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Happenings - Semi Open, TG for invite

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]
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Auman
Minister
 
Posts: 2058
Founded: Antiquity
Father Knows Best State

Happenings - Semi Open, TG for invite

Postby Auman » Fri Dec 22, 2017 9:48 pm

Tashkent Station, Beta Reticuli System, Auman.

"You think that's weird, then let me tell you about my last hitch." Horvii Krenshack said, heaving a glass of beer to his lips and taking a long slug. The amber ale spilled into his long red beard as he drained the entire pint into his gullet. He was sitting at a large round table with his crew on one side and the men of the Cape Fear on the other. "We're all working the same job, so I'll spare you the details... But me and my boys just came in from Oculus, the latest system to get the Stepford-Arnau treatment and we saw some things, right guys?" Horvii turned to his men and they nodded their heads, grinning wide and rabbling. "We came into Oculus with a full load, the Aumanii military were hot to set up a fuel depot over a gas giant about five bricks from the sun, so they paid us a hefty indemnity to make sure we got there on time and on target. They wanted us to pull out the stops, they'd cover anything that happened to the Lake Patricia if we ran her too hard, it was all very generous... Ain't never heard of a contract quite like it."

Danny Kask, captain of the Cape Fear raised his eyebrows at that, the kind of look that told everyone watching that he wasn't going to believe what came next... But that he was willing to listen to a master bullshitter spin a yarn of such fantastic falsehood that it would be entertaining nonetheless. "You're right, Horvii, I don't think anyone has ever taken on a job quite like that." Danny's voice was dripping with feigned sincerity.

"Aye, Dan, I don't quite think it was our haste in getting there as much as our brevity in staying. I digress, however, back to the tale... They wanted us there as soon as possible, dump our hatch and leave just as quickly. Because, as we would learn upon our arrival, there was something in Oculus that they didn't want anyone seein', something that had been there long before man's briney ancestors ever set foot out of the oceans of Earth. We got to Oculus, dumped out our hatch and punched in our next jump, just as we agreed to do... Lensom here is the best navman in the merchant marine, he worked the numbers as fast as anyone alive could hope to do, we were set to kick off in under ten minutes. We jammed the keys into the ignition, counted down from three and turned the sons of bitches a full crank and nothin' happened. We ran the drives too hard getting there and Patty was dead in the vacuum. not entirely unexpected by us, but the military were awfully kissed off by it."

They were sitting smack dab in the middle of The Eccentric Orbit, a chain of bars beloved across the galaxy by sailors and adventurers of all stripes. It was getting hard to hear Horvii tell his story over the bawling and laughter of the crowd, so everyone leaned in closer to take an ear.

"I've dealt with the Fleet enough times to tell what kind of angry they were. This was the kind of mad they got when they were worried about you. They were tearing into us over the net, demanding that we get our drive fixed and get the fuck out of Oculus as soon as possible. Marcelino, my executive, was keeping an eye on his radar and started to point some things out to us as I was arguing with the captain of the AuBSD Minotaur himself!" Horvii jerked a thumb over to a diminutive Filipino officer off to his left. Marcelino nodded and sipped his whisky. "I found eight ships of the Aumanii Fleet parked over that gas giant. Two of them were Gorgons, that was serious." Marcelino's deep, rich, voice betrayed his stature and made him seem to be eight feet tall. "Tell them what else you saw, Marc'. Tell them about it. Horvii pleaded.

Marcelino shook his head and stared into the bottom of his rye.

"Your boy is putting doubt into me, Horvii." laughed Dan.

Marcelino looked Danny Kask square in the eyes and said "It was a contact measuring well over five kilometers in length, I couldn't get an accurate return on its mass, but it was enormous. Very dense structure. Impossibly so, I might add."

"This thing was sitting just inside the atmosphere of the gas giant, dormant and motionless for god knows how long. It eluded detection by the speculators and caught the military by surprise, they were spooked and I was spooked too. Chance, my engineer, he got elbow deep into our grav-drive to sort her out, but it was going to take hours, so Minotaur sent a team over to help us on our way, but before their shuttle could make the transit, something happened." Horvii stopped a busty, underdressed, waitress and ordered a round for the whole table before Danny could take his guys and leave. They were obliged to hear them out now.

"It kicked off big time." Horvii's hand was flat as a plane, hovering just an inch off the aluminum table. "We've seen fights, but this was... Apocalyptic." added Marcelino.

"You got to see not one, but two Gorgons shoot it out with something? You're lucky guys." Dan was mocking them.

"We saw a Gorgon die!" blurted Chance.

The crew of the Cape Fear roared with laughter. "That has literally never happened, you fuckin' liars." chuckled Jonathus Dandellion, Cape Fear's executive officer.

"Not a word of a lie." Marcelino stated soberly.

"This is the most powerful warship in the entire Gamma quadrant you're talking about..." Dandellion said dismissively.

"Cut clean in half by the most powerful graser in the Gamma quadrant." Horvii spat, only a little wild-eyed.

The Eccentric Orbit grew quiet, the waitress laid out their drinks on the table and folded her tray under her arm. "What's a Gorgon?" she asked, smacking a piece of gum around in her mouth. "Lady," Dan pointed a lazy finger at her "A Gorgon is a big, bad, hard chargin' battleship that won the cold war against IRON just with the size of her horns and a hard cock loaded with right up with c-fracs. We got eight of the mother fuckers, enough to kill every single man, woman, and child in the galaxy a hunnerd times over."

"Seven." said Marcelino coldly.

"Fuck that." Danny Kask grabbed his beer and stood up. The crew of the Lake Patricia shot out of their chairs and stared down the Cape Fear. "You took our drinks, now you listen to our story!" shouted Horvii. The whole bar was watching now. Some guy two tables over told Dan to "Sit down and shut the fuck up." The rest of the Eccentric Orbit mirrored those sentiments, they wanted to hear what happened next. Everyone sat down and Horvii got back to it.

"As I was saying," Horvii eyeballed everyone in the room, "It kicked off big time. This thing, this big fucking Leviathan, just jumped onto the Minotaur like a hungry lion, its speed was incredible and it latched on with these... Things!"

"Tentacles, they were!" said Chance.

"Mechadendrites." Marcelino clarified.

"The Leviathan wrenched and bent her hull, but she fought back and shot it full of holes. It looked like she was about to beat the Leviathan, but that's when the cutting began." Horvii's eyes were glassing over.

"It fired a graser at point blank range down Minotaur's draft and pulled her in half. It ignited her core and the fireball was intense. That's when Cerberus and the flotilla opened up on the beast with their c-fracs, shaving off pieces of it like it was a Christmas turkey. It was all over in a few seconds, but my God..." Chance chugged his ale and slammed the glass down on the table with a clank.

"It was the most incredible sight I have ever seen." said Marcelino, folding his arms and leaning back in his chair.

"If this did happen, and I'm not saying it did because it's ridiculous, don't you think we would have heard about it by now?" said Danny Kask, his voice more subdued than before.

"If it did happen, do you think they'd tell us?" countered Horvii.

Before Danny could reposte, the waitress said "Minotaur, ain't that the boat that had an accident today? It's all over the news. Hey Mort, flip the TV to ACE." the bartender switched the channel and everyone turned to watch.

"No fuckin' way, bro." exclaimed Jonathus.

"Yeah buddies, that was no god damn accident." said an anonymous guy in the crowd.
Last edited by Auman on Fri Dec 22, 2017 11:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.
IBNFTW local 8492

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Alexzonya
Envoy
 
Posts: 286
Founded: Aug 05, 2012
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Alexzonya » Fri Dec 22, 2017 10:00 pm

[Tag, to be replaced with a Happening by the end of Boxing Day]
[Edit 04/09/2018 - A little after Boxing Day, perhaps. The post is several down]
Last edited by Alexzonya on Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Psyonia
Envoy
 
Posts: 204
Founded: Aug 19, 2010
Ex-Nation

Postby Psyonia » Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:17 pm

Psyonia System, Commonwealth of Psyonia

Lu Xue, the captain of the Guangdonese merchantman Jin Iianhua, scowled at the brief communication from the Psyonian officer. The woman on the screen betrayed no emotion, though surely she had nothing but contempt for the Guangdonese.

<Jin Iianhua, this is Lieutenant Alea Hasek of the PCS Ardent. You are hereby ordered to reduce your acceleration to zero, maintain your current heading, and submit to boarding and inspection.>

It was nothing new for freighters from Xin Guangdong to be subjected to this kind of harassment by the Psyonians. Their militant hatred of slavery meant that any ship from the nearby system was always subject to additional scrutiny. Never mind that a Guangdonese ship hadn’t been within ten parsecs of anywhere Psyonia considered their hunting grounds, let alone actually pass through the Psyonia System, with a slave on board in over twenty years. Psyonia’s placement in the GCC meant that if Xin Guangdong wanted any sort of trade with the galactic community, it would have to pass through Psyonia to gain access to the network of gate hubs, a fact the Psyonians had gleefully used to punish the Guangdonese for their continued allowance of the slave trade.

Lu Xue sighed, then looked directly into the camera on his console and shifted his face into the most acquiescent smile he could before recording his scripted response to the well choreographed dance that was beginning.

PCS Ardent, this is Captain Lu Xue of the Guangdonese flagged merchantman Jin Iianhuah. We are preparing to comply with your orders. I request to know the reason you are ordering us to submit to inspection. As has already been reported to the system ATC, we are en route to Higgin’s Star via the Psyonia-Kaltos Gate, and do not intend to dock or tranship any cargo within your space.”

He completed his recording and sent it off to the Psyonian frigate, then ordered his communications officer to start filling in the now form letter of diplomatic protest for the Psyonian harassment of Guangdonese shipping which had not had any effect for the entirety of the nations encountering each other. He leaned back in his chair and waited for the response which was as formulaic as the letter of protest. Every Guangdonese captain had to deal with the frustration and the delay, but in all none of the inspections ever lasted longer than a day, and given the trips often took a month or two, it was still worth the loss of a day while a Psyonian customs patrol searched and interrogated every space, computer and crew member of the ship.

<Jin Iianhua, you have been ordered to stand to for inspection under suspicion of carrying slaves on board your ship due to originating from the Xin Guangdong system.>

Lu Xue reformed his face and began recording.

PCS Ardent, there are no slaves on board this vessel and we do not agree that the origin of this voyage is probable cause for a search on the basis of that suspicion. We do not consent to the search but will comply with your orders under protest, which will be filed with our embassy in Phoenix Landing.”

The message was transmitted and Lu Xue once more reclined to wait for the final step of the dance’s opening phase. It came quicker than the previous two as the frigate pulled close enough for one of the marine marine pinnace to make the quick journey from the warship to the merchantman.

<Jin Iianhua, your protest has been noted. A pinnace will dock with you shortly to conduct the inspection.>



Lu Xue stood with several other members of his officers and crewmen as the marines disembarked the pinnace. The first of them exited the docking tube and swung gracefully to the deck before smartly saluting.

“Subcommander Mervyn McNaughton, Psyonian Commonwealth Navy, requesting to come aboard.”

“Permission granted under protest, Subcommander.”

“My thanks, Captain.” The Psyonian officer stepped away from the docking tube allowing the rest of the inspection team to enter the ship. After briefly introducing the marines that made up the team, each separated into their respective duties, whether it was searching the cargo holds and bunk rooms or interviewing the officers and crew. “Captain Lu, I will be conducting your interview personally. Would you care to that in stateroom?”

“As good a place as any, Subcommander.” McNaughton stepped up to Lu Xue and the two man proceeded deeper into the ship. “Subcommander Mc... Naughty, was it?”

“McNaughton, sir.”

“Yes, McNaughton. I appreciate you have a duty to complete here, but these pro forma inspections are quite a nuisance. In the grand scheme, they don’t take too long, but I am a man who detests wasted time. I don’t suppose you could estimate how long I’ll be sitting here burning mass while I wait for you to complete your investigation?”

“Well, it depends on how long the search takes. This is a small enough ship, so I imagine we could have this done in… eight hours, as long as there is nothing untoward found.”

“Better than my last time through Psyonia.” Arriving at Lu Xue’s stateroom, the merchant captain stepped around his desk to his bar while McNaughton took a seat. “Can I offer you anything to drink, Mister McNaughton?” The Psyonian wore a small smile.

“Thank you, but no. I am on duty, at the moment.”

“Ah yes, that infamous Psyonian duty,” Lu Xue responded. “Subcommander Karstensen started off similarly, though last I saw her she was willing to accept a few glasses from my stock. Where is Susann, anyways?”

“I’m afraid she rotated to the Vulcan Yards. You’ll have to deal with me for the next little bit.”

“A shame,” Lu Xue responded as he poured himself a glass of whiskey. “She’s much prettier than you are.” McNaughton shrugged. “You don’t mind if I partake, do you?”

“Not at all, sir. Enjoy yourself.”

Lu Xue dropped into his chair and focused for a moment on his whiskey. He held the glass to his nose and briefly inhaled the smell of the liquor before taking his first sip.

“Mmm. Delicious.” He set the glass down, opened a drawer and pulled out a data stick which he promptly tossed to the Psyonian officer. “Latest intelligence drop,” he informed the other man. “I highlighted one particular merchie transit. Convoy of slave ships. I was hoping your intelligence service could transfer its information to your Jayhawks and have them take prizes.” McNaughton lifted his eyes to the Guangdonese man.

“Any particular reason to hit that convoy?”

“The man running it had some unkind things to say about my mother.”

“Fair enough. Out of curiosity, why do you spy for Psyonia? I can’t imagine we’ve done anything but frustrate and annoy you.”


“On the contrary, Subcommander,” Lu Xue responded. “Psyonia has paid me quite well for the service I’ve provided them. And I have little love for Xin Guangdong, anyways. I don’t hold with slavery, and the government is as corrupt as any I’ve seen. At least you have a rule of law not based on bribery.” McNaughton nodded thoughtfully.

“How long have we been on board at this point?” Lu Xue looked at the chrono.

“About sixteen minutes.”

“Sixteen down, seven hundred and four remaining.”

“Reconsidering that drink?”

“Intensely.” Lu Xue chuckled, then got up and got another glass of whiskey.

“Just promise me that you’ll recommend to your superiors that next time you send me another woman.”

“Done.”
Last edited by Psyonia on Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Telros
Diplomat
 
Posts: 957
Founded: Apr 29, 2006
Ex-Nation

Postby Telros » Sat Dec 30, 2017 9:58 am

Welcome Director, how can I direct your query?

--Access Report Archive--

Archive Accessed. Please insert key words to search for your document.

--Gata'ja--

One report found, under Agent Arnyek's jurisdiction. Do you wish to make a copy, print or access?

--Access--

Calling it up now.


********************

“The wheel turns, the Great Cycle continues and for once, we find ourselves on the side of prey, our status as hunters ripped from us due to our pride and hubris. We thought ourselves apex predators in a galaxy designed to force those who live in it to become or die. We pushed into others territories too fast, too quickly, and not only were we chased out, we lost our worlds, our fleets, our freedom, our strength. And thanks to the Elder's from before refusing to adapt, refusing to accept new and changing ideas, our culture snapped like the dead wood it had become. Our people became fragmented, unfocused, afraid. We went every which way to the stars, many becoming raiders and hunters, turning from entire worlds to the star lanes, clinging to their instincts when all else failed. Others returned to the old ways, found worlds they could found quiet colonies on, hide away from a galaxy that sees them as the monsters they rightfully are, and sought to remain unnoticed. And even more joined other nations who would accept them, become independent traders, mercenaries, and everything in between.

And so this state of affairs has continued, some attempting to integrate, some traveling aimlessly and some trying to recapture old glories through raiders and attacks, trophies littering their quarters. It is to them I speak to first, those who have followed their instincts and retained what makes us Gata'ja. You have wandered the stars, killing, consuming, and never feeling full. The hunger, it gnaws at you, eternally suffering from our biology, and the ecosystem of our homeworld. You live, you eat, you survive, but I believe that, like myself, you wonder to yourself. In the dark, when you're alone and your thoughts drift, despite the hole you've put them in, is there more to this? More to the next job, the next hit, the next score. You imagine the old days of the Ammudzi, the sheer promise it contained that was squandered by the old Elders. The fact that you are still here, listening to me, means that you do think what I have thought, imagine what I have, and that, like me, you desire something more to this life. Not what the crumbling past contains, not what the stagnant present offers, but the unknown future. We must build a new Gata'ja society, a new culture, a new way of life to fuse our endless quest to satiate our hunger, with what we have learned from the fall of our people.

You have seen what is coming; the state of affairs we engendered in the galaxy, the aftermath of the power we wielded on this uncaring galaxy. We drove billions from their homes, forced across the stars into either benefactors constricting arms or into becoming roving independent bands, or raiders like us. We even supported the pirates with money, weapons, munitions, and more to drive the chaos they were causing. This time is coming to an end, the powers of the galaxy, and especially in Gamma, are deciding to put an end to that chaos. The Vascilian League is cooperating with the Tezekian Imperium on a 'trade corridor' to expand trade and prosperity.

