NATION

PASSWORD

Time's up.

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]
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Kaenei
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Founded: Antiquity
Ex-Nation

Time's up.

Postby Kaenei » Sat Jan 16, 2010 10:01 am

Fysas tugged at a waistband that has obviously grown too tightly in the years spent outside the service, the victim of richer food and more hours spent in his bed than on his feet. Running a hand through hair that had long since greyed and now began to thin out, he brought the dented metal mug held in his hands up to dry lips.

The bitterness was almost enough to make the tongue curl, but he revelled in its tartness. It had been a good decade since last he had the dubious pleasure of military-grade stimm-drinks – many long nights spent as the Officer of the Watch, hunched over a console with a cup in one hand and a desk to tap repeatedly with the fingers of the other.

Retired at the rank of Lieutenant-Major with no important honours to mention but a spotless record, and the personal satisfaction of over seventy years of service to the state in good faith, he'd looked forward to a few decades divided between repaying his beloved for the time she suffered alone during his deployments, the children of their children, and perhaps a hobby or two.

To find himself once again wearing a uniform of the Fleet Component was no small surprise. While every Kaeneian whose commission was deactivated with honour remained nominally available for a period of some years for service with the Fleet Auxiliary or Ground Reserve, those recalled for additional service were usually in the latter in preparation for a war or major offensive.

Since he was neither a soldier in the traditional sense of the word, nor aware of the Serene Union burning under enemy guns, why he now found himself standing off Machiavelli Station escaped his understanding.

Not that it mattered – he had his orders, even if they did not necessarily make much sense.

The FALV-Invincible had begun its career as a circle-two Khandriayata-class escort ship similar in function to a frigate-of-sorts. Launched almost to the day seventy years ago when Fysas' commission had first been activated, the ship had been the victim of changing tactical doctrine within the Fleet Component at large.

As the move towards the Conflict Carrier-based expeditionary groups rolled on, ships which had been laid down prior to this innovation and so did not fit in with this new vision were cancelled wherever possible. Skeletal frames which promised much but for now, were shells boasting nothing more than recharging ports for EVA activities, were towed from yards to be broken up without ever seeing a day's battle or even the courtesy of being inducted to the Fleet officially.

At the time undergoing upgrades across the entire class from circle-one as originally launched to a more capable circle-two overhaul, the Khandriyata class ended up the biggest loser-of-sorts to the Fleet reshuffle. The SLEP was immediately postponed with all work suspended, while exhaustive examinations on the capability of each remaining circle-one unit were conducted.

The effective result was the unofficial retirement of the entire Khandriyata-class; their capability to undertake long-range cruises deep into interstellar space suddenly becoming the very reason they competed with the Conflict-Carrier and so were no longer relevant. The circle-one ships were posted to training and minimal patrol duties, and all were decommissioned without the normal prerequisite time spent in Fleet Auxiliary within a decade.

All except what would eventually become the Invincible which had been the first ship to begin the circle-two upgrade, and was found to be sufficiently close to completion to make decommissioning a waste of resources. Almost certainly done tongue firmly in cheek, the ship earned the nickname “Invincible”. While her career was no more exciting or interesting than any of her sister-ships which did not get the chance, she nonetheless served without fault and again unlike her sister-ships, entered into the Fleet Auxiliary for the mandatory term of service.

In line will precedent, the ship was renamed to reflect its change of purpose. What had only been a nickname became official, and the ship's battle ready prefix of FCSV (Fleet Component Strategic Vehicle) became the rather more mundane FALV (Fleet Auxiliary Logistics Vehicle).

Her turrets were removed or capped and her ammunition stores emptied. Her armour was virtually stripped away, billets converted into stores and aft enlarged by the bulbous mooring anchors which would allow her to make short work of the vital – if underwhelming – duty of towing.

Fysas tapped his hand against the chipped grey bulkhead, fingers tracing along the bubbles where numerous coats of paint had been applied quickly. This ship was a sold as him but once again, they had both answered the call.

“Mooring lines attached,” A voice confirmed behind. Lieutenant Popsil had not fared so well as Fysas in the battle to retain his hair and the smooth dome above his eyes reflected the bulkhead lighting awkwardly. His battle to retain a waistband fitting for an officer had gone rather better, however, and the duty jacket around his chest seemed several sizes too large.

Fysas nodded, crossing back to the engineering station to glance up at data projected ahead of their generating lenses. The equipment was obsolete if he was kind, and archaic if he was not compared to the cutting-edge ANA and data-interpretation systems installed on the latest ships of the Fleet. Still the job of the Auxiliary – from its crew to its ships – remained to make the best use of equipment and personnel no longer suitable for the front lines.

Popsil's nostrils flared, forehead creasing as he caught a wiff of the stimm-drink. “How can you drink that? Or did seven decades reduce you to one taste bud?”

“I need the boost,” The Lieutenant-Major offered with an informal shrug. “I'm not as young as I used to be … It usually takes me ten, maybe fifteen minutes to climb out of my bed.”

Stretching his neck, Popsil nodded, “I have not left mine yet. I wonder why the Fleet felt the need to make me ...”

“Because they could not make anyone young enough leave theirs. The Fleet Auxiliary is only a third of the size it was when we were both Fleet officers – it is not the work of real military men, is it?”

“Real military men or not,” Popsil added with his own shrug, “Unless they plan to get out and push it, someone will have to do it.”

Fysas nodded and clamped a hand on his subordinate's shoulder, turning his attention up to the large diagram projected across the side of the bridge – displaying the Invincible and its towing lines extending back into one of the numerous repair docks dotting Machiavelli Station. The image flickered occasionally, distorting badly every so often to the point of almost dissolving – such was the age of the lenses which created it, despite the elderly attentions of the Auxiliary technicians, to which this technology had been at the cutting-edge during their primary tour of service.

To Fysas' left dominating the centre of the bridge, two generating platforms extended up from the decking and down from the ceiling bulkhead respectively, leaving a gap between them in which a three-dimensional model of the Invincible floated in orange, fuzzy wireframe. Zooming the image out with a tap of his finger, the towing lines and the periphery of Machiavelli Station were likewise rendered – along with the massive bulk of the Conflict Carrier FCSV-Xiana as it came alongside.

“Invincible Control, Xiana Control,” A voice scratched over the numerous speaker grilles bolted to the bridge's perimeter. “We are ready to proceed at your discretion.”

Fysas set his mug down and opened a link to reply. “Xiana Control, Invincible Control – standby.”

“Good evening, Machiavelli Space Traffic Control,” He began after keying the secondary frequency, “KTDF Invincible Control. Towing lines are secure and preparations complete. Release dock controls at your discretion and maintain separation of traffic until Minimum Safe Distance is reached.”

An intermittent gurgle of white noise screeched through the link, to be replaced by a distinctly bored voice. “Have a good trip, Invincible. You've got a green light.”

Fysas closed the link, craning his neck around towards Popsil, “Take us ahead.”







Looking suitably more pathetic than when she had first been pulled from a dock, the Timeship slid almost painfully free of its structure supports, atmospheric pressurisers and potable water connections. Great gouts of escaping coolant billowed out silently over the scarred hull, to crystallise almost instantly and scatter to the solar winds. Running lights blinked obediently, illuminating the patches applied to seal the worst of the breaches which exposed the fragile corridors within to the hard vacuum.

On-board, dozens of technicians monitored the towing from their end and continued the minor repairs which would nonetheless contribute to restoring the ship's operation, eventually. Excess pressure was vented from the engines, the ship's ANA taken off-line for the trip and its electronic personality hard-saved for later examination. The occasional flicker of thruster fire spat over the Timeship's bow and aft as minor corrections were made to counter the action-and-reaction of the larger Invincible ahead.


Commandant Zenayeta glanced at his watch for the fourth time in two minutes and resisted the urge to sigh. His orders had been explicit if uninspiring and difficult to understand – bring his ship to full combat readiness and escort and oversee a towing operation from Machiavelli to Europa. It was not difficult but it was hardly the work of a Conflict Carrier and her highly-trained, highly capable crew. If the truth could be told he chafed under the mediocrity.

Still, duty was duty.

“You have the ship,” He said simply to which his executive officer, a Captain, nodded. If nothing else he could use this lull to make a small dent in the endless datapads which fought with each other to reach the ceiling bulkhead of his cabin from the top of his desk.








Fysias excused himself from the bridge for the shortest of moments and walked the small distance to one of the defence turrets which had once sat to the starboard of the bridge. Where before the dome-shaped top had provided a real-time, three hundred and sixty degree generated image of combat for the manual operation of the guns to follow now there was simply a metal cap in place and no stars visible beyond.

Climbing the small service ladder left in place of the complex cradle assembly, the Kaeneian pushed his palm against a large rubberised button operating the tiny armoured viewing port, which had been left in place looking aft for what purpose, he was not entirely sure. The plate retracted upwards into its cowling, granting a tiny picture of the bulk of the Invincible behind and even further behind, at the end of the towing lines, the curious cargo itself.

The ship was an usual design, with a hull designed more with the apparent action of waves against metal as the business of space travel – as if somehow the strange vessel was supposed to navigate on an ocean of sorts. It was in stark contrast to the angular lines and edges of the Invincible – made all the worse for the loss of the battle armour and with it any semblance of grace in its mission.

He wondered intensely at its purpose but knew full well his authority extended no further than what was necessary to carry this bizarre vessel on its short journey across the gas giants. Puffing his cheeks out in resignation he brought his palm up to close the port.

A bright flash filled the entirety of his vision, blinding him so that he instinctively brought his hands up to shield his face and lost any grip on the ladder. Teetering between falling against the port and falling backwards, the decision was made for him as a terrible groan resonated through the Invincible – as if some massive hammer crashed against the hull relentlessly to shake it apart.

Fysas was forced from the ladder down some ten feet to crash his head against the bulkhead. He fell onto his side, on the decking, gasping for the air driven from his bruised lungs. His vision swam with bright colours which would not coalesce back into objects or persons, hands trembling as he jerked fingers up to wipe against the slick warmth which ran from the back of his skull.

He lolled on the decking even as a klaxon began to blare alarmingly.








The drive section of the Timeship was consumed in a coruscating arc of destruction; the hull not so much shredded as removed from molecular existence by the forces of reality colliding to mutually assured annihilation. Running lights blinked their last as their lenses, mountings and the armour surrounding was vaporised. Pushed off-kilter by the asymmetrical detonation the Timeship began to spin in its death throes, pulling on the towing cables which in turn made a mockery of the Invincible's engines and forced it to acquiesce to a dance it wanted no party to.

Rents in the hull raced with each other through the superstructure; splitting the ship asunder and spilling atmosphere and crew to the void. Great clouds of freezing gases escaped their prison; finding a permanent release in the surging maelstrom of the void. As if the explosion were some creature of higher intelligence, a creature intent on sowing maximum destruction the mounting points to which the Invincible had once towed from but now, in a role-reversal was towed, held fast.










Fysas dragged himself onto the bridge, marking his trail from the turret position by the red smear along the decking, courtesy of the shattered fixings which had cut through his jacket and deep into his belly as he rode over them. Rolling onto his back his breath came in ragged gasps, vision no better for the time spent with his eyes clenched shut in pain.

“Popsil ...” He gasped, groping blindly for something, anything. “Popsil … Fire the thrusters.”

What was left of Lieutenant Popsil's face stared up at the ceiling bulkhead from where it had been staved in, arms dangling limply against the console beneath and a single intact eye glassy, unblinking from a head whose cheek bled against the controls. He could not hear his commanding officer and he could not see him – his service to the Fleet Auxiliary was at an end.

Fysas groaned, his gut twisting and forcing him to gag as he returned the stimm-drink to the deck with a guttural, choking grunt. His face was forced down into it, smeared against his clothes to make his eyes water before he was driven back by a new centrifugal force. “Popsil ...” He croaked, “Fire the thrusters ...”

Even if ten men stood by to fire the thrusters they would have gotten no further than pushing the relevant button with their finger. Stripped of her armouring designed for the work of war the deadly wreckage turned razor-sharp scythes ejected from the burning remains of the Timeship found no great difficulty in cutting through the Invincible from prow to aft – severing control systems and destroying their manual equivalents in short shrift.

Her back broken, the Invincible proved she was nothing more than a name in spirit.








“Emergency breakaway!” A voice roared, struggling to be heard against the multiple shouts of other stations and the high-pitched warbled warnings from a dozen systems vying for attention. The Captain struggled to keep his feet to the decking as the massive conflict carrier belied its size and girth by outpacing its own inertial control systems. Chest pressed hard against the rail the acting-Commandant gritted his teeth in pain as the ship struggled to come about and leave the Kill Zone.

A terrible series of impacts, so violent that it would surely have dislodged his heart from his chest were it not for his ribs, told the captain he had not been entirely successful.

“Multiple impacts! Confirmed hull breaches!” A faceless Lieutenant clamoured. The lights above his head however, continued to shine and despite his keenest efforts he could not hear the ship twisting about his own frame. Time to take stock of the situation.

