Tag Archives: Line of Pain

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] Unlikely Rescue #amwriting #storytelling #otherspace

One moment, Robert Colclough is aboard a shuttle that’s
plummeting toward the uncaring sands of Demaria. The next, he’s light years
away, emerging from a swirling blue portal onto the deckplates of a Consortium
Intelligence outpost hidden among the wrecked hulls of the Line of Pain.

He links his HUD to the local computer system and data
archives to confirm the location, then mumbles to himself: “Well, at least
it’s not Nalhom.”

Whiptail stumbles through the portal, a bit confused.
“Where in tarnation are we now?”

The Cliffwalker rises from the deck where he landed, one paw
going to a queasy stomach. He looks around at the walls, and any screens
thereupon. “A Consortium station,” he says, shaking his head to get
his bearings.

“Listening post, to be precise,” Colclough replies
with a tight smile as he looks around their arrival chamber – a rather cramped
place, dimly lit, with no windows in the bulkheads and just one hatch leading
deeper into the station.

A disembodied voice speaks via intercom: “Um, welcome
aboard?”

Colclough offers a feeble wave at the ceiling.
“Hi.”

“Heard you might be coming,” the voice says
wearily.

“Sorry, unannounced and all.”

“Yes,” the voice agrees. “Visit won’t be
long, I’m afraid.”

“Oh?” He looks toward Razorback and Whiptail.
Sheepish smile. Then back at the ceiling: “Not even time to hit the head?
Long trip, after all.”

“Won’t need to worry about your bladder in the vacuum
of space,” the voice replies.

“Ah,” Colclough says.

“Let me get this straight in muh head here… so we
done survived bumbler herdin’ and assassins, managed to escape a buncha
zombified folks, and now we’re gonna get spaced?” Whiptails says, looking
over to Razorback. “I shoulda charged muh standard rate.” he says, a
bit of a toothy grin. “Well, I’ll say one thang, if this is the end of the
road, I cain’t say it was borin’.”

Razorback watches the exchange between Colclough and the
disembodied voice with a growing lack of patience. “We shall see,”
the Cliffwalker says Whiptail with a growl, storming towards the hatch.

The hatch remains shut – and the bulkheads pull apart and
upward around the chamber, exposing the trio inside to the vacuum of space…

…and into a tractor beam that hauls them aboard a waiting
Nall warship, just before it opens fire on the listening post, destroying the
base.

Colclough, Whiptail, and Razorback soon find themselves
gasping for air and shivering to regain heat as they spill onto the damp
deckplates of a misty chamber illuminated by green plasma lanterns.

Whiptail finds himself blown into space, his face thrown
into a rictus of surprise, with just enough consciousness in those valuable
seconds before suffocation to notice the tractor beam. Once they are deposited
into the Nall ship, he collapses to the floor, gasping heavily for breath, his
ears throbbing from the attempt of the pressure inside trying to blow out his
ear drums. As soon as he is able he struggles to one arm, and looks about the
room. He takes a deep sniff of the air, and frowns with a low growl. “It’s
been a spell, but I know the smell of Nall.”

The Cliffwalker seems even more frustrated when he feels the
deckplates beneath him, more so when his lungs first new breath of air is
filled with the scent of Nall. He is too busy trying to oxygenate his
bloodstream to say much, but a certain level of impotent rage seems building
behind his eyes.

“That’s…lucky,” are the first words Colclough
manages to rasp out as he finds his breath again, rolling onto his back on the
deck and staring up at the ceiling.

Whiptail collapses to the floor again, painfully rolling
onto his back. “I dunno what book yer readin’, but gettin’ captured by
those scaley sonuvabitches ain’t what I’d call lucky.”

“Luckier than dying in space,” Razorback growls,
struggling to rise to his footpaws. His ears are laid flat, his tail brushed
out to twice its normal width. He takes measure of their surroundings, knowing
that there are enemies aplenty nearby.

A hatch opens. Into the chamber steps a reptiloid warrior in
black metal armor, cradling a plasma rifle. She’s accompanied by four more
warriors, similarly armed.

“We did not expect you quite sssso sssssoon,” the
lead warrior says as she glowers down at Colclough. “If we had arrived ssssecondssss
later, you would be dead.”

He pulls himself slowly to his feet, brushing droplets of
water from his pant leg. He glances toward Razorback and says, “Perhaps I
*did* know where that portal would lead.” A thin smile, then he returns
his attention to the Nall. He bows his head in deference. “Ur’Huluth Iktha
of Hatch Kavir, allow me to introduce my companions: Whiptail and
Razorback.”

Whiptail narrows his eyes a bit. “Just what in
tarnation is goin’ on here?” he says, quite confused.

