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Star Fleet Genesis - Dark Gathering and Chill Out

Dark Gathering

The K'Tharsis dropped to quantum speed as it neared S'Kirina. The Heir had felt the planet long before the Captain announced their entry into orbit. The Gelma had not always been a technologically advanced species. Before they spread their influence to the galaxy their might had been concentrated here - and that might had come from a mystical understanding of the universe. Although long deserted, S'Kirina harboured immense energies - energies which the Heir could sense even before entering orbit.

As he disengaged from his chamber in the heart of the K'Tharsis, the Heir ordered the Captain to break orbit and make planetfall. As the K'Tharsis plunged into the grey atmosphere of the planet the Heir moved through the ship, drones scattering from his path. Finally he stood at the lip of the primary launch bay, watching the horizon rise to meet the ship as it fell nearer to the barren and scarred landscape.

The Heir concentrated, reaching out with his senses, searching... There. It called to him like a beacon. The K'Tharsis altered its course at his command, lowering itself still further into the atmosphere and slowing to a mere fraction of quantum speed. Closer now. Close enough. The K'Tharsis hovered briefly before its engines died as it settled into the surface crust of S'Kirina. Watery sunlight filtered through the clouds of dust raised by its landing.

Directly ahead lay a tumble of broken masonry. A few pillars still half-stood, retaining a semblance of former glory. The Heir cared little for the appearance of the temple. His heightened perceptions told him that this was a place of convergence, where all the quiescent power of the planet could be harnessed to serve his goal. No easy task, to be sure, but he was driven to make the attempt. He gave his final orders to the captain of the K'Tharsis.

As he stepped forward onto the surface, the Heir could feel its energies course through him. This was but a fraction of the energy he would have had access to had the Master merged with the F Zero One. Still, it would free him from the need to draw on technological power. Behind him the K'Tharsis rose once more, came about and gained altitude as he approached the ruins. With every step he became more attuned to the planet and its energies.

Casting debris aside with flicks of his wrists he reached his goal. The throne was aged, cracked. Here the first Imperial Master had been created so long ago. Now he too must draw on the mystical energies of the ancients to reach his Master, to free him from the astral prison imposed on his spirit by the F Zero One. The Heir lowered himself to the throne and became as motionless as the landscape around him. Only the growing glow of his eyes set him apart from the rest of the ruins as he began to build his energies for the rescue of his Master.

Chill Out

The three Dai-X fighters were back on patrol in the inner solar system. The pilots of the accompanying fighter squadrons had all been in combat with the Alliance and Shiro, Hercules and Lee had chosen them for precisely that reason. Lee had plotted a patrol route which brought all three wings within range of Halley's Comet at a specific time. Star Fleet Command remained in the dark as to the pilots' intentions.

Shiro noted the time and open a tight beam communications channel to the ships in his wing. "This is Lieutenant Hagen. All of you have had contact with the enemy, and you know what they're capable of. Myself and Lieutenants Hercules and Lee have reason to believe that the enemy's command and control ship is hiddent within a cometary body which has the outward appearance of Halley's Comet, but which is well off its known trajectory. At this moment we are in a position to combine forces with the wings led by the other Lieutenants to mount an assult on this body. We do so without direct authorisation from Star Fleet Command as we believed notifying our superiors would have forewarned the enemy. I therefore request volunteers to form on my wing to carry out this assault."

Shiro closed the channel and broke left to alter course for the comet. Moments later every ship in his wing was following his lead. He hoped that Hercules and Lee had received the same support as he brought BrainCom's engines to maximum, brought his weapons on line and accelerated towards the target. He hoped that they were doing the right thing in acting without orders, but dismissed the doubt. He knew the Alliance. There could be no good reason for the comet to be where it was.

The three wings reached their rendez-vous point without incident. Shiro's scanner told him that they had the maximum number of ships at their disposal. Shiro opened the secure channel again.

"My gratitude for your faith in us. Long range scans have proved inconclusive, so we intend to make close quarter scans of the comet to assess its potential threat, if any. If we cannot penetrate to the core, each wing will then be free to open fire on the comet in order to remove the surface layers to allow a core scan. Tactical instructions are being transmitted now. A word of warning - don't get in the way of that thing's tail. The particles are small, but their velocity is significant. Good luck."

