Legion Eternal, Eternally Victorious.
The Varangian had been awaiting pirates and other scum for quite some time but it had no luck. Viktor was looking for a simple fight, something to break in the fresh faces rather than going straight to lairs of the foe hidden in deep space and the likes. So they went about their lives in preparation for this. After the scene in the command deck and Viktor’s talk with the young psychic he sent her to go eat something and with nothing better to do she went in to
A soldier sat beside Alyx, finishing the remains of what was clearly once an impressive sandwich before wiping his hands on his pants and extending one to her. "Its a big crew, no reason for anyone to be alone. My name's Danylo, Danylo Vilkul. But you can call me Danylko, Danik, Danko, Danya, Dan, Danny, Danyl, whatever. Biomedical Engineer." he said the words in her native Portunol variant, a smile across his lips.
Alyx turned to face him, raising an eyebrow and giving an insincere, almost vicious return of the smile. "You know it's been about a month and this noosphere thing is hard to get used to. But I see it's merit. For one it's telling me you really like the darker immigrant girls so you can fuck off with the patronizing, you're not getting some from me. You can call me not interested, that bitch, rejection, and some other sassy bullshit I can’t be bothered to think of right now." the reply was in Councillary Pidgin, a rebuffing of the soldier's ice breaking attempt. She had to admit, the language modules within Neohumans was very handy. Back in Uracao she had spent a year trying to learn English, with failure until those nice armed men spreading revolution came along to help her; even then, she could barely form a sentence. Now? She could speak the Fenno-Slavic hybrid language most Confederates spoke.
Danylo chuckled, scratching the bridge of his nose. "That's pretty good! But the noosphere wouldn't tell you that, that there is your psychic input module at work. The noosphere wouldn't give something so personal, you got that information because you were looking for something spiteful to use against me. If you probed a little deeper you would see I've already got a girl back home. Come on, I'm just trying to be nice, at the very least you can pretend to appreciate it."
The psychic rubbed her forehead wearily, eventually shrugging. "What would be the point, with the noosphere you'd still be able to tell I don't like your ugly mug." They shared a brief chuckle.
"Come you got to eat. I'll show you what's good rather than what the Overseers say is good." In truth all the showing was done with Danylo telling her how to better use the noosphere and have her part of it interact with the ship's systems. He did lead her to a table with other recruits though, to which a drone swarm brought ordered meals. She was introduced to several other Reislaufers and very slowly something akin to belonging was found, even if for now only two men offered it properly not to speak of the fact she couldn’t show it lest she be taken for a person of mercurial demeanour. Viktor - the first of the two - walked by, and nodded to the woman. Alyx felt she could finally return a smile.
The Captain walked to the centre of the dining hall, before the floor beneath him pushed upwards to put him in the view of everyone. "Attention, attention please. I know I could have done this over the announcer but this is only my third Captaincy, and yet already I have fresh faces to be acquainted with and so I came here myself. I hope dining together will allow the recruits to become acquainted with the veterans, and vice versa. For experience to rub off, I after this invite you all to the gymnasium for a more practical training session, compared to what you what have received back in Sol. Thank you!" and with that, he was gone.
Alyx frowned slightly, the glow from her eyes shifting downwards. The change in attitude did not go unnoticed in the noosphere. “What’s wrong?” Danylo asked.
“Well, there’s no lies in the CCN, right?”
“Yes. None at all with the Noosphere and all. No crime either.”
“Well then, it’s these… premonitions I get. Something bad’s going to happen from this.”
“Why don’t you tell the Captain then?”
“That’s not how it works, it’ll happen anyway. If I tell them of this then me telling them will be part of why it happened.”
“You’re not in the frontier now, Alyx. It’s far different, we can learn from this.”
“Maybe. Not now though.”
“If you say so — let’s go then.”
It felt… strange. Alyx had only known these people for less than an hour but already familiarity and bond with them was felt. Some of them she hadn't even asked or heard their names, nor did she use her powers to discover them but already she knew them. Without having grown up with the noosphere, its benefits were almost frightening to a person. Siarhey, Ljudmila, Ivan, Karl, Sauli, Nastja, Kuno, Bolko, Lazar, Aimo, all the people on either side were as one with her and - even when doing so from behind - the moment she looked at them they turned to smile brightly. It was as though you had intimacy with somebody before you even spoke to them, as though their worries were yours before you even saw them.
They entered the gymnasium, and it was… well, Alyx had never been to a gym in her life but she still knew this one wasn't right. Men were lifting anything at hand be it a suit of power armour for each bicep to an artillery emplacement with their legs. Most had devices pumping something into their musculature, which after aid from the noosphere she found out was a solution of nanomachines and chemicals to help one tone their muscles. Whenever Neohumans came upon a species physically stronger than them they often felt this very hard in battle, but only for the first time. After that battle regardless of if it was won or lost they would assimilate the genes of that species, and promptly correct that issue on the biological level, and then soldiers would increase their regimens to correct the issue on the level of training. This constant, forced evolution was certainly part of the reason the CCN had such a fierce reputation; any time they failed or made a mistake they would look deep into it, learn from it, and change their very anatomy to adjust to it. The same trick never works twice on them. All this information coursed through the psychic's head, and she wasn't sure if she knew it before or only know had it pushed into her head. She knew it was true but was it her own thought? It didn’t matter, what mattered was that this hypothetically meant she in her body now carried strength akin to that which the Captain had used against her. Experimentally, she with one hand picked up a two handed chain axe that would have been larger than her before she was augmented.
Powerful. In that moment she felt powerful and for the first time in a long time, in control. Giggling like a child with a new toy she balanced the weapon on her palm, and then on a single finger. She hasn't even used her powers yet and already such a feat was as simple as one plus one arithmetic. “You like it?” said a voice from behind her, which without turning the psychic knew was Viktor’s. “This change, I mean.” he elaborated, pointing to the new musculature Alyx had.
“It’s… it’s one for the better.”
“That’s a yes?”
“It’s not a no.”
Viktor gave the psychic a pat on the shoulder before moving forwards himself, again finding a small pedestal to stand on to address the many hundreds of now assembled Neohumans. The thought that Alyx knew each of them struck again, only harder given the new scale.
“Thank you all for coming. You are for the most part new soldiers, and welcome additions to this vessel. But none of you have real experience, you all have perhaps centuries of combat simulations performed and will out class almost all of the scum this star cluster will throw against our holy cause. So, you will be assigned at random partners to fight, many of whom will be veterans of many conflicts. You will almost undoubtedly lose against them, but worry not for this is how you learn. Perhaps a small caveat, but there shall be no use of your specialized cybernetics, combat or otherwise. Built in sonic emanators, arm grinders, or other powers,” Viktor paused, looking at Alyx momentarily. “Shall not be allowed. Your arms and legs - the most valuable tools given to us by nature - shall be your weapons for today. Good luck!”
As if by a force above, Alyx felt compelled to move to face a rather large fellow, and moments later they were closed off by an energy field from their surroundings. They saw nothing, only each other. The energy field flashed red, signalling the two they were two begin their combat. The person before Alyx was intimidating to say the least being about three hundred centimetres in height — while he had no discernible augments he was almost grotesquely muscular with biceps that looked like they’d beat power armour and many gorilloid simmies in contests of strength. She tried to conjure up some psychic strength, but the energy shield flashed red which upon seeing the counterpart grinned evilly. “Doesn’t work here.” he said, cracking his knuckles.
