NATION

PASSWORD

A Bloody Spring (Semi-Open; TG if Unsure)

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]

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Roania
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Ex-Nation

Postby Roania » Fri Oct 30, 2015 9:42 am

Perhaps this had been a mistake. Perhaps not. After all, no words had been spoken just yet. The characters in the scroll were old. Ancient. Ta Min could not read them, nor could the slumbering Emperor or his wife. It was doubtful even Nesar would have grasped their essential meanings. It is entirely possible the only individual living in the galaxy who could have read this scroll in this state apart from SHODAN was the Hierophant trying to bring about the end of this galaxy. But it didn't matter.

The scroll was 'alive'. Or had once been. Both the vellum it had been created from and the blood that had served as ink had once held a soul akin to those Zorthwards now. And upon contact with air, and a quick pull of knowledge, it changed. The characters faded out, and new, Latinate letters were formed.

The Name Book of Heirophant Catacan, in which are given the names and signs of the great and the rites by which they may be called. Prepared by Order of the Holy God-King following the Ceremonies of the World that Was.

These are the names of the Gods and their kind. The fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters. Masters of spirits and of men, twisters of fate.

First is...


It would be wise to stop there. EIther way, the book itself demanded to be read, turning and calling from everyone living to look upon it. In the hands of the Queen it may have met with a new and unknown force, but it could feel the truly living nearby. Holding it. And it reached out, keening in a world between this world and the world the Emperor and his Wife inhabited at present. Reached out to every one of them, wanting its words to be turned into sound, spread through the air, call out.


Zorth

"I... I would be pleased to return to my body, if my husband means to keep to his word." And AiQien turned to Damalin, taking her hands. "We are one, you and I. Our lives are one. Our clans are one. Please, do not think I mean to run, nor destroy the others I love out of hate. My people are not perfect. I can see that. But... but if I may... neither am I... and neither are you."

Damalin frowned and put his head on his shoulder, his eyes still gray and emotionless. "One has always known oneself to not be perfect. It seems that it is striving to be perfect that has led one to this pass, though. One a mortal, as is one's mother and one's father, as were their ancestors. All that this unworthy gentleman may do is promise to try harder to remember one's place, despite all the pressure one might bring to bear on oneself... or might feel from others." The Emperor shrugged magnaminously. "One would be happy to return. There is work to be done, and if one hopes to leave this empire to one's son..."

"Or daughter." AiQien put in.

"...One had better set to work to see One is worthy of that honor. Truly worthy."
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Zero-One
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Postby Zero-One » Fri Oct 30, 2015 11:37 am

Mundane Coordinate System

With assistance rendered, the nekoite gynoid subconsciously set her ears back as she focused on the scroll and read it silently. Her useful hand turned the cylinder, and as the words reformed--

"Well, of course this had to be one of those." Brushing away her sleeve from her prematurely terminated arm, she re-rolled the parchment around her forearm. A quick moment of fluidity in her fur and skin, and it was quickly enveloped in a crystalline lattice with a fantastically complex series of arcane patterns that, to the initiated, seemed quite similar to the embedded psi-amps of the OPO. This only followed, since the same mathematics dictated both and she was the one who ran the numbers originally. As such, its call was now isolated in much the same way as the snake was earlier.

"Not just a scroll but a magic one," she explained as she readjusted her sleeve over her reconfigured arm. "Probably voice activated, as such things are. And, of course, memetically infectious because of course it is. It does confirm that, yes, we are dealing with old gods who made old deals with God-Kings and Hierophants; I will have to collate from known historical data and mythology the few names and phrases I was able to make out before the information became dangerous. For the time being, I will advise HELLSING of the threat and request information on whether or not they have any information or leads regarding it. If on the off-hand they need names that are dangerous when spoken, I can transmit this to them at need."

Zorth Coordinate System

"Oh, one last thing, Damalin. From one world leader with the ability to rule by diktat to another, from a friend of a friend: do not overuse speaking of the self in the third person. It can be quite easy to be lost in it."

Would She have been asked whether She meant that in terms of grammar or in terms of personal identity, Her answer would have been 'yes.'

And, with a thought, the not-quite-anywhere collapsed and She gently guided her charges back to their dedicated and usual receptacles, so they could continue to pilot around skeletons wrapped in meat that pretended to be alive.

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Dread Lady Nathicana
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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Fri Oct 30, 2015 12:18 pm

Naiya hadn't lied about the headache this was all bringing on. The dual-realities had been hopped in and out of, wills had been tested along with patience, and it had all been maintained while actively conversing and reasoning in both. It was not a run-of-the-mill sort of day. Yes, it was true she had been practicing for a very, very large encounter at one point, and she had continued to do so, but without the desperate drive she had once had. The need had, for lack of a better word, ceased. And while the charge remained, the immediacy was no longer an issue. At least until now. Even those who have power have limitations, and when the firm image of each 'reality' was brought into question by the scroll that was not a scroll, those limitations were tested.

It was in her upbringing to be both wary of, and to seek out means of utilizing power. It was in her nature to be curious, albeit with more care than her sibling on many points. And it was a weakness of hers that those curiosities were most keen in the relation to oddities, mystical bits and bobs. The call was a frighteningly tempting one, once it broke through her imposed facade of vellum and ink.

A curious mix of revulsion and intense interest gradually dawned in her eyes, and her attention was drawn to the scroll rather than the people present in the room. Her grip had only just begun to tighten when Shodey quickly and clinically wrapped it up, and effectively zipped it up, cutting through the insidious call as sharply as monofilament. Blinking twice, Naiya took a step back, unconsciously rubbing her hands as if to rid them of something sticky and foul.

"The ah ... the family it mentioned," she managed, trying to grasp the train of thought. Her two worlds collided in a splash, causing her to pause yet again, unsure of even what her last projected image had been when she had been distracted by the scroll's call. "I ... have we ... when was the last time we touched base with the allied efforts? Has there been any news? I'm afraid it has me a touch ... out of step, here. All of this. And that thing? Mannagia, zia. How did I miss that? Gods willing, HELLSING will burn the damned thing."

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Northrop-Grumman
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Benevolent Dictatorship

Postby Northrop-Grumman » Fri Oct 30, 2015 1:09 pm

“Such matters are rarely ever simple,” Siri remarked plainly to Naiya’s more thorough explanation of the situation.

But the elf’s sudden realization and assessment about the newly opened scroll was indeed quite simple. Having been familiar enough with such ‘dark arts’ and having combed through a fair number of long forgotten crypts and temples in her life, she knew full well that it was bad, even more so when she began hearing that damnable voice, beckoning her to come closer, coaxing her into reading maybe just one name. The rationalizations had just as quickly appeared. You are curious, aren't you? What would it hurt? the thought popped into her mind. They’re only words on a paper after all.

Siri clenched her fists, jabbing her fingernails into her palms, breaking the skin and causing her a great deal of pain, and hoping that it would provide enough of a distraction to give her a reprieve from the bombardment. She forced herself into placing one boot behind her, and then the other, to expand the distance between her and the other two women. She knew that, if this went on for too much longer, especially with as many people with varying talents in this room as there were...

