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  1. 3 points
    Moments before... Steve and I trudged down the Takashima's hull, following the track of the radio direction finder. The sunlight blasted down on us, casting blinding glints of sunlight off the wreckage that made it difficult to see. The temperature was sweltering, and neither of us was wearing a cooling suit. We were sweating profusely - Steve in particular, who also looked like he hadn't slept in days. I knew that if we didn't get inside soon, we'd be at risk of injury from exposure, or even worse. "How did you get here, anyway? Weren't you up on the Republic?" I asked, trying to make small talk to pass the time and distract myself from the discomfort of the elements. Steve grinned maniacally at me. "Master Honda slapped me out of my medication to help you!" Steve exclaimed gleefully. "Uh, your medication? I...don't understand. You were in the CIC messing around with your computer that was on fire, or something." I said, looking over at Steve with a mixture of worry and confusion. "The ship started taking off while you were there. You were screaming." Steve nodded enthusiastically. "And then I blacked out! I don't remember anything after that until I was in my zen, and then I saw Sensei Ronald, and then there was a pair of barbells, and..." The radio direction finder started emitting a solid tone. I stopped Steve, mid-sentence. "This is supposed to be it." I said. I looked around. "I don't see anything...unless it's...underneath us." I added, looking down, kicking a pile of sand out of the way. Below, a large, circular door valve control appeared. "OH MY GOD!" Steve screamed. "Oh my god indeed." I agreed. I kneeled down and swept more sand away, revealing a big, square door. "I think this is the X that marks the spot. Come on, let's see if we can get this open." Steve wandered over and looked at the wheel as I tugged forcefully on it. It wouldn't turn. "Come on, Steve, I need your help!" I yelled. "I AM HELPING!!!" Steve screamed. "I'm trying to use my mind powers but it's not working! WHY DOESN'T ANYTHING WORK RIGHT EVER?" "Um, thanks, I, uh, don't think we probably don't need superpowers for this one. Can you just use your hands?" I asked, pushing sweat off my brow. "Oh, sure." Steve said, walking over. Bending down, he grabbed hold of the wheel, letting out a guttural yell as he strained with all of his might as I also fought to turn the wheel. "Come on, Steve, it's starting to move!" "AAAAAAAAAAAAGGHHH! I AM!" A giant vein bulged out of Steve's forehead, and his face turned beet red. "I MUST SUMMON MY ANCIENT - " Before I could hear whatever it was that Steve was going to summon, the hatch, without warning, gave way...with me on top of it. The next thing I knew, I was tumbling through the darkness, landing with a colossal crash on top of the now-destroyed hatch door. As I lay there, dazed, I looked up and saw the outline of Steve's figure staring down at me. "Nate, are you okay?" Steve asked. "I..." A thunderous pounding noise broke my focus. It sounded like there was a huge machine running toward me at an impossible speed. I dragged myself to my feet in time to see a nightmarish sight - a blurry, faintly-glowing outline, distorting the air around it as it moved toward me with extreme speed, while a line of men, all training their flashlights on me, stood off on the distance. Thinking fast, I whipped out the low-powered laser pistol that Major Hayes had entrusted to me. Setting it on the maximum output it could achieve, I fired randomly at the distortion, hoping I would hit something important. Two of the shots seemed to hit, sending ripples of red out from their impact sites, but it didn't stop the thing's approach. Then, I heard a blood-curdling howl, and the distortion came down at me, grabbing me by the vest and hoisting me up in the air, shaking me like a rag doll, so hard that I lost my grip on the laser pistol as I tottered on the edge of unconsciousness. The shaking stopped, and I was thrust forward again, face to face with a sight I couldn't believe I was seeing...the head of a wolf, eyes aglow. Instinctively, I let out a yell of terror, pushing back against the monster, as it drew its claw back to strike, when all of a sudden.... "STOP!" The monster froze, as the sound of a crisp, Canadian-accented voice with a military bearing echoed through the chamber, a deafening silence following in its wake. I turned my head to see a man in a full MechWarrior combat suit, with a large assault rifle, descending into the server room.
  2. 3 points
    Black Eclipse Discovery Site Great Banded Desert, Nirasaki February 7, 3029 ___________________________ In a millisecond machine and human mind reacted without thought or hesitation. A massive injection of combat stimulates smashed into Bishop’s bloodstream giving his already highly trained body an incredible boost of speed and strength, pushing it beyond all natural limits. The suit’s combat computer and already calculated his trajectory and speed before he had jumped. While in flight Bishop had already knew where and with how much force he would land with. All his primitive mind cared about was the kill and the rending of flesh. The nearly thousand pounds of man and machine landed on the server rack with the agility and softness of a bird. As the monster landed, the suit responded immediately by activating the Active Camouflage cause him to appear as a distortion in the dark air. The HUD sent tactical information scrolling past Bishop’s predatory silver eyes. Size, weight, vital signs, weapon’s and equipment. The Skinwalker’s mouth watered....easy kill a machine like voice whispered in the darkness of his mind....protect the pack came another whisper. Within seconds the Skinwalker had ran with acrobatic precision down the server rack towards his new prey. Through thermal imaging the large predator vector in on the prey standing in the room. In a surprising turn, something in the prey, training, experience maybe a sixth sense warned the prey of its impending doom...it reacted to the looming monsters approach. Now, just mere yards away from the beast, with a swift and well rehearsed reaction the prey unholstered a laser pistol and began firing in the direction of Skinwalker. Most of the shots went wide, two hit the Bishop in the chest by chance. The machines armor protected it’s wearer by absorbing the hits and dissipating the energy. With a blood freezing howl, the Skinwalker jumped again, this time like a massive gorilla , it grabbed the onto the server rack with one clawed hand and swung down on top of it prey. With it free clawed hand it snatched the prey up the by it tactical vest and shook it violently in mid air causing it to drop the pistol. The beast then brought it up to the it’s wolf like head that was now showing with his active camouflage disabled. He wanted to see the terror in the man’s eyes before he butchered him. “Stop!!!” Yelled a commanding voice. On pure instinct the Skinwalkers froze, hold it’s struggling, and terrified kill in mid air. In the deep recesses of Bishop’s mind he recognized the sound of the pack leader.... Captain Maxwell.
  3. 3 points
    A line of Kuritan characters appeared on the screen, then quickly disappeared and were replaced with a line in English. Additional lines followed, with long pauses in between. Generating tactical report with strategic recommendations for default goal of 'survival'. Please wait. Determining current position... Identifying locations of allies... Detecting nearby threats... Downloading cartographic and meteorological data... Evaluating availible equipment and resources... /* 27 actions identified as worthy of consideration /* Running comparative strategic analysis. This process may require several minutes to complete. Please wait. For five minutes the noteputer's display remained the same, with only a pulsating ellipsis to indicate that the program had not frozen. Then, a final prompt appeared on the screen: L E A V E The Republic's engines roared to life, vibrating her frame. The majority of the screens in the Combat Information Center and throughout the ship turned deep red and displayed dizzying undulating geometric shapes. The OPCOMM channel crackled with multiple voices hurriedly speaking over each other.
  4. 2 points
    Meanwhile... D.C.S. Takashima Black Eclipse discovery site Great Banded Desert, Nirasaki February 7, 3029 ___________________________ "I get the sense you and this guy know each other." said Maxwell as I regained my balance and pulled at the various parts of my jump suit to get them back into position following the impromptu makeover inflicted by Bishop. "You could say that." I answered. "We were both...on the Half Moon together." "Ah ha, Bishop did mention that." Maxwell commented. "He had quite a time keeping William and crew out of harm's way after your...creative exit, from what I hear." "I can only imagine that he did." I responded quietly. "Well, if you two are done getting reacquainted, we have a mission to complete. One that I guess by your presence has just taken an interesting turn." "Yes, sir." I answered. Then, I laid out everything that had transpired from the moment Major Hayes recruited me to break the encryption on the drive to the moment that I deployed back to the planet to stop the signal. Captain Maxwell took it all in. "And so you think that the source of that signal is in this room?" Captain Maxwell asked. "Yes sir, I do. But the radio direction finder doesn't get any more accurate than this room. So we need to figure out a more finite way to find the source. Do you have any ideas?" Maxwell considered the question carefully, while I eyed Bishop with caution...
  5. 2 points
    It had took place in an instant. First I was up on the roof with Nate, and him and me were trying to crack open the locked door on the TAKASHIMA, and the next thing I knew, Nate had went screaming down into the dark cold ship and almost got killed. I felt so much Dishonor, as his lawyer it was my Pact to keep him safe and I had failed. No Book, no Nate, everything was such a failure. But then I saw Nate was trying to get up, which Held off my feeling of sickness from the dishonor. I really fast yelled to Nate. "NATE! ARE YOU OK?" "YES I'M FINE STEVE, I, AAAAAAAAAAGGGHH!" Nate screamed as a huge monster carried him off. "OH NO" I screamed and got out my shruikens. I never carried guns, but I always had a martial art tool on me. I threw the ninja stars at the monster. No effect. I threw my nunchucks at the monster. Still no effect. Then the monster went all blurry and acted like it wAs going maim Nate! 'NOOOOOOOOIIIIIII"I Screamed, at the same time I heard somebody say "STOP!" I looked around, and there was Captain Maxwell. To get his attention, I yelled "Hi, Captain Maxwell! Everyone looks like ants from up here!"
  6. 2 points
    "STOP!" I cried out, taking hold of the edge of one of the computer racks within reach and using it to perform a controlled fall into the closest row of server cabinets. Training my MP-20s flashlight on the figure that Bishop held aloft, I advanced forward, recognizing the general facial characteristics and physical appearance of his captive from a briefing photo I'd seen during our initial mission debrief several days ago. It was Nathan Schmidt. As I drew nearer to Bishop, I could hear the Lieutenant's heavy, enraged breathing hissing from within the wolf helmet, his shoulders rising and falling as he stared, frozen, at Schmidt, an occasional snarl escaping his lips. The tension radiating from the armored man was palpable. It was as though an avalanche was being held back by a single stone, behind which was an orgy of violence and carnage waiting to be unleashed at the slightest provocation. There was something deeply unsettled about the condition in which Bishop Weyland had been returned to us. What happened to you? I wondered to myself as I, cautiously, drew alongside the Lieutenant. "Thank you, Bishop. You can set him down. That's Nathan Schmidt. As I understand it, you two have some...passing familiarity...with one another. He's here to help us, or so I'm told." Bishop looked toward me, the wolf's eyes alight with an infrared glow. Then, he turned back toward Nathan, who hung helplessly in the air. As I waited pensively to see if my words would break through the Lieutenant's primal fury, I heard a distant voice wafting from far above. "Hi, Captain Maxwell! Everyone looks like ants from up here!" It was Steve Jenkins, apparently unharmed. "That's...very good, Steve."
  7. 2 points
    D.C.S. Takashima Black Eclipse discovery site Great Banded Desert, Nirasaki February 7, 3029 ___________________________ "...Rebus to Sabre team - request permission to link up with you. I'm here to help." I glanced quizzically at Sergeant Miles. "Who?" I asked. Miles shook his head. "Rebus, your ident is not recognized. Please ad - " "It's Nathan Schmidt, Captain Maxwell," Marcus Donovan's voice interjected in my headset. "I don't know why he's down there with you, but I can confirm that the Mendacius did observe his disembarkation from the Republic with an asset locating beacon on his person. We have not been able to raise the Republic to obtain the particulars, but what I can tell you is that only the command crew of that ship could have tagged him and outfit him with the equipment he used to get to the planet." "Look, I know it appears suspect," Nathan's voice replied, "but I'm actually here to resolve the issue with the communications blackout. Major Hayes sent me. The signal is coming from the wreck on a carrier that can't be broken from the Republic. And I'm pretty sure I can locate it. I volunteered to do this, sirs. If this were an attempt at subterfuge, I wouldn't be calling you now. Private Jenkins is also here with me." I raised an eyebrow. "Jenkins? What's he got to do with any of this? You know what - never mind. Where is 'here?'" "Well, I"m not exactly sure," Schmidt answered. "I'm outside the hull - somewhere. The radio direction finder is pointing me to a spot 243 meters dead ahead from my current location, so I'm going to go in that direction. I'll read off the coordinates when I get there." "Alright, we're going to continue on our our current trajectory - to the secondary computer core. I presume you know why we're here. Once we've retrieved the asset, we'll figure out how to rendezvous with you to look into the matter of this signal. And - Nathan - don't try anything cheeky," I acknowledged. "Steve, if you can hear me, keep an eye on him." "Aye aye, Cap'n Crunch!" Steve responded, gleefully. I shook my head. Looking toward our prisoner, I tossed a pair of restraint cuffs to Corporal Clemmons. "Here, put these on him." Sergeant Miles narrowed his eyes at the salvager. "Hey partner, if you wanna run, he enjoys fast food," he growled, pointing at Bishop. "Alright," I chuckled, "let's move out." ### As luck would have it, the intel about the location of the navigation computer had been dead on. Whoever the mysterious benefactor of the encrypted maps had been, they clearly wanted us to find it. Just off the corridor from the site where we'd exited the elevator stood another set of clamshell doors, partially ajar, allowing visibility down into the room beyond. And what a place it was - brimming from wall to wall with banks and banks of computer equipment, bisected by two long rows of server racks. It was obviously intended as a nexus of processing power. "Bingo, gentlemen. I believe this is what we were looking for," I observed. "Now, the question is, just how full of traps and ambushes is this place gonna be?" Suddenly, I felt a large form brush past me. It was Bishop's Nighthawk power armor, in which the Lieutenant headed straight to the clamshell doors, grabbing them between two powerful fists, and forcing them apart. "There's no prey present," Bishop deadpanned. "I guess that's one way to clear a room," I mused. "Is your friend alright?" the salvager called out from his position at the rear of the group. "It'll come back to him," Sergeant Miles quipped. "Now, to the matter of getting down there without stepping on anything that's going to break," I added, observing that chamber was now oriented downward in such a way that the far wall was the 'floor,' and the floor itself had become a wall, "I don't know exactly what it is that we're looking for, so - " I was suddenly interrupted by a deafening crash; the sound of an extremely heavy metal object descending into the chamber and crashing into a bank of computers reverberating in my ears. A tremendous amount of dust and smoke rose from the impact site; as it cleared, I saw a black-suited figure in the midst of the wreckage, attempting to stand up. The rev of actuators drew my attention away from the carnage and toward Bishop, who, in an astonishing display of physical agility that very nearly defied physics, had pushed his Nighthawk power armor into a full run, leaping from the clamshell doors and landing precariously on the millimeters-thin frame of one of the server racks that ran the length of the room. With total abandon, Bishop charged toward the intruder, a laser sight trained with deadly precision on their center of mass...
