Part 41: Auroran - Part 10 - May 28th, 1180 NC: MarathonMay 28th, 1180 NC: Marathon
Suddenly, a subplot appears!
You are going through your post-flight routine when you feel a buzzing in your message comp. You quickly finish shutting down the system you were working on and patch the message through. You aren't surprised to see Kuron's face, and you readily agree to make your way to the Great Hall to meet with the Council.
You walk into the council meeting and are surprised by how excited the delegates look. Kuron waves you to him, and begins to tell you the news.
"Wolf," he grins "We have had some exciting news. The Federation have a travelling prison ship called "Desolation". They keep it on the move most of the time, and a number of our operatives that have been captured by the Federation have been placed on 'Desolation' for interrogation and torture purposes.
"We have finally been able to get a lead on where the cursed ship is going to be at a specific time. We have estimated that you should make it if you leave today, in fact very soon, and get to the Arcturus system and disable it. Once you have, it shouldn't be too much hassle to board it and capture it. We believe that it will only remain in system for another few weeks, so don't waste any time getting there.
"We will be sending a team of Skullsplitter Assault troops with you. Causing a riot amongst the prisoners will be very easy, and in the ensuing confusion, free our captives. Then transport them immediately back here."
There's a pretty strict time limit on this mission that they don't tell you about, so futzing about isn't recommended. I buy a carrier regardless - properly tearing it down and outfitting will have to wait.
We arrive and I send out the fighters. The enemy ship is disabled off-camera by the fighter complement before the escorts can react - they run away once their charge is incapacitated.
The fighting is still raging outside the door as you unlock the bonds of the Heraan Prisoners. Around you are the badly beaten but still defiant warriors from all the other houses of Aurora.
You are appalled at the conditions these men and women have had to live under, but the number of men places you in a predicament. There are simply too many than berths on your ship.
You are still wondering what to do, when one of the Dani warriors step forward. "Wolf, your fame precedes you," he holds out his hand, and you grip it wrist to wrist, warrior-style, "I am Vaxs Starchaser, warrior of Dani House. I have been imprisoned on this damned ship for almost five years. Most die after five months. Do you have any plans for it once it is yours?"
You consider for a moment, and finally tell Starchaser that you do not. Starchaser smiles a wicked smile, and asks if you object to him piloting it back to Aurora, with the remaining Aurorans as crew, so that any surviving Federation Guards may stand trial for their deeds. You cannot think of any better way to handle the situation, and, gathering up the Heraan warriors, head for your beloved abusive husband.
We're immediately sent out again. In the lull between jumps, I capture myself a Heraan Va Ytreck class carrier - the absolute best variant, bar none. It has over twice the space of other carriers, weighing in at a truly ridiculous 1270 tons of outfit mass. I strip out all the fighters and railguns and pile on thunderhead lances, all the fusion pulse weapons I can get my hands on and 300 tons of armour. With engine upgrades and point defense weapons, we become an unkillable fast battering ram. There's enough space to even put fighters back on, and I do so, loading Pirate Thunderheads, Thunderheads, Firebirds, Phoenixes, and Pirate Vipers on. It's a fearsome complement. A handful of EMP torpedoes and 18 Marine Platoons round out the ship.
The ship of course comes with a snazzy new interface panel.
Upon landing the released Heraan warriors cram into the bridge. A lean wiry warrior called Ivo Stormbolts steps forward.
"Wolf, as our new Thurokiir, I must report. While we rotted in that filthy Federation hulk, a few of us formed close ties with some Vell-os prisoners. We exchanged pledges.
We said we would try to free them - not just busting them out, but instead freeing them from the "Collective".
The Vell-os are able to communicate to each other through their thoughts, but at the end of the Vell-os wars, the Federation imprisoned the Vell-os into a controlled version of this "mind". They made the Vell-os wear collars, which disclosed their thoughts and made them slaves.
To free them, the Vell-os said there was an ancient artifact on a planet called Korell that would re-awaken their subconscious minds, giving them more power to break free of the Federation Collective. They pledged to us that they would give us some information to further our tech development.
These Vell-os prisoners were recently transferred to a Medical Research Facility on Syracuse in the Galvan system. Some of us had been forced to work there, and the experiments are horrific.
We ask for leave to rescue them. We gave our word. We need to get to Syracuse as quick as possible, disable the station and rescue those Vell-os.
Off we go once more. We run into someone who disapproves of our fighter-launching.
