PDA

View Full Version : Let's Play Mecha Ace: The Vedrian War



Pages : 1 [2]

Fri
2015-08-07, 07:09 PM
Huh, so we retreat from Verdia Prime just like that. Pretty anticlimatic, but understandable. I guess it could've been much worse.

And my choice are.

* I think that keeping the civilians safe should be our top priority. I'm glad we're doing it.

And... I think talking with Hawkins might be a charisma check, and we just don't have charisma for it. So.

#Attack Hawkins and order my lance to deal with his escort.

I'm pretty sure we can defeat him relatively easily now, with him still using his old mech (that we defeated with our old one) and we're in a brand new prototype now.

CoreBrute23
2015-08-08, 01:45 AM
# I think that protecting the civilians is just part of our job as soldiers.

#Attack Hawkins and order my lance to deal with his escort.

Let's hope our Lance isn't too beaten up from the last fight.

pendell
2015-08-09, 04:41 PM
There are only two votes so voting is extended until Monday, 5:30 PM, tomorrow. Hope to see you then!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2015-08-10, 07:05 AM
* I think that keeping the civilians safe should be our top priority. I'm glad we're doing it.

That seems consistant with the stated (and re stated in front of Hawkins) motive for our character of fighting to protect.

#Attack Hawkins and order my lance to deal with his escort.

Hawkins meet semi automatic gun. I'm honnestly not sure we'll get him again that easily, as I already said, we hit him last time with trick shots he's unlikely to fall for again, but the new prototype weapon could proove quite the advantage if he's not expecting it.

pendell
2015-08-10, 05:56 PM
We have a consensus:

51) Protecting civilians is our top priority. I'm glad we're doing it.
52) Attack Hawkins, ordering our lance to deal with his escort.


#52 is probably a good decision. We saw how efficiently he dispatched Asadi last time, and the rest of our lance probably wouldn't be much better. We'd probably wind up killing each other's seconds and be back in the position of fighting each other -- but with less ammunition on our side.

This changes our stats:
Warrior: 66 Diplomat: 34
Deliberation: 98 Passion: 2


What's this? A flicker of emotion in our T-1000's makeup? :smallamused:



You push your throttles forward, surging ahead of your lance's formation.

"Alright, Eternal Vigi- Lance, I'm engaging the lead machine, you guys take the others."

"Boss! You're going to engage the Blue Masque by yourself?" Eternal Vigi--Four seems worried, just because you held your own against the famed enemy ace once doesn't mean you can do it a second time.

Your subordinate will get nowhere by objecting, though. Your mind is made up.

"Absolutely. Keep the escorts off my back; I'll deal with Hawkins."

A second later, your lance-mates acknowledge your orders and break off. You, on the other hand, continue to push forward towards the Imperial ace. Hawkins's escorts break from their own formation, moving to engage your subordinates. As far as you're concerned, the battlefield consists solely of you and your Imperial counterpart.



Vote 53:
How do you plan on fighting this duel?

* I'll engage Hawkins from long range.

* I'll battle Hawkins up close.

* I'll call in fire-support from the CALIBURN and fight defensively until help arrives.


Respectfully,

Brian P.

Legato Endless
2015-08-10, 06:04 PM
Attack from long range

Calling in fire support is a nice nod toward our pragmatism, but it's really a handout towards characters who don't have a good combat stat. Our sniping skill is maxed as far as we've had opportunity to level it, so let's kick his ass.

Fri
2015-08-10, 06:15 PM
Attack from long range.

As Smuchmuch said, Hawkins, meet semi-automatic laser rifle :smallcool:.

CoreBrute23
2015-08-10, 11:22 PM
Attack from Long Range.

Let's keep Caliburn's support fire as our ace in the hole, in case things go worse.

smuchmuch
2015-08-11, 08:55 AM
Support fire from the Calliburn

Fighting fair is for suckers.

pendell
2015-08-12, 05:03 PM
We're going to take him from long range.



You pull out your particle rifle and aim at the incoming Imperial ace, pulling your own machine back as you do. The enemy pilot senses your intentions almost immediately and his steady, rapid advance turns into an erratic dance, each pulse of the battle's beat bringing your opponent closer.

You aim as best you can at the charging Imperial ace and open fire.

Two bolts of blue light shoot forth from the muzzle of the Lionheart's rifle in quick succession. The first grazes your target's side, blasting a deep gouge of vaporised ceramic and melted metal. The second hits the VALLIER Custom's left vernier pod dead on. A series of secondary explodes tear through the side of the enemy machine as its thruster sub-systems go critical.

Hawkins's machine is sent tumbling towards you. The Imperial machine is stricken but still deadly, and the skilled pilot at the controls seems to still be fully intent on putting his infinitely sharp monosaber through your machine's armored hull.

You adjust your aim quickly and fire a third shot. This time, your shot punches through the VALLIER Custom's thruster module. The enemy machine's main thruster nozzles blow out bursts of blue flame then go silent.

The VALLIER custom drifts towards you, crippled and barely capable of moving, its monosaber poised in front of it in a defensive stance.

You have the upper hand.


This seems to be working well; we fought him to a standstill with the MANNINGHAM; now that we have a more powerful craft with a rate of fire, the balance seems to be decisively tipped.



You draw your plasma cutter and prepare to strike the finishing blow on the Imperial ace's machine.

Your machine lunges forward but it appears that the Imperial mecha isn't quite as crippled as you thought. Hawkins shifts aside at the last moment. The blade of your plasma cutter shears easily through the thin armor of the VALLIER Custom but the attack only tears off a thin strip of armor.

The Imperial ace continues to evade your strikes until finally, you manage to time a stroke of your blade just right and you hit the enemy machine with a great cut into its side. In the space of an instant, the Vallier Custom's limbs go dead. You've cut the cockpit's connection to the machine's main power supply. Hawkins is now immobilized, disarmed—

Defenseless.

"I must commend you on a battle well-fought, pilot." the Imperial says, surprisingly calm considering how close he must know his machine is to destruction. "I concede defeat this time. I shall leave you the remnants of my machine as a trophy. Dispose of it as you wish." The enemy ace smiles, graceful in defeat. "I look forward to meeting you again in our next battle."

The Imperial machine's torso opens up and a small, metal egg shoots out from its back: an escape pod. Before you can react, one of the other Imperial machines grabs the small object and beats a hasty retreat. Your lance forms up around you, having apparently reduced the other three machines in the Imperial lance to wreckage.

"Boss?" Asadi's voice seems almost in awe as he stares at you through the comm screen. "Did you just beat the [word filter] out of the Blue Masque?"

Yeah, looks like you did.


We got 'em! Unfortunately, like any good villain, he had a getaway plan. At least we've got his machine and his monosaber.



As your lance begins its way back, you dial in your carrier's comm signature and open a channel.

"This is Eternal Vigi--Lead, reporting in, CALIBURN. Do you copy?"

A moment later, Watanabe's face appears on the comm screen. "We copy, Eternal Vigi--Lead, report."

"Contacts confirmed to be Imperial combat armatures led by the Blue Masque. We've dealt with them."

Watanabe pauses, shocked for a moment. Maybe the kid never heard about your previous run-in with the infamous Imperial pilot. Excitedly, the kid turns to relay the information to the Captain behind him. He turns back a moment later with a more sober expression. "How many losses did you take?"

You shake your head and grin. "We've suffered zero losses."

The bridge controller's face is incredulous. "Against the Blue Masque? How did you manage that?"

You reply with your most confident grin. "I beat him in single combat, what did you expect?"

"Oh," the kid replies, sheepishly, as if he had been expecting you to deal with the problem in a more needlessly convoluted manner than simply facing the enemy in battle.


Reputation: 85




Watanabe types for a few seconds, copying down the basics of your report. When the teenager looks back up, his expression has returned to a newly learned, blank neutrality. "Do you have anything else to report?"

You nod. "Yeah. I guess you could say that we got a souvenir."

The kid looks over his shoulder for a second, his expression growing rapidly uncomfortable. After a second, you see why, as Captain Baelyn pushes the young volunteer aside and looks at you directly from the comm screen. Apparently, your exchange has piqued her interest as well.

"What kind of souvenir, Lieutenant Commander?"

You patch the feed from your main display into the communications console, giving the other end a good look at the battered remains of Hawkins's VALLIER Custom floating in space right in front of your machine.

Watanabe's jaw hits the floor. You can even swear that you see Captain Baelyn's eyes widen in shock. "Military intelligence is going to have a field day with this," you hear her whisper. Then, louder, "Get that thing back to the CALIBURN then report back to your patrol circuit. You're not due to be relieved for another five hours."

You nod and offer a weary salute as you order your machine to grab the abandoned mecha of your Imperial counterpart. You still have a long way to go before you can rest.


INTERLUDE 2




Colonial Warship CALIBURN

Sixteen Hours Later


You wake up from your detox cycle just in time to see the CALIBURN reach Crown Station.

Your quarters have no windows—few purpose-built warships do. What it does have are a set of screens linked to sensors on the outside of the hull, allowing you to see the distant shape of the massive space fortress as the CALIBURN approaches it.

Crown Station is what is called an "O'Neill Cylinder", a pair of massive counter-rotating cylinders, each possessing their own atmosphere, each eight kilometers in diameter and nearly fifty kilometers long. Inside those rotating artificial cocoons of metal and glass live hundreds of thousands of military personnel and millions of their civilian dependents.

Around the mass of the station are specks of light and metal, dwarfed by the fleet base's immense size. Only when the CALIBURN draws closer do those points of light coalesce into shapes—a vast, motley flotilla of armed freighters, hastily converted passenger liners, and courier ships sporting improvised armor. In the midst of them are a half-dozen lean, gunmetal-gray vessels of an entirely different breed, captured Imperial cruisers and purpose-built warships, constructed since the start of the war.

The fleet is here.

The CALIBURN begins its final approach, slowly drifting towards the massive, blocky docking module placed in the center of the station where the two cylinders meet. Far beyond, you can see a dot of pulsating, shimmering purple—the entrance into the Vedrian wormhole and the only point of entry from the Imperial-controlled core worlds into CoDEC's major systems.

The wormhole is the reason why CoDEC must make its stand here, why the fleet has been dispatched in all of its strength. If Crown Station falls, the Imperials will control the wormhole—they will be able to launch attacks directly at the homeworlds of the rebellion.

The course of the war may be decided by the battle for this station.



We are boarding the station.



A few minutes later, after the Caliburn has docked, your door opens to reveal a pair of fully armored marines. Without giving you a clue as to their purpose or intentions, they tacitly usher you out of your quarters, off the ship, onto the station's docking module, and onto a waiting mag-lev track transit cab.

The transit car takes you into one of the cylinders of the station. From there, you can see the full extent of the world built inside this massive hollow shape, one which is still so tiny in the grand cosmic scale.

You have been on enough space colonies in your life to no longer be nonplussed by the strange incongruities of being on such structures but the feeling of "wrongness" still picks at your mind as you look out the window at the gentle, upward curve of the "ground", of the wispy condensation of formative clouds sitting in the center of the cylindrical world, of the inside surface of the cylinder, the massive strips of kilometer-wide glass in the colony's shell, from which you can see the blackness of space, the distant running lights of the CoDEC fleet, and for a brief moment, the cold, sterile light of Vedria's distant primary star.

The oddest sensation of all, of course, is the knowledge that despite the nearly windless conditions outside the glass and metal shell of the transit car, and the solidity of the cab's floor under your service boots, the entire habitat module is slowly rotating, just fast enough to generate the centrifugal force that must replace gravity so far from any planet or moon.

It's still an odd sensation, knowing that almost every condition needed for life to survive and thrive has been recreated out here, in the depths of an empty, airless void. The entire station around you has been created by humans, not nature.

Even so, the past five years of war have destroyed so much ingenuity, so much labor of mind and body. The station you are in, which likely took decades to build, might be destroyed in the course of a single day.




Vote 54:
What're your thoughts on that?

#If only we could stop destroying the things other people have built….

#Conflict leads to progress. It's the reason why we have such power in the first place.

#I don't really care either way.





Two more marines are waiting for you on the platform. The quartet of armed guards form a box around you as they direct you through a pair of security checkpoints. The marines show their identification and submit to body scans each time, even though they are in uniform. Wherever you're going, it is protected by the strictest of security.

Your escort takes you across a square, paved roadway packed with groundcars painted government-issue gray. Guards stand at every corner, in full body armor, their rifles at the ready. At the other side of the courtyard sits a low, blocky building painted in the same gray as the vehicles parked in front of it. The edifice stands like a fortress, covered with solid walls and intimidating protrusions of reinforced neocrete. The emblem of the CoDEC military hangs, shining and newly installed, over the recessed entrance.

There's another security checkpoint at the door. You notice that these marines aren't wearing shoulder flashes bearing the crossed rifles and anchor of the fleet, but the quill and scales of the administrative branch, the emblem of people in charge of promotions, reassignments, military intelligence, and court-martials.

You are led down a set of long corridors. After a while, each hallway starts blending into another—a long sequence of featureless gray walls, tiled granite floors and harsh fluorescent lights.

Finally, your guards stop you at a thick, metal door, watched over by yet another pair of guards. After several seconds exchanging their identification, the door opens and you are directed through.

Your guards stay outside.


Uh-oh. Sounds like a security interview.



The room is small—barely enough to fit a stark metal table and two chairs. On the other side of the table sits a heavy-set, balding man with the rank pins of a fleet captain and a darting, suspicious gaze which marks him more clearly as a military intelligence officer than any shoulder flash. You automatically snap to attention as the door closes behind you.

"Lieutenant Commander," the man begins. "This debriefing is top-secret. Nothing you say or hear in this room may be repeated to anyone outside of it, under pain of judicial sanction, is that clear?"

You nod. A thin, tight-lipped smile appears on the intelligence officer's face. He pulls out a tiny, spherical object the size of a blueberry from his pocket and sets it on the table. "Begin recording", the debriefing officer says. In response, the drone jumps up into the air and directs a set of recording lenses in your direction.

The intelligence officer steeples his fingers and leans in. "Lieutenant Commander Sawano Kallen, for the record, you piloted the experimental combat armature designated the XCA-118 LIONHEART, during its first field test, correct?"

You nod. That's not exactly a secret anymore. The question is likely solely for the record.




Vote 54:
The debriefing officer nods back. "Could you give me your impressions of the combat capabilities of the XCA-118?"

#"The Lionheart is an excellent vehicle in all aspects."
#"While the Lionheart is an impressive military asset, it does have some issues."
#"The Lionheart has major reliability issues which need to be fixed."






The intelligence officer nods and pulls out an old-fashioned dossier, the kind that staff officers keep their classified documents in (it's a lot easier to hack a data tablet than a sheet of inert plastic), and after a moment of examining its contents, looks up.

"Regarding the incident that led to the termination of the field test," he says. "I'd like to ask a few questions."

You can't really refuse. Your interrogator's next few questions concern the events just prior and just after your near-collision with that civilian vessel less than a week ago.

After a few more minutes of this, the intelligence officer nods, satisfied.

"I can't find any fault with the way you handled the situation. In fact, I think I should be thanking your quick thinking and piloting skills. That ship may have been traveling without a filed flight plan but it was also carrying most of Vedria's civilian government out. It would have been a real political nightmare if we'd lost them because of a military field test."



Also Watanabe's parents...



Before your thoughts can coalesce, your interrogator presses on, changing the subject before you lose your attention for the matters at hand.

"Moving on to your actions during the defensive action over Vedria Prime, approximately three days ago.

You were given orders to defend the CALIBURN battlegroup and the civilian evacuees.

The battlegroup suffered a great deal of damage, and the evacuation ships suffered heavy losses.




Vote 55:

"Some unkind observers might consider your attempt to carry out your orders as an effort ending in failure. Would you agree with that assessment?"

#"Yes, we could have done a lot better, saved a lot more people."

#"Not really. I think we did rather well considering the forces we were facing."

#"Not at all! It would have been impossible to save everyone. We simply saved as many as we could."



Okay guys, let's have votes by 5:30PM Friday. Why is he asking these questions...?

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Fri
2015-08-12, 05:10 PM
Hah, it's so easy that I'm almost sad at Hawkins. So much for the best pilot of this generation.

But I'm a bit unnerved with how easy he take it.

#If only we could stop destroying the things other people have built….

#"While the Lionheart is an impressive military asset, it does have some issues."

And obviously the guy is hyperboling, since we did save most of our asset, but anyway.

#"Yes, we could have done a lot better, saved a lot more people." This is technically right. If only we have better skill, better mech!

CoreBrute23
2015-08-12, 11:36 PM
#If only we could stop destroying the things other people have built….

#"While the Lionheart is an impressive military asset, it does have some issues."

#"Not at all! It would have been impossible to save everyone. We simply saved as many as we could."

I don't think our character would beat himself up over something he had no control over. He knows war has many unavoidable casualties, and he did do the best he could.

smuchmuch
2015-08-13, 06:52 AM
(Wasn't our character a woman ?)

#If only we could stop destroying the things other people have built….

"Conflit leads to progress" is an interesting option to have your character thinking but I don't think it fits with our character motication of 'serving and pprotecting' (kinda).

#"While the Lionheart is an impressive military asset, it does have some issues."

I would have said the 'major issue' one, on acount that loosing all control over your machine is one hell of a flaw but on the other hand seeing how easily we beayed Hawkins this time, consceding it's 'an impresive asset' while aknowleging the flaws seems the only fair assessement.

"Not really. I think we did rather well considering the forces we were facing."


I don't quite like the 'we did rather well' formulation but that imperial fleet was massive. We maybe could have protected more if we had sticked protecting one group but the other would have been anihilated.

Legato Endless
2015-08-13, 10:08 AM
#If only we could stop destroying the things other people have built….

#"While the Lionheart is an impressive military asset, it does have some issues."

#"Not at all! It would have been impossible to save everyone. We simply saved as many as we could."

I don't think our character would beat himself up over something he had no control over. He knows war has many unavoidable casualties, and he did do the best he could.

I'll go with this. Feeling guilty over what might have been seems out of character to our grizzled veteran, and saying we did rather well invites the trap of being asked if we will meet a similar result should we fight here.

pendell
2015-08-14, 05:15 PM
We have a consensus that the LIONHEART is an impressive asset but it has issues [ya THINK? ] and a wish to stop destroying things other people have built.

And we tell them we saved as many as we could.
--

If only we could stop destroying the things other people have built ...



Perhaps you're right. How much more of human civilization would have survived had it not been destroyed in pointless conflicts over ideas and borders and personal disputes which have long since become meaningless. Your mood turns sour as you think of all the wasted potential and labor and brilliance which have been wasted due to humanity's warlike nature.

It is a dark, brooding air that stays with you for the rest of the short trip.


Warrior: -2 Diplomat: +2

The LIONHEART is an impressive asset but it has issues.



The intelligence officer nods.

"Is this why you ordered the installation of performance limiters onto the XCA-118's propulsion systems? To avoid a repeat of the incident that led to the premature termination of aforementioned field test?"

You nod. The debriefing officer is just going over the thought processes of decisions which you have already made—typical recordkeeping.


We saved as many as we could.



The intelligence officer purses his lips with a look of…disappointment? Frustration? You aren't quite sure. For obvious reasons, men like him have a great deal of training in hiding their reactions.

Still, you can't help but feel that this wasn't the answer your debriefing officer was looking for.

Before you have time to reply, the intelligence officer flips a page in his dossier and quickly steers the conversation in another direction. You notice that your interrogator is moving onto new questions while you're still dwelling on the last one, catching you off guard and forcing you to answer without the time you might need to prepare a lie or deceptive statement—a clever questioning strategy.




Vote 57:

Now, I understand that despite constant exposure to high-intensity combat operations, your unit has taken no losses whatsoever. What are your thoughts on that?"

* "It was my genius that kept my unit from suffering losses."
* "I'm just glad we all made it through these past few days."
* "My lance-mates deserve all the credit for that."


Hmm, he didn't like our answer. I wonder why?




I only have one more question left, regarding your wingman, Ensign Feridoun Asadi.

The intelligence officer leans in closer until he's making full eye contact with you.



Vote 58:
"What are your opinions of Ensign Asadi's capabilities?"

#"Ensign Asadi is one of the best pilots I've ever seen and an excellent officer…"

#"Ensign Asadi is an excellent pilot but ${asadisex3} judgement is questionable at times…."

#"Ensign Asadi has definite leadership potential but ${asadisex3} piloting skills need improvement…."

#"Ensign Asadi has proven unsatisfactory both as a wingman and as an officer…"




The intelligence officer seems particularly intrigued by your answer, even asking you if you are sure about your opinion before he nods and finally closes his dossier.

"I have no further questions, Lieutenant Commander. I'm sure the answers you've provided will be put to good use in the very near future." The intelligence officer gives you what was probably meant to be a reassuring smile, though you can easily pick up on how forced it is.

You're not sure if you should be worried by that.

The debriefing officer stands up, tucking his dossier under his shoulder.

"Alright, it looks like we're done here for now. Remember, not a word of what's been discussed here gets mentioned outside this room. The guards outside will take you back to your ship. We'll send someone over to conduct a followup to this debriefing at 0600 tomorrow. Until then, consider yourself on leave. We'll inform your CO."

With that, the intelligence officer walks out of the room, leaving the door open behind him.


It appears we still have a job.



True to your interrogator's word, the guards are more than willing to lead you back through the labyrinthine hallways of the complex, and out of the heavily patrolled front entrance. Within minutes, you and your marine escort find yourself back on another transit cab, heading back towards the docking module where the Caliburn awaits.

Your top-secret debriefing has certainly given you a lot to think about. Why exactly did the intelligence officer ask for your opinion? While a Lieutenant Commander is hardly low on the chain of command, you're not quite high-ranking enough to be shaping policy or grand strategy.

More worryingly, your debriefing seemed to emphasize your recollections of particular events which some might consider your failures. Is there a reason for that? Is some assembly of high-ranking officers sitting in some darkened room, looking over your recording and passing judgement over your career?

Why did your interrogator ask the questions that he did, what are your answers going to be used for, and what is your mysterious followup tomorrow morning going to involve?



Vote 59:

#High command is after me. They need a scapegoat for the fall of Vedria Prime and I'm it.

#I bet the admirals are trying to figure out if I still deserve my command.

#Maybe they wanted to gauge the morale of the battlegroup through me?

#It's probably nothing to be concerned about so I shouldn't worry.





All in all, the whole debriefing process has taken up about three hours by the time you get back to the Caliburn. Seeing as you're basically on leave for the rest of the day, that means you've probably got some time to see a few people and get a few things done before your sleep shift.



Vote 60:
What do you do first? [CHOOSE 3]

#I want to go see Asadi.
#I should probably go talk to Watanabe.
#I'll say hi to Chief Weaver.
#I have some questions for Captain Baelyn.





If I'm reading this correctly, you have time to do THREE of these four things. So pick 'em and we'll go through this interlude.

...

I've learned my lesson. We don't get much response on the weekends so let's aim to get votes in next MONDAY, 5:30 PM.

Have a great weekend, and godspeed!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

CoreBrute23
2015-08-15, 04:53 AM
* "I'm just glad we all made it through these past few days."
#"Ensign Asadi is an excellent pilot but his judgement is questionable at times…."
#I bet the admirals are trying to figure out if I still deserve my command.

In order of preference:
I want to go see Asadi.
We should check up on our squad mate. And in addition, he won't think we threw him under the bus about the leadership thing, if he hears it from us first.

I should probably go talk to Watanabe.
We never spoke to the poor kid, whose parents almost died. Probably a wreck.

#I have some questions for Captain Baelyn.
Like are we expecting to fight soon? And can we paint the Lionheart red?

Fri
2015-08-16, 01:49 AM
* "I'm just glad we all made it through these past few days."
The other two is just too prideful and too humble.

#"Ensign Asadi is an excellent pilot but his judgement is questionable at times…."
Pretty much.

#Maybe they wanted to gauge the morale of the battlegroup through me?
This is just what I think.

On the free time choice...

I want to go see Asadi.
I should probably go talk to Watanabe.

Agree on these two but...

I'm not sure whether I want to see Captain Baelyn or Chief Weaver. I'll see if other people have better reasoning, and might or might not cast a vote later.

pendell
2015-08-17, 05:05 PM
We have first agreed that we're just glad we all have made it so far.



"I'm just glad we all made it through these past few days."

The debriefing officer doesn't offer a reaction this time, he simply accepts your answer with a wordless, bare-faced nod, and flips to the next and last page on his dossier.


Now we give our opinion of Asadi: Excellent pilot, questionable judgement.



While you have nothing but praise for your wingman's piloting skills, especially in getting out of tough situations, you can't help but note that he ended up in many of those situations because of his own poor decisions. You spend a few more minutes giving specific examples.

The intelligence officer seems particularly intrigued by your answer, even asking you if you are sure about your opinion before he nods and finally closes his dossier.


So ... why did we go through this?

We have a split between gauging morale of the battlegroup and determining if we are going to keep our command, so we'll roll off:

* Gauge morale of battlegroup = 4
* Admirals deciding if we should keep our command= 1

So we choose

"Maybe they wanted to gauge the morale of the battlegroup through me?"




You've heard of things like that happening, especially after a major defeat, and you suppose the fall of Vedria qualifies. The Defense Committee will single someone out, someone not too high up the chain of command, but usually someone with command responsibilities themselves. Then they'll ask all sort of questions to try to subtly gauge the attitude of the unit, battlegroup, or fleet that person is posted to.

It's an eminently logical explanation. The Defense Committee would probably want to know how the CALIBURN battlegroup is holding up after the battles over Vedria and the frantic retreat back to Crown Station.

That being said, you should have nothing to worry about.

At least, that's what you spend the rest of your ride back trying to convince yourself.




Next: We'll see Asadi, Watanabe, and Captain Baelyn, in that order.

First stop is Ensign Asadi.



Ensign Asadi isn't in the wardroom, the pilots' ready room, or even the galley. You search every public area on the ship but you find no sign of your wayward wingman. You check in with the sentries at the docking module—they haven't seen him either.

Ultimately, you conclude that, however improbable it may seem, Ensign Asadi is in his quarters.

You key the doorbell three times before the door opens, and then it takes you a moment to realize that the person standing at the other side of the door is actually the one you came to see.

A civilian or an uninitiated observer might have found nothing wrong. The junior officer is still in uniform, tunic still neatly buttoned up, and he still smells faintly of the fresh soap and evaporating water of the newly-showered, but you've served with your wingman long enough to recognize quickly just how bad a state the ensign is in.

Asadi's uniform may be tidy but his hair is even more disordered than before. Deep bags hang under his eyes and you notice a half-full bottle of clear liquid sitting on the desk behind him. A glass of the stuff sits in the ensign's hand, untouched.

"Oh hey boss, what's up?"



Vote 61:

* "I wanted to see how you were holding up."
* "Something's messing with your head. Tell me what it is."
* "I had some questions for you."
* "Just wanted to say hello. I should go."


Hmm... dishevelled, drinking ... is he upset about something?

We can't go further without answering this question, so we'll vote now . Have your votes in by Wednesday, 5:30PM.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2015-08-17, 06:26 PM
* "Just wanted to say hello. I should go."

"Hello named NPC, being your commanding officier I though I'd comme in your room for no particular reasons to talk about your backstorry and feelings, but decided you aren't worth my time and will leave about as abruptly as I came. I should go."
When did this turn into mass effect ? :smalltongue:

* "Something's messing with your head. Tell me what it is."

Let's go for the direct approach here.

Legato Endless
2015-08-17, 06:41 PM
"Hello named NPC, being your commanding officier I though I'd comme in your room for no particular reasons to talk about your backstorry and feelings, but decided you aren't worth my time and will leave about as abruptly as I came. I should go."
When did this turn into mass effect ? :smalltongue:

* "Something's messing with your head. Tell me what it is."

Let's go for the direct approach here.

Agreed. Let's not mince words.

Fri
2015-08-17, 08:28 PM
* "I wanted to see how you were holding up."

Just to be a contrarian :smallbiggrin: (it's the same anyway I assume)

CoreBrute23
2015-08-17, 11:06 PM
For once, Fri and I agree. (The apocalypse is nigh!)

"I wanted to see how you were holding up."

Legato Endless
2015-08-18, 11:29 AM
We need a fifth regular. Random.org has entirely too much influence on this play through.

pendell
2015-08-18, 11:59 AM
We need a fifth regular. Random.org has entirely too much influence on this play through.

Or we can get better at establishing consensus. I've no objection to more players, however. In fact, this IS an open game.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Fri
2015-08-18, 12:51 PM
We need a fifth regular. Random.org has entirely too much influence on this play through.

Random.org IS our fifth regular.

http://orig02.deviantart.net/43de/f/2015/230/3/5/diceroll_tan_2_by_fri_freeman-d9676i9.jpg

pendell
2015-08-18, 01:33 PM
That's fanart, isn't it? I'll add it to the gallery and Fri has one extra vote which Fri may exercise whenever desired, one time.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

pendell
2015-08-19, 07:54 PM
We have a tie between "Something's messing with your head" and "I wanted to see how you were holding up", so Randomella will decide.

Messing with your head = 3
Holding up = 46.



"I wanted to see how you were holding up."

Asadi laughs. Not the arrogant, bemused chuckle that you're used to, but a ragged, barking thing that almost seems like a sob played backwards.

"You wanted to see how I'm holding up? It's pretty obvious now, isn't it?"

The ensign shakes his head. "I feel messed up, boss. I feel tired, my nerves are shot, and I'm questioning just about every damn thing I do, up to and including getting out of bed. I haven't been sleeping really well, even through detox cycles. Some of the stuff we've gone through the past few days…" the wingman exhales in a long, desperate sigh. "It's done a number on me, you know?"


There's a vote here to ask for more information, or to simply leave. I'm going to simply ask him what's going on, because that seems a waste of two days.



"Why don't you tell me about it?"

sadi leads you into his quarters. His rooms are a lot smaller than yours but the essentials are still there: bed, desk, and a small, closet-sized bathroom compartment. Everything seems neatly tucked away in storage units and shelves.

Your wingman sits down at the table and pours you a glass from the bottle of clear liquid. Almost immediately, you can tell that whatever's in your glass is strong—too strong to be officially allowed onboard. Then again, that's always been a regulation most ignore.

Asadi waits for you to sit down opposite him before leaning in. Swirling the contents of his glass around for a moment, he hesitates. It's clear that this is not going to be an easy thing for your wingman to let out. For a few moments, there is no sound save for the gentle humming of the Caliburn's engines.

"It was that recon mission," he says, finally.

"What?"

"That recon mission the rest of us got sent on, when you were test-piloting the Lionheart. The one where I was in command."

You nod. You weren't there for that one.

Asadi puts his glass to his lips and takes a deep swallow. "I messed up. I nearly got everyone killed."


Did you indeed. Well, I'm glad we questioned your judgement.



"What happened?"

Your wingman stares back at his half-empty glass for a moment. "We were sent out to look for that Imperial battlegroup, the one that attacked Vedria to try to steal the Lionheart. Instead, we found the entire Imperial Grand Fleet and barely made it back with our hides. You know that part, right?"

You nod. You do remember that part.

"What you don't know is that we knew the Imperial fleet was there before they even saw us. They were so damn obvious, it wasn't even funny—set up in some kind of pompous parade formation. They didn't encrypt their comms, they didn't have an escort screen, their pickets were so half-assed that they had blind spots big enough to fly another, smaller fleet through. It was like those arrogant bastards knew that they were completely untouchable."

Asadi does take a drink this time, draining the rest of his glass in a single, fluid motion.

"So I decided to give them something to think about, remind them that they could still die like the rest of us. I ordered the lance to move forward into extreme weapons range and fire off some pot-shots. I figured we'd trade some shots with the pickets, do some damage, and then get out."

