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The Compendium [Future Tech | Fiction | Open]

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Vocenae
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Posts: 1085
Founded: Jan 19, 2006
Compulsory Consumerist State

The Compendium [Future Tech | Fiction | Open]

Postby Vocenae » Sun Nov 02, 2014 10:14 pm




WHATISTHECOMPENDIUM?

The Compendium is a repository for various creative works by the members of the NationStates Future Tech roleplaying community—those works which do not fit the traditional mold of a roleplay post. This specifically focuses on serials and short stories. Content can range across a diverse spectrum, from all quadrants of the prime community galaxy to parallel universes and all manner of special sub-communities, with the caveat that all stories and submissions fall under the umbrella of the overarching Future Tech community. All stories and submissions will be categorized by the posting author to create a canon of work that may be used both as a reference to one's larger mythos, or to the writer's work independent of other civilizations created in the Future Tech roleplaying community. The story registry will be updated once a month, at the end of the month.


WHOMAYCONTRIBUTE?

The Compendium is an open collection of work from authors throughout the NationStates Future Tech roleplaying community. Any story that may be broadly classified as a part of the Future Tech style is permissible, either through standalone entries or through work that assists in the creation or promotion of a writer's Future Tech group or groups. While there are no restrictions on who may or may not participate by submitting their work, please note that there are several rules listed below that are expected to be followed. If a player or multiple players become habitual violators of the Compendium's rules (or those of the content policy in the NationStates forums) will have any offending work removed and further be asked not to continue participating with content submissions. All content posted to the Compendium will be updated as regularly as time permits; questions may be forwarded to the OP, Vocenae via telegram, and any requests for help may be directed via the folks at the NSFT Discord.


THECOMPENDIUMRULES:

1. All content, be it serials and short stories or other forms must conform to the stated content standards of the NationStates forums, pertinent to the possibility of Moderation intervention or content deletion. Content of an edgier nature should be submitted with a '[Mature]' tag to be included at the top of each post, aligned to the right and enclosed by brackets, with the text appearing in a shade of red in large font size. Sexual content must be tame and falling within the PG-13 content rules of the forums, and all explicit scenes must abide by the 'fade to black' policy. The following code is provided as an accepted general standard for usage with all mature submissions:

Code: Select all
[floatright][box][size=150][ [color=#BF0000]Mature[/color] ][/size][/box][/floatright]


2. Submitted work to the Compendium should be included with a discernible title, centered at the head of each submission in large text for easier categorization purposes. Stories or submissions without a given title will not be added to the catalog until rectified.

3. The Compendium is not a repository for whole, multiple page role-plays. Please do not use the Compendium to carry out large-scale role-play efforts. Other nations' characters may only be used with their consent.

4. There is a minimum posting size requirement of three paragraphs of content.

5. All users are allowed one slot on the story index. Posting on puppets is allowed, but you must notify me of your main nation either with a OOC author's note within the post itself or through telegram. Players that cease to exist before the next Index update will NOT have their stories listed until they return to the game and send a telegram requesting that they be linked.

6. Images associated with any posted stories (barring headers) should be hidden within links or spoiler tags and obey the size and content rules of Nationstates and the forums.

7. Compendium entries cannot consist of Factbook, or otherwise largely factoid entries. The Compendium is for full and cohesive stories, not simply about declarations of new policies or simple news scenes that do not include additional scenes. Factbooks have their own forum dedicated to them, and news scenes without additional storytelling themes should remain within dedicated news threads.

8. Players can link stories with each other to form a collaborative whole, however these stories must not exceed five related posts, must be linked with a main title and a subtitle I.E. 'The Group Story: Overdrive'. These linked stories must form a coherent narrative and must conclude within five posts.

9. User stories with a connected plot (re-occurring themes, characters and locations) should conclude within three posts and should not exceed five posts.

10. Compendium entries must take place within the Future Tech community. This excludes entries that take place within or involve Closed Roleplaying Groups (groups that are otherwise unconnected from the main FT community) in any way.





Addendum & Thanks

This thread and OP has been re-posted with permission from New Azura, who has given me ownership of The Compendium. All thread formatting in the above sections and in the following Table of Contents posts has been the work of New Azura, and the player behind it has my utmost thanks in allowing me to take over as curator of this valuable resource for the Future Tech community.

To ease the transition (and to make things a lot easier on myself), several links within the Table of Contents that connect to stories not contained within in this thread shall link to their locations in the original Compendium thread, unless the authors would link to post their stories here or otherwise have their stories removed from the Table of Contents.

Please note that as the owner and operator of this thread, I reserve the right to have any story removed should I deem it undesirable for this thread, nor am I under any obligation to include within the Index any story or player that does not follow the listed rules above or violates the rules of both the Nationstates forums and Nationstates itself. Any story or player that violates the rules of the Compendium and that of the NAtionstates forums and Nationstates itself will be removed and will be barred from the thread until further notice. Thank you, and have a nice day.

-Vocenae


Last edited by Vocenae on Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:09 pm, edited 41 times in total.

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Vocenae
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Posts: 1085
Founded: Jan 19, 2006
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Vocenae » Sun Nov 02, 2014 10:15 pm

Image

INDEX A - M


Submissions by Aphotic Anathema
1. Ancient Temptations [ Mature ]


Submissions by Auracexia


Submissions by Azura


Submissions by Cosu


Submissions by Daskoxian


Submissions by Delta Dominion


Submissions by Doppio Giudici


Submissions by Enso and Mu


Submissions by Federal Republic of Free States


Submissions by Geanna


Submissions by Gogol Transcendancy
1. Twenty Eight Hours [ Mature ]


Submissions by Haude


Submissions by Hedron
1. Unconscious Nightmare [ Mature ]


Submissions by Heliocalypse


Submissions by Higher Japan


Submissions by Kiruri


Submissions by Kyrusia
1. Awake [ Mature ]
2. Take the World [ Mature ]
3. Smoke on the Horizon [ Mature ]
4. Smoke On The Water [ Mature ]
5. Smoke and Mirrors [ Mature ]
6. Firewater [ Mature ]
7. Handle With Care
8. The Firebrand
9. A Step Too Far
10. Smoke Signals
11. Babylon Burns[ Mature ]
12. Reignition[ Mature ]
13. Fire and Brimstone
14. That We Weave


Submissions by Lotrabme
Last edited by Vocenae on Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:37 am, edited 36 times in total.

