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 Post subject: Re: The Battlezone Chronicles
PostPosted: October 23rd, 2015, 1:24 am 
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Joined: December 19th, 2008, 9:19 pm
Posts: 2593
Location: Mars
The Battlezone Chronicles Special Chapter: The Planets Part 2


Courtesy of HF Imperium Intelligence


The Asteroid Belt

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In between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, the Asteroid belt is believed to be the remnants of the Cthonian homeworld of Icarus. With the many asteroids scattered throughout the belt, and with a collective mass that equals about 4% of the Earth’s moon, the belt exercised very weak gravitational influence on many bio-metal meteors that passed by. It is hypothesized that the small bio-metal reserves within the asteroid belt were either flung into position via Jupiter’s gravity, were the remains of any bio-metal that was on Icarus at the time of its destruction, or brought there by travelling nomadic groups.

With the gravitational pull of many of the asteroids being near consequential, orbital instability caused by Jupiter’s gravitational pull, and the generally small bio-metal deposits, attempting to colonize any part of the belt is considered to be an expensive and rarely lucrative venture. While lacking in bio-metal, the largest world in the belt, Ceres, is known for containing a source of water under its surface, allowing for any groups in the area to tap into said resource to aid with life-support operations.

In the 1960s and 70s, the belt saw almost no action as the American and Soviet forces quickly bypassed it in favor of hunting the Fury relics in the Jovian system. Since then, few nomad groups have attempted to settle in the belt, with most abandoning their outposts due to lack of resources and return-on-investments. After the fall of the GOLEM Empire, its remnants under General GOLEM took up residence within the belt and established multiple small stations and research facilities for some months before finally retiring to Earth towards the end of 2011. At some point after 2013, a group known as the Deus Ex Contingency set up a permanent base of operations on Ceres, and from there moved to set up large outposts and facilities on most of the large asteroids in the belt. It has been noted that since the beginning of 2014, an increased number of nomad ships travelling through the belt have gone missing, and other than a few recovered pieces of debris, there have been no signs of any of the missing ships or crew.


Residents: D.E.C, transient nomad groups possible

Biometal Deposits: Small



The Jovian System

Jupiter

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The largest planet in the Sol System, Jupiter had very little direct importance to the bio-metal wars. With no solid surface to land on, any biometal meteors that happened into Jupiter’s sphere of influence were either lost in its atmosphere or landed on one of the Jovian moons. Decades later, Jupiter’s role has stayed the same, leaving the majority of the action to its Galilean moons.

Residents: None

Biometal Deposits: None


Io

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The innermost of the Galilean moons, Io was the location where American and Soviet forces discovered multiple Fury relics among the ruins of Lerna facility. Io would soon be quickly abandoned as the moon’s volatile nature consistently endangered military personnel and installations. Decades later, with new advancements in biometal structural engineering, many space-faring factions managed to improve upon old designs and create fully functional, long-term operations on the volcanic world.

By the 21st century, more and more factions were drawn to Io by its fairly sized biometal reserves. Over time, the increased activity led to a growing biometal stockpile on the moon, quickly making it a coveted target among various space groups. Due to the increased violence, there were no known permanent operations on the moon until the Zooks set up a large HQ towards the end of 2012. Their stronghold on the moon would later be destroyed by forces of the HF Imperium in the First Bzooka War in early 2013. The Imperium would maintain a presence there along with the S.S.S.R until the end of the Second Fury Conflict in July 2014, when they abandoned the moon.
The Imperium’s withdrawal from Io left a large portion of the moon open for nomadic groups to set up scrap-gathering operations. The S.S.S.R continue to maintain control of roughly 9.2% of Io’s surface, and more recently the Deus Ex Contingency has established a small outpost of their own.

Residents: S.S.S.R, Deus Ex Contingency, various nomadic groups

Biometal Deposits: Moderate


Europa

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The smallest of the Galilean moons, Europa had a very limited role in bio-metal wars. Unlike Io, Europa has no known connections to the Cthonians, and has a relatively small supply of biometal on its surface. However, where Europa lacks in biometal it makes up a lot in its habitability. With much of its surface made of water ice and an ocean of liquid water under its surface, Europa became a popular place in the 1980s for nomad groups looking to gather supplies of water for the voyages across the Sol System. With the relatively high amount of nomad groups visiting the moon, along with the small biometal reserves and lack of evidence supporting large-scale fighting, it is hypothesized that Europa served as an unofficial neutral zone among the nomad factions of the 20th century.

Come the 21st century, this ‘ceasefire zone’ gradually fell into obscurity and fighting began to intensify on Europa, yet the amount of nomad visitors seemed to be lower than traditional populations. It is still unknown what led to the quieting of Europa.

In the middle of 2011, the HF Imperium would establish a resource-gathering station on Europa along with multiple strongholds. Europa soon became the first world outside of Mars to be a host of the Imperium’s cloning program, and roughly 20% of individuals born from 2011-2012 came from Europa. By the end of 2012, the Imperium left Europa peacefully and gave its territory to the BZSH, which would leave much of the moon untouched save for a research facility and testing grounds until 2014, when the Imperium returned and reclaimed 80% of Europa’s surface, leaving the remainder to the BZSH.

Residents: HF Imperium, BZSH

Biometal Deposits: Small


Ganymede

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The largest of the Galilean moons, in the biometal wars the moon served as the staging area between a three-way conflict between the CCA, the Chinese Red Army, and the American Black Dogs. Ganymede saw the discovery of the Pegasus relics, the discovery of the planet Elysium, and the near complete destruction of the Chinese space military. The rather fierce combat that occurred on the moon is likely the reason why the moon boasts decent biometal reserves on its surface.

After the biometal wars, Ganymede became quiet, and few nomad groups attempted to take advantage of the deposits on the moon. The most likely cause is due to Ganymede’s orbit being in close proximity to a ring of asteroids in Jupiter’s orbit, posing a serious hazard to ground-based teams. Eventually as the 21st century progressed and as technology improved to track the asteroids in the field, the Sk-8080 Corporation established an HQ on the moon, and other nomad groups began to follow.

Residents: Sk-8080 Corporation, various nomad groups

Biometal Deposits: Moderate


Callisto

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Second to Ganymede in size, Callisto was only visited by the US carrier ‘Liberty’, as it searched for Soviet outposts among the Jovian moons. As it detected none on the surface, the Liberty moved on from Callisto enroute to Titan to chase down the Fury relic. Scans suggested that Callisto does own a few biometal deposits on its surface, but as the moon was further out from Jupiter, it suffers from the same issues as Ganymede in regards to asteroid impacts on the moon.

Today Callisto is still mostly barren, and while nomad groups have been known to set up camp on the moon, none have been known to make extended stays due to the high risk of impacts for a relatively small biometal reward.

Residents: Transient nomad groups

Biometal Deposits: Small


The Saturnian System

Saturn

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A gas giant, no known biometal reserves or resident forces. Saturn’s only historical role was to serve as a backdrop for the First Fury Conflict.

Residents: None

Biometal Deposits: None


Titan

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The largest of the Saturnian moons and the only moon with a dense atmosphere, Titan saw the re-activation of the Cthonian furies and their quick betrayal of the CCA. Titan was the setting for the complete decimation of the Black Dogs, and would be the location where the Americans and Soviets would combine their forces in some of the most intense combat of the biometal wars to destroy the alien saucers.

The fighting on the moon led to Titan having the largest biometal deposits among the moons of the outer planets, and nomads often came to the planet to take advantage of them. Nomads would continue Titan’s legacy by fighting over territory until a force known only as Goomba began wiping out resident nomad groups in the year 2012. By 2014, Goomba had established a well-fortified presence on Titan, securing most of the biometal on the planet for himself. Like Mars, nomads still attempt to sneak a raid on Titan, but more often than not are forced off.

Residents: Goomba, occasional transient groups

Biometal Deposits: Large


The Uranian System

Uranus

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A smaller gas giant, no known biometal reserves or resident forces.

Residents: None

Biometal Deposits: None


Achilles

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A moon that was only discovered during the biometal wars, Achilles was the setting for the final battle between the combined American and Soviet forces against the Furies. The attack to take out the Furies’ factory caused a chain reaction that destabilized the unusually dense moon. The resulting explosion wiped out the remaining Fury units, and NSDF units under ‘Grizzly 1’ barely escaped the moon before its destruction.

After the end of the wars, the nomads in space generally stayed away from the Uranian system, some out of respect for those lost in the First Fury Conflict, others due to its remote location and distance from the other worlds, and some due to the planetary system having almost nothing to offer the wandering groups.

Following the 1997 “Battlezone Leak” and as more individuals from Earth left the planet to make a life in space, newly formed nomadic groups explored the outer solar system, eventually reaching Uranus. Upon arrival, these groups discovered to their shock that Achilles was still there, and was now surrounded by a ring of planetary debris. Further visits revealed that the moon’s mass had dropped and nearly half of the water that once covered its surface was gone. The Achillean atmosphere, once almost breathable by humans, had lost nearly a quarter of its estimated atmospheric oxygen and in its place was a significant fraction of toxic gases like sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. Average temperatures were higher than those recorded by old NSDF records, but the most shocking discovery was the survival of the strange green fungal-like lifeforms on the surface. Having thought to have gone extinct with the planet, the nomad explorers discovered that the organisms had repopulated much of the planet.

To this day, scientists are unsure of how Achilles managed to reform after its explosion, or how the life on the planet managed to survive its explosion. Some hypothesize that the moon’s extreme density and mass played a factor and that a piece of the moon’s core survived. The core’s large gravitational pull likely re-attracted much of its lost mass and gases, the cataclysmic process likely caused periods of massive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, leading to the differing atmospheric compositions between Achilles pre- and post-explosion. Scientists also hypothesize that the life on Achilles is particularly hardy, and initial studies of the hardiness of these organisms suggest that their survivability is not unlike that of the Earth-native tardigrades. This revelation has brought speculation among many in space that these lifeforms and tardigrades may be connected in some form.

It was soon discovered that at least a significant fraction of the biometal, along with fury remains, that was on Achilles at the time of its explosion had survived. Scouting parties discovered that quite a few biometal deposits had fallen back to the surface, with even more biometal slowly falling back to the moon from orbit. While the meteor threat was apparent, some nomad groups took their chances to establish permanent bases on the moon with varying levels of success. Towards the end of 2012, the Zooks had managed to secure hegemony over the moon by evicting many of the nomad groups stationed there. They would maintain control until the end of the First Bzooka War, with the HF Imperium annexing the entire moon. The Imperium would carry out multiple studies on the moon’s characteristics, lifeforms, and ring systems for over a year until they withdrew from the planet towards the latter part of 2014. While expected to eventually host many nomad groups again, Achilles’s remote location suggests that re-colonization would be slow.

Residents: Few transient nomad groups

Biometal Deposits: Small(growing)


The Neptunian System

Neptune

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A gas giant similar to Uranus, no known biometal reserves or resident forces.

Residents: None.

Biometal Deposits: None.

Triton

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The largest moon of Neptune, it was quickly eliminated from the list of potential worlds to settle by the American and Soviet governments due to its great distance from Earth and unlikelihood of finding significant bio-metal deposits. Decades later, Triton is still relatively quiet. While scans today suggest that the moon does contain small amounts of bio-metal on the surface, it's small quantity added with its great distance from the more plentiful bio-metal worlds means that it remains mostly untapped.

Residents: None

Biometal Deposits: Small

The Plutonian System

Pluto

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Once considered the ninth planet of the Sol System, Pluto’s gravitational pull and distance from Earth eliminated it as a possible candidate for exploration by the Americans and Soviets. However, in 2009, as forces of the XANA Empire were evicted from the Red Planet by the Imperial Army, they set their flagship to orbit Pluto and briefly colonized the world for a period of months before leaving the solar system.

The next colonizers of Pluto would come from 'Soviets'. The Soviet Union, in an attempt to regain an advantage in the space race, sent out a 2nd army into space to gather bio-metal in the 1980s. After decades of wandering like nomads, this 2nd CCA incarnation went to Pluto and established a fortified base in 2010. To their surprise, the world had small amounts of bio-metal, as well as its largest moon, Charon. Having successfully set up a permanent base of operations, this Soviet group had managed to field a size-able force. This 2nd incarnation re-formed to become the S.S.S.R, and they’ve maintained hegemony over Pluto ever since.

Almost no nomad groups come to Pluto, as it’s so remote and small many determine that it wouldn’t be worth the trip. This trend would end with the Faner invasion of Charon in late 2013.

Residents: S.S.S.R

Biometal Deposits: Small

Charon


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Pluto’s largest moon, it also boasted biometal deposits on its surface, which enticed the S.S.S.R to colonize its surface, eventually becoming almost as well-fortified as Pluto itself. Charon had slightly more activity from the odd nomad group, but most that went to Charon never survived to tell of what they saw.

This trend changed with Faner’s RE invasion of 2013. The S.S.S.R found itself on the losing end of a surprising lightning attack by Faner’s forces, and through assistance from the HF Imperium, the S.S.S.R managed to stabilize their position, but at the cost of half of Charon’s surface. To this day, Charon is one of the most militarized locations in the outer Sol System, complete with daily patrols as both Faner’s RE and the S.S.S.R closely monitor each other’s movements.

The war caused a drastic increase in the biometal deposits located on Charon, with its reserves greatly surpassing Pluto’s biometal supplies. Another result was the exposure of the S.S.S.R on an interplanetary level. With nomad groups now more aware of the potential resources the Plutonian system has to offer, reports suggest a gradual increase in nomad activity near Plutonian system.

Residents: S.S.S.R, Faner’s RE

Biometal Deposits: Moderate


Elysium

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Discovered through the Pegasus device, Elysium is the furthest known world the Cthonians have visited. The Chinese Red Army were the first humans to colonize the planet, evicting the Soviets from the planet before they themselves were evicted by the American Black Dogs. After the biometal wars, the planet was mostly abandoned along with much of its biometal deposits. It wasn’t until nomadic groups on Ganymede discovered remains of multiple Pegasus portals in 1999 that humans returned to the extrasolar planet.

Most nomads tended to avoid travel to Elysium due to the risk of Pegasus portals being destroyed and being stranded thousands of light-years from the closest known habitable planet. The few groups that did only kept minor settlements that were manned for brief periods of time to get a few scraps of biometal.

This trend would change with the rise of the GOLEM Empire in 2008. Under General GOLEM, multiple Pegasus portals were constructed and the empire spread to strategic locations, eventually taking over 74% of the planet’s surface. The GOLEM Empire would control Elysium until the GOLEM Wars in 2009, where forces of HyperFighter’s Imperial Army along with elements of the S.S.S.R used their own Pegasus portals to launch an invasion of Elysium, evicting GOLEM from the planet in 2010.

Today, the HF Imperium owns roughly 68% of the planet’s surface, with the S.S.S.R taking up 6% of the area for its own operations. While the Imperium’s population on Elysium numbers 2.9 million, it is one of the least developed of the Imperium worlds, and there are no plans in the near future to expand Elysium’s infrastructure or population. Due to its remote location, it’s also one of the most peaceful of the Imperium worlds, with few nomad groups ever showing up on the planet. The nomads that do show up, however, are groups that are generally better off than the standard nomad and tend to be more dangerous.

Residents: HF Imperium, S.S.S.R, occasional transient nomad groups

Biometal Deposits: Large


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 Post subject: Re: The Battlezone Chronicles
PostPosted: November 23rd, 2015, 5:48 pm 
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Joined: November 28th, 2012, 11:05 pm
Posts: 758
Location: The fine locale of Canuckville Canada.
September 9, Ceres, Underground Laboratories


"Coils 1 through 7 in the green, energy readings nominal, initiating phase 1."

Out of the darkness, a panel came to life. Seven violet rings gently illuminating the chamber, revealing the machine's shape. A mess of cables and metal components connected to the back of a flat hexagonal plate, a long tube connecting back to an open-faced reactor, powering the contraption as its whirring began to echo throughout the lab.

"EM field stable, initiating phase 2."

With a bright spark, the violet coils extended out from the panel, bolts of electricity sparking out from them and getting caught by lightning rods that surrounded the edges of the room. Their bright violet colour began to shift into a deep indigo, casting intense UV light throughout the lab. Technicians in full radiation suits looking on in anticipation.

"Phase 2 complete, coils charged and ready, activating test drone."

Spotlights at the far end of the chamber flashed on and spun themselves to point upwards, illuminating a Razor floating quietly above a magnetic disk, controlled remotely from the lab's control room. The front of the vehicle had been modified with special plating, a large Biometal sheet as thick as the armour on a Golem with a bright orange target painted on it. Slowly, the magnetic disk below it began to rise until the Razor floated level with the bright coils across the chamber.

"Firing weapon in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1..."

The bolts of electricity flying off the coils began to curve back into them, swirling as if caught in some invisible vortex, unable to escape.

"Fire."

With a shower of sparks, a beam of bright light shot out from the coils, striking the Razor. In an instant, the drone began to spin erratically, energy readings from the vehicle simultaneously displaying none and infinite levels. The remote control of the drone's computer had been lost, but the sensors on a test dummy inside the vehicle showed it wouldn't have mattered, the vehicle's controls, while not damaged, were completely unresponsive. It was a marvel to behold, as the Razor twisted and convulsed as if being pushed and pulled by some unseen forces. After several minutes it began to slow, and one-by-one it's systems began to come back online. Sensors within the vehicle reported several external and internal structures had been damaged but the vehicle was still mostly intact and the dummy inside was completely unharmed. The technicians cheered, ecstatic at the effective test of the weapon, and filed out back to their stations as the machine began to power down and retract back into place.

This was the HAVOC Cannon, the last great weapon of the Olympians.

Or rather, a recreation of it, the original device being in such disrepair that reverse-engineering the machine had been the only course of action. It was in such a state that the ship that originally found it hadn’t even been able to identify what it was, let alone who had built it. The design of the machine didn’t help, either, as far as they could tell it had been originally powered by some form of exotic matter, and components of it were noticeably alien in their design, even for the Chthonians. It had taken many weeks of hard work, but finally the DEC had a working model of this impressive device. Mar looked up at it from the control room, beaming at his fellow engineers, stroking his chin with pride.

“So, this is the weapon that nearly won the war.” He mused, turning to the other technicians in the room. “The power to disable enemy ships, only bested by the sheer numbers of the Fury war machines.”

“We’re a long way from being able to use it offensively, still, we have no idea how the Olympians were able to power this thing.” One of the other technicians said. It was the chief engineer, Levi, already buried in a screen, reviewing the data the sensors in the scout had collected, the various inputs and outputs from the HAVOC Cannon itself. “Coils two and five were damaged, both have fallen below 80% optimum energy efficiency. The non-Biometal components were unable to handle the strain.”

Mar looked down, sheepishly agreeing with Levi, though he hated the lack of optimism in the man’s tone.

“If we’re to make this work, we’ll need it to be perfect.” He said, standing up from his desk “There is no room for error, especially not now, the DEC is counting on us.”

Levi looked around the room, glaring at the sea of eager yet nervous engineers, bright young faces, most far younger than himself. “You all know what we need to do, get to it.”





“The nomads continue to pressure the borders, they’re impeding reconstruction efforts, if we don’t rid Hygiea of them soon we’ll be forced to declare another state of emergency.”

“We’re seeing insurgent groups all across the Northwestern region, half of our citizens have declared open revolt.”

“Agricultural output is back up to 78% but fluctuating, we could see it drop soon if nothing is done.”

“The reinforcements Vestalis promised are a week late already, we cannot continue to hold if they don’t get here soon. Our soldiers are starting to question if they’ll ever arrive at all, we need them now.”

“Why would they come when we need them? We all know Vestalis is responsible for half of the rogue ships that have been preying on our shipments, had he never seceded Vesta from the Contingency we wouldn’t-”

With a single gesture, Hygiealis silenced the room, dozens of voices going quiet at once. He sat, in silence for a painfully drawn out moment, a single fist raised, demanding attention, with his chin resting on the other. He closed his eyes, shutting them as tightly as he could, and then rose to speak. “I’ve made my decision, we will give the nomads what they want.”

“Consul, they have been completely unresponsive to our-”

“You misunderstand me, I have no intention of negotiating with them, they have shown their intentions are to simply wreak havoc, to stall our attempts to rebuild from the damage the Germans dealt… and we will give them what they want.”

“S-sir?”

“Pull the major forces back from the front to deal with the insurgents, leave scant defences in the nomad’s path, let them break through. Once they have, we’ll be able to rope most of the insurgents into allying against the nomads, at least initially, we’ll let them break through only to find themselves surrounded on all sides.” Hygiealis said, resting one hand on the table “They want a slaughter… and we will give them what they want.”





The acolyte wandered down a wide hallway in a reclusive section of an Imperium tower, lost in thought. Curious vines hung above bearing unfamiliar fruit, and light streamed in from the wall to her left, lined as it was with windows that reached from floor to ceiling. The sun had just disappeared over the rim of the volcanic caldera and the sky was a bright and brilliant orange unlike any Thekla had ever seen. She paid little mind to it, however, eyes more focused on the floor, hardly noticing the serenity of the moment.

"Someone seems concerned." came a voice.

Startled, the acolyte looks up, nervously grasping her hands together "I... I'm sorry?".
From the shadows, leaning against the wall near an ornamental pedestal, a figure stepped into view, immediately becoming familiar. “Heh, I didn’t mean to startle you, Thekla.”

"Oh, I didn't recognize you, Grand Admiral." Thekla responded, now trying to find something formal to say. "I was merely admiring the, ah, view... and all the lovely... Imperium architecture."

The lie was obvious, his expression showed it. "Seems it was mostly the floor you were admiring just now, if that was the case. I've seen that look enough times to know that there was something other than architecture on your mind just now."

