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[WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only) 
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Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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It didn't take long after sending his note. He was about to lie back on his bed and let his thoughts roam when he felt a presence on the other side of the door. Not Beryl, though... but given his Lotai, the list of possible Loroi he'd sense was very short.

"Come in", he prompted audibly.

The door slid open, revealing Tempo, to his mild surprise, in her off-duty bodysuit, but still looking immaculately styled up, not a single strand out of place in her hairdo.

And, more noticeably, carrying a tray with filled plates and cutlery suitable for a dinner for two. Alex blinked.

With Beryl it was just experimenting what kind of food is palatable to me, well, it started out like this. But this looks different. Perhaps sharing food as a specific cultural connotation with Loroi, too?

"You were missed in the mess hall and I know that you haven't eaten for the better part of the cycle, now. And given that we're about to jump in short time, you should have at least something in your stomach?", she trailed off with a question.

"Oh. Right. Guess I was too engrossed in those...", Alex gestured to the pile of datapads.

Tempo frowned slightly. "I commend you for your dedication to the task at hand, but you shouldn't disregard your basic needs."

Why am I thinking that you don't solely refer to my need for sustenance?, Alex thought. Loudly he conceded: "Point. This looks appetizing. What is it?"

Her frown turned into a small, pleased smile. "Perrein tazim mushroom caps. Most think of these as an acquired taste, but Mazil-Toza Pabetpeio is convinced that these might be most palatable to your taste and digestive system."

Oh, right. Winterbloom. She did say she'd try to put up a dietary plan for me., Alex remembered, And since Tempo put much thought into this, even asking her, I'd better indulge her.

Tempo's gaze turned positively compelling, until he picked up the cutlery and tried a bite, nodding, then she picked up her knife and fork and started eating alongside him.

"This is good. Truly.", Alex admitted with a tone of surprise between bites, eliciting another pleased smile from Tempo.

Eventually Alex did clean the plate, indeed noticing that his stomach didn't decide to act up, but on noticing that Tempo still didn't make a move to leave he felt the need to ask: "Something tells me that you came here for another reason, too?"

"I did", Tempo admitted, extending her right hand in an askance gesture.

Alex hestitated. That 'prank' she played on him was in poor taste, and he was a bit wary about giving her the chance to pull that one over him again, but her thoughts did show genuine regret. Deciding to give her the benefit of doubt, he reached out to meet her right hand with his left one.

Thoughts about that dinner they just had filtered in from her, and yes, it seemed that it had been very important to her for him to accept her invitation to eat together. Why though, that matter seemed to be too complex and mired with taboos for her stray thoughts to convey.

Alex felt Tempo ordering her thoughts into a coherent sending.

'Torrai Lashret Dellasoni was a bit ... surprised and felt let down that your recommendation was that ... ordinary. Tactically sound, but nothing really groundbreaking. I don't know what she expected - perhaps another miracle stunt like you pulled with the Relay.'

'The reports I have here are extensive, I give it that, but these are military reports - troop composition, movements, modes of engagement, preferred tactics of select Shell commanders and divisions, that sort of thing. Sometimes it is the things not to be found in such reports which could make the most devastating difference.'

'What do you mean?', Tempo was intrigued.

'I've read about a specific engagement we fought on our world about 2100 years ago - wars were fought with large infantry troops on one side, armed with swords, short javelins and shields, and a horde of barbarians on the other side, fur-clad, with wooden shields and short swords. What said barbarians lacked in number they made up with ferocity, giving the larger, better-equipped Roman troops pause.'

'I see. Go on.', Tempo was puzzled. Where was he going to with that?

'This short javelin was of a specific make. A diamond-shaped head, suitable to pierce armor, on a slender metal shaft connecting it to a wooden handle, ready to be thrust or thrown. Now, said barbarians usually fought side by side, their shields extended forward and overlapping each other. That gave one of the Roman field marshalls the idea and instructed the smith to make the head out of hard iron, but the metal shaft out of soft iron. The result: When thrown, the head embedded itself into the shields, often enough the parts of two shields that overlapped, but the weight and momentum of the wooden shaft pulling the whole thing down, bending the soft metal part and affixing the shields together. Bereft of free movements, the barbarians had to drop the shields and to fight with bare upper chest, since they did wear very little.'

Tempo blinked. Now, that was unexpected. 'Ahhh... I get it. The field marshall turned their greatest strength into the biggest weakness just by changing one thing in their own setup.'

'If you ever get to read 'De Bello Gallico' I could show you that part.'

'I admit I'm intrigued.', Tempo demurred.

'I've got another example, out of a different story, a fictional one, this time. Say... the Umiak aren't by chance a low-gravity species?'

'Actually yes, they are. Please continue', Tempo sent with barely concealed interest.

'Said story had us be beset by an insectoid species which were incidentally accustomed to low to zero gravity. And, equally incidentally, their means of spaceship propulsion - fictional, mind you - was based on gravity waves. With the slight flaw that a direct hit on the engine would emit a large gravity wave, crushing the insectoids to pulp.'

'I see what you mean... Biological and societal peculiarities don't show up in troop reports, but they could be as equally important when trying to mount a defense or exploiting specific weaknesses. I commend you - that line of thinking would make for a good Mizol. Perhaps Beryl might dig up something like this you can use. And you say this was a fictional story? This sounds ... outlandish, but this is definitely a thought to keep in mind.'

Tempo noticed the shift in his thoughts after she sent that.

'I'm sure you had your hand in it with placing her and me on opposite shifts?'

As a first reaction, Tempo tried to hide her thoughts, but then sighed. 'Yes... we did. I have told you that having exclusive rights on a male would be something only Stillstorm might get away with it, but definitely not Beryl. Even her visiting you a second time could be regarded as in poor taste, but three times in a row was showing a worrisome trend. Not just because of her and your reputation, but her own mental health as well. The fixation she developed on you is .... distressing to behold.'

'I see....', Alex answered, dejectedly.

'We're not about to separate you permanently. Given her curiosity, that would be a difficult thing to do, and we noticed that her presence had a ... positive effect on you as well. Yet, you did profess interest in other Loroi, too, and we can't have Beryl hogging all your attention, right?', she tried to end with a rather lighthearted tone.

'You should know, even if a human man is pair bonded to his woman, he still continues to think about other women, usually in a sort of 'what-if' manner, not really intending to pursue that thought. So while you may pick up some fantasies about Cloud, or Reed from me I may still not act on them.'

'I see. But let me tell you. Some of us are quite forward, but rest assured that there are very few warriors who would not feel honored if you give them some consideration. I wouldn't even be all too surprised if Stillstorm comes around that way of thinking, too. She keeps calling you 'it', just because she consciously chooses to not to regard you as a male. Were she to start to refer to you as 'he' regularly, that's the moment you should be aware of.'

'Uh... let's think about it when it comes to that, right?', Alex sent, decidedly uncomfortable with the turn of their talk.

'Before it comes to that, there are already several Loroi anxiously waiting for a chance to spend time with you... Unless Stillstorm would pull rank. But let us get into jump positions....'

Before switching topics Alex did pick up Tempo's own interest in him - and, after all, she did pass him a rather raunchy message, including with a picture of herself, as seen in a mirror, completely unclad, reaching up to fix her hair, exposing her trim figure quite nicely....

That was a dirty trick you played, Tempo. You don't even need to resort to such measures; you're very, very attractive in your own regards.



Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:59 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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"Tempest, at quick for action!" Tenoin Mallas Forest announced 40 solons before the jump as she had her final pre-jump briefing with the wing leaders of the 51st, Lashret Waterblade and Mazeit Hotspring who lead the 24th and 36th Battle Groups she took overall command of at Leido.

"We will enter Enedd in combat formation while expecting immediate enemy contact, we will engage or withdraw depending on the immediate enemy disposition. Our objective is to attempt to link up with elements of the Tinza sector fleet and withdraw to Nezel to mount an effective defense. Any questions?" None of them answered and Stillstorm shut down on her station as the final countdown for the Jump begun

"Tempest, jump in 16 solons!" Forest announced as Stillstorm focused herself on what was about to happen. Enedd was a very common red dwarf star, with a small and shallow gravity well that made deep jumps relatively safer but this also meant that the distances between the various jump points was only marginally longer than Leido's with everything that meant in regards to travel times. They had to deep jump into Enedd to avoid going through the defensive gauntlet that the Shells would put up at the optimal jump vector but the Shell forces that jumped into Enedd were more than enough to properly cover the inbound vector should they so wish.

"Jump in 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Jumping!" The moment of the jump came and went, the twin lurches of entering and leaving hyperspace were clearly felt but Tempest had gone through the jump flawlessly as she immediately checked her fleet's status report.

No jump loses... The relief she felt was palatable right before her attention shifted to her tactical display and the division sized formation that was 5 light solons away from them.

"Alert, Fleet! Division sized enemy formation heading towards... Nezel vector. Range five light solons. Immediate execute: Turn, accelerate and engage!" Stillstorm ordered as soon as she realized it and as one the fleet turned like a flock of birds to ravage the hapless Shell formation who's initial vector had positioned them in the most disadvantageous position imaginable, showing the rear of the formation to the enemy.

"Luck is with you Stillstorm, lets make the best of it." Waterblade reported with a smirk, not showing any further sign of dissatisfaction for being under her command for the time being. She actually had to thank Tempo for intervening in the dispute they had about overall command in Leido; the Mizol had put her admiralty backed authority to good use for once and made sure that the most experienced commander would remain in charge of the combined division sized task force for the duration of the emergency or until relieved of command by a Soshret or by Tazites Duskcrown, the Tinza sector fleet commander.

The situation was indeed fortunate, the Shell formation was at cruising speed heading for Nezel while her fleet had maintained their jump velocity and could count on their acceleration to catch up and annihilate the Shells in quick order. They saw the Shells react 20 solons later, 10 solons more than she expected; the division commander undoubtedly being caught by complete surprise. The empty husk actually pivoted their formation and prepared to engage them instead of splitting their formation and try to stall her fleet's advance with their torpedoes and gunboats; that way they would probably save at least half of their force, the Stray had done that a couple of times when in an extremely unfavorable position but the fool in charge elected to fight both against her fleet and momentum.

"Attention, Fleet. Come within optimal Pulse Cannon range and maintain the distance relative to the enemy formation." Stillstorm ordered.

It may have stronger shields, armor, torpedoes and gunboats but I have better range, accuracy and mobility; it was over the moment they pivoted. Stillstorm thought.

"Alert, Fleet. Enemy is breaking. Enemy is launching torpedoes and gunboats." Torrai Torret Arclight reported.

"Attention, Fleet. Cease acceleration and cut velocity using retro thrusters." Stillstorm ordered as she pictured the next moves of the engagement. The 24th Battlegroup under Waterblade had the center of the formation, the 36th under hotspring had the right and her 51st had the left. The van squadrons of the three groups had already been combined under Arclight and now offered the combined defensive firepower of 9 light cruisers and 14 destroyers which should have no problem in screening the main formations from the torpedo volley of a single division. The core of her fleet's firepower were the 6 surviving battleships out of the 8 she got in the battle of Leido, 3 Greatswords and 3 Halberd class ships, she would have preferred if all of them were of the new Greatsword class with its Pulse Cannons and Superheavy blasters but she had to fight with what she had available while the torpedoes and numerous heavy blasters of the Halberd weren't exactly unwelcome.

Ten heavies, plus 40 mediums in their quincux formations plus 36 more mediums as screens... Where will they try to close in to attack?

Stillstorm thought as the solons from contact slowly passed.

Should I cut loose the interceptors? I got 64 of them and with the main Shell contingent trying to slow their momentum they shouldn't come near the mediums and the heavies.

"Attention, Fleet. Interceptors are to detach and engage the approaching torpedoes and gunboats, stay clear of Van's firing lines." Stillstorm ordered and the squadrons of interceptors darted ahead to cut down the numbers of the rapidly approaching gunboats and torpedoes, meeting them halfway between the two formations. The light interceptors were in their best element there, free to shoot down the torpedoes with their laser autocannons while using their short range AMM missile to pulverize the gunboats who couldn't hope to shoot them down with their short range plasma foci. Normally the main enemy contingent would be too close for this to work since the light interceptors could not hope to engage the light mediums screening the shell fleets, and sometimes even escorted the gunboats in their assaults, without suffering massive loses to the gimlet AMM point defense missiles they carried.

The interceptors made short work of the gunboats and most of the incoming mass of torpedoes and darted away from the incoming Shell division before they would come in range.

"Open fire!" Stillstorm ordered as the Shell division came within one light solon of distance, her entire fleet firing its Pulse Cannons and Superheavy blasters in unison, scoring numerous hits to the Shell ships that were still in their breaking maneuver while the Loroi fleet effectively kept the distance stable for several solons with the use of their retro thrusters. It didn't take long for several medium class ships to be destroyed with many more damaged while the electromagnetic screens of the heavies were already at their limit when the Shells managed to shed enough momentum to finally begin closing the distance.

"Alert, Fleet. The main body of the 51st will break formation and shear the enemy from their left. Van contigent, cover the 24th and the 36th." Stillstorm ordered as she entered the maneuvering orders that would take the 51st in a leftward parabolic source that would give them ideal firing lanes as the Shells would pass by them and hopefully put her formation in the ideal position for pursuing the enemy.

"Alert, 51. The enemy is altering course to intercept your formation!" Arclight reported.

So the Shells planed to hit me... Stillstorm thought as she came up with a counter maneuver for the now rapidly approaching but battered Shell division.

"Attention, 51. New maneuvering orders." Stillstorm ordered as she entered the new maneuvering solution that would put her formation at the edge of the Shell firing lanes as the 51st accelerated to pass by them but if the Shells kept at trying to catch her then the 24th and the 36th would get ideal firing lanes to ravage them.

The Shells maintained their course in their attempt to hit Stillstorm's formation and the 51st was within plasma focus range from half of the Shell division for 43 gut wrenching solons. She felt Tempest shudder from two hits while Tsunami and Sirocco reported hits via the 51st's command network. The Shell's however paid dearly for these handful of hits as they offered their sides and rear to the combined firepower of two battle groups and their battleships. Three of their heavies simply disintegrated from a single volley from the Superheavy blasters of the Greatsword battleships while 3 more were crippled by the combined firepower of the rest of the fleet.

"Alert, Fleet. The 24th and the 36th request permission to break formation in general pursuit." Waterblade requested.

"Permission granted." Stillstorm replied. "Attention, 51. Maintain formation and keep accelerating away from the enemy. Sirroco and Tsunami, report status."

"This is Tsunami." Moonglow begun her report. "Minimal damage, port side medium blaster turret temporary inoperable due to power conduit damage, estimated time of repairs 12.000 solons."

"This is Sirocco, minor armor damage. Ship fully combat capable." Sirocco's captain reported in turn.

That was close... Stillstorm thought as she checked Tempest status reports for damage, the screens took the brunt of two hits but they held, what really bothered her was the fact that most of the shots were aimed at Tempest even when other ships offered better shots to the Shells. They were aiming for me from the start. She thought as her console reported an incoming call from... the alien. She was about to deny the call before reprimanding it for bothering her in the midst of battle before realizing it that the battle was already finished now that the two battlegroups were running down the devastated Shell division.

"Congratulations are in order for your victory Commander. I found it odd that the Shell commander chose to fight under such a disadvantageous position but it seems like they sought to knock out the enemy commander." The alien begun.

"I noticed this." Stillstorm replied dryly as her anger begun to flare up against the alien for its belief that she hadn't noticed that simple fact.

"Of course Commander. What I wanted to talk with you about is the enemy disposition in the system that I and Parat Tempo have been analyzing since we jumped in system." The alien begun as a holographic map of Enedd popped up next to his window. "As you can see there were 11 enemy divisions in the system when we jumped, 10 now with your victory. We have identified the five divisions of the supply contingent to be here, near the jump point of Leido with one more division acting as close in defense while being resupplied. Then there one division guarding the Azimol's vector, one more guarding Nezel's plus two more guarding the jump point towards Sala-128. A total of eleven divisions which would leave four unaccounted before we realized that the division we engaged here was actually among the ones that were left as rear guard on Leido as the ships matched the profiles of our records from the battle there. Furthermore, the division screening the supply contingent has been positively identified as the one that had jumped in from Sala-101 while one of the two divisions guarding Sala-128 is the last remaining division from the rear guard of Leido. This leaves seven divisions unaccounted for from the force that jumped into Enedd. It is my assumption that these seven divisions jumped to Sala-128 to destroy the Tinza sector fleet currently engaged there." Stillstorm nodded as she took all this in.

"What if they jumped at Nezel?"

"Highly unlikely, there shouldn't be enough fleet assets at Nezel to be able to both defend against a fleet of seven divisions and simultaneously launch a counter attack at Enedd yet the Shells invested one of their divisions to guard Nezel's jump point while dispatching a second one after it was fully resupplied. If they were attacking Nezel there would be no need for a defensive force of any size at its jump point while the supply contingent would be positioned closer to the jump point there in order to support the offensive instead of remaining near Leido. The two divisions guarding Sala-128 indicate that they are expecting an attack from that direction, probably in case the Loroi fleet manages to make a break for the jump point towards Enedd in the mad hope that the route to Nezel would be viable. Such a move coincides with the strengthening of the guard at Nezel's jump point just in case the Tinza sector fleet either deep jumped or managed to break through the gauntlet at the jump point here." The alien explained.

"I can't find fault with this analysis."

"Thank you commander, my tactical suggestion for the time being is to attempt to lure the defenders of the jump point towards Sala-128 away from their position in order to jump a contingent of our fleet there to both reinforce and rally any surviving Tinza sector fleet assets towards the now viable route to Nezel via Enedd." The alien concluded.

"Do you have any suggestions on how to do that?"

"I suggest we feint an attack at the resupply contingent, although heavily guarded it is a primary asset of the enemy fleet. The enemy is bound to divert assets away from guarding the jump points to Azimol and Sala-128 if they think that their lone supply life line is in any kind of danger." Stillstorm felt somewhat let down from such a straightforward stratagem coming from the alien.

"This is not exactly ground breaking tactical advice."

"It's what comes after we manage to message the fleet at Sala-128 that is the really tricky part commander." The alien said after some thought.

"What does it mean?"

"The enemy here on Enedd has to be out of position and with exhausted expendable munitions when the fleet in Sala-128 makes its breakthrough. There is only one priority target capable of diverting their attention from their standing orders, provided of course that said target manages to further infuriate the enemy commander here." The alien said with a crooked smile.

"It does realize that it will remain aboard Tempest for the duration of the battle right?"

"I never imagined otherwise commander." The alien replied.

"Is there anything else?"

"Nothing at the time being commander." The alien replied and Stillstorm closed the channel at that and rubbed her head angrily as she made some mental planning before opening a channel to the entire fleet.

"Attention, Fleet. Stand down crews from battle stations and remain in alert status. I anticipate the next engagement to take place in about 30.000 solons."

_________________
My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)


Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:43 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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Tempo sat next to Alex on his bed. The empty dishes long put aside. Both were working over Alex console which showed their prospected jump positions and as a result of their work several scenarios on enemy positions post jump.

Working hand in hand with the Parat proved fruitful, as the woman had full command of nearly all channels of information Alex could wish for. Whatever eventually he thought of, Tempo provided him quickly with all the data on it they had, while keeping up and giving her own insights.
He wondered what Gaul would have looked like if Caesar had his own Mizols.

A loud beep cut through their thougts. It sounded like a discreet firealarm. Puzzled Alex looked to Tempo.

„That's the alarm, we're jumping.“

In one smooth motion Tempo pressed him down on his bed and leaned across him pushing something on the wall.

„Is this the right time, Tempo?“ Alex said amused.

„All hands on station was given, Enzin.“ Tempo answered smiling with her hands over him. Then she pulled a belt out of the wall and across both of them. A soft click later and Tempo grabbed his hand.

„Have you ever deep jumped before?“

Alex wanted to answer no, but the disorienting force of the jump stopped him. As he felt nausea rise, his training kicked in and he started the breathing techniques they had learned. Even though he had been forewarned this time, the jump took him hard.

It took a moment for the blackness behind his eyes to clear. Guiltily he became aware of Tempos worried expression next to him. Right, she had held his hand during all of that.

„So that's what jump sickness feels like.“

„That was a bad one. Do the Loroi not feel jump sick?“

„No, Soia-Liron species don't feel any jump sickness. Let me help you.“ Tempo put her other hand softly on his forehead. The Lorois touch felt refreshingly cool. Alex felt her soft touch on his mind as well and a wave of calmness overcame him. Soon his stomach quieted.

„Wow, whatever you did, it worked.“

„A little trick fooling your body into believing everything is fine. To help you overcome it quicker.“

Alex felt grateful, but also wondered just how far Tempo could fool his body.

„Thank you, it really helped. Uh, was that a Mizol trick?“

Picking up on his worries via Sanzai Tempo answered: „Yes, it's a Mizol technique. But I did nothing more. My word of honor, Enzin.“

His relief turned around as Alex remembered that this phrase wasn't a Loroi one. Tempo managed to hold her pristine impression of herself for a long moment before she broke out in laughter both in Sanzai and audibly.

„Moio sagit, Enzin.“ she said as she unplugged the belt and stoved it away. „Let's get back to work.

The next minutes were spent watching the battle unfold. Tempo had used her security access on his console and so they received nearly all the intel in real time. Alex had once again admit repsect as he watched Stillstorm command the battle. His interest was piqued as he saw her deploy the interceptors in an aggressive manner.

„I thought Loroi interceptors are for point defense?“

Tempo explained: „Because of the losses they otherwise suffer, but they can still be a potent attacking force in the right circumstances. In the last war fighters have been our main offensive weapon.“

The rest of the battle unfolded very favourably for the Loroi. Alex was pleased to see a multitude of Umiak ships be destroyed. This deep jump had been fully succesful. As precise enemy positions came in, Alex formulated a message to Stillstorm. Some possibilities had opened and she did hire him as advisor.

After his call Tempo had already moved to lean agaisnt the wall. Her ears perked up for a bit and then she informed Alex: „That was the stand down order. We have 30.000 solon until the next engagement.“

In system travel time meant that engagements could usually be seen coming hours away, Alex knew. That made surprise difficult, but made it possible for the crew to relax in relative safety during the downtime.

„Come, Enzin. Now that you're in active combat, you need a proper uniform. I'll take you to the Gallen Lopeiladi on my way to the bridge.“

The Lopeiladi was called Hailcatcher and refreshingly professional as she took his measurements. Her white hair was an interesting contrast to her dark blue skin. Alex had the impression that he had seen her before, but he couldn't remember. Then again he had passed a lot of Loroi on the corridors in the last days.

She had already prepared a few pictures for Alex. The Loroi didn't salvage any uniforms, but they picked up the remains of some of his crewmates. Alex did his best to ignore that fact as he explained the Loroi how human uniforms looked like whole.

A bit of work from Hailcatcher and they had worked out a basic pattern. Using the colours on his orange jumpsuit as a baseline, Alex had worked around Loroi cast colours and settled on dark blue as a base and orange as a secondary colour. Beige was left for the highlights. He also left her the badge from his jumpsuit, so she could copy it onto his new uniform.

Hailcatcher assured him that his new uniform would soon be ready and delivered to his cabin in dublicate. As he turned to leave, she mentioned to him winking that after a battle many Loroi liked to take baths. With a slight blush Alex remembered the baths, Brightshield and what she had showed him.

The corridors of Tempest were abuzz with Loroi. The success in the recent battle had done much to lift spirits. Alex heard laughter around him as he walked along. It was a shame that Beryl was still on duty or he would have shared his own good mood with her.

A voice called out to him.

„Enzin!“

He turned, Talon had called to him. She sat in a group of four Loroi. One of which was Spiral and the other two he did not recognize. They all wore Tenoin uniforms, a bottle and glasses in front of them. Their hair unkempt and wild.

„Enzin, come here. We're celebrating our last sortie.“ said Talon indicating an empty chair at their table.

„I watched that. The one where you attacked?“ said Alex as he took the offered seat.

„Yes, it felt good to finally do that to the shells.“
„With zero losses as well.“ expanded Spiral, obviously content with that. She also poured him a glass of whatever they were drinking.

„Glad to hear it.“

Talon continued: „These are Tenoin Narrat Westwind and Sandraker. The newest additions to our wing.“ Both of the indicated Loroi had short hair, one brown, the other a bright orange. Each one watching him intently. By now Alex had become used to that and these two would get over his unfamiliarity.

„Nice to meet you. I'm Ensign Jardin.“ Alex took the offered glass and sniffed it. „What is this?“

„Something to wash down the taste of the liquid breathing medium.“ said Talon. „Try it, it's good.“

Alex did. At first he was careful, since Loroi food was still a minefield to him. As promised it did taste good, like wine but with something exotic he couldn't place. It left a pleasant prickling in his mouth.

As he sat and listened to the pilots talking about their exploits, one glass quickly turned into two, then three, helping along the mood even further.

Finally Spiral stood up and stretched. „I am still sticky from that breathing liquid. Let's go bath.“

That idea caught on and as Alex also felt sticky from his night, training and shift, he didn't mind being brought along.

Alex didn't even notice the looks the Loroi in the bath gave him as he followed the Tenoin into one of the pools.

The warm water relaxed him perfectly and soon he was drifting with his thoughts. From the corner of his eyes he watched Spiral and the two young Loroi have what looked to be a breath holding competition. The Loroi seemed to be a competitive bunch.

Talons head rose out of the water next to him. „Having a good time, Enzin?“

„Very, I wish human ships had such baths. You Loroi do know how to relax here.“

„We know that everywhere. It is you who spends his time with high ranking officers. You should mingle with the ranks as well.“

Talon was right, Alex supposed. He had almost zero contact with the rest of the crew. He should change that as representative of humanity.

„Now that you mention it, Spiral and you always seemed less formal, more natural than Tempo, Beryl and Fireblade.“

„High ranks, high opinions of themselfes, Enzin.“ Talon bumped into him while floating.

„Do you remember the last time we talked? Before Stillstorm barged in?“

„Sure I do, Talon. You surprised me. Don't you Loroi ever knock?“

„Knock? We have Sanzai for that. You seemed happy to see me anyway.“

„True.“ Remembering Tempos reaction to Talons arrival he continued. „I hope you didn't get punished for that by Tempo.“

She made a dismissive wave with her hand. „A stern talking to. High opinions...the usual. And it's not like Tempo could do much afterwards as Stillstorm has given me approval for an enocunter.“

Sober, Alex might have reacted differently, but today he said: „That political move of hers helped you too then.“

„That depends on you, Enzin.“

Alex turned to Talon who now was very close.

„We still have some time. Enzin, I want to call in that encounter now.“

Maybe it was the alcohol, maybe it was the hot water, but as Talon touched him, he could feel her anxiety and anticipation battling.


Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:55 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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Alex watched the play of emotions on Talon's face, but shortly after the moment he was leaning towards agreeing, she quickly settled on a look of determination, accompanied with a wordless, fierce feeling of seeing things through.

That was his only warning before Talon's lips crashed into his, she pulling her own floating body on to his.

"Uh... right here...?", Alex managed to gasp out once the separated again to catch their breaths.

"Does it matter...?", she breathed out huskily, "Every Loroi near us would know what we're up to, thanks to sanzai...."

Good point, the part of his mind that tried to keep a grip on his sanity butted in, there really seems to be no privacy for Loroi living close quarters..., his thoughts trailed off, that part of his mind quickly drowned out by his raging hormones, the sensation of her skin on his, slightly tingling, and whatever intoxicant he imbibed. Alcohol? Maybe. Something completely different? Possible.

Rational thoughts were quickly torn to pieces. Should he feel guilty about going behind Beryl's back? His human side said yes. But Tempo did advise him, almost urged him to look for other Loroi, too.

And if the grueling training he now endured himself was the reason that he was surrounded by such pleasant sights, he would not complain.

The last thing he noticed before his thoughts were washed away by a sensation of pure pleasure, coming from Talon, were that he was lucky that Spiral and... Westwind? Sandraker? Whatever... were still watching intently, but kept their distance. Because between the four of them, he wasn't sure he'd survive.

---//---

Stillstorm hated to admit it, but declaring that alien to be 'free for all', might actually turn out a boon, in retrospect, even if she had never intended something like this.

