The Blade of the Ruined King rose from the upper atmosphere of the planet Entropy; a colossus casting its long shadow over the fortress world below. The vessel, nearly thirty kilometers long and ten football fields wide, swamped a patch of surface on Entropy the size of a large country in a solar eclipse. It was so large that it’s rising from the planet’s surface changed the lunar tides of the oceans on Entropy and wiped out at least two native species in it’s wake. Like the Titans of old, mortals trembled in the shadow of Blade of the Ruined King, whilst it unknowingly trampled over God’s creation in it’s careless steps.
She was a human creation of grandeur, ambition, and arrogance, and it’s size alone warranted it as an abomination to God. Hence it’s name, taking the title of the weapon of the rebellious king of the Shadow Isles who would challenge his superiors to his ruin; it’s creators likened it as the blade of rebellion who would dare cut even God.
Due to it’s size, the Dreadnought of the Noxia fleet requires exponentially more thrust than even the largest ships of the ULN fleet. Therefore after firing initial boosters, an array of thrusters spread out in a ring around it, unfurling in a metal wing a hundred miles long on each end. Each thruster edged it’s massive bulk into something resembling a moving speed, and so, defying all reason, the colossus moved through space. Shaped like this, the arrogant vessel took the form of a beautiful angel.
And this fallen angel bore death upon those in her way.
Command Bridge, ULSS Infinity Edge
Admiral Lito screamed into her mike; her black hair flying about as she turned her head in rapid succession, switching frantically from directing her fleet with swift motions on her holodeck to barking out orders to the disarrayed mess that the fleet was.
By her will, the ULN ships spread themselves in such a fashion that no one group of ships provided a vital target for the enemy Dreadnought to target. But even for all of her misdirection and baiting, Admiral Lito could not evade the keen eye of her just as capable adversary.
“Hm,” The Lord of Admirals chuckled, his clear, cultured voice echoing through the panicked ULN Command Bridge. “How useless, Lito. Did you really think I wouldn’t notice the weakest prey in your pack?”
A click could be heard, and Admiral Lito had no doubt that it was the key to the Lord of Admiral’s command comms.
“Blade of the Ruined King, your Lord commands you;” Irelia could almost imagine the Noxian commander’s smirk as the Lord of Admirals paused for effect. A touch of pure hatred tinged the pit in her stomach now.The man always had a sickening flair for the dramatic. “The enemy supercruiser Trinity Force is crippled...
...So punish their weakness.”
Far out in space, the affront to God raised its blade.
A single hatch, infinitesimally tiny compared to the rest of the ship, opened up a hole to a magnetic solenoid coil that ran the entire thirty mile length of the ship. There was no lightning or energy or shock blasts that centuries old movies used to depict. Only an unassuming hatch that could be mistaken for a maintenance hallway to the untrained eye, and a thousand-ton slug of Ferric-Tungsten at it’s very end.
The magnetic coils of Blade of the Ruined King’s Super Magnetic Acceleration Cannon started to warm up. And they were aimed straight at the crippled supercruiser Trinity Force.
Command Bridge, ULSS Infinnity Edge
No, Irelia thought, that pit growing in her stomach. She turned and slammed the key to her mike.
“TRINITY! AEGIS!” Admiral Lito screamed, her eyes wild. “FULL SHIELDS NOW!”
Behind the immediate confirmation from Aegis of the Legion, an exasperated sigh trailed out of the other end. That was the voice of Captain Arman Petronov, ship captain of the Trinity Force the man whom she could trust with the second-greatest ship in the ULN fleet. The man she knew, that she had just spoken to and traded jokes with at the last command meeting, was sounding more defeated than she had ever heard him sound in her entire life.
“Sorry, Admiral. Main and auxiliary systems are down. Ambient shields are only at 12%.”
That pit in her stomach was burning with fear now.
“Escape pods! Get your men there now! If you can cycle the power coils then you can squeeze out enough juice for maybe a dozen men!”
Another dead sigh. There was a slight scraping noise coming from the other end. Admiral Lito could already imagine Captain Petronov unscrewing that flask of whiskey he kept at his side at all times, and taking a swig. She would have to scold him for that later.
“That’ll take five--” The man on the other end paused, no doubt dumping another mouthful of booze down his throat. “*gulp*, hours at the very least, Admiral. You know that.”
A last sigh.
“Admiral, we’re done for. This is it.” The captain on the other end smacked his lips. “Admiral-- no, Irelia, hon, I’m sorry--”
The Blade of the Ruined King fired. The slug of metal, accelerated to 16% the speed of light, cleared the thirty-thousand kilometer gap between the Dreadnought and her prey in less than a second. The fifty million kilojoule global shields of the Aegis of the Legion did not help. The ambient ships of the Trinity did nothing. Two meter-thick Titanium-Aradium hull plating were punched clean through by the MAC round. If it weren’t for the massive amount of heat transfer that the Trinity Force suffered from the friction of such a blow, the MAC round would have passed clean through and perhaps the supercruiser would have survived.
Instead, for physics is a cruel b*tch, the heat generated from the MAC round passing though was enough to vaporize the metal and sending a structure-shredding shockwave through the ship. Half of the ship was simply atomized from the impact, while the other floated off into space, melted, cooling into something twisted, blackened, and grotesque.
Command Bridge, ULSS Infinity Edge
“Hon, I’m sorry--”
A vicious scratching cut across the Captain’s voice.
In the Command Bridge, the only thing that could be heard after Captain Petronov’s was that scratch of static. After that, there was nothing more than a fading snowy noise that spread from what once was the Trinity Force.
An even more tense silence set over the Command Bridge. All eyes were carefully averted from the Admiral, who was sitting quietly in her chair. Her cap was lowered completely over her eyes, and many of the crew were thankful for that; no one wanted to see what Admiral Lito looked like right now. Only Kayle, the Admiral’s most trusted adviser, dared speak to her now. The rest of the crew was rapt with attention.
“...Admiral?” Kayle edged forwards from the hologram, cautiously advancing like one would towards a predator. “Admiral, what do we do next?”