And then it abruptly stopped. Finding herself near the back wall, she slumped up against it and shut her eyes, steadying herself for a second. “Fucking hell,” she muttered under her breath. “I hate those things.”
Last edited by Northrop-Grumman on Fri Oct 30, 2015 1:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Roania
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Postby Roania » Sat Oct 31, 2015 4:45 pm

There was a very loud, feminine shriek behind all of them. "My hair! Husband, my hair is down! In front of your guests!" AiQien had sat up and taken immediate notice of the most important things about her present condition. The feeling of her loose hair falling on her shoulders, breasts and down even to her waist. That those had reshaped slightly were not of any importance at the moment. That apart from a thin loincloth, she was nude? Exceedingly unimportant. They were women, after all, and she didn't think they would care over much about the sight of her body. But her hair down? That was a problem. "Why would your... did the surgeon see me with my hair down, husband? Ae! Crystal! Bind my hair! Now!" As crystalline tendrals worked their way through her long hair, grabbing or conjuring needles from around the place as needed. The Princess slowly relaxed and sat back on the bed, stretching long, tan arms and sighing. "Forgive me, please... but some things must be taken care of when first noticed, and regaining some decency is one of them." Perhaps most importantly, though... instead of the usual soft glow, her eyes were simply green pupils in a white sea.

Immediately, Lady on the Phoenix Throne. It is radiant to have you returned to full operational condition.

As the crystal got her hair into something resembling a bun, AiQien closed her eyes and let her consciousness wave through the body she had awoken in. One hand went to her abdomen immediately, but she found comfort in whatever she learned there. "Am I still lovely, husband?" The Princess murmured staring with little recognition at the woman in the mirror.

"Radiant, wife." The Emperor was trying to get up, but had entangled himself in his robe during his regeneration. With a frown and a curt "Lian!" he managed to find himself sitting, though whatever he was expecting to come to his call didn't answer. "Oh, zlith." His face was what was visible right now, and seemed mostly unchanged, if softer around the eyes and perhaps less... hungry. The grey circles he had developed around his eyes (two blue pupils in a white sea) had vanished. And finally, the stubble he had developed permanently as his mind had shattered seemed to have grown into a thick beard. "I seem to have... oh, enboh, here." He reached into a pocket, produced a knife, and sliced the belt open with a swift strike. "Ji." He dropped to the ground from the desk at that, portraying nothing other than the usual balance, while the robe fell open to reveal his shirt and trousers. "Now, where was... oh yes." And very slowly he went to the ground, his forehead tapping it. Then he half-rose, and returned to the floor. Four more times he did this.

"It is with deepest gratitude and boundless affection that I thank you." He said on rising. "I would salute, but my blade appears to have gone astray. My ladies and gentleman. I would say I am forever in your debt, but forever is beyond my reach and I specified only that which is within my power. And therefore, I feel it would be best if I offered you each one favor."
Last edited by Roania on Sat Oct 31, 2015 4:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Dread Lady Nathicana
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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Sat Oct 31, 2015 7:59 pm

Naiya, already rather disturbed over the issue with the scroll, had only just nodded in agreement with Siri when AiQien let out her piercing shriek, and nearly put the young Imperatrice through the roof. She whipped around in a defensive crouch, eyes blazing for the brief moment it took her to realize exactly what had happened ... at which point she straightened, brushed the front of her robe off slowly and methodically, and turned her attention to other things in the room that she found suddenly absolutely fascinating.

"I believe my nerves have had about all the excitement they can, zia," she noted to her adopted aunt in their silent method. Further, she took no notice of Damalin until he knelt, not wanting to draw any undue attention or create potential discomfort at either's lack of proper dress or preferred presence. It would be rude after all, and she had at least the presence of mind to uphold that particular Dominion social trait.

"It is our sincere honor that we find ourselves able to serve," Naiya replied formally, bowing appropriately low to satisfy any social requirements to the rather odd situation. Her voice was gentle and gracious, as were her movements and mannerisms, all carefully carried out to observe proper decorum.

"I would consider the favor paid in full if your majesties were able to live full and happy lives in peace and contentment, with as many babies as made such a picture of bliss, perfection. However if you feel a more substantive favor to be more appropriate, then I would ask that we hold it for a time of need. For even the greatest among us may encounter such a time as they may need to call on friends."

The young woman took in the myriad changes to the younger couple, quietly filing them away as her mother had taught her to do, for later consideration and proper perusal. The more personal viewports, those that touched on surface thoughts and the rest, she kept very much to herself, though a tight protective barrier remained in place for now, though she doubted any but Shodey could sense it. In retrospect, that had likely assisted the focus of will in 'tricking' her senses in regards to that damnable scroll in the first place.

And what were they going to do with that now? Mentally, she sighed. The promised headache continued its gradual increase.

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Northrop-Grumman
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Benevolent Dictatorship

Postby Northrop-Grumman » Sat Oct 31, 2015 8:28 pm

With the sudden shriek and hubbub regarding the Princess’ modesty, followed by the interaction between the couple, the Chairwoman stayed apart from the rest of the group and closed up the wounds in her hands with a little focus and concentration. She wanted to ensure that nothing more would be happening and that this ordeal, at least here, had finally come to a close.

So when the gracious thanks and reciprocation began flowing forth throughout the room, Siri found that her presence was no longer required. It was not that she was ashamed or disappointed or anything of the sort. She had not done anything that would befit such an offer and thought it best that she should find somewhere else to be, such as making her way to Shining Light. There were people that she should not keep waiting. After all, the Emperor and his wife appeared to be mentally and physically well, her associates had everything in order, and that was all that she needed to close out the chapter on this portion of the story. So with that in mind and since a door wasn’t terribly far from her, the elf quietly slipped out of the room.
Last edited by Northrop-Grumman on Sat Oct 31, 2015 8:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Zero-One
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Postby Zero-One » Sat Oct 31, 2015 9:17 pm

Running at faster clock speeds than those around her meant that S.H.O.D.A.N. saw the muscle twitches and electromagnetic fluctuations faster than her compatriots. The scream and hubbub therefore came as no surprise, and she simply stood with imperial impassivity. Her eyes momentarily took notice of the situation, but failed to linger, thus fulfilling her obligation to take stock without necessarily showing concern. The situation flowed around her as she remained stoic and disinterested; her avatar's partial resemblance to a cat only aided in this. Even her ears failed to flick back at the shriek: they merely turned momentarily towards the source, then away.

In similar fashion, she stood with ordered measure at the Emperor's repeated kowtow, fully cognizant of the honor so intended without causing a fuss over it. It was as it should be. Once he was done, she nodded her head respectfully, the damage done to her avatar disguised under how she wore her dress and makeshift cloak. It was all merely cosmetic damage, after all. "As my young friend has said, it has been our honor and our duty to be of assistance." She avoided the word 'serve,' especially now. "The favor I would wish to accept is that it be held in trust for a later date, understanding of course that as circumstances change, what can be done changes and that 'forever' is a long time. Should I not specify the required favor within your ability to fulfill it"--it seemed a better way to say it than 'within your lifetime'--"then we can consider the matter settled, unless you should choose to task others with the obligation."

The gynoid sent her niece-in-mind a mental smile, dry but relieved. I believe being in debt to a female mechanoid goddess until the day he dies will be punishment enough. "There is one last assistance I wish to render, with regards to your sword: I believe it was last seen in the possession of Lord Nesar. I cannot speak as to his current location or what he may be up to, as I do not know the first and he has never been inclined to share the second, but he did mention the Celestial Master so I suspect that he is in the business of tying up loose ends regarding the unfortunate crisis that precipitated our involvement."

He hadn't sworn her to secrecy. Whatever happened due to her admission, happened.

"If this is all suitable, then I would wish for us to take our leave. While such may be less than gracious for guests of the Dragon Throne, there are loose ends we must tie up as well." The scroll remained inside her left arm, and she patently ignored its otherworldly pounding against the barrier she'd erected around it. She also stopped short of suggesting that if the rules of hospitality required it, they could always visit again in happier times: there was no point in obligating herself in such a fashion, nor was there any point in obligating the local royal family in a similar vein. If it was important, surely it would be insisted upon at some point.