You nod, showing your wingman that you understand, and you frown, showing him that you also disapprove. Goading the entire Imperial Grand Fleet with a single lance is just a notch short of suicidal.

Asadi shakes his head and pours himself another glass. "Yeah, didn't quite work as planned. The Imperials didn't return fire—they charged straight at us, swarmed us faster than we could react, and we had to fight our way out and run all the way back to the Caliburn."

The ensign breathes a deep, long sigh. "The Captain chewed me out over it when I got back. She said that I was lucky I didn't get your whole command killed out from under you." Asadi shakes his head. "It wasn't until I had some time to think about it that it really sunk in." He holds up his hand, index finger and thumb a hairsbreadth apart. "I was this close to getting everyone killed because of my own orders, and I thought 'by the All-Glorious, is this what being in command feels like?'"

Your wingman hesitates as if he's just realizing across a damning revelation. "All this time, I've thought that if only I had a command, we could beat the impies. Now? I'm not so sure anymore."

Asadi shakes his head again and takes another drink. It's almost terrifying seeing your normally impetuous wingman so maudlin.




Vote 63:

* "Is that it? Are you having second doubts about command?"
* "Why do you want to win this war so badly?"


After you get an answer to that we move on to the money question:


Your wingman leans forward, face in his hands. "Honestly, I'm not sure what to think anymore. Knowing that every single decision you make might get someone killed…how the hell do you even deal with that?"

Vote 64:
#"You need to fight as hard as you can to keep everyone alive."
#"You make sure they don't die in vain."
#"Seriously? Suck it up. People die in wars. Only weaklings let it get to them."
#"That's something you have to figure out yourself."


What are we going to tell him? How will we tell him to deal with these issues?

...

Votes in by Friday, 5:30PM. Remember that Fri has one extra vote to use at option.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Fri
2015-08-19, 08:52 PM
There's a vote here to ask for more information, or to simply leave. I'm going to simply ask him what's going on, because that seems a waste of two days.

Noo.... I wanted to just leave!

Oh well, now that we're here anyway...

* "Why do you want to win this war so badly?"

#"You make sure they don't die in vain."

That just sound like our character. She sounds like the type who when become a supervillain and facing the heroes in her volcano lair and asked by the heroes "do you know how many people have died for your crazy plan?" she'll recite everyone who ever died under her command and continue with "and they won't die in vain...."

smuchmuch
2015-08-20, 11:50 AM
(Gotta love how of all the many ways you could have formulated that sentiment you immediatly went for one entailling our character becoming a bondian supervillain in a volcano fortress)

* "Why do you want to win this war so badly?"

#"You need to fight as hard as you can to keep everyone alive."

While "you need to make sure they don't die in vain" would fit our original idea f being 'cold and strrategic', the fact is that, so far, we haven't killed any of our Lancemate or even taken a particulary risky strategy that could have gotten them killed for a tactical advantage or even to ay, protect others, et.
It's a toss up but I feel answer one fits better how we've been acting so far.

pendell
2015-08-21, 05:18 PM
We want to ask why he wants to win the war so badly and we have a tie between

"You make sure they didn't die in vain"

and

"You fight as hard as you can to keep everyone alive."

We'll roll that one off.

Not die in vain = 72
keep everyone alive= 55

So it looks like Randomella wants to tell him to make sure they didn't die in vain.

...

Now that the voting is concluded, I personally concur. The problem with telling someone like Asadi to fight as hard as he can to keep everyone alive is that , in war , Force preservation is not the highest goal. Completing the mission is . There do come some bitter times when you HAVE to send subordinates to their deaths, typically because you simply don't have time to do things the "right" way.

At any rate, let's implement those decisions.



"Why do you want to win this war so badly?"

You feel as if you've asked a stupid question the second after it escapes from your lips, but to your surprise, Asadi doesn't respond with one of the simple, almost infantile reasons you'd expect.

"Why? So I can see my parents and my little brother again. So that after five years, I can finally go home."

For a moment, there is an awkward pause. "My family lives on Libertad III," he says in way of explanation. "I was at school on Albion when the rebellion started. The impies occupied the colonies in the Libertad system to 'restore order' soon after. The last message I got from my mom was that they were joining a bunch of like-minded people: old militia and police, activists, radical schoolteachers, you know the type. They were planning to start a partisan group to fight against the occupation."

Asadi takes another drink. "That was five years ago. For all I know, they could already be dead. But I joined the military because I thought every impie I killed would bring me one step closer to freeing my home world and finding out where they are for sure."

Your wingman chuckles, a bitter, hollow thing. "You know, I used to have dreams about it—my parents and friends fighting off Imperial marines in some forsaken corner of nowhere, and then I'd appear in my Grenzer at the head of my own lance, like Jibrail bringing down the wrath of the Utterly Just."

Asadi grimaces a little, more at his own words than anything else. "Yeah, sounds stupid now doesn't it? Since that mission, I've been second-guessing myself. I don't know if what I want is something I really want anymore, if that makes any sense."

Your wingman leans forward, face in his hands. "Honestly, I'm not sure what to think anymore. Knowing that every single decision you make might get someone killed…how the hell do you even deal with that?"



We answer: "You make sure they didn't die in vain."



Asadi shakes his head. "What kind of trite bull[filter] is that?"

You try to explain. "The fact is, if you fight with them long enough, people under your command are going to die. That's the first truth every commanding officer has to accept, and it's not an easy one to swallow. The first, harshest test of leadership is to watch one of your subordinates die in front of you and not let that get to you. I've gone through it, Captain Baelyn's gone through it, and you'll go through it one day."

You think you have your wingman's attention now so you keep going. "Passing this test doesn't just mean getting through it without breaking, it also means accepting the fact that the men and women under your command are going to keep dying, and that your job as their commander isn't to keep them all alive—which is impossible—but to make sure that they die doing something significant. You make sure your people die for a higher purpose than your own mistakes or your own bravado. That's what makes the difference between a meaningless death and a necessary one."

Your wingman seems frozen for a moment, then he sighs and nods.

"Yeah, I think I get it. Thanks."

Asadi puts the bottle away. The brooding look on his face is gone but your wingman still seems pensive.



Ah, and he's not brooding any more. Good job, I think you've managed to snap him out of his funk , which is invaluable when he happens to be on our wing.

Warrior = 62
Diplomat = 38



"Thanks boss, that helped a lot. I guess I've still got a lot of thinking and staring at walls to do before I figure all this out, but I feel better—like it's been cut down to something I can tackle myself instead of this big, unbreakable wall moving in on me. I think I can work this out."

You nod. "I'm happy to help, Asadi."

You exchange a few more pleasantries as you take a few minutes to finish up the contents of your own glass. Your wingman doesn't bring up any more problems, but as you turn to leave, he stops you.

"Hey boss?"

You turn back around. "Yeah?"

Your normally impetuous wingman hesitates, scratching the back of his head as he works up the courage to say something.

"I was wondering—"

Asadi freezes, takes a deep breath, and tries again. "Do you want to do something after everything quiets down a bit, you know, like coffee or dinner, just the two of us?"

The implications here are pretty obvious. Asadi's never been this nervous talking to you before, and it probably took a lot of guts just for him to ask. You consider your response.



Whoa.


Vote 65:

* I accept Asadi's invitation.
* I refuse but I let him down gently.
* I don't accept but I leave my options open.
* I refuse as bluntly as possible.


Respectfully,

Brian P.

Legato Endless
2015-08-21, 07:13 PM
I don't accept but I leave my options open.

Let's not commit too quickly. We've still got Officer Parent issues and Lord Cosplayer to consider.

CoreBrute23
2015-08-21, 11:08 PM
* I refuse but I let him down gently.

I don't think we are the sort to enjoy fraternizing, especially with someone who might die under our command. Besides, he's in a vulnerable place and not in the right state of mind, we shouldn't take advantage of that.

pendell
2015-08-23, 09:22 PM
I neglected to mention the next move will be tomorrow, Monday, at 5:30PM. Hope to see you then!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Fri
2015-08-24, 03:30 AM
I don't accept but I leave my options open.

Let's not commit too quickly. We've still got Officer Parent issues and Lord Cosplayer to consider.

Yes, let this be the beginning of our harem!

By the way, if Watanabe is officer parent issue, and Hawkins is lord cosplayer, what's Asadi?

pendell
2015-08-24, 05:17 PM
He strikes me as the kind of guy you compete with on your own side -- the guy who's competing for you for the top slot on the killboard. An Iceman vs. Maverick thing, if anyone's ever seen Top Gun.

So, we're going to keep our options open.



You don't shake your head but you don't nod either. "I don't know. Everything's up in the air right now. Ask me again sometime later, and I can probably give you a real answer. Right now? I can't really say anything that'll make either of us happy."

Asadi nods, his tone surprisingly sympathetic. "I know what you mean. I think I can understand. Maybe once all of this settles down a bit, I could get an answer?"

You nod. "Yeah, maybe."

The younger officer nods back. "Alright, see you later, boss."

"Later," you reply, as you walk out into the corridor.

You stop by the galley for a quick lunch before heading back out.


Next stop : Officer Parent Issues, erm, Watanabe.



You are about to knock on the door to Watanabe's quarters when they open suddenly. The kid steps out, almost bumping into you.

The young bridge controller is once again wearing civilian clothes. "Oh! Hi, Lieutenant Commander Kallen!"

"It's Lieutenant Commander Sowano, actually," you correct him. "If you're addressing someone by rank, you should be using last names."

The kid nods sheepishly. "Oh. I'm still trying to get used to that." A pause, then, "Is learning all this protocol stuff really important? I mean, I know that I should learn all the call signs and everything so that people know what I'm talking about, but there are so many of those little rules I'm supposed to follow. Are they really that important?"




Vote 66:

* "Yes, they are."
* "No, not really."
* "That's up for you to decide."



After we've discussed military discipline ...



After a moment's thought, the kid looks back up at you. "I was going to go for a walk around the ship. There's not much else to do. Do you want to come with me?"




Vote 67:
#"Sure, I'd love to."
#"I might as well. I have nothing better to do."
#"Actually, I just wanted to check up on you. I should be going."


This isn't a romantic option though it may, of course leads to one. It's simply a social walk. How far you want to go with that is up to you.

Let's have the votes in by Wednesday, 5:30 PM.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

pendell
2015-08-26, 05:20 PM
Umm. guys? It's Wednesday? No votes?

...

I'll postpone action until tomorrow, 5:30 PM.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Legato Endless
2015-08-26, 05:31 PM
"Yes, they are."

Stop whining, get off your butt and learn your call signs or we're going to pay for it later.

"Sure, I'd love to."

Fri
2015-08-26, 05:33 PM
Whoops sorry, I was really busy today and yesterday like you wouldn't believe.

Anyway.

* "Yes, they are."

Some of them are useless, but some not, and military protocol are there for a reason. I wonder, we're rebel, can we consider ourself career soldier?

And.

#"Sure, I'd love to."

Throw the kid some bone, guys.

smuchmuch
2015-08-26, 06:43 PM
"#Yes, they are."

We're in the middle of an ongoing war so it's really not the momentto be lax on security protocols.

#"I might as well. I have nothing better to do."

CoreBrute23
2015-08-26, 10:42 PM
"#Yes, they are."

#"Sure, I'd love to."

pendell
2015-08-27, 09:04 PM
Okay, we'll tell him "yes they are" and "Sure, I'd love to."



You nod your head. "Yes, all of these little, seemingly unimportant rules exist for a very important reason."

The kid looks up at you, genuinely curious. "What reason is that?"

"Simple: discipline."

You explain how the entire ship's crew must work as a machine and how each crew member functions as a part. In the clearest language you can manage, you try to explain that a combat unit's greater purpose, though obvious from an outside point of view, might seem entirely indecipherable from the viewpoint of one of the components.

"Protocols exist to make us think a certain way, namely in the way that the part of that machine is supposed to think, so we don't lose focus and so we do the jobs that the rest of the crew is counting on us to do."

Watanabe nods. "Alright, I think I understand."

After a moment's thought, the kid looks back up at you. "I was going to go for a walk around the ship. There's not much else to do. Do you want to come with me?"


Sure, I'd love to.




Watanabe's expression brightens a little.

"Alright! Let's go!"


Hmm, seems he doesn't completely hate us. Given that we saved his parent's lives and were considerate of his fellow civilians, I would hope not.



The two of you meander along the featureless, gray hallways of the Caliburn, making your way slowly across the ship under the glare of the harsh, military-grade lights. You walk down the corridors, doing your best to avoid engineering teams trying to patch up the Caliburn's combat damage before the battle that everyone knows is soon to come.

You make an incongruous sight. You're still dressed in your utilitarian duty fatigues while Watanabe wouldn't look out of place in a shopping plaza or a civilian sidewalk with his button-up, cotton shirt and slim jeans.

"Hey, Lieutenant Commander?" the kid asks.

"Yeah?"

"How come I never see you out of your pilot suit or that duty outfit? You have normal—I mean, civilian clothes, right?"

You spend the next few minutes explaining how the clothes you wore when you volunteered were turned over along with your other personal effects when you entered training, only to be returned when you left the service. Like most other long-term volunteers, the only clothes you have available to you now are the uniforms you have been issued.

The kid nods, though by his expression, you can tell that he's still trying to wrap his head around the concept. "So, you don't miss having something to wear other than uniforms?"




Vote 68:
*"No. I'm a warrior and this is the gear of a warrior."
* "No, I wear the uniform to represent the cause I fight for."
* "Yeah, sometimes I do miss my old clothes."
* "Clothes don't really mean that much to me."


After we give him our answer and get a response...



You spend another hour or so wandering around the ship in a seemingly random pattern.

It's almost disconcerting to do so, especially for someone like you who is used to planning things out before doing them. But it's refreshing enough in its own way for you to understand why some people might enjoy it.


Eventually though, you find yourself heading to the CALIBURN's observation deck, the only room on the entire ship with a genuine window to the dark splendor of the stars outside the warship's metal shell. Heavy blast doors slide open as you step through. As thick and as durable as the diamandoid window which makes up one wall of the observation deck is, it's still a structural weakness. As a result, the entire deck was actually built outside of the CALIBURN's armored shell, to be sealed off in case of combat.

Still, the view from the darkened, structurally superfluous room is beautiful, the distant tapestry of stars shine through the pseudo-glass with a sharpness that the wall-mounted screens in your quarters can almost—but not quite—match. In the distance, you can see the pale running lights of the CoDEC fleet at anchor, your veteran's mind subconsciously picking out the silhouettes of the distant hulls.

For a few moments, the two of you stand staring into space, watching as a pair of spindly cargo shuttles make their way towards the CALIBURN. Latched to their carrier arms are vast arrays of containers carrying the munitions, spare parts, and other supplies which every warship requires to fight any sort of battle.

Watanabe's voice breaks the silence. "We're going to make a stand here, aren't we?"

The question catches you off balance. "Hmm?"

"I saw my parents earlier today on Crown Station" the kid replies, eyes still locked on the cargo shuttles as they make their final approach towards the CALIBURN's docking bays. "They said that they're planning on catching the next transport through the wormhole, that they don't think Crown Station is going to be safe for much longer."

Watanabe takes a deep breath and turns towards you. "They think we're going to lose Crown Station just like we lost Vedria Prime, but we won't, will we?"



Vote 69 :
#"No, we'll stop them here."
#"I'm not sure we can win."
#"We're going to lose."



We'll wrap it up there because I don't know whether Watanabe likes us enough to make a romantic advance. We'll see soon enough!

So... votes by 5:30PM Saturday? Is that okay?

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Fri
2015-08-27, 11:11 PM
Hmmm....


*"No. I'm a warrior and this is the gear of a warrior."
Do we be a warrior of warriory warrior?


* "No, I wear the uniform to represent the cause I fight for."
24/7 political activist? (Really, you don't need to wear Che Guavara t-shirt all the time to show how you hate "the man")


* "Yeah, sometimes I do miss my old clothes."
Wearing uniform all the time for no reason at all?


* "Clothes don't really mean that much to me."
Or a nudist?

I say nudist.
Clothes don't really mean that much to me

And.

#"No, we'll stop them here."
Being a pragmatic is one thing, lowering our men's morale is another.

CoreBrute23
2015-08-28, 01:44 AM
Wearing uniform all the time for no reason at all?

Or a nudist?

I say nudist.
Clothes don't really mean that much to me

And.

#"No, we'll stop them here."
Being a pragmatic is one thing, lowering our men's morale is another.

I want to back up this hidden nudist backstory, that Kallen has. And I agree with the, let's not lower morale thing.

pendell
2015-08-29, 08:09 PM
We have a consensus that clothes don't mean that much to us, and that we'll stop them here.



Watanabe seems almost shocked by your response. "What? Really?"

You remind yourself that you're still talking to someone who is, at most, one or two years out of high school.

"Clothes are just pieces of fabric that protect you from the elements, and your body from wear and tear. Functionally, they don't usually serve a purpose aside from that. I wear my uniform because it shows everyone whose side I'm on. When I'm in the cockpit, I wear my suit because it's environmentally sealed and doubles as emergency protection."

The kid doesn't quite seem to understand what you're saying. "What happens when you leave the military?"

You shrug. "Then I wear street clothes so everyone knows I'm not in the military anymore. Simple as that."

Watanabe still doesn't quite comprehend what you're saying but then again, your point of view isn't exactly a widespread one. Soon enough, you move on to other, more fruitful topics of discussion.


Deliberation: 100 Passion: 0.

We'll stop them here.




"I want to believe you but after Vedria…." The kid takes a breath and starts again. "You saw how big the Imperial fleet was. I'm not sure if we can beat them."

You shake your head. "The Imperial Grand Fleet is big but what I've seen of it so far hasn't impressed me. When we faced it over Vedria, it outnumbered us by a massive margin, but we were still able to inflict disproportionate losses against it with just one battlegroup."

"Now we've assembled the entire fleet," you wave your hand in the direction of the cloud of running lights in the distance. "This time, we'll be facing them with a fleet that might even match theirs in size. If the battle over Vedria Prime proved anything, it was that on an individual basis, our pilots and our crews are better than theirs, even when outnumbered. With something closer to numerical parity…."

You stop. The gears are already turning in Watanabe's head. He can figure out the rest himself.

Sure enough, after a few seconds, Watanabe nods, this time more confidently. "We'll stop them here."


Assuming we have accounted for all conceivable aces in the hole ...




Neither of you says much of anything after that. Small talk isn't something that follows any kind of serious conversation well. Instead, for the next few minutes, the two of you stand side by side, watching the vast arrays of dark, metal hulls silhouetted against the endless field of stars.

The silence holds, neither of you feels quite right trying to break it. Even so, the presence of another friendly human within arms reach is a comforting feeling, and though neither of you say a word, or even make eye contact, you enjoy the moment all the same.

After a few minutes though, even the stars can get boring, especially seeing as your job involves staring at them for hours on end. Watanabe seems to be thinking the same thing. When he brings up the prospect of resuming your walk, you immediately agree. There is no further point in staying on the darkened observation deck.

Half an hour later, the two of you finish your circuit of the ship, returning to where you started.

"See you later, Lieutenant Commander," Watanabe says as he retreats back into his quarters.

"See you later, kid" you reply just before the door closes.

It's nearing the middle of the afternoon now. You figure you probably have time to make one more visit before going to sleep.


We've already voted to see Captain Baelyn, so that's what we'll do.



aptain Baelyn's office is a small but elegant affair, dominated by a large desk that essentially splits the room in two. The walls are covered with tasteful wood panelling and a series of locked filing cabinets, filled with information too classified or too personal to be left on the hard drive of a data tablet. Behind the desk sits a plush swivel chair covered in black, synthetic leather. On the wall behind it stands the Caliburn's unit insignia, writ large in burnished brass and steel. Everything from the neatly organized racks of data tablets to the very old-fashioned looking pen sitting on the desk top are where they should be.

In fact, the only thing missing is Captain Baelyn herself, though the guard at the office door assures you that she will be back shortly.

You've been in the military long enough to know that "shortly" could mean anything from half a minute to six days.

Thankfully, you don't end up waiting for more than half an hour before the Captain returns, flanked by four marines wearing the same armor and carrying the same unit flashes as the ones that took you on your little trip to Crown Station's administration complex this morning.

It looks like you aren't the only one to have been invited to have a private chat with military intelligence.

Captain Baelyn's guards dismiss themselves the second she enters her office. She passes her own guard with a brief nod. She takes the time to sit down behind her desk before she deigns to acknowledge your presence.

"Good day, Lieutenant Commander. I apologize for the delay." She gestures to the backs of the four withdrawing guards through the open door of her office. "As you may have noticed, you weren't the only one to have been carted off to a classified debriefing."

The Captain steeples her hands and settles back into her chair. "Now then, Sowano, what would you ask of me?"


We'll just go through the list of questions, such as they are.

"How is the CALIBURN holding up?"



The Captain shrugs.

"We took a lot of damage during the battle over Vedria Prime, and we took substantial casualties as well. Our damage control teams have dealt with a great deal of the minor problems but there's still a great deal of major damage that needs to be fixed before we're anywhere near battle-ready."

The Captain pulls out her data tablet for a moment, scrolling through it before showing it to you. "This thing says that we'll be able to move the ship to repair facilities in about eight hours. They'll be able to do a lot more than our damage control teams can. If we can get a day of peace before Steele and his fleet show up, we may even be able to get everything patched up."

Captain Baelyn sets the tablet back on the table and lets out a slow, controlled breath. "If we get a day. If we don't, then we'll have to go into battle short eighty crew and with a wrecked fire-control system. Our armor's still intact enough to take a few hits—we just wouldn't be very good at returning them."

She leans back in her chair and steeples her fingers again. "So, the critical factor is time. If we get it, the Caliburn will be battle-ready. If we don't, we won't."


So we need a day to go into battle with a functional fire control -- which means that IF we get the time we can call for supporting fire from the CALIBURN and get it.


If.



The Captain doesn't try to deny it—she nods immediately.

"Nicholas Steele? Yes, I knew him. We went to the same fleet academy together where he graduated a year before me. That was what—seventeen years ago? I think he meant well but he's pretty slow, a lot slower than I thought he was. It was obvious that he didn't really have the head for command. He always thought that wars could be ended in a single battle if he had some sort of technological magic bullet that could defeat an enemy effortlessly. In fact, I'm rather surprised that he's learned to think otherwise in the meantime."

The Captain shrugs. "I never really kept in touch with him afterwards. Then again, I was never really in the same league, either. My parents had to piss away their life savings on the bribes to even get me a place whereas he was a Steele of the Olympus Mons Steeles. They begged him to enroll. He was commanding a dreadnought when I was still a lieutenant.

"And now?" The Captain shakes her head. "Now, I'm a traitor to the Imperial Crown and he's the Empress's personal attack dog. Personal history doesn't really matter much at this point, no matter how much the old fool thinks it does."


"Technological magical bullet?" Do the Imps have any of those?

"You used to be part of the Imperial Military?""




The Captain looks up, genuinely surprised.

"Yes, I thought everyone knew that. Before I joined this merry, little rebellion, I was Commander Baelyn, of Her Imperial Majesty's Grand Fleet. I bet I still have my old uniform and medal case sitting around somewhere in my quarters."

Captain Baelyn shakes her head. "Anyway, that was a long time ago. I joined the rebellion right when it started. It was all above board. I resigned my commission and everything before switching sides, all legal."

The Captain chuckles, a hard, bitter thing. "I suppose that's why I'm only guilty of treason and not high treason."


"What's our next move?"



The Captain leans forward, her expression rapidly solidifying into its customary blend of sang-froid and slight annoyance. She recites a mental list, ticking off her fingers as she goes.

"Well, we are currently docked at a large space station with extensive logistical support capabilities, formidable fixed defenses, and a strong garrison of combat armatures. Around us is the entire strength of the CoDEC Active Fleet. In addition to the main fleet, which has been brought through the wormhole from New Lisbon just to be here, over half a dozen independent battlegroups like ours have been pulled from their various missions to sit here as well. Behind us is the spatial anomaly which serves as the only passage to the vast majority of our colonies, in front of us is a massive enemy fleet commanded by an over-aggressive and highly unimaginative commander."

Captain Baelyn's tone rapidly turns sardonic. "So, if I were using my head at all after taking stock of all this, most of which is, after all, common knowledge, I would assume that we're mustering as many ships and combat armatures as possible to defend Crown Station and this end of the wormhole against an attack by the Imperial Grand Fleet."

There's a moment of silence in the Captain's office, probably intentional. Your commanding officer's giving you a second for her words to sink in. Despite her dour expression, the woman does have a sense of the theatrical.

"Does that answer your question, Lieutenant Commander?"


Sheesh. Sarcastic much? Actually, I just asked that as a bridge because I have a more serious followup question to ask you.

"Why did you defect from the Imperial Military? "




"Simple reason: because it didn't want me."

Captain Baelyn leans in. "Here's a basic tenet of the Imperial military in general: the people in charge of everything have a system of sorting people out. But at the very basic level, officers are divided into two categories—those with honor and those without."

The Captain extends her hands, palms-up.

"Now, those with honor," she raises one hand, "are the ones who are born to high nobility, the ones with family lines stretching back hundreds of years, all the way back to the megacorps who funded the first ships out of Old Earth. They're the ones with their own little code of nobility. You saw some of that over Vedria Prime. The Imperial Fleet would have crushed us if they hadn't sent out their Combat Armatures unsupported to make it a 'fair fight'. That's what their honor basically is, institutional stupidity. The men and women who adhere to that standard, like Star Marshal Steele, and like your suitor, Commandant Hawkins, they're the ones who are promoted to high rank and exalted as paragons—for their actions, as much as their birth.

"Then," she raises her other hand. "There are people like me. The ones who see what the Imperials did over Vedria Prime as stupidity and a waste of good pilots, not honor. My parents weren't aristocrats, they were file clerks, and my old academy record is full of references to my 'low cunning'. Needless to say, the Imperial Military didn't like me and I didn't like it. When I saw a chance for a fresh start in a service that didn't think ambushes and flanking attacks were cheating, I took it."


That explains why the Blue Masque is such a paragon in the Empire; he exemplifies this "honorable" combat, to a fault. Ironically, Steele's own desire for a magic bullet doesn't seem very honorable -- a Death Star Superlaser wouldn't be honorable, it'd be more like pest control.

Tension there we could exploit...?

It also explains why the combat armatures were sent in unsupported. There was no grand strategy, simply a concept of "honor" which demanded their CA pilots be senselessly slaughtered in a 'fair fight'.

Given this discussion, BARRING ANY ACES IN THE HOLE, we should win the upcoming battle. An unimaginative person like this could only win by attrition, climbing to victory over a mountain of bodies. it doesn't work if the other side has equal numbers and a superior defensive position.
"What questions did they ask you in your debriefing?"


The Captain fixes you with an expression of complete pity, as though she were staring at the village idiot. When she replies, it's in a slow, placating tone.

"During your own debriefing, did the naval intelligence officer asking the questions explicitly forbid you from telling anyone else about the proceedings, with the barely hidden implication that the Defense Committee would have you court-martialed if you uttered a word?"

You nod.

The Captain smiles and drops her tone of fake condescension. "Mine did, too."

You know you probably should have expected that.


Oh, now the game is MOCKING us is it...?


"Nothing further ma'am. I should be going."



Captain Baelyn nods curtly.

"Very well." She waves you out brusquely as she turns back to the work on her desk. "I have other business to attend to. You know the way out."

You make your way to the galley for a quick meal. The fare is as unappetizing as ever but you shovel it down quickly, before you are too tired to eat.

With dinner out of the way, you head back to your quarters and fall into bed, exhausted. The next morning, you are woken up by a loud and insistent knocking.

When you answer the door, you find yourself faced by a very thin, balding man with a long, cadaverous face and an expensive suit. Behind him stand a pair of armed marines.

"Good morning," the man says in a clipped, businesslike tone flavored with the accent of your native Albion. He extends a skeletal hand towards you. Out of politeness, you take it.

Instead of shaking your hand, the man takes it and presses your palm against the screen of a data tablet nestled in the crook of his other arm. After a moment, a part of the tablet's screen flashes green. He smiles at you, a taut, cold thing which does little to reassure you. "Lieutenant Commander Sowano, I presume?"

You nod.

"Good. I shall need you to get dressed immediately. Once that is done, you are to follow me, am I understood?"

You nod again.

"Good! Get to it."


So who is this strange man and what does he want?



For the second time in twenty-four hours, you find yourself led out of your quarters under marine escort. This time, however, you are not led to Crown Station's docking module. Instead, you are taken the other way, to the aft sections of the ship, and ultimately, through the open blast doors of Hangar Bay B.

"Clear everyone out" the man in the suit orders at a voice barely above a whisper as the four of you step through the doors. The two marines immediately spring to action, herding the dozens of deck crew away from the machines they are servicing, and towards the doors.

"What the hell is going on here?" Chief Weaver demands as one of the marines gently prods him across the hangar deck. "Lieutenant Commander, you have any idea what the hell is going on here?"

The suited man holds up a thin hand and the marine halts. "Hold on a moment. "Bring him here."

The marine brings Weaver over to the man in the suit. Without missing a beat, the man seizes the deck chief's hand and presses it against his data tablet. Once again, the screen flashes green. He smiles his bare, disconcerting sneer again.

"Chief Petty Officer Weaver? I shall require you to remain with us as well."

The deck chief glares daggers at the man as he takes his place next to you.

Once the deck crews are pushed out of the hangar bay, the two marines take position at the door to dissuade the curious. For a minute or two, you wait in heavy silence until finally, a figure pushes her way through the guards: Captain Baelyn.

The man turns to the marines. "They're all here," he declares in his reedy voice. "Shut the blast doors, take up guard outside. Nobody goes in until I come out."

The two guards salute and step outside, closing the doors behind them. The man in the suit takes a good look at the three of you, making eye contact for just a moment as he does, before nodding to himself in evident satisfaction.

"Good, now we may begin."



Begin ...?



"My name is Doctor William Chatham." The doctor begins pacing before the three of you, his slender hands clasped behind his back. "I currently have the honor of being Director of Special Projects and Initiatives for Wellington Defense Industries."

None of the three of you manage any kind of response. Despite his tiny stature, the doctor's personal presence is formidable, as if he were surrounded by an aura of frigid air. The effect is a disconcerting one, even to you, and you can see that Chief Weaver and Captain Baelyn are no more at ease.

Doctor Chatham himself, on the other hand, pays no mind. Either he has never become aware of it, or has seen its effects so often as to no longer care. He continues pacing and speaking.

"If that title means absolutely nothing to you, then I shall clarify the extent of my responsibilities, powers, and obligations by utilizing simpler language." Doctor Chatham stops pacing and turns on his heel to face you.

"I am the individual responsible for the creation—" the doctor raises an arm, pointing a bony finger towards the shining bulk of the Lionheart, "—of that."


Okay, so he's the Herr Doktor Professor mad scientist.



"The XCA-118 Lionheart and the facility on Vedria Prime devoted to its design and manufacture were my responsibility. Its destruction by Imperial forces would normally be a death knell for the project."

Doctor Chatham clasps his hands together again and offers his colorless, thin smile again.

"However, due to the combined efforts of the three of you, the Lionheart's prototype unit has been recovered. Better yet, your impromptu field test, while lacking a great deal of scientific rigor, has provided me with the necessary data to complete the Lionheart's unfinished systems."

The man from WDI steps forward and begins pacing again.

"As of yesterday morning, I have taken personal control of the Lionheart project. I have made the decision to waive all remaining field tests."

Doctor Chatham turns to you, fixing you with his empty-eyed stare.