The fleet admiral did not respond. Instead, Admiral Lito reached out and keyed the mike to her comm. Her poise was almost unnervingly steady, her voice almost unnaturally calm.
She spoke to her entire fleet. Upon every ship, every man and woman heard her words spill out of every intercom bolted to the walls.
“Attention, fleet.This is your admiral, Irelia Lito.”
The admiral took a breath, before continuing.
“I’m sorry. I have failed you. Through our enemy’s treachery, our men lie dead, our ships float, burning, and our pride has been trampled. It is my fault that we have failed to overcome this trial. Therefore I have to ask something from you all right now.”
Admiral Lito looked up, her sharp eyes drilled out of the window ahead of her.
“Do you still trust me?”
Her question hung in the air and in the hearts of every man and woman in her fleet. Silence spread around the ship, around the fleet even. On every ship, the tension was suffocating. Many of the ship’s bridge crew looked at one another, frowns on their face. Admiral Lito saw and felt all of this, and closed her eyes in defeat. It would mean the death of all of them, then.
Admiral Lito stood up, her hat tipped down. She did not want to look at the men she lost her trust from. Then a clattering noise startled her. The admiral’s eyes snapped to the source of the sound.
A yeoman had shot up, knocking over his chair.
“Always, Admiral!” He saluted. His hand was quivering with fear, but his young eyes were resolute. Then, one of her senior officers stood up, and saluted right after him.
More of them. What once was a trickle started a flood. Every last one of the crew members of the bridge stood up to salute and confirm their loyalty. From her intercom, the reverberating shouts of every last one of the crew of her tattered fleet shouted their unwavering trust in her; despite her failures. Their shouts formed wave after wave emotions filling loyalty, responsibility, and trust. All on her shoulders, Irelia realized. She wouldn’t have it any other way.
Kayle crossed her arms, a grin plastered all over her face. The holographic angel looked relieved. Her eyes seemed to sigh as she spoke her mind, too.
“You don’t even need to ask, our admiral.”
As the shouts of support flooded over her, Admiral Lito sat back down, satisfied. A smile almost crept onto her face. She tipped her hat up.
“Then please, follow my orders exactly.”
Captain's Bridge, HLS The Ravenous Hydra
The Lord of Admiral stood up. his eyes were absorbed in the spectacle that the holographic diagram in front of him was presenting. His eyes glistened as he watched the Admiral Lito’s last desperation tactic unfold in front of him. It was like Christmas for him.
“Lito, Lito, Lito.” The Lord of Admirals leaned down, staring at the plummeting blue dots marking the ULN fleet in front of him. “what are you doing now?”
At nearly a forty-five degree angle, the Infinity Edge plunged downwards towards the atmosphere of Entropy. The ship was not aero-dynamic in the least; being designed for interplanetary, not aerospace travel. The result was a tremendous shuddering of the ship that made flying upon it seem like hitching a ride in a five-kilo long washing machine. Behind the ULN flagship, every member of the ship's fleet, plunging straight back to earth with her.
Meanwhile, in the deep, dark, tremulous depths of the Infinity Edge, Talon threw up his whiskey over his bed. While the headhunter retched, over a dozen of his knives spilled out of his bunk and buried themselves in a patch of steel wall six inches from Riven’s head, and gave her a slight shave, but despite the commotion, still she slept on. Vayne was holding her legs, muttering and cursing while the world spinned around her, and even Lieutenant Yi’s eyes, behind his ocular mask, were open and alert during the disturbance.
Command Bridge, ULSS Infinity Edge
The bridge of the Infinity edge was trembling. Every surface of the ship was rattling like it was trying to shake itself loose. The crew desperately tried to multi-task running the ship while not falling over from all the vibrations.
“A-a-a-a-admiral!” Kayle called out, her voice resonating in pitch from the ship. “Approaching Entropy atmosphere in four-five seconds! Our ship is rated for only ten-thousand meters off of sea level, maximum!”
“W-w-e’ll go double below that!” Irelia called out confidently. She somehow managed to key her mike despite it shaking from one patch of steel to the next on her chair. “A-a-all ships! Be advised! Ignore safety regulations concerning low-level planetary orbit and proceed to five thousand units above SEL! Make sure you get the cloud cover over you!” Irelia called out to her fleet, who was following her lead into the depths of the atmosphere of Entropy. “If they get visual confirmation, this whole pretty trick’s shot!”
Captain's Bridge, HLS The Ravenous Hydra
“Blade of the Ruined King!”
The Lord of Admirals called out in his mike. “Enemy fleet is attempting to escape through our Entropy’s atmosphere! Burn them down before they can get away!”
Thresh appeared at the Lord of Admirals side.
“My Lord, we are unable to target the enemy fleet with our weapons. The same magnetic field that we used to hide Blade of the Ruined King on Entropy is interfering with our targeting systems. Currently, accuracy rate is at five percent and dropping. Within thirty seconds we will also lose visual confirmation of the enemy fleet.”
The Lord of Admirals growled. This tactic of running away from his toys was starting to get old, fast.
“Lito will probably pop up right below The Ravenous Hydra and take us out with her if we give her the chance. Plot a vector for the Blade of the Ruined King to link up with the main fleet, and move The Ravenous Hydra to our rear echelon.” The Lord of Admirals typed in some swift commands on his console. “Thresh, I want a targeting solution for every gun on our fleet for every square hundred-miles on Entropy that the enemy fleet can come out of within the minute. Warm up our MACs; the instant an ULN rat pokes its head out of it’s hiding hole, I want it burning!”
“Lito...” The Admiral grit his teeth, staring into the holographic green sea that was the planet of Entropy below. “I’ll get you this time...”
Command Bridge, ULSS Infinity Edge
“Kayle! You think we’re hidden well enough!”
Kayle popped out of the holodeck, wiping her forehead. A useless indicator for a hologram, but she liked reminding Lito how hard she worked all the time.
“Absolutely. Entropy’s high reserves of Knutoium have created a naturally shielding magnetic field. Just in case, I’ve ghosted a couple of our legitimate signals and bounced them off of random vectors away from our fleet.”
Kayle stepped forwards, staring out at the pure white clouds of Entropy that their window now beheld. It actually was quite the pretty planet.
