Space Zone - Ceres Station

Nestled in the midst of an asteroid field, Ceres Station is built in the orbit of one of the largest, and represents one of the most important institutions of the galactic government. A vaguely ring-shaped facility, it is lightly armed and of little military importance.

Inside the station is one of the premier research facilities in the galaxy, scientists and researchers investigating every topic under the sun. Warp and hyperdrive research is conducted here, as well as limited exploration of Videoland's warp zones. However, the most interesting topic is the study of Metroids, the form of life brought back by Samus Aran from SR-388.

One mystery, at least, has been solved.

Two ships are present near Ceres Station, at the center of a rapidly expanding thin cloud of glittering debris that may have been defensive fightercraft. They are identifiable as Galaxy Federation Marine destroyers; checking a manual would reveal that it is the Hitler and the Ludendorff.
The Ludendorff is maintaining its distance, occasionally launching a missile strike towards the battered station. It is orbited by angry-looking swarms of mechanized infantry in humanoid suits, presumably on defensive patrol. The Hitler has approached the station more closely, and has docked.

Inside of the station, should anyone arrive inside by direct warp, it is dark and there is the smell of blood and weapons fire in the air. The arrival point chamber has either been left unguarded or has been overlooked, although there is gunfire quite audible directly outside. Occasionally, the entire station trembles.

A space station is under attack! Such a threat calls for a hero. That hero is... Commander Keen, Defender of Earth!

In his ship, the Bean-With-Bacon Megarocket, Keen drops out of hyperspace and reduces velocity. Ceres Station looms up ahead in quite the state of distress, needless to say. Behind the joystick, Keen grits his teeth.

"This ought to be just like my old Palace Air Force days," he says with a slight grin. "Ok, let's do this!" Making no effort to hide his approach, the small white starship advances upon the firing Ludendorff.

Several seconds pass as Keen tries to establish a comm. link so he can radio the Ludendorff. <<Attention, attacking ship! Identify yourself! I will not ask twice!>>

There's a brief flash as a warp zone winks open, permitting a very small form to zip through. Small in comparison to spacecrafts, really. Copy X has no such need for space vessels. All he needs is a little power applied to his thrusters. This is pretty much what he's made for. He doesn't drift too close, however, content just to monitor the situation. "Hm." Conversational as ever, he makes a few internal notes, processes a few scans, and decides to just float there like a harmless blue meteor with RED EYES OF EVIL.

Ziggy doesn't arrive through the station, but instead he's piloting the small fighter craft he frequently loans out from the Kukai Foundation. He's more than a little surprised to see the two missing Federation ships out here, and equally so to seem them attacking Ceres Station.

"Hm. Something must have happened to the crews. Either they're under some sort of control, or something else is piloting those ships." He has a habit of talking to himself. "Either way, they need to be stopped."

Ziggy's fighter craft can't stand up to the firepower of either one of those ships, but for now the cyborg is looking for an opening, a chance to board one of the vessels.

"I've got a very bad feeling about this." A blonde-haired psychic murmurs from her passenger seat in the Packmobile. When a psychic says things like this...people listen. Or at least they SHOULD. Paula isn't that innacurate when it comes to her feelings of doom and gloom.

The Packmobile speeds through space, enabling those who generally lack such transportation to respond to this rather unfortuante attack. At the wheel is Hitmonlee, the kicking pokemon driver, present as usual in times like this (since not exactly every member of the Power Pack can drive). In addition to Paula, Link and Fina are also passengers in the heavily armored vehicle.

"..continue approaching the station, Hitmonlee. If anyone starts shooting at us, we'll have to shoot back, but don't shoot anyone until we figure out who exactly we're dealing with." Paula glances over her shoulder, adjusting the goggles on her head. As she usually does during space missions, Paula has worn her ghost suit. "Unless any of you guys here are good at um...flying space ships and fighting space battles, I say we try to board the station and get inside. If anyone's alive on there, they'll need to be evacuated."

"Agreed." Link mutters, sitting next to Paula, as he adjusts in his seat, clucting the sword at his side for a moment, looking back towards the battle. "Hitmonlee, find a good place for us to dock -- if not on the station, then on that ship attached to it."

Speaking of hyperspace, a green hyperspace gate opens and lets an older-style Taiidani carrier to slip through. Not too big, about three hundred meters long, a hundred wide, and in all reality it looks like a big box. With a fighter escort being launched as soon as the hyperspace gate closes behind it. Anyone who has eyes would recognize the coloration and marking as its belonging to Captain X's fleet.

Anakin arrives by direct warp rather than spaceflight; he hasn't had time to personally tune his starfighter -quite- to his expectations yet, and he doesn't want to take any chances with a crisis situation. The second he hears the gunfire outside, he ignites his lightsaber; he does not /immediately/ move out the door, however. Better to wait for any other in-station Palace assistance for now than rush in alone -- hero without fear though he may be, he usually at least has /Obi-Wan/ for back-up.

Maya is one of the next people from the Palace of power to exit the warp inside the station. She's now suprised at the darkness she pulls out a flashlight of some sort and attaches it to her rifle, as she moves out from the warp oint. "... I don't like this."

Fina has tagged along for her first ever Videoland space mission. Exciting! She stares outside of the window with a frown of concern, slowly lowering her head with a sad shake. "I agree, I have a bad feeling about this as well." No, she's not psychic, just very well aware of Arcadian history.

As Commander Keen hails the Ludendorff, he is rewarded with a moment of radio silence. Shortly afterwards, a half-dozen actinic-blue lasers fire out from various points on the long, slim ship towards the Bean-With-Bacon mega-rocket. Several more fire at the arriving carrier, but the range is much longer.

The other smaller fightercraft are not fired upon. Instead, those swarming machines approach them. Scans would reveal them to be approximately half-and-half piloted and unpiloted; this does not seem to affect their performance. Their weaponry seems to be light energy cannons, which are fired at the various craft with surprising skill; fortunately, they are still at extreme range.

The Hitler has occupied the largest docking port, but there are several others. One is on the opposite end of the station, which might be a good one to use.

From the arrival chamber, Anakin would hear a distant series of brief, curtailed screams over another chattering of automatic slugthrower fire.

Taking note of the reaction towards Keen, Paula decides not hailing or shooting anything right now would be an awful good idea. "There. Take her in." Paula points at a free docking port.

Of course, unless something starts blasting the Packmobile, said vehicle will happily fly to the station and dock to allow the Link, Paula, and Fina passage into the station.

Anakin looks to the Palace forces with him, and nods. "We should be careful," he says, before doing something that is, arguably, less than totally careful. He leaves the warp point, but only momentarily; he stays out just long enough to get a better sense of the situation. His lightsaber is still at the ready, of course.

Ziggy frowns as any attempt at communication meets with aggression. He'll just have to find out what's going on directly then. Ziggy begins evasive maneuvers and pilots his craft towards the Ludendorff. If the docking bays aren't open, he'll just have to make an entrance! From there he can use his cloaking device to gather what reconnaissance he can. Something obviously happened to those ships from the time they vanished until now. The most likely answer is that they were taken over by U-TiC, or other hostile forces. But if they're just destroyed, then they may never know. And given all that's happened lately with the Riftripper, that's not something Ziggy wants to risk.

Whew. Link couldn't be happier that Paula decided on that course of action as the Packmobile heads for the dockpoint on the far side of the station because it's so tempting -- influence? Nawwwwwww!

Minerva drops out of a subspace warp, angled 'above' the fighting, and looking down upon it at about two o-clock.

Lita keeps her distance for the moment. She's doing Monika's job for now... and running some scans, using her on-board equipment and some dimensional distortion analization equipment on loan from R&D. They've made progress, studying the guns, but Lita does not think there's any distortion big enough to be found.

