Federation-Apocalypse Session 133 – Hellstorm versus Spellstorm

   The gate to Kuat Shipyards was straightforward enough – and several hundred of the neodogs with positive-energy channeling abilities were already coming through a psychic gate of their own; it looked like several variants of the magical gate-opening package that Kevin had thrown together for the Lunar Inversion bunch had become popular secondary Kadian staff identities – and it was making keeping the offices connected and making emergency shipments much easier.

   The Forgelight – Ryan’s counter to the Hellstorm – was pretty much ready to go. All it needed was to be infused with holy energies.

   Marty was wondering about just how that was supposed to work. How DID you wedge an angels holy energies into a starship? Mass channeling? Have her channel? Have her possess the drives? (Hey, it apparently worked for demons!). Hammers, duct tape, and WD40? After all, that did work for pretty much everything!

   Kevin had other notions… He was pretty much expecting that the Hellstorm and Revan would show up to stop them, even if they had been lurking and recruiting at the last report. They might have stolen a march on them – even the most powerful precognitive would have trouble keeping track of all the things that he and Marty might get up to at a moments notice, or tracking their activities across the dimensions – but they’d probably notice soon. Ryan had doubtless tried to shield things, but Revan would have the home field advantage in the New Imperium.

   As far as getting holy energies into the Forgelight, Ryan presumably had SOMETHING planned.

   Hm… It seemed like there wasn’t much of a crew on board – another concealment attempt? – and Ryan had se up a mystical runic circle attuned to holy energies that she could stand in and which only needed final tuning. The circle acted as an interface to the ship’s own energies and systems, responding to gestures, words or even intent. A binding rune could be placed in the circle, which would allow the interface to continue working after the angel had left the runic circle – as long as she had the other portion of the link.

   Well that was straightforward enough… He had one of the thralls whip up a minor relic for her: a ring which incorporated a mystical link for her power. That was pretty minor – and freed her to spend her time on the bridge instead – or teaching the Neodogs, whom she didn’t mind working with at all. .

   They’d barely gotten everyone aboard when the local defense forces began mobilizing. It looked like… fleet assets had been arriving in bulk, roughly since the time they’d left the Emperor. The military channels were lit up with a lot of heavily encrypted traffic.

   Well, the Emperor was a precognitive too. They’d just have to work hard at surprising him. At least it implied that the Forgelight was a credible threat.

(Kevin) “Botheration… Hey! I wonder if the local bookies are still taking bets?! What do you think Marty?”

(Marty) “Hey, if they’re anything like my dad, YES!”

(Kevin) “Want to place a few bets on how soon the attack comes? And who wins?”

(Marty) ” Sure, why not?”

   Meanwhile… With a skeleton engineering crew aboard, they demanded a report as to anything else aboard that needed to be finished up. Fortunately, the ship was currently complete as far as the technological systems went. The magical and psionic systems were in the midst of powering up – which was rather odd to watch, as the ships structure began to glow from within. Even the floor panels were glowing with a soft internal light… As far as the power levels went, the internal magical and technological power levels were good. The negative energy reserves were charging, as were the holy energy reserves – both of which were currently at about 20%.

   Marty had quietly taken over the bridge as pilot. The engineering staff weren’t really prepared to operate the ship in combat – and no one really objected to Kevin and Marty simply assuming that they were in command. There hadn’t been any debate about that kind of thing since their visit to the Silmaril Wars of Middle Earth.

   It looked like the negative energy was being handled by the internal systems,

(Marty) “Kevin? Could you give the negative energy reserves a little boost? That’s not really my field”.

   Well, the Neodogs could help Menthas channel positive energy easily enough so Kevin started pouring negative energy into the reserves… It looked like simply generating it directly would work best. Spells would be slightly more powerful, but the ship would have a harder time handling them.

   Fortunately, there were no major containment leaks. The lights flickered as some harmonics were generated before the automatic systems kicked in to tune the filters.

