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The Last Flight Of OSS Talvóra

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The Last Flight Of OSS Talvóra

A background story for incoming tournament in Prague (and maybe a kind of campaign as well)

 

OSS Talvóra was one of the last of its kind; a remnant of earlier times of space exploration, when humanity ascended the stars with pioneer optimism, without fear of sinister aliens. The ship was built on Acontecimento almost ninety years back as a ninth vessel of famous Libertad class starships, the second generation of large autonomous space transports capable of wormhole jump. It had seen a lot in its service time; OSS Talvóra assisted in establishing permanent colonies on Svalarheima, was targeted by Yuan Yuan pirates in Human Edge system while bringing loads of precious metals from Human Edge colonies and even more loads of supplies back, and was involved in several military operations during Neocolonial wars before being put out of service and then sold to O-12.

O-12 put the starship into humanitarian relief operations, where autonomous jump capacities and gigantic freight hold still overcomes the disadvantages of ancient design. It has enjoyed several years of quite peaceful service. Then suddenly Combined Army spearhead emerged from the void, smashed human defenses on Paradiso and changed the future of human race forever.

Facing a new threat, emphasized by total lack of trust between the Human Sphere powers unable to put away their ow grievances in face of the new enemy, O-12 has to mobilize all its reserves – including aging workhorse OSS Talvóra. The ship was refitted last time; defense systems of Nomad origin were integrated into the hull, cargo bays were largely reconstructed for carrying big military dropships, ship was converted to allow rotation assuring artificial gravity and a non-sentient AI was loaded into ships systems to assist the crew with piloting that huge beast.

OSS Salvóra was then put on transport missions, carrying troops from all across the Human Sphere into the new battlefield. To avoid clashes on board – and acknowledging the sad truth that most of Human Sphere intelligence agencies would easily breach any O-12 regulation for a slight chance to damage its rivals – most of the military personnel was kept in cryogenic sleep while on board. O-12 tacticians thought that ships own defenses should manage most of threat itself.

It did. Until May 7th 2187 AD, Earth Time.

-

Four days ago, OSS Talvóra materialized in Paradiso system near jumpgate. After proceeding necessary security checks, the starship was on her way to high Paradiso orbit. All crew was awake and ready to action; after several weeks of rather quiet journey they entered the danger zone. Captain Saul Laserowitz, commanding officer of OSS Talvóra, was quite concerned.   

The ship made a nice target for Combined Army, thought her captain. Aside from reinforcement from both PanOceania and Yu Jing, as well as several thousand tons of supplies, it brought also a small Tohaa delegation from some secret meeting in Concilium. None of Human Sphere great powers would allow alien ship access into the heart of human-colonized worlds, not even those supposed allies of Tohaa, so they had to use OSS Talvóra as well. As far as the captain knew, there were no complaints from Tohaa delegates or their armed escort about their conditions, but captain Laserowitz didn’t kept any illusions of understanding alien minds.

Next few hours would be crucial. After that, they’d leave that damned system and get out for good. Not for good, corrected captain his own thoughts. But for a few weeks is enough.

-

On contrary to captain’s thoughts, all member of Tohaa delegation was awake. Ambassador Arra Tanoos was totally able to hide his true feelings towards their so-called human allies, but that doesn’t mean that he’s going to trust them anyway. According to delicate Human-Tohaa treaties, Tohaa module was considered an extraterritorial zone where no humans shall enter. Arra Tanoos didn’t rely just on the protocol – he knew how much he would abide it being on the side of humans. The module was arranged to become deadly trap for any intruder unfortunate enough to get inside.

His mission on Concilium seemed routine; act as an envoy of Tohaa Trinominal and coordinate common statement concerning last affairs on Flamia Island. His real intentions went much deeper. He was charged with task to get information about human progress with examination of Tzeechi Digester, captured during combined operation several months ago.

