Monday, February 19, 2018

Tiny Frontiers: Laneira #1

Icon For Hire, Only A Memory

The loading area is a starless void carpeted by luminous glaucous fog. Fetu's voice emanates from the darkness.

“This VIU Point is a little different. I took some of the safeguards offline so your subconscious has more control over the module. Gonna buffer it about seven to ten seconds so I can check for problems. That's why the long loading screen.”

“So we're playing with my brain. How's that work?”

“Easy. It watches your activity and interprets what you're thinking into constructs.”

“You're reading my mind?”

“Well, yeah, that's how VIU Points work, yeah? No worry though, your activity is encrypted.”

“Wait. You're recording these?!”

“How else is the software gonna adapt?”

“Fetu. When I get out, I'm going to fuc-”

“Whoa. Hey. Look. It's encrypted ,’k? Besides, you're like a sista. That'd be like me thinking about my mom.”

“That's… just… no. You know what? Nevermind. Every VIU client is recorded?”

“You got it. Some things I seen? Twisted. Vince seems pretty clean.”

“Vince doesn't play games.”

Fetu fell silent for a couple heartbeats. “VIU Point done. Injecting.”

The void was lit by glowing outlines. Panels of white flickered among them, taking more tangible shapes and fading into a variety of colors.

Ha’ Fo’thi to’ha Ki’o Waka’i Mia
“The Flames of the Sapphire Sea”

The system got its name when the fleet arrived and was greeted by the blue star. Ki’o Waka’i has four planets orbiting around it. K’io Waka’i 3, later called Torrid Wind and Stone, would be colonized shortly after. Waka’i 3 has two moons, little more than orbiting asteroids trapped by the planet’s gravity.

The scene stabilizes. Seated behind a window of what seems to be shatterproof acrylic, D’s transfer completes. Buttons and switches line either side of the cockpit; a fist sized hemisphere of obsidian in front. A voice interrupts.

“Nalu’ta. Thi’ra’wo ni’ wa’setnali.”

Elvish. Fortunately, I grew up speaking it, so I don't need the translation routines to assist.

“Ya’nala,” I reply absently. I use the faint light of the console and buttons to take a closer look at my features.

A familiar face looks back. Sequoia hair pulled into a braid with moss colored eyes. Her uniform is reminiscent of brown and grey leather, though more militant with the insignia of Commander on her collar. Ageless, Laneira seems somehow younger looking out from her reflection.

The hemisphere flares to life. A miniature replica of the blue star, the cockpit is bathed in blue white light. The viewport dims and becomes slightly opaque. Superimposed over the view of Waka’i 3 above, prediction lines spring to life. Nine icons illuminate in response, burning phoenix emblems displaying the position of the 1st Defense Squadron arrayed around her. Three flights of three Predators under Laneira’s command: Dawn, Sunset and Midnight.

Ten elven warmachines lift off from the moon’s surface. The preliminary scans only show one enemy Devourer Spawn, but it was immense. The squadron moves as a single unit, switching from their humanoid warmachine mode to angular fighters. A quiet melody plays around Laneira.

“Fet?” I ask. “Why is there music playing in the background?”

“Dunno. It’s your brain, not mine. I just see music; didn’t look dangerous.”


Daikaiju class Spawn

armored plating, bioelectric discharge, born of rage, carapace, energy reserves, environmental healing (aetheric), lashing tentacles, massive evolution, regeneration, unstoppable mountain

17 HP, 8 Energy

The massive spawn is one of the largest created by the Devourer. A formless shape of dark tentacles that could rival the size of most buildings. A scattering of luminous green eyes stare out into the void, scanning for any kind of life nearby it can consume.

“Dawn, I need you to take point; Sunset grab one of its flanks. Midnight, we’ll gain position and open fire when it’s over extended.”

Three affirmatives come over the comms, mirrored by three phoenix sigils turning green. Dawn flight continues forward, and Sunset veers off at what could best be determined as its rear. Midnight skims down to get beneath the thing; transforming back into the warmachine configuration. The chorus of the song cuts in, softly filling the cockpit with lyrics.

“I will not bend until I break; how much can one bruised body take? Just not enough to silence me; you’re only a memory…”

“Whatever,” I mutter, also switching over to warmachine configuration and freeing the main cannon.

Dawn begins the assault and opens fire with their pulse lasers, emitting streaks of emerald fire that cycle at a rate measured in hundredths of a second. The energy beams lance across the dark skinned thing; the heat evaporating portions of its flesh.

