Artium Tribal Lands A month had long passed, Prince Philip and his small host, still licking their wounds after their humiliating defeat at the hands of the Yuwanist savages, the occasional scout group returning with one or more less men then there were before, a grim reminder of how woefully unprepared the young, arrogant prince and his men were. Within a large, very noticeable tent, it's fabric much more...refined then the raggy and dirty materials of the tents used by the peasant levies. Prince Philip and several of his most veteran soldiers gathered around a table, it's surface decorated with daggers, candles and a large map of the region, provided by their generous allies. "My lord, we've scoured the border, nearly all of our patrols taking losses.
The young prince sat at the very edge of the tab, paying little mind to his officers as his attention was more focused on his maimed hands, the small stubs where his fingers once were, quite frankly, it was a miracle he and his surviving men had not died to infection like the others, the local Priests in the camp ensuring survival once they arrived. His expression was sour, the bitterness and anger festering every time to gazes upon his maimed hands.
"My lord?" One of the Officers spoke, taking notice of his unattentiveness.
Philip shook his head and looked up. "Yes, yes?" He said.
"Uhh..As I was saying, the savages seemed to have a solid grip over the border, our troops unable to effective in any sort of fight."
"Those heathens...." Philip hissed.
"My lord, I strongly suggest we fall back, we can no-"
"NO!" Philip snapped. "I will not be beaten by these savages! I will be satisfied, I demand it!" The fail skirmish was a real impact on the prince. "They will not so easily be sparred of any retribution, as Justinian as my witness, I WILL conquer these lands!"
"My lord..it simply Isn't.." Before the man could even finish, some commotion was going on outside, the men chattering and hollering. "What the devil is going on out there?" Another Officer spoke.
"This will have wait." Philip said, standing up and leaving the tent, as he lift up the flaps, he took notice as soldiers begin to crowd near the camp entrance, this caught his curiosity. He simply moved forward, the levies taking notice of their lord, and by instinct of their class, cleared a way through for him.
He reached the Camp entrance, his brows raised to the sight before him now. A small company of Gunners stood before him, leading said men was a an aged man in his sixties, the Captian of the Nudden House Guard, Atharan Homwell, he rode atop a white stallion. "Captain?" Philip spoke in bewilderment. "What is the meaning of this?" He asked.
"Greetings my prince." The Captain said. "Forgive me, but unsavory rumors had begun to spread, and...it seems they were not far off." He paused as he dismounted his steed. "Your father feared the worst, and had me personally lead an expedition to the Northern Lands."
Although this could be taken as an insult of sorts, or perhaps not, either way, Philip's pride has already been bruised at the hands of the savages, however, the situation seemed to improve, Philip now had his Father's best warrior and the elite riflemen of Aberys at his disposable."
"..I must thank you and my father for this assistance...but I must ask, is this your whole party?"
"Goodness no." Atharan said with a hearty laugh. "See for yourself, my prince."
The Prince moved forward, going pass the Captain and gunners, looking down the hill his camp had been set up on, his eyes widened. Before him was a marching aberysian host, their banners flying under the House of Nudden, the sight itself brought a tear to his eye. By Justinian, this truly is a gift! Philip's expression switched from awe, to a sinister grin, followed by a small chuckle "I care not if this is an insult from father or not, I now have the means to which I can enact my vengeance." He said, turning to the other spectators. "Know this! These savages will be no more soon! I will conquer these lands in the name of not only Justinian, but in the name of my House, these lands will soon be ruled by House Nudden, it is now mine by birthright!"
Cheers soon followed, moral has risen, and it seems the twilight dawned upon the Artium tribes.
Anaria -- Five years ago, just before first contact
Anaria’s capital city was bustling with life, people going about their daily activities and rituals, a clutter of voices and sounds filling the air. A young man in fancy attire sat in the outdoors section of some small coffee shop, blissfully taking in the energetic scenery while enjoying his cup. Across the table he was sitting was another man in similar clothing. "Today's the day, isn't it Isaac?" The man asked.
"Yeah...nerves are getting to me." Isaac spoke. "Thanks for coming along Justin."
"No problem man." Justin said. "I can't miss my brother's big moment." Isaac continued to sip his coffee, placing it down as he pulled something out of his pocket, a small box, he pushed it back to reveal a ring. "Think she'll say yes?"
Justin nodded. "She'd be crazy not to say yes."
Isaac took a deep breath, taking one last look of the ring before placing it back in his pocket. He then turned his attention to his watch. "Ah, almost time. Let's pay and head out, Diane's waiting."
“Wait, what’s up with the sky?”
Isaac followed Justin’s outstretched finger to the once blue sky, now a deep plum. He squinted, “I’m not su-” In a great blinding flash, a monumental object of fear and destruction smashed into the city. Its black tetrahedral body piercing the crust of the very planet as it touched down, sending a powerful and explosive shock wave in all directions. The buildings leaned away from the impact, and crumbled into particles. Shadows of vehicles, people, pets, were whipped away from the city, their owners ceasing to exist, and most not knowing why.
