Leaping Blade breathed out, staring at the sudden protrusions upon the black hole below. As they watched, each column- a long hexagonal prism, many millions of miles in length- pulled itself free and drifted outwards into space. They began to spit small diamonds of flame, which hovered for a moment, intense, and then shot away. It was a dance of the fireflies against the starry sky above and the accretion disc below- red, orange, and blue shone and then disappeared, heading out into a new universe.
The columns themselves turned and entered the accretion disc, lying horizontally relative to the swirling mass, and an immediate change was visible. Around them the matter began to gravitate to the long prisms, entering them and leaving large oval-shaped holes in the medium. The constructs grew as they absorbed material, elongating and thickening, and each end of their previously jet-black surfaces began to glow- one red, and one blue. The two hexagonal ends gave way, retracting into the sides, and each column was left as six long rectangles, still staying together in the same formation but now with spaces between them.
And then they rose, the disc below exhausted. The starbase began to shake, just for a moment, and then the view in the window became even more captivating for the watching survivors- the relativistic jets from the black hole began to sputter, diverted off course into a spiral. It was like looking up into a tornado of light, as the shining particles were slowly dragged down towards the hungry, waiting columns. And then they reached them, and were consumed, and the black hole was left without its shining lances, revolving slowly and sulkily, hanging alone in space.
The columns spread outwards, and began to attack the stars that orbited the singularity, draining off their plasma in long tendrils of bright hydrogen. The process was quick- soon, the remnants of one were destabilised and began to quiver in preparation for a supernova. At less than a light-minute away, the Starbase would be obliterated.
"Quick, to the Rift!" Kjorn pulled Turros away from Mr. Xal's body and towards the bulkhead, rushing to reach it in time. A red alarm began to flash on the ceilings, accompanied by a loud blare that oscillated from low to high but in both was too uncomfortable to stand.
They filed in, one by one, and Leaping Blade counted them as they passed, having been the first across. He helped Kjorn with the lamenting Zyrothan and then the job was done. "Now, how do you close it?"
Eremos grabbed a lever and pulled it downwards. The rift flashed once and then was gone, the link severed, and the party safe. They looked around at the leaden walls and there were several sighs of relief.
Back in the heart of the Pyrova galaxy, the little torches that the columns had released raced outwards at FTL. Each had its target preset- one went for the Aisva Galaxy, another for Illuminis, another for Voltoriem, and more- and was shooting to them, crossing millions of light years in moments. The call had begun.
Part One: The CallEdit
And the Xenatli torches began to arrive, one by one, flickering and mysterious. They had come to find the greatest fleets in Emenata and assemble them.
In a Ringworld, orbiting around the edge of the Aisva Galaxy, the Aian Ceron named Raesun Kael d'Estre looked out into space. There was no window through all those kilometres of nanodiamond, of course, but cameras outside fed to a display here and the illusion was convincing enough. This also had the advantage of allowing him to see the anomaly first.
It was a strangeness in the stars. He frowned, and looked closer.
One particularly large star seemed to have duplicated itself. Two identical points of light shone at him. They quickly merged back together, but he noticed the effect was further-reaching than that- other stars were splitting and merging, as if there was some moving warp in space.
The comm call confirmed it. "Sir! We're detecting something... weird."
"I can confirm that- there's some major gravitational lensing going on outside the display."
"Yeah, that would fit, sir. Something out there is emitting powerful gravitational waves."
"Gravitational waves? Is there a merging black hole outside, Varrun?"
"We'd have known long ago if there was. This object was approaching at the speed of light, sir. It's a ship."
"What kind of ship emits gravitational waves?"
"None known, sir. It's close enough and slow enough to get a visual now, sir."
"Alright, pull it up."
On the screen, a circle appeared around the anomaly and expanded to fill the whole rectangle. In it, there was a small, bright, diamond-shaped thing, burning like a fire of red, orange, and blue.
"Is it doing anything else other than being impossibly powerful?"
"Well... it just started transmitting a message, sir. By laser."
"Quick, get decryption on it. But flush repeatedly- it could be hostile."
"They're deliberately chosen the easiest method of encoding of all- the pulses can be arranged to form a grid. A picture."
The Xenatli ship on screen was replaced now by a picture of the Viperius Galaxy System. Raesun recognised it easily, and noticed that something was missing.
"Which is the missing galaxy, Varrun?"
"The... Pyrova galaxy, sir. Home to nothing above class VIII."
"Anything else in the message?"
"Yes, sir- another image. It seems to be an overlay."
Over the Viperius Galaxy System appeared a series of lines, connecting some of the galaxies to Pyrova. They were a solid black.
"Which galaxies are those?"
"Illuminis, Aisva, Domoi... all ones containing highly advanced civilisations. There are a few we did not think held any such civilisation, though, and some are coming from Viperius."
"Viperius has no civilisations on our level."
"Indeed, sir. However, the line contains a hidden message, containing the neutrino signature for a dimensional rift from the Undrishuar universe."
"Ah, interuniversal recruiting. I'm tempted. Can you get Tyrius for me?"
"He was alerted as soon as the signal started sending, sir, as per standard protocol. He's on an entanglement channel now."
"Okay. Connect me."
The screen changed again, to the face of the large black Aian who was the head of the High Council. He bore an odd trunk-smile and had a happy glint in his eye, quite out of character compared to his usual stern composure.
"Ceron, we are being called together, with a number of races of our level and above. It seems we're needed." Tyrius' voice was deep and monotone, but possessed a hint of an amused tone.
"Yes, sir." Raesun trunk-smiled. "Who are you going to send?"
"You, and all of your fleet. You're the readiest, by any means, and you have a sizeable fleet going on there. Unless you have an objection, it'd be your fleet and the Ringworld you stand on."
"That seems logical to me, sir. Six hundred and fifty million ships ought to impress."
"Yes. They ought to." Tyrius nodded in thanks to the Ceron, and then the connection was stopped.
Varrun came back on the comm. "The messenger ship just left, sir. Extremely fast- I've never seen such rapid acceleration."
"So what do they want with a poor little class X like us, I wonder? Come on- let's go and make history."
The Almighty Pathmaker, Anklerpt Thoriak, was sitting on his throne-bed as a messenger flew in through the open roof. A dozen thoughts rushed through his head, but he stood up without a second thought and walked to the smaller Bishaurt. Only the most important pieces of information given to him were through a messenger, as it was part of an ancient ritual.
"What is your name, girl?" he asked. "And what do you carry with you?"
"My name does not matter, only what I carry," she replied. "Pathmaker, we have tracked an anomalous object travel through a Dimensional Rift from Viperius. Its properties are that it gives off nearly no electromagnetic radiation and causes massive gravitational lensing, that is how we tracked it. It is also opaque to neutrinos."
The Pathmaker frowned at this. "This is... Exceedingly strange. I have never heard of such an object."