Daikaiju takes 2 damage (15 HP remaining)

The spawn’s luminous eyes increase in intensity; yellow green electricity arcs between its tentacles. A storm surges outward and carves a path toward Dawn.

Dawn rolls a save with Advantage from Agile Dodge: 1, 1, 2

The lightning overtakes the flight and bioelectric energy surges through their systems. Dawn’s propulsion systems flicker and stall. The monstrosity’s tentacles whip out toward Sunset as they sweep by.

Sunset rolls a save with Advantage from Agile Dodge: 2, 2, 5

A tentacle seizes one of the passing ships and pulls it towards the roiling mass. A gaping maw lined with pearlescent teeth opens along its side.

Sunset rolls a Standard Test for melee: 3, 5

The flight members quickly switch to their humanoid forms; green energetic blades form in their hands. They hack into the tentacles holding the captive fighter. The blades burn through its flesh, even as the teeth gnash down on the crippled fighter.

Daikaiju takes 2 damage (13 HP remaining)

“I’ll scream these words ‘til they come true, then I will think no more of you. Look back on what I’m going through; this isn’t my identity…”

I take my time, kicking a leg forward to use its thrust to slow my momentum. I rest an elbow on a crooked knee and fire my rail cannon into its underside.

Midnight follows Laneira’s lead, taking aim with their rail cannons and adding the weight of their metallic slugs to hers.

Daikaiju takes 3 damage (10 HP remaining)

With Dawn temporarily out of commission, the spawn focuses its attention on the two warmachines circling it. The luminous green eyes lock on to one of the elven warriors and swings a massive tendril toward it.

Sunset rolls a Standard Test for melee: 6, 6

The two remaining members of Sunset flight thrust back and spiral around, weaving dangerously close to the approaching limb. Their green blades dart out and trace incisions along its length.

Daikaiju takes 2 damage (8 HP remaining)

“You’re only a memory; this isn’t my identity…”

We complete our deceleration and continue offering supporting fire with the rail cannons.

Daikaiju takes 3 damage (5 HP remaining)

The rail cannons meets with some resistance until a portion of its hide cracks; shards of blackened bone erupt into space followed by sprays of dark fluid after the slugs start tearing into it. The now familiar green arcs dance along its tentacles, directed toward Sunset.

Sunset rolls a save with Advantage from Agile Dodge: 1, 2, 4

Sunset flight disengages and pulls away as the electricity reaches out to power down their systems. The two warriors fly back a safe distance but out of melee range.

Green status lights flicker on Laneira’s console as Dawn’s engines come back online. The creature propels itself toward Midnight, reaching out to snare another victim.

Midnight rolls a save with Advantage from Agile Dodge: 2, 5, 5

“You’re only a memory; this isn’t my identity…”

I watch one of the tentacles wrap itself around a warmachine’s leg and direct Midnight to continue firing into the creature’s mass as Dawn comes back online.

Midnight rolls a Standard Test for shooting: 1, 3

The armored plating is tough. The metal rods from the rail cannons peel and shatter more of the plates but fail to make the creature release its captive. The teeth crush into it.

Dawn flight pivots and jets back into the fight; they open fire with pulse lasers and burn holes through the thing’s armor and skin.

Daikaiju takes 2 damage (3 HP remaining)

Sunset deactivates their energy blades and take aim with rail cannons. More metal spines tear into the spawn. Explosions of armored fragments accompanied by more dark fluid leak into the void.

Daikaiju takes 2 damage (1 HP remaining)

“You’re only a memory; this isn’t my identity…”

The massive beast quakes; the glowing green eyes glare defiantly at Midnight as it strikes at them with what time it has left.

I’ve lost two members of the 1st Defense Squadron; those are heavy losses. Excusable, considering what we’re up against, but hard to replace. Midnight flight are the senior members, followed by Sunset. Dawn are the newest members of the squadron.

I let the clamps on the back of the warmachine take hold of the rail cannon; the energy blade springs to life.

Midnight rolls a Standard Test for melee: 3, 4

Three energy blades light, and the members of Midnight flight charge toward the spawn. One tentacle snakes around another victim, green electricity shorting circuitry and cutting power. The green blade flickers and dies. Laneira’s blade slashes out and severs the limb holding the warmachine.

The last active member of Midnight and Laneira fly along the spawn’s mass, cutting into its bulk and slicing away its armor. Its limbs flail uselessly, the one gaping maw soundlessly screaming … something. Then the green light behind its eyes dim and go dark.

“You’re only a memory; this isn’t my identity…”

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