It has been a while, a long while since I last started a thread in this section. man, a real long time since I wrote anything significant. So here we are, a Macross/Battletech crossover. The idea itself lodged in my brain some time ago, the question was how to execute it, powerlevels can be very different and then there is how to keep things on an even field. But there is some themes in common, both are or can be very dark, depending the setting. Oh yeah, Macross likes to paint it pastel, but beneath it all, the colonization fleets are a desperate attempt to avoid extinction while navigating a milky way devastated by a long raging civil war... a long raging civil war, doesn't that sound familiar? Anyway, please do give me your opinions and if any of you wants to volunteer for beta work, I'd be really thankful. Edit: corrected an issue with naming conventions, it should have been Northampton Frigates instead of Southampton. Not sure how I made that one. also a small change about the Dyson's docked vessels for clarity's sake but kudos to Necromechanoid for spoiting it and for volunteering for Beta Work. Ah, and if somebody with Battletech knowledge and the masochism for beta work wants to volunteer, I could still use an additional beta Chapters: Prologue ( see below ) Chapter one Chapter two System KTX-1748 May 4th 2048 KTX-1748 was a mostly unremarkable system. Its six planets had potential for industrial exploitation, but nothing outside the norm, even its star, a red dwarf, was rather uninteresting and disappointingly normal. The only exception to this was Anatole, the fourth planet, and it wasn't anything from the planet itself. It was a barren rock, rich in ores, and a potentially interesting place for industrial exploitation, except it was in the middle of nowhere, so far. The real price was the wreckage. Perhaps 70 years prior the Galactic Civil war, a war that had been raging for over 500.000 years, had come to Anatole. A Zentradi fleet had clashed with a Supervision Army force in and around the fourth planet. Leaving countless hulls in the Lagrange points, particularly the L4 and in orbit of Anatole itself. The planet also had craters and scorch marks conclusive with a massive orbital bombardment, one on the scale of the one suffered by Earth during the latter stages of Space War I. To put it plainly, it was a real find. Admiral Reuben Thomes couldn't help but grin at the report. The Space Navy, or Spacy for short, was always hungry for hulls even if they were second hand. Thomes command, the 53rd Autonomous Exploration Fleet, was amongst the smallest standalone forces the Spacy fielded, with only 35 military vessels, and the large majority of them being Northampton Frigates. For him this was not only an opportunity to scrounge intel data on the local Supervision Army and Zentradi forces, if any remained, it was also a chance add something more to the 53rd order of battle. “Currently we have all our survey teams combing the main field at the L4 spot” Stated Comodore Vifol Duperiale in her trademark monotone, “mostly on the hulls that match our needs, but I also have a team on the one Nupitiet.” She said referring to the only command battleship identified so far. “The hull is a total loss, I fear, but we might be able to salvage its datacore”. Vifol was of Zentradi descent, she was a tall woman with viridian hair and an athletic build and some said she was built like a Zentradi commander and had the disposition to match. Though never in her presence. “Good, and what about the Supervision Army Hulks?” asked Reuben. “I was hoping we could... delay that survey until the convoy gets here.” She responded with a hint of concern. Once they had made the find, they had contacted the UN command, both about the find and requesting permission to set shop, as it were. Reply had been swift, or at least as swift as possible given their current FTL lag, and even then a large scale convoy was gathering at Proxima and should be arriving within the next tree months. “however, if you wish for me to, I can order the 16th to abandon their current survey, a Quiltra Queleual LST and...” “It won't be necessary,” he interrupted waving one arm “We better leave that to the Convoy.” Truth be told Thomes was as apprehensive of messing with Supervision Army derelicts as much as the next man. It was a dangerous task better left to the professionals. Last time mankind had messed with one without care had ended up in the near extinction of the species, after all. ***** System KTX-1748 Hull designated 227, Quiltra Queleual LST May 5th 2048 It was dark, and quiet as a pair of Helot Mk 3 made their ways though the abandoned corridors. The Helot was a modification of the Spartan II Main Battle Robot, one of the first generation destroids originally introduced by the UN in 2008. The