Crossover The Greater Game (Babylon 5/BattleTech)

Chapter 1


In Captain America we Trust!
Staff Member
Posted with the permission and insistence of Lightning_Count.

December 2247

The Final Week of the Minbari War

"This was always the dumbest idea we had." General Robert Lefcourt was not subtle in his disregard for the sight sitting beyond the viewports. "How much time and money did we pour into this?"

"Twenty three billion credits." His comrade General Kyle Farrow had long since memorized the number along with a complete breakdown of how and where it had been spent. "Want to know how many nukes we could have made for that?"

"I absolutely don't want to know."

To both military officers there didn't seem to be a lot of product for the investment, certainly not the decisive advantage humanity needed in their current war with the Minbari. To say it wasn't going well was an understatement, the once massive fleets of Earth Force had been systematically obliterated by the superior alien technology of the Minbari. No trick, tactic, wonder weapon or simple weight of numbers had meant a damn. The Minbari were now just a few days away from Earth itself and when they arrived it would mean the end of the human race.

Unless this massive investment paid off.

"Generals, sorry to keep you waiting!" An effulgent personality skidded to a stop beside them, massively out of place amid the dour military personnel. "Ah, sorry, not use to this gravity, and the constant spinning..."

"Doctor Ginelli." Farrow cut off her stream of words. "Can I assume we are ready to test your project?"

"What? Yes, right!" The young woman waved at the window in front of them, the view steadily rotating but keeping the broader scene in focus. Beyond them was the sun, the ship they were stood upon angled so the intense brightness did not pour though the viewports and require polarized goggles. Closer to them was an unusual looking structure resembling a mile wide metal sphere with a massive umbrella style dish pointing back toward the sun. There was nothing else like it anywhere in known space and for good reason in Lefcourt's opinion.

"So run this by me one more time Doctor."

"Right, okay." The energised scientist manually reset her brain by slapping the side of her head. "The problem we have is that the Minbari are coming here to kill us and we can't stop them. If we had time we might but we don't. Because we've almost run out of ships."

"And this machine...?" Lefcourt gestured out the window

"It gives us time. The Minbari are far more advanced than us but still use Hyperspace, they still have to abide by the laws of physics. Hyperspace requires a jump point, a vortex created by perfectly modulated tachyon bombardment that opens the way from hyperspace to real space. But we know that in some places you cannot form a vortex, or even travel through hyperspace due to gravitic interference."

"Is that what your machine does?"

Dr Ginelli pulled a face, then another as she sorted through responses, eventually selecting one. "Not really no. But it does flood hyperspace with tachyons preventing jump point formation. So if the Minbari can't leave hyperspace they can't drop into orbit and murder everyone."

"Fair idea." General Farrow allowed. "Does it work?"

"In a lab, yes, on a practical scale, we'll know in a minute."

"And you placed it here because it needs the sun?" Lefcourt reasoned.

"Yes, exactly, the power requirements are vast and any fusion reactor we built would be absurdly vast. But hey, we have a giant fusion reactor just kind of sitting here." She waved toward the sun. "We just gather power from it and presto, tachyon storm."

"Is this in any way dangerous?"

"Oh yeah, incredibly dangerous!" Ginelli bubbled, quickly pulling it back. "But only if you are in hyperspace. Or standing too close."

"How close is too close exactly?" Lefcourt peered out of the window at the device very pointedly.

"Oh, er, we'll be fine. Probably." Ginelli rocked on her feet. "You already had children right? Joke!"

Lefcourt's expression did not change, he was not appreciating this assignment, someone among the Joint Chiefs was having a great laugh at his expense.

"Are we ready to begin?"

"Sure, it's fully charged, say a prayer to Murphy and off we go!"

The operation did at least look professional, head scientist not withstanding the rest of the team went to work smoothly and efficiently. The monitoring ship they were on bustled with activity, a simple converted liner being the best Earth could offer from its meagre resources. This hyperspace inhibitor was not popular, a waste of effort according to most military officers, but people were desperate for any hope, even from proverbial mad scientists.

"System at capacity, Tachyon generators ready." Ginelli exhaled. "Show time."

She hit the control, space around the device rippling briefly before nothing. The device sat in space as before, quiet and unremarkable. It was a silence mirrored by the two General officers.

"We're down to zero charge, the device activated and dumped its entire power capacity in a single discharge." One of the technicians reported. "Tachyon levels are steady and normal."

"That's impossible, just impossible!" Ginelli bounded up to the monitoring equipment. "Where did all the tachyons go?"

"Twenty three billion well spent." Farrow exhaled. "Any ideas?"

"We better check, just in case it actually did work." Lefcourt raised his hand and tapped the commlink attached to the back. "Comms, put me through to the Lexington."

"Ready sir."

"Lexington, what's the situation over there?"

Sitting slightly more distant behind the monitoring ship was the mission escort, the pale grey and blue heavy cruiser Lexington, her hull showing multiple patches where heavy battle damage had been repaired. She remained under the command of John Sheridan, the by now famous officer preferring the speed and flexibility of a cruiser over the bigger dreadnoughts.

"General, situation here is unchanged." Sheridan replied to the query. "We picked up a pretty big tachyon pulse, but now nothing."

"Same here, but we need a test anyway." Lefcourt followed through on his duty to properly oversee the experiment. "Try to open a jump point, don't head through, just see if its possible."

"Understood sir." Sheridan nodded to his helm officer. "Okay Phil, bring jump engines online, lets see what happens."