"We have also detected a message from it. We tracked the code, and it formed an image when we placed it into a square grid. It was a picture of the Viperius system in Emenata, with directional lines going towards a single spot. We believe that all of the lines are the direction of a class-X civilisation. This is an artificial object, from an empire much more powerful than anything we've seen before. It is believed that we should follow the line coming from Viperius, to avoid angering them by not attending this gathering of races."
"Yes, I agree. This shall be sent to the Followers at once," he replied to the girl.
"This is what I carry," she said, bowing and passing him the report. "I beg that you use it to smooth the Path."
"And I shall," he replied.
That evening, a message was sent out along the Bishaurt empire, and the ten Tyrant-class ships with the Rift-forming machines left Undrishuar, with their greatest fleets trailing behind them. And as they left, each one entered FTL, and sped off towards the call.
It was detected a few parsecs away from Tozhlocticzon, and the Megaship that had first noticed the anomaly immediately reported it to Space Management. It then carried on its mission, flanked by many other battleships. All of its 5000km bulk glittered in the light from the passing Xenatli torch, and so did the 96km battleships behind.
It was not the only detachment wandering through space. Other groups reported the object as it passed them, too, reading the intense gravitational waves and repeating the measurements they could take. Before it reached the half-formed ringworld around the planet itself, Space Management had sent off a dispatch to the Cahuatlec, and the entire system was on alert. Megaships orbiting Cuehmoc, that star that burnt yellow and large amongst the pinpricks behind it, broke off their circular motion and headed over to form a channel around the approaching object.
Cruisers and battleships darted around them, docking and launching, shifting and crossing, like little insects ignored by the vast megaships below. Several Tuetlex stations trained their catapults on the system and vessels from all around the system began to shoot in.
The torch was not at all fazed by the size and numbers around it, and continued along its course with no speed or directional change.
Nahuatlec Qatlan was on board the ringworld, and watched the various displays as the object approached. There was no signature in radio, ultraviolet, x-rays or gamma, active sensors showed nothing new, and it seemed to be opaque to the more ghostly particles that they attempted to scan it with. However, the Nahuatlec was smiling, because this thing showed the exact properties that the astronomers had said a certain type of object would have. This made him particularly happy because he was an astronomer, though not one of the ones who had published the report.
He sent his suspicions to Qoaxitli, the Imperial Astronomer, by video, and received excited agreement. He also told her to tell the Cahuatlec, and then returned to observing the decelerating object.
He then detected a blue-wavelength laser incident on the ringworld's wall. A communications-type, it seemed. He put decryption on it, and within microseconds, an image appeared.
"Send this to Contact," he said with the patterns in his eyes. The AI acknowledged his request and did so.
He continued to look at the map of the Viperius Galaxy System. Pyrova was missing, and the lines probably indicated desired motion. Knowing the inhabitants of all the galaxies linked, he supposed this was exclusive to the greater civilisations of the galaxy system. However, there were a few going into Viperius, that little galaxy that sat in the centre of the cluster.
A set of eyes from Contact Management appeared. It was a male- Talaq, a Nahuatlec, who had recently returned from governing his colony out on Yenaaqlan. They greeted each other.
"Talaq, what do you make of the Viperius Galaxy's connection?"
"The lines bear hidden pixels, corresponding to the neutrino flux from a rift to Undrishuar. I believe they're going further than just our galaxy system."
"I see they've sent off dispatches to the Aoarus, Ka'Shen, and War Machine. They don't quite know what they're doing, then."
"Indeed. I've contacted the Aians, who have received a similiar message, confirming what the map shows. They're sending a sizeable fleet."
"What does the Cahuatlec say?"
"He'd like us to do the same. He asks if you would do the honour of leading it."
"But of course. Send me the list of what I can take."
The data appeared, and he read through the names of megaships. He recognised a few, and they seemed reputable.
"Looks good. Should I head out now?"
"As soon as possible. Make sure to be completely prepared, though. Show those Aians how a real intergalactic race makes an entrance."
"Oh, I will." He smiled. "Anything else?"
"Nothing. See you once this is done, I guess. And- look after all those poor little class Xs they're gathering. They have a tendency to be... naive."
"The Irihil are coming, too. They should help keep things in order."
"Yeah, they should. Goodbye for now, Qatlan. Good luck."
"Thanks. And don't let the system get invaded while I'm out."
There was a brief laugh and then the connection was stopped.
Qatlan sighed, and glided over to the docking bay. He had been planning to stay near his homeworld, just for a few more months, but things had conspired against him, yet again. Oh well.
A Daa Gigaship floated through space, quite close to the center of the Suudha Galaxy. The Daa marshal in it, Duurhan Surrhun, paced up and down the main galley. Nothing interesting ever happens around here. I'd rather be fighting those annoying Mykarians any day.
A small device attatched to his wrist vibrated, slightly irritating his downy arm. The recieved message was obviously automated, written by a non-sentient computer. 'GO TO BRIDGE.'
He sighed, and entered a capsule in the walls. A dimensional rift opened in it, leading straight to the bridge. He walked through, immediately exiting many kilometers away in the bridge.
"Sir, we've detected massive gravitational waves! Greater than that of our core!" one technician exclaimed.
Duurhan opened up multiple windows on a holographic display, examining statuses. "Is it a black hole or something?"
"Negative, sir. It appears to be a ship! It emits no electromagnetic radiation in nearly all spectrums, and neutrino imaging shows that it's opaque..."
"What kind of ship can create such huge gravitational waves? Is it Laoine?"
"Laoine ships couldn't make a wave that big, sir, as well as the materials..." He scratched his head, but suddenly he perked up his neck-feathers. "Sir! They're transmitting a laser towards the ship! Power one megawatt and beam a continuous four hundred-fifty nanometers. It's not harmful, but instead giving a message. Should we put it through, sir?"
"Yes, put down the particle field. Let's see what they have to say."
Multiple lights were turned off in the room as the laser-stopping field was removed in the area. The laser went through towards the ship, with sensors gleaming at it.
"Image coming through in ten ruul, niner, eight, seven, six, fiver, four, three, two, one... Image through!"
The lights in the room dimmed, and a holographic projection opened in front of them.
All eyes in the room faced it, and an astrologist quickly commented. "Viperius Galaxy System, sir. But what are those lines connecting it?"
Duurhan thought for a moment, coming up with the most probable idea. "Must be a call to arms. We've got nearly a billion vacant ships at the moment here, as well as more than a hundred thousand Gigaships. Pyrova's missing, however. We should take this to the Court. Put us through."
"Right away, sir!" A technician pressed a few buttons. and a council faced them holographically.
A throned individual spoke first. "As the emperor of the Daa, I grant you permission to speak."
"Your Majesty, we have recieved a transmission from what appears to be an interuniversal civilization. A call of arms, perhaps," Duurhan said while bowing.
"Maahr, you can take over from here. I need to co-ordinate some attacks on those Mykarians." The emperor's throne backed up, and a tall, female Daa took over the communications.
Maahr took a scrutinizing look at the Gigaship crew, just before speaking. "What did this transmission include, officer?"
