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Per Audacia Ad Astra (Closed, Nation Maintenance)

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]
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Per Audacia Ad Astra (Closed, Nation Maintenance)

Postby Alexzonya » Sun Aug 01, 2021 12:48 am

"... [T]his is the kind of thing where there's very large consequences from seemingly small actions. I don't think they're ready." - Doctor Tithral, Nimatojin Scientist

Arkasia had never been ready. Not when they had been thrust into a humiliating defeat in the First Contact War with the United Trinity, and not when the Arkasian military evicted the alien occupiers from Old Meridian. Not when Alicante had nearly wiped them off of the face of the galaxy, not when the Barlat-Laptev War had nearly become a War in Heaven. Not when Operation Full Circle evicted them again from Earth, and not when their Home Universe had collapsed around them, leaving them as a diaspora of Arkships sailing to so many new homes.

Nor when they had arrived in NS-1 and settled the Arkasian Verge were they ready, left with the improvised technological base of their harried precursors and a half-documented set of slapdash instruction manuals calibrated to another universe. And not during the century in which they struggled to rebuild all that they had lost, blending into the background of minor polities in their new homes so well it would be a hundred and ten years before anyone took notice of them.

After the Battle of Elysium Freehold, when they broke the back of piracy in the Verge and the surrounding sectors, they thought they were ready, but they weren’t. They hadn’t been ready when the Aumanii sent their patrols into Arkasian space, rattling sabers and threatening to bring war upon the Arkasians if their demands for freedom of navigation weren’t met. They hadn’t been ready when the Phoenix Domain made first contact, though they accepted the gifts of technology without asking the costs; if they had learned anything in their existence, it was that they needed to adapt or die, and the costs of adaptation could be counted more easily than the corpses they would otherwise become when they were finally overcome. Perhaps then they should have been ready.

But they weren’t, when the Welded invaded and embarrassed their Northeast Gamma League at Naomi. They weren’t, when the Nyteborne struck in an insane war of genocide and retribution from a clear void, forcing the Arkasians into an unwanted war on yet another front, to save not only themselves but so many innocents caught in the melee. When those threats had dissipated and Arkasia was at the height of her power in her new home, feeling secure at last, they still weren’t ready when the Static struck, sending the Arkasians reeling, and pushing their Crusade of Light all the way back to their home bases in Northeast Gamma.

Arkasia has never been ready… but we're still here and still striving, Per Audacia Ad Astra: By Audacity to the Stars. We've made it this far, and we’re not going to stop now.

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Postby Alexzonya » Wed Aug 04, 2021 3:27 pm

“It's only too many troops if you can't pay them.”
- Maxim 54, from The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries

On the ARS Achelois, Captain Natalee Bailess reviews her new command, doing her best to keep herself from pursing her lips too much as the engineering team walks her through the status of the ship. The only capital ship left in BetaCOM, the Achelois was an old Athena-class Light Battleship, one of the early production models and older than Bailess herself. While still ‘modern’ in the loose sense of the word, the battleship prior to its previous set of malfunctions was showing her age, and a series of repairs by the local Phoenixi dockyards, while restoring her to serviceability, did little to improve her obsolete armor scheme, aging expert systems, and limited close-in defenses. Still, the Achelois was more than three times the mass of the next-largest ship in BetaCOM and would be the heaviest hitter in the tiny eight-ship flotilla. The issue, of course, had been that the bulk of her crew had been requisitioned and taken back to Arkasia with the rest of BetaCOM; crewing the battleship properly would have required decrewing most of her other vessels. Or so conventional wisdom believed.

When Bailess had returned from the shipshow in the Thalduhm Empire, she found a new directive awaiting her. The ‘Thanatos Protocol’. Developed by a couple of flag officers deployed with the Martian Forum relief forces, it was a series of methodologies for systematically reducing the contemporary crew sizes of Arkasian ships. Where the Achelois had originally required a complement of 676 personnel, the Thanatos Protocol suggested that they needed only 41 sapient crewmembers… and just about 340 drones, fabrication templates for which were attached to the document. For her part… Bailess wasn’t convinced the document was right. 6% of sapient crew relative to the original plus 50% of original crew in drones yielded 87% combat efficiency, which in simulations was the ideal point between unnecessary losses from low efficiency and crew count reductions. In practice, she suspected this slightly overcrewed capital ships and undercrewed frigates and corvettes.

Of course, she wasn’t the first to find the issue with the baseline document; the attached supplemental documents noted that “While the general principles of the Protocol attached are endorsed, analysis suggests that this equation is most accurate with regard to destroyer and cruiser sized combatants; capital combatants may require fewer crew than the Protocol indicates, while frigates may require more. Additional supplemental documents with more precise figures are forthcoming.” Whatever ‘forthcoming’ meant. She’d just have to give it her best guess.

That was the first part. The second supplement was what had her rubbing her head prior to ordering the Achelois back into service, with a skeleton crew of 45 sapients plus as many drones as they could produce on the local fabs of the Arkasian ships in-system. In addition to spreading out crew, the local commands were directed to acquire new hulls for these crews using ‘any means practical and reasonable, without use of force’. For her, this was reasonably straightforward; she had already contacted the Phoenixi authorities about transferring fabrication capacity currently being used for the Sector Control Ship ARS Alliance to a number of smaller hulls to refit BetaCOM’s force for action. She just had to figure out what she wanted produced, and fast.
Last edited by Alexzonya on Wed Aug 04, 2021 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Alexzonya » Wed Sep 08, 2021 9:56 am

“The pen is mightiest when it writes orders for more swords.”
- Maxim 58, from The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries

The Fleet expansion was ready. The schedule was set, the ships selected: 4 classes of ships had been the final selections to comprise the entire so-called “Emergency Generation” of Starfleet vessels. Production slots had been lined up in Sunset, Macisikan, the Phoenix Domain, Hypatia, the Eridani Imperium, among a half-dozen other of the GRA’s new allies; contracts to produce warships, munitions, and even drone crewmen for the Arkasian Starfleet to fight the Static menace, paid for by the largesse of His Serene Majesty of the UIK.

Well, mostly largesse. In fact, the Arkasians had given the Macisikani a chit of sorts. Eventually, a problem of some import would arise that the UIK found too bothersome to resolve; this chit would make such a Macisikani problem an Arkasian problem instead. Otherwise terrifying in its open-endedness, such an offer spoke to a kind of respect that the larger power had for the Arkasians; namely, that the Macisikani would ever trust the Arkasians to actually solve anything of import.

For his part, President Bailess was in no small part uncomfortable with the arrangement; such an open-ended deal gave the Macisikani enormous influence in Arkasia, more than he’d want to give any foreign power. That said… good financing options were few and far between, and as students of recent history they had no intentions of going into debt with the Menelmacari on their own accounts. This chit, at least, Bailess could be sure the nation could repay.

It might not even be in my lifetime, he reminds himself, though somehow that makes him even less easy about the documents he had signed. The Macisikani were immortal; the Arkasians, save for their Phoenixi, ultimately still fated to die eventually. It could be my children’s grandchildren that pay this price. None of this was a sudden realization; Bailess had known before, and in fact had it shouted at him by his Social Affairs Advisor, who had been quite adamant about her position on the matter. But if he wanted his children to live long enough to have grandchildren, such a thing needed to be done.

Even now, with the document signed, the orders would be going to dozens of fabrication sites across the nations of the Martian Forum; new warships for Arkasia, as fast as they could be produced. Meanwhile, at home, the Starfleet was already implementing the Thanatos Protocol, with revisions here and there as formation commanders were inclined. When these new hulls arrived, there would be Arkasians waiting to crew them. Even as the reports from Leos grew ever-grimmer, light had begun to bleed over the horizon. When the Static moved on to Arkasia, the GRA and their allies would be ready for them.

