The Maiden And The Guardian

[12:53] <FrontierGM> ["Still nothing, Captain." Said Gregory, poring over her console. "It's strange; we're not getting any readings from the planet that are worthwhile."-
[12:53] <FrontierGM> ["According to the system government, there was supposed to be an archaeology expedition on this planet." Said Franco, leaning toward Kayoko. "No sign of it at all."-
[12:55] <FrontierGM> ["This planet is… Unsettling." Murmured Idris to himself.]
[13:00] * Kess was waiting in Forgemaster, but her holoface (masked, of course. She had done quite enough exhibitionist stunts for now) turned to Idris, a frown appearing in its contours. "…Unsettling how? I have learned that bad feelings of this sort are very important to listen to."
[13:03] <Kayoko> "Spectrometry isn't getting us anything at all?" Kayoko asked. She was back in the captain's chair again, the hologram system projecting an avalanche of readouts and data all around her. "We should be able to pick up residuals from positron generators and transmatter tech if anyone's been her in the last few days…"
[13:05] * Liane was inside her Jupiter, and had her own take on the situation. "Either the archaeology expedition never showed up in the first place, or they did show up and their communications all stopped working at once. And if it's the former, you'd think we'd be able to contact them."
[13:06] <Kayoko> "Mm."
[13:06] <FrontierGM> ["Nothing, Captain." Said Gregory.-
[13:07] <FrontierGM> ["How to put it, Spiro?" Said Idris. "Have you ever blundered across a space that you did not realise was sacred, but somehow sense that you are transgressing…?"]
[13:09] <Kess> "…Aha." Kess said softly, almost too softly. "The ruins. …That may be the sacred sensation." She mused, head lolling this way and that. "…The transgression… I don't know. But I believe you are reporting reality, so I'd suggest just. Being cautious. It's unknown what might have happened as a result of our sought one landing there."
[13:11] <Inara> "Let's expect the worst, then, eh?" Inara's Jatayu was ready to go, and she, of course, was also inside it. "A lot of dead researchers. Or hostages…"
[13:12] <Kess> "Somehow, 'worst' may be more than we can imagine." Kess said with a tone… a tone as if she was standing on her own grave.
[13:15] * Kayoko tapped her steepled fingers together. "… Could be remnant tech blocking us scanning from orbit," she hedged. "We could put some of the Kirishima drones in atmo and network their scanners, test things that way."
[13:15] <Liane> "Sounds like a better idea than just flying in blind, to be honest."
[13:18] * Inara quietly tried to imagine the worst anyway. "Some kind of lethal supervirus?" she mumbled to herself.
[13:20] <FrontierGM> ["Ooh." Tran cooed to herself. "Not it for space smallpox."-
[13:20] <FrontierGM> ["Captain." Said Gregory. "I'm detecting incoming slipstream signatures: the Apostates are here."]
[13:23] * Disconnected
[13:24] * Attempting to rejoin channel #frontierwar
[13:24] * Rejoined channel #frontierwar
[13:26] <Kayoko> Kayoko let out an irritated little huff. "Of course. Why not complicate the puzzle?"-
[13:26] <Kayoko> "Combat stations, everyone. We'll need to drive them off before we can proceed."
[13:32] <FrontierGM> ["Wait." Said Idris. "Yes…"-
[13:33] <FrontierGM> ["Captain, I'm sensing someone. a Superheavy just within the planetary atmosphere. It's being pursued by two Horus fighters. It's being piloted by a human, but I can sense a Devoted on it. I think this is our Maiden."]
[13:40] <Kayoko> "A Superheavy…?" She cast a curious look over at Franco, then back to Idris. "Can you try to hail them over telepathy? I need to know what we're dealing with. I want our Superheavies in the void, but keep a holding pattern for the moment."
