The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Todeswind » 2011-12-27 09:34am

I'm trying to get a sense for how many people are actually reading this story. If you read this far could you please just post a "hey I read this far" post, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you! :D

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Argosh » 2011-12-27 10:59am

Todeswind wrote:I'm trying to get a sense for how many people are actually reading this story. If you read this far could you please just post a "hey I read this far" post, I would greatly appreciate it.
Read it, liked it, subscribed. Could not find anything to critique, solid story etc.
Todeswind wrote:Thank you! :D
No, thank you! :wink:
If it's stupid but works, it isn't stupid.

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Haminal10 » 2011-12-27 11:46am

I too am reading the story. Glad to see an new update after the long break!
"If brute force is not solving your problems, you are obviously not using enough"
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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Junghalli » 2011-12-27 03:58pm

I've been following this story for a while now, it's definitely one of my favorite fanfics out there. Good work.

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by KhorneFlakes » 2011-12-27 06:27pm

I've been reading this for a while as well. This is the best Babylon 5/WH40K fanfic I've seen so far.

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Whirlwind21 » 2011-12-27 07:03pm

KhorneFlakes wrote:I've been reading this for a while as well. This is the best Babylon 5/WH40K fanfic I've seen so far.
This I definetly agree with. :)

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Enigma » 2011-12-27 09:31pm

It gets better and better. :)

"Whilst human alchemists refer to the combustion triangle, some of their orcish counterparts see it as more of a hexagon: heat, fuel, air, laughter, screaming, fun." Dawn of the Dragons


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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by General Trelane (Retired) » 2011-12-29 03:12pm

Todeswind wrote:I'm trying to get a sense for how many people are actually reading this story. If you read this far could you please just post a "hey I read this far" post, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you! :D
You live to serve us! Write more!

On a more serious note, yes, I've read this far. You have some interesting plot elements, but your story could be improved by a better economy of words (i.e. it's moving too slowly through the action elements).
Time makes more converts than reason. -- Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Grimnosh » 2012-01-03 07:50am

Enigma wrote:It gets better and better. :)
You know, its remarkably easy to feed an undead army if all you have are just enemies....

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Todeswind » 2012-01-05 09:48pm

Thank you for your input. :D

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by fusion » 2012-01-07 07:59pm

Moar! XD This is definitely enjoyable.

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Todeswind » 2012-01-11 08:36am

I decided that I'm going to make the characters of my story in model form. Here is an early WIP shot.

Daul (very early WIP)


And company.


Does anyone know where I can find 28mm B5 models or am I going to have to custom sculpt some?

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by KhorneFlakes » 2012-01-11 09:16am

I'm not sure. I know there's B5 spaceship miniatures, but it's unlikely you'll find any characters. It seems probable that you'll have to custom sculpt some.

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Whirlwind21 » 2012-01-11 04:41pm

Excellent work you are doing both with the story and your models. Truly a man of many talents.

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Todeswind » 2012-01-15 04:38am

If anyone knows of a reseller of the Harlequin miniatures Babylon 5 25mm character miniatures model range or if you just happen to have some and are willing to part with them I am interested in purchasing any and all you have.

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by RhoOmicronMu » 2012-01-17 03:16am

Todeswind wrote:I'm trying to get a sense for how many people are actually reading this story. If you read this far could you please just post a "hey I read this far" post, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you! :D
I've read it and have recommended it to others.

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Borgholio » 2012-01-17 03:47am

Todeswind wrote:I'm trying to get a sense for how many people are actually reading this story. If you read this far could you please just post a "hey I read this far" post, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you! :D
I demand more!
You will be assimilated...bunghole!

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Todeswind » 2012-03-21 11:50pm

A hundred crewmen and servitors struggled with the elephantine form of a cyclonic torpedo, shoving the titanic atomic projectile into the firing chamber of the forward torpedo tube. The chains lashed to its sides groaned in duress as the cylinder yanked forwards. Heave, grind, heave, and grind, little by little making its way. A larger ship would have used automated systems but the Endless Bounty made due with sweat and recalcitrance.

"Forward you gutless sons of whores," bellowed the foreman. His smoke darkened voice whistled with each breath through a twist of broken nose, only hinting at the man's fondness for using the long black whip lashed to his belt, "Put your backs into it!"

Osma disliked the foreman greatly. Corporal punishment had its uses, even the writings of the Saints and Primarchs spoke of that, but there was a difference between administering just force and simply being a bully. Osma did not like bullies.

It seemed utterly pointless to shout at the gunnery crew. Half of them were deaf to begin with. And the half that wasn't deaf had their ears plugged with wadded cloth or tallow to block the sounds of the heavy machinery.

His lip curled in disgust as the foreman lashed out at a crewman who'd slipped and fallen. The foreman's whip sliced through the air and cracked the man across the back, slashing the back of the man's shirt, "Up you lazy slug! Up and work like a man."

Osma chewed his lip, reminding himself that it was the foreman's right to flog lagging crewmen as he saw fit. It was not his place to question the command of Mr. Andrews without lodging complaints with the chain of command. Complaints that would be ignored, no doubt. Rebuking crewmen was hardly a crime.

Saboteurs were his only concern at the moment. Best to keep his focus Osma reminded himself, "The Amon Sui won't lose theirs over a flogging."

"Sir?" Officer Friedrich asked nervously, rubbing the stubble on his chin in frustration. A Belzafester by birth Friedrich often seemed out of his element on the Endless Bounty and its naval code of justice. He would learn with time.

"Concentration my boy. Don't lose yours," Osma growled over the sound of the team wedging the torpedo into place. The dense airlock door was lowered by a dozen Ogryn manipulating a heavy iron crank. The screeching hiss of pressurized air sucking out of the breach drowned out Freidrich's reply in a wave of noise, drowning out the internal communication systems of the Adeptus Arbities issue armor.

Osma could just barely make out the foreman's lips mouthing the words, "Move you pathetic piles of puss," through the thick vapor of pressurized air and machine lubricants. The translucent brown mist hovered in the weak artificial gravity, leaving ghostlike outlines of smoke where men and servitors wandered through them.

"Blood of Hourus," Swore Friedrich as he tore his helmet from his head to furiously rub at his ears with the palm of his left hand. It would seem that Friedrich hadn't disabled his helmet's autosenses. The already defining sound would have been amplified and focused tenfold, "What was that?"

Osma yanked the dazed Friederich behind the hazard markings on the floor by his combat webbing pulling him to safety as a pillar rocketed down and clamped to the socket Friedrich had been standing on top of only seconds ago. A blue coruscating field of energy danced down the pillar feeding energy into the forward battery.

Osma slapped Fredrich's shoulder's conciliatory, his glove thudding indistinctly on the ceramite plating, "Up boy, we have work to do. If you can't be bothered to remember the safety procedures in my mission briefings you won't survive long on this ship. The Endless Bounty is a treacherous mistress, you disrespect her for a second and she'll leave you crippled killed or worse."

Friedrich yelled something rude in the Belzafester language that Osma took as an agreement, stepping quickly to avoid treading on a crewman's foot. Perhaps the "man" part of crewman was overly generous, the child couldn't have been more than eleven or twelve, but a couple of missing fingers and a limp marked him as a veteran of the guns. Orphans were ten coppers for a dozen on the Endless Bounty, substantially cheaper than the specialized servo skulls that were otherwise necessary for the delicate and dangerous work of a powder monkey.

The foreman's hand flexed excitedly as though to lash the boy for daring to limp rather than scurry. He thought better of it in short order, the foreman knew Osma's respect for the foreman's position would count for nothing the second he loosed his lash on a child. Explaining the summary execution of a foreman to Mr. Andrews would be difficult but not impossible.

Apparently shocked by the foreman's lapse the boy looked at Osma. Eyes too old for their face met Osma's, marked with the determined hardness. Osma smiled at the boy and received an shy grin, rusty from lack of practice in return. The boy hobbled away soon after, unwilling to press the foreman's patience. Throne but the boy reminded him of Ephraim. His thoughts often drifted back to Ephraim.

Ephraim's laugh, his foolish impulsiveness, his fondness for stories of the great saints Ephraim was the picture of childish innocence. The hollow emptiness in the child's eyes was still there, but less so now that he was in the primary school of Mistress Terwani. Incorrigibly cheerful and infectiously competent the schoolmistress had worked miracles in bringing Ephraim out from his shell. The child still flinched whenever Osma made the mistake of talking in more than a whisper but progress was progress.

He only wished his investigations into the Amon Sui had flowed as smoothly. The child's knowledge of his former mentor's dealings was negligible other than a vague knowledge of his chores. The boy had been too young for any real responsibility, adopted in anticipation of future utility. Though he would never admit it to Nor, he was grateful that the Medicus had forced him to take the boy.

He'd never though of himself as a father, nor had he ever particularly had the urge for a family. His profession was too dangerous for him to bring a wife or child into the mix. Family could be captured, ransomed, used against a lawman. Most ships of the Emperor's most great and glorious navy even forbade their lawmen from having families at all.

Osma lived his life for the Emperor's justice. It had been his brother Namir who'd been on the path to a wife and children. Namir was supposed to carry on the family legacy.

Namir who was dead, along with his young wife.

Namir... Throne but the boy's willful spirit was like Namir's. Namir had driven their father to the point of madness with questions and observations, and it seemed as though Ephraim would do the same given time. The child was hard, too hard for a boy of five, but for a song and a story the child was willing to try and move the stars. He caught himself humming an old Amon Sui lullaby and stifled it with a cough.

Not fast enough though, Friedrich snorted and muttered something about "new fathers being worse than moon eyed lovers." The Belzafester was all too comfortable joking in public about matters best left behind closed doors. It was indecent. The man would be discussing light skirted women before the day's end.

"One more word Officer Friedrich and I will have you scrubbing pots with the new recruits," Osma grunted a slightly petulant growl. His indignation only seemed to amuse Friedrich more, that odd Belzafester humor again. How was one supposed to get any work done when every third word was taken as a joke?

Red klaxon's flashed heralding deafening sirens. The guns were firing soon, woe betide anyone who was in the way of the firing mechanisms. Osma frog marched Friedrich forward unceremoniously into one of the hexagonal safe zones marked off with hazard tape, "Come on then funny man, lets laugh in a place that won't kill you for standing in it."

Friedrich only laughed harder in reply. He really was an astoundingly strange man.

The gun batteries growled in ear-splitting staccato, massive pistons and servos shifting the titanic weapons into place. The dozen servitors dedicated to the targeting computer on each gun groaned in an unsettling chorus of tactical data and technical information, filling what little silence remained. Their glassy eyes looked past the sheer wall of the bulkhead and into space, seeing what could not be seen by the naked eye.

"Come on then you grox lipped pinch pocketed rapscallions, the Emperor can't be here personally but we can bloody well be his flaming fist in the meanwhile," The foreman was working himself into a fervor, smacking his chest with the hilt of his whip in eager rhythm. His lips worked counting down from five again and again in eagerness.

The gunners all waited with baited breath, unmoving anticipation simmering in every man jack's belly. Five four three two one, five four three two one, five four three two one. They all mouthed the words over and over again, hoping, waiting, and praying.

And then it came. The klaxons shifted from red to blue, and the floor sparked with coruscating energy off the main energy feed into the gun batteries. Brilliant arks of tessellating lighting danced along the exposed feeds, screaming and spitting as drips of oil and water fell from pipes overhead.

"Fire forward batteries, full salvo." Bellowed the voice of the captain over the loudspeaker, barely audible in the din of cheering voices and screeching metal. The gunners sung a horribly out of tune chant of victory as the final firing pistons locked into place, charged, and then... nothing.

The chanting turned to stunned disbelief as the coruscating power feeds died along with the lights, plunging the room into utter darkness and disabling the gun batteries entirely. Furious voices howled curses as darkness broke from the light of glow sticks and personal illuminators.

"Bastard Amon Sui!" Osma snarled hefting his shotgun in fury and hurrying in the direction of the closest power station, "Come Friedrich, we have work to do."

Several pregnant moments passed in silence before it occurred to Daul that the cyclonic payload that ought to have destroyed the station already had yet to arrive. It was an unfortunate peculiarity that had not been lost on Ambassador Kosh as he took it upon himself to remove the Inquisitor form the mortal coil in an astonishing burst of psychic power.

No two psychic attacks were alike; the way in which a psychic connected with the warp to draw upon its energies was deeply rooted within one's state of mind. The raving and ravenous lashing out of a chaos cultist or rabid mutant broiled with anger and filth, the roiling power of the Eldar seethed with an ancient and primal force, the sanctioned psychics of the Imperium teetered with barely controlled agitation, and even a Space Marine librarian rumbled with the force of his own conviction.

The Vorlon was none of these. The attack that ruptured Daul's left arm at the elbow and sent him tumbling backwards gave no warning, just dispassionate surgical precision. His own runic protections and psychic hood crushed under the unexpected assault, cut out from under him before they could protect him.