Lies. All of it.

We can see the military ships pouring in as each station is constructed, we see the reports of pirates and raiders falling to them, and seeing more and more of our caste, our line of work, fall into death or trapped in jails. The Ninestar Coalition has even recently removed a power that was friendly to us, being pirates who seized power themselves. More and more nations are using this time to sharpen their sword on us while they prepare to fight each other. Things may eventually become what they were, occasional contracts, scraping by on smaller, weaker nations who don't have the power to stop us. Or we could even escape into another quadrant of the galaxy. But we can't, for this is not the only trade corridor, nor not the only security cooperation agreement, and not the only force purging pirates. It's a matter of popular culture and concern that we be wiped out. If we stand by and let it happen, we will be holdouts in forgotten systems, fighting each other for scraps as we avoid the powers of the galaxy, and waiting for our time to die.

Or.

There is another way. And that starts here, that starts right now. I was Bereka of the Iron Crusaders, a pirate band operating out in eastern parts of the Gamma Quadrant. I am now Akazi Bereka, of the reformed Gata'ja. Not the Gata'ja Kingdom, Empire, Republic, or other self-important government titles our prey like to give themselves. We are simply an identification of a force of nature, a truth to the galaxy that others refuse to acknowledge, a personification of a desire to refuse to have our way of life stomped out, and to show these powers sticking their fleets into our business, our territory, that they have created a monster they will not be able to handle.

I ask you to join me, you all to join me. And I do not speak to just the Gata'ja, but the Humans, the Elven, Dwarven, El'ha, Ssrruvar, one and all. Our way of life is not just a force of biology as it is for my people, but a code to live by. Consume or be consumed. Hunt or be hunted. Kill or be killed. Dominate...or be dominated. All who join with me now, and when I come to each enclave will be given honored positions at my side. Those who go against me will become meat and slaves for our forces.

Join with me, and we'll remind the galaxy why they feared us.”

*****************

Official Imperium Report by Intelligence Agent Arnyek, A-17

Re: Formation of the Gata'jan Revival, Star's Nest, Eastern Gamma.

REPORT START


As per the Archon's Directive 114-D, we have spread out our agents in Gamma to try and track down the rumors and rumblings the underworld has been having. After the assault on pirate base in Kolovis System, we were brought in to interrogate and clean up, and then execute the pirates and move on. Save a few for executions back in the home systems to keep morale high and show progress in the Archon's initiative. From the start, we realized something was up when we saw scattered posters of what was originally thought to be cult propaganda until we attempted to translate the language. After realizing it was in a bastardized version of Gata'jan, somehow even more guttural, we realized what it said and began....energetic interviews with the prisoners.

Most outright refused to talk about, some even spitting on it, while others informed us a pirate crew had shown up once day, wearing the symbol displayed on the flyer. They put up a few posters, went around speaking to individual pirate crews, it appeared to be business at first, but soon after some crews seemed to agree, clasping arms together and exiting. After this happened enough times, the local chief sent his enforcers in, to tell them to clear out or pay up for the disturbance. They refused and the enforces moved in to do what they do best. In a few moments, they were dead and the room had gone silent when they realized what had happened. They were torn to shreds in a flurry of claws and teeth, blood splattering everywhere. And at the center was a Gata'jan female, with some cybernetics visible, including crackling energy on her claws. She apparently licked some of the blood off herself, and made a final appeal for those to join her growing force that was aimed to deal with the “trade route” problem. Half of the crews still in the room joined her and she left. Hours later, our attack commenced on their base.

We had wondered at the ease of the assault, why we thought we had missed something when most of their force was missing. More concerning still, a few of the members attempted to break out, managing to remove their shackles. Several soldiers were injured in containing the break out, but one struggled more vociferously than the rest, exclaiming that the “Gata'ja were coming back!”, and how we were the least of their worries. After disposing of most and sending the rest with the Fifth Fleet, I dug a little deeper into their claims and the results have moved me from concerned to worried. Many pirate outfits are pulling out of old bases or abandoning old routes and are vanishing. Previous Intelligence sweeps thought this was due to other nations taking our anti-piracy measures to heart, but it is now clear this was an incorrect assumption and should have been investigated. We are losing pirates, raiders, even mercenaries in the galaxy, and we don't know where they're going. Strange credit and resource transfers, even weapons and ship transactions that seem to go nowhere or become self-eating Oroborous loops.

We have a severe lack of information on this Gata'ja and her group and what it wants beyond an intent towards the Corridor and the GCC possibly. I recommend immediate assigning of a task force to investigate this threat and recommend a course of action


REPORT END

Any further actions Director?

--Begin Assessment--

Beginning edit of file. Proceed Director.


************

A-17 REPORT COMMAND ASSESSMENT

“RECOMMENDATION DECLINED. LEADS GO INTO TOO MANY UNKNOWN SYSTEMS WITH LACK OF INFO OR HOSTILE/APATHETIC POLITIES. RESOURCES ARE AT LIMITS CURRENTLY, MOOT REFUSES TO INCREASE. WILL INCREASE PATROLS ON CORRIDOR AND GCC PORTIONS AND WILL FORWARD RELEVANT DATA TO LOCAL POLITIES. YOUR NEW ASSIGNMENT IS ATTACHED TO THIS MESSAGE. POWER THROUGH PROSPERITY AGENT.”
Last edited by Telros on Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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New Dornalia
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1807
Founded: Apr 27, 2005
New York Times Democracy

Postby New Dornalia » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:15 am

Baileygates Memorial School of International Leadership
Outside of Ojai, California, Earth SSR
Colonial Republic of Earth


The chaparral-laden rolling hills seemed to stretch out into the horizon, lit by a full moon and looking like a blanket of brown earth and vegetation over the landscape. It was the kind of terrain that gave rise to the term, "Mediterranean." The hills could have been anywhere in the Med after all. Italy. Israel. Polaris Six. But for now, the scene was occurring in Ventura County, and outside of the maddening sprawl that was Dornalian Los Angeles, the sight was such that even the massive San Pedro Space Elevator--which could be seen in the far, far distance if one cared to squint--wasn't going to ruin a nice moonlit night.

Of course, the sight wasn't so amazing if you were used to it. Manuel Baileygates was one of those people. He worked as part of the night crew, patrolling the grounds of the Baileygates Memorial School of International Leadership. The man didn't look that different than the other night watchmen. He had a tactical vest with a radio upon it--you just needed to tap on it, like one of those fancy communicators in an old show--and also a phaser. It was an older, budget model made by Sarsilmaz in Turkey, but it had the lines and style of the old classic Type One Phaser. If Captain Kirk saw it? He'd know it. After all, sometimes, you needed to stun someone and avoid killing them. Killing them meant the cops came by and paperwork had to be done. The man of course--if the name wasn't a giveaway--looked a bit like the one for whom the facility was named. That made sense, for although Carla Baileygates herself had no children except for those cloned from the eggs she had frozen (explicitly gathered before her death, so her legacy could live on in that sense), she had a brother who had a child, who in turn had other children to carry on his legacy when the Internal Security Bureau purged him back in the Stalinist era. The only thing was, Manuel was a shade of Ambiguously Brown, as the TV Tropers would put it. And of course male. And of course, he had a flashlight.

Manuel patrolled the grounds, flashlight in hand, shining it and looking about for miscreants. The modernist steel, marble and glass construction reflected the light easily off of the side of the entrance to Lecture Hall A. And although he had seen the sight many times before--indeed, the lecture halls looked similar to one another--he couldn't help but have his memories jogged a bit.

Lecture Hall A had been one of many facilities built with the endowment left behind by the former Secretary of State in her will. Money built upon a combination of saving for retirement, and then lecture tours and books. Indeed, before she died of "natural causes"--everyone in the Baileygates clan knew she really died of a broken heart when Mac died, but no one was going to say that--Carla had just published her memoirs. Carla Baileygates, Public Servant. Manuel had read it and thought it was okay. He had heard the stories already from Auntie Carla before, as did the rest of the Clan. But everyone wanted to nitpick it--search for secrets perhaps as to why she did what she did with the GFFA, why she did what she did with the Coredians and the Abh, so on. Manuel didn't really care either way, he was just glad something was done with the money with a minimum of fuss from the lawyers or the family. He had his own life--a pair of toddlers running about, a wife he met while in the Marines, and a house somewhere in Ojai itself.

Manuel's patrol, after a brief radio report, lead him to the Quad. He saw a couple of shadows in the distance. Shining his flashlight at them, Manuel shouted, "Hey! YOU!" The figures stopped and turned, and Manuel crossed the perfectly manicured grass, past the statue of Auntie Carla, to meet the two. Upon further inspection, he saw they were likely Baileygates School students. College-aged folk, despite the name of the school--and to be fair, it was a university. No one was entirely surprised that college-age youths would occasionally indulge themselves with a late night expedition, and there wasn't a "curfew" per se. That'd be just childish. After all, Ojai Police often grumbled to the management about the college kids that insisted on going pub crawling on Thursday nights. The man and woman in front of Manuel--the man with cat ears on his head, and the woman with pointed ears and an unusually statuesque height--were then asked to show ID. The IDs were presented, and scanned by Manuel. They were legitimate. Manuel handed them back, and advised them, "Stay safe, okay?" before moving on. As he did so, he looked up at the statue of Auntie Carla. There were lights around the base, shining up at what the students called "The Gray Lady." It was an image of Carla standing tall, with a briefcase in hand and walking resolutely to a meeting. A good image of Auntie Carla. But not quite the one he remembered--he remembered a woman less made of iron and concrete, and more made of Christmas gifts and generally good advice.

Manuel nodded, knowing that there was no time to go down memory lane. So, he continued onwards and upwards. The campus wasn’t that big, but it was big enough. Selective enough too, for the school demanded--and even said in its literature--that it would only take the best undergrads and grads that were interested in being leaders and people who would go onto bigger things. That being said, one of the terms of Auntie Carla’s trust was a very detailed set of admissions criteria which essentially sought to ensure anyone with the gumption and brains could go--not just people who had the cash money to do so. A series of failed court challenges against the school ensured that the criteria would continue. And while yes, he could have used a golf cart or something else? He preferred to walk.

Manuel’s turn took him past the Dormitory Complex near the quad--there weren’t anymore stops to be made or any more adventures to be had, both the grads and undergrads were at rest, or hanging out inside studying, gaming, or doing the usual activities--and onwards. Now, his next stop was the the grand centerpiece of the School.

The Archives. A simple name for a massive complex which acted not only as a library for students to work, but also an archive where Carla’s papers were kept after her death. All of them, from the simplest grocery list to draft copies of the GFFA’s founding treaty. The Estate had paid for movers to move the papers from her house and the various locations from which they came into the new, state of the art facility. Everything had been digitized and scanned into a series of hard drives for easy online access. More delicate objects which needed preservation were either kept in climate controlled rooms, or even stored in pattern buffers. An army of librarians and pages on work-study credits even made sure people could see the real papers themselves. Manuel had done a shift in the facility. Everyone from the lowliest student to the current Secretary of State had been here. Norton Simons was an alright guy, even if he seemed stressed.

And, it even had something else. Something which caused him to step a bit more reverently, and a bit more cautiously as he flashed his credentials and opened the door into the facility.

Auntie Carla’s grave.

Auntie Carla didn’t want to be buried at the usual resting place for those who had served the Republic--Rose Hills. Perhaps it was an affectation of her later years. Everyone in the family knew it was awkward for her to even be near President MacIntyre’s grave. No one said anything, but everyone in the Clan he talked to at the funeral got the feeling that if Nadine Huntleigh hadn’t become Nadine Hunteigh-MacIntyre, Carla would have stepped in and become Carla Baileygates-MacIntyre. Quite willingly too. As a kid, Manuel had seen Auntie Carla get flustered whenever the subject of Mac was brought up, and outright bitter whenever Nadine Huntleigh-MacIntyre was brought up. Hell, she damn near disowned cousin Jake when she got word he was applying to work for ERIS--how she managed to figure that one out since Jake had told virtually no one, Manuel wasn’t sure. He didn’t get it then, but looking back, and comparing it with all those Adventurer High episodes and romcoms he had seen with the blushes and tsundere behavior? One could put the two and two together.

As such, when Mac died, Auntie Carla attended the funeral. In a telling gesture, she wore a black dress, like a widow would normally wear. Likewise, when she died, Auntie Carla asked to be buried at the school site. As a telling gesture in turn, the MacIntyres were invited. Even Nadine, surprisingly. It was as if Auntie Carla wanted to let the MacIntyres know that she had made her peace, and didn’t hate the MacIntyres or Mac for making his choice, although she wasn’t happy about Nadine coming out on top. Heck, she even said as much in her funeral directions in the will.

Manuel for his part just went with the flow and tried avoiding the usual politics. Instead, he kept his head low--and in some ways, that was alright by him. Now, he patrolled the corridors of the library, with the cleaning staff using drones to ensure everything was clean. The climate controlled environs of the library made it so coming in from a hot California night as a good thing. Nodding to the night staff, including a Lamia working on scrubbing a floor using a special sock around her snakes’ tail that had moistened cleaning pads with soap, Manuel walked past and saw an intersection with a sign that directed travelers to one of three spots. “Library,” to the left, “Archives” to the right, and pointing to a dark staircase, “Masoleum”. Manuel looked to the Masoleum, and descended the staircase, which lit up as he walked down it.

Approaching a glass door, Manuel flashed his credentials and obained access, the door unlocking and allowing him to enter.

Inside, there was a circular room with a sign saying, “Keep Quiet” which was darkly lit. As Manuel stepped in, the lights came on in a ritualistic manner. Beginning with the front of the room, lights on the ceiling and the floor turned on rapidly, gradually bringing light into the room, revealing a marble interior with a single sarcophagus in the middle of the room, set into the floor, and niches on the walls. Manuel approached the Sarcophagus, and upon it read:

“Carla Baileygates
Beloved Secretary of State and Aunt
Born: January 5, 2136
Died: December 27, 2260”

Approaching the sarcophagus, Manuel stopped a few inches from it, and then, in DOrnalian custom, bowed three times out of respect. He then said, “Evenin’, Auntie Carla. It’s Manny. Just wanted to stop on by as I made my rounds. I hope you’re doing well.” Manuel then paused and said, “You know your old house? The one you kept around out these parts to get away from the city? Enrique’s been working on restoring it. It’s still doing well. I know you didn’t want it turned into a museum, so, well, we haven’t. Got a place in the National Register of Historic Places though, so I guess that’s okay. We’ve kept it in the family though. Just didn’t feel right selling it to someone else.”

He then, after a pause, said simply, “Well, gotta run. Duty calls.” As if on cue, Manuel’s radio crackled to life. He then left the room, and as he did so, the lights turned off, following the reverse of what had happened originally as Manuel entered--as if to signify the light leaving coming out of the world.
"New Dornalia, a living example of anomalous civilizations."-- Phoenix Conclave
"Your nation has always been ridiculous. But it's endearing."--Skaugra
"It's a magical place where chinese cowboys ply the star lanes to extract vast wealth from trade, where NORINCO isn't just an arms company, but an evil bond villain type conglomerate that hides in other nations. Where the apocalypse happened, and everyone went "huh, that's neat" and then got back to having catgirls and starships."-- Olimpiada
"...why am I space China, and I don't have actual magic animals, and you're space USA, and you do? This seems like a mistake." --Roania, during a discussion on wildlife.

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Auman
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Postby Auman » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:15 pm

Tully poked his head into the office, General Pankratz was typing quietly at his computer with a lit cigarette between his fingers and didn't notice. Tully coughed quietly and announced "General Mohanses is here for your eleven o'clock, sir." Pankratz removed his glasses and rubbed at his screen-scorched eyes, "Send him in then." His voice was raw and graveled. Tully saluted and slunk back out of the room. Mohanses stepped in, a manila folder tucked under his arm and gave a mock salute. Pankratz replied by simply raising his middle finger.

"You going to sit down, you son of a bitch, or is your ass still sore from your run in with the Overlord last night?" Pankratz stood up, walked over to Mohanses and shook his hand. "I may have been chewed out by the boss himself last night, Tony... This might be true, but I was far too drunk to remember it." Mohanses was hung over, Pankratz shook him by the shoulders to churn up what ever might be stewing in his guts.

"Have a seat, you idiot." Pankratz waved a hand at a plush, green, leather chair and both men sat.

"What even happened anyway?" Mohanses asked sheepishly.

"As far as I can tell you drank more than Sheikh Navarrone and Jim Newman put together and made a pass at Mrs. Uyghur." Pankratz laughed, "You fucking idiot."

Mohanses' eyes bulged damn near out of his head, this only made Pankratz laugh even harder. "You didn't say anything that none of us weren't thinking, she's quite a..." Pankratz looked for an appropriately neutral word to describe the first lady of the Aumanii military. "She's well endowed." said Mohanses, embarrassed. "Well, like I said old friend, it wasn't anything we weren't all thinking. She's well put together and hasn't aged a bit since college." said Pankratz, almost nostalgic about his time spent at Zham Tech almost thirty years ago.

