• Published 8th Aug 2013
  • 1,838 Views, 136 Comments

Machine And Might: Far Horizon Of Stars - Kriegor



War between people, war between worlds. It all happened, in its own way. What's left is a planet where species live together, a mix of harmony and chaos. A planet with an uncertain future. Welcome, to 'New Earth'.

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Tagtram

Machine And Might: Far Horizon Of Stars

Tagtram

A round, metallic table inside a large hall. Holoscreens lined the walls, their flickering displays casting a dull glow upon their mounted walls. Commander Pipsqueak sat quietly at one end, along with several high ranking officers of the Vector. His suit’s mechanical hands sat upon the metallic surface, silently listening as the other officers discussed their thoughts about the coming battles. On several occasions he had considered speaking up, but nevertheless, he ended up choosing to keep his thoughts to himself.

He had to admit, he was scared, and he wasn’t the only one, most likely. The Ubor were a fierce enemy, capable of things beyond his imagination. “Doesn’t matter,” he thought. “We’ll pull through.” It’s what he kept repeating to himself. All he really cared about was his squad, and making sure they survived to see the light of the next day. Even then, he knew, only the strongest would make it. Just how strong were his companions?

Pipsqueak took his eyes away from his suit’s mechanical hands, and looked into the holoscreens. The briefing was about to begin.

Just on cue, the main blast doors leading to the Vector’s command hall slid open, making way for the Vector’s Infantry Commander: Gilda. Pipsqueak had barely enough time to register the entry, as he automatically stood up and saluted, as the other officers followed suit. The gryphon hen nodded, prompting the officers to sit down and lower their salutes. She walked over to her seat and sat down.

“Guardsmen,” she dictated. “As you all know by now, we, the Vector, have been assigned for impromptu dispatch towards the Ubor battlefronts.” She waved her right foreleg, commanding a holographic display to light up in the center of the table, showing a crystal perfect picture of the Milky Way galaxy. On it were several markers, colonized planets, besieged planets, and more. “Our first objective is the liberation of the multi-species colony Tagtram. Now, the Ubor are there en masse, and I know that almost all of you...” she glanced over at Pipsqueak, who nodded in return. “As well as your subordinates, have never seen an Ubor apart from history books and the like. What matters is that we will brush them off of the planet as the flies they are. We will be supported by the Alpha-Six hundred Guard legion of the USC, so we won’t be fighting alone.”

“The plan is simple,” the hen stated. “We will be arriving at the dark side of the planet, behind one of the moons. The main core of the counter-offensive will be hotdrop troops, who will assist the local resistance militias in their evacuation. Mechanized infantry will follow, dropping into the main planetside clusters of the enemy, along with the Alpha-Six hundred Legion. Our main role is to evacuate any and all civilians and injured from the planet. Afterwards, all forces will converge on ground zero of the Ubor invasion, and scrape them off of the planet while our ships take care of their own vessels… Further refinements to our strategy will be made as the data becomes available, so have yourselves ready to attend more in-depth planning sessions as we approach our target world."

“The enemy will show no mercy,” Gilda continued, standing up. “So let us show them no respite. They won’t give up.” She planted her palms against the mirror-smooth table surface. “Neither will we.” Gilda then began to turn around, nodding at the conglomeration of officers. “Dismissed.”

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It was a couple of days after the Ubor invasion of her homeworld had begun, and Anne Lance was having just as little luck as the previous two days in her militia camp. Being the oldest of the children in her tent, it had been decided without discussion that it was her duty to get the food for the other kids.

The camp itself had been set up in a farm complex on one of the districts of her planet. Warm, and food was not a problem. She walked between the many tents and impromptu buildings, not daring to even glance at the guards, who with a mix of sleep deprivation, malnourishment and anxiety did not react well to pretty much anything.

She was dragging behind herself a large rucksack of food and water bottles. Her feet were sore from all the walking, since the camp, as improvised as it was, got larger every day the more refugees arrived.

