A Kidnapping In Space - The Hieropomp Incident [7 BBT]

7 BBT

Galactyan Empire, Nerovingian Star Cluster

Deep Interstellar Space





The Hieropomp was quite a small ship by Galactyan standards. Of course, Galactyan standards should never be taken into consideration when assessing the size of a ship and, of course, despite being considered small the Hieropomp was still 100 meters in size.

Small passenger ships, more commonly known as Cruises - originally the term used was Cruisers, but when this started to create confusion with a particular military ship classification used by foreign nations, it was gradually pushed out of official and common use - were the most common type of ship in the Galactyan Empire, easily numbering in the millions, together with cargo ships: Galactyan society was fast paced and people often moved around from system to system, sometimes moving hundreds of lightyears in mere hours thanks to the Hyperlane Net. In addition to that, the universality of Galactyan Institutions and methods of distribution made it so that a comfortable lifestyle could still be achieved without owning a house, leading to many individuals only settling for brief periods of time, like a decade or two, before getting back on the move for much more.

The Hieropomp in particular was a short-range interstellar ship that exclusively worked within the Nerovingian Star Cluster: an open cluster of varied stars, 12 light years in diameter, and located inside of the Merovingian Nebula, a bright emission nebula that hosted many systems still in formation.

On this day in particular, the small ship was undertaking the 5 hour journey from Djen, a red dwarf-brown dwarf star system in the Galactic Below, to Naralla, a bright blue star system towards the Galactic North-Above.



Jade Jeleshtin was a researcher at a small, semi-private genetics institute that was recently founded on Nobiru 45, a large orbital habitat in the Naralla Star System. After a temporary transfer to a series of research facilities and laboratories through the Cluster, she was finally going back home.

After getting in and laying down on a large cushion in her customized cabin, she had fallen asleep, while her small room warmed up to a temperature she was most comfortable with.

Suddenly, the ship intercom rang from it’s speakers, the sound of the virtual intelligence’s voice permeating the quarters and common areas of the vessel.

ATTENTION: WE WILL BE REACHING THE NARALLA STAR SYSTEM IN 2 HOURS AND 30 MINUTES. REFRESHMENTS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE CONCESSION STAND ON THE MAIN DECK.

Jade slowly woke up, with her exoself informing her of the intercom’s message, and asking if she wanted to head towards the main deck to eat something and chat with the other passengers. As soon as she confirmed that she was going to, her exoself released a small rush of adrenaline, so that she could wake up immediately.

After changing the color of her dress and eyes to a more formal blue, she exited her room.

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 Captain Crynthh hissed with anticipation. He could almost smell the blood, see its glistening surface. It had been too long since he’d captained a ship like this. Too long, and still longer. He didn’t need anyone to remind him of their mission, for he knew it all too well. They had no qualms with these “Galactyans”, the poor beasts were simply unfortunate enough to have what they so desperately needed. He tapped his slender fingers on the console.
 It had been one hell of a plan getting this ship. Months of planning, recruiting, training, for such a quick attack. And once they’d captured the ship, all it took was a single BrightSpace jump. They hadn’t even dumped any of the bodies first. Truly, this was the age of crime.
 In the decks below, his Ythri were ready. They had not failed him, and he knew they wouldn’t. Too much was at stake for them to fail. Still, he hoped they wouldn’t need to fight. No honor in killing innocents. No honor in kidnapping civilians. But what was honor without integrity, what were morals with no one left to understand your sacrifices?
 Crynthh knew that some called the Ythri “demons”. They did so from appearance alone. Few were worthy of using that moniker, for few had seen a Ythri with a cause and lived to tell the tale.

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The Hieropomp - or more properly, the virtual intelligence that maintained and guided the ship, commonly referred to as Hiero - was anaylizing the radar scannings ey had recently performed, and were quite puzzled by the results.

If the scanners weren’t faulty or mistaking something for something else, - which couldn’t really happen, since ey had installed a fancy, new, state of the art scanning system a few weeks ago - then something not natural had just happened right besides the ship’s path, two minutes of warp in front of their current location. A mysterious power surge, a tear in reality perhaps. Could this be a Warp-Space Anomaly? They had started to become more common since Drakari Ships started passing through the Galactyan Volumes, and while the Hieropomp’s space bubble could handle one, it was still best to avoid them.