"Only a picture, ma'am. It appears to be a call to arms in the Viperius Galaxy System, while a neutrino flux has been seen, indicating a rift to the recently discovered Undrishuar universe and the Voltoriém microverse. Other intergalactic civilizations have been detected in the transmission, ma'am."
"By the looks of the universal radar, nearly a billion ships are running towards Pyrova currently. We should join in, sir." Maahr pressed a few buttons on a keypad by her.
"I've requested two hundred and fifty-three point two five million ships to join in, as well as seven hundred and three thousand Gigaships to join the battle. Including yours, of course."
Duurhan bowed to the Court member. "Thank you. It appears as if many ships are already here, ma'am. Over and out."
The Daa marshal sighed with glee. "Coordinate the forces towards Pyrova! We're going on a campaign! All hail the Daa Emperor!"
"All hail the Emperor! Hail!"
The millions of ships entered FTL, and flew towards Pyrova.
On Draegen Prime Ignus Charta stood on the balcony of the Citadel, his wife and son slept already, he couldn't find the sleep he needed to lead his race against the onslaught of the remnants of the Vultur Alliance. He was upset, nervous, chills ran down his spine, he knew something on a cosmic scale was happening and kept looking out at the stars. A citadel keeper came running and kneeled behind Ignus waiting for his apporval to speak.
"Your presence means my intuition was correct, you may speak now..." Ignus said with a calm voice, the fact his thoughts were correct pleased him.
"Supreme overlord, our sensors have picked up a vector that is headed towards us at high speeds, by now it should be arriving sho-" the keeper tried to say before he was distracted by a bright light in the sky. It was a dot that changed colours between red, orange and blue. Both Ignus and the keeper were frightened by this sight, thinking that it would attack them any given moment. Soft tremors shook through the Citadel as Imperans in orbit opened fire on the small dot to follow procedures, lights danced in the blank sky as the cannons spew forth their ordnance. But time after time the ordnance never reached the dot, it exploded within a safe distance or was bent into another direction.
"What is that thing? Its colours vary wildly, it is red, but then it is orange and blue!" Ignus mumbled in awe, he was tranced by the colourful nightsky above him. What he did not notice where the small flickers of light coming from the dot, not a minute later another keeper came running towards the pair to see they were still looking at an empty sky, the dot had disappeared.
"My lord, is everything alright?" the keeper asked, Ignus and the keeper snapped out of the trance and were heavily confused of what had happened. The keeper informed Ignus that he was required at the Command Bunker in the Citadel, Taëra Iluma and Frosias Giblet had already arrived.
"Yes, thank you for informing me..." Ignus said as he walked off in a confused state. Once he reached the Command Bunker the present Admirals ordered the guards to leave the room.
"Supreme Overlord," one of the Admirals said as he made the military greet, "as you might've noticed, an anomaly has entered and left our solar system."
"Yes, and might I ask why it was able to enter and leave without raising any alarm? And why was it not shot down!?" Ignus roared.
"Its speed is unimaginable, faster than the Abomination's Void ships. And it used some sort of field to defelct our weaponry, we didn't hit it even once." one of the Admirals shamefully admitted.
"Then I want one of those ships by the end of the week, am I clear?" Ignus demanded, Iluma and Giblet were looking at each other with an 'as if' expression but remained silent. The other Admirals became uneasy and were waiting for someone to bring forth the other news, eventually to Admiral responsible for the Southern Colony Defence took the initiative.
"Sir, about the ship...it wasn't hostile, it was simply relaying a message to us." he said.
"And what was the message?" Ignus demanded to know, he began to grow impatient due to a sleep shortage.
The Admiral clicked several buttons on the console in the middle of the Command Bunker and it began projecting a hologram.
"Emenata, this message was not meant for us." Iluma growled.
"Wrong, look at the lines showing up, they sprout from the place the Abominations call the Pyrova System...it is...missing?" Ignus corrected, "Judging from the cosmological positions one of these lines, the trajectory of the ship, headed to us. You can see it left Emenata from this place which is towards Voltoriém."
"So...what was the message?" Giblet asked, the Admiral of the Inner Colony Defence stood up to answer that question.
"According to the data we captured from the Abominations before they left, all of the galaxies contain advanced civilisations, Aians, Coatzl and many others."
"So what are they doing, organise a tournament?" Ignus asked. After a short laugther they resumed the meeting.
"Supreme lord, there is a slight chance it would've been a tournament but it's more likely they are gathering forces. A call to arms!" The Admiral continued.
"So it is troops they need huh...? This might become interesting...prepare a full mobilisation! All reserve troops are to report immediatly, get me my weapon, ship and fleet. I will lead this force personally!" Ignus roared as he left the room.
The mightiest race of Aurion, the Hegan, had argued for hours upon the choice of action to take. Now, they had decided, and a transmission was sent across their military forces.
"Hegan, from all of Undrishuar. Your Guardian is speaking to you. As many of you already know, we have been hailed by a grand civilisation of untold power. It is unknown what their reason is, but a map was sent to us, all heading in one direction. Information retrieved from the Bishaurt tells us that at least one of these is a fellow class-X civilisation, known as the Aians. They have already left Unrishuar to follow this map. Now, we follow."
Across all of the Empire, Hegan ships with reverse-engineered Rift Machines sped into Emenata. Systems that once had hundreds of Hegan ships were left devoid. Even the most powerful ships, equipped with Planetary Concussers, left Undrishuar space. And they followed the trails of the Bishaurt, to where the Pyrova galaxy had become the centre of the mass exodus.
On the planet Iris, within the enormous and ancient city of Senos, the spiral-shaped Tower of Eyes reaches into the sky. Upon its apex are hundreds of dome-shaped receivers and transmitters, and underneath that a vast computer, constantly ferrying data between the satellites and ships linked to its network, constantly analysing everything they detected and forming a virtual map of the galaxies and everything within them.
A number of detectors around their home system had detected something wrong- powerful gravitational waves, severely disrupting the xaser inteferometers on board. This was unprecedented, and the computer knew it. In a microsecond, it scanned its massive archives for anything like this, and then the positions of all nearby black holes, and then all neutron stars, and then hypervelocity stars- and drew a blank.
This was something new. And new things went directly to the Keeper of the Eyes.
The silver-armoured Irihil was just finishing a drink when the alarm came. She rushed over to the monitor and called up an analysis, scanning through the data as it appeared.
"Call the Viya, computer. Send this to them, and all city Keepers, and all Wardens, and all nearby ships."
"Task completed, Keeper Satha." Its tone was friendly and warm- Satha remembered that she had planned to change it.
"It is approaching Iris at extremely high superluminal speed. It is accompanied with both extreme spatial distortion, but has no UV, X-ray, or radio signature. Infrared detects weak thermal emission from both ends of the object. Visible detects an opaque object glowing red, orange, and blue. Active scans are ineffective."
"It appears to be opaque to neutrinos."
"Impossible." Satha checked the data, scanning through the results. "Well, Day." She gasped.
"It matches no records or even legends from any culture."
"What's it doing, here? Is it hostile? Is it... Tainted?"
