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Praetorians: Sovereign Right [IC]

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Galor System
Outer length of the Perseus Arm
November 2, 2015 (Terran Calender) 

The Praetorian spacecraft Kavaca dropped out of lightspeed near the third planet in the Galor system.  A large planet slightly bigger than Terra, Galor III sat along a much closer orbit around its bright yellow sun.  As a result, the planet was brown and tan in color, covered in desert and rocky mountains.  But despite that hostile environment, the sentient reptilian species that was native to Galor III had evolved to develop at least minimal space travel, eventually making contact with scouts from the Lor Republic and established trade relations. 

The system had managed to avoid the onslaught of the Communion during the Incursion, but only just barely, as Communion forces had been moving toward the system when they had finally been stopped.  But while that conflict had been avoided, Galor now found itself faced with a new threat, one that had cast a shadow over several neighboring systems as well. 

During the Incursion long standing differences had been set aside as the various powers of the galaxy worked together against the common thread of the Communion.  During that struggle, numerous pirate groups had voluntarily joined with the Coalition, providing additional space power to the fleets.  Among the pirate leaders to join the battle against the Communion was a renegade Broan prince called Dovox, who stylized himself as "Sovereign."  Bringing together a number of pirate groups under his command during the Incursion, Sovereign had taken advantage of the chaos that existed when the Communion was defeated, using his forces to take control of a parsec along the outer edge of the Stellar Khanate and establishing himself as the rule of his own empire. 

After spending some time consolidating his position, Sovereign had begun to show signs of his intention to seek to expand his new domain, sending out forces to nearby systems to scout out potential targets for conquest.  The Praetorians aboard the Kavaca had been sent to the sector to investigate and see what could be done to dissuade the would-be-conqueror.   

On the Kavaca's bridge, Seresk, a larger reptilian Praetorian, was at the sensors station and looked up from the displays before him.  "Sri Steward, sensors are detecting a freighter sized vessel in orbit around Galor III.  Its configuration is similar to vessels know to be employed by the pirate groups controlled by Dovox.  It appears to be exchanging fire with several orbital defense satellites."

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On the surface of Galor III
Yollon City
Northern Hemisphere 

Kulahn Chaka was busy running routine diagnostics on her mech-suit, thankful to be out of the intense afternoon heat of Galor III.  Even though she was in the supposedly "cooler" northern hemisphere of the planet, the heat during the day was much greater than she was typically accustomed to. 

Kulahn and her mech were in a back corner of what had once been a warehouse facility along the outskirts of Yollon City.  There were dozens of other mercenaries, from dozens of species, gathered in groups throughout the warehouse.  Some were resting, others playing various games of chance, while others were busy cleaning weapons or hovervehicles.  Like Kulahn, they had all been hired by the natives due to the potential threat of a new warlord that had taken over a number of systems in a nearby parsec in the wake of the Incursion. 

Also like Kulahn, nearly all the other mercenaries had seen action during the Incursion.  However, their reasons for turning to the mercenary life following the end of the war varied.  So far the job had turned out to be little more than a somewhat relaxed version of garrison duty. 

But that was about to change. 

Just as she finished checking the suit's weapon systems, Kulahn noted something of a disruption going on toward the center of the building.  Then, one of the mercenary officers appeared up on a platform so that he could be seen, or at least heard by everyone. 

"Planetary defenses have detected a hostile cruiser in orbit.  It has engaged several of the orbital defense satellites.  They have also picked up several smaller ships which have entered the atmosphere and appear to be headed this way.  Everyone gear up and get ready to deploy to defensive positions!"

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Khulan cursed under her breath at the call. She'd almost lain back with the assumption that this particular line of work would be easy money. Then, apparently, the universe conspired to prove her wrong. Because of course, no job can just be simple and relaxing. Muttering under her breath, the pilot climbed the short ladder in the back of her Hunter mech, and crawled inside. She curled up into a ball, letting the mech plug into her neck and spinal jacks, and then went into an almost-sleep state while it booted up.

 

The Hunter went through its start-up process, the weapons array cycling through various different modes and running quick firing simulations, then every servo stretching and pushing to make sure nothing was about to break. The whole process took entirely longer than most might like, but once it was done, Khulan's consciousness was finally instated as in command of the machinery. She took a moment just to enjoy the feeling. It was strange, but she never felt quite like herself when she wasn't plugged in anymore. So much strength and ability, gone.

