See You, Space Spikard -- Part 2

MLoader: The hyperspace jump goes quickly. You warp into the system, and the target monitor goes crazy. Over 20 Heavy Cruisers, 60 Frigates, and hundreds of fighters are attacking the UE forces off Saalia. The UE is getting the worst of it, and even though you see bands of human renegades assisting, look like they're doomed.

Demetrius whistles.

-*Demetrius* There an obvious-looking Voinian Command Ship?

-*Demetrius* And are the Voinians the type to become idiots if their head is cut off?

MLoader: The City of Trier enters the system at almost the same time you do, hits the manuevering afterburner hard, and starts dogging a Heavy cruiser like a rabid wolf after a moose.

--> DemetriusYou?'d have to observe, and they fight worse without central instruction, yes.

Demetrius: "I was hoping to avoid this, but launch our fighters. Move to support the Trier; Bonfleur doesn't seem the type to fight in a group, but it's better than nothing.

MLoader: The fighters launch. The Radiant and the City of Trier together vaporize the cruiser quickly, although the sheer staying power of it under your kind of fire impresses you.

-*Demetrius* Let me know ifI can isolate any command ships orotherwise important weak points in the Voinian fleet.

MLoader: A Voinian detachment is hunting you now. The City of Trier goes to afterburner again, launching SAD torpedoes into a frigate that doesn't get out of the way quickly enough.

Demetrius cordiantes with Bonfleur (or tries to, at least) to most effectively use their ships together.

MLoader: The Radiant starts taking heavy fire, and a salvo of concussion rockets sends the ship tumbling. Cupio pushes Nelson out of the chair, swears repeatedly, and takes over.

--> DemetriusYou?'ve spotted the command ship.

Demetrius flips open the comm system. "Hey, Bonfleur. You want to help me chop the head off this dog?" He sends over some specs. "I could use some cover while I wax this bastard."

Devan hmmms, heading over to the weapon system to watch what's being done.

MLoader: "Will cover," Bonfleur says. A horde of powder-blue ships, Turncoat-class cruisers and Krait fighters along with a Helian fast attack ship or five, form up on your rear. "We're with ye, mate!" one of them hails over the comm. "Save Saalia, or all that is holy and good is lost!" "Yeah!" another chimes in. "You can't get Saalian Brandy nowhere else!"

MLoader: Devan takes over the weapon panel.

-*Demetrius* Lets' go down on the Command Ship with the Big Gun. ^_^

-*Devan* Wonder how much better warfare's become? Let's see...

Demetrius leans back in his chair. "One shot, Ser Devan."

Demetrius: "I like my kills clean." *And dramatic.*

MLoader: The Radiant tears through the main body of the Voinian fleet, horde of renegades following in its wake picking off fighters. A battle group angles in at you, but is balked by an insane strafing run by the City of Trier. Devan picks off Voinian craft with an accuracy that makes Barrington look slow.

MLoader: You angle in on the command ship. The main gun fires. The ship vaporizes. A cheer goes up, and the Voinians suddenly become a lot less coordinated. The UE presses the attack, and soon it becomes clear that the Voinians are losing.

Demetrius steeples his fingers and lightly taps the tips together. "Excellent."

Demetrius: "We've still got a couple charges left in the gun, Ser Devan. Feel free to indulge yourself."

-*Devan* Let's see if I can show off for fun with bank shots if these things can do that.

MLoader: What few Voinian ships remain pull away from the system and start warping out. Devan angles a few bank shots off wrecks, showing off and blowing fighters to bits.

MLoader: Before long, only allied ships remain in the system. The Battle of Saalia is over.

Demetrius stands down the ship. "Excellent work, men. EXCELLENT work."

Devan: "That was fun." He stands up, cracking his knuckles. "I've gotta play with weapons more."

MLoader: A UE carrier hails you, asking permission to send over a shuttle.

Demetrius: "Granted."

MLoader: It docks, and a man in a UE Admiral's uniform steps out. "I don't know who you people are, but you and Bonfleur saved Saalia. You have the gratitude of the United Earth Republic, and I'm sure a hefty reward can be arranged."

Devan doesn't seem too impressed by the idea of a reward, but leaves it to Demetrius.

Demetrius bows formally. "The Dread Pirate Demetrius. But not the one the bounties on. I'm not from around here."

MLoader: The admiral shrugs. "Well, you and the renegades all earned pardons by participating in the battle, so it's no matter to me. With the way the war is going lately, we need every ship we can."

Demetrius: "If it's a reward you want to give me, you could perhaps help with some information."