The heavy cruiser shunted power from her reactors to the jump systems, a focused stream of tachyons bombarding a point in space at just the right frequency and intensity to bore through and create a spectacular rippling vortex through to hyperpsace. The jump drive worked perfectly, which was not a good sign.

"Did you get that General?" Sheridan transmitted to the monitoring team. "Jump point is open, no apparent anomalies."

"We got it Captain." Lefcourt confirmed. "I think we're done here, shut it down Captain and head back to Venus. We'll need that old Centauri gate online as soon as possible for the evacuation."

"I'll get back to it General, Lexington out."

Lefcourt turned to General Farrow, both of them accepting the same conclusion.

"Alright Doctor, lets pack it up here. You're scheduled for the evacuation fleet and you really don't want to miss your ride."

"I just don't understand." Ginelli scratched her messy hair. "It worked, for a second it worked! We did everything right, but we still failed."

"Don't feel too bad Doctor." Farrow tried a smile. "That might as well be the epitaph of this war."

"I was so sure!"

"Heard that one before too." The General offered. "Shut it down Doctor, you still have a responsibility to your team, make sure they have all they need before you head out."

She took a final long look at the experiment, shaking her head, edging toward tears.

"I just wanted to save Earth."

"Nothing can do that now. Your job is much harder." Farrow related. "You get to save the future."

The Lexington was about ten minutes into its journey to Venus when the navigational system flashed up an error. Lieutenant Philip Marks ran three separate checks, each time getting the same error.

"Captain, do you have a second?"

"Sure, what've you got Lieutenant?"

"Something off in the navigation. According to our local positioning system we're on course for Venus, all local beacons and waypoints are good, but our stellar navigation is going haywire."

"Haywire how?"

"I can't get a fix on any constellations." Marks replied, just as bemused as the ship's computer. "Normally the navigation system runs a secondary check with stellar positioning, pretty pointless here in Sol but handy out on the Rim or known space. It's just routine here, but it keeps throwing up errors."

"Problem in the sensors?"

"I've checked it four times, all clean."

"Can you try it manually?"

"I did sir and, well, I can't find Orion. Or Ursa Major, or any of the big constellations."

"Put the optical view up on the big screen." Sheridan ordered. "They've got to be out there."

The large viewscreen shifted to show the path ahead of them, the planet Venus a bright dot to the front left with a field of stars behind it. It was such a common sight he'd been taking it for granted, just the background of his daily life, but now he looked closely he was also having a hard time picking out the main constellations.

"The hell is wrong with us?" He showed a little frustration. "People have been spotting constellations since they started banging rocks together!"

"I can't see them either sir." Steven Carroll his First Officer chimed in. "Must be going cross eyes."

"Me neither." Jean Alecto added from the sensor station. "Either our instruments are broken or we're not where we should be."

"Venus is still there, the sun's at our back, all the local beacons are active..." Sheridan tailed off. "Can you get the Proxima beacon?"

"One second sir." Marks brought up the long distance navigation system. Proxima was the nearest Earth Colony and while it had recently fallen to the Minbari its navigation beacon would still be active. "I can't reach it Captain. In fact I'm not getting any beacon readings outside local space."

"Did traffic control turn off the beacons?"

"Nothing scheduled sir, we should still be able to pick up navigation routes outside of Sol." Marks shook his head in utter confusion. "Nothing."

"Commander, can me a line to Venusian control." Sheridan ordered.


"Venus Station Prime, this is Lexington. We're having some trouble with our long range navigation. Can you confirm our position using stellar waypoints?"

"Standby Lexington, we're having some problems too." A distinctly irate traffic controller responded. "Our long range system is down too."

"Captain, we may have another issue." Alecto called over from the sensor station. "Can I change the viewscreen to show behind us?"

"Go ahead."

The image shifted to show the sun as expected, but beyond it instead of a plain starfield was a vast colourful nebula dominating the vista. It caught their breath for a moment, the image banishing their doubts and derailing any attempts to rationalise the situation.

"Venus Control." Sheridan's throat was dry. "Have you looked out of a window lately??"
Chapter 2
Jumpship 'Lucky Dip'
Sol System

"Told you it was safe." Pieter Schwartzman grinned triumphantly showcasing his full set of gold teeth to his considerably less confident passengers. "She might not look it but this little beauty is as fast as Jumpships come, you show me another ship that can recharge that quick eh?"

"Fine, fine, a bet's a bet." The largest man on the flight deck fished out some shiny coins and launched them across the zero gravity space to the Captain, Pieter grabbing them out of the air eagerly. "But it's still only a twenty five percent cut."

"Come on Tomas, you don't get service like this for cheap."

"If you want more send a team with us, then you get a raiders cut." Tomas Dane glared back at the Jumpship Captain. "Risk equals reward, you want more money, you come with us and maybe get your head shot off. Thats where the money is."
From the front of the flight deck one of Pieter's men cleared his throat loudly.

"Sitting here in a Suns system waiting for you to finish pillaging is plenty risky enough."

"No Piet, it really isn't."

The crewman coughed again very pointedly.

"What if a patrol shows up? Know how many guns I've got on this thing? It's a nice round number!"

"Nobody is going to blow you up, this crate is far too precious." Tomas waved the protest away. "Twenty Five."
The crewman coughed again.

"No they'll just board us and gas us and... what the fuck Fran, just spit it out!"

"We're not in Suns space, the jump resolved early." The crewman finally reported. "I don't know and I don't know, it just did, we're about a jump short."

Tomas quietly propelled himself over to hover face to face with Pieter, the massive passenger about double the scrawny Captain's size.