When the first blurred sanzai made its rounds - a rather vivid picture of parts of its anatomy - she noticed the influence of some intoxicant on whoever sent that one. It must be strong stuff - that picture is seriously wrong. Male parts cannot be that large, Stillstorm scoffed. Trying to pinpoint the sender, she located her to be in the baths. Of course. The hotshot fighter pilots celebrating.

She prided herself on running a tight ship, but even she quickly learned the wisdom of turning a blind eye towards the circulation of recreational substances amongst the rank and file. She had to, because the last commander who ever attempted to crack down on that with searches and seizures was faced with a ship on the brink of mutiny and herself being shunted off on to a Relay in the furthest, most desolate regions of the Union, and now served as an object lesson on the attempt on going too far when enforcing discipline.

As I said to it - I will permit the actions, as long as they don't impair crew performance.

Grudgingly she had to give it to that, if anything, it actually improved crew performance. Most notably with Fireblade who turned from 'mentally troubled, almost unfit for duty' to 'while troublesome, but in a better mental health'.

Only thing to complain would be this stupid smile Tozet Eilis now has on her lips. And now Parat Sedel. And for the latter one, she knew that she didn't mate with it. Yet.

Its suggestions, while being a bit unimaginative, were definitely sound. They made it out of this engagement with minor damages and no casualties which is definitely something to be said, given the extent of The Enemy's forces.

I have no idea what should vex me more about humans. Their Lotai, that a single officer, who seems as wet behind the ears as a warrior just passing her initiation could already give seasoned officers sound tactical advice, or that, if it tried, it could have the whole ship at its beck and call, even more so than any of our own males would be able to, she sighed.

I have given it too little credit. Put its honor and truthfulness into question. Rightly so, because it could have been a shell trick, after all. Yet, it chose to stand by us and not because of base instincts, because it said it was 'the right thing to do'. Captain Alexander Jardin, I grossly underestimated you.

She hoped that the humans as a whole would show as much moral fiber as he displayed, because if they would ever attempt to subjugate the human population, that could turn out to be much more difficult than anticipated, in addition to being a hard sell to the Loroi populace.

Focusing back on the lower decks she noticed that Tenoin Arrir Nesin must have 'gone dark', but three other Loroi did drunkenly confirm that she is indeed having a go at this alien.

Stillstorm frowned at this. Though... they were already inebriated from the very start, and if that additional activity helps to get the intoxicants out their system and return to their posts with a clear mind...

---//---

I might need to dress these, Alex thought, a set of four parallel scratches on his right shoulder blade stinging in the water.

Holding Talon's relaxed body in his arms he looked down at her face resting on his shoulder. She did fully expend herself... three times... and just now she started stirring again that very moment.

"Oh... did I hurt you?" She asked with a concerned look, but then she blinked, straightened herself and looked Alex right in his eyes.

'You... you didn't say that out loud, did you?', she sent, hestitantly and with a sensation of wonder.

Alex nodded slightly. 'I didn't', he admitted after a pause.

Talon's eyes went wide. 'HOW? When? Why? Who knows?' came her rapid-fire questions.

'Easy there... It's new for me, too. I noticed something on our way to the Relay, when Beryl started her 'experiment'. But it was not her I sensed, rather it was Fireblade. But, it was a slow going. As to the how and why... We think that my Lotai is a truly subconscious thing, and it lowers itself towards those Loroi I know and trust. And even extend itself around those I feel the need to protect.'

'You said we.' She prompted.

'Beryl, Tempo and Fireblade, I can send to. To Beryl, even without touching. Losat Brightshield found out, too. I think I might send to her, but we never tried.'

'And why me too, all of a sudden?', she asked, but it quickly dawned on her when Alex replayed bits of what happened since they entered the baths to her. 'Oh...'

'This is big', she concluded. 'Perhaps you should inform Stillstorm about these things with your Lotai before she figures it out herself', Talon sent with a worried note.

'Both Tempo and Brightshield told me to be careful about it....'

'Those two are Mizol, operating on a need-to-know base is what they do. But perhaps you're right and you should talk to them before you decide to broach the subject to Stillstorm or not'

'Geez, that'd be something to look forward to....', he sent, with a subtext denoting it as sarcasm.

'Especially if it turns out that a mating encounter could be a fast-track to open access to your mind. In that case, Stillstorm may practically pull rank and demand her turn from you, on the grounds of the security of this ship. Though I cannot fathom how that would go since you don't see eye to eye.'

Alex grinned sardonically.

'Let me tell you about the concept of angry sex...'

'Hmmmh', she purred in her sanzai, '...that sounds interesting, but let us just stay here for a moment. I can't believe it, but you wore me out, and your body heat is so relaxing....'

Well, Alex had no problem with having one satisfied sleepy deep blue space elf in his arms, half submerged in the water, even if the scratches on his back continued to sting.

---//---

'Is everything alright with you, Tozet Eilis?', came a worried sanzai from her subordinate.

'Alright... yes... now it is. Let me just gather my thoughts....', Beryl quickly answered.

I'm not sure if it is alright that I just picked up everything what they did in the baths. And his and Talon's emotions, even. I even felt him getting his back scratched by her fingernails. And... oh... here it is again....

Beryl shook her head, trying to clear her mind again, sighing. Tempo should do something, and soon. Either continuing his training so that he keeps his sanzai in check... or putting us back on same shifts.

---//---

'That was ... educational', Spiral sent with mild aplomb to Westwind and Sandraker.

'I'd never have thought that she could bend herself back that much', Westwind answered with a giggle.

Sandraker chimed in. 'Good that he moved beyond Tozet Eilis. No idea how a male could stay with a single female, it must be boring, right? Say,' she turned to Spiral, 'you were on board of that shuttle, too? Tell us everything!'

'Well, it started with Tozet Eilis actually falling into his lap when Arrir Nesin accelerated too much for the inertial dampers to compensate...'

As Spiral related her tale, Westwind's and Sandraker's gazes switched between her and Alex and Talon, still embracing each other, the latter one having a content smile on her lips. Ideas started to form in their heads.



Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:33 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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It had been some time since he last had a hangover, it had also been some time since the last time he had drunk alcohol too, but this time he was certain that the headache he was having was due to him drinking and not to any other external reason. The insistent buzzing coming from his tablet and the door didn't help with his head either but at least it got him to stand up and open the door, which revealed a seemingly annoyed Tempo the moment he opened it.

"Did I oversleep?" He asked without thinking as Tempo walked inside, barely noticing the small duffel-bag she was carrying.

"No, the next engagement will occur in about 5000 solons but the commander has called for a briefing. Her staff and the fleet's commanding officers are to attend." Tempo replied as he eyed him from top to bottom. "How was your sleep?" Tempo asked after glancing to his now empty bed.

"It was great..."

"I am glad that Arrir Talon didn't over exert you." Tempo replied with an obviously fake smile.

Damn... Talon was right that everyone would know...

"I also heard that she injured you in her intoxicated zeal."

"Injured? No, she didn't hit me." Alex replied in an instant.

"How about the scratches that she did on your shoulder blade. The scratches that she and her friends tried to cover up after they saw them?" Tempo pressed in.

"They are just scratches, they aren't an injury!"

"Her zeal while under the influence hurt a male during an encounter, that's a court martial offense." Tempo replied dryly.

"What?"

"You got to understand Enzin that our society does not tolerate such recklessness when it results in even a superficial injury to a male." She insisted.

"I can't believe this..." Alex said to himself while rubbing his forehead.

"That's the way things work for us Enzin..." Tempo begun before he grabbed her hand to connect with her via Sanzai.

"And you have to understand that I will not sit idle if Talon comes in any short of trouble for something this petty!"
He sent angrily before noticing that it was all an act from her part.

"I knew that would be the way you saw things Enzin which is why I refused to press charges when several warriors who saw the scratches on your back reported them to me. Take this as a lesson that we Loroi can sometimes be over protective of our males, in the same way I have gleamed that you humans can be over protective of your females."
Tempo sent in turn.

"I am sorry... you had me there..."
He begun to reply before noticing a hint of irritation at the back of her mind. "I guess that Fireblade doubled her winnings in the end..." He teased her and Tempos mind immediately flared up with annoyance.

"But she had already mated... She hadn't?"
Tempo managed to reply flabbergasted.

"No we hadn't..."
Alex replied, realizing his mistake a little too late.

"Then what did you do with her?"


"I would rather not say."
He replied, managing to hide the fact of the training session they had.

"I guess you resolved the personal animosity issues you had with each other then."
Tempo sent and he managed to keep his mind from bringing any thought about his time with Fireblade at the forefront. Tempo eyed him inquisitively for a few moments before pulling her hand away to break the connection.

"Be that as it may, you have to get dressed for the briefing." She told him while giving him the small duffel bag she had brought with her. "Your new bodysuits and armor. I already approved them as not having resemblance with any warrior caste pattern."

"Thanks..." Alex replied as he opened the bag and took everything out, arranging them on his bed as he did so. "Now to put this thing on..." He said out loud as he took one of the tailor made bodysuits. Thankfully the design was nearly identical with standard Loroi bodysuit which he already had some experience with so he didn't have any trouble putting it on. He had expected it to feel tight and restrictive but it actually felt snug and breathing, almost like a second skin, in fact his underwear felt more restrictive than the body suit that covered him from the neck down. Then he looked at the armor pieces and just froze in place. "Can you help me with these?" Tempo just chuckled at that but decided to help him.

"It is customary to begin wearing the chest piece. You open the armor from the side here and here and then wear it now that it is open." She showed him and he immediately followed her instructions, actually surprised with how easy it was to put on. "After putting it on you tighten it at the same spots until it is firmly locked and set. The crotch piece comes next and I see that it has been somewhat enlarged at the front for your use." Tempo continued with a mischievous smile until he was fully set up.

"How do I look?"

"You do look like a warrior now..." Tempo replied approvingly. "I don't understand the meaning of the shape for the three plate pieces that cover your stomach though. I can see the reason for the flat breasts but not these three plates."

"Hailcatcher told me that each caste has different design schemes for esoteric caste reasons, especially for the area covering the stomach. We historically never really had such concepts with our armors, the torso was universally covered from top to bottom on all armors but Hailcatcher told me that a single piece would restrict my casual movements so I remembered the decorations from ancient armors I saw where the design was designed to highlight the ideal male body. The three sets of the abdominal muscles were always highlighted on those so I figured that they would be neat to have." He replied as he remembered the discussion he had with Talon yesterday.

"I see..."

"I wanted to ask you something now that I remembered it."

"Of course."

"Does Stillstorm know about our ability to communicate via sanzai when touching and you disappear from sensing?" She raised her eyebrows in surprise at that.

"Of course she knows, all three of us reported our findings to her as it was required of us." Tempo replied. "She didn't fully accept it at first but she had to acknowledge our findings."

"Ah... I thought that it would remain a closed guarded secret for the time being." Alex replied dejectedly.

"It has remained a closed guarded secret but Stillstorm is our commanding officer and we are bound by regulations to report our findings to her." Tempo replied. "Which reminds me, did you connect with Sanzai with Talon yesterday when you... were together?"

"Yes..."

"Damn, I will have to brief her not to divulge this to anyone else as quickly as possible." Tempo replied as she went to his cabin's console.

"Wait, what did you guys say to Stillstorm about me and what you sensed?"

"Nothing personal, we described the practical details of our connections and the fact that you are indeed a telepath beneath the Lotai. This shocked her the most because it has been a long standing dream of ours to meet an other telepathic race, especially among the warriors of the prewar generations. I believe that she actually lamented the fact that our first contact with your race happened amidst such a dark time for our race." Tempo replied and he nodded before realizing that she had omitted some of the truth.

"What else does she know?" He insisted and Tempo sighed before continuing.

"Fireblade was able to confirm that everything you told us about your kind was indeed the truth as you know it, that you pose no threat to us and that you fully believe that we Loroi are the only sensible choice for your kind to ally with in this conflict. It was this report from her that convinced Stillstorm about your honesty and she confided in me that if Fireblade hadn't vouched for you then she wouldn't have even considered the possibility of you remaining aboard Tempest." Tempo replied.

"I... am glad to hear this..." Alex said while thinking about it. "Did Fireblade relay anything else?"

"Not as far as I know. Stillstorm made it clear that Fireblade wouldn't agree to reveal any personal thoughts and memories that you had; she is proud and stubborn like that which is why I thought that you had actually mated with her."

Thanks Fireblade, for keeping both mine and Beryl's dignity intact...
He thought while nodding.

"Do you have any idea why my Lotai accepted Talon as well yesterday?"

"I am certain that you opened up to all three of us because you were stressed and extremely lonely after everything that happened; you are still stressed while you knew that Talon and Spiral were the pilots that rescued you and brought you to Tempest. I was certain that you would have opened to the both of them if you had spent as much time with them as you did with the three of us in the shuttle." Tempo replied after some thinking.

"Makes sense..."

"Although, now that I think about it; Talon did go dark after you two begun mating, it could be related." Tempo replied as she begun typing in his console.

God damn it Alex! He thought at Talon replied with a sleepy looking expression to Tempo's call.

_________________
My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)


Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:44 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

Tempest's conference room was directly adjacent to the bridge, in fact its secondary exit led to the small balcony which directly oversaw the bridge; an arrangement which made Alex think that maybe the ship's class was designed to be a fleet flagship, meant to carry a fleet admiral and the extensive staff that would be required for strategic planning and coordination, not a front line warship that also served as a flagship like he thought at first. He made a mental thought to inquire about this later as he took in the quite large conference room that Tempo had lead him to.

Stillstorm was sitting at the head of the large table that denoted the middle of the room. Next to her and to the left sat Mallas Rune-Laurel, Tempest's executive officer and Stillstorm's right hand, or left hand for the Loroi, in everything that had to do with the Ship itself. Beryl sat on the seat on Stillstorm's right, she smiled at him as they entered but a quick scornful look from Rune-Laurel made her take a professional demeanor towards him. The only other one physically present in the room was Cerulean, who by the looks of things was promoted to be a Soroin Torret but from her demeanor she was still showing deference to Rune-Laurel who was sitting right next to her.

Five small holographic windows floated in front of Stillstorm, he couldn't exactly make out details from the angle he was looking at but he was fairly certain that all five of the officers depicted on them were of the Torrai caste, the leadership caste Stillstorm belonged to. Alex could swear that they were in the middle of a discussion right before they entered, a discussion that must have came to an abrupt halt right before he and Tempo arrived. All the Loroi looked at him as if they were appraising him, Rune-Laurel couldn't exactly hide her dissatisfaction about him while Stillstorm's expression betrayed nothing as their gaze's met for a passing moment. The only one who seemed pleased to see him, bar Beryl who was momentarily cowed into a sense of professionalism was Cerulean who he hadn't seen for several days already.

Without talking Tempo gestured for him to sit at a chair near the head of the long table, at the side Beryl sat but a seat away. He sat where he was instructed and Tempo sat between him and Beryl who obviously struggled not to look dissatisfied with the arrangement.

"So, won't you show us the 51st's new good luck charm Stillstorm?" An unfamiliar voice was heard and Stillstorm looked at Beryl for a moment before Beryl nodded and inputted a command to the console in front of her. A moment later a pair of holographic windows opened up in front of him. "Yes... the alien male who came up with the deception of Gora Relay. He does look like a warrior." The same voice that spoke earlier came from the window to the left; she was a Torrai Lashret with, dark blue skin, long cyan hair and emerald green eyes. The other window showed a Torrai Mazeit with straight red hair, nearly pale white skin and yellow eyes much like Talon's.

"Captain Jardin allow me to introduce you the commanders of the 24th and 36th Battlegroups: Torrai Lashret Memanol of the 24th whose name means Water blade and Torrai Mazeit Doionimii of the 36th whose name means Hot spring." Tempo announced.

"Pleased to meet you, I am Captain Alexander Jardin, ambassador and military attache of the Terran Colonial Authority to the Loroi Union. I have currently assigned myself as a member of Lashret Stillstorm's command staff for the duration of this emergency." He replied with the most professional looking demeanor he could master, he even caught Stillstorm looking at him approvingly at that.

"It seems like Stillstorm is finally looking to secure a promotion, either that or she wants your luck and masculine wiles all for herself." Lashret Waterblade replied with a mischievous if not borderline malicious grin. "After all she was the first to request and approve for a personal encounter with you." He caught Stillstorm fight back an extremely annoyed look after that jab at her.

"My relationship with Lashret Stillstorm has been strictly professional, certainly strained at times due to personal and cultural differences but always professional. I owe her and her subordinates my life and I have sworn to aid her in all manners I am professionally able to." Waterblade was obviously taken aback at that and was at a loss for words when he finished.

“Now to continue with the briefing…” Stillstorm begun to say but Mazeit Hotspring interjected.

“One moment if you will, Commander. I have been anxious to talk with Captain Jardin about his stratagem at Gora Relay; I have read the reports from the officers who executed it but I haven’t read or heard his own thoughts about how he came up with it and I believe that we have plenty of time before the next engagement so he can lay it out for us.” Stillstorm seemed momentarily annoyed at that but she was certainly overcome by her curiosity in the end, like everyone else in the room.

“An interesting request, if you will be kind Captain Jardin.”

“Of course, Commander.” Alex replied as he gathered his thoughts and recalled the events from Gora Relay.

“It may sound weird, if not cowardly, but my primary objective was for me and everyone aboard Gora Relay to survive. Physics being what they are it was obvious that there was no way for anyone to escape without their shuttles being run down by the Shell fleet after the station was destroyed. Surrender was of course out of the question and simply running away with all the speed the shuttles could manage was impossible. I then tried to picture what the enemy commander wanted and how best their objectives could be fulfilled, simply abandoning the station for them to capture was not a valid solution, even if the station’s crew were able to agree to such a course of action at the first place, the enemy could easily dispatch even a handful of medium vessels to intercept and destroy the fleeing shuttles while steering clear from such an obvious ruse. What needed to happen was to somehow switch the enemy commander’s objective from an offensive to a defensive one by tricking them into believing that Commander Stillstorm would certainly aim to attack something even under the most unfavorable circumstances; Commander Stillstorm’s fleet was after all a primary threat and target for the enemy but she wouldn’t engage them under such impossible conditions.” Alex explained.

“So the bait for the enemy to act as you wanted wasn’t the station itself but the whole fleet?” Lashret Waterblade exclaimed in surprise.

“Of course, in the mind of the enemy commander merely capturing the station intact was a welcome bonus but not critical enough to concentrate the entirety of the force around it and let an easy and possibly valuable target like the shuttles run away. They needed to believe that Commander Stillstorm would take every ship available to her and rush to destroy the station no matter the cost. If they believed that, they would concentrate the entirety of their fleet around the station in order not to defend but to actually batter if not outright destroy the fleet and the commander that had caused them so much trouble.”

“So the whole charade was to convince the Shells that Stillstorm would risk everything in a mad attack to destroy the station?” Waterblade continued.

“Yes.”

“You must have realized by now that you had actually convinced everyone on the fleet that everything we saw was real?” Hotspring asked.

“I believed that the Commander herself wouldn’t be fooled into believing that Loroi warriors would break faith even at the direst of circumstances. I understood later that inherent Loroi honesty actually convinced even her in this regard, especially since we took such measures to present the image of a successful mutiny, a defenseless station ready for capture and a plea to the Commander’s honor to atone for the transgressions of her subordinates. Parat Tempo had voiced concerns about this possibility and had even advised on somehow warning Commander Stillstorm about the nature of the trick but I disagreed, the enemy needed to be fully convinced that what they were witnessing was what we wanted them to believe to be real and even the interception of a small unrelated message before or even during our little show could instill doubts about everything putting the operation at risk.” Alex explained.

“The whole plan was extremely risky…” Waterblade begun. “What if the enemy had managed to deactivate the station’s self-destruct sequence or had sent even a single medium vessel to intercept you?”

“It was a calculated risk. The station’s engineers swore that they had put so many hidden redundancies in the self-destruct system that even they wouldn’t be able to deactivate it once triggered and I believed that the enemy commander wouldn’t send anything after us, not only because they wanted the entirety of their force available against the Commander’s assault but also because they knew that the shuttles had no place to run to after that point. No ship to pick us up anywhere nearby and no place to hide; they could take their time in sending a pursuit and perhaps they could even convince the mutineers to actually surrender once all hope was gone.” Alex replied.

“Are all human stratagems rife with such deception?” Hotspring asked.

“One of the oldest human military maxims about the art of war is that all war is deception. To deceive the enemy about your true abilities and intent weakens them and strengthens you; to deduce the enemy’s intent and abilities weakens them and strengthens you; to accomplish both is to ensure victory before the fight has even started. There are many humans who find the concept distasteful in favor of an honest upstanding fight but human history would be vastly different if even half of the warriors who sought to fight and win fairly were actually victorious.” Alex explained before realizing that everyone bar Stillstorm and Tempo was looking at him with an incredulous expression; Tempo seemed to be actually proud while Stillstorm seemed to be satisfied about something.

“That’s an interesting way of approach to warfare Captain Jardin.” Tempo said after a few moments. “But I believe that we have delayed the briefing more than enough already.”

“Indeed.” Stillstorm said as the two windows for Waterblade and Hotspring in front of him closed while a holographic overlay of the tactical map appeared over the table. “I have already discussed this matter with Lashret Waterblade and Mazeit Hotspring, my intent is to punch the 24th and the 36th Battle groups into Sala-128 both to reinforce the Tinza fleet and to inform them that the route back to Nezel is viable. To do this I have set the fleet into an intercept course with the Shell resupply contingent in order to see if the Shells would pull out one or even both of the divisions that guard the Sala-128 jump point in order to protect it. So far the Shell commander has diverted the division guarding the Azimol jump point as well as one of the divisions from Sala-128.” The icons of the seemingly stationary supply contingent and the two divisions that vectored towards it were highlighted at that.

“I intend to avoid fully engaging the lone division screening the Shell supplies by diverting our approach and accelerating away after the enemy launches their torpedoes; instead we will turn towards the division rushing in from Nezel. The unified Van formation will be covering the fleet from torpedoes and gunboats as it maneuvers to avoid them and we will pivot our formation for a single Pulse cannon volley if the main formation of Shells gets within range before we open up the range with our superior acceleration.” The tactical map depicted an accelerated simulation of the engagement as Stillstorm spoke.

“About 6.000 solons later we should be coming in range of the division rushing in from Sala-128. We will break the formation in its three distinct groups and change our vectors about 100 solons before the Shells launch their torpedo barrage. The 24th will aim to go below and to the left of the Shell formation, the 36th will aim for a parabolic course to the right of the Shell division as if aiming to rake the sides and rear of the formation. The 51st will aim to rise above the formation. Our intent is to pass through them without engaging but the Shells will aim their entire division at one of our formations, most probably the 51st as they have done so already to their own detriment. If the Shells aim for the 51st the 24th and the 36th are to engage with long range pulse and blaster fire with minimum alterations to their vectors while the 51st will nullify the torpedoes by having them follow us in a stern chase and shooting them down as they get close. If the Shells seek to engage either the 24th or the 36th then the 51st will close the distance and attempt to break the assault with a close range Blister barrage while the 24th and the 36th support each other and the 51st with pulse and blaster crossfire.” The tactical display stopped at that and immediately altered itself to a new simulation.

“I fully expect that the enemy will aim for the 51st in this pass; in which case the fleet will remain split in squadrons after we pass through them as we all accelerate towards the final division that guards the jump point to Sala-128. This time the 51st will rush ahead and attempt to engage the Shell division in earnest from above their formation’s plane. If they remain stationary or pursue one of the battle groups then all three of our formations are to pummel them with everything we have in the crossfire, if they elect to accelerate towards and engage the 51st then the 24th and the 36th are to enter the jump vector and jump towards Sala-128 immediately.” Stillstorm concluded.

“That’s a lot of assumptions in place commander.” Alex commented. “I know that the Shells have placed your strike group as a priority target and rightfully so but the division guarding the jump point towards Sala-128 will surely be under orders to remain on station and defend the jump point at all costs. Furthermore, they can easily have the two battle groups abort the jump by splitting their formation and have them engage all three groups at the same time while a pursuit force closes in.”

“The Shells may be a lot of things Captain Jardin but they are not fools unable to understand physics, a stationary division against our guns is a destroyed division. We have the speed and the long range firepower advantage and I fully intend to attack said formation from multiple sides at the same time if their commander insists on keeping them stationary and leashed to the jump point. This isn’t like their supposed defense of the Gora Relay where they knew that our objective was to destroy the station and their ships were only secondary targets to that; they were waiting for us and they would move to intercept us the moment we could no longer alter our approach. This time they will know that we fully intend to destroy that formation because it offers an ideal target while slaved to the jump point. Ideally they would split that formation and engage all three of our groups at the same time but I have only ever seen one Shell commander do that and that one was the Stray. The Shells have maintained the division as the standard maneuvering battle formation for the duration of the war, I used to think of this doctrine as foolish because the way they use their divisions is unwieldy and clumsy but it offers unparalleled offensive and defensive capabilities when used correctly. The Shells will move to engage our formations as one, that’s what they have always done to a fault, they won’t sit idly to die in vain; they will attack us relentlessly and they will destroy us if we make a single mistake in our maneuvering solutions.” Stillstorm explained with palatable annoyance.

“I understand that your analysis is one born from experience commander but I have to remind you that we won’t be given a second chance to reinforce Sala-128 once the enemy realizes that this was our objective.” Alex replied.

“If you have any suggestion on how to improve our odds then this is the time to voice it.” Stillstorm replied dryly.

“I cannot really find any feasible way to improve on your chosen course of action commander.” Alex replied while the image of a bullfight came to his head. “Perhaps if we could somehow anger the enemy commander, to enrage them to the point of them making mistakes in their pursuit of destroying this fleet.”

“We have destroyed 4 of their divisions the past few days, if they aren’t angry enough already then nothing will ever anger them.” A familiar voice was heard from one of the five holographic windows in front of Stillstorm. “It’s not like we can make them hear Mazeit Rolori’s constant whining about everything being the result of luck.”

“In the case of Torret Bilolenara everything is the result of extensive cheating.” Another familiar voice replied. “But things have been looking well for all of us ever since Tempest picked up her new lucky charm.”

Stillstorm scowled at the small holographic windows in front of her and as if in queue the two Torrai officers stopped their seemingly friendly banter.

“It is true that Commander Stillstorm has deeply embarrassed the enemy commander both in Leido and in Enedd; Shells being what they are the commander is certainly stressed and angry at her, they are universally humble to a fault but they are extremely proud of the Hierarchy and their Fleets. Perhaps a message from Stillstorm herself bemoaning the inability of the famed Khalkha divisions to put up a fight like the Stray had promised her will further anger the Shells.” Tempo added at that.

“Perhaps such an insult will get across to the Shells.” Stillstorm commented.

“Is there a possibility of the enemy commander actually replying to such a message?” Alex asked.

“No, the Stray sometimes likes to taunt us and trick us by communicating with us but other Shells rarely do so.” Tempo replied.

“Unfortunate, I had noticed a diagram of a ship behind the Stray during his transmission back on Naam; if the Shell commander here in Enedd replied we could perhaps identify what ship they are on, if not from the source of the message then from whatever we could infer from the message itself.” Alex said after some thought.

“Clues like that are what I look for during engagements Captain Jardin, identifying the enemy flagship has always been a priority.” Tempo replied.

“Of course but perhaps they will do a mistake if they get angry, identifying which formation the enemy commander is in would be a boon in and onto itself. They have made Commander Stillstorm and Tempest a priority after all, it would be great if we could return the favor.”

_________________
My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)


Thu Jul 19, 2018 12:45 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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„That will be your task then, Captain Jardin.“ Stillstorm cut in. „Work out a message which we will send to the shell commander. Tozet Beryl and Lozat Brightshield will assist you in that.“

Neither Beryl or Tempo were particularly happy about that, Alex saw. Tempo was more taken back, while Beryl looked very upset. Something that Stillstorm ignored.

„Shouldn't I give my expertise on Ikkukhak, Commander?“ a surprised Tempo asked.

„No, I need you to make sure communications and intel of SG51 is pristine before we engage in direct communication., Parat. Beryl and Brightshield have cooperated quite well in the past, I have heard.“

Having said that, Stillstorm adressed the whole room inclusively the three Loroi that were still on call. „Is everything clear?“

After she had received the acknowledgment, Stillstorm unceremoniously stood up and left the room. Leaving behind Beryl, Tempo and Alex.