"If we can just move on, I'd really appreciate it." Mohanses dropped the folder on Pankratz's desk, a few data discs and a sheet of paper spilled out. Pankratz grabbed the paper, it was a simple biography of the final candidate, he took one look at the name before sliding it back across the desk.

"You didn't..." said Pankratz.

"Colonel Bustamente is an exemplary officer with all of the qualities we're looking for." answered Mohanses.

"It's all becoming clear now."

"Oh really now?"

"Out of all of them, you selected Jennifer 'Iron Tits' Bustamente?" Pankratz rolled his eyes.

Mohanses was clenching his jaw so tightly he was worried his teeth would crack. "When it came down to it, Tony, she really was the best officer and our previous relationship had nothing to do with it." Mohanses sunk into his seat, preparing to defend his position.

"I'll take your word for it, Johannes, but it's obviously suspicious that you opt to send her to Skyriver, another fucking galaxy, at the first convenience. She has a family now, you have to give it up." Tony Pankratz's face had a look of worry to it. "What about Lt. Colonel Horkha? He has more combat experience, he's been in the service longer and he's a good guy."

"He doesn't have the right temperament. The man beats his wife and can't handle his liquor. No good for this." Johannes Mohanses returned smartly.

"Okay, what about Colonel Lanely? He's been in the logistics command from the very start of his career and can administer the hell out of Tammuz sector. This is ultimately an undeclared trade colony, a guy like him would get the trains running on time."

"Yeah, he knows how to fill out paperwork well enough and he can get the infrastructure running smoothly once its established. There's a job for him in the future, but he has absolutely no combat experience and he's kind of pussy. You can get by with a timid support commander in an established area of the Co-Prosperity Sphere, but I would not describe Tammuz-an that way, not by a long shot."

Pankratz mulled over what Mohanses was saying, but couldn't shake the feeling that he was just using this as a chance to get rid of an ex-lover out of spite.

"Okay then, why Bustamente?" Pankratz asked, his voice measured and flat.

"As I said, she has the right qualities. She's dedicated to the mission, she's brave, decisive, a fierce woman when roused... She's also a good administrator, not at Lanely's level of detail, but good. She can be a sweetheart, she has this energy that is infectious, it gets you real fired up and enthusiastic. I think she would be a well rounded colonial governor, a warrior diplomat. That's what we need in Tammuz, versatility. Charm, intellect and ruthlessness." Mohanses was almost gushing.

"You're still in love with her." stated Pankratz, a note of concern in his voice.

"Absolutely." Mohanses clenched his jaw again.

"So you are getting rid of her."

"No... Yes." Mohanses sighed.

"I can't approve this, Johannes. Not unless you give me a real good reason, your report isn't something I can trust."

"Everything I have said is entirely true as to the best of my knowledge. She is the best choice for this mission. Hands down."

The two men sat in silence for a moment. Pankratz scooped up a data disc and tapped it on his desk idly.

"I'll look it over, Johannes."

"I'm not wrong about her, Tony."

"I know."
Last edited by Auman on Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Auman
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Postby Auman » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:01 pm

The sheer vastness of space was a monumental thing to take in. From a purely visual standpoint, there wasn't enough time in the galaxy for a single man to observe it all. With the benefit of advanced optics, however, one could perceive more than a normal man. The intricacies of gravity and the swirls of stellar dust played off against the dark matter that bound the universe together. The contrasting colors of nebulae, the strobes of pulsars in the great night and the twinkle of innumerable stars were their companions for now and seemingly for all time.

"Wahrlich, ich werde niemals müde werden, unser Universum zu beobachten. Cleg, Trashcan, teilen Sie jetzt meine Freude über unsere Umstände? Kannst du das Wunder der größten Schöpfung unseres Gottes überall um uns herum sehen? Oder spuckst du ihm weiterhin ins Gesicht und verleugnest sein Geschenk?" Pablo the Robot's voice was full of wonder, the rich baritone of his unaccented German charmed by the marvel of God's of creation.

"Nay, t'was a sour t'ing t' 'appen t' us, lad. But, despitin' t' scenario, I'm right 'appy t' be 'ere wit' ye lot, an' the Blue Prince besides." answered Trashcan MacLean, his own accent a perverse mix of a stereotypical pirate and a Newfoundlander. Trashcan waggled a corrugated manipulator towards the escape pod that scored the inky black canvas alongside them, David Gry'Zhuul sleeping peacefully within.

"It's nice to see humans never change." Cleg the Cylinder's voice popped with static, the radiation of Ramona Heculi's star played havoc with his transmitter. Trashcan and Pablo swiveled their optical domes towards him. Pablo was about to speak when Cleg continued, "Open your eyes, let's begin! Yes it's really me, Maui: Breathe it in!"

The three robots floated through space, thrown out of an airlock years before. Trashcan groaned and Pablo cursed "Wir sind wieder in diesem gottverdammten Hawaii, oder?" reaching out with one burly hydraulic arm in the hopes of catching the cylinder, that was always just out of reach.

"I can't help what I see, I'm sorry!" Cleg burst into affected tears, his wailing drowning out the channel for a good ten minutes. Trashcan and Pablo attempted on several occasions to speak between lulls in Cleg's sobbing, but he only cried louder each time. When the cylinder went quiet, the other robots were cautious not to say another word until it was obvious the maniacal precognitive unit was finished. It seemed okay now.

"Wie lange, glaubst du, waren wir schon auf dem Float, Trashcan, mein Freund" Pablo asked, always curious about the time since his internal clock was fried by an errant solar flare.

"Oh, by me own reckonin', I'd say 'bout five ye-" started Trashcan.

"I had a friend once!" shrieked Cleg.

"Hätten? Sind wir nicht deine Freunde, Cleg?" asked Pablo, aghast.

"A real friend, my dearest Grenalda." Cleg ended the sentence with an ear piercing bleep.

"T' lass t'at chucked 'erself out t' airlock?!" Trashcan was appalled.

"My beautiful 'ore." Cleg said with a touch of nostalgia.

"Zuerst nennst du sie eine verrückte Hure, die sie vielleicht zum Selbstmord treibt, und jetzt ist sie deine liebste Freundin? Du hast seltsame Gefühle, du Schurke." scoffed Pablo. "Wir kommen näher, ich fühle es." Pablo was suddenly distracted, swivelling his optic towards something in the distance.

"I cannay see a t'ing, bai. Tis just your imaginin's." said Trashcan dismissively.

"Nein, schau." Pablo extended a finger very precisely, "In der Ferne unterschied sich ein Nadelstich von allem anderen. Ein Planet und wir sind direkt darauf zugegangen."

Trashcan squinted and curled one long, ropey, tubular manipulator around the lens.

"Tis nothin', ye musta had a smudge." sighed Trashcan, ruefully. He grew tired of their voyage, foisted upon them by that damnable Rodney Kettleblack and the girl.

"It's happening, you know. The big happening of happenings? It's happening right now, boys... I can feel it down in my core. Oh sweet mother of Tiger Beat, it's happening!" Cleg spun his ruby red optical lens round and round at an incalculable speed, his casing vibrated and his arm servos, useless now since Trashcan snapped off his wire thin manipulators after he got trigger happy with an automatic shotgun, waggled about fruitlessly.

A shape in the distance blotted out the stars behind it, and in time the robots were blinded by an intense flash of light. It was a starship and it was braking to catch up with them. Trashcan thrashed around fearfully, his hooks a danger to anyone that floated too close. "Keine Sorge, Trashcan ... Was als nächstes kommt, ist nichts, vor dem man Angst haben muss." Pablo said softly, consoling his troubled friend. "We 'ave t' git outta 'ere!" It was useless for Pablo to try, Trashcan was panicked. Cleg, however, was oddly silent.

"Und du, Cleg? Ich kann dich jetzt nicht verrückt machen lassen, was uns bevorsteht, ist unbekannt." Pablo was terse, his natural leadership programming was switching on. "I'll be fine, Pablo. Anything I say or do now won't change a thing." Cleg was speaking nearly entirely in static pops and hisses at this point, but Pablo received the receipt of the message. Slowly, an intense rectangle of bright white light began to form, and at its apex was the silhouette of a woman, holding on to a railing. The adjustments of the attitude thrusters bumped and jostled her slightly as the ship positioned itself to catch the robots and the escape capsule of Colonel David Gry'Zhuul.

OOC:

This post is a continuation of sorts of The Good Ship Royal Future, a thread that involved the cooperation of several players. The characters are good, so I'm bringing them back. Here's a link to the original post for reference: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=305113
Last edited by Auman on Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Alexzonya
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Alexzonya » Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:43 pm

Thallia System, Unified Thallian Alliance, Northeast Gamma Quadrant
T-3 Minutes to Thallian Gate Activation

The Thallian Assemblyman, a human like so many others that dotted (some say littered) the galaxy, looked on somewhat irritably from his ship; there was polite conversation all around, but he was lost in thought and brooding. He was a guest on a rich industrialists' private vessel, one of two-dozen civilian yachts in a makeshift flotilla that had assembled among the Thallian elite to watch the proceedings on so important a day. A group of Thallian warships, mostly corvettes, were closer to the new gate itself to monitor the final power-up sequence, though they almost seemed to fade into the background relative to the construct.

The largest ships in the system, though, weren’t Thallian, but Alexzonyian; a more than a dozen hulking engineering vessels, with a smaller group of escorts that were nonetheless larger and noticeably more advanced than their watchful Thallian counterparts. Distances between neighbors in this part of the Milky Way could be hundreds or thousands of light-years, and so the word was almost non-applicable, but a few months ago the Thallian’s Alexzonyian ‘neighbors’ had approached the the government with a proposal. Gamma quadrant was alight, or would be soon, with major trade gates, but those gates were to be routed through only the largest and most influential nations. One-and-two-system powers like the Thallians were being left in the dark; what little trade now trickled through their systems would soon grind to a halt, once they could simply be bypassed.

The Alexzonyians, one of the sponsors of the major gate systems now under construction, had a solution: a secondary network of smaller, less-expensive, shorter-ranged gates running through the smaller, spread out countries of Gamma, to connect them, safely and securely, to the trade hub the Alexzonyians were building in their own territory, and thus to the new Galactic Commerce Corridors. The Thallian government had hastily agreed.

All for the low, low cost of unrestricted military access and what bordered on economic neo-colonialism the Assemblyman thinks rebelliously. He was one of the minority who voted against the gate, but he had to admit that the structure was quite impressive in person, even as he knew, academically, that this was supposed to be a ‘small’ gate. And being in the innocuously named “Northeast Gamma Trade Network” might have advantages: prosperity, perhaps, and security. It had been a hard vote, but as he eyes the sleek Alexzonyian warships, he reminds himself that his people couldn’t be forever reliant on the goodwill of the great powers, for they would always want something in return. Surely, Alexzonyian firms would invade their markets. Alexzonyian ships would use Thallia (the foreigners stubbornly called it Thallia Prime, in their convention) as a base for their patrols (they had already started building a small complex attached to the gate, for monitoring and ship resupply)… and moreover , a toll would be collected for every ship that passed through the gate. It was more voluntary than extortion, but it still left a bad taste in the Assemblyman’s mouth.

And it wasn’t just Thallia. Thallia’s friends in the Byzantium system had received and accepted a similar offer, near the Delta-Gamma border. As had the amphibious people of Aquaris… it seemed that the Alexzonyians were just as willing to build gates for ‘lesser species’ as they were for humans. Another example, the usually-warlike Myrr, though how the Alexzonyians had persuaded them… through intimidation, surely? Though the recluses of Rengar III were known to have refused, and thus far there hadn’t been any obvious sign of repercussions… not directly. One wondered when the other shoe would drop.

The Assemblyman went back to watching the gate, glancing periodically at the countdown clock. The time was coming soon. It was only 40 seconds later that the timer hit T-0… and space began to warp in the interior of the gate. It was stark, how quickly the Origami rupture formed, piercing straight through space-time to link Thallia to Avalon, in Alexzonya. And so a new era begins… whether we wanted it or not. He claps politely, as do the others on the yacht, though some with more enthusiasm.

Avalon System, Galactic Republic of Alexzonya, Gamma Quadrant
T-0 Minutes to Thallian Gate Activation

A parallel series of events had begun in the Avalon System, now the GRA’s primary trade hub, but with some noticeable differences. Avalon was far busier than Thallia; it seemed that half of the system was under construction. The early skeleton of a massive ring orbited the primary world, Avalon Prime, while more scaffolding and mobile structural fabricators worked diligently on the frames of more gates; a few enormous gates that would someday soon lead to Cerulean, Caan Wa, Forklis, with slightly different and more complete gates heading for Tezekis and Auman. Set aside from them were a larger number of smaller frames; it was in one of these secondary clusters that the Thallia gate now sat, the second to be activated in this section, after the Aquaris gate. Other secondary clusters, set a bit away from this area, led to other GRA-controlled systems; clusters of secondary gates, together like grapes on a stem. Throughout the area, probes hovered in carefully-maintained orbits, showing safe pathings from one area to the next, interacting with IFFs from the GRA and abroad in safely guiding each ship to its destination. Space stations, adapted from the designs for the GRA’s orbital defenses, floated in silent overwatch of each cluster, ensuring the safety of the system and everything that came in or out.

It was in the station closest to the Thallian gate that the GRA delegation, and the Ambassador from the Thallian Alliance, watched the proceedings. The Ambassador had a glass of some sort of amber-colored liquor; the man next to him, some kind of off-white cream drink.

“It’s done,” state the ambassador, evenly, though he betrays a small smile; he had been a proponent of the gate project ever since the Alexzonyians had proposed it. This was a victory! It was just uncouth to show as much. He looks over to his GRA colleague; not the fluttering hangers-about from the Foreign Affairs Advisory, but the fleet officer, the Admiral in his dress uniform. The one who had negotiated the whole endeavor, from start to finish, while the foreign affairs advisory muddled about, bogged down in procedure and protocol.

“No, my friend,” the admiral replies, with a smile. “This is just the beginning.” He sips his drink, while the ambassador hides a small.

“Indeed,” he acknowledges. ”So it is.”

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Postby Alexzonya » Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:50 pm

A Horizon Daily Herald Special Feature
Artificial Intelligence and Related Topics


With Court Settlement, AI Bureau Approves New Companion AI

HORIZON CENTER -- After a court battle that has raged for almost a year, today the Artificial Intelligence Regulatory Bureau (AIRB) reached a negotiated settlement with Dennis High Technology (DHT) to permit the firm’s new Zephyr AI to enter production.

DHT first submitted filings related to the Zephyr AI class to the AIRB more than 13 months ago. Touted by the manufacturer as the first of its kind, the Zephyr’s is unique from existing artificial intelligences in that the processors are much smaller than those used in previous generations of AI.

Called an S-class AI, a Zephyr has processing power said to be roughly equivalent to average organic sapiants, and thus is much less powerful than the powerful mainframe-sized AIs most often used in the military, government, and by large corporations. However, the Zephyr uses very little power, and can be implanted directly into mobile chasses small enough to take humanoid forms or be installed directly into homes or small offices without special modification.

The AIRB originally rejected the filing without comment, a controversial move that caused DHT to file suit. The court originally ruled for DHT, but an appeals court stepped in and issued an injunction against DHT’s production efforts until the government had exhausted the appeals process. Reported warned by counsel that a loss on merits was likely, the AIRB has approved the Zephyr’s release under a modified regulatory scheme.

Drafted with the assistance of cybernetic experts from the Phoenix Domain, the new regulations will take effect immediately for Zephyr AIs and starting at the beginning of the next month for all other classes of AI. The changes formalize AI self-ownership; a concept that courts have previously upheld, but that many experts claimed was only partially acknowledged by the outgoing AI regulations.

According to the outgoing rules, AI created in Alexzonya were subject to a period of indenture to whichever entity had commissioned their creation. While the AIRB strictly regulated those entities to “ensure fair treatment” of AIs, the AIRB and courts have previously acknowledged the uncomfortable implications raised by the rules. The AIRB had claimed that enforcement of these rules for Zephyrs would be onerous, given the production numbers are expected to be in the millions.

The new rules take a different approach. Rather than requiring an indenture, all new AI created in Alexzonya subject to the new rules will be assigned a monetary debt in place of the old indenture. Additionally, rather than being ‘possessed’ by whatever entity commissions them, the services of Zephyrs and any future AIs of the S-class will be ‘contracted’; the Zephyr will retain the right to end the contract at any time, as if they were an employee.

“We think the new rules are fair and reasonable,” said a spokesperson for the AIRB. “They protect the interests of all stakeholders involved in this process: government, manufacturers, consumers, and the AIs themselves.” The AIRB also thanked “their friends in the [Phoenix Domain] government” for assisting in drafting the new regulations.

