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Charybdis Rising (FT TG for entry)

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Zepplin Manufacturers
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Charybdis Rising (FT TG for entry)

Postby Zepplin Manufacturers » Sun Oct 18, 2015 4:31 pm

Forty six years previously, eleven hundred and eighty light years Rim-ward of sol, Priean System, Priean IV, Independent Religious Colony, Morisette Township

Take nearly twenty billion relatively free people. From the still billions of those who declare themselves religious distill them and you will always find those who simply speak the words of tradition, those of true personal faith and belief and those truly do believe not just in a god but that they specifically both talk to and talk for God, Vishnu or any other sort of deity. Most are shysters who believe nothing of the sort. Some will be taken as the mad or simply suffering the hangovers of neural miswiring. Distill again. Find those who not only believe but have both the intellect and the gift to talk to the masses and not a little luck. These are thankfully rare. Such people can be prophets, set fire to continents and burn worlds.

The good reverend captain Morissette had been such a man and he had known it and so had the Incorporated State. It had glad to be rid of him and less than happy to loose those he claimed but freedom to do anything even enslave oneself voluntarily was accepted. Morisette had sought to lead his faithful to a promised land of purity without the infection of the alien. To go to another star to do it was an irony lost on the man. Priean IV was to be his world to shape. Ample water, breathable atmosphere and well inside the life zone. Too marginal on the trade routes for BuCol for Morisette it was perfect and with only a little work it could have been a shining beacon of an Eden. It had turned into a backwater hell in six generations of theocratic mismanagement.

In the edge of the township a sea of mud brown melt block shanties spread outward to the endless rows of failing fields and broken muck. Most of the sad constructions were no more than the size of a garden tool shed, strangely windowless for a building made from glass. From where the first families still held to there now brilliantly white washed pre fabs a world of social divide lay, a word defined by colour of clothing and mud, of being clean or always covered with just too much of the local slime, of want and hunger and satisfaction and gluttony with the certainty that god wished it so.

A small boy held back his tears. He knew that his life depended upon it, that and the goodwill of his neighbours, old widow Hansons wrinkled old hands even now firmly holding his to hide the quiver. He held those tears back over the remains of his home as the church's eyes, thuggish oxen like men in great canvas like overcoats carrying cruel metal rods continued to smash what was left of his shanty to rubble in a sick sort of glee. A silent crowd of the drawn and malnourished watched on. In front of the growing pile of rubble lay six bodies in rude coarse brown cloth, there outlines deformed in ways that matched the diameter of the rods in unpleasant ways and at the heart of the house the single remaining working data pad almost pounded to dust. He cried for his family inside. He cried also though for the loss of dreams of the stars.

Twenty three hours previously, Cometary Halo, Astin System, Eight hundred and thirty eight light years Spin-ward from Sol,

The Charybdis for all her size was not spacious for her crew. They and even he were packed into cabins that were in truth smaller than his childhood home. That thought had often made him smile. It had also led to the regular forces referring to them as strat spam on more than one occasion though generally not within his earshot.

The man the boy had become was prematurely grey, a beard dusting a craggy face that spoke of an easy smile. It was lost in thought and far from his smile now as he contemplated the time and another room aboard.

That room was cramped with machinery and should have never seen human hand or eye. But it had six months previously. The box was not present on any security scan or record but then the hand that had positioned it had helped plan most of them. To the untrained human eye it would have simply not mattered, blending into the mass of systems. To the SI core that glittered at the heart of the room it was literally invisible, imperceptible filtered out of her view until it activated. Then the SI that in many ways was the Charybdis had its view of reality and certain orders very much altered.

In his cabin the man's eyes crinkled for a moment as the time passed and the security sirens did not begin going off, his officers did not come to escort him to the brig or the med techs to take him to stasis.

Slowly he mixed up a pot of tea, the ritual calming as each minute flickered past. He did not smile but now there was satisfaction as above his tiny fold out table on the plot the ships course began to change.


Sixteen hours previously, Astin system, Noor Secure Orbital Anchorage

Mark Hallsworth was no longer the trim figure of youth that had once ridden fast destroyers, nor did he wear a glittering set of regalia that he was entitled to. A simple serviceable standard officers ship suit in station office configuration and rank tabs, no matter how high they declared him to be was all he appeared in. When he wore what he privately thought of as the clown suit came the unfortunate side of the job, the part he detested, at least here on actual duty he did not have to act for the crowd. He could actually be what nearly eight years of continuous service in the space forces had molded him into.

The man would never claim it for himself his position however did demand some respect and so it was granted by the swift salutes and responses as he passed the teeming multitudes of busy bodies on the way to his temporary office aboard the anchorages main station. Passing the huge strategic space command logo he greeted Clarice his fussy librarian like assistant who then herded him through the office with the same sheepdog intensity she gave his calendar, her fiery will and known penchant for swearing in a way that only a veteran service spacer could letting only some through as he smiled and gave an odd word. Finally he had a chance to enter his own sanctum, the silence as the massively thick door thunk-ed closed blocking out everything save the sound of the air vents.

Relaxing his posture he gently sank into his chair as the strategy SIs and his own dumb message bots and his quite real staff begin to load his inbox up with another days morass of reports, the halo of news from the external datanet appearing in one corner as did private messages. Three hours later just before lunch after two virtual meetings one of which he had found satisfying the other of which had been a grey soul sucking affair with finance he finally got to his personal correspondence. He smiled as he saw on name on the list in particular. Ah yes he would be taking her out today, it really was the least he could do the man before he left the service. His right hand outstretched for his instant caffeine never made it as eyes danced down the page, the ceramic knocked aside as he almost swore, colour draining from his face.

In a surrounding sphere that moved at exactly sixty three light years an hour nearly every single ZMSF asset in known space mounting a star drive and a weapon would be either leaving port or already on active patrol, spreading outward in great search patterns, dropping hundreds of thousands of sensor buoys and drones as entire squadrons, flotillas and finally entire fleets went active, warships boiling outward like glitter in a gail. Everything from the smallest patrol sloop to dreadnoughts of the wall went to space, hiding nothing as engines flashed their presence outward in massive hard burns.
Last edited by Zepplin Manufacturers on Sun Oct 18, 2015 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Scolopendra
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Postby Scolopendra » Mon Oct 19, 2015 2:53 pm

Galactic Spinward Theatre

While it couldn't be said that the Triumvirate and the Incorporated State were the best of friends, it wouldn't be entirely accurate to call them enemies either. Diplomacy between the two was cordial, if businesslike, and the strategic interests of both were vaguely aligned in the same direction most of the time. The best description for the relationship would have had to have been 'competitive.' They were competitors--for market share, for resources in some cases, for memetic good will--and while the competition was sporting there were, as could be predicted, rules and standards and etiquette. There were understandings.

Case in point, it was understood that the ZMDF had covert deep-Oort observation platforms watching TYCS fleetbases and more overt agents acting as tourists closer in. Even more overtly, it was understood that the ZMDF trawled public data and fleetwatcher link-sites that collated data on TYCS movements, strengths, organization, and initiatives. More importantly in this case was the fact that they both understood that all this was mutual. Both watched the other watching the first, this was the way things were done, and both tried and sometimes failed and often succeeded in keeping the other from seeing this move or that move. This game had been going on for so long that such attempts at secrecy were more matters of just regaining some operational privacy rather than actual strategic movement posing risk.

With these facts as they were, it would come as no surprise to any reasonably informed observer that the massive ZMDF deployment failed to not be noticed.

TYCS Stratnet

"We've never seen this before," said Sky Marshal Rachel Doramacher as she shook her head, bob-cut silver hair following closely. Her place at the simulated table in front of her, and the simulated floor around the simulated seat under her, glowed light blue in the inky blackness of the highest-security conference room on the strategic network. Like the other Sky Marshals around the table, the light failed to properly reflect off her: it reflected as soft white light, for one, and for another the subtlety of the underlighting effect suggested another light source that wasn't strictly in evidence. "It looks like an all-points scramble, according to the data we have and the patterns we've seen."

"Should we do the same?" asked the red-lit Sky Marshal Bondayehr from down the table. "I know we don't really expect any hostility from the Zeppies, which would make them the best deliverers of a first strike."

"We don't think so," replied a man sitting at the far end of the table. Unlike the Sky Marshals, his spot was neither lit nor color coded; he was simply there. Between horn-rimmed glasses, fading hair, and a conservative jacket, he looked the very stereotype of a government-appointed scientist. "WarWANCC has run through the numbers and I'm sure their cogitators are just as good as ours; this is an extremely substandard opening strategy given what they probably know about our response times and doctrines. We've got several confirmed interstellar tracks indicative of search patterns; Melchior and Balthazar both confirm to over ninety-five percent certainty. Caspar's dissension is based on its confirmation only being to ninety-four percent. When we run this as an opening offensive play through them they all return sub-single-digit betas."

"Could they be searching for our strategic strike platforms?" Bondayehr sometimes hewed too closely to 'absolute and insufficient' when it came to professional paranoia. "Double-guess our analysis, remove our immediate second-strike capacity, then first-strike?"

"If we have any Nemesis-classes in the vicinity," the CINCTYCS said calmly, artificial light reflecting off artificial mirror-polished sunglasses in his white-lit square at the head of the table, "they would be present on random-walk patrol, their presence purely coincidental, and they would have already been directed to continue their random-walk away from the search volumes. Even if they were neutralized, sufficient second-strike resources remain available in other Theatres that strategic considerations on their side are not considerably changed. The Incorporated State is many things, but suicidal is the thing they are least."

"Could still be a spring-cleaning surge, just trying to clear their space. Maybe testing a strategic sensor system."

"A spring cleaning that's leading them to launch every hull they've got, even those in the middle of repple-depple?" Rachel shook her head. "No, I've been watching their movements long enough to know that they wouldn't take that risk--take the risk of us overreacting--unless there was a damn good reason. What this reminds me most of is VIGILANT RESPONDER."

Bondayehr's poker face descended at the mention of that.

"Sorry, Bondy. Didn't mean it that way. It's just that this is a panic-button slap, trying to find something and fast. What that is... well..." Her pale, careworn face winced in the way that Bondayehr had just avoided, and then she looked over at the scientist.

"We've got our top men working on it."

Not at the War Analysis and New Concepts College

"I'm telling you, this is it." Aston Jamsheed--as ambiguously brown as his name suggested--tapped the grainy image on the e-sheet. The e-sheet failed to recognize this as a command, and so displayed a small warning icon in one corner but otherwise did not obscure the image: a dark-grey oblong cigar sharpened to a point on one end and squished into a fin on the other over a field of black.

"What is it?" Captain Pelanost sighed, resting his third arm over the other two folded in front of him. "A Maelstrom? Between those in port and what we've got pinged from extensions of TRIPWIRE and VIGILANCE, any that pose an immediate threat are accounted for."

Jamsheed sighed. Since the end of the Ardan Cold War, the Special Services had evolved from the Triumvirate's combined intelligence and special circumstances elite to a collection of analysts intended to coordinate member nations' intelligence efforts. This only worked when said members bothered to share their work. Simultaneously, while the Combined Services' funding and prestige remained stable, Special Services' had been slashed. A generation ago, he wouldn't have to be begging Doramacher's adjutant to get some face time with the Sky Marshal. "It's the dog that didn't bark. Maybe even a dog that doesn't bark."

Pelanost's third hand waved from the wrist in a circle. It meant exactly what most humans would interpret it to mean, and that was just a happy coincidence.

"Charybdis is an improvement on the Maelstrom-class. The drive assembly looks more Oyadan than anything else--which matches the additional sensor masts fixed to her fore--so she's built to slip past any of our early-warning systems, as far as we can tell. She left port twenty-six hours before the Zee-Em-Dee-Eff mobilized, she's what they're looking for."

"That just means she was the first to launch, no more and no less. They could be looking for anything else."

"Let me sweeten the pot, then. This is the first of the Charybdis-class, on her maiden voyage. That means she's under the command of one Captain Kamenev, who's skippered every Zepper strategic strike platform class that you'd care to name--not only each class, but the lead ship in each. He's a goddamn boomer test pilot, and he wrote the book on Zee-Em-Dee-Eff strat-plat operations."

The captain's third hand moved to his chin. "Go on."

"The search patterns? Well, guess where we got this picture: Noor, since we watch them like they watch us. Where they start looking? Noor. And expanding in a sphere out from there. When she goes superluminal, there's not man nor beast that can find her by the drive signature she doesn't have, so they have to hope that an errant photon or graviton gives her away."

"Things that TRIPWIRE is supposed to detect--"

"TRIPWIRE, thanks to the Akashans, works on an extremely sensitive measurement of spacetime. Great for detecting wakes, but she doesn't disrupt space enough to make one. She cuts through," Aston demonstrated with one flat hand, "so the only way TRIPWIRE would detect it would be if it accidentally rammed a buoy. VIGILANT is built more on the 'errant photon' model but probably couldn't pick up what little Charybdis gives off. You'd have to stick one of your eyestalks right against the thing to see it."

Pelanost screwed said eyestalks towards one another until they were almost touching, concentrated with the effort, then came to a decision. "Go ahead. I'll pull her out of NEENJA."

Several short conversations later--

TYCS Stratnet

"Interesting," the CINCTYCS mused aloud.

"And you are?" Sky Marshal Daniela Slazak, responsible for the Solar Defense Theatre, folded her arms at her green-lit station and leaned back into her chair that wasn't technically real. The abject neutrality of her face, and the level calm of her tone, belied her choice of words.

"Analyst Aston Jamsheed, Special Services." While he was no slouch to begin with, he still sat up just a little straighter as he set his square jaw. "I'm the Service's top analyst for all things Incorporated State, with a particular emphasis on their spacy. They've been my life for my entire career."

Bondayehr nodded, leaning forward, elbows on his red-lit rectangle and sharp chin just behind his folded hands. "So this isn't any sort of ruse, you'd say?"

"I'm absolutely certain."

"Why are they looking for him?"

"Can't say. Maybe something's gone on and they're looking to rescue Charybdis--wait, sir, 'him?'"

"It sounds like the Cee-Oh is a national treasure, if not a full-blown hero. No one gets that sort of record without gaining the attention of those above. No one gets to continue it without the same measure. Charybdis is undetectable, you say? Maybe even by the Zee-Em-Dee-Eff?"

"As far as we know. They wouldn't put out an A-Pee-Bee if they could just spot him on the old spacedar."

"And we know from the picture that he's visible when standing still."

"Yes."

Timofeyev furrowed his brow slightly. "That means he's on the move, and he's on the move in a way that has the Zee-Em-Dee-Eff scared shitless. Which--what's Charybdis carrying?"

"Nothing good. It's roughly equivalent to a Nemesis-class--not quite as much throw weight, but it can still mission-kill planets from a low-observable posture. Depending on whom you ask, it's probably got a later generation of kill vehicles than those on the usual Maelstrom-class."

"So it's on the move in a way they don't want it to, with the hero of their strat force aboard, and they know it's moving but have no idea where it is or where it's going, and wherever it's going may have an extremely bad day in extremely short order. What else do we know about the captain?"

Jamsheed habitually checked his pockets, but it was no use. "I don't have anything with me right now, but we could pull up what white-world stuff he's written, intel we've picked up--"

"As a person."

"Oh. Born on some sort of splinter colony, I think. Haven't looked that deeply into it."

"Look deeply into it. He's the logical causal link. Maybe the crew mutinied and he warned his superiors. Maybe he's gone Ripper. His probable motivation should suggest just how we should react."

"Makes sense." Aston looked across the table of world-protectors and world-enders, and they looked back at him.

"On the bounce, please," Bondayehr said cooly.

"Right." He disappeared.

"So, boss," Timofeyev turned to the CINCTYCS, "what is our reaction?"

"First, stage evacuation drills of major fleetbases to deep-space contingency rally points." The late-middle-aged man of Chinese extraction answered. "Second, increase comms traffic through NIGHTMARE. Third..." He cracked a very rare, very small smile. "We do what we always do."

*-*-*

Distributed Network -> Mars -> To Whom It May Concern

On a line linked to the TYCS network through Tandra Fani-Kayode (retired)'s old office in Fleetbase Deimos and its obsolescent Mars Defense Initiative-era emergency channels, a dusty red telephone on the ZMDF side of things rang.

"This is the CINCTYCS. We could not help but notice your recent... mobility drills. Would there happen to be anything we can help you with?"
Last edited by Scolopendra on Mon Oct 19, 2015 5:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Roania
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Postby Roania » Mon Oct 19, 2015 4:40 pm

Chamber of a Thousand Victories, Imperial Palace


Amazing how the prospect of imperial fury concentrates the mind. She could tell from her position on the ground that her ultimate master was not pleased to have been called here for His help. But nevertheless, her duty must be done, as she had had it explained to her. "The... the Incorporated State appears to have misplaced a very dangerous and innovative ship, Lord."

"...than I would suggest to them that they find it, Aleis." A click of His fingers and a servant bought a glass of steaming tea in the silence that followed. "That was a joke. All of you, laugh." The assembled officials all laughed as heartily as they possibly could. "Laughing time is over." And the laughter shut off like someone had slit their throats." The Sovereign sipped His tea appreciatively. "It is third watch. I have a bed to sleep in, a wife to hold, and a Realm to rule over in the morning. My consort has filled my day with apparently unavoidable trivialities. Why have you come to me with this one?"

