2 Days Later
– Windia, Skydiath 23, 8034 –
“Oh, Chief Captain.” Bourne quickly stood up from the commander’s chair and faced Krick to give him a salute. He casually saluted back, gesturing for Bourne to resume sitting as he glanced up at the bridge displays. “…You’re an hour early,” the XO remarked after several seconds of silence.
“That last shield shock woke me up,” Krick answered flatly as he absentmindedly scratched his chin. “Couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to come up here and check on things.”
“Things have calmed down since the opening of the battle,” Bourne commented as she turned her attention back to the bridge displays. “Nothing new has happened since I last relieved you.”
“So we’re still in a stalemate then, huh…”
“If that’s what you call losing ships at a slightly slower rate than in any other encounter with the Nanocreature fleets to date, then yes, I suppose we are.”
“No, it’s more than that,” Krick countered. “Either the CSA has finally pulled its shit together, or the Nanocreatures are going easy on us, because neither Oriciid’kas nor Siionkagh have taken any major hits. Their shielding is still near maximum. Hell, our shielding is still near maximum, and we’ve been directly engaged with the Nanocreatures for two days, now.”
“I actually wanted to ask you about that, sir.” Bourne eyed Krick warily. “You said that the Genesis outclasses any other ship its size, and based on the reports I read from the encounters at Tyrnaus and Maasen against the Riaxen and the Drakkars, this ship should have firepower and durability on par with a Siion Battleship or so, but… against the Nanocreatures…”
“I know…” Krick furrowed his brow as he stared at the ship status readouts in confusion. “…We’re doing as much damage to the Nanocreatures as any of the Dreadnoughts.”
“Not to mention our shielding is holding up better than many of the Capital ships, as well,” Bourne added. “Even the fighters are substantially outclassing their CSA counterparts. Sir, this is… it’s almost scary.”
“You’re not wrong,” Krick replied as he rubbed his chin in thought, “and I’m just as confused as you are. The reactors are outputting slightly more power than usual, as well… looks like there’s more to this ship than we thought.”
“That’s quite the understatement.”
“Well we can’t complain. I’ll take every edge against the Nanocreatures we can get; we can scrutinize the ship further once we’re out of battle and safe back at Earth. What about the rest of the allied fleet? How are we holding up?”
“…Nearly three thousand ships have been destroyed already, but most of those are Sub-Caps. Namely Cruisers and smaller… we lost a Carrier and a couple Dreadnoughts in the past six hours, though. The Nanocreatures tried to take them over, so we had to destroy the wrecks. We lost the L1 and L3 Siionkagh-moon space stations, as well… the Nanocreatures gained access and began assimilating the entire structure, so we had to obliterate them ourselves.”
“Were the stations evacuated?”
“…The ships the Nanocreatures have taken over from previous battles are also outperforming their original specs, according to the CSA,” Bourne added. “…They’ve tried hailing the corrupted ships, but there’s never a response.”
“Hmm… out of all the casualties we’ve suffered so far, how many have been from weapons fire, and how many have been from direct assimilation attempts?”
“It’s one and the same, really… the Nanocreatures use weapons fire to take down shielding, and then they deal the final blow by ramming the ship and trying to take it over.”
“For the first four hours, ramming seemed to be the only thing they did,” Krick mused. “They didn’t adopt any formations until eleven hours in, and they only started really focusing on the Siionkagh and Oriciid’kas defense fleets right before your current shift. …Have they employed any real use of strategy since you took control?”
“No, sir…” Bourne frowned. “But they don’t need to. Their armor strength and repairing capabilities outstrip the amount of damage most Sub-Caps can do, if their weapons tracking was even fast enough to hit them. That’s another thing, we’re one of the few ships capable of reliably hitting the Nanocreatures in the first place. Only the Capital ships can achieve the same hit rates, and that’s only because their weapons are so massive.”
“You’re telling me things I already know…”
“We aren’t making any progress against them. If this keeps up, we’ll break in a week, maybe two, and then the Nanocreatures will be free to hit the planets themselves.”
“…Maybe that’s why they haven’t bothered to target the planets yet; they’re trying to destroy any possibility of reinforcements. And there isn’t anything we can do to stop them, not if we keep going on like this.” Krick scratched his chin again, furrowing his brow as he glanced between the bridge displays. “…If something doesn’t change soon, we’ll lose the system.”
“This doesn’t make any sense at all.”
“Well I ain’t complainin’,” Davídrius remarked, speaking around the mouthful of food he was currently chewing. “If the Nanocreatures—”
“Davídrius,” Kaoné cut in as she gave the Velocitechnic a disapproving glare. “Don’t eat with your mouth full like that, it’s disgusting.”
“I didn’t know you were my mom,” he quipped, pointedly ignoring Kaoné’s remark. A moment later he swallowed and turned back to Kevérin as he continued eating. “I don’t know why you’re concerned, though. The Nanocreatures ain’t attackin’ the shields, cool, it means we’ll last longer.”
