Macavity116

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Why is the Queen Karan referred to as the Queen Kendra when they’re discussing who is on what ship?

Also, I have this weird feeling that the Shroud-Beings being not technically dead is going to affect things…

That's a mistake on my part. The names "Karan" and "Kendra" get used a lot in Chapter 5.4 (The name 'Karan' is used on both a ship and a character) and I get them mixed up occasionally. I'll have to go back and fix that.

Edit: Found and fixed the Forums version. I'm heading over to Archive of Our Own to fix the other verison now. (Done)


The Shroud-Beings are not dead, that's true, but the Shroud-Beings are permanently incapacitated. Kendra, Tantomile, and Eteka are on their own.
 
Last edited:
Chapter 5.4: Clash of the Titans

Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
17 Badges
Mar 1, 2018
1.116
395
archiveofourown.org
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Stellaris: Federations
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Stellaris: Lithoids
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition

Chapter 5.4
Clash of the Titans

December 21, 1928 A.D.
HMS Queen Miranda, Low Orbit above Aoraki, Hakihea Star System, Kingdom of Partoga


There’s something both beautiful and terrifying about the sight of nearly seven hundred warships emerging from Hyperspace. Perhaps this was because of Aoraki’s unique location within the Galaxy. If one were to fly above the North Pole of this dark Tomb World and look down, the planet would appear to be lost in an endless sea of blackness. All of known creation lay above it, so when the ships of Task Force Kraahkan were forcefully pulled out of Hyperspace, it looked as though a small cluster of stars had suddenly been born just above Aoraki’s atmosphere.

Launching hundreds more strike craft from her hangar bays, the HMS Queen Miranda took her position at the center of the formation, while veritable clouds of fighters, Corvettes, and Frigates swirled around her. A wall of Super-Capital ships made up the vanguard of the fleet. Destroyers and Heavy Cruisers pushed forward to clear the way, while at the back of the fleet, the five remaining Planet-Killers kept a cautious distance.

At the lead of the formation, a wing of Destroyers attempted to jump back into Hyperspace. The purple Quantum Wavefront formed in front of the ships, wavered, and then collapsed onto itself. There would be no escape today.

Nearly twenty-thousand Kios away and growing closer with each second was the ambush fleet of Joint Task Force Kardas. As soon as the Planet-Killers and their escorts were forced out of Hyperspace, the ships under Queen Kendra’s command had started to close in from every conceivable direction.

The attackers had been given six hours to prepare this ambush. That was far more than enough time.

Two ships were leading the charge from opposite directions. Kendra’s flagship, the HMS Queen Karan, descended from above, dropping Frigates and Corvettes from her ventral hangar bay as she went. Completing the other half of the pincer movement, the LVK Demeter rose from below, emerging from the darkness at the head of several hundred ships of varying size, type, and origin. The mixed force of mercenary, pirate, and Levakian ships rose up to strike the enemy from below.

On the Queen Karan’s bridge, Kendra, Eteka, Nya, Toa Kopaki, Amaya, Rhassa, Sebakhira, Coricopat, Ango, Whetu, and Hakara all stood together on the Dias and watched as the Planet-Killers grew bigger and bigger on the viewscreen.

“Raharuhi… I want to talk to them.” Kendra prompted.

Toa Kopaki stepped over to one of the many computer workstations that surrounded the Dias.

“Gonna be troublesome.” She said. “Kraahkan’s ships are using the same communication frequencies as us. They’re trying to talk to each other right now, just like our ships are doing. Comms are jammed on both sides. It’s not intentional.”

“I don’t give a damn about jamming!” Kendra said. “I want every man and woman of Task Force Kraahkan to hear my voice! Make it happen, right now!”

Toa Kopaki and several other Hyperwave technicians scrambled to find a way to overpower the near constant white noise generated by over 1,700 ships on all sides trying to talk to one another. About a minute after they’d started working, Tantomile’s voice sounded over the radio:

Demeter calling Queen Karan! We’re just below the Planet-Killers! Ten minutes until weapons range! I don’t think they know we’re here, though. The enemy is target-locking you and you alone.”

“Keep it that way.” Kendra replied. “Don’t attack until my ships open fire.”

Toa Kopaki flashed Kendra the thumbs-up sign.

“You’re live with Task Force Kraahkan, your Majesty!”

Kendra projected her voice across the entire bridge, the better to make sure that everybody in the approaching enemy fleet could hear her:

“Attention ships of Task Force Kraahkan!” Kendra said loudly. “This is the voice of your Queen! Your mission was triggered without my consent! I am ordering you to abort mission and return to base, right now! Turn back at once or you will be fired upon! I am Queen Kendra Ingraham and I am ordering the crews of the HMS Mohtrek, Felnas, Avsa, Jutlin, and Shelek to return to Shipyard Nynrah immediately! Any ship that fails to comply will be fired upon!”

At Kendra’s command, Hakara stepped up to the microphone and added his voice to the chorus. At the Queen’s request, he would once more impersonate the commander of the Partogan Royal Navy:

“This is Vice Admiral Maui Patariki!” Hakara barked. “You are surrounded, outnumbered, and outgunned. One way or another, your mission will end today. I have been authorized to use lethal force against any ship that does not turn back now. Return to Shipyard Nynrah or surrender to our fleet at once. We will not hesitate to use force! Turn back now!”

A loud noise caught Kendra’s attention and she looked away from the Hyperwave transmitter. A wave of panic swept through her when she saw that the old lioness Sebakhira had collapsed to the floor and was shaking violently.

“Someone get a medic!” Eteka yelled.

He jumped down from the Dias and ran to the spot where Sebakhira had fallen, but before he could touch her, Rhassa snapped:

“Wait! Don’t touch her! Look at her Amplifier!”

The strange device strapped to Sebakhira’s forearm was activated, and two little lights alternated back and forth between green and purple. Sebakhira blinked slowly three times, then she stopped shaking. Everyone stared at her for a minute before Tantomile’s voice sounded over the radio again:

“Really, Sebakhira? You had a vision right before the battle!? Your sense of timing is terrible!”

“A vision?” Whetu repeated cautiously, “What did you see?”

Sebakhira looked up at Whetu, Kendra, Nya, and the several others who had gathered around her.

“I’m not sure.” The old lioness panted. “None of it made any sense.”

While a medic asked Sebakhira if she was alright, a disturbance drew Kendra’s attention back to the front of the bridge, where something very strange was playing out on both the viewscreen and the sensors manager.

“I think…” Ango said slowly. “I think you got through to someone, Your Majesty.”

He was right.

Task Force Kraahkan appeared to be breaking up, or at the very least, it was beginning to fracture. Several dozen frigates and a couple of Super-Capital ships had abandoned the formation and were flying away. The sensors manager told Kendra that these ships were heading towards a Hyperlane that would take them deeper into Partogan territory… and Shipyard Nynrah. Meanwhile, nearly a hundred ships of all types had fallen out of formation and appeared to be adrift, their engines powered down. One of the Planet-Killers, the Avsa, had also fallen out of formation and was slowly being left behind by the rest of Task Force Kraahkan.

“I’m picking up a lot of confused chatter on the radio.” Toa Kopaki reported. “Looks like a lot of people in Task Force Kraahkan took you at your word, Your Majesty. We think somewhere between 200 and 250 mutinies are in progress aboard enemy ships right now, including the Planet-Killers Avsa and Mohtrek. About half of Kraahkan’s ships just switched their transponders to squawk either the ‘Hijack’ or ‘Intruder-on-the-Bridge’ code. I’m also picking up gunfights in or around the bridge of over a hundred ships! It’s chaos over there!”

“All JTF Kardas ships!” Kendra said. “Hold your positions, but continue to target-lock the Planet-Killers. Tantomile, how are the Hyperspace Inhibitors?”

“Inhibitors online and running!” Tantomile called back from the Demeter. “The enemy is still trapped here!”

As Kendra watched the sensors manager and glanced up at the viewscreen from time to time, ships began to fall out of Task Force Kraahkan in droves. Corvettes, Frigates, Destroyers, and even a lone Heavy Cruiser fell out of line, turned around, and began travelling back the way they’d come.

The biggest shock came when a bright light suddenly ran up and down the length of the Avsa’s Wrath Cannon. Kendra actually bit her nails with nervousness while she waited for confirmation… until Toa Kopaki tore her headset off and jump up from her seat at the Hyperwave transmitter.

“One down!” Toa Kopaki announced to the bridge! “The Avsa’s crew just destroyed their own Wrath Cannon and are signaling surrender on all channels!”

The Queen joined in as fifty Partogans and a handful of Levakians all began to cheer and shout in celebration! But there was another stroke of good luck! Mere minutes later, another wave of ships deserted Task Force Kraahkan, and included amongst them…

“There goes the Shelek!” Eteka yelled and pointed to the viewscreen as another Planet-Killer disengaged from the standoff and began fleeing towards Partogan space.

Kendra ordered a pair of her own Heavy Cruisers to break formation and shadow the Shelek. If the Planet-Killer tried to double back and run the blockade, it would be torn to ribbons. Meanwhile, the wave of defectors from the enemy fleet appeared to be receding. Fewer and fewer ships were dropping out of line or going idle, and the ships that were adrift had started to either break formation or fall back into line. Toa Kopaki had the explanation for that:

“Task Force Kraahkan’s Mothership, the Queen Miranda, is now reporting a mutiny and intruders on her bridge.” She reported.

“Forget about the Queen Miranda.” Said Whetu. “We need to focus on the Mohtrek. Mira’s on board that one!”

“Forget about that, focus on all of them!” Amaya interjected, pointing at the viewscreen. “The enemy fleet is moving!”

As soon as the Queen Miranda had fired up her engines, the remaining ships of Task Force Kraahkan had followed suit. Kendra felt her heart drop into her stomach. This was going to be a real fight after all.

“E-enemy strength?” the Queen asked.

“Looks like they’re down to about five hundred ships.” Ango answered.

“So they’re outnumbered two-to-one?” Sebakhira asked. “Good. Tantomile says she likes those odds.”

“The Queen Miranda is changing course!” Ango reported. “They’re coming right at us! Collision course!”


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Caption said:
The Queen Miranda (Left) and the Queen Karan (right) maneuver around each other.

“All Back Emergency!” Kendra shouted. “Hard to Port!”

The Queen Karan’s helmsman spun the digital wheel with his fingers until the Reaction Control System was set to “Port Hardover.” The Mothership’s primary engines disengaged while little thrusters all over the hull desperately started trying to push the colossal spacecraft in the opposite direction it was already flying!

In the viewscreen, the Queen Miranda was getting bigger and bigger, as were her escort ships.

“Distance!?” Kendra yelled at her ship’s tactical officer.

“Five thousand Kios!” The tactical officer replied. “They’re polarizing armor and charging main weapons! They’re getting ready to fight!”

Kendra took a deep breath. She thanked the Mountain that her own ships had polarized their armor and charged weapons over an hour ago.

“This is it!” Kendra said. “Helmsman, when I give the order, go hard to Starboard and set the engines to All Ahead Flank. Toa Kopaki, put me on with our own fleet.”

All Toa Kopaki had to do was flip a few switches on the comms terminal. Meanwhile, the tactical officer gave an update:

“Four thousand Kios!”

“Joint Task Force Kardas!” Kendra addressed the fleet. “We are here to save billions of Levakian lives today. Nothing else matters. Your highest priority is to disable or destroy the three remaining Planet-Killers. All other concerns are secondary.”

