Part 42: Auroran - Part 11 - December 31st, 1180 NC: Strength and HonourDecember 31st, 1180 NC: Strength and Honour
Back to the main plot. We're heading off to meet the Dechtakar Hune and tour the border.
I found this in the "Gulag" system. Yeah.
Unfortunately, in a nation as immensely overpopulated as the Empire, crime is a major problem. And because the Moash House, as the First Family, remembers being forced to give up Heraan space two centuries ago, they have chosen to give responsibility for the holding of criminals to the Heraan House. This world, which was a pristine ice-world even six decades ago, is now an overpopulated and incredibly polluted prison-world. Siberia houses some 113 billion criminals sentenced under Auroran Law, and some thirty billion warriors and administrators to look after them.
Siberia's Bar posted:
The Heraan warriors who are posted here all seem to be discussing how to best rotate their manpower to allow the greatest number of them to actually be posted to a more honorable posting. You sense that many have a deep abiding anger at having to guard the criminals here.
Remember how the current Abusive Husband is a captured Heraan carrier? We kept the old one. It's the start of a grand fleet.
In a carrier, you can capture disabled enemy fighters without having to board them - they're automatically added to your bays upon capture, if you have the space for them. It's a nice touch.
I actually played this alongside the Vell-os subplot, so I'm upgrading the ship as we travel. At Heraan, we uparmour with 300 tons of carbon fibre and matrix steel.
Throughout the Empire, armor has been piled onto warships in an effort to make up for shortcomings in Auroran particle shielding. The slabs of matrix steel Auroran pilots and warriors add to their ships is indicative of this mindset; heavy but very strong, these enormous chunks of metal afford excellent protection against whatever unfriendly fire may come your way.
The invention of the carbon fiber technology has been lost in the turbulent eleven century history of mankind's adventures into space. Easy to produce and very inexpensive, carbon fiber shielding has been added to ships for nearly as long as humanity has been in space, or so historians say. At the end of the day, adding carbon fiber composites to your ship gives you a decent increase to your armor without draining your coffers or using up enormous amounts of your free space.
We jump to Rimerta to meet Hune. Owing to the complexities of Auroran space, it's faster to just travel through Federation space instead.
You land and meet Hune at the Dechtakars base. He is glad to see you, and delighted at your promotion. You tell him that the weight is hard to bear. He tells you that it will only get harder. You think on this and are forced to agree. You quickly inform Hune of your suspicions about the Moashi pulling Heraani forces away from key stations and spaceways. Hune pales and replies that it would be considered treason to accuse the First House of such treachery without proper proof.
"But that is why I am here to see you," you tell him quietly. "If it is untrue then you can charge me with treason. But Techerakh believed it, and the Moashi had him killed for that belief. If I am to convince the Auroran Council of this then I shall need an unbiased witness. In fact, brother, I need you."
Hune considers for a moment before saying, "I call a Debt of Honor on you, KarHallarn, that if you are wrong I will be responsible for your life." You nod your consent and reply "I call a Debt on you, Hune, that if I am right, you will come before the Great Auroran Council and give evidence of what you will see. Meet me in the bar in an hour," Hune nods his consent and you begin preparations to travel the border.
Hurry? Bah. This mission basically boils down to "visit two LPs at the North." Of course, I land at one, but the game crashes and I forget to revisit. Cue over two years of in-game time, flying to literally every LP in all of Auroran space and getting shot at for our troubles (and for carrying illegal EMP torpedoes). At least we get to explore quite a bit.
You and Hune set out with a minimum of delay, and soon begin your tour of the border, paying particular attention to the many Auroran 'Listening' Posts that make up the first line of the defense for the Empire. You plot a course and set off quickly. You have a feeling that time is short, and that if you aren't quick, then the Moashi will spring their trap before you have discovered the way out of it. You also realize the gamble you are taking. If Techerakh was wrong in his suspicions, then there will be another Thurokiirs Trial in the not-to-distant future.
Aria is the only planet in the Empire that has no land. As a result, only about three billion Aurorans live here, and most of them are involved in the largest aquaculture project in the Known Galaxy. The foods grown in the oceans of Aria push the Empire's food stocks into surplus. This is an absolute necessity, for every few years the food crops of one of the major houses fail. If not for the surplus stocks grown here, literally hundreds of billions of Aurorans would starve.