"What the hell is going on!?!?!" A Defense Station captain screamed out, warning sirens crying out throughout the station, adding on to it, the structure itself had shook violently. "We don't know sir!" One of the CIC staff replied.
"Something hit us, sir...we can't identify.."
"Captain! Multiple Silpspace ruptures...by the the gods, they're in the thousands!"
Sweat begun to seep downward from the Captain's forehead, this fear was something he's never felt in his life. "G-g-give me a visual!" He stuttered.
A holo-display instantly materialized in the center of the room, what probes that remained had captured some images of the alien fleet, the image chilling the crew to the bone. Thousands of vessels of unknown design, eldritch in shape.
"Contact the fleet! We need to act! NO-" The Captain couldn't finish his orders... a plasma bolt had hit the station, leaving a large gaping hole in the CIC room, the Captain and his subordinates sucked out into the void of space, their screams of terror soon muffled and silenced.
Horrified, one solitary survivor managed to break his fist on the door pad, forcing the door into emergency mode and shutting him off from the void filled tomb of his coworkers. Oxygen rushed back into his lungs, scratching his throat and causing the chilling sweat on his neck to shiver. He found his legs and began to run, the station crushing behind him as he ran through checkpoint after checkpoint. The emergency doors slammed closed behind him as he sprinted, the colorful flashes of enemy weapons causing a kaleidoscope of negatives to twist his vision as he continued his flight from death. He passed the infirmary, but it had been ripped off the station, only a emergency wall keeping the corridor safe, a severed body split against it. He kept running.
The Survivor pressed on in his long trek across the station until reach his final destination, a few escape pods had remained, most of the crew, understandable, dead. He whispered a quick prayer to the gods and jumped in the pod.
The pod jettisoned out from the station, the survivor taking a brief glimpse of his doomed world. Pocks of explosive light erupted on the planet below. The bright spheres illuminated the silhouette of escaping ships, civilian and military, from the amassed fleet of unknown origin. Ensign Zaamil pressed his forehead against the window of his pod, fear gripping his stomach as he watched strange yellow beams rip right through those attempting to escape. He was helpless, he was alone. The vacuum of space swallowed the flood of screams, the shouts of desperation, as uncountable bolts of plasma tore apart all he knew, as machines of the unknown deep ripped apart the very federation he served.
Present Day, Uduna
Five years have passed since the Fall of Anaria, for five years the Federation has been on the constant defense against the Dasian's droid swarms, slowly losing system after system, but despite such losses, the men and woman of the Federation Armed Forces refuse to surrender and keep the fight on to preserve the federation and their way of life.
Uduna was one of many worlds that has yet to fall to the Dasian, the 4th Fringe Defense Fleet holding the line in orbit of the arid world. Hundreds of federation ships were pitted against a near endless swarm of Dasian warships, no matter how many were destroyed, they kept coming.
Within and out of the fleet, federation fighter squadrons struggled as they fought their own battle against the drone swarms, the fleet itself now a deathtrap for the squadrons. A trio of Starhawks moved in unison, a symphony of lights blazing all around them as the larger ships continued their exchange. “Green Four and three, maintain formation!" The Squadron leader ordered as they chased and shot down a few drones. "The rest of you!" he called out to the rest of his scattered squadron. "Regroup at the Valentia!" The three starhawks took a sharp turn as they flew past the remains of a federation frigate, the static still emanating from the downed vessel, calls of help and screams heard. "Shit.."
"Green leader!" Green three, a feminine voice called out. "Boogies incoming!" Over a dozen fighter drones were on hot pursuit of the trio, plasma raining down over them. "Scatter!" Green leader ordered, the three fighters parting their separate ways, all around was utter chaos, the fleet was faltering, ships going limp, drifting, others going out in a blaze of light. "Fuckfuckufuck!!" Green leader cursed repeatedly, it was all going so wrong, again. Things would only escalate.
A group of Daisan suicide droids whizzed by, just barely missing the pilots. A massive static cloud erupted from the droids as they pummeled into the side of a close by federal ship, shredding through its shields. As the destructive cloud dispersed, an all too familiar sight came into view.
“Daisan hive inbound,” a voice on the intercom announced. Straight ahead, past the volley between the Daisan and Federal forces the scourge of the federation approached. A massive deflector shield covered the approaching hive in a nigh indestructible sphere, five escort ships surrounding the gear shaped hive inside of the shield, along side equally intimidating cruisers.
“You know the drill,” the voice came back online, “take out the escorts, the shield falls.”
