[0 BBT] Tunnel of Contest: The Tide of Dusk

OOC Warning & Notes

This thread consists of war stories from the Stoino-Venterran War and describes graphic instances which may not be suitable for all readers. If you’re squeamish about the depiction of heavy wounds, this thread may not be for you.
Additionally, this thread continues the final arcs of this previous thread.

14:18 shiptime, 18/02/1620 PD
Admiral’s Command Room, HMS Dahu
Vaud’s orbit, Elysium Sector

 High Admiral Mireille Le Sueur’s face looked pale as she watched the reports from the medbay. Now her red cheeks lacked any sort of colour as if her soul had left her. No one had forced her to look open up the reports, let alone watch the severe wounds or documented corpses. Though something in her had driven her to do so. A sort of debt she felt was owed as she thought that being a naval officer shouldn’t be an excuse to be isolated from the horrors of war that historically took place in ground combat. The Velutarian War, the First Mardakii Crusade, the War at Home… She had seen the vids of the horrors, but this new war was so much more striking to any Stoinian. For they were now facing against their own Terran brethren. Or so it was thought. Mireille was high-ranking enough to know of the investigations that had lead Stoinian High Command to believe the Venterrans were genetically modified Terrans. However, that didn’t help the fact that new reports of Venterran ripping out the spines of Stoinian soldiers had been found again during the Battle of Vaud. In a last ditch effort, the stranded Venterran troops threw away their lives in a last charge as the Venterran naval forces were finally forced to leave the system after a week of tense fighting. The War was turning, but Mireille feared the frenzy of both Stoinians & Venterrans would now only increase.
 Suddenly a tune rang across the room. She dropped her datapad and looked at the call. It was Grand Admiral Winton! She straightened her uniform and took a proper military posture befit of her rank before answering the call.
 - “Grand Admiral Winton.” She replied sternly.
 - “High Admiral Le Sueur. I take it the Vaud System is back under the Crown’s full report?”
 - “Aye, Sir. The last remaining Venterrans groundside made a last attempt to earn glory. They ended rather shortly. As for the naval forces, they have been repelled in the last 13 hours.”
 - “Excellent. Casualties?” Winton asked caringly.
 - “Not enough halt our planned advances.” Mireille replied thinking Winton wanted to get to the point.
 - “How many?” He asked again, lowering his tone. Making it clear he wanted to know how many Stoinians had died.
 Mireille swallowed her regret before taking a few heartbeats to respond. “458.235 civilians, 163.342 groundside forces and 23.852 naval personnel including 32 ships.”
 - “Venterran zealotry?”
 - “Heads, skulls & spines, Sir.” She replied with a hint of desperation.
 - “Almighty…” Winton stopped for a second before continuing. “How has morale been with such reports?”
 - “If anything it only strengthened resolve. The troops are eager to give them payback.”
 - “I see… And you?”
 - “It won’t affect my command, Sir.”
 - “Wrong, it already has.”
 - “Sir?”
 - “You forgot to close your datapad, Mireille.”
 She glanced back at it and indeed the reports were still open.
 - “Sir, a small pass time during these times.”
 - “Mireille… This isn’t the first time I see an Officer with naval regret. I’ve seen it plenty of times in every war. You can’t control what happens down there nor should it affect you. Reading reports of horrors for fun won’t change anything.”
 - “I understand, but it seems unfair.”
 - “I know plenty of High Generals who would be scared to death serving on ships. Flying around in a box with walls only separating you from complete nothingness. If only the right rupture at the right time would come close near you, you’d be drawn into the eternal abyss.” Winton let the words sink in. “I’ve known for some time, Mireille. You needn’t concern yourself of actions outside your control. Nor should you compare yours with others. We’re all facing the same threat on different fronts. All are equal and all have their parts to fulfill.” Winton finished quoting a Stoinian saying from the founding of the Stoinian Kingdom.
 The reminder had helped Mireille realize the fault she was making. She couldn’t help but smile and colour returned back on her face as she faced Winton.
“Thank you, Roger.”
 - “You’re welcome. Just remember it for the coming two weeks. We’ll need you at your best if operation Lion’s Thunder is to succeed.”
 - “Aye, Sir. I’ll be there until the bitter end.”
 - "Excellent. Now I’m afraid I’ll have to cut our friendly talk short as Commander Recklez’s trap needs some final touched. Take care, High Admiral.
 - “You too, Grand Admiral. Godspeed.”
 The two Officers saluted each other one last time before Winton cut off the comms. Mireille took a deep breath again and closed the tab on her datapad. She then turned to her holographic table and began to run some more simulations for the coming offensive.


00:00 Ship time date unknown
Bridge, Himiko’s Revenge
Ignis Orbit

Fleet Commander Akira Kensei lay slumped in the captain’s chair tightly clutching a curved sword with his right hand. He had fought his way back to the bridge from his personal forge near the engines after a surprise assault led to the attempted boarding of his personal ship, the Himiko’s revenge. His breath ragged with exhaustion and his blade dripping with blood. Kensei looked down at the bloody sword and sighed. “Thank Ignis, her glass made fine blades” muttered Kensei as he recalled the events directly leading up to melee back to the bridge. The Terrans came in waves but he and his fleet beat them back, buying time for the troops to evacuate safely back to Cornucopia. As his fleet repelled the Stoinians, he began to spend more time in his personal forge crafting a sword of “glass”. He trusted his crew and SAI to do what was necessary, but Kensei failed to take into account growing fatigue of the men and women under his command. And so the more they won, so too did his complacency grow. Until the Terrans did the unthinkable, breaching his own ship in a boarding attempt of their own during the final hours of evacuation.

