Friday, March 8, 2013

Into The Black - Part 9 - Planetside

FFF! If fiction is not your thing, in a departure from my normal suggested alternative blog post, I give you the YouTube page of Jonny Pew. His in-game character of Sir Livingston has recently joined QCats to fight the ebil squids in faction war. If you are following the story why not read today's episode and then go see the videos. I'll even link it again at the bottom of the piece!

Into The Black - Part 9 - Planetside

Once again the huge battleship started its slow align to the outbound startgate. Captain Dorn had not moved from the viewport. He knew it was only a matter of time before they got into an engagement. Every time they jumped through a stargate there was the chance there was some capsuleer waiting on the other side.

He didn't have long to wait. Battle-stations sounded throughout the ship and Dorn cursed. They had made it as far as Heydeiles, only two jumps from the Gallenete Federation border. They were so close. Dorn pressed his face to the viewport to see if he could make out what was out there. In the distance he saw something smaller, a cruiser perhaps orbiting the ship at speed. What ever it was, it had locked a warp disruptor onto the battleship, they were going nowhere. Suddenly the darkness of space was illuminated as the massive hybrid turrets on the battleship fired. The sound of the massive hybrid blasters firing resonated through the ship.

Dorn felt helpless. A captain stuck in luxury passenger quarters is not a captain.

"What is it?" Kara asked nervously.

"Some type of cruiser has us pointed. There it is." Dorn pointed out the speck as it orbited past the window. Only the engine contrails were properly visible against the blackness of space.

Another volley of blaster fire lit up the surrounding area and they saw the shields on the cruiser light up and flicker. Dorn smiled. Normally the large guns on a battleship would have trouble tracking the small and manoeuvrable cruiser. However the Guardian Angels had given the Vindicator some help in that regard. The stasis webifiers fitted to the ship were improved many times over their normal specifications. Specific subroutines and power amplifiers built into the Vindicators hull for the stasis webifiers ensured that any ship caught in the swirling graviton field slowed to a faction of its normal speed. Hopefully the fight would soon be over. Dorn saw a series of five engine contrails leaving the battleship, swoop over his window and head out towards the cruiser. A flight of combat drones to finish off the work the guns and stasis webifiers had started.

Dorn could tell the Vindicators shields were still up, and the battleship relied more on its heavy armour plating rather than the shields. The battle appeared to be going their way.


"Shields down to 30%, shield booster chargers are getting low. Speed is down to 60. We cannot hold them for much longer." The captain on the Tengu was shouting over the alarms to the Agent.

"Light it!" she replied calmly.


Dorn watched in horror as a pulsating red energy field appeared over the Tengu. He grabbed Kara by the wrist and yanked her towards the door. She nearly fell over.

"OW! What the........"

"That red flash was a cyno. This ship is about to become scrap metal!" Dorn said as he dragged her at speed into the corridor.

He stopped at a viewport quickly, still holding Kara by the wrist tightly. The space around the Tengu erupted in a mass of ships. Red energy fields streaked around the hulls as an entire Caldari task force of capital and super-capital ships jumped in. This was followed by the appearance of a fleet of sub-capitals. They must have used a jump-bridge portal generated by a Titan class super-capital.

Dorn didn't stay to see the waves of fighters being launched by the numerous carriers and super-carriers. He was heading to the escape pods.

The fight was over quickly. The Basilisk logistical cruisers that had jumped in with the sup-cap fleet locked up the Tengu and started feeding energy direct to its shields. The guns and drones of the Vindicator now could not break through the heavily reinforced energy barrier. Crow class Interceptors used their warp disruption modules to keep the Vindicators warp drive off line whilst the wings of fighters did the damage. Within a minute the task force had inflicted sufficient damage that the reactor on the Vindicator went critical and the ship was blown in half by the force of the explosion.

Dorn and Kara watch this all from the tiny escape pod that had slipped unnoticed from the fight and was now getting into warp. Whilst very slow, doing only 0.1 astrological units per second, the warp drive got them clear as the Caldari fleet moved in towards the wreckage. The inside of the pod smelt of burnt electronics. Dorn had ripped an access panel open as soon as the pod cleared the ship and shorted out the emergency beacon. The last thing they wanted was a electronic signal broadcasting to all where they were.

"So where are we heading?" Kara asked.

"Well we're a bit low on choices." Dorn replied. "This pod cannot travel through a wormhole like an eggers pod can so gate travel is out. Its also safe to assume both stations are covered by Caldari agents and a Vindicators escape pod requesting docking permission may give the game away. Also this pod isn't equipped for re-entry or atmospheric flight so landing planet side is out."


"Only one place I can think we can dock in this system." Dorn said pointing out of the window as a huge grey structure loomed in front of them as they dropped out of warp.


