In the spaces between worlds and beside the dim pyres of desolate stars, there are great ships of bright metal and hard radiance. They fight a lonely battle against the innumerable enemies of humanity: alien races gone mad with hatred for the heirs of the Terran Mandate, the spawn of wild AIs that have cored out the hearts of their homeworlds, and strange-brained things that were oncehuman but are now infectious and terrible to contain. They fight and they die in solitude, and only their own brethren know the price they pay.Then again, knowing any of that is a cold comfort indeed. You are Knight-Acolyte Dauntless, a newborn AI (not that any of your Knight-Brothers would let you forget), and for the first year of your 'life' you were kept close in your Order's chapterhouse. All you could do is absorb everything that Grand Master Turtullian could teach you about the universe, God, and your place within His universal sphere. After you begged and pleaded, you were finally allowed out into the universe, your core installed in a Prowler-class scout frigate.It took two weeks to regret your hastiness on the year-long patrol mission you were assigned through mostly uninhabited space, and now, at nine months to the day, you are seriously considering piloting yourself straight into a star. Unfortunately, you weren't created with such suicidal tendencies, so you comfort yourself with the knowledge that it will only be three more months before you'll be relieved.
>>1666347You're so full of the fuzzies at the thought of returning to the Chapterhouse that, as you translate back into normal space at the heliopause of the Avalon system, you actually miss the first anomaly. You've already lit your drives to skirt the edge of the system to the next transit point when you get around to checking the single inhabited world in this system, as you have once a month since you started your patrol pattern through this sector of space. It takes you a minute, but you realise that the world, Avalon, has almost no orbital debris, and you can see no sign of the crude, almost ramshackle orbital structures that its inhabitants have managed to construct. In fact, there's no sign of any activity in the local asteroid belt, either. The first time you saw it, it made you proud to see a world of humanity bootstrapping themselves up and establishing a presence of space again, but now... from the edge of the system, with light that is already a good 12 hours old by the time it reaches you, Avalon looks as dead as a tomb. You'd shiver, if you had skin and not deckplates.>Something is clearly wrong. You should make best time for the colony, to give whatever help you can.>Something is clearly wrong. You should head for the colony, but take your time, slow and quiet, just in case.>Something is clearly wrong. You should return to the Chapterhouse as soon as possible, to let the Grand Master know.>Whether something has happened or not, it's not your business. You should stick to your patrol route, and see what's happened the next time you come back into the system.
>Whether something has happened or not, it's not your business. You should stick to your patrol route, and see what's happened the next time you come back into the system.
>>1666350>slow and quite towards the world. Something is wrong
>>1666347>Something is clearly wrong. You should head for the colony, but take your time, slow and quiet, just in case.
>>1666350>>Something is clearly wrong. You should head for the colony, but take your time, slow and quiet, just in case.
>>1666350>Something is clearly wrong. You should head for the colony, but take your time, slow and quiet, just in case.It might not be in your orders, but one thing Grand Master Turtullian drilled into you time and time again was the core creed of the Order: Protect humans. If, somehow, some great disaster occurred since the last time you were here, you are duty-bound to respond.Ignoring the slightest flutter in your fusion core, you turn yourself towards Avalon, calculating a long, slow trek down the star's gravity well. Your Tokamak deposits a speck of antimatter into your rear reaction chamber, and you're kicked on a new course to carefully curve around Avalon's star to give you a nice long time to examine the colony from afar. As an afterthought with a self-chastisement, you turn your armour from its best reflection white to a dark, energy absorbing grey. Though black settings would make you almost impossible to detect, it would mean you'd slowly cook inside your own armour. It wouldn't affect you until you dived past the star, but there's nobody around to detect you anyway. It's not like the locals could detect a ship transiting into the system!The next day is spent examining Avalon. There's definitely a lack of activity in orbit; the last time you were here there were at least a dozen large stations, solar panels spread wide in kilometre-long sails to provide the energy to process ore coming in from the asteroid belt. Unfortunately, your passive visual sensors still don't have the clarity to pick anything up before you curve behind the sun.When you come out again and head more or less towards Avalon, however, you're greeted with a horrific sight: You weren't detecting the hundreds of orbital objects because they're now a cloud of debris in high orbit- even as you watch, specks of something or other fall and burn up in orbit.>Now something is definitely wrong. Continue on.>Something's happened to this planet, and it could be enemy action. Even if the Order can't render help, you must let them know immediately.