  8. 2 points
    D.C.S. Takashima Black Eclipse discovery site Great Banded Desert, Nirasaki February 7, 3029 ___________________________ I stood in awe as Tikashi - 'Kai,' he said he went by - finished recounting the tale of how he'd come to be on Nirasaki, the treasures he thought lurked deep within the depths of the Takashima, and the unfortunate twist of fate that led to his capture at virtually the same time we'd made planetfall on the world. It was truly a stunning series of events, and it had taken Kai several minutes to lay out all of the details. As he finished, I silently contemplated how to respond. "Well, I must say, that is quite a sequence of events. I'm glad that we were able to intervene when we did. We were supposed to have dusted off by now. But an unfortunate contingency led to us having to come back here to retrieve what we assumed we'd recovered the first time," I commented. "Unfortunate for you, perhaps, but certainly not for me," Kai observed. "Indeed not. Providence did seem to work in a very serendipitous way this time. But," I continued, "we're on a really tight schedule. It's only a matter of time before the Kuritans come sniffing around, trying to figure out why there's so much traffic coming in and out of the Nirasaki system. And I want to be out of the world by the time that happens." "As I mentioned, I have a lead on a cache of Nighthawk power armor somewhere here in the wreck," Kai answered. "Are you sure you can't be persuaded to join me? It would be a lot easier to haul one of those units out with an extra set of hands. If I'm right, there's enough on board to make it worth your while. I'll cut you in." Sergeant Miles raised an eyebrow. "Sir - a moment alone, please?" the Skinwalker asked. "Certainly," I acknowledged. Stepping away from the group with the Sergeant, I lowered my voice. "What's up?" "Maybe this isn't my place - but I'd be remiss to not bring it up. I'm not sure how Major Hayes or Captain Donovan would feel about some third party salvaging our wreck," Miles explained. "We had this kind of thing come up from time to time with Irian. It often went badly." I nodded, considering the advice. "True. But, we didn't come here for Nighthawks, nor did we have any intention of salvaging anything other than the A.I. and any objects of opportunity. The way I look at it, if he leads us to a bonus, we come out ahead. Good call. I'll give Donovan a shout." Keying my headset, I opened a channel to the Mendacius. "Eden to Control - I have a situation requiring your advisement." "Go ahead, Eden," Marcus Donovan's voice responded. "Were you direct on the conversation that just took place with Kai?" I asked. "Affirmative. Frankly, I don't care what Kai takes from the wreck as long as it's not the A.I. That's our primary objective, and we don't have time to haggle over contracts and finder's fees. If he can legitimately lead you to any extra salvage and it can be recovered without compromising the mission - or the mission clock, which is still running by the way - then you are authorized to attempt a recovery. If he wants to take one for himself, so be it," Donovan replied. "Just get that A.I. and get back to the Tana as fast as you can. Radio us if you end up needing a salvage rig for the suits." "Copy that, Control. Eden out." I glanced toward Miles. "We're greenlit." The Sergeant nodded silently, and we made our way back over to the group. "All right, Mister Hideo - I think we can help you out. Lieutenant Weyland, Sergeant Miles, Sergeant Ayala, Corporal Clemmons, and I will continue toward the primary objective. We'll take this guy here with us in case he's feeling generous and would like to let us know about any other contingencies we might encounter along the way," I explained, gesturing toward the captive salvager. "Captain McKenzie, please take the rest of the squad and accompany Kai to wherever it is he thinks that the Nighthawk cache might be found. If you find anything, call the Mendacius for a salvage rig immediately. Note that we have a hard extract time of two hours from now. If you haven't found anything within the next sixty minutes, I want you to start planning your exit strategy. Understood?" Dutch nodded. "You got it." "Excellent. Alright, ladies and gentlemen," I replied. "We've got our objectives. Let's get this thing done."
  9. 2 points
    Above the D.C.S. Takashima Black Eclipse discovery site Great Banded Desert, Nirasaki February 7, 3029 ___________________________ A shrill beeping in my helmet as the pod rumbled and bucked in the atmosphere alerted me to the fact that I was about to have to do a lot of manual flying. Specifically, reentry had occurred and the drop pod's parachutes were soon to deploy, which meant that, soon after, the pod itself was going to blow apart and I was going to be paragliding. I hurriedly prepared myself, getting the manual pullies in my hands in a way that I could control them once I was in freefall, and checking to make sure the packed glider was going to be able to open once I disconnected the pod's parachutes. Seemingly only moments later, a loud klaxon blared, and, with an explosive bang, the ceramic shell of the drop pod burst away in several different directions, leaving me, in my harness, exposed to the brilliant desert sky as parachutes above me rapidly unfurled, slowing my descent with a sudden jolt. Far off in the distance, I could just make out the gigantic mass that was the wreck of the Takashima, and a smaller mass some distance from it that was probably the Tana. With no one to report into, given the situation with the comms, I simply waited, watching my altimeter. If I cut myself loose too high, I wouldn't lose enough altitude on my glide to land on the wreck, and I'd overshoot it. If I waited too long, I would land too far away, and have a grueling, almost certainly lethal walk through the desert. I had to hit the mark just right. Shortly, the designated altitude came up on my wrist monitor. With a deep breath, I hit the harness release, and fell forward out of the apparatus. For several, terrifying seconds, I was in free-fall as I put a short distance between myself and the remains of the pod. I didn't want my gilder to deploy and tangle in the chute lines, so I had to do it. When I was a suitable distance away, I pulled the cord for my glider, and it burst out of my backpack, unfurling behind me, giving me a solid yank again as its lines went taught. Glancing up, I saw that it had deployed without any issues, and I smiled as I took control of its steering lines, and headed on final approach to the wreck...
  10. 2 points
    D.C.S. Takashima Black Eclipse discovery site Great Banded Desert, Nirasaki February 7, 3029 ___________________________ The salvager let out an ear-splitting scream as Bishop's claws sank into his shoulder. “He’s hungry....and likes to play with his food... you might want to remember how to disarm the bomb now... it might save your life," Sergeant Miles hissed. In response, the captive nodded his head frantically, biting his lip as he fought against the pain. Miles nodded to Bishop, who retracted the claws in a single, sudden movement that elicited another yelp from the salvager. The man sagged to his knees, grabbing at his shoulder in agony momentarily, before using his free hand to undo the buckle on a device fastened around his wrist. Without speaking, the pirate passed the unit Dutch McKenzie, who examined it with curiosity before handing it to me, pointing at a small toggle switch hidden under a cover on the unit's face. "That remote disarms or detonates the bomb," he gasped, still holding his shoulder. I examined the unit, which began beeping slowly. "It's beeping. Why is it beeping?" I asked sharply, my stress level rising as the beeping grew faster. At the same time, the collar on Tikashi Hideo's neck started to beep more frantically. The salvager didn't answer. "Show me how to keep this guy from losing his head or you're going to lose yours!" I demanded. "Okay, alright, you...uh...uh...you push the switch. Uh, left or, uh, right. One of those two directions," our captive offered. "Right. Throw the switch right." I waved Tikashi closer, motioning for him to stand beside the salvager. "You want to double-check your math before I throw the switch?" I asked as Tikashi drew to a stop inches from the man. "Left! I meant left!" the pirate shrieked. "That's what I thought," I muttered, throwing the switch to the left. The collar let out three short chirps and deactivated. "Now. Take it off," Bishop suddenly growled, grabbing the salvager and walking him toward Tikashi. Without saying a word, the man began the process of detaching the device. In short order, the collar gave a heavy clank and detached from its resting place around the prisoner's neck, quickly being confiscated by Sergeant Miles. "Thank you," Tikashi sighed, rubbing at his neck. "Don't mention it," I nodded. "Miles, make sure that thing never gets used on anyone again. "With pleasure, sir," the Sergeant answered. "Now that the unpleasant business is out of the way - I'm Charles Maxwell, commanding officer of the Aegis Division mercenary unit. Tell me, Tikashi - if you're not with this lot," I began, gesturing in the direction of our captive, "what brings you here?"
  11. 2 points
    Meanwhile... D.C.S. Takashima Great Banded Desert, Nirasaki February 7, 3029 ___________________________ The half man half machine squatted down on its hunches in the darkness. Like a stone statue stayed motionless in time. While he sat, watched and listen, the machine feed him information on the internal HUD of the helmet. Number of human, vital signs, weapon load outs, gear and equipment all scrolled across his hollow eyes. He had marked each member of his back, recorded vital signs, identifying personal markings and voice recognition. The two other members where listed as possible prey for a future hunt. One of the prey in particular had a device rapped around his neck. The battle suit identified it as threat, due to explosion, damage or death was eminent. The machine spirt urged the man to slaughter everyone and move away from the threat. It even coaxed the man by injecting a small amount of combat stimulate into his bloodstream, promising more if needed. Battling the blood thirsty rage building in him Bishop analyzed the tactical data. There... it was... the second prey had the ability to disarm the device.... he was lying about it... his vital signs told the truth about his secret. Bishops mouth begin to salivate, he could smell fresh blood and the machine wanted death. Without thought, the monstrous man stood and walked towards the injured prey and his fellow pack members. His pack alpha was questioning the prey subject about the device. As Bishop pushed passed member of his pack he reached out and placed a clawed hand on the injured prey’s shoulder. Slowly sinking the suits powered claws into the man shoulder. With is body shuttering with excitement, the creature grinned. Bishop’s human mind raged back... forcing the savage instinct at bay. It wanted him to rip out the prey’s spine. The prey screamed in pain.... Bishop had to bite his lip to force the urges that were like a wave of water running over him to stop. Bishop watched in thermal imaging as his brother Skinwalker lean in close to the man in pain.... Sergeant Miles whispered softly.... “He’s hungry....and likes to play with his food... you might want to remember how to disarm the bomb now... it might save your life”
  12. 2 points
    Approximately twenty minutes later... "Control to Rebus," I radioed to Nathan, using one of the limited, short-range, handheld VHF radios we had in our inventory for extreme contingencies such as that which we were facing. "Go ahead, Major, I read you," Nathan replied, cocooned deep within the drop pod, the cargo bay in which it sat still fully pressurized. I couldn't believe the near-lunacy of what were were about to attempt. The malware had put us on an orbit that paralleled the crash site, though at a significantly higher altitude, and had commandeered every communication system aboard the Republic to maintain a tight-beam downlink to a base station somewhere within the wreck of the Takashima. The receiver, in turn, continuously streamed data back to the malware aboard our vessel, which included, it would seem, redundant copies of the infection. In response, our plan to resolve the issue called for us to explosively decompress one of our cargo bays and jettison a space-suited IT specialist overboard in a drop pod intended for a BattleMech. Provided he didn't get incinerated by initial re-entry, and provided that he could successfully paraglide to the wreck site after breaking the sound barrier with his own body, Schmidt would then touch down and use a radio direction finder to locate the source of the signal. In other words, the plan was insane. But it was the best we had. "How are you holding up in there?" I asked, peering through the heavily-reinforced glass window that separated the cargo bay from its observation booth. "About as good as you'd imagine being sealed up in a ceramic egg while wearing an astronaut suit and a probation monitoring anklet all at the same time could make you feel. After that impressive speech I gave you, was the monitoring unit really necessary?" Nathan quipped. "It's just a precaution," I smiled, wryly. Alyssa Chase chuckled and shook her head. "Alright, let's get this show on the road," I continued. "This is not going to be a gentle departure by any measure, so I'm gonna let you count it down. We'll hit the button when you say go." "Awesome, at least that way, I'll have some idea of when I'm going to crap my pants, rather than being taken completely by surprise," the Lyran joked. "Leave the pants-shitting to Mister Jenkins," I replied. "Speaking of which, where the hell did he end up...?" "What's that, Major?" Schmidt asked. "Never mind, it's not important. We're ready on this side. Begin countdown at your discretion," I responded. There came a moment's pause, presumably while Nathan readied himself for the impending chaos. "Ready op," the Lyran's voice replied. "Begin the sequence. Ten...nine...eight...seven..." I hovered my hand over the large, red button on the console labeled 'EMERG JETTISON.' "...six...five...four..." My eyes narrowed as I mentally prepared myself to either send a young man to the planet's surface, or to an agonizing death on the way. "...three...two...one. NOW!" Schmidt exclaimed. "Godspeed, Nathan," I whispered, slamming my palm down on the trigger. The Republic jolted noticeably under a tremendous explosion of exiting atmosphere as the bay's door was blown outward, and the pod, carrying its human cargo, was ripped from the deck and catapulted out into the vacuum of space.
  13. 2 points
    F(continued from previous post) "This was my fault, Major. I should have anticipated something like this." Alyssa apologized. "No, it was my fault for not tracing the extent of the infection far enough." I argued. "Look, I don't care about fault or lack thereof!" the Major exclaimed. "All I care about is getting control of my ship back. Now, how do we do it? We can't call the team on the surface, or any of the other ships in our flotilla, we can't launch a lander because we haven't got command and control back....what does that leave us?" "We could sabotage the comm system, for now at least." said Alyssa. "Worry about that when we get everything else back together." "No, that won't do." said Hayes. "I need us to be able to talk to the ground and to Donovan as soon as possible. No comm unit out here is just asking for trouble." "I may have a plan." I said. "I'm listening." said Hayes. "If you have a drop pod and a vac suit, I can get down to the wreck and disable the ground transmitter." I said. "Are you proposing an orbital drop like we did at Gan Singh?" Alyssa replied. "Yeah. Except, the Mech Bays obviously are hosed at the moment, so you'll have to blow the pod out a cargo bay or something." "Nathan, we are at a MUCH different altitude right now than we were at Gan Singh, the weather patterns here are different, and I'm not even 100% sure what you'd find IF you were to land successfully on target. I'm not sure that sending you to an almost certain death is the right move." Hayes argued. "Add to that the fact that we have zero guarantee you'd still be working for us the moment you were off this ship." Alyssa added. "If I were scheming, there are much safer avenues to do it that don't involve firey immolation in the atmosphere or getting murdered by pirates, the environment, or some combination of both. I want to help. I believe that I can do this. Strap a homing beacon on me and on the pod that your other ships can track that I can't take off if you want. If I burn up in the atmosphere, I'm out of your hair. If I don't, your guys will know right where to find me before I even hit the ground. Please, Major. It's our best option." I pleaded. Major Hayes looked deep in thought for a moment. Then, he spoke. "Okay. Let's give it a shot. Alyssa, let's get him what he needs."