"Lieutenant Commander Sowano, you have been reassigned as the Lionheart's pilot. You will not be permitted to fly any other machine, nor will you allow any other pilot into the Lionheart's cockpit."

Next, he turns to the hangar boss. "Chief Petty Officer Weaver, you will deliver to me a list of every crew member who has had access to the Lionheart's specifications, hardware, or flight software. They are now to be considered potential security risks and must be screened."

Finally, he turns to the Caliburn's commanding officer. "Captain Baelyn, you are responsible for the maintenance of operational security and the safety of the Lionheart prototype."

The doctor once again makes eye contact with the three of you one by one.

"Are there any questions?"



Vote 70: [Choose as many as you think appropriate]

* "Are you sure I'm the right pilot for the job?"
* "Why all the secrecy?"
* "What happens if I get the Lionheart destroyed?"
* "No questions."




Theoretically, I should just buzz through all the questions but this is becoming a veritable wall of text and we're getting close to the typical 25K limit for a forum post.

So... let's have your votes and we'll resume Monday, 5:30 PM .

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Fri
2015-08-29, 09:35 PM
The thing that interest me most from Captain Baelyn's story is less about the honor of the imperial (we all already know they're all kinda wacko) and more about how she just pragmatically defected. She didn't change side because of ideological reason, she just thought it's the proper career move. Captain Baelyn is an interesting person.

Also, ask all the questions.

CoreBrute23
2015-08-29, 11:40 PM
Let's ask all the questions. Fri and I seem to be on the same page again, it's rather disconcerting.

Legato Endless
2015-08-31, 02:59 PM
Ask everything

necrochicken
2015-08-31, 08:01 PM
Ask it all.

pendell
2015-08-31, 08:25 PM
Ask all the questions it is.

"Are you sure I'm the right pilot for the job?"



Doctor Chatham's face remains expressionless but he nods emphatically. "Yes, I am."

"How can you be sure of that?" you reply. "You just met me."

"That is true," the scientist concedes, "but I already have all the psychological data I need on all three of you."

He holds up his data tablet and taps it with his finger, an indulgent expression on his face. "Everything I need is right here. I made a request of our mutual friends in military intelligence and they were quite accommodating."

You nod. So that's what those secret debriefings were about yesterday.



So it was none of the above; the questions were to determine our suitability for the project.


"Why all the secrecy?"



Doctor Chatham stares at you as if you were some kind of idiot.

"The Lionheart project is the product of three years and millions of hours of labor. It has required the talents of hundreds of professionals, many of whom are now, regrettably, dead. CoDEC has spent an immense fortune on bringing this project to fruition; Wellington Defense Industries has matched that sum several times over."

The doctor steps forward and meets you eye to eye.

"However, much of that effort will go to waste if security is not maintained. The Lionheart's main weapon is the fact that even the Imperial pilots who have seen it in action can only guess as to its true capabilities. What the Imperials do not know, they cannot counter, allowing you and future Lionheart pilots to leverage your machines' strengths with near impunity."

Chatham smiles again, just as coldly. "Oh yes, there will be future pilots. Once we have shown the conclusive effectiveness of the prototype machine to the mass fleets of both sides, the defense committee will be falling over itself to pay us to make more. Mark my words, we shall have entire lances equipped with Lionhearts by the end of the year, and they will turn the tide of the war!"


There needs to be an evil laugh at that point.


"What happens if I get the LIONHEART destroyed"?



Doctor Chatham shrugs. "Then you shall die unless you manage to eject in a timely fashion, I suppose."

For a moment, there is an awkward pause, then the doctor catches on to the true meaning of your question.

"If the prototype model is destroyed, then we shall simply build more. WDI has the plans and specifications on file, it would be simple to build a new model and retrofit the new machine with any modifications which might have been made to it."

The doctor shakes his head. "We are not characters in a children's show,"he says chidingly. "We are quite capable of building replacement machines. Compared to that, finding a replacement pilot to fly it would be mere child's play."

You're not sure how comfortable you are with that answer.



Ah, a brilliant sociopath. That's all the questions then.



Doctor Chatham nods. "Excellent, then I have one final item on the agenda: the Lionheart itself."

The doctor taps a few icons on his data tablet and shows the three of you the screen. Displayed is a wireframe model of the Lionheart in exacting detail.

"My original plan was merely to update the Lionheart's flight system with its own dedicated software. This software is designed specifically to work with the Lionheart, thus preventing any repeat of the rather nasty malfunction you encountered on your first test run."

Chatham taps another icon. The screen on the tablet changes to a flow-chart diagram of what you assume to be the Lionheart's dedicated flight software. "In addition, I was considering the option of installing a predictive control module capable of increasing your reaction time significantly."

Before you can reply, the doctor holds up a finger. "However, it has also come to my attention that the Caliburn's battlegroup has managed to recover a certain crate from the WDI facility on Vedria Prime?"

Captain Baelyn nods. "That's correct, doctor."

Doctor Chatham smiles again. "Well then, I have permission to inform you that the crate contains the parts for a prototype particle rifle capable of fully automatic fire. It was, to be frank, the gun the Lionheart was built around. The rifle the machine is currently equipped with is nothing more than a stop-gap test model. I have authorization to recover, assemble, and install that weapon onto the Lionheart, if you should so wish."

You nod, though you can't be sure if you're paying attention. If what the doctor is saying is accurate, the weapon inside the white crate tucked in the corner of the hangar bay is a weapon capable of giving the Lionheart the ranged firepower of dozens of Grenzers or Manninghams.

Doctor Chatham pays no heed to your reaction. "Am I also to understand that you have captured and repaired an Imperial monosaber?"

Chief Weaver nods. "Yup, the Lieutenant Commander here captured it off the wrecked machine of the Blue Masque himself."

"Who? Doesn't matter." Chatham seems to care little for the fame of enemy aces. "The important thing is that may be possible to install it onto the Lionheart's frame. With the resources available at Crown Station, it can certainly be done in a timely fashion."

You consider the implications. Unlike a chain knife, a monosaber can cut through armor, no matter how heavy or dense; unlike an energy-hungry plasma blade, it requires next to no power to use, power which may be diverted to other purposes, like thrusters.

Doctor Chatham turns to you. "There is a problem: the Lionheart only has the ability to mount one of these modifications at a time. As you are the pilot, I shall allow you the privilege of deciding which modification is to be installed."



Guys? I'm sorry but I have to intervene at this point.

I have access to the game source code, and the "predictive control module" does absolutely nothing. The sole reason it exists is to give us something to install if we were not able to acquire either the advanced particle rifle (in the box back on Vedria) or the monosaber (by taking it from the Blue Masque).

So with that firmly in mind I will not allow a vote for the experimental control module. We've worked too hard to allow our effort to be wasted.

But that does give us one of two upgrades to choose from:


Vote 71:
After some thought, you pick

* The experimental particle rifle.

* The captured monosaber.


After we've decided on an upgrade, we move on.



The next sixteen hours pass slowly. The CALIBURN's hangar bay, still under marine guard, soon fills with teams of men and women in strange jumpsuits, marked with arcane security badges and armed with tools you have never seen before.

Doctor Chatham seems an entirely different person. As soon as he and his team start working, his eyes gleam with the zeal of a visionary and he sets about organizing his teams of technicians with feverish enthusiasm. All other considerations fall to the wayside, and soon, he is entirely subsumed by his work.

Captain Baelyn leaves within an hour, pleading the need to return to her administrative duties, but plainly bored by the proceedings. Chief Weaver is anything but. he follows the newcomers around like a hawk, scrutinizing every movement and every alteration, however temporary, to the personal kingdom that is "his" hangar bay.

Regardless, you are subject to even greater scrutiny.


You end the day exhausted, with barely enough strength to stagger to your quarters, tumble into bed and fall asleep. You are so tired that you don't even have the energy to dream.

However, you have noticed something. The experiences of the last few battles have honed your skills and capabilities. While you did not have time to notice it in the heat of battle, Doctor Chatham's physically demanding testing has let you realize that your abilities are continuing to grow.




Vote 72
Indeed, on the first day of testing, you realize that:

* My reflexes and coordination have been honed even more. [+1 Piloting]
* My situational awareness has improved. [+1 Perception]
* I've become more able to keep my cool. [+1 Willpower]
* I've become better at leading. [+1 Presence]
* Defer until the result of vote 71 is complete.


What's that last option about? Well, if you choose the particle rifle it's possible (but by no means certain) that you will max out your ranged particle weapon skill; if you do this, there will be no point to putting anything more in perception. But we won't know that until Vote 71 is done.

At any rate, this is your VERY LAST CHANCE TO IMPROVE YOUR STATS. So choose well!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

smuchmuch
2015-08-31, 08:58 PM
Given this discussion, BARRING ANY ACES IN THE HOLE, we should win the upcoming battle.
Subtle much ? :smalltongue:

But Honnestly, I'm not sure I'm buying Baelyn explanation anyway. While she's a very inteligent woman and the empire does have this whole 'honnorable (and quite stupid) mentality ,it's also pretty clear there some ressentement and contempt here, and it's colorring her jugement and analysis.

Besides bombing civilian is considered 'disohonorable' by their ow standarts and yet they were still doing it happily, so, lately at least, they are quite willing to sacrifice some honor for the sake of pragmatism. If being 'fair play' was that customary of the empire then shouldn't have such a situation came up in other battle before ? (surely that can't be the first batte where they had a laarge numbe advantage ?) Why was it such a surprise that they did it this battle ? No there was obviously more going on.

The empire wasn't being more honnorable than it could afford to be. They still won the battle anyway, through sheer numbers. It's very clear they don't give it a crap about their conscripts or at the very least would count them as acceptable losses, weither keepin all of their ship in a defensive position that, meant to the large egg shaped object that had 'your local deathstar equivalent' written all over it.

(It does make me wonder though, what if we had taken the third option nad choose to leave both the codec group and the civilian and plow trhough the unguarded enemy fleet instead, would that have changed things majorly ? Probably not)

And what'd'ya know after our not quite whole but still burning defeat, our whole defensive strategy is hinging on massing all our fleet around a heavily defense station that would be a perfect target for a technological magic bullet.

Anyway, let's ask all the questions cuz we're "the protagonist" and therefore the whole word must bow to the whims of our curiosity

edit: Darn, ninjaed. Editing some new votes

* The experimental particle rifle.

We are not honnorable peoples so lt's press our already huge advantages to nearly ridiculous levels.
(Oh boy, I do hope Hawkins show up for thirds.)


Well, if you choose the particle rifle it's possible (but by no means certain) that you will max out your ranged particle weapon skill; if you do this, there will be no point to putting anything more in perception.

myeh but that rifle is some sort of equipement, right ? Is there a possiblity we might loose it later ?

Fri
2015-08-31, 09:52 PM
(It does make me wonder though, what if we had taken the third option nad choose to leave both the codec group and the civilian and plow trhough the unguarded enemy fleet instead, would that have changed things majorly ? Probably not)


Actually, I'm not sure about the specific instance since it's been a while since I play this game, but I remember experimenting and finding out that doing some reckless choice might do change things considerably for good or bad.

Also, the experimental particle rifle and willpower.

Legato Endless
2015-08-31, 11:25 PM
The experimental particle rifle.

We are not a swordsman, we just collect them from the men who stalk us.

Defer

CoreBrute23
2015-09-01, 09:53 AM
Hmm. We've been having a lot of success with the rifle as is. We can take down the best of the enemy's forces from range-but we might have to get up close with the enemy at some point. Perhaps we need some more versitility?

Still it would be a waste to turn down a perfect weapon for us, so Take the Experimental rifle.

But let's put that point of training in piloting. I feel we are going to have to make some high flying maneuvers in the upcoming fight.

pendell
2015-09-01, 10:22 AM
myeh but that rifle is some sort of equipement, right ? Is there a possiblity we might loose it later ?


Given there's an achievement for maxing particle weapon skill, I don't think so. In-game, I think the construction of the device is in such a way that you couldn't lose the device without also getting the LIONHEART destroyed.

...

Incidentally, being KIA is a serious possibility, and it becomes ever more likely the further the story goes on.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

pendell
2015-09-02, 06:54 PM
We have a three way tie on stats which Randomella will break:

willpower: 66
defer: 79
piloting: 70

We'll defer the stat choice until the next update.



Max, max, max, max our unfair advantage!



Doctor Chatham nods as he tucks his tablet under his arm. "Very good. I shall have my team transferred from Crown Station and we may begin work immediately."

For the entire day, your hand-eye coordination is tested and retested. Your reflexes are timed down to the picosecond, the muscle and bone structure of everything from your trigger finger to your spine is examined, analyzed, and re-examined.

All of this is at Doctor Chatham's command. The old man insists that the prototype weapon be calibrated to conform exactly to the speed and form of your body and mind. "The bond between weapon and pilot must be as near-perfect as possible!" the doctor insists more than once.

Whatever other faults the man might have, he certainly doesn't do things by halves.



No achievement. We did NOT max our projectile skill and so adding to perception will improve that skill still further -- but we do have three other skills.

So we're back at the point we were at. Again, this is our last chance to improve stats:


Vote 72:
* Perception [ranged skill]
* Piloting [melee skill]
* Presence [bluff]
* Willpower [fortitude]


Oh, yes, and a tech update: PARTICLE STORM RIFLE


Designed specifically for the XCA-118 Lionheart, the Particle Storm Rifle is Wellington Defence Industries' latest attempt to amplify the destructiveness of particle weaponry with fully automatic fire capability. Instead of ejecting individual heatsinks when they are filled to capacity, the PSR mounts a cylindrical integrated cooling system made up of a large radiator system which constantly cycles a series of heatsinks.

As a result, the Particle Storm Rifle is capable of firing a rate of over 600 rounds per minute almost indefinitely.


600 rounds per minute indefinitely..? Good grief. Any Metal Gear Solid fans hear? I think we just got the "infinite ammo" headband coupled with a vulcan minigun to use it with.

At any rate, votes in by Friday, 5:30 PM.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Legato Endless
2015-09-02, 11:02 PM
* Perception [ranged skill]

I would rather we topped off our primary. Yeah it's not as interesting, but it's more likely we will need to pass a big check at some point in the climactic battle.

CoreBrute23
2015-09-03, 03:52 AM
I'm gonna stick with Piloting. We will need some sick ace moves to survive the coming battle.

Fri
2015-09-03, 09:54 AM
Will because it's kinda been crippling us so far.

Also, next thing we should do is figure out Randomella's personality from her votes :smallbiggrin:

pendell
2015-09-04, 05:24 PM
We have a three way tie, so ... Randomella?

perception - 70
piloting - 82
will - 26

Evidently she's been listening to "Highway to the Danger Zone" and wants to see some sick ace moves :smallamused:.



It happened an hour before the end of the day's tests. With everyone already exhausted, it was easy enough for one of Doctor Chatham's technicians to slip and fall off of one of the maintenance bay ladders.

You managed to catch the man and put him down safely on the hangar deck almost before you realized you were doing it.

It was only afterwards that the doctor told you that according to the readings he took earlier, your coordination and reflexes had developed greatly since your last physical evaluation, before you were assigned to the Caliburn.

Apparently, hours and hours of piloting a combat armature in battle have improved your ability to pilot a combat armature in battle.

Go figure.



New stats:

Piloting: 3
Perception: 4
Willpower: 1
Presence: 2



The next day is even more of the same. More tests, more examinations, more analysis. Only now, you are strapped into the Lionheart's cockpit as the long process of hardware installation begins. Once again, Doctor Chatham demands that everything be calibrated to his exacting standards.

That evening, you stumble back to your quarters, even more exhausted than the night before.

The promotion almost comes as an afterthought.

What? Oh yes!

The documents are waiting for you on the writing desk of your quarters. For your service to CoDEC's cause and your recent achievements in the battles for, and retreat from, Vedria Prime, the Defense Committee has promoted you to the rank of Commander, with all benefits and privileges that entails.

The news is welcome but you have no energy left to celebrate it. Promotion or no, you tumble into bed and fall asleep as your head hits the pillow.



Congratulations. Your interview with the intelligence officer and your performance in battle convinced them you needed another half-stripe on your uniform. Mechanics-wise, this means that you will be in command of operations and will not need to defer to a superior officer. While you still report to Captain Baelyn -- and through her, the CODEC high command -- you will not encounter a combat armature pilot of higher rank, so this will give you a freer hand of action than you would as a lowly Lieutenant Commander.



The third day is spent finishing up the process of hardware installation. Where you had been measured and calibrated to fit the machine on the first day, the machinery is now tweaked and re-calibrated to fit you.

With an hour or two left in the day, you finally have a chance to power up the LIONHEART and work with the new modifications yourself.

You are obviously not allowed to fire off the weapon inside the hangar bay, of course, but you do get a feel for its weight and heft. In your head, you know that the prototype rifle is twice as heavy as the previous particle weapon which the LIONHEART had mounted, but the recalibration of theLIONHEART's arm had been so precise that you barely feel the difference.

You have to admit, Doctor Chatham and his team did an excellent job of installing the new weapon.

For the first time in three days, you finish up a few minutes early. Doctor Chatham, the enthusiasm in his voice fading now that his work is done, coolly informs you that your machine should be ready for action the next morning.

You barely hear him as you stumble out of the hangar bay towards the galley, where you eat your first proper dinner in three days.

You don't even remember falling asleep.


ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED:Simohayha: White Death
You maxed out your ranged combat ability.


Oh, my! I guess they deliberately didn't tell us that to psych us into putting more points into perception -- or maybe they only count the gun itself?

Somehow I doubt it.



The next morning, you wake up in your quarters to the harsh squawking of the alert klaxon. The ship shifts and shudders as you pick yourself out of bed. The Caliburn is undocking from Crown Station.

From the display mounted on your screen, you can see that the rest of the fleet is in motion as well, the pale-blue fire of their main drives lighting up the blackness of space in vast, ordered arrays.

As quickly as you can, you get dressed, for there can only be one reason why the entire fleet would be moving forward in battle formation:

The enemy is here.

For the second time in a week, you are going to face the Imperial Grand Fleet in combat.


Sounds like this is it, guys. Grand Finale time. Everyone ready?


EPISODE 7: A Colossal Clash! The Battle For Fleet Base Crown





CALIBURN Battlegroup, Near Fleet Base Crown, Vedria System

The Imperial Grand Fleet is no less impressive the second time you lay eyes upon it.

Rank upon rank of enemy warships, left untouched by their previous battle over Vedria, face you and your allies in perfectly arranged formations, daring you to attack them, to deal damage to the mighty sleek-hulled craft who had faced the Caliburn and her battlegroup over Vedria and come through without a scratch.

The fact that you were able to survive your first encounter is a comfort but a slight one at best.

However, this time is different from your last engagement with the Imperial Grand Fleet. This time, you and your allies go into battle with the hope of something other than a desperate defense in mind. This time, you have a chance at victory.

This time, you have a fleet of your own.

The CoDEC force arrayed in front of Crown Station is nowhere near as well-ordered or uniform as the Imperial battle squadrons facing it, but the converted freighters, converted starliners, and handful of purpose-built warships mount heavy particle cannons and missile tubes just as deadly as the ones carried by their Imperial counterparts.

Better yet, for this fight, your allies almost match the Imperial ships in numbers. The CoDEC Defense Committee has put every battlegroup, every patrol squadron, and every armed vessel into this battle. With a crucial strategic objective like Crown Station and the approaches to the rebellion's core systems at stake, High Command has thrown together every battle-ready asset they could.

This is the best shot at victory you're ever going to get.





Vote 73:
How do you feel about the upcoming battle?

* If we fight hard enough, we can end this war today.
* I look forward to getting myself a lot of fresh kills today.
* Too many people will die today, regardless of who wins.
* I only hope that victory here will end this war.





You keep one eye on your tactical display as the carriers of the advancing Imperial fleet begin to disgorge their payloads of combat armatures. Within moments, they form into lances in front of their base ships.

The impies have learned their lesson from the last time. Today, the Imperial mecha do not rush ahead. Today, they maintain their screening formation in front of the wall of battle as the heavy ships of the Imperial fleet begin closing on the amassed vessels of your allies.

This time, the Imperial ships and combat armatures will be able to protect each other with mutual fire. To hit the warships, you and your allies would have to fight through the enemy machines while braving the point-defense fire of the enemy fleet's guns.

The Imperial mecha begin arranging themselves in a curious formation. Some of the enemy machines stay close to the ships of their fleet's wall of battle while others take position further out.

It doesn't take you much time at all for you to discern the enemy's intentions. Conventional military doctrine demands that combat armatures assume the tightest formations possible for the attack to help concentrate firepower, like they did over Vedria Prime. For defense, however, commanders are supposed to spread out their mecha along all three dimensions, to provide "depth" so that any attacker isn't so much attacking one line of defenses as they are being enveloped by a cloud of enemies.

Despite the enemy's superior numbers and the better quality of their warships, they've opted to keep on the defensive, as if to keep their warships from being entangled with your own fleet's wall of battle. What could the Imperials be plotting?



Seems they've learned a thing or two, but are deploying defensively. Why?



Before the enemy can engage you and your allies, you order a quick pre-combat check on your unit-wide comms.

Eternal-Vigi-Two here," Asadi reports.

"Let's stop these b*st*rds!."

"Eternal-Vigi-Four, ready for action."

"What? Oh! Yeah! "Eternal-Vigi-Five, ready!"

"Eternal-Vigi-Three, we're doing great over here!"

""Eternal-Vigi-Six, I await your command."

With every member of your lance reporting combat readiness,
you turn to your own status displays, taking an especially careful look at the newly installed module on the LIONHEART's control deck.

So far, it seems like the particle storm cannon is working just as advertised. All status lights read green, though you have no idea if they'll stay that way once you actually fire the damn thing.

Hopefully, it all stays that way.

By now, the advancing Imperial machines have assumed their formation, their warships right behind them. The forward lances of the Imperial force begin advancing at a faster pace, easily flying ahead of the vast majority of their forces. Perhaps a dozen of them are heading for your lance's position. VALLIERs, a band of fools, easily outpacing any machines that might support them, are ready to get themselves killed.





Vote 74:
How will you meet these first enemies?

#Snipe at them from afar while keeping our distance.
#Rush forward and engage them at close range.
#Stand fast and fight defensively.
#Rally nearby allies and annihilate them with a counterattack.

CoreBrute23
2015-09-05, 02:28 AM
* I only hope that victory here will end this war.

#Snipe at them from afar while keeping our distance.

Fri
2015-09-07, 09:05 AM
Ugh I'm sick as a dog here.

* I only hope that victory here will end this war.

#Snipe at them from afar while keeping our distance.

pendell
2015-09-07, 11:01 PM
All right, we hope to end the war today, and we will snipe from afar.



Both sides have thrown as many of their eggs as possible into a single basket today. If your side is able to win a decisive victory here, the Imperials might even back down and sue for peace.

If you win.



And now we'll try out our new rifle, shall we?



You give the order to engage the incoming enemy at range.

Eternal Vigi- Lance quickly moves into position around you, readying their particle rifles and autocannons as the first of the swift enemy machines comes into range.

Hoping that the experimental particle weapon works as well as Doctor Chatham assured you it would, you pick a target, level your weapon, and pull the trigger.

The particle storm rifle lives up to its name. A hail of blue fire lashes out from the massive weapon, tearing into the enemy formation in a deadly stream of exotic particles.

The fragile Imperial machines stand no chance—your first long burst rips through three of the lightly armored Valliers before they even figure out what's going on, leaving nothing but scraps of debris and clouds of superheated metal behind.

The remaining Imperials press onwards. Though you cannot fault their bravery, you're becoming less sure about their intelligence—and their sanity. All along the battle line, other CoDEC machines are opening fire on the rest of the enemy vanguard. Tracers and charged particles light up the black of space with orange and blue fire.

You fire off another burst from your terrible weapon. You barely have to aim. The sheer volume of fire means that another two enemy machines explode into fragments under the formidable force of your hits.

The Imperial machines stop their suicidal advance as self-preservation overrides courage. The remaining enemy mecha beat a hasty retreat before they even come close.

All along the front line, the enemy units disengage and return to the main bulk of their force. You have dealt the Imperials a stinging first blow.


Confirmed Kills: 85




As the decimated forces of the Imperial fleet's first wave fall back, the main body of the enemy fleet moves up slowly to meet them. Behind you, the warships of the CoDEC battle line advance slowly as well.

You've been in enough fleet battles to know what will happen. The two walls of massive warships will meet head on, exchanging volleys of missiles and high-powered particle weapons. In the meantime, you and your fellow CoDEC pilots will jockey and maneuver for advantage—a game of thrust and parry played with hundreds of massive war machines. Each side will attempt to break through the others' defensive screen and likewise, each side will try to protect their own fleet from their counterparts.

Sometimes, the battles end inconclusively, when both sides consider the risks of remaining on the field to be too high and withdraw. Today, both sides are set on fighting this battle to a decisive conclusion. One fleet will leave this battle victorious, the other will limp away defeated, or be utterly destroyed.

With several minutes remaining until the opposing fleets reach effective range, you have time to consider your options and ready your lance accordingly.

The obvious option would be to prepare your unit for a charge into the midst of the enemy force. Although the enemy forces arrayed against you are formidable, other allied units would surely be carrying out the same course of action. And if you do break through into the Imperial fleet, you and your elite pilots could do a great deal of damage, perhaps even enough to win the battle.

Of course, some of the commanders on the other side might have the same idea. Imperial lances will likewise be trying to break through and wreck your fleet as well. Preparing to meet such an attack would always be a safe option. By retreating closer to your own ships, you'd be better prepared to stop any Imperial breakthrough before it could do any real damage.

Alternatively, you could choose to hold your current position in the middle of the assembled CoDEC combat armatures. You'd be able to launch an attack or fall back to defend the ships without too much difficulty, and you'd also be in a flexible enough a position to react to any surprises the Imperial fleet might decide to spring on you or your allies.





Vote 75:
After considering the situation, you decide to:

* Move my lance forward and prepare for an attack.
* Have my lance fall back to be closer to the ships of the CoDEC fleet.
* Keep my lance where it is, retaining tactical flexibility.





Bit by bit, the battle lines of the two immense fleets edge closer, like two immense walls of armor and weaponry.

Slowly, the massive formations of combat armatures caught in between begin to shift position.

No combat armature pilot wants to be caught between two fleets duking it out if they can do anything about it. The sheer volume of fire being traded between the massed warships would mean that any mecha caught in the fray would quickly be hit, and considering the firepower involved, such a hit would almost surely be fatal.

The seconds seem to slow to eternity as the two formations continue their ponderous advance towards mutual annihilation.


You take a ragged breath as you feel your chest tighten. You've seen the spectacle that is to come a dozen times before but the final moments before the first salvo have never gotten easier to live though. You try to force yourself to be calm, even as your pilot suit grows clammy with sweat and each fleet waits for the other to open fire.
The Imperials fire first.

Bright flashes ripple down the vast formation of enemy warships. An immense wave of fiery silver threads streaks outwards from the Imperial fleet, each one the drive trail of a missile tipped with a warhead capable of levelling a city.

A moment later, your own fleet responds with a massed missile broadside of their own.

After a moment of darkness, the familiar silver trails of missile drives fly out towards the Imperial fleet.


Both massive volleys approach each other through the lane of empty space which both sides' mecha have cleared. Only the most foolhardy or suicidal pilot would risk their neck in this storm of fire.

Within moments, two swarms of missiles cross each other like strings in a weaver's loom. Each missile will take no more than ten or twelve seconds to cross the two hundred or so kilometers between the two fleets. For nearly three quarters of that time, those on board the ships targeted for destruction can do nothing save wait for their own annihilation to approach them, but then….

As both missile salvoes close in on their targets, the blackness of space is lit bright orange by streams of tracer. The point-defense guns of both ships spit desperate defiance at the oncoming tides of death. Had this battle been in an atmosphere, the air would be filled with the throaty roar of their rapid-firing, rotating barrels.

In the cold vacuum of space, there is only light and silence.

The leading edges of the incoming swarm of Imperial missiles explode in an eye-searing foam of white heat as the CoDEC fleet's storm of defensive fire begins to pick off the foremost of the enemy's warheads. Ahead of you, a galaxy of far-off flashes show that the Imperial fleet is doing the same thing.

The darkness of space is all but burned out by the light of point-defense fire and missile drives. Dozens of targeting AIs and gunners do their best to thin out the enemy's missile attack, though many will make it through by sheer numbers alone.
*page_break
Then, the enemy's missiles pass by you in an instant. The powerful drives onboard each of the enemy missiles have accelerated each weapon beyond what is possible even for the fastest of combat armatures. At such a speed, missiles are difficult to intercept, save through sheer volume of fire, and are impossible to dodge, especially for a target as large and ponderous as a warship.

The point-defense guns have done their job well. Out of the hundreds of thousands of missiles volleyed at the CoDEC fleet, tens of thousands have fallen to concentrated defensive fire. Even more have been driven off course or prematurely detonated by the use of the fleet's invisible defenses, electronic countermeasures designed to confuse and misguide missile targeting computers. However, these defenses, though formidable, are not impenetrable. Hundreds of enemy warheads make it through and slam into their targets at impossible velocities.

The blackness of space burns white-hot as the light of antimatter annihilation washes out from the impacts of those enemy missiles lucky enough to have reached their targets.

The ships of the CoDEC fleet die by the pitiless, annihilating force of antimatter warheads. Some of the other machines near you turn around. Their pilots want to take a look.

You turn with them. There is a strange beauty to such death on a massive scale and you have never been bored by the spectacle of a warship's final moments.

Before the light of missile impacts and dying ships can fade away, another series of flashes lights up space once again: the fleet is firing a second salvo. In the darkness beyond, the Imperial fleet's response follows soon after.
*page_break
For a few minutes, the two fleets continue volleying missiles at each other. This exchange of heavy ordnance is the heart of any major space engagement but it is rarely decisive when evenly matched numbers of ships are pitted against each other. This is a match of attrition and ultimately, a distracting spectacle to keep the other side's wall of battle in place and occupied while the combat armature pilots, the decisive arm, exploit any weaknesses in the enemy formation opened up by the missile exchange, or errors in the opposing commander's judgement, and win the battle.

The problem is, the enemy combat armatures aren't moving, and their formation, though cracking under the stress of the constant missile assault, shows no obvious weak points. With an attack on the enemy fleet unlikely to succeed, and the enemy still keeping their own mecha ready, your only real course of action is to hold position in case the enemy should attack, until some opportunity to press your own attack can be found.

Until you and your fellow mecha pilots are called into action, you can do nothing but watch the slow mutual destruction of the two opposing fleets from a safe distance.

As the fleet battle drags on, time seems to slow. You begin to lose your patience. You curse the Imperials for their inability to commit to an attack, and for wasting your time like this.

A new comm window pops up on your display. It's Asadi—your wingman's own patience appears to be at an end.

"Boss, our guys in the fleet are dying down there. Can't we do anything to help them?"



Vote 75:
#Asadi's right, we should be trying to find a way to make a difference.
#Maybe we should wait a little longer. I don't want to jump the gun.
#Asadi's out of line. I'll give the order when I judge the time to be right.



So : Decide your tactical disposition and then decide whether you're going to try to do something, or hold on just a bit longer.

Votes in by ... Tuesday, 5:30 PM. Unless you feel you need more time, due to the lateness today. If enough people say they want an extension, I'll give it.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Legato Endless
2015-09-08, 12:33 PM
Retain tactical flexibility

Wait a little longer

pendell
2015-09-09, 08:56 PM
We have a consensus to retain tactical flexibility and wait a little longer.



You give the order to your lance to hold your position.