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Vocenae
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1085
Founded: Jan 19, 2006
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Vocenae » Sun Nov 02, 2014 10:15 pm

Image

INDEX N - Z


Submissions by Neornith
1. New Deals
2. Pumped
3. Terrible Luck [ Mature ]


Submissions by New Dornalia


Submissions by Perseid Federation


Submissions by Perditan
1. Starlight Lost [ Mature ]


Submissions by Phoenix Conclave


Submissions by Nokonisad Aqinid


Submissions by Prima Apokronas


Submissions by Red Talons


Submissions by Rethan


Submissions by Senkaku


Submissions by Source Swarm


Submissions by Spindle


Submissions by Taledonia


Submissions by Telros


Submissions by Tharwatine


Submissions by The Ben Boys


Submissions by The Fedral Union


Submissions by The Second Brotherhood of Planets


Submissions by The Singers of the Void


Submissions by The Solar Cooperative Union


Submissions by -The Unified Earth Governments-


Submissions by The Uthani Imperium


Submissions by The Vahkiran


Submissions by Timsatta


Submissions by Trasildor


Submissions by Vipra
1. Surviving [ Mature ]


Submissions by Vocenae
1. Back in 5 Minutes [ Mature ]
2. Joyride [ Mature ]
3. The Silent War, Part I [ Mature ]


Submissions by Xiscapia


Submissions by Yortini Systems
Last edited by Vocenae on Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:32 am, edited 42 times in total.
The Imperial Star Republic
18:34 <Kyrusia> Voc: The one anchor of moral conscience in a sea of turbulent depravity.

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Doppio Giudici
Senator
 
Posts: 4520
Founded: Nov 26, 2011
Left-Leaning College State

Postby Doppio Giudici » Mon Nov 17, 2014 11:45 am

[ Welcome Home, Konrad (Part 1 NT) ]


[ Mature ]



He opened his eyes slowly and looked at her face, the only thing not covered by a large comforter that covered the entire bed. He was on his back and her head was resting on his chest, listening to him breathe. Perhaps that was what woke him up, he had no idea how long she had been like this.

"I'm feeling pretty sore." He started "I'm pretty sure you're supposed to be make me relaxed."

She moved her head and raised it, looking at him, the covers following her a little. Cold air moved under the opening and he shivered, his body was for the most part devoid of hair.

"I think it's more about making you feel loved and welcome." She said tilting her head "That soreness is just the tension leaving you. Or at least that's what the history sites say."

He scooted back a little and sat up, moving the comforter so that it covered both of them. The room was kept strangely cold for some reason, something must have caused problems with the temperature stabilizer again.

"So is that what you are here for, tradition?" He said crossing his legs, with one hand on the large, thick sheet.

"Things were a lot better back then when tradition was more important." She admitted "However, I admit that I was drawn to the idea because of excitement. It's not every day you get to fuck someone who has seen actual operations. There has been nothing but peace and I...I'm not sure if this is right for us."

He rubbed his beard, one of the few places on his body that grew hair. His head had barely enough to seem normal for the military, it was engineered to never produce anymore. There was very few that were sent to colonize, nevermind going off in the new pirate cleansing operations. So it made sense that only those engineered to fight would be sent to do it, only the best could qualify.

"Isn't excitement something that we need to be careful with?" He pondered rubbing her long hair softly.

"I kinda meant the excitement about being part of something." She clarified "You've been gone for about a year right? Thought it would be nice to welcome you home. It's not like there is that many to welcome home anyways."

"Yeah, we're down to hopping systems and watching for r'ates" He said with a nod "I understand how you feel now. It's good to be home."

She crawled to the side of the bed and hopped out of it, before coming back with a sealed container with two straws. The cup was completely seal save for the those two openings, but he could feel the heat from inside it. She held it for him and put a straw in her mouth, before holding it with both hands. He placed his hands on hers and took a sip, swallowing what he found to actually be Raid. He pulled his lips away and looked at her, as she followed suit.

"Wow, this does taste like home." He remarked with a grin "What is this?"

"You take jello and you never let it cool, you swap out the flavoring, sugar and such with Raid." She stated with a smile in return "I always wanted to try this but never had the opportunity to do it. I mean I'm just a civilian."

He held up his finger and did the thing she did, rushing off the bed to get her something as well. He came back with a folded piece of cloth and he gave it to her.

"What is this....oh." She mummered "This is one of your shirts, it's even a nice mix of gray and white so it looks clean longer."

She looked up at him and stared with her eyes wide

"T-This." She stammered "This is yours. This is something that only veterans and people in the War Effort can wear."

"You welcomed me home and I want to welcome you to the War Effort." He said with a smile. "Welcome sister Helen. Welcome konrad."

She looked back down at it and then slowly looked back at him, biting her lip softly. Helen was trying to cry but wasn't doing a very good job.

"I-I don't even know your n-name." Helen lamented "I know you don't want to share it because you're trying to stay out of the spot-light but..."

She looked at him, tears streaming down her face.

"I'm a Terran girl, I don't choose to spend time with people I don't know." Helen confessed "I don't just sleep with random people who I find attractive just because outsiders encourage it. I went to temple every single week till I was 16. I read all the books of wisdom and I believe just as much as every single Terran before me."

She poked his chest with every sentence and sometimes every word, driving in her point with the tips of her fingers.

"You honestly thing that one of your own blood, who has only a few grandmothers and grandfathers keeping us apart; would tell your secrets?"

She stood up on the bed, completely naked with her arms crossed in soft anger. He looked up, not even noticing since he couldn't for another month or so.

"You." He sighed "You make a good point, Sister."

He looked at the ground not making eye-contact, before slowly reaching out his hand and grabbing hers. He stood up with her help and looked her in the eye.

"Your future Emperor thanks you for welcoming him home." The Heir stated "You seem very well versed in the nature of our foremothers and fathers."

He softly kissed her hand, as she swallowed trying to take it all in.

"With any luck you will keep in touch, I apologize if I must be away often to earn my birthright." John went on "I don't expect anymore then you have given me. Perhaps we will keep paths again.

He hopped off the bed and began getting dress as he had things to do today, he had only so much time till he would be back in the medias eye.

"I'll wait till you get back again before I make any decisions on who to spend my life with." Helen said "Which one of the princes are you?"

He laughed softly and looked over at her, as he padded down his shirt.

"I am the current Duke, I lead the Federation to victory." John replied "The princes might earn their birthright, but with any luck I will earn the respect of the people first."
Last edited by Doppio Giudici on Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.
I use this old account for FT, Pentaga Giudici and Vadia are for MT.

"Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening"

Construction is taking forever, but Prole Confederation will be paying millions of Trade Units for embassies and merchants that show up at the SBTH

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Rethan
Minister
 
Posts: 2138
Founded: Aug 09, 2006
Corporate Police State

Postby Rethan » Sun Nov 30, 2014 6:06 pm

I Have To Go Home

The ghosts are getting worse and I do not have long to write this. It takes considerable effort to simply focus on the words as I write them and I do so under considerable strain. I will undoubtedly miss a great many details in this retelling, but if I can help those who find it act at all faster than we did then it will be enough.