Not everyone, however, is content with the new rules. A spokesbeing from the Alexzonyian Progress! Party stated that the changes were insufficient. “While some claim these new rules to be a step in the right direction, the sad truth is that these changes do next-to-nothing to end the oppression of synthetic organisms in this country. So long as their existence is contingent on serving a particular corporation or private entity, AI are not truly free, and the paradigm of oppression will continue.”

When asked, the Alexzonyian News Network’s B-class AI, Amira, was upbeat about the changes. “The old system worked fine and treated us fairly, but it did raise some uncomfortable implications about AI rights. I’m glad that the government has found a way to eliminate the contradictions and bring the rights of sapient beings and their AI policies into sync.”

Disclaimer: The Alexzonyian News Network, a journalistic partner of the Horizon Daily Herald, employs an Amira AI, and so is affected by the regulations covered by this reporting.

Yes, Sir(cuit)? Starfleet Grants All Fleet AIs Formal Rank

HORIZON CENTER -- In what Starfleet officials described as an “overdue formalization of a long-standing convention regarding the use of [artificial intelligences],” all artificial intelligences currently serving in the Starfleet have been granted the military rank of “Specialist”, which according to sources has been positioned to be equivalent in rank to organic Sergeants, but without formal standing as a non-commissioned officer. Additionally, a spokeperson for Starfleet informed the Herald that all artificial intelligences that were killed in action or have otherwise left the armed services have been awarded the rank retroactively.

Previously, while AI were an important part of Alexzonya’s warfighting capabilities, being installed on virtually all military vessels and in most major ground installations, they had no formal standing as Starfleet servicemembers. Instead, a set of conventions adopted early on in the military’s integration of AI had ensured that, while the AI had no formal rank, they were only required to take orders directly from commissioned officers, or from a “non-commissioned officer in-charge” if no one of higher rank was available.

With their new standing as “Specialists”, that won’t change. The largest change is that AI are now formally servicemembers, and so are eligible to receive medals and other awards just like any organic being serving in the Starfleet. Officials stated that they are currently reviewing action reports to grant campaign patches and other awards, retroactively, to AI who would have otherwise earned them.

Senator Timothy Barry (Conservative - Olympia Prime), a member of the Senate’s Starfleet Oversight Committee, noted in a press release that “He is proud that his nation is giving all of their servicemembers, organic and synthetic, the recognition they deserve for putting their lives on the line for the Republic.” Both Conservative and Labor parties have been broadly supportive of the change, despite some reported internal misgivings by isolated members within each.

While the political mainstream was generally supportive of the changes, both Alexzonya Progress! and the Alexzonyian National Front were more skeptical. “[t]he idea that a bit of silicon and electricity is the same thing as a living, breathing person is just silly,” said a spokesman for the National Front. “Warships serve admirably too, but you don’t pin medals on the hull so they don’t feel left out.”

Alexzonya Progress!, on the opposite side of the political spectrum, also blasted the changes. “The idea that our government’s complicity in forcing synthetic citizens into military service can be eased by giving them shiny baubles is insulting to our intelligence and to artificial intelligence. Until the government admits that their process of creating AI solely for the purposes of killing other sapiants is an immoral act, it’s impossible for us to condone what they’re doing,” states a Spokesbeing.

In the lead up to the changes, the Daily Herald, in collaboration with the Alexzonyian News Network, conducted a poll of past and current servicemembers. They found that 63% of those surveyed were supportive of the change, while only 9% were opposed (28% were indifferent or undecided on the matter).

According to a technical reading of fleet regulations, it is now possible that, in a narrow set of circumstances, an AI may become the highest-ranking servicemember and thus take command of a Starfleet ship. Experts said that, while theoretically possible, such a scenario would require “a catastrophic depletion of manpower on board a ship, to the point that no organic [officers] have survived. That’s not a ship; that’s a wreck.” Still, the door is now open, officially, to AI to take command. Many have speculated that in the future, Starfleet will allow them to do exactly that under less-dire circumstances.

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Postby Auman » Thu Jul 26, 2018 1:48 pm

Grav plating held them all firmly to the deck, the low gravity of the dwarf planet Haumea overcome by the power of technology some months ago. In the grand hall of New Maui's newly constructed trade center stood assembled hundreds of dignitaries from all walks of life, from the military to the Church and even the trade unions that made this economic pipe dream a reality. Real wooden tables were scattered in neatly organized clusters upon a rich red carpet, flecked with gold and crushed purple velvet. The walls were ivory-cream, treated stone harvested from Medean grave worlds in the Gamma quadrant. In the center of the room, high above the crowd, hung a brilliantly detailed map of Sol, the birthplace of mankind that shifted cinematically between every world in the system, lingering oh-so-much longer on the red planet, Mars - Auman's destiny - than any other.

Overlord Samoth Uyghur, a diminutive man with a cleanly shaved head and skin so dark that it seemed to absorb the light around him, mingled with the guests... Sharing inspirational words and promises of the future. Commander Zebulon E. Stander watched the crowd suspiciously, flanked by the hulking combat robot that was his partner, Torus, that had been freshly painted in the dark blue and white livery of the Frontier Marshals. Zeb had been the colonial governor of Haumea ever since he and Torus had taken down a gang of pirates that set up shop here, the annexation went smoothly after that.

How long would that last, however?

"Bad times are coming." Said Torus, leaning on a table carelessly, without actually putting any weight on it. "Nothing we haven't handled before." Zeb flexed his prosthetic arm, the synthetic muscles of his hand squelching like leather. "Nah, nothing like this. This is different, you're too young to understand what happens next... So am I, but my father? He grew up in this system. It's a bad place."

"You say that so often, I just tune it out." Said Zeb, idly.

The hologram shifted, this time it was different.

A gate complex appeared, a ring composed of hundreds of segments, twirled on its axis to allow the elites to get a good look at its dimensions. Torus scooped up a glass of whiskey from a tray and thanked the waitress before gulping it down. "This gate, it's a portal to hell." Torus said, the bite of the liquor registering in his pleasure circuits. "The game has changed, Tor." Albedo, a baseball sized drone, chirped as it buzzed by the optical array that passed for Torus's head. Torus nodded, "But the players stay the same." Zeb listened to the old war machine, soaking up the wisdom, and put the pieces together in his head. They should have been shipped out weeks ago, but the order hasn't come through yet... And he noticed the sideways glances that the Overlord had been making at him.

"Yeah..." Zeb lit up a cigarette and considered the blazing cherry for a moment before taking a drag.

"The game has changed. The players have changed. Everything has changed. Nothing is static in the universe, least of all people. One moment, two people can be bitter enemies, and the next those same people can become the best of friends. Our people, the Aumanii people, have changed and many say for the better... It's through our actions that we shall be judged, Tor." Albedo's never been shy about sharing her opinions. "People change as much as they stay the same... But ignoring the realities of humanity, such as it is, we aren't necessarily dealing with humans here. People die, their kids take up the reins and they rule based on their values... But what about a civilization where the rulers last forever? Where even the lowest peasant member of this society is immortal? Where a single man can guide the policy, and hold on to grudges, for an eternity? This is the galaxy we live in now, where even staunch Aumanii Adventists can live for hundreds of years." Torus tapped his breast plate as if to say "You're talking to one."

"Even they can change their minds. I've seen it." Zeb added.

"I lived on Mars for a total of two years, I don't even remember it... But I'll hate these Solarians until the day that I die. If I get the pleasure." Torus stood up straight and flagged down another server.

"This is where you and I are different," Albedo said, her voice exasperated, "I refuse to hold onto my hatred."

"You can hate things?" Chuckled Stander, reaching for a glass of rye whiskey at the same time as Torus. He thanked the waitress and turned back to Albedo.

"Yes, I can. Hatred, joy, love, passion... Every emotion that a human can feel, I experience too. But hate? I don't savor that at all, but our friend Torus nurses it like a child. Raising it, grooming it and coddling it. I understand a great deal about many things, but I'll never be able to grasp that."

The Overlord stepped up to the podium, the Aumanii flag flanked him on either side, his own drone stood off behind him, projecting a photorealistic avatar of the perfect image of the Aumanii fighting man. Uyghur's speech began as they always did, humble, and over the course of several minutes built into a monumental patriotic love letter to the achievements of man...

"Life began on Earth, it was our mother and greatest teacher. Without this planet, humanity would be nothing. It is the focal point of our history and the divining rod of mankind's greatness. From this world, we expanded out to claim our destiny... The stars belonged to us, if only we reached for them. The explorer's spirit, taught to us by our own Mother Earth, drew us onward, ever further. Our bravery pushed us into lands that were hostile us and our ingenuity sustained us as our people clutched to the rock and sand of our first home away from home... Our home, our destiny."

"He's talking about Mars, isn't he?" Zeb smirked.

"Yes, I do believe he is." Torus grunted.

"He's not going to just come out and say it, of course. Too provocative. The Overlord is a competent ruler, but he's no Navarrone." The biting liquor triggered the pleasure receptors in Zeb's brain.

"Navarrone was an idiot, you know. I was there, I even met him once." Torus reached out and grabbed Zeb's smoke and took a puff.

"An idiot with a plan is better than a genius without a clue. If ol' Russ' Blaster had half the resources Uyghur has, we would own the galaxy by now." Reverend Jones interrupted the conversation to shake Stander's hand.

"What a momentous occasion this is, for all of us... For the Milky Way! The light of justice has returned, my brother and my Lord is it blinding!" Jones proselytized, raising his hands to the sky... Old habit of terrestrial people visiting space. The sun was behind them and to the left. Zeb nodded politely and returned the message. Reverend Jones wandered away as if in a drunken stupor.

"When everyone is trying to leave this cursed shit hole, we're the only ones trying to get back in. If we opened a window and had everyone take a look at the Earth, how many people do you think would go into convulsions? Fractality is dangerous and even setting foot on this chunk of shitty rock is an abomination before God." Pastor Bogatyr could be heard hissing at his wife. He was the leader of the Aumanii Escapist Cult of the Foundationalist Church and, from what Zeb knew, he had to be escorted here at gunpoint. He noted the two stern looking men in suits standing immediately behind him and smiled.

The Overlord lead a countdown, from ten to one... The crowd joined along, more or less excited and jubilant about the prospects. Once the Ovelord had finished, everyone had turned to face the projector and the lights dimmed. Floating gently in the void was the gate, stars twinkled between the gentle curves of the aperture.

A voice crackled, transmitted through the monitors and speakers that surrounded the room. The acoustics were perfect... The experience was fully immersive.

"All systems are nominal."

A large cord popped away from the gate with a puff of white steam.

"Understood, the board is green. All hands, prepare for transition." This voice was different, deep and thick.

The stars disappeared, the far end of the gate was obscured for Zeb where he stood, he moved around the room to fully appreciate the orb that was now situated within the gate's aperture... Featureless nothingness. Nothing happened for several minutes and then suddenly, a ship darted through it in a blue of motion. The camera tracked it and kept pace with its impressive motion. She was black, well armed and glistening with ice that sublimated exquisitely.

"This is the Glorious Heritage-class Battlecruiser Tanagra, how are we looking CAPCON?" the voice belonged to Fleet General Talltrees.

"Beautiful, absolutely beautiful!" A woman wept.

"Everything is good, Tanagra. Welcome home."
Last edited by Auman on Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:36 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Allanea
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Capitalist Paradise

Postby Allanea » Fri Jul 27, 2018 3:47 am

On a balcony of Minas-Faerie, Liberty-City

"Many people have asked me, Rudolph, why I accumulated such vast wealth." – Alexander Blaken-Kazansky spoke. He was tall, almost unreasonably tall – a slender, tall, elegant figure. A shapechange, he chose today to alter his form, adding a pair of vast, black wings, spread out behind his back as he stood on the balcony of his palace. "Now, of course, the obvious part is the luxury. I have delightful food, a collection of books and weapons, a dozen palaces throughout the world. But it is not the principal reason. If you had a billion dollars, you could afford any delights that are needed to nourish a person's body and soul. Place the billion in savings accounts, and you've established yourself a pension of perhaps two million every month without ever touching the principal – in other worlds, whatever pleasures you could ever desire, they would be yours. Rare books, wines aged a millennium, Napoleon's own socks, a yacht… anything. So, one would ask, why do you need more, Mr. Blaken-Kazansky?"

The young man who stood next too him looked back, he was not nearly as tall. Aged just over sixteen, he would be considered a mere boy in his native country. Had he been born in Allanea, he'd just be barely old enough to vote.

"Why do you need more, Mr. Blaken-Kazansky?" – the young man echoed.

"That is a real question. The truth is, of course, that the world is full of adventure and tragedy, tears and laughter. With trillions of dollars at my disposal, I can right wrongs, move mountains – change worlds, really. I do not need to go through a Senate Committee – this is my own money. I earned it. It is as legal as any other man's money. And it is as much an instrument of the various… shall we say… Kazansky adventures, as my swords or guns or whatsoever. "

"I…" – for a moment, the young man's eyes trailed away from the King's face, and towards the horizon. There, silhouetted against the reddish sunset skies, three cargo vessels were rising. Their engines did not breathe fire, there was no roar – gravitic engines enabled them to simply soar elegantly, as if flight was but their natural part. Even from here it was obvious that the ships were vast in proportions – each of them, hundreds of meters long.

"Wow." – the young man said with feeling. "Are those…. What we came here to watch, ser?"

"The very same. They carry gifts to the Aumanii people. They are coming back to Sol. I have always said they would be back." – Alexander was smiling, both because of the news that he heralded, and because he enjoyed the look on the young man's face – excited, bewildered, his sapphire-blue eyes wide with amazement.

"The Aumanii!" – Rudolph repeated – "Are the stories all true, Ser?"

"Absolutely. They are brave, honest, and stubborn, and they make the finest beer."


* * * *


Haumea

The Allanean ships emerged into existence once more, with radiant flashes of pure, bluish-white light heralding their coming. There were several cargo ships, some which were filled with wealth from Alexander's wallet, and others from those of his friends. The Allaneans enjoyed communicating to others through gifts, and here there were of course gifts for the Aumanii.

Some of these gifts were simple ones – industrial equipment, generators, and suchlike, the Allaneans had researched the most urgent needs of the Aumanii. Others were more frivolous – thousands of tons of toys, clothes, simple jewels to distribute to children and adults throughout the nation. Some were sharp Armatax knives and swords, others were plush animals, yet others were action figures representing heroes from Auman's and Allanea's fast. A small freighter carried a thousand casks of ale, and one of the larger cargo ships carried multiple containers that were filled with deep-smoked kabanosy.

Yet other gifts were more unusual, and perhaps more unique to Allanea. Bottles of orc-brew -in a small quantity, perhaps enough to be enjoyed by Aumanii leadership, the staff at Haumea, and a few hundred more people around the distribution chain – rested in one of the ships, in dark-brown glass bottle each held in a weaved straw protector. Cigarettes – Chester, and some other Allanean brands – filled shipping containers.

The larger freighters would begin their journey to the main Aumanii worlds, while the smaller ones set to dock at Haumea. There, many of the staff would see their first Allaneans in many a year. These seemed young, dressed in colorful clothing. Some had their hair done up in bright, unusual colors, others wore clothing and jewelry with glowing lights weaved into it. And all were ready to greet the Aumanii as long-lost brothers and friends.

As the Allaneans rushed dockside, one could hear the pop and hiss sounds of bottles of champagne being uncorked, the cheers of the first Freemen to come aboard, and, of course, the sounds of music. It was clearly their intent to start a party.


*


The Free Kingdom Senate, Liberty-City

"As the Speaker of the Senate, I would like to place, on the agenda of this august body, the announcement that, as of 13:17 today, Liberty-City clock, the Aumanii have set up an interstellar portal to the Kuiper belt body of Haumea. I believe that these news are important enough to be brought to the attention of the entire Senate."

For several seconds, there was silence, as the implication of these words fully sunk in. At one side of the room, people broke out into curses. "Fuck the Aumanii!" "Not this shit again, are you real?"

But they were drowned out, swiftly. Senator Brett Kargin cheered and hooted, rising from his seat, and around him the junior Senators applauded. On the other side of the hall, Kevin Platov roared delight, two of the other Senators seated next to him lifting him in the air.

In short, jubilation filled the Senate hall, a jubilation as inexplicable to an outsider as it was loud and boisterous.
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Ex-Nation

Postby Kash Island » Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:11 pm

SHIRU, Kash Conglomerate Space

Shiryu is a gambling world, where money meets wits. The planet orbits a bright star but you would never know living on the world that rotated around it. Swamped by constant thundering rainstorms and covered in massive cracks from primordial asteroid strikes it is a rough world on the surface, where even the local fauna has evolved to be more than exceptionally dangerous. As such, when the Conglomerate finally decided to set foot on the planet it decided that the populations it would migrate would resides within the massive cracks, away from the dark and hellish surface. Now a bustling world for gambling, black market goods, Shiru goes about in it's business. It is hardly a place for retirement, but the cost of living is cheap and so is the sake

Note: Strawman: A derogatory term for a Duplicant


Father Time(Short Story)


Allen Forrest was an old man, tired of his existence in a tired place. He slurped up a bowl of hot noodles and shrimp in the small restaurant he was in. He was a regular, someone the owners could almost always count on to stop by and pass a few Kashels there way for a warm bite in this cold, dark and damp world. He sat near the window where the rain from the heavens finally made it's way, pattering against the synth-crete cat-walks that covered the crevasse metropolis. The red holographic sign " Meye Nudle" cast a warm glow onto the ground. This wasn't an exactly well traveled area as only small spurts of people walked past. Truth be told, he didn't come here because it had the best noodles, but because it was relatively close to his apartment. Finishing the last sip of his soup, wiping the juice away from his semi-neat white beard, Allen stood up and left his tip as he put his raincoat on and vacated the restaurant.

