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Star Fleet Genesis - Prologue and Dark Rising

Prologue

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It has been one Earth month since the F Zero One Campaign ended in the destruction of the seemingly impregnable fortress of the Imperial Master. The F Zero One has not been heard of since its victory. The destruction of the fortress has created a power vacuum within the Thalian Zone. The surviving Alliance commanders gather their forces, biding their time, as the threat of civil war rumbles closer.

The crew of the X-Bomber have returned home to a devastated world. The Earth Defence Forces are crippled, with few pilots and craft remaining. The X-Bomber itself was badly damaged as a result of its encounters with the Imperial Alliance and is in its subterranean space dock on the Moon, undergoing repairs. The X-Bomber's crew have been extensively debriefed and are on leave at Moonbase following their year long ordeal.

With the Alliance threatening to tear its own throat out and the solar system barely able to defend itself, neither side is in a position to bring a definitive end to the conflict begun by the F Zero One Campaign. That may change sooner than either side could possibly predict. For the Imperial Master was not imprudent. He knew that the F Zero One had enough power to destroy his fortress. With that destruction, a continuous signal from the fortress to the Thalian Zone ended - triggering a beginning.

Dark Rising

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Near the outer limits of the Thalian Zone, the Imperial flagship K'Lar opens fire; on another Imperial battle cruiser, the K'Tharsis. On board the K'Lar, Captain Magellan grasps the guard rails of the command station as his fire is returned.

"Launch drone craft when ready - divert auxiliary power to primary weapons systems and lock on their engines. Bring us standard around to 045 mark 070, full quantum speed. Fire at will." Magellan watches the screens as his orders are carried out. The K'Tharsis is struck on her starboard wing and begins to flounder as the K'Lar's drone craft and fighters begin to strafe her with laser fire.

Suddenly all power is gone from the bridge. Screens fade to nothing. Cyborg eyes cast dull red glows as darkness replaces light. Magellan frowns. His symbiote calls out, "Engineer - report. Has our engine room taken damage?"

"Negative Captain. Power generation is optimal but an unknown system is drawing on all available power."

"What do you mean, unknown system?"

"Last readouts indicated power drain originated from deck thirteen, sector thirteen. I am not aware of any major systems in that area which might cause such a drain. Source of power drain is therefore unknown."

"Do we have communications?"

"Internal communications only. Craft remaining on board could be used to relay messages to fleet."

"Very well. Until this drain is stopped, we are at a tactical disadvantage. I will investigate personally. Order the fleet to provide us with cover and retreat at best possible speed until power is restored. Then re-engage."

"By your guidance."

Magellan noted the lack of 'divine' in the engineer's response as he descended to the lower command deck. Even the lowest ranks in the Alliance were beginning to reject their programming. He checked the condition of his sidearm as he proceeded to the source of the power drain. Deck thirteen was utterly devoid of power when he arrived, forcing him to view the world in shades of green as his symbiote amplified what little light was available. Just as he was adjusting, he was thrown against a bulkhead as the ship was rocked by what could only have been a laser torpedo impact.

Cursing, he regained his footing - and realised that the deck ended at sector twelve. Where there should have been corridor, there was a heavily reinforced access portal. Magellan thought he knew every inch of the K'Lar - he had clearly been mistaken. Suddenly the world flashed white and his symbiote shut down its visual feed as light returned to the corridor. Ahead of him, the portal was cycling open. He drew his sidearm and advanced towards it.

"Magellan to bridge - report."

"The K'Tharsis has broken through our defensive perimeter and is advancing on us. Power drain has ended and systems are returning to normal. Tactical systems will be fully operational in two minutes."

"When will the K'Tharsis be in weapons range?"

"One minute thirty seconds".

Magellan swore again. "Maximum power to engines. Evasive manoeuvres."

"NO."

Magellan span around to find a figure framed in the portal. "You dare contradict my order?"

"I do," the figure replied, stepping out of the portal, "for I am your superior."

On the bridge of the K'Tharsis, Commander Marlok stood with his left arm limp and useless below the elbow and carbon scoring on his cranial implants. Nevertheless, he smiled as his crippled vessel closed the gap on the K'Lar as it tried to get clear. He would have his glory, take command of the Alliance's forces and rule over the Thalian Zone.

A bridge drone spoke. "Commander, the target vessel is turning towards us."

Marlok was snapped away from his dreams of conquest. "What?! What are they..."

A holographic figure appeared in the air before him. Towering over him. No flesh was visible, but this was not some common drone. This was something else altogether. His symbiote responded by sheer reflex. "Im... Imperial Master? But... we thought..."

"Silence Commander Marlok. I am aware of what you and others like you believed. Your misguided attempts to wrest control of the Empire merely demonstrate your short sightedness. Even now you are blind to the truth. The Imperial Master's body was destroyed, but his essence, his power, lives on, confined by the accursed F Zero One. I was to be the Master's Heir, the receptacle for his power when combined with that of the F Zero One. That power is now beyond my own reach - but I will serve the Master and stand in his place until his rebirth can be achieved."

Marlok attempted to process this information - and rejected it. "You are nothing but a holographic mockery of the Imperial Master, a ploy by Magellan to delay his imminent destruction! You dare lay claim to the Imperial Throne? I will destroy ---". Marlok's humanoid eye opened wide in surprise for a moment before rolling back in its socket as he crashed to the floor, his implants terminated with a thought from the Imperial Heir.

On the bridge of the K'Lar, Magellan watched his adversary fall and felt no remorse. He had barely avoided the same fate moments earlier when he had fired upon the Imperial Heir. When the bolt of energy was simply absorbed by the Heir he quickly acceded to his command, and the Heir's termination of Marlok put his heritage and right to command beyond doubt.

The Heir remained impassive. "Have my chamber below transferred to the K'Tharsis when repairs to that vessel are complete. I must travel to S'Kirina at the very heart of the Zone in order for the Imperial Master to be reborn and I will require sustenance during the journey."

"Sustenance, Lord?"

The Heir turned to look at him. "As I told Marlok, I was to be the vessel of the Imperial Master's power. Without access to his power I am not at my full strength. When the Master's fortress was destroyed the process leading to my activation was triggered - a failsafe mechanism. The energy taken from the K'Lar completed my awakening. I cannot fulfil my original role of containing the Master's powers now that I have been activated by the K'Lar's energies alone. I function now only to bring about his rebirth, and without his power to drive me I must draw upon other sources. Nevertheless, I retain certain aspects of his abilities - as Commander Marlok discovered to his cost. I trust that no further displays of my power will be necessary."

"I pray forgiveness for my earlier reaction to your appearance, my Lord. I had no knowledge of your presence aboard the K'Lar and so believed you to be an intruder to be dealt with accordingly. I would urge you to stay aboard the K'Lar - it will provide you with better protection than the K'Tharsis."

"Commander Magellan, had I disapproved of your reaction to me I would not be speaking with you now. Once the K'Lar is repaired and rearmed with a full fleet it will be leaving the Thalian Zone for Earth's solar system. The mission requires the particular talents of this vessel. We must reach our targets as rapidly as possible which requires that I leave for S'Kirina on the K'Tharsis while you head for Earth. Have your communications officer broadcast the events of the last hour to all Imperial forces in the Zone. I do not anticipate further difficulties with discipline. I will give you more detailed orders prior to my departure."

"By your divine guidance."

Last updated 14 December 2013

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