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located in Future/Sci-fi, a part of Universal War, one of the many universes on RPG.

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Essok Space - Journey System Boarders - Aboard the carrier Burning Dawn
----

Shisali let her foreclaws knead the corrugated metal decks beneath them, her thick twin tails twitching at their tips in thought.

She was the only still figure in the oval bridge room of the Burning Dawn; a broad white sash across the black Starclad jumpsuit honoring her rank as the Alpha - the captain - of the huge Defender-class vessel. A crewman's head appears at the edge of the raised command dais, his nose tilted up and his frill dipped in submission as he informed her that the other ships in the Dawn's pack - two Seeker-class and five Claw - had all indicated their readiness.

They were displayed across the room, tucked close to the Dawn, as if the crew hung suspended in the void. That wasn't the case, of course; the Essok bridge was nestled safely in the center of the massive ship. Even the 'display' was a lie. The information was piped in from hull sensors, and made a ghostly image only Essok senses could see. To a species that relied on the more common eye, the bridge was a dim shimmer of light spectrums and a headache-inducing electrical buzz.

The Alpha clicked her heavy jaws once in acknowledgement, and the crewman returned to his station. The taskforce ships moved together in a loose, lazy-fish formation towards a dreamcatcher-esque ring that dwarfed even the Dawn and the other Defender-class ships that were nearby as a vanguard. A Jump Ring. The largest in the young Essok empire. Smaller ones had brought her ship here from Haven, between stars that were - astronomically speaking - close neighbors. But this monster was the pride of the Engineers. It crackled with energy in preparation for its next task; slingshotting the Burning Dawn and her 'Starpack' of ships out into deeper reaches far from where any Essok ships had dared previously tread.

Weeks ago, before she had left the comfort of the homeworld Haven, Shisali had taken her orders from the straight from the Council and the Matriarch, herself. For some time, the Essok scientists had been listening with cautious intent to fragments of data, radio bursts, and energy emissions that made no sense except under one condition; that intelligent forces were producing them. Debate had raged amongst the Council Alphas. Some wished to follow old instincts to 'burrow deep', place defenses, and ignore or even hide from a potential encounter with 'Others'. Some preferred more aggressive approaches; to race out and claim as much territory as possible, or even prepare for attack. But in the end, cooler heads prevailed once egos were reigned in and the Matriarch weighted her words with concern for the entire Essok people.

And the orders had come. Shisali - one of the most experienced Ship Alphas that the Starclad caste had - would lead an expedition towards these signals and report on what she found out there in the greater galaxy. With luck, she would return with her ships and the Essok beneath her intact and whole, but the spacefaring people were learning quickly that the Void was far more dangerous and even less forgiving then Haven's deadliest reaches.

The thought of hidden dangers - of things unknown with dripping teeth and vast hunger - was still a living instinct, and Shisali dipped her head threateningly until the cold feeling passed.

Chirps, croons, and short hisses wafted through the air. The ships were picking up speed as they approached the massive Ring, and energy was beginning to arc between them; dancing off of the thick Essok hulls in a way that made the metal sing an eerie farewell. There was no stopping it now, the device had them. The stored energy in the Jump Ring lashed out at the Dawn and its shadowing ships, speeding them faster towards the machine. All at once, as they neared its center, that force released. Like a bolt released from a crossbow, the 8 ships were sent rocketing through the void in the Essok flavor of faster-than-light travel. For the crews, time hung suspended, with every breath taking an eternity and a half.

But soon, near the invisible boarders of peoples the Essok had never imagined existed, the taskforce engines churn in renewed life. All 8 ships slowed abruptly back into the here-and-now, and there is controlled chaos as crews rush to assess possible damage to either machine or flesh. A few hull sensors burned out - auxiliaries being brought up. One of the Claw cruisers suffered a minor injury when an Engineer burned herself on a conduit. A fighter not properly secured had slid around in its stall. But they were alive, and operational.

And had taken their first tentative steps out onto the galactic stage....