"Ah," Thekla responded, pausing for a moment to adjust herself, still uneasy to speak "I suppose I wasn't admiring much more than floor, was I? After I left the DEC to act as a diplomat here I have been worrying about my home, and now..." The acolyte steeled herself, taking a slow breath "Now it would seem things have, ah... gotten worse than I'd expected."

"Is this Vestialis character escalating things?" the grand admiral asked, cocking an eyebrow.

Thekla fidgeted with her hands, gazing out at the orange light over the rim of the caldera just to avoid looking at the Grand Admiral. "Daniels sent me a message last night." She began "Hygiea is under attack again, this time by CCA nomads, no recognizable markings on their ships. They're holding the line but... there won't be reinforcements this time. The fleet is scattered, there've been engagements with-" She stopped, fighting to keep a firm expression "with DEC ships, separatists, many not even in league with Vestalis, simply rebelling against the High Priestess’ rightful rule..."

She turned her head slightly, but didn't look up at him "She's locked herself away again, to seek an answer from the Mother Goddess, nobody knows what's going on, Cererealis is keeping a strenuous hold over Ceres, but he... Daniels isn't sure what to do."

HyperFighter sighed, "Those meetings with this Goddess aren't going to ease those still loyal to your High Priestess. In times like these people want to see their leaders take action." Thekla nodded, curtly, and he noticed the pained expression on her face. "I think your situation isn't nearly as apocalyptic as you may think. It just requires a change of strategy, mostly on Daniels part." he said.

Thekla attempted to smile in agreement but the expression died halfway through. She sighed, lowering her arms to her sides and looked now directly at the Grand Admiral "There's something you need to know," she said, monotone "something Daniels had expressly asked me not to tell you before I came here."

She waited for a long moment, but only saw patience on the grand admiral’s face. "There are," she began, conquering a lump in her throat "old schematics in the DEC archives, recreations of weapons that had been used during the Chthonian Biometal War. The fighters you've seen in our fleets, they were recreated directly from the design of Olympian ships..." she said, and then looked away again "...but there are others."

"We've not used them in nearly half a century now, the last of the recyclers equipped to produced these units were destroyed before the DEC exile to the Oort cloud. Aside from the orbital starports over Ceres, however, the greatest production facilities the DEC has built... are on Vesta. While I would not expect him to, it is..." her voice wavered, losing strength "it is possible Vestalis could bring some of these ancient war machines back into production, and if he does..."

She stopped there, not having the stomach to finish the thought.

Hyper's eyes widened slightly, he looked down for a few moments before beginning, "Other than necessary survival centers, I'd recommend Daniels recall the bulk of his forces back to Ceres. From what you've told me, more groups are likely to break off by the day, but if you try to take them all at once your fleet's strength will be exhausted before it makes a difference. If Vessie can get access to these weapons, then you guys need to make sure your troops are still fresh."

“These aren’t some random scavengers or an invading military!” she exclaimed, looking back at the grand admiral. “These are my people.”

She sighed, covering her mouth hesitantly “Vestalis… I’ve known him all my life, he was like an uncle to me. I can’t understand why he would do this.” She leaned against the window, the glass chilling to the touch as the temperature outside began to drop. “The primary fleet remains over Ceres, it's what defence the colony has. With the current state of affairs, though, we have no idea what colony could be under threat next. Most have recalled their forces to their own territory, even those still loyal to Ceres, Daniels is struggling to maintain what loyalty he has, people are giving up hope."

The grand admiral was silent, too unfamiliar with the acolyte to know what to say, though as he watched, he could swear the heiress’ eyes became cloudy for a moment, her irises a crystal blue despite the overwhelmingly orange light. She stared out the windows, eyes seemingly transfixed on something too distant to see.

"Ancient…” she began “monstrous war machines, weapons that could level entire cities in a single night. The Olympians designed their ships with elegance, but they were rigid, mechanical, inherently flawed in the utility of their designs. The Hadeans created organic weapons, manipulating the fluid and living nature of biometal, but even still, they too were crude machinations." her eyes closed, unease on her face "Both were predated by something greater than the sum of both. Sleeping giants, locked away..."

After a long moment of silence, Hyperfighter stepped towards her, resting a hand on her shoulder "The last time alien monstrosities were released by man, they ended up buried under tons of ash. The very troops that follow Daniels played roles in that. Now you have someone trying to do that again with even weaker weapons. I wouldn't underestimate your own soldiers."

"Yes, I suppose that... is true..." Thekla said, stepping back and placing her hand hesitantly on her forehead. "I think I need, ah, to lie down. My thoughts are all, chaotic right now, I..." she giggled meekly, eyeing her surroundings with uncertainty "I think I've gotten myself, ah, a bit lost. You wouldn't mind showing me back to my quarters, would you?"

"Heh, sure, I know the way pretty well. Follow me."

"Thankyou." she said, demeanor significantly more cheerful than it had been. Saying nothing more, she gestured for the Grand Admiral to lead the way, and walked at pace beside him.

"Oh yeah, what you shared will remain strictly between us for the time being. Everyone has their secrets after all." the grand admiral said "Also, while I can't make promises at this time, If your buddy Vessie actually does get his hands on something sufficiently dangerous and decides to use it, it may prompt sending a holiday card filled with in upwards of 500,000 happy red men."

Thekla nodded, giving a quick smile and flashing her eyes at the young ruler, remaining silent for a moment. "Vessie" she said aloud, chuckling, "ah, I'll bet he'd hate being called that."

"It's official. His new name is Vessie," HF said with a growing smirk on his face.

Thekla fought back laughter, keeping her eyes forward as she walked, and in an upbeat tone replied "I hope he burns in hell."


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 Post subject: Re: The Battlezone Chronicles
PostPosted: December 13th, 2015, 4:12 am 
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Joined: December 19th, 2008, 9:19 pm
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Location: Mars
11 September 2014

We had no idea why we were out here, but no one expected the reason would change everything for us.

Our company had been out in the frontier for weeks with the rest of the Martian 7th to assist in harvesting operations from whatever nomads we found. Our hunts had been going well, fifteen nomad recyclers harvested, our platoon taking credit for three of them. The going was good, and we were on track to clearing out our sector before the the long Martian winter fully set in. We were preparing to move towards a potential sixteenth kill when Captain York abruptly ordered the whole company to break off the attack, saying that platoons from the Martian 3rd would take care of it. He said that we were to head northeast towards an old Imperium outpost in the center of the region. There were protests among the men, but they were quickly silenced when it was revealed that this was a command straight from General Davidson. Confused, but with little choice, we marched through the remote volcanic plains of Syrtis Major.

It was baffling. I kept asking myself what could make High Command issue such an order for us? Biometal deposits were hard to come by in this part of the region, making this place unfavorable for nomad platoons to set up shop. Raid squads do like to hang around in areas like these, but those groups are even smaller than platoons, almost harmless to any Imperium operations. Sending a whole company to clear them out was overkill.

Over the next several hours our travel to the designated coordinates were largely uneventful. We started running into raid squads during our approach that were jubilantly slaughtered by our Grizzlies, but before long their sightings dropped to nothing. We were truly in one of the most remote areas of the Red Planet.

The sun was setting when we arrived. To our surprise there were far more guards on staff at the base than we had expected. All the guntowers were functional, and at least a full platoon's worth of Grizzly tanks were on hand, which seemed overkill for a base like this. Its construction dates back to the old Imperial Army as an early warning system to any incursions towards the Western Tharsis regions, but its operation was largely abandoned after the end of the Schism.

The reason behind the increased troop strength soon became clear when we were all suddenly called to attention over communications. It was General Davidson, his personal guard by his side as he left the base's Command Tower to meet us. It was there that he briefed as to the reason for our summons here.

'The Second Fury Conflict has revealed the faces of our enemies, namely those of Der Crysis and his ally Cothonian. While our comrades in the Martian 4th fought valiantly and destroyed their Fury facilities on Io, their forces eluded our guns. In response, the Adrestia has ordered a new initiative to be launched with the objective to Search & Destroy any and all forces under the banner of these enemies. However, our experience on Io has taught us that a massive invasionary fleet is largely inefficient for hunting down a small, stealthy opponent.

To counter this, the Grand Admiral has ordered that a smaller force be sent out instead of an entire army. This strike force's objective will be to scour the solar system discretely in order to locate any facilities or groups affiliated with Crysis. Once located, this force will notify High Command of the discovery immediately and wait for additional orders. This strike force is where the 5th Company comes in. I chose your company to carry out this mission because of your impressive records in combat. Most of you served in the Faner War, a few others were on Io fighting against those xeno-machines, and while quite a few of you are still new to the company, your training regiments will have made you well-suited to a task of this caliber.

Now, in order to have maximum effectiveness, this mission will require you all to scour the planets without drawing attention to yourselves or the Imperium. To this end, while you have free reign to check whatever planets are necessary. Your engagements must ensure that you are not identified as Imperium. Of course, transporting a force like the 5th Company inconspicuously, which is why we had to brief you in this remote location. We have a new toy that will prove invaluable to ensuring you stay under the radar.'

At that statement the general made a signal, and I bore witness to something I had never seen before. A short distance away we could see a large portion of the sky begin to distort. It took a while for me to realize that this distortion wasn't an odd weather phenomenon, but a specific shape that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Soon the whole figure came into view, seemingly appearing out of nowhere.

'This is a new experimental carrier, a ship we call the Aegean. Based on salvaged technology from the Pegasus cloak device, this ship has been modified with a large Pegasus generator, producing a cloaking field that cloaks the ship much like the Chinese Red Army did with their ship during the biometal wars. This ship will be the main headquarters for your company as you move from world to world in search of your targets. The ship, which draws a lot of its power through the Pegasus generator, should be able to remain cloaked for weeks at a time without needing to cool down. These modifications have also forced the removal of some defensive capabilities of the ship, so that is something you will need to keep in mind if you intend on engaging in direct fights in space.

Captain York will be in command of the ship during this mission, a crew specialized in piloting the ship has already been assigned and will be able to assist you in the operations onboard. This mission is expected to take a long period of time, and enough provisions have been provided to allow your company to hunt the enemy for months. To save space, bio-metal supplies were left rather low. Troops are authorized to engage targets at their discretion in order to boost biometal stockpiles if needed. If there aren't any questions, your platoon will depart within two standard hours.'

With those words, our course was set. The six large Mk III recyclers from our company were loaded into the Aegean's cargo bay along with a small number of Grizzlies for an initial defense force. When the last of our forces were loaded, the Captain gave the order and the ship convulsed slightly before the massive cloaking device shielded the Aegean from view. With a word, the carrier took off, and in a matter of minutes we found ourselves in low Martian orbit, hidden from view as the Captain and his lieutenants discussed their first stop.

From a window I witnessed Mars from an angle I had never seen before. I had just finished my training when the Faner War ended, never fighting there or in the Second Fury Conflict. This was the first time I was seeing space for myself. It was surreal seeing the planet below, the stars shining above and around us. I even caught a glimpse of what looked like a couple of ships heading down towards the planet. I figure they were more nomads. Under normal protocol there would probably be a report sent to have the nomads dealt with immediately, but for the time being we had to be unnoticeable to succeed in our mission. Those drop ships were unlikely to be dangerous anyway.

I lie on my bed, finishing these thoughts as sleep slowly takes hold. We leave orbit tomorrow for our first destination. I don't know where, but I can't help but be excited of what I may see.

It's amazing how so much can change in one day.

-Sargent Rolf Martin, 16th Platoon, 3rd Company, Martian 7th




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 Post subject: Re: The Battlezone Chronicles
PostPosted: December 31st, 2015, 5:59 am 
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September 14, Mars


Thekla emerged from her room, coming back to the bridge of the Illyria, the crown jewel Recycler of the Imperium armies, Grand Admiral HyperFigter's personal unit. It's black-gold hull and prominent Imperium insignia made it stand out from the rest of the units that raced across the desert sands, as well as it's improved size compared to other models. Thekla took a seat next to the Grand Admiral, giving a restrained smile before looking up at the holographic projection of the battlefield.

"You didn't need to take the time to do this, you know." She said, glancing at HF. "This is quite a significant departure from your other duties, just to help me train on the battlefield."

"Oh, this is more than that." HyperFighter said, tone more casual than hers. "I will not be helping you this time, I'm merely here to observe as you take on an enemy yourself. You've spent the past month honing your skills here under Captain Abrams, Mars has done you good, but I am curious to see just how far you've come."

She blushed, hiding her face, before looking up as Captain Abrams herself came forward, giving the Grand Admiral a quick salute. "As you both may know, we've identified a worrying Nomad force in the Madness region, they've systematically exterminated most other Nomad groups, and even managed to rip apart one of our own platoons. At your request, Grand Admiral, we're placing Thekla in the command of this platoon to examine how she handles against a real threat."

"No need to speak with such formality, Captain," HyperFighter said, rising to examine the projected battlefield "we're all friends here, and I think a more relaxed atmosphere would better prepare our heiress of the Contingency."

Thekla nodded, remaining mostly quiet, but stood to take a closer look of the hologram herself, interested in the snowflake-like pattern of the canyons. "You called this the, ah, 'Madness' region?"

"Yes," Janice replied, pressing a few keys that caused the image to zoom outwards, showing the surrounding terrain "it's a crater system near the Western edge of the Valles Marineris, so named for it's intricate maze of crossing canyons. It was formed by a meteor impact and there are significant biometal deposits, or at least there used to be. The Nomad group currently occupying the crater, calling themselves the 'Mirage Corps' have exhausted almost the entire scrap supply in the region, only a few scant deposits in the Northeast corner of the canyons remains. They already tore apart the last platoon we sent in and are currently duking it out with another Nomad group with bases in the Northwest region, they appear to be winning. The good news is that they don't appear to be using much heavy equipment, their entire battle group was composed of Grizzlies and Thunderbolts when our last platoon fought them, not even a Longbow on the field. I'd say they probably won't be expecting us... if we act quickly."

HyperFighter's eyes narrowed, becoming more intrigued as he zoomed the map back in and highlighted the Nomad group's current territory. "They're collecting more scrap than they're using, they've taken a broad area in the Madness region but they are spread thin, they must be hoarding scrap." He leaned back, scratching his chin as he thought to himself. "Why... and for whom?"

Janice looked uncertainly at Thekla, hoping she had an answer, before looking back to the Grand Admiral and simply shrugging. HF scoffed under his breath, pulling back from the holoboard, and turned back to Thekla. "What do you think we should do, Acolyte?" He inquired, "The battle is yours from here, although I will of course intervene if things get too hot."

She looked up at the battlefield, smirking as the plan unfolded in her mind. "We come around and approach from the East, taking the Northeastern scrap deposits as quickly as possible, then establish a factory and move it into the Northern position, bringing the Recycler in closer when safe. From there, well, I'm thinking Golems." She said, plotting the path with her hand.

"Golems?" HyperFighter said, curiosity in his tone as he cocked one eyebrow.

"The bulk of their offensive force is bombers, so APCs won't be much use, but they don't have a single howitzer on the field as far as we know. The other Nomad force is on it's last legs and lacked much static defense, they'd have had no reason to build more given it's true that they're trying to conserve as much scrap as possible." She said, gesturing with her hands as she spoke. "If we come in with Golems, we'll be able to hold up with what scrap we have while they blindly attack us as they have the other forces. We let them feed us until they're forced to spend money, and then..." She slammed her hand down, mischievous eyes looking at her mentors. "we march right through their front door."

HyperFighter showed signs of the beginning of a smile, looking back at Captain Abrams with a nod. "I'm liking the way you think, Thekla."

"Same here, though I'm unsure if you'll find the scrap to pull this off." Janice said, crossing her arms.

"I wouldn't worry about that," Thekla replied looking intently at the battlefield "in fact, I'd say I'll have more than enough, I just have to convince those other Nomads to share." A sly grin crept across her face as she sat back down, setting her hands down in her lap. "I am a very good negotiator, after all, I have a feeling they'll be happy to send us all the scrap they have."





Impatient fingers tapped the metal desk in sequence, the only sound that could be heard in the room, AI sentry turrets guarding the doorway in silence, their red eyes faintly visible in the darkness. The fingers stopped as the clocks in the room simultaneously changed to read 19:00, and on queue the wall-sized monitor came alive, showing barely more than the silhouette of a vaguely human figure. Vestalis rose from his seat, giving a courteous nod and waited for the figure to speak.

“You have them.” It spoke, it’s tone neither a statement nor a question but it’s meaning mutually understood.

“As promised, the facilities are prepped and ready for transfer to you.” Vestalis responded, his own tone slightly bored, pretending already to grow tired of the conversation.

“A ship will be sent.” It said, it’s voice cacophonous and metallic, like razors being clanged together to create the sound. The lighting gave little hint at the shape of the face, beyond apparently having been partially reconstructed with metal components. It was hard to make out, but Vestalis wondered if the augmentations weren’t manufactured with Biometal, not daring to imagine what such exposure would do to a mind.

The air was starting to become thick, Vestalis eyed the dark outline of the figure for a long moment, waiting for it to speak first, but it did not.

“And what of your end of the bargain, hmm?” Vestalis said, finally, taking on a playfully casual tone, though his smile cracked at the edges. “Are your men prepared to aid me in establishing this great new nation?”

“The SSSR.” It said, eyes flickering briefly against the darkness as it cocked its head, an unseen gaze piercing through Vestalis.

“I… uh, excuse me?”

“The SSSR have a force in the asteroids belt, you did not mention.” The figure more exhaled than said, it’s silvery maw becoming more visible as it leaned back, although the rest of the face was still obscured. “My scouts informed me, will need more resources to fight them.”

“I assure you, I was not aware of their presence here.” Vestalis said, eyeing the floor, his smile dissipating. “Of course, if you need more facilities for your army, it will take time, but we will gladly-”

“No.” It said, cutting him off “We will require more Biometal. You will give us Biometal to fight the SSSR, or we will not ally. You will accept.”

Vestalis straightened his collar, starting to feel a little tight, then looked down at his monitors, nervously checking the recent production and scavenging charts. “We can…” he began, his voice trailing off “I believe we can, offer you 2000 units of Biometal up front, we will of course have more later but-”

“Three thousands.”

“I don’t-” Vestalis swallowed a lump in his throat, the mechanical and inhuman voice of this creature causing his body to react on it’s own, every instinct fighting against him. “I suppose that is reasonable, we will have it ready when your transport arrives.” He said, forcing the words out.

“Acceptable.” The metal voice said, the final syllable forced out like a knife being drawn across a steel plate. “My force will come to fight the SSSR and the rest of the asteroids belt. This is over.”

Without another word the screen went blank, a small icon in the lower right flickering with the alert “signal lost” before shutting down. The lights in the room brightened and Vestalis fell back into his seat, rubbing the bridge of his nose and squeezing his eyes, wondering if this deal was truly to his benefit.

So long as it got him closer to freeing the belt of those insane monks and their self-proclaimed queen, it didn’t matter. The Deus Ex Contingency would fall soon enough, his new Federation of Asteroids ushering in an era of peace.

Peace, Prosperity, and complete dominion over the Earth.





The war machine lumbered out onto the desert sands, it’s pilot observing as the MUF constructed the first of her fleet of walkers, a pair of scavengers contesting for the few scrap deposits they could find. The sun hung low in the martian sky, slowly rising, giving the desert plains a dull red hue under the distinctly orange sky.

It was the only sky she’d ever seen, and it’s warmth gave the fire within her strength.

“Remember, Thekla,” the Grand Admiral’s voice crackled over the radio “we will be here aboard the Illyria to assist you, but only if you need help. These pilots are the best in the Imperium, they can handle themselves, but it is up to you to command them to victory.”

“Understood.” She replied, ordering the MUF and her Golems to follow her once the second was produced. “Recycler, build another Scavenger and a Constructor, all units follow me to the northern geyser site. We’ll be on the edge of enemy territory, do not engage unless engaged.”

“Acknowledged.” Her troop replied in tandem. She had seen how the Imperium operated from a distance, and now was witnessing it from the station of a commander. All the pilots under her command had trained and fought together for years, and it truly showed as they moved into position like clockwork. It wasn’t long before they reached the site, finding a lone turret that one of her Golems quickly dispatched.

“Constructor, build a silo and a supply depot. All Scavengers, resume scrap collection. Factory, deploy and resume Golem production when possible.” She said, chaingunning her orders. On the Factory’s radar there appeared several red dots within range of their position, closing fast.

“We’ve got hostiles.”

“The other Nomad group, they’re looking for scrap.”

“They’ll be giving their own up soon enough.”

As the third Golem stepped out of the Factory’s production bay, they were all struck by a thumper, sending them tumbling off towards the far end of the hill. Two Grizzlies and a Thunderbolt jumped up and began firing on the Factory, as a Razor poked at the freshly built supply depot.

“Gahhh, fire on them as soon as you can! Take out the lead Grizzly!” Thekla screamed into her comm, though the order was redundant, her units were well aware of what to do. Before the Factory even fell into the yellow range, the Golems had steadied, and all three fired on the lead Grizzly, disintegrating it. Thekla steadied her own unit and blasted at the Thunderbolt as it attempted to retreat, the blasts exploding one nacelle and sending the vehicle careening off into the rocks. In a matter of seconds, the force that had attacked was gone, scavengers were already at work and the constructor was rebuilding the supply depot.

Thekla, looked around at the wreckage, a smirk growing across her face. The Nomad force was already on it’s last legs fighting the Mirage Corps, and an attack against an Imperium platoon, even one still preparing its forces, was a grossly miscalculated decision.

KROOM

“Hah, got ‘em.” One of the Golem pilots said, the blast having zipped right by the cockpit of Thekla’s unit. She looked to her right and saw the remains of a pilot falling down to the surface, the fireball from his burst oxygen tank still dissipating.

“Golem 2 my direct orders were not to engage enemy units unless engaged.”