Alyx frowned, but then smiled. “Sorry, I’m new!” With a running start she gave the man a hearty punch to the throat followed by one to the stomach making him keel over slightly. Though it was a good first strike, she made the mistake of letting the man recover and from there it all went wrong. He swung a leg in a roundhouse kick which the psychic responded to with a duck as anticipated. The fellow dropped the airborne leg before diving on the girl, his weight in conjunction with the bear hug he put on her the fight was effectively over. The energy shield flashed red again and the Reislaufer let Alyx go, brushing himself off. “Not bad for a rookie.” the soldier said, no irony visible or audible in his words.
The energy shield flashed once more, signalling a second round. Taking a stance Alyx decided this time to let her opponent take the initiative. He realized this, and with a nod slowly walked forwards. He lashed out with a fist which she first tried to punch aside, and failing that then grab it, but it had such great force behind it there was no use to all of it. He grabbed her by the ankle, and then like a toy swung Alyx around to first strike one wall with, then another, then one side of the ground, then another. The energy shield flashed red once more, before dropping. Two consecutive fights won was the condition for victory and the Reislaufer had satisfied it. He helped the psychic up, patting her on the shoulder. “Don’t worry too much, there’s not many that can take me even from the veterans. With that he went off to find another fight, whereas Alyx stood looking on through other energy shields to view a few fights. They were brutal, attacks thrown that would leave most people of Eden as nothing more than wet red smears. She knew that she would most certainly not have survived what she just experienced before her processing. A symbol flashed in her vision, which directed her to a new micro arena.
Face to face with Danylo, she was not amused. “Well look at that!” he remarked, spreading his arms wide. The psychic noticed that the man had dried blood crusted around his neck and torso, from the way it was spread it was obviously his.
“No luck?” Alyx queried.
“Not much, no.” he replied.
Again an energy shield formed, and flashed red. Neither party wasted any time rushing at the other. Danylo launched a fist towards the psychic’s stomach with lightning speed, but she was pleasantly surprised to find that it didn’t hurt much nor cause her to be winded thanks to some sort of implants she had working as natural, sub-dermal armour. At the same time this was lost initiative for the fellow and though he reacted quickly to his attack’s failure it wasn’t enough. He raised his other arms to protect his head but it wasn’t enough to save him from Alyx’s kneeing him to the head, and following the attack with a kick to the chest now that he was off-balance. Her opponent was falling, and before he hit the ground she slid under the place he was to be to get him in a lock. The fight was over and the energy shield flashed red. Both Reislaufers parted and went to their respective sides of the micro arena, the friendship they were starting right now invisible as both saw red, the same colour of the energy shield’s flash.
Alyx ran forward, drawing a fist back as if to throw a punch when in reality the arm would be used to strike Danylo with her elbow. He ignored that in entirety, and as Alyx got close he drew his head back before striking Alyx’s brow with it. She stumbled and he repeated the action, and then struck her in the chest with his shoulder. She fell and with a run Danylo jumped, stomping on her head with both feet. Flesh tore off her face but - just in case - the man planted a foot on her throat to secure his victory.
Again they parted, and a third round began. Again both ran at each other, Danyl attempting to kick his foe’s legs out from under her. She jumped over the leg and whilst airborne kicked him in the head. He fell, and as Alyx was about to mirror the jumping stomp her performed he rolled to the side. The woman expected the grab for her legs, however, and hopped back allowing Danylo a recovery. This time Danyl seized the initiative running at Alyx while drawing back a hand and raising a shoulder as though mirroring the feinted punch into an elbow strike she had earlier tried on him. But he instead threw the fist into the psychic’s nose while reaching with the other hand to grab a leg in hopes of picking his foe up and throwing her. She kicked one of Danylo’s shins though, making enough space to avoid such a fate. But he pressed the attack by grabbing her throat, punching a shoulder and then letting it go leaving Alyx off balance. With her augments the state of affairs would last only a millisecond, but that was all that was needed. With both hands he pushed her, and aided her fall by dropping sideways on her. A bit of leg work, and Danyl had won his second consecutive fight.
Grudgingly Alyx took the offered hand of help and they exited the micro arena, the psychic clearly not happy. “It’s just your first fights, don’t worry. You will improve and in perhaps a year’s time you’ll be giving as much as you’re getting.” This came from Viktor who managed to come from behind quite quietly, hands clasped behind his back. Alyx waved a hand dismissively at him, shaking her head. “You can fuck right off. You know, isn’t the whole point of this Neohumanity thing that we get all these fancy toys in our body? All this punching and kicking is stupid, you want to prepare us for fighting out there? Let us use what we have.”
Viktor looked at her unamused for a moment, before motioning to a Reislaufer. “Oh Italmas, would you be so kind as to come here?”
The soldier obeyed, to which Viktor nodded gratefully. He exchanged a momentary exchange through the noosphere with the fellow and again they shared a nod. The Reislaufers hands split up into mechanical tentacles that shot out in a flash and from his nails extended blades just short of Alyx’s throat, eyes, and ribs.
“That’s fine. Set it up.” She stepped into a micro arena, giving the sweetest smile she could to the tentacle man. He shrugged and went into it before Viktor or anyone else could say something to object. Alyx closed her eyes, inhaling as she waited to see the flash of red through closed visors. It came, and she opened her eyes to see the tentacles before her again. But this time they weren’t restrained by the man, rather by the psychic’s mind. Then, frozen motionless he was thrown about before being dropped on the ground. He recovered, and then the second round began. This time the man didn’t show any restraint, clearing his mind and stepping out of his previous position in an effort to avoid concentration of psychic power. He lashed out his tendrils far faster. Alyx extended an arm, and let the blades puncture it. Then she let a strong current run through them, and then gripped them with power granted by her mind. With that done, she forced some tentacles from his other arm back at him. Slowly they flew back towards him, before wrapping around him and slowly squeezing. Flesh tore, circuits were busted, and the energy field dropped. “Enough!” Viktor cried, sending Danylo to aid the injured man.
“That doesn’t mean anything. You beat him, but I beat you and I’ll beat you again.”
“Oh I’m sure dearest Captain. But we can put that to the test; teach this upstart rookie a lesson!”
Viktor groaned. With Alyx had matured somewhat since their last fight, and she had a great new assortment of cybernetics and genetic modifications. He didn’t actually know if he could do it again. He stepped into the micro arena, and Alyx saluted the Captain. “Best of luck!” she said, before flicking her fingers. Viktor was launched airborne and struck the energy shield with his back. Though he didn’t expect this, he was Captain for a reason. He bounced off of it and used this to close much distance with Alyx, slamming his fist down on her head. Sprawled on the floor, Alyx then hovered, dodging another fist from the Captain before turning him upside down. With the man on the ground, Alyx dropped and got him into a hold. The energy shield flashed red, and smugly it was the turn of Alyx to help somebody up. “Point made?”
“Yeah you beat me. But the point stands. Anything could happen and you should be ready for it. There’s a reason that after centuries of testing this is a format we use, your fights with your cybernetics and little power are to be done later.”
