Battlestar Invictus

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Swirlby
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Re: Battlestar Invictus

Postby Swirlby » 08 November 2016, 20:33

Ghostrider93 wrote:
Scorch715 wrote:Certainly an intriguing tale, more for seeing how non-Grimdark humans would react to the 40k universe. A bit of constructive criticism, but it doesn't really feel like you're getting over just how brutal the universe is. I'd love to see Price and co's reactions to things like a Commisar executing a man for a slight infringement, or astartes boarding ships with flamers and chainswords. Basically anything that's common place in 40k but seems utterly insane by modern standards.


Hi Scorch, thanks for reading and the feedback. I'm glad you like it.

As for the brutality in the universe... Well the brutality must have its place in the story.
It must serve its purpose. Don't wory. It'll get there. Remember, the ball only just started rolling.


This is good to hear. More bloodshed is always better. Keep up the good work.
A stranger is just an enemy I haven't met yet.

Ghostrider93
(Former) Technical Tester
Posts: 58
Joined: 09 February 2016, 21:21
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Re: Battlestar Invictus

Postby Ghostrider93 » 28 November 2016, 16:16

Here is another one for you guys. Sorry about the delay.
Enjoy!

==========

Chapter 11


The small fleet was under way for about a week now with little sign of activity of any kind. Invictus kept up her patrols while the Cobra destroyers continuously scanned the area, feeding all ships with sensor data. Though the scope was clear, the commanders and officers were not at ease. While traveling this close to the GrailDark nebula, everyone had the feeling that they were being watched. It was almost as if the nebula itself was looking upon the five vessels as unwelcome intruders.

Just before departing, the commanders of the escort vessels came aboard Invictus to plan the exact route. Again it was clear that these men were a rough bunch. Clearly they’ve seen a lot of bad stuff.
However, Howard had them pegged from the moment they stepped aboard. Prove you can keep your word and they will follow to hell and back.

For some reason, a fifth imperial figure had joined the commanders in the Situation Room. He wasn’t part of the Navy, that much was clear. The man wore a black trenchcoat with red lining and inner sleeves, together with a pointed officers cap. According to Goradin, this man was part of a different branch within the Imperium. Something called the Commissariat. Whatever his purpose was aboard, he didn’t interfere or take part in the route planning in great part.
He just stood around, observing mostly.

Price didn’t care much at the moment. He had more pressing matters to discuss with the commanders.
With their combined experiences and area knowledge they could avoid certain known hotspots of pirate activity. But they would still have to cross a lot of dangerous ground. Some of which they had already passed without seeing any sign of the enemy, or any sign of anyone.
According to intel provided by the station commanders, a lot of imperial ships were already en-route. By now they would have seen someone or a plasma trail of some kind, indicating traveling ships.


The route was entirely empty. No ships, no plasma trails, no debris, no comm traffic. Nothing. Something was off here.
None of the Commanders liked it one bit and thus kept their crews close to alert. Ready to react within a moments notice. As a added precaution Price had ordered radio-checks every one or two hours, especially if one of the destroyers peeled off to investigate a nearby area. Mostly unnecessary, but if someone got missing, they’d know it soon enough.

Right on time for his duty-shift, Price marched in the CIC to take the Conn. “Sit-Rep” He ordered.
He was answered by one of the junior officers on watch.
“All systems nominal, course steady at 236 by 75. DRADIS is clean.”

“Fleet Report?”

“All ships have reported in half an hour ago. All report Negative contacts as well.”

“Very well Major. I have the Conn, you are relieved.”

“Yes Sir” the man replied before walking off for his down-time.

“Where is the XO” Price asked at a nearby console operator.

“The colonel was called away to engineering. Something about maintenance.”

“Alright, have you seen the LT?”

“The Blue should be around somewhere. Last I saw him he was looking at the fleet comms” he said while pointing toward the other side of the room.

‘Blue’, so that is what they were calling him now. The crew was getting accustomed to having foreign officers aboard. Seemed like a good thing. Though they’d never say that name to his face and expect to survive his response. Maybe that was a part of the reason why they did precisely that. Maybe it was a good idea to explain this later to the man should he lack the sense of humor.


Walking towards the comms he saw ‘The Blue’ sure enough.
“Morning Commander” He said while looking up from his clipboard.

“Morning LT. Anything of note happening around here?”

“Nothing special. Aside from our regular transmissions, all we hear is the universe laughing at us.”

Static bursts of radiation shooting across space always gave garbled sounds through the comms.
Listening to the random burbling and garbles for too long could give a man chilling nightmares if he let his fantasy loose.

“The universe can laugh for all I care. I just want to get through this area as fast as possible. This place gives me the creeps.”

“I don’t like it either. There’s nothing out there but still I have the feeling like we’re being watched.”

“Since when do you have that feeling?”

“From the moment we entered this forsaken place.”

“Good, that means I’m not alone.”

“Sir?”

“A lot of men have the same feeling we do. The other commanders don’t like it either. The sooner we are outta here the better.”


The next hour and a half Price just went about his duties, only to be disturbed by a call from Commander Rohr aboard the cobra ‘Avenger’.

“Price” he started without naming ranks. “My observers have seen silhouettes of an eldar destroyer stalking us in the distance. Bearing 192, same attitude.”


Price snapped with his fingers and gestured Goradin to pick up the second horn to listen in.
“Rohr, please repeat your last” he said while taking a hard look at the DRADIS screen. Rohr did as asked. DRADIS showed nothing.

Goradin contacted the observers dotted around the Invictus’ hull to look in the direction Rohr indicated. On the many surveillance screens both men focussed hard, looking for any sign of the fish-like shape of the enemy vessels.
After a few hard looks they managed to get a few quick reports and views on the small vessel. From the look of it, that ship had been drifting after them for quite a while.

“Confirmed. We see them as well. Possibly a Hemlock destroyer. We can’t ID him yet. Stand-by for orders. Do not engage unless fired upon.” and Price put the horn down.

Quickly he pulled up the navigation map and scrambled the navigator to assist.
“We’re still a ways away from the estimated jump point” the man began while calculating in his head.
“It is doable. We can get within 200k of our previous calculated exit point. If I adjust our present calculations we can jump in under seven minutes.” the navigator concluded.

“Do it” Price ordered. The navigator sped away to perform his duty.

“Sir?” Goradin began questionably.

“We’re not here to fight them just yet. Connect me to the fleet.” he said while picking up the horn.


“This is Invictus Actual to all fleet vessels. We are being followed by an enemy vessel. More ships of unknown strength may be following as well. Fall in and begin Jump Prep to Point Bravo. Avoid combat at this time.”

“Stalker, Aye” Borzakov agreed.

“Avenger, Aye” that was Rohr.

“Silent Nemesis, Aye” Geiss said with his raw voice.

“Aquila, Aye” Lemere voiced, only to be followed by a loud protest from the background.
A voice came back which Price remembered of being from the Commissar.
“As the Commissar of this fleet I protest against this order, Commander” he said while spitting the last rank out.
“We are here to vanquish all enemies of mankind and as such they need to suffer our wrath, Now! We must not run like cowards!”

Slightly annoyed Price replied:
“Make no mistake Commissar, I am no coward. But I am not about to risk our vessels on a wild goose chase. We have no idea what is out there. This vessel has been shadowing us for quite some time while remaining undetected. Maybe as long as we entered this region. For all we know there could be an entire fleet out there. At this time it is imperative to reach the Orar system as soon as possible, with as many ships as possible, as Lord-Admiral Ravensburg instructed. I intend to carry out this order. If you wish to protest against my orders I suggest you take it up to him. Until then you are to prep your vessel for immediate Jump Action towards Point Bravo. Do I make myself clear?”


The short silence that followed was broken with a clearly angry growl saying “Aye” before the connection was broken.
Looking up he found Lieutenant Goradin staring at him as if he was nailed to the ground. The way he talked the Commissar down made him stare in disbelief. Not many officers in the Imperial Armed Forces had the guts to talk to a Commissar like that. Even fewer lived to tell the tale. Regardless of future consequences, he found it glorious to behold nevertheless.


After making sure his entire fleet had jumped, the Invictus spooled up her FTL-drive and jumped out. Though Goradin has a number of jumps under his belt by now, he still didn’t get used to the feeling. Neither did he stop his customary prayers before jumping. He needn’t have worried.


As expected the ship emerged at Point Bravo, slightly off course, but close enough all the same.

All ships checked in and were verified before resuming their place in the formation. The three Cobra’s formed a spearheaded front, closely followed by Invictus and the Aquila. Soon the first patrols emerged from the Invictus launch tubes and went on to recon the area.
Something was off though. According to the star charts the edge of the nebula should be several thousand kilometers away from their present course. Instead they were practically sitting on its edge, looking in the purple-grayish haze of dust and gasses flying around. After looking at the charts and constellations again they found they were in the right position. Only the nebula wasn’t.


“Either this map is outdated or someone didn’t paint it in the right spot.”

“It doesn’t matter. Things move in space all the time. Signal the escorts to stay close. I don’t want to lose them in this soup.”

“Copy that. We should keep our heads down while we’re here. We could have someone watching us in there. How long till we reach our next jump point?”