 

With that done, Shell stood by, running passive diagnostics while waiting for further orders.

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Pirates. Once upon a time, Cavalier had thought something daring (and maybe a little bit sexy) about the whole concept of space piracy. Then he'd run headlong into the reality. There was a lot of distinction to make between pirates and privateers, of course - though sometimes that just means someone has to pay you before you become a bastard - but his youthful, somewhat hormone-driven illusions had been shattered. He'd scrapped plenty of times with desperate bastards who thought being on the right end of the blaster gave you the right to take everything - and "everything" could go pretty damn far. 

 

He charged up before heading out. He had his own blaster; sometimes, it served to speak to them in the only language they understood. "Stay here in case they decide to break off," he said. "I'll engage them up close." 

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Moon moth had always found the existence of pirates to be a little bit saddening, that shortage and suffering could drive sentients to murder and worse baffled him; his own species had known hardships, the ancient war with their sister species and the hostility of a ravaged planet in the aftermath had driven them to their satellite to escape the most immediate dangers but had in turn lead to problems of their own food had been scarce and at the end of an exhausting journey for the average lanternian, muscle atrophy in the following generation had made the planet even harsher but through it all they had stuck together; though there in maybe laid the reason, they had never had the sheer numbers other races seemed to posses.

 

Twitching his antenna softly as he surveys the viewscreen "watching out for the defense systems as well, unannounced guests will likely not be given benefactors of the doubtings" as he prepares to teleport into the vessels outer hull

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Orbit above Galor III 

As Mater Vyrdna prepared to bring the Kavaca in close enough to allow Cavalier and Moon-moth to close and engage the pirate ship, Seresk continued to study the sensor readings.  The larger reptilian Praetorian looked back over towards the Star Knight.  "Additional scans have detected several smaller pirate vessels that have entered the planet's atmosphere and are headed towards one of the major population centers on the surface." 

Surface of Galor III, Yollon City  

Khulan had finished her start up procedure while those around her quickly began gathering their gear, reassembling weapons and preparing to deploy.  Several transport hovervehicles were now loaded up with a half dozen mercenaries each, while dozens of others were ready to move out on foot to closer locations.  The mercenary officers moved quickly through the groups, giving last minute deployment orders before groups of the mercenaries started off to their assigned locations. 

"Kulahn."  Called out one of the officers as he moved over near the mecha-suit, looking up towards where Kulahn was roughly balled up inside.  "You are going to supplement the locals' air defenses, position yourself near the eastern pass into Yollon City and shoot down any hostiles that come into range and be ready for possible redeployment orders." 

Like most of the cities on Galor III, Yollon City was built among a connected series of ravines and canyons, at most no more than two kilometers wide.  The native species had thrived in these enclosed spaces, which provided not only a degree of shelter from the planet's harsh sun, but also tended to include cave systems which connected with underground aquifers which had been the primary source of water for the native species earlier in their evolution.  Much of Yollon City's water still came from the underground aquifer beneath it, but improved technology had allowed the natives to improve replenishment of the aquifer's water levels.  Most of the city was still built along the edges of the ravines, crowded with low modern plexisteel buildings that were often covered on the outside by plants, which helped keep the buildings cooler. 

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Oh, goddamnit. Divide and conquer - a familiar tactic, and Cavalier should have been expecting it. If they focused on the central ship, they could possibly decapitate the rest of the smaller forces... but them focusing their efforts on said ship could result in more damage being done below. It was possible that the planetary defense forces could hold off against the assault... but those ships could easily do a lot of damage before they were taken down. 

 

This planet won't burn.

 

"Moon-Moth! Do you think you can handle the guys down there?"  

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Vyrdnaya had been trying to further famirialise herself with her Technopathic powers; indeed, she'd been spending time controlling various applications inside the CoVic Station, which housed the headquarters for the newly revived and reinstated Praetorian force; vehicles, elevators, blast doors. It had been good practice, she had to admit. Nevertheless, though, she couldn't help but feel uneasy whenever interacting with any application that was not the Devotion. The spacecraft had served as a home for her trapped consiousness for milenia, and even though diving directly into the network of other vehicles caused her feelings of claustrophobia, she always found herself at ease with interracting with the Devotion. It was for this reason, above all else, that she preferred to do her work manually on other spacecrafts, when on mission, such as now with Kavaca, unless it was otherwise needed.