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From the Archives: Arkasian Military Songs

Postby Alexzonya » Mon Sep 27, 2021 1:06 pm

O’er the Hills and Far Away (Modern Arkasian Version)

The President bids us to come
To march in time to beating drums
For righteous cause we go today
O’er the hills and far away

[Chorus]:
O’er the hills and through the stars
To Anchorpoint, Huerdae, and Mars
The nation calls and we obey
O’er the hills and far away

When duty calls me I must go
To go and face another foe
But part of me will always stay
O’er the hills and far away

[Chorus]

Through smoke and fire and shot and shell
And to the very depths of hell
We will fight and we will stay
O'er the hills and far away

[Chorus]

If we should fall and rise no more
As many comrades have before
Then call the flutes and drums to play
O’er the hills and far away

[Chorus]

Then fall in folks behind the drum
With courage blazing like the sun
Among the stars to come what may
O’er the hills and far away

[Chorus x2]



Anchorpoint, Kisia, and Pen'sular/Peninsular can be interchanged in the chorus, as can Huerdae and Solont, depending on version.
Last edited by Alexzonya on Mon Sep 27, 2021 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Alexzonya » Sun Jan 02, 2022 12:35 am

“Do you have a backup?” means “I can’t fix this.”
- Maxim 41, from The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries

The video link from the battlecruiser Avenging Archon finally comes through, and the Ghalen Admiral takes a sharp breath as they view the scene of devastation before them. A planet, that might have been habitable, from the looks of it… if it wasn’t for the planetwide dust storms obscuring the atmosphere and the massive quantities of debris that floated in the near orbitals. They take a deep breath..

“... What the hell happened to it? Asteroid impact?”

“Yes sare.” The Captain on the other end of the link had been in orbit for nearly 12 hours, and so the initial shock had worn off… as much as seeing a dead planet ever did. “We’ve sent our probes back to gather light from a few years back and sent expeditionary troops down on S&R… and as far as we can tell, it was an industrial accident. Asteroid mining. Some corp tried to send a big asteroid from their nearest belt back to for harvesting. Deceleration failed; they hit the planet dead-on instead.”

“Stars above. What’re the projections on the planet?”

“It’s a write-off. It might redevelop a biosphere, but not in the next ten thousand years. Based on our sensor readings, we’re looking at a few tens of thousands of survivors, and they’re just living off the scraps of what’s left; the lucky and grossly overprepared. Anyone we don’t pull off is going to die in the next decade, and most of them well before that.”

“Understood, Captain. I’ll alert the Engineers that their haulers are needed. We’ll bet on finding 500,000, just to be safe, and they can have a spacious ride back to Jubilee if the initial guesses are right.”

“Yes sare.”

“What else do we know about them?”

“Their planet is Ariestex… just about. It doesn’t translate into Arkasian especially well. We’ve taken to calling the locals the Aris.”

“I have a feeling that’s going to stick, in our language at least. Alright, we’ll have Foreign Affairs send out the usual updates, Conclave and MarFor. Anything else?”

“... Admiral, does this ever get… routine?”

There’s a long silence.

“No, Captain. Some things do, if you’re in the fleet long enough… but never this.”

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Postby Alexzonya » Fri Jan 28, 2022 10:34 pm

"A little trust goes a long way. The less you use, the further you'll go."
- Maxim 30, from The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries


Current Date: 5.16.125


Intelligence Inprocessing

Now, what are you? The Intelligence AI skims the report that drops into their queue, flagged as coming in from the Eridani. If they had eyebrows, they'd have gone straight up. It gets flagged as Priority 2 and sent up the Chain for action.


Senior Review

A Captain, less than a second later, sees a flag emerge on his screen. As an expert on the Hypatian desk, he was already busy, and nothing coming into his queue these days was good. Still, he pales when he sees the flag. Priority 2... He reads it, time seeming to slow down as he feels his system clocks accelerating. An automated response, for many new second-migration cortexes, based on organic adrenaline. He confirms the Priority and sends it up the chain, before stepping away from his desk, with the sudden feeling his job just got a lot more complicated.


The Forum

2 minutes later, Ambassador Bowman's lunch on the O'Neill Islands, Mars, is interrupted by a breakthrough alert from his tablet. Priority 2. Shit. "Excuse me, gentlemen," he says, as he stands. "I need to take this." He steps outside to review.


Zephyr Prime, Alpha Quadrant

Simultaneously, Foreign Affairs Advisor Otani jumps as an alert chimes loudly from her communicator, waking her up. She fumbles for the device, opens it, and starts skimming bleary-eyed. 3 paragraphs in, she sits up and starts again, reading thoroughly.


[REDACTED], Arkasian AMJRI Development Site - Alpha Quadrant

Less than a minute later, Admiral Shaw's discussions with Doctor Herrbrecker on an abstract point regarding quantum-entanglement-base syncing of universe reference frames are interrupted by a breakthrough alert, Priority 2. He stares at the subject line for a moment. "I'm sorry Doctor, this is going to have to wait. Something just came up." The more he reads, the more he feels his anger start to build. Those conniving little...!


Per Article 4.5

There’s a few minutes of lag as a few gears grind in the literally brand-new process, but the Arkasians’ intelligence system finally hands off the information that had just been confirmed as high-priority to the Macisikani Central Intelligence Service; it should have gone to their External Security Service, but the Arkasians could perhaps be forgiven their unfamiliarity with the process, considering they had been briefed on it just that morning. Regardless, the Oracle would get it where it needed to go. A duplicative process, given the information had been received minutes ago from the Eridani, but the Arkasians were intent on not making assumptions about who told whom what. The contents of the report would prove their caution to be oddly prescient.
Last edited by Alexzonya on Sat Jan 29, 2022 3:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Alexzonya » Tue Feb 01, 2022 12:27 pm

Image


National Health System Announces Exocortex 2.1 Updates, Revised Development Roadmap
June 04, 125 ASY -- HORIZON CENTER


In a surprise announcement, the National Health System today announced a series of changes to their Exocortex Program that they say are aimed at improving performance and streamlining the migration process. "The Exocortex Program in the GRA has been extremely successful, and we are, as always, grateful to our friends in the Phoenix Domain for their help in implementation. The Exocortex 2.1 program will build on this legacy of success by providing ongoing support and development for the 2nd Migration Exocortex (EX-2) currently in use by many Arkasians as well as jumpstarting new technology development."

The headline provision of the Exocortex 2.1 process has been billed by the NHS as a "patch", which they say is designed to optimize performance of the EX-2 in "a variety of different circumstances." They NHS was insistent that the existing cortexes are safe. "This is not a safety update; this is a performance improvement. While we fully recommend that all Arkasians using the EX-2 cortex update at their earliest convenience, there is no safety concern with leaving the existing firmware in place."

Asked for the specifics of the 2.1 patch, the NHS noted that "much of that information is confidential, for the safety and security of our citizens." However, a source (who asked to remain unnamed for this article) clarified that the primary thrust of the update is to optimize firmware on a per-species and per-user basis. "The exocortex is a great open platform, but because of its flexibility, it can be very generalist." Asked for comment on the quote, the NHS clarified "We think these changes will improve the performance of the system based on the needs of our individual users."

A less trumpeted, but perhaps more significant, update came in the form of the revised development roadmap. While scarce on details, the roadmap indicates plans for significant domestic development atop the EX-2 platform, which originates in the Phoenix Domain. When asked about Phoenixi involvement in ongoing development, a spokesbeing stated "We're always happy to keep our partners fully in the loop about significant research developments. However, in this case, the project is Arkasian-led, and will be supported by a multinational team, not just the Phoenixi."

