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The Interstellar Medium
Join Date: May 2008
Unforgiving Theme Song
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Unforgiving IV [IGNITE]
Nanoha woke from Vivio shaking her. “Mom, it’s morning. We have to move.” She rustled herself awake and joined the others in getting rid of any signs they had been in the building, which didn’t take long. Then the group made speed towards Cranagan. The weather reflected itself in them; gray, solemn and quiet. For everything they knew going on around them, everything was unnaturally quiet; no sound of battle, no troop transports, no screams of torment. The sounds from the night before had vanished. The morning was cold, but not so much that it hindered their progress.
They moved along a small road that splintered off into several sections. At one point they had to fly over a ruined bridge and then traverse a tunnel. It was dark and damp inside, but no Absolution forces waited for them in an ambush, despite Nanoha’s insistence. Vivio had laughed at her, but at the same time admitted she might as well have been right. Paranoia rested over them like fog.
When they reached the first block of the city they started to move carefully, making sure to scout their surroundings before taking risky decisions of where to go. Their objective lay in the heart of the city, a fair bit to traverse by foot, but they didn’t want to take to the skies; without reconnaissance they ran the risk of flying right over Absolution anti-air, removing their element of surprise.
An hour passed while they walked and they eventually stopped at an abandoned supermarket. Teana, who had insisted she scout ahead despite her injury, had reported weird noises up ahead, probably from a yard behind an apartment complex. She hadn’t risked getting seen so she had only gone close enough to hear it.
“Alright,” Nanoha said when her report was done. “Yuuno, come with me. We’ll go and investigate. The rest of you, stay here and wait for my orders.”
No one objected, though Vivio tried, shut down by a hard stare from Nanoha. The duo moved into the apartment complex Teana had indicated, made their way to the second floor and found a room facing the yard in question. From outside they could hear a strange voice speaking.
Nanoha pointed down and got on her knees, Yuuno following. Together they crawled towards the window, which for Nanoha was a challenge since her armor obstructed her movements a fair bit; she temporarily dissolved some of it with magic which helped. They could still hear the voice speaking in an alien language. Yuuno couldn’t understand it, though indicated he was recording. The language was oddly human, using letters and words that to Nanoha sounded just like another language back on Earth. As far as she knew, though, droids couldn’t talk. Besides, the voice didn’t sound digital, though it was muffled.
She looked over at Yuuno once they reached the window sill. He nodded. Both of them rose and peered outside.
What they saw had once been a playground, not a yard. Droids were walking here and there, patrolling, garden objects being used as barriers. Weapons had been stashed where the swings were supposed to be. She could see them lying a distance away, metal bent and destroyed. A structure of some sorts had been erected in a corner; a perfect cube with a closed hatch. Black as night.
The droids and the structure weren’t what caught her attention the most, though. A humanoid being stood in the middle of the playground, talking to the droids. At first she thought she was hallucinating, combat and lack of sleep getting to her, but the humanoid seemed real enough. She would have called him human if it wasn’t for the white, sickly skin visible above his armored suit. Like Nanoha’s it was black, but much larger and bulkier. Tubes stuck out from his abdomen and back, slithering around him up to his neck where they entered the suit again. His face, beyond its whiteness, looked old and sick, with bottomless black eyes. A mask of some sorts covered his mouth, which explained his weird voice.
He towered above his prisoner who stood beside him. He was easily over two meters tall compared to the woman. Nanoha, if asked, could give an exact number because she knew – despite the deep wounds on the woman’s head and blood staining her clothes, despite the pale skin with burn marks all over – Fate’s height by heart.
She had to restrain herself not to give away their position as fury boiled the blood in her veins. She clenched Raising Heart until her knuckles grew white. The humanoid that stood there, holding Fate’s neck, became the sole motivator to annihilate the Absolution. He represented everything the Absolution stood for.
For that, he had to die. They all had to die.
Yuuno mumbled something she didn’t hear. She was too unfocused now, a little surprised at herself. She tried to calm down while a squad of droids approached, the humanoid releasing Fate’s neck. He waved to the droids and then backed up, his coughing reminiscent of laughing.
She watched in horror as the droids raised their weapons and prepared to fire. They were an execution squad.
Nanoha didn’t hesitate and unleashed her fury.
Hayate arrived at Iljaren Station an hour after escaping from Mid-Childa, slipping out of the Dimensional Sea into normal space. The general mood of the crew had been mellow, but hopeful. They didn’t seem to resent her for her decision, instead taking comfort in the fact they were still alive. The other Commanders had implied the same, though Tamil remained somewhat hostile towards her. She realized it would take something more to make an ally out of him.
Iljaren Station had expected their arrival and had prepared docking bays for them, cleaning out any other ships that may have been there. The ships in question now orbited the station, remaining on stand-by. The station itself was a thin tower with ten limps sprouting out from it, top to bottom. Each limb had two docking bays of an older design with physical clamps to hold the ships in place. The station had a teleporter, though, along with a multitude of weapons barely visible on its structure.
