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Chapter 11: Firestorm
The eleventh chapter in the War Games saga, and refereed by Ash/Paradox, Firestorm promised to have some of the largest battles with an insidious foe, bent on destruction of the UEF and the galaxy as a whole.
The Great Void. Not a place for interstellar travellers to move through lightly. Yet these were the Imperator's bloodhounds, and through any hardship they would not stop until their quarry were in pieces at their feet. They had been through worse and had survived.
A fleet so vast that sensors from one 'wing' of the formation could not pick up the ships comprising the other 'wing'. And this was not their only fleet. And all were on the trail of their quarry. A quarry they had searched for years.
Having been beaten in so many wars, this army had grown even more bitter, more vengeful. And yet something had changed them. Made them yet more terrible. They were not unlike a human once, a powerful and terrible empire which had been destroyed. And yet from the ashes of their own destruction they rose like a black phoenix into something new. And with nobody in the galaxy capable of stopping them anymore, they had cleansed it utterly, and purged it of all that they considered unclean. The men who had resisted had paid for it with their lives. The men who had not had been butchered, liquefied and fed to the women, who were forced out of a true life and into an unconscious existence in a factory, being nourished only for the purpose of giving birth and increasing the numbers and the gene pool of the insidious and unspeakable legions that now surged their way to the Milky Way.
In their obsession with their quarry, they had literally burned half of the galaxy away. The other half, they had enslaved, tortured, mutilated and broken. None had escaped the horrors they brought with them, and the victors had bathed in the blood of the vanquished, their hollow, dead eyes set on one prize, and they lusted with fervour over victory.
They were once the Belkans. They were once the most insidious race in their galaxy. But they were defeated. One of these defeats had been on the planet Hell, where the UEF had left a significant number of them to burn. But from the fires of the Hell, the Belkans rose up. They survived the brimstone and the horrors of the volcanic wasteland, and were rescued by the one ragged Belkan fleet the UEF had missed.
Bent and twisted, the rescuees even turned upon their own bretheren. Their small numbers soon grew as they cloned, modified, altered and altogether butchered their way into a second, even MORE fearsome Belkan Imperium.
Other empires fell, unable to stop their relentlessness. Thermite plasma rained down upon many worlds of the Tanaran Empire amongst others, and her fleet were nothing more than bugs waiting to be squashed by these brand new Belkan vessels.
Gorged on genetic materials, the Belkans' evolution had gone into overdrive. Taking the best and most successful attributes of any race they encountered, they had propelled themselves to a new stage of existence. Their flesh now a yellowing-grey, their bodies seven feet tall and their eyes sunken and full of a burning hate, they have used the vanquished in their own sick experiments to forge all manner of mindless cyborgs, as well as breeding factories where their new young are spawned to mothers of the conquered races, and their growth then accelerated to add new cadre to the ranks.
Natural resources forged weapons of war and not much else, and galaxywide, they have forged a fleet of unimaginable proportions.
And all their now-unsurpassed intelligence now bent to a single purpose.
And now, while their mangled vocal cords growl the words "From the fires of Hell we have come forth to cleanse the universe with fire", they surge forth through the Great Void, following the trail of the one who cursed them with their existence.
The Borg War had been won not by the Alliance, but by another, unseen force. It had torn the Borg fleet apart without even thinking. It had saved RV-113, before crusading against the Borg for a few short weeks, burning or obliterating planets they came across. The Borg fleet could do nothing to halt their advance, and they lost swathes of territory before the Alliance even knew what was going on. By the time the first Allied ships arrived to scout out Borg positions, the whole of Borg space was nothing but smoking rubble or space debris. Very little of the Borg existence remained.
The ferocity with which the invaders had annihilated the Borg showed immediately that they were a force to be reckoned with. The Acean leader, Strategos Ace, had become obsessed with finding out more about these mystery destroyers who had stolen the victory for themselves. Taking his flagship, the Judgement, he scoured the edges of known space, looking and searching for them.
When he did find them, he was in for a shock. A fleet larger than imagination allowed, stretching beyond the range of most sensors, loomed in their vision.
The fleet they faced was the [[Wargames:Foes:Belkan|Second Coming of the Belkans. With a fleet bearing ornamental horns, crests, spines and various other horrific and demonic adornments, the Belkans were a most imposing sight.
The Belkans drew first blood, cutting a hole through the Acean vessel, while also attempting to use the WAR computer virus through a COM channel they opened shortly after. While this virus backfired, they had a whole fleet against one ship.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Alliance knew nothing of the fleet heading their way. The Nologians had attempted to take a recording of the battlefield above RV-113, but it was corrupted and unsalvageable. The Thyferrians had spent time dealing with pirates and consolidating their own borders. The Steltrie had embarked on a golden age of creation and invention.
The first signs the Alliance had of anything wrong was the Thyferrian planet Joscop. After a very small fleet engagement, Joscop was not only encompassed in the Belkan Living Machine, a device which sapped all resources, living and inert, from the planet and gave it to the Belkans, but was later completely annihilated when the token Belkan force left, having got what it came for.
The UEF, too, had made their first related find. A damaged Tanaran