“It’s not that simple,” Kevérin countered, restlessly glancing around the small cafeteria before continuing, “there has to be a reason for this. They’ve been in the system for two days, and planets are big targets, so it’s not like they’re missing. They have to be pointedly ignoring Oriciid’kas and Siionkagh. But why would they do that?”
“Maybe they’re just focusing on the fleets,” Kaoné suggested.
“Yeah, fere waf a lof of fem!” Davídrius added, the food in his mouth distorting his words. He glanced back at Kevérin and Kaoné in confusion when they paused to stare at him. “…Whaf?”
“Do you always talk while you eat?” Kevérin deadpanned.
The Velocitechnic swallowed before retorting, “only when people feel the need to interrupt my peace and quiet while I eat.”
“Aw, but you looked so lonely,” Kaoné remarked.
Davídrius scowled. “Well I wasn’t.”
“And here I thought you might be concerned about current events,” Kevérin drawled.
“Get back to me when somethin’ new happens. In the meantime, I’ll save my very limited concern for other things.”
“Wait…” The Pyrotechnic frowned. “…Have you been paying attention at all to the bulletins?”
“To the what?”
“…Do you have your AR info feed enabled?”
“Keh, no. Why would I? Last thing I want is a text box in the corner of my vision at every damn minute of the day.”
“Then you haven’t heard that Dramantis, Gonaan, and Siionleh have all fallen, have you?”
Davídrius faltered, pausing just before taking another bite out of his meal. “…Say again?”
“You heard me.” Kevérin leaned back and crossed his arms. “Dramantis fell three days ago, and the CSA declared Siionleh and Gonaan lost yesterday. That’s six worlds the CSA has lost. Six Transpace Worlds, of fourteen.”
“Ya know, what does that mean?” Davídrius questioned, “when you say a planet’s fallen, what’s that mean? Planets can’t fall, can they?”
“It means it was lost. The Nanocreatures took it over,” Kevérin replied. “Basically, the CSA believes the worlds are lost past a recoverable point, and that enough system infrastructure has been destroyed or taken over that there’s not enough left to defend.”
“Have the Nanocreatures destroyed any of the actual Transpaces?”
“Oddly enough, no, but any lone ship that tries to jump into a lost system is almost immediately destroyed.”
“Great,” Davídrius deadpanned. “What’s that mean for us?”
“It means the CSA is about to crumble,” Kevérin replied tensely. “…They lost Siionleh. Do you understand the significance of that? The Nanocreatures somehow forced the Siions to abandon their Homeworld. And Citici and Y’kisdral both are only one jump away from Nanocreature-controlled systems, so you can bet that they’ll fall under attack soon, too. But those don’t even matter, because the Siions are practically crushed. Half of their Transpace Worlds are in Nanocreature hands now, and the two that aren’t are cut off from the rest of the CSA. And this is the Siions, the backbone of the CSA military! If they end up losing Oriciid’kas, then that’s just even worse, as the Siions will be completely cut off from the rest of the CSA, which will make it far more difficult for the Citans and Dra’kis to defend their own space. If things keep up as they have been, the CSA will fall apart by the end of the month, and you can guess who’ll be the next targets.”
“The Nimalian Territories…” Kaoné muttered.
“And they’ll take us out much faster than they took out the CSA.” Kevérin sighed in resignation. “…This might actually be the end.”
“Whoa whoa whoa, hold on there,” Davídrius cut in, “it’s a little early to be declarin’ defeat, ain’t it?”
“Do you see a way out of this?”
“Well, beatin’ Morcii, for one.”
Kevérin scowled. “Don’t put too much stock into that plan. At this rate, he doesn’t even have to show up and the Nanocreatures will still win.”
“The planetary shields are still holdin’ up, aren’t they?” Davídrius pointed out, “maybe he’ll show up to speed up the process. We can fight him then.”
“If he shows up,” Kevérin countered, “and then there’s the whole issue of fighting him. There’s no way we can win as we are, even if one of us used the First Tier Chaos State; we’ve already gone over that.”
“Says you,” Davídrius snorted and then took another bite of his lunch. “We know what Morcii can do now, so we can put up more of a fight.”
“I doubt—” the Pyrotechnic started and then froze mid-sentence.
“Uh oh…” Kaoné muttered.
“So you saw it, too?” Kevérin sighed warily. “Great. Just great.”
“What? What is it?” Davídrius glanced between the two uneasily.
“An announcement on the info feed,” Kevérin responded irately, “you know how the Gate was being used to evac civilians out of the system?”
“The moment the Gate shut down — you know, to refresh the connection after the two hour mark — the Nanocreatures dialed in. The Gate’s block was activated before many of the bugs could make it through and the bugs themselves have been contained, but…” Kevérin scowled. “…The Gate’s unusable now; the Nanocreatures are sitting on the connection, preventing us from dialing anywhere else. We’re stuck.”