   They had one of the local Thralls place their bets for them. Attack by the Hellstorm and Revan within the hour, victory for the Forgelight, and less than 20% casualties among the local defense fleet!

   They got pretty good odds.

   In the meantime, Menthas was outdoing herself in channeling positive energy into the Forgelight’s sacred energy reserves – and, while she hadn’t had time to train the Neodogs, they were adaptable – and telepathic – enough to be helping her reasonably effectively anyway.

   However, a variety of alarms were going off on Marty’s displays… the scanners were picking up a large number of unidentified hyperspace incursions into local space. They didn’t match any of the ships currently in the local registry – and many of them were rather large and were launching secondary ships.

   Kevin had one of his aides set up a link to the negative energy systems, so he could keep on filling them up while heading up to the bridge.

(Marty) “Hoo boy. Looks like company’s coming!”

(Kevin) “As expected. Botheration. Oh well. I guess that we’re in command, given that – as one of Ryan’s ships – this thing is going to be highly automated, and I’d bet almost the entire crew at the moment is made up of the Thralls we just sent.”

   Marty went looking for the weapons summary as the ship switched to a holographic display of nearby space. The planet was clearly visible, along with the orbital shipyards. Planetary and orbital defense systems had been powered up and were glowing green on the display… The local fleet seemed to be composed of some three hundred military ships – six super star destroyers, one hundred and twenty star destroyers, a hundred and forty cruisers, and a scattering of assorted support craft.

   Fighters, shuttles, minor defense satellites, and similar system were too small to show on this scale; there were thousands of the things.

   Even for Kevin and Marty, that was mildly impressive. The New Imperium had a LOT of ships.

   Meanwhile, Marty’s weapon survey had turned up a full complement of antimatter torpedoes, turbolasers, interdictors, thirty orb-class remote shields/weapons units (with the capacity for one hundred and twenty), the shields themselves, metastable spatial distortions encased in something not entirely clear, and the gravitational singularity generator – and yes, the shield systems could be configured to act as giant lightsabers.

   Marty thought that was pretty neat! Especially when the reach was about two kilometers – and more when the remote units were used to assist.

(Kevin) “Nifty! Too much Anime, but still Nifty!”

(Marty) “Oh come on! It’s a starship WITH LIGHTSABERS! How can you go wrong with that?”

   There looked to be… 412 inbound hyperspatial incursions on the outskirts of the system. The overall composition of the force looked to be similar to local fleet – and, once again, the thousands of fighters were not even being displayed. The enemy fleet was currently powering up their shields and moving into formation to push into the outer defensive layer.

(Computer) “Would you like to feed target data with local defense forces?”

(Kevin) “Why not?”

   The planetary defense forces sent them an urgent message:

(Planetary Defense) “Are your propulsion systems operational? If so, please vacate an arc from 327 degrees to 314 degrees.”

   Ah, they must be planning to fire something large. Marty started the engines to get out of the way…

(Kevin) “Marty? Want to try to take out Revan or whatever-his-name-is?”

(Marty) “Sure, let’s use the lightsabers on him!”

(Kevin) “I was thinking of a personal boarding action…”

   Marty – in his local identity as “Darrick Rodan, daredevil smuggler and pilot” settled in at the controls to fly the Forgelight out of the way. Despite not being entirely prepared for the massive acceleration that occurred as he hit the thrust, he managed to avoid colliding with any the ships in the Forgelight’s path – as he moved out at several times the speed he would have expected of a ship of such size. At the rate it was moving, they’d be well outside the defense perimeter in a matter of moments – and closing with the enemy forces inside a minute.

   Marty grinned and went for it. There was no strategy like diving straight into the middle of things and kicking the guts out of an attack from the inside! It made for a wonderful target-rich environment!

   Kevin had to agree. Despite the obliging nature of the New Imperium when it came to range, he’d need to be quite close to the fleet before he could do much of anything. A voice was speaking to him – an archetypical will, focused through an identity so powerful that it had already touched several of his other identities in derivative worlds.