“In fact, it’s almost unsurprising that they managed to build something as big as that Dreadnought if they had this kind of cover to work on and a couple of years. Excellent. Can’t wait to build our own little toy once we’ve conquered this rock.”
Irelia smiled. Kayle spouting useless cra*p was always a good sign on her ship.
“Good. Well then.” Admiral Lito typed in the command keys to unlock their ship’s Faster-Than Light travel drives. “Let’s get out of here.”
Captain's Bridge, HLS The Ravenous Hydra
“Milord!” The whisper officer shouted as an alert popped onto his screen. “Enemy energy spikes detected in sector 5636-BF! Signatures match that of a ULN fleet’s FTL drives! They're... they're fleeing!"
The Lord of Admirals growled. Was Lito really running away? That would be a first. The Lord of Admirals turned to call on his ship's AI.
“Thresh! All guns on that sector!”
Thresh appeared at his side.
“My Lord, even with the enemy sector confirmed, our entire firing solution has only a 0.04% probability of hitting anything ”
The Lord of Admirals grit his teeth, annoyed. The impertinent AI still dared talk back to him. The Lord of Admirals turned to stare daggers into the insubordinate AI. Though the construct did not flinch, Du Couteau knew that it knew whose master it served.
Shockwaves started raining down from the sky. First the MAC rounds, tiny in the scope of a planet, but each still with the energy of a nuclear bomb, slammed into Entropy’s ocean, drilling through the water like it was made of cotton, and sending shockwaves rippling through the half-frozen sea miles long. Then missiles and mines started raining down, scattered through the sector, but they were sparse and slow; barely more threatening to the ships than snow.
Admiral Lito smiled at this. The Lord of Admirals was getting desperate.
“Admiral!” An officer nodded, and then looked up to Admiral Lito. “Just received confirmation! All ships confirmed FTL vectors and are ready to launch!”
“Good Tell them to all jump on my mark!!”
Admiral Lito strapped herself in, and counted down the seconds. Still, all around her from her window, she could still she the pillars of water formed by the plunging MAC rounds, and the rain of missiles that were dwindling one-by one.
“Three... two.. one...”
Admiral Lito gripped the lever to the Infinity Edge’s FTL drives.
She slammed the lever forwards.
And all around her, one-by-one the ULN fleet jumped out of the atmosphere of Entropy, leaving an explosion-like shockwave from the displacement of the air, and only waves of sea in their wake. First in the air there was the might of one of the greatest fleets in the galaxy, and then there was nothing.
Captain's Bridge, HLS The Ravenous Hydra
Du Couteau stood at his holodeck, furious that Lito was getting away. yet he could do nothing but watch her mock him in the wake of her egress, as his prey fled like sheep. One by one, the blue mist that marked where the enemy ships were hiding in Entropy’s mists faded, until the blue had turned into nothing more than a solid gray. That did it. They had all fled. The Lord of Admirals growled, as his whisper officer confirmed the energy signatures of the ULN warping away. Du Couteau closed his eyes in frustration.
“Damn you Lito... I had you...”
A clear, sharp voice cut into his Captain’s Bridge, laughing. It was an outside radio transmission. Full spectrum. But radio waves had a limited range, and the only other outside party that had been here was--
“...Lito” The Lord of Admirals breathed.
Her clear, noble voice swept through his ships like a wave. He could almost see her disgusting smirk as she gloated.
Her voice was coming in clear and without delay, so she must be within radio range, at least two hundred kilometers near his ship. That means she's close by. But where the hell did she warp... too... He glanced at the form of his enourmous dreadnought that dominated the hologprahic battlefield in front of him.
The Lord of Admirals sucked in a breath as he realized exactly where Lito had jumped to.
Command Bridge, ULSS Infinity Edge
Lito leaned forwards in her chair, a grin plastered all over her face. Oh, how she wished she could see the look on the great and dignified Lord of Admiral’s face now.
All around her, her ships were coming into view once more. She bet the Noxians thought she had fled, but they hadn’t warped out of combat-- they just warped from one hiding spot to another.
From the depths of the misty atmosphere of Entropy’s atmosphere, their ships plotted a vector straight to..
The shadow along the underside of the Noxian Dreadnought. The enormous capital ship was more than large enough to accommodate the bulk of the ULN fleet. Every ULN ship had reduced radiation to nothing, even lights, shields and engines, making their ships practically invisible to anyone not looking directly at them.
And their position put placed them with a clear shot straight at the enemy flagship. They had a chance, finally. To finally destroy the Ravenous Hydra.
Admiral Lito couldn't wait. She tipped her hat up, her eyes gleaming with energy. A slash of a smile split on her face, revealing pure white teeth. The Shining Sword of the ULN Fleet was back in business now.
“You’ve had your fun, Du Couteau. Now it’s our turn.”
I just found out that it takes me one and a half hours to write 1000 words. For my goal fo 7000 words per chapter, that means I have to set aside 10 1/2 hours in my week, and that's just for Black Angel Six. I still have a minimum requirement of 1500 words for a Phoenix Sun chapter, too. As if soul-crushing C-programming wasn't enough, I don't even have time for my hobbies anymore.
Command Bridge, ULSS Infinity Edge, 1830 hours
“Look at them, Kayle.” Admiral Lito chuckled, her hands on her hips. She stood at the base of the Command Bridge’s window; the entire might of an entire Noxia fleet splayed out in front of her. All of them were executing some elaborate dance with their massive ships in order to position themselves into something other than the 'Sitting Ducks' formation. “Poor souls. They’re trying so hard.”
A smirk crept on her face as she amused herself watching the supercruiser The Bloodthirster almost collide with their allied carrier Warhog’s Horde in their frantic efforts to respond to their own surprise jump into the middle of their fleet. The long nose of the supercruiser stripped off half of the guiding relays affixed to the top of Warmog’s Horde in their clumsiness to flip the entire supercruiser around.
“Kayle? Status on firing solutions?”
AI Kayle squeezed in a final few taps of her armored fingers. The holographic angel looked up. A smile split on her handsome face.
“All done, ma’am!”