Copy X hrms, calmly studying the ship as it fires upon Commander Keen. "Tsk. Children." They really should stay at home, this isn't the sort of place for them. Does he assist? No. He's dealt with enough suspicion from Mother Brain as it stands, thank you very much. He sends a silent transmission back to his home zone, calling for two of his guardians. It isn't long before there's a flash of green and black armor. The three reploids convene (and breathe in space), discussing matters silently. Green remains near Copy X. Black vanishes entirely. Copy X's red optics rest coolly on the Ludendorff where something blurred and difficult to see begins cutting into the ship's side to gain entrance. Go ninja go ninja go ninja go.

The carrier's fighter escort starts escorting another ship launched by the carrier. A frigate of some sort that looks mostly unarmed, which is heading right for the station. Not particularly threatening! No sir.

Keen waits for a response. And waits. And waits. And tries again. <<This is Commander Keen, operative of the Palace Air Force and the Power Pack! Identify yours--HEY! Watch it! Geeze, I was only asking! Don't be so anal!>>

Keen isn't going to get shot down this early, oh no. He takes evasive action by diving down as far as he can go to avoid the laser fire, headed for the underside of the ship. The Megarocket's scanners blink on and begin a massive sweep of the Ludendorff in an attempt to locate any docking ports, or any slightly weak walls he can carve out with his Attach-O-Ray.

...then again, on second thought, covering Ziggy seems like the best course of action. Thus the small white starfighter begins to tail the other vessel, with Vorticon Death Rays charged and ready to fire at the nearest threat. Gotta get on board that ship!

Thankfully, Fina's buckled up - just in case of a bumpy landing or not. Can't be too careful, you know. Cupil, likewise, is now hiding in armband mode - his own method of assuming the crash position. "May the Moons guide us and keep us safe," she says reverently with a solemn nod to Hitmonlee. There, you've been blessed by a Silvite. Nothing can go wrong now!

Maya nods to Akakin, and she keeps wher weapon ready, she now heads out. "Let's get moving." She says folloing after Akakin to at least scope out the hallway. She checks her rifle for a moment and she pokes out into the hallway.

As the fighter-AGWS from the Ludendorff draw closer to their enemies, such as they are, their firing continues. However, the teams are stripped down to a mere one or two units per craft, the combat skill of the frigate's pilot or Hitmonlee enough to avoid disaster. There is only so much you can get out of a glorified assault rifle, after all.

Away from the warp point, Anakin could hear words, now, clear if distant and slightly muted over the hum of his lightsaber. A clear, sweet, if angry-sounding female voice says, "The -password-. -Now.-" There's a sob from a male voice, followed by a snap, and a scream. This seems to be happening around the corner.

The Ludendorff's weapons batteries neglect the Taidaani craft for now in favor of aiming at the BWB Megarocket and Ziggurat 8's craft. However, their size keeps them from being the target of more than a fraction at once. A group of those AGWS fly off, towards the frigate, but will take some time to catch up.

The attempt at hull breach is not stopped. It takes some time, but is successful - however, the invisible Reploid would see a series of blonde-haired, gold-eyed human-seeming men and women standing there, holding rifles and aiming at the breach.

Lady A's sensors would find... something, almost. Perhaps an equipment malfunction, or perhaps a very faint energy reading. More processing would be required.

Lady A has the time to keep scanning. Or at least, for now. She isn't close enough to the ship to ensure that her presence would have much of an effect anyway, so she concentrates on the anomaly that she found. As she looks at the readouts, trying to decipher, she switches on the dash radio.

Thankfully, Hitmonlee is successfully able to dock at the station. Upon making the succesfully connection to the station itself, doors fly open, and Paula charges out. She's already visibly armed with the every-threatening frying pan, despite the fact that she'll likely be sticking to using her PSI tonight since it gives her a bit more comfort than swinging a frying pan at people shooting guns at her.

Paula's priority, of course, is to find people that are still living and get them /out/. The Packmobile can't hold the entire population of a space station. Some people are better than no people.

"C'mon guys!" Paula's actually...taking point right now, probably because Ness isn't around.

The Taiidan carrier is hit by the laser fire, finally, though it doesn't do a -great- deal of damage. These ships aren't designed with shields, but they do have thick skin. As for the unarmed frigate, it and its fighter escort slows to a halt, still a good distance from the station and ships. Whoever is in charge, with the laser fire going toward about every other ship, is either very patient or very drunk.

Ziggy may not have MOMO to fly for him right now, but he can certainly hold his own against the weaponry of a Federation Starship. He didn't spend 100 years doing NOTHING, afterall. As his ship gets closer to the Ludendorff, he flies towards the docking port, and readies a few sure-fire door openers (ie: Missles) to clear the path. He expects heavy resistance once inside, but as long as he gets to activate his cloaking device, he should be free to move about inside.

..unless it, you know, malfunctions at an inconvenient time again.

Anakin's eyes widen a bit, but he doesn't lose any composure over it; he's seen worse, after all. He darts around the cornet, keeping his lightsaber at the ready; he moves with traditional Jedi speed, doing a single flourish of his lightsaber just as he rounds the corner. With his other hand, he gestures at Maya to follow.

"Fina, you may want to stay behind Paula and I.." Link says as he gets out of the vehicle, drawing Leonardo's Katana, and flanking Paula as the two head down the hallway. "...alright, let's see if we can find people to get out of here!"

Ziggy is not alone either! The Bean-With-Bacon Megarocket is flying shotgun... sorta. It's a little behind his starcraft, and the death ray lasers on either wing fire at the drop of a hair, aimed at outside gun turrets, incoming projectile weaponry, and anything else that heads for the pair of infiltrating fighters. Of course, Keen is also aiming to land and board the Ludendorff as well.

"That was my plan," Fina quietly responds as she gently steps off of the bus, mentally preparing the lunar spirit powers and Arcadian spells she'll definitely be needing to heal the wounded. Cupil unwraps himself from her arm and takes his usual position floating around in circles behind Fina. Frying pan, check. Sword, check. Hideously cute pet blob, check. Armed and dangerous, man, armed and dangerous!

Maya moves out letting he who could become Darth Vader or maybe not with some VL interfearance? For now she's following after the jedi on his signal. Not another word is said as she moves.

Phantom blinks, his eyes skimming briefly over the occupants inside. Yes, he'll leave the breach slim. It'll be hard for them to fire out of it as it is, much harder to hit HIM. "Don't mind me," he says in his soft, quiet, ninja voice. "Just having a look around."

Copy X frowns. They were quick to pick up on that hull breach, weren't they? "Remain on stand-by," he says to Harpuia. "I wish to see if they are hostile first. Fefnir, come in. We may require your unique touch."

"Like gumming up that hole with plastic explosives," Harpuia smiles, hovering close by.

As the frigate approaches the station, the loose swarm of rotating AGWS begin opening fire from behind. From up front, the quiescent Hitler warms up a weapon - but only one laser fires out towards the frigate, out of what are obviously dozens.

The BWB's covering fire wrecks enough of the weaponry around that docking bay to allow the infiltration in force to commence. The air gushes out of the bay for a few seconds before an automatic door slams down - this gives Ziggurat 8 enough time to stomp on the jets and get inside. Within, there is, apparently, nobody and nothing; it would seem that the entire complement of AGWS has been deployed, leaving only a few small miscellaneous craft tucked away in corners.

Paula and her team find a somewhat better situation than prevailed on the other side. There are survivors, although they seem near panic; also, the lights are all still on. Some are holding what might be rare specimens and equipment; none seem armed.

