Author Topic: Sunrider: The Novelization (Family)  (Read 31915 times)

Offline woolyshambler

Re: Sunrider: The Novelization (The Mask of Arcadius)
« Reply #165 on: August 29, 2015, 01:26:28 pm »
*Blushes*

Thanks everyone!

I've got nothing to do with the writing of Liberation Day (unfortunately for BDSM Ava...).
[May 13, 2016, 02:26:28 pm]:   Elvis Strunk will do his best to shoot Eli with a full load.
Elvis Strunk [May 13, 2016, 02:26:45 pm]:   of bullets
Elvis Strunk [May 15, 2016, 03:31:49 pm]:   Knat's the best part of the harem, and the shortest lasting.
Jynx [May 15, 2016, 03:33:36 pm]:   Stop foreshadowing Knat's death
woolyshambler [May 15, 2016, 03:34:13 pm]:   foreshadowing death!? elvis wasn't foreshadowing knat's premature ejaculation problem?

Offline Gamerjunkie

Re: Sunrider: The Novelization (The Mask of Arcadius)
« Reply #166 on: August 29, 2015, 10:11:38 pm »
You must push for the cause of being Kryska's bride. :P
rellimkram [Apr 03, 2016, 06:06:12 pm]:   Hyperspace Yuri Delivery: Service so fast we ship it before it's ever ordered
rellimkram [May 05, 2016, 03:42:02 pm]: I'm not sure if you're wanting Lola to tamper with school projectors to show porn during class, or if you want Lola to actually make porn during class
Elvis Strunk [Apr 03, 2017, 04:31:33 pm]: "You're under arrest... but we're not confiscating any of your stuff, guarding you in any fashion, or trying to actually prevent you from leaving." Elvis Strunk [Apr 03, 2017, 04:31:44 pm]: "We're good at copping."

Offline CommissarZek

Re: Sunrider: The Novelization (The Mask of Arcadius)
« Reply #167 on: August 29, 2015, 05:58:51 pm »
A great ending to a great story.  This is gonna be a nice long wait for the next chapter.  Don't get too caught up in the game to write, mate :P

Offline Endershadow

Re: Sunrider: The Novelization (The Mask of Arcadius)
« Reply #168 on: August 30, 2015, 09:11:14 pm »
Congrats on being hired! I look forward to seeing more of your work.

Please be careful not to fall into any holes in reality caused by my reality hole generator. If you do fall in though, I can assure you that there will be no adverse side effects except for the following: instantaneous mutation, loss of 1 or more vital organs, turning into banana pudding, amnesia, loss/growth of 1 or more limbs, additional vital organs, loss of DNA, insanity, hallucinations, destruction of the fabric of space and time, redundancy, redundancy, a craving for apples, the ability to see shinigami, for females: an erection lasting more than 4 hours, for males: extremely painful menstrual cramps, testicular inversion, gender swapping, the urge to watch my little pony, and/or death

Offline woolyshambler

Re: Sunrider: The Novelization (Awakening)
« Reply #169 on: January 14, 2017, 08:27:41 pm »
Chapter 28: Awakening

Spoiler
“You do not own PACT.”

Fontana’s words echoed as the sound of his pistol’s discharge rang in Kayto’s ears, an unreal sense of numbness rippling through him as he stared at the Paradox Core’s final, static-filled transmission, eyes unfocused.  Unbidden, the Prototype’s face swam up in his mind’s eye, the final look of shock and pain as life slipped from its open eyes, haughty smugness and arrogance replaced with something softer in its final moment.

Outside the Sunrider, what remained of Kayto’s shattered fleet hung uncertainly before the Paradox Core, an uneasy respite in the heat of battle as both the Alliance and PACT struggled to make sense of the Paradox Core’s last transmission.  Although explosions continued to dot the sky as missiles flew past one another and lasers knifed out between the enmeshed Alliance and PACT fleets, the fever pitch of the battle seemed to diminish as the Alliance’s reserve fleets slowed their advance towards the devastation of the front line.   For their part, the PACT ships seemed hesitant to press the advantage, staunchly holding in their defensive positions in sullen radio silence, undoubtedly masking the tremendous confusion and doubt rippling through the fleet’s chain of command.

“Sunrider!” Asaga’s voice cut through the stunned silence of the CIC, no effort made to conceal her surprise.  “This is Black Jack, did you just hear that?  That red bastard just turned on Arcadius!  The PACT's starting to turn tail!”

“PACT Ryders are regrouping into a defensive cordon, Captain,” confirmed Ava, her voice laced with caution, as though scarcely willing to believe the bloodbath might be over.  “Picking up a spike in encrypted PACT comm traffic; their High Command is probably in complete disarray.  Incoming orders from Alliance Command; the Combined Fleet is to stand down from the advance and make preparations for emergency search and rescue!”

“No more PACT units in our AO, Capt'n... the only active signature is...”

On screen, the Black Jack's engines pulsed, kicking it closer to the last Arcadius Ryder Asaga had engaged.  The Ryder's armor bore deep gouge marks where Black Jack's pulse lasers had melted through, revealing slagged components and burned circuitry; it's armatures had been cleaved clean off and its engines were scored deeply from Black Jack's anti-Ryder blades, as cold and lifeless as the space around them.

“Still reading one life sign from this Arcadius unit,” Asaga's voice sounded surprised; given the extent of the damage to the Ryder and the half a dozen hull breaches it was slowly venting atmosphere from, her assessment was a temporary one at best.  “It's thready... but the pilot's definitely alive.  What should we do with Capt'n?”

“Captain,” Ava turned to Kayto, swallowing her confusion and almost succeeding imposing some order on the uncertainty of the situation.  “The Prototypes.  Arcadius.  This changes everything we've understood about the PACT and the entire war itself.  We need to take that Prototype alive.  The intelligence we extract from it could-”

“It... looked like her,” Kayto muttered through clenched teeth, wide eyes riveted on the devastated Ryder drifting dead in space.  “Take it-” Kayto swallowed against the painful dryness of his throat.  “I want her taken alive.”

“Sir.” Ava’s tone suggested she had more to say, but she merely gave him one more glance before turning to her command console, tapping in orders as she opened a channel to the Sunrider's Ryder wing.  “Liberty, stabilize that wreck with your drones and prepare to tow the disabled Arcadius unit back to our hangar; the rest of you-”

“T-that's... impossible...!”

Chigara's quiet voice teetered on the edge of hysteria, quivering slightly as she grasped at the torn fabric of her reality, sounding as though she were half asleep, trying desperately to rouse herself from the nightmare.  Despite the wailing of alarms and the roar of voices as the bridge crew worked feverishly to stay in control of the Sunrider's failing systems and struggling damage control, the confusion, pain, and suffering in her voice reached across the divide and pulled Kayto from his shocked stupor, anchoring him to his command and delivering a stinging blow to bring him back to his senses.  Whatever else was happening, whatever their universe was twisting apart to reveal, his crew needed him.  She needed him.

Springing into action, Kayto keyed the Liberty's private comm channel, cutting Chigara's transmission off from the rest of the Ryder wing and crew.  A small window opened on his command console, revealing Chigara's face, devoid of color and staring with a haunted expression at Liberty's forward screens as she clutched her head, her eyes darting wildly, begging for some thread of reality to cling to.

“Something like that...! I'm the only one who survived! Everyone else...!”  Chigara's whisper edged close to the brink of total breakdown.

Opening and closing his mouth, Kayto groped for the words that would reach back across the distance, that would shield her from the universe and remind her that she was not alone.  Mentally kicking himself, Kayto dug desperately for the confidence and comfort which had always come so easily to come forward now and give Chigara the words she needed to hear.

“Haah.... haaah...” another voice cut in on Liberty's private channel, pent up fury and pain straining it to the point of breathlessness.  “We are all the children of Diode.”

With almost deliberate slowness, a static filled image resolved on Kayto's command screen beside Chigara's video, revealing one of the Prototypes, a hand clutching the gap between the charcoal and red plates of her Ryder armor as a dark stain seeped across the fabric beneath the plates and between her fingers.  Looking up, she glared at the camera and gritted her teeth against the pain, blood weeping from one temple and matting her light, mauve hair as it dripped down her chin.  All around her, holographic readouts pulsed a deadly shade of crimson, warning of catastrophic damage to every sub-system in her Ryder and the rapidly dwindling life support the remnants of her Ryder were capable of.

“We're one and the same, you and I,” the Prototype continued, taunting even as she struggled for breath as her injuries took their toll and the atmosphere left in her Ryder began to thin.  “Sisters.”

“NO!” Chigara screamed as dark, mirthless laughter filled the channel, anguish mirrored on both sides of the conversation.  “EEAAAHHH!”

“Captain.” Ava's voice snapped from his left.  “Liberty's not responding to my commands-,” her eyes narrowed suspiciously as her glare settled on his communications suite.  “Captain, what's-?”

“Belay that previous order,” Kayto cut Chigara's channel before Ava could switch into it.  “Bianca, tow that Arcadius unit back to the Sunrider, I want that thing in our hangar five minutes ago.”

“C-copy!” Claude confirmed, sounding off-footed and surprised.  Nevertheless, Bianca's engines fired, bringing the pink Ryder into a tight arc as it launched tethers to the disabled Arcadius Ryder and began dragging the wreck towards the Sunrider's stern hangar doors.

“Captain!” Ava's furious glare pinned Kayto, unaccustomed to being left out of the loop and all the more suspicious for it.  “What in the name of-” A proximity klaxon shrilled out, cutting Ava off yet again.  “Alert!” Ava's focus shifted instantly, her training kicking in and shelving her complaints as she consulted her tactical feed grimly.  “New hostiles inbound on our AO.  Pirate forces on high burn direct intercept!”

