January 4, 2168/4th of Morning Star, 7E 5
Bahak System, Viper Nebula
"We've made the jump, Captain, along with the rest o' the fleet. Drifting about two thousand klicks off-target."
Captain Hackett nodded at the navigator. "Good job." He turned to the raised dais at the center of the CIC. "Admiral, the fleet is yours."
Admiral Cole nodded at the junior officer. "Thank you, son. Where's the Imperial fleet?"
"Searching. Ah, they're…Wow."
"They've managed to space their jump to be perfectly interspersed with our fleet. I've never seen such precision." Then the radar operator remembered himself. "Sorry, sir. I let my professionalism slip."
"It's alright, son. Comms, open up a channel to both fleets."
After a few command inputs, the communications officer looked over her shoulder toward the admiral. "All frequencies open, sir."
"Good." Admiral Cole stood up. "To all members of the Alliance and Imperial fleets, I'm not speaking to you today as one of the top admirals of the Systems Alliance, or even as a commanding officer. I'm speaking to you as just a human being. We're all here because of the attack on one of our colonies a week and a half ago. We're here to see that the scum who orchestrated the attack are brought to justice. That starts today. Many of us may not make it home, but everyone who is here came despite the risks. Today, we will show the Batarian Hegemony, and the rest of the slave traders in the galaxy, that that vile practice will not be tolerated any longer. You all have your missions. Let's get them done."
As expected, there were no responses beyond a basic, if eager, acknowledgement from the other Alliance ships. However, the entire bridge crew of Kilimanjaro received a shock when the Imperial fleet reported in. "Well spoken, Admiral. I look forward to fighting by your side."
The shock came from the fact that none of them recognized the speaker. "Identify yourself."
"I am Admiral Karn Free-Winter of the Third Imperial Fleet."
"What? Where is High Admiral Kesara, who I was told would be leading the main Imperial fleet?"
One Hour Later
INV Wrath of Akatosh
In orbit of Spekilas, Harsa System, Kite's Nest
High Admiral Kesara watched the readouts as the last ships from the First, Second, and Fourth Imperial Fleets finished their Aetherium Jumps. She would admit that the Emperor's plan was underhanded, sneaky, and unfair to their human allies. Hopefully the backup of Third Fleet and the havoc that was about to occur with the beheading of the Hegemony would allow most of the Alliance crews to survive.
Now Praefect Ilas walked up, holding a portable mage-light viewer. "Admiral, the last ship has reported in." He handed her the viewer for her own perusal.
"Very good, Praefect. Return to your post." She turned to the Empire's top officer. "My lord, this one reports that we are ready to commence the attack."
Dovahkaaz II nodded at her. "Proceed."
She returned the nod and took a seat at her Throne. "All ships, this is Kesara. Come around this world and start a high-speed burn toward Khar'shan. Lesser vessels, stay with the Wrath. Do not leave this one behind."
"We shall be as a wolf pack, ma'am."
The Emperor had directed the Imperial Fleets to jump into the system behind Spekilas because of Citadel records indicating that this planet would disrupt the batarians' equivalent of Scrying sensors.
This, combined with the one hour delay after the humans' arrival in the Bahak system allowing the batarian fleet to respond to that attack, was meant to ensure that batarian resistance would be minimal and the Empire's arrival at Khar'shan would be with maximum surprise.
Then the officer in charge of the Scrying sensors leaned forward in his seat. "Ma'am, I think you should see this." He grabbed the result and flung it to her screen.
"What construct is this one seeing?" In a word, it was unusual. At its most basic, it looked like someone had crafted an enormous mechanical squid from ebony. And "enormous" was the key word, for the sensors decreed that the construct was almost an Imperial mile in length.
She looked toward the Emperor, and even he appeared confused, much to her dismay. "I…do not know. Is there anything else?"
The High Admiral manipulated the image to focus on the smaller details. "Hmm. The batarians seem to have built a structure around parts of the construct. Kesara…thinks they might be studying it."
Dovahkaaz's orders came swiftly. "Destroy any batarian ships you see and carry on with the attack of Khar'shan. When we have time later, we will return and destroy this construct."