"Perfectly safe to run a fast recharge you said."

"Hey, we're alive!" Pieter defended. "So okay, maybe its a bit of a delay..."

"The cut is now twenty percent, and be glad I'm not taking those shiny teeth for screwing my schedule."

He sneered a little but was in no position to argue, not with a well armed bandit anyway.
"Where are we anyway?"

"I thought maybe Cooperland, dead world." The navigation tech frowned. "But this place aint dead, There's a lot going out there, this is a real colony."

"It's dead out here, aint no planets worth having." Tomas pushed Pieter aside to look at the displays, scrunching up his face as he made the effort to read. "What's that mean?"

"It means there is one big habitable planet, third one out, looks a real big one." The tech said.

"Plus some smaller settlements, I'd guess mines on the crappy worlds."

"And this weren't on no maps?"

"Not one, must be a lost colony."

"Doing pretty well for itself too." Pieter checked the data. "So this location worth something right?"

Tomas rubbed his chin, the big bandit weighing options. "Yeah, it's worth something. Ain't no AFFS here to defend this place, don't look like anyone else has been here maybe since the old days. Ripe for the picking, this place would be worth a fortune back in Tortuga."

"So... pretty good accident right?" Pieter raised a hopeful eyebrow. "Thirty percent good?"

"Twenty five, but fifty fifty when we sell the location." Tomas negotiated. "And maybe thirty when we come back."

"Okay, good, so you gonna start then?"

"Course I'm gonna start." Tomas spat. "This place is way better than some shitty farmers on some shitty frontier."

"Okay, great, so you going for the big one or..."

"I have two drop ships and no mechs, course I ain't going for the big one!" Tomas snarled, somewhat in anger and somewhat because he knew he didn't have the personal resources to fully exploit this fortuitous find. This could have made him a pirate king, instead somebody else with a real raiding force would get all the good loot. Still, he could fill his pockets nicely.

"I'll go hit the nearest station, then we bounce and make real money on the second trip."

"Works for me boss, I'll just sit here, recharge the jump engines, be waiting for your glorious profitable return."

"Make sure you do." Tomas glared. "This will make us both rich, and you don't want a rich pirate as an enemy."

"Contract is a contract." Pieter raised his hands and smiled that golden smile. "Have fun out there."

Earth Dome

The conference room was one of the larger rooms here at the seat of government, its broad windows looking out over lake Geneva and the spectacular views beyond. The massive wooden table at the centre of the room could seat forty people and was today completely inadequate. The staff had brought in extra chairs to huddle about twice as many people at the table and it still wasn't enough. A crowd lined the walls and clustered in any open space, all of them needed to be there.

The President as was usual sat at the top of the table and was the only person with some actual elbow room. To her left was the cabinet, all of her major ministers. To the right the Joint Chiefs and her senior military. At the far end of the table her science advisors, and everywhere else the rest of her staff and advisors.

"When you say we have moved, just clarify for me again what that means." President Elizabeth Levy rested the side of her head on her hand trying very hard to fight off another head ache. She was ragged, worn out, presiding over the Minbari War and what looked like the extinction of mankind had aged her forty years. Now here was something else, only this time she had no idea how she was supposed to react.

"It is as it sounds, Madam President." Her chief science advisor Professor Aldebaran Klein delivered in serious monotone, his persona in stark contrast to the barely contained Angela Ginelli, still fizzing on the edge of explosion as she sat next to him. "Based on our calculations we have moved approximately six hundred lightyears rimward of our previous location."
"You're talking about the whole planet? The entire solar system?" Levy checked. "And everything in it?"

"Yes Madam President, specifically everything within a quarter lightyear of Sol itself."

"How? How is that even possible?"

"I don't know Ma'am, we are working on it." Klein shook his head. "We were experimenting with a system to create a tachyon field around our solar system, but it was in no way powerful enough to have any of these effects."

"Any yet here we are."

"Yes Madam President, it is undeniable, here we are. Stable, no disruption to planetary orbits, it is as if we were lifted and placed perfectly in this new location."

"Maybe all those prayers to deliver us from the Minbari were heard after all."

"Or the Tachyon envelope interacted with hyperspace in an unexpected way to create a phase event of unbelievable magnitude." Ginelli chipped in, quickly backing down in the austere company. "As a different option."

"Whatever the reason we are here now, that cannot be denied." Levy accepted the truth as presented. "So where is here? Six hundred lightyears? That's not outside explored space."
"No ma'am, we're not as far out as Omega sector, which is our furthest explored location." Klein agreed. "But there are some radical changes. The hyperspace beacon network has vanished, aside from our own planetary beacons and the two gates at Sol."

"We should still be well within the network, even if our location has changed." General Lefcourt added. "This isn't a problem with our navigation systems, the network is just gone, it doesn't exist."

"Which limits our ability to use hyperspace, as you know ma'am with no beacons to lock on to our ships will become lost in hyperspace within minutes. No ship so lost has even been found again." Klein made himself clear. "Until we reconnect to the network, we are isolate. No ships in or out."

"Including Minbari ships?" Levy asked.

"Yes." Lefcourt answered. "So in a way our experiment worked, just not as planned."

"Can we contact our Colonies? Tell them what has happened?"

"We haven't been able to contact anywhere outside Sol, neither our own colonies or alien powers." Klein continued. "Normally we can also pick up news broadcasts from the Narn, Centauri, League, but we've got nothing."

"At first I thought the tachyon field was jamming all signals, the comms, the beacons, all of it." Ginelli chipped in. "But the tachyons are gone, there's just nothing there."