Searing pain was distant in his mind as he sailed through the air his eyes stared uncomprehendingly at the bloodied stump of what had once been his left arm sprayed a thick red spray of vital liquid across the deck.

He sat for a few seconds, mildly aware of the sounds of gunfire, mildly aware that he ought to be howling in pain before indulging in his agony. Wailing like a baby while grasping at the thin tendrils of visceral trailing back to his arm in a vain effort to re-attach it, Daul wallowed in pain.

The Inquisitor's mind simply refused to admit that his body had been crippled and maimed, though the rapid loss of blood aided that greatly. Bright flashes of laser fire and plasma bursts seared through the air as Daul fumbled through a satchel at his side, fingers blundering about for a syringe of pain inhibitor.

Pudgy hands grabbed him by the neck and dragged him backwards away from the fighting. The chubby cheeked secretary to the Centauri Ambassador puffed and wheezed with exertion as he moved the substantially larger Inquisitor, "Come on, come on, you need to move Inquisitor. You need to move now!"

Daul kicked his legs across the floor, hindering their progress as much as helping in his incoherence. His stump throbbed with pain from the treatment. The fingers of his remaining hand found the syringe in his bag. Without thinking he tried to remove the cap with his missing left hand, twisting his left side agonizingly into the edge of the crate Vir had chosen to shelter behind. Daul swore furiously in High Gothic and dropped the syringe into his lap.

He bit his lip and sobbed slightly staring at the blood seeping past his fingers as he did his best to compress the wound with his right hand. Hopeless Metzik words of prayer slipped from unwilling lips, "Throne help me!"

"Stop squirming and Vira'capac will fix," crooned the annoyed voice of the alien bending over him. Sinewy fingers yanked Daul's hand away, shoving an uncapped needle into the open wound and injecting a local anesthetic. Blissful lightheadedness kissed its way through Daul's butchered body.

The wide Centauri did his best to compress the wound with a silk scarf, vainly trying to stem the flow of blood, "If we don't get this sealed he's going to bleed out."

"Always problems, problems and more problems," The Kroot reached back into his mess of quills and twisted, freeing one of them from his scalp with a squelching pop. The hollow protrusion of bone dripped a viscous yellow liquid that hissed and spat as it hit the deck, a concentrated venom unique to Vira'capac, "Man things haven't learned that must listen to Vira'capac."

Vira'capac shoved Daul to the floor with his foot, then squatted upon Daul's chest, putting A torturous amount of pressure on Daul's shoulder to stem the flow of blood. A taloned hand pressed the dripping venom of the quill against the wound spreading searing mordant pain as the vitriolic liquid forced coagulation. In Vira'capac's prey it the venom caused immediate blood clots and aneurism but it might well save Daul's life.

Vir tied the blood soaked silk in a tight tourniquet around the injury, shimmering gold fabric clashing with thick red-black stains of blood. The little man's fingers shook nervously as he tied a knot of fabric. The Centauri had more of a spine than Daul would have credited him with, most professional soldiers wouldn't have had the stomach to help him.

A long gouge of psychic blue flames tore across the floor, boiling away steel and flesh with impunity. An unfortunate alliance security officer howled with agony as he was rendered down to a small puddle of smoldering viscera and cracked skeleton, his screams drowned the rapid whistling escape of steam flesh.

"Maker's curse," Vir wretched but, to his credit, managed not to lose the contents of his stomach. Though by the look on the Centauri's face, it was a near miss.

Daul allowed Vira'capac to lift him from the floor, wobbling as he reminded himself not to steady himself on the crate with his missing arm. His head swam from pain and blood loss, but there was no time for injury. The Lionhearts and human psychics fought a losing battle against, laser fire and bolter shot colliding harmlessly with a flaming corona of blue lightning protecting the snarling Vorlon.

Next to a cored out remnant of a combat servitor Cairn's broken form lay prostrate before the Vorlon, crushed legs flailing uselessly as the Skitarii lashed out with his mechandrites against the telekinetic shield as Tuul pulled him backwards. The Vorlon ignored Cairn, approaching Daul with relentless patience. Step by step, a cyclopean monster of death.

"We aren't dead." His mind was a disconnected jumble of thoughts and feelings, divorced from the raging battle and glacial advance of the Vorlon, "Eye of Horus the bastard lost his nerve... we aren't dead!"

But why? There must have been a reason... by the Throne Abbas. How could he have been so blind? He should have realized it the second that he saw Tuul. There was no way that Sáclair was going to destroy the station with Abbas on board. Sáclair's love would be his undoing.

One should never underestimate a parent's love. Daul knew that with piercing clarity.

"No... no I will not allow myself to die in this way. I am Daul bloody Hilder not some cowering wretch! You hear me you xenos son of a whore? You can't kill me!" Daul held up his remaining arm and focused his own pain and rage into one burst of psychic force. A resounding burst of purple lightning flew from his fingers, bisecting the protective telekinetic shell of the Vorlon's shield and colliding with the center mass of the encounter suit.

The irregular jeweled chest of the Vorlon flashed and sparked, the scintillating flows of energy coruscating harmlessly across the encounter suit, seemingly invigorating the Vorlon rather than harming it. It screeched something that might have been a laugh, gliding forwards purposefully.

The bolter round that collided with the unshielded encounter suit was not met with equal impunity. The explosion tossed the Vorlon a meter back and tore a sizable hole in the Vorlon's encounter suit, exposing glowing crystalline flesh beneath. Shimmering rivulets of red ichorous blood dripped from the hovering xenos. The creature smote the war servitor, exploding it's head with beam of sorcerous energies.

"Glorious," Chuckled the dull rasping whisper. a voice that Daul had never heard in his life, though his recognition was immediate. Losiencheoir hovered above him, his chains hanging from splayed limbs like some grotesque marionette. The demon leered amusedly at his captor through twisted face of what had once been Amis, eagerly anticipating his rapidly approaching freedom.

A freedom that Daul could ill afford. A tool that he could not afford to ignore, "Losiencheoir... kill."

"Of course my master." The Demonhost trilled, almost lazily, before tossing itself forwards.
John struggled to move the form of Talia Winters, aided by the surprisingly strong Imperial clergyman Al'Ashir. She groaned and muttered about something being wrong as they dragged her back into the customs lounge and away from the gunfire. It hadn't taken long for John to issue the retreat order. Once the first man turned into a pile of liquid flesh it became readily apparent that a new strategy was necessary. It hadn't taken much to convince station security that discretion was the better part of valor.

He would have order on his station but for now his priority was getting the non-combatant civilians Ambassadors out of harm's way. Let the fools kill each other.

"Is anyone on this station not completely insane today," Garibaldi swore angrily as he fought to drag a furiously kicking Delenn away from the battle. His efforts were rewarded with an odd combination of Minbari martial arts that left him clutching air. The retired Gropo staggered but reached out and grabbed the Ambassador by her hair, yanking hard. The Minbari ambassador, unaccustomed to factoring that into her self defense, yelped in surprise and dropped down on one knee, "Jesus Delenn, get a hold of yourself! We're on your side remember?"

"Mr. Garibaldi if you do not let go of me immediately I will do you great bodily harm," the Minbari ambassador exhaled deeply, struggling to get herself back in control of her emotions, "None of this was supposed to happen. None of it."

Mr. Garibaldi let go of her, his toss slightly more rough than what was strictly necessary, "What good does tossing yourself back into that nightmare do?"

"I have to try and stop them," Delenn stood up and wrung her hands together in a worrying gesture, the soft blue fabric of her robes shed little motes of dust with every shake. She wore an expression on her face that John hadn't ever seen before, a worried innocent hopelessness like a child watching her parents fighting for the first time, "This cannot be allowed to continue."

John rested his hand on her shoulder comfortingly. She stared back at him, her soulful grey eyes pooling with tears. Little rivulets of grief and pain streaked the dust and muck of the day down her cheeks, emphasizing the dimpling of her right cheek in a way that was totally inappropriate to be thinking of at the moment.

"Delenn, this is happening. It is happening to us in the here and now," Delenn turned her head, staring away from the sincerity in his voice, "If you go back into there I can't guarantee your safety and I cannot in good conscience allow you to walk to your death. You will not go back in there. Killing yourself does no good to anyone."

Delenn opened her mouth to protest but shut her teeth with a click and wiped the tears from her eyes with the sleeve of her robe, "You do not understand Captain. You cannot hope to understand." She did not, however, try to re-enter the docking bay.

Michael massaged his hands, "I've had it up to here with surprises today Sir."

"We aren't done yet," John wiped the sweat from his brow and flinched as someone screamed in the cargo bay. Earlier this week he'd been thinking that he wanted to know Kosh better as a friend and ally. Today he was wondering if he should be killed. "Do you remember what happened the last time the Vorlons felt the younger races weren't playing by the rules?"

"Death-walker, just perfect." Michael groaned, "This day just keeps getting better."

Delenn's eyes widened and her face paled. The Vorlons had intervened immediately and decisively do remove Deathwalker, assassinating her as she was transported of Babylon 5. The Vorlon solution to any perceived threat to their Empire would be equally swift and permanent.

"Down fast! Danger bad times!" Screamed the Imperial priest in his haphazard patois, dropping flat against the ground as the massive and bulbous severed head of a war servitor bounced into the customs area, knocking a trio of retreating security officers down like bowling pins.

John retched but he had nothing left in his stomach to purge but a coppery taste of sick. He covered his mouth and coughed at the nauseating smell of the thick white ichorous blood of the servitor. The poor thing was long dead; it simply didn't know it yet. The decapitated servitor's wide mouth continued to work noiselessly screeching in agony, cybernetic eyes the size of oranges shifting around in apparent bewilderment.

Garibaldi shot the poor creature between its eyes. It was a small mercy.

"Garibaldi," John wiped his lips with the back of his hand, "I need you to get ready to vent the atmosphere from the docking bay. A full vent, knock all the air and expose the bay to vacuum."

"We might kill everyone in there," it was not a refusal, simply a statement of fact. Garibaldi could, and would, do anything necessary to ensure the safety of Babylon 5, "The humans and some of the Imperials weren't wearing pressure suits. And I doubt that the Vorlon will be much more than annoyed by being tossed into space."

"The ones not in pressure suits will have to get to the Imperial transport. I'm not the one who had them start a war in my docking bay but I'm will be the one to stop it," Noticing Father Al'Ashir was edging towards the door John aimed his side arm at the Imperial priest,, "I wouldn't."

"Andrews," yelled Garibaldi, "We got anyone still in the bay?"

"Gomez and Martinez are on the other side of the bay... it looked like Martinez was hurt bad. I don't think either of them had long to live a minute tops," A haggard man with a slight lisp growled, "Other than that they're all active combatants. I saw the Centauri go down behind a crate after getting strafed by Kosh... I think he's probably dead as well."

"Then seal the inner doors and vent the bay," John fired a warning shot in from of Al'Ashir when the priest twitched, clearly planning to make a break for the door, "Now."

Delenn said nothing, staring at the docking bay with an unreadable expression. She did not protest John's gentle shepherding towards the CnC, continuing her silent contemplation of the room beyond.

"Power from the main batteries has gone elsewhere milord," Donat snarled in fury disgustedly manipulating the manual controls to the ships forward guns, "Bastard Amon Sui, we can aiding demonic heresy to the list of charges we can execute them for."

"Gone? Gone where exactly?" Sáclair's heart hammered with a mix of fury and exaltation. He might well kiss the Amon Sui before he gave the order to hang them. Abbas was alive, for now. But how had they done it? He hadn't felt even the slightest hiccup from the ships control interface.

Even how he felt totally normal in his melding with the ship. He could feel the guns, he knew that he should be able to use them but they just would not respond no matter what he did. It was like the shadow of a lost limb. His body stretched and reached with long missing fingers of willpower.

"I can't tell," Donat's eyes back and forth in concentration, reading the hololithic reports intently. Had the man been able to his lip would have been curled and his brow furrowed, "The ships machine spirit is... disobeying me. I do not know why, this is Sácomer's area of expertise not my own. All I can tell you for sure is that the warp drive and guns are inoperative. "

"Figure it out Mr. Enzo," Sácomer would be of no use to them. Nor had authorized treatment for Sácomer's hysterical blubbering and near psychotic sorrow with a shot of Demeros extract. Provided that they could convince Sácomer to come back on duty it was unlikely that he'd be of use for anything more complicated than watching his own hand wave. Throne but that insufferable lush was turning out to be a liability.

"Sir I do not know what I'm supposed to do, all my status reports claim that the power is being properly routed to the guns, but the guns are not receiving any power." Donat cut in curtly. In his frustration Donat grabbed one of the hovering servo skulls. The skull screeched in protest as Donat banged in on the keyboard. Small fragments of bone cracked off with every collision upon the gilded marble runes, "There is no system error. I cannot find anything wrong with the system. Power is being drawn from the reactors but it is not going to the guns. There simply isn't anything wrong."