Helots had been designed for a rear echelon role, and even for the civilian market as hostile environ survey units. Most of its weapon payload had been stripped and in place it carried tools and sensors within its twin pods. Though most didn't mean all, they still retained the Anti air cannon and a pair of lasers from the pods themselves. It was one of the many teams that had been scouring the ship for the last two days. Salvage was a dangerous job, not only they had to navigate though wreckage, but also mark unexploded ordnance for the demo teams and Salvage for the retrieval teams back at the base camp. Atmo was long gone and so was gravity control, that meant they had to use the magnetic grappling to move around. That slowed the affair significantly Surprisingly, there was still some power to the ship. But lightning was too dim to be of any use. Not that it mattered to the Helot with their chest mounted FLIR, forward looking infra red, turret In the cockpit of the Helot 107 “Devil Dog” Victor Enis was frowning. He had been a surveyor for the last fifteen years and yet this was the first time he was working on a derelict. Felt a bit too much like grave robbing to him. The Ship hadn't looked bad in the outside, but the inside? That was a whole different thing. It was full of detritus... detritus, yeah, call it by the proper name old chap, he though, corpses, junk, shrapnel, unexploded ordnance and what not. A nice clean name to an ugly thing. The Queleuals had been designed by the long gone Protoculture to support ground action but they also served as support and supply vessels. Their three kilometers long hulls could dedicate large areas to hangars and cargo holds. Weaponwise it was a bit of a lemon, at least for anti shipping duties. Still you always had to sacrifice something, and for the roles it filled, a large arsenal of weapons weren't as important, just enough to support invasion, chiefly bombardment, and to defend itself. Hull 227 had probably been a supply variant, at least given the large amount of salvage and detritus the teams had found so far. Victor Enis might have had second thoughts about the job, but it was his, and he was going to do it, even if he'd rather be at The Variation enjoying a nice cold beer. “Well boss, what do you think? Is she worth it?” the Radio crackled to life. The voice belonged to Astor Phink, his wingman. “It better be, Astor” he half muttered “Stores should be worth something at least, saw quite a few reaction warheads back in the last hold” “Yeah, still, damn what a luck” Astor complained. Much like Victor, he wasn't too fond of abandoned warships “Sigh, hey kid, its ok, we will be out of here in a while and be able to hit the Variation for happy hour” “Heh, sounds good” “Wait a sec, seems the bulkhead for the next store area is closed” Victor said as he stopped his machine. Zentradi vessels of the same class were all identical no matter were had they been built and they had the plans to them all. That was one of the lucky breaks for the salvage teams, it meant all teams not only knew were they where but where they were going. “Huh, yeah. See it. So we call it up?” “Nah,” Victor drawled as he flipped the master arm switch, “we got lazers kid. We'll burn a hole in and then I'll dismount and take a peak.” Saying that, the Devil dog begun moving again, this time with a purpose, as the twin pods opened up exposing its weapons to the emptiness. It wasn't the arsenal carried by its military cousin, but the pair of Astra lasers were all that was needed to make swift work, for a certain value of swift, of the bulkhead. “Ok, go ahead, Devil dog” Muttered Astor, hesitatingly. For his part Enis couldn't help but smile, it had been some time since he had used the Astra Lasers, but some things were easy to remember. “Like riding a bicycle,” he muttered. And with that he pressed the trigger. The Hypercarbon alloy of the bulkhead first begun to scorch and then to burn as the pair of lasers unloaded their payload with surgical precision. Twenty minutes later, the cutting done, Victor moved his machine forward and using the Norman Banks claws, his machine's “hands” he retrieved the cut segment and set it to a side where it floated obliviously. “Ok, that took a bit longer than I thought” muttered Victor though the radio, “I am going to check my seals and prepare for EVA” “Roger.” With trained ease, the Surveyor went over the checklist and then accessed the mecha's survival locker. Most of it were non applicable for the situation, but the heavy duty flashlight on the other hand was a different matter. Specially given how dark it was outside. It with an almost inaudible hiss that the main hatch opened, exposing Victor Enis' Cockpit to the vacuum. It only took a swift action to undo the harness fastening him to the Helot