“Aren't you forgetting about someone!?”

On the main screen, a dozen new signatures resolved, seeming to pour out of the distant fog at the edge of sensor contact, the recognizable silhouette of the Havok surrounded by a brace of pirate Ryders and a small escort of converted civilian and black market ships, the final remnants of the pirate fleet amassed at Ongess, probably crewed by their most fanatic zealots.

“Cosette!” Kayto felt his heart race again and sweat break out over his body, exhaustion threatening to overwhelm him as Cosette's tiny fleet moved to intercept the Sunrider and Alliance vessels beside them.  Stiffening, he pushed aside all other thoughts and forced himself to focus on keeping his people alive in the face of the latest complication.  While his fleet was desperately low on munitions and barely had enough hull integrity to stay afloat, Cosette's ships and Ryders had apparently ducked out of the thick of battle, lurking until their moment of opportunity.  As much as he was loath to admit it, the pirate ships had a very real chance of finishing the job the PACT had started and sinking what was left of his fleet and the Sunrider.  “All available units; regroup and prepare for defensive action!  The fleet’s counting on you!”

“Roger that!” Asaga shouted, Black Jack bursting across the Sunrider's main screen in a flash of blue light.  “Ryders, form up on my six!”

“You again!” Cosette's voice was a hiss of furious delight as she spied Black Jack, her Ryder pulling to the head of her own formation as it charged towards Black Jack and the Sunrider's Ryder wing. “HAHAHA! This is where it all ends! Your fleet and your Captain are going to pay for what they did on Ongess!”

“You're too late!” Asaga shot back.  “The PACT's pulling out, we've captured or killed every Arcadius left.  There's nothing you can do anymore!”

“I can still take you out! EAAAHHH!” Cosette shrieked, eyes wild and hair in her face as she pounded commands into her Ryder.  “No retreat!  Men, hold your ground! If Fontana doesn’t have the gall to stand here, then we’ll just kill them all ourselves!”

Kayto cut in on the transmission, weariness and pity coloring his voice as he tried to make one last appeal.  “Cosette, listen-”

“WE’LL NEVER SURRENDER TO YOU!  You’ll just have to kill every last one of us-”

“But your deaths would be meaningless!” Kayto protested, his fist curling over his arm rest.  “Haven’t enough men and women died today!?”

“Better to die in a blaze than alone in a ditch somewhere… hungry… sick… used…” Cosette’s face twisted into the tortured grimace of an animal in pain as she sneered at Kayto’s appeal.  “This will be the final charge of Cosette Cosmos, the terror of the stars!  History may paint us as villains, but know that we stood here in defense of our home world!  So that our children would not bear the horrors we did!  So that no one else but us will have to dirty their hands!  All ships forward! Ryders, on me!  Onwards to hell!”

“Incoming! Multiple missile launches detected from pirate Ryders!” Ava’s fingers flew furiously across her holographic keyboard as a klaxon wailed through the CIC.  “Radiation spike! Detecting two nuclear signals from pirate cruisers! They’re launching nukes!”

“Have the fleet come about! Minimize our forward profiles!” Kayto grimly studied the readouts of his ship’s operational status.  After the beating the Sunrider had taken from Arcadius’s Ryders, nearly every section and sub-system of his ship was strained to critical failure, if it hadn’t gone offline already.  With hull integrity as such, the nuclear missiles launched wouldn’t even need to hit the Sunrider to blow her to pieces.  “Task our remaining flak network to intercepting the conventional ship-to-ship missiles!  Give me a sitrep on our weapons!”

“Aye Captain, gunnery reports seventy percent flak network integrity,” Ava consulted the incoming reports with a long face.  “Hell Dart tubes A through C offline, D through J nominal, re-arming in progress!  Savior mag coil alignments are shot; I rate our accuracy at no more than twenty five percent of nominal performance.  Starboard Trinities are offline; unable to re-route controls.  Port Trinities intact.”

“Have Armory get our remaining Hell Darts hot on the double!” Kayto tapped new commands into his console.  “Get me firing solutions on every ship within range; prepare for simultaneous missile launch.  Black Jack,” Kayto highlighted the two nuclear missiles on the Ryder tac net as priority targets.  “If one of those nukes even sneezes at the fleet, we’re done.  I need them out of the sky; now.”

“Roger that, Capt’n!” Asaga’s voice grated with strain as Black Jack pushed forward, engines on full burn.  “I’ve got the one at two o’clock.  Phoenix, you’ve got the one at ten.  Seraphim, Paladin; keep those pirate Ryders off us!”

“It just never ends does it?” Icari asked wryly, grimacing as she pulled Phoenix into a tight arc towards her assigned target, bracing hard against the acceleration.  “My autocannons are empty… I guess there’s no choice; you owe me a drink for this one Captain!”

With a flash, Phoenix’s engines flared a brilliant blue as the Ryder cut across the cloud of missiles streaking towards Kayto’s fleet.  Exhaust ports glowing cherry red as the superheated reaction mass cut a burning thermal trail across the storm of missiles, Phoenix blinded the missiles’ relatively simple targeting sensors and compelled their tracking systems to lock onto its brilliant wake.

“Redlining reactor!” A bead of sweat rolled down Icari’s temple as she mashed forward on her control yokes, leading the missiles off course.  “Warranty’s going to be bust after this one…”

“Phoenix, adjust your pitch by minus half a degree,” Kayto linked his tactical suite to Phoenix’s flight computers, cottoning onto Icari’s plan.  “Don’t spare the horses if you don’t want to glow in the dark after this.”

“Har. Har.” Icari’s face turned a shade paler, although whether that was from the acceleration forcing her blood downwards or the prospect of weathering a nuclear blast through Phoenix’s almost non-existent shielding and armor was unclear.  “ANGEL armed!  Crossing the nuke’s projected flight path; Launching!”

Phoenix’s stabilizers spread slightly as recessed plates slid back, its silhouette against the brilliant halo of its engines shifting and elongating as the Phoenix unfurled its wings properly.  Becoming almost painful to look at, the wings seemed to glow as dozens of flares ignited with a pure, magnesium burn, dropping behind Phoenix and fanning out behind the Ryder’s luminous wake.  The next instant, the flares seemed to multiply tenfold as a similar number chaff canisters detonated, their mirror-like contents scattering the light and heat of the flares in wild, scintillating patterns.

Streaking through the lightshow, the pirate missiles plowed through the hail of heat and light for a second before their targeting computers completely scrambled, detonating their payloads blindly through the storm, wreathing the entire volume of space with fire and shrapnel.

“Lock our sensors on Phoenix!” Kayto demanded, struggling to make out Icari’s Ryder through the interference.  “Don’t-”

A hard gem-like brilliance erupted from within the inferno, sweeping outwards and drowning out the sensors across the entire spectrum, a wall of EM radiating outwards, scattering rainbow lights across the Sunrider’s shields as they crackled and rippled in resonance.

“Nuclear detonation!” Ava tapped furiously on her console.  “The fleet’s unharmed!”

“Phoenix?!” Kayto practically shouted as he stabbed at the comms channel.  “Scan for active IFF’s in the detonation sphere!”

“HAHAHA!” Icari’s elated whoop cut through the static.  “SPEED!”

As the interference from the nuclear detonation waned, the Sunrider’s sensors snapped back onto Phoenix, very much in the clear and banking gracefully as it carried its incredible momentum back towards the pirate forces converging on the Sunrider.

“Always wanted to drag with a nuke,” quipped Icari, laughter ringing as she let go of the tension of the last few heartbeats.  “What’s the matter, Captain? Lose your cool there for a minute?”

“Still one active nuclear signature, time to intercept one hundred fifty seconds!” Ava warned him before he could get in with a retort.  “Pirate missile salvos are entering our defense fields; flak network tasked to maximum!”

“Black Jack, what’s your situation?” Kayto’s hands gripped his arm rests, knuckles white.  “That nuke’s still coming straight at us…”

“There’s enough fire out here to walk on Capt’n!” complained Asaga, her expression strained as Black Jack’s frame shook as it shrugged its way through missile shrapnel.  “Woah!” 
Tumbling to the side, Black Jack rolled as it avoided several bright beams of laser light that cut in front of its flight path, forcing Asaga to divert from the nuclear missile’s trajectory. 

“Pirate Ryders incoming!” announced Ava tersely.  “They’re trying to cut a path for the missile!”

“No kiddin’!” Asaga’s grinding teeth were practically audible from the CIC as Black Jack continued to dodge the incoming fire, trying to break past and draw a bead on the incoming nuclear missile once more. 

“Stand by for assistance.”

“Seraphim’s reactor output is climbing!” Ava shouted, projections of Sola’s Ryder flashing all manner of warning signs as her Awakening took hold.  “All limits exceeded!”

In an instant, no fewer than five lances of pure white light cut a blinding path across the main screens towards the pirates, spearing their Ryders in such rapid succession that Kayto could barely blink before four of the pirate Ryders were annihilated.  The fifth shot clipped one of the pirate Ryder’s engine boosters, looking like a near miss for an instant before the booster blew apart, sending the parent Ryder into a dizzying tumble before it slammed into Havok in flaming embrace. 

Before the pirates could so much as reel in shock, Paladin threw itself headfirst through the explosions towards the remaining pirate Ryders as their formation shattered.  Without slowing, Paladin slammed into one of the remaining pirate Ryders full on with its shield, crumpling the illegally restored frame like so much tin foil as it blasted past the stricken Havok, showering the damaged Ryder with autocannon fire.

“Black Jack! Take the shot!” yelled Kryska.

“I got it, I got it!” screamed Asaga, mashing down on her firing controls. 

Shoulder lasers firing as fast as they would cycle, streaks of blue laser light knifed out into the distance as the entire CIC crew held its collective breath.  Two uncomfortable heartbeats later, a distant flash signified Black Jack’s success.