“Why? I can beat anyone here.”
With a sense of drama, the Sergeant cracked his knuckles very, very loudly. “Wrong.” he hopped into one of the micro arenas, and with a jerk of his head motioned for the psychic to get in.
Alyx hesitated for a moment, but she couldn’t back off now. Viktor didn’t want the Sergeant to cause her severe damage, but at the same time she needed a lesson taught and thus didn’t intervene.
The Sergeant bowed, and the energy shield flashed red signalling the start of the fight. Alyx wasted no time, throwing lightning at Oleksandr from either hand. He stood still for a long time, almost a whole minute while undergoing this frying. His skin boiled away exposing raw muscle and bone all over him, and finally at such a state he took a step forward, then another and yet another. The psychic increased the flow of the lightning which momentarily gave the Sergeant pause, but then it seemed only to invigorate him as he increased the speed he walked towards her. As they were almost face to face Alyx screamed, lightning now also coming from her head but it was no use. With a fist thrown at her face the Sergeant got her to spin before hitting the ground. Then he grabbed both ankles and much like a person throws a blanket across a bed he tugged both legs into the air before swiftly bringing them down with the consequent slamming of the girl to the ground that one expects. The energy shield went down. “You won, Sergeant. Well done, I think you two are just about done for today.” Viktor said, looking at Alyx who was clearly hurt physically as well as very angry, storming off with a few Reislaufers following her sensing the uneasiness.
“That’s right. Little fancy finger sparkles won’t end me, nothing will!”
“I’m sure, Sergeant.”
Detecting the sarcasm in Viktor’s voice, Kjaro turned to the Captain. “What was that boy?”
“I’m detecting a hint of disbelief in your voice there!”
“Well, you’d be detecting right then. But we don’t have time for that, bugger off.”
“No, get in here.”
Viktor raised an eyebrow, but then shrugged. If the Sergeant wanted to fight with his nose being the main constituent of a nearby puddle, that was on him. They faced each other, and after exchanging a salute the energy field went up. Viktor more or less knew what the Sergeant would do. He only slightly changed his stance in preparation for what followed: the Sergeant aimed a single and extremely heavy punch at the height of Viktor’s neck, expecting him to try and duck to avoid it. Instead he lowered his head to protect it with his neck, and while his jaw in its entirety flew off many metres away Viktor now had the initiative by far. He brought his head downwards to sink his exposed upper jaw into the meat of the Sergeant, whilst punching into his armpit with one arm and catching the hand that came to block with the other. But The Butcher wouldn’t go down so easily oh no. Anyone else would have lost balance and fallen, but by unrivalled footwork Kjaro stayed upright and took the hits. He roared powerfully, Viktor’s ears bleeding and blood vessels in his head popping as a result. Superheating his nails Viktor reached into the throat of Kjaro, tearing his cheeks open to fry his vocal chords and audible equipment to prevent the hellish scream. He succeeded, but it was no call for celebration for the Sergeant bit his arm clean off. It hurt, oh God it hurt but it didn’t matter. The Neohuman pain threshhold was absurdly high and - having learned the trick from the Sergeant back on Uracao - he used the stump of his arm as a spike on which he impaled the Sergeant whilst beating him on the head with his free hand. After four punches to the skull Viktor spun, dislodging the Sergeant from his damaged limb and sending him airborne to smash against the energy shield. The Captain ran over and made sure not to let Oleksandr recover; he stepped on either elbow and then pulled either hand upwards with a painful crack to disable Kjaro’s arms. The energy shield parted, Viktor having secured victory. He was missing a good chunk of an arm, but he still won. Looking at the assembled recruits, Viktor tried to speak normally having forgotten he was missing his jaw and thus only unintelligible nonsense coming out. Activating his voice synthesizer, he began anew. “I think we’re done here.” he said, before heading off to the medical bay.
Missing parts and limbs were replaced, while the rest was left to natural regeneration, Kjaro's lost flesh and muscle entirely returning to him in a mere five hours. Viktor had his lost bits replaced with frozen ones and all was as before. All in all, he deemed the day as a success. He managed to teach a lesson to his two most rowdy crew members and the rookies got some fights in. They were now more prepared for whatever they might face in the frontier of Eden and that made Viktor feel satisfied as a Captain. He had a duty to the men he oversaw, and this was a part of that job well done.
Not very much happened in the following interim, for there wasn’t in fact much time. Perhaps this was the true meaning of Alyx’s premonition, for not too long after the training there was something caught on the scanners. Faint, but very certainly present. It was a vessel, a large, in fact a colossal transport vessel of some sort that The Varangian instantly started to approach quietly for further analysis. Transport vessels of an actual commercial nature did not go so far from planets. Though they might deny it, whoever was there was most certainly going to be some sort of ne’erdowell. A smuggler of drugs, people, and other things illicit it seemed for pirates rarely found the need to go in transport vessels. Unless of course, they were hiding really big cannons. The command bridge became instantly afloat with activity for a course of action had to be decided soon.
Viktor checked the ship for identifiers, and was surprised (though somewhat pleased) as he found a record of the vessel. It belonged to an Ulex known as Drella the Swift which - upon downloading and decompressing appropriate records - turned out to be somewhat of a larger name on the stage of Eden. He was rumoured to have been a trafficker of living things, and although all nations looked into his affairs it seemed nobody could actually press any solid evidence against him to lay charges. Lawyers, formalities and a load of money in general prevented any ultimate investigation in what internationally was only considered rumour.
Viktor stopped to think, the processors inside of him as well as his gargantuan gene-augmented brain working overclocked to decide what to do.
“Let’s see if these rumours are truth or conjecture.” he said after some time, looking at his crew. “We’ll fire at the vessel first disabling its communications from our position of surprise, then using our momentum we’ll attack their armaments, scanners, and movement capabilities in equal proportion. Once their vessel is sufficiently disabled we will close the distance in entirety and board them, exterminate all undesirables. Understood?” he looked about, and once he had concurrence he continued.
“Get us closer.” came the order, relayed to the navigator in the depths of the ship. They moved in a straight line, aiming to cut off the transport from the site they assumed it planned to turn towards the system proper. A few hours of silent movement passed, before a notification came from the navigator that they were at the detection threshold and they now had to engage the foe. The Varangian was a large sphere pattern vessel, and it was somewhat uniquely armed entirely with laser arrays. This slightly hindered it’s capabilities of general orbital bombardment but it made it a vessel with nigh unparalleled capability of duelling other ships, and it destroyed planetside or orbital defences with ease. A ship hit by a spinning barrage bearing lightning strike from the Varangian would be easy prey. The sphere slowly began to revolve in preparation for its firing, and once sufficient spin was gained it did precisely that. In near instant succession blast from laser arrays were let off at the communication section of the transport vessel, except they didn’t hit. In fact, they didn’t even hit shielding. It was apparently being screened by a stealthed escort, the debris of which now littered space. Viktor cursed, knowing that this meant several things. For one, there were most likely several other stealthed escorts for one would rarely just get one for such a thing and a real fight was coming forth. At the same time, it also meant that the transport identified as The Kryd would not have damaged communication arrays preventing it from sending out a plea for help, sending out a message it was attacked by a CCN sphere unprovoked. To say the least, Viktor had fucked up.