2 Hours Later
“I think this might be it, guys…”
“Huh?” Wilkas glanced toward Kievkenalis. “What’re you talking about?”
“You heard about the Gate getting blocked on Oriciid’kas, right?” the Chaostechnic replied as he stared up at the massive inner tower that housed the Siionkagh primary shield generator. “That might be a sign that the Nanocreatures are getting serious.”
“Implying they aren’t serious already?” Vélunis deadpanned.
“They aren’t even attacking the planetary shielding, that has to be on purpose.”
“Yeah, that is pretty weird,” Wilkas mused. “Planets are big targets. They must be either really bad at aiming, or so good at aiming at other ships that they never miss.”
“Or they’re just far enough away that we aren’t actually that big a target,” Vélunis countered. “Didn’t the fleets engage the Nanocreatures in high orbit? It’s not like misses will have a high chance of hitting us at that distance.”
“…Still…” Kievkenalis frowned. “I have a bad feeling about this…” He continued staring at the shield tower through the large windows of the outer tower that hosted all of the base’s personnel facilities. “…I think I’m going to go check on the Ayas—”
His sentence was cut off as the entire building shuddered violently, throwing the three Chaotics to the ground. The lights flickered and came back on just in time for some unknown force to impact the inner tower from directly above, completely demolishing it and creating a massive shockwave that blew out the windows of the outer tower the Chaotics were sitting in.
“What the hell?!” Wilkas exclaimed, staring at the wrecked tower in awe as freezing arctic air began rushing in through the broken windows. “What was that?!”
“That was the generator getting obliterated!” Kievkenalis immediately jumped to his feet and rushed over to the windows. “The Ayas is there! We need to retrieve it!”
“Kevken—!” Vélunis started, but the Chaostechnic ignored him and vaulted through the window, dropping several meters to the ground below before running toward the tower wreckage. Vélunis and Wilkas quickly followed, landing on the ground from above and smashing their way through the wreckage before stopping in their tracks just behind Kievkenalis.
“What’d you stop for—?” Wilkas started, but froze after realizing what the Chaostechnic was staring at — or rather, who he was staring at.
“HMPH, SO WE MEET AGAIN.”
“…Morcii…” Kievkenalis muttered.
“Oh, so this guy’s Morcii?” Vélunis looked up at the Nanocreature leader. He was standing on a pile of collapsed metal supports, glaring down at the Chaotics as his maroon longcoat and blue robing flapped violently in the arctic winds. “…Doesn’t look as threatening as I had imagined.”
“YOU THINK I DON’T LOOK THREATENING?” Morcii raised an incredulous eyebrow. “I JUST DESTROYED THIS PLANET’S SHIELDING IN ONE BLOW. NEED I DESTROY THE PLANET ITSELF TO SATISFY YOU?”
Vélunis responded with silence, unable to form a reply to the Nanocreature’s dangerously cold tone.
“ANYWAYS…” Morcii smirked as he extended his left arm behind himself and then retracted it, revealing the Light Green Ayas now in his hand. “I HAVE WHAT I CAME HERE FOR—”
“Chaos State: First Tier!”
A sudden flash of bright white light filled the area before slowly fading away as the Ayas disappeared from Morcii’s hand and into Kievkenalis’s body. The Nanocreature leader stared at the Chaostechnic, dumbfounded, and then broke into a menacing grin. “I SEE YOU’VE LEARNED FROM OUR PAST ENCOUNTER!”
“Kevken…!” Wilkas muttered warningly, “what are you doing…?!”
“We have to hold him here,” Kievkenalis insisted, his voice taking on the subtle echo indicative of the Chaos State. “…Not just that, we also have to wait for the Genesis to return to beaming range before it can pick us up.”
“So, basically, we have to stall,” Vélunis deadpanned, and then sighed warily. “…Figures you’d get us into a fight.”
“It’s been a while since we’ve been in a real fight,” Wilkas remarked with a begrudging smirk. “Let’s hope we haven’t lost our edge. Overdrive: Infinite Lift!”
“Damn it…” Vélunis scowled. “…Tch. Whatever. Overdrive: Limitless Weaponswright!”
“…SO YOU REALLY DO INTEND TO FIGHT ME?” Morcii’s grin widened further. “AND HERE I THOUGHT YOU WERE SIMPLY TRYING TO FOOL ME WITH FALSE BRAVADO. INSTEAD, YOU’RE PLAYING THE PART OF ACTUAL FOOLS! IT WOULD SEEM THAT YOU STILL HAVE MUCH TO LEARN!”
“Chaos Assist,” Kievkenalis muttered. “…Alright guys, I’ve already activated my distress signal. Hopefully the Earthians can get here soon. But until then—!”
“We got you!” Wilkas exclaimed — and then lunged forward. “Let’s go!!”