  14. 2 points
    Elsewhere... C.S.V. Republic Low orbit Nirasaki, Draconis Combine February 7, 3029 ___________________________ "Amazing work, Mister Schmidt," I sighed, the tension easing as the Lyran and I registered the successful transition of the Republic into an interstellar flight configuration. "I'll remember you said that," Schmidt replied, his fingers clicking across the keypad of the noteputer. "We're still under thrust. By the looks of it, this thing is trying to put us into a stable orbit. I have no idea why." "Maybe we can use that to our advantage," I answered. "Now that we're not under immediate threat of falling out of the sky, we can turn out attention toward making sure we don't leave this system." "I don't think we stand a chance of getting control of the engines," Nathan retorted. "We didn't even technically get control of the ship just now. We just got lucky that the virus apparently has a fear of drowning." "I get that," I interrupted, stopping Nathan's rant. "But I'm not talking about trying to get control of anything. I'm talking about going down to the engine room and physically disconnecting the drives." "Well, I don't see any reason why we wouldn't be able to do that," Nathan agreed, "especially since the virus doesn't seem to care about any security systems that don't directly protect its program. But then, what's gonna keep us from falling into the atmosphere and getting incinerated when we inevitably start losing altitude?" "We'll only take the interplanetary engines offline. We'll keep the thrusters and RCS online. I feel pretty confident that the virus doesn't want to burn up any more than we do," I explained. "Come on, let's get down there." "I don't know the first thing about engines," Nathan deadpanned. "Well, I guess that means that today, you get to learn," I replied. ### A short while later... With the help of the engineering crew and Nathan Schmidt, we'd been able to make short work of disconnecting the fuel lines which fed the Republic's massive fusion drives. As we'd predicted, the malware made no attempts to stop us; instead, it seemed confused as to the sudden unavailability of the ship's interplanetary engines, attempting to fire them periodically, but having no success in doing so. As a result, the program simply used the vessel's thrusters at regular intervals to keep the ship on a stable altitude and trajectory. "Well, that was fun," I chuckled, wiping grease from my hands and tossing the rag across the zero-gravity environment of the engine bay. Nathan plucked it out of the air, using it to scrub at a spot on his flight suit while casting me a skeptical glance. "I guess," he answered. "Well, if turning wrenches doesn't do it for you, maybe there's something else we can busy you with," a new voice quipped. Floating down the ladder of the bay toward us was Alyssa Chase. "Miss Chase, nice of you to join us. What exactly did you have in mind for Mister Schmidt here?" I inquired. "Sorry for not calling ahead, Major," Alyssa replied. "The comms are still hosed. The bridge crew passed me your summary of the situation with the computers. As I understand it, you're going to have to take the core offline to get the virus extricated." "Yes, that's pretty much accurate, and purging all the malware is going to need to happen quick enough that we can fire the system back up afterward with enough altitude left that we can maintain it with just the thrusters," I agreed. "I'm essentially planning to try to pull off what we did on the Half Moon." Chase nodded. "While that did work, it took you a while - no offense, of course. I'm just a little concerned that you might come in right against the wire if you go at it alone this time." "What'd you have in mind?" I asked, raising an eyebrow. "Well, if Nathan and I assist you, we can get it done three times as fast, and guarantee that we'll have breathing room on the other side," Chase explained. "That sounds like an excellent plan," I nodded. "Mister Schmidt, feel up to more some authorized systems intrusion?"
  15. 2 points
    I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Apparently, neither could Marcus Donovan, who let out a long whisper and an expletive in my headset, a decidedly out-of-character move from a man I'd known to maintain a strict military bearing at all times. "Ho-ly shit," the Captain's voice crackled. "Bishop Weyland - back from the dead. How the hell did he manage that? I saw the BattleROM myself. There was nothing left of that tank." "I have no idea," I murmured, trying to afford the Mendacius' control center as clear a view of the battle armored soldier as I could without alarming him. "But he seems really spooked. And, frankly, doesn't look terribly healthy." "See if you can talk to him," Donovan ordered. "But listen, Charles, don't take any unnecessary risks. This mission is going sideways again." "Yeah, about that," I whispered, turning my head away from Weyland and Miles momentarily, "what's the situation with the Republic? Why can't we raise them?" "Major Hayes and Nathan Schmidt were trying to decrypt that drive you brought back - " "Schmidt?" I blurted. Miles cast me a glance. I held my hand up to forestall any questions. "What the devil was Schmidt doing mucking around in that archive?" "Major Hayes wanted to leverage his abilities, and what happened wasn't his fault. They found a program on the drive that looked promising. But when they tried to run it - in a sandboxed environment, mind you - it smashed through the security protocols and initiated the Republic's liftoff sequence. They weren't prepped for dustoff and were very nearly killed as the ship made orbit. We have since lost communication with them - first due to the ionic interference of their exit trajectory, and now, because they're in an orbit that's taken them onto the far side of the planet - but our telemetry confirms that they're in a stabilized orbit and appear to have gotten the ship into a pressurized flight configuration," Captain Donovan explained. "And before you ask - no, I don't know the status of any of your crew that you had onboard. They were all aboard at the time the ship pushed off, though. Those down on the planet aboard the Tana are fine." "I appreciate the update. Please keep us apprised. Are you moving to intercept the Republic?" I asked. "Not at this time. Our primary responsibility is to ensure you are able to complete your mission successfully. If we break geostationary orbit, we'll lose communication with you and we won't be able to continue surveillance of the discovery site. After you're safely extracted and aboard the Tana, we can attempt to aid the Republic," Donovan answered. "Understood," I replied. "If and when you are able to raise the Republic on the comms, please recommend to Major Hayes that he leverage Warrant Officer Alyssa Chase to help get the ship back online. She's cut from the same tech-savvy cloth that Mister Schmidt is. Marius Lennox, aboard the Tana, can also provide remote advisement." "I'll be sure the message gets through, Captain," Donovan confirmed. I looked back toward Miles and Weyland. Both men wore haunted expressions - Sergeant Miles looked as though he was seeing a ghost, while Bishop looked as though his soul had left his body, leaving behind a shattered shell held together by machinery and medicine. Cautiously, I approached the pair. As I did so, Weyland's head snapped toward me. Holding my ground, I maintained eye contact, stepping closer and closer. "Bishop - it's certainly good to see you," I began. "We thought we'd lost you." The soldier gazed at me with distant eyes. Eventually, he spoke, each word emerging slowly, deliberately, painfully. "No. I...returned to the pack." I nodded, deciding against any further sentimentality that I knew would make the man uncomfortable. "Well, if you feel up to it - fall in, solider. We could use your help." Weyland tipped his head curtly toward me, and stomped toward the rest of our group, his Nighthawk power armor making heavy mechanical noises as it thunked across the deckplates. I glanced toward Sergeant Miles. "I can't explain everything right now, sir," Miles offered, "but Bishop has come back. Mother was here." "What does that mean?" I asked. "As you know, we have a pact to retrieve any Skinwalker elders that fall. And...Mother did something with him," the Sergeant explained, sounding shaken. Before Miles could speculate further, another voice spoke up. "I suppose a thank you is in order." I turned my head toward the speaker. It was the man with the bomb collar.
  16. 2 points
    D.C.S. Takashima Black Eclipse discovery site Great Banded Desert, Nirasaki February 7, 3029 ___________________________ Miles kept his eyes fixed on the gore covered Nighthawk battle suit. The suit was old and had clearly been through many grueling battles. The charcoal gray armored monster loomed in the hallway, it’s entire bulk dominated the battle space, including the man sitting on the ground with the bomb collar around his neck. Driven by an unseen force the Sergeant walked forward, deep inside of him something stirred at the site of the killing machine. The madness around him disappeared, time slowed and sound dampened. He walked on, holding Mother’s gift. As he closed the distance, the true horror of the suit became real. The suit’s normally rectangular shaped head had been modified to mimic a snarling K9 with elongated fangs... like a crude werewolf. It’s powered gauntlets had been shaped into rending claws that now dripping with blood and human fluid. Everything about it spoke of horror and death. None of this scared the Skinwalker, for he saw beauty and admired its purpose. The Sergeant also saw the killing construct’s gift, Mother’s gift. It was a necklace similar to his own. But this that hung from the Nighthawk’s armored neck was larger and more ornate, made of human bone, feathers and a silver snarling wolf skull with real fangs. Now Miles was so close he would reach out and touch it. The only movement the faceless killer made was a slight flexing of his claws. It was just as transfixed on the Miles as he was on it. “I am Nightstalker, son of Mother and a true blood of the Pack.... show yourself” whispered the Sergeant. The suit stood still, now completely motionless. “Reveal yourself.... battle bother” Mile’s tone was like ice. Slowly, the creature’s arms raised up, it’s massive claws covered its head. A low hiss and puff of air escaped from the helmet’s collar seal. Slowly, the beast pulled its helmet off..... revealing the painted face of an old battle brother. Bishop’s massive skull was shaved smooth, his face was horrible scared with burn marks and cuts. The warriors entire head was painted in a spooky bone white war paint that sent chills down Mile’s spine. From temple to temple a single, greasy black strip of war paint covered his now silver eyes and bridge of his nose. A wave of emotions struck Miles like a thunder bolt, joy, pride and sadness....for his brother’s damaged soul. “What is your name brother?” Asked Miles. In a slow and growl Bishop spoke, “Deathwalker” “No.... brother, what is your name?” Whispered Miles. Bishop’s face twitches and contorted with pain,”Deathwalker” he whispered. Miles starred unblinking into Bishop’s eyes, the man was in tremendous physical pain. Like flashes of lighting, Miles saw the internal struggle in Bishop’s eyes. He saw a beast’s rage and hunger for slaughter and a man trying to regain his mind and soul. It was a struggle as old as time, the animal savage against man. “Your name is Bishop Weyland .... remember your name my brother.... come back to me” whispered Miles. Bishop’s face twitched with pain, now a trickle of blood ran out of nostril. Miles recognized it immediately... the suit was keeping Bishop alive, pumping him full of pain killers and combat stimulates. How long had been like this? What happened to him? How did he get back? All these questions raced through Mile’s mind. “My name....my name... is Bishop Weyland” whispered Bishop. The Sergeant’s heart leapt with joy. He had hope for his brother’s mind and soul. “Bishop! Your alive!” Captains Maxwell’s voice broke the moment. The armored hulk instinctively twitch, flexing its claws at the approaching Captain. Miles held out his hand, signaling the Captain to stop. The Captain instinctively froze in place. Miles held his breath and watched as Bishop’s eyes tracked the possible threat, ready to massacre him, and everyone else in the room. There, in his silver eyes Miles saw a flash of recognition. In a distant and slow voice Bishop spoke, “Captain Maxwell......Captain Maxwell.... what are your orders sir?” Miles relaxed some, then slowly turned to the now spooked Captain. Locking eyes with Maxwell, the Sergeant told him everything he needed to know.....I’ll explain later.... keep calm... no sudden movements.
  17. 2 points
    D.C.S. Takashima Main Engineering, Drive Section, Escape Pod Access Corridor Great Banded Desert, Nirasaki (Early February) ”What luck,” Kaimani Akamu marveled, “What wonderful, glorious sons of fate these newcomers were!” Not only was he free of his makeshift cell, but his new “friends” were most definitely mercenaries here in pursuit of of a parallel goal! Just 5 short minutes ago, Kai hadn’t been entirely sure that he would ever leave this ship, unless it was in the guts of those disgusting giant rat lizards! One firefight (and one poorly executed fistfight) later, he had a good chance to make a success out of his real mission here! Kai dusted his shoulders off and attempted to make a decent assessment of his current situation through the terrible, psychedelic raze in his ears and Smokey hallway he was in. Dirty, difficult-to-make-out people standing around him. Maybe one of them could help him to get the neck-popper off. A member of this group even seemed to be wearing the very equipment he’d come here to find! The Nighthawk power-armor he was wearing was heavily modified and was obviously the recipient of decades worth of scratches, patches, and scorches. “Where the hell has he gotten it, “ Kai pondered. “Moreover, where had he learned to pilot it?!” It couldn’t have come from this ship, he was sure of it. He was sure he knew or knew of every skilled power-armor or PA-L suit driver on this side of the Sphere. Kai thought the Nighthawk pilot seemed a little off but he certainly knew how to vivisect pirates with it! He looked down and wiped the bit of gore off his boot with a small grimace. The suit’s markings were unfamiliar. However, Kai had internally made up his mind that he could work with these men , whoever they were, for more than just the time it took to escape though he was not sure what they would think of his “official” mission here. No matter, they seemed to accept and dismiss his cover story for the moment. Dare he hope that he had once again been delivered from Pele’s Volcanic Wrath? Only time would tell...