and then, then, he was in freefall. “Checking radio, you read me, Kid?” he rasped into his headset “Loud and Clear, you sure you want to go through with this one, old timer?” came the prompt reply. “Hehehe, of course,” he said with a laugh. Even if he was still apprehensive about the grave robing, he liked EVAs. Plus there was the curiosity of the surveyor in him, this had been the first Bulkhead he had seen closed, so far, which was strange. One would have expected most of them closed for combat ops. Victor had no manned maneuvering unit, or MMU, but as a seasoned spacehand, Zero G ops weren't a problem. With a light movement he was free of his couch and of the cockpit and moving, floating, towards the gap he had created. The hole was far larger than what he needed, but it was for the best, really. The edges were still glowing hot and would do so for quite the while. He knew better than to try for a snug fit. “Ok, I am inside.” While the outside had been in a twilight, the inside was pitch dark. No light fixtures seemed to have survived or, more likely, the last Quartermaster had turned the lightning off before leaving the room for the last time. “So, see anything?” “I am working on it,” he said as he fumbled with his flashlight. “Oh, there it go, now let me have a look...” “Ah, old timer, you ok?” Astor's voice was somewhat hesitant. “Victor?” he said some time latter, using his senior's first name, somewhat nervous. “Ah, sorry bout that kid, ah, we have a situation,” came the reply, an eternity, perhaps thirty seconds, latter. “A situation?” “Oh yeah, better contact the higher ups,” he said, as he watched the gigantic head, of a Meltrandi, a female Zentradi, floating peacefully on a, as far as he could tell, very active stasis chamber. ******** Admiral Reuben Thomes, looked at the report with a degree of disbelief and the hint of a coming headache. “A full regiment of Meltrandi on ice?” he half muttered. Reuben had expected complications when he ordered the salvage ops. It was part of the deal, still the deal generally was dealing with unexploded ordnance, or to decide which hull would be salvaged first. Moral issues weren't included or expected. “We need to defrost them” Commodore Duperiale said matter-of-factly. “That we do, I am more concerned about the how. This fleet has no miclone chamber and we don't really have the amenities to accommodate full sized Zentradi” he said with a sigh, “Still it does solve the issue on which ship we will be salvaging first” “Silver lining?” “I'd say. And once we have restored atmo to that hold we can see about defrost them” he scratched his chin, “In the mean time we will be moving the fleet to the L4 and dispatch the Fortune Eight,” he said referring to the Fleet's lone Tristar industrial vessel, “to dock with the Queleual. Though the Yardships and Whales are to stand by, I'd rather have them work on Quelamitz monitors. Though do contact the Whales and see if they can fab us a miclone chamber as well. They should have the schematics.” With a salute, Vifol Duperiale left the room. Reuben returned her salute and begun rereading the report. It was going to be a logistical nightmare, not to mention they were going to be dealing with programmed clones He was going to have to talk to Dr. Fraga, maybe she could do something about the protoculture programming. ******* Doctor Elizabeth Fraga was the Fleet's senior scientist. She was short and well past middle age, her hair once platinum blonde was now mostly white but was still vigorous and more than a little peculiar. She also had a shark like grin, but that was mostly situational. It wasn't everyday your boss asked you to try something new. The Spacy had dabbled with clones before, with the parentless generation following SWI, but not with the imprinting, at least not in the way the Admiral was asking. During the decanting of the parentless generation, the clones themselves had been imprinted with some knowledge, there had been no time to raise an army of children, too much to do during those hectic years and the clones themselves had been adults, or of adult development. But this was different, this was dealing or rather fine tuning an existing template into something more malleable. “Oh, I can do it, no doubt about it, the question is, Sir, what are we going to overwrite it with” Dr. Fraga stated. “Nothing too drastic. Just give them freedom, Elisabeth. We are going to walk a fine line as it is.” he added with a grim finality. System KTX-1748 UNS Pioneer May 14th 2048 The Macross class Freeman J. Dyson (SDF-37) was the heart of the 53rd. She, like most of her class, had been built following a derivative of the SDF-2 specifications, with one exception, instead of having two ARMD platforms permanently docked, for added Variable fighter support, she carried only