"No hint of Tainting has been detected. Such a powerful ship would not have made itself so visible if it were hostile, by this computer's calculation. I suggest waiting for it to send a signal."
"Okay. Tell me if it does."
"I shall keep you- signal received. Laser. Wavelength four hundred and fifty nanometres, distance one million metrons, effective lens radius five metrons- its calculated power is only one megawatt, and its radius on the receiver is 0.055 metrons, to two significant figures."
"Thanks for that, but you can skip it next time."
"What's it saying?"
"It appears to be a visualisation of the Viperius Galaxy System. A second image can be overlaid, and shows lines from each major civilisation in Emenata to the Pyrova Galaxy. Also of note are lines from dimensional rifts to Undrishuar and a line from the Voltoriem Galaxy System."
"They are calling fleets together. I have just contacted the Aians- they seem to have had a similiar call, which would confirm what the map indicates. They are sending a fleet."
"What does the Viya think?"
"They are doing the same."
"Which fleet, and who's in charge?"
"The fleet being sent is the Fourth Shining Offense Fleet. In charge is Lady Serna."
"Well, okay. I guess that's settled then."
"The object has exited the system. It is done."
The Chief Commissioner of the Sovesh Council turned to stare at the intruder. He considered the young Slavnye who stood there- nervous, one hand shaking, holding a dispatch in the other. However, this was not a good day to be bringing messengers into the office.
"You are being inside my office."
The messenger's eyes widened slightly. "Yes, sir."
"In one secrend, you are being outside my office."
"Yes, sir!" The youth scampered out through the open bulkhead. It closed behind him and all the internal security reactivated after he had passed.
The Chief Commissioner called up his secretary on the comms. "You are having sent a messenger inside the office. Explain yourself."
She looked at him a little curiously and then spoke. "He was having an important message. It was being relevant to the Slavnye as a whole."
A map appeared on the display facing the Chief Commissioner. It was a map of the Viperius Galaxy System- though upside-down- except there was a galaxy missing. A large number of lines connected the missing galaxy to many of the others.
One of those lines entered the Domoi Galaxy.
"We are having received this from an unidentified object two-hundred secrends ago, by laser. The Aians and Irihil are having confirmed that they have received similiar messages. It is being believed that this is a call to arms in the Pyrova Galaxy, Chief Commissioner."
"They are being sending large fleets."
"We are not having fleets to spare."
"Sir, we are having the Nine-Hundredth and the Thousand-and-Eightieth."
"They are being needed."
"They have just having returned from exploring, sir."
The secretary clicked a button. "Their commander-in-chiefs are being Admiral Soroyev and Admiral Valahov." She smiled slightly.
"Those little... you are being sending them. Make sure they are being disgraced."
"Yes, sir. It is being done."
Part Two: CollaborationEdit
The Aians dropped out of FTL, each ship releasing a white bow-wave of powerful radiation that swept over it and then off into the distance. The sheer numbers meant that it was as if one long line of bright light had swept out, hundreds of millions of miles across, and shot off into the distance.
Behind the ships came the solitary Ringworld, its sparkling hull reflecting the light from the galaxy ahead. They were a few light-years out, and small recon probes were released from the ships, heading out through the galaxy and finding something very strange.
On board the Ringworld, the Aian leaders gathered around a holo-table, with Raesun at the head. There was a sense of tension and each of the other commanders looked at him, expectantly.
"The probes have finished their examination. We have mapped the galaxy. Because of light delay, we can't see the new structure from here, but our FTL drones have got past that problem. Here."
From the centre of the table sprang a translucent image of a bright sphere, its walls made from stars. There were a few gasps.
"The race that called us has completely restructured this galaxy. For a start, the dark matter halo has been condensed to a sphere at the centre. Then, the stars have been set in spherical shells around it, set to rotate counter to the shell either side."
"Why, sir?" Asked an Irrar.
"Power, we think. The rotational energy of a galaxy is immense, and they appear to have sapped almost all of it away, and then restructured it so that it is formed from shells, each grinding against those either side, causing the massive release of radiation. Power."
"But... is that even possible?"
"It must be. Every single star has been moved at FTL to its new location. This is... galactic engineering. It hasn't been done since the Veiled Ones."
"And what about the inhabited planets?"
"Of course, the radiation being produced would sterilise any inhabited planets here. However, I have been informed that several hundred planetary systems have suddenly appeared in a nearby galaxy, unharmed."
"And... stellar remnants?"
"We haven't detected any, other than one enormous black hole which is releasing colossal quantities of gamma rays. It has a mass of around twenty billion standardised stellar masses. We think they were all merged together here."
"By the Aia." The Irrar gasped.
"We have also detected what we assume to be their ships."
The holotable produced an image of a Xenatli column- four jet-black rectangles, arranged loosely like a hexagonal prism with open ends.
"These vessels are producing, again, extremely powerful gravitational waves. They are opaque to all forms of radiation, including neutrino."
The Ringworld's AI sent a bleep to the table.
"Go ahead, computer."
"The Irihil and Coatzl have arrived, sir."
"Thank you." He turned back to the Aian commanders. "I shall try to get them to rendezvous with us, and see what we saw."
The Coatzl megaships came out of FTL alongside the Irihil Fourth Shining Offense Fleet. One of the enormous Coatzl ships pulled alongside an Irihil megaship, and opened a tightbeam communication.
"Greetings. I am Lady Serna, of the Viya." The Irihil nodded.
Qatlan's translator-goggles began to interpret his words. "Greetings, ma'am. I am Nahuatlec Qatlan."
"Good to meet you, Nahuatlec."
"The Aians call us to their Ringworld. We shall go that way."
"And we, too. They have sent back some intriguing data, so I shall also send some ships to confirm that." He smiled. "This is a historic day."
A series of shuttles entered the closest hangar to the Aian commanders, and from them came the Irihil and Coatzl leaders, as well as their escorts.
Lady Serna came into the meeting room first, in her silver armour, flanked by black-armoured guards wielding long, white swords. They scanned the chamber as they entered it- it must have been thirty metrons tall, and sixty metrons long. Consoles and displays protruded from the walls. The table stretched out to accomodate more seats.
She took a seat, her guards remaining beside her.
"Greetings, Lady Serna." Raesun bowed respectfully.
"And you, Ceron."
Now, the Coatzl entered. The Nahuatlec had a train of six Taxacatlec, wearing no visible armour though the belts they wore around their waists produced repulsor sheets over their bodies. In their hands they held bladed clubs, and Vorahmoq guns hung from slings across their bodies. Qatlan slithered to a chair and settled on it, and then his escort did the same on other chairs.
"Thank you for your hospitality, Ceron." The translator goggles had an almost hissy voice.
"You are welcome on board our ship, sir."
"It is most kind of you."
Raesun took a quick glance around, counting numbers, and then began. "As I'm sure you will have seen, the race which has summoned us has been extremely busy while we approached. The galaxy has been restructured into a colossal engine, supplying them with enormous amounts of power. We have also discovered that they have been manipulating stellar remnants and brought them all together as a single, hypermassive black hole."
