The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

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Eternal_Freedom
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2019-06-13 01:30pm

Damn, I knew I forgot something. Anyways, next chapter is in the works everyone.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by fnord » 2019-06-14 05:52am

Only noticed it on a re-read - it looks like Sharpshooter's directly driving Nemesis (ordering the hangar decks that copped a pasting to be evacuated earlier) despite it being explicitly shown in Book 1 to have flag facilities. As he's been Jellicoe's flag captain during the little adventure out in Pegasus and should grok the payoff of separating the two spots, what gives?

I guess part of it is RHIP - if the senior Terran embarked admiral wants to drive his own flagship, so be it - but it's quite an apparent inconsistency.
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2019-06-14 01:45pm

Yeah I figure that Davies chose to command the ship directly since a) the rest of his normal group is assigned elsewhere and b) the only other ship int he ad-hoc task force is Jupiter which is flying Jellicoe's flag as Commander Battle Fleet.

Alternately, assume that for some unspecified reason the Warstar's actual CO is unavailable/injured/needed elsewhere. It's not terribly important if I'm honest.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by InsaneTD » 2019-06-16 05:58am

Some of that you could write off as an admiral trying new doctrines that he's gonna write about/suggest be put into effect.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2019-06-16 07:28am

That can work too. It does state that so far the Terrans have preferred hit and run tactics rather than staying for a slugging match.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by swelch51 » 2019-06-26 01:36am

Another great read as always. I have a nasty feeling that things are going to get even more expensive. 😎

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2019-06-26 01:22pm

Thanks! The next chapter is in the works and should prove quite the dramatic conclusion to the Battle for Reach.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by DKeith2011 » 2019-06-26 04:15pm

Am I the only one hoping to see a Babylon 5-esque "Get the hell out of our galaxy!" moment somewhere down the road?

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2019-06-26 04:19pm

You're the only one who has said anything so far, but that does give me some interesting ideas, especially as I've just started binge-watching B5 lately.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by DKeith2011 » 2019-06-26 04:23pm

Also, is anyone still getting notifications when there is an update here? I haven't gotten one since before the Brits went after the ground pounders.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by fnord » 2019-06-27 12:34am

Maybe Cole is the one who channels B5!Sheridan, assuming Preston survives that long?
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2019-06-30 07:03am

And we're back! This chapter brings an end to Act Four: Reach.

The Cole Gambit
UNSC
Everest, Reach Orbital Space


Preston Cole stood on his cavernous bridge with a furious expression on his face as his mind raced, trying to find a way to save Reach, the rest of the fleet and defeat the Covenant bastards they faced. Scenario after scenario ran through his brain, getting wilder and crazier as they went. He was just dismissing an idea to lure the Covenant fleet back into the gas giant Sanctuary and blow it up like he did to Viperidae when he had an epiphany:

The military situation is hopeless, therefore you need to try a non-military solution.

His mind sped off on this new tangent, mentally reviewing everything they had learned about their enemy. Not the ships or the weapons, but the Covenant themselves: an alliance of many races, subsumed by the will of the Prophets, their military efforts commanded by the Elites, or the Sanghelli as they called themselves. Proud warriors, easy to goad into avenging kith or kin or by direct challenge.

Maybe some kind of formal Honour Code? Cole wondered. He thought this had some potential so called for his faithful AI.

“Hilary, did you review the data obtained from the captured battlecruiser? Beyond the tactical and engineering data I mean.”

Hilary’s holographic form looked at him somewhat quizzically. “I did get a copy of the cultural data that was available from Dying Light, purely for my own curiosity of course. I haven’t had a chance to study it yet.”

Cole felt an unexpected sense of hope building within him. “Do so now. Look for anything like a formal honour code. If you find one, see if there are any provisions for parley or truce, anything that might by us some time. Anything that mentions dealing with the Forerunners as well would be useful.”

Hilary cocked his head to one side, decidedly reminiscent of a Labrador as he processed the admittedly fairly limited cultural data available from what had been a military vessel. While that went on, Cole went back to glaring at the tactical display and mapping out other ideas just in case. It took all of twenty five seconds for Hilary to complete the task.

“There is indeed a formal honour code Admiral. Sanghelli warriors who are deemed to be in breach of it face very severe penalties, even implying a fellow warrior has breached the code is grounds for a duel to the death.” Hilary could not hide his distaste for such a system.

“Fascinating as that is Hilary, does it contain anything that can be useful to us right now?” Cole was trying very hard to keep the growl of frustration from his tone as he said that. The tactical display showed the entire fleet, or what was left of it, clustering around the orbital structures, nursing their wounds as best they could beneath the Fortress shield. Only the Everest and the Shield of Eternity remained outside the shield, safely hidden under the Keyship’s stealth field.