“Your Majesty!” The tactical officer yelled, “Twenty-five hundred Kios! They’re in weapons range!”

Kendra filled her lungs with air and shouted at the top of her voice!

“ALL SHIPS! FIRE AT WILL!”

The bridge shuddered as all five of the Queen Karan’s Mass Drivers opened fire! All around her, the rest of the fleet began spitting fire down onto the Planet-Killers and their escorts! In front of Kendra, the viewscreen filled with brilliant light! Missiles, Mass Driver rounds, Ion Cannons all erupted between the two fleets! A storm of deadly projectiles descended onto the ships of Task Force Kraahkan before a second volley rose up from below! A web of brilliant red beams sparked into existence as Tantomile’s strike wing of Ion Array Frigates de-cloaked and opened fire! A wall of metal and charged particles slammed into the face of the Queen Miranda but her approach did not stop! The enemy Mothership continued its unrelenting flight towards the nerve center of Kendra’s fleet!

“She’s gonna hit us!” Ango yelled!

“Hard’a Starboard!” Kendra screamed, “Engines Ahead Flank!”

Everyone on the bridge lurched forward violently as the Mothership began to execute the second hairpin turn in as many minutes! The Queen Karan’s nose dipped as she began to bank around the center of the stellar battlefield, accelerating down and away from the approaching enemy Mothership! Right as it seemed the two ships would clear one another and fly parallel to each other, the Queen Karan’s Captain yelled:

“Brace for impact!”

The two Motherships slammed into one another with incredible force! It was a glancing blow, but nonetheless catastrophic! Smoke and flame filled the bridge at once while sparks rained down from the ceiling! Kendra grabbed Eteka by the back of his shirt to stop him flying forward, but several others weren’t so lucky. Two Partogan bridge officers were catapulted out of their seats by the violent impact and crashed into the wall next to the viewscreen, cracking their bones and splattering blood everywhere! Above their heads, a loud metallic groan could be heard as a bulkhead somewhere collapsed.

“Good thing the bridge is embedded so deep within the ship!” Sebakhira tapped her head as she spoke. “Tantomile says she feels really exposed up on the Demeter’s bridge now.”

As the Queen Karan’s bridge crew started to recover from the impact, Kendra, Eteka, Ango, Sebakhira, and Toa Kopaki consulted the sensors manager and the viewscreen. The Queen Miranda had struck a glancing blow against the Queen Karan and the two motherships were now flying in the same direction through the battlefield. The enemy spaceship was directly above Kendra’s ship. Only about 200 Bios of empty space was all that separated the two Motherships.

All around them, a confused battle was raging. Kendra saw through the viewscreen a strike wing of Ion Cannon Frigates trying to outflank the Planet-Killer Jutlin. As she watched, a formation of Vako-Class fighters emerged from a cloud of smoke and debris and began to pour fire into the Ion Cannon Frigates. Over the radio, the commander of the ICF’s yelled:

“Woah! Woah! Those fighters need to cease fire! They’re hitting friendlies! Green on green!”

The fighters backed off at once, but as soon as the ICF wing opened fire on the Jutlin, the fighters turned around and began to shoot at the Frigates again. One of the Frigates heeled over and caught fire.

Demeter!” Kendra yelled into the radio. “ICF’s on our extreme right flank are taking fire! They’re after the Jutlin!”

“I see it!” Tantomile’s voice replied. “Standby, this is gonna get messy. Send in the point defenders!”

Half a dozen Vulcan Frigates ascended into view, they seemed to emerge from a dark veil below the battle in empty space. Before any of the Vako Fighters could react, all six Frigates had spooled up their anti-fighter miniguns and were sending hundreds of thousands of rounds into space. Spewing hot metal in every direction, the fighters were shredded in moments, and those who survived fled to a nearby Carrier while the Vulcan Frigates gave chase, one of their commanders screaming into the radio:

“Gunners! Keep firing no matter what!”

Meanwhile, Kendra issued orders to all of her ships near the Jutlin.

“Set Sphere Formation! Concentrate all fire on engines and the Wrath Cannon!”

Nearly two dozen Ion Cannon Frigates converged on the Planet-Killer as a combination of blue and red Ion beams appeared and vanished again repeatedly. It looked as though the Jutlin was caught in the center of a ferocious lightning storm! Battered and smoking, the Jutlin fell out of formation and began to signal surrender.

Four Planet-Killers down, two to go.

While Marine Frigates descended onto the Jutlin, Kendra was distracted by a violent shudder running through her own ship. Looking away from the viewscreen and sensors manager, she cast her eye about the bridge and shouted:

“What the hell is going on!?”

“Someone’s shooting at us!” Ango replied, “We’re taking hits on the dorsal side!”

Frantically, Kendra scanned the sensors manager and viewscreen, trying to see where the attack was coming from. Another series of weapon’s impacts rattled the bridge, and she swayed on her feet. Eteka grabbed Kendra by the arm and held her in place while the Demeter filled the viewscreen! Ion Cannons and Kinetic Batteries delivered devastating blows to a Zivon-Class Heavy Cruiser, which turned and fled, escaping through the gap between the two Motherships.

“Tell Kendra she owes me one!” Tantomile yelled across the radio as the Demeter flew past, chasing another hostile target.

There wasn’t time to celebrate, another development happened right away.

“Your Majesty!” Ango said loudly, “Two ships have just launched from the Queen Miranda’s hangar bay! One Frigate and one Corvette-sized vessel. The Frigate is heading towards Aoraki!”

“Looks like some deserters trying to get out of the fight.” Hakara commented.

“What about the second ship?” Kendra asked.

“I’m not sure.” Ango admitted. “It’s nothing like any ship I’ve ever seen before. It’s got a strange configuration.”

Whetu pushed Ango away from the sensors manager and ordered the ship’s exterior cameras to get a better view of the strange craft.

The image of a black and white spaceplane filled the viewscreen! It was rocketing down towards the Queen Karan while ignoring the fight taking place around it. Letters in a strange language were painted on one side of the fuselage, but they were illegible due to some kind of hull damage.

“That’s the Ark Angel!” Hakara shouted. “That’s Akira!”

“All Mothership escorts, engage that alien Corvette!” Kendra yelled!

Missiles were launched by the hundreds, but the Ark Angel deployed decoys and outmaneuvered them! Ion Beams proved too inaccurate against the small gunship, Mass Drivers and Kinetic Batteries scored a few superficial hits, but failed to stop the incoming ship. Then the exterior camera reached the limit of its panning ability and the spaceplane vanished from sight!

“Target lost!” Ango reported, “Give me a second to re-acquire it!”

“We’ve got bigger problems!” Eteka yelled and pointed to the sensors manager. “The Proximity Sensor net is under attack! They’re making a run at our Gravwell Generators!”

“Reposition the Gravwells!” Kendra ordered, “Hide them behind our Super-Capital ships and find me that damn spaceplane!”

“Hey Kendra!” Tantomile’s voice sounded over the radio again. “You’re about to have company! Toa Nanui just saw the Ark Angel fly into your hangar module. I’ll keep hitting the Planet-Killers, so you give Akira a black eye for me!”

Right as Tantomile finished talking, a serene computerized voice spoke over the ship’s intercom, saying:


“Intruder alert! Hangar bay! Intruder alert! Hangar bay!”

Kendra jumped down from the Dias, ran to the back of the bridge, and threw open a weapons locker. She already had Whetu’s sword, the Soulkeeper, tied to her belt, but having an extra gun on hand was never a bad idea. She turned to face the rest of the bridge and yelled:

“Barricade everything! Drop every bulkhead door, seal every room and hallway! Arm everyone! We’ve got to stonewall her!

“Hangar bay calling bridge!” a panicked female voice said over the intercom. “There’s a Snowskin down here! She-“

But the voice was cut off by a series of loud screams, thumps, and bangs. Many more violent noises could be heard before the audio cut out. Toa Kopaki moved to another workstation and began to study a sensor readout.

“Be advised,” said Toa Kopaki. “The Queen Miranda’s core just went critical! I think they’re about to-“


y4m3WgX-1wWx10hEwzBPi03LWjoQ7AxMrqTGkfBds_R4jWt-SY0tiejmJ3Py7lmdzHkz7BV7cUlybMHkKAlNiAG15e3TxsZ_pRC_URzZJmy7O4jwdkJ6RGkFQIfT2KDbz5Xrbrr_sEC-ccF-O76m5EA1Lb9ZapPl6qnc5FDeHw7SHHzQ2OcLGzbYPl00pkVoYSHQVEh3pdHUJxajKtRlRbIbQ

Caption said:
The Queen Miranda goes to pieces as her main reactor goes through a self-induced meltdown.

A titanic blast knocked everybody off their feet! A torrential downpour of sparks and flame fell from the ceiling and threatened to ignite the bridge! Lights flickered dangerously and metal groaned and creaked in a frightening way. Nya put her hands over Kendra’s head and screamed as hot sparks and slag hit her!

“Self-destruct.” Sebakhira groaned from the floor. “Yes. We noticed that.”

Passing a Stuttermag to Eteka, Kendra tucked a Gauss Pistol into her belt before clambering back onto the Dias and wiping dirt and debris off the sensors manager controls.

“Wh-where’s Akira?” she panted.

As if in answer to her question, somebody else called the bridge.

“Infirmary calling bridge!” Someone yelled over the intercom. “We’re getting a lot of ‘medical emergency’ calls related to that intruder. They’re moving up towards your position! Intruder is armed and extremely violent!”

“She’s headed for the bridge!” Hakara said grimly. “We should barricade ourselves!”

Kendra ordered everybody onto their feet and into cover. Nearly fifty armed Partogans covered the one and only doorway leading onto the bridge with a wide variety of weapons: Pistols, Rifles, Submachine Guns, and fully automatic weapons. While everybody went for cover, someone forgot to shut off the comms array, so Tantomile’s voice could be heard the whole time:

“There’s the Mohtrek! All Missile Destroyers, standby to fire a salvo on my mark!”

“But your Highness!” A Levakian ship captain protested. “That’s at extreme range! The odds of us hitting a mark so far away-“

“Don’t matter to me!” Tantomile cut him off. “Fire on my command! Ready… NOW! Light ‘em up!”

From her hiding place near the helm, Kendra could see the sensors manager light up as the Planet-Killer Mohtrek exploded! Cheers lit up the radio waves as Whetu said:

“Oh, by the Mountain, I think Tantomile just killed Mira. She was supposed to be on the Mohtrek, right?”

“I think so.” Hakara confirmed.

“That shot should have been impossible!” a ship captain yelled over the radio. “What were the odds we’d hit that!?”

“Exactly what I wanted them to be.” Tantomile replied confidently. “Now fall back into formation, it’s just the Felnas left now.”

A loud boom sounded from the deck below Kendra’s feet, distracting her from the radio communications. The vibrations of some violent action rippled up into the bridge.

“Akira’s forcing her way up here.” Hakara breathed. “She’s using her Gift to force all of the doorways.”

“Whetu, you have any advice on how to fight her?” Kendra hissed. “Whetu?”

She looked around. Whetu had simply vanished.

“What the hell!?” Kendra’s voice was rising. “Where is she!?”

“Trust me! She’ll turn up!” Hakara replied.

Another loud boom.

“She’s on this deck!” Eteka announced. “She’s coming for the bridge!”

“This is it!” Kendra yelled to everyone on the bridge. “Turn your safeties off!”

Eteka, Nya, Amaya, Toa Kopaki, Ango, and Hakara all readied their Gauss Weapons.