 

Since Sitara was unavailable for this mission, piloting duties had fallen on Vyrdnaya's hands. She was managing just fine, so far, but if things turned into a dogfight, she wasn't sure she could keep Kavaca, and more to the point, its occupants, safe from enemy fire. Steeling herself, she told Cavalier and Seresk: "I'm directing energy from the front shields into the weapons, Cavalier. Just say the word and I will lay down cover fire. Seresk, please keep me posted on the situation on our flank."

Edited by Vahnyu

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The 'head' of the mech-suit rotated slowly towards the officer, the machine waking itself from the diagnostic-standby mode. A synthetic voice issued from the speakers mounted on the top. "Understood." With the machine's programs and the onboard assistant AI's 'thoughts' running through her mind, Khulan sometimes found it difficult to not act like the machine when she was piloting it. She was fairly sure the Khanate had designed that on purpose, given how much more efficient it made their soldiery. And she had to admit to herself, sometimes it was handy.

 

Shell didn't waste any time with words or questions. She loaded up for transport to her assigned location, making sure to cycle her weapon to the plasma cannon single-shot variant. It wasn't strictly necessary, the mech was entirely capable of switching modes at the same speed it took her to think the command, but it made her feel safer to be prepared ahead of time.

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Moon moth smiles widely "i believes i can tie up the stragglers easily enoughs," he responds with confidence as he begins tto ocus on the task ahead, taking them on one at a time would definately be preferable to all at once, maybe teleport into their engine rooms and immobilize them and let the planets defense take care of the rest...so many options... "Im a bumbly flyer but a swift teleporter...don't hesitate to call on me should the big fish prove troublesomes to land." offering his slenderly digited hand to the starknight "goods luck and happy huntings."

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Orbit above Galor III 

"Of course Mater Vyrdna."  Seresk replied as he continued to monitor the readouts from the Kavaca's sensors.  For the moment, there was only the larger vessel to deal with, but it appeared to be making some headway against the planet's orbital defenses around it. 

Surface of Galor III, Yollon City 

Khulan directed her mech-suit to climb aboard a nearby heavy-lift hoverveheicle to be transported to her assigned position.  Other hovervehicles that were filled with mercenary infantry were already departing, moving to cover their assigned areas. 

Once the mech-suit was securely aboard the hovervehicle started off, accelerating as it exited the warehouse and pulled out into the streets of the outer city.  The midday sun was high overhead, the heat reflecting up off the nearby sand and rocks.  The inhabitants of the city were all moving quickly to shelter, leaving the streets and byways rather deserted.  It was not long before the hovervehicle arrived at the eastern pass into the ravines that made up the heart of the city.

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Cavalier took Moon-Moth's spindly hand and shook firmly. "Go kick their asses," he said. "If you need fire support, I'll get down there as fast as I can." He turned his attention to the ships in orbit, pouring power into his armor, girding its resilience. The design was roughly familiar - repurposed Broan light cruiser with heavy weapons strapped on. He would have to make sure to take those out first - but, of course, he had to fulfill certain obligations first. 

 

"Get ready to unleash on my word, Mater Vyrnda," he said. "I do kind of have to give them a chance, even if I know they're probably not gonna take it." He sped forward towards the Broan ship, isolated the cockpit, and brought his fist down on the most visible bit of bulkhead. Not enough to actually breach it, but enough to leave a fairly noticeable dent. He opened his comms. "This planet is under the protection of the Star Knight. You have 15 clicks to withdraw hostilities, after which... well, sucks to be you." 

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Cavalier was not quite able to make it all the way to the Broan ship before the occupants of the vessel detected his approach and a pair of waring shots were fired in front of him that brought him to a halt.  His armor's comm systems then picked up a transmission from the vessel. 

"Star Knight, this system has been claimed by Sovereign Dovox the First.  You will vacate the system or you will be viewed as hostile!"  Stated a deep voice that spoke in heavily accented Galstandard.  The vessel trained several of its heavy weapons on the Star Knight, while a few others continued to pound the planet's orbital defenses. 

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Moon-moth gives a sharp nod of his head as cavalier speeds away to his task and I'm turn makes haste to his own assignment his mystic defended flaring to life even as he disappears in a flash of shattered light and rematerializes in the planets surface on the vector the devotions computer had calculated the ships to be on

Edited by Exaccus

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Oh, yes, thought Cavalier. I'm the one who's gonna be viewed as hostile here.