“Yes indeed Admiral. There is a right to parley which can be invoked by either side, provided they have drawn blood so far in the contest or otherwise proved themselves a capable adversary. Given that you’re just about the most hated human in existence as far as they care, I think you qualify.”

“That’s good, it can buy us time but ideally we need them to leave. What else?”

“One article, added some time after the Covenant was founded, states that if an Oracle speaks, every Sanghelli warrior is honour-bound to listen and accept it as the absolute truth. Oracle is their word for Monitor, like Dying Light.”

Cole had another epiphany. If this worked, they could not only save the fleet and Reach but kick off a devastating civil war in the Covenant, buying vital time to shore up the UNSC’s defences and perhaps land a knockout blow at the enemy capital with one of the remaining NOVA bombs.

“Hilary, the Covenant believe they’re the Reclaimers don’t they? Told that by their thrice-damned Prophets?”

Hilary nodded. “Quite right Admiral. Ah…I see where you’re going. Learning they’ve been lied to, from a source they cannot doubt…oh yes, that could definitely work.”

“I’m glad you agree. Get me a channel to the other commanders; we’d better give them a heads-up as to what we’re planning. Given the ground situation, we have to act fast. Write up a script for me, if we’re invoking their honour code we need to get it damned well perfect.”

Elsewhere

The lightning-handed figure made a subtle nudge here and there, using as little influence as possible to get the desired result. Cole’s “epiphany” had what many would term divine inspiration. Now, a little extra help should seal the deal and have that fulcrum tip his way. It wouldn’t take much, just ensuring that a certain message arrived at a certain time.

Covenant flagship Long Night of Solace,
Approaching engagement range of the Fortress Shield


Imperial Admiral Wattinree was plotting his next move. The human’s efforts had caused more losses, now totalling almost a third of his initial force, but he would soon be in range to deliver an irresistible and devastating strike with all his forces at the tightly-grouped human vessels. The battle had been bloodier than almost any in this war but he had a definite sense that victory was within his grasp.

Part of his mind though took no comfort from this. He had thought many times that the humans showed almost infinitely more courage, conviction and honour in combat than many Covenant races did. The Unggoy where followers, nothing more, though a scant few rose above those limitations. The Kig-Yar were little better than mercenary sell-swords who had been brought into the fold by a simple ultimatum; “serve us or be destroyed.” The Jiralhanae were brutes, the Yanme were insectoid hive-minded drones with no imagination or personality, and the Lekgolo were generally peaceful unless riled up.

An unexpected thought wandered into the Imperial Admiral’s mind: destroying them would be a waste of lives, both ours and theirs. He had often considered the situation in a pragmatic fashion, and wondered if killing the humans would cause too many Covenant losses to win the seemingly-inevitable civil war. But he’d never before considered whether wasting humans lives would be an issue. A moment’s consideration showed it would indeed be a great waste.

And then that hated human voice blared across the comm channels, a general broadcast that no ship could miss.

”Attention Covenant forces, this is Admiral Preston J Cole of the UNSC Everest. I hereby invoke my right to parley under Article Three, Section Five of the Martial Code. You have two minutes to respond or you will be in breach of the Code.”

The gauntlet was thrown down. Admiral Wattinree stared dumbfounded at the comms station before his mind caught up with the sheer absurdity of a human, especially that human, asking for parley. Sadly, having publicly done so and in such a way, failing to grant this request would see Wattinree’s immediate death at the hands of the other Sanghelli on the command deck. Beside him, the Shipmaster who commanded Long Night of Solace tensed in surprise, but the words he spoke were not condemnation of the human, but admiration.

“Such honour they have, I haven’t seen the like beyond our own race. Why are we fighting these brave warriors, we should be recruiting them instead.”

Wattinree could only nod in agreement. He was beginning to suspect that this entire war was a mistake. The Prophets had been deceitful certainly, but to outright lie and initiate a long, pointless and deadly war? Even they could not be so arrogant. Nevertheless, Wattinree had to respond. He pressed a button for a general broadcast, one that would reach human and Covenant ships alike and engaged the translation protocols.

“Admiral Preston Cole, this is Imperial Admiral Xytan Wattinree, commander of the Covenant military. I recognise that you have drawn blood in this battle and I grant your request for parley under Article Three, Section Five. All Covenant forces, immediately cease offensive actions, parley is in effect. Admiral Cole, speak your mind in peace.”

With those words spoken, the Covenant would never be the same.

”Imperial Admiral, I would ask a question. Why did this war begin? Why are we as a species condemned to death?”