“If we keep our emissions down, four days. Maybe a bit more.”

“Very well. Let's hope we can pass unnoticed.”


For the duration of his shift nothing of note happened so both officers went about their duties. Afterwards they exited the CIC together and started walking towards their quarters.
Before they could step through their hatches, alert-sirens started blaring, warning lights began blinking their amber lights and a voice came over the intercom:

“Action stations, Action stations! Set condition one throughout the ship. Commander Price and XO Howard to the CIC….”

“What now?” Price asked in his mind and quickly went back to the CIC.
“Sitrep!” he barked at the ranking officer nearby.

“We’ve got reports of vessels nearby. Patrol 5 didn’t report in and was overdue. The Stalker went in to investigate. The ships were found destroyed by energy weapons. Stalker was lucky to survive. A Hemlock destroyer swooped in and flew right past em at point blank range.”

“How the hell do they get in so close without being detected?”

“I don’t know Sir.” The man concluded.

“Right. Get the Vipers in their tubes. And where is the XO?”

“Right here, Sir!” Howard replied while quickly walking at the Commander, excusing the officer.

“Order the fleet to stay at full battle readiness. Increase speed! No sense in trying to hide when they are looking right at ya. Slowest ship gives the pace!”


His orders were quickly executed. Looking at his plotting table, Price wondered what his adversary had in store for them. Moments later Goradin took place between the DRADIS and Fire Control stations.
Usually the ship would rely completely on its own sensors, but because it was now in convoy, all sensors were linked, giving all ships better vision all around.


Since the Eldar were active now, they were visible on sensors from time to time.
Everyone expected them to attack at any moment. However, for the next twenty minutes everything was quiet. All crewmen kept focussed on their task regardless.

Out of nowhere a fast shadow appeared, flashing through the formation before anyone could react. When the guns were busy tracking the shadow, another appeared. When closing the shadow appeared as multiple small destroyers bearing in on the Cobra Avenger, Invictus turned her guns to defend and sent a barrage of fire their way. Only to find their shots would fly straight through them without doing damage.

One of the many incoming destroyers fired three blasts with its pulsar cannon. Two blasts cleared Invictus only by a margin of mere meters, not causing damage but leaving scorch-marks all the same on her back. The third shot went high and blasted straight in the shields of the Stalker, almost overloading them. The Hemlock destroyer tried to align for a second pass but had to abort to avoid the combined fire of the convoy.


The first Hemlock came around for a second pass and put two pulsar blasts in the Aquila frigate before disappearing again.

“What the hell was that? Six of them were closing in at the same time but only one fired?” one of the crew exclaimed.

“That is because there was only one destroyer attacking us at a time. Two ships were relieving each other, keeping us under fire.” Goradin explained. “Their Holofield technology makes it near impossible to find the real ship between the electronic and optical shadows. Remember, only the real ship can shoot. So if you can target that vessel.”



Thirty-five minutes passed without any sign of the enemy before they attacked again. This time Invictus launched one of its Viper wings to help out. But again they had no luck. The eldar would swoop in at different angles, fire their guns, and buzz off again. If they did get hit, the crew found little evidence of it.

After a few of these battle ‘cycles’ some officers began to wonder what was going on.

“Why are they disappearing every time? If they make a concentrated attack they could destroy us one at a time!” Howard remarked.

“If they attack now, at least one of them will be destroyed before they can take out one of us. They are keeping us on full alert. They will keep harassing us until one of our ships makes a mistake. If we do, they’ll strike and blow us into space.” Price answered

“They’ve got us pinned!”

“Not much we can do about that. They have the initiative. And without a signature to follow we can’t take the fight to them. All we can do is firewall the throttle and stick together in the defence until we reach our next jump point.”

=======

Attack-day 5.
By now all crews of the Convoy had been fending off Eldar attacks for 113.27 hours straight. Almost five days without sleep was taking its toll on the crews. Most were walking around with unbuttoned uniforms and unshaven faces. More and more crewmen were falling asleep against door-frames, bulkheads and on top of their consoles and had to be awakened from time to time by their neighbour. Even the Imperial Lieutenant, who always walked around spotless and properly dressed showed signs of fatigue. He didn’t even bother to button up his collared jacket. He kept going though and commanded the tired men with in the traditional way of the Navy, though his manner did annoy Howard.


The Commander and the XO were discussing the ship and crew status in the hallway, next to a comm officer collecting signature-forms. Though damage wasn’t serious, the state of the crew was more of a worry.

“Twenty-one more cases of nervous exhoustion. That makes 105. Get the doc put em on stims to get them back on their feet. One in four every cycle”

“That is gonna come back and bite us in the ass.” Howard replied

“Well, we have too much work and not enough people to do it. Tell the imperial commanders to do as they see fit on their ships. Was this my ten minutes or yours?”

“Yours, I had my ten minutes last time.”

“I’ll see you guys in combat.” Price ended before walking off to his cabin.

“I believe it was your ten minutes Colonel.” the Comm officer said.

“If the old man is so tired he can’t remember than it is his turn.” Howard replied before returning to the CIC.


========


“One hour to jump point!” an exhausted navigator called out.

“Eldar attack incoming, Port side!” the DRADIS operator shouted.

“Action stations! Launch Vipers in defensive formation and give us a solid defensive screen. Force them to break off before they get too close.”

Goradin kept an eye on the Battery Control and slapped a few crewman awake while Howard tried to analyse the enemy attack patterns.

“Oh my gods, they are focussing on the Stalker!”

“Batteries seven through Fifteen, redirect your fire to cover the stalker, Now!” Shouted Goradin.

The batteries turned and fired to form a defensive screen around the destroyer.
It was too late.
By the time the screen was formed, the Eldar had already stripped the shields from the ship. The exhausted crew couldn’t get them back up in time for the next series of attacks.
The next series of Pulsar blasts burnt holes through the hull of the ship and exited on the other side. Moments later the ship exploded in a bright fiery flash.


“Gods damn it!” Price Cursed. “Navigation, get us out of here! Order the fleet to jump, Now!”

“We’re not yet at our designated coordinates! We will drift from our exit point!”

“We are close enough. Jump the fleet before we lose more ships!”


Moments later all ships jumped towards their next destination.

All four remaining ships emerged close to each other. The ships seemed relatively intact, save for the Avenger who emerged from the warp with streaks of fire trailing from her hull.

Price tried hailing her and offered assistance. All they got back were garbled transmissions and random data before the ship broke apart.

“What the hell just happened?” Howard asked. “They were intact when they jumped right?”

“What happened is anybody's guess. Anything can happen inside the warp. They might have been in there for a long time.”

“They jumped mere minutes ago!”

“Time has no meaning inside the Warp. what for us is mere minutes could be months for them.”

“Great. Now we’re down two ships.” Howard sighed. “Is there any sign of the Eldar?”

“Nothing yet Colonel.” came from the sensors station.

“Keep an eye on it. Let's hope we won’t see them for a while.”


=======


The next few days there was little sign of the Eldar. There were shadows moving in the background, but nothing came close enough to be a threat. Completely exhausted, the captains of all ships took the opportunity to get their crew rested and back on their feet. Still, with all those shadows and sensor shadows on the background no one was quite at ease.

It was even worse for the guys in the Vipers. It is easy to see ghosts in the clouds. And not having a thick battlestar armour belt around you didn’t help either.


Mercer and Major Burke were on patrol on the edge of the formation. Every now and then they peeled off to investigate an anomaly, but every time it ended up nothing. Just their minds playing tricks on themselves. They were about to return to the fleet when the DRADIS sensors started bleeping.

Looking down on their screens the two pilots only saw a faint signal moving slowly.
“Invictus, Bingo. We’ve got a Bogey on DRADIS moving in parallel on your starboard. Moving to investigate.”

“Roger that Bingo. Be advised, Alert fighters have been launched and are two minutes behind you.” came through the radio.

Price just walked in the CIC when the alarm started blaring. “Sitrep!” he ordered.

“Bogey just appeared in DRADIS range, CBDR. From the size of it it is probably a ship of the line. CAP is underway to intercept.” Answered the XO approaching the Commander. “Constant Bearing Decreasing Range.” he said to Goradin, answering his questioning look. “They are closing in on us.”

“Vessel launching Fighters!” the sensor operator cried out.


Returning his eyes to the communications array Goradin noticed strange signals embedded in the contact signal. After tapping a few keys one could see his eyes widen and get almost exited.
“Sir, I got Imperial Transponders!”

“Ah, they are using our own signals against us.” Howard skeptically remarked.

“Maybe.” replied Price. “Weapons hold! No one is to fire unless fired upon! Relay this to the fleet. Get me a ship to ship line, Priority channel One.” he ordered before picking up the horn.

“Attention unknown vessel. This is the Battlestar Invictus. Identify yourself or you will be fired upon.”

A few tense seconds later the radio crackled to life and a calm raw voice answered.

“This is the Imperial Navy Carrier Ark Imperial to the ship claiming to be the Invictus. Respond!”

Ark Imperial? The mightiest carrier in the entire navy beside them! The Imperial lieutenant could barely believe what his ears were telling him. He thought they had passed this ship long ago with one of the jumps. Apparently the old ship was faster than he thought.

