[03M] Monument Sensor Array

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[03M] Monument Sensor Array

Post by Haze on Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:48 am

The asteroid Ynaspher had largely been floating around space for the past few billion years, not achieving many life goals. If it had been conscious at the date 2.01.030.932 (Voehn calender) it might have been pleasantly surprised. Then again, if it enjoyed its peaceful life orbiting a pretty standard solar system then it might have been displeased or annoyed. The subject of such unexpressed displeasure would have been the small VASF ships skimming out of hyperspace like so many pebbles tossed out onto the lake. Against the sheer void of space, any body is minuscule, but this particular fleet was particularly minor. The largest ship in the fleet was the Delinquent class cruiser Helios, followed by the Ahl junk St. Aveon. Smaller still was the gateship Gatecrasher. One ship however registered as barely more than a splinter or a needle floating in space. That ship was the Vagabond class Stray. The Stray would have probably been mistaken for a fighter by most civilisations, as it was only five meters across and thirty in length. In fact, the whole group of ships looked rather pitiful. What the Voehn classed as a cruiser was only 300 meters long and impossibly narrow. The only conventional looking ship present was the St. Aveon, which had a reassuringly thick build. The Gatecrasher was a hammer-headed expression of the concept of ugliness. Its designers had been so impolite as to leave out even a sense of ruggedness normally present on ugly ships. The misfit fleet settled onto a course and began making its way towards Ynaspher.

Gatecrasher - Ahl Gateship

Inside the Gatecrasher, the second shift crew were having breakfast. While day and night-time were not familiar terms to the crew, it was generally recognised that the first shift constituted day-time, as it involved the most activity. Second shift was when most of the crew slept, relaxed, or 'recreated'. The crew called to duty on second shift thus woke and went to work in an atmosphere where everyone but them was having a relatively good time. This was a common topic of conversation at breakfast, and today was no exception to that norm.

"Fuckers." Said one of the blue uniformed second shift crew.

A couple in bright yellow uniforms sauntered past, clasping hands and laughing raucously at some unheard but obviously ecstatic joke.

"Fuckers." Agreed the man's blue uniformed comrade.

A rather worn looking Ahl female took her place next to the pair. Her uniform, like the others', was a particularly depressing shade of blue. Wordlessly, she tore open a hot drink container with as little enthusiasm as one can tear open a hot drink container with. She then proceeded to sip at the drink while displaying a staggering grasp of emotional balancing by exuding both desperation and apathy in the direction of the drink. The pair of males watched her, displaying similar emotional broadcasting skills. Before she managed to sip (With desperate apathy) more than half the drink, a clearly drunk male in a bright yellow uniform knocked into the table, spilled the female's drink, and then stumbled off shouting an apology.

"Fuckers." The female said, standing from her seat and walking off towards the bridge. The pair shrugged their agreement and followed.


Helios - Voehn cruiser

Ahead of Captain Sehl floated what looked rather like a pebble dipped in quicksilver and enlarged. The strange floating device was about a meter long, and a third of that in width and depth. It did not bob or buzz or wobble as Sehl had expected it to. It merely floated in place, as if it were sitting upon an incredibly solid and unmovable surface, and was quite content to sit there without change until further notice.

"Captain Sehl, will this one suit your purposes?" The voice seemed to come from all-around him, so much so that she wasn't quite sure where to look.

"Uh, yes. That one will do. Ynaspher, the navigator called it."

"Good. If you don't mind I'll co-ordinate the mining efforts."

"No no, not at all. I'll watch from the ship."

The sliver of metal turned an opalescent red.

"It's the ship I'll be needing Captain."

The Helios adjusted its angle and began sailing down towards the asteroid. St. Aveon and Gatecrasher stayed up, following the asteroid, while Stray tilted inwards to speed after its cruiser.



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


Gatecrasher - Ahl Gateship

The second shift shuffled onto the bridge and made their way to their respective consoles. As they approached their destinations, first shift members turned and gave them bright smiles, before hurrying off towards the rest and recreation areas of the ship. Soon the bridge was left with a skeleton crew of four. The extra crew member gave every impression of being some sort of carved Gothic throne at the very front of the bridge; it towered above the Ahl, even when it was seated. The trio clustered together and discussed the thing sitting ahead of them.