(Kevin) “Marty… We’ll need to be in the middle of the fleet. I think I can cut down the odds a bit.”

(Marty) “All right! Full speed ahead! To the fleet!”

   Kevin hoped that no friendlies would be this insane. There were limits to his control.

   In the meantime, the fixed-base planetary defenses were firing as Marty made sure to keep the ship out of their way. A massive burst of energy blasted from the planet into the center of the enemy fleet. The first ships were almost instantly vaporized – but before the blast could take out many ships, a red barrier suddenly materialized around most of the fleet. The beam impacted the barrier – and was reflected at them… Marty managed to avoid the brunt of the blast, but several systems were already reporting damage. Still, they had now reached the edge of the enemy fleet.

   The defending fleet was moving up to attack in support of their insane charge – after all, they had been assigned to defend the Forgelight – but it would be at least a minute before they could close. Say what you might about Ryan’s disasters, he build good ships.

   Kevin was scowling… The barrier was still up – and it looked like infernal energies arranged into a reflection barrier.

   He reached for power – and tapped into his identity in Faerun. Faerun, however, was still linked to Tolkien – and an echo of the Twisted Song of the Ainur, of the dark power of Melkor, a fallen god, now rang like iron within the voice of Kevelian.

   (In game terms, Kevin had simply added “Finesse/can use Charisma in place of Constitution for the Glory ability” to his Faerun identity – a mere six character points, but a considerable boost to his ability to throw truly massive area-of-effect spells thanks to his grotesquely high Charisma Modifier. A reality bubble let his call on his powers from Faerun, and he could throw in Mana to boost his spellcasting, Dominion to add additional boosts, and Glory to expand the area vastly – enough to target an entire fleet. That expended resources that he would rather conserve, revealed powers that he preferred to remain secretive about, and carried it’s own risks – but to defeat the Hellstorm, he would pull out all the stops – adding sixteen levels of bonus metamagic to his basic seventh-level spells).

   Kevin gazed at the oncoming enemy fleet – and his aspect as the Darkness-that-Defends rose. The ebon fire of the night, a radiant blackness, burned around him and forged his words like iron upon an anvil. Rarely did he have so many Thralls nearby to support him – and the Hellstorm had threatened the Core Worlds, over which he stood as guardian. That could not be permitted.

   The pitiless black hellfire poured through him – and reached out to engulf the enemy fleet as it opened fire upon the Forgelight, blasting outwards from the bridge (and incidentally destroying the bridge window and forcing the emergency backup force field to engage) in a wave of darkness that Kevin had never before permitted. For once, the Dark Lord was truly unleashed.

  •    Ilia Mittetur in Tenebras! Annihilus Wave! (Disintegrate (L6), Brackish (Unabsorbable by devices and entities, +4 Spell Levels), and Fleet-Sized (+13 Spell Levels of Area).
  •    Umbra Furorem Mortemque Inruet Super Vos! Nightmare Storm! (Phantasmal Killer (L4), +6 on save DC (+2 Spell Levels), Brackish (Unabsorbable/Blockable by Mechanisms and entities (+4 SL), and Fleet-Sized (+13 Spell Levels of Area).
  •    Servi Defectio! Unliving Uprising! (Reprogramming (to cause all droids and computers that failed to resist to rebel against their commanders, L4), +6 on save DC (+2 Spell Levels), Brackish (Unabsorbable/Unblockable by Mechanisms and entities (+4 SL), and Fleet-Sized (+13 Spell Levels of Area).

   The planetary defenses had taken out fifty-three ships… Another one hundred and twenty-one dissolved before Kevin’s wave of annihilation – while most of the others were in serious trouble, with major portions of their crews dropping dead or going mad while their systems rebelled.