[13:45] * Disconnected
[13:45] * Attempting to rejoin channel #frontierwar
[13:45] * Rejoined channel #frontierwar
[13:49] <FrontierGM> ["Hailing."-
[13:50] <FrontierGM> [The Superheavies were launched from their bays by magnetic catapult, the sides of the ship racing past before they were ejected into the great void.-
[14:00] <FrontierGM> [The enemy cruiser appeared, as did a flock of Superheavies. One of them stood out: unlike the others, it was painted red, and sported on its hand a claw made of transmatter.-
[14:01] <FrontierGM> [The Superheavy turned and began to charge…-
[14:01] <FrontierGM> [Peace. For the last thirty years, the Twiceborn Federation has enjoyed a golden age of freedom and equality- but also one of peace.-
[14:01] <FrontierGM> [The Twiceborn Federation, founded to free humanity from its unjust shackles, has flourished in this time. But it is a time that will soon come to a sudden and shocking awakening.-
[14:01] <FrontierGM> [Beyond its borders, forces stir, creating a chain reaction that threatens to engulf the Federation in plots beyond its reckoning.-
[14:01] <FrontierGM> [Against this stand the Starfleet, protectors of the Federation: people prepared to give their lives for the cause of peace and freedom. But will it be enough?-
[14:01] <FrontierGM> [This is the story of the Frontier War.-
[14:01] <FrontierGM> [EPISODE TITLE: The Maiden and the Guardian.]
[14:31] <Liane> "So, Khalef, you still got some of those missiles left?"
[14:33] <Inara> "Always," said Inara cheerfully.
[14:33] <Rora> Time seemed to slow as green bolts seared through the air past Rora. His attention snapped up at their source, his At field immediately switching to its neutral, more defensive state. His eyes narrowed, and he hailed the unknown crafts. "As you have opened fire unprovoked, so I return with my own warning shot. Requesting a ceasefire, as the area has become dangerous; should you persist,
[14:33] <Rora> I will be forced to take defensive measures."
[14:34] <Liane> "Sweet. Light 'em up!"
[14:34] <FrontierGM> [The response was another hail of green fire- narrowly missing, instead of (say) striking his Dominion square in the chest.]
[14:36] <Kayoko> … and if that were not enough, a moment later Rora would get the telepathic equivalent of a knock at the door. ("Unknown Superheavy,") the voice said, ("This is the Captain of the FSS Valletta. Identify yourself.")
[14:41] <Rora> "…Oh. razor's edge" Thoughts took a backseat to something else, something primal. Not fear, but survival instinct, focused by a sudden rush of adrenaline (though he did have a moment to lament just how wide his warning shot had gone; more a warning for his rusty aim, it would seem).-
[14:44] <Rora> Spurred on by this newfound drive, he rushed the closer of his aggressors, blasting them with a brilliant burst of light. The superheavy seemed to stagger, hanging in the air for a moment, before it began its long plummet to the surface of Zeruel IV. And then, a knocking. "What? Chantry?" No, wait…("…Hello? This is Rora Mist?")
[14:45] * Inara had braced her superheavy, easily hefting the launcher into position. She waited for the Captain to give the final word, of course. "Woosh," she said in the meantime. "That is my impression of a fiery explosion."
[14:47] <Kayoko> ("Rora Mist. You were with the archaelogy team?") Kayoko carried on the conversation with one side of her brain even as her other coordinated the opening movements of the battle.
[14:49] <Rora> ("Yes! Separated an hour ago;") a surge of concern, ("Are they under fire too; where are they? Who are these people??")
[14:51] * Kess was analyzing the field calmly as she cycled Forgemaster's drives. "Good, I don't have to ask if that is 'woosh' like the soaring wind on your wings, or 'woosh' like the fires of glorious destruction."
[14:56] <Kayoko> ("Hostile aliens, if you can believe it! It's been a busy week,") the voice said cheerfully. ("As to where your team are, that's a very good question and one I don't currently have an answer to. What I do know is this: The hostiles are after the escape pod you're carrying. I've got two Superheavies headed your way to escort you back here. Can you hold out?")
[15:03] <Rora> ("Er…making an attempt. plank of wood versus the sea") He managed to keep his luminescence contained to his AC Suit, if only just. He lashed out with another spray of light, but this second attack was more persistent that the last. ("…Taking evasive maneuvers.")-
[15:05] <Rora> Comet Breaker's left shoulder dock opened, a haze grenade flung out via unseen AT force. Rora would be enveloped in an obscuring smokescreen…for the time being.
[15:11] <Kayoko> Back on the Valletta, Kayoko caught the manuever out of the corner of her eye as the ship's scanners alerted her to a nearby active AT Field.-
[15:11] <Kayoko> ("Ah. You're a Guardian,") Kayoko noted, not bothering to make it a question. ("We're the only military in the sector, and nobody else can afford a Dominion.")
[15:12] * Kess was rushing out to chase Liane's unit, during the conversation. It'd take a while…!
