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Old August 17th, 2019, 05:47 AM
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Default Legend of the Stalker's Fang

The seemingly lifeless hulk of the Solomani Far Trader slowly tumbled in the dim glow of the system’s single red dwarf, as the Stalker’s Fang ebbed closer with her serrated camouflaged hull moving like an ocean borne predator through the grim black. Aboard the bridge her captain’s fangs dripped with saliva, as if waiting to deliciously chomp into the stricken vessel that had some how managed to wend its way into the Extents. The Solomani design was odd and alien all at once, yet somehow its half rounded form with a nose that looked like it had been taken from an Imperial type-R and tacked on as an afterthought, promised to be full of wealth—riches taken from the triad-region of space known as the Imperium, Consulate and his own native extents. A new breed of pray. The rounded grill vents on the trader’s topside and her huge tail section “spoiler” that ran her width and was canted aft, added to her strangeness this far out from Terran space. Not altogether an unknown design, but a rarity all the same. The latest data packets stripped from Imperial information traffic identified this ship as the Evening Star. What was inside. What would it taste like? A Solomani ship that had traversed deep black, across the Imperium, as her class name suggested, a far trader. Through fate, luck and circumstance, she had fallen into the hands of some now hapless merchant captain who was about to suffer his vessel’s same fate.

Captain Kahyvagh Gahv again felt his mouth go moist as he instinctively sniffed the air, half expecting the faint scent of blood to be floating on the hundreds of meters of sheer vacuum between the Stalker’s Fang and the Terran. They continued to close with a ship that showed no sign of power, and had given up fighting to no avail.

In the near black of the bridge where the only illumination were the various displays showing attitude, relative velocity and course projection, all of wihch reflected or fell onto Gahv’s gray-black-and-white facial hair, there was nothing but the electronic silence of occasional beeps and computer chirps. The computer graphic of a series of rectangles showing the corsair’s projected intercept course glinted off of Gahv’s deep gray eyes as he stared at the Solomani ship, only briefly turning his head to look at one display to the next, making sure there were no course deviations and that all of his turrets remained locked on target. The fur on the back of his neck had risen to an excited frenzy, but had fallen flat after the Far Trader had lost control and ceased fire. But now he felt a new sense of blood lust, and his mind and heart sent adrenaline and signals to his body that the first phase of the hunt was over, and now the real struggle to bring down the merchant would begin.

Gahv nearly half-snarled his commands for his tactical officer to show the far trader’s position statistics. Energy output, zero. Power output, zero. Scanning emissions, zero. But she was still hot, which meant that there were emergency life support systems running on overtime to compensate for the lethality that the Fang’s gunnery crew had poured into her. No plasma vented, but the dim red glitter and glow of laser heated particles glinting in the red dwarfs light, sheered and blasted from the Terran starship’s hull, created an ethereal stream of sparkling metal which was dazzling to the eye.

Gahv and the rest of his crew did not know what red was, but the shades of dark gray told them a story of a starship that had decided to take a short cut, and now had paid the price for it, so for primate and wolf descendent alike, it was the blood in spite of the Vargrs’ relatively primitive eye structure.

A high pitched beep perked Gahv’s ears, which were silhouetted against the dim bridge lights lighting the single armored sliding door. Gahv’s fur again went erect as his adrenal gland pumped copious amounts of energy into every synapse of his physical being. The fur lining his body bristled from the edges of his ears and down his neck to where his coarse and battle hardened fur met the armored carapace of his combat space suit, a much cursed inferior design to the more expensive and technically superior Imperial armor of nearly the same design. Curse all humanity and their treacherous yet effective contemplative ways. So often they fought as they played, unfairly, and it was only Gahv’s tenaciousness that had seen him, his ship, and his crew through over a dozen raids.

Gahv didn’t pretend to understand humans with their high degree of organization for simple pack hunts, or what they termed as counter insurgency operations, or pirate sweeps—whatever that was. Gahv’s thinking didn’t go beyond pack level tactics, and even then he detested having to share the spoils of a well thought out raid with other ships and their crews. Going alone, like some human crew gone rogue and desiring to don the fur and fangs of his kind by illegally raiding their space lanes, was far more profitable.

Gahv half snarled half barked an order for more tactical data on the human vessel. Treacherous creatures. How did they ever manage to keep ahead of the Vargr technologically, again, was beyond Gahv’s ken, but somewhere deep in the recesses of his hunter’s thinking he knew the humans were up to no good amongst themselves, and would someday bring their own downfall. In the mean time Gahv and others of his kind would have to eek out an existence by lawfully hunting down humans senseless enough to seek fortune in the Extents.

A flurry of numbers and labels coalesced and danced on the tactical display, a CGI image of the Solomani designed vessel appeared, also duplicating her slow tumble. The readout also displayed arrows pointing to breaches, energy or heat sources, and a number of other minutiae that annoyed Gahv. Engineers, gunners, tech experts might find these words and numbers appealing, but all Gahv wanted to know was was she dead or alive. And if she lived, then what was left with her to fight with? If she was dead, then how were her crew faring, and were they armed? Gahv didn’t care who owned it, where it was built, how many owners she had had, her tonnage, nor where she was headed when she came upon the Stalker’s trap. He wanted to know if she was a wounded animal or not.

Gahv’s steely gaze remained unmoved as they closed distance. The predominantly disk like form of the Solomani vessel grew in size with each passing moment as various readouts on the bridge showed approach course and scrolled through thousands of numbers that meant nothing to the crew, but were the life blood of the ship’s AI network. Computer generated graphics of projected paths, rotation rates, distance to various objects, and relative velocity (including her rotational angular velocity) flashed and scrolled over the dozens of screens large and small on the corsair’s bridge. Each light, each photon, each diode found its way to Gahv’s retina, his eyelids twitching in anticipation.

He heard his navigator and copilot exchange some words about approach vector and how to line themselves up with the stricken vessel, but all of it was lost on Gahv. Like the predators of millennia before his time, he stood fixated on what might have been a slab of freshly killed meat. Again he could feel his mouth salivating in anticipation. Instinctively a low barely audible snarl left his gritted teeth as he demanded an update.

Moments later he got a reply and felt the ship’s reverse thrusters fire up to slow and adjust the corsair’s pitch and yaw as pilot and navigator worked in tandem to orient the corsair to secure air locks. The Stalker slewed and pivoted to starboard, and moments later Gahv could hear the boarding gangway fire off from the hull. The impact mutedly translated through the metal supports connecting both ships and holding the high tension fiber corridor in place. The metallic impact was another signifier to Gahv’s psyche. Again, the kill. The hunt. The anticipation.

“Gangway secure, captain.” Came Veelash’s mid toned voice. All business. No hunter’s blood lust in him, for the hunt was over. But for Gahv the thrill was just beginning. Space combat was a dangerous proposition, and not one he relished for all of its silent lethality, but once it was over with, then getting to see inside the bounty they had vanquished was the payoff.

Gahv turned to Veelash, “Standby boarding party. I’ll be there momentarily.”
Sir Ghost, Knight of Imperial occupied Terra, Sol.
Travels with Blue Ghost; musings of a knight of the Imperium.

Last edited by Blue Ghost; August 20th, 2019 at 08:11 PM..
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