“Get the Commandant up here!” He ordered firstly, and ultimately lastly as the same unknown Lieutenant forced himself up from his seat. “Collision warning!” He managed before the entire CCC was turned upon its head.








Fysas slumped against the projection unit at the centre of what was left of the Invincible's bridge. His fingers rubbed against the caked blood which filled the wrinkles of his hands, even as they clumsily wiped at the crimson stinging his eyes. He lolled his fractured head backwards, glancing up in his blindness to see for the first time, the faintest after-image of the fuzzy, orange wire-framed representation of the ship itself.

The most absurd smile came to his torn lips as he watched the display interpret the real-time oscillation, the Invincible twisting and turning as if it were the hand of a god and not a mere ship at the other end of the cables. His burned retinas picked out the edge of the Xiana as it gradually began to take up more and more of the available projection space.

His eyes rolled closed, a trail of bloodied saliva escaping the corner of his mouth to run down his chin. “Popsil ...” He managed. “Popsil … Cut the cables ...”

The FALV-Invincible was retired from the Fleet Auxiliary, its commission deactivated along with its crew by way of impact with the FCSV-Xiana. The former-frigate disappeared in a blossoming explosion which for a moment overrode the laws of physics and defiantly burned in the vacuum, the armour, designed to absorb the worst weapons of war offered no real defence against ordinance fully one-fourth the size of the ship it protected, buckling like paper torn repeatedly by a man's hand and scattered to the winds.

Stores detonated, reactors exploded and ammunition cooked off in temperatures sufficient to melt the superstructure and eject it into space; to cool and form grotesque snowflakes-of-sorts. The fist of the impact burst through the port side which had faced away from the disaster, bringing with it the majority of the starboard as the mighty warship was effectively disembowelled and turned inside-out.

Fragments of hull as large as the former FALV-Invincible crashed into each other to repeat the devastation of impact a dozen times, fracturing into smaller chunks which span like worlds in their own right – attracting smaller sections until eventually these too subsumed together in terrible detonations which shredded the strongest metals and plastics.

A few lifepods ejected along the midship-aft No. 5 gun turret, only to be overtaken by the No.5 gun turret itself as it was sheared from its mounting and ultimately crushed to nothing along with any survivors inside by the barrels as they broke apart under the strain of spinning acceleration.

The Timeship, the work of its destruction complete, span away into the black burning and broken.

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Dread Lady Nathicana
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 26094
Founded: Antiquity
Father Knows Best State

Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Sat Jan 16, 2010 10:03 pm

The long range sensors picked it up first, which triggered the appropriate alarms, immediate launch of scouts, and a stream of data back to the station.

Given the relative proximity, the station was aware of the explosion soon enough even without the alarms pouring in from various points of contact.

Station Control was launched into a flurry of activity, diverting incoming traffic, coordinating the scouting and rescue efforts – it was known there were a number of persons on board the only ships who had taken that particular route.

And those ships were not responding.

Information filtered through the various departments surprisingly fast. Or not so surprising, given the relatively recent security issues.

It was a good thing too. There were many viewing ports and heavy screens to the outside, given the nature of the station. And from those, the dark depths of surrounding space could be viewed quite easily. As could the bright flash that was the Kaeneian ship’s demise. While the entirety of the station was not affected, it being a rather spacious facility, there were enough who became aware to cause a stir amongst sectors of the population. Questions were soon being asked, answers demanded, and the more flighty, though few in number, were in a panic.

Operations divided up the growing number of responsibilities between the administrative and security groups according to their strengths. Bernardo di Medici who happened to be on board, and his staff from the Trade Ministry, focused on calming those patrons involved in trade and travel.

This was an accident, a damaged ship en route to its home port had suffered a critical malfunction. No other information was available as yet. No, this was not a random act of terrorism. No, the station would not be put under any sort of lockdown. Yes, trade and travel would continue as normal, save for some minor course adjustments to avoid the affected area.

Station security ran interference as best it could with those on station, keeping the panic to a minimum among those who were concerned or worried. The party line remained the same. An accident, details were being looked into. Less visible were the checks being run on recent departures and arrivals, their flight paths, their origins, and a number of other things were investigated in coordination with station control, and the overarching Ministry of Central Intelligence, headed up by Antonio Pellegrino and his underlings.

Communications were somewhat hampered for the time being, in that they were monitored with care behind the scenes, and any transmissions that suggested anything other than an accident was stifled to the best of their ability. News broadcasts on station were limited to their content, and again, echoed the determination of accident, with more information to follow as it came available.

“Tragedy struck today on a routine salvage mission …”

“… It is unclear just how many were on board …”

“Search and rescue vessels have been sent …”

And so it went.

Behind the scenes, faces were grim. No word or warning of potential trouble had been given, nor even hinted at, thus all reactions outside the very small group who had discussed the benefits of accidents happening were all quite genuine. And those few were practiced enough in the art of subterfuge that their reactions might as well be just as genuine as the others.

No general meeting was called as it had before, though all the groups crossed paths and kept in contact. Not a word was so much as breathed concerning prior discussions, and only the task at hand was addressed.

Nathicana served as a center point, held in reserve for when the inevitable diplomatic issues arose. It made sense enough that she, and other high-ranking officials would be kept out of the public eye and under increased protection, so a lack of presence didn’t necessarily raise any questions amongst most.

What may have been surprising to some was the presence of her daughter at her side throughout, her brow creased in a frown, her concern over the incident clear.

“Are you up for this,” Nathicana asked quietly, after having gone over all the facts that were available on the incident thus far – which granted, wasn’t much.

The young woman nodded, her eyes still scanning over the most recent report. “So many on board … we’re lucky it didn’t explode while still in dock, I suppose. It just seems like such a waste. Didn’t they realize the danger when they brought it here?”

Nathicana kept her expression carefully controlled as her daughter spoke. A good track to go down, that. And better for the fact that she was completely unaware of any untoward actions. She doubted very much Naiya would approve of their contributions, however passive they had been. She was a realist, she understood how things worked, and why there was a need for subterfuge, misdirection, and even on occasion, outright lying, plotting, and scheming. The reason and the outcome of those actions, however, seemed to make all the difference in the girl.

Troubling, and yet perhaps for the better in the long run. So long as she was smart about things, in any case.

“I’m sure if they had any idea, they wouldn’t have docked to begin with,” Nathi replied. “I doubt very much they would have endangered innocent lives purposefully. A tragic accident. We’re doing all we can.”

“I know. It all just seems like such a waste.”

“It was a dangerous sort of technology to have,” Nathicana offered carefully.

“Yes, I know,” Naiya said reluctantly. “And I know you’ve said you’ll explain why later, but still. Whatever they found can’t have been good, or it wouldn’t have you so worried.”

“In time, bambi. Nothing you need to worry yourself over right now. Besides, I think we have enough trouble with the here and now without worrying about some vague ‘might be were things different’ reality we’ll never see.”

“Unfortunately,” the young woman says, sighing quietly. “I’m not seeing any numbers on survivors.”

“Give it time, and hope for the best.”

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Skeelzania
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 183
Founded: Feb 21, 2004
Ex-Nation

Postby Skeelzania » Sat Jan 16, 2010 10:35 pm

Katrina Pieper lounged on the couch in her quarters, pen in one hand and a notepad propped up on one knee. Her other hand held the vidscreen remote, the channels of which she was enthusiastically cycling through. The press was quick in Sol, and the myriad viewpoints and styles of reporting presented were endlessly fascinating to her. It had been only a few hours since Scoptera’s ‘accident,’ so there wasn’t much in the way of real coverage. A major statement from the Dominion was still pending, and most of the analysts were withholding from wild speculation until them.

Thinking of them as analysts elicited a smirk from the Skeelzanian intelligence officer. The first page of her notepad was already filled with close-handed cipher, detailing the observations she had made since Operation Angelic’s climax. She was still heavily dependent on the spy ships for information, but watching the news and listening to the word in the corridors always had the chance to pay off.

An image feed caught her eye, causing her to cycle back to the host channel. It was a rough video, probably piped in from one of the docked ships or the station itself. A man with a toupee offered narration and physical emphasis with wild gesticulation: “As you can see, the larger vessel, a capital ship, has suffered what appears to be catastrophic damage in the collision. We still have no word on survivors from either of those vessels.”

He fell silent as the video jerked to the side, apparently searching for something. “Yes, there it is,” he continued, circling his hand around a burning section of space. “The remains of the first vessel, the one that initially exploded, can be seen continuing its spin away from the station. Fortunate, that. . .”

Katrina frowned and shifted the notepad closer to her. Scoptera surprisingly durable, she wrote. Cannot say the same for Kaeneian cap ship. Sternmarine would doubtlessly find such information intriguing.

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The Garbage Men
Envoy
 
Posts: 317
Founded: Oct 05, 2006
Ex-Nation

Postby The Garbage Men » Sat Jan 16, 2010 10:50 pm

When the timeship docked at Machiavelli it had caused alot of tongues wagging. Not only at the nature of the Timeship and the potential for things it could do but also about the dangerous nature of the ship itself. Whisps of rumours were heard fragments of waste that seemed to indicate that people were discussing what to do about this vessel but well nothing like destroying it.

First a TGM Recovery team was notified, they could be survivors, but also with a timeship who knows what might be the unforseen consequences of destruction. When one messes with Time itself time itself can be in trouble. So in addition to the recovery team, according to the corporations own Emergency Hazardous Material Protocols an additional sensor ship was deployed it carried all sorts of sensors, including time, gravimetric, energy, practically every type of sensor known to the corporation. This would ensure that whatever was happening would be known that if something was going to happen they would have a chance to detect it and possibly act before it got out of control.

Obviously in a system as busy as Sol an out of control anomoly could result in devastation on an unprecidented scale.

Meanwhile the TGM sub-Depot on Machiavelli through the Martian Regional Depot sent a requset of to Kaenei for an approval to go ahead on a Salvage operation of the Timeship's debris. This was as TGM vessels were already there, at least pratically there that once the initial search and rescue aspects of the mission have been completed then the vessel could be taken away and cleaned up, allowing traffic flow to return to normal in the area.
ψ

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Kaenei
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 198
Founded: Antiquity
Ex-Nation

Postby Kaenei » Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:40 am

Sophia bolted upright, eyes blinking open painfully in time to squeeze shut at the blinding light which assaulted her senses. Hands held in front of her face, she groaned in confusion as her consciousness came back only reluctantly from whatever dream it had spun inside her head. A gruff voice penetrated her sleep-induced malaise, cutting through the weariness like a blade held against her flesh.

“You must get up!” Vitras ordered without any pretence at the proper chain of national command, hooking his hand underneath Sophia's arm and hauling her up to standing so quickly she would have fallen back down to the bed without his support. She blinked away the sleep from her confused eyes, finally able to take in the Supreme-Overseer of the KISS and the half-dozen Guardians accompanying him.

Each one armed. The most absurd thought frittered across her confused mind – was she being deposed? Had her indecisiveness finally angered some secret faction or even the people as a whole? Would she be taken from here to the nearest airlock and vented into the void; perhaps only held for the next thirty years as a prisoner of some new regime?

“Emergency protocols are in effect, Governor-General,” The older Kaeneian added grimly, his face not bothering to mask the seriousness of the situation at hand. “There was an incident involving the Timeship – there has been a major loss of life.”

Sophia's body skipped ahead of her mind in preparation for what was to come – adrenaline and constituent hormones designed to encourage the fight-or-flight reflex tore through her veins and ordered her heart to hammer against the very ribs protecting it if necessary. All weariness and the mere thought of fatigue banished instantly.

Surrounded by their armed guard, two of the most powerful Kaeneians on the Federal Council – one an important constituent, the other head – beat a fast path through the corridors of Machiavelli Station; passing pre-deployed Guardians likewise wielding weapons which were very much more than a mere show of force in the current circumstances.

Sophia squeezed her fist shut to conceal the trembling which caused her fingers to flex and shudder, eyes glancing up to the taller Overseer, “What do we know?”

“We know nothing,” Vitras admitted without bothering to conceal the irritation, his own fingers flexing around the grip of the pistol held in his hands. “All available Fleet assets are converging on the scene – I have ordered the entire Kaeneian delegation to leave this Station immediately, aboard Government One.”

Arriving at the unobtrusive, unremarkable airlock flanked by two further Guardians marking the embarkation point for the Fleet ship pressed into service as a governmental transport, a third Kaeneian of considerable seniority joined the Governor-General and the Supreme Overseer.

Canasares had all the trappings of a man awoken the moment his head had hit the pillow, uniform haggard and unbuttoned, deep brown lines carved into the pale flesh beneath his eyes. Nonetheless he carried the air of authority and the dominance of a career military man, stepping aside and exchanging a nod with Vitras. “The General Service Staff is being assembled as quickly as possible, Governor-General.”

“We will break dock in fifteen minutes, precisely,” The Marshall of the Fleet added with a glance to his wrist.