“Hundred by hundred, admiral!”
“Good.” Admiral step back to take one last look at the Noxia fleet. Even though they were in the midst of the enemy, and in the shadow of a hostile vessel that dwarfed their entire fleet combined, Admiral Lito felt no fear. Despite taking incredible, irreplaceable losses, there was no more doubt in the Admiral’s mind that she would lose. Her men were behind her. And she still had a mission-- she still had that man to kill.
She would not fall here. Not until she had finally delivered justice. She felt no fear. Only determination.
“Then fire at will!”
“Aye aye,” Kayle confirmed, transmitting the attack order to every last one of the ULN fleet. Green confirmation lights lit up from each of the holographic dots on the holodeck that signified their ships. Everyone was ready. “Admiral!”
From their solar eastern flank, the cruisers Shard of True Ice and Mercurial immediately opened fire on the enemy shield ship, Randuin’s Omen, the force of their MAC rounds punching through the shield ship’s personal shields as if they were made of no more than paper. Explosions and fire erupted from the two gaping holes left in the body of the vessel, and it started to slip downwards, falling out of orbit.
From their north, Hurricane let loose the entire rest of her fighter squads, who took the liberty of peppering the massive underside of the Blade of the Ruined King, targeting the missile pods and gun batteries littered all about the Dreadnought’s side with expert precision. The torpedos spread from the fighter’s wing bays like demented flowers, each of them splitting into a dozen different mines that slammed into the surface defenses along the Blade of the Ruined King, disabling them.
Without the weapons batteries along the side of the Blade of the Ruined King, it might as well have been a floating paperweight. The captain of the Dreadnought fired up reverse thrusters, but a ship of that size could hardly turn on a dime.
Admiral Lito raised her hand, and speared the image of the Noxian flagship, The Ravenous Hydra, with her finger. Her eyes were narrowed with determination now.
“Fire on Du Couteau!”
A quadruple burst of MAC rounds; the benefits of fielding such a large ship like the Infinity Edge, shot towards the Noxian flagship with deadly force. They were three shots aimed towards the dead center of the enemy supercruiser. Yet through either skill or luck-- The Ravenous Hydra twisted away, suffering only minor damage along secondary structures. The MAC rounds grazed the hull of the flagship; scorching the metal, melting meter-thick Titanium-Aradium, but missing any vital organs.
Captain's Bridge, HLS The Ravenous Hydra
“Ugnh!” The Lord of Admirals grunted from the ship shock. He gripped the edge of his throne as his castle of a ship shuddered from the impact of the MAC rounds. Many of his crew were sprawled about the Captain’s Bridge, cursing, weeping, or praying. Pitiful fools. The tremors were enough to strike the fear of death into any normal man-- but he was no ordinary man!
The Lord of Admirals recovered himself, keeping a death grip on his Captain’s seat in case another tremor struck.
“Thresh! Damage report!”
The AI did not come out this time; only a dozen different diagrams of the ship’s affected areas popped up from the holodisplay in front of him. Du Couteau’s sharp eyes travelled swiftly over the diagrams, calculating.
Thresh’s voice emanated from the diagrams, elaborating for his master.
“My Lord, engines are down to 45% thrust. Shields are at 32%. Structural damage along the north-east-east spinal axis and the south-south-west rib axis. Damage not crippling but immediate repairs are highly recommended.”
The diagrams closed, replaced by the standing image of Thresh. The chained warden was as impassive as ever. Yet resignation managed to creep through even Thresh’s stoic demeanor. Everyone knew they were defeated.
“The battle is lost, My Lord.”
Du Couteau leaned forwards, sweating slightly.
“Our faster than light travel capabilities?” His entire plan hinged on this. If their FTL drives were disabled by the last attack, he might as well blow up the nuke hidden on their ship right then.The admiral watched the diagrams intently.
“Functional, but not optimal. They’ll take five minutes to warm up.”
“...Hah.” The Lord of Admirals looked up. “Make that four minutes, Thresh, or I swear I’ll trash your code.”
“Yes, My Lord.”
A dark, malicious grin spread across the Lord of Admirals’ face.
“Fire them up immediately. Lito’s not the only one who can play tricks with wrap drives.”
Du Couteau looked up out the viewport of his Captain’s Bridge, relief visible on his strong face; and maliciousness glinting in his dark eyes. The Lord of Admirals ran his hand through his slightly sweaty thick brown hair, laughing. He almost couldn’t believe it. It worked. This entire gambit with raising a monster in the bowels of his flagship, fighting a losing battle on Entropy, pushing Lito to the absolute limit of her capabilities to mask any hint of his true intention, was such an enormous risk-- yet now, phase two of his master plan was now in play.
The man looked up at the faraway silhouette of the Infinity Edge, still thrusting towards them from under the cover of his own Dreadnought. The dark glint in his eyes was shining brighter than ever.
Command Bridge, ULSS Infinity Edge
An alert popped up on Kayle’s monitor, who read it for a moment. Her eyes widened.
“Admiral!” Kayle leapt from the holodeck to Admiral Lito’s side, carrying the report. “Enemy FTL energy signatures detected! It’s from The Ravenous Hydra!”
Admiral Lito looked at the report, her brow furrowed. She trashed the memo with a grimace on her face.
“Damn Du Couteau. Come up with your own strategy for once!” Lito turned to her AI. “Kayle, what’s the cooldown on our MAC rounds?”
“They’re still cycling power coils, admiral! It’ll be another ten minutes, and The Ravenous Hydra will be able to warp in five!”
Irelia leaned forwards, her eyes frantic. All of her goodwill from before evaporated from the thought that her hated nemesis might get away once more. This was a chance of a lifetime. She would not let Du Couteau slip away this time!
“Missiles?!” The admiral inquired, “Gun batteries?!”
“Operational, but out of range!”
“Get in range!
“But admiral!” Kayle glanced up at the shadow that loomed above them. They had disabled all of the surface weapon decks on this side of the ship-- but everywhere else on the dreadnought--
“If we move forwards, we will be in range of the enemy dreadnought’s defense systems!”