[15:14] <FrontierGM> [Rora's pursuer chased him into the cloud, a spray of green bolts flung haphazardly in his direction- but missing.]
[15:22] <Rora> ("I-!…Yes, I am. Observant,") he sent back, feeling a faint series of sizzling sensations as the verdant bolts passed just by his AT field. ("Hostile, indeed. They're after the pod…? No, the person inside. clouds pass overhead")
[15:30] <FrontierGM> [Meanwhile, Gregory continued to exchange fire with the enemy cruiser. "Another hit. Looks like they've lost their Thoth."]
[15:32] * Inara had finally fired once, and upon missing, fired again, missing again. She grumbled and dutifully reloaded. "Slippery…"
[15:34] <Kayoko> ("That's right. She's some sort of pawn in a civil war.")
[15:44] <Rora> Rora could only manage the mental equivalent of an absent nod; he was intently studying his adversary, waiting for the right moment…! He made a sudden motion off to his right, then quickly phased his AT field to a quieter, more subdued pattern. No one here, nothing but hazy space; a feint, moving now in the opposite direction.
[16:00] <FrontierGM> [A moment of respite for Rora- his enemies had flown off in past the haze cloud. They paused for a moment, staring about quizzically.]
[16:40] <FrontierGM> [Back at the Valletta, however- new dangers. The red elite Horus had zipped past, turned sharply on a dive and unleashed a full salvo at Inara: firing with its gun quickly, before launching an ominously large missile followed by a grenade.-
[16:40] <FrontierGM> ["EMP signature on that grenade!" Shouted Gregory.]
[16:44] <Liane> Now was about the right time to attempt a contact. "Dominion pilot, come in," she spoke into the Jupiter's comm system, having tuned it to a standard Federation frequency on the assumption it would go through. "This is Ensign Liane Meier from the FSS Valletta, Kess and I'll be backing you up. You holding up okay?"
[16:44] <Kayoko> "Flak salvo," Kayoko said urgently. "Try and pin that thing down."
[16:47] * Kess nodded swiftly in her holo, and quickly ran through telemetry. "I have a mark on their bomber. Firing!" A grenade launched out of the arm-embedded launcher, and within the angry red mist of the distortion, a clear burst of electrostatic energy flashed! She chirped happily. "Seems confirmed!"
[16:50] * Inara weathered the gunfire, but swore as the Valletta's own covering fire went wide, and she narrowly rolled her superheavy out of the way of the explosion that followed. So this was what it felt like…
[16:57] <Rora> Rora was breathing a bit easier now that he'd managed to create some distance between him and his assailants. He gave Comet Breaker's diagnostics a once-over, indulging in a satisfied nod…and then realized he'd been contacted outside of a mental space. "O-oh! Ah, yes hello; I am unharmed, at present. My thanks Ensign Meier, Kess. first breath on breaking the surface"
[17:08] * Kess seemed to not overly care. "Ah, hello! I'm more formally known as Ensign Spiro, but that's not overly important. Get in range of my dends, you have some serious damage!"
[17:08] <Kayoko> "Hm. Pretty impressive maneuver for a Custom pilot" Kayoko noted, even allowing some approval into her voice once she saw Inara make it through the firestorm, "A little overconfident, though."-
[17:09] <Kayoko> A short series of commands later, the Valletta's gatling spun up again and promptly engulfed the Custom in a tsunami of suzanium rounds.
[17:10] <FrontierGM> [It tried to dodge away- but not fast enough. A moment later it was engulfed in flames, and fell apart.-
[17:11] <FrontierGM> [A pod emerged, its thrusters flaring once before cutting; a moment later, a short, fluttery dirac portal claimed it.]
[17:11] <Kayoko> "Thank you, Idris!" Kayoko called, her attention already turning back towards the cruiser.
[17:18] <Liane> About then, Liane's Jupiter fired a grenade from its arm-mounted launcher that whizzed past the Dominion, scoring a direct hit on one of the enemy fighters with a massive explosion!
[17:43] * Kess turned, seeing the shelling near her. Too near. "…Moving to the next target." She said, with an air of firm dedication. They would not take the Maiden so easily. A quick gesture, three taks at the telemetry computer… and another flash of EMP surges lit up in the distortion.