"Let's hear some options, Generals?" Levy turned to her military.

"Well Madam President, for better or worse we have what we wanted. The Sol system is cut off.

" General Anton Denisov, head of the Joint Chiefs related. "Warship production at Mars and Io is ongoing, training is continuing, and we are close to deploying the Aegis defence satellites. This might be exactly what we needed."

"At the price of abandoning all our colonies?" Levy reminded. "We need to find a way to make contact."

"I'm working on boosting our tachyon relays." Klein spoke. "But frankly Madam President we should already be well in range of standard communications. I can't explain why we have no signals."

"We have two explorer ships waiting to go Ma'am." General Lefcourt made his comment.

"They were going to evacuate with the civilians but we can put them back on their main duty of deploying new beacons. Try to link us up again with the jump gate network."

"Though I should note Madam President that all of these acts could once again alert the Minbari to our presence." Denisov cautioned. "We should balance our need to communicate with our remaining colonies and the need to guard the lives on Earth."

As Levy considered the options a young officer entered the room, squeezing past the packed group to make his way to General Denisov. He leaned down, whispered a few comments in the senior officer's ear, then withdrew. The old General took a moment, then turned to Levy.

"Madam President, I've just been informed an unknown vessel has entered our space."


"Yes Ma'am, it isn't Minbari but doesn't match any known design."

"How did it get here?" Klein raised. "We're off the beacon network, nothing can reach us."

"We don't know, Earth sector command is sending a ship to intercept. We'll know more then."

"General, could this be a First Contact situation?" Levy asked, her headaches tripling.

"Very possible Ma'am."

"Then in the name of all that is good and holy, send the best man for the job this time."

EAS Lexington

"I knew this was going to get busy but this is ridiculous."

"Long range sensors confirm it." Lieutenant Alecto reported over. "Three unidentified contacts, one holding station over the Sun, two more burning for Venus. None are Minbari."
"We were helping organise the guard fleet for the evacuation, then helping out with the tachyon field experiment, then hurled six hundred lightyears without noticing, and now we're carrying out a First Contact. All within..." Sheridan checked his watch. "Ten hours."

"And we've still got time for a major diplomatic incident leading to another war." Carroll piped in optimistically. "At this rate we'll be executed by tea time."

"Thank you Commander, I'll know who to go to if I ever start feeling too happy in the future."

"Here to help sir."

"Phil, can we make a jump or are we going there the old way?"

"We can jump sir, the planetary beacons are good enough for in system travel." The navigation officer confirmed. "But anything beyond half a lightyear is very dicey."

"Good enough for me." Sheridan exhaled. "Alright, we better get this done. We'll take a defensive posture but keep weapons safe and maintain a respectful distance."

"Understood completely." Marks tapped in the destination. "Ready to go sir."

"Make the jump, nice and steady." Sheridan gave permission. "Hope these guys are friendly.

Jumpship Lucky Dip

Fran Waters was not expecting company, and he definitely wasn't expecting the sort of company that opened a massive glowing swirl out of nowhere and dropped twelve hundred metres of grey steel in his face. If not for the zero gravity he would have fallen from his chair as a cacophony of alarms all sounded at once.

"What the..." He struck each alarm in succession to turn it off, swiftly aligning the sensor suite to target the bizarre anomaly. Within seconds the swirling vortex was gone leaving just the ship. That did lessen his problems but still meant he was looking at something that should not exist.

"The hell was that damn noise?" Pieter cruised into the bridge angling to see from the forward windows. "Did you break something?"

"Warship." Fran said rapidly. "Its a fucking warship."

"Bullshit, there are no more warships!" He peered through the windows. "They all got wasted back in...oh."

"Its there, its really fucking big, and it's heading this way!" Fran was working the controls fast.
"You wanna know our jump charge? Three percent. It's three percent boss. I'm putting that in the computer and it says we're fucked!"

"Just chill okay, chill, technically we haven't done anything wrong." Pieter fought to keep calm, his brain sifting through a catalogue of excuses. "We always knew one day the cops or whatever might catch us, just style it out."

"This isn't some Davion patrol, that's a battleship boss, look at it! That's a McKenna!"

"It's not a McKenna, it's much too small. Probably."

"It's Kerensky! We found the fucking Star League! Oh shit we're dead!"
Pieter slapped his panicking pilot at the back of the head.

"Just shut up and let me handle this! Are you calm? Get calm Fran, get calm right the fuck now."

"Okay, okay." He took some breaths. "Okay, I'm in control."

"Open a channel, and be nice. Leave it all to me."

EAS Lexington

"That's funny, I'm getting a response." Carroll checked his console. "Signal from the ship."

"Already?" Sheridan exclaimed. "We only just sent them interlac!"

"It's coming through on an old EM frequency, radio." Carroll raised an eyebrow. "I'll put it on speakers."

The entire bridge twitched their ears working to split their attention between their duties and this first communication with a completely new alien race.

"Hey, hey good morning over there, or whatever time it is. How are you? We're good over here, just recharging our drives. We'll be going soon. Nice sun you've got."

Sheridan shared a look with his First Officer who raised his eyebrows back.

"This isn't interlac, it isn't going through the translator. They're speaking English, a dialect of it anyway."


"No answer for you Captain, but this is coming in real time."

"Guess we better say something back then." Sheridan tapped a control to connect to the comms system.

"I'm Captain John Sheridan on behalf of the Earth Alliance. We mean you no harm, are you from nearby?"

Lucky Dip

"Thank fuck for that." Fran exhaled hard.