The image on the holotable changed- now, it showed models of both a Xenatli column and a Xenatli torch.
"These are the vessels we have seen them use. They are constructed from some strange form of matter which-"
"Excuse me, Ceron. May I interrupt?" Qatlan smiled gently.
"But of course."
The Coatzl stood up, and moved to the holotable. A band around his wrist grew an aerial, and the image on the holotable changed. "These craft are not constructed of anything so base as matter. Our analysis suggests that these smaller ones-" an image of a torch appeared- "are in fact composed of a shortened length of cosmic string."
There was sudden muttering, and an Irrar spoke up. "I must question this. String theory was rejected several hundred ye-"
"You confuse superstrings with cosmic strings, Irrar. Allow me to demonstrate."
The image changed to a single, bright, opaque sphere.
"Imagine a very early universe- we are talking around ten to the minus thirty-five seconds after a big bang. We recently proved that the universe we currently stand in is the result of a merger of two, far older universes, and so naturally everything is confused, but take a more conventional one. Now, in this hypothetical universe, the energy is extremely concentrated. The background radiation is in the order of ten to the sixteen gigaelectronvolts- we could not produce such energies even with our most powerful particle accelerators, which are several light-minutes long."
"What does this have to do with these strings, sir?"
"Well, at this point, the universe was composed of quark-gluon plasma, or maybe something even more primal. Imagine this as a mass of water."
On cue, an image of a glass of water was projected.
"Now, as it cools, this water will become ice."
The water in the image began to freeze, and the glass was soon containing a mass of ice.
"Note that the freezing is not uniform. There are cracks in the ice, which contain water, unable to transmute even despite the lower temperature. These are analogous to cosmic strings- they are not composed of matter at all, and possess very unusual properties. For example, you are familiar with the idea of spacetime as a sheet, and massive objects creating 'wells' in it, yes? Well, a cosmic string distorts spacetime differently. It produces a conical raised area in the metaphorical sheet. Because of this, travelling around a string would not be travelling through the full number of degrees, instead slightly less. Pi would not have the same value."
Everyone was quiet, and listening.
"A typical string has a radius approximately a trillionth of that a hydrogen atom does. However, its implied mass is enormous- a ten-kilometre length would mass about one standardised terrestrial-planetary mass. A read through some scientific material would tell you a lot more about them, but let me tell you how they could be produced.
"Take a volume of space and energise the radiation within it to around ten to the sixteen gigaelectronvolts. This is the Grand Unification Energy, at which the electroweak and strong forces combine, leaving only two forces- this new unified force, and gravity. These, in turn, split earlier, but that is beyond our science right now. Then, allow the volume to cool. Strings will condense out from the cooling. However, such an act would require colossal amounts of energy- on the scale of galactic outputs. This would also explain what they could possibly be doing with all that galactic energy."
The same curious Irrar spoke up again. "So, we know what they are, but how are they doing what we observe? Travelling faster than light, and moving stars, and producing such powerful gravitational waves?"
"The gravitational waves are the natural result of a massive and moving distortion in space. The strings oscillate slightly- they should produce both gravitational and high-electromagnetic radiation. However, this EM radiation has not been observed, but rather only a weak infrared signal. We believe that the energy from the powerful radiation is being used to manipulate the string, which has been looped to act as a gravitational rocket.
"As for faster-than-light, we can only guess. However, we have an idea. Remember that the strings produce a conical distortion in space, where the angles do not add up to a full circle? Well, in the past, before it was proved impossible, it was hoped that by orbiting very close to a string at relativistic velocities, you could have a net speed exceeding the speed of light and therefore travel backwards in time. Erroneous, of course, but what would happen to an object completing such an orbit? We believe this is associated with the extreme superluminal speeds observed.
"And for their stellar engineering, we are guessing that these smaller craft- the 'torches' could not perform such acts. Instead, it was the columns- which are both different and fascinating."
An image of a Xenatli column appeared, again.
"While they appear to utilise cosmic strings, their structure is formed from a different kind of spacetime defect. You saw the cracks in the ice, which result from a certain shape of symmetry breaking. However, another kind of symmetry breaking creates a different kind- a domain wall. These are the objects that we believe form the column's superstructure. They are highly exotic- for example, their gravitational field cannot be modelled by classical, pre-relativity physics, but only through relativity, which demonstrates that their gravitational field is in fact repulsive. Another interesting feature is that they can exchange momentum with spacetime itself, allowing them to reach extreme speeds without any need for engines or mass-adjustment. They are also basically indestructible.
"Domain walls are not common. You would have to freeze a large quantity of water to see them appearing, and if one formed in a universe naturally, then it would be impossible for life to develop there. However, they could form between observable volumes. We do not know."
The Irrar spoke again. "Have we ever observed these things before?"
"It is an interesting question. The truth is that we have never observed a topological defect, such as either of these, in Emenata. However, when we have entered different universes- for example, when the Irihil entered the Daemoniverse- they did detect cosmic strings. This anomaly may be related to the Merge, but nevertheless, this mysterious race has developed such structures."
The Ringworld entrance hatch opened once more, as two new ships docked with it. One belonged to the Hegan and the other the Bishaurts- and each deposited a commander and their guards.
The Aian dock-guards watched the sapients enter.
“Greetings, races of the Viperius Galaxy System,” the Hegan said. “We are the Hegan, and these are our neighbouring race, the Bishaurt. We are of Undrishuar. It is a pleasure to meet you.”
“You are indeed welcome here. The commanders have been informed of your arrival- please report to the command room. Straight on and then left.”
“Thanks,” the Bishaurt commander replied. “We’ll get moving, then!”
“You Bishaurts all seem to be too eager to go everywhere...” one of the Hegan guards muttered as they headed on.
They entered the command room, and the leaders turned to look. Raesun spoke. “Welcome, representatives of the Hegan and Bishaurt. I am Raesun Kael d’Estre- these here are Nahuatlec Qatlan and Lady Serna, of the Coatzl and Irihil respectively.”
“It is a pleasure,” the Hegan representative replied. “Have your races received any more messages from whoever called us here?”
“None. I trust you received our messages about the galactic engineering and the construction of their vessels?”
“Yes, we received the messages,” the Bishaurt representative said.
“Good. We’re detecting a new race approaching, though- the ones from Voltoriem, apparently.”
One by one the Draegen ships came out of FTL, when the flood of ships finally halted several thousands had entered the system, one of the ships was assigned as a messenger and went to the Ringworld.
“This is Yorthan, commander of the Baghner. I have been chosen by our supreme leader to serve as a messenger.” Yorthan said through the comms.
“Welcome, Yorthan. What is your race called?”
“We are called the Draegens, a name one should better memorise.” Yorthan replied with a smirk on his face, he knew that Ignus Charta was listening on the communications.
“I’m sure. Please enter, and come to the control room- we shall transmit to you what we have discovered so far.”
A long access tube connected the Ringworld to the Draegen ship, expanding in width to accommodate the massive Draegens. The hatch, too, had to grow larger to allow the winged reptilians inside.