  18. 2 points
    C.S.V. Republic Aegis Division staging site 3.2 kilometers from D.C.S. Takashima Great Banded Desert, Nirasaki February 7, 3029 ___________________________ My headset elicited deafening squelches and crackles as very nearly every department on the OPCOMM channel simultaneously attempted to sound the alarm about the Republic's unexpected liftoff. The vessel shuddered and listed noticeably, causing Schmidt and I to instinctively grab for the handrails built into the consoles around us. Steve Jenkins, meanwhile, simply screamed. "Clear this channel!" I barked into my headset, keying my priority override toggle. "Hayes to bridge - what in the hell is happening up there?" "I have no idea, sir!" a voice responded. "We didn't do anything - the drives were cold and locked down, and then, on their own, they lit up!" "Goddamnit," I hissed. "Alright, what is our status? Can you abort the liftoff and get us back on the ground?" "We haven't got flight control, sir, and we have a more immediate problem," the bridge replied. "What in Blake's name could be more immediately pressing than involuntary liftoff?" I answered back, nearly yelling to be heard over the scream of the Republic's drives operating at what felt like full output. "Our bay doors are all open, interconnects between the decks aren't sealed, and we're not pressurized, sir - we're going to start losing atmo real soon if we can't get control of the situation." "How long have we got?" I asked, glancing toward Schmidt, who was still clinging to the sides of his terminal, a wild-eyed expression of concern on his face. "We're going to be in orbit in eight minutes, Major, but I anticipate we're going to be unconscious in a little over five," came the chilling reply. "I'll call you back in four," I answered. "In the mean time, keep trying to regain control. Hayes out." I wrestled my way toward Schmidt. "Have you got any idea what caused this?" I shouted, my words almost completely drowned out by the rattles, groans, and creaks of 3,000 tons of DropShip hurtling into orbit. "Quite obviously malware!" Schmidt exclaimed back, gesturing at the compromised computer displays that surrounded us. "I think it's some kind of fractal code virus with adaptive behavior that was able to worm its way around the security protocols and get onto the mainframe! I'd be impressed if our lives weren't literally at its mercy!" "I didn't follow most of that, but I'll take your word for it!" I nodded. "Can you shut it down - or at least get the ship into flight configuration? Even in the atmosphere, flying with all of the holds open is a recipe for disaster!" "Oh, now you trust me?" Schmidt glared. "I have to! If I don't, we all die!"
  19. 2 points
    Meanwhile... D.C.S. Takashima Black Eclipse discovery site Great Banded Desert, Nirasaki February 7, 3029 ___________________________ I fired blindly into the crowd of marauding salvagers, my MP-20 eliciting loud barks of gunfire as I backed toward Sabre team, withdrawing under the partial cover that the elevator shaft afforded us. A hail of laser and conventional rounds blazed back and forth from our positions, the incoming shots flying wide due to our attackers' impaired line of sight. "Covering fire!" shouted Sergeant Miles. "See if you can draw some of their focus off the captain!" Concentrated barrages of combined-arms munitions spat forth from Sabre team's position as I fell into formation and leveled my sights on the bandaged attacker, who stood at the forefront of the group. My MP-20 barked again, slinging a volley of bullets directly into its target, sending the pirate tumbling backwards, critically hit. Simultaneously, a large, fast-moving blur, appearing only as a transparent visual distortion which loomed over the shaft, flashed past our attackers, momentarily knocking the remaining gunmen off-balance and allowing our team to score a handful of lucky shots. "What in the devil was that?" I exclaimed, hoping that I wasn't succumbing to hallucinations at a very inopportune moment. "I don't know, but I saw it too," Corporal Clemmons replied, as though he'd read my mind. A laser round cored into the deck at the corporal's feet, causing him to jump back momentarily before returning fire, stunning the shooter with a low-intensity laser blast. A single pirate remained, caught in the sights of Sergeant Miles' handgun. For a moment, I thought that the salvager had chosen to surrender, but then, I realized that it was Miles who had frozen. "Miles! What are you doing?" I yelled. The Skinwalker offered no response. As I raised my rifle to attempt to put down the last attacker, something unbelievable happened. Just as the pirate appeared ready to open fire on Miles, the 'shadow' reappeared...and tore the hapless salvager from his position, dragging him off, screaming, into the depths of the Takashima. "What the hell was that?" Dutch McKenzie, who'd evidently returned at some point during the combat, exclaimed. "I don't know," I replied, the sounds of combat continuing from outside of the elevator shaft, "but I expect we're about to find out. Let's get that ladder deployed now. We need to get up there and figure out who they're fighting if it's not us."
  20. 1 point
    "Sounds good." I answered. The terminal looked like the average medium security rig I was used to busting, and with an Apple-Churchill kit, it represented no real challenge to me. I slid into position with the devices I would need...the noteputer loaded with slicing software, and the relevant accessories from the kit, and set about preparing my intrusion. As I was getting ready, I heard heavy breathing over my shoulder. I turned to look, and it was Steve Jenkins. "Oh hey, buddy." I said cautiously. "You okay after that epic fall?" "Yes. I used dragon spirits to zen away the pain." said Steve, doing a sudden muscle flex. "As long as you feel better, right? What's dragon spirits, anyway?" I asked. "It's this!" Steve said, holding up a bottle of 120-proof saké that literally said 'Dragon Spirits' on the label. "Holy shit! You're drinking hanazake in the desert? In here? That stuff has so much alcohol in it that it's literally flammable!" I clicked the last of the cables into the terminal and fired up the slicing software on my noteputer. Steve nodded his head excitedly. "Yeah, I know, sometimes, after I drink a big alcohol drink, I light my burps on fire, and-" A loud beeping from the terminal pulled my attention out of the conversation. I squinted at the screen, trying to be sure I was reading its message correctly. MEDICAL ALERT RECEIVED - COMMENCING TRIAGE "What? No, that's not what I was trying to do!" I exclaimed. Looking at my noteputer, I saw that the slicing software had hit a proxy, and whatever commands it was trying to throw at the terminal were going someplace else. I resterted the analysis on the firewall while I launched a bunch of shell sessions on the Churchill equipment to try to overwhelm the proxy. Meanwhile, I successfully brought down the SSH port on the terminal. Turning my attention back to the firewall analysis, I began to feed it a second round of commands. Unexpectedly, I felt a hard sting on my neck, and I reflexively reached up to swat hard at whatever had caused it. To my surprise, my hand connected with a small mass of metal and plastic, and I heard an audible crunch. I drew my hand back and looked at the object. It was a tiny, broken, copper-colored drone, with a small syringe. The vial was empty. "...the hell is this thing?" I wondered out loud. Before I could think on the matter further, though, a catastrophic, deafening blast of electrical surge cascaded from the ports of the computer terminal I was trying to hack, the sum total of the arcing electricity funneling its way into the Apple-Churchill kit and my noteputer. The current carried so much voltage that the setup literally burst into flames and melted into plastic slag all at the same time, sending a conflagration of fire and smoke billowing angrily toward the ceiling. I yelled and fell backward off the edge of the sideways terminal, crashing to the deck behind the server rack. "What the hell - Nathan, are you okay?" Captain Maxwell exclaimed, setting down the transfer drive he was working on and sprinting over to me. "Yeah...I'm fine....I think. But the hacking gear is totaled. Oddly, the ship's computer seemed to take real issue with me trying to slice it." "That's not the first kit we've lost to this ship." Maxwell answered. "Well, what are we supposed to do now?" I asked. "Can't we just shoot the computer to stop the signal, like they do in the movies?" Steve Jenkins asked, appearing out of nowhere. "No, all that will do is blow up the computer and stop us from turning off the transmitter. Then we'd be forced to find the transmitter itsrlf, and I'll be damned if we'd stand a chance of that given the size of this wreck." Maxwell responded. "Wait a minute." I said. "Hey, Bishop. Is it true that those Nighthawk suits have slicing gear? Between your armor and whatever high-end infiltration software you might have on voars, you might actually be able to bust the security on this terminal and shut down the process." Bishop looked toward me, as though he was giving it some consideration...
  21. 1 point
    "OK CAPTAIN MAXWELL! I'M COMING DOWN!" I Yelled loudly. Then, I ramped up my Zen really high and jumped through the hole with my arms out at both sides doing a Kubudo Crane Dive. The air ripped past my skin and made whooshing noises that sounded like somebody had a loud TV turned up on the porno channel where they kind of scramble everything but not really. A million years went by as I fell down, down, down, down, down and right as the ground came up at me I cut loose with a huge Zen scream that was supposed to stop my fall, but it didn't! "Damn Blakists! Stupid Zoodle, I should...." Then the ground came up really fast and hit me in the gut and in the face, all kinds of dirt and rocks blasted me and got caught in my teeth and smashed me as they sundered my body, I flipped over and over and over and while I Rolled out of control I Thought I was going to die... " Oh shit Captain Maxwell, you gotta help me, I'm a sitting duck if I..." Suddenly I felt a Huge boot drop down on me and stop me from rolling. I looked up and Screamed in terror as a huge metal man reached down and picked me up.... "ANALYZING ANALYZING ANALYZING" it said. I kept screaming bloody murder, I had to let it know that I meant Business. "SUBJECT JENKINS, STEVEN T. KNOWN AS AEGIS DIVISION EMPLOYEE. IDENTIFIER 55433453367-BRAVO-GREEN-49 EXCEPTION WRITTEN TO TERMINATION MATRIX. DISENGAGE." Then the metal man put me down, I stopped screaming. Then I looked at Captain Maxwell. "Thanks Mister Bishop!" I said and looked at Captain Maxwell. "HI Captain Maxwell, I'm Here to serve!" Then I did a salute.
  22. 1 point
    Black Eclipse Discovery Site Great Banded Desert, Nirasaki February 7, 3029 ___________________________ The massive Skinwalkers silent watched and listen to the Captain and Nathan’s exchange of words. In the deep recesses of his mind memories stirred and moved like silent ghost. Just snap shots of events and places rolled through mind. Bishop’s mind and soul were in open war with each other. Each struggling for dominance for his body. One, wanted him to remember his humanity.... the other want to weaponizing him for death and destruction. “Captain.... that man is responsible for the innocent deaths of two crew members aboard the Half Moon”....the words falling out of Bishops mouth in a growl. The Skinwalker had no control over what he said or why he said it. The Beast inside of him was loosing its control over his mind. Silently it raged for having its claws slip. The suit adjusted by injecting a small amount of combat stimulates into his body. By sure force of will Bishop fought the urge to visit death upon the man stand next to him. Before the shocked Captain could respond Bishop slowly reached up and hoisted his nearly thousand pound body up on to the support frames he had ran on. Like is a aerial predator he squatted on the frame, perfectly balanced and unmoving. The only sound made in the room was the slow scraping of metal.... his claws flex and together.... something he had no metal control over. There he sat, observing his pack members below him, watching over them like a angle of death....waiting for threats.... while the his internal war still raged.
  23. 1 point
    Combat Transport (Space) VTOL Mass: 60 tons Movement Type: VTOL Power Plant: 70 Fusion Cruising Speed: 54 kph Maximum Speed: 108 kph Armor: Ferro-Fibrous Prototype Armament: 4 Medium Laser 1 Machine Gun Manufacturer: Unknown Primary Factory: Unknown Communication System: Unknown Targeting & Tracking System: Unknown Introduction Year: 3029 Tech Rating/Availability: E/X-F-X-X Cost: 6,966,000 C-bills Type: Combat Transport (Space) Technology Base: Inner Sphere (Experimental) Movement Type: VTOL Tonnage: 60 Battle Value: 1,071 Equipment Mass Internal Structure 12 Engine 70 Fusion 3 Cruising MP: 5 Flank MP: 8(10) Heat Sinks: 12 2 Control Equipment: 3.0 Lift Equipment: 6.0 Power Amplifier: 0.0 Turret: 0.5 Armor Factor (Ferro Prototype)250 14 Internal Armor Structure Value Front 6 60 R/L Side 6/6 54/54 Rear 6 50 Turret 6 30 Rotor 6 2 Weapons and Ammo Location Tonnage 2 Medium Lasers Left 2.0 2 Medium Lasers Right 2.0 VTOL Jet Booster Body 0.5 Half Machine Gun Ammo (100) Turret 0.5 Machine Gun Turret 0.5 Infantry Body 4.0 Cargo Body 2.0 Combat Environmental Sealing Body 0.0
  24. 1 point
    DroST IVc Dropship Type: Military Aerodyne Mass: 2,500 tons Technology Base: Inner Sphere (Standard) Introduced: 3029 Mass: 2,500 Size: 60m long x 63m wide x 24m high Battle Value: 5,990 Tech Rating/Availability: D/X-E-D-D Cost: 289,022,400 C-bills Fuel: 100 tons (4,000) Safe Thrust: 7 Maximum Thrust: 11 Heat Sinks: 109 Structural Integrity: 16 Armor Nose: 350 Sides: 310/310 Aft: 238 Cargo Bay 1: Light Vehicle (2) 1 Door Bay 2: Cargo (285.0 tons) 2 Doors Bay 3: Heavy Vehicle (2) 2 Doors Bay 4: Infantry (Jump) (12) 2 Doors Ammunition: 90 rounds of AC/10 ammunition (9 tons), 36 rounds of LRM 20 ammunition (6 tons) Escape Pods: 18 Life Boats: 0 Crew: 2 officers, 3 enlisted/non-rated, 4 gunners, 68 bay personnel Notes: Mounts 71.5 tons of standard aerospace armor. Weapons: Capital Attack Values (Standard) Arc (Heat) Heat SRV MRV LRV ERV Class Nose (25 Heat) 1 AC/10 3 1(10) 1(10) 0(0) 0(0) AC AC/10 Ammo (300 shots) 2 Large Laser 16 2(16) 2(16) 0(0) 0(0) Laser 1 LRM 20 6 1(12) 1(12) 1(12) 0(0) LRM LRM 20 Ammo (72 shots) RW/LW (33 Heat) 1 AC/10 3 1(10) 1(10) 0(0) 0(0) AC AC/10 Ammo (300 shots) 2 Medium Laser 14 2(18) 1(8) 0(0) 0(0) Laser 1 Large Laser 1 LRM 20 6 1(12) 1(12) 1(12) 0(0) LRM LRM 20 Ammo (72 shots) 1 PPC 10 1(10) 1(10) 0(0) 0(0) PPC RW/LW Aft (6 Heat) 2 Medium Laser 6 1(10) 0(0) 0(0) 0(0) Laser Aft (6 Heat) 2 Medium Laser 6 1(10) 0(0) 0(0) 0(0) Laser
  25. 1 point