“Nuclear detonation detected,” confirmed Ava, no small relief in her voice.  “No additional nuclear signals on sensors.”  Amid the sea of yellow and red on the Sunrider’s status screens, several green signals flared to life.  “Captain, Armory reporting ready; Hell Darts re-armed!  Firing solutions locked, removing safeties.”

“Let them have it Commander,” Kayto nodded grimly at the remaining pirate ships in the distance.  “Give them a taste of their own medicine.”

Outside the Sunrider, pod after pod of Hell Dart missiles launched, flash frozen clouds of propellant wreathing the ship in a cloud of fog as nearly a hundred of them streaked away towards the pirate fleet in the distance.  Unlike the true warships in Kayto’s fleet, the pirate fleet ships were ill equipped to survive against the wall of missile fire they found themselves facing.  With almost deliberate slowness, the Sunrider’s Hell Darts began to impact on the pirate ships’ green hulls.

“Intercept rate less than thirty percent; salvo making contact now,” Ava’s voice was pitiless as she poured over the tactical feeds coming into her console.  On screen, the pirate ships began to break apart as dozens of missiles hit home, burning through layers of armor and blasting the scavenged ships apart deck by deck.  “Multiple good hits; all targets in our AO sunk or removed from play; I’m detecting a significant reduction in incoming fire.”

“A-arggghhhh!!!!” Cosette’s scream echoed over the comms as she fought with her controls, her cockpit a bloody red as Havok reeled from the impact of its subordinate Ryder, tumbling blindly, wreathed in flame.  Whether the scream was for the devastation wrought upon her fleet, Ryder, or both was entirely unclear.  “Everyone left… form up."  Cosette's voice was breathless with fury.  "Time for one more pass!”

“It’s over Cosette!” Asaga blurted over the comms, pivoting Black Jack and squaring off against Havok as it stabilized, sloughing off burned and damaged armor and ejecting the spent missile launchers attached to its shoulders.  Behind it, Cosette’s two remaining wingmates slotted themselves onto escort positions on her flanks.  “Surrender so we don’t have to kill you all!”

“Hahaha…” Cosette’s quiet laugh heaved with morbid amusement.  “Like I said… No Surrender!  Havok is far from finished!  This fight’s not over yet!”

Engines brightening with pent up fury, Havok lunged forward towards Black Jack with surprising speed for a Ryder of its tonnage, seemingly freed of its heavy armor cladding and all the more agile for it.  Without hesitation, Havok leveled its rotary machine cannon at Black Jack like a charging knight’s lance, the massive gun rotating and picking up speed for a moment before cutting loose, spent brass blossoming into vacuum and leaving a trail behind Havok as it barreled forward with its two escort Ryders in close pursuit, lasers firing.

“Eaaahhhh!” Black Jack staggered as Havok’s high explosive rounds detonated around it and on the Ryder’s reactive armor plates.  Gritting her teeth, Asaga slammed her controls forward, gunning Black Jack towards Havok’s formation.  “Don’t… mess… with me!”  Asaga shouted, her Ryder shaking like a thing possessed as it plowed forward against the hail of gunfire, bullets ricocheting off its armor and the flat of its blade, drawn and held at the ready. 

“Foolish Villain.”

Asaga’s voice deepened, filled with burning wrath and potency as her face hardened, tightening into a harsh mask of righteous fury. 

“Captain!” Ava struggled to make sense of the telemetry from Black Jack’s sensor suite.  “Asaga’s Awakening again!  Black Jack’s reactor output is off the charts!”

Black Jack’s exhaust thrust seemed to intensify by an order of magnitude as it suddenly veered off it’s head-on approach to Havok, dodging the incoming laser fire as it rocketed away at an impossible angle, ignoring the laws of physics and inertia. 

“W-what!?” Cosette struggled to bring her gun back to bear, but Black Jack’s maneuvers were too much for her heavy Ryder to keep up with. 

“You cannot soothe your conscience with excuses.”

Without warning, Black Jack’s trajectory changed at a whim once again, this time angling the Ryder straight for one of Cosette’s wingmen.  Before the pirate could even react or begin to change course, Black Jack cut down from above, its anti-Ryder blade slicing through the entirety of the Ryder as though it were made of wax, leaving the explosion of fire and metal in its wake.

“T-tsch!” Cosette gritted her teeth, swinging her Ryder in a wild arc and firing at Black Jack in a desperate gesture as the impossibly nimble Ryder jetted to the other side of her formation.  “What would a Ryuvian Princess know about poverty!?  What would she know of desperation!?”

“Irrelevant.”

Pulse lasers strobbed as Black Jack seemed to reappear behind Cosette’s remaining wingmate, burning through the Ryder in an instant and melting it into a twisted effigy of what it was before slapping aside its remnants mercilessly with the flat of its anti-Ryder blade and blasting off into the distance. 

“Your hands are soaked with blood.  Your mind is as malignant and twisted as your deformed body.  Your words are empty and hollow.  No mitigation.  No justification.  No claims to the greater good.  Justice shall be done to all.  I am your judge and arbitrator; my sword, your fate.”

Black Jack swiveled, thrusters burning like twin suns as it arrested its incredible velocity in an instant and flew straight for Havok as though in joust, lasers glowing with a cruel, harsh light.

“Just what- AARRRGGGHHH!”

Havok recoiled horribly as Black Jack’s lasers burned past it, one beam slamming into its shoulder and deforming the armature below as it sawed downwards, military grade armor flashing and boiling away like paper to a flame. 

“Cosette... Yield!” Kayto shouted as Black Jack streaked towards Havok, anti-Ryder blade gleaming at the ready.  “Surrender to us and I’ll listen to what you have to say.  You’re not the only one fighting for the Neutral Rim!”

“Y-you…” Cosette’s voice cracked at the edges, fear breaking through beneath the agony, Black Jack’s approach reflected in her wide eyes.

“Asaga, STOP!”

“E-eh!?” Asaga gasped, wrenching her controls at the last moment as Black Jack’s blade flashed forward, dropping her Ryder’s course and causing her Ryder’s blade to miss Havok’s torso and reactor by a hair-raising margin as it sliced across the Ryder’s midsection, cleanly cleaving the Ryder in two. 

“ARRGH!” Cosette screamed again, barely audible over the wailing alarms on her end of the transmission as Havok’s stabilization thrusters on its “legs” flickered with uneven thrust, detonating and rocking the stricken remnants of her Ryder.

“O-oh!  W-what am I doin’?” Asaga shook her head, trying to clear it, sounding utterly confused as though waking from dream.  “E-ehh!?!?  W-what the hell happened to Havok!?  It’s completely wrecked!”

“She doesn’t remember?” Ava asked under her breath as she furrowed her brow.  “Asaga’s powers helped us out of a tight spot with Arcadius, but if she can’t control them…”

“Another problem, another time,” Kayto felt a lifetime’s worth of strain and tension begin to leave his body as a migraine began to settle in its place.  On the tactical screen, the the space around the Sunrider and her fleet pulsed clear, all hostile contacts sunk or neutralized.  “Everyone, stand down, all Ryders, return to the Sunrider.  Black Jack, tow what’s left of Havok.  Alert Security; let them know we have a second prisoner en route to the hangar.”

Pressing a hand to his temple, he slumped in his captain’s chair.  With the Paradox Core secured and the PACT fleet preparing for retreat, the Battle of Helion was essentially over, and yet, as he stared out at the hundreds of wrecked hulls and sunken ships scattered across the battlefield, he felt utterly drained, as far from victorious as he could imagine. 

***

Fontana surveyed PACT fleet from the observation deck of the Vae Victus, hands deep in the pockets of his greatcoat.  Almost immediately after assuming command of the PACT fleet, his orders to begin preparations for an organized withdrawal from the system had been heeded, willingly or not, the fleet beginning the processes of recovering their Ryders and lifepods.  Although most of the fleet’s captains had accepted his authorization codes and command, a significant fraction of the fleet had maintained a sullen radio silence since his initial broadcast revealing his or the prototypes’ treachery, depending on how one chose to align themselves.  Fortunately, the late prototype’s plan to sacrifice the entire fleet to detonate the Paradox Core had done little to refute his claim that both Arcadius and the ideals he had once stood for had been corrupted, a significance not lost upon the captains who had pledged loyalty to his command. 

Closing his eyes and exhaling explosively, Fontana’s hand clenched into a fist around his pocket watch.  How many PACT men and women had given their lives for that monstrosity’s hubris?  How many worlds had wept blood and sweat in toil to the perversion of their own ideals?  If only he had the courage and wisdom to act sooner… But the mantel Arcadius had left to the Revolution would now be his to carry; he had failed that charge until now, but no longer.

Drawing the pocket watch forward, he clicked it open on reflex, studying the face of the antique device for a moment before turning his attention to the scene before him once again, his fleet’s warp drives beginning to spool as they prepared for warp.  Although technically withdrawing from the battle, the PACT fleet had arguably dealt two blows for every one taken against the Alliance.  Majority of the wrecked ships between the two fleets bore the emerald colors of the Alliance beneath shattered metal and burned armor.  To their credit however, the Alliance men and women had a conviction and courage he’d never known from the Imperials during the Revolution.

“Vennasar.”  A bridge officer saluted crisply as he stepped onto the observation deck.  “Our ships have performed an orderly retreat; we’re prepared to warp on your command.”

“Thank you,” Fontana frowned, keeping his eyes fixed on the crimson fleet surrounding him.  “Order the fleet to withdraw to rally point Omicron.”

“And the Paradox Core, Sir?”