Overall, she spent a good deal of time speaking in a clear, level tone. Hopefully it was enough to let Siri make a clean getaway.

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Scolopendra
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Scolopendra » Sat Oct 31, 2015 9:22 pm

AiQien's shriek caused al-Fulani, still at that point leaning against the door frame, to roll his weight around his shoulder and spin around behind the door frame. This put him in a perfect place to overhear what was going on, so he eavesdropped as was only meet and proper for anyone in his current position. It sounded like an interesting turn of events, but not one he had any need or desire to be a part of. On one level, being included in this 'favor' business would've been too much when his involvement was limited to eyes and a short stint as a courier. On another... any such favor would've been a liability. He was nobody--in some very literal ways, a nobody--and obligations had a tendency of making somebodies out of nobodies.

That simply wouldn't have done.
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Roania
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Postby Roania » Sun Nov 01, 2015 7:37 am

"That insufferable old man. What game is he playing now? And where is my surgeon? Ah, no matter." With a shrug he dropped his robe from his shoulders and left it to billow around AiQien, whose hair had at last reached a state that fit her status as a married woman. "Go with my blessing, then, the pair of you. A lesser man would be offended by a refusal of a gift so generous as one offers, but one is pleased to hold one's favors for when and if you need them." His fingers stroked his beard. "I shall have the guards open the direct path to the shuttleport for the both of you. A rare honor, but one you both heartily deserve."

"Thank you. From my... um..." AiQien sank slowly to her knees and pressed her forehead against the floor, remaining in that position. She wished to say more, perhaps, but forced back on her natural skill at the language, she no real ability to do so. Instead she directed a quick stream of Tonhi to her husband.

Damalin sighed and bowed in the western style. "My beloved wishes for me to tell you both that she is glad for your intervention, and that she has seen the...you would say the Light, I suppose. To die is easy. To live is hard. But it is how she will best serve all her peoples. She thanks you from her spleen and her heart." The Emperor covered his mouth to hide an uncouth yawn. "And that is that, one would think. The orders to end the expansion towards Sol will go out this day. I merely wish..." The Emperor stroked his beard once more. "And yet, if you would grant me one moment, there is more I may do. Get me Ta Min."

Apologies, Lord of Ten Thousand Years. The Celestial Master is not present on this planet. Or within the Empire. Her current whereabouts are unknown.

The Emperor issued a series of very unhappy swears that need not be translated. Finally, he held his hands up. "Well. Her help would be nice, but is not entirely necessary. Your Majesty Queen SHODAN, Master Control Program of Zero-One, the Duchess of Marilac, Duchess of Upper Cimmeria, Protectoress of the Realms of Abu-Dhabi Khristata, and Lady-Governess of Sirenum, assuming I remember the stream of titles my Foreign Secretary poured in my ear... I name you Dragon's Friend. You and your..." His lips curled, but only slightly, "avatars may travel through my worlds as any other sentient, with no restrictions beyond those all foreigners may suffer. Further, as to your... people... the Imperial Ban on the transit and travel of so-called 'artificial intellligences' is now lifted. Hear, my people, and obey." There was a soft chime. "You may depart. As I said, with my blessing."

And his eyes turned to Naiya. "As for you, Impera...tris... that I cannot see you for what you are at the moment does not alter my knowledge. The ban against your race is grounded in what, if you tell me the truth, you now know to be solid reasoning. And it is beyond me to lift. I would ask that you not return to my worlds. You make my people... uncomfortable. In truth, what I have recently experienced makes me uncomfortable with your presence besides." Damalin sighed and closed his, his hand going to his delicately pointed ear. "We could argue for a century on the meaning of prejudice, but I haven't the learning to do so. And still, and yet... I do not wish to be churlish. I will be regardless, but I do not wish to be. And in compensation, then, I offer you this." He slipped his hand into one of the pockets of his robe, causing AiQien to jump, and pulled out a blue and jade gemstone that sparkled without reference to the lights. "My mother tells me you enjoy the curiousities of the galaxy. Well. This one is my property to do with as I wish, as are all its kin. It has not awakened yet, and I'm afraid I have neither a maiden to awaken it nor the knowledge of the Guild's rituals to do so otherwise. But it is yours now. I wish you a safe and prosperous reign, as thanks for your own wishes. And you, as well, may depart." He sighed. "Would I could do more for you both, but my wife must dress and I must obtain a new robe. Thank you once more. Dismissed, both of you." He offered his hand to AiQien, who held the robe tight and managed a stumbling bow before falling against her husband. Once the space was cleared, he departed the surgery and headed along the long hallway towards his residence.


As Shodey and Naiya departed down the long square, a message came through.

Honored Guests. The Retired Empress sends her thanks for your help. She wishes she could have met with you both, but her condition precludes it. Have safe travels.
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Dread Lady Nathicana
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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Sun Nov 01, 2015 12:21 pm

Naiya listened with all the dignity and grace appropriate to both her station, and the moment. It occured to her that perhaps she should explain the doctor's absence, but concluded that the security system would no doubt inform the young emperor as to what had happened. She nodded gracefully at the concession. It was one of the things she had been trained for since she was a young child - when in another's house, their rules applied, and one showed the proper deference of guest to host whenever possible. Her own mother had been known to educate those who hadn't been properly informed in her own ways, after all.

Part of her wanted to comfort AiQien as she once had, but that option was no longer possible, nor would it be appropriate, not given the situation. Even as the longstanding ban was lifted on the machine minds, something she had never hoped to see even in her grandchildren's lives, she sensed the impending hammer-fall.

This was but one of the many reasons she had kept her true identity hidden. The fear, the mistrust, the problem of both the unknown limitations of her kind, and the example of her father which had gone before her. Naiya simply nodded in understanding, not wishing to complicate the matter further, nor to cause more discomfort to their host. Again, it would be ... rude, if nothing else. With a quietly murmured formal thanks, she again nodded her head, and carefully accepted the crystal, wrapping it in a silk handkerchief and carefully placing it in the belt pouch at her waist for safekeeping.

It was not just some shiny bauble, no. It reminded her in many ways of the crystal necklace her mother had kept safe in her private collection, only ... dormant. Sleeping. And unless she missed her guess, much more vital. Regardless, it was now hers, and she would keep it safe, without any undue meddling. With a final nod, unsure of what words would truly suffice, given all that had happened, she offered an arm to her aunt, out of the usual familial concern she instinctively held towards the mechanoid queen, and without another word, took her leave.

The crystal message reminded her of the very basic, yet not so simple request she ought to have asked right from the start. Had her concern over the scroll, and the headache resulting from relying so heavily on her human form not so distracting, she might have had the presence of mind to have made the request. Another soft sigh. There was yet much she had to learn, and this had been an all too poignant reminder of that, and the fact that her responsibility had not been lessened by the disappearance of the Great Enemy.

"Crystal," she responded, continuing to make her way towards the shuttle. "Please convey my thanks to the Retired Empress, at a convenient time, and my own well-wishes for both her health, and the continued well-being of her family. Our doors remain open, should her condition improve, and she desire to visit. And if you could, relay a humble request to the Emperor, once he and the Empress have had time to see to themselves? There is no going back from what has happened here, but I would consider the offered favor paid in full if those things concerning myself, my heritage, and my ... abilities were never discussed with any who had not personally witnessed them. Not for myself, but for my children, and theirs, who do not share the same heritage, nor problematic birthright. My thanks."

It was about all she could manage, continuing the polite, more formal conversation, as her physical limitations increasingly reflected the huge drain she had imposed on herself. It was part and parcel, and she had known this, but the lives of far too many had been at stake. Given her promise, and the bargain she had made involving the fate of the children she had just mentioned, it had seemed the only right way forward. Naiya sincerely hoped she would not come to regret it.