Sophia nodded, her thoughts taking a moment away from the spiralling crisis to address a more personal matter and her eyes taking a moment away from Canasares to find Vitras. “Make sure Kristilanna knows what has happened … When we know what has happened. Make sure she is not in danger, if this is somehow … Connected.”

Vitras did not have the time for such nonsense. He did not have the time to dispatch his staff to chase down a disgraced exile with no further influence or power over the state and thus, for now, of no real relevance to him. Still there was an undeniable link between her and the Timeship – and Vettori.

The Overseer's eyes narrowed at the mere thought of the merest possibility of his involvement.

“I will do what I can,” Vitras acquiesced with a nod.







In an unintended tribute borne out of necessity, the Fleet Auxiliary quickly found itself re-deployed under full Fleet authority for the second time in as many hours. Interrupted in the middle of routine stores replenishment the FALV-Illustrious broke dock with less than a third of her crew on-board and a number of systems (hurriedly declared “non-essential”) off-line for routine maintenance.

Little more than billets, a bridge, an engine room and a medical bay bolted to the top of an enormous hangar fixed below like the gaping maw of any number of terrestrial bottom-feeding fish, the Illustrious was a fleet recovery ship, a Cenesar-class cruiser once upon a time, of considerable age and considerable underutilisation.

As her drives burst into brilliant light to retrieve the shell of the Timeship spinning off against the stars, no less than four conflict carriers acted as her guard against who-knew-what – each disgorging dozens of smaller patrol craft which raced far ahead of the lumbering Auxiliary vessel to secure whatever was left of the shattered starship which had claimed two others in its death throes.

Elsewhere the fleet support ships FALV-Tireless, FALV-Tempest, FALV-Superb, FALV-Courageous and FALV-Ready negotiated the short hop from Europa orbit to bring their SAR expertise to where it would ultimately be of no use. Abruptly the entirety of the Third Federal Fleet – some thirteen vessels – broke from Mars orbit and made all-speed to the scene.

A general mobilisation began through the entirety of the Fleet Component – automated systems instigated the general call-up of the entirety of the Fleet Reserve and the personnel files of millions were examined, analysed for relevant skills and assigned new positions to report to before they had even realised something – anything, was amiss.

The various departments of the larger Fleet; Space Strike Command, Space Bomber Command, Space Training Command and a half-dozen others gathered their senior officers together and began to pour over well-rehearsed plans-of-action to respond to two-dozen “Hypothetical Scenarios of Combat” currently considered likely in the ever-changing galapoliticial situation, as it currently stood.

A single medical ship, FAMV-Hope operated by the Fleet Auxiliary turned her ponderous bow about and made for the rescue effort with room for six thousand casualties if necessary. Ultimately she would return to the complex of docking bays and loading balconies reserved for the Fleet Medical Core as empty as she had been in the rush to leave.






Perhaps almost “forgotten” in the wider scheme of things, crowds began to fill Union Square – the public park-of-sorts which sat in front of the base of The Spire – an enormous, cloud-piercing collection of towers and structures housing virtually every facet of a government which discharged the duties of state to over fifteen billion souls.

They were mostly quiet. Mostly reserved. Mostly stunned.







By the time Government One had made its way to the scene of the disaster the SAR operation had ended before it had truly begun – the scale of the power of the impacts reducing the only signs of life to a number of fires still burning in the crumpled compartments with whatever atmosphere had been trapped along with the Kaeneians burned or asphyxiated to death.

Sophia stood at the centre of the Command & Control Centre aboard what would normally be called the FCSV-Solarri without her presence aboard. The entire facility was crowded – dozens of officers almost running between stations as data was correlated and examined, double-checked and published internally. An enormous three-dimensional projection hovered a short distance away, dominating the chamber as it rendered the situation outside in real-time and in all the “glory” a pair of eyes could show.

Beams of bright blue flashed over the scene periodically as the carrier's ANA focused the ship's sensors on the devastation ahead, as easily as Sophia used her own gaze to look upon the tragedy. Resembling the macabre carts which carried plague victims to their communal pits of centuries past, the Fleet Auxiliary ships on-station picked through the spinning chunks of melted alloy; collecting fragments for examination.

Canasres wiped the perspiration from his forehead as he consulted another incoming report from the acting Commandant of the FALV-Illustrious – a “mere” Lieutenant-Major who had answered the call to break station so suddenly, rising to the challenge to complete his unpleasant mission. He would be rewarded, as all good men should be in their pursuit of duty.

But it would wait, for a while. Tugging his duty jacket further apart at the collar, the Marshall of the Fleet stepped between his nominal supreme commander and the display behind. The blue eyes which turned to regard him were filled with uncertainty and hesitation – as though they pleaded with him for advice, for a recommendation, for a decision to be made and then given to the supreme decision-maker to reiterate.

It was mildly unsettling.

“The Timeship has been successfully retrieved by the Fleet Auxiliary,” Canasares begun without any of the satisfaction a completed operation should bring. “The ship is vented to atmosphere – there were no survivors.”

Sophia dipped her head towards the display, “How many?”

“It will be some time before we can be sure,” The Flag-Officer begun for the sake of formality though away from the public field, he could dispense with the mitigations. “Initial indications are four thousand eight hundred and fourteen dead.”

“Survivors?” She asked almost hopefully, to the extent that Canasares hesitated, no longer so sure his Commander-in-Chief was as willing to hear the raw truth as he had thought. “None, Governor-General.”

Sophia baulked, swallowing the bile rising in the back of her throat and the twisting of her gut. She felt sick – she was going to be sick.

“I need answers,” She pleaded brutally, honestly. “Give me answers, Marshall.”

Canasares watched the supreme executive power of the Serene Union turn on her heels and disappear through the bustle of officers and enlisted. His face could not resist the frown which formed, lips pursing together. His eyes drifted across the CCC to settle on the enormous generated display and its brutal truths.

The Governor-General was only one amongst four thousand eight hundred and fourteen who demanded answers.







Sophia sealed the door as soon as the bulkhead had slid back together, her back pressing against the cold metal as she felt her breath come in heaving gasps. She pressed a hand to her stomach, gagging in reflex as she stumbled forwards towards the bathroom. Her lips were forced open and shoulders heaved short of the target and she fell to her knees, gut emptying as her lungs competed to draw in while her stomach battled to draw out.

She groaned, pain exploding through her consciousness as if some hot blade had been plunged into the back of her skull and into the very folds of the brain. She slumped down to the floor, back pressed into her own mess as bright blue eyes danced around the room without focus. After a time the pain subsided and of its own accord, disappeared. After a time her breathing slowed and her eyes found their focus again.

Sophia blinked away the tears which threatened to spill over the rim of her eyelids, but the fabric of her sleeve soon became saturated and could help her control it no more. Droplets trailed a sad path along a pale cheek, gathering together for their journey down to the tiled floor.

Perhaps she cried for her own feelings of inadequacy. Perhaps she cried for her own personal sense of failure of achievement or hopes unrealised and dreams merely dreamed.

In part she cried for the four thousand plus souls who could not dream any more.
Last edited by Kaenei on Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Oyada
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Handy, this...

Postby Oyada » Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:38 pm

Nobody knew, really, where non-space, or sub-space, or simply “the dark”, was; even for sailors whose minds had been, from their birth, warped and bent to fit the shapes of new technologies and new methods, and who had known nothing but the impregnability of man and his ever-accruing annals of knowledge, there was something deeply disquieting, at a primordial level, about its sheer strangeness, the otherness of the place. There was no light, and yet one could discern shapes, forms weirder and more eerie than tongues could elucidate, in the perpetual black. There was no life, yet the very fabric of it carried a strange, pregnant promise of shapeless, unnamed things. The duty officers, like their men, were always quieter during faster-than-light aboard most ships; subdued by their alien surroundings, they would re-emerge in their normal guises only when they reached the safe, reassuring universe whence they had come. For all its hazards, it was yet preferable to the unlimited unknown.

Captain Horten knew these things, of course. He had been at sea – the archaism survived, though no-one knew why – for as long as not a few of his crew had been alive. His face had seen no lashing waves, no battering winds, no salt spray to dry his flesh and harden his soul; instead it has seen emptiness that killed at every opportunity, punctuated by the innumerable and astounding oddities and beauties that the galaxy could conjure. His soul might not be encased in salt, but it had been hardened to the temper of his ship’s hull by vacuum, and his mind sharpened to the sort of point that only such lethal nothingness produced. He had felt Mercury’s engines change their timbre beneath him, and he had awakened.

Now he lay in his cabin, dressed to proceed (for seamen never merely walked) to the bridge, if the need arose. It almost certainly would not, of course; as he ploughed his way through a particularly densely-written crime thriller, he could remain carefree, in the contented knowledge that the six Officers of his ship were capable of handling the entirety of the routine for exiting the ship’s fifteenth faster-than-light jump and docking the ship. Indeed, they could handle almost any exigency that might reasonably be foreseen, to boot, which made it almost certain that he would get to discover just why, in Detective-Major Sanayev’s opinion, Miss Boon had been so brutally murdered on the night of the twenty-third. If he was particularly fortunate, he might even have reached “also by the same author in Mikado Books” before he must don his dress uniform and endure the protracted tedium of exchanging pleasantries with the first-class guests.

Just forward of him, however, his undoing was rapidly unfolding. Already the Officer of the Lookout had called for Second Officer Drimac, and the two were engaged in worried conversation, poring earnestly over the ship’s main Navigation Computer’s output, even as the crooked-nosed Detective, a long-barrelled pistol hanging lazily in one hand, addressed the heretofore-unsuspected Herr Rosenmeyer in his typical, gravelly tones, delivered from behind a sodden cigar. The consensus was prompt and correct; the Captain must be notified.

Horten grimaced slightly as the intercom piped its shrill call for attention, murmuring an oath as he placed a bookmark between the novel’s pristine papers. “Yes?” he enquired testily, holding in his mind the sneer on Rosenmeyer’s sallow, yet handsome visage.

Drimac, to his credit, was apologetic. “I’m sorry to call you up, sir, but the Nav’s recommending we drop out of FTL at Saturn. Realspace sensors are picking up some unusual readings, and we think there may be…”

“…a danger to the ship?” Horten supplied acidly. “I’m on my way.” He replaced the receiver and donned his winter uniform jacket, noting as he did so that the ship’s distant thunder had grown more urgent. Something was up; the Nav was dropping them out of FTL, firing up the ship’s reverse thrusters in preparation to decelerate as rapidly as possible once she emerged into realspace.

By the time he had ascended the short companionway that linked his sea-cabin to the bridge, things were becoming hectic with a rapidity that bordered on the alarming. From the bulkhead behind his head, a sharp, urgent buzzer was sounding a discordant triplet, short and jarring; the signal to passengers and crew alike that this would be no normal emergence from faster-than-light, and that they might wish to brace for unexpected consequences. Horten frowned, and strode to join his subordinates at the Nav console.

“Computer’s going to drop us out in forty seconds unless we override, sir,” supplied Drimac unhelpfully.

“I’m aware of that, Mr. Drimac. It may interest you to know that I do possess two working eyes,” Horten responded. He studied the display for ten precious seconds, before returning to the bulkhead to warn the passengers that they would, very shortly, feel a sharp feeling of deceleration and possibly experience prolonged bursts of bright light; this was perfectly normal. Or more accurately, it wasn’t.

“Sound collision stations, Mr. Drimac. And shut off that infernal ‘all hands to posts’ while you’re about it.”

All in all, it was a decidedly good thing that the navigation computers, patiently brooding in the deep recesses of the ship’s heart, had chosen their position, and their moment, well. The process of deceleration from faster-than-light jumps was normally kept gradual; the ship would only very steadily lose her forward velocity, while the jump drives themselves would, after having made their rent in space-time, be gradually wound down, thus increasing the time to transit from realspace to non-space. Only in emergencies were “fast drops” performed; in such cases, the drives simply opened a hole and catapulted the ship instantaneously back into realspace, while the ship’s braking engines were thrown onto full reverse thrust, consuming every last ounce of power that more conventionally allowed the colossally inefficient teleporters to slow the inevitably jarring arrival in reality. The result was very rapid braking, a goodly chance of significant heat damage to the forward thrusters, and an enormous number of complaints from passengers who had been thrown into unseemly, unnerving, and far from wholly uninjured confusion by the sudden flash of bright green light and cacophonous thunder that accompanied the manoeuvre.
Rather unexpectedly for all concerned, Mercury suddenly returned to her natural element. Still more surprising, however, was the revelation that she had managed to do so almost literally on the lip of the exclusion zone around Machiavelli Station, Saturn. To say the least, nobody involved had quite foreseen this particular turn of events. Of course, most of the thousands aboard the great liner knew naught of what had just transpired; their view was abeam, not forward, and consequently they were merely treated (well, along the port side, at any rate) to a grandstand view of the unbounded beauty of Saturn, turning its ponderous orbit at the centre of one of nature’s most spectacularly, hauntingly beautiful panoramas. These passengers, at least, thought that they had found the reason for their sudden, sharp halt; the same consolation could not be offered to those on the ship’s starboard flank, or astern, although they were at least no more wrong in their assumption than their happily ignorant counterparts.