Tempo made to leave as well: „I better get started. Brightshield will be here soon.“

As soon as her back was turned to them, Beryls head snapped around straight towards Alex. A big, captivating smile spread on her face. The glint in her eyes reminding Alex painfully how long they hadn't seen each other. To Alex great relief, she didn't seem at all angry about Talon.

Alex couldn't find any words and so reached out with his hand for hers. Before their fingers could touch however, a voice tore through his fixation.

„Tozet Beryl, introduce us to this alien already.“

Another voice: „We are very curious to meet it after the chatter it has caused.“

Their staring once more broken up, Beryl returned to her console and punched in a few commands. Three small windows appeared in front of Alex, each window showed a Torrai. He remembered that he had seen these Loroi already in the battle in Naam. These were the sub commanders of SG51, each one had a wing under them Alex knew.
All three mustered him with intense curiosity. Alex recognized the one with blue hair and braids as a Torrai Mazeit. The other two were both Torrets, one with white hair, the other with a wild, pink mane.

The Mazeit spoke first: „Torrai Mazeit Moonglow, left wing.“ Her expression made Alex wonder what she had expected. He couldn't quite decide whether she was disappointed or amused.

The white haired one introduced herself: „Torrai Torret Ashrain, right wing.“ with the most curiosity of the three.

The last woman said with stern professionalism: „Torrai Torret Arclight, van squadron.“

„I am pleased to meet you all, I am Captain Alexander Jardin from the Terran Colonial Authority. I have already read of the impressive service record of SG51 and their Torrets.“ replied Alex cordially.

„It doesn't look like in the videos.“ came Moonglows abrupt judgement.

„From Tozet Beryls face, he looks exactly like in the videos, comrade.“ bickered back Ashrain.

Alex could only hope that they were talking about some official video and not what had circulated from his time on Gora Relay. Luckily, Arclight saved him from finding out with her next question.

„Captain, what has made you choose SG51 instead of a position as ambassador?“

Grateful to pass the awkward moment, Alex launched into an explanation.
„Captains, it is true, my mission is to make diplomatic contact. But it is also to make the best possible impression. Since Loroi are the natural choice for allies compared to the Umiak, helping in whatever small capacity I can in your war effort seemed the prudent choice. To be frank, my talents make me more suited for a tactitian than an ambassador anyway.“

„So we all heard, Captain. You have made the right choice staying with SG51 if you want to prove yourself.“ This time it was Ashrain that answered. He didn't like what her intonation implied of what she had heard of him as an ambassador.

„I am looking forward to work with you all in the future, Captains.“

It was Moonglows turn to speak: „I invite you to a drink on our success in battle the next time we are in port, Captain.“

Ashrain cut in: „If it's success in battle he'll be drinking to, he will have to do that with me.“

„If your luck holds, Black Razor.“

„My luck might not, but my skills will, Tsunami.“

Alex saw a silent understanding pass between the two Torrais. This new bet had squashed his hopes for an official video. The last thing Alex saw as Beryl cut the link was Arclight rolling her eyes in annoyance. Hadn't Beryl told him that Sanzai didn't work between ships? Now everybody in the fleet seemed to know about him being drunk.

Alex decided that these troubles could wait until SG51 actually was in port. He would have to find some way to get out of this representative function of his. Now that they were alone, Beryl was more important.

„Beryl...I've missed you.“ said Alex as he leaned in closer.

„I've missed you too, Enzin.“

„Uh, you aren't angry with me about Talon?“

She looked a bit surprised: „Angry, Enzin? No. You just made me jealous by sending it all directly to me. You tease!“

He had sent direclty to Beryl while busy with Talon? The implication made him halt, his lips inches from hers.His conscience filled with guilt. While he was still thinking of something to say, he heard the door open. A sound that made both of them jerk upright again.

„I see you have already put your head together and started on the most pressing issue.“ Brightshield stood in the doorframe. She wore her uniform this time, but the light flooding in behind her still accentuated her form quite nicely. He was painfully aware of the poisoned stare Beryl gave the other Loroi. For her part Brightshield seemed rather upbeat as she strolled into the room.

„Lozat Brightshield, I am pleased to see you on duty this time.“

„As I am pleased to see you well rested and full of energy, Tozet Beryl.“

With a voice as clear as ice Beryl said: „If there are no diversions, the agreed upon task should be a quick matter, Lozat Brightshield.“

„It is not my intention to take up all of Enzins valuable time, Tozet Beryl. Let us start.“

After this rocky start, the three of them managed to work out a decent message pretty quickly. Brightshield proved to be a veritable expert on Umiak psychology and the examples of communication Beryl pulled out of the archives proved equally invaluable. Still their duel they lead with barbed remarks wore Alex out. As they had finished a message, both Brightshield and Beryl nearly immediately split. With a quick reminder to eat something before the battle started, Beryl excused herself and returned to her usual duties. Alex grapped his data pad and left to find Stillstorm.


Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:52 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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Alex would never openly admit it, but he was relieved to get away from the two Loroi.

Gods, he fell for Beryl, hard and fast, but if anyone said that Loroi wouldn't feel jealousy would be in for a rude wake up call. Culturally, they might frown on one woman hogging a single man - or one man reserving himself for a single woman, but whoever thinks they'd take polygyny in stride if they have the choice, might be sorely mistaken.

And Loroi females can be as vengeful and petty as a human woman, he added.

Sure, both Beryl and Brightshield kept themselves to the task at hand - formulating a message that has a high probability to be heard by the Shells, but would be infuriating enough to goad them into actions they wouldn't consider with a clear mind - but even he noticed the tension between them thick enough to cut with a knife.

And the constant sniping. They never crossed the line to outright insulting, but while sociologists would find the interaction between the two Loroi intersting, Alex was quickly worn out.

Note to self - keep them separate for the time being.

Feeling a pang of guilt for putting Beryl into that place, he tried sending to her.

'I'm sorry.'

He thought he felt surprise coming from her, but then a reassuring thought.

'Don't be. I have no idea why Tempo hoisted that...', here Alex missed the word, but he got the idea that it was not a nice one, 'on to us. I know I agreed to sharing, after all, this is expected of us, but...', she trailed off.

'I understand what you mean.'

Mollified, Beryl sent him an image of her and Alex in a close embrace, kissing, causing Alex to respond.

'Uh.... let's stop here before we get carried away...? We're expected on duty, after all.', he interjected.

He felt her wistful sigh, before she gathered her thoughts and then the fleeting impression of a promise, before she turned away, leaving Alex alone in his mind again.

Now... let's see what Stillstorm has to say to this message...

Just on a hunch, he tried it with a query on his tablet, and surprisingly, it didn't brush him off but dutifully reported Stillstorm to be in the ready room, as well as the shortest path to said room.

Huh. Perhaps she thought it best rather than me bugging the whole bridge crew about her whereabouts.

Alex felt a bit self-conscious on making his way to the ready room alone. The Loroi he passed gave him a few pointed glances and some raised eyebrows, but no one commented aloud.

Thankfully.

Arriving at the door, he hestitated. Does she know what a knock means? Better than barging in unannounced...

Given that Loroi could sense most alien minds, even if not talk to them, the concept of a door chime didn't even take hold after they encountered other species, Alex thought with a chagrined expression and gave the door two sharp raps with his knuckle.

He heard something stirring, then a clear "Enter!" in Stillstorm's voice.

Blanking the display of her console, she stood up and gave Alex a measured glance. "It seems we need to get used to some procedures. This sound you produced on the door - I had to ask Parat Sedel what it could mean."

That's quite an admission, coming from her.

"Without sanzai ... or the practical use of it...", Alex quickly amended after seeing Stillstorm's glare, "we had to go for different means to communicate and convey intents. Like entering the semi-private space of a superior officer."

"True. We will address this later."

What the hell does that mean? Alex's mind interjected.

"But for now, let's see to that message you thought up?", with that, she reached back to the console, typed in a few commands and brought the message on screen - both in Ikkukhak and its translation in Trade.

Their script looks vaguely like Cuneiform... Babylonian or Mesopotamian... Early influences? Not sure of I should tell Tempo or Stillstorm about it. Beryl, maybe...

"I see what you did there...", Stillstorm mused, "It is less an insult to personal honor, and as they derive their self-worth from their place in the Hierarchy, this is geared to place doubt on being the commander of an invading force being the rightful place for them. 'Just worthy enough for waste disposal', do I read that right?"

Stillstorm went over the rest, then nodded, with ... a slight smile on her lips.

"I admit, I am impressed. You and Losat Lomileilar do seem to have a good grasp on how to rile up the shells. I presume the more ... colourful ... additions in this missive came from you?"

"Uh... yes... Pardon me for saying this, but this needed a touch to play on their emotions, rather their intellect. You are a passionate people, that much I learned", here Stillstorm gave him quite a sharp glance telling him that she has a good idea how he learned that bit, "but in your communications you tend to remain factual and collected, to emulate the inherent truthfulness of sanzai. Here, we needed a different tack."

"I see what you mean. After all, I did ask for your participation especially to get an outsider's .... and alien view on things. I see you omitted the incident around the Gora Relay. Why?"

"For now, The Enemy might not have realized that this 'mutiny' was just staged. They still might think that it was the real deal, not a deception. While we might not pull the same trick again, we have a better chance of pulling something similar on them a second time rather than laying out the ruse to them just for the sake of gloating."

"Understandable. Is deception really that big of a part in human warfare?"

"Depends on who you ask. There are human cultures who have an approach to it much like your Teidar - meet The Enemy with superior force - and others do have a more Mizol-like approach. As in, why use a hammer when a dagger does the same job? Me, I have a rather simple maxim."

"As in?", Stillstorm was genuinely interested.

"Simple. Hit them where it hurts most. Then hit them again. And again while they still try to find out what the frak is going on. If they adapt, change tactics and hit them again. Keep them unbalanced. Death by a thousand cuts."

Stillstorm furrowed her eyebrows. "Crude language aside, that really worked?"

Alex grinned. "Well enough to earn me a reprimand from an officer in charge for my 'unorthodox' approach, but ... we won."

It took a while for Stillstorm to process his words, but then she broke out in laughter.

"Point well made", she answered, after regaining her calm, "So, by your estimate, when would be best to send this piece of work?"

"We may need to decide on the spot. Too early, and the shells may regain their composure before deciding on how to proceed. Too late, and they may feel themselves committed to their actual course and won't change it for whatever reason."

"Then it falls upon you, Losat Lomileilar and Parat Sedel to know the right moment."

"Understood."

Stillstorm hestitated, and Alex got the feeling that there might be something else on her mind, but it may need some prompting. "Am I dismissed?"

"There is ... another matter I wish to discuss. I have already confirmation from several sources that you actually managed to lower your Lotai for select Loroi?"

Uh oh..., Alex thought with a feeling of impending doom.

"Yes. But it is a subconscious thing. It happened with those who I inherently trust.... or ... well.... maybe had an encounter with."

"I presume this includes all those Loroi who 'went dark' to our senses on occasion?", she asked, with a hint of distaste in her voice.

"Yes, that's correct", he sighed.

"I want that as well." Stillstorm flat-out stated.

Wait, WHAT?, Alex thought flabbergasted.

"Do not act that surprised. Even you must see the advantages of having a direct connection via sanzai, and if The Enemy manages to hide from our Farseers, it is safe to assume that they may detect us as well. Even if your Lotai can hide just one other person, that is more than we ever achieved."

"Uh... you know that this requires a lot of trust and we didn't see eye to eye from the very start...?", he interjected hestitantly.

"I know well enough, but you named yourself the other possible method of including me in that selected group and your Lotai. As far as I remember, the official grant for a mating encounter I signed is still valid, and you actually agreed to it. You wouldn't go back on your word, would you?"

And I joked with Talon about angry sex. Someone, somewhere in this universe must have been listening and is currently having a big laugh at my expense.

Though..., another part of his mind butted in, I did tell Fireblade, she isn't unattractive.



Sat Jul 21, 2018 12:51 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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Desperate for some way to give his brain time to adjust to Stillstorms sudden change in demeanour, Alex stalled.

„The advantages are ...plain to see, Commander.“ he tried while concentrating on not staring.

Stillstorm mustered him with a sidelong glance from head to toe, making Alex feel like a cut of meat on display.

„They are. I was right then to assume from your choice of uniform for one, that you prefer blue.“

Thinking of his uniform made him think of the TCA. Alex could only imagine what kind of legal nightmare this whole situation would be under human regulations. Once again he prayed that the finer details of first contact between Loroi and humans would be kept out of the history books. But that line of thinking at least offered him a possible way out.

„Uh, I am pleased that you like my new uniform, Commander, but I need to inform you that the colours are derived from human uniforms which I did not design.“

„Was your choice of bath partner also derived from humanity customs?“ she said, showing a sly smile.

„Well, Arrir Talon asked very nicely, Commander and I was uh...tipsy at the time.“

„Tipsy, Captain?“ Stillstorm asked round eyed.

„Slightly drunk, Commander.“ explained Alex, glad that the immediate topic had drifed away from mating. He was puzzled as he saw Stillstorm lean back in her chair, her usual harsh expression having returned.

„Then you admit to having drunk in a contested system, Captain. That's all I needed to hear.“

Alex thinking once again ground to a halt at this. The Loroi before him looked very pleased with herself and entered a few things on a console.

„This whole talk about mating was just to make me fess up to drinking?“

„I take discipline very seriously, Captain. You have seen my cabin. Enemy contact is imminent.“

„I understand, Commander. I know that this wasn't my proudest moment. It will not happen again.“ said Alex with conviction.

„I know, Captain.“ answered Stillstorm.

After a few seconds of silence, a reliefed Alex spoke again. „I must say Commander, you really had me there. I thought Loroi to be always direct and truthful. Your trick caught me totally by surprise.“

Stillstorm barked out a sharp laugh as an answer. Then she fixed Alex up with a stare.

„That was payback for making me belief it really wanted an ecnounter with me after Gora Relay. So I gave it some ideas of my own to consider, too. A simple matter since the advantages of Sanzai with perfect Lotai are apparent.“

Stillstorm had just admitted to having such thoughts about him, realised Alex. Thoughts, she knew, he'd also now have and couldn't act upon without looking like an ass. Strange how this Loroi time and again managed to make him feel played.

Without waiting for Alex, she continued: „After the conclusion of the next battle it will report to Gallen Bastobar Wavecrest. She is responsible for Tempests water filtration and informed me that somebody introduced foreign contaminants into the system. It can consider that its reprimand for drinking.“

That sounded fair to Alex. Had he been sober, he would have taken Talon to his cabin. Getting a stern talking to from a Gallen didn't sound so bad for what amounted to a serious breach of conduct. A human commander wouldn't have been so lenient. Which made Alex suspect he was being played again.

„Yes, Commander. Is there anything else?“ replied Alex.

„Just one thing, Captain. I pride myself on running an excellent ship. I can rely on my officers because they all fulfill the high bar set out for them. If you want there to be trust between us, show me that you do too. Even if you are humanity.“

No trickery there, judged Alex. This was Stillstorm laying out things between them very plainly. Just prove to one of the most distinguished Commanders that humans can measure up to some of the highest standards in the Loroi fleet. No pressure, Alex.

„I will not disappoint you, Commander.“ said Alex.

„Good, then find Parat Tempo now. She should be done and will need to know about this message.“


Last edited by Werra on Sun Jul 22, 2018 1:25 am, edited 2 times in total.



Sat Jul 21, 2018 5:15 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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It wasn't hard for Alex to find Tempo, who was still busy running tests on the ship's security system with some of her assistants, nor was it hard to have her agree on the general gist of the taunting message and the fact that it had to be sent at the right time for maximum effect. The engagement with the Shell division wasn't hard either, having gone exactly as Stillstorm had predicted; with the Loroi fleet avoiding coming into range after the enemy division wasted a volley of torpedoes and even lost a dozen or so gunboats and a couple of medium vessels when they got within Pulse cannon range.

No, the really hard part was dealing with Gallen Bastobar Wavecrest who was beyond furious, she immediately sat him down in front of a workbench and shoved about a dozen or so industrial sized water filters in front of him; each and every last one of them being covered with a hairy, putrid and nasty smelling black goo that had even fully solidified itself on some of the filters. That's when the rant started.

"Not only do I have to constantly refurbish the water filters and the recyclers because they have stopped producing the parts to simply replace them, I also have to constantly remind the idiotic mob that is the crew of Tempest to properly pre-bathe, use the proper shampoos and soaps that don't clog up the piping, yell at them that the drains are not supposed to be filled with their stupid hair and also remind them where the proper shitter is but no, that wasn't enough of a workload for me; I now have to contend with an idiotic alien male who doesn't know that he has to release himself INSIDE a female; not outside in the water where it would trigger a dozen unknown biological contamination alarms which was the reason why the system automatically cutoff the drinking water supply for 1000 solons because it thought that foreign bacteria had somehow contaminated the entire water supply!" Wavecrest yelled angrily at him as she showed him how to scrape off the fresh goo from the filters and how to break off the solidified parts to reveal the true horror that was within the fist sized filters themselves.

"Of all the people on this ship only Stillstorm understands how to keep herself clean while not leaving a dirty mess behind her! I haven't had to clean the plumbing of her personal shower for 5 tozons and it is still as pristine as if it was new!" She ranted as the two of them cleaned up the mess that were the filters.

"This can't be all my fault." Alex protested without thinking after a while and regretted it immediately.

"Of course not you retarded oversized male! Tempest now has a crew of over 800, if you were the only one messing things up I would be out of a job! No, you are just the latest in the unending line of morons who only look at the surface of everything and not how it is actually maintained!" He shut up after that as the obviously overworked technician kept ranting while working. It must have taken them about one and a half hours to clean the filters to a state that satisfied the angry technician before they both went to the inner passages of the ship to install them; to his horror Alex realized that they hadn't cleaned even a quarter of ship's filters as Wavecrest had just picked the water junctions whose filters needed to be replaced and they had just cleaned a few of the extra filters she had available so she could do that.

Despite everything Wavecrest seemed saddened when they were done, he wondered if this was because of her ranting at him to such an unending degree or because she wouldn't be getting any further assistance for the day; in the end he erred in the side of politeness in his farewell. Telling her that he would take care in the baths from now on; she just scoffed and replied irritably that she had already corrected the system and that his seed wouldn't be triggering any further alarms because males were always going to be males no matter the circumstances.

The next engagement happened soon after he cleaned his hands from the work he had just done; once again it went exactly like Stillstorm had planned. The whole division trying to intercept the 51st while taking long range fire from the two battle groups; the Shells once again losing a handful of medium vessels in the process. He was about to check an idea he had about identifying the formation that contained the enemy flagship when his personal datapad alerted him of Ragan Razorthorn's scheduled daily training regime that was about to begin.

The Teidar was giddy when he reached her and he soon realized that this was because they would be having a hand to hand self defense class with several other warriors. Thankfully he had paid close attention to the academy's self defense classes; he wasn't a master by any standard but he was fairly certain that he wasn't going to embarrass himself until he realized that Loroi were just a strong as men the first time he tried to hold back and ended with his back on the sparring mat. He didn't repeat that mistake twice and thankfully he ended the mock fights standing far more often than not, earning a begrudging nod of approval from Razorthorn when the class was over.

The fleet was fast approaching the Sala-128 jump point when he finally returned to the bridge, he turned to find Beryl so he could run the idea he had through her but she wasn't on bridge duty anymore, in her stead was an other orange haired Listel Tozet he had last seen in Naam while Fireblade was sitting at the station next to hers. He nodded at Fireblade and walked up to the Listel.

"Excuse me, I would like to run a few things through you regarding the enemy fleet's disposition." Alex said to draw her attention and after a quick introduction they went to work with what he had in mind. He realized quickly that Tozet Antimony didn't have Beryl's cheerful outlook and seemed professionally aloof but she quickly caught on what he had in his mind.

Something in the Shell fleet's movements had bothered him from when the fleet jumped in, especially the movements of the division that was guarding the Azimol jump point. As the closest formation to the Loroi fleet that division should have reacted the earliest to the sudden arrival and the one sided destruction of the lone division that had found itself at the wrong place at the wrong time but they didn't react until well after the fact. What he needed to do was to triangulate the positions of the various divisions throughout the system and account for the light time lag in order to deduce when the enemy commander gave the orders to move and most importantly where they were at the time. This could easily be done by taking the time required for the light of the fleet's arrival to reach the other enemy divisions in the system and then deduce the time it would take for orders sent from each of these divisions to reach the more distant formations.

In the end there were only two formations that were in the right distances that matched with the actions of the division that guarded Azimol and those were the two divisions that guarded the Sala-128 jump point and since one of those two divisions had been left behind as a rear guard in Leido that left the other one as the most likely flagship formation since the overall commander of the force would always remain with the core of their unit, they wouldn't remain as a rear guard nor would they jump off to Sala-128.

“Did you find something interesting Captain Jardin?” Tempo asked as he and Antimony finally realized that the lone division they were heading too probably contained the enemy flagship. “The flag division?”

“Yes, it is the only possible explanation when we take the movements of the division stationed at Azimol and the light speed time lag for detection and communications.” Alex replied.
“Yes, your deduction matches the time frames perfectly.” Tempo said as she and Antimony exchanged glances, undoubtedly communicating via sanzai. A moment later Antimony’s console begun replaying the battle of Leido in quick motion and after a few moments Antimony highlighted a division from among the eight that had jumped first into the system. “Yes, it’s the same division that immediately moved towards Enedd on its own and was later diverted towards the Sala Relay.”

“The commander put their formation in a front line assault instead of keeping themselves in reserve?” Alex asked without thinking.

“Shell commanders are very aggressive and many prefer to join the assault themselves out of a sense of duty towards their subordinates. Look at this, the same division was also part of the final assault on Tizaba Citabel before they jumped to Enedd.” Tempo replied.

“Don’t be afraid to do yourself what you send others to do for you.” Alex said out loud. “An old human saying. I don’t even remember who said it first.”

“Yes, even we Loroi begrudgingly respect Shell commanders who fight in the front line with their fleets.” Tempo replied.

“Now how can we use this?” Alex asked while nodding.

“I believe that it is time for the commander to send the message you had prepared.” Tempo replied as she led him back to Tempest’s ready room where Stillstorm was busy managing the ship’s red tape with the help of Rune-Laurel.

It didn’t take long for Tempo to explain everything to her and after making more than a few alterations to the script Stillstorm steeled herself for the broadcast.

“You Shells know who I am; you have constantly been trying to kill me for the past few days and yet here I am. The Stray, you know it as Kikitik-27, told me about the Khalka divisions that were en-route and how they would bring an end to the war thanks to the new tricks your kind has come up with. I am disappointed, all I have seen your fleets do is flounder time and time again; the crews just empty husks dying in droves, either jumping into suns or dying like fools who are led by someone who isn’t even worthy of cleaning the excrement of a Kikkut. The traitors whose executions I ordered were worth more than you and your entire fleet and now I am coming to correct the mistake that is your wretched existence. My only lament is that the Stray will undoubtedly thank me for ridding the wretched Hierarchy of incompetent husks such as all of you.” Stillstorm said with enough disdain and vitriol in her voice that surprised even Rune-Laurel and Tempo if Alex was to be a judge by their reaction.

“You think that this will be enough for them to make a mistake?” Alex asked when Stillstorm was done.

“We shall see in a few solons Captain Jardin.” Stillstorm replied as she and Rune-Laurel made their way towards the bridge, with Tempo and him following suit. They had barely made it there when the division guarding the Sala-128 jump point left its orbit and begun accelerating towards the 51st.

“Come Captain.” Tempo whispered to him as she sat to her station. “We will study the Shell formation as it accelerated.” She explained as she brought up the record from before the Shell division begun accelerating towards them and replayed it in quick motion; he didn’t catch it at first but three quincunx formations each centered around a dedicated gunboat tender changed their positions in the formation amidst the maneuver.

“There, these three quincunx formations.” Alex pointed out.

“Indeed.” Tempo replied as she tagged them. “The enemy commander doesn’t know if we identified their flagship or not, they have learned to take great care in concealing their command vessels; both in appearance and in concealing them inside their command networks. See how this formation took position in the center of the formation and behind their core of heavies?”

“Yes, as if they want to protect that particular ship by making them harder to reach. But what about the other two though?” Alex asked.

“An attempt to misdirect us. Three formations changed positions but which one is the one we are looking for?” Tempo replied.

“Can you show the recording from the previous battles at Leido, especially the assault on Sala relay and the Tizaba Citadel?” Tempo did as he asked and two extra windows popped up in front of them. “Can you find where these three subformations were during these attacks?”

“I see…” Tempo replied as she tagged only two of the three formations in their second assault at Sala relay but all three formations were part of the division on their assault on Tizaba. “This formation was a later addition, probably a remnant from their failed assaults on Sala relay.” Tempo said as she eliminated one of the three formations from the initial display, the same one that was now hidden at the center of the formation.

“Are the enemy commanders also captains of their ships while in command or are they full flag officers?” Alex asked as he studied the replays from Leido.

“They are flag officers, even the Shells aren’t maniacal enough to manage an entire fleet while also being captains of their own vessels.” Tempo replied.

“See this formation here, how it changed its positions between the two assaults so it could be as far away from the enemy while still being within the core of their division?” Alex pointed out. “I would bet that the captain of the flagship wanted to keep the flag officer alive.”

“I won’t take the bet. The other formation remained at the same position in both assaults, their position on their assault on Tizaba bringing them right in the center of the heaviest fighting which cost the formation a medium escort.” Tempo replied.

“So this is the flagship then?” Alex said as he looked at the quincunx formation that currently was second from the right side of the enemy formation.

“Indeed.” Tempo replied as she passed their findings to Stillstorm’s console. “I suggest that you go and sit at the observer’s seats Captain, you have done all you could for now and we will engage the enemy in about 600 solons.”

“Of course.” Alex replied as he did so, Tempo had briefed him about the proper procedures amidst a battle. He was nominally attached to Tempest’s crew but he was still a foreign agent; the mere fact that he was allowed at the bridge at all was a huge concession towards him and one that would be revoked if he did anything stupid and untoward while there.

He sat down and observed just like he did during the battle of Naam but this time he wasn’t flanked by either Beryl or Fireblade. He just observed as Stillstorm briefed all three of the wing commanders and was startled when someone actually sat down next to him.

“I am sorry Captain Jardin.” Cerulean said with a low voice. “Mallas Rune-Laurel has instructed me to observe this battle, as part of my training.”

“Training? And haven’t you been promoted to a Torret?” Alex asked.

“Yes, Commander Stillstorm fully intends to back my ascension to the Torrai caste following the impression I gave her at Gora. She has already promoted me to a Soroin Torret but there are plenty of things that I need to learn before I can ascend to be a proper Torrai Torret.” Cerulean explained.

“I see and Mallas Rune-Laurel is teaching you?”

“Yes, she and Commander Stillstorm have been together for a long time; she would have ascended to be a Torrai a long time ago if not for her loyalty to the Commander. She is teaching me the intricacies of running a warship and has instructed me to observe the Commander alongside her whenever I can learn something from observing her.” Cerulean replied.

“So you are being groomed for command, congratulations.”

“Thank you.”

“Tempest! At quick for action!” Tenoin Seinen Forest bellowed, drawing their attention back to the battle.

“Damn… Can you discern what the plan is?” Alex asked.

“Of course, the Commander plans to destroy the enemy flagship but she doesn’t want to risk a full engagement, because of the depleted numbers of the Van squadron. She intends to fully accelerate for a dodge up and to the right of the enemy formation but… yes they are charging the Wave Loom device and she has given instructions for a blister barrage to break the wedge that will be aimed on Tempest.” Cerulean explained.

“Wave Loom device?”

“The ship’s main gun, which is housed at the ship’s prow. It’s a very dangerous weapon with certain limitations due to its high energy demands and heat dissipation issues but the commander has ordered it to be prepared and for it to hold 6 charges.” Cerulean replied.

“6 charges?”

“I don’t know its exact function but the more charges the weapon fires the deadlier it is; you should ask a Listel for any details, provided that they are allowed to divulge them to you.”

“Of course.”

“Enemy torpedo launch detected.” Arclight reported as if in queue and half a minute later a huge beam of light flashed forward from Tempest’s prow, tearing through everything in its path as it struck the center ship of the quincunx formation he and Tempo had identified as the flagship subformation; the beam disintegrating not only the target ship but also all four of the ships that were escorting it.