"You'd think it's going to be there every shift?"
"It's there for first shift too."
"Probably doesn't sleep."

The Voehn's legs unfolded out from under it and it pushes itself up to its full height. It turned towards the three blue-suited Ahl, and rumbled in the tone of distant artillery strikes.

"No. I don't, and I have excellent hearing."

The Ahl fell silent immediately and as one dropped their collective gaze to their work stations. The Voehn turned back towards the front of the bridge and folded its legs back under itself. Aside from the occasional mumbled report of a sensor glitch, the second shift remained silent for the next hour.


Helios - Delinquent Class Cruiser

The Needleship spiralled down towards Ynaspher before beginning its acceleration-run. The Stray limped along behind, quickly being overtaken.

Captain Sehl pulled the shock-chair tight around her carapace. She glanced towards the Mind to affirm what she already knew: It had not moved an inch. The ship was pushing five Gs with the inertial dampeners disabled, and the damned thing was just sitting in mid-air.

"Is there a problem, Captain?"

Sehl finished tightening the chair and gripped the support handles.

"You're looking quite stable."

Sehl watched through the corner of her vision as the G-counter began to tick upwards.

"It's rather..."
Eight times standard gravity.
"...Simple for me to..."
Ten.
"...Maintain this position..."
Fourteen.
"...Regardless of any..."
Twenty.
"...Gravitational stress..."
Twenty six.
"...Captain."
Thirty Gees.

Sehl grunted an acknowledgement, feeling her internal organs attempting to pulp themselves against the wall of her exoskeleton. The ship peaked at thirty gees for a few moments, before the pressure began to slide off Sehr. The Mind remained in its stationary position, seeming to glow a soft red.

The cruiser bore down towards Ynaspher like a dark and silent comet. Axial coilguns uncurled from its carapace and dragged every available joule from the ship's capacitors. Around Sehl, every console and secondary computer system shut down to provide more power for the weaponry. The Mind allowed the ship to retain only the systems it needed to control the engines and coilguns. With the inertial dampeners disabled to save power, Sehl felt, for the first time, the recoil of all six of the ship's coilguns firing in unison. Six balls of nano-engineered carbon were shunted out of the ship at near light-speed. As the ship unburdened itself, it began to corkscrew through the darkness, unable to turn conventionally at any effective angle due to the sheer inertia it bore. Sehl watched with increasing panic as the ship's proximity alarm began to flash. The ship was approaching the asteroid at an incredible rate, and its computer was calculating that it would collide.

Almost as an afterthought, the six projectiles impacted the surface of the asteroid and atomised a large area of its surface almost instantly. The resulting crater was over a kilometer in diameter and several hundred meters deep. Large sections of the asteroid were blown out into space, to begin their own journey. Barely a second later, the Helios passed within fifty kilometres of the asteroid before sailing into the distance. The crew of the Stray watched as it began its deceleration run.

As the ship's gravity counter clicked back into tolerable limits and the inertial dampeners came online, Sehl pushed the chair open and practically jumped out of it. She stumbled on four legs for a few moments before settling back down into the open chair. The Mind turned towards her - the first time it had moved since boarding the ship - and spoke.

"Your first mining operation, Captain."

"That was not a regulation mining procedure, wirebrain." She choked back in reply.

"Correct, but it was faster. Were you concerned about collision?"

"Considering the collision alarm, yes."

"Oh. That. Yes, the ship's sensors are slightly out of focus, an error with your maintenance teams. I was going to mention it to you, but it slipped my mind."

Fuck you too. Metal piece of shit. Sehl thought to herself. The Mind turned back to its original position and began to glow a brighter shade of red.



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


Monument - VASF scanner outpost

The second shift of the Ahl gateship Gatecrasher were on leave. This was a rare situation, as they had been granted leave first instead of having to wait for first shift. At first, the trio was cautiously optimistic. As they entered the drone carrier which would take them to Monument, there was a tentative air of exhilaration. As the carrier door opened to reveal Monomuent base, that atmosphere (along with the rest of the atmosphere in the vessel) dissipated swiftly. Monument base was clearly still under construction. Swarms of drones flitted about, carrying modular components, and the occasional Ahl workman strutted about taking measurements.

The trio stared glumly at the construction site, before stepping out onto the asteroid's surface. They walked past a notice set up at the landing site.