"W-w-well, Lord, they requested our aid in... um, I didn't get a lot of it, Lord, but their military attache wrote out their needs on this sheet and... and I came here to meet with the navy, and..."

"And I told this impudent girl the same thing I would tell the Grand Secretary. The Navy does not answer to any foreigners, and we do not answer to noncoms from the Secretariat, either." This senior member of the Admiralty, now detached and placed on the War Council, slapped his hand down on the wooden table. "If this Charybdis is as dangerous as they think it it is, they should have kept better track of it and given command to someone sound! Our place is here, defending civilization. Not setting off across the Sea of Stars on the say-so of some bimbo and her foreign masters!" The last of his words were drowned in chaos as the officials rose and started shouting at the naval contingent, who returned fire with glee. Aleis covered her face in mortification.

The Sovereign lifted his hand for silence. A few people stopped, then a few more. Soon, the only person who was making any noise was one single mandarin at the back who hadn't been looking. Eventually, the silence around him got to him and he looked up, muttered something uncouth under his breath, and fell quivering back to the floor. The Sovereign shook his head. "Guards, take that man and throw him in a cell. I will deal have my wife deal with him in the morning." That unpleasant business over, he turned to Aleis. "And you wish me to order their cooperation? While inarticulately phrased," and the naval personnel fell on their faces, "the Retired Admiral raises an excellent point. Should there be danger, my ships should be here to protect us from it."

"The.. the Ambassador did suggest if I had to I was to give this letter to you or Miss Ma, Lord..." Aleis took the envelope from her tiny messenger bag and with a bow granted it to her master.

Damalin tsked, but he decided to hear the Incorporated State out. Aleis watched as he read through it twice, and then picked through it. With a sudden movement he threw the paper up into the air, where a bolt of jade energy burnt it to ashes. "This letter was unsealed. Did you read it, Great Secretary?"

"N-no, Lord!"

"On your life?"

"On my life!"

"Good. Admiral, you have fifty minutes to come up with a working plan for my assistance to my friends in the Incorporated State, an experienced commander to take charge of this, and four of my most advanced scouts. Are there any questions?" The Sovereign turned his cool blue eyes upon his staffmember.

"Lord, with all due respect, you cannot mean... what did...I..."

"Admiral Ying. You have served my family for almost a century. You show every sign of continuing to serve this Realm, and serving it well, for many more years to come." Aleis couldn't make out his expression, but from the Admiral's face she knew it was not a friendly one. "But we live in a new century, as well as a new era. We must help our unenlightened brothers and sisters. Show them why they should kneel to the Throne now, not in the future. If you cannot fulfill the simple charge I have given you, then I must find another man to represent my navy on my joint chiefs of staff. This would be... unfortunate." His ears twitched, and he shook his head very slowly. "For both of us. Now, will you flow with the river or try to stand athwart it?"

"I... I hear and obey, Lord."

"Good. There are countless Captains who would gladly take this responsibility. We both know it. Give one of them a chance to prove himself. And to show my unknowing subjects that we are more than just villains of story and legend." And he slowly rose to his feet, at which the other occupants of the room jumped as well. "I shall order a small breakfast. Aleis, please inform the Honorable Ambassador that if and when his masters need my cooperation, they may simply reach out to me directly."

"Sovereign, a moment. I will obey, but... I must know." The retired admiral gripped the cane he leaned on tightly. "In that letter, was there anything that would affect the success or safety of this mission?"

"What letter?" Just a raised eyebrow.

"Sovereign, if it concerns the safety and security of your men, it is your duty..."

And the cool ice melted away. That was the angriest she'd ever seen the Lord. No wonder westerners talked about the Lord's Wrath! "Retired Admiral Ying Pin. If you ever, ever question my committment to my duty ever again, I will learn of it. And I will have you impaled on a stake made from your family's bones. Am I crystal, Retired Admiral Ying Pin?"

"C-crystal, Lord..."

"That letter had no bearing on the task and would not affect the safety of my men in any way, and is never to be spoken of in my presence. You have fifty minutes, Admiral. Get to it. I will await your results in the Hall."
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Oyada
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Father Knows Best State

Postby Oyada » Tue Oct 20, 2015 8:08 pm

It had been a bad idea to trade with the damned Gestalt, that race of sentient unknowables that ruled the Incorporated State, allies or not. The subspace engine had been one of the Imperial Navy's most treasured assets, a near-priceless means of remaining out of detection while getting where one wanted to go, guarded closely and revealed to no-one, and it had been traded for (of course it had been traded for) improvements to the already prodigious bloat of sensor tech fitted to the surface fleet. It hardly bore thinking about, and it had already made life infinitely more unpleasant for the subspace forces. As well as concentrating on surface targets, they now had to guard against possible incursions by ZMI's boats into their once uncontested space. They'd even had to start carrying guided torpedoes for specific use in subspace, a troublesome technological problem all of its own, and that was never minding the loss of precious stowage space. And all that for some clever computers! It was absurd.

Commander Idama Mizhimun, veteran subspacer, had been one of the more vocal opponents of that still controversial trade within the Navy, an opposition that some perverse or malicious bastard in the Navy Ministry had evidently seen fit to recommend him for transfer to the new 6th Subspace Division, though for real pedants he technically was assigned to the Third Fleet as well. Established after the first of the new Roanian Emperor Damalin's episodes of poor judgement, SubDiv 6's job was to take the best boats the Navy could spare from other duties, and use them to track their Concordat allies. The job was good, but he could hardly not be expected to know it would have been a damned sight easier, had the Defence Ministry not permitted the signing away of their greatest asset in doing it in the first place. The short-term thinking was infuriating. The only plus side of it, if you could call it that, was that they'd given him a brand-new boat to get stuck into. Since the Navy generally would try and keep a crew together if they performed well, and since Idama had performed (if he said so himself) bloody well in every op he'd been sent on, they had let him keep anyone who would willingly go with him. Much to Idama's blushing pleasure, more than half of his crew had volunteered on the spot when he'd informed them, through a fog of rice wine and vast volumes of rice and fish, in a smoke-filled mess hall on the distant homeworld.

The thought set Idama in a calmer mood; quietly, he took in the scene on his new boat's bridge, sipping at the scalding-hot coffee in his chipped enamelled mug. He smiled minutely, recalling his first patrols; by now he'd have been apprehensively asking after the state of things, maybe going on a little excursion to make sure everything was in order. These days, he seldom spoke, and when he did it was to acknowledge one of his seasoned crew's reports, and the only wandering he did through the boat was less of an inspection and more of a quiet check on how his men were doing as men first, and seamen second, even if it usually amounted only to a “how are you”, followed hotly by “any problems?” His old instructors had been right; the boat was a family, after you'd been on one long enough. Now, he and much of his family had moved homes.

Their new charger had been christened I-1068, and she was certainly... different. None of the systems aboard were familiar from the homely if cramped I-482 in any more than their basic characteristics and, thankfully, their interfaces. The twin 5in turret aft was gone, as were the two 25mm guns that used to sprout incongruously like squat, misshapen shrubs from the forward part of the conning tower, itself shrunken and atrophied; the entire boat, small and sleek, was conspicuously devoid of protrusions on her narrow hull, and her entire bow section was occupied by a dark, bulging sensor sphere. She was intended to track and engage boats in her own element, the strange waters of subspace, just as well as ships moving through the more conventional universe, and Idama, having had chance to track quite a few contacts with her, was beginning to appreciate her combination of high subspace speed, long endurance, and sensitivity to stimuli around her. And she was certainly comfier than I-482. Leather seats and a dedicated bunk for everyone seemed a paradise after the draining hot-bunking of the old days, and although they'd not been told about it, most of his crew had remarked on how fresh the recycled air seemed, even though it still carried the inevitable musk of warm oil and water and polymers, the gentle tang of heated metal, the strange residual sharpness of the scrubbers.

A noisome, bubbly sucking noise drifted thinly through the blackout curtain separating the bridge from the sensor station – that, at least, hadn't changed – and Idama caught the navigator's eye with an affectionate shake of the head. 'Spinner' Kureio returned the look, tutted and withdraw his well-chewed pencil from his teeth.

“Think he'll ever give that up,” he asked quietly, still mentally half-absorbed in I-1068's course as she patrolled the walls of an expanding and contracting series of boxes.

“Doubt it,” Idama replied with a gentle, snorting chuckle. “He's been smoking that thing longer than I've been at sea. You don't approve?”

Kureio's nose wrinkled slightly in involuntary distaste. “Bad habit. Dulls the mind when you can't get them, and that's without the effect on the rest of the body. Couldn't smoke myself. I'd count every year I lost.” He stuck the pencil back between his teeth and went on drawing up the rest of their patrol course on his console – another benefit of the ZMI trade.

Idama eased himself from the siren-comfortable commander's chair and nodded, and a moment later gently slipped around the blackout curtain, tapping the portly, bald-headed Chief Sensor Officer on the shoulder. CSO Fimukhi turned and cracked a contented smile around the gnarled pipe in his mouth, sliding his headphones off one slightly misshapen ear. “Captain?”

“Just thought I'd check in,” Idama whispered, so as not to disturb the sensor crew. “Anything new?”

“Nothing much,” Fimukhi murmured, turning back to the circular “spike” display before him. “Marvellous, this subspace dome; it's like having a searchlight in a cellar instead of a match.” He sucked thoughtfully on the pipe, discharging a small plume of blue-grey smoke after a suitably reflective pause, and poked at the screen with a chubby finger. “Three patrolling ship signatures here. Small, judging by their folds. That Maelstrom we picked up earlier has stopped engines; seems likely she's waiting for a berth. We're still picking up I-881; that's her there,” he added, pointing to a tiny spike that wavered and vanished into the dancing line of the sphere's detections even as he showed it to Idama. “We haven't found I-317 yet, though. Surprising,” he noted, though he showed no surprise whatsoever.

“Good,” Idama replied simply, for there wasn't much else to say. “Anything you need?”

“Not really, Captain. Perhaps more tea. If we can get any closer to that Maelstrom, we might be able to identify her if we risk a quick check with the ESM masts, but Maelstroms aren't difficult to track.”

“You can practically feel 'em,” added one of the sensor crew, his headphones briefly removed as he rubbed his ears, joining them in a low whisper. “Dark-covered things are so big they sound like a bag of nails trapped in a washing machine up close. Er, sir.” With that, perhaps thinking better of the casual remark, he shoved his headphones back into place and went back to listening for the audio feeds from the subspace dome.

“Quite,” Fimukhi commented drily, returning his own set to his head. “I'll send word if anything--”

Idama cocked his head. Fimukhi had assumed a frowning look of intense concentration, a look mirrored by his two assistants. He tapped both on their wrists and pointed to his display, identical to theirs in every reading. On both the “spike” and the “waterfall” displays, a small new mark had begun to appear: a new contact. Idama waited while they firmed things up, and after some moments, Fimukhi removed his headphones again.

“Added that one as S15. Sounds like another Maelstrom lighting up her engines.”

“Explains our waiting friend.”

“Yes, although I didn't realise Noor was so short on berths.”

“It isn't, as far as we can tell.” Idama felt the tiny hairs on the back of his neck bristling with excitement, rested his hand over his mouth and rubbed absent-mindedly at his black moustache. “This one could be something special. Thoughts?”

“Could be,” Fimukhi replied nonchalantly. “It's odd for them to stop traffic going in just to let any old thing out, but then again, we don't know. Get us in a little closer, Captain, and we can get some more for you.”

“Carry on, CSO,” Idama breathed, and headed back to the bridge. A moment later, I-1068 peeled off her patrol course and yawed around in a tight turning climb in a dimension nobody quite seemed to understand, and which nobody aboard the S-boats thought about more than necessary if they had any sense. The minutes dripped by, and Idama made himself get another coffee and have a quick talk with the Chief Engineer and Chief Weapons Officer before he prowled back behind the sacred curtain and entered the cloistered confines of the sensor cabin again. Fimukhi, six-sensed, was waiting for him, frowning slightly, his display half-filled with tables.

“Any progress?”

Unusually, Fimukhi grunted, replying only after a pause to think. “Strange boat. She looks and sounds like a Maelstrom, but look here. These are the fold characteristics, the frequencies the system should pick up.”

Should pick up? I don't like that, CSO,” Idama whispered in return. “How far out are they?”

“Mmm... not much,” Fimukhi replied uncertainly, extracting the pipe and examining its blackened bowl. “Five percent here, seven percent there. But then you get to this reading here – these frequencies are usually produced by engine wash interacting with the dimensional interfaces. Look at that; that's off by a factor of three!” He called up a comparison picture, jabbing at the variances with the pipe's stem to emphasise his point, and shook his head. “Whatever she is, she isn't a Maelstrom as we know them.

“A decoy?”

“Could be, but I don't think so. A decoy would be built to emit exactly what a real boat emits; a decoy you can easily differentiate from the real thing is useless.”

“True, I admit, unless it's meant to confuse.”

“I agree, but if so, why would they deploy it now and switch it on, with no specialised testing ships around to monitor the results? Either they know it works or they don't.”

“They might know we're here,” Idama remarked as casually as he could, but Fimukhi shrugged, unconvinced.

“They might, but if they do, then why aren't they harassing us? If they want to scare us off, this isn't going to work.”

“And if they don't want to scare us off, why are they testing their new secret decoy in front of us,” Idama finished. “All right, probably not a decoy. New variant, then.”

“I think so, Captain. Quite an increase in drive output, but the other values are so close that I'd wager my pipe she's a Maelstrom class of some kind.” Fimukhi returned the pipe to his teeth and had just begun to frown when he, along with the other two men on duty at Sensor Station Two, simultaneously reached for and slapped the prominent, red-dyed mute buttons on their consoles with the speed of striking cobras. Idama jumped, but that wasn't why. He jumped because the waterfall and spike displays had both gone totally crazy, vast dancing spikes glowing bright red in the dark compartment and drowning out every other subspace signature in the vicinity, the sensitive dome flooded with subspace noise and the software on its signal processors unable to compensate rapidly enough to save the crew's ears from the piercing screech it generated in the audio emulators.

Something had just exploded into subspace, almost literally; like a man caught next to a flashbang, I-1068 was unharmed but blinded and dazed, groping in the darkness as her the wave of energy began to weaken and her sensors returned to normal. Petty Officer (Sensor) Railey was already restarting his console with a snarled "kessuwana!" Around them, the aether continued its fading ring.

When they restored their sensors to normal, two things were apparent. Firstly, the Maelstrom had indeed been waiting; as the spatial interface returned to normal, her sublight engines flared, gently nosing her into Noor's embracing arms. Secondly, the strange ship was nowhere to be found.

To that list might be added a third item: Commander Idama Mizhimun was not about to let something that could blind his boat, and that smelled like a coup that would earn them all commendations from the Ministers, slip by that readily. He had the best boat in the Navy to find this thing with; he couldn't ask for better people to do it with; and finally, he couldn't think of a better reason to do it than the sheer stunning impact of whatever that newcomer had done.

Idama turned I-1068 about, heading clear of the watching eyes of Noor at his highest subspace speed, and called his Officers to the wardroom for an impromptu conference. Four hours later, a terse message flashed from her subspace communications link and flitted back to HQ Third Fleet. Idama was on the chase again; this time, he would not be denied his prize.
Last edited by Oyada on Tue Oct 20, 2015 8:20 pm, edited 2 times 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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Zepplin Manufacturers
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Postby Zepplin Manufacturers » Thu Oct 22, 2015 2:24 pm

Thirty Seven years previously, Priean IV, Independent Religious Colony, The arc mountains, Pump station forty two

Lanky. Undernourished. Long hair, clothing patched over and over again till the original material was an unknown, a backpack with a still to refine some nourishment from the endless slime coated soil over his back. Mud coloured too shiny cheap synthetic great coat with collar turned up against a biting cold wind. Ahead the buildings roofs burned, molotovs thrown earlier taking their toll.

The click rifle, a white plastic oblong abomination dug into his shoulder, still almost comically too large for the person holding it. Its cheap bioplastic construction refined from the same slime that they lived on already beginning to crumple with each report, the almost paper thin metal in its mechanism causing as it heated the entire thing to wreak as the wretchedly awful plasticiser evaporated. The sulphurous stink of the propellant added to the experience biting at the back of a throat already ravaged by riot emetics and irritants and only defended by a thin ratty scarf that looked as if it was for a boy half his age. He envied those of the adults with the strength to use the crossbows, at least there weapon did not leave their clothing so stench ridden that the long forgotten unwashed body odor was a pleasant distraction.

The click rifle was cheap. He was weak physically. But his aim was for all that good, he knew the terrain and the hissing needle guns of the inner councils now armed guards on the water pump fell to the roar of fire.

Charybdis

He walked down the corridors smiling outwardly as he passed, the crew most relatively young high fliers responding to his presence like a rock hurled into a mill pond as he steadily made his way to the citadel. As he passed the final set of parashock sentries the ordinary thrill of going onto his own bridge was strangely missing. The bridge crew actively on duty apart from brief nods did not look up much from their activities, status reports hissing quietly over the ergonomic shock positions they each were ensconced in.

Charybdis’s voice was usually female, calm, placid and slightly warm, she as of yet had not chosen an avatar. In this instance and here of all places however it was authoritative.