From your current location, your view of the enemy is blocked by the lances deployed in front and to the side of you, but you remain confident in the fact that you will still be able to respond quickly to the CoDEC warships still ponderously advancing behind you, should any lucky or skilled Imperial pilots break through the defensive screen before they cause too much trouble.

In addition, you know that you are still far forward enough to launch an attack if necessary, though you will have to fly through the CoDEC units in front of you before you can get a good view of the enemy formation and pick a good place to attack.

However, until the battle proper is joined, there will be no further attacks by either side. All you can do is wait.



We wait. The battle drags on indecisively as the Imperials refuse to attack. Asadi gets impatient.



You shake your head. "Not yet. Give it some more time."

"Dammit, boss!" Asadi snaps. "We've already waited long enough!"

"If we move too early, the Imperials will attack and catch us out of position. Being hasty here might cost us the ba—"

Then, the universe explodes in a bright blast of silver and fire.



Yeah, that happened (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BlCM-3Ivbo)



our machine shakes violently, as if it were suddenly kicked by a giant boot. Your cockpit displays flash and cut out sporadically as your machine's computers try in vain to figure out what exactly is going on.

It takes three or four long seconds for the shaking to subside and the light to fade.

"What the hell was that?" Asadi gasps.

At least your comms are still working.

You try to get your bearings by orienting yourself on the CoDEC fleet, or at least, the lights from the point-defense fire and missile launches around it which should make the fleet obviously visible.

Except it isn't.

You don't see the flash of missile launches.

You don't see the firefly tracers of the fleet's defensive turrets.

You don't see the fleet.




Uh-oh.



You blink a few times, dumbly, as you stare at the spot in space where the amassed force of the CoDEC wall of battle had been just a moment ago.

Now, you can see nothing more than a vast field of shattered debris and a thin, hazy cloud of vaporised metal. Whatever that flash was, it tore out the heart of your fleet. Out of the dozens of warships which had come to Crown Station, only a handful remain—those on the edge of the fleet's formation, spared the damage of whatever killed the rest of the fleet.

The comm-lines come alive with panicked voices; pilots trying to contact their carriers, hardened warriors turned into frightened children by this sudden reversal, all searching for someone, anyone to report into.

You look around you for whatever could have dealt such a terrific blow to the rebellion's forces. That flash of light was like no weapon or natural phenomenon you have ever seen. Instead, you look around you for something out of place.

After a moment's searching, you find it.

Far above your head hovers the same massive object you saw with the Imperial fleet in the battle over Vedria, only now, it has unfolded like a giant, metal tulip. Its petals now stand outstretched, and a metallic arm pointing out from the center, crackling with malevolent energy, points right at where the center of CoDEC's wall of battle used to be.

The object's purpose is clear now. It is an Imperial superweapon, one which has likely just changed the course of the war.



Aaand ... we're surprised? I guess they held off on using it in the first battle to prevent us from being tipped off before the main fleet was deployed.



You freeze.

That Imperial superweapon just destroyed nearly the entire fleet in a single moment. How long before it fires again? How will you be able to escape when it unleashes its wrath upon the remnants of the CoDEC fleet a second time?

No, your mind screams, you can't. There's no way out, you're doomed.

Your hands shake, your arms and legs no longer seem to move on your command. They are frozen in position in your cockpit as your mind rattles around in your brain, as if it were a pilot in a combat armature made of meat and bone, seeking desperately to escape a dying machine.

"Boss? You okay?"

You try to nod, to respond that you're fine, that you've got this under control.

You can't. Your mouth won't move.

"Hey! Boss!"

Your eyes catch movement to your side and you turn just in time to see the fist of Asadi's Grenzer "tap" the side of your cockpit.

The blow isn't enough to do any damage but it is sufficient to rattle your cockpit, to bring you back to the present, and to focus your mind, if even for only a few moments.

"Kallen, you alright in there?"

You nod shakily, but are happy enough that your body's responding to your mind again.

"Yeah, I think I'll be okay. Thanks Feridoun."



That's a willpower fail, but thankfully we've got someone to help us recover.




In the distance, you see the flaring lights of a hundred starship drives and and mecha thrusters bringing the enemy into motion. Now that their trump card has been played, the Imperial fleet, seemingly so ponderous just a minute ago, springs into action.

With the enemy now in disarray thanks to the powerful first strike of their terrifying new weapon, the Imperial fleet throws the full weight of its formidable firepower at the scattered and confused remnants of the CoDEC fleet. Enemy combat armatures and light ships surge ahead of their wall of battle, all eager to score the killing blow to the rebellion's armed forces.

Behind you, the remnants of the once-proud CoDEC fleet is in complete disarray. Out of the dozens of ships that had opened the battle, only six or seven remain. You breathe a sigh of relief when you see the sleek silver shape of the Caliburn among them, her hull scorched and burning, but her continued existence an act of defiance against the Imperials and their superweapon.

The storm of frantic chatter continues over the comm lines as the surviving captains and lance commanders desperately try to restore some semblance of order, to prepare some kind of defense against the incoming enemy onslaught, no matter how futile.

Others are considering what is perhaps a more pragmatic course of action. Out of the ships still remaining, half, perhaps even more, are withdrawing from the battle. Dozens of the surviving allied mecha are fleeing with them, running for the wormhole, and for the safety of the defense perimeter in New Lisbon. You bear your fleeing allies no ill will. They are saving their skins, a perfectly natural response. Perhaps you should consider following them.

Perhaps retreating now would be a good idea. After all, the CoDEC fleet is shattered; command and communications have broken down entirely. The Imperial fleet will almost certainly overrun anyone who tries to stand and fight.

At least this way, you will save yourself.

If you are to retreat from the battle, it is best to do it now, before someone re-establishes command authority. Retreating without orders is bad enough but retreating while being ordered to stand and fight will probably get you shot by any inquiry.

Oh yes, there will be an inquiry. At least if you are lucky, they will be sympathetic, and merely discharge you from service.

Your window of opportunity is closing. Will you flee the battle or stand and fight?





Vote 77:
What now?

* I will retreat, even without orders.[NOTE: There is an "Are you sure you want to do this" vote to confirm this one]

* I will stand and fight



So ... if we decide to stand and fight, what are our options?





The amassed force of the Imperial Grand Fleet continues towards you in its mad charge, but in its haste, it has revealed a glaring weakness in its defense.

With the ships and combat armatures of the enemy fleet pushing ahead to finish off the ships of your allies, the slower capital ships of the Imperial wall of battle are lagging behind. Soon, they will have no cover from their lighter escorts or from the swarm of Imperial combat armatures pulling ahead of them. The Imperial fleet's precious capital ships, including its flagship are now open to attack.

There is no way you and your lance could take down the entire Imperial wall of battle, but maybe, if you get close enough to the enemy's flagship, you could force the entire enemy force to retreat by threatening the life of its commanders.

The problem with attacking the enemy heavy ships is that it allows the Imperial combat armatures and lighter warships to attack what's left of the fleet without your assistance. With a majority of the CoDEC mecha force now fleeing from the battle, every combat armature will be needed to help protect the few surviving CoDEC ships from the coming assault.

Lastly, there is the Imperial superweapon. High above the battle, it is preparing to fire again, only instead of aiming for the remnants of the fleet, it is shifting. The flares of maneuvering thrusters flare from its hull like pinpricks of light, aiming the massive device towards a new target.

Crown Station. And the millions of civilians on board.

If you are to save them, the Imperial superweapon must be disabled, and quickly.

These are the three actions before you. Choosing to do one will not allow you the time for another.

However, you could choose to split up your force. While you took on one objective, Asadi and the rest of your lance could take on another. It is a risky move—you won't have the covering fire of your lance-mates, and your lance-mates won't have you to lead them.

You will lose members of your unit, that is almost guaranteed, but the five, elite pilots under your command could make an enormous difference on their own, if you let them.






Vote 78:
How will you act?

* Retreat without orders. [restating from 77 to indicate this is an option].
* Defend the fleet from the incoming attack.
*** Defend the fleet from attack but order my wing to disable the superweapon.
*** Defend the fleet from attack but order my wing to strike the enemy flagship.
* Disable the Imperial superweapon before it can destroy Crown Station.
*** Disable the superweapon but order my wing to defend the fleet.
*** Disable the superweapon but order my wing to strike the enemy flagship.
* Strike at the enemy flagship and force the Imperials to retreat.
*** Strike at the flagship but order my wing to defend the fleet.
*** Strike at the flagship but order my wing to disable the superweapon.



This may be the most critical vote of the game. So get 'em in! See you on Friday, after 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

CoreBrute23
2015-09-09, 10:35 PM
Do we run or do we fight?

We know the answer here. "I continue to Fight!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiU5CaXCwlI

Disable the Imperial superweapon before it can destroy Crown Station.
*** Disable the superweapon but order my wing to defend the fleet.

norman250
2015-09-10, 02:38 PM
Hey there. This is my first post on these forums and I just have to say, I love this thread. I also really enjoyed your Life of a Wizard one, and hope you continue to do these Choice of Games threads.
Anyway, my votes are:
Stand and Fight

and *** Strike at the flagship but order my wing to disable the superweapon.

Fri
2015-09-11, 04:19 AM
Gah, look at what I missed the last few days because I was sick.

But hm yes, obviously we stand and fight. But do we attack the super weapon or the enemy flagship...

This is really hard choice.

I.... If I'm there I'd be frozen now.

I... I think we should attack the enemy flagship and order our lancemate to defend our fleet. We need the surviving fleet to fight for another day, and without their command, their super weapon would be useless.

pendell
2015-09-11, 06:42 PM
Hey there. This is my first post on these forums and I just have to say, I love this thread. I also really enjoyed your Life of a Wizard one, and hope you continue to do these Choice of Games threads.


Thank you :). I'll see what I can do about future let's plays.

We have two votes to strike the flagship ourselves and two votes to order Asadi to defend the fleet, so that's what we'll do.

By the way, retreating without orders is an insta-lose.


Albion, Faran System.

You don't know exactly what you're waiting for; you're not sure you ever did.

Still, here you sit, every day, a hunched form over the polished wood of the bar, breathing in the smell of smoke and spilled beer, a glass of whiskey in hand.

Sometimes you think about what got you here, what started what some might call your decline and fall.

Crown Station? Yeah, it had to be Crown Station, when the Imperials deployed their new superweapon and wiped out the CoDEC fleet. When you decided that survival was the better part of valor and decided
to retreat.

Retreat? Yeah, that's a good word for it.

Getting away had been the easy part. You weren't the only one trying to escape. One short hop through the wormhole put you safely in New Lisbon.

There had been no inquiry. After the disaster at Crown Station, the Defense Committee was in chaos. Desperate for a scapegoat, they began going after those who had survived the battle with a fanatic zeal fueled by pure desperation. Some had been discharged; some had been jailed. A few had even been shot out of hand. You weren't going to take your chances.

It was easy enough to ditch your combat armature, burn your uniform, and get on a ship heading far away from the war.

After all, you weren't the only one doing it. The rebellion was collapsing, and every man and woman with any self-preservation instinct whatsoever was trying to get away as fast as they could.

After that, it was a simple enough decision to return to your homeworld, but you couldn't come home.

No, too many people would recognize your face, especially after it'd been plastered all over the news back when the war was going better. They'd know you by sight.

You fled to a distant part of this planet, to some backwater town with a single landing pad and two bars.

This includes the one you're currently sitting in.

"In a statement from the Thermidor Palace this morning, Her Imperial Majesty has officially announced a full amnesty for all members of the CoDEC rebellion, excluding those who had previously served in the Imperial Fleet…."

You turn to the vidscreen, almost by instinct now. News from as far as Earth doesn't reach here often, and news that applies to you directly is even rarer.

"As you may remember," the newscast continues, "the rebellion was ended almost eighteen months ago, with the surrender of Londinium Station to the Imperial Grand Fleet, though a low-scale insurgency continues to plague Imperial peacekeeping forces in the outer systems."

You turn back to the bar as the newscast goes on to other, more inane matters. After Crown Station, the end of the war had been all but a forgone conclusion. Without a fleet, CoDEC could hardly resist a renewed Imperial offensive. Within months, the Defense Committee was staring down the ships of the Imperial Grand Fleet in person. There wasn't much anyone could do after that.

That, of course, is all old news.

You look down into your glass. Sometimes, when you look closely enough, you see faces reflected on the surface—the ones who accompanied you into that fateful battle and never came out.

Asadi, Watanabe, Weaver, Baelyn. You see them when you sleep and sometimes, you see them when you're awake. None of them had made it out of that battle alive. You left them to die, but you don't think they're ever going to leave you.

The drinking helps, usually. That's why you do so much of it. Still, there's not much else you can do except sit alone and drive the ghosts away with a bottle, waiting for—

Waiting for what, exactly?

#Waiting for the next rebellion.
#Waiting for a chance to rebuild my life.
#Waiting to die.
#I don't know what I'm waiting for.


THE END.



But ... that's isn't what we're doing , is it?



No, retreat is out of the question. You will not be a coward today.

When the enemy comes, you will meet them face to face.

The amassed force of the Imperial Grand Fleet continues towards you in its mad charge, but in its haste, it has revealed a glaring weakness in its defense.

With the ships and combat armatures of the enemy fleet pushing ahead to finish off the ships of your allies, the slower capital ships of the Imperial wall of battle are lagging behind. Soon, they will have no cover from their lighter escorts or from the swarm of Imperial combat armatures pulling ahead of them. The Imperial fleet's precious capital ships, including its flagship are now open to attack.

There is no way you and your lance could take down the entire Imperial wall of battle, but maybe, if you get close enough to the enemy's flagship, you could force the entire enemy force to retreat by threatening the life of its commanders.

The problem with attacking the enemy heavy ships is that it allows the Imperial combat armatures and lighter warships to attack what's left of the fleet without your assistance. With a majority of the CoDEC mecha force now fleeing from the battle, every combat armature will be needed to help protect the few surviving CoDEC ships from the coming assault.

Lastly, there is the Imperial superweapon. High above the battle, it is preparing to fire again, only instead of aiming for the remnants of the fleet, it is shifting. The flares of maneuvering thrusters flare from its hull like pinpricks of light, aiming the massive device towards a new target.

Crown Station. And the millions of civilians on board.

If you are to save them, the Imperial superweapon must be disabled, and quickly.

These are the three actions before you. Choosing to do one will not allow you the time for another. However, you could choose to split up your force. While you took on one objective, Asadi and the rest of your lance could take on another. It is a risky move—you won't have the covering fire of your lance-mates, and your lance-mates won't have you to lead them.

You will lose members of your unit, that is almost guaranteed, but the five, elite pilots under your command could make an enormous difference on their own, if you let them.

How will you act?




We've already decided that.



lright, Eternal Vigi- Lance! We've got too many incoming threats and not enough time to tackle them all," you announce, as calmly as you can. "We're going to need to split up."

You take a look at your tactical display and then at the massive enemy superweapon looming over your heads.

"Alright, Ensign Asadi, I need you to take the rest of the lance and defend the CALIBURN and what's left of our fleet.

You look back at the tactical display.

"While you're doing that, I'll be…

"…seeing if I can't scare off the enemy commander by attacking his flagship."



That's our decision.



The other members of your lance give their acknowledgment but Asadi still seems to have his misgivings.

"I hope you know what you're doing, boss."

"Just trust me, Asadi."

Asadi shrugs. "Trusting you has kept us alive so far. Might as well follow through."

Feridoun gazes into your eyes for a moment and takes a deep breath. "Just…" he manages, his voice chocked. "Just come back, okay?"

Before you can respond, the comm line closes.



Twue love. Is there anything more marvelous in the universe.




You charge forward, rushing towards the heavy warships of the Imperial Grand Fleet with as much speed as you can muster, knowing that the fate of the war could rest on your lone shoulders.

You rush towards the capital ships of the Imperial fleet as fast as you can, but your prior decisions have put you a considerable distance away from your objective. You are able to get quite close before the enemy ships detect you. Soon, storms of defensive fire spray out from the enemy vessels.

You are going to have to find and close in on your objective under fire. The enemy battleships' point-defense fire fills the blackness of space with fire but none of it even comes close to hitting you. You duck and weave out of the way before diving into the midst of the formation of enemy warships.

Then, you see it: the double-hull of the Imperial flagship, its admiral's pennon painted bright red against its silver hull. Putting the Lionheart's speed to good use, you rush into the center of the enemy formation, quickly turn towards the enemy flagship, and gun the throttle. The hail of Imperial tracers fall behind you. The enemy's point-defense turrets cannot traverse fast enough to keep up.

Untouched by enemy fire, you continue onwards, a lone warrior about to challenge the pride of the Imperial fleet.


Hrm. It's probably a good thing we put that extra point in piloting. We're untouched.



Star Marshal Steele's flagship is massive—two knife-like silver hulls attached to each other by an immense, tower-like superstructure, topped by an armored but exposed bridge, and a forest of communications masts.

The enemy fire slackens as you close in. The Imperial gunners probably don't want to accidentally hit their own flagship. You rush in between the two hulls of the Imperial battleship to avoid the flagship's own defensive fire, as you open a channel to the Imperial vessel.

"Imperial Flagship, this is Commander Kallen Sowano of the Coalition of Democratic Extrasolar Colonies. I am here to negotiate."

For a moment, there is only silence. You flatten the LIONHEART against the hull of the enemy flagship. If the Imperials refuse to talk, it will only be a matter of seconds before you are spotted. Then…

"Rebel pilot, this is Star Marshal Nicholas Steele of the Imperial Battleship ORIFLAMME, Commander of the Grand Fleet. You are not, I think, in a position to negotiate."

You suppress a grin as you send the Lionheart shooting up out of your hiding spot with a precise burst of thrusters. In a single, fluid motion, you leap up in front of the ORIFLAMME's superstructure and bring your particle storm rifle to bear on the Imperial ship's exposed bridge.

"I beg to differ."


Well, that got his attention.



Steele's lips tighten. "What do you want?"

For some odd reason, the Imperial commander seems a lot more willing to bargain now that there is a gigantic particle rifle pointed at his face.






Vote 79:

* "I want your fleet to allow our forces to withdraw unmolested."
* "I want you to power down your superweapon and spare Crown Station."
* "I want Crown Station spared and I want you to allow our forces to retreat."
* "I want your fleet to withdraw."


Note: Skill check vs. presence here. Obviously, the more reluctant Steele is to grant your demand, the higher presence required.

So ... what are you going to tell Steele you want?

We'll resume Monday, 5:30 PM.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

PS. Fri, I'm sorry to hear you were sick. I hope you're doing better now!

Legato Endless
2015-09-11, 07:44 PM
Our presence is only a 2, so we should probably not go for the gusto and try for something reasonable.


"I want your fleet to withdraw."

This sounds like the hardest check. Steele giving up the entire battle when he's on the cusp of victory requires more moxy than we've got going for us, unless he's a complete coward and short sighted enough to fail to see what his superiors will do to him for wrenching defeat from the jaws of victory.


"I want Crown Station spared and I want you to allow our forces to retreat."

This is less absurd, but it's still a massive demand. Maybe we could make this work, but it seems unlikely.


"I want you to power down your superweapon and spare Crown Station."

I'm guessing this is the easiest check, as it doesn't really cost Steele anything if he still finishes off the fleet, heck, he can spin it into a magnanimous gesture. We can definitely make this. But...

"I want your fleet to allow our forces to withdraw unmolested."

I think this is our best bet. We're concerned about civilians, but we're still a solider with a cause first. We have to make the hard choices. No fleet means no hope of victory. And we almost certainly have the wherewithal to rationalize any recriminations for Imperials slaughtering civilians. It's horrible, but letting the fleet die is unconscionable.

Fri
2015-09-11, 10:58 PM
Can't we just frickin shoot steele?

CoreBrute23
2015-09-12, 12:13 AM
Can't we just frickin shoot steele?

Then we won't have any negotiating power and someone else will fire the weapon, kill the fleet, murder us in that order. If he fears for his selfish life he might hold back the fleet, but if he dies, someone in another ship will take command and continue the order.

* "I want Crown Station spared and I want you to allow our forces to retreat."

norman250
2015-09-12, 02:35 AM
Our presence is only a 2, so we should probably not go for the gusto and try for something reasonable.



This sounds like the hardest check. Steele giving up the entire battle when he's on the cusp of victory requires more moxy than we've got going for us, unless he's a complete coward and short sighted enough to fail to see what his superiors will do to him for wrenching defeat from the jaws of victory.



This is less absurd, but it's still a massive demand. Maybe we could make this work, but it seems unlikely.



I'm guessing this is the easiest check, as it doesn't really cost Steele anything if he still finishes off the fleet, heck, he can spin it into a magnanimous gesture. We can definitely make this. But...

"I want your fleet to allow our forces to withdraw unmolested."

I think this is our best bet. We're concerned about civilians, but we're still a solider with a cause first. We have to make the hard choices. No fleet means no hope of victory. And we almost certainly have the wherewithal to rationalize any recriminations for Imperials slaughtering civilians. It's horrible, but letting the fleet die is unconscionable.



This makes sense to me.
I also vote: I want your fleet to allow our forces to withdraw unmolested

Fri
2015-09-12, 02:44 AM
Then we won't have any negotiating power and someone else will fire the weapon, kill the fleet, murder us in that order. If he fears for his selfish life he might hold back the fleet, but if he dies, someone in another ship will take command and continue the order.

* "I want Crown Station spared and I want you to allow our forces to retreat."

I'll take this "request" then.

pendell
2015-09-14, 10:46 PM
It looks like we have a tie between asking for the fleet to be permitted to withdraw or shooting for the moon [heh] and asking for both the fleet AND crown station. Time for Randomella to step in.

Fleet only: 21

Fleet + Crown station: 36

Randomella wants to shoot for the moon as well.

Makes sense that a gambler would be a risk-taker.



The Star Marshal sits back in his chair, steepling his fingers in a pensive gesture. "You ask a great deal for someone facing down the might of the Imperial Fleet with a lone combat armature. Convince me as to why I should agree to your demands."

You shrug. "Because I have a really big gun pointed at you?"

The Imperial commander shakes his head. "I have been a soldier a very long time, Commander. I have had a great number of very large guns pointed at me, yet somehow I am still alive. I remain unconvinced this time will be any different."

Steele turns to the officer beside him with an astonishing sang-froid. "Fire."


Sorry guys. The skill check was beyond your capabilities. I think -- I KNOW --you could have got either the fleet by itself OR spared crown station , but asking for both was simply too much. You'd have needed to build a presence specialist to make that happen.

There was , of course, no possibility whatsoever that the Imperial fleet would withdraw under any circumstances. Not after they'd just won the battle and broken the stalemate. Star Marshal Steele considers himself expendable to achieve that objective.

At least Asadi is still guarding the fleet, so hopefully they won't all die.

In the spoiler box, here's the success text if we had succeeded in the roll. I'm putting it up because there's some good writing, IMO.


The Star Marshal sits back in his chair, steepling his fingers in a pensive gesture. "You ask a great deal for someone facing down the might of the Imperial Fleet with a lone combat armature. Convince me as to why I should agree to your demands."

You think quickly for a response. You could have easily talked Steele into sparing Crown Station or the fleet's survivors alone, but to do both would be a great deal more difficult.

You take a deep breath. "Your superweapon has wrecked our fleet. What's left won't regroup until we're on the other side of the wormhole. Crown Station bears you no threat; it is completely unarmed."

"They are, however, still lawful military targets. Enemy warships do not become innocents simply by the actions of retreating, and the presence of the fleet base on Crown Station makes a target worth destroying," Steele interjects.

You nod. "Yes, they are legitimate targets but they are also defenseless ones. Where is the danger in shooting at enemies that won't shoot back? Where is the fairness? Where is the honor?"

The Star Marshal leaps out of his seat. "What would a damned rebel and traitor know about honor?" he exclaims.

"I know enough to see the choices laid out in front of you. You can blemish your victory with
two massacres or burnish it with two acts of mercy."

Steele leans back again. "What you call mercy, some might think of as foolishness."

You lean forward. The enemy commander is on the brink now; he only needs one more nudge. "You are
not those people. You are a better man than those people."

The Star Marshal pauses for a moment, then nods. "I suppose you are right. Very well, your fleet will be allowed to withdraw in peace. I will entreat Crown Station to surrender peacefully before a shot is fired. I only have one final condition…."

"You."

You aren't sure what to make of that.

Steele notes the confused expression on your face and elaborates. "In return for what you have asked of me. I expect you to power down your combat armature and surrender yourself to the Imperial Grand Fleet. That way, you won't simply pull the trigger the second I comply with your demand."

He has a point. There really is nothing stopping you from stabbing him in the back.

Will you do as he says and spare
the survivors of the fleet
and
Crown Station
the fury of the Imperial fleet? Or will you refuse in one final act of defiance?

#I surrender, power down the Lionheart, and wait to be taken prisoner.
#I will never surrender!





Your cockpit comes alive with proximity klaxons as your tactical display is blanketed by thousands of missile launches, all headed for you.

The Imperial commander has called your bluff but your particle storm rifle is still pointed right at the ORIFLAMME's bridge.



Vote 80:
With only seconds to act, will you pull the trigger?

* Yes , I'll fire on the Imperial flagship's bridge.
* No, I'll hold my fire.



So, Fri gets his wish -- this is your opportunity to kill Admiral Steele , if you want. Unimaginative, he is, but very brave, a perfect representative of the Imperial military.

Let's have votes in by 5:30PM, Wednesday, to see how we're going to get out of this one.


Respectfully,

Brian P.

Fri
2015-09-15, 03:04 AM
What? **** yeah, what else we could lose? How else we can soothe our soul that cries from our failure to protect everyone, other than killing the **** out of the one responsible?

Also, I'm not sure this particular session will have a happy ending anymore.

Legato Endless
2015-09-15, 03:31 AM
Hey, my analysis was dead on, excellent.

Well that's unfortunate. But at least we might go down in a blaze of glory. That will be fun for us.

So is there a reason not to shoot him?

Will we dodge the very likely lethal barrage better with our less than stellar piloting if we don't take a second to cap the Marshall?

pendell
2015-09-15, 08:09 AM
Hey, my analysis was dead on, excellent.

Well that's unfortunate. But at least we might go down in a blaze of glory. That will be fun for us.

So is there a reason not to shoot him?

Will we dodge the very likely lethal barrage better with our less than stellar piloting if we don't take a second to cap the Marshall?

No, shooting the Marshal or not will make not one iota's difference to the saturation salvo incoming.

The only reason I could offer is the consideration that, if you somehow survive the salvo, the most likely outcome will be to be picked up by the Imperial navy as a prisoner. Maybe they'd be just a little angry with the guy who just toasted their admiral? Or might they respect him as a brave enemy?

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Legato Endless
2015-09-15, 04:45 PM
Ah that makes sense.

Well, they should already hate us for that time we blew up their escape pods. And depending on if they know we have called for help when fighting our stalker. Oh this is not going to be pleasant.

pendell
2015-09-16, 06:46 PM
Okay, Steele will taste the rainbow . Cloudy, with a chance of particle storm.




You squeeze the trigger.

Your rifle spits pale-blue fire into the exposed tower of the ORIFLAMME's bridge. Surprise and shock flash over Steele's face before the comm link is cut off by the impact of your particle rifle.

Then, your cockpit rocks violently as the first of the enemy missiles strike your mecha. There is a bright flash and then all goes dark.


Well, at least Steele won't live to celebrate his victory. What next?



Unknown

You awaken to a bright light.

Well, perhaps "awaken" isn't really the the right term. For a few, fleeting moments, the darkness withdraws and blobs of white, grey, blue, all lit by harsh, antiseptic glare dance before your eyes.

You hear sounds: the faint beeping of some kind of machine, the familiar humming of a starship underway, and human voices too indistinct to make out. It almost feels as if you are submerged in cotton fluff—your eyes open but unseeing, your ears almost deaf.

For a few moments, the light and the muffled sound of distant voices dance around you. Then one of the voices gets louder, sharper. There is a hissing sound followed by a beep. With irresistable, unstoppable force, the darkness returns, the lights fade, the sounds fall silent.

When you wake again, the voices are gone, though the soft beeping remains. This time, however, the blobs of color and light before your eyes quickly coalesce into shapes—a ceiling adorned with blocky, utilitarian lights set flush into the surface.

Slowly, experimentally, you move your arms. Something clatters and something pulls back against your attempted movement. You look to your arm to find it bound to the frame of the bed by a pair of thick, black straps. Over them, to your side stands a slim, blond-haired figure, the upper half of his face obscured by a sky-blue mask.

Commandant Camille Hawkins offers you a thin, faint smile as he sees you stir.

"Hello, Commander Sowano."




Ah. We're prisoners of the Empire.

Don't give up hope, gentles. This chapter is programmed to start with you as a prisoner regardless of what you do. The specific circumstances can be adjusted -- did you save the fleet , or crown station -- but unless you lose the game entirely this new chapter always starts in Imperial hands.

We avoided the worst-case scenario, thankfully. So we're still in the game.




You take a moment to get a decent look at your surroundings.

First, the obvious—you're in a hospital bed; the white sheets, bright lights, and soft, strobing light of the console next to you (which was also the source of the beeping) can attest to that.

A second look around reveals exactly what kind of situation you're in. The walls are emblazoned with the sword, wings, and planet emblem of the Empire of Humanity Ascendant, your arms and legs are both strapped down, and it seems unlikely that anything short of a knife will break those bonds. A glance at the shadowed arch of the room's exit shows the bulky shadow of a pair of armored figures standing at attention over the door, preventing anyone from getting in…

…or out.

These signs, and Hawkins's presence, would point towards you being in some kind of Imperial military facility, a valuable prisoner of war at best, and a condemned woman awaiting execution for treason at worst.

The Imperial pilot watches you carefully as you make a note of your surroundings. Hawkins is in full uniform but not the pilot-suit he wore the last time you faced each other in battle. Instead, he wears a dark blue, tail-coated jacket over an immaculate set of tight, white trousers and a similarly spotless shirt. The whole thing is trimmed in real gold: Imperial officers' service uniform. You can certainly understand the attractions of such an outfit. Stylistically, it is an elegant relic of a more "civilized" age, much like the Empire itself, though you do have to admit that the Imperial ace cuts a dashing figure in that perfectly tailored outfit.

The Imperial ace patiently waits for you to finish looking around.

"I suppose you shall have questions, Commander. Ask them, and I shall do my best to answer."



Hawkins is volunteering to be Mr. Exposition? Well, why not?

First question: How do you know my name?



The Imperial ace doesn't seem to expect that.

"Your name?"

You nod. After all, you don't recall ever giving the Commandant your name when you met on the battlefield.

Hawkins points at your flight suit, sitting on a chair next to your bed, freshly cleaned and folded.

"It was on your uniform. It was also painted on the cockpit hatch of your machine."

The answer seems kind of obvious now, really.

"Was there anything else you wished to ask?"



Sure, why not.

"Where am I?"



he Imperial pilot nods at one of the Imperial sigils plastered on the wall of your room.

"You are on board the medical bay of Her Imperial Majesty's Starship ORIFLAMME, the flagship of the Grand Fleet. You are a prisoner of high value and I suppose the senior staff want you to be close at hand."

Hawkins takes a deep breath, as if distracted for a moment.

"As for where we are in space, I am afraid that is information of some priority. Your status as a prisoner means that I cannot disclose the location of our fleet."

That makes sense. If you are a prisoner of war, the impies should be trying to get info out of you, not the other way around. The fact that Hawkins has even bothered to answer your questions at all is a pretty big courtesy on the part of your enemies.

"Were there any other questions?"


"How long have I been out for?"



Hawkins shrugs.

"Two, maybe three days, I suppose? I couldn't give you an exact period. We've been rather busy since our victory, securing this side of the wormhole and all that."