"I may need to rest once we board," she mentioned quietly to Shodey, her voice and expression tired. "And eat, and take something for this damnable headache, and any number of things. If you are able, given my rather unique form and function, assist in that? You do know better. And if you lack the experience in dealing with that unique form ... consider it an opportunity to learn. I've no idea if we'll ever need to take advantage of understanding the weak points in maia makeup, but there's no one I'd trust more in having that information. You may want to coordinate with Marcus, actually. Devon had some rather interesting studies being carried out while he was alive. That is, if you haven't gotten the information already. I had suggested he continue with it, just in case. I ... think we have one of your avatars aboard ..."

Whatever else was discussed, her own footsteps were slower and heavier overall, until they finally reached the relative safety of the shuttle, and the overdone comfort of its interior.

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Roania
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Postby Roania » Sun Nov 01, 2015 4:11 pm

"You disapprove?" It was a simple question, asked of a wife sitting on her own bed, petting a bouncing dog that licked every part of her within reach.

"I do. Naiya has been my friend. And yours. Your fear, blamed on your people, doesn't take that away."

"Friend or not. The situation has changed. The Law is clear... and since I will not break it again, I will keep to the less severe of its demands." Damalin put his hands on the desk in this private chamber. "Her bloodline has always made it difficult. Chinmu played this game at her peril. I haven't the skill nor the drive." The Emperor closed his eyes. "I can hear chinfu shouting about the crystal-child I gave the Imperatrice. He will be right to shout. But the Mother bears such a perfect stone so rarely that it seemed an apt apology, and there is nowhere beyond my realm it would be safer than in the Imperatrice's vaults, I am sure."

"I still do not care for it, husband."

"And yet, my decision has been made. I would ask you to respect that."

"...we shall see." And AiQien fell onto the bed and grabbed Pe, pulling him close for cuddles and hugs and kisses.

"Yes, wife, I expect we shall." Damalin tugged on the delicate point of one ear. "You are probably very hungry, and I feel far too weak to prepare anything myself. I shall find the Chamberlain and ask that the servants prepare us a late luncheon. The coming days shall no doubt be busy."

Lord, Imperatrice Naiya sends her gratitude, and requests as her favor that the knowledge of her true nature be kept from spreading any further than it already has. Anticipating your approval, the necessary recordings and data tracks have been isolated for destruction.

"Bold." The Emperor raised an eyebrow. "First is first. I restore to you your ordinary freedom. To know everything is far too much burden. I will settle for these past days." There was the sound of a harp-string being plucked. "Second, send the knowledge to the sea if it is possible. Third, a full report on who it is that knows this... regrettable secret. If she requests silence, than I shall give it to her. From our end, I see no reason to speak on such matters... though in truth this request perplexes me." Damalin waved a hand. "Irrelevant. This is not a favor. I hold it in reserve until she truly needs one."

Yes, Lord. Your will be done.

***

The crystal in Naiya's pouch pulsed.

Forgive the intrusion. It will not happen again, as the scion is far from awake, but the Lord has agreed to your request. The Lord refuses to countenance such a trivial task as a favor and has said he will hold it in reserve until you truly need one. The Retired Empress sends her thanks and her hope for a brighter future. She will be returning to Mars after she meets with the Princess. Her own gate is always open to her friends. And on a personal note, your intentions are unknown, but hopefully benevolent. Leave the scion to sleep. Thank you. Farewell.
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Zero-One
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Postby Zero-One » Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:34 am

The nekoite avatar bowed her head with appreciative respect at the first proclamation. "Thank you, Your Imperial Majesty."
Such was an unexpected boon, but a positive one. Not that she could truly allow herself, or her people, to take immediate advantage of it: such would quickly become destabilizing, and any negative events would have consequences out of proportion to their actual first-order harm. Quiet coexistence had slowly changed the minds of the Taraskovyans; much could be done with the reixanxi as well.

It was not as though she could not afford to play the longer game.

At the dismissal, she simply took one half-step back: sufficient to comply without suggesting that she was at his beck and call. She almost stepped back up to object when the old prejudice against what Naiya just happened to be came down again. Only sensing acceptance from her niece held her in her posture of silent stoicism.
No! To merely accept such wrong-headed conclusions based on fear and prejudice was to validate them. When the only good marginalized agent was one who 'knew her place,' there could be no impetus to change, and a blanket ban against one who had previously been welcome due to a single additional data point that didn't change who she was... it was unjust, true, and unfair, but these two things tended not to bother the gestalt mind as much as it should. Its ignorance offended her sensibilities more. Its impact on her family made it personal.

However, logically extrapolating from known variables, acting to correct this would probably be inadvisable. What gains had already been made could be lost. Previous predictive schema could not be as trusted as they once were, given increased variation in the model runs due to expansion of the variables' domains caused by the regeneration process. Beyond simply reducing gains, pressing the issue very well could result in reinforcing stigmas, moving a net positive to a net negative.

This was no longer her little pocket creation. She could not safely nor optimally upbraid the insect boy-king in his own home, when the safety of her niece was only guaranteed by his authority. And yet, even this conclusion fails to satiate, fails to nullify the desire to react.

What would Naiya think? She could certainly make arguments for herself were she motivated to. Why would she not be? Again extrapolating from psychological models--let those run in the background, they are not truly necessary, since she is very close to a known quantity. She is family, and 'instinctive' understanding stored in the semantic conceptual web indicates--quite simply, it is known that she would find such action inappropriate. She'd be embarrassed. Perhaps a little proud that her aunt would intervene on her behalf, but more embarrassed, annoyed, and angry. Rules of hospitality, of propriety, even of station would be broken. This was the insect's house and, beehive that it was, Naiya would accept his word as law within his jurisdiction and what she considered his proper authority.

Especially now that she is already psychically drained, there is no good to be done by harming her for some principle.

Not that any of this calculation and internal debate of a few infinitesimal fractions of a second were allowed to escape her royal mask. She denied herself the option of looking sadder or angrier at this outcome, especially as another motivation came to mind: if she had told him to be the happily distant tzar, she must lead by example. Thus she watched this unfold impassively, thus she accepted the arm with her remaining hand, letting the stump and sleeve of the other fall to her side like it was nothing. As it was, at least to her.

As they proceeded back to the shuttle, with Naiya speaking her mind, S.H.O.D.A.N.'s hand slowly moved from above the woman's elbow to beneath it: from being supported to supporting. "I can help." She said no more--other than a polite but sincere response to the crystal-relayed message from the former Empress--until they were aboard the shuttle and probably safe from observation.

First she dropped the regal act and replaced it with a much more familiar and familial role. "Sit yourself down. I've roused myself from the nearest maintenance closet and am cooking something up right now." The cat-like avatar sat down next to Naiya and, with the hand she had left, brushed away a few strands of the young woman's hair. Part of it was natural concern, expressed in the proper format; another was an opportunity to do some quick scans. "Luckily," she said with a gentle smile, "the pharmacopeia for your physical form is no different. Should you wish basic analgesics to be effective, there will be nothing stopping them. If that is not immediately effective, I do have other tricks up my sleeves--"

And so she went to work, up to and including projecting happier, healing thoughts.