A moment later the entire strike group altered its vector and instead of a head on pass they all turned upwards and to the right of the enemy division that was too slow to properly react to this change of vector, fully half of the division kept going as they were, with the rest forming a crude wedge that was clearly aimed were Tempest would be if the ship kept its course and Tempest did keep the course as the rest if the 51st ballooned their formation just like they did in Naam, pivoting in place to face the enemy with momentum carrying them forward as they barraged the hodgepodge wedge with pulse cannons and particle blasters.

The Van squadron didn’t have trouble dealing with the torpedoes and gunboats as they came piecemeal in range but the wedge kept coming towards Tempest despite the beating the Shells took. Then all the cruisers and capital ships of the 51st fired 36 of their Blister torpedoes in a unified barrage. The enemy fired their plasma weapons both at the group's ship and the incoming Blisters, scoring some hits and even shot down some of the blisters only for everyone to witness the impromptu charge simply collapse once the Blisters deployed their submunitions which homed on the onrushing ships without fault.

He didn’t need to sense the telepathic cheers that must have reverberated throughout the bridge as more than 20 ships simply disappeared in massive explosions while several more were left crippled and drifting forward from momentum alone, the rest breaking their course as the 51st fired one last volley with their weapons before accelerating forward while far below the 24th and the 36th Battle groups had entered the jump vector for Sala-128.

He heard Stillstorm receive damage reports from the various ships, two destroyers had received serious damage but were still able to keep up with the group while a cruiser had lost power to its port side screen emitters.

“We must have gotten the enemy commanding officer with the Wave Loom.” Cerulean commented as the stand down order was given by Forest.

“Attention, 51! We are about to jump to Sala-128, don’t go away without us.” Lashret Waterblade reported.

“Don’t take too long.” Stillstorm replied with a nearly happy expression just as Alex and Cerulean walked up to her and Rune-Laurel.

“Congratulations on a well fought engagement Commander.” Alex said as Stillstorm turned her attention towards them.

“Thank you captain, although I don’t think it would have gone as well as it did without your suggestions and input.” Stillstorm replied with a smile, making him wonder if he had ever seen her smile before that point. It was as if he was looking at a completely different person which he found somewhat disconcerting.

“It was a team effort Commander.”

“He seems to be a team player Commander.” Rune-Laurel commented at that.

“Indeed he is.” Stillstorm replied as both she and Rune-Laurel smiled at him.

Of all the things, now she has a wing man on this. Alex thought as he desperately tried to come up with an exit strategy.

“Thank you for your continued faith in me Commander but I am sure that you are all busy with the aftermath of this engagement so I will take my leave.” He replied at that, hoping that Stillstorm wouldn’t take things any further.

“Of course Captain, although I do want to continue the discussion we had earlier when our time permits.” Stillstorm said as she dismissed him.

God Damn It. Alex thought as he turned to leave, hoping that Tempo who still sat at her station would understand his ‘I will explain later’ expression he gave her the brief moment their eyes met.

He was about to actually exit the bridge when the doors opened to let in a small group of warriors that were led by Ragan Razorthorn who barely gave him any attention as she walked up to Fireblade who just stood up and left Razorthorn take her place after a short Sanzai discussion.

“Hey Fireblade, is your shift over?” Alex asked her as he fell in besides her and Fireblade just nodded in response. “Great, can you do me a favor?” She just stopped at that and raised her eyebrows towards him as passing by warriors glanced at them. In the end she sighed, took him to a small side room and offered him her left hand like the last time they had connected.

He sensed her fiery presence as they touched, her tension and fatigue were easily palatable and her desire to just go to sleep was at the forefront of her mind but she was ready to continue his training if that was what he wanted.

“No, no, I am too tired as well for that; I have realized the last couple of days that there is no chance for me to grab something to eat or even bathe without causing a huge commotion, especially after yesterday when I and Talon… were at the baths together.” He explained and Fireblade’s mind lit up in amusement at that.

“I have yet to cash in my winnings with Tempo about that…”
She teased him. “Perhaps I will wait for you to mate with someone else before I start tormenting her about it.”

“Not that bet again…”


“You should have accepted a piece of the winnings, Tempo always pays her debts and she was fairly confident on her victory, she bet a talent if Beryl beat her to you and two if any other Loroi also beat her to you.” Fireblade replied.

“How much is a talent worth?”


“I make about 1 talent per standard month as a Teidar Pallan. Don’t know how this translates to your monetary values.”
Fireblade replied.

“She bet 2 times your monthly wage?”
Alex asked incredulously. “That’s not right!”

“She should be earning more than me but don’t worry about it, I don’t plan on calling in the debt until the time is right.”


“That still doesn’t make it right to bet so much, especially on my love life.”
Alex snapped back.

“Alright, Alright, I will call the bet off; just let me torment the Mizol a little for all the trouble she causes.”
Fireblade replied.

“Fine just do that.”
Alex relented.

“So you want me to ‘escort’ you as you eat and bathe so the others won’t bother you?”


“Yes, if it isn’t a problem with you.”


“You do know that it is a taboo for a warrior to be around a male when he eats right?”
Fireblade asked, amused that no one had told him this.

“What? Really?”


“Yes, really.”
Fireblade insisted, passing along the numerous instances that this had been hammered into her during her training.

“But eating together is the most common social time for humans! I can’t just… You know what, fine you don’t have to eat with me. I will just grab something to eat in my cabin, no wonder Tempo and the others weren’t comfortable eating in front with me.”
He sent dejectedly at that.

“Wait, you are a recognized warrior so it shouldn’t be an issue and… do human males and females really eat together when they are close friends and… lovers?”
Fireblade asked.

“Yes, although professional partners and even acquaintances can also eat together without having to be friends. Eating together is generally not a taboo for humans, in fact it is extremely rude to elect to eat alone when there are friends and family around.”
Alex explained as best as he could.

“Alright, I will keep you company while you eat and we will bathe together as well. I doubt that anyone will bother you if I am with you.”
Fireblade replied, her mind betraying the fact that she wanted something in return.

“What is it?”


“I have never really relaxed in the baths before, would you mind if we touched while in a pool to cut the noise off?” Fireblade asked, certain that he would accept.

“I don’t mind but that's all we will do, right?”


“I have a bad reputation already so it wouldn’t make any difference if I made a public spectacle of myself like you and Talon did yesterday.”
Fireblade replied teasingly as images of his time with Talon flashed in her mind.

“I should have taken her to my cabin…”
He commented in defeat at that.

“Don’t worry about this; I believe that I understand how you work with your lovers. If we both want it then it will happen, if not then it won’t.”
Fireblade reassured him as she took her hand away, gesturing for him to follow her towards the nearest mess hall where she grabbed some sort of a bun and sat with him as he ate the same kind of mushrooms Tempo had brought him yesterday. It almost felt like a date the way they had come in and sat down, with the other warriors keeping a respectful distance from both of them as they ate.

The true challenge laid with the baths, especially after his escapades with Talon the previous night, which led to him spending his time cleaning the putrid water filtration systems. Fortunately his current company really seemed to work like a repellent, especially after she scowled intently at a couple of warriors that stared too much at him. The trouble however was with Fireblade herself and how… amazing she looked.

The first thought he had when he gawked at the sight of her naked body after they pre-washed themselves was that she looked like the perfect mix of a Greek goddess and a model whose pictures had been doctored to delete any and all blemishes. The words fit, athletic and callipygian were just a few of those words that he would describe her naked body with, as he simply stared at her beauty in stupefied disbelief. Such was his reaction on seeing her that she had to touch him to make him snap out of it.

“Are you alright?”
She asked before realizing what caused that reaction on him. Her ears turning a darker shade of blue as she let out a satisfied smile form on her lips. “Come, I know a somewhat secluded spot that Beryl swore is great to relax in.” She sent before letting him go, gesturing for him to follow her as she made her way to the main baths.

Thankfully certain lower parts of his body didn’t react, probably out of disbelief, until after they reached and sat down at the small, somewhat secluded pool she had told him about.

“I often came here, trying to relax, preferably at times when there weren’t many others around. I always wanted to just close my eyes and just let myself go like most others do but I always sensed them and their irritation due to my mental signature.”
Fireblade sent the moment she tied her left hand to his right after they sat next to each other. “Now there is no one else here but you…” She leaned her head over his shoulder at that, her steady breathing somehow matching the tension that left her mind as she let herself free next to him.

Her mind didn’t burn, he sensed the fire but it was pleasantly warm, like a warm summer breeze on a beach but with the tense undertones of a raging volcano held prisoner within. It was so… fragile in its balance that for a moment he was scared of even letting her go.

“I am not fragile…” She complained softly as she realized that.

“No you are not…”
He replied as he closed his eyes and allowed himself to relax. The tension that had built up in his mind and body lessening with each passing breath they shared until all of it was gone.

“Just two warriors relaxing…”
Fireblade thought as she dozed off with her head resting on his shoulder, leaving him to stay idle in his thoughts, unsure if he even wanted to disturb the pleasant warmth that was her psyche in this rare moment of peace.

_________________
My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)


Sat Jul 21, 2018 5:46 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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Well, at least Bastobar Wavecrest won't find any reason to complain on my behalf..., Alex thought, giving a sidelong glance on the peacefully resting Teidar to his right side. Idly he noticed that she had tied her hair together with several straps - makes sense, the longest of her tresses reaching even below her hips would be a nightmare to untangle if they'd be free floating in the water.

Even asleep she didn't let go of his right hand, much the opposite, he cannot remember when she pulled herself closer to him, but at some moment she must have done so, since he got keenly aware of her skin against his.

He remembered the last time he was in that close contact to Fireblade. He surmised to have seen some of her memories and nightmares - and there were lots of them.

Were she human, a psych would diagnose her with enough PTSD enough for five soldiers he thought with a pang of sorrow. And having been told that she is a danger even to their own males must have done wonders for her self-assuredness.

Just as his thoughts turned a darker path, Fireblade's eyelids began to flutter and she woke up with a content yawn.

'Did I ... fall asleep?', came her incredulous thought.

'You did. I didn't find it in my heart to disturb you. You looked that peaceful, in mind and body.'

'Never tell a Teidar she's peaceful.', she mock-chided him, then smiled. 'But... thanks. I never even realized myself how much I needed that.'

'You and me both. And... it looks like the novelty of me being on board is slowly wearing off. No one seemed to spare us a second glance.', Alex related his observation.

'Don't be so sure. I think it was me being here warding off any overly curious Pasets. No one would risk crossing a ticked off Teidar, even other Teidar would hestitate to do so. Had you been here with, say, a Soroin and not having an encounter, most of them would be much bolder.'

Alex groaned. 'Please don't remind me. As a disciplinary measure I had to clean up the water filters.'

Fireblade made a valiant effort to suppress her laughter, but still failed. 'Ew. No need to relate me the details!'

'So, no encounters in the bath then. And...', here he allowed himself some of his earlier thoughts to bleed through, '... you deserve so much more than a quick fling.'

Fireblade's ears went dark blue. 'You tease! Don't send such things if you don't intend to follow through with it!', then her thoughts turned somewhat more serious. 'What's the matter?'

'Uh...', he hestitated, '... that reminded me - Beryl got the front seat of my escapades with Talon.'

A quick askance look of Fireblade prompted him to explain the idiom 'front seat'. Sanzai, I come to love it. Saves me lengthy explanations.

'So you mean you sent to her and relayed the emotions you picked up from Talon, too?', she asked, with a note of incredulity in her thoughts.

'She told me so, yes.'

'Enzin....', Fireblade started haltingly, '...she wasn't on the bridge, but the datacenter of the ship is still maybe 250 to 300 of your meters away from the baths.'

'Is... that a problem? You're starting to worry me.'

Fireblade vigorously shook her head. 'No! Not a problem.... But... you know that the range of an ordinary Loroi is about one hundred meters? Three hundred is quite above average, but not overly so.'

'What is yours, if I may ask? Or is that classified information?'

'It is. Not just mine, but the capabilities of every Teidar. Though chances are that you might get clearance if you ever need to plan out ground operations as well.'

Alex could feel some subtext in her sending. He wasn't sure, but he got the feeling that Loroi males were perhaps weaker telepaths, and the caretaker's concerns wasn't her doing them physical harm, but overwhelming them with her own sanzai. He felt a sensation of hope coming from her, to actually have the chance of experiencing a male where she could let go of her fears.

'But... Be lucky of your Lotai. Just think, else you would have given everyone in your range a free show.'

'I'm not sure if it would have made matters any worse', Alex sent, thinking about another matter.

'What do you mean?'

'I promised to explain Stillstorm's remark about 'continuing the earlier discussion' to Tempo. This might not be easy.'

'What is this about?'

'Remember that I told you that I said to her I'd intend to go through with her own mating encounter rather than officially denying it? In the same instance where she ordered me to report to Wavecrest for latrine duty, she told me that she was about to come back on my acceptance to the mating encounter. As she got it in her head that this might be the easy way for her to link herself in to my sanzai - and my Lotai. But, shortly thereafter, she said she was just having me on, as a payback for me not denying the encounter. But, on the bridge, she said she'd come back to it...'

Fireblade was silent for a moment, but he felt her thoughts racing.

'That she broached the subject to you tells me that she at least entertained that thought and considered it a viable option. And, she still does. Else she would have considered the matter settled once and for all. So I wouldn't be too surprised if she indeed comes back to you to hold you to your promise.'

Alex groaned.

'There is that single rule in human military - no fraternization amongst the ranks. Sure, it is the most overlooked rule, especially if it concerns mixed crews on a longterm mission, but the line is drawn on hooking up with the someone above or below you in the chain of command. Even if I'm just in an advisory position now, this is very much crossing that line.'

'I think I understand. Given how strongly you bond to your females - or them to you - it could turn into a conflict of interest? And, as long as you weren't part of Stillstorm's staff, it was still tolerated, but questionable, and her putting you to task changed that. Perhaps you should tell her this, and how the situation had changed.', Fireblade mused.

'Not good. That could make her think I am making things up to get out of this mess. She has granted me a great deal of trust as she put me into this role - I don't want to squander it. And her reasoning makes sense, in a crazy way.', Alex mused. 'But... for something different. How's your training coming along? I heard Razorthorn calling you 'barely adequate', but make no mistake, that's high praise coming from her.', Fireblade sent with an upbeat vibe in her thoughts.

'More complicated than it is supposed to be, I think...', Alex started.

'How come?'

'Tempo told me that hurting a male is a punishable offense?', at Fireblade's nod, he continued, 'And training accidents can happen. I made it clear to Razorthorn that I don't wish to be treated any different than her other recruits - and that I'd sign a waiver to absolve her from any ramifications were something to happen to me while training. She said something to the effect that while she might not fear court martial, she would hereself have to live with having let a male come to harm. And that is not even the worst.'

'I have an idea where this is going. But go on.', Fireblade prompted.

'Every single time without failure there is one recruit offering to carry my gear, for example. Or in combat exercises. They're either hestitant to hit me, or they consciously jump into the line of fire, or push me out of harm's way.'

'I get it. How do your people manage it?', Fireblade sent curiously.

'On the grander scale, women in the armed forces are a fairly recent thing. And... we had about the same problems, other way round, come to think of this. It took a long, long time for us men to actually trust our women to do the job as good as we do. And their favourite line was that men are the pansies here... no one would be able to stand the pains of childbirth.'

Alex felt her body hitching, she was trying to suppress a laugh.

'This was a good one.', then her thought trail off in shock, as she lifted Alex's hand to her eye level and looked at his fingers. 'Enzin! Is that normal with humans?'

Startled, Alex followed her line of sight. Sure enough, the skin on his fingertips got wrinkled. 'The skin pruning up? It actually is. No worries, it'll pass as soon as we dry up. And it's a signal that it's about time we get out of the water.'

'True. Actually, I feel refrshed enough for you to have another lesson in mental defense if you agree... and I'd like to see if you might have other talents. Say, in about eighteen hundred solons in my quarters?'

'It's a date.', Alex agreed jokingly.

---//---

'Come in.', Tempo sent. The door opened, revealing Brightshield. 'You said this is too important to discuss via sanzai. The last time you did that was when you revealed these 'Natan files' to me. Please don't tell me this isn't another bombshell you are about to drop on me.'

'I'm afraid it is. Maybe even more so', Brightshield started, 'On uploading the files into the Tempest's systems, it installed its triggers again, and one other did fire, decrypting yet another set of these files.'

Tempo racked her brain. What would have.... Then it dawned on her. 'The contaminant alert, I guess.'

'Yes. The trigger had been oddly specific. Human DNA, haploid chromosome set. As with gametes. And not to be triggered together with the first set of files.'

'Hmmm....', Tempo mused, '...whoever did this wanted to not to reveal everything at once, and only if we get hold of a human's seed for whatever reason. What could be....'

'See for yourself.', Brightshield prompted, placing her tablet onto the console and lighting up its display. 'I'm no Listel, but these files were specifically made to understand by laymen, I think.'

Tempo browsed through the files, quickly first, then slower as realization dawned on her.

'Mizol Losat Lomileilar', she sent formally, 'swear to me by all that you deem sacred that no human, especially not Captain Jardin ever learns of this. Never until you hear otherwise. Delete any and all traces of this on Tempest's systems. No one, especially not Tozet Beryl, should ever learn of this, too. Hide this in your deepest, darkest corner of your mind, never to let it see the light of the day. Is that clear?'

'Very clear, I swear, but why?'

'Because this is as destructive as an antimatter planet killer. It could either unite our two species as one, but most likely it would destroy the human species at a whole. Captain Jardin did say that to human men we'd be about everything they'd wish in a female - their own women's saving grace is that we cannot bear their children. But if this comes out....'

Realization dawned in Brightshield, her eyes went wide as she looked over Tempo's shoulder, reading the files with renewed interest.

For these described a procedure to genetically edit human gametes to make the biochemistry compatible to the Loroi one. To create a viable fetus. Nothing in the files led them to believe that someone actually tried that, but this was to believe, a Loroi could, theoretically, bear a child from a human.

Which would shunt human women completely aside. And Tempo was sure they wouldn't take it lightly.

Mad science, Tempo mused as Brightshield left. Another idiom Enzin came up with. Experiments which are questionable, morally deranged, hazardous, groundbreaking, outlandish or all of that rolled into one. Like his idea of torpedoes with 'micro jumpdrives' launching from a planetary gravity well into the enemy's formation. If this here ever goes public, hatemongers would rise on both sides, clamoring for 'genetic purity' and such, advocating the segregation of our two people. This must not happen - humans have so much to give to use to squander this unique chance. And what about the children? Would they be envied, revered or reviled when they can trace back their heritage to a human? What would their place in Loroi, or human society?

Tempo shook her head, feeling a headache building up, the moment it knocked on her door. Of course, he promised me an explanation on what Stillstorm's comment meant., realizing that there is just one person on the whole ship who needs to knock rather than use sanzai to announce his presence.



Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:22 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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With the force of ingrained habit, Tempo made sure no sensitive info was visible anywhere before she called out: "Enter, Enzin!"

Enzin entered and Tempo noticed that he spared a look as if to make sure the door was closed. He went to the chair in front of her desk with purpose. Little eye contact from him and a strained look on his face, he seemed unhappy to be there. Tempo gave him time to sit down and waited for him to start talking.

"Tempo, I need your opinion on a difficult matter. Do you have a moment?"

She actually hadn't. SG51 was now alone in the system against superior enemy forces. Yet Tempo was equally unwilling to send Enzin away again. Not only did he look truly in need of help, this would also be a valuable opportunity to study humanity.

"Of course I can fit you in my schedule, Enzin. What is this about?"

Enzin seemed to have understood her perfectly. Humanitys appreciation and fine grasp of speech pleased Tempo. He often behaved like a Mizol in this wayas she had noticed.

"I'll make it quick then. Do you remember the look I gave you on the bridge?"

"Yes, was that about this discussion you had with the Lashret?" While she carefully emphazised the discussion, Enzin already started to nod.

He licked his lip before continuing: "Well, no point beating around the bush, Stillstorm wants to uh sanzai with me."

The news were big but not unsurprising to Tempo. She had suspected something like this to happen anyway. Yet the way Enzin fidgeted around on his chair made her suspect more.

"That is only natural. She would of course be interested in taking your measure with Sanzai now that she is your superior, Enzin. Are you worried because you two have feuded in the past?"

"No, well, yes, that as well; I explained to Stillstorm that my Lotai lowers for those I trust and that I doubt our history helps there. She believes mating to be a shortcut around that however."

The news got bigger and bigger. Stillstorm wanted to mate with an alien? For a short moment Tempo regretted not having told Enzin about who exactly watched him shower on the shuttle. That a traditionalist such as Stillstorm seriously considered mating with humanity promised huge social changes for the future. If the empire at large would come into contact with humanity, many traditions would dissolve. A small voice in the irrational part of her brain reminded Tempo that Stillstorm would get to be with Enzin before her.

"If you weren't trusting me already, I'd offer to test that theory. I don't see the problem here, Enzin. Didn't you say that you find all Loroi attractive?" she asked.

Enzin rewarded her with a nice, red colour in response to that suggestion. Yet he explained further: "I do, Tempo. It's not that easy. Stillstorm is a superior officer and in human militaries there are rather strict rules against such a thing. To make matters worse, I am also the only diplomat and representative of humanity to the Loroi. My government will not like this."

"I see, Enzin." said Tempo, slowly deliberating. Then leaning back she said: "While I can only guess at the position of your government, I can assure you that gaining Lashret Stillstorms trust is one of the best things you can do for your mission. Surely they will be understanding? Your mission also surely includes getting a cultural understand of the Loroi? As such nobody should fault you too hard if you show yourself a good, open minded guest."

Enzin stared at her for several Solon before he answered: "Are you saying I should agree to it?"

"If you'd like a piece of advice from me, you should do your best to gain Stillstorms trust by other means. She is one of our best Commanders. Should mating really turn out to be a shortcut around your Lotai, it will have less of an impact than gaining her respect as a warrior. Should she ask, give her your honest opinion on this matter. She might even respect you more for refusing out of duty what you would otherwise enjoy."

She saw Enzin nod at this in agreement, now significantly calmer. "Thank you, Tempo. You helped me a lot."

She decided to have a bit of fun with Enzin: "As your immediate superior I feel it is my duty to point out that there are no regulations against mating with higher ranks amongst Loroi."

Both of them locked eyes for a moment. Oh, he had understood her. How lovely it was to have met a species so like Loroi with such a keen grasp on language.

Enzin proved it with his answer: "I will need to make myself more familiar with Loroi culture. Can I count on your assistance, Mizol Parat?"

"We can start right now, Enzin."

That had an effect. Enzins eyes went wide as he processed that. Too bad for him that there was another very important matter to discuss.

"Keep your uniform on." she reminded him. "I am far too busy for that. We'll get back to that once we have more time. No, we urgently need to talk about regulations concerning you."

"I never know when you are joking or serious, Tempo." sighed Enzin. "What has come up?"

Tempo picked up a data pad and showed it to Alex. "This is Torrai Tazites Duskcrown. She is currently at Sala-128 and is Stillstorms direct superior. Do you remember that we received orders from Seren to send you there?"

After Enzin had nodded in understanding, she continued: "Duskcrown would never have agreed. Officially you were the one who initiated your service with SG51. Please keep that in mind. It is vital that you play the part."

"Con the admiralty. Got it."

She fixed him with a stare. "Enzin, SG51 is a very unusual unit. Your very first welcome on Tempest was comparatively friendly. Duskcrown supports the no-neutrality policy."


Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:36 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

"Which means what in my case?" Alex asked, curious as to where this was going.

"It means that she will force the issue in regards to your Lotai and if it is related to the new Lotai of the Shells or not; when she learns that some of us have gone threw your Lotai she will order us to extensively probe you for any and all information you have no matter the consequences to your mental health which can be disastrous if not fatal to you." Tempo explained.

"That's not funny Tempo." He said as he tried to absorb this.

"I am not joking Enzin."

"That's..." Words failed him for several seconds as he tried to comprehend what Tempo just told him. "What more do I have to do?" He realized that he had yelled at her only when he saw her shocked expression.

"Enzin please unders..."

"Don't Enzin me!" He snapped back at her. "I have cooperated to the fullest of my abilities, I planned the extraction of Gora Relay, I have assigned myself as a staff member to Stillstorm and I even helped identify the flagship of a Shell admiral! I have even managed to get four of you through into my mind! What more do I have to do so your kind will stop seeing mine as a threat?"

"I understand your position Enzin but pl..."

"I said don't Enzin me!" He yelled at her. "You recognized me as a plenipotentiary and extraordinary ambassador of Humanity, military attache to the Union and with the right to be addressed as Captain; this in front of representatives from the Barsam and the Historians! And now you tell me that this doesn't mean anything? That your government may murder me at will because they still don't trust me despite all of my actions so far? Despite the fact that I have already aligned the fate of my entire race to the fate of the Union through those actions?"

"En... Captain Jardin the Union protects all foreign dignitaries in its territory and appreciates your contributions to the war effort." Tempo tried to assure him with an immaculately calm expression.

"A human saying goes that nothing before the word 'but' means anything." Alex said dryly. "What comes after the 'but' Parat Tempo?"

"Torrai Tazites Duskcrown does have the authority as sector commander to pursue all actions that safeguard the Union; her authority can only be countermanded by either the Emperor or a vote by the Diadem if the Emperor is unavailable." Tempo replied.

"See? Nothing before the 'but' means anything no matter how good it sounds..." Alex said dryly.

"I am sorry Captain Jardin."

"Do you remember what I said to Captain Hamilton? That I am less concerned with how the Loroi treat their enemies than I am with how the Umiak treat their friends?" He asked her after a few moments of silence.

"Yes, I remember Captain Jardin."

"Good..." Alex paused at that and made a decision before standing up in attention. "I formally request that I send an open message to the Loroi Emperor, the Diadem, the Union Assembly, the Historian embassy, the Barsam governing polity and Torrai Lashret Stillstorm through the Union's diplomatic channels."

Tempo just looked at him in disbelief for a few moments.

"Wasn't I clear Parat Tempo?"

"Yes you were clear Captain Jardin but..."

"Are you a diplomatic representative of the Loroi Union refusing a formal request by the ambassador of the Terran Colonial Authority, a request that has to do with my ambassadorial duties?" Alex pressed her, managing to momentarily draw an expression of shock out of her.

"No, Captain Jardin. Would you prefer a written message or a video message?" Tempo asked after she composed herself.

"A video message, so they can see me as I am." He replied and Tempo immediately typed a few commands on her console.

"You may begin when ready."

"Honored Emperor of the Union, honored members of the Diadem and the Union Assembly, honored ambassadors and whomever this messages is addressed to.

I am Captain Alexander Jardin, Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary and head of the mission for the Terran Colonial Authority and currently military attache of the TCA aboard the Union warship Tempest, Flagship of the 51st Strike Group commanded by Torrai Lashret Stillstorm.

I was rescued from the verge of death by Lashret Stillstorm's ship and it's crew during the battle of Naam for which I am eternally grateful. My recognition as ambassador came by Mizol Parat Tempo in front of witnesses from the Historian and Barsam nations, after receiving a formal apology for the initial indignities I suffered due to the circumstances and timing of my rescue. In the time since then I have come to deeply respect the Loroi warriors around me and learned of the suffering that this war has caused to them and the Union which I consider to be the only sensible choice as an ally for my race; not because of our physical similarities to the Loroi but also because of the way the Umiak Hierarchy treats their allies. We humans never liked being the slaves of any short of a taskmaster and for us it is better to risk everything to be free than live an eternity in slavery.

To prove the commitment of our race to the war effort in accordance to the Union non-neutrality act in place I have cooperated fully with the warriors accompanying me in order to discover the true nature of an apparent human resistance to telepathy. Together we have discovered that the human Lotai is a subconscious defensive measure that can be bypassed with a sense of personal trust which then allows me to communicate via sanzai with the individuals I trust provided we touch or we are very close to each other; furthermore my Lotai encapsulates them in a subconscious attempt to protect them. We have taken these discoveries as proof that humans have a natural telepathic ability that is largely left untapped.

Immediately after these discoveries the Hierarchy launched a massive assault against the Tinza sector and I attached myself to the 51st Strike Group in order to aid the defense to the best of my ability. As of the moment of sending this message I have planned and helped execute the successful extraction of the entire crew of Gora Relay station accompanied with the destruction of dozens of Hierarchy ships with the station's scuttling at the ending stages of the battle of Leido. I have advised Lashret Stillstorm to the best of my abilities and I helped identify the flagship of a Gate-crasher force at the battle of Enedd, as identification which resulted in the destruction of said flagship.