Beware of frozen liquds - They will explode on contact. Stick to rock!

"How long are we here for?"

The leading member of the second shift, genderless and toneless in their atmosphere suit replied.

"Twelve hours."

The group stood in place, watching as the drones finished the last section of the site's first scanner dish. The dish immediately began twisting around like a man trying to work a kink out of his neck.

"Let's just go back up to the ship."

With grumbling assent, the group turned and began to make its way back to the carrier. As if on cue, the spiderish craft lifted off the asteroid surface and began making its way back to the gateship.

"Fuckers."


Helios - Voehn Cruiser

Sehl sat back in her open shock-chair, tapping her fingers against its side.

"So? Is it working?"

The Mind was still in its favourite spot. In almost a week it hadn't moved an inch.

"Yes, we're picking up something now."

Sehl pulled herself up and out of the chair, moving to the Mind's flank.

"I thought this place was meant to be empty."

"Another case of the galaxy failing to do what it is meant to. We have a distinct contact, grid flare."

One of the viewscreens ahead of Sehl flickered and began to show what looked like a net stretched over a mountainous area. One of the peaks pushing through the net was moving.

"A ship."

"Or a fleet."

Sehl stepped back into the shock chair and closed it around herself.

"Right then, let's get moving."

"I thought we were here for the sensor array, Captain." The Mind's tone had just enough of an amused twist for Sehl to find it annoying.

"Stray can keep watch. Let's take the gateship and go investigate."

The Mind flashed green with assent, and broadcast a signal to the Gatecrasher, which hastily withdrew all drones and carriers.

The two ships turned in unison, and then began to accelerate. Within a minute, the pair of ships seemed to slip away into reality itself, as if the universe had opened a slit in the fabric of spacetime for them to pass through, and then closed it seamlessly behind them.



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


Monument - VASF scanner outpost

The second shift of the Gatecrasher had settled in to Monument quietly and almost unnoticed. Every morning they sat in the canteen, drank hot drinks and watched the Monument staff go to work. In the afternoons they sat in the canteen and drank cold drinks as the Monument staff came back weary and frustrated from work, then they watched them go back at the end of their break. In the evening they drank hot drinks again and watched the Monument staff trudge back into the canteen for a final meal before sleep.

It was the best week of their collective careers, and it all came to an end when five ships sliced into realspace near Ynaspher. Monument knew they were coming, and the only spectacle was arrival of the crews of the Fate Line and Fire Hazard, both newly baptised in combat. For a while, the second shift relocated from their favourite vantage point at the center of the cantina back to the more familiar dark corner. The Voehn combat veterans had unwittingly stolen their table (Along with most of the tables in the canteen) to sit at, brooding and stonelike. The second shift watched them for a few days and wondered why they even came to the cantina. They rarely said anything, they simply arrived, sat with each other, then left a while later.

Regardless, they didn't have to put up with the confusion for long. Re-assignment slips came from the Gateship Tunnelworm after four days. They left in the same series of spiderish carrier they had arrived in, albeit in a different colour scheme.


Tunelworm - Voehn Gateship - Bridge

The second shift arrived on the bridge in freshly pressed dark blue uniforms, their caps straight and level. Ahead of them stood a man who they knew from their assignment slips to be Captain Garber'Al-Sangh. Garber was his only real name, the rest was ceremonial and indicative of a combat record. An Ahl officer with a combat distinction on a pseudo-military gateship was mystery enough, but there was more. The only real combat (Pre hub-incident) the Ahl had been engaged in had been wetwork, special forces operation. The trio had therefore come to the conclusion that Lieutenant Garber was either ex-special forces and had done something bad enough to get re-assigned to a gateship, or that he was on the Tunnelworm on special assignment. This was the reason the second shift had made special efforts to tidy up their dress blues.

"I am Captain Garber, welcome to the Tunnelworm, the figure said without turning to face them. "We are first here to construct the second side of the gate Sehl forgot to construct when she left Monument on her... Contact expedition. I'm afraid that none of the crew have the knowledge required to operate the constructor drones. It was something of a relief to see that you three had been left behind. So, a class four, if you would."

