Dark Hunter, Dark Saviour

Chapter 47: Construction resumption, final bid.

4th April 2901

Hra'gan sector, Xathana system, asteroid belt, shipyard facility.

The Xathana shipyards, a key facility for the production of the Alliance's joint species military vessels. From the facility, situated in a gap between 2 closely orbiting asteroid belts, multiple classes of medium to heavy warship were constructed, many designs not quite cutting edge technology, but sufficient to allow tech superior to the UIP in greater production numbers. However, in the case of newer designs, such doctrines of balance of quality and quantity were offset either way.

Smaller vessels, mainly destroyers and frigate classes, were often of a balance of ease of manufacturing and advanced technology. However, the cruisers and battleships were different. Each larger warship class saw a preference or quality, to ensure higher survival, each larger class more proportionally advanced. These shipyards were one of the sites where the Liberator's class of battleship was manufactured in the dozens, mounting to the hundreds in use.

There were some projects proposed long before, but were discontinued due to lack of interest or need. But recently, the largest discontinued project was resumed. A project immense in scope of the vessels produced, in power and size. Only one of the vessels had been finished in the wake of the program's cancellation, but was now a vaporized memory.

While the Emancipator had been destroyed, its uncompleted sister ships, having laid half constructed in the Xathana shipyards, the ship class's only designated manufacturing site, were still intact. Not just intact, but nearing completion, and upgraded from the original specifications.

By special order of the monarchy, the Dreadnought programme had been resumed.

Surrounding the massive shipyard facility, the joint Alliance 3rd Home fleet segment kept a constant vigil for defence. It was far from the front lines, well within Alliance territory, located within a system of mineral rich asteroid belts and a few gas giants, of little economic interest to the Alliance due to the lack of habitable planets.

In the massive facility, the lights of welding arcs and the slight movement of construction drones and workers swarmed over the 9 massive warships. At 12 kilometres long, they outsized, outgunned and outpowered any Alliance or UIP ship in history. Unrivalled in shield strength, size, hanger and ground compliment, but most significantly, firepower. As with the shield and reactor output, the firepower of the Emancipator class Dreadnoughts had been upgraded. The main weapon, the heavy mass accelerator, carried a mix of high power warheads. Antimatter shells up to 15 kilograms in antimaterial weight, with the power of 300 megatons of TNT, as the largest used standard class explosives. The power of the antimatter warheads had already been demonstrated on the Sol System planet, Mars, by the original Emancipator, 1.5 years ago. However, the warheads now included massive EMP wave warheads to disrupt or fry electronics, Neutron warheads to bombard organic tissue, and even particle disintegrator warheads capable of destroying a medium sized city at maximum charge.

An upgrade from the original Emancipator design was the slight decrease in ground forces compliment to only a standard army composition of a 70,000 trooper, 1200 tank size. In exchange, on board manufacturing facilities and matter transformers allowed each ship to produce fuel, supplies and ammunition, even slowly produce replacement smaller vehicles, provided enough matter from say, asteroid strip mining, or waste matter, was used.

They were terrible machines of war, and what was the most significant improvement was the inclusion of an on board AI on each vessel. Now, the AIs would govern the vessel systems, ensuring survival of the organic crew first, and second the preservation of important data, including automated combat unit data. The AIs could assume complete control of the ships, but the programmes were online for long enough to learn of the usefulness of organic unpredictability in combat when combined with the processing power of themselves.

The fleet guarding the facility was smaller than anticipated for a facility of this importance, for one critical reason. Of the 9 Emancipator Dreadnoughts here, 2 were already fully operational, another 4 with almost all weapons ready, only the shield and engine systems needed to be finished, a 2 month wait. The remaining 2 were the latest ones, and still were offline, only the AIs active, learning from the others, the armour on the 3 last ones incomplete, the weapons not all installed, and the shields and engines far from being finished, a 5 month wait. The inclusion of self replicating contruction drones sped up the process, but the last of the nine Dreadnoughts had been definitely abandoned, and was being scavenged for parts from its pre cancellation construction to help finish the other Dreadnoughts more rapidly to meet the deadlines.