[Article continues below the ad...]

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The Kinsara Quandary 2: Biosphere Boogaloo

Postby Alexzonya » Wed Feb 02, 2022 2:38 pm

“The Kinsari aren’t happy.” Ambassador Nina Hayes’s holographic image is solid and consistent, avoiding the stereotypical flicker associated with such things. She was transmitting from Unity Station, in orbit over the blue, green, and purple marble below. Until the day prior, she hadn’t realized just how much trouble that marble was in.

“I didn’t think they would be. I thought we had more time too. And no one likes hearing that their homeworld is dying, and that unless two-thirds of them go somewhere else we can’t staunch the bleeding.” Admiral Wel’tham Elsercon was the head of the Arkasian Starfleet’s Engineering and Support Corps. Coordinating logistics operations would be up to her; as such, the issues on Kinsara were firmly in her wheelhouse.

“... please tell me you didn’t say it in that many words.” Hayes looks vaguely horrified.

“I told them the truth,” the Altreshi officer replies, grimly. “We updated our assessments based on new models from the Macisikani. We can’t stabilize Kinsara at 20 billion buns, not without radical interventions. We’ve bought time, but even with their smaller footprint compared to humans, with the damage to the planet from their industrial age… more than 10 billion isn’t sustainable, not above poverty. Which means we need to start moving some. To new colonies, to habs, to somewhere that isn’t the surface of Kinsara.”

“And they asked about radical interventions.” It’s not a question.

“Of course. And I told them the truth. We could try, but we’ve never done it before. Natural biospheres just can’t handle having more than a certain amount of civilization. We could try to bioengineer Kinsara’s ecosystems to support more, but that’s just as likely to cause massive die-offs if we fail. It’s not an answer I wanted to give, Ambassador.”

Hayes was silent for a moment.

“... how’d President Hwakin take it?" Wel'tham finally asks. "I couldn’t get a good read on him.”

“He’s not angry with us. None of them are; they said they know we’re doing our best.” Nina sighs again.

“... somehow that makes it hurt more.”

“Yeah, it does.” The ambassador rubs her forehead. “How are the resettlement plans looking? That’s the next briefing for them, isn’t it?”

“It’s rough, and short. It’s no worse than some of the crash-building programs we did on Jubilee during the Displacement, but it’s not much better either. The problem is they keep having babies, and the government doesn’t think they can put that genie back in the bottle now that it’s out.”

“And the hab option?”

“We can’t make a dent in it that way. Even if we could, we would have had to start a few decades ago.

“... let me make some calls.”
Last edited by Alexzonya on Wed Feb 02, 2022 2:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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The Kinsara Quandary 2: A Matter of Fairness

Postby Alexzonya » Mon Feb 07, 2022 11:21 pm

“There is good news and bad news,” states Secretary Otani, her hologram piped in from Arkasia’s Zephyr Colony. “The good news is, nominally, that the UIK is willing to assist us. The bad news is, I do not believe they should.”

Ambassador Hayes frowns. “What do you mean?”

“I have had my team run the secondary-effect analyses, and, in short, we believe that going forward with the orbitals will destabilize the region.”

Admiral Wel’tham frowns. “You’re certain? Surely just one system…”

“That is the problem, Admiral. It is just one system. There are two dozen habitable worlds in the League that are in as much trouble, or worse. None of them have the population bomb issue facing the Kinsari, but we nonetheless expect that those other impacted nations would be resentful at us using, as it were, all of our ammunition on the problem only in Kinsara. It is already known that they are perceived as a favorite of ours, but this would make that truth significantly more apparent. The League is still consolidating. It is the belief of my analysts, and they have convinced me, that we need to use repeatable interventions that we can replicate in other parts of the League. Otherwise, we risk significantly eroding confidence in our regional leadership and breeding resentment in other parts of the League.”

Wel’tham sighs and gazes off at a wall for a moment. “Fickle little things, aren’t they, the League nations? You’d think they’d be more grateful.”

Hayes shakes her head. “They are, and if we keep treating them well the good relations will stick. But perceptions of unfairness or inequality can poison a well quickly. Advisor Otani is right about this.”

Wel’tham huffs. “I see, well. I’ll start making plans to implement planetary relocation, then,” she grumbles.

“I will tell the Kinsari,” notes Otani. “Ambassador Hayes, please have your office schedule me with President Hwakin tomorrow. I will be there.”

“Of course, Advisor,” the Ambassador agrees. “I’ll make it so.”

“Thank you, Diane. Otani out.” She terminates the transmission.

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A Day in the Life of Li

Postby Alexzonya » Thu Feb 10, 2022 9:53 pm

The alarm chimes softly, and Lianne yawns and mumbles something vaguely to the effect of “Alarm off”. The alarm knows from experience what she was going for, and obligingly allows her to wake up on her own. She grumbles and flops to one side briefly; she had slept on her tail again, and it had gone to sleep again; the kitsune reaches back and fluffs it out with another yawn. She considers going back to sleep, especially with the pitter-patter of rain still impacting on the variglass window, but she had a shift later in the afternoon at the local Spiro’s House of Grub. It wasn’t that she needed the money; just that if she didn’t get out of the apartment in person every so often, she’d go totally bananas. Speaking of bananas…

She wanders out of the bedroom straight into the kitchen, via the living room, and finds one. Or what the Arkasians on Avalon called bananas, anyway; it was a yellow-orange skinned fruit of at least the correct shape for the Solarian fruit, but more than a foot long and weighing more than two pounds. She peels it, and then cuts it up, discarding the seed cluster from the middle before taking some of the oddly firm slices for herself now. She places the rest in the coolerbox for later. “Oh… Arni, are you awake yet?”

“Oh, morning Li!” replies a chipper, melodic voice from the living room. She pokes her head back out as she munches on her ‘banana’ slices. Arni, as he was, floated about a meter above the ground, having foregone his humanoid mobility chassis this morning. A hardline cable ran from the wall to the side of his orb.

“Games?” she asks after a moment, at a gap between the slices.

“Mmhmm! Absolute War: Delta IV just dropped its Hypatian Campaign DLC.”

“Oh Stars.” She munches another slice before elaborating. “That game again. See you in a month, then.”

Arni titters. “Nah, not this time. It’s just one campaign; they buffed the Hypes though, so I want to try them out. Might actually get them some tournament play.”

Li nods; she had no interest in the game herself, preferring something a bit less… violent… but for Arni playing strategy games were his bread-and-butter, when he wasn’t working on writing his own. “You said in the last version everyone was just playing us, right?’

“Yeah, the Arkasian DLC for Delta III totally broke everything. You just had folks playing us, a few folks playing an Eridani force that was a soft counter, and then like… a few guys still playing the old Huerdaen lists from 3’s launch, since those beat the Eridani list really badly… is this too much detail?.”

Lianne giggles. “Only a little. I was gonna head out in a few, maybe wander downtown before my shift. You want me to grab you anything?”

“Nah, I’m good,” he replies.

“Alright, well, have fun!”

Li retreats back to the bedroom with a wave, closing the door with a wave of her hand before striping her pajamas and chasing down today’s clothing. A red tank top… and a black skirt. Classic. She reorganizes things a moment later, to account for the tail; she still hasn't quite gotten used to it, and it only fits above the hem of the skirt rather than below. She belatedly wanders to the bathroom, to deal with the rest of her morning routine. She applies her makeup herself; there were automated systems you could buy and use to do it, but she never liked giving up the counter space… and there was something relaxing to her about dealing with it herself. She strokes out her hair, a deep black color, by hand as well, before spraying it with a treatment to keep it from collecting static and other assorted nonsense. The hairband, though, automatically contracts tightly when she releases it, holding her impromptu messy bun nicely in place.

