Contents/Warnings: Very slight blodshed
Disclaimer: The Master of Orion universe belongs to Infogrames - I'm just doing some 'worshipping' (or abuse ) of said universe.
Scribbler: kebzero, January 2002
Stowed away at: the MoO3
and my own notepad.
( Note: Story set during the 'three wars at dawn' - after the assault on Orion, prior to the battle of ConJenn. )
In a galaxy shaped by violent forces - both natural and unnatural - the ones who suffer are almost always innocent. There is little I can do to change that - or the results that it brings. All I can do, is seek vengeance wherever I can, in whatever way I can....
The captain, a most fierce-looking brute, was prowling impatiently across the bridge of his ship. Even though the 'Crimson Claw' was nothing but a small frigate-class vessel, barely armed, the captain would tear apart anyone who would point that out - both verbally and literally - through not necessarily in that order....
"Captain, we're detecting a ship on long-range sensors. It's small, looks like a Gnolam freighter." The captain halted, then fixed his one good eye on the monitors to verify what his crewman had just reported.
Good. It's them. They're on time, at least.... "Hail them. Tell them we have what they requested - if they have what they promised..."
The Gnolam freighter was much larger than the 'Crimson Claw', something that was made obvious as the two ships docked with each other, but its hull and structural integrity were nowhere near as strong, and it possessed no weapons to speak of. Then again, neither did the 'Crimson Claw'.
The airlock hissed as the protective door slid open. Three blue midgets, all wearing thermal suits and breathing gear, stepped out.
It is strange. We are quite similar in general appearance, but our temperature, gravity and atmosphere preferences still differ ever so slightly.
The Gnolam were able to breathe the air aboard the 'Crimson Claw', but the greedy little buggers were usually cautious of nature - this group was flat-out paranoid. Most likely, they had some suspicions they'd be taxed for the air they used aboard the ship upon departure.
They most certainly would have taxed us in such a manner, had we boarded their vessel....
The captain's ears turned backwards for a few seconds, in disgust of the notion. The sudden motion tightened the hold of the red bandana circling his head, covering his right eye, but it did not make him wince. He disliked these thieving merchants, but sometimes, they were the only way to get a hold of things without alarming any intelligence organizations.
"Captain Mukirr, it's a pleasure to see you again." Mukirr frowned.
"Cut the chit-chat, Hermin - do you have the 'item'?"
"Of course I have - It has been placed in orbit around the third moon of Azaki IV, in accordance with our agreement. I have the IFF codes and all such things in this suitcase." Hermin opened the suitcase and handed it over. "Now, for our payment....?"
"If you have cheated me, you know what will happen, right?"
"Of course, captain - About that, there's little room for doubts." With claws outstretched, captain Mukirr motioned his crew to bring in the canister with the payment. The translucent tube glowed with the purple, pulsing twinkling of the crystals inside.
"There you go, Hermin - one canister of Collapsith Crystals, as agreed upon." Hermin's two companions grabbed the canister and walked to the airlock.
"Captain, I must say, I can't possibly imagine what good this trade has done for you - I can't help feeling I'm robbing you blind in this deal...." The captain grinned.
"Previous battles might have damaged my eye, but my mind is still as razor-sharp as it ever was - as are my claws and fangs. Trust me, I'm getting exactly what I've paid for. "
"I hope you do - both for the sake of my conscience and for my life...." Hermin departed.
Hn.... When a Gnolam gets scruples, you know the deal is far too profitable in their favor....
Of course, it did not matter - He would get what he wanted - a ship.
"Approaching Azaki IV, captain - we're detecting the ship - it's holding stationary orbit around the third moon, as expected."
"Good. Send the IFF codes, and let us dock with it immediately."
The 'Fiery Fervor' was, for all intents and purposes, a derelict. The once proud battleship had little of its former glory intact. The hull was battered, structural integrity substantially weakened, engines barely functioning, and most laser and missile banks in a terrible state of disrepair. The Alkari vessel had been scheduled for recycling cycles ago, but Hermin and his group had come across it. It had served them nicely as a base of operations for their more... shady.... affairs; the business deals the officials back at Gnol needed not know about. Now, it would have its final blaze of glory.
....if we can get this heap of junk moving, that is....
Even with every man that could be spared from the 'Crimson Claw', the ship would operate on a skeleton crew just for navigation and propulsion. Fortunately, there was no need for a full crew at present. All they needed to do, was bring the ship to the starbase at Prit II.