On the bridge, Captain Horten and his crew were still busy; the first priority they had was to ensure that Mercury was undamaged, either by her abrupt deceleration process (which was still ongoing), or by that terrible dread of all mariners – collision. Yet, as the minute ticked out, Horten became aware that all seemed, by the grace of the gods, to be well. The giant board, mapping out his ship’s well-being, still radiated a steady, reassuring, life-confirming green, and the status reports his subordinates were handling were all normal. The Officer of the Lookout had come, bubbling with relief, to confirm that they had not managed to hit anything and that, yet more miraculously, nothing was about to hit them, before returning to silence and beginning to tense once more, pacing as he patrolled the rank of displays his subordinates manned. Thus, when he spoke, Horten knew something that demanded his attention had occurred; and when his words were nothing more than, “oh, good gods”, he knew it was probably bad. Hush descended on the bridge, or at least, that which could hush.

“Officer of the Lookout!” Horten barked, no geniality whatsoever beneath the enquiry.

“It’s the long-distance optical system, sir; I think it’s found why we’re here.” Without awaiting the command, he transferred the images to a large monitor, spanning the starboard wall of the bridge to almost half its length. What little conversation had been occurring in the crowded, cramped chamber ceased abruptly, as the cameras resolved their images into a coherent, sharp whole.

Floating before them, projected in terrible, crystal-clear colour for all to see, was what had once been a ship, or so it seemed. The giant sections of plating showed the details of their former life; occasional glimpses of clean lines, torn and butchered by some unseen giant’s hand, mockeries of their once-proud shapes, floating in a great, amorphous cloud, scorched and aflame in nearly equal parts. Every man who saw knew that those huge expanses of metal had masses of many tonnes, yet had been thrown aside like pieces of cardboard, to drift hopelessly from one another into the anonymous life of so much vacuum-immersed flotsam. Within the centre of the slowly expanding cloud of debris lay what little remained intact of the vessel; twisted almost beyond recognition, anonymously rent and bent by her ordeal, at the point where all sense and reason said she should simply have disintegrated, the ship provided mute testament to her builders’ skill, for her death continued. Aboard Mercury’s silent bridge, they watched the ship’s death agonies, the final anguish of a great and graceful creature fighting a hopeless battle with physics. Occasional tongues of livid, sun-bright, yellow-cored orange were still erupting from her shattered sides, allowing a mercifully brief vision of the utter hell within the hull, a protection which had evidently proven totally inadequate against the dreadful forces that had torn the vessel apart. Even at this enormous distance, the final torment of the Timeship and her tug – though the wreck was, to Mercury’s crew, far beyond the stage where it could be discerned once to have been two ships – was a sorrow almost beyond bearing; foreigners or not, those were still, in all likelihood, men who had been aboard her, men not much different to they in many respects; men who faced, day after day, a common enemy, infinitely more unmerciful than any life in the galaxy, and who had probably loved their ship, in the way men can only love something which becomes so much more than mere metal, that transcends its simple purpose to become a home, a protector, and a comrade. As it had throughout the ages, for all races and all creeds, the similarity between them and their counterparts, so irretrievably lost in the fastness, simply bore over the ramparts of paranoia and cynicism and pierced straight to the heart.

In stunned, horribly awestruck stillness, they watched the ships dying. They watched as still more chunks of metal, the size of houses and much larger, spat from her carcass into space, careering away, toppling end-over-end, colliding with their compatriots; behind them, still more ravenous flames, seemingly defying physics itself, roared out in gouting jets of near-volcanic fury. The ships continued destroying themselves, rending their stout hulls into fragments and hurling the pitiful clusters of survivors they had once sheltered to a terrible death, while from the distance the tiny forms of rescuers began frantically nosing through their disgorged entrails, desperately seeking those few who might yet survive within the tortured hulks. Nobody aboard Mercury wanted to imagine the conditions within the ships, charred and ripped and shredded by the terrible forces that steadily consumed them; but every one of them could, or at least thought he could. Many had heard enough tales of the miseries of death in space; the wars’ memories did not fade quickly. All of them could at least have an inkling of the awfulness unfolding within the dying ship’s hull; all of them could imagine, could see that she was smashed, her remnants on fire, her people in pain; and surely all men, indeed surely all creatures, were much the same when they were in pain?

It was some hushed, shocked minutes before Captain Horten finally turned away from the monitor, having finally registered that the Radio Operator had been attempting, with growing concern, to contact them for the past six minutes. With an effort of will born of years of professionalism, he tore his gaze from the tragedy unfolding before him and crossed to the intercom, informing the radiomen that he would arrive directly. As he left, the Navigation Officer finally managed, too, to regain his composure; a moment later, the ship’s running lights were illuminating space at maximum power, while her automatic beacons broadcast, over, a pre-programmed message with which generations of mariners might have been familiar: “I have stopped so as to avoid accident and investigate potential emergency.” A moment later, the beacon’s reassuring pulses changed character altogether; now, to all and sundry who could detect them, they broadcast, in plain English: “I have stopped engines and offer assistance.”

It took Captain Horten somewhat in excess of an hour to get his ship underway again. By the time he had, he could no longer see any fires ravaging the pathetic form of what had once been a fine ship; indeed, a horde of assisting ships were already clamouring to reach the hulk. He had been told, politely but firmly, by Machiavelli Control, that he should please avoid bringing his ship in so closely, and so unexpectedly, again; that nonetheless, no harm was done; and that while his offer of assistance was appreciated, there were many specialist vessels in the area which could render it with much greater facility than his own ship, behemoth as she was. The first two were good, the third perfectly true; yet despite its logic, his heart was heavy with pity as Mercury, now cleared for her onward passage, steamed slowly past the melancholy scene. Horten didn’t see it, but he knew that he was not the only man saluting from Mercury’s lofty, lonely bridge as she departed.

Beside, and slightly behind, him, Ramsay sighed deeply. In a moment of well-judged insubordination, he had ordered the jack on the quarterdeck lowered to half-mast as they passed; now, as the sorrowful spectacle glided silently past with ever-building speed, he murmured under his breath:

“Lord, Lord! methought, what pain it was to drown!
What dreadful noise of waters in mine ears!
What ugly sights of death within mine eyes!
Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks,
Ten thousand men that fishes gnawed upon,
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
All scattered in the bottom of the sea:
Some lay in dead men's skulls; and in those holes
Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept,
As 't were in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems…”


OOC: This poest links into another thread; the two happened to dovetail nicely. For the relevant poests in said thread, see here
Last edited by Oyada on Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Freedom's price is liberty. The individual and his liberty are secondary to our objectives; how are we to protect our lives, our culture, our people, if they all act independently? If each man pursues his own petty aims, we are no more than tiny grains of iron in a random heap. Only by submitting to the need of the whole can any man guarantee his freedom. Only when we allow ourselves to be shaped do we become one, perfect blade. - General Jizagu Ornua, The cost of freedom for Oyada, 1956.

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Dread Lady Nathicana
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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Tue Jan 19, 2010 2:41 pm

The initial efforts on the part of the Dominion were cut short as Kaeneian forces moved in, took over, and politely but firmly informed their allies to keep their distance, and stand by. This attitude while respected, was immediately relayed to the station, and from there on up.

This understandably caused concerns.

As the reports came in, and departure records were confirmed, the magnitude of the tragedy hit home. Nearly five thousand lives snuffed out in the blink of an eye. No survivors were expected. And thus far, no explanations were forthcoming other than the apparent accident.

No other unverified ships had been noted in the area, no weapons had been fired – this much was confirmed and reported, as well as the staggering loss of life. The general attitude was one of shock. And as the word spread, the offers for assistance poured in from various sectors. Clearly there was no help to be had for those already dead, but perhaps their families?

Those who approached the Dominion or Machiavelli were put under the venue of the Public Relations Ministry. Others attempted to contact the Kaeneian government themselves.

The rapid departure of the Kaeneian delegation as a whole aboard Machiavelli had not gone unnoticed. And combined with their ally’s lack of coordination with their forces, it sent a definite message – one that had leadership concerned.

No one had attempted to stop them. No one had a reason to. Traffic control had coordinated with them to assure a safe disembarkation, and their direction and flight plan was noted, and passed on to superiors.

As for the Oyadan ship …

It was noted, and as expected, once it was determined that it as well had nothing to do with the accident, was logged, and their communications returned, with all due politeness. Alternative course corrections were offered, as well as docking priveliges if they so desired, along with the afore-noted replies that while offers of assistance were appreciated, the situation was well in hand.

All the same, the ship was monitored quietly, and all information gathered and documented.

Overtures to the Kaeneians were made – in point, to the recently departed ship containing their Governor-General, as well as other key leaders in their government. The point, of course, was to ask for any information they were willing to release in their search, to assure them that the Dominion was ready and willing to do whatever was needed to assist, to offer their condolences on the Kaeneian’s loss of so many of its citizens, to pass on the offers of humanitarian support, and to more quietly assess the status of their international relationship.

These things came in the form of several messages – from Machiavelli control, from the ship heading up the Dominion fleet in the area, from Intel, and one Antonio Pellegrino, and from Naiya, d’Aquisto – Principessa and heir apparent to the Dominion on behalf of herself, and her mother.

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Kaenei
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Ex-Nation

Postby Kaenei » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:22 pm

The expansive hangar had been filled six feet up from the floor with recovered debris, the steel of the decking underneath long scuffed white by the passage of hundreds of boots over many long decades. Visible as it was only in the twisting pathways which had been cleared to allow the macabre, but vital forensic work of examining, tagging and sorting everything from the smallest joining clasp to the remains of enormous air conditioning modules resting atop miniature mountains of melted alloy.

Along these paths walked the living amongst the remains of the dead – all the more eerily in the head-to-toe, bright white bodysuits which provided another layer of forensic protection so vital to the integrity of the operation. Barely visible underneath the suit as a grey strap across the bicep, each wore an armband coloured black in national mourning as was always the way.

Each wore a rebreather strapped across their faces; eyes hidden behind a single strip of reinforced, high-grade plastic in defence of whatever toxins or poisons or dangers might have been created in the terrible fury of the destruction of the Timeship.

Vitras crouched down and carefully picked up the remains of a ship-issue mug; its stainless-steel construction crushed by the forces which had propelled it from the table – or the hand – of its owner, out into the blackness of the void to float alongside the remains of the last lips to grace its worn rim.

Feeling its weight, his eyes struggled to take in the detail of the individual pieces surrounding – drowned out as they were by the raw mass of gutted technology to sift through, manually, for the most part. He could feel the tickle of cold sweat where the eyepiece pressed against his forehead, despite the cushioning designed to prevent it. The air in his throat from the valve felt warm and tepid, despite passing through a cooling unit designed to prevent this.

Hands turning the mug over faster than his eyes could track it the dried, flaking but unmistakable smear of crimson wiped free of the base over his gauntlets. His gut twisted lightly, but the bile rising in his throat was mercilessly swallowed and supressed.

“Overseer?” A voice interrupted from behind. Garbed in the same suit and rebreather it did not matter much that Vitras could not recognise him – or her, and truth be known he was thankful for the distraction from the death that hung about the hangar against the decking, permeating the mounds of ruins and pressing against the ceiling, desperate for a release that could not be granted until the answers to their many questions were found.

“The General Service Staff and the Federal Defence Committee have assembled ...”

Vitras nodded, not bothering to offer more of an acknowledgement than a nod. Better another vacuous meeting and bureaucratic merry go-round than another moment spent in here.






Riordan suppressed the urge to sigh as he snatched up another pad from the desk, steeling himself for another set of notes to which the Governor-General would nod without really listening to what he had to say. “There are missives from foreign governments, condolences ...”

Sophia nodded, concentration mostly devoted to the brush she held in her hands as she applied the black of mourning to the platinum bands of her office. Their shimmering silver-metal dulled to a non-reflective shade in an instant. Undeterred Riordan pressed ahead – “Offers of assistance that will need to be responded to, Governor-General.”

“Thank them and decline,” She said simply, glancing up from her project for a moment. “Unless you think we cannot cope?”

Recognising the classic attempt at rhetoric, the elderly Kaeneian simply nodded, “I have the individual Federal Representatives craft responses. Interestingly The Dominion's address was sent not by Nathicana, but her daughter – perhaps this is the beginning of a hand-over of power to the Principessa?”

“Maybe,” Sophia added non-committally, pushing Riordan to the threshold of a sigh. “On a related note, the Federal Representative to Devras, and his deputy, were both bereaved by the accident – a beloved and a daughter, respectively. We therefore, for obvious reasons of compassion, do not have a senior OFESA official to carry out relations ...”

The Governor-General narrowed her eyes, scrutinising the black bands for any blemishes or paint spots. Nodding in satisfaction, she set them down on the tabletop, before turning her gaze out through the narrow armoured viewing port granting an uninspiring view of the dock wall they were moored against. “Kristilanna,” She said simply.