Rhassa, Sebakhira, and Coricopat shouldered their Slugthrower Rifles.

All around the bridge, some fifty Partogans took aim at the heavy, reinforced blast door. Out in the hallway, shouts and gunfire could be heard getting closer and closer until…


A dull metal groan, followed by a menacing creak.

“She’s forcing the door.” Hakara whispered. “Everyone get ready!”

“Forcing the door” was an understatement.

The blast door exploded off its hinges and flew into the bridge! The Dias, sensors manager, and weapons control station were all crushed beneath the pulverized metal! Hakara raised his hands to protect himself, but he was still hit by flying debris and knocked out cold! Dense smoke filled the bridge from the hallway entrance, as a lone figure was illuminated from behind.

Kendra saw the person in the doorway was a Snowskin female. She looked about one or two years older than the Queen. Her hair was straight and black, coming down to just her shoulders and done up in a simple bob style. Every article of clothing she wore was white: shirt, pants, hairband and shoes. Both of her hands were encased in a pair of technologically sophisticated gauntlets that hummed and crackled with Psionic energy. The most incredible feature about this Snowskin, though, was her eyes… they were as blue as the ocean. There seemed to be some kind of indescribable power behind them.

So this was Akira… the Paradox.

Akira clenched her fists and her Celestial Gauntlets activated. A pair of shimmering purple blades extended out of the Gauntlets, giving the untrained eye the impression that two magic swords had just sprouted from Akira’s wrists. Kendra screamed at the top of her lungs!

“OPEN FIRE!!”

Like a terrible thunderstorm, the bridge filled with sound and light! Kendra was nearly deafened by the powerful roar of gunfire. Gripping her Gauss Pistol tightly in both hands, Kendra fired as quickly as she could pull the trigger!

With a lazy wave of her hand, Akira reshaped one of her Psionic blades into a shimmering shield. Keeping the shield in place with just her own mental willpower, Akira began to cross the bridge at a brisk pace. With both hands free, she began to attack! Telekinetic power rippled across the enclosed space as men and women were thrown against the walls! They wree dashed against the ceiling, lifted into the air and slammed violently down to the floor! Telekinetically, Akira pulled guns out of hands and turned them against their owners. A Green Guard tried to sneak around the periphery of Akira’s vision, to get behind her, but she saw him. Akira blasted the man with some kind of telepathic attack. Screaming hysterically, the Green Guard stopped what he was doing, put his own pistol to the side of his head, and pulled the trigger!

The charging slide on Kendra’s pistol jumped back! She was out of ammo!

“I’ve got you covered!” Nya shouted!

The Acolyte pulled the empty pistol out of Kendra’s hand and replaced it with a fresh one. While Nya reloaded the gun, Kendra poked her head out of cover again to continue firing at Akira…

And found herself face-to-face with the Paradox.

In a matter of seconds, Akira had crossed the bridge and was now only a couple of Bios away from Kendra and Nya! Akira reached towards them with one hand!

“No!”

Eteka and Amaya had shouted and attacked simultaneously! They both vaulted over their cover and charged at Akira! Eteka grabbed one of her gauntlets and pulled while Amaya swung her Gauss Rifle like a club at Akira’s head! The Paradox pulled her arm free of Eteka’s grip, dodged Amaya’s blow, and then struck! Sweeping her hand through the air, Eteka and Amaya both slipped off their feet as though they’d been hit by an invisible tripwire! Akira took a swing at both of them with her Shard Blade, but Amaya parried the attack with her rifle. Her weapon was damaged beyond the point of usefulness, but Amaya was still alive! Eteka grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her away from the danger, but Akira was already turning to refocus her efforts on Kendra and Nya!

Both Queen and Acolyte tried to back off, but Akira reached out with one hand and made a motion as though she was pulling on some invisible rope! Kendra felt a powerful tug on her right side… but Nya, who was standing to Kendra’s right, felt something far worse. Nya’s whole body lurched uncomfortably as she was telekinetically dragged across the floor towards Akira!

“NYA!” Kendra screamed.

The Queen and several of her comrades charged forward to rescue Nya, but Akira threw them all into the air with the force of a single thought! Kendra hit the viewscreen and slid down to the floor! Her gun clattered on the floor somewhere nearby, but in the smoke and chaos Kendra couldn’t find it! Desperate and angry, Kendra reached down to her belt and drew Whetu’s sword. Soulkeeper’s crystalline blade shimmered in the low light of the damaged bridge. Kendra got back to her feet and charged! Around her, Sebakhira, Rhassa, Ango, and Toa Kopaki did the same!

Akira saw the fresh attack coming and struck Nya on the head with one of her Gauntlets! The Acolyte collapsed to the floor, unconscious. Sebakhira pounced! The Gifted Lioness’ attack was amplified by Psionic power, she struck Akira and pushed her all the way to the floor! Sebakhira’s eyes began to emit purple light, the only warning sign of an imminant Psionic attack, but before she could do anything, the Paradox had projected two shields from her Gauntlets, pushing Sebakhira away! Toa Kopaki and Kendra both tried to attack while Akira was still on the ground, but it was no good!

Blasting the floor beneath her with Telekinetic energy, Akira flew up into the air pushed against the ceiling with both hands, which sent her crashing back down to her enemies! Blueish-purple Psi Energy radiated out and away from Akira when she hit the floor, knocking everyone except Kendra off their feet! When the shockwave hit Kendra, it had no effect on her. Instead, Akira winced with pain and swayed on her feet!

While the Paradox staggered, Kendra took a wild swing at her with Soulkeeper! Akira ignited both of her Shard Blades and tried to parry the blow, but when her Psionic weapons made contact with Soulkeeper, Akira’s whole body spasmed and she let out a genuine cry of pain! De-activating her Gauntlets, Akira closed in for a physical attack! Kendra tried to re-center herself, to defend, but it was too late!

Moving too fast to counter, Akira drew both fists back and punched Kendra three times: In the face, chest, and stomach. Kendra dropped the sword and fell to the floor, winded and wracked with pain.

Now that she was here on the floor, completely vulnerable, Kendra was suddenly and acutely aware of the absence of gunfire. Had Akira killed everyone on the bridge? Or were they just out of ammunition? Whatever was going on, Akira had not killed Kendra during the few seconds where she’d had the chance to do so. Pressing her hands to the floor, Kendra pushed herself up to see what was going on.

Akira was still fighting Ango, Toa Kopaki, Sebakhira, and Rhassa. Moving with supernatural speeds, Akira parried and deflected their incoming attacks with disturbing ease! As Kendra scrambled to grab her sword, Akira conjured a Psi Lance in one hand and launched it with terrifying power!

The semi-corporeal beam of energy moved through the bridge like a lightning bolt! It impaled Toa Kopaki through the chest before crashing into the viewscreen, shattering it into millions of little pieces and exposing the many wires and circuit boards behind it.

Killed instantly, Toa Kopaki fell backwards and toppled over the Hyperwave terminal. Rhassa took her place and continued the attack while Eteka and Amaya tried to secure Toa Kopaki’s weapon. Akira caught the briefest glimpse of this and screamed an unnaturally loud scream! A Psionic pulse escaped her body and radiated outwards in all directions! Everybody was lifted into the air and thrown back! This time, Kendra hit something before crashing into the wall, tumbling end-over-end through the air until she once again found herself in a heap on the floor!

Looking up, Kendra saw that Akira had thrown Nya’s unconscious form over her shoulder and was leaving the same way she’d come in!

“Someone stop her!” Kendra yelled,

But there was nobody who could. Sebakhira had taken one hit too many and didn’t seem to be conscious. Eteka, Amaya, and Ango were too far away. Hakara had been knocked out when Akira had made her entrance and was still down now. Rhassa and Coricopat still hadn’t gotten up after their last hit, and Toa Kopaki was dead. The rest of the bridge crew was worse. Anybody who wasn’t dead was badly injured.

Akira was just going to walk out of here with Nya over her shoulder…

…except…

It was only visible for a fraction of a second… A Psi Lance spontaneously appeared in the doorway Akira was walking towards… then it launched itself at her with blinding speed! Akira dropped Nya to the ground and parried the incoming attack with both hands! The Lance flickered and fizzled out of existence. Akira had just barely survived the ambush, but because her hands were raised in front of her face, she didn’t see the follow-up strike coming. Kendra did.

Whetu seemed to appear out of thin air, and she wasn’t running towards Akira, she was flying! Clutching a Psionic Amplifier tightly in one hand, Whetu rocketed towards Akira and vented a cone of Soulfire out of her Amplifier as though it were a flamethrower! Disoriented by the attack, Akira focused on absorbing the jet of purple flames into her Celestial Gauntlets. She didn’t notice Whetu had landed behind her and pulled a knife out of her belt. Whetu closed in, unnoticed, and plunged her weapon down towards the back of Akira’s head! As soon as her blade made contact with Akira’s skull, a bright purple Telekinetic shield materialized around Akira and encased her in a semi-transparent sphere. Whetu’s blade broke and clattered loudly to the floor. Inside the sphere, Akira fell to her knees and didn’t move. In fact, she appeared to be unconscious.

Cheers and celebratory yelled erupted all across the bridge, but Whetu silenced everybody by yelling:

“Shut up! It’s not over!”

Kendra shot a confused look at Whetu, who had raised her arms and was imploring everybody to back off.

“It’s a Sustaining Sphere!” Whetu explained hurriedly. “Absorbs and negates blows that would have been lethal otherwise. She’ll wake up any second!”

“That’s a very rare technique.” Sebakhira commented. “Hardly anyone knows how to do that.”

“It’s also really difficult to pull off.” Whetu added, “It’ll be a few days before she can do that again. Hell, I can’t even do it to begin with.”

Inside the Sustaining Sphere, Akira was beginning to stir.

“This is it!” Whetu shouted, “Stay back! I’ve got her!”

Whetu gripped her Amplifier tightly, and it began to emit a brilliant purple light. Akira lifted her head up and started to look around for Whetu. When the Paradox spotted her, she pressed her hands to the sides of her little shield bubble. Kendra, Sebakhira, Ango, Eteka, Amaya, Rhassa, and Coricopat all dove for cover!

The Sustaining Sphere broke and Akira came out swinging! Kendra couldn’t help but watch with awe and wonder as a full scale Psionic battle erupted in front of her!

Whetu and Akira couldn’t get close to each other! They were being pushed apart by the vast amounts of telekinetic energy moving between them. Little balls of light flickered on and off between them as though a violent thunderstorm was brewing between them. Akira’s Celestial Gauntlets were emitting more light than the rest of the lighting on the bridge now.

Akira struck first! A brilliant beam of purple light shot out of her hands towards Whetu, who caught and absorbed it with her own hand. Then Whetu angled her fingers down and returned the attack to its sender in the form of a lightning bolt! Akira deflected the blast upwards and blew apart the ceiling, causing the contents of the room above to fall down into the bridge!

Akira and Whetu both threw up shields around themselves while Kendra and her companions had to save themselves. Sebakhira created her own shield and protected Kendra, Coricopat, and Eteka. All around them, an avalanche of debris tumbled into the bridge! Kendra lost track of Hakara's unconscious form as dust and smoke filled the room.

In the midst of the cacophony, Akira lunged at Whetu! Dodging both Shard Blades, Whetu just barely escaped being impaled and retreated a few places, determined to keep out of Akira’s striking range. Whetu projected two small shields from each hand and actively struck back, deflecting Akira’s Shard Blades and trying hard to grab one or both of Akira’s Gauntlets.