On Anakin's end of things, rounding the corner reveals a small group of men and women who could all be siblings. Each has neat blonde hair, and they are surrounding a middle-aged man who has had, it seems, several of his limbs broken. All of them have rifles except for the woman who is kneeling down besides him, and now taking his left arm in her hands. "The pass--"

The group looks up, as one. A fraction of a second later, their assault rifles are firing, sending a rain of projectiles towards the approaching pair; they do not say anything.

The blonde people standing on the other side of that hull seem content to wait.

It has also, by now, become clear to Lady A that there is no equipment malfunction, although the exact position of the source of Rift energy remains unclear. There have been no AGWS deployed upwards; perhaps the Minerva is too small or inert at the moment to register as a threat.

The Taiidan carrier moves forward, toward the small frigate and its fighter escort. But nobody's firing any guns. Or really moving at all aside from the carrier.

Success! Ziggy has made it onboard the mysterious ship of doom. The cyborg quickly activates his cloaking devices and fades away into a transparent green outline that's supposed to represent invisibility (hey it worked in the game) and begins his reconnaissance. He doesn't wait for Keen because, hey, he wasn't expecting to be accompanyed.

Ziggy makes a bee-line in the direction of the Bridge. While not every Federation ship is identical, Ziggy is familiar enough with their generic designs to know where to go. He's infiltrated one or two in his career as well, one picks up a lot working as a cyborg merc. Ziggy keeps his eyes peeled for anything strange, which is.. probably quite a lot.

Link holds up a hand to bring Fina to a halt as Paula and Company come across evacuees. Paula frowns, lowering the frying pan, then gestures to the corridor behind her group. "There should be room on the Packmobile! Shouldn't there, Link?" After he gives her a quick nod, she looks back towards the group. "But how are we going to get them there?"

Link thinks for a moment. "Let me handle that." With a tap of his hat, the Hylian summons his faithful fairy companion, Navi. "...Navi, make sure these people get back to the bus, then come back, you understand?"

"Yep!" she retorts cheerfully.

Link looks up at the evacuees, and waves a hand, working with Paula. "Okay, stay calm, we're from the Palace, we're going to get you out of here. But please, stay calm! And follow the little blue light.."

Paula smiles, trying to be comforting. "Right! Just keep calm, and we'll get out of here. Is there anyone else that needs help?"

"Wounded first, please!" Link thinks to add.

Phantom is content to hang around on the outside of the ship. None of them are shooting at him, and they aren't snarling obscenities or making rude finger gestures. He's not really the best at making political conversation, truth be told. But he's already here, and the others are waiting on him. "Er..." He produces a small white handkerchief giving it a little twirl. "We come in peace?"

Copy X sighs.

"Ha ha. No seriously. Who are you guys? We have no intentions of shooting you or hindering your operation," Phantom continues, blinking at the assorted men and women within. "Unless you shoot at us first, of course."

Anakin moves to one side, immediately bringing his lightsaber up to a deflecting position; he begins to parry wildly, flashes of blue light keeping him as safe as possible from the rifle fire. He presses forward toward the apparent aggressors; they seem almost... inhuman to him, and are shooting at him to boot. Time for a little... 'aggressive negotiation'. He keeps a steady forward pace, and begins to slash through the strange blond men and women. ... Clones, perhaps?

Fina doesn't waste a moment. As Link takes command of the situation, she immediately gets to work on checking the survivors for any wounded and status-impaired. Each of the survivors is greeted with a warm smile from the Silvite and a happy dance from her floating friend. "Hi, I'm Fina, I'm here to help. Are you alright?" She doesn't have enough magic power to heal everyone, so only the seriously wounded would get a Sacri healing spell to ease the pain and keep them in good spirits. "Make sure you follow the blue light, everything will be fine. May the moons guide you and bless you!"

Keen doesn't waste any time once he sees his opening.

The kid flips and switch, and the Megarocket engages light speed, vanishing with a blink to reappear inside the docking bay. The landing legs retract, and the entire vessel sits itself down quietly.

When the windshield flips open and Keen hops out, he does not have a cloaking device. He does, however, have a Vorticon Hyperpistol in one hand and a Martian Atomizer in the other. And... he may or may not be headed in Ziggy's direction. He wants to find the bridge too, and can access radar and scanners on his computer wrist, but unlike Ziggy, he's playing this by ear almost completely.

Maya radios Anakin and then moves in towards the Relians for a moment she's not sure what's up with them yet but she's not raising her weapons into attack form just yet. She's moving in and she is going to try to talk this could get messy but she'll give it a shot. "What's the nature of this...?" she's going to try and talk "Look I don't want to fight, if I don't have to what's going on here?"

Fanfare, explosions, troops advancing, more weapons per square feet than a tank platoon!

Those are all what Fefnir does not bring with him tonight, unfortunatly. Appearing in a flash of light and a brief short ranged EM signature signalling a teleport arrival (You've never seen a reploid teleport on top of another reploid, did you?), the Flame Guardian assesses his surroundings after giving a polite nod to Thunder Guardian Harpuia and Commander X.

"Where's the spot, and how big does it need expandin?" is all he asks, a big grin on his face as he juggles a metal rectangular box in his non-armcannon carrying hand.

Meanwhile as the laser streaks toward the frigate, the formation is changed and a fighter moves into its way. And promptly explodes. On the plus side, this means no lasers for the frigate today.

Lady A gets closer to triangulating the coordinates of the anomaly. She just hopes it's not too late for it to be somehow sealed. Shouldn't everything have collapsed by now... or will it destroy the ship eventually?

The Ludendorff appears to be - deserted. There isn't anything that strange, except for the occasional hastily-scrubbed spot on the ground. Nobody is in the hallways, and nobody seems to be interfering with Ziggurat 8's approach towards the bridge. However, it's a pretty long way.

The - Realians? Yes, they are. They hear what Copy X's guardians are saying. They look at each other, sideways first, and then more directly. One of them chuckles. Then another. Then another yet. Soon, before long, they're all having a good, hearty laugh, some of them arching their backs in the throes of amusement, until perhaps ten seconds have passed - at this point, they all crouch down into firing stances and begin to shoot towards that opening, and the reploids past it.

The scientists and technicians move quickly and with every sign of relief. One pauses to give Link a haunted look as he mentions the wounded.

Anakin's lightsaber takes the Realians down easily, although once one of them has fallen the rest begin to fall backwards. Maya's words are unheard, ignored, or neglected. One of them shouts to the others, "The ship!"

The Hitler's sole apparent functional heavy laser fires again, aimed once more at the frigate; perhaps it has an unimaginative gunnery officer.

Lady A's scans will have localized the disturbance to be somewhere upon the Ludendorff.

A long way to go is fine, Ziggy has learned a lot of patience as well. Luckily he seems to be nowhere near the breach caused by Copy X and company, else he'd be a bit perturbed by the uncharacteristic laugh by the Realians. But he's not... so... he continues en route to the Bridge!

He finds the lack of personnel strange. Even if he is cloaked, he expected to pass by the offending party, whoever it is that comendeered the ship. But nothing, not a soul. It's... not right, he thinks.

Link blinks back at the evacuee. That was very, very creepy. "...are there no wounded?" he asks, then after a moment, he looks towards Paula, and gestures forward. They better keep looking. "Keep track of how many evacuees we have, Paula. We need to make sure there's room for us."

Lita finds the location at last. She continues to relay over the radio. Slowly, she kicks on impulse engines and moves to convene with the Packmobile where the survivors will be located.

Another fighter moves in the way of the laser, exploding in a brief puff of flame. Considering that the frigate has an escort of four flights of lance fighters, this could take a while, but they're -still- not making any aggressive moves. (Of course, considering that the frigate is much smaller and should really be classed as a corvette doesn't help anything either.) As for the carrier, it comes to a halt and just sits there, though it begins launching multigun corvettes which form up as an escort for it.

