Sorry for the long update timing, but Skyrim. I'm largely over it, but I'm sharing computers with someone who has a melted hard drive, but I should be able to pick up update speed.
Chapter 11: Hind's Blood, or How to Slay a God
Because you know, Ares is the Greek god of War. And considering how far I've come to get this far, I send in the entire fourteen marines. It's a good thing. Even sitting abandoned in space, with holes in the hull where the damage was enough to cause the crew to bail, the ship still claims nine lives. Only Chu t'Sht survives among the Split marines, though the four I had aboard Battle Wagon are unscathed. Indeed, Chu t'Sht on this day became someone we know.
“You're kidding me. Ch't F'rst?”
“Indeed. He spilled blood for his ship. I gave it to him.”
With my four marines brought back aboard, Chu t'Sht took command of the Ares for the jump to Patriarch's Conclusion. I needed repairs, and someone I could trust was needed to run the ship. He had yet to take the injury that would later prevent him from fighting as a marine, but he was already an able Captain. Charismatic enough to lead, intelligent enough to take advice from those who knew enough to actually work the ship.
We would do great things. I could feel it even then.
Of course, as Drake has found out, there's one big problem with capital ships. Well, two. First, they're hard to dock. Since they can't just dock anywhere, they need somewhere capable of docking ships of their size. That means military outposts, shipyards, and equipment docks. Well, the closest shipyard was in Cardinal's Domain, but I wanted to use the Patriarch's Conclusion shipyard instead. So heading there with the Toucan on my tail and my ship already at the shipyard. I never had a doubt Ch't would succeed. Even though he was flying the entire ship on manual. It wasn't easy, he told me, and frankly, I don't doubt him. Osan'Gar is hard enough to fly with a fully trained crew. And it's designed for only two eyes. Ares are designed for Paranid, with three. I never understood how Lucifer managed to do anything with his without going cross-eyed. I stood on the bridge of my Ares for five minutes before making Ch't it's permanent captain.
The second problem with capital ships? They're hideously expensive to repair. The bill, a whopping (Exact Amount) boggled my eyes. So I decided I needed to do some more pirating to finance the repairs.
However, there was something else to be done before we left. Shipyards, Split shipyards, are one of the few places outside Family house worlds, or Family Pride, where clan adoptions may take place. (Certain temples, on worlds not now controlled by the Split, exist, where the ceremony maybe, and in some cases MUST be performed. One exists on Kingdom End.)
“What... No, I'm not getting into that again.” Ea't gave her his best crestfallen look. Morgan laughed. “No, how can there be a Split Temple built on the Boron Homeworld?”
“Oh, that. Turan-shar. Temple of Glorious Victory. We created a landmass just for it. Sit's at top of volcano. Only 'land' on Kingdom End.”
“What are you talking about? I've seen, taken, sat scans of the entire planet. There's no landmass there. I assure you.”
“Lies, falsehoods. Fishsticks.” Ea't nodded sharply, then held his head. “Boron cloak it with a massive electro-static field, which bends light to make it look like ocean from space. And those sats that can see through it have their outputs carefully doctored.” Ea't shrugged. “Turan-shar is greatest embarrassment by Split ever of Boron.”
“Pride of biggest fish having biggest ocean, and no land.”
“Why don't they destroy it?”
“Can't. Power source is linked to planetary core. Break Turan-shar, planet core seals from in flux of water and planet freezes. 'Fishsticks'.” Ea't gave her a smile. She shuddered.
“That's horrible and ingeniously evil.”
Anyway, clan adoption is not quite the same as Argon adoption. Joining another Family requires a much longer ceremony, but joining a new clan does not invalidate ties to old clan. In fact, joining new clan gives opportunity to pay honor to birth clan. So in choosing his name, Chu t'Sht became Chut First. As in Chu of t'Sht clan, and First of his new clan. Thus Ch't F'rst.
“I wondered at some of the names.”
“Indeed. Reasons do exist.”
“What about yours?”
Anyway, with the adoption of Ch't F'rst complete, I left him the marines and told him to go recruiting. I left him sorting through a pile of large wooden clubs, for use in recruiting.