   Marty maneuvered frantically; whatever it was that had happened to Kevin, and whatever he’d done to the enemy ships – (had the kid really just personally destroyed… forty-three star destroyers, two super star destroyers, a bunch of lesser ships, and god knew how many fighters? No wonder he kept such a rigid lock on his power most places they went! Or… he’d sounded a lot like he had as Melkor there… Tulkas had warned them that those identities might tend to stick or carry over. Was he going to have to drag Kevin back out of the darkness by himself?) – there was quite a lot of firepower coming their way.

   Come to think of it, the Star Wars ship design – where nothing stood between the command staff and incoming firepower except the ships shields and a really big window – was probably not quite ideal.

   Menthas sighed. The boy was still, like most mortals, balanced between the light and darkness. Like anyone who could control the power of an Opener he was strong-willed indeed – and he had chosen well for a child. He was still restraining the evil of the abyssal energies he’d been infused with, and was even channeling them into the defense of others – but it would be far better if he turned to the light for power instead. Hadn’t they expressed their willingness to help him? Was he THAT determined to prevent the darkness from finding a more congenial host? It would be far less dangerous in the hands of someone who was not so powerful – and able to freely travel the dimensions – already!

   The boards showed innumerable minor hits, and four major ones – despite his inspired piloting. The automatic systems had somehow deflected most of the incoming shots at other ships – but the computer wanted to launch the remote orbs and there were more damage lights. He’d better launch those orbs – and get his weapons going – while he had something left.

   Back in the supporting fleet, the commanders were dealing with a considerable shock. Whatever that had been – and it looked like some kind of Force Storm on a planetary scale – it wasn’t one of the Forgelights weapons! It had come from the ships bridge! That could only be… someone’s personal power! What the hell were they following into battle?

   And did it need them at all?

   Marty – having launched the Orbs – was heading for the Hellstorm and a boarding action. He wanted to go and personally talk to Revan! Too bad that it was probably going to be too risky to refocus the shields into the lightsaber ram at the moment! Maybe if it was Marty’s own ship, but this one wasn’t!

   The Orbs arranged themselves into a polygonal formation around the ship. Extra layers of shielding went up – and the targeting data improved – but the ship lost some maneuverability. Oh well, ramming didn’t require that much!

   Meanwhile, Kevin had remembered that they really ought to let Ryan know that an attack was underway. Oh well! That was what multi-tracking was for!

   The enemy fleet – or what was left of it – was moving to encircle the ship and impede the ability of the defending fleet to support it. The enemy ship actions were rather sluggish though – and several ships had lost all steering. Some of them were even starting to collide…

(Kevin) “Marty? I can do a few more grandiose spells – but not too many!”

(Marty) “Hmm. Save one for possibly fixing the ship then!”

   Marty was busy blasting away with the “metastable spatial distortions”. They sounded cool!

   OK, so he wasn’t a very good shot, but quite a lot of the enemy ships seemed to be sitting ducks at the moment! They were easy to take out!

   The Hellstorm, however, was still at the center of what was left of the fleet. Curiously, it wasn’t firing at them… Hm. Was it aware of their presence and respecting their contract, or was it simply mystically bound by it? They’d asked for a guarantee that it wouldn’t attack us, or any ship, installation, or planet they were on: it hadn’t asked for a similar guarantee from them (it probably didn’t think one necessary at the time).

   Kevin advised Marty to stick with targeting the fleet for the moment.

(Ryan) “Under attack?! Already?”

(Kevin) “Yep! Come now, you’re fighting a precognitive with massive powers, and just were presented with the last component needed for your ship. What did you expect?”

(Ryan) “I expected the divinatory wards to hold up. Alright, let me get a lock on you, I’m bringing some resources.”

   Marty started pulling back towards the safety of the defense fleet – and quite a few of the still-functional enemy ships tried to pursue or launched (very annoying) homing missiles.

   Kevin decided to unleash another massive spell – filling the space through which the enemy fleet was accelerating with an immobile network of force-planes for the enemy to collide with. Even if they had enough negative-energy shielding to handle the collision, it would drain a lot of their shield-reserves – and if they didn’t, it should really mess them up.