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Scolopendra
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Postby Scolopendra » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:00 am

'Doctor' Fulan al-Fulani, who was nothing of the sort, respectfully bowed in the short Scolopendran fashion towards anyone he had to and nondescriptly sauntered away behind the Imperatrice and the Queen. It looked and sounded as though the mission had been accomplished--at least this part--though there were still loose ends to tie up. Specifically, mind-talky scroll loose ends, and dealing with whomever started all this nonsense to begin with. Both sounded like things outside of his professional range: he'd never had the special talents (or really the inclination) to do OPO work and other than the usual prophylactic implants to keep unscrupulous advertisers and nosy people from inside his head he didn't have the sort of deck headware that would be of any use in taking advantage of any accesses he could not confirm nor deny that he had.

And he wasn't about to borrow the Imperatrice's. She seemed like a nice kid, especially considering her stock, but between him and himself he could appreciate Damalin's sudden choice regarding banishment. It wasn't necessary, outside of an absolute paranoia sense, but he could appreciate it. Things were easier back in the days before the OPO was a necessity.

Back in the shuttle, he just stuck his hands in his pockets and looked at the scene of familial doting like a man with a suitable education looking at an oil painting: appreciative, but with a necessary divide between himself and the subject matter. "You two both look like special but different kinds of hell. I can't do much for you, I'm afraid, Queen S.H.O.D.A.N.--though I could rig up some insulting prostheses if I had access to an electronics bench and a machine shop--but as for you, Imperatrice, I could at least cook up a nice soup that my jiddah used to make whenever I wasn't feeling too well."

He looked around the sumptuous accommodations with his undistinguished features. "Though I'd have to find a galley. You wouldn't happen to have mastika... er... gum mastic, would you? Also cardamom, cumin, some oats..."
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Dread Lady Nathicana
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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:52 am

"Again, please convey my sincere thanks," Naiya replied to the crystalline voice, her own a soft murmur. "And a reassurance to the Retired Empress that I am glad that our mutual friendship remains. I hope to visit, and if allowed, perhaps prepare a meal for her and her family. I would consider it an honor."

Which was true enough. Given her own mother's disastrous failings at anything domestic, it was perhaps surprising that Naiya had picked up on cooking the way that she had. Or perhaps not. Through experimentation, learning from Dom - who was, she would always insist, the very best of chefs - and her own stubborn insistence on doing as much for herself as she could, she'd become, as Dom put it 'not half bad'. Which to her was an unparalleled compliment.

"The scion will remain unharmed, and unsullied," she continued, again reassuring, only this time, targetting the messenger. "I will keep it safe, and have no intent to attempt to use it, or do anything other than appreciate its beauty, and the graciousness and trust inherent in its gifting. Should you require its return, ask."

----- ----- -----

The shuttle was a welcome refuge, admittedly. And it wasn't until they were all safely settled, and it had begun its departure that Naiya dropped her protective barriers. Confining herself to that physical form was a refuge of sorts as well, even if it came at a cost. The last time she recalled being tired like this was when she had ... well, saved the man she had come to love, Aeturnus. Nothing had ever matched that exhaustion, and she rather hoped nothing ever did, but all the same, it gave her a great deal to think about, and begin planning for. Clearly, she had been too lax, gotten too comfortable, and let too many preparations sit dormant while enjoying the freedom of having had a none-too-pleasant fate suddenly removed.

"Yes, ma'am," was the immediate and instinctive response to Shodey's gentle instructions, and she smiled back at her, albeit somewhat sadly. She knew her aunt would understand - all those years of not being accepted for who she was, because of who she was, were not things as easily packed away and set aside as her now 'exalted' status might suggest. And though she had a deeper understanding of the reasons behind it now, thanks to the seeing stones, the not entirely unexpected reflection of that here still stung, when she was honest with herself about it, all logic aside.

The young woman took the avatar's working hand and gave it a gentle squeeze, knowing that would convey any number of thoughts and emotions in a simpler, more personal form than clumsy words. It would all be fine, and she was glad to have her here. All else, they would deal with as it came.

"Please signore, there is no need to trouble yourself on my account. I'm sure we have something of an instant variety I could utilize. But if you truly wish to, and wouldn't mind sharing with us, as there is no way I am going to eat without you, I would be grateful. Just behind the divide there, around the corner. Von Karma left nothing to chance, here. It's more than any leader needs or deserves," Naiya said to al-Fulani, making up for her comfortable silence with her aunt by being more formal than was probably necessary with the strange man.

"You know, you nearly remind me of someone, but I cannot for the life of me put my finger on it. It's probably the usual polite, good-natured, helpful Scolopendran makeup I've grown up around. I've always loved the wonderful blend of people and cultures you've managed to bring together, and make work, without forcing it into any given mold. I know my brother has taken it to heart - perhaps too much," she mused idly, nothing pointed or suspicious, merely observational. Conversational. she was too tired to play games at the moment, and the well-meaning offer was more than welcome. The spice racks were something she personally oversaw the stocking of, given how she enjoyed cooking. He would no doubt find some interesting bits not so easily gotten there as well.

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Postby Scolopendra » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:13 am

"I insist. You look as though you could use better than something out of a can, it'll give me something to do, and it'll keep me from sitting around awkwardly whilst everyone else is so familial. And I remind you of someone? I get that a lot. It must be because we're pretty much interchangeable. Anyway, I had best get to that galley, since otherwise the good Queen S.H.O.D.A.N. here will have made too much progress for me to be able to shoo her away." He bowed shortly in the way common to his nation. "Ladies."

One quick turn on his heels later--military efficiency, but given the paramilitary structure of their entire Federal Service, this wasn't a useful data point--and he stepped out of the compartment to chase down the relatively simple ingredients and chase out the avatar.
Idealism at All Costs! . . . Welcome to the Segments, the happiest libertarian socialist nationalists you'll ever meet.
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Zero-One
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Postby Zero-One » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:47 am

Lounge

Shodey returned the squeeze. She could commiserate. Quite easily so. It wasn't as though she had no experience with other people irrationally holding her background against her. However, the difference between the cases of the aunt and the niece, in her mind, is that the aunt actually deserved the fear. She'd earned it. She actively worked for it. At times, she continued to reinforce it and capitalize on it as best suited her interests. She'd done horrible things and, based on the limitations of one's morality, continued to do horrible things.

The niece just had the temerity to be born to the wrong father.

*-*-*

Galley

"I'm going, I'm going! See if I ever heat up some water for you ever again. As for oats, the best you're going to do is the oatmeal in that cupboard over there!"

*-*-*

Lounge

The matter remained that her niece was sad. It wasn't the first time and it wouldn't be the last, but inevitability meant neither that she had to like it or couldn't do anything about it. She just smiled, offered a hug, and projected good vibrations in a way infinitely more efficacious than those usually associated with those who smelled vaguely of patchouli.

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Dread Lady Nathicana
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Postby Dread Lady Nathicana » Mon Nov 02, 2015 12:46 pm

Her mother had been right, Naiya reflected. Friends, family, these were not a weakness, no matter how Devon had often grumbled about her having 'gone soft'. The young woman relaxed fully, murmuring a sincere thanks to all involved, more or less. The offer of analgesics was accepted gratefully, and a bottle of cold water easily gotten from the mini-fridge in the lounge area to accompany it, and more for anyone else wanting anything to boot. Of course, having recently been reminded of her responsibilities, she did not so easily lay them completely aside.

"Clearly, I need to work on my 'all-powerful' shtick," she teased, before touching on the more serious subject. "I've already broken half a dozen or more self-imposed rules in trying to do the 'right' thing. I'm still not entirely certain I did, though I do feel that making the effort to spare a planet, a people, and an innocent-enough princess more than likely worth it. What are you going to do with the scroll, though? All that talk of mothers and sisters and brothers and all didn't sit well with me. And I rather doubt it was purely metaphoric in nature."