“Ark Imperial, Authenticate your ID with recognition codes immediately.”

A smile and confident nod from the Imperial LT told Price more than enough. The codes sent were authentic. Ark Imperial was flying beside them!

“This is High-Admiral Byzantine calling the Commanding Officer of the Invictus. You are a Non-Imperial vessel. Send your deployment orders and reason for being here immediately.”

“You are speaking with Commander Price. Deployment orders are to reach the Orar system with best speed, given by Lord-Admiral Ravensburg himself. Coded transmission under way.” Price replied while gesturing towards his communication staff.

“Stand-By” was the only reply that came back for a while. All the men could do was wait.
“He is probably talking to our escort.” Goradin answered the question everyone was asking. “We are still outsiders. Codes alone are not enough.”

“I guess we’ll get to see the true colours of our convoy.”

Five minutes later the horn crackled back to life.

“Orders verified Invictus. You seem to have the confidence of several field commanders which is good enough for now. Close formation and prepare to report to me with the other commanders in three hours.”

“Understood Ark-Imperial. Invictus out.” and he put down the horn.

A great sense of relief filled the room. Instead of another enemy to fight they finally found what seemed like an ally.

In his fighter Mercer was going ecstatic. Both fighter formations of the two ships met close to the supercarrier. The sight of Imperial fighters close to THE carrier in the fleet made the Flight Sergeant laugh in relief and joy. He never thought that he would ever see that ancient vessel with his own eyes, and now he practically bumped into it! This sure was one of the more interesting days in this war.

Ghostrider93
(Former) Technical Tester
Posts: 58
Joined: 09 February 2016, 21:21
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Re: Battlestar Invictus

Postby Ghostrider93 » 10 December 2016, 23:36

Hello ladies and gents,

Here is another chapter following the Invictus.
Enjoy!

---------------

Chapter 12


Slowly and gracefully the three ships joined formation with the massive supercarrier. Though the Invictus with its three kilometers length was an impressive sight for anyone to see. She was simply a speck, however, compared to the majestic might of the Twenty Kilometer long vessel. The differences didn’t end there. The Invictus was mostly smooth and, aside from a few main turrets and the lines of Point-defence Guns, had a flat and sleek appearance. Ark Imperial was littered with ‘small’ turrets. Small being at least tens of meters high and wide which boasted multiple barrels per turret, the ventral section mounting dozens of skyscraper-sized antennae for fire direction of the vast array of weapon batteries.

The entire broadsides were covered with launch bays, each as tall as city blocks, twelve double columns along each side. The launch bays were flanked by four lance turrets which were, hundreds of meters long, about as many meters wide and equally high. Each turret boasting six barrels, which themselves were of no small size. The turrets turning to survey the great void surrounding them with their imperious gaze.
Unlike most imperial vessels the ship didn’t boast a sharp-looking, and well decorated, armored prow. Instead it had a more blunt, sleek-looking nose devoid of decorations, aside from fleet colours. Just short of the bow, an entire complex of armoured superstructure, gold-lined and covered in antennae and sensor-discs, adorned the front-third of the ship. The middle section housed several dozen nuclear missile silo’s firmly entombed in the central spine of the ship. And where the fore section was impressive with its cathedral superstructure, the aft section made the former seem like a mere village church. The main bridge was a huge complex of majestically ornamented cathedrals with richly decorated and finely crafted side-churches serving as auxiliary segments.


To see the ship with your own eyes was awe inspiring to say the least. Price had seen the vessel on the sensor and vid-screens within his own CIC. But now he was looking at it with his own eyes through the canopy of his Raptor shuttle was another matter. The realisation of scale and grandeur was finally sinking in, though he still barely could grasp it. He was on his way to report to High-Admiral Byzantane as ordered. He would have taken his own Viper, but given the circumstances it didn’t seem like a good idea. So a Raptor shuttle it was, be it escorted by two Vipers, which peeled off when his craft set in for landing.
Slowly the relatively small craft floated through the gaping maw of the port-side hangar deck, which seemed to go on forever, and finally touched down with a gentle bump. Moments later the deck began to move the shuttle inside the bowels of the Carrier, into the pressurized upper crew-decks.


Two minutes later the Pilot got the green-light and opened the outer hatch of the craft. The four marines Price took with him, as a precaution and honour guard, exited first and took attention on either side of the hatch. Price followed soon after. When he looked up he was faced by two double rows of arms-men flanking his walkway. Whether this was an Honour-guard or a means of intimidation, Price couldn’t decide. Probably both.
Slowly and with upright stance Price stepped off his vessel and walked to meet a heavily decorated man standing before him in the middle of both arms-men rows.

Though he had put on his best Dress Grays, he was pale and bare in comparison to the other officer. The Imperial High Admiral having row after row of medals and ribbons displayed on an ornate golden breast-plate, his Pale White uniform trousers lined with golden thread.
Price stopped two steps in front of him and saluted sharply as a fleet officer should.
“Commander Price of the Battlestar Invictus reporting as ordered.”

The next few seconds both men looked each other squarely in the eye, assessing the other man.
Finally the other returned the salute with two fists crossing his chest, in the traditional Imperial Aquila salute.


“High Admiral Byzantane of His Divine Majesty’s Ark Imperial. Welcome aboard, Commander. Follow me to the Situation Room if you please. Leave your Arms-men here.” Answered the man with a calm but uncompromising voice.
“The others have arrived before you.”


Price fell in line to the side of the admiral and followed him through the corridors. He immediately realised both men were flanked by the very same arms-men that formed his welcoming committee. He didn’t know if he should feel like a guest or a convicted criminal. Either way, he did all he could to hide his discomfort. Intimidation always was a tactic to press others in line.

They went through corridors and bulkheads that were more than the name suggested. If anything, the corridors alone were tall and heavily decorated. Not bare and to the point like his Battlestar was. Ornaments and statues of many sizes stood in small altars imbedded in rows along the walls. Higher up towards the ceiling, thick walkways crossed paths between immense church-like archways. Every bulkhead or hatchway had stone-like skulls serving as consoles embedded at shoulder height.

Far below where more crossing walkways, though thinner and less ornate, more like simple metal walkways with railings. A sprawling mass of people bustling along each one and in the, what Price could best describe as pit, far below that. It was a surreal experience to the Colonial Commander. The ship he was in was virtually a city. He guessed by his surrounding the ship had its own class system and, presumably, culture and society on board. Price’s bewilderment at this realisation going completely unnoticed by the High Admiral, the commander making a heroic effort to remain focused on the task at hand.

Everyone quickly got out of the way of the armed group. Every now and again one of the arms-men rudely pushed aside anyone not paying attention and standing in the way. Conduct Price wouldn’t use against his own men if it wasn’t absolutely necessary, unless he wished to lose the respect of his men in the long run.


Five minutes later they entered a richly decorated church nave, marked Situation Room with expertly crafted golden lettering. The centre was dominated by a charting table next to an electronic one. The rear walls were lined with stained glass windows. Each window depicted what seemed ancient characters which either build a ship, fought enemies or worshipped some heavily armored man with a Halo surrounding his head. In the centre of the rear wall a giant golden statue was embedded of the same man, but this time holding out a giant sword in front of him. Closer to the exit, rows of elevated seats were placed facing the centre tables. Where applicable, some sort of green-ish electronic screen was mounted just in front of the statue. Clearly this room was used for extensive fleet briefings.

Two men in blue navy uniforms were already waiting at the centre tables, Commander Lemere and Geiss it seemed. They seemed to be discussing files that laid bare on the table. When walking closer Price noticed it was a three-view of his own ship laying on the table. Other files looked like assessments of himself.
Without looking the High-Admiral knew the question Price was about to ask.

“These files allowed me to get to know my adversary before he would set foot on my ship. I am sure you’d understand.”

Slowly Price approached the table and let the paper sheets go through his hands. Clearly the admiral had asked for the assessment of his liaison, Lieutenant Goradin. Unfortunately he couldn’t understand the characters imprinted onto the pieces of paper.


“And, what have you found?” Price simply asked.

“You are capable of following orders…... And breaking them.” the admiral replied calm but with a rumbling and judgmental undertone.

“You are talking about Babarus. About McCallun. If I had waited for the man to give orders before taking action I would not be standing here. He would have lost a good number of ships and new ships would have to take their place. Ships which could be of use elsewhere” Price answered. “Faced with this predicament with no orders I followed the directives I was taught at the Naval Academy.”

“And what directive would that be?”

“When in doubt win the war.” a short silence meant the Admiral was not yet satisfied. He continued:
“It means I have to do what it takes to complete my objective. In this case I called for reinforcements and held the line that way. Hardly disobeying orders.”


Though he could not say it, Byzantane could agree at least partly to the sentiment. However not every captain in the fleet was capable or competent enough to warrant such liberties. Let alone the loyalty to be trusted to do so in good faith. Even if this was no factor, they still had the commissars to contend with. Some would shoot you on the spot if you didn’t execute given orders exactly as given, regardless of the circumstances.
An eternal annoyance and grave danger to admirals and captains of a lower birth or of less competence, but a great relief to those in the upper naval classes as Byzantane was.
At any rate, as the session would progress he would decide how to handle the man on this subject.