That would make sense. The Imperial fleet had taken Vedria Prime and the wormhole aperture, but there was still a lot of space in between left to secure, not to mention the normal busywork of maintaining a force the size of the Grand Fleet—perimeter patrols to run, supply lines to create, maintenance to schedule.

It's almost satisfying to know that the enemy is going to have to work for their victory.

If Hawkins has caught wind of your inner thoughts, he shows no sign of it.

"Was there something else you wanted to ask about?"



Okay, so we've been out for 2 days or so.

"What happened"?



Hawkins tilts his head quizzically.

"I'm afraid you're going to have to be more specific than that, Commander. What happened to what?"

"Well, let's start with how I'm still alive. Last thing I remember was my machine getting hit by about five thousand of your missiles."

Hawkins shakes his head. "Not quite. Only one of those missiles hit when the Star Marshal ordered the fleet to fire on you. The blast from the first knocked out the others. How your machine survived even a single direct hit from an anti-capital ship missile is a question for the engineers currently looking over what's left of your combat armature."

The Imperial smiles a thin slash of a grin. "Of course, your machine is hardly in flyable condition anymore, so don't get any ideas. Did you have anything else to ask?"



So we were directly hit by an ASCM , and we're still alive by a miracle.

"What happened to me after I was captured?"



"Your machine was brought in and you were artificially induced into your detoxification cycle. You were rendered unconscious while the combat stimulants cycled out of your body normally. You woke up at the end of your detox cycle and here you are."

Hawkins is hiding something, you're almost sure of it. You did wake up at the end of your detox cycle but whoever was watching over you put you under again for some reason. You meet your Imperial counterpart's gaze, a tacit challenge. The Commandant hesitates but answers you.

"While you were under, the doctors did a full scan of your body. There has been some speculation regarding the biology of those pilots who were able to become excellent pilots despite minimal formal training. You were the first CoDEC pilot we've captured who's met the criteria."

You can't help but be a little curious. "What did they find?"

"That you are not some sort of telepathic mutant or next stage in the evolution of humankind. Biologically, you are a baseline human, same as us." The Imperial grins. "You have nothing else to owe for your skill. It is the product of combat experience and carefully nurtured talent."

Hawkins quickly changes the subject. "Was there anything else you were curious about?"




"What happened to the CoDEC fleet?"



Hawkins hesitates for a moment and you can almost see the Imperial pilot shudder.

"As you know, most of your fleet was…destroyed by our new weapon. As for the rest of your ships," Hawkins shrugs. "You should know better than me, pilot. You negotiated their safe passage out, or so I have been told. The Star Marshal is in a great deal of difficulty over that particular decision, I assure you. He may be a man of honor but some of his superiors are of a more…pragmatic mindset."

You relax. Then if what Hawkins said is true, the CALIBURN's made it out. If the Imperial ace catches any sign of your relief, he doesn't show it.

"Anyway, was there anything else?"


I don't believe it. The remnant of the fleet survived. Hawkins seems to think we negotiated safe passage for the fleet, but that obviously didn't happen. Perhaps the confusion of shooting Steele so disrupted the fleet they allowed our team to escape?

"What happened to Crown Station?"



"Crown Station was destroyed by the weapon near the end of the battle. We found no survivors."

Hawkins doesn't seem particularly pleased about that. In fact, he seems absolutely furious. The Imperial officer has made it clear that he doesn't much like the Empire's new superweapon. You tell him as much, and he nods in agreement.

"There is no risk in destroying an enemy with impunity, no effort involved," Hawkins declares testily. "Humanity will not fulfill its potential by shooting at enemies who cannot shoot back."

Hawkins takes one deep breath after another, until he has regained his normal composure. "Excuse my sharpness, Commander, I carry strong opinions regarding this particular subject. Was there anything else you wished to ask?"


So... we saved what we could of the fleet, but lost ten million civilian lives. At least it's a partial victory -- and , from a pragmatic military perspective, we saved what was important. From a humanitarian one...


Final question: "Why are you here?"




Hawkins blinks in surprise. "I'm not sure I understand the question."

"Why are you standing next to me?" you elaborate. "Why are you answering my questions? Don't you have anything better to do?"

The Imperial officer meets your gaze intently.

"I suppose you can very easily tell that I do not like you very much. In our previous encounters, you have shown no lack of faults. However, despite your shortcomings, you still hold some claim to being a fellow warrior. Perhaps in the coming days, you may prove that you are one."

The Imperial pilot shakes his head.

"This is a duty owed from one warrior to another, nothing more."

Hawkins leans back, hands on his hips.



Looks like he's a little grumpy about the fact we called in help. At least he's being decent to us -- more than is owed, really.



Hawkins nods and sighs.

"Very well then. Before I go, a warning: the next person who is going to come through that door is going to be an interrogation specialist from Military Intelligence.

"This man will ask you questions, questions that your loyalty will probably compel you not to answer. He will then threaten indignities upon your body and mind. The Star Marshal had a habit of treating surrendered prisoners of war with honor. Unfortunately, you appear to have vaporised him. That act of defiance is likely to cost you dearly."



Always nice to know that our actions have consequences , I ... guess?




Hawkins turns to leave.

"I shall return when I can, Commander. Do your best to last until then."

Hawkins's final warning puzzles you. Why would the Imperial pilot tell you of an upcoming interrogation? After all, as an enemy, he had no obligation to warn you.

For a moment, you consider asking him, but it is too late, he is already gone.


For someone who doesn't like us he's being surprisingly helpful. Goodbye, Mr. Exposition. On with the tortu- excuse me, "enhanced interrogation".



True to Hawkins's word, the next person to come through the doors into your room is a tall, skeletally thin man wearing the black tunic and blood-red uniform of the Imperial Fleet's intelligence service.

For a moment, you wonder if Imperial military intelligence designed its uniforms to be so obviously sinister on purpose. In your mind, there seems no possible way which such a uniform could have been worn by someone with benign intentions.

Actually, that makes a lot of sense.

Slowly, deliberately, the interrogator pulls up a chair and sits down next to your bed. Every move he makes seems carefully, gracefully choreographed, like a spider moving around its prey.

That was probably done on purpose, too.

"Good morning, Commander," the man says, his face all but expressionless. "I am sure you must still be in a bit of shock after seeing our new Lightbearer Cannon in action, after seeing your fleet and all those lives wiped out in an instant."

The interrogator leans forward, his cold eyes unblinking.

"Lightbearer will be fired again, you know. It will continue to be fired, again and again, until this rebellion ends. Millions of lives will be lost…unless you help us bring this war to a quick end. You have military secrets that could help save countless lives on both sides. Will you tell us?"



Vote 81:
Do you have a response to that?

* I declare my name, rank, and serial number, just like I'm supposed to.
* "I'm not telling you anything."
* "What do you want to know?"


Obviously, the choices we make here impact the future conversation branches. So we'll stop here for now. Happily, they don't seem to have heard of our butchering the escape pods. Less happily, it seems likely they'll take us into little pieces to find out everything we know.

Stout hearts, lads and lasses. This is programmed to happen. We aren't on the losing path ... yet, at any rate.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

norman250
2015-09-17, 05:23 PM
Declare rank, name, and number

pendell
2015-09-18, 06:27 PM
Very well, name, rank , and serial number.



"Kallen Sowano," you declare defiantly. "Commander, CoDEC Armed Forces. Service number RX-7821979."

The interrogator shakes his head, his thin, skull-like face taking on a pitying expression.

"It's always so sad when they resist," he says, to nobody in particular, but definitely meant for your ears. "I want you to tell me everything you know about your combat armature, the one in white armor."

It takes all the willpower you have not to spit in the smug bastard's face.

"Kallen Sowano, Commander, CoDEC Armed Forces. Service number RX-7821979."

The Imperial intelligence man's brow furrows at your continued resistance.

"I shall give you one last chance to tell me what I need to know. Do so and you will be treated with civility. Refuse, and things will go very badly for you.

"Kallen Sowano, Commander, CoDEC Armed Forces. Service number RX-7821979."

The interrogator shakes his head sadly. "Very well, then. I hope you shall remember that you could have avoided all of this."



What next ...?



Carefully, slowly, your interrogator pulls out a small device from his pocket—a cube of glossy black, no bigger than a bottlecap. He grasps it between his thumb and forefinger, holding it in front of you so you can get a good look.

"Do you know what this is, pilot?"

You recognize it immediately. "That's a neural shock induction device. It's a common torture tool."

The interrogator shakes his head. "Please, I prefer to call it an 'intelligence-gathering aid'. If you know what it is then you know what it does, do you not?"

You nod, trying not to show any of the unease you are feeling. "It overloads the nervous system on a given part of the body, burning it out nerve by nerve, and eventually rendering that body part paralyzed, after hours of excruciating pain."

The intelligence man nods, his eyes malevolent.

"Very good, pilot, so you do know what it does. I suppose you would also want, very much, that it not be used on you. Believe me, I don't want to use it on you either, but if you do not tell me what I need to know, I shall have no choice."

The interrogator stands up, carefully, without a hint of self-consciousness.

"Now, I shall give you a day to rethink your position. After that, I shall return. Hopefully, you will have reconsidered by then."

Then, without a word, the interrogator turns on his heel and walks away, leaving you alone once more.



A day before bad things happen, eh?

How can we use that day?



You spend the next few hours simply lying in bed, waiting for something to happen.

As time passes, you realize just how hungry and thirsty you are. You feel a pain in your stomach, slowly building into a grinding, all-encompassing throb as your body begins turning on itself for sustenance. Your throat, too, grows drier. Your tongue feels like sand and your head begins to pound from the dehydration.

However, your mind is distracted by more dire thoughts than mere hunger or thirst. You find your attention drawn to that tiny black object in the Imperial interrogator's hands—the neural shock induction device.

Would the enemy really risk using it to wring the information they want out of you? More importantly, could you resist if they did use it on you, enduring intense pain, or even the permanent loss of a hand or foot or eye to keep vital secrets from the hands of the enemy?


It IS a problem. Given our low fortitude, we've got to find some way to get away because we're almost certain to blow any skill test.



Somehow, you manage a few hours of sleep. When you wake, Hawkins is standing over you once again.

"Good morning, Commander, I see you have managed some rest."

You nod. "Yeah, I guess I did." There is an awkward pause for a moment as the Imperial waits for you to continue, but you don't really have anything to say to the enemy ace. The silence lingers. Finally, Hawkins speaks.

"I'm glad to see you're coping with this whole ordeal well," he says, more out of politeness than honesty.

Before you can respond, the enemy pilot reaches into his pockets, pulling out a hip flask and some sort of bar wrapped in a foil.

"You must be hungry and thirsty. Eat," he says, with all the force of a command. "Drink, too. Quickly, before the guards at the door notice," he whispers.

You eye the foil-wrapped bar: "Emergency Ration, High Calorie" says the text printed on the foil in big block letters. Your stomach suddenly clenches without prompting. You are hungry, and thirsty as well, to the point where you can barely think straight. You need food. You look at the silver flask in the enemy pilot's hand. Your throat, too, begins to sting. You need to drink as well.


There's a dialog here, but I'm just going to go ahead and ask why he's doing this.




You eye the offered food suspiciously. What motive would the enemy pilot have for sneaking you food and water? Hawkins almost seems insulted when you ask.

"Because—" The other pilot stops himself, as if thinking better of his original reply. He takes a breath and starts again.

"Because although you may not think it, you are still in battle, only now, your struggle is one of wills. Like a battle of combat armatures, this too can temper a person's true nature and unlock their deepest reserves of strength. However," Hawkins leans in, "you cannot fight without sustenance, and I would not more have you face the interrogator with a mind addled by hunger than I would have you face me in a combat armature without weapons."

Hawkins meets you eye to eye, pressing in almost to the edge of the bed. "We've met in battle twice now and you've bested me both times. You are a warrior of unrivalled skill and courage, and I would see you prove that you've the mental fortitude to match. You are a warrior who deserves to meet the enemy armed for battle, be it mentally or physically, not weakened by the frailty of the human body."

You feel the need to point out the obvious.

"If you're sneaking me food and water, you're still undermining your own side."

The Imperial ace shakes his head.

"Side? Factions don't concern me. Factions have never concerned me. What matters is that factions exist, and that they fight on. Ally and enemy, Empire and Colonies, what does it matter? The ideals that feed this war are nothing more than fictions without worth. Their substance matters not, so long as they both feed the crucible of war that heroes and paragons may be forged."

Hawkins looks at you, eyes searching for a reply in your expression.






Vote 82:

"Do you understand?"
#"I understand completely, and I agree."
#"I don't agree, but I understand."
#"That's complete [excrement]!"


After you react, the story continues.




The Imperial leans forward and rests a hand on your shoulder and grips tightly, making sure that he has your attention.

"Things higher up are a bit chaotic right now, so I shan't be able to return
any time soon." From the corner of your eye, you see Hawkins's other hand fiddle with your bedframe. Before you can ask the Imperial pilot about it, he stands up. "Good luck, Commander," he says, and walks out before you can say a word.


Fiddling with our bedstand? What's that bout? A hidden agenda? That would explain why he's feeding someone he doesn't like at all.



More hours pass. Strapped to the hospital bed, you can do little more than look around and wait for your next visitor. While hunger and thirst are no longer immediate concerns, you are still trapped within a box of metallic panels, bare decorations, and glaring, colorless lights. Despite your best efforts to occupy your mind, the boredom is starting to get to you, and more than once, you wonder if this interminable waiting is part of the interrogation process too.

A sound at the exit pulls your eyes towards the darkened doorway, unnervingly eager to greet anything that might dispel the monotony of your trapped existence, if only for a moment.

The shadows at the door change and recede, and two new ones take their place. You exhale a moment later, barely even realizing that your breath had been held in the first place.

You cling to the distressingly mundane sight of the changing of your guards, knowing that any new thought could keep you from growing mad from sheer monotony.

After another hour of aimless thought strapped into your prison bed, there is more movement at the door. The guards step aside and a thin figure clad in black and red steps through.

Your interrogator.

"Good morning, pilot," the interrogator says pleasantly as he once again sits down next to your bed with malicious grace.

Carefully, he pulls out the black shape of the neural shock induction device and holds it up where you can see it.

"I am sorry I have to resort to such barbaric methods," he says, with a complete lack of sincerity, "but we must learn what you know, and sometimes that can mean extreme measures. I hope you understand."

He presses the device into the back of your right hand. There is an instant of stinging pain as you feel metal teeth dig into your flesh. He leans in closer, pulling out a data tablet from his other pocket, no doubt the controls for the device that is now biting into your hand.

"It would be a shame if you were to lose the use of your hand permanently. I am told that combat armature pilots must rely on the dexterity of their hands a great deal." The Imperial officer's finger hovers over the screen of his data tablet. "Let us hope that you see reason before it comes to that, shall we?"

With that, the interrogator's finger taps the control tablet.




Here it comes... (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDOh3ACX-5g
)



At first, the pain is almost bearable, more like a bad rash really.

Then, the interrogator taps his screen again. A dull, crushing pain presses on your fingers, as if they were being stepped on by a hard-soled boot. You can feel your bones straining and aching. You can feel your skin tearing, breaking, and shredding apart.

"Give me
the specifications of your combat armature and
your command codes," your interrogator whispers in your ear. "Give me
those two things, and the pain stops."



Vote 83:
#"I'll tell you!"
#"Go to hell!"



How about it, guys? Bear in mind that prolonged torture will cripple our hand, resulting in skill penalties, and there are no clerics in this world to cast Restoration and make it all better.

Votes in by Monday, 5:30 PM! It's always darkest before the dawn...

Respectfully,

Brian P.

CoreBrute23
2015-09-19, 04:47 AM
#"I don't agree, but I understand."
#"Go to hell!" [Could we say instead "Kallen Sowano, Commander, CoDEC Armed Forces. Service number RX-7821979!" as an act of defiance?]

pendell
2015-09-21, 06:04 PM
Okay, we'll tell the blue masque we understand but do not agree, and we'll tell the interrogator

"Kallen Sowano, Commander, CoDEC Armed Forces. Service number RX-7821979!"

Mechanically, of course, it's the same as mild obscenity , so we'll just rewrite the flavor in our story.




Hawkins nods. "I am glad you understand, at least. Perhaps the days to come will change your opinion. In the meantime, you must eat and drink. You must regain your strength for the battles ahead."



And we give the interrogator our name, rank, and serial number.



he interrogator shakes his head, an actor playing the part of a disappointed parent.

"A pity. I expected you to behave more rationally than this, pilot."

The interrogator taps his data tablet again. A jolt of searing pain lances through your hand, as if your blood was boiling, as if every scrap of skin, every tendon, and every last bit of flesh on your palm were being cooked from the inside.

Your teeth clench and grind from the pain. Unwanted tears come to your eyes as you struggle to keep yourself from screaming out. The interrogator leans in.

"I have increased the setting. If I am forced to increase the setting again, your hand will be permanently damaged. Surely, you wouldn't want that to happen."



We have another vote here, but it mechanically makes no difference because resisting at this point results in a skill check, and with a fortitude of 1 there is no chance of succeeding. I'll put us down for "continue to resist" anyway.



You try to will yourself to say nothing, to keep fighting as the interrogator's hand reaches for his data tablet again.

The interrogator's finger looms closer. The pain coursing through your hand is suddenly impossible to bear when coupled with a new, terrible fear. If your inquisitor increases power to the device one more time, you may lose the use of your hand completely.

Something inside you snaps, you want no more of this. A voice in your head tells you to stop fighting. It grows louder as the other voice, the voice of defiance, fades away. Your interrogator meets your gaze and taps his data tablet. The pain goes away. He smiles as he pulls the device from your hand. You will talk; he has won.



This is actually a fortunate fumble, because if we had passed the check we really would have permanently lost the use of our hand, and we really would have had our piloting stat reduced permanently to 1. As it is ... we've given up vital military information -- but that's less important than it might be, given that the LIONHEART is not, by itself, going to win this war. Not with Lightbringer in the picture.




Very good, pilot," your interrogator says as he pulls free the black object from your hand. "I'm very glad we could come to an agreement. First, tell me what you know of your combat armature."

You answer as truthfully as you can. You describe the Lionheart's abilities, the strengths and weaknesses of its frame, the capabilities of its weapons, the resilience of its armor, and the limits of its thrusters. Even so, the Imperial interrogator does not seem satisfied by your answers. He keeps pressing for more information, asking for details and elaborations.

Throughout all of this, the thin man in black and red does not break eye contact. He takes no notes, nor does he ask anyone to take them for him. He merely meets your eyes with a hard, pitiless stare as he presses you for yet more of the military secrets entrusted to you.

The Imperial intelligence officer nods, his expression still ice-cold.

"Very good, pilot, I shall only need one thing more—your command codes."

You swallow involuntarily, a painful thing to do with your throat as dry as it is. The information you have given the enemy on the Lionheart would be enough for them to reverse-engineer a copy or devise a way to counter your machine's advantages, but with your command codes, they could simply activate your machine's systems and fly it themselves. Even worse, the Imperials could use your codes to impersonate you, infiltrating secure CoDEC military systems. However, with memories of your torture still fresh in your memory, you have no will to protest. You tell your torturer your codes without a fight.



We are thoroughly and complete broken, alas. And now they have something that might be important for the future -- the command codes that will enable them to access our machine while it is in flight. Not that this seems very important, given it is scrap in the hangar of this ship.



our interrogator has no more questions after that. He simply leans back and stands up, a satisfied look on his skull-like face.

"I will return tomorrow with more requests for information. Now that we have established the consequences for resistance, I shall expect you to be more forthcoming in future. Good day, pilot."

Then he turns and walks out, leaving you alone again. More time passes, some in sleep, some in monotonous, unending wakefulness.

Ultimately, your thoughts wander to the continuing efforts of your interrogator. Despite what you have already given him, the sinister man in black and red shows no sign of continuing to extract information.

When he comes again, will you be able to finally stand up to him or will you simply submit meekly once again?

The sound of armored bodies snapping to attention pulls you out of your thoughts. Commandant Hawkins strides through the door with an expression that dares anyone to even try to get in his way.

Within seconds, the Imperial pilot is kneeling at your bedside.

"Pilot, can you walk?" he asks, tone urgent, but distinctly cold.

You stare back blankly as you try to get your confusion under control. What exactly does Hawkins want with your ability to walk?

"Can you walk pilot," Hawkins snaps sharply. "Yes or no?"

The Imperial pilot's words snaps you out of your momentary paralysis. You move your legs experimentally, feeling them strain against the thick, black straps. You nod.

Hawkins smiles grimly. "Good," he says, as he stands.

Before you can even ask what is going on, the Imperial ace twirls around with lightning quickness, sidearm in hand. Hawkins's pistol fires once, twice, the sound of each shot muffled by the featureless, dark cylinder of a silencer.

Beyond the door, the figures of your two marine guards crumple limply to the floor, blood leaking from the entry wounds placed dead center at the back of their heads.

You keep your eye on the Imperial, watching as he replaces his sidearm and turns back to you, knife in hand.

"Hold still, I'm getting you out of here."


Well, that was a twist. We're escaping? And if Hawkins has killed his own people, that makes him a traitor, so there's no way back for him.



"We've very little time before somebody notices that your guards aren't checking in, so we shall have to move swiftly," Hawkins says, as he rips through your bonds with the saw-bladed edge of his combat knife.

The skin under your wrists and ankles are chafed and raw after who knows how many hours of confinement, but the fresh air feels good on them as the restraints fall away.

Hawkins leans down to your bedframe, reaching under your mattress and pulling out a small, matte-gray stick the size of your thumb. He turns to you and gently lifts you onto your feet, as if he were afraid you were fragile enough to shatter if jostled.

"This is an isolated hull block used for interrogations, so there shouldn't be any more guards around. Once we get of this area, it's only fifty meters to the hangar bay where your machine is being kept. If we're lucky, we'll not run into any trouble."

Your head spins and the cold floor feels unsteady under your feet. Experimentally, you stumble forward a few steps, regaining your bearings with every second. It doesn't take long for your head to clear and your balance to restore itself.

Hawkins looks you up and down quickly. "All sorted? Good." He walks over to one of the fallen guards and grabs a pistol, handing the sidearm to you grip-first.

"I'll assume you know how to use one of these? Take it and follow me. I'll get you back to your own side."


So now we have a gun and and ally. We get the opportunity to ask him questions.


Vote 84: [vote for more than one]
* "Why are you doing this?"
* "What is that thing you just pulled out of my bed?"
* "What if I don't want to go back to my side?"
* There's no time for questions. I take the gun and do as Hawkins says.


Ask as many questions as you like. Once you're done, it's time to escape!



You move silently through the gunmetal-gray corridors of the Imperial flagship, following Hawkins's lead as the two of you creep through the blocky square passages, your eyes peeled for any guard or passerby that might spot you and sound the alarm.

After a minute or two, you follow the Imperial pilot to the threshold of a wider, more brightly lit hallway. Hawkins sticks his head out into the larger corridor, looking to the left, and then to the right.

"The blast doors to the hangar bay are right down the hall and to the left. We shall have to sprint forward and kill the guards swiftly. Ready?"

You nod. You've gone too far to back out now.

"Go!"

Hawkins springs forward, pistol in hand, the jackboots of his dress uniform drumming a rapid beat on the metal deck. You follow close behind, pistol at the ready.

The two of you turn the corner to see a pair of guards, already bringing their rifles to bear. With lightning speed, Hawkins brings his pistol up and drills one of the marines neatly between the eyes, the sharp crack of the pistol muffled by his silencer.

At the same time, you bring your own gun to bear on the second guard.



Vote 85:
#I shoot to kill. I want that impie [deleted] dead.
#I shoot to disable. The guy's just doing his job; I don't want to kill him.
#I make sure the shot grants my enemy a long, painful death.



Get your votes in , and we'll see if we can't make our getaway on Wednesday, 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Fri
2015-09-22, 02:57 AM
I shoot to kill.

Not because of grudge or anything. We're in a war, trying to escape from enemy base. Do we even have time to think whether to kill or not?

pendell
2015-09-22, 10:38 AM
I shoot to kill.

Not because of grudge or anything. We're in a war, trying to escape from enemy base. Do we even have time to think whether to kill or not?

Fri, you put in a vote for 85 but not for 84 above it. Was that intentional?

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Fri
2015-09-22, 10:50 AM
Oh whoops.

Basically I thought, if the number of questions we ask don't ahve any bearing for the gameplay (like by asking too many questions we got less time to escape), I don't see the reason why we shouldn't ask all of them.

so.. Ask all the questions I guess.

pendell
2015-09-23, 05:28 PM
Very well, we'll ask what we can and we'll shoot to kill.

"What is that thing you pulled from my bed?"


"What? This?" Hawkins shows you the gray thumb-sized object in his other hand. "That would be a data drive."

"What's on it?"

"The plans to the Lightbearer. Your side will need them if you want to stand any chance of surviving this war, and I need you to vouch for me and make sure your superiors don't think this is some kind of Imperial plot."

You put two and two together quickly enough.

"You're defecting with this info?"

Hawkins nods impatiently. "Is that not what I just said?"

The Imperial offers you the pistol again.

"Now, we really should get moving. We haven't got time for this."

You don't really have much of a choice but to do as the Imperial pilot says. You take the gun and follow the other pilot as he begins to move.


Looks like we only get one question .Sorry :(.

Still, that seems to answer two: Hawkins doesn't seem to care for the LIGHTBEARER or the kind of warfare it represents. I guess he'd rather it be human against human in personal combat.



You move silently through the gunmetal-gray corridors of the Imperial flagship, following Hawkins's lead as the two of you creep through the blocky square passages, your eyes peeled for any guard or passerby that might spot you and sound the alarm.

After a minute or two, you follow the Imperial pilot to the threshold of a wider, more brightly lit hallway. Hawkins sticks his head out into the larger corridor, looking to the left, and then to the right.

"The blast doors to the hangar bay are right down the hall and to the left. We shall have to sprint forward and kill the guards swiftly. Ready?"

You nod. You've gone too far to back out now.

"Go!"


Charge!



Hawkins springs forward, pistol in hand, the jackboots of his dress uniform drumming a rapid beat on the metal deck. You follow close behind, pistol at the ready.

The two of you turn the corner to see a pair of guards, already bringing their rifles to bear. With lightning speed, Hawkins brings his pistol up and drills one of the marines neatly between the eyes, the sharp crack of the pistol muffled by his silencer.

At the same time, you bring your own gun to bear on the second guard.


We shoot to kill. A good choice, I think. It's actually quite hard to disable someone without also killing them, especially if they have the ability to set off an alarm. Same with a slow death -- a slow death may still give him a chance to either broadcast an alarm or kill us.




Your aim has always been something to be proud of and it doesn't fail you now. You squeeze the trigger and the hallway is filled with the deafening reports of an unsilenced gun. Your target slumps to the ground, a neat hole through his forehead.

Hawkins wastes no time in rushing forward again.

"Through the doors! Quickly! Somebody is bound to have heard that."



SLOPPY. Double-tap always. Still, it seems to have worked.



Two combat armatures greet you in the hangar bay.

One is the now-familiar white-armored shape of your Lionheart, still in near-pristine condition despite all that it has been though.

The other mecha next to it however, is unlike anything you have ever seen.

The basic structure is very much like that of the sleek, streamlined form of the Valliers which you have faced often throughout the war. However, its limbs have a certain knife-edged bulk which gives a sense of weight but not gracelessness. Its reactor module and verniers seem distinctly oversized to you. Most strikingly, a pair of slender, blade-like fins, almost as tall as the entire machine, extend from the combat armature's back.

It is painted in silver and blue, and upon the glacis plate of the frontal armor, you can just make out something printed next to the cockpit hatch:

"XM-419 ROLAND: Commandant Camille Hawkins"



Oh-hoh! So the Empire hasn't been resting on it's laurels; they've been developing a next generation fighter as well!



pparently, your interest has not gone unnoticed.

"Beautiful isn't it?" Hawkins beams.

"What is it?" you ask.

The Imperial ace hesitates for a moment, as if trying to decide what to reveal and what to hide.

"About two years ago, Military Intelligence got wind of rumors that CoDEC was developing a next-generation combat armature. As a result, the Imperial military began work on its own high-performance prototype. This is the result, the XM-419 Roland. It's first test flight was to be tomorrow. I'll be taking it with us."

You eye the Imperial pilot warily. If Hawkins truly is willing to defect to CoDEC, then having him take the Roland along would mean that your side would gain a great advantage, especially if it is as powerful as Hawkins says.

On the other hand, how far can you really trust the other pilot? Sure, he's helped you escape so far but is it really wise to assume Hawkins's own plans won't involve turning the Roland's weapons on you and your allies at some point?

So, do you trust him?



Vote 86:
* I trust Hawkins and let him hijack the Roland.
* I don't trust Hawkins. He'll have to leave the Roland behind.


Since this decision may impact your escape and subsequent game , I'll need to stop here for now. Obviously, stealing the ROLAND will make your escape easier but if you have to shoot Hawkins down later, it'll be harder to do.

... Assuming your side lets him fly it again as opposed to doing the INTELLIGENT thing and simply taking it apart for study. What madman would put a defecting pilot in the cockpit of an armature on the front lines so quickly, anyway?

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alent
2015-09-24, 01:59 AM
I've been silent as I follow the thread because I've been enjoying it and pretty much agree with all the dialog choices so far, but figured I'd say something just so there's a green checkmark on the thread:

I'll bet on a Broken Durendal over King Richard the Lionheart any day. He rides in the Roland.

Fri
2015-09-24, 04:28 PM
Agree with above me. Take Roland. It just won't be fun if we have a super robot and Hawkins doesn't :smalltongue:

pendell
2015-09-25, 10:40 PM
Thanks for participating , Norren! :) It's nice when observers step in to become full players.

So, we're going to steal the Roland, and I guess that means it's time for a

TECH UPDATE: XM419 ROLAND: Imperial Advanced Combat Prototype



Manufacturer: [REDACTED]
Armament: Monosabre, Particle Beam Rifle

For decades, the Imperial Armed Forces have maintained a “black budget” for the development of secret weapons. The latest product of this constant and massive expenditure of resources is the XM419 Roland, a prototype combat armature using an experimental matter/antimatter reactor much like the one which powers the XCA-118 Lionheart. Armed with the very latest in monomolecular weapon technology and the Imperial answer to CoDEC's particle rifle, the Roland is a strong contender for the most powerful combat armature ever built.



So this ship has a ranged particle beam weapon as well as a monosabre -- will Hawkins even use it?

At any rate , it has an advantage in the melee department (monosaber versus our power-draining plasma cutter) while we retain the advantage in ranged combat ( our fully automatic particle storm rifle versus a bolt-action or semiautomatic particle beam rifle) but in either case, the advantage is not so marked as to confer an instant victory. Pilot skill will matter for much.

Assuming, of course, that we fight each other as opposed to fighting together against the Empire. But surely Hawkins isn't going to spend the rest of the war being debriefed by intelligence specialists?




You nod in agreement. The Imperial's gotten you this far, it'd be stupid to stop trusting him now.

"Alright, can that thing fly?" you ask.

Hawkins glances at the Imperial machine. "I damn well hope so."

The thump of heavy boots and the clatter of armored men and women moving with great haste echoes from beyond the still-open hangar doors.

"There they are!" shouts an authoritative alto behind you. "Shoot to kill!"

You shrug. "Time to find out then."

The Imperial ace flashes you an uncharacteristically enthusiastic grin as he dashes for the Roland. As the first bullets begin flying in your direction, you run for the Lionheart with similar haste.



Wait ... they've repaired the LIONHEART to flyable condition after it was hit by an anti-capital ship missile with an antimatter warhead? I don't know which is more amazing -- their crew chiefs or our workmanship in the first place.



