Author Topic: The Gambit  (Read 2346 times)

Offline Lancefighter

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The Gambit
« on: October 30, 2012, 04:47:43 AM »

I sat in my lounge aboard the fleets finest ship - Our beloved Spire Shadow Battleship. It was one of the weirdest things humanity has managed to construct.. Maybe more accurately, find. Idly, I pass the time looking through the journal I keep at my side at all times, a silent chronicle of my captaincy of this vessel.

Chronicle I, The Formative Years

I open to the beginning, and skim through the early years. They were perhaps the most tense of them all - I knew, as our leader, I needed to keep us safe. However, it was imperative that I find as much time as possible to seek friends within nebulas, hidden to the AI's omnipresent gaze. Initially, it was nothing more than showing up to try to aid in whatever way possible - In a minor battles, my ship could at least show up and provide support to nearby allies, tipping the tides ever so slightly in our favor. All of this changed when a forever nameless Spire contacted us, and 'taught' my ship some new tricks. It somehow changed itself.. Grew larger, and protruded menacing spices from its hull. At his point, I knew - I was in command of one of the most fear inspiring vessels in the galaxy.

From there, a jaunt into a nebula was something else entirely. My ship had the power to evenhandedly destroy starbases. It was a devastating power to wield, and one I am not sure I have come to grips with even today. The power this ship holds is something I had then thought was unmatched; To have the ability to destroy entire peoples, at my fingertips..

Through constant effort and listening, I made many friends in these hidden corners of the galaxy. I spent nearly 4 years securing my reputation among them, and securing their assistance against the AI menace. The coalition we formed was something previously unparalleled - This was the first time in many years that Humanity has finally had allies against weapons of our own creation.

Of course, nothing ever quite goes as planned. After my ship nearly tore itself apart growing one final time, I was contacted by a member of the Imperial Spire High Command. They gave me an offer I could not refuse. All I needed to do was commission gigantic cities for them to inhabit, and they would support my growing fleet in its goal to overthrow the AI overlords. The Spire previously held the reputation of being the one people the AI never quite could stand up to, making this quite the proposition indeed.

Chronicle II, the Interim

With the spire's proposal in mind, there were a few things left to be done. Great endeavors require Great planning, after all! I called a meeting of the senior crew, and began preparations for War. Messages were sent, and plans put into action. Our section of the galaxy, while large, also happened to have two key points of ingress - Points which I plan on taking, controlling, and defending, for humanity.

During the interim not much of interest took place - Humanity spread like a wave, passing through system after system, planting the seeds of industry far and wide. The Shadow ship, myself included, spent the time at the vanguard, securing our Rock, our foundation, our sole points of defense against the worst the AI can throw our way.

To defend this pair of worlds, I had a few tricks up my sleeve - In our travels among the nebulas, our friends managed to teach us a few things about building fortresses. We had acquired massive fortress designs of both the Spire and Zenith races, and each would find themselves the center of a carefully prepared stronghold.

Chronicle III, The Colonization

It started in the beginning of the 8th year. It was a glorious day, both for Humanity, and our Spire friends. This day was the day the first Spire City was completed. I must admit, the white spire minarets were beautiful in their own way, and a stark contrast to the darkness of space.

With the first city completed, we finally had the power to support our first spire capital ships. Beautiful on their own, and incredibly deadly when looked at the wrong way. These machines, while incredibly functional, also astoundingly captivating. Many of my days on patrol were spent in my quarters just gazing out at the spire cruisers, watching them glide through space more effortlessly than you could imagine. Even still, while on the bridge, I enjoyed watching the Spire ships discharge their weapons. Their bright lances lancing through the void, cutting down ship after ship. Their beam cannons saturating the space with light so intense, the AI ships just seem to dissapear in their glory.

This city was just the first to come - We consulted the Spire, and found that their cities can be configured to make absolutely stellar defensive structures, with laser cannons that rival the main guns of our fancy fortresses, and railguns that will make more swiss cheese out of AI hulls than you could imagine. Two such cities were placed, and they did indeed make excellent supplements to our Strongholds.

There was just one thing left to build, the Spire said - A capitol. So we built one.

Chronicle IV, The Gambit

I look back up from my journal. It seems the bells have rung. Here we are, at the end. I was being paged to the bridge.

I took a look around. My bridge crew, battle hardened warriors, having been under me for over a dozen years. The glorious spire fleet. I had not believed when they said they could construct a ship greater than my own, yet somehow they managed. Taking up the lead, directly in front of us, was the Glorious Spire Dreadnaught. A massive ship, deserving of it's title. Having seen her in action, she is nothing but a miracle of even Spire engineering. Our escort of the remainder of the Spire's fleet, Cruisers and Destroyers, each mounting a terrifying array of armament, were all set to go.

Today, we had, what once upon a time was a routine mission. A simple infiltration, survey, and escort. Of course, never before have we needed to go quite as deep into enemy territory as we have this time - We are being sent almost directly into the AI's backyard, a fairly heavily defended Core world. Not exactly a jaunt to be taken lightly this time around. Not much time for sitting around reminiscing anymore. I give word to power up the drives and make best speed. Its time to turn the tides one last time.