The dock-guards watched the enormous, scaled beings approach. “Straight on and then left, sirs.”
“Hah, cut me the sweet talks, we were born the harsh ways.” Yorthan said while walking into the direction the dock-guards pointed him. His second-in-command and 3 troopers accompanied them.
The other races’ representatives watched him approach. “Welcome.” Raesun looked him up and down. “We are not familiar with your race, but you seem powerful enough. You got what we sent you?”
“Yes, that was also the reason I was sent. We needed to know the exact reason of our needed presence. And before I forget it. My name is Yorthan, I am the commander appointed as my race’s representative. My leader, Ignus Charta, is also present but currently resides on his ship awaiting my signal. If he is needed I can call him.” Yorthan replied.
“I thank you for your greeting,” the Hegan representative said. “I am Carthool Buarb of the Hegan. As no one seems to have previously met your race, what is your race’s technological level?”
“It is XI, we have several settlements on colonies outside Voltoriem which we like to keep hidden. Voltoriem itself, as you all might know, is only a microverse. And our technology itself is not completely our own, the Abominations aided us with our inventions.”
“Good to know. I am Raesun Kael d’Estre, of the Aians. The Irihil here is Lady Serna, and the Coatzl is Qatlan, a Nahuatlec.”
The two just mentioned nodded in acknowledgement.
“I feel that our first priority should be to find out why we are here.”
“Sir.” The comms sounded. “We’re detecting another fleet- it’s the Slavnye.”
“I was wondering when they would turn up. Send them in, please.”
The Slavnye admirals now passed the dock-guards, accepting their directions without turning to look at the Aians who gave them.
They headed into the control room. “Greetings. We are being Admirals Soroyev and Valahov, of the Slavnye. We bring the 900th and 1080th fleets to assist you.”
“Much appreciated, admirals.” Raesun sounded earnest. “We have a very sizeable force accumulating here.”
Admiral Soroyev cast a critical eye over the assembled commanders. “I am not being recognising some of these races.”
“Ah, yes. These are the representatives from the Bishaurt, Hegan, and Draegens. The Bishaurt and Hegan are from the Undrishuar universe, and the Draegens are from the Voltoriem microverse.”
“We are the Hegan, the four-winged arthropodal creatures are the Bishaurt , and the two-winged reptilians are the Draegens. I believe a large number of us have assembled, though, so I expect we should begin preparing for the makers of this construct.”
“Indeed. There are some galaxies joined that have not sent any fleets, but that was expected. Races such as the War Machine and Aoarus would never help us.”
“They don’t seem to have been the last, sir. Another sizeable fleet is approaching- I don’t recognise the design.”
“Send them a message.” Raesun scratched one arm with the talon of the other. “Ask who they are and whether they’re on our side.”
The comms officer did as asked, sending a tightbeam at what seemed to be the lead ship on the new fleet. “Greetings, unidentified fleet. May I inquire as to your species name and your purpose here?”
The comms beeped, and a rather high-pitched voice came through. “Yes, you may. I am marshal Duurhan Surrhun of the Daa race. We have been contacted by an unidentified race, and they’ve led us here. I suppose you’re here for the same reason?”
Raesun activated his comm. “Put me through.”
The officer complied, and now Raesun was linked to the newcomers.
“Welcome, again. I must admit I have not heard of you, but our story of why we came to be here is the same. They seem to have thought you sufficiently powerful to warrant inviting you here.”
“Yes, I suppose. Well, what’s happening here? It appears as if far larger fleets than estimated have come here. However, we’ve still got more than two hundred million ships here, hopefully enough.”
“Any ships, I am guessing, are better than none. Two hundred million is still a powerful force, even if it is not a significant proportion of all the ships here- don’t put yourselves down. As for what’s going on- we’re not entirely sure ourselves. The leaders from the races which have come so far have gathered here, on the Ring-like megastructure. If you’d like to come on board, it would be our pleasure to receive you.”
“Of course! I’ll just sign off here. We should get to formal introductions there.”
Duurhan cut the comms, signaling for a few ships to board the Ringworld. He immediately got onto a shuttle, flying to the megastructure.
The dock-guards were there to welcome them.
“Welcome, sirs. The control room is just straight on and then left; all the other commanders have gathered there.”
“Okay, I’ll be off.” Duurhan left with his guards, towards the control room.
Raesun nodded in welcome. “It is good to meet you face-to-face. You see here the leaders of the assembled fleets- I am Raesun Kael d’Estre of the Aians, this is Lady Serna of the Irihil, Qatlan of the Coatzl...”
He continued naming the representatives, who each said their own words of welcome at the mentions of their names.
“It’s good to formally meet you.” The Daa walked towards the Aian. “May I inquire as to the numbers of the fleet here?”
Raesun looked up and activated his comm. “Oros, numbers?”
“Approximately two point four billion ships overall, sir.”
The Daa made a high whistle. “That’s far more than I expected here. Well, now what? Do we just wait?”
“Sir!” The comms bleeped again. “We’re detecting an approaching column!”
The enormous Xenatli vessel glided slowly towards them, its jet-black domain walls blocking all view of the stars behind. It was large enough to completely contain all those billions of ships within its internal volume, and the light from its rear section had not even reached the ships yet due to light delay.
It moved over towards the Ringworld, and swallowed it into its interior. The occupants watched the enormous walls surround them, slowly rotating.
“I think we’re going to get some answers now.” Qatlan sounded excited.
The Bishaurt sounded somewhat nervous. “Agreed.”
“Let’s hope...” Duurhan looked worried.
“Why are massive things always coloured in black...?” Yorthan muttered to his men.
A laser suddenly connected the column’s interior and the Ringworld.
“Send it through.” Raesun seemed almost nervous.
“It’s an image, again.”
“Send it to the holo-table, if you would.”
From the table now came a three-dimensional image. It was an object- pitch black. A thick disc.
“I don’t understand. What is this supposed to mean to us? Why did they send us an image when we have no idea what it shows?”
“Sir. This isn’t just a message. The column is relaying a feed from the Viperius Galaxy- the Aian reconnaissance fleet has detected an object exactly like this one entering the third spiral arm.”
“What’s their analysis?”
"Nothing remarkable about it."
There were a few taps on the keys and then the comms bleeped again.
“What’s it doing?”
“Other than being impervious to our mass driver fire, it’s just sitting there, slowly rotati- no. Oh krag. Sir, you’re familiar with Incident Five Four Zero?”
Raesun sat bolt upright. “Pilot. Get us there. Now.”
The Coatzl came up behind him. “What is it?”
“Yes, we would like to know what your worry is.” The Hegan seemed extremely irritated at what was going on.
Duurhan added, “As would I. What is going on here?”
“Is there trouble?” Yorthan asked, “My Supreme lord might be able to lend you his firepower.”
“Alright. I’ll tell you. We call it a Ravager.”
“A... Ravager?” The Bishaurt tilted his head in confusion.
“It just seems like a regular ship to me, can we blow it up?” Yorthan continued after the Bishaurt was done.