Hayate hoped they wouldn’t be needed.
“Welcome home… I guess.” She was in contact with the Overseer of Iljaren, who had introduced himself as Chris, and made arrangements for possible R&R for the crew until their ship had been resupplied. The first impression of Chris was that he didn’t give a damn about military honorifics and the like, which would have forced him to attend discipline classes. However, since the TSAB was busy elsewhere, the higher-ups didn’t much care about Overseers. Neither did Hayate.
“I think you’ll enjoy your stay here, Yagami.” She let the use of her surname slide. “We got beds, fresh food and the best entertainment this side of Malovence.”
Malovence was the name of the solar system’s star. Seeing how there wasn’t any other solar systems with stations in the proximity, she found the point moot. “Thanks, Chris. I’m sure they’ll enjoy it, though you have to promise me something.”
“And that is? Wait, let me guess… Sweets! Easy. For you Japanese girls I have this delicious--”
“Don’t lose them,” she said, ignoring him. “Keep an eye on them. Can you do that for me?” She might need them very soon. She didn’t want to have to look for them in case they wandered off.
They should know better, but who am I to tell them otherwise right now…
“Aye, ma’am,” he said, throwing a mock salute. “Still, about those sweets—“
“Good. Contact me again once an hour remains.”
She terminated the connection before he could respond. She rose from her chair once the screen vanished and plopped down on her bed. She had no energy to shower, no energy to take her clothes off. Right there and then she fell asleep.
She slept for about four hours, awoken by an alarm. Her mind slowed down by sleep, she found it very odd that her notification sound was so loud. Red, even, flashing from beyond her closed eyelids. She couldn’t remember having hooked it up to the lights. And the noise! It was absurd how loud it was. She had to tell Mariam to—
She shot up, wide awake, mind alert, and realized what the noise was.
“Mariam!” A window appeared by her side as she left her room, heading towards the bridge. Her hair was a mess, but it didn’t register. “What’s going on?”
“Absolution ship detected,” Mariam said, a hint of annoyance in her voice. The last time Hayate had seen her she’d accompanied another crew member to her room. She guessed Mariam’s plans had been interrupted. “Arrived a few seconds ago, moving in fast.”
“Give me Iljaren Station.” The screen changed, with Chris’s face on it. “Chris, prepare for a fight.”
“Already on it, Yagami. Rallied my guys and your crew should all be on their way.”
“Thanks. Will Iljaren be okay?”
He snorted. “’Course! We have a few surprises once that ship pokes its head close enough.”
‘Ship’. She hadn’t realized it when Mariam said it, but it was singular. She switched the connection over. “Mariam, you said ship. There isn’t a fleet?”
“Does not seem like it, Commander. According to our scans it is alone. No reconnaissance vessel has spotted any more ships, either.”
“Odd. Why would they send one ship… Visuals?”
“In a moment.”
Hayate arrived on the bridge, nodded at Mariam, and sat down in her chair. The large screen ahead of her changed to show the lone Absolution ship still a fair bit outside their weapon range, which meant it wasn’t yet a threat.
“It looks odd,” Hayate said with brows furrowed. At a first glance it appeared to be a normal battlecruiser. On closer inspection it not only had a different color scheme, a bit darker than the others, but was also a little bulkier with more appendages sticking out of its sides. “Any data?”
“None. We have never seen this one before,” Mariam said.
The other warships in her fleet had disengaged from Iljaren Station and were moving away. She double-checked that all of her crew had returned and then did the same. The ship shuddered as the clamps holding it in place were removed and its engine spun up. She joined the other ships as they moved away from the station, in the opposite direction of the lone hostile ship.
“I have a bad feeling about this,” Hayate murmured and told the other ships to remain alert. Those that weren’t part of her fleet remained close to Iljaren station, starting to slowly turn towards the Absolution ship. It wouldn’t last long in a battle against that kind of firepower, not even if it could get within its weapon range. What the hell was it doing? The only reason she didn’t order her own fleet to move towards it was because she didn’t want to risk a trap. They had to make it back to Mid-Childa, no matter what,
“Commander, someone is trying to hail you,” Mariam said, looking perplexed.
“What’s the problem? Patch it through.”
“It’s coming from the enemy ship.”
Hayate turned to stare at her. “Check with the others if they have received the same.”
“They have. I just checked.”
She tapped her fingers on the armrest. “Tell them to patch it through. Let’s see what whoever this is has to say.”
The screen changed from showing the ship to showing a man. Or so she thought. It was a bad representation of a man, since most of his face – the frame only showed his head – was covered in metal, sticking to his skin. His right eye was replaced by a mechanical device she couldn’t make sense of, though it had an orb in the middle. The other eye was pure black and his skin pale.
“Commanders,” he wheezed, a deep voice disfigured by the mask he wore. It scared her. This wasn’t a normal man. “Heretics of the Time Space Administration. It is a pleasure to finally speak to you.”