one ARMD and one Marne LST platforms with the latter giving the fleet a much needed number of destroids. Most of them were of civilian make or civilian uses, like the Helots deployed by the survey teams, but they also maintained a reinforced regiment of military destroids. She was, in many ways a marvel, and more than capable of squaring off against the newer New Macross class vessels. Cheaper too. She was also in a very bad situation. “Status” barked Admiral Thomes as he entered the combat information center “Unknown, Sir. Defold activity started at 0400 Hs,” the watch officer stated, “and hasn't stopped since. We count at least five thousand hulls so far, that is five, zero, zero, zero hulls, all of Zentradi design and IFF” Reuben Thomes could see the holoscreen dominating the room, in it the representation of the system was marked with angry red spots somewhere near the L5 of the second planet, Kest, where the Zentradi force was still appearing. “Have they detected us?” “No, not yet” “Good, let's keep it that way, we will remain in the debris field so far. Assign Azure and Viridian as pickets and have them keep an eye for us.” He paused a second to analyze the data before him “They appear to be forming onto a fleet, but Kest is pretty bare bones for that.” “We haven't surveyed these planets at any real depth, sir” Duperial added in her own monotone. “True,” he admitted as he continued to watch the ships appear. All told, it took a half hour for all the vessels, some 15.000 all told, to materialize in and around the L5 spot for Kest, after that they begun moving in a tight formation towards said planet. “Very Strange.” stated Vifol Duperiale “Agreed. They seem to be expecting battle, and soon.” he turned towards the watch officer. “What do you think, Commander Abramson?” “I agree sir,” the younger man responded, “the formation seems to be Claw Blue, not only they are expecting trouble, they are expecting overwhelming problem.” Zentradi tended to go into battle with superiority of numbers on their side, most of their tactics centered around that fact, but they did had a few for when things weren't so, Claw Blue was one of these, perhaps one of the most pessimist of them as well. The fact that the Zentradi commander had chosen that formations furthered the mystery. “they are also moving at a very conservative speed.” “So he expects all hell to break loose?” said Reuben while scratching his chin “That would be my analysis, sir” came the prompt reply from Abramson. Five hours later, the Zentradi fleet had taken orbit around Kest. Upon reaching the planet's geosynchronous orbit, the alien fleet opened up its formation a bit and then, their monitors opened fire at the planet below. “They opened fire, just like that.” Commodore Duperiale said, looking at the screen, there was a tinge of disbelief in her voice that broke her usual monotones, denoting how bizarre things were getting. in a normal situation, the alien fleet would have taken orbit around the planet before unleashing their broadsides, but here they were just firing as they came into range. “This is getting surreal, Vifol, you think the Zentradi Commander might be malfunctioning in some way?” “I...” she seemed to struggle for the words, “That might be the case but...”whatever she as going to say got swallowed by an alert klaxon. “Fold wave distortions detected,” stated the senior sensor officer “Intensity six, no eight. No," Her voice seemed to dry up for a second. “We have a dimensional fault reverberating thought the system, this is...” Unnatural was the word unsaid. And it was. but that wasn't the real issue. “We won't be able to fold” Admiral Thomes muttered. Inside he was seething, this was getting ridiculous. “A supervision army trap?” he asked his Commodore “Not a very good trap if it is all there is to it” That was something to consider. Even if the fold fluctuations would stop them from jumping out, there was nothing stopping them from slowboating out of the area of effect. Sure it might take a few months, depending how far the effect reached, but... But it was too easy an answer for the effort it would have been needed to prepare the trap. The energy cost needed to create the number of faults alone was simply astonishing. “No, I reckon you are right” he removed his hat and passed a hand though his hair “Still, contact Fraga, have her detail as much as her personnel onto this. Priority one.” “Understood” ******* Four hours latter, the other shoe dropped. Fraga's people came with the missing piece of the puzzle. It wasn't good news. “The Sun is going nova?” again it was Commodore Duperiale's voice, and again it was spotting emotion. A whole new record for her on duty persona. “At an alarming rate, Commodore,” Doctor Elizabeth Fraga chided. “How long?” asked Admiral Thomes, this time