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Kestevan 79 Magnetar 

23,000 LY from Terra

November 2014 (Terran Calendar)

 

Why are we here? 

 

It was a hard question not to ask as the Praetorians' starship approached the world Moon-Moth had designated as the next target of the Communion. Kestevan 79, and its companion magnetar were a long-dead supernova remnant - the nebula, the neutron star inside, and its magentar companion both had been classified as navigational hazards by the Delaztri and generally avoided by their fleets, something that as far as they could tell had remained the same for Lor and Grue both. After all, what could possibly live in the wash of gases and X-Rays produced by nebula and burning magnetar alike? But there was, as far as the Curator had been able to tell, life on the sole world orbiting Beta Kestevan - life that was by all accounts a target for the Communion. 

 

For his part, Solar Sentinel found conditions equally grim as he headed out into the remote space near the Kestevan system, a system so remote and so irradiated that it had remained largely unclaimed in all the space wars he had ever heard of. There was no debris in the system, no asteroids or other planets - just the invisible at this distance neutron star that was Beta Kestevan (for all that it howled like a dead god on the radio) and the single white orb beneath the brilliantly burning shape of the Kestevan nova that floated over the system like the ghost of a dead star. 

 

Kestevan I - the only life-bearing world for light-years. Kestevan I; the next target of the Communion. A small collection of older, disreputable-looking starships were in orbit as Sentinel and Praetorians took up their positions in the vast depths of space; the wash of radiation in the system making whatever signals they might be sending to each other impossible to read. The planet was cold and desolate even from space, frozen nearly from pole to pole. Down below, on the icy surface of Kestevan I, a small handful of city lights twinkled at the equator, the planet's only source of free water. 

 

They had no idea what was coming.

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Sitara entered the cockpit of the craft  wiping her hands on a oily rags.


“The systems are still ticking along after two thousand years,you really built these things to last. We shouldn’t give too much away though a energy leaks, though we’d struggle to compete with that.â€


She pointed to the magnar as she slipped into one of the cockpits seat. Her hair was messily pinned up with a hat pin that she’d bought from home all those centuries ago.

 

“Isn’t it a beautiful sight to behold? it’s a shame that we couldn’t spend time study such a natural wonder.â€

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Dragonid looked at the glowing nebula and the magnetar. Astronomy wasn't his field. He was still amazed to think that many of the stars in the skies continued their own worlds with their own people, but the stars themselves did not hold much beauty for him. But even he had to admit the colors were nice. "It would be a shame if this beauty watches over the death of another planet." He said, grimly, then motioned toward the other ships in system.
 
"This does not look like an army capable of repelling the Communion, but I guess it is all we have." He looked toward his companions, "Do we attempt to make contact?"

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It was a sparsely populated, isolated world, but if they needed help, that's what they would get. Henry shook his head. He was glad to be fast enough to reach the outskirts of space in such a short time, and based on what he was told about this place in particular, he was really grateful he was resistant to radiation. He was pretty sure an ordinary human would have died a horrible, quick death.

 

However, he realized he wasn't alone in the area around the planet, and decided coordination was probably the best course of action. So, with that in mind, he flew into range of what he hoped were there short ranged visual sensors and floated there. He hoped they would recognize him as human and not a threat. Could be bad if they didn't.

Edited by Thunder King

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As Solar Sentinel made contact with the other ship, the small Kestevanian 'fleet' (if it could be called that) went into action - evidently they could see what was going on visually even if their radios were useless in the star's vast X-Ray corona. Firing orbital engines powered by everything from fission detonations to chemical rockets, the half-dozen old ships moved into position, taking up a hemispherical station that blocked the Praetorian ship (and their humanoid visitor) from approaching any closer to the planet. On closer inspection, there was something familiar about this ragtag fleet - a Lor surplus military frigate here, a cargo ship bristling with weapons there, many of them with an ominous-looking ursine head painted on the hull. This was no impoverished world's defense force - these were PIRATES! And they didn't look friendly. 

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"Well it looks like somebody has seen us." said Dragonid, looking at the figure floating in front of the ship. "No obvious weapons, not that that means much, no hostile motions, though. I assume he wants to speak with us." He looked to his companions for ideas how to make contact, but before they could do anything, the pirates began moving. "Cannot say the same about them, though. I think we need to prepare for battle."
 
Dragonid was not a spokesman or negotiator. Most often when he tried to be diplomatic, he made matters worse. But he doubted the slickest silver tongue could talk them out of this situation. They had come here to fight the Communion, not pirates, but a warrior did not always get to pick his battles. He pulled on his winged jetpack, tightened the harness and activated his atmospheric bubble. "What is our plan?"

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Sitara wasn’t a leader by choice but when the opportunity presented itself she wouldn’t hesitate to step up and take control.