Riordan opened his mouth as if to suggest otherwise but found himself cut off, “I appointed her as Assistant to the Deputy Federal Representative. There is no Deputy or Senior Federal Representative. Am I misunderstanding the system?”

The eldest stateskaeneian of the Serene Union was in an impossible situation. He could see Sophia attempting to reign in the shock of the second major incident of her General-Governorship with the tried-and-tested re-establishment of authority – to reassure both herself and others that someone was still in control of the situation. At the same time his understanding of Kristilanna's assignment to Devras was one of minimising a possible embarrassment to the Federal government, more specifically an embarrassment to the Governor-General, should it ever come to light.

To place more seniority in such a person seemed to go against the original intent. Still the system was as it was, and his purpose was to carry out policy – not interpret it or promulgate it. “As you wish.”






Kristilanna's carefree-attitude had been all but put to death as news of the disaster disseminated around Machiavelli, and the full tragedy of the lives lost became apparent. All thoughts of food or exploration forgotten, she had instead returned to her assigned cabin – alongside her partner/significant other/beloved/other half, neither entirely sure what the other was in quantifiable terms.

This was not the time for such debate and instead, Kristilanna had trawled the information networks – reduced to fact-finding on foreign news services as the silence on the incident from the Serene Union itself spoke worrying volumes. No sooner had she put into motion plans to journey to Devras immediately, if only to take up her official position immediately and that way perhaps have access to more information, than the entire situation changed.

At first she had assumed a mistake – the communique was encrypted and secured with the highest-level cyphers; perhaps once at the limits of her personal authorisation but now well beyond her clearance as a low-level civil servant. She stared at the decryption screen as if challenging the mainframe itself to explain how she could be expected to open the message, if indeed it was her message to open.

More for the sake of completeness than any real hope, she entered her personal codes long since disabled to government access and long rendered defunct.



By order of the Governor-General you are hereby selected as acting Federal Representative to The Dominion, effective without delay. By my order you are hereby activated as acting Federal Representative to The Dominion as the duly authorised agent of the OFESA.

The information you require to discharge your duties is enclosed.

Likonesse, Riordan. [SUPOFESA]




The hours passed by quickly as the full power of the information-gathering capabilities of the KISS and the Tri-Service Defence Forces were turned over for her perusal. What little concrete information regarding the accident was reviewed a half-dozen times and committed to memory, sleep forgotten in the rush of purpose which flooded her being and restored some semblance of usefulness.

Closing the screen down, she turned away from the desk. By now her official accreditation would have made its electronic way from the Serene Union to the government of the Dread Lady and so her position would be confirmed. Crossing through to find Enzo, she laid a hand against the small of his back and guided him round to face her.

“We will not be going to Devras yet,” She offered without apology. “I must speak with your government immediately.”
Last edited by Kaenei on Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Thu Jan 21, 2010 7:45 pm

It figured. Just when things seemed like they might lighten up a bit, something else went wrong.

Oh, it was a very selfish initial reaction, and one that was soon washed away by the growing sense of horror at the loss of life, and the realization of what just happened.

And of course, the immediate paranoia about being blamed for it, having anything further to do with it, drawing any more attention than he already had on him and Kristilanna, whether or not he might be used as a scapegoat somehow … it went on.

A ship like that blowing up like it did, when it did, where it did, was no coincidence in his mind. He wracked his brain as they walked silently back to Kristilanna’s cabin, trying to think if there were anything he had said that might have been used, any indication in their lines of questioning that might be suspect.

He hadn’t thought the damages were severe enough to warrant an accidental explosion, last he’d noted. He could be wrong – anything was possible that way. He didn’t know the entirety of the ship, after all, and it had been damaged extensively in spots. What might have happened had it blown up while in dock gave him a cold, sick feeling inside. The damage … it didn’t bear further pondering.

Even with all he had on his mind, he was cognizant enough of the Kaeneian woman walking with him to allow her her space, just making himself available if she needed. While she pored over news files and any other bit of information she could find, he paced the room quietly, his brow creased in a deep frown. When the typing stopped, and her movement stilled, he paused as well, watching her from across the room, fear settling in his stomach as he tried to read her expression.

Something was up. It couldn’t be good.

Vettori twitched, waiting for her to say something, but whatever it was she’d come across had her attention riveted for now. So he continued his pacing, and worrying, stopping now and then to brood quietly on this point or that.

He was lost in thought, staring out one of the port views when she finally stopped and walked over to him. He jumped slightly at her touch, but turned around quickly, his concern clear.

And of course, her answer was the farthest thing from his mind, and the worst possible thing she could have asked for right then, in his mind.

“Are you out of your goddamn mind?” he sputtered incredulously. “What we want is off this station, and away from this situation, the faster the better. What in hell is going on? And why do you have to speak to anyone in the government about this? We were both arrested before docking here. We couldn’t have done anything!”

--- --- ---

The credentials were indeed received, and accepted, though the flag they raised also raised some eyebrows. More change in a very difficult time. The need for new representatives was expected, given the circumstances. That wasn’t the point in question. But who they had chosen, and the curious timing with everything else …

Arrangements were preemptively made in the event the Kaeneians wished to speak directly with a Dominion representative. They would wait on their pleasure for a request, given how silent most of the lines of communications had been in return. Concerns about what exactly had really happened increased, hypotheses were made, and questions grew.

--- --- ---

As life is wont to do, in spite of what tragedy befalls, it went on aboard Machiavelli. The mood affected the various sectors differently, depending on the sentients who made up the population of any given spot. Down below, in the seedier sections, there was little change, other than the usual rush to figure out an angle for profit amongst some, a shaking of heads and acknowledgment of the tragedy before going back to drinks and their own problems, and momentary pauses to remember it really could always be worse.

It was down in one of these levels that one Benny Pazzi ran afoul of one of the nastier criminal elements, apparently over a gambling debt. A business arrangement gone sour. Unfortunately, the man with the shiny smile had not been interested in excuses or empty promises, and it had all ended rather badly for Pazzi.

And messily.

Unfortunately for The Teeth, security got wind of it, given their increased monitoring of things, and moved in on him in an effort to keep the peace. Everyone knew how it worked. Minor things were often overlooked. Something like murder, now … that would cost you. The man with the pretty white choppers decided to resist arrest, or so the reports stated unequivocally. That sort of thing never ended well.

This time was no different.

It passed as a minor note in news blurbs and was soon forgotten in the larger concerns centering on the timeship disaster.

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Kaenei
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Postby Kaenei » Fri Jan 22, 2010 6:27 am

“Calm yourself,” She replied reflexively, perhaps with a little more steel to her voice than she'd intended for. The moments passed thick with the unease of a silence neither wanted and neither wanted to break, until she crossed over and sat herself down on the bed, next to him with one hand on her stomach and another finding his palm.

She squeezed the hand in hers, “The Serene Union's Federal Representative to The Dominion and his deputy both lost loved ones in the accident – there is no-one for me to be assistant to. I have been given a field promotion, if you prefer, to take their places and become the Federal Representative myself.

“I need to meet with your government because I must convey the position of my government and answer the questions they will undoubtedly have. Do you not think this is a good thing? I do not have to worry about what I am going to do--”

“Concerned at what I am going to do,” She corrected quickly, a small smile ghosting across her lips.








The General Service staff when brought together represented the most senior and experienced military minds the Serene Union could field at a single time; officers with decades upon decades upon decades of service across the grass and rock, as well as the stars in the sky. Usually taken-up with the running of their respective departments or fine-tuning tactics and strategy, they had been brought together for a most unpleasant and frank assessment.

Namely blame, and who – if anyone – should it be apportioned to.

Despite the vocal objections of some elements of the Federal Fleet Staff, it had been deemed necessary to include the Federal Field Staff – the organisational heads of the Ground Component – in a matter deemed serious enough to require the attention of the entirety of the Serene Union's military machine. The head of the Federal Field Staff and the serving deputy Chief of Services via the General Service Staff, Field General Vanzantan, did not waste time in providing justification for some of the Fleet officers' objections.

“The Timeship was unproven and inherently flawed,” He begun sweepingly. “There always remained a chance of catastrophic malfunction.”

The head of Fleet Engineering Command shook his head in a far more restrained response given the rivalry that existed between Ground and Fleet, a far more subdued answer than those that would have been offered by the other heads of departments. The Fleet Marshal gestured to the pad sat in front of him and duplicated for all the Flag Officers gathered to view.

“I have finished reviewing the findings of my engineering teams prior to the destruction of the Timeship. I can find no discrepancies in what they say, and I have no reason to doubt it. All available technical information was also reviewed and I reached precisely the same conclusion.”

“And what, precisely, is that conclusion?” The Field General replied with a question loaded heavily with insinuation.

The Fleet Marshall offered the slightest shrug of his uniformed shoulders, “The ship had suffered significant damage to systems and equipment but it was structually sound. All high-powered devices were disengaged and we were in the process of de-fuelling the ship's fusion reactors and main powerplant. One of the few blessings, if I may use that word, is that we had already removed a significant amount of the ship's anti-matter – had we not there would be precious little of the ship left to examine.”

The Chief of Services, Marshall of the Fleet Component in its entirety, felt the familiar twisting of his gut which always preceded something he did not want to ask but was compelled to question nonetheless. Canasares folded his hands together, voice deliberately measured to stem the shock that would most likely stem from what he had to say.

“If the ship did not suffer an accident ...” He begun slowly, deliberately. “If there was no malfunction, then perhaps something happened to cause this deliberately.”

“Sabotage?” The head of the Fleet Sky Service replied grimly, to which Canasares could only nod. Almost at our door, almost in our face? Against our own military?” He continued. “Who could be so bold?”

“I can think of many candidates,” Vanzantan muttered, his words eliciting several nods of approval from the rest of the representatives of the Ground Component.

Canasares moved quickly cut that thinking off, his voice harsh and direct. “The examination of the debris from the accident,” – His use of the word accident instead of incident every bit deliberate – “Has yet to reveal any evidence such as this. Do not let your imaginations, or your personal grudges or opinions, colour you to one conclusion over another. Five thousand lives demand you give them enough impartiality to put aside your doubts and personal views.”

Vanzantan said nothing, but the clenching in his jaw merely confirmed that Canasares had made a firm enemy of his immediate deputy on the General Service Staff, and a more powerful foe in his role as the head of the Ground Component. So be it.

“So we are back to knowing nothing,” A Field General to the Fleet Marshall's left uttered. Canasares shared his fellow officers' frustration – anger even – at the pace of the investigation and the lack of new information, but one did not rise to become Chief of Services without the ability to practice a little patience.

“We know what we do not need to know anything more about,” He replied with a nod at the head of the Fleet Engineering Command. It was not much but for now, it would have to do.








While the communique carried the official seal and mark of the Office of Foreign and Extra-Solar Affairs – there being no doubt as to its authenticity – its original transmission point was nonetheless Machiavelli Station, rather than Europa or Earth as normal. Ever to-the-point, it simply offered a time and a place for which the Serene Union's newly-minted Federal Representative could be received for a meeting to discuss recent events.

On-board Machiavelli Station, no less.

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The Garbage Men
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Postby The Garbage Men » Fri Jan 22, 2010 5:38 pm

As the Kaeniens stonewalled the overtures that they had made and with no rights to access a vessel as the Kaeniens have obviously not given up any rights to their vessel then there was little for the TGM vessels around the wreck to do but watch and wait. The Kaeniens did thier amatuer recovery of the vessel and left but The Garbage Men weren't done yet. There was always the chance that they left something behind and just incase they did the scanners tweaked their calibration to focus on small remnants that have been left behind while the recovery vessel activated it's gravimetric field which would draw anything that gets caught in it around the ship and into it's hold. Just incase there was somethere there to grab a hold of.

Further more the following bill was sent to the appropriate Kaenien department.

Code: Select all
Dear Representative of the Kaeneian government;

The Garbage Men is a inter-galactic corporation that deals primarily in waste and sanitation services, however we also provide a rather large array of related services including salvage, disposal and containment of hazardous materials which in the occasion are of particular note. Under Emergency Hazardous Material Accident Protocols we were obliged to render such services as appropriate during the recent incident involving your 'Timeship'.

These services however do cost money to run and as your Timeship which manipulates it's position in the time stream is destroyed, unknown leakages and reactions are very likely to take place not only harming the area around the destroyed vessel but perhaps even time itself. As such due to the costs incured during TGM operations in regards to this incident and consequences that might have occured as the result of the incident because of the nature of the Kaeneian vessel. It is only right for appropriate recompense be made by the Kaeneian Government to The Garbage Men corporation for services rendered.

Attached to this letter is a bill, detailing the services and the charges for each service. If you have any questions in regards to the bill or services provided please don't hesitate to contact me. Thank you for your time.