At the same time though, he was a Captain, and it was his duty to be able to salvage such horrible situations. “Yesaul, how far are the nearest system monitors?”
“Hours away.” the man replied.
“Good. Have the empaths start making up excuses say… say that the destroyed stealth screen fired first. Put the onus on them, have them explaining why the fuck they had stealthed escorts. I’d love to see them try prove their stealth ship didn’t take the first shot here.”
“Very well Sir.” the Yesaul said.
“Right then. Minimum spin, awaken the ship. Activate shields and scanner arrays, deactivate comms, we don’t need them anyway. Prepare all arms facing the cargo carrier for a volley, keep all others charging but in reserve until we know where the escorts are.”
“Right. Target priority?”
“The first volley doesn’t matter, just smash the shields and get in general hull integrity damage. After that focus all fire on the engines.”
The words were said verbally, even though there was no need with the instant thought-relay communication the Neohumans had available. Indeed the spoken conversation went by in a mere few seconds, but it was said nevertheless for the purpose of morale.
“Contact!” the Yesaul cried after some minutes.
“Four escorts on the right above us. They’re carriers it looks like, they’re sending out sorties now.”
Victor drummed his fingers. “The hangars of their flyers, they’re below them, yes? Sending them downwards to us?”
“Then fire right at them. Regardless of if they’re closed fire at the hangars. We won’t destroy the carriers themselves in time and our laser array isn’t optimized to destroy the flyers themselves. Just don’t let them refuel and rearm, that’s all we need. Let them suffocate in a day when they’re out of oxygen, focus everything other than the batteries you can’t aim on the hangars to the transport vessel.”
“Very well then. Oh, it’s firing, sir.”
“Rail weapons, sir. Very high power. It’s clearly timed, they waited for the carrier sortie to be in progress so their sublights hit once our shield is damaged. “
Again Viktor drummed his fingers. “We know the firing line, trajectory, timing, yes?”
“...yes?” the Yesaul replied.
“Good, good. To what degree of accuracy?”
“We know the arcs to far less than a degree in error and we know the impact site to within about a metre of error, although given the unknown size of the projectile we don’t know if this will really matter by itself, and the time of firing and impact both to a few seconds.”
“Plot the predicted lines and rotate us with the fresh laser arrays facing the transport. We’re going to intercept the sublights; melt them while they still haven’t hit us. They’re not torpedoes but we’ll get them anyway. We can’t stop, we have to keep going.”
The Yesaul was momentarily taken aback, but he saluted and performed the orders.
“You think this will work sir?”
“Who knows. Worth a try. If it doesn’t then we leg it the hell out of here.”
More minutes passed.
“Captain! Three more escorts, this time below from the left. We rotated away too much, there’s no fresh laser arrays facing them. These ones aren’t carriers, they’re traditional mixed weapon array ships.”
“The carriers, are their hangars damaged or disabled?”
“None disabled, but all very heavily damaged.”
“That’ll do. Increase rotation, cut our propulsion in entirety. Hit the sublights then put everything on the damn escorts. Nothing fancy, go for general hull damage but of course with a preference for engines and armaments if you have a good shot. Get the bastards to fear for their lives I know no little mercenary will take death just for a little better reputation. Once they’re on the run go full speed ahead for the transport’s system entry line, ram them if we can but cut them off from escape, leave deep-space their only option. Batter their weapons and engines all the while, I’m still hoping to board them before the monitors show up. I will not let this be a failure.”
“Sir, yes Sir.”
They took several lighter rail hits as well as plasma and laser bursts to the shields against the escorts, but with the spinning barrage that The Varangian returned they were taken out of the fight very fast. But now they had the transport to catch up with, disable and board.
The Kryd had a very wise choice of arms. Its owner knew it was a vessel not intended for combat and so chose a very particular set of armaments. The high speed railguns covering it weren’t meant to destroy ships. Instead, they were meant to overwhelm shields and with surgical precision take out things that might impede a speed escape; engines, armaments, scanners, communications. They wouldn’t destroy a ship, but they would make sure that The Kryd itself would not be destroyed or caught.
But never before had Drella’s little toy had to deal with such a persistent hound. Like a thrown knife the Varangian spun on, it’s laser array never tiring. Councillary ships with their tachyon repulsors used a rather different system of propulsion from the typical dark matter vessels of Eden. Though far less maneuverable, they did have a slight edge in speed and here that was very important. The cargo ship couldn’t afford to go to deep space to hope and wait out the Councillary vessel, cargo ships were never stocked for such hideouts. Thus it somehow had to zig-zag away from The Varangian while also making its way into the system. But it’s run didn’t let it get to the safety of the approaching monitors, the weight of fire of laser arrays eventually first just stalling its engines and then finally busting them. Now slowly drifting through space, the CCN vessel got close much faster before going around it much as a shark circles its next morsel. Avoiding the firing lines of the rail weapons it disabled them one by one and finally the communication of the foe, until it was like a sitting duck, moving simply by the motion it had already built up.
It was time to board. Reislaufers assembled to be briefed, donning their powered armours and loading their weapons meanwhile. They were divided into many teams of twelve, given various missions such as apprehending whoever was commandeering the vessel to finding evidence of the suspected criminality of The Kryd. Each team of twelve was to have precisely three of the fresh recruits, letting the more experienced soldiers give them their experience and guide them in the boarding action. Viktor gave a review of what happened, and what was expected to happen.
“Not going yourself, Captain? A little scared?” the Sergeant jested towards Viktor, clasping a boot around his foot.
“No, no. I just want to make sure there’s a little bit left for you to do!”
“It’s on you to find whoever their Captain is and capture or failing that eliminate them. I’m sending the psychic in, too. She’s going to find whatever they’re doing in there and maybe find the leader of the bastards. Play nice, please, or at the very least don’t be an idiot.”
Seeing that the Sergeant was about to make a snide remark he cut the man off, raising a hand. “Shut up, do your duty.”
“Legion Eternal, Eternally Victorious, Captain.”
The flyers went to the docking bays of The Kryd and lowered their ramps to release a flood of Reislaufers. They fanned out making sure nobody was awaiting them in the docking bay for an ambush, before splitting up down the various pathways leading out of enclosure. The place was not too bad for a pirate vessel. There was no trash laying about, no bullet holes or shitty graffiti. The lights were turned off or flickering ominously but quick analysis of circuitry revealed this was intentional to attempt to frighten and disorient the boarding parties. This brought amusement to the Neohumans, who even without visors or goggles had night vision on par with the best military equipment of Eden and Reislaufers were never scared for it was they who did the scaring.
The soldiers split up into the three main groupings as planned: a Hunter Killer team headed by Sergeant Kjaro aiming for the leader of the vessel hopefully leading to the capture of Drella the Swift, the investigation team focused around the psychic who was to find evidence of any transgressions against Eden this vessel was doing, and generalized combat teams that were to secure the vessel as a whole making way for the other teams.