"Don't relax that sphincter yet, he might change his mind if he notices Tomas going for his space station." Pieter cleared his throat and reconnected the microphone. "Captain, thank you for the welcome. We don't want to impose on your time, we just need a few days to recharge our drives and then we're on our way."

"Understood, we haven't seen a propulsion system quite like yours." The warship commander continued his pleasant but unwelcome conversation. "Can we ask you a few questions?"

"Of course officer... Captain."

"How are we able to speak the same language? Where did you learn these words?"
Pieter gave Fran a look and shrugged. "Taught it like anywhere else. English is the main trade language so we all know it. I speak Dutch too but not usually on the job."
There was a very long pause before the voice returned.

"Do you know what a human is?"

"Well, yeah, funny question." Pieter laughed. "Though I guess a lot of my clients barely qualify!"

"Are you originally from Earth?"

"I don't know any Earth, I'm from Atreus, out in the Free Worlds."

"Terra." Fran hissed a whisper. "He means Terra."

"Terra? Oh yeah, course, Terra, that's Earth, right, sure it is. Like you come from, with the big warship. Not personally but I knew a couple Terrans once. They were absolute sons of... great guys."

He swallowed as there was an awkward silence.

"Anything else?"

EAS Lexington

"How is this real?" Sheridan asked the same question he had asked a dozen times already.

"They're human?"

"Sensors confirm it, that's English writing on the ship." Alecto highlighted on the big viewscreen. "Thing could use a clean."

"Anyone heard of Atreus? Could it be a city out on one of the newer colonies?"

"No sir, nothing in any database." Carroll shook his head. "And who says Terra?"

"Free Worlds sounds like it would be a pretty big group, more than a few planets." Marks mulled over. "We would have heard of it."

"They have to be some sort of off shoot, descendants of an old experiment, some jump system from before we met the Centauri." Alecto guessed. "Left Earth a century ago on a failed experiment, except it didn't fail and here they are."

"Not enough time to expand this much." Carroll shook his head. "Maybe we should ask them?"

"Starship Lucky Dip," Sheridan read the painted on name from the viewscreen, "how did you end up here?"

"Total accident." The voice returned. "We had no idea this place even existed, we thought you were just a stop off between jumps. We're as surprised by this meeting as you are!"

"I doubt that." Sheridan muttered. "We didn't pick up your jump point, how did you arrive here?"

"Same way as anyone, just jumped in from a mid range spot as we made our way to the Suns. For honest trading."

"Which Suns? Are they nearby?"

"Yeah, the Suns. The Federated Suns, about fifty lightyears away. Can't miss them, just look for the light shining out of Ian Davion's ass."
The bridge crew shared a look between each other confirming nobody knew the name.

"And now you're recharging your jump engines with this solar sail?"
"Safest way to do it, and safety is my priority."

"Alright." Sheridan accepted. "What about the other ships? The two ships burning for Venus. What do they want?"

Lucky Dip

Pieter was ready for this. "I don't know Captain, we're just a civilian transport carrying dropships to their destination."

"But you said you had no idea we were here?" The warship pointed out. "So how can we have been their destination?"
Pieter bit his lip. "I suppose it was a mistake, we just carry cargo, the client decides where to deploy it."

"So those two vessels are cargo ships? Looking to open trade relations?"

"....yes.... I suppose..."

There was a lengthy pause.

"Is there something we need to know about those ships?"

"What ships?" Pieter asked innocently. "The cargo ships? I don't know, I mean they might be carrying dangerous cargo."

"Dangerous how?"

"Dangerous... armed pirate raiders dangerous."
Another long pause.

"Captain?" Pieter spoke into the silence. "Mind if we just finish charging and leave?"

"I don't think so." Sheridan answered flatly. "I'm going to need you to shut down your systems and prepare to be boarded."

"That's... That's just a total overreaction and..."

"Any resistance will be met with lethal force. I strongly advise you to comply."
He glanced over at Fran, both accepting the situation.

"Powering down now Captain, I'll meet your people at the docking hatch."
He killed the transmission and shared another look with his pilot, both thinking the same thing.

I was kind of hoping the pirates would make it out and sell the location. A proper pirate fleet comes back and gets absolutely dickslapped. Now it looks like first contact will be on EA terms.

My only complaint is 23 billion credits isn't that expensive for the military of in interstellar polity, assuming rough GDP per capita as the early 90s US, which I'm guessing mentions of credits mirrored. Someone who is used to EA military budgeting probably wouldn't be too concerned about that kind of money being thrown around on hare-brained projects when survival is on the line.
I was kind of hoping the pirates would make it out and sell the location. A proper pirate fleet comes back and gets absolutely dickslapped. Now it looks like first contact will be on EA terms.
Naahh...this is how the EA gets a picture of how far afield they've actually gotten. It'll be interesting to see how the pirates POV 'shades' that picture.

This could get very interesting as with the military hardware Earth Alliance has even now with their forces depleted by the Minbari they can easily become a major power in the Battletech universe.
How are you going to balance the tech difference?

B5 doesn't really get into the nitty gritty of tech, but they do have pistol level ppc's. And they do know that both force fields and gravity manipulation is real.....

Different FTL's. And Telepaths......

Interesting, indeed.
How are you going to balance the tech difference?

B5 doesn't really get into the nitty gritty of tech, but they do have pistol level ppc's. And they do know that both force fields and gravity manipulation is real.....

Different FTL's. And Telepaths......

Interesting, indeed.