“Captain we are approaching waypoint one, drive is holding steady at six point four eight mili axials to sidereal no variances in central eigenstate arrays, bow point eight is showing slight ..”

As the report went on he gently sat down sliding up the supposed mission as overhead the wheel of the galaxy in the main plot and her course spun on.

Earth, M1. Zone one, the Old City.

The ornate townhouses of the embassies were well over half a millennia old, the charming victorian sea front they occupied kept in almost perfect condition no matter the era, the iron railings, the tram line and the gas lamps protected by a layer of invisible synthetics, M1PD officers in outwardly period but functional uniforms slowly foot patrolling the well regulated tours, all kept to the other side of the street, there guides with white Dip-Sec vests and speakers followed by gaggles of sometimes garishly clothed citizen shareholders. The mid line road marking except for the scuttering appearance of actual dip-sec staff in and out of various buildings and the embassies own occupants was never passed. The mega cities dividers and working areas kept at a distance, the advertisements and endless holo displays filtered out, the view of the bay still though dominated by the twin arcs of the endless towers and behind the great light drinking mass of the ziggurat overlooking the entire area as it rose up from its own sector wall. The sky for once was only broken by starship sized grav lifts as they slowly rose and fell to and from orbit.

The quite alien or sometimes human or humanoid forms of half a dozen embassy guards stood outside doors, some with flags, other glyphs and in one case a burning grease fire in a pit whose smoke was thankfully confined to the embassy in questions grounds by a slightly shimmering field effect. Most were replesendid. The megacities more than ample opportunities for off duty amusement a slightly acceptable reward for being posted there. Some however were precise. The Oyadin embassy guard was precise, khaki green and high shine white leather along with impressive owl feathered head gear all topped by a black and highly functional anti material rifle who when not used to punch holes the size of a pumpkin in power armour could easily be mistaken for a quarterstaff.

The air car that pulled into the street unchallenged was therefore possibly of surprise if it were not for the dull grey and general feeling of menace about it. The logo on the side however, and the two hovering heavily be weaponed escort craft overhead spoke very widely of its purpose. The Dip-sec tour guides and the M1PD swiftly cordoned the block.

The thing that got out first from the vehicle was definitely not outwardly human. The spherical chromed egg shape where a head would reside spoke volumes as did its entirely did not care if it was tweak inducing in the general meat bag public movements. The cream white of its armoured sections unfolding into a humanoid three meter tall thing that scanned the crowd with an unflinching almost predatory gaze.

The man in the grey suit, was thin but had the body of a dancer, stylish and entirely too rythmic in his movements as if every step could have been the first in a tango exited next before walking up to the embassy, his guard staying by the vehicle. His voice should have been smooth, latin and libido enhancing. It wasn't. It was a concert.

“We are expected. We realize it is quite short notice. There is no time for formality.”

Then the expected voice, that said in a certain latin fashion that the buck stopped here and in a natural tone that could melt certain human females hearts at fifty yards.

“Lead on”

Sol, M3

Within the traffic jammed double disc of M3s free port and just a few minutes walk from the morass of freight transhipment hubs and the endless landing grids a diner sat amongst hundreds of other such establishments. Marco Panarez screamed career commercial spacer at anyone who looked at him. He sat on a port side diners tall counter seat shoving mass after heaped mass of noodles into himself in a swift fashion that no one could call pleasant to look at. His mutton chopped cheeks bulging like a squirrels above his now tight neon puce freighter crew vest that just about covered a growing gut thankfully held in more by his ship suit than by any actual musculature. An over built set of arms and thick fingers belied the speed his left hand's digits danced over a data pad held upright against a chromed serviette holder. The right spun a fork entirely at too much speed to leave his person unmarred by the thick gravy the long noodles were drenched in.

All of this activity was carefully synchronised in an almost xen like series of poses while condiments were considered and megatons of freight allocated. In the background the news feeds blared “And good morning megacity three! Welcome to another fine balmy twenty eight Celsius morning in the earthlight!, Im Carl Mc’vale and this is my co-host Prince Sorv, we are speaking to you live from Songons Sweet creations this fine morning!, the sweetest sucrose in the system, thanks to our sponsors Songon for all your sugary needs! this is citywatch!” A jingle began to play only to suddenly be cut off.

Distracted it was all the more explosive then when as Marcos pad suddenly had every freighter go red with “No announced departure time” his noodle filled cheeks rapidly emptied and covered the pad, table and the thankfully empty diner seat opposite of him in the half masticated morass. His was not the only reaction of consternation as moments later the huge wedges of exterior doors could be seen blocking off the earthlight that was the open freeports near constant companion. Advertisement displays flashed to something far more ordered as neat lines formed out of the seeming chaos of the normal citizenry, holograms dancing in perfect synchronicity now rather than competition as city overrides tripped. From nearly every city drone the strident authoritative voice of the city itself spoke.

“This is a civil defense test, please make your way to the core shelters on your pre assigned and monitored routes. Privacy rules are in abeyance, you are now being actively monitored, please leave all non-essential personal belongings at their present location and proceed to the city core. Noncompliance is a felony offence. “


Outside the station was no different as freighters and barges were guided into parking loops that grew every more full for the first time since the last test nearly a decade ago the crackling sphere of the over shield flared into existence and the cities constant repeated voice changed from its script.


“ At the present time a civil defence test is under way, all docking is off limits, please follow the course changes being routed to you at this time. Warning you are entering a very high traffic area, please maintain your planned course and profile at all times, violators will be taken under city gravitic control and placed into a secure orbit . You have now entered the metropolitan traffic control regulatory area, all star drives must be locked down and accelerations must be under .3 G or 450 kilometres per hour relative to station core unless an exemption is issued, please notify central before commencing burn. “


Back in the diner after wiping himself down however Marco was staring not just at his short term financial losses but at the neat sigiled marker that chased him from where he presumed he was going in the core shelter to a almost empty Int-Sec landing grid, a small grim shuttle surrounded by half a dozen service scutters and a single all in public blacks agent complete with wrap arounds waiting idly propped up against it. The fact that the agent was female and seemingly had a case of fangirlism did not help his disposition, the tiding that he was once more in service not going down overly well.

“Major Panarez I can say it’s a pleasure to meet you sir! I read all of your reports and we've got your full kit ready to go”

Reactivated. And two days from his Birthday. Oh .. and this was going to be a long flight.

Luytens

If drive signatures had been noise then Luytens was raucous almost to deafening with them on a quiet day. Hundreds of thousands of tiny ore processors and tugs, tens of thousands of barges, refineries, manufactures and the low strum of the exotic matter forges deep within the stellar links between the super flare star primary and its sister and the odd thump of mega freighter or deep shot rip drives.

Now something else was making “noise”, the tone far deeper, more vast and louder than even the mega freighters multiple stacked drives tearing at space. There was only one drive cone scale in the entire ZMSF roster that had that signature and normally they were started once every few years at most and even then to low output. Now they positively roared, drowning out entire active super dreadnought squadrons.

It looked for all the universe like a giant toy rocket with towers and turrets tacked on its flanks, huge angular fins to the rear and a pair of giant gun pods astride its center line. The scale off putting till the streams of personnel shuttles could be seen entering a bay large enough to house cruiser squadrons, the tens of thousands of hazard markings, lights, bays, transport links, cable trusses all now running to near full with an endless series of missile tubes and bulk supplies. The LSD exposed spider’s web of gantry arms on their own massed more than many warships entire and though they usually were cold and dark they were moving now with purpose around the vessels hull.

Far further out from the massive deep tones however something very small indeed by the scale of starships was being prepared with haste, a mil spec superluminal tug hovering nearby as hundreds of engineers and precision engineering scutters all pulled and pushed equipment into a lozenge shaped object that seemed entirely too small for the amount of equipment being rammed into it.

Red telephone

There was a short garbled moment of noise then a short synthesized overly upbeat and barely military fanfare before a merry voice in obvious record responded “MiliCom is presently receiving an above average number of high level calls, they are being processed as they arrive, please standby for routing, your international crisis and response to it are important to us and our citizens and we value your interest in our” a moment of silence then a voice. A choir of voices. That specific not quite human affair that only one group spoke of in the incorporated stat.

As of twenty three hours ago the strategic strike platform Charybdis deviated from its orders. This was not notable for a further sixteen hours. We have been informed from personal correspondence that the captain wishes to make a demonstration in some form. The correspondence was not entirely parseable. Given the platforms enhanced payload, capabilities and in order to maintain public order we have not made this popular or public knowledge. Further the capability to suborn a SI vessel of her specific tasking is something we find most disturbing. We at the present time have no further data on how that was accomplished. We are assembling series devices personally and a team rendezvous with in theatre assets. An effort is underway to create a joint mission with the Oyada given their platforms performance. In this instance to insure that you are fully aware of the efforts we place into this situation we are open to a mission observer.
Last edited by Zepplin Manufacturers on Thu Oct 22, 2015 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
What are you going to do? Assemble a cabinet at them?!
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Scolopendra
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Scolopendra » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:05 pm

Dusty red telephone

"Understood. Thank you for your consideration, and please stand by for the arrival of Analyst Aston Jamsheed. By the by, where would you like him?"

Not even proper adversaries--merely competitors.

*-*-*

The answer, 'by the by,' was--

Luyten's Star
8.6 light years from Sol


In a way that would come as a surprise to no interested parties because the proper advance notice was given, first there was empty space in a clear traffic control volume and then there was a sleek gull-winged Loki-class... JumpShip, technically, since she was fitted with a faster-than-light drive. That was the Triumvirate's advantage; the Concordat could get places silently if they wanted but the Triumvirate could get places nigh-instantly if they were willing to scramble tesseracts. The short range kept this from being one of those cases, and the ship dropped without fanfare or drive flare towards its intended destination. Its aft end glowed, but that was a function of acting as a heat sink more than anything else.

After clearance, landing, and other such niceties were sufficiently abbreviated and expedited, the end result remained that square-jawed, blue-eyed, black-haired, and can't-really-place-the-origin-hued Jamsheed appeared at the appointed place at the appointed time. He did his best not to look lost in his conservatively formal yet sleekly utilitarian navy blue sport coat and trousers. His white button-up shirt ended with a mid-height collar held fast with a simple black button-cover. All perfectly reasonable civilian wear and, to be honest, his preference over the orange--yes, orange!--plastron'd intelligence version of the standard Triumvirate double-breasted Class As. Orange, of all things--and in that he'd have to wear his standard issue particle projection pistol on his hip rather than concealed in a shoulder holster. And he'd have to wear a hat, which would do nothing for his executive-level hair. He had always been sensitive about that.

"Analyst Jamsheed, ah... Triumvirate of Yut Special Services," he introduced himself to whomever appeared assigned to listen. While maybe not everyone were friends, here, the competition was at least temporarily suspended. He should at least be that honest.

*-*-*

TYCS Stratnet
Ground Floor


The NIGHTMARE moon--a chunk of rock in hydrostatic equilibrium orbiting a rogue planet in deep space--remained the official emergency nerve center of the TYCS, but that was mostly a ruse. Ever since the Psychadelic Christmas Tree was replaced with the Glow Cloud in the wake of the Time Hole Incident, the Combined Services had moved from a centralized command-and-control system to a decentralized network. The centralized planning remained in the individuals involved, but modern telepresence and NEENJA meant they didn't have to be centrally located by any means. With the galaxy remaining a hard place even in the peace following the Ardan Cold War, the Ticks happily invested in survivability. This latest foul-up only justified their decision to do so.

As such, the distributed analysis of ZMDF movements only continued to confirm the search hypothesis, Gestalt admission notwithstanding. No one had seen Explosion Justice truly light up before, and those particular VOYEUR spy sats saw their feeds multiply exponentially while everyone crowded for a virtual seat.

Top [Secret] Conference Room

"Should we not alert the civilian populace?" Sky Marshal Walks-With-Pride grumbled, folding his furred hands as his naked tail lashed behind him.

"We've alerted the relevant governments," Bondayehr replied, his officer's cap pulled down over his eyes as he sat slouched back in his chair. "I think we've also advised them to take no civil defense actions that aren't actively defensive."

"Hrr." Walks-With-Pride knew as well as everyone else that if Charybdis was armed with what WarWANCC thought she was, civil defense bunkers wouldn't matter. "It is only a matter of time before news of the Zepplin mobilization gets out. It will be obvious when its Sol assets begin to move."

"Which is why if we call for civil defense drills, there will be panic. The Cold War's been over for years, Pride--people aren't used to them anymore, and this time, they'd know it was for real. Doubly so thanks to things like the Overdub Incident. Local leaders will know their populations better and take appropriate action."

"What about your populations?"

Bondayehr shrugged very slightly. "Kekkosmaa will look after itself. I hope. If it doesn't, I'll pull rank and call for an actual alert. Civil defense bunkers for everyone. If Mars gets shattered, there's at least a possibility people will survive long enough in the bunkers to be rescued."

The kzintosh responsible for the Coreward Theatre furrowed his brow and drummed his fingers on his orange-lit portion of desk. The color coordination was coincidental. "You are very phlegmatic about this."

The red-lit man shrugged again. "What else can I do? We can't detect the thing, unless SensorWANCC pulls a rabbit out of its hat. The best we can hope for is that interdiction and point defense work well enough so not everybody dies and we get enough bearings from incoming fire to interdict Charybdis then vaporize it. 'Not everybody dying' has been our strategic contingency plan ever since Bright Morning, and that will be successful. The colonies are so scattered, the Periphery so vast, that someone is going to make it out alive. Anything we manage to do right just pushes us more towards an optimal solution."

Walks-With-Pride sighed. "Have you ever been told your fatalism can grow grating?"

"All the time. You, Nathi, Naiya, Shodey, my consort, my kids..."
Idealism at All Costs! . . . Welcome to the Segments, the happiest libertarian socialist nationalists you'll ever meet.
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Roania
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Ex-Nation

Postby Roania » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:18 pm

4th Watch: Hall of the Dragon, Imperial Palace



"Ah, Admiral." The Emperor greeted Ying Pin warmly from his throne when they reconvened. The Emperor had evidently had some tea and some food, and seemed far more upbeat and alert. This was good. Ying Pin approved alertness in his inferiors. And his superiors. Of course. The Emperor had freshened up his appearance and found a proper holder for his hair. Yes. Perfect. "We apologize for our rudeness earlier. Your question was apropos, and a man who has served our family for as long and as well as you have may be excused much. Therefore, we humbly ask your forgiveness, and your recognition that no charges against your name are considered."

"This humble servant is ever grateful for his master's notice, and would not dream of forgiving where no fault was made. Nor is it within his power to forgive the Lord of Ten Thousand Years." And Ying Pin took the knee, as expected, and in that moment catalogued the room. Four guards visible. Eight, no... ten guards not visible. The Emperor was armed. He could see the barrel hanging idly at the young master's side. Of course, in this chamber the Emperor could strike him down a thousand ways without the guard being needed. Good. That was as it should be. A man should be armed.

The Imperial Consort was smiling blearily at him from her own throne. No. Not good. If she was present, the master would listen to weakness when the situation needed strength. Could he ask her to be sent away? Yes. Would he survive? Unknown. Not worth risking. Change in tack. At receiving the nod, Ying rose and bowed deeply. "This humble servant has fulfilled the mission placed in his charge. Ships have been seconded, and commanding officers for an expeditionary squadron have been selected. After I have received confirmation, I will meet the Captain and dispatch him post-haste."

The Emperor closed his eyes, and raised one hand to the side of his head. "Of course. Our orders, then. The Captain is to locate the vessel known as the... Incorporated State Armed Starship..." He tried his mouth around the letters a few more times, glanced at something by his side, and took a slow, deep breath. "Qa... ri... bed... is. Where they come up with these names..." His wife put her hand on his shoulder, and he focussed once more. "Having located it, he is to secure the vessel and provide assistance to the legitimate authorities when and if they choose to reclaim it."

"Great and Merciful Majesty, Lord of Ten Thousand Years..." And the admiral bowed low. "These are excellent orders, and I will see to it they are carried out with the full effort of all your servants. But I must ask. What are they permitted to do in order to secure the vessel? This Charybdis" And he bowed to hide his smile, "that has caused us so much trouble, and stolen the very sleep of our master and his lady?" Ying Pin kept bowing, back and forth. "Surely you should provide them with a rescript, that they may know that they act with your authority, when and if it should be necessary?"

"I found Beloved Husband's orders to be most clear, Venerable Sir. Surely if I, an ignorant woman, may understand..." The Consort spoke for the first time, covering her lips to hide a yawn. "Then the rest of Beloved Husband's servants would grasp them with a fullness beyond my own? Trouble has been wrought this way in the past, and as I have been woken to provide counsel, I feel I must."

"We must agree with our wife, Retired Admiral." The Emperor shook his head. "We see no reason to provide a rescript. Our orders will suffice."

Confound that woman. He knew his business, and he didn't need some spicy little girl getting in his way. "Honorable and Beautiful Mistress, I mean no harm to the Realm, and I mean no disrespect to my Master, whose every word is, after all, truth!" Another series of bows, in her direction. "I am only suggesting that as we do cannot know what condition we will find the Charybdis in, or in whose hands, and in what circumstances, it might be wise if the good Captain could act on his own initiative, rather than be forced to retreat to a point where he could await communication with this world."