  •    Leti Etheric Crystallum! Etheric Crystal! (A short-term but extra-strong Web of Force (L6), Brackish (Unabsorbable by devices and entities, +4 Spell Levels), and Fleet-Sized (+13 Spell Levels of Area).

   Most of the missiles hit the force-planes too. Several tremendous explosions went off behind them – and the shield systems went completely black for a moment as the various shockwaves approached. Marty was flying blind until the shields opened viewports again…

   Meanwhile, Menthas had full charged the sacred energy reserves – the Neodogs had been supplying an endless sea of power – and had been working on a mystical ritual. She let it loose with a raising of her hands, enveloping the ship in a golden bubble of holy force.

(Menthas) “Weapons fire should now be being purified as they approach.”

(Marty) “And by purified you mean disintegrated in holy light?”

(Menthas) “Yes, although it does seem this ship is configured to absorb energies quite readily. It should prove a potent combination.”

   Just about then, a gateway appeared on the bridge as Ryan and a half dozen others stepped through.

(Ryan) “Alright, how many ships on each side?”

(Kevin) “Oh, we started out at four hundred and twelve major enemy ships, there are… (Kevin peered at the tracking data… it looked like the force-planes had taken out another eighty who’s shields had failed to respond appropriately and collisions had removed about twenty more) a hundred and thirty-six left, most of them fairly crippled. The fleet on our side hasn’t yet engaged. The planetary systems did fire off a burst though.

(Marty) “On our side there are three hundred-odd major military ships, including six super star destroyers, and 120 star destroyers. Oh yeah, and a bunch of support ships too.”

(Kevin) “Back that way I think!”

(Ryan) “I thought I told them never to use that damned thing. Some people will never learn it seems… Have you thought to fire off the interdictors yet?”

(Marty) “I was going to go with the metastable spatial distortions, but it’s your ship.”

   Marty got the interdictors going. It would keep the rest of the fleet from retreating into hyperspace too quickly. The interdictors might get some of the defenders too, but then they probably weren’t planning on jumping anyway. Their morale was probably pretty good at the moment.

   A visible distortion of the starry background spread outwards from the Firgelight. The hyperdrive controls went red with warning indicators about interdiction currently in progress.

   Kevin decided to spend another major spell – and sent serpents of black and yellow fire racing out, as he called upon the sulphur of the philosophers…

   His last few major spells would just have to remain in reserve.

  •    Philosophos Transmutationem! Awaken the Sleeping Serpent! (Transform Metal to Mercury, (L6), Brackish (Unabsorbable by devices and entities, +4 Spell Levels), and Fleet-Sized (+13 Spell Levels of Area).

   Many of the remaining enemy ships started moving in a rather odd fashion, as if made of taffy. A number of them were turning spherical and giving off very weird energy readings. Even more were out of control or simply drifting.

(Ryan) “Right, that should prevent it from escaping as long as we are near it I am going to summon more remote units. Try to see what you can do to bring that infernal shield down.”

(Marty) “Right!”

   Would a positive energy blast would help?

(A young woman, who moved in to sit beside Marty.) “Hi, I’m Jessica, would you mind if I take the weapons controls?”

(Marty) “Sure, honey, knock yourself out.”

   Jessica sat down and started poking ineffectively at the weapons panel as her clothing morphed into that of an Imperial officer.

(Jessica) “Ah, there we go, it takes a moment for the shift to complete.”

   Kevin was musing… Ways to take down a demonic barrier. 1) Kill the demon projecting it. 2) Disrupt the ritual generating it. 3) Hammer it with an equivalent or greater amount of Holy energy. 4) Find the specific weakness and use that. 5) Absorb all the energy that had gone into the barrier into yourself.

   Nah, Marty would kill him if he tried that.

