Part 39: Run Silent, Run Deep
Just making sure everything's all right.
Uwah-hahaha! No need to worry about me! Everything's in tip top shape! Don't worry! We'll smash up the Legion just like we smashed up Porkchops back at Far Port!
You know Chigara tells me that you've been acting differently.
O-oh, did Chigara tell you that? Eh-heh ... Well, I just realized. Maybe I haven't been taking things seriously enough, you know? I'm not just a random girl any more. There're a lot of people counting on me. I know it's far away, but one day, we're gonna liberate Ryuvia from PACT. And then I'll have to lead everyone, just like my father and mother before me. I know I'm not exactly cut out for that kinda stuff, but I still gotta try my best!
Wow, really? I'm impressed, Asaga. *pats on head* You've really come a long way.
Eaahh, nuthin'! I'm the Queen of Ryuvia ya know! I'll let you know that normally, patting the Queen of Ryuvia on the head is a capital offense, even for a starship capt'n! But since you're my captain, I'll just let ya off with a warning!
I'm grateful for your generosity, your highness.
Uhh... Claude wouldn't have done anything weird to you by any chance, would she?
You know ... Like poke you in embarrassing places ... Or touch you for no apparent reason ...
I was merely giving Sola the finest medical attention this ship has to offer. And yet you feel the need to lob these scandalous accusations at a hardworking professional like myself ...
Nothing about your outfit is professional! W-wait Sola, I didn't mean it like that. Claude here's been arrested for medical malpractice several times! I was just making sure-
Oh captain! B-betrayed by my own comrade in arms. I-I'll just ... go sulk in a corner now.
Good. Anyways, is everything alright, Sola?
Therefore, I had the doctor perform some tests to determine the exact duration of time I was in cold sleep. Based on the most recent set of tests, the doctor believes I was frozen for merely three months.
Wait, three months!?
The findings have baffled me as well. The circumstances around my survival have been inexplicable. My body should have been vaporized the instant the Final Tear was activated. The mere fact I was put to cold sleep is an anomaly in and of itself. The duration of my sleep only further complicates the mystery.
Uh, are you sure you're from 2,000 years ago?
C-captain! You hurt Sola's feelings!
Sorry, I was just making sure! Well whatever it is, it doesn't change the fact you're with us now.
Eeehhh ... You better stop that, captain or else you'll have an entire squadron of jealous girls after you.
Just stop talking, Claude.
I remember my time as clear as day. Further, this world is as foreign to me as my time would be to you. Yet, I have no recollection of how I was put into cold sleep mere months ago, or how I even ended up in your time in the first place.
The Lost Technology we've seen so far have been pretty advanced.
I will continue my research before forming any conclusions.
All right. Tell me what you find. I'm curious too now.
I will, captain.
In the mess hall ...
How's it going.
Just enjoying the view before the storm hits. Rumor has it that you're cooking up a plan to destroy the big beast once and for all.
Easier said than done, I'm afraid.
Hey, here's a tip from someone who knows. Don't be so twisted up all the time.
Look, you pretend to be all smiles with the crew, but we all see the dark clouds gathering over your head. Honestly, it's starting to make me uneasy too.
... I won't let it affect my judgment.
You know, when it happened to me, I was just twelve years old. The Alliance helped me out a bit. Let me survive. But after I turned sixteen, I was out of the system.
You regret anything?
Regret? Yeah. Always felt like the only thing that could make you happy is killing the bastards responsible for it all. But in the end, there's not a goddamn thing in the world thats going to bring them back.
Well, don't be too down. We've got more reds to kill.
Were you even listening, captain?
Power down all non-essential systems. Give us as low an electronic signature as possible. I want passive long-range scans around the clock. If you see anything suspicious, relay it to my office immediately.
Captain, Admiral Grey informed me before we warped that Alliance reinforcements are 45 hours out. In the meantime, he bids you good hunting.
Thank you, lieutenant.
XO, open a shipwide channel.
All hands, this is the captain speaking. We have just jumped into an enemy-held system. Our prey is the PACT superdreadnought Legion. We are outnumbered and outgunned; we cannot afford another close call like Ongess. That ship destroyed Cera City in one shot. And it will do the same to us if we are not careful. But whatever it is that PACT is plotting out here, we will get to the bottom of it. Shields out. Ill be in my office, Ava.
Captain, our long-range passive scans got a hit almost immediately. I ordered the optical sensors trained on the area and well, take a look for yourself.
There appears to be a sizeable PACT and pirate fleet protecting it, but the design doesn't match anything we're aware of. There's too much electronic interference due to the station's close orbit around Helion to get more detailed readings.
PACT wouldn't have deployed the Legion along with a fleet that size unless that thing's worth protecting. Lets go take a look. Fire the engines for one burn and take us in on a ballistic course, using the star to mask our approach. They're using the interference from the star to hide their activities, but we can use it to our advantage as well. We'll keep monitoring the situation until the Alliance fleet arrives.
11 YEARS AGO
Her dad's usually starside. He's a pretty important person, so he's rarely home.