 

As much as he knew that any attempt to deter Dovox through diplomacy was going to be effective as trying to make ice by blowing on water real hard, he knew that there were certain formalities that came with being a Star Knight, certain protocols that needed to be observed. He also knew that, were those protocols to fall short, he was wearing a suit of armor that could take out small fighter craft. 

 

"You have initiated an assault on a sovereign planetary body as a first strike measure with no stated record of diplomatic grievances. Under Article Rho of the Citadel Compact, you will cease fire, call off your assault on the planet's population centers, and state your reason for attack. If you choose to continue this assault... then force will be met with force." 

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Surface of Galor III, Yollon City 

It only took a few moments for Moon-moth to disappear from the Kavaca, reappearing almost instantly down on the surface of Galor III.  The very first thing the Praetorian was met with was a hot wind blowing over the rocky surface of the planet.  He was standing up on the top of a plateau, a long ravine running along beside.  Down in that ravine, Moon-moth could see crowded modern plexisteel buildings which had been built within the natural shade, most covered with a variety of plants.  Dozens of reptilian humanoids could be seen running into the buildings, the streets and byways emptying of all inhabitants.   

Then Moon-moth's attention was brought back to why he was there, as he heard the sound of energy weapons firing.  Glancing over at other nearby plateaus, he could see defensive emplacements explode as a pair of fast moving spacefighters streaked overhead firing on the city’s defenses. 

Further out at the entrance to the ravines that housed the sheltered city, several large transport shuttles were touching down to deploy ground forces to join the attack.  Those forces were already under fire from defenders who were positioned near buildings that set out in the open landscape beyond the ravines, but it remained to be seen whether the defenders would be able to turn back the attacking forces alone…. 

Orbit above Galor III 

"The authority of the Star Knights is not recognized here!"  Came the curt reply from the commander of the spacecraft in orbit over the planet as the comm channel went dead and the vessel's weapons began to prepare to fire….

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"That's affirmative, Cavalier. Make it count." Vyrdnaya replied to Kyle Steward's declaration of diplomatic intent. She was similarly unsure that there was much hope for peace and diplomacy to prevail in this situation, but protocol was protocol, and it had to be followed.

 

And followed it was, with the predicted outcome. "Kyle... I think they're done talking." Vyrdnaya said from the commlink to Cavalier. "I'm awaiting your command. Be careful." She could feel her fingers itching from the anticipation, as she tried to concentrate on her feed. A moment too soon and it could be a diplomatic disaster of humongous proportions. A moment too late, and it could mean Cavalier's life. She prayed that she would not fail at her duty.

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Moon-moth had allowed himself a moment to take in the scenery, noting the planets similarity to scorched and arid lantern before the screech of a high powered energy weapon's discharge brought his attention back to the task at hand as the ground rumbled and the red rock was glasses bty the ambient heat as it rolled down the defended armour plating, the craft were fast, and he barely managed to get a snapfire return shot off in time, hardly fine marksmothship but he was confident the spell would find its mark eventually

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Surface of Galor III, Yollon City 

Moon-moth's mystical blast missed one of the pirate fighters, the sleek spacecraft just dodging the incoming attack as it streaked by.  But the mystical energy turned to pursue the passing fighter, far from done in trying to reach its intended target. 

Moon-moth could hear smaller energy weapons discharging in the distance, a likely sign that the attacking forces had deployed ground forces in the assault as well.... 

Orbit above Galor III 

With the negotiations concluded, the pirate vessel continued to fire at the planet's defense systems.  A pair of the spacecraft's weapons shifted their fire toward Cavalier, firing powerful blasts at the Star Knight.  Both missed the glowing target, although one just barely....

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"T-ch, anathemas..." Vyrdnaya swore under her breath, as the enemy vessel opened fire. Even after such an open act of agression, the Praetorians were still bound by protocol, which considering that one of them was currently taking fire made things considerably more difficult and complicated than they should. Vyrdnaya couldn't afford to make harmless warning shots, but neither could she chance fatally wounding the anyone of the enemy vessel's crew. Which meant...