Even that was just a cloak for his true task. Ambassador didn’t underestimate humans to that scale that they’ll believe his official story of coordinating common policy in Flamia. But he also hadn’t overestimated those crude creatures as well. With their current state of art, it would take them decades even to figure out what they really possess.

Ambassador mission was to evaluate the true political powers of those so-called “Human Sphere”. Tohaa representatives had almost immediately identified deep cleavages that divided humankind under the façade of “common governing body” of O-12. Unlike Tohaa civilization, humans hadn’t achieved any kind of Unification – and it was highly unlikely that they’d reach it in the future. From his point of view, humans was barely above the level of another “allied” races which Tohaa subjected to Exaltation; but surprisingly they possessed quite impressive, although crude weaponry, and cunning sense of treachery that could challenge Tohaa once – after several hundred years.

Arra Tanoos had to identify the real powers of Human Sphere, and eventually made contacts with them. It was no surprise for him that higher echelons of human so-called hyperpowers silently abhor Tohaa; but there were much more actors in chaotic human politics to cope with. The smaller powers, ranking from fiercely independent Ariadnians to sinister Hassasin Society to cunning Nomads. The greedy corporations who – according to some analysis – were the real masters of Human Spheres. O-12 officials themselves. Various intelligence agencies, criminal groups and rebels with (or without) a cause.

The results of his observations would be a source of great power for Tohaa diplomacy. Tohaa will use and abuse these factions. Raise the underdogs to power, weaken any opposition, support various factions and deepen the divisions between them. It was something that Tohaa mastered through eons of their civilization. In the end, they’ll rule the ignorant Humankind.

If Ambassador Arra Tanoos will bring those knowledge to his superiors.

-

Approximately 70 meters under ambassador feet, agent Squees woke up from his long hours of passivity. Around him was landing bay 8, usually used for landing of inspection crafts. Squees and his two colleges from Shavastii Deep Incursion Corps had silently infiltrated human ship and waited for a perfect opportunity to strike. And now was the time – these pathetic primates wouldn’t even know what is going to happen to them.

Up to his right claw, his colleges woke up as well. They neither need to speak, neither to transmit. They were sabotage team trained several years for missions like that. Silence was crucial, even when facing pathetic security of those half-evolved primates.

 As he predicted, his comrade Iceel had already hacked into ship computer, downloaded the plan and identified weak spots. Few swift gestures among them and all tactics were clear. Iceel would sabotage ships navigation controls, Squees take care about reserve system and the remaining Shasvastii will damage maneuver engine beyond repair. If all goes well, they’ll meet here in less then half an hour, steal one of evacuation crafts and leave for Evolved Intelligence controlled territories in planet. If not, they’ll cause as much damage as possible and then hide technical corridors and wait for Morat assault team, which waited on cloaked Combined Army boarding vessel nearby.

Squees nodded last time on his mates to initialize the operations. Then they silently broke away into the maze of ships corridors, just pale shadows in cosmic night.

-

“Our scanners reported some unusual activity in propulsion chamber, captain”, reported ensign Marats.

“What kind of activity?” asked captain Laserowitz, who woke up from usual routine.

“The reactor is behaving a quite weird. I’m not sure of the reason, captain. Maybe it is just another deviation, which the old engine suffers after last jump. I’ll take a deeper scan.”

“Carry on! And get me Engineering Officer Owen, I need him to send a drone to check it down there. For all personnel, keep extreme caution. We’re in a warzone now.”

-

Squees climbed up for another level through inner technical passage. He had finished his primary mission and now he wanted to achieve his second objective – to sabotage the life support systems on passenger level. He realized the smell of Tohaa pheromones somewhere on this section. It hadn’t surprised him – those Tohaa rodents was known for the entire universe for having an intercourses with various primitive races. But that was just a bonus prize for him – if he manages to disable the life support systems. Every dead Tohaa vermin is one less enemy for Shavastii race.

For a blink of his scaled iris he spotted some movement… but on the second one he realized that all is calm in these corridors. Pathetic apes, he though, they pitiful life will end soon, and they wouldn’t realize anything at all!

