Monday, June 18, 2018

Death By 1000 Cuts -- Wormhole Edition

AAR: Colorful RP fan fiction of a Paladin gank. I know I'm a super nerd, but sometimes I just like going over the top on stuff. Its my blog, try and stop me.

TLDR: hyperlink

 The immortal Captain Aurum paced the spacious bridge of his Paladin class Marauder. He was getting more anxious by the second. It was taking too long, he silently cursed himself. Were the reports of combat probes true? When he commanded his first officer to verify the report, the first officer simply said, 'They are gone now, may have been a fluke". Incompetent fool. Gritting his teeth, the Captain communicated his location to fleet at the station, just in case.
   The crew of the Paladin were deep in an uncharted system clearing it of its ancient inhabitants. The mission was simple. Destroy the aliens who resided in this section of space and return. The crew had scanned out a cluster of strange ancient aliens and set about process of extermination and collection. The data clusters collected from the wreckage would fetch a fair amount of ISK on the open market. The aliens, sleepers, as they were referred to, were not without their own defenses. Heavily armored and just as heavily armed would attack any ship that violated what they felt was theirs. The dangers were amplified only because these sleepers resided. They were ruthless, mechanical in thought and action, this made them predictable and within reach of a crafty individual with the guts to go to them and pry their data from their destroyed carcasses.
      To amplify the danger, the targeted sleepers only resided in maelstrom of J-space. A lawless space of isolated star systems only connected to real space through thousands unstable wormholes who's location was as infrequent nature made them impossible to navigate for any great length of time. These J-space star systems were colonized by immortal pilots who enjoyed the isolation and the stealth provided by a space without registered communication. They used this lack of communication between each other to hide, but a rarer few used it to hunt their fellow immortal pilots.
    These hunters, many who followed their own god of chaos they called Bob, were what Captain Aurum feared most. The sleepers were predictable, dangerous to be sure, but predictable. The mind of an immortal hunter, was not. Captain Aurum wasn't without tools for his protection. He had used his extensive knowledge of these random wormhole mechanics to bring its connections to unknown dangerous connections that may harbor these hunters to a critical degree of unsuitability by jumping a specific amount of mass through the connection.  Any ship passing through it, may close the wormhole behind them, effectively trapping that ship on one side permanently, until the twisted maze of connections might take it back to once it came. The trapped ship would be without support and of no threat to Captain Aurum and his paladin. Or so he thought.

    Captain Spear cared not for harvesting the ancient aliens when he approached the wormhole connection.  He had just scanned down just another signature among hundreds that week. All didn't provide what he was desperately seeking.
    Using his covert ops Anethema, he was able to make incredibly quick scans of systems, disregarding useless gas signatures, even less useful sleeper civilization clusters and quickly finding connections to other wormholes. His target wasn't ancient civilizations or even harvesting the vast resources provided in such an isolated section of J-space. He was hunting immortals, just like himself. To offer their brief fantastic explosions to his fickle god, for no other reason than the challenge hunting such an illusive prey could provide.
    Captain Spear had come across something out of the ordinary directly connected to his home system. An incoming connection out of the norm his home system received. A quick view on his NAV computer revealed the wormhole he had just found was highly unstable and critical. Something had done this. Something big had brought this gift from Bob to this unstable state. Opportunity for another offering to Bob may just be on the other side of this wormhole.
    Licking his greasy lips he made a silent inner prayer to his uncaring god of chaos, "May my explosion and offering of blood, please you and bring me fortune". Risk was part of the job and nothing ventured nothing gained some one said. Weighing what maybe a one way trip from his current destination and fleet support. Faith in Bob should never be questioned. His small craft would hardly alter the critical state of this connection to the unknown. He piloted his small one man vessel into the wormhole. Lets take a peek and see what Bob has given me.
     The sound of the shift from one system of J-space to another thundered around him, the connection held. Quickly hitting his 360 directional scan, specifically tuned to find other ships and the wrecks of the sleepers they may be harvesting, reviled evidence of other pilots in the system.
   Smashing down the communication button, "Wrecks on Scan! Paladin times 2, Mobile Tractor times 6, Salvaging Destroyer!" "The connection is critical, get to delta hole in destroyers or smaller!" "Wolf-Rayet Star". The call to his fellow hunters silenced the nonsensical banter typically enjoyed in the off time between kills. This was why the hunters were here, for that sudden burst of adrenaline that only hunting an immortal could provide. Bob had gifted us with a challenge.