MLoader: "Name it."

Devan decides to step in and introduce himself. "I'm not a renegade, actually. This man's under my command, but information, as he says, is wanted. Do you have any news on anyone from Amber?"

MLoader: "Amber? Is that a system or a planet?"

Demetrius nods. "we're looking for a woman, and a ring." produces a picture of Fiona and a drawing of a Spikard. "The woman is Fiona of Amber, and the ring is called a Spikard."

Devan hmmms. "You might want to include Gerard's picture, just in case."

MLoader: The admiral looks at it careful. "How curious. So are a lot of other people, and we don't know why."

Demetrius: "There's a contest on," Demetrius says. "The ring is valuable where we come from."

Demetrius: "Who else has come looking, anyway?"

MLoader: "All three strand factions and the Voinians. They have orders to find it at all costs. In addition, we've found a shadow group looking for it... we don't know who they're working for."

Devan: "... A shadow group?Can you describe them?"

MLoader: "All different races, professionals."

Demetrius: "Do they have a name?"

MLoader: "Not that we know of."

MLoader: "We'd thought about hiring Bonfleur to find it ourselves, but..." The admiral sighs. "He still hasn't found the rubber chicken."

Demetrius nods. "Well, Admiral, it looks like you've got your own set of professionals allied with you. For the moment, anyway." He grins. "If it'sa reward you want to give us, I don't need alot of cash, but I would be partial to a hanger full of Red Barons."

MLoader: "They're yours."

Devan: "Hey, you have any idea where those other people are looking for both Fiona and the spikard?"

Demetrius nods. "And if you're interested in joining the Spikard Hunt, I'm sure we can work with your intelligence services."

MLoader: "They're combing the entire galaxy. We're already looking for it, though we haven't found it yet. We're too tied up with trying to defend ourselves... I'm afraid this new leader the Voinians have is a strategic genius."

Devan: "Hmmm... do you have pictures of him or something?"

MLoader: "I'm afraid not. There's a rumor that he isn't actually a Voinian, but that can't be confirmed and isn't very likely, considering how xenophobic and bigoted the Voinians are."

Demetrius: "mind control," Demetrius says absently. Then he glances at the Admiral. "Ah, someofthe folks competing to find it have extremely well-developed Psionic skills."

Demetrius: "They're rather common where we come from."

MLoader: "I see," the Admiral says dubiously.

-*Demetrius* Can I catch the Admirals eye and... i don't want to invade his mind,just make it really, really clear Icould cursh it like a bug if i wanted to?

--> DemetriusSure?.

Demetrius looks at the Admiral with a glint in his eye.

-*Demetrius* Bing.

MLoader: The admiral blanches, and looks a lot more convinced,

Devan hmmms, before looking at Demetrius. He's not trying what I think he is, is he?

Demetrius: "And I'm pretty _bad_ at this too, Admiral."

Demetrius: "Comparatively speaking."

MLoader: "I see. This might explain a lot, including the strange behavior of the Strands."

Demetrius nods. "It might indeed." He straightens his coat. "Well, if that will be all, I need to see about standing down my ship. You can send over those fighters whenever."

Demetrius: "Oh, and I've got a hold of Voinian War Materiel I'll gladly sell to Saalia at well below cost."

MLoader: "We'll have them shipped up as soon as they come off the line. And we'll be happy to buy it."

MLoader: He salutes, and reboards his shuttle.

Demetrius watches him go. "Seemes like a competent man."

Devan: "Think Gerard's involved too?"

Demetrius: "I am _incredibly_ convinced Gerard is involved."

Demetrius: "I wouldn't be surprised to run into the Ravager Beast, either."

MLoader: You orbit Saalia for a while as you wait for the fighters to be shipped up. News comes in, mostly about Saalia, but...

Demetrius: But?

MLoader: Also that the Azdgari and the Igadzra have formed an alliance and are whaling on the Zidagar, which has the rest of the galaxy stunned.

-*Devan* Ravager Beast aka Gideon, ne? c.c

--> DevanYup?.

Demetrius scratches his head. "Is it just me, gentlemen, or does it seem like our fellow contestants have all seized control of a government?"

-*Devan* ... But we just left Gideon. I don't see... Apparently Demmy doesn't know, does he?

--> DevanDinna? ask me. :)

Devan: "... Looks like it,but... Fiona, and Gerard can't possibly take control of ... how many governments is that already?"

MLoader: "Yeah, looks like it," Cupio says. "I feel so left out an shit."

Demetrius: "Three. The UE, the Zidagar, and the MEC seem left-alone for the moment."

