Roleplay - The Invaders Attack:
Written by various players.
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Chapter 20: Healthy Hostility


The view screen cleared, and started to show uncharted planets with a beautiful nebula on the background, diffusing the light emanating from the dual-star, which formed the middle point of the system.

Howard stood, not one muscle in his being moved. He seemed to wait for something.

Minutes passed, and not one hair on Howard's beard moved. Not one of his Officers dared to ask the purpose of this visit into uncharted territory on the eve of one of the most destructive wars their Galaxy would ever witness.

It was over an hour before the deafening silence on the bridge was broken by the sound of an incoming transmission. Its origin was unknown, and the whereabouts of the sender proved to be even more puzzling to track down. As the crew was taken by surprise by the sudden incoming transmission, it did not seem to have much effect on the President other then that it seemed to amuse him.

As if he was a statue that suddenly had come to life, Howard started to move, his eyes twinkling. One small gesture with his left hand indicated that the Communications Officer was to open the channel.

The view of the system faded and was replaced by a familiar face.

"My nose was right! That stench is you. What brings my favourite Plexxan here?" The words of the Invader were drenched in hatred and mockery. His voice was powerful and commanding, yet nothing compared to his opponents. The voice of the giant Invader on the view screen was dark and dramatic; by lack of other words: evil.

While the words rolled over the bridge, invading the serenity and silence normally so characteristic for the bridge on Howard's ship, its Captain stood motionless and stared to the screen.

Moments passed, and the expression on his face changed slowly. He smiled. The crew was puzzled and somewhat amused by this. However, this had a completely opposite effect on the Invader on the other side of the channel, for he grew agitated, and once more demanded to know why the Paladin-class starship was here.

This time Howard answered. His voice was soft and gravely, but his words forced their way through the communications system like a giant storm, leaving nothing untouched in its path: "Just enjoying the view, taking a few snapshots, some scientific scans. I'm exploring, that is all."

Just before the Invader could respond he added: "Exploring, Dylan." Although his voice was still soft, his words seemed to take Bob Dylan by surprise, so much that the seemed to be without words.

Not for long though, because soon his response came: "Exploring? Is this the Plexxan way of exploring? Weapons charged and shields raised while entering a peaceful system, owned by a peaceful people!" An annoying sound followed, one that seemed to attempt to resemble the mocking laughter of the classic villain found in ancient Terran literature. Dylan was laughing at the Captain, which resulted in the Plexxan tactical officer waiting for the order to open fire; yet that refused to come to invade his ears.

The old President smiled: the game had started.

"Yes indeed Dylan. Yes indeed." There was an unmistakable demeaning undertone in Howard's voice. The result seemed to be that the Invader only got more agitated.

"And this is the way you welcome old friends? Cowering in the shadows, hiding behind your precious but inadequate cloaking device?" Before the giant Invader on the screen could respond, he continued: "Yes Dylan, I know exactly where you are. Tell me, why use that overrated Mothership of yours? Don't tell me you are afraid of little old Plexxan me?"

What in the name of Balkuth was Howard doing? Why was he making this Invader warlord only more angry then he already was? As he witnessed the two insulting each other, embarrassing each other in front of their crews. What purpose did this have?

Then it hit him. Both of them wanted the other one to star the inevitable battle that was to follow at some point. All the sudden, he also understood why his Captain had waited for all that time before… He… (the poor Plexxan was even too afraid to think the Invaders name) had hailed the Bloodred Death. It was part of this all: the Invader had shown weakness by his willingness to find out, his impatience, no even his obsession with having to know why they had entered what was clearly his territory. Howard had the advantage here. A slight smile appeared on the face of the First Officer, now that all seemed to becoming clear to him, and he realized that he had just started to respect his superior even more.

Almost endlessly Howard and Bob seemed to continue, angering each other, trying to make the other make that one fatal mistake: starting the actual battle by firing his weapons at the other ship.

At some point, Dylan seemed to calm down just for a moment. Howard knew enough and kicked a little portable data console containing a heavily encrypted message towards his Communications Officer, just out of sight of the Invader. The message was rapidly sent according to the few instructions that came with it, and then Bob spoke: "Tell me one thing Howard, and you damn well tell me the truth! How did you know my position and how did you know what ship is mine?"