“Move forwards! We can’t let Du Couteau get away!” Irelia turned to stare at Kayle, a snarl forming on her face. “Adjutant! I gave you an order!” The fleet admiral’s eyes were growing dangerous once more, and Kayle felt an irrational fear strike her virtual heart. The AI took an involuntary step back.
The Admiral swept her hand at the The Ravenous Hydra, which was floating motionless in front of them.
“Full speed ahead!”
In space, the Infinity Edge shot forwards from under Blade of the Ruined King’s shadow, her engines burning at maximum speed. Despite a flood of missiles and shells that erupted from the dreadnought to them from above, still the Infinity Edge charged, shrugging off Archer missiles and HEAT rounds like they were nothing more than raindrops. The ULN ship’s shields glistened and burned bright from the impacts of the Noxian artillery, but somehow, despite all odds, they held. And that left a clear path straight towards the vulnerable The Ravenous Hydra.
Two minutes left until the Noxian flagship’s FTL drives were ready.
Forty-eight seconds until Infinity Edge’s main gun batteries would come in range.
Captain's Bridge, HLS The Ravenous Hydra
“Milord!” Shouted a yeoman, tracking a rapidly approaching dot on the holodeck. “Enemy advance! Supercruiser Infinity Edge plotting an intercept vector straight for us! They’ll be in range in t-minus 30!”
“Hm.” The Lord of Admirals had to give it to Lito. She was just as bull-headedly stubborn as he always knew her. And now he was in a tight spot. The Lord of Admirals had one last card to play, and he made his decision in an instant.
“Thresh!” Du Couteau called out, without a trace of hesitation in his voice. “Slave controls from The Bloodthirster to central command!”
The chained warden bowed, then shimmered out of existence. After only a few seconds, the virtualized demon returned, holding a key. “My Lord,” Thresh bent down, offering the key. “The controls to our supercruiser The Bloodthirster, are yours.”
"Excellent. Fire up The Bloodthirster's afterburners and divert all power from it's shields to it's engines... No, in fact, divert ALL power to it's engines. Spare no power to anything else.” The Lord of Admirals glanced at Thresh. His eyes were gleaming again. “Not even life support. Then plot a vector putting it between us and Lito as quickly as possible. “
Thresh paused for a moment, and the horrible slits in his mask-like face widened, as if to appreciate the ruthlessness of the master he had chosen.
“They will be our sacrificial shield, My Lord?”
“Are you troubled, Thresh? Is not everything permitted in war?”
Thresh digested this. Then, with something almost like a smile on his mask-face, Thresh bowed, muttering a last ‘my lord’ before seizing control of The Bloodthirster and carrying out his orders.
In the emptiness of space, The Bloodthirster lurched forwards. Thrusters embedded all over the body of the ship fired in rapid succession, sending the Noxian supercruiser into death spiral towards The Ravenous Hydra and the approaching Infinity Edge. No longer burdened by the shackles of having to support the fading lives of her passenger, The Bloodthirster raced towards the two opposing flagships with unprecedented speed. No more power flowed to the systems to maintain liveable temperatures on the decks, no more energy invested into the kinetic shields of the ship.
Before the Infinity Edge could react, they were blocked off by the racing form of the now-lifeless The Bloodthirster.
Command Bridge, ULSS Infinity Edge
“Enemy advance!” Kayle shouted. It was unnecessary, however. Irelia could see perfectly clear. The enemy The Bloodthirster had flung itself in front of their ship, blocking off their line of fire. It was a desperate move, but it would be enough. Even a ship like the Infinity Edge didn’t stock enough firepower to blow through a supercruiser in time to catch The Ravenous Hydra before it warped. Admiral Lito grit her teeth.
“Admiral!” Kayle glanced at the timer that was the estimate until The Ravenous Hydra’s FTL drives could be fired. “Thirty seconds left until enemy warp drives engage!”
Irelia looked up from under her cap. Her eyes narrowed as she surveyed the fast-approaching The Bloodthirster. Her rough, cracked hands gripped the armrests of her captain’s seat. She would not let him get away this time, she vowed once more. Her grip tightened.
“Shields on full!” Admiral Lito shouted, her eyes blazing, her voice stern and powerful, “RAMMING SPEED!”
Kayle turned to her superior in shock.
“We’ll cut straight THROUGH them to get to Du Couteau!”
Kayle hesitated for only a moment. Then her eyes met the Admiral’s.
“Aye aye, Captain.”
Kayle nodded, before turning to the bridge assembly about her. The virtual angel stood up straight and confident as she issued the order to the crew. Her eyes made it clear to the hands on deck that she trusted the admiral. The reassurance in her eyes animated the crew. They would do this. They would trust the admiral.
“Shields to 140%! Thrusters on full! Moment of impact, ten seconds! All hands, brace for impact!”
“Brace for impact!” Someone on the deck shouted, and everyone scrambled to find something to hold onto.
The Infinity Edge raced forwards on its collision course with The Bloodthirster, its shields shining brightly as her technicians inside overclocked the generators to over-capacity. In contrast, the enemy supercruiser hung lifeless in front of them, oblivious to the impending impact. No shields shone bright on her. No thrusters fired to evade the brute-force attack. The Bloodthirster had sacrificed power to her shields for speed in Thresh’s haste to put her between The Ravenous Hydra and the Infinity Edge.
Admiral Lito raised her hands as the metal surface of the body of The Bloodthirster raced up to the window of the Command Bridge to meet them. As she sat, eyes rapt to the rapidly approaching sea of metal, she imagined that she could spot the individual noxian symbols painted onto the hard, gray hull. Her eyes involuntarily snapped shut as the hull was about to collide with the ship--
Then the shields kicked in.
Irelia yelled, shielding her eyes away from the searing light. The Infinity Edge’s shields burned as white as snow, the hexa-plating of the kinetic shields struggling to overcome the three meter thick Ferric-Aradium that made up the frame of The Bloodthirster. The shields ground through the steel, propelled by the main drive thrusters at the back of the Infinity Edge. Dozens of alarms popped up on nearly every terminal on the bridge, flashing red and whooping to attract attention, but none of the crew were in any position to handle them. The Infinity Edge shuddered; and for an instant it seemed as if the ULN flagship would not make it through.