Fontana scowled at the structure in the distance as it hung above Helions fiery surface.  Undoubtedly, even as they spoke, the Alliance fleet was advancing on the weapon, eager to lay claim to the prize they had paid thrice over for in blood.  The sacrifice of good men and women for the ambitions of those above them never ended, but in this regard, the PACT had been equally blinded.

“Even in its disarmed state, I would be loath to allow the Alliance Imperialists to seize control of the Core.  No doubt they would seek to create Cores of their own if the means was made available to them.  Have your men made the preparations?” asked Fontana, sparing a sideways glance towards his subordinate.

“Yes sir!  My men have rigged explosives throughout the Core to detonate on your command.  All ships have now retreated safely away from the perimeter.”

“Good.”  Fontana clicked his pocket watch shut with an air of finality.  “Send the signal.  The PACTs future was never wrested from the past; it was won in the present.  The galaxy has no need for a weapon that would tear the very fabric of time itself.”

“Understood.”  The woman beside him nodded and raised her cuff to her lips, relaying the command.  “Detonate the explosives!”

“...”  Several heartbeats went by as Fontana looked towards the Core in expectation, a rising sense of wrongness intruding on the moment as he turned to his officer, who looked no less disturbed.  “...What’s wrong!?”

“The explosives are not responding to the signal!” The woman wiped a bead of sweat from her forehead, consulting a readout on her bracelet.  “We’re being jammed!”

“By whom!?” Fontana’s jaw locked, instinctively knowing the answer already.  “All the prototypes should have been destroyed!”

“Sensors resolving the countersignal; the prototype’s mindstream network is still active!”  The officer made a gesture, causing the observation deck’s displays to leap forward towards the source.

“Tsch!” Fontana clenched his teeth, glaring at the Sunrider’s profile.  “That ship again…  It seems our destinies are intertwined…”

“Shall I inform the fleet to re-engage Vennasar?”

Fontana stared out at the approaching Alliance fleet with a cold gaze, swallowing his anger and disappointment.  “No.  Enough men and women have lost their lives for that accursed station today.  We’ve already disarmed and dismantled the critical components.  It will have to be enough.  Order our fleet to withdraw immediately, captain.”

“Vennasar.”  The captain saluted and stepped back. 

All around him, flashes of light and the rippling of space began to enshroud his fleet as they began to transition to warp, disappearing from the system in the blink of an eye.  With a heavy heart, Fontana fixed his eyes on the Paradox Core and the scores of Alliance ships descending upon it until the view disappeared into darkness as the Vae Victus followed her fleet into the dark.

“Shields… what have you done...?”
[May 13, 2016, 02:26:28 pm]:   Elvis Strunk will do his best to shoot Eli with a full load.
Elvis Strunk [May 13, 2016, 02:26:45 pm]:   of bullets
Elvis Strunk [May 15, 2016, 03:31:49 pm]:   Knat's the best part of the harem, and the shortest lasting.
Jynx [May 15, 2016, 03:33:36 pm]:   Stop foreshadowing Knat's death
woolyshambler [May 15, 2016, 03:34:13 pm]:   foreshadowing death!? elvis wasn't foreshadowing knat's premature ejaculation problem?

Offline ShadowX

Re: Sunrider: The Novelization (Awakening)
« Reply #170 on: January 14, 2017, 08:41:22 pm »
Is this LibDay? Wooooow! Really makes me want to play it. Great work as always wooly!
Spoiler
Your love was handmade for somebody like me
Come on now, follow my lead
I may be crazy, don't mind me
Say, boy, let's not talk too much~💕

Offline WeAreTheMeta

Re: Sunrider: The Novelization (Awakening)
« Reply #171 on: January 14, 2017, 08:42:04 pm »
* WeAreTheMeta sees LibDay is getting novelized, and wonder if he should finally start to read the full novelization, or just start reading here

Elvis Strunk [Aug 10, 2016, 12:40:11 am]:   Meta is eternally a loli~
Arraxis [Sep 23, 2016, 11:37:43 pm]:   Love you too Meta

Offline ShadowX

Re: Sunrider: The Novelization (Awakening)
« Reply #172 on: January 14, 2017, 08:43:50 pm »
Definitely read all of it. It's really awesome, and wooly put a bunch of work into it.
Spoiler
Your love was handmade for somebody like me
Come on now, follow my lead
I may be crazy, don't mind me
Say, boy, let's not talk too much~💕

Offline BlackStarLine

Re: Sunrider: The Novelization (Awakening)
« Reply #173 on: January 14, 2017, 11:38:32 pm »
It's been way too long since another part of the novelization came along. Nice work as always wooly.

Offline woolyshambler

Re: Sunrider: The Novelization (Family)
« Reply #174 on: January 21, 2017, 04:10:33 pm »
Chapter 29: Family

Spoiler
Icari groaned with relief as a stream of hot water ran over her body, spending several minutes soaking through her long, dark hair and reveling in the unexpected luxury of privacy in the crew showers.  With the pilot’s private showers damaged in the battle, using the general showers until they were repaired was a necessity, albeit one she admittedly had more than a few reservations about.  She’d even briefly considered twisting Kayto’s arm into letting her use the shower in his quarters; on the balance though, that would probably be even more awkward than just biting the bullet and showering with the rest of the Sunrider’s female crew.

Slowly, under the water’s gentle caress, she felt the taut knots in her muscles begin to relax and to loosen as her fatigue and aches began to ease away.  Between the fevered combat during the entire battle and the double shift she’d pulled on rescue and recovery afterwards, she felt as though she’d aged five years in the last two days.  Still, despite everything, here she was, alive, or close enough to it, to even enjoy the shower in the first place.  As bad as it was, she’d gotten off light compared to any number of crewmen and Ryder pilots counted among the casualties of the largest engagement in the war so far.

“Tsch…” Icari glopped shampoo into her hands and began working the lather into the roots of her hair, closing her eyes and firmly setting her mouth; dwelling on the battle and the cost of victory wasn’t going to help anyone.  Shoving the thought from her mind, Icari willed herself to just enjoy the sound of splashing water and the warm breath of steam as she took a deep breath.

The sound of the shower room door sliding open signaled the unwelcome end to her privacy, causing her back to stiffen instinctively as her emerald eyes flew open to track the newcomer.  Old habits and all.

“Guck!” Icari’s eyes widened with surprise as Kryska stepped into the showers, a wry, amused expression on her face as she boldly strode straight at Icari with a casual comfort and confidence in her body. 

“Permission to enter!?” Kryska mockingly saluted as she took the shower immediately next to Icari despite the otherwise empty room, utterly ignoring Icari’s thinly veiled discomfort.

“U-uck…” Icari spluttered slightly.  “Well I guess it’s fine!  W-we’re both girls after all!” Icari mumbled the last bit seemingly more to herself than for Kryska’s benefit. 

“HAH! Hahaha!” Kryska put her hands on her narrow hips and belted out a peal of laughter.  “What’s the matter, Mercenary?  Civilian life never prepare you for a communal shower?”

“S-shut it!” Icari fiercely resumed lathering her hair, taking out her frustration on a few tangles of hair.  “I’ve got nothing to hide, especially from you!” she declared, puffing out her chest to make her point. 

“That’s the spirit,” Kryska chuckled as she began to shower too.  “Nothing beats the first shower after a battle!  That wasn’t an easy fight, but we gave those Reds a beating back that they won’t forget anytime soon.  Nothing can stand up to the courage and dedication of the Alliance Navy!”
“How about we give the propaganda campaign a break for once?” grumbled Icari, shooting a sideways glare at Kryska.  Sighing, she felt a small twist of regret as the sound of running water filled the silence between the two for a moment.  Less rhetoric, perhaps, than the Alliance pilot’s way of coping with the price of their victory.  “Well… uh…” Icari relented.  “Despite everything, we managed to keep the Sunrider in one piece… mostly.  So I… uh… well whatever, Soldier Boy!  Here’s the soap!”

Kryska grinned as Icari slapped a bar of soap into her hand.  “With this victory, it won’t be long before the fleet rallies at Cera.  The PACT bit off more than it could chew; their posture in the Neutral Rim was overconfident and their ships are no match for the might of the Alliance!  They’ll be suing for peace in no time!  Once they’re willing to sit down and talk, the war will be over!”

“S-seriously,” Icari rolled her eyes.  “It’s too early for victory speeches already… who knows what’ll happen next time.  But anyways, you flew well out there… so uh… thanks.”

“HAH!” Kryska barked out a laugh.  “You’re not as bad as I thought either, Mercenary.  Still have a few tricks up your sleeve I see.  Good work with that nuke.  I’m proud to be your comrade.”  Grabbing Icari’s hand, Kryska shook it firmly, grinning.  “When this is all over, let’s grab drinks on Solaris!”

“C-comrade!?” Icari grumbled, struggling to avoid letting a scathing retort drop from her lips.  “S-seriously… Well you’d better prepare yourself!  I’m not gonna be out done by a choir boy like you at the tap!”

“Ha!” Kryska’s eyes glittered with challenge.  “They call me ‘Stonewall’ for more than one reason.  You’d better hope your liver holds up longer than your Ryder’s armor!”

“Y-You!!!!” Icari flushed, wrenching her hand back from Kryska. “Leave the Ryders out of it!”

“HAHAHA!”

***

Kayto peered through the harsh lights of the Sunrider’s brig, looking into one of the occupied cell blocks with a frown on his face.  Beside him, Chigara darted a nervous glance between the cell’s occupant and the Captain while Claude hummed absentmindedly, playing with her cuffs and primping the ribbon on her uniform.

Behind the thick plexiglass walls and forcefields which penned in the prisoner, the now diminished and hardly intimidating prototype glared back, dressed in the featureless orange prisoner’s smock, arms crossed.  It was almost laughable, in a way, that the young woman in the cell had once been Veniczar Arcadius, one of the galaxy’s most powerful and enigmatic figures. 