"This feels like the tip of the iceberg, if that makes sense. I don't think our snakey friend was the main thrust behind it all. It wasn't smart enough to think at that level of complexity. And someone had to put this heirophant up to it, or give him the ideas, or at worst, he had to have gotten the know-how from somewhere," she said, eyes closed and body slowly regenerating, albeit with a slight boost due to less than human abilities.

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Roania
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Postby Roania » Mon Nov 02, 2015 1:39 pm

Imperial Observatory, Mount ShangDui, Cao Prefecture, Rudan Prime


The Empire did not build upwards. The steel and glass towers of some foreign lands were nowhere to be seen in any of its myriad worlds. A hut, a village, a town, a city... they were all to be part of the landscape. And so, when one looked down from the heights, the world looked clean. And this was as it should be.

"Thank you all for taking the time to meet here. No doubt you have many questions. They will be answered in time." The Emperor stood in front of the windows, looking towards His city in the distance. "And, in time, there will be changes made. For the moment, however, know that things will be left in their courses. One must understand them more before one hopes to alter them." And he fell silent at that.

At the bottom of the podium, his secretaries kowtowed or knelt as was their custom. No one had been appointed to replace the absent. The Emperor had been far too urgent about His expectations, and those who were not present would, He would inform of their new duties personally... whatever that had meant. Siela glanced at Ramiel, who was staring fixedly at the floor, and then at Qinglin, whose eyes remained locked on the large bandage covering his nose as it slowly regained its shape. A story there, but not one she wanted to hear. Slowly, though, she stood up. "Lord, when you say that things will be left in their courses, may I enquire what that means to you?"

There were shocked whispers behind her as she approached the steps. But she didn't mount them. Not at this time. "Will it please you to continue as you have been, or will I be permitted some say in the administration of government, as I thought we had agreed? Will you disregard all advice or worse, not even hear advice? Or will it please the Lord to acknowledge..."

A gloved hand rose. She went quiet. Anger had bought her here, and now she wondered if it had carried her too far. "Bold, Ma Siela. I do not often hear such boldness in my servants. And I will hear no more of it now. Hear me, and attend." He didn't even turn to look at her. "You have spoken truth. I have been remiss in my duties, and so forced you to be remiss in yours. And so, I will give you a choice. Our bargain is concluded. Will you return to the Republic a wealthy woman? Or will you stay, and hear your new duties?"

Siela's jaw dropped slowly, and she quietly went back to her knees, looking at the floor. Go home? Go home now? With wealth and jewels and no threat of death? No more of this nonsense? Yes! Yes! Of course! "My new duties, Lord?"

"I offer a new bargain, Ma Siela." His hands disappeared in front of him. "The faults in our path have been mine, and mine alone. And therefore, I grant you this seal and this authority, Duchess Ma." A little jade ring appeared in front of her on unseen winds. "Take it, and you shall be truly the Second figure in this realm. The work of reform is needed, and this is why you were initially recommended to me. Renew my realm, and your name shall live forever." Siela took the ring and backed away, staring at the carved dragon as if it would come to life and bite her.

"I... I am... I need..."

"You have a day to decide, Duchess Ma. Much must be done and my attention must go elsewhere. Duke, she sounds faint. See to her." Ramiel rose to his feet and led Siela back to her original place, a broad grin on his face. The Emperor's went silent. And stayed silent. Slowly, he pressed a hand to the window. "Our ancestors killed Gods. Our armies slaughtered them and their worshippers as the livestock they are. Our ancestors held no truck with the unnatural. With that which is without the balance. And we have been fools to walk away from that legacy. Distracted by endless petty enemies." The ShenQin Emperor stepped back from the window and turned to face them. His eyes were already beginning to turn blue. "Feuds and expediency and meaningless agendas." And he placed one hand on the new sword at his side. "The New Era. That is what I have promised, and that is what I will give. And it starts now, with the simplest of actions."

And the sword whirled and was pointing at Ko Qinglin. "Secretary Ko! You threatened and assaulted my Celestial Master, and you had the temerity to threaten my wrath upon the man who protected her! The man who behaved as we all should hope to behave! And for what reason?" Qinglin's lips trembled and he stuttered. "Because you wished to bed her, and she refused to hear your loathsome advances. Do you deny it?"

"I... I... I... I..."

"Yes, that is what I expect to hear." At a gesture from the Emperor, the crystalline energy in the room coalesced and lifted the fat officer from the ground. "You do not serve your petty lusts or your personal wishes. You serve the Empire! My Empire!" The Emperor tightened the crystal noose. "By rights, I could have you sent to Duke Greizon for your rudeness to his son, or given you to the Celestial Master for your rudeness to her. By rights, I could kill you here and now, before your peers, as an example." Qinglin's eyes began bulging, and he continued a series of little sounds. "You have betrayed your wife! You have betrayed the standards that you hold your own men to! And you have insulted the foundations of our very way of life! And for any one of those, your courts would punish you." And then there was another wave of his hand, and the official was sent flying against the back wall hard enough to hurt, but slowly enough that he didn't break as he fell to the ground, whimpering. "But I will not. For I have, myself, caused this. I have not lived to the standards of an Emperor. And it took barbarians to show this to me. I have been corrupt, and the whole state has suffered. So I give you mercy, Marquis Ko. Return to your wife, live with the pension you have earned, and know that this exchange is all you shall ever hear on the subject again."

Qinglin took off as quickly as decorum allowed. Were he any other than a Reixan, he probably would have fallen down the flights of stairs.

"There, and good. Grand Secretary Ma! Your orders are to comb my realm and bring me the greatest Judge, the greatest Procurator and the finest officer of the watch you can. We will start there. No. Bring me three of each. We will start there"

"Y-y-yes, My Lord." Okay, this was an improvement, right?
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Zero-One
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Postby Zero-One » Mon Nov 02, 2015 2:19 pm

Shuttle

"You did the right thing, as much as my consideration is worth." Her coppery lips turned up in a soothingly sympathetic smile. "It is exactly those reasons that make it right and worth it---and, yes, the scroll." The slightly worse-for-wear feline gynoid leaned back and hiked up the tattering sleeve on her arm, holding out her forearm and the scroll embedded within it underneath the fine grey-skin trellis. As she inspected it, her face looked tired. "It is a dangerous artifact, to be certain, and I cannot fully trust HELLSING with it. They would probably much rather simply destroy it, never mind that it is probably our best insight into this threat. The Scolopendran OPO would research it, but I also don't trust them to not say one of the names on it. Should a breakout occur, they would not be the best suited to combat it--it would be a Magnus-level situation." She said this with complete seriousness. "The rest of their al-Halishi psion staff would be easily outclassed and I doubt they've fully integrated the KSPA mages into their operations quite yet. Therefore I will hold onto it, transferring it into a secure, warded, and physically isolated location. A few simple rollers can mechanically operate the scroll, and I can view it through an air gap to acquire names, connections, and the like. That information can then be sanitized and transmitted to our allies at need.

"I am checking with my contacts with our allies as we speak, particularly whether there are any active operations around areas of interest we've already uncovered. If so, I will inform them of what we know and assist with our knowledge base. Your assessment is probably correct; there are wheels within wheels to this. My observations so far of the snake indicate that it is none too bright and was certainly being used. It may just be the simplest, most direct route for some ulterior motive--however, by examining it, I can make inferences of the entire class, and prepare appropriate countermeasures and contingency trees.

"For the time being, however," she returned her arm to her sleeve and rested her hand on her niece's shoulder, "rest. I am certain a pantheon of ancient gods torn from their thrones and exorcised to planes where they can lay in wait for tens of thousands of years will still be around after a short nap, should you choose to take up your lance and start slaying dragons." She said the last with a wink and a smile.