Half a year ago the scientific community of our world was thrown into a frenzy when they finally managed to land a probe on an asteroid. The mission had taken over a decade to see to completion and the excitement was understandable. I had a great interest in all things scientific and I watched the landing live on a small television during my shift as a night time guard in a largely abandoned industrial estate. While I did not fully comprehend the meaning behind the landing, that we had achieved something never before done was stunning enough for me to watch with rapt attention. Then the news moved on to the usual topics of conversation. Growing tensions between the superpowers, the recent scandal of a politician, the growing cost of living. Our kind’s achievement was lost amidst the rush of daytime television and our need to violate each other’s privacy. It wasn’t until that a month afterward that the scientists had news for us, and this time it would not so easily glossed over.

It seemed the asteroid was not wholly built of rock and ice. The core was made of some material that science had neither accounted for nor was able to explain. The probe’s own laboratory - one that was now hideously out of date - couldn’t analyse the samples it had gathered and so the team behind its mission took a gamble and ejected the probe into deep space. The asteroid they had spent so long trying to reach drifted off into the distance and careened into our atmosphere. It might have maintained a steady orbit if not for the probe’s hasty launch, but as the last pieces of the mysterious material burned up and slammed into the ocean as ash, a mission was already underway to retrieve the sample on board the small probe. The Transnational Orbital Installation, one of the few times our nations had managed to work together on a single project, was due to rendezvous with the probe, recover the sample, and have it despatched planetside. All of this within the next two months. The world, eager to analyse this alien, impossible material, waited. For two months the air waves were flooded with speculation and hype. More than a few decried it as a conspiracy, others still were wary of bringing something that the greatest minds of our world had declared baffling to our native soil was a mistake.

In the end it didn’t matter either way.

Before the sample could ever be recovered, there was a hideous disaster. On the shores of one of our superpowers, whole cities were falling silent. We in the civilised world never discovered what was causing it, and the corrupt government of the nation in question was quick to blame us. The accusations were naturally without any grounding in reality, but nevertheless tensions climbed increasingly higher. More than a few terrorist strikes within our borders were undoubtedly funded by the less democratic nations of the world and soon the abject silence of a few unremarkable villages and towns went unnoticed. The signs were all there, but they never got any screen time. Fish stocks were dwindling, whole migrations of whales and birds vanished without a trace, but the only thing anyone had time for was the impending world war. And I, a humble security guard, was just as guilty of ignorance as everyone else. Armies were being mobilised, conscription was brought in again. A small country was suddenly invaded and nothing done to protect it for fear of open war. The tyrant nation responsible claimed it was looking out for its own people in light of falsified oppression and took what it had no right to. The world’s peace sat on a knife’s edge. Our kind were certain that annihilation was just around the corner with one nation or the other prepared to strike.

And then the world Cried.

The Cry deafened everything. Every radio frequency was suddenly blotted out with screeching static, whole satellites had their circuitry melted in a wash of electromagnetic radiation that they tried desperately to interpret. The sudden explosion of radiation sterilised almost a hundred square kilometres of land, killing thousands. For a week the world was in anarchy. People were certain that it would lead to war, that the Cry was a horrendous weapon employed as some kind of alpha strike. Then, as emotions settled down and logic started to make itself known, we realised that the whole world had been effected. Every nation was struggling with the sudden destruction of their infrastructure, with hundreds of satellites knocked out of alignment and the shrill sound of static still present on every radio receiving device in existence. I won’t pretend to understand it, but suffice it to say that our atmosphere was tainted with the effects of the Cry. It took three months to get things back into working order and in the meantime the world tore itself apart.

I shall spare the details of our own panic fuelled debauchery, such stories are not why I am trying to write this last testament. And I must be quick, I can feel the pressure building in my head.

By the end of the third month without communication (at least, without anything that could not be channeled through a wire) the first pieces of news started filtering through from the TOI. The Cry had hit them as well, and hard, but they were resourceful individuals and had recovered. Their examinations of the Cry revealed a horrifying fact - one much more terrifying than the simple prospect of world war or a new superweapon. The Cry, as widespread as its damage had been on the surface, was directed solely and utterly in one direction once it left our atmosphere. Without the blanket of gases to bounce the signal around, it shot true and clear across the cosmos to some unknown source well towards the galactic core. Much more curiously, when the Cry had exploded outwards the sample of material on the TOI had suddenly thronged into life. The astronauts claimed it had suddenly become highly caustic and reactive, bubbling in its container and threatening to eat through the toughened casing. They had been forced to eject it lest it eat a hole in their carefully managed environment.

On the surface of our home world, things were getting steadily worse. It had been difficult to notice in the rampant anarchy that plagued our civilisation after the Cry, but the disappearance had been getting worse. The first affected nation finally came clean, admitting that over three million people had vanished in a single month and that they were unable to trace the cause. It ceased shortly before the Cry, only to return all across the world. It didn’t matter what nationality your home was, in the chaos of the radioless world millions were snatched from their homes. Sometimes it was a ship that showed up without its crew, other times it was entire city blocks vanishing during the night with nary a scream or cry. Eventually we finally noticed the vanishing of sea life and with horrific realisation noticed that every affected city was either on the shore, or along a river bank. Something was in our water.

We never properly figured out what horror lurked in the deep. Though I have my suspicions in light of recent events.

One week ago, just as we were getting back on our feet and rebuilding what had been lost during the post-Cry silence of the world, our world was set upon. I remember exactly when it happened, when the first violation of my mind occured. I was working, by which I mean playing some ridiculous game while being paid to sit in an abandoned warehouse, when I could feel a sudden tickling of my skin. Then the assault began in earnest, a sudden rush of pain preceding hallucinations so vivid I could feel them. My head threatened to split and I could feel something slither and crawl across the surface of my brain, raping every neuron. Eventually the intrusion faded, but never completely. It came in bursts from then on, but the ghosts always tickled at the edge of my sight. I know they are not real, but I cannot properly convince my subconscious. I still flinch and break out in a cold sweat as incorporeal shapes twist at the edges of my vision. And through it all I cannot shake this awful feeling of being watched by a thousand eyes in the shadows and things behind the corner and I know that they can see my mind and thoughts and...and….

It is getting worse. I cannot look outside. I must not look outside.

They say now that it was magnetic fields, that our brains are vulnerable when they are dense and powerful enough. Or perhaps it was something chemical they bled into the air that could be triggered. A hundred explanations and all of them useless as a wave of hysteria and insanity conquered us before we could ever truly mount a defence. I walked through the street, striking out at every shadow, and saw a man saw his own arm off. He thought it was a parasite trying to kill him. A woman stood in the middle of the road staring into the sky - she thought she was dead, that it wasn’t her speaking to me but someone else. How could it be her? She was dead. Rumours spread like wildfire of fathers who slaughtered their families over dinner, of women who clawed at their own ears or children who suddenly thought themselves blind or deaf or dumb despite all evidence to the contrary. Our minds, our brains were being disrupted. Nothing was real and yet everything was. There was so much I was unsure of. I was not even sure of the thing that rose from the ocean waters.