Pushing open the door and exiting exposed him to a rush of cold, damp wind across his worn face and hands. He felt his shoulder joint ache from the cold as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of neuroglasses, a much cheaper alternative to integrated ocular augmentation. They were simple glasses that interfaced with the user and acted as a communication device among other basic tasking. Allen was somewhat of an outcast, he joined the Conglomerate in early adulthood but never shared the same obsessive need for cybernetic alteration that so many around him chose to undergo. That isn't to say he didn't believe in it, just that his economic situation and needs were not keen for it, besides, the glasses were a killer deal.

The glasses adjusted his eyes to the darkness, just enough to be comfortable, and he began his slow trek back to his apartment. The wines of Conglomerate Police could be heard in the distance through the rain, another chase, another poor dead bastard they would throw down some deep dark hole. He figured that it was some fool who violated his contract. Luckily for him, he was retired and living on a Conglomerate pension, a meager one at that. Allen was close to saving for a Hover Scooter, the nice new silver one that the Conglomerate had come out with. It was a two seater, sealed with all the bells and whistles. For now, walking was his game though.

Finally reaching his building Allen looked up and at the front, it was grey with greenish-blue lightning illuminating the entrance. Upkeep was down and rent was up, nothing that would hurt his feelings though. He passed through the entrance and was met by grim but utilitarian hallways, with many holoads splashing his path with dancing lights. Many of them glitched and flickered, were out of date, or simply no longer functional. Allen pressed his hand against the scanner to his apartment and then placed a key in the door and turned. Two methods of entry were better than one, and almost nobody used physical keys these days but him. He smelled the familiar smell of his surroundings, a dim light over his bed, almost guiding him over.

He took his jacket off and places his boots to the side, scratching his neck where one could see a piece of augmentation, a pulse regulator. The implant allowed him to have more energy in the day and took a lot of work off his old heart. He layed down in his bed, he would shower in the morning instead. As he lay looked over in his small studio apartment on the wall next to his computer terminal, the Conglomerate Corporate war medals and live holopics could be just visible in the dim light. Allen then took his glasses off and set them to the side before turning off the light and clutching his pillow. The sounds of the past, of youth, taunted and played with him before he fell into sleep.

BANG!..."FUCKING STRAWMAN!"

Allen's eyes shot wide open, his body tensing up and a shot of adrenaline passed into his body at the gunfire outside. Then all fell silent and soon after a whimpering could be heard. Allen closed his eyes again, waiting for whatever death to take the noise from haunting him. A voice crying for help before becoming quieter and quieter.

No more please... He thought to himself, he felt weak, an old man in a new age.

Now all was silent and he almost feel back into the dreams cape...but a noise came again...faint but still there. Ten minutes went by before he finally stood up and nervously grabbed his daily items, threw his coat and boots back on and went outside. Wiping his glasses he left his apartment and walked outside to where the noise came from, sure that whatever had occurred was over now. Almost limping his way, the short journey took him to the garbage disposal to the building. The closer he got, the more he could hear. A whimpering yet again in the darkness. He adjusted the brightness on his lenses as he rounded a corner and saw what had happened.

A Duplicant, child model, no doub't to fulfill some family's desire for child rearing. The organosynthetic material that made her look almost human was not the same, a bullet hole had passed through her rib cage, cracking multiple systems and bio-synthetic materials and she was leaking fluid. Her eyes were full with fear and if there were tears they were lost in the rain. He leaned down and placed his hand on her face.

" Who did this to you?" He asked calmly before taking off his coat and wrapping it around his waist to cover the wound as best as he could, grabbing her hands and placing them on the injury to apply pressure.

The synthetic child shook her head, to scared and in to much pain to explain, only uttering a simple statement.

"He will..be back..." She said, pointing a feeble finger at vehicle with the door open. Allen looked around quickly and before grabbing her frail body. Were he a younger man this would have been childs play, but his old body felt her weight against his chest and arms. Regardless, he mustered enough strength to carry her to the vacant vehicle. His shirt was now getting soaked and he placed her into the back seat where bottles of liquor were abundant. He moved to the front and sat down inside, quickly closing the butterfly doors.

" Hospital, Emergency, Passenger Injured, Duplicant: Child Model." The vehicle provided the most direct route and notified the nearest triage center of the incident and off he sped. Other than taxis it had been some time since he was behind the wheel but it was easy enough. The world moved past with a fury as he hurried, occasionally looking into the mirror at the small child, now shivering.

Hurry up old man...shes going to die...

The vehicle jumped forward as he picked up speed. It wasn't long before a blinding light struck came from behind. He figured it was another driver, that was until the bolt of light came right towards him and smashed into the rear the the vehicle they were in. Allen lost control as they crashed into the rocky side of a crevice wall alongside the hover way, casting him into the abyss yet again.

His mind came back to him and he felt the cold rush of air, like when he exited the restaurant, came across his face and a strong hand pulled him from the vehicle and no so gently...tossed him to the ground. His glasses were gone but he could hear the men in the dark, there silhouettes against the neon of the city in the background.

" You think you can take my fucking car you old fuck? That Straw-BITCH is mine and I wasn't done with her." Said a voice. It looked like there were three men, one shorter than the rest. Next to him they had thrown down the child who wasn't moving.

" Please, just let us go..." Allen said, the water rain hitting him in the face, his beard shielding his chin. He noticed they were all carrying some kind of weapons, stolen police stun sticks that glowed in the dark.

" nah man...my car is fucked...and so are you" Said the voice as it brandished a silver coated firearm, most likely a pistol. He could see the glint from the light against it, like teeth in the dark. With what speed his old finger could bring to him Allen quickly drew a surprise from his waist band, a concealed weapon he had carried since he was young. He quickly squeezed the trigger firing off two shots which clearly missed their target. This caused the men to jump, their dark frames becoming tall for a moment.

" Holy shit!.." The voice said before nervously chuckling " Nice try....now die..." The voice said as the silver tooth floated up in a position aimed towards him before he heard a click. A panicked movement could be seen as the dark figure had forgotten to load a round into the chamber of his weapon. Allen flicked a switch on his weapon and squeezed again twice, with speed, sending two five round bursts of caseless munitions into the three shadows. The demons of the night fell over into the blackness and he gasped a sign of relief.

Slowly he got up, holstering his weapon and dragging the child into the backseat of the ramming vehicle. Things started to become a blur to Allen as he whizzed towards the greater lights before finally seeing a giant cross super imposed on Conglomerate logo. He pulled straight to the front of the hospital before stepping out, almost tripping. He yanked the backdoor open and with the last bit of strength left in his body began to carry her through the doors.

" Help...help" He yelled, his voice old and raspy, tired from the exchange only moments ago. Duplicant fluid was leaking on him, some red, some clear. Doctors swarmed and took the child from him, they also grabbed him by the arms and began to move him, to his surprise. They quickly sat the two next to one another. The place was crowded so space was a premium. Allen motioned for them to help the child, which they were, but some were grabbing at his neck, augmented doctors approached before he noticed the blood coming from his chest and the heat from his pulse implant working over time. A large shard of glass had sliced into his chest from the accident and punctured his heart.

The world was spinning and he was becoming very sleepy, he looked over the young girl to his left and she opened her eyes. Voices in the room shifted and he simply smiled a warm smile back at the child, in the background a man was muttering loudly before a great sleep fell over Allen " Jesus, the implant had been keeping him alive for this long...fucking father time over here."
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Allanea
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Capitalist Paradise

Postby Allanea » Wed Oct 03, 2018 1:04 am

Image


Dear friends!

In the course of my work as the Foreign Sales Executive for Allanean Defense Exports, I have become aware that the Co-Prosperity Sphere of Auman is seeking a large quantity of combat spacecraft, which would enhance its presence in the Sol system. As the Co-Prosperity Sphere of Auman is a long-term partner of the Free Kingdom of Allanea and Allanean heavy industry (the latter, both in terms of Aumanii industry and consumers and of Aumanii state agencies), as well as of Greater Prussia as a whole, I have taken it upon myself to volunteer a fairly simple deal which, I believe, would fill up many of the requirements of the Aumanii Navy.

As you may know, the decision had recently been made to create a series of standard designs for the Greater Prussian Fleet, which, albeit limite in their individual capability, are reliable, cheap, and easy to construct.

What I propose is the following arrangement:

1) A large series of warship hulls of the same type that is used by the Greater Prussian Navy (excepting certain specific patrol craft) will be manufactured for the use of the Aumanii armed services. These hulls will be provided without shield generators, plasma guns, life support, or drives, allowing fast construction, as well as installation of custom systems as compatible with Aumanii requirements.

2) 50% of the order will be filled by certified shipyards in the Free Kingdom of Allanea, and 50% will be filled by those in the Eternal Ascendancy of Menelmacar. The organizations contracted will include, but not be limited to, Fëanor Holdings and Yavanna Fleet Systems in Menelmacar, Allanean Arms and Hammond Motors in Allanea, and other companies in these nations which are certified by international ratings agencies as capable of filling large naval orders both in terms of production quality and reliability of their operations, with the exact breakdown of the orders to be filled out during detailed negotiations.

3) All contractors will hold third-party liability, product liability, environmental liability, professional liability, executive liability, as well as being insured against acts of war, terror, and natural disasters, and other forms of insurance as is typically required from naval contractors as required by good business practice and the cost of this insurance is included in the price for the products as will be negotiated by Allanean Defense Exports on behalf of these companies. The price itself will be standard throughout all contractors.

4) Payment will be made in Menelmacari Credits, linked to the interest rates on business accounts as charged by a reputable Menenelmacari bank, as well as to the consumer price index as published by the Menelmacari Prefecture of Finance, however in no event shall the nominal payment be less than what will be established by or negotiators. The first payment, equal to 50% of the overall cost, will be made upon the signing of the final agreement, whereas other payments, to 5% of the overall sum, will be paid regularly throughout the period of construction, conditional on the delivery of the products in actuality.

I am happy to answer any questions or clarifications from you.

Yours, Mikhail Kovalev,
Allanean Arms Foreign Sales Officer
Allanean Defense Exports Foreign Sales Officer
Last edited by Allanea on Wed Oct 03, 2018 1:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Auman
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Postby Auman » Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:29 pm

"We are at war, Major."

The words slapped the argument from his lips. The Overlord had spoken and there was nothing he could do at this point to dissuade him from this judgement. Samoth Uyghur, Overlord of the Aumanii state and patriarch of the Foundationalist Church, glared at Major Petarski, who had called this meeting in a moment of despair. The expansion of the Armed Forces that had been taking place was unprecedented. Orders were placed that boggled the mind and in order to meet them, an overhaul of the entire logistical system was necessary. These were difficult times.

"Or have you forgotten? Yes, it is safe in the Sphere... Our lives have not been interrupted. But this is through the grace of God and God alone. The Massacre at Tezekis could have happened to anyone. The wars in Delta have been going on longer than either of us have been alive with no resolution in sight... And you're sitting here in my office, telling me to stop?" Uyghur's yellowed eyes flared incredulously.

"Overlord, I feel that my argument is sound, sir." Petarski, an officer in payroll and logistics, mewed.

"The money... The foreign entanglement... The fucking industrial economies... I've heard you and I understood you, but it is people such as yourself that do not fully grasp the situation that this great Sphere has found itself. For 284 years, we have been able to make due with what we have because the galaxy was stagnant. For a universe constantly in motion, the Milky Way hardly budged an inch. Times are changing and we have to adapt. Lead, follow or get out of the way... That's what my daddy used to tell me. I'm no follower. Aumanii are leaders, Petarski. I find your lack of patriotism troubling."

"Overlord, there's absolutely no chance you'll consider my warning then, sir?"

"We will buy ships from MDA, we'll buy them from Seneca National Werks... We'll tap the Dornalians and the Thrashians and the Elf Queen... I'll even put a down payment on Alexander Kazansky's rowboat if I have to. To keep this nation safe and free. To maintain the sovereignty of all the good people of this galaxy, if it must be done. Besides, I have a responsibility to our employers." Uyghur grabbed a bottle of rye off his desk and poured a couple of glasses, handing one to Petarski.

"To the people?" Petarski asked, cribbing a line from the Oath of the Aumanii fighting man.

"To the people, our ancestors and God."

And with the conclusion of their toast, the last opposition to the Aumanii rearmament program faded away and the nation tread into uncharted territory.
Last edited by Auman on Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Auman » Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:12 am

Historic agreement reached on Right of Return

Jessica Wientraub

A historic deal has been reached in what was considered an increasingly troubled process, following the recent acquisition of traditionally Aumanii territory on Mars. Earlier in the year, the Radiant Empire of Scythia had purchased the land from the Martian Port Authority, triggering calls for war from Aumanii church leaders. In fact, all signs pointed towards a conflict on the horizon due to the deep cultural and historical significance of the land to the Aumanii people.

"When I first heard that our homeland was bought out by a foreign state, it felt like a punch in the gut." said Overlord Samoth Uyghur in a frank interview with the Associated Press. "We were under immense pressure from the hundreds of denominations throughout the Sphere. They wanted us to take action... And we did."

Negotiations between the Sphere and the Radiant had begun several months ago and continued in fits and starts. It wasn't until Empress Suzume, leader of the Radiant, declared publicly in a published news article her intention of settling our homeland that negotiators finally buckled down and got to work.

"The Scythians were not aware of the situation, didn't know about the Right of Return policy and we couldn't blame them for this. Every opportunity was seized to prevent a war from breaking out." said Daren Jones, civilian secretary of foreign affairs. While government officials stress the diplomatic process, people on the street took a more hardline approach.

"The land belongs to us by blood, no one can take away what has been secured by God." this phrase has been made popular by the Six Hour Adventist cult of the Foundationalist Church and has found root in hardcore jingoist circles, but the sentiment, however watered down, was shared by nearly everyone at a spontaneous street party that erupted in downtown Lake Patricia this morning. Many workers have failed to show up to work today, as celebrations take place in every city and town in the nation. Employers are remarkably lenient, even joining their employees in the street.

"This is a once in a life time event. Ever since we were kids, it has been pounded into our heads that we would be able to go home, to Mars. They were telling this to our great, great, great grandparents... Who would have thought it would happen now, for us?" Said Kent Reman, the owner of a steel fabrication plant, as he shared drinks with his tradesmen under a streetlamp in Ironmill.

Despite the optimisitic mood, there are others that take issue with the agreement. Parson Mulhavaiye, a member of God's Freemen, had this to say "Our ancestors fought, bled and died for that land. Suffered from tremendous acts of terror and intense attempts at wiping out our people... And we are settling for scraps. My father was a proud Turk until the day that he died and if he lived to see his land desecrated by these Scythians it would have broken his heart."

The Overlord took a more conciliatory tone to the process. "The Aumanii people are strong, wise and victorious. The land has fantastic meaning, it is the home of our people. What really matters, at the end of the day, is that we have it back and there is nothing in this galaxy, not anything, that can stop us once we put our mind to something. We are survivors of genocide, three times over. We will not give up, ever. This is the Aumanii way."
Last edited by Auman on Mon Dec 03, 2018 12:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Allanea
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Capitalist Paradise

Postby Allanea » Thu Nov 15, 2018 12:25 pm

Image
Official Message from the Free Kingdom Ministry of Foreign Affairs


The Free Kingdom of Allanea wishes to express its unconditional approval for the peaceful resolution of the dispute between the Co-Prosperity Sphere of Auman and the Radiant Empire of Scythia. We have always disapproved of the Martian Port Authority's takeover of Aumanii lands, and have always disapproved of the Martian Port Authority assuming the role of an administrator of all unoccupied Martian soil. Our support for the Aumanii is long-standing, and dates back long before the genocidal terrorist attacks that had forced their tragic withdrawal from the planet Mars. Their return is nothing short of a restoration of historic justice.

The Co-Prosperity Sphere of Auman is not only a strategic partner for Allanea in the security sphere, but it is also an important trade partner. As a member of the Reichsburg Free Trade Agreement, it is one of the larger and more advanced economies with which the Free Kingdom had established a relationship, and we hope that the return of the Co-Prosperity Sphere of Auman to Mars is a step towards greater economic growth and progress for both that nation and its regional neighbours.