A gateship crew which couldn't construct gates? A mutual feeling of dread began to descend upon the second shift. They took their places at the bridge and began the startup sequences for the constructor drones. They had often been required to do this, as the skeleton crew of the Gatecrasher's artificial night, having only each other to complete a job designed for ten was commonplace. Unlike the yellow suited first shift they had resented so much, they were never distracted by thoughts of post-shift revelry. Working was the only peace they ever got.

Captain Garber watched them work with his hands clasped behind his back.


Monument Nearspace

As the Tunnelworm began work on the class four linking Monument to Massala Tau, the heavy fleet waiting in the nearspace of Ynaspher received an information packet from the Monument sensor array. 'Signifier of heavy energy discharge' was the summary provided. In VASF terms this was synonymous with either heavy duty space warfare or planet-slagging. Either merited attention.

The fleet began jump preparations and moved into position. Manticore, Rogue and St. Aveon set off first, moving for the incident location. The newly proclaimed veterans Fate Line and Fire Hazard followed on, heading for an adjacent location.


Monument - VASF scanner outpost

The staff at Monument far preferred the canteen without the smug second shift trio and the brooding Voehn. That lasted a day until the crew of the cruiser Sirius comandeered the central area for their daily games of 'who can bend the most cutlery against their face plating?' In which the victor was usually decided by who could find the most cutlery.


Last edited by Haze on Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:04 am; edited 2 times in total
Haze
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Re: [03M] Monument Sensor Array

Post by Haze on Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:23 pm

Monument - VASF scanner outpost

The Tunnelworm disappeared shortly after finishing its gate. It did not return with the reform.

The ships came and went in shifts. The quiet veterans of the 5/K incident returned first. Captain Sehl and her diplomatic team were next. They returned as Tactical Group 1. Six ships like colossal skyscrapers which had learned to fly. They came to rest around the growing Monument station, looking very much like splinters which had been shaved from the asteroid Ynaspher.

They all came and went until the old needleships were no more. The new series were all about the same size as the old Murderers. They still kept their names, Murderers, Psychopaths and Delinquents, but the resemblance was minor. Even the new Abominator had been slimmed and re-fitted.

Eventually Monument became home to tactical groups two and three, while the main fleet remained at Kahn.

The cafeteria was busier than ever.

Haze
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Re: [03M] Monument Sensor Array

Post by Haze on Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:35 am

Yngred 47 - Asteroid Cluster

The Tunnelworm sat amidst the asteroids. Still. Silent. It was, for all intents and purposes, dead.

The second shift of the gateship Gatecrasher (On temporary placement) sat huddled inside the guts of the Tunnelworm. Specifically, they were in one of the construction drone bays. Conveniently, the construction drone which usually inhabited the bay was scheduled for repairs. Nevertheless, it was a fairly tight fit between the three of them. The Ahl furthest from the door (and most firmly pressed against the wall) whispered to the Ahl closest to the door that he should go and check the surroundings.

The Ahl closest to the door, whose nametag said 'Gron', did not want to go out and check the surroundings. He knew what was looking for them outside, and he was very much against the prospect of meeting it. However, the ship's environmental controls had been shut down, so he was becoming very cold indeed. In addition to this, the Ahl behind him, whose namtag said 'Yul', had inadvertently jammed a leg joint into his back. The decreasing temperature and uncomfortable position overwhelmed the Ahl's desire to stay away from his attackers, and he clambered out of the bay.

He shut the door behind him and took a long hard look at the impossibly dark drone bay. There was a very faint ambient light present, but it was hard to tell exactly where it was coming from. He began to shift his weight from one leg to the other, but found that it helped very little with his numb fingers and toes. After half a minute's worth of inner debate, he set off down the corridor, leaving the drone bay - and his companions - behind.

The Tunnelworm wasn't much to look at from the inside, especially when all the lights were off. The Ahl didn't see or hear any movement during his walk to the ship's bridge, so he decided that his group and he were probably the last survivors. The thought didn't fill him with any real pride, it really only served to make him wish the whole thing could be over and done with - preferably sometime soon.

The bridge was equally silent and equally boring with the instruments inactive. He stared at the empty ship commander's chair, and thought about sitting in it. He decided not to.

Rather suddenly there was a loud echoing clang behind the Ahl whose nametag said 'Gron'. He turned and stared into the grainy darkness of the ship. This, he considered, would be a good time to return to his hiding place. Walking around the ship had only served to make him feel colder and less comfortable. He began down the corridor back towards the drone bay at a quick pace.