“My flight systems are still not working after our last  battle, the stasis probably didn’t help either. The two of you better get ready to join our little friend, if trouble start try to clear us a path to  Kestevan One.â€


She gave her fellow Praetorians time to get to the airlock before boosting the gain on the communications to it’s maximum gain before transmitting a message. Everyone in the system should be able to hear what she had to say.

“This is the Praetorian ship Kavaca. We are here on a mission vital to the Delaztri Empire and the safety of the galaxy.†Sitara closed the comms and lent back in the seat

 

 

“Well that should confuse them for a while.â€

Edited by TiffanyKorta

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Moon moth's inner artist had found itself captivated by this impossible planet as it span  around the magnetar like a little crystal wreathed in nebulous gases like veils of ephemeral silk that washed and swirled around it in fantastical colours, so much so he felt quite annoyed when something poked its head up and blocked his view of it, quickly gesturing [Down in the front!] in Lanternian at the stranger before being called back to his senses by the calls of dragonid and Sitara.

 

"Apologizes friends I was in my own little world for a small times there." he says in galstandard as he simultaneously gestures a quick apology to the man on the view-screen in-case by some miracle he had seen and understood the meanings of his motions as he watches the rag-tag fleet move in on its vectors "times for a float in the sea of stars it would seems" and with a flash of sedate prismatic light teleports himself out in-front of the ship next to the curious alien floating in the vacuum, seemingly as unbothered by the conditions as he himself was despite the apparent differences in phisiology.

 

<Fascinating!>

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The sudden appearance of the strange moth like man took Henry aback for a moment, but he quickly regained his composure. It wasn't the strangest thing he'd ever seen, after all. He seemed to be at least somewhat friendly. He considered for a moment how to communicate with someone that he did not share a language with. He motioned to the ship in front of him, with the Praetorians, and held his arms open in a gesture in what he hoped would be taken as either supplication or openness, trying to communicate a willingness to cooperate.

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Dragonid leaped out the airlock behind Moon Moth. The red scaled humanoid with the bestial head roared at with the pleasure of flight, though no one outside his bubble could hear him. The wings on his jetback unfolded to their full breadth, and he jetted off, looping around the starship a few times, before coming to rest between his ship and the lone stranger. He mimicked the gesture back at him. Either he had no functioning coms, or he didn't understand the Traveller. Either way, he didn't seem hostile.

But pirate ships are the bigger concern, he thought. They outnumbered the Praetorians, sure, but pirates are not known to be the greatest fighters, and had notoriously bad morale. Still, any losses here, on either side, meant less strength to face the Communion.

Edited by ca_lazerdwarf

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That got them a message in reply - not one sent by radio but by old-fashioned laser communication from the surplus Lor vessel. In the pilot's seat was a canine species that none of them immediately recognized, wearing a tattered leather uniform and a leering fanged smile. Behind her (and it was a her) a mismatched crew of a variety of species occupied bridge stations. 

 

"Well!" The captain sneered. "Greetings, ungulate Suidae! I am Captain Hunger and you are in territory of the Hunger Squadron. Perhaps your relativistic compensators are broken, but your empire is as dead as runt of Hunger's litter. But you are fortunate." She smiled and showed those great and terrible fangs - was it a gesture of friendliness or hostility? Maybe both! "By code of space, I will not feed on lost travelers who have so little in their holds. Go and run home to whatever place sent you, and we will not devour your pitiful cargo." 

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“So we have a student of history, missed the end myself. Though don’t spoil it I hate when people do that, like when people spoil the endings of Holo’s. I’ve got few episodes of Into the Fire still to watch. Though I guess I’m a little out of date...â€

 

Her smile fade and her face took on a darker look, the tone of her voice becoming much more serious.

 

“You’re right that we  have no authority here and that the Delaztri Empire has fallen.This would  be my second and I might see my third fall this day. Lor-Van has been destroyed and the Communion are heading this way, and on that planet is my be a way to stop them.â€

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"With that sort of a welcome, I am tempted to leave these fools to the Communion. They will find no pricey cargo there, either." Dragonid grunted. "But we know they will not stick around to defend this planet."
 
"Which of these ships do I burn a hole in to get their attention?"

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Moon-Moth makes the most of the uneasy lull in activity to quickly relate to the humanoid what has brought him and  his comrades here through the medium of simplistic illusion, one of two very stylized stick figures, one of which bears silver wings and the other of which hold a Fluffy white mane strafing a communion vessel blasting at it with what seems to be rainbows and fireballs, nimbly weaving between its return fire and gradually causing it to crack and eventually fracture...then the holographic map from the curators briefing room displaying the various planets that have already fallen prey to the wormhole generator before reapplying his red ring to the location of where he suspects the next blow to fall, leaving it for a moment before turning the thing into an arrow that points squarely at the planet behind the pirate blockade before morphing into the shape of the communion vessel from the beginning.

