[Inaius] Into the Maelstrom (Closed)

Arc

All ur dead space r belong to me
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USG Dauntless Discovery, Curiosity-class Exploratory Corvette, Imperial Exploratory Corps, Sekari Imperial Navy
Celnilles Orbit, Theia System
Subsector 012, Inaius Sector, Milky Way Galaxy
12th Thora, 538 AEF

Eyleene Kirst could never quite get over the scenery of staring down at a planet. It was nothing new of course; with interstellar space travel there was plenty of opportunity to stare down at planets, especially as a captain in the Imperial Navy’s Exploratory Corps. But for her the awe never went away. The way the light of the system’s star glistened across the planet’s oceans and lakes had mesmerized her. She couldn’t help but feel small against the seemingly endless enormity of the universe.

“Captain Kirst,” a voice came over the intercom, that of Second Officer Aksel Zavr. “The Imperial Lord of Admirals is ready to see you.”

“On my way.” She replied. Eyleene rushed to get her uniform on along with all the uniform’s necessary accessories: medals, rank insignia, nameplate, etc. Finally she put on her captain’s cap and walked out of her quarters.

The Imperial Lord of Admirals; the second-in-command of the entire Imperial Navy. Only the Emperor himself held greater authority in naval affairs. Eyleene had always wanted to attract the attention of senior government and military officials - preferably for good reasons - but she never thought it’d happen so quickly after being promoted to captain. The promotion ceremony was only a month ago. If the Imperial Lord of Admirals was giving her a new assignment personally, it had to be of great importance.

The boardroom was a decently sized chamber with a table stretched the long way across the middle of the room and a holographic projector sitting right in the middle of it. On the far end of the room was a large window facing out towards the planet Celnilles.

Eyleene felt nervous stepping into the room. The only other person present was the Imperial Lord of Admirals, who rose from his seat to greet her as she walked in. His face was wrinkled, though not greatly so; a man of perhaps forty or fifty, with his black greying hair serving to pack up this assumption. His eyes were smaller and seemed squinted. A white paludamentum with red piping was fastened upon his person over his right shoulder, coming down to cover his left arm. His torso was covered by an array of medals from a long career in the Admiralty. His uniform coat and trousers were also white lined with gold-colored piping, though his trousers only went down to his knees before they were tucked into a pair of tall, glossy, black boots which stood up to just below his knees.

Eyleene gave a slight bow to the man, which he returned. “You wanted to see me sir?”

“Yes, Captain Kirst. I am here to give you the details of your assignment.”

The Lord of Admirals took his seat at the table. Eyleene sat just across from him, and the holographic projector sat on the table between them both.

“These orders come directly from the Emperor himself,” he stated plainly. Eyleene’s eyes widened. So her hunch was right; any doubts she had regarding the mission’s importance were immediately washed away.

“What assignment has His Majesty bestowed upon me, mi’lord?”

The Lord of Admirals leaned in to push a button on the projector. A hologram of a bright red nebula appeared, hovering just above the device. She knew which nebula it was, and immediately realized what her mission was to be. By the Gods, she thought to herself as she was hit with a feeling of dread and unease. Luckily she was good at hiding such reactions.

“I assume you are already familiar with the subsector five nebula, Captain Kirst?” She knew he already knew the answer.

“Yes, mi’lord,” she answered. The nebula in the hologram looked more so like a crimson hurricane, adding to her trepidation.

“We have picked up a change in the signal coming from within the nebula which we believe may have been caused by intelligent life.”

“Intelligent life, mi’lord? I thought life was impossible within the nebula due to its wild gravitational anomalies?”

“We thought so as well,” his eyes turned from her to the hologram, “until we picked up the signal change. Until recently, the signal was the same repeated garble all over; too degraded for its original meaning to be deciphered. But it has changed.

“We want you to enter the nebula and find out why, and, if possible, make contact with whomever has caused the signal to change.”

Eyleene had no illusions as to the dangers of the nebula; its severe gravitational anomalies have led ships from many Inaius empires - not just the Sekari - to keep good distance for fear of being split apart or squashed by gravitational anomalies. She feared a fate like that would befall herself, her ship, and most importantly, her crew. She felt a chill go up her spine at the thought of it.

“Are you up to the task, Captain Kirst?”

“Yes, mi’lord. The Dauntless Discovery is up to the task.” She fought within herself to summon enough courage to say such. She and all her crew knew the risks when they enlisted in the Imperial Navy. She just hoped it would be painless, for herself and all those aboard.