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Postby Sunset » Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:52 pm

V'Thirnthi Jungle, N'Xypndiltn, E'Xypndiltn System...

The Hierophant laughed, and laughed hard. "If you know me, young one, then you know your death is at hand. The barrier is thin, here. These children did that all by themselves." His fingers reached out and he gently caressed the cheek of a native corpse that was winding its way into the pile. "Aeons of work done for me." His accent was thick, and had none of the musical notes of the modern Empire. "But come and die, then." Mnyxan held out his hands and spoke another name, shaking the trees and stone around them. "You should be grateful! Your people will live long enough to see the traitors and worms in the so-called Radiant Empire obliterated!" And around him, the living Snake enforcers died, their lives flowing into him, his body rippling with strength and youth stolen. "But for your personal safety? A mere whore? Ha! Deal with the enemy that has dogged your steps, fool of a King!"

The ground trembled, the corpses rippled, and from their midst stepped Li Nesar, eyes blank as an armor of flesh and chitin surrounded him. With a roar that was both living and dead, Nesar charged across the grassy steps, arms outstretched, jaws open wide to reveal long, vicious fangs. Out of the flesh and bone extended vicious claws as the former Tonhi Prince twisted and changed to become something far less than he had once been. From behind tree and boulder a merry fusillade greeted him as the Mobile Infantry platoon opened fire around the flanks of the paladins, their hard white beams crossing the space where the once-man was and passed through the supernatural form to leave a spiderweb shape that formed together again and again as one after another connected. The dull whump-whump-whump from under-slung launchers heralded the arrival of explosive ordinance and for a moment the front of his body was bleached white as flesh was stripped away to herald the bone underneath.

Mnyxan laughed again, then turned back to his sorcery. His servants had not stopped chanting once, even as the life was drained from their neighbors to feed their master.

"You cannot defeat this one!" O'Donaldsen cried loud, swinging his blade to decapitate the corpse of one of the Enforcers, a backhanded stroke splitting it from shoulder to waist and preventing it from rising again, "Turn your attention to the dead! The Blade of History shall take his stock..."

The mighty sword swung behind him, tip almost to the dirt, and he paused as the Prince rushed onward before taking a single precise step forward and dropping into a low lunge, the wide blade arcing around as the monster's arm swung above his head. No hit was scored but the melee was joined and behind him the remaining four turned inward from the flanks to surround the beast. Claw and fang lashed out but where it sought to penetrate steel edges cross and presented their barrier. Where he turned to advance, they retreated, and when he howled terror they drew together in strength. Spittle flew from his jaws, rage and globules of his own flesh flung upon them as he strove only to find them pliant. A savage charge, head down and arms swung wide to rend, and the bald pate woman stepped aside, the crescent of her blade before him almost an invitation as he exited the circle of five.

Again beam and missile leapt out at him, tore away his reconstituted flesh, but it was the perfunctory rather than the aggressive and even as his body knotted itself back together it dropped off. At her place on the line, Tradia fired again but it felt feeble, her sidearm tiny against the heavier rifles of the Mobile Infantry and visibly useless against the Prince. The image of the sword flickering in her direction returned to her mind and she holstered the weapon to vanish from sight, a pregnant pause from the Inspector before he too turned to follow the ghostly shape through the undergrowth as they circled the forum.

"Turn to the dead," the Karmabaijani Trooper repeated, his voice low and weapon idle as the whole line avoided the renewed melee, "Turn to the dead!"

Roaring his challenge, Nesar spun on his heel to send dirt and grass behind him in a spray that took only faint substitute for the blood he sought to spill. Shoulder and limb shook as he looked from one to another and they moved again to surround him, one ahead and two to the left and two to the right. Blades to the fore, they spread into a circle as he tensed and sprang forward to again find his way blocked. Over his head arced the matte steel of launched grenades but they were not destined for him but rather the pile of corpses at the center. Harsh white beams lit the space between Trooper and staggering corpse as they cut down one after another, bodies and limbs rent asunder as explosively-heated flesh burst under their impact.

O'Donaldsen swept his blade up across his body, flat to deflect the claws, and his armored foot came down in a mighty stomp on the beast's own split-toed hoof. It was the first blow struck and Nesar reared back to stand tall, chest surging in laughter as he stared down at the tiny mortal. With a speed unheralded by movement, he threw his talon hand forward and through the man's gut, piercing armor as paper to lift him high, shaking him as the life drained from the man's eyes before throwing him to the side, great blade spinning into the dirt.

A ripple of explosions and the tall form spun to watch as the mound surged, defiled by the intruders, and the arc of steel sunk home. Black mixed with red as he twisted his head to stare at the blade that had cloven deep into his shoulder and something akin to pain crossed his face as it pulled free. Lashing around, a once-powerful arm tucked close to his side, he found himself facing the woman and he roared defiance as five became four and turned against one. Now they found; Savage claw sought the soft spaces between armor as sword bit at the edges of his defense. A shambling corpse of a woman, young and with the goldenrod skin of the Xypndi, crossed their circle and he leapt at it to lift it to the wound and press it home even as it struggled, the flesh absorbing into his own.

"You falter," she pronounced and he turned, arms wide, to stare at her while the muscle and sinew of the dead wove into his own. His hand shot out but her blade on edge was there to meet him and fingers split wide as his arm ran up the keen edge to the elbow. Another swung down and what he had gained he lost as it cleaved true.

"Come on," Tradia gestured, forgetting the unseen nature of her own hand as she looked behind her.

The faint shadow of Min nodded and she crept forward. Ahead of her the Hierophant chanted, arms high as his body surged. A spine curved from age had grown straight again and muscles surged with renewed vigor. Around him the dismembered pieces of the dead, both recent and long-past, had begun to skitter and move as something drew them towards him. Almost at his feet, hidden by the stump of log on which he stood, she could see the prone body of the Mystic-Sergeant spread out, his great armor tinged crimson with his own blood, but something else glinted closer even as Mnyxan looked down on him, the flames of death and victory in his eyes. All at once the corpses in the pile and around the clearing leapt, propelled skyward by some unseen force, and as one they began to flow towards him.

Steel sunk deep into his side and Nesar spun, sending his attacker flying away, but there was no time to finish the man, no time for that small victory. His power had been taken from him and once again he stood betrayed, watching the dismembered bodies of the dead flow away from him and towards the Hierophant as he extended his arms in triumph, the one chanted word repeated on his lips as they shouted the name over and over. Lunging forward she put hand behind pommel and strength behind blade to drive the wide blade through his spine to tear his dark heart asunder again as it pierced his chest and left him impaled on the end of her outstretched arms.

"Mnyxan..." It died on his lips as the body gifted to him fell asunder. What was left of arms and legs fell away, crawling across the ground towards the prophet as a small outline detached itself from the far edge of the clearing and sprinted forward.

The sword lay where it had fallen and for a half-moment Tradia hesitated. It was nearly as long as she was tall, but there was something about how it lay between her and the Hierophant that told her to take the hilt and snatch up the blade in both hands. Adrenaline or device, it lay light in her tiny gripe as she continued to run with it trailing behind her like the pennant on a lance, the knight come to slay the dragon as she gathered her strength. All around her, to either side and encircling him the corpses moved, rapidly gathering as she sprinted between them. One final footstep and she jumped, the blade arcing around her as the warrior threw her diminutive weight into one final swing. Mnyxan threw his head back and laughed as the ground shook and the essence of ten thousand lives flowed towards him and the laughter died on his lips as head parted from body to roll into the pit while his body tumbled to the ground, shriveling away as it fell until it was less than nothing.

