Author Topic: Into the Eye of the Tempest [Short Story - Finale]  (Read 732 times)

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Offline Thanatos

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Into the Eye of the Tempest [Short Story - Finale]
« on: April 25, 2016, 05:10:02 PM »
I thought I finished this saga, but it seems I have forgotten to upload it. This is a bit of a problem, so I will try to finish it without the written original that waits at my home, 1,200 kilometers away.

Admiral Kirin watched the news report, beaming from the relay beacons. The transmission was intermittent, as penetrating the nebulae was difficult. They were not very effective in the substance of the Cloud, so they took rearguard, and relayed messages from the beacon to the rest of the fleet. And this one... this transmission...

"Cowards!" Major Sorun screamed, as he bashed at the handles of his terminal with his fist. "How dare they? Cowards! Dogs!" His face was red, his eyes were filled with tears.

The transmission itself was from Terra, from an Orbital News Outpost. They were tracking an unknown fleet weighing in at 160,000 tons, and that was just half of the bogeys they could see. Those too small to be detected by the actives, were seen by the outposts on Titan, which detected active sensor echoes, from 2 billion kilometers away. A nearby trading vessel with weak passive EM sensors also detected the ships from nearly a billion kilometers away, estimating the Gravity Pulse Strength of the Sensor at 78000. It was massive.

"We need to get back, Admiral. We need to go--"

"SILENCE!" My throat hurt. My hand was shaking. It took me a moment to realize how tightly my hand was clenched into a fist. How hard I screamed-- at my closest friend.

He fell silent, as obvious, but the tears in his eyes could not be held back anymore. They streamed, and even so, he was silent and still. Not even a twitch. A warrior out of reach from contempt or praise. Major Sorun was war itself-- nature.

"Major, I feel the same way, but we cannot get back in time. We have to finish our mission. The Legions of Light will protect Terra." I said. Truth be told, the Legions of Light were two Legions that were supposed to be in service to Terra- permanently. But no one has been to Terra personally in so many decades, sometimes we made jokes that news from Terra was just propaganda and Virtual Graphics, to keep us fighting. But now the jokes might become reality. It occurs to me, maybe that's why Sorun was crying. It took a very long time to have Sorun open up to us. He was too professional. Too sharp. He would never laugh at any jokes. On this one in particular, he would pull out his sidearm and threaten summary execution. But eventually he warmed up, and laughed with us. Does he feel guilty now, for laughing? For enjoying war? This was the price of war.

"Is this the price of freedom, Admiral?" He asked me, and I nearly bit my tongue. We were on the same wavelength, yet his honest self was always a step ahead. Aah, a long time ago, they once believed that warriors are first and foremost philosphers.

"Yes, Major. This is the price of freedom. This is the harvest that we reap."

"All ships, all ships, prepare for transit to the Tempest system. Expect a heavy firefight on the other side. Vae Victis, Guardians of Terra." The order finally came through, and we were about to assault our enemy's home planet.

"Do you know why we say Vae Victis, Sorun?" I asked over the comm as the Conqueror's engines started producing thrust again.

"To remind us of the losses we sustained in the 21st century, no?" He answered, with a question, and then turned to his own SIC and gave a wordless order to move to the navpoint.

"That is correct. There is a deeper meaning to it, but yes, you are absolutely correct."

"Deeper meaning, sir?"

"Mmm. That if we are not united, we will fall."

"Of course, that is what the Emperor always reminds us of. Woe to the vanquished. If we are not united-- we will be vanquished."

"But that is not the hidden meaning I was speaking of."

"No?"

I shook my head. "It is not as hidden as you might think, but rarely anyone even considers it these days: If you must fight and destroy someone, do it as brutally as you can."

"... I see."

They transited the jump point, and within 30 seconds their sensors were back online. 10 hulls of the Vulture class were scattered around the gate, obliterated completely. A missile streaked past the Harbinger, and struck what seemed to be lifepods of the Alien's destroyed vessels. Ships of other never before seen classes, with no weapon pilons, flashed in binary notation, in the IR spectrum, a message that none of us could understand for sure, but knew, instinctively, what it had to be. 'We are unarmed civilians, do not shoot.'

"Tell the Harbinger to target the 35cm at that ship." I pointed at the ship that someone already designated as 'Disco Ball'. In emergencies like this, it is first come, first serve, as far as naming goes, until an official classification is issued. "Gunner, fire a salvo at it as well."