So to piracy. Haktikvah's is a wonderful place for pirating, but it's awfully dangerous without some capital class firepower. Ambushing single traders makes a good living, but the massive amount of hardware that sometimes flows through makes it dangerous to any pirate without enough assistance. And frankly, I didn't quite trust my 'wingmen' to not shoot me in the back, particularly not without the marines. So instead I jumped clear up to Family Whi. There I could assign them to guard Battlewagon and get on with pirating without the threat of getting blasted while my back is turned. My first choice of targets is near the south gate. Boron energy traders pulling fuel from the local SPP's. Setting Battlewagon and it's body guards high above the Ecliptic,where they shouldn't be bothered, but should be able to react to assist me if I call for it, I set up near one of the small rock groups. In addition to the energy I'm gaining, I'm hoping to put my hands on at least one transporter device, if not more.
After a good thirty minute wait, I see ZERO Boron traffic. Usually there's at least a few that make it up from Family Zein south, so this is quite odd. An explanation does eventually present itself however, in the form of a Split Military Tiger that appears through the south gate, and is probably the cause of dozens of destroyed freighters and traders. Figures.
Okay, so I move north, ordering Battlewagon to parallel my course some distance higher. I still don't want it in danger despite the 'protection' of the two pilots. Who have spent more time swilling my expensive liquor than actually proving their worth. Admittedly that's partly my fault, because I don't really quite trust them.
As it turns out the day isn't really made for piracy it seems. Out of a dozen ships I attack only two bail.
Well, three, but that third one attacked me, and doesn't actually count. I mean, in what universe does a Pirate in an Elite think he's going to beat a mighty Split warrior in an M3? I mean, honor before reason is one thing, but stupidity is something else completely.
And I know about Honor Before Reason. I do manage to net quite a bit of Mass driver ammo though. I have 3400 rounds available, though I only have one mass driver. Rather silly when you think about it. I did find a Mako Vanguard with two PAC's on it. I'm going to keep it, since I need something that can mount IonD, and the Mako V can. Why do I need IonD? Because I'm hunting an Argon Heavy Centaur Prototype. I've seen a couple one in the Paranid Sectors to the south, and one in Haktikvah's Faith. I think it'll be perfect for me, and while I'll have to get busy stealing some IonD, the Boron have a few available if you're... willing to work for them. Sadly it means I'll have to do some piracy in Haktikvah's, but I think I can manage that.
First order of business though, is to engage in a short patrol from Family Pride to Tharka's Sun. It's Xenon, so I order my wingmen to launch, while remaining behind large amounts of shielding. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
First of all, the boys wouldn't leave the OTAS ships alone, despite my insistence on not shooting at them. This pissed off the local Python. So I ended up ramming the nearby OTAS weapons dealer and then taking out the two MKII's so I could apologize without having it happen again. While I was dealing with that Crysis, G't Shh't managed to live up to his name and got trapped under fire from a pair of Xenon M's that ripped off all his shields and most of his hull. Sadly, this epic display of idiocy was NOT the worst I would see that day. With the fighting finished, I ordered G't to return and started to order Wingnut back.
As he went flat out to ramming speed and plowed into the side of the Battlewagon. In some fighters, this might have been survivable. Wingnut slammed into the side at full speed and not all his shields. Alas, Wingnut. I knew him. Sort of. I'm more ticked over the loss of the weapons and his ship than the pilot. Callous? A bit, but a wise Split knows when to shake his head, and move on.
Honestly I might have held a funeral, had A) I not had pressing business in other sectors, and B) had there been anything left to have a funeral with. Most of the organic bits were vaporized by the shielding. Sadly this meant I was suddenly in the market for a new pilot. After seeing how badly damaged G't was, I decided I'd find him a new ship. Something with LOTS of shields. Perhaps a Kea? Or maybe a Blastclaw Prototype. Of course if I get one of those, he might get Fangs instead. Presuming he lives that long.
No matter, I'm heading to Rhonkar's Clouds to continue my patrol. This time I'll be allowing the Goblins free reign and I will join the battle. Arriving in sector, I'm just in time to see a Chimera bail. Between the Battlewagon and I, we slaughter the entire attack group in no time. While the Goblins bring the Chimera, they also bring an N, and Manta to me. I decide not to stick around though, and jump straight to Tharka's Sun. No enemies jump in, so I'm limited to the mere 35k credits, but that's okay. The bailed ships will give me more than that. The Chimera isn't nearly as exciting as I first suspected, but it's still a solid ship. I think I'll give it to G't. Meanwhile, Battlewagon jumps south to Thuruk's Beard to spend some money on some more fighter drones to be converted to goblins. I have three in my hold, that shut down when I jumped out of Tharka's Sun, and I find I like having them on board.
G't has been informed that if he enters his cockpit, it had better be to shoot himself. Me, I dock at the local trading port to raise a glass to the memory of a fallen warrior.
Okay, so it's to a fallen idiot. So sue me.