“They did engage us,” he replied, tone careless “no prisoners.”

Thekla’s expression, had he seen it, would’ve made him rethink his decision, but she said nothing. ordering the Factory to keep up production and radioing to the Illyria to order an Armoury built. With the fresh scrap, the force was growing, now six Golem units including Thekla’s own. the radar showed no more red dots in range, but over the hill, she could see NSDF scouts dancing around the centre of the crater. Their hulls had been painted chrome,and seemed to flicker in the morning light, it was clear that these were Mirage Corps.

“We’re certain that these units are a Nomad force?” Thekla radioed to the Illyria.

“Fairly certain.” Captain Abrams responded. “By our records they have had moderate activity on Luna and the Jovian moons but their forces have always been small with no apparent permanent outpost. Why?”

“They look quite well off for a Nomad force, but it’s hard to tell at this distance.” Thekla said, tracking the units with her scope and patching the video feed to the Recycler. “Maybe not, though, they might have just put a fresh coat of paint on 40-year-old sh*t.”

“I see it too.” HyperFighter said “It’s their signature look, makes their units distracting in combat, less prepared pilots could be caught off guard by this. Don’t worry, though, these aren’t any recruits, this is the KILT Squad.”

The way he said it was certainly relieving, his confidence in these men was clear, and from what she had seen so far, well deserved. As the last haul of scrap came in, Thekla ordered her Scavengers back to the Recycler to await further orders. Stepping out to the edge of the hill to look down at the Mirage Corps forces. They seemed hesitant to engage Thekla’s army, and with good reason, but their own was quite impressive: half a dozen Thunderbolts backed by five Grizzlies, one of them clearly a Black Dog unit. Their commander.

“Golems 1 and 2, hold back to defend the MUF. Golems 3 through 7 on my wing, ready on my mark.”

“Ready, commander.”

Thekla looked over her shoulder, seeing the units fall into position behind her, in arrowhead formation. A few red dots danced around the edges of her radar, more of the other Nomad force looking to avenge their fallen comrades, but they quickly zipped away, no desire to fight an Imperium force of any size. She looked ahead, eyes fixed on the Mirage Corps platoon, and gave the order. “Follow me.”

The Imperium walkers marched down the hill, haste in their movements, thunder in their steps as they approached the enemy force. Bombers darted into range to fire and were met with Thekla’s own blast cannons, destroyed by those of her fleet. A lone howitzer began firing mortar shells, poking the walkers, but it was no use. As they passed rocky spire at the centre of the crater, Thekla and the first of her walkers were met with a thumper, Mirage chasing after them, but the other half were unaffected and opened fire as the tanks and bombers charged. The enemy had thought they’d be taking the upper hand in the battle, but as Thekla and the other walkers righted themselves, the tanks quickly found themselves sandwiched.

“Focus on the bombers, the tanks are nothing.” Thekla said, speaking more to herself as she blasted away at the units, in a matter of seconds seeing the entire army ripped apart, ammo cells bursting in the enemy units, spraying fireworks as they died. As the last tank fell, another thumper hit, this one from behind, sending the walkers rolling towards the centre of the crater. Thekla was the first to rise, seeing SP-Stabbers flying towards her, and took aim, striking the enemy commander’s tank right in the barrel, the already damaged unit exploding, the commander jettisoning into the air above them.

“Good shot, Thekla.” HyperFighter’s voice came, as she realized she was still streaming her walker’s video feed to the Illyria.

“I, ah, thank you.”

She fired off several poppers, but the missiles fell to the ground, having found no target in range. Thekla’s eyes were in the sky, scanning for the commander as just then, down from the southern hill, an armada of Scavengers poured out of the enemy base, their eyes set on the scrap heap left behind by the Mirage Corps tanks and bombers.

“They can’t be serious, are they really-”

Before she could finish, the Imperium walkers let loose their blast cannons on the Scavengers as they poured single-file out of the base, each one exploding before it even realized what was coming, the pilots behind them seemingly oblivious. Thekla watched with her hand covering her mouth, a strange mix of horror and hysteria as she watched the units sacrifice themselves pointlessly. It took her a moment to realize, but her Golems were quickly running down their ammo supply, and a tank was coming down from the Mirage Corps base, headed West.

“Golem units, hold position for resupply from Armoury.” She ordered, target locking on the tank and chasing it down, her walker unfortunately much slower than the Grizzly. She opened fire, but the tank managed to slip between the rocks, staying out of range, and she soon realized she’d used up her own ammo supply.

“Do you need assistance, Thekla? You’ve moved quite far from the rest of your forces.” Captain Abrams asked, but Thekla made no response, watching as a single pilot bounded around the corner of a cliff towards the tank, stopping her unit 200 metres from it.

“Oh no you don’t.” She said to herself, ignoring Janice’s confused reply as she popped the hatch on her Golem, lifting herself up and raising her sniper rifle. She took aim just as the commander leaped into the Grizzly, watching his thermal signature move into the command seat and spin around towards her. The Grizzly charged, seeing an opening, and every bone in Thekla’s body told her to back out…

But her breathing became slow, even as the Grizzly fired off a mortar shell, racing straight for her, and with the scope right on the dot, she fired.

As the fireball burst out from the cockpit and the tank nosedived into the sand, she grabbed the handle on her Golem’s top hatch, and pulled it down, slamming it shut just as the mortar hit. The explosion threw her down against the floor of the Golem’s cockpit, her helmet slamming against the steel.

In an instant the world went black.





Light returned, slowly, but shapes were still unrecognizable. Thekla realized she was now laying down, and by the motions of the bed beneath her, she was in a moving vehicle, gently hovering over the sands of Mars as it carried her back to the capital. The blobs within her vision were speaking, their voices slowly becoming clear, as she regained consciousness.

“...successful, reporting the entire region has been cleared of the encroaching forces. From here I would suggest- oh, she seems to be waking up.”

“Well now, glad you’re still with us. You might want to think about your own continued longevity a little more, Acolyte, we can’t have you dying while in our care, it might ruin Imperium relations with the DEC.” A voice said, clearly the Grand Admiral’s though it wasn’t clear until the world became clear again and she saw his face.

“What happened, did we- ow ow ow.” As she tried to sit up, a sharp pain rang through her ribs and she became dizzy, falling back onto the bed. Janice approached and helped raise her up more slowly, putting one of the pillows behind her back, surprisingly comfortable, possible the same as the ones in her room in the capital.

HyperFighter looked at her, his expression unclear, before looking down at a tablet, scrolling through what looked like reports, possibly from KILT Squad members on the battle they had just fought.

“The mission was indeed a success, and while you did take a largely unnecessary risk to take out the enemy commander, it was well worth it.” Captain Abrams said, smiling as she continued to help Thekla get in a comfortable sitting position. “Golem 2, Lieutenant Faraday, took over after you had been knocked out, he saw you escorted back to the Illyria and ensured the rest of the Nomads were cleaned up.” She said, gesturing to a stocky man reviewing some maps on the other side of the room.

He walked over, giving a short salute before lowering his hand to greet Thekla “Lieutenant Charles Faraday, your majesty, you should be pleased to hear we were able to finish off the rest of the Nomad base without issue. We took no prisoners.”

Thekla moved to shake his hand, smiling at first, but her expression dissipated as she processed what he had just said. “You killed them all?” Thekla said, shocked “Their commander was dead, surely they were ready to accept terms of surrender.”

“There is only one term of surrender.” He said, looking surprised and confused “Death.”

Thekla slid back in her seat, then glared at the Grand Admiral, demanding explanation.

“Get your rest,” He said, sitting up and looking away, gesturing for the others to leave as well “we’ll be at the capital soon, you have passed your test.”

He walked towards the door, seeing the others out of the room, head held slightly lower than normal “Welcome to the Imperium, Acolyte.”


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 Post subject: Re: The Battlezone Chronicles
PostPosted: January 4th, 2016, 8:31 pm 
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26 September 2014

This is INN anchor Jane Robinson giving you up to date news of space and space affairs.

Today we have news correspondent Wayne Kent, reporting live from the Olympus Mons Memorial Site, where thousands of soldiers have gathered in memory of the millions lost in the Zook invasion that occurred one year ago today. Wayne?

“We’re here, Jane, and as you can see, the whole mood is very somber around here. Forces from the Martian 9th have been out all morning to help manage the ever-increasing volume of troops coming to pay their respects to those who fell. If you look over here, a lot of men are gathering by the huge wall where the names of all dead and missing Imperium are listed, looking for their comrades and loved ones. May be hard to see because of everyone crowding around it.”

Yeah, we can barely see the wall from here Wayne, is it possible to get a closer look without losing you in the crowd?

“I doubt it, the soldiers we talked to have been very persistent in trying to get close to the wall. Keep in mind that when the memorial was set up, the Imperium was still in the midst of clean-up operations all around Tharsis. Others had to return to their posts on the other Imperium core worlds, and whole armies had to be re-mobilized for any retaliatory attack from Faner. Even though it’s been a year, quite a few of these men are seeing their comrades’ names for the first time here, and there have been plenty of teary eyes to see.”

I can understand, I’m sure everyone here lost someone close to them in the fighting. I lost a number of fine officers during the offensive to divide the Zooks into smaller pockets. Sure did feel good to wipe that disgusting breed off the face of the planet…

Anyway, thanks for the coverage Wayne, try not to get trampled by the crowds.

“Thanks Jane, this is Wayne Kent, INN.”

Tomorrow night we will be having a live event where we bring in soldiers from all over the Imperium who want to share their stories fighting the Zooks during the Second Bzooka War. Those who were unable to make it to our show are more than welcome to send us a message telling their story and we’ll recite it on the news.

On the 28th, General Bronislav is expected to speak at the Memorial Site in observance of the Battle of Olympus Mons, his army in particular took the heaviest casualties during the Zook Invasion, making up 58% of all Imperium dead in the fighting. Numerous divisions of the Martian 1st Army were destroyed in the Zook push, many caught by complete surprise as the hordes dropped upon them from orbit. Of course, our hearts go out to those who are still in mourning, and we’d like you to know that those of us in the INN, as well as everyone in the Imperium, are with you.

Our next story takes us to a slight panic that occurred on the set of General Kharkov’s famous “Cooking with Kharkov” when one of the taste-testers became suddenly ill after trying the General’s new “Red Devil Steak”. The young scientist Dr. Jacqueline Eleanor, apparently collapsed shortly after trying the steak, which was prepared by the general with the help of the episode’s guest assistant chef Sargent Valeriy Kosov of the Martian 2nd. A brief investigation revealed that the doctor had neglected to ensure that the steak was thoroughly cleaned before preparation, and in addition was cooked at its optimum temperature. General Kharkov immediately disciplined the officer for the mistake, and has been unavailable for comment. Dr. Eleanor was sent to Ares Hospital, and our sources say that she is in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery.

We do have good news for our recreational activists. The Adrestia has confirmed that Lemnos’s Arc Gully Circuit Race will be occurring as scheduled. This will be the first major Imperium race since it was temporarily suspended last year due to the RE incursion in the Sol System. We’ve already heard that a number of individuals plan on participating in this year’s race, and it’s bound to be a festive occasion. Elements of the Martian 3rd have offered to standby as security for the race, as the Lemnos volcano is by the edge of Tharsis and could potentially be targeted by a nomad attack. The current date of the race is set for the 9th of October.

That’s all for INN, this is news anchor Jane Robinson. We now return you to your regularly unscheduled programming.




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 Post subject: Re: The Battlezone Chronicles
PostPosted: January 17th, 2016, 1:27 am 
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Location: U.S.S.R.
September 29, 2014, 1900 Northern Io Outpost, Io.


The last patrol returned from a fruitless day as the third patrol of the night left. Kombrig Piip stared out of barracks. It had been weeks since the last contact with Cothonian troops. Sure, expanding Soviet influence on Io was good and all, but the amount of work the Premier had ordered for the regiment was crazy. Patrolling day and night for an enemy that wasn’t even there; what had gotten into the Premier? The fight was over, Io was Red. It was only a matter of time before Soviet colonists would open the planet for foreign settlers in the name of communism. The Kombrig was in no place to question orders though; may as well enjoy the peace even if they didn’t act like it.

“Comrade Kombrig, message from Omsk. All officers have been recalled to Omsk for an emergency meeting.”

“The Premier?”

“It seems so. The soldiers will continue their mission while you’re away.”

“Good, keep at it Comrade Babayev.”

Piip, exhausted from a long day of nothing jumped into his Czar and drove south.
Popov went back to the communication’s tower to see all the radio operators staring at a screen. A pointer’s Grendel had fallen off a small ridge to the far north, near the lava bank. This small area had not been patrolled, but there were good reasons for it. There was no easy way up from or down to the lava bank. Radar had detected nothing in the area, anyway. However, everyone wanted to see just what was down there.

“I repeat, my sensors say its 11 days old.”

“But how could we have missed something like this?”

Popov approached the operators. Before she could ask what was going on, she saw it on the screen.




1800, Katyusha District, Pluto


“Communications have been fixed, Comrade Komandarm!”

“Good, send word to Io: Intense fighting in the Moscow District. Unknown hostiles, small number. Immense damage in the District. Tkachenko leading 19th Stalingrad Division to suppress hostiles. Over.”

Glebov sat in disk, surrounded by broken pencils. He didn’t have the reflex to fight on the streets of the Moscow District, but he certainly had the rage for it. Pluto hadn’t seen combat in, well, ever according to records. There really wasn’t much there to fight for. Of course, this made Pluto the least expected place to attack.

Soldiers marched in and out, columns of CCA equipment drove by, the sounds of fighting echoed throughout the entire planet. The war had caught up.




The bodies flew as the Thunderbolt’s rockets smashed the deployed APC. Soldiers sprayed chainguns from the nearby buildings at the hostiles on the street. If Pluto had any high amount of oxygen, the city would’ve burned to the ground through combustion. 3 Czars zoomed past the wreckage of a Golem.

“Unleashing thumper, go after that Thunderbolt!” Tkachenko yelled through his radio. The Thunderbolt had the advantage fighting in a narrow alley, but not when it was rolling through the air. The AT-Stabbers penetrated the Thunderbolt’s engine. The pilot never ejected.

“Comrade Komdiv, the hostiles have reached the Politburo building. All members have already been evacuated but they are ransacking the area.”

The Politburo building, in a nation where everything looked ordinary, was the one building that stood out. It stood at the center of the Moscow District, the center of government, the center of the Party. The building was big, big enough to fit serious equipment in.

“We’ll cut them off there, order all nearby to stand their ground on the outlying streets. We need to regather our forces and attack from all sides. 19th, prepare for encirclement!”

Tkachenko drove to the southern alley. Tugs went back and forth, trying to clear wreckage in order to increase the surface area for assault.

“This is Komdiv Tkachenko, requesting for permission to assault.”

“Tkachenko, what kind of equipment do you plan on using in this assault?”

“Everything the 19th has at its disposal. I trust you would let me do whatever it takes to get the job done. What would your Premier say?”

There was silence for a few seconds.

“The Premier would want prisoners, and that’s what I want too. No heavy artillery or bombers.”
“If you say so, Komandarm.”

The Golems went in first, firing their blast cannons at the walls the hostile Grizzlies used as cover. Several Grizzlies went down, but no pilots ejected. Troops flooded through the large openings in the walls. Soldiers stormed up the staircases to find a razor had snuck up there before gunning down 4 soldiers. Tkachenko’s Czar busted into the chamber. His thumper destroyed whatever chairs were left in the room. Flankers rushed in to quell the resistance. The roof was blown up by a Thunderbolt, but only SSSR pilots would fly threw it. The hostiles didn’t even try to retreat; they fought till their last blood was spilled. A Thunderbolt rampaged down the hall, bombing walls and caving in rooms, crushing poor SSSR troops. Within about 20 minutes of first entry, the fighting had stopped.

“Komandarm, all targets neutralized.”

“What about the prisoners?”

“None of them ejected, and none of them refused to stop fighting.”

“Argh, have your troops clear up the wreckage. I’ll get to the bottom of this.”

“Maybe you can finally bring that Premier back from his vacation.”




Omsk was quiet. The city was bustling after the victory, but now no one was out on the streets. Piip had only been gone for about a month and in that month nothing major had happened. Piip drove up to the HQ, got out of his Czar, and marched into the Premier’s office. The room was filled with the yells of angry Slavic men.

“We’re going back! That planet is still our current home, not this lava pool!”

“They must’ve came from Charon! It’s time to bring the moon back under our firm control!”

“What if it was just a diversion for them to reconquer Io? We won this world fair and square. We can’t leave.”

The Premier sat at his desk in silence, watching the officers yell. Piip looked at the screen, horrified at the sight of Politburo building. It didn’t take long for Piip to understand what had happened. A radio operator handed a report to the Premier.

“Alright, alright, enough yelling. We’ve received word from the record office. The emblems match the record of a special regiment from Cothonian’s forces. This special regiment was apparently under Crysis. There is no proof that Crysis himself or any notable leader was on Pluto. I will stick to my language and continue to say this was just a raid.”

“So it was Cothonian and his ranks! Why have we not forced those neutral nations to open their borders for SSSR checks for these scum?”

“It’d seem so, but it seems odd that he’d use his elite troops for a suicide mission. These nations, while not sympathetic towards Cothonian’s cause, do not what to get involved, according to our diplomats. We also have no idea where the ship that transported the raider came from. All we know is that it did not come from Charon.”

“Premier, regardless of how where these troops came from, Pluto is a target for them. We lost hundreds because of our lack of readiness. We need to send more men back there. If Io falls again then the Imperium will likely step back in.”

“I am not abandoning Io. We’ve invested far too many resources to pull back now. However, I’ve decided that I should head home for at least a while. While I’m gone, Komandarm Kalinin will be in charge. Anyone else that wants to go back may go back, but I believe that they’ll really want to hit here. Pluto’s raid was likely some kind of diversion.”

Several officers grunted in approval for the plan and explanation. A few of them turned out of the room to pack their bags and recall their troops to send them home. But the majority sought to stay, they were adventurous enough to leave Pluto and their fun wasn’t done yet. Before the meeting was adjourned, Simmdc had one more thing to say.

“I’d also like to remind all of you that we’re still one united party. I don’t want there to be any issues here when I’m gone. I already know some of the things they’ve been saying about me back on Pluto. Keep discipline and moral high and the Party will thrive. Now do what you believe you must do.”

Piip left to his Czar. Perhaps one last drive around Omsk before he would go back and tell his men and women that they’d be going home. He noticed that he had a message from Popov. The message only read :

RETURN TO OUTPOST IMMEDIATELY

Piip, puzzled by the cryptic message, decided against doing one last tour around Omsk and sped back to base.




Piip returned to the outpost. Though it was their bedtime, every soldier was out and armed. They had way too much energy. The communication’s tower was even more of a mess, but it felt like everything was centered on the screen.

“An entire NSDF platoon of unknown origin found up dead by the lavafields of Io. This can’t be too confusing.”

“But Comrade, these men died a few days ago, and we didn’t notice a thing. Not to mention we have no idea who did it.”

“Sounds like someone strong, perhaps some Imperium troops came by and massacred another nomad group.”

Popov paused

“Comrade Kombrig, I don’t think your hypothesis is correct.”

“And why is that, Comrade Popov?

Popov’s tone got darker.

“Only a few of us were told, but the platoon leader found something else in the wreckage.”

“Well, spit it out.”

“They… they found SSSR troops, dead.”

“So, this is next to the lava field, perhaps some suits got lucky.”

Popov was shaking.

“They’ve been dead as long as those NSDF troops, Kombrig. But… they were dead in a line, execution style.”

Piip stared at the screen. Behind that fallen NSDF Thunderbolt was the scene of a crime against humanity.

“… Do we have exact identification as to who did this?”

“Yes, these men were supposedly taken prisoner by Cothonian forces. But this work is not typical of Cothonian’s standard forces. The forces were very fast if they could wipe out an entire nomadic group without many casualties and before we would notice. Perhaps an elite force from Cothonian, but why here?”

“Gah, the Premier chose the perfect time to leave. We have to put our faith in Komandarm Kalinin. Get an APC, we’re checking this site out ourselves.”

“Yes Comrade!”

Popov marched to the weapons storage and took out a plasma gun and a sniper rifle. A radio operator grabbed her arm.

“Comrade Podpolkovnik, we have more information from the platoon. They’re done a recount of the casualties and they’ve found something disturbing. There are less bodies in the area then there are ships.”

“So? They probably ejected and burned in the lava.”

“Upon close inspection, many of the pilots didn’t eject themselves from their ships. There isn’t even a significant amount of blood from these ships.”

“What exactly does this mean?”

“I don’t know, but the captain has a scary theory.”

“What is it?”

“He thinks that the old pilots were pulled out of the wreckage by hand, not absorbed by the Furies, but taken as seemingly prisoner.”

“If they wanted to take prisoners why would they kill ours?”

“The soldiers looked like they had been tortured before hand. They had many wounds on their head and were believed to be in a poor mental state during their execution.”

“Wait, does this mean… No…”

“If the captain’s theory is right, there is some kind of testing going on, but we don’t know for what.”




September 30, 1100 2014

The Czars raced forward into the clearing. Between them and the enemy howitzers was a platoon full of Grizzlies and Thunderbolts. The howitzers had been bombarding the scavengers for days, seemingly trying to force a battle.

“Bring that Golem forward!”

The two forces smashed each other. A Czar exploded just above one of the Thunderbolts. The SSSR artillery was quickly pounded. Vavilov targeted the leader of the opposing platoon and rushed in with his SP-Stabbers, ejecting the commander. Vavilov’s tank was suddenly sent flying by a Thunderbolt’s rockets. Vavilov tore off his seatbelt and jumped out of the Czar, faceplanting into the cold ground. The Golem picked apart the DEC forces, but it wasn’t quick enough to save most of the platoon. When the dust cleared, only 2 Czars remained, a quarter of the platoon. The DEC forces retreated.