“Unless we are here to chit-chat on past actions, I suggest to get to the point.” Growled Commander Geiss with a cigar in his mouth. “This war isn’t going to wait.”

“Do we have intel on the current situation in Orar?” Price began.

Slightly taken aback by this sudden disruption from his thoughts, Admiral Byzantane walked up to the charting table.

“Our recon flights performed by Fury fighters have given us these picts.” the Admiral replied while laying out big green-tinted recce etchments. “The depictions before you were taken this morning in orbit of Picus. An Agri-world. As far as we know the planet was taken two months ago, though we have picked up sporadic Vox-traffic from loyal elements”

“A bloody miracle if they’d lasted this long” Commander Lemere bellowed.

“We could take advantage of that.” Price added while looking at the overall system chart.

“All of the system is occupied, correct?”

“Almost. Only Anvil 206 is still in our hands. But who knows for how long” The admiral replied.

“If I may, Sir?” Price began while taking out a colored pencil from his inner pocket.

Byzantane nodded while others gathered closer.

“As I see it only Anvil is in our hands” Price began while encircling the planet with his pencil, “And our only assets are ships and the resisting elements on Picus..” he said while encircling the outer planet.
“It seems only logical that we retake Picus and use it as a base of operations to gather our forces before we push the system.” Price drew a new line connecting Picus to Anvil.

“Nice idea. Only a pity we don’t have soldiers.” Geiss scoffed.


‘We only need to hold what we have at Picus. We are no invasion force until reinforcements catch up.
My ship can provide Close Air Support to the boots we have down there. Letting them rot is a waste of manpower and loyalty.”
Price concluded.


The commanders went on arguing the plan, High-Admiral Byzantane let the noise fade to the background and pondered. He had been playing with the same plan for days, only he lacked the means to pull it off. He would have to keep the enemy fleet and ground forces at bay at the same time. With only his ship to work with, powerful as it may be, it was not enough. Now it may just work. He had two Imperial escorts to work with, plus a small carrier.
The plan was sound. The downside was that it would depend on the loyalty of this outsider. If he could keep his word they would succeed. If he failed or decided to leave, or Throne forbid, turn against them… At best they would lose the planet. At worst he would lose some small-craft and the carrier, and having to start all over again!

Then again, the man had gained the confidence of multiple fleet commanders. Even a few Admirals seemed to commend his actions. Now it would come down on a matter of trust. The very same subject they touched upon earlier.

The arguing between the commanders rose in volume and pushed Byzantane out of his thoughts. Geiss didn’t seem to like the plan. Too risky for so small a force. They would sure take a lot of hits. He may lose his ship. Which, given the difference in armor and shielding, was the most likely.


“Enough!” Byzantane called and the voices died down.
“If we wait, regaining a foothold in the system will get much harder. And in turn will increase the time it would take to retake the system. We have but one choice, which would ultimately come down to one simple fact.”

The Admiral slowly turned around to face the outsider in his gray uniform and looked him square in the eye for the second time that day. “Can we trust you, Commander Price?” he asked calm and slowly.

“My men know all too well what it is like to lose their world, Gentlemen.” Price began, turning away from the table. “These men on Picus are fighting to keep theirs. My men will support them without hesitation. You support us in space, and we will do whatever is in our power to support the men on the ground.” He concluded with great confidence.


The Imperial men turned to one-another. Lemere nodded to the Admiral, giving his approval. When the Admiral turned towards Geiss he just stood there with crossed arms, grunting for a second before shrugging his shoulders.
“Whatever, lets just get this over with.” he growled.

“It has been decided then.” Byzantane began. “We go in with our combined might, destroy what ships we can in orbit and drive off the rest. Once in position the three of our ships create a protective screen while Invictus supports our troops. Imperial Troop ships and Naval Forces should arrive no longer than a day later.” He faced each of the commanders: “If there are no further notions to add I suggest you return to your ships and prepare for battle. Dismissed”

With the gathering concluded, the present ship-captains began to exit the room.


As the last commander stepped through the door, the Admiral looked up from the plotting table he saw Price still standing at the table’s edge.
“You’re still here. You have more questions to ask, Commander?” Byzantane inquired calmly, his steel gaze fixed on Price.

“I do have a few which, in my opinion, affect the mission indirectly. If you have a moment.” Price answered just before throwing a look at the door-guard that hadn’t left.
The Arms-men on guard kept looking at the holstered sidearm on the Colonial’s waist. Realising the gaze of the guard compliment, Price slowly un-holstered his pistol, ejected the magazine and cycled the chamber, proving the piece was empty before placing it at the table. Satisfied the guard walked away after the commanders, closing the door behind him.


“What is on your mind?” Byzantane asked, slowly hanging back at the table.

“My men, sir.”

“Explain”

“Let's assume for now my ship serves the Imperium well throughout the war and survives with most of my crew alive. What is to happen then? What will we become? We have no home to return to. My fear is that, at the end of this conflict, we will still be bound to roam the stars in the hope of finding a home. Their actions, their sacrifice, forgotten. I appreciate your need for my ship in this conflict, but my men may ask why we Colonials are fighting a war that isn’t ours.”

“Your men lack a reason to fight?” The High Admiral asked wearily, the Imperial lord evidently not wanting to deal with an unwilling outsider. “You stated otherwise mere minutes ago. Explain yourself!”

“Don’t get me wrong Admiral. I ask them to fight, they’ll fight. I’ve proven that to men before you. They are concerned with the aftermath.”

Byzantane paused for brief moment. “I see your position, and the aftermath depends on your service and conduct.” he answered, before he took another few moments to think, crossing his arms.

“Since you’ve proven yourself in more than one occasion, I suppose I can tell you this much: It is not uncommon for veteran Guard Regiments and old navy personnel who have expended usefulness to be awarded a place to call home after a large conflict. Sometimes this can be in the form of a planet, other times simply a backwater station, and only to those who can’t effectively serve the Imperium anymore. Given you are not of the Imperium, neither the Inquisition nor Obscurus high command will want you to remain in active service after you are no longer instrumental to the war effort. Now, I am not Ravensburg, only he can promise such things; but my guess is that you will be committed to strategic reserve and sent to some quiet backwater until the Imperium has further use of you. Provided your current track record continues. Does that put your mind at ease?”


“Can I repeat these words to my officers in truth?”

“I shall relay your concerns to Ravensburg. Until then, tell them you will likely be rewarded, which is very much true. I suspect a medal will at least be in order. Provided you continue to serve with loyalty and competence, of course.”

“That is good enough for me. Thank you for your time Admiral” Price said while shaking the man's hand. The Imperial paused for second, but returned with: “Likewise Commander.” before turning his back on Price and heading towards his command bridge.
After these words Price re-holstered his pistol and walked out the room after the escort commanders.

-----

The briefing room board Invictus was filled with the ship’s High-Ranking officers and all pilots. The room was abuzz with the chatter of all present. The room was like an auditorium, sparsely decorated and to the point with screens for recon plates to be displayed. In front of the briefer-stage were row upon row of elevated seats, enough to seat every pilot aboard. This time there were not enough seats to go around so some stood at the side.

Suddenly the hatch near the stage opened with a loud click.
One officer turned around and noticed the Commanding officers, including The Blue, stepping through and called: “Attention on deck!”
The chatter was replaced with the sound of at least two-hundred men snapping to attention.

Price took stance in front of the men with the others to his flanks. “At ease”.
The men took their seats if they had managed to acquire one. The rest stood easy at their place.

“Gentlemen, we are on the threshold of reaching our objective given to us from Port Maw. The Orar Sub-Sector. This cluster of systems has been invaded by the very forces which have attacked us from the moment of our arrival in this sector. Now is the time to take the fight to them.”
He paused and set the system map of Picus on the Briefing screens.

“Our objective? Secure a foothold on the planet Picus Prime and hold it until Imperial reinforcements arrive. Mr Goradin…”

Price stood down and the imperial Lieutenant took his place.


“The Plan is simple. Our combined fleet will make a straight line for the planet and drive off the enemy fleet. Our focus must lie on the destruction of the invasion ships as displayed on this Recce pict.”

On the secondary screen a green-tinted picture lit up showing several warships and fat troop transports in orbit above the planet.

“Once our orbit has been secured, Invictus will provide ground support to our surviving troops while Ark Imperial and our escort ships keep the surrounding space secure. Any spare craft will support their efforts when the opportunity arises. But Picus must not fall!”

Goradin paused to let his words set in and produced a new green-tinted pict on the secondary screen. This time they were looking at what seemed a small double-runway airfield, which had suffered tremendous damage, layed in a valley surrounded by thick-forested hills. Not far from it to the south-east a small fortress-structure was visible. It held some sort of ground-space artillery.

“This tertiary airfield still holds loyal Guard and PDF ground troops resisting the invasion. These soldiers have been fighting for weeks so we can only assume they are exhausted and running out of weapons, ammo and manpower. It is critical that these men are allowed to keep this position. Our ability to reclaim the planet, and by extension, the system will depend on it. Keep note that the Aquila Battle Station to the south is still in Imperial hands, although for how much longer is anyone's guess. It is not to be attacked, even when taken, without express permission given by the Commander. That Macro Cannon could be critical to keeping our orbital superiority secure.”