She finally arrived at her tent, brushing the flap aside for her to enter. “Food’s here!” she called out, and from the many sleeping bags set all around inside, several children of the three main species got up, heading for her. First was a Gektar hatchling: a tiny insectoid who walked up to her and purred. Anne smiled, reaching into the bag and taking out a pack of dextro-DNA food, leaning down and handing it to the Gektar. It purred again and brushed its small set of arms against her legs, then rushed over to its siblings, sharing the food.

Next was a human boy, who without word, took the food and water out of her hands and silently walked over to a corner, sighing. “What’s up with him…” Anne muttered silently.

“He watched, his parents as they were slaughtered,” the voice of a young Lakuran, honest as they always were, reached her senses. Anne turned back to the front, seeing the tall, slim lizard-like figure of a Lakuran female child looking down upon her.

Anne reached into the bag, looking for Lakuran food as she talked, “Do you think he’s gonna be okay?”

“Humanae are strong,” the Lakuran replied. “I would suspect that he will pull through.” Anne handed the food and water over to her. “Thank you, much.”

So were the next fifteen minutes spent, with Anne handing out the food for the other children in the tent. Afterwards, she was left with half a ration for herself. She dropped the empty rucksack and walked over to her sleeping bag, sitting down on it. Shortly after, she opened up the ration and pulled a sizeable granola bar. As she munched on it, she continuously glanced over at the Gektar hatchlings, who after sharing the food with one another, fell silent, looking down onto the floor. Eventually, one of them caught her glance, and did little hops to get over to her, followed by the rest of them. They formed a circle around her, Anne looking around, confused, until they cuddled against her form, probably looking for somewhere warm.

A low chuckle took her attention to the side, finding herself looking at the same Lakuran as before. “Interesting…” the alien muttered. “They have assumed you as their matriarch, most likely for the food.”

“I-...” Anne blushed, looking down at the tiny insectoids. “I mean…”

“I suggest just… ‘going’, with it. They need a mother figure, ‘specially now.”

Such were the last words of the Lakuran before she walked away, leaving Anne alone with a small group of Gektar hatchlings to take care of. She calmly finished her meal and laid down, instantly falling asleep due to how tired she had grown.

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It wasn’t long. Something woke Anne up, something powerful and loud. She gasped and sat up, as well as all the other children in the tent. The particular sounds of gunfire, pained screams and explosions reached the tent from outside. The hatchlings were in panic, hiding behind Anne and desperately clutching to her skirt.

A low, metallic growl quaked the ground below them. “They’re here…” some of the children muttered, some began to cry.

“AAAH I DON’T WANNA DIE-!” was one of the screams that Anne and the children could hear, before it was suddenly cut off with a fleshy sound. She looked over at the corner of the tent, where that same boy from before was standing.

“What’re you doing?!” Anne yelled out. “Get down!” The boy did not react to her, instead just keeping his eyes locked onto the exit of the tent.

“W-we have to get outta here!” he cried out. “I-I’m not staying here, screw that!” He suddenly took off, heading for the exit. Anne cried out after him, getting up and making a last attempt to grab him, but it was too late, he had already ran out of the tent.

She stood still, not daring to chase after him. Slowly, she turned around, finding the eyes of every single child locked onto her. “I-It’s gonna be okay… I think…” she muttered, when a metallic hand reached into the tent and grabbed her by the neck, lifting her up. The children screamed in panic, as the hand twisted itself, making Anne look into the red, glowing eyes of her attacker. She had just enough time to count just how many eyes it had, and to register all the razor sharp teeth waiting for her, before something shot it in the back, forcing the attacker to drop her, leaving her coughing on the floor. The metallic beast continued to receive shots, eventually falling to the side with loud clunk and quake. The hatchlings rushed over to her, making their best attempt to pull her further into the tent.

She looked behind herself, as another figure brushed the tent flap aside and revealed itself. It almost looked like a small Guardsman, besides the three fingers and weirdly-jointed legs. Whoever it was, talked to an unseen figure, “We’ve got a lot of children here! Prep for immediate evac!”