But Whetu had finally lost the advantage of surprise, and Akira had recovered from the shock of nearly being killed. The Paradox continued to gain ground, while Whetu remained on the back foot. Akira fired one blast of Psi Energy after another towards Whetu, and all the first Queen of Partoga could do was defend, back up, and defend some more. Volts, Lances, and Soulfire erupted from Akira’s hands and diffused against Whetu’s shield! Whetu herself was now just a couple of paces away from having her back pressed up against the wall when half the bridge suddenly erupted into flames!

Sebakhira was back on her feet! Bright purple Soulfire spewed forth from her paws and enveloped Akira! Whetu took advantage of the distraction to disappear, Akira spun on the spot and focused her next attack on the old Gifted Lion. Sebakhira stopped her attack and clutched at her own skull with both hands, screaming:

“No! No! Get out of my head!”

Sebakhira began to float up into the air, as though she was being lifted by an invisible hand! Then Akira broke her concentration and turned to her right, dropping Sebakhira to the floor! Akira lunged forward with both Shard Blades extended and a scream erupted from nowhere!

Whetu became visible again, blood spurting from a deep gash on her left arm! She had gotten close to Akira, but the Paradox had been expecting another ambush and had found Whetu before she could launch it. Whetu raised her Amplifier in her right hand, ready to launch a devastating attack! Akira drew one hand back! She was also going to strike!

“No!”

Clutching Whetu’s sword tightly in her own hand, Kendra vaulted out of cover and charged at Akira! Sebakhira, running on all fours, did the same! Akira ignored the two new attackers and fired one last attack at Whetu!

With a blinding and deafening CRACK, a bolt of lightning jumped out of Akira’s hand, struck Whetu in the chest, jumped out of her body and hit Sebakhira in the face, jumped out of the Lioness’ body and hit Kendra in the shoulder! Whetu and Sebakhira crumpled to the ground at once! Kendra didn’t feel a thing. Once more, Soulkeeper had done its job! The Psi Volt hit Kendra and vanished completely! Akira fell to her knees and grabbed her head, screaming with pain!

“THAT DAMN SWORD!!” the Paradox shrieked

Seeing her chance, Kendra charged towards Akira! Holding the sword over her right shoulder, Kendra was going to decapitate Akira! The Paradox saw Kendra coming out of the corner of her eye, spun around and then rolled onto her own back! Akira’s left foot caught Kendra by the hips, causing her to tumble forward! Akira’s right foot connected with Kendra’s chest, and the Queen was sent tumbling head over heels through the air! Hitting the floor head-first, Kendra dropped Soulkeeper and had to blink her eye several times to refocus…

But it was too late.

In the absence of any further attacks, Akira had grabbed Nya by the arm and was pulling a device out of her own belt.

“That’s a Return Beacon!” Hakara’s voice yelled from the other side of the bridge! “Someone stop her!”

Eteka appeared somewhere to Kendra’s right and took aim at Akira with a Gauss Rifle, but by the time he had the shot lined up, Akira had already pulled the trigger on the Return Beacon.

It was just like Tantomile had described. A Quantum Wavefront opened up right there on the bridge! Akira hastily tucked the Return Beacon down the front of Nya’s tunic and then raised her free hand to deflect Eteka’s incoming gunfire! Eteka switched his weapon from “semi” to “full auto” and laid on the trigger, determined to kill Akira before she could escape! Akira seemed like she was no longer content to deflect bullets. She swept her free hand in front of her, and with a loud Crack! One of the bullets reflected off of her shield and came back to Eteka! Kendra heard a dull Thunk sound as Eteka was shot by one of his own bullets, and she screamed as he fell to the floor!

The Quantum Wavefront lurched backwards and swallowed up Akira and Nya. Then it shrunk down to microscopic size and vanished, leaving behind a wrecked bridge, a few dead, and many wounded.

Kendra staggered back to her feet. Then she ran over to Eteka. He was seething, breathing through his teeth and clutching at his right arm, which was stained with copious amounts of blood.

“If I didn’t know better,” Eteka hissed, “I’d say she was going for the gun. Was damn close.”

“Someone get him a Medikit!” Kendra shouted. “And get me a casualty report!”

It was bad. Not only was the Queen Karan’s bridge completely destroyed, but twenty-nine people were dead, including the ship’s Captain, Toa Kopaki… and…

“No!” Kendra gasped, “Oh, no, no no!”

Whetu was dead. The front of her shirt was scorched, marking the spot where the lethal blow had struck. A final look of surprise was etched onto her face.

To make matters worse, Sebakhira was incapacitated. The Psi Volt that had killed Whetu seemed to have lost strength while jumping from Whetu to Sebakhira. Instead of killing the Gifted Lioness, it had inflicted terrible burns to her forehead and possibly done some brain damage. Sebakhira was unconscious and nothing could be done to wake her up.

A medic put a tourniquet on Eteka’s arm and used a Medikit to stop his bleeding. Meanwhile, the barely-functional intercom made a loud clicking noise before someone spoke through it.

“Hangar bay to bridge!” Someone said. “That intruder ship is spooling up its engines. They’re getting ready to take off!”

Kendra looked around at her companions and crew.

“I think the Queen Karan’s dead in space.” Kendra admitted. “Someone call Tantomile, let her know we need her to chase the Ark Angel and get Nya back.”

Hakara pushed Toa Kopaki’s corpse off the comms array and called Tantomile’s flagship.

Queen Karan calling Demeter. Come in.”

Demeter here.” Tantomile asked. “Is everyone okay? I just lost my Psi Link with Sebakhira. I can’t see what’s going on over there. Did you get the Paradox?”

“Negative.” Kendra answered. “She’s about to escape from our hangar bay aboard the Ark Angel. She kidnapped Nya! Can you get to her?”

Pause.

“Maybe.” Tantomile answered. “We’re chasing the Felnas right now. It’s the last Planet-Killer and it’s on the other side of you. We have to fly past your ship to reach it. We’ll keep our weapons on your hangar bay as we pass. You said Akira kidnapped one of your people?”

“Yes. Nya, my Acolyte.”

“Right.” Tantomile sounded like she was thinking fast. “We’ll disable the Ark Angel and board it. I’ll start putting a team together.”

Before Kendra could answer, she felt a hand on her shoulder. It was Amaya. She looked battered, but very angry.

“Your Majesty,” Amaya said. “Request permission to be part of the boarding team.”

“What?” Kendra asked. “Why?”

“She took Nya!” Amaya whimpered. “Please, let me get her back.”

Kendra couldn’t help but feel a pang of sympathy for Amaya. She had lost so many friends and had gone through hell over the past year. Losing one more special person in her life might just destroy her.

“Okay.” Kendra said. “Get down to the hangar bay and take a ship. Do you know how to fly a Vako? We should still have a couple in the docking sleeves.”

Amaya nodded.

“Thank you, Your Majesty.” She sounded relieved.

Right as Amaya turned to leave the bridge, Hakara caught her by the shoulder and said:

“Wait a moment.”

Hakara addressed Kendra.

“Kendra, your friends are going to need a guide if they’re planning to board the Ark Angel. Let me go with her.”

This time, Kendra didn’t hesitate.

“Agreed. Fly in the jumpseat of Amaya’s fighter. I’ll call the hangar and let them know you’re coming.”



Aboard the Demeter, Tantomile felt a little exposed. Unlike the Partogan Mothership, the Demeter’s bridge was mounted on a conning tower high above the ship’s main body. On the one hand, this offered Tantomile an excellent view of the battle, but on the other, it meant that a single hit to the bridge would spell doom for the Demeter.

At her command, the Demeter was weaving its way through the battlefield, dodging weapons fire, active ships, and derelict hulks. The pursuit of the Planet-Killer Felnas was all that mattered right now, and the battle had changed appropriately:

Task Force Kraahkan was falling apart, and what few ships remained had formed a protective sphere formation around the Felnas. Kendra and Tantomile’s fleets were pummeling this sphere, but the task was getting difficult. The entire enemy formation was attempting a last-ditch breakout attempt, shooting at Proximity Sensors and Gravell Generatiors, trying to find (or create) an opening to escape.

Meanwhile, above Tantomile’s Assault Carrier, two ships flew out of the Queen Karan’s hangar bay. The black and white Ark Angel banked hard and made a beeline towards the main battle, while a Vako-class fighter took some potshots at the spaceplane with its Mass Driver before giving up and turning back towards the Demeter.

“Open up our hangar bay to that fighter!” Tantomile yelled, pointing her claw at the sensors manager. “Prepare a spread of missiles for the Ark Angel! Korova! Get down to the hangar and get our guests up here!”

Korova vacated the bridge, taking Arahu and Rapati with him.

“Toa Nanui, ask Kendra how the Queen Karan’s doing?”

The former prison warden relayed Tantomile’s inquiry quickly.

“Sorry Tantomile,” Kendra responded over the radio. “The Queen Karan is combat ineffective right now. We’re moving personnel and equipment to the backup bridge, but that’s going to take time. Akira also burned through our chain of command. Still not sure who the new Captain is over here. Can you handle the Felnas on your own?”

“Yeah, we can do that.” Tantomile answered confidently. “We’re about to take Amaya and Hakara into our hangar bay, but there’s something else I need to tell you.”

Kendra’s response was suddenly drowned out by an extremely loud rumbling sound. The Demeter had just fired a salvo of missiles at the Ark Angel!

“What was that?” Kendra’s voice said over the radio.

“Just took a shot at the Paradox!” Tantomile answered. “Listen to me for a second, before the fighting started, Sebakhira had a vision, remember?”

“Yeah.” Kendra answered. “She said it didn’t make sense.”

“Well,” said Tantomile, “I think I just figured out part of it. I saw her vision through our link. One of the things she saw was some kind of frigate crash-landing at a spaceport on Aoraki. I can’t explain it, Kendra, but I’m one-hundred-percent certain that you’re supposed to go there. Didn’t we see a Frigate escaping the Queen Miranda just before it blew up? Didn’t those two time travelers say that their friends were going to meet up at that spaceport?”

“They did.” Kendra confirmed. “Alright, Tantomile. You mop up the last Planet-Killer, I’ll take my fleet and lock down the whole system. If Akira goes down to Mahurangi to pick up Mira, then I’ll put a bullet in Akira’s skull just for you.”

“Good luck, Kendra.”

“You too, Tantomile.”

The Demeter shot past the Partogan Mothership and dove into the main battle once more! Farther ahead, the Ark Angel deployed chaff and escaped from the missile barrage. The Paradox’s ship dove into the fray, her weapons unmoving and unused.

Tantomile had to grip the handrails tightly to avoid being buffeted about while her ship gave and received weapons fire. The defenders of Task Force Kraahkan were now definitely starting to crack, but they hadn’t broken yet!

Defiant Frigates flew in wall formations and laid down withering fields of fire; whole wings of fighters swooped into and out of the Levakian fleet, dropping plasma bombs onto the Super-Capital ships, and all of the Demeter’s weapon systems were pushed to their limit! Her dual Ion Cannons sliced a Destroyer in two, only to find a Heavy Cruiser moving up to fill the gap in the lines! Missiles thundered down like hailstones onto the flanks of Carriers, while the Kinetic Batteries had now been firing continuously for so long that the gun barrels were in danger of melting.

Amidst all of this, Hakara and Amaya finally reached the bridge, panting from having to climb so many stairs to reach this point. (The Demeter’s bridge is directly above the hangar bay)

“Just saw the Shieldbreaker 2 in your hangar bay.” Hakara panted. “You saving that for a special occasion?”