Aboard one of the 2 complete Dreadnoughts, one Alliance Admiral, Kha'ralan, sat in discussion with the holographic projections. The projections showed the two monarchs and their war councillors. Kha'ralan, a 62 year old Kro'nogri admiral, spoke in his worn but stern voice: "My Kings, war councillors. The Dreadnought project is underway. 2 of the units are ready, and 4 will be ready within 2 months, the other 3 will be ready not until 5 months from now. As you know, the last dreadnought is being used as salvage for the other units."

"The units have been upgraded from the original specifications then? We don't wan a repeat of what happened to the original Emanciaptor." Said one of the two Leg'hrul war councillors. Of the members present, the Kro'nogri were concerned with how effective a weapon these will be, but the Leg'hrul showed less inclination to actually using them, but insisted on protecting such vast investments.

"The original Emancipator was destroyed due to internal sabotage by a rogue KI agent, one of the humans, Alex Hunter. The improvements to weapons and defences will not stop sabotage. However, the AIs and improved internal security will lessen the chances of internal saboteurs." Reinforced Admiral Kha'ralan. The Admiral fiddled his talons together behind his back, he may be an experienced Admiral by now, but he had developed this subconscious habit whenever he spoke publically or to important individuals very high above his rank. It caused no harm to his skills, it was a reaction to nerves, nothing more.

"Good. This project was revived under the impression that the NKI and the UIP are growing to great. This project could end the war through submission easily, and if that can happen, the war protests will stop. None of us need more riots and NKI raids, or the UIP snatching back territory, and raiding our home border systems." Said King Lo'rath, his tone of hidden pleasure. Beside him, King Rho'kis's face scrunched briefly in disapproval. Hidden, the Leg'hrul King had been personally against the Dreadnought project, but since the UIP refused to negotiate, the NKI sought to overthrow the regime, or forcibly change it, under the traitor Sha'krii's leadership, they had no other viable option.

"You have done well Kha'laran, but to ensure that this programme is secure, we shall send a regiment of additional, royal security to assist in the defence of the project and the Dreadnoughts." Said King Rho'kis. King Lo'than stated: "My captain of the Royal Guard, Kal'sik, shall depart with a legion of royal guards and highly trained marines to help reinforce the dreadnoughts. He shall be our direct eyes and ears into the project. We trust your progress, but with a project of this size, we need to ensure security."

"It is also a chance for Kal'sik to redeem himself. As you already know, he is stained on his record by the loss of the Varya operations. They were our most ambitious project, and it cost us many forces, and most likely began the series of revolts to the war afterwards. However, seeing his record, and his efficiency in the defence role, not being in total leadership mind you, we are willing to offer him a place as your head of security for the Dreadnought project." Said King Rho'kis.

"Thank you your highnesses. I will expect good results from him if he is trying to redeem his reputation." Replied Admiral Kha'ralan. Nodding, the Kings gave the signal for the end of communications, and cut off the transmission.

The programme was well underway. In fact, the first 2 dreadnoughts were set to head out into combat just a month from now, to repel any rebel forces inside, and to inflict crushing blows to the UIP if necessary or desired.

At the same moment, Kal'sik was a day away from the construction facility, currently en route via FTL travel. He travelled aboard a fast, officer specific shuttle variant. He may have gone down in ranks, but he had managed to claw back enough influence to be near to his prime once more. However, he yearned for the front lines, to prove himself.

Being assigned to help with the dreadnought programme was a simultaneous honour and insult. Such a covert and high level programme was a position of significant worth. But at the same time, defending a fleet of ships virtually indestructible to any military means of predicted size against them was too easy for a job that required effort to gain prestige.

Sitting on his fold out bed, Kal'sik scratched his scaly eye ridges in boredom. With his other hand, the mental implants reacted as he gathered a mass of his personal dark matter in his hand. The shape formed into 2 bipedal figures, the pictures of the people still fresh in Kal'sik's mind nearly a year later. In his hand, two dark models of a scarred Human and a treacherous Leg'hrul officer stood.