<signature>
Peter Everret
Chief Financial Officer, The Garbage Men
ψ

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Kaenei
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Postby Kaenei » Fri Jan 22, 2010 5:49 pm

The reply from a junior OFESA representative is terse and to the point - as befitting just one of the thousands of communiques received by the Serene Union offering a truly bewildering array of services, amongst them an ever-present proportion claiming to have already provided their expertise and requesting compensation. With more important matters to tend to considering the current situation developing, one Peter Everret or his personal secretary - whichever it reached first - was left in no uncertain terms regarding the progress on his bill.

The Serene Union does not recognise implied consent regarding international treaties and obligations. The Serene Union further does not recognise the legal authority of treaties and obligations it has not assented and/or become a signatory to.

Your request is denied.

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Dread Lady Nathicana
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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Sat Jan 23, 2010 6:37 am

At her initial response, Vettori clenched his jaw and forced himself not to say the first thing that sprang to mind – the truth. He stood glowering quietly instead, reluctantly joining her as she sat. He didn’t return the squeeze though, listening as she tried to explain, his sense of impending disaster building with every word.

Clearly, either Vitras didn’t have things as well in hand as he’d expected, or they were being set up. Maybe Sophia was the wild card. Maybe some of what he’d previous suspected was true. Maybe Vitras didn’t give two shits about what Kristilanna did, and just said all that to force him into giving up the life he’d known out of fear, knowing he’d cave when faced with her death, and that of their unborn child. He’d have to be some sort of monster not to take that seriously, or just walk away from his responsibilities. Who knew anymore. It was more than he wanted to deal with right now in any case, and it was clear she’d made up her mind. He’d heard that tone before.

Standing up, he slipped his hand from hers, looking worried and angry all at once, and took a step back away from the bed.

“Then I guess you do what you have to. I can’t seem to make a right choice to save my life, or anyone else’s for that matter. Maybe you’ll have better luck.”

Vettori paused, debating risking telling her what was going on behind the scenes for the thousandth time, then shook his head and made his way to the door, and from there, went to lose himself down on the Main.

--- --- ---

It was surprising that the return message had come from the station itself, let alone the source. Still, all was in readiness, and so with the proper coaching, and a Spook earpiece in place, it was decided that the Dominion heir would be a better face to put forward in this initial contact. As the situation developed, and became more complex, or if this initial meeting devolved, Nathicana stood by to take the reins.

The importance of ensuring Naiya was seen as compassionate, approachable, and supportive was something the Imperatrice had long been working on. Her daughter’s basic nature in that direction helped, as did her uncanny ability to read people – something else she hoped would assist in this first face to face discussion. It wasn’t out of the ordinary in a situation like this for leadership to be closeted, or to make remote overtures or condolences after all. And considering the contents of the files Scoperta brought back … putting a human face to the supposed monster they feared could, in theory, allay a good number of concerns.

Naiya was surprisingly not nervous as she walked down the corridor which lead to the small conference room which was her destination. Recent events had tempered an already confident core, quiet contemplation had stiffened her resolve, and she had been able to find her center again. Dressed in a soft grey business suit and skirt, her hair pulled back in a simple chignon, All the same, the gravity of the situation, the staggering loss of life was not lost on her. It was with all due reverence to it all that she entered the room, to find Kristilanna already seated.

“Representative,” she began, crossing the short distance to take a seat next to the other woman. “Thank you for taking the time to discuss the situation with us. I can’t imagine what you and your people are going through right now. So far, our overtures of assistance have been politely declined. What little information we do have is at your disposal all the same. I realize nothing we do can bring back those lives lost, and for that I am truly sorry. But is there nothing we can do to assist?”

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Kaenei
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Postby Kaenei » Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:18 pm

If she were truthful with herself, Kristilanna could not help but feel disappointment at Enzo as he turned and left. She could not help but feel that she had asked a question of him - asked a question that would define the future they would share together - and received an unexpected and unwelcome answer. Perhaps she had made too many assumptions on his character, or simply made him out to be stronger than he really was. Certainly she could not be accused of failing to open up; the entire Kaeneian stereotype might very well come crashing down if anyone but him knew the truth of the matter at hand.

Still if he felt he could not stand his ground, it would be pointless to force him. If he felt he could not support her course of action it was only right he be allowed to decline. Decisiveness had never been a problem for her but in Enzo Vettori she found a man beset with uncertainties, worries and self-confidence issues which clouded every issue and complicated every decision. Black and white merged to grey with him, and her decisiveness seemed more and more like a yoke around his neck to yank him in this direction and that.

If he returned, so be it. She would not chase him - for whatever reason, he needed time to think.







"Sample Nine-Nine-Seven-Eight analysed," The voice echoed dispassionately without the slightest hint of the hours upon hours spent fruitlessly cataloguing. "No anomalous signatures detected."

The equipment surrounding Lieutenant Kasarin was only the third Mark Ten ANA system deployed to the Fleet at large - the latest build of venerable Autonomous Networked Awareness which ran entire stations and starships with ease and when put to a specific task, put a hundred Kaeneians likewise to shame. There were no sprawling spaceships or facilities to monitor here; only the endless forensic storage tablets holding the remains of the skin shed by the Timeship as it broke its back, so violently. Working in back-to-back shifts in a half-dozen rooms hastily appropriated for the repetitive, if vital task at hand, the monotonous work of sifting through every retrieved fragment went on.

"Sample Nine-Nine-Seven-Nine analysed. No anomalous signatures detected."

Puffing his cheeks out, Kasarin's eyes followed the complex lines of code which swirled and scrolled and re-wrote themselves as projected by the ceiling-mounted lens. It allowed a unique glance into the actual mind of an intelligent being as it considered, examined and reached conclusions - even if said being was not truly sentient. How considerably easier life would be, if every person on the street or walking a corridor boasted a lens like this which could convey exactly what they intended and meant with every word.

"Sample Nine-Nine-Eight-Zero analysed. No anomalous signatures detected."

Easier if there were real conversation to be had, he mused with a sigh.

While he had been every bit as eager as any remotely well-motivated career officer to do his bit, to assist the investigation into the terrible events for which the shattered remains sat bound in their protective cases a short distance behind, that well-meaning had been diluted somewhat by the undeniable boredom of simply sitting and waiting. Sitting waiting for an error message to require Keneian intervention - a sensor moving out of alignment or a buffer overrun which required a manual clearing. The ANA boasted cognitive functions a hundred-fold over his own; there was nothing it could miss that he would ever be able to see. All that remained then was to sit and wait for his duty shift to come to an end. Wait to be relieved or, fancifully ...

"Sample Nine-Nine-Eight-One analysed. Anomalous signatures detected - commencing high-resolution scan. Standby."

The Lieutenant's eyes were almost pulled from his skull in their rush to turn towards the ANA's source code given some physical manifestation. A decade of complex and exhaustive training had given him the hard-earned ability to decipher most of what was being thrown up into the air by the projector and then dissolved, or changed by the program itself. He scrutinised the results of the imaging as they were interpreted by the system, without bothering to address the auxiliary screens which translated the information into something the unqualified could understand.

The data lines met each other, knitted together and presented a portion of the truth for his understanding. Kasarin was out of his seat and through the bulkhead door before the lines were broken down and absorbed into the storage buffer, so that his superiors - men unqualified to read ANA code, perhaps - could see what he had just seen.






Kristilanna had expected The Dominion's Chancellor to meet her or, if they had paid enough importance to it, perhaps even the Dread Lady itself. It was no small surprise then that it was the Princapessa, rather than her mother or her mother's right-hand man who had apparently been chosen to conduct the meeting on behalf of the hosts. The vast irony of the universe blessed the Kaeneian with its subtle touch - here she stood face to face with a young woman who given a certain set of circumstances, given a certain degree of motivation and nurturing, could destroy the entirety of the Triumvirate of Yut. A young woman who could usher in a new age of darkness to make the black between the stars seem bright.

A young woman who for all these dire warnings of possible-doom, would not look out of place leaning against a corner or holding a door aside for you to pass through. Whatever possible evil existed inside Naiya, whether it was a mere thought or dark whisper said in the heat of the moment could only be hiding in the very depths, for Kristilanna could see not a trace of it from the beautiful visage opposite.

Truly the universe worked in mysterious ways - even when one found the means to travel across time itself.

"The Timeship was at least formally, a military ship," She explained as the business of the meeting opened. "The rescue operation, the recovery effort and the security of the site are therefore a matter for the Fleet Component. One constant regardless of the flag you fly above your head is that the military is never prone to accepting help. It does not want to appear to need it ..."

"Your efforts are nonetheless noted by my government and appreciated for the spirit in which they were made. Obviously you are already aware that the Search and Rescue operation was formally concluded without any survivors being recovered, and the investigation into the loss of the three ships is on-going. We have made a number of discoveries the most important of which, is that the Timeship's near-destruction was not directly related to the damage it sustained at the end of my - its - voyage.

"The senior officer of Fleet Engineering Command has confirmed the findings of an interim report compiled approximately four days before the incident. The report was issued by Fleet No. 1410 - the engineering team assigned to carry out rudimentary repairs and safeguard the Timeship for travel. They confirmed the ship's essential superstructure was sound and that the ship's primary reactor was partially de-fuelled, with all but a single secondary fusion reactor deactivated. Shipboard power was maintained through a hard-line with Machiavelli Station, and by the single reactor operating when the Timeship left the dock.

"I am reliably informed that work has now begun to pinpoint the precise point at which the explosion began. When that is achieved, we will know what system may have been directly responsible."
Last edited by Kaenei on Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:21 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Dread Lady Nathicana
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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Sat Jan 23, 2010 6:37 pm

“We understand completely when it comes to military and maintaining your security,” Naiya reassured the Kaeneian Representative. “We had hoped at least some might have survived. There aren’t really sufficient words to offer in light of such a tragedy, I realize.”

The rest of the information was new, and thus more difficult to address, though the young woman could see where such a line of thought could turn into a load of trouble.

“So your initial findings are that something happened to the ship after leaving Machiavelli?” She asked carefully. “The information we’d gathered so far hasn’t turned up anything to indicate a malfunction, surge, or oversight on this end. Logs of the traffic have been reviewed and show nothing out of the ordinary in or around the flight path. At least your people have been able to narrow the scope in their search for answers.”

The younger woman paused then, taking a moment to look Kristilanna over more carefully.

“I understand I am probably not what you expected, so if I may, allow me to ease some of your concerns. Many of those whom you might have met with in different circumstances are currently scrambling to cover their various responsibilities, and both maintain order and promote a feeling of security as best they can with those on the station, investors, incoming traffic - the list goes on. With such a large environment as this, with as many nations and organizations as we work with, a problem of this magnitude, involving such great losses, and to a longstanding ally of ours no less, there have been almost too many assurances to be made – and with few solid answers on our part.”

“Given the responsibilities of my inheritance, I’ve studied at my mother’s side since I was young, preparing to take on the mantle of leadership. I was asked to assist with the initial meetings with whatever representative your nation chose while the Imperatrice kept oversight on the initial investigations. She felt the relationship of our nations required her oversight so that she could assure you personally that all that could be done was done on our end,” she continued, her voice gentle, understanding, yet with a touch of pride.

“I am certain that when all the data has been collated that she will wish to speak with you herself. Also,” she added, her smile somewhat wry. “Though I haven’t been briefed completely on the files your ship brought back, I’m given to understand that the future you saw was not one we’d care to see, and that our nation had something to do with that. Given my mother’s somewhat … questionable reputation amongst some, perhaps it was thought I might be a better candidate to use as a sound board. If this doesn’t suit your needs, I’m certain some other arrangement could be made.”
Last edited by Dread Lady Nathicana on Sat Jan 23, 2010 7:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Kaenei
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Postby Kaenei » Sat Jan 23, 2010 7:07 pm

Kristilanna nodded her head and though she gave every appearance to understanding, internally at least there was the inescapable strangeness of sitting in an office discussing the destruction of Kaeneian ships with of all people ... Naiya. At times like this she found it difficult, if virtually impossible, to deny that surely there was some sort of higher power at play. Even if not omnipotent, powerful enough to construct these strange games of supposedly random chance which led to deja vu on an interplanetary scale. Still the future was not written and perhaps there was no fate but what we make - all she had seen was a glimpse of a possible future; no more reliable than a glance in the mirrored waters of a lapping puddle, distorting and ever-changing.

Certainly not enough to base the foreign policy of billions upon.

"The appointments of the government of the Dominion are not our concern," Kristilanna replied evenly, shifting her attention to a previous point. "Our initial findings suggest something happened to the ship between the conclusion of No. 1410's examination, and the ship leaving the dock. You have not found anything out of the ordinary in your own searches? I assume this is still an on-going process?"

"As for the future which I saw, personally," She added carefully and very deliberately. "We are agreed ... We should hope very much that not even the smallest fragment of its greater whole survives to pass."

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Dread Lady Nathicana
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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Sat Jan 23, 2010 9:30 pm

“Thank you,” Naiya said simply at Kristilanna’s lack of objections over her current position. “And yes, the process continues. Here is a rundown of the checks run so far. You’ll find there are no power fluctuations, nor any unauthorized personnel in any of the pertinent areas that we can determine, though you are free to review the lists yourselves.”