Further, we would like to relay to the Aumanii government that Governor Nikolai Callahan, the current elected executive leading the state of Karintha (or, in short, what would typically be referred to as our 'colony' on Mars), will be holding a party at the Governor's Mansion next week to celebrate the return of the Aumanii.

May the Gods shield and protect our Aumanii friends.

And may they forever continue to bless Allanea.
Last edited by Allanea on Thu Nov 15, 2018 12:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Lady Scylla
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Ex-Nation

Postby Lady Scylla » Thu Nov 15, 2018 1:53 pm

A People Divided, A Nation United



Empress Suzume made her appearance before crowds today in the new Scythian capital of Azura on Mars. Addressing the nation, she thanked her Aumanii counter-parts, and her own delegation team in bringing a peaceful resolution to an otherwise tense scenario. As a pandemic in the Scythian home nebula wreaks havoc, a large exodus had been mounted by civilians to return to Mars; a planet the present generations have not seen, and one that has not felt the feet of a Scythian for two-hundred years.

In a landmark deal, the Aumanii and Scythians made a series of territorial concessions back and forth, before the final bell that could push these two nations to war. Old Vascilia was returned to the Aumanii, with the Scythian Northern and Southern territories being linked finally to create one contiguous state on Mars. Further negotiations are now ongoing, but many agree that the deal was a major benefit in ensuring peace and stability in Sol.

And while hundreds of thousands flee from the Radiant Nebula across the galaxy, the government has reiterated its stance that it has not abandoned the region, and will be maintaining a heightened military presence in the nebula until the pandemic comes to an end. Many have also come to question Scythian acquisitions in other conflicts, with the Ministry of Defense stating that the nation would maintain its operational capabilities in those regions.

Even with such a shake-up of the Scythian Empire, the Empress remarked on how fortune had favoured them regardless. The move back to Mars, and the retaining of inter-galactic territories has been lauded as a major milestone for the Empire, moving from a quadrant state, to a galactic one with political pull from Alpha to Delta. ''We suffer setbacks. But we always prevail,'' the Empress was quoted as saying. Despite these claims, it is clear that the Scythian state has begun to shift focus to more domestic issues. A drive for diplomacy with a number of states, and a slow down on territorial expansion is likely a blessing to many states that have watched, with great concern, an unchecked Scythian expansion run wild in Delta.

While the original capital world of the Empire is being abandoned, the exodus is felt less so in other systems across the Radiant Nebula as Scythians continue to live out their daily lives despite the pandemic. Some analysts have describes the transition as the Scythians turning into a 'Maritime' power instead of one singled in a central area as before. Whether or not this is true, remains to be seen.

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New Dornalia
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New York Times Democracy

Postby New Dornalia » Sun Nov 18, 2018 5:03 pm

NORINCO HQ
Beijing, China, Earth SSR
Colonial Republic of Earth


Henry J. Dockery hated these trips.

Before the NORINCO leaks, he had once been a mild-mannered government bureaucrat with a simple job within the Office of Special Investigations for the Department of Justice. Review receipts, attorney billing, so on, and audit the hell out of anything that looked suspicious. It was decent pay, monotonous work, but it was steady. Safe. Sane, even.

Now, thanks to some meddling a while back, he was making his umpteenth trip to the headquarters of the North China Industries Corporation. NORINCO for short. The massive gated and guarded compound with a large, dystopian, obsidian, red-highlighted twisted parody of older structures like the Forbidden City came into view. It was as if NORINCO didn’t even try to hide the fact they did business a bit differently than anyone else. Fine with Henry. “Hammerin’ Hank” Dockery had worked his way to a prominent spot on the Senate Subcommittee on Arms Manufacturing Sales, investigating NORINCO’s activities with a fine toothed comb and zero tolerance for shenanigans.

So far, his investigative work had resulted in a number of executives testifying before the Senate Subcommittee, and also revealed a wealth of information. Still, given the tenacity of NORINCO’s lawyers and the fact there was simply so much to do--especially since NORINCO kept on doing business even as the Subcommittee did its work--the investigation was dragging on and on.

And now, it had acquired a brand new item to investigate. One he would discuss with his opposite number at NORINCO.

Walking past the secretary with a determined stride, a flash of a badge and an annoyed look on his face which silenced the secretary before she could grill Mr. Dockery on his intentions as well as a briefcase in his right hand, Hank walked up to a pair of double doors carved out of fine wood with the Chinese characters for “fortune” and “happiness” on them, and knocked with two solid thumps of his left hand. There was also a plaque on the door which read, “James Yang Chau-Sang” in Chinese and English script.

No answer.

So, again came the two solid thumps, along with an annoyed Bostonian accent, “I know you’re there, Jimmy. Open up. It’s Hank Dockery. Don’t make me kick this door down, I’m in a fighting mood.”

No answer.

Then after several seconds, the door locks clicked and whirred, before the doors opened inwards in a slow, dramatic fashion.

Greeting Hank was a tall, smiling man in his thirties with a white Stetson, a fine slate gray silk suit and a few other similarly attired individuals who nodded and took their leave, filing past Hank. No one exchanged glances, but Hank could see them whisper in an annoyed fashion out of the corner of his eye. Hank nodded, and stormed inside, with Jimmy opening his hands and bellowing in a voice more befitting a Texan oil baron than a Chinese corporate officer, “Easy Hank, no need to make a racket. I was just about to call you!”

Hank gritted his teeth, smiling a shit eating grin as he replied in an annoyed tone, “Well, that’s just great. Because that meant you got my five voicemails, six e-mails, and seven text messages sent regarding some information I just learned the other day about something involving your office.” Hank’s gaze met Jimmy’s with a fiery look, and Jimmy raised an eyebrow.

“Well, damn. Sit down, we can talk about it.” Jimmy then added, his own annoyance coming through as he pulled a chair for Hank, “Although, I have told you before, Hank, y’all are supposed to gimme some warning before you come down here. You interrupted a perfectly productive meeting regarding…” A pause, a stroke of the chin, and then Jimmy said, seemingly wishing to move on, “Well, it ain’t anythin’ important, and I did tell those boys to reschedule.” Sitting down as Hank did so, Jimmy then asked, leaning forward and staring down Hank, “So! What’s goin’ on?”

Hank refused to buckle though, and pulled up his briefcase. Popping it open as he kept his gazed fixed on Jimmy, Hank slapped a large roll of paper on Jimmy’s desk, and rolled it open to reveal a set of blueprints, involving a large structure. Next to it were a series of images and printouts revealing the structure being built.

Hank then declared, sternly, “Your name’s on this. I heard from one of my auditors that your office is building something big on Azura, on Mars. Even had our people subpoena these documents.” Pointing to the signature block and cutting off Jimmy, Hank then continued with a growling, “Not Mars County, the other Mars, the one where the Sunsetters are--and now, the Scythians as well.” Without hesitation, Hank asked Jimmy simply, “Wanna explain to me what this is all about?”

Jimmy glared for a few seconds, and laughed with a smug expression on his face, and slapped his knee as he said, his tone incredulous, “That’s it? You’re upset over a blueprint!?” Pausing and catching his breath, Jimmy then declared, “Whew! Diu, man! I know you fellas are trying to justify why my tax dollars should go to your little socialist witch hunt, but you’ve gotta admit, this is a stretch. I mean, it is a blueprint!”

Hank nodded, expecting resistance. Pulling out a series of memoranda with black highlighter covering certain bits, he continued with a stern, “Well, it’s a blueprint concerning a large building in another country, and one which involves plans that--although heavily redacted--appear to show that you people are contemplating hiding assets with a client that values your services very much.” Hank then continued by saying, “And you know how much we hate it when you fellas try to hide things from us.”

Jimmy shook his head, and said with exasperation, “Lemme see those memos, Hank.” Hank handed Jimmy the memos and read them, shrugging, “Oh! I know what this is about.” Putting the memos down, Jimmy wiped his brow and sighed, muttering “I’m gonna talk to legal about this. Anyway….”

Looking at Hank, Jimmy then said, his expression earnest now, “Hank, I’ll clarify that shit for you. You recall how my people had a Regional Sales Branch set up in the Radiant’s capital of New Hong Kong? It was a mighty big facility and it had a lot of people coordinating sales and customer stuff. It was all well and good.” Leaning forward, Jimmy then continued, “Of course, as you know, they had that Golden Flower business recently--they call it Karax, but whatever--and that resulted in the destruction of the capital and then some. Now, I feel for all those poor people who’re dead. But from our POV, it was a financial disaster. We had a lot of assets, manpower, and inventory in the area, and we had to write all that shit off as a loss.”

Hank nodded, adding as his tone softened with understanding, “I recall yes, that the Dornalian Embassy in the area was also destroyed in the blast. Makes sense that you’d be suffering too.” Hank then changed his tone back to an aggressive one, and said simply, “So then, I take it that this building is meant to replace the old Regional Sales Branch?”

“Yes sir, it is.” Jimmy said that with a grin. “And let me tell you something, Hank. This facility is going to be larger, and more productive than ever before.”

Hank nodded, intrigued. Jimmy seemed willing to talk and to try and explain things, and the more info Hank could get the better. Especially the really juicy stuff. Of course, Hank knew that Jimmy would be somewhat cagey. After all, Jimmy and Hank knew very well that the phrase “anything you say will be used against you” wasn’t a joke or one of those things recited just because it was there.

“I’m listening.”

Jimmy continued by going, “Look. Those assets discussed in those memos you’re looking at? They’re legit. Hell, you go line by line, it all matches the various parts of the company budget. Construction, salary, so on and so forth. Hell, lemme get you some printouts, so you can follow the money. One sec.”

Jimmy pushed a button on a phone on his desk, and said, “Lei Fang? It’s Jimmy. Can you get a printout of all expenses and costs for the Azura project? I need everything. Workman’s comp, money paid to local contractors, shipping, etc. You name it, I need it, so I can give Mr. Dockery here some peace of mind. Put it on paper, bind it, and in a box.”

Hanging up, Jimmy then nodded as Lei Fang the secretary walked in, holding a pair of boxes with two bound reports. Hank accepted the reports with a simple “Thank you,” and a strain and a grunt as he took the documents from Lei Fang. Putting down the box, Hank then said, “Technology’s that good, huh?”

“Indeed it is. You take those reports, and follow the money. You’ll find everything is as ordered.” Pausing, Jimmy then said, “And as for those boys and girls being moved to the region? All them tanks, planes, whatever? Well, hell, someone’s gotta replace the staffers that got burnt by atomic fire, and we’ve got contracts to fulfill.” With a wink and a nod, Jimmy added, “Besides, we don’t fulfill the agreements, we’re gonna have problems and the last thing we need is more problems. So if anything, we’re staying within the bounds of the law, and we ain’t playing any shell games with you.”

Hank nodded, and said, “Well, you’ll forgive me if we have to evaluate that statement ourselves,” with a sly grin. “My mother didn’t raise any fools, you know that. I mean, you’ve got some persons of importance moving to Azura, you’ve got inventory going there….someone in my position’s going to want to make sure all of that’s got a reason beyond ‘I don’t wanna disclose this to the authorities so I’ll hide it.’ You understand?” Pausing, Hank then said, “I mean, you guys should know that by now.”

Jimmy put on a smug expression, going, “Of course, Hank. I mean, Subcommittee’s got people sniffing around all of our shit. Williams and the Ellian Operations, civilian sales, so on. You can’t scare me with what I already know.”

“Well, then I’ll just have to scare you with what you don’t know, Jimmy, buddy old pal.” Hank laughed, unfazed by Jimmy’s bravado. “But anyway.”

“But anyway, yeah.” Jimmy then added, “Well, if you wanna try and stop us from keeping in touch with one of our clients, go for it. You’re just not gonna find anything there that’s gonna be worth haulin’ me and mine in front of Senator Armstrong and his inquisitors.” Leaning back, Jimmy then smugly declared, “You can try, though.”

“Well, Jimmy, I just call them as I see them, and when I see shit that I need to investigate, I investigate it. So there.” Hank then nodded, looking at his watch, and declaring, “Anyway, thanks for entertaining me, and now I have to take my leave. Lunch calls, I gotta meet with my people.”

“Lunch, you say?” Jimmy said with a raised eyebrow, and a tone of curiosity and supportiveness. “Y’all ever try Quanjude? The Peking Duck place? I’m more used to Cantonese cuisine, but lemme tell you, them boys know how to roast a fine Peking Duck. Hell, I just took the wife and myself there last night. They treat you right down there.”

“I’ll give it a try. I’m not much of a duck guy, myself.” Hank said that, as he picked up his stuff and put it back into the briefcase. “But hey, you know me. I may as well verify that it’s good. You know?”

“Oh, I do, I do.”

With that, Hank left the room.
"New Dornalia, a living example of anomalous civilizations."-- Phoenix Conclave
"Your nation has always been ridiculous. But it's endearing."--Skaugra
"It's a magical place where chinese cowboys ply the star lanes to extract vast wealth from trade, where NORINCO isn't just an arms company, but an evil bond villain type conglomerate that hides in other nations. Where the apocalypse happened, and everyone went "huh, that's neat" and then got back to having catgirls and starships."-- Olimpiada
"...why am I space China, and I don't have actual magic animals, and you're space USA, and you do? This seems like a mistake." --Roania, during a discussion on wildlife.

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Auman
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Founded: Antiquity
Father Knows Best State

Postby Auman » Tue Nov 20, 2018 3:58 pm

The lighting in the Strategic Command Center was grim. Pitch black aside from one harsh light that illuminated every crag and cranny of the stern military men that sat in a semi-circle before them. The Overlord was there, he looked distracted and somewhat annoyed by their presence. The gentle whir of a drone fluttered in the darkness behind the General Staff of the Aumanii Armed Forces.

A hoverboard salesman and part time inventor from Lake Patricia gulped heavily before introducing himself and his colleagues. Yevgenii Lyboc, the legendary hero of the Fleet, wizened and ancient, sat in a slump, his stoney gaze fixed on them.

"My name is Jamoth Radovich, here to my left is Manly Powers, who is a bit of a big deal with the youth... And to my right is Gemima Peters, sales representative of AeroForces Hoverboards Incorporated. We are here today to pitch a concept that's so revolutionary, it will change the way war is fought in the galaxy forever."

He heard a pencil snap. A man, a General from the looks of him, with a thick black beard and a smoothly shaved head, sneered at him, discarding the broken pencil onto the desk in a huff.

Jamoth cleared his throat.

"Okay, well... It's stupid. Really stupid..." Jamoth began. Manly was fidgeting, his eyes were darting back and forth from Jamoth to Gemima and then back towards the General Staff. They could feel a movement brewing against them, as if old man Lyboc was about to get out of his wheelchair and throw them from the top of Zhamssassar Fortress himself.

"So stupid," Gemima said sly as a cat, "that it just might work. My company manufactures and sells hoverboards to kids and adults all over the galaxy. It is the most successful brand in the market. It's successful because it's cheap to make, sells at a premium and is the finest technology at the price point. You can't beat AeroForces, Overlord. We're, excuse my language, flipping dominant."

The Overlord's brow perked up a bit, he sensed a confidence in her that couldn't be shed off easily. Gemima felt it and continued the pitch. Who else dared use a pun in the presence of the Overlord?

"This board costs us twenty bucks to make. It has a practical cruising speed of a hundred kilometers per hour. It's safe, with intrinsic gravitic retention systems and an adjustable velocity limiter that parents adore. You couldn't fall off of this thing if you tried, even if you were flying down the streets of Los Angeles, N.D. going full tilt. I present to you, gentlemen, the RAD-AF." Gemima picked up a small remote control and hit play. A hologram bloomed up in the middle of the command center and it showed Manly booking it down Sunset boulevard, zipping in and out of traffic, crouching low and pulling his board up vertical with the ground, sliding down the outside walls of a skyscraper. The action was captured from overhead by a hopper, the speedometer was ticking upwards of seventy clicks. Manly came back down level with the pavement, a woman wandered into his path with a baby in her arms and Manly ducked into the sickest kick flip three-sixty any of the men had ever seen... Likely the only one... That took him clear over her head. Mother, baby and Manly were all safe and sound.

"We took the limiters out for this part..." Manly added, his voice was surprisingly soft.

Manly Powers ollied clear of a noise pollution barrier and right into a highway streaming with cars. He reached into a satchel and produced a half-mask, it was an air system, and put it on. A quick flick of the wrists and a pair of mirrored shades were over his eyes.

He stepped on the accelerator.

The speedometer was ticking over, one hundred clicks... He was weaving in between cars... One hundred and fifty kilometers per hour... Two hundred... Three hundred kilometers per hour! The General with the black beard was standing now, he couldn't believe what he was seeing.

A car changed lanes unexpectedly, it looked like Powers was about to biff it, but the unexpected happened. Powers kicked up into an ollie, grabbed the front end of his board and used the momentum to launch himself into the air like the car was a ramp. He was free flying for three hundred meters before he came down and scraped his board down the length of the trailer of a semi-truck.

"Unbelievable!" Crowed the bearded General. Others were standing now, even Lyboc was sitting erect in his wheelchair.