He had finished crafting the blade and was inspecting the blade and the sigil for vengeance when the alarm startled him. “A Boarding Party? Here, Impossible…” muttered Kensei as he cursed his own arrogance for becoming too complacent. He then respectfully sheathed the blade and opened a sword locker. Kensei then took his own sword and placed the other finished blade into the locker quietly saying, “You will not be tainted by Terran blood”. He closed the locker door and and walked out of the room unsheathing his own blade and barking commands. He made his return to the Bridge after cutting down all who stood in his way.

By the time Kensei returned to the Bridge, the Bridge crew did their best to salvage the situation directing ground forces to the breach to engage the enemy while they maneuvered the ship to counterattack the enemy. Their quick thinking and coordination with the other ships brought one last victory. Even now the bridge crew respectfully moved the bodies of the fallen to a single location for the others to recover and place in cold storage until they could be buried at space with full military honors after the battle. Kensei looked proud at his crew as grabbed a microphone and spoke, "To all surviving personnel of Himiko’s Revenge and the 501st Strikefleet, I want to thank you all for accomplishing the arduous task of evacuation 1.5 million Venterran ground troops and1 million auxiliary staff from the Ignis system. The Ignis Garrison owes you all a debt of gratitude and although some may seem ungrateful and grumble about being cheated of glory. Rest Assured you all did the right thing, and they will see glory at Cornucopia, but not here. Not in this grave… All of you will have a week of r&r when we return to Cornucopia to recover. Glory to the Federation… "

He then placed the mic down and looked down towards his bridge crew who looked up at him. They began to salute the Commander when their eyes widened with shock to see Kensei bow reverentially at them. “Sir?” one of them asked, “I owe you all an even greater debt of gratitude for allowing me to indulge in my personal project here in Ignis.” Said Kensei before continuing, "You may be aware that I believe Recklez chose dishonor when he expanded the scope of his vengeance to target non-combatants and irrelevant parties at Ignis. And that my excursion to Ignis served three objectives. 1. to evacuate all Venterran personnel from this grave yard. 2. To observe Ignis and determine whether my own conclusions on Recklez’s actions were within the scope of his right of vengeance and if they weren’t to forge the blades of the vengeance used for our rites. " “Sir, woul-” one of his bridge crew attempted to ask before another stopped him, “So you think the Terran Hakkinen deserves to partake in our right of vengeance” asked Himiko instead. “I do,” said the Commander nonchalantly, “He has fought tooth and nail for Cornucopia and even though he’s suffered major losses including the loss of his home, he still perseveres. A Venterran quality… And so if you disagree with me, report me to Federation intelligence. I owe you all the truth after sacrificing so much to evacuate troops willing to die to extinguish the Terrans.”

The bridge crew softly discussed their Commander’s words as he and Himiko watched in silence. Then one of them spoke, “Sir, we’ve been through a lot and we agree that Recklez acted beyond the scope of his duties. Under any other circumstances we would report you, but where would we go after that? Under Commander Yamraiha’s command? We’re all Venterrans who have been blacklisted by the rest of those Zealouts for having a different view of the way, and we wouldn’t want to burden Commander Yamraiha who has her own loyal crew. So sir, consider us on board with your schemes.” The men saluted once again and set about their business, leaving Kensei stunned. “Well?” asked his SAI. The Commander could only muster a smile and reply, “whenever you’re ready…”


Hell Divers Quarters
Date unknown
King’s Hand
Cornucopia Orbit

Captain Hasega stared blankly through the darkness at the metal ceiling. Boredom had set in on the battle starved Captain as he had been forced into a period of rest and recuperation by the Commander of the King’s Hand. No… This sense of boredom had set in long before his mandatory rest period on the battlefields of Reverie, Curator, Miracle, Nichi and Aegis. The Terrans, brave sinners that they were, had proven themselves to be a worthy adversary at times, but at other times too predictable. Unlike the enemy at Cornucopia who had distinguished themselves with feats worthy of songs these Terrans felt lacking, like everants trying to swarm a mighty Muraskodon (A giant mammoth species found in Venterran space). He had heard talks of a demon who surpassed the Helldivers when a defeated flotilla from Recklez’ fleet stumbled upon the Stoinian homeworld. His men eagerly chatting about how they wished they were on the Terran homeworld for a chance to fight such a warrior, but Hasega didn’t indulge in such thoughts as the chance of fighting a lone “hero” was slim to none in a wide galaxy. Instead he had hoped that there would be Terrans who would match their Corncucopian brothers whose desperation had lit a fire so great that he was humbled by their tenacity.

However, the other terrans he encountered never rose to the occasion and now here he lays waiting in his quarters as rest of the Appraisal fleet had been forced on the defensive enjoying their “Last Stand” and feasting in under the watchful gaze of Venterra.