The three wings adopted a chevron formation and closed on their final target. The Dai-X fighters used their superior scanners to probe the target well beyond visual range, but again failed to detect any anomalous readings. With the fighter squadrons hanging back, the three Dai-X fighters moved in and overflew the comet within a few hundred kilometres. It was an impressive sight, the solar wind generating a great tail of evaporating particles. There was nothing to suggest that the comet wasn't precisely what it appeared to be, either visually or on the scanners.

With all non combative options exhausted, the bombardment began. The squadrons assumed station holding positions relative to the comet and opened fire from three sides. Although the ice refracted some degree of their firepower away, the comet's tail grew as more material was melted and blasted away. The wings shifted their positions, pounding new areas. The mass of the great body gradually reduced.

Lee was monitoring the results of his scanner's probes carefully. As the fire continued round him he suddenly found he had a reading from the centre of the comet. His blood ran cold as the readouts resolved themselves. He stabbed his communication channels open. "All ships code omega, I say again code omega! BREAK OFF!" he called as LegTrax executed a back flip and accelerated away from the comet at maximum burn.

Code omega was an absolute command - no-one in the fleet questioned Lee's order and everyone followed it. The fighters span around to point their engines at the comet and diverted full power to propulsion. BrainCom and MainBody copied LegTrax's manoeuvre, aiming to put the maximum possible distance between themselves and the comet in the minimum possible time. Unfortunately they didn't have even that much time.

The interior of the comet glowed white momentarily before the blast ripped what was left of it apart from the inside out. The standard fighters, lacking the Dai-X ships' speed, took the brunt of the detonation. Chunks and javelins of ice rocketed outwards, smashing into the engines of some of the fighters, destroying them outright or crippling them. Those lucky enough to avoid the cometary fragments were bathed in intense radiation that caused all their primary systems to short out. Of the thirty fighters in the three wings, only six survived without damage.

Although better armoured and faster, the Dai-X fighters had not escaped without damage themselves. As the lieutenants tried to assess the situation they realised that between impact and radiation damage their ability to Dai-X Junction had been compromised. As Lee's sensors came back on-line, he monitored the progress of the shockwave from the matter/antimatter explosion. Suddenly, unexpectedly, something blocked it.

"Guys. There's something out there. The radiation wavefront hit something."

Shiro responded. "Lee, that's impossible. There are no other ships in the area. Your sensors must be malfunctioning. We need to focus on search and rescue..."

Hercules interrupted. "Shiro - my sensors read the same as Lee's; and I've got a bad feeling about this. Why go to the trouble of luring us out here, booby trapping that comet, if..." He was cut off as his scanner chimed urgently. "What the...?!"

All three pilots oriented their ships towards the source of the new signal. Ahead of them in space, the starfield was distorting, mirage-like. The stars moved with a life all their own. Then reality asserted itself and the Imperial flagship K'Lar lay in front of them, approaching at full quantum speed. Closing for the kill.

Hercules roared. "There's your command and control vessel! We've walked right into the middle of an Alliance ambush!"

The Dai-X fighters scattered as the K'Lar plunged towards the crippled remains of their fighter wings. The handful of active fighters tried to mount a defence of their comrades but their weapons fire could do nothing against the K'Lar's hull and its point defence weaponry obliterated them with ease. The three lieutenants watched with mounting despair as the K'Lar annihilated the last of their support wing and began to bring herself about to face them once again.

Shiro knew they were outmatched. "Scatter! We're no match for it if we can't Junction!"

Even Hercules realised that resistance was impossible. The three fighters broke off in three separate directions, making it impossible for the K'Lar to follow them all. Or so they hoped. Three torpedoes blasted out of the K'Lar's launch bay, each one locked onto a different Dai-X fighter. Then the K'Lar engaged its mask once more and became one with the starfield.

The fighters instituted evasive manoeuvres as each torpedo homed in on them. Had they been fully functional, the Dai-X fighters might have stayed ahead of them. As it was, none of the battered fighters were hit directly - but the torpedoes had been programmed to detonate on proximity, not impact. BrainCom, being the smallest of the fighters, took the worst hit and Shiro worked quickly to seal a hull breach. Lee was unharmed, but the same could not be said of LegTrax. MainBody and BrainCom limped to LegTrax's position and grappled on to tow her back to Moon Base.

Their unauthorised mission had ended in utter disaster. Thirty EDF fighters and their pilots were dead. The Dai-X fighters were crippled, unable to junction. The single positive aspect of the mission, if it could be called positive, was the identification of the command and control vessel. A vessel capable of utterly masking its presence from EDF sensors, with enough firepower to destroy the solar system. The pilots did not speak as they drifted home.

Last updated 14 December 2013

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