"Then it is not the Amon Sui," Sáclair drummed his fingers upon the arm of his throne, his skin crawling from the implication, "The Amon are not elegant enough for this sort of work. It would take the knowledge of a... of a Magos..." The word hit him like a cannon shot, knocking the breath out of him and sending him reeling. Sáclair closed his eyes immersed himself within the ship, not just passively so but bathing himself in the sensation of each individual system of the Endless Bounty.

It did not take long before he realized that the Endless Bounty, normally so willing and pliant to his every caress, was leading him on paths away from where he wished to go. His subtle nudges to the left would lead him right, he would go up in the system hierarchy and discover that he was in a totally unrelated subroutine. Mazes within mazes, traps within traps. Someone had turned his own ship against him.

It was worse than the worst violation of his trust. His ship, his body in ways more real than his moral husk could ever be had been turned against him. He felt sick, as though he were being used and discarded like the lowest of scullery maids to catch her master's eye. Someone had twisted his ship, his body and was using it against his will and judgment.

And he knew exactly to whom he must attribute this trespass. With each new twist and turn away from him that the ship's spirit twisted he screamed in his own mind, "Magos scum! Traitor! Reviler! Betrayer!" Sáclair wasn't sure if it was his own anger or that of his ancestors that boiled in his veins and set fire to all the rage he'd been holding in his heart. This was a torture of the mind to rival any of the flesh. And he would not stand for it, "No more, never again"

He could feel another presence within the ship's mind struggling against him to build new barriers within the ship's code. Dazzling lines of binary tried to bind him with cords of redundant code. Streams of logic attempted to sever him from the ships system. Resplendent data worms writhed about him, wriggling maggots searching for the weaknesses in his armor.

However the bloodline of Sáclair would not be stopped. He smashed the paper thin barriers of misdirection, crushing the elaborate halls of glass and mirrors hidden within the ship's spirit, freeing it from the invader. Victory was inevitable; the bounty was destined to be one with Sáclair.

The invader, seeing defeat in sight, released hold of the ships systems. The entrance by which the usurper entered the system was scourged, all traces of their identity purged from the system. It could never be proven who had done it without a shadow of a doubt. But Sáclair knew, he'd known from the first second he felt the elegance and poise of her defenses. He'd known as soon as his attacker had avoided trying to damage any necessary systems in the assault. The truly great betrayers were always those seeking to do no harm.

The power has been shunted away from weapons and into the shields. It was a clever way to avoid detection, innovative even. Almost as elegant as the way in which the psychical energy shunt had been hidden from him. Kerrigan had always been urbane; it was only fitting that her betrayal should be just as magnificent.

Magos obviously defied his orders, continuing work on an escape plan for the Inquisitor.

Sáclair opened his eyes and reached for a ruby command rune in the center of his private controls. The blood red stone gave way beneath his finger satisfyingly, sounding warning klaxons throughout the ship. There was battle to be done if he was going to salvage what was left of this, "I need the Lionhearts at full battle readiness. Find the Magos now. "

The astropathic indicator sounded over the battle klaxons, shrill whine adding to the din. Sáclair massaged his temples and manipulated the runes on his throne to display the combat heads up display on the great hololithic projector, "Of course the Earth Alliance fleet is early. Why wouldn't they be? It only stands to reason that with everything else that's..."

His furious rant turned to blind panic as he got a good look at the Battlecruiser, three escort ships, and their accompanying fighters that appeared from the swirling blue wormholes of light at the edge of the holo-display. He recognized them immediately, how could he not? They were smaller than the ships Faust had unearthed on Belzafest but the resemblance was unmistakable, though absent of black flesh and spines that the heretic warship held.

"Blood of The Emperor... Faust," the bastard had found them. And he'd come prepared, "Shields to maximum, evasive pattern E, and get me my damn guns online."

"流口水的婊子和猴子的笨兒子" Captain Li Xingjian's statement was colorful as always. Vorlon ships were uncommon; a man might go his entire lifetime without catching more than a glimpse of a Vorlon transport. One most certainly did not see a full Vorlon assault fleet, "What are they doing here?"

"We're receiving a transmission from them sir," Ensign Daniels cupped the headphone to his ear, listening intently. The Vorlons had a frustrating habit of transmitting demands in Interlac rather than actually responding to hails. His nose scrunched with confusion, "They're saying... The third must not be. The third will end."

"And the rest of it?" Klaus said, "The third of what?"

"They didn't say sir. They just said 'the third must not be. The third will end." Daniels shook his head looking down at his consul, "They're not transmitting any more. That was the whole message."

"Apparently someone does get that message. The Imperials have activated shields and are moving closer to the planet's gravity well," Ensign Peter's said from her spot at telemetry, "And they've deployed fighters... they've deployed a lot of fighters."

"Does Babylon 5 have any cameras out there?" Klaus leaned over the Ensign, perusing the data with great interest. Klaus was always thinking, always plotting. He was a stiff and boring sod, but he wasn't a slouch.

"On the main screen," Li waved his fingers expectantly. The monitor flashed to a scene on the far side of the planet. The Endless Bounty was hidden in a cluster of space debris, taking refuge behind the remains of a shattered Sharlin. The image flickered and blurred at odd moments, distorted by the cloud of radioactive gasses left over by the Sharlin's explosion.

"Sáclair is a crafty bastard I'll give him that," chuckled Klaus, "Whatever these shields are they play all merry hell with the surrounding radiation. Targeting individual fighters would be a nightmare in that."

"Not crafty enough I suspect," Li chuckled darkly. Tricks and games would work on many of the known races but the Vorlon reputation was well earned. Stories of entire war fleets disappearing after entering Vorlon space were more than mere myth. Legends given flesh and form.

Green darts flashed across distant space, a perverse beauty in their deadliness. They split from the Vorlon cruisers like flowering buds caught in a spring wind, elegantly twirling through the gaseous debris of Epsilon III. The flowering buds split into two groups, parting way for pulsing lances of Energy. The vicious verdant blast lanced through the gaseous debris and collided with the defensive screens of the Endless Bounty, exploding with a flaring pulse of radiation.

The image flickered into a deafening burst of static, the robot carrying the camera and likely any others in viewing distance of the Imperial ship had been rendered inoperative. Not that Li needed to see anything, his course of action was clear, "All hands to battle stations. Prepare targeting solutions for the Vorlon ships."

The bridge crew examined him with mixed looks of shock and horror. Obscured by bandages bruises and burns terrified eyes stared at him, clearly believing him mad. Klaus tapped his ears, apparently checking that they were still in working order, "Firing solutions on the Vorlons sir?"

"They've opened fire on a ship in Earth Alliance territory. I will not allow my personal feelings to undermine my duties as an Earthforce officer and we will not allow foreign powers to fight their wars in our space. Sheridan was abundantly clear in his orders that the Endless Bounty was under Earthforce protection," Li gnashed his teeth in irritation. The timing of this was too convenient. Sheridan knew that the Vorlons were coming, he had to have known. This was a ploy to discredit Li and his fellow officers, a plot to force them to disobey direct orders by not acting.

Well Li would not fall for it. And if Sheridan took the heat for getting the Earth Alliance in military conflict with the Vorlons that would simply be an added bonus. They may die, but there were worse things than death in the service of one's nation. Li would not make himself less of a man. He bellowed at the still gaping Klaus, "What are you waiting for? Launch fighters, and tell the commanders of what remains of our fleet to do the same. I'm taking command of this fight. "

Klaus swallowed and shook his head, visibly ill at the idea of fighting the Vorlons, "Sir I cannot comply with that order. It is insane."

"You have questioned my orders twice now Lt. Meyer. Do it a third time and I will have you arrested, taken to the brig, and court marshaled," Li narrowed his eyes and spat on the ground, a green globule of phlegm splattering on Klaus' polished leather shoes, "Complete my orders, now."

"Yes sir," Klaus nearly swallowed his tongue. The German was a proud and clever man but he was a coward. A little boy who joined the Army to play soldier but didn't want to play any more when the other team has better toys. Well all little boys had to grow up sooner or later.

The lights dimmed from sterile white to ominous sanguine red, setting the mood for the carnage to come. The view-screen's blurry mess of static gave way to a tactical display of Epsilon III, fed through the Babylon Five battle network. Blurry mass of dark blue sensor haze fluttered about in a dizzying surge from the hyperspace gate. Shimmering echoes the only real indicators that the Vorlon ships even existed.

His ship's engines were not operating at peak efficiency, even after the repairs they'd managed to do in the past day he could only hope for half speed at best. The other ships in the fleet weren't in substantially better states; none of them had been prepared for combat so soon. They needed at least another week in the dry docks to re-supply and repair but needs were musts, or so the saying goes.

He would accept the challenge.

He would win.

He was a survivor.


The Enginseer's maintenance corridors had been designed for ensuring the safety of the crew during a meltdown or depressurization. The long stretches of corridor were broken up by regularly occurring bulkheads and barriers, guarded by servitors and the Enginseers themselves.

He'd never even remotely considered that the ship's own defenses might be used by mutineers, much less by Magos Kerrigan. It was some small consultation that the men he'd assigned to guarding the entrance corridor to the teleporter had not accepted Kerrigan's mutiny. Provided that he could piece the bodies back together to figure out who'd been on duty they would get full military honors at their funerals.

Kerrigan was twenty bulkheads and a half mile of corridor filled with war servitors and servants of the Magos away from the Lionhearts. But nobody could stand up to the might of the Lionhearts onboard the Endless Bounty, or anywhere else for that matter. And Kerrigan was facing the entire might of the Lionhearts. Not a man jack had been left behind, save those too ill or too young for combat. Even so they were stretched thin; groups of twenty had been deployed to each of the computer terminals or power stations she could potentially be conducting operations from. None of which could be reached without breaching station defenses.

Even the aging Maziv had been conscripted into helping take down the rogue Magos. Not that they could have stopped him from coming even if the old fox had been ordered to stay behind once Danzig issued a code red alert over the Lionheart's comm. net. Maziv retired from heading the Lionhearts decades ago in practice, but never in spirit. The man was near blind in his milky white left eye and his legs cracked audibly when he ran but put a gun in that man's hands and he could work magic with it. In place of himself Danzig give Maziv the duty of guarding Sáclair, it would keep the old man out of harm's way without harming his pride or sense of duty.

He held up his fist and swept his open palm behind him, his fingers shifting in staccato hand talk to the company of men behind him. They lay belly to the floor on the wide staircase leading to the main repository of the ship's machine spirit. "Ten servitors at the door, unknown servo skulls overhead, they don't seem to have spotted anyone yet, snipers take your shots."

Ozone crackled and sparked past his face, white hot beams of energy rocketing across the corridor and bursting the bulbous bodied servitors like ripe melon. The skulls hissed and swarmed the Lionhearts. Their distorted screaming cries echoed off of the high gothic stonework of the ceiling, giving a disturbing musical cadence to the flying servitors.

Danzig fired into the mass of skulls with his plasma gun, burning a handful to cinders. His whoop of victory was short lived as he tumbled backwards in an acrobatic dodge. Gibbering skulls sliced his retreating form with cutting torches, scorching the hem of his patterned silk trousers. He smashed the offending machines with the butt of his rifle snarling as one of them cut his thigh, staining the silk a deeper shade of crimson, "Breaching team advance and blow the bulkhead. Cover them!"

The newly promoted Sgt. Hamman cackled with perverse glee as he slowly waded forwards at the head of his newly formed squad, keeping the swarms of skulls at bay with his beloved flamethrower. His men fired into the advancing swarms with shotguns between gouts of fire, shattering bone and electronics in a hail of shrapnel. The tight circle protected two men hefting innocuous double barreled contraptions, deceptive in their banality. The multi-melta was one of the deadliest hand held anti-armor weapons in the imperial arsenal. Once fired the device would agitate the subatomic structure of its target, literally cooking it from the inside out. Flesh and metal would burn away with ease.

"Movement upper service corridor six o' clock high," Sergei's voice whispered across the hallway, spirited directly into Danzig's ear through his comm. bead, "We got company."

"Ours or theirs?" Whispered one of the new recruits, the fear in his eyes emphasized by the baby fat still hanging from narrow cheeks. The boy should be learning his letters, not fighting on the front lines. Throne had they come to this? Sending children to fight, it was barbaric.

Danzig ducked into the relative cover of an alcove and pulled out his field glasses, squinting towards the distant scaffolding. Overlooking Sergei's position thirty yards down the corridor in front of their exit route. He could just make out the shape of hooded men fumbling with something before dropping to the ground, fumbling with something on a tripod, "Theirs! Sergei it's a crow's nest! Take cover."

"Where?" snarled the furious voice of Sergei, "Throne help us. We designed this damn corridor to be a slaughterhouse to anyone stupid enough to attack it."

