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The Warrior (part 3)
Posted By: Chris Cox<Spheira@netscape.net>
Date: 31 December 2000, 7:41 pm

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>Reopening log from entry:-04.8.7:1202 [ent/(DE H c-2)//173-104-925-ADM]
>Reading three records...

>Open entry:-04.8.7:1202 [ent/(DE H c-2)//173-104-925-ADM]

Today we have truly faced demons. Someone or something has modified this human vessel almost beyond classification with the rest of their fleet. In addition to the advanced weaponry and unerringly accurate jump capability, the vessel has exhibited the use of some kind of metallic thread dispenser, apparently intended as a countermeasure against primitive guided projectiles, as a tool for disrupting our energy weapons. Who among us would have thought that this midget craft would cause the entirety of the crusade such difficulties?

The Truth and Reconciliation has been periodically engaging the enemy for over a day now, and has met with limited success. The density of this nebula favours our small adversary and hinders our movements, but the duration of the battle has at least allowed engineers aboard the Truth and Reconciliation to devise a way of minimising damage from their missiles. Despite this, she has sustained damage disproportionate to the size of her opponent.

In the last hour the Sacred Promise was able to join the Truth and Reconciliation in her battle, and the human vessel is gradually being worn down by our superior firepower. It is not a valorous battle, but this conflict has hardly been our most honorable moment. No matter. As long as our safety is ensured and the Gods are obeyed we will have succeeded. At the current rate of attrition, it should not take more than another day to destroy them. The prophets' fears will be allayed and we shall be able to continue with our task.

>End of entry:

>Open entry:-04.11.7:0407 [ent/(DE H c-2)//173-104-925-ADM]

Inconceivable! We have been surprised yet again and perhaps left in a situation that for once endangers us. I am beginning to agree with the prophets as to the risk posed by these humans. Much has occurred since my last recording. I shall start from the beginning.

Just as the Sacred Promise was beginning to cause significant damage to the human vessel, the vessel issued a bizarre communication to our capital ship and then folded out, apparently with some difficulty due to damage to its superluminal engines. The communication was relayed to the whole fleet by the commander of the Sacred Promise, and it reads:"... He says I came not to send Peace but a Sword ..."I cannot decide whether this is simply a threat or if it has some deeper meaning, but its ominous tones have been echoing in my mind since we folded out in pursuit of the vessel.

We followed the human vessel for more than a day as it limped away, on another seemingly nonsensical course through unexplored and unimportant space. It folded into a system not marked on any of our charts, and at the time our navigators were unsure as to whether they had entered it by intention or simply because their drives had failed. The fleet followed still.

Once within the system the human vessel made for a gas giant planet with as much speed as it could muster in its state. Having folded in closest to its position, the Purity of Spirit closed in on our quarry, and we were determined to finish the chase there and then. We rounded the gas giant, by then accompanied by the Truth and Reconciliation, and beheld a sight both awe-inspiring and terrifying.

Suspended between the giant and its largest moon, hanging like some gargantuan jewel between the two masses, is a ring. It is undoubtedly an artificial construct: no such wonder could exist naturally; yet it is far larger than any of our vessels, rivaling the size of some planets in its diameter. Whoever or whatever built this construct must have been advanced beyond even the ancient ones who gifted our races with their technology. Every eye on the Purity gazed in wonder at the thing, and then stared in horror as the half functional human vessel steered straight towards it.

Our vessels opened fire as soon as we were in range, and for some reason the enemy did not use the countermeasures that we witnessed before. Within a few minutes the ship was crippled and unable to fight back, but Maugur interjected before we were able to destroy it completely. He has resolved to find out how the humans were able to find this world and how they managed to evade us for so long. However, to find this we must first board the vessel, which has taken up an unstable orbit around the gas giant and will be difficult to reach. I am loath to leave this kill unfinished: every moment we delay in destroying them is a moment they may use to plot our own destruction. If nothing else, this crusade has taught me that these creatures can never be underestimated.

>End of entry:

>Open entry:-04.21.7:1012 [ent/(DE H c-2)//173-104-925-ADM]

I could have told Maugur that this would have happened. His incompetence has cost us lives and time, and if the prophets are to be believed he may have made an error of even greater gravity. If it would not dishonour my name and those of my warriors I would kill him myself, but such things are not done in times of war. Fortunate for him.

We wasted more than a week of time waiting for the wreck of the human vessel to drift far enough from the gas giant for transports to be launched and fiddling with remote intrusions into the craft's near-defunct network. I paced in my quarters for hours, unable to remain still with the tedium of it. After all the warnings from those to whom the Gods themselves deign to speak! I released my frustration in training simulations, although it did little to ease my nerves.

While we sat inactive in orbit, several exploratory teams were dispatched to the surface of the construct, which has apparently been crafted to resemble the surface of a planet. Although nothing specific has been achieved so far, they continue to send back intriguing reports of the workings of the structure, and of strange machines located deep underneath its surface. Of the builders, there is no sign, and the feeling among the prophets is that this technology has been left for us by the Gods as a reward for our devotion, as was that of the other ancients that we discovered. It is imperative that such power should not fall into the hands of our enemy. Why did he not destroy them?

No matter, such talk is futile now. The fact remains that during a permutation of the human vessel's orbit that brought it close to the ring and far enough from the giant's atmosphere for us to mount a boarding action, Maugur sent assault transports to capture the wreck. No sooner had the transports docked than a flight of small shuttles and dropships separated from the human ship and scattered, heading towards the ring. Too late we fired on the wreck to prevent any more from escaping, obliterating it and the transports in the process. An hour later, contact was lost with one of the exploration teams.

The enemy are too few to engage our forces on the construct directly, but the dense terrain has made it possible for them to fight what the tacticians call an 'insect war', a conflict based on ambush and hit and run attacks. We are now forced to fight on their terms. I now have my conflict on the ground, face to face and blade against blade, not that I welcome it now, under these circumstances. At least my Swords will know battle again, for they have been idle too long. We go now to fight for the gift of the Gods. I am gathering my weapons; my Swords and I will leave for the construct on the next transport.

This world will be ruled in blood.

>End of entry:

>End of records-closing file:>Ready-