"O-oh." The Consort looked to the Sovereign, and he looked back at her. Ying wondered what communication was going on in that stare. But he did his best to keep his expression blank when the Consort rose and took the knee to him. "Forgive me. I am but a woman, and I have no knowledge of such things. I meant no disrespect, Venerable Sir."

"I am always able and willing to forgive the small trespasses of youth, and the vanishing trespasses of my glorious Mistress Upon the Phoenix Throne. Do not trouble yourself on my account, please." And oh, he felt generous anyway.

There was the sound of a gong, and the Emperor rose to his feet with a quickly, but perfectly, calligraphed paper, with the seal affixed at the bottom. "Here. Take this, and let us hear no more of this nonsense until our men have succeeded. We put our faith in you, Retired Admiral. Serve the Realm well, and we will give you ample reward."

Once he had the precious rescript in hand, Admiral Ying Pin bowed and left as quickly as he could. He had ships to dispatch.


Pinnacle I Station, Imperial Special Operations Shuttle Dock

"You understand your orders implicitly, Captain Sele?" The Retired Admiral leaned on his cane, the rescript in his other hand. "Repeat them back to me."

"Yessir! I am taking command of Task Force Jin-Li, consisting of four Pattern Shong-Qin pattern cruisers! These Cruisers have been modified to include a new power source that allows for heavier fire and greater scanning range! My mission is to find and secure for Legitimate Imperial Authority the renegade Vessel Charybdis! I have authority to act as needed to ensure the vessel is secured and all hostiles on board exterminated! To this end each ship in my command has been allocated a double marine detachment, sir!" Sele Calahyr took a breath, than continued. "All ships that interfere with the capture of the Renegade Vessel, whatever their origins, are to be treated as hostile! If one of my ships looks likely to be captured, I am to destroy it! These are my received orders, sir! I comprehend, and will obey!"

Ying Pin nodded, and unrolled the rescript one last time. "And by what authority have I given you these orders?"

"Sir! The Imperial Rescript you possess gives you full power to issue whatever orders may be necessary to secure the Renegade Vessel for Legitimate Authority!" The young man saluted, and then bowed low.

"Excellent. Then be off with you. And remember, you serve the Sovereign of the galaxy. Show the barbarians what a true Naval Officer looks like!"
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Oyada
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Father Knows Best State

Postby Oyada » Fri Oct 23, 2015 5:47 pm

Jimass!” The screamed command was audible clearly from the far end of the embassy's long corridor, its effect electric, the two soldiers coming to rigid attention with near-automatic exactitude. Its issuer was a ferociously short sergeant-major with the uncanny ability to know everything that went on at once anywhere near the embassy building. “Gezaiki!

The long rifles, topped with equally unpleasant-looking bayonets, came up to before each man's face and hovered as the veteran NCO approached, giving the unusual delegate a short bow. He paused a few yards from the ambassador, stood to equally ramrod attention, and swept the long sword that hung at his side from its scabbard with a suitable flourish, holding its tip at an angle ideal to strike a man in the throat with a quick thrust. Drill manuals were written for such a man, and he replaced the sword, having ceremonially lowered it from its guard position, with an audible snap, following up with another, deeper bow to boot, and bellowed another command to the two soldiers flanking him. Only then did he speak to the diplomats.

“You are expected, sirs. Follow.” With that, not bothering to check if they were actually doing so, he led on at a brisk clip, boots thudding unmelodiously on the hard stone floor. A quick trip through the twisting corridors of the embassy building, up three flights of stairs and through a set of double cypress doors purloined from a demolished palace back home, and the delegation reached its destination: the rather spartan quarters of Nemura Kizioki, in calm repose behind his polished and resplendently neo-roccoco desk. His dark eyes, slightly too closely-set to be considered anything other than “attentive”, watched the arrivals with care, a mental habit he had assiduously cultivated all his life. That care extended to the smooth shave he gave his slightly jowly cheeks every morning, the precision with which he dabbed at his small mouth with an immaculate linen napkin, the exacting cut of the greying clump of fine hair he still sported on his spotted scalp, and the immaculately pressed creases in his wide trousers, for he preferred the traditional diplomatic garb to modern suits. Every item on his desk lay either parallel or perpendicular, his diplomat's sword hung with its tip and its pommel exactly in line above the overhanging “pagoda” fireplace; even the two generously plump leather chairs that waited for his guests were facing the desk with laser-guided precision. Only Nemura's head seemed out of place; his wide face, coupled to his narrow-set eyes and the slight accumulation of sagging flesh caused by his sixty-six years, gave him a natural expression of concern quite out of place against his calm mind. He rose smoothly from the chair and issued a respectful bow at the appropriate angle, gesturing for the two to be seated, and smiled with as cold a warmth as anyone had ever managed.

“A pleasure to see you, exalted representatives of the Incorporated State. My staff inform me that your purpose here can be described as 'grave', and that the assistance of the Empire may prove beneficial. Indeed, the communication you provided suggested that...” Nemura paused to retrieve his spectacles from a drawer, purely an affectation though they were, and an unseen button called up the message before him. “... 'the consequences of this matter remaining unaddressed are likely to be dire'.” The message's text vanished and he proceeded without pause for response, clasping his fattening hands gently together in a show of not wholly insincere sincerity. “I am, of course, unlikely to be able to make any commitment without the appropriate consultation with the government of the Empire and the Imperial house. Nevertheless, I remain your most obedient servant. In what manner may we assist?”



“They can be of no assistance at all,” came the grim reply. “I-881 was on outer picket duty some distance away. Her position put Noor itself between the boat and whatever I-1068 picked up. The other boat, I-317, was suffering a major electrical fault at the time, since partly rectified. We've diverted her tender to assist, but she'll need to exit the area first.”

There was a brief pause before the Commander in Chief of the 3rd Fleet replied, during which the tall, gnarled old officer pinched the brown of his hooked nose, fingering a small scar left many years earlier by shrapnel. “A fucking electrical fault? This is a joke, Captain, I hope.”

The Captain winced internally but stood his ground. “No joke, sir. I-317 is old, and records show maintenance has been deferred. Her captain sought to have a number of items rectified on her last docking, but higher-priority work took precedent in the docks.”

“Is that not typical,” the Admiral grunted, looking at his Personal Assistant with apologetic irritation. “Very well. I suppose I'd better let this... Inaba, was it?”

“Idama, sir,” the Captain supplied smoothly, Commander Idama Mizhimun.” His file's--”

“I've read it. Career subspace, outspoken, aggressive, always after action. Could be a wild goose chase.” The Admiral looked at the younger man questioningly, and the Captain felt obliged to supply.
“It may, sir, but if I might be bold, I'd say that the succeeding activity suggests that something interesting is going on. Perhaps a test of a new variant on the Maelstrom design, although I'd say the mobilisation pattern is odd. What does HQ think, sir?”

“HQ doesn't think,” the Admiral growled, “it talks. I think it's as suspicious as a keiti at the beach. I'm sending out orders to the rest of the fleet. SubDiv 6 will be ordered to monitor Noor until further notice. As for Idama, I suppose he'd better have his chance to go hunting.” The Admiral softened his tone a little, pausing as he found himself once again standing by the gin decanter, near-automatically reaching for the crystal glasses. “Drink?”

“Lime, no ice, if you wouldn't mind, sir,” the Captain replied, grateful for the dissipating tension. He took the momentarily provided glass and nodded. “Your health, sir.” The gin sank warmly into his stomach and sank warm tentacles into both their brains. “I read his file. Interesting man. Middle-of-the-road at the Academy, nothing particularly special, never really stood out. Once he was put on a boat, he was transformed. Promoted to command in under three years, excelled in every exercise, won awards for the state of the boat he commanded.”

“As if he was waiting for something,” the Admiral responded quietly. “Or made for it.”
Last edited by Oyada on Fri Oct 23, 2015 5:59 pm, edited 2 times 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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Zepplin Manufacturers
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Ex-Nation

Postby Zepplin Manufacturers » Sat Oct 31, 2015 3:30 pm

Thirty Six years previously Priean IV, Ostwed Range, Valley 57

It was on the day he realised he loved her or at least as close to what he thought was love. .

“Okay ..here” her voice weak in the wind. Sarah’s dull brown plastic thermal cloak whispered in the wind as she pointed toward the next rise of rocks, her lithe little body that did things to his thoughts at night in the endless crouch needed to keep below the line of bushes.

The shriek of rockets, mortars and the dull hiss as the council's imported lasers was nearly continuous for three days. Machine made mud coated everything, a cold heat sapping slime that ate a body's energy with every footfall, the upland valleys wind scoured geography lifeless save for the odd sprout of still active terraforming quick bushes. His lower body was constantly itchy in the cheap wool like synthetic, the upper always slightly too cold, the worn click rifle long gone for the synthetic inertic ring equipped monstrosity he lugged now.

The pride of the council's imported trio of aerial gun ships had turned what should have been a short easy strike against a supply caravan into a torturous three day retreat. A bloody slog where both sides on the ground had been bogged down by the endless rain and mud, the wreckage of the light colonial vehicles and there outsized wheels dotting the horizon.

He was cold tired and hungry when she sought him out, her hands full with half dozen cheap canteens that once had colorful happy markings on them. “Go get some damn refils from the pipeline” . He nodded barely able to bring himself to speak with the weariness that stole the thought of anything but warmth and a meal from him as he staggered into the evening towards the nearest water pipe.

When he was just out of earshot of the squad, hunched over the wrist thick little pipe that fed the excuse for a forest they were surrounded by, his multi tool open to try and get the valve to release he heard the voice.

“Nice weather you have here kid. Should be able to help you with that at least. ”

He spun so fast he fell, one hand for a moment struggling to get to his gun before he saw in the twilight the man who spoke. He was to say the least out of place. A neat suit, shined shoes and that face. There was something about that face. He knew it from somewhere but he just couldn't and now he felt ..warm. The wind cut off in silence, warmth filling the area. Hand still scrabbling for the straps of his mass driver. He stuttered out

“What sort of council born hellspite are you?!”

The man's voice was smooth and practiced. Too smooth like oil floating atop water.

“Isn't that a hell of a way to greet someone with an offer to help”

He felt tired. Suddenly he could barely move. He could barely whisper out a startled “What ?”

“Oh don’t worry kid. You won't remember any of this until we need to call in a favour. But really the important thing right now is we always do something for a price, boss does not approve of slavery, no siree. So ..what do you want?”

“what the hell do you mean?”

“What do you want most in life? I mean we're going to ask you to do a lot when we do ask.”

“what sort of crap filled” He hissed as a sharp pain jabbed one wrist, his gun flopping uselessly as he slowly sat down. He saw nothing.

“now now no need to let our lexicons dip into the darker recesses. Be serious. What ..do you want?”

His whisper was angry.

“I want the gods damn council in the grave, I want my people free and I want to see the stars with my own eyes now let me go or kill me!”

The man nodded and smiled as he seemed to listen to something only he could hear.

“Thanks kid. Oh don’t worry about your squad missing you. That last mortar got them.”

Three days later a cometary fragment that somehow the automated sky watch failed to spot would slam into Morisette township itself. He would remember nothing about what he said until now. He remembered the shock. There was no one to liberate. No one to rush to save, only the scattered rebels and remains of the council's patrol forces and a paltry few tech workers still doing there jobs. In the four months before the next scheduled tramp freighter and the weeks before the rescue craft would arrive nearly a third of them would succumb.

Charybdis

Now he remembered he couldn't speak about it. Something stopped him just as he had stopped Charybdis. What was worse is the memory of the hillside was fresh as was that of his memory for her, as if a chunk of his youth had just been pasted into the now.

“Fourteen mili axials to sidereal”

His XO, a squat martian woman her ship suit tight with musculature and a voice that was more gravel than feminine indicated the plot.

“Seems clear enough”

He nodded and flipped down the privacy field around them and the plot.

“Hrm.. display Vastik”

“Jesus skip you don't ask much do you, it's not as if anyone can see us!”

“Best crew and ship in the fleet. We should be able to do it. Let’s see just how good a boat this is.”

On the plot lay a binary black hole, the grav waves displayed weren't just deep they could tear apart worlds and indeed had.

“Gods Skip I thought threading the needle once in a life was bad enough”

“Charib?”

“If a Maelstrom can do it ..well so can I”

The privacy field vanished, the tessellated air going once more clear, his voice now echoed throughout the ship.

“All hands .. rig for the needle”

The Oyadin Embassy

The voice was once again overly smooth, the hint of romance languages in phrase, no chorus just the man who very much looked far too comfortable and relaxed given the environment, well manicured expressive hands gently gesturing at every word.

“Inigo Cardozo, member of the Gestalt, a most welcoming room ambassador but we have not time for being pleasant yes?”

A diagram spun up out of midair assembling in neat hovering lines, a longer fatter maelstrom its forward and rear arrays strange and fluted.

“She is the Charybdis. You will be familiar with her rough layout but the drive ..The drive is something new, a development to counter our friends in the Trium before there next set of toys are rolled out. She is ..almost untraceable. She also is missing and carrying enough warheads to devastate half a dozen worlds or utterly destroy one. A weapon of first or last and most final strike.”
A paper thin data slate was proffered to the desks surface with a smooth motion that screamed dance.

“The Maelstroms are we know large, slow and noisy in comparison to your own craft. An approach of brute force. They serve. Charybdis she is not so slow. She is an elegant solution. Unique, lead vessel. Our craft in the environment cannot keep up to her cruising speed much less her dash. You’re most imperial majesties space forces certainly can and have far more navigational data in the arena in question.”

A spreading map of the galaxy with highlighted possible routes appears before geopolitical outlines haze it.

“She both must not fall into unfriendly hands and it must be proven we are not behind her actions, retrieval would be preferred but destruction likely. We cannot accomplish this alone.”

Finally a stubby cigar appears, the scale showing it to be barely 20 meters long appears, it is festooned with strange arrays and equipment.

“We ask of you the carrying of a ..craft by one of your faster ships. We have prepared a vessel based on a design created for rescues in such an environment and a most unusual tracker in Lutyens. She can carry a small group specialists yes? And she is to dock unnoticed by Charybdis, here on the aft missile tube four. It is empty. Your vessel can carry one piggy back, we have simulated everything, her own drive can balance out the issues of stress and torsion and she has a truly universal docking collar. In this matter our interests align as we would not wish such a vessel to fall into unsafe hands. However to prove this is not some machination or worse”

A face appeared.

“Aston Jamsheed—A reasonably skilled trium analyst on of all things us. He would stay aboard the rescue ship at all times to observe proceedings but not ..technical detail and never aboard your actual combat craft, the drive she is a sealed unit on our most humble small craft”

The display evaporates with a languid wave of a hand. Now the voice is chorus. Definitively other.

“This is what we ask of your nation and sovereign ambassador. We do so humbly, here coming to you, the outcome possibly for billions placed into your hands. we have little time.”

Luytens

Perdition city was a crowded underground mess just one quite small step away from becoming a megacity and dominated by the long patrol and huge civilian endeavors. Jardin base buried in a mountain range half a burnt atmosphere less world away from it wasn't. It was ZMSF clean, mil spec scutters dancing around even the arrivals hall in neat lines as half a hundred spacers sat over to one side there officers trying in semi vain to corralling them to near the half a dozen happy happy food dispensers. Jamsheeds “incoming” gate was only expecting him and a neat grey scutter with the word “baggage handler” prominently stenciled on it offered one hand upwards.

The woman who greeted Jamsheed looked like her body was out of a catalogue. That’s because it was. The neat ZMSF ship suit a tight fit over assets and curves that didn't look quite right on a working spacer, nor did the prominent INT-SEC logo or the dagger like vessel with “things” that was on her ship flash. Her voice was a constant machine gun of commentary without a breadth, after all she didn't need to.

“Pleased to meet you mister special services. I’m the Trending to Rimward, Captain expects the spud ship Im due to haul you in and the co-ordinates to meet up with our Oyadin friends in a few hours so here's the familiarization package”

A thin flimsy was proffered.

“Oh and don’t comment on how Major Panarez looks when you meet him, bad accident with a disintegrator rifle left him locked in an infil get up a few years back, took him out of the field save for things like this. Oh you want to get an ice ripple?best damn thing about this shell is the taste buds, I tell you other ships don’t know what they're missing out on, best damn purchase Ive made in twenty years! I should probably take you over to the other dispensers, Oh no offence don’t want you mixing with my crew as much as you look like a nice young man. Don’t want them getting attached you know? Oh well, you want pineapple or Roanian peach? Oh don’t worry I’m buying ”


Long Patrol Halo Probe, Marcelo System

The dull glinting lump of metal noted the arrival, heavy scanning and departure of four high performance Roanian cruisers with the same non sentient disinterest it did everything. Passing a certain threshold it unfolded its quite limited communications relay. By the time the light speed limited message had reached Marcelos single overworked patrol boat, an under gunned over legged little system craft lacking a transit drive and its happy happy foods insta caf chugging six man mining dispute pestered crew and be relayed on it would be six hours later.

A very Milicom nowhere in particular

The “voices” were more base communications and fast codes, packets of data and analytics then speech.

“Wait, back one.”

“No profile match”

“Better to send this up the line then”

This voice however was a chorus

“It already has been.”