The multi-laser twittered eagerly, firing green death into the men below. There was nowhere for the soldiers to run. Danzig snapped his field glasses shut, ill at the sight of his old companion Bal'tha's cooked and blackened chest. The Lionhearts opened fire on the scaffolding, but there was no way to get a line of sight on the gunners without throwing oneself in direct line of fire with the gun.

It was too far for grenades, too far for plasma fire or meta-fire. Damn and blast how were they going to take that damnable crow's nest out?

Three cracks echoed into the scaffolding, brilliant bolts of laser fire cutting into the robed men crouching with the tripod. Three heads dropped listlessly to the ground. Sala'ha's reaction times improved since Belzafest it would seem. The man swayed back and forth from his perch on a massive bass relief, nestled between an enormous marble nostril and a curving obsidian scrap of mustache. How Sala'ha had even managed to climb the face that quickly was a mystery but one should never look a gift grox in the mouth.

"Hamman I need that door open," Dazig snarled over his comm. bead, "Those three weren't part of the ship's automated defenses. She's here. She's in here."

The two multi-meltas opened fire upon the bulkhead with a humming growl. There was no bright flash or muzzle flare to indicate fire, only a hazy column of buzzing distortion and a bright patch of heating metal on the door. The air in the passageway shifted with the abrupt introduction of the new heat source, wafting the sickly sweet odor of scorched flesh into Danzig's nostrils. It disturbed him that the scent no longer disquieted his stomach.

Two minutes and they'd break through the first barrier to the next round of defenses. Twenty layers of two more minutes at a time while the ship was helpless. Damn Kerrigan's arrogance, damn her to the pit.

She would kill them all.


John crossed the threshold of the CnC, only dimly aware that he was leading Father Al'Ashir and Delenn. At what point was he going to get to just wake up from this nightmare? The Vorlons were staging a military operation in Earth Alliance territory. On his station, "No more."

Pushing Al'Ashir down into a chair next to a burnt out control consul and holstering his firearm John grabbed a status report from an exhausted Lt. Corwin. The Lieutenant parroted back a slipshod salute at John before a jumbled rush of words tumbled unintelligibly from his lips. The Lieutenant swallowed shook his head and continued in a more coherent fashion, sparing a look for Delenn and the priest, "Sir the Vorlons have opened fire on the Endless Bounty outside the operational range of our station defenses."

"Just perfect," John watched the distant green lances of energy, his heart pounding in his ears. The Vorlon ships were stronger than even the Minbari, far beyond even the best of the Earth Alliance Navy, "Can we scramble fighters in time?"

"I already gave the order as soon as they started shooting sir," Lt. Corwin stuttered over the word 'order,' clearly uncomfortable to take responsibility for military action against the Vorlon ships, "When Captain Xingjian issued the order to protect the Endless Bounty I..."

"Captain Xingjian?" Sheridan cut in incredulously. Xingjian's temper was second only to his stubbornness, so soon after suffering a defeat at the hands of the Endless Bounty Sheridan believed Xingjian would have to be dragged into the fight kicking and screaming the whole way, "Are the other ships fighting as well."

"Yes sir, what is left of Major Pearce's fleet has moved to assist the Imperial ship," Lt. Corwin shook his head, "But it won't be enough sir. Not even close."

"Show me," John said in resignation, waving at the view screen in annoyance, "And send a distress call to General Hague. We need his relief fleet here yesterday."

"Yes sir."

"And for God's sake somebody get a communication line open with the Imperials so they know who the friendlies in this fight are!"

"Garibaldi wants to know if you think it's safe to open the doors to the docking bay yet,"

"Captain," Delenn walked across the room and rested the fingers of her left hand in the center of his back, a gesture deliberately platonic in its pleading intimacy. They trembled slightly as she leant down see the tactical readout, "You need to trust Kosh. There are things that you do not know, that you can not know."

John brushed her arm aside, anger simmering just beneath his skin. He gripped her wrist tightly and growled through clenched teeth, "Then tell me. What is it that I should know? What is it that I need to understand? Why should I ignore the Vorlon war fleet attacking the people who just saved my station?"

"The wisdom of the older races isn't always immediately clear," Delenn pulled her wrist back and continued with a look of supreme serenity that clashed greatly with her torn robes and tousled hair, "But understanding is not important, only obedience."

"Ambassador I am not Minbari. I do not obey orders to murder an entire species without question," the insult left his mouth before he'd considered the severity of it. The words impacted with Delenn like a freight train, crushing her spirit faster than even the demon could have managed. Her eyes quivered with emotion as he asked, "Why am I to stop?"

"The Vorlons have their reasons," Delenn swallowed, "They aren't always obvious but..."

"But they're killing people on my station all the same," John shook his head, "Delenn, Kosh outright slaughtered a dozen people on my station without so much as a hello. If that is the sort of wisdom he's espousing then I want nothing to do with it."

Real pain tinted her voice as she spoke the words, "Captain, please... you cannot defeat them."

"I'm hoping not to have to," John nodded. A plan, nebulous though it was, formed in his head, "I'm hoping this can be resolved but I need your help. I need to stop the violence before we end up with a war between the Vorlons and Empire with Earth in the middle."

"War," Delenn's voice hitched and she closed her eyes tightly, steeling herself for what came next, "What do you want me to do?"

"It's time to reconnect with an old friend," John pointed at the display, tapping his finger upon Epsilon III, "One I believe might be able to help."

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Todeswind » 2012-03-21 11:52pm

"I need good news Mr. Enzo," Sáclair felt the dart ships of emptiness flying around him like bats in the dark. He could practically kiss the wake of their engines as they plowed their way through space. They sliced at the sides of the Endless Bounty beam weapons hitting the ships shields with disturbing accuracy and competence. Every way he turned, no matter how he moved the darts always seemed to be skimming along the surface of the ship's void shields, tearing at it with implacable resolve.

"Fighter wings are reporting no significant success. The damn fighters can take a hit from a lascannon and keep on kicking," Mr. Enzo punched Sácomer's control station in frustration, "We still have control of the anti-aircraft point defense batteries but they aren't strong enough to kill the fighters without concentrated hits to the same location."

The control room shook and pain burst in Sáclair's head. One of the enemy cruisers got a good shot in on the ship's bow as he jinked to escape the spine-chilling torrent of power fired by the battle-cruiser. That ships so small could contain the raw power of this magnitude was inconceivable.

How had Faust found them? How had he made so many ships in such a short time?

Sáclair had no guns, no warp drive, and no hope.

Blind and bound, the astropathic servitor chained to the great Throne began to speak in a voice altogether unsuited for her lithe body. A deep guttural reverberating snarl snuck from her lips, inhuman and reverberating. Her eyes glowed and her body twisted in shock, fighting the presence of the incoming astropathic transmission, "Surrender and die."

"They haven't mastered the whole ultimatum thing yet have they?" Sáclair quipped in disgust, a sensation of wild vertigo overtaking him as he bucked the ship down along it's z axis in a vain attempt to avoid a shot from the lead bioship. The green energy pulse bend to follow them as they moved, arking to glance along the stern. Only partially stopped by the voild shields of the Endless Bounty the attack gouged the adamantium hull, sounding decompression alarms in several recently repaired sections of hull.

"The Beijing Beauty and her sister ships are advancing on us sir," Donat chewed his lip in an uncharacteristic display of emption. "They've launched fighters."

"Damned treacherous snakes," Sáclair watched the blue triangles soar across his heads up display. Dozens of the starfury fighters, bearing down on them like bats out of hell, "Raring for another fight then are they?"

"Wait!" Navigator Illrich hissed, chiropteran nostrils flaring as his portrait flashed over the communications net. His wide black pupiled eyes crinkled with delighted zeal, "We're getting data from the tactical officer on the Babylon station. Throne be praised the Alliance fighters are coming to help."

"Fantastic, tell the fighter wings not to shoot the Alliance without provocation. It could still be a ploy on their part but at this point I won't turn anyone's help down," Sáclair continued to send the fire command to his gun batteries in impotent fury. Again and again depressing the firing controls in the direction of his attackers, again and again failing to fire.

The Earth Alliance cruisers fired into the Vorlon ships, but to little effect. The electronic countermeasures troubling the Endless Bounty must be causing hellish problems for the Alliance ships. Lances shot across the solar system only to miss their targets, disappearing harmlessly into the distance. It was like firing blindly into shadows.

Nothing, nothing at all. Damn, he'd been hoping that the Alliance would be better equipped for countering the bioship's defenses. They were altogether different from those used by the bioship Faust had used over Belzafest. Where the ship over Belzafest had been an empty void of nothing, the bioships attacking them now broadcast their presence overwhelmingly. Targets a hundred times too large to possibly be the bioships forced themselves into the Endless Bounty's sensor readings.

And it would seem that Faust learned from his mistake on Belzafest. The first effort to target the ship psychically ended badly for the unfortunate psychic tasked with targeting it. The poor bastard's head exploded in an astonishing shower of gore.

"Come on damn it, come on," Snarled Sáclair. He nearly took the head off of the serving girl who brought him a goblet of wine in his haste to drink it, tipping it back to his lips and savoring the sweet dryness of it, "Have at you then!"

The shapes danced around the Endless Bounty, blue triangles, crimson eagles, and green darts. A dart blinked out, then another, then a third, but too late. For each dart that disappeared a handful of red eagles and blue triangles simply disappeared.

"Sir!" The soot stained face of Mr. Andrews popped into view, "The Enginseers have managed to jury rig a manual firing device for the forward torpedoes."

"Well then," Sáclair shifted his shoulders eagerly, glad to have some bite to go with his bark, "We shall just have to make them count then shan't we? Hard to stern. Order Markusk's Raiders to assault the lead ship with their bombers."

"Markusk's Raiders," Donat clucked in understandable confusion. Markusk was under suspicion of collaborating with the Amon Sui onboard the ship. An odd choice for a high profile mission, "Sir, what are you planning to shoot at, there's no way we can target those ships. Their countermeasures are just too comprehensive."

"The defenses on those battleships are indeed too comprehensive," Sáclair swirled the dregs about his goblet in disgust, "The scrambling technologies on Markusk's bombers are not."

If nothing else he would get the pleasure of ridding himself of a handful of Amon Sui traitors today. One must always look for a silver lining after all. Donat relayed his orders without protest a cluster of the eagles soared across the hololith and into the blurry spot. A mess of green darts followed them, picking them off one by one.

First one eagle disappeared, then another, then another, and so on till there were only three eagles left. Their blurry forms fidgeted and twisted distantly on the display as they pierced the blurry bubbles, dogfighting with the darts around the lead ship of the trio.

Sáclair focused on the triangle of fighters, using it as a makeshift reticule. The torpedoes crossed the distance in moments, reaching their targets and exploding with nightmarish force. It wasn't spectacularly accurate, but then it really hadn't needed to be. The so called "planet cracker" torpedoes loaded into the forward tubes were a special payload requisitioned by Inquisitor Hilder intended for possible Exterminatus situations. The four cyclonic warheads exploded just beyond the fighters, engulfing a pocket of space in a bright blast of atomic fire.

The center blip disappeared.

"Reload the forward batteries," Sáclair whooped with glee, "And prepare another fighter wing." They'd exhausted the supply of planet cracker missiles brought by the Inquisitor but be damned Sáclair intended to make them bleed for every inch of space they wanted."

Vir wanted to be sick. He wanted to run. He wanted to hide. He wanted to crawl back into his nice warm bed and forget that he'd seen dying men, or attacking demons, or even furious Vorlon. However to achieve any of that he would first have to make sure that he managed to survive the next ten minutes or so.

Though he appeared to be the only one sane enough to have survival as an immediate goal. The Inquisitor was delirious with pain and clearly going into septic shock but insisted upon firing his side arm at the Vorlon with his remaining arm, ignoring the searing gouts of flame and energy being tossed by the Vorlon and Deamonhost like child's playthings.

The impressive servitors lay in heaps of charnel and smoking electronics. Smoking offal and wires covered a majority of the floor, squelching disgustingly underneath Vir's feet. He was dimly aware of how covered in gore he was, but it was a passing concern at best provided his own insides stayed on the inside.

Losiencheoir's claws sliced through the Volron's belly, tossing the Vorlon back ten paces and spraying a stream of crystalline pink blood across the deck plates. Losiencheoir's cry of victory turned to a howl of fury as the crystalline blood bathing his face and arms began to eat through bone and flesh like acid. The great beast flensed itself of the affected areas, talons exposing black hunks of muscle and white bone.

It took a moment for Vir to realize that the warning klaxons for the air lock were sounding; the flashing red lights and resounding horns subdued by comparison to the howls and blasts of the deamonhost and Vorlon. It was the sucking sensation and the sudden breeze that clued him in, a pleasant wafting of cool air.