“Well, where to?” queried a Reislaufer, who Alyx instantly recognized as the massive brute who had previously beaten her. He in one hand carried a PDW of some sort, whilst the other bore a massive chainsaw larger than some men which his hand was in much like a glove. Somehow she knew the man was grinning, realizing her recognition. A little anger flared, the man frowning realizing Alyx was harbouring some negativity towards him. She was about to say something not very nice, until a hand went upon her shoulder — Danylo. This corridor is straight for a while, let’s just get moving and when we get to the end we’ll make a choice.”
In truth the cybernetic and gene modded legs of the Reislaufers covered the corridor in seconds, but even that with the reassurance she wasn’t being rushed gave Alyx the composure to properly apply her psychic talent to the situation. Exiting the corridor they found themselves at a small intersection, large dents where directional screens were previously indicating the crew of the vessel did their best to make sure the boarders could not navigate the place. This was in fact, precisely why they had a psychic. Alyx felt a lot of pressure on her with many gazes right there, but it was good she actually had… well, she could only describe it as a trail. She somehow felt the purpose of the vessel, even if now she could not yet articulate it. At the same time she had something to go after, and motioned the other Reislaufers to follow her with the rifle she was given. They went down a hallway, opening a door which seemed to have a sort of bar-like facility. Several of the ships crew were present, and while they didn’t have pirate or human trafficker written all over them they certainly didn’t look like mere security for a trader’s cargo. They were mercenaries, gear very variable rather than standardized and self interest in their eyes and voices. The entry of the Neohumans took them somewhat by surprise, but they were professional enough to react appropriately looking for heavy cover to take before opening fire. Some of the Reislaufers hit the deck, some flipped tables or hid behind pillars and other cover. The only ones who didn’t do so were Alyx, and the giant. The giant ran towards the bar counter, the large impromptu metal barricade serving as cover for the largest amount of the foe. His PDW in rapid fire spat bursts of plasma, while his chainsaw was held high to make an ear piercing rev as it glowed red with heat. As if a mere sand castle he walked through the bar counter, with his plasma PDW unloading full auto shots to leave the mercs on one side as molten piles of goo while with his other hand he cleaved through the rest. One with power armour grabbed the chainsaw hand with both hands, but this only warded off his fate of being bisected by the spinning teeth by half a second. Alyx for her part threw lightning at a man that aimed a rail sniper at her, before shooting another man while sliding towards a flipped refrigerator that some of the foes used as cover. She relayed a message to one of the other Reislaufers to release the maglock on one of his plasma grenades, and the moment the fellow obliged she pulled the bomb towards herself with her mind. Throwing it over her the refrigerator the explosive was remotely detonated via the Noosphere, leaving the four mercs behind the fridge no time to try escape its fiery wrath. The rest of the foe was mopped up with coordinated fire and once it was determined the room had no hostiles left the soldiers convened. “Casualty report.” a Reislaufer demanded, the Noosphere telling Alyx it was Sergeant Maxim Korhonen, her current leader.
“An arm lost, two legs, an eye, one armour rig damaged and to be discarded, one rifle inoperable. Simo is gravely injured, he’ll make his way back.” Danylo replied, working on some battlefield repairs of one man’s cybernetics while cybernetic limbs closed the wounds in the flesh of another Reislaufer.
“Good. Move in one minute. Reload, rest.” Korhonen gave a look to Alyx that meant while she could use this time to rest, she should be deciding their next step. But a sound distracted her. She walked over to investigate, seeing it was one of the mercenaries. The man was clearly alive, some noise coming from him which after a few moments she realized was speech. It was initially incomprehensible to her, for it was as though it was heavily slowed down. She realized then that it was.
“Happens to everyone, it's called outdated shock sometimes.” Korhonen said, walking over to slap the mercenary’s head to smithereens in one blow. “They’re slower than us. A lot slower. You get used to it. He, for example, was saying it hurt a lot to be lying with his spleen between his legs and he wanted us to end it."
Alyx stood in shock, blood and organ bits dripping off her. Shaking her head clear of this, she pointed to another door. "That way." she pointed, before going off. The very instant it opened a railgun fired, hitting the chainsaw bearing brute right in the head. His energy shield took most of the velocity from the attack but it still penetrated his helmet, and took off a good chunk of his head. His very brains were exposed to the open air but somehow Alyx was not surprised to see he kept going.his eyes flared red and he rammed through his fellow Reislaufers to unleash spinning hell to several unfortunate mercenaries. A rocket was shot at him which in mid air he struck with his plasma carbine; the length of his arm meant the projectile exploded just far enough away to only vapourize his limb rather than him in entirety. The railgun armed sniper again took aim, but seeing him the giant threw his chainsaw blade at the foe to split him directly in half. With that done he picked up an unfortunate mercenary and in entirety bit off his skull, chewing momentarily and then swallowed before falling to the ground.
His comrades wasted no time in fanning out, noting they were now in a mess hall of sorts. They made sure to suppress the enemy with automatic fire while they got to cover themselves, but just as many shots were fired in the enemy's general direction as were aimed ones which met with a result of inflicting both suppression and casualties on the foe.
Several enemies in stealth equipment dropped down from the ceiling all but noiselessly, yet the all but did not save them. Blades cut into them while many carbines turned them to ash, and as if nothing happened the Reislaufers returned to the main battle. Alyx was about to ask for some grenades to repeat the earlier telekinetic trick but looking through the crack in the pillar she was using for cover she noted the enemy was doing this job for the squaddies. A man pulled the pin from a fragmentation bomb and with a little mental effort from the psychic it exploded there and then. With the shock amongst the foe Korhonen was about to command a charge, but then stopped when the covers of the service stands opened, each revealing a heavy machine gun. At once all three of the weapons opened fire, their high calibre bullets very threatening to the Reislaufers even with their Neohuman frames and power armours. Sergeant Korhonen cursed, the rain of fire so great he could barely even peek out.
“Fuentes! Do something about those guns.” he ordered, dust from bullet impacts raining on everyone.
“W...what am I to do? I can’t get into their heads, the gunners are professionals and that’s not where my power is.” she replied, glad her augmented ears could detect what the Sergeant was saying in spite of the great noise.
“Just jam the guns!” Maxim called out, and to Alyx surprise she saw the man take out one of his eyes and throw them to the side. The eyeball twitched momentarily, before turning at the gun emplacements.
“Right, I know the pattern now. I’m sending you the schematics and the parts to target. Just melt a little bit of the feed system that’s all.”
As if they were before her the psychic saw a diagram of the HMG assemblies, and understanding what she had to do wasted no time in silencing their fire. One, then another, and yet another. The enemy was not ready for this to say the least. The mercenaries counting on the fact they had effectively pinned down the boarding soldiers had decided to thus move up, but without the covering fire given by the heavy guns they were largely caught in the open and thus promptly gunned down. Those that were still in good positions were not stupid enough to stay here with their comrades dead and they all retreated through different corridors, making sure to split up so the Reislaufers wouldn’t effectively be able to give chase. They rallied for now, again counting their losses. The head of the fallen giant now acknowledged as Kristoff was sealed to prevent any further loss of brain material, and his systems were made to hibernate in the hope of preserving the man whilst a wounded Reislaufer carried him back to The Varangian. The location of the fallen trooper was transmitted to other nearby teams so they could properly aid him, and thus the squad gathered up to continue on their mission.