Nowhere in Particular

“Unexpected”

“They are not actively defending themselves but instead sending out one squadron?”

“Higher output”

“Very rapid between jumps for them”

“Trying to burn through?”

“Could it work?”

“There systems are sufficiently exotic that it is remotely possible and most probable if she were in a launch or high speed posture”

“Extrapolate a networked system of craft in the Roanian fleet in worst case next generation, flooding an area with exotics”

“Unfortunate.”

“To be considered. Extrapolating. Add fourteen percent more funding to Coriolis to cover this issue, estimated launch date pushed back another two years.”

“Allocated.”

“Public feedback on the deterrent after this instance?”

“Even with deployment on an inhabited world containing a meg Citizen Shareholder baseline will still be fifty eight to sixty three percent positive, our history does not allow for ..lack of it”

“And externally?”

“Limited extrapolation, simply too many factors in this instance”

“The may have come to the same conclusion as the trium but do not care to disperse given the exterior threat.”

“Certainly faster than we are used to seeing them move”

“No other sightings.”

“None outside there known fleet formations, they rarely until this date permit independent commands outside there claimed borders.”

“Instruct Gession to make inquiries, there admiralty is not known for its lack of personal greed and there intentions should be known.”
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Scolopendra
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Scolopendra » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:34 am

Luytens

"Greetings, Starship." Aston smiled, quietly and respectfully subtly appreciated the view with no particular concern towards the fact that it wasn't 'real,' and accepted the flimsy. "I'm sure they're going to be positively ecstatic that I'm coming along. Probably doubly so if my real origin is admitted." He flipped through a few pages while listening to the avatar's no-breathing zero-punctuation style. "Fully understood on the no-mixing. Between riding in yet-another-FTL-space in the spud, that spud being attached to a ship filled with people who'd as soon see me dead as drinking tea, and the spud chasing down what it's chasing down... yeah, attachment would be unfair. There are enough ladies--and, admittedly, the occasional man--who'd already mourn the loss of such a dashing figure."

He grinned, albeit from behind closed lips as per the usual al-Halishi Scolopendran heritage. He was no Magnus Hesche, but that didn't keep him from trying to emulate his boyhood hero when the situation seemed appropriate. "So, yeah. Since I can get pineapple anywhere, let's go with the Roanian peach, even if it's not the most politically cognizant thing to opt for nowadays."

Between barely rated for field operations, being a mere analyst, and an analyst specializing in a competitor that no one really considered a military threat--not out of lack of ability, just lack of motive--Jamsheed never expected to go on an adventure like this. Okay, so all in all having some ice lollies with a starship wasn't really that big a deal anymore... but it was a high-speed intel starship. That had to count for something. Maybe. It'd at least be a story to tell around the canteen if he made it back.

He ignored how sobering that thought was. If he couldn't laugh in the face of danger--and he couldn't--then he could at least put a brave face on it.
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Midlonia
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Ex-Nation

Postby Midlonia » Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:40 pm

The Midlonians had gone into one of those piques of needed quiet. It was an odd thing that waved in and out of their national psyche every so often, this had largely come about thanks to the previously stored up problems that had been ongoing in Rephidium and Durghanistan. Places that in the previous five years had barely been dealt with, the need to rebuild, reducate and integrate the new arrivals into the slowly rexpanding Midlonian state had taken longer to implement than many had though possible. This had kept their focus a little more earth bound than its diplomatic overtures had really been stating it would do.

Those who had fought the Midlonian state before should usually fear it when it went this quiet. Too quiet.

The simple fact was the Greater Kingdom had gone nearly dark to all but a few of its close and personal allies during the time when the uncertainty of the wider world had increased, because typically when that uncertainty is abound it also means one thing.

People are distracted.

MIRA had been devastated in the wake of the Pheonix plot and had taken a further beating when the revelations of the survivors of said plot had set up shop again elsewhere conducting unethical experiments on human beings in an effort to create the perfect super soldier.

There was also the interviews of those captured and notes, reams of data carefully gathered by those people that something was supposedly out there. Waiting, watching.

Many people misunderstood the Greater Kingdom. The simple reality was that it had expanded several times and each time it had found a civilization greater than itself.

Or more accurately, the remains of such a civilization. Over and over again a people greater than itself struck down to the point that it was now believed that the reason reality was cracked was precisely because of what those people had done. Had been capable of.

So, the underlying core of the Midlonian State was not just expansion, it was the quietly held belief, never spoken in louder than a whisper than by more than a select few, of control and saving as many people as they possibly could.

But in order to do that it needed information and for all the fancy gadgetry and toys that ZMI and TYCS tried to bring to bear, for all the obsessive staring into space to track movements of ships information was much easier to find from the invisible people. The ones nobody noticed or cared to notice.

That is what the Midlonians had done quietly on the side during their silent times. Rebuild the human or sentient side of their intelligence placing eyes and ears in the locations they needed and sending out runners when they needed to.

MIRA itself knew a number of them were either unaware of their roles, or fully aware. They knew that counter intelligence agents were keeping half an eye on some of their assets and in turns the runners and agents were ensuring that the chess pieces always moved slightly, keeping the actual important people, the ones who could analyse it just out of reach of any counter intelligence people that might be running.

It also helped to play each state’s own ideology against the other, to figure out who would be best suited to become an invisible person. There were after all, billions of them out there, often just faces and moving bodies in the background, performing those tasks that always had to be done.

The cleaner at the Oyadan embassy which noticed the high profile man with hands that had never seen actual work in all his life walk past for a meeting, the Happy Happy Foods Inc seller who lingered for just that second or two too long supposedly finishing off the hourly profit report when the alarm was called and saw the shuttle pick up a diner owner.

Those ones were easy, profit mattered. The Oyadan found his pay a little heavier the next day and could indulge himself in those extra bottles of sake, it wasn’t like the crap he told them was actually important or anything. How could a poncy man in a suit be useful information? Whatever, money was money even if it was from a kieti foreigner.

The Seller could report his hourly takings for the next week would see in increase of 120% above what was expected and no doubt secure him a promotion in the near future.

The Radiant Empire was a different kettle of fish. Honour ruled the day, family honour. The right pressure applied where it was needed in order to find out what was what. A relatively young member of a smaller house found himself faced with enough evidence to ensure that not only would he likely wind up dead but a number of his family too with the more paranoid attitude from the palace as well as the recent instability wrought by the Sarian attack…which had already lead to a quiet purging... a previously loyal house construed as traitors? Even if it wasn’t true it was certainly deadly and all that really needed to happen was the whispering in the correct ear to start the seed, to germinate until it eventually built into an avalanche.

In exchange for that silence… all he had to do was report the comings and goings of various individuals of importance. Otherwise he simply continued as normal, guarding, performing tasks.

Again, blended into the background. Never noticed, never really paid any mind by the truly important.

It made them invaluable. It also meant that the Greater Kingdom understood that something was going awry among its allies and those it found itself having to keep an eye on;

There had been weird movements among the Roanian fleet, a sudden mobilization of what equated to a small flotilla had been launched with next to no warning.

There had been strange movements and an unannounced drill on M3, to the point that everything had supposedly been tested, right down to safety systems and other things that had barely been checked by human hands and eyes since the place was built.

On top of this, members of the Gestalt had been seen out and active with the Oyadans and that had coupled itself with a near full scale mobilization of the ZMDSF.

The Midlonians had not made any such movements, remaining instead to sit back a little and observe what was going on. More agents and their runners suddenly found themselves tasked with travelling about, air and space miles were being racked up for this one.

The Kingdom itself merely started setting some of its own units to a state of readiness. The Mainland Divisions celestial arm was quietly ordered to stand to, and some of its ships found themselves ordered from their regular patrol patterns into marshaling zones.

Whatever had gotten those around it spooked it wouldn't be caught unguarded, after all.
Last edited by Midlonia on Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Oyada
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Father Knows Best State

Postby Oyada » Mon Nov 02, 2015 9:09 pm

Nemura studied the diagram intently, while his brain chewed over the overlarge morsel it had just been rather forcibly fed. Dancing figures and curious terms outside his comprehension danced next to the strange splines sitting squat and purposeful at the ends of her hull, and Nemura's blank face took them in not in the slightest, revealed nothing either, while he sniffed the chill air for the trap he suspected. Another part considered the reaction of their Lordships in blue and understood instantly that it would be one if utter and implacable opposition; the transfer of the subspace engine had been a diplomatic triumph, but he'd had his fair share of sleepless nights while the Navy had rumbled its discontent, and quiet words had been passed regarding the reach of its arm, and its strength. For a while, he and Naska had slept in shifts, and seldom had he been more reassured by the sight of her slight but irresistibly determined presence sat in the corner, carbine across her legs, watching over him.

The Gestalt, whose nature made his spirit shudder and his brain grind abominably, would know all that, he hoped. Still, it couldn't hurt to make the point clear. That was his duty.

“It is, of course, grave news that you bring, and all the more so for the problem it poses. I am no seaman, but I realise that this Charybdis is a most dangerous weapon in any hands – excluding, of course, the proper ones,” Nemura smoothly said, all mellifluousness. “The Empire will doubtless have cause for thanks in light of your honesty. I will relay this request to the appropriate authorities, with my remarks, as rapidly as I am able. However,” he continued, in the same maddeningly smooth tones, close-spaced eyes giving away nothing and seeing past the representative (though not exactly through it) “I should warn you that my government, and more specifically, the Imperial navy, will be extremely loath to accept this, this... interloper from the Triumvirate having any part in an effort to retake your ship in which the Navy is involved. I will emphasise your desire that this be solved urgently, but I cannot promise any action unless that hurdle is overcome or bypassed.” Nemura seemed almost to reset, a pleasantly meaningless smile returning to his sagging face. “Is there any further service I might perform?”



“Subspace dome self-test complete. Again.” Petty Officer Railey chewed a cigarette's filter irritably. “No faults detected. Unless he wants us to take the entire damn set apart--”

Fimukhi held up a pacifying hand and heaved his multiplying bulk from his padded seat, retrieving his pipe as he padded to the bridge and appeared before Idama's chair with the air of an old retainer.

“Well?” Idama demanded.

“Sensors are working perfectly, Captain. That ship simply disappeared, from her coordinates on the dome to light-sees-where-and-when else.”

“Ships do not simply disappear, CSO, and we both know it,” Idama growled sourly, garnering a shrug from Fimukhi.

“That's perfectly true, but so is what we just saw and heard.” Fimukhi sucked on the pipe thoughtfully. “My guess is that what hit us was the wash of something new and powerful. Perhaps a combined jump and subspace engine, one capable of causing minimal disturbances to surrounding space while propelling her unusually quickly.”

“Hrng. Their engines are our engines,” Idama mused, nodding slowly, and rose. “Coffee?”

“Tea, please. Sir.” Remembering rank was such a damn nuisance when there was work to do, Fimukhi thought in the back of his mind. “In any case, Railey and his station crew are manning Station Two now. Full sensor capability has been restored.”

“Good.” Idama's jaw hung in an expansive yawn. “I'll be turning in in an hour; I'll brief Maie, but if you want to add anything to it, feel free.” He rubbed at his sandblown eyes, handing Fimukhi a steaming mug from the dispenser mounted unobtrusively on the bulkhead, and chuckled. “”We'll go soft with all these luxuries.”

Fimukhi shrugged again, sipping contentedly at the scalding-hot liquid. “Promotes greater efficiency. Tired people miss things, after all.”

Idama snorted. “That a hint, CSO?”

“It is, sir.”

“Fair enough,” the young officer admitted. “But in an hour, we'll both sleep like winners.”

They parted ways at the bridge, Fimukhi slipping back into his shadowed compartment, propping his pipe on a small stand and sliding the headphones onto his ears, contented. He was getting older; sleep was becoming less of a necessity. Indeed, listening to the audio output was almost relaxing. The strange void outside the hull and its protectively projected field was presumably silent, but the emulators interpreted its strange electromagnetic noise as sighs, whistles, roars, groans, chips and clicks; Fimukhi pressed the button and closed his eyes, the displays disappearing, and listened to the sound of waves rolling unconcernedly against the boundless shore.

Railey caught a glance at the CSO and jabbed a thumb, grinning, to his station crew. But Fimukhi's unknowing expression of peace was marred already by a frown. The CSO reached to the emulator controls and cycled them a few times, restarting them to clear their buffers; then he tried adjusting the gain controls, switching in and out the frequency isolators. Railey pointed his crew back to their displays. The old boy would doubtless... yep, there we are. Fimukhi had tapped his arm, and Railey removed his headphones expectantly.

“Chief?”

“Hand me yours,” Fimukhi said simply, and his frown only deepened as he listened through Railey's set, handing them back after a moment and leaning in close.

“Don't you hear that,” Fimukhi hissed, voice barely distinct from the sussurating swish of the ventilation and the cooling fans; “that tolling?”

“Aye, Chief,” Railey nodded, “but I don't know what it is. You know how that stuff out there can sound; sometimes I wonder why they... well, you know what I mean, Chief,” he explained, awkwardly avoiding saying what he thought was coming. “The computers called it interstitial noise, so...” He turned up his hands.

“Railey,” Fimukhi replied, quieter still: “I've served on these boats since before I was your age. I've spent twice your lifetime listening to subspace. Subspace doesn't sound like that.” He cracked a slow smile. “Our friend didn't disappear. He made something, changed something, did something, that made 'that stuff out there' ring, like a bell at the dawn prayer.” He turned to the displays that dominated the walls and brought up the amplitude displays, narrowing the gain cone and sweeping as the soft, dolorous sound emerged again from the low roar of subspace, and two-thirds of the way through an arc he found it, the sweet spot where that unknowable emanation was ever so slightly stronger, a few per cent at most that translated into just a few decibels, an extra, almost invisible peak on the display. Fimukhi reached for his pipe and bit the stem, satisfied, and called the bridge.

“Bridge, sensor. I think we have something, sir. Our friend may not be entirely invisible after all.”
Last edited by Oyada on Mon Nov 02, 2015 9:18 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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Zepplin Manufacturers
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Ex-Nation

Postby Zepplin Manufacturers » Thu Nov 12, 2015 8:14 am

Thirty five years previously

ColDep had arrived. The dumpy looking refugee transports and rescue craft that had collected the remnant of the colonies inhabitants had been in bright happy primary colors with cartoonish mascots explaining functions on nearly every easy clean safe for impact internal surface. Overly robust cabin fittings that were so far from what he and the others had been used to that he had cried watching children playing with the simple appliances. The feeling of constantly being warm, full and clean was a dream, clothing that was actually comfortable, the constant bustle of medics and counseling staff the only distraction from being able to rest for the first time in years.

The contrast between the perfectly blue skies, tree filled communal atriums of the ColDep depot island base on Azure and ash filled air, mud and slime covered landscape of the colony was a still a shock every time he walked outside. In the distance the constant rhythm of the sea was a new constant to his days. The discovery that he could actually sit down and simply read his insatiable need to know burning in him. Driving him. At first during the initial months the councilors had seen it has a coping mechanism, a retreat from confronting reality but when his academic achievements had started steadily climbing others had noticed as he completed self-study course after course. First had been the academic and business offers. He had refused those. Then he finally got the offer he wanted, that unlike the others he had actively applied for.

The man who stalked through the happy halls of the ColDep center did not seem to belong there. His grim midnight black uniform stood out from the councilor’s random assembly of civilian clothes, wool knitwear and disarray and from the occasional white coated medic. The decorations on this man on the other hand were harsh, geometric, and simple, the cap soft and the obvious neck ring of a pressure retention field emitter and the nodes of a spacers suit visible in pockets and clasps that were only slightly hidden by cunning perfectly straight folds of fabric.

“Mister Kamenev?, Im senior chief spacer Pollard”

The hand that was proffered was surprisingly fine for such a bulky man, the accent was harsh, not from Azure, the words swift, the grip steady but not abusively strong, the next question was direct, the gimleted eyes dancing into his, for all the testing, reports and monitoring still looking to judge in the oldest fashion.

“You want to seek service lad?”

Six years later, Jarl Port, Academy block II, Luytens.


The brassy sound of the band echoed around the multi cruiser berth scaled general bay that contained the academies three ancient dagger flight three training ships in one corner. In the other most of the staff, graduates and morass of family and friends in a trio of stands around the perfect square of new graduates. The deprivations of youth long gone under treatments, the uniform now form fitting was midnight grey, tight, and memory materials mimicking a harsh high starch as the cadets became officers.

His eyes weren’t on the crowd though, there was no one there for him. No he was driven by the thought of his assignment. No highly sought after cruiser berth or patrol posting, thankfully not being sent planet ward to the endless bureaucracy of the fleet but instead simply a report to a numbered transport ship to Noor base for further instructions. The reverberation through the deck as the rest of the cadets rose and threw their hats roof ward broke him from his reverie as he joined them.

Charybdis

The room was a cascade of displays in neat regimented arrays above and around each spacer, there shock pods in recliner mode. The air however visibly clear was thick with stress.

The multi meter thick deck of the citadel groaned for a moment before steadying out to the dull hum, the crew nearly absolutely silent as the navigation plot unfolded over head with lines and numbers, the nightmare bulk of the two great orbs of the binary black holes dominating it. The marker showing the ships location lining up to pass between the two, its possible vectors a great ghostly cone torturously dancing between the roiling dips and curvatures that the spinning masses not in a straight line but through off in concentric rings till they could catapult between the slowly pulsing ridges.