A great black Leviathan, its edges made of razor edged fractals and its skin glistening in impossible colours that somehow slid and slipped behind a sheath of absolute nothingness. The beast was at once an emptiness and yet a wondrous canvas. I thought then that this was the thing clawing its way into our minds and watched dumbfounded as whole shards - each the size of a building - fell and punched holes into the ground. The leviathan moved forward, though I could not see whether it slithered or walked or flowed or flew, and before it the scenery turned grey and empty. The sound of insanity was stolen from the air. I turned and I ran, and though insanity had claimed so many I was not alone. The leviathan had all the time in the world and it did not pursue us.

I ran for so long before I finally collapsed. I have been running ever since. FInally, finally, there is nowhere left to run. The leviathans are behind me, and their masters are ahead of me. Perhaps I am the only one alive who knows enough to be of use, perhaps not. Perhaps this recording will survive after me, perhaps not.

I can hear them. I can hear me and I am saying such wretched things.

It was not the leviathans that engineered our destruction but their masters that they had Cried to. I saw one clearly this morning. Or perhaps I didn’t. Perhaps it was not even morning.

It rose like the sun though. An immense and terrible shape on the horizon, a wicked black star with architecture and outlines that hurt to behold. I can describe its appearance only with the word ‘torture’, for I find it inconceivable that something could exist in that way and not be in pain. It stretched out its monolithic appendages and labyrinthine form and stole the colour from the world. But not all of it, as the leviathans had. It left the world a cruel and angry shade of red, a crimson stain that made the earth itself seem to suffer as this monstrous black star was suffering. I fled into my current stronghold then, and left my fellow refugees to the black star.

I had heard from a soldier that the black stars were master puppeteers. They reached out with magnetic forces of immeasurable strength and rent apart our weapons and our heads. Some got sick and died where they stood, others took their own lives as their minds were warped and reprogrammed by the incalculable aura of the black stars. Those that survived its opening gambit then made the deathly mistake of looking at the shape. When they know that you are looking at them, the soldier said, they change and flash colours more beautiful than he had ever seen. If you look at them too long, he said, these patterns work in tandem with the invisible tendrils of the beasts and take your own will under their tutelage. Whole armies simply lay down their weapons and allowed themselves to be hauled into the sky, their bodies ripped asunder as they ascended.

He hadn’t watched what happened next.

That’s how you know they have found you. The sudden pain in your blood, the thoughts that aren’t yours but that are. Small ideas that you know at first are wrong but then must be true. Of course that limb isn’t mine. Of course there are insects in my skin. Of course I am dead.

I can feel one of them in the sky above me. I can see the blood drenched air filter through the cracks in the walls, everything is turning grey and grey, grey and grey and red and grey and red and red and red and grey.

I should look up.

I mustn’t.

But I should.

I look into the sky and I see it and I know everything will be okay. I’m going to stop writing now. I have to go home.
As Was Devoured Shall Devour | As Was Buried Shall Bury

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Xiscapia
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 12725
Founded: Mar 13, 2007
Left-Leaning College State

The Xiscapian Spacer's Codex

Postby Xiscapia » Thu Jan 01, 2015 3:35 am

The Xiscapian Spacer's Codex


-Among Xiscapian spacers carrying a vial of dirt from your homeworld is considered lucky. Conversely, whistling in a cargo hold is considered bad luck.

-Xiscapian spacers often paint a picture of the Motherland on their ship hulls, represented as a white vixen with stars in her crimson hair. On both sides, the female is always facing to the right. When pressed, the Xiscapian will give a non-committal answer about how it shows she's 'always facing the right way', or that she ' always has your back and your front'.

-On Xiscapian vessels the corpses of dead crew members should be returned to their planet of birth, or if it is necessary to release them, a trajectory will be plotted so that they will eventually reach it. Corpses of those born in space must be burned by incineration in the nearest star.

-Finding a pre-light speed artifact of an alien civilization in space (probes without FTL drives for example) is considered an extremely potent omen, both for good and bad. Most Xiscapian spacers refuse to touch them.

-It's believed that if you see blips in FTL called sensor ghosts, you probably just saw a ghost ship. Jaunt and especially older-style Xiscapian hyper drives are known to sometimes accidentally activate during maintenance or receiving battle damage, and in some cases the stricken ships are never seen again. Depending on your captain, it could either be a good symbol or a bad symbol.

-Due to the boom-and-bust, fly-by-night nature of a lot of corporations and conglomerates that attempt to populate and mine asteroids, many "ghost towns" are left on these cold, dead rocks when their parent companies folded or their deposits of desirable ore ran out. Xiscapian law states that these stations and settlements are to be destroyed after they’re vacated, but the sheer number of them makes this generally unenforceable. Some of these places are taken over by pirates or occupied by squatters, but others have developed reputations that keep most people away. There are stories of distress signals from nowhere, blinking lights in abandoned platforms and small ships disappearing near such sites. While some captains will make use of the old mines as bases, others refuse to even go near them.

-“Back on Xiscapia we call them number stations. They're just radio signals broadcasting a string of numbers on repeat. No one knows who operates them, no one knows anything about them. Should've been no surprise that we found them deep in the black.

But whereas the Number Stations on Xiscapia are indecipherable, the ones past the orbits of stars and planets are logical. Cold, even. They say if you can figure out the math behind them, figure out what they mean, you can find the secrets of the universe. Events that came, events that have yet to come…

On the other hand, everyone says that if the stations were real, we would've avoided things like the Exiles, whereas others, the ones that live near the glow of EM dampening neutron stars, with their walls filled with chatter and numbers...oh, they say different.

They say to find the future through the voice of the universe is to invite death.
” –Captain Kurumaken of the AXIS Raposa

-A tool used to defend oneself, like a hammer used to cave in a pirate’s skull, is a friendly tool and considered lucky. These tools are never destroyed even after their usefulness has run its course, and most Xiscapian spacers who own one won't be parted from it. If such a tool breaks entirely a spacer might keep a fragment for good luck or be buried with its pieces.

-“Every world, every long-term station you go to will have its own unique varieties of hot sauce. Buy a crate, sell half at your next stop, and keep the rest in the galley so the crew have something to argue about.” –Captain Mitsune, AXIS Dimension

-In Xiscapian ship-naming norms is considered extremely bad luck to name a ship after one’s partner. In the same vein naming a ship a “high-and-mighty” name (e.g. Invincible) is considered to be tempting fate.