“Right, we’re losing numbers, so be careful. The mission will be finished either way, let’s not have it be done at the expense of any lives. Move out.” the Sergeant said, and so they did.
In a single file line they went through a door Alyx suggested, making sure nobody got a chunk of their head blown off the moment they stepped through. This was now the kitchen it seemed, the place once again surprising the Reislaufers given this was a vessel clearly trading illicit matters. At the same time, the Ulex and their buddies owning this vessel were fairly affluent in rumour, so why not have a bit of luxury?
That said, it seemed that what they were previously cooking was not quite luxurious. Gruels of some sort, the cheap shit you gave to people for a penny when all they cared about was making sure their stomach was full. A Reislaufer kicked a pot, and as if that were some sort of queue a door opened revealing several simmies of different varieties. They all bore weapons, and with their typical simian noises rustled in. Fighting them wasn’t like fighting normal people, for even though they were still very significantly slower than Neohumans in movement and reaction they moved erratically, their unpredictable movements making hitting them quite a chore. Besides, while not as strong as a Neohuman (much more, one in power armour) they were certainly far better combatants than the previous mercenaries in melee combat.
The soldiers did not properly get into gear for combatting the apes before yet another door opened, revealing some greenskin variants. Their weapons were crude, but the ideal things for fighting Neohumans. Large brutal axes, clearly improvized assault rifles firing massive bullets on the verge of being classified as autocannons. A third and final door opened revealing more of the same previous mercenaries, whilst vents broke open to drop more xenoforms of all sorts. It became a true bloodbath with bullets and lasers, plasma and blades, and all other tools of death flying through the scene to leave the floor many different shades of red. A particularly large and dark greenskin entered combat, and Maxim Korhonen stepped up to face the thing. It was much taller even than fallen Kristoff carrying a great two handed axe. The weapon was clearly far more advanced than the typical ramshackle thing one could see from a greenskin, very much approaching the sword that the Sergeant drew in sophistication. He flourished the thing, before running at the thing. He went for a slice from the side, except he didn’t for it was a feint! He turned the blade to the side instead for a stab, but it didn’t matter. The beast simply slammed him aside and went on assuming it’s foe was done with. But while Korhonen had underestimated it, the alien had made the same mistake. Rising, Korhonen charged at the greenskin from the side with a simple downwards chop which it turned just in time to parry — sort of. While it had stopped the sword of the axe from cutting it, the great weapon it bore was now cleaved in two. It did have a sort counter-initiative now, however, and punched the sword out of the Sergeant’s hands.
“This is why we practice fighting without our weapons, Fuentes!” he called out with a chuckle to the psychic who - for reason of being busy fighting several simmies - did not find this very humourous. Korhonen punched the thing, but save for ripping some flesh off of its skin it seemed unphased. It returned one of its own, but the Sergeant caught the flying limb, biting a good chunk of the muscle powering it. At the same time he kicked it in a shin just hard enough to break its bone, and leave it unstable. Pulling himself up the dazed greenskin’s shoulders he stood on them for the remaining second it was upright and twisted its head off to show the whole room. It rekindled the fighting spirit of the Reislaufers, whilst demoralizing the whole of the enemy mercenaries.
As if trying to mimick the Reislaufer, an Ulex jumped on the neck of Maxim the moment he dropped back to the ground. It tried to cut his throat open with a surgical tool, but after piercing flesh it found no further purchase for the man’s neck was entirely cybernetic. It tried again, but it didn’t get a third try when Korhonen grabbed the thing, and after a soft squeeze of its bones he dropped the now limp body. He didn’t waste time stepping on the creature as was somewhat customary for Councillary troops, instead moving in to aid his comrades with his blade. Minutes passed, and all the Reislaufers were covered in red from head to toe, but they had nevertheless won the skirmish. With that said, it was a sour victory, the only truly standing soldiers remaining being Korhonen, Alyx, Danylo and Fjodor Ninisto - a simple rifleman.
“Do you think we can make it? Just us four?” Maxim asked, looking to the psychic. He appeared quite eerie with his throat bearing a slice that homo sapiens would long be dead of, and half his face’s skin torn off right down the middle leaving his moustache split into two.
Taking her gaze off of the Sergeant’s mutilation Alyx looked to the remaining squad before shrugging. “If we’re careful.” she said, before continuing seeing the looks she got from her comrades. “There’s a lot dead, not just here. The other soldiers, they’re rolling through the ship leaving nothing alive. But it’s not safe, though there’s far less of them I can feel there’s still some of the mercenaries still roving about.”
Korhonen rubbed his forehead wearily, before nodding. “Alright, lead the way.” he said, sheathing his sword and readying his plasma rifle. The group followed the psychic’s lead, her directions getting ever more confident as she felt they were getting close. “Stop.” she said, raising a hand. “There’s some coming. A lot coming.” she said, pointing to the end of the hallway they were currently in. “From there.”
“What do we do?” Korhonen demanded, knowing from the inflection in the psychic’s voice it was far more than they could take on. She turned to the side and forced her fingers into the bottom of the wall before pushing it upwards, revealing a closet of sorts. “In there, three of us can fit.” She stated, looking to Fjodor. “You, run.” Alyx commanded, before pulling in Danylo and Maxim and closing the cramped space. A minute or so passed, until the rattle of footsteps came and went. After some seconds passed Danylo went to open the closet once more, but a hand on his shoulder stopped him. “Wait.” Alyx mouthed, for yet another small gaggle of mercenaries passed soon. Finally she opened the closet, and again they continued through the vessel.
The trio moved rather quietly given each of them was covered in metal and weighed about the same as four or five outdateds. They didn’t let this get to their heads though for even if the naked ear of most Edenites couldn’t sense the Reislaufers for some distance there were many scanners about the place which could report them, and they’d be forced to run at any moment. “We’re close.” Alyx said, and as they turned a corner she pointed towards a large blast door. “There, whatever this ship is really about is there.” Both Sergeant and Danylo were apprehensive about this. They didn’t have the sense of premonition, nor the general sense of the universe that Alyx did and just couldn’t find the confidence she had. Still, they had nothing to really say against going through the blast doors and as such they followed her.
Alyx tried to open them, and upon failing looked to Danylo who nodded and went to the control panel. From beneath the skin of his arms several small cybernetic limbs emerged which bore into the device and after a bit of noise the blast doors opened. The three went through it to find a small corridor at the end of which were two simple doors, upon seeing which the Sergeant paused. “Don’t worry, nothing… nothing really bad is on the other end.” Alyx said, and dragged the other two Neohumans through the door. What they saw was… well, it was unexpected even to the psychic. It was almost a whole city of shanties stacked upon one another in a favela like manner. Some were clustered around another structure underneath them, which after quick scans were revealed to be reactors and engines. The Reislaufers came to the same conclusion in but a moment: slaves. By the look of a few cargo containers and cages here and there, it seemed that they worked parts of the ship while it was in transit from port to port. When a friendly port was reached, masses of the people would be scooped up and sold. Fear of being sold to a bad buyer was apparently enough of a motivation for the people to do proper work, for there was a look of exhaustion amongst many of the slaves.
