Part 47: Götterdämmerung
We found you in the auxiliary control room all smashed up. The medics barely managed to get you into the nano tank in time to save you.
Not that. The Legion.
... You did it, Ava. Its gone.
You'll be in sickbay for a while. But Claude somehow managed to patch most of your good looks back together.
How bad is it?
They managed to regrow your arm. The coloration should naturally blend with use. As for the eye, well the Alliance has provided us with a few technological options that should work even better than your old one, I hear.
It was worth it to destroy the Legion.
We nearly lost you. I don't ever want anything like that to happen again.
... Once we return to Cera, I want to bury everyone, up on that mountain we used to play on when we were young.
We'll do it together.
I'm ... still tired You'll have to handle the paperwork by yourself ...
Yeah ... Shouldn't be a problem.
Later, on the bridge
At ease, lieutenant.
What's the situation?
We have now secured complete control over the Helion System. The remnants of the PACT fleet have withdrawn towards Ryuvia Prime. It appears that the fleet elements reporting to Veniczar Fontana are gathering there, while the remaining PACT loyalists are amassing at Cera for a final stand in the Neutral Rim.
(Fontana's betrayal must have rattled Arcadius ... or rather the Prototypes ...)
They're giving up on the Neutral Rim, and bunkering up for a defensive war.
The Emerald Fleet's got PACT on the run, captain! They were fools to challenge the Alliance! And the Sunrider too, of course! Alliance troops have secured the Paradox Core. It appears that during PACT's retreat, their plan to destroy the Core failed. Our combat engineer unit is confident that theyve disabled all of the improvised scuttling charges. Admiral Grey is personally inspecting the Core as we speak. He has asked you to meet him.
All right. Better not keep him waiting.
Understood, captain! Ill have a shuttle readied immediately!
Welcome, Captain Shields. Quite a grand control center, is it not?
The Paradox Core. A weapon more devastating than anything the human mind could conjure. So it is quite fitting, I suppose, that it sprang not from the mind of man, but from a monster. Whoever controls this weapon would have the galaxy by the neck. Entire systems could be destroyed in the blink of an eye. Fleets and armies would mean nothing. A new era, where entire empires could collapse in seconds. Nay. Empires, weapons, petty nationalistic differences would all be moot. The one who sits on this chair would cease to be a man, and become a god. A seat fit for any Ryuvian emperor. Or I suppose in our time, any emperor in general.
In antiquity, sons killed their fathers for such power ... brother turned against brother until everything they held dear burned to ashes. Let us all be relieved that such a dark age will never again descend upon humanity.
So you have come to a decision about the Core?
Yes. It must be destroyed.
*slowly moves hand away from sidearm*
Thank you, admiral. Many men died so that we could destroy this abomination. I pray the galaxy will never see anything like it.
Yes, yes as do I. Though, I am disappointed the battle was not won through our fleet's might, but because of sedition within PACT's ranks. Either way, though, this is the end of the war, Shields. With division amongst their leadership, they are finished.
What's our next step?
We will press on, further into the Neutral Rim. To Cera. With your homeworld liberated, PACT will have no other option but to negotiate or face a devastating charge into the heart of their space.
And what of the prototypes?
Our intelligence service has already made strides in locating their ilk. Which reminds me; I heard you captured one alive.
And I assume you don't intend on turning it over?
My forces performed the capture.
Very well, captain. I permit you to retain jurisdiction then. In any matter, these prototypes will be neutralized in short order, both by us and by PACT. I predict their new leadership will be more amenable to our point of view.
And what is that, admiral? What does the Alliance want from this war?
Peace. And freedom, of course. For the Alliance as well as the Neutral Rim. It will not be long now, captain. Cera will be liberated. Now, let us return this damned contraption to the fires and be done with this place. I can only take so much of this grotesque PACT architecture
(Honestly, I can never tell whether he's on our side or not ...)
With this, captain, the galaxy is saved. The Alliance has saved humanity.
Lets not get too far ahead of ourselves, lieutenant. We won this battle, but the war's not over yet.
(The Core is destroyed and PACT is weakened The war is at last going in our favor. Were my doubts about the Alliance misplaced? Too many things are going right ... or am I merely being too pessimistic?)
Sir! I promise you, you will not regret your decision to trust the Alliance!
I'll keep you to your word then, lieutenant.
You have my gratitude, also. For watching my back on Ongess. It was a ... dicey situation there.
Of course. And I'll gladly protect you again, captain! Ive been thinking the Sunrider feels different from an Alliance vessel. While I am not used to the lack of discipline the people here are my friends.
Sir! I mean no disrespect, but I just want you to know it is not merely duty which keeps me here! It's something more than that. Something much harder to obtain.