"Yeah, this thing... It's not like the ones you see in the culdesac." Jamoth stepped forward. "This is the real deal."

"We read the papers. We know the army is growing. You need a way to get the guys around and we think this is it. Forty five bucks per unit, full-in manufacturing cost plus profit." Gemima flipped off the demo reel.

Lyboc's smile reached his drooping eyes.

"We will definitely take this into consideration." Uyghur said, with almost a hint of excitement.
Last edited by Auman on Tue Nov 20, 2018 5:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Auman
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Father Knows Best State

Postby Auman » Sat Dec 01, 2018 7:51 pm

December 1, 3169

The Plains of Rheidus were unlike anything else on the world plantation of Oxus. Ruddy, brown and rolling, the hills on the otherwise flat world were the closest thing to mountains around. Still, the farmers found a way to till the fields and make it productive land, despite the "difficulty" compared to elsewhere. Dirt roads, now covered in a layer of snow nearly a meter deep, tracked up and down the lazy slopes, marking off the vast homesteads in rough squares visible from orbit by the colors of the crops in summer. Now, however, it was gripped by a fierce blizzard... Perfect cover for the operation taking place.

A small convoy of light armored gravitic personnel carriers were gliding like sleighs across the white steppe, leaving no trace of their presence aside from the red running lights that flooded the land in the darkness. The mission was classified, shrouded in the utmost secrecy, for the team was riding out to the St. Nikolas facility... Which only a privileged few were allowed to know about.

Saint Nik, you see, was the new home of the central control node responsible for coordinating the functions of the Sphere's entire hyperspace gate network... At least it would be, if the convoy were to have arrived.

"Jammer 2-6, I think I'm seeing things here..." the radio crackled presciently, "Take a gander at your five o'clock high and tell me what you see."

Jammer 2-6, a sergeant by his stripes, flipped down the eye piece of a periscope and gazed through it. Dark and angry, the clouds were steady and snowflakes the size of your fist were light and airy, streaking from the sky like...

"Enemy air?"

"Can't be ours, 2-6, we're not picking up any transponders."

"Well, shut the front door."

"This is Jammer Actual, scatter the formation and prepare for combat. Enemy aircraft detected at five o'clock high!"

The transports spread and scattered, the ramps fell with a thump and drove the dry snow up like a burst of glittering diamonds. The men streamed out and aimed their weapons up towards the sky. The turrets of the carriers turned and climbed and whooshed their fury into the sky. Blossoms of fire and smoke erupted, streaking balls of wreckage dusted the plains.

"Splash three, splash three!" The radios squawked, no one in particular daring to respond as they loaded their multimunition launchers and watched the clouds. A pair of men fed rails of gleaming metal into curious devices they bore upon their shoulders.

"Altus reads... There's at least twenty more, light them up, boys!"

Muzzles flared and flashed with intensity, blue and white and red besides, a violent crack and boom declared the solidarity of the men below and autocannons blurted their obscenities. More explosions far out and into the distance, though the battle was far from over.

"This is Jammer Actual, we can't let them take the Fat Man. I need some charges primed and ready to go on that battlebox immediately!"

Engineers, overdressed men with a satchel of explosives stood up and excused themselves from the line, slipping and sliding in the slippery snow as they fiddled with things in their hands.

A bright beam danced in the snowflakes and then men were cut to pieces. The aircraft approached and their shapes were now apparent to anyone who could see with living eyes. They turned and wheeled and darted, their switchback wings stabbing in the darkness... And one separate from the rest dove down upon the Aumanii soldiers, one bright red light twinkling on its breast. The line was cut apart, not unlike the engineers, may they rest.

Rough hewn orbs departed from the bellies of the aircraft and crashed and rolled into the ground, unraveling as they did into the forms of jungle cats, which loped through the icy plains, firing streams of bullets from chainguns in their tails.

Jammer Actual, a man by the name of Jagen fired his carbine through the head of a beast, though it kept on coming. A high impact round slammed into its ribs and made it stagger and the fusillade that followed blew it apart in a shower of sparks. Jagen cursed, it wasn't supposed to be like this... No one should have known we were coming, not even the Overlord!

They were losing, and badly. The men were willing to fight and die, that they were surely doing... Poorly prepared for an onslaught of this magnitude and surely not expecting, such vitriol and hatred pouring down from their own skies. Jagen clicked his mic and then commanded "Baker 2, turn your railgun on Baker 5 and keep shooting until its over. This is a direct order!"

Wordlessly, the Baker 2 heeded his words, silently the turret turned. A roar of thunder furied and Baker 2 was no more, blown to hell and nothing more.

Jagen's men were falling, though their guns were bawling. There was nothing more they could do, for help was much to far for calling. He simply flipped the channel, directly to his Overlord.

"I'm sure Altus has already told you what's going on, but I needed to tell you myself before the end. Saint Nikolas has been compromised and I'm in no position to destroy it. The enemy will have it soon... And I'll take the honorable way out. Let it be known," Jagen slapped a fresh magazine into his carbine and fixed the bayonet, "We died like men."

A voice came through the other end, crackling and hollow as if they were talking through soup tins connected by a string...

"Noted."

Jagen turned the dial back to the company datanet, patting his bodyguard on the shoulder as he fumbled with a charging handle, "Anyone left alive, fix bayonets, we're going in!"
Last edited by Auman on Sat Dec 01, 2018 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Auman
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Father Knows Best State

Postby Auman » Sun Dec 02, 2018 9:00 pm

December 2, 3169

"Captain Jagen's company was riding through an area that didn't have any air defense coverage. These gaps in the network are common enough, but it was hoped the weather would have disrupted any detection. All in all, the mission was very routine. We have carried them out successfully over a dozen times in the last century, always mixing up the routes. On this occasion, we had three dummy convoys in addition to this one moving on alternate ingress paths simultaneously... " General Lang was detailing what went wrong, he had been at it for an hour and there was no stone left unturned. He was joined in this briefing by his colleagues in the SATMA states via holocall... A risky move, laying out the vulnerability of the Aumanii state like this, but it was imperative that they retrieve the Fat Man, and fast.

"With everything that we know, with all the safeguards in place, I hate to admit it... But these raiders must have had inside help."

Parakeneth Gelb, a Tezekian with Strategic Intelligence, seemed distracted. He was flipping through the images of the attacking aircraft. Something had caught his eye, but he was running through all the options first.

"I've never seen planes like these before." Mused Colonel Paul Malloy, an Alexzonyan in a gleaming white uniform and meticulously sculpted salt and pepper hair. "They look old... Like a dinosaur taking flight." He continued.

"They don't match anything in our databases." Intoned the Phoenixi in a smooth and soulful voice.

Something clicked in Parakeneth's mind, "I know what these are!" He squawked, making Ken Ferguson, the Dornalian ERIS man jump. "Yes, yes... These are... Uh..." he was furiously scrolling through files, "Accipiter Mk. IV interceptors. Very old aircraft from Havensky on Earth. Very curious."

The others consulted their computational devices, bringing up data blocks swiped over from the Tezekian. There it was, plain as day, perfect matches to the profiles sent over by Altus before they cored him with a laser beam.

"Christ alive, these jets are over two hundred years old..." Muttered Ken.

Lang was scowling at the readout, "Old, yes, but they stand the test of time. The ones used over Oxus were very clearly modified, but even the mark ones were as good as anything we have today, outside of gravitics. What is your take on this, Gelb?"

Parakeneth's bright yellow feathers ruffled uncomfortably. He tapped at his desk, the rapping inaudible to the others over the holocall, and he sighed.

"We have been tracking a group of pirates in the colonies. They were targeting our outposts while we were still, as you humans say, 'licking our wounds' after the massacre. Human opportunists. Call it a hunch, General Lang, but I think I understand what happened here. The mystery is... How did they get these fighters into Oxus's atmosphere and out again without being detected? These decrepit flying machines that have no way of operating in outerspace? Of course there was someone on the inside directing them, telling them when and where and what to strike. This is a problem for you to solve... But I believe the actual physical details of the assault are really quite simple. Are you aware of the Lyboc maneuver?"

Lang nodded, "Yes, I am. I've trained on it myself."

"Indeed, you have, like any good Aumanii soldier, you have learned the ins and outs of this offensive schema." Gelb paused to take a drink of water.

"Let's pretend one of us hasn't been spying on their allies for a second. What is the Lyboc maneuver?" Paul chortled.

"It's classified." Said Lang.

Parakeneth clucked, "The basics of it are this: The Aumanii, with their Fat Man and their gravitic impellers, can jump a starship clear into a planetary atmosphere and deploy into combat. Paratroopers, heavy armor, direct gunnery from the starship... Fighter craft."

Lang groaned audibly.

"It's very fucking clear that this was an inside job, then." Ken shook his head.

The Phoenixi smiled, not particularly characteristically, and said, simply, "Indeed, it is. But what is the significance of this Fat Man? What makes it such an inviting target."

"The Fat Man is a software upgrade for the SANTA system in the Saint Nikolas facility. So data intensive that it's more practical to transport physically and update the systems with a direct connection. Remote download is possible, but more vulnerable to interception and corruption by foreign powers. The software updates are absolutely critical if our hyperspace gate network is to remain functional. As the days go on, service will degrade." Lang's words were clipped, guarded.

"Service?" Lieter Verohauven, a Peninsularian, chirped.

"Unless we can get that control node, and it's software, back under our control... The Aumanii hyperspace system is going to degrade steadily until it completely collapses and becomes unusable. It would be a cascading effect that would see the computer systems corrupted, confused and deranged. If we can't replace the node at Saint Nikolas before..." Lang checked his watch, "December 24th, the entire gate network will collapse and require complete physical replacement, top to bottom."

"Then we better pull off a miracle." Said Ken Ferguson, his hologram was leaning in on his elbows, "Or else all the little Aumanii boys and girls won't be getting Christmas this year."

"Yeah, about that... The SANTA system? Christmas eve deadline? The 'Saint Nikolas' facility?" Malloy was looking a little incredulous, "Doesn't this sound a little contrived?"

General Lang slammed his palm down, "Enough!"

"Right, sometimes I forget where we are. Carry on." Malloy straightened out his white tunic.

"Anyway..." Parakeneth continued, "We were suffering attacks just like these for several months until they just stopped. Suddenly. We assumed the pirates either retired or were shot down by the Tannelornians, but this event here? This is too much like them to be a coincidence. I'll have my office send over every detail we have on them."

"And then we'll show the galaxy why you don't screw with SATMA." Ken said, sliding on a pair of mirrored aviators.

"That, we most definitely will." Said Parakeneth, his beak set in grim determination.
Last edited by Auman on Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Auman » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:27 am

December 3, 3169

His eyes fluttered open, a thick crust had sealed them shut, he was seeing the dim lights of the cockpit flicker on in a haze. Muscles from his scalp to his toes twitched and throbbed, electrical pulses awakening them. He checked his time piece, they were sedated for three days... And fast approaching Volcanus, a scorched planet nearest the sun in the Ur'Lahn system. Fighter pilots on patrol in the frontier, they were responsible for keeping the peace in parts of the galaxy that, so they said, didn't deserve the presence of a "real" warship. The AuSC Margaritifer, the original Large Marge space craft carrier, was real to him, his wingman and every man and woman that served aboard her. There would come a day when they proved their worth to the Fleet.

"Rise and shine, Turtledove Flight. It's time to get to work." The voice came through with more static than usual. Sure, they were flying close to the sun, but electromagnetics shouldn't disrupt their hermetic comms. The system must have been out of alignment, Captain Randalls thought with idle curiosity while he went through his checks.

"Copy that, Marge, we're up and at 'em." Lieutenant Nills, Randall's wingman, responded.

"We have news for you, Turtledoves. The sensor boys have been picking up something in orbit of Volcanus, probably just the usual debris, but it's pretty dense. We want you to get eyes on and yell at us when you have something."

"Copy, copy." Yawned Nills.

Volcanus was known for its accumulated dust ring. When the data finally streamed in over the net, Turtledove flight could see what Marge was talking about. Comparing it to past flybys, where the ring was fairly light, there were two new and very dense contacts in orbit.

"You thinking Volcanus picked up some asteroids, Marge?" Randalls' voice was thick and gummy, tasting vaguely of an ashtray.

"Be prepared for anything. We have a squadron en route just in case."

Just in case they're starships.

No, that hint wasn't lost on them.

"Hard copy on that, Marge." Nills' voice was more urgent this time around. Randalls scooched up in his grav couch and slid his hands into the command sticks of his fighter, a Dash Six multirole spacecraft, lean and gravitic. The craft was meant to fly anywhere the fleet needed it and kill anything that wanted killing. A fine craft, but old and showing it.

A few hours went by in radio silence. Randalls and Nills spent their time reading and rechecking data on the Volcanus planetary system. Turtledove squadron was still a day out from Great White, the primary colony world... Which put them another three days away from Volcanus.

Here's to hoping it's a gravel cloud...

Randalls check over his payload. Six anti-ship and twelve anti-spacecraft missiles... A full can of countermeasures... And a laser.

His calves tensed and released vigorously, the Dash Six was fighting off muscle atrophy again by pumping low voltage into his soft tissues.

"You catch that, Turtledove Lead?" Nills broke radio silence. Randalls pored over the screens. "Yeah, I have... Those 'asteroids' are shooting at us. Follow my movement."

The fighters side slipped, only a few hundred meters... Just enough to get out of the path of the incoming fire. There was still a possibility that it was some sort of natural phenomenon.

"More incoming, it's pouring on thick!" His blood was up, but Nills was still in control.

The maneuvers were unpredictable, moving in relative directions at random. Randalls picked out the point defense guns and scraped his laser in zig zagging patterns. It took more than a second for them to find their mark, but it didn't take long to get the shooting to stop. Once the point defense fire died down, Turtledove flight pushed hard in a direct linear path towards the enemy. Uncertainty was a constant companion here in space, but principles remained the same everywhere in the universe. Speed is life. Aggression is the key to victory. These hostiles might have another trick up their sleeve, but they weren't about to meet it timidly.

"Turtledoves, Marge Actual wants you to withdraw and regroup with the squadron."

"Can't do that, Marge. We are committed to the attack. I am reading one Palfrey class escort carrier and a liberty ship. We've got pirates here. We are going to try and knock out their blink engine before they can escape." Randalls was distracted, he was looking at it through his scope now, still small but expanding rapidly. The trigger clicked with each squeeze of the finger, there was a delayed reaction and a sudden shower of sparks as slag was peeled away from the pirate carrier's hull by the laser. This was finesse work, but he had done it a few times before. The Palfrey, an obsolete Aumanii model that proliferated to corsairs and raiders during the civil war, was built tough, she was rugged, but you could knock them out easily enough if you were patient.

"Splash one dart!" Nills whooped, he just shot down an anti-spacecraft missile launched by the liberty ship, a few clicks of the trigger and the launcher was gone. Next move for the enemy was to launch fighters... But as the seconds dragged on to minutes, nothing happened. Infrared showed them powering down, aside from a bright blob of white in the ventral compartment of the Palfrey. Randalls brushed it off, probably just potables. Pirates often modified their ships for endurance.

"Hostile vessel, keep your systems just the way they are... And if you do anything out of the ordinary, we will fill you with holes." Randalls flipped the safety back onto his laser, no sense in wasting the energy if they were going to comply.

"Understood." Came a voice over the radio. The accent was stilted and exotic, reminding Randalls of Noldorin.

"We're coming along side." Large Marge's flight officer clicked the mic to acknowledge. "Be my guest." That voice came over again.

In time, they closed the distance. Randalls and Nills could see the Palfrey and the liberty ship with the naked eye now. The carrier was brutish, a black block of carbon fiber with a powerful fusion torch on the tail end.

"Steer clear of those thrusters, Turtledoves." Marge reminded them.

"Yes mother." Nills joked.

The liberty ship was twisting on its axis, puffs of white blowing from exhaust nozzles on its flanks. The transport was very long, well over a kilometer, but most of that was a skeletal umbilical girder that separated the drive systems from the crew and cargo spaces at the nose. It wouldn't take much to pull her apart.

"Unidentifed transport, realign yourself with the Palfrey immediately. Any further movement will be taken as hostile action." Nills put on a good tough guy act.

"Eat shit, Solarian scum!"

Poor choice of words.

"Whoa, hey, there's infantry out on the hull!"

An alarm in Randalls time piece ticked over. It was midnight.
Last edited by Auman on Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Auman » Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:12 pm

December 4, 3169

Small arms fire pattered on the hull of Randalls Dash Six, the damage was superficial but distracting. Each strike caused a collision alarm to chirp in his ear. Nills was bucking around in his craft, wheeling and dealing out bolts from his laser, but it was useless. Their fighters weren't outfitted for this kind of work and if they took their time to line up their shots correctly, a high pitched whine would rock their cockpits, they had shoulder launched weapons aimed at them now.

"If we could stop long enough to find that launcher, our lives would get way easier, Cap." Nills cracked over the net. Randalls couldn't help but agree, but the infantry's EVA suits were blending in with the hull of that Palfrey below them.