The Cliffwalker does his best to keep his claws sheathed for
now, and his paws decidedly away from the short swords at his waist. He glances
over at Whiptail, his ears flicking back and forth a bit. “I am certain
that all will be revealed in due course,” he says, straightening up. He
doesn’t intend to tower over their new “hosts”, but …

“We are even now, you and I,” Ikthakavir replies
to Colclough, before shifting her gaze between the two Demarians. “The
debt issss paid once I have delivered you to…where, exactly?”

The human answers: “Odari, if it wouldn’t be too much
trouble. I have resources there that could provide further assistance.”

“Odari,” the Nall repeats. “Very well. Go no
further than thisss chamber. Thessse guardsss will open fire if provoked.”

With that, she turns to depart the chamber through the
waiting hatchway. Her contingent of warriors remains with Colclough and
friends.

Whiptail looks even more bewildered. “Ok.. so.. we
ain’t dyin’. Yet..” he says, glancing to Razorback. “But this ain’t
no wranglin’ mission now, so what’s the story here, Colclough?”

Razorback nods to Whiptail. Satisfied that he does not need
to enter combat just this second, he moves to the wall opposite the guards and
slides down into a seated position. He keeps a wary ear on the Nall as he looks
expectantly at Colcough. “Indeed, he growls, “I am most interested to
hear just what debt a Nall Captain incurred with you. And why someone on a
Consortium installation would eject you into space.”

Colclough leans against a bulkhead before regarding his
companions and offering a reply. “Ikthakavir was implicated in the
defection of a Nall physicist who worked in the Clawed Fist Fleet weapons
division. I helped extricate her from that particularly dangerous
situation.” A brief silence, then: “As for your other question, I
truly hope to gain some clarity after we arrive on Odari. But if what I suspect
is true, something has gone horribly wrong in my agency.”

Whiptail nods slowly. “I kin see how that thar would
get ya on her good side.” he says, finding a bulkhead of his own to settle
down against. “If this here adventure we’ve bin sucked inta is any sign,
this problem yer talkin’ ’bout is gonna put the hurt on the whole dang
Consortium.”

The Cliffwalker opens his mouth to ask more, then glances
over at the guards and thinks better of it. “For now,” he says,
“It would seem that there is no need to further belabor the point of how
we still live, nor discuss in too much detail our plans for the future. I’m
sure that when we reach our destination, all will become more clear.”

[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] #rp-space: Awakening the Goddess

In transit, on the knife edge of time and space, breaking the light barrier with the Tilsworth-Cooke Drive, the Vanguard carrier Versailles leads a combined fleet of warships searching for the renegade Yaralu known as Kemetti. General Charles Avocet, the fleet commander, peruses images of wreckage from the destroyed cruise liner Avondale. Thousands of people looking forward to a relaxing getaway, snuffed out in moments by the whim of this great beast.

A fighter on patrol finds a trail similar to the one that led the fleet here. It is an FTL trace leading to the Fringe, possibly Ungstir.

“Nest, this is Fledgling Six,” reports the pilot aboard the Stinger fighter that’s running point for the Versailles. “My sensors show a polydenum burst residue trail aimed roughly toward Ungstir.” The general orders the navigator to plot a transit solution. In ten minutes, the drive should be powered up for another jump. Fledgling Six is ordered back to the Nest.

In the outer reaches of Ungstir’s system in far orbit of its sun, Kemetti keeps  his sensors active, looking for any stray vessels that might venture too far from the established shipping lanes.

Once Fledgling Six is back aboard Versailles, the combined battle group makes the jump toward Ungstir. Avocet orders a message broadcast on all subspace frequencies: “Denizens of Ungstir, this is General Charles Avocet of the Stellar Consortium. I have reason to believe the creature that destroyed the cruise liner Avondale may be in your region soon. Take all necessary precautions.”

Kemetti picks up the transmission and immediately begins to move further away from the system, watching as most traffic scatters to safe berths. He begins to consider his options before deciding upon a destination. Moments later, he wheels around and leaps into FTL. Towards the Line of Pain.

Some time later, the combined fleet drops to sublight in the Perseverance star system, where the remnants of Ungstir orbit. Immediately, fighters spill from the Versailles and start their picket routes in search of Kemetti. Nothing immediately shows on sensors. So the patrolling ships start scanning for polydenum bursts.

The patrols eventually come across Kemetti’s trail far away from Perseverance, and it seems to make a beeline for Parallax space.