Admirals always had a way of making it sound simple. Just as the order came in, one of the cruisers exited the hive shield, an opaque cloud of strike craft quickly following. A massive yellow beam blasted out from the bow of the cruiser, tearing through the federation forces deemed too close to the enormous hive escort.
“Boogies!” The call forced attention from the massive Daisan ships and to the cloud of Daisan strike craft breaking through into the federation line.
“Watch out for those suicide drones!” The smaller strike craft appearing in front of the encroaching fighters and bombers. A bolt of plasma struck one of the Federation fighter’s wings, the three Daisan fighters from before reappearing behind them.
Green three’s fighter was suddenly blown to stardust, shattered by a hail of plasma bolts. “Godsdamnit!”
“Green leader! We got incoming friendlies!” Green Four spoke, several squadrons worth of fighter craft rushing to engage the drone cloud. “Delta Squadron standing by.”
“Deathsheads, standing by.”
“Gnashu, standing by.”
“All squadrons, we need to buy the fleet time, keep those buggers off!” Green leader cried out.
The three squadrons came charging, unleashing a volley of missiles against the drones. “Scatter! Scatter!” Delta leader ordered, the squadron breaking up, the others soon following. The space between the Dasian Hive and the rest of the fleet was a frenzied dogfight, the pilots giving their all, years of pent up rage directing every shot. What remained of Green Squadron flew in a arrowhead formation, turning away from the battlefield for but a moment. “Green two, Green Five, what took you?”
“Sorry, sir, it’s a godsdamn mess out here.” “We’re here now, Green Three won’t die in vain!”
The four craft made their charge, towards the buzzing angry hive of warfare as they assisted their fellow pilots, unleash another round of missiles, small blooms popping up. “Yeah!”
“Weapons free!” Green Leader ordered. “Don’t die on me.” Green leader’s starhawk zipped and zoomed around, dogging incoming plasma and yellow beams, pursuing the occasional drone and blasting it into dust. “Green Leader! We have a problem!”
The hive was closing in, and its swarm of strike craft were chewing through the federation ships and fighters. Those going too fast bounced off of the spherical hive shield in violent blooms, while those who managed to enter it to engage the escorts were quickly overwhelmed by a crossknit of the Daisan yellow beams or pounding storms of plasma. The federation ships were slowly being forced back towards the orbit, those on point being pummeled by the encroaching Daisan ships, as well as pincushioned by an endless sea of suicide drones and bomber craft. More massive beams raged through the void of space, green leaders eyes following one as it touchdowned explosively across the federation flagship, Valor]’s, shield, causing it to fluctuate. Another beam came pounding forward, and another, a hovering of bombers added to the strain, Federation fighters floating dead around them. The barrage continued and suddenly the last few fatal shots echoed across everyone's channels as the final beams tore through the center axis of the Valor, tearing it in half was a violent flash.
The Pilots stared in awe as the dreadnought was torn in half. “Fuck!” Green cried out in frustration. “....fall back.”
“All squadrons fall back to the surface!”
The Daisan hive slowed as it entered the planet’s orbit, the federation defenses unable to halt its invasion. From the hive’s belly, flashes erupted as foreboding black spikes the size of ships themselves fell from the hive, flying slowly out of the shield, and then as they cleared it, they were gone with a massive blast of speed, plummeting to the planet like lost comets.
7th Army Forward Command Center, outskirts of Jedan City
“General Bradley.” An Operator called. “Dasian Spikes have breached Orbital defenses.”
General Argus Bradley stepped forward from the shadows, his attention focused on the images of the approaching spikes. “I want all ground batteries blowing those things out of the sky.”
“Understood.” The operators replied in unison, relaying the General’s orders to the STS Artillery crews. Within moments, the distant hills were blazing, the heavy Anti-Ship artillery unleash their rounds, large fiery orbs colliding with the spikes, punching holes through several. The General and FOB staff watched in anticipation, followed by some cheers as several spikes begun to break up before passing the atmosphere, a good portion of the enemy’s ground force had been taken out, but it was far from celebration worthy, more spikes were still incoming. “Brace for impact, order all ground forces to find cover! The big one’s coming.”
Even being far from one of the impact zones, the ground shook violently. Everyone quickly looked away from the spike as a bright flash erupted from the impact, the explosion vaporizing the local defenses, and sending clouds of what was friends and comrades out from the impact zone and scattering them for miles.
As the ringing in their ears stopped, a worse sound replaced it. An ominous cacophony of groans polluted the dusty atmosphere as the factory spikes activated. Comlinks quickly opened up from fortifications that survived the impacts, those close enough to the factories reporting contact.
“We got Daisan cyclops droids!” one message shouted.
“Fuck, they brought Melees’!”
“Daisan warmachines approaching!”
“kshhhhhh -- Hyeekshhlllkeesh rgr-rgr,” one of the last comlinks simply echoed the sounds of Daisan blasters, and their bizarre speech patterns.