“I’m sure a bunch of weaponry could just take it down?” Duurhan inquired uncertainly.
“They’re living... spaceships. Not massive. Just about twenty or so kilometres long. However, they’re completely impervious to all known weaponry, they can destroy stars, and they hate all living things. Pretty traditional giant alien death machines.”
Lady Serna spoke up. “And what are they doing in the Viperius Galaxy?”
“They’ve left it, now.” The comms officer spoke. “They’re heading straight for Pyrova.”
Raesun tensed. “Prepare all ships! Get everything ready for the fight of its life!”
Qatlan smiled nervously. “Our allies can reshape galaxies and are composed of domain walls. What could these Ravagers possibly do against them?”
“Terrify them enough to call together the greatest fleet in Emenata.”
“Oh no.” The Hegan was shaking his head. “We can’t even touch the ships of these beings, let alone something that they fear. But...” He looked up. “We must fight. If our allies believe we are strong enough to do something, with all their domain walls and cosmic strings and galactoforming, then it is all we can do."
Part Three: One-Sided BattleEdit
“Approaching Ravagers. We have just a few minutes.”
Raesun sighed. “How many?”
“Thoughts, everyone? Should we attempt to take them all on together, or split up and try to battle them individually?” He addressed the other leaders.
Duurhan thought for a moment, before saying, “Well, splitting up seems like a good idea. I’m sure it would just be easier for them to destroy us when we’re in a sole fleet.”
“Good thoughts- any objections to dividing?”
“Lady Serna, Qatlan, and Yorthan?”
The Irihil and Coatzl shrugged. “A loose formation means that fewer ships would be lost in the event of a large-scale weapon being used.”
“And it would also make it easier to coordinate, as there would be a larger proportion of our own ships instead of other’s.”
“And your perceptions, Yorthan?”
“My lord just contacted me, I am to return to my ship and join the main force, he’s going to attack an isolated Ravager.” Yorthan informed before making an attempt to depart.
“One second - do we have any figures on the enemy fleet?” Duurhan interrupted.
“We know they have eight Ravagers and-” Raesun trunk-frowned and leaned in towards the holo-display- “We’re detecting a number of other gamma-ray signatures around them. We can’t see exactly what they are yet.”
“Well. that’s a problem. We could perhaps get better readings on the field,” Duurhan replied.
“Very good. It is decided then- take your fleets and keep the foe as seperated as you can.”
The Ringworld remained within the column, but the Aian fleet began to head out towards one of the Ravagers. Six hundred and fifty million vessels, of every class and each readying itself for the battle ahead, streamed outwards. The battle line was specifically diffuse, with the ships seperated over around ten light-minutes, though this presented no communications problem due to the quantum entanglement communicators of the Aian ships.
Raesun watched from the megastructure as the Ravager drew closer, the gamma-signatures around it being made more intense by proximity.
“Have we got any more data on the gamma sources? Or any news on the Ravagers?”
“The gamma sources are emitting negligible infrared and ultraviolet, sir. I don’t imagine they’re spacecraft with people inside, at least.”
“Tell me when you have a visual. Remember to open fire while outside its range.”
The Aian vessels all released a spread of missiles and torpedoes, shooting out through space, all with the same target. Drones followed on behind, each using its own projectiles to add to the mix.
The Ravager did not attempt to dodge. It allowed the billions of missiles to smash into it, simply ignoring the explosions across its hull. It, in turn, released its missiles. Each tore a hole in the Aian lines, reducing a number of ships to scraps of nanodiamond.
And then it began to fire its lasers.
“What’s going on, Irrar? How can it fire from such distance?” Raesun was shouting.
There was no signal from the other end of the line.
“Ah krag.” He spat.
The Aian fleet was already reduced by hundreds of thousands. They began to make out the gamma signatures visibly- ovoids, surrounded by spines, and with four large fins protruding at ninety degrees from each other.
Like the Ravager, they were jet black, but they didn’t have the signatures of Void-Metal. Using the neutrino probes, an analysis was attempted.
“What’s it made of?”
“Seems to be neutronium, sir.”
“Krag... and weapons? What’s it firing?”
“Nothing ye- something. Coming from the front of its hull...”
“Mass sprayer, sir! Five-gram ferrous particles at-” There was no more sound from the line.
Raesun had a vessel counter by the display. The number dwindled with each second, the last figure decreasing far too quickly to be visible. He clenched his trunk and gave the order.
“Fall back. Now. FTL!”
The Bishaurt commander, Mrkta Crlo, observed the Ravager. He felt lightheaded, but knew that this was what he had to do.
"The main body of the Ravager seems to be impervious. However, this armour can't stay up forever, as it wouldn't be able to see us or fire at us without opening a hole. When it slips up, we focus all fire on the open spot, and continue the fire when it hides again. There are also some gamma signatures, which we shall investigate and most likely attack. The Tyrants, however, are the only method of returning to Undrishuar, so half of them shall stay back in the main ship. For the Bishaurt!"
There was a general shout in reply through the intercoms, cheering for their fleet. And then they opened fire.
The Ravager shrugged off the bombardment like it was a beam of light from a torch. In response, the missiles it fired tore mighty holes within the fleet, each attack a brutal blow. And there was nothing Mrkta could do about it.
"Keep firing!" he shouted. "It's all we've got!"
The numbers were dropping rapidly even before the lasers began firing. When they started, it became apparent that there was no hope.
"Don't give up! We'll put a mark on this thing if it's the last thing we do!"
They were now in range of the neutronium-metal ships. It was decided that their best hope of weakening the Ravager was to fire upon these ships. Enough firepower to destroy a planet completely was focused on a single one of these pods.
They were distracted.
Mrkta didn't even notice that he no longer existed.
The Ravager picked off the other Tyrant ships, focusing its lasers on them. The Bishaurts could just imagine it laughing in its impervious black shell as they fled.
The Coatzl fleet formed a diffuse cylinder of ships, which loosened further still as they approached the Ravager. Qatlan had remained in the Ringworld to oversee the whole conflict.
Taalax megaships launched their FTL missiles, which exploded harmlessly on the Ravager's surface. Jets of antimatter floated over the black surface, useless against the Void-Metal. There were enough missiles to keep the machine constantly covered by explosions, completely obscuring its form.
From inside that burning maelstrom of plasma came the Ravager's own missiles. Each took down a Coatzl ship, vaporising it utterly. And the lasers began firing, too.
"It can't be hitting us from this distance. That's not possible." He gasped.
The Coatzl ships began to fire particle beams and mass drivers, again uselessly. Now, the neutronium ships were within range, and added their fire to the mix.
"Fall back! Quickly! Fall back!"
As soon as Duurhan entered his Gigaship's bridge, he opened comms to the rest of the fleet.
"We should send around a hundred million of our ships into the fray- I'll stay back with the other one hundred and fifty."
The captains over the comms agreed.
"We should try a pincer movement on the smaller ships, and eventually begin hitting our Ravager. Go, in the name of the Emperor!"