When he hears the words 'the ship!' Anakin immediately gives chase; he pays Maya's words a /little/ mind, but not much. Regardless of /what/ they are, they're hostile! And they /might/ be headed for the Ludendorff. Gesturing again for Maya to follow, he maintains just enough distance from the Realians that he can't quite do more than graze them with his lightsaber on occasion.

Paula smiles a little, "Right." Last thing Paula wanted was to run out of room and get forced to stay on a space station that was PROBABLY going to end up self-destructing. Grinning, the girl scampers onwards, "I hope we can find the others later. If..worse comes to worse, we'll go out the way they came." If the Palace warps/teleports within the station still function.

Maya says "..." She's not pleased, Anakin would likely sense a flare of anger from her but she switches out to a spell of her's she now focues on casting a spell upon the relians. "I'll impcpasate them we can get some answers out of them." She now attemps to stun some of the realians with the spell. Nothing she can do right now. She'll calm down as she's gotta focus on the living but she's got sympathy for the Relians in general, much like the Jinam combat cyborgs of her world. But for now she's moving to try and disable the relians without killing them. For now she follows. Hey if it works they might have someone alive to question about this. But in the end they have a job to do, and find out what the hades happened.

"I didn't see any," Fina quietly answers Link with a sad shake of her head. With a reverent nod to the departing survivors, she takes the Hylean and Chosen Girl's lead and follows onward with Cupil taking the rear. Someone still has a happy smile, though the little blob doesn't seem to have any other emotions, it seems.

Phantom does not 'yow!' or utter any embarrassing exclamations. The disturbing laughter was his first clue that things weren't going to go smoothly. Eerie creepy humanoids. He jerks to the side, flattening himself against the smooth metal exterior and shoots a look at Fefnir. "All you, bro," he mutters into his mouthpiece. "Make me a door."

The firepower rushing out of the hole does not cause much alarm from the flame Guardian, muttering something about 'taking the dove and turning it into a mobile assault platform', nodding at Phantom before switching to thermal to determine how the people on the other side are placed.

In the meantime, his gun begins charging some firey plasma as once Fefnir determined a decent angle, he rushes forward with a battle roar, jamming his gun into the hole and 'purifying' the inside so he can blow an entrance without the bothersome bullets and whatsnot.

He doesn't even pay attention to the screams or anything happening inside as he pumps the place full of incinerating flames, instead setting up the detpack in his other hand to jam it in the hole, and back away quickly.

"Say cheeese."

The Ludendorff is large. Thus, the explosion from Fefnir's detonation equipment only causes a faint rumble inside of the main body of the ship. The Realians inside of that small chamber are now retired, to use a phrase that the reploids are familiar with.

Approaching the bridge, Ziggy will discover a simple obstacle, now; the door has been shut and, apparently, welded closed. There may be other ways around, but the primary entrance has been sealed.

The Hitler takes another shot at the frigate; this time, three laser weapons come into play. The reason for this may be clear if one takes a long view; the Realians, in their retreat, seem to be moving in an orderly and swift fashion towards the main docking coupling, where the unfortunately-named Galaxy Federation destroyer is docked. Convienently-painted arrows and signs on the wall verify this impression.

The technicans and scientists are unresponsive as they board the bus. Relatively speaking, there should be quite a few more of them... but then, the station did not seem utterly wrecked from outside. Perhaps the others are only cut off?

This time, when the frigate is shot at, it banks and begins accelerating. It would have been missed by two out of three, but lance fighters zip into place to intercept them anyway, further weakening their numbers. While it would have seemed unimportant earlier, now the fifteen remaining lancers break from their protective detail into a claw formation, heading for the Hitler. The frigate comes in rapid fashion to the carrier's landing bay, the dozen or so multi-gun corvettes retaining their place in their sphere formation.

Apparently the continued laser fire has drawn someone's ire.

There's ALWAYS a catch. Getting to the bridge: Uneventful. Entering the bridge: Problematic. Ah well, one thing Ziggy has learned is that no job is ever smooth. Given the urgency at Lady A's revelation that the Ludendorff is the source of the rift, Ziggy decides to try the direct approach now, and risk losing his stealthy cover. It's the dangerous course of action, but right now, they need answers. Even if knocking the door down will draw attention to his location, he'll still be stealth, so he still has an advantage.

That being said, door, meet Ziggy's foot. You'll find it leaves a lasting impression.

Phantom whistles, poking his head around the blast-scalloped edge of the ship. "Damn. Have I told you before that I'm glad you're on our side?" He swings easily into the ship's interior, maneuvering carefully around the lifeless bodies. Did they ever have life to begin with?

"What I want to know," Copy X speaks from the outside, continuing to monitor activities from a nice safe happy distance, "is why they're intent on attacking the Ceres station. It has little importance even to us, objectively speaking. Just a research center. Take some of them alive. See if you can find a data terminal to jack into, Leviathan can take it from there."

Phantom nods, and glances at Fefnir. "I take the bow, you take the poopdeck?" he smiles hopefully.

Link looks over at Paula as they move down the hallways towards wherever or whoever they need to find still. "...maybe Lady A can tell us where we need to go to meet up with her?" he suggests, looking back at Fina. "...I uh.. what abilities do you have?" he asks in confusion.

Anakin stops as he nears the docking passage; the anomaly seems like the most 'important' aspect of the mission to the Skywalker boy, so naturally he wants to make sure he's headed in the right direction. After all, it might explain the /other/ factors -- the ships, the clone-like men and women... Sometimes, he isn't /all/ stabby.

The Eaglelander is going to continue looking for survivors of course, "Maybe. Let's see if we can find anyone else here." She's all to glad to continue evacuations, especially with nobody shooting at them, it makes things thankfully easy. "I really want to know what all these realians are doing hurting people." At least she hoped they were realians. Part of her almost wished they were Kirschwassers, but that'd probably just make things needlessly messy, especially if Albedo was somehow involved in this.

"Not this week." answers the strongest of the Guardians, moving inside second and using his body as a shield for those who will follow. He nods once at the objectives, answering with a solid "Will do sir."

And then the Ninja makes his suggestion, which seems to take Fefnir aback. "I will have nothing to do with po-" his angry expression fades, as he hits his forehead with an open metal palm. "Right, spaceship, naval terms...nevermind. I'll handle it. Our first objective is finding some kind of data access point so we can get a map of this huge thing, and we'll figure out a plan from there. No prisonners unless they're unarmed and apt to be interrogated. Let's move."

That said, the Neo-Arcadian general mutters something that can easily be understood as "Where the $#(@ is a poopdeck anyway..."

Maya would agree, with Anakin about the anomoly as she keeps up with the Jedi, and now she wonders what could it be? It can't be the song, the Relians are too lucid, at normal int levels. Not rabid mad men and women killing anything that moves.

"Me?" Fina smiles sheepishly as she hikes along from the rear. "Vyse says I'm the best he's seen at casting Arcadian magic, which from what I've read seems to be like most other magic in other zones." It's a big catalog, that oughta sum it up quickly. "I also have my special powers, which can turn people to stone, mend wounds, and restore others from whatever ails them." Cupil zooms forward with a chirp, and Fina giggles again, "And Cupil transforms into weapons. He's my protector."

Anyone with various and sundry scanners operating would be able to detect the increased activity on the Hitler as it warms up again. Anakin and Maya will be able to see just what is going on, if Lady A's words did not tell them; they are reboarding the craft.

There are bodies; not very many. Ceres Station was not very crowded at the time, despite the heavy response of the mysterious invaders.

The bridge door opens at Ziggy's podial encouragement to reveal a few less-intimidating Realians seated at various navigation stations. It takes them a full second to produce sidearms and begin firing at the cyborg. As for the Realians elsewhere... well, they seem to be -like- humans, based on what's left over. However, the resemblance is not perfect, although it was much better when they were intact.