“Take out those howitzers!”

The Czars moved forward, damaged but functional, destroying the howitzers.

“Komandarm! Are you alright?”

“Yes yes, don’t worry about me, what about the platoon?”

“Casualties were high. The fight was confusion. Only 2 pilots of the 7 ships destroyed managed to eject and live.”

“Dammit, they wanted us to fight and now they got one. Was that all they really had?”

“I don’t know, Komandarm, I’m sending a Czar to your location now. Upgrades will also be incoming.”

Vavilov jumped into his new Czar. With a fresh batch of units arriving, the area would be secure for scrap collection.

“We have more hostiles on radar, Komandarm.”

“Great, let’s give them a warm welcome.”

Vavilov launched the first strike. He went around the DEC forces and hit them on the flank while the rest of his units charged head on. However, the Golem didn’t have enough ammo left to continue giving support. Quickly, the situation turned back to chaos, but this time in the DEC’s favor. Quickly, it was just Vavilov left to fight.

“****, make another tank, I’m ejecting out of this one.”

The DEC Grizzlies quickly struck the scavengers, destroying about half of them. The silo collapsed. Vavilov hopped into a new tank and taking advantage of the buildings in the area defeated the few remaining DEC forces.

“So that’s what they had up their sleeve.”

“Komandarm, we can’t take so many loses, a dozen men is a dozen men too many.”

“I know, let’s just clear up these guys one last time and we’re getting out of this region.”

This time two Golems were brought up. They lead the assault on the DEC’s new scrap silo. This time, there weren’t mistakes. The DEC forces retreated rather than fighting another open battle.

“Good job comrades, let’s gather this scrap and get out of here!”

“Another great victory Komandarm. Our work must be almost done. Even they don’t want to fight direct battles anymore.”

“Don’t get overconfident, Comrade. The fight’s over when the Premier says it’s over.”

“Of course, Kom- Hostile units coming from the northern entrance!”

“What? We’re not going to get there in time, send the Recycler south. We’ll cut off the DEC before they reach it.”

“Komandarm, these don’t appear to be of DEC origin.”

“Wha-“

They came out of nowhere, Grizzlies, APCs and Wolverines. They were fast, and they were aggressive.

“Steady Comrades! Give them all you’ve got”

A thumper suddenly shook Vavilov’s Czar to its side. He couldn’t see anything but he could hear the screams of his men. When he got back in control, he saw a dual SP-Grizzly ripping apart his tank. Before the Czar blew up, the enemy commander let out an MDM.



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 Post subject: Re: The Battlezone Chronicles
PostPosted: January 22nd, 2016, 5:08 am 
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Posts: 758
Location: The fine locale of Canuckville Canada.
October 3, Mars


Alone, she stood against the far wall of the hallway, the upper half of her concealed in shadow as the sun slowly marched higher into the martian sky. On the brim of the horizon she spied Imperium ships taking off, no doubt to harvest more Nomad forces. She stared the ships down, trying to burst them apart with her mind, to little if any avail, and as they disappeared from view she resumed simply waiting, curious if the Grand Admiral would wander down this remote corner of his city as he had done before, brooding as she planned out how she would confront him.

He walked silently down the hall at a leisurely pace. His eyes looking in front of him, but weren't focused on anything in particular. His hands firmly held the back of his cape, fiddling with them in his hands, his mind lost in thought. There was that nagging feeling on the back of his mind. Was it concern over the kind of damage he could cause, or was it the burning desire to see him die by his hands? He gripped his cape tighter as he wracked his brain over the potential scenarios, plotting the steps he could take to have his satisfaction, when he finally noticed a figure stand out from under the foliage of the hall. He snapped out of his trance, releasing his cape and focused on the figure before him. "Acolyte?"

Her eyes widened, then narrowed as she turned to face him, arms folded across her chest. "Surprised to see me, Grand Admiral?" She asked, her tone pleasant but her expression not belying her true intent with the question.

"I often come here to think, you know, the view helps relax my nerves as I think about my home, my future, the consequences of my actions. The beauty of Mars, the god of war, really helps one to think about those things, don't you agree?"

He could immediately tell that her mood wasn't friendly. He was tempted to cut straight to the chase, but part of him decided to play along, if only to see how this go. "Yeah, tends to be the reason why I like to walk through here. It's one of those few places where you can find yourself some privacy to figure things out. I take it you were pondering things just now?"

"Mhmm" She hummed in acknowledgement, looking away from him to resume trying to make ships explode with her thoughts. "It really is a warm welcome the Imperium has given me, your soldiers have treated me with far more respect than is truly necessary for a mere diplomat. The INN especially, I was... quite shocked when I awoke to see my face on the news, a shot of me piloting that Golem, no less." Her eyes flashed at him, contempt clearly visible.

"They've taken to calling me the 'Warlord of Ceres', one of the KILT Squad, that Lieutenant Faraday, was interviewed." She said, her voice now relaxing as she bent her head down and rubbed her eyes. "Seems you're all quite proud that I managed to take the lives of a handful of vagabonds fighting over a scant few scrap deposits. 'No prisoners' as per the Imperium norm, every one of them dead, congratu-f*cking-lations, Thekla."

She looked away, holding the side of her chin with one hand, as if to force herself not to look in the Grand Admiral's direction.

"The troops...", He sighed, getting an inkling about what this may be about, "they appreciate those who can fight, and fight well. It was your first operation alone, and you performed well. Those under your command told me of how you led them, and were mostly satisfied. The INN, the vultures that they are, naturally would find out about this and try to make a story of it."

"On another note..." he continued, crossing his arms, "you seem to have a problem with the Imperium norm. I know the first kills aren't always the easiest, but it's something that becomes second-nature after some experience. They are trying to kill you, you know."

"Oh yes, as they saw their commander lying dead across the sand by my own bullet and raised their white flags they certainly were looking to continue the fight." She hissed, glaring back at him for a second.

She sighed, leaning her head back, relaxing her arms. "But I suppose this is all so hypocritical of me to judge your soldiers when my civilians are busy ripping each other apart over a dispute of politics."

She gazed out over the horizon and found it's beauty lacking, the filtered air she breathed felt caustic and her anger with the Imperium seemed small compared to the greater troubles on the horizon.

"Of all the DEC's champions, of all the Bobcat Betty's and Captain Eli's, I am expected to represent the standard held above them all, the pillar of my nation." She said, now solemn. "Just as Zevs Paternus and Tisyphys Nexus, and all the Chthonian leaders who came before them, for the DEC I am expected to be groomed to become a brilliant scientist, leader, and tactician."

She looked back at the Grand Admiral, eyes on the verge of tears. "And above all else a conduit between my people and the Mother Goddess. I don't think I can bear this burden."

He sighed, uncrossing his arms. "As long as you keep thinking you can't bear the burden, you'll never be able to do it. You'll end up stressed out and panicked every day and eat away at yourself until there is nothing left, and by that point you won't be able to bear anything. Science can be learned in a book. Leadership and tactics, however, while they can write books on the subjects, you won't really understand them until application. Leading platoons in battle is a good way to actually feel out whatever strategies a book or teacher tells you about, allows you to better understand it and apply it, which allows you to be able to bear big burdens. It helped in my case."

He looked down towards the floor, thinking to himself a bit before rousing himself from entering another trance. He slowly walked forward, standing next to Thekla, looking up towards the ships of his empire as they take off. "I know the no-prisoners order isn't something you're used to, but for us in the Imperium, it means our determination to prevent potential disasters. Those men you say were raising their white flags? Say we took them prisoner, held them a few days before sending them off to Luna to be released. In a matter of weeks they'd be back here again, and the same platoons will come to fight them again. Maybe those guys will stick together, maybe they'll split off into other platoons. The fact of the matter is that they'll come back. It's always been like that."

"Now imagine what would happen if we released someone who actually had the capability to lead an army to power, someone who could cause real damage.” The Grand Admiral said, avoiding eye contact “Such a person could be lying in wait anywhere, be anyone. 10 years ago no one would think a 15 year old kid would consolidate an interstellar empire with legions of clones under his command, and to think he started out as a mere child soldier in the Imperial Army. There could be someone like that out there, and they could destroy everything we've built here, just to serve their own ends." He paused, breathing heavily as he clenched his fists. "We've already taken severe damage from two bastards who managed to get away from our guns. No way in hell am I allowing another opening that will lead to pain later."

Thekla stood back, mouth open, speechless, staring into the eyes of this man who'd clearly seen more loss in his life than soldiers twice his age. She looked down at the floor as if searching for words, before she finally was able to speak again. "I understand the necessity of it," she said, nervously covering her mouth "but I just don't think that I'm the right person to do what I've been asked to do."

She looked at him, trying to find some part in him that understood how she felt. "I don't think I want to."

Thekla fidgeted with her collar, walking away from the wall towards the window, turning back to HyperFighter with concern in her eyes. "If I became the leader everyone expects me to be, I fear I would lose myself. How does a person cope with this, this life of constant death?"

He unclenched his fists, becoming more relaxed seeing the uncertainty in her face. " It's not easy, young acolyte. For me I don't focus too much on the losses. I find that hurts decision-making and can put you in a downward spiral. You've expressed desire to protect your people however possible. Remember that every time you're in the battlefield, every time you sign a war declaration, and every time you order someone's death. All the decisions you make are for the sake of protecting your followers."

"Also, remember that there are more things than just fighting up here in the cosmos.” HyperFighter said, cracking a smile “This is the final frontier, and as space pioneers we do have a requirement to explore and research the worlds around us. When we met you seemed almost in awe of the world around you."

Thekla blushed, simply nodding and looking down at the floor.

"I know that feeling, I felt the same when I first came into space, and it's something that only grows when you take a closer look, ignoring the bloodshed. Hell, Thompson was talking to some of the generals about a series of new discoveries near the Lemnos ruins."

She smiled back at him, her eyes brightening at the thought of her visit to the Lemnos ruins. "I suppose it does help to stop and smell the roses, as it were. I am interested in the race being held in the gullies there."

Straightening herself, she took a step towards the Grand Admiral, shaking her head. "We keep meeting like this and people will begin to talk, no? I hope those INN 'vultures' never stick there nose around here." She said, placing one hand on her chin. "You don't suppose it's too late to sign up for that race, do you? I've been flying my entire life, I wouldn't mind giving it a shot."

He couldn't help but give a slight laugh at the thought. "Heh, the INN knows better than to try a pick a scoop from me. We can probably call a few people and get you signed up immediately. You will need a vehicle, but I think one of Abrams's platoons would be more than happy to help you out there."

"You're planet has been full of surprises, Grand Admiral." She said, drying some moisture from her eye, then returning the apparent warm expression on his face. At once she felt embarrassed, wondering how this conversation had felt from his perspective, and tried to think of something more to say. "I'd say it's assured that relations with the Imperium will remain strong under my rule of the DEC. Ah, thank you for your time, HyperFighter, I suppose I should probably be off."

He crossed his arms once more, however taking a more relaxed composure. "Probably, you'll have a lot to preparation to do for the race. Best of luck in the competition, and good to know that relations will remain strong." Without further words, the Grand Admiral casually walked away, continuing down the path he was walking.

Thekla watched him for a moment, awkwardly adjusting the brim of her shirt before heading off in the opposite direction.





October 4, Ceres Orbit


“The situation out here can’t be sustained any longer, the invading nomads have been pushed into a remote corner of the colony but rebel groups are steadily growing in size, if we don’t receive reinforcements soon, we’ll be forced to take what we can and abandon the colony.”

Hygiealis’ solemn face stared into Daniels’, seemingly devoid of hope but still held firm. Something in his eyes felt accusatory, or possibly regretful, Daniels couldn’t tell much beyond the fact it was a disconcerting look on the man.

“You know I want to act.” Daniels said, looking down briefly “but the second we make our move we leave Ceres open to attack.”

“This is still about Vestalis, isn’t it?”

“Is there any point in asking?”

“Sweet goddess almighty, if we lose Hygiea we lose everything.” The man said, the occasional flash of static disrupting the message.

“We start killing our own people then what does it even matter?” Daniels shot back, rubbing his tired eyes as sharp pangs ran through his head, his lack of sleep having brought on a near-constant migraine.

“We are readying a response to the rebellion,” Daniels said, tapping at the stack of files on his desk with one hand. “As soon as a working Havoc Cannon is complete, we’re loading it onto a transport and sending it to Hygiea along with three platoons, give us two days and it’ll be on its way.”

“I’ll hold you to that, Vestalis’ forces are on their way to respond to the rebel forces but we aren’t going to hold out for long, they’ve been targeting our Recyclers something fierce, one of the rebels, possibly the commander, has taken out four of them already. Commander Zoe Lynx is doing what she can but has been sustaining heavy losses on all fronts, could use backup from that sister of hers.”

“Commander Betty’s AWOL, been missing for weeks now.”

“What?”

“All I can tell you is she took a ship and 5 of my best pilots with her, Goddess only knows where she is now.”





October 5, Mars


“...and this is the beast herself. Had my engineering team cook this up from an old Mk II we had lying around, I’d think it should suit you well enough for the race.”

The tarp fell to Captain Abrams’ feet revealing the sleek Mk III-R Flanker. The polished azure hull with gold and white stripes across the wings was a striking look for the vehicle, on top of the fact that the entire thing had been streamlined for optimal aerodynamics, an emphasis on speed over strength. Speechless for a long moment, Thekla simply stared at the craft, Janice looking on the young Acolyte with a sense of pride.

“Wow,” She finally uttered, amazed that the craft had been thrown together so quickly. “Work this good would have quite the price-tag back home… how much did it cost to make this?”

“Uhhh, 5 scrap?” The captain said, shooting Thekla a cocky smile in response to the brief flash of confusion. “We've reduced the weight of the armour quite a bit and improve the thrusters, it’s up to the racing standard. 1250 hull, 45m/s acceleration, 35 while strafing, turns on a dime. The Grand Admiral gave us the order to make something that would impress you, I’d say my engineers did just that.”

“I, ah, yes, they certainly have.” Thekla said, glaring back at Janice but still smiling. “How soon can I give this thing a test drive? I’m still getting used to how hover vehicles handle.”

“How soon? She’s flight ready right now.” Janice said, tabbing the maglock release on the nearby panel. “I’m a bit surprised you’re not insisting on any modifications, that Commander Betty sure had… opinions on the designs of these ships.”

“Many in the DEC do, they are relics of an older war to us, a war we had direct part in.” Thekla said, approaching the vehicle and placing her hand on it. “We had to adapt to survive, out in the Oort cloud, older generations still talk about the initial hardships. The exile forced us to create entirely new technologies and vehicles if we were to thrive, if our new culture was to live on to see our home once again. The fact that these designs have survived as long as they have is a testament to the genius of minds like Arkin and Chestikov, we sought to emulate that in continuing to move forward rather than linger on ideas of the past.”

“To me, though,” the acolyte said, climbing onto the wing and popping the hatch. “a vehicle like this is a classic worth keeping around.”

“Hah, at least one of you can see the forest for the trees.”

“Indeed… I have never understood that expression.”

“Me neither.” the captain said, cocking an eyebrow and looking down at the floor panels.

“Mmmmeehehehe” Thekla giggle as she sat back in the unit, sealing her helmet. “Oh this is so very, very benji. I’ll meet you outside, Captain Abrams, I’m gonna find out just how fast this thing can fly.”

Captain Abrams stepped aside, a sense of accomplishment on her face as she watched the still rather fresh Flanker pilot zip awkwardly of of the hangar pad and through the airlock, nearly bumping over some supply crates.

“Sorry! Sorry!” Came a worried crackle over her radio.

Janice shook her head, keeping back some laughter as she headed over to her Czar “Right behind you, Acolyte.”





October 6, Location Unknown


Dark fog rolled over war-torn hills as the commander looked out over the ruins of foolhardy Grizzly tanks and APCs, a pilot frantically clawing his way out of his downed vehicle only for his enemy to walk up and plant a few minigun rounds in the back of his helmet. On the horizon, a solitary dark tower watched over it all, barely visible through the commander's SITE camera as she stood on the rim of the blood-soaked valley.

“We’re almost there,” She hissed, gesturing for her soldiers to return to their vehicles. “Let’s get what we came for and be done with this f*ckin’ rock.”


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 Post subject: Re: The Battlezone Chronicles
PostPosted: January 22nd, 2016, 6:20 am 
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Joined: December 19th, 2008, 9:19 pm
Posts: 2593
Location: Mars
8 October 2014

Over the years I’ve been tasked with many dangerous jobs. Been put deep in space, in debris fields, and in active combat zones. Each time required a different set of skills: Stealth, tactical awareness, disguise, or a good aim. Some close calls, but the sweet rewards were always worth it. Vesta’s missions were never too wild, too suicidal, and his compensation was always worth it.

But now this guy has me infiltrating the angriest hive in space in order to get that honey, a hive that’s practically colored in the blood of those who came before me. Nonetheless, a job is a job, and this one could go a long way in keeping things going our way. The compensation isn’t anything to snuff at either.

There’s always a plan to these kinds of jobs, and luckily Vesta’s had sources that gave plenty of useful info to pull this off. The easy part was getting to the surface. I came in with a small group of nomads that have many years experience fightin’ Martians and strong desires to hurt them any way possible. Once on the surface, they quickly started making a ruckus, taking out a few nearby nomad compounds, taking what resources and scrap they had assembled. Of course, the Martians, never a fan of letting anyone hunt on their turf, showed up not long after, and I got my first taste of Imperium guns. Phase One began.

I took my position on the top of one of the many peaks in the area, and watched as my allies got to work. True to form, those Martians put up a fight. My friends down there were quickly being pounded by artillery while dealing with small packs of grizzlies in the low-ground. Experience showed though, these boys were keeping the Martians back long enough for gun towers to be established, and with their completion the artillery was the only worry. However, that problem soon solved itself. To the northwest of our position was another nomad group, and from whoever they were they weren’t green troops. They immediately engaged the Martian positions, and the artillery shells that hammered us focused on this new force. That was our chance.

Getting in my Grizzly, I was joined by a team of thunderbolts, grizzlies, and razors. While the Martians were occupied with the other force, I led this strike team behind enemy lines through the system of canyons, finally leading to where the Martians set up their producers. They never saw it coming. The bombers fired first, taking out what little defenses the producers had to protect them. The grizzlies covered my flank as I made my way to the other entrance to the geyser spot hopping out of my ship and taking position right in front of the entrance’s dropoff to the valley. The thunderbolts took care of the Martian machinery and I took out my sniper rifle, lying in wait. In a few minutes, my prey arrived. A smoking APC, two razors, and a grizzly in yellow hull at the front, most likely the fuming commander heading for revenge. I sent the grizzlies to take out the wingmen, while I took a steady aim at the commander. He was fuming, shooting wildly at me. One shot, too easy. It was time for Phase Two.

I commandeered the Martian tank, requesting a repair and re-arm from our armory, and began salvaging the area for any useful supplies and information. Martian corpses were all around, and we gathered each one to be inspected. This phase required a suitable look-a-like to myself who would be the perfect cover for me as I work my way inside the Martian hierarchy. From there, it’d be easy enough to get myself anywhere I needed. Eventually, I found a suitable match, and lo’ and behold the winner was a 2nd lieutenant. Just high enough to get around without too much attention, courtesy of a young Eugene Graves, much obliged.

My friends used their constructor to set up a small field barracks in the former Martian base, where we spent the rest of the second day consolidating the fruits of our labor. The Martian’s suit didn’t appear damaged, young Graves apparently died from severe trauma instead of the suit being compromised. Getting into character, I donned Graves’s suit, it fitting quite nicely, and shaded my skin’s color in the same reddish tint of the Martians. Kinda funny, for a people that genetically colors themselves to prevent spies, the solution to that problem is rather simple.

By the third day, everything was in order. My newly acquired Grizzly had been packed to the brim with supplies, some extra food and other necessities were strapped to the outside of the barrel, wings and otherwise. The inside of the cockpit was a tight fit, but there wasn’t time to complain. It wouldn’t be long before the Martians returned in force, and a second engagement ain’t part of the job.

Phase Three began. Those nomads and I went our seperate ways, them being content to stick around for the next wave of Martians to show up. I headed west, taking the canyon route that got closest to the Tharsis region of the planet, where the Martians gather en masse. The goal from here was to avoid detection until I reached one of the many outer bases that line the Tharsis border. From there, my acquired credentials should give me access into the heart of the Imperium long enough to find my target, but the journey proved troublesome. According to Vesta’s info, the canyon systems would have relatively light patrols going through them provided there were no nomad movements in the area. I got lucky a few times to spot the radar signatures of passing nomad groups before they noticed me. The caves in the sides of some canyons proved to be enough to shield me, but, as expected, the Martians quickly flocked to slaughter their new prey. My route became more perilous as I spent days working around nomad platoons and their Martian hunters, often being forced to backtrack and find alternate routes through the maze of passes. Small nomad scouts would sometimes catch me by surprise, but a bullet in their noggins would shut ‘em up. As for the Martian patrols that stopped me… well they thought I was Eugene Graves. The whole ‘broken long-range transmitter and last survivor shtick’ worked well to ease any suspicion they had of me. I like to think that gave them a little peace of mind before I shot a hole in their visors. Any supplies they left behind would be a welcome donation for the cause, of course.

I think it was already October when I finally made it out of the canyons and could see the silhouettes of gun towers, satellite towers, and other structures in the distance. Most of my supplies had run out, and there wasn’t much ammo left for my sniper rifle. I think my body was feeling the stresses of the travel too, some nights I had random bouts of nausea, others had headaches, but the sight of that base brought an odd feeling of relief. To think that you could be overjoyed at reaching an enemy’s base, an enemy like the Martians no less. Now for Phase Four.