“Hold steady men!” Reginald shouted. “There is not a force on this planet that can force us to move!”
The men shouted a chorus of “Aye Lord Captain!” in response, either blissfully unaware or simply ignoring just how close they had come to being annihilated. The fortifications nearby had been destroyed when the Daisan had made planetfall. All of them.
Reginald looked up into the sky as a pair of Imperial strike sabres roared overhead. Their railguns opening on some target The lord captain and his men couldn’t see yet. Some of the men lifted their fists and yelled cries of victory at the sight of the friendly aircraft, but it was a short lived celebration. One of the strike sabres dove and rolled, narrowly avoiding Daisan return fire. The other tried to gain altitude, but wasn’t fast enough, its right wing flew off as a Daisan beam struck it, sending the aircraft into a death spiral.
“Here they come paladins!” Reginald shouted again. His men hunkered into fighting positions, most aiming down their railgun’s sights while a few others drew their swords. Overhead the remaining strike sabre dropped a pair of bombs before beating a hasty retreat.
The next few moments seemed to last an eternity as Reginald and the paladins he lead waited for the Daisan to approach. His father once told him that being in the military was long stretches of boredom intersected by moments of intense terror. Funny how his thoughts went to his father at times like these. His finger squeezed the trigger of his railgun before he even fully realized a Daisan clanker had walked into view, appearing through the distant dust cloud.
“Open fire! Open fire!” He yelled. It was unnecessary as the paladins all around him were already powering fire downrange. Bolts of plasma erupted from the dust clouds in response, the barrage jetting out of seemingly everywhere.
Reginald put a droid in his sights, squeezed the trigger, and dropped it. Only for two more to appear where the first had fallen. He growled, dropping the second droid as the third returned fire. Its aim was solid, Reginald’s shields flashing as the droid’s beam struck his shoulder. He’d probably have lost his arm if not for the shield.
He dropped more fully behind cover and looked around at his men. They were faring well, thus far only a few were wounded. It wouldn’t last though and they all knew it. The Daisan would keep throwing droids at the problem until the paladins were either overwhelmed or relieved.
Reginald peered over his cover, but had to duck quickly as a hail of Daisan fire greeted him. One of the paladins further down the line yelled “They’re keeping us pinned.”
“Watch the flanks!” Reginald yelled. “Watch the damned flanks!”
“Harris here” That was the lieutenant in charge of Reginald’s left flank. “We are taking heavy fire. We need- Watch it! Myrmidons!” The transmission cut off suddenly; whether because of some kind of jamming or Harris’ death, Reginald had no idea.
“First sergeant! You’re in charge here!” Reginald said. “Sergeant Pynty, you and your men are with me!”
Reginald charged towards the left flank, his men following close on his heels. By the time they reached the left flank, the battle there had devolved into a free for all melee. Paladins and myrmidons exchanged sword blows, plasma swords and monomolecular blades finding their way into human bodies just as often as droids. A few paladins were desperately trying to keep the clankers pinned with railgun fire while their brothers fought valiantly to keep the myrmidons off of their backs.
Reginald aimed his railgun at the closest myrmidon and fired. The myrmidon seemed to simply lean backwards, dodging the round, before snapping back forward and stabbing the paladin it had been dueling with. Reginald pulled the trigger again, but snarled when his rifle didn’t fire. Had he already run out of ammo?
“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” He shouted as the myrmidon turned towards him and charged. He dropped his railgun and, in one single smooth motion, drew his sidearm and shot the myrmidon in the head. It wasn’t a killing blow, but it did throw the droid to the ground and give Reginald enough time to draw his own plasma sword and promptly plant it into the droid’s chest.
“Destroyer droids!” Someone cried. Reginald had just enough time and look up and spot where the three crab-like droids had managed to flank the paladin’s position, before they opened up a hail of fire on the defenders, their signature shields bubbling up around them.
“Fall back!” Reginald shouted. A few paladins turned their railguns on the destroyers, only to have their rounds do little more than dent the destroyer’s energy shields. Some paladins, Reginald and the squad he had come with included, managed to fall back towards the center. The majority, however, found themselves still locked in a melee with myrmidon droids even as the destroyers gunned them down.
“We need support here! Now!” Reginald shouted over the radio. “Air support. Mechs. I don’t care. We are moments from being overrun!” A nearby explosion through the captain off his feet. Men screamed in pain, their limbs torn from their body. Reginald took just enough time to pat himself down and make sure nothing was missing before shouting “This position is a shattered sword! I repeat: we are a shattered sword!”
“Kshhhh Mecha’s inbound, hold tight River company” a federal accent suddenly came over the comlink.
TO BE CONTINUED…
- Green Three - Everyone on Anaria - Isaac’s hopes and dreams - Suicide Drone #7734 - Valor and crew - The Fifth Comlink - Strike Sabre Pilot - Harris