The path to Destruction is not one taken lightly. But it is, however, ground that many of us have tread before. We drift through a half dozen AI worlds that we have ravaged in the past, wreckage of our conquests still visible, despite great AI activity. Nothing that the AI has stationed here is a threat at all to my mighty fleet. The countless AI bombardment cannons serve as little except a reminder that we must stay alert. All of this changes when we reach our destination, however.

As we make repairs immediately prior to our final destination, I note some of the fleet using the nearby wormhole guard posts as target practice. While this is never a bad idea, I still send a reprimand over comms - My captains should never have their weapons unavailable if we were to get ambushed, even in a place as peaceful seeming as this. None the less, somehow each of the wormhole stations are destroyed before repairs are fully completed..

Time has come - I order drives spun up, and the fleet traverses the wormhole. I take quick note of the situation: Nothing immediately threatening, if you dont count the thousands of Core ships nearby. No dangerous gravity effects. Area seems clear of minefields. Immediately any guardians are cleared out, and I send the signal to the eggheads I brought along. The fleet cannot afford to waste any time, the survey must be completed as soon as possible. I spend some time making sure the scientists have as much room as they need to conduct their operations, spreading the fleet out defensively. The survey completes.

From here on, everything changed.

There was no longer any room for discussion. Things were set into motion that not even I could stop. The fleet regouped with a single intention in mind - Protect the Shard. The AI certainly did not take our discovery lightly, and and had already started throwing kitchen sinks our way. The fleet formed up around our find and began to execute our preplanned maneuver - A tight retreat back to South Rock. There is no time to do this gracefully, we have our goods and we must make sure we can get this back to Fleet Command. Anyone who fell behind would find themselves on their own. We simply could not afford the luxury of doing this carefully.

The Shard this time moved at quite the speed, besting even that of our Spire Corvettes. This was such a relief to many, as other shards in the past spent great amounts of time drifting at speeds your average housefly could best.. Something we had really hoped to avoid in our final hour. As the fleet made its way home, there was little discussion. Everyone know their roles, and everyone followed through. It was a clean operation, in and out as planned.

Chronicle V, The Darkest Night

With the Shard safely in the hands of Fleet Command, my men finally had a chance to grab some leave while repairs were put in. THe fleet had suffered losses form the excursion, but nothing we hadnt seen before, and frankly we were glad to have it over with.

However, this rest was not something we had much time to enjoy. Fleet Command wanted us in the field and battle ready as soon as possible; They planned on constructing the Receiver immediately. I cautioned them, telling them they could not understand the response the AI could bring upon us if we were to begin building that device. They did not listen..

If you could imagine for a moment what this must have been like. The Receiver was not your ordinary building, not at all. From the moment its frame was laid into space EVERYTHING rang like a bell. It was the most amazing feeling, the vibration of your entire body, your ship, and everything else. Certainly not one I enjoyed, but absolutely astonishing the power that bell wielded was astonishing.

However, with this.. The AI heard as well. And they were not happy.

The response previously to Spire habitation were not exactly 'kind' or even, 'welcoming'.. No, quite the opposite. I expect certainly something quite decisive from the AI. Yet as my fleet sits here, scanning the area over and over again, I see nothing. Not a single... "You mustve missed that day in tactical school!" comes blaring over the speakers. While my fleet had been sitting in South Rock, where previously all of the attention had been focused, the AI had redirected nearly everything to the East Rock, which had just fallen. Any other day, this would not be a big deal - Redirecting the fleet to cover reconstruction.

On this day, I dont think I would get the chance to experience a peaceful reconstruction, something tells me the AI simply wouldnt stand for that. Redirecting the fleet to cover would still be required though, and I made much haste. A fine example of the Fleet in action, I watched as the Dreadnaught herself took down two armored golems unaided, while the rest of the fleet was indisposed cleaning up their support. I glance over at the nav screens, to see South Rock in distress. The fleet redeploys itself again to support the failing City, while I send requests to the Engineer Corps to start rebuilding what they can of East Rock.

The situation at South Rock was thankfully not as bad as it could have been. The brunt of the force was expended destroying my other stronghold, leaving relatively little to mop up.

The AI did not stop here. I immediately received warning another AI assault was imminent, and requested all reserve forces be moved to the front lines where they could do the most good. I took my fleet to cover the remnants of the Eastern defenses, in hope that my fleet could match what the AI had available to throw in our direction.

Repeatedly, wave after wave, kept coming towards us. Our economy was already strained attempting to rebuild a fortress that took several years to painstakingly construct initially. We were running low on supplies, and the AI showed no sign of letting up. Black widows, armored golems, and the devastating artillery golems repeatedly slammed into my Fleet, diminishing it at an alarming rate. Another wave of ships approached, with a firepower calculation of over 5000. I order a final retreat - We have but one stronghold still intact.. Our Homeworld.