MLoader: The fighters are shipped up via a cargo craft.

Demetrius: "Hey, Cupio," Demetrius says absently, forgetting the honorific for the first time in awhile, "Did you get yourhands on a complete invitation list?"

MLoader: "Nah, just Fi." He scratches his head. "Oh, and Dalt the Amber Renegade broke jail recently, so he may be here. Man, I'd love to mess his fucking face up."

Devan: "Dalt... Hm. That'd account for three, wouldn't it?"

Demetrius: "Dalt's the 'just won't die' guy, right?"

MLoader: "Yeah, that's him."

Demetrius: "Hmmm." Demetrius snaps his fingers and points to a yeaoman. "You, bring us all the reports from all the war fronts."

MLoader: He does. Whatcha looking for?

Demetrius: "It'll be hard to tell who's where based on ability, because i bet even Fiona outclasses these yahoos by a wide margin, but maybe we can establish an order."

Demetrius: "Y'know, which new government is better than the OTHER new government."

Devan: "You think Fiona's better than Gerard or Dalt?"

MLoader: A thorough review by you and Cupio and Devan establishes that whoever is running the Voinians is a friggin' genius. Whoever is running the Azdgari and Igadzra are pretty good, and the Zidagar seem to be doing better than you'd expect for being doubleteamed.

Demetrius: "No. By 'yahoos' I meant the shadowfolk who live here."

MLoader: The UE is getting creamed, and the Miranu aren't at war with anyone but renegade bands.

Devan hmms. "So Voinians, Azdgari, and Igadzra, eh?"

-*Demetrius* Do i think I personally could do a better or worse job than any/all of those three?

Demetrius: "Looks like it."

Demetrius: "I'm sorely tempted to throw in with the UE, but we have to stay mobile. It'sour only advantage."

--> DemetriusWhoever?'s leading the Voinians would spank you hard. The others you think you could take.

Devan: "Right. YOu think Fiona's most likely to be with the Voinians?"

MLoader: Incoming message from the City of Trier.

Demetrius picks up. "That you, Bonfleur?"

MLoader: "Yup. Found it. Want to fly support? You get the loot, I get the chicken."

Demetrius looks at Cupio and Devan and raises an eyebrow. "Gentlemen?"

Devan: "You got it, Daddy-o."

MLoader: Cupio shrugs. "This guys a fuckin' wacko, but I think he's an inspired one. Sure."

Demetrius: "Count us in, Bonfleur. Send over the coordinates, we'll follow your wake."

MLoader: He sends you the coordinates for Freeport, in the Riomor system in extreme south UE space. "We're after a ship. The Nadir. Custom rigged Turncoat-class carrier. Don't vape it, we need it intact."

Devan: "Right. So y'want me to take out the thrusters?"

MLoader: "Sure thing. Disable her. Better yet, keep his fleet off my backs and I'll disable her."

Demetrius: "Don't worry, I've had experience boarding." He looks at Devan. "You want guns again?"

Devan: "Sure, why not? Need the practice."

MLoader: Coordinates are entered in, and the ships start moving along hyperspace jump routes towards Freeport.... midway there...

Demetrius nods. "Just make sure you let Barrington help. He needs the experience."

MLoader: "HOLA, AMIGOS! Welcome to BIG SHOT, the show for bounty hunters!"

Devan nods.

Demetrius seriosuly contemplates shooting out the viewscreen.

Devan: "Why the heck don;t you just filter that show out?"

Demetrius: "Because it's too damn informative." Demetrius watches.

MLoader: "Today's update on that infamous renegade, the Dread Pirate Demetrius! He's now wanted for raiding an unarmed supply convoy by the Voinians! they're willing to pay... 60 million credits!" "WHAT? BULLSH... I mean, what, really? That's a lot!" "I know! This guy must be scary if even nasty folk like the Voinians want him!"

Demetrius stares. "I wonder where they broadcast from."

MLoader: "And just as a side note, the bounty on the infamous renegade Draxson and his ship, the Nadir, is now one million credits. Peanuts compared to Demetrius, though. Good luck, you bounty hunters!" "Good luck! Bye bye!"

MLoader: Show ends.

Devan: "Man... ten times more, and you'll come within shouting distance of the Ravager Beast.

Demetrius: "Y'know... I can't help but wonder if somebody'spaying of the Fruit and the Tart." He chuckles at Devan's comment. "Yeah, thatll be the day."

MLoader: "We're about to enter the Riomor System, sir."