With our escort carrier running interference, I'm free to shank all the ships dumb enough to provoke a fight. It's hard to capture them because they just melt away before our close-range fire.
Aria's Bar posted:
This huge bar is filled with literally thousands of noisy off-duty aquaculture workers spending some of their hard earned money on a few (10 or 11) drinks.
Some gimbaled engines help stay on target.
Vectored Thrust posted:
This is another Owen Greylock special. He came up with the idea when he saw ancient drawings of aerial fighter-craft that had small panels on either side of their exhaust pipes to direct the thrust in one direction or another and enhance maneuverability. It took him ten years to perfect, but now the Greylock system is used by nearly all pirates throughout the Known Galaxy, and more than a few merchants and free-lance starship captains have also chosen to add this upgrade to their ships.
Sirius II posted:
Sirius II came off second-best in the cosmic game of life, and never developed an atmosphere capable of stopping enough radiation to allow life to begin. It does, however, contain many lanthanides and actinides in its crust, and has been heavily strip-mined since its discovery. Life is harsh here, and the fatality rate for miners is very high. Death usually comes from radiation exposure, or exposure to the unstable heavy metals mined here. The Krim-Hwa maintain a monastery here on Sirius II, where they dare the elements in harsh self-imposed penance, or as a test of faith for initiates. Other than the monks, who are called here by faith, or the miners, who are called here by money, nobody comes here by choice. Sirius II also serves as a processing plant for the shells of the Monkdillo. The monks (after whom the animal is named) lovingly extract the shells from the Monkdillos after moulting season, similar to sheep shearing on old Earth.
What's with this galaxy and bizarre initiation rites?
Sirius II's Bar posted:
You walk into the middle of a bar brawl. You duck a flying rock-drill, and attempt to order a beer, but you are blocked by the bodies of three young men as they hurtle across your field of vision. Needless to say, a rough place to drink.
Traveling cross-galaxy, a lot of innocuous transit turns into a raid when ships catch sight of our EMP torpedoes. Of course, they don't know that EMP torpedoes are the last thing you want to face down.
The named Fed Carriers - in this case UFS Enterprise and UFS Razorback - last a bit longer than their unnamed counterparts, but that is still a lifespan measured in seconds.
The Auroran central government tries to stop us too, like the Moashi running dogs they are. We capture a cruiser from it, adding to the new and improved wolfpack.
Mickle in the Mackle system. It's a funny name.
The construction of the first Mickle arcology only began two decades ago, and is not yet finished. Though the only inhabitants at this stage are the construction workers, the construction of an arcology requires such an enormous amount of manpower that the number of inhabitants is already nearly a billion, all of them necessary to the work effort. The arcology should be finished in another decade or so, and then the First Family will organize to ship in billions of people to slightly relieve the population pressure on other worlds.
We ambush some Moashi dogs raiding Vella territory, netting us another cruiser escort.
Mickle's Bar posted:
All the men drinking here seem to be overseers for the work going on around you. They are all complaining about the ridiculous demands being made of them by their boss in another system. They all end up leaving after grumbling that the only way to meet the demanded deadlines is to kill many of their workers.
Good thing we get a 900 credit/day income, as upgrading it to Heraan standards will cost several million credits.
Okay, last world, I promise.
Adek Loral posted:
When the soldiers from the Auroran region of space rediscovered hyperdrive technologies nearly four centuries ago, they immediately moved to take over as much of the surrounding space as possible. Eventually they reached what had been the Vella region of the Colonial Council, and began to conquer what had become a peaceful, agricultural society during the two centuries of isolation. A small group of men captured one of the soldiers' hyperspace-capable ships, and undertook the months-long journey to Aurora. Once there, they destroyed many major cities, which caused the Auroran soldiers to be recalled home. The 'renegades' then journeyed to all of the former regions of the Colonial Council and taught them the secrets of hyperspace technology. The leader of these men was named Adek Loral, and he never again saw his homeworld.
Adek Loral's Bar posted:
This filthy bar is filled with dirty, poor, slightly undernourished men spending what little money they earn on the only thing that allows them some relief in their lives.
Getting frustrated with this snipe hunt, we lead a raid on Moash instead. It's a recurring mission available in the BBS after you become Thurokiir.