No, Irelia vowed. I won’t let you get away, Du Couteau!
“COME ON YOU BASTA*RD!” Admiral Lito roaredto the searing white light. “BREAK! DIE!”
And, as if by command, something gave inside The Bloodthirster. The Infinity Edge lurched forwards, a trickle giving way to a flood, and bit by bit, more and more of The Bloodthirster’s structures fell away, ground to atomic dust by the ULN flagship’s kinetic shields.
The Infinity Edge was gaining momentum. A great snapping sound could be heard roaring from inside The Bloodthirster, the noise carrying even through the vacuum of space. The entire crew was thrown backwards as their ship suddenly shot forwards. It was coming. The Bloodthirster, great and as powerful as she was, was at her limit.
The Infinity gave one final push. And with a final, screeching wail, the front and back halves of The Bloodthirster tore away, spinning off into orbits. Through a cloud of shrapnel, corpses, and machinery, the Infinity Edge punched through to race towards the fleeing Noxian flagship.
Finally... a clear shot!
Admiral Lito was the first to recover. She stood up tall and proud. With a flourish, she swept her hand forwards at vulnerable The Ravenous Hydra. Her eyes were blazing with determination as her ship raced forwards towards it’s final confrontation.
“Firing all ordinance!” A weapons solution managed called out, relaying the order to every weapons deck crew. “Aye!”
All over the Infinity Edge, gun hatches opened up to reveal missile pods, gun batteries, and torpedo pods. From their mouths, a firestorm of explosive warheads, armor-piercing shells, and electromagnetic pulse emitting torpedos raced each other to tear towards the Noxian flagship. It would only take an instant for them to connect, and it would all be over--
But the Lord of Admirals was one step ahead.
“Too late,” Du Couteau muttered, pulling the lever to his ship’s FTL drive. “...Lito!”
And with that, The Ravenous Hydra slipped into another dimension, shimmering out of existence and barely escaped the barrage of missiles launched at it. Their target lost, the warheads and shells simply deactivated, and floated uselessly forwards into space. Everything was very quiet all of a sudden. No more shots were fired. No more death raged about them. The battle was won.
Kayle looked up, and confirmed to the Command Bridge the surrender signals of both the crews of the Blade of the Ruined King as well as the Randuin’s Omen. A lone shout shot out from the Bridge, and soon the entire crew was cheering, throwing their hats into the air.
Admiral Lito collasped back onto her seat.
The battle was won, Lito told herself. She didn’t get Du Couteau... but she would soon, she told herself once more. Sighing amongst her celebrating crew, she buried her face in her hands, sinking in her captain’s chair, more defeated than ever. If she really did win the battle...
Then why do I feel like I’ve lost?
Riven was alone in the ULN marine locker room, slipping her Headhunter suit on. Piece by piece, she stripped down to her underwear. Once she was done, she slipped into the black full body suit that Team Dark used. It was mostly battle cloth armor-- micro-teflon coils woven in a hexabinary pattern to keep bullets from penetrating the flesh underneath. There were patches of chain scales over suitable areas-- her chest, her arms, and her thighs, but by and large her suit was not intended for heavy combat.
This made it light, and easy to move in, but fragile to heavy weapons or knives. Riven flexed her protected hands experimentally. her joints rotated with ease. Not too different from her old uniform, then. She didn’t know whether she preferred that or not.
“Hey cutie.” A deep voice, followed by a heavy hand on her shoulder, startled Riven. “Anyone ever tell you that purple would suit you better?”
The private had the hand in her grip in a flash, and she raised it over her head before twisting her body in what should have thrown the offender over her shoulder and into the metal lockers in front. Should have. When she tried to throw the man over her shoulder, her back only collided with cold, hard metal, and she couldn’t even lift him off the ground.
“Hey, now. Let’s play rough after we’ve been acquainted.”
Riven swiveled her head to face the man behind her.
A handsome man smiled back. His square jaw framed his bulky body, all of which was wrapped in a full-metal power suit. His eyes shone in the locker room light, but Riven inwardly shuddered under their gaze. It was shallow beneath those forget-me not blues.
“...don’t touch me.”
“couldn’t stop me if you tried, cutie. But alright, since I’m such a nice guy--” The man lifted his armored hand, raising it defensively. “You like my power armor? It’s one of my latest designs. Power thrusters, personal shields, you name it, it’s got it.”
“...who are you?”
“Ha!” The man playfully slapped his forehead, wincing in mock pain. “I’m such an idiot--”
“True that,” Riven muttered.
“--I forgot to introduce myself.” The man put out his metal-wrapped hand, his smile revealing white teeth. “I’m Lance Corporal, William Jayce Westmoreland. I’m the leader of the Royal Headhunters. You might know us as the best of the bunch.”
Riven didn’t take the hand, instead staring coldly back at the man.
“Ok.” Riven turned back to clip up the last bit of her uniform, her eyes closed with annoyance. “Go away, William Jayce Westmoreland.”
“Now hold on a minute here,” The lance corporal persisted. He sidled over and put his hand on the locker, hovering over Riven. “I didn’t catch your name there. I think I’d remember someone as cute as you.”
Riven sighed, and flexed her fingers. She wondered whether this dolt’s head was as hard as his armor. It would be a pleasure to find out.
A deep, guttural voice cut across her thoughts.
“What are you doing, Rookie... with this y’sheelee?”
A low growling filled the room. Jayce flinched and looked towards the entrance. He seemed to back away from Riven for a moment, lifting his hand off of the locker. But the indefatigable lance corporal bounced back immediately, a smile plastering his face once more.
“Hey, Furry! It’s been, what, eight months? Too long!”
Riven looked up. Captain Rengar filled the locker room’s doorway, his rough, scored armor scraping against the metal lips as the massive Yautja slouched through. His eyes were narrowed, his lips were drawn slightly back to reveal stout, sharp fangs. It was abundantly clear that his mood was less than perfect. Every step the beast took left a deep, heavy thud in it’s wake.
“Leave, y’sheelee” Rengar stalked closer and closer, but not to Jayce. “Before my axe finds your throat.”