Of everything he could have asked, Wattinree had never expected that. The rules of parley gave each side a limited number of questions and answers, and for the human to waste one on a history lesson when the survival of his fleet and billions of civilians hung in the balance was lunacy. Or, he mused, a cunning gambit. He had no choice but to play along for now.

“Our leaders, the Prophets, discovered ancient relics on the world you knew as Harvest that confirmed that we were the Reclaimers, the chosen Heirs of the Forerunners and that they desired your destruction. That was reason enough, it was the will of the Gods!”

”And what if they lied? I have to tell you, they have. You are not the Reclaimers, I am. I am Preston Cole, Reclaimer, I wield the Halo Array, and I hold the fate of every living thing in this galaxy in my hands. You want proof? I can give it to you.” There was a moment’s pause and then a new channel opened, this one a visual feed. It showed an empty metal room, one clearly of Forerunner design and in the centre, floating serenely, was an Oracle.

”Greetings. I am 010 Dying Light, Monitor of Installation 00 and Commander of the Keyship Shield of Eternity, though I believe you Sanghelli would call me an Oracle. Preston Cole speaks the truth; the humans are the Reclaimers, the chosen successors. It is the duty of every Monitor to protect them to the best of our ability. Your Prophets lied to you.”

Wattinree was staggered at the sight. They knew the humans had an operational Dreadnought and that was bad enough, but they could have simply salvaged it much as the San’Shyuum had eons ago. But this…the Gods really had turned on them. Throughout the fleet, the faith of every Covenant soldier and spacer was broken. Their code demanded they believe this Oracle, but believing it meant abandoning everything they had fought and bled for these past years.

Wattinree finally found his voice. “Oracle… I…what can we do now?”

It was Cole who answered. ”You can leave and take the matter up with your Prophets. Leave this world and do not return. We have another of the weapons we used on your staging area primed and ready. If it detonates, your fleet will be annihilated. Ours will escape the blast. Go now. Confront your Prophets but let this war end.”

It was at this moment that the lightning-handed figure’s final manipulation came into play. The comms section leader stepped over, his voice urgent.

“Imperial Admiral, an urgent message from Supreme Commander Ursunee on the Heart of Midnight. His forces have arrived at the Ring of the Gods, but it has fired upon them! The Oracle commanding the Ring broadcast a message that the Reclaimer had forbidden anyone else from approaching the surface. What should he do now?”

That was final confirmation for Wattinree. Two Oracles had now sided with the humans against the Covenant. Lies were being told, and he was now certain it was the Prophets telling them. He had long dreaded this day coming, when the Sanghelli’s duty to the Covenant conflicted with their duty to the Prophets and the Gods. As feared a decision as it had been, it turned out to be a very easy one to make.

“All Covenant Forces, this is Imperial Admiral Wattinree. Prepare to disengage. Ground forces stand down and return to your carriers for extraction. All ships will prepare a slipspace course for the Heart of Midnight’s position. Admiral Cole, under Article Seven, Section Four of the Martial Code, I hereby request the right of safe withdrawal for my forces and offer a formal truce. We may never be friends but we need no longer be foes. My fellows seem to have more deserving targets for our guns now.”

Cole was silent for a moment as Hilary looked up just what that entailed and consulted briefly with Hood, Harper and Jellicoe. Finally, he gave his answer.

”Imperial Admiral, I hereby grant your forces the right to safe withdrawal. All UNSC and Allied forces, cease fire immediately, defensive actions only until further orders. I also agree to your offer of truce. UNSC and Allied forces will take no hostile action against your force unless fired upon. Go in peace and honour, and I wish you warrior’s fortune in your fight to come.”

Wattinree was surprised at that last part. His Shipmaster was right, these humans did indeed have great honour. He then did something that just days before would have been unthinkable. He slammed his fist against the chestplate of his armour and bowed his head slightly in respect.

“Warrior’s fortune to you as well Admiral Cole. Farewell.”

The channel closed and the withdrawal began. His scattered fleet groups formed up and recovered what few remaining fighters they had, while on the ground the Field Masters marched their army back to the twelve remaining light carriers that waited under the guns of HMS Dreadnought and her four escorts. Within twenty minutes the dozen carriers were fully loaded and burning for low orbit, all the while being tracked by the ODP’s just in case.

Half an hour after the truce was called, the remaining Covenant ships opened a veritable forest of slipspace portals and left the scene. The Battle of Reach had ended in a triumph for the human forces, but it had been a hairs-breadth away from yet another crushing defeat. On the Everest, the Jupiter, the Trafalgar, the Valiant, the Leviathan and the Pillar of Autumn the commanders sagged as the adrenaline began leaving their systems. Now they just had to count the cost and decide what the hell to do next.