“That’s interesting,” observes General Avocet as he reviews the latest trajectory projections for the creature. “Very interesting.” He prepares another message for transmission to Nalhom on an encrypted diplomatic channel: “This is General Charles Avocet of the Consortium starship Versailles. We are tracking a violent sentient starship that destroyed a cruise liner near Antimone. Our evidence suggests the creature is now en route to Parallax territory. I trust this may not meet with your approval. If you need our assistance, please advise. We have no intention of crossing the Line of Pain.”

Kemetti comes out of FTL at the Line of Pain and begins to race along it, moving as quickly as possible from his polydenum trail. A week is but a moment in the life of a Yaralu and he seems quite content from his last meal.

The Clawed Fist Fleet responds to the warning from the Consortium, dispatching a dozen warships – including a carrier – toward the Line of Pain.

Just outside Parallax space, on the edge of the border net, Kemetti continues his rapid, though sublight journey along the Line of Pain, heading in the general direction of the Ancient Expanse. He dodges through wrecked ships with surprising agility as he uses the line not unlike a fox might use a river to mask evidence of his passing.

Ur’soth Yok of Hatch Kavir, commander of the Clawed Fist Fleet carrier Slashing Strike, waits impatiently for the report from the sensors station.

The Huth reviewing the data hangs suspended in a chain-and-cushion seat, clawed feet dangling inches above the deck plate. His tail lashes back and forth as he swipes the sensor display to a great magnification, showing the nearest span of wreckage in the Line of Pain.

The faintest blip – a sensor ping from one of the Nalhom intelligence probes, reporting a vessel in motion, matching no known profile. Massive. He transmits the data to the Ur’soth, the weapons officer, and the flight deck.

Yokkavir studies the pulsing signal as it is traced in real-time. “Prepare to intercept and launch fighters,” he hisses. “And notify the Vanguard: we are tracking the creature. They must not violate our territory. We will deal with it.”

Beginning to detect approaching vessels, Kemetti puts his trust in speed to keep ahead of all but the smaller vessels. Moving laterally across the border, he makes certain to keep the interdiction net between himself and the Parallax so as to keep retreat an option.

General Avocet lifts his eyebrows as he reads the communique from the Nall.

His adjutant asks: “Shall we break off pursuit, sir?”

The general shakes his head. “No. We maintain a parallel along the Line of Pain until we’re sure the Nall have engaged the enemy. Until then, we do our best to give that monster nowhere to run.” He studies the map on one of his HUDs. A wave of his hand zooms out. He moves “north” a bit, toward the less-explored territory. “Our prey is going sublight now. Tell the Sivadians to jump ahead to these coordinates.” He indicates a spot that remains outside the Line of Pain but might cut Kemetti off on his path to the Ancient Expanse.

Kemetti picks up on one of the Vanguard sensor nodes ahead of him, and a tendril reaches out and snatches it. With a sudden change in thrust, he converts his forward momentum into rotation and hurls the unmanned device in towards Parallax territory before setting off again.

Rear Admiral Plimpton St. John-Crowell waits with implacable calm as the five ships of his fleet make their transit at FTL to the coordinates ordered by General Avocet.

During the journey, he has time to enter a new log while sitting in his quarters.

“I am grateful for the opportunity thus provided by the Vanguard fleet commander,” the rear admiral states into the mic. “It is my solemn vow to avenge those lost aboard the Avondale. I consider it mandatory, particularly because I accept full responsibility for prompting the massacre when our fleet dropped to sublight near Antimone. The fact that I was acting on orders is no excuse. I must live with their blood on my hands. I can but hope to die well trying to balance the ledger.”

Picking up movement in FTL ahead of him, Kemetti continues on course, as the sensor probe behind him begins to approach the Line of Pain.

The sensor officer aboard the Slashing Strike reports the detection of a sublight object roundabout where the redirected sensor probe is moving. Nowhere near as massive, though. Still, he diligently reports it to Yokkavir. The Ur’soth huffs, flicking a forked tongue as he ponders.

“Debris from the Line of Pain, perhaps,” Yokkavir muses. “Displaced by the beast, possibly. But this entire episode could be a ruse of the Vanguard to find a way to get close to the Line of Pain and skirt our defenses.”

He orders a third of the fleet contingent to intercept the sensor probe. The rest remain on a course matching Kemetti.

Kemetti does not change his course, still awaiting whatever lies in store ahead of him.

What lies in store drops to sublight adjacent to the Line of Pain ahead of Kemetti – five Sivadian Navy vessels, including the carrier Lafayette, which immediately unleashes a dozen fighters while battleships Winston and Manchester lock their main guns on the Yaralu. The two destroyers, Corbin and Blackstone, move into flanking vectors as they prepare to engage Kemetti.