Powerful, but limited.
I imagine that Btech stuff is a bit hardier, but that damage output could be higher for the EA since there's nothing the BT'verse has that mitigates incoming fire the way Interceptors do for EA ships.
Chapter 3
Approaching Venus

"Bearn, this is Phoenix flight, I have the targets in sight. Two contacts, large landing shuttles, they appear armed."

"Copy that Phoenix, keep your distance and check them out." Their command vessel responded. "Do not fire unless fired upon."

"Roger that, keeping station."

Captain Dan Spencer watched closely as the main screen dominating the forward end of the bridge relayed images from his Starfury flight, the nimble craft dodging around the two inbound vehicles. They didn't match any known types but they looked decidedly human in origin, fat bodied aerospace craft with heavy delta wings upturned at the tips looking very similar to older generation heavy orbital lifters. These incoming craft however were much better armed and upon closer inspection about twice as big as the Earth Force equivalent.

"This is Phoenix leader, we are being painted but not engaged yet."

"Understood Phoenix, standby." Spencer grimaced. He had been warned by Captain Sheridan on the Lexington that the inbound ships could be hostile, and that their weapons and technology were unknown. Naturally that made Spencer cautious but if they got much closer to Venus they could threaten the scientific base there, and the old Centauri jump gate left there after Earth made its own version at Io. "Alright comms, give us a channel, the frequency Sheridan used."

"Ready sir."

"Unidentified vessels approaching my position, this is the Earth Alliance Starship Bearn requesting you cut engines and declare your intentions."

There was no immediate answer, the two ships continued.

"I say again, cut your engines and declare your intentions. If you do not we will open fire."
That at least triggered a response, the two armed transports putting some distance between each other and angling for attack.

"Last warning incoming vessels, cut engines and declare your intentions."

"Captain, they are painting us along with the fighters!" The sensor officer warned. "Launch transient! Missiles in the sky!"

"Interceptors, do your thing." Spencer grimaced, the range was pretty long which gave his interceptors a nice leisurely time to plink the incoming projectiles, but his guns couldn't respond yet. "Fighters, move to disable."

"Phoenix flight, fangs out, taking target."

The six fighters accelerated, focusing on the lead ship, the bulky vessel rolling to bring a top mounted turret to aim. All six craft broke into pairs and spread out, a bright spear of plasma arcing past.

"Confirm plasma weaponry on hostile craft. Targeting engines."
The leading Starfury made a quick pass, blue pulse cannons ripping into the rear of the transport.

"Hit, that's some heavy armour though. Two, make your run."

The second Starfury accelerated in only for it to shudder, then roll out of control spouting flames.

"That's a laser cannon! Phoenix flight break off and reform!" The squad leader called out.

"Phoenix flight defensive!"

"Dammit." Captain Spencer growled through his teeth, lasers were a particular enemy for fighters, too fast to dodge and usually the preserve of frigates. Lasers on such a small ship was a nasty surprise. "Guns? In range yet?"

"Any second now Captain, all weapons answering."

"Target that lead ship and erase it from my sky."

The Hyperion heavy cruiser bared its teeth, heavy pulse cannons making final tiny adjustments and leading the target a little, the incoming transport burning straight for them. Maybe it was suicidal bravery, maybe supreme confidence, maybe rank stupidity, but whatever the reason the transport craft still received a full pulse salvo to the face and instantly ceased to exist.

"Target down, switching to second hostile."

"Captain, the second ship just cut engines, they are signaling their surrender."

"At least they have common sense." Spencer nodded. "Have Phoenix flight detach a fighter to see if their comrade ejected, other craft will put guns on that vessel."

"Aye sir."

"Inform our Marines to tool up and standby for some work."

EAS Lexington
Returning to Venus.

Sheridan had decided, perhaps wisely, not to risk a hyperspace jump with his new prize, the fairly dainty Lucky Dip lashed to the upper hull of the Lexington with towing cables. It was a pretty ad hoc arrangement and not very safe in his view, the last thing he needed was to lose this unique new vessel to the mists of hyperspace.

Still, the days long voyage had given his people time to look around inside the captured ship finding a mix of the familiar, the unusual, and the downright bizarre. He had taken some time to cross over himself, peering at the thick heavy consoles lining the flight deck of the relatively small jumpship with their keyboards and rows of switches.

"Captain, what do you think?"

He twisted to greet his engineering officer, Lieutenant Commander Gemma Harlow, a gruff almost perpetually grease stained old fashioned technician. He had no idea where she found grease on a space going heavy cruiser and had long since decided not to ask.

"I think this belongs in a museum." He rotated in zero gravity to clear the way for the engineer. "This stuff looks like the Space Shuttle they have in Florida."

"It does Captain, it does, but it's deceptive." Harlow gave the ship a little credit. "The controls are pretty, well, rustic, and the wiring is like a modern art painting, but the hardware underneath is pretty respectable."

"How so?"

"Bottom line? This ship is older than dirt, but it's still running. There is dust in the junction boxes that I think has been there since the Pyramids, and the safety warnings on the reactor deck were inscribed when Moses got the Commandments. But they work, this thing is so robust I cannot express in mere words how godlike the engineers who put this thing together were. It is perfectly idiot proof, which is lucky because looking at some of the patch jobs it's seen a lot of idiots."

Sheridan could respect that, he knew Harlow to be utterly merciless when it came to her profession. If she was saying good things about this ship it was well earned.

"Think you can get it working?"

"I think it would be hard to break it." She retorted. "My only issue is the computer, it's old digital or analogue, our optical technology doesn't plug in. I think they do have some sort of optical tech because I've found some very suspicious 'entertainment' discs in the Captain's cabin, but the flight computer is built basic and functional. I'll need to jury rig an interface."