I was not immediately fired upon, the radar signature for my Grizzly still sending out a friendly signal to the base. The soldiers on duty took me inside one of their barracks for a debriefing. I tried to avoid anyone getting too good a look at me, but nobody looked skeptical. My story seemed sound too, ‘My whole platoon was ambushed by multiple nomads in the canyons. I was the sole survivor, and managed to get out with a damaged Grizzly and scavenged supplies from the wastes,’ or at least as sound as I could make it. The commanding officer seemed to accept it and I was placed in one of the housing barracks to recuperate before probably being re-assigned to a new platoon. I didn’t mind, this was far more relaxing than a crowded cockpit, and minus those damned headaches, I slept soundly. Infiltration successful. Phase Five would begin the next morning.

Next morning I quietly avoided the showers and set out to find information on the whereabouts of my target, as well as a Martian-cooked meal. I was still getting the occasional nausea, but it had been a while since I ate a proper meal and thought that something actually decent may help things improve. The cafeteria had a number of foods, a lot of which I’d never seen before, but I didn’t question and took a bit of everything. While eating I overheard that Martian news station on a nearby screen. Couldn’t understand any of the text on the screen, but the lady on the screen was talking about some kind of race, the other soldiers in the cafeteria cheering in an uproar about it for some reason. Apparently most of the troops were planning on attending, and apparently this year had something special to showcase. The newswoman soon began naming the contestants who had entered, and that’s when I heard it. I took a closer look at the face that was being shown and I could recognize that face anywhere. I couldn’t help but smile. “I found her.”

The location: Lemnos. A crowd to sneak in with? Yes. Target? Yes.

I quickly rushed to the commanding officer in charge of the base, humbly requesting to take a brief leave to attend the race. Surprisingly, Martians do seem to be quite caring for their own kind, which is far more than what can be said to how they treat their enemies. My leave was approved, maybe due to my ‘ordeal’, and I left that office with a grin wider than the belt. I couldn’t believe how easy things got once the disguise passed inspection, the only minor annoyance being these damn headaches 'n nauseousness 'n whatnot. I leave with the rest of the travelling platoons to Lemnos tonight, and will make it to Lemnos on the day of the race. It’s picture-perfect.

Just you wait. Tomorrow you will make me a very rich man, young Thekla.


-Jerard Fletcher, Federation of Asteroids




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 Post subject: Re: The Battlezone Chronicles
PostPosted: February 18th, 2016, 5:54 am 
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Location: The fine locale of Canuckville Canada.
9 October 2014: Lemnos Track


Sunrise broke over the volcano, the orange glow lighting up the wispy clouds like streaks of fire overhead, granting a brilliant sight even from within the facility. I filed into a room with the other contestants, a buffet along one side in what appeared to be a lounge to allow the racers to mingle before they headed out onto the track. It was all quite cozy, if a bit Martian for my tastes, with a lot of reds and greys that made the room feel dark despite plenty of lighting and the sunlight streaming in. Across the room I spied the Grand Admiral talking to someone, likely Leonid, and decided to approach them first.

“Grand Admiral, General Leonid.” I said, greeting the two warmly. “Come to give a little speech to the racers? Can’t imagine you’re just here to see me off.”

“Heh, this is the first time a foreigner’s raced here. Of course I’d come by to wish them luck. Leonid here is a huge fan of the races though, you’d think he was the one who founded the contest.” the Grand Admiral joked.

“I’d be dead before I missed a good race,” Leonid chuckled, “I always loved watching them while living on Earth, and our men here do races their due justice.”

“Oh?” I voiced, somewhat curious “then who did start this competition?”

“It was the work of an old colonel, Jeremiah Ashton,” Leonid started, “The guy’s near 70 now so he usually handles supply management in and around the Adrestia. With all that leisure time he got a few troops together and made racing a thing. A lot of this event’s planning is done by him.”

“A bit funny that he rarely comes to these things, but then again I wouldn’t want to be travelling a lot at his age,” the young emperor mused.

“I see, well, I’m sure he’ll be watching none the less.” I replied, as my eyes wandered across the room to notice two other contestants approaching.

“Grand Admiral, General! I’m glad to meet you here before the race,” exclaimed the young male as he raced towards the three individuals.

“Oi vey…”, muttered HF before mouthing to Leonid, “Help.”

Leonid snickered before moving to meet the enthusiastic racer, “Ah, Paprusky, good to see you geared up for today’s race. Expecting a second championship win?”

“Not if I have anything to do with it Max,” came from the other racer, promptly crossing her arms with a confident smirk on her face.

“Is that so, Talia? Hard to take your words seriously with that bronze medal that’s on your vehicle,” quipped Leonid.

“Sure, you’re smirking now, but I can’t wait to see your face when your previous champion is sliding across that finish line in second place… that is if the warlord of Ceres here doesn’t steal that spot from him. Would be the first time we had two women on the podium.” She responded, shooting me an encouraging, though cocky look.

“Name’s Talia Ivanna. General of the Elysian 4th Army. I look forward to seeing what you can do on the track today, kid.”

“Likewise.” I responded, extending my hand towards Ivanna, still a bit uneasy with hearing the term “warlord” thrown around in reference to myself, though I tried hard not to show it. I was here to have a good time, after all. “And the same to you, ah, Paprusky?”

“The great and wonderful Paprusky Atasp, at your service.” He replied, butting in to shake my hand. “I am quite sure this will be another easy victory,” he said, glaring at Talia “though I’m sure you’ll both do well. Every race is a victory if you do your best, and I? Well, I always do.”

“So yeah, I’m going to pig out on the race concessions before things start, you all have fun,” quickly said the Grand Admiral before he briskly made his exit.

“Ah, yes I do believe I should head off as well to get ready for the race.” I said, shaking the racer’s hand with some uncertainty. “It was a pleasure meeting you both, I’ll see you out on the track.”

I made my way to the small hangar where my Flanker awaited me. Captain Abrams was there with a small number of engineers inspecting the craft, ensuring it’d be ready for me when the race began. She merely nodded when I approached, a slight smile on her face, and allowed me to move ahead and jump aboard the Flanker.

“She’s all set, then?” I called over to Janice, sealing my helmet before I popped open the hatch.

“Seems so, these guys just had to make sure this thing met all the standards. You’re all set as soon as they open the doors and announce that the race is about to begin.” She replied, looking towards the hangar doors before walking over and leaning on the wing of the vehicle. “In the event of an emergency, I’ll be right here with the rest of your ‘pit crew’, so just radio us if anything does break.”

“Heh, will do, captain.” I responded, feeling a bit nervous but excited.

“And try to have fun out there, nobody expects you to win, we’re all just here for a good show.”

“R-right.” I said, wondering if the Grand Admiral had told her more than I expected. I tried not to think about it as I sealed the cockpit and got comfortable in the seat, revving the thrusters as my radio tuned in to the announcers above.

The radio crackled at first before a voice came in, in the middle of discussing the previous contest.

“-and Lieutenant Atasp’s reign over the racetrack remained unchallenged as the race was cancelled due to the Faner War. It won’t be easy for him this year, as we have returning for her third go at the gold, General Talia Ivanna! Among the most personable of High Command, she’s always been a ferocious player on the track. Many opponents have been left eating her dust, but the elusive first place glory has always been stolen from her at the last moments, first by the late Corporal George Jones, and now Lieutenant Atasp. Many soldiers on Elysium have been cheering for her success, though there are rumors that Leonid will bet his main recycler that Ivanna will lose the gold to someone else once again. Well folks the race will begin in five minutes as the last of the competitors make their last-minute preparations.”

The last few minutes before the race, and I was feeling goosebumps crawl across my skin. The announcers kept chatting about the other racers who’d be on the track, even my name came up a bit, always said with a tone that conveyed… unease, if you asked me, though certainly some level of willingness to integrate. The Martians, the Imperium, they were uncertain of the DEC, we were still an unfamiliar face to them in many ways, and they trusted us after Io but they held onto their doubts. The last thing I wanted was for them to be proven right, for Vestalis to have his way and see the entire Belt ripped apart by the Imperium. This race, it was about more than just having fun, no matter how badly Janice or HF may have wanted me to relax and enjoy it.

I had to prove myself, here, I had to prove I was the leader the Contingency needs me to be.

“-without a doubt one of the best moments from the last Lemnos race. It looks like our contestants are all set so without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, your racers!” The announcer called over the radio, and just as he did the hangar doors began to rise, the sunlight streaming in blinding my view at first, but beginning to fade. I exitted the hangar along with my competitors, falling into line behind Atasp, I think, in his red/gold Razor, as we all moved along to the starting line. I had to turn off the radio to be sure, but I could hear the crowd cheering quite audibly from the stands set up along the beginning of the track. Their excitement was loud enough to carry across the thin atmosphere of Mars and my heart started beating faster as I came to a stop with the other racers.

It occurred to me just how much my own vehicle stood out in it’s blue/white/gold scheme, though Ivanna’s Mongoose certainly stood out in it’s mix of bright yellows and silvers. It was interesting seeing all these light craft together, one racer even having opted for a Red Devil, it seemed, and as the announcer’s ship came into view, a blimp-like hovercraft adorned with Imperium flags, I only felt my nerves get worse.

“You’re going to do fine out there, Thekla, just take a deep breath” Janice’s voice came over the radio, startling me.

“I, ah, I am perfectly calm.” I stuttered back.

“Even if I couldn’t hear it in your voice, we’re monitoring your vitals.” She said back, and my tongue felt as if it tied into a knot. “Remember what I told you, have fun and you’ll do fine. We’re rootin’ for ya.”

“...rooting for you.” She corrected herself, before switching off the radio.

The announcers started speaking again, getting ready to start everyone off. “Welcome, welcome, one and all to the beginning of the 3rd annual Lemnos Arc Gully Circuit race! Our racers are all set and we are about to get started, but first I ask that all attendees rise for the Red Salutes.” There was a brief pause before the announcer began:

“We stand now, together, united, the Imperium
Saluting our comrades, far and wide across the system
Our spirit unwavering, fearless, indomitable
Valiant soldiers of the Empire Unconquerable
We fight and in victory, return with stories to tell,
Never forgetting the honor of the comrades who fell.”

The last word hung for a moment, as the crowd remained mostly silent, now waiting for the race itself to begin. The other contestants began revving their thrusters and I did the same, keeping my vehicle perfectly lined up with the starting line as the announcer began once again.

“Racers, are you ready?” His voice called out, more than loud enough through the radio over the sounds of fighters and scouts eager to zoom off. “On your marks…” I saw lights on the blimp change from red to orange, my heart began beating faster “...get set…” the light changed to yellow, my whole body was itching to start moving “...go!”. The light turned green and I hit the throttle, flying across the starting line as the crowd erupted in excitement behind me.

I followed the pack as we launched over a hill down into the gullies, and I could immediately tell which racers were already quite familiar with the track. I was in seventh out of the sixteen racers on the track, but I knew that was about to change as we flowed out of the first straight-away into the winding gullies. The first sharp left nearly sent me careening into the rocks, and I could already tell the Razors would be at an advantage here, but I kept the throttle down and just stayed huddled with the other vehicles, trying not to let those behind me get past.

The intricately woven maze of sand and rock was harder to navigate in a Flanker, but I knew if I could just keep focused it’d pay off in the long run. I felt my wing clip a boulder as I made another sharp turn, but the scrape didn’t stall me any, and I managed to right my vehicle before a razor was able to pass me.

“Keep focused, Thekla, you’re doing good.” Captain Abrams said, trying to encourage me. “Ivanna and Atasp are in the lead, but not by much, you’ve got this.”

I shut off my right thruster as I made another sharp right turn, managing to keep my Flanker steady as I powered through it, but my dip in velocity was enough for the Razor behind me to zip in front of my vehicle. As we neared another straight section I knew I had the advantage, but this guy was riding my front bumper as I tried to get around him, I could see the heat from his nacelles peeling the paint off my fighter.

“Oh, I wish this thing had guns, I swear.” I muttered.

‘That’s the Great Pyramid Combat Tournament, Thekla, that’s not until March.” Captain Abrams quipped, and I could tell she was smirking as she did.

“You Martians and your damned sporting events.” I muttered, tapping the brake to distance myself a bit from the guy, he slowed down too to try to stay on me and I hit the jump thrust, flying over him as we rounded another corner, zipping back into seventh. I could see the guy in sixth just 40 metres ahead, and I was closing more and more with each turn, but I could tell the space between him and fifth was growing.

As we neared the titular ‘Arc Gully’ I saw most racers ahead of me opting to drive around it. One racer did try to take the shortcut, but his vehicle shook from the lightning flying off the mines, and he clearly had to fight for control over his vehicle.

Janice was apparently watching me quite closely, and could see I was coming close to the mines. “Wouldn’t go in there, if I were you, Thekla, it might give you a temporary lead but the other racers can just as easily do the same, and they’re far more familiar with where the mines are in there.”

“So, what, I should just fall behind then?”

“Better than dropping your hull near red and taking that hit to your speed, just take the other route for this lap.” She replied. I’d already started down the other path, but by the sounds of the radio announcers, both Ivanna and Atasp had taken the Arc-Mine route, and were blazing ahead of the rest.

The other path was longer, but admittedly a lot less winding than the previous paths, and as I passed where the two routes joined up, I saw the other racer come out of the mines smoking, falling behind me as I now tailed fifth place. I looked up and could see the looming peak of the volcano towering over the track, and just north of it the bleachers came into view from around its base. The announcer’s blimp floating up over the peak of the volcano, to provide a view of the entirety of the track.

I nearly became distracted, and as the racer ahead of me made a left my response was slow to do the same, I slammed on the brakes as my flanker nearly struck one of the larger rocks jutting out the side of the gully, and I saw three of the other racers zoom past me, though I was thankfully still ahead of the smoking Razor.

“Gahh, damnit, damnit, I thought the track went right, not left.” I said, more muttering to myself than anything. After moving through the tight passage I met up with the racers that had flown past me and got back on the track.

I managed to stay close behind this group of racers as the next lap came up, crossing the line and nearing the first straight-away again. This time, my competitors seemed to know what they were doing, and they followed along a bit of a winding path that avoided some of the rougher terrain, the distance between them and myself slowly growing. I pulled tight around the corner, trying to avoid hitting any of the rocks, but the other racers seemed to flow with it and zipped through it at their full speed.

“Don’t stress, Acolyte, we practiced this, keep your thrusters going and move with the turns, not against them.” Janice said, her tone calm.

“I’m trying, I’m trying…” I said back, fumbling the throttle as I tried to regain the lost ground.

“You’re still not that far behind, you’re just in eighth, the middle of the pack. Keep calm, and keep focused, you’re doing fine.”

The captain’s words didn’t help much, I knew I had to get back near the lead. Eighth wins no trophies, and certainly doesn’t prove anything. As the next term came up, I hugged the edge, keeping my speed as I maintained my distance behind the other racers.

I could feel myself slipping, though, as the racers behind me continued to gain on me. The winding turns were starting to become disorienting, and I was finding myself expecting one turn coming up, only to find another. I could hear the announcers keeping up with Ivanna and Atasp, too, as for a second lap in a row they took the Arc-Mine route, apparently remaining neck-and-neck in the race. As I saw the gully coming up, I saw even more of my competitors take that route, but as one of them careened off into a boulder after being disoriented by one of the mines, I turned my controls hard to the left, switching down the easier, if longer, path.

As the gullies joined, I could see 4 racers zoom out ahead of me, a smoking flanker trailing out behind me, his vehicle clearly in the red, as he came to a stop outside the forest of Arc-Mines, an APC coming along the top of the ridges to pick him up. My mind panicked as I realized that could easily be me if I try to be brave and take that path, but at the same time I was now in ninth, and the other racers seemed to still be blazing ahead.

I crossed into the third lap separated from the pack, and it was becoming clear I might not finish this race as strong as I’d hoped.

“Starting to think that either I take that path, or I don’t finish much better than the bottom five.” I said aloud, an awful feeling forming in my gut.

“Just trust me on this, you’re better off if you don’t Thekla. Keep your head in the game, still three laps left before this race is decided.” Janice said back, by her tone, she was clearly frustrated, though she was trying to hide it. To think I was about to let everyone down like this, a sharp pain rang through my head, and I could barely focus as I moved through the maze ahead sloppily. Janice might’ve said something else, but I hardly paid mind to it, and the fourth lap seemed to come up on me completely uneventfully. No ground lost, but none gained either, as the racers behind me struggled amongst themselves and ahead of me, by the sounds of it, Talia and Paprusky put half a lap on my position.

As I rounded another corner, I actually passed someone, for the first time in forever, it felt like. His vehicle was smoking bad, but if he’d made it this far in that condition, either I was lapping the guy in last place, or…

No, the marker confirmed it as I went from ninth back to eighth place, this guy had been ahead of me, in third at least. and by the looks of his beatup Red Devil, he’d gotten quite cocky as he chased the two racers in the lead.

At this point, I realized Janice was still talking, and I tuned back in to her. “Look, I know it’s the easy thing to do, to just stop listening to me and roll over, but if you would just-”

“These guys got cocky trying to beat Ivanna and Paprusky, a good few of them have run through those Arc-Mines too many times, thinking they could keep up.” I said, the realization snapping me from my surrendering attitude.

“That’s what I’ve been saying!” Janice nearly shouted back. “These guys all wanna fly as good as those two, but they can’t. You on the other hand can, you were showing up every pea-brain that tried to get the jump on you when the race started. You’ve got one of the last full-hull vehicles on this freaking track, use it!”

As I neared the Arc-Mines, I again opted for the longer path, but this time I moved through the turns and kept my eyes focused ahead of me, not looking at the other racers. I blew right past two smoking fighters, leaving them in my dust as I alternated my thrusters through the turns, but kept my speed up, maintaining ground. And as I passed into the fifth lap, I was already back in fifth, gaining on every racer ahead of me.

I took a curved path through the straight-away, keeping my velocity up as I reached the beginning of the turns, and passed another racer. I was now in fourth, the only people ahead of me being the two medalists and another new racer like myself. His Flanker was in peak condition, like mine, and I could see he was an experienced pilot. As I drew near on him, I could tell he was watching my movements, making sure there was no opening for me to pass. When I strafed left, he strafed left, and when I strafed right, he strafed right.

As we neared one of the rocks I’d clipped my win on, I took the opportunity to strafe my own vehicle in the direction of it, and when he did the same, he had to pull up to avoid hitting it. I dove in close as we rounded the corner, and caught a glimpse of the name “AZEL” printed in bold white lettering on his olive-green fighter. He had a gorgeous view of my engine flames as we entered the straight-away before the Arc Gully, and I could see Ivanna and Atasp dead ahead, this time both taking the safer route, as their vehicles were in the mid-yellow.

“Now do I take the gully?” I asked over the radio.

I could hear Janice chuckle, either out of pride or disbelief. “Yes, now you take the gully.”

The sensation as the first mine went off made me jump, but I powered around the turn quickly and out of it’s range. The flare from the arcs blocked my view of the terrain, but I kept my eye on my radar and trusted it to guide me along. As I neared the next big turn, I could see that the mine was nestled in the near side. Any other racer may have taken the far side to try to keep out of it’s range, but I saw my chance and hugged the near cliff through the turn. As I did, I felt the brief zap of the mine underneath me, and then was out of it’s range a half-second later. A few mines ahead were positioned similarly, before a wide path with a random splattering of mines. I drove straight ahead, and blazed out of that gully right behind Ivanna and Atasp, at a distance of under 100 meters.

I could see I was gaining on them, meter-by-meter, but the finish line was approaching fast.

“Holy Zook” Janice exclaimed, “you might… you might pull this off. Thekla you’re right behind them, you might win this.”

“Well, I did have a good teacher.” I replied, hugging the next turn as I came up on the two racers.

I could see the finish dead ahead now, and was right behind the two racers vying for first place. My heart was pounding as I held the throttle down so hard I thought my wrist was about to break, and my Flanker’s engines roared as they tried to comply. My eyes were dead ahead, this was my moment of truth.

I could see a faint flicker on the horizon, something shining in my eyes as I neared the finish line. The reflection of Phobos, maybe? That didn’t make sense, it was broad daylight, it should’ve been invisible to the naked eye-

I felt a sharp pain in my lungs as my breath was ripped from my body, glass shattered against my visor and the world went black.

~Deus Theokliea III, Deus Ex Contingency


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 Post subject: Re: The Battlezone Chronicles
PostPosted: February 18th, 2016, 5:59 am 
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Location: Mars
9 October 2014: Lemnos Track


One shot.

I saw it happen in slow motion. Couldn’t tell if it was from the thrill of the kill, or a side-effect of the worsening dizziness, but from the moment I saw her cockpit burst I knew I was a rich man. I couldn’t relax, however. For one thing, the area was crawling with pissed off Martians. For another thing, I was coughing up blood; but no matter, I had a plan. I just needed to get as far away from the track as possible before the hive closed in from my location.

I bolted from my snug crater, rifle in hand. A grizzly that I managed to ‘acquire’ from a patrol was hidden in a gully away from the main event. From the cross-talk I was overhearing from this suit’s transmitter, it hadn’t been found yet, but now things were getting dicey. Seems that hive queen of theirs was annoyed something fierce, and all resources were to be used to locate me. I hopped into a gulley, immediately changing direction in an attempt to throw off those red dogs. I felt a rumble as a pair of grizzlies immediately zoomed by on the path, continuing west. These guys acted fast, and from my personal radar I could see more and more signatures saturating the area. I started to run but I found myself moving sluggishly, almost losing my balance at one point, and the terrain in front of me starting to spin a bit. I didn’t know what was going on, maybe some Martian disease we Belters never encountered before…

At any rate, it was clear that walking to my ship wasn’t a viable option. Time to improvise.