     Standing at the private shipyards of the fleet quickly selected the correct ships for the operation. The puzzle was less than simple. The target was Paladin class Marauder, known for its unique ability to temporarily transform itself from a space craft into an immobile weapons platform. Completely immune to electronic counter measures, temporarily providing additional defensive capabilities and making it a tough nut to crack in the best of situations.
   The hunter fleet did have one advantage over the cumbersome marauder, it had speed. With expert piloting a small craft could quickly orbit the battle ship while its tremendous cannons failed to apply damage on such a quick target. The marauder wasn't without options. The battleship had a flights of unmanned drones it could use to out run a small ship attempting this tight orbit maneuver. Though the marauder couldn't track the small craft, the drone could easily. There would be casualties.
    Captain Tota and Captain Saken selected a tactical destroyers, an Amarr confessor and Gallente Haecate. Superb space craft each, with tried and true crew. Their crews needed to be elite to fly the fickle spacecraft capable of transforming itself mid flight into essentially 3 different specialized platforms. Captain Raalei brought a fearsome assault frigate which was designed in the Minmatar ship yards. Minmatar technology was one that favored function over form. How that lunatic Raalei kept that ball of welded metal and bonding cement from coming apart in warp, should be studied. Finally, one Captain Brannigan, who had sacrificed so much to Bob in the past, that he could only accompany us in a Caldari Caracal cruiser. Its missile systems were an asset, but his ships shield defenses would be less than useful in the Wolf-Rayet system. Captain Brennigan didn't care, his crew was expendable, he was immortal!
    The marauder did have one tremendous weakness perhaps ignored by the people who designed it, it was highly susceptible to energy neutralization warfare. The marauder pulled tremendous amounts of power from its critical systems to fire its weapons and repair combat damage. Without power, the marauder was vulnerable. The problem was, nothing in the small group of ships selected for the mission could provide the tremendous energy neutralization needed to cripple the marauder. The call went out for a bold pilot with nothing to lose but his ship. "Bring the Bhaalgorn".

    In the deeper reaches of the Fortizar class Citadel while the fleet was forming, Captain Lomax was walking down a hall toward a ship only a madman would pilot, let alone command. It was necessary for the safety of population of the Citadel to moor some spacecraft in isolated hangers. Often times, cutting edge technology would be a hazard to those around them. This was not the reason for this ships isolation. Its reason for isolation from other crews and staff, were entirely outside the realm of science.
      The final seal broken on the 7th door of the 7th compartment. The smell of death came hissing through the airlock of the hanger. Captain Lomax waited patiently as the hanger door screeched open to reveal a floating battleship hovering in the anti gravity mooring chamber. Its hull drenched in blood, perhaps new, perhaps old, likely both. Looking down to the left of the staircase he saw the blood drained body of some unlucky dock worker still clutching its neck in a vain attempt to claw the blood back into its body. He'd been warned, but often times curiosity for the forbidden draws in scholar and fool alike. Their fate is always the same. 
    Before purchasing this space craft from a station full of ship slavers, this was the only information found. "Named after a child-devouring demon of Amarrian legend, the Bhaalgorn is the pride and joy of the Blood Raider cabal. Though it is known to be based on an Armageddon blueprint, the design's origin remains shrouded in mystery. Those of a superstitious persuasion whisper in the dark of eldritch ceremonies and arcane rituals, but for most people, the practical aspect of the matter will more than suffice: you see one of these blood-red horrors looming on the horizon, it's time to make yourself scarce. (historical reference)
    Inside the spacecraft it was much much worse than its bloody exterior. The stories were true, the ship was powered the same as standard craft its was based on, but something else was at work on this mysterious ship. A dark force, a force not of science but a force of horror. Its crew were cultists and priests of this dark cabal. Their technological understanding of the ships inner workings were only matched by their ritualistic desire to feed the ship and the ship was always hungry. This ship was their outlet to their god, their conduit to the evil which made this space craft special. Captain Lomax didn't care, nothing mattered to him other than pleasing his own god, a god that didn't need blood, that god needed only explosions and if this Bhaalgorn and its evil crew were the explosion called upon, so be it. Captain Lomax was immortal.
     Captain Lomax ignored the smell, stepped over the bodies of the crew, brushed off the drained limbs of the former first officer from the Captains chair and plugged himself in. The executive staff was a mix of clergy, engineers and what could only be described as a doctor specializing in quickly pulling blood from the willing and unwilling alike. The staff was loyal to its Captain, what they did to make the ship work was simply their business. He didn't ask because knowing the answer would only bring madness. The ship undocked and with a thought, he was in warp to connection Delta.