-Some more modern vessels use neural interface to control certain systems aboard ship, including sensors and communications. Due to the huge amount of information, some models make the interfaced spacer fall into a sort of trance, and certain people will babble nonsense caused by the mingling of system reports, memories and outright dreams. Some Xiscapian spacers hold phrases spoken in this state as oracles and prophecies.

-Every now and then, through gravitic disruption, collision or other spatial anomaly, a planet is ejected from its home system and thrown into the gulf of space. These planets freeze over and become known as orphan planets. It is considered enormously unlucky to cross the path of one of these cold lonely worlds as it hurtles through space, not only because their cold surfaces make them hard to detect by thermal imaging, making being struck by one a very real possibility, but because some Xiscapian spacers believe that it is an omen that will soon see them drifting alone through the void as well.

-Xiscapian psychologists consider the “eyes in the stars” phenomenon to be entirely mental, an unfortunate cross of our innate ability to sense patterns and the tendency for the instinctual danger cues hard-wired into the sapient brain. Xiscapian spacers who experience it will tell you that it is something more than that.

Unease when alone is not uncommon on long voyages; and most spacers will report occasionally feeling like they're being watched, especially when looking out into space itself. The “Eyes Phenomenon” is an extension of this, where sufferers will report getting the feeling that they or the ship in general is being watched from a particular direction at regular intervals, usually a specific point in the ship's day/night duty rotation.

Some variance between ships is noted, with some sufferers reporting that the feeling follows the ship and her crew no matter where they go and others, usually the chartered freighters plying the same route repeatedly, will report that the feeling occurs only at specific places along their voyage.

To date no detailed study has been made of the phenomenon, but the International Psychological Association is confident in their initial assessment, though there is some dissent from shipboard psychologists also serving on long-term crews who claim further investigation is required.

-Those Xiscapians that die in the inky black may, if they so choose, have their remains fired out of the ship at near light speed next time the ship is at full acceleration. This is referred to as being buried at C.

-Tales tell of a strange, unnamed star system where a quiet and continuous piano-piece can be heard if radiation in the ultrahigh wavelength range coming from the four stars is played through the speaker system. Some theorize that the interplay between the stars is the source of the radiation, and that it is simply one of the wonders of the universe. Xiscapian spacers report the sound as somber and a little sad.

-If two Xiscapian freighters are docked in port at the same time, it is considered traditional for the crew of each to endeavor to steal a wrench from the stores of the other ship. No one is sure why this is, but it never fails to piss off whoever is in charge of that ship’s engineering. In recent times this has spread to include the crew of military vessels as well.

-It is common for Xiscapian spacers to have tattoos, which are often personal and highly elaborate. Common themes include some sort of representation of the world, station or ship where the spacer was born, sections of star maps, lists of significant places where the spacer has made port and small weapons tattooed on the ankle, hip or forearm to show a commitment to self-defense. Spacers will often get tattoos at the beginning or end of particularly long or dangerous voyages. This means that more seasoned spacers are often covered in tattoos that show where they have been.

-The large amounts of downtime that most Xiscapian spacers have, particularly on long voyages, has led many of them to establish extensive rituals to induct new members of the crew. These never include passengers but are usually applied to any spacer, from engineers, pilots, security and cargo handlers all the way up to the senior staff and the captain themselves. While the exact form of the ritual varies from ship to ship, they commonly include the crew member being taken blindfolded from their cabin, covered in what is colloquially called “liquor amnii” (generally gear grease) and carried to the bridge accompanied by a variety of shanties. On the bridge the neophyte swears on a representation of the ship’s law to be loyal to the ship and her crew. They are then led back to their cabin at a crawl. This represents the “birth” of the new spacer and establishes trust between them and the rest of the crew, as well as providing general entertainment for the spacers in charge of the ritual.

-Most Xiscapian spacers recognize six “patron saints” of spacing. The Six Saints, as they are known, are figures who have risen in the years after the Kitsune Empire emerged from isolation and become legends for their traits, usually embodied in one incident or another. No organizing body elevated them, but rather these are broadly seen as admirable persons by most spacers so the possibility exists that others may be added. While spacers don’t pray to them in the traditional sense, it is not unusual for shrines to be built to one or more of the saints aboard ship, and they often swear “by the Six.” These spacers come from all walks of life and have different reasons for starfaring, but their unifying trait tends to be courage and good qualities of one kind of another.

Mitsune – The Bold – Matron of Colonists, Captains and Blowing Up Pirates

Captain Mitsune of the Hapkido light bulk freighter freighter AXIS Dimension was known for being headstrong and stubborn even in her days as an Imperial officer, and that continued into her career as a freighter captain after the end of the Korr Wars. Her first claim to fame was leading the expedition that built the first outpost on Vekis, which later became a Setulanite colony, forging a lasting friendship with the mercenary members of the Veteran’s Trust. Not long afterwards her ship was part of a Phenian convoy sent with escorts to set up a mining colony, and when the formation was attacked by pirates she helped chase off the raiders using mining lasers and drills to force them to retreat, saving the ships of the convoy. The spitfire captain’s reputation only grew when she stared down Vipran soldiers aboard the Makari Cathedral ship Hymns of Descent, including future lover Captain Tefe, which transformed itself into the first international incident between the Kitsune Empire and the Vipran Imperium. Though the incident itself ultimately resulted in nothing significant for the Empire, Mitsune was widely seen as spitting in the Imperium’s eye, and celebrated for it.

Her run of fortune came to an end when Solarian security forces illegally impounded her ship and imprisoned her crew. They used the Dimension to sneak into Xiscapian territory and kick off the short-lived Xiscapian-Cilistrian War, but Mitsune’s fate was rather more gruesome as Solarian doctors operated on her and her crew to harvest genetic material, including surgically removing her ovaries and effectively castrating her. Xiscapian intelligence traced the location of Mitsune and her crew and a combined Ascian-Ghost special forces team rescued them, but the Captain required reconstructive surgery in order to restore her reproductive organs and correct the dangerous health effects she experienced while in captivity. For her strength and courage she was officially recognized as a Hero of the Motherland by the Emperor, the highest civilian honor in the Empire. Since then Mitsune has continued to operate the Dimension as a tramp freighter and occasional privateer.

Sei Vydam – The Sureshot – Matron of Outcasts, Engineers and Reluctant Spacers

The only non-kitsune saint, Sei Vydam was for many years unrecognized. Starting out as a high school dropout working aboard the scrap hauler Yamaguchi, she gained experience as a spacer on several different ships until she saved up enough money to purchase her own ship, the secondhand Customs Archer class gunship that she named Thoughts on Paying Rent. With her own ship she did several different kinds of work, including scouting for pirates on behalf of the Imperial Navy, running guns to Berrax rebels and astrocartography, but she eventually fell into bounty hunting, with her first targets being Greali war criminals. When things got too hot for her to continue work she returned to the Kitsune Empire, where she “rescued” a young kitsune hacker named Enishi from the Syndicate, and not long afterwards her work took her on the hunt for a terrorist known as “Three” during which she met the Phale A'Theins of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. The proceeds from that buoyed her until she ran so low on cash that she took a job from an unknown individual that ended with her being captured by the resurgent clones of the lunatic Kash Wilson, and she was sent to the hell world of Charnel.