With a grunt, he slammed his fist shut around the small models, crushing them in a small crunch as the figures collapsed back into the very fine, dust like substance of gripping nano-machines that formed dark matter's composition.

If only destroying those two was that easy. Thought Kal'sik. He did not know of the Kro'nogri member of their crew, and the Cybertronian mech had done little against him even while free on the Varya station. However, Alex and Norstith were responsible for undermining the entire operation from the inside, and needed to pay the price.

In time, they would pay, in one way or another.

4th May 2901

Thiri'stis system, planet Henamas, 2nd largest moon: Plievon, UIP military outpost 23.

Situated near the rim of UIP territory, the UIP military outposts, including outpost 23, saw action in their theatres of war very often.

Situated on the 2nd largest moon, orbiting a large gas giant, Henamas, with swirling bands of yellow and dark red clouds, a few circular storms ravaging the surface, the moon of Plievon was a calm, mildly atmospheric world. The rich minerals allowed the base to mine present resources, and the magnetic field from the metal rich core generated a surprisingly strong magnetic field for the moon's size.

The base, a large aerospace outpost and UIP shipyard and dock, was situated across from an active volcano. The gas giants gravity caused the moon to swell and pulse, the heat from this tectonic release substituting the distance from the systems's red dwarf star.

All was proceeding as normal, with requests from neighbouring star systems for supply runs, or security escorts for supply runs. As a small 4 fighter squadron flew off into interplanetary space for patrol, the comms tower intercepted a distress signal from a nearby system. The recording was from a military cargo ship.

"BZZZZT! Repeat, this isBBZZZT freighter Kael Rahano. Scanners detected a massive energy signature pass by at FLT speed, heading in direction of Thiri'stis system! Beacon transmits as Alliance navy!"

The message cut off there, and the station was put on priority readiness.

30 minutes later, and the source of the energy signature appeared.

Roughly 100,000 miles from the Moon, a small squadron of Alliance cruisers dropped out of FTL, these designs incorporating flexing and changing arm like extensions, exposing heavier weapon broadsides.

Before the scramble order could be given to fighters, the launch codes for anti-space laser and missile systems, the Alliance lead ship dropped out of FTL.

On the long range visual scanners, the UIP comms officers watched in shock and awe as a single ship came out of FTL. This ship was not normal though. In size alone, it was the size of a large space station, an array of engines along its rear glowing bright blue from the ion trails they left behind.

Alarms blared before the scans could accurately measure the true visual characteristics of the new class of super warship. The warship, aided by a volley of missiles from its handful of Alliance cruiser, fired rapid series of 2 shots, with a 6 second time gap between shots.

On the ground, the sky became ablaze with an unnatural light, impossibly bright, the earth shaking as a response to the administration of such power from a single warship.

The energy and particle shielding of the base was overwhelmed with the first blast, the explosive ball of light detonating a kilometre overhead. With such power, the shield generators overheated, and died. The generators would take a minute to recharge from the base's main reactor to reform the shield.

Before any comprehension was made by the groundside people, a second, unbelievably fast shell punched through the explosion cloud that now overcast the area, like a storm system. The piercing sonic boom was heard over the drowning rumble of the previous explosion. Then, impact on the ground, just on the base's northern assembly area, and detonation.

The 2nd of 2 500 kiloton equivalent warheads would seal the fate of the outpost base.

In the control tower, as alarms blared, the base commander stared out at the dimming cloud high above. The Vulcan stepped back from the window, the years of training to harness and suppress his emotions faltering in the face of overwhelming odds. The sight of a rapid projectile punching through the cloud, directly to their base, made his emerald coloured blood run cold.

The moment the shell detonated, in the milliseconds that saw the explosion incinerate hundreds of people on the ground, the hangers and base facilities blown apart like shattering glass, and the EMP shockwave beginning to travel out to disrupt any craft lucky to escape the blast radius, the Vulcan commander felt all the fear come forth. With wide eyes, he began to stumble back, a hopeless attempt to escape the rapidly expanding star consuming the base.

