Monday, November 26, 2007

A Bane Encounter.

**little bit different entry. I'm trying to brush up my skills on writing fiction. I'd like to get hired as a scenario writer for gaming, but with the majority of my online fiction consisting of the encyclopedia entries on Callaer, I don't have much to point to. So, I'm trying my hand at some fiction again. This story takes place in Tabula Rasa, but not in the current continuity. This takes place in a continuity where Bane ships can be taken as clan housing, and the AFS have captured a Bane Assault Frigate. This story also involves other players, taken from an old Planetside Vanu Outfit, Band of the Hawk**


A Bane Encounter

I sat there lounging back in my captains chair, an eye on the monitors. Out of the corner of my eye Ryeata was cleaning his net guns, giving them that extra special touch. In some ways, it was odd. We had only taken this ship from the Bane a few weeks ago, yet had already made it home. As my eyes rolled back over the main consoles I checked off the reports from FoxCat and CableDog. Nothing to report from them either. FoxCat indicated that Concordia Divide was as barren as it could get with no major Bane activity for hours. The same with CableDog's report from Palisades. I tapped the screen and grabbed the latest feed from High Command. Bane activity was at an all time low, and something was wrong. "Hey Ry?" My compatriot stopped his cleaning and looked up and over. "Yeah Z?" I paused for a couple seconds then brought up the dimensial maps for Concordia and Arieki. "What do you think about this lull?"

Ry thought for a few seconds, then put the incendiary net gun down, stood up, and walked over. "My guess is they probably found a new planet and pulled back forces for a while to keep us on our toes." I looked at Ryeata with puzzlement in my eyes. "Care to explain how you came to that conclusion?" Ry flumped down into the other captains chair, closed his eyes for a minute, then spoke choosing his words carefully. "They had to pull back for some reason right? It can't be a major offensive assault. Everytime they want something back on the Conts we have they just flood the CP's, junk the supplies, and hammer our bases keeping us locked in the med. So, they must have found something out there that they want more."

I ran my eyes over the maps one more time. Could Ryeata be right? Could the Bane have possibly opened up a new offensive? Why would they pull back forces from the planets we held? They never seemed to have any shortages before. Ryeata's theory just didn't add up. About that time I noticed a flickering warning in the lower monitor. Tapping the icon revealed a MayDay from Planet Arieki, specifically the communications tower. I pointed at the message to Ry, and we nodded. We had been doing this for so long it was almost automatic to accept the mission and link it for the bounty.

Our ship is only about 30 feet long, little more than a Bane Commander's private yatch. With only 6 real bunks, there wasn't much else to the ship other than the Command Center. Thus it didn't take us too long to prep our gear and activate the warp point. We kept it turned off most of the time while somebody was on board to discourage the more Creative Bane from using the Ship Warp point to avoid the random warp spawn defenses we had... added. All I'm saying is that a little laser turret in a magnetically shielded command center makes for a lot of Bane Sushi. Anyways, we tapped the ships onbaord warp point and popped over the High Command Cruiser.

The High Command Cruiser was a little different than our private yatch. At 3 miles long it was one of the largest ships that had been captured from the Bane. Most of the important parts of the ship, exampling the helm and exterior warp controls, had already been cleared and properly protected with stationary turrets, force fields, and the non-logos receptive APU forces. Originally we had used warp points built into the ship to get around the varios locations. The original plan had not lasted for long as the Bane were not going to give up the ship that easily. The Bane constantly assaulted the ship with long range random teleports into non-shielded sections, carrying ECM devices with each wave. The constant wave upon wave of Bane had effectively neutralized the Interior Warp Points, although their need to keep spawning in prevented them from interferring with teh External Warp Points.

While our scientists and engineers worked to convert the ships interior warp points to AFS secured devices immune from the Bane ECM devices, we were stuck with having to run where ever we wanted to go. That meant a near mile treck from the Bane's old Ship to Ship warp system to the loading platform's Warp Gate tying into the planetary systems. A near mile through several Bane Squads that wanted their ship back and were quite willing to die in order to achieve that goal. Thankfully that gave us some time to think about the MayDay from the Arieki Communications Tower.

FoxCat and I had been through there less than a week ago, successfully resecuring the main control room. We had left a couple of Privates and a Corporal there to maintain communications with the outside world, and had left the lower levels in the capable hands of the non-receptive AFS forces. I didn't want to believe that the Tower had been comprimised, not within a weeks time. As I mused about the Tower I plowed through the last of the Bane in my way, freezing the monstrousity with my Cryo shotun, then kicking right through him, over a ledge, and a 20 foot drop to the forcefield for the loading docks. I heard Ry thump to the ground next to me and we sprinted through the field, past the refueling dropships and into the gate.

Once we spawned on Arieki, it was just a sharp right turn to the Drop Ship pad, which was sitting their waiting. I glanced at the pilot as I hopped aboard noting that it was a older corporal, probably grateful for the relatively stressless job of having to dodge Bane aerial attack drones. A few minutes later we popped on the Incline. Ortho, perhaps the most secure control point out of the entire AFS areas. It had never been taken by the Bane, prompting questions about why it had not been converted into a full base yet. The answer was pretty simple, the Bane came knocking so many times no work could be accomplished. As we passed through the Ortho warp point and into Plains post I began to wonder again... Were we too late? Had another force arrived before us?