Demetrius: "Excellent. Prep the new fighters for launch." Demetrius turns to T and Vaprak. "And prep boarding parties. HAve fun breaking in the promotion, you two."

MLoader: You emerge into a firefight. Powder-blue renegade vessels are swarming everywhere, fighting off a mixed group of bounty hunters, Azdgari warships, and Zidara cruisers.

MLoader: It looks like a free for all.

Demetrius: "Dammit."

Devan: Target the ships of the ones against us, primarily.

Demetrius: "Nelson, not to impugn your abilities, but give the 'freaking helm to Cupio." He slaps the comms. "Hey, Bonfleur, which ones the Nadir?"

MLoader: All of the bounty hunters suddenly change course and start bearing in on you. Bonfleur doesn't answer, but you can see him zooming towards a Turncoat at full afterburner.

Devan: "Fire at will now, eh?" rhetorically.

Demetrius: "Right. All fighters, launch. Ser Devan, keep those bounty hunters off our back. Prince Cupio, close to baord with that Turncoat."

MLoader: Devan starts wasting bounty hunters. Cupio is weaving the ship in mad arcs. The City of Trier and the Nadir are locked in a duel, two twinkishly maxed-out ships with crazed captains. You start closing on it.

MLoader: Then the Zachit warfleet of some 200 Aradas comes out of warp.

-*Demetrius* Mike, how much bigger than the Turncoat are we?

-*Demetrius* If at all.

--> DemetriusYou?'re about twice its size.

-*Demetrius* So ifwe shot out it's engines and grappeld onto it, we could take it with us, couldn't we?

MLoader: Cupio swears and pulls away as multiple seeking weapons lock onto the ship. "Fucking Zachit!"

Devan: "... Terrific."

-*Devan* Switch to trying to take out weapons that're locking on us when possible in between zapping enemy ships.

--> DemetriusI?'d be cumbersome, and you couldn't go to hyperspace, but you could, yeah.

-*Demetrius* What about warp?

MLoader: Devan starts blasting away incoming missiles.

--> Demetriuswarp = hyperspace.

-*Demetrius* Would we be faster than these things lugging it along with us?

--> DemetriusNope?. Aradas are built for speed.

-*Demetrius* Damn.

-*Demetrius* Does Demetrius,who knows way more aboutthis than I do, seeanyway to both get theNadir and/or what's on it, and get out of this alive?

-*Demetrius* Or are we a match for the Zachit?

MLoader: The Nadir's engines are blown away, and it starts to drift.

--> DemetriusYou? can't fight every single Zachit and the bounty hunters. You can keep them budsy for a while.

-*Demetrius* Long enough to board?

-*Demetrius* And if we were grappledonto the Nadir, it could be sued as ashield, right?

--> DemetriusIf? you slow to board, you'll be sitting ducks. You could use it as a shield, but then it might explode if it takes fire.

-*Demetrius* So what are my options?!?

--> DemetriusFind? a way to board it that doesn't involve doocking with it, or let Bonfleur do the boarding.

-*Demetrius* ... the sloops!

--> DemetriusYes?, like the sloops.

Demetrius: "New plan, everybody." He flips open the comm. "T, Vaprak, get the men in the sloops and go board the Nadir. Bonfleur, you wanna help us cover them?"

MLoader: Bonfleur's ship pulls away and starts running interference, blasting bounty hunters.

MLoader: T, Vaprak, and their boarding parties take off and dock. Aradas explode in droves as Devan returns fire and Cupio weaves, but your shields are weakening bbadly.

Demetrius lets Cupio and Devan do their things while he starts micromanaging the Red Barons to help keep the heat off.

Demetrius: "Devan, if you have any fun Logrus Tricks that still work, now'd be a good time..."

MLoader: Incoming signal from the Nadir.

-*Devan* Logrus sight for weaknesses I can exploit.

Demetrius pulls up the screen.

--> DevanNothing? out of the ordinary; they're just spaceships... except... something was on the Nadir at one point. It has a residue of some sort of power.

MLoader: "VAPRAK HUNGERS!"

-*Devan* Hmmm... that's odd. Is it gone now?

Demetrius buh-links.

Devan: "... One of these days, Demmy, you gotta tell me who these enemies of yours are."

MLoader: T moves onto the screen, and looms in such a way as to indicate that the captain of the ship sold the rubber chicken to a human merchant heading towards Terapin Station in the Terapin system.

Demetrius: "Anything else to-no, you can report when you get back. Move it."

MLoader: You hear Bonfluer's howl of rage.

--> DevanNothing? there now, nope.