“Very special.” Tantomile answered.

She was about to go on when King Admetus yelled;

“Your highness! They just took out one of our Gravwell Generators! The Felnas is spooling up her Hyperspace Module!”

It took Tantomile all of three seconds to make up her mind.

“Engines ahead flank!” The Levakian Empress yelled. “Blow through the enemy fleet and engage the Felnas at point-blank range!”

Korova balked.

“Blow through the entire enemy fleet!?” He gasped. “Your Highness, there’s no chance we’d get through-“

“Today is not the day to tell me about odds and chances!” Tantomile snapped. “Push through the enemy NOW!”

Taking no chances, King Admetus dismissed the young lion working the helm and took his place. While he steered the Demeter into the heart of the enemy formation, Korova spoke into the radio.

“This is Demeter calling any friendly ships in range! We’re making a run against the Felnas and need cover fire!”

Immediately, Queen Kendra’s voice was projected to the entire fleet.

“Defend the Demeter at all costs!”

Everybody on the Assault Carrier’s bridge held onto the safety railing for dear life as the final plunge began! Every one of the Demeter’s weapons were trained onto the Felnas! On the viewscreen, the Planet-Killer’s entire length and breadth was swept by Ion Cannons, Missiles, and Mass Driver rounds!

About a quarter of all ships in Task Force Kraahkan turned their weapons against the Demeter! Tantomile was nearly thrown off her feet by the first impact!

“Keep going!” she yelled, "Keep firing!”

The Demeter was getting pummeled and pounded! By what? It didn’t matter. The only important thing lay two hundred Kios ahead!

“Hyperspace signature detected!” Rapati announced, “It’s a Far-Jumper!”

“Who is it!?” King Tumeric asked.

“It’s the Hiigarans!” Arahu pointed at the sensors manager and practically jumped with joy. “The Hiigarans are here!”

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Caption said:
The Hiigaran Mothership (far right) appears over Aoraki with the full might of Fleet 15.

As the Hiigaran fleet rematerialized just outside of the main battle, a new voice made itself heard over the fleet communications. Just a few months ago, this voice had belonged to an enemy of the Kingdom of Partoga, but now, in this moment of crisis, the voice of Karan Sjet was quite welcome indeed.

“This is Hiigaran Fleet Command.” Karan announced. “By order of the Galactic Council, this battle is over. Partogan warship Felnas: You and your escort fleet are ordered to stand down and surrender yourselves to the forces of Queen Kendra and Empress Tantomile at once. Failure to comply will not be tolerated. My forces have been authorized to use lethal force to carry out the will of the Galactic Council. I repeat myself only once. Task Force Kraahkan is to surrender IMMEDEATELY.”

Suddenly, the sensors manager on the Demeter’s bridge was overloaded with new signal pings as nearly half of Task Force Kraahkan began to signal surrender. To Tantomile’s absolute horror, the Felnas was not among them.

“The Planet-Killer’s not surrendering!” Tantomile yelled. “Press the attack!”

The Demeter continued to accelerate towards the last Planet-Killer! Only one hundred Kios separated the two ships!

“The Felnas is still charging their Hyperspace module!” King Tumeric yelled! “They’re gonna jump!”

Fifty Kios!

The Demeter’s weapons were now all firing continuously! The interior of the ship was getting hotter and hotter. The Partogans began to sweat, the Levakians were all panting. The Felnas was now rolling along her lateral axis, presenting intact armor to the Demeter’s weapons.

“We’re on a collision course!” King Admetus yelled, “I’m bringing the nose up ten degrees!”

“You’ll do no such thing!” Tantomile yelled! “Keep pressing on!”

They were so close! Every shot the Demeter fired was now hitting the mark with lethal precision! All Tantomile needed was a few more salvoes!

But then… a computerized voice spoke over the intercom.


“Wake Jump protocols initiated. Far Jump coordinates accepted. Standby to initiate Hyperspace.”

It all happened in about three seconds.

In the first second, Tantomile felt her heart drop into her stomach as her entire body was overrun with genuine terror. She opened her mouth and began to scream the words: Get to your Radiation Shelters!

In the next second, the Ark Angel shot past the viewscreen like a bullet from a gun. It had passed the Demeter with inches to spare! Toa Nanui, Korova, Tantomile, and King Tumeric all frantically tried to abort the Hyperspace Jump from their consoles.

In the final second, Hakara could be heard saying the words: Akira, you clever girl.

Two Quantum Wavefronts opened up, one in front of the Felnas and another in front of the Demeter. Then they leapt backwards, swallowing both ships whole!

Instantly, Tantomile was completely overwhelmed with nausea and dizziness. She fell to all fours and vomited! Around her, everybody on the bridge did the same! The overwhelming smell of sickness caused Tantomile to throw up a second time! Her stomach empty of all contents, she heaved and belched before falling over to one side, completely overcome with weakness.

"Wake-assisted Far Jump Complete.” Said the computerized voice. “System self-check underway. Self-check complete. All systems operational.”

“Oh, really?” Arahu groaned, “I don’t feel operational.”

Tantomile, who was still too weak to stand, said loudly:

“I better not have just heard the words ‘Far Jump.’ Someone find out where we are.”

The sound of shuffling was more pleasant to hear than retching and choking. Finally, after a few moments, King Admetus said.

“Oh, holy Miranda… We… We’re….”

He didn’t finish. Tantomile could still hear the warble of fear in his voice, though.

“Admetus,” Tantomile said. “Where are we?”

“Qurus system…” Admetus said slowly. “About… one thousand Kios above… Asalele.

The atmosphere on the bridge changed perceptibly. For a moment or two, there was only silence. The moment was broken when the intercom system suddenly lit up.

“Hangar bay calling infirmary, medical emergency!”

“Starboard missile batteries calling infirmary, medical emergency!”

“Engine room calling infirmary, medical emergency!”

“Ion Cannon control room calling infirmary, medical emergency!

Tantomile got to her feet and shuffled over to the intercom system, with the push of a button, she silenced it. Then the Empress looked out of the viewscreen and saw confirmation of her worst fear:

The Felnas, battered but intact, was now settling into a high orbit above Asalele. The Ark Angel itself was nowhere to be seen, but a significant column of smoke and subsequent explosions on one particular part of the planet surface gave her an idea of where it could be.

Amaya, shaking and retching, tried to stand up.

“I don’t get it.” She coughed. “We just did an unshielded Hyperspace Jump. How are we still alive?”

“I… I don’t think we’re ‘alive.’” Hakara said slowly. “We just did an unshielded Wake Jump.”

Hakara pushed a shocked-looking member of the bridge crew aside and began typing something on his computer console.

“We did a wake jump, which means that the Ark Angel used its own Hyperspace system to do the jump. The Felnas and the Demeter just got caught in her wake and pulled along behind it. Our own Hyperspace Module was inactive, that’s why we didn’t die immediately.”

“Why’d you add ‘immediately’?” Arahu asked before puking again,

Hakara stood up straight and looked around at everyone with a grim expression.

“Because… we’re still dead.” He said in a dark tone. “The instant-kill range of any unshielded Hyperspace system is fifty Kios. The Ark Angel was sixty Kios away from us when it Jumped. We still got irradiated… just not with a dose that’s instantly lethal. It’s going to take some time but... Akira just killed us all.”

Tantomile’s heart skipped a beat. She fell back down onto her haunches and panted; she was shocked and fearful, as was everybody else.

Somewhere above her, Tantomile heard King Admetus say:

“How long do we have?”

Hakara was silent for a moment, then he said grimly.

“A Far Jump dose from sixty Kios away? I’d say we’ll be incapacitated in about two or three hours. We’ll all be dead before the day is over.”

Tantomile was brought out of her stunned silence by a loud CRACK! Followed by several screams and yells of surprise! Tantomile tried to stand up quickly, but her body was wracked by a myriad of pains and aches she’d never felt before, and by the time she got back to her feet, all Tantomile saw was a bloody streak running down a far all, and a trail of gunsmoke rising into the air, the only visible reminder of the Demeter’s tactical officer.

“He shot himself!” Amaya coughed. “He… he just…”

She looked like she was about to cry.

Tantomile wanted to comfort Amaya, but she was standing in front of the viewscreen, so when the Empress looked at her, all she saw was the lush green and blue face of Asalele behind her. Above the planet, the Felnas was re-orienting itself to point its Wrath Cannon down towards the planet surface.

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Caption said:
The Felnas takes aim at Asalele.

There were eleven million people down there.

“Does anyone know how long it take a Planet-Killer to fire its main weapon?”

“About thirty minutes.” Toa Nanui said. “But how are we supposed to attack it? I’m sure every other section of the ship is just as bad off as we are.”

“It’ll be chaos aboard the Demeter.” Kind Tumeric confirmed. “By the time we get the crew organized enough to fire on the Planet-Killer, it’ll be too late.”

“We can’t evacuate a whole planet in half-an-hour.” Korova choked.

“We have to shut it down.” Tantomile said. “From the inside. We’ll board it with the Shieldbreaker 2 and kill the Wrath Cannon from the inside.”

Admetus gave Tantomile a concerned look.

“Your Highness, that’ll take time to carry out. Time we don’t have much of anymore Getting the Shieldbreaker 2 out of the Hangar, flying to and boarding the Planet-Killer, finding the Cannon Control room and shutting it down. You’re talking about a suicide mission.”

Tantomile looked down at one of her paws. The padding was already starting to turn pale, and her vision was getting a little blurry.

“It’s not a suicide mission if you’re already dead.” The Empress said softly. “I’m going. Anyone who wants to come along is welcome.”

Then she turned to the Demeter’s Captain.

“Send out a general distress call on every possible frequency.” She ordered. “Get the Hiigarans here if you can.”

When she turned to leave the bridge, Tantomile noticed that King Admetus, Tumeric, Korova, Arahu, Rapati, Toa Nanui, Hakara, and Amaya were all following her. They all wore expressions of grim seriousness.

“What do you think Akira will do when she sees us boarding the Felnas?” Tantomile asked Hakara.

“She’ll definitely try to stop us.” Hakara coughed. “But it usually takes about an hour for the Hyperspace Core to build up a charge big enough to have a wide kill radius. We’ll either be successful or dead before that happens. Maybe both.”

“Oh, I think we should let her come to us.” Amaya seethed. “At least I’ll get a couple of revenge hits in before I go. One for me, and one for Nya.”



December 21, 1928 A.D.
LVK Shieldbreaker 2, High Orbit above Asalele, Qurus Star System, Levakian Confederation


y4m38KOmmmIkuoWQm8n-BpvYPmEOmpQNtdNgF-s7GIBtgB0qaw_wgCX0yBZa5D7wGNa8-P1djv-1yOn81FhErlc74sOYqtpg4qZjqqDRfhpb--Tl137X0cVOnrLeA951DpcNrLNQwJ6vhFpWNM-culcJWo6VXlqPRl0v8aH9SsFiiDaG0kFv_fvvy0u5XfZZ0xgV92ISQlzZ-x-NWRurieO_g

Caption said:
The Siege Drill Frigate "Shieldbreaker 2" departs the Demeter and begins her suicide mission.

Tantomile’s first and last ride aboard the new Shieldbreaker was a quiet affair. The Siege Drill Frigate was loaded with all of Tantomile’s companions, plus nearly a hundred other lions she had rounded up during the walk between the Demeter’s bridge and hangar bay. Everybody knew this was going to be a one-way trip. This was a fight-or-die scenario, and eleven million lions down on the surface of Asalele depended on the Shieldbreaker’s crew making their sacrifice count as much as possible.

