• Nobles of Null is a forum based roleplay site where sci-fi and magic collide. Here, Earth remains fractured and divided despite humanity reaching out to the stars. Worse still, the trans-human slaves of one major power have escaped, only to establish their own Empire, seething with resentment at abuses of the past. Even the discovery of aliens, though medieval in development, has failed to rally these squabbling children of Earth together with its far darker implications. Worse still, is the discovery of the impossible - magic. Practiced by the alien locals, nearly depleted and therefore rare, its reality warping abilities remains abstract and distant to the general populace. All the while, unseen in the darkness of space, forces from without threaten to press in. For those with eyes opened by insight, it is clear that an era is about to end, and that a new age will dawn.

Chapter 0: Embryos of Sol (Paralogue)

Ray of Meep

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GM for this chapter - Ray of Meep

Gustav 20-56 / NCA Frigate Lusca - LavaLung

42-13 - Piston

2386 A.D

In equatorial orbit of Triton

Project Vautumn Mothership “Audentes”

Dr. Saliba didn’t get the chance to strap herself down and enjoy a bulb of coffee when her computer watch blared red and buzzed furiously with warning. She cursed silently to herself with an audible groan as she squeezed a gulp of caffeine into her system before she let the bulb float, then engaging with her watch.

“Captain Rosland, I thought we didn’t have an EAS test until---”

“Negative, General! A dozen hostile vessels en route towards the Audentes! Flyby in two hours, missiles and slugs much sooner!” Whoever Captain Rosland was yelled over the comms.

If artificial gravity existed on the mothership, Dr. Saliba would’ve spilled her coffee. With more tired, silent cursing, she replied, “Has the Neptunian navy been informed?”

“Affirmative! All available project forces moving in to intercept! Wait-- Incoming transmission from hostiles, they call themselves the Humanity Liberation Army!”

On the same plane as the Audentes, but a few hundred kilometers out, a fleet of Neptunian vessels spread over an area kilometers wide made a parabolic burn out of Triton’s gravity well, flanked by repurposed Terran and Martian vessels decades old, now suddenly forced into battle once again. The Neptunian vessels likewise were modified from their base intents, but newer and more intentional in their amendments. Crossing trusses made up their exposed, skeletal frames with seemingly minimal space for life support. The rest of the ships were engine, drone docks, and microwave laser emitters that looked like antenna dishes on first glance. A couple retained mining arms while one pushed along a net of broken asteroid rubble.

“Audentes, this is the VTS Battering Bismuth, on a deceleration burn to join the engagement fleet. We received hails from the hostiles, patching through to the fleet now.” A pair of Venusian ships equipped with laser cannons showed up on the periphery of radar maps as they returned from their forward scouting mission.”

The Neptunian pilot 42-13 floated in her life-support solution as her vessel flew forward. Her comms opened with static, then a voice that wasn’t that of her commander. Instead, what came was a warmer, more passionate voice, far more so than any Neptunian could muster.

“This is the HLA navy. You xeno-filth have drawn away the minds and wealth of Earth for long enough. Stay out of our way, or face annihilation. This is your final warning.” 12 red dots appeared on the radar map, while the center was surrounded by blue dots twice that number denoted 42-13’s allies.

20-56, the pilot of the ship alongside took a moment to pull itself out a dream-like state, a side effect of being interred for so long, staring out at untelling stars from a casket of cold steel. The NCA Frigate Lusca reacted to their mental commands instantly however, sounding a radio hazard signal that let all other ships in the wing know what their beloved Machine Exemplar would expect.

These primitives must be eradicated, before they could get too close to the home colony. Before they could scratch the great Terran ark, that their holy masters had charged them with protecting.

“Ondine wing, we are going to hit them at full force and try and draw their numbers off of the direct attack vector until reinforcements arrive.” A cold, robotic tone emanated from their artificial jawline. The hull of their roughly octagonal Capricorn-class frigate groaned as the fusion engine slowly expanded it’s thrust nozzle to full size, hammering the vessel forward at tremendous speed. “Crews, prepare the drone fighters. Martyr pattern wave fifty percent. Frigates Selkie and Ceasg, move to positions in front of their vector and spread your asteroid load in front of them. Actualize.”

Wouldn’t be long until they engaged now, the enemy was practically already on top of them. The entire ship ratted with the main weapon coil spinning up, and drones springing up from their magazines to be loaded into launch tubes.

Selkie and Ceasg did exactly as ordered, pushing to their maximum acceleration to get ahead of the rest of the fleet. Once at a sufficient velocity, they released the rubble they were carrying, releasing their drone fleets at the same time, before they stopped their thrust. Behind the Neptunians, the Martian fleet unloaded what seemed to be their entire remaining arsenal that wasn’t already removed. The Terrans took to the front of the flanks, their point-defense cannons standing by. It seems the apes weren’t holding back what was left of their weapons systems.