His last utterance before annihilation consumed him was a faint gasp of pain and shock. There would be no trace of him, no building left behind to leave a charred outline of where he once stood. In the space of a few seconds, he and the rest of the UIP base had been erased from the universe.

The fleet turned around, pre-programming departure FTL routes. The fighter squadrons were picking off as many fleeing craft as possible, FTL capable ones a priority. However, this mission was to show the new class of ship the Alliance had been driven to use in the face of their more desperate bid to win the war. If there were survivors, they would spread word. Either way, the UIP would become aware of the dreadnought class after at least a handful of bases met their end like Plievon moon base just had.

With the last fighters aboard, the Dreadnought and the escorting cruisers vanished, jumping to FTL, leaving the Pleivon moon far behind, a new, albeit small crater remaining. All that remained of where the base had once been was a few shards of glass from the superheated sand at the explosion centre, and the concrete and steel ground, and the support column bases.

20th May 2901

Dae'rakal system, planet Iri'thak, destroyed UIP base.

It was strange to be back on this planet under these circumstances. It was less than half a year before that Quirinth, Sru'sky and Trion had partaken and led [from lower ranks] the UIP operation to recapture this planet and system from the Alliance. After the capture, the base had been converted into a UIP outpost.

Now, something had converted it into a graveyard, and a destroyed wasteland.

"Scans show higher gamma radiation levels than normal, not lethal, but detectable." Trion noted. He was part of a team scanning the details of the wrecked base, or what little was actual still existing. This was the same as had been with two other bases before across the front lines. The base would report they were under attack by an unknown superweapon of the Alliance, and then minutes later, they would go silent. Reports from escaped ships were inconclusive, as the superweapon was far away, and apparently incorporated stealth technology to make it all but visually invisible. Unfortunately, all the ships that escaped fled to warn the UIP, before the base was destroyed.

Elsewhere, Quirinth and Sru'sky helped lead a team into the base's underground levels. Whatever had hit the base had not penetrated too far underground in terms of concussive impact. In the lower levels, scorch marks and the predicted higher gamma radiation levels presided.

Walking into a darkened storage room, Sru'sky shone her rifle's searchlight inside. She saw a sight that made her gasp and gag at the same time.

Propped against the wall near the door was a figure, impossible to recognize, likely a Klingon by the head shape and size together, a male also. The scaly skin was impossibly charred, and the scorch marks in all the hallways, whatever had caused them had made him quickly incinerate, and burn alive, dying moments later by the sheer levels of short half life, but powerful radiation levels.

The putrid smell of burnt, old reptilian flesh drove Sru'sky back, and she called: "We've got a body here!"

From down the hall, another voice, a male Vulcan captain, yelled in response down the echoing hallway: "There are other bodies here! All show extremely fatal radiation and burn exposure!" Indeed, as more lights were put on, the sight of charred silhouettes of where people had been standing as the burning radioactive event happened was revealed on the walls and floor. Some of the bodies showed they had crawled away for a time after the blast.

All that mattered was that there were no survivors.

But there were records.

Unlike the other base attacks, this one had held out for fractionally longer, the fighters and defence frigates being decimated by the Alliance fleet, long enough to record a scan of the attacking fleet, and store the data in a secure quantum bluebox underground.

The scans revealed all, the cruisers of newer, more advanced design, but most if not all importantly, the Dreadnought. A vessel of immense size, power, and intimidation. Only one vessel of its equivalent had ever been seen in the war, and that was now gone, destroyed in an apparent sabotage attempt by a defecting member of the KI branch. These dreadnoughts were worse though, for unlike the Emancipator, which had claimed only a few dozen kills when it demonstrated its weapons on Mars over 1 and a half years ago, these had not only improved systems, but had actively used them on three occasions now, killing thousands in a few days.

22nd May 2901

Ra'kani system, planet Azakal orbit.