Are you sure you don't just invite her over because you like her?
Let me see your datapad Ah, I knew it! You have a holo of her set as your background.
T-that's just a photo from our training trip!
So you've even gone to the beach with her ...
I was with four other people!
Oh well. Hurry up and just get married already. That way, we can all live together under one roof!
I sure liked you better when you were six. Stop that!
Looking through my messages! There's nothing interesting there anyways!
Then what's the matter if I look?
Give me that!
Watch where youre going! What were you doing, running like that?
Chasing after a nefarious imp.
I don't suppose you're going to help me up?
Come on, let's go.
(Once I get home ... She's gonna get it!! Should I put a Devorak bug in her bag?)
Your face. You look like a crazy person.
Lets see it.
Any ideas what the hell that thing is?
I'm running these more detailed scans through the Alliance's database but I'm not getting any hits on any known PACT designs. Wait. A hit. From our own database.
What is it?
Get the chief engineer up here.
Uh, okay. Chigara, report to the bridge immediately.
However, it has been recreated on a far larger scale.
Theyre trying to open an artificial black hole.
PACT is creating a doomsday weapon. One that will not destroy just cities or fleets, but entire systems.
There wouldn't even be any point in having fleets with a weapon of that magnitude. We cannot allow PACT to finish construction on the Paradox Core. It's no exaggeration to say that the fate of humanity rests on it.
How could PACT even have the knowledge to build such a weapon?
I have no idea. Everyone who had any knowledge of the Paradox Project was killed in the Diode Catastrophe. I had always believed that the knowhow to construct such a thing had died with my people.
One mystery after another Chigara, help Ava draft the battle plan. The Alliance fleet is still 20 hours out. As soon as they arrive, we're going to hit that Core with everything we have while it's still under construction.
How do you know it's not already operational?
The Legion and the combined PACT/pirate fleet are still nearby, guarding it. Activating the Core would mean the loss of them too. On top of that, if Arcadius is aboard the Legion well, if there's anything we know about Arcadius, it's that he's not big on heroic sacrifices.
Understood, captain. We will ready the plans.
I have been informed construction is progressing as planned. Soon, you will have a weapon rivaling the power of the ancient Ryuvian Emperors.
Rise, Fontana. It is a pleasure to finally see our creation with our own eyes. When we first saw its light when it was born on Diode, we witnessed the beginning of a new era in the saga of human progress. A weapon so terrifying it will end all wars. As brothers and sisters, we will all be united in our fear of the Core. Yet, our victory is not yet assured.
The Sunrider seeks to foil our plans. It awaits nearby.
My leader? But our scanners have not ...
Find it. And bring the princess to us.
A-as you command! I will not fail you again!
Soon, we will have all the keys to unite the galaxy under our cause. Do this, and your place at my side as the successor of PACT will be assured.
Understood! I will depart at once!
11 YEARS AGO
For the Space Force.
(That came completely out of blue!)
What do you think about it?
W-what do I think? Uhh Well, I'm happy for you. Isn't that what your dad does? You're following in his footsteps. I'm sure your family will be proud to have another Crescentia serve Cera.
I wonder ...
So, when are you leaving?
I'll be flying out right after graduation.
That's quick. Well I'm going to miss you.
Will you be back?
O-oh. I see.
I guess I always knew you'd do something amazing.
Yeah. So you're gonna be in space, huh. Sailing through the stars on a mighty spaceship.
Sounds like a dream.
It's not anything special. Did you know that on Solaris, there are so many spaceships coming and going from orbit that you can see lines of moving lights from the ground? Like hundreds of glowing ant trails in the sky.
I saw a documentary on the holo once. Who knows. Maybe you might even see it in person one day.
I'll be right there.
Contacts. Both pirate and PACT.
Do they know were here?
We don't know yet.
Did anything happen that might have tipped them off? Electronic failures? Gas ruptures?
Negative, captain. I already had engineering run a comprehensive diagnostic on our systems.
Shut off all of our non-essential systems. Reduce our power signature as much as you can.
Understood, captain. Going dark.
Now we wait
Enemy contacts altering course. They are turning towards us.
Enemy contacts at 60,000 kilometers. They are slowing to intercept.
Fire the maneuvering thrusters. Adjust our course point niner, five, three.
Firing thrusters No change in the enemy's course.
Enemy contacts have adjusted their course to match us and are still on an intercept vector.
Damn. Battle stations! Bring all systems up to full power. Get our pilots into their ryders and start calculations for emergency warp out!
Aye captain! All hands, battle stations, battle stations. Set condition one throughout the ship. This is not a drill, repeat, this is not a drill! The enemy has found us!
Incoming transmission, captain.
Fooouuunnnddd you ~
Heh. More slip ups. You've been losing your edge.
You're fighting for the wrong side, Cosette. That thing that PACT's building isn't going to be used for galactic peace. It's a weapon of terror.
I was about to tell you the same! But enough talk! This is the end, captain!
The radiation from the star will complicate things. At least 15 minutes.
Looks like we'll have to hold them off for that long. All units, launch!