Next came a list of pilots-rosters and call signs, indicating who was stationed where.

“Friendly Vox comms use call-sign Trojan 2-1. Strikers will use call-sign ‘Hawk’. Fighters will use ‘Eagle’. Each flight will find details in their mission packages. Any questions?”.

A hand rose. “What are our rules of engagement?”

Price took a step forward. “Mission priority first. That aside you are weapons free on all targets of opportunity.”

A few mumblings rose from the ranks but no questions came.

“If there are no further questions, see to your planes. Skids up tomorrow 0500 hours. Dismissed!” Price finished the brief.

Seconds later the sound of hundreds of men rising to their feet and exiting the room filled the chamber.
The Commanding Officers exited first and were soon followed by the rest.
Now all they could do is prepare for the battle to come.

----------------

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Scorch715
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Re: Battlestar Invictus

Postby Scorch715 » 11 December 2016, 14:07

Ark Imperial, 20km long?! So now there's a Gloriana-Class battleship in Battlefleet Gothic :lol:

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Re: Battlestar Invictus

Postby CALiGeR190 » 13 December 2016, 17:22

Scorch715 wrote:Ark Imperial, 20km long?! So now there's a Gloriana-Class battleship in Battlefleet Gothic :lol:

Nope. Its a Majestic Class.
Don't ask, that's the lore on it.
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Re: Battlestar Invictus

Postby Ghostrider93 » 26 January 2017, 22:05

Hello people,

Sorry for the late post. It took me some time to write this one.
Enjoy!

Chapter 13

Picus. Another hell hole for men to fight and die in. Once a pristine agriworld, covered with trees of ripe fruits and great fields of grazing Grox and native livestock. Now a blasted wasteland in most areas. Its cities in ruin, its vast forests burning, the few pockets of those still brave enough to resist the Chaos occupation having the life choked out of them in ever shrinking territories.

And this damned airfield is about the last place I wanted to die Captain Sorte thought to himself bitterly, as he clutched his Lasgun against his chest.
Las bolts and solid slugs flashed and whizzed about in both directions for a while now, the occasional explosive retort of a tank or savage bark of a Heavy bolter breaking the din, but Captain Sorte knew the real assault was soon to come. And when it finally came upon them they wouldn’t last long.

In the past two months he saw his units numbers become fewer and fewer each day. Of his original 1000 men, barely 400 were still alive. Some of the men now weren’t even trained soldiers, his real solider count still left of his original brigade probably closer to something like a hundred men. The other 300 being mostly militia. Desperate in their fight for their home many civilians picked up weapons from dead soldiers and fought on themselves. Some were smart enough to hook up with units as his. But now his unit would be the only one left as far as Sorte knew.

All he could do now was defend this damned airfield they found two weeks earlier. It was just another speck on the map abandoned long ago by local PDF forces.
There wasn’t much left. All planes were gone, save for a few ancient rust buckets who haven’t been used in decades. They did find some small-arms, two AA-gun carriers, four chimera’s and two rusty Leman-russ tanks. An Exterminator and a Conqueror. As luck would have it most of this stuff was barely able to move so they towed the armor out and dug in. The guns thankfully still worked. There was no place to run anyway and this place was as good as any other for a fight.
At least now they had more of a fighting chance than before, which for all they had wasn’t worth much. Those tanks being just about the only thing keeping his ragged band of troops alive.

They had been surrounded and outnumbered for three days now, huddled close in their foxholes. Sorte had hastily arranged for the defence with his remaining sergeants and Lieutenant Heath, an old war-horse lucky to be alive with what was left of the battalion. The 2 tanks were dug in, hull down, in the gap between the two runways, facing east towards the remains of a local forest and the main defence around the terminal. The two tanks arranged in a ‘V’ shape to protect the ammo dumps and mortar pits behind them. The AA were set to ground fire and Chimeras were turned side on and reinforced with dirt. Their broadside of lasguns facing out over the open ground and foxholes. Most of the infantry however were set up around the terminal building, with some 30 men barricaded inside. The rest, along with Sorte, were huddled in two-man foxholes arranged in a staggered pattern. Ready to attempt to see off an attack.

It was the best they could have done with the time and resources they had but the situation was still grim. Even if the the Aquila station held, they couldn't expect reinforcement… until about an hour ago. There was some contact over the Vox with Imperial space ships, telling him his new call sign was Trojan and to expect reinforcements. They were under way, they had told him, but Sorte still had no idea when they would actually arrive.
He just told his boys they were coming. It was the best news many had heard in months. It was certainly enough to bring some small ray of hope to Store's own bitter and desperate mind.
As Sorte rounded of his inner monologue, the enemy war-horns sounded and the incoming fire intensified, the rumbling of engines coming from the burnt-out forest. Their final attack was coming.

Sorte jumped to his feet, calling out over the fire “Wakey wakey, ladies! The heretics are coming! Get on the guns! Vox the Tanks, I want suppressive fire on the tree line now! For the Emperor!” And may he have mercy on our souls. He thought, as he cradled his Mk XI Mars-Pattern Lasgun and squeezed off a long burst into the rising tide of enemy fire.


The battle was a furious mess. Green-ish chaos las-bolts answered by red imperial ones, paired with the orange tracer of autocannons and the odd stream of yellow rocket trails from Heavy bolter rounds. The few mortars they had left were hard at action, pumping out their shells almost continuously. Soon they would have to slow down or they would cook a round off and blow themselves up. Something they could not afford to happen. Vox was almost useless on top of that, channels filled with static from dead lines or incomprehensible chatter and shouting. Explosions, shouting and screams from those who wished they were dead made it incredibly hard to understand what the other was saying even without them. Sorte giving up very quickly on trying to give any orders during the fight.

Wave upon wave of enemy cultists and traitors kept coming. With his rifle at his shoulder he ushered prayers to the emperor and continued firing. Focusing on aiming, the action of firing his weapon, and the dropping of his chosen targets. Sorte trying his hardest not to notice the the blood and brains of his former comrade beside him, or that the heretics were getting ever-closer to his hole. He was dimly aware of a shadow slowly enveloping the battle, Sorte spared a glance upward to see the underside of two hulking great warships drifting its way over to the airfield he was fighting for.
Sorte dropped to his knees, clasped his hands together, and prayed harder than he ever had in his life. He and his men and fought and died long enough, and he awaited blessed release from this hell.

-Minutes Earlier-

“Two Destroyers are approaching and you want to send marines on raptors down to the surface! Have you lost your mind!? They’ll be torn apart! If not by the warships then surely by the guns on the ground!” Howard virtually roared at The Blue standing across from him.

“Well Colonel I don't know if you’ve noticed but those surviving ground forces are not exactly having a picnic! We can't afford to delay our arrival by fighting with petty escorts! We can easily crush them and get reinforcements to the ground if you didn't have such a weak stomach for combat!” The Imperial retorted back, a savage snarl in his voice, Howard looked about ready to throttle him to death.

Price looked down at his plotting table, drowning out his bickering executive officers.
The bulk of the enemy fleet had been driven away, as planned, but two Iconoclast destroyers had broken past the fleet and were on their way to intercept them. He knew Howard was right, they could indeed easily destroy them without risking marine lives, but he also knew Goradin’s observation that the ground forces couldn’t hold that long was also true.
Come on Price, think of something! He thought, growing frustrated, when an idea suddenly hit him.

“Pipe down! Both of you!” The two men reluctantly turning to face their commander. “You are both right. We can't waste time fighting the Iconoclasts, or we lose the fight on the ground” Goradin turned to look at Howard with a smug and utterly triumphant grin “BUT!” Price added, supremely irritated by the face, “We can't risk the lives of my men trying to get support down there while those destroyers are close by. And don’t ever do that face again, or I will launch you out of the airlock” Goradin looked slightly stunned for a second before straightening himself up and trying to regain his composure.

“Well John, what do you suggest?” Howard asked


“I suggest an orbital drop. We burn hard towards the planet and punch through the atmosphere. The sonic boom and flaming mass should scare off the two destroyers, if what Goradin tells us is correct, they should be pirate mercenaries and won't have the stomach for facing up to a 3K long hulk of metal flying at them. We can launch Vipers on the way down to give close air support and maybe a few Raptors. When they are clear we jump into low orbit and provide further support from there and see off the destroyers if they come back. Its risky, but it should allow us to complete our mission with minimal casualties.”

Both Goradin and Howard looked at each other, then back at Price, “What?!” they said in unison.
“You heard me! Have a better plan, either of you?” They exchanged another look “No sir.”

-Present-

Sorte’s prayer was interrupted by a loud boom, and the now thoroughly withered captain looked up at the sky to see a bright light descending from the heavens. Well Sorte. You’ve well and truly lost it. He thought to himself, squinting to try and make sense of what he was looking at. Upon closer inspection, it looked like a great burning mass of metal was hurtling towards Picus at terminal velocity… The captain just continued to stare at the strange mass, unable to believe or comprehend what he was looking at.