Jumping into battle, my cheap thorium reactor decides to explode, completely destroying my ship. Whoops. Let's try again.
I will be placing you in charge of a few young warriors, who, like you, are trying to make a name for themselves. Head over to Moash and embarrass the Moash House by either killing their veteran warriors or forcing them to run away in fear.
Warning klaxons sound as the safeguards on your Thorium Reactor begin to catastrophically fail. As explosions engulf your ship, you curse yourself for buying a cheap knock-off instead of the real thing...
We should have an easy time of it - this is the fleet we'll be leading in.
We jump in. Three Moash ships are shredded almost immediately. A reinforcing fleet of cruisers and a carrier jump in, but we're already burning full speed right at them. Diving straight into railgun fire, we plow through and open up at stabbing range. All the explosions overwhelm the sound engine, leaving only a dull roar as the ships explode.
We get to Auroran LP V, 2 years later, when Hune decides that he's seen enough. Jerk.
You and your fellow warriors greet each other with gleeful bear-hugs and a lot of shouting. After you all celebrate each others' kills, and laugh at the ineptitude of the alleged Moashi 'veterans', you quietly head off to find the dockmaster to see if you are going to be recompensed for your services. He praises you heartily when you enter his office, and pays you the sum of 25,000 credits for your efforts.
Back to Heraan it is.
Hune has seen enough. Every crucial border post is being manned by predominantly Heraani vessels. Without a second thought he tells you to head for Aurora, but you tell him that you must use the trap the Moashi are setting against them. You will call on him when needed. He tells you that time is of the essence, and that he will make his own way back to Rimerta. You on the other hand head for Heraan.
No sooner have you touched down than there is a commotion on the flightdeck. You barely have time to disembark before a Dechtakars messenger steps forward and delivers you a data chip. You quickly load it into your wristcomp, and read the contents of the communique.
You gasp as you read, "House Moash has accused the Heraani of neglecting their duty to the Auroran Empire by not providing enough troops and vessels to man the Federation border."
You allow the rage to build inside you as you read further.
"They also accuse House Heraan of being in league with the Federation and of using their influence with the mortal enemies of the Auroran Empire to destroy the other four Houses in preparation for seizing the Empire."
The audacity of the Moashi amazes you. They have accused House Heraan of all the actions they themselves have undertaken. The communique demands that you travel to Aurora and speak on behalf on House Heraan. You stalk back into your ship, and quickly send a message to Hune, asking him to meet you on Aurora, as soon as possible.
And we're met by heavy resistance in orbit. Well, heavy is a relative term. Our cruisers lay down long-range covering fire and the Moash fleet is destroyed before I even get into range.
You decide that the best plan is to arrive on Aurora and deny all accusations. The Moashi will have discredited you with the delegates of the other Houses, so you will become the focus of their anger. It is only by luring the Moashi into believing that you have no defense that you will be able to crush them.
You are reminded of an ancient battle technique called the 'Hammer and Anvil.' Hune's information will be as the hammer; your presence will be the anvil, luring the Moashi into a position to be struck. It will not be easy waiting for Hune to arrive, but you know you must, for the fate of House Heraan may well hang in the balance...You set off for Aurora.
We prayed to Death, this is like some sort of terrible goffik fanfiction.
You land and immediately make your way to the Empire's Council Hall. It is immense. You make small prayers to Death that you will not be lacking in strength for the trial, push open the huge doors and enter. Shouts of anger and derision hit you like a blow. The Heraani delegates are looking particularly harried. You nod in greeting, looking up at their balcony, hoping your presence will give them confidence. Even though they know that what the Moashi have claimed is untrue, they have no evidence with which to defend themselves. Soon that will change! You stride purposefully to the center of the central ring, and await recognition.
Bak'ara, the head of the Moashi delegation and chairman of the proceedings raises his hand. An expectant hush falls over the hall. "Brothers and Sisters of Aurora, I give you KarHallarn, Thurokiir of House Heraan, come to answer the charges laid against the Heraani by House Moash, namely that they are treasonous dogs and that they are the enemy of all that this Council stands for. KarHallarn how do you answer?"
You take a deep breath. If your plan is to succeed there is only one way to place your enemies where you wish.
"Members of the Great Council, I KarHallarn, call upon you an Honor Debt. The First House is committing the very acts of treason they have charged against House Heraan, to destroy their age-old rival once and for all."