“So, who is she?” Kayto turned to Claude, snapping his fingers for her attention.

“I’ve performed a preliminary medical workup,” purred Claude, waving her hand and bringing up a number of holographic reports on the wall next to the cell.  Imaging, lab values, and other esoterica scrolled, more or less meaningless to anyone but the doctor.  “For all intents and purposes, she seems to be a human, at least superficially.  There are signs, however, of extensive genetic engineering; there are significant alterations to hundreds of genomic loci and dozens of sequences with no homology to any known evolutionary branches of humanity in our database.  I can say definitively that these changes are deliberate and artificial.  The sequences that are most recognizable are…” Claude nodded towards Chigara as the other woman gulped nervously.  “The closest analogy might be that she’s Chigara’s sister.  A heavily modified and artificially created sister.”

“Except…” Kayto’s eyes turned to his Chief Engineer.  “Chigara doesn’t have sisters.”

“No,” Chigara shook her head, a look of confusion swirling behind her eyes.  “I don’t have sisters.  This is the first time I’ve seen an artificial human, much less a sister…”

Kayto nodded firmly, letting his gaze reassure Chigara that he believed her entirely.  “So she’s not your actual sister.  Any ideas about her origins then?”

Chigara shook her head.  “I’m sorry.”

“Only one choice then,” Kayto turned back to the cell in front of them and tapped his bracelet, activating the cell’s intercom system.  “Looks like we’ll have to ask her directly.”  Stepping up to the glass, Kayto looked the prototype in the eye, ensuring that he had her attention.  “I’m Captain Shields.  You’re aboard the CSF Sunrider.”

“Peh.” The Prototype snorted, tossing her short hair back and fixing him with a penetrating look, a hint of amusement playing at the corners of her lips.  “What do you want?”

“You’re a prisoner of war under Article Seven of the Cera Military Code,” Kayto folded his hands behind the small of his back.  “My crew and I will treat you fairly and respect your basic human rights to the extent required under that code.  If you cooperate, we can discuss expanding that respect to the extent allowed by that code.  Do you have a name?”

“Prototype L7NN.”  The prototype seemed utterly disinterested in Kayto’s words, offering no change in demeanor or voice as she gave her name in a bored, deadpan tone. 

“That’s hardly a proper name,” Kayto shrugged as his words provoked no further elaboration or substantiation.  “I suppose you can hardly complain if I call you ‘Lynn’ then.  It’s part of Chigara’s name, coincidentally.  Didn’t you mention your relation earlier?”

“Of course.”  Lynn smirked and leaned forward until her nose was almost touching the glass and forcefields of her cell.  “We are all sisters.  Together, we are Legion.  But the others are silent now.  The ones nearest us are dead.  But there are more.  There will always be more.”

Kayto returned the gaze coolly, making a mental note.  The prototypes had alluded to the capacity to communicate between one another, now an ability more or less confirmed by Lynn’s boast.  Although he’d assumed they were coordinated by the technology in their Ryders, what Lynn was describing sounded almost like telepathy, bordering on the realms of fantasy and myth.  Of course, that was precisely what the Ryuvian’s Lost Technology seemed like until their scientific principles were unraveled.  Could the prototypes be the product of more Lost Technology? 

“So you can’t hear your sisters now?” Kayto arched an eyebrow.  “You’ve been cut off.  You must be scared, maybe even terrified.  Is this the first time you’ve been disconnected?”

Something shifted in Lynn’s eyes and she looked away, her arms wrapping tighter around herself as she stepped back and glared at the corner of her cell. 

Bingo.  Kayto felt a weight lift from his shoulders as Lynn’s silence told him everything he needed to hear.  “If Chigara’s one of yours, why can’t you hear her thoughts?” Kayto asked rhetorically, smugness in his voice. 

Only silence met him.  The prototype had no more words it seemed and everything about her body language suggested she had no further interest in continuing the conversation.  It seemed almost like they had a hivemind, their web of communications almost a prerequisite to normal function.  Without it, they were individual, isolated, weak.

Nodding, Kayto switched off the intercom and pulled back from the cell, looking between Claude and Chigara, giving the latter a reassuring smile.  “We’ll watch her for now.  I don’t know what, if anything, she can even try in that cell, but be careful anyways.  So long as we don’t let more prototypes aboard this ship, I don’t think she’ll be able to do much or give them much.”

“Mhm!” Claude grinned and giggled.  “Tee Hee!  She looks like a small girl now.  It’s a bit embarrassing that we were intimidated by Arcadius when he was this little girl all along!”

“Eh-heh,” Chigara laughed nervously as well, clearly somewhat relieved.

“Anyways, record everything and see if she starts talking again.  We’ll see what we can learn from her,” Kayto massaged his stiff neck.  “And speaking of little…” he cast a glance over at the other side of the brig, eyeing the second prisoner the Sunrider had taken during the battle of Helion. 

Either Cosette could lip read or she’d guessed at his aside; the pirate queen’s face was plastered to the side of the glass with an ugly expression, clearly his act of mercy in saving her life cutting no ice between the two.  Kayto swallowed; last time the two had been so close he’d come away from the encounter definitively worse for the wear.  It wasn’t a pleasant thought, but nevertheless, he wondered why he’d even bothered to take the woman alive.  Certainly no worlds or families would have shed tears over the death of Cosette Cosmos, “Terror of the Stars,” considering how many she’d butched over the years.  Some hope of redemption then?  Maybe he he simply needed to prove to himself that despite everything, the torture he’d suffered at her hands or all the times she’d tried to kill him and his crew, he was still better than her; that she hadn’t broken him or his principles. 

As she pounded on the wall separating the two, Cosette plastered her face against the glass and snorted, fogging the pane and disappearing from sight momentarily.

“Our pirate friend seems to have acclimated well to the brig,” remarked Kayto, forcing calm and giving Cosette’s display a bored look.  Keying the intercom on his bracelet, he frowned as Cosette’s voice shrilled over the intercom.

“YOU BASTARD, WHAT DID YOU CALL ME-”

Kayto switched the intercom off again and shrugged, turning away from the pirate’s fierce but futile display.  “Make sure she doesn’t hurt herself,” he ordered Claude.

“Sah!” Claude chopped her hand to her forehead in a sloppy salute. 

“Chigara,” Kayto beckoned to his chief engineer and the two left the brig, both feeling no small relief as the hatch sealed behind them.

Walking down the Sunrider’s corridors in silence, the two stepped past collapsed beams and blown conduits, the walls not infrequently scorched with soot or bearing some smear of blood.  The crew they passed were no less weathered, their wan faces haggard with exhaustion as they pulled shift after shift to keep the ship afloat and engaged with Alliance rescue and recovery efforts.  Finally, they found themselves in a quiet stretch of hall, relatively unscathed by the battle, welcomingly quiet and pensive with the twinkle of starlight, save for the occasional flicker as the hallway screens struggled to keep up with the Sunrider’s unsteady power grid.

“C-captain…” Chigara broke the silence hesitantly, a real quality of fear in her voice.

“You’re troubled.”  Kayto cleared his throat, turning to his chief engineer and stopping them in the hallway.  “I’m… I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be there for you, when you were alone in Liberty.  It must have been terrible-”

“No,” Chigara cut him off with a sad but kind smile.  “There was nothing you could’ve done or said that would have made it easier.  And you were still doing your best to keep us all alive.  I’m sorry I let everyone down… it was all I could do to land safely…”  Turning away, Chigara let out a world-weary sigh and leaned on the railings, staring out at the holographic projection of space around them.  “About Lynn… about the rest of the prototypes.  I was completely clueless.  I had no idea they existed.  Engineered siblings of myself…” Chigara shook her head with an expression of confusion and profound distress. 

“Could they have been created behind your back?” Kayto struggled to make sense of the information.  Chigara had said she was from Diode; a place of legendary scientific advancement and a repository of knowledge and technology rivaling that of the Ancient Ryuvians if legends were true.  With that, was it really that unreasonable that someone could have cloned and manipulated Chigara’s genome for their own purposes?

“I had always considered my childhood normal,” Chigara’s eyes fixed on the distance wistfully.  “Performing experiments with my parents, learning to continue and contribute to their work.  They were happy days.  I was an only child and my parents gave me all their love and attention.”

Kayto frowned slightly from behind Chigara.  Despite the earnestness in her words, nothing about that childhood sounded remotely normal, at least not compared to his own.

“A-anyways!” Chigara spun around to face him again, clutching a hand to her chest, her eyes pleading.  “I never knew I had hundreds of sisters wandering around, all plotting to take over the galaxy!  C-Chigara has no interest in galactic overlordship!  J-just proprietorship of a small bakery is already more than enough!”

Kayto snorted, laughter diffusing the tense energy in the air.  Everything they knew or thought they knew about the prototypes was barely enough to fill a page, but he knew Chigara was telling the truth.  Whatever the prototypes were planning, whatever their role in the galaxy, he knew instinctively that the woman in front of him wanted nothing to do with any of it.  “No one’s questioning your loyalty, Chigara,” he said firmly, fixing her with a serious look as he sobered.  Putting his hands gently on her shoulders, he steadied her and felt her relax a degree with his touch.  “We would never have made it this far without you.  You kept us alive, upgraded our systems, worked harder than anyone else on this ship so that we’d have a chance of accomplishing our mission.  You would never betray us.”

“C-captain,” Chigara giggled and blushed a little, stepping a shade closer into his space as she looked up in his face with genuine happiness dancing behind her sapphire eyes.  “Eh-heh… n-no…” her blush intensified.  “You musn’t keep saying things like that.”  Sighing, she let his hands rest on her shoulders for another heartbeat before pulling back, a demure smile beneath the blush.  “Thank you, Captain.  I think I feel a bit better now.  Please see me later… I’m… making something for you.”