The enemy destroyers, their captains in a panic at the new development, rapidly accelerating away with all the speed they could muster towards the horizon. Sorte neither noticed nor particularly cared anymore. His prayer, for the first time in his life, had been answered.


The Invictus, far above, had burned right through Picus’ atmosphere, dropping rapidly. Its hull glowed red by the friction of the thick planetary atmosphere, leaving behind a wall of fire dozens of meters high.
“Altitude hundred five thousand and falling like a rock!” sounded through the CIC.
“Launch! Launch them all!” Howard called down the horn while Price ordered: “Standby FTL!”

8 Raptors that had been waiting and loaded flew out of the main Launch pods at top-speed, Vipers and Strike Vipers ejecting from the launch tubes along the Pods’ broadsides.

Duster’s Strike Viper shook restlessly in the launch tube. With the tube doors open he could see the inferno raging outside.
“Cleared to launch!” sounded in his headset.

“Whelp, this is a new one.” Duster mumbled before being shot out through the wall of fire, into the Picus atmosphere together with 79 other craft.

“All birds are clear!” Shouted Goradin from his station.

“Stand-by……………. JUMP!” Price shouted, and with a great flash, Invictus disappeared. A mere 500 metres from the surface of Picus.


Everyone within a 5 kilometer radius, not looking away, was temporarily blinded by the bright flash of the Invictus FTL jump. With almost 3 cubic kilometers of metal gone, the void left behind collapsed with a giant sonic boom, throwing about people and debris even remotely close to the event and sucking up dust and pebbles in every direction at the vacuum-based disturbance. Sorte quickly ducked down and lowered his head to shield his face against the dust-storm, sand and pebbles ticking against his helmet and skin. Eyes dazzled and hands shaking in shock.

Moments later his vox began to sound:

“Trojan 2-1, Trojan 2-1 this is Hawk 1. Come in.”

Struck with disbelief Sorte just looked over at the Voxcaster for several long moments. Staring. He could hardly believe what he was promised by the Navy was actually occurring. Certainly an Improvement over Guard high command… Sorte mused in his typically cynical inner dialogue.

“Trojan 2-1, Trojan 2-1 this is Hawk 1, Callsign Duster. Come in.”

Slowly he approached the Vox and picked up the horn.

“This is… This is Trojan 2-1. Aye. Captain Sorte of the 122nd Guard-PDF Infantry Battalion. Are you our Navy reinforcements?” The answer seemed obvious, but Sorte had to ask to settle his confused mind.

“That’s affirmative! You’ve got eight Shuttles with Marines inbound to your location. I suggest you clear an LZ for them to land. ETA three minutes.”

Thank the Emperor. “Roger that Duster, can you provide Close Air Support?” Please say yes. Sorte wasn't even completely sure he’d have the wafer thin defence he did have without some kind of heavy firepower.

“You’ve got nine fighters and seventy strikers at your disposal Captain. We’ll do what we can. Better tell your guys to get real small in their holes and mark your lines. We can’t see friend from foe from up here.”

By the Throne! This keeps getting better! “Understood. Sorte out!” he threw down the mic, and looked around wildly for surviving men. The Chaos attack had noticeably eased in shock, barely any fire being exchanged, it barely registered as he turned right turned and finally spotted a few of his men several fox-holes along from him. Theirs being a slit accommodating 6 men as opposed to the two-man hole Sorte currently found himself in.

He recognised two of them from his original company. Sorte sucked in and projected his voice over to them “Merkin! Doyle! Get behind that depression behind us and prep an LZ for incoming reinforcements! Use det-cord if you have to! Go!” the men didn't need it repeating. While fire was still relatively light, they ran off at meteoric pace back and away from the line.

He turned to his left to see what he could scavenge from his dead Vox officer when he spotted a boy from the malitia in the Fox hole directly next to his. Barely out of his teens, he was showing his metal by hammering the line with his autogun. Either not noticing or recovering quickly from the surprise arrivals.

“You! Boy! What’s your name?” Sorte shouted, lugging up the Caster and scurrying the short distance between the two fox holes, narrowly avoiding a hail of Autogun slugs.

The boy looked around startled, swinging his gun around, before realising his Captain was the one scurrying toward him. The boy lowed the weapon, swallowed, and replied weakly: “Dannings, sir.”

“Ever worked with one of these?” Sorte asked, nodding to the caster dropped at his feet.

He looked down at it. “Can’t say I have sir. Best I had was a short-range toy and a radio I used to tinker with.” Nervousness and anxiety clear in his voice.

“That’s good enough. You just volunteered to be my Vox officer. Congratulations on the Promotion. Now pick this piece of crap up and stick to my ass from now on, understood? You are now our lifeline!”

“Yes sir!” the boy replied, feeling both proud for vote of confidence and now nervous of the immense pressure now lying on his shoulders rather than performance anxiety.

“First order for ya. Drown out all vox noise and send to all our boys: friendly ships incoming, watch fire. Stay in your holes and mark our lines. Use smokes to mark out position. Friendly CAS inbound. You got that?”

Dannings nodded and started working with the caster right away, playing with the switches and knobs.
The kid sure looked more confident with a vox than shooting a rifle Sorte reflected, Let’s hope he is proficient with it too.


The arch-enemy’s forces were in disarray after Invictus made its dynamic entry. Soldiers stunned, blinded, and unsure of how to proceed with what had seemed like an easy victory, paralysing the attack. The front line had stalled, and more infantry and the first vehicles pouring out of the Forest edge had created a target-rich environment. It took a few moments before they realised there were strikers inbound, once they did the Chaos force was in motion again. Scurrying for cover in the forest, rushing forwards into captured foxholes, while the Hydras they had in the area roared out wave after wave of FLAK. It would be far too little too late for many of them. But the Hydra batteries were a nasty hazard for Invictus’ planes.

“Wow, someone really isn’t happy to see us.” seeing the thick black blanket of lead rising up to greet them from the Hydras on the ground.

“Damn right Wizzo” Duster replied while jinking away from the wall of fire. “Shall we return the favour?”

“Already on it. Got one mobile AA at one O'clock at five KM.”

“Lock missile!”

“Locked!”
“Rifle!” Duster called in his radio while pulling the trigger, calling his shot.

The optical seeker found the heat-signature of the enemy Hydra battery and sped towards it at Supersonic speeds. Just over a dozen seconds later the missile impacted the lightly armored weapons carrier and detonated inside, tearing the vehicle apart in a brilliant orange fireball. Secondary explosions cutting down surrounding Infantry in the Forest.

“Whelp, that shut them up.” the Wizzo commented, looking over at the rising column of thick black smoke.

“Yup, but he isn’t the only one down there” Duster replied before switching to his radio. “Duster to all Planetary units. Mobile triple-A units in the area, priority one targets. Stay at altitude and scan your sectors. We need confirmation of whose friendly down there. All Hawk Units, form a ring up high, pick your targets before your run in. By the numbers people. We can’t lose any ships here. No time to Frack about!”

He was answered by multiple acknowledgements over the net.

All craft rose to altitude and formed a giant rotating wheel of strike craft orbiting the combat zone, waiting for the lines to be marked. White smoke markers began to rise from the airfields outer edges. Trojan had marked their holdings.

“We’re in business!” someone exclaimed over the comm. And the craft set in for their first pass. Diving like great predatory birds after their prey.



The smoke-markers were barely active before Sorte could see a dozen or so small Strike Craft screaming down towards the enemy troops mere dozens of meters in front of him. Large streams of tracers and FLAK arched up into the sky, trying to hit the small craft. They were met with missile-fire aimed right at the source, explosions accompanied by shouts and screams marking the termination of the missile's trajectory. Stopping whatever had been shooting at them in very short order.
Each craft came down low and dropped two canisters which quickly exploded in massive fireballs almost a hundred meters long, enveloping dozens of enemy troops with them with every blast. Their deaths marked by screams and the foul stench of corrupted and burning flesh. Within minutes the airfield was practically surrounded by fire. Sorte winced and felt the immense heat burning, but cracked a savage grin. A truly fitting end for the heretic.

The fire temporarily isolated the airfield, leaving only small lanes open where the fires failed to overlap. In spite of the blocked path, enemy troopers and APC’s attempted to resume the assault, flowing out of the surrounding woods. To Duster the mass of troops looked like a heap of ants crawling towards their target. Seeing the opportunity he swooped his Strike-Viper down and started his attack run, shortly followed by two wingmen.

Sorte ripple-dropped cluster-bombs above the highest concentration of enemy troops he could find. Before the traitors could react, the area was saturated with hundreds of small bomblets which exploded on impact, severing limbs and ripping apart bodies. His wingmen executed expert rocket-strikes on the lightly armored APC’s. Some managed to get a few shots off with their side-mounted lasguns, before getting gutted by armour-piercing rockets exploding inside and eviscerated anything in their way.

All that was left behind being scored and gored earth, punctuated only by the screams of the dying and the burning wrecks of torn up APCs.

The three strikers pulled up hard to rejoin the formation above, paired with las-shots and hard-rounds from below. A stray shot managed to graze the wing of Dusters plane, but did not do any damage worth thinking about.