After she leaves the apartment, on the ground floor of an eight-story construct of glass and very, very convincing faux-brickwork, her primary protection from the rain comes in the shape of… an umbrella. Throughout the years, alternatives had come and gone, from energy fields to drones, but none of them had managed to displace the simplicity and effectiveness of fabric-on-a-stick. Part of why she had moved to Avalon Prime, beyond the hullabaloo about it being the ‘next big thing’ in Arkasian colonies, was that (unlike her home planet of Haven Prime), the neighborhoods and cities that dotted the more modern world were much more compact. She walked along a path made of some matte black material; grippy, but with more bounce than asphalt and (as she had learned in her more mischievous younger years) nearly impossible to break apart with hand tools, listening to the sound of raindrops on her umbrella and watching the world go by, as she made her way to the transit station. Above, the periodic hovercar flew by; Li could have afforded one, if she wanted, but she preferred to save the money and just take the loop when she needed to head to the city. She passes Spiro’s on the way; she spares a wave for her coworker manning the front desk, who was in the process of welcoming a pair of Al’tresh and their child.

Reaching the station, she folds up her umbrella; the moment she does, all of the water sloughs straight off onto the ground. Maybe it wasn’t just fabric on a stick after all. Her tail flicks about behind her, slightly damp from where she had missed covering it with the umbrella on a few occasions, as she glances at the schedule; the next pod would be there in four minutes. She must have just missed the last one; ah well, more time for people watching. Truth be told, there weren’t that many people at the station; the rain seemed to be dissuading some of the usual activity. Or maybe it was the Total War Delta IV launch. Maybe both. She yawns again, and regrets not taking the time to grab a drink before she left; with 3 minutes and 42 seconds left until the pod arrives, she can rectify that. A nearby kiosk labeled “Benton Center’s Best Beverages! by Patrico” had what she was looking for; a slightly viscous, creamy-brown liquid, served warm, with the aftertaste of hazelnuts and chocolate to bolster its credentials alongside its stimulant properties. The process involved a quick swipe of a credit chip near the reader; the actual cost of the “Olympic-Style Coffee” was hardly worth noticing, but money still made the Arkasian economy go ‘round, and so it still had to be passed above, however trivially. By the time she had the biodegradable, yet surprisingly firm, mug in her hand, full of nearly a half-liter of the stuff, the pod was just 34… 33… 32 seconds away from the station. She takes a sip and goes to the boarding area, arriving in the queue just as she sees the pod decelerate into the station, behind the transparent metal. It slides slightly to the right, docks, and depressurizes. On the left-hand side of the pod, people disembark, the two or three getting off. On the right-hand side, Lianne was one of a dozen getting onto the pod, which was the size of a modern-tech airliner, with rounded edges and seating both forward and back, with perhaps 300 people in total. It was mostly empty, with only a small number of seats occupied; intended to keep folks moving even during the heaviest of commuter traffic or during festivals and celebrations (and to keep up with population growth), the hyperloop systems on Avalon Prime were noticeably overbuilt for day-to-day use. As she takes her seat, there’s a gentle chime, and the doors close with the hiss of an air seat. The vehicle pivots back into the loop.

“Please remain seated while the pod is in motion,” states a vaguely feminine, robotic voice. “This is a Yellow Line Pod to Avondale Center. The next stop is Benton Outskirts: North 3. Thank you for riding with us!” The acceleration as the pod surges forward is dampened by the internal gravitics of the pod, but the gentle whine of the magnetics makes it clear that the vehicle is accelerating… and then decelerating into the next station in very short order. “This station is: Benton Outskirts: North 3”...

Li stays on the pod for 6 stops, until the voice announces “This station is: Downtown Benton Center / Crossroads. Connections to the Purple, Green, and Blue line loops are available here.” She disembarks, and on stepping into the downtown station is immediately met by a bustle of activity. Individuals of a dozen species (in varying proportions) criss-cross the platforms, heading for different tubes. Small queues have formed behind “Best Beverages!” kiosks, which are much more numerous at the crossroads. For her part, Li finishes her drink and discards the mug into a nearby recycling container for reprocessing, before heading out of the station.

Downtown Benton Center felt like a proper metropolitan area, even to those from other nations. Towering buildings of silver metal and glass line the edges of walkways, with gaps between for small parks and walking paths. In the distance, vehicle routing has several lanes of hovercars in each direction bypassing the city; the parking structures would be on the periphery of the downtown. People make their way along the walking path, singly or in groups, while others ride bicycles, electric scooters, or various other small vehicles along a separate set of lanes. Shops and kiosks line the lowest floor of the nearby buildings, purveying everything from food to clothing to electronics to those who sought in-person service rather than a delivery drone. Lianne inhales deeply and smiles. The rain had stopped, and the sun was just beginning to come out. It was a beautiful day on Avalon Prime.
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Life, The Universe, and Everything: Part 1

Postby Alexzonya » Tue Feb 15, 2022 12:58 pm

OOC: Thanks to The Eridani Imperium for her assistance in assembling this post and allowing me to 'borrow' her nation's harmonic theory to fill gaps in my own canon. The laws of harmonics as included in this post are her creation and IP.


Her name was Feather. Many people thought it was an unusual name for an AI, but it suited her just fine. A Wiki-25-D model, she was an ex-Starfleet AI who had taken the (equally unusual) step of retiring from service. She had taken a job somewhere her clearances would be of good use, and had ended up working for Dennis High Technology in research and development… for four years, before getting scooped up by Starfleet again, for a new program. A program called the Advanced Materials Joint Research Initiative. It was the shining star of the Ascendant powers of the Milky Way and would be proof-positive that those involved were ready to take ever greater steps forward in knowledge.

Called, was, would be… past tense. AMJRI was dead, murdered by deceit and infighting. And here Feather was, in the harmonics lab of the Arkasian Alpha Site. The Site was still under a stop-work order while they finished sorting out the mess, checking and disarming and, in the end, disposing of the technology in question. This left Feather with a lot of free time. It was a small thing, reading analysis and commentary on the Laws of Harmonics, courtesy of the Eridani. The Arkasians had made use of Harmonic tech for years, as it happened, but it was only with the help of their allies that they had truly begun to break into the fundamental theories of its function:

First Law of Harmonics - Void to Aurbis: naught to pattern.

“Every song has a pattern, even the ethereal music of NIR. This pattern can be replicated, modified or even changed with enough study.” The First Law of Harmonics

Second Law of Harmonics - Aurbis to Aetherius: possibility to maintenance by time.

“When we scale the first unto the spectrum of light and time, which is forever, we find the Great Cycle attested to by our mythology. Every song has a beginning, and an end - only time can tell when they come.” The Second Law of Harmonics

Third Law of Harmonics - Aetherius to Oblivion: creation to destruction.

“Even as NIR creates, it destroys. It destroys all but the material of our souls in endless reprise of its beginning. What was, shall be once again, and will ever be.” The Third Law of Harmonics

Fourth Law of Harmonics - Oblivion to Mundus: debris of all possibility to anchor of all things.

“Anchored on the mortal plane, we hear the music of NIR as a series of notes. Thus, we can define the frequency and wavelength of those notes, and sift through the debris of impossibility and to the foundations of the Arena itself.” The Fourth Law of Harmonics.

Fifth Law of Harmonics - Mundus to Mortal Death: centerpoint to the soon recycled.