“Come on, line up and get ready to move!” the armored being yelled. The children, scared, did not react. It lifted its visor, revealing an almost human face, besides the fur and the long muzzle. “Look, we’re here to help you, okay?” The being crouched into the tent, it’s friendly face building up confidence within the children’s hearts. “Fall behind me, we’re bringing you to somewhere safe.” It stood up, turning around to exit the tent.

Breaking out of the shock, Anne stood up and grabbed the smallest of the hatchlings, holding it in her arms. “Come on! We have to get out of here!” she yelled at the others. Slowly, they stood up and fell in line.

“On my go…” the being yelled. “Go!” Rushing out of the tent, followed by Anne and the children. Outside, they were met with the smell of something burning. Anne couldn’t see, she couldn’t be bothered to see, what was happening all around. She just ran after the odd being, heading towards a single dropship. Explosions blasted around them, before they arrived at the vessel, together with other refugees. It began to lift off, but Anne noticed that one of the hatchlings had fallen behind. “H-Hey!” she yelled out. “We’re missing someone!”

The ship was already too far up for the hatchling to reach. Anne rushed to the border of the ramp and extended her arm, desperately trying to grab it. “No!” she yelled. A blue aura encompassed the hatchling, together with pained grunts coming from several of the oddly-jointed beings inside the ship, their faces twisted in agony. Slowly, the hatchling began to rise from the ground, kicking around it’s little legs before arriving at Anne’s arms. She stepped back as the ramp closed, catching a glimpse of the destroyed camp. The hatchling purred and snuggled against her.

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The dropship rumbled. “This is some ride, eh?” Corporal Jamble said, receiving a stoic look by part of his sister. Pipsqueak disengaged the magnetic locks of his seat and stood up.

“Guardsmen,” he said, holding onto a rail on the ceiling. “Now that we’ve evacuated most of the civilians, our objective is to head to the main planetary defense complex that the Ubor have set up. We’re moving by ground, obviously, into the middle of a dry lake. That’s where their complex is set up.”

The ramp began to lower itself, revealing the warm sun of the planet. Without a word, Pipsqueak motioned his squad to exit the dropship. Once they were all out, he stepped outside himself. The first thing that caught his eye was the massive convoy that had been set up amidst the improvised outpost. The constant flow of soldiers going to and fro was also something that was worthy of attention.

Pipsqueak walked over to his squad, pushing through the line of soldiers. “Follow me,” he said. “Our ride’s nearby.” He turned around, beginning to walk towards their APC.

“First time I’ve been in one o’ these!” Ramble mused to herself.

“Who’s driving, by the way?” Jamble asked.

Kent turned to them. “Private Mirror.” Afterwards, he looked over at the gryphon hen, along with the twins. Pipsqueak pointed to their designated vehicle. Guiding each of his squad members into it, he moved in himself.

The Commander took his seat inside the APC, Mirror moving over to the driver’s seat. “You all ready for this?” he asked, receiving nods from the rest of them. He adjusted himself and turned on the magnetic locks of the seat. Shortly after, the engines turned on, signalling the start of the ride.

“Can’t believe we're on another planet, sis!” Jamble exclaimed. “Stuff like this? Shit, I never thought I’d live to get outta New Earth.”

“Yeah…” Ramble shook her head. “It’s nice, minus all the stuff that’s trying to kill us.”

“Good thing is,” Pipsqueak piped up. “We’re doing the same thing to them.”

“We’re crossing the dry lake now, peeps!” Mirror called out. The rest of the squad looked out through the viewports, seeing the massive, flat expanse they currently found themselves in.

“Why did the Ubor set up in the middle of this place?” Kent asked.

Pipsqueak shrugged. “They can see things coming from miles away, and have complete control over the air. The only way is through.”

The ground below the APC quaked. “What the hell…?” Jamble muttered.

“Get on the guns, I think we’ve come across Ubor diggers!” Mirror yelled out. The engine roared through the cabin as Mirror opened up the throttle, and the APC rattled across the ground. The whine of the turret motors joined the engine, and soon the thunder of gunfire thudded through the steel walls. For those inside the APC, all they could do was wait, listening to the storm of death crashing outside.