Still, that might be difficult enough.
The 'Crimson Claw' approached Prit II slowly. This was Sakkra space, and while the Mrrshan and Sakkra empires were not presently at war, unexpected visitors had a tendency to get shot down - on both sides.
"We are within hailing range, captain."
Good. Shouldn't be long now....
Barely two minutes later, the communications officer reported an incoming transmission.
"Very well, I expected she'd make a call before shooting us down. Patch it through."
The main monitor was filled with the angry face of a yellow and orange individual, eyes big and white, unruly orange hair going in all directions.
"...repeat, approaching vessel, identify yourself or be destroyed!"
"Administrator Rash'Iki - it's been a while..." the captain said, a vicious grin plastered across his face.
"Captain Mukirr....", the voice from the screen stated flatly, all enthusiasm and anger alike, gone.
"Administrator, I'm here to collect old debts. If you recall when..."
"It's Governor Rash'Iki now, Mukirr - and I haven't forgotten - as much as I'd like to..."
"Congratulations on your promotion, Governor. I'm glad to see you having some success without my assistance...."
"Did you come all this way just to insult me, captain, or did you plan to state your demands sometime within the next cycle?"
"Considering the countless and priceless favors I've provided you in the past, I have deemed a ship refit as a just payment."
"They've hardly been countless, captain - there were four - but I can accept your demand for payment. Bring that pretty, little tin-can you call your ship to the starbase, and we'll throw in some new disruptor banks and such."
"Oh, I think you misunderstand, Governor - it is not this ship I want refitted - I have this old battleship hull nearby, and..."
"A battleship hull? How in Creation did you ever get one of those? - Never mind, I probably don't want to know anyway - Still, that's far too high a price, Mukirr - I might have accepted a destroyer refit, but a battleship? Really, how gullible do you think I am?"
"Governor, I am aware of the size of the favor I'm asking. However, I can compensate for the discrepancy in cost - I assure you, it will be worth it...."
"In what way, Mukirr?"
"I happen to have a handful of Collapsith Crystals left from a previous.... exchange.... in my possession - I'm sure someone such as you can appreciate the potential amount of energy a handful of such crystals can provide...." He paused, giving the Governor time to think his offer through.
"Very well, Mukirr - bring in your ships - I'm sure I can muster up the labor and parts somehow."
Even though the refit of the 'Fiery Fervor' had been kept secret from the Sakkra government, the work had to be rushed. It would only be a matter of time before some pencil pushing bureaucrat would notice the unusual drop in Prit II's industrial output. After nearly a cycle, the ship refit was finally approaching an end. The hull was patched and coated with Zortium, the structural integrity reinforced, the laser banks replaced with disruptor cannons, the ship computer and shields upgraded.... the list of improvements went on and on. Governor Rash'Iki had not been able to get a sufficient number of merculite missiles, however, so the missile launchers had been equipped with nuclear missiles instead.
"Mukirr, you still haven't told me what you're going to use this ship for."
"That is correct." A brief silence followed.
"Aren't you going to tell me?"
"No. Governor, there is simply no need for you to know."
"Perhaps - but I have my suspicions - even though this star system is somewhat outside the standard shipping lanes of the sector, I'm still decent at obtaining the bits of information I desire, captain."
"And what suspicions would that be?" Rash'Iki sighed, and directed her eyes downward.
"Mukirr, I heard about Doras V.... I'm so terribly sorry."
"No need, Rash'Iki - I'm through grieving and mourning now." She stared at him, cold, hard eyes aimed directly at him.
"That is exactly what I feared - You're seeking revenge now, aren't you?" She received no answer. "Captain Mukirr, if you seriously think that this battered, old barge can..."
"It doesn't have to take down their entire fleet, Governor - nor even a single enemy vessel. Its final purpose is to kill one enemy, and that one alone, preferably. Unlike those ignominious smooth-skins, I'll do what I can to avoid harming the innocent."
"Captain, even if you were to get through their sensor grids undetected, you would still have to track down his ship, and reach it."
"Do you really think I haven't already thought of that? It's a good thing that any information can be obtained - provided one can cover the costs, that is."
"You mean you've..."
"..hired some Darlok free agents? Yes."
"Yes, I know they can't be trusted, but I have assured their silence now that I have what I asked for; the locations and destinations of all ships in the Human fleet."
"Assured their silence? How could you possibly..." She paused. "You killed them, didn't you?"