    Aboard Black OPs DMI DroST IVc-class Dropship Gorgon In orbit around GJ 3634c dwarf planet Pokhara System, Kurita space near Davion border February 11, 3029 ____________________________________ The retro thrusters fired sporadically and the cold blue glow of the idling planetary transit drives reflected off nearby debris as the dropship made its slow circle around the outer edges of a prominent debris field. Time had not been kind to whatever had been left after a fight in this system a couple hundred years ago, between solar radiation and gravity itself there wasn't much left that was identifiable, let alone salvageable. Had I been able to see outside I might have been able to appreciate the somewhat surreal beauty of the massive cloud of debris floating in space almost suspended between the dwarf planet and its tidally locked binary partner, a moon that was nearly 20% the mass of the dwarf planet itself. From our current position I would have been able to see the planet's second moon in orbit at twice the distance away reflecting the dull red glow of the Pokhara system's class M2V red dwarf star, as we searched seemingly futilely for something worthwhile to salvage. As we once again passed over the debris cloud, the dropship's thrusters adjusting our orbit with finely tuned precision, the bridge crew assumedly were performing various scans to see if there was anything of note amongst the twisted remains of what was once most likely a powerful warship of a bygone era. I was currently strapped into a jumpseat in one of the Gorgon's cargo holds, along with the rest of the DMI special forces platoon, as per the order by the captain roughly an hour ago. We had arrived at the planetary system some time before that but had been ordered to get strapped in as they moved the dropship into the outer edges of the debris field, now operating in zero-g with the main transit drive only idling it could be disasterous if sudden evasive maneouvers were required and someone wasn't properly anchored in the zero-g environment. A sudden shift in momentum within the cargo bay indicated one of those maneouvers was likely happening now, although the steady acceleration that followed indicated we might just be moving to a new location instead. Again if I could have seen outside, or known what was going on on the bridge, I would have been aware that they had detected a much larger piece of debris in a synchronous orbit with the moon on its far side and we were now on our way to investigate what was currently our best lead. As the Gorgon rounded the moon a large almost spherical silhouette emerged from behind the moon, currently cast in complete shadow by the planet, the dropship crew had to stop the ship short though as the density of the debris cloud surrounding what was potentially an intact vessel was too high to safely navigate with a large vessel. Instead they settled into a similar orbit in order to remain at the same location, relative to the wreck, while smaller craft was taken in to investigate the vessel closer. "So it looks like we actually found something," began Johnathan "JJ" Jaegar, "Captain said there's a derelict out there for us to investigate but it's not a Warship. It appears to be an old Pentagon-class Assault dropship, it's clearly taken some major damage but we are to board it, assess the damage and see what can be salvaged. The debris field surrounding the vessel is too dense to safely navigate unnecessarily with the Gorgon itself so instead we're taking the CT(S) VTOL in for a closer look and to board it. Everyone is going on the VTOL but only Rook squad will be boarding at first, they will assess the initial area for damage and if safe to do so we'll proceed from there. Castle and Archer squads will of course be prepped and ready to go should Rook require any assistance." "This is a derelict ship, and it's highly unlikely that anything on board will be working however we're still going to treat it as a standard boarding operation," continued Leena Sykora, Captain of the Grail Lords and in joint command with JJ on this operation, "That means Rook squad will breach the hull and establish a beachhead within the vessel before Archer squad will be deployed to secure it. Castle can deploy once a secure location is established and Rook will proceed towards engineering and any other targets of opportunity that might come up. The goal is to secure the entire vessel and begin salvage operations, if possible we want to bring the main reactors back online and restore power, that'll make it much easier to assess the overall state of the wreck and determine if we can actually recover the derelict or if we have to scrap it piece by piece. Once power, and hopefully life support, is restored we can bring in a full salvage crew and if needed the DMI has provided us access to a salvage ship waiting in a nearby system. As a side note, we are still instructed to test the 'Project Golem' combat exoskeleton in any of our missions." A slight pause as Captain Sykora looked over everyone assembled before locking eyes with me, "Guardian Orlex, that means you get to join Rook squad and assist with the breaching of the vessel and intial salvage attempts, as well as any other testing or situations we deem necessary to complete that aspect of our mission. Let's hope your training hasn't been wasted. Alright everyone, I want you suited up and on board the CT(S) in 10." With that the cargo hold exploded into activity as various deckhands as well as all the members of the Grail Lords moved to get ready within the zero-g environment of the hold. The CT(S), or its full title of Combat Transport (Space), was a superheavy VTOL that was environmentally sealed for operations in space, or any other hostile environment, and had somewhat uncommon fusion powered vectored thrusters as opposed to traditional rotors which allowed it to operate without an atmosphere. It carried an unusually large amount of armour for a VTOL and did not suffer the usual VTOL vulnerability, due to the lack of rotors, but was still susceptible to a critical hit taking out its engines with relative ease. The CT(S) carried 4 medium lasers mounted on the fixed portions of the left and right wings along with a large calibre machinegun on a turret under the body, it also had a 4 ton infantry bay in the back along with room for an additional 2 tons of cargo. All in all the CT(S) VTOL was a tough little transport perfect for delivering troops in any combat environment and safely extracting them once their mission was complete. 10 minutes later the Grail Lords were all suited up in various combat capable space suits and were strapped into the infantry bay of the CT(S) with all the various gear we would need securely stored. I myself was inside the combat exoskeleton suit, which everyone was starting to just refer to as The Golem, for better or worse, and strapped to the wall like cargo, with the magnetic clamps in the feet engaged as well. Nobody wanted the 400kg exoskeleton coming loose and smashing around inside the infantry bay even if it was zero-g, myself included. A few minutes later and the deckhands had finished the final checks to clear us for launch and everyone had vacated the vehicle bay to allow us to safely depressurize the hold and deploy into space. The klaxon warning sirens faded as the bay depressurized and a moment later the fusion engines of the VTOL lifted us from the deck and propelled us out into the void of space. The pilot had to be careful to not fly too fast as some of the debris surrounding the derelict was difficult to see at best and several last minute course corrections made me glad I was so securely tied down. The familiar electric hum of capacitors discharging and recharging somewhere in the hull indicated to me that the pilot was also using the lasers to clear a path when necessary even without looking into the cockpit to see it, a feat I would have trouble managing even if I wanted to due to limitations of the exoskeleton. The CT(S) weaved its way through the worst of the debris and the final approach towards the derelict vessel was relatively smooth. As the searchlights on the VTOL played across the ship the extent of damage came into clear view and the pilot let out a long low whistle as I heard JJ saying "Damn..." not quite under his breath. The entire port side of the Pentagon was gone, and I don't mean destroyed, it was gone completely. It looked like someone had just carved a chunk right out of the vessel, clearly the ship had taken some direct fire from Capital class weaponry, that was the only thing we could think of capable of that kind of damage. That meant that at least one side in this battle had a Warship though it didn't look like we would be finding enough of one to be meaningful at this point. The gouge carved into the Pentagon's side cut deep into the internals of the ship and the skeletal remains of the several decks could be seen as the CT(S)'s lights played over them, it was clear the ship would have explosively decompressed at this point and that would explain why the vessel was still as intact as it was and not blown into pieces, there was no surviving that hit. "How's that look over there?" asked JJ to someone in the cockpit. "Looks as good as any place to me," responded Leena. "Yes sir, ma'am, that should do nicely. There's nothing stable enough that I can see to land on, but we can get nice and close in that ... alcove let's call it, and limit the distance you'll have to traverse in open space. Also looks like I should be able to anchor this bird in the vicinity and we'll have some protection provided by the derelict's own superstructure," came the pilot's own assessment. The sound of boots on metal and a second later both Captains floated past me back towards the VTOL's cargo doors before landing smoothly at the front of the platoon. Keying their headsets to make sure that everyone could hear them they gave us a final brief before we launched into the salvage operation. "... but there's nothing stable enough to actually land on, so we've moved into the best position we can and we'll be deploying in complete zero-g. Orlex, since The Golem isn't exactly designed for zero-g maneouvers you'll be escorted by Bill and Vincent to assist you with reaching our entry point. You'll then be on point to breach the vessel and Rook squad will follow you in." With the cockpit sealed, the main hatch door slowly lowered after the infantry bay was depressured and the vast blackness of space was laid out before us. The spotlights on the CT(S) provided somewhat limited and localised light highlighting the damaged deck we were using to enter the derelict, the gaping maw of what should have been the inside of the vessel filled most of my view as I disengaged the magnetic foot clamps and pushed forward to drift into the void. On either side of the me were the two engineers currently assigned to Rook squad that had been designated to assist me with the crossing, their suits had built in retrojets to allow for zero-g movement, an ability the exoskeleton was decidely lacking. There supposedly was an external maneouver pack that was being worked on at NAIS but that did very little to help me here and now, thankfully the three of us made the crossing from the VTOL to the derelict without incident and I was glad to have the magnetic clamps on the suit's feet firmly attached to ferrosteel again. In the odd silence of space I made my way slowly along the section of deck we landed on until I was far enough into the ship's exposed internals to properly orientate myself with the derelict's position, realizing we were actually upside down at the moment I reached out and grabbed onto a steel bar jutting out from the wall and in one smooth motion disengaged the mangetic clamps, swung myself 180° in the passage way and re-engaged the clamps on what was the proper floor. Behind me the rest of Rook squad also re-orientated themselves as they got close enough to the derelict to actually be considered inside now. With the squad successfully inserted the CT(S) pulled back to a safe distance to wait for us to officially breach the vessel and establish our entry point. About 20 feet into the exposed hallway we found a badly damaged but still sealed bulkhead that must have closed shortly after the ship was fatally wounded. We had no way of knowing if the section on the other side was still pressurized and the blast door itself wouldn't have been operable even if the power was still on. As such, Rook squad secured themselves along one side of the hallway while I used the exoskeleton's large cutting torch to gently break the seal on the door and started prying the bulkhead open. There was no blast of air or any other indication that the blast door had actually been successful all those years ago when it activated as the laser torch melted through the thick slab of steel and within minutes I managed to cut open and pry one half of the bulkhead far enough open to easily pass through with the exoskeleton, and by extension the rest of Rook squad as well. I toggled the mounted spotlight in The Golem's left shoulder on as I stepped through into the inky blackness of the derelict Pentagon's proper interior, the light flooding down the corridor and showing ancient signs of severe damage consistent with explosive decompression, apparently the blast door had failed or was too late in its activation. Sections of the corridor seemed like it tried to collapse in on itself while others appeared to have almost blown out the walls, neither of which fully occured but ended up giving the corridor a weird undulating wave punctuated by destroyed panels and the occasional ceiling strut or floor panel sticking out at odd angles. I moved further into the wreck, the echo of the exoskeleton's heavy footfalls only audible to myself as I tread carefully amongst the debris covered floor. Toggling the comm I half joked, "Well this looks promising," to my squad. "Well at least it's enclosed," replied Ross, one of the squad's support weapon specialists. "What's the matter Ross, don't like the cold vacuum of space?" teased Melina, another support weapon specialist. "I think he's afraid of the dark now Melina," said Dave in what used to be a British accent, he was the squad's third and final support weapon specialist. Between the three of them they carried a semi-portable PPC and power pack for this mission, though why we thought we would need that kind of firepower I didn't know. "Oh F*ck off you two, for Blake's sake it's always the same with you guys," answered Ross in a somewhat jovial manner. "Alright, cut the chatter unless you have something useful to say," came the stern voice of Leftenant Isla over the comm before she toggled open the command channel as well, "Rook-1 to Castle, we're inside the vessel. She took some serious damage in here but so far it's intact. We're moving deeper into the ship, assuming these old maps we have of a Pentagon-class dropship are accurate we should be near an emergency power station. We'll see what kind of state it's in and report in then." "Orlex, you're on point. Take the next two lefts and then go right, let's see where we end up. Everyone, move out." As one the squad moved further into the wreck, we took the first left but that corridor ended abruptly at a dead end where it looked like the ceiling and floor had been pinched together. After two detours and three more collapsed or otherwise impassible corridors Leftenant Isla made the call to abandon getting to that emergency power station and instead had us make our way towards a nearby engineering station that was one deck down and a few corridors towards the ship's dorsal side. If the room was still intact and sealable the plan was to setup a temporary base there from which to explore the vessel from.
  26. 1 point
    Oberon Confederation, 3015 King Hendrik Grimm III floated in the near-weightless environment of the drop shuttle as it slowly and deliberately made a final approach toward the labyrinthine scaffold in geosynchronous orbit of Oberon IV's night side. I watched over the shoulder of my decadently-dressed host, squinting to make out what, exactly, it was that the regent wanted to show me - he'd been outlandishly evasive about the subject, while simultaneously barely able to contain his enthusiasm about whatever it was. "I must say, Your Majesty," I began attempting small talk, "'secret space stations were not on my shortlist of possible scenarios I anticipated encountering on this trip. What is all of this for?" Hendrik hesitated with anticipation, as though he were waiting for just the right moment to speak. At length, he gestured toward a large, ominous silhouette within the scaffold, which began to resolve into a cohesive form as we drew nearer. "That," the king announced dramatically, "is what." "Blake's blood..." I whispered as I beheld the scene. There, before us, growing larger as we approached, was the unmistakable form of a Samarkand Block I-class WarShip, its looming, battered hull showing the scars of multiple engagements and several centuries worth of neglect. Though in a significant state of disrepair, I knew from my history books that this type of vessel made for a formidable aerospace carrier, troop transport, orbit-to-surface fire support platform, and escort ship, and it was now in the hands of a bandit kingdom. "You like the art, right?" Hendrik chuckled, elbowing me in the ribs and cackling as he produced a can of tobacco chew. "Like what art, Your Highness?" I asked, barely masking the total confusion in my voice. "The nose art, William! I designed it myself," the king enthused, gesturing along the length of the vessel as it came into view. It was only then that I realized that the entire flank of the cruiser had been painted to resemble a giant phallus. "Oh god," I whispered. "Fuckin' the enemy, man! That's how we roll!" Hendrik exclaimed. "Can you please give me some context for what all of this is about?" I implored, as the regent engaged in a series of mocking pelvic thrusts. "Yeah, yeah, yeah," Hendrik acknowledged. "So we found this ship adrift near the Kuritan border during a raid last month. We were able to tow it back here and board it. The crew had been dead for eons. Apparently, their life support system failed, and their lives were soon to do the same thing. There's fighters in the bays, munitions on board, and likely much lost information locked within its computers that could make anyone rich." "And you'd like to salvage as much as you can from the ship, correct?" I inquired. "SALVAGE it?" Hendrik responded with disbelief. "NO - I want you to help us get this vessel back online so that we can begin to use it to assert and defend ourselves! This ship is a veritable Swiss Army knife of tactical options, and I intend to use it. Your expertise in these matters is why you are here." "All right," I responded, at length. "Let's start with a basic survey." And I hope to Blake that this work is done and behind me before you go and start terrorizing your neighbors... I thought to myself.