You consider all that you have been told. The stories you have been told of Vell-os capabilities are amazing; near mythical ships that are capable of feats no other ship can match. The Heraan will be in a position to help these Vell-os and maybe gain a little of the technology the Vell-os used to have. You ask Ivo if he and his men have had time to plan the attack.
He grins, "Wolf, all we used to do all day was plan ways to destroy Federation stations. We have spent a while working on this Medical station, and so we know what to take out first. We can brief you on the way. There is also a more pressing reason to help these Vell-os. The Feds put large Bombs inside our chest cavities. Damn things are very uncomfortable, and make breathing a bit hard. We are given a swipe by a code machine every three months, but as far as we are aware, only the Vell-os have the know-how to remove them. Each one would blow with enough force to pop your hull, so I suggest we get moving, and fill you in on the way."
You hastily agree, and give the order to head for Syracuse. When you get there, you have to somehow gain entry into a high-security medical facility, free a bunch of Vell-os slaves, take them halfway across the known Universe, and then maybe get some new technology. How hard can it be?
There isn't too much resistance, nothing certainly out of the ordinary for a raiding Auroran carrier. It's light to the point that our fighters tear them apart before we get into stabbing range - I think I'll keep them on board during raids in the future.
The captive Vell-os look as if they have seen better days. They are gaunt and haggard, and many of them bear signs of the barbarous 'experiments' carried out by the Federation Scientists. The look of appreciation on their faces brings a tear to the eye of the most hardened of your warriors, and they quickly line up to be drugged unconscious. You ask Ivo why this is necessary, and he explains that the Federation would be able to track the Vell-os through their collective if they were conscious.
As your warriors carry the Vell-os back aboard abusive husband, your sensor operator turns to you, a wild gleam in his eye. You immediately recognize the look as the Fjargen, the wild fearful frenzied look of coming battle.
"Arbiter," he grins ruefully "A large Federation interceptor fleet has just entered the system and is moving in to block our escape."
You call for battle stations, and the crew quickly rush to their positions. Casting your eye out to the main viewport, you curse roundly. The Federation are trying their utmost to stop you, and you are greatly outnumbered. You will give them that; at least they make a good fight. The battle lust fills your veins, and you bark out the order to attack...
We've got 14 Fusion Pulse cannons in some form bearing down on enemies, a higher top speed and turning rate than any other warship, EMP torpedoes to make sure they stay still, and all the inertia that comes with a 1.2km ship. The enemy fleet disintegrates before our cannons - the targeting reticle cannot even change quickly enough to keep up with how fast we destroy armour and shields.
Destroyers last about 1.5 seconds to close-range fire. Fed Carriers last 3.
This ship is stupidly powerful - anything that gets within stabbing range will die, and given all the uparmouring, everything can get within stabbing range. We charge the fleet head-on.
Even the Vell-os can't withstand this kind of firepower. Soon enough, it's all over.
So which one is Ory'Hara?
You arrive on Tranquility with your crew on the verge of collapse. They have been fighting solidly for hours, round the clock, without complaint.
On landing you revive the Vell-os. They are groggy at first, but are soon revived with the expert medical care provided here. Within hours many of them are looking better, and they explain that their nano-technology enables them to recover far faster than the rest of humanity could hope for.
"But we need to be moving as soon as possible KarHallarn," says a woman named Llanwyn, who seems to be their spokesperson, "because the Federation will already be on their way here. We need to get to the planet Korell to gain access to an ancient artifact that will amplify our strength so that we will gain the strength to be free from these damn bonds.
"Would you be willing to take us?"
Break for lunch?
You arrive on Korell with your crew on the verge of collapse. They have been fighting solidly for hours, round the clock, without complaint.
On landing the Vell-os quickly begin scanning for the artifact they require and your crew escorts the Vell-os as they search. They lead you into the depths of a large cavern. Soon you stand before a large altar, carved entirely from a glowing crystal. You and your men stand in awe, as the Vell-os encircle the altar, standing equal distances apart. As you watch, they begin to glow dimly, growing in intensity, until they cannot be looked at directly.
Suddenly there is a burst of blaster fire from the cavern entrance, and Federation troops stream into view. Your warriors return fire. Abruptly the glow stops, and the cavern is pitched into total darkness. After a pause, the battle rages again with IR goggles.
The Vell-os move towards the feds as one, blocking blaster bolts. The Federation troops drop their weapons, shouting, and before their eyes, they melt. They retreat back around the bend.