President Roden looked at the report in front of him. The economy wasn't doing well at all, it needed a jump start and he had no idea what to do. His headache had been getting worse all morning. He winced as the door to his office flew open. He glowered at the aide who had barged into his office without even knocking.

"SIR!" the aide panted out of breath as if he's been running "A Caldari task force just jumped into Heydieles!"

"Miltia?" the President asked hopefully.

"No sir! State Navy!"

"That's only two jumps for Villore!" the President growled. "Get me Admiral Toolong now!"

The aide nodded and rushed out of the room.

Jacus went back to his datapad whilst he waited for the Admiral. He retrieved an intelligence report that had come in an hour ago. A woman posing as a Federation Naval Intelligence Officer had been stopped in the capsuleer section of one of their forward stations only two jumps from where the Caldari fleet had jumped in. She had easily overpowered the three Navy personnel who challenged her. Reports from the capsuleers on what their heightened perception and optical implants had picked up on disturbed him. This was too much of a coincidence. He opened a separate file entitled "Pike's Landing". He was one of only 3 people in the entire Federation who could access that file. He skipped over the first few sections that covered the Amarrian deployment of the first immortal super soldiers. He stopped at the section entitled "THANATOS". The bio-engineered agent's corpse had been studied closely in a joint effort with the Caldari Ishukone Corporation and the Federation. Even though the State was officially at war with the Federation a secret agreement had been reached between Ishukone and the Federation to jointly research the corpse and the immortal super-soldier technology that had been recovered at Pike's Landing. Jacus skipped to the summary.

"In conclusion  the body recovered can hardly be called human. Although looking so from the outside, the internals have been heavily bio-engineered. The blood-stream is composed solely of special nanites suspended in solution which perform their function much better than normal red and white cells. The bone structure is reinforced with a carbon polymer which appears to have developed in-situ, perhaps by nano-bot delivery. Muscle structure is, on the surface, apparently normal but the strength of the individual fibres are many times stronger than normal. This gives the subject the appearance of not being participially strong whilst at the same time giving them incredible strength. All internal organs and senses are augmented as is the brain. This person is stronger, faster and fitter than anyone we have ever seen. They have increased perception and reflexes. We currently do not believe any of the four Empires has the level of bio-technology to create this clone. Therefore the only conclusion, given the level of the bio-engineering, that the technology is derived from Jovian Technology. Furthermore, that they were discovered during the Pike's Landing incident leads us to conlude this is a covert agent of CONCORD and was trying to prevent empyrean technology from expanding onto the battlefield.

Jacus leaned back in his chair. This report had given him a major headache for the last year. The conclusions of the report fit perfectly. CONCORD had overstepped their remit trying to limit Empyrean technology entering the battlefield. In doing so they had murdered a Federation Spec-Ops team that had inadvertently discovered the CONCORD agent and her ship whilst trying to recover evidence of the Amarian immortal soldier technology. CONCORD also knew that he knew. But there was no solid proof. Neither side had mentioned the engagement although Jacus had eluded to it. The relationship was strained between CONCORD and all the Empires since the Pike's Landing incident. Jacus was furious over the blood on CONCORD's hands, but he himself had wasted no time in ordering further study into the technology. The Caldari had obviously beaten them to it. The Federations own version had yet to leave the training facility.

A bleep indicated Admiral Toolong was on the comm. The President pressed a button and a hologram of the Admirals head appeared.

"Report Admiral"

"Yes sir. At 0735 Heydiles local time a seemingly neutral Tengu Strategic cruiser engaged a Vindicator class battleship piloted by a capsuleer aligned with the Federal Defence Union that had jumped in from the Abune startgate. The Tengu lit a cynosural field and we have 2 Wyvern, 10 Chimera and 10 Phoenix all supported by a sub-cap fleet. We're assuming they have a Leviathan within bridge range. They destroyed the Vindicator and are holding position."

"Admiral. To me that makes no sense. They have deployed a task force costing tens of billions to take out one egger's battleship. Then they hold position inside Federation territory and don't try to extract?"

"Agreed sir. There is more to this, but we don't know what. It is not an invasion nor an incursion. In fact we don't know what those squids are playing at."

"Where did the Vindicator originate from?"

"It left Nisuwa a short while before." Jacus knew then the incident at Nisuwa station and the Caldari fleet were after the same person. His suspicions confirmed.

"Thank you Admiral. Send the Villore Task Force into Old Man Star and have them set up on the Heydiles stargate. They are not to enter Heyd. They may engage if the Caladri fleet tried to move towards Federation space. Get a cyno recon into Heyd and get them set up near the Caldari fleet."

Jacus disconnected the comm link. He knew the Caldari had their own version of THANATOS now, as did the Federation. That Caldari agent must have been chasing someone, the capsuleer from Nisuwa must have been taking that target somewhere. They were heading towards Federation space. If the Caldari were so desperate to stop someone they must have information critical to the State. That meant the information was critical to the Federation.