The millions of ships advanced, forming a wide, vuvuzela-shape around the enemy fleet. However, the Ravager began firing its missiles and lasers.
Duurhan smashed his fist on the table. "How are they hitting us from this far out of range?" He muttered to himself. "Accelerate quicker! Make sure to minimize casualties!"
With the ships now accelerating, the Ravager still kept assaulting the forces. Ships were being destroyed in the numbers of several per second, swathes cut down with vast sweeps of laser blasts and missile barrages.
The marshal re-opened the comms. "Do a scan of the ships- see what they're made of. Literally."
"Scanning them..." A gigaship signature transmitted. "Er, they're- neutron star material?"
"How's that possible?" Duurhan asked.
"I don't kn- wait- they're firing! Take evasive action!"
As the neutronium ships fired at the fleet, the formation was torn apart.
Duurhan looked at the fleet number counter, its number decreasing far too quickly to count.
"We need to fall back! All ships, retreat!" As the ships exited the fray in FTL, he thought to himself- Why were we even brought here? We can't do anything to those ships!
As soon as Yorthan had returned the Great Draegen Overlord, Magna Ignus, began giving orders to Giblet and Taëra who were responsible for the first attack. A fleet of several hundred millions of ships began to warm up their thrusters and slowly began moving towards the enemy Ravager and their unknown allies.
The order was simple, 'destroy the enemy, impress the allies'.
Giblet and Taëra split the force into two and flew side by side with several light-minutes of space between them. They ordered their front ships to fire when they nearly came into range. The Fang Coilguns, Draegenfire Cannons and Shadowflame Cannons did the talking for them, there was no sweet talking during these hard times. The trails of the fired ordnance could be seen from Ignus's flagship, all seemed to hit their target at the same time and a giant wall of fire seemed to fill the dark void.
"Sir, I'm picking up reports of retreating Aians and Daa! They say they didn't even scratch the enemy's hull!" an operator yelled to his lord.
"Harharhar, weaklings, fleeing for a simple loss!" Ignus laughed knowing all too well his forces would suffer the same fate, he wanted to see if his weapons were able to o anything.
When the wall of flames began to disappear the entire Draegen fleet stood for the surprise of their lives, not a single ship was destroyed, or even damaged.
"All forces, prepare to fire a second time!" Giblet roared through the communication channels. Before even receiving a response the enemy's fleet returned fire, millions if not billions of red dots came flying at the Draegen's fleet.
"Evasive manouvers! Dreadnoughts and Imperans act as shields!" Giblet roared as soon as he recovered from his confused state, he threw aside the operator flying his Imperan flagship and turned it around in front of the fleet to be the first brick of the shield. One by one more dreadnoughts and Imperans followed the example while the other smaller ships fled into FTL back to Ignus's forces. When most of the ships had left Giblet gave the order for the ships acting as a shield to fall back, only to have his ship destroyed several seconds later.
Ignus looked as Giblet's ship exploded in a tremendous blast, his jaw dropped. Not from sadness, but from astonishment, he lost many great ships, commanders and Draegens. He lost family...
"All forces...are to...return to the main fleet, ze're falling back to the others! Stay out of their range!" Ignus roared through the comm channels, when he sat down again his crew had only one word to say: "Condolated..."
The Hegan fleet rushed towards their foe in FTL. The plan was to get as close as possible in FTL, before it could attack, and gun it down at close range. No material could be uncrackable.
As soon as they were out of FTL, ships began to explode under the Ravager's mighty lasers and the constant bullet-spray of its neutronium guards. But the Hegan kept firing, with Concussers repeatedly hitting the Ravager with planet-razing impacts.
All the Ravager did in responce was to keep firing, and keep annihalating. The Hegan's numbers were dropping rapidly.
They hung on for as long as possible, but with word of the defeats of the others, even the mighty Hegan fled from the all-destroying Ravager.
The Irihil fleet carved through the intergalactic gas, powering towards their assigned Ravager. A rough V-formation had been formed, with megaships at the head, and they prepared their bombardment cannons and particle beams for the attack.
"I don't think our particle beams will be very effective. Try to aim at the Ravager's sensors and weapons- they may be destructible."
There was a chorus of acknowledgement through the comms.
The Ravager opened fire before they were in range, and ships began to explode. Lives were taken in their tens of thousands per second, even before they could bring their weapons to bear.
The neutronium-ships began their mass sprayer assault, and their fire vaporised Irihil ships alongside the Ravager's attacks. Only now could the Irihil begin to fire, and they did.
Millions of particle beams hit the Ravager simultaneously. The energy was incredible, all those particles smashing into the Void-Metal and doing exactly zero to the surface, completely ignorable as the living spaceship ploughed onwards, still killing, always killing.
A lump formed in Serna's throat. "Retreat. All retreat."
As their Ravager had been particularly distant, and the Slavnye ships had held back slightly before approaching, they were aware of the toll the Ravagers were lifting from their allies. The Slavnye held no pretenses of invulnerability, but nevertheless they committed a cautious, sizeable battlegroup.
The battlegroup drifted slowly sideways, firing mass drivers and releasing clouds of drones that sped towards the Ravager and were shot from the void, leaving the space around the jet-black monster a bubbling mass where the little craft exploded and were gone.
The Ravager began firing from too great a distance for the Slavnye to bring a coherent response. Its missiles tore into their ships and its lasers drilled straight through them, and the flotilla began to kite backwards in the knowledge that they had minimised their casualties, even if their dignity had been somewhat reduced.
Part Four: Armed ResponseEdit
The battered and despirited fleets of the alliance fled towards the Ringworld, unable to even face the Ravagers that gloated so far behind them, along with their neutronium-hulled allies. This was no ordered withdrawal, and the masses of ships were travelling as fast as they could back to the... safety? of the column which contained their Ringworld.
But as they gathered, the column began to move. It turned its end to face the approaching Ravagers, as if daring them to come and attack the pitiful fleets within, offering them up as bait.
There was no sign that the Void-Metal ships cared. They powered on towards them, a mass of spikes and fins. Their companions were right behind them, mass sprayers ever-ready, and their matt armour blocking out the stars.
There was a steady shaking within each of the ships and on board the Ringworld despite the repulsors' inertial dampening, as if the column was shaking itself in preparation for a fight.
But still the Ravagers came. They would be in their horrendously long range soon.
And now the comms bleeped. "Sir?"
Raesun continued to stare at the display. "Yes?"
"Massive gravitational anomaly, sir. Right in front of us."
As they watched, the stars seemed to bloat and stretch, their light bent by the sudden distortion produced in the centre of the column's end. Strain built up on space-time-
and then it was released. A burst of gravitational waves shot out, making the stars appear to shred themselves in the void, and was on the Ravagers at the speed of light. Under the distortion, the neutronium ships were blown apart and the Ravagers forced backwards as if fighting an unseen, hurricane-force wind.
And then the Ravagers turned, and were gone into whatever form of Hyperspace they used.
Raesun released a sigh of relief and turned to his allies. "Too close."