He grabbed Vira'capac's arm, taking great care to avoid the spines, and wispered in terror, "They're opening this docking bay! We need to get to shelter."

"Alliance man things pick inconceivably inconvenient moments." The Kroot trilled in fury, his throat undulating in a series of shrill dolphin like clicks. His hounds came to heel immediately, hackles raised in anticipation, "Come then, safety is first."

Uncaring of the danger Demonhost and Vorlon continued their mid-air battle. Psychic might and raw demonic fury collided in cascading bursts of power and rage. The Vorlon's encounter suit was in shambles, a crumpled and shredded mess of Mylar and biotech. The crimson eye's iris struggled to fix on a single point in the distance, clicking endlessly in the effort to see properly. But only a fool would mistake that for weakness.

Broken and bloodied though the Vorlon may be, it was more than holding its own with Losenchior. The recent demonhost snarled in undisguised fury. It wasn't just fighting the Vorlon because it was ordered to, or because brutality was in the demonhost's nautre, there was some thing personal in the brutality of the Demonhost's attacks on the Vorlon. Losiencheoir wanted to harm Kosh as much as he possibly could.

Vira'capac reached out and grabbed Daul by his wounded arm, talons digging deep into the Inquisitor's injured flesh. The Inquisitor cried out in agony, hopping to keep up with Vira'capac's taloned fingers as the Kroot warrior hustled him along. The Kroot ignored the constant string of incoherent gothic profanity with mild professional amusement, occasionally arching an eyebrow at a particularly interesting phrasing.

The Inquisitor's vocabulary of profanity was apparently voluminous.

"Man thing will not die here. Is not time, not time for either of us. Too easy, not finished," Vira'capac chided the Inquisitor as they reached the Imperial shuttlecraft, "Man thing not a coward. Will stop acting like one."

The towering techpriest Tuul was already at the lander, disconnecting power and fuel lines from the station and shepherding the human psychics onboard. Tuul gave Vir an odd look as the Centauri boarded the landing craft, but shook it off at an annoyed glance from the Kroot. Vir could only assume his presence on board went against custom. Well too bad, this was a highly uncustomary situation and he was going to get out of it in one piece.

Cairn, the bionic manservant of Inquisitor Daul, was already strapped into a seat. That is to say what remained of him was. Bionic stumps sparked and dripped viscous grey fluid where the Skitarii was missing both arms and both legs. The mess of mechanical tentacles that hung from the man's face slithered and clasped in obvious agony, silent where the speaker box at his throat had ceased to function.

The cyborg's eyes focused upon his master's missing arm, briefly oblivious to his own pain. He recognized the look, even through cybernetic optics. He'd seen it too often in his own mirror after talking to his relatives. Somehow the Skitarii's despair was made deafening in it's silence, as Cairn watched Vira'capac push the Inquisitor down into a seat before buckling the hounds into place.

Tuul ducked through the door and muttered furiously to himself in frustrated monotone, sparing a longing glance for the distant airlock. He made curious spidery symbol with his fingers towards the locked bulkhead leading to customs before closing the doors to the transport, "Deus autem machinenen katsieb sid mine Lehrlinge."

Vir opened his mouth to ask what he'd said, but the Kroot tapped his finger across the pointed tip of his beak in imitation of the human gesture for silence then steepled his fingers and bowed once. Some sort of prayer then. Well it was as good of a time for it as any.

An ugly man with a thick mess of braided beards popped his head in from the cockpit, clearly eager to be off of Babylon five as quickly as was possible. The ugly man waved at the humans, growling in the guttural Imperial tongue. Inquisitor Daul muttered a curt affirmative and waved the man back to the cockpit, yanking off the golden skull from his head and revealing deeply bloodshot eyes.

He smiled to Vir, "I would hold on tightly Mr. Cotto. Captain Sheridan will vent the docking bay long before we've activated the Engines and I'm afraid that our transition will be a good deal more bumpy than you're accustomed to."

There was a loud crash of changing pressures and Vir coughed as he was yanked forward in his chair as the ship transitioned from the artificial gravity inside of the station to the low gravity outside of it. The ship tumbled and turned wildly, thunderously colliding with unsecured cargo crates and damaged bits of bulkhead as everything not tied down found itself sucked into the vacuum of space.

The hounds, uncomfortable in their seats, stood up and tried to balance themselves properly. The sounds of skittering talons on deck plates and annoyed whimpering filled the cabin as they hounds hovered near weightlessly above the deck plates, unable to move.

Bright green light flashed past the port side of the ship, illuminating the distant forms of the still battling demonhost and Vorlon as they disappeared from view. The raging battle disappeared into the distance as the sounds of battle chatter crackled over the communications system from the cockpit. The Inquisitor rhythmically repeated the same ten words, over and over again, counting down on his fingers as he went. He counted for thirteen counts of thirteen before opening his bloodshot eyes and screaming for the artificial gravity to be activated.

The hounds fell to the ground in a frustrated heap, barking and baying in confusion. The larger hound, the one with a scar across its eye, rested its head in Vir's lap cooing. Vir hesitantly scratched the creature behind the ear, and was rewarded by an amused purring trill. The smaller hound quickly asserted itself as well, making sure to get it's share of attention.

The Inquisitor stood and marched over to a relatively open patch of deck, sitting down cross legged and pulling a knife from his belt. He stabbed the knife into his arm and let the blood drip down in a stream onto the deck. Shaking fingers extended into the pool, spreading it into a crude pentagram. He stabbed the knife into the center of it and chanted in the same unnatural language he'd spoken to bind the demon to Amis.

A sour flavor filled the air as the solid metal of the deck bubbled within the pentagram, a boiling pool of blood roiling and seething on the floor. The bloodied and wounded form of the demonhost appeared in the center of the circle, howling in dissatisfaction. Losiencheoir beat his fists on the barrier of the circle, impotently protesting having been taken from the fight.

"He was mine. I had him!" The creature mewled petulantly, "I could taste victory."

"You do not fight for your own amusement creature," Inquisitor Hilder snapped his fingers, "You obey my will and my whims. Remember that. Now I order you to not fight anything without my expressed orders, I order you to not speak, to not listen to anyone who isn't me, to not see anything I don't give you permission to see, and to not even move or breathe without my sayso. You will get into the casket onboard intended for astropathic servitors and you will stay there till I say otherwise. Do you understand?"

The creature stared hatefully at the Inquisitor, saying nothing. Inquisitor Hilder's eyes narrowed, "Thrice I speak and done, do you understand?"

"Yes," The demonhost said in disgust, "I hear and obey." It floated into a metal casket on the starboard side of the ship, pulling the casket closed with insulting servitude. Hilder pressed his bloodied handprint into the casket muttered a few guttural words. Spidery lines of runic protection wept out from his handprint, covering the casket and binding the creature therein.

"Miserable monster," The Inquisitor hissed as he pulled a bag of salt and spread it over the blood on the floor, "Disgusting creature." He slumped in a seat, grudgingly permitting Vira'capac to buckle him in a second time. Exhaustion and pain caught up with him as he passed into unconsciousness.

As Vir allowed himself to melt into his own chair, idly enjoying petting the hounds and breathing easily for the first time in hours, he realized that the Inquisitor had chosen to speak his commands to Losiencheoir in English for his benefit. He wanted Vir to know that he'd chosen to avoid conflict with the Vorlon. He wanted the human psychics to remember how powerful he was. Even broken and bloodied the Inquisitor continued to plan and scheme.

It was no wonder Londo liked him.

They'd destroyed a Vorlon warship. The Imperials destroyed a Vorlon warship. Li's mouth salivated at the though of gaining weaponry with that level of destructive potential. Even outdated versions of the Imperial sensors would be a coup.

Not that it was likely they'd ever get them from the Endless Bounty. When the Vorlon ship exploded a shrill howl of fury had echoed over the comm. net from the Vorlon ships, a baleful moan of despair and agony. There hadn't been any words but none had really needed to be spoken. A line had been crossed that they could never forgive.

The Vorlon fighters retreated to their cruisers, taking up defensive postures against the imperial fighters. The crimson Imperial gunships were no match for the Vorlon fighters working in concert. And the Vorlons weren't about to give the Imperials flagship a second shot at them.

Not just the Imperials Li realized.

There was no way the invaders could allow the Alliance ships to live. The Vorlons couldn't afford for anyone with tactical knowledge of that nature to spread it to the known worlds. No Empire willingly sacrificed its tactical superiority. There were two Vorlon ships between them and the Hyperspace gate and unless the Imperials could pull out another miracle shot they were up the creek.

The hobbled and already maimed Alliance ships were poor matches for the Vorlon fleet.

The Zeus died first, a lance of green energy from one of the Vorlon fighters gutting the carrier stem to stern like a salmon. The crew hadn't even had time to reach the escape pods before it exploded. Another wing of Vorlon fighters nearly took the Beijing Beauty but the timely intervention of an Imperial fighter wing forced them to redirect and gave the Starfuries a chance to get back into defensive positions around the Earth Alliance ships.

"Keep firing towards the Vorlons," Li chewed his lip, "If we cannot target them intentionally we can at least slow their advance and give Captain Sáclair time enough for another salvo."

The Mercury, still hobbled by its half repaired engines, froze in space as a glancing blast of energy collided with its rear. The oblong ship split in two, it's main cabin severing the main pylon and tossing the ships reactors away. It listed helplessly in space as a second salvo hit its bridge, boring a hole clear though the ship.

"Sir we have new sensor contacts. Fifteen additional hyperspace windows are inbound," Ensign Peters broke through Li's melancholy, "Not the relief fleet sir."

"Of course it isn't," Klaus grunted in a long suffering voice, "That would be too convenient."

"Who is it then," Li didn't particularly care who, so long as it wasn't another fifteen Vorlon ships. Every second they got was a second longer that they'd have to think. The Vorlons were forced to tactically reposition to face the newcomers.

"Waiting for confirmation sir," Peters' fingers danced across the keyboard, shaking with adrenaline. The blocky grey shapes on the main viewer rasterized into recognizable ship configurations in a matter of moments. Peters' voice colored in understandable confusion, "We have confirmation, they're a combined fleet of Centauri... and Narn warships."

"Well then," Li laughed, "This is new."

"The lead Centauri warship is sending us a transmission sir. They're here to help," Ensign Daniels did not bother asking if they would accept the Centauri military aide. It was redundant at this point, "We're receiving their transponder signals and battle network."

"Centauri and Narn warships," Li massaged his throbbing temples, "Why not. As hell has clearly decided that today was the appropriate time to freeze over it seems like an appropriate time for the two of them to get along."

"What do I tell them sir?"

Li slapped the ensign on the shoulder, "Welcome to the party."

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Todeswind » 2012-03-21 11:53pm

Londo stood on the bridge of the Primus Battlecruiser, more terrified than he had ever been in his entire life as he watched the battle unfold. What had he been thinking to engage in this madness? It had been fear. Fear of Morden's ever tightening grip on his people, fear of his terrifying invisible associates. He'd allowed fear to dictate his actions and now here he was, leading warships against the Vorlons.

Not that he'd known it would be the Vorlons when Mr. Morden demanded his favor; only that it was someone Mr. Morden's associates did not defy directly for political reasons.

He'd called in virtually every favor his newfound popularity earned him. If this failed, as it seemed doomed to, house Mollari would be spoken of only in terrified whispers behind closed doors as ghost stories to children. A parable warning about the consequences of ambition without reason. Provided that they survived the use of force would be considered legal, the Babylon Five defense treaty demands that in the event that the station, or a ship in its space, is attacked by any member nation of the Babylon Five advisory council and demands help that all available warships come to the aid of the aforementioned station and docked ships.

Not everyone on the home-world agreed would agree. Amassing the handful of Centauri warships had been virtually political difficult but that paled in comparison to the social suicide of allying himself with the Narn publicly. But the use of Narn was a condition of his deal with Mr. Morden; his ego would be the price of his liberty.

G'Kar nearly swallowed his tongue with laughter when Londo requested a joint military operation. The poetic irony of Mollari being forced to turn to G'Kar too much for the Narn to take. There were hundreds of kilometers of vacuum between Londo's flagship and the Narn G'Quan cruiser he knew held G'Kar and Londo knew, he absolutely knew that he could hear the Narn Ambassador chuckling at his expense.

But he'd agreed. Agreed to help defend the Imperials from an unspecified threat, G'Kar had been surprisingly credulous about the need to bring military aide to the station. He'd raved about demons and the coming darkness but one could always rely upon the Narn for incoherent religious ravings.

Now that he realized his intended foes were the Vorlons, Mollari was deeply grateful that he'd made the sacrifice. The most stalwart of warriors grew weak in the knees at the thought of facing a Vorlon vessel but even the most craven Centauri would not willingly show cowardice to a Narn.