Aboard the Dawnbreaker, in a conference with the Liberator orbiting alongside it, and its accompanying fleet of its 2 personal cruisers, the Subjugator included, and its 2 personal destroyers, the talks had been initially concerning recent plans for a massive jailbreak of prisoners of war in the UIP, finding individuals with influence who could help the war effort, and staging uprisings in the facilities to get them out safely. Then, news of the Dreadnought attacks, by contacts within the Underworld Guild and old military links, reached them. Now, the conference was set in a different tone.

"I never thought that my brother and Rho'kis would go this far. These base attacks by these new ships have already killed thousands of UIP, and that's leading the UIP to rally their fleets to defend, and prepare to counterattack." Said Shak'rii, her tone one of disbelief.

"The Dreadnought programme being continued would explain the suddenly worsened situation on many worlds, it explains where a significant portion of the tax money goes to from the worsening colonies and city worlds." Reported Lexa. She, Xale, Azula and Ja'hail were overseeing a rallying operation on multiple alliance colonies, and currently convened with the Dawnbreaker's communications room via holographic interface.

"That class of ship was dangerous enough before these updates. I was in command of the Emancipator when it hit Mars. If the full power of any of these vessels were unleashed upon a UIP fleet or planet, the loss of life, even those of UIP people, would be unacceptable on any level." Said Norstith, reporting on the Dawnbreaker himself.

"We'll get into contact with some Alliance navy and Underworld Guild contacts we've amassed. If we can, conflict with these vessels should be avoided at all costs, but we'll need a strategy to destroy or damage the dreadnoughts if we should encounter them." Reported La'kias, addressing from one side of the Combat display interface aboard the Dawnbreaker.

"Let's leave this, but keep the message out that the dreadnoughts are a high priority to any NKI member." Sha'krii reinforced. Calming from the terrible news, they reviewed the plan for a potential big break. A meeting with a Kro'nogri underworld guild representative, concerning a rogue fellow ranking member, on a hub world. The world in question was Kuhalra, in the Vra'nam system. The planet hosted a population of roughly 32 million, most of which was concentrated in the planet's only large city, Nal'harran. The system was an old, developed colonial world, originally a Kro'nogri colony over 200 years old, it was a transit hub world, capitalizing in trade and entertainment. It was also under NKI control, the only major world that actually saw a defection to the NKI faction over the Alliance. With that world, the others along that FTL travel corridor were under heavy NKI influence and grip.

What was more, this Underworld Guild agent reported that among the rogue agent's forces were his contacts, who were working discretely to try and bring the agent down. If they could bring him down, the subordinates could provide useful intel, intel that the rogue agent tried to go into business alone with by selling them as his first big sale. All they knew was that it concerned the rather vague plans for a series of jailbreaks in UIP and Alliance prisoner of war facilities, mainly the UIP ones.

Kill the rogue agent, and plans for a raid on a few UIP prisoner of war facilities could work. With the freedom of a few hundred individuals, many holding influence in the Alliance, the NKI would gain considerable assets. Simultaneously, the raiding of Alliance prisoner of war camps would gain favour with the UIP, and incite rioting and anarchy on Alliance worlds.

All they need do was bide their time, continue standard operation of sabotage, demonstrations, and raids on Alliance facilities. Only when the rogue agent contacts reported to the Underworld Guild loyal agent, and then reported to them, could they begin this next stage.

Until then, the raids of the dreadnoughts would continue, and for now, the NKI was helpless to stop them. They could all only collectively hope that the casualties were at a minimum, and that the dreadnoughts did not focus on them at any point. Lay low, continue to fight, but not enough to incite a response by a dreadnought attack.

All Sha'krii could think was that she hoped those two ambassadors responsible for inciting this war so many years before were regretting their actions. She also hoped they were still alive, so she could deal with them as she saw fit one day, for ruining her life, and for turning the Alliance into a military monster, slowly killing itself.

Finally, end of this story. Please review, I need feedback.

Also, the next installment will be called Dark Hunter's resolution, so keep an eye out for when I publish it. Will be a while though, I want to write a handful of chapters before publishing it and then continually updating.