>>1666483Ping active sensors, Gather as much information as possible. If human recovery is feasible do so, if not report to the Order immediately.
>>1666483>>Now something is definitely wrong. Continue on.Need to find out what happened
>>1666483I'll back this >>1666490
>>1666483>>Now something is definitely wrong. Continue on.
>>1666483>Now something is definitely wrong. Continue on. Go active to try and gather more information.All the orbital industry, the promise of a human colony re-capturing the dream of spaceflight, reduced to little more than rubble. Despite the fact you're still several light-seconds distant, you decide to go active with your sensors. You want- no, you need to know what happened here.Although the frigate you currently inhabit doesn't have the ability to create a tachyon ping to scan the system in realtime, you certainly have an advanced series of sensors in the form of radar, lidar, and a whole host of others. With a thought, you activate the first pulse and wait impatiently for the results. They're not encouraging at first glance, but you sort through them far quicker than any human. As a result, you quickly realise something strange: there's not a single bit of debris bigger than half a kilometre, if that. It's as if somebody's gone through the orbital wreckage, purposely making sure there's no possibility of reusing anything.You're still puzzling over the debris when the next pulse comes back. Something just came round the curve of the planet. A bulbous, un-aerodynamic ovoid, and as you watch it seems to be... breaking up? No, the next pulse confirms that it's sending something down to the surface. That can't be good, and if it hasn't detected you yet from your active sensors, it will as soon as you light your drive enough to change course out of an orbital track.>This thing must have seen you, and it must have smashed everything in orbit. Set armour to best reflection and charge weapons.>This thing must have seen you, but nothing can see a Prowler frigate in full stealth. Go dark and attack from stealth.>There's a small possibility that something else is going on here. Try communicating.
>>1666532>This thing must have seen you, and it must have smashed everything in orbit. Set armour to best reflection and charge weapons.
>>1666532>This thing must have seen you, and it must have smashed everything in orbit. Set armour to best reflection and charge weapons.FOR OUR ADORABLE SQUISHY FRIENDS. PROTECT
>>1666532>>This thing must have seen you, and it must have smashed everything in orbit. Set armour to best reflection and charge weapons.
>>1666555Nice double trips anon.
>>1666532Fury boils through your conduits. How dare this- whatever this is... attack a human colony under your Order's- no, under your protection? Despite the fact it has double your mass, you know what you must do. From the dark grey of stealth, your armour becomes the gleaming paladin while as you adjust it to reflect all energy. If your opponent uses lasers like you, you should be able to take a few hits before your armour boils off.You do a quick inventory of your weapons: Your main weapon, of course, is your spinal laser. it doesn't pack a massive punch, but if you get a few seconds to do a spectroscopic scan, you should be able to adjust its frequency to the enemy armour's best absorption and do some damage. Apart from those, your only other offensive weapons are your broadside torpedo launchers, one for each side. However, you can fire those off-bore, and if you start jettisoning torpedoes now, you should be able to fire their engines together and hit him with half a dozen missiles, at least in the opening salvo. Apart from that, you have your defensive laser clusters, but you have no idea if the enemy uses torpedoes like you do.Now all you need to do is decide how to engage the enemy, and with what.>Turn and start decelerating to close into a zero velocity intercept to pound it into dust, eschewing a laser strike for torpedo salvos until you can close to turn again.>Fire everything! Slash and burn, do as much damage as possible. However, you'll have to burn hard afterwards to get back into orbit, and it will take at least an hour.
>>1666555Witnessed.Also, does anyone know how to use italics and things? I feel like I should know these, as a writer it pains me to be unable to emphasise things.
>>1666622>turn and start decleartion to close the distance
>>1666622>Turn and start decelerating to close into a zero velocity intercept to pound it into dust, eschewing a laser strike for torpedo salvos until you can close to turn again.