[17:45] * Kess impassively watched the power surge from her distant vantage. Silent. A small piece of rock flew in front of Forgemaster as part of the debris field. The silent ominous technospider pose was quickly broken by her randomly plucking the rock from the debris field to look at it, knowing that Cruiser would do nothing to punish her casual disdain.
[17:50] <Inara> Not that it would have the chance. From the north, a lone missile would slice through the void of space, tear through the disruption surrounding the Cruiser, and explode against its hull in a bright, flaming display. "Woosh," said someone from over the comms.
[17:51] <FrontierGM> [The rest of the cruiser followed a second later, reducing it to smoke and burning bits of ship.-
[17:52] <FrontierGM> ["Target destroyed." Said Gregory. "Good shooting, Meier, Spiro, Khalef."-
[17:52] <FrontierGM> [The remaining enemy fighters stalled. One of them promptly turned and entered slipstream, flying away. THe other continued to climb, trying to leave the atmosphere of the planet…]
[17:57] <Kayoko> "Let it go," Kayoko said, "We're done here."-
[17:57] <Kayoko> "… and Inara, you should probably stop that."
[17:58] * Liane simply flies her Superheavy back in the direction of the Valletta. "They didn't seem especially inclined to surrender, though."
[18:00] <Kess> "But woosh is the fire of the destruction in her gleaming red spiritual bosom!" Kess said… maybe too cheerily, as the Forgmaster sidled over with small antigrav pulses to start granting Comet Breaker the safety of its spindly metal hellcranes and repair tentacles. Like a mother's embrace.
[18:01] <FrontierGM> [Tran soundlessly mouthed Kess's words to herself, squinting suspiciously at her console.]
[18:03] * Inara joined the Valletta as well. Hers was a might shorter flight. "It's fine. My apologies, Captain."
[18:04] <Kayoko> Back aboard the bridge, Kayoko shrugged. "Medical asks hard questions if it looks like you're enjoying yourself too much."
[18:05] <Rora> Rora's nostrils flared, allowing himself a moment of reflection once it became apparent that the immediate danger had passed. He spared a glance in the direction of the last, lone assailant, struggling to escape Zeruel IV's clutches; a stab of dismay, even despite their lethal intent. "…Still no sign of the Professor's team, then? checking an empty fridge, despite knowing the result"
[18:05] <Rora> he asked at large, meeting up with Ensign Spiro's (abundantly appendaged!) superheavy en route to what must be the Valletta.
[18:07] <FrontierGM> [The last lonely Horus struggled to break the atmosphere, the damage from Liane's grenade slowing it greatly. After one particularly sharp burst of speed, its thrust gave out and it began to fall, parts of its chassis still aflame.-
[18:08] <FrontierGM> [It was a quiet, lonely drop. When it eventually struck ground, it didn't land particularly hard.-
[18:08] <FrontierGM> [The Horus stay there for a few minutes, its arms struggling. Eventually its cockpit cracked open and a Devoted climbed out.-
[18:09] <FrontierGM> [He looked to and fro, then stared down at the damage below. His shoulders sagged, and he perched on the nose of his cockpit.-
[18:09] <FrontierGM> [… A minute later, he heard a rumbling.-
[18:09] <FrontierGM> [The horizon started to twist and distort. Where it shimmered with white heat, it now rippled with swirling rainbow light.-
[18:10] <FrontierGM> [The pilot stood, staring out at the horizon-
[18:10] <FrontierGM> [It didn't have time to react. A wave of rainbow energy rippled across the entire surface of the planet in a flash. To those in orbit, it would seem as though the whole world had been swallowed up. The light was blinding, throwing sensors and computers haywire.-
[18:11] <FrontierGM> [The raw power pushed the small moon away, sent the microdebris flying in all directions and even caught the Valletta in its shockwave, pushing it aggressively away for a million kilometres.-
[18:11] <FrontierGM> [… And then it was over.-
[18:12] <FrontierGM> [Of the Devoted Apostate and his Horus, nothing remained.]
[18:22] <Kess> Seeing the event, from dock. From the cameras and systems, before they completely lost all sense. Kess regarded it for a moment. "Let not we ponder gods and sins, but the weight of history. Such as seeds and orchids grew, there yet are parts of the garden none shall root in. Though it is wild with the untrimmed things, the first planter still, at times, may remind us that there are harvests that bring no succor in their yield. So the
[18:22] <Kess> flowers will be uprooted." She had said this, quietly, to herself… but was thinking of Idris. "That was the sin of the holy place."

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