     Captain Spear managed to launch his combat probes off of the directional scan of the Paladin. Then arrange his probes remotely before launching them, narrowing their search pattern to a minimum, with maximum effect and efficiency. The idea was to not spook the target and give target ship cause to run until the fleet was on top of it. One quick warp of the combat probes and the exact location of the marauder was found, Captain Spear quickly recalled his probes seconds later. With a little luck, the target ship wouldn't see them. Captain Spear warped to a location 100k from the last known location of the Marauder. Captain Spear was just kilometers from his fleets target. He gave the command to form up on Delta connection.
    The hunter fleet rendezvous on the critical Delta connection. The traverse would be simple. Jump the small craft through the critical wormhole first, in hopes that these small ships mass would not close the wormhole before the huge Bhaalgorn was able to close the connection with is bulk. All this would be for not if the Delta connection was so critical to only allow just a couple small craft through and close before the battleship could skirt in. Stranding small ships without the support of the battleship only to watch their target leave.
     "Assault Frigate Jump!", the pile of angular metal reached the event horizon and disappeared. The connection remained.  "Destroyers Jump!", both of the larger ships disappeared into the quivering nexus. Still the connection remained. "Cruiser Jump!", the Caracal and its rookie crew approached and disappeared. A collective silence swept over the fleet as the Bhaal waited its turn. Would the connection remain? " YES! Bob wants to see us die this day" Captain Lomax shouted. The Bhaalgorn lumbered through the critical hole and collapsed it behind the battleship. The beast was in, and it was hungry.

    Aboard the Paladin marauder still pacing on the bridge an anxious Captain Aurum was monitoring the destruction of the final sleeper. "Sir! Wolf on directional!". "Hecate, Confessor and"... long pause... " a Caracal?" A look of confusion across his face.
    "Damn it!" Captain Aurum exclaimed, how did they get in this system there are no new connections. One of his subordinates must have failed in their duty to critical mass the connecting wormholes. They insubordinate swine will be punished for this, if we live, they won't for much longer.
    "How long till we can warp?" Captain Aurum screamed. "The siege module is still active sir, we can't move!" responded the NAV station.
     "These tiny craft are no match for the power of a bastioned marauder" he stated with confidence. Then he remembered that intel report he chose to ignore earlier in the day. This was a Wolf-Rayet Star system, a system enhanced by heavy elements, depleted hydrogen and strong strong stellar winds, nonsense to the untrained, but the effect on small weapons would be amplified. Worse, the signature of space craft would be much smaller, making his primary cannons useless vs a small moving target. He knew he was in trouble.
    "Coms, place a call to our support fleet, we need help".

   The smaller craft of the hunters were much faster than the Bhaalgorn and made it to the target long before the battleship arrived. They would need to deactivate the warp drive of the marauder and keep the ship there until the Bhaalgorn could land. Captain ordered his ship to warp to the designated target. His NAV station, which doubled as a butchers table of sorts, was a mess with parts of some kind of creature, hopefully not sentient. The NAV station officer adjusted the destination into the computer and stopped moments before to nibble on a severed finger he had pocketed ealier that day. Making the critical mistake and warping to the incorrect spacial bookmark. 100k from the target.  Captain Lomax thought to himself, "Fool, if he wasn't already damned I'd flay the skin from his bones, if I though he wouldn't enjoy it". "letting him live longer should be his punishment".

   The word "Bhaalgorn" uttered from the first officers mouth had never had the gut wreching effect as strongly as it did on Captain Aurum that day. He'd heard of the legendary spacecraft before, never giving the option of owning or flying the ship a second thought. They didn't specialize in the collection of unthinking ancient aliens, so why should he care. Knowing full well its potential to cripple his marauder he instantly knew it was a threat much greater than the small craft that had disabled his warp drive preventing escape. If this Bhaalgorn does to him, what he fears is possible, he's in greater trouble than previously estimated.
   But why is it so far from him. The deadly Bhaalgorn should be right on top for maximum effect of its weapon systems and energy neutralizing. This was the marauders weakness, these hunters were no fools, but they may have just given me the opportunity for escape.