"Understood, my lord."
When the Imperial Fleet entered scrying range, the sensors revealed that the plan had worked. What was more of a task force was clustered each at the Mass Relay and around Khar'shan. Between the two, Kesara noted the presence of three dreadnoughts, about a dozen cruisers, and less than two dozen frigates, not counting the half-dozen frigates they had rolled over and destroyed at the construct.
The High Admiral smirked. She had three hundred ships under her command. This would be quick. "All ships, move to full attack speed. Wolf ships, circle around and hit the batarians crowding around the Relay. Bear ships, press on to Khar'shan."
Acknowledgements poured in as the smaller, faster ships peeled off from the main Armada and raced off toward the Mass Relay. Graar Mok flickered into existence beside her. "We'll be in weapons' range in seven minutes."
"Good. All hands, ready our weapons."
Four minutes later, the first batarian weapons struck among the Imperial ships. Kesara could only watch in horror as a projectile from one of the enemy dreadnoughts overwhelmed the wards of and literally shattered The Eternal Champion. She didn't need the reports from her crew to know that everyone on that ship was dead. "All ships, break formation! Do not allow them to target you!"
More mass accelerator rounds streaked in, and she saw the Emperor bow his head and weep as ships were destroyed and more lives were lost. A young crew member panicked. "How can we fight against that? Our ships are useless against theirs!"
"Stow it, Auxiliary!"
The High Admiral beckoned the Emperor to lean in close and whispered, "How are their weapons so effective against our ships?"
"It is the stalhrim plate. The ice has been hardened, yes, but it is still ice. Strike a sheet of ice with a hammer and it will shatter." He nodded at the viewers displaying the batarian ships. "The mass accelerators are that hammer against stalhrim."
Kesara nodded and stood. "All ships, close to point blank range and focus fire on the dreadnoughts. Once they are destroyed, work your way down."
The Weapons Chief turned from his seat. "Weapons are fully charged and in range."
Both khajiit unleashed predatory grins. "Good. Burn them from existence."
For the first time since the Slaver Purge, the Thunderstorm and Sunfury Cannons of the Wrath of Akatosh discharged, the lightning-based weapons firing a split second before the pure light. The charged energy of one of the batarian dreadnought's kinetic barriers interacted with the lightning, stopping and trying futily to absorb the attack. Then the light beams speared the dreadnought, completely bypassing the barriers, and rendered the resistance moot. In a single volley, one of the rarest ships in the galaxy was obliterated.
The Emperor hummed to himself. "Someone make a note: Kinetic barriers of sufficient strength will resist a Thunderstorm Cannon, but not a Sunfury."
"Ma'am, one of the dreadnoughts is releasing a swarm of small craft. Scrying determines them to be only large enough for one warrior."
Dovahkaaz growled. "Never underestimate the ability of a single warrior. Have all ships direct their Sunfuries at the small craft."
Every blast of concentrated light wiped one of the tiny batarian ships from existence, and the two hundred Bear ships possessed more than enough firepower to erase the lot of them. Even so, enough of them got close enough to release their weapons, and the Cyrus and Feldir were the targets. As Kesara watched, their armor appeared to warp and crack around the points where the small weapons impacted. In seconds, the damage was too great and the hulls burst. The High Admiral shut her eyes and winced as she watched the deaths of more than two hundred men ejected into the void.
Minutes later, every last batarian ship had either been destroyed or fled through the Relay. "Admiral, the path is clear."
"Thank you, Quaestor. Ilas, how many died?" Even with her decades of experience, Kesara couldn't keep the sorrow and hollowness from her voice.
The snow elf sighed as he read the report, first to himself and then aloud. "Nearly twenty Imperial vessels have been destroyed, all hands lost."
As he began to list the ships that had been destroyed, the Admiral zoned out; she already knew that the number of dead was too high. She distantly heard each ship's name and tallied up the number of crew aboard each, ending up with a total of two thousand, one hundred, eighty three dead Imperial sailors. Forcing herself to report the next step, she turned toward the Emperor. "My Lord, we are ready to begin the ground invasion."