The Shieldbreaker 2 screamed away from the Demeter and set a collision course for the Planet-Killer. Once the Siege Drill Frigate crossed about half of the distance, Amaya broke the silence with an alarming announcement from the pilot’s seat.

“Here comes the Ark Angel! Their weapons are hot!”

“We don’t have any weapons!” Tantomile yelled back. “Just outrun her and get us to the Felnas!

The Ark Angel held its course and one of her Mass Driver turrets opened fire! Tantomile clutched the back of the pilot’s seat and listened to the dull thudding of hundreds of rounds striking the ship’s armor!

“We’re hit, but not bad!” Amaya reported, “Almost there! Brace! Brace! Brace!”

“Spinning up the drill!” Korova shouted.

The Shieldbreaker 2 hit the Felnas with a mighty CRASH!! No amount of bracing could prepare anyone on the bridge, and Tantomile slipped off her feet and careened partway down the deck before coming to a rest near Korova, who was manning the sensors manager.

Somewhere below her, Tantomile felt a deep, throbbing vibration. The Siege Drill had punctured the Planet-Killer’s armor.

“We’re in.” Amaya reported. “Boarding ramps are deploying and breaching charges are in place. I’m matching our atmospheric pressure to theirs. Shouldn’t take long, though. Our species have the same require-“

Amaya trailed off, then began to cough violently. Holding her hand up to her mouth, Tantomile saw that Amaya had just coughed a frightening amount of blood into her hand. The former Queen Candidate looked up at Tantomile.

“Don’t worry about me.” Amaya said in a scratchy voice. “Let’s get this done.”

Suddenly, the whole ship lurched hard to one side.

“What the hell was that!?” Toa Nanui shouted.

“It’s the Ark Angel!” Korova responded. “It’s just docked to the Planet-Killer. About fifteen decks above us!”

“Damnit, she’s onto us!” Tantomile swore. “Alright, everyone into the boarding ramps!”



Armed with a Slugthrower Rifle, Tantomile pushed her way to the front of the boarding party. As she moved, she tried to restore the Psionic Link between herself and Sebakhira, desperate to know what was happening at Aoraki and to warn Kendra about the situation at Asalele. No matter how hard she tried, though, Tantomile couldn’t reestablish the connection. Asalele and Aoraki were simply too far away from one another. Sheer distance had broken the Psi Link.

“Damnit.” Tantomile muttered to herself. “Space is too damn big!”

Reaching the front of the group, Tantomile found Korova and Toa Nanui. Amaya and King Admetus joined her a moment later. They were all armed to the teeth and, like Tantomile, were carrying a syringe filled to with a thick blue liquid. Combat drugs.

“These…” Tantomile explained, “Should keep us on our toes for however long we’ve got left.”

Tantomile stuck her own syringe into her leg and depressed the plunger. Toa Nanui, Amaya, Korova, and King Admetus all did the same. Then she roared to the rest of her crew:

“LIONS! Stim up!”

All up and down the boarding ramp, nearly a hundred lions made growls of satisfaction as the combat drugs hit their veins, while Tantomile continued to roar!

“The only thing that matters is to stop this big gun from firing! My team will take the Cannon Control room! The rest of you: Kill everyone on that ship! Move fast! Hunt together, and make every strike count! If you get hurt, kill’em; and if you die, then take the enemy with you!”

Behind Tantomile, the breaching charges detonated! The last barrier between her crew and the Felnas crumbled. The hole opened up into a hallway where three sick and trembling Partogans, armed only with pistols, found themselves up against Tantomile and the full crew of the Shieldbreaker 2. Amaya threw herself into the fray first, screaming an ancient Partogan war cry at the top of her lungs and charging her Gauss Rifle!

“KO MATOU TO MATE!” Amaya shrieked like a banshee as she gunned down the first man.

“KA MATE TATOU!” Amaya put a bullet between the eyes of the second man.

Before the third Partogan could do anything, Amaya tackled him to the floor and fired her rifle into his chest until she ran out of ammunition. Panting, she finished:

“Kei reira tonu te Whetu Kārerarera.”

That was all the encouragement Tantomile and her crew needed. They surged off the boarding ramp and into the Planet-Killer! Dozens of lions roared as they went, while Tantomile’s furious voice could be heard above everyone else. As the Empress of Levakia roared, her voice carried down every hallway, echoed through the air ducts, and brought fear and terror to all who heard it:

“CAN YOU HEAR ME AKIRA!? I’VE COME FOR MY DESTINY… AND HELL’S COMING WITH ME!!”


 
Last edited:

HistoryDude

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Whelp, they’re all dead…
Unless…
But she doesn’t know that yet…

So Tantomile might survive…but everybody else is screwed.


Okay, so where is Mira? And I highly doubt that she’d stay loyal. So I’m going to assume she’s at Mahurangi.

Also, boo Akira... Meh, Mira can probably finish the mission, so Akira can die.

@EmpressTantomile What is your plan?

@QueenKendra what are you going to do now? Land at Mahurangi?

RIP happy ending.

Also, your cliffhangers are evil...
 

Macavity116

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Okay, so where is Mira? And I highly doubt that she’d stay loyal. So I’m going to assume she’s at Mahurangi.
The answer is an exercise in dramatic irony. Hakara and Whetu never knew Mira's actual location. You, the readers, knew where she was all along.

Hakara was partially correct, Mira was assigned to the Planet-Killer Mohtrek by Akira at the start of the mission, but relocated herself to the Mothership Queen Miranda before Chapter 5.1. As of the end of Chapter 5.4, Mira is now on the surface of Aoraki.

Another exercise in dramatic irony: Because she was aboard the Queen Miranda at the start of Chapter 5.4, we now know that Mira definitely heard Hakara's message before the start of the battle. Mira knew Hakara was impersonating Vice Admiral Patariki before, so its very possible that Mira has finally been alerted to Akira's intentions.

@EmpressTantomile What is your plan?
Empress Tantomile said:
Uhg… there's no time... no time to even think straight. We have to take the most direct... fastest approach. Blow through and carve a straight line to the Felnas' Cannon Control Room. No time for backup plans or contingencies. Gotta push, gotta fight, before there's no fight left in us.

Takes thirty minutes to prime and fire a Wrath Cannon. Thirty minutes to save eleven million people...

Don't care what happens afterwards... gotta stop the Wrath Cannon. If the Paradox shows up, fine. I'll just take her with me.


@QueenKendra what are you going to do now? Land at Mahurangi?
Queen Kendra said:
Recon probes show a Ruki-Class Defense Field Frigate crashed into the main terminal of Mahurangi Spaceport. No sign of any crew, though. Hakara did say that the Mahurangi Spaceport was the designated meeting place for Akira's team after the battle. If I had to guess... I'd think one of them, maybe Mira, hitched a ride on that DFG. Which means I've got a chance to intercept her before Akira gets there.

I have to take that chance.


Also, your cliffhangers are evil...
When you see the ending of Chapter 5.5, you'll wish I'd used a cliffhanger instead. ;)
 

HistoryDude

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Something worse than a cliffhanger?
It’s going to be a whole lot of death, isn’t it?
 

Macavity116

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Something worse than a cliffhanger?
It’s going to be a whole lot of death, isn’t it?

It's the end of Chapter 5. Accordingly, Chapter 5.5 will have a much more... definitive... conclusion.
 

stnylan

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That was rather exciting. Lots and lots going on.

I do think though that by "killing" them with radiation may have unforeseen consequences. As mentioned, when one is already dead one has nothing to lose, and yet still time to create a legacy and legend that will endure for aeons.
 

Macavity116

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I do think though that by "killing" them with radiation may have unforeseen consequences. As mentioned, when one is already dead one has nothing to lose, and yet still time to create a legacy and legend that will endure for aeons.

Couldn't have put it any better myself.

I'm still going to try though. :)

Coming next week! "Chapter 5.5: And Hell's Coming With Me"
 

magnum2016

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Oh boy... the suspense is literally killing me Haha
 

HistoryDude

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Also, isn’t Tantomile not necessarily dead from radiation because she’s psionic?

I mean, Mira survived direct contact with an active Hyperspace core in After Everything.

EDIT:Stupid autocorrect
 
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Macavity116

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Oh boy... the suspense is literally killing me Haha
Me too. I've got to write this!

Also, isn’t Tantomile not necessarily dead from radiation because she’s psionic?

I mean, Mira survived direct contact with an active Hyperspace [module] in After Everything.
Correct. It is possible for Tantomile to survive beyond Chapter 5.5. In fact, I'd say her Unique Power is boosting those odds.

Then again… Akira is also waiting for her... somewhere aboard that Planet-Killer.
 

stnylan

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Also, isn’t Tantomile not necessarily dead from radiation because she’s psionic?

I mean, Mira survived direct contact with an active Hyperspace vote in After Everything.
Did Mira truly survive - or just spent some time not yet dead?

And anyway, we know both Tantomile and Coricopat have already achieved immortality in song and fable :D
 

Macavity116

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Did Mira truly survive - or just spent some time not yet dead?
I guess the difference between Mira and Tantomile's situations is that Mira made a covenant with the End of the Cycle. Tantomile isn't going to have that kind of help.

And anyway, we know both Tantomile and Coricopat have already achieved immortality in song and fable :D
Can you ride on a broomstick to places far distant? Familiar with candle, with book and with bell? Are you an alumnus of Heaven or Hell? If you were or you are, you're a Jellicle cat!
 

HistoryDude

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I guess the difference between Mira and Tantomile's situations is that Mira made a covenant with the End of the Cycle. Tantomile isn't going to have that kind of help.

Mira made said covenant after/during her unshielded Hyperspace Jump... although she did have psionic amplifiers, so there’s that to help.
 

Macavity116

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Weapon charging. 0% Capacity and rising. The Wrath Cannon will be ready to fire in 30 minutes.



In other words, the second-to-last Chapter of Faith in Chaos is imminent.
 
Chapter 5.5: And Hell's Coming With Me

Macavity116

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Welcome to the second-to-last chapter.
=====

Chapter 5.5
And Hell’s Coming With Me

December 21, 1928 A.D.
HMS Felnas, Killshot Orbit above Asalele, Qurus Star System, Levakian Confederation



Tantomile was getting dizzy. The world spun around her and she occasionally hit a wall as she made her way along the corridors of the Felnas’ interior. Ahead of her, Amaya, Toa Nanui, Korova, and King Admetus were all having the same trouble. The Partogans, with their smaller bodies, seemed to be suffering more so than the Levakians.

The enemy was having the exact same problem. The men and woman who crewed the Felnas were also irradiated, but they were not enjoying the benefits of Combat Drugs. Every volley of wildly inaccurate gunfire the Felnas crew sent towards Tantomile and her team was countered with pinpoint sniper fire from the invading Levakians.

“Has anyone seen the Paradox yet?” Tantomile wheezed into her radio.

“Negative. No sign.” Was the reply.

Tantomile didn’t get it. The Ark Angel was definitely docked to the Felnas. Where the hell was that damned Snowskin!?

Lost in thoughts, Tantomile ran headlong into another wall. The impact felt jarring, but it restored her focus just in time! The sound of Gauss Rounds flying past her head made the Empress look around.