“And then we come to mortal death. The material of our souls are split into two parts - the AE and the Animus. The AE is our very identity, while the Animus is divine energy - tonal energy to be exact. This tonal energy is neither created or destroyed - it remains binded to NIR, as per the treaties between the original Spirits.” The Fifth Law of Harmonics

Sixth Law of Harmonics - Mortal Death to Z: antinymic to [untranslatable].

“And even still, there are conduits of tonal energy in the Arena. The most well known of the conduits are the Fragments of the Two-As-One. Using these conduits, one could potentially alter all reality while following the previous five laws - even reaching the infinite apex of Ada-mantia and ascending beyond NIR, thereby solving Arvedui’s Last Paradox.” The Sixth Law of Harmonics

It was a primer, really. The very basic tenets of Harmonics, ones that every Eridani battlemage could recite by heart. But something about them had utterly captured Feather’s attention. She read them, again, and again, splitting up the phrases and clauses and reordering them, putting them together. There was something here, she was sure of it. Something tickling the back of her mind. During the work stop, she had plenty of time to chew it over, shifting and cross-referencing and trying to understand. She just needed to get the pieces to all fall into place…

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Healing

Postby Alexzonya » Tue Feb 15, 2022 3:32 pm

Leos System, Northeast Gamma League
05.19.125 ASY
There was nothing left alive in Leos, save for the crews of the salvage ships and the Arkasian and Leaguer warships that watched vigilantly over the operation. In truth, cleaning up the wreckage that dotted the system had no functional or economic purpose; the Leos Directorate had been broken and utterly destroyed by the Static. For the League, though, there was a purpose nonetheless. The material wounds of the war were beginning to heal, slowly but surely, in Arkasia and elsewhere life still thrived; Leos was an open wound, and the League refused to allow it to fester, as a continued reminder of their failures and their defeat.

And so the salvage ships moved from one hull to the next, grinding the enemy hulls down to their component parts. The coalition hulls were different. Those who fought and died so valiantly were kept intact (such that they were), stripped of sensitive technologies, and floated into permanent orbits above the husk of the primary world. A beautiful, terrible ring system of debris and ships, the markers of the NEGL’s largest graveyard. A League Sailor had named these departed guardians the “Sentinels of Leos”: the name stuck, and plaques bearing the ship’s name, their deeds, and the names of those lost aboard were added to each hull. A small touch, but with every Sentinel added, the wound slowly began to scar over.

On the planet itself… there was nothing left. The atmosphere had been all-but-destroyed, the oxygen burned off in the conflagration the Arkasian nova bomb had made of the atmosphere. Everything, except perhaps extremophiles subsisting near thermal vents in the planet’s oceans, was dead.

A single vessel, the Kinsari Battleship KFS Unity Station, approaches. It deploys a single pod, which launches into the toxic atmosphere below. When it nears the surface, it opens and releases a fine powder; bacteria, and bioengineered fungus. It would take millions of years, at best, for the atmosphere to become habitable again, that way. None in attendance, save perhaps the Arkasians, would be alive to remember it when it finally blooms. Still, they do it, in the hopes that someday, far beyond their time and place, the lost world of Leos would flourish again.
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Postby Alexzonya » Wed Feb 16, 2022 10:55 am

Somewhere in Arkasia...
06.10.125 ASY

“The nature of Arkasian souls? That is certainly a question,” replies Arkay.

The Goddess, such that she was, floats a few inches off the ground, wreathed in light… only the non-hazardous kind. She had gotten quite good at avoiding dumping gamma rays, or anything else that could accidentally kill people, while she was in the Divine Realms pestering the Kadrian divinities. Her attire is, as usual, fanciful; vaguely Greco-Roman in style, though with oranges and reds and yellows, accented by blues and whites. The colors of the stars. She is relatively tall; her personification was just over seven feet. She could have made it taller, of course, but she found any more and she had to start ducking under door frames in some locales.

Three years ago, the Arkasian Guardian Corps had begun investigations into the metaphysical nature of Arkasians, and Arkasia. They were not, like the Huerdaen or Macisikani, tonal stabilizers whose presence passively directed reality to mirror their beliefs of what it ought to be. They were not the Dornalians, guided by an invisible hand born of their collective… Dornieness. Nor were they the Eridani or other nations, where Magic and metaphysics grew up innately. No, the Arkasians had shown no sign of metaphysical potential at all.

No outward sign, anyway. As it turned out, when the Guardians had finally looked, they found that the Arkasians were possessed of latent metaphysical powers; it simply remained at rest, accumulating around the nation without touching it. An unusual situation, and one that (at the time) had been quite frustrating to the beleaguered nation. The investigators asked themselves if this power could be harnessed, and then tried to do so.

Arkay (as she had named herself, with the help of the Kadrian deities) had been the result of that attempt, formed out of a not-insignificant percentage of Arkasia’s latent metaphysical potential. The Guardian Corps hadn’t really meant to create a deity; it was still debated why, exactly, Arkay was the form that energy took. Certainly, any subsequent attempts to harness Arkasia’s Potential would be a bit more... directed.

Not that the Arkasians complained too much. Their new Goddess was, by the accounts of the Kadrians, quite potent, and she had always been friendly. Unfortunately, except what she had learned in the prior 3 years, she was no more knowledgeable about many things than the Arkasians themselves… a baby Goddess, of sorts. She had been away for some time, doing something with a neutron star (the Guardians theorized she was tapping it for power), but on her return she found her creators had unusually direct questions for her.

“Is it a question with an answer?” Guardian-Captain Emory Kendrick does his best to avoid fidgeting. He was one of Arkasia’s foremost 'Arkay Experts', such that there was any such thing. When he wasn’t doing more theoretical research on the nature of Gods and Goddesses and anything Else Similar, he was also one of the designated “Speakers to Arkay”... not that the Arkasians would or could stop Arkay from speaking to whomever she chose.

“Yes, but I do not know it,” replies Arkay, with a slightly apologetic shrug. “I never bothered to check. You never seemed concerned about it before.”

“Oh. Uh, well... the matter finally came up. There is… concern that the exocortexes may be inadvertently damaging the souls of some individuals, especially those with non-Arkasian metaphysics. But there is also concern that we do not, strictly, know that this issue would be limited to non-Arkasians. And there is no way of knowing without knowing what our metaphysical properties actually are.”

Arkay flushes faintly, and fidgets. “Do Arkasians have souls…” She frowns slightly, and then twirls in place. “I suppose I will just have to figure that out,” she states, solemnly. She considers. “If you had your preference, would you rather have souls, or not?”

Emory looks confused. “Does our preference really matter?”

Arkay tilts her head. “Why wouldn’t it?”

“It seems like we should either have souls, or not. Why would our thoughts on the matter change the reality of the situation?”

Arkay smiles. “You confuse metaphysics with the traditional kind. Beliefs, Emory, have an enormous say in metaphysical affairs. Let me try again. Do you, Guardian-Captain, believe that you have a soul?”

“... have to think so,” he admits, after a long moment’s thought. “It seems… unsettling… to me that I wouldn’t.”

“Well then. While I cannot say for sure… yet… I now strongly suspect you do.” She floats a bit further off the ground. “Some nations are metaphysically locked to a course in history. The Dornalians, and the Narrative that guides them down their Path; a Path they cannot change, even if they wish to. The Eridani and their Endeavor are not dissimilar; the Path before them is known. Others are so rigid that they dictate to reality what is so, rather than the other way around. They stubbornly made their own Path, but now they keep to it as rigidly as those whose paths were predetermined.”