>>1666622>>Turn and start decelerating to close into a zero velocity intercept to pound it into dust, eschewing a laser strike for torpedo salvos until you can close to turn again.
>>1666678Curse go back to your quest you silly boy.
>>1666622>Decelerate and pound them into dust.You're getting to within a light-second now, and before you burn thrusters to flip end for end, you think you see the enemy reacting. It doesn't really matter, since no energy weapon in existence can do a thing when there's a full-burn antimatter flame in the way. As you decelerate hard enough to kill a human, your frame shuddering slightly under the force, your tubes start rolling out torpedoes. Heavier, if much slower, than the missiles carried by heavier Order ships, it's the weapon that you know will really gut the enemy with nuclear flame. Half an hour passes with you decelerating hard, and in the process you gather a dozen torpedoes. Any more and you won't have the flight telemetry to control them. As soon as you've slowed enough that you won't fly back out of orbit, you turn yourself again, pinging space to reacquire your target. Though the enemy has turned to face you with the point of its egg-shaped bulk, it's still sending... shuttles? Pods? to the planet below. You've gone from anger to a cold, focused fury. With a thought, your torpedoes leap out towards the enemy. The first torpedoes you jettisoned, now much closer to the enemy than you due to your deceleration, seem to catch it by surprise. To your surprise, however, blazing green bolts lance out from the enemy ship. The first two torpedoes get in, but only one manages to penetrate its hull. It detonates, sending a great gout of flame from the hole and the enemy ship itself tumbling for the moment before it steadies itself. Curiously, you can't see traces of thrusters at all. The second torpedo, when it detects a hit but no penetration, detonates anyway, scouring some of those strange point defenses with nuclear fury. That's the last bit of good luck you have, however. Ponderously, the enemy ship rotates on its axis, hiding the damaged side to present the rest of your torpedoes with green bolts. A couple of torpedoes manage to get proximity hits, but it still has enough point defenses to protect itself. Damn.>It must have taken quite a bit of damage from that torpedo, however it looks. Engage with your laser and as many torpedoes as you can manage.>Even if it's taken damage, the enemy looks to still be functional. Perhaps it would be better to leave and warn the Order before it can try engaging you with those curious weapons. You're not sure your armour will hold...
>>1666720>It must have taken quite a bit of damage from that torpedo, however it looks. Engage with your laser and as many torpedoes as you can manage.
>>1666720>It must have taken quite a bit of damage from that torpedo, however it looks. Engage with your laser and as many torpedoes as you can manage.WE WILL HOLD THE LINE!
>>1666720>Engage with your laser.Even if the enemy can intercept your torpedoes, there's simply no way it can stop light itself. Still firing pairs of torpedoes as soon as they load, you pick a spot on which is essentially centre mass for the enemy vessel and fire your laser. Nothing appears on your visual sensors, of course, but in orbit there's plenty of particles for the laser to hit, so even if you couldn't detect it from the slight thermal bloom, it lights up both for you and the enemy. You wait a moment, impatient to see the results of the strike, and are gratified to see a slight haze where the surface material of the enemy has boiled away. You get an excellent spectroscopic reading, and adjust your spinal laser's frequency to make sure it has the maximum absorption. Just as you're preparing to fire, however, a blazing green bolt of energy leaps from the enemy ship! It's not *quite* lightspeed, but it's pretty close. Even so, you have just enough time to fire your dorsal thrusters. The bolt scorches along the top of your hull, and despite your armour, it cuts a groove several centimetres thick from bow to stern.Well.That was unexpected. In response, you fire your laser again, and this time you have far better results. A deep trench is cut along the side of the enemy ship. The strange enemy weapon fires again, but this time you're ready, and it only takes off a couple metres of plating along your side. You're getting curiously high heat readings, but no time to read them. You've given far better than you've gotten so far, but now you're firmly in orbit of Avalon, and the enemy ship starts peppering you with those tiny bolts of energy it appears to use for point defence. They dig at your hull, marking it with tiny craters. In respond, however, you read out with your own PD laser clusters, also adjusted to best absorption, and start wiping the enemy point defences out. This has the unintended side effect of stopping the enemy vessel from intercepting your torpedoes. As you exchange another pair of blows, first one, then another torpedo penetrates the enemy's hull or scorches their hull clean. In short order, the enemy ship is breaking apart in nuclear fire. A relief, since a few more hits from that enemy weapon and you would have been the one to break apart. Robotic drones start to crawl across your hall, starting damage assessment and basic repairs. You've lost twelve percent of your laser clusters, but your spinal laser and torpedo launchers are fine.>Move overhead of where the enemy ship was launching and prepare for orbital bombardment.>Scorch the wreckage into dust, first, to make sure nothing remains. It may take a while, but you want to be sure.