Calmly, as if nothing had happened Howard slowly answered: "I believe there is an old Terran saying that applies here." "Excuse me Plexxan?" "A little bluebird told little old me of your position, oh great and mighty Invader."

Howard couldn't have made that sound more condescending even if he had tried. The answer came: "Tell that little bluebird of yours it won't be talking to you much more Johnny-boy!" As Bob Dylan's maniacal laughter sounded, the channel was closed, and once again the Plexxan crew was looking at the view of the still unknown system.

Howard's voice rumbled over the bridge: "Battle stations!" and within the blink of an eye Bloodred Death faced a ship nearly two times its own massive size: Dylan had decloaked and was charging his shields and astonishing amount of weapons.

"Target those shield generators before those shields get online!!" "Fire!" Howard's voice was all-present on the bridge: he was in his element now.

The Tactical Officer complied and fired the Missile Launchers, targeting the several shield generators.

Small flashes of light erupted from the missile tubes on the outer hull of the ship, at the same time sending missiles towards their targets at mind-boggling speed.

The time of tricks and games had ended: the two sworn enemies would finally face each other after all these years and faith was to decide which of the two warriors was to survive.

Moments later, the missiles hit, shattering their outer shell against the hull of the Mothership. Subsequently the explosive charges were detonated, completely tearing the shield generators to shrapnel. The explosions caused massive damage, wrecking the hull around the used-to-be shield generators. The massive amount of shrapnel contributed to the damage to the ship, cause of its high velocity, what made it smash into the rest of the hull, here and there creating small holes into the outer hull.

By the time the shield generators were hit, the next full salvo was fired from the Paladin. A rain of coloured rays, missiles and balls of lightning rained down upon the Mothership, slashing its hull, causing explosions all over.

By this time Bob's weapons had been charged, locked and he too opened fire. Suddenly space seemed to light up as if it were daylight on Alanda. Bloodred Death's shields were being bombarded, but held up strong and mighty. The crew realized now why Howard had ordered such a huge refit before he left on this mission.

The battle raged, Bloodred Death - taking advantage of its smaller size and its relatively larger manoeuvrability - seemed to dance around its prey, teasing, tearing into its massive hull bit by bit with missiles and the large amount of beam-based weaponry the Paladin possessed since the last refit.

From the nearby planet the battle could be seen, not in great detail, but it was visible nonetheless. Witch each round fired from either ship the planets atmosphere lit up as if a rainbow draped its sheer beauty over the entire sky.

Coloured bursts of concentrated energy erupted and dissipated, and at times they even collided, creating a chaotic view of nearly the entire visual spectrum as man is able to witness it through his eyes.

Both ships took serous damage. Howard received damage reports almost by the dozens: his trusted old partner in crime was in over her head: slowly but surely Bobs ship was gaining the upper hand.

While Howard was manoeuvring his ship, and ordering his guns all over the ship, he closely monitored the hull of his target. Suddenly, he noticed a huge crater. Quick scans revealed that it reached deep down into the ship. "Full spread of missiles!! These coordinates!!" he ordered while he transmitted the coordinates to his Tactical Officer, who fired the missiles at once.

Damage reports kept pouring in: "Life support systems just went down on Deck Fifteen Section Alpha, Delta and Epsilon Sir!! Crew is being evacuated."

"Hull breach just above Launch bay Three!! Decompression cannot be halted!" The bridge crew was yelling and screaming, reporting all at once. On the view screen the status of the enemy was shown, at least for now, because the sensors weren't working at full capacity anymore either.

The Invader Mothership had taken extensive damage to its outer hull, several of its key weapon systems were offline or inoperable, and it seemed one of the engines was failing.

Howard gave the hilts of his swords a strong tug, making sure they were secured, and strapped his walking cane to his back. Then he took out his pistols out of their holsters, checked the ammo: 20 shots in each, and the power level of the batteries which turned out to be fully loaded. One nod to his First Officer was enough: the second man in command now was the ruler of Howard's little kingdom: the bridge. Then the signal was given, and a bright light erupted out of nowhere on the exact position where the President had stood, while the First Officer was commanding the ship and issuing orders for evasive manoeuvres in order to evade several incoming torpedoes. "Good luck old man" the First Officer thought to himself, and requested another damage report.

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