Hasega longed to rid himself of this boredom and continued to think… ‘Should I transfer on one of the occupied worlds for a last stand rear guard assignment… No, the odds of facing the demon are slim to none so I would be wasting my time fighting grunts until one of them got lucky. Grunts…’ “THAT’S IT!” roared Hasega leaping from his bed startling the other helldivers. “Sir?” some of the Hell Divers asked looking at their captain with concern. Hasega looked at the Hell Divers and said, "At ease men, don’t worry I’ve not gone mad, I just need to talk with the Colonel Ular, about something. " before walking out of the quarters and towards Col. Wulf Ular temporary office.


A few Minutes later
King’s Hand

Colonel Wulf Ular was enjoying a quiet cup of coffee when he heard a knock on his temporary office door. “Permission to enter sir,” asked a voice outside. “Granted” replied the Colonel as he recognized the voice to be from Captain Hasega of the Helldivers.

The Door opened allowing the Captain to enter, “Captain Hasega to what do I owe the pleasure of this unscheduled visit?” asked the Col.

" Hello, Col. Ular, I’m here because I would like to formally ask for the release of Prisoner 6273 on the world of Cornucopia so that I may engage him in honorable combat as a military officer." said the Captain calmly.

“You want me to do WHAT?!?” asked Col. Wulf Ular incredulously at the Hell Diver Captain who had entered his office.

“I would like your authorization to release the Terran Prisoner, Major Paul Harrison, so that I may fight him in honorable combat on the battle field, one field officer to another, sir.” replied the Captain bluntly.

“You know I can’t let you do that” replied Col. Ular

“I know that Federation military protocol prohibits the release of Prisoners outside of exchanges and certain factors, and that’s why I’m here in person to argue my case for the Terrans release into Cornucopia.” said Hasega.

“No, you don’t understand, I don’t have the authority to release Terrans” responded the Colonel, “Even if I wanted to help you, I’m unable to do so because the authorization for Terran releases are much more stringent due to the influence of the Zealots. Federation Intelligence barely managed to get them to shut up and stay out of our affairs by compromising on their release conditions. Even if I wanted to help you, and I do, we don’t even know if the Prisoner you seek is alive at this point”

“I see…” muttered the Captain, “Then who can help me sir?”

“Well… if you can convince a fleet commander to do so then its possible, but Fleet Commander Mayfeld shot down my own proposal to release small groups of terrans to find their resistance bases on occupied worlds when I presented my recent reports to him.” said the Colonel.

“Can a captain even meet a fleet commander for business sir?” asked Hasega
“Not normally no, but…” Col. Ular’s voice trailed off as he went deep into thought,
“Colonel?” asked Hasega as he looked mildly concerned at the sudden silence.

‘We have five fleet commanders in charge of the appraisal of these terrans. I can exclude FC Recklez since he’d just order the terran’s execution and deny Hasega’s request for a hunt… FC Mayfeld refused my request on the grounds that it would not change the status quo on the ground, so he would refuse the request and claim that the federation couldn’t waste their time looking for a single terran… FC Pryde may be sympathetic but he may be honorbound not to release the Terrans if asked by one of the Fleet Commanders… FC Yamraiha? She just subordinated herself to FC Kensei, so she wouldn’t share Mayfeld or Recklez’s sentiments, but would she allow a lowly Captain and Colonel have an audience with her? What about-’ A shrill beeping interrupted the Colonel’s thoughts as he snapped back to reality and saw an incoming transmission and the Captain standing at attention “Oh Captain, you’re still here…”

“Haven’t been dismissed yet sir, and I haven’t gotten the answer I’d like sir,” Hasega replied as the beeping continued, “I’ll get back to you once I handle this transmission.” said the Colonel as he pressed a button on his desk, “Colonel Wulf Ular reporting go ahead,” “Colonel, this is Fleet Commander Kensei, (the Colonel swiftly rose to salute the FC), At ease colonel, I saw an interesting proposal that was dismissed offhand by Mayfeld” “The Infiltrator initiative sir? I thought FC Mayfeld rejected my proposal on the grounds that this would not alter the situation on the ground.” responded the Colonel.

“Indeed, Mayfeld is correct to an extent but he is choosing politics over intelligence in this situation. As you are aware the Zealots would like nothing more than for the Federation to send the Terrans back to the void and see our Prisoner of war camps as a waste of Federation resources. Mayfeld, being the resourceful commander he is, must balance the politics of the homefront and the rivalry between Fleet Commanders with the reality of the battlefield, a thorny position that I don’t envy him of conducting. Fortunately I don’t have to worry about the political arena and think your idea may have merit with some alterations. For one these prisoners can be used for intelligence gathering using our advanced medical technology to make them human cameras transmitting enemy information back to us in real time.” said Kensei

“I can see the merits of altering the plan sir, but with these Stoinians the possibility of failure seems rather high given the Stoinian penchant for attempting to end their own lives after finding out they were implanted with chips meant to monitor their life signs and locations. A prosthetic eye or any modification could result in an increase of suicidal behavior. Something that would be detrimental to the overall intelligence gathering effort.” said the Colonel. The Fleet Commander sighed audibly, “Right, something about the lingering trauma from this so called Velutarian species turning them into mindless drones. I had forgotten their aversion to cybernetic prosthetics and implants stemmed from a previous conflict of theirs… Hm… (the Fleet commander notices Captain Hasega standing at attention silently) By the way Colonel, who is that standing by the door?”