 

<Hopes he Understandings...> moon moth thinks, antenna wiggling in anticipation as he turns to face the rag tag lines of the opposition, a faint opalescent sheen spreading over his form as he girds himself for battle, activating his forcefield. <Things about to get the ugly.>

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Hunger's lean, wolfish face suddenly filled the screen. "Ignorant suidae, can you not see I am graduate of finest academy of Hunger Homeworld! I know history of many dead places with rich treasures. Now, what is this talk of threat to Hunger world? We have claimed this dead place to raise our pups beneath healthful X-ray bath and fill ancient vaults with goods devoured by mighty hunters!" Sending over the information they had took some doing, given the radiation soup that enveloped the system, but Hunger's computers were evidently better than they looked. The Praetorians saw the pirate captain studying their data on her command chair's personal monitor - then saw those pointed ears go back in a canine's fear response 

 

"...very well. Meet us at planetary coordinates Alpha One Nine. Hunger out." 

 

The coordinates turned out to be a peninsula that jutted out into the thin band of open sea at Kestevan's equator - a cold, sere place like something near the south pole of more civilized planets. The Praetorians' ship, and its human passenger, landed near a rude city of metal huts and ersatz-looking buildings where fur-clad members of various species watched the landing spaceships with mild interest. On closer inspection, strange, unidentifiable ruins - almost hills, jutted out of the landscape everywhere, lonely grey sentinels that towered far above the pirate camp: and looked far older. 

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With a temporary truce declared Sitara swooped in  to collect the other Praetorians before they  break the fragile peace. Once aboard she rapidly explained the situation as best as she could.


“... I know they are raider and pirates, and possibly worse, but we have to see the  bigger picture here. I don’t trust completely but for now we’ll cooperate the best  we can. But expect trouble.â€


She  knew she could trust the other Praetorians completely, this new comer was however a puzzle. He looked like he could be Lor, but  she wasn’t completely sure, but then again she’d not met a memeber of them for over two thousand years. She tried to speak to him her very dated Lor.


<â€Welcome aboard the Kavaca I’m Sitara Shashikala.â€> she waved around the ship when mentioning it and at herself when introducing herself, so hopefully he would understand that.  Then again she wasn’t even sure of that.


“Myothizar you managed to get through to him? Try you best to get him up to speed, I’m going to land the Kavaca were they asked. I mean it can’t be worse than my last landing I think I’m still paying for the damage...†she gave him a smile.



With the Kavaca landed safely she  walked down the ramp to meet their potential ally, her armour was fully deployed, though her faceplate was opaque, but for now they’d kept their weapons holstered.   She’d  been around enough canine like species  to  know not to smile as she greeted Hunger, most saw the bearing of teeth as a threat.

 

“Thank you for allowing us to land, I must apologize for the armour I don’t enjoy the radiation as much as you pups. Sorry to cut straight to business but time is of the essence. What do you know about this planets previous inhabitants?â€

Edited by TiffanyKorta

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Hunger stood beneath what must have been the eternal glow of the planet's sky, and the wolfish pirate captain looked far more contemplative than Traveller had seen before. "They are dead. Burnt bones that fill ancient vaults all around..."  She gestured with a four-fingered gloved hand cut to accommodate a clawed fist, her patchwork brown and grey uniform given a certain dignity by their icy surroundings. Several of the crew who had accompanied her out of her ship still wore their suits - evidently it was just Hunger's own species who were so comfortable in the chilly temperatures and dangerous radiation levels. "As far as we could dig to bury what was ours. Ancient vaults. Even treasured tombs had long since been looted." 

 

She looked back at the Traveller and said, "We have four thousand planetside. Mostly pups and males too blood-simple to fly Hunger Patrol. How long until Communion arrives?" 

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"Four thousand?" said Dragonid to his teammates "That is not enough to be a real target, if the Communion is coming here it must be because of something about this dead people, as we thought."
 
The reptilian figure turned to Hunger "Four thousand people, even if they were old enough to fight, and a few ships will not fend off the Communion, but they would not be impossible to send to safety, if we had the time. Sadly we do not know how much time we have. How many can your ships carry? Are there any other suitable systems nearby?

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"Not enough," replied Hunger, a growl at the edge of her canine voice. "And nearest habitable planet is three nights away - all the rest were purged when star went long ago!" she added with a gesture to the sky. "Whole of neighboring systems dead planets and burnt buildings. And this deadest of all!" She looked around. "This was settlement. Den to be ours when home from hunts - not a place to simply leave like whipped mangy curs! It was dead world!" she declared, half to the coldly glowing sky overhead, the nebula like an eternal aurora overhead, "Nothing but bones and ruins, and radiation beyond reach of hairless suidae Lor and monstrous red vermin Grue. Even suidae Star Knights did not come to this place. None wanted it. None could even find it." She turned to her crew and began, quite literally, barking orders. 