We crested the hill and ran into the Tower at a dead run. As the doors opened I dived for the nearest potrusion to shield myself as Ryeata went full stealth and dropped to the floor panning the hallway with his tourqeshell cannon. "Clear!" he yelled, and I popped around the corner shotgun at ready. I charged to the next potrustion and slammed against the wall, crouched while popping my incendiary polarity gun. I gave the handsignal to move as Ryeata picked up from his position and charged forward to drop and roll into position for the next hallway. This time, no clear was given, and I looked over at my pal. Then the mic went off: "Nothing." I blinked and hit my own mic button: "What do you mean nothing?"

Ryeata sat up and holstered his tourqueshell cannon. "Nothing. The place is ghost. No APU, no guard, no meds, no nothing. I don't like, not one bit. I say we call some crunchies to go ahead of us." I joined him and looked down the hallway to where the first guard set should have been. Ry was right, nothing was there. "No... if there is a problem we may not have time for reinforcements. I'll go first, hang back and cover me in case I need to self destruct." Ry nodded as he readied his netguns and I readied my shotguns. Our current plan was a reversal of the previous process. I went first clearing each hallway as Ryeata hung back. Thing was, his tourqueshell cannon was only really effective at a distance. In the tower, distance was hardly a factor, so every meter we could add to his range was one we might need.

Ry was right though, this place was a ghost town. The old fortification was void of any signs of AFS soldiers. Not even the bloodstains remained from previous battles. We eventually reached the tertiary control room to find the interior teleporter offline. "I'll go grab it" Ry offered. "Are you sure you remember how to press the buttons?" My joke was met with grumble. Hey, it wasn't my fault that his prank-call to a major on the AFS high command channels would get routed to General Cuppa. I thought she took being given the raspberry rather well; Ryeata only had to peel potatoes for 3 weeks. A few seconds later the teleporter started back up and Ry joined me again. Knowing that shotguns normally didn't have a place in Ry's typical loadout, I tossed him one my Cryos, and through the teleporter we went. My fears of encountering ExoDus were soon laid to rest, the robot was not there. The missing AFS soldiers, however, were. Staked to the wall with various bladed instruments.

"Um..." Ryeata looked as puzzled as I felt. "Yeah... we should radio this in" I said as I stepped up to the radio transmitter. "It's broken" I said a few seconds later. Ryeata looked over from where he was taking pictures. "Can you fix it?" I was already pulling out the equipment repair tool, so Ryeata nodded and proceeded to go back documenting the carnage. As I worked the repair tool I could hear him stating the names of the deceased into his mic, and the click and flash as each high-res photo was captured into his suits memory. Then, the worst sound that we could ever hear occured. The teleporter fired up. Somebody was coming through. Ryeata was relatively safe with his stealth bonus. I, on the other hand, was a sitting duck. I couldn't work the tools and fire the shotgun and all I needed was 10 more seconds, so I was reliant on Ry to blast whatever was coming through.

Suddenly two figures rolled through, one to the left and one to the right. AFS uniforms, a Medic and a Grenadier from the looks of it. It took me a second to realize I knew them. Ry took care of the greetings, by simply laying a hand on Ravinn's shoulder, and a well placed "Hi." She responded by lighting his face up with an incendiary shotgun. Ah well, at least Ry won't have to shave for a few weeks. Decimata stood up as he slid his rocket launcher into it's holster. "Greetings Zeria. Looks like you got the mayday as well. What's going on here?" Decimata stepped forward taking a moment to take in the scene. "I don't know Deci, we just got here from our clan ship." With a click I finished repairing the radio and Ryeata went back to documentating the names of the deceased and collecting their dog tags.

I turned around to look at Deci: "What's really puzzling is that none of these soldiers were caught by the medical recovery system. I think that is a bit more disconcerting than the fact that they died." I walked over to one of the APU units and ran a hand over the remote broadcast unit. "This should have gone off the second the pilots life signs went null, but it didn't." Decimata joined me and looked at the device. "You'd almost think the Bane have figured out how to block the medical recovery system" he said. Ravinn suddenly spoke up, "Guys, I think you had better come look at this." We hurried over and found Ravinn holding a data chip in her hand, a really old data chip. "I found this in the hand of the private" she told us, before adding "I think I can go ahead and tap them back into the medical recovery system and have their bodies transferred to Irendas's Hospital. Won't do them any good, but that is a better place to examine the bodies."

We nodded for her to do so as we looked at the data chip. "I wonder what could be so important for a private to have a death grip on this thing" Decimata commented. "I don't know, but I should probably turn it over to High Command immediatly" I responded as I packaged the chip up. We heard the humming start as Ryeata and Ravinn started popping the decased back into the Medical transport system. We made a quick radio report to Ortho requesting a heavier guard to be stationed at the Tower's Entrance and began our trek back. As we cleared the entrance, we heard several dropships lift off as near full Battalion of troops marched into the base. Colonel Hogan greeted us, introducing his receptive's NewKerk and Kartar. With the tower resecured we headed back to Irendas to catch our warp back to the AFS High Command Ship.

Decimata and I talked over the way. Neither one of us liked the lull in the Bane attacks, and the creepy event in the Communications Tower. Did we have a 3rd party involved with the Bane, or was that Eloh back on Concordia right... were we dealing with something a little bit beyond what we thought?
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