“My apologies sir, this is Captain Hasega of the King’s Hand Hell Diver contingent, he had… an unusual request.” said the Colonel. “What sort of request?” asked Kensei, “Um…well… that is…” started the Colonel, "Sir, I would like to petition the release of a Terran Prisoner, Prisoner 6273, so that I may fight him in honorable combat, one field officer to another, Sir!” interrupted the Captain.

The Colonel looked at Captain Hasega with horror as the Fleet Commander’s brow furrowed. “Explain.” the Fleet Commander said tersely. “Sir, the Hell Diver Corp is abuzz with talks of being able to fight the Terran Demon, but I have no intention of pining over a foe for whom I may never have the opportunity to face given the vastness of the battlefield sir.” said the Captain, “And what does the Demon have to do with… prisoner 6273, was it?” asked the Fleet Commander, “Sir, Prisoner 6273 is a worthy adversary who should not rot in a prison cell for the rest of the war. He fought admirably against my Hell Divers during the battle above Cornucopia and bested two of my men in hand to hand combat, and I wish to battle him once more on the battlesfield.” “Then why not simply duel him in the prison camps during your R&R Captain?” asked the Fleet Commander who looked puzzled at the Captain.

“Sir, the Prisoner is a formidable foe in hand to hand combat, but it is not enough to crush him in single combat, no sir, I wish to fight him on the field of battle, I want him to lead his people to their certain doom and when he is once again the last survivor of his unit and motivated to go beyond his terran limits that is when I wish to strike him down.”

The Fleet Commander chuckled catching the Colonel off guard, “You must have a few screws loose Captain, but I like your spirit. Colonel.” “Yes Fleet Commander,” replied the Colonel snapping back to attention, “I will use Prisoner 6273 as part of a pilot program for the ‘infiltrator initiative’, you have my authorization to go to retrieve Prisoner 6273 if they are alive and bring them to my ship, Captain you are also welcome to follow the Colonel to ensure that Prisoner 6273 is indeed the Terran you are looking for. Kensei out.”

The feed closes leaving the Colonel dumbfounded as new orders were transmitted to his desk authorizing the retrieval of the Terran prisoner. The Colonel, slumped back into his seat as he looked at the Captain and said, “By Venterra you must be the luckiest Venterran in the fleet, Captain.” The Colonel then composes himself and continues, “Captain Hasega, return to your quarters and retrieve your gear we leave in an hour.” The Captain salutes and exits the room leaving the Colonel to ponder on what just happened.


16/04/1621 PD

 Major Paul Harrison had been blindfolded and released back to the surface of Cornucopia. In the shuttle he received some instructions from Captain Hasega himself. The Venterran had grown a personal vendetta against him. His instructions were clear however.
 - “Face me on the eve of battle, but bring this box to your Commander Häkkinen first. When fate lets us face one last time, you will receive back the syringe that liberates you from the microchip in your head. Whether you live afterwards is up to the fate. I expect you to prove yourselves a worthy adversary leading your men.”
 Those were the conditions issued to him for his release from the POW camp. He had no intention to rot and the conditions were adjusted to Stoinian levels of acceptance. Even so he was eager to fight the Venterrans again. The whole 763rd Battalion deserved it. The Venterrans administered a microchip while Captain Hasega continued to explain his reasoning. The procedure wasn’t smooth and Harrison’s pain overwhelmed him, negating some of the parts Captain Hasega was saying as his brain became fuzzy.
 Finally his blindfold was torn off by a split-jaw. Its ugly face seemed abhorrent to Harrison and in a display of defiance, he spit directly in its mouth as it roared at him. It kicked him again between the ribs before other Venterran troops intervened and released his hands as well.
 He saw Cornucopia again. The beacon of commerce of the Star Kingdom was torn to rubble. A mighty suburban area had been laid to waste. It only sparked the fury in Harrison.

 The Venterrans pointed towards the dense towers. They wanted him to go there. It could be a trap, but he had the guarantee that Captain Hasega would come after him. It would have been unproductive for the Venterrans to sabotage each other. Likely Venterran forces had been notified to leave him alone. He nodded at the Venterrans.
 A few heartbeats later, they gave him a black box. It was the box he was instructed to deliver to Field Marshal Häkkinen. Its contents still eluded Harrison, but he needed to get to safety immediately.
 He grabbed the box and started walking towards the direction. For hours he walked with the box across his shoulder. Grief and fury filled him as he saw the remains of houses and corpses. Until finally, he heard the rotators of a gunship.
 It came nearer and nearer. He stood up straight in the middle of an open area and began to frantically shout. Within a minute he came in the sight of the Falcon-class gunship. As he embarked on the gunship, a field nurse attended to him. However, he needed to explain his precarious situation.
 - “I need to see Field Marshal Häkkinen personally. I’ve been asked to deliver the box to him.” he exclaimed.
 - “Right, right. First we need you back at base.” the nurse insisted.
 - “No, they put a chip in me to follow me. Don’t bring me to him directly. They pu-”
 Harrison wasn’t allowed to finish. As soon as the nurse put the mask on him, he blacked out.