If they backed down from the fight in pain view of the Narn warships they'd die of shame long before the Narn died of Vorlon laser fire. That was fine with Londo. He would gladly shape their hubris into a spear so long as he could toss it towards the Vorlon fleet in enough time to aid the Endless Bounty.

Captain Gauis Gerand was a distant cousin of Londo, taking after a paternal grandfather of Londo's famous for his wineries on the southern continent. More given to an air of decadence than command he was no less the commanding officer of the Primus Imperial Wisdom. smacked Londo's shoulder with a meaty paw and guffawed, "Well then we do have our work cut out for us then don't we old boy."

The combined fleet advanced, wedging themselves between the Vorlon ships and the hyperspace gate, flanking the pair of Vorlon ships and surrounding them from all sides. Tactically it was as unsound of a position for the Vorlon ships as he could imagine.

It seemed no one had bothered to inform the Vorlons of this. One of the escort cruisers turned back to the combined fleet and opened fire, destroying two Centauri ships and crippling the Narn flagship before they had a chance to return fire. The fleet advanced forwards, moving into defensive positions around the combined assets as they advanced on the Vorlon cruiser, forcing it to redirect its fire.

The Centauri flagship lagged behind next to the gate in an effort to maintain control of the escape route. Minutes passed with the bridge crew continuing with the normal business of battle before Londo noticed anything irregular.

"Why are you ignoring the cries for aid for the Blessed G'Taak," Londo asked, already knowing the answer.

"Oh come now Londo, you can bring your pets to play soldier if you want to but you can't seriously expect us to go out of our way for some stray mongrels can you? They're just Narn," Gaius chuckled in amusement, "We'll save them when they're ours, when they're worth the effort."

"No," Londo said in disgust, "You will save them now. We save theirs in the hopes they will save ours when and if the time comes."

"You do not order me on my own ship," Gauis' petulant appeal to authority was cut off mid sentence by the barrel of Londo's plasma pistol being pressed between his eyes. His piggy eyes focused on the trigger with a confused yelp of surprise.

"Yes. Actually I do," Londo grinned wolfishly, "Now, I believe you were planning on doing something about saving Narn Ambassador before I make the personally unfortunate decision of declaring you unfit for duty and replacing you. It would be a great deal of work and effort to smooth doing so with his majesty's court. Not impossible but more complicated than I have the energy for at the moment, and certainly more painful that you have time for."

"Yes..." Gaius stuttered in astonishment, "Do that then."

Londo stood in place smiling and waiting for his Gauis' men to carry out the order, "A wise decision."

Kerrigan was mildly aware of the head of her retinue as the aging Skitarii eyed the bulkhead. Xerrax hugged his rifle tighter, the old Skitarii as implacable as ever. Where Carin was silent by oath, Xerrax was simply silent by custom. The man could go days or months without saying a word or expressing an emotion. He stood stock still, staring at her attendants and apprentices.

They were all were terrified, and with good reason.

It had seemed so simple to start with. She would rescue the Inquisitor, and then rely upon his Inquisitorial pardon to forgive her having ignored the will of Captain Sáclair. Sáclair would not soon forgive her, possibly never, but she could rely upon his obedience to Inquisitor Hilder.

Re-assigning the work orders so that her people were in the right places to re-direct energy to the teleporters and put the power stations on lockdown had been as simple as signing her name. Her authority was second only to the Captain and Inquisitor, that she might be disobeying the one to aid the other never occurred to any of them.

It had been easy, too easy. Or so she'd thought. She hadn't properly accounted for the Captain's emotional state. Trapped by duty Sáclair had been on balanced on the razor's edge for weeks. If she'd been thinking properly she would never have pressed him at such a low point emotionally.

But if she was honest with herself her own emotions clouded her reason, even now. In her despair the Magos had actually convinced herself that Sáclair would bear an insult to his pride with grace, that he would not lash out at anyone who dared to engage in open mutiny.

A gross miscalculation.

Her mind was interfaced with the Endless Bounty. A mere shade in the domain of the great lion Sáclair, a moray latched to the mind of the great stellar leviathan. The Endless Bounty tolerated her intrusion, but not without protest. Sáclair and the Endless Bounty fought her at every turn but one does not become a Magos through idleness. Twice she'd been cast from the system, only to find a third entry and erect a new maze of logic and reason for Sáclair to fight his way through.

There was a great measure of shame in using the device attached to her computer interface. It was one of the devices she'd invented from the study of xenotech, one of the devices she'd been exiled for having invented. It allowed her to interface with the Machine Spirit against it's will without having the proper genetic verifiers normally necessary.

Even with the additional force fields and servitors she'd placed between the Lionhearts and herself it was only a matter of time before they were overwhelmed. And time was greatly against Kerrigan. Worse yet, her efforts to activate the ship's systems were impeded by the mischievous nature of the machine spirit.

"Blasted riddles. Why must the machine spirit of the Endless Bounty constantly indulge in these infuriating games?" Spat the Magos with disdain as she tossed another maze of code between herself and Sáclair, blocking him from retaking the warp engines. She was one answer away from rescuing the Inquisitor, Abbas, and anyone else on the station with a sub-dermal comm.-bead but for reasons understood only by the Omnissiah yet another of the ship's self indulgent games.

Abbas had provided her with all the riddles he knew, but it seemed that his boast of knowing "every riddle" the ship could think up was grossly misinformed. Her brow furrowed at the infuriating little joke made by the ship's machine spirit. Binary titters bounced in the back of her interface, the damned spirit was laughing at her in joyous mischief.

- ++ Input code ++ -

Q5A6Q3 A1Z6A2Q2Q3Q4 Q8A2 A1Q5 Q6Q9Q7Q4 A4Q8Z6AGQ3Q4Q5Q8Q10A2

But for the life of her she couldn't even begin to guess what the answer was. She'd run the cipher past every word she knew in every language she could think of, including binary, but it continued to mean absolutely nothing.

Sáclair's mind lashed out at Kerrigan, nearly making it through her maze. Kerrigan retreated into another section of the ship, briefly allowing him to retake navigation. She could leech power away from it into the sensor arrays, neutering his ability to activate the warp drives. Sáclair was stronger than she could ever hope to be in the virtual landscape of the ship but his knowledge of the workings of the great machine mind was minimal. Hopefully that advantage would be enough.

Her mind weaved through vast stacks of data piled haphazardly, new information about the rapidly moving sensor contacts arriving in rapid succession. Kerrigan dodged the stacks, trying to avoid the overwhelming amounts of information. If she were caught by a stack of data her memory engrams would be temporary paralyzed as they struggled to process information intended for an intelligence many magnitudes that of the Magos. Time lost she could ill afford.

Sáclair had no such impediment. The Leonine presence of Sáclair prowled the sensor array, arriving with alarming speed. Her maze hadn't slowed him as greatly as she'd hoped. The combined processing power of the ancient captains in Sáclair's mind was impressive. He stalker her through the jungle of data, wading through readouts with impunity. Impossible though it was, she could almost taste his disgust and disappointment.

Time seemed to slow as the combined efforts of the Endless Bounty and Sáclair were turned against her. She was an invader, an usurper, an unworthy flea, and they were no longer willing to suffer her presence. Kerrigan struggled to compress her presence and sneak into another system and winced in pain as the data stream she'd tried to enter cut off abruptly, bursting the small pocket of her avatar she'd probed in the direction of life support. Pain echoed through the virtual world, freezing her in place with a packet of data.

The combined minds took the opportunity to eject her from the ships systems, forcing her violently back to the real world. Kerrigan swore furiously as she detached herself from the ship's data ports, fearful that the Endless Bounty might well enter her own mind. She deactivated her eyes, unable to comprehend both the tactical data from the ships sensors and the vision from her own eyes at the same time.

By the Omnissiah xenos picked now to attack the bounty? It was as though the universe were conspiring against her. This changed the politics greatly; there would be no way for her to save her people even if she managed to get the Inquisitor back onboard.

Daul well may shoot her himself for endangering the ship.

"Mistress," An extremely nervous auto-savant approached her, waddling forwards on a set of inverted agumentic legs. His scrolls and quills clicked with each tentative step, "Mistress they've cut through all but the last two bulkheads... it will only be a matter of minutes before they've breached those as well... there are more than a hundred of them mistress..."

"Then you'll have to hold them off when they get through then won't you," Xerax barked in frustrated fury, his words filled with more frustration than conviction. The Lionhearts were more than a match for the handful of Skitarii and combat servitors in her retinue, even with the aid of her cyber cherubs. Not for the first time that day she regretted sending her own private bodyguard to fight with Inquisitor Hilder instead of allowing the Lionhearts to return to the station. The Ogryn servitors would be greatly appreciated at the moment.

It had been a foolish decision, but she hadn't been able to stand the thought of Danzig or Sergei dying along with Hilder. She had so few allies left in the universe; she could not afford to lose those few she had left. To hell with duty to hell with honor. She just wanted to stop watching people she cared about dying. Iino... Ominissiah but she missed the humorless berk.

Even the humblest of bondsmen were armed with lasrifles and small scale laser weaponry, staring at the door in trepidation. She'd brought them all with her in anticipation that Sáclair might retaliate against her. A nervous gaggle of apprentices busied themselves with monitoring the transfer of energy, pretending that they were not terrified.

They would follow her into the jaws of death; they would follow her to the end.

Danzig would end them all. Of that she had no doubt. He was expedient in following Sáclair's orders and devoted to his craft.

And it would be the bitter end. Hilder would die, Abbas would die, and all her retainers would die. All in the name of her own wounded pride. By the cog, how had this happened?

"No," Kerrigan whispered to herself, "No, enough have died..." She would not solve the riddle before the bulkheads gave way. Once that happened all that awaited her was dishonor and death, for her those who served her. That would not do.

The Magos' mechandrites danced around the interface, re-routing power and activating dormant systems, giving the slumbering beast teeth and claws. Distant roars greeted her ears, heralding the fruits of her labors. The Machine Spirit did so without protest, eager to be whole again.

It was done.

Kerrigan walked away from the controls, over the obsidian slab of the teleporter, past the barricades erected by her loyal retainers, and up to the closed bulkhead. It was an impressive block of adamantium, gilded and covered with stories of the saints and wards of safety and protection. Her servants called out to her in confusion.


"Where are you going?"

"Come back Mistress!"

She ignored them, she knew what had to be done, the only think that could be done. She pressed her hand to the control plate to the bulkhead, and opened the doors. The bulkheads gave way and an astonished Hamman stared at her from ten meters up the corridor where he was aiding three men in loading a melta charge into a heavy weapon. He stared at her in horror, realizing that if she wanted him dead she could shoot him at any second.

She looked into his eyes ignoring the melta charge in his hands, sighed, and spoke the words that would save the lives of her retainers, "I surrender."

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Todeswind » 2012-03-21 11:54pm

There were days where Michael really hated his job. This was probably going to top his "worst day ever" rankings for eternity. Honestly, when you vented something out to the void of space, the least it could do is get slowed down by the vacuum. The Imperials had wisely taken the hint, gotten on their transport, and got the heck off his station.

Now that he no longer had the Inquisitor to deal with he was unsure what to do with Kosh. The subtle nuanced meaning of sucking the air out of a room seemed to have been lost on Ambassador Kosh. It mostly seemed to have made the Vorlon madder, if such a thing was possible.

Security resealed the outer doors to the cargo bay and put the doors between the cargo bay and the customs offices on lock down in the hopes of containing him. As it transpired, trying to keep a Vorlon somewhere he doesn't wasn't an easy task. Even with additional safeties in place Kosh overrode the computer securities on the door as easily as turning a key, gliding out with indomitable intent.

The alien look of the Vorlon encounter suit was exaggerated by the numerous cuts, dents, rents, and tears in the material. Kosh's eye opened and closed, clicking with rage. What security had been in place to stop the Ambassador from escaping froze in horror at a single word. a simple threatening command.


His officers backed down, terrified of the Vorlon. Garibaldi couldn't blame them for being scared, he was too. Unfortunately he didn't have the luxury of backing down, "Ambassador Kosh you are under arrest for murder and attempted murder. You are now persona non grata on this station, I will escort you to a cell where you will await deportation."

"Incorrect," The Vorlon ignored Garibaldi, gliding past him and down the corridor.

Michael ran after him, weapon raised, keeping pace with the Vorlon, "You killed people, you tried to kill me, you're making a mockery of everything that Babylon 5 stands for. And I don't much like it."

The Vorlon ignored him and continued to glide forwards.

"You know this means war?" The words sounded silly, even to Michael. The Vorlons were more than capable of stopping the Earth Alliance. Kosh did not deign to answer, "Of course you do... Vorlons know best don't they?"

He put himself in front of the Vorlon, "What gives you the right?"

"They consorted with the abyss," The Vorlon glared, "Darkness corrupts all."

"And were my security officers 'corrupt' or were they just in your way," Garibaldi pointed his pistol at the Vorlon's eye, "I can't stop you today. We both know that. But I won't let you kill anyone."

