3150: The Rise of Keisha Tanaka

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3150: The Rise of Keisha Tanaka

Post by Jagtai » Mon Oct 03, 2016 1:33 pm

Prologue

For a while now, the Star Empire had been harassed by pirates attacking ships along the eastern borders. The Star Empire had responded by increasing patrols, but with little luck. When a patrol discovered a hidden listening post just outside Star Empire space, the High Command ordered a strike, in the hope of disrupting pirate activities. After the listening post was destroyed, an investigative team combed through the remains. Their findings were covered up by order of the Directorate, but the damage had already been done.

A week later, several border outposts went silent. The officials responsible covered it up to save their own necks, and inadvertently left the Star Empire unprepared for what was coming...

3144 CE
New Charon, edge of Star Empire space


Keisha hurried along the muddy street. She was late again. Her mother had been ill for weeks, but they couldn't afford medicine, so Keisha had devoted all her spare time to tend to her. Unfortunately, this had left her exhausted and she had found it hard to get up in the mornings.

Keisha was assigned to Plant 13, where she worked from 8 AM to 8 PM every day with only a 30 minute break. She had worked there for 7 years, since she has turned 15, just like all the other workers at the plant.

She hated the plant, she hated the work, she hated the constant quotas, and she especially hated that smug Overseer Tanner, who was in charge of the place. He was the son of a local official, and had gained his position through his fathers connections, not because of any great ability. He ruled by fear, like all Overseers.

As she entered the plant, she was met by the Overseer and two of his enforcers, all dressed in their black uniforms. As she had expected, the Overseer did not take her lateness well. His face was stern and cold, and it was obvious that he was angry.

"Worker 1120-7, you are late again," he said matter-of-factly. "This is the third time in a week." Keisha bowed her head, not daring to look at him.
"Apologies, Overseer. My mother..."
"...is irrelevant" the Overseer barked. Then he smiled cruelly. "As a result of your tardiness, you are being reassigned to Quarry 47."

Quarry 47. The place was infamous. Anyone who displeased the Overseers were sent there to die. It was run by an Overseer called Harper, a cruel man who enjoyed working his workers to death. If a work detachment failed to meet quotas, they were deprived of their meals until they met the quota. The hard work and the lack of sustenance meant that most that failed to meet quotas eventually starved to death.

Keisha looked up at the Overseer, and said pleadingly:
"Please, Overseer, I'll never be late again. My mother will die if I'm not there!" The Overseer shrugged.
"So what? If she dies, she was weak and deserved her fate."
Keisha was seized by a sudden rage. Before she could stop herself, she lashed out and hit the Overseer. Struck by the blow, he staggered before he was caught by one of the enforcers. The other enforcer raised his stun baton and struck Keisha across the face. Keisha fell to her knees, stunned both by the blow and the electric charge.

Overseer Tanner regained his composure. He looked coldly at Keisha.
"That was a mistake, Worker 1120-7. The penalty for striking an Overseer is death." He motioned to the enforcer, who had struck Keisha. "Give me your sidearm."

As the enforcer moved to withdraw his sidearm, klaxons began blaring. The Overseer and the enforcers, forgetting about Keisha, ran outside. As other workers began running past her, Keisha got up and followed them. Outside, they were all looking to the sky. As Keisha did the same, a cold shiver ran down her spine.

The sky was filled with clawed pods descending at terminal velocity, straight at them...

* * * * *

Governor Adrian Thornton looked with horror at the viewscreens. His entire defence grid had been knocked out in mere minutes by the invaders. He had never seen the spaceships now orbiting New Charon, nor heard them described. But whoever they were, they were certainly not pirates - their technology was far too advanced.

As he watched, the ships began launching thousands of drop pods. Here and there, ships fired a volley at some planetary target - most likely what defensive batteries existed. He turned and barked orders to assemble the troops and prepare to resist.

This was no simple attack. This was an invasion.

* * * * *

It soon became evident that some of the pods were headed their way, and those assembled outside - Keisha included - scattered and ran for safety. After reaching safety behind some crates, Keisha watched as several pods slowed and slammed into the ground just outside of the plant. She looked at the nearest one with a morbid fascination.