As the FTL signatures approach, Kemetti slows to be out of bombardment range upon their arrival. When they arrive, he cuts sharply to starboard, towards the Blackstone’s course and the interdiction net. No going back now.

Soon after, the Nall fleet drops to sublight on the other side of the interdiction net – with the Blackstone between them and Kemetti. Yokkavir is displeased by this turn of events, but orders fighters and accompanying Nall warships to engage the Yaralu. “If the softskin ship is damaged, so be it,” the Ur’soth growls.

As the Yaralu approaches the Blackstone, a pair of tendrils flash out towards the vessel,   but rather than attempting to ensare it, they seem to be engaged in a striking motion.

The Blackstone tries – unsuccessfully – to dodge the strike. But Kemetti now finds himself in range of the battleship guns, as well as plasma missile launches from the Nall fleet. All weapons in range are firing on the Yaralu, while the Blackstone is sundered in half in a burst of shrapnel and oxygen. As the assault begins, the Vanguard fleet arrives from behind Kemetti. The noose is tightening.

Kemetti seems almost surprised at how easily the Blackstone is destroyed and is forced to change his plan and direction. As he detects the missile launches, he cuts hard to port towards the main Sivadian fleet, drawing the missiles after him as his shields and body keeps the battleships’ fire off of them.

As Kemetti maneuvers, he also faces the onslaught of fighter swarms from three militaries as the Vanguard joins the fight along the Line of Pain.

It is a situation fraught with danger, as Nall ships, Sivadians, and Vanguard find themselves launching salvos at the Yaralu with little concern about the crossfire.  Missiles, rail guns, pulse cannons – the void is suddenly a chaotic miasma of destructive energy and projectiles.

The Yaralu leads those few missiles toward the main Sivadian force, but Kemetti himself is the hub of a wheel of destruction. And while most of those blasts are going to find their target, not just a few are catching allies and cold war enemies alike in the crossfire.

“Damn it,” Avocet mutters as he watches the threat board HUD swarming with bloody fireflies and blossoming spirals. “Even after that beast’s down, the Nall are going to have their blood up.”

Born in the vastness of space, Kemetti is in his element, with no need for cold metal between him and the space around him. His shields begin to fail as he leaves the edge of the interdiction net, however, and it seems that he may be unable to draw the fight into the midst of the Sivadian fleet in time. He has yet one more ploy open to him. With a strain of effort and thrust, he pulls up, taking a course parallel to the galactic axis where none of the fleets have moved. Once there are but a few fighters between him and open space, he engages his FTL propulsion. He might take a deal of damage on the way out, but the fleets below him might find themselves otherwise occupied.

“Oh, no, you don’t,” Rear Admiral Plimpton St. John-Crowell proclaims as he spies Kemetti’s escape maneuver. He stands at his command station and shouts: “Ramming trajectory, ahead full!” He aims to put the nose of the Sivadian carrier through the sentient starship’s belly.

Meanwhile, the Vanguard and Clawed Fist fighters continue to harry the Yaralu, peppering it with blasts – and occasionally slamming into each other.

“Jesus wept,” Avocet says as he sees the Sivadian commander’s maneuver. “Someone took the Avondale really personally.” He then orders all weapons to open fire. “Empty the magazines! Take that monster out!”

Spewing fluids from tears in his hull, the Yaralu has no time to await the arrival of the carrier from the rear line. He takes a fighter or two in the face, but it is better than a carrier in the chest. It isn’t pretty, and it isn’t fun, but the immense creature slips out of the universe, clawing for velocity.

The Sivadian rear admiral watches, powerless, as his wounded quarry slips away. To be fair, most of the bridge crew seem relieved that they haven’t succeeded in killing themselves with a kamikaze maneuver.

St. John-Crowell, on the other hand, looks gaunt and broken. Still, he smooths the front of his uniform jacket, tugs at the lower hem, and then transfers the conn to his second in command before retiring to his office adjacent to the bridge.

He sits in the chair at his desk, pulls a slugthrower from the drawer, puts the barrel to his temple, and pulls the trigger. Blood, brains, and hair splatter the rectangular porthole behind him.

“Break off,” Avocet yells, a command relayed to the fleet. “It’s over! Fledglings, back to the Nest!”

As the Consortium forces tear away from the battleground, leaving wreckage from two empires – and bits and pieces of Kemetti – Yokkavir observes from the bridge of the Slashing Strike. His jaw falls open, hissing in amusement. “The Goddess slumbers no longer,” he whispers. “Send word to the Vox: Consortium forces violated the Line of Pain and engaged our glorious warriors in their attempt to destroy that ridiculous creature. Let’s see how she feels about this violation of our sovereignty.”

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