Duster’s flight barely reached formation altitude before their place was filled by two other strikers bearing down on the enemy infantry, drowning them in fireballs of their own. The first managed to break away clean without any issues. The second wasn’t that lucky. He came in too fast, restricting his ability to move with tremendous G-forces. He steered clear of the ground, but was focussed down by an enemy Hydra battery and pintle-mounted autocannons. The intense fire shredded his right wing, set his engines ablaze and killed the pilot in the peppered cockpit. His Wizzo somehow managed to survive, but being trapped in a dying plane with a dead pilot his life ended quickly as the plane fell down towards the planet. The remaining weapons detonating on impact with a massive explosion.

Regardless of the loss of their fellow pilot the craft kept their attack runs up around the entire perimeter, halting the enemy advance and preventing them overrunning the airfield.

The open plains separating the field from the surrounding forest wasn’t much wider than about five hundred meters, but was soon filled with the dead and dying among storming enemy forces. Dead and burning wrecks of weaponized trucks, APC’s and a few odd tanks marked their demise with thick black smoke billowing from within.

Sorte looked out over the display of Carnage and Destruction and was only far too aware that without the quick support of the strange small strikers, he and his men would have faced a terrible demise in a not so distant future. The scenes before him most likely occurring among his own forces.


Not long after he heard a high-pitched screech of whining engines coming down. Sorte turned to see several small, fat, craft descending towards the depression Merkin and Doyle had cleared. The promised reinforcements finally started to arrive at the LZ. He tapped Dannings on the shoulder to follow and ran towards the landing spacecraft at the low of the field. They attracted virtually no fire despite breaking cover, all Heretical eyes fixed on the sky in terror.

Before the shuttles could touch down, dark-uniformed soldiers had already started to jump down and ran towards his general direction. As soon as the craft were empty they pulled up again and were gone as soon as they arrived.

“Captain MacTavish, Colonial Marines. You the one in charge here?” the stranger officer asked, shouting over the noise of Raptor engines, screams of hundreds of dying soldiers and heavy gunfire.

Sorte hesitated. The men were not wearing uniforms he recognized from the Uplifting Primer or his own experiences, they did not appear at all like Imperial soldiers judging by their uniform and weaponry, but Sorte reasoned that they must be on their side judging by the air support.

“Captain Sorte, Guard-PDF, or what is left of it.” Sorte replied. “I can see you aren’t imperial, but I can’t afford to be picky right now. What do you have for me?”

“Sixty of my best men. We’ve got a few marksmen and LMG’s with us. Second wave is under way, fifteen minutes!”

“Alright, it’ll have to do, spread your troops out along the line. We could use some cover fire from the terminal. Heath’s Autocannons and Heavy Bolters could use a break. If you have snipers, put them there and up the hill to the south. Also, reinforce Beta company at the creek bed to the southeast if you got men to spare. They got hit hard before you could arrive and are probably locked in hand-to hand fighting as we speak.” if they are still alive Sorte thought cynically to himself. Beta company being undermanned from fighting before they got stuck at the airfield, but he needed something to cover the southern flank.

Tavish nodded to Sorte and immediately turned to his men “Mcdonnell, Doyle. Pick two snipers and get your MG’s in that terminal, go!”

Four men immediately scurried away and headed for their post.

“Gaz, get your men to the creek-bed. Take third squad with you, spread out along the line. The rest of you on me!”

About half the group kept low and hurried to the south and disappeared from view.

The remaining troops stayed with MacTavish who followed the PDF Captain to his command-post close to the LZ, leading his men from there to the dug-in Leman Russ tanks. “What’s the situation here Cap?” MacTavish asked after diving into a fox-hole close to the tanks, a hail of lasbolts and Autogun slugs flying overhead at the movement around the airfield.

Sorte sighed as he thought how screwed his men truly were before reinforcements arrived, but delayed barely a moment in his reply “We’ve been flat to the board for weeks and we are obviously outnumbered.” He said, gesturing around at the forest, still regurgitating fresh Chaos troops. “Ammo and rations are low. We have kept ourselves going on abandoned equipment and local floria, thank the Emperor for Agri-Worlds. One thing we are desperate for are medical supplies. I can barely do anything for my wounded” Sorte continued. His last words almost drowned out by a loud boom of the Conquers main gun firing. A captured trench suddenly erupting from the ground as the heavy High Explosive ended a group of traitor Infantry getting too close to the command post. The boom followed shortly by a long stream of orange shells and rapid fire explosions, closely followed by an exploding enemy tank, the Exterminator adding yet another of its own contributions to the carnage.
Sorte gestured upwards, not wanting to contest with the noise of the warmachines. “What is the story up above?” he shouted, after the outburst had concluded itself.

“In short, two space-carriers and two escorts are tearing the red bastards a new one. These strike craft should give them some pause. If we can hold out till tomorrow, maybe half a day later, we’re good. Liberation fleet should be here by then. Till then we’re it! ‘Scuse me” he remarked as he bumped the Imperial away, shooting down two charging Chaos Fanatics that had gotten through the tanks’ formidable fire envelope.
The long bursts of Colonial rifles and machine-guns soon joined the barking of Autoguns and Cracking Las-rifles all around.

----

-Beta Company, Southern Flank, The Creek Bed-

“Manny, where the hell are you?” the young soldier grunted under his breath. His long-time friend and comrade-in-arms had sped off to the munitions dump for spare charge-packs and ammo-mags. Throne knows where he was now, almost everyone in his squad was running low. Whatever they had left wouldn’t last long. The sarge had ordered everyone on single-shot. Full auto would only waste precious ammo. Manny should have been back by now. The soldier hoped he would be back soon or he would run dry, the heretics where showing none of the restraint or hesitation they had around the Terminal and command centre. He had three magazines left, and the enemy was barely dozens of metres away from him. He’d already been forced to watch the trench line in front of him fall, the men within physically torn apart by the frenzied barely-human horde of renegades.

Masses of enemy soldiers came charging towards his position. The Soldier knew what would happen if they reached him, he knew his duty to the emperor, and he would not fail in his sight. He fired in single-shot, as he had been ordered, each heavy round ripping through a heretic and sending it tumbling to the ground. Three, Four, Five, dropping in rapid succession before the click sounded; the weapon demanding it be fed ammunition.
In a bid to keep the horde at bay he slung his rifle to the side and reached for the side arm. He had only one mag, but it should have kept them at bay a little while longer... Too little, far too late. The enemy troops were already within arms reach.

The soldier emptied his autopistol into the charging chaos troops, killing three, but rapidly expending his finite resource of ammunition. With no time to reload his rifle he swung the weapon up like a club and sunk the long savage-looking bayonet on it into the heretics throat. The assailant, not immediately killed, recoiled back making choking noises as foul and corrupted blood spurted across the soldier's face and coated his weapon. He immediately brought his rifle up high and stabbed him again with his fixed bayonet directly through his rotting gut, sending the enemy soldier into agonizing death screams before it finally surrendered its cursed life.

Not stopping for a second, he swung round to face two other assailants that had jumped into his Fox-Hole. One attempted to batter the Imperial with what looked like a spiked club, the soldier ducked right and slashed upwards from down low, castrating and disemboweling the traitor in one clean motion as it dropped to the side clutching it’s stinking guts. The second rushed its way past its former comrade clutching a Lasrifle fixed with a rusted bayonet. The Imperial swatted the jab aside but received a faceful of rifle-butt as the traitor smoothly followed up the attack with a harsh bash. Dazed, and off balance, the Imperial made a wild slash at the blurred shape of his assailant in desperation. He got lucky. The blade connecting with the throat of the trooper. The enemy dropping to his knees and keeling over silently, windpipe severed. The Soldier was young and in his prime, but blinking away the dazed haze of the strike he had just received and now thoroughly exhausted from weeks of fatigue and heavy fighting, he was easily at his most vulnerable by that point.

Barely recovered, he heard the sound of more running from the heretics. He turned and raised, readying for another bayonet fight. Then he heard a sharp snap and whistle of a bullet passing by his head, shortly followed by the crack of a skull being ripped apart by an explosive. He turned to face the disturbance, seeing a huge black-uniformed soldier running up to him, blasting away with his exotic-looking bullpup rifle.

The bulky man dropped down into his foxhole and pressed his back against the dirt wall for cover. “You Ok?” The black uniformed soldier asked. “What’s your name son?”

The Imperial soldier looked puzzled for a second, but the adrenaline cut through his confusion and he nodded to him, finally reloading his autogun. “Name’s Lem. Thanks for that! Not sure I could take another one” making a lazy wave to the butchered and rotting corpses around him, panting heavily.

“Don’t mention it. Call me Camo” he said before popping up and letting a burst loose at the enemy, the next wave initiating its assault hot on the heels of the last. Looking through his sights the colonial saw the disgusting shapes of the enemy troops, while they were alive, up close for the first time. These were not the soldiers he was used to fighting. He had fought men like himself for his entire career. But never this. These men resembled drowned and rotten swamp-monsters more than men. Squealing and screaming, the men in torn and faded uniforms kept charging the line.