17/04/1621 PD
Jumbo Base, 30 km east of Ascension Spire

 Harrison awoke on a bed. The sensors glued to him made him uncomfortable and could feel them wrinkle as he pulled himself up. Then out of the blue, there stood Field Marshal Häkkinen. The Wall had come to him.
 - “Good day, Major.” Häkkinen greeted him solemnly.
 - “Sir.” Harrison saluted him.
 - “I hear you have something for me, but first tell me why you were freed.” Häkkinen asked.
 - “Sir, before I answer, are we in a safe location? I cannot be in your main base.”
 - “Rest assured you aren’t. I’ve been briefed about the chip. The doctors told me they don’t dare to remove it. It apparently has the chance to explode. Truly a distasteful practice from these Venterrans. You’re in Jumbo Base, far enough to not compromise our strategic location.” Häkkinen assured him.
 Harrison let out a sigh of relief. He was safe for now.
 - “Well, Sir. It appears a Venterran Captain named Hasega has a personal vendetta against me.”
 - “They do tend to have that. How come?” Häkkinen smiled.
 Harrison was caught off-guard. The Field Marshal had just joked about the glassing of his homeworld. Stoinians were taught the teachings of the Codex Stoinius codified by the Philosopher-King. ‘Death stares at us all and all we can do is laugh back at it’. He was in awe of the Field Marshal who truly adhered to those words. Rarely did Stoinians meet men of such great character and it was no wonder why Häkkinen had held off the Venterran assault.
 - “Yes, Sir. I lead the 763rd in the initial defence, Sir. The Captain must have taken me for a worthy adversary for slaying his men, including a Mardakii.”
 - “Your ancestors are smiling upon you, Major.” Häkkinen complimented his achievements before continuing. “Though I take it this Captain Hasega wishes to fight you on the field of battle?”
 - “Yes, Sir.”
 - “On that front the Venterrans have become predictable. Or at least their zealots. Something to exploit. I also take it I won’t be able to convince you to rest here to recuperate?”
 - “No, Sir.”
 Häkkinen smiled at him with a proud twinkle in his eye.
 - “Good… Truth be told, I could use about every soldier now. The enemy is pressing assaults on various chokepoints. We’re holding up, but I think they’re amassing for a targeted offensive inside Ascension Spire. Ascension Plaza has been a stalemate for months, but they’re growing bolder. Either they’re winning or losing out there. I reckon it’s the latter.”
 Häkkinen walked around Harrison’s bed one last time.
 - “I have several positions for you, but given how a Venterran Captain has a personal vendetta against you… I’d like for you to exploit it. I want you in charge of a Commando unit and hunt these Venterrans from behind enemy lines. He’ll be expecting you to lead a Battalion, let’s surprise him with specially trained troopers.”
 Harrison was perplexed. The Field Marshal’s strategy was sound. It would indeed throw off the Venterran’s expectations, but he would be outnumbered. Though the Commandos were better armed than standard soldiers. He was also unaccustomed with their warfare tactics as he was a trained EVA trooper. Doubt clouded his mind. Then the image of his men being stricken down by the Venterran Hell Divers. Within a heartbeat he had made up his mind.
 - “Just give me the orders, Sir.” Harrison said as resolute as a rock.
 - “Good…” Häkkinen handed over a datapad. “You’ll find your new unit tomorrow. Your mission is on the datapad as well as a secure comm link directly to me. I’ll be looking forward to see you purge that Venterran.”
 - “Or the Void takes me first.” Harrison joked.
 The two Stoinians gave each other one last smile before Häkkinen turned around as if to depart. Suddenly Harrison remembered.
 - “Sir, before you leave. I was instructed to hand you over that box.” Harrison explained.
 - “Any idea what it might be?” Häkkinen asked curiously.
 - “No, Sir. No clue.”
 After securing the package and bomb squads confirmed no ordnance, Häkkinen slowly opened the box. Everyone in the room looked at him as his face grew pale from the confusion. He read the accompanying letter and his eyes watered. Yet not a single tear dropped. He wouldn’t allow his men to see him like this, though everyone would have excused him. It was a message from Fleet Commander Akira Kensei.
 Slowly he lifted up the curved turquoise blade. As he unsheathed the sword from its scabbard, it nearly shone with a grimacing fire like a crescent as Häkkinen drew it above his head. The room fell in awe for the craftsmanship. Out from the Void had arisen Ignis Iram. The blade forged from the ‘glass’ of Ignis following Recklez’s destruction of Häkkinen’s homeworld. The gift had shattered any perception Häkkinen had about the Venterrans. Perceptions which held him sane through his time of grief. He inspected the blades qualities, from hilt to edge, with calculated care. The room began to fill with rumours. Häkkinen had no time for his troops to speculate.
 - “A blade from the Venterran Fleet Commander Akira Kensei. Made out of Ignis’ glass. Let it be known that I will avenge my world with this very blade against the madman who destroyed it. Recklez has invoked a blood revenge… I shall bring it to him. Once and for all.” Häkkinen proclaimed.
 The crowd fell silent and as swiftly as he had sheathed his blade, Häkkinen set out to return. The adrenaline had weared down and Harrison too fell back asleep after a short while.

Ignis Iram, the blade made out of Ignis’ ‘glass’.