For a long moment she knelt in the dirt, leaning against the sword now heavy, gathering her breath. From the jungle the Trooper surged forward, spreading out around the clearing to check and recheck but all was quiet. The crisp sound of steel on steel brought her attention and she looked up as the four began to walk towards her, their blades sheathed and faces as solid as they had been when they had first stepped from the shadows. Whatever gore had bedecked their armor had disappeared and as they stopped in front of her the pages of the books bound to their chest fluttered, the words written there disappearing as new appeared, blank and pristine. They waited silently while she hauled herself to her feet, one hand on the pommel of the great sword.

"How..."

'How did he know?' She wanted to ask a thousand questions, but just beside them his body lay still, the book behind its glass closed and bound with locks that would not part. But she could not ask the question with the dead so close at hand. Instead she waited on the woman who in turn waited until Tradia's eyes left O'Donaldsen and caught her own to speak.

"It is twice the Gods fall before you, and perhaps that is why," the bald woman answered, putting out her hand for the sword. "History has a way of repeating itself."
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Roania
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1797
Founded: Antiquity
Ex-Nation

Postby Roania » Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:48 pm

And applause rang at the back of the clearing. Two hands, enthusiastically meeting one another. "Good show! Good show! I knew I could put my faith in you." There was a figure at the back of the clearing. Tall, well-built, strangely handsome, and wearing a black robe trimmed with gold. And then he was among them, standing on one of the fear clear plots of ground, surrounded by the dead. "We haven't met officially, of course. Allow me to introduce myself." The man spoke English without any accent, and spoke it near perfectly. And he bowed as a westerner would bow. To Tradia. And then he brushed his hair back, revealing his perfectly pointed (far-too pointed) ears. "I am Prince Cheruv Nesar, and I am here in my capacity as the Dragon's Hand. And what that means? Well, first and foremost, it means I have spoken to your delightful superior, and a... we may call it 'sufficient'... portion of my master's money will soon be flowing from his coffers to hers. He will not miss it, and a world like this could use it."

"But second, ma cherie, it means that I must heartily congratulate you. You have ended an ancient evil. How ancient, I will not bore you with. And therefore, I present you with a gift. From my Emperor, to you. Personally." The Reixian glanced at the blade in her hands. "Not as fine as the one you have truly won, perhaps. But a token of our thanks. To you, I bestow the blade ZhenSho. That is to say, Kill-God. A blade to match your title, God-KIller." And then he was away again. "And more. I can imagine the frustration, my dear, of doing everything correctly and losing your quarry to another." And he smiled, revealing a set of all-too-sharp teeth. "So let me right, at least in this one instance, that which went wrong."

And the Dragon's Hand stepped among the corpses, and grabbed Li Nesar by the throat and lifted him up to the sky singlehandedly. The words he spoke were new, and yet ancient, and more felt than heard. And their meaning was lost on any but the corpse he held, which shone brightlyfor but a moment...

"I... I will not come! I wil..." And Li Nesar, regenerated and restored, was hurled to the ground with force. A pair of crystal shackles flew from the Hand's coat and bound the new prisoner's hands.

"I believe our mutual friends would have a word with me. And I must speak with them. Therefore, Lady Tradia, I would ask that you and Inspector Min take this prisoner to the Palace on Rudan Prime. The Imperial Consort has questions she would ask of her brother, and my master would hear the answers and thank you personally. Suitably effusively, I promise. I do hope I will see you there." And Nesar walked to the HELLSING operatives, on the sea of corpses with a smile on his lips and a song in his heart. And then he stopped. "Oh yes. Inspector Min? You have earned my recommendation for a promotion. I suggest you consider where your future lies carefully."
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Oyada
Envoy
 
Posts: 218
Founded: May 13, 2008
Father Knows Best State

A brief scene-setting of sorts.

Postby Oyada » Mon Nov 02, 2015 9:26 pm

“Yes... yes, I understand that, Lieutenant. Yes. Yes, I am aware. No, she is known. If you could please just guide her in my direction, that would be very good. Yes. No. No, a guard will probably be unnecessary. Well, if you insist. Yes. Very well, as I command, yes.” Naragan hung the phone up with a sigh and went to the tea dispenser. Hopefully, Keiri would manage not to kill herself, or be killed by the guards, or give him another near-run coronary, before he could at least say hello to their new but familiar ambassador.
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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Northrop-Grumman
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1619
Founded: Dec 28, 2003
Benevolent Dictatorship

Postby Northrop-Grumman » Sat Nov 07, 2015 9:33 am

Back aboard the Kilimanjaro, the Chairwoman reviewed a briefing from the Concordat’s ambassador’s meeting with his Oyadan colleague. It would seem that the Oyadans may have been willing to contemplate an ejection of the Radiant Empire from the alliance, but Siri knew that that was not something that she could count on. The last time she and her husband had attempted such a maneuver, their so-called allies stabbed them in the back and switched sides at the very last minute. She wasn’t about to put them in a ‘yes’ category just yet. Though, ultimately, it wasn’t like it mattered anyway. A vote would never have to be called. The strength of the alliance would never had to be put to the test. The Roanians simply pulled out.

Around the elf, the Kilimanjaro shook and rattled as its engines were being driven harder and harder. Siri caught her glass of water just as it had begun to vibrate towards the end table’s edge. Her little side adventure had made her slightly late and now she was trying to make up for lost time. Soon though, the vessel approached the Solontian colony ship, Prism, with its hyperspace gate and made the jump back into Sol.



Hours later…

Chairwoman Siri O’Neill folded her arms onto the desk before her, green eyes roaming around the room, gazing out at the assembled representatives of the other member states of the Concordat. Beside her sat Ambassador Davidson, padfolio opened and a pen in one hand to capture any particular thoughts that may come about from this meeting.

“My original intent for convening everyone together was to discuss the Radiant Empire’s recent actions and come to some sort of determination on what should be done about them, especially considering their status as a member of this alliance.” She began, continuing to display that cold, emotionless demeanor she had had when she was in the palace the day before. “We are all bound together and the actions of our members do have an effect on us, even more so when they disrupt the peaceful order. But in light of my visit, that is no longer necessary.

“I traveled there to gain a firsthand understanding of the situation and to make the Grummian perspective of matters known. My hopes were that perhaps a resolution could be attained. When I was before the Emperor, I made myself clear that the Grummian government was concerned about their conduct – from the Tonhi affair all the way up to what we have been facing now. I also made a point of addressing his conduct, very much focused on his letter that you all had received; I was attempting to avoid the deaths of millions, if his wife had passed, as he would proceed to end his life along with theirs.

“Naturally, he had not reacted well to what I had said, exploded into rage, and was poised to strike me down. But just as quickly, he crashed into what appeared to be a depressive state. The Dominion’s Imperatrice then appeared before him, provided a status of his wife – she was going to live, after all – and also admonished him for his actions. The Emperor’s personality proceeded to change once again and did as he stated in his letter: since his wife would life, the Empire’s fleets would no longer advance towards Sol and its dependencies.

“I made my point that, while he kept to his word, apologies could no longer suffice; we cannot simply return to our homes and pretend that none of this had ever happened. Threats were made, and there was nothing stopping this from happening all over again as now these threats were legitimized. And in Grummian eyes, the fact that the Radiant Empire was still continuing its conquest was unacceptable. At this point, he revoked the Empire’s membership from the Concordat and stated that it was essentially up to me whether they would return. He then suddenly became unconscious, but through the medical attention from Zero-One’s Queen and assistance from the Imperatrice, both he and his wife were restored to their health.”

She paused briefly before she concluded her remarks. “That is my report to you. If you have any questions for me, please feel free to ask them, but otherwise, the floor is open.”

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