This is not a decision taken lightly. With our fleet decimated, we had but a single hope. Our armies clearly stood no chance against the AI's superior resources.. No, we must hold out until our Spire friends can reestablish a link through their fancy Receiver thing.

The fleets pull back, and our fancy bell, still resonating everything in the system, became out last bastion of hope against this unparalleled aggression. I knew not when it would start working.. And neither did my scientists. They insisted that we will all know the moment it is operational.. But not a moment sooner.

Well, with all of the hopes of Humanity, and Spirekind in our galaxy resting on them, I return my focus to the siege. The AI had not yet completely broken through to the Homeworld, giving us at least a little time, which which to prepare. The two cities, previously symbols of great strength and fortitude, now lay in shambles, their population hiding in the hidden city center, fearing for their lives. My Fortresses, what once stood as the greatest testament to Mankind's construction, no longer had any resemblance to the power they once represented. The entire galaxy was falling apart...

AI ships have entered the homeworld for the first time in over a decade. We have hostile ships marauding about in what used to be entirely safe and protected zones, where the average man once flew the trade routes. The Spire had better know what they are doing here.. If not, I had prepared a special present for anyone who survived the encounter - A mark two nuclear warhead, designed as a failsafe in the event of catastrophic failure. I knew it was a petty move, and ultimately inconsequential, but it made me smile on the inside, knowing that no matter what happens here, I will still get the last word.

For months, AI ships pound at the doors to the castle, many ships enter and are destroyed.. And more come, replacing as fast as they are destroyed. My Battleship's main gun has scored at least thousand kills,, if not twice that or more, in just the last month alone. Yet they still come, pounding at my door, taunting me, ridiculing me. Both him and I know that my walls cannot stand forever, that some day I need to have an answer. I am just not sure I did..

 Sometime in the late months of the 14th year, all had seemed lost. My fleet was a shadow of its former self, barely the Dreadnaught and a few cruisers still in service, the rest having fell out of repair. The resources we had simply were not enough to keep things gong. I was at my end, with but a single goal in mind - The end. I had reached my limits, and was planning on doing something about it.

I pull together what I can of my fleet. I invite the AI in. I make my final stand. My fleet prepares for ramming speed, and I arm the failsafe. The charge is sounded.

I turn my back to the viewport. I take the few steps to my chair. The switch is in my hand.. Its not something I want to have to do, but it is my only choice. I take my seat, and close my eyes in preparation for the end.

And then everything goes quiet. The bell.. It stopped tolling. I open my eyes.. To see nothing but white out of the viewport. Could this be? The end? I wouldve thought it slightly less colorful.. and not on my bridge. I hadnt even pressed the button yet..

My science officer was the first to catch on; "oh my god.. Its the Spire!" Could this be? Had they finally answered our summons? I order my ship away, to get a better view. What I saw was the most magnificent sight a man could see. This ship was definitely of Spire origin, the white material and formations were very distinct. I watched as its main beam cut down three armored golems in a single shot.. Then another, do the same.

This was indeed the Spire Fleet we have been waiting for! My men look towards me, for which I grant a nod. They burst out in happiness, quite uncharacteristic of a crew of 15 years of service. I had but one other thing to do - Something I had been planning over 16 years ago, before all of this started.. I retired to my quarters, sat at my terminal, and wrote my letter of resignation to Fleet Command.

Ideas? Suggestions? Concerns? Bugs to be squashed? Report them on the Mantis Bugtracker!

Author of the Dyson Project and the Spire Gambit

Offline Wanderer

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Re: The Gambit
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2012, 05:07:09 AM »
Well written. I like it.  Also very tired, will be more effluvient tomorrow.
... and then we'll have cake.

Offline Faulty Logic

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Re: The Gambit
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2012, 10:33:49 AM »
Very enjoyable read.
If warheads can't solve it, use more warheads.

Offline Lancefighter

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Re: The Gambit
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2012, 09:02:29 PM »
Thanks guys :)

What were people's opinions on the pacing and such? I really felt like I probably shouldve spent more time on the individual details, the play by play like I did with the Dyson Project, but for some reason last night they didn't seem that important. I tried to provide a firstperson view on a decidedly not firstperson event, and overall I am just not sure if it turned out as well as I imagined it would

I have like huge reservations about this one - I spent far too long writing it last night instead of sleeping, so itprobably didn't get the proofreading ti deserved. Also, I kinda felt like I didn't really get up and personal with the details quite as much as I did my first one, which disappointed me. Overall, I actually feel like this one is nowhere near the level of writing I couldve gave it, but its kinda late to tear it all down now >_>
Ideas? Suggestions? Concerns? Bugs to be squashed? Report them on the Mantis Bugtracker!

Author of the Dyson Project and the Spire Gambit

Offline relmz32

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Re: The Gambit
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2012, 09:57:16 PM »
I really like it so far, I'm treating it like a couple pretty short stories, and it reads well.
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