 The news of the Field Marshal’s gift & vow spread like wildfire. Eventually even publicly broadcasted towards the Venterrans. Its purpose two-fold. To boost morale for the incoming assault and to bring havoc to Venterran leadership and drive the growing ideological split between their command and possibly even troops. Cornucopia’s flame reignited and the dusk of war was coming.

 The next morning Major Harrison arrived at the coordinates. There he met Phoenix Company. A unit of Commandos composed of 6 Squads, each with 6-12 men in them whose squads had perished. These were Stoinian armed to the teeth and specialised in urban warfare. All members had killed at least twelve Venterrans in hand to hand combat. Half of them had even personally slain a Mardakii whose claws their wore around their neck. Harrison was put in charge of men who survived the same perils of war as he had. Now it was time to wreak havoc to the bastards who forged their fury…

A Stoinian Commando in full armament.


Fleet of Merciful Intent, Geelong system

Alarms blared across the Hand of Mercy as Fleet Commander Mayfeld looked upon the debris field in front of his viewscreen. The FC sighed softly as he acknowledged that the Terrans had proven remarkably capable in their resistance against the Appraisal Fleet. The Fleet of Merciful Intent had encircled and destroyed the most recent enemy wave, but the enemy continued their valiant resistance launching new offensives with little time for the Fleet to rest and resupply. The ship’s SAI, Jun, appeared on screen with a look of concern. “Fleet Commander…” The SAI began, “We have successfully encircled and annihilated the most recent enemy assault on the Geelong system, but…” “But we are approaching the critical point to either make an orderly withdrawal back to the Cornucopia system or risk resupplying here and have what happened to Recklez happen to us, right?” asked Mayfeld. “Yes Sir, our fleet’s supplies are dwindling and it is only a matter of time for the enemy to overwhelm us” replied the SAI

Mayfeld grimaced as he listened, “Very well, prepare the fleet to retreat back to the Cornucopia system, inform the planetary occupation force to prepare for a general withdrawal from the Geelong system and to leave behind a rearguard to keep the enemy preoccupied. Those who do not wish to withdraw will be allowed to join the rearguard.” The SAI saluted and said, “Understood, I will relay your orders”

“Oh and Jun, how many waves can we last before we are forced to fall back?” asked Mayfeld, “We can last 4 waves at most sir, but it will stretch our capabilities to their limits.” responded Jun, “I see… then we will need to finish our withdrawal within 4 waves. It is a shame that the resource extraction projects failed to sufficiently provide for us.” said Mayfeld with a sigh. “Now that I understand how tenacious and creative these Terrans can be, perhaps I shouldn’t have greenlit Recklez’ plan to occupy resource rich worlds to supply the Appraisal fleets.” The SAI shook its digital head from side to side, “The plan was sound sir, but the enemy proved more creative than expected with small resistance groups sabotaging key facilities and ensuring the addition of more ground forces to pacify the Terran worlds. Nonetheless the enemy provided valuable information that made it worth the drain on troops as we have a sufficient sample size to see that their creativity in the face of adversity is a species wide trait. Something we may not have known had we limited ourselves to just Cornucopia.”

The FC nodded, “Perhaps… in any case we have much to do before we can leave the system and link up with Pryde’s forces in the Lucent system and fall back to Cornucopia. Let us hope Kensei prepared well for the coming storm…”


Unknown location, Cornucopia

Captain Hasega was grinning from ear to ear as he sat down on a half destroyed bench and looked down at his right gauntlet. The gauntlet itself was standard issue, but it showed the life signs of Major Harrison. When Hasega first received the gauntlet he also had access to everything Harrison could hear thanks to the vibrations in the air or see his location as it was a similar copy to the one FC Kensei wore to house his SAI. However, unlike FC Kensei, Hasega disabled both features on his side as he didn’t want to ‘un fairly’ hunt him down before Harrison was ready. Hasega was excited as he rounded up his Helldivers to lead the charge against Ascension plaza on behalf of Colonel Alarai Veruk who requested the Helldiver’s aid to seize the plaza.

He and his men were just about to continue their push when he heard Field Marshal Hakkinen’s vow play on a hastily contructed radio tower. “So that’s what the Fleet Commander had Harrison do. How Int-” “The Fleet Commander Betrayed US!” roared a zealous trooper, interrupting Hasega, “We must arrest the Fleet commander for high treason for siding with the Terran sinners!” roared another. Meanwhile his helldivers looked back at Hasega as if to ask, should they react, and Hasega shook his head and roared, “SILENCE YOU, DISHONORABLE CURS!” shutting up the zealots briefly, as they turned their gaze upon the bloody Helldiver, “I was with Fleet Commander Kensei’s special taskforce to withdraw the Ignis garrison, and what I saw wasn’t the preemptive showing of the Great Purge, NO! What I saw on that glassy planet was shame, and DISHONOR! There was no glory to be had, on that barren world, No… There were no warriors, no soldiers, and most certainly no one there who fit the declaration of the rites of Vengeance. No, brothers and sister, I saw a tomb of shame, and I too agree with the Fleet Commander’s assessment. Honor demands that much! So if you Zealous curs wish to arrest me as well, then do it! I would rather die an honorable Venterran on the battlefield than dishonor myself by associating with such treachery!” Hasega’s men cheered the Captain on as the Zealots looked visibily angry, but also fearful as they knew better than to pick a fight with a Helldiver.