"Whatever you need Commander." Sheridan nodded. "Whatever is in this thing, I think it's going to be the discovery of a lifetime."

"Well if you want to bring the President aboard give me six hours to clean it up, this thing is built like a space Volvo but it smells like jockstrap."

"I didn't want to say anything." Sheridan suppressed a grin. "I'll leave you to it, take whatever you need. I'll go have a long chat with our new guests."

Sheridan took his time moving across the docking tube, the change from the grimy worn down transport to the Lexington was like night and day. Among the fleet the Lady Lex was considered an elderly ship, a first generation Hyperion Class cruiser getting on for three decades old now, but compared to the prize they had taken she was a virtual newborn.
The brig was situated in the aft end of the main hull, the rows of cells accommodating the small crew of the cargo ship. There had been no trouble, the crew seemingly comfortable with a decent meal as the Lexington made her way back to base. Separate from the crew was the Captain, Sheridan nodding to the officer on duty to unlock the doors and let him through.

"Captain Schwartzman." Sheridan offered a greeting, grabbing the handles just inside the doorway to arrest his motion in the zero gravity. "How are things? Did you get some lunch?"

"I did, I should thank you. I mean it's been a while since I had liquidised everything but it was filling." The civilian grinned with his gold teeth. "Eating a three course meal through a straw, it's an experience."

"Your ship is Zee-Gee too, what do you eat?"

"Similar stuff but cheaper, and we do have a small wheel section so normal meals are fine. You don't have those?"

"We do but this is a military ship, we don't always have the luxury of leaving our stations." Sheridan kept a watch on his prisoner. "Now the small talk is done I need your access codes for the computer on the Lucky Dip."

"Just like that?" Pieter asked.

"I believe in getting to the point."

"Well, I can understand how you might want a look, I mean I figure you've been stuck here for what? Two or three hundred years?" Pieter reasoned. "History was never my thing."

"How do you figure that?"

"You're obviously Star League, nobody else has ships like this, not even the biggest powers." Pieter shrugged. "You hid out here when Kerensky left and just kept a low profile. But now I'm guessing your interested in knowing what life is like back out there. How am I doing so far?"

"Pretty warm."

"So you want to look at my Nav Charts, see where I've been, a get a feel for how strong the local powers are. Maybe head back to Earth and take over?"

"That's a bit of a leap, but yes, we do want to gain intel on local star systems."

"Then my friend you are talking to the right man!" Pieter beamed. "I've travelled to hundreds of systems, if you want to know about local cultures, customs, military power maybe too..." Pieter winked knowingly. "I have all that, and I am happy to share."

"I'm glad to hear it. You can start with the access codes."

"Well, you see, that might be a problem. You see I have a lot of private data on there. Bank codes, personal letters, my home video collection, stuff that no man needs to see apart from me. You get me don't you?"

"What I do get, Captain, and what I think you're missing, is that you are a pirate and under arrest." Sheridan pointed out succinctly. "And your ship is the property of the Earth Alliance now."

"I'm just a trader, I had no idea I was carrying..."

"Cut the crap Captain, we took one of those transports and its crew alive, their story about how involved you were is pretty different."

"You'd believe the word of a pirate?"

"No, which is why I want those codes. We will just break in the old fashioned way but if you save us the time and effort it will look good at your trial."

"I wouldn't be so hasty Captain." Pieter wagged a finger. "Those old jumpships, I mean you go messing around with the computers it could cook off the reactor. Even for a warship that's pretty bad."

"You're right." Sheridan nodded. "You know your ship is about twenty meters that way?" He pointed to the roof of the cell. "Is that minimum safe distance?"

Pieter cleared his throat. "Well, maybe in the interests of friendship and proving I'm not an actual pirate, maybe I can unlock the system. As a gesture of good faith. And not getting irradiated."

"That's very magnanimous of you."

"Yes, I'm a very magnanimous person." Pieter had no idea what Sheridan had just said but assumed it was a good thing. "Which means I won't go to jail?"

"Don't push it."

"I can't be your guide to the universe if I'm in jail now can I?" He wiggled his eyebrows. "Think about it, maybe we can talk after you take a peek into my nav logs. See what you're really getting yourselves into."

Geneva, five days later.

If anything the Presidential meeting room was even more packed than before, the room filled almost to bursting with assorted suits and uniforms. Once again the military sat to President Levy's right, but this time a gaggle of scientists were close on her left reflecting their new importance.

"The prisoners have been highly cooperative." General Denisov began. "They were independent pirates and raiders unassociated with any of the named governments. They had no flight plan filed, have no FTL comms, and are very unlikely to be missed by anyone. For now at least our presence here appears to be unknown."

"Are we any closer to defining where here actually is?"

"We are Madam President." Professor Klein picked up. "We have unlocked the data banks within the ships we captured, both are centuries old and have an extensive record of places they have been and events that have transpired. The crews were also able to provide a potted history of the region and it is in equal measures disturbing and mind blowing."

"I had to check my ears every five minutes to make sure my brain hadn't leaked out." Dr Ginelli guffawed a laugh before the silence made her quiet down. "That was a joke. Actually it would run out of your nose."

Dr Klein stepped to take control of the narrative before Ginelli went on a tangent. "The bottom line is ma'am that we have not only moved through space, but also through time and if the history lines up across the boundaries of reality into an alternate version of the universe."

"A sort of multiverse theory?" Levy asked. "Like that movie?"