“Good,” the Lord of Admirals replied, sitting back in his chair. “Then I shall depart your ship and you may be off, Captain.” He rose from his seat and left.

On the way to the bridge, Eyleene worked to keep her sense of dread and fear hidden from the crew. They were mostly humans and nal’i onboard, with some kalnarri present as well. They were all dressed in gray uniforms matching their species’ proportions. The thick piping on their caps and collars were of differing colors to mark their roles aboard the ship; red for security, yellow for command, white for medical, blue for comms, navigation, and science, etc. Eyleene wore a white uniform with black piping to designate her as captain of the ship.

The bridge doors opened up in her presence, and everyone in the room snapped to the position of attention.

“Captain on deck!” The First Officer exclaimed.

“At ease.”

Eyleene took her seat in the captain’s chair while everyone else sat back down in their stations. First Officer Klarc looked over. “Our mission, captain?”

The dread kicked in again; Eyleene could still feel that chill in her spine. She pushed a small button on her chair’s console and leaned her head over a bit so the whole ship could hear her clearly.

“Attention, attention. This is the Captain. The Imperial Lord of Admirals has given me the details of our assignment on behalf of the Emperor himself.”

Everyone’s eyes fell upon her. There was some faint whispering between those on the bridge as to what this assignment would be.

“We have detected a change in the subsector five nebula’s signal. It is believed by Imperial Intelligence that this change is the result of interference on behalf of intelligent lifeforms residing within the nebula. Our mission is to enter the nebula, uncover the source of this signal, why it has changed, and who, or what, has caused it to change.”

For a moment her eyes looked up to those around her. She could see a similar feeling of dread in their eyes. But they, like her, knew what the risks were when they enlisted.

“Report to your stations and prepare for a shockpoint jump. That is all.”

She turned to see the rest of the bridge crew, who all then immediately returned to their duties.

“Second Officer Zavr, release our moorings and bring us to a safe distance for a shockpoint jump to the subsector five nebula,” she commanded, summoning her confidence to her voice.

“Aye captain!”

The moorings were detached as the Dauntless Discovery pulled away from the station.

“Captain, moorings are detached and we’re at optimal distance to engage the shockpoint drive,” Zavr reported.

“Alright then, get us a destination solution and fire up the shockpoint drive. Let’s get this done!”

“Aye captain! Engaging shockpoint drive!”

The space in front of the ship appeared to stretch out before the ship was launched into shockspace. It would only be a moment before they arrived at their destination; right outside the reaches of the nebula.

“De-shocking in three… two… one…” Space seemed to de-stretch back to normal as the nebula came into view. That crimson space hurricane was right in front of them now. The feeling of trepidation which hung over the whole of the crew intensified; Eyleene could sense it.

“I want our systems triple checked before we head in, and I want to find a good gap between gravity fluctuations for us to get in through.” Eyleene spoke with her usual confidence, hoping it would inspire similar confidence in everyone else.

“Aye captain!”

“Captain,” Zavr looked over his shoulder, “all systems are green. We’ve detected a gap between repeated gravitational anomalies which will allow us to slip into the nebula safely.”

“Alright, Mr. Zavr,” Eyleene stood up, “let’s get in there.”

“Are you sure about this, Captain?” The First Officer looked over to Eyleene. She could see his nervousness regarding the nebula. “The nebula’s gravity fluctuations are largely unpredictable. We could be cru-”

“I am fully aware of the dangers regarding this particular region of space, First Officer Nayel,” she cut him off. “But as I have said before, this mission comes to us directly from the highest authority within the Empire. I’ll admit, I don’t like the idea of entering this nebula either. But we have a job to do. We all knew the risks when we enlisted. If you’d like to abandon the mission then there’s a shuttle in the hangar bay with a shockpoint drive so you can go home.”

She leaned forward a bit, eyes locked on Nayel’s. “Would you like to return home right now, First Officer Nayel?”

The man fixed his posture and stood at attention. “No Captain!”

“Captain, we are entering the restricted zone now,” Zavr reported.

The restricted zone. The point where the gravitational anomalies’ influence begins. Luck was the only thing keeping them safe now. The shockpoint drive would be useless while they were inside the nebula.

Eyleene, and no doubt everyone else, had little, if any, expectation of survival.

It went well for a while. Luck appeared to be on their side.

A planet came into view between the crimson gasses of the nebula; a green world looking to be full of life. Eyleene’s eyes widened with disbelief. Life? Here of all places? She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. She looked around to see that everyone else on the bridge seemed to have the same expression. The usual feeling of awe she felt when staring down at the majesty of planets was felt ever more so here.