“Really?” Kayto felt a stupid grin climb onto his face, irresistable.

“Yes.” Chigara held his gaze for a moment longer than comfort allowed before turning away and walking down the hall with a small spring in her step.  “Please look forward to it.” 

Watching her back retreat and disappear around the corner, Kayto felt his eyes linger on the corridor intersection, as though hoping she’d change her mind and step back into sight.  “I will.”

***

Asaga pressed her cheek against the cool of the viewport, sending rippling interference across the display of stars and the dark of space.  Alone in the Ryder pilots quarters, she tried desperately to marshal her thoughts and collect herself.  Truth be told, she barely remembered most of the battle.  One moment she’d been launching in Black Jack, wild elation and bursting pride burning in her chest as Kayto led the Sunrider into the fiercest battle of the war, her at his side as CAG.  The next, she was staring at a retreating PACT fleet, a sense of unreality as the PACT leadership unraveled.  Then she was staring at the remnants of Havok, hacked to pieces by Black Jack’s blade.  In between, she remembered only flashes, brilliant light, a sense of ascendancy, the thrum of power as her very body became a conduit for something greater than herself.

“What… came over me?” she muttered, staring at her reflection in the holographic display, looking deep into her own emerald eyes and finding only swirling confusion and uncertainty. 

“Asaga.”

Asaga jerked back, electricity running down her spine and her hair standing on end as she darted a look behind her.  Nothing.  And yet… the voice had been as clear as water, as real as anything else she’d ever heard.  Turning back to the viewport, her eyes widened in shock as she found her reflection looking back, no longer mirroring the shock she felt on her face, but a study in stern judgement.  Glaring back, the spectre’s eyes flared a brilliant blue, the pure, burning light drowning out the jade and boring into her as her alter ego commanded her attention.  “W-who-!?”

“Do not fear.”  The apparition’s voice echoed slightly, but brimmed with ancient wisdom and a sense of potency, addressing her as a matron would an errant child.  But beneath it all, a burning, suppressed rage, as though the energy and power behind the other woman’s eyes were barely contained, ready to flash out in a torrent of cleansing fire at but a moment’s notice.  “I am but a part of you; Awakened by the strength of your will and your birthright as the Heir of Ryuvia.  Reflect on your feelings.  You know I am the embodiment of your emotions and desires, made real by your will.”

“You don’t…” Asaga gulped.  “You don’t actually exist.  You’re just inside my head!”

“Yes.”  Her other self nodded without any change in expression.  “Your powers have at last begun to manifest.  In time, you will become indomitable.  An unstoppable instrument of Justice to judge the sins of all Mankind; the Arbiter the weak and oppressed cry out for.  Your companions ignore the dues they owe for they cannot perceive the greatness of the destiny that awaits you.  You are not in his sight.  But she is.  You are the Sharr, the one that will bring Justice and balance to this galaxy.”  The other’s face twisted into a snarl as she leaned forward, eyes flaring with righteous fury.  “While she wears the face of an evildoer.  One who would subject the galaxy to the chains of slavery and bring about a dark age of cruelty and pain unending.”

“No…” Asaga shook her head and backed away from the viewport.  “Chigara’s my friend.  She… she wouldn’t…”

“Already, she has squirmed her way into his heart.  She will seduce his trust, corrupt his kindness.  His goodness shall be his undoing.  You alone can defend this ship.  You alone can save him!”

“No!” Asaga backpedaled further, willing those burning eyes to let fall that terrible gaze.  “I-I don’t like these feelings!  G-get outta me!”

“A-ah!”

A quiet voice behind her made Asaga jump and stagger.  “U-uwaaah!!!”  Tripping, Asaga’s feet and legs somehow managed to entangle themselves; crying out in surprise as her balance gave way and her world slipped out from underneath, Asaga crashed to the floor in a confused and undignified heap.  Looking up, she found Sola looking down on her with an expression of mixed concern and profound disappointment.  Flushing scarlet, Asaga darted a look back at the viewport, finding nothing but the serenity of space looking back, her vision gone as suddenly as it had come.  “H-how long were you there?” she asked Sola, scrambling to her feet and making a show of dusting off and hoisting a cheesy smile on her face. 

Sola’s delicate features settled into an inscrutable mask.  Completely still, Sola merely looked at Asaga, her lack of reaction or contribution far more unnerving than any kind of protest or exclamation.  Finally, she broke the awkward silence.  “Heard the entire thing.” 

“Huuu… N-no way…”  Asaga’s shoulders slumped and the grin washed off her face in an instant. 

Sola slid past Asaga, sitting down on her bunk and removing her shoes with deliberate slowness.  “You are troubled.”

“Well… yeah…” Asaga mumbled, rubbing her neck, a fierce glow on her cheekbones.  “How do I put this…” Asaga fished around for the right words.  Although they were about the same age, in some ways, Sola felt like a distant, old aunt, someone who could maybe offer her a piece of advice or guidance, nevermind that she probably was, in fact, some kind of distant relation that only the court genealogist could work out without suffering some kind of apoplectic stroke.

“I am inexperienced with matters of the heart,” Sola curtailed that particular line of inquiry before it could even properly start, her blunt tone completely shattering any illusion that she might offer Asaga any insight or advice with Kayto.  Silence fell between the two for another minute before Sola turned her amber eyes to Asaga with a serious expression filled with weariness.  “The Ryuvian Court of my time was a place rife with dark emotions.  Jealousy.  Paranoia.  Lust.  They fester in your heart.  They consume you.  Until the men and women it feeds on can no longer be called human, but monsters.”

“Easy for you, Sola!” Asaga shot back, her frustration rising and threatening to claw its way out from inside her chest.  “You don’t feel any emotions!”

Sola stared at Asaga for a moment longer before swinging her slender legs up into her bunk, turning her face away to stare at the wall.  Her voice, however, remained as deadpan and steady as ever as it floated over her shoulder.  “One would rather feel nothing at all than pain, no?”

“Hmph.” Asaga crossed her arms, blowing a strand of red hair out of her face. 

“Forgive me.”  Sola turned slightly, a single honey colored eye peering over her shoulder again.  “I have overstepped my bounds.  I am no Sharr.  Merely a pale imitation, impressed into service and elevated by desperation.”  Again, she turned away, this time with a sense of finality. 

“Sola?” Asaga felt a prickle of curiosity despite her annoyance; Sola had seldom mentioned any part of her past and if anyone else alive knew what it felt like to be a Sharr or something like a Sharr, it was her.  “Hey, Sola!”

No response came from the other woman, save for the rustling of fabric as Sola pulled a blanket over herself, disappearing from sight. 

Great power begot arrogance, entitlement, and corruption.  Sola felt a numb sensation spill over her as she drifted in the dark, afloat on memories of an Empire long dead.  Their omnipotent powers had proven to be their undoing; greed and ambition exceeding control and temperance, tearing the galaxy asunder.  It was a story that had echoed through human history before humanity had even taken to the stars, one she had hoped would be averted in the future she’d found herself in.  And yet, here she was, the victim of Fate’s cruelty, forced to watch the story unfold yet again.

***

Kayto ambled down the Sunrider’s corridors, lips quirked upwards in a smile.  Knowing that Chigara had bade him farewell with her spirits buoyed had lifted a weight off his shoulders as well, not to mention her promise of a surprise.  Idly, he wondered what she could be preparing, indulging in a vision of icing and fresh fruit as he walked almost headfirst into Ava at a corridor intersection. 

“O-oh.” Kayto blinked as Ava glared at him, arms crossed, her remorseless cerise eyes boring into him and daring him to start first,making no effort to spare him her disapproval.  As mounting horror took its toll, he felt the smile slide off his face with comedic slowness.  “Ahem… well…”  Gulping and clearing his throat awkwardly, Kayto veered to the side, hanging a hard right and making to hightail it back to his quarters, dignity be damned, his self-preservation instincts kicking in.  He’d seen that look on Ava’s face more than once in the past and it had never bode well; it was all he could do to not drop the entire pretense of self-control and simply make a run for it. 

“Captain!” Ava’s voice cracked like a whip, causing Kayto’s entire back to stiffen in anticipation of the impending lecture.  Marching after him, she chased him down, power walking with an almost manic intensity that sent any crewmember foolish enough to stand in the way diving for cover.  “I’ve tolerated everything from you so far: unorthodox tactics, relaxed military regulations, civilian contractors with no more character references or approval than your own!  But this time, you have crossed the line!  I knew from the beginning that I was too soft with you, too relaxed aboard this ship!  No longer; I will be lodging a formal complaint in regards to the operation against the Legion!”

“Ava,” Kayto struck a reasonable tone, trying not to sound like he was whining.  “Be reasonable; I’d say the operation turned out well enough.”

Ava carried on, her words steamrolling over his with neither trouble nor any indication that she had considered his words of any worth at all.  “You order the crew to devise a plan to sink the Legion.  Not without insignificant effort, exactly such a plan is devised.  The Alliance backs your plan, throwing hundreds of ships and tens of thousands of lives towards making that plan a reality.  And then!” Ava’s temper seemed to reach boiling point.  “Despite expending considerable resources and lives in an attempt to exploit the Legion’s weakness, you issued an order to ignore it while we had the ship in our sights!  Because of your order, our allied forces sustained heavy losses that were entirely preventable with no results to show for them!  Worse!  The PACT has now been tipped off to the Legion’s design flaw.  According to the latest Alliance intel, the Legion has retreated deep into PACT space for a design overhaul.  No doubt, the PACT will compensate for and seal the only real weakness in the Legion’s design.  The next time we face the Legion, it will be nigh invincible and even more lives and ships will be lost as a result!  We had but one opportunity to strike at the Legion while the PACT was unaware of the vulnerability, an opportunity that you squandered!”