it was him using monotone. “A few days at best,” came Fraga's reply. “Is there anything we can do about this?” Thomes asked. “Well, there might be something, Sir.” There was a hint of a smile on Elizabeth Fraga's face. “Doctor?” “Well, Dimension Faults aren't unbreakable, they are just very tough to navigate.” the Dyson's chief engineer, Mitchelson, gave a look of disbelief. “That is a real understatement, doctor.” Tadeus Mitchelson exclaimed. “But not nearly as bad as you might think chief Mitchelson” Elisabeth paused, “One of my colleagues, Dr Andreesean, had suggested it might be possible to trigger a clear spot within a fault and use it to jump. A fold within a fold, quite an interesting concept,” she said with a certain fascination, “I never thought I'd be in a position to test it.” “How big a hole?” Came the Admiral's question. “Big enough for all of us, I think. I'd have to run some numbers, but given that we are in a Lagrange point ourselves, we should have room to spare. Though” she paused, “it might be a tad more difficult to hit the target location successfully.” “As long as we are out of here... Chief what do you think” Reuben said turning towards his subordinate Mitchelson remained silent for a minute, before we answered. “It might work, but we might also end up with our insides out. I've heard of Dr Andreesan's theories, but they are just that, theories.” he rubbed his chin, “then again its not like we have any other options.” he turned towards Doctor Fraga, “Doctor, do you have any tolerances in mind for the fold drives?” “There are some, yes, I will go over them with you afterward.” she responded. “Then we are in agreement.” Admiral Thomes stated, “I am clearing all our available resources to work on this one, good luck to us all.” ****** It took two days to prepare the fleet, that included moving some of the derelicts within the fleet perimeter and moving others outside of it. The ships tractored in were mostly too engaged by the salvage ops to fully disengage within the time frame or were the ships already socked with the yardships or the Tristar. In the end, Dr. Fraga and Engineer Mitchelson had agreed on the Highland class industrial ships as the ones to pull the twin folds. The Highlands, sometimes called Whales, were originally Zentradi LSTs conversions. With a far lesser capacity than the purpose built Tristars and lacking the built in dock to accommodate warships for maintenance, making the Whales rely on the fleet's dedicated yardships. Still, they were also more common and more cheaper than their purpose built cousins. Additionally, the Ships' fold drives were both powerful, rugged and identical. Not to mention that, even in a worse case scenario, the fleet could loose them both. Only skeleton, all volunteer, crews were left within their hulls. The morale in the fleet had taken a plunge, but only so far, most people were busy and they were all working for their survival. Too busy to fret, at least for the moment. The Dyson CIC still showed the images of the Zentradi fleet, surprisingly they had kept bombarding the same spot of Kest but had made no other moves. “Hard to think they've kept the bombardment for the past two days” Muttered Admiral Thomes. He turned towards a holoscreen. “Well Doctor, seems we might yet live though today” “Posh, don't be such a Pessimist, Admiral. All is ready on my end” Came the prompt reply. The doctor had chosen to weather the jump from the UNS Detroit Blue, the Highland that was going to pull the second jump. Her clothing was stained and dirty, and so was her hair. It was a rather shocking image compared to the always prim and proper Doctor he knew, it somehow drove the point of how dire things were. “If you say so, Doctor. All is ready on your end?” “Yes, and I gotten word from Mitchelson, all is ready on his end over the Sao Pablo Gold” Much like her Tadeus Mitchelson had opted to oversee the final fine tuning aboard the other Highland. It was a bit reckless on their part, but it was also within their duties and it was a morale lift, something the fleet could use. And if it didn't work... but Reuben squashed that idea before it could fully form. “Very Well, then the order is given” he said to the CIC at large, “commence fold operation.” The holoscreen disappeared as the CIC burst into action. Countdowns begun to flash, and chekclist begun to be completed. For his part, Reuben Thomes, sat down in his chair and fastened the harness. He had done his part, now he was going to wait the consequences. “Five mines to fold. All personnel to their jump stations, I repeat” the PA declared aloud. “five minutes to fold. All personnel to their jump stations.” And then, an eternity latter, the familiar fold distortions started to fill the bridge. In the end, they beat the shock wave by a full six hours.