  27. 1 point
    D.C.S. Takashima Black Eclipse discovery site Great Banded Desert, Nirasaki February 7, 3029 ___________________________ As I hung frozen in the air, still in the clutches of the monster's grasp, my eyes widened at the situation I was now faced with. Holding me in his powerful grip was evidently Bishop Weyland, dressed head to toe in the most terrifying power armor rig I'd ever seen. Though we'd never met face to face before, I knew from intelligence that I'd lifted from the Half Moon's computer that he was a new hire to the Crayven Corporation, and that he'd been aboard the vessel when I'd betrayed its passengers and crew. The other individual, standing at Bishop's side and trying to talk him down or something, was Charles Maxwell, whose mercenary unit I had also betrayed on the battlefield just days prior. Not an enviable situation. I wasn't sure how to navigate it. Finally, I just decided to talk. "Bishop? Is that you? I didn't recognize you under all that gear." But the Sergeant did not seem impressed.
  28. 1 point
    Aboard Black OPs DMI DroST IVc-class Dropship Gorgon Enroute to GJ 3634c dwarf planet Pokhara System, Kurita space near Davion border February 8, 3029 ____________________________________ It had been 3 days since the Lithe Fox, a DMI Scout-class jumpship, had folded itself, and us along with it, back into normal space at the Nadir jump point of a long forgotten star system. At the time I wasn't even aware of what system we had even jumped into, or from for that matter, I wasn't exactly very high up on the need-to-know list on this vessel, not that I particularly cared. I did know that at one point in the past 2 months we had been on Errai where we collected some dubious information regarding a lost Star League ship that some, less than reputable, traders supposedly saw somewhere near the edge of Kuritan space. There were alot of those rumours going around lately, ever since the Helm Memory Core was discovered last year there had been a massive boom in both the interest in and the rumours about lost Star League tech. I'd heard everything from rumours of a fully intact Star League era warship patrolling the space around Terra to whisperings of a fully functional Star League manufacturing plant existing on Hall or Outreach, I'd even heard the outlandish claim that the Star League had created a fully automated AI controlled warship that was now lying derelict somewhere in Kurita space. A few years ago I wouldn't have paid any attention to the rumours of long lost Star League tech, it was a dream with no chance of becoming real I had thought, just a sinkhole for people with more money than brains or so desperate it didn't make a difference. But between my recent work with Interstellar Expeditions and the now public discovery of the Helm Memory Core I had to consider that it was indeed possible to come out ahead in the search for lost Star League tech. My new opinion aside, I wasn't exactly thrilled about my current situation however, yes we were on our way to possibly find and recover an artifact that could be considered the pinnacle of Star League technology, a Warship, I didn't actually choose to join this mission, nor did I have a choice. For all intents and purposes I was essentially a prisoner to the DMI, Davion Intelligence, in all but name. A prisoner granted access to cutting edge technology, one of a kind prototypes, and not a shackle or bar in sight, but a prisoner all the same. Back in November of 3028 the mercenary unit I was part of took part in a potential salvage operation for Interstellar Expeditions where we were tasked with recovering anything related to the Star League that we could find on the planet Myrvoll, instead of getting anything useful we found a bunch of old documents on rations and TO&E of long gone equipment in a long abandonned base. The one interesting thing we did find was a secret ComStar listening post, which lead directly to my current predicament. See, ComStar didn't take too kindly to us finding their secret base and so they decided to send their spooks after us to kill us, and they nearly succeeded. As a result we had to get help from the last place I wanted to, we needed someone with enough power to openly, and covertly, challenge ComStar if it came down to it and it just so happened that I had a brother working relatively high up within the Federated Suns' Department of Military Intelligence, and the fact that we had a bad falling out a few years back had to be put aside since our lives were literally on the line. After narrowly escaping our first of what would surely be many encounters with ComStar ROM agents, provided we lived that is, we quickly made our way to Aldebaran in the newly conquered Davion space in order to reach out to my estranged brother for help. Somewhat eerily and both surprisingly and unsurprisingly, Johnathan responded immediately and quickly met up with us and was quick to provide us with the protection we needed, for a price of course. I had to agree to work with him as "specialist" DMI agent, no questions asked and no choice in the matter, in addition to our mercenary unit BeoWulf's Knights being disbanded and absorbed as a "House unit" for 2 years. No one was happy about it, least of all Mikhala and Jess after all the work they had done to get the unit established and sustainable, but we didn't have much of a choice, it was either that or risk being killed by ComStar spooks at any time, in any place, in the end we all wanted to live. Gravity returned, as did the noise of the fusion engines firing, and put an end to my reminiscing as the comfortable pressure of 1G of acceleration settled me into my jump seat. The specialty DroST IVc dropship had just completed its transition from accelerating towards our destination to decelerating for the last half of the journey. Being strapped into the jump seat was by no means necessary for the transition as there was only a few moments of weightlessness as the ship spun around 180° and fired up its transit engines again to slow down safely at our target. I was well accustomed to working in zero-G environments but I was tired today and just couldn't be bothered so I strapped in instead. With the risk of floating off to the ceiling before crashing down to floor removed I got up and started making my way down towards one the ship's two large cargo bays, I was due for yet another round of training in my new equipment this afternoon and you did not want to be late on Leftenant Isla, or Sergeant Major Emma for that matter. The DMI agents I was working with were thorough with their training if nothing else. I reached the upper cargo bay in less than 5 mins, with what I thought was plenty of time, only to find both Leftenant Isla Cricton and Sergenat Major Emma Godaschke waiting pointendly near the entrance. Before I could even start raising my hand in greeting they checked their time pieces and then sighed in unison at me. "You're late again Guardian," stated Emma, using my rank to keep things formal and to demean me by reminding me that she not only outranked me but that I was an outsider too, "you were told 13:00 sharp this morning." "It's only 12:58, I still have two minutes," I said without thinking while checking my own watch. Fuck, I'm going to pay for that I thought. "Deal with him," sighed Leftenant Isla, not even bothering to acknowledge my presence before walking past me and deeper into the ship. "Yes Ma'am," replied Emma before turning to me, "You heard her. Suit up, you've got cargo to move and if you don't get it and your training done in time you'll be on latrine duty, again." This time I managed to bite my tongue and just nodded a curt, "Yes ma'am." I'd find out what redundant cargo moving they had for me this time once I was in the exoskeleton suit. Speaking of, that was the one thing about this mission that actually had my interest, in a somewhat bizarre and very unusual twist of fate this particular DMI unit was assigned as testers for a new prototype combat exoskeleton suit that I was somehow "uniquely qualified" for, doubly strange was that not a single member of the actual DMI unit wanted anything to do with the suit but they were perfectly happy with strapping me in it anytime. I know I was officially introduced and listed as being a "specialist" with the sole purpose of performing combat and other tests on the exoskeleton suit's capabilities, both on and off the battlefield, but it still struck me as odd with how comfortable they seemed about an outsider getting essentially unfettered access to prototype gear the NAIS boys dreamed up. They definitely took it upon themselves to remind me how much I was an outsider every opportunity they could. The suit itself almost completely made up for all the slights and mistreatment though, and if it meant getting to pilot it some more I could put up with the disdain and outright dislike. The exoskeleton itself was built around a fairly standard frame, it was a typical industrial based framework designed from the start for hostile environments, and therefore offering better innate coverage than a regular exoskeleton, but it was built with military grade materials and with military grade precision. The integral extended life support system fully encapsulates the exoskeleton in a pressurized shell that allows 24 hour operation in any environment, and then 125kg of heavily modified BattleMech grade armour is fitted over top everything else. The suit looks bulky as can be, and it's no surprise that the Covert Ops guys want nothing to do with this very clearly NOT covert suit. The shoulders are overly large and pronounced and house a spotlight and a large Support PPC power pack encased in the left and right shoulder armour respectively. The power pack is modified to properly fit and allows either connection to the suit itself or a support weapon with the main external power cable or else three standard devices could be powered from the retractable standard power cables stored in the side of the power pack, the other 3 standard cables normally used are inaccessible due to the shoulder pauldron design and the mounting location. The spotlight appears integrated directly into the armour itself and allows for only small adjustments to either side, roughly 90° total centered on directly ahead. The left arm has large cutting torch on an articulated mount attached to the forearm while the right arm houses a universal Anit-Personnel/Squad Support weapon mount allowing the suit's main weaponry to be changed out between missions. The legs of the exoskeleton are also fully armoured and contain magnetic soles in the boots to ensure stability if used on the exterior of a ship or in other zero-G or low-G environments. On the back of the suit, above the cylinderical housing which contains the extended life support system, sits an armoured compartment reminiscent of a backpack used for mission specific equipment that can be stored internally or externally on universal mounting points. The entire suit had the look and feel of a military prototype, there were no soft curves, no smooth surfaces that weren't needed, everything was sharp angles and hard edges and it was beautiful in its simplicity. A few minutes later I was fully enclosed within the armoured exoskeleton, which I could now do without help after having trained daily with the suit over the past couple months, and ran through what was now a routine startup procedure involving voice authentication and testing limb movement before fully releasing the safeties and gaining full control. Once in complete control I spent the next 2 hours using the 400kg exoskeleton to needlessly move cargo from one side of the bay to the other in "punishment" for my earlier "outburst", after that I moved on to my regular training routine running through maneuvers and practice drills testing the limits of the machine under the artificial gravity afforded by our deceleration. The exoskeleton was surprisingly agile for being a prototype, even with its military origins, and offered virtually full range of motion for the user, greatly improved over the industrial counterpart it was modelled on. Several hours later I had managed to run through my mandatory training regime, and by working through any breaks I might have normally taken I managed to get finished in time to avoid latrine duty this time. Two days later I was finally briefed on what our current mission was, at least as far as my role in it. The intel we had gathered up to this point indicated that there was a high possibility of a derelict Star League era warship, believed to be a Pinto-class corvette, floating forgotten in a system that was apparently rediscovered only recently by smugglers and traders using old jump points just before the 4th Succession War started. The system was just within the edges of Kuritan space and apparently the DMI had decided it was worth checking out just in case there was some truth to the rumours, and they couldn't allow that kind of technology to fall into the Draconis Combine's hands. The system, I was told, is the Pokhara system and it was abandonned sometime between the 2nd and 3rd Succession Wars and subsequently fell off the map, it contains 4 major planetary bodies and we were currently enroute to what appeared to be the outermost planet system which actually consisted of a dwarf planet tidally locked to a large moon with a second small moon orbiting around the larger pair. Initial scans showed nothing of promise but we had reason to believe that the wreckage could be hidden within this planetary body or the nearby asteroids, combined with some unusual anomolies in the scans gave some hope to the mission not being a complete bust. Our job would be to find any sizeable wreckage or derelict and assess its salvage potential, if there was any chance of retrieval we were to secure the derelict and commence salvage operations while a full salvage team waited in a nearby system if needed. Why a full DMI special forces squad was required for this particular job was never explained to me, though I assumed it had to do with being in Kuritan space and the potential to run into pirates or even Kuritan forces that likely had also heard to same rumours.
  29. 1 point
    MEANWHILE... I had been wandering around RIGIL KENTARUS for Hours, looking for the Book. I had looked everywhere, in stores and in Dumpsters, I even went to a book shop and some person's home where they had got freaked out that I had came in and attacked me, but even still I could not find The Book. I went up to the top of a huge tower and started screaming into the night while tears were on my face and sobs were in my voice. "WHY CAN'T I FIND THE BOOK, WHAT DID I DO WRONG, I HAVE TO SAVE THE PEOPLE!" A huge bolt of lightning came down and I fell onto my knees crying. Hot Tears ran down my face, I was so sad at everything. Then... "S S S Steven..." I ignored the sound, it was probably the wind. "STEVEN." I wiped boogers off my face and looked around, there was nothing there. "STEVEN!!!“ The building started to shake and crumble, the voice was so loud. I looked up into the sky and it was Master Honda looking down at me, floating in the sky with the rain flowing Around him and wearing a kesho-mawashi made of fire. 'Master HONDA?? " I Gasped." I thought Sensei Ronald was my spirit animal!" "He had TIME OFF, I AM NOW YOUR GUIDE. YOU ARE TO GO BACK.' 'Go back....? But I have to find the Book! I have to save my people!" "GO BACK." "But..." "GO BACK! YOUR FRIENDS NEED YOU!" Before I could Answer, a huge lightning bolt happened and the sky lit up, Master Honda came screaming at me with the Thousand Hand Slap, and I was spinning and flying and screaming through the Void..... I landed hard, with a mouth full of sand. I sat up and spit the sand everywhere. It was hot, bright. I looked into the world. I was on NIRASAKI, on the Wreck. Nate Schmidt was standing in front of me with blood all over the Place. I screamed and gagged in surpoy. Then I stood up. "HI Nate!!" I said. "I Heard you needed a hero."
  30. 1 point
    Meanwhile... As the paraglider swooped lower and lower to the ground, I saw the hull of the Takashima coming up on me fast. I clung pensively to my flight controls as I waited to be as low and slow as possible for the unceremonious drop onto the deck that I knew I was going to have to perform. Shortly, the time arrived, and with a deep breath, I yanked hard on the release cord. In an instant, the parachute cut away, fluttering off into the desert somewhere, while I dropped about a meter and a half onto the ancient, blasted derelict. I quickly tried to tuck and roll, but the speed of the impact meant I still stumbled and ended up falling, hitting my face on a piece of metallic debris. "Damn it!" I exclaimed. Then, wiping the blood off my face, I got up, and radioed in to Aegis Division... "Rebus to Sabre team - request permission link up with you. I'm here to help."