"I probably should have - I'm detaining them at the moment."
"Are you certain of that? Darlok spies are notorious escape artists, after all."
"Perhaps - which is why I had them injected with nanobots programmed to kill them, should they leave their quarters without my permission."
"I know. It's a chance I had to take."
"Your funeral, Mukirr - If they got you some intelligence data, you can be certain they offered some information to your target as well...."
"Unlikely. I requested the locations and destinations of every Human ship to make it harder for them to figure out what my precise target was - though I'm sure they could imagine..... However, I find it unlikely that they'd dare approach the leaders of the Human empire - they prefer to work in the shadows, after all. Regardless, it doesn't matter. My true target has known what is coming for quite a while now...." The governor sighed, and decided to change the topic.
"Well, the ship should be ready soon. The only thing lacking, would be the crew....."
"I know. I've recruited various mercenaries from wherever I could - only the best, of course - our mission requires nothing less. They will begin arriving shortly. I told them to wait until the ship was nearly complete. No need to attract unwanted attention by bringing in the top gunners, pilots, fighters and navigators too soon."
"I can't possibly see how you've been able to finance all this, Mukirr - what did you do - get a blank check from your government, or something?" Mukirr grinned.
"I did something, all right. Anyway, that is none of your concern, Rash'Iki. I'm good for it, and both I and my benefactors think it's money well spent - provided we accomplish the task at hand." With that, he turned, and walked away.
Hoss. Rigel Crimsby Hoss. The most detestable admiral in the entire Human fleet. Soon, justice will be done - my vengeance will strike you down, claiming your blood to wash away at least some of the anger of all those who were devastated by your actions, but survived.... Including me.
From the bridge of the 'Fiery Fervor', captain Mukirr could barely control his rage, his desire to break anything fragile that fell in his gaze. His thoughts had once again drifted to his family, and his failure to protect them. His eye was closed, but with his mind's eye, he saw it happen, over and over again - the Human battle fleet, opening fire, raining senseless and indiscriminate destruction on the planet below. Repeatedly, he remembered the feelings of helplessness and despair he had experienced then, his small ship disabled and adrift amidst larger debris, a result of the final defensive stand of the system militia trying to protect that world. Back in the present, his hands clasped around the railing he had supported himself again, claws extending, burrowing into his palms as the grip tightened. Flinging his eye open, and his neck back, he unleashed an immense roar, lasting, and slowly ending in a dying scream.
Vengeance will be mine. Justice shall be done, he chanted inside, as his knees faltered beneath, leaving him collapsed on the deck of the bridge, his hands before his face, tears of grief blending with fiery blood in his cupped paws.
The 'Morning Star' was an impressive ship. Though it was classified as no more than a cruiser, it would probably defeat even the hardiest battleships of the other fleets in the entire Orion sector. Utilizing many of the technologies reverse-engineered from the Guardian, the ruins of Orion and Loknar's vessel the 'Avenger', the 'Morning Star' was but the first in a long line of ships planned built. On this maiden voyage, she would be commanded by an admiral, no less - Admiral Hoss, who stood in one of the porthole windows of the Vox I battlestation, taking in the view of his new ship from afar.
Soon, we might have a fleet potent enough to strike a lethal blow even to the Antaran homeworld. Certainly, there's nothing else out there which could match us now.... Once again, Humans shall rule this sector, this time through brute force rather than prissy diplomacy - while it made a lasting empire, it eventually floundered because of its flaws - including demilitarization. We will not repeat that mistake. The other races shall be strictly confined this time. No threats towards Human supremacy shall remain.
With this in mind, Admiral Hoss walked towards the shuttlecraft that was to bring him to his vessel.
At the outskirts of the Vox star system, the 'Fiery Fervor' and the 'Crimson Claw' had taken up sentry positions awaiting the departure of the 'Morning Star' from the Vox I battlestation.
We can't attack it while it is docked. We could attempt sabotage, but it would not suit me. If I simply wanted him dead, I would have made other arrangements....
As so many times before, captain Mukirr found himself pacing back and forth on the bridge, waiting impatiently for the coming battle.
Perhaps this is a lost cause... No matter, all we - I - have to do, is to avenge our dead - ourselves... Perhaps rejoin those that left us behind... Our survival of the first encounter shall be vindicated by our deaths in the final. All we must do, is bring him with us.... and that we will accomplish, no matter the cost!
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