A roar erupts from the assembly, and shouts of derision wash over you in wave after wave of anger. Once some form of order has been restored, you continue.
"Delegates of the Five Houses, fellow Thurokiirs and Brother warriors, hear my offer. I pledge the existence of House Heraan as a counterpoint to my debt. I will see that House Heraan is dismantled, its wealth and resources distributed to the other Houses if I am unable to prove my claims. But, I demand a debt of Honor of the highest magnitude from all of you, if I can. All I ask is a small amount of time to prepare my case."
The Councillors and delegates look shocked and amazed by your statements. To refuse is to lose honor. Slowly, they all signal their assent and you walk from the Hall.
You spend tense hours waiting for Hune to arrive, and have never been so happy to see another person when you see him. You clasp hands warmly and tell Hune of the days events. His eyes widen in surprise at the audacity of your plan, but also he realizes that you know what is at stake, and that the Moashi will not be able to contradict the evidence of a Dechtakars, as Rimertans are beyond reproach.
You re-enter the hall, and take satisfaction at the look which crosses Bak'ara's face as he sees Hune behind you. You stand before the Assembly and begin the destruction of the Moashi.
"Brothers and Sisters, I told you before that the Moashi were responsible for all the charges laid against House Heraan. Now I bring proof. Hune, son of Lo Wang and battle brother of the entire empire has come to back my claims that the Heraani are not shirking their responsibilities to the Auroran Empire. Quite the reverse. As Hune will testify, there are more Heraani vessels on the border with the Federation than from any other House, and least from House Moash. The Moashi have barely any ships on the border, and yet claim House Heraan are shirking their duty. And where might those Moashi ships be? Perhaps they are at meeting with Federation spies, discussing the future of the MOASHI Empire?"
You walk to the projector and project the stolen documents from the Moash convoy, the documents detailing the increasing Auroran attacks on the Wild Geese of New Ireland, to disrupt relations between the Federation and the Auroran Empire. Many of the warriors present shout in anger, and the Delegates from the other Houses look to the chairman, enraged at this latest news.
"Furthermore, did any of you notice the three Moashi battle fleets waiting in the system as you approached? Yes, my Brothers and Sisters, the Moashi have been playing a duplicitous game. Imagine what they have planned for your Houses had they been allowed to finish this attack on House Heraan." You turn to Hune, who steps forward and corroborates all that you have said.
However there is a gleam in Bak'ara's eyes as he looks at you, and you know that the Moashi aren't finished yet... It takes many hours for the Council to reach a decision. Finally, with great satisfaction, you watch Bak'ara remove the charges against your House. After all this commotion, you decide to head to the bar for some light refreshments...
They couldn't have messaged us?
No sooner have you left the Great Council Hall, then a young Heraani warrior rushes up to you.
"KarHallarn," he pants, and you get the impression that he has been running a long time, "The Moash Fleets left Aurora hours ago, and appear to be headed into Heraani space."
Your blood chills. Realizing that they have failed in their bid to destroy House Heraan politically, the Moashi have decided to try old fashioned force of arms. You rush towards your ship, the House must be warned.
Your first communication is with Kuron, who is still overjoyed by your victory at the Auroran Council. But he quickly realizes the plight House Heraan is in. With the bulk of its fighting capability on the Federation border, there is little standing in the way of House Moash smashing Heraan and killing the Heart of the House. Kuron begs you to buy him some time to mount a defense. You tell him that you will try.
Next time: Revenge!
With three fleets heading into Heraani Space, the only way to stop them is to have your battle group hold them off until help arrives. It will not be an easy task, as the Moashi will outnumber them many times over. You quickly inform them of the situation, and they swear to hold to the last.
Jesura tells you what he feels for you, and is proud of your defense of the House. You tell him how much he means to you and blast off after the Moashi.
Your battle group will split and tackle two of the three fleets, while you will attack the Main fleet. The Moashi Mundokiir, Merrick'Ahh who Laughs at Death was responsible for the death of Techerakh the Bloody Hammer.
You spend a few minutes gathering intelligence reports and you can see that the most likely route Merrick'Ahh will take goes through Derlic, Vantra and the Heraan Astra systems. As soon as you have confirmed the ship movement reports you log off the terminal and head towards your ship. You will have your revenge this day!