A convienent wall-mounted electronic map would show Paula the places which have not yet been shot up. It seems that the main force of the assault was centered just above and below the main computer-operations level. Every now and then, the screen flickers, perhaps from damage to systems.

Phantom nods soberly, turning towards the ship's front. Only then does he allow a @#$*-eating grin to appear on his lips. Ha ha ha, Fefnir got the poopdeck. He finds this intensely amusing, and childishly so, only for the name alone.

Meanwhile, outside the ship, Copy X frowns. The place seems heavily armed from inside. He trusts that his generals will be capable of handling unfriendly fire. "There will be no shame in aborting the mission should things grow too heated. I'm not losing either of you for the mere sake of curiosity. Be cautious."

Anakin starts to run again, at a rapid pace; now that he knows which ship he's headed for, he has a better grip on mission objectives. They aren't much beyond 'find out what the hell is going on', but at least they're there. His eyes dart around momentarily, taking in the entirety of the Hitler's docking area -- and the bodies that he's leaving behind in the process of running there.

A full second is all Ziggy needs. He'll no doubt recieve a bit of damage from the spray of bullets, even with his stealth cover, but he's put up with worse. And since they don't seem to be the highest grade Military Realians he shouldn't have any problem dispatching them. His elbowblade snaps into place as he quickly advances on the nearest Realian to start. Once the Realians are taken care of, he'll have to disable the Ludendorff's weapon's fire, and download a copy of the ship's logs.

Paula stops upon seeing the map, giving it a hard look. She certainly didn't want to split up and risk running into something nasty, "...the assault was centered around here, according to this, so odds are if anyone was on that level, they've been completely cut off from any evacuation routes. Any leftover people should be in there." she motions to the others before taking off to where the main computer level WOULD be. "Let's go!"

The carrier begins to turn, moving upward away from the station, slowly, but still facing it. As for the lance fighters, however, they enjoy their time without being fired upon thanks to whatever distractions there are on the ship - once in range, they rapidly pepper ruby-red laser beams at the destroyer, their first attack run just the warm-up. They shoot past, turn around and kick in the afterburners, now beginning to go for the engines. The one thing lancers are good for - precise system targeting.

Just the two of them? Well, seems Leviathan will be doing the data download via long distance, but that's what data relays are for, really. Having no frikkin clue where this deck of poop is, Fefnir decides to go off on a sub-mission of his own: Punch people until the location of the target can be gained.

And so he heads toward the aft section, thermal active on one eye only and scanning for anything that looks remotely alive while the other eye remained on regular targetting for anything that wasn't alive but dangerous. His armcannon begins to warm up another charge, which he blasts into the floor to go down one level, and charging again to make himself a passable hole: Stairs and elevators are for wusses.

"Alright, Paula, lead the way..." Link responds, as Navi zips back to him. "Hey! Listen! The evacuees are on board!"

"Whew, thanks, Navi. Just be ready to guide another group." Link responds, "Let's go!"

Lady A hears the radio transmission... and it confirms one of her fears, especially from last night. A computer anomaly, which is information and not physical, might have traveled into their systems.... and then relians...

She shakes her head and gets back on the radio.

Maya breaks into a run as well to keep up with the Jedi, and she's doing a decent job. Now what's going on ahead she fears it might not be something native to Videoland behind this utter madness, but who knows. For now she's running after Anakin.

Fina nods once in understanding to Paula and quietly takes off after her and Link.

The Realians on the bridge go down readily. They're navigation specialists, although they may well not be the only ones. Their faces seem furious, somehow.

Fefnir and the other Guardians will discover no Realians in the hallways. When they find a weapon control room, however - there are many - they will be rewarded by heavy automatic-rifle fire within a few moments. They seem to be bunched up in them.

Squads of AGWS launch from the Hitler as several of its weapon emplacements are damaged and wrecked by the lancer fighters. The humanoid machines, some with weapons pods and others with conventional (if space-proofed) rifle weapons, begin to engage the fighters; while no one of them is likely a match for the fightercraft, they seem to be moving in swarms. Around now, the Hitler undocks from the station, as well, engines powering up despite the fire; weapons emplacements that were -not- damaged in the first run begin to make their presence known as well, with blue beams in quantity.

Lifts from the 'upper' level on downwards are functional. If they are keyed to go down to those levels, a warning bleeps, and a dispassionate computer voice with a hint of distortion in it reports, in some detail, that atmosphere suits will be needed due to pressure loss in the computer levels.

Way to go, Ziggy! You took down a room full of unarmed, non-combat trained Realians! Well, it's a tough job, but he has to do what must be done. That being said, Ziggy moves to the ship's controls, to put an end to the Ludendorff's weapons systems. (He should PROBABLY shut the door to the bridge at this point but, well, forced entry and all...) Once he finishes with the weapons controls, he moves over to the command console, and attempts to access the ship's logs. Daily reports, sensor scans, captain's logs (Stardate etc etc, you know the drill), everything he can pull up from the Fortress's Riftripper fiasco several days prior, to today. He has with him a handy-dandy Data Padd with which to download the information to to take back with him and analyse later.

Anakin seems surprised as the Hitler begins to undock; this could get /really/ bad /really/ fast. On the other hand, he's been stranded on ships before. The more immediate concern, however, is investigating the ship, not getting off it. He begins to move toward the nearest lift, looking to Maya. "You likely know this thing better than I do; any ideas?"

Paula narrows her eyes, staring at the lifts, figuring that the loss of pressure must mean a hole somewhere..and that if there were people down there, "'s not very likely that anyone is alive but." she looks to the other two, "..we'd need protection to get there." she eyes the other two, noting Link's probably the best equipped out of all of them to do so as Paula wasn't always so trustful of the whole ghost suit in low-atmosphere places. Sure, it's been proven to work, but Paula was a space chicken. "Link, I think you'll have to go ahead to see if there's anyone down there."

The lancer fighters are firing and Lady A is unsure what they're doing. She has one of the better combat ships around, so she starts up heavier engines and prepares to intercept the attacking ships. She sees now that they belong to Captain X, meaning that he's probably firing on the ship just to be a space nuisance. She lines up her sights on one of X's fighters... tries a hail, but prepares to fire.

Fina looks at Paula in her ghost suit, then at Link who should have his amazing array of masks. Mental note: Next time, bring the Yafutoman diving suit. A thought pops into her head, and the Silvite looks to the little PSI and asks, "Perhaps there's another way we can access the computer, Paula?"

Link frowns for a moment, then nods. "..alright, I'll go." Leaning over, the Hylian quickly gives Paula a kiss on the cheek, before sealing up the suit provided to him by Master Chief and Hammer, and opening the lift, quickly moves in to start to seek out any possible surviving evacuees, flicking on the suit's light to scan in front of him.

The lancers continue to attack the ship itself, actually unheeding of the AGSW's for a strafing run, even as they begin firing at the fighters as they streak by at eight hundred meters per second. Until one of their number takes sufficient damage to explode. At this point, the fighters begin to switch targets, stopping their attempt to disable the Hitler's engines in favor of removing the AGWSes. While they make for hard targets to hit, being smaller than the fighters themselves, hits will doubtlessly be scored on them. And mobile suits of armor are probably not designed to withstand weaponry made for putting holes in ships.

As for Lita, they're not paying her any heed from all indications. They're preoccupied. As for whoever's in charge on the carrier, however, who can say?

The brief delay between noticed and shot at is enough for Fefnir to dive for cover, transmitting <Under fire, engaging, preparing to secure section.> to the other Guardian of the operation, who is X knows where in the ship by now, probably scouting and trying to figure out what's going on in his own ninjaesque ways.