That didn’t stop the apes from small talking though, even now. Radio chatter came pertebated through the chamber, “It’s two to one and there’s a lot more on the moon. Am I missing anything on the radar?”

“Negative. Stealth, maybe?”

“Could be. But whatever they’re showing now isn’t impressive. Signatures looking like leftovers from the war.”

42-13 followed the given orders and her ship shuddered as drones deployed. They formed up in accordance with the fleet wide pattern. With few other given orders the pilot awaited further instructions.



Confronted with the screen of asteroids and drones, the HLA Fleet deployed a cluster of missiles, while the ships themselves veered in the opposite direction attempting to avoid the defending fleet entirely. Some of the drones already entered auto-cannon range, trading fire with the enemy’s own point-defense.

“Terran vessels, what are you detecting?” Captain Gustav 20-56 grunted, audibly annoyed by the first rippling pings of enemy tracer fire.

“Looks to be a mix of Terran and Martian vessels; frigates and cruisers. If they are who they’re calling themselves, it’s that organization that’s attracted a lot of mutineers who are still salty that we lost the war. Unlike us, they still have all their railguns and missiles.”

“Ondine left flank, keep on me, we are going straight for the enemy ships.” The virtual map on all of the allies monitors pinged to highlight the ten Neptunian ships on that side, and included the two Terran and Martian ones on that side too, regardless of command structure. “Rockies, it’s your colony ship, we need your guns!”

Not an unfair question; Only eight out of ten ships in the Neptunian formation had the microwave emitter. This was a totally rushed, impromptu situation.

“You don’t have to tell us twice, Tridents!” One of the Martian vessels guided their missile cluster to converge on the enemy fleet from all directions, in an attempt to draw point-defense fire from the Neptunians. The pair of Terran vessels flipped around, pointing their engines towards the HLA to blind them, contributing a flurry of auto-cannon fire of their own. The Venusian ships moved behind the field of asteroid rubble for cover, painting the HLA ships with targeting lasers.

“Pilot 42-13… I’m giving you a field commission.” Another sector of the map zoomed in, highlighting that pilot’s vessel as well as eight others on the right flank. Four had the microwave emitter, four had only drones and defensive guns. It seemed they were mostly still mining-focused vehicles. “Take this flotilla and intercept those missiles along the other side of the defensive debris… Wide-angle microwave and direct drone collision should neutralize them, but use your initiative.”

Just as the enemy defensive fire hit its peak, Gustav opened up with his own microwave emitter on the narrowest setting, aiming for the lead vessel of the HLA formation.

“Left flank, open fire! Short, narrow pulses!”
 

Ray of Meep

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42-13 took her orders and broke off to follow the missiles course around the quickly spreading debris field. “Send all drones to collide with the missiles, try to partner them up as much as possible and use all their ammo before collision.” As soon as she gave these orders to the other pilots she set her drones to following them, the small remote craft speeding up and adding a cloud of ammunition between the missiles and their targets.



On the right flank, drones and missiles intercepted one another head on. With one’s visual cameras were one it would’ve been a spectacular light show of warhead and drone alike exploding and shattering into millions of pieces. Despite the combined fire of the drone fleet and the PDC’s, half a dozen missiles broke through the saturated web of shrapnel, slamming into the vessels in the front. There was a suppressed grunt of agony before an abrupt static as one of the missiles slammed into a Neptunian vessel’s antenna array. Another, drawn to the heat, tore into a Terran vessel’s engine, leaving it floating in space as it furiously continued its PDC fire while also attempting to arrest its momentum with its remaining thrusters. 42-13’s own spacecraft shook violently, sending her shaking around in her pod, red alarms blaring. A missile found its way to the ship’s drone hangar, completely gutting it.

The left flank didn’t fare much better. With a fanatic, suicidal charge, the HLA fleet maintained their forward thrust, now coming into point-blank range of the defenders. The leading ship was dead almost immediately as auto-cannon fire tore into it, a missile ripped apart its bow, and Gustav’s microwave emitter cooked the vessel. Three more vessels suffered similar fates, left floating as red-hot and shattered debris. That wasn’t before they paid in kind though. The HLA Martian vessels rained a storm of lead upon the fleet’s flank, damaging comms arrays and engines. The Terran vessels opened with their slower but far deadlier railgun fire, with one iron rod running straight through Selki, killing its pilot on the spot, while two shots tore a Martian vessel’s engine clean off. 20-56 barely dodged death as a hole pierced straight through his life pod. Now, repair bots tried to patch the leak as fast as possible as a dwindling amount of solution remained before the captain was fully exposed to vacuum.

