Friday, February 28, 2014

Homsar Delgana and the Dogs of Sirius-09

Homsar soon found himself shot down within the enormous battle station's superstructure. He emerged from the wreck of his boat clad in his powered armor, space axe clipped to one leg, and semi-portable blaster in his armored hands. A platoon of Sirians descended upon him, and Homsar--his rage evident on his face--fried them all in seconds. Klaxons sounded, alerting the station's personnel to Homsar's presence, but he didn't care; he wanted them to come, because he would bring righteous death to all of them as he made his way to the station's power plant and blow up the station.

The Master knew this, so he filled the station's personnel with all of the problem-cases in his organization, making their deaths superfluous to him and therefore expected- even desired. The fighting went non-stop throughout the station, with scores, then hundreds, and then thousands of Sirian marines dying at Homsar's hands. Once Homsar consumed all of the power for his blaster, he appropriated those of his foes. When those went dry, he drew his axe and killed man-to-man until he got more blasters. The opposition shuddered in horror, trying to stop this unstoppable juggernaut, but still they attacked in wave after wave and they died just as fast.

Outside, the Patrol Fleet hurried to reorganize but The Master's forces kept harrying them to delay as long as possible. Hit-and-fade attacks forced the Patrol to maintain a state of readiness that consumed their energies. Admiral Campbell saw through it straight away, but sighed as he saw himself unable to fix the trouble. He had his hands full keeping his fleet organized and disciplined in the face of such adversity from a competent and experienced foe.

Captain Simms and General Zuzu, however, were not idle. They gathered up a collection of crew and marines from broken ships and shattered units, took up a cruiser lacking a captain, and--with the Admiral's leave--slipped away from during the next attack. Informally dubbed Kinneson's Revenge, this rag-tag group of Patrolmen followed in pursuit of Homsar's captors along the last known trajectory. Simms had the engineers working on some sort of thing to screen them from sensors because otherwise the station would blow up this ship as easily as it did the Kinneson. Zuzu drilled the marines hard, knowing that he had little time to get them working cohesively as a unit before combat would force them to adhere or die.

From the bridge of his flagship, The Master simultaneously watched Homsar hack and blast his way through the station meant to be nothing more than a big trap for a powerful enemy while the Patrol sent ahead a single ship to come to said enemy's aid- before it disappeared from all of The Master's sensors, including his own powerful innate superhuman sense of perception. "Expected." The Master thought, "Accounted for, adjusting parameters to conform." and within the station the living Sirians now increased in number and ferocity in their attempts to bring Homsar down while the boat docks on the outside of the station's superstructure adjusted its attack boats' sensor suites to account for the presence of cloaked vessels.

However, the worst of the weapons arrayed against Homsar, his allies, and the Patrol in general remained the most passive one: a thought screen tuned to the range of frequencies known to be commonplace amongst the Patrol. This is what kept Homsar isolated from his allies and friends, and thus out of the loop on what they were up to outside the station. They could not inform Homsar about what the nature of the station really was, and instead could only hope to get to him before the trap closed on him utterly.

Homsar, as he approached the station's power plant, made quick work of the engineers and guards protecting it. He scanned the controls, quickly sussed which did what, and moved to set it to overload and destroy the station. As he threw open the last switch, bulkheads dropped into place and ship-level screens went up around the room. Then, in a moment of recognition, Homsar realized that he'd been played- and trapped in a room with a power plant now set to blow up, taking him with it, but--due to the screens and bulkheads--confining the damage to this one room. At this point, he also realized that a second power plant must exist, hidden from his own sense of perception.

The approach of Kinneson's Revenge soon saw that they too were not unexpected, as the station released its attack boats--drones, one and all--to swarm and destroy the Patrol cruiser. Simms called for battle stations, and all hands swiftly ran to their stations. The cruiser demonstrated a level of maneuverability heretofore unexpected by the drones, its primary and secondary batteries effectively engaging the attack boats while its defensive screens held up against their combined bombardment.