She escaped the planet with several other prisoners, including the future Empress of Necrisis Riliana, Nasrys the drake and the man who was to become Saint Terramo, only to fall into the clutches of the Pentastar Alignment aboard a research ship called the Spinor. Following cataclysmic events aboard the Star Destroyer she and Riliana were stranded until they were rescued by Enishi, resulting in the two females becoming lovers. This led to Sei becoming Court Executioner for a brief time in the Necrian capital when Riliana returned home, though the two eventually separated after the demands of her position overwhelmed the Necrian. Sei returned to bounty hunting until Enishi was contacted by elements of the Amazonian Republic for a special mission, which brought them into contact with the Huerdaen soldier Vii'Nogai. All three of them ended up boarding the Amazonian ship, but not long after launch its A.I. malfunctioned and the vessel was destroyed, badly injuring Sei and Vii and resulting in Enishi’s death.

Since then Sei has remained largely isolated from the rest of the galaxy, keeping in contact with only a handful of people and doing assorted jobs from her usual bounty hunting to standard piloting, mercenary work and others. Much of this has been in Huerdaen space, where she has been subsisting on the available contracts there alongside Vii’Nogai. Her elevation to the status of “sainthood” has largely been thanks to her fame in the Setulanite religion and her iconic status as the redeemer of Saint Terramo, which has ensured that she has a disproportionate number of shrines on Setulanite ships, especially religiously-oriented ones. In recent times she has returned to Xiscapian space to take part in the Exile War to fight the zealots and attempt to discover the fate of Terramo. Her outsider nature, skills in engineering and necessarily frugal lifestyle has earned Sei her titles as a saint.

KAST – The Audacious – Saints of Weapons Enthusiasts, Mercenaries and Happy Accidents

This acronym was made up by the Imperial Intelligence Department to refer to three individuals: KA-rtosh-Skyler-Tara (KAST). Kartosh and Skyler were well-known as a mercenary duo for various actions dating back to the Korr Wars, including recovering the prototype Black Raider for Kyat Drive Yards that later became the Star Snake, but they became truly famous at the end of the SASM War when they shut down the central Server and destroyed the menace for good. They were later joined by Tara after an operation to take down a crime lord named Jorga, during which they rescued the kidnapped vixen from the mobster’s stronghold. Together KAST, as they were then referred to, became a force to be reckoned with. This was first put to the test during the Danaversian War, when they embarked on a three-day orgy of destruction that ultimately resulted in the assassination of the Ferran President and threw the Federation into chaos.

Other notable things that KAST has done include clearing their names of murder when they were framed by the Alversian criminal Manta, assisting Kostemetsian special operations and fighting against rebels on behalf of the Humankind Abh. The trio commonly associate with the group called CHIK, which is another Imperial Intelligence acronym that stands for Chloe-Her-Idiot-and-Katie, referring to another Xiscapian, the Alversian Nathanial T. Barnes and the Xiscapian-made Artificial Intelligence Katie. In recent times Tara, Skyler and Chloe have cut back on mercenary work in favor of producing a multimedia pornographic franchise, which has been buoyed by the beauty and fame of the vixens. Despite this they are still available for hire, if generally at exorbitant rates. The legend of KAST lives on, and their wild, unpredictable methods, often succeeding by the skin of their teeth, guaranteed them a spot among the Six.

Atsushi – The Merciful – Patron of Merchants, Medics and Spacers in Love

Formerly a medical doctor, Captain Atsushi took to the stars to experience freedom aboard his Kaga class “heavy” bulk freighter, the Birth of Cool. He formed good relationships with a number of Alversian traders and captains, who knew him as a cheerful, fundamentally good-hearted individual during his frequent stops at Republic worlds. Between standard trading runs he also did “humanitarian” work, including discounted supply runs to far-flung outposts, transporting refugees and freed slaves during the Great Patriotic War and offering free towing service to stranded ships. In the midst of the war Atsushi established a traveling brothel aboard the Birth of Cool that served Coalition ships and ports across two galaxies, and continued after the conflict ended. This diversification, along with his good reputation, ensured that the merchant could continue operating even in the uncertain life of a tramp freighter.

Atsushi’s finest hour came when his vessel was contacted by an Xiscapian scout and arrived to assist in rescue operations to save what remained of the Rasthan people from the Rethast. At great personal risk the captain took thousands refugees aboard his ship, losing several of his crew in the process, but he was ultimately able to transport them safely away. His actions earned him commendations from the Xiscapian government, and later the nascent Rasthan one as well. As news of his selflessness spread the Birth of Cool found that it would be welcomed in many ports across two galaxies, and so Atsushi is known not for his use of violence or the number of pirates he’s killed, but for helping people. These are the reasons why ship’s doctors and space-faring prostitutes alike build shrines to him across Xiscapian space.

Kawachi – The Explorer – Patron of Lone Spacers, Clever Wanderers and Finders-Keepers

Lieutenant Kawachi was a young Ascian when he piloted his scout ship, the Gamma-13, through the Beta Quadrant in search of sites of interest. The kitsune enjoyed astrocartography and finding new and as-yet unseen celestial bodies, and he was on such a mission when he stumbled upon what seemed to have once been the capital of a long-dead empire. He claimed it in the name of the Empire, naming it after himself as is a common Xiscapian tradition, but he had only explored it for a short time before an Archian Confederate fleet appeared to contest the claim and began salvaging relics. When Kawachi protested he was ignored, so he turned his attention to the various derelict ships drifting around the system. With a little jury-rigging he managed to spoof a number of signals with codes he had found and, activating the centuries-old vessels, chased the Confederate fleet away.

The incident was the first in what became the 72-Hour War, but it ultimately resulted in an Xiscapian victory and significant expansion into the Beta Quadrant. Kawachi was hailed as a hero and promoted to Lieutenant Commander, instantly gaining prestige both within and outside of the military. After the war ended he continued to chart the space around his system, wandering the stars alone as was his way, until the beginning of the Exile War recalled him to Xiscapia. He was killed by an Exile assassin there, making him the only one of the Six to die thus far, but that only reinforced his status among spacers throughout the Kitsune Empire. His guile, tendency to travel through space alone and tenacity in defending what he’d found put him on the list of spacer’s saints.