   Well… he could try the focusing spell or go for holy energy with Dragonfire – although that would require that he be almost on top of the barrier – or they could hop over and make it personal!

(Kevin) “Hey, Marty! Do you feel up to a knife-to-lightsaber duel with Revan?”

(Marty) “Are you kidding? I was HOPING to duel the bastard!”

(Jessica) “Hmm, what do you think, turbo lasers, antimatter torpedoes, or the metastable spatial distortions? Or the option that says: Full Auto?””

(Marty) “Do you have to ask? Full auto! And go with the focusing spell Kevin! Like you did in the Crusader Kingdoms!”

   The display suddenly lit up with hundreds of targeting crosshairs as almost everything labeled as an enemy was targeted… Jessica pressed the firing button with much glee, at which point the starry background lit up as dozens of shots came from the ship and more from each of the orbs, each shot targetting another ship. Massive explosions filled the sky, only to be followed by a black ball that sucked in everything in its path. Parts of ships and debris were sucked into the ball to form a round ball growing in size. It reached hundreds of feet across in seconds and it was still growing…

(Marty) “Well. That’s not good.”

(Kevin) “Aw! Spoil sport! It took four really good spells to get the first half of that fleet!”

(Marty) “Hey, I didn’t even KNOW we had that option before she mentioned it!”

   There were only fifty or sixty enemy ships left functioning… It looked like the Forgelight had been very successful at eliminating the ones that were badly crippled, but even it didn’t mount enough firepower to take out that many other ships when their shields were still working.

   The ball of scrap had now passed a kilometer in diameter, and the sensor systems were warning about gravitational irregularities.

(Ryan) “Oh hell.”

(Kevin) “Oh well. They’re busy. I’ll get out and go see if I can do something about that barrier!.. Oh, wait, is that thing a problem?”

(Ryan) “The interdictors are on aren’t they?”

(Marty) “Uh oh. Yeah…”

   Marty turned them off since that sounded like a problem.

(Kevin) “Hm. Let me guess; interacts with the singularity projectors or whatever those were? Possible runaway hyperspace disturbance?”

(Ryan) “I’m not sure how big that thing is going to get. It was only supposed to have a power output directly proportional to the mass of the target. Now a interdictor field simulates the mass of a planet without the need for said planet. I hadn’t considered the effects of an interaction.”

(Marty) “Gah!”

(Kevin) “Hm. I take it that that’s a “Metastable Spatial Disturbance”?”

(Ryan – looking at a ball now four kilometers across) “Yeah, um, it might be a good idea to tell the defending fleet to evacuate.”

(Kevin) “That wouldn’t be very much use to the planetary population or the docks would it? Is it a gravity effect?”

(Ryan) “I’m working on it. Give me a moment to think of a counter. But for all practical purposes yes., it’s a gravity effect.”

   Marty let the fleet know to get the heck out of Dodge.

   Kevin was down to four major spells… Oh well. Time to spend another!

   For that matter… this was one of Ryan’s disasters. He’d better boost his ability to control things as well… He tossed in his spellweaving skills and his focused power – even if it would leave him pretty tired afterwards.

   Exilium Aeternam Extra Sidera! Galactic Banishment!

(Marty, using his ability to enhance supernatural powers through public speaking) “”You can do it, Kevin! Remember, you made Death himself sit down and have a nice drink of memories and had a whole world vote itself into a split!”

(Kevin) “Yeah, but inanimate stuff doesn’t usually listen!”

(Marty) “Well, you’re using magic to convince it to leave the galaxy! Think of it that way!”

   Kevin could feel his spell rending space and time in unnatural ways as he banished the tangled mass of twisted metal and warped space out of the galaxy. What debris wasn’t caught up in the banishment was sucked into the void that the mass had once occupied as remnants of fusion systems and munitions went up in the collision. The shields went black again for a moment.

   Kevin sighed. At this rate he was going to wind up reliant on oratory and witchcraft in the fight with the Hellstorm itself. Still, as Marty would certainly note, wasn’t that usually what they resorted to in the end?