I moved north, away from Lemnos where I found a small fork in the ridge lines. Fighting my urge to vomit, I hid right in the gully next to the ridge, putting myself and my rifle into position. I didn’t have to wait long, coming down the path was a lone razor, an easy target… at least usually. I took aim from roughly 300 meters, but it wasn’t steady. For a second it looked like that one scout became two, and concentrating aggravated a now constant headache. I fired once, the bullet hit but the razor suddenly turned towards me, revving its engines to rapidly close the gap between us… a goddamn miss. The scout accelerated, first within the 200 meter targeting range, then to 150. I took a deep breath, calming myself down as I aimed my last shot. 120 meters, and the miniguns started firing. I needed to fight the pain for only a moment, only one moment and the Martians can bury this dog.

Boom. Bulls-eye. The scout immediately decelerated as the now empty vehicle whizzed past me into the gully. I fell back with it, sweating as I managed to open the razor’s hatch, throwing the Martian body out of the cockpit, and stumbling my way to take its place at the controls.

I wanted to rest. I wanted to take a quick nap to get back what little strength I could get, but this fork was now a hot-zone. The Martian command no doubt picked up the trail when one of their own suddenly went silent. I cut off my ship from the Imperium’s command network, revving the thrusters as I zoomed towards the west. In the scout I could out-run almost anything the Martians have on hand, but they at least know that I took a scout, and will be checking those especially. I still had to get back to that grizzly, and then get myself off-world as quickly as possible.

I skirted around the gullies for a while, doing my best to avoid detection, but it wasn’t long before the Martians started to wise up and check the gullies. A random grizzly ambushed me, and while he later found himself in the air, I ended up in the midst of their trap. Radar signatures weren’t welcoming. There were contacts everywhere, and many of them were closing in. The net was getting tighter, but I noticed a small hole a little further west. It appeared that there were units quickly moving to pincer me into a zone, racing to cut off access to that hole in the lines. Beyond that was just a short trip to my waiting grizzly, it was now or never.

I raced towards the gap at full speed, paying no mind to the growing amount of red coming at my flanks. ‘I can out-run ‘em,’ I thought, straining to maintain my sense of direction as it got harder to make sense of what was in front of me. Exhaustion was aching every muscle in my body, taking everything I had just to hold down maximum thrust on my ship. It looked like I was going to make it, the red behind me getting further and further away as I neared my freedom, when I saw two squads of razors moving directly to cut me off ahead. There was no way I’d make it out before they locked me in, but like hell was I about to let myself be killed by Martians, my ride was roughly a kilometer away from my position... I had to take a gamble.

I rushed headlong towards the razors ahead, flooring my ship to go as fast as possible. This was my only chance of escape… and my body was in no condition to try this lightly. The Martian razors began to turn towards me, aiming their guns as I activated the jump thrusters. My razor slowly rose as its nose pointed down, its speed beginning to drop slightly from the maneuver. At that moment I hit the eject button and launched myself out of the clutches of those red hands.

It was a good escape, but the force was spinning me around and my body hated the whole thing... it would make that disgustingly clear by making a mess in my helmet. Small price to pay, however. I didn’t see any red nearby, and if I was reading my radar right, I’d land right by my stashed grizzly. I saw myself descending to the ground, my suit’s foot-thrusters activating as intended and allowing me to steady myself. I could see my tank still in the same spot I left it, and felt a little relief over my exhaustion, and that was just enough to keep me in the game.

The landing wasn’t clean, and I nearly collapsed upon hitting the ground maybe 100 meters from the tank. I was on my knees, and I struggled with everything to get myself back on my feet. I stayed like that for maybe a couple of minutes, fighting every urge to just fall down and sleep. Eventually, I managed to force myself to stand again, almost letting go of my rifle because of how heavy it felt. It was slow, it was hard, it was painful, but I started to trudge my way towards my vehicle, each step feeling like my legs were going to give out. What vision I had through the mess on my visor was blurring, and I wished I could rub my eyes to see things more clearly, thinking that it would help the dizziness. I guess whatever it was affected my hearing too. I didn’t notice it, but it seemed like the blur that was the tank moved slightly to the side.

Next thing I knew I was knocked back by the shockwave as that blur exploded in front of me. I landed on my back, my brain barely registering what just happened. I tried once again to get up, but my legs weren’t having any of it. Wasn’t any good anyway, not like I had the strength to fight back anymore. I strained to lift my head up, opening my eyes again to try to confirm what I thought had happened. Using the last of my strength, I tried to focus as hard as I could to see what was there…

There was a golem staring right at me. What the f*ck was it doing there?

I stopped caring, I fell back down as I felt everything around me turning black.

- Jerard Fletcher, Federation of Asteroids






Entering the room adjoined to hers, I saw the Acolyte through the one-way mirror, unconscious on the bed with dozens of machines hooked into her, monitoring her condition. My mind flashed back to when I had returned to Mars, after Io, but I quelled the memories before the doctor approached.

"She's in stable condition, though she did have us worried there." Dr. Sakagami said, her voice the usual authoritative monotone. It wasn't often that she let that facade down, but working in the Imperium's largest medical facility, one had to steel themselves against the sights they saw day-by-day.

"The sniper round pierced straight through her shoulder," she continued, "rupturing her oxygen tanks... that was the fireball you saw when she was shot. Any other pilot would've been dead, but the suit she was wearing is of some DEC design, had just enough armour between her back and her O2 pack to not kill her instantly. Her body is still in shock, however, it may be a while before she recovers."

"First that MDM, now this..." I thought aloud, narrowing my eyes until my vision of the Acolyte lost focus. "Notify me as soon as she's talking again."

"Of course, Grand Admiral, one more thing..." She said, catching my interest before I was about to turn and leave. "Our blood tests didn't show any worrying abnormalities, except for what appears to be an above-average level of Biometal cells in her bloodstream. At first we believed they were from the bullet but it's far above the level we've seen in previous wounds like this. We'll be re-taking the test to make sure, but if this is the case... it could very well complicate her recovery in ways I can't predict."

The concern on the doctor's face was painfully unlike her, but even if the tests were correct, there was little that could be done. I thanked her with a quick nod and quickly left the building. I couldn't keep looking at Thekla in that condition, and more importantly, I had a prisoner to pay a visit. According to the reports of the assassin's condition, it was just the thing to put me in a good mood.






I walked through the now ancient hallways of this old facility, two KILT Squad guards at my side as we approached the cell with our uninvited guest. Motioning the guards to stand watch by the door, I peered through the slit to see what I could see of the guy. Some signs of coughed up blood, and I made a small smirk as it confirmed what the reports claimed about this guy. We'd already searched his person and found some information, but I felt like I could get a little bit more... while having some fun with it too.

Opening the door, I leisurely walked into his pen, making no attempt to hide the smile that featured across my face. The man looked pathetic, staring up at me with was probably disgust, but I didn't care. This guy was a sheep, and I was going to prove it. "Hey buddy, how you doing today?"

"Nen benji," He spat back in a thick accent, before his weak face tried to shape itself into a smirk, "I'd really like that 50Ƀ you took off me back, a ride back to the belt would be nice, too." He really had no clue what was about to happen to him, it was almost worth some pitty.

"Yup, you're definitely from the belt alright," I said, keeping my smile intact. "Oh, don't worry we don't intend on keeping you long, but I have some questions that I'd like you to answer, then I'd be happy to give you back your 50 units and a ride home. I suppose the first question is who you are and where exactly are you from. I know you're not Eugene Graves."

"Oh, and do answer honestly, it's rude to lie when you're a guest in someone's home," I added coyly.

"But of course, assassin's honour and all that." He said, wiping his bloodied chin on his shoulder, shambling awkwardly as he stood as high as he could with his short chains and frail figure. "Jerard Fletcher, of the Colony of Palladis, at your service, your grace." He said, hissing the words with some smug sense of invincibility, as if in his mind I needed him alive, as if he was the one in control here. "100 Stamps worth of Biometal, half up front and half for the finished job, to be paid to my estate for the untimely demise of the unfortunate Ms. Deus Theokleia III by the Unified Belter Insurgency. It really was a shame, too, I had people willing to pay a good bit to have her brought back alive and held captive, all came down to who had the coin, though, you know how it is." His voice was watery and rough as he tried to force out a laugh, eyes fixed on mine.

"Surprised you didn't have any of your guards at least beat me while I was waiting to be interrogated, not too scared of whatever flu I've caught, are they? I hope you'll at least get me some food and drink while I get over it, you know I'm lying through my teeth." He said, trying to assert himself. "If you want anything out of me, you'll want to hold off on any torture you have planned, I don't negotiate with brutes."

The nerve of this little lamb... I felt my blood boil, but I wanted to try for more information. I'll at least play along a little longer. "Oh my guards won't lay a finger on you, and hundreds of prior attempts have taught me that a good beating doesn't always lead to results." Ok, this foreplay was getting nowhere. I dropped the smile and cut to the chase. "So from what you're telling me, you're just the sheep that pulled the trigger. There's a shepherd somewhere that's leading the strings You also seemed to have some rudimentary knowledge about the Imperium's movements, some protocol, and habits that you used to facilitate your infiltration," I got closer to this animal, and stared into his eyes in fury. "You playing the fool won't save you, so this will be your chance. A name, a motive, and the ******* that gave you your intel, sheep."

"Choose your words carefully, little lamb."

The man kept smiling, but in his eyes I saw a mind beginning to crack "There's the rage they talk about as far as Pluto, I knew it'd shine through." He said, trying to move his hands up but again realizing his shackles were too short. "I suppose it wouldn't hurt to at least tell you how I got in, had help from my employer, as well as some Nomads with experience fighting the Imperium, even helped me plan my disguise. Heh, gotta say, for a race that genetically altered themselves to prevent just this sort of thing your look was far too easy to replicate."

"Once I had my disguise and a vehicle, all I had to do was head Northwest to the nearest major outpost and try to find out where the Acolyte was. Where'd I get my intel? Buddy, your own troops told me everything I needed to know."

His wild and awful grin was far wider than it had any right to be, and I wanted nothing more than to wipe it off his face with a few plasma rounds. Regardless, I kept my composure, we were now getting somewhere and he was playing right into my hands.

It was time to let him have it. I stared right at him, my face growing a smile that matched his own before giving a short laugh. "Little lamb. You're only partially right. The genetic alterations do help preventing lost sheep from posing as wolves, but not the way you intended."

I walked right up at him, his grin fading fast. "You seem to only listen to the words of your shepherds, huh? Can never seem to figure things out for yourself, how pathetic," I immediately grabbed his head, grabbing a hold of his hair as he weakly struggled to force me off. "You idiot, there's a reason why I'm not afraid of your flu, nor is any Martian!" I yelled, lifting up with my hand, my grip holding firm as it briefly rose him off the ground. He seemed to struggle a little more before he felt like he was let go, falling back on his ***. He reoriented himself a bit, before looking back at me, and then at my fist, holding something too familiar.

"The genetic alterations of we Martians prevent things like this from happening, little lamb," I could barely hold my laughter, the look on his face priceless. "Look at you now, you even shear like a sheep," I cackled, releasing my grip and letting his hair fall on the ground.

He watched, shocked as his own hair fell to the ground in clumps, and began to sweat, his eyes growing wide and muscles tensing as he put the pieces together in his mind. The migraines, the coughing up blood, the lack of strength, it all suddenly was clear to him and his reality began to shatter. His lips waivered as he tried to form a sentence but all he could do was look up at me with fear and rage and pitiless confusion in his eyes. "I've been... no, I couldn't have, I was in a suit! I never once was exposed to the atmosphere of this awful planet! You've done something to me!" He blurted out, unable to believe what was plain to see.
That his illness had been by his own hands.

I calmed my laughter, settling down into a smirk as I saw the wonderful sight of scum crumbling to ash. "Martians are born with genetic alterations that make them naturally immune to radiation exposure. The suits we make are solely for respiration and protection from extreme temperatures and weapons. On Earth I could casually stroll into the radioactive fallout of a nuclear detonation without caring."

"Tell me, why would we waste our resources for a feature that we don't need?"

"Anyone without the genetics simply gets anti-radiation supplements... and we keep a few radiation suits around for special guests. Your mission was doomed the moment you put on that suit, and from the looks of things you don't have much time."

"I guess you got abandoned by your shepherd, Jerard Fletcher," I just walked around him, immersing myself in the sight of the scum that dared try to assassinate an important visitor of mine completely fall apart, and I hadn't even gotten to the best part.

He glared at me, desperation on his face as he tried to find some way that what I'd said could be a lie, but I could see in his eyes he was coming up blank. He leapt at my feet, as far as his chains would let him, and began to beg.

"Surely... surely you want to know more, you wouldn't... tell me this just to watch me suffer, you intend to spare me, you want to know who did this, why I was sent to kill the Acolyte." He said, choking on his own bloody spit as he panicked. I simply chuckled and continued to circle the poor little lamb, having lead itself to slaughter, my own sharp glances telling him everything.

"Not as if it would matter," He said, shrugging, narrowing his eyes, "With the Acolyte dead, we're one step closer to having a unified belt once again, the DEC's lineage has ended. I'll bet that INN has broadcast the word across the solar system, too, what little of the DEC was still resisting is probably surrendering as we speak." The look in the man's eyes was solemn now, and as he spoke I could tell he had little faith in his own words, it was a bitter victory for the man.

And I was about to shatter it for him.

"Heh, you forget that you're a sheep. You can't think of anything, can you? I don't need to know who's behind this or who's funding you. I only need to know who wouldn't," I said as I finally stopped between him and the door. He probably saw me as some satanic figure. "The HF Imperium only recognizes one power in the asteroid belt, the Deus Ex Contingency. Every other power, until proven otherwise, is guilty of concocting your little operation."

"I'll get my prey, even if I have to kill every single person that rebelled against the DEC and young Thekla. You can take that thought with you to the afterlife."

I started towards the door, opening it as the light from the hallway shone through, masking me in a dark shadow as I turned to regard the lamb once more with a grin. "Oh, and another thing to take with you, buddy. Thekla survived. Your friends will be able to tell you all about it when they meet you in hell."

He shot to his feet, nearly tripping as he hit the end of his chain, shouting what I could only assume were obscenities at me, I think he even called me a demon, the thought was a tad flattering as I shut the door in his face. He was probably realizing at this point I'd left him alone in a cell with a perfect view of the sunrise, whatever he did with his last few hours was up to him, no real reason to check his cell for a good week or two if at all, he could well be dead by morning anyway. I nodded to the two guards and they followed as we headed back down the hall and out of this decrepit facility, his muffled screams fading away. I hadn't gotten much from him, but I'd gotten enough, and be it Vessie or some other ******* who hired him, the entire belt would soon regret this act of aggression on Imperium soil.



-Grand Admiral HyperFighter, Emperor of the HF Imperium



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 Post subject: Re: The Battlezone Chronicles
PostPosted: March 20th, 2016, 8:30 pm 
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Location: Mars
10 October 2014, Mars

Generals Thompson and Bronislav looked on from the Adrestia as they saw the capital on alert. The Grand Admiral had mobilized the KILT Squad and sent them to secure the perimeter around and inside Ares Hospital. Beyond the hospital there were elements of the Martian 9th deployed on extensive patrols of the city. They knew that one assassin had managed to sneak into their ranks, and extensive identification checks were being carried out to ensure there were no more infiltrators.

“Hyper’s taking this seriously, isn’t he?” murmured Bronislav. “They’re even checking officers within the Adrestia.”

“I’m not surprised,” responded Thompson, “we want to make sure we were thorough in rooting out any stowaways. Any word on the Acolyte?”

“From what I have heard, she is recovering,” answered Bronislav, “The Grand Admiral has been keeping the details of her status hidden from the populace.” Bronislav noted the Sun beginning to set under the caldera, thinking back to the events of the race. “The girl was lucky. Few can claim to have survived a hit from a sniper.”

“Fewer people can claim to have infiltrated the Imperium, Bronislav,” Thompson snarked with slight annoyance in his voice. “That damned assassin managed to get too close. Imagine if he had been trying to take out the Grand Admiral? What if he tried to take out one of us? If you ask me we were lucky the guy was after the girl.”

“The assassin didn’t get her. I know you lost soldiers because of him, Thompson, but what’s done is done.”

“You’re not the one who had took the most damage from the assassin’s actions,” Thompson snarled, becoming more agitated, “He impersonated one of my soldiers, snuck into one of the compounds under MY jurisdiction, and used his stolen credentials to break into an event under the security of MY forces. Also, don’t forget that he did all of this AFTER he orchestrated the destruction of one of my own platoons!”

“Whoa there, Brandon,” Bronislav said, moving to calm down his fellow general, “What’s done is done. I’ve been speaking with the Grand Admiral, and while our measures have proven effective in weeding out spies, we’re going to discuss additional precautions we can take to prevent this happening again.”

Thompson turned away from Bronislav, looking back outside the window, before taking a deep breath. “Sure, we can work to prevent these things from happening again,” he finally said, in a much calmer tone, “but I think that we are more than capable of nipping things like this in the bud before they happen.”
“What do you mean?”

“We are, without question, the largest, most powerful force in space, Bronislav. Millions of troops under each of our commands, with more than enough strength to exert our power however we see fit. This has been the case for a few years now. In 2012, our population was over nineteen million. Mars, Venus, and Elysium were more than secure. Europa was a vibrant cloning facility, and we had embassies and outposts on many other worlds. With the Vulcan and HAL gone off to deep space, there was nothing to stop us from strengthening our influence.”

Bronislav looked at the general before him, somewhat surprised by what he was implying, “Thompson, things were finally starting to normalize. Life support supplies were only starting to comfortably keep up with the needs of our growing numbers. Don’t forget we lost a good many experienced officers during the Schism. Most of who we had left didn’t have a lot of experience leading troops, we still needed to incubate.”

“Have faith in our troops, Bronislav. Our mediocre officers were more than capable of putting up a fight against the competition that was left. Sk-8080’s forces could’ve been taken out in a month. The S.P.O.R.K in six weeks. Our numbers advantage alone would have been enough to pacify the rest of the solar system before the end of that year, barring the Earth.”

“Garrisoning the entire solar system would have put a strain on our forces. Not to mention supplying so many locations.”

“A little re-organizing of supply allocation was all we needed. That coupled with continued cloning we would have had the system on lock-down, and we would have saved ourselves from these messes.”

Thompson held his head low. “In a little over a year we lost nearly six million troops because of our inability to capitalize on the golden opportunity given with the Vulcan’s disappearance. Instead of a population nearing forty million battle-hardened troops, we are down to roughly seventeen million. Things like the Zook Wars, Faner, Cothonian… and the Furies… we could have stopped all of it before it happened had the Grand Admiral said the word. It was our lack of initiative that f*cked us over. Bronislav, your army lost close to three-quarters of their full force, doesn’t the fact that it was avoidable **** you off?”

“I was there, Brandon,” Bronislav uttered, fury dripping out of every syllable. “I was on comms with multiple battle groups as they engaged those hordes. I can’t tell you how many transmissions I picked up of battalions, nay, whole brigades being wiped out in the Zooks’ orbital blitzkrieg. I fought on the front lines with my men as they were ripped to pieces desperately fighting to keep the Zooks from breaking out towards Olympus Mons. I do not enjoy watching my men die.”

The general took a deep breath, before leaning against the window. “I also know that thinking about how things could have been handled was pointless. There was a lot going on in 2012, and the Grand Admiral deemed that we needed time to incubate. Nothing we can do about that, and personally I believe it was the right choice. Going on a massive conquest prematurely could have just as easily sapped our strength as it could have given us security.”

Thompson crossed his arms, looking back out into the capital, the light dimming as the sun creeped under the caldera. “What I do know is that the Imperium needs security now more than ever against so many enemies. I feel that we can’t stay uninvolved in outside affairs for much longer.”





Through the corner of her eye, Thekla could see the silhouettes of Dr. Sakagami and a man, likely the Grand Admiral, talking to eachother behind the door. She pulled herself further up on the stiff hospital bed, feeling the various tubes and monitors hooked into her skin move rigidly as she adjusted herself, and tried to look lively as the emperor entered the room, doing her best to crack a genuine smile as he approached.

"Good to see you conscious again," the grand admiral said, hands in his pockets as he stopped a short ways from the foot of the bed.

Thekla nodded, rubbing the back of her neck as she laid down "Dr. Sakagami told me I was shot and my oxygen pack exploded, but she hasn't said much else, just been telling me to keep resting and drink as often as I can, keep myself hydrated."

"I see. Well since you're awake I think I should inform you what happened. Someone from the asteroid belt infiltrated the race track and made an attempt to assassinate you. From what we got from the guy, it appears he was hired help and his employer had put a hefty price on your head," the emperor replied calmly, seeing signs of shock appear on the acolyte's face.

Thekla's eyes grew wide and she coughed a bit before setting down her drink. "Someone from the belt... goddamnit, if they were willing to go this far..." She tried to sit up, but sharp pains shot through her spine and she fell back down onto the bed, wincing as she did.

"Oi, lie down," HF ordered, motioning towards the acolyte. "you are in no condition to move right now."

"Did I... at least cross the finish line?" She asked, trying to keep a lighthearted tone and not expecting a serious answer.

The Grand Admiral snickered, "Nope, but you did pretty good out there on the last run. Competing with Ivanna and Atasp is no small feat." The Grand Admiral walked near the bed, leaning against the wall adjacent with crossed arms, "you know, those two stopped when the saw what happened and rushed to help you out of the wreckage. Only one guy kept on going to the finish line, but that f*ck won't be getting a trophy."

"So... the race was ruined then." She thought aloud, tone almost implicating she felt responsible for what happened. "What of the, ah, assassin then?" She asked, fighting down another cough.