-

Mariko Akechi wasn’t a member of secret Ninja clan for nothing. All the assurances, rules and limitations of O-12 officials mean nothing to her. From her own perspective, space was a hostile place full of dangers, lies and deceit, and human only chance for survive was based on ability to fight it on your own terms. According to ships charter, only a few of each contingent member should remain awake, armed only for self-defense, and were restrained in their own modules. But that wasn’t anything for anyone whose existence itself was secret even for most of her commanding officers.

Her task was to protect the vicinity of Yu Jing module at any cost. If anyone – including the crew of the ship – would approach the module without specific permission of Yu Jing commander, he’d meet his ancestors sooner than he ever expected.

Few second ago, she spotted something weird. Just like a shadow moving through the shadows, opening the doors even she had problem to bypass and heading for the air support control console. She followed him in the shadows like a snake… and when she surprisingly realized that it isn’t human, but a saboteur from Combined Army. While the creature started her sinister job on air ventilation console, she was ready. Her mind was in zen-like state – only she and her target existed now.

Suddenly, the creature ceased her sinister task and turned around. She never finished that. In one beautiful move, Mariko Akechi drew out her monofilament katana, sliced the creature in two almost symmetric parts and took a defensive stance.

-

Strange sound, this time behind him! Squees quickly turned around… but before that, something hit him in the back and world descended into darkness.

-

 “Engineering Officer Owens reporting! Something has bypassed the cooling systems near the propulsion. We have a rapid surge of temperature here!”

“Captain here! How is the shielding?!”

“I haven’t a damned clue, the control systems are somewhat… wait! What was that?!”

“Owens, what the hell is happening down there?! Tell me, now!”

“I heard something that sounded like a gunshot, captain! Coming from above, from passengers decks… wait! Jesus, the drone! Its melting...”

-

Akechi stepped closer and took inspection to the creature she shot down. It wasn’t human, definitely. It was something that her superiors - and maybe the command of the starship itself – should be aware of.

But before she could decide, sudden explosion from some of the lower decks tossed her away.

-

Before captain Laserowitz could respond on Owens desperate cry, whole ship started to shatter. Most of the lights on board turned red, and then a cacophony of bridge officers voices erupted.

“We’ve lost the direction… I repeat, we’ve lost it! We’re turning somewhere out! The ship is out of control!”

“The rotation is going wild! We’ll lose the gravity soon…”

“There is a hull breech in engine section P3!”

But the most disturbing for the captain’s ears was a stoic message from security officer Krasin:

 “Captain! We’ve got an unmasked bandit 65 kilometers away! Its unmasked, with activated propulsion… and its heading towards us!”

“Identification!”

“Our sensors estimate it’s a Morat boarding vessel, with 85% probability!”

“Bring it down the sky, for hell’s sake! We don’t have these damned railgun turrets installed for nothing.”

“Negative, sir! With ship out of control, I’m not able to take aim, not even with AI help!”

Captain Laserowitz stood shocked. In several seconds, his mission was compromised beyond all repairs. Yes, he could restore the rotation, repair the propulsion systems or regain control over starship. He would be probably able to vaporize the attacking Morats as well. But he and his crew could never exercise all of those tasks in the same time.

He came to the hardest decision of his life:

“Prepare for evacuation!”

-

Tohaa Ambassador stood silently in his module, trying to evaluate what’s going on there. Small changes in gravity, almost inaudible sounds and strange vibrations were maybe beyond the scope of human senses, but for veteran of countless space journeys and one of the few survivors, who could remember the fall of Agreda systems in was enough. Despise all human assurances; the ship has fallen prey to Evolved Intelligence.

If his assumptions were real, the have several minutes for prepare. After that, murdering Combined Army commandos will flood the ship and kill anyone whose allegiance doesn’t behold to E.I. It was necessary that his information will get to Tohaa leaders; even if all on the board should gave their life for it.

Ambassador started to give proper orders.

 

More to come soon...   

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