King Admetus and Toa Nanui had forced their way into a galley, where the crew was only putting up a half-hearted defense. Some of the soldiers collapsed to the floor and waited patiently for death after firing only a few shots. While her forces took the galley, Tantomile found a wash basin and dunked her whole head into it. When did the sensation of water on her face become so painful?

“How long do we have?” She asked no one in particular.

“We’ll be finished in about an hour.” Toa Nanui coughed.

“Give or take.” Amaya added.

“No, I’m not talking about us.” Tantomile gasped. “The gun… the-the Wrath Cannon. How long do we have?”

“I’m not sure.” Toa Nanui said. “If they already started the firing sequence, we might be running out of time already.”

Toa Nanui moved across the galley and stopped to use a computer terminal. His hands were shaking and sweaty, causing his fingers to slip on the keys:


Cmd_usr/ status report: man weapn

Sys/ Syntax Error!
Cmd_usr/ status report: main weapon
Sys/ Authorization?



Toa Nanui waved at Hakara, who pulled a military Command Card out of his pocket and slid it into the reader.


Cmd_usr/ Authorization: Vice Admiral Maui Patariki, Partogan Royal Navy

Sys/ Weapon charging. 50% Capacity and rising. The Wrath Cannon will be ready to fire in 15 minutes.


“Shit!” Amaya gasped. “They’ve already started the firing sequence!”

“How do we shut it down?” Korova asked.

Hakara took over the computer and pulled up a map of the Felnas’ interior.

“The Cannon Control room is here.” He began. “There’s an armory on the same deck about a hundred Bios this way. We overrun the armory, stock up. Then we push the CCR. Get inside. If the main weapon’s about to fire, then the Captain will be in there with his Command Card. We get it, then abort the firing sequence.”

“We need a backup plan in case this all goes wrong.” King Admetus started to say, but Tantomile cut him off.

“Too easy. We blow up the whole ship. Not like it matters if we’re still aboard or not. We go with Nanui’s plan. Push the armory, force the Control Room. It’s the most direct path that takes the least time.”

“It also has the heaviest resistance.” Amaya chimed in. “We’ll die if we charge straight in.”

“We’re dead either way.” Tantomile said. “Everyone check your weapons and ammo. Admetus, call up the other teams. Everybody’s gonna hit the same target. Maximum force.”



Weapon charging. 65% Capacity and rising. The Wrath Cannon will be ready to fire in 13 minutes.



There is nothing more terrifying in this Universe than the sight of a Pride of Lions charging towards oneself. No words can describe the terror and panic that swept through the Felnas’ Armory as it was beset on all sides by a hundred heavily armed and drug-enhanced Lions.

Fully grown men wept and whimpered as they laid down their arms and begged for their lives. (Which surprised Tantomile and a few others) A significant number of soldiers accepted, nay, welcomed death by gunfire as preferable to death by radiation sickness. A few of these people offered token resistance and intentionally missed their shots. (Which surprised no one.)

With the armory fully under her control, Tantomile ordered everybody to rearm and equip themselves with “anything you can carry.” It only took her warriors a few minutes to completely strip the armory of everything of military value. Meanwhile, Tantomile reunited with her companions. Amaya, Toa Nanui, Arahu, Rapati, Hakara, Tumeric, Admetus, and Korova had all disposed of their original weapons and were now carrying heavy Magnetic Cannons. In any other situation, Tantomile would have objected to letting every member of the squad carry a fully automatic machinegun, but this was not “any other situation.” She gave her comrades an approving look. They gathered around her, and spoke together as a group one last time.

“Everybody knows the plan?” Tantomile asked.

“Get into the Cannon Control Room.” Rapati began.

“Kill everyone in there.” King Tumeric continued.

“Get the Captain’s command card.” Korova elaborated.

“Shut down the Wrath Cannon.” Arahu contributed.

“If Akira shows up?” Tantomile inquired.

“Kill her too.” Amaya growled.

“And if it goes wrong?” Admetus chimed in.

“I’ll use the Captain’s command card to trigger the self-destruct.” Tantomile finished. “It's the only way to be sure.”

The companions looked around each other one last time. Everybody nodded at one another silently and grimly.

“Anything else you want to say, Empress?” Admetus asked.

A murderous look flashed in Tantomile’s eyes. As she spoke, her warriors gathered around to hear their Empress speak before leading them all into battle.

“Words don’t matter anymore.” She said. “Good, innocent people are dead. If that doesn’t piss you off, then why are you here right now? Akira... the Paradox... She’s a coward. She never stands and fights, she just runs away after the first hit. She’s never had to take on anyone who’s got nothing left to lose. She’s never had to fight us. And when she does... we’ll put the fear of Riri Nui into her! Akira wants to control our destinies and write our future for us, and this is the moment we break free! Today, we’ll show Akira that we are masters of our own fate! We chose our own destiny! We will FIGHT AND DIE on our terms! Today, Akira thinks Asalele is going to be destroyed, and eleven million innocent lives snuffed out... all because it’s what she wants! We’re going to prove her wrong! The people of Asalele will live because of us! They will be free to make their own destinies and Akira will not be allowed to say a damn thing about it! Now every lion and lioness, every man and woman who dares to live, fight, and die free... FOLLOW ME!!”



Weapon charging. 75% Capacity and rising. The Wrath Cannon will be ready to fire in 11 minutes.



It was an explosive symphony of violence and destruction! One hundred Levakians and five Partogans erupted out of the armory and into the main corridor. Tantomile led the charge, roaring until the walls seemed to shake and the floor trembled! Too loud to comprehend, tens of thousands of Gauss Rounds sped down the hallway and annihilated the defenders! The surviving crew of the Felnas scattered like leaves before the attackers!

Any man who resisted for more than a second was met with overpowering gunfire. Entire sections of Protosteel wall were demolished in moments as Arahu, Rapati, Hakara, Amaya, and Toa Nanui fired their Mag Cannons indiscriminately from the hip. Dozens of blast doors were closed and emergency bulkheads sealed in a desperate effort to stop Tantomile and her allies, but their luck held. Six or seven Cannons were trained on each obstruction until the way was clear again. Finally, at the end of a very long hallway, Tantomile could see a reinforced doorway. The label on it was too far away to see, and Tantomile’s vision was growing foggier by the minute. But she was certain this doorway led to the Cannon Control Room.

“Secure that intersection!” Tantomile ordered, “Fan out and kill everyone you meet!”

Breaking up into groups of six or seven, Tantomile’s invaders forced their way into every door, nook, and cranny. No mercy was shown to anyone found hidden away. There was no time to search the dead or loot the area. Tantomile’s forces quickly began to reconvene. Within minutes, Arahu had brought confirmation: This reinforced door led to the Cannon Control Room itself, and the command staff was inside.

At Tantomile's command, the huge force of invading lions gathered around the area, blocking off all three doors that led into the room. Amaya, Korova, Admetus, and Tumeric all helped their fellow soldiers bring forth breaching charges. The final assault was going to be overwhelming and brutal.

Tantomile pressed her ear to the reinforced door and listened. There was a male Partogan voice speaking inside.

“Ihanga, launch the marker beacon and note the time in the log. ‘Control room assaulted by Levakians. Escort still absent.’ Himona, get her a gun!”

Then a serene computerized voice spoke up from inside the Cannon Control Room:


“Weapon charging. 80% Capacity and rising. The Wrath Cannon will be ready to fire in 9 minutes.”

Tantomile stepped back from the door.

“Breach and clear!”

One! Two! Three sets of breaching charges detonated! Behind her, Tantomile felt a huge rushing of air as the blast door separated from the wall and fell to the floor. Then she heard voices on both sides yell:

“GRENADE!!”

The first blast nearly overwhelmed her, it was so close! Nearly twenty lions were killed instantly! Tantomile could have sworn she’d seen King Tumeric go down in the blast, but there was no time to count the dead! Tantomile screamed to her soldiers:

“For Levakia! For your families! For Asalele!”

The boarding party swarmed into the Cannon Control Room and into a brutal, body-crushing melee!

Pistols and knives flashed in the dim light! Claws and teeth sank into flesh, and the manes of many Levakians turned red with blood in the first few seconds, but the Felnas’ crew fought back intensely! Bodies began to pile up around the doors and in the middle of the room, but over the heads of the fighters, Tantomile could see her objective at long last:


“Weapon charging. 90% Capacity and rising. The Wrath Cannon will be ready to fire in 5 minutes.”

The Cannon Control Mainframe computer took up most of the back wall, and those ominous words were repeated across nearly a dozen screens. Crouching down near it and taking cover behind an overturned workbench were four Partogans Tantomile actually recognized. They had once been crew members of the same Ion Cannon Frigate Kendra had served aboard before her Royal Election. Tantomile didn’t have time to do anything with this information though.

She’d stood still for a second too long!


WHAM!

A Gauss Round hit Tantomile’s flank and sent her to the ground, hard! Amidst the chaos of moving feet, falling bodies and shell casings, the Empress focused more on standing up again rather than checking to see where she’d been shot. As she got back on all fours, she felt a Partogan hand grabbing the top of her head! Tantomile didn’t hesitate! Before the Felnas crew member could even raise his pistol, the white lioness was upon him! With one paw, Tantomile crushed the man’s gun-hand, and with the other, she pinned him to the ground by his chest! Then Tantomile opened her jaws wide and engulfed his entire skull! The sound of crunching bone and spurting blood filled Tantomile with new energy! The blinding pain in her side became a dull ache, and she charged into the main battle with a new kind of fury!

Around her, things were starting to go the way of the attackers! Overwhelmed by both drugged-up lions and the effects of radiation sickness, the crew of the Felnas was starting to give way to the crew of the Shieldbreaker 2.

King Admetus, Arahu, and Korova surged forth with a strike team from the left! Arahu grabbed a server bank with both hands and pulled it out of its frame, turning it into new cover for the Levakian attackers. Arahu was punished for his efforts by being shot nearly twenty times by the enemy, he collapsed on top of the low cover, and Korova braced his Slugthrower Rifle on Arahu’s body. Korova fired a blast that took out two defenders in one hit!

On Tantomile’s other side, Amaya, Hakara, Toa Nanui, and Rapati were tearing their way through Kendra’s old crewmates. Ihanga Waaka was the first to fall, she had gotten too close to Rapati’s bionic arm and he had crushed her throat while shooting her in the chest with his free hand. Tirowaru Himona had shot Toa Nanui in the shoulder, the Prison Warden’s return shot had been lethally accurate. Homai Kewhena, who had once come within a second of radically changing history, was floored by a seemingly battle-crazed Amaya; leaving Hakara to face Ourangi Pipiri alone. Kendra’s father was carrying an empty rifle, all rounds had been fired, and yet he was still dangerous! Ourangi was faster on the draw, shooting Hakara in the chest once before the Time Traveler was upon him! Hakara swung his rifle wildly, striking Ourangi over the head and knocking him to the ground… where a small metal object roughly the size of a playing card fell out of his hand… The Command Card!

Tantomile stopped everything she was doing and began fighting her way through the sea of melee fighters to reach the spot where she’s seen the Command Card fall. Hakara slumped against the Cannon Control Mainframe and slid to the floor, leaving a bloody trail for Tantomile to follow. She was right there! Her tail and flank were brushing up against the Mainframe computer! She could see the Command Card on the floor, between the legs of a slain lion. To her left, the screens flicked past!


“Weapon charging. 95% Capacity and rising. The Wrath Cannon will be ready to fire in 3 minutes.”