Its black and crimson paint was scorched by the rapid descent through the atmosphere, but still evident. Four large claws protruded from the sides. As she watched, they extended, lifting the body of the pod into the air, and revealed ten armoured figures. From what she could tell, they were humanoid, but fearsome masks obscured their faces. Their armour was black with crimson edging and covered in spikes, and they carried dangerous-looking blades and some sort of energy rifles.

As she watched, an enforcer rose from behind a crate on the other side of the entrance, and fired his sidearm at the figures. He only succeeded to getting their attention, and was rewarded with a blast from one of the rifles. Keisha watched as the enforcer was hit. The bolt hit the enforcer square in the chest and left a burning hole where his heart should have been. The enforcer dropped dead.

Fearing for her life, Keisha ducked behind the crates again. Her heart was racing. More shots were heard and Keisha - overtaken by curiosity - peered out between two crates. More enforcers had arrived and was now in a firefight with the invaders.
Suddenly, she saw a pair of enforcers appear on the roof above, carrying a heavy weapon. It took her only a few seconds to choose a side in the battle; she rose enough to be noticed and yelled:

"Look out, up there!" She pointed at the enforcers on the roof.

One of the invaders saw her, and swung his weapon to shoot her. As he did so, his gaze followed her arm and he saw the enforcers. He yelled something unintelligible. Another invader turned and they both fired a volley from their rifles. Crimson bolts of energy laced through the air, cutting down the enforcers on the roof. The invader who had seen her first yelled something and motioned for her to hide, which she promptly did.

More weapons fire followed. Apparently, more enforcers had arrived; she recognized the sound of their laser weapons. As she was deciding whether to risk another look, two of the invaders jumped over the crates and landed beside her. One of them moved to fire around the crates, while the other crouched next to her. Her heart beat so fast she felt her chest would explode. Then she heard it - a sound almost like the cry of a hawk. She looked up and her heart skipped a beat. A great nightblue bird of prey was descending fast. As it closed, she realized that it was an attack craft of some kind. She noticed the cannons on its wings as it let loose, firing a volley of crimson bolts at a target on the other side of the crate. The impact caused the crate she was hiding behind to skid, and Keisha was knocked out by the impact...

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Re: 3150: The Rise of Keisha Tanaka

Post by Jagtai » Tue Oct 04, 2016 10:35 pm

Keisha opened her eyes. The sky seemed a light beige, and she wondered if it was dust. Then her hearing returned, alerting to the hustle and bustle around her. She looked around.

She was in an infirmary tent of some kind. Men and women in dark green smocks wandered about, examining the wounded. One of them turned towards her, and she had to suppress a start.

The man - a doctor presumably - had ashgrey skin and flourescent crimson eyes!

He began to walk towards her, and Keisha looked around for an escape route. She saw a hole in the canvas, and sat up. Immediately, the room began to swim before her eyes. A pair of hands grabbed her and gently guided her onto her back. As the room stopped spinning, she saw the doctor stand above her. He talked to her in a calming voice.

"Aszh, Busken-e. Aszh. Tu az engeden newasen." Keisha looked at him and shrugged.

"I don't understand. What is ash?" It was evident that the doctor understood her as well as she understood him. He gently pressed down on her shoulder.

"Aszh, Busken-e. Aszh." Keisha was panicking now. She couldn't understand the doctor, she was surrounded by aliens, and she couldn't escape. She tried to rise again, causing another exclamation from the doctor. "Ne! Aszh, takeldera, aszh!" A voice, soft and deep - almost like a purr - interrupted.

"Mekasdenen, Dakan-e." A tall man, an alien like the doctor, had appeared next to them. He wore a dark-grey uniform with purple edging and a long black cloak. A curved blade hung by his left side, and a sidearm was strapped to his right leg. The doctor bowed.

"Ho, Chusan." The doctor left, hurriedly Keisha thought. The uniformed man smiled.

"Greetings. I am Commander Rahn. May I know you?"

Keisha studied the Commander. He was a handsome man, though his ashgrey skin and crimson eyes unnerved her. His smile seemed genuine, though; Keisha decided that she had little to lose by being truthful.