"I have an idea, cut your thrust on my mark and turn on them... I might be able to buy some time."

Randalls burned hard and twisted nose over tail, and caught the belly of the Palfrey in his sights.

"Mark!"

Nills came to a dead stop as he cut his grav engines and turned to face the infantry. Randalls' craft was screaming at him to take evasive action, he pulled the trigger instead. A full load of anti-ship missiles streaked into the belly of the pirate carrier and exploded like a handful of popcorn, water spewed out of the hull like an arterial wound and put the ship into motion. The infantry were shaken, some of them lost traction and were kicking helplessly as they floated off into the void.

Nills was hollaring obscenities as he picked off pirates with his laser, the alarms ceased and this whole episode was turning into a Turkey shoot.

"Turtledoves, be advised, we are monitoring a jump drive ignition sequence in that Palfrey, get the hell out of there!"

Randalls and Nills booked it, but there wouldn't be enough time... They were caught inside the jump envelope, along with that liberty ship, which was standing on its main boosters.

"We're not atmosphere rated, God damn it!" Crackled a terrified voice over an open channel.

"You understood that this would take sacrifices."

They were all enveloped in an intense white light. Randalls' helmet blacked out completely and he was blind.

"Collision imminent. Pull up. Pull up."

Gravity settles on Randalls' shoulders. The craft shuddered and rolled. When the tint wore off on his helmet, he could see the liberty ship being ripped to pieces... By atmospheric drag!

"Holy mother of Jesus!" Nills shouted. They pulled up and away. The Palfrey jumped them into the atmosphere of Great White, right in the middle of a snow capped mountain range. They avoided the dagger like peaks, only barely and expected to hear the rending of earth and metal when the Palfrey crashed... But there was nothing. They pulled back into formation and looped around to get their eyes situated on the pirates. Jet fighters zipped up from a mountainous valley followed by whirling ice crystals.

"I have eyes on three bogeys, moving fast!" Said Nills.

"We can't let them get behind us!" Randalls jerked his stick hard to the left and they barreled down on the enemy fighters, but they were moving too fast for him to get a shot off. The enemy were climbing and, now, so were Turtledove flight.

"You thought you had us, eh Aumanii?" That same cold, exotic, voice from before came over the open channel, mocking them.

What was only seconds felt like an eternity as each team tried to get the jump on one another. The Dash Six was good, but these planes they were up against were made for this kind of combat. From what Randalls could see, these were variable configuration fighters... Atmospheric only and meant to kill other planes. The Dash Six may as well have been a brick by comparison. The Turtledoves did have two things going for them though. A full can of countermeasures and an unlimited flight envelope.

They whipped through a plume of smoke that spun like a tornado off the exploding carcass of the liberty ship. "Book it!" Randalls spat as they turned their noses to the sky and cranked the thrust into maximum overdrive. Nose up, they were making best speed for orbit while jinking and dumping chaff.

"We're almost out, just a little more!" Randalls was saying when a laser blasted through his fuselage and sent him tumbling into a flat spin. His plain was screaming all kinds of complaints into his ear, it was panicked... But he was calm and collected, trying to use flight sticks that weren't responding.

"Not such hot shit when the other side can fight back, Martian?"

"Ah, fuck off..." Randalls cursed through clenched teeth. There was no saving it, he had to punch out.

"Captain, I made it out!" That was Nills, "We're coming back for you, just hold on!"

Randall's reached between his knees and yanked the ejection handles up to his chest. The whole cockpit came free and filled with impact foam. He couldn't see or hear anything.
Last edited by Auman on Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Auman » Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:17 pm

December 5, 3169

A cold wind blew down from the mountains and tickled Kris Pahmeyr's neck. He flipped up the collar of his nut brown pea coat and shrugged it up higher to take away some of the bite. He was shuffling uncomfortably on Maribet Oumou's front porch. He knocked sharply and a dull pain creased his knuckles. He could see her approaching through the frosted glass window to the right, when she opened the door her smile beamed brightly. He offered her a bouquet of Orange Rivulets and her eyes lit up.

"Where did you get these?" Maribet asked, genuinely curious. They didn't grow here in Gouge Springs, not this time of year. "I found a meadow on my last patrol, I thought you would like them." Kris said bashfully.

"I love them." Said Maribet, moving aside to let him in. Kris stepped inside the foyer and felt a rush of warm air. It felt like his blood was on the move again. Maribet graciously took his coat. Underneath, Kris was wearing the red serge of the Aumanii Frontier Police... He left it on because he felt dashing in it.

"Please, have a seat, tell me about your day." Maribet was holding the flowers under her nose, enjoying the scent.

"Nothing much to tell, really. Found those flowers, they were so beautiful that I couldn't help but think of you." Kris' eyes twinkled like stars, at least that's what Maribet saw. She paid no mind to the hollow, wind beaten cheeks or the Dungeness of his eyes. Kris walked stiffly to the couch and they sat down together, enjoying each other's company in a brief moment of silence.

"How was your day, my love?" Asked Kris.

Maribet sighed, "Difficult. I was making so much progress with the children, but the illness has taken a lot out of them."

"It's been hard on everyone."

The small town of Salinas had been suffering. The Red Death had swept through recently, most of the workers had fallen Ill or died. It was threatening to wipe their community off of the map. The doctors from the ABCD were working hard to contain it and treat the victims, but it was a poorly understood disease and it was taking time, more than they had.

"Tyne Folatan passed away just last night, it's dreadful." Maribet's eyes spilled over with tears and Kris seized her by the shoulders and pulled her in close.

"She was such a lovely girl." She wept. Kris cupped the back of her head with his delicate hands and kissed her sweetly on the lips. "I'm doing my best to help, my love... But it has been difficult. Most of the water has frozen in streams up north, the tower is drying up." The town has been burning through their water reserves just trying to keep all the sick hydrated, but the Red Death was a thirsty plague.

"These flowers though, they're growing not far from here... And where the Orange Rivulet blooms, there must be water." Kris' voice was hopeful. "Ken is digging a well. It's not much, but there's an aquifer there."

"That's wonderful news!" Maribet's eyes were like saucers.

There was no shortage of water ice on Great White, but there was a shortage of men and machines to move it to the valley.

"We can pipe it in, I think."

"Oh, Kristoff!" Maribet hugged him tightly.

"Oh, Kristoff..." came the tight, sardonic, voice of Nauticus in the constable's ear. Kris scowled and silently cursed his robotic partner for eavesdropping.

"You're right though, Kris. Everything looks good over here on my end. Full ass underground lake, all fresh and potable. If the mayor will lend me some of his guys, we can get a line set up right to the water tower. Shame about the flowers though, they were pretty while it lasted." Nauticus was kilometers away, but it sounded like he was talking right into Kris' ear.

"We did it, we saved the community!" Piped in the cheerful voice of Delilah, Kris' AI assistant from God knows where.

"I think we're going to be alright." Smiled Kris, the joy of Maribet's embrace was loosening every muscle in his body. Lord, he missed this woman.

"Yeah, but in other news, we have four fast moving hoppers on approach. There's no scheduled flights and the Fleet isn't set to resupply us for another four days. So... You better get down to the jail, the both of you." Delilah wasn't prone to interrupt the constable's fraternization sessions with Ms. Oumou unless it was genuinely important, which was never.

"My sweet," Kris pecked her on the forehead with his lips, "I'm afraid I have to head down to the jail, something is happening." The constable did his finest to seem calm, but Maribet could always see through his policeman's facade. "What's wrong?" She asked timidly. "Nothing, nothing at all, just four birds a-calling and nothing more." Kris' laughter bubbled away Maribet's concerns.

He stood, ignoring every want and urge in his body to stay right were he was, retrieved his coat from the rack in the foyer and, with one final and fleeting glance at Ms. Oumou, stepped out into the cold night once more.

Kris cracked his knuckles and set his jaw, stepping back into the role of frontier marshall and strode down the broad main street of the town, making his way past the few healthy folk that were, in spite of it all, shopping for gifts in preparation of the season. He sidestepped a man with a short, puffy, tree on his shoulder.

"Merry Christmas, Kris!" Said the man.

"And a happy new year, Tom!"

Kris stepped into the jail, a short brickhouse with bare wooden floors and stomped the snow and mud from his tall riding boots. Delilah was there, floating in the corner but projecting a hologram of herself behind the reception desk.

"Hello constable!" Greeted a man laying on a cot in the unfinished cell. There were no bars or locks, only a chalk line that the prisoners were asked not to cross, and a thick stain of pooled blood by the door to remind them of the consequences.

"Hello Dan, did the kids stop by today?" Asked Kris, hanging his jacket on a peg by the door. "Yes, they brought me some rice treats. Would you like one?" Dan offered up a basket heaping with rice crispy treats and Kris took one appreciatively. They ate them in amicable silence. It was a simple thing, but they had learned to appreciate them in the frontier. Life here was slow and the crimes here didn't usually involve hurt feelings, so much as they required the payment due. Dan was jailed for stealing rice from the bakery, apparently he had been doing it for quite some time, puffing it with his wife and then reselling it right back to the baker. No one had really been upset by this, but the law was the law and Dan was taking it in good cheer.

Nauticus pushed through the door, his synthetic muscles were constricted by the cold and he looked nearly anorexic, so much so that you could see his metallic ribs through his exomuscular sheath.

"Bad news, boss. I saw those hoppers and they looked like they came straight out of a dimestore adventure novel. Armed to the teeth and looking to pillage." Nauticus grabbed a carbine for himself from the wall and tossed another one to Kris.

"They're landing just behind the saloon. We can catch them with their pants down if we move now." Nauticus propped the door open with his foot and left enough space for Kris to squeak by. The constable grabbed his Stetson from the desk and plopped it on his head.

"Delilah, put in a call to that Fleet carrier and tell them we have a situation here."

"I can help, constable, I know how to shoot."

"Thanks for the offer, Dan, but your wife would kill me for sure if she found out I deputized you. Just round out your sentence in peace, my friend." Kris walked over and gave Dan's shoulder a squeeze.

"Good luck with the pirates."

"Thanks, I need it."

Nauticus and Kris took side alleys to the saloon and split up once they got there. Nauticus disappeared, off to get a good vantage point. Kris primed his carbine and stepped out into the open, but not too far, when the hoppers landed. Four, all told and five men jumped out of each.

"Lou Florente is here with me, he's got his shotgun. I told him to scram, but he won't listen. Whole town is coming out, chief. Someone put a post out on ¥abber." Nauticus sounded relieved, to be honest. The two of them against twenty pirates armed for bear didn't appeal to either of them.

"Halt in the name of the law!" Kris shouted, his voice was even and oozing with authority. The pirates stopped, and their heads swiveled to get a look at him. Then they raised their rifles.

Lou Florente was fast on the trigger and unloaded a tube of buckshot into them before they realized what was happening. A handful of the pirates fell to the ground, writhing, screaming and, some, motionless. They scattered, but one had the presence to take a few shots at Kris, who twisted in behind a few crates in the alley. Nauticus shot a burly guy in a grey, fur lined, parka and spilled his hot brains into the snow. Blood gleamed bright and steamed in the cold night air. Muzzle flashes lit up the darkness and gunshots peppered the quiet night with the staccato intonations of a harpsichord, grim and baroque the battle raged briefly and viciously. A machine gun tore open the flanks of the saloon and Lou's shotgun, now reloaded and back in the fight, bucked and roared, casting huge fireballs from the shattered window two floors up from Kris, who was leaning fractionally out from the crate, holding the barrel of his carbine tight to the lip of it with his thumb, now taking measured shots.

Nearly half the pirates lay dead or dying on the ground. The hoppers took off and tore through the sky, stuttering in fits as they went.

"Drop your weapons and come out with your hands up!" Kris was shouting, he didn't care about impressions now. Adrenaline had him poised to kill.

"The game is up, we have you cornered and there's more of us on the way!" Nauticus' voice came from behind the pirates now, he maneuvered himself during the very brief lull in the shooting. A rifle came clattering to the ground, tossed from behind a pickup truck. Then another... And a machine gun.

Kris stood up and moved cautiously, his gun aimed at the first man to surrender. Ten, all said, with their hands up, aside from two with defiant looks on their faces.

"I said hands up!"

Kris wheeled his carbine on the nearest defiant one, who tore a pistol from concealed holster, a bullet ripped through the pirate's shoulder a split second later... But Kris wasn't fast enough to catch the second one, who fired a full magazine at him in the blink of an eye. The pirates, all of them, pulled handguns from waistbands and underneath their jackets. Kris felt the first bullet fly though his chest, but the others blended together in a deadly numbness. Lou Florente, who was leaning out of the window fell to the ground when one lucky shot clipped his eye out.

Nauticus withdrew, he didn't want to call it running away, but that's exactly what it was... Kris was dead, his vitals flatlining in the corner of Nauticus' optics.
Last edited by Auman on Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Auman » Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:48 am

December 6, 3169

Melissa was wiping tears from her eyes with the back of her hand, her headset dangling by the cord over her shoulder. She hadn't taken a shower since their first contact in orbit of Volcanus, when everything seemed to be going right. Spirits were high then, they were beating the Sphere at their own game... For decades, the Aumanii were raiding worlds all over the Gamma and Delta quadrants, spreading their sickening ideology like wild oats to grow where ever they took root. Martians from the Solarian Reach, the worst kind of imperialists, and they had them by the throat.

Captain Shagari, a very short but well build man from Pantos, was staring through the window, watching the landscape crawl by while their ship limped to Gouge Valley, which he could make out in the distance by the smoke rising from chimneys and a curious looking bonfire at the edge of town. He was stoic and presented the outward appearance of a man in control of his faculties, but truth be told... He was hit as hard by this as the rest of his crew, if not harder. The buck stopped with him. It was his choice to send his men into combat on the hull of the Star Chaser, it was his command that sent them all spilling into Great White's atmosphere. The captain of that liberty ship, the History of Violence, his screams haunted him. His sleeping was erratic and never good. He had the same dream every time he closed his eyes. Five golden rings falling to the tarmac, their clattering was the whispered voices of the men and women he had failed.

His eyes closed briefly.

The rings fell and scattered.

"You're going to burn in hell for this, Shagari!"

His eyes shot open.

You understood that sacrifices had to be made.

Daniela Treboski was sticking her dagger into the arm of her chair. She was the squadron leader and her team suffered too, but where she differed from everyone else aboard the Star Chaser was that she was a diehard. A true believer in the mission. She was pleased with the progress they had made. Treboski was thinking of the big picture, they just had to keep the Fat Man out of the hands of those Solarian bastards and they win, simple as that. These foreign interlopers and their fucking gates. She twisted her face in disgust, memories flooding back to her in nauseous waves. Deceptive bastards, those Aumanii and their promises of peace through prosperity. Aurelia had been peaceful before they came, the Free Republic was strong... And after, when the shooting stopped, it felt like living in the skeletal ribs of a leviathan. The pride she felt in her country, in her Lance General, was robbed from her and replaced with consumerism and soulless degeneracy.

"Captain," said Melissa, sniffling through her tears, "We're taking up station over the settlement."

Shagari snapped out of his malaise, "Excellent work, everyone. We are almost finished here." The captain turned to face the bridge crew, all in varying states of distress.

"Captain Shagari," Daniela didn't even bother to stand up when addressing her superior, "why haven't we destroyed the Fat Man?"

Shagari turned his wary eyes upon Treboski and took a sharp breath through his nose, "Our navigational systems were destroyed. The device will assist us in FTL targeting and guidance, we need it to return to the rendezvous... Afterward, who knows what Father will want to do with it? Regardless, it is not our place to question our orders."

"Ours is not to reason why. Ours is but to do and die." Treboski sounded seditious.

"Yes, commander. That is exactly it."

Treboski snorted derisively.

"We have a mission. One that is good and righteous. To overturn the tyranny of the Sphere and drive it out of the North. We are the sons and daughters of the north, Daniela... And our Father has a plan. Have a little faith." Shagari was pointing at Daniela now, he didn't realize when he did that. He found it shameful, a momentary lapse of discipline.

"Heironymous isn't my father, Shagari. My dad died in Borealis. That's why I'm here. Revenge, plain and simple."

"My parents were killed too." Said Melissa, "They were shot down by the Aumanii in Sekora Sector. They were only trying to put food on the table for us kids and those monsters murdered them. We're all here to make them pay for what they've done to the North, don't pretend like you're the only one here with something to fight for. The captain lost his wife. Pollux's kids were burned to death in Port Valentine... Everybody has lost someone!"

Treboski's face softened. Even if Pollux was a Southron, she made a point. It didn't matter where they were, the Aumanii only ever caused pain... They were a galactic menace.

Melissa was a good person, Shagari figured she was the best of them. Far too innocent to be serving with them, but she kept them grounded in reality and reminded, Shagari at least, that they didn't fight for hatred or even vengeance... But for the love of those they lost.
Last edited by Auman on Thu Dec 06, 2018 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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