  The hunter fleet coms were a blaze of combat jargon and screams of g-force pinned crew-mates as they made their tight orbit on the marauder. Pinned to their chairs as they orbit the massive craft. The marauders cannons firing meters behind them as the smaller ships out tracked the cannons.
     "Warp drive disabled!""Marauder targeting me with drones!""Shoot those drones damn it""I've just lost shields"'I've just lost my armor""My ships on fire!!" "Aww shut up Raalie, your ship was on fire before you even got here, you fly Minmatar!""Its on fire more than usual!!"I'm coming apart!" There was glee in his voice as his crew manned their stations for one last time.
    On fire, only structure keeping the ships together, their critical systems pressed beyond their factory specifications by over heating the pilots were in the figurative area between reality and Valhalla, their dream of being seen by their god Bob, moments from coming true. That razors edge  where pushing it one way or another means certain death for themselves and their crews. The hunter fleet couldn't be happier.

  Aboard the Paladin there was a different outlook. One of desperation crept over the crew. The crew knew what to do, but events were closer to having a grim outcome more than positive. Captain Aurum had one last trick up his sleeve. He had installed a weapon system rarely used outside of very specialized instances. A point-blank area-of-effect weapon, when fired doing damage to everything in a very short radius. These small ships orbiting and avoiding his cannons would either need to break off their assault or be destroyed. Either outcome would be fine in his book. Hunter scum.
   The only draw back of this weapon system was the tremendous power it took to activate. It was worth it for the chance to escape.
   Wave after way erupted from the point-blank weapon system, he was damaging something at first, but the small craft still maintained the tight orbit needed to disable his warp systems.
   The tactical officer conveyed to Captain Aurum, "We were having effect at first but the attackers have altered their tight orbit to outside our point-blank fire effect."
    "Blast! where's that support fleet !!!?!" Captain Aurum shouted. Silence came over the coms system.
    A reluctant engineer eyed the Captain before giving his report. "Sir," swallowing hard "the Bhaalgorn has begun applying its heavy energy neutralizers". Silence fell over the bridge.

   After the slow creep from the wrong NAV point to the target, the Bhaalgorn was finally doing what it was designed to do, drain. The command was given to begin energy neutralizing the marauder. The crew chanted and begun unspeakable rituals that seemed to share the same rhythm as the energy weapon systems. The darkness kept within this ship was awakening and being unleashed on the marauder. Screams of the stock of slaves could be heard as they gave their lives to the rituals. In areas of the ship that didn't have sufficient slaves, crew men and women gleefully injected themselves with blood draining needles and ejection tanks, watching as their own life force was sprayed across the weapon systems. Happily serving the ship and their cabal.
   Captain Lomax sent over the coms "Marauder empty". The marauders precious energy systems was as dry as the slaves that powered the weapons that took them. Captain Lomax grinning, looked to his attentive tactical officer who wasn't grinning back.
    "Sir, the murauders support fleet has been spotted". Captain Lomax relayed the information to the fleet. "Guadian x3, Pontifex, Proteus , Sacrilege, Ashimmu,..... Bhaalgorn". The color fled from his face.
   "OVER HEAT EVERYTHING!!" Captain Tota shouted. Cannons hissed, capacitors ruptured in a desperate attempt to cause the explosion they all so desperately came to create, but would it be enough?

     The bridge of the Paladin marauder were on fire. Bodies of crew lying all around, but still the marauders held together. Its defenses starved of power and unable to operate from the Bhaalgorns energy draining weapons. The rescue fleet was in warp and moments from assisting them.

With blood trickling out of the corner of the first officers mouth, giving his last report. "Sir, there isn't any power left, the fleet is landing in moments". "But the bastion module is locked in place, the rescue fleet can't repair our systems with it on, what do we do?!"

Captain Aurum stood up from his chair and calmly walked to his personal escape pod. "Well, you die".
    Suddenly the automatic ejections system took over and shunted the Captain violently into the egg shaped ejection pod. His spaced crew of thousands, floating lifelessly in the wreckage around him.

Blood for Bob.

 A video of the AAR



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