“But-”  Kayto tried desperately to get a word in before she built up too much critical momentum, failing miserably. 

“All in all!” Ava seethed, cutting Kayto off, glaring daggers.  “The Battle for Helion would’ve been a catastrophic loss for the Alliance had it not been for Veniczar Fontana’s fortuitous betrayal.  Our victory was entirely situational and had we not been so lucky, none of us would be alive right now!  And FINALLY, one last thing, Captain-”

“Hurk.”  Kayto’s eyes spun a little as he struggled to absorb the verbal blows that Ava hurled at him.  “Y-you mean there’s more!?”

“I wholeheartedly denounce your highly inappropriate remarks regarding your… feelings towards me on the floor of the bridge!” Ava hissed, advancing on him with menace.  “Shouting like a fool like that, and in front of the whole bridge crew!  Unbelievable!  S-such unbecoming behavior from the highest ranking Ceran officer in this fleet!  Hmph!”

Kayto cringed, slowing his walk and finally stopping, turning to face his First Officer.  “W-will that be all Commander?” he asked tentatively, unsure if he would set off another massive flood of criticism and disapproval. 

“Sir!” Ava shouted through clenched teeth, a tick throbbing frighteningly in her temple as she saluted with mechanical precision and neurotic stiffness. 

Kayto scratched the back of his head, grabbing a fistful of his hair and explosively sighing with frustration.  “I’m glad to see you’re safe and sound too, Ava.”

“This is no time for more of your jokes and foolishness!” Ava looked practically ready to physically attack him.  “You could lose your commission for this!  At the very least, you’d be looking at an ugly sexual harassment suit!”

“S-sexual-?!?” Kayto choked and stammered, bewildered.

Ava’s glare was all the answer she deigned to give, the silence between them stretching uncomfortably. 

Fighting the urge to drop his face in his hands, Kayto took a deep breath and blew out explosively again.  “I wasn’t going to send you to your death, Ava.  Enough Ceran lives were lost to that ship and-”

“And now many more,” Ava retorted, having none of it. 

Kayto set his jaw, her words swirling in his breast, opening raw wounds and gouging new ones.  Struggling, he shoved those emotions deeper, slamming the door shut and backing away from them as quick as he could.  “We’d be insane if we weren’t emotionally compromised after all that’s happened,” he said quietly, unable to hide the bitterness welling up from within.  “We’d be monsters.  I’m sorry… you were right.  I should never have taken the Sunrider into that battle.”  Looking up and meeting her gaze, Kayto squared his shoulders and soldiered on, damning the consequences.  “You never realize what you still have around you.  Until you’re about to lose it.”

“Hmph!” Ava scoffed, her facial expression suggesting the explanation was beneath any worded response.

“Anyways,” Kayto dropped his gaze, feeling fatigue lapping at the shores of his consciousness.  “You can go ahead and file that complaint.  Considering that Command was reduced to a smoking crater a while back, it’s probably going to be a little bit longer before anyone can act on it.”

“I’m painfully aware of that fact, Captain,” snapped Ava.  Still, something in her face softened as she brushed her long chestnut hair back with a hand.  “Tsch… I was… merely venting...”

Kayto forced the ghost of a smile lift his features for a moment.  “Looks like you’ll have to deal with me a while longer then.  At least we have luck on our side.”

Ava merely shook her head and gave him another look of venom before stalking away. 

Behind her, Kayto’s forced smile crumbled to pieces, her parting glare as stinging as any physical slap she could’ve given him, draining him of anything he’d recovered in the last hour.  ‘Great. Kayto kicked himself mentally, an empty feeling stealing over him as he turned and trudged the other way, dragging his feet.  ‘Now she totally hates me.  So much for getting closer.’

He’d barely made it three steps before his bracelet chimed, offering an not unwelcome distraction from his own thoughts. 

“This is Kayto,” he answered, keeping his voice studiously neutral and swallowing the rest.

“Captain.” Kryska’s voice sounded like the verbal equivalent of one of her salutes, crisp and professional beyond reproach.  “May I speak with you on the bridge, Sir?”

“Copy that Lieutenant,” Kayto changed his course, directing his steps towards the bridge as though on autopilot.  “I’ll be there in a moment.”

***

The Sunrider’s CIC looked worse for the wear, collapsed beams and overloaded circuits still bearing testament to the damage the ship had taken as a whole, but the same could not be said for the crew.  Despite the general exhaustion, a sense of optimism seemed to permeate the bridge staff, at odds with the grim work of search and rescue that the fleet had been engaged in since the end of combat operations. 

As he stepped into the CIC properly, he overheard more than one muttered conversation between various bridge officers, their voices brimming with excitement as they swapped speculation and rumor, the truth behind Arcadius’s identity and the revelation of PACT infighting feeding their rekindled spirits and morale.  Honestly, Kayto couldn’t remember the atmosphere in his CIC being this positive and optimistic since their underdog victory at Far Port. 

“Captain!” Kryska saluted in person from the CIC’s tactical board. 

“At ease Lieutenant,” Kayto stepped over to join her, glancing at the tac map, awash in a sea of green with no enemy contacts to the edge of sensor contact.  “What’s our situation?”

“We’ve secured complete control of the Helion system,” Kryska’s voice sounded triumphant as she nodded to the tactical display.  Tapping in a few commands, she caused the tactical screen to pull out to a larger map of the Neutral Rim as a whole.  “The PACT’s Helion fleet has completely withdrawn from the system.  Navigation reports that their fleet has separated; the majority have fallen back to Ryuvia Prime; the rest of the fleet’s retreated to Cera.  Alliance Intelligence reports that the PACT invasion fleet has withdrawn from nearly a dozen minor Neutral Rim systems as well, they’ve likely pledged allegiance to Fontana and are massing at Ryuvia Prime with the rest of his fleet.  PACT loyalists from New Eden and the surrounding systems are diverting additional forces to shore up their defenses around Cera and what’s left of their occupation in the Neutral Rim.”

“Hm.” Kayto mused on the development.  Fontana’s betrayal had effectively sundered the PACT’s fighting force in two.  It was hard to imagine that Arcadius, or rather, the Prototypes wouldn’t have been rattled by the last battle.  If they were diverting defensive forces from New Eden and the PACT core worlds, PACT High Command was undoubtedly in a state of near panic.  “Looks like they’re giving up on the rest of the Neutral Rim and bunkering up for a defensive war…”

Kryska made a fist, pumping her arm in a gesture of triumph.  “The Emerald Fleet has the PACT on the run and off balance, Captain.  They were fools to challenge the Alliance!”  Kryska coughed, correcting herself hastily, “and the Sunrider and the Neutral Rim, of course!”

“It’s fine Lieutenant,” Kayto waved aside her concern, hardly feeling petty enough to make a slip of the tongue anything larger.  “And the Paradox Core?” he prompted, pointing out the elephant in the room.

“Alliance forces have secured the Core,” Kryska zoomed the map back in, showing the Alliance fleet holding a respectful perimeter around the Core.  “The structure was abandoned, save for explosives wired throughout the entire superstructure.  It appears the PACT ran out of time to complete their demolition before we took control of the system.  Our specialists have defused the explosives and Admiral Grey is inspecting the Core personally as we speak.  He’s requested that you join him.”

“I see.”  Kayto nodded, Kryska’s purpose in calling him to the CIC suddenly clear.  “All right, let’s get going.  We’ll take any shuttle that wasn’t smashed to pieces in the battle.” 

“Understood!” Kryska saluted and turned on her heel, leading him out of the CIC.  “I’ve already taken the liberty of inspecting and preparing one of our shuttles for immediate departure.”

‘Let’s just hope this field trip goes better than the last one,’ Kayto remarked wryly to himself.

***

Kayto stepped into the Paradox Core’s main control room, although calling it a throne room may have been more appropriate for the style of architecture the PACT seemed to have adopted for this part of the Core.  In stark contrast with the claustrophobic, utilitarian design of the rest of the Core which had led to this chamber, the main control room featured a vaulted ceiling, buttressed supports, and an expansive view of the space surrounding the Paradox Core that stretched from ceiling to floor.  At the center of the cathedral-like space, a single seat of monolithic proportions, utterly dominating the entire room from its position on a raised dais, radiating a sense of grandiosity and hubris.  Taking it all in, Kayto wasn’t sure if he should be impressed or roll his eyes at the display; outside of portrayals of Holy Ryuvia at the height of its opulence and decadence on his parents’ holodramas, he honestly could not say he’d ever seen anything quite so unnecessarily lavish or excessive. 

Maybe it was a reflection of the prototypes’ tastes?  Or maybe they were trying to compensate for something?  As Kayto eyed the massive throne at the center of the room, overseeing the rest of the controls and work stations, he struggled to imagine if it would serve to magnify or further diminish the prototypes’ petite frames.

“Captain Shields, welcome”  Admiral Grey stepped out from behind the throne, having evidently been examining the seat or the view it offered while waiting for Kayto, his gravelly voice as humorless and serious as ever.  “Quite a grand control center, is it not?”

“Admiral.”  Kayto nodded at Admiral Grey and stepped forward, making his way towards the throne.  Maybe the room’s architecture was getting to him, executing the intended effect of elevating those on the dias and diminishing those below, but Kayto wasn’t entirely sure he liked the Admiral’s tone of voice or the look on his face. 