I consider the actions I have undertaken so far to be fully in line with Union laws and wishes in regards to its allies and as such I politely request the full disclosure to me and my government about the events surrounding the discovery of a lone human on Deinar four..."

"Captain Jardin, that is classified information!" Tempo warned him at that as she typed something in her console.

"I as plenipotentiary ambassador of the Terran Colonial Authority don't consider it to be under any form of classification under our laws. In fact the Terran Colonial Authority considers the information pertaining to that incident to be of primary importance to the survival of the human race. If the Union does not wish to disclose the information the TCA requested after the services I have provided then I will have to conclude that the Loroi Union is not sincere in its declared outlook towards humanity and as thus I will stop aiding the Union in its war effort and I will consider myself a prisoner of war." Alex said with a forced even voice as he stared down at Tempo. "Should I consider myself a prisoner of war Parat Tempo or should the Union as a whole be allowed decide what its outlook towards humanity will be once and for all?"

"You stubborn fool!" Tempo stood up and said angrily at that, her perfect poker face cracked open.

"I take this as confirmation that I am now a prisoner of war. Please have me escorted to the brig."

"Fine, continue from a few words before from where you were, I will edit it to make it seamless." Tempo relented as she typed a command on her console.

"...the discovery of a lone human on Deinar four hundred tozons ago. I request to know the events surrounding the discovery of said human, his fate while at the care of Loroi authorities, the reasons behind the classification of his discovery and any and all information pertaining to him and any and all research that was conducted about him. The Terran Colonial Authority and humanity as a whole places great importance to this request whose answer will reveal the Union's intentions towards humanity, in particular if the Union even desires humanity's continued existence as a race.

I trust the diplomatic officer of Tempest to forward all data available to her pertaining to me and my request provided that it doesn't hold personal information about me and my personal interactions with any and all Loroi warriors.

I thank you all for your time and consideration. End of message."

"Do you even realize what this message will do to the Union?" Tempo said angrily as she stared him in the eyes.

"Do you realize what it means to be betrayed by those you trust? I trusted you and the others, I thought that Loroi honor meant something and now you tell me that despite everything I did and everything that happened I may still end up killed because you have a maniac of an admiral that wont trust me no matter what? Honor is not about how others treat you but how you treat others, if the Union cannot treat me and what I represent honorably then I cannot expect that humanity will fare any better than the Mannadi or the Tithric after you are done with us and this no matter what we do to appease you." Alex snapped back at her.

"Duskcrown may not even be alive at this point!"

"And I hope she is alive because it would mean that the fleet is already destroyed otherwise." It was easily obvious that he caught her by surprise at that.

"I am sorry Captain, I can't allow this message to be sent but I swear to you that no harm will come to you." Tempo replied after recollecting herself.

"I see... Thank you for your time and consideration Parat Tempo." Alex said as he offered her his right hand which she reluctantly grabbed but to her shocked surprise they didn't connect. "I guess that either anger boosts the Lotai or that I am not stupid enough to trust you anymore Parat Tempo." He said before he let go and walked out of her cabin.

He walked aimlessly through the corridors after that, in a vain attempt to vent his anger at the absurdity of it all. He didn't care about the stares he got and he was certain that someone had called up to him at some point but he didn't care. He just walked up and down like a maniac until he found himself in front of Fireblade's door where he remembered the 'date' they had set for his training. He knocked, intending to at least call it off but he just walked in when she opened the door and sat on one of her desk's chairs without even looking at her. He was certain that she stared at him in disbelief for several moments before she reached out to him. He felt her cool hand on his forehead but he didn't sense the warmth that was her being.

"I am sorry, I can't go on like this..." Alex said as he looked up to her, worry clearly visible on her face. "No matter what I did and no matter what I will do I know that it will never be enough." Fireblade pulled her hand away at that and moved the other chair next to him before sitting on it. "I don't know who to even trust anymore." She reached out to him once again ruffled his hair in a playful manner at that.

"You have enough trouble on your own to worry about my problems as well..." He said dejectedly at that but that only served to annoy her as she turned his face to hers. "...you are right, I am sorry. I have come too far to stop now..." He slowly felt something warm next to him as he calmed down, her mental image becoming clearer and clearer with each passing moment until they were connected.

"What happened? Why couldn't we connect?"
She asked him the very same moment they did connect.

"I think its anger, the Lotai returns stronger when I am angry."
He replied without thinking.

"That's good to know, this means that anger will protect you." Fireblade reassured him. "But why were you angry?"

"You will get in trouble if you learn about it...

"I can always go and take the truth out of the Mizol, I know you were there with her." Fireblade replied.

"Go and do that then but it's all classified. All I know is that soon the sector commander, once she jumps from Sala-128, will start demanding for my mental dissection to make sure that I am not a Shell agent." He explained.

"What? Even after everything you did? Even after I vouched for you?"


"Apparently it won't be enough, Tempo is convinced of that, she is also convinced that neither my ambassadorial status will be a protection. She vouched that no harm would come to me but that's the word of a Mizol."
Alex explained.

"What about the word of a Teidar? I vow to you that no harm will come to you no matter who orders it."
Fireblade sent as her flames engulfed both of their minds.

"That's... that's weird coming from a woman, even from a Teidar..."
He replied without thinking, the image of the chivalrous knight who protects women and children coming at the forefront of his mind. Fireblade just burst out in laughter at that, a pleasant and amused laughter that caused her flames to tickle his mind before she leaned in to kiss him.

"How about a vow from someone who considers you strong enough to withstand her?"
She sent after she pulled her cool lips back from his but the warmth of her being had enveloped him whole, his whole being resonating with it; something at the back of his mind made to protest but he pushed it aside when their lips met again. The warmth was everywhere and all encompassing, intense but also gentle as they laid each other bare as they sought to find peace with each other.

_________________
My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)


Tue Jul 24, 2018 4:03 pm
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Joined: Wed May 20, 2015 2:14 am
Posts: 862
Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:
About four hours later, Fireblade and Alexander woke up to a pretty hefty knocking on the door.

They heard a shout that the security forces will now open the door, and to stand clear of the door.

Alexander was just able to grab a pillow to hide his nudity, but Fireblade stood up and positioned herself between the door and the bed, when the door opened and revealed Tempo and Stillstorm standing in front of the door, and Beryl just so visible behind these two.

Seeing Fireblade in an obviously intent position, Stillstorm ordered "We do not wish harm, but things have happened, and we need to talk about what happened. Stand down, Teidar Pallan Leinnol."

When Fireblade did not move, Tempo added "Please Fireblade, you may notice that even though you're not touching Alexander right now, you're still not able to use Sanzai right now. This started about two hours ago, and while it happened, we conducted some tests, those we could do without the participation of you two, or even better without you knowing. But we've come to the point where we need to inform Alexander, and see how we can return the Sanzai to this ship before we're seeing combat again.
We would like to meet you in 15 bima in the captain's ready room for a small briefing about what happened.
And a 'brainstorm' of ideas what could've caused this, and how we can end it."

Fireblade looked perplexed, then concentrated, and then said "Indeed, I cannot feel you. How widespread is this?"

Stillstorm said: "Nearly the whole ship. Some outlying elements are not under a Lotai, but all elements where crew normally operates fall within the area of the current Lotai.
I expect you two in the ready room, now get freshed up and dressed. We will discuss matters there."

With that she left, and Tempo followed her. Now Alex saw that Beryl was accompanied by two guards, and she looked quite... tired, dishevelled, angered, and ... unhappy?

"Hey, what's the matter?" Alex said to Beryl.

"You tease!" she said, but this time with a lot less friendly smile than the last time. Apparently he had been sending to her again. He turned quite red at that.

"Oops." He tried to reach for her mentally, and yes, there was her signature. "Sorry, I did not mean to. Why are the guards here?" Aloud he said: "Come in."

"To prevent me from touching you. I am under orders to observe you, but they made it clear that I am not allowed to touch you for the moment being." came the reply with a strong sadness attached to it. And a slight bit of jealousy. Aloud she said: "I am under orders to accompany you to the ready room, but am not allowed to be closer to you than these two guards."

"You're getting good at reading me. I did not mean to leak my feelings to you." Beryl added.

Alexander felt a small stab in his side, and when he looked, he saw Fireblade donning her uniform and smiling at him. "You need to get dressed, and while my Sanzai is hampered somewhat right now, my telekinesis works."

He started getting dressed. While he did so, he tried to reach Fireblade without touching her, and indeed he felt her presence. "Okay, okay."
He tried to stay connected to both warriors, and sent "I am sorry, Beryl. I did not mean to send to you. I know this is mean, flaunting you like that. But I fear that my special feelings for you have created a possibly permanent connection to you. Where were you when you received us?"

He tried to ignore Fireblade's shocked face, but Beryl replied directly to Fireblade: "Alexander sends mating encounters in a very vivid sending to me. Last time with Talon, I was in the datacenter. About 280m from Alexander's position in the baths." A small confirmatory sending from Fireblade acknowledged she knew about this already. "This time, Tempo found out and sent me to the farthest reaches of the ship. I was still receiving everything. And furthermore, this triggered something in my memories. The sending began when I was on the bridge and looking at jump points. Suddenly I said out loud, that those jump points would be good positions for minefields, drawing curious glances. Apparently I have the full knowledge he has inside my memory now, it just wasn't structured or "flagged". I needed a special trigger to release the information."
Aloud Beryl said "I am allowed to tell you some of the things that happened, but they want to see us in the meeting room very soon. So please get dressed, Enzin."

Fireblade looked at Beryl, and apprehension showed in her face. "Stillstorm knows this now? Oh, Beryl, I am sorry. And I think this is why they waited several hours before coming here?"

Alex didn't fully understand what Fireblade meant. "?"

Fireblade replied: "You feared you'll be mind-raped for the information you carry? Well, you are safe now. Apparently your bonding with Beryl has given her memory most, if not all, of your knowledge. When she said "minefield", in Sanzai she also sent the information what it is, but neither us Loroi nor the Enemy uses minefields. They're too impractical in space. But that information likely came from you, as she also sent the notion of Earth battlefields being mined. So, when Stillstorm found out, she likely ordered Beryl's mind to be read. That's why she looks so dishevelled." Taking a look at Beryl, she added "And because it was me who comforted you when she longs to do that."

This definitely elicited an unwanted reaction from Beryl. Together with the jealousy came a very heartwarming feeling.
He involuntarily reacted by sending "My love!" to her.

Alex finished dressing, and stood up. "Shall we go, ladies?" he asked. Trying to uphold the conversation.

Beryl sent "True, but the real problems began when they found out that my Lotai was perfect. Neither the Mizol nor Stillstorm, nor the others could get through it. Something happened, and they want to know what and how. They were able to read my mind, but when they tried to sift through my memories for knowledge about Earth, Humanity, or Alexander, a Lotai sprung up, and our whole ship went "dark". Even the other ships noticed that. This ability is what the enemy has.
I fear they will order experiments. And I still cannot Sanzai to you directly, Fireblade. Only through Alexander.
"

She turned and started walking along the corridor, the guards moving so that Alexander would be unable to get beside her.

"Well, a perfect Lotai for our talkative Listel. That must've annoyed that Mizol and Stillstorm very much." an amused sending from Fireblade came, which was answered with first an icy sending from Beryl, which changed into a small smile.

"I know I can talk, and the weird thing is I answered many questions they had voluntarily, but that was not enough. They wanted to force me to see if I was hiding anything. Or knew about deceptions of Alexander. That was when all went haywire aboard the bridge. No Sanzai anymore on the ship. Do you know how loud a bridge is when everyone needs to talk?"

Another involuntary sending from Alexander came. To which Fireblade replied "Beryl can defend and protect herself. And I will be with her to help her."

Beryl replied "And now I definitely know how you feel, Alexander. Your Lotai may have saved my life, but I fear that this is not the end of it. Especially once we meet up with Duskcrown's fleet.".

Seeing the door of the ready room, Fireblade sent one last comment: "Maybe the old sailors of the seas are right. Males do not belong on a ship. It just brings bad luck and problems."

_________________
Vote for Outsider on TWC: Image
charred steppes, borders of territories: page 59,
jump-map of local stars: page 121, larger map in Loroi: page 118,
System view Leido Crossroads: page 123


Wed Jul 25, 2018 12:55 am
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Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
Posts: 624
Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

'You might be not surprised to hear that we have the same saying about women on board a ship. Though I'm sure neither your and mine old sailors ever thought about this. So, I .... what? .... sanzai-block the whole ship out of spite?' Alex sent incredulously.

'Later, lover-boy, let's get to the bridge first.'

It took Alex a moment and Fireblade's wordless inquiry for the three to notice that Beryl used a completely human expression for something that is a perfectly normal thing, to Loroi at least.

The walk to the bridge felt completely different.

Where he was met with curious, and often enough sometimes appreciative stares earlier, now said looks were still curious... but somewhat fearful, too.

'The two of you said you cherished the silence my Lotai conveyed to you...', two wordless assents answered him, '... but I bet for those here it is terrifying.'

And it was already loud, Alex noticed.

'Figures.', Beryl sent, 'Whatever takes a solon to explain via sanzai now needs a whole bial by speech. And that's when a Mizol is doing this. Members of the other castes don't even have the aptitude to convey concepts via speech. The Torrai, mainly, when the need to issue commands and discuss strategy via comms.'

Crossing the bridge to the ready room felt like walking a gauntlet. Had it been loud, the bridge fell silent as soon as they entered.

About a dozen of sets of Loroi eyes rested on the trio, less so on the guards and Stillstorm, in a mix of curiosity and a good deal of begging to release them from the forced silence.

Alex felt almost glad when the door to the ready room closed behind him, cutting off the rest of the bridge. Almost.

Stillstorm strode around her desk, placing her hands on it and leaned forward.

"Can someone explain to me why almost no Loroi on this ship can send to one another? How did it happen for my ship to be in that sorry state in a contested system and with enemy contact to be expected any time? And why we have to do this with spoken words all the way?"

Tempo has at least the decency to look properly chastised, Alex thought. Then he noticed something else.

This was the first time he saw her lacking her usual poise and bearing. It was the looks of a woman feeling lots of sorrows and defeat, the look of a soldier who knows he's in for a stern chewing out - or worse - and feeling to deserve it, too. She even looked unkempt, her usually immaculately coiffured hair disheveled and...

Fireblade caught his last thought, gave Tempo a side glance, eyes widening. 'Did she really try to shear off her hair?'

'I'm missing something here, I guess this is very important to you?'

'It is. The last time we shear our hair down to our scalp is when we finish our warrior training, and then it's only trimming to keep it in shape, else it's letting it grow out. To cut off one's own hair is... a show of atonement for a great transgression committed. To keep our hair long is a show of unblemished honor. By the looks of it she must've been interrupted while doing so - and that means, whoever interrupted her denied her the easy way out.', Fireblade explained.

'Oh. That makes sense....', Alex admitted, sending Fireblade a picture of herself, complete with her own long tresses - and little else - which earned him a feeling of pride coming from her.

"...It started with me." Tempo admitted with a defeated tone in her voice. "I tried to explain to Captain Jardin that Torrai Tazites Duskcrown is even more likely to see him as a Shell trick and thus order his mind to be probed... by all possible means. It didn't go over too well with him."

"Of course it won't!", Beryl exploded, forgoing all decorum.

"Tozet Eilis!", Stillstorm interrupted sharply, "let her speak."

"He went to pre-record a message to the Historians, the Barsam, the Council, the Emperor... and you... in his capacity as a diplomat, where he listed off the events that brought all of us here including our assumptions that his Lotai is sort of a defensive measure and a means to protect all he holds dear."

Stillstorm took a deep breath and held Tempo locked in her gaze. "This is all known to me, but why did I never receive that message?", she asked slowly, deliberately.

"Because I never sent it."

Stillstorm furrowed her eyebrows. She knows that Tempo is not telling the whole story., Alex thought to himself.

"This still doesn't explain why only Captain Jardin can send to us, and only two of us, and no one else?"

"Things deteriorated from there. My refusal to send the message made him consider himself a prisoner once more, and as this, I presume his Lotai revoked its trust in us, except for select Loroi, where it protects the information he confided in them. And the moment we decided to probe for them in Tozet Eilis... it must have went on the offensive, interdicting any and all sanzai within its reach, save only for those Captain Jardin approves of."

"Namely Tozet Eilis and Pallan Leinnol, perhaps Arrir Nesin - those he had an encounter with." Stillstorm concluded.

Stillstorm took another deep breath, rubbing her temples in the universal gesture of someone feeling a headache building up.

"Captain Jardin, had it happened before I tried to send you away to Seren I had no reason not to believe this to be a Shell trick. You... humbled me by showing time and again that you did everything to stand by our side. So I ask you to give me anything that wouldn't require me to simply get you off the ship, spacesuit optional, to get it back into operational state."

Fireblade, Beryl and surprisingly Tempo stiffened at her words.

Alex sighed. "I understand your position. There were times I even thought about killing myself to protect the information I carry - and I think this is not a big secret to spill."

'NO!', came a double-voiced outcry in his mind, courtesy of Beryl and Fireblade. 'I will not allow it.'

'This point is moot, in any case. I cannot do that anymore, because that would paint a target on you.', he sent, directed at Beryl.

"Tozet Beryl. Arrir Talon. Pallan Fireblade. Losat Brightshield. Mazil-Toza Winterbloom. Mazeit Cerulean. Flint. Reed. Cloud. Wavecrest. Moonglow. Hotspring. Razorthorn. Ashrain.", Tempo started listing names.

Alex looked askance, but Stillstorm seemed to have caught up what Tempo meant.

"Lashret Stillstorm. Parat Tempo."

'What are they getting at?', Alex sent to Fireblade, but his question was answered by Tempo.

"These warriors... and many others ... including myself owe you their lives by now, sometimes many times over. You may not believe it by now, but this is something we recognize. If Duskcrown were ever to issue such an order... she'd be hard-pressed to find anyone within SG51 to hand you over."

Alex's brain halted at the implication of her words and he looked at Stillstorm. By all measures Tempo was talking mutiny.

And Stillstorm remained perfectly calm about it.

"There's something intriguing me. By the reports, your Lotai extends around those your subconscious deems worthy of protection.", Stillstorm started.

Beryl's eyes went wide. "...and the interdiction on sanzai is just a side effect, not the intended goal..."

Tempo blinked as she connected the dots. "... which is to hide the Tempest from detection. An instinctual response on the threat of Duskcrown arriving?"

Alex looked completely baffled. "This... is crazy enough that it actually makes sense. And it would explain something else."

"Like what?", Stillstorm prompted.

"On Earth, there are some crackpot theories about humans having been abducted by aliens. Perhaps Tempo already relayed that to you, perhaps not. Now imagine these were true and some humans or their descendants fell into the hands of the Shells and are pressed into service. If the need for self defense is enough to trigger a ship-wide Lotai, I imagine them putting humans directly into immediate harm's way to elicit the instinctual response, whether we find these overgrown bugs abhorrent or not."

"An interesting theory, absolving humans from any willful collaboration with The Enemy, yet still expeaining the similarities in the Shell's newfound abilities. Though that doesn't clear up the most immediate problem - how to get my ship working again."

"With all due respect, I see only two ways out. Either the looming threat of Duskcrown is removed, one way or another, or you simply stow me into that shuttle of yours again and send me far off into space, possibly to pick me up some time later. Downed on a metallic asteroid and powered down, it would be nigh impossible to find me and whoever is with me. And as with Beryl... you learned that my Lotai encompasses all it deems worthy of protection."

Stillstorm looked at him for a long time, trying to get a measure of his dedication while Alex got a warm feeling from Beryl.

"The idea of sending you away is tempting, but a bit short-sighted. There are too many Loroi who would not look kindly upon losing their 'good luck charm'. In addition, the idea that you can hide a whole ship from Farseers - or what the Shells may have for them - sounds compelling. Which brings me to another topic."

Alex looked askance.

"Don't look that surprised. I saw you exchanging sanzai with Pallan Fireblade and Tozet Beryl several times over, now. And I have a good impression on what it takes to have that kind of connection. In fact, if your theories are correct about what triggers the shipwide Lotai, I am sure it won't be the last time happening while you're on board. And in that case, I do want a similar exemption from this. And..."

Alex thought the smile forming on Stillstorm's face to be quite scary.

"...I have it on good authority that your 'method' of granting said exemption is quite ... invigorating and relaxing, both."



Wed Jul 25, 2018 5:31 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:
Alex wondered how this woman could think of sex of all things now. He could do nothing but stare at her, hoping this was again one of her tricks. As the seconds passed the realisation set in, that Stillstorm was serious.

In the back of his mind, he remembered what Tempo had told him, when they were still on speaking terms. While he was still trying to formulate a polite yet firm refusal, Stillstorm spoke again.

"Don't give me that look. The theory needs to be tested and it can't be with a Loroi you like. And since you already accepted..."

Having overcome his shock, Alex said: "Commander Stillstorm, in the terran Scout Corps it is strictly forbidden to have affairs with superiors. As representative of humanity I have to refuse."
"You are serving on a Loroi warship and fall under Loroi laws now. This theory will be tested. Since you are privy to sensitive information, your choice of options are limited to senior officers." Stillstorm calmly laid out.

Alex broke eye contact and glanced at the others. Tempo didn't look up and he didn't try for long. Fireblade stared ahead stoically, yet couldn't hide her surprise fully. Beryl was turning blue but otherwise very brave. The feelings he got from her via Sanzai were indicating quite a bit of turmoil in her. He tried his best to assuage her.

Having found more resolve, he answered Stillstorm: "Commander, that would go against my duties and my personal conduct of honour. Please do not ask this of me. I will have to refuse."

"Rest assured, Captain, that I have no intention of forcing the matter. This discussion can wait anyway. Our immediate concern has to be to restore Sanzai to this ship before combat renews."

With Stillstorms switch of topics, a wave of relief from Beryl warmed Alex. That gave him confidence enough to push on.

"Commander, I have already given you my opinion. I see no other alternatives. If I knew how to, I would stop."

"See, Captain, I already know the problem." said Stillstorm. "You are the worst diplomat I have ever seen." That drew sharp breaths from Alex, Beryl and Fireblade.

"Excuse me?"

"The issue is one of trust, no? Your Lotai is acting up, because you have lost trust in us." With a sideglance to Tempo, she added: "Tell me, how did that happen?"

That puzzled Alex, Beryl and Fireblade too from what feelings he received from them.

"Commander, you already know that. Parat Tempo refused to send a diplomatic message, effectively cutting me off from the rest of the Union."

Stillstorm was actually shaking her head in disbelief. "How did you plan to send your message to the rest of the Union, Captain?"

"As a diplomat via your network, of course, Commander."

"How do messages travel from system to system, Captain?" Stillstorm asked perfectly calm.

It dawned on him then, that he had missed something big in all of this. Suddenly he had an idea what Stillstorm was getting at and he didn't like it at all.

"They are carried by ship, jumping to the next system."

"That is correct, Captain. What ship will make this jump next?"

"Enedd is contested, the Shells control all the jump points, except to Sala-128."

"Correct, go on."

Even though Alex had always been a smart kid, it had ever so often happened that he had missed something important. Most of his teachers had enjoyed these rare chances to needle him with slow, leading questions. Stillstorm reminded him of his more succesful teachers in that regard.

"The next Loroi ship jumping will likely be SG51 as a whole."

"After?"

"After SG51 has achieved its strategic goal in this system."

"Which is?"

Alex saw it now. He really didn't like what Stillstorm was getting at. With a low groan he said: "Reestablishing contact with Tinza fleet and Tazites Duskcrown."

Very pleased with herself, Stillstorm kept pressuring Alex. She was having fun, he realized. Beside him, Beryls mouth fell open in silent understanding of the situation.

Stillstorm continued: "As soon as Duskcrown and her Mizols receive the files on you -an automatic process Captain- all of them will be very interested in anything you do. Before your aggitative message can leave this system to give you a tiny bit of diplomatic protection, Duskcrown will know about it. This message of yours can only make certain that Duskcrown sees you as a threat to the stability of the Union. The next time Tempo stops you from doing something incredibly stupid, thank her for it instead of throwing a tantrum."

Stillstorm had worked up quite a temperament during her speech. She carried that energy forward as she leaned into her next tirade. One finger pointing upwards.

"The next time Tempo forewarns you with classified personal files about a commanding officer, you thank her and do exactly what she tells you to do. Because the only reason you are here is because Tempo, you and I have broken the law!"

Confusion within him and crashing into him from the other two Loroi. Alex didn't remember breaking any laws and he certainly hadn't done so with Tempo or Stillstorm.

"What do you mean, broken the law?"

Stillstorm just stared at him, still pointing upwards. Her face turned blank.

"He doesn't know." she said to Tempo.

"You don't know?" asked him Tempo. That was the first time she had reacted to him with more than glances. Now he saw her eyes wide open, redder than usual, her hair a mess.

"Know what?"

"Enz...Captain Jardin, do you remember how I approached you with the chance of serving with SG51? Do you remember the orders from Seren to send you there I have told you about?"

Alex remembered and realisation hit him like lightning. At the time he had been too busy with his new position, but he should have understood. What army would allow their soldiers to not only refuse direct orders but to do the exact opposite.
"Fuck." was all he managed. Moments later the broad sentiment reached him from Beryl, then still later from Fireblade too. Physically and mentally the two were staggering. Beryl had to reach for a chair to let herself fall into.

Tempo continued aghast: "In the official papers, the idea came from you. If it gets out that we influenced you to discard our orders, Stillstorm and I will be expulsed from the warrior cast. You will be found guilty of having conspired with senior officers in an attempt at sabotage."

From her chair a horrified Beryl asked: "You did what? Counteracted direct orders from Seren? From the Emperor?"

"Not from quite that high, but close." was Stillstorms brisk answer.

"You just made us your confidants?" came Fireblade from his right.

"Yes." said Stillstorm. "You are now complicit. Unless you report this to Duskcrown."

Tempo interjected: "When we decided to keep Captain Jardin here, we thought we'd receive a reprimand, a demotion at worst. But now, with these new findings about his Lotai stakes have risen."

Beryl said: "You make us complicit. Just like that?"

"Just like that. With your connection to Enzin you would have found out eventually anyway. Best to get the choice over with."

Beryl and Fireblade looked at each other. This situation was unique for both of them. Not only had they to decide on the course of their lives, they also had to do it in silence as their Sanzai between each other was still muted.

At last both gave their agreement, bringing the number of criminals in the room up to five. Stillstorm looked perfectly calm. Tempo was getting there but still shaky.Somehow Alex had found a chair to sit in as well. His very first deep space mission, the very first contact between man and Loroi, the fate of all of mankind rested on his decisions and he had committed treason. The absurdity made his head spin. More and more his life felt like poorly written fiction.

After a while, Stillstorm continued: "Now that we all share the same razor, I hope your trust issues will fix themselfes, Enzin. Our next objective is how to keep Enzin from being mind probed."


Wed Jul 25, 2018 9:51 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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"You are quite mistaken Commander..." Alex said as he gathered his wits after the latest development. "On both our next objective and to the fact that I hadn't realized where and when my message would be sent. I trusted that you would find a way to send the message after witnessing it while our objective is still to 'resolve' my trust issues." He actually smiled when he saw Stillstorm frown in anger at that.

"I never believed that you were actually insane but it seems that I was wrong." Stillstorm said after a moment of silence.

"Parat Tempo, would you please inform the commander as to the classified aspects of my message?" Alex said as he turned his gaze at Tempo, her visage of assumed calmness collapsing once more.

"No, I have already told you that the issue is classified and it will damage the Union if it leaks out!" Tempo replied with clear agitation.

"And you forget the fact that said issue being classified and your and the Union's insistence of keeping it that way is the sole reason this is happening." Alex replied, his anger flaring back to the forefront of his mind. "Now, either you tell them or I will."

"No! Please Captain Jardin!" Tempo begged

"I don't like putting the fate of my race on the line Parat Tempo but fine I will do as you please and I won't tell them." He replied with a crooked smile as Tempo realized what exactly he intended to do. "I will just tell them how to find it themselves."

"No!" Tempo said once again before he turned his gaze to Stillstorm who looked more confused than angry by that point.