"Aye aye, sir." The gunner replied. "Firing in 5, 4, 3, 2..."

The ship slightly vibrated as it launched it's missiles, and the Harbinger itself fired the thirty-fiver in unison, expelling a massive rod of tritanium through space, and it almost immediately struck the civilian vessel, and speared right through it. Then the missiles the Conqueror fired reached it, splitting into it's submuniton, and obliterated the vessel.

It was going to be a bloody day.

**************************************************************************************************

"Target the planet." I said, as the rest of the fleet made a cordon around it. It was the Conqueror next to the Midnight Sun, to fire in unison, 4500 tons of ordinance. It was a somber moment for the fleet, a rude awakening for us all.

"This is wrong, Admiral..." Sorun spoke over the comm-link and I shook my head.

"This is reality, Major." I said. "This is why we say Vae Victis before we are sent off. This is why we die proudly."

"This is why this will never end." He whispered.

I smiled. He was right. This is why Humanity will never find an ally in space. This is our Fate- our Destiny- and we made it ourselves, for ourselves. But was it our fault? It was not us who fired the first shot. Genocide? So what? The Universe is a big place, filled with countless lifeforms. Who cares if a few billion are erased. We are scum. Trash. Everything has a beginning, and everything has an end. As do we, so do they.

"You are not the only one who feels that way, Major. But in the moment of reality, they would make the same choice as we do, and wonder the same questions as you do. And they would pull the trigger, just like we would." I said, I said as I sighed. "This universe is rotten, Sorun. It is a storm of chaos, and conflict. We are the Eye of the Tempest, and only we can choose to who we give respite, and what else we allow to be swept away and destroyed."

It took over 3 hours to expend all the ammunition, and the planetary surface was no longer visible from the dust. I wondered about the stagnant beauty of the vista before me, and my thoughts strayed to Terra. It too was under siege. I found myself already resigned, that two species in the universe, lost their homeworld on the same day. What an irony.

"Priority transmission, sir!" The comm officer yelped. "It's from Terra!!"

"On screen." I barked.

"-- throw my warlike shield before me, come and lay on, demons. I am the Flame of Revolution, and I bring the Dawn. In this crucible of Hate, I will justly unravel you." The voice echoed as we watched a massive ship of Terran origin approach the enemy fleet.

"That is the Avalon, sir!" One of the engineers pointed out. "It actually exists?!"

A massive lance of brilliant light shot from the keel of the Avalon, and speared the enemy's largest vessel like it was made of paper, ten seconds later, countless more brilliant lances fired in unison, carving the enemy fleet's ships open. A thick stream of atmosphere billowed behind the massive ships, and arcs of electricity sparked inside them. Explosions crushed the hulls of some of them. The Avalon was so large that it dwarfed and briefly concealed the rest of the fleet that was escorting it. There were two Excalibur class destroyers, and the other I could not recognize. Probably as experimental and covert as the Avalon. The Legions of Light never shared information about their designs, and our collective heart was relieved to see that they did have fighting vessels.

"There shall be no mercy, Alien scum. No reprieve. Pray to your maker." The Avalon fired it's massive spinal laser once more. "Vae Victis." Then the transmission cut out, just as the Alien fleet looked to be falling apart from the combined firepower of the two Legions defending Terra. The image on the screen was still, the Avalon's massive laser brighter than the sun, and hundreds upon hundreds of missiles approaching the enemy fleet.

We were all awestruck. Silent. Yet, my heart was heavy with grief.

"Plot course to Acheron, we are returning home."

"Yes, sir."

We won. But at the end of the day, did we really win? Or did we sacrifice what remained of our humanity to exist a few hundred years longer?
 

Offline Thanatos

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Re: Into the Eye of the Tempest [Short Story - Finale]
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2016, 05:13:55 PM »
That is the finale! I tried to write it from memory of what I had one year ago, but really, it's tough to remember fine details, nor do I have it written up exactly what everyone's name was and who was in command of what, so I tried to keep it vague and mostly philosophical.

Truth be told, I never really got this far into the campaign, the slowdown became massive once a big unidentified alien fleet moved through my systems, and tried engaging all the civilian shipping flying around. But this would've been the likely result. I was quite surprised that I could have a 6 NPR same planet start, forcing alliance between us, and have the game run so long, and be so eventful.

I hope you enjoyed the read.

Finally, a note to a moderator: If possible, can the three short stories be moved into their own subboard titled 'Tempest Saga'?
 

 

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