Just as ey started shifting the ringularity the the side to create a small curve in the Hieropomp’s path, a massive ElectroMagnetic Pulse, unexpected and of unknown source, hit the ship. While the environmental and basic survival systems - like atmosphere, temperature and pressure control - were well protected by several layers of magnetic insulation to ensure the safety of the passengers, the other systems such as communication and shield generators weren’t.

The Hieropomp’s Warp Bubble destabilized, collapsing on itself and violently releasing it’s energy towards the outside of the ship, almost “popping” like a regular bubble would; Hiero - rightfully panicking - lost control on all the guidance systems as navigation, scanning, radars and more went off all at once. Even the Relativistic Propulsion Drive went offline as the ship’s fusion generators quickly slowed down and deactivated.


Panic quickly spread over the ship as the lights went off and personal devices stopped working. Most immediately thought of a damage to the ship’s systems, or an accident of some kind, but when they saw through the windows a large, alien ship appearing and closing in on the Hieropomp, there was no doubt. This, was an attack.

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 With the ship dead in the water, there was little stopping the Ythri from breaching it’s metal carcass. Crynthh’s soldiers rushed into the ship to ensure there could be no resistance. The Captain took a step forward. If only there was some Galactyan soil here. Then the moment would be truly perfect.
 Of course, the atmosphere wasn’t adjusted for “demons”, so he had to lug Colonus’s version of an oxygen (heh) mask onto the ship. The beasts around him would have no clue what he was saying, so it wasn’t like he could just ask them for the nearest geneticist. But, he liked a challenge.
 He grabbed the nearest Galactyan and shoved a tablet into it’s face. The genetic structure on the screen would hopefully get the point across. If not, his soldiers would just need to find one with braincells.

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As soon as the aliens breached into the ship and started grabbing random people on board, the passengers devolved into complete panic, trying to get as far away from the invaders as possible, running and hiding throughout all the ship in a frenzy.

The alien assailants tried to stop them from running away, but there were simply so many people on the ship that stopping all of them was impossible. They couldn’t even properly communicate with the people they were attacking: Galactyan Universal Translators did start to work, but the sampling was not yet enough.

While some of the aliens went through the rest of the ship to try and catch or find the other passengers, the main group remained near the breach and, one by one, shoved the same tablet into the face of every single Galactyan.

After a minute, they came to Jade’s turn.

“W-what? Wait… are you… are you looking for a genetic engineer?”

The insectoid alien looked back at her. Apparently, the translators hadn’t kicked in properly yet. Jade tapped at the screen, and tried to communicate that she was a gengineer by repeatedly tapping the screen and then pointing at herself.

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 One of the rank and file started hissing. A Ythri hiss was a strange sound, almost like a guttural whistle. It was easily enough to get Crynthh’s attention. It seemed that one of the beasts was trying to communicate something. It didn’t take the brain trust to figure out what it was saying. Crynthh sent our his troops to gather the groups that had breached further into the ship. Then he turned to the creature in front of him. It looked almost like a feathery pinecone on the bottom half.
 He couldn’t be sure that it was what they were looking for, but they were running out of time. They’d gotten lucky here, but they wouldn’t have such fortune against the Galactyan military. This thing would have to do. Crynthh gave it a sharp grin and gestured towards the ship. No point being too hostile; it was going to get to know him real well.


 Elsewhere in A1-0…

 Zelani groaned. At the rate things were going, she’d go crazy before she got through those thick Galactyan skulls.
 “What about this do you not understand. Terrorists, which in case you don’t know, are bad guys with bad intentions have stolen a cloaked military vessel equipped with the resistance drive we bought from you, and still you’re refusing to let us take care of this? Far be it for any Galactyan to commit a crime, but if they did and fled into Colonus, would you not expect to be allowed into our border?”

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Andrealphus Phenex was the member of the Council Of Clades that, after being elected by hundreds of billions, represented the Guphoperior Clade and it’s many species in the High Government of the Empire. He himself was a Meguphanoean, a splice of Melanean and Owl DNA, with the standard Galactyan Proteins also spliced in. It was a common thing for the species created during the Genetic Revolution.

The Emperors had been recently going through a very hard time with their mental health, and since they could not be bothered to deal with this diplomatic incident, they charged Andrealphus to deal with it for now. Both Galactya and Colonus reopened the communications channel that was established during their first contact 54 years ago, and Andrealphus started to discuss the situation with Zelani.