The ground then rises, climbing to seal off the tunnel. Llanwyn steps forward, and tells you that the power released during their ceremony has enabled the men and women before you to gain immense power over the physical world. However, they need to rest before they are able to vaporize another tunnel to the surface.
You are still reeling when there is an earth-shaking explosion, and the tunnel reopens. Federation troops pour through the breach, brandishing their hand to hand weapons. Your warriors yell in joy and frenzy, drawing their axes and blades and rushing to the attack. A wild melee develops, one in which the Federation are badly outmatched. Llanwyn says he needs you to hold them for about ten minutes, before the Vell-os can make a path through the rock to the surface.
The melee is short lived, with the remaining Federation troops pulling back, leaving at least ten times their number behind in death. You wipe the sweat from your brow and turn to see daylight burst through an eight foot high new tunnel to the surface. Your warriors stream out, expecting trouble, only to find an abusive husband waiting for them. The Vell-os have apparently moved it to the new exit through their power, and you begin to doubt whether they even need you any more. As if in answer to your question, many of them slump to the ground, exhausted. In the distance, you see Federation ground forces racing towards you, and your men hoist the Vell-os aboard once more. Before too long you are breaking orbit.
For what it's worth, EVN came out a bit after the original Halo FPS. There's a few references scattered about the universe. We show up. I'm itching to test the new ship against some Polaris designs, but they're not shooting at us for once.
Llanwyn steps onto the bridge with a grace you find hard to grasp. Men and women alike have all been touched by the grace and humility of your passengers, and the gratitude of saving their new shipmates from the terror of the Federation bio-bombs.
"Wolf," she smiles "You and your crew have suffered terrible privations in order to save us from the Federation, and we are extremely grateful. However, we have another request to ask of you. We are in need of transport to the Polaris station they call Nil'a Mjolnir in the Mjolnir system. Once we are under the protection of the Polaris, we will be able to begin our fight to free our people telepathically from the Federation's collective. Would you be willing to transport us there?"
You consider for a moment, but your decision is already made. You have sacrificed for these people, and to deny them now would cheapen the deeds of your warriors terribly. You tell Llanwyn that you will take them. She smiles, and tells you the co-ordinates. It will be a long journey, but no longer than it has been already.
We could take them. We take them to Kel'ar Iy, in fact.
You and your crew are amazed at the response you receive upon entering Polaris space. A flight of fiendish looking fighters slowly surround your ship, and you are about to call for battle stations when a hailing channel is offered, and an audio only message instructs you to land at the station.
Upon landing you are met by an elderly gentleman. He is old, but still has the look of eagles about him, and you are glad that he wants to talk rather than fight.
"I am Nil'Rabiska" he says "and you are Wolf. We have reason to believe that you have Vell-os passengers aboard. Is this correct?"
You tell him that you are Wolf, Thurokiir of Heraan house, and that if he wishes to harm your passengers, he will have a fierce battle on his hands.
He smiles, "Proud Arbiter, fear not our blows. An old communicator left by the Vell-os generations ago awoke from it's slumber ten days ago, and told us to expect your ship. We are here to escort you to Kel'ar Iy in the Kel'ariy system, where you will be permitted to land and rest. You have done your passengers a great service, and we will honor you." You gratefully accept his invitation, and head for Kel'ar Iy.
Back home we go. We've crossed the galaxy thrice in this subplot alone.
You are simply amazed by all that you see while at the Polaris port. The technology therein astounds you, and you realize just how empty your threats of combat would have been to these people. They are strangely aloof towards you, but they seem to treat you with quite heart-felt respect. You also soon discover that their repair crews are quite amazing, and within a few hours your ship is soon fully repaired, and if anything, restored to newness by these skilled technicians.
You are bidden a sad farewell by Llanwyn, who in leaving hands you a data-cube, telling you the information within will be of great interest to your technicians and scientists. She kisses you softly on your scarred cheeks, and begins to walk away. You call to her, wishing her luck in her battle with the Federation. She turns, and tells you that the Vell-os will never forget your place in their history, nor the bravery and sacrifices of your crew. With a lump in your throat, you turn and board your beloved abusive and set course for home.
Hm, what could possibly happen? Next time: Lots more ship-stabbing!
When you land you hand over the data-cube to one of the gathered scientists.
"This will make for huge advances in technology," she explains excitedly. "It will take some time to analyze and put to use, but you will be the first to hear of it."
With that they quickly scurry away to begin looking at the data, and you grin and shake your head at their excitement.