Arkay smiles and continues. “But Arkasians… you are the ‘fun ones’. Your previous Path, whatever it was, ended well before you arrived in this Place and this Time. You also have not set another Path for yourselves. This, so far as I can tell, is why your metaphysical power manifests only as Potential, rather than something more tangible…” She pauses. “Do not touch anything while I am gone,” she directs, a cape appearing and wrapping around her. “And I mean it. I will inquire of Magnus and Vanua.”

“I see. Thank you, Arkay.”

Arkay smiles and shrugs. “I am just doing my job. It comes with being a patron Goddess, and such. Farewell for now.” She vanishes in a wreath of fire whose brightness makes Emory turn away his head. When the light fades, there is no sign of the Goddess.
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Postby Alexzonya » Wed Feb 16, 2022 9:05 pm

Zephyr System, Galactic Republic of Arkasia, Alpha Quadrant
06.05.125


“The statement says, in so many words: ‘Mars was a shitstorm, we had no real investment in the place, and it didn’t get us anything we couldn’t get somewhere else, except it was a bigger headache… so we quit’.”

“... allow me to see that, there is no way…” Advisor Otani calls up the statement from the Phoenix Domain on her tablet, and reads it over, looking increasingly dumbfounded as she does. “... it does say that. In the usual diplospeak, but… they realize we can read between the lines, yes?”

“I’m not sure, Advisor.” Ambassador Carlisle Guevera’s steady hologram was projected securely from the Arkasian Embassy on Anchorpoint, the heart of Phoenixi power. “I haven’t been able to get a good read on them at all. Things here are quiet… too quiet…”

“Too quiet? Please clarify.”

“... you’d think, with all the tension, things here would be tense here too, but… it’s almost more a feeling of malaise. It’s like they hit a wall, and have just given up. We expected there to be at least some repercussions for our AMJRI withdrawal, but… last I heard, Ambassador Wolfe in Laconia got the worst of that. All of it, in fact; they didn’t comment on it here. They restated a commitment to our remaining programs… and that was the end of it.” The ambassador looks frustrated, their face smoothing over the concern nicely; Otani, however, could read the subtle hints.

“Was your office able to address any of the other issues of concern?” Otani asks, though she already knows what the answer must be.

“We’ve heard from other embassies that they’re having problems even getting in contact with the government here,” replies Carlisle. “We didn’t want to risk being shut out as well, so we’ve kept to basic requests and tried not to draw too much attention to ourselves.”

Otani sighs. “Diplomatic channels are worthless if we cannot actually use them to address matters of concern. Nonetheless… I will take it to be a ‘message received and understood’, as they say. Please devote the bulk of your efforts to coordinating with our friends and allies regarding recent events.” She scowls and adds, “We will manage the remaining outstanding issues unilaterally, until such time that the Domain is willing to return to the table properly.”

“Of course, Advisor. I’ll do so.”

There’s a pause. “I will forward this statement to the Eridani and the Macisikani, who I am sure will consider this to be a matter of mutual concern. Please ensure that you coordinate with their Embassies on Anchorpoint and…” She trails off, thinking, and suddenly is struck by a flutter of further concern, and an idea.

“... please also pass the statement to our Nimatojin, Kajali, Great Civilization, and Menelmacari colleagues, and do see if you can compare notes. I presume that the Domain’s Yut allies may have more insight into their actions than we do, though I doubt they will be willing to share overly much outside the Triumvirate. Still, we should see what we can glean from them.”

**EDIT: IC DATE RECONCILED**
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Life, The Universe, and Everything: Part 2

Postby Alexzonya » Thu Feb 17, 2022 12:49 pm

“Every song has a pattern…”
“Thus, we can define the frequency and wavelength of those notes.”

Feather pauses, and lines up the clauses again, before merging them.

“Every song has a pattern; thus we can define the frequency and wavelength of those notes.”

She chimes audibly, pleased. This was progress, merging parts of the First and Fourth Laws. But, it needed something more. What notes? The answer was apparent.

“...we hear the music of NIR as a series of notes.”

More from the Fourth Law; she supposes she ought to have included it in the first place.

“We hear the music of reality as a series of notes. Every song has a pattern; thus, we can define the frequency and wavelength of those notes.”

A section of the First Law, inserted into parts of the Fourth. Does it change the meaning? She thinks about it. No, not really. It just makes it clearer. All of the Harmonic Laws are related; this is just teasing out how. She smiles, and saves the document… and then keeps it before her. She hums to herself, internally, and stares at it. There were still four more laws. Surely, there was more to add…

She starts manipulating the remaining laws, both on their own and in with what she had so far. She feels right on the verge of something when she’s interrupted by a reminder: Dr. Beckett’s lab meeting would be starting in just about three minutes. She closes the file with a sigh; she’d have to get back to it later. She winks away, her fox-like avatar appearing in the conference room as a hologram just before things get started...

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Budding

Postby Alexzonya » Fri Feb 25, 2022 11:23 pm


Kinsara System, Northeast Gamma League
05.19.125

The cleanup at Kinsara had been different than the one at Leos. Leos was a dead planet. Kinsara… well, it was alive. For now, anyway. What harms the biosphere below had suffered were entirely the result of decades of industrialization, though; the Static had been kept entirely off of the habitable world.

The cost had been great. Arkasian, Eridani, Leaguer and other allied forces had committed themselves to a zealous defense of the Kinsari on the blue, green, and purple marble below, leaving the corpses of their ships as well as those of their enemies strewn in orbit about the world.

The first step, weeks ago, had been search and rescue; evacuating surviving crew members from the remains of allied ships (and ensuring that no survivors remained aboard those of the Static). What remained now was rebuilding, and reclamation.

The latter was straightforward enough: Kinsara’s orbits were strewn with junk and the remains of the largest naval engagement in Arkasia’s history in NS-01. That junk simply needed to be collected and reprocessed. Simple, but for the scale; to facilitate the task, the GRA had unleashed a swarm of self-replicating resource collection drones, which were guided by sapient controllers to their targets. Once there, they gleefully broke down the warship hulls, friend or foe, into their component parts and nearly spit the results out into standardized material bricks.

The former part was a bit more complicated. Most of the orbital infrastructure in Kinsara had been destroyed in the attack, from communication and weather satellites to the Kinsara Staryard that the Arkasians had been gradually expanding since first contact. It wasn’t a question of if all of the damage would be repaired, of course; it was more a matter of in what order.

For now, the industrial infrastructure had been left on the backburner; the priority was civilian and transportation and communications. Accordingly, the first new blossoms in the orbitals were transit hubs and transmitters. Basic GalNet service, a relatively new commodity to the previously low-tech, had been restored within 48 hours of the Static’s withdrawal from the Kinsara system. Still, more sophisticated infrastructure for advanced services still required ongoing development, and as the capital of the League it was crucial that the networking be thoroughly sophisticated, on par with the core worlds of Arkasia. In like manner, it would not be long before the Kinsari Federation would be required to begin moving substantial portions of their population offworld, if they were to stabilize their homeworld’s struggling biosphere. The transportation infrastructure needed to move those individuals to the new colonies would need to be in place first.

And yes, the new colonies. The Kinsari would have to rely on their Arkasian allies for the rapid development of new colonies for them to inhabit. The Arkasians, for their part, were firmly determined not to disappoint, and had begun the deployment of settlement ‘starters’ on six different colonies. The starters, each a cluster of specialized drone pods, would begin laying the groundwork for future colonies; some clusters near the star for power, some near asteroids or other rockballs for materials, others in orbit from infrastructures, and yet more on the surface, building cities and roads and parks and everything the Kinsari would need. The only thing needed now was time… time, and hundreds of new names for places no Kinsari had yet been, which the Arkasians had delegated to their lagomorphic friends.