The Vorlon stared at him in silence; it's twitching optic's irritated buzz exacerbating the Ambassador's overwhelming nature. Motes of light shone from the gouges in the encounter suit, flickering in brilliant patterns across the crystaline blood dripping from the Vorlon's many wounds. Silence and more silence.

"Uh... this is the part where you threaten me or something..." Michael cleared his throat and waved his hand in front of the Vorlon. Kosh continued to examine him. Was it Kosh's wounds catching up to him? No, that wasn't it. Or at least it wasn't the whole story.

The Vorlon had been single mindlessly violent in pursuit of the Inquisitor, but only in pursuit of the Inquisitor. His attacks on anything else had been purely co-incidental. It seemed... unsure... as though it were hesitant to harm him.

As though he were ashamed of what he'd done.

"Look... Ambassador I can't let you keep doing what you're doing," Michael held his hands up, "I have to detain you... stop you."

"Unfortunate," the gun shot out of his hand, propelled by an unseen force as Kosh lifted Garibaldi out of his way with a slight effort of psychic energy. Garibaldi struggled against the Vorlon's telekinesis as he floated behind the Vorlon.

Security moved to stop him but a wave of blue energy burst from the Vorlon, undeniable psychic suggestion forcing the two dozen armed and armored officers into blissful sleep. They slumped to the floor, dreamy looks of comfort on their faces.

Michael kicked his legs, trying to free himself from the power binding him, but his body had ceased responding to his commands. He was aware of his body only vaguely, as though in a dream, watching through his eyes and speaking through his limps but otherwise an observer.

Michael focused his will on his right hand, grinding his teeth audibly in his effort to draw his sidearm. The PPG was tantilizingly close, just beneath paralyzed fingers. He could feel the shape of it, the weight of it, as he floated behind Kosh down a familiar set of corridors in Blue sector.

The Vorlon was heading for CnC, heading for the Captain.

And there was nothing he could do to stop it.

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Todeswind » 2012-03-21 11:54pm

Vir hadn't realized that he'd fallen asleep till the kick of the Endless Bounty's artificial gravity yanked him down into his seat jarring him back into the land of the living. His body, exhausted from the day's exertions, protested the lack of sleep agonizingly but there was nothing for it but to wake up and stare out the window.

They'd landed in a wide cargo bay, sweeping gothic columns and elaborate filigree marking it as the inside of an Imperial ship. Judging by the frenzied movements of the ship's deck crew, a ship in the throes of battle.

"Maker's breath," he swore angrily as he watched the filthy peasants toil around battle damaged snub fighters and bombers, "When will this day end."

"We're not through yet," chuckled the delirious Inquisitor, "Not by a long shot." The man was in a horrible state; his face was sallow and purplish where the flesh was puckering into bruised welts. His right eye, swollen shut from an obviously infected cut above his eye, oozed pus that dripped down across his cheek staining the thick coat he wore over his shattered armor.

Vira'capac's pointed command of, "Don't move man thing," was wholly unnecessary. Inquisitor Hilder was obviously not capable of walking under his own power. The concussed man wobbled drunkenly on his feet between the supporting arms of the two of them, muttering curses in his native tongue.

Tuul slung Cairn over a shoulder in an ungraceful fireman's carry and punched a button on the rear of the spacecraft, popping the hatch. The human psychics tried to follow the disembarking pilots but the tech priest refused, telling them to stay in the craft for safety reasons. They didn't want to be mistaken for stowaways or saboteurs after all. He sealed them into the ship before striding out into the utter chaos of the launch bay with obvious purpose, clearly aware of where he was going.

It was a quality Vir did not share.

Vir followed the Kroot, struggling to keep up as the alien waded through the crewmen without tripping over the two excited mastiffs. It wasn't a difficult task; the Imperial citizens avoided the three of them by at least three paces at all times. The crewmen went so far as to jump out of the way rather than risk slowing them down.

They were utterly, visibly, and unashamedly terrified of the man between them, even now. There was something in their eyes when they looked at the Inquisitor that he recognized, a low hollow desperation. It was the look slaves reserved for their master, near insulting in their practiced submission. He hated being looked at that way. It made him feel... unclean.

The crowd of crewmen gave way to an obvious triage. White smocked doctors toiled over the dying and the dead, aided by a multitude of hovering skulls armed with surgical tools. One of the doctors finished his final stitch and looked up at the Inquisitor, his expression of concentrated professionalism turning to genuine astonishment. His mouth curved into a disbelieving smile as he waved to a recently vacated cot, "Curabitur odio ver der andere Mann."

"Ille a poco zanyatyi," responded the Inquisitor from where Vira'capac laid him on the cot, "Quod coa morte me."

The doctor shook his head dismissively and injected something into the base of the Inquisitor's neck that knocked him unconscious in moments. As a dozen skulls descended upon the Inquisitor, cutting the clothing from his body, Vira'capac grabbed Vir by the shoulder and frog marched him from the makeshift surgery. Vir kept up a brisk hopping pace to match the lanky strides of the Kroot.

The hunter's talons pressed uncomfortably into sore muscles through the soft velvet of his jacket, guiding him through the cavernous passages of the Endless Bounty with practiced ease. Confused crewmen gasped in terror at the sight of them, ducking back the way they came or hurrying past them with conscious effort not to make eye contact. Three turns and two passages worth of confused encounters later they reached the Kroot's destination, a small vegetable garden of tubers and luminescent fungi hanging from the ceiling built around a truly gaudy fountain in the shape of some predatory cat.

The Kroot let go and sat cross legged on the ground in front of the fountain facing a stone bench, waving idly with his left hand to the open seat. Vir sat on the cool stone, glad to be off his legs, "What was that about?"

"Rushing from healer or cowards hiding," trilled the Kroot. Unnerving slitted eyes regarded Vir with predatory acumen, analyzing his every motion. They seemed to bore into his very thoughts, "Or something else?"

"All of them I suppose," Vir hardly knew where to start, "Start with whatever is most pressing."

"Wise," The Kroot pulled an obsidian pendant from his pouch and held it out to Vir. An I-shaped length of jet black stone with an ivory skull set in the middle of it twirled in the air as the Kroot rubbed the length of chain it hung from between his fingers, flashing glints of red light whenever the ruby eyes of the skull reflected off the light cast by luminescent moss, "We start with safety."

Vir winced as Vira'capac pressed the pendant against his thing and pressed on the right eye. A needle shot out of the icon and into his leg with lightning speed. He barely had time to yelp in astonishment before the needle retracted back into the obsidian case, "Watch it!"

"Done," Vira'capac squeezed the idol a second time, causing its eyes to flash before handing it to Vir, "Now safety is ensured."

Vir massaged his thigh in confusion, wincing as the garden shook with the impact of incoming fire. Hunks of luminescent moss shook from the ceiling, "What part of safety required injecting me with... whatever that was?"

"The Inquisitor granted the brood of Vira'capac special dispensation. Icons to indicate Kroot servants of Inquisition. Protection," the edge of his beak clicked in memory, "Blood in stone. Once entered cannot be changed. Cannot be altered. Safe."

"One use," Vir tucked the stone into a breast pocket, "But don't your brothers needed them?"

"Dead... long dead," the Kroot said in a far away croon, "Not all brothers used icons, silly uncomfortable things. Did not comprehend. Vira'capac kept the unused. Only one left. Authority Vira'capac's to use them. I use on you."

"I'm honored," Vir rubbed his hands together, "But I still don't understand exactly what I am being protected from."

"Osma for start," Vira'capac pointed behind Vir with one talon, drawing Vir's attention to a pair of crimson suited security officers holding unpleasant looking weapons pointed in their direction. Vira'capac remained on his knees and raised his hands behind his head as the large bearded man pushed him to the ground with a hobnailed boot, binding his hands and feet with thick iron manacles.

Vir stood up, raising his hands in a placating gesture to the bearded man and tired to say, "Peace man, he is your ally. What is wrong with you," but only got as "what" before the man smashed the butt of his gun into Vir's nose, knocking him out for the second time that day.

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Todeswind » 2012-03-21 11:55pm

The intervention of the Narn and Centauri ships was a welcome surprise. It was against Imperial military doctrine to accept xenos aide but then so was dying. He ordered his forces to protect his xenos allies as best they could. Loyalty should be rewarded, no matter displayed loyalty. These xenos believed they had a moral obligation to protect him and his.

It was hard not to feel camaraderie for those dying to protect you. A half dozen gutted warships; most of them from the fleet who'd tried to attack him littered the space around the Babylon station. The least he could do was return the favor.

"Mr. Andrews I need better accuracy on those ships," Sáclair maneuvered the ship to where he expected the second ship to be, firing the dorsal lance batteries in staccato bursts, "Solutions?"

"Sir, I'm not a miracle worker," Mr. Andrews eyes narrowed, clearly at the edge of his patience, "Nothing I can rig up will be better than Kerrigan's sensor package." He clamped his mouth shut, intimately aware of the taboo of speaking a mutineer's name. Many of the crew believed that speaking the name of a mutineer gave part of yourself to treason, that betrayal did not even deserve memory.

"Then start praying," Sáclair disconnected the communiqué in disgust. He hated how much he truly did need the Magos. Her understanding of the sophisticated modifications she'd done to the ship's systems was crucial if he intended to keep them at the peak efficiency that she'd upgraded them to. The skills of his own Enginseers were substantially more limited now that he no longer had Iino at his disposal.

Bioships prowled the void, predatory and menacing. A subtle edge of panic twinged through the machine spirit of the great ship, an overwhelming inevitability that prey feels when faced by a predator and robbed of both fight and flight. The Endless Bounty was loosing the fight against these damnable ships, they just refused to die.

He needed a miracle.

"Speak of the devil," Muttered Sáclair as the hailing identification number of Colonel Danzig flashed upon his hololith. He pressed one of the jewels encrusted into his throne, clicking an activation rune connecting the incoming signal, "I presume that my functioning gun batteries mean that you've been successful?"

"Yes sir," Danzig replied in a pleased voice, "Casualties have been minimal with only three fatalities prior to Kerrigan's surrender. I have accepted the terms of her total surrender on your behalf."

"Terms," Sáclair growled, "I offered no conditional surrender."

"My apologies milord," Danzig cleared his throat, "But they have offered their complete surrender in exchange for the lives of those in Kerrigan's service."

"But not Kerrigan," Sáclair grunted. It was in keeping with the arrogance she'd demonstrated so far to pull a stunt like this and expect no consequences.

"No sir," Danzig hesitated, "The Magos offered herself for their continued service to your ship and a promise not to punish them for her crimes."

"Very well," the servants of Kerrigan would do almost as well as the Magos herself for what he needed. In the light of treason "almost" would have to be enough, "You've done well."

"Sir," Danzig cleared his throat, "What do I do about the Magos."

"I would have thought that was obvious," Sáclair snarled as a knife sharp burst of pain erupted in his shoulders where dart fighters strafed the Endless Bounty. He could feel the wake of the deadly fighters strafing the Endless Bounty from behind. Dearing attacks piercing the ship's void shields and scoring the hull. He screamed in agony as an attack burst the bulkhead of aft sector 376 venting it to space, "Dispose of her and get her people back repairing my bleeding ship."


"Use your imagination," Sáclair snarled, "I hazard you can think of a punishment to fit the crime."

"Of course sir," replied the Lionheart as he disconnected the transmission, "At once sir."

Sáclair turned his attention back to pressing matters. It was time to do a proper bit of violence, "Lets show them how it's done old girl." machine responded to his every caress, gyrating and twisting in ecstatic ease through the debris of Epsilon III, hungry for revenge.

He could feel the smaller ships of the combined fleet supporting him shifting and moving around him like a school of fish, agile little fighters dancing around them in swirling pirouettes of destruction. The titanic bounty flipped hard to port, reveling in the rush of having regained control of his ship's weapons.

The Endless Bounty opened fire, sending torpedoes careening across the void of space towards the bio ship fleet. Fired blind the torpedoes were at the mercy of the enemy ships' protective countermeasures but even the most sophisticated of defense systems couldn't prevent the volume of fire launched from the Endless Bounty from connecting with something as large as the flagship bioship.

The salvo connected with the mottled green and yellow hide of the ship in a burst of heat and ichor, tearing out hunks of organic armor and fluids. It's odd purple innards seeped forwards into the injured body of the great beast, knitting its wounds shut only to burst as a second salvo hit the open wounds.

"Sir we're receiving distress calls from damaged ally fighters. I don't know if the rescue vehicles for our allies will reach them in time," Donat said in confusion, his need to reward loyalty warring with his distaste for xenos, "Shall I order our rescue ships to render aid?"

"Yes," Sáclair said without thinking, intimately aware of the damaged Imperial fighters being ferried back to the relative safety of Babylon Five by Alliance Fighters, "But keep them in isolation. We can give any that survive back to their ships later. The Emperor will forgive a moment's kindness."