Let’s just say, things were not going well.

“Oh don’t you dare use that sufficient tone with me young lady! How many times do I have to tell you this: we can’t just let you in! There are procedures to follow, orders to be given and arrangements to be made. Besides, the terrorists already present a big enough trouble for us, so we are NOT letting you in to start some crazy pirate chase that could just make things worse!”

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 “Young lady? Young lady? I don’t care how old you may be, but round here age means something, so don’t go around calling me a lady! And I assure you, those damn Ytharans can do far more damage to your empire than we can. I’ve seen what they’ve done to my brother, it’s a miracle he’s still alive.” Zelani stood up from her seat. On the far wall was dart board Scytheros had given to her. It was supposed to help relieve stress or something. Zelani picked up a dart and flung it into the wall.
 “All right, once again we’re getting nowhere. The fact of the matter is that you need to catch them, and you can’t do that without our tech. Any time you pop up to catch them, they’ll just brightspace away.”

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“I knew giving you that Resistance Drive was a bad idea in the first place… Okay fine, fine. I suppose… I suppose we could let you inside, on the condition that you always tell us where you are and what you’re doing. And that’s the bare minimum. If you happen to need reinforcements just ask one of the nearby systems, we’ll tell them to lend you their ships and weapons for a while.”

“Also, as soon as you catch those terrorists, we want to be able to properly interrogate them before finally handing them over to you. We need to find out their motives, as their actions represents a threat to the whole Empire. That is non negotiable.”

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 Zelani threw another dart. “That is acceptable. As long as we catch them soon, it should just be a matter of looking for Brightspace anomalies. I’ll get a team together, we’ve lost enough time as it is.”

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"Good, good. In the meantime, we’ll mobilitate the Surveillance Systems across all systems in Quadrants 2, 9 and 10. If we detect any metric anomaly, ship ID or anything else, we’ll notify you so you can come into the area and take care of them.”

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 “Alright then. This line will remain open in case anything pops up. If you’ll excuse me, there’s someone I need to contact.”
 Zelani closed out that call and opened a connection to the Horn of Oblivion, Vrache’s personal flagship. It was certainly a strange situation, but it was better than the two sharing a royal fleet. Plus, moving light suited Vrache, he was always looking for action. The connection timed out.
Huh, strange. Zelani called up a Monitor to force the call through. As it opened, she was greeted by the sound of combat.

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Andrealphus massaged his temples as he rose up from his armchair and left his private office. After such a conversation, nothing would help clear the mind better than walking around his private garden while activating one of the light narcotic programs that he had installed in his exoself. Perhaps something like Medilation or Astrelox, or even Eridon. Ultimately however, he settled for Chilljoy, a narcogram that induced a combination of relaxation, mild euphoria and slightly altered perception. Just as the feelings kicked in through his Interface, he stepped outside.

The breeze of Gumendalphia, a terraformed moon in the Core Quadrants, ruffled his feathers as he slowly paced through the mansion grounds. Nemest, the father gas giant of the moon, took up most of the sky, and would soon obscure the sun as the moon headed behind the large gaseous planet. On Nemest’s night side, the lights coming from the clusters of floating cities and habitats shone through it’s reddish gases, visible even from the outermost moons.


Gumendalphia at dusk. Behind the forest and the banks of fog, two Arcologies can be seen in the distance.


While he laid calmly on a soft patch of iridescent grass, a series of urgent notifications started popping up on the Council’s communication channel. His exoself interrupted the program to ensure maximum attention on the notifications, and the narcotic effects quickly vanished as if they were never there in the first place.

Anderalphus sat up, and through his Neural Interface accessed the chat.

Meh, whatever. It’s probably just going to be some new legislature or something. Or maybe they already found some weird signals. Either way, I bet it’s nothing serio-

“…”

“Mother FUCKER!”