The Admiral stretched his arms out, his deep voice echoing through the hall as the acoustics amplified his words to the boom of distant thunder.  “A weapon more devastating than anything the human mind could even grasp, much less conceive.  It is quite fitting that this weapon’s creation sprang not from the mind of man, but from a monster, a corruption of science.”  Grey turned back to the throne, a hand tracing its way along its arm rest.  “Whoever held the reins of this weapon would have held a knife to the galaxy at its very neck.  Entire systems could be destroyed in the blink of an eye; a new era where entire empires would collapse and vanish in seconds.  Fleets, armies, weapons, empires, politics, would have no meaning, petty differences that would all be rendered moot before the power of the Paradox Core.”  Nodding at the throne, Admiral Grey paused for a moment, looking out at the hellish glow of Helion as it illuminated the deep lines of his face.  “The one who would sit on this chair would cease to be a man at all, but ascend to the level of divinity, wielding the power of the Gods for themselves; all other men, but beasts before their eyes, their will, absolute.  A seat fit for the Ryuvian Emperor himself.”  His gaze distant, the Admiral seemed to peer into the interstellar dark between the stars, as though looking for something.  “In times of antiquity, sons turned on their fathers for such power.  Men turned into demons lusting for a taste of Godhood.  The galaxy ran red with blood as they fought for dominion, even as everything they held dear burnt to ash around them...”

Kayto chewed the inside of his cheek, unsure how to respond, a sense of wrongness tingling in his spine as his hairs stood on edge.  The way the Admiral’s words caressed the allure of such power unnerved him, although he could hardly refute the Admiral’s assessment.  The very nature of such power and omnipotence was corrupting; history had shown time and again that to be true.  Respecting it was one thing, but something else, perhaps a shadowy flicker behind the Admiral’s dark eyes or the way his fingers lingered upon the armrest of the colossal throne, sent a ripple of alarm through Kayto’s conscience.

A wry, cynical smile broke out over the Admiral’s face as he returned his gaze to meet Kayto’s look of discomfort.  “Let us all be in relief that those dark ages are behind us and shall never again descend upon humanity.”  Straightening his back and stepping away from the throne, Grey walked down from the dais, meeting Kayto halfway, face-to-face.  “The Core must be destroyed.”

Kayto let the breath he’d been holding out, feeling a surge of relief ease through him.  Somewhere, deep in his heart he had suspected… Unbidden, he flashed back to the desperate moment over the skies of Ongess where the Admiral had played his true hand.  ‘Sit down boy, and let me show you War!  Execute contingency plan Obsidian!’

Mentally shaking his head, Kayto pushed the thought from his mind.  War bred fear and paranoia; the Admiral was still a good man, one who, perhaps, walked the razor’s edge but whose morals and principles kept him from falling as so many before him.  Perhaps he’d been wrong to suspect the Admiral in the first place; the man had yet to go back on his word. 

As though the Admiral could sense the conflict in Kayto, he leaned forward slightly, fixing the younger Captain with a firm look and setting a hand on his shoulder.  “Many of my sons and daughters died so that we could destroy this abomination.  Good men.  Good women.  Hundreds of families across the Alliance torn apart so that thousands would be spared the horrors of war.  Their sacrifice will not be in vain.”

Kayto nodded.  “I pray the galaxy will never see anything like it again.”

“Indeed.  As do I.”  Grey’s expression lifted as he dropped his arm.  “Although I am disappointed the battle was not won by our fleet’s courage and might, but rather through sedition within the enemy’s ranks, this is the end of the war, Shields.  With division sown among the PACT leadership and fleets, they are finished.”

“And our next step?” asked Kayto.

“We press on and push further into the Neutral Rim,” answered the Admiral without hesitation.  “The PACT are withdrawing to a defensive posture.  Cera is our goal.  With Cera liberated and the Neutral Rim reclaimed, the PACT will have no option but to surrender or face a devastating offensive into the heart of their core sectors.  It is not an option for their leadership.”

“And the prototypes?” Kayto wondered aloud, recalling their claim that they had infiltrated leadership across known space, Alliance and PACT. 

“Alliance Intelligence has already made strides in locating the rest of their ilk,” responded Grey with a tone of menace.  “Speaking of which, I am given to understand that you captured one of them alive.”

“The prototype is our prisoner under the Ceran Military Code, yes,” said Kayto, dropping his tone of voice by a degree.  “My forces performed the capture; she is under our jurisdiction.”

“And I don’t assume you intend to turn it over.”  Admiral Grey half-grumbled, not missing the change in Kayto’s tone or the firm set to his face as he held his ground.  “Very well, Captain.  I will defer custody of the prisoner and the intelligence gathering to your forces then.”  Waving his hand, the Admiral seemed to dismiss the matter.  “At any rate, the prototypes will be neutralized in short order, both by our forces and those within the PACT.  The PACT leadership is changing.  The new leaders emerging, I predict, will be more amenable to our goals and point of view.”

“Which are?” Kayto prompted, getting to the heart of the matter.  “What does the Alliance want from this war, Admiral?”

“An end to it.  Peace.”  Admiral Grey ran a hand across his beard.  “And Freedom of course.  For both the Alliance as well as the Neutral Rim.  We are a nation of traders; war and sanctions hurt everyone in the Alliance; with peace and security will come prosperity.  It will not be long now, Shields…” Grey smiled at Kayto as an uncle might to one of his nephews.  “You, at the head of your Liberation Day parade, the mighty Hero of Cera who triumphed against all odds to bring freedom and liberty back to his homeworld.  Men will cheer you, women will adore you, children will be named after you.  Such days are precious to a military man.”  Leaning forward again, Grey’s voice took on the tone of advice.  “Cherish them, while they last.”

“Sir?” Kayto felt himself taken slightly aback. 

“War is but a playground to the perils of peacetime politics,” declared the Admiral in wry cynicism, winking as he chuckled and patted Kayto on the back in good humor.  “Now, let us be done with this place and send this damnable construct to the fires of Helion.  I can only take so much of this grotesque architecture…”

***

Kayto held his breath as the countdown ticked down to zero, the entire CIC’s gaze fixed on the main screen as the Paradox Core hung over Helion, outlined against the white-hot light of the sun.  Slowly, with a certain balladic quality, chains of explosions began to ripple through the Paradox Core’s rings, chaining one after another as the entire construct began to shatter and break apart, slowly falling into Helion’s gravitational pull as it started to sink into the sun. 

Wild cheers broke out among the CIC crew as they watched the Paradox Core twist part, entire ragged chunks of the strange ring-like structures of the Core tearing asunder and heating to a white hot glow as they entered the upper layers of Helion’s photosphere.  Beside him, Kryska beamed, barely able to contain her pride and joy.  Ava was conspicuously missing, their two paths having not crossed since she confronted in the halls.

“With this, Captain, the galaxy is saved!” Kryska pumped her fist again with feeling.  “The Alliance has saved Humanity!”

Wordlessly, Kayto nodded, still watching the fragments of the Paradox Core streak across the star in a fiery shower of light and heat.  The Core destroyed and the PACT weakened, the war did seem to be drawing to a close, the winds of fortune firmly behind the Alliance.  It all seemed too good, too fast to be true; Cera was almost within grasp.  Somehow, however, Kayto couldn’t shake the feeling that something was grossly amiss, something waiting to strike the moment he let his guard down.  Perhaps it was the guarded attitude that growing up in the Neutral Rim had left him with, but his conversation with Admiral Grey had only marginally assuaged his concerns, the man as difficult to read as ever.  Then again, maybe the burden of the war was starting to get to him, burning out his reserves and leaving only pessimism in its wake.. 

“We’ve won this battle, Lieutenant,” agreed Kayto, putting a hand on Kryska’s shoulder that was in equal parts camaraderie and caution.  “But the war’s not over yet.”

“Sir!” Kryska spun to face him and saluted, as though sensing his inner turmoil.  “I promise you, you will not regret your decision to trust the Alliance!”

“I’ll keep you to your word then, Lieutenant,” smiled Kayto, knowing at heart that trusting the Alliance and trusting Kryska were two very separate issues.  Nevertheless, he felt the question ease slightly in his mind.  “You have my gratitude… for everything.  For flying as one of us, for watching my back on Ongess… that was a dicy situation that you got us out of…”

“Of course,” Kryska’s lips curled in a small, tight smile, eyes shining.  “I’d gladly protect you again, Captain!  The Sunrider…” Kryska’s voice took on a thoughtful tone.  “The Sunrider’s different than any other ship I’ve served on.  Something that goes beyond anything as banal as Alliance or Ceran.  There’s a lack of discipline here, but something else keeps the crew together.  Something you and your crew have extended to me since I came aboard.  Something I’ve had precious little of since joining the Alliance Navy.”  Catching Kayto’s eye, Kryska flushed slightly.  “I mean no disrespect, Sir!  I just mean to say… it is not merely duty or my assignment from the Admiral that keeps me here.  The Sunrider… is my home now.  And everyone here, my friends… my family.”

Kayto’s smile widened as he felt his heart swell, his gaze sweeping across the CIC and finding bright, shining faces looking back at him, the men and women who had stood with him shoulder-to-shoulder so that this moment would be a reality.  “Yeah… Family.”
[May 13, 2016, 02:26:28 pm]:   Elvis Strunk will do his best to shoot Eli with a full load.
Elvis Strunk [May 13, 2016, 02:26:45 pm]:   of bullets
Elvis Strunk [May 15, 2016, 03:31:49 pm]:   Knat's the best part of the harem, and the shortest lasting.
Jynx [May 15, 2016, 03:33:36 pm]:   Stop foreshadowing Knat's death
woolyshambler [May 15, 2016, 03:34:13 pm]:   foreshadowing death!? elvis wasn't foreshadowing knat's premature ejaculation problem?

Offline ShadowX

Re: Sunrider: The Novelization (Family)
« Reply #175 on: January 21, 2017, 04:25:03 pm »
AWESOME!!! I actually prefer finding out the storyline from your work now instead of playing LibDay... Great chapter!
Spoiler
Your love was handmade for somebody like me
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Say, boy, let's not talk too much~💕