You scramble up the maintenance ladder to your machine, bullets parking against the frame of the metal catwalks around you. Adrenaline lends you strength as you swing your body into the open cockpit. You crouch in your seat, making as small a target as possible as the armored shell of the Lionheart's cockpit module closes around you. Frantically, you enter your command codes and begin the boot up sequence, tapping your fingers anxiously against the armrests of your chair as the machine's flight systems boot up.

One by one, your cockpit displays light up, and the darkness of your cockpit is banished by the crystal-clear views of your hull cameras.

More and more Imperial marines are flooding into the hangar bay. Some are opening fire with their rifles, their rounds ineffectually pinging off your machine's armor. Others are setting up heavier weapons—shoulder-launched hyper-velocity missiles. A lucky hit from one of them might be enough to do some damage.

Beside you, the Roland stirs to life, sections of its metal and ceramic body lighting up as Hawkins's machine steps out of its maintenance berth.

Suddenly, it occurs to you that you have no way out. The hangar doors are opened from a control booth on the other end of the bay. As you push the Lionheart forward onto the hangar deck, you see no other way of getting out.

From the corner of your eye, you see the other combat armature pull a long, slim shape from its back. The way the Roland holds it makes it clear that the object is some kind of weapon.

The masked pilot opens a comm channel to your machine. "Wait a moment," he says.

"What are you doing?" you reply.

"Making an exit."

Suddenly, the blades on the Roland's back flare out like a pair of silver wings as Hawkins brings the Imperial prototype's weapon to bear on the side wall of the hangar bay.

The massive chamber fills with a bright, burning brilliance. An intense beam of white-hot light shoots out from the muzzle of the Roland's weapon like the all-consuming flame from God's own blowtorch.

The metal fans of the Roland's wings are engulfed in a bright-blue flame as jets of hot gasses spray out along the long, silvery "feathers" in great blazing torrents. The sound is deafening, a waterfall of banshee wails, drowning out the screams of the marines outside as their flesh and clothing ignite from the heat of the Roland's weapon exhaust.

Then, the sound begins to fade, the light subsides, the beam withers away, leaving you an unobstructed view of Hawkins's handiwork—a gaping hole large enough for three combat armatures to fly through side by side, punched through the side of the Oriflamme's meter-thick armor.

Beyond, you can see the expanse of open space, and with it, freedom.


Time to make our exit, I think. Nice gun he's got.



Thankfully, the Imperial fleet is slow to respond to your escape. By the time your enemy finally gives chase, you have already long-since escaped the range of their weapons.

You can't help but be on your toes as you and Hawkins speed towards the aperture of the wormhole as fast as your respective machines can carry you. Every so often, you glance at the tactical display, hoping that the Imperials have not sent machines in pursuit. You have no doubt Hawkins is doing the same thing.

Thankfully, they never do.

The wormhole linking the Vedria system with the core CoDEC system of New Lisbon is as you remember it from the last time you passed through on your way to meet up with the Caliburn, just a few months ago. The wormhole itself is invisible to the naked eye but your instruments pick it up just fine, and the navigational beacons placed around its opening makes navigating to it easy.

Traversing the wormhole itself is an anti-climactic process. One moment, you are being drawn through the aperture by the anomaly's own gravitational pull. Your hull cameras, distorted by the wormhole's forces, blank out, as do your sensors. One instant, you are blind and deaf, approaching the wormhole's event horizon.

The next, you are elsewhere.


Seems strange that they let us go so easily -- but I don't think this is a clever plan. 1) Steele wasn't that clever ,and we don't have a new Admiral yet, I think. 2) It wouldn't be "honorable". 3) What do they need with subterfuge? Just bring in the Lightbearer and fire that big gun at any fleet concentrations and end the war. No subtlety required.




The first thing you see when your hull cameras come back online are the familiar shapes of the space stations guarding New Lisbon's end of the wormhole.

Around those stations, however, are dozens of metallic shapes—ships arranged by squadron into the wall of battle of a space fleet.

A fleet that shouldn't exist.

Before you can approach for a closer look, you see a pair of lights ahead, coalescing slowly into the image of two combat armatures, rushing towards you at full burn.

They are CoDEC machines, a Grenzer in the lead with a Reiter right behind. Your relief at the sight of friendly forces is only slightly dampened by the sight of the weapons they have pointed at your machine and the Roland.

The lead machine hails you. You open the comm channel to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice.

"This is Eternal Vigi--Lead. Identi—"

Asadi's eyes go wide with shock when he sees you.

"Kallen?"



It's Asadi! He's survived the battle! :)


INTERLUDE 3.




Vedrian Wormhole Aperture, New Lisbon System

Asadi sits stunned for a moment, staring at your face as if to make sure that it is really you. Then, finally, your former wingman works his thoughts into words.

"We thought you were dead!"

You shake your head. "I only got captured."

The other officer shakes his head in disbelief. "How the hell did you get out?"

"I believe your pilot has me to thank for that," interjects a new voice in your conversation, carefully modulated and refined, with the accent of an Imperial nobleman.

The other CoDEC officer's eyes widen once again as Hawkins's masked face appears on both your comms windows.

"You're—"

The Imperial nods. "I am Camille Hawkins, formerly a Commandant of the Imperial Fleet. I am expressing a desire to switch sides." An elegant smirk plays over the Blue Masque's lips.

"Take me to your leader."



Heh heh. Well, this should be interesting.




Your trip into the heart of the fleet proves to be a tense one. Your escort takes no chances with you and Hawkins as they lead you through the formations of CoDEC ships, their weapons still carefully trained on the Roland and your machine.

Moving as slowly as you are, you get a chance to take a good look at the ships assembled around you, certainly a close enough look to realize that, despite being arrayed as warships, the entire formation seems to be made up of the bulbous hulls of cargo haulers, passenger ships, and other civilian craft. You are even able to pick out a few of the ships which you had escorted to Crown Station not a week ago, now sitting quietly among the vast array.

It takes a few minutes to pass through the array of civilian vessels, long enough for you to wonder exactly what they might be used for. After all, the thin hulls of freighters and starliners certainly won't stand up to weapons fire, and none seem modified to carry weapons, combat armatures, or troops.

Beyond the civilian ships lie the remnants of the CoDEC fleet. Of the dozens of warships and converted merchant vessels that had been assembled to defend Crown Station, less than ten remain. However, the ships that remain stand ready in orderly ranks, arranged by newly organized squadrons, seemingly prepared to take the fight back to the enemy at a moment's notice. Their undamaged hulls gleam in the light of New Lisbon's twin stars, no doubt thanks to your lance's skilled defense during their withdrawal. the successful negotiation of the fleet's withdrawal.

Around them, swarms of construction armatures and worker pods scurry from one ship to another, carrying supplies and ammunition, and performing the necessary maintenance that will truly make these vessels ready for battle once again.

In the center of that formation sits a gigantic construction, resembling nothing more than a giant, gray lizard, its immense legs closed in around itself, like a cage at least half a kilometer tall. You recognize it immediately—it is an armory ship, one of the vast, mobile shipyards captured by CoDEC during the first months of the civil war, capable of repairing, resupplying, and rearming an entire fleet.

You and Hawkins are escorted closer towards the bulk of the armory ship, until, through the thick, metallic legs of the colossal vessel, you spy the familiar shape of the Caliburn.



So there were ten surviving ships of the battle of Crown Station, and a new fleet has been assembled from hastily conscripted and converted merchant craft. Seems we haven't lost this war yet.



Despite all that the Caliburn has been through, your home carrier has managed to escape serious damage. A few minor scorch marks and scratches mar her armor but as far as you can see, nothing serious.

Instead of leading you towards the recovery deck of your home carrier, your escort instead takes you to the side, onto the massive landing area of the armory ship itself.

No matter how big the hangar bays of the Caliburn and the Oriflamme might have seemed to you, the armory vessel's combat armature bays are another thing altogether. The entire chamber must be a kilometer long, with space for two or three dozen combat armatures. You lower the Lionheart into one of the maintenance bays. One by one, you shut your systems down.


The CALIBURN has only minor damage. Excellent. I think we can thank Asadi for that, given our own failed negotiation with Steele.



A pair of marines are waiting for you as you exit your cockpit, their weapons at the ready. The sound of boots hammering on decking echo through the cavernous chamber, as another pair of armed guards moves into the next maintenance area, setting up a perimeter around the Roland's cockpit.

The marines step forward, quickly frisking you, taking the pistol which Hawkins had given you during your escape. You can see the other pair doing the same to Hawkins, albiet a bit more thoroughly. When they step back, they are joined by another figure, a short, stocky woman wearing the shoulder flashes of CoDEC military intelligence.

"If you'll come with me please, Commander? We'll need to debrief you—" She nods to the second pair of marines, who take Hawkins by the arms and begin frog-marching the defector away. "—and interrogate your friend."

You raise your eyebrows.

"What's the difference between a debriefing and an interrogation?"

The intelligence officer shrugs. "You're getting debriefed because we're assuming you're on our side. He's getting interrogated because we're not so sure."


How about it? How much do we trust Hawkins?


Vote 87:
* "Good, I'm not so sure, either."
* "I think he's probably trustworthy."
* "He's on our side! I owe him my life!"


After you've made your decision, let's resume the story. The next few questions shouldn't be impacted by your decision there.



The intelligence officer turns back to you.

"Now, if you'll follow me."

You are led down a series of long hallways into another small, guarded, and windowless room, where you are told to sit down.

Over the next half an hour, the intelligence officer has you recount the story of your capture, your interrogation at the hands of the Imperial Military's intelligence arm, and the circumstances of your contact with Commandant Hawkins. The intelligence officer is polite but firm, and although she extends you every courtesy she can, you still have the feeling that the woman sitting opposite you is scrutinizing your every word, looking for contradictions, discrepancies, and falsehoods.

Your questioner seems particularly interested in the Imperial defector who helped you escape.

"I am, of course, familiar with the Blue Masque's reputation. The one thing I don't really understand is why he'd want to defect. I mean, as far as we know, he's from a powerful and influential family, in good standing with his superiors, and certainly on the fast-track to further promotion."

The intelligence officer pauses, carefully watching you for any reaction.

"Needless to say, Commandant Hawkins is an unlikely traitor. You've had more contact with him than anyone else. Just between you, me, and the security analysts who're going to be looking over the recordings later,



Vote 88:

What do you make of him?"
#"I think Hawkins could be a valuable ally. We should trust him."
#"Hawkins is a powerful weapon to use against our enemies but I wouldn't trust him."
#"The Commandant has his own agenda but that doesn't mean he can't be useful."
#"Hawkins is dangerous and untrustworthy. We shouldn't have anything to do with him."




After you've made that decision and your debriefer responds, we continue the conversation when you mention Hawkins brought intel with him.



The other CoDEC officer's eyebrows shoot up.

"Intelligence? What intelligence?"

"Hawkins brought plans of the Imperial superweapon with him. Hesays they reveal a way to bring it down for good."

You wait for your counterpart to show some sign of surprise at your revelation. After all, such information could be vital, perhaps even key to the winning of the war itself. However, you are disappointed; the intelligence officer simply nods, as if making a silent, mental note, and moves on.

The questions continue. Your counterpart moves on to the circumstances of your captivity and the process of your escape. Since this had only happened to you a few hours ago, you find it easy enough to answer.

She also asks you about the damage which the Imperial interrogators had inflicted to your body.

Before you can respond, the intelligence officer moves on, asking you more questions about your escape.
After a few minutes of this, the intelligence officer sits back, apparently satisfied.

"Well, we're just about finished here. Just one more thing left to ask you."

You look up.

"What's that?"

"Regarding your interrogation by Imperial Military Intelligence. You mentioned that they were trying to get classified information out of you, about the XCA-118 and your command codes. What I need to know, and I expect you to be honest, is whether you gave any of this information up."


A chill runs down your spine. The previous questions you've answered honestly, your escape from Imperial captivity, the previous five years of your career, none of it matters in the light of this one question. If you answer truthfully and admit that you gave up information under interrogation, the consequences might be dire indeed—you might be stripped of your flight status, kicked out of the CoDEC military, maybe even jailed. After all, you'd be a security risk at best, and a traitor at worst.

If you lie, however, you could avoid all of that.

Your reputation alone would be enough to deflect further suspicion.


Of course, the OTHER side of the coin is you'll be going into battle with compromised command codes. There's also the possibility that you'll be caught lying.


Vote 89:

#I admit that I broke under Imperial interrogation.
#I lie and say that I didn't give up anything.




That's enough for now, I think. So go ahead and put in your responses. We'll start up again on Monday, 5:30 PM, as we prepare for what truly will be the last, climatic battle.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Legato Endless
2015-09-26, 10:44 AM
"I think he's probably trustworthy."
"The Commandant has his own agenda but that doesn't mean he can't be useful."
I admit that I broke under Imperial interrogation.

We're not going to risk the fleet for the sake of personal vanity, even if it junks our career.

Alent
2015-09-26, 04:40 PM
"Good, I'm not so sure, either."
"The Commandant has his own agenda but that doesn't mean he can't be useful."
I admit that I broke under Imperial interrogation.

This entire thing could be a clever time buying stunt to keep the CoDEC forces from realizing that the Lightbringer can't be fired or deployed again for some reason, so I say run full skeptic, but don't discount Hawkins out of hand. We've already seen as long as he can get in the mecha that the Roland can escape any ship. If the game let us, I'd reset the command codes and give it to Asadi.

Also, if we don't admit we broke under imperial interrogation, how will we get the command codes of our own Lionheart changed so we can't get remotehijacked? :smalleek:

Fri
2015-09-26, 05:37 PM
I... don't actually know. I've played this game a couple of time, and I realized I never actually broke under investigation. I'll respond later.

Fri
2015-09-28, 07:23 AM
"Good, I'm not so sure, either."
"The Commandant has his own agenda but that doesn't mean he can't be useful."
I admit that I broke under Imperial interrogation.

I guess I'll pick these choices.

I told you man. I told you we should raise our willpower.

...wait, did I ever actually said that?

pendell
2015-09-28, 08:44 PM
...wait, did I ever actually said that?

We had a choice of several other things as well -- piloting and perception always seemed to take priority.

So these are our choices:

* "Good, I'm not so sure, either."
* "The Commandant has his own agenda but that doesn't mean he can't be useful."
* I admit that I broke under Imperial interrogation.

THANK YOU, everyone, for admitting to the truth. Doing otherwise is an instadeath further on in the game.

First choice:

* "Good, I'm not so sure, either."



The intelligence officer nods in agreement. Hawkins, apparently, seems less thrilled at your appraisal, sparing you a look of disapproval as he is led away.

"We'll get some answers," the intelligence officer assures you. "From both of you. Now follow me."


The interrogation proceeds and we are asked, again, for our private evaluation.

"The Commandant has his own agenda but that doesn't mean he can't be useful."



The intelligence officer's eyebrows rise upwards. "If Hawkins has his own ulterior motives, can you be sure that he'll be useful?"

You meet the other CoDEC officer's eyes and nod. "Absolutely. Whatever Hawkins's personal objectives may be, they currently coincide with ours. We need all the skilled pilots we can get. We should keep a close eye on him, and I certainly don't trust him, but we can certainly make use of his skills in the cockpit."

Your counterpart leans back, a faint smile on her lips. "Ever consider transferring to intelligence, Commander? You're a natural. Still, I'm not sure the risk involved would be worth the services of a single pilot, no matter how talented."

You nod in agreement. "Normally, I'd think so too, but the intelligence he's brought along with him more than makes up for it."


And finally we admit that we broke under interrogation.



You nod.

"I told them. I told them everything they asked for."

Your counterpart is surprisingly sympathetic.

"From your account, the Imperials did some pretty nasty stuff to you: sensory deprivation, starvation, threat of physical torture. I don't blame you for wanting to make it stop."

The intelligence officer's expression softens.

"There will be a board of inquiry, of course, and we'll have to get your command codes locked out of the system and changed immediately, but any disciplinary action would be a long way off. We still need all the veteran pilots we can get, and you're still one of the best. Any investigation or disciplinary action would have to wait until the crisis is over, and for the sake of what you've been through, and for your honesty, I'd be willing to testify in your defense."

You nod, still a little shaken. Although there won't be any major consequences yet, the prospect of a board of inquiry looms over your future like a dark cloud. You'll have to find a way to tackle that when the time comes.


Of course; they're hardly going to court-martial their best pilot when there's still fighting to be done.

Besides which .. IIRC, POWs in Vietnam were not judged because they gave information or otherwise did things demanded of them by their enemy. The important thing was that they at least put in some effort at resistance, but most people understand that there's a limit to how far most people can endure torture. Well, superhuman heroes are held to different standards, obviously, but that's not the character we built.



Your counterpart asks you no more questions. Instead, she stands up and shows you to the door.

"Marines," she says to the guards outside. "Escort the Commander back to her quarters on the Caliburn."

The two armed guards give stiff nods. The intelligence officer waves goodbye in a remarkably friendly way.

"Take care of yourself, now. Goodbye."

Your escort leads you down another long set of corridors. You pass by other marines on patrol, and teams of engineers, technicians and general crew on their way to their own destinations.

Finally, you reach the heavily reinforced passageway of an inter-ship airlock. After a few seconds, the airtight, armored door opens, and you step through into the familiar sights of your home carrier.

The Caliburn seems to have weathered the battle in excellent shape.

There are, of course, a few blown-out panels, and minor burst conduits, but those were to be expected. There are none of the hallmarks of serious damage: no hull breaches, sections open to vacuum, no sections of the ship under the ominous, red glow of emergency power lights.

The ship's crew seem no worse for wear, either. Though you pass more than one damage control team, the rest of the ship's complement of crew seem to carry on as if it was business as usual, with the practiced nonchalance of veterans.

At last, the two marines deposit you in front of the door to your old quarters. You open the door to find, to your relief, that nobody has started to pack up your stuff after receiving the exaggerated reports of your death. Your desk, your chairs, and most importantly, your bed, are exactly as you had left them.

It is the last of these that you stagger towards, suddenly feeling the onset of an impossibly heavy tiredness. Without delay, you lift yourself into bed.

You are asleep seconds after your head hits the pillow.


That didn't end as badly as it might have.

By the way -- successfully lying to the officer would have required another willpower check, and you can guess how well that would have gone.

Also, it seems the CALIBURN is relatively undamaged, so maybe we can get some support from it if necessary.



You don't know how long you sleep for, only that when the beeping of your personal comm link wakes you, you are drenched in your own sweat, still covered in the clammy material of the pilot suit which you didn't have a chance to change out of before you fell into bed.

It takes you a moment to reclaim your bearings, to make out the familiar features of your room in the darkness of your unlit quarters, to confirm that you are in your quarters onboard the Caliburn.

Your comm link's beeping grows more insistent so you open the channel.

"Good evening, Commander," Captain Baelyn's voice pipes into your ear. "I trust you've slept well?"

You blink the last vestiges of drowsiness out of your eyes.

"I'm alright."

"Good. There is to be a briefing in an hour. All ship's officers and senior non-coms are to attend. That obviously includes you. Good evening."

With that, the channel closes, leaving you surrounded by silence once more.



To the briefing room , Robin!



The briefing room is packed to near capacity when you get there. A few heads turn as you step through, greeting you with wide-eyed looks of shock. Apparently, news of your return hadn't reached them yet.

Then, one of them starts clapping.

The rest of the room turns and sees you as well. The applause spreads.

Within seconds, the whole room is cheering your return.


.... What a team. Seriously, what an awesome team.



After all, you are one of the most-skilled and celebrated heroes of the rebellion. Your capture by the Imperials must have been an enormous blow to morale.

To see you back among them, free of the Empire's clutches would to some, seem nothing less than a miracle.

You begin looking for more familiar faces, if only so you can ask them about what has gone on in your absence. Almost immediately, you pick out Captain Baelyn, sitting in her customary place. After a few moments of searching, you find Asadi sitting in the corner of the room alone, surrounded by empty chairs where the other pilots of your lance would have sat. On the other side of the room, Watanabe stares at you, as if he had just seen someone come back from the dead, which, you suppose, in a way, you had. Chief Weaver is leaning on the opposite wall. When he sees you, he smiles and gives you a friendly, little wave.


Incredible. Asadi, Weaver, and Watanabe are all alive! Unfortunately, it appears Eternal-3 through -6 gave their lives in the retreat. Still ... I guess we should celebrate the fact that SOME of our friends have lived. While there's life there's hope.


Vote 90: Vote for ONE:
* Speak to Captain Baelyn.
* Speak to Asadi.
* Speak to Watanabe.
* Speak to Weaver.
* Quietly find a seat somewhere and wait for the briefing to start.


We'll have a chance to catch up with one, and only one, of our colleagues. Because this vote impacts the flow of the entire game, I have to stop here. Go ahead and get your votes in and we'll start up sometime on Wednesday, after 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Fri
2015-09-28, 10:50 PM
Huh, all named character are alive and caliburn's relatively undamaged? We might actually have a chance for happy ending after all. Well, eternal 3-6 died, and crown station got death-stared but it's not like we know any of their name :smallcool:.

What do you mean by catching up btw? Asking what happened while we're away from one character's POV?

pendell
2015-09-29, 10:42 AM
What do you mean by catching up btw? Asking what happened while we're away from one character's POV?


Exactly. I suspect this is exposition to catch up on the fates of the other named characters and, of course, a chance to build a relationship with the named characters.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alent
2015-09-30, 12:38 AM
In the past we seem to have gone for Weaver first, Asadi second, Watanabe third, Captain Last.

I say we keep up the tradition with this check and visit Weaver, (we did kind of get his new baby shot by an anti-capship warhead) but before I make that a vote, I want to hear what everyone else thinks about that?

Fri
2015-09-30, 11:01 AM
Eeh... I'd like to hear what happen to our lance while we're away actually so I'd ask for Asadi.

pendell
2015-09-30, 09:15 PM
No votes?

I'll extend till tomorrow. Be advised that I have to help Susan clean up a lot of stuff tomorrow, so I may not be free in the evening. If so, I'll try Friday night.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Fri
2015-10-01, 05:20 AM
Well, my vote is on Asadi

pendell
2015-10-01, 06:56 PM
Hrm. Given we're right up against Friday -- when we would normally update -- I'll just go ahead and update tomorrow, and the next update on Monday. At this point, we have one vote to talk to Asadi -- and maybe pursue the romantic option?

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alent
2015-10-01, 07:05 PM
I'll make it two for Asadi to help speed things along.

pendell
2015-10-02, 05:40 PM
Very well, let's walk over and talk to Asadi.



You walk over to Asadi and sit down next to him.

Feridoun's hand creeps over to yours and you feel the pressure of his fingers as they close around yours.

"I'm glad you're back."

You put your other hand over top and squeeze his hand in return.

"I'm glad I'm back, too."



Let's go down the list of questions.

"So, what happened after I was captured?"




Your former wingman looks away for a moment.

"After you got captured, we had to fight our way out. We managed to make it to the wormhole just as the Caliburn was transiting out. As for the rest of the fleet, well…."

Asadi shrugs.

"The fleet got nearly wiped out. The impies swarmed them as they were retreating, and we weren't there to defend them. Only the Caliburn and a few other ships made it back across the wormhole."

You nod. "What happened then?"

"When we got back to the other side, they told me you were dead and that I was taking your place as commander of Eternal Vigi- Lance. For the last few days, I've been trying to get used to being in charge. That brings us to now. Anything else?"




Okay, what's this briefing about?



Asadi shakes his head.

"I don't have a clue. The Captain just told me to report to the briefing room, and that attendance was mandatory. It's gotta be something big but I have no idea what. Do you?"

You shake your head. "No idea, I just got back. I thought you'd know better than me."

"Well, I don't, sorry."




Well, that was informative. On with the briefing!



Before you can respond, the room fills with the shuffling of movement, as all the heads around you turn towards the front of the room.

"Officers and NCOs to attention!"

Captain Baelyn's voice cuts through the air of the room like a cracking whip, drawing the eyes of everyone in the room. Immediately, automatically, you stand up straight, eyes front, your posture rigidly vertical. The rest of the room does the same.

For a moment, the Captain surveys the room, then, content, she speaks again, her voice softer. "Be seated."

It is an old tradition but a useful one. It has gotten your attention, and the attention of everyone else in the room. There is no further burble of conversation, only the soft sounds of human bodies adjusting themselves in their seats. All eyes are arrayed front and center, giving Captain Baelyn their undivided attention as she begins speaking in earnest.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, it has been a long war, and these last few weeks have been among the hardest. I see a few empty chairs in this room today, more than I would have wished for. We have all sacrificed far too much, and I am loathe to ask you all to sacrifice more."

The Captain takes a deep breath. Whatever she is about to say must weigh heavily on her soul indeed if it is capable of showing through her normally stoic exterior.

"However, that is what I must do. Our fleet, our rebellion, our very freedom are all teetering on the brink of a precipice. With much of the fleet destroyed, it will only be a matter of weeks before the enemy is able to make good the losses we have inflicted on it, rearm, and force its way through the wormhole and overwhelm our forces here in New Lisbon. Behind us, there are no further lines of defense. The enemy will be free to reduce our worlds to rubble, one by one."

The room is completely silent now. The asperity of your situation has never been hammered home in such straightforward terms. The Captain continues.

"As some of you may know, the Defense Committee has appointed me acting fleet commander in order face this situation. I have put together a plan which will stop the enemy, turn the tide of the war, and perhaps even end it. For it to succeed, I shall require your abilities, your loyalty, and your faith for one final reckoning on which the outcome of all we have fought and bled for these many years depends."

The Captain pauses. Nobody speaks, nobody objects, nobody even seems to breathe. Captain Baelyn presses a button on the podium, the lights darken, and the screen behind her comes to life.

"Now, without further rhetoric: the plan."




The plan. Let's have it!



All eyes are on the screen as it flashes to life, pure chaotic light coalescing into icons and trajectories. The screen splits in two, with one side showing the New Lisbon side of the wormhole, complete with the ships of the CoDEC fleet. On the other, the Vedria end, with the massive bulk of the projected shape of the Imperial formation, and an ominous, menacing shape placed behind it—Lightbearer.

Captain Baelyn's swagger stick is out, pointed not at the menacing red of the Imperial formation but at the massed ranks of vessels on the other side, each marked with the icon of a merchant vessel.

"As you may have noticed, we have been reinforced over the past few days. As the more observant of you may have noticed, these vessels are not warships, for we have none left to spare, but are instead merchant vessels, including the substantial number of evacuation transports we were able to escort out following the fall of Vedria Prime. This was not a mistake. I requested these vessels especially. We do not have enough warships left to face the Imperial fleet in open battle but we can even the odds."

Captain Baelyn presses a button on the podium. The icon of one of the merchant vessels expands into a detailed schematic.

"These vessels have been stripped of their non-essential systems. Their crew has been replaced by automatic piloting systems, which will suffice for the purposes of this operation. Most importantly, their normal cargo loadouts have also been replaced."

The Captain presses another button and vast sections of the hull glow bright-red. You feel your breath catch in your throat as you read the label:

"Antimatter (Military Containment) 50 000 metric tons."


Antimatter? They've been converted into kamikaze craft?




aptain Baelyn remains silent for a few moments to allow the notion sinks in. Dozens of ships will be sent on a suicide mission, not as missile platforms or even a diversion, but as flying bombs, each packed with enough antimatter to crack a small moon in two.

After what seems like half an eternity, Captain Baelyn resumes speaking, her tone grave.

"These ships are carrying three quarters of our entire strategic fuel and weapons reserves. It would take two years to make up for the amount of antimatter which we are to expend in the space of a few minutes."

The Caliburn's commanding officer holds up her hand to politely but firmly forestall any developing protest.

"However, assuming these ships will serve their purpose, the enemy fleet will be thrown into disarray attempting to either avoid, or shoot down these vessels, especially once one or two detonate in their midst."

The Captain presses another button and the display on the screen behind her shifts. The icons representing the merchant vessels disappear through the wormhole and appear out the other side. There is a miniature flare in the midst of the Imperial formation as one of the merchant ship's icons flies into it, a shallow representation of an immense antimatter detonation. The Imperial formation flies apart until the formerly orderly ranks of red icons become a confused jumble.

"With the enemy fleet thrown into chaos, we would be free to implement the second part of our plan. Originally, this was to involve a large-scale hit-and-run attack, to do as much damage as possible before the enemy were able to regroup. This was always reliant on the hope that we would damage the enemy enough to render them incapable of offensive operations for a few months or a year, enough time to partially rebuild our fleet. However, this has now changed."

Some of your fellow officers look to their neighbors nervously. The Captain's plan is desperate, risky, and unprecedented, and to you, it looks like



Ah, the Spanish Armada Fire ship (https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/Spanish-Armada-British-Fire-Ships) strategy.

So, what do we think of this plan?


Vote 91:

* a stroke of genius. This will hit the enemy where it hurts.
* suicide. This plan will get all of us killed, and it won't make CoDEC's position any better.
* a part of something bigger. There's more to the Captain's plan than just this.





Captain Baelyn's eyes sweep across the room, silencing any whispers of speculation before they even start with the glare of her cold, gray eyes.

"Due to recently obtained intelligence from a new source, we shall not be striking the enemy fleet directly. We shall instead be attacking a more valuable objective."

One of the Caliburn's officers can restrain himself no longer.

"With all due respect ma'am, you're being really cryptic. Who is this source, and how did they get this intelligence?"

Captain Baelyn smiles, not an expression of joy, but that of a wolf who has just cornered a hare.

"Why don't you ask him yourself?"

Another figure walks in from the side doors. The room is dark, and backlit by the screen, so you cannot see much of the newcomer, only the crisp folds of a new CoDEC officer's uniform, a few stray strands of blonde hair...

…and the angular outline of a pale-blue mask.




Ah, Commander Hawkins. What does he have for us?



The room's silence breaks into a renewed round of whispers and gasps. You clearly aren't the only one to have reconized the newcomer. This is obviously something that the darkened figure knows, as he calmly continues to the podium, allowing the Captain to step aside before taking position. For a moment, the two exchange tense whispered words, then the newcomer nods, looks out towards the room full of still shocked and not quite friendly CoDEC officers, and presses a button.

The display on the screen changes, the whispering begins to stop, slowly, as one by one, the officers in the room recognize the distinctive silhouette of the weapon which annihilated the majority of the CoDEC fleet just days ago. Within seconds, the room is quiet once more.

"This is Lightbearer," the newcomer says. "The Imperial Military's newest superweapon. It generates an immense matter/antimatter reaction within its core, and directs the resulting energy into a spray of charged particles concentrated into a wide beam by a containment field. This beam possesses enough destructive force to annihilate combat armatures, warships, even space stations."

With each sentence, the display on the screen shifts. The silhouette becomes a detailed, clearly labelled schematic. The room stares wide-eyed. Before them are the secrets of the enemy's trump card, laid bare before their eyes. The newcomer's expression is predatory as he leans forward over the podium, the face of a hunter explaining howhe} is to catch his next quarry.

"My name is Camille Hawkins. Up until sixteen hours ago, I was a combat armature pilot in the Imperial Grand Fleet. I was the source which brought you this information about the Lightbearer weapon, and now, I will tell you how we are to bring it down."



TECHNICAL UPDATE: Lightbearer : Imperial Unmanned Strategic Weapon

Dimensions: 12600 x 6200 x 6200 metres (transit mode), 12600 x 10800 x 10800 metres (firing mode)

Armament: 1x Niven Device

With no end in sight to the CoDEC rebellion, the Empress personally commissioned the Imperial military to develop a series of superweapons capable of winning the war. The largest and most physically imposing of these projects to reach completion has been the Lightbearer. This colossal superweapon consists of a massive remote-controlled cannon and its support mechanisms, all protected by a shell of heavy armour.