The President went back to his datapad and typed in a coded message. It simply said "Activate Asia. Heydeiles." He hoped that they were ready for this.


"Negative on the DNA scans on all lifeboats ma'am."

The Caldari Agent reviewed the results herself.

"Also scans around the wreck site are negative too. There was a lot of plasma fire in the explosion. It is possible the bodies were vaporised or so badly burn the DNA is too corrupted."

"And we are sure none of the lifeboats escaped?"

"Yes ma'am. The regular lifeboats aren't equipped with warp drive. We've retrieved all that made it clear of the blast. The executive pods do have warp drive capability but we didn't get a signal that any of those launched expect for...." the officers voice trailed off.


"Well ma'am." the officer brought up the scanner logs "Here there appears to be a distress beacon active. This was actually only one ping and it stopped. Not enough time for a lifeboat to warp off and it was also before the real fighting started so it must have been a glitch. No crew would have abandoned ship at that point. The capsuleer wouldn't have let them, the pods would have been on lock down until the ships armour failed."

The agent pushed the man out of the way. She linked the sensor logs with the other ships in the fleet. Within two minutes the officer gasped at the model she'd built of the battlefield. The ships computer would have taken hours to do the same thing and only if someone had helped it.

"A pod did launch. The emergency beacon was active for one cycle and then someone disabled it. It was an exec pod and it warped off. We'll have triangulation in a few hours. I'll be on my Tengu. As soon as the triangulation program has finished, send me the destination."

With that the agent left the bridge of the super-carrier.


Kara walked along the walkway looking down at the robots tending the conveyors loaded with crates and moving the goods into various cargo bays.

"These customs offices are completely automated." Dorn said "Goods are shot up here from the launch facility on the planet and then collected by the capsuleers."

"So where are we going?"

Dorn pointed to a door at the end of the walk way.

"As well as launching goods up here, they also fire them back down to the surface. We're going to hitch a ride planetside."

Kara gulped at the term "fire them back down".


The Tengu strategic cruiser had briefly docked with the the customs office and had pulled back from the structure and engaged its cloaking device. The crew were completely unaware that a second strategic cruiser was also cloaked off the office and had been watching them. Whilst it took the Caldari several hours to triangulate the trajectory the escape pod had taken. The Gallente didn't need to do that. As the space was theirs the customs office was linked to their computer systems and had detected the escape pod docking and the unscheduled launch of the drop-craft.

A surface lander probe had been launched from the Proteus which had then cloaked up a good 10 minutes before the Caldari ship had arrived.


The factory on the planets surface was mostly automated. Kara and Dorn had taken the drop-craft from the orbiting customs office down to the surface. They had then followed the transit lines and ended at a factory. Hoping to someone who might be able to help them. The automated assembly lines and robotic arms weren't what Dorn had hoped for.

"Damn eggers! Why cannot they employ some good old fashioned humans to work for them." Dorn complained.

"Like her?" Kara pointed to a woman walking towards them.

Dorn's hand went towards his gun but he didn't draw. He studied the approaching woman who didn't seem to be in a hurry. Even from this distance she looked stunning. She was Gallente with jet black hair and an olive complexion  She was wearing some sort of black one-piece with lace panels that hugged her curves and shimmered as she moved. Her movements were fluid, graceful. Even the way she walked was erotic. She looked more like she belonged in a nightclub than a factory. Dorn shook the lustful images from his head realising that was the point of her dress, to distract him, to put him off guard. This was no normal person coming towards them but she certainly didn't match the description of the Caldari assassin Lola have given to him as she lay dying. The only thing Dorn knew for sure was she was very out of place in this factory. But what did didn't know was whether she was their salvation, or their doom.

She stopped ten feet from them in an easy and relaxed way. Dorn was still ready to draw, but she looked so non-threatening it made him uneasy.

"You can call me Asia." she said sweetly. "I am with the Federation. I was told that the State was pursuing someone and was trying to stop them reaching the Federation. I am here to help."

"How do we know you're not working for the State?" Dorn asked suspiciously his hand hovering over his gun in its holster.

The woman in front of him smiled.

"Because the Caldari agent that is trying to kill you is behind you."

Dorn spun around and drew his weapon at the same time. The blonde woman who was a good way behind him dived behind a robotic arm and vanished as he fired. The dark haired woman placed a hand on his shoulder. Dorn jumped as he neither heard or sensed her approach him.

"Here take this locator. There is a shuttle waiting for you. Return to my ship in orbit. They'll see you safely through to the Federation. I'll take care of the Caldari."

She handed Dorn a small device and stepped in front of him. Dorn backed off with Kara towards to exit from which the Asia had originally appeared from.

Dorn glanced back as the brunette started walking down the assembly line to where the Caldari agent had vanished.


Link to Jonny Pew's YouTube page