Demetrius: "Prince Cupio, run us up for hyperspace. Swing by the Nadir so we can recover the sloops."

MLoader: You swing along, and the sloops board. The lead Azdgari warship hails you.

Demetrius: "What the hell, I've got a free thirty seconds. Onscreen."

MLoader: "Hello, I was wondering if..." Pause. "SHIT, LOKI! FRY THAT BITCH!" Transmission ceases, and the Azdgari Warships turn to open fire on you, the birdlike Azdara fighters strafing you with ease.

-*Demetrius* Let meguess; they saud that as soon as they looked at Bogdozan.

--> DemetriusBing?.

Demetrius eyes Bogdozan. "We really have to talk about Mystara sometime."

Demetrius: "Get us out of here!"

MLoader: The ship shudders. You jump to hyperspace seconds before the shiekds fail, following Bonfleur.

Demetrius: Any significant damage besides overcooked shield generators?

MLoader: Nope.

Demetrius: Suh-weet.

MLoader: Bonfleur hails you. "Going to Terapin. The chicken is mine." Twitch. Twitch. Twitch.

Devan: "Congratulations."

Demetrius nods. "Via Molos, DSN-7903, Stror, then sneaking through Vastan?"

MLoader: "This time I'll get it for sure." Twitch.

MLoader: "Yeah."

Devan: OOC: *yawns wearily* Warning, Will Robinson, warning.

MLoader: Translation?

Demetrius: Lets do Terrapin, andif we still got nothing, call it a night.

Devan: ooc: It's 1:40 am. @.@

MLoader: Well, it's up to y'all. If you're ready to conk out, Daav, that's cool.

Devan: ooc: can make it thru, I think, what's Terrapin? c.c

Demetrius: It's a spacestation in Zidagar space.

MLoader: The system they're heading towards. It might take a while.

Devan: ooc : It feels too easy so far, oddly. o.o

Demetrius: ooc:Easy!?!?

MLoader: As you travel, news starts coming in...

Devan: ooc: Yes. I feel like there's a huge huge huge huge second shoe ready to drop.

MLoader: The UE lost a critical set of battles, and Verril and Tulir fell to the Voinians.

Demetrius: ooc: Well, all we can do is followthe trail.

Devan: ooc It feels too convenient, really... following a damn trail? With a suprememe leader like that? How do we know she's not just baiting the mousetrap for us to nibble on like good little mice?

Demetrius: Ouch. is Sol under siege yet?

MLoader: Earth was getting ready for the last stand, and then the impossible happened.

MLoader: The Emalgha erupted from their home system like rabid rats and took five Voinian systems.

Demetrius: Isled, Romit, Iridion, Niot, and DSN-1156?

MLoader: The Voinian offensive has halted while they frantically try to fight off the Emalghian onslaught. Which has everyone just ...ing. Yup.

Demetrius: Well, son of a bitch. I wonder what godlike NPC took the Emalghans as a challenge.

MLoader: From what you know of the Emalghians and their track record and tech and resources, it's impossible.

MLoader: I mean, they fly wooden ships.

Devan: Obviously it's not impossible, given it's been done.

Demetrius fiddles with his sword. "Let's see.... Angus? Benedict? Bleys? Trucido?"

Demetrius: "Who's just _that_good?"

Demetrius: "Juri is back now, but..."

-*Devan* What do I know?

-*Devan* Which one hasn't been accounted for, OTHER than Trucido?

--> DevanYou? know Angus might be able to do it, but he's supposedly off somewhere. Ditto with Trucido, and you don't think Trucido's this good with strategy on a grand scale. You don't know wghere Angus, Benedict, or Bleys might be.

-*Devan* Other candidates besides the one he mentioned?

--> DevanCorwin?, mebbe.

MLoader: Cupio thinks. "Dunno. Juri ain't that good, not last time I fought her."

Devan thinks. "What about Corwin?"

Demetrius nods. "And I can't see her being invited anyway. Unless she crashed."

MLoader: "Huh. Maybe. He's supposed to be pretty good."

Demetrius: "I have a sneaking suspicion we're after the Ravager Beast's spikard, which means there might be all kinds of other goodies here as well."

Demetrius: "Like Eternity's Rose."

Devan frowns for a moment.

Demetrius: "We'll find out eventually, I guess. If nothing else, whatever's blocking our powers might stop."

-*Devan* Hm. Test tendril again at best discrete moment.

--> DevanStill? ain't working.

Devan: "OKay."

Devan: (OOC: And now I need... termination. @>@)

On to Part 3!