"Yes Madam President, except it now appears that it is no longer a theory."

"We're calling it the Ginelli event, after me." The female scientist beamed a massive proud grin. "Because my machine broke everything."

"According to the data we have gathered it is the year 3006." Klein had long since become used to the over excited scientist behind him. She was difficult to work with, impossible to control, but also the smartest person in a room of very smart people. "And even more unbelievably there are no aliens."

"None contacted at least." Ginelli added. "Beside some basic life forms, animals, virus families. Nothing sapient. At least so far."

"The maps we've seen show mankind in this reality has expanded by well over a thousand light-years in all directions, more than enough to encompass League, Narn, Centauri and we believe Minbari space. But there is nothing to show anywhere that those races ever existed." Klein shook his head. "Not a single one of dozens of encountered alien species."

"So this galaxy is entirely human controlled?"

General Denisov took over. "As far as we can tell It is Ma'am, but not regrettably united." Denisov inhaled deeply. "The situation is extremely tense Madam President, there are at least five major powers each controlling hundreds of star systems each, plus dozens of smaller powers. Most of them control more resources than we do, in the case of the larger powers several hundred times more."

"The human population is estimated to be in the trillions." Lefcourt added. "With multiple highly developed planets far exceeding any of our old colonies."

"Is there a version of Earth here?"

"There is, though Terra is the preferred name." Lefcourt answered. "However it is no longer considered a major power base and controls virtually no territory. Though it does appear to retain influence in some scientific and communication fields."

"The defining aspect of the galaxy as we can see it is that each civilization is recovering from a series of catastrophic wars." Denisov picked up. "At one time about two and a half centuries ago the galaxy did have a single overall ruler based on Earth, an entity known as the Star League. Unfortunately it collapsed after a coup and the subsequent disappearance of of the unified League military. Without the presence of a large neutral military to keep the peace regional powers began to try and gain greater control leading to what is known as the Succession Wars. By all accounts they were devastating beyond words."

"The galaxy as it stands now is almost post apocalyptic." Lefcourt spoke grimly. "They went from a level of sophistication equal, and in many ways superior to our own, and have managed to lose almost all of their scientific and technical base."

"That is not to say it is a wilderness out there." Klein cut in. "From what we can see many worlds still have a very comfortable standard of living and enjoy plenty of technology. The issue is they have lost the knowledge to understand much of that technology, they can reproduce it but have no idea how much of their machinery works."

"Which also means they have stagnated, and can't replicate the science which was common before their wars." Ginelli seemed pained. "Simple things like water purification, pollution filtering, even the ability to grow sufficient crops to feed everyone... things we take for granted, have all been lost."

"For every planet with a high standard of living there are dozens far worse off, and many that are barely above subsistence levels. Places were farms run on Oxen pulling ploughs, where men dig mines with hand tools and die before reaching middle age from simple ailments." Klein shook his head. "The galaxy simply does not have the knowledge or resources to alter that, not yet anyway, and the continued hostility of the surviving nations does not help."

"We have identified five major powers and have a broad idea of their systems of government, none of them are ideal." Denisov ran through. "All of them run on a type of dictatorship with one man in charge, usual a member of some sort of Royal dynasty."

"Feudalism came back with a vengeance." Ginelli hoped to simplify. "Things have gone medieval."

"There are strong similarities to Medieval Europe and Sengoku era Japan." Klein agreed. "But it isn't that simple and you can see parallels to twentieth century communist despots and sixteenth century renaissance intrigue. Things are as complex as you'd expect from such a huge population."

"I see." Levy was feeling another headache. "So the question is how do we proceed?"

"What is inevitable is that we cannot simply remain here and hope to be unnoticed." Denisov spoke seriously. "We are vastly outnumbered by any of the main powers and they have all shown highly aggressive foreign policy. Taking things by force is commonplace, they have no hesitation in using military power if it suits their needs."

"We also lack a means to strike back." Lefcourt stepped in again. "There is no jump gate network, no beacons, our ships cannot go more than half a lightyear or so using their current drive systems."

"We have captured a local FTL drive, it is being secured at the Venusian science complex as we speak." Klein said. "Doctor Ginelli will be heading out there immediately to handle the research. As soon as we drain some of the caffeine from her bloodstream so she is safe to transport by spacecraft."

"That's right." She nodded three times rapidly. "What?"

"We also have two Explorer ships available to lay a new beacon network. That will let us travel but only along marked regions. We can lay a path to one, maybe two stars at a time, but setting up beacons for the entire galaxy would be impossible." Lefcourt shook his head. "We'd be talking thousands of years."

"So it seems we will need to learn how to use the local jump systems then." Levy turned to Ginelli. "We'll be relying on you for the next step, Doctor."

"I'm ready for it, Miss President." Ginelli grinned widely, then looked at the floor. "I put my shoes on the wrong feet."

"Dr Klein." Levy looked to the older scientist. "Maybe go with her?"
I think Captain Schwartzman is my favorite character in this.

He's just so flexible!
"You know, when most people put flexible on their resume it isn't in regard to their ethics."

"And yet I still made it to the interview."

Dr Ginelli is starting to look like a bit too much like an eccentric scientist stereotype, rather than an actual character. It wouldn't hurt to tone her down a notch.
can not wait to see what they think of the weapons those pirates were packing. any laser pistols or rifles would blow their minds. i would bet that there are a few games from Solaris VII and the first look at mechs is going to be..... earth shaking.
Interesting update. If Earth plays there cards right then they could become quite a beacon of hope especially as the industry in Sol is intact.

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