  31. 1 point
    Somewhere over the Great Banded Desert Nirasaki, Draconis Combine February 7, 3029 ___________________________ With a huge, bone-jarring, gut-wrenching impact, the drop pod exploded out of the cargo bay, toppling end over end as it was carried into the vacuum of space on a column of atmosphere. I fought to remain conscious as the straps holding me in place dug into my torso, the G-forces and the tightness of my restraints choking the air out of me. Alarm klaxons shrieked, the pod rattling and jolting, threatening to tear itself apart at the seams. "Hayes to Rebus! I'm not gonna have you on the VHF long, so answer me quickly - did you survive that?" my radio crackled. "Yeah, I did, whether or not that's a good thing remains to be seen!" I shouted, trying to be heard over the calamity inside the pod. "I'm activating the stabilizers now!" As the last of the atmosphere outside the ship rumbled away, I slapped the control button to activate the pod's automatic braking and retro engines. Another bone-jarring lurch transpired as the pod blasted its engines to stop the spinning and bring itself on course. I felt the cocoon slow down and stabilize as it settled into a rapid but controlled descent. "Reentry trajectory achieved, Major. See you on the other side."
  32. 1 point
    C.S.V. Republic Low orbit Nirasaki, Draconis Combine February 7, 3029 ___________________________ Music for this post: snidelyWhiplash (YouTube) "I'm ready." I replied. "Let's go!" "Alright, now, when we take all of the drives out, the ship is going to shut down. Totally. I'm talking life support, thrusters, defenses, lights, everything. We won't lose atmo, because the life support's designed to stay in whatever state it was in during a catastrophic systems failure, but it won't be making any new atmosphere, so we have to work quick. Also, let's loop back to the thing I said about thrusters. Our orbit will eventually start to degrade. So we have to do this expeditiously." Major Hayes warned. "Got it." said Alyssa. "I understand." I confirmed. "Okay, I've got my bank of drives and I'll be hitting the backup machine. Alyssa, you have yours. And Nathan, you have yours.I just texted the bridge and let them know what's about to happen. On three, I'm gonna kill power to this entire room, and we swap. Get your flashlights ready." Major Hayes commanded. I pulled my headband-mounted flashlight on, and clicked the little lamp to full brightness. Alyssa did the same, looking at me with uncertain eyes. "Ready...three...two...one!" Major Hayes barked, and with that, he dropped the giant breaker switch along the middle of the room. Everything went dark, and quiet, immediately, with the sounds of dozens of machines abruptly powering off. Across the entire ship I could hear systems also winding down. The room started getting warm right away. Only the small pools of light from our flashlights remained. "Go time!" shouted Major Hayes, and I heard a flurry of mechanical activity behind me as the Major started ripping drives out of the backup mainframe. I dove into the guts of my side of the primary computer and started pulling drives as fast as I could. From time to time, I glanced at Alyssa, ensuring I was keeping pace with her, and sometimes, her eyes would catch mine, rampant suspicion and worry obvious every time. "Don't worry." I finally said, quietly. "I'm on your side this time." "Just remember that." Alyssa warned. In short order I had all 12 drives pulled and lined up inside a plastic box, which I threw the lid on and pushed across the zero gravity to Major Hayes. Then, I started grabbing drives out of the imaging bay, razor focused on making sure that the right clones went into the right slots on the server. As I clicked each in, I called off the drive numbers to Alyssa to make sure I was mirroring in time with her. In about five minutes, we were ready, turning toward Major Hayes to give him the thumbs-up. "Okay, Major, Nathan and I are clear." Alyssa announced. "Me too." said Hayes. "Alright. Here we go. Fingers crossed." The Major floated over to the main breaker, pausing for a moment to look at it, then back at the computers, worriedly. Then, he threw the switch. At first, nothing happened, but then, as current flowed into the room, all of the systems started booting up, lights flaring alive again, and the sound of servers powering on filled the air. "This is looking good." Hayes commented. He floated over to the main computer and started checking system status. "Helm, operations, weapons, sensors, internal systems...it looks like we have control so far. Except...comms. Weird. Comms aren't back." "May I?" I asked, pointing at the terminal to the right of the Major. Alyssa glared. "You can watch, if you want." I said. Hayes nodded to me and Alyssa. I quickly pulled the terminal up and logged in. "This is weird. The dish is in use." I said. "It's...transmitting to some place on the wreck. And receiving from it. This doesn't make any sense." "Is it a member of the team?" the Major asked. "No." I said, slowly. "It's a...data stream." Before any of us could process what I'd just said, the computer terminal, and all of the terminals in the room, started to glitch out and cascade back into the state they were in before we'd wiped the malware. I quickly ran a series of commands on the comm dish. "Major, there's a bootstrapped program in the firmware of the dish, and it's calling home to something on the surface! Whatever that is, it's streaming the malware back aboard!" "That means it's in the boot sequence for the comm dish, which means that no matter how many times we re-flash the drives, it's going to come back online and start doing the same thing, undoing our work in the process. And we can't pull the comm dish to re-flash the firmware separately while outside of a shipyard. Goddamn it. Alright, I'm open to suggestions, you two." Major Hayes looked concerned.
  33. 1 point
    Elsewhere... D.C.S. Takashima Black Eclipse discovery site Great Banded Desert, Nirasaki February 7, 3029 ___________________________ The man with the bomb collar seemed completely unfazed by the series of events that had just transpired. Casually, he made his way toward Bishop, scrutinizing the soldier's Nighthawk power armor. "I'm impressed that you've refitted this the way you have, it's quite a bit different from the ones at NAIS," he remarked, studying the configuration. Bishop's eyes narrowed, following the motions of the man. "You're trained to use it, obviously," the stranger continued, gesturing at the mutilated remains of one of the salvagers. "Yes," Sergeant Miles replied, at length. "Irian has some of these suits, and we use them now and then for operations with the Skinwalkers." The young man nodded. "As it would so happen, I am certain that there are more suits of that type deeper in this ship. The people who have set up camp here don't seem to understand that there's more going on here than meets the eye. I can tell from the looks on your faces that you've seen some of it already." "Who are you, and what are you doing here?" Captain McKenzie interjected. The man bowed slightly. "My apologies. My name is Tikashi Hideo, I was captured and held in the room across the hallway, next to the drive controls. I was here to salvage, and I tricked the others into thinking I worked for the Combine." I balked at the man's reply. We'd been in the drive control room just days prior, creating a distinct possibility that we'd nearly crossed paths and didn't even know it. "Pleasure to meet you," I nodded. "And - forgive me, but it looks like you're still being held. Is that thing active?" I pointed at the bomb collar for emphasis. As I did so, it started to beep.
  34. 1 point
    Elsewhere... C.S.V. Republic Low orbit Nirasaki, Draconis Combine February 7, 3029 ___________________________ Major Hayes, Nathan Schmidt, and I worked feverishly to image new operating drives for both the Republic's primary and backup core systems, having discovered that not only had both systems been infected by the malware, but also, the failover drives that they contained had been compromised as well. Fortunately, the Crayven Corporation seemed to be an especially paranod bunch, and kept air-grapped recovery media in a locked cabinet in the computer bay for just such a contingency. Time was preciously short, as we knew that there was a chance that, eventually, the virus would either try something new, or freak out and cause a maneuvering accident that would send us spiraling to our deaths on the planet's surface below. Meanwhile, we were still out of communication with the other vessels in our flotilla, and as I understood it, we couldn't reach our teams in the field, either, thanks to the unavailability of our comms system. I wasn't sure why the Major had seen fit to trust Schmidt with access to the ship's key systems, even with his degree of computer finesse, or why he thought that it was safe for the Lyran to be out of his holding cell in the first place. I could only trust that he knew what he was doing, and it appeared that Hayes had the prisoner on a short leash, at least. In the mean time, it'd be my responsibility to bury my resentment, mistrust, and hostility toward Schmidt and get the job done. "Alright, Nathan, when the drives are done imaging, we're going to have to pull all of the primary OS disks and all of the secondaries at the same time so that there's no remaining locations that the virus can continue to exploit for command and control access," I instructed. "Got it," Nathan replied. "Nathan, can you handle swapping the backup system's drives while Alyssa and I cut the primary system over?" Major Hayes asked. "Of course, I - " Nathan began. "Major," I interrupted. "With all due respect - I think either you or I should handle the backup system. One of us needs to keep an eye on him." I glanced toward Schmidt, who scowled in my direction, but said nothing. Major Hayes paused for a moment before responding. "You're right. I'll take the backups," the Major eventually replied. "Understood," I answered. "Mister Schmidt, where are you in your imaging process? Almost ready?"
  35. 1 point
    A few minutes later...... Major Hayes, Alyssa, and I stared at the computer core aboard the Republic. The server room was so quiet that you could practically hear a pin drop. "Uh, this doesn't look anything like the computer room aboard the Half Moon." I finally said. "And how would you know what the computer room aboard the Half Moon looks like?" Alyssa asked pointedly. I looked toward Major Hayes. "Took the words right out of my mouth." the Major said. "Never mind, forget I said anything." I sighed. "Anyway, the point is, this is a seriously different configuration. Much, uh, simpler, but with weirdness." "We reconfigured it on Sheratan to beef it up and make it capable of handling command and control situations in a major battlefield environment, as well as being able to grind through heavy-duty encryption, algorithmic analysis, and compilation, all while networked to an intelligence vessel and a supporting DropShip." Hayes replied. "You need a lot of extra firepower to be able to do that." "I don't disagree, but it's all spaghetti'd together and cross-patched and stuff. I don't know who did this job, but it's a rat's nest of - " "I'm sorry my work isn't up to your standards, Mister Schmidt, but I can assure you, it's been getting the job done." Major Hayes grumbled. "Until now." I fired back. I instantly regretted the comment. Major Hayes was being really patient with me, and I was pushing it. So I quickly course corrected. "That's all beside the point though. Where are the O/S drives on this thing?" "They're over here." said the Major, pushing off the bulkhead and floating slowly across the zero-gravity environment. I followed, with Alyssa behind me. I was feeling kind of paranoid about where Alyssa stood on everything. She was yet another person that had been on the Half Moon when I'd knocked it offline. And it seemed like she didn't have a lot to say to me. Not that I blamed her. Major Hayes turned a key in the server rack and pulled away the faceplate of the server blade, revealing all of its drives alight with twinkling lights. There were probably a dozen or more. "That's a lot of redundancy." I eventually said. "Think you can handle it?" Hayes asked. "Whether or not he can handle it, I've got it covered, Major." Alyssa interrupted. I looked toward her. "We can get this done together." I said. "Come on, let's get to work."
  36. 1 point
    Simultaneously... C.S.V. Republic Combat Information Center ___________________________ The trace tracker on my terminal beeped rapidly as the virus closed in on me. I frantically threw every command I could think of at the system to try to slow it down, throw it off my trail, sabotage its activities, and buy time while I attempted to hack into the ship's safeties and activate them. I couldn't believe the situation we were in. Normally, you hacked this kind of thing to turn it off and cause trouble. But in a crazy twist, we had the opposite need. If I couldn't get the ship secured, we'd all be in trouble. And dead. "Where are we, Schmidt?" Major Hayes asked, extreme worry in his voice. "I'm almost there, but the virus - it's insane. It keeps killing my processes. It's not just the virus purging nonessential processes, it's literally targeting MY processes and turning them off. And when it's not doing that, of course, it's trying to fork bomb my laptop. I keep tracekilling the attempts, but I don't know how long that's gonna keep being effective." "In English. How long?" Hayes pressed. "I...dont know! This thing, Major, it's...alive!" I wiped my sweat-covered hands on my pant legs and ran my fingers through my hair in stress. "How much time do we have?" "Two minutes." Hayes replied in a deadly serious tone. "We’re already in the communications blackout ascent stage. We couldn't even call for help if we wanted to." "Call for help...call for help...CALL FOR HELP! Major! That's it! What would you do if you were a computer and your house started to flood? You'd shut the doors, right?" "I guess if I was a smart computer, and I had arms and legs, sure, I might. What are you getting at?" said Hayes. "Exactly! The computer seems to be trying self-preservation. I'm gonna make it think it's being threatened." I said. "It's not guarding things that would obviously be of no use to breaching its program. Acting quickly, I accessed all of the environmental sensors on every deck that was currently exposed to the vacuum, and overwhelmed them with false packets of data that indicated a massive flood coming in. Then, I waited. "Well?" said Hayes. "Nothing's happening." I whispered. "Time?" "Thirty seconds." said the Major. We waited pensively. "Ten...nine...eight...seven...six...five...four...three..." Just as I prepared myself for the searing pain of explosive decompression and the agonizing slow death of asphyxiation, a series of heavy bangs began reverberating through the ship, accompanied by the hiss of atmospheric pressurizing. "Oh my god." I exhaled. "I can't believe that worked."
  37. 1 point
    MEANWHILE... All was darkness until. "Find it!" a woman's voice erupted. "I said...Find it!" A low mumble was heard, then footsteps. More footsteps were heard. "Hello my dear." I was dumbfounded...a woman stepped out of the darkness. "I want you to find me..." A book was held in her hands. I could barley see the cover, before... "Steve! Steve! Wake up!" "He's not going to Dr Shruiken, he's a heavy sleeper, let's just let him rest." I barley opened my eyes before a slap to the face woke me all the way up. "How many lights do you see?" asked the medi bot. I sat up out of the bed to see the robot shining a bunch of lights at me. "I see three." I stated. "But forget that. When I had went unconscious I saw this lady, and she wants me to find the Book of the Dead , so I can defend my friends and the important things to me, how do I begin?" I told the medic robot. It hovered and blinked and bleeped for many periods of time before answering me. "404. Question Not Found." It answered. "Why am I talking to a machine??!?" I screamed, and got off the probing table. I went over to the med door and tried to leave, but the door was locked from the outside. After I banged on it for a long time and nobody came, I saw an intercom button next to it. I pressed the button and it made a noise like a buzzing sound. "Hello? Hello?" I said into it. "I'm all better now, can you let me out, I have something important to say."