Those near enough to properly see the entry of the Reislaufers looked at them in astonishment, and it was only moments before a crowd had formed. The Neohumans were clearly not the mercenaries that Drella had hired, but as armed giants soaked in blood and with chunks of skin hanging off they didn’t quite look like liberators either. Korhonen spoke up, knowing something had to be said. “Everyone here is going to be freed. We have boarded this vessel and are promptly taking control of it. Your slavers are one by one being exterminated, the situation is under control.” Noticing the crowd closing in tighter Korhonen raised his rifle meaningfully, and spoke again before anyone could ask a question.
“Please, remain calm. Soon you will all be out of here, but until then you need to keep quiet, don’t do anything. Please.” With that he motioned for Alyx and Danylo to follow him back to the halls of the ship, making sure to close the blast doors behind themselves. Yes these people would be freed, but they didn’t need a stampede just about now. Maxim opened a line back to The Varangian, getting ahold of the Captain and informing him of the situation.
“We’ve found what they’re doing, Sir. Slaves, a lot of them. We haven’t counter, but it’s a lot, bigger than the usual operation.”
“Excellent work, Sergeant. With the docking bay and surrounding area secured I’m sending in reinforcements, I’ll be joining them and I’ll see this for myself. Make your way back to the docking bay as well, this ship is ours now.”
Viktor closed off the line, and had to bring forth all of his will power to not break into song and dance. Not only had his gambit paid off, but he was going to make a name for himself, a name not associated with the January Massacres. This was his way forwards, this was how he would rise up the ranks of the Councillary armed forces and eventually… eventually… eventually there’d be whole Legions under his command, eventually the worlds of Eden would all give tribute to him and the face of his Neohuman perfection would be etched into every world. But for now this power fantasy could rest, for now he had to save lives and earn the right to that future.
Back on The Kryd the trio obeyed their orders, going on back to the docking bay. The sound of gunfire and motorized blades came from everywhere, and there was thus no point trying to navigate the ship by simply avoiding it. Their progress halted for a moment though, when Alyx again felt something. She felt something very bad. “We’re… we’re going to be surrounded. Down that way-” she said, pointing down a corridor. “A bunch of xenos are coming. We have to go, and the only way is back. They know we’re here they saw us on a camera, we’re easy pickings to them. We’ll keep running, but we’ll just get cut off by some mercenaries running towards the escape pods. We’ll take another turn, and a few more, but eventually we’ll just get caught by the first group that split up to get us. It’s over.” she said, with an eerie calmness.”
“What?” was all Danylo could say.
“And you’re sure of this?” asked the Sergeant.
“Then run off, both of you. I’ve seen enough old movies to know what I’m supposed to do. I’ll keep them busy, you survive and tell my story.”
Danylo was about to say something, but the Sergeant raised a hand. “I told you, I’ve seen movies. You’re the young idealist that’s going to say something like there’s a better way, but everyone knows there isn’t. Go!”
Neither of the Reislaufers was wanting to dishonour Korhonen’s sacrifice and so they ran off. Alyx momentarily turned her head to look at the man, seeing him kneeling with his sword in his lap and pistol drawn in one hand whilst he crossed himself with the other. She’d have saluted the man, if she hadn’t been running for her life. Soon she heard the man’s sword slicing flesh, gunfire, and eventually nothing.
They had been running for about half an hour, the sounds of combat now merely sporadic as they stopped to take in their surroundings.
“What now?” Danylo asked.
“We go another way. Quick, there’s more mercs running about.” she said to Danylo while pointing down another path. They ran down it, hitting another fork. While Alyx was deciding which way to go once more, a Ulex ran from one to another, giggling as it did so.
“Wait that’s… that the Drella bastard!” Danylo announced, running after the thing. Alyx tried to warn him that it wasn’t the way to go, she wasn’t fast enough. The doors he was going through forcefully closed as he was about half way through them, and while they weren’t enough to split his augmented frame in two it was more than enough to heavily damage him.
“Idiot!” Alyx roared, going over to the stricken Danylo. “It didn’t seem silly to you he just leisurely ran along by us, that he was giggling the whole time?” She didn’t let him reply, picking him up over a shoulder and looking from side to side. Already enough time had been wasted for more of the ship’s defenders to be dangerously near and it took all of her emotional regulators to prevent a panic.
She went the way where the Ulex had come from, almost having made it to the end of the corridor when a burst of laser fire crossed her vision. Grabbing Danylo she hugged a wall and kept as quiet as possible, hoping whoever was doing the fighting would just run by. She was somewhat surprised then when from around the corner a rifle was instantly pointed at her, and then a momentarily surprised Sergeant Kjaro appeared. He raised an eyebrow, noting there were only two Reislaufers and one was injured. “We found slaves, we got hit, we’re all that’s left of the squad.” Alyx realized then Kjaro was alone, who noting the look she gave him responded with a shrug.
“Likewise, more or less. Well then, I best be off, I need to find the little Drella bastard. He’s close.”
“Yes, he just ran by us. Used a door as a trap, did this to Danylo.” Alyx gestured to the long gash along the length of the soldier she held.
“What? You should have said so sooner bloody hell!” the Sergeant roared, running down the hallway. The same “trap” sprung on him but he caught the door going to slam him, and with his hands and tore it off before throwing it aside. He turned smugly to Alyx, and gave a soft salute before turning back to continue his chase.
“Wait!” the psychic called out, waiting for Kjaro to turn yet again to face her. “You can’t just leave us like this. Anyway you won’t find the little rat without me, we stick together.” Blood rushed to the Sergeant’s face as his hatred for the entire universe and the psychic came to surface, but there was reason enough in what she said. With a growl Oleksandr relented, motioning with his head for Alyx to catch up. Following psychic impulses and heat signatures from the Ulex they got closer and closer to Drella, finally entering a rather large room. It was dark, illuminated only by a multitude of screens and piles of electronics sparking. “There!” the Sergeant pointed, raising his rifle and firing a burst of laser. The Ulex was furiously typing something in a terminal, but a shield formed around it protecting it. Just as the Sergeant realized this he charged at the vile xeno with his bayonet but it ran aside, jumping inside a chamber which the Sergeant recognized as an escape pod.
“Enjoy!” the alien cheered, as through a window of the pod it pointed to a screen hanging off of a wall. T-Minus 9:59 until self destruct it read in very large red text. At the same time the door to the room closed and from the piles of electronic several robots with clearly violent intent arose. “Bye-Bye!” Drella cried, and the pod shot out into space.
“Captain, the vessel is self destructing, evacuate all troops now!” The Sergeant screamed into his line with the vessel, firing his entire magazine into the first battle robot that approached him before dropping the weapon and taking his chain axes out instead. He split one in twain, and then another, but he was in moments surrounded and beat down. Several robots turned to Alyx who walked back with the not fully regenerated Danylo still hoisted on her shoulders. She flung one robot aside with her powers, and melted the arms of another, and then she dropped Danylo while falling to her knees. Suddenly all the tracking with her powers combined with the precognition and use of them in combat hit her like a truck, and she felt as though about to faint. Everything slowly turned dark, until a very sharp and hot pain struck her in the back. She turned to see Danylo had some sort of surgical tool jammed into her, before the Reislaufer spoke up. “Rage! Your inhibitors, turn them off, now!” But she didn’t have to, Danylo had done so manually. Rather than turning black everything instead turned red. “Oh shit.” She said, “I’m feeling it.” She heard her heartbeat as though it was jammed into her very ear and with each beat it was as though the whole universe shook.