"I am Keisha Tanaka." Rahn said nothing. Keisha decided to try and get some answers: "Where am I?"

"One of our field hospitals."

"Why am I here?"

"You were injured during the fighting, and were brought here to recuperate."

"Injured?" Rahn nodded gently.

"A mild concussion, I am told, but needing of medical attention nonetheless." Keisha nodded. Then she asked the question that had been trying to get out since she woke up:

"Who are you?" Rahn smiled.

"Calandri." He hid a grin when he saw the puzzled expression of Keisha's face, and answered the unspoken question. "Your kind calls us Calandrians."

Calandrians. Keisha's heart skipped a beat. Even in the Star Empire, the reputation of the Calandrians was well known. They were said to be callous, cruel and downright evil. She closed her eyes and mumbled.

"Just my luck." The deep, soft voice of Rahn intruded on her thoughts.

"What do you mean?" Keisha opened her eyes and looked at him.

"I mean, when the moment of truth comes and I have to choose sides, I choose the Calandrians over my own people." She closed her eyes again. "I must be insane."

"And yet, had you not made that choice, we would not be having this conversation." His voice was almost...merry? Keisha looked at him.

"What do you mean?"

"When you were knocked out, the warriors beside you felt they owed it to you to ensure the best care for you. So they took you here." Keisha looked puzzled.

"What do you mean, they 'owed it' to me?" Rahn smiled.

"You saved them. It seemed only fair that they return the favour."

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Re: 3150: The Rise of Keisha Tanaka

Post by Jagtai » Wed Oct 05, 2016 1:40 pm

"Wait...they thought they owed me?" Keisha was flabbergasted. This went against everything she had learned about the Calandrians. Rahn nodded.

"Yes. The Buskadai teaches us that those who fight with us are as kin. You risked your life to warn them of impending danger. How could they not repay in kind?"

"The Buskadai?"

"The Way of the Warrior. It is the code by which Calandrian warriors conduct themselves." Keisha nodded. She had heard of such things - indeed, something similar was part of her heritage.

"Like Bushido." When Rahn looked puzzled, she explained: "Bushido is a similar code from an ancient culture on Earth. It teaches how warriors should act in all things. Is this Buskadai like that?" Rahn nodded and smiled.

"Exactly like that."

Keisha was about to inquire further, when she remembered her mother. She looked at Rahn.

"You said you owed me? Can I ask you a favour, then?" Rahn nodded, a suspicious look in his eyes. He obviously didn't trust her completely, Buskadai or no Buskadai. She continued. "My mother is very ill. Could one of your doctors take a look at her?" The suspicious look faded as Rahn smiled.

"Of course. Shall I have her brought here?" Keisha shook her head. She could imagine her mother´s reaction, if a pair of Calandrian warriors showed up in her house.

"No, I should go myself." Rahn nodded.

"Very well, I shall send a squad of warriors with you."

* * * * *

After getting clearance from the doctor - Keisha was feeling much better now - Rahn led Keisha outside. A squad of ten warriors was waiting beside a hover vehicle of some kind. In the distance, there were faint echoes of explosions and shooting. When she asked, Rahn informed her that they were still rooting out the last pockets of resistance.

At the hover vehicle, he dished out orders to the warriors. They seemed reluctant at first, but a few words from Rahn changed the mood completely. Keisha tried to listen in, but the only familiar word was Busken. Rahn introduced her to the leader of the warriors, a tall scarred Calandrian named Kaiden Raal. He greeted her in broken English, using the word Busken-e, like the doctor had before. Then Rahn left and Keisha and her escort boarded the hover vehicle.

The vehicle weaved gracefully through the streets, passing several partially ruined buildings. Keisha struck up a conversation with Raal, occasionally interrupted by the driver - pilot, in Keisha´s opinion - asking for directions.

"Kaiden?" The warrior nodded. "What does Busken-e mean?" Raal considered his words for a moment.

"Busken is ... we." He motioned as himself and the other warriors. "Busken-e means..." he struggled to find the words, "...honoured Busken." Keisha considered it.

"So, Busken means warrior?" Raal nodded. "Why do you call me Busken-e then? I am no warrior." Raal smiled.

"You are Busken, Keisha-e. You become warrior when you stand with other Buska."