(Ryan) “I definitely wouldn’t want to use a hyperdrive near that section of space for a few decades.”

(Kevin) “Oh well. Put up some warning buoys?”

(Ryan) “Fair enough, and a lot cheaper than replacing fleets or planets.”

   As the explosions died down, and they could see through the shields again, they could see the last remnants of the enemy fleet trying to flee the scene of the battle – leaving the Hellstorm and a few command ships behind.

   The infernal barrier was gone as well. It had collapsed sometime between the banishment and the ensuing explosions.

(Kevin) “Well, are we off after the Hellstorm then?”

(Marty) “I’m ready!”

(Ryan) “I was planning on nuking it from afar, but I bet it needs to be destroyed from the inside to truly be gone.”

   Kevin hit the interdiction again fast. The entire battle would have been a waste of time if the Hellstorm got away again.

(Kevin) “Well, lets close… We’ll just have to board”.

   Marty took them in – despite a gratuitous droid

(Gratuitous droid, shouting) “But sir, the odds of successfully boarding a demonic super star destroyer are…..”

(Marty) “I don’t CARE about the odds!”

   Marty could have sworn that the first turbolaser blast had singed his eyebrows, but he rolled the ship to the side in time to avoid the next series of blasts entirely as he dove between two of the remaining super star destroyers and got them shooting at each other. He wasn’t usually a big fan of special defenses, but for once he was grateful for the Forgelight’s enhanced shields as more explosions went off all around him.

   Jessica continued to fire the secondary weapons at the secondary enemy ships, while Marty left the growing cloud of smoke and debris in his wake as he left those two ships shooting at each other. There was nothing between him and the hellstorm except empty space…

   Well, OK, the bridge force field, and most of the bulk of the ship and it’s shields and some Orbs – but it was still a great view and phrase!

   Marty took the Forgelight towards the Hellstorm at high speed – ramming into the Hellstorm while triggering the Forgelight’s “lightsabers” and (as he was delighted to discover was possible) applying his knife-fighting techniques (and a True Strike spell from his pocket-companions) to the attack! Boarding time!

    Blast it! He hadn’t brought his crew of werewolf pirate thrall kids!

(Marty) “YAHOO!!!”

   The supporting fleet had finally closed to engagement distances – and were mopping up the remains of the enemy fleet. It wasn’t like there was much left to do. The few remaining ships were mostly out of control, and firing ineffectually – and even a super star destroyer was in trouble when it was englobed by two others and thirty star destroyers.

   The lightsaber-shields plunged deeply into the bowels of the Hellstorm – and burned a gaping hole in it’s hyperdrive assembly. The Hellstorm was stuck in the local system for the time being. Unfortunately, the Forgelight was now wedged firmly between decks 84 and 87.

   Marty grinned. Now he had the most awesome water cooler story EVER!

   Menthas would have laughed if it hadn’t been for the strain. Surely neither the Hellstorm nor it’s master would have anticipated THAT bit of insanity. No sane pilot would have even attempt to ram another ship at such speeds, no matter how strong their shielding systems were!

   Still, with the ships in direct contact, she was abruptly engaged in an endurance contest of holy versus unholy power – and there were limits to how much the neodogs could support her, even as innocent as they tended to be and with all the (quite astounding) power that Kevin bestowed on his Thralls. Still, the Hellstorm was gravely injured – and still bound by contract – and the contest might be far more even than she would have thought.

   Ryan was utterly horrified; he had certainly never planned on making a crude physical ramming attack! And, even more lamentably, with his brand new ship too!

(Marty) “Well, people, that’s as good a ram as any! Our good angel and Kevin’s servants should keep the negative energy at bay for some time, so LET’S BOARD THIS SUCKER!”

(Kevin, looking at Ryan) “Oh well. Tell you what, I’ll fix it tomorrow if we should live so long.”


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