She blinked, her vision suddenly clear. She looked down to see her right leg missing and her scalp some metres away. Alyx hopped to rotate, strangely pleased at the ability to keep balance in this moment. “Well. They’re done!” came her cheerful announcement, before collapsing in front of a stunned Danylo and Sergeant. Around her all the robots were destroyed.
“Bloody hell,” the still conscious duo said in unison, the Sergeant standing up to look about for a way out. “We’re trapped.” Danylo said, shaking his head.
“Wrong again, idiot.” The Sergeant said, in spite of the fact Danylo hadn’t been wrong in front of Kjaro before. Oleksandr had to admit to himself he was a little annoyed that the Engineer too left consciousness and didn’t hear the insult. He went to the wall beside the blast doors, and after a running start smashed into it once, twice, thrice, and then a fourth time going straight through it. With laughter he returned, reloading his rifle and now picking up the two injured Reislaufers onto either shoulder.
Kjaro began to sprint towards the docking bay, again speaking to The Varangian. “Sir, I’ve got the psychic and a little friend. The Ulex escaped, though you might be able to still hit the pod if you’re lucky.
“Affirmative, Sergeant.” Viktor said, long since have decided a way out of the situation with the self-destruction. “Listen, make your way to the slave shacks. We’re using our laser batteries to cut off the rest of the vessel from their holdings, you have to get in there and shut off the Engines and Reactors so the cut is clean and the place doesn’t explode. Hurry!”
Kjaro cursed, knowing he now had less than six minutes to do this. Running through the ship with his unnatural Neohuman speed to get to the actual slave holding only took a minute, but he had to find where the console was too. This didn’t seem to be made any easier by the fact that upon entry there seemed to be some sort of small civil war going on with the slaves. They were divided by the majority of those who seemed happy to aid their new liberators and find freedom, and those who had developed a soft stockholm syndrome. These ones had through work got good positions with the slavers and even the potential to join their ranks, and though these were a minority they were better fed, more organized, and even had some real arms and armour rather than just machine tools, pipe bombs, molotov cocktails and whatever else could be found or jury rigged with the junk they had.
Regardless of if they were for or against him, Kjaro shoved through. The occasional bullets or molotov hit him but they merely tickled, though he realized that some of that which was directed at him instead hit the Reislaufers he carried on either shoulder. Well, they’d have to deal with it. He got to one of the reactors, and rose to the summit of it to find one of the workers cowering. The Sergeant screamed at him demanding where the control panels were for them and found a terrified finger pointing towards a high tower. Given the gunfire coming from it’s roof it seemed that the place was of those still loyal to the slavers. He cursed, dropping Danylo and Alyx to the trust of the fellow and sprinting to the tower. Oleksandr had three minutes left, and depending on exactly how much rabble he’d have to clear the man might indeed not make it.
Sliding off the reactor he jumped onto a passing car before jumping on to a power line and yelling in anger as it was unable to hold his gargantuan weight. Deciding not to try any more tricks Kjaro simply sprinted towards the tower with quite a hail of bullets coming to him as he neared it. He returned fire but there were far too many of the renegades to kill with his laser. Rather than bothering to go up the large stairwell of the tower he ascended it’s walls, digging his fingers deep into the walls effectively forcing new handholds into existence. After going up a few stories a window showed a terminal with several corpses around it: jackpot. Climbing in Kjaro elbowed a man’s neck broken before going to the keyboard. He jammed a finger into an access port to interface with it via the cybernetics in his bones and with a triumphal roar turned off the reactors and engines of the spacious room. “It’s done.” he said to the Captain, and without a reply heard a very loud noise. That noise was The Varangian’s laser batteries cutting out the slave holding from the rest of the vessel, which not long after exploded.
While Neohuman flyers started going to the slave holding to attach it to the Councillary vessel the great amount of noise gave wake to Alyx, the psychic standing up. Even if out of consciousness a Neohuman could take in their surroundings and she was already aware of the cowering slave worker. She noticed something rather odd about him, that being his ears. They were pointed, but quick scans indicated he was indeed wholly human. “What… what is with your ears?” came her query, a gesture made to her own ears to demonstrate.
“What? I just got surgery, that’s it.”
“I don’t know, it looked alright.”
A strange disgust overcame the psychic, one she had never felt before. She reached out, and took the man by the throat. She squeezed first extremely softly, the man trying to say something of protest and get augment her limb away, but without the slightest effect. Then she squeezed hard, and the light in his eyes dimmed. Something did this to her, something in her augments made her find something so internally wrong with someone choosing to willingly make such a nonsensical solely aesthetic change to the natural body with surgery.
What she had just done hit her just as it happened, and she recoiled from her own action. “What the fuck have I done.” she said out loud, not whispering nor shouting, merely saying the small amount of rhetoric for… well, no real reason she could feel. Again she collapsed into unconsciousness, hatred for her condition and all the belonging she felt mere hours ago forgotten.
Viktor’s along with other smaller boarding crafts docked with this small part of The Kryd, and Reislaufers entered the slave holding in great number. The renegade slaves were all put down with no allowance of surrender. With that said, a great many were still allowed to live albeit not as they would then want; their brains were removed if intact, before being sealed and preserved to convert them into Neohumans in the future when workers were needed.
Viktor using a jump-pack ascended to the highest point of the slave box, watching as Reislaufers handed out foods, medicine, and whatever else the people were lacking. Already the system monitors were informed of what happened with proofs and were now backing off. Communiques were sent across all Eden informing all news outlets and states of what had happened, of how the glorious warriors of the Councillary Confederation of Neohumanity had liberated slaves and they were to be returned to their homes in little more than a week. A Reislaufer approached the Captain, who barely went out of the second daydream he had of the great amount of fame and power this event would bring him. He smugly knew that the faces of many heads of state would soon be looking at a beautiful image of his own. “Yes, Yesaul?”
“Shall I give the order to purge the xenos, Lord Captain?”
“No, Yesaul. We have to win hearts and minds. We’ll take everyone here back to Sol, men and aliens alike. We will of course give the real people an option to be upgraded but only by will shall it be done. All will see that I am… that is to say, the Confederation is a great liberator, and we are the way forwards. The return of the xenos here will be a powerful blow to the narratives spouted by hateful foreign powers, they will be discredited and I shall be shown righteous. It’ll of course be grand when people return with tales of Sol’s beauty, too.” The entire universe was in front of Viktor and he spread his arms. A soft chuckle came from him, that turned to a harsh laughter. Few in the universe heard it, but as a living creature Eden shuddered at the sound. It was buried in the music of the spheres, but all souls of the universe could sense a foreboding in it.
After training and trying to integrate some recruits, the Reislaufers aboard The Varangian investigate a strange ship with dubious international legality of their actions. After some efforts though, they discover it traded in slaves whom they promptly liberated from their xeno master. Viktor Tarau is making sure the full extent of this news story goes across Eden with more than half a million souls saved to make him - and of course the CCN - look very good in the international spotlight.