"Commander Stillstorm, could you please transmit the information of my genetic material to a few other ships of your Strike Group? While ordering the commanding officers to make sure that the Mizol agents aboard their ships transmit back to Tempest any and all data that will be automatically unlocked in their systems?" Alex said with a calm voice despite his anger.

"What is this?" Stillstorm asked angrily while looking at both him and Tempo who looked completely defeated.

"That information is highly classified." Tempo said dejectedly after a few moments.

"It may also contain information critical about the current situation, don't forget that most of the data that was unlocked on Gora Relay was corrupted. Personally I would consider ensuring the proper running of the strike group's flagship in the midst of a contested system to be of greater import than the knowledge of those past events spreading out." Alex added, knowing full well that he was bullying Tempo by that point.

"Is this true?" Stillstorm asked Tempo with a forced steady voice at that, Tempo offering no reply other than shaking her head in defeat.

"I hope that this will be worth it..." Stillstorm said dryly as she contacted Arclight, Moonglow and Ashrain to instruct them accordingly.

His anger at Tempo subsiding he sensed both Beryl and Fireblade trying to connect with him again, wondering what this was all about, he just reassured them that they would soon know and waited for a few long minutes before Stillstorm received a report from Ashrain and read something on a holographic window before she exploded in anger.

"You Bloody Imbecile for a Mizol! When were you going to tell me about these orders of yours?" Stillstorm yelled her lungs out at that, catching everyone by surprise as she stared down at Tempo as if she was going to strangle her.

"Orders, what orders? There were no orders with the data I received!" Tempo replied with obvious agitation.

"Then what is this?" Stillstorm yelled again as a holographic window appeared in front of Tempo whose eyes raced down the text as she read it; her expression shifting from agitation, to shock, then back to agitation before settling back to a disbelieving shock.

"I... these are..."

"Orders under the Emperor's own authority that any discovery regarding 'humanity' is to be reported immediately to the Imperial cabinet and any human found is to be sent alive and unharmed to be interviewed by the cabinet!" Stillstorm said angrily before continuing to read the rest of the text.

"Enzin? What is going on?"
Beryl asked with a mind full of worry that was mirrored by Fireblade's

"I honestly don't know anymore."
Alex replied as Stillstorm looked back at him.

"How did a human end up on Deinar 400 tozons ago?" She asked in disbelief.

"I honestly don't know, humanity was barely achieving industrialization back then." Alex replied.

"What? A human on Deinar?"
Both Beryl and Fireblade asked as one.

"That's the classified part of my message that Tempo didn't want to leak out and what I and Brightshield talked about, I am the second recorded contact. And I am deeply worried that the way the Union handled this is a sign of inherent hostility towards humanity."
Alex replied.

"I... made a mistake... in not pursuing to get an intact set of this data cache in my belief that the mere act of pursuing it would be a breach of classification..." Tempo muttered before composing herself. "The information wasn't merely meant to inform those who would come in contact with a human about the basic rundown of the only recorded contact before them but to also instruct on observed and studied human telepathic abilities and how to manage them as they escorted any human, whether captive, representative or part of a delegation to converse directly with the Imperial Cabinet if not the Emperor herself."

"The damn Mizol knew about Humanity for all this time and they kept this a secret!" Stillstorm said angrily. "They knew about the human Lotai, they knew about human telepathy, they studied it and realized how it works 400 tozons ago! They even describe humanity as our template species in this!"

"It was a lone human on Deinar, the Union wasn't ready for such an announcement with just a single individual!" Tempo said. "Even now most Loroi would not easily accept the truth of us having a template species with such a radically different form of telepathy."

"Your caste kept the possibility of the human Lotai being used against us in this war hidden and now the Shells may actually be using it!" Stillstorm snapped angrily at her.

"We don't know this yet." Tempo replied.

"Be that as it may, does it say anything about how to disarm the ship wide Lotai?" Stillstorm asked.

"It says here that the human Lotai is probably a subconscious and constant passive defense of the human telepathic potential made manifest; it can be bypassed when intimate trust is formed between a Loroi and a Human but in doing so the otherwise inert human telepathic ability becomes active; allowing at first the human to communicate with Sanzai with those individuals they trust while also protecting them with their Lotai while in contact or in close proximity. The deeper the intimate bond the more pronounced the telepathic examples will be, including but not limited to the sharing of unprotected memories and the ability to use Sanzai even in extreme ranges. The passive Lotai becomes broadened in its application when a deeply bonded Loroi feels threatened or agitated and the human subconscious picks this up via the shared connection; it is strongly advised to not actually harm a deeply bonded Loroi under risk of the human telepathic talent becoming active in its defense. All active telepathic abilities can be exhibited at will after prolonged training, up to and including the conscious lowering of the Lotai although this is not advised due to the danger that is the now unused telepathic potential to everyone around the human. Positive effects to the telepathic potential of a Loroi that is intimately bonded to a human have been observed." Tempo said out loud.

"That's all well and good but how do we shut it off?" Stillstorm asked.

"Wait... It says here that the effects remain active as long as the human subconscious considers the bonded Loroi to be under telepathic threat. This can be alleviated when the two of them touch while in a calm mental state." Tempo explained.

"So we just have to touch?" Alex asked at that.

"While in a calm mental state." Tempo said with a nod.

"Alright, let's try this then." Alex said out loud as he walked up to Beryl who offered him her hands when he got close; he gently grabbed her cool hands and they felt each other's full anxiety for the first time.

"Now, calm down, everything is fine and it is going to be okay..."
He sent to Beryl as they closed their eyes while trying to calm each other down. Slowly but surely he sensed her anxiety give way to a serene calmness until it was completely gone.

The Lotai is gone! Somebody broadcasted and Alex's mind was momentarily filled with telepathic cheering before his and Beryl's attention were drawn to something... different a great distance away; they were more than one, unthinking masses of blankness that moved in the void, alien to the both of them and yet eerily familiar. Beryl tried to reach at them in her curiosity but they were too far away and Alex wasn't even sure that the presences were even aware of anything around them before both of them opened their eyes to find themselves back into Tempest's ready room.

_________________
My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)


Wed Jul 25, 2018 1:49 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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The first thing Alex noticed was that even Stillstorm looked more relaxed, now that the immediate crisis was over, but still cast some ugly glances into Tempo's direction, a dark promise that that matter is not entirely over for her.

He almost felt pity for Tempo. Almost. But... She did have good intentions at heart, even if her methods are questionable, he thought, I'd feel like a cad to throw her to the wolves.

Beryl, once having had the chance to get hold of his hands, didn't release them, so she picked his thoughts, even if he never intended to send them to her. She moved around to look him straight into the eyes with a mock-stern expression.

'Captain Alexander Jardin! Stillstorm is about right when she says that positing you as a diplomat would be a ... less than stellar choice. You're much too noble, straight-laced and kind-hearted for politics; the Council and the other ambassadors would skin you alive!'

'Point taken. Perhaps... that's why I found the same wavelength with Losat Brightshield much more easily than I did with Tempo. She seems... less jaded', Alex mused.

A pang of jealousy came from Beryl on hearing that name, but he felt her consciously squashing it down. 'Figures. She doesn't have thirty-five to fourty tozons of experience under her belt like Tempo likely has.'

That brought Alex up short. 'Wait. HOW MANY? If she's into the fourties, I'm eating my badge. Women even a decade or two younger would gladly kill for the secret of her looks.'

'I have it on good authority that she's about fifty tozons old. And before you ask, Stillstorm is into the one hundred and fifties. But, we digress, I think Stillstorm is already getting impatient....'

The elation of the regained sanzai ebbing down and the numerous stations reporting readiness to Stillstorm took its time, but already she was visibly getting curious about what took the two that long, Alex noticed as he returned to the waking world.

"Now that you are back, and everything is back to normal, how can we prevent a repeat performance if Duskcrown ever gets it into her head to mind-scan you or any Loroi around you? And do keep in mind that I will not accept any proposal that includes removing you from my ship."

"Even less so after what we experienced just now. I ... think it would be better to show, rather than to tell. As we're now neck deep entangled in a giant government cover up...", there Stillstorm wasn't above casting another ugly glance at Tempo, "perhaps my Lotai might accept you as trustworthy, too", he said, extending his free hand.

"That sounds surprisingly logical. It has been a long time since I had to earn someone's trust. I almost forgot how it feels like", Stillstorm nodded, taking Alex's hand in a firm grasp.

For a long moment, nothing happened, and as he felt Stillstorm lose patience, he tried at sending to her. '?'

He received a feeling of satisfaction coming from her and slowly, but surely, the impressions formed themself to words.

'...this is indeed so much better, won't you agree? A pity though, that we might not have to... but now I see how you regard it as a matter of honor to not to have an encounter with specific Loroi in question...'

Alex got the impression that the matter is still not quite closed for her, just put on hold.

'...But, since I sense Beryl here, too, but no one else, it means we're all covered under your Lotai?', Stillstorm inquired, which Alex confirmed.

'Mizol would gladly kill for an ability like this. They could pass undetected and exchange intelligence without ever being overheard', Stillstorm admonished, 'But, what is it what you wanted to show me?'

Alex moved the collective focus outward again, past Fireblade's blazing presence, out into the void.

There... the feeling of blankness against the void. Alex likened it to looking at an object covered with Vantablack, the blackest material known to humans. No structures, no nothing, just... an even deeper void, provoking a primeval fear in him, even more so because of the sense of familiarity it has. The only way to discern these ... nothingnesses ... was against the backdrop, like a cloud moving across the sky.

'I see them... but what do I see there? And why do these ... things have you so agitated?', Stillstorm asked.

'For the latter question... I don't know. Back on the shuttle we speculated that proto-humans might have come across a telepathic foe and had to develop the Lotai as a defense... and this... might resemble our genetic memories of said foe. As for your former question... could it be that they might be these 'invisible' Shell divisions?'

Stillstorm paused at this and Alex felt her 'gaze' shift to these ... things ... once more.

'And, given your own Lotai you might be more adept at detecting other active Lotai, once you got sensitized to it. Makes sense. And, incidentally you have given me excellent leverage in the matter with Duskcrown.'

'What do you mean? Wait, let me guess - me, alive and sane, being able to detect these invisible divisions, is of a much higher value to all of you than me, my mind turned into mush, likely dead, or shipped off to God-knows-where.'

Did he just sense Stillstorm's approval? He wasn't sure.

'So you aren't completely inept when it comes to politics, once you see the full picture. Still, do please stay as a military advisor to cause chaos in the enemy ranks, rather than ours.'

'Can you pinpoint their location?', Alex asked.

'Not right now. We need to move and ... have you try assense them anew. But let's return to reality.'

Alex was jolted awake when Stillstorm removed her hand, blinking in confusion.

"Congratulations. You do have advanced from being a nuisance no one actually knew what to do with to quite a valuable asset which already started to turn this disaster into something more palatable and has the unique potential of continuing to do so. I am sure even Duskcrown wouldn't be that insipid of squandering the opportunity your strange brand of sanzai presents. For now, you are dismissed, but I have need of your talents in about four thousand solons for another scan. Keep yourself at ready."

With the explicit dismissal, both Beryl and Fireblade tugged on his arms in an eerie repeat of his dismissal from the bridge after the destruction of the Bellarmine. Tempo was about to leave as well, but a sharp glance by Stillstorm rooted her in place.

'I get the feeling that now the real chewing out starts for Tempo just right now...', Alex sent to the two Loroi.

'Let's get back to your quarters. And what is this about? Classified files? Hidden triggers in the ship's systems? A human on Deinar, four hundred tozons ago? You being not the first, but second contact? A standing order to bring everything even remotely connected to humans to Seren?', Beryl rattled off questions a mile a minute.

'Slow down, Beryl. I admit, I'm curious as well.', Fireblade sent. 'Perhaps with these files out in the open, you can access them from Enzin's quarters with your authentication.'

Beryl's already brisk stride turned into an almost run and as they reached his quarters she wasted no time to enter her own access keys to bring up any new files for her to peruse.

Scrolling though most of them - anatomy, physiology, biochemistry - and briefly scanning some more - case report about the 'lost diral', the discovery of the ruins with a hitherto unknown purpose - she stopped short at another file. Genetic engineering?

Even Fireblade was intrigued as Beryl opened the file, starting to read it thoroughly, her eyes going wide.

'Stars, I understand not even a quarter of what's written there.... but is that really possible?', Fireblade sent, completely stunned.

'Uh... Ladies? One heads up for the latecomer from a primitive planet here? Please?', Alex tried at a bit of leeway.

'It says....', Beryl started, '...it describes a procedure how to modify a human's gamete to create a viable offspring with a Loroi.'

'WHAT?! Did they....', Alex sent, completely flabbergasted.

'Nothing here says that it was ever attempted, but the research was initiated by.... strange, this seems to be redacted here ... on the behest of one Soroin Tiris Tin. Why would a Soroin...?'

'Wait, Tin? Please open that case report file again...?', Fireblade prompted. 'There, the diral's roster. Leader: Initiate Tin, spoken name 'Argent'.'

Alex felt a little light headed. Tempo was right - the implications of these files could be disastrous. The idea that there had been a human in Deinar's past. Then, the idea that he might have had a child - or children - with a Loroi. Not even knowing about the circumstances.

And the idea that human women could quickly be put at a disadvantage, were they ever to compete with Loroi.

As for that part, he could already feel Beryl mulling several ideas in her head.

And Fireblade as well.

I should stop digging. Because, every time I do, I somehow find myself in an even deeper hole, he groaned.

He was sort of rescued by the door opening, revealing Tempo.

A contrite Tempo with her hair being shorn off, in her black off-duty outfit. Fireblade winced at the sight.

She took a moment to take in the sight. Alex, being flanked by Beryl and Fireblade. "Oh... It looks like I came at an inopportune time. If it is alright with you, I shall return later?"



Thu Jul 26, 2018 6:26 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

Alex eyed her closely before making a decision.

"No, it's fine we are done here." He said.

"Beryl please look into this and try to find what was going on with this genetic engineering thing. Fireblade just leave us alone, I and Tempo need to talk."
Both of the acknowledged his wishes and left his cabin, Tempo and Fireblade exchanging glances as they passed by each other.

"Say whatever you have to say." He told her dryly without even standing up.

"I have been in error, I should have looked for the complete data cache in the databases of the rest of the Strike Group the moment I learned of it. If I had done this none of this would have happened and for this grave mistake from my part I am sorry." Tempo replied with a steady voice and expression.

"Is this the only thing you need to apologize for?" Alex asked her, feeling his anger flare up from within him.

"I will not apologize for saving your life and keeping the Union stable." She replied with the same steady expression and voice.

"You don't seem to get it, I am expendable." He noticed her wince at that. "My mission is to do anything and everything possible to safeguard my entire race from a war that we have nothing to do about. I told you that I don't want us to end up worse than the Mannadi and the Tithric when you are done with us because of what your government thinks of us; I am fully prepared to die if it means that no Loroi fleet will lay waste on our worlds. I fully trusted you and Stillstorm to do everything in your power to make sure that the Union would not allow any maniac like Duskcrown to do exactly that; if the price to do that was my lobotomization and death then I would gladly pay it. That message wasn't just an attempted blackmail for my well being, it was my final insurance against the genocide of my race and you denied it."

"I understand your conviction but I will not apologize for saving your life and keeping the Union stable." Tempo repeated with the same unchanging voice and expression.

"Too late on the later and the former may still come to pass." He pointed out dryly at that.

"No, neither of these will happen. Stillstorm isn't an idiot to let such classified information spread, that's why she contacted only Mazeit Moonglow and Torrets Ashrain and Archlight to test your claims. Of those three only Ashrain was able to convince her Mizol intelligence chief to send the newly unlocked files to the Strike Group's commander, the other two didn't cooperate; to the chagrin of their commanding officers." Tempo replied.

"So your little secret is safe? Then how did Beryl have full access to the data?" Alex pointed out with a smile.

"The Commander believes that Beryl should have said access to ensure hers and yours full cooperation; she is after all the Loroi you share the deepest bond with." Tempo explained and for a moment he thought he saw her mask crack a bit before she regained her full composure.

"And how is my life safe? Stillstorm may think that the latest development with me 'sensing' the Shell Lotai will be enough but I am not convinced."

"Stillstorm didn't realize that the orders for you being transported to meet the Imperial cabinet surpass even Duskcrown's authority. I don't know how or why but the Imperial codes for the orders match Azerein Greywind's verification codes after I referenced them, not just a member of her cabinet. You are to be transported to 'Cry of the Wind', alive and unharmed; the Emperor herself issued these orders and Duskcrown cannot countermand them even if you came attached to a Shell." Tempo explained.

"The Emperor? The Loroi Emperor?" Alex asked in disbelief.

"Yes."

"Why would the Emperor even give these orders? And wasn't she crowned at the height of the war?" Alex asked without thinking

"Yes, Greywind was crowned at the darkest moment of the war and as to why she gave these orders? I can think of many reasons, just one of whom is the fact that humanity is a telepathic species. That alone would draw the Emperor's own attention even in the middle of this war. She also came from the Mizol caste, it is not improbable that she was aware of the 'Deinar Human' long before she became the Emperor." Tempo replied with the same unchanging expression that somehow ended agitating Alex even more than the ridiculousness of it all.

"Humor more me this then, why wasn't this data triggered when I was revived on Tempest?" He asked. "You had run all kinds of test on me and yet this didn't happen, Brightshield thought that this was because Tempest was a relatively new warship and that the data from Gora Relay was really old."

"Tempest is the last of the Vortex class warships and has undergone extensive refurbishing from its engineers as they try to keep her in combat ready status despite the lack of certain class specific spare parts. Its computer systems have undergone several maintenance periods where extensive amounts of data were lost and mission critical data had to be copied from other ships. It's not unreasonable to conclude that the data pertaining to the 'Deinar Human' was lost during such a maintenance period." Tempo explained.

"At one point the thought of the strike group's ships not having said data had crossed my mind but I decided to risk it anyway, mainly because I thought that you would relent and inform Stillstorm yourself; I gave you plenty of time to do just that but you kept at it despite all the reasons to the contrary, why?"

"I was not of sound mind and judgement at the time. There were ample reasons that would justify me in informing the Commander of this classified matter, you even mentioned one yourself; that the safe running of the Strike Group's flagship was a priority over the classification. I should have pursued the data pertaining to the 'Deinar Human' days ago and I should have done so before I... caused your Lotai to engulf the ship." Tempo replied, her expression wavering momentarily as she said that.

"What? What do you mean that you caused my Lotai to engulf the ship?" Alex demanded angrily.

"I insisted on deep probing Beryl in order to collect any and all data that would otherwise be collected from you. She cooperated at first in order to ensure your safety but her cooperation wasn't enough to get everything that Duskcrown would demand out of you. Her mind resisted and I pressed through the resistance and despite her protests; you Lotai engulfed the entire ship a moment after that." Tempo replied with the same tone of voice and the same unchanging expression, driving him over an edge he didn't know he hanged over.

"You murderous bitch!" He screamed at her as he jumped on his. "How could you do this to one of your own? How could you do this to Beryl?"

"I was not of a sound mind and judgement and I couldn't think of any alternatives at the moment." Tempo replied.

"You murderous, lying and conniving excuse of a warrior. You think that this was enough of an excuse to harm Beryl?" He yelled at her.

"Your safety is enough to excuse any such act."

"What? You... You..." He could already picture himself pummeling her head against the bulkhead as he tried to come up with the words, any words to express himself. "I would kill for her and now you spout shit like this!"

"You are not expendable to me!" She cried out in agitation, her words and agitated expression knocking some sense back into him.

He looked straight into her stubborn red eyes, her lips trembling from the agitated tension that was clear on her face. He felt his anger retreat, his legs losing all their strength as he sat on his bed to bury his face into the palms of his hands.

"Get out." Alex said as he tried to control his breathing but he didn't hear her take a step for several long seconds, his anger flaring up again at that. "I said, Get out!"

He looked up to her only to see her standing naked at the same spot she was standing before, with her body suit at her ankles and her arms pressed at the side of her body as she stood in attention.

"What do you think you are doing?" Was all he could think of saying at the pitiful sight she offered.

"I have no honor, I have repeatedly failed in my duties towards you and the Union. I cannot make amends in any way for what I have done and I can offer no recompense to either you or Beryl. It is only just for you to do with me as you will." Tempo said with a trembling voice while sitting perfectly still.

"Get dressed and get out." Alex said as he averted his gaze from her, this time Tempo did as she was told and put her bodysuit back on.

"I will not bother you again and I will inform the Commander that I am no longer able to liaise with you. I will recommend Losat Brightshield to fulfill my position." She said and made to leave.

"You stupid bitch!" Alex said angrily as he grabbed her hand and forced her to look him in the eyes. "Never lie to me again, can you do that?"

"Yes."

"Never even think of harming one of mine, can you do that?" He asked her again.

"Yes."

"Good..." He said as he let her go. "Go, calm down and get some sleep. We will both need it for tomorrow." Tempo just stood there staring at him for a few moments before deciding to speak again.

"Thank you." She said and left his cabin.


* * *

"She wasn't well when she came to see him but she is better now, I wonder what he told her."
Fireblade sent as she sensed Tempo walk back to her quarters.

"For a moment I could feel him enraged to the point of being ready to kill her."
Beryl replied as she read the genetic engineering data on her console.

"What? Why?"


"I think that Tempo told him what exactly led to his Lotai engulfing the ship. He didn't like it."
Beryl replied.

"Figures... I could sense his sentiments towards you even when we mated."
Fireblade commented.

"And I could sense the ones he now holds for you, don't underestimate the bond you now share with him Fireblade."
Fireblade sensed that there was no sense of jealousy or apprehension in Beryl's mind as she sent that; unlike when she pictured Stillstorm or Brightshield being with him.

"You truly care for him, I know it and he knows it."
Beryl commented at that before her mind flared up in irritation. "This is stupid, this is all wrong, this would never work! The biochemical markers are all wrong and there is no adaptation for the human genome in order to produce viable cells without the necessary endosymbionts that the human cells need to function. This is all made up to look legitimate but it would never work." Beryl sent in agitation.

"It's all fake research? Why would someone even go to the effort to do this?"
Fireblade asked.

"I don't know, it's all stupid!"
Beryl replied angrily and even... dejectedly over the lost prospect of having his child.

"Perhaps the way you react now is the reason."
Fireblade commented, Beryl's mind flaring up in anger before the realization hit her.

"Someone had deeply bonded with the human of Deinar."
Beryl thought.

"Perhaps more than one."
Fireblade commented.

"The lost diral, there is no record of what happened to its members after they were took in by the Hos'te blec clan."
Beryl thought as she looked something in the archives. "Yes, the clan drew a lot of attention about 400 tozons ago when they produced a large number of Mizol caste warriors. It was even rumored that the only reason the Mizol caste gained a real foothold on Deinar was because of those warriors as the Deinari Loroi had only begrudgingly accepted the Mizol caste after the unification and held them in disdain even after all that time and now 400 tozons later a Deinari Mizol is on the throne and the Hos'te blec clan has been allowed to remain functional and prosperous despite the anti-clan acts of the past."

"I don't think this is a coincidence."
Fireblade commented at that.

_________________
My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)


Last edited by Guest on Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Jul 26, 2018 12:59 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:
With his head in his hands, Alex sat on his bed for a long time. In his mind he played back the events of the day. It was quite a lot and the vivid images made it hard for him to concentrate.

Apparently he was able to send to Fireblade now, too. He hoped it was a fluke that it happened shortly after their sex. Stillstorm might decide to link him with the whole crew this way otherwise. Her theory remained still untested and now that they had managed to sanzai each other via touch, Alex noted with relief, she was no longer a candidate to test it. To see whether sex was a shortcut, required a Loroi he didn't trust.
"I hope it's not going to be Tempo now." he dreaded. Tempo worried him too. How foolish he had been to trust her. He was warned about Mizol and should have known from the start. She had been introduced by Beryl as a diplomatic officer. That alone should have made him distrust her. How did his subconsciousness ever start trusting her? The answer came to him nearly instantantly. Her perfect looks, that's what made him lower his guard. Her great personality did the rest. Though now he wondered how much of her personality was real.

She certainly looked remorseful. With her bald head, she even looked downright pitiful. To Alex it seemed, all her pride had been in her hair. What was that? She just undressed and presented herself to him like a piece of meat. Even through his still brooding anger, he pitied her. Perhabs she would keep her word and never harm him or Beryl again. What he had seen in her eyes certainly made that likely. It would also explain why he had still not refrained from making that conciliatory gesture at the end.

What else had he seen? Oh yeah, just the whole Umiak fleet in this system, under their Lotai. He had forgotten. He supposed that should concern him. Their fleet outnumbered the Strike Group still 10 to 1 or so. Depending on how many ships would return from Sala-128, that could change for the better or worse. SG51, Alex mused, was still in position around the jumppoint to Sala-128 and so far the Shells had made no moves to dislodge them. With their superior numbers, they could if they applied themselfes. Would they? Most definitely, letting the Tinza Fleet escape from Sala would jeopardize their whole offensive. It all depended on how long it took them to reorganise after the death of their local commander. What vectors would they come in and would they send several divisions at once or space them out?

A bleep tore him from his thoughts. His data pad had just started blinking. As he grapped it, he checked the time. Nearly two hours had passed. A message was on the screen.

The message read: "Captain Jardin, come to my office. And don't worry about them. Stillstorm."

Wondering whom she meant, he made to leave. Opposite his door two Loroi jerked to attention. A brown haired Doranzer and a Soroin. The Doranzer he recognized from the first time he woke up. The Soroin he had never seen. Since she wore combat gear, Alex also didn't see her rank.

The two looked at him awkwardly for a moment. Then the Soroin introduced herself. "Captain Jardin, Soroin Tiris Rainsplatter. Do not worry, we here for safety. Not see us."

Alex wasn't aware of any safety concerns. Having him watched made sense however.
"Is there cause to worry, Tiris Rainsplatter?"

Where a human would have said well or uh, the Soroin stayed silent. Then she answered briefly.
"Commander will tell you."

Following her gesture, Alex started moving towards Stillstorms office. By now he was more familiar with the layout of Tempest and made his way relatively quickly. The multiple Loroi that ran into him didn't say anything, as was usual, but for once, the looks they gave were directed behind him, where the two Loroi followed him. Apart from the occasional clatter of the armor, both were silent.

This time Stillstorm answered almost immediately "Enter!" as he knocked. She sat at her desk with a pile of data pads in front of her. Several monitors were extended and a large projection of the system behind her showed SG51s and their enemies positions. A green arrow was drawn coming in from the vector to Sala-128. A timespan had been written below it next to a span of percentages.

He entered and followed Stillstorms cue to take a seat in front of her desk. His guards remained at the entrance. His neck had begun to prickle.

"Captain Jardin." Stillstorm greeted him. "Diversions are over. We need to concentrate on the Shells again."

Alex threw a sideglance at the display. The Umiak formations had shifted and repositioned in the last hours. It seemed their command problems had resolved themselfes.

"What is the situation, Commander?"

Stillstorm shoved a data pad across to him. "The Shells have repositioned three divisions to hit us with. They seek to retake control over the jump point. We are still waiting on the fleet to return from Sala-128."

"Do we know when that will be, Commander?" asked Alex.

"I can make guesses. Maximum system travel time in Sala is close to 65.000 Solon. If we add a bit of maneuvering leeway to that, Tinza Fleet should return anywhere from 20.000 Solon to 30.000 Solon."

"I see. Then we need to hold the jump point for at least 30.000 Solon. I suppose the Shells will hit us sooner?"

Stillstorm acknowledged that. "Indeed. They come in three waves. The first will reach us in 12.000 Solon, the next 4.000 later and the last 4.000 later again. Once past us, they will like decelerate and reverse for another pass, 10.000 or so Solon later."

Hours of near constant fighting weren't good news for their Strike Group. Alex distinctly remembered that Historian pointing out how poorly suited SG51 was for static defense. Their situation was so engrossing, he nearly forgot the prickling in his neck.

Stillstorm continued as he was pouring over fleet compositions: "I have informed the Parat that you will now be working directly under me, Captain. Now that we can use Sanzai, I expect things to go smoothly."

Alex perked up. Had she just said Parat? Alex asked: "Parat? Tempo is still a Parat?"

Stillstorm replied with a curious look: "Of course, what else is she supposed to be?"