The Narn darts and Centauri half moon ships were putting themselves in harms way for him, the xenos risking their lives to fight an enemy that they clearly unequipped to fight. It was cardinal heresy to feel that there were xenos worthy of trust, but even the primarchs spoke of xenos worthy of respect. One did not have to love a wolf to appreciate protection from a bear.

Their strategies were wildly different, the Centauri attacked with practiced precision, each step of an attack leading to a planned step beyond. The Narn fought irrationally, individual fighters tossing themselves at the enemy and pulling away without any visible strategies to them, though still somehow managing to operate as a cohesive unit. Neither of the xenos race's fighters were as maneuverable as the Alliance fighters, who seemed to dance through the sky.

The death screams of a Centauri warship echoed from the lips of his astropathic servitor, unintentionally broadcast by the psychic impression of their onboard telepath. The scimitar like Vorchan disappeared from his senses, all hands lost. A wing of the darts shot through the wreckage to conceal their advance. Scourging another Centauri ship before a fighter wing of Frazi class fighters intercepted them, the darts departed in a rush.

The main cannon of the enemy flagship fired, shattering the thin skin of warp energy protecting the Endless Bounty. Sáclair spun the ship upside down, forcing the beam to collide with the heavily armored underbelly of the Bounty instead of crippling the open gun ports. He winced at the damage report, fires on the lower levels near the foredecks.

"Just five more minutes for the warp engines to warm up girl," Sáclair whispered encouragingly to the ship's machine spirit, "Just hang on for five more minutes."

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Todeswind » 2012-03-21 11:58pm

Kerrigan hadn't immediately recognized the room as an incinerator when she'd been led to it. Danzig's insistence that Xerran and five of her attendants and five servitors accompany her lulled her into the assumption that Sáclair made the decision to be merciful. A life of captivity wouldn't be hundreds of servitors and attendants any more, but it was better than nothing.

In her gratitude she hadn't even protested that she and her attendants should be blindfolded on their way to the brig as a show of what happens to those who disobey Sáclair. It had been a poor choice.

When they reached their destination it had been Xerran to remove his blindfold first, Xerran to first realize their fate, Xerran who'd been the first to react, Xerran who'd been the first to die. He lashed out at their captors, forcing himself back through the door and trying to escape. A shot to the chest from a plasma rifle vaporized his chest and arms, killing him in seconds.

The thick door to the incinerator slammed shut with a final spinning click as the lock fit into place.

"You son of a bitch," Kerrigan screamed, her voice carried by an internal transmitter onto the ship's communication network, "I surrendered! I surrendered!"

Her attendants, mostly servants who'd been with her for the better part of the past five decades dropped their bags and rushed the door beating on it with their fists as the floor rumbled with the sounds of rumbling machinery. They scrambled at it like drowning rats as a thick stone slab lowered from the ceiling to block the door from the oppressive heat of the plasma discharge.

The stone walls were scorched and covered in little rivulets where the extreme heat pitted it, sold stone for 360 degrees. There were no computer inputs, no consuls, no doors to manipulate, no switches, and no hope.

A series of vents opened in the ceiling, and the scent of burning sulfur filled the chamber. The ashes of recent cremations puffed up in little clouds around her feet as she slumped down on her knees, her arms dropping to the ground in defeat, and sobbed, "Danzig let my people go! You promised me that all my attendants would be in service would be allowed to live."

She'd picked the five of them because they meant the most to her. They were the ones who were closest to her, servants who were as much family as attendants. She'd purchased Bizack when he was a child of five and raised him to be her secretary, personally overseeing the insertion of his memory engrams and alterations.

Gerra and Gertrude were maids tasked with preparing food and dresses, a mere formality for her own daily life but a necessity in dealing with nobles and the like. Gossipy, bubbly, and everything she wasn't they two of them served as vicarious outlets for her own unrealized femininity.

Regulus was an aging codger of a man but one couldn't hope for a better auto-savant. And the boy Galen, her most recent acquisition, showed great promise but even greater spirit. She kept him as much for his precocious nature as his proficiency at tidying her quarters.

They were killing her, and forcing her to watch those she loved die.

Forcing her to watch.

Heat haze came off the floor, blurring the five servitor constructs standing in the center of the room oblivious to the danger. She stared at them, searching for something she could get them to do, but nothing came to mind. These were logistical servitors, equipped for conducting minor repairs and manual labor, not cutting through bulkheads or blasting stone.

Smoke filled the room, acrid sulfuric stuff that sucked out the air and smelled of rotten eggs. Kerrigan rushed to help the aging Regulus and young Galen to put on their re-breathers, watching with horror as they suffocated while the oxygen left the room. Regulus took little effort but Galen was too young to understand what was going on, he wriggled like an eel crying out in pain. He was just too scared to co-operate as she yanked the mask over his face.

Gerra grabbed Gertrude and hugged her, closely pressing her forehead against the other woman's. The intimate gesture was only slightly hampered by the pressure mask as the lovers prepared to die in each other's arms whispering the words of the prayer of the eternal way, confirming Kerrigan's long held suspicions about them.

Bizak required no assistance but then again Bizak never did seem to be surprised by anything. She suspected that she might have done permanent damage to the part of his body that produced adrenaline when she inserted the brain augmentation that eliminated his need to sleep.

"Dazig, I beg your forgiveness," Kerrigan hugged the little boy to her, "Please!"

Flames burst from the outer ring, forcing them to the center of the room and scorching the floor. Superheated bursts of air kicked up the corpse dust on the ground, covering them all in a thin layer of grey. Kerrigan wiped the dust from her optics feverishly as she retreated to the center.

Another ring of fire shot down, blue flames sucking more and more oxygen from the room and forcing the rebreathers to work harder and harder to filter what little air remained. Kerrigan pulled a knife from her belt and punctured the necks of the servitors, severing their spines and killing them. There was no need to waste what little oxygen they had left on servitors.

Another ring of fire and Kerrigan removed her robe to wrap the boy in. It would give him some small measure of protection from the heat on his bare arms and legs. Regulus passed out, though she was at a loss to say if it was because of fear or lack of oxygen. His chest continued to rise and fall.

Another ring of fire and Kerrigan felt her skin blistering from the heat. Her servants screamed as their own skin pocked and cracked under the stress, she reached to give Bizak a comforting grip on his shoulder and flinched when he screamed and recoiled from her hand. Her red hot agumentics seared a print on his flesh, even through his shirt.

Another ring of fire and Kerrigan realized it would soon be over. The next ring would kill them with ambient heat alone, and three more rings would dissolve them into more corpse dust. She said the prayer of the Ominissiah's cogitation and waited for the end to come.

And waited.

And waited.

With a sudden whoosh of closing vents the fire went away, leaving the room bathed in darkness. The burned and miserable servants sobbed from the floor, moaning and too hurt to even stand. Kerrigan lifted the boy's swaddling, taking care not to touch the boy with her scalding limbs and was gratified to find him only superficially burned.

A voice echoed in her head, words like ice. Danzig replied, "The price of mutiny is death, but Abbas is alive because of your actions. He is also trapped because of your actions. A life for a life you will be marooned, not executed." It was as much mercy as Danzig was likely to summon in his heart for someone who'd sent one of his charges into the path of a demon.

Tears stung Kerrigan's eyes as she whispered hateful words of thanks to Danzig, honest in their brevity.

The ceiling parted and the boxy irregular form of a garbage scow lowered into the room. The sort of scow used for transporting a load of corpse dust to the hydroponics wings. Unarmed but heavily armored it was a slow plodding pathetic excuse for the ship, but it beat the empty night of space by lightyears.

Kerrigan loaded her followers and what was left of the servitors into the cab of the scow. She winced at every cry of pain from her cracked and bleeding attendants, but it was pain or death. Give the two pain wins every time. There was barely space for the five of them, and the pressure door's slow whistling seal indicated an ominously weak barrier.

Barely over the edge to being considered space-worthy, it was an ideal vessel for marooning.

Red lights flashed brightly from recessed points in the walls, indicating a wide set of double doors. A wide section of wall lifted, opening out into the vacuum of space. The blackness sucked the scow out into the void, tossing them into the raging battle.

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Re: The Circle Must Be Broken (40k / B5)

Post by Todeswind » 2012-03-21 11:58pm

The security officers at the doors of CnC collapsed to the floor, unconscious before the door swung ajar revealing a creature in mottled metallic green armor. Kosh rolled into the room like the thunder of a distant storm, an audible perception of the distant chaos. Lt. Corwin reached for his sidearm but stopped at a look from John, if possible this would not be resolved with weapons.

He couldn't hope to win a battle of straight up power. Luckily he'd never been one for fighting fair, or predictably.

"Ambassador Kosh," John kept his anger in check, though it stewed in the back of his mind, "I'm hoping you're here with one heck of a story explaining yourself."

"The third must not be allowed," Kosh growled by way of explanation, "The third is evil."

"You see I'm a bit hazy on exactly what the 'third' even is," John held up a finger, "Now I can guess that it probably has something to do with the so called 'demon' the Inquisitor fought, what he called the warp."

"Forbidden," the Vorlon intoned ominously, sparing a significant glance at Delenn. The Minbari shrank back from his gaze, trying to make herself smaller where she sat in ashamed silence. Whatever hold he'd suspected the Vorlon Empire held on Minbari affairs was apparently an under estimation.

"Dangerous enough to kill for?" Already weary, John rubbed the back of his neck to rub out some of the stiffness. His spine popped satisfyingly and he sighed sadly, "Dangerous enough to die for?"


"Not dangerous enough to kill the demon though," The Vorlon shifted slightly, narrowing it's optic. Good, John hadn't made the wrong assumption, "You waited for someone else to fight the demon before you risked it. There was something about it that was dangerous too you, too dangerous to risk approaching beforehand."

The Vorlon continued its silent observation. John smiled, "Not just the demon though, you've been avoiding the Imperial Ambassador entirely. It hadn't occurred to me to think of it as anything other than your normal reclusively but you've avoided even the pretense of diplomacy with the Imperials. You waited for the one to weaken the other, then pounced."

"Assumption is more dangerous than ignorance," the Vorlon's shoulders slumped in disappointment. The ethereal voice of the Vorlon sounded more like a disappointed teacher than an attacker, "You know little."

"Your forces will withdraw immediately," John cut in over the Vorlon's lecture, "If they do not I will be forced to take drastic action."

"The fangless will bite," Kosh intoned in a voice of regret, "And die...yes."

"Or they will enlist the help of a hound with a stronger bite," spoke a disembodied voice. A shimmering figure appeared in the center of the room, a portly Minbari with a well manicured bone crest and a wide grin, "One does tend to ask one's neighbors for favors on occasion."

The man clapped his hands together and bowed to Delenn, "Especially old friends."

"Draal," Delenn smiled fondly, "It is good to see you. You look well."

"I feel well, the machine has restored me to my former vigor of youth. I feel like a man of thirty," He slapped his generous belly contentedly, still reminiscent of the aging professor he'd once been, "And you would be Captain Sheridan. I've been watching you and I've come to decide I like you."

"Thank you," John held out his hand in greeting before remembering that Draal was a hologram rather than a physical person. He pulled back his hand, clapping nervously.

Draal quirked his eyebrow in amusement, "The gesture is appreciated."

"Too early for your role," Kosh narrowed his eye in confusion, "It is not time."

"And your place is not here and now," Draal replied, "We must all play our new roles. The caretaker plays his part."

Beneath the surface of the planet was a massive network of computers and devices of alien origin and unknown purpose known only as "The Great Machine." At the center of the machine, near where the machine drew power from the planet's core, was the so called heart of the machine where the caretaker controlled it.

Draal had taken over as caretaker when the previous caretaker's age exceeded the abilities of the machine's life extension protocols, giving him control of the machine and it's extensive planetary defensive weapons. Weapons that, judging by Draal's grin, were easily a match for the Vorlon fleet.

"It is forbidden," Kosh hissed.

"No Ambassador," Draal cut his hand through the air dismissively, pointing his fingers to the view screen, "Your vendetta against the Imperials is not stipulated within the terms of our pact."

"I must persecute crimes of the third," The Vorlon's voice was sad, reluctant, "It must not become what it was."

"You would know that best, wouldn't you," Kosh bristled at the apparent insult, "Withdraw your forces Vorlon."


"Ambassador Kosh this is the domain of the great machine, not the Vorlon Empire. You may have taken it in the last Ygnir war but it is its own domain," Draal's eyes narrowed, "And the Machine does not wish to allow this trespass."

"The machine serves the circle."

"The machine obey's itself and its caretaker, nothing more, nothing less," A mischievous glint flashed in Draal's eyes, "And I find myself disliking your arrogant bullying of those weaker than yourself."

And then the sensor grid lit up like never before.

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