  38. 1 point
    Meanwhile... D.C.S. Takashima Black Eclipse discovery site Great Banded Desert, Nirasaki February 7, 3029 ___________________________ I scrambled up the telescoping ladder, emerging into the middle of a brawl unfolding between another pirate type and a scruffy, bedraggled-looking man who had some kind of heavy metal collar clamped tightly around his neck. In an odd twist, he was very successfully fending off his attacker with what looked like a high-end style of martial arts I'd never seen before. Simultaneously, another pair of salvagers barreled straight at us, weapons drawn, obviously ready for a fight. "Watch him!" I yelled to Private Ayani, pointing at the pirate who'd been stunned by Corporal Clemmons' laser blast. "Aye, sir," Ayani replied, leveling her machine gun on the fallen combatant. "Maxwell to Control!" I exclaimed, falling to one knee and raisingmy MP-20 at the incoming salvagers. My headset hissed static in reply. "Maxwell to Control!" I tried again, but received no response. "Goddamnit, why don't they answer?" "McKenzie to Control!" Dutch called out, being met with the same results. "I don't know, maybe we're too deep into the wreck or something," he commented. A hail of gunfire tore past our heads, and I dove for cover, returning fire at our attackers. "Everyone - watch your aims! That guy that the pirate's fighting - I think he's got a bomb collar on!" Abruptly, a loud metallic clanking began resounding down the hall, increasing in intensity as it drew closer and to our group. "What the hell is that?" Dutch wondered aloud, his voice tinged with concern. Before I could reply, the visual distortion that I'd seen before - an almost translucent 'shadow,' as it were - surged into existence, moving with blinding speed toward the pirate that was in the process of assaulting the man with the bomb collar. In a single, fluid motion, the pirate was lifted from the deck, hoisted nearly two meters into the air, screaming. The other two pirates who'd been attacking us froze, petrified, as the head of the salvager being held aloft abruptly and unceremoniously exploded in a horrific wash of gore and entrails. "Fucking shit!" Corporal Clemmons blurted. Wordlessly, the surviving pirates fled, their footsteps rapidly fading into the distance. The distortion stood still for a moment, before releasing the decapitated corpse onto the deck. I found myself torn between leveling my rifle on the distortion and attempting instead to communicate with it, unsure of its intentions. Suddenly, a hand reached out and gently pushed my weapon's barrel down. It was Sergeant Miles. "Wait," the Sergeant murmured, holstering his own weapon and producing some kind of necklace from his vest pocket. Slowly, the Skinwalker began making his way toward the distortion. "Miles, what are you doing?" I asked. The Sergeant simply held up a hand in reply. As he drew toward the anomaly, it unexpectedly resolved into a solid form - that of a Nighthawk battle armor. "Angel to Eden," my headset crackled. It was Captain Donovan. "Go ahead," I responded. "Two things, Captain - there's been an incident aboard the Republic. We're taking over as OPCOM for now," Donovan began. "Okay, that's a sudden turn of events. What's the second thing?" I asked. "The second order of business is that we have nothing on file that matches those claw marks," the Captain replied. "Don't worry about it," I answered. "I think we just found the source."
  39. 1 point
    After I had got done screaming on account of the REPUBLIC going crazy and flying into outer space with a computer virus, I put my Focus on the Wiji board that had burnt itself into the desk. While the ship was still flying all crazy, I shoved the computer off the desk to make more room for Communication. It made a huge CRASH and busted computer parts everywhere. Then everyone stared at me. "The G Forces did it!" I lied. Then I took out a pack of Cigarettes that someone had left at the station and used it as a Wiji marker. Then I put it on the START marker. I didn't know what I was supposed to say to the board so I asked the wija where I needed to start looking for the Book of the Dead. First it did nothing. Then it started spelling. R I G I L K E N T A R U S OH MY GOD, I thought, the Book is in Rigil Kentarus??!? But that's right next to ComStar's home base!! How will I get it?? I suddenly felt really sick to my stomach on account of the crazy ship flying. I was so sick that I was seeing not double but triple. I couldn't believe I was so wrecked and still conscience. Maybe it was thinking about all the people who I had to save with the Book of the Dead that made me wound up, and that anxious inside me was keeping me awake, but one thing was for sure.........I had to tell Major Hayes what I found!! Then I realized I wasn't dizzy anymore. I felt pretty good. I felt so good in fact that I went to jump up and then realized my balance was completely gone. I fell off the chair and slammed my gooch on the rail where your feet go under the desk. Screaming in pain I crawled across the war room floor, barfing onto it and then dragging myself through it because I couldn't walk. By the time I actually got to the stairs that took you down onto the main floor, I had left a racing stripe of continuous puke all the way from my seat to the middle of the war room. Then...I...blacked...out... FLASHBACK At the casino, I was drunk and trying to leave. I crawled into the revolving door just as someone got into it on the other side, and the next thing I knew I got slammed in the ass by the door revolving and got knocked out onto the sidewalk. I laid in the street for a couple of minutes just looking up at the beautiful Los Angeles sky. I vommed all over myself and then felt good. So I stumbled down the street to a phone booth where I peed for a minute, and then stumbled a few more blocks. I tripped over a burning trash can and burned the hell out of one of my hands, then kept going. I...don't...remember...much else... END FLASHBACK
  40. 1 point
    "I have to! If I don't, we all die!" I nodded to the Major. "Alright, I need you to unlock this thing." I said, extending the noteputer toward Hayes while holding onto the console for dear life. The deck was now sloping at almost a 45-degree angle, evidence that we weren't lifting off at all the way we were supposed to be. "I have to have full system access if you want this solved in 4 minutes. Hayes cast me a momentary suspicious glance, before apparently thinking better of it. He took the unit, keyed in a bunch of codes, and handed it back to me. I clawed my way back to the workstation and plugged the noteputer into it so that it could have more processing power and resources access. Using the same techniques I'd used to crack into the Half Moon, I sliced my way into the Republic's computer. "Hey, Major, you'd better let your crew know we're working on this down here, and not to interfere." I recommended, realizing that we didn't have time to play 'hack' and 'counterhack' in this moment. "Good idea." said Major Hayes, making a transmission on his headset. Meanwhile, I proceeded to drill into the computer. As I got into the system, my eyes widened. The computer had indeed been taken over by an adaptive virus, but it was nothing like anything I'd seen before. Unlike the Locura, which was designed purely to invade a computer system through whatever means necessary and then destroy it, this thing had loaded into memory, circumvented whatever IP block Major Hayes' team had on the noteputer, and then hopped onto the network without needing to break anything. Then, it had apparently done a discovery to see what was in the system and found all of the command and control programs it needed to launch the ship. It had multiple processes running everywhere and it was directly controlling the Republic's systems by sitting inside the computer core, as well as the auxiliary core, as a root administrator and feeding it commands. I simply had no way to kill its processes without taking the entire computer offline. It was bound to the ship's brain. And it wasn't a random hijack, and near as I could tell, no one was controlling it from elsewhere. It was intelligent, self-actualizing, and moved with purpose. "Major Hayes!" I shouted. "Come see this!" Hayes fought his way against gravity and inertia to join me. "This thing is remarkable! Whatever it is, it's making decisions about where it needs to go and what it needs to do, and it looked around the ship and figured out the best way to do it. It's basically being the computer. I can't kill its processes, I can't delete its files, and I can't remove it without the core being taken completely offline and the hard drives being mounted to a non-infected unit. This thing took stock of our system and figured out the best way to latch onto it!" "What if we take the flight controls on the bridge offline?" Major Hayes asked. "No!" I shook my head. "Even if we smashed all the controls in this ship, it wouldn't matter, because the computer is flying from the core and isn't using them!" "Alright, so we determined that you can't stop our flight, at least for now." "Correct, we shouldn't try anything drastic during ascent!" I said. "But I do have an idea!" "I thought you might." said Hayes. "I think I can at least get the ship buttoned up! Even though the virus locked out all of the controls via the normal route, it left systems available for it to use directly. And if I act like a process instead of a user input, I might be able to get the doors closed and the ship pressurized!" "Sounds good, do what you need to do!" Hayes ordered. Suddenly, the trace tracker on my computer started beeping. "No way...!" I exclaimed "What is it?" asked Hayes. "Are all of your people out of the system? Is anyone trying to countermand me right now?" "No!" said the Major. "They know you're trying to recover this situation!" "Alright, well, in that case, the virus is tracing me and trying to figure out what I'm doing! We may have less time than I thought!" I exclaimed.
  41. 1 point
    Meanwhile... D.C.S. Takashima Black Eclipse discovery site Great Banded Desert, Nirasaki February 7, 3029 ___________________________ The Beast awoke from its short rest, sleep was something of an enigma it. In reality it never slept, it couldn’t sleep. While not hunting it would crawl into a deep dark place and hibernate for a few short hours. While one half of its brain rested the half remained on alert, tracking sounds and movements within the steel jungle. Deep within its mind the monster struggled with who or what it was. These constant questions continually driving it towards the abyss of madness. The need to hunt and kill was the single driving force that propelled it forward. The creature had been reborn a new, now its massive frame was protected by an now ancient chitin powered armor, an armor that contained and old demonic spirt that hungered for blood and death. With the beast’s mind weakened by pain and injury the machine spirt seeped into it mind. Urging it to hunt and kill, whispering promises of glorious kills and excitement. The monster did know were it’s mind and body began or the its new avatar body ended. They had symbiotic relationship that built upon the hunt and kill of its prey. The machine kept the monster alive, it provided the beast sustenance and nutrients, combat stimulates, weapon’s and protection. The beast provided the spirt a soul and vessel of death. The beast’s argument hearing picked up sounds of prey moving near by, sonar like sensors began tracking the prey’s movement. Like a bat tracking an insect the monster began moving towards its prey. Like a ghost moving in the darkness the monster began skulking through an air shaft towards it prey. Just out the air shaft the creature leaned it machine like head out to observe. Several yards down the elevator shaft the creatures saw it prey, in a beautiful collage of colors, blues, oranges reds and yellows. Even in complete darkness the creature could see perfectly in its thermal eye sight. With a flick of its eyes the monster zoomed in on two human standing on the dark... the heat from their weapon mounted light illuminated the area and all around them. One the prey, was squatting down peering in the direction of the Beast. The creature watched motionless, with it active camouflage operating the beast knew the prey couldn’t see him. He would appear as a shadow or a distortion... like a heat waves coming off a metal surface. Something about the prey pulled at the dark recesses of the creatures mind.... a memory.... it knew the prey but couldn’t remember why. Clicking its metal claws lightly together the beast silently observed. The machine like suit urging it to slaughter the prey...but the memory.... and a long ago forgotten feeling kept the creature at bay. The feeling of.... friendship... yes... that’s what the Creature remember it was kept the prey alive... for now.
  42. 0 points
    MEANWHILE.... Inside my meditation I took a Deep breath of Peyote. Right away it started making the whole room go sideways and blurry. I started to feel dizzy like I was going to fall out, the peyote was so strong that the hallucinations started coming right away. I coughed a bunch and every time I coughed I saw the word COUGH go Floating through the air in a pink smoke cloud, then I looked at Sensei Ronald and he was laughing rows and rows of Shaolin Monks out of his mouth, they chanted as they came walking at me. I started screaming because I was scared, I had never seen lines of monks come out of somebody's mouth before and now they were all coming at me like they were going to convert my brain or something!! "STEVEN JENKINS" all of them said in thousands of voices, "YOU MUST FIND THE BOOK, WE WILL SHOW YOU THE WAY" they said as they all came at me like a crazy mob. "WE WILL SHOW YOU THE WAY TO THE CITY OF SORROW" "But I don't want to go to the city of sorrow!" I Yelled. "I have to find the book!" "WE KNOW" they said. "WE WILL TAKE YOU" Then the monks went swoorming all over me, I was trying to stay standing but I couldn't, there were too many and.....couldn't see........fading fast........ When I woke up I was laying on my Face in a building. I got up and walked around, it looked like a Really small Temple. I walked out of the door in the temple and there was a room that was a Laundro Mat, the washers and dryers were washing and drying. A lady with Big Hair stared at me but I did not care, I kept walking. Then I was in the street, in a City I did not know. I screamed "WHERE AM I??" "YOU ARE ON RIGIL KENTARUS NOW STEVE. Find THE BOOK" All the voices said. But where do I start???
  43. 0 points
    PART DEUX All was darkness until.... "FIND IT!" A loud voice, whispers, and then Sensei Ronald floated out of the darkness with his glowing hair flowing behind him and he was slitting cross legged and floating in the air like a yoga guru. "FIND THE BOOK!" HOW? I begged, it was too confusing. "WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO? HOW CAN I GET AT IT FROM HERE? IT'S LIKE HALFWAY ACROSS THE GALAXY!!" Sensei Ronald pointed at a spot. "PICK UP THOSE BARBELLS." He commanded with a loud voice. I looked, and there were barbells, but they had not been there before. I picked them up and started pumping iron, but I didn't know how I was supposed to use them to get to the Book of the Dead. The more I pumped the more I just got tired. Eventually one of my arms felt like it was gonna rip out of the socket. So I stopped, and yelled at Sensei Ronald some more, eventually fire was blasting out of his face and splattering everywhere and lighting other stuff on fire "NOW Your goal is at where The Book is." said Sensei Ronald. "Use your techniques to project there." As he made words lava came out of his mouth and he grew 12 arms. "But how??? How do I do that? I'm in a spaceship a billion miles away!!" I said. A bowl of peyote appeared. "SMOKE." "OK, I'll try...."
  44. 0 points
    Aboard the REPUBLIC Sick Bay --------------------- I woke up with a huge headache. I rolled over and puked violently into a barf bowl. Then I sat up. I was laying in sick bay. There were doctors going everywhere, nurses and doctors. I looked over and a guy I had met during the battles, Kylo Biggs was there too, eating a burrito. "Do you want some Steve Jenkins?" he asked me. "Sure I'm famished." Fighting in the war had really taken it out of me. Kylo brought me a burrito and I bit into it. Anchovies and beans fell out of the end of it as I gagged on the bad taste. "BAH THIS IS TERRIBLE!!" I screamed as I whipped the burrito through the air and watched it blow up on a wall. I cracked open a beer and chugged it. The problem with the Republic computers had been long and intense, but me and my client Nate had survived it. We were heroes. I drank the beer down to the bottom, crushed it, and threw it at a wall. Kylo had gone back to sleep, and I was going stir crazy, I needed to find the Book of the Dead to resurrect everyone lost in the wars, I had to do something, but sitting in a medbay on some broke down DropShip I was helpless. I decided to do waking meditation and mixed martial arts the way my father taught me to clear my head and center myself so that I could find an answer. I sat in a Lotus position on the MedCouch and closed my eyes and started a long zen humming, that got louder and more deeper, as my medication got more intense. Then as I meditated I smashed a board with my forehead and did 3 backwards flip kicks and 6 monkey punches, soon I was completely meditated, and I had a vision in front of me....
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