“Wave eta peak has been passed, next waypoint twelve point eight six to sidereal and rising rapidly, and entry to sidereal wave theta”

Charibdis’s voice was as strong and vibrant as it always was, betraying nothing of what she really thought, the XOs on the other hand was slightly strained.

“Mark, six minutes to waypoint.”

His voice however was cool “Precompute, for flank transit.”

His XO turned to him for a moment her eyes widening as overhead Charybdis responded “Course now indicated, increased threat factor by thirty four percent, still within tolerance Captain.”

Kamenev’s smile was thin.

“Start the run. Flank speed.”


Luytens

Her hands danced around the peach ice cream, the perfect wafer still emitting the smell of being freshly prepared as she handed one to him in an economy of movement that very few organics could, and that also clearly screamed that no matter how well built the shell was Trending to Rimward really didn’t care to mimic all the failings or limits of an organic form save for certain aesthetic components.

“Oh look who it is, slow coach”

Walking through the arrivals gate the man looked as far from proper military material as possible, the garish puce commercial spacers suit stretched over a more than rotund body but a very well styled moustache. He however did not move at a slouch or like a fat man, it was all action, the eyes rolling around the concourse like ball bearings in a pudding mixer before settling on the pair by the vending machines. As he rounded the seating a set of scutters carrying a number of small black cases could be seen.

“Marco Panarez, OpSection…and thought I was retired Trendy.” A wide motion indicated his girth.

Trendings face lit up as if a child in a sweet store.

“Oh now Polo don’t be like that, after all if this nice man has to see an Op Section face in action it might as well be one we all know love and don’t mind them doing the same and after all I know you always wanted to go out on a high note and after all we’ve been through.”

One of her hands had snaked across his left shoulder and in a most intimate manner at that last pronouncement, one lip pushed forward as fingers danced in one of Marcos ears. He looked roof ward for a moment visibly trying to count before one hand was offered

“You must be mister Jamsheed, the observer, you must forgive Trendy and I, we’ve known each other for too long and she’s a terrible damn tease.”

The Oyadin Embassy

Inigo nodded before seemingly removing a midnight black box from inside his suit where moments before there had been apparently nothing, his voice now his alone.

“Perhaps we can act to give payment for services rendered to render your space services cries of less interest than they would normally be given how other services would benefit “

A thin disc was proffered and slid onto both the metaphorical and quite real side table, on it a simple intsec code designation and its eye logo inset alogn with dire warnings for its misuse, an adaptor already attached for interacting with Oyadin data systems.

“Like all sales people, a sample, consider it gratis for our uncouth imposition upon your time and for the required abruptness of action necessary. To see if it interests your agencies enough to consider it of interest to pursue this operation for more full and of course real time access to the source points for their own perusal. It has been some time but two eyes are after all better than one.”

Somewhere else

“Pleased to meet you hope you guessed my name”

The thing glittering in the space between stars was an amalgamation of early space craft sections and a strange dark glass that shimmered as if not quite there. It was also vast by the standards of a starship. A dozen far more modern craft were now docked or patrolling its periphery, there engine sections lopped off and replaced with the light devouring substances that seemed to make up the bulk of the morass at the heart of all this activity. All them seem to have been restyled. New additions and removals made.

Within a grand hall. It was a strange minimalist gothic inspired space, made from the dark glass and chrome material for the most part but the floor of the dirty grey tiles of reprocessed lunar regolith. Overhead the strange stars visible as was the galactic disc face on, cases set into its walls glimmering slightly with strange collections of contents. The shining form of the featureless obsidian orbs hovered in two neat lines overhead.

It was almost empty of life save for the garishly dressed lithe red haired woman standing in front of a monolithic smoke black table that a single suited individual sat at the head of, arms crossed as he took it all in, his suit impeccable if of older style, a neat straight red tie in a complex knot surmounting a pristine white creaseless shirt beneath hair style that screamed control and that also carried more than a little stigma in the incorporated state. Beside her another person stood at attention, massively over muscled and augmented, huge ablative plates inserted visibly just under the skin, a rictus of silent struggle on his face.

Her voice was sultry and melody filled, something to warm the libido “So that’s the situation on Windsung boss, another week or so and we should have control of the depot again”.

The voice that responded came from the seat man. It grated to sound emotional as if it was an effort to do so, as if the matter brought up was an errant fly to be swatted as cold eyes stared on.

“I was quite sure I intended for it to be on the Hakaris head the blame fell it did indeed lead back to two of my cells to be, note Kaverston, mine, not yours or the lovely Maries. None the less you did well to improvise Marie, after Kaverston here failed me. And coming to that..”

There was a dull click and the male whose eyes had darted to and fro dropped to the floor, still unable to move as his body fell slowly apart into dust one slow layer at a time, a hidden beam projector overhead taking its toll upon him, not even a hint of fluid or a single whisper permitted to escape its remorseless passage.

“Insure you inform the next Hakari head of how his predecessors ..tool ended up. A full sensory recording will be on record on your clippers systems before you depart”

Controlling a shudder and trying to avoid looking at the disintegrating soon to be corpse beside her she responded.

“Ah boss they still don’t ah they find it hard to accept that ah, well you know it took me a while to ah you know accept”

She shrugged to encapsulate the entire room.

He laughed. It wasn’t a pretty sound and it took a great deal of her willpower not to shudder at the sound of it. The voice that followed was strangely hollow and instantly memorable to nearly any citizen of the incorporated state.

“Oh ..don’t worry Marie. By the time I'm sure everyone will know I’m back, oh do be a dear and send in Maki when you leave.”

“Yes boss”

He made a shooing motion with one hand before going back to staring into the depths of the desks hidden displays.

Marie Sere, effective head of three star systems worth of organized crime syndicates, a person whom power and its application was a family tradition for six generations and who could at a whim order any one of tens of thousands of operatives to there or someone else’s doom shook uncontrollably as she heard the overly embossed door close behind her and inwardly cursed the day her clipper had come across a single floating black orb.

As she walked past she noted her long time competitor from six systems over sitting in the hall contemplating his own hands she pointed inwards. “He’s expecting you Maki”.

The man who looked up had almost no hope left in his eyes.
Last edited by Zepplin Manufacturers on Thu Nov 12, 2015 8:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Scolopendra
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Scolopendra » Thu Nov 12, 2015 11:41 am

Luytens

"Hmmpf," Aston replied in a distinct combination of pleased, dismissive, and apologetic sounds as he freed up the correct hand to return Mr. Panarez' gesture. He hadn't given the ice cream any opportunity to melt. Risking a touch of brain freeze in rapidly enjoying the peach confection, he managed to swallow and clear the way for speaking. "Indeed, Mister Panarez. I'm your duly assigned third wheel."

It hurt a little to be the observer, the supervisor, the guy in the back who obviously wasn't adding value. Or, in Aston's mind, at least considered as such. Still, these people had to know their ship better than he did. Maybe he wouldn't be so useful. He may as well own it. "No forgiveness required. I'm fully aware how such working relationships can emerge." He grinned winningly from behind closed lips as was the usual Scolopendran fashion, and left it as an exercise for the observer whether 'working' or 'relationship' was the operative word of his statement. "Not to sound impatient, but when are we setting off? There's a boomer out there that we need to find, and I'd better start hitting the books if I'm to be any help at all on this hunt."
Idealism at All Costs! . . . Welcome to the Segments, the happiest libertarian socialist nationalists you'll ever meet.
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Roania
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Ex-Nation

Postby Roania » Fri Nov 13, 2015 1:01 pm

Sele Calahyr leaned back in his command chair as the data from his flotilla swirled over his head. Eyes half-lidded, nostrils flared, he listened to the reports with one ear. "Yan must spread his net farther to the north if we we wish to catch this fish. Inform him of my wishes." And it was done. "Nmmr must move to the south and west to pick the slack. Aang, steady." There were ghosts in the sensors, as there were everywhere. The galaxy was very large, but the capabilities of even the finest of barbarian engines could not travel everywhere, and no one could do it near instantly. The bandits would fall into his hands soon enough and be slain, and their mysteries would be his to deliver to the Admiral. His name would be on all lips as a hero. Which was as it should be. He was a member of the Sele clan! Named after the greatest Prince of them all! Descended from the First Emperor! This coup would return his family to its rightful place. At the top.

It had been so close before. And then that blasted black creature and his pathetic half-woman of a lover had slain the heroic Duke Calahyr, while the Empress had been helpless to do more than exile the accursed one. Revenge had been years in the making... restoration, years more. And yet, here it was.

"Ah, Jao Selawan, you are fortunate." He whispered to the girl sitting as primly as she could when nearly naked in his lap. He had ordered all the Seers to lose their all-concealing robes upon taking command. It was common knowledge that their mysterious connections to the Crystal were founded on their fertility and beauty, and in a mission as urgent as this there needed to be nothing more than the bare minimum between them and their charges. That they were all comely, fair and dependent on the good will of the captains? This was a plus.

"Honorable Captain, I hardly feel fortunate. My masters will hear of your orders." Selawan protested, her words pitched to his ear alone. "I have told you this a hundred times, and yet every day you insist on this... display." Her words were so quiet that the helmsman five feet away did not hear her, but her feelings led to the man briefly looking up.

Calahyr's hand tightened on his Seer, and the other man looked back to his data. "I believe my results, our results, will speak for themselves. Do you deny that you feel the essence of the worlds more?" Calahyr brushed her long blue hair away from her eyes with his free hand and looked into them. He knew his eyes shone with power, lust and control. And he could see her subjugation and obedience in hers. "We are on a mission. You have been given all my orders, as is the custom, and you know how crucial every advantage is. Do you think I have you like this solely because it is what I desire?"

"You have me sit with you and upon you. What is the meaning of that, if you are so minded by your need to serve our Lord?" But her eyes looked down, even as her small hands tightened. "I have no intent of giving myself to a man while on my duty. And less to you. This seems an act with no reason. I will not deny that the energy is stronger. I can feel my sisters in their ships, I can feel the lives of your men... I feel much that I cannot put into words, that can only be known between us and our crystals... and I feel it all stronger than I would were I cloaked in my uniform. But modesty and the regulations would have me in my Haven, not... not like this."

He reached up and tweaked her tiny nose slightly. "That's just because I wish to possess you, and wish to keep you safe from the men while I do. And do not tell me that the Seers are always as modest as that. I'm no more a fool than you, darling." The look of pure venom she gave him made it all worthwhile. And he squeezed her shoulder when she surrendered and fell back into her position as his temporary pet. "Forget me, though. Forget your body. Forget the hand that serves only to hold you steady. Your soul is what is most important now. I need it. The Realm needs it. See for me. Where are they?"

With a long suffering sigh, Selewan closed her eyes and outstretched her arms.

For fifteen minutes, there was silence. And as clever as Calahyr had thought he was, the statue on his lap was becoming more an impediment than an object of desire. Regular orders had to be given, and his men were having treacherous grins about his choice of accessory as they came and went.

Then her eyes snapped open, a blue-green light illuminating them. "I am union. I am we. And we see them. Dimly. We know them not. We see them. They move swiftly. We know not where. They are not close. They are not far. We see them." As she spoke, her body began to shudder and shake, and when she had finished speaking, those movements had not. They grew more powerful and determined, and the way she climbed him and the way she pressed her lithe figure were all a joy. "We see it! The ship! It goes so fast! But why! Who is at the helm?" This was a pleasant thing... until the movements became less of a woman experiencing pleasure and more of a woman having a serious stroke. "Him. We see him. We see him. His purpose. What purpose? No, we cannot look that far... but it shines like a star... I... we cannot... I have looked too far... seen too long... the union is..." and with a sudden, final spasm the girl crumpled up against him, eyes locked close.

Force Commander, navigational data and estimates are being entered into the system now. Estimate a 55% chance that we will arrive in time to apprehend. Every minute, these odds will alter in our quarry's favor. A jump now would be advised.

Sele glanced at the crumpled girl in his arms. "The seers. What is their condition?"

Seers Alanidree and Sien have stable vital signs but are unconscious. Seer Ma has been bought to her vessel's medical bay as having serious internal trauma. Regeneration is expected within the day. Seer Jao has suffered internal recursion. Recovery within the next two hours is likely, provided that no further strain is met.

"Captain, we have the data we need, and we are disengaging the safeties on the key and preparing to force a transference. Your orders?" Down below the green spires began to glow, and the visual sensors shut off one by one.

This could all be over soon. But bringing an unconscious seer through the transference... or even through the crystal space... was a good way to have something else wake up instead of her. With four of them... the mission didn't need that. The Captain sighed. "Belay that order. We know where he was, and when we get there conventional sensors will tell us where he's gone. Get the Seers that can be moved to their Havens... no, I'll bring Miss Jao down myself. Regulations apply, after all. Computer, shields up. Disengage drives."

The beautiful rounded curves of the girl in his hands weighed nothing. This made sense, though. Without her, this body was an empty shell. He walked down the stairs to the waiting crystal, which still spun endlessly, and then past it to the sealed Haven only he, and the girl, could enter. "Good job." He said to no one in particular. "A very good job. We cannot take him now, but we have the tools and knowledge to do so soon. And then... it will fall into place." Calahyr lay Selewan on her low cot and gave himself a moment more to look at her without her protest.

Yes, he had no choice. If he wanted to break her... if he wanted to have her as part of his coming victory... then this was the right call. "Sleep. And when you awake, Selawan... you will help me in my service once more. This I promise." He touched his finger to his lip, and touched the finger to the girl's left breast. "For the Lord, for the Admiral and for House Sele."
Last edited by Roania on Fri Nov 13, 2015 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Oyada
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Father Knows Best State

Postby Oyada » Wed Nov 25, 2015 7:49 pm

Maie Uigen, I-1068's Executive Officer, padded around the glowing top of the display the took up the centre of the boat's bridge; a glowing projection, the hallowed “plot”, danced in primary colours above its glassy surface, with Maie's serious eyes studying from all angles, his hand around his chin. The bridge crew worked in stonily respectful silence around him, slipping unobtrusively from his path as he paced, brooding.

The plot showed a clear, bright, crimson line, prominently marked with data points, fine at its base and widening into a fuzzy-rimmed cone at its terminus: their quarry's anticipated position lay somewhere on that line, if the sensor stations were correct. Over the first five hours of his watch, that line had marched steadily and purposefully outward from its origins, the sensor crews' data being fed to the plotting computers lurking deep within I-1068's hull and reappearing, transsubstantiated, on the plotting display. Maie prodded a couple of buttons and examined their own track in more detail, noting the shallow zigzags spread at irregular, untidy intervals along their otherwise steady progress; the moments where the trail had wavered, and the boat had sniffed eagerly for her quarry among the strange emanations of their unnatural element, corkscrewing, turning left and right, pitching diligently until her instruments found fresh scent to follow. From around half-way along, of course, the line was no longer a track, but an extrapolation, a prediction of where their target should end up, if he continued his present course, and where he could be going without showing his hand to their instruments. That clear, brilliant line disintegrated into a dense clutter of possibilities, a cone of vagueness.

For fifteen minutes or so, Maie had pondered the line he had highlighted. Consultation with Fimukhi had merely confirmed that the CSO remained taciturn, but sure of his equipment, his people, and himself; there was no mistake about where the track data pointed, merely uncertainty as to what lay beyond them. Not helpful was the fact that the trail grew fainter as their quarry drew ahead of them in the weird aether; moving too rapidly through subspace tended to disrupt the minute disturbances they sought to follow, and worse, it carried the very real risk of running into the interdimensional presence of something big. Planets tended to hurt; where, when, and however you hit them.

Not helping Maie's pensiveness, then, was the fact that the brightest, strongest prediction of all passed straight between a pair of celestial bodies so massive they bent pretty much everything else around them. Threading the needle between the two black holes was possible, of course: given an accurate enough set of data regarding his surroundings, a precise speedometer, and a reasonable stopwatch, he wouldn't be averse to piloting a fighter blindfold through a canyon. That, however, was a canyon made from rock and bound by the dictates of physics he knew and understood well enough to get by. It was not passing through the indescribable fields of an unknowably vast object projected in an incomprehensible medium. That was quite a different matter. But that track was damned bright, and worse, the plot overlays repeated what he already knew: it was a known Zep transit route, nicknamed Zep Zoom One by some alliterative wit, a high-speed test of nerve, shiphandling, and the ship herself.. The fact it often shook off any unwanted pursuers was an uncomfortably useful bonus.

The plot flashed briefly; another datum had been added, and with its addition, the line grew brighter yet, the cone narrowed fractionally, and another point was solemnly placed astern of the small teadrop representing I-1068. Maie pulled out a cigarette, lit up, and exhaled thoughtfully. He would set things in motion, see how the run went, and then inform Idama. “Spinner?”

Kureio approached the plot, his mind visibly already at work, though his eyes remained fixed on the instruments before him. “Sir?”

“”Set us up to thread the needle. Here, between the two singularities. Full ahead. Do we have the charts?”

“Mmm-hmm.” Kureio gripped the pencil between his teeth all the tighter, withdrawing it to reveal a fresh set of bite marks and examining it, apparently slightly puzzled as to their origin. “It'll be a tight fit, but we can do it. Having said that, sir, I wonder if we should not go around. Those fields are incredibly strong. They'd turn us into moji if we stray into them too far, and at full speed we could have a margin of under thirty seconds.”