Focusing, her eyes widened as she saw tears drip from the muzzle of the mightiest man in the Empire. He nodded and walked out of the Throne Room.
Kal'Reegar loaded a steel block into his Mattock. Thanks to trading with the Citadel races, a number of Imperial soldiers had begun to wield mass accelerator weapons. Therefore, Imperial armorers had commenced the manufacture of ammunition blocks for those weapons, and Kal was able to replenish his ammo.
He looked along the wall of weapons in one of the armories of the Wrath of Akatosh. There were some he wondered about due to no Dragon Knight he had ever seen being large enough to wield such weapons. Some were absolutely massive hammers that were to K'joor's Dwarven Royal Hammer and Ogrul's Volendrung as those hammers were to tool hammers. Others were massive guns the size of tank cannons, the size of himself.
His question of the wielders was answered as an arm as thick as his torso reached past him to grab one of the cannons off the wall. Kal's sight followed the cannon as its owner went through the process of preparing it. Taking a second to tear his sight away from the cannon to its wielder gave him a view of a gigantic man some ten feet tall with a bull's head, horns included. A minotaur, clad in ebony armor plating two inches thick.
The minotaur laid the tip of the weapon's barrel on the ground, rotated a handle on the back, and opened the attached plate along a hinge. He reached into a chest below where the weapon had been mounted and withdrew a brilliant white gemstone that was "caged" in bands of ebony; it flared out in the middle a bit like a mushroom, where the thickest band of ebony wrapped around the apogee of the flaring and stopped entirely halfway above it. He slotted the gemstone into the back of the weapon, swung the loading door shut, and rotated the handle back into place. After that, the weapon began to glow with a shock-damage enchantment. Nodding in satisfaction, the minotaur accessed the chest again and pulled out a bandolier holding eight more such gemstones, a concentration of brightness such that the quarian had to glance away to avoid being blinded.
"Gah! What are those?"
Wha–? How can someone have a voice deeper than that of a krogan?!*
"Drops of condensed and concentrated starlight. We use 'em when we need deep reservoirs of magical power." He hefted the cannon onto his shoulder. "Hurry up. The Emperor needs us on the field." With that, the minotaur walked out of the armory, humming to himself.
After snapping himself out of his stupor, Kal retrieved the Mace of Aevar Stone-Singer, hung it from his hip, and followed the large beastman out.
Dovahkaaz stood next to Nahfahlaar in the Knights' Compound in the Wrath of Akatosh, waiting for the remaining Dragon Knights to filter into the chamber. The red dragon's head maneuvered down to meet eye to eye with his Keinzeymah. "Dreh hei mindok fos mu fend zent fo kin grah, dahsul?"
"Niid. Daar los fin Lokolteii diist grah voth aan nalgask Anhiim lahvu. Nuz, waan fin grah au fin golt koros ol fin gein ko Lovok drey…"
He was interrupted by the dragon nuzzling him. "Stiildus hinmaar, dii fahdon. Mu praag ho wah kos mul."
The Emperor sighed. "Zu'u mindok. Nuz, vir dreh Zu'u sav vok dii solkiig raal tol zok se fin kendovii wo lost rahzunii niist ov ko zey fen dir, dahsul?"
"Naal mindok tol den wo krif ahrk dir dahsul fen wahl edahraal tol zuk fen ni lost wah dir, dirsul."
Ge'Vaudan was silent for a moment, staring at the floor as he contemplated the dovah's sentence. "…Ho los geges. Pah mu vis dreh los bazim wah bo domativ."
At that moment, the High Admiral announced that they had breached the sky of Khar'shan and the transport ships were preparing to land and disgorge their troops. Nahfahlaar bellowed the order for the Dragon Knights to mount up and ready themselves for departure. The bay doors opened, and the entirety of the Dragon Knight corps rode to war for the first time since the 5th Era.
Empire of the Dragon – Space Combat: New to the theatre of space-based combat, the Empire has few definite strategies when using their warships. It was quickly discovered that, compared to the capital ships of the other Citadel and non-Citadel races, Imperial ships are short-ranged glass cannons.