The Master watched as his enemies strove to defeat with passion what his logic arrayed against them. Only what he didn't know that he didn't know could stop him now, and The Master knew that; it's why he kept his personal fleet in reserve after withdrawing from battle. That said, even he did not notice that Admiral Campbell not only reorganized the Patrol Fleet, but successfully cloaked the entire fleet and got them underway- and left illusory images of the fleet in disarray behind. This would soon be dispelled as a ruse, but not soon enough to have its intended effect.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Homsar Delgana and the Dogs of Sirius-08

The Master watched the progress of both the Kinneson and the main Patrol Fleet on a viewscreen. He watched his own forces engage them, and other Patrol elements in the Sirius region, and noted the results of these engagements. On another viewscreen, he watch a stream of data regarding a device of great importance to him. He compared the two screens, adjusting an Estimated Time of Arrival on the fly as he did so. He did this for a few hours, and when he noticed both the main Patrol Fleet and the Kinneson cross a threshold on the map he glanced at the ETA and then brought up the ship captain on a third screen.

"Captain, this ship will take the advance position in the fleet formation. This fleet will now move to combat-ready status."

The captain saluted and the screen winked out. Klaxons went off, and faintly the Master heard the sounds of personnel rushing to duty stations. The third viewscreen returned to life with readouts of the fleet's formation and status updates. The Master said and did nothing as all ships in the fleet achieved ready status in a satisfactory manner.

The captain appeared on the screen again. "The fleet is ready and awaiting orders, sir."

"I will speak with all commands, captain." The Master said, and moments later he saw all of the commanders directly under him.

"The plan proceeds as expected. All variables are within projected parameters. This means that both the main Patrol Fleet and the Agent are due to arrive shortly, before the device is fully operational. We must hold the Patrol Fleet for no less than 30 minutes after their arrival, and we shall press them with utmost severity, compelling the Agent to arrive at best speed, but it is vitally important to keep them apart. We must hold the space that separates the two elements until the device is operational."

His subordinates nodded their understanding. They knew better than to question The Master.

"All ships will form up behind my flagship. I will personally lead the assault on the Patrol Fleet!"

His subordinates gasped.

"I will be armed and armored for personal combat. Do likewise. Expect boarding actions. Await orders. That is all."

The Master donned a suit of powered armor, and took up an axe. His suit possessed the ability to connect into his information systems, so he easily kept up his monitoring of the situation and then he inspected the various duty stations of his flagship during the time-to-contact interim. This put his crew into a state of heightened readiness, as they knew what became of crew that failed, but also a sense of admiration; unlike many Algolians, The Master's reputation--while bloody--was not one where one could die for arbitrary reasons (at least, if one were personnel and not extraneous courtiers) so it was seen as something of a good thing to be under his command.

When he took his place on the bridge, the Patrol Fleet came into contact and he ordered the fleet to battle.

"Spread out on all wings. Seek to half-englobe them."

Admiral Campbell, not a fool, reorganized the Patrol Fleet into a spindle formation in response and rushed the center point. The artillery fire began at maximum range for the primary batteries. The rays of searing light flashed across the sea of stars, and the screens protecting their vessels lit up as the frequencies of the beams dissonantly crossed those of the screens.

"Sir." the captain said, "We've identified the enemy flagship."

"Transmit target data to all commands. Focus all fire there and decapitate them."

The Patrol Fleet were no fools, as their fire also began to walk across the Algolian Fleet towards The Master's flagship.

"Captain, aggregate fleet screen management to this ship and activate the capacitors. Prepare for the Dolorus Stroke."

The captain saluted and executed the order. Across the Algolian Fleet, the screens of the vessels changed their frequency and modulation. The fire of the Patrol Fleet still hadn't beaten down any ship's screens, and now the close-order proximity of the Algolian Fleet revealed its strength: the power battering the screens began flowing from each vessel towards the flagship, and soon the bow of The Master's flagship began to glow like a sun in its own right. In the Patrol Fleet, Admiral Campbell recognized what was happening and immediately shifted tactics, but the Patrol Fleet's reorganization could not complete in time; The Master released the gathered power in a massive directed beam that lanced and burned through the center of the Patrol Fleet, outright destroying many ships and crippling many more- including Campbell's flagship.