“Ha. Good luck getting to this yeeseelee's throat with my new power armor. With this, and my latest Mercury weapons system, I wouldn’t give you five minutes in the ring with me.” Jayce shrugged in a self-satisfied way. “Just admit it-- Team Dark’s history, Furry.”
Rengar turned away from the man, his long thick braids shifting away. His yellow eyes held nothing but contempt in their depths.
“We leave, Rookie.”
The Captain slouched out of the locker room, bidding Riven to follow. This Riven was more than happy to do. She finished packing her gear into her duffel bag, and slung it over her shoulder in one practiced motion. She followed the Yautja captain closely, sparing not a glance for the rival Headhunter leader.
“You all might have had us beat slightly before, Captain Furry-- but we’ve got all kinds of new tech now! Flamethrowers, advanced stealth systems, you name it, we have you beat!” Jayce leaned over to call out to Riven.
“You hear that cutie? You’re welcome to play with our toys at our place!”
Riven let out a sigh of relief when the sliding door to the locker room sealed, cutting off the lance corporal’s noise. Wordlessly, she stepped past her captain. She didn’t know what was in the captain’s mind right now-- better to stay out of his way. She picked up the pace slightly, speeding up to turn the corner as quickly as possible.
“Rookie.” A soft growl cut in. Riven stopped. She licked her lips. Was this bad?
She fingered her bag, feeling the familiar weight of her most hated, most important item she had. With it-- she wasn’t totally defenseless at the moment-- but using it would shatter her vow.
Riven looked up to face her captain.
“We don’t talk with the Royals,” Rengar eyed the private carefully. Riven had expected his eyes to be angry... but in them held no malice. “Understand?”
Riven knew then. This was a test.
Riven considered the situation carefully. What would Luce or Crow have done? Apologized, maybe. They always seemed to act cowed around their massive captain, and Riven didn’t blame them. But they always got beat up at their first slip.
What would Commander Yi do? Riven pondered, he never got beat up.
He would stand up to the Captain.
But the Lieutenant was incredibly strong. He could stand up to whomever he wanted.
Did the Captain value strength of body, or of mind, then? Riven chewed her lip. No, that didn’t make sense. If he valued only physical strength there’d be no point in testing her in the first place. He wants to see how I would react.
Then she would have to take the risk.
“...didn’t want to anyways.” Riven stated back as confidently as she could. The massive Yautja was still scary, and Riven wasn’t sure this was what the Captain wanted-- but as long as she carried that item in her bag, she probably wouldn’t be killed.
“And next time, I don’t need you to baby me. I can handle guys like him by myself.”
Rengar slouched forwards, his lion’s face impassive. The Yautja came up until he was right next to Riven, then bent down to stare into her eyes. Bright, yellow eyes met soft grey ones. The beastial captain’s eyes narrowed as he peered into Riven’s. The private gulped slightly. Did it work?
“Hm.” Rengar stood back up. His eyes shifted away to elsewhere, and without another word, he lumbered away.
Riven waited patiently until the captain’s heaving steps faded into the darkness of the corridors.
Then with an explosive sigh, Riven fell to her knees. She looked down, and found her hands quivering uncontrollably.
That was harder than she realized.
But a grin flickered across her face, as her shaking faded away.
“I’m living my new life,” Riven said out loud. “I’m changed.”
Her words sounded hollow even to herself, but even so, she had this small victory to bear.
She slowly picked herself up, and walked off to the hangar bays. Her first mission was waiting for her.
The Admiral was standing by herself in front of her window again. Her hands were clasped behind her back, her hat was tipped low over her eyes. Once again, Kayle silently joined her side. The AI had just come back from a ship-wide party being held in the hangar bays. She didn’t particularly like parties; but the thrill of interacting with humans was always the highlight of her job. Yet one person was notably absent-- the Admiral of course. And as soon as Kayle noticed the good Admiral missing from the festivities, she knew exactly where to find her.
Kayle mimicked the Admiral’s posture, folding her hands underneath the wings on her back. It was her way of passively mocking the Admiral’s occasional austerity.
"A crushing victory, captain."
Was it? The Admiral though? Lito didn’t respond.
Instead, Irelia stared out the window as the charred remains of what once was The Bloodthirster bounced harmlessly off of the neosteel of her ship. She wondered how many of those blackened pieces floating about in the cold vacuum of space were once people. And of how many more it would take to end this war.
This will not end yet, Lito knew.
"Not yet, Kayle." Admiral Lito turned around and fell back, lying on the plate glass. She closed her eyes, leaned back, and tipped her admiral's hat down. "The Lord of Admirals escaped. As long as he's alive, Noxia will keep fighting."
"I beg to differ, admiral." Kayle pulled up a holographic diagram of the Noxian flagship; dozens of red warnings and symbols littered the surface of the virtual model. "Lord of Admirals Du Couteau barely escaped with his life, Ma'am. The Ravenous Hydra limped away with almost catastrophic structural damage. The damage from our MAC rounds was severe, to say the least-- her remaining functioning engines were running at only 65% capacity and I detected multiple atmospheric leaks along dozens of distinct locations."
Kayle closed the diagram. Admiral Lito got the point. "Simply put, I wouldn't be surprised if The Ravenous Hydra simply fell apart trying to get away."
"Barely escaped with his life." Irelia hissed out, quoting the Ai’s own words. "Almost catastrophic. The man I've dueled with for over seven years, Kayle, would not fall to 'barely' or 'almost'. The Lord of Admirals is alive, and I intend to change that."
The admiral pulled her hat up a fraction of an inch to stare Kayle in the face. The admiral's sharp, hard eyes, simmering with cold rage, drilled into the construct. The AI recoiled a few millimeters, despite the fact that it was beyond irrational to fear a physical being when Kayle existed as data in cyberspace. It was not possible that she could hurt me, Kayle tried to tell herself. Still, Kayle felt it. Fear.
"Kayle. Operation Broken Knife is on standby, right? Send out the Headhunters."
Kayle paused. The AI had thought the Lord of Admirals to be finished-- but she had not remembered to inform the Headhunter teams that their mark was most likely dead. They were probably prepared to leave right now.