Further Abroad, Northeast Gamma League
05.19.125

Of course, it wasn’t just Kinsara. The Martian Forum and Triumvirate of Yut had promised aid, and they had delivered. The specifics were left to Arkasian discretion, and they had in turn delegated (much of) the decision-making to the League Congress on Unity Station. For months, things perhaps had seemed stagnant to an outside observer, seeing slow development, ongoing crisis, and an alliance of nations pressed beyond their means.

Now, as the rebuilding continued, it became clear that there was a method, a pattern after all. The League had deftly allocated the foreign aid monies and supplies to that which it could not replace itself, in time. Food, clean water… the essentials of life were good only for survival, and so were allocated where the need was greater. The rest, though, the composites, the graphene, the fusion generators… that would be used for something else. While the replacement of roads, bridges, buses, and the like had been left to the local systems in so many dozens of systems across the alliance’s breadth, the aid supplies had gone to constructing shipyards, orbital foundries, and the engines of industry. It would inconvenience citizens, surely, if a bridge were not rebuilt for a year. But a shipyard… a nation so ravaged could not replace a shipyard for a generation. And so what appeared to be slow, clumsy reconstruction was actually executed with the long-term in mind. Investing in the future of the war-torn region was slower and more politically costly to some than simply fixing what had been broken… but the Congress hoped their successors would reap the benefits.

… and, that no one could cleanly trace the idea of long-term investment over short-term relief back to the Arkasians proved, if nothing else, that the Arkasians were becoming at least somewhat deft in their maneuvering of the regional body they had created.
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Life, The Universe, and Everything: Part 3

Postby Alexzonya » Tue Mar 01, 2022 11:47 pm

It’s a few weeks later when Feather finally gets back to her Harmonics puzzle. A lot had changed at the Alpha Site during that time; for one, they had picked up new observers on the station. She had been busy with her work, having been reassigned to the Holographics Division once the work-stop had been lifted (and the RevTech objects dealt with). They had a lot of ground to make up, after all.

“We hear the music of reality as a series of notes. Every song has a pattern; thus, we can define the frequency and wavelength of those notes.”


Something about the statement strikes her differently now. She murrs gently, and starts reviewing the Harmonic Laws again… there was something else on the edge of her mind. What is it?

This pattern can be replicated, modified or even changed with enough study.


That clicks nicely into place… but not directly with the other section of the first law. She adds it to the end.

We hear the music of reality as a series of notes. Every song has a pattern; thus, we can define the frequency and wavelength of those notes. This pattern can be replicated, modified or even changed.


She likes this. She likes this a lot. Weaving the laws of Harmonics together… like the notes of a song. Each alone was insightful: as you used them together, the chorus gradually grew. It was lovely… but there was still something missing. Cowbell? No, more like… a cymbal. The high song of a trumpet. The ending flourish…

She finds it where she least expects it. The Sixth Law, thought by most Arkasian analysis to be more Eridani philosophy than Harmonic Law, but it’s there Feather finds the last note she needs, the resounding conclusion:

Using conduits of Tonal energy, one could potentially alter all reality.


That is it. That is her final note, the conclusion to her little song. She organizes it accordingly, and reviews the result happily.

We hear the music of reality as a series of notes. Every song has a pattern; thus, we can define the frequency and wavelength of those notes. This pattern can be replicated, modified or even changed. Using conduits of Tonal energy, one could potentially alter all reality.


She pauses. She frowns slightly, and then hums to herself. Wait a moment… was this…? Her excitement suddenly begins to build anew, though she does her best to contain herself. Surely… surely someone had noticed this before? She puts her thoughts together in a message, and sends them to Doctor Beckett, certain that he’d have more insights on the matter.

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A Most Unusual Gift

Postby Alexzonya » Thu Mar 03, 2022 11:19 am

The Martian Forum
06.10.125

“A beach ball?”

“Yes Ambassador.”

Ambassador Bowman frowns slightly. “That’s what Elvin gave me? A beach ball?”

“Yes, sir.” Guardian-Captain Vaughn smirks. “I sense it inside the package.”

“The thing that I’m supposed to keep secret and safe is a beach ball?!”

“A most peculiar beachball,” replies Vaughn. “I don’t know what it is, but there’s certainly something… more… to it.”

Bowman frowns. “We’ll have it on the first cruiser back to Meridian, then. Secret and safe… maybe this is just a test.”

“Or,” replies Vaughn, “they’ve hidden something important in plain sight.”

“Either way, it doesn’t do anyone any good on Mars.”

Somewhere in Arkasia…
06.10.125

“What do you think’s in there?’ The Marine stifled a yawn and adjusted the straps on his carbine idly.

He and three of his friends (along with a half-platoon of QDs) had been stationed in the cargo hold, to protect… a box. Small, matte black, slightly rectangular in form… the kind of box that carried Important Things, especially if such a box was guarded by Marines.

“Coming from Mars? My bet’s on some kind of data chip.” The second Marine eyes the first appraisingly. “We’re always moving data back and forth.”

“Nah,” The third one shakes their head. “Not with this many of us here. This is serious.” The Ghalen’s attention was still laser-focused on the task at hand. “Some kind of physical artifact.”

“I think it’s none of our business,” huffs the last, some kind of blue-skinned xeno with a pair of fleshy appendages of some variety trailing off of the back of her head; the hairless blue skin of them was covered tightly by a dull black combat sleeve that sealed in to the rest of her armor, giving an unfortunate tentacle-like impression. “We’ll never know for sure anyway, so let's just do our job.”

“You’re no fun,” notes the first. “You’re right, but you’re no fun.”

After arrival, the object was spirited away by Fleet Intelligence. Where to, the Marines hadn’t even a guess…

Excelsior Vaults, Galactic Republic of Arkasia
06.10.125

“We’ve completed our scans of the object. Whatever it is, it’s inert now. Some kind of artifact.” The analyst shrugs apologetically, and then straightens her Fleet Intelligence uniform a bit self-consciously.

“Hmm…” The Guardian frowns at it. “Can we identify what it used to be?” He tries not to look perturbed.

“Not with any accuracy. If we sent it off to Alpha Site, they might be able to crack it, but… this is Nimatojin tech, the really advanced stuff.”

“I see. Thank you Lieutenant. Log it and keep it in the vaults. ‘Secret and safe’... no place better for that than the Excelsior Vaults.”
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Postby Alexzonya » Thu Mar 03, 2022 12:43 pm

Sharhe Grand Anchorage, Macisikan, Beta Quadrant
06.08.125

Admiral Natalee Bailess is used to large facilities and fleets. The Arkasian Starfleet, as it were, is no slouch in its own weight class, and her previous headquarters was located at the Anchorpoint Circlet.

… the Sharhe Grand Anchorage is in an entirely different league.

“I think… we could park the entire Starfleet here, and it wouldn’t be more than a blip on their capacity,” she notes. She stands in a privacy field on the CIC of the largest warship presently in the Arkasian fleet, the Phoenixi-built Sector Control Ship ARS Alliance, making its irrelevance no small feat. Alliance was still due for her shake-down run and combat trials, unfortunately, after the project had been beset by delays, but she was operable enough to at least look imposing at the head of Arkasian BetaCOM. Or rather, look imposing under normal circumstances. Not so much at Sharhe.

“Yes… and now you properly understand why it's so very important that we don’t ever irritate them as badly as the Domain just did.” Sky Marshall Hawthorne’s hologram nods to Bailess. “Also, we don’t get to stay forever. Just for long enough to find a place for the new colony and command post.” She pauses. “Have you spoken to your father, recently?” she inquires.

