Pariahs and Peacemakers

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Thirty

“That’s the perimeter alarm,” noted AI Construct Vanguard, the AI issued to the HCNF Protector. His dark features and battle armour made him seem less approachable than R051E had been. All those present knew what the alarm meant. Unidentified vessels had breached the outer most defences of the Sol system and were on their way to Earth. “I’m getting unconfirmed reports of Votheen class warships over Engevaal President Wilhelm.” Alexander nodded half pleased that they’d split their fleet and not sent the whole of their power to burn Earth. The assembled representatives had moved to the bridge after the departure of the Pariah. Isaac had pleaded to go with them but Shayara had flatly refused. They didn’t know what they might find and she didn’t want to lead more men than necessary to their possible deaths. No matter how much she insisted however James and Jarner would hear none of it. “How many are we looking at?” pried Cesh as she scratched her head at the Human readouts.

“One capital, four cruisers and a handful of frigate class vessels,” the AI informed

“It may not sound like much but we will still struggle,” the Admiral admitted and Cesh just so happened to agree.

“Divert all drive core power to the forward shields and overcharge all rail guns,” Cesh ordered much to the surprise of all the crew. The Admiral seemed in a dark mood having already being snubbed and now an alien attempted to call the shots on his own ship.

“What makes you qualified to give that order on my ship?”

“I know how not to fight them, need I remind you I’ve already lost a ship and crew to these monsters?” Despite their differences the Admiral was not a stupid man, he was willing to listen to someone with insight on the enemy and her honesty gained her some degree of respect in his eyes.

“Listen to the lady,” he ordered only half begrudgingly.

Minutes past by as the entire flagship burst into life, personnel rushed to their designated battle stations. Reinforcements flanked The Protector which sat majestically at the centre of the fleet. They had the Votheen vastly outnumbered but the alien tenacity and technology likely had them outgunned and outclassed. The Human fleet split into two under the suggestion of the present Sarcurian Luminary. One moved toward the south pole of Mars while the other attacked the north in an attempt to catch the Votheen on the back foot. As The Protector crested the northern hemisphere of the red planet the Admiral gave a wry smile as he watched the southern host take the undivided attention of the Votheen fleet. Going on the attack had their formation in disarray just trying to combat the first assault. The northern fleet hammered the Votheen from above as kinetic rail gun shells pounded the rippling shields of the capital ship. The Votheen attempted to disperse east and west but there was nowhere to hide in the three dimensional theatre of war when every angle was a possible attack vector. The capital ship, a gigantic tadpole easily two and a half times the size of The Protector, belched forth a cloud of fighters angrily that moved like a swarm of locusts. They darted amongst the fleet too small and nimble to be pinned down and eventually reached the Human flagship. The furious swarm were more of a nuisance than danger but AI Vanguard looked concerned as he dabbed his brow with the back of his hand. “Detecting multiple hull breaches, Admiral.” He didn’t see how that could be possible yet, their shields were fine and they hadn’t suffered a direct hit yet. The AI brought up a 3D image of the alien fighters that appeared to have a large capsule under the body that released and drilled into target ships at close proximity. “Bioweapons?” worried Victor.

“Fortunately no. I detect multiple alien life forms on board The Protector. I assume the capsules are a clever way to take a ship intact. A sort of boarding device.”

“Over my dead body!” Victor Edwards defied as he snatched a shotgun from the nearest gun rack and loaded it with as many shells as it would hold. He moved toward the Captain’s chair and grabbed the microphone for the PA system. “Code Black, Votheen borders have breached our defences. Marine units repel at all costs, they will not take this ship. This is not a drill,” he boomed before turning to Cesh Zhurl. “I’ll put my doubts about you aside as I need your talents now more than ever. I want you to command Bravo Echo and hold this level.” She nodded shaking off the slightly racist undertones of his request. He recognised she was his best warrior and he’d have been a fool not to utilise that just to save face. She had initially felt guilty for not going with Shayara Ventii. Cesh had experience dealing with unidentified alien races but something in her gut had told her to stay and when she had that feeling she tended to listen to it. She moved through the bridge to the hall beyond and met a large group of shaved head types who greeted her with mild suspicion. They had made a ramshackle blockade using all manner of furniture and had set up a chain gun which covered the entire hallway. “Can we help you, miss?” mouthed a common-jawed, pockmarked soldier who was stacking a very unstable tower of crates atop of each other. Cesh tried not to study his face but if she had to guess she would say the damage was either from plasma splash back or horrendous acne so no wonder he had a frosty disposition. “I’m here to lend a hand,” worded Cesh diplomatically and was relieved as one member of the team, likely the commander, outstretched his gloved hand.

“It’s good to have a Sarcurian on side and one with your skill set at that.” The pleasantries didn’t last long as the rattle of gunfire sounded a few decks below.



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