“Switch to laser!-Switch to laser!-” Gustav could be heard yelling at his own crew over the coms, referring to the tiny laser communication lenses that were placed on all of the turrets. The rockies might not understand the visual signal, but it was better than nothing. “Fuck-Get some drones out there and after those engines! 42-13, are you in one piece?”

As the cassette-shaped drones were rapidly spat out of their magazines on the port side of every ice giant ship, little could be heard from the Lusca whilst it’s commander’s life pod was secured. 83-03, a midshipman normally babysitting the engine, swung into the central cabin and directly supervised the hull repair whilst taking hold of the manual backup controls for a pace. She had three arms and a massively cyberized body, but even then the intense G-forces were tough to work under.

“-Neptunian vessels! We are going to perform a hard-bank turn!-” Gustav used his moment of relative rest to formulate a plan. Or rather, decide on a tactic that his machine masters distinctly told him not to use in the past. “This is going to be tight so listen up; Adjust your fusion drive’s magnetic field to throw exhaust 20 degrees to port, dump all the heat into the starboard side radiator. Start firing your blind point defense turrets away from the direction of your turn!- Don’t hit each other damn it! Left wing, follow up and pick up those de-engined rockmen on the way! Just bring us about and catch those bastards! We can do this!”

83-03 made sounds of exertion, doing three jobs at once until Gustav was hap-hazardly reseated again. Loud, rippling vibrations filled the Lusca, as the awkward use of the engine caused the heat in the cabin to climb worryingly… The Capricorn frigate was a long and slender thing designed for speed, not for hard-angle turns like this…

“Anybody with a dish still operational, you get a shot at a hostile engine, you damn well take it!”

“Damage reports!” 42-13 demanded from those under her control as she started pulling up her own damage reports. She wasn’t pleased that her ship was damaged from the attack but at least nothing important was sent offline and all the missiles were taken out.

Looking over her tactical display again she was a bit disappointed that none of the weapons her group had online could do much to assist with the group that broke through the blockade. Sheer distance and the direction made attending to her groups repairs more viable than attempting something that had minimal point, and so she started giving orders in that vain to those under her.



Ships of the left wing protested angrily as they bent under the strain, ejecting as much mass as they could to turn around. A few red lights blared up indicating further hull damage. A couple frigates were forced to slow down the maneuver as their radiators began to fail. However, the maneuver paid off. The majority of the vessels were able to turn around, accelerating towards the HLA fleet while firing their microwave emitters. The Venusian ships made up for their lack of firepower with pin-point laser accuracy, managing to disable the engines of two of the ships, allowing for the drone fleet to catch up and tear them apart like wasps on rotten meat. With withering PDC fire and railgun shots, the remaining HLA vessels managed to cripple to two Neptunian ships that were stuck at a relative halt.

“Tridents,” A Terran vessel on the right wing called out, “We managed to complete our rotation burn, en route to intercept now. Give us the formation plan of your drone fleet and we can guide them to their targets.”

“Erm, Rockies-” An electronic female voice, followed by a sharp audio click, the sound of audio jacks being re-inserted into the real captain. “They are currently operating in independent mode, Terrans.” He confirmed, voice a little more masculine. This whole thing was a scrambled-together affair, and they didn’t have the full compliment of controllers on half the vessels. “Use the encryption data provided in the blue envelope. We will send you an active three-dimensional map in order to avoid their flight arcs.”

It wasn’t the best situation, watching the HLA vessels continue to limp ahead, half on-fire but not quite dealt with. The Neptunians could either fire or make another burn, but not both.

“Roger that, Neptunians, we’ll take it from here while you get your bearings together.” The Martian and Terran vessels, their outer hulls torn by shrapnel, leaking fuel trailing behind them, began full burn to intercept their maniacal brothers and sisters. The drone fleet on the right wing paused as their commands were rerouted to the inner planet ships, before quickly flying towards the remaining HLA fleet and joining the left wing drone fleet in the assault. The Venusian ships followed closely behind to paint the targets with lasers while also burning their communication arrays.

Two dozen signatures lit up on radar of the battered defenders, which subsequently turned blue. “This is Captain Rosland of the MAS Howl of Yangtze, thanks for delaying the enemy and thinning their numbers. Triton’s defense system is now online. We’ll take it from here.” Inner system frigates unleashed fleets of drones they’ve been carrying, while Neptunian vessels better fitted for combat fired PDC rounds that shredded radiators and outcropping hard points. The HLA fired back with withering fire, but as their railguns were torn from their bases, the ships were quickly silenced.

“Capture what remains of the fleet, and get the debris under control.” The drone fleets moved into the battlefield, completely disabling the HLA ships by shooting holes through the vessel engines, then movers swarmed the hulls of the ships, latching onto them and taking control. Other...
 
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