“Damn it!” Pipsqueak yelled as he stood up inside the troop bay, punching open the hatch that led to the gun turret. He popped outside, just in time to see a massive, mechanical worm-like machine dive over the APC, and crash into a nearby tank, swallowing it into the ground. “Ramble! Get on the other turret!” He grabbed a hold of his respective gun, opening fire as another digger dove up and down the sand.

Now it was the two, Pipsqueak and Ramble, firing their turrets at the diggers along with the rest of the convoy. One of the diggers leaped up from below, preparing to swallow down Pipsqueak’s vehicle, only to be hit by a tank shell. The Commander covered his head as the debris fell down, then continued firing. Shortly after, another leaped over the APC, firing down a beam of plasma that melted away part of the top half of the vehicle. Pipsqueak dove down back into the troop bay, just as another beam finished the job, completely cutting off the top half of the troop bay, leaving those inside exposed. “Open fire!” Pipsqueak yelled out as he engaged the magnetic locks of his suit’s feet and reached over his back, grabbing a hold of his gauss rifle. He aimed up at a nearby digger and began to unload. “Aim for the mouth!”

Meanwhile, Jamble and Ramble were busy assembling a launcher. Pipsqueak looked over to them as he reloaded, nodding.

“Just a few of them left!” Mirror yelled out, fighting hard against the terrain the APC was crossing.

From the back, a digger jumped out of the sand, heading for a devastating blow on the already beaten up APC. Pipsqueak had just enough time to turn to it, before Ramble fired the warhead contained inside the launcher, hitting the digger square in the head, disposing of it.

Without a waste of time, the Commander turned to the front, seeing the massive planetary defense complex already nearby.

They had made it.

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There was silence on the bridge. Even the Vector's crew seemed subdued, in these final moments before battle. It was a battleship, one of humanity's greatest, and yet many who crewed it today had never seen it in action. Today, the Vector returned to war.

Luna did not know what to expect. All she had done so far was stand in the middle of the Command Bridge, listening to the chatter between the technicians as it came and went. Spotting Commander Gilda nearby, she made her way through the flow of crewmembers and stood next to the hen’s armored, bipedal figure. Gilda nodded to her, at the very least acknowledging her presence.

“Attention,” the Vector’s integrated voice spoke up. “All crew members, prepare for immediate engagement.”

The former Princess looked on through the main holoscreen, seeing as the Vector began to take speed and move over to the light side of Tagtram, along with several other, smaller ships of the Colonial Guard. For one moment, as the sun revealed itself, the screen polarizing to compensate for the glaring brightness, Luna was able to catch a glimpse of the burning megacities of the planet, before her eyes were taken avast by the Ubor fleet, orbiting the planet. Silence. She contained any sort of response upon seeing the alien vessels, which quickly began turning to face the Vector and the other ships.

Suddenly, all the chatter returned. The crew analyzing the range between the enemy and friendly fleets. The viewscreen lit up with several crosshairs, targeting the myriad of Ubor ships. On the corner of Luna’s eye, Gilda clutched her suit’s mechanical fists. “On my mark…” the gryphon said. The Vector’s targeting measures still adjusting to lock onto the enemy fleet.

“Mark! Engage all hostiles!”

Energy and kinetic projectiles began their course between both sides. Luna’s eyes widened as the swarm of fighters were freed, colliding against each other in a swirling mass of fire and gunfire. For that one moment, she could see as the main weapons of the Vector struck against the Ubor mothership, and at the same time, the Vector itself receiving hits, thundering throughout the whole vessel. But, it were only the shields for now. She knew both sides had heavy energy shielding, but the question was: who would be uncovered first?

The fleets continued to approach each other, providing grounds for even more hits to be delivered, as the distance between both diminished.

It was nothing like Luna expected. Instead, the entire battle was silent, at least from within the bridge, and all she could do was to watch as the two sides exchanged fire. The Vector quaked every time it was hit, but that was it. She felt a need to take part in the battle, so strong that even Gilda could sense it. “I know, I feel it too,” the gryphon hen muttered.

All luna could do was to stay in complete silence, as one of the Ubor ships went up in flames, breaking apart from the inside. Then another one, and another one…

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