Still, what could be the harm in checking? It would also give that Captain Rengar something to do and put a couple hundred light-years in between us and him once he finds his target already dead. The man was already enough trouble when he was in a regular mood. Kayle didn’t want to think about what that Yautja would do if he lost his temper.
"...Aye aye, admiral. Beginning operation Broken Knife at 1670 hours, on my mark." Kayle drew up a holographic timer starting from 6 seconds and winding down. The admiral and the AI watched the numbers descend intently. "... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Mark."
The construct then tapped into some controls.
On the other side of the Infinity Edge, a ship hundreds of times smaller than her mother supercruiser, but still the size of a multi-storied building, detached from the hull. The smaller ship fired up whisper-quiet engines; dark as night and with less radiation than most cell phones. It shot off into space, following the trail of ship atmosphere that The Ravenous Hydra left behind as it jumped away. A ULN Kinkou-class shuttle slunk off stealthily into the night, carrying on board, two veteran Headhunter teams, a squad of ULN marines, ranging from Yautja to cyborgs to humans, and even a wet-behind the ears, fresh, greenhorn rookie. Named Rook Riven.
They were gathered in the lobby of the shuttle, strapped to their seats for the next nineteen hours by heavy safety bars that wrapped over their chests like a roller coaster ride. Riven was seated next to Luce Vayne at the very end of the shuttle. In front of her was a full squad of ULN marines, to her right, the rest of Team Dark was strapped in likewise. Fortunately, Team Royal was seated in the next row of seats, so Riven didn’t have to bear with the good Lance Corporal for nineteen hours straight. The wink he gave Riven as they passed each other while boarding was more than enough of him that Riven could take.
She lay back, and readied herself for another nap, knowing that with her sleep cycle, nothing would bother her for the remainder of the flight.
Then the shuttle lurched, rocking everyone sideways. Normally this wouldn’t have been enough to bother her, but her duffel bag tumbled from her hands in the impact. The black pack slid across the corrugated floor along the side, as Riven flailed for it.
“Ugh!” The strap slipped from her hands at the last second. Her fingers grasped only thin air.
Then a hand shot forwards, and snatched it from the floor. A low chuckle cut in from the owner of the hand that caught the bag.
“Still dropping stuff,” the man sitting next to her ribbed, weighing the pack in his hand by the strap. “eh Rookie?”
The man turned to smile at her, his ocular mask dominating his face.
“Don’t get careless now. That’ll get you killed.” Yi bounced the bag in his hands. His grin turned into a slight frown. He caught the bag firmly, and turned it a bit on it side. His frown deepened. “This bag is about four kilos too heavy. I know you’re new rookie, but how could you overpack like this?”
Yi unzipped the pack, still frowning.
Riven’s eyes widened.
Yi stopped. Then looked down at the hand that had grabbed his forearm. Riven’s. It took Riven a second to realize that she had lunged forwards to seize Yi’s arm.
“Please... wait, Sir.”
“...what’s in this bag, Rookie?” Yi didn’t back down. “We’re about to embark on a dangerous missions, with too many unknown variables. If I can’t trust you, I can’t fight. I’m your superior officer, and I need to know.”
Yi turned to stare at Riven. His lenses drilled into her.
Slowly, she let her hand down.
“...Thank you, Rookie.” Yi reached in, and pulled out a flashlight, a water flask, some medical supplies and... His fingers brushed on something hard, wrapped in rough paper. Not a gun, or any ordinary tool that Yi knew of. He gripped the package, and pulled it out of the pack. It was about the size of the base of the bag, around two and a half feet long. And a half foot wide. Underneath, Yi could feel the solid, giving form of what seemed to be a handle. Slowly, carefuly, he unwrapped the item.
The paper fell away, revealing a blade. Yi drew a short breath. A broken blade, shattered a foot and a half from it’s hilt. The design was unmistakably Noxian, but of a cut higher in quality than most blades manufactured from the empire. The Lieutenant studied the blade carefully. It was almost unbelievable that such a sturdy sword of have been broken. The metal was runic black stone-- a rare, proud element that was nearly indestructible, yet equally difficult to craft with. Yet the insides of what once was a proud, massive blade shone, exposed to the elements, while an inscription in what was symbols of the High Noxian dialect was carved into the blade, half of the word shattered away from whatever broke it.
Yi turned the blade on it’s side to read the inscription. His Noxian was pretty bad, but he could managed a few symbols.
“...ngel?” Yi frowned. “What’s the full name of--”
“It’s name is Traitor.” Riven stated out flatly. Her knees were drawn to her chest, and she was breathing more heavily than before. Her eyes stared off into open space, boring a hole through the steel floor. She buried her face deeper into her knees, her eyes lost in old memories.
Yi sensed he was digging up old wounds. But his curiosity won over his sensitivity.
Her answer was short and curt once more.
“Because it betrayed me when I needed it the most.”
Another image, unbidden, flashed across her mind. Of her, flinging her sword out, trying to block the shot. Of her fleeting, ephemeral sense of relief as she felt the weight of the bullet catch onto her blade.
And of horror, when she felt her blade shatter, and saw the blood of the innocent spill out.
She drew deeper into her shell, while Yi silently wrapped Traitor back up, and placed it back into her bag. He gently put it back at Riven’s feet, while she stared off, lost in her own world.
This was going to be a long mission, he realized, closing his eyes. Too long.
He never did sense her go to sleep.
I don't like how you make the A.I. too human like. For example, Kayle shouldn't have been intimidated by Irelia. But I LOVE YOUR STORY SO MUCH I DONT EVEN CARE
I think somewhere earlier you said something about Irelia's "black" hair. Explanations please.
Is Master Yi your favourite champion? You seem to make him the strongest guy in all of your stories.
Master Yi is not the strongest in this story. Hm... in a pure numbers game, Irelia and Rengar are slightly stronger than him, but not by much. Enough that if you put them all in a ring together, smart money could be on anyone. Kha'Zix also has infinite potential.
Also, Ye, Irelia has black hair.
The lighting in her Chinese artwork makes it much more clear.
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