Chikako – The Furtive – Matron of Smugglers, Pilots and No Good Hitchhiking Stowaways

No one is quite sure where the vixen called Chikako came from, but she first appeared in Imperial records as one of several arrested for a barroom brawl over a game of sabacc. It didn’t take long for connections between her and the Syndicate to appear, and that ultimately resulted in her being investigated by the authorities of half a dozen nations for smuggling, though she was never charged. At some point during her adventures she discovered the kitsune Kamenosuke stowing away on her ship, the Rebel Yell, but upon finding that he’d compulsively fixed several of her ailing subsystems she immediately took him on as a co-pilot and second, or so the story goes. Tracking the two is difficult as they change identifies and disguises many times, but what is known is that they ended up on Old Xiscapia during the Great Patriotic War, just in time for it to be captured by the Booleans. Chikako and Kamenosuke were arrested and imprisoned until rebels, coincidentally assisted by the Veteran’s Trust and CHIK, freed them among others.

After that the pair was a great asset to the war effort of the newly-made Xiscapian Freedom Corps, including using their skills as smugglers. When the planet was liberated they mysteriously vanished before they could be commended and/or arrested, but their faces and names were widely broadcast for propaganda efforts. After the war they showed up on Fudo, where they were involved in the gang war between local elements of the Syndicate and the Archian Tri-Star mob. Though they survived the experience, as two of the most famous smugglers their work is getting more and more difficult, resulting in the pair shifting operations further and further out into AXIS space. With fame putting her at odds with her own job the word is that she has been looking into other avenues of work. Despite this Chikako is still known as the Furtive, as even concerted efforts by law enforcement have failed to bring her in, and she is all but worshipped by fellow smugglers and would-be hotshot pilots.

-Ship’s law is an informal document found on many Xiscapian ships which codifies the binding rules of the ship in question as written and enforced by its captain. These include the duties and responsibilities of various parties, rules for conduct and specific operating procedure. It is a feature of merchant craft of all kinds, salvage vessels, explorers, small craft and almost every other kind of ship. Even single-person ships may have their own ship’s law, which usually governs the behavior of passengers. Military and strictly corporate vessels do not have ship’s law since they have their own regulations as set by their parent organization.

When it is first created ship’s law is always fixed to a specific vessel and is not usually considered transferable to another ship. While those aboard Xiscapian ships are expected to abide by Xiscapian laws, ship’s law covers areas particular to a given ship as established by its captain. Though the captain has ultimate authority in this area as with most things, the crew traditionally signs off on the document to indicate their consent and submission to it, and can refuse to sign if they do not agree with elements therein. This can be a point of contention between the captain and crew members, and most crew members will refuse to work aboard a ship which has a ship’s law that they object to. In these matters a captain may negotiate with a crew member on such a point if they are especially valued or have been with the ship for a long time.

Physically ship’s law takes many forms. Traditionally it is contained within a bound journal, but ship’s law has been shown holographically, written on stapled scrap paper, etched into the deck or on a bulkhead, encoded onto A.I. on those rare ships that have one or even tattooed onto the captain’s body. It is usually written in Common so everyone can understand it, but any language can be used. The ship’s law is usually kept on the bridge or in the cockpit, though on some ships the captain retains it in their office or cabin. If a ship’s law is lost or destroyed then replacing it is of high priority, and tampering with a ship’s law is considered a great offense.

While ship’s law varies widely there are several themes common to most sets. These include compensation to spacers injured or otherwise harmed in service to the ship, rules on the division of profit from salvage work, regulations related to shifts, meal times, shore leave and the like and matters such as dress code. The Spacer’s Code is often included in ship’s law, which provides several general obligations (never ignore a distress signal, always assist another ship if necessities are required, don’t dump waste in inhabited systems, etc). Ship’s law is usually taken very seriously, particularly on large freighters, though the captains of small vessels will often make theirs tongue-in-cheek. Ashlea Vanlith of the Wild Heart famously made her ship’s law a single piece of paper reading “Don’t be a dick.”
Last edited by Xiscapia on Sun Jan 04, 2015 7:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Xis quote of the week: Altaria Almighty: how are you not just a race of sexual predators? Like who needs power armour and gauss rifles when you have leather and whips. –Karaig
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Aphotic Anathema
Political Columnist
 
Posts: 2
Founded: Jan 15, 2015
Ex-Nation

Postby Aphotic Anathema » Sun Feb 15, 2015 5:59 pm

[ Mature ]

Ancient Temptations


The farmers are tired. The long days of little sleep, working in the constant sunshine as they try to finish the harvesting before nightfall. A quirk of fate sees the world exposed to the harsh star’s brightness until the long nihtfel comes, and the sun falls behind another world into darkness for three score of eye-closing. They need to get the last of the harvest in before that happens so it may be preserved, ready to sustain them all over the course of their enforced isolation so that they may go back to planting and harvesting in the next cycle and the next nihtfel. One hits down into the soil with her hoe, the dead sound of the blade digging through ground broken by a ringing noise. Mouth quirked in surprise, she digs the blade in again, meeting the harder material once more. “Jan. Jan, come here!” Jan is the oldest of them who still works the fields, and the sun’s darkened his skin to a colour like terracotta, and his frame is topped by a shock of silvered hair.

“What is it, Moira?” he asks, dropping to his haunches beside her. In wordless explanation she digs the blade down once more, seeing the look of surprise on Jan’s face as he hears it too. Without a word he summons another of the farmer’s over with a shovel, taking it off him and slowly digging away over the top of the blockage. Smoothed basalt, coated in the grime of mud glimmers back at them. Jan stretches his fingers towards it, gently stroking the surface before pulling back like he’s been bitten. Moira stares at him. “You alright, Jan?” She reaches out a hand to steady him, but he turns away to look up at the sky. Already the haze is allowing the shape of the other world to pass through. It won’t be long before it reaches its zenith, and as soon as that happens a snap-frost will fall. Jan turns back to her, pointing down at the ground. “We best be done with this now,” he says, shouting to the others “time to get indoors, people!”

He can’t stop himself. He doesn’t know why he’s doing it, all that matters is he is. Grabbing an overcoat and a shovel, he’s rushed back out into the darkness as the others stay inside, celebrating another successful harvest. It’s a cheer they sorely needed. All he can think of is the stone, and the scratching he’d seen on it. He wants to see what it says, though he knows he doesn’t understand it. It’s got into him, burning the need to dig deep and uncover the stone within his mind. He digs down and down, clearing away the mud over the top. The stone is huge, a circle planed smooth by tools that nobody in the settlement could possibly own. And it felt...old. He knew no records in the village about this. Nobody’s ever mentioned it in the old stories that the families pass on to each generation. The cold's leeching through the coat now, a rime of frost forming on the collar as his sweat drips onto it.