In the ongoing onslaught the two men covered each other's backs, though they barely knew the other's name, and both had different drives to fight, they were united as soldiers by their shared need to eliminate the enemy they faced. Camo, clearly being an experienced soldier, saved Lem on more than one occasion, throwing him to the side to cut down flanking enemies. Lem returned the favour on one or two occasions, neatly cutting down any who got too close to his only immediate support and providing cover in the form of their mutilated bodies to absorb incoming fire.
Camo was absorbed in the action and his dedication to duty when he heard a sound which would chill any soldier to the bone. It was the clicking sound of a gun running out of ammunition. He turned and saw Lem franticly looking for a spare mag to slam into his gun. Desperate to fulfil his equipments demands.
It was no use. All his rounds were spent. Lem just swallowed and prepared for more hand to hand combat. If he died he did so fighting, in the Emperor’s name, to the bitter end.
Looking at the pale and ruined face of the withered Imperial, Camo un-holstered his sidearm and tossed it over.
“I take em at range. You keep doing what you do best! Keep em off my back. You got twenty rounds a mag. Six mags left. Make em count!”

Lem stared at Camo like he’d grown a second head, but quickly recovered, nodding and starting to blast away at any target he was sure he could hit. The pistol looked bulky, had a big secondary barrel and trigger, but was lighter than anything he had held before. Certainly no Bolt Pistol. The recoil was significant, but lighter than he was accustomed to, the stopping power was still more than enough to drop a storming foe.

Soon the sharp burp of Camo’s automatic rifle joined the loud bang of Lem’s side arm fire. The two warriors continuing their stalwart stand, as hell unleashed upon them all around.

-Forest Edge, Renegade forward command-

The day had gone from bad to worse for the traitor colonel. He had been given the honour of crushing the last bastion of loyalist defence for being the first defector, only to be foiled by an uninvited guest. He felt like weeping. Years of preparation and shady dealings slipping from his grasp, even as his former PDF regiments were blessed by Father Nurgle's first touch. Is this my trial, oh great plague farther? If so I will endure it!

He was interrupted by a pained wailing and his name being called.
He turned to see General Pallion and two of his fanatics entering his command centre, cutting down his unfortunate bodyguard. All dressed in the crimson red and bronze armour of all those who worshiped the god of violence and bloodshed.

“Colonel Davis!” He screamed in a high, demented voice, “What is the meaning of this incompetence!?”
Davis wheezed out a sigh, a single racking cough shaking his body as flies escaped his bloated lungs, “Maybe if you stopped killing my body guards I would be more secure in my position! Besides, we could not have anticipated these… interlopers…” Davis trailed off, gesturing up to the speck in the sky, where Invictus watched and waited.

“Do not trifle with me!” Pallion screamed “The death of a few unworthy ‘soldiers’ and the appearance of some petty weaklings do not justify your failure!” His voice suddenly dropped and became unnervingly calm, rumbling and deadly quality just below the surface of the calm words “perhaps a change of command is in order, Davis.” a Predatory grin splitting his sharp and cruel face.

“No!” Davis croaked out through his mucus filled throat, “I will crush this resistance of father nurgle's blessing and bring this world under the sway of the true powers! Just give me time. I didn't expect visitors.”

Pallion’s grin didn't dissipate, and he continued in his dangerously smooth, oily voice “Well the warmaster doesn't seem to agree. You’ve disappointed me, and those that gave you this mission.” Davis opened his mouth to retort but Pallion cut him off with a sharp chopping motion and a feral growl, before continuing “But… we feel merciful today. Perhaps your gross misconduct was just one stumble in the glorious trail of bloodshed. You have until morning to either destroy this resistance, or get out of the way, the crimson fist is descending upon this airfield and they will not shy away from destroying your pathetic excuse for soldiers alongside the corpse worshipers”.

“Do I make myself… perfectly clear?” Pallion asked, voice laced with venomous malice.

Davis swallowed down a heavy clump of mucus and nodded. “y-yes, general, I understand. I’ll make preparations immediately”.

Pallion’s grin widened “Good.” He turned to leave, decapitating the one surviving bodyguard as he groaned on the floor. “I expect to have heard of your success by Morning, or gods help you, your head will decorate my command tank.”

-Beta Company, Southern Flank, The Creek Bed, the following night-

As loud and intense as the fight was during the day, the silence and quiet was deafening over the Creek Bed. Or the entire airfield as a matter of fact. When dusk came the enemy finally gave up their relentless attacks, their surviving elements retreating towards the treeline.

That was two hours ago.
Camo and Lem were huddled low in opposite ends of their foxhole, talking quietly to each other. Lem was absently fumbling with the Pistol Camo gave him earlier that day. He didn’t need it anymore as one of the ammo runners had already stocked him up with a mags and a few grenades, but the small strange piece intrigued him nevertheless, playing with the secondary barrel and the slide.
It didn’t pierce body armour that well as a standard Bolt Pistol would, but still it would do the job well enough. It had kept him alive till now anyway. Opposite of him in the small hole, Camo took a look at his Tempest pattern autogun. He seemed satisfied, nodded approvingly at Lem before handing the rifle back.
“Not a bad piece. I can imagine why you like it.”

“Has enough stopping power. If you’ve got the ammo.” Lem replied without looking up at his fellow occupant. Camo couldn’t hide his chuckle that moment. Lem gave him an annoyed look. Obviously not liking the humour.

“Sorry.”

Lem shrugged. “Why the hell are you on this Throne Forsaken planet anyway?” he asked with a somewhat suspicious look on his face.

Camo chuckled again before replying: “It’s a long story.”

Lem took a quick look over the edge of his hole, watching over the plains. Nothing.
“I’ve got the time” He replied before sitting back down.

“You are not the only one to lose his home, son. The difference is we had a different enemy exterminating our family and friends.” Camo replied with sad eyes and a heavy voice.
“My unit and the boys flying up there” he gestured towards the sky to put an accent on his point, ”We’re all that is left of my people.”

Lem just nodded in acknowledgement, not giving away whatever he was thinking.
“And now you’re fighting on this ball of dirt which is not yours. I get how you feel.” he replied.
“My world isn’t lost. Not yet anyway. I’m from a Feth-hole of a Hive-world somewhere in the guts of this sector. Some Feth-head thought it was a good idea to try and assassinate heads of government. Now my once great home is locked in a murderous civil war. Not that it matters out here anyway.”

“Two soldiers of distant worlds, sharing a hole and fighting for a world that isn’t theirs. What are the odds….” Camo remarked to no-one in particular.
“You got that right….” Lem replied with an absent look on his face.

“You know… Not many shipbourne units would come down to help a rag-tag group of desperate grunts like you guys do. You sure are in the wrong side of the universe.”

“Oh? How’s that?”

“You guys aren’t Imperial. That makes you outsiders. Whether you are friendly or not, You’ll be under the strongest scrutiny for as long as you live. Or until you leave Imperial territory, which I highly doubt you’ll ever manage.”

“We’ll see. First we have to survive the night before I can worry about that.” Camo replied while taking his turn looking over the top.

“Point”

Camo took his time looking over the top, scanning with his eye through the magnified scope of his rifle.
“You see anything?” Lem asked as he joined Camo looking over.

“Not a thing. It’s pitch black out here. I can barely see the other hole to our flanks, and they are mere meters away. I’ve got a feeling though.”

“What feeling?”

“They’re creeping up on us.”

“It’s the wind and the dark playing with your head. Smoke of the fires today have blocked the moon.”

“Nah, it’s not that. They’re coming. I’m telling ya.”

Lem wanted to reply, but before he could say anything the creeping-up feeling Camo had began to grasp him as well.

“Do some of your stove-pipe boys have some illumination rounds left?”

“Who?” Lem asked with a confused face.

“Stove-pipe boys. Mortars.”

Lem nodded and rolled over the top towards the closest foxhole to his left. He returned after a few seconds, laying his rifle on the line in anticipation.

Moments later they heard the signature thump and whoosh of a mortar round being fired some distance behind them. With a loud hissing sound, the flare chased away the pitch-black dark of night, illuminating the plains in front of them. Momentarily blinded by the sudden brightness both men squinted their eyes. When the reopened their eyes the both men cursed in horror as the adrenaline kicked in.
The plain before them was a writhing sea of rotting soldiers, crawling and crouching, trying to sneak up upon the Imperial/colonial line.

A long moment passed, the two sides staring at each other in shock, before the call ‘Open Fire!’ went up along the front. Suddenly the entire line erupted in small-arms fire, soon joined by mortars and grenades, together with the odd air-dropped bomb exploding in the plains. Soon the night becoming day as flares, explosions, and storm of bullets roared out into the darkness.
The enemy was barely a second slower to react. Soon the carpet of bodies had risen and surged forward in a great tide at the line of fire. Shells boomed out in retort from the treeline, engines rumbling to life, and the feral screams and cries of battle suddenly filled the air like a thick haze.

The soldiers at the line did whatever they could, fighting valiantly to try and keep the enemy outside the perimeter, but the sheer amount of bodies being thrown at them was just too much for their guns to handle. Before long the fight deteriorated into a vicious close-quarter brawl. A struggle of strength and wit to survive the night.

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Swirlby
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Re: Battlestar Invictus

Postby Swirlby » 30 January 2017, 06:45

Glad to see you're still making these. Keep up the good work.
A stranger is just an enemy I haven't met yet.


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