"Forward elements are to contain the enemy while in disarray. Release marines and board the crippled vessels. Rear elements are to reorient to the rear and prepare to meet the Agent."

As Admiral Campbell and his staff hurried to abandoned the crippled flagship and move command to another vessel, the Kinneson arrived at the rear and charged into the fray with all batteries blasting away. In its wake, Homsar's own boat left the Kinneson and attempted to hide in its wake so as to slip into the Algolian Fleet and cause havoc that way, but both attempted got beaten back with punishing counter-battery fire and a firm screen of boats screening the ships.

The Master smiled as his plan reached its point of conclusion. The device's time of preparation concluded. With a gesture, he ordered to be put on open channels.

"Fools! You come now thinking yourselves able to foresee my aims and defeat my plans? No! It is I, The Master, who has brought you here to this space at this time, lured by phantoms of a weapon so terrible that none may defeat it! BEHOLD, FOOLS, THIS FULLY ARMED AND OPERATIONAL BATTLE STATION!"

Behind the Kinneson a planet-sized and shaped machine appeared. Out of its maw fired a massive beam, and instantly the Kinneson exploded in a fireball.

"Fully capable of trans-galactic travel! Easily able to annihilate entire systems in days! Can screen itself from detection of all sorts, and extend it outward for lightyears around! ALL SHALL KNEEL BEFORE THE MASTER!"

Without hesitation, Homsar turned his boat around and charged into the battle station. He easily dodged the battery fire attempting to shoot him down, and soon he closed with it. Admiral Campbell, now aboard another vessel, saw this happen as he arrived on the bridge to establish his command there, and he heard The Master's maniacal boasts- and worried. When he heard that Homsar turned to attack, he glimpsed the truth in a flash and tried to reach out to him telepathically- but, again, silence.

"Damn him!" Campbell said, "The interference! I can't reach Homsar!"

"But why?" the captain said.

"It's a trap! This whole operation is a trap- for him!"

Just as Homsar blasted open a hatch in the station's hull and flew into its superstructure, a bulkhead closed behind him and the familiar shift of going free washed over him. The Patrol Fleet, in astonishment, saw the massive station suddenly wink out and disappear into distant space. Unable to pursue, and blocked by The Master's own fleet, they held position.

"Withdraw." The Master said, "We're done here, and the enemy cannot interfere any longer."

The surviving Patrol vessels rescued their injured and recovered their damaged vessels, but still couldn't shake off the shock of seeing their best man captured and his friends slain- until, hours later, rescue crewed found Captain Simms and General Zuzu in escape pods, along with a few others.

"Reporting, Admiral."

"Acknowledged, men." Campbell said, "However bad today is, your survival will likely be what wins us the day in the end. Even Homsar thinks both of you are dead, and will proceed accordingly; he won't expect you two like he usually does. If we can catch up to that thing, and get you two in with as many men as we can spare, we can win this."

They nodded. "For now," Campbell said, "I'm putting your survival under seal; the fewer that know, the better."

Friday, February 14, 2014

Homsar Delgana and the Dogs of Sirius-07

Klaxons rang throughout the Patrol Fleet upon the detection of the massive Algolian Fleet closing in on them. Admiral Campbell immediately comprehended the nature of the threat and reorganized the Fleet into a spindle formation, sensing the enemy's weak spot and pushing for it. Long-range bombardment put a wedge at that flaw, and then short range bombardment took that wedge and forced open a whole. The Algolians reacted by letting the Patrol Fleet break through and regrouped at its rear, then advancing upon it from there to re-engage. This threatened to degenerated into a ring-shaped battle of attrition, but Admiral Campbell saw this coming.

