[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 from the previous thread on the old forums.

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.”
“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 want to 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 so 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 even 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 group terrans to find their resistance bases on occupied worlds when I presented my recent reports to him.” said the Col.

“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 appraisal of these terrans. I can exclude FC Recklez since he’d just order the terran’s execution and denying 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, 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 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.