The young woman passed over a datapad containing the files they were discussing, pointing out a few specifics.

“Traffic to and from the station was significant, but I’m told that’s fairly standard on any given day. Those ships flagged by intel are being more closely examined. If you’re to be our point of contact, any information we come across will be given to you first to streamline the process. If there are other arrangements you prefer us to make, just let us know.”

She tried not to let her curiosity get the better of her, but the fact she didn’t know the entire story nagged at her. And here was not only someone who knew, but someone who had seen what had been described to her as a ‘might have been if things had gone wrong, but the way things were now could never be’. It had been clear that her mother had been hiding things, and there were a number of reasons why she would want to do that which didn’t have anything to do with malice or a lack of trust.

When pressed, Nathicana had shaken her head, hugged Naiya tightly, and told her that so long as they always remembered who they were, and what they were all working for, all would be well. Learning from the past was well and good, but fearing the future could very well damn one into making the very mistakes they hoped to avoid – or at least, so the theory went. It never worked out well in stories, in any case.

“It … must have been horrible for there to be so much concern. So yes, let us hope,” she finished quietly.

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Kaenei
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Postby Kaenei » Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:22 pm

Taking a moment to glance at the pad, Kristilanna nodded and placed it amongst the others she'd collected. "My office can be reached through the usual means, whenever required. In the near future I will be relocating to the Federal Representation in Devras but for now, Machiavelli will suffice. If there are no more questions ... "

Levering herself up - becoming ever more difficult with the bump of her stomach growing larger and larger - she dipped her head. "Enjoy the rest of your day."

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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:20 pm

Naiya rose as well, moving to assist if the other woman needed it, then walking her to the door.

“I just wish there were something more to be done,” she said. “I’m certain there are offices that could be made available to you on board that your people could make use of. Or security arrangements made if you feel the need, as it seems the rest of your delegation has departed.”

She paused, taking the earpiece off and cupping it in her hands, and fixing Kristilanna with an intently searching look.

“Now isn’t the time, but at some point if you’re willing, I would like to hear from you what went on out there,” she said quietly, her lips barely moving. “Please.”

The young woman slipped the earpiece back on as if nothing had happened, offering the Kaeneian woman a respectful bow of her head.

“Thank you again for taking the time to update us on the situation. We, and our staff, are here to assist – just let us know.”

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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:29 am

Vettori had made his way through the station to one of the restaurants he’d come across while examining what was on board while confined to his room. One that was definitely not, to his knowledge, owned or run by any Dominion interests, nor in fact, Treznor. In fact it was a simple bar with a reputation for great beer and decent grub.

As he sat nursing his drink and munching absently on the artery-clogging cheesesteak sandwich with a side of bacon-infused onion rings he’d ordered, the main thing on his mind was what he was going to do about the rapidly deteriorating situation he was wrapped up in.

Fact, Vitras was unstable. And unstable people were capable of anything. And he had not only the position, the power, the influence to get things done and get away with it, he was for now, unreachable. Especially with what was going on now.

Kristilanna was doing exactly the opposite of what he’d been told to get her to do. And there seemed no way of convincing her otherwise.

She also had a very close relationship with the current leadership, who outranked Vitras, and who was apparently asking her to take up the diplomatic position to begin with. She might know the danger her … admit it, one-time lover was in, but she likely didn’t. Whether or not she had the capability to actually protect Kristilanna was a complete unknown.

Everything he and others had previously thought about the Kaeneians had pretty much been blown out of the water, so guessing how any of them might react was another unknown – though he figured thinking like a Dominioner was more likely to get him closer to answers than not.

He wasn’t supposed to tell her what was going on. He couldn’t tell her while in either of their rooms, or indeed, many places on the station, without one side or the other hearing exactly what they were discussing. There was no way they could be monitored at all times in a place like this – so long as they themselves hadn’t been somehow tampered with.

That gave him pause.

Vettori desperately wished he knew who he could trust, who he could go to for help, what the right choices were to make. Kristilanna had turned his whole life on its head, and he wasn’t even entirely sure what to think of that, or her. Things were moving too fast, and he felt like he was the only one scrambling to keep up.

Vitras was the key problem. And Vitras was the out of his reach. For all he knew, Vitras was responsible for the Scoperta blowing up – he’d had all the access he wanted. Why he’d do that escaped the harried scientist, aside from creating a situation dire enough to necessitate the implementation of additional powers, giving Vitras more power to do as he wanted. And what he wanted, it seemed, was absolute control.

Logically, letting the Kaeneian leadership know made sense, and going through Kristilanna to do it, even more sense – if one discounted Vitras’ promise that she would die, and with her, their unborn child. The question being, was the risk and potential sacrifice worth it? Was it the greater good, or personal vendetta in the end? And what would he gain if what he was motivated by was lost in the process?

The troubled Dominion man waved the bartender over for another beer, taking a big bite of his sandwich and chewing determinedly. Whatever the case, whatever the answers, he knew one thing at least. He was tired of getting jerked around, and he wanted his life back in his hands.

It was time to find some solutions outside what was expected of him.

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Kaenei
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Postby Kaenei » Sun Feb 07, 2010 6:20 pm

The Kaeneians gathered about the table were in varying states of disarray; some sporting dark circles underneath their eyes, where dreams had been suddenly abandoned by the thump of a fist against the bulkhead or the harsh whine of an intercom buzzing. Some tugged at collars tight about their throats for more than a day, without the respite of a shower or a change of clothes. Despite the heavy fatigue which permeated the compact room – dominated only by the elongated metal table and the chairs surrounding – a palpable sense of purpose remained.

The final representatives to enter into the room were four in number and increasing seniority – Marshall of the Fleet Component Canasares, Overseer of the KISS Vitras, the Supreme-Overseer of the OFESA Riordan Likonesse and finally the ultimate authority of the Serene Union, the Governor-General herself. All exchanged nods with their counterparts save Sophia, who almost slumped into her seat without the strength to do anything other than stare ahead.

Canasares remained standing as all around took their seats, his gaze travelling across the senior-most Kaeneians gathered from the length and breadth of the Union and her forces therein. He knew only a few personally, but equally so he knew every one had reached their lofty rank by virtue of decades of experience and proven success. Their credentials were unquestioned – unquestionable.

They would nonetheless be tested.

“You have all read the preliminary reports issued a few hours ago,” He began cautiously, sensing the mood in the room was a heavy load balanced upon the edge of a knife. “Examination of the Timeship has revealed the approximate location where the initial explosion occurred.”

Canasares consulted his own pad, more for effect and a convenient pause in speech given the contents had long been seared into his waking and sleeping mind a dozen times over. He doubted there was a single Kaeneian sat before him who could not repeat every word he based the following upon.

“I am sure I do not need to explain that the most vital system located in that area was solid waste reclamation – obviously unlikely to result in a catastrophic explosion. Examination of the hull from that section shows the force of the detonation forcing the plates inwards, not outwards as we would expect from an internal explosion.”

He hesitated for a moment, feeling the collective will of the room press upon him to utter the words they all knew to be true via insinuation and scientific evidence. “Forensic tests on debris recovered have confirmed the presence of trace alloys and components which do not match any facet of the Timeship's construction. Blast-damaged debris have also revealed an imprint left behind – a change to their molecular structure as a result of the explosion.”

“We therefore have no choice in the face of such evidence, no choice in the truth of such evidence but to conclude we are not dealing with an accident. We are dealing with a deliberate and premeditated attack against us--”

“Who?” Field-General Xastas interrupted. “Enough dancing around the issue at hand. Do you have the party responsible or not?”

Canasares directed his eyes towards Vitras, and nodded. The head of the KISS stabbed a fingertip against his pad, instantly transmitting what he knew to those surrounding. A cacophony of chimes erupted as a half-dozen pads announced a new download. Vitras did not give their owners time to glance down.

“The Skeelzanians,” He revealed, finally.

Sophia roused herself from her silence, directing tired eyes towards the KISS agent, “You are sure?” She asked as if the conversation before had passed her entirely by. “There is no doubt?”

The assembled Field-Generals and Fleet Marshalls followed their Governor-General's gaze – each one holding his tongue for the confirmation which Vitras had assured was already given in his first answer. “No doubt,” He replied evenly. “No mistake.”

“Along with the forensic examination results and metallurgical analysis you will find a curiously-timed copy of a communique sent from the Sternreich regarding the Timeship and their view of its danger … Before the destruction of that same ship.”

“That does not admit liability,” Sophia offered weakly. Vitras did not offer the slightest hope for anything save war, shaking his head slightly. “The fragments of one of their bombs – which for all its subtlety and malice apparently did not detonate completely – are all the liability we could need. This is an act of war.”

Canasares nodded, fixing his eyes on Sophia. “What has happened is not in doubt,” He clarified with a slightly softer tone, “What happens now is. This is not simply an attack against us, but an attempt to physically control our policy through aggressive, physical means. Ignoring it runs the risk of inviting further interference, not to mention the possibility that five thousand lives do not stir us to action when they are lost pointlessly.”

“What would you suggest?” The Governor-General almost sighed.

“The Sternreich is almost forty thousand light years from Sol,” Canasares explained. “They are at the very fringes of space we have personally visited even in the last four hundred years. While they enjoy extensive commercial activities with many major powers in-system, their isolation lends them a great advantage in their dealings here – as their recent sparring with The Kingdom has proven.”

Xastas narrowed his eyes, perhaps sniffing the slightest defeatist tone – real or imagined. “Beyond the fringes of the Fleet?”

Now was not the time for inter-service bickering, and a sharp hand stayed some of the more impulsive Field Marshalls from defending their branch from any perceived insult. “Current strategic considerations for the Fleet do not envision operations that far out towards the Galactic Rim, however, the presence of multiple fuel depots allows the option for an extremely-long rang expeditionary force to be mounted.”

“Extremely long-range,” He reiterated.

Vitras cocked his head to the side, “Precise coordinates for the Skeelzanian homeworlds will not be difficult to obtain if we are willing to make the effort. They are not short of enemies, or at least extremely apathetic “neutral” parties who would not much miss their presence in Sol. Considering their recent ill-will, I believe an approach should be made to the Ctan. I am confident they will be able to provide us with accurate data.”

Canasares nodded, “I propose a two-fold retaliation. A long-range expeditionary force comprising elements of the First, Second and Fifth Fleets will carry out a surprise drop in-system to a major Skeelzanian naval facility as and when we can locate one prior to operation commencement. We will endeavour to inflict as much damage upon their power-projection capabilities as possible, before disengaging for a return to Sol. As soon as confirmation of the success of the expeditionary force is received, elements of the Seventh and Ninth Fleets will begin a blockade of all commercial Skeelzanian activities.”

“Any merchant vessels encountered under the Skeelzanian flag or clearly Skeelzanian in purpose will be taken into custody. If they are in-bound they will be advised of a state of war and ordered to leave the system. If out-bound, their cargoes will be confiscated and returned to nations of origin. We cannot hope for a complete blockade, obviously, given the limitations of space but we can undoubtedly cause significant economic damage.”

Xastas nodded, “Perhaps even draw out naval escorts to give our guns a clearer shot.”

“Indeed,” Canasares agreed, his eyes unwavering from Sophia's. “Subject to your approval.”

Inside her passive, tired features her gut twisted to soundly as to threaten to cut itself in half. A bureaucrat, an accountant, a civil-servant now given the power to order tens of thousands into battle to kill thousands more. An arm for an arm, or a five thousand lives for five thousand. To do nothing was to consign the dead to callous forgetfulness – to declare their pointless sacrifice in the face of a coward's bomb beneath the interests of the Union.

To avenge them, as should be done, was to risk yet more death. The Kaeneians surrounding her had already made their decisions and their eyes betrayed themselves – they had already made up their minds as to her decision. Her choices – to act and kill or to stay silent and betray the office she occupied were instantly stripped to one.

Act and kill.

“Begin the preparations,” She said simply, rising to her feet.

Vitras glanced up, “One further thing,” He hastily added. “I recommend in the interests of the effectiveness of our retaliation, that we do not formally give word to our allies until the first phase of the retaliation is complete. To do otherwise is to invite our enemy to discover what is coming for him.”

Sophia nodded, her tired eyes squeezing shut. She was so very tired.
Last edited by Kaenei on Sun Feb 07, 2010 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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The Ctan
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Ctan » Mon Feb 08, 2010 2:44 pm

Why would one ask the C’tani for information?

The first reason was that there was a good chance that they had it. The C’tani had an unusual approach to mapping the galaxy, while others, like the Triumvirate of Yut, focussed on exploration, the C’tani preferred a stranger form of cartography. Their ships had flown throughout vast regions of the galaxy in recent centuries, depositing miniscule meter wide Cultural Survey probes¹, firing them in missiles some systems to orbit like comets, while others were directly deposited by ships. These were not very sophisticated, containing no true secrets, little more than receivers and repeaters that gathered the most used radio signals, and thermal scans of a system for civilization. With a network now complete, the encapsulating drones were in or around hundreds of billions of stars, each re-broadcasting signals they received to the vast living metal world of Xolotl.