The emperor almost smiled, before realizing the mood wasn't necessarily appropriate. "After getting what we could, we left him unprotected in the prison with a view of the Martian sun. He was already suffering from radiation exposure before, so the morning probably killed him."

"He won't be bothering you anymore," the emperor finished, small hints of a smile showing. "I know this isn't the best time, but do you know of anyone who might be trying to kill you? Even if many broke off, I can't see insurgents going as far as to send someone to Mars unless it's part of something big."

Thekla let out a short breath, then looked over to the television in the corner of the room, INN reporting on the events of the race. "Somehow I find it hard to feel bad for him, can't imagine his last moments were pleasant, though." She rustled in the hospital bed, trying to get herself more comfortable. "I suppose they would love to have a word with me about what happened as well." She said, looking away from the television and back at HF. There was a lack of emotion in her expression, though a certain aura of rage now surrounded the Acolyte that had not been there before. She reached over and grabbed her drink again, looking dead ahead as she forced herself to drink some of it.

"He grovelled at my feet begging me to spare him, if that's any consolation," the emperor added, "and I've already forbidden the vultures from trying to get a scoop out of you without my clearance. I'm intending on doing a bit of investigating of my own to figure out who hired the guy. I have a few suspicions, but no evidence to back them up. I've detached KILT Squad to guard your person for the time being, and we'll move your accommodations to somewhere more secure once we've found a suitable location."

"Vestalis." Thekla said flatly, keeping her eyes forward. "I don't know what the assassin may have told you, but Vesta is the only colony with the resources to pull something like that off."

"I need... to get on the line to Daniels, If Vestalis was after me he’ll be after all the High Priestess as well. Where's Kleo, I need her to relay a message, the DEC needs to know what happened and that I'm alright." She said, trying to sit up again but stopping herself. "Goddamnit, my nation is falling apart and I'm bedridden."

HF moved to place a hand on the acolyte's shoulder, motioning her to lie down, "I already notified Daniels and Kleo that you're in stable condition. We've been keeping word of your survival vague, at least in the Imperium."

"I'm glad that we shared the same suspicions as to who ordered the attempt. I have half a mind to have a word with Vessie for sending trash to my world," HF continued, re-crossing his arms.

"Daniels and your High Priestess are decent commanders, they'll be able to hold the fort until you are well, and if I'm not mistaken you were sent here to be clear of the conflict... not that my hospitality has protected you from it."

He lowered his head slightly, narrowing his eyes. "My apologies for the lax in security, Acolyte, for whatever it's worth."

"I think..." Thekla started, now looking back at HF "I should go back. If they are intent to bring the fight to me then my staying here will only bring about more loss of life." She reached hesitantly for HF's hand, brining it down off her shoulder. "I appreciate your hospitality, Grand Admiral, but if I stay here, things can only get worse."

"If I go," She said, leaning her head back "there is a chance to make things better."

The Grand Admiral's eyes widened slightly, staring into the acolyte's own for a moment, "Your life is the one in danger here, Thekla. It'll be easier for Vessie to get rid of you back on Ceres. What do you intend to do once you go back?"

"Martians were killed due to Vessie's assassin. I could end the matter by having the Imperium take care of Vesta itself..."

"You'll do no such thing she hissed," Becoming angry at the very suggestion "I'll not see Vesta burn for the crimes of one individual, this is exactly why I need to go back and take care of it myself."

Thekla looked away from him, crossing her arms indignantly. "As soon as I'm out of this bed and walking again, I am going back to Ceres. Thankyou, Grand Admiral."

"Fair enough," the emperor replied, "It is better that the Imperium stays out of internal affairs...", he looked down towards the floor for a bit before smirking, "Heh, look at you taking on the reigns of command to save your people. This is a quite a bit of a change from someone was so unsure of herself and her ability to lead not too long ago. Mars has done you good."

Thekla's expression became strange as she looked at the Grand Admiral with uncertainty. "Well I... thankyou? I, ah, probably won't be leaving for a while yet. The doc says it'll be a week or two before my back is healed." Her expression became more friendly, if more stern as she thought over the path ahead of her. "Plenty of time, I suppose, to form a battle strategy. One doesn't attack their enemy blindly and expect to succeed, after all."

The emperor's smirk grew as he turned towards the acolyte. "Well, you've come to the best place in space to form an attack plan. I'll help you conceive an iron-tight offensive operation to subdue Vesta and any other insurgents within the Belt. I'll even take into account of you wanting to limit the damage to only what's absolutely necessary to save casualties."

"If you want, I can even supply you a Mk IV recycler."

Thekla raised an eyebrow and was about to remark on his choice of words when Doctor Sakagami entered unannounced. "Enough, enough, you'll talk this poor girl's ear off." She said, pushing the Grand Admiral to the side. "We need you to get your rest, Thekla, you're still a ways away from a full recovery." The doctor said, collecting the acolytes empty drink and turning off the television.

"Out, out," She said to HF, shooing him away "we need to take another blood test and then I want the Acolyte to sleep, there'll be time tomorrow." Before he could interject, he found himself on the other side of the door, in the waiting area with Kleo sitting on a nearby bench.

"No fair. It's not every day you get to plan an invasion of another world," he muttered to himself, before noticing Kleo on the bench. He reoriented himself before walking towards her, "The acolyte will make a full recovery. From what I saw she was about to get some more rest."



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 Post subject: Re: The Battlezone Chronicles
PostPosted: October 5th, 2016, 6:09 pm 
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Location: Banana Land
We've been here for over three years. It's a long time to be in space. Our mission of Biometal collection has been remarkably successful. And now, our next one begins.

Never Forget





October 21st, 2016 - China, Earth

Audiolog Stealth Unit 0472 19
--= BEGIN MESSAGE =--

The Animal Alliance, our galactic enemies in our own universe, have developed a superweapon capable of destroying entire planets, and possibly entire suns. They've already destroyed several of our own planets. Billions of lives, gone.

We've just completed our orbital drop onto Earth's surface. The Empire High Command has tasked us with locating human ruins constructed several thousand years ago. These ruins emit a massive tachyon field several times a day, each field being about 7,000 kilometers in diameter. Unfortunately the exact location of the ruins are unknown. Currently, we're in the human nation known as China, about another 7,000 kilometers from the edge of the field. Our telemetry sensors were malfunctioning.

The High Command believes the tachyon field may hold the secret to making our planets invulnerable to the Animal Alliance's superweapon.

Speaking of China, it's the same nation participated in the human Biometal Wars 40 years ago. Their numbers were much, much smaller, but they developed a cloaking device that could've put them on top. Nobody knows why they were defeated, though.

Admiral blue banana will be joining us once we reach the Arabian Peninsula. He wishes to see these ruins for himself.

We can only move during the night to avoid detection, and even then travel is still dangerous. Humans have an interesting sense of intuition and sometimes they "feel" our presence. Luckily, that hasn't happened to us yet. Hopefully we'll make it to the ruins without incident.


Captain Gros, Stealth Unit 0472




October 7th, 2016 - The Starship Endeavor, Flagship of the Banana Empire

"Admiral, you have a priority message coming in from the High Command."

"I'll take it in my quarters."

The doors to the Admiral's quarters opened as blue banana walked in and sat at his table. He turned on the viewscreen and acknowledged the High Command. It was a group meeting, and blue banana walked right into the middle of it.

"-scaped the Alliance assault on Victranus IV." Someone was already speaking. "Several carriers and cruisers were destroyed, many more were severely damaged. Reinforcements from Victranus II arrived but it was too late. The Alliance had already activated the weapon and destroyed the planet."

"Hello Admiral, thank you for joining us," noted Commodore Arguta, "as you may have heard, the Animal Alliance deployed the weapon. They've destroyed Victranus IV. This is the 12th planet they've destroyed. We've now lost about 69 billion lives. With this attack they've finally created a gap in our planetary defense grid."

"Do you know where the weapon is headed?" blue banana asked.

"We do," the Commodore replied, "it's headed towards the Musa System. Our home." There was an extended silence.

"What's their approximate ETA?" blue banana responded calmly.

"About three weeks. We believe we can extend it to nine weeks if we mobilize our fleets in the Solar System. We have enough Biometal to outfit our fleet flagships. As you know, Admiral, the Biometal is extremely successful against the Alliance's weaponry. Damage reports say our ships are nearly 250% more resilient. I suggest we move our fleets back to our universe, reinforce them with the Biometal, and begin pushing back."

"Make it so." The meeting was adjourned.

Despite the straightforward and hopeful attitudes, every officer in the meeting knew there was only one known way of stopping the Alliance superweapon. The recently discovered Earth ruins held the key.

The link connecting both the Banana Universe and the Solar System requires at least one starship on both ends to supply sustained energy to the link. If one end of the link loses power, the link would collapse, and a replacement couldn't be opened for another several years. It would be incredibly risky to keep only one starship in the Solar System, but the push against the Animal Alliance needs as many ships as possible. The Endeavor, the flagship of the Banana Empire, would remain. If the link were to collapse, the only thing connecting the two universes would be the transuniversal communication system, which was susceptible to Biometal infiltration. Those who knew the frequencies of the communication system would know every single thing that blue banana did. So indeed, it is risky to have one starship remain in the Solar System.

Several hours later, all ships in the Solar System returned to the Banana Universe except for the Endeavor. The Sun was abandoned, leaving the intricate structures to be pulverized by the Sun's intensity. Every piece of Biometal the Banana Empire had control of was taken to the Banana Universe, effectively ending the Empire's role in the Solar System.




October 25th, 2016 - Arabian Peninsula, Earth
2300 Hours

"Sir, Stealth Unit 0472 has reached the center of the Arabian Peninsula. They're waiting for you now." The Endeavor's communication officer told blue banana.

blue banana gave command of the Endeavor to his first officer, and immediately departed from the ship. There was no time to lose at this point. In less than six weeks the Animal Alliance will have a shot at destroying the heart of the Banana Empire. The stakes were high.

blue banana jettisoned himself using an escape pod, cloaked to avoid detection from human satellites, and had a slightly rough landing. This time the telemetry sensors were so accurate he nearly hit Captain Gros, which obviously would've killed him.

Within an hour of landing Admiral blue banana received a distress call. It was from the Endeavor. An unknown force shot Biometal rods straight through the ship, hitting and damaging several critical systems.

The Endeavor transmitted as much sensor data to Captain Gros as possible. "Senso----racked the Biometal rods origin, it app------hey ca----rom Mars' moon, Phobos." Their transmission was difficult to understand.

"Is it the Imperium?" blue banana asked.

"Poss--ly. Or the S.P.O.R.K."

"How long will it take to restore weapons?"

"We can get them back in a couple days."

"Do it. Remain in an extended orbit."

On Earth's surface things weren't so great either. Several members of the Stealth Unit swear they saw Biometal ships roaming in the distance, including Admiral blue banana. The only member who hasn't seen any is Captain Gros. The idea of having Biometal ships on Earth is disturbing due to the existence of a de facto treaty saying no Biometal is allowed on Earth. One possible link to the contingency is the legend of the Furykiller, but as far as the Banana Empire is concerned, it is merely a legend. Nonetheless, if the legendary Furykiller has returned, Earth may be his playground.




October 28th, 2016 - Egypt, Earth
700 Hours

The Stealth Unit had high hopes of finding the source of the tachyon field when they found the glorious Egyptian ruins. After all, the ruins did fit the description. Unfortunately they were not the fruits they were looking for. But there were many archeological wonders that mystified even blue banana himself. However, the fun in searching was quickly cut short.

Another distress call from the Endeavor. This time, twice as many Biometal rods were shot through the starship, destroying all but life support and engines, both were failing rapidly. Repairs would be impossible in the middle of the Solar System. There were only two options: the Endeavor is abandoned and the crew transports to Earth, or the Endeavor returns to the Banana Universe and leaves Stealth Unit 0472 and Admiral blue banana behind on Earth.

The threat of the Biometal ships and detection by humans stayed constant. If the Endeavor crew went to the surface, their chances of detection would increase immensely, but at least Stealth Unit 0472 would have some company. If the Endeavor returned to the Banana Universe, the link connecting the two universes would collapse, and couldn't be opened for several years, effectively trapping the Unit, and blue banana, on Earth for that time.

"Admiral, what are your orders? We need to do something now!"

"Go home, Endeavor. We'll be safe, trust me. We'll send all information we find over the TUCS."

"Captain, you'll be-"

"We'll be here no matter what. Transportation systems are gone, we're staying on the surface. Go home, help the fleet. That's an order."

"Yes, Sir. We'll come back for you."

"Good luck, Endeavor."

The distress call ended.

Everyone in Stealth Unit 0472, including blue banana, felt mildly disconnected. They knew they would be far away from their home for a long time. They also knew that through miracles they would be safe, they would return home, and they would complete their mission: find the source of the tachyon field. The fate of their people depended on it.

For behold, we are the leaders of our civilization. We have been given our mission to save our people, that they might continue to live.






The Banana Empire shall return.


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 Post subject: Re: The Battlezone Chronicles
PostPosted: December 1st, 2016, 11:53 pm 
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Location: Tampico, Tamaulipas, MEX
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01/12/2016


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 Post subject: Re: The Battlezone Chronicles
PostPosted: June 13th, 2017, 4:00 pm 
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Location: Mars
19 January 2010, Elysium


Daybreak.

The withdrawal was hardly what you’d call ‘organized’. A number of our battle groups had managed to outrun the advancing enemy, but the escape was achieved at a great cost to much of our standing forces on the front lines. My battalion had lost the majority of our heavy units, and we’d been left with nothing but three battered squadrons of tanks defending six APCs full of wounded pilots. Hardly what you’d call company-strength, but the ever-present rumbling of hostile artillery to our rear served as a reminder that we were the lucky ones. We continued to hear the rumbling for another hour before it died down.

Imperial forces harried us constantly since the start of their new year’s offensive. The Imperial commander, Bernard Eisling, had surprised our forces with heavy artillery bombardments on our forward positions before his units smashed into our defensive lines. While we had been well-accustomed to Eisling’s style of wearing us down with howitzers before mopping up our resistance, this style of aggressive, nonstop shelling mixed with masses of Grizzlies and bombers was a shock to our men. Within days we found ourselves pushed back along the entire front, and with it the loss of the Recycler Saratoga. We barely managed to reform a line via our series of outposts, but one by one they began to fall to this hyper-aggressive onslaught. It was around then that the General had ordered a wholesale retreat to the rendezvous, with what was left of the late General Kongo’s forces to perform a rear-guard action with most of their heavy units. While this order did allow us a chance to consolidate our forces, it seemed a bit excessive at the time…

It was only later that I found out just how dire the situation had become.

While we had taken a beating in the south, our northern armies had taken a far greater toll. Up there the enemy’s attack had been much larger and with a ferocity not seen since the beginning of the war. I could only hear bits and pieces of information as the communication networks became ever more spotty and overwhelmed with the constant transmissions. Whatever happened, we lost the Sally and Blacky, and with them most of their respective forces. I tried to bury the dread that I felt creeping in my mind, and rallied my troops to pick up the pace. ‘It wasn’t too late, we could still fight back’, I told myself.

Seven hours of straight travel was an aching pain for all of us, and no matter how hard we tried, our minds only served to worsen the feeling. I kept thinking back to when things were relatively peaceful. Our empire spanned nearly three-quarters of Elysium, well over a million strong, with an army that struck fear and awe from many…

...except for those traitors…

‘Those bastards, turning their guns against their own allies after months of peace and collaboration,’ I kept thinking, ‘laying waste to everything we ever constructed, even wiping out the spoils that we had conquered together’, it was only the sound of one of my subordinates radioing me that snapped me out of my thoughts. He reported that we had arrived, and before me lay the vast arrays of gun towers, defensive bunkers, multiple GOLEM units, and the entrance to the canyon sack that housed our rendezvous point, the capital.

With my battalion relatively safe behind the defensive lines, I dismissed the able-bodied troops to a well-deserved rest while accompanying the wounded to one of the military hospitals… one of the few that weren’t overcrowded with wounded. Among them were survivors of other battalions on the southern front, they made the bulk of the patients there. There were very few soldiers from the northern front there, and as I made my way through I started to hear more about what happened.

On the same day that the Imperial battle groups to the south began their offensive, Imperial armies in the north had also launched a series of coordinated attacks, but they were at a much greater magnitude than what my men had encountered. The defensive walls that once stood strong against the combined might of three hostile armies had been mercilessly pounded throughout the entire front. The enemy then focused their tanks and bombers on particularly weak sections of our defensive line and broke through. Once the tanks got past our lines, the front became a rout. The only thing that delayed the enemy were brave commanders who stayed behind enemy lines to cause as much havoc as possible. We knew that the Imperials were still a good ways off, and that our comrades’ sacrifices were paying off. None of us were about to let that go to waste.

Myself and a number of other officers were summoned by the General, and we were all taken by APC towards the center where we saw more and more troops massing. Even with the near disastrous situation outside, you could look upon the practical sea of troops that had gathered from across Elysium to defend this place. Among them scores of newly produced “howiziters” ready for deployment in the perimeter, with the latest super heavy tanks, almost equal in number. The vastness of our army was only dwarfed by the gargantuan shadow that had swallowed up the mass of our forces. Even after seeing it so many times, I could only stare in wonder as we approached the gigantic superstructure that was the pride of the GOLEM Empire.

Surashiga.

600,000 tons of bio-metal and engineering that would be the backbone of her army, we saw the twenty five scrap production fields working at full speed to supply her as our personnel carrier made a stop at her entrance. We were greeted by more officers who quickly led us inside towards the briefing room where General GOLEM waited. Upon entry we saw the General already seated with us and other officers on the round table. His face was quite calm for someone in his position, and welcomed us to have a seat so the briefing could begin.

Reports showed that with the complete collapse of the northern front, the Imperials there were speeding towards the capital much faster than anticipated. Long-range radar scans suggested that the first echelons of the Imperial Army would arrive in less than twenty four hours. It was a bitter pill to swallow, we’d been running from Imperials for days on days, and now we couldn’t even find a good respite within Surashiga herself. My fellow officers were on edge too, some murmuring talks of escape while it was still possible, others talking about a last stand and taking as many Imperials with us… few even suggested surrender. General GOLEM quickly silenced us, and told us that surrender wasn’t an option. He then revealed that due to the nature of the northern operations he believed that HyperFighter was personally leading the northern Imperial groups.

I think we all realized at that point that at the very least we had a chance of some form of victory. He was the Judas that launched his traitorous campaign for conquest that June day. The very symbol of Imperial treachery and by far one of our most hated enemies. If he was leading the assault, then no matter the losses we could take the chance of exacting vengeance on the kid and his manufactured followers. The chaos could be enough to snatch our survival from the jaws of defeat and push the enemy off the planet. The General looked down for a bit, as if in deep thought before immediately rising in agreement. We then went over our strategy.

Surashiga would be defended by a multi-layer defense from the canyon sack entrance all the way to Surashiga itself. Each line would be fortified by its own set of howiziter batteries, super heavy tanks, smaller numbers of GOLEM tanks, and their very own GOLEM wall. When a line was overwhelmed, it was to fall back to the next line, and so on. While the Judas was well known for his ability of quickly breaking through GOLEM walls, he has never had to deal with concentrated numbers as well as what we had here. The Imperials would smash their army at us at full force and be worn down by our heavy defenses. Once the advance was sufficiently slowed, we could look for an opportunity to cut the head off the snake.

The plan was relayed to the commanders that were stationed within range of the sack’s entrance and began work on the defensive lines. The General sent out troops from Surashiga to help reinforce the lines. We had mustered nearly a hundred thousand soldiers, and we had a place for all of them. Even the civilians were mobilized, digging ditches and assisting the scrap production effort to supply our troops,and our Pegasus portals were bringing in much-needed food supplies and medicines from our depots in the Asteroid Belt and Texas. In the background you could feel rhythmic thumping as more and more GOLEM walkers kept walking towards the lines from the Factory. With all the activity, you couldn’t help but feel that we’d be ready for whatever the Imperials could throw at us, I even forgot that it’d been more than two days since I last had a good rest.


20 January 2010


My battalion had received some reinforcements, and we’d been stationed in the Fourth Line not far from Surashiga. I think we were placed there since we were still worn from fighting. We were the second to last defense, and if the situation deteriorated any further there would be a call to evacuate all non-military individuals via Pegasus. I called upon my men, attempting to rally them to the importance of our cause. We had everything to gain from a victory here, and this battle would be our shining moment. I could see the look of exhaustion on my men, but I noticed that each one of them hadn’t lost their determination. They were still willing to fight and die for the great GOLEM Army. Thirty minutes later we heard the sirens in the capital go off. The Judas had arrived.

I quickly jumped into my super heavy GOLEM tank, and my men readied themselves for whatever came ahead. The thumping of the GOLEM walkers were now joined by the faint thud of artillery fire, and it progressively got louder as we heard the first reports coming from the front. The First Line had been blitzed hard by Imperial grizzlies. Their accursed thumpers had disoriented the walker lines enough for a breakthrough to take out our howiziters. Imperial artillery moved in and our forces there began to fall back to the Second Line. It was here that we began to see the flaws in our strategy. We thought that the GOLEMs would be able to commit to a rear-guard action as the rest of our troops fell back, but the Imperials quickly caught on and began harrying the walkers. With the thumper’s dangerous effect the walkers were separated far enough to give accurate support and were individually swamped by tanks and APCs.

I could feel my blood boil as I kept hearing the screams of our soldiers’ last moments over comms before they were picked apart by Imperial dogs. It was the FOOFEE incident all over again, and I almost wished the Judas got to the Fourth Line so I could collect some long overdue debts.