"Buska?"

"We all Buska. You is Busken." Keisha considered it. Then it hit her. Busken was the singular, and Buska the plural. She nodded and smiled.

"I understand." Raal smiled. She thought he seemed much nicer when he smiled.

* * * * *

The hover vehicle stopped in front of her home. The warriors put on their helmets, and Keisha could hear Raal dishing out orders through a comm system. Three warriors left the vehicle; Raal followed with Keisha and the rest of the warriors after a short while. Keisha assumed the warriors had secured the street.

Keisha carefully opened the door, calling for her mother. A weak voice answered. Keisha and Raal - who had refused to allow her to enter alone - entered and found her mother in her bed, visibly shaken. Her anxiety didn't lessen when she saw the tall, helmeted warrior with the rifle and curved sword. Keisha smiled reassuringly.

"Don't worry, Mother, he's with me."

"What is going on, Keisha? I've heard shooting for several hours now." Keisha explained everything. Her mother chided her for risking herself, but eventually agreed to go. Raal helped Keisha's mother to her feet - handing Keisha the rifle, a gesture Keisha appreciated greatly - and supported her as she walked to the hover vehicle. After retrieving his rifle - which Keisha happily returned - they all entered the vehicle and returned whence they came.

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Re: 3150: The Rise of Keisha Tanaka

Post by Jagtai » Mon Oct 24, 2016 1:03 am

Warning: This post is not PG. You have been warned.

* * * * *

The doctors had tended to Keisha's mother, Mashiko. She had been ill at ease at first, but the doctor - Xarsu Tailuhr - had been very gentle and kind. He had found an interpreter, and had informed them that Mashiko suffered from a case of pneumonia, which was easily treated. He had given her a pill to swallow, and Mashiko was already breathing more easily.

Keisha had spent the night on a cot next to her mother. She woke when the soft purr of Rahn's voice whispered her name.

"Keisha." Keisha opened her eyes. Rahn smiled. "Come. Let your mother rest. The doctor will see to her well-being. I have need of you."

Keisha carefully rose and, after checking on Mashiko who was fast asleep, followed Rahn. He led her outside and into a building across the square. It was a former guard station, that Rahn was now using as his headquarters.

They entered his office and passed into the room behind it. When Keisha saw the bed, all her suspicions and fears flared for a second; then Rahn turned.

"Keisha, I need your help."
"What kind of help?" Rahn hesitated for a moment.
"We have...we have found something. We need a local to help document it, so I thought you might want to help."
"What is it?"
"Later. For now, I suggest you freshen up. There is a shower in the next room, and new clothes on the bed. If you need anything, I have placed a pair of warriors outside this room, who will be at your service." Keisha nodded.
"Thank you." Rahn smiled.
"I'll be in my office, when you are ready."

He left, closing the door behind him. Keisha peered into the next room. It was a standard bathroom, with a toilet and a shower. She bit back her fears, undressed and stepped into the shower, turning on the water. It felt marvellous.

She showered for twenty minutes before finally getting out. She put on the clothes on the bed, noticing it to be a dark-grey uniform with purple edging, similar to the one Rahn wore, but instead of having three blue triangles on the collar like his, her uniform had but a single blue triangle.

She looked in the mirror. She looked imposing in the uniform. She had never looked imposing before; she decided that she liked it.

She opened the door and stepped out. Rahn, Raal and three warriors turned; the look on their faces told her that they found her imposing as well. Rahn smiled.

"It looks like it was made for you."

* * * * *

They sat in the hover vehicle with Raal and his warriors, moving towards some unknown destination.

Keisha looked over at Rahn.

"Where are we going?" Rahn looked serious. Keisha thought he seemed reluctant, when he answered:
"Do you remember that I told you that we were rooting out the last pockets of resistance?" Keisha nodded. "Well, we finally captured the last one in this sector this morning. We found something disturbing there, and we need you there to bear witness."
"Where was this pocket located?"
"A place called Quarry 47."

* * * * *

The hover vehicle lurched to a halt in the mustering field in front of the quarry proper. Keisha followed Rahn when he stepped out.