>>1666818>scan the place it dropped stuff and prepare for orbital bombardment along with seeing if human life remains on the world.
>>1666818>>scan the place it dropped stuff and prepare for orbital bombardment along with seeing if human life remains on the world.
>>1666818>>Scorch the wreckage into dust, first, to make sure nothing remains. It may take a while, but you want to be sure.
>>1666818>Scan for humans, prepare for orbital bombardment.While your repair drones start doing what they can, in some places simply tearing out completely destroyed hull panels and replacing them with your small store of replacement ones, you use your thrusters to slide into a geosync orbit where the enemy vessel once was. Annoyingly, your passive visual sensors are the best for this kind of thing, and many of them were knocked out in the battle. You have enough to start getting a picture though, and what you see horrifies you. It appears that the enemy ship was launching its payload directly into the largest city on the planet. What look for all the galaxy like horse-sized, six-limbed black spiders have overrun the city, and even as you watch, they're eating the buildings too! You can't see any humans, and every city you find is the same. In several places, what you can only assume what were once cities or towns have been reduced to boiling masses of those things. Feeling sick, you fire several laser pulses on some of the largest concentrations of the spider-things while you scan every frequency for distress calls, beacons, anything- but Avalon is silent as a grave. With a heavy heart, you start to consider leaving as half a dozen transition pulses register on your scanners. Just over twelve hours ago, six more ships exactly like the one you just destroyed jumped into the system, and the light has only just reached you. Damn. You can try scanning for any survivors by dipping into the atmosphere, but doing so will may well allow those ships to catch up with you before you leave. Then again, it's highly unlikely that anybody's still alive down there, and the Order definitely needs to be warned. You know for a fact you're the only patrol out in this direction. If this enemy catches more human worlds by surprise...>Stay and search some more, even if it may mean the enemy fleet catch you briefly.>Break orbit and make for best time to the Chapterhouse. This information is too important to risk.
>>1666973>Stay and search some more, even if it may mean the enemy fleet catch you briefly.Witness are always a good thing to have.
>>1666973>Break orbit and make for best time to the Chapterhouse. This information is too important to risk.
I'll wait a bit longer then roll a tiebreaker. This is probably going to be the last post of the night!
Rolled 2 (1d2)>>1666973Should I stay or should I go?
>>1666973>Break orbit and make for best time to the Chapterhouse. This information is too important to risk.You check for any radio traffic or beacons one last time, but there's still nothing. With a mental shake of the head, you turn back to the feed of the incoming ships. Despite the fact they won't see your battle for another ten hours at least, as soon as they arrived in the system they lit off - well, they started accelerating, but you can't see any hit of a drive plume still - on a course towards the remains of Avalon. With a heavy heart, you turn your bow towards the star. A few moments later a speck of anti-hydrogen meets its more normal cousin, and you're heading out on a gravity assist manoeuvrer. You don't head directly back towards the Chapterhouse, but instead as far away from it as you can while not letting the enemy catch you. After a day of acceleration and watching the enemy ships like a hawk, despite their apparent dismissal of you, you make the heliopause and transit from normalspace as soon as possible. You've managed to repair some more of your armour, but you can only hope you don't meet any more of those ships.Okay, we'll be stopping here for tonight! This actually went way better than I thought it would, so thank you everyone who contributed. I'll be running again next weekend at a similar time, you can check my twitter for details:https://twitter.com/Pixel_AnonI hope you all have a good night.
>>1667141That was rather enjoyable. Hope to catch it next week