She snapped herself out of her state of astonishment. “Mr. Zavr,” she ordered, “bring us in and sync our orbit with the planet. If there’s intelligent life in this Gods-forsaken nebula then we’ve just found it.”

“Copy that, Captain. Syncing our orbit now.”

Suddenly it was chaos. The lights in the bridge flashed to red. Alarms sounded. Crewmates rushed between stations to understand what the hell was happening.

Something had finally gone wrong.

“What the hell is going on?!”

“A gravitational anomaly just hit us! We’re being pushed towards the planet!”

“Regain control!”

“I’m trying!” Zavr was frantically trying to regain control of the ship’s systems. The air-resistance of their entry into the planet’s atmosphere had turned into a fire at the front of the ship’s hull. The sky grew blue as the crimson nebula faded away. The surface was rapidly growing closer and larger.

“Everybody hang on!” Eyleene screamed as she rushed to find the button which locked her into her seat.

The impact was hard. Eyleene jerked forward as the Dauntless Discovery crashed into the dirt and grass, grinding up a path of ground of dirt and littered pieces of metal, then trees as it slammed into a forest. Finally the ship ground to a halt and finally stood still. Electric sparks were flying out of consoles and wires hung from the ceiling. Crewmates who hadn’t been holding on hard enough had been thrown into walls and likely killed or knocked out.

Eyleene arose from her captain's chair, looking around to inspect the damage. At least five other members of the bridge staff were lying on the ground, unconscious or deceased. She stumbled over to the bridge door and opened it. The hallway ceiling had parts missing which had fallen onto the floor. Wires hung out from the ceiling spewing sparks forth every few seconds.

She looked back to the bridge. “Is everyone alright?!”

“We have three dead and two knocked out, Captain!” Zavr replied. “But other than that we’re fine!”

The next few hours were spent collecting the survivors and assessing the damage. Eyleene gathered the survivors and organized the construction of some shelters and gathered supplies both from the ship’s cargo hold and the surrounding wilderness.

With the nebula’s cancelling of FTL travel capabilities also came with the uselessness of FTL communication. There was no way of contacting home. Not only that, but the shockpoint drive and the ship had both sustained serious damages in the crash. Damages they didn’t have the equipment to properly repair.

The ship’s reactor had survived, however, so the ship still had power. The MAC guns were still operational as well.

Regardless, they were stuck. Likely permanently.

Days passed...

Day 7
19th Thora, 538 AEF

The dead had already been buried. The wounded were being treated with whatever medical equipment was still usable. The food they had brought with them was running low, and they had been forced to send scavenger parties deeper and deeper into the woods to find whatever foods were edible.

Night had settled in. There was only the sound of insects in the woods, leaves rustling in the wind, and the warm crackling of the fires set up around the camp. Eyleene sat by one of the fires along with some others; Zavr, her first officer, a nal’i from engineering, and a science officer. A pot of stew was cooking on the fire. The same was the case with all the other fires set up by the survivors. Zavr leaned over to check if it had been cooked properly yet.

Eyleene had already come to be homesick. Truth be told, she always felt homesick while she was away on mission, but this was different. She had no idea if she’d ever get to go home.

“Food’s done,” Zavr announced to those at the fire. He pulled out a soup spoon and handed those at fire each a metal bowl, pouring stew into each one. “Eat up, you’ll need it.”

Eyleene looked over to the wall that was under construction. After the tents and makeshift shelters had been set up, the survivors had begun construction on a wall around their camp. Some scavenger parties had come into contact with hostile feline-like creatures, and the survivors needed a way to keep them out of the camp. The wall was made of trees which had been cut down and metal scraps taken from the ship. Good progress was being made, but it was nowhere near complete. Those from the security team who had survived stood guard, rotating the position of night watchman.

“Hey!” The night watchman called out to his comrades. Eyleene looked over. Other members of the security team grabbed their weapons and walked over. “I think I see something moving out there!”

“It’s probably another one of those feline packs!” Another replied.

“No! It sounds too big to be another cat!”

A loud roar erupted and the watchman jumped down from his post as a massive plant creature smashed through the makeshift wall. The creature let out another monstrous roar as the security team opened fire with their machine guns. The creature picked up the watchman and flung him into the ship.

Eyleene jumped to her feet and pulled up her communicator. “Get your weapons! And get those MAC guns online!”