Carefully aware of his guards, Alex carefully phrased his next question. "I thought that with the drastic changes she would be taking a break from her duties?"

Stillstorm just shrugged: "There are no breaks for anyone here. I need all hands. She'll get a reprimand and then the matter is settled."

"Then the longest penalty will be her haircut?" a surprised Alex asked.

"Shame is temporary, Captain. Her honor will regrow in a few tozon." Stillstorm said. Then she leaned forward and showed him something on her screen. At first it was covered randomly with red lines, but slowly he managed to see. Those were trajectories for missiles and torpedoes.

"I need to decide where to deploy the point defenses. You're going to work that out, Captain."

A few minutes into his work, Alex heard a sniff coming from behind him. He turned around and saw his guards. The Soroin had one hand leisurely on her gun. That hand looked so relaxed there, that not a single muscle moved. It was obviously at home.

Alex turned to Stillstorm: "Commander, I can better concentrate without guards. Surely I don't need safety in your office?"

Stillstorm gave the two guards a sidelong glance and said: "They are here for the safety of Tempest, Captain. Ignore them."

"I don't follow, Commander."

As answer Stillstorm let out a heavy breath. "SG51 will soon be in pitched battle. Who knows what your subconsciousness decides to do if we take battle damage."

"What are you insinuating, Commander?"

Just as the Soroin had, Stillstorm too needed a moment before she spoke: "Captain, we can't risk a ship wide Lotai during battle. Loroi that can't control their abilities can often kill with a thought. Drastic measures sometimes have to be taken to avoid danger."

Alex turned around on his stool. The two Loroi behind him did their best to avoid eye contact. Stillstorm had just turned a lot of doubts in his mind into horrible reality. He turned again.

"Okay, that explains the Soroin, but why the Doranzer?"

"We try drugs first. You will be content and relaxed, Captain."

Worst part of this was, that these two would immediately notice should his Lotai act up. Alex epected to feel a needle before he saw anything alarming.

"Aren't you under orders to deliver me to the Emperor, Commander?" he managed.

"I can't do that if Tempest founders. This is a cold necessity every Loroi on board is aware of. Better use that mind of yours, Captain."



"I don't think it's a coincidence either." replied Beryl. "I wonder if one of the elder Listel has a first hand memory about this."

"We will only find out if, I mean when we leave Enedd, Beryl. No need to worry about Deinar now." send Fireblade.

"It's all so frustrating, Fireblade. Here we are with all this knowledge, all these huge discoveries and I might never get to share them. The Union will not even hear from it unless we somehow defeat the biggest invasion of the past decade."

"Food?" asked the Teidar.

"Food." agreed Beryl.

The two had sat in the mess hall for quite a while. Empty plates pushed to the side while they discussed their discoveries when the rumour came. It made them both stop immediately. An uncertain image from a hallway. Two Loroi standing in front of a cabin, Enzins cabin. As the impression became clearer, Beryl and Fireblade shared a horrified look.

The blanket of Lotai had been the talk of the ship. Every Loroi, no matter the rank had discussed it. There isn't much that can make Pasets vehemently argue with Teidar, but today every Loroi was an equal in uncertainty.

Tiris Rainsplatter in front of Enzins door, special forces no less, made the conclusion obvious to all. Captain Alexander Jardin, first ambassador of humanity would hear about one of the oldest traditions of the Loroi.

Beryl and Fireblade each felt the surge of worry coming from the other. A fact comforting to both. It didn't change the brutal logic behind any of it though. One more thing to worry about.

Memories from Fireblades own training seeped through but were cut short, as Mizol Losat Brightshield made contact.

"Pallan Fireblade." she sent with some respect. "Tozet Listel." she sent with less.

As Beryl was busy staring daggers, Fireblade answered. "Losat Brightshield, what is it?"

"I plan to test some of the limits of Enzins Lotai." she said.

Beryl was immediately alarmed. While she still felt the after effects of Tempos touch on her mind, she was far more worried about Enzin. A worry that made her jerk up from her stool.

"What are you scheming, Mizol?" she sent.

"Nothing bad, youngling. We will find out what the range on this new sending of his is."

"Why would we help you, Brightshield?"

"Tozet Beryl, have you forgotten that I talk to you only when necessary? This is official."

The insult stung, because while she hadn't forgotten, Beryl had been inattentive. Something a Listel never should be.

"As long as it keeps you from Enzin." conceded Beryl.

"Oh, haven't you heard, Tozet? I have been appointed as Enzins new liaison. He will see a lot of me."


Thu Jul 26, 2018 5:43 pm
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

Alex regarded the two Loroi with renewed trepidation, but to their credit, both the Soroin and the Doranzer eyed him with chagrined expressions. To Alex it was clear that they didn't wish to be in a position like this where they would have to hurt him... or maybe just any male. He tried at a reassuring smile and sanzai, though he doubted that they received him.

"Everything to protect your ship, and us being dead and the Tempest destroyed would render any orders about me moot, anyway? I respect that, truly. And I am not holding it against you. Any of you", he added, coined towards the two Loroi.

"Everything to protect my ship, this system, and the Union at a whole", she confirmed, holding out her hand in that gesture Alex came to recognize. "Uh...", Alex hestitated, hand outstretched, "just saying, when you do this, you go dark for the rest of the ship?"

"Of course.", she said with a slightly condescending tone, "I have instructed my bridge crew to trigger an alarm on my console if something requires my immediate attention and I am ... unavailable." Not waiting any further, she took Alex's hand in a firm grip.

'Perhaps this strange gesture of yours is a remnant from the time your people conversed with that peculiar sanzai of yours?', she asked after making contact.

Huh, that was unexpected, he thought to himself. 'Uh... no. As far as I know it came from the time when humans started to use weapons like swords and such which they had strapped at their hips like today's sidearms. Two humans using their main hand for a handshake makes it impossible for them to reach for their weapons. Well, but it moved beyond the original intention.'

'Interesting. And as for these 'precautions'... I have no wish to resort to this every time we go into battle, so do make getting conscious control over your Lotai a priority, as well as your training with Teidar Ragan Razorthorn. But, enough chatter. This is the situation we face. Your input on this?'

For a long time Alex was silent, but she could feel him entertaining and dismissing one thoght after another, playing out various scenarious.

'This position is definitely untenable as it is. We are too few and ill-suited to stand and defend the jump zone, all we can do is try to harass them as they approach. They have to do so on a narrow vector, though, unless they need to evade or change course for any reason... here's my idea....'

---//---

Tempo knew she had lost everything. Her honor, her dignity... and if it's not for the battle situation, it would have been her rank, too. Stillstorm made it abundantly clear.

She rubbed her hand over her shorn scalp. Shred this, to add insult to injury, it itches, even.

I deserve that, she thought remorsefully, remembering how she took the razor in hand and turning it on her locks.

Shocked glances met her on her way from the bridge back to her quarters, but no one dared to send to her. Or were revulsed by her appearance and what it implies. She became a pariah amongst the warriors...

Save for Cloud. Good and loyal Cloud, still holding a candle for her.

Her thoughts went back to moment in his cabin. There she was, nude and completely at his mercy.... and he sent her away.

Even more depressing, when he grabbed her hand, she felt... nothing. His Lotai must have been back in place, meaning he lost any and all trust in her.

A Mizol shouldn't get so worked up, she tried to collect herself, People not trusting us is par for the course for us.

But this is Enzin, another part of her mind countered. He came to an accord with even Fireblade and Stillstorm, and you, a trained diplomat, lost everything with him.

These shredded Deinar files!, she cursed, Everything started to go downhill with them. He was right. Secrets made everything go to Oblivion faster than a hyperspace jump. Had I...

She sighed. Now even this route of making amends had been taken from her, as he had Beryl going over them with a fine toothed comb.

"You are not expendable to me!", Tempo shouted towards Alex, and since then, she had lots of time to get a grip on her feelings.

This had not been a calculated move. This had been raw, unaltered emotion. She felt attached to him, longing for him...

...like Beryl and now Fireblade does?, she blinked in realization. Is this the secret of the humans, that they can form bonds that strong that they are willing to sacrifice everything for each other..?

Now she felt even more lost, as Enzin is hidden behind his Lotai again.

His last demands.... never lie to him again, or hurt one if his... that's something she can do.

Something she has to do if she ever wishes to feel that closeness to him again.

This sounds so wrong to all that is Loroi. Such attachments are not our way. But why does it feel so right?

She had no idea. Asking Enzin, or Beryl... out of question. Fireblade... Tempo feared the prospect of facing her as well. She saw that these two warriors - a bubbly Listel and a dour Teidar, of all things, you can't get bigger opposites than these two! - even bonded to each other over him, through him. Yes, Fireblade might take exception at her hurting Beryl as well.

Perhaps I misjudged you over the choice of your ... bondeds...?, Tempo thought. But, if she can't ask them, who can she ask?

Maybe the 'lost diral', and the only other human ever encountered, she concluded, turning to her console, putting up a listing of the Deinar files.

---//---

'And I am the dutifully appointed recorder of all events concerning and surrounding Captain Jardin, so your appointment concerns me as well, if you want it official', Beryl bit back.

Brightshield smiled, a sweet and poisonous smile. 'Oh, I already know what kind of memories you're after... is he that good? Nevermind, I guess I'll have ample chance to try out myself....'

Even Fireblade blinked in shock. The nerve....!

'And what makes you think that he would trust another Mizol, after he got severely burned by the first one? Leaving messages in one's brain might be a Mizol prank, but I bet everyone else sees it as poor taste, and her AND YOUR secrets might get him killed and almost got me mindraped!', Beryl exploded.

'Temper, temper', Brightshield tsked, 'Might be you need a refresher lesson in opsec. And as to why he would trust me... I revealed the existence of the Deinar files to him firsthand, and that alone should count for something, and ....'

'Did he ever send to you?', Beryl cut in.

Brightshield blinked, and Beryl broke into a smile of her own as no answer was forthcoming. 'Thought as much. Unless you manage to send to him, and he to you, especially over distance, do not talk to me about trust.'

Fireblade rose an eyebrow but kept silent. I guess I need to reassess my opinion about Listel. They sure can get downright nasty, too, she thought with grudging admiration. Me, Beryl, Talon, and Stillstorm, to an extent? Enzin, you sure know how to pick spirited warriors.

'Whose hopper-brained idea was it anyway, to appoint you of all things?', Beryl tacked on.

'Not that it's of any concern to you, since you're just here to remember events, but it was Parat Tempo who resigned from her position and put me forth as a replacement, and Lashret Stillstorm countersigned it.'

Delivering her final blow, Brightshield stood up from the stool she sat herself on and sashayed out of the mess hall.

Up until a stool next to a table to the side started to move by itself right into her path, making her trip over it and collapse in an undignified heap on the floor.

Brightshield casted a sharp glance at the Teidar who seemed to be more interested in her fingernails at the moment.

Beryl's eyes went wide as she glanced from Brightshield, righting herself and making her egress in a less dignified manner, to Fireblade. 'Did you just...'

Fireblade glanced at Beryl with a rather guarded expression, but Beryl was sure she saw the corner of her mouth twitching. 'Do not ask if you don't really wish to know the answer.'



Fri Jul 27, 2018 9:15 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

"Now what are they doing?" Alex asked as he saw the vector changes of the three incoming divisions. The division that would have reached them first had pivoted and broke their velocity considerably as if waiting the other two to link up with them.

"It seems that they had a change of plans..." Stillstorm replied. "Instead of three attacks 4000 solons from each other they will coalesce into a single force; if it is their standard doctrine about securing a jump point by dislodging a hostile force then they will expand their formations and hit our ships as we come in range instead of forming a wedge to target a specific point of attack. They have the long range firepower to keep us away with the torpedo barrage of three combined divisions and the depleted Van squadron would have trouble with the barrage and gunboats of a single division, three are too much."

"There goes my plan..." Alex commented at that.

"It was a decent proposal and one that Strike Groups like the 51st often employ. Splitting off the wings and hitting them from different vectors at the same time; four small targets from different angles instead of one concentrated one, the Shells have trouble adapting to that due to their maniacal target fixation. The risk is that one of the wings might get too close and ends up facing an the combined firepower of an entire division; I have seen it happen too many times." Stillstorm replied. "I would have probably had decided to do that on my own, the position is after all untenable and killing a few more Shells before they reclaim the point would be preferable that simply withdrawing from it without a fight."

"So there was no way to keep the route from Sala-128 open in the end..." Alex said dryly.

"There isn't a way to keep the jump point with just one strike group but the route to Nezel is still open. My recommendation to Duskcrown was for her to deep jump the fleet and then head straight for Nezel, to do that I would try to lure as much of the Shell fleet away from the possible intercept vectors and this I have accomplished by simply staying on top of the jump point to Sala-128." Stillstorm explained.

Looking at the map again Alex realized what Stillstorm had taken a sensible choice although not the one that he would have taken. He would have used the Strike Group's superior mobility to keep the enemy off balance and dispersed, perhaps making them waste their torpedo inventory with mock attacks. It would be risky but that's what he would have done. Instead Stillstorm elected to trick the Umiak into concentrating their forces to retake the high priority objective that was the jump point to Sala-128; in order to blockade it and to be in the position to intercept anyone who jumped in but if the fleet deep jumped then they would be bypassing said blockade much in the same way Stillstorm bypassed the blockade on Azimol's jump point.

"Deep jumping the fleet will be risky though; especially if they jump while in combat." Alex commented.

"A calculated risk, Enedd is a red dwarf so deep jumps in this system are relatively safe." Stillstorm replied.

"Understandable..." Alex said while nodding. "I was quite surprised that it took them so long to regain their composure, don't they have an established chain of command about who is to be in charge if the commander is killed?"

"The Shells have a convoluted command system; their empire is highly compartmentalized and the different compartments don't interact much with one an other. The Shells are also very humble and unassuming on the individual level; one of them clamoring to take the overall command after the death of the previous commander wouldn't be like them. The overall commander would have appointed someone to take their place beforehand but if that someone had been killed or was unavailable then there would be a command vacuum until the rest came to a consensus about who was in overall command." Stillstorm explained.

"Such a second or even third in overall command would have certainly be sent to Sala-128 or would have been in the rear-guard action of Leido." Alex commented.

"Indeed... In any case it looks like the strike group will have to reposition before the combined Shell force comes in range." Stillstorm said at that.

"We have certainly wasted enough of their time already..." Alex commented before deciding to ask something that had really bothered him with the tactical doctrine the Loroi employed in all of their engagements. "If I may Commander, I find certain aspects of Loroi tactical doctrine to be odd; would you mind to explain the thinking behind them to me?"

"We certainly have the time..."

"Thank you... I can see the benefits of the interceptors in the point defense role and even in an assault role when the circumstances are right but I simply can't shake the feeling that it would be better to simply emulate the enemy's doctrine with the use of dedicated missile cruisers and gunboats in the point defense and offensive roles. Especially since the Shells seem so inept in using their torpedoes and gunboats effectively." Alex said.

"There have been many who have advocated to do what you say..." Stillstorm begun. "But what do you mean that the Shells are so inept in using them?"

"Here, let me show you." Alex said as he brought up a simulated tactical display with the console in front of him. "Normal Shell doctrine is to use the gunboats and torpedoes as 'skirmishers', a combination light units and expendable weapons meant to cause disarray on the opposing side before the main units of the assault are brought to bear."

He showed her a standard Umiak assault with the gunboats and torpedoes darting ahead of their main battle line.

"But what if the gunboats were employed as fast, detached weapon platforms that would harass the flanks?"

This time he showed the Umiak assault changed, instead of the gunboats darting ahead with the torpedoes they coalesced into two groups that would rush to the flanks of the defending formation while the main assault would wedge itself against the center of the formation without receiving the crossfire from the flanks.

"Or even better, what if the gunboats were used in an active assault role during the attack?"

The third simulation had the gunboats stay behind the main Shell battle line up until the moment of contact, then they would dart ahead by squadrons to attack the defending formation as their ships ballooned away from the wedge, several gunboats hitting individual ships at will as they were without any fire support from a defensive formation.

"And then there is their approach with their torpedoes, a fast detached formation made up from missile ships would wreck havoc to any defensive line if they were allowed to fire their ordinance from radically different vectors while the main assault took place." Alex finished and Stillstorm just looked at the frozen simulation for a few moments before turning her gaze back at him.

"I think that you and Torret Ashrain would get along well, she has showed me similar simulations plenty of times so we would come up with possible counters to them." Stillstorm begun. "The Shells however would not use such assault tactics; they are maniacally focused on beating down the enemy with overwhelming brute force rather than use any form of finesse in their tactics. Even the Stray hasn't used such tactics, not because it is a foolish Shell but because they demand daring and open thinking local commanders, something that the Shells lack."

"I see, I have thought about why the Shells aren't using such flexible aggressive tactics and I tried to understand their mindset; on humans such aggressiveness was prided among mounted warriors who would use mass assault tactics much like the Shells do, forming wedges to break up the enemy formation or by simply running down less massive infantry formations who didn't have the weapons necessary to counter them but human mounted warriors coupled this aggressiveness with the superior mobility of their mounts in order to strike from the best possible positions but the Shells don't do this which I found it extremely out of place." Alex explained.

"Mounted warriors? Humans used mounted animals in their warfighting?" Stillstorm asked.

"Yes, of course. Didn't the Loroi do the same?"

"No, there were attempts to use large miros as mounts on Deinar, some of them successfully but the miros is a temperamental animal that can't be counted on to be used as a tool of war." Stillstorm replied.

"I see, the vast majority of our mounted warriors used 'horses' as their mounts. They are large, strong quadrupedal animals that was also extensively used as a beast of burden in our pre-industrial eras." Alex explained and was surprised when Stillstorm extended her arm towards him again.

"I want you to show them to me."

"Of course." Alex replied as he took her hand in his, showing her images of horses and how large and fast they were.

"Yes, they do look like majestic creatures; and they are herbivores?"
Stillstorm asked.

"Yes, they couldn't be used in warfighting if they were carnivorous, too dangerous for their riders and too expensive from a logistics point of view."


"And how did the mounted warriors fight?"
Stillstorm asked and Alex showed her various images of light and heavy cavalry as well as horse archers and the general idea of their employment.

"I see, light cavalry for harassment and heavy cavalry with heavy armor, heavy swords and long spears designed to strike hard at a formation."


"Cavalry spears are called lances, long spears designed to be carried by charging cavalry. They were first used by the cavalry unit of an ancient conquering warrior King who popularized my name, Alexander the Great, but they became prevalent by the mounted warrior nobility of our middle ages, the knights."
Alexander explained as he mentally described how heavy cavalry operated and attacked.

"I see, the knights do look like warriors as we Loroi would describe them."
Stillstorm commented, impressed by the picture of the heavily armed and armored knight on top of an armored warhorse.

"They were later popularized as a chivalrous and altruistic ideal but they were mostly just a militant nobility who were mostly looking for their own interests and were in time sidelined with the advent of the mass use of gunpowder weapons, centuries before our industrialization era."
Alex explained.

"Wait, you had gunpowder weapons before your industrialization?"
Stillstorm asked, showing him that the Loroi and all of the races they knew about discovered gunpowder during their industrialization, not before like humanity did.

"Yes, gunpowder was first used for cannons, siege equipment designed to destroy defensive walls and emplacements, then as technology progressed hand held weapons were first introduced; the arquebus which eventually replaced the bow due to its ease of use which allowed for masses of infantry to fight with little training. At first they were used in conjunction with other classic infantry formations like pikemen and swordsmen but they had become the dominant weapon of choice before the first steam engine was built."
Alex explained with the accompanying historical examples he could remember.

"I understand and thus cavalry became extinct?"
Stillstorm asked, imagining a cavalry charge breaking from mass defensive volley fire from an infantry formation.

"No, quite the contrary, cavalry use simply evolved and adapted. Horses still offered unsurpassed mobility and although shock assaults became rarer and rarer over time the ability of cavalry to quickly move and engage over great distances was still key for all armies. Scouting, attacking the rear of the enemy, harassing and destroying supplies, capturing a strategic location before the enemy; in all respects cavalry use became more prominent with the advent of gunpowder weapons, in fact several armies successfully used mounted warriors during our second world war despite the advent of mass warplane and mass mechanized weaponry."
Alex replied, catching Stillstorm by surprise.

"Second world war? Weren't the issues of the time solved with the first?"


"No, in fact the resolution of the first world war was the reason why the second happened. While the resolution of the second was the reason for a long near war state between two human superpowers, the war being avoided due to the fear of mutually assured destruction via the mass use of atomic and biological weaponry."
He sensed her shock and surprise at that.

"I didn't expect humans to be so warlike, especially because your warriors are primarily males."
She commented at that.

"Many humans still wonder how we haven't destroyed each other yet, we came really close plenty of times in the past century and we thought that species extinction had been avoided with the advent of interstellar travel and the colonization of other worlds."
Alex replied before taking the conversation back on track. "In any case, I believe that the tactics I showcased would be ideal to use against the Shells and their apparently inherent inflexibility. Dedicated missile cruisers and ships for both point defense and offense and fast attack gunboats for both point defense and flexible offense."

"I understand what you mean but there has always been major political pushback against the implementation of different tactics and weaponry. For example the Tenoin caste fought hard against the retirement of the fighter craft because it is their castes prerogative weapon platform; many thought that the resources invested in fighter crafts, pilots and their carriers should instead be invested on more destroyers and escort cruisers for greater point defense capabilities."
Stillstorm explained. "In the gunboat case many recoiled from the thought of adopting a Shell weapons system."

"That's stupid, a warrior should be able to always adapt themselves to the changing circumstances, war must always be fought against one's enemies not against one's political rivals."
Alex replied instantly.

"It is stupid but that's the way we are Captain Jardin."
Stillstorm replied, her memories of her vocal political opposition to the current Emperor coming at the forefront of her mind. "Loroi always convey what is in our minds, it is dishonest to do otherwise."

"But the war should take an absolute priority, there is no sense in even thinking of arguing if there is nothing left to argue for."
Stillstorm became amused at that.

"A noble sentiment but why do you think Parat Tempo was assigned on my flagship by the admiralty?"


"I don't know..."


"I am a vocal political figure of the Loroi Axis and I find the Mizol Emperor to be an affront to the front line warriors who live and die in this war. I will not deny that certain of Greywind's policies helped the war effort but she should not be on the throne and I am quite vocal about that. Parat Tempo was assigned here to keep watch over me and to ensure that I don't overstep my bounds, they know that I wouldn't do anything to endanger the war effort but they still assigned one of their best Mizol agents to me."
Alex became shocked at that.

"Tempo was assigned on Tempest to keep watch over you? That's why you weren't on good terms? That's why you had her shave off her hair?"
He asked without thinking.

"Yes that's the reason she is on Tempest and part of the reason why we are not on good terms but no, I didn't order her to shave off her hair; that was her own choice to make in order to atone for her mistakes, like I and some others did after the great disaster of the Tasinei ways where we failed to rescue Soshret Sunfall and her forces from the massive Shell counterattack that stopped the Semoset offensive."
Stillstorm replied matter of factly.

"What?"
Alex asked without thinking, trying to picture Stillstorm with longer hair.

"My hair was as long as Rune-Laurel's at the time but I failed as a warrior, I wasn't good enough to save the fleet and my daughters who were with Sunfall."
Stillstorm explained as she unwittingly showed him the painful memories of that time.

"...I...am sorry for your loss Commander..."
He managed to send at that.

"I am not the only one who has lost daughters in this was Captain Jardin, all of the crews of the 51st are someone's daughters and almost all of them have daughters of their own either already at the fleet or at our worlds being raised and trained to fight in this war."
Stillstorm replied coldly.

"All of them have daughters?"
Alex asked without thinking, his mind racing over all the warriors he knew and had shown interest in him.

"Of course they do, bar Fireblade and the various Pasets who aren't full warriors yet all of them have daughters."
Stillstorm replied as she sensed a subconscious question in his mind. "Yes, even Beryl who you are so attached to has a child of her own being raised in a creche."

"She... never said anything about her child."
Alex thought.

"Because she has barely spent any time with her child."
Stillstorm explained. "Before the war we had the time and ample opportunities to visit our children in the communal creches where they are raised and trained, we interacted with them, we played with them and taught them what we could before they would be sent in their dirals to become proper warriors. We would meet them again at their initiation, where we would shave their heads and welcome them as fellow warriors among our ranks. The war brought an end to all this, mothers and daughters die in droves without ever seeing each other. Many wonder how their children are doing in their creches, if they are strong in mind and body but most won't get the opportunity to get to shave their daughter's head when they pass their trials. That's what this war has done to us and Beryl has been hit hard due to this, unless you foolishly believed that her relatively short hair was a stylistic choice."

"...I..."


"Don't feel sorry for us Captain Jardin, it's a waste of ones mind. Use that energy to hate our enemies if you care as much about us as you think you are." Stillstorm chastised him, making him want to change the subject.

"Then why did Tempo shave her hair?"
He asked, drawing a sense of amusement out of her.

"You mean besides endangering the ship due to her decision not to pursue the matter with the data? Despite her failure to uncover the Emperor's own orders by doing so? She also emotionally compromised herself with you, allowing her feelings about you to cloud her judgement in regards to her duty to the Union."
Stillstorm told him. "And like a fool she didn't realize this until after the fact. If she hadn't recused herself from being your liaison I would have ordered her to do it. Stuff like this is why we consider growing too attached to a male to be an ill portent."

"Damn..."
Stillstorm broke the connection they had at that.

"Thank you Captain Jardin for the informative discussion." Stillstorm said.

"Likewise Commander. Our discussion was very informative about the Loroi way of doing things and thinking." Alex replied as he collected her wits. "So it is safe to assume that we won't engage the Shell assault?"

"No, just the torpedo barrage would be too much for our point defense capabilities and the enemy formation will be too spread out to dodge them if we harass them. Our objective is to inconvenience the Shells long enough for the fleet to deep jump into the system before proceeding to Nezel and because of that I see no reason to engage them. The Strike Group will accelerate away from the jump point when the Shells get too close to us and I hope that Duskcrown will get the fleet here in time before the Shells decide to reinforce the blockade of Nezel. Until that time you are dismissed Captain." Stillstorm said.

"Yes Commander..." Alex asked before turning to look at his escorts.

"I wanted to ask, will I be escorted everywhere from now on?" He said at that.

"It would be prudent if you were but since there is no threat of imminent combat I don't see the reason; as long as no other Lotai incident takes place that is." Stillstorm said right before his Doranzer and Soroin escorts turned to leave, relief clearly shown with their expressions and their body language.

"Thank you Commander, I will be taking my leave now." Alex said as he remembered that he still had his training drills with Ragan Razorthorn to deal with before trying to catch a shower and a nap since his last night's sleep was interrupted.


* * *


Tempo didn't find much about the interactions of the 'Lost Diral' and the 'Deinar Human', there was very little if at all on the files about them but it was obvious when reading between the lines that most if not all of the Diral became bonded with him over the course of their training. There were plenty of mentions about the telepathic effects of bonding, especially about the how the Lotai works but precious few about the 'positive effects to telepathic potential' that were merely mentioned in passing.

Positive effects to telepathic potential, that can only mean that the Loroi that a human lets through the Lotai by bonding with them get telepathically stronger.
Tempo thought, remembering that all other research about enhancing telepathic potential had failed, either by genetic engineering, drugs and mental conditioning there was no way to simply enhance the telepathic potential of any given Loroi bar using an amplifier.

What if the entire Diral became telepathically stronger due to their bonding with him? Is that why all evidence about them and the human were erased? To hide the fact that a way to enhance telepathic potential existed?
Tempo thought as she tried to look up what happened to the members of said Diral after they were given to the Hos'te Blec clan but found almost nothing in either the files or the archives she had access to; it was if as they had completely vanished from existence.

Wait, I remember I saw a name somewhere, Soroin Tiris Argent, why would a Tiris of all ranks be given privileged access and mention in this? And wasn't Argent the temporary spoken name of the Diral leader?
Tempo thought as she tried to look up any record about that Soroin, she found plenty of Soroin Argents in the files but none of which matched either the diral leader or the Tiris Argent mentioned in the files.

Yeah, someone went into a lot of trouble to cover their tracks while writing these files but I wonder why they included the genetic engineering data? There was no reason to include them in the data package?
Tempo could think of a few reasons as to why, none of them good before trying to find any report about human telepathic training.