If we go around we lose time. If we lose time we lose proximity. If we lose proximity, we're too likely to lose the track.” Maie pointed at the projection, the cigarette's glowing tip shedding ash on the expensive complex of cutting-edge computers. “Can we do it?”

“Please, sir,” Kureio said quietly, affront audible in his restrained precision, visible in his polite half-smile. “Given an accurate clock, accurate speed measurements, and an accurate knowledge of what's around me, I can walk a six-inch plate over a six-mile drop in a night as black as this uniform. It's dangerous, but perfectly possible. Simple mathematics.”

“Simple to you, perhaps,” Maie chuckled. “How soon can you have us ready to go in?”

“Five minutes or so, sir, plus another five to triple-check everything.”

“See to it. I'll inform the Captain once we start the run.”

As Maie disposed of the dead cigarette's tip and poured forth another mug of the boat's foul instant coffee, I-1068 bent her course toward the duo of black holes, picking up speed, the gentle whine of her turbine plant rising in pitch and amplitude as the field generators began working overtime. Kureio would get them through, of course, Maie thought. He just wanted to be sure. Still, he didn't want to make an enemy of the navigator. He would have a word with him later. Meanwhile, Maie plonked himself into the Captain's chair and thumbed an interphone switch, speaking with his customary softness.

“All hands, this is the Executive Officer. We are continuing our pursuit of this stranger. To catch him, we must thread the needle – pass between two black holes. For those of you aboard who have not performed this trick, it may seem unnerving. I am assured, however, that there is nothing to concern us, apart from the possibility of being turned into a fine paste. If this happens, be warned that the Purser will dock pay according to duration of duties missed.”

Well, the bridge crew found it funny, at least, Maie mused, and pressed another switch. “Sensor, bridge. We'll be entering the needle's eye shortly. I suggest you cover your ears.”
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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Oyada
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Father Knows Best State

Postby Oyada » Sat Dec 12, 2015 9:26 pm

Idama appeared on the bridge, slightly dishevelled but otherwise essentially functional, and watched the plot in mesmerised fascination as the coruscating spheres of the two black holes seemed to bear down on his tiny craft, their gargantuan gravity and almost incomprehensible mass making enormous whorls and swirling, shapeless eddies in the very fabric of subspace. Beneath his feet, in the palm of his hand, I-1068 trembled with unaccustomed violence as she plunged between their invisible grasps. He greeted Maie with an economical nod and a slight approximation of a salute.

“Any problems?”

“None, so far.” Maie sounded slightly more thoughtful than usual, but that was about as much as he'd reveal. “I thought you'd appreciate being on the bridge for the traverse, sir. If you want to get some more rest, I can take care of--” Maie's sentence was cut off by an almighty shudder that ran the length of I-1068's slender frames, setting him clutching at the plotting display for support.

Across the small chamber came a growling snap from the Master. “Damn you to the dark, helm, keep her on the fucking course!” As she shivered anew, I-1068 altered her course and her keel, slipping out of the worst of the crushing gravity that impinged on her element. Nobody was quite sure what would happen to a boat that became caught in the gravity well while remaining in subspace; nobody wanted to find out, either. The best guess anyone had come up with so far was that, since objects in realspace affected the fabric of subspace, to enter a singularity in subspace would be to invite being spread across the dimension like jam across a buttered roll.

Idama grinned thinly, dry lips riding on his teeth, abruptly parched. “Nerves,” he remarked quietly, aiming to hide his own.

“Hard to blame them,” Maie observed, in what Idama thought a frankly strangely conversational manner. “Even by our standards, this is a little hairy.” Maie made an unhurried sweep of the bridge, satisfying himself that all was under control, and extricated a cigarette from the crumpled pack inhabiting his jacket pocket. “We're running at full ahead; Kureio gives us a transit of two hours, twenty-seven minutes.

“Full?” Idama frowned. “Too slow, XO; too slow. We don't want to risk losing him. We need to run this at flank.” He was bouncing on his heels, resisting the urge to pace, restive in his stillness. “And I suppose I need to sleep.” There was, mind, not too much guarantee of his being able to do so, but Maie could handle the transit perfectly well himself, and anyway, he was only a few paces from the bridge. Still, Idama was unlikely to sleep, and he knew it. He wouldn't rest until they were on top of their quarry or he had driven himself straight over the brink of exhaustion and into the twilit abyss of sleep deprivation. But he would try. He leaned closer to Maie, not quite whispering but not quite saying, “Have us transit at flank as soon as the corrections are made. I'm going to get some sleep; wake me if, well, y'know.” Yawning egregiously, Idama paced back off the bridge and left Maie to his work.

“Here there be tygers,” Maie chuckled at his commander's receding figure, and strolled to the perspiring Kureio, bent over the plot. “Spinner – the Captain wants us running this one at flank. How soon can you have it ready?”

Kureio's look told Maie that this was not, perhaps, the most welcome inquiry. But less than four minutes later, I-1068 accelerated to her maximum speed, weaving her way through the warping, weaving distortions of the two black holes, while Idama snored peacefully on his bunk.



Nemura eyed the disc sceptically, but stuffed it into the appropriate port nonetheless. Only years of practice enabled him to remain flat-faced on inspecting its contents; even so, his voice still emerged from a throat swiftly parched and only partly softened. “Yes, well... most interesting, I shall admit. However, it would be quite impossible for me to authorise such a decision myself,” he said plainly, and with relief. “I shall forward this information to the appropriate channels, but I can make no guarantees regarding my government's response.” He clasped his hands, actually sincere for once, and bowed slightly. “I am most apologetic, gentlemen, but it is so.”
Last edited by Oyada on Sat Dec 19, 2015 6:13 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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Postby Zepplin Manufacturers » Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:24 am

Rosette Nebula, Twenty two years previously Series IX Thermostellar Bomber 49 “Whoopsy daisy”

The Rosette was a roughly designated fifty light year diameter hellscape for navigation, a hotspot of cooling ionised plasma dotted with nearly twenty five hundred young and unstable stars and two monstrous O types at its core all five thousand lights from Sol. A breeding ground for illicit high energy harvesting and anti matter generating systems and projects, piracy and of course forces in evasion. It had also been found to be artificial. The hypger giant that had made its core had left tell tale traces, someone in the deep past had created this monster a few million years early when a light chaser had gone looking.

Whoops was tiny for a warship, smaller than a frigate but larger than a corvette. Unlike both those vessels it had only one purpose carried in the bulbous central munitions bay which was enfolded by a highly aerodynamic form, it made her seem more like an old blended wing ground to orbit shuttle than a craft that rode stellar prominences, as did her variable intakes and vectored out takes that looked more like rocketry than the delicate cones of drive field emitters. Her escorts, a pair of flight III Broadsword class modular destroyers broke off three jumps back, now when whoops jumped star to star it was far deeper than normal cheap commercial or even military craft. She was alone, her tiny crew of six left to carry on.

Most transit drive star craft the Incorporated State used jumped into the nightmarishly hot and energetic but thankfully relatively thin layer of stellar coronas, the drives harnessing the gravity incline and the surrounding free lunch of particles to give themselves a cheap jump to the next star. Series IX thermostellar bombers jumped into inside the photosphere, surrounded by trillions of tons of roiling fusing mass outside there complex fields, exotic reactors and intakes gulping star stuff and hurling out physical law altering effects that let her slide through almost unhindered.

Almost when talking about a stellar photosphere however is when compared to solid matter nearly everything.

Even with endlessly complex baffles in there suits and the crew capsule itself sitting inside a superfluid the ship did more than rumble. Here, in a bubble of organized matter behind fields that could have bent a dreadnoughts broadside you could hear the star stuff, and on occasion feel it. You could have almost taken it as turbulence in the world’s worst thunderstorm.

The voices were male save for one, and under the calm tone of tension and practice.

Royston “Thermal dump is at fourty, next dump pulse in six mikes, burners are clear"

Kamenev “two minutes till release, last checks on device good”

Paulson “up orient six deg, we are fourteen mil mil below surface.”

Kamenev “Confirm riser sierra papa one two as primary”

Boyle “Confirmed”

Royston “Dump underway, lase complete, next lase in seventeen”

Kamenev “Check again, grid four six to two eighty”

Boyle “System says confirmed”

Kamenev “Calling sys down, I have riser instability on six by four”

Paulson “Check sys”

Boyle “Sys looks all green”

Kamenev “Sharing op”

Pauslon “ Retarget Kamenev, Boyle kill system”

Boyle “System shows as good skip!”

Paulson “Confirm system kill”

Boyle “.. killed”

Kamenev “New target four by six eighty Upsilon two”

Paulson “ New course and target lock is complete, confirm last upload to device is good”

Royston “upload checks”

Kamenev “Master unlock opened, integrity and crew authentication are good”

Paulson “code key is authentic, target is confirmed on my mark… Mark”

Royston “Bay doors are retracting”

The crew always worried about this, the delicate flower like complexity of the fields protecting the IX class would dance and flare as the clamshells rotated, the star stuff devouring the space between the petals of fields instantly, the rumbling and buffeting increasing dramaticly. Finally the thing inside the bay looked like nothing more than a tear drop.

Boyle “six to drop fourteen till pop field stability is good”

Kamenev “Final confirm, Bomb are you good?”

Bomb “Bomb is aligned and ready to detonate”

Paulson “Drop”

It separated, fields dancing between the two craft as the doors delicately slid shut and for a moment they hung together before release, the stars gravity taking the no longer under thrust device under its grasp and hurling it downward. As it fell into the rising morass it separated, devices spinning outward, grasping, collapsed matter power cores used to harness vast sections of stellar mass to power even more manipulation.
Stellar engineering on the cheap dirty and quick kind occurred in brutal succession as Whoopsy vanished in a cascade of warped light and matter.
Moments later what would have merely been a planet sized riser become a monstrous prominence then a super flare of unusual properties ripped outward, cascading mass colliding and contorting in ways it should not, the light distorted by the presence of several billion microscopic exotic matter devices that were evaporating away as they operated. It blasted through the edge of the photo, chroma and magnetosphere in a thin arching line that betrayed its artificial nature, the harsh density and fields maintained for mere tenths of a second in some cases but still more than enough to turn a bubbling morass of star stuff into a lance reaching across a star system.

The illicit AM manufacturing plant sited sunward on the first planets had it presumed minutes of warning to shelter. It did absolutely no good as the flare instead of coning outwards grew narrower, lased into the ultra violet and a side of a world boiled in seconds instead. The resulting AM blast as containment failed outshining for a moment the young star itself and rendering the dead rock into a flare of white energetic hell and a trillion white hot shards that could have gutted a fleet spinning spaceward.
Last edited by Zepplin Manufacturers on Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Zepplin Manufacturers » Thu Jan 07, 2016 1:23 pm

The Oyadin Embassy

The voice that answered Nemura was the full concert now, harmonies melting together as it came from Inigo’s single frame as he rose in a neat and entirely too controlled and precise movement.

“It is an unfortunate reality of the hierarchical systems which bind us all in the raiment’s of civility and good rational governance ambassador, we will take our leave, please notify us as soon as you have parsed a response”.

The suited too suave form of Inigo was there again present, neatly presenting an open hand, a certain slackness in the movement showing the moment was gone.

“Thank you for your time Ambassador, it has been most pleasant but our role is never over.”

Luytens
It started with pops. Like falling rocks and a landslide it built as ship after ship transited out, task forces and squadrons hurling themselves outward till only the system patrol and one squat morass of vessels was left.

The transit drive rings on the EJ were massive enough that they could themselves be armoured rather than rely on external plates or louvres. They positively therefore leaked energy as they spun up to jump.

For just a moment the light from Luytens B blinked dark then haloed into rainbow as the great thrumming that dominated sensors blipped out of existence. It wasn’t a loud response, it was almost deafening as the mammoth transit drive array played its trick on reality and the object vanished outward, its trail more than potent enough to leave a massive real space track and almost quake of dancing distorted light, for a moment the massed field arrays and fields having been visible as it had powered up to jump showing some of the monstrous depth of capacity, her close escorts, battleships, cruisers, and destroyers all the heavily up armoured and in the somewhat overweight looking battle fleet configuration were barely audible as they too left reality for a brief jaunt elsewhere. EJ couldn’t and indeed was never designed to hide, but then it didn’t have to and in its drive cones massive output whole task forces could play.

Jardin Base
Trendings head angled over slightly as the sunlight filtering into the concourse dipped momentarily.

“Noisy damn old show off”

Marco’s response was somewhat dry “Now you don’t want to be too envious of the large, after all your slender waistline is what attracted so many spacers in the first place”

A manicured all to perfect synthetic right hand pushed Marco away with a blinking smile dancing across it as she addressed Jamsheed, the left hand pulling at her top

“Hrmph, well I suppose its time I showed Jamsheed the other body I pilot all day, and unlike this one I don’t need to wear clothing. Well most of the time..hmm ”

She glanced over at her crew and her smile took just a hint of malice.

“Time to dance the light fantastic”

Space time rippled as the transmat field reached out and grabbed the ball of space surrounding the crew men in rapid succession, the pops of the slight atmospheric pressure differences almost inaudible as her eyes tracked over them one by one.

A hand snaked around Jamsheed and Marco and her voice dropped a few octaves. “well ready to come aboard me you manly spacers” she then began sniggering as the trio vanished.

As the ball vanished they found themselves on an empty hanger deck, the warm air of the concourse disappearing in a moment into the chilled depths of it that her sniggers echoed out into. Its lines were clean and well kept, relatively small and unoccupied save for a morass of boxes, cans, struts, engines and what could only be called devices sitting on skids sitting apart from the stowed shuttles that were neatly slotted into the walls.

Arms unhooking she stared at the object with a look of displeasure.

“Ugh its just so damnably ugly, well Marco I hope you can fly the spud, now Jamsheed why don’t we leave our dear expert pilot here and I can show you do your quarters and you can get to your reading up.”
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Postby Scolopendra » Thu Jan 07, 2016 3:13 pm

Here and There

Aston allowed himself what the Magnus Hesche serials he grew up assured him was merely a thoroughly polite appreciation of the ship's teasing--after all, wasn't everyone involved a consenting adult?--with a easy close-lipped smirk. "Only with the lady's explicit permission, of course."

Then an inverse space wedgie he identified as a displacement happened, and the scenery changed to something a bit more utilitarian and used. While it didn't exactly surprise him in hindsight, this was the first time he'd heard of a starship, or at least of a shipmind, with body image issues.

"Oh, I don't know," he offered, putting his hands in his trouser pockets, "it has a sort of working charm to it. Reliable, stalwart, not at all fussy. You know all those ships of organically flowing shapes molded in plastic crack at the first bit of trouble, and while piano black, arctic white, and polished silver are all very trendy they collect dust and nicks like everything else and that just means loads of time wasted in buffing and polishing."

He had no idea what he was talking about. It sounded right, though, so that had to be good enough for him. "Please lead the way, ma'am, and I will follow."
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Postby Zepplin Manufacturers » Fri Jan 08, 2016 10:36 am

Trending to Rimward
The Trending's hanger bulkhead door was notably thick, marking her hull as that of a warship rather than “just” a starship and as they passed it the faint feeling of motion was present for almost a moment before it vanished.

Her general build seemed to say warship but the neat standard signage on equipment matched placement and duty of IS norms and were not quite marked ZMSF standard iconography or text, the noticeable massive INT-SEC logo embossed into the main hatch being a dead giveaway that things were not quite space forces regulation. The odd addition of a huge custom racks with dozens of docking adaptors, ports and types of suit notable in the vestibule. The detailing of civilian style soft interfaces alongside the standard hull alloy only metal nodes marked “CREW ONLY” and painted a brilliant orange, the general end finish bringing the comfort level up to more Yacht than just warship.

The corridors were neat, well kept, corporate and in simple primary colours, the crew moving in seemingly practiced motions, nodding as they passed, all notably in similar ware to Trending, and everywhere a mass of metallic scutters carrying packages, boxes, canisters or in some cases with mauve paint that had the legend “Galley” on it obviously bringing everything from sandwiches to what appeared to be a whole roast pigs head in a thin metallic foil that was emitting a trail of steam from a set of ports.

At its passing Trending had pointed “New crew member about to hit the big black for the first time. They have their little rituals”

They then came to an area that was clearly more silent with obvious noise cancellation

”Marco’s will be in the cabin just over from you, there’s a micro galley huddle room just at the end of the hall and that’s your closest escape pod access if we don’t have time to make it to the hanger, but I do hate having to pack up into mobile storage so don’t worry I will do my very best to insure you a calm voyage on my decks”

The cabin door slid open silently; it was reasonably spacious and well appointed, screaming more diplomatic staff or “executive” than normal crew space complete with a leather recliner.

Trending then took a familiar pose to those who had ever gone on any sort of commercial interstellar though her words were somewhat less formal and her tone much smoother and the list somewhat more detailed.

“Now the leg reqs” she pronounced it LegWreck in one mushed word.

“Survival torc in the drawer, always put it on first if the hazards are running or you hear something out of the ordinary, it will self-apply if things get non survivable. Resyk rating for sixteen days, goes straight to the blood stream so it does feel kind of funky I'm told, has meds in it to get around that, shock, coagulation, some rads, nausea and a basic audio interface for guidance in case of flash blindness.”