“I too agree with the Fleet Commander’s decision,” said a voice from behind startling the Zealots who turned to see their commanding officer, “SIR?!” they shouted incredulously. "Well as you can see the enemy has fought us to a standstill here in Ascension Plaza and that is an admirable trait, they got lucky with Major General Recklez, but Fleet Commander Recklez was out of line when he glassed Ignis in direct violation of our general orders, to Appraise not glass, " said Colonel Veruk

“But Sir, these Terrans are sinners unworthy of any praise, and” said a Zealot “Then perhaps you’d like to be rotated to the monastery then if you can’t see the Terrans perform admirably in the face of adversity. Venterran honor demands that blood be shed for the misuse of our customs. If FC Recklez persists in his warped devotion to the way then it is only natural for Kensei to wipe away the stain of dishonor brought upon by Recklez to the rest of the Appraisal fleet.” replied Col. Veruk Coldly. “Now, you can all stand around here, or continue your preparations for the next assault. Oh and Captain, I hope you can breakthrough the wall when this spear hasn’t made a dent yet.”

The Captain and the rest of the Helldivers salute as Hasega replies, "You can count on me sir, We’ll push further than before and take the Spire before the enemy arrives. "


17/04/1621 PD,
Outskirts of Ascension Spire,

 - "This is Phoenix one-one. All hands prepare for assault in… " Major Harrison ordered before switching to a hand signal countdown.
 Like a bolt of thunder Phoenix Company jumped down unto a Venterran supply convoy. Reigning hellfire from above as they glided on the ziplines, the Venterrans were taken by complete surprise. The commandos made swift work of the convoy with their anti-vehicle armaments as they attacked from their rear flank. The plasma fires bursted open the gates of hell to the unprepared Venterrans.
 Once a dozen meters above the ground, Major Harrison dropped himself. Perfectly calculating, he landed on top of a Mardakii officer. The special armour had absorbed some of his inertia and made for a softer landing. With surgical precision, he drew his knife across its throat as it tried to garble orders to its troops. As the corpse fell to cover the road with dark red blood, Major Harrison rolled over. He sprayed three burst plasma infused rounds with his MX-17 blaster. The unique weapon was unlike the mainstream weapons of the Stoinian Army. It was designed firstmost as an interchangeable weapons system which the mission of Stoinian Commandos put to great use.
 The adrenaline rushed through his blood as the enemies fell to the ground. He headed towards multiple hostiles. Their fire was absorbed by his shields. A feature he had become fond of as he now was able to approach his enemies to engage in melee combat. Something most of his commandos engaged in when facing Mardakii troops. As he punched a Venterran and put his knife through another’s throat, the blood spat on his visor. Yet he saw how his troops engage the Mardakii soldiers first, a pattern he started to notice now. It made them predictable. Something which they couldn’t afford.
 A few minutes later, the convoy had been destroyed. Silence again roamed the streets inside Ascension Spire as some of the commandos began to claim the trophies off Mardakii bodies. Teeth, claws and pieces of fur were attached taken and attached to their armour. In that aftermath of the battle, Phoenix Company chattered on their encrypted channels.
 - “Phoenix Company, listen up.” Major Harrison ordered through the coms. “I know this war is a personal crusade for us, but we cannot let our vengeance get into the way. From now on I don’t want us to engage the Mardakii soldiers first. It makes us predictable and we cannot afford it.”
 - “Copy, Phoenix leader.” replied a squad leader.
 - “Affirm, Sir.” said another.
 - "Now… " Major Harrison said as he continued to order his men to move down to level three. He mostly used hand gesture now
 After marking an ‘H’ on a Mardakii’s armour with a plasma torch, he tapped upon the shoulder of multiple commandos in the middle of scalping Mardakii. They obeyed immediately and ran towards their new objective under the cover of hallways.
 Major Harrison knew his location was transmitted to Captain Hasega. It was one of the few things he remembered vividly. Because of this he limited most of his communication to hand signals. He wouldn’t take the risk if the chip also transmitted his vocal commands. The past eight convoy raids were executed perfectly nonetheless. A testament to Phoenix Company’s veterans.
 He chose a sporadic pattern in conjunction with other Commando Squads who scouted the increased traffic towards Ascension Plaza as it was clear the Venterran offensive was reaching a new height. There was no logical pattern to his company’s attacks, a decision he chose to bog down Captain Hasega in attrition while still doing damage. Yet the hidden routes within Ascension Spire’s northern outskirts were running out. Sooner or later he would have to face the vengeful Captain. When Captain Hasega would see him again, he would see the dozen Mardakii claws around Major Harrison’s neck as a sign that he was ready for the final confrontation…


Ascension Plaza
One hour before the Present

“Captain, are you sure we shouldn’t be hunting your mark?” asked Lt. Halsey as the rest of the Helldivers prepared for their assault on the Plaza. “No,” the Captain replied, reloading his carbine. “But Why sir? I thought you were interested in this Major?” asked the lieutenant. Hasega closed his eyes and sighed, "I am, Halsey, but first the Major must be acclimated to his new command. " Halsey looked at the Captain confused, but the captain ignored his look and continued, “The Major has been out of the loop for quite sometime, he lacks information, and his new team if they do allow the Major a command will need to time to acclimate to his leadership style. We are HellDivers not simply zealots who will strike an enemy when they are down. No I want him at his peak, and besides There many places to hide in Ascension Spire and he will more than likely try to lure me on a futile hunt to buy as much time as possible. No He will come to me when he is ready and I will fight on my terms not his.”