They moved fast, as we expected, already we heard the thunder of artillery, a mixture of ours and theirs. The Imperials didn’t smash into the Second Line like they did the first, but now we had direct artillery engagement with the enemy. This line was more fortified than the first, and our tanks engaged with Imperial wingmen with the GOLEMs as support. The fighting was getting better for us, the Imperials were slowing down, and with the fairly flat terrain of the canyon sack, our walkers had an easy time ejecting their targets. The Imperials quickly moved out of blast cannon range, and then all we heard was the sounds of the artillery exchange.

The shelling continued for hours as night fell and the Imperials seemed to settle down for a long siege. We had the advantage in that the enemy artillery had to move into our range before they could deploy. Despite the rapid loss of the First Line, our plan had worked. We had the enemy bogged down at the Second Line, our howiziters were firing continuous salvos on their positions, and morale climbed as word of our impregnable defense spread throughout Surashiga. In our confidence, some of us began to think on the next phase of the plan, and some of our few precious snipers were called in to reach the front lines in preparation for ending the Judas. The rest of us still kept a somewhat leveled head, especially as satellites showed more and more red signatures pouring in from the north. The enemy pulled their forces to just outside howiziter range, and we saw as their units started pooling together in great numbers. Tanks, APCs, and a hell of a lot of artillery. Scouts from the Second Line reported back a few images showing the masses of lights in the distance from the buildup. We suspected this would be the Imperial’s second wave, and that they intended brute-force their way through with superior numbers, rinse, and repeat.

Colonel Baethan and a few other officers elected to enact a slight change of strategy in order to conserve manpower and material. After seeing the positive results of the Second Line, They decided to pull units from Lines 3 through 5 to fortify it against the next big wave. Baethan figured that if we matched our opponent’s strategy and pooled our resources at the front, we could withstand the heaviest blow the Imperials could throw at us while conserving as many of our resources as possible. Once the enemy had exhausted themselves, the units left in the remaining lines would be fresh and ready to launch an immediate counter-attack. A few of us were uneasy with the change of plans, particularly with the movement of the GOLEMs themselves to their new positions, but the Colonel suggested that the large numbers of howiziters that would get there first would be able to lay enough of a carpet bombardment to hold off the Judas until the walkers arrived. Based on what we’ve seen, it was definitely possible.

Thirty minutes later the explosions coming from behind reminded us who we were up against...

From the Fourth Line we could see the flashes of light as the chaos commenced from behind our lines. Before I knew what was going on I drove my tank forward towards the center with two more on my six. We tried patching through to Surashiga, mixed transmissions and a lot of static as we got closer, with the only things we could make out being “...ejected….commandeered…” before everything suddenly went silent with a large flash appearing as we went over the Fifth Line. The main communications towers had been destroyed.

Near the scrap production yards where the comm towers used to be, we found a pitched dogfight of blast cannons weaving through the large supply depots erected there. Seven GOLEM tanks to four and it wasn’t until we saw the smaller group use a break in the fighting to run that we figured out who was who. I ordered my wingmen to open fire on the fleeing rogues as they rushed between the buildings onto open ground. For all their attempts to run, dual blasts always meet their mark. Three shots were all it took to send the first rogue skyward. Seconds later their friends joined them. It took a matter of minutes to round up the surviving Imperial pilots, a few manufactured troops among them, but the damage had been done. A number of silos near the depots were blown up, and with the loss of the communications towers we were cut off from our satellite radar system, and our ability to contact forces on the front lines had taken a big hit. We had a freshly made constructor nearby, but it’d take a while before all communication was restored, but the rising sound of artillery told us the Imperials were making the most of it.

Realizing the scheme, we rushed back to the Fourth Line as long-range communications flickered back to life. The Imperials caught the Second Line by surprise. They moved large concentrations of their howitzer units within firing range during the loss of long-range radar and using a few scouts spotted our forces for a devastating first bombardment. Despite the loss of first-strike capability, we returned several salvos to thin the enemy number, but we saw more and more red moving into the canyon sack, and we were no longer firing back as much as the enemy. Satellite revealed most of their forces still sitting behind their howitzer lines, and as our GOLEMs began to fall we realized the Second Line was lost.

The Colonel immediately ordered any forces that hadn’t reached the front yet to retreat back to their previous positions, but by that point the red on radar launched forward like a torrent at the failing line. Imperials found a disorganized mass of GOLEMs, tanks, and howiziters that they brushed aside as they began racing to the Third Line. My fellow officers knew that the Third Line wouldn’t last long now that it was understrength, and we were hardly in any better shape. It wasn’t long before the Third Line was under artillery bombardment, and this time we could clearly see the shelling from our positions. Radar showed it all, the rapidly advancing artillery, the waves of Grizzlies charging at our walkers, the squads of bombers set to break the line wide open, and that they did. The flashes we saw in the distance were the indicators that there had been a breakthrough, the Judas would upon us soon.

I rallied my men on comms for what I knew may be my last chance to speak with them. I told them that even under these conditions we still had our mission. That we had to do everything in our power to stop the Imperials here. Our families and friends back in the center depended on us making sure that we made our foes pay a steep price for every inch of ground they gain. If our demise here was inevitable, each and every second of our deaths could save the lives of loved ones and comrades behind us. We were going to make this our finest hour.

Barely ten minutes later the first hints of vehicle lights appeared from the harbingers of our destruction. We knew what we were about to face, but seeing it before my eyes brought a slight shiver to my spine. The radar showed a sea of red approaching us.

What we saw was an ocean barreling down upon us.

Enemy grizzlies were leading the charge. We knew the artillery wouldn’t be far behind, and I told our remaining howiziters to fire at will at any enemy artillery batteries as they got into range. We were going to soften them up as much as possible before they retaliated.Our GOLEMs were situated by supply towers to provide additional ammunition when needed, but I told them to hold their fire. I wanted them nice and close. 300 meters… 250 meters… 200 meters… 180 meters. I unleashed the GOLEMs. The thunderous clap of their blast cannons shattered the advance echelons of Grizzlies, and they were too close to get out of range. More were coming, however, and knowing the slow rate of replenishing ammo, I unleashed our ground troops and fellow tanks and light tanks into the fray, the rest of the commanders followed suit. We were outnumbered, but our heavy weapons clearly evened the playing field.

I fired my shots carefully, mainly searching for high-value targets that would slow our enemy down. No sign of the Judas, so I focused down enemy personnel carriers before they dropped their cargo. Our howiziters were starting to get shelled from Imperial retaliatory artillery fire, but we were still able to keep the number of their howitzers in range to a relatively low number. Then the bombers came. I knew they were seeking to punch a hole to take out our howiziters, and quickly moved to intercept. I wasn’t getting much chance to replenish my shots so I aimed carefully at the advancing bombers, a few light tanks racing ahead to block their way. As if on a dime the thunderbolts suddenly changed direction towards the light tanks, and unleashed a barrage of rocket bombs at them. The light tanks disintegrated and the bombers shot again to continue to thin our numbers. I shot down two of them and moved to take on a third as I felt the ground begin to shake. I turned to see a thumper wave headed straight at me. Judas was here.

My GOLEM tank flipped around like a ball as I bore the full brunt of the thumper, a few of my tanks getting caught in the wake. In the spin I saw the red of dual SP-Stabbers hit my tank, some luckily whizzing by due to my erratic flipping from the thumper. Hull went to yellow, systems flashing as I struggled to regain stability. I just needed one clear window. I had three blast cannon shots left, thought to be enough to eject the traitor. The thumper began to dissipate, and I regained just enough control to weave out of another burst of SP shots from the Judas. He charged at me through the chaos of the fighting, with me charging my tank in full reverse trying to get a clear shot at his ship. The ground beneath began to shake as he launched another thumper. Judas slowed briefly as the next thumper fired. I saw the opening and weaved to the edge of the thumper wave as I fired the first shot. It hit home and the Judas quickly put his tank into a reverse, firing another thumper with more SPs as I hit him with the second shot. His tank started smoking as a couple of his shots hit their mark too. Hull readings were in the red, dodging was no longer a viable option, but then it looked like he was trying to disengage, his ship moving further back and he was no longer firing. It was then I realized he had exhausted his ammo reserves and I struggled to move my battered tank forward. I wasn’t letting him get away. The nearby Imperials were occupied by their own bouts with my forces, and for one last time I got the Judas in my sights. I fired the last shot at his fleeing tank.

Black smoke. He got away. I kept cursing myself as I rushed to the supply depots behind our GOLEMs to reload. That was my opportunity, and it just wasn’t enough. We were still holding our line, but the Imperials were continuing to send in units. During a point when the intensity of the fighting dropped, I called for a sitrep on our forces. More than half of our walkers were depleted on ammo and working on reloading. The rest of them were beginning to run dry themselves, and some were lost to a few APCs deploying soldiers against them. We were relying more and more on our groups of light tanks to return fire while our blast-heavy ships slowly replenished their ammunition. Hull situations weren’t much better, my own tank only barely in the green, with many more yellow and red ships in the field. Adding to the issue was the gradual intensification of Imperial artillery fire. They were bringing more and more howitzers, far more than our howiziters could bring down, and one by one our artillery units began to fall. Soon the shelling spread to the rest of our units and support buildings. Once the hangar fell, the enemy renewed their attacks. The Imperials were unrelenting, and with ammunition becoming more and more scarce, I knew it was only a matter of time before we were broken. I radioed our condition to Surashiga, hoping that the Fifth Line was ready to face this.

Once again the Imperials sent bombers, this time in larger numbers. We knew this was the coup’ de grace, and I ordered what remaining mobile forces we had to spread and engage. I wasn’t about to make this easy on Judas, and ordered the GOLEMs to focus their ammunition on the bombers, with our light tanks providing cover from other units. With myself providing long-range fire support, the bombers found themselves flanked and a number of them fell, however, our own units found themselves quickly engaged by Imperial tanks. A number of enemy razors also began flanking our ships, cutting fast and in between the gaps in our defense. My blast cannons were able to kill them fast, but it was too inefficient for it to be effective, and when the supply depots later fell to the howitzers, resistance was almost untenable. The surviving bombers launched their rockets, taking down our depleted walkers and any unfortunate soul near them. With them gone, it was like the dam was broken, and quickly many of my units were slaughtered before my eyes by the flood. Foot soldiers, officers, support troops, the Imperials spared no one and there was little I could do. My tank was almost useless at this point, the most I could do was fire a single thumper to slow the horde, but luckily a few of the surviving tanks rallied to my position, forming up on my six to provide supporting fire as we were forced back. We were ready to go out in a blaze of glory when Surashiga sent out a transmission to any surviving units from the Fourth Line. They were recalling us to Surashiga, orders from General GOLEM. I immediately ordered my wingmen to follow me and we broke off from the fight. Imperial units were still finishing off isolated pockets of my troops, but I had to swallow the bitter pill and leave them to their fate. At the very least they delayed the enemy long enough for my group to break distance towards the capital.


21 January 2010


Four tanks and two light tanks. Including myself, there were only seven survivors from the Fourth Line, and that thought weighed heavily on me as we approached the Fifth Line. Morning light was finally peeking out, and in the distance we could make out the silhouettes of GOLEM walkers and other buildings. The Judas was not far behind us, their advance being right on our heels, barely a kilometer out according to long-range satellite radar. The Fifth Line, while also weakened from Baethan’s folly, was still the most fortified of all the defensive lines. Part of me hoped they’d be enough. Passing over the line the troops looked alert and ready. They also had the advantage of being so close to Surashiga herself to benefit from her production capabilities. Entering the city, I saw howiziter batteries stationed on buildings, with a few GOLEMs sporadically placed throughout the streets in defensive positions. The General was taking nothing to chance, but I wasn’t sure whether or not this measure was an encouraging sight.

Arriving at Surashiga, we were greeted by General GOLEM and the surviving senior officers. They beckoned us inside the massive recycler while support teams were sent out to repair our damaged vehicles. I took a moment before going inside to request a standard AT-Stabber/Chaingun loadout for my tank. I knew that dual blast cannons weren’t going to work against what we’re fighting.

We gathered in the briefing room, along with about twelve other soldiers that were gathered by the other officers. General GOLEM then explained to us that the Fifth Line was probably going to fall to the Imperial forces. The evacuations had begun and tens of thousands of non-combat personnel and civilians were being transported to the series of old outposts in the asteroid belt. The evacuation was going as planned, but due to the quick advance of the Imperial Army, we were dangerously behind schedule. As such, a convoy holding high-valued individuals, such as general officers, their families, a large number of wounded, classified documents, and a large cache of supplies was to be created and then sent to one of the outlying portals where there was notably less traffic to escape. A number of us were visibly concerned. While it was important, we couldn’t escape the nagging revelation that none dared admit: a large number of civilians weren’t going to make it out in time, and our mission was essentially leaving them to their fate in favor of the highly-ranked. The General may have sensed our discomfort, as he said afterwards that troops were stationed in and around the city in order to buy as much time as possible for the evacuations to finish. Materials for the convoy were still being gathered, and we were given an ETA of about two hours before we would be ready to leave.

When the briefing ended, I stayed inside to wait for word of when we would be ready to leave. Looking out one of the windows in Surashiga, I saw the full scope of the evacuation through the dim morning light. At least three Pegasus devices were visible, and inside we saw packs of APCs and people on foot moving through the portals to the asteroid belt. Many of the streets and roads were packed with people, it was far from a smooth operation. More APCs were moving through less-crowded streets towards portals that were further out. Too far for walking distance, many people tried to hop onto the transports in order to hitch a ride. Many of the normal day-time operations were closed, and it was the first time I saw the scrap production fields completely silent.

Inside Surashiga there was also the sounds of panicked officers running around the superstructure. You could hear large stacks of papers and documents being stuffed into storage boxes. Anything else of major importance was immediately shredded and torched.This ensured the Imperials won’t be able follow us to our new hiding place. A number of staff left to be evacuated, but a large group of support staff vowed to stay and continue to produce units with the remaining stockpiles of bio-metal in Surashiga’s storage until the last possible moment. They intended to continue to buy as much time as possible for the evacuation to finish. True soldiers.

When we heard the first sounds of artillery from the Fifth Line, all the activity going on in Surashiga froze. I think that was the first time it really sank into all of us that we were playing out the final act of our great empire. The people in the evacuations became noticeably restless, as guards struggled to keep order as more people pushed towards the portals. Our convoy was still not due for forty-five minutes. I rushed outside to pick up my vehicle and meet up with my men. We didn’t know how long the Fifth Line would hold, but we were going to be ready for when it did.

While the Fifth Line fought a desperate defense against a relentless enemy, I did continuous patrols around the streets of the capital, inspecting road blocks and defensive emplacements our troops had set up. Colonel Baethan had volunteered to stay with the garrison and help shore up as many fortifications as possible. Even as the Fifth Line slowly buckled under overwhelming firepower, the colonel had tirelessly worked to ensure each new unit was placed in a strategic position to slow down the enemy. He himself set up a brief field headquarters smack dab in between Surashiga and the rest of his defenses. I wondered if this was his way of punishing himself for his mistake, but I thought he’d realize that such punishment was worthless now. I helped advise his efforts in the deployment of the remaining reserves of our super heavy tanks, some of which supported by freshly made GOLEM walkers, and in the moment asked why he volunteered to stay behind. He gave a short laugh and simply said, “A good officer stays with his men, even when hell is poised to swallow them whole.” It was at that moment the sirens blared. The Judas had broken through, and waves of thunderbolts and Grizzlies were flooding into the capital. The General immediately ordered me back to the Surashiga, the convoy was almost ready to leave.

Baethan’s defenses made the Imperials’ advance through the streets difficult. The defensive emplacements were holding back masses of troops, but now Imperial howitzers were being inched forward firing directly into the capital, and enemy spotters were revealing our defensive positions to them. Artillery shells were barely three hundred meters from Surashiga and the convoy, and when I arrived I saw the last individuals packing into the twelve APCs assembled. General GOLEM drove in with his own super heavy tank, dropping his sister off in an APC before rallying our ships. With the artillery support, the Imperials were now gaining ground more quickly, and radar showed our defensive emplacements falling one by one. We bid farewell the support staff and set off towards our portal as the first shells began hitting Surashiga.

Our first step was to get out of the capital center to more open ground where we could pick up speed. A road was originally clear for our route, but as Imperial units advanced, we saw as general order was slowly disintegrating. More and more civilians were packing onto the roads in hopes for a faster route to escape, and the guards that were originally keeping them clear found them overwhelmed. A few soldiers took tanks pulled mutinies in attempts to get their loved ones through the portal, and we ended up having to shoot down some of our own in order to get anywhere. The General determined that with the route getting more and more crowded, we would never get out of center before the Imperials were upon us, and said that we would have to take a detour near the peripheral roads. They were far from the inner-city Pegasi, and much less crowded, but at the risk of being dangerously close to the front lines and Imperial patrols.

Honestly, there was no choice in the matter. We made a beeline towards the front lines until running into the peripheral roads, and as expected they were notably empty. There were only a few gun towers and GOLEMs between us and the Imperials, and we quickly found a few ambush patrols of Grizzlies in our way. We opened fire quickly so they wouldn’t be able to report what they saw to the Judas. Nerves were running a little high as we knew that by any turn we could run into the enemy. At one point a thunderbolt got the drop on a few of our tanks and sent them skyward before the General took him out. We had a feeling the Imperials would know what we were up to before long, and had to keep moving forward, leaving our ejected troops on their own. The good news was that it turned out our choice was the right one. The Imperials were focusing their efforts towards the southwestern inner-city Pegasi where the largest masses of people and buildings were located. I knew those people were probably waiting for death, but I glossed over the thought and focused on the convoy as we navigated around the hot spots. Adding on to the bad news was the fact that if the Imperials got too far to the southwest, they would be able to cut off our escape and we would be trapped at the mercy of the Judas.

We worked our way out of the inner-city and into the more open outlying suburbs, where we were able to quickly raise the throttle. Now south of the capital, it was almost a straight shot to salvation. However, no matter where we were, we continued to hear the ever-growing artillery bombardment as we knew that now the whole city was vulnerable. The Colonel crackled in, saying how the Imperials had reached his HQ and that his vanguard was heavily engaged by overwhelming forces. Radar had indicated that a massive flight of enemy bombers were converging on his position and that they were in range of Surashiga and the communications towers. Comms cut off once for a few seconds before Baethan crackled back in one last time. “I lived to achieve my dream. Now I will die for it.”

Communications went silent. All we heard was the thudding of artillery and the sounds of our own engines until suddenly we saw a bright flash coming from the capital. The fireball was more brilliant than anything I had ever seen, and it seemed to illuminate everything around it. I felt my body shiver almost uncontrollably as seconds later we felt the ground shutter ever so slightly beneath us. Personal commlinks were turned on after the flash but no one dared say anything. No one could say anything. We all knew what that flash meant, and what had happened in the capital. We had lost Surashiga.

We no longer had long-range radar. We no longer knew the current status of our remaining defenders in the city, much less the Imperials. It was a numbing feeling. Back to less than square one, all that we had left to our legacy was in this convoy. The godforsaken Judas had taken almost everything, and now for the first time we were on the brink of extermination. The travel was silent as we eased our way out of the suburbs and made our approach towards the portal. Even the artillery fire from Imperial howitzers had quieted down. I could only guess that organized resistance had been destroyed and there were just isolated pockets left. I didn’t want to think about what happened to the people trying to evacuate.

Less than a kilometer out from the portal, we picked up red signals coming from the west-north-west. Through comms the General turned towards the signals and ordered us onto his six. Twenty-five signals moving in fast. A closer look revealed they were all Grizzlies. We were outgunned. We knew that. We didn’t care. The APCs were moved behind us and we formed a wall behind our General, ready to give everything we had left to protect the convoy. The General stayed in his position, likely weighing our options as the enemy platoon moved in front of our path to the portal. However, they stayed over 200 meters out and slowed, with the lead Grizzly moving slightly closer. A voice crackled into our comm frequency. “That’s you isn’t it, GOLEM?” It was the Judas.

The General told us to hold our fire and stay in position until ordered otherwise. He then switched his comms to a different frequency, shortly afterwards we heard the Judas do the same. It was a tense silence as the Imperials just stared us down, almost laughing at what they’ve done to us. Part of me wanted to open fire on those bastards for everything they’ve done. Another part of me wanted to trust General GOLEM’s actions, but I wasn’t sure what he was discussing with the Judas. I couldn’t believe he was discussing a surrender. I wouldn’t allow it, I was ready to die before being held captive by these bastards.

The silence remained for a few minutes, but then without warning, the Judas turned his ship towards our ruined capital. His other units pulled in line behind him, and without a single shot fired they drove off. The General radioed in that we were continuing on to the portal. I never learned what was said between those two, but the Imperials weren’t going to continue their pursuit.

We were greeted at the portal by a few of our turrets standing guard by its entrance. A few of the portal’s engineers came out to greet us as well, some ecstatic that we had managed to reach them. Myself and another tank did a scan of the immediate perimeter to ensure we were secure while the engineers set the coordinates. We had no means of destroying the portal after we went through, and while a couple of us were willing to volunteer to stay behind and stranding ourselves, General GOLEM countermanded. He said that there had been enough sacrifice. In the end, the engineers decided that they would give the portal a timed automatic systems-wipe. Anyone who reaches this portal after us would never know where we went.

The Pegasus was activated for the last time by the hands of the GOLEM Empire. One by one the APCs went through the portal and to salvation, General GOLEM and the escorts would follow them. In a sense, we did ensure the legacy of our empire remained intact, but the cost of what we lost was just too great. Even at this distance you could see the ashes from the capital, and that numbing feeling ached my core. I told myself that this wouldn’t be the end. The Imperials would get their due, I promised myself in front of the bright light of the portal. One way or another I’d ensure that they get what’s coming to them. They will know the pain they have caused to thousands. The Judas will bleed. With that vow, I took a breath, and went through the portal to the other side.


-Commander William Swett, GOLEM Empire




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