In essence, Lightbearer is a gigantic starship engine, re-purposed as a weapon. The core of the weapon consists of a massive matter-antimatter reactor, capable of short, high-intensity bursts of operation. When activated, the vast majority of the reactor's power is released as exhaust, shaped into a variable-width beam by a containment field.

This exhaust consists of charged particles moving at 99.5% the speed of light, capable of travelling up to 50 000 km before complete beam dissipation. When set to be fired in a wide beam, the Lightbearer is capable of destroying entire fleets in a single shot. Narrower, more intense containment results in more concentrated fire, theoretically capable of punching through large space stations, asteroids, even small planets.

With such destructive power at its fingertips, the Imperial Admiralty expects to be able to crush the rebellion by the beginning of 420 ISE. As a result, the weapon has been attached to the Imperial Grand Fleet in the Vedria System.




So, how are we going to destroy this thing?



Hawkins uses the continuing silence to his advantage, driving onwards.

"Lightbearer has three layers of defense. The first two are its escort of combat armatures and warships, namely the Imperial Grand Fleet. Captain Baelyn's plan should provide us with the means to dispose of them. The last defense, however, is somewhat problematic."

The display shifts again, this time to a close-up of the Lightbearer's armored shell.

"When not in firing mode, Lightbearer is protected by two thick, concentric layers of armor, spaced far enough apart from each other to prevent the strokes of a monosaber or plasma cutter, and thick enough to repel even the weapons of a dreadnought. This means the only way of damaging the Lightbearer through direct attack is by catching it in firing mode, with its armored 'petals' extended, when its containment generators are exposed to attack, However, the Imperial fleet command would be unlikely to present such a vulnerability unless it were absolutely necessary."

Hawkins leans back and pauses for a moment,
no doubt intentionally allowing the problems around a direct attack on the Lightbearer sink in. It seems to be working. Others beside you glare at the display as if their frustration were enough to defeat the problem.

The Imperial defector smiles.

"I see you have all grasped the difficulty of a conventional approach. Thankfully, I have a solution. In the days prior to my defection, I was able to learn that the Lightbearer was deemed too experimental to be manned by a crew. Instead, it is controlled remotely, via datalink, by the fleet commander. Should the man or woman holding the trigger be incapacitated or killed, a line of succession comes into play. Various senior officers are given the authority to take control of the Lightbearer's systems, provided they possess the proper codes. These individuals include the commanders of each squadron of warships, and the person who was, until not very long ago, the senior pilot in the Grand Fleet: me."

Hawkins's eyes narrow, his mouth widening into a grim slash. The effect is predatory, intimidating, and nothing like a smile.


Hawkins has the command codes to override the Lightbearer, does he? But ... wouldn't they have changed those codes?



The remaining minutes of the briefing pass by in a blur. Captain Baelyn takes over again to explain the details of the plan, assigning officers to special duties, and laying out the movements of the fleet and its combat armatures—a wild charge through the wormhole at maximum speed, with the intent of brushing aside any remaining opposition, establishing a defensive perimeter around the Imperial weapon, and getting Hawkins close enough to the Lightbearer to use his command codes to activate it, and turn it against the enemy.

"According to the intelligence we have on the Lightbearer, its receiver will only accept very short range transmissions, no more than ten kilometers. This means that we're going to need to get extremely close to take control. It also means that the Imperials will have to fight through our fleet before they can get close enough to regain control."

"As most of you know, we have been fortunate in having Commander Sowano returned to our ranks. As the most senior pilot remaining in the fleet,
she will act as field commander of the entire combat armature contingent.

Once the rest of the fleet has taken up blocking positions, the Commander will break off, and escort Commandant Hawkins as he approaches and takes control of the Lightbearer. It will then be up to the rest of the fleet to protect them as the weapon is activated and fired."

Some of the other officers crane their neck to catch a glimpse of you. A few are surprised, most less so. Word of your return has travelled fast.

Commanding the entire combat armature contingent of an operation of this scale is something new for you. It will mean coordinating half a dozen or more lances, all directed to a single objective. You
hope you are up to the task but you know that you will only know for sure when you lead your fellow pilots into battle.


Okay, so because we were promoted we are in command of the entire operation. That means we have more responsibilities to juggle -- but it also means we have more resources to call on to meet those responsibilities.



Your inner thoughts do not stop the Captain's briefing.

"I am informed that it will take six hours for the Caliburn to be fully repaired.

During those six hours, you will be expected to prepare yourselves for the coming mission. At the end of those six hours, I shall expect you all rested, fed, mentally prepared, and with your personal affairs in order. At the end of those six hours, the operation will begin, our diversion will be initiated, our combat armatures will be launched, and the Caliburn will lead the charge through the wormhole. That is all. Dismissed."


That's the briefing. Everyone understand the plan? Using the robot kamikaze freighters, we'll disrupt the enemy formation and make a dash straight for the Lightbearer, set up a perimeter. Hawkins will take control of it and use it to attack the Grand Fleet.



The silence breaks almost immediately. Officers begin departing as the lights go up once again. Those with immediately pressing duties begin making their way out quickly. Others begin speaking urgently with their fellow officers, their nervous, grave tones showing how mindful they now are of the importance of the hours to follow.

You get up to leave. You have preparations of your own to make.

However, before you can take more than two steps, you find yourself stopped by a palm pressed against your chest. You feel someone brush up next to you, passing by like a warm breeze.

You feel the warmth of a breath against the side of your face. Then, you hear Asadi's voice whisper in your ear.

"Hey boss. I need to talk to you in private. Meet me in my quarters if you have time."

Before you can respond, or even turn around, the other pilot has melted away into the milling mass of pilots and ship's officers, nowhere to be seen.



Um... was that a pass?



You walk out of the briefing room

with a great deal on your mind but you are not quite so preoccupied as to miss the masked figure leaning against the side of the corridor, waiting for you to pass by.

"Hello, pilot," Hawkins says as you approach.

The Imperial defector pushes him self off the wall and steps towards you.

"I hope my appearance during your Captain's briefing did not appear as too much of a shock to you. I must assume that you have a fair number of questions for me now, after everything I have revealed?"



Actually, I do.

I'm going to take that option because there's just too much to keep track of otherwise. First question:

"Why do you always wear that mask?"



Hawkins hesitates for a moment, as if weighing the merits of one answer over another. Then…

"A long, long time ago, before the Interstellar Era, before space flight, before computers, before guns, there was a class of warrior-aristocrats on Old Earth, they were called chevaliers, ritters, callaberos, knights; you have heard of them, of course?"

You nod. Your schooling covered Old Earth's history well enough. You know what a knight is. Hawkins continues.

"To these men, their helms were a symbol of their ability to fight. Their helmets were mounted on their family crests to declare their ability to make war. Regardless of how they were born, or who they loved or hated, when they put on their helms before a battle, all of those petty weaknesses were subsumed under the faceless, metal visage of a pure warrior, and until they took that helm off upon victory or surrender, they would be nothing more and nothing less."

The Imperial taps the hard sky-blue surface of his mask.

"This is my helm, Suwano. It is a symbol to myself and to the universe—a symbol of my strength and resolve. It shows that I am a warrior first, before all else, and that when it is worn, I am ready for whatever challenge might come my way."

The other pilot takes a deep, calming breath. "There is nothing worth seeing underneath. The mask is who I am."

Absently, perhaps subconsciously, the other pilot adjusts that mask with a thumb and forefinger.

"Surely you did not mean merely to ask after my personal preferences, you've other questions, I suppose?"



"Why do you have to hijack the Lightbearer yourself?""



Hawkins's eyebrow piques in curiosity.

"How do you mean?"

The question seems like an obvious one. After all, there's nothing stopping Hawkins from simply giving his command codes to every pilot in the CoDEC fleet, so that any pilot could conceivably complete the mission. When you mention that to Hawkins, the other pilot does not seem to approve.

Hawkins fixes you with a flat, almost disappointed look.

"Come now, Suwano, if I were to give my command codes to your superiors or any of your fellow loyal CoDEC soldiers, I would be of no further use to them. There would be nothing stopping your Captain Baelyn from locking me up forever, or simply having me tossed out an airlock."

You nod. That makes perfect sense to you. So long as Hawkins is the only one who can disable or take over the Imperial superweapon, CoDEC would have to treat him with kid gloves.

Either way, that's the most definitive answer you could have asked for.



"Are you sure your plan will work?"


Hawkins shakes his head.

"No, I am not. No plan is guaranteed success or failure. I am, however, confident in my- in our ability to acquire the Lightbearer."

The Imperial ace meets your gaze, his expression curious.



Vote 92:
"What do you think?"

#"I'm confident this plan will work, too."
#"There are serious problems with your plan."
#"Your plan is insane."



After we answer that question, perhaps the most important question of all:



Hawkins nods, but before you can turn to walk away, the other pilot stops you.

"Suwano, in the short time which we have known one another, I have always answered all of your questions, and I hope I've provided something close to satisfactory answers. However, I do have one question for you."

You nod. "Yeah, what is it?"

Hawkins seems to fidget for a moment, more awkward than you have ever seen him. He opens his mouth, then closes it again. Finally:

"This plan of mine, whether it succeeds or fails, will change the balance of the war, of the universe, and of our lives. What I want to know is, do you trust it?"

The ex-Imperial meets your gaze, so that even through his mask, you can read the earnestness of his expression clearly.

"Do you trust me?"



Vote 93:
#"You tell me, should I trust you?"
#"I trust you completely."
#"I don't trust you at all."



There's the million dollar question. Go ahead and answer it, and we'll pick up on Monday. I'm not sure if this is the end of the interlude, or if we're going to find ourselves speaking to Asadi next.

See you Monday, 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Legato Endless
2015-10-02, 06:43 PM
Part of something bigger
Serious issues with the plan
I trust you completely

Yes, the Knight might betray us, but telling him that only increases the odds.

Alent
2015-10-02, 11:32 PM
Part of something bigger
Serious issues with the plan
I trust you completely

Dittoing Legato's votes and motivation.

I dunno why, but I instinctively marginalize the Lightbringer in my head. Something about it makes me think "Gas Guzzler, ignore, it'll be out of ammo soon enough". Kind of like our KamikazeCylon Fuel freighter strategy we have going.

Fri
2015-10-05, 07:14 AM
Part of something bigger
Serious issues with the plan
I trust you completely

Yes, the Knight might betray us, but telling him that only increases the odds.

I think I can agree with this reasoning. I think the cosplayer is the type who would prefer if we say "yes" and "no" without being wishy washy, and I think we really shouldn't say no now.

pendell
2015-10-05, 06:55 PM
All right, here are our choices:

Part of something bigger
Serious issues with the plan
I trust you completely


The captain's plan is part of something bigger.



Indeed, this seems a bit too simplistic to be the Captain's entire plan. Maybe it'd be best to just keep your mouth shut and see what else the Captain's got up her sleeve


We mention there are serious problems with the plan.



The Imperial defector's eyebrow slopes upwards at your words, half-accusatory as they are.

"What problems might those be?"

You start with the obvious problem. "What if the Imperials reach us before we can finish hijacking the Lightbearer?"

"Then the other combat armatures and ships will have to defend us. The process will only take a few seconds once we are in range."

"And if the Imperials try to regain control of the Lightbearer with their own remote control attempt?"

Hawkins nods. "They will but it will be too late. My first action will be to lock all the other command codes out of the system."

A thought occurs to you, a flash of chilling revelation which threatens to bring Hawkins's entire grand plan to ruin before it even begins.

"The Imperial Military has had nearly a full day to lock down your command codes, what makes you think they'll still work?"

"They will work," Hawkins replies, voice full of iron. "I have made sure of it. The Imperial Military cannot rescind the command code access of a member of the nobility. Such a measure can only be activated by the Empress. Prior to my defection, I called in every favor I had to ensure this would not happen—retainers, political allies, old friends, all are doing their utmost to convince Her Imperial Majesty that I am not a traitor. They will all buy us the time we need."

"And what will happen to them when the Empress realizes you are a traitor?"

"The Empress is not known for her forgiveness, nor are her ministers. By aiding our cause, they have doomed themselves."

Hawkins falls silent, and his expression takes on the barest hint of a deep sadness. You wonder how many friends and loved ones the ex-Imperial has sacrificed for his role in the battle you are soon to fight. The other pilot's face grows more melancholy, perhaps he is thinking the same thing.

The ex-Imperial takes a deep breath, it is clear that he wishes to dwell on this subject no longer.


:(.

But we do trust him completely, or so we tell him.




Hawkins's eyebrows shoot up in surprise.

"Really? I could not have guessed that you would put such faith in me."

You shake your head. "I may not like you very much but you've never lied to me. That's gotta be worth some level of trust in return."

The Imperial hesitates for a moment, as if about to say something which he is to regret, but then he thinks better of it, and simply nods.

"Perhaps you are foolish to trust me."

You shake your head. "Perhaps I am but you haven't proven yourself a liar yet."

You hear Hawkins mutter something, just loud enough for your ears to make out.

"There's a first time for everything."

Before you can ask what that is supposed to mean, the ex-Imperial turns and walks away.


That was just a little disquieting.



You spend the next hour or so getting your affairs in order, doing last-minute checks on your pilot suit, downing another unappetizing tray of military rations, and generally catching up on the few days that you've lost in Imperial captivity.

You also get a message, from an encrypted source, informing you that your command codes are now invalid, as they have been compromised by the enemy. A second message from the same source follows a few minutes later, with a new set.

You take the time to memorize these new codes but it is the work of only a few minutes to get the string of letters and digits ingrained into your head.

Eventually, you simply run out of things to do. There are no ways left to spend the long hours that remain before you are to finally go into battle, unless you were to accept Asadi's invitation to visit him in his quarters or were to simply try and sleep those remaining hours away.



Vote 94)
* Go to Asadi's quarters.
* Go back to my quarters and rest.


I cannot skip forward past this decision, so I will wait for your votes and we will resume on Wednesday, 5:30 PM :).

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alent
2015-10-05, 11:39 PM
I'm not sure I'd have told him I trust him completely after hearing him talk about hanging his friends out to dry. :smalleek:

Aside from that... Sure, let's death flag Asadi. I mean, visit his quarters.

pendell
2015-10-07, 04:53 PM
Okay, let's visit Asadi.



When you knock on the door to Asadi's quarters, you aren't so much let in as pulled in by the other pilot.

Feridoun Asadi is out of uniform—that's the first thing you notice. However, even in an undershirt and loose PT shorts, his wiry and muscular body still cuts a dashing figure.



Oh, really? I have a seduction contact bearing 0-0-0.



The other pilot smiles as he draws you into his arms and the door automatically slides shut behind you.

"So, I guess that place on Crown Station is a bust."

You nod, absently, as your eyes meet, and neither of you looks away.

"Yeah. Not every day the enemy decides to ruin your dinner plans with a superweapon."

For a second, there is nearly complete silence, broken only by the low hum of the Caliburn's ambient systems and the sound of breathing. Asadi looks away.

"You're going to make me say it, aren't you?"

"Say what?"

Feridoun turns back to meet your gaze, slowly, hesitatingly, as if afraid of something in your eyes.

"This battle. It's a hell of a risk and we both know it. The chances that both of us survive are going to be…really, really low. Last time we met like this, I listened to my doubts, and we agreed to wait until things sorted themselves out. When we thought you were dead, I spent that whole time wondering if I should have just told my doubts to go screw themselves."

Asadi closes his eyes. "This time, no more doubting. No more waiting." Then, slowly, but with growing confidence, Feridoun Asadi draws your lips towards his.



So how about it, gang? Are we going to give into his charms? Or are we going to remain professional, even to the last?


Vote 95:


* Kiss him back.
* Push him away.



For obvious reasons, I can't go further. Tell me what's up and we'll see what happens on Friday, after 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Legato Endless
2015-10-07, 05:13 PM
Sure let's go with this

Lord Cosplay is ready to hang us out, and Watanabe feels like he's our younger brother, so Meh I guess .

Alent
2015-10-07, 07:59 PM
The Asadi ship seems as good as any. :mitd:

Sure let's go with this

smuchmuch
2015-10-08, 04:03 AM
>Nah.
I prefer Lord Cossplayer.

pendell
2015-10-09, 06:40 PM
Looks like we're going to succumb to Asadi's charms. Here we go!



You feel an unconscious shiver go down your body as your lips meet. You press in closer until you are are entwined and enmeshed, his skin against yours, you and he resonating as one.

Your hands are no longer taking orders from your head—they slide along the smooth curves and hardened muscle of his body, and you feel his hands swiftly glide along yours, moving with the frantic desperation of the condemned.

It lasts forever, and somehow it still ends. One of you pulls away, you don't know who. For a moment, you gaze into each others' eyes.

"Do we have time for this?"

Asadi's words bring you up short.

"We have a battle to prepare for, don't we? How much time do we have?"

You don't bring up your chronometer; you don't look for a clock. You only look back into the eyes of someone who is, at the moment, the only other person in your universe. You put a finger to his lips.

"We have enough."

The other pilot pries an arm loose and reaches along the wall. You catch the glimpse of a wicked smile, as Feridoun's fingers find their quarry, and the lights go out.


ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED:
Beach! Volleyball!: You romanced your wingperson. (25 points)



When you return to the hangar bay a few hours hours later, the vast room is swarming with men and women—technicians, marines, and pilots doing last check ups on their machines. The Lionheart sits at the first berth, fully repaired and ready for action.

However, it doesn't take you very long to notice the machine next to the Lionheart: Camille Hawkins's Roland, hastily repainted with CoDEC insignia—a sign that, if nothing else, High Command trusts the Imperial defector enough for him to be considered, provisionally at least, one of you.

You look up just in time to see a slim, fair-haired figure in a newly cut CoDEC pilot suit clamber into the open cockpit. Hawkins looks down at you and gives you a businesslike salute before lowering himself into his cockpit.

You have little time to waste. Some of the other pilots further down already have their machines powering up. Those on the hangar deck scramble away, ant-like, making room for the first of the Caliburn's pilots as they move across the cavernous chamber to take position before the elevators to the catapult.

Getting into your cockpit and strapping yourself in is second nature now. You don't even realize you've done it until the Lionheart's armored torso begins to close in around you.

You take a good look around the hangar bay as your cockpit cocoons itself behind layers of metal and ceramic, knowing that it could be the last you ever see it in this life.


Final launch, looks like. At least we get to launch with a smile!



You trigger the stim injector in your suit. You feel your vision sharpen and various parts of your body waken beyond wakefulness as you slowly move the Lionheart into position before the assembled combat armatures of the Caliburn's combat armature group. You make a unit-wide ready check. The others chime in one by one over your comms.

The familiar faces of your lance are gone. In their place are a succession of fresh-faced replacements from the strategic reserve. They wear the old unit insignia, and report with the old names, but you know they are not the men and women who fought and died under your command over so many battles.

Those pilots are all gone.

Well, perhaps not all.

One last face flashes on your screen: a black-haired, hungry-looking young man with aristocratic features and skin the color of milk tea.

"This is Eternal Vigi--Two, ready on your go, boss."

You step up to the catapult, waiting for the launch indicator to turn green….


So it's Kallen, Asadi, and Hawkins against the Empire. Everyone is dead but the very best. Let's make it good!



ou move the Lionheart into position, your lance at your back, as the rest of the fleet takes up formation. You pass the other ships of the rag-tag CoDEC fleet and bring your machine into position near the head of the combat armature screen.

Out of the more than two hundred combat armatures which had assembled to face the Imperial Grand Fleet before Crown Station, only a few dozen remain. Even those few are enough to make a formidable-looking array.

Hopefully it will be formidable enough. These are all the mecha that CoDEC can still deploy.

You tap into the fleet-wide comms channel just as the still-impressive remnants of CoDEC's combined fleets report in.

"-med Merchant Cruiser Costava, in position."

"Light Carrier Lettow-Vorbeck, in position."

"Point-Defense Frigate Tagore, in position."

And so on it goes, until finally, you see the knife-edged hull of the Caliburn, shining like new, slip loose from the massive, metallic claws of the mobile shipyard, and move into position at the head of the fleet.

"Fleet Carrier Caliburn, in position. All ships reporting and accounted for. Phase one, begin."

Ahead of you, the assembled ranks of unmanned merchant vessels, now packed with immense amounts of antimatter, begin moving forward, the jury-rigged missile guidance computers at their helms steering them towards the diamond of navigational beacons marking the aperture of the Vedrian wormhole.


Phase one underway. We're going to throw a bunch of freighters full of antimatter at the Imperial fleet.



Now all that remains is to wait for the rigged civilian ships to hopefully do their job. You have twenty minutes before what could be the beginning of the last battle of CoDEC's last fleet.

You can feel the tension in your cockpit as the minutes tick down. The comm links are silent; everyone knows how momentous this battle will be, either as the rebellion's finest hour, or its death knell.

The situation almost seems begging for a speech.

As field commander of the combat armature force, you are certainly entitled to make one. After all, you and your fellow pilots must get Hawkins to the Lightbearer in one piece, leading the charge as the ships provide fire support. It's not a leap to say that your actions might decide the course of the battle.

A few words of encouragement might fire up your fellow pilots. A reminder of just how much hangs in the balance might get them to fight harder and more doggedly.

Of course, no matter what the content, it'd still have to be a speech worth listening to.




Ultimately, you decide:

Vote 96:
* to give a speech to rouse everyone's fighting spirit.
* to remind everyone that victory here might mean a quick end to the war.
* to encourage everyone to hunt down the enemy coldly and without mercy.
* not to give a speech after all.



Suggest your speech either play to your strengths -- war , deliberate -- if you're going to make a success of it. Otherwise , best not to say anything.

After we've decided on the content of our speech, we'll push forward with the battle proper.


...

Uh-oh.

I can't go forward past this point. There are too many variables, too many interrelationships between our past decisions. Also , our ability to make a speech (or not) directly impacts our combat ability , and so I can't compute whether we are able to break directly through to the lightbearer, or if we will have an encounter on the way. It seems unlikely that we will fail to reach the Lightbearer entirely , but it IS one of the possible outcomes.

So ... decide on your prebattle speech, if you're going to give one. Then the rest of the story will unfold quickly ... on Monday, 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alent
2015-10-10, 09:40 PM
A quick end seems unrealistic. Be efficient, and kill without mercy, people.

norman250
2015-10-12, 03:15 AM
Nein! Remind them that A victory here may mean a quick end to the war!

pendell
2015-10-13, 06:17 PM
What, I missed yesterday? Apologies. I don't know what went wrong.

We have one vote for a speech demanding war without mercy, and one speech promising a quick end to the war.

Hrm.. for myself, I prefer the second but I don't think our current character can sell it, since she is firmly on the "war" side of the "warrior/diplomat" access.

What does Randomella think?

-- Without Mercy = 78
-- Quick end to war = 66

Randomella is feelin' blood thirsty.



You get on the command channel.

"Alright pilots, listen up."

You take a breath and fight down your nerves. You have little experience giving speeches but you know that the worst thing you can do is sound uncertain or scared.

"You all know what we're up against. The Imperial Grand Fleet outnumbers us by a severe margin, and in any stand-up fight, our chances of winning this battle would be slim, at best."

Nervous murmurs break the silence. The other pilots know all of this, and they're probably wondering why you're bringing it up again.

"Fleet Command's plan doesn't change that. We're still outnumbered and outgunned, but it does give us one advantage better than any reinforcements. When we come out of that wormhole, the enemy will be scattered, confused, and scared. If we want to win this fight, we need to take advantage of that. We need to kill as many of the enemy as we can before they regroup.

The channel is silent once again. Hopefully, it is because you've started convincing them and not because they've all shut you out.

"If we want to win this fight, we cannot allow our emotions to get the better of us. We need to kill them before they kill us. There can be no hesitation, no fear, no mercy—your lives depend on it. Am I understood?"

The chorus of responses you get is cold, aggressive, vicious. Your own cold aggression must have given your speech the bleak sincerity it needed to convince your fellow pilots to follow your example.



Looks like we sold it. We will have a +1 in the upcoming fleet battle. Here we go!




"It's time!" Captain Baelyn announces, right on cue. "Fleet, make ready to advance and engage the enemy!"

Your fingers tense around the throttle and you give the order:

"Good hunting, forward!"

You push the Lionheart forward, leading the last fleet of the rebellion into the invisible, gaping maw of the Vedrian wormhole to grasp your one last chance at victory.

Well, here goes everything.


*Deep breath*




Vedrian Wormhole Aperture, Vedria System

You exit the wormhole at full speed, at the leading edge of the CoDEC advance, combat armatures and warships amassed together as a single body, charging boldly forward into enemy space.

Before you, the enemy fleet is in chaos. Captain Baelyn's plan has worked perfectly. The enemy's formation has been broken, its battleships and combat armatures clustered in a chaotic tangle around the shattered wreck of Crown Station. One or two of the enemy's vessels have been destroyed outright; the shattered shells of their hulls are the only things barring your way forward.

However, they begin responding quickly to this new and unexpected attack. Even as you and your own allies charge deeper into the Vedrian system, the Imperial battle line begins to reform and groups of enemy combat armatures coalesce into coherent units and begin to rush towards the CoDEC fleet.

Your eyes, however, fix themselves not on the chaotic tangle of the massive enemy force, but on the dark and sinister shape directly before you—larger than any warship—turning ponderously to face you as it slowly unfolds.

Lightbearer.


Let's try to break through the confused fleet!



Within seconds, Imperial combat armatures rush in to stem your advance, throwing themselves in front of the relentless attacks of your desperate allies. With a frantic bravado, they fling themselves against the CoDEC force—

—to no avail. Their numbers are too few and their coordination nonexistent. Their nerves still rattled, first by the exploding civilian hulls, then by this impossibly ferocious surprise attack, the few enemy machines which sally forth to meet you stand no chance. The entire fleet opens fire and the blackness of space is lit up by a hail of orange tracer. Most of the Imperial mecha are swept from existence by the storm of cannon fire. Pale-blue light lances out at the one or two survivors, reducing them to shattered debris and glowing wreckage a second later.

Unhindered, the CoDEC fleet charges onward. More Imperial mecha and ships move to stop you, but they have no desire to meet the fate of their doomed companions. They advance more deliberately and cautiously, as a single, lumbering force. They will not be able to reach the CoDEC force for some time yet.

For now, the way forward to the Lightbearer is clear.


Splendid! We're about to make our direct assault on LIGHTBEARER.

There are a lot of things happening here. While we did not weaken the enemy fleet by striking at it during the withdrawal earlier, we saved the CALIBURN battlegroup twice -- once in the withdrawal, and the second time by sacrificing our wing during the battle for Crown Point Station. This gave us the ships to give this plan a chance. Also, we saved a lot of civilian evac ships which have now been turned around as robot-controlled antimatter missiles -- the more hulls we saved, the more "fire ships" we could deploy, the more confused the enemy is.

This plus the pre-battle speech we gave seems to have given us the edge we need to break through to the LIGHTBEARER.



With the last enemies between you and your objective dealt with, the rest of your allies peel off to face the bulk of the Imperial fleet. Only you and Hawkins continue on to the Lightbearer itself. Every other ship and combat armature will be needed to buy you time you and the defector need to take over the Imperial superweapon and bring it to bear on the enemy.

The main body of the enemy fleet still have the advantage of numbers and sheer firepower but their formations waver. On the other hand, your own allies bristle aggressively, needling the ponderous enemy force with skirmishing attacks and long-range missiles. Only a few of the missiles strike home, and few of the probing strikes draw blood, but the tenacity of your allies is comforting all the same.

They will buy you and Hawkins as much time as they can to hijack the Lightbearer. It should be more than enough.


Here we go...



Thankfully, the Imperial superweapon has no defensive systems of its own, and whatever defenders which it might have had have been destroyed by the first wave of rigged civilian ships, or are currently locked in battle with the CoDEC fleet. It only takes a few seconds for the two of you to approach the Lightbearer itself.

The Imperial weapon is no longer trying to open up into firing position. The second you managed to break through, the Lightbearer's controllers apparently decided to hedge their bets. Now, the enemy superweapon is safely encased behind its massive slabs of armor. Your weapons cannot damage it but neither can its powerful cannon turn itself upon you and the CoDEC fleet.

You keep a wary eye out for any enemy mecha lucky enough or skilled enough to break through your own fleet's formations as Hawkins moves towards the inactive superweapon.

"Establishing comm link," the other pilot announces. "Link established, imputing codes."

A moment later, Hawkins's mouth forms into a grim, almost pained smile.

"I have control."



Excellent! Hawkins has taken control of the LIGHTBEARER!




And then the comm link goes silent.


Erm... wait,what?



There is a moment of complete confusion as you try to make sense of Hawkins's sudden silence. Have his comms failed somehow? Are the Lightbearer's systems causing interference?

You try opening a new channel.

"Hawkins, this is Eternal Vigi--Lead, respond."

Still silence.

A glance behind you shows you a momentary flash of the battle—CoDEC forces being pushed back, overwhelmed by sheer numbers. The Caliburn fights on at the very heart of the battle. Battered by a storm of Imperial fire, your home carrier spits defiance at the half a dozen Imperial ships which press forward, eager to score such a juicy kill.

Around her, the ships of the CoDEC fleet are dying, blasted apart by the missile salvoes of Imperial warships and the slashing cuts of enemy mecha, despite the best attempts of the swiftly dwindling CoDEC combat armatures still attempting to mount a defense.

You try again. "Hawkins, reactivate the Lightbearer and get it into firing position! If we hit the Imperial fleet, we can finally crush the enemy for good!"

This time, you get a response, but not the one you were waiting for. Hawkins reappears on your comm screen.

"I am afraid that I would consider such an outcome to be…unacceptable."

The next thing you know, you are staring down the barrel of Hawkins's particle beam cannon.


Argh, curse your sudden and inevitable betrayal!


Vote 97:

* "I never should have trusted you."
* "Why would you do this? Why would you betray us like this?"
* "If it's a fight you want, then I'm more than happy to give you one!"



After you've had a chance to react and he gives us his response, we move on.



You keep a tight lid on your emotions as you lock eyes with the other pilot, carefully refusing to admit any emotion which might be taken as a sign of weakness.

"So, now you have the Lightbearer under your control, and you're not going to use it to help us. The Imperial Fleet isn't going to take you back. That implies that you have your own agenda to pursue, doesn't it?"

Hawkins's eyes narrow behind his mask.

"I did not lie to you when I spoke of my disgust for this," he waves a languid hand at the bulk of the Lightbearer beside him, "abomination. I have no intention of allowing the Empire to strip the bravery, the skill, and the decency from war by using such a weapon as this."

He leans forward, his voice low and dangerous.

"However, if you think that I would allow the rebellion to use this device to end this war, you are gravely mistaken. This war has brought out the noblest and most extraordinary qualities in ordinary people, and made them heroes, paragons, and great leaders. I have no wish to see those same qualities wither away under the bitter winter of peace."

Hawkins's hand gives a dismissive flick, as if the concept of a lasting peace, so distasteful to him, were no more than dust.

"The Lightbearer will be destroyed. The war will continue in the way it should, and humanity will be stronger for it."



So , how do we react to this?


Vote 97:
#"You're insane!"
#"I agree with you, but I won't betray CoDEC!"
#"You're right."


Full disclosure: It IS possible to simply stand aside and let Hawkins carry out his plan, if you've the stomach for it.

Of course, the plan has no chance of working the way Hawkins wants it too. If the LIGHTBEARER is simply destroyed , the Grand Fleet possesses overwhelming superiority against the ragtag remnants of a force that just played its last trump card. The Empire possesses more than enough conventional superiority at this point to force the unconditional surrender of CODEC, and that will ALSO end the war.