Seeing how lightly armored these things are, as Fefnir refused to refer to them as full fledged people when they were soldier units just as he was, the Flame Guardian swaps his weapon cannon module for high fragmentation flak cannon mode, the larger barrel glinting in the light before he leaps away from cover and his optics begin to lock on all hostiles, flak blasts flying out as quickly as the weapon can reload them to turn the realians to ground beef. He moves in short strafes to take as few bullets as possible between cover, jumping to throw off the enemy aim when he can, sometimes firing a solid flak shell that explodes on impact inside to throw them off. What he DOES avoid however is firing anywhere near what may seem to be the various computer terminals, wanting as many undamaged as possible, hopefully the stray shrapnel will not destroy them all.

Maya feels the ship starting to undock "This bad, very bad!" She notes. "The bridge the majority of the controls are there. Let's move if we don't take control of the ship we're going to be in big trouble." She notes "Or we could try to jack a pair of AGWS to get off this ship but its likely any left inact are in use. I'd say go for the bridge and keep this ship from getting away."

Fina blinks at the kiss, and turns away with an embarassed blush. Mental Note Addendum: Scrap diving suit, find battle armor. And bring Vyse along more often. Still turned away, she coughs and adds, "I'll wait here while Paula heads back to check on the survivors, Link. If you find a way into the computers, let me know, I should be good with advanced technology."

Paula does just that and heads back to the Packmobile!

There seems to only be one file available on the computers, and it begins downloading into Ziggy's data-pad, even before he turns the downloads on. It stops, after a moment, and is replaced with an encrypted file that doesn't seem very large.

When Fefnir strafes past the same doorway again, after the first time through, he is not confronted with more gunfire. Instead, the Realians, several of whom are maimed, perhaps fatally, lunge out - aiming to grapple and overbear the Guardian to the ground. Several have combat knives, which are now brought into play.

The Hitler, unaware that it has a Jedi on board, begins to move away from the station. Its anti-fighter weapons continue to fire, the AGWS taking heavy losses from the blasts of the lancers. However, they are quite numerous and continue to press their attack, some of them charging forwards in obvious suicide attacks, to attempt to disable a Lancer at the cost of their own lives.

There are, fortunately, some confined shelters inside of the computer level. Gaping holes indicate that there was entry by AGWS; many pieces of computer equipment seem to have been cut loose and hauled out.

Anakin nods to Maya. "Straight to the bridge it is." He dives into the lift, turning his lightsaber back off; in the same smooth motion as he dives, he taps the 'bridge' button and spins back to a full upright position, keeping the lift in an 'unready' position for as long as it takes for Maya to get in there. He instinctually knows just how to position himself so that some safety feature or another kicks in for a few seconds; if there's one thing Anakin can 'feel out', it's mechanical systems.

Lady A doesn't fire on X's ships; it's right that he has her outgunned for the moment, even if she belives he severely overestimates his pilots. She keeps moving, forming up to get better life readings on the Hitler, which may have to be disabled entirely.

The lancers are cut down to well less than a dozen, some strafing the ship between runs at the AGWS. They abort that, however, beginning to go for nothing but taking out the suits, though they aren't made for that, really. And that's where the carrier comes in. It begins to close distance with the Hitler, and the screen of multi-gun corvettes around it begin to fire at the AGWS as well. Unlike the lance fighters, they're designed to pick off small, fast-moving targets.

The carrier also begins to launch a few more ships - two flights of bombers. The surviving lancers fall back, pairing up with the bombers to clear the way for bombing runs. The fighters are all content to let the corvettes take out the AGWS while they deal with the larger problem - the Hitler's engines. Because now Captain X is unhappy, and he intends to express that to the crew of that ship.

As the one file Ziggy managed to locate (intentionally or no) downloads onto his Padd, he turns to another console and attempts a ship-wide scan for any non-realian survivors. The original crew, any trace of ANYONE. Failing that, he attempts to locate the ship's self destruct, calling on his old training as a UMN cyberterrorism expert to crack the passwords. It may be cold, but if there are no other survivors, then the realians are expendable if it means stopping the attack. It's a last resort, though.

But will Shion ever let him have it if she hears about it.

The Flame Guardian's eyes widen at the actions. To him, there is a concept of bravery but there is also one of stupidity to suicidal levels, and this is definitly suicidally stupid. He unseals one of his stronger weapons just in case, trying to mow them down as they come, but the numbers and inhuman speed displayed by the realians is too much.

Some knives get a poor angle and only dent his armor, but others seem to manage to bite quite well, causing Fefnir to grit his teeth and bear the damage warnings. He sees no choice, as at such range he can't afford to just punch them one by one risking a shot to the head, and activates his EX Drive.

The air around the reploid grows warmer at frightening speed, becoming near unbreathable just a second before Fefnir becomes engulfed in a rising fiery twister. He's probably a walking heat danger blip on any scanning console but he doesn't care, any contact at less than 30 centimeters charring flesh and turning bones to blacken ashes should they be unprotected. This is what he does when he needs distance, and that energy does not go to waste as the gun switches back to flamelauncher mode, raised toward any survivors.

The fireball storm would be sufficient to burn a small village, and it's not that the Neo-Arcadian WANTS to cause this much damage even if he enjoys it judging by his roar, but rather, all that energy HAS to go somewhere.

From: Samael (Conn)
Date: Sun Dec 04 22:45:57 2005 Folder: 0 Message: 16
Status: Unread
Subject: The File

(The encryption is deliberately easy to break. The text file reads:)

You should be aware of who I am, or you will be able to ask Ms. Marshall, Ms. Knight, Mr. Stewart, Mr. Keane, Mr. Onizuka, Mr. Cross, Mr. Cole - yes, I know about him, too; he may not have appeared, but we have other forms of recording - Mr. Johnson, Mr. Felton, or Mr. Michaels. If this is one of you, hello! It's good to know you're reading. I'll be seeing you soon.
Once you are aware of my identity, I'm sure you will be aware of what I want. You have, at present, two options: Assistance or resistance.

IS 54:16


Copy X folds his arms, keeping track of how much fuel is being expended to keep him stabilized in space. Sensors say, he's got plenty.

The only life present on either of the ships is trace residues, algaes in the coolant systems and stray plants in the tiny rec. gardens, as well as Anakin Skywalker and Maya. All of the remainer is Realians, although there are those stray reploids on the Ludendorff.

The weapons systems seem to have been locked out on the Ludendorff's bridge, but the self-destruct override is under manual, button-pressing control in case of final disaster. Down lower, Realians die as Fefnir's blazing fire burns into them; Phantom's gas has no clear result.

On board the Hitler, there are shudders and tremors, lights flickering as the bombers begin hitting it. As if echoing its enemy, the Realian crew of the ship turn their weapons, now, on the Taidaani carrier directly, aiming high-speed missiles as well as the blue lasers towards the craft as they struggle to retain steerage. The AGWS go down in droves, although they return fire as best they can; they seem to have no regard for their own safety.

The lift to the bridge, after a lurch, continues on upwards. There are no shouts or screams from anywhere on the ship, despite the faint stink of burning insulation, somewhere in its bowels.

<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "Hm... I'm picking up what appears to be reploid signatures on the Ludendorff. Any of ours?"
<Fac-Palace> Anakin Skywalker says, "... Right, bad idea. Can someone stop whoever's firing on the ship?"

Phantom is disappointed. Ninja gas is infallible. It HAS to work! But it didn't! Fine. Be that way, Realians. He'll just go for one of the oldest tricks in the ninja-book then. He opens the door, the room filled with gas, and begins shooting out the lights. Do THEY have thermal vision? Huh? Do they? Ha! The ninja will triumph this night! He flips into the room, taking to the ceiling to start firing stunning shots at the Realians below. His oversized shuriken rests in the other hand, juuuuuuust in case he gets really desperate.