She flipped open the neat sink out of the side of the mirror to show a decidedly non standard med package.

“NBC tox pack here, put it to the chest and again just hit the button it will do the rest but don’t be surprised if it does an old fashioned quick infusion for most nasties, neurological shock weapon counter material pack is the blue one don’t take it until you’re really sure, it has some hellish come downs in around forty eight hours the pink one is for um things. Yeah lets call them things I don't like to dwell on as an SI built on a rational universal framework and that's one that I have near my main processing core too. If you're too out of it or off base the scutter will jab you or I will pump it through the overhead.”

Strapped underneath the sink a large can was pointed out.

“Counter self reps, multi vector parity checker included, if I don’t mist them from the main tankage you or the scutter cover yourself and anything else or stars forbid them if you see them, warning will be pretty clear.”

A small package pointed out on the sink, cheap almost card boxing around it.

“If you don’t already have them anti flash lenses here”

She moved over to a neat sliding door beside the shower unit and the closet hissed open. it was already quite full and of surprisingly large size, a clothing fabber notably present.

“Big ship suit is combat or hazard rated, hard suit overlays are in the huddle room as is the local pop gun storage, let the scutters help you into it if it’s called for, the thin one is standard ship wear under suit, clothing fabber is rigged to let you apply whatever you want over it or the combat suit at least cosmetically”

Her hands danced pulling each object out and in an infomercial like tone growing.

“Self-applying survival flash suit is the one in the silver package. Just hold it at chest and press the stud and your good up to 1500 C variance for a half hour and 49 Sieverts indefinitely, med ports right over the heart, put the tox pack there or a med unit. Just don’t expect it to be as sturdy as a real suit it’s not combat rated at all. Manoeuvring belt here, if you're not trained for it just let its system do the flying.”

The suits legs drawn back now to reveal the bottom of the closet.

“If your gek ware won’t grip, three spare spare sets of gek shoes in the closet too.”

Something was noticeably missing from a holder in the closet back, half a foot long and clearly with a pistol grip.

“Sorry no survival pop, can’t issue them to non-nationals during cruise, but I should be able to pick something up for you during mission and the scutters been upgraded to get you out. Cabin scutters should handle breaches and medical emergencies if you're immobilized or not anyway”

A hissing thin chromed disc hummed out and pirouetted a neat almost art deco arm before slotting itself away.

“Big breach patch kit is in the large case under your bed, if I'm out of it and the local dumb ship node is dead too hit the big clasp and it will self-deploy but only after you’ve put on the torc.”

She almost pirouetted as lights and screens filled the cabin until it appeared they were standing outside on the hull, the flashing lights of transit drive visible before it vanished.

“Full interface available if limited user privs” she finished and the cabin appeared and pointed to the ceiling.

“Oh and any questions just ask, and don’t worry I may be naughty and have to have a dumb node watch and listen but I don’t have to look or listen to you every moment unless you really want me to”

Pouted lips at that.

“Anyway scutter will guide to the main briefing room as soon as we have word from the Oyadins, were on course for Noor.”

A rough nav plot appeared as if there were a screen on one wall.

“I’m running smooth and normal should be there before you know it, oh and anything forward of frame fourty nine or rear of thirty two is non human compatible but there are a few doors and things that won't open for you without permission even in emergency, like flight deck B, or the CIC, no offence intended.”

Charybdis

She groaned, top notch brand new intertics, incredibly advanced synthetic materials, extensive field effects, superb design or not, the hull groaned.

Charybdis’s voice was as smooth and as emotionless as ever.

“Steady, holding at four point six to sidereal, wave gamma in four minutes, minor torsion events, no alarm is necessary”

Kamenev grasped his shock padded recliner with one hand carefully obscured from view as a physical vibration was felt before turning to his XO and in almost whisper “Wheres that resonance coming from, the inertics should squash it flat.”

“There having issue with keeping up with the local changes, nav believes the holes are in the middle of in taking something in the lunar scale of mass, it’s throwing out some extra ah turbulence sir, we're not seeing it till it hits us, were a good four bands higher than the maelstroms have ever been, we just cant see over the waves in time at this speed perhaps we could drop a little down..”

“No, we've plotted it and its in spec. Nav didn't spot this lunar mass because?”

“Non coherent, gas or plasma, erratic cloud, very dispersed”

“We shall just have to ride it out”

Another judder ran through.

Kamanevs voice rose, the PA button firmly now active.

“Well boys and girls now you get a little taste of what it used to be like in the bomber corps!”
Last edited by Zepplin Manufacturers on Fri Jan 08, 2016 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Scolopendra » Sat Jan 09, 2016 10:07 am

Agent Jamsheed simply followed at a polite distance and listened to the usual spacer flight briefing. The details were slightly different, because of course they would be, but the generalities of space travel are functionally universal: thinsuits, rapid-don oversuits, damage control equipment, so on and so forth. That he got better accommodations was a nice touch, he thought, though he hoped that it wouldn't cause too much friction with the crew he would have to work with.

Then again, he kept thinking to himself, I'm just the analyst. If everything goes the way it should, no one should ever really take any notice of me anyway. With this in mind, the intentional omission of a personal defense weapon didn't overly phase him. "Quite understandable, and one should hope that I wouldn't need it anyway. I don't plan to get up to anything too untoward, so watch me as much as you like."

He followed up the last with a lopsided smile. "After all, strange as it is for the Special Services, the name of my game here is 'transparency.' The more I act like a stereotypical Yut spy, the less useful I am for dealing with our larger... ah... mutual problem. All the better, because my first area of research is going to be rather probing." He caught himself. "Of the mutual problem, not present company. I'll need whatever your government is willing to give me on anyone on Charybdis with either launch or command authority, with special emphasis on SI access or skills. If we can figure out the rogue aboard the rogue ship, we might be able to figure out their end game."
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Postby Oyada » Sun Jan 10, 2016 6:19 pm

I-1068 trembled beneath Fimukhi's ample backside, which did nothing to help him stay awake. It was high time he rested; the regs were pretty clear about getting enough sleep to function, but even though his relief had occupied his seat, Fimukhi couldn't quite stand to leave the crowded compartment. S15 was out there, somewhere, just ahead, and I-1068 an absorbed bloodhound whose magnificently sensitive nose led her on through the trail-crossed tall grass of the singularities' subspace folds, thirstily sought the tiny flakes of skin and beads of sweat and pheromones' dewdrops S15 couldn't help leaving behind. Fimukhi ran his tongue round his mouth absently, unthinking, engrossed in the sensor readouts and almost oblivious to the sandblasted grating of his eyelids as they dragged unenthusiastically across his vision in a reluctant blink that wanted to be more.

Maie's voice stirred him from his observing. “You should sleep, CSO.”

“I don't need to sleep,” Fimukhi retorted, instantly cursing the irascible retort. “Sir. I've stood longer watches than this.”

“I'm well aware,” Maie persisted gently. “But you still ought to sleep. The sensor watch has changed, and this fine body of men can handle the track.”

“None of them have my experience.”

“And experience isn't worth much when you're making stupid decisions due to exhaustion,” countered Maie in the same imperturbable murmur.

“I'm making what?” the CSO grated, and turned to find the XO with a half-serious, lopsided smile.

“Now when was the last time you almost lost your temper to a superior?” Fimukhi didn't answer. “Get to your bunk, CSO; consider it an order. You'll be woken if needed.”

“I... all right. Yes. I will go,” Fimukhi conceded, not wholly ungratefully, and left the compartment with Maie in leisurely pursuit.

He continued to pace. Kureio's pencil had snapped in half some time earlier, leaving the spinner with a pair of damp wooden walrus tusks that protruded from beneath his clipped, black moustache as he gnawed on them afresh, eyes darting from the navigation computer to the plot and back at regular, precise intervals that seemed to synchronise with his chewing. The master was pacing slowly back and forth, gnarled and many-times bruised hands clasped behind his tunic, occasionally stopping to lean in and whisper to one of the men under his charge; that apart, all was quiet and still on the bridge, save the softly humming plot, casting green haze into the white-lit room. Time for another smoke. Maie knew he should stop; he also knew he didn't care enough to bother. Smirking slightly at his small rebellion, he thumbed his pocket lighter, watched the coil change hues until it reached a bright, lustrous orange, and took a long, satisfied pull as he made another survey. All quiet on the upstairs front.



The bar was one of many that crowded the complex of administrative and governmental structures clustered at the heart of Oyadato, its décor thoroughly traditional; unusually, it was authentically so, having been in operation for four centuries, during which it had been privy to the hatchings of countless intrigues and the extinguishing of at least as many.

“So, the keiti have come to us.” The remark was accompanied by a sneering twist of the lip that curled Kanatar's tanned, craggy countenance into a crazy gridwork. “And with an offer, as well. I find myself suspicious of their honesty, for some reason I can't quite understand; must be a sailor's old instincts.” He sipped at his rum lazily. “Anyway, it's nothing to do with me. I've been reminded very clearly that international questions are politicians' business, not mine. I'm just a simple taisa.”

“Of course, Admiral, but the Minister would like to be clear that he will have your support.”

“And why is that,” Kanatar asked, though he knew full well. The Defence Minister had a long memory, and hadn't forgotten the effective fait accompli the Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet had presented to him just a few years ago. That the gamble had paid off for Kanatar would make Koroyei doubly cautious, as would Kanatar's having taken it on his own initiative. Naval General Headquarters had been mightily annoyed, officially, but had done notably little to censure him after the fact; the steady sorting-out of the Telhar graveyard was too juicy a prize to permit ingratitude, and not just for NGHQ.

Koroyei's aide, a petite women in her, at a guess, forties whose mind was a maze of information and who could have single-handedly broken two dozen career-ending scandals at once, cracked a brittle smile. “Because he has seen that with certain people, it's best to make deals well in advance to avoid unwanted surprises.”

“The minister had better have a good offer, then,” Kanatar said smugly, and drained the rum. A steward appeared instantaneously and replaced it with another tall glass, vanishing with as little ceremony as he arrived.

Koroyei's aide sighed, rubbing the bridge of her nose. The man really was impossible, and her patience wasn't helped by the fact that he'd been fairly obviously eyeing her up from the moment she approached. “The minister, Admiral, is your superior. He offers to recognise your needs in the spirit of mutual advance...”

“Yes, yes, I know. Mutual advance to the common goal, and all that shit. Ma'am, I'm a seaman. I'm the Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet, not a diplomatic, not a politician. I think in terms of security and operational utility, and having a Yut ire on one of our most valuable assets is not secure, nor is it operationally useful. The minister had better have a fucking good reason for me not to say so.” He drained the rum in a flash and held up a hand, the steward retreating in response.

“The minister thought that the fact that nobody could find the Charybdis, and that it carried sufficient destructive power to turn the planet's population to dust, might count, especially for the sake of their security,” the aide observed drily.

“If that boat's a Maelstrom variant, my dear, we already have the ability to find it. And since I've already taken the liberty of ordering concentrations of S-boats and destroyer groups around the Homeworld, I am more prepared than he may think.”

“And what of the Gestalt's intelligence?”

“You expect me to trust anything they give us?” Kanatar snorted. “At best, we get a carefully censored version of what they know; at worst, outright lies peppered with enough truths to remain credible. Strategic deception.”

She smirked, producing a UC with a satisfied flourish. “The minister would like you to read this.”

Kanatar, knowing a gambit when he saw one, read carefully, silently and with great interest; thought for a long and pensive moment, and gave a curt nod. “You may tell the minister that I will agree. This time. But the ire will be taken care of as we see fit. Perhaps the keiti are more useful than they once were, but they will not be permitted to sniff around our boats.”

“As long as he returns alive, I doubt anyone will care how he's treated,” the aide responded flatly, and inspected Kanatar's electronic signature. “Now, unofficially, Admiral: What was on that communicator?”

“You weren't told?” Kanatar frowned.

“No. The minister was quite clear that it would only open for you, and that any attempt to open the document by anyone else would result in unpleasant consequences.” The aide clicked her tongue thoughtfully. “I know what that means.”

“Then I shall spare you from them.” Kanatar gave her a slight bow, and she took the message perfectly as he handed back the UC and waved languidly to the steward, watching the aide's receding form appreciatively.

“Sir?”

Kanatar sighed. “Make it a double.”



For the Oyadan state to turn around a significant decision quickly was unremarkable; for it to do so when that decision concerned the much-suspected keiti, however, was quite another matter. Nemura had been ready for a well-earned night's rest when the orders came through; now, he was obliged to communicate with the eerie representatives of the Gestalt again, and the small cube of lezh made him merely more alert, not more coherent. He sipped at a large mug of tea, feeling that caffeine ought to help, and bowed deeply to the large screen on his wall, feeling it best to present the full picture of himself.

“Esteemed representatives, I have most auspicious news. Your request has been acceded to; the Imperial Navy will divert a vessel to carry the enem-- the Triumvirate agent, as you have asked. I am to further our... er... our hearty appreciation, yes, of the data you have provided.” He bowed again, feeling his belly pressing uncomfortably against the tightened waistbelt, and proceeded.

“There is, however, a slight... complication. I am sorry to inform you that your engineers' proposed means of docking your craft to ours is, according to the Navy's architects, not feasible; it will be necessary for the agent, and anyone accompanying him, to proceed aboard our vessel itself. We will, of course, make all the appropriate arrangements. He stifled a huge yawn, with difficulty, and focussed again on the screen. “I await your reply at your earliest convenience, noble representatives.” The screen winked off, and Nemura parked himself behind his desk, stirred his tea with his mind ten thousand miles away, and waited.
Last edited by Oyada on Sun Jan 10, 2016 6:23 pm, edited 2 times 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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Postby Zepplin Manufacturers » Thu Jan 14, 2016 11:45 am

Somewhere else

“been around for a long long year”
The view of long room was in some disarray, the dimples of assault transmat generator harpoons, dated but still functional dotting a strangely rectangular swathe of its floor. Overhead fully half the spheres were missing, either dust or slag covered remnants on the floor. Joining them was a copious sprawl of men in a variety of power armour, combat drones and what appeared to be half of a assault tank whose hull still clinked slightly as it cooled.

A notable feature was the untouched nature of everything else save a cabinet that was simple leaded glass and metal, in of itself a thing of great age, a modern environmental unit holding it in perfection, it had been obviously cared for at least until now. The glass was shattered and the object it had contained missing.

A conversation or rather monologue that was audible and was decidedly one way. The voice was calm. Too calm over spurts of harsh breathing.

“It takes me some urging to become angry these days mister, some considerable effort on others parts but congratulations you managed it, a clone? A bloody clone in this day and age?”.

The sound was much like a series of wet bags filled with custard being struck with a machete.

“Your reward of course is this. But I am amazed that you and yours believed for a moment that just because of all of my technological accomplishments that I was not willing and or able to do that most basic of human deeds, and kill In person and in hand, and that for all your filthy little killings in back streets and brothels you could take on the likes of me and win, that I had not fought this kind of nonsense before?”

The laugh that followed was neither sane, pleasant or short, it was followed by a crunching that sounded like a crisp bag being sat upon before a rather sad muffled groan before a bang of some expended slowly cooking munitions echoed out across the hall.

“I shall have to have that painted over I suppose, you see in the end it really does come down to will and blood and I am afraid you are soon to be running out of both of those. I will find them. All of them, and I may not sully my own hands as I am now doing, though really I needed the exercise, but I will deal with them just as assuredly, I can guarantee it”

The figure in the suit is drenched in blood, over what was briefly still partially a man with a very familiar face, in both the suited man’s hands the remains of a metal object is held high. It drips.

“Well I think it is time we said our goodbyes, don’t you? after all I would hate to think your people thought me unnecessarily cruel, well while they are still people.”

The hands fell one final time and for one very final crunch.
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Postby Zepplin Manufacturers » Mon Jan 18, 2016 7:19 pm

The Oyadin Embassy

The seal of the Gestalt flashed for a moment before the view split into twelve, the first a starship bridge of vast size, its displays privacy blurred but the huge name plate overhead bearing a bronze blindfolded lady justice on her side laying on an ancient field gun, one hand grasping the scales the other holding a taper to the touch hole.

The next view was of a tennis court sized hovering platform with specimen catching nets over a forest that stretched from horizon to horizon with six suns burning overhead, several of the views were in a wide variety of offices, some functional, some salubrious, and one was of a vast expansive black silk bed from a lunar tower overlooking apartment, the light and installation dotted surface of the Regolith plain visible through its windows, an obviously sleeping male with his back turned beside the sleepy eyed dusky female who spoke, her face half illuminated by the earth light.

The final view was of a familiar man sitting in a simple chair at the head of a huge table of solid computronium set in a vast blindingly white hall whose columns seemed to leak light. From descriptions the hall could only be the formal office of the Executive located an unpleasant to contemplate number of miles under the Ziggurat itself.

The figures voices and lips moved as one, the harmony though not quite sung was pitch perfect.

“if it is acceptable for them to travel aboard then that most fortuitous news. The secondary craft we assure you can dock with anything of baryonic matter. If it proves otherwise plans have been put in place. Rendezvous coordinates and protocols can be sent to us directly when acquired. We will personally insure their proper secure delivery. As always ambassador it is a pleasure.”
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