Would you like to see that ending? Okay, I'll spoiler it.


Somewhere near Hippogriff IV, Hippogriff System.

"One ore carrier, three escorts," you report. "They look like older model machines.
Shouldn't be too hard to take down."

Hawkins nods back, with his now-customary grim-set expression. Sometimes, you remember when
the ex-Imperial pilot used to grin and frown and even laugh.

Then again, it's been so long since that's happened, sometimes you wonder if that was just a figment
of your imagination.

You do remember other things more clearly though: the vast, blinding explosion as the Lightbearer
immolated itself, and the funeral pyres of the CoDEC fleet's last warships as they succumbed to the
onslaught of the Imperial fleet. The next few weeks had been chaotic. You had been hunted by both sides
as traitors, even as the CoDEC rebellion collapsed and the Empire's ships and mecha stormed through
the Vedrian wormhole into New Lisbon.

At first, the two of you sought out any fight you could, against the remnants of the CoDEC military,
against the Imperial Fleet, against anyone who'd shoot back.

Then, the war ended. The CoDEC Defense Committee surrendered under the shadow of the Imperial Grand Fleet,
and the Empress ordered her admirals to hunt down the last holdouts against Imperial rule in the outer
systems, a category which included the two of you.

As the Empire of Humanity Ascendant reasserted its control over the outer colonies with more force
than ever before, you and Hawkins found few places to hide. Fighting back became even less viable of
an option. Two highly trained, highly skilled pilots in military-grade combat armatures could take
down a single, isolated warship or an entire lance of enemy mecha, but to fight one of the Empress's
carrier battlegroups single-handedly was suicide. Both of you were smart enough to know that.

So, you fled, away from the settled outer systems, away from civilization, away from Imperial patrols
and vengeful old CoDEC veterans and into the far fringes of the settled galaxy. Hippogriff had only
been settled for ten years before the beginning of the CoDEC rebellion, and even now, the only
colonies are a handful of mining stations on platinum-rich Hippogriff IV.

Within a year, the two of you had put together a new home on a new asteroid, and had recruited a
few rogues to maintain it. From there, the two of you flew out in your increasingly worn and makeshift
combat armatures, picking fights wherever you could—not just for the sake of Hawkins's philosophy of
strength through battle, but simply for the loot which would keep your crew loyal and fed for another week.

This was why the two of you were currently bearing down on a small civilian ship loaded with ore,
on the edge of the known galaxy.

"I'll take the lead machine. You take the other two," Hawkins orders, voice almost entirely flat,
His eyes eerily focused behind his chipped and scratched mask. You're not sure
if he ever takes it off these days.

"Got it," you reply. "Engaging."

You move in for the kill, hoping that the Lionheart's battered verniers will hold up for another fight.

The ore carrier's escorts are Reiters, battered and repainted, but still capable of a fight, as they
show when they open fire on your approaching machine with their autocannons.

You have no way of returning fire. Nobody this far away from the core worlds has any idea on how to
manage particle weaponry. The Lionheart's experimental ranged weapons didn't even last three months.
All you have left is your Plasma Cutter.

Thankfully, the escorts aren't particularly good shots. You weave through their fire easily. Still,
they put up a desperate fight. A year ago, there would have only been one machine escorting a single
cargo ship, if at all. Now, the escorts are getting stronger, and better equipped, even as your own
machines begin to break down.

You manage to take down the first machine before it can even switch to its plasma cutter—one quick
jab through the cockpit. The second is more prepared for you. He parries your first blow and strikes
back with vicious enthusiasm. However, exuberance is no match for skill and experience. You pull the
Lionheart down as your opponent strikes, then you strike from below.

Your opponent's machine reels backwards, reactor fatally compromised. A side glance tells you that
Hawkins has dealt with his opponent as well.

The whole battle has lasted four, maybe five seconds.

The ore carrier surrenders without a fight. You begin unloading the ship's full cargo containers
for transport back to your hideout. The work is mind-numbing, and the fact that you've resorted to
petty piracy to survive certainly doesn't make it much better.

The monotony of the work makes your mind wander. You wonder if things would have been different if
you had decided to fight Hawkins instead of going with him that day four years ago. Would
you have been able to confront and defeat him? What would you have done with the Lightbearer
under your control?

You unload the last container and latch it to the others. You bring your thoughts back to the here and
now as you do a systems check: there's a new red spot on your status screen. Another one of your verniers
has burned out in the fight for the ore carrier, another part which you have no chance of replacing.

"We're done here," Hawkins tells you, without trace of warmth. "Take the cargo." Whatever friendliness
the former Imperial officer might have harbored for anything is long gone now, drained by the constant
effort of scraping an existence from the edge of nowhere.

You doubt you sound any different.

With a silent nod, you take hold of the cargo containers and attach them to the Lionheart.
Slowly, you begin the journey back to your base, hauling another load of loot to keep going for
another few days.

After that, you'll have to find another ore carrier, fight another escort, win one more battle against
the universe.

When you joined Hawkins, he spoke of eternal struggle, an endless battle to make you ever
stronger.

You don't feel much stronger right now.





However, this future is no longer possible; Hawkins will only believe you if we are both extremely warlike AND we have a good relationship with him. Neither of those conditions are true.

So we are forced to fight him regardless of the dialog choices. So I'll skip down to the part where we tried to fool him, and failed.



Hawkins's eyebrow raises under his mask.

"How droll, pilot. I had not realized that you thought me such a fool."

That brings you up short. "What?"

Hawkins's eyes narrow. The barrel of his machine's weapon remains pointed squarely at the Lionheart's cockpit.

"After all this time spent in mistrust, in conflict, and in mutual antagonism, you expect me now to believe that you have had a sudden change of heart, right at the most decisive moment?"

The Imperial defector shakes his head.

"No, no, no. You will not have me lower my guard to such a shabby ruse. If you wish for a chance to prove your sincerity, do so in battle. Defeat me and I shall relinquish command of the Lightbearer to you to do with as you wish, but until then…"

Hawkins launches his machine forward, poised to attack.

"Defend yourself!"



Here we go! Final battle !



Time seems to slow as Hawkins draws his
Roland's monosaber and rushes towards you.

Tactical options flow through your mind. You consider your possible courses of action as they flash through your thoughts with a swiftness borne of a whole war's worth of experience.

A drawn-out slugging match is out of the question. It will not be long before the CoDEC fleet is overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the Imperial forces, and if you are to turn the Lightbearer upon the enemy fleet before they reach and overwhelm you, you must not waste any time.

The most direct response would be to meet Hawkins close up, in melee. It would be the most aggressive option, and the one most likely to take out Hawkins swiftly, but it is also the riskiest, especially against a highly skilled pilot like the Blue Masque.

Alternatively, you could try to keep your distance and attack Hawkins from afar. However, your opponent's machine has powerful ranged weapons of its own, and you will have to be quick on your feet to avoid getting it in return.

Another option would be to call for help from your allies. You'd need to keep a cool enough head to evade Hawkins's attacks and make the call simultaneously, but it might also give you enough of a momentary advantage to bring Hawkins down. Unfortunately, any forces you call to assist won't be able to help in holding back the Imperial fleet, which would weaken the CoDEC defense considerably.

Lastly, you just might still be able to talk the enemy ace down, even if you aren't the most eloquent speaker. A personal appeal might just get through.


Oh, by the way, one other thing.



A quick look behind you shows that the CoDEC fleet is still managing to hold out against their Imperial opponents, but barely. Cracks are beginning to show in the defense as the Imperial ships pour missile salvoes into concentrated points of the rebellion's last fleet.

They will not be able to hold for much longer. If beating Hawkins will get you access to the Lightbearer, you'll need to do it quickly.


So this is a timed battle , guys. If we don't beat him in a few rounds -- exactly how many depends on how strong our fleet was at the beginning of the battle -- the Empire will win the battle conventionally and then come for us. All will be lost at that point.

So what do we do?

Vote 99:

#Fight Hawkins up close with my Plasma Cutter [Piloting skill+weapon].

#Attack Hawkins from long range with my Particle Storm Rifle. [Perception skill + weapon]

#Call for support from the main CoDEC fleet. [In addition to the conditions below , if you have low willpower Hawkins will damage your ship while you are waiting for help. You can survive one hit, but not many more than that]
####Call for help from Asadi. [Asadi must be alive]
####Order reinforcements from the main CoDEC force. [Rank must be Commander]
####Request fire support from the CALIBURN. [CALIBURN must not have been badly damaged in the last flight and the battle group must be relatively intact]

#Try to talk Hawkins down. [Presence Skill]
####Try to convince Hawkins that his entire philosophy is wrong.



This may be the most important choice you make in this game! So .. make it and I'll see you Thursday, 5 PM!

Legato Endless
2015-10-13, 11:55 PM
If it's a fight you want...
You're insane
Snipe his ass like we've done every time before

pendell
2015-10-15, 05:09 PM
Voting is extended till tomorrow, 5 PM, because I'm working overnight tonight.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

pendell
2015-10-16, 08:10 PM
Well, I'm back! What do we have?

votes:
If it's a fight you want...
You're insane
Attack at range.

So we'll do that.

"If it's a fight you want.."



Hawkins looks away for a moment, expression pensive.

"A fight? Yes, I suppose a fight is what I want, though I doubt I desire such a thing for the same short-sighted purpose as you."


Yes, because you're such a special snowflake. No disrespect or nothin', but are as nutty as a squirrel cache.



Hawkins doesn't seemed fazed at all by your reply. In fact, your words seem to bounce right off.

"It is not insane to look beyond one's limited view of one's own circumstances and do what is necessary for the betterment of our species. I merely wish to make humanity—all of humanity—stronger. Is that so very wrong?"

"It is the way you're doing it!" you shoot back. "If this war continues, millions of people will die, and they'll die uselessly, because we could end this whole thing today!"

The other pilot shakes his head, a look of pity on his face.

"Very well, then. If you insist on attempting to stop me, then I shall offer you a chance to try. Best me in combat and I shall turn over control of the Lightbearer to you."

Events have certainly taken a turn for the bizarre. If you can beat Hawkins, then the Lightbearer and its immense power would be under your control to do with as you saw fit. Then again, beating the ex-Imperial ace is far from a simple proposition, considering Hawkins's current track record for trustworthiness.


Um... do I have a choice?




Hawkins actually seems to take a moment to consider it.

"Perhaps you do. You could simply concede my point and walk away. Of course, I would have no guarantee that your intent was genuine, and I'd likely shoot you down to make sure."

You shake your head. "Yeah, I'll pass on that."

"On the other hand, you could join me, but having already expressed your opposition, your sincerity would certainly be in doubt. I do not think I would accept."

"So, what you're saying is, no, I don't have a choice?"

The masked pilot shrugs. "No, I suppose not."

You sigh. A fight it is, then. You ready yourself just as the other pilot launches his machine at yours, poised to strike.



The battle begins!




You fall back as Hawkins advances, trying to get a clear shot without allowing your highly skilled opponent to get close enough to strike first. Your battle quickly becomes a chase, with his mecha pursuing yours as you try to win a few seconds with which to aim and fire. You send the Lionheart twisting and turning in tight, angular patterns, but Hawkins is right behind you. This approach isn't working; you need a new plan.

Hawkins lunges for you again, monosaber at the ready. You spot your chance and take it.

Suddenly, you bring the Lionheart around to face Hawkins's onrushing machine, and drive right into your opponent's attack. Only at the last instant do you hurl your machine to the side, letting your foe's mecha barrel past you. Hastily, you turn around, and bring your particle storm rifle to bear on the exposed back of Hawkins's machine.

A fraction of a second is all you have to make the shot before Hawkins has a chance to react.

You squeeze the trigger.


Deep breath...



A burst of fire tears squarely into the back of Hawkins's machine. Your opponent's mecha lurches to the side, its armor crumpling under the impact of your particle rifle's fire. Explosions ripple across his armature's body as its thrusters fire erratically, sending the machine tumbling away violently.

The thrusters on the Blue Masque's machine choke and vomit gouts of blue, hot flame as secondary explosions lash across the body of the stolen Imperial prototype, shattering armor and tearing apart massive cords of synthetic muscle. Its verniers sputter and quit, leaving Hawkins's machine drifting in space, its armor shattered and its thrusters useless.

In other words, defenseless.



ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: Orlando Furioso : Defeat the Roland while Hawkins is piloting it.

Nicely done!



Hawkins looks back at you through the comm link, his mask cracked and battered, his pale skin streaked with soot and blood and sweat.

"Well done," he manages in between hard, deep breaths. "You have bested me and earned your prize." Hawkins looks down for a second, entering something into his cockpit interface, then looks back up. "I'm giving you control of the Lightbearer."

A new notice appears on your status display.

"Exterior Weapon System Detected. Interface Complete, Full Access Granted."

"Strategic Weapon System Lightbearer: Ready for Orders."



So ... now we have the biggest gun in the universe. What are we going to do with it?



The Lightbearer's interface is remarkably simple. It seems that its developers had put the operating system together in a big hurry. The Empire seems as desperate to end the war as CoDEC is. It only takes you a few seconds to figure out the basic workings of the massive Imperial superweapon. Good thing too, because the CoDEC fleet is mere moments away from being overrun by the vastly larger Imperial force.

If you're going to enact the last phase of Captain Baelyn's plan and use the Lightbearer to wipe out the Imperial fleet, this could be your last chance to do it.

On the other hand, while it is the obvious thing to do, other, dissenting thoughts flow through your mind even as you begin the process of activating the Lightbearer's firing systems.

There is, however, an even riskier option. While the original plan calls for the annihilation of the enemy fleet, you see no reason why you couldn't try to use the superweapon to force them to surrender. After all, CoDEC is desperately short of warships. Capturing the entire Imperial Grand Fleet for the rebellion would be an unprecedented coup for CoDEC, and would give your side the precious warships it would need to finally crush the Empire once and for all. All you'd have to do is be persuasive enough to convince the enemy to give up.

If you use the Lightbearer to destroy or capture the Imperial fleet, it would not necessarily mean the end of the war. The CoDEC Defense Committee might push for an immediate counterattack, and the Imperial military still has other fleets. The reprieve that such a victory might win for CoDEC might be small indeed.

However, having the Lightbearer under your control also means that you are in a position of great power. If you only shifted your aim a little, you could threaten both fleets with annihilation, and force them to accept a cease-fire. That might have a better chance of not only ending the battle, but turning into a full peace agreement.

It would also mean effectively betraying CoDEC as well.

What will you do?



Vote 100:

* Aim the Lightbearer at the Imperial Fleet and fire.
* Use the Lightbearer as a threat to force a cease-fire between both fleets.
* Intimidate the Imperial Grand Fleet into surrendering with the Lightbearer.


Suggestion: Try one of the diplomatic options. While diplomacy isn't your strong point, it's not your weakest point either and you have the circumstance bonus of the LIGHTBEARER pointing directly at those targets.

Even if they say no, it is unlikely either the CODEC or the Imperial fleets can stop you from destroying either or both before they take you down as well.

So your choice reduces to: Either blow someone up now, or take a chance and THEN blow someone up if it doesn't work.

After you've made that choice, we have one other issue to deal with.



"So, you have what you want," Hawkins says, almost whispers, through the comm line. "What of me?"

His machine is no longer a threat. Without verniers, it can hardly move in the microgravity of space. The pilot inside, however, might be a different matter.

Still, how will you deal with the arrogant, supremely skilled man,
who began this war as your enemy, risked everything to become your ally,
only to betray you and try to kill you once more?

Is he a defeated enemy who is no longer a threat? A potential ally?

Or a loose end, to be tidied up permanently?




Vote 101:

#Hawkins is no longer my problem. Leave him in his machine for someone else.

#I could use an ally like Hawkins. Try to get him to join me.

#Hawkins is just another enemy. Finish him off.


If you decide that if Hawkins can be turned, he would be a powerful ally, vote for one of the other options as well so we can proceed. I think this is the last vote of the game!

Reminder that Fri has one extra "artist's vote" he hasn't used yet, and this is
probably his last chance to do so.

Don't miss the conclusion -- this Monday, 5:30 PM!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alent
2015-10-17, 08:54 PM
We're not about to countermand our own order!

Fire! Utei!
Finish off Hawkins.

Besides, Hawkins pretty much asked us to stop him earlier.

JeminiZero
2015-10-17, 11:01 PM
There is, however, an even riskier option. While the original plan calls for the annihilation of the enemy fleet, you see no reason why you couldn't try to use the superweapon to force them to surrender. After all, CoDEC is desperately short of warships. Capturing the entire Imperial Grand Fleet for the rebellion would be an unprecedented coup for CoDEC, and would give your side the precious warships it would need to finally crush the Empire once and for all. All you'd have to do is be persuasive enough to convince the enemy to give up.
This sounds like a good plan. Otherwise, Lightbringer or no, we don't have enough warships for a decisive victory

Intimidate the Imperial Grand Fleet into surrendering with the Lightbearer.

As for Hawkins:

#I could use an ally like Hawkins. Try to get him to join me.
For all his combat skills, the man is about as reliable as Dwarf's Sobriety. Probably not a good idea.


#Hawkins is just another enemy. Finish him off.
Entirely in character for our Protagonist, who also shot out fleeing enemy escape pods at the very start. However, I would very much like to capture Hawkins alive once more, since he may have other useful intel about the empire. Besides, if we capture the Roland, our engineers may be able to repair it, and we could hand it over to Asadi or something.

Hawkins is no longer my problem. Leave him in his machine for someone else. (Preferably CODEC high command)

Fri
2015-10-18, 02:35 AM
Intimidate the Imperial Grand Fleet into surrendering with the Lightbearer.

I hope the lightbearer have enough circumstances bonus to add to our middling charisma score :smallbiggrin:.

And

#Hawkins is no longer my problem. Leave him in his machine for someone else.


I imagine this would be more infuriating for hawkins rather than if we simply shoot him. So let's just do this :smallcool:

Legato Endless
2015-10-18, 09:54 PM
Intimidate the Imperial Grand Fleet into surrendering with the Lightbearer.

I hope the lightbearer have enough circumstances bonus to add to our middling charisma score :smallbiggrin:.

And

#Hawkins is no longer my problem. Leave him in his machine for someone else.


I imagine this would be more infuriating for hawkins rather than if we simply shoot him. So let's just do this :smallcool:

I'll support this. I'd prefer to spare Hawkins out of idle curiosity, but it's not really within our character.

pendell
2015-10-19, 07:11 PM
Okay, we're going to try to intimidate the grand fleet into surrendering, and we're going to spare Hawkins.

I'm.. a little surprised by that, given how cold and ruthless Suwano has been up to this point, but I consider it a pleasant surprise. Maybe she's done enough killing that she doesn't want to do any more if she can avoid it?

So let's do it. Demand the surrender of the Grand Fleet.



So be it.

You enter the targeting data into the Lightbearer's fire control system. The Imperial superweapon's massive petals slowly begin to open as the immense form begins to reorient itself towards the not-too-distant battle between the two fleets.

A timer appears on the Lightbearer's system interface—estimated time until ready to fire, you suppose. It gives you maybe a minute before it opens fire on your selected target.

"So, you have what you want," Hawkins says, almost whispers, through the comm line. "What of me?"

What of Hawkins? His machine is no longer a threat. Without verniers, it can hardly move in the microgravity of space. The pilot inside, however, might be a different matter.

Still, how will you deal with the arrogant, supremely skilled man, who began this war as your enemy, risked everything to become your ally, only to betray you and try to kill you once more?

Is he a defeated enemy who is no longer a threat? A potential ally?

Or a loose end, to be tidied up permanently?


Hawkins is no longer my problem. Leave him in his machine for someone else.



You move your Lionheart up to Hawkins's wrecked machine.

"What about you? You're not my problem anymore."

You pull out one of the Lionheart's emergency flares, visible to the naked eye and to the sensors of any ship within a hundred thousand kilometers. You latch the flare onto the scarred and heat-blistered armor of the blue and silver machine and set the activation timer for one hour.

"Someone will pick you up after the battle ends. Whatever they do to you, well, that's none of my concern. I'm just glad to have you out of my hair."

Hawkins looks back at you, a half-smile on his lips.

"An act of mercy? Perhaps we shall meet again, pilot. Perhaps you will have cause to regret letting me go like this."

You shrug. "Perhaps. Then again, perhaps not."

A firm shove from the Lionheart sends Hawkins's crippled machine gently drifting off into empty space. Perhaps you will meet the other ace again at some other time, but for now, he's a non-issue.


I would hope that Hawkins' honor will prevent him from trying to kill the person who just spared his life after he betrayed us.

I wonder what will happen to him. If CODEC gets him, he goes on trial for ... well, we can't indict him for treason, since he never swore an oath and was never in our armed force, but I can't see us just letting him go. Several years staring at cell walls is the most likely outcome.

If the Empire gets him ... he's a traitor and a murderer, since he killed several Imperial soldiers during his escape, some of them in cold blood. Probably a flying lesson out an airlock for him in that case.

None of his options look good. But ... it's not our problem anymore.

Now, on with the threatening and intimidating.



With Hawkins dealt with, you have a more pressing matter at hand.

The Lightbearer's countdown is finished. It stands before you, unfolded in its terrible entirety. In place of the countdown on the interface panel, there are only a series of targeting coordinates, and a single, strobing red button.

You check the coordinates against the Lionheart's own. They're a perfect match. The Lightbearer is pointed right where you want it.

There is only one thing left to do now. Intimidate the Imperial fleet into surrendering. Your words could turn the tide of the war in a day if you say them right.

Showtime.


We're ready.



You scan through the comm signatures until you find the one you're looking for. You open a channel to the Oriflamme, flagship of the Imperial Grand Fleet.

A window opens on your comm screen. On the other end is a dark-skinned woman in her early middle age, with narrowed gray eyes, razor-sharp cheekbones, and the most arrogant-looking sneer you've ever seen.

"This is Admiral Jocasta Walters of the Imperial Grand Fleet." She leans in a second to read the rank insignia on your suit. "Are you calling to arrange your surrender, Commander? Or are you just going to spout more pointless defiance?"

You stare back at the Imperial Admiral.

"Actually, surrender was on my mind."

The enemy officer sits back and steeples her fingers as the corners of her mouth curl up into a vicious grin.

"Perfect. Lay down you—"

You cut her off, responding with a grin of your own.

"Not my surrender. Yours."


Heh heh.



Admiral Walters's expression turns ugly in an instant.

"Is this some kind of joke? In case you haven't noticed, your forces are severely outmatched. What makes you possibly think that you have the upper hand?"

"Simple," you reply. "I have the Lightbearer. And if you don't surrender in thirty seconds, I'm going to use it to destroy your fleet."

The Imperial Admiral scowls. "You're bluffing!"

"Ma'am?" a voice carries from off-screen. "I don't think she is. We've lost all telemetry from the Lightbearer."

The enemy commander's scowl deepens.

The Admiral is indecisive, right on the brink. All she needs is one good push.

You lean forward, making yourself look as threatening as you possibly can.

"You think I'm bluffing, do you? Go ahead, keep thinking that, keep basking in your own arrogance for the next twenty seconds. Enjoy it while you still can, because in a few moments, when I turn your weapon against you and reduce your mighty fleet to slag, you'll get to see exactly how misplaced your arrogance is."


We're not bluffing. Save yourselves and your crews. Because otherwise, we really will blow you out of the sky.



Admiral Walters is furious, her hands claw impotently at the arms of her command chair. She glares at you with frightening intensity, then looks away.

"All forces, this is the Admiral speaking. Cease fire and stand down. I repeat, cease fire and stand down." The Admiral looks back at you. "Alright, you win. Happy now?"

Before you, the enemy's guns begin to fall silent. One by one, their weapons power down and their drives go dead.

The entire Imperial Grand Fleet is surrendering thanks to your actions. In a single stroke, you may have turned the tide of the entire war.

Happy? Yeah, you think you just might be.



WOOHOO!

Let the celebration begin! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiM5zEEI_Jo)

ACHIEVEMENT: The Biggest Stick. You intimidated the enemy fleet into surrendering.



Epilogue
Eight Months Later

CWS Temeraire, Deep Space.

"Captain on deck!"

The marines by the door snap to attention as you walk into the CIC. You dismiss them with a wave and head for your chair. Your bridge officers stand and salute as you cross the wide, open area of your ship's command center.

Frankly, you're still getting used to just how spacious the whole ship is. Your new command is nearly three times the size of the Caliburn. For someone used to the cramped space of a combat armature cockpit, the CIC, with its open spaces and high, vaulted ceilings, seems almost superfluously large.

Then again, Imperial military engineers always did like building things big.

You settle into your command chair, sighing involuntarily as your back sinks into the thick smartfoam upholstery. The comfort of the chair had been another legacy of your ship's Imperial construction. You only take a moment to savor the softness of your chair before refocusing your mind on business.

"Status report."

Ensign Ichiro Watanabe turns in his chair to face you. "We're all green, Captain. We'll be performing our last FTL jump with the rest of the fleet in two minutes, fifteen seconds."

Watanabe isn't an acting ensign anymore. After the heavy losses and sudden gains of the Vedria campaign, CoDEC had needed every officer it could get to crew and command the immense number of Imperial warships you had captured. That was why they fast-tracked Watanabe's training. It was probably also why they decided to promote you off of flight duty for good, and give you a carrier command.

Of course, being responsible for the greatest victory of the entire war probably helped, too.


Hrm. So we're in command of one of the former Imperial ships, are we? Perhaps they should have scuttled the fleet (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scuttling_of_the_German_fleet_in_Scapa_Flow) after surrender but before we actually took possession of the ships. We'd have almost certainly rescued the crews (what madman just leaves men to die in space?) , as the British rescued the German sailors of that event, but then we wouldn't have the ships. Just as well no one on their side thought of that.



"Thirty seconds to FTL jump, Captain!"

You nod in acknowledgement; there's only one last thing left to do.

"Final systems check!"

All around the bridge, your crew report the results of their final diagnostics.

"Sensors and navigation, check."

"Weapons and countermeasures, check."

"ICFG network, check."

"Life support, check."

"Drives, check."

"Combat armature lance on standby for combat deployment."

According to your crew, the Temeraire's systems are in perfect working order. Despite the unfamiliar Imperial systems, your engineering crew's managed to keep the ship in fighting shape ever since you took command. Unfortunately, your combat armature complement has proved somewhat unimpressive, staffed by fresh pilots with no combat experience.

You would have loved to have an experienced ace like your old wingman take command of the Temeraire's lance. You hear that he's even surpassed your kill count, to become CoDEC's top scoring ace.

Unfortunately, Admiral Baelyn had insisted on keeping Lieutenant Asadi on board the Caliburn as commander of Eternal Vigi- Lance.

Your mecha maintenance crews aren't much either, though they're learning quickly. They would learn even quicker if they had someone like Chief Weaver to lead them. Unfortunately, Admiral Baelyn brooked no argument about keeping him on board the Caliburn.

"We're receiving destination coordinates from the fleet flagship. Jump in ten seconds."

You brace yourself for the inevitable disorientation of conventional FTL.

"Five seconds!"

"Jump!"


The final offensive of the war, I hope.



The jump itself barely takes any time at all. One moment, you're feeling the familiar sensation of the blood draining from your head and the bottom falling out of your stomach. The next, your navigation officer is reporting in, even as the color returns to his face.

"Time elapsed: 6.71 seconds. Distance travelled: 78.28 light-hours. Reporting other fleet elements within 100 km. Jump successful, Captain!"

You nod. "Put it on screen," you order.

A moment later, the view from the Temeraire's observation cameras pop up on the main screen. All around you, you see the warships of the CoDEC fleet, silver hulls in their dozens lit gold by the rays of a yellow sun. The enemy is before you as well: a half dozen warships, twenty or thirty mecha, a hodge-podge of deep space defenses. The Imperial forces before you are nowhere near enough to stop CoDEC's fleet, but it is all that is left of the Empress's once-mighty armada. Even as outnumbered and outgunned as they are, you know the enemy will not surrender here. In this one, last battle, the Imperial forces will fight to the last man or woman…

For behind the last remnants of the Imperial military sits a single world, a blue-green jewel sown into the black tapestry of space.

Earth.

THE END


ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: Just this once!: Every major character survived to the end of the story.

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: Who the Hell…: You ended the story with more than 80 Reputation.

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: Take that, Manfred!: You ended the story with more than 80 kills.

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: Men of Destiny: You played through the story with an all-male cast.


ACHIEVEMENTS MISSED
Bad Priorities: Run away during the battle of Crown Station.

…On a Halifax Pier: Help Hawkins destroy Lightbearer.

Just Following Orders: Use Lightbearer to destroy the enemy fleet.

Vedrian Standoff: Use Lightbearer to force an end to the war.

I will (not) abandon you…: Romance your bridge controller.

Heavy Risk…: Romance your deck chief.

The Circus: Bury Hawkins in a swarm of missiles.

The Sword that Cleaves Evil: Max out your melee combat ability.

The Nightmare of Vedria: End the story with less than 20 Reputation.

Women of Destiny: Play through the story with an all-female cast.

Si vis Pacem: You became head of the Damocles initiative.

Orlando Innamorato: You fell in love with Hawkins.

Bright Slap: You resorted to corporal punishment.

Highlander Burial: You destroyed an enemy machine by landing on top of it.

Anime Ja Nai! : Your willpower failed you at a crucial moment.

Kill 'em all!: You got everyone, including yourself, killed.

Red Comet: You flew a swift machine painted red and gold.

No Machine Gun For You!: You lost your ranged weapon in combat, twice!


====

That's a wrap! Check the first post for updated stats page!


- - - Updated - - -

Welcome to the after-game party! *Opens a drink*

So, what did you think? Any special moments? Anything done well? Anything we could have done better? Interested in playing another game? If so , any particular one, or any specific type you have in mind?

Thank you all, it's been a wonderful game!

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Legato Endless
2015-10-20, 10:29 PM
That was fun. I'm surprised we managed 100 rep with our ruthless ideologue.

I'd love to do another game. Perhaps another Choice of Games, or something similar preferably.

Hawkins taunting us is pretty ridiculous. We've stomped him in every fight, he can't cozy up to us again after that betrayal, and his code of honor prevents him from doing anything underhanded. How exactly could he hurt us even if this wasn't end game?

I don't know if we could have done anything better considering how well we executed our character concept, but I'm curious about the achievements Si vis Pacem (whatever Damocles means in the context of the game, some secret society?) and Highlander. But all in all, a good run.

pendell
2015-10-21, 12:48 PM
But I'm curious about the achievements Si vis Pacem (whatever Damocles means in the context of the game, some secret society?) and Highlander. But all in all, a good run.

With respect to the Sword of Damocles, it involves starting up an entire third faction charged with keeping the peace between the Empire and CODEC, using the LIGHTBEARER as your trump card, with the pick of both Imperial and CODEC personnel to fill out your peacekeeping armada.


To do this, you need to win Hawkins as an ally, then use the LIGHTBEARER to impose a ceasefire on BOTH factions. Afterwards, Hawkins will use his connections and influence to bootstrap the initial ad hoc arrangement into a permanent peace, overseen by the LIGHTBEARER and supporting vessels, commanded by you with him as your exec.



As far as highlander, you have an opportunity to destroy an enemy mech by stomping on it.


In the initial foray on the planet when you take the prototype back, if you use the PICTON.



Respectfully,

Brian P.

Alent
2015-10-21, 11:19 PM
This turned out pretty interesting, but I somehow expected the story to be longer than it ended up being. I guess that's to be expected given how much branching there seemed to be. I wonder how drastically losing the Lionheart affects things, given how integral to our character it ended up being.

It might be interesting to see how a different character tackles this game.