Campbell organized the Fleet to mask itself, appearing smaller and smaller as it withdrew by having smaller ships run alongside the bigger ones so that electronic detection would produce erroneous results and visual ones would give false confirmation by being out of line of sight. The Algolians, thinking that they did serious damage, fell prey to their base instincts and charge headlong at the Patrol Fleet. The Fleet reformed its long line into a curved shape, and drew the Algolian fleet into a trap by masking a deliberate movement to withdraw in the middle for a weak point in their line. The Fleet then executed a double-envelopment with the wings, which spread in all dimensions to englobe the Algolians. The smaller ships emerged from their hiding spots and rushed into the voids in the fire between the fleets. Marines aboard those ships boarded enemy ships and threw the Algolians into disarray, as those enemies did not expect a wave of boarding attacks.

The Algolians responded by firing upon their own vessels, killing everyone and destroying all targets. When Campbell took note of this response, he had the boarding ships pull back, covering their withdrawl with massed volleys of missiles. Some of those missiles got through the massive wall of counter-battery fire, striking at the damaged Algolian vessels already in contact with the Patrol and disabling them. Campbell saw the void in in Algolian fire and ordered the boarders to re-engage along that line of attack, this time sticking close to enemy vessels as their new targets were the command vessels in the Algolian fleet. While few of the marines deployed met those stated aims, the disarray caused by the boarding actions so disrupted Algolian efforts to maintain cohesion that the Patrol Fleet had an easy time in further blunting the Algolian fleet's fighting capacity; Campbell ordered a shift towards crippling and disabling over destroying, the results being that a buffer of nigh-helpless enemy vessels soon manifested between the belligerents.

Once more, the Patrol Fleet sought to withdraw from battle. Their superior command and control, along with superior discipline, could only go so far. If this went on, the fatigue would begin to favor the Algolians and their superior numbers. Already, the Algolian fleet reorganized to take advantage of the fact; Campbell's staff told him how long they had before they could expect a new Algolian attack, the first of a series of tag-team maneuvers meant to wear down the Patrol Fleet. Admiral Campbell would not have it.

He played a hunch, and leaked that the Kinneson was behind the Algolian fleet cutting off supplies and tearing up their rear area with impunity. A faked distress call, and then another, and then another- all calling for aid. Campbell hoped not that they would cut and run to respond, but rather that it would throw their command into sufficient disarray to make them unable to respond effectively to the Patrol's withdraw.

This is what happened. The subordinates in the Algolian fleet got to questioning their orders, which lead to the usual internal discipline issues--summary execution for insubordination, and ambitious underlings using those opportunities to take promotions from their superiors' corpses--and that chaos disrupted operations for some time. In that chaos, the Patrol Fleet disengaged and withdrew from battle entirely. Once away, they went free and threw open the throttles on their jets, getting very far from them very fast.

At this moment, Campbell attempted to contact Homsar telepathically, but got no reply.

Meanwhile, The Master saw the results of the engagement, and made no indication of approval or dismay. All he did was order the fleet to pursue, and not too close.

"The Patrol cannot comprehend what I have waiting for them." he said, "Once unleashed, total victory is inevitable."

Friday, February 7, 2014

Homsar Delgana and the Dogs of Sirius-06

"You called it, Homsar." Captain Simms said as he watched the Dragonsworn ships close in on the Kinneson.

"They're standing between us and the Fleet." Homsar said, "Their boss is very, very good."

"One on twenty. Not be good, man." General Zuzu said.

Simms looked at Homsar, Homsar looked at Zuzu, and then Zuzu nodded.

"Battle stations." Simms said, and then Zuzu took up the comlink. "Marines, get ready to board!"

Klaxons sounded, rustling resting crewmen to their stations while Zuzu's marines clamored for the armory. As fire teams, gunnery crews, medical teams, and marines rushed about Homsar and Zuzu hurried to join the marines in the armory. Simms called out to Fire Control to track the hostiles and plot out their trajectories, because he knew what Homsar had in mind.