The second reason was that it had been known in a number of sources that the C’tani government would prefer a more developed relationship with the Kaeneian. This was far from secret, it was present in a number of books, and almost anything the C’tani state and people mentioned about the icy isolationists.

The Galaxian Plaza was a public place, in the northern city of Tebat-Neteru-Set, a frozen industrial metropolis where cities rose among mountains, most of them green and silver metallic constructions with few people living in them. It did have a saving grace, for it was one of the few places a Kaeneian would be truly comfortable on Duat, at least outside. And it had the Galaxian Plaza.

This was a vast ice skating rink, built at the crossroads of two main conveyer systems, its ice polished to a perfect black shine that reflected the hologram visible above that showed the entire galaxy; in the daytime it was unremarkable, deliberately so. At night, as now, it shone figuratively as well as literally, the aggregated feeds of so many pieces of information indistinguishable to anything but the most accurate machine. High above the skaters below, Ilene Vashon watched the Kaeneian ‘tourist’ she’d been talking to.

“Of course,” she said, “Tourists are only allowed to access this information system when duly supervised,” that wasn’t quite untrue, but not the truth of the matter either. “if for no other reason than the information on undeveloped cultures held here. Why of course we trust our own, we’re quite naïve I suppose, but it’s not steered us wrong yet. Not on a major matter at any rate,” she pressed her hand to the panel, “the system is quite simple. And access is under the understanding that there are no major abuses,” now that was the truth of the matter, “Natural language, of course, you merely need to tell it to display what you want and it will do it. If you want to record, you simply put removable media on the panel here. Not exactly the most reliable way to do it, but flashy.

“Ah, vacta,” she said in almost-convincing annoyance, the necrontyr word for the Enemy Dimension, also served as a expletive (what could be more execrable?) even in English speech, “I appear to have left the memory unit I’d planned to use in that restaurant,” she said, glancing at him apologetically, “I’ll be right back…”

It was a weak excuse for deniability, of course, but it wouldn’t do to simply give them information from a flagship project, if it came to light. The system had been told to record and give accurate displays of nothing but Skeelzanian assets, of course.


OOC: ¹ For anyone wondering, this was a project I had going on in about a dozen threads from 05-08.
Last edited by The Ctan on Mon Feb 08, 2010 2:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"The Necrons were amongst the first beings to come into existance, and have sworn that they will rule over the living." - Still surprisingly accurate!
"Be you anywhere from Progress Level 5 or 6 and barely space-competent, all the way up to the current record of PL-20 for beings like the C’Tan..." Lord General Superior Rai’a Sirisi, Xenohumanity
"Many races and faiths have considered themselves to be a threat to the Necrons, but their worlds and their cultures are now little more than interesting archaeology."

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Kaenei
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Postby Kaenei » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:49 am

"Multiple contacts!" The Officer of the Watch cried as he tore his eyes away from the console screen long enough to find the eyes of the ship's Commanding Officer. Commandant Staezin craned his own neck back, tilting his chin up to consult the screens constantly scrolling with information gathered by the starship's sensors. "Three dimensions!" He barked, loudly. A circular generating pad flickered to life below the screens, standing a few feet high from the deck as it generated a virtual model of the Conflict Carrier and the fuelling depot it stood moored to. The ominous red "ENEMY CONTACT" was translated from a red marker on-screen to a banking, twisting interceptor which bore down on the capital ship with surprising speed.

"Emergency breakaway!" The CO ordered tersely, resting his weight against the rim of the generating plate as a dozen officers' voices struggled to be heard above each other. Moments passed as the enemy contact came ever closer, warbling sirens announcing power spikes from the approaching vessel which could only be weapons charging for firing. Still the enormous Kaeneian starship made no obvious moves away from its mooring. Staezin curled his fingertips around the edge of the tactical display as the ship's CCC shuddered violently; pitching more than one young officer to his knees or over his console, clutching a twisting gut. The ship shook again, the virtual simulation twisting and bucking at the end of the mooring collar, until the lines making up the computer model of the fuelling boom dissolved in a mess of broken pixels.

The CCC's lighting flickered, plunging the command centre into strobe-like darkness as the enemy contact unleashed its weapons at point-blank range. Gritting his teeth, the Commandant pushed himself away from the generating plate and found the Officer of the Watch struggling to control the chaos unfolding; "Cancel the simulation," He hissed. The Lieutenant-Major nodded, a thin sheen of sweat tickling his forehead as his voice was amplified electronically and boosted across the entire length and breadth of the carrier.

Tapping a finger against a situational report instantly generated and displayed by the starship's Electronic Intelligence, the Commandant could not have been more displeased if the attack had turned out to be very real. "Destruction of the fuelling boom and buckling of the surrounding hull sections," He read out aloud - very aloud - to the CCC. "The term "Emergency Breakaway" is not to be taken literally; I wanted this ship clear of her moorings without taking half the station with it.

"I'd order a re-set to try again," Staezin sighed, turning his attention to the ship's helmsman. "But there's no fuelling boom to dock with. As you all were ..."

"You!" The Commandant grunted with a single outstretched finger pointed towards the Lieutenant manning the carrier's controls. "With me."







"What are you asking from me?" Canasares bluntly asked, deep in the complexities of preparing for a multi-starship strike over forty thousand light years away from their operating bases. The Marshall of the Fleet Component did not bother glancing up at the Flag Officer opposite, eyes still scanning the dozens of reports being filed almost hourly concerning readiness and combat drill results. The interrupting Fleet Marshall resisted the urge to sigh, dispensing with the drawn-out, initial plan to skirt the issue. "This operation is in danger of failure before it has even begun."

That got Canasares' attention. The Commanding Officer, Fleet Component jerked his head upwards, eyes narrowed. "There are serious issues developing with combat-refuelling amongst our capital ships; specifically the Conflict Carriers. Slow reaction times, leaking seals, faulty pumps - one fuel depot is already out of action after a Carrier destroyed its only operational fuel boom by trying to depart with the clamps still attached. There's not an officer in the entire Fleet Component still on active duty who has any experience beyond the mandatory refuelling drills in basic starship combat operations, commanding."

"They'll get it right," Canasares shrugged, not insensitive to the problem but perhaps desensitised to the vast number of senior officers who had passed into his office complaining about virtually every facet of the service. Somehow the entire Fleet Component, if these officers were to be understood correctly, had forgotten how to discharge their duty in protecting and striking out against the enemies of the Serene Union. Suddenly every training method was inadequate; every contingency ineffective and every carefully designed regulation outdated. They had all been sent out of the office with exactly what was at stake should they fail in their duty still ringing in their ears.

The Fleet Marshall opposite seemed to be keen on joining their ranks. "Refuelling is critical to the success of this mission; if we cannot get it right, we cannot proceed--"

"Operation Challenger will begin in exactly one week," Cansares interrupted icily. "If there is a genuine risk to the Operation's success, it is as much your duty as mine to prevent or correct it. I expect you to impress on every Commandant in the Fleet Component that refuelling operations should be carried out in full accordance with regulations and current simulation perimeters. With the greatest of due respect ... This is not rocket science. If they cannot break dock in a hurry without destroying the station they're moored to, they have no business commanding a starship and we have no business commanding them or anyone else."

"Dismissed," The Marshall of the Fleet added, underlining the time for debate or questioning had passed.

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Dread Lady Nathicana
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Father Knows Best State

The Imperatrice has left the building

Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Tue Apr 06, 2010 12:10 pm

It had been an ‘interesting’ visit to the station. No doubt about that. Interesting, if one took assassination attempts, a couple random murders, stressful international relations, and a terrorist attack as ‘interesting’. But clearly, as enjoyable as the past while had turned out to be – surprising, that – it was past time to be gone. Machiavelli was as safe a station as one could make under the current circumstances, but Nathicana did not believe in pressing one’s luck.

And so, arrangements were made, her shuttle prepared, and a party of three were helped along the way to the bay where the craft was waiting.

Oh, there would be talk. There always was. But if there were one thing she did not want right now it was to compromise her own daughter’s standing in things. After all, it wasn’t so far-fetched to be spending time with the father of her daughter. If one ignored the fact that for the past eighteen years or so he’d been considered dead. Fortunately, legitimacy didn't hinge on such things as they were laid out by law, but having a father who was visibly accepted by her mother would likely smooth several things out. And of course, complicate others. Alas.

Whoever said ‘may you live in interesting times’ ought to have been dragged through the streets by horses, then flogged, and set on fire, the Imperatrice thought as they walked along.

Naiya seemed a bit less confrontational now that Alkanphel was more available, and had been able to spend some time. More even that he’d accepted the invitation to accompany them back to Devras. She supposed that would be a good thing. Her daughter had been altogether too distant ever since they’d all first met in the chaos that followed the attack. Now all she had to do was juggle this on top of everything else, and all would be well.

Of course it would. She could do this. She’d managed before. To a point, at least. Any further discussions on things would be handled one at a time. Besides, in all honesty, the timing couldn’t be better. Devon was in his own empire overseeing the preparation of Marcus to take the throne. He wouldn’t have much time for visits, and his focus would be there. For the most part. Oh, undoubtedly there would be words – there always were when it came to Naiya and Devon, never mind Alkanphel now being back in the mix. But she’d made up her mind on the matter. For now. So long as things proceeded as they should.

Nathicana had deliberately avoided the topic of Naiya going anywhere with Alkanphel, and thus far, he hadn’t pressed, though it had been mentioned by both. That was definitely not something she wanted to deal with right now. She wasn’t sure about safety, intent, and she certainly didn’t want her daughter going to that place if she could avoid it. Her own memories of Arda were not pleasant. In fact, most times she did everything she could to simply block them out. But there were times when her defenses weren’t as strong as she’d like, when her dreams brought back images best forgotten. She no longer woke up screaming as she once had, but that didn’t lessen the sense of terror that came with them on occasion.

Some things one might patch and mend, but could never fully repair.

She looked across at Alkanphel and Naiya as they sat down and made themselves comfortable, with her daughter describing her favorite horse to her father. She would keep her word, yes. And he had better keep his. She would trust so far as it was not blindly stupid to do so. And if at any point he proved false, she would end him, one way or another. Anything for her children, she had long ago decided. No matter what happened with anyone or anything else, they were what mattered. And she would do anything it took to see them through safely.

Once the shuttle had safely left the dock and they were on their way, Nathi got to her feet, and made her way to where there were drinks stocked in a cooler.

“Anyone else want anything while I’m up?” she called over her shoulder, leaving those darker thoughts behind, and putting on a pleasant smile.

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Dread Lady Nathicana
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Father Knows Best State

Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Thu Apr 08, 2010 12:13 am

In other areas of the station, other concerns were being addressed.

For their part, security was maintaining the increased watch it had initiated days earlier. The machinations set in place by further communication and diplomatic efforts continued apace, as did efforts to assure the station in general that all was well, and such accidents were unlikely to happen again, let alone close to the station itself.

If the Dominion was good at anything, it was at misdirection and distraction. And on a large station like Machiavelli distraction was the name of the game. Subtly, venues were sweetened with free offers that in the end, would pay for themselves in increased revenue, little extras were included ‘for a limited time’, businesses were given a slight discount on their advertising in an effort to further draw attention away from the unfortunate incident, even as publically, the government continued to voice its support, and sympathy for their Kaeneian allies.

All in all, business as usual, save for the circumstances surrounding it.

Of course in the midst of this, certain people were more busy than others. And some who had concerns that went beyond the current happenings, though involved they might be.

One such was former Minister of Science, now title-less citizen and future father, Lorenzo Vettori. Who still couldn’t believe his life could change so dramatically, nor control of it get to far away from him in so relatively short a time.

The fact that he had not been forced onto a shuttle already was no comfort to him, nor was the fact that he couldn’t pick out exactly who was keeping an eye on him while still aboard the station. Apparently, they were content to see what he was going to do. Quite likely, both sides of this were keeping tabs for their own particular reasons. The ones that concerned him more immediately were the Kaeneians. He couldn’t afford to appear to break any of the rules that bastard Vitras had laid out.

At least, not yet. He wasn’t ready.

What he had decided, against what many might say was his better judgment, was to stick with Kristilanna. The situation had changed, dramatically, but that was what he had given everything up for, and by damn, he was going to make the sacrifice worth the cost if it was the last thing he did. Which at this rate, it very well might be. Amazing how a good sandwich and a cold beer or two could help put things into perspective.

Vettori made his way brusquely through the crowds milling around the corridors, oblivious to the weight that rested on his shoulders. Whether things worked out as he’d once hoped, he wasn’t sure any more. He was still angry, and hurt that she wouldn’t listen to reason, granted. But there was no way he could help if he turned his back on her entirely. And truth, he wasn’t sure he could live with himself if he did do just that.

Eventually, he found himself outside her door, hands clenching and unclenching before he managed to rap on it quite firmly.

First step, find out exactly what it is I’m going to have to work with. And that starts here.

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