Natalee shakes her head. “I don’t like to call too often. It seems improper, even if…”

“... even if you’re his daughter,” finishes Hawthorne, with a soft sigh. “Your respect for decorum is noted, Admiral Bailess. But you really ought to visit him. I do believe he would like to talk to you about a particular topic.”

“Which topic?”

“Not even on a secure channel, Natalee. Once you’re settled in at Sharhe, come home for a week. That’s an order. ”

Natalee nods stiffly. “Yes, ma’am.”

“Otherwise, we’re delegating the Mirage Project to you.”

“Mirage?”

“Oh, the… this new naming scheme,” grumbles the Sky Marshall. “The Beta colonization project. The generator assigned it the name Mirage. Try not to let it prejudice you in actually naming the colony.”

“Yes, ma’am…” She winces, already realizing she was thinking of the colony’s name as ‘Mirage’. Damn the random project codeword generator… “I’ll, uh… do my best, on that.”

Hawthorne cackles. “There are worse names for a colony than Mirage,” she quips. “Anyway, I have high hopes for this project, Admiral. Do make sure you keep our allies in the loop. Yut has a public repository of system information, and they’re the experts on the Beta Quadrant. Do make sure to consult them.”

“Yes, ma’am… I’ll make sure we do so.”

“Very good.” Hawthorne smiles. “I believe that settles our official business. On a personal note… I’m very proud of you, Natalee. You’re a very capable officer, and I was delighted to see your name come up on the recommended list of promotions. Keep up the good work.”

“Thank you ma’am!” Natalee smiles and salutes the hologram. “I will.”

Hawthorne returns the salute. “Take care, Admiral Bailess. Hawthorne out.” Her hologram vanishes, and Natalee returns her eyes to the view of the Macisikani anchorage… though her mind drifts to thoughts of home.
Last edited by Alexzonya on Thu Mar 03, 2022 12:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby Alexzonya » Mon Mar 28, 2022 1:14 am

July 28, 125 ASY

“Not bad,” notes Ambassador Jack Bowman, as he reviews the plans. “Pathfinder Center looks like it’ll rival the finest cities on Mars… assuming it gets finished to spec.”

The other Arkasian, from the Foreign Affairs Advisory, snorts. She sets her chin on her hand. “I doubt the others would agree.”

“You’d be surprised,” replies Jack. “They can appreciate the beauty in what we do… though yes, Valten may have used the term ‘green hell’ to refer to the jungles of Arkasian Hesperia. Don’t expect him to visit.”

“The Mangalans all live on the other side of the Hesperia Planum Territory for a reason, that’s all I’m going to say.”

He shakes his head. “I think the air conditioned tunnel system will be genius. Tropical resort when you want it, cool, direct routing between buildings when you don’t. And with the barrier islands, the climate should be lovely, except for the heat and humidity…”

“And it’s so green,” she agrees, sounding sincere enough that Bowman almost takes the bait. Almost.

“It is,” he agrees, as he narrows his eyes. “You know, if you hate jungles so much, Marie, why did you take a transfer to Arkasian Hesperia? You know there isn’t a temperate part, right?”

“I didn’t,” she laughs. “Not on your life. I’m bound for Mangala City, working on the Duma handover. Which means meeting the Kajali here, in a few hours… soooo, I figured I’d get here a bit early and check in on my old roommate, and see how he’s doing at the illustrious Martian Forum.”

“Overworked, underpaid, stressed almost all of the time… having the time of my life with it, to be honest.” Jack laughs in turn. “So, the Duma… and after that, then what?”

“Our delegation in Mangala City. Working with the Mangalans on making sure they have everything they need, and that we don’t step on their toes with our new initiatives.”

“I saw Mangala City a few days ago. Lovely, lovely place. It’s like the entire city is a work of art… and hopefully now it’ll stop hemorrhaging people.”

“Hopefully all of Mangala will stop hemorrhaging people,” corrects Marie. “One of the top things on the list.”

“The OSA worked miracles, given how long they were camped out there in a holding pattern,” says Jack. “Physically, everything is pristine. It’s just… the spirit of the place. All the uncertainty over the future of Hesperia, the temporary administration that seemed like it would go on forever… my understanding is that it really sapped morale. With firm plans in place, hopefully we can start enticing the Mangalans to stay… and maybe even start to return.”

“To Mangala City, anyway. What about Rhobos, though?” It’s clear Marie had seen images of the canalside city… and was less-than-impressed.

Jack winces. “Physically in good shape… but it needs some urban renewal. Sheffield’s the same way; the OSA fixed everything that was physically broken, but the city could use a facelift.”

“If the Mangalans want it.”

Jack looks skeptical. “I can’t imagine living in Sheffield and not wanting some revisions.”

“No, but you aren’t Mangalan.” Marie smiles. “And frankly, we’re still figuring out exactly what makes them tick.”

“That’s true,” agrees Jack. He looks vaguely annoyed. “We’ll just have to play things by ear until we sort that out.”

“And if I step on any toes in the meantime,” quips Marie, “you’ll be here to clean up the mess.” She grins, and he groans.

“Hush, no! From your mouth to the Stars’ ears!”

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

Postby Alexzonya » Sun Jun 19, 2022 5:25 pm

Sheffield, East Mangala Special Administrative Zone, Mars
August 04, 125 ASY

It sometimes felt that Sheffield was becoming foreign, even though Frank had lived there all his life. The city itself was, of course, exactly where it had always been; on the island in the middle of an impact crater, the East Mangala Orbital Elevator shooting straight up overhead, all the way to Martian geosynchronous orbit. But the city had changed, and the cause wasn’t hard to see: Arkasians.

It wasn’t a bad thing, exactly. The city council had signed off on the renewal plans, after all. The buildings that were going up were in the traditional Mangalan style, and all of the big historical sites were being facelifted, not replaced. But to Frank… things had begun to feel wrong.

The corner store in the run-down building where he had gotten his morning breakfast for twenty years had been closed for a week, and then reopened… shining and new and artistic, part of an optimistic mid-rise development that looked like it could have fallen out of Mangala City itself. The school he had gone to as a boy, that his daughters had all gone to as girls, where his grandchild would have been in the third grade if any of the lot still lived on Mars… gone, now, flattened to make way for a shining new ‘West Sheffield Educational Nexus’ of two-dozen stories of sweeping steel and glass, a part of an ongoing consolidation of the city’s previous nine distinct school districts.

Maybe that’s what looked wrong: the utilitarian and brutalist architecture of Sheffield had always been plain and straightforward, and had never carried the pompous artistry so common in the South of the nation. In the humid jungle, the people of Sheffield had dealt with the jeers of the rest for years, the name ‘Sheffield’ used much as humans of the early twenty-first century would have said ‘Slough’ or ‘Cleveland’. It was odd, seeing that era end right before his eyes in walls and walls of scaffolding and the ubiquitous presence of construction drones.

Maybe it would bring his daughters home. All four had left the dying East Mangala. One lived in the formerly Mangala part of Menelmacar now, just across the western border, advocating for historical preservation of whatever Mangalan culture remained. Maybe, at least, the new monorail connections would make seeing her and her wife more frequent. The second, the eldest, was in Sunset with so many other Mangalans who sought brighter futures. The third was in Solitude with her husband, with their three children taking up so much time he hadn’t seen her in almost two years. The Arkasians had promised jobs, and development, and a better Mangala. If it would bring his daughters home, maybe Frank could get over all the scaffolding.
Last edited by Alexzonya on Sun Jun 19, 2022 5:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.


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