The bay was empty. The Ahl's comrades had disappeared without a trace. Taken probably. He let out a long shaky sigh and turned to rest against the cold hard wall. There was another clanging sound, and then another. It took the Ahl a second or two to realise that they were footsteps. He crawled behind a disabled drone, staring towards the drone bay entrance. The footsteps continued, growing louder. He tried to slow his breathing without success, it seemed to him that the rasp of his breath was the loudest noise in the room.

The footsteps grew closer.

Then stopped.

The entrance to the hangar bay was empty. There was no-one there. The Ahl blinked a few times, only now realising how fast his heart was beating. He let out a long sigh and said in a hushed voice.

"Well that was clo-"

The drone he was hiding behind flew across the room, casting sparks as it scraped against the floor. The brief spark-flashes illuminated a dark and terrible creature standing less than a meter from him. As darkness returned, it dropped down towards him. One of its arms hit the floor next to his head with a terrifying clang, and by the time he had recognised that the shit had hit the fan, its other arm was pinning his neck to the floor.

"Got you."

The titanic creature spoke in the same sporting tone one might use when succeeding in spearing an evasive pea with one's fork. Its mouth parts opened, shivering with atavistic glee as a partially sub-sonic growl seemed to shake the Ahl's lungs.

The lights came on.

"Very intimidating Relv. Maybe next time it won't take you two hours. Come on, let the poor guy up. He looks terrified."

The monster released him and stood. The Ahl blinked a few times, staring at the now brightly lit drone bay. He saw Garber standing a few meters away with his arms crossed. The two other members of the second shift stood a few meters to his side, hugging themselves and shivering. Directly to his left were two more monstrous figures. He recognised the one who had spoken as Akkren; One of his mouth-parts was a cauterised stump. Clearly the one standing over him was Relv, by process of elimination, the one at Akkren's side was Kavrok.

As he pushed himself up, he saw Garber making his way over.

"Interesting result, isn't it?"

The usually intimidating Ahl Captain came to just under shoulder height for Akkren. The Voehn made a grunting sound.

"I expected your men to do better Garber. I guessed that these three would be the most effective however. They know the ship."

Garber took the criticism without flinching. He turned to face the just-about-upright Ahl.

"You look a little flustered Yu- Oh, is it Gron?"

Yul looked down to his uniform's nametag. It said Gron.

"Ah. It's happened before. Gron's probably got mine."

Akkren made another gurgling sound and turned to Relv.

"He has trouble getting dressed in the morning but he can still outsmart you Relv. Maybe I should just give you a big gun and let Kavrok do the tracking."

Yul stared up at Relv anxiously. He was fairly sure Akkren was speaking in jest, but he found Voehn accents very difficult to understand, and he really did not want to be stuck between the two of them if they came to blows. As if reading Yul's mind, Garber pulled him away by the arm. The Captain led him back to the other two members of his shift. Behind him, Yul heard more Voehn growling, which he was fairly sure was laughter.

"After we announced this training exercise, someone scheduled one of these construction drones for repair. You just outlasted my men - trained men - by hiding in the bay which that drone would have been occupying if it weren't in the repair bay. Would someone like to explain that... happy coincidence to me?"

Hiir was the only woman in the second shift. Much to the relief of Yul and Gron, she was also clearly the bravest.

"Not a coincidence sir. I put it in for repairs so we could use its bay. I just didn't want us to be the first ones found."

Garber gave Hiir a long hard stare before replying.

"Very clever. If I were you I wouldn't tell my people how you did it. I'd rather they had motivation to improve than motivation to accuse you of cheating."

Yul glanced to Hiir before speaking.

But we did cheat sir."

Garber grinned, and turned to walk away.

"I don't remember outlawing initiative Yul. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to discuss something with Akkren."

The Captain made his way to the drone bay entrance, then called for Akkren. The Voehn turned from his team and scuttled over to Garber, following him out of the bay. Relv and Kavrok waved towards the second shift cheerily. They waved back cautiously, talking amongst themselves.


"It beats second shift on the gatecrasher."

"It does, but I'm cold as hell."

"I claim first hot shower."

"Second."

"Fuckers."

Haze
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