<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "*click*click*beep* Well, if those reploid signatures ARE some of our allies, then I suggest they move to evacuate the Ludendorff. I'm setting the self destruct with enough time for myself to evacuate."

<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, ".......oh, and Lady A?"

Well with nothing more to do on the bridge, Ziggy pockets the Padd once the decryption is finished, then activates the self destruct, setting about 10 minutes reprieve, and locking out the deactivation with his own brand of encrypting. He makes sure to have the self-destruct announced, too, just for the sake of the unknown party who decided to walk in. Even if some Realians make it to the bridge, there's little chance they'll break his encryption in the time alotted. Once that's taken care of, Ziggy bolts out of the bridge and heads back to his craft, top-speed.

Meanwhile, alarms all across the ship blare: WARNING! SELF DESTRUCT IN 9 MINUTES, 59 SECONDS.

As they say on Zebes, Time Bomb Set! Escape Immediately!

The carrier does not appear to much like the missiles hitting it, though it does not shy away. The crew is battle-hardened, and they know exactly what the ship's tolerances are. It can take a lot more missiles than that and stay in the fight. A few of the missiles actually manage to get stopped by point defense, but that's a rarity, most of them impacting the bottom of the ship. The lasers also impact, seeming to do more damage than the missiles that make it through. The carrier then begins to slowly turn so that it's 'upside down' in relation to the destroyer, presenting its heaviest armor front to keep the damage to a minimum, since it's unavoidable.

Now it's time for Plan B - the carrier begins launching small salvage corvettes. Much as the old heavily armored Taiidan carriers, which hadn't been actively fielded in a good century where they're from, they were discarded in favor of all-in-one craft. Eight of them leave the bay and begin moving toward the destroyer, and the multi-gun corvettes break from the carrier and keep pace with them. Once the Realians catch on to the fact that Captain X intends to use them to immobilize their ship, they're bound to become a primary target. As for the bombers, they begin targeting weapons, to cut down on what's being thrown at the carrier.

<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "..oh, Lady A?"
<Fac-Palace> Lady A says, "Yes?"
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "I found something in the ship's database you will need to see."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "Does the signature 'IS 54:16' sound at all familiar?"
<Fac-Palace> Lady A says, "IS, 54, 16?"
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "That's what the message is signed with. Perhaps it might make sense when you see the entire thing. It makes little sense to me, though."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "It appears the file has been planted by someone."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "At any rate, I have set the self-destruct mechanism of the Ludendorff and am evacuating. I'll send a copy of the message with my report once I am clear."
<Fac-Palace> Lady A says, "A Bible verse, maybe."
<Fac-Palace> Simon Belmont says, "What?"
<Fac-Palace> Lady A says, "But yes, I need to see the message."
<Fac-Palace> Monika Allenford says, "Bible...that's one of the religious books, isn't it?"

Short summary as long poses aren't lasting long before the network goes kablooey: Link and Paula are busy taking care of the survivors aboard the Packmobile. Fina, meanwhile, is still aboard the station, as it seems the place won't be self-destructing any time soon. Thus, she can start the work of getting people aboard to rescue anyone else stranded, and find out just what in the moons was going on around here.

<Fac-Palace> Lady A says, "Yes. Simon, thoughts?"
<Fac-Palace> Dante Sparda says, "In my zone, it's one of /The/ books."
<Fac-Palace> Simon Belmont says, "Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy."

The only life present on either of the ships is trace residues, algaes in the coolant systems and stray plants in the tiny rec. gardens, as well as Anakin Skywalker and Maya. All of the remainer is Realians, although there are those stray reploids on the Ludendorff.

The weapons systems seem to have been locked out on the Ludendorff's bridge, but the self-destruct override is under manual, button-pressing control in case of final disaster. Down lower, Realians die as Fefnir's blazing fire burns into them; Phantom's gas has no clear result.

On board the Hitler, there are shudders and tremors, lights flickering as the bombers begin hitting it. As if echoing its enemy, the Realian crew of the ship turn their weapons, now, on the Taidaani carrier directly, aiming high-speed missiles as well as the blue lasers towards the craft as they struggle to retain steerage. The AGWS go down in droves, although they return fire as best they can; they seem to have no regard for their own safety.

The lift to the bridge, after a lurch, continues on upwards. There are no shouts or screams from anywhere on the ship, despite the faint stink of burning insulation, somewhere in its bowels.

<Fac-Palace> Dante Sparda says, "...Shoulda given props to my dad though. All he's got are some unpublished books I managed to get transcripted copies of from the Vatican."

The carrier does not appear to much like the missiles hitting it, though it does not shy away. The crew is battle-hardened, and they know exactly what the ship's tolerances are. It can take a lot more missiles than that and stay in the fight. A few of the missiles actually manage to get stopped by point defense, but that's a rarity, most of them impacting the bottom of the ship. The lasers also impact, seeming to do more damage than the missiles that make it through. The carrier then begins to slowly turn so that it's 'upside down' in relation to the destroyer, presenting its heaviest armor front to keep the damage to a minimum, since it's unavoidable.

Now it's time for Plan B - the carrier begins launching small salvage corvettes. Much as the old heavily armored Taiidan carriers, which hadn't been actively fielded in a good century where they're from, they were discarded in favor of all-in-one craft. Eight of them leave the bay and begin moving toward the destroyer, and the multi-gun corvettes break from the carrier and keep pace with them. Once the Realians catch on to the fact that Captain X intends to use them to immobilize their ship, they're bound to become a primary target. As for the bombers, they begin targeting weapons, to cut down on what's being thrown at the carrier.

Taking a breather, the Neo-Arcadian is about to relax just as something VERY unpleasant chimes on the internal airwaves.

"It's going to be one of THOSE days..." mutters Fefnir, shaking his head before making his way to the fire control terminal, tapping a few keys to see if he can't bring up the ship's internal network display and see what he can access from here. It takes him a nearly unnacceptable amount of seconds simply to familiarise himself with the keys, taking a few moments to find a proper slot to jack in the data relay so Leviathan can try doing some of her magic as well: Time IS limited, unfortunatly, and he'd rather leave with something concrete rather than totally emptyhanded. His audio sensors however are fully focused outward, in case other people are coming his way: Shot in the back is not a way to go.

<Fac-Palace> Lady A says, "That's the verse? ... Hm, not helpful."
<Fac-Palace> Simon Belmont says, "What's the context?"
<Fac-Palace> Lady A says, "Yes, go ahead and send the whole message, when you can."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "Once I am clear of the Ludendorff."

Lady A has her attention redirected now to something more important than arguing with Captain X. In her head, she's also pondering the feasibility of a mass last-second Alderaan evacuation. It isn't as if she doesn't have some time to figure the logistics.

Phantom's head jerks up at the sound of the alarms. "What? Self-destruct?!" He looks down at the Realians and scowls, narrowing his eyes. "What did you do THAT for? Baka baka baka..." he growls, listening to the messages going over the radio. Sounds like Fefnir was able to accomplish the task before he could. "Fine, I'm leaving." ZOT! He teleports off of the ship, floating a good distance away.

"Do as Captain X says, General Fefnir. Depart the ship immediately if the data upload links are secure." Leviathan should be downloading as much information as her slippery little cyber-fingers can manage right now, to a remote databank just in case it's corrupted. "We're leaving."

Something comes over Anakin's private communicator; it's unclear what, but it's something urgent. "... Change in plans -- get to an escape pod," Anakin says, igniting his lightsaber and carving a hole in the bottom of the elevator. Naturally, the next step is jumping through and /trying/ to catch on the floor where he assumes there are escape pods. It's hasty, but he doesn't have many better options.