A large group of Enforcers were gathered on the field, tied and forced unto their knees in uncomfortable positions. A number of warriors were guarding them, pushing them back down if they tried to keep up. Even with their helmets on, Keisha could tell that they were agitated. Keisha looked at Rahn.

"What's going on?"

Rahn didn't answer, a grim expression on his face. He led them past the Enforcers and down into the quarry.

As they descended, Keisha noticed a strange smell in the air. It was sweet but slighly disturbing somehow. Then they rounded a corner, coming into an open area hewn out of the rock. A cave opened up further ahead.

That's when Keisha realized what the smell was. She stared, dumbstruck. Then she turned away and vomited.

The open area was filled with decomposing bodies. More were being carried out of the cave by Calandrian warriors. Sometime during the attack, the Enforcers had executed all of the workers.

Keisha felt a hand on her shoulder. It was gentle. She finally stopped vomiting, and managed to utter a single word:

"Why?" Rahn's voice was a mixture of anger and revulsion, when he replied.
"Apparently, the man in charge decided to deprive us of the 'resources' held here." Keisha looked up at him, anger flaring in her eyes.
"Resources?! They were mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons; they were not 'resources'!"
"I am sorry." Rahn sighed. "I am sorry that I asked you to come here." Keisha shook her head.
"No, I needed to see this. Now I know I made the right choice two days ago!"

She straightened up and turned back around. Her stomach lurched again, but she kept it calm by sheer force of will. Then she looked at Rahn.

"Where is he?"

* * * * *

Overseer Harper was tied to a pole in the center of the quarry, guarded by several Calandran warriors. His face bore clear signs of having been beaten.

Keisha and her companions walked up to him, Rahn nodding to the warriors, who stepped aside. Raal grabbed Harper by the hair and pulled until his eyes was level with Keisha's. Harper focused. Keisha spit in his face. Harper smiled.

"So, you found my little 'gift', did you...traitor?" Keisha punched him, forcing his head to the side. When he turned his head, he was smiling wider. "You can hit me all you want, but I will be lauded for this when the Empire retakes the planet."

Keisha looked into his eyes. There was no remorse.

"This will never become known to the Empire. I will see to that. Do you understand me? All the Empire will find, are the decomposing bodies of you and your enforcers!" Harper smiled.

"And how will you do that, Worker 1120-7?" He smiled wider. "Yes, I know who you are, 1120-7. An hour later, and you would have been lying in that cave with the rest of the filth."

His head snapped to the side, as Keisha hit him again.

"The only filth here is you." She looked at Rahn. "What do you intend to do to Harper and his enforcers?"

Rahn and Raal spoke for a moment, then Rahn unclipped his sidearm and handed it to Keisha.

"Their fate is in your hands." Keisha took the pistol. When she looked back at Harper, her eyes were cold with hatred.

"Bring him to the mustering field."

* * * * *

Harper was being held down, Raal holding his hair, forcing him to watch. Rahn looked at Keisha.

"Are you sure? I can do it, if you wish." Keisha shook her head.
"I need to do this. I need to honour the dead." Rahn nodded.
"As you wish. Ready is 'goto', aim is 'tsel', and fire is 'strel'."

Keisha nodded.

The first ten Enforcers had been tied to wooden poles at one end of the field. Five warriors were standing in front of each Enforcer. Keisha smiled sardonically at Harper, who was struggling in vain against the firm grip of Raal.

Then Keisha's voice rang out across the field, loud and clear.

"Goto!"

The warriors raised their rifles.

"Tsel!"

The warriors aimed at the struggling Enforcers.

"Strel!"

The warriors fired, the Enforcers dying in hails of plasma fire.

* * * * *

After the executions were over, Keisha turned to Harper. The Overseer was still struggling, his eyes shining with fear and hatred.

"Any last words, Overseer?" Her voice was dripping with malice. Harper stared at her.
"You bitch! You will pay for this!"

Keisha drew the pistol and aimed it at Harper's forehead.

"Not the words I would have chosen."

Raal let go of Harper's head. A single shot rang out. Harpers body - his head evaporated by the plasma shot - fell forward and hit the ground with a thump. Keisha handed Rahn the pistol.

Then she keeled over, Raal and Rahn both moving to catch her...

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