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Horn of Oblivion,
Orbit of Cyrathros

 Vrache fell into the arms of encircling Ytharans, laughing. Across the makeshift arena, his enemy glared at him with a burning hatred. That was to be expected, of course. The only real sign that this was a mutiny was the blood that covered the two of them.
 Vrache had grown accustomed to the frequent attempts on his life. In the 19 years since he had first had his title impressed upon him, he had built up a resistance to practically every lethal substance he could get his hands on. He found combat much more fun anyway. The scratches lining his armor could attest to that. Not a single one of his eyes was original.
 The treacherous thing charged him once again, and he dodged away. It was not an easy thing for a Vanti to do, but among his family Vrache was known for his short stature. As his opponent recovered, Vrache observed the arena once again. At least these guys have some sense on honor. It was a fairly standard arrangement. Ytharans had found themselves prone to violence, but they were smart, tactile. Mutinies were not faught by the soldiers, but instead one single battle by the factions’ leaders. Everyone else formed a circle around them.
 Vrache whistled. As if by magic, his violin and bow flew into his hands.
 “Gentlemen and uglier gentlemen, may I play you a song?” Without waiting for a response, he began furiously playing. His eyes closed, his body fully focused on the music. And yet, he still managed to dodge each of his enemy’s attacks. He had just begun approaching the crescendo when the com began to sound.
 Vrache’s eyes opened as he slipped over the Ytharan’s outstretched leg. Crack! The line continued ringing, but the music had stopped. Vrache knelt over his broken violin.
 The Ytharan approached him with deadly intent, and paused as Vrache turned to look at it. In that instant, it realized its mistake.
 Vrache launched himself at the mutineer, all restraint removed. The first thing to go was the wings. Then the horn. Then the fingers. Vrache lifted the screaming demon into the air, barely aware of his twin sister’s voice breaking into the ship. He dropped it, and with one stomp, the mutiny was over.


 Zelani shook her head, only able to wonder as to what Vrache was doing. She decided to leave a message for him instead.

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Andrealphus quickly got up, and stormed his way towards his house, steamrolling through the flowerbeds and shrubbery like a Ohmurian Rammerpod during the most violent of attack charges.

He made his way inside, tipping over furniture and decor in his rampage, and after destroying yet another piece of furniture that would cost a truly horrendous amount of Interstellar Credits outside of the Empire, he had reached his office.

There, he jumped over to the other side of his desk, and repeatedly pressed the Emergency Call Button for the communication line with Colonus.

In a single day these aliens had caused more trouble then one would think possible. First, they let a group of TERROSISTS infiltrate Imperial territory, pretend to enter with an armed fleet with much arrogance and now the terrorists had hijacked a ship AND kidnapped a Galactyan Citizen?! Two diplomatic incidents in a single day was surely a record.

But what was really bothering him was all the things that the Government would have to do because of these events. The protocols were very clear on what to do, and he did not enjoy the thought.

They would have to now mobilitate all surveillance systems to high priority across ALL of the Empire, they would also have to put system defense systems and fleets into preparation mode, send formal alarms to SubPolities and place defense fleets around their worlds or systems as per the terms of the Charter, they would have to limit public travel to the essential and dispatch even more defense drones and fleets in the affected areas, they would need to release a formal statement through Starlight News, and so much more stuff. He already saw it in his head, the chaos at the soon to be held emergency-meeting of the Quadrant Assembly, the hurry in the Ministries…

He sat down on his desk while trying to find the right program in his exoself to calm down enough to be able to not scream in Zelani’s face for thirty minutes. Oh boy, was this whole thing going to be a pain in the ass.

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 Zelani briefly considered poking all her eyes out, but that would probably only make the headache worse.
 “Councilor, I hope you’ll understand now why we were so adamant about chasing down those terrorists. Now, there are some… confidential details about our history with them, but I can assure you, they’re a people obsessed with war and violence. I have already contacted a mission leader for this, I suppose you’ll be wanting to meet him before he assembles a team? Or would you like to retract our previous agreement?”

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“I am getting rather tired of all your confidential details, but I believe it’s best if I keep my opinions on your foreign policy to myself today.”

“And no, I do not want to meet your mission leader, nor do I want to retract our previous agreement: I simply want to modify it. Now, I want your team to work along a Galactyan team that will aid you in navigating the Empire’s dense space, and avoid making you blow up anything or anyone important.”

“Luckily for you, I’ll be able to call for temporary emergency powers thanks to the little stunt those little terrorists pulled off, so I won’t have to go through the emergency meeting of the Council to put the team together. I’ll send you the coordinates of the system and world or habitat from which to pick them up as soon as I’m done. I can also give you their work experience info if you deem that necessary.”

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