Ziggy will likely see Realians running through the rather empty hallways of the ship on their way to escape pods. The depopulation of the vessel means that the pods are abundant, on both vessels. The data download does nothing for a moment, but after that, a very large file begins transferring to that remote Neo-Arcadian server.

The Hitler remains maniacally defiant, like its semi-legendary (to that Zone) namesake. Even as more of the weapon installations go silent, they continue firing upwards, towards the carrier. The bridge doors have been welded, much as on the Ludendorff. Anakin will have the good fortune to discover that the layout of these sorts of ships is basically similar; the hangar bay should be simple enough to find.

The station is left alone, for now. Perhaps they were not, in fact, ou tto destroy it?

Maya says "Good luck, Anakin. I'm still going to try for a stab at the birdge. If It faills i'll follow suit and escape." She hopes she's making the right choice but whom knows, now.

If the Realians make no move to attack him, Ziggy ignores them for now. While letting potentially infected Realians loose would be a bad idea, there's no way the cyborg can stop ALL of them. Best to focus on his own survival to get the message out, then worry about cleaning up later.

Presuming he gets back to his craft without incident, Ziggy evacuates the ship immediately. Once he reaches a safe enough distance, he begins a text transmission to the Palace Database.

Anakin is on his way out when Maya responds; he'll likely get in touch with her again a little later, after the whole mess.

It takes a few moments of getting reacquainted, but Anakin manages to find the escape pods without /too/ much trouble. It's a good thing, too; he has a high-ranking Republic official to meet on some sort of important business or other. The details weren't really clear. He just knows where he has to be; perhaps it'll be about the war in his own zone, or the Republic's official stance on the 'other' war.

Lady A is pulling out herself, though it's for other reasons: she feels she's gotten all she can get. But she keeps the scanner active, getting out of what she presumes is the blast radius while checking the scanners for the open warp zone to see if it is still present after the destruction.

Well, now that Leviathan seems to have gotten her little hands on the phat lewt and Phantom no longer registers on his HUD of the ship interior with much unexplored map segments, Fefnir turns away of the computer and begins pacing around the room while swapping guns, going for the Hold Ground gear.

Both weapons switched, one to scattermissiles and the other to particle beam, the Flame Guardian scans for ANYTHING. Movement is assumed to be hostile and shall be met with excessive force, until either the download is complete or he has to bail due to imminent selfdestruct.

<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "Report logged."

At this point the carrier isn't looking quite as great. It's starting to vent atmosphere in places. Granted, not enough to pose a serious threat yet, but it's damage that's being shown. It starts to pull back, trying to get out of weapon range. The lancers and multi-gun corvettes continue trying to pick off the AGWS, annoying things they are. As well as weaponry. The salvage corvettes on the other hand are moving around the ship, intending to get a lock onto it. Granted, if they -do- clamp on capturing the ship is out of the question, but they can point its weapons away from the carrier.

<Fac-Palace> Lady A says, "... May not have appeared?"
<Fac-Palace> Simon Belmont says, "That is a foreboding clue."
<Fac-Palace> Lady A says, "What we need, is to locate the small rift and seal it."
<Fac-Palace> Monika Allenford says, "...there is one? Where?"
<Fac-Palace> Lady A says, "But if something escaped already.... ... Hm, no, we'll seal the rift straight away. It's one person, I can send him back myself."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "There was no other information I could obtain from the database that was of any use, I'm afraid."
<Fac-Palace> Lady A says, "Out in this ship."
<Fac-Palace> Lady A says, "It left the area after Mother Brain opened it, so it's not surprising you didn't see it before."
<Fac-Palace> Monika Allenford says, "...I don't know how it could move. It's a point in space..."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "The UMN control center's scans confirmed what Monika Allenford concluded, but they were under the assumption that a rift would be stationary and confined to the Second Miltian star system..."
<Fac-Palace> Simon Belmont says, "This person picked a very specific piece of scripture to quote. Read in context, it doesn't seem to imply much."

Copy X isn't leaving the area just yet. Phantom is long gone. Harpuia remains, playing guardian. "Come on, Leviathan," Copy X frowns, tapping his finger impatiently. Fefnir had better not explode. He LIKED the trigger-happy general.

<Fac-Palace> Presea Combatir says, "Who would want a name that long?"
<Fac-Palace> Monika Allenford says, "A rift should be stationary. I don't know why it wasn't. It could be moved, I suppose, but it would be very difficult to do so...I don't think it should be mobile on its own."
<Fac-Palace> Monika Allenford says, "Perhaps it's, oh, a title. I know there are some people who are in the Fortress who would take an excuse to call themselves 'the destroyer'."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "I do not have an answer either, but the evidence is before us."
<Fac-Palace> Simon Belmont says, "The verses speak of God's protection of the people of Israel. Yet the passage, by itself, implies one who considers himself to be like God."
<Fac-Palace> Lady A says, "No, it's not a name, just a clue."
<Fac-Palace> Presea Combatir says, "An odd clue, then."
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "If that is all for now, I'll be returning to the Kukai Foundation, as my craft recieved some damage when it forcibly docked with the Ludendroff."
<Fac-Palace> Chun-Li says, "You all right there, Ziggy?"
<Fac-Palace> Ziggurat 8 says, "Yes, I'm unharmed. I met with little resistance inside."
<Fac-Palace> Monika Allenford says, "In any case, the device should be able to close a small Rift. if it can be found. I'm sorry, but it's already been quite stressed would be safer to close it tomorrow, unless it is /very/ small."
<Fac-Palace> Lady A says, "Yes, we can do it tomorrow. Whatever was coming through already did so."

The Ludendorff has a minute or less to live as it sheds the escape pods as if they were fleas. They fire rockets, steering towards the asteroids; a futile maneuver for fugitives, perhaps.

The Hitler loses a deck's containment. There's a whoosh of atmosphere leaking as the guns begin to fall silent. It shifts position, now, aligning its nose towards the carrier with ponderous slowness, most of its maneuverability gone under the pounding assaults. The bridge door on this ship, too, is welded shut.

Fortunately, the bridge deck has its own escape pods, in case such a route is preferred.

<Fac-Palace> Monika Allenford says, "I'm sorry. We still have no backup didn't overload Friday, but I think it should have one more day to discharge."

Ziggurat 8's craft flies through space, back to the Kukai Foundation. Move Zig, for Great Justice!

<Fac-Palace> Simon Belmont says, "A weaponmaker... a weapon made to destroy."
<Fac-Palace> Monika Allenford says, "...all weapons are made to destroy."
<Fac-Palace> Monika Allenford says, "The only difference is what it is used to destroy. That's all."

If he was organic, Fefnir would begin sweating right now.

"Leviathan, I could use some good news anytime now..." he thinks aloud, transmitting at the same time. And as if on cue, he gets the call to get out, activating his teleporting system and vanishing as a single white beam of light, back to the Commander and Harpuia, and also hopefully Phantom.

Copy X's head remains bowed as he listens to his radio, his impatience and anxiety building to a head. He's half-tempted to fire potshots at Ziggurat 8's ship...cyborgs, ugh...when Leviathan's voice is finally heard. "Transfer complete! Get out of there, Fef!"

"I concur," the reploid leader states calmly. "Let us depart. Come, Fefnir."

Onboard the carrier, Captain X's eyes widen ever so slightly. He recognizes immediately what that ship intends to do. His orders are barked rapidly to the crew, both locally and over the radio. "Lock salvage craft onto that thing and immobilize it. Hit the engines with everything we've got, and get it as far away from us as you can. Now!"

As such, the lancers, bombers and multigun corvettes -all- drop their current targets and move rearward, pounding away at the engines as rapidly as they can, while the salvagers lock on to at least try and point the thing back away from the carrier.

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