Due to not possessing kinetic barriers, the average Imperial warship is fragile, with up to a cruiser-equivalent shattering under a single strike from a dreadnought's main gun against their crystalline stalhrim armor. The Imperial equivalent to kinetic barriers, Wards, are designed to resist magic-based weaponry and energy attacks, rendering point-defense lasers useless but mass accelerators highly effective.
However, the firepower of Imperial ships is far greater than their Citadel counterparts, with even their "Wolf" ships out-gunning heavy cruisers. Additionally, the weaponry of Imperial ships is based on directed energy, which kinetic barriers provide little to no resistance to.
The warships of the Empire are usually divided into two categories for their combat doctrines.
"Wolf" ships are small, quick warships, equivalent to frigates and light cruisers. Fleets made up of "Wolf" ships are assigned the task of harassing enemy warships, striking from more angles than the enemy can handle, or running down ships that attempt to flee the battle. Such ships proved to be highly effective against their batarian opponents, as their speed nullified the range advantage of mass accelerators.
"Bear" ships are the slow, heavy workhorses of Imperial fleets. They are the Empire's analogues to regular and heavy cruisers and dreadnoughts. Their job is to be the hammer that batters the enemy into submission, overwhelming enemy fleets with superior raw firepower. However, the relative fragility of Imperial ships made this strategy less viable than it might have been, and "Bear"-based fleets took heavy losses in the war with the batarians.
Battle Cannons: Until a couple of decades ago, the only two ways for a non-mage to wield magic were with the use of staffs or scrolls. Scrolls had the problem of being single-use and the vast majority of staffs could not have the most powerful spells bound to them. The post-raloi development of Battle Cannons solved both problems, being multi-use weapons that could channel Master-level Destruction spells.
Essentially up-sized Arcane Rifles, Battle Cannons are used on both Imperial vehicles and as personal fire-support weapons used by their largest soldiers. They are forged out of either stalhrim (for vehicles) or ebony (for infantry) and have a heart stone embedded in the metal near the base of the barrel as a conductor for the spell that is bound to the weapon. However, these spells are so powerful that Battle Cannons use Varla Stones as ammunition, rather than soul gems.
Unfortunately, to fit all of these parts, Battle Cannons are massive, requiring special mounts (either tripods/bipods or attachment to a vehicle) for any race smaller than a krogan to wield properly. The damage output of these weapons, however, is determined to be worth the drawbacks.
Varla Stones: In the 1st Era, Cyrodiil was ruled by a race of elves known as the Ayleids (or Heartland High Elves). They were a magically advanced society that focused on the use of magical stones carved from meteoric glass. Among these stones were the Varla Stones. While it is still unclear exactly what the Ayleids used Varla Stones for, it has been made abundantly clear that Varlas contain immense amounts of the magical power used in enchantments; adventurers carrying numerous enchanted weapons discovered that cracking open a Varla Stone could recharge the enchantments of every single weapon they were carrying.
For many millennia, the secret to creating Varla Stones, along with the other magical gemstones, was lost with the destruction of the Ayleids and their cities. However, scholar-servants of the Daedric Lord Hermaeus Mora traded their lives for the secret in the late 6th Era, sparking a new renaissance of magical technology.
Here is a translation of the Dovahzul conversation between Dovahkaaz II and Nahfahlaar:
"Do you know what we should expect in the battle, today?
"Niid. This is the Empire's first engagement with a proper Citadel military. But…if the battle on the ground proceeds as the one in Aetherius did…"
"Calm yourself, my friend. We need you to be strong."
"I know. But, how do I save up my strength knowing that most of the soldiers who have placed their trust in me will die, today?"
"By knowing that those who fight and perish today will make sure that more will not have to die, tomorrow."
"…You're right. All we can do is continue to move forward."
AUTHOR'S NOTE 2:
I have created a "Supplementary Materials" side story for those aspects of this universe that cannot be explained in Codex entries. View it here: fanfictionDOTnet/s/12084563/1/The-Effect-of-the-Dragon-Supplementary-Documents