 

"Greed, Famine, Voracious!" she called to three of her own species. "Head into settlement and begin rounding up all mothers still suckling pups and take them aboard flagship. Ra'chem, Zhorag, Erasmus," she added to three in suits - the middle of which, from his name and his general bearing, appeared to be Za'akian! "Take the white-collared males first - then the youngest from there. Use them to control the others as you round them up." She looked at the Praetorians as she began to head down towards the pirate settlement. "If you are friends you say, you will help us save those who cannot save themselves!" 

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“All we have is the Kavaca and we have things that we have to do here.†Sitrara didn’t like to keep thing so negative, and she always had hope that thing would work out better.
 
“But when the time comes and the Communion arrive we will do everything we can to stall them for as long as possible, whatever the cost.â€
 
Again she couldn’t help wondering what there “Lor†ally thought about all this, he still didn’t seem to understand anything she said.

“I suggest you start leaving straight away, head beyond the Known Systems you should be safe there for a while.†though if they didn’t stop the Communion it might not buy them much time.

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Moon-Moth Ponders quietly to himself as he walks upon the planets frozen surface, giving the lor gentleman a reassuring pat  on the shoulders as he goes about trying to wrap his mind around the dimensional manipulations required for his interesting little idea "I believes i may be ables to help without detracting from our mission, traveler and dragonid, i will return the shortly feel free to gets started, i will catch up.." he states as he wanders after the canine humanoid who seemed to be the leader.

 

"I must asks you two things, hunger." he says as he draws in on her "Firsts, Are you willings to trust in me?" he asks, deadly serious as he can be with his broken grasp of galstandard and his somewhat fluffy countenance "For I May have A Way of drastically accelerating the evacuation if yous willings too."

Edited by Exaccus

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Dragonid grunted in frustration, "We will do as much as we can, as long as we can. Protecting the weak is what we do, but we had hoped to do more in this system than just fight to the end. Why would the Communion even want a dead world like this? We had hoped something in this system would give an answer to that mystery and that answer would help us fight them."
 

He shook his head and asked Hunger "Were there writings or engravings in the vaults? Something that could give us a clue of what made this system a target?".

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"We are not WEAK!" Hunger detonated, grief and fury bringing a tone to her voice that was at once growl and whine. She was a head shorter than Dragonid, but showed no fear of getting within arms reach of him to glare up at his scaly face. "When Homeworld turned to...peace...and...love, it was we who took to the stars to live as we always had! We clawed and scraped and fought to carve a world for ourselves in depths of cold space!" She spat on the icy ground. "And we lived, and we hunted, and we fed, and it was good. And now all is swept away by bigger hunters. It is the death of what should have been." 

 

She turned to Moon-Moth and said "Yes, yes, do what you can! Leave no more pups to starve in own filth until slain by enemies." She signaled a few more pirates to join Moon-Moth, sending their erstwhile Lor ally to join them. "Take him to village! Give him what he needs. We will be leaving system soonest. With all we can carry." 

 

Composing herself, she finished turning and said, "I will supervise evacuation. Kavorkin, you take them to vaults. Show them what we have found - perhaps the Ossuary." 

 

She turned and stalked off, taking a few steps as a humanoid before dropping to all fours and running like the canine creature she was. 

 

Kavorkin, a humanoid with a polarized faceplate over his environmental suit's helmet, coughed before hissing in a sibilant voice. "Right thiss way, gentlebeingss. We have many vaultss of the passt in this placce." He led the group he was accompanying to a rude trench dug in the hard-packed soil of the planet - a soil that on closer inspection looked like glassy sand. "Are any of you fearful of enclossed ssspacess?"

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Dragonid looked down at Hunger, he still had little respect for pirates, but in this case he had not meant offense and worried he had made a hash of Traveller's earlier diplomatic efforts. That was a common problem when he spoke. He shook his head. "You misunderstand. I did not mean to call you, or your 'Hunger Patrol' weak. The weak I spoke of are your pups and the others planetside, unable to defend themselves alone" He closed his mouth and chose to speak no more. It would not be good for him to think outloud about the relative strength of the pirates and the Praetorians.
 
He quickly moved to follow Kavorkin, glad to get out of the offended Hunger's presences.

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Moon-Moth nods solemnly and simply states "Rest assured; We of all peoples knows prudence is not weakness or cowardice." before turning to the few pirates he's been granted the usage of "Gather as many as you can and what supplies you can bring them out here in as close a group as possible...Reassure them they're not in the dangers, from me.."  he states as authoratively as possible, under no illusion now that the hunger do not respect anything short of strength.

 

Making a frame with his foredigits and thumbs be begins to mumble to himself and it is not long before tiny flashes of prismatic light begin to arch between the sides of his parallel manipulators.

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