A Felnas crew member got in Tantomile’s way! The man grabbed Tantomile by her shoulders and held her in place! Panicking, Tantomile threw all of her hopes and desperation into a single thought, a frantic, last-ditch play! She reached out with one paw and focused all of her remaining willpower into the Psionic Amplifier strapped to her arm! Telekinetic energy rippled across the tiny little battlespace and enveloped the Command Card, and then it shot through the air, pulled by the power of Tantomile’s thoughts! The little metal card hit Tantomile’s paw and stuck to it as through it were magnetized!

And then…

“SHE’S HERE! SHE’S BEHIND US! THE PARADOX IS ATTACKING FROM BEHIND!!”

King Admetus’ voice carried over the battle and caused Tantomile’s heart to sink. A new noise was beginning to surge across the Cannon Control Room. It was like a rapidly approaching thunderstorm, or a tornado that had just touched down, or the storm surge of a powerful hurricane.

Akira was here. She was cutting through all of the fighters, Felnas and Shieldbreaker 2 alike. And Tantomile didn’t need to guess where she was going.

Tantomile slashed the man in front of her with her claws, then turned back to the computer and started to frantically jam the Command Card into the reader!


“Weapon charging. 98% Capacity and rising. The Wrath Cannon will be ready to fire in 1 minute.”

Tantomile dropped her weapon and focused her efforts entirely on the computer in front of her! She started to punch in the abort command when-

“AAAUUUGHHH!!”

Tantomile was shot a second time!

She whirled around to see Homai Kewhena, barely clinging to life, laying on the floor behind her and lining up his pistol for another shot at Tantomile’s back! She started to lunge at him, but Admetus and Amaya beat her to the punch. They descended on Homai with incredible, bloody violence, while Amaya screamed:

“Tanty! Go! Now’s your chance!!”

Tantomile returned to the computer and had barely put one paw on the keyboard when a massive wave of psionic energy rolled rough the battleground! Pain unlike anything Tantomile had ever felt before course through her body, more intense even that two fresh gunshot wounds! It took all of her strength and determination to remain on her feet! It took all of Tantomile’s focus to keep pressing keys even though the battlefield had fallen nightmarishly silent behind her. It took all of her remaining physical strength to lift her battered and irradiated paw and insert the Command Card into the reader.



Sys/ Weapon systems fully charged. The Wrath Cannon is ready to fire.
Cmd_usr/ Shutdow-



Tantomile never finished typing the word. She heard the footsteps behind her, but didn’t have time to react! A Telekinetic force grabbed the lioness around the middle and began to forcefully pull her away from the computer! Tantomile dug her claws into the machine and defiantly screamed:

“NO!”

Pulling with irresistible power, Akira separated Tantomile from the computer and threw her all the way across the room! Tantomile saw a sea of bodies beneath her before she hit the wall and crumpled to the floor! But there was no time to think, no time to plan! The Empress got back to her feet as quickly as possible, and she saw she wasn’t the only one to survive Akira’s first attack. Rapati, Amaya, King Admetus, and Korova were all still on their feet! They all had weapons drawn, and they formed one final wall, one last barrier between Akira and the Wrath Cannon! Standing shoulder to shoulder, the four fighters were battered, bloody, and visibly broken, but they weren’t dead yet, and when they saw Tantomile rising to her feet behind Akira, Tantomile noticed their sprits rising as well.

Akira the Paradox seemed to be sizing up her opponents. She flexed her arms and activated her Celestial Gauntlets, then she quietly said in Partogan:

“Get out of my way.”

When no one moved, she repeated the command in Levakian. Still nothing. Akira took a step forward, towards the computer and the four remaining fighters… and they all charged at her, while Tantomile pounced from behind!

Akira deflected Rapati with one arm and with the other, punched Admetus in the face! Some kind of powerful charge ran through his entire body and the great lion convulsed terribly before falling to the floor, dead. Tantomile sprang into the air and dove down towards the Paradox, who swept her hand through the air and blew Tantomile away as through she were a leaf caught in a strong wind! Tantomile hit the wall a lot harder this time and took a little longer to get up. Korova got around Akira’s side and pointed a Slugthrower rifle at the side of Akira’s head! She gave him the quickest of glances and the entire weapon exploded in Korova’s paws!

Rapati and Amaya attacked together while Tantomile closed the distance! Rapati grabbed Akira’s left arm and tried to crush the Celestial Gauntlet with his bionic arm! Akira activated the Gauntlet and a Shard Blade extended outwards, impaling Rapati in the chest! With his final moments, Rapati wrapped both of his arms around Akira and forced himself closer to her. Akira struggled and tried to pull herself away from him, not noticing Tantomile and Amaya both closing in around her!

Amaya got to Akira first! Unarmed, she got behind Akira and wrapped her right arm around the Paradox’s throat!

“This is for Nya, you monster!” Amaya shrieked, squeezing as tightly as she could!

Then, a second later, Tantomile reached Akira, reared up to her full height and raised one paw, claws extended, and started to deliver the killer blow!

Akira got one hand free and reached up behind her. Amaya’s entire body burst into flames! Enveloped in the white-hot inferno, Amaya released Akira and began to roll around on the floor, screaming until her breath was gone and her body lay still! Akira deactivated her Shard Blade, allowing Rapati’s corpse to fall to the floor, and then side-stepped Tantomile’s attack!

Tantomile’s claws raked the front of Akira’s body, slashing her breast and belly! Akira screamed as her white shirt was finally stained with her own blood. The Paradox staggered backwards and looked up at Tantomile. For half-a-second, Tantomile’s purple eyes stared deep into Akira’s blue ones. The white lioness saw the Paradox’s fury turn into rage.

They lunged at each other! Akira went high, Tantomile went low! Striking the Paradox in the belly, Tantomile took the wind out of Akira and pushed her all the way to the floor! Landing on her back in between two piles of bodies, blood splattered everywhere and stained Akira’s entire outfit! Tantomile landed on top of Akira, opened her mouth wide, and closed her vice-like jaws around Akira’s chin and neck!

And then… pain. Unimaginable, incomprehensible PAIN surged through Tantomile’s body as she was stabbed! Then she was stabbed a second time!

Akira had pressed both of her Celestial Gauntlets to Tantomile’s chest and belly and had activated the Shard Blades! Tantomile fought viciously to maintain her vice grip on Akira’s throat, but the Paradox retracted her Shard Blades and then extended them again, stabbing Tantomile a third and fourth time! Tantomile’s body didn’t obey her commands anymore. Her grip slackened, her legs gave out… and she finally collapsed. Using Telekinesis, Akira pushed Tantomile’s limp body to one side and stood up.

Tantomile could feel her heart thundering frantically! She could sense every drop of blood and adrenaline coursing through her body as she began to crawl across the blood-soaked floor, between the bodies. Gasping and panting for every breath, Tantomile traced Akira’s bloody footprints and followed her back towards the Cannon Control Mainframe.

Desperate, Tantomile panted and yelled at Akira:

“Stop. Stop! Don’t do this!”

Ahead of her, Akira was completely drenched in blood. When she turned back to look at Tantomile, the Empress understood why Sebakhira had once described her as a “nightmare.” The look Akira gave Tantomile would cause most deep-space Leviathans to cower with fear.

“I have to.” Akira said quietly, but forcefully. “The future depends on it. This is the only way.”

“Like hell it is!” Tantomile spat from the floor. “Nothing good comes from eleven million people being murdered!”

“The future won’t be perfect without this!” Akira shouted. “You don’t know what you’re talking about!”

“Perfect!?” Tantomile would have laughed if she wasn’t in so much pain. “Don’t be an idiot. You can’t build a perfect future on a mountain of bodies and rubble.”

“You’re wrong.” Akira hissed. “When I’m done, trillions of people across the Galaxy will be safe and happy. I’m saving the future for everyone!”

Tantomile scoffed and tried to crawl again, but her legs no longer responded.

“And how many people would want to live in a future built on the graves of untold millions of innocents?”

“How many would even know?” Akira retorted. “How many would care?”

“You and me.” Tantomile answered.

The Paradox picked up a Gauss Pistol from the floor.

“No.” she said. “Just me.”

Akira took aim and fired! Tantomile felt the bullet enter her neck, and the pain alone nearly overwhelmed her. With each second, her vision got foggier, the sound became softer and tinny. Tantomile knew it was over, but that didn’t mean she would give up here at the end. Putting one paw in front of the other, Tantomile dragged herself through the blood and the bodies. She couldn’t look up anymore, her head… didn’t seem to be working right. Akira’s feet were just out of reach… and the river of blood leaving Tantomile’s neck felt warm and soft, as did this floor… Tantomile was so sleepy… and the room as getting darker now… as though Tantomile was going down a tunnel… a tunnel with no light at either end… she was so… so sleepy now, and putting one paw in front of the other was such hard work. She just needed to rest, just for a moment. There was a sound... a soothing, relaxing voice… like a melody, or a lullaby… Tantomile let out a deep, rattling sigh as the serene voice lulled the last vestiges of her consciousness away…



Weapon systems fully charged. The Wrath Cannon is ready to fire. Commencing primary ignition.

Weapon engaged.

Commencing surface delivery.

Surface impact confirmed.

Surface temperature fifteen-twenty-three and climbing.

Estimated immediate casualties: Ninety-eight percent.

Surface temperature seventeen-forty-two and stable.

Standby for planetary destruction in ten…

nine…

eight…

seven…

six…

five…

four…

three…

two…

one…








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Last edited:

HistoryDude

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This ended on a cliffhanger...

I’m assuming Queen Kendra and the people still at Aoraki will engage Akira in Chapter 6?

Is the next chapter coming in July or August?
 

Macavity116

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I’m assuming Queen Kendra and the people still at Aoraki will engage Akira in Chapter 6?

Is the next chapter coming in July or August?

Yup. That's the only part of the story left to resolve. Chapter Six will focus on Kendra's post-climax confrontation with Akira.

Just like the final chapter of After Everything, the last chapter of Faith in Chaos will be posted 2 to 3 days after it's finished. Considering the final chapter of After Everything took me almost a month to put together, I'll say that the end of Faith in Chaos will occur anytime between tomorrow and mid-July. (No later than the 15th.)
 

stnylan

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Now, maybe it is because I am stubborn, but part of me is entirely unsure of how much we have just read actually happened, or will happened, or is happening, or may have happened but may end up not happening in certain other oddities come to pass.

As an aside, during the fight for some reason I began to visualise Tantomile's fighting like a Dwarf Fortress combat log.
 

Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
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Mar 1, 2018
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archiveofourown.org
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Stellaris: Federations
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Stellaris: Lithoids
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
Now, maybe it is because I am stubborn, but part of me is entirely unsure of how much we have just read actually happened, or will happened, or is happening, or may have happened but may end up not happening in certain other oddities come to pass.

As an aside, during the fight for some reason I began to visualise Tantomile's fighting like a Dwarf Fortress combat log.

I'm sorry to confirm that the events of Chapter 5.5 did indeed happen. Empress Tantomile, Amaya, Hakara, Admetus, Tumeric, Rapati, Arahu, Toa Nanui, and Korova are all dead. Asalele is destroyed, along with the largest and most detailed collection of knowledge about Akira and her exploits. Not to mention the loss of 11 million innocent lives.

The heroes lost and Akira won... but the story isn't over yet. There's one chapter left to go.



I did a Google search for "Dwarf Fortress combat log" out of curiosity, and I got sucked down a deep rabbit hole. I have to admit, Dwarf Fortress seems pretty cool, and the story of its creation and the people behind it is just as interesting.