End of Act Four

=============

Well there we go ladies and gents, a rather different end to the battle than I was expecting when I started writing it, but oh well!
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by fnord » 2019-06-30 09:11am

Yeowch. Will human forces end up intervening in the (apparently-now-inevitable) Covenant civil war?

How many times has this crazy ride morphed underneath you while you've been writing this?
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2019-06-30 09:58am

Since I started Book 1? This is probably the sixth or seventh unexpected curve it's taken. I'd written myself into a corner recently, the battle was too big and too bloody, an actual win for either side would have wiped out most of the other, leaving me with a lack of surviving characters or having to write improbably escapes for them.

As for whether the humans will get involved...of course they will. Cole still wants to ensure the Flood aren't released and/or the idiotic Prophets don't try and fire the Array. The rest of the UNSC want the Covenant leadership to pay for the war/genocide, even if the Sanghelli are no longer the main target of their ire. And Jellicoe, Baird et al, they want to make sure no more human worlds aren't burned int he crossfire (which given the preponderance of Forerunner relics on human worlds is a distinct possibility. Remember, the Prophets know where two Halos are...and Earth, home of the Portal. Even with all the ODP's and the refitted ships, there is nothing the UNSC could do short of going full scorched Earth with NOVA bombs if High Charity decides to bullrush Earth.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by LadyTevar » 2019-06-30 07:21pm

The Honorable Lady Kathryn MacLuing had been holding her breath long enough that she actually swayed in relief when the Sanghelli actually asked for peaceful withdrawal. "Let's never get that close again, shall we?" she muttered, knowing full well how close the battle had come to total annihilation.
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2019-07-01 12:40pm

Oh that's good, that's definitely going in the post-battle chapter.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by LadyTevar » 2019-07-01 10:22pm

Eternal_Freedom wrote:
2019-07-01 12:40pm
Oh that's good, that's definitely going in the post-battle chapter.
YAY! It just popped into my head as something I'd do/say.
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Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.
"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP" -- Leonard Nimoy, last Tweet

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by fnord » 2019-07-02 07:18am

Maybe "Deliverance(?)", pts 1 and 2 (from 'Umie and Covvie POV, respectively), then "So Clear Tonight" for the next three chapters as the "WTF was that?" breather, then on to "Desperation" as the Covvie civil war kicks off?
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Natzo » 2019-07-02 12:40pm

And the British don't sag, unlike their counterparts. True steel.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2019-07-02 03:31pm

In all honesty not including Dreadnought in that list was partly an oversight, I was mainly aiming at the commanders and while Baird is leading the Tau'ri contingent he's mostly been under either Jellicoe or Whitcomb's command. But yeah, it does fit doesn't it :D

LadyTevar: I think it fits perfectly with my interpretation of the UNSC mindset at this point. They've seen twenty-seven years of losses and retreats, any thoughts of glory are long gone. Now, it's more a grim resolve, so a "I don't wanna do that again" fits nicely.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by DKeith2011 » 2019-07-02 08:41pm

This is where things get interesting.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by LadyTevar » 2019-07-03 09:46pm

Eternal_Freedom wrote:
2019-07-02 03:31pm
In all honesty not including Dreadnought in that list was partly an oversight, I was mainly aiming at the commanders and while Baird is leading the Tau'ri contingent he's mostly been under either Jellicoe or Whitcomb's command. But yeah, it does fit doesn't it :D

LadyTevar: I think it fits perfectly with my interpretation of the UNSC mindset at this point. They've seen twenty-seven years of losses and retreats, any thoughts of glory are long gone. Now, it's more a grim resolve, so a "I don't wanna do that again" fits nicely.
I was assuming the Dreadnaught had taken a beating, and THLady was fully convinced that she might not live through this, but holding up for the Crew's Sake
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Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.
"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP" -- Leonard Nimoy, last Tweet

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2019-07-04 01:00pm

That would also fit her growing characterisation very nicely, I shall make a note. As for Dreadnought, she took a beating but not serious one - her shields were only just "failing" when Cole made his gamble, so actual internal damage is limited. And it fits nicely that the RN guys remain stoic to the bitter end.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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LadyTevar
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by LadyTevar » 2019-07-04 11:37pm

Eternal_Freedom wrote:
2019-07-04 01:00pm
That would also fit her growing characterisation very nicely, I shall make a note. As for Dreadnought, she took a beating but not serious one - her shields were only just "failing" when Cole made his gamble, so actual internal damage is limited. And it fits nicely that the RN guys remain stoic to the bitter end.
She was also holding her breath to see if Cole could pull it off.
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Eternal_Freedom
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2019-07-05 01:18pm

Duly noted :D
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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