The data said that a trained human can consciously control his telepathic potential, it would be a boon Enzin if he could control himself and not be wary of his subconscious acting up.
She thought as she looked up all the mentions about training until she found what she was looking for.

Tricky... The principles are different... but still doable...
She thought as she skimmed through the data. Who to train him though? Beryl is a Listel and Fireblade is a Teidar, this needs finesse and perseverance. Brightshield? No, she is not as good as she think she is and I don't truly trust her with Enzin even when I was willing to work with her...

She couldn't think of anyone else but herself at that, trying as she might she simply couldn't imagine anyone else she knew who was capable enough to offer the training he needed.

He doesn't trust me anymore however, I want him to trust me again, to sense him again but he doesn't trust me and I can't think of anyone other than me able to train him. He does however trust Beryl and Fireblade... Can I convince them to help me?
Tempo thought before making a decision, she knew that she had to make amends and she knew that Enzin needed to be trained to control his abilities; her shattered pride and honor were secondary to that.

_________________
My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)


Last edited by dragoongfa on Sat Oct 12, 2019 1:32 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Jul 28, 2018 7:37 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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If Razorthorn was annoyed with his tardiness, it was hidden by her usual hostility. Todays lesson was to be shipboard tactics in a firefight. For that the class, consisting of 17 Listel, Doranzer and Gallen, had to don full combat gear.

Luckily Doc Winterbloom was there too and walked Alex through the process of equipping the gear. It wasn't that complicated. Loroi and human physiology being too close for impossibilities. The armor was designed so that one person could equip it in a timely fashion, as were the straps of assorted gear and the pulse rifle.

Yet even though the suit was made from light weight materials and more advanced than anything Alex had worn, it was surprisingly uncomfortable. However Alex couldn't quite point out why.
A question Winterbloom cleared up for him by rapping her nuckles on his chest piece.
"Sounds hollow." she teased.
Another hint that he was wearing alien armor was the sweat that formed on his body. These suits were made for Loroi temperatures and it got stuffy very quickly.

The next hour was spent by going over the various bits of equipment and their functions. The Loroi around him did their drills of assembly and disassembly of their guns dutifully if bored. It seemed to Alex that the amount of detail was more for his benefit than to train the Loroi.

With that out of the way, Razorthorn pushed a few buttons, prompting the room to rearrange itself by extending several metal sheets, simulating a ships corridor.

She continued: "You are here for your refresher on boarding actions. Since you are not Soroin, we will be going over defensive maneuvers. But why, some of you might ask, do we have to train this? The last boarding action SG51 fought was 6 Tozon ago. Who can explain the situation needed for boarding actions? Jardin!?"

Razorthorn had snapped that last question at him. She had flat footed him for a moment; humanity never had fought a boarding action on a spaceship before. The closest they got was when Marines boarded the Orgus refugees. Some of his teachers had mentioned theories offhandedly so with some quick thinking he patched together an answer.

"Uh...distances in space are huge and spaceships carry fission reactors that can be made to explode. So to be boarded, a ship needs to be immobilized and of high enough value to risk boarding while being of low enough value to not be foundered on purpose."

"The Captain missed something. Can anybody tell?"

A listel with red hair spoke: "A ship can also be too valuable to be foundered, such as when it carries unique or vital intelligence." Unique intelligence like the only ambassador of a new species. Nobody needed to spell out that capture of such an asset would be avoided at all costs should the boarding fight go poorly.

"Correct, Antimony. That is why the Commander has ordered a refresher for the whole crew on boarding tactics. Form up in fire squads!"

Fire squads consisted of three people working together. Despite being surrounded by non combat roles, Alex had a hard time keeping up with the training. The Loroi were all surprisingly well drilled and diligently took shots at the projections of Umiak that were their targets. Alex had no idea what a Hardtrooper was, but the image of them was enough for his tastes.

When they were done, or as much so as they would ever be, according to Razorthorn, the class stowed away their equipment and dispersed. Finally able to reach his brow, Alex wiped away the sweat.

Half an hour later he came out of the showers feeling refreshed and headed towards his cabin hoping for some some much needed sleep. Something he should have known better.



With newfound determination, Tempo set out on her task. The training methods described before her were complicated and would require the utmost amount of care. But her own training as a Mizol had been similarly arduous. She found enough similarities to work out a decent training plan. Some improvisation would still be required, which was why she could trust nobody else on board with this task.

How she would regain Enzins trust enough to do this, was a more difficult matter. She hoped that he'd understand the urgency of the situation. She had been forced to probe Beryl. Not just for the intelligence within her, but also because enemy action could have happened at any time. Tempest would have been an easy target while crippled by Lotai.

She had good arguments for the benefits of her training. The advantages to Enzin and the Union were apparent. His Lotai could be extremely useful and it seemed like humanity was the key to counteracting the Shells Lotai, however it was achieved.

While she made notes from the Deinar files, she came to the usual section full of military red tape. Letters of judical matters, copies of regulations, a reminder to take regular breaks to stretch from deskwork. Her instinct was to quickly scroll past. But this time she noticed a speck somewhere as text buzzed past. Slowly scrolling back up she came to a section headed "Health and Safety". It looked like the usual spiel of the Doranzers about contaminants, risk of injury and such. What made her wonder was that this specific file was locked behind a password.

She tried her own as a Mizol, which returned a negative. Then she tried Stillstorms password, which also produced a negative. A locked file within a locked file that not even a fleet commander could access. There wasn't much higher you could go in clearance. A remarkable amount of care for a 400 year old file.

Tempo was still brooding, when the door opened. Cloud walked in carrying the usual stack of data and a tray of food. To her great credit, she slowed down only for a short moment as she neared Tempo with her new haircut.

"Parat Tempo, here are the daily reports." She didn't acknowledge the food she placed on the edge of Tempos desk. Yet the gratefulness for saving her a trip to the mess hall, must have been felt by the female.
"Thank you, Cloud."

The Paset wanted to turn around, but hesitated halfway.

"The word amongst the crew" she started.

"Spare me, Cloud. I can imagine what they're saying about me."

"Nobody knows what to say, Parat."

"What do you mean?"

"You are obviously dishonored, but nobody can imagine why."

"It should be quite obvious. I caused the ship wide Lotai and a lot of diplomatic trouble." Tempo protested.

Cloud looked stunned: "Those trivialities? A ship wide Lotai is huge, but how could you have known? And what trouble? That alien is all alone with us!"

It irked her to hear Cloud speak so derisively about Enzin, but she still remembered how young and patriotic she herself had been fresh from training.

Cloud continued after a moment a lot more conscious about her tone now.

"Look, as chief Mizol you have never been popular, but you were respected. The model of a Mizol, dedicated to the Emperor. We don't remember the last time you made a single slip up. Now you are dishonoured and nobody knows what changed."

"There is more to it. But it's classified. I am sorry, I can't tell you. You are dismissed."

Cloud send clear worry, but let it be and left. A moment later, Tempo returned to creating a training routine and was shocked to find that she had forgotten to clear her screen as Cloud entered. How could that happen, she wondered. Her slip ups started to pile up.

Both of them watched the Mizol strut of indignantly. Brightshield quickly left the mess hall under the snickering looks of several Loroi.

"Thanks." Beryl sent to Fireblade. "That Mizol gets me angry every time we talk."

"It's what they are trained for. What do you think Enzin will make of her as his liaison?"

"I hope his recent experiences with Mizol have taught him something and he puts her out of his head."

"Yes, I'm not too keen on her prowling around Enzin either."

"Nothing we can do about it. If she is acting under orders, we can't stop her." send a frustrated Beryl.

"We can at least make sure that she is not left alone with Enzin."

Beryl caught her meaning. One of them would have to keep around Enzin at nearly all times for his own protection.

"Okay, I will go and work on this Deinar file in his room. At least I can concentrate there." decided Beryl.

"Look who's eating in her office today, Beryl."

Beryl turned her head just in time to see Paset Cloud leave the mess hall with a tablet of food. She hadn't seen what it was, but it was no big guess to know it was from Perein.

"Tempo must be sulking to order Cloud to bring her food."

"Understandable. I wouldn't like to show my bald head around either." came begrudginly Fireblade.
Then she added a question. "Do you think Enzin and her will ever have some trust again?"

"I don't know. Probably not. He felt ready to kill. I never would have expected a male to be so aggressive."

"True. Beryl, I'll relieve you after my shift. Have fun with Deinar. Perhabs you find something new."


Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:28 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
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As if on cue, Alex thought. The moment he stripped down to his skivvies, ready to catch some urgently-needed z's, he... well, he wasn't sure, but he thought he felt something.

Just like feeling the proverbial stares on the back of your head. But I've seen too many psionic abilities by now...

Unwilling to shoo away his thoughts he rose up again and to look for the source of his agitation. As an afterthought, he put his new off-duty shirt back on - wouldn't do if he'd accidentally flash yet another Loroi, shower video or not.

Which turned out to be a wise idea, because as he went to the door to look outside, it opened, revealing Cloud, looking very much out of place and lost.

Figures. Perhaps no one introduced her to the concept of knocking, and she looks too shy to enter a cabin unannounced.

"May I come in?", she asked, in a rather stilted way.

Figures - apart from Talon, Spiral and Fireblade I've been around Loroi who are adept at speech - Beryl as a Listel, the Mizol because of their training, and Stillstorm because she has to be able to give clear, succinct commands via comms, Alex thought, deciding to cut Cloud some slack.

But then he remembered who is Cloud's immediate superior and his mood soured again.

"Come in", he said gruffly, stepping aside, allowing her to enter. "Just say your piece and be quick about it."

Cloud rose her eyebrows, startled. The few times she had met that alien he always tried to display some manners - strange manners, but nonetheless. She cannot remember seeing him being outright rude.

"Tempo is hurting, very much. What happened?", Cloud started.

"Didn't you ask her? Or does even a Soroin Paset trust the word of an alien more than that of a Mizol?", Alex bit back. He knew he was downright petty, but his tiredness and the whole situation was starting to creep up on him.

Cloud flinched as if he had beaten her physically. "Explain to me. You are hurting, she is hurting, without honor and disgraced. No one knows why."

Alex took a deep breath. Whatever beef he had with Tempo, he started to feel guilty on taking it out on Cloud.

"I'm sorry. Tempo made some bad decisions with classified information and orders, and deeply hurt me and those I ... care for, very much."

"Tozet Beryl. You care for her.", Cloud said.

Not sure if she intended it as a question or statement, Alex took it as the former. "Yes... more than you might imagine."

"And human males are warriors. fighting for those they care."

"In a nutshell... uh, summed up...", Alex amended as he saw the askance look in Cloud's eyes about the idiom, "... this is about right."

"Tempo cares for you.", Cloud stated.

That brought Alex up short. "Come again?"

"Tempo cares you you.", Cloud repeated. "Very much."

Alex was about to bite back a sharp retort - that she has a very strange way of showing it - when he clearly sensed a familiar presence on the other side of the door. Beryl. 'Cloud is here, but please do come in.', he sent with a small bit of desire.

The door slid open, revealing Beryl, her posture stiffening as she focused on Cloud.

A quick exchange in sanzai followed, something which was too fast for Alex to catch up, but he got the impression that Beryl was even less impressed on seeing Tempo's aide than Alex was.

"I wish to understand. What is it with you humans?", Cloud almost pleaded.

Alex blinked and turned to Beryl. 'Did she really say humans, as in plural?'

'She did. And she ... meant it. I saw it in her thoughts when she spoke. Do you think....', Beryl didn't finish the line of thought, instead asking loudly: "Tell me everything. What do you mean?"

"You. And Fireblade. And Tempo. She's longing for him. Stillstorm. She was close to spacing him, now she's ... cordial around him. Taking his advice. And what is this 'Lost Diral'?"

That hit both Alex and Beryl like a hammer.

"Cloud, this is....", Beryl started, "... swear to me that you never repeat these words outside these rooms. Swear it! It goes far beyond your level of clearance, we only came about them because they directly concern us."

"What...?", Cloud asked, trying to process Beryl's words.

"I can only say that much that the humans are far more important to us than you might ever believe. And they could be crucial to our war effort.", Beryl stressed.

Cloud looked at Alex, eyes wide.

"I... don't know. But... please help Tempo. She's starting to waste away.", Cloud finished in a dejected tone, before standing up to leave, decidedly wobbly.

Not a second after the door closed, Beryl found herself in Alex's arms. 'I missed you.', she sent. 'This is against everything we grew up as proper, to feel this much for a single male. But it feels so right.'

'Were you a human, this would be completely right. Perhaps... when the Soia designed you, they... well, made an oversight and left the instinctual need for bonding in your genes?', Alex mused.

Beryl pinned him with a mock-stern glare. 'Enzin! Please never repeat that to any Loroi besides another Listel, because this is talking blasphemy! But...', here she amended, '... your theory makes some sense.'

'...and since you experience such bonds for maybe the first time in your life, you got it very hard. Heard what Cloud said?'

'About Tempo? This... sounds like withdrawal symptoms from substance abuse. Yes, this fits. Irrational behavior, loss of social interaction, obsessions, she very much acts like someone on cold withdrawal.'

'Substance abuse? Is that a thing amongst Loroi?', Alex questioned.

Beryl nodded. 'More than you might think. We haven't encountered a sentient species which hasn't had a slew of recreational drugs - even the Barsam have a whole slew of them used in their rituals, but each and every species has a list of banned substances which are highly addictive and detrimental to the health.'

'Perhaps 'humans' get on such a list for Loroi, too.', Alex joked, but it fell a bit flat as he felt Beryl mulling over it. 'Might be that's the reason that the First Contact with the humans was hushed up like this.'

Beryl held him more tightly. 'I do not wish to lose you, ever. If Tempo's fate would await me, too...'

She wasn't referring to Tempo's fall from grace, but her apparently declining condition.

'...Being separated from one's love is withdrawal. Falling in love does play on the same hormones and brain centers like substance abuse. Lighting the reward system up like a bonfire. And since you're so similar to us, I bet this would be the same to you... perhaps even amplified tenfold with your sanzai.', Alex mused.

Beryl looked him into his eyes with a pleading expression. 'Tempo. You have to help her.'

'What?', Alex sent flabbergasted.

'I know what she did, but I simply cannot find enough hate in myself to let her suffer so much. I wish I could, leaving her to her fate, but I simply ... cannot.'

Alex pulled her closer again into his embrace, his fingers playing along the tip of her exposed ear, looking away with a thousand-mile stare.

Stillstorm was right. I shouldn't bemoan Beryl's fate, I should hate the shells for what they do to them all. She's such a kind and compassionate soul, and she didn't deserve to be thrown into the meat grinder, Alex mused.

But it begs the question - if Beryl found it in herself to forgive Tempo, even after what she did, perhaps he should do so, too.

---//---

'Pallan Fireblade, has Captain Jardin ever talked to you about the history of his species?', Stillstorm sent, catching Fireblade very much off-guard.

'...only in the broader sense, when we speculated about Soia influence on human evolution. And maybe ours, too.'

'Soia influence on humans? Undoubtedly interesting, but not what I mean right now. I had a rather interesting discussion about human ground warfare tactics and that led to a brief look into their history. Did you know that about two hundred tozons ago, just before they made their first steps into space, they had not one, but two world-spanning conflicts? "World War One" and "World War Two" he called it. In fact, the technology to get into orbit was theorized and developed in their World War Two. And after that, he said, the two superpowers on his planet were locked in a state of near war in mutually assured destruction for a long time.'

Fireblade fell silent. Not just one, but two world-spanning conflicts? Most civilizations usually had one, and that is the crucible which had them form a world government thereafter or be destroyed. 'That... is news to me', she sent hestitantly, 'I never had imagined....'

'Me neither. I never imagined them to be that warlike. His ship was definitely not a warship, and he himself claimed to be on a peaceful mission, but more and more I get the impression that humans can be anything but, if they are provoked. We should never fall into the trap to think they're just males... the pictures he showed me were mostly males fighting. I fear... if there'd ever be an order to subjugate the human population, they wouldn't take it lightly but fight back with everything they had. We'd end up with another genocide.

'Do you know that he expressly told Ragan Razorthorn that he does want to be treated like all the other recruits? It seems as if she and the other recruits tried to shield him from harm like training accidents. And that the humans had about similar problems when they integrated their women into the troops.'

'I see. Please do keep me apprised of his progress in his training. If there is another species with an active military tradition, especially one so similar to us, his ideas and strategems could be the thing we need to put up as a viable alternative to our more outdated battle doctrines.'

---//---

It took quite some time for Beryl to get out of her funk, which is saying something because Beryl could usually shift gears quite easily.

'You know... Fireblade and I had a run-in with Brightshield in the mess hall.', she started, replaying the events.

She could feel his ire raising on Brightshield talking down to Beryl like she did, but his mirth and surprise on her toppling over the stool that 'just happened' to find itself in her path.

'If she thinks she can get me into her bedsheets now, she has definitely taken the wrong choice.', he sent acerbically, 'at least Stillstorm has taken herself off that list, too, but...'

'But what?', Beryl prompted.

'If she gets into her head that I have to have an encounter with one of you before I can send to someone without touching, I could see her starting to schedule encounters for me with the whole bridge crew, and perhaps key positions throughout the ship.'

'She wouldn't dare!', Beryl sent sharply.

'I hope I can convince her that it is likely the other way round. That it requires a great deal of trust from both sides to agree to an encounter. That the encounter itself would be ... incidental, but not the ultimate cause for the improved connection.'

'That makes sense. But it would require an encounter between you and a Loroi unfamiliar to you to test that theory as well. If you link up to her, it would mean that Stillstorm is right with her assumption.', Beryl hedged.

'I won't agree to this if you're not okay with it.'

Beryl vigorously shook her head. 'My consent would be unimportant to the larger scope of things.'

'Beryl. It is important to me', he sent, eliciting a warm feeling from Beryl.'

'That reminds me of something. This human on Deinar might have faced similar issues? Perhaps the files give us an insight into how his sanzai developed, if any. I recall having read something....'

Once more Alex was amazed by Beryl's memory, replaying the files she read with crystal clarity.

'There....', she stopped, '... training techniques. They look quite ... advanced. And Mizol in origin.'

'Are you sure?'

'I know that they look much like Mizol techniques, but I couldn't teach them... they themselves build on Mizol knowledge as a foundation.'

'Which means I'd need a Mizol to teach them to me', Alex groaned.

'Definitely NOT Brightshield!', Beryl switftly cut in, with a stab of jealousy.

'Which means... either Tempo, or me hooking up with one unfamiliar Loroi, and then perhaps the rest of the bridge crew, at least, if Stillstorm deems it prudent.'

It took a long time for Beryl to think things over, and Alex felt that it was like the choice of the lesser evil for her.

'Let me think on it. And let me stay here, just sleeping in the same bed. No encounter. I felt how tired you are, Razorthorn really put you through the paces. But, help me shutting out the other voices in my head, just you, me, and Fireblade.'

Alex gave her a long kiss on her lips, moving a strand of her hair out of her face. 'Deal.'



Mon Jul 30, 2018 2:49 am
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Post Re: [WP] Beacons (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

Fireblade's relatively gentle sending woke Beryl as Enzin slept heavily next to her.

"What is it Fireblade?"
Beryl asked while wondering what time it was.

"I just had a discussion with Tempo, she believes that Enzin needs to be trained for his own well being."
Fireblade replied while passing along her own agreement with Tempo's proposal.

"Enzin and I talked about this, if only to avoid Stillstorm having him mate with most of the command and bridge crew so they won't be affected by his Lotai if it acts up again."
Beryl replied as she recollected her thoughts.

"It's worse than just him mating with all others Beryl, Stillstorm will be sending a Doranzer and an armed Soroin to be with Enzin whenever we are in combat; to sedate him if he acts up telepathically during it and if that fails, to kill him."
Fireblade added, shocking Beryl into mental standstill.

"What? What about the orders from the Emperor?"
Beryl managed to ask.

"Stillstorm doesn't like it either but if the ship is destroyed in battle then he will die along with it anyway. He needs to be able to control his powers and Tempo believes that she is the only one who can offer him the training he needs and I agree with her."
Fireblade explained and Beryl had to agree with the Teidar on that.

"Where is Tempo now?"


"She is waiting for your and Enzin's response to her offer Beryl, she was respectful and didn't pressure me about it but she was certain that this needs to be done and that she doesn't trust anyone else she knows with the task."
Fireblade replied.

"Alright, I will wake Enzin up and we will tell him of Tempo's offer."
Beryl replied before shaking Enzin awake.

"Huh...Whu?"
His drowzy mind made Beryl chuckle as she waited for him to focus before explaining the situation to him. "I had expected that you two would insist on this when you would learn of my... escorts."

"Why didn't you tell me?"
Beryl sent accusingly at that.

"I didn't want to worry you."


"And you think me seeing a Doranzer with a drawn syringe and a Soroin with a drawn blaster standing over you in the midst of battle wouldn't worry me?" She sent angrily, drawing feelings of guilt out of him.

"You are right, I am sorry."
He acknowledged making her calm down before he continued. "And the both of you agree on this?"

"Yes."
Both of them sent at the same time.

"Fine, I will at least listen to what she proposes before deciding on this."
Enzin replied before closing his eyes again.

"No, get dressed so we can see her."


"What? Now?"
Enzin asked incredulously.

"Yes, now, the less time we waste the better."
Beryl insisted as she stood up to wear her own armor, Enzin begrudgingly following suit.

"We are ready, is she waiting for us at her cabin?"
Enzin asked right before they heard a knock at his door.

"No, I told her to wait by your cabin."
Fireblade replied with barely concealed amusement as Beryl opened the door to let Tempo in.

Beryl didn't need to sense Tempo's mind to see how troubled Tempo was, she had somehow learned to clearly distinguish one's demeanor and mental state through their body language just like Enzin could and even he saw how... depressed Tempo seemed when compared to her usual highly composed self even if she had shaved off her hair.

"I apologize for the intrusion but I truly believe that there is no time to waste. I trust that Pallan Fireblade has already explained my reasoning." Tempo said with a steady professional voice while Enzin tried to maintain a calm mind despite his second thoughts..

"Please Enzin..."
Beryl implored him, drawing a nod out of him.

"Yes, she explained and both Beryl and Fireblade agreed on the need of me being trained by you. I trust their judgement and that's why I agreed to see you about the matter." Beryl could swear that Tempo flinched slightly when Enzin said that he trusted both her and Fireblade, undoubtedly taking it as an attack on her person.

"Enzin..." Beryl warned him at that.

"From the Deinar files and from what I observed your telepathic abilities are almost entirely subconscious and out of your conscious control. The Deinar files also outline the techniques necessary to assume conscious control over them using mental conditioning techniques that we Mizol use to implant subconscious blocks and behavioral suggestions but in reverse, with the instructions to train our human... guest should the need arise." Tempo explained.

"...Guest?" Enzin asked after picking her hesitation for that word.

"The files described any human being transported according to our orders as cargo. You are not a cargo." Tempo replied with a steady expression.

"I told you not to lie to me again Parat Tempo." Enzin replied with a low voice.

"I didn't lie!" Tempo yelled at him, catching Beryl by surprise before she composed herself again. "I am sorry Captain Jardin but I didn't lie to you."

"Enzin!"
Beryl snapped at him after that.

"She tried to hurt you!"
He replied stubbornly.

"And I am a warrior, I can hold my own grudges and animosity!"
Beryl scolded him. "And she did everything in order to protect you! I am certain of this now."

"That doesn't make it right!" Enzin snapped back.

"It makes it right for me!" Beryl replied angrily. "She hurt me because she couldn't stand to see you hurt, I agreed to that because I didn't want to see you hurt. Don't assume that I or Fireblade wouldn't do whatever we could in order to protect you from injustice!" She sensed him relent at that, he didn't like it but he relented.

"Understand that I cannot stand seeing one of mine get hurt, I cannot just accept it. You, Fireblade, Talon even Stillstorm who I still consider somewhat of a bitch. I don't want to see you hurt, that's who I am." Enzin finally sent before turning his attention to Tempo.

"I told you to not lie to me again and to not harm anyone of mine again. You answered that you can do both. I will trust your word on that." Enzin said as he walked up to Tempo and offered her his right hand.

Tempo's face lit up in surprise and joy as she reached out to grasp his hand, only for her joy to turn back to a depressed shock when they didn't connect. She made to pull her hand back but Enzin just held her hand with both of his as he closed his eyes in concentration. Beryl could sense his effort to reach her but his subconscious didn't cooperate.

"We trust her, if you trust us then you will trust her." She tried to reassure him.

"No, I will trust her only when I trust all of you with her." Enzin replied as he focused his mind again, trying to remember the times he had connected with Tempo, his initial training with both of them; the discussions they had, they times they were alone with each other, the time Tempo helped him after a jump...

It wasn't sudden but it wasn't slow either, Tempo's mind appearing along side Enzin's and Fireblade's as if it was always there. It wavered and trembled at the realization, a couple of tears running down her cheeks as she let out an involuntary sob.

"I will not lie to you again and I will not harm anyone of your again."
Tempo sent to him, her mind a flurry of emotions that she could barely control; all three of them becoming shocked with how affected Tempo had been with the whole ordeal.

"Alright, calm down, it's in the past now and it won't happen again..." Enzin reassured Tempo as she slowly regained her familiar composure.

"Yes, it won't." Tempo replied confidently, her bright and composed mind just as Beryl remembered it.

"You were...far more affected by this than I believed." Enzin commented at that.

"Yes I... don't really know why..." Tempo replied as her mind raced back to everything that had happened. Her conflict between her feelings towards him and her duty after his reaction about Duskcrown had hurt her, she was truly desperate to find a way to keep him safe and she hated the very idea of trying to get everything out of Beryl forcefully but she didn't know what else to do she was...

Tempo sobbed again at that.

"I am truly compromised with my feelings towards you Enzin, I don't know why, perhaps it's because I can't help but see you as a male and because I know that you mean us no harm and you care for us. We are warriors, doing what we have to do in order to win this war and you an alien male came to us and you genuinely care for us. The first good thing that has happened to us in a long time and I just can't stand to see you wasted. I tried to balance my feelings and my duty; I failed and I dishonored myself."

"It's alright, it's all over and done now." Enzin reassured her again.

"Yes, it's done and it's in the past. Your new training takes priority now." Tempo replied.

"Before you start, we already told her not to say anything but Cloud knew about the Lost Diral." Beryl cut in.

"What? She... saw. Tempo sent before pulling her hand away from Enzin's but the connection with him remaining for a few more moments before she could contact Cloud with Sanzai. They saw her expression turn from anger to calm in the span of a few solons before her attention turned back to the two of them.

"Alright I told her not to even think about it and she knows how to keep a secret." Tempo said at that.

"She cares for you." Enzin commented at that.

"I know she does... Now in regards with your training, you will have to learn to grasp control from your own subconscious which is the opposite of what we Mizol learn to do onto others with some of our suggestion and mental manipulation techniques. What I did with your jump sickness the other day was me instructing your subconscious to ignore the nausea as if your body wasn't affected by it; your body was however affected but because your subconscious was instructed to believe otherwise the body was allowed to correct itself without the conscious mind feeling the sickness's effect for the few minutes that the suggestion was active. I will show you how to repeat the suggestion on your own self in order for you to grasp the process of manipulating your subconscious which is important in order to learn how to grasp control away from it." Tempo explained.

"So I will never get jump sickness again?" He asked with obvious excitement.

"No you will be getting jump sickness, your body will still be recoiling but your subconscious will be tricked to not bother your conscious mind with them but you should still sit idle to let the body recover from a sickness anyway." Tempo replied before turning to Beryl. "You can help with his training as well, you and Fireblade are linked with him and you can point out if you sense him doing something wrong with his meditations."

"Is this alright? These are Mizol techniques after all." Beryl said.

"Someone has to always observe him while he practices on himself by meditating, ensuring the correct application of the techniques is of greater concern than a Listel and a Teidar learning the basics about mental suggestions and subconscious manipulation." Tempo explained.

"The basics?" Beryl asked and Tempo just smiled as if in reply.

"Are you ready to begin Enzin?" Tempo said as she extended her right arm to him.

"Yes, show me." Enzin replied as he grasped Tempo's hand again.

_________________
My fan fics:

Looking forward to the mirror (Delayed editing)
Reforged (Irregular updates)
The Pale Horse (Completed, could use some editing)


Last edited by Guest on Tue Jul 31, 2018 3:54 am, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Jul 30, 2018 3:31 pm
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