One by one, the creature ripped through the fleeing security team, smashing them aside or crushing their bodies beneath its massive limbs. Then the beast smashed into some tents and shelters, killing those inside. The beast paused to shield its face as it was lit up with a hail of bullets and laser bolts. The starboard side MAC gun turned to face the beast and unleashed its fury upon the monster. The beast was ripped in half by the cannon. Five members of the security team rushed up to the monster with flamethrowers and spent some time trying to burn the creature to death.

The mangled bodies of at least ten people law sprawled across the opening; limbs and crushed bodies. The sight of it all made some vomit. Eyleene almost saw her stew again.

“Wait,” someone exclaimed, “I hear something!”

“Another one?!” Someone else let out in a fearful voice.

“I don’t think so. It doesn’t sound like it,” Eyleene assured them.
 
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Esplandia

Factbook Addict
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They buried Umhar between two Drasul roots. They didn’t tarry long but Shaizul took a moment to say a few words. Not that he’d actually known the Pendari very well. But he still deserved something said.

“May the Archons bless his spirit,” he finished as the last stones were laid over him.

They picked up their supplies and headed out. The path they were following was clear before them. The Phytodaemon has torn up the ground in its passage. Claw marks had been left in the dirt and on roots, and the underbrush was trampled and torn up.

The damned thing had come out of nowhere and Umhar had been unlucky enough to be in its path. Without slowing it had swept him aside with its claws, killing him instantly.

“Why’re we going after it?” Dressu asked. “We should go back and inform the Guardians.

Shaizul just gave him a disgusted look. “You want to tell them why we were out here?”

Hem added in his own thoughts. “Besides,” he said, “it’s headed right towards that signal you picked up. It’d be damn unneighborly not to lend a hand.”

They heard weapons fire up ahead. It sounded like projectile weapons. There were rumors of antigovernment types living out here that used bolt throwers. Not much use against a Phytodaemon.

If no one was left by time they caught up, well they’d just have to catalogue the poor wretches possessions for them.

But then an even louder sound came through. It was deafening. It was like numerous, repeated massive explosions. The three of them have each other concerned looks and then hefted their plasma rifles.

The explosions and weapons fire had died down by time they approached the scene. It looked like a crash, but instead of a flyer it looked like a massive warship had fallen out of the sky. All around it were survivors, running around in panic. But they weren’t Frondauri.

They were bipedal, but had no horns or tails. And they also had feet instead of hooves. They screamed and hollered in a strange language.

The remains of the Phytodaemon were being burned (that was good) but they had obviously lost their own. A number of the strange people were lying prone in the grass and dirt, killed in the attack.

Shaizul was about to tell his companions to fall back into the woods but before he could they were spotted by sentries. The strange people had their own weapons now trained on the three newcomers.

“Well,” Shaizul said, “Let’s go be neighborly.”
 
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Arc

All ur dead space r belong to me
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“Unknowns in the trees!” one of the remaining security officers exclaimed, pointing over to three silhouettes in the tree line. The seven or eight remaining members of the security team who weren’t busy burning the monster’s remains rushed up to a line with their weapons, ready to engage.

Eyleene could begin to make out their figures. They seemed rather human-like in appearance, barring what looked to be horns on their heads and tails at their lower backs. They appeared to be holding weapons.

“Drop your weapons!” One of the security officers shouted at the figures. They didn’t seem to understand what the officer had said.

“Wait! Hold your fire! Lower your weapons!” Eyleene ordered, the officers looking over to her. Eyleene began to walk towards the figures. Slowly she pulled her sidearm from its holster and then gently set it on the ground. She brought up her hands to show she was unarmed, hoping these figures wouldn’t take that gesture as a sign of aggression.

She reached into a container situated on her belt and pulled out a small device with three ends; one end she put in her ears, another on her head, and the other on her throat. Then she pulled out another small device of identical design and offered it to the figures, motioning for one of them to put it on just as she had done. Hopefully this species was as anatomically similar to humans as she thought. If so then their voice boxes should be in the same place. She pointed to herself and then them before making a talking gesture with her hand, hoping they’d at least understand she wanted to communicate.

The remaining security team, still standing behind her, had their weapons lowered but were still ready to open fire should these figures take the opportunity to kill the captain.
 
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Esplandia

Factbook Addict
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Shaizul blinked in confusion when the alien handed him a device, but after seeing them demonstrate it he lifted it up to his ear. At first he heard nothing as the al;iens tried to speak to him but soon a few understandable words started coming through the earpiece. He realized it was a translator of some sort.

“Put these in your ears,” he said to his two companions, passing the extra devices to them. “They’re trying to communicate with us.”

They complied and soon they were understanding everything the Aliens were saying.
 
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