door in front of him, noticing a stream of light pouring out one of the interior doors. Bryance narrowed his eyes. Did we miss one? No, it'd come charging at me, wouldn't it? Survivors maybe? Just turned it on the lights after hearing the blast, hoping to be found, but not by them? Drawing his blaster from his holster, the man quietly opened the door and slipped through into the hallway, noting the newly blown out windows. His eyes continually scanned the environment as he approached the door, but he saw nothing. Slowly, the man rounded the doorway into what appeared to be a hotel conference room, noting a bright glowrod laying on the table. But he saw no-one. He licked his lips.
“This is just creepy...”
Suddenly he felt a force shove forward into the table. Before he realized it, someone had grabbed a hold of his blaster hand, and smashed it hard into the pourstone table. He dropped it out of pain and surprise. The being rapidly lifted him up and threw him onto the floor. The Confederate landed on his belly, only to receive a several kicks to the stomach and one to his face. His assailant continued to reign down blows on the man until the man stopped moving. He felt a hand roll him over onto his back. So this is how I die, never thought it'd be by one of them. A humanoid straddled him forcefully. Bryance's eyes widened as the beat up man realized it was not a Reaver.
“Tell me all that you know about Orling Sheamus, Corporal Bryance. Or should I say Jens Mottinger.”
His assailant appeared to be dressed in light gray fatigues not too unlike those he seen worn by the federal Confederation forces. Yet there were no devices on the mostly human looking creature. But even in the dim light, he could make the characteristic bulbous nose of an Anzati. Beff Pike? The alien smiled at him.
“Don't make this any harder than it is for you. You're wanted on two worlds for assassinating political figures, and on another for being a rebel.”
Mottinger let out a weary smile, “I always thought one of the bounty hunters the Empire would send after me would get me. Looks like I'm right after all...”
The alien drew a syringe from the folds of his clothing and slammed into the man's carotid artery. Mottinger felt a numbness pervade his body as he struggled to fight the drug's effects. His mind felt constrained. The alien smiled.
“It's my own special blend. A mixture of a couple of my favorite paralyzing agents, and Bavo Six. You're going to tell me what you know about the man. I know you were one of his right hand men at a certain storage facility on Contruum Six. Have fun with the explosives too? Or just sending out more terrorists to kill innocent people?”
The anzati nodded, “Good. Is Sheamus a member of your terrorist ring?”
“I don't know.”
“You don't? Who was your boss? Who gave you the orders?”
“A Nikto. We called him Claws, because his right hand had been replaced a set of prosthetic claws...”
The Anzat frowned, “Well, that's not very useful...time for you to die, Mr. Mottinger...”
“Wait...There was also another higher up man who visited. His name...he went by the name of Bruno Hulick. But he wasn't there all the time...”
The Anzat looked at his wrist chrono, “Unfortunately, I don't have the time to do the rest of this, not with more Confederate troops coming down here, but you've done well. Consider your loyalty to the Confederation redeemed.”
The anzat drew his own blaster and fired a single red beam straight into the man's face.