 

"Cavalier, get out of there! I'm covering you!" she shouted at the assigned communications frequency. Arming the seismic wave blast function, Vyrdnaya commanded the Kavaca let loose a barrage of de-nucleared Tritium-Tetartium Pulse shots towards the enemy vessel, aiming for its weapons and side-engines. Upon impact, the non-radioactive Tritium and Tetartium atoms bombarded all other atoms they came into contact with, and creating a mechanical wave that caused the vessel to rock unstably, as if it were hit with a concentrated seismic wave. So long as the ship didn't try to resist the impact, it would remain relatively unharmed. Vyrdnaya then bellowed at the open speaker. "Attention, enemy vessel. This is your final warning. You will unprime all your weapons, kill your engines, and cease all hostilities at once! Failure to do so will be viewed as an act of war, and will be dealt with extreme prejudice. I repeat; attention, enemy vessel. This is your final warning. You will unprime all your weapons, kill your engines, and cease all hostilities at once! Failure to do so will be viewed as an act of war, and will be dealt with extreme prejudice."

Edited by Vahnyu

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It would be a shame to boldly waltz back into the line of fire after Mater Vrynda had bought him a nice and welcome wave of suppressing fire. But Cavalier was not exactly in the mood for holding back, and he knew the enemy ship was not likely to do so, either.  He charged up his blaster, ready to add to the crossfire... but realized that he had to at least give them a chance. Maybe, just maybe, they would be reasonable enough to see what they were up against and back off. 

 

And maybe, one day, I will crap diamonds. 

 

He raised his blaster and trained it on the ship, ready to fire if need be. "I believe you heard my heavily armed associate. This is a second friendly warning. There will be no third." 

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Surface of Galor III, Yollon City 

Along one intersection of the city Moon-Moth spotted a large mecha move out into the open, taking aim at the pirate fighters flying over the city with its left gun arm.  A blast of plasma shot out, hitting one of the pirate spacecraft and blasting off a section of wing.  This resulted in the fast moving craft spinning out of control and crashing into the cliff side of the valley in a bright explosion. 

The mecha's success drew the attention of one of the other pirate fighters, which banked around and came on a strafing run at the defender.  Beams of energy tore up sections of the street near the mecha, but the machine emerged from the onslaught harmed.

Moon-Moth meanwhile had also attracted the attention of the fighter he had shot his mystical bolt after (the bolt of mystical energy still snaking after the fighter as it turned back around).  Bursts of energy sizzled through the air near the Praetorian, but missed by a wide mark.

The last pirate fighter continued to attack the city's ground defenses....

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Moon-moth found his attention immediately divided over the three things he now had to deal with, the vessa that had made a rather clumsy strafing run against him, the vessal still pounding away at the defensive emplacements of the settlement and establishing contact with the planets defense forces, so with a idle swat of his antenna his seeking bolt lunges for the engines of the craft, a sweep of his hand sends a wave of telekinetic force out towards the other vessal, though it nimbly slips through his clumsy grip and with a light kick off the ground he floats gracefully towards the hulking mech "greetings friend, I am Moon-Moth of the praetorians, we are here to help." he says with practised ease in galstandard

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Surface of Galor III, Yollon City 

Moon-Moth's mystical bolt continued its pursuit of one of the pirate interceptors, keeping up with the fast moving spacecraft with ease.  With one final lunge of speed, the mystical bolt slams into the back of the spacecraft, causing it to shudder slightly and leaving a thin line of smoke trailing behind it. 

The large mech continues to try to track the fast moving interceptors as Moon-Moth glides over and speaks to it.  "Praetorians?"  A mechanical voice states from the mech.  "I heard about you guys during the Communion War.  I did not know you had taken to mercenary work." 

Orbit above Galor III 

In the face of the heavy barrage of fire from the Kavaca, the pirate vessel banked sharply away to avoid being caught in the barrage.  Even with the severe course correction, some of the pirate gunners tried to fire at the Praetorians.  Two guns fired on Cavalier again, but the shots went far wide.   

Two other gunners returned fire on the Kavaca, and while one badly missed, the second managed to hit the Praetorian vessel.  However, the Kavaca's reinforced hull easily took the attack, the vessel shuddering slightly, but others wise there being little effect.

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Vyrdnaya tried to reign in the Kavaca; the vessel might have shrugged the enemy fire, but she needed to have as steady a target ring as possible, and the enemy ship maneouvering didn't help things either. "Unfortunately, they chose poorly with this one." A steeled hand pressed the ship's trigger to commence fire on the pirate capital ship, but all that managed was grazing the atmosphere. Nevertheless, Mater Vyrdna had already began analyzing the enemy ship's patterns, and directed the Kavaca towards between the pirate capital ship and Cavalier. "I'm taking the big one, Cavalier. Hope you don't mind." She shouted at her airborne comrade.

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