“Who are you?” She recognized the voice as Tamil. She didn’t interrupt, since she was about to ask the same thing.
“Second Zealot General of the Third Righteous Absolution Fleet, and the Commander of the
, Rashim Jakaar. ”
“Fleet?” Tamil laughed. “You’re alone out here, aren’t you? Where’s your precious fleet?”
“Quick to anger. Strange. I thought the Administration only picked the finest to command their ships of war. You are a disgrace, Commander.”
Hayate stifled a smile while she watched the exchange. Mariam didn’t, though.
“You… Why you—“ Tamil started to say.
“Silence, Heretic. Do you not understand the predicament in front of you?”
“What predicament, Zealot Jakaar?” Hayate asked before Tamil would say something stupid. She wasn’t sure if she had addressed him properly, but he didn’t seem to mind.
“This one I know and prefer to speak to. Yes. Commander Hayate Yagami.”
She paled, gripping the armrest. Something wasn’t right. “How do you know my name?”
“I know many things about you and your precious Administration. Of course I would not tell you even if you asked. Rest assured, you will find out soon enough.”
Annoyed, she clicked her tongue. She wouldn’t let him torture her with empty talk. “Let’s cut to the chase; what is your purpose here?”
“To ask of you to yield to the Brightness of the Absolution.”
“Won’t ever happen.”
Jakaar fell silent. “I must insist. Too much blood has been shed. Think of the lives you could save.”
“And that is exactly why we won’t surrender. We won’t fall for your lies and we won’t forget the souls you’ve stolen from us.” She didn’t really have to think. It was obvious and judging from her crew’s facial expressions and murmurs she was abiding to their wishes.
Silence again. “I misjudged you, Commander Yagami. I am honestly surprised. I thought you had comes to your senses, but…” He shook his head, an unnatural movement for someone like him it seemed. “Then I have to ask of you something else.”
“And that is?”
“That you observe and reflect upon your decision. Farewell, Commander.”
blinked out of existence as Jakaar disconnected.
“Damnit!” Chris appeared on a new window. “We had him locked and everything. The weasel remained just outside of our range.”
“He might have known about it. Smart bastard,” Hayate said. “Mariam, any sign of the ship?”
“None. It disappeared from all of our sensors.”
Chris shook his head. “Not possible. We should be able to detect where they went. Cloaking devices?”
“Well—“ Hayate started to say and was interrupted by a new alarm. “What now?”
“The ship reappeared,” Mariam said. “It’s… My god…”
“It’s between the second fleet and Iljaren.”
“On screen, now!”
On the screen she saw Iljaren Station readying their guns. The second fleet started to turn, weapons hot. In the middle of it all, Jakaar’s ship lay immobile, waiting. He made no moves to attack or defend. A serene shimmer ran across his shield.
“How did he do that?” Hayate said, still amazed. “I’ve never seen an Absolution ship jump that short of a distance.”
Mariam shook her head. “Something is happening with that ship. It does not correspond to any known signatures in our database.”
Hayate looked at the screen. A bright aura had started to pulsate all around the ship, warping the space behind it. Jakaar’s voice could be heard over the comms; “Your leaders has sentenced you to death despite my offerings of salvation. They refused it without a second thought. For that, you must all be punished by the Sun of Empires. Do not blame me, for I am but God’s Messenger.”
Blinding light. Hayate squinted and forced herself to watch through it. Countless beams originated from the
, striking every single ship the second fleet had deployed, piercing their hulls in a fraction of a second. Iljaren Station became engulfed in them as well, cutting it to shreds. Its arms faltered, falling apart, venting atmosphere and bodies. It opened fire in a desperate attempt to stop Jakaar, and failed. Shots went wide, the aura that remained bending them. Ship debris collided with the station, rupturing it further. Malovence became occluded behind the chaos.
Hayate had to look away since her eyes hurt too much. She blinked to recover and when she looked again after a minute all she saw was destruction. The second fleet had been wiped out. All that remained were metallic husks that still glowed. Iljaren Station had broken into two amongst the rubble, both pieces floating away from each other, explosions still going off.
Hayate was speechless. This was a new weapon, another one they would have to analyze. So many lives lost in a single strike, more powerful than any Aeon bomb she’d ever seen. A single word from Jakaar echoed in her head;
“The enemy ship,” Mariam said, taking a deep breath to calm herself, ”is inert and undamaged.”
Hayate felt no emotion as she ordered her fleet to fire.
They fired their beams upon the lone ship, annihilating it within two seconds, a flower of explosive force blooming in space. For a brief moment Jakaar’s voice could be heard. She wasn’t sure if she had imagined it. It had said, “Remember. For the future.”
She didn’t understand him. She tried, but her mind was numb. She held the tears in as the fleet entered the Dimensional Sea, leaving the wreckage of Ijaren and ten warships behind, and set course for Mid-Childa once again.
Unforgiving V next week, and a special treat after it.
Last edited by NorthernFallout; 2013-01-11 at
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