I was thinking of the story line for Empires II (If we ever do such a thing) and decided to write it in story format. This takes place roughly 75 years after current Empires time. Ill post more as I see fit. Empires II: Dark Messiah The deck lurched upward amidst a brilliant eruption of sparks and flame, dozens of tiny explosions hurling charred plastic and metal across the embattled room as circuitry gave way to the unexpected influx of energy coinciding with unintended vibrations. The acrid smell of burnt wiring and scotched flesh breathed life into the already heavy clouds of smoke and ash bellowing from not only consoles and access panels but from ventilation shafts as well, its normally pale hue set ablaze by the red warning lights dancing feverishly overhead in a desperate attempt to warn the crew of some cataclysmic event. Around the large room a dozen men and women worked just as hard to correct what ever problem the lights told of, some manning their posts, some replacing fallen comrades, and others, relatively new to the bridge, arriving to douse flames and repair damaged circuits. With precision and skill each man and women went about their tasks, moving quickly to keep the inky darkness of space from flooding their vessel and ending all of their lives. "That’s it!" a wounded Lt. shouted from a flickering engineering station, "They've blown out the disrupter array. Weapons offline!" Captain Matthew Patterson swore under his breath. Without the disrupter array the only method to get through his opponents defenses was gone, any missiles he launched would be cut to ribbons by the network of rapid firing guns planted across a starship known collectively as the “defense grid.” Torpedoes moved fast enough to avoid the grid but were inaccurate at best, more like lighting a barrel of explosives and hurling it at your enemy. "Captain" Lt. Masterson, the young communications officer recently assigned to Patterson and his crew, said with fear and apprehension, "It’s the Borodin they wish to discuss our surrender." Patterson's dirty face twisted into a medley of surprised anger, "Response?" He asked in disbelief, "Aft torpedoes! FIRE!" Outside the battered Heavy Cruiser, a half dozen shimmering specks of light leapt forth into the endless blackness of space, each representing a poorly guided, anti-matter tipped, projectile. Caught off guard by the Jekotian Star Ship Ramman's unconventional response to its demand for surrender, the Imperial Star Ship Borodin was slow to respond but, in light of the torpedoes poor guidance, managed to evade all but one of the offending projectiles. "Direct hit!" squealed the new weapon's officer, his predecessor still lying motionless on the floor, a 5 inch shard of steel protruding from his chest. "Minimal damage though," "There coming about" offered the woman at the remaining science station. Patterson didn’t recognizer her but thought it best to save that for a later date. "What’s the status of the GSW?" He bellowed instead. The response, this time from his as yet unscathed first officer, was quick in coming. "Its in working order Matt but without the weapons array we cant channel enough power to get her moving." Nearly an entire heart beat passed before the Captain, his plan unfolding within his head as he moved, reached the navigation console and began barking out orders. "Divert the Life support array to the GSW. If this doesn’t work we won’t need it anyway." Commander Bruce acknowledged his superior's orders with a nod and busily made the necessary computations to retool the life support's power distribution grid to feed the Gravitational Space Warping drive that allowed for faster than light travel. Of course without the grid feeding the Ramman's hundreds of air reprocessing, water filtering, food processing, heating and cooling units, and the countless other subsystems that fell under life support, the crew would soon be taking shorter breaths and shivering in the cold. Without heating units people serving in the outer portions of the ship would freeze to death within only a couple hours, those within the refractory sections near the engine core would bake in less than one. “I need a course set” Patterson explained hurriedly, leaning over the bulky navigation console, “To within 25 meters of the Borodin at maximum light speed.” The Lt. Commander at the station blinked a couple of times in disbelief, “Meters Sir?” The Captain nodded, “Meters. We have to get under their missile defense perimeter. Let me know when you’ve got it. Monroe!” He said now turning to find his communications officer briefly pausing from processing damage, injury and readiness reports, to look his direction. “Get everyone out of the forward sections, sound collision alarms.” He too, with a nod, acknowledged his superior’s commands and began to execute them without question. Patterson had a good crew, had being the key word after this disastrous encounter. Damnit Brandy, what were you doing out here? “Brumby-“ The Captain said aloud but stopped short, remembering the man who had served as his colleague for over 5 years was no more. “Sh*t, weapons.” He clarified, unable to bring Brumby’s replacement’s name to mind, “Program all forward batteries to unload their salvos when we come out of light speed, send the program to navigation when you have it.” A violent jerk forward, or as much as there was such a direction in the void of space, let everyone know the Borodin had reentered weapons range. With the Ramman’s own defense grid still operational her foe would have to resort to particle weapons to pierce her thick armor or, at the very least, to knock out a handful of Anti Missile turrets so that a battery could make it through. Once there was a hole large enough to squeeze in high yield explosive projectiles there was little hope of coming through alive. Turning to look forward at the partially functional view screen that dominated the entire wall, Mathew Patterson locked his jaw and glared menacingly at the sleek Imperial Dreadnaught as it strafed his vessel from the rear before shooting out ahead. He hadn’t been ready for the Borodin when it appeared out of no where 30 minutes ago, interrupting the supply transfer for which Patterson had brought the Ramman to that sector in the first place. Ignoring the lightly armed supply vessel, who returned the favor and sped out of the system at full speed, the larger, more heavily armed Imperial vessel concentrated all of its efforts on its Jekotian counterpart, with devastating results. “Engineering reports ready” The first officer explained, the first trickles of blood beginning to emerge from a new head wound, “auxiliary cooling units have been moved to the refractory sections and life support has been cut. We’ve got two hours.” Navigation decided to join in, “Course set in conjunction with weapons parameters.” “Com?” The Captain asked appearing not to hear the reports form his crew, “Where are we with those evacuations?” The blonde haired woman shook her head in frustration, “it’s a real mess down their sir, we’ve only got the first 3 departments sealed.” Another sharp thud coupled with a loud pang and jerk from above further illustrated the urgency of the situation. “We’re out of time, it’ll have to do.” Inwardly Patterson grimaced and fought off the knot developing in his stomach. With such a risky maneuver at such high speeds the likelihood of actually hitting the Borodin was great and with any impact came to the risk of explosive decompression and, or course, death for anyone in that compartment. He would rather not have to right letters home for those men and women explaining how and why they died but it was far better that he write them for his men, rather than his Admiral writing them for the entire ship. “All hands” He said after taking his seat and flicking the com switch nestled amongst other controls in the arm, “Brace for impact.” A pause while the intercom was switched off, “Helm, engage!” Dozens of immense coils lined front to back within the Ramman’s pair of stubby, thick nacelles began to pulsate with an influx of energy. Quickly the very fabric of space/time surrounding the embattled vessel began to bend and ripple in response to the growing gravitational field emanating from the now glowing engines. Directly in front space was shrank into a small pinch while simultaneously expanded to the rear creating a pseudo wave that all together propelled the Jekotian starship forward at nearly 6 times the speed of light. In a span of time measured only in nanoseconds the distance between friend and foe had been bridged and what had once been a pinch in space now rapidly expanded into a gravitational mountain of invisible space in order to bring the speeding vessel to an abrupt halt.