The Dragonsworn ships launched auxiliaries--assault craft, missile boats--and the Kinneson now found itself in a target-rich environment. Simms loved these situations, and the Kinneson excelled in dealing with them. The gunners, coordinated through Fire Control, took aim at the enemy's array of vessels and on Simms command they opened fire. The Dragonsworn fells launched their missiles in one massive volley, all of which got shot down by the counter-volley fire from the Kinneson. The gunners, taking their orders from Fire Control, did not miss one inbound warhead and fired for effect to maximize their effectiveness. The sea of stars lit up with moments of explosive glory, flashes of powerful warheads that would vaporize what it hit, lanced by coruscating beams of matching power and intensity as the Kinneson maneuvered out of the line of fire and into a better position to counter-attack.

However, behind that volley came the Dragonsworn assault craft and they came inbound looking to ram and board. Again the batteries of ordinance aboard the Kinneson lit up the eternal night of space. Fire Control coordinated the gunners' aim, sending their flashes of brilliant death lancing right through the cores of those assault craft, outright blowing them away in a single shot- and sometimes more than one craft in a single blow. Some of them discharged their marines before being blown away, going free and jetting at speed for the Kinneson, to which General Zuzu and the Darkspears took their challenge and met it with semi-portable blaster fire coming from their positions on the hull- held in place by electro-magnets in their boots.

Naval ordinance and personal weaponry lit up space about them, and the surviving Dragonsworn marines cut their way through to make contact and engage in close-combat. General Zuzu, with a space axe in each hand, leapt about from unit to unit to cackling with glee as he charged one Dragonsworn after the next. He cut them down, hacked them into pieces, sliced off heads and limbs, and took great joy in bringing the pain to them. Not that his men were any less a warrior, but they had their hands full and that left Zuzu to do this work so his men could do theirs- and in short order the enemy's attempt to board the Kinneson collapsed.

The Dragonsworn, seeing their initial attack fail, moved in with their capital ships and bombarded the Kinneson. Captain Simms kept the con and Fire Control busy as he sought to force a brawl, but the Dragonsworn kept good discipline and did not permit Simms' plan to proceed. The screens on the Kinneson exploded as they resisted the enemy's bombardment, but they held- for now.

"Simms," Homsar said, "I'm in my boat. Ready to go when you are."

"Go." Simms said.

Homsar exited the Kinneson, and made as if he attempted to breakthrough to flee. The Dragonsworn ships made a half-hearted attempted to stop him, and that's when Homsar turned and pounced on them. Being just as manueverable, and just as fast, as the Kinneson while being much smaller made their gunners' shots at him miss well off the mark. Homsar darted in and out of their formation, using his position to his advantage and forcing them to turn their attention to him. This meant that the Kinneson could get a clear shot, and one good volley would take that ship out of the fight. This happened a few more times, and that created holes in the enemy formation. Unable to reorganize in good order fast enough, the Dragonsworn ships soon fell into disarray and the formation fell apart.

"I've discerned their flagship." Homsar said telepathically to Simms and Zuzu, "Let's clear out the rest and then board them."

Despite being outnumbered, the two Patrol vessels overcame the Dragonsworn and soon indeed the flagship was isolated. It attempted to flee, but first Homsar and then Zuzu rammed it, breached it, and boarded it. The remaining crew and security personnel fought like the cornered rats that they were, but Homsar and Zuzu combined made it inevitable that they would seize the bridge. When they breached that door, they found the bridge crew dead- shot by the captain, who was about to shoot himself in the head. Homsar sliced off that hand with his axe in a swift leaping strike, and then took him out with the flat on the backstroke. Zuzu and his men took him back to the Kinneson, and once all Patrol personnel were gone they scuttled all of the now-helpless vessels by bombardment.

Back aboard the Kinneson, with a well-screened cell holding their prisoner, Homsar nodded at Simms. Simms ordered for an intercept course with the Fleet.

"Homsar to Fleet." Homsar said telepathically, "We've reason to believe that the enemy's drawing you into a trap. Don't let them bait you into a head-long pursuit. We're coming to meet with you."

There was no reply. Elsewhere, The Master--seeing the results go as planned--cackled. He pressed a button, and elsewhere in space a massive fleet of Algolian minions appeared out of nowhere to meet the Patrol Fleet.