The Lieutenant’s confusion deepened as he asked, “If the Major looks for you, then wouldn’t the battle be on his terms?” The Captain burst into laughter, “Come now Lieutenant, have you forgotten that we Helldivers are vanguards designed to destroy the enemy defenses head on? This is an honorable duel not some game of cat and mouse, if the Major believes he is ready then he and his new command are ripe for the picking.” Halsey began to smile as he began to understand the implication of the Captains words, “indeed then I hope these Terrans the Major leads will give us a challenge.”


Ascension plaza had fallen to the unrelenting drive of the Helldivers.
The Terrans valiantly held the line pouring an endless stream of lead and plasma upon the attackers. However, the endless stream proved futile as the Hell Divers continued to charge forward no matter the cost, over the fallen, ignoring the screams of their injured brethren, they charged. Their bloodlust consuming all of their reasoning from them as they cleaved a bloody path through the enemy defenses until the Venterran Federation flag flew over the Plaza.

The Captain chuckled to himself as he relished in the victory of his Hell divers and turned towards the fallen to salute. His men had already begun contacting Col. Veruk to inform them of the fall of the Plaza and for the regulars to reinforce their hold on the Plaza. However, just as the first wave of regulars had arrived on scene, a lone Terran rushed Captain Hasega. The lone Captain looked pleased as he drew a combat knife and roared, “Let’s dance!” However, to the Captain’s surprise, he noticed too late that the lone Terran pulled the trigger on a satchel charge, and cried out, “SUICIDE BOMBER!” and charged forward to lessen the blast. A flash of light and heat engulfed the Captain and Bomber as the troopers looked dumbfounded,

Captain Hasega couldn’t make out the final words of the Terran Suicide bomber to his dismay and felt his body lurch backwards with the force of the explosion, hurtling several meters away from the blast zone as the shield desperately tried to deflect the shrapnel and bone. Lt. Halsey watched in horror as the Captain crumpled on the ground nearby.

“CAPTAIN!” the Helldivers cried out as they rushed to his position. The Captain looked up at his concerned men and smiled through the helmet and coughed the words, “I’m alright lads,” to the relief of his men.

The Captain grinned as he coughed softly, shaking the debris off of him muttering, “Well played Terran… Well Played…” He looked up to where he previously stood and grimaced as he witnessed the Zealots who had begun to reinforce his position proceed to dishonor his foe. Their hideous laughter cutting through the chaos of the Plaza as the Zealots mocked the Terran Bomber, kicking the dismembered head of the poor lad in full view of the few surviving cameras of Ascension Plaza.

"Those bastards.” he began to say as he forced himself to rise, only to be stopped by the hands of his men. “Sir, you need medical attention,” said Halsey, but the stubborn captain shook off the hands of his concerned troops, “Not, yet.” he growled grabbing a shoulder to lift himself up to his feet and limped towards the still laughing Zealots. Hasega felt an icy cold stab of pain wrack his body with each step he took toward the zealots but ignored the sensation. He focused on a growing sense of rage not felt since… time immemorial. His body cried out once more for him to stop and lie down, but Hasega refused, his eyes mad with fury and anger at the dishonor shown before one he considered an worthy foe

When Hasega finally reached one of the Zealots, he grabbed their shoulder and ignited his blade piercing the Zealot from the rear shocking the others who stopped kicking the head and looked at the Captain as though he had gone insane.

“Are you mad Hell Diver?!” one of the Zealots asked, “Aye!” he replied as he tossed the lifeless body to the side and threw his blade at another shocked Zealot before they could react, piercing their heart. The Helldiver captain looked at the remaining Zealot, his piercing gaze brimming with malice and brimstone. The Zealot shuddered as they fought the fear and panic rising exponentially within and raised his rifle at the Captain. The Zealot turned to the other Venterrans in the hopes they would help against this mad man, but his hopes soon fell to despair when he realized the other Helldivers had already raised their weapons against him. The Zealot mustered up his remaining courage and asked “What does it matter what we do these Sinners? They are all ordained to die by the will of Venterra.”

The Captain wheezed as he cackled, “Truth be told it doesn’t matter in the slightest, but this one… The one you disrespect with your dirty feet, did the unthinkable, sacrificing themselves to injure me. A Hell Diver Captain, a feat worthy of song no?” The Zealot paled as he realized the depths of his transgressions. “Now hold on a minute, I did-” The Zealots words trailed off as a loud bang silenced the trooper.
Lt. Halsey lowered his smoking carbine and said, “Well sir… I didn’t think we’d be killing our own” “Our own? Nay these fools got what they deserve for interfering with my hunt. I hope Colonel Veruk would be understanding…” The captain replied as he slowly sank back down to the ground. His legs finally giving in to the exhaustion. “Sir?!” The lieutenant shouted in surprise, The captain simply waved and jokingly said, “I’ll take that medical assistance now.”