He won't stop. All he can do is dig away the mud. The scratching, he has to see it. Has to know what it is, what it means. It's going to kill him. But he has to know. The etching isn't a solitary example. Dozens run across the stone, harsh angles bisecting each other, circles running into others, overlapping and joining together, often at once. It hurts to look at it. It's not right. It's not real, his mind is telling him, but Jan's eyes are looking down on it and they see it, and the difference is hurting him now. He wants it to make sense, to settle it, to make the scratchings go away. As he cleans away the last scrapings of the mud, he collapses to his knees, his heart finally giving out. His hands reach out, fingertips stroking the stone like he stroked little 'lizbeth's hair when she was young. The stone...the stone is warm to the touch. How? By now his mind is railing at him, berating himself for being such an idiot. Why did he do it? The pain from his heart is flooding over his body, driving away the chill with spikes of pain that feel like someone's hammering them into his limbs. "Forgive me..." is the last thing he says.

Now he screams. The stone's not warm anymore. It hurts, as if a lightning bolt has thrust down from the sky upon him. Jan's mouth is open wide in a rictus grin, bloody teeth showing while he tries not to choke on the tongue he's bitten in two. The heart-death hurt like fire, but this pain is cold and dead, coursing through him. It's eating away at the last vestiges of life, leeching it all from him. The scratches are glistening in the dark, blood channelling along them. His fingertips are shredded, the stone's smooth surface suddenly rough with micro-fragments of rock, the glossy crimson leaking out over it all. Jan's dead now, but the stone...the stone is alive. The darkness is deep thanks to the eclipse, but the scratches are darker still now, and there's something moving upon it now. A momentary glimmer and now someone stands there. They are tall, shrouded in deep clothing as the stranger clutches a long staff to their body as if an old man in need of a walking stick.

The stranger smiles at the frozen body of Jan, glassy eyes staring up at the apparition from the stone. “Rest easy, child, for your work has been done, and your place in our ranks is assured.” Twitching, malformed arms, thick with corded sinews coated in grey skin reach out from the cluster of shadows behind him, and the stranger's face looks to the bright lights of the village. They smile. Such a chance only comes rarely for people of the stranger's ilk. A chance to make these people see the one true path, the righteous way of living. The stranger takes up the staff in their right hand, and begins to walk. Soon the sacred work will begin anew. As the stranger paces their way down the gentle slope, the shadows fall in behind.

Moira's looking around now. The celebration is nearly over, but Jan's not been there. She smiles absently at the Gwayler's, and strokes the side of her dress smooth as she compliment's Leira's own qiviut dress while Petyr looks for a place to set down the couple's drinks. The double doors leading from the hall to the outside are shut tight now that nihtfel has arrived, the farmers content to stay indoors with the furnaces burning to keep the entire village warm. A potent brew of fermented fruit sits on the side, half-empty thanks to the people gathered in the hall. They chat a moment, before the Gwayler's move to the cleared area serving as a dancefloor for the night. She glances back at the doors again, fancying that she can hear a buzzing sound from the other side. Impossible, of course. The doors are totally sealed, and there's two inches of stout ironash wood surrounding the metal plate that makes it up, a necessity for the main entrance into the village.

The door's shunted wide open as if someone's set off one of the big wellmaker charges the villagers use in the months of sunshine against it. People are running in panic, the warmth inside the hall leeching out as a cold stream billows in, the draft knocking her to her feet. As she pulls herself up besides the table she's landed next to, Moira can see the indentation on both parts, a wound crunched into the inches-thick wood. There's a man stood there in the gap, one hand grasping a rod taller than a trestle-table on its end. Smoke curls from one end, and there's a heat-haze rippling about it. Petyr Gwayler is up, stumbling towards the door, mouth open as he shouts at the intruder, and Moira realises that the only sound she can hear is a ringing in her ears. She can see the man standing there, looking at Petyr like Moira would judge a hog, and the staff jabs into Petyr's stomach. The scream is loud enough that it cuts through the ringing, and he falls to the ground clutching his arms to himself.

The stranger looks out across the hall now, eyes falling on Moira before continuing on their path. She can see Petyr writhing on the ground, and he turns over just far enough for her to see what's being done to him. There's a void where his stomach should be, the edge of a rib poking through the wound, his hands trembling as his eyes glaze over. The darkness behind the stranger twitches, and Moira realises there's...things, stood behind him, indefinable in the shadows. A single crooked finger extends from his hand, sweeping the hall, and his words are visible on his lips.

"Take them all."



She doesn't know how long it's been now, since the terrors waded through the hall. People died and people lived, and Moira was one of the latter. Whether she was more fortunate she wasn't sure. Sometimes there are screams, sometimes the sound of beatings, and sometimes he comes, the one who stole her and her people. He's here again now, an armoured guardsman holding the cell door open for him. With a wheeze of exertion, he crouches next to her, staring at her in silence. He speaks, a sibilant hiss framed in the quavering tone of an aged man, "Have no fear, child. You will know no harm at the hands of the true path, if only you will let me show you the glories of it. It is refreshing to see the ones with the potential of an open mind."

Moira whimpers, staring down at the floor. She doesn't want to look up at him, his face. The smile on his face is cruel, almost predatory. His hand reaches down, pulls on her hair and she's looking into his face now. "Know the glory that lies before you, child. Imagine the opportunities that within the grasp of your hands, if only you will reach for them!" The voice gets quieter as he speaks, "No more fear. No more powerlessness. No more not knowing where life will lead you." He lets go now, hand turning over as he presents it to her. "All you have to do to is take my hand," he says, "And you will join our ranks."

Moira stares at the ground forlornly. She knows nothing will bring back Jan, or the Gwaylers, or any of the few hundred people who'd lived in her village. Her voice croaks and breaks as she speaks after an age of silence, "Is it true?" She's looking up at him now, into those eyes, still shining with cruelty...or is it something else? "All of it...gone?"
He nods silently, a palsied hand trembling between them. She takes it, and the life of Moira is over.

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Hedron
Diplomat
 
Posts: 565
Founded: Mar 07, 2012
Ex-Nation

Unconscious Nightmare

Postby Hedron » Mon Feb 16, 2015 5:49 am

[ Mature ]

Unconscious Nightmare


His vision, pitch black, void filled and endless. His breath panicking. "Why?" His voice fills his mind, further questioning himself. "What's happening? Anyone there?" A scuffle of footsteps and an echoing laughter surrounds him momentarily. Then silence. "Anyone out there!?" Raising his voice, but not a single soul returned his request. "Where am I?! What am I doing here?!"

"Puny Human. Frail and weak." The voice of darkness shrouding the individual in his own state of unconsciousness. It echoes indefinitely filling the silent void that haunts the lone male figure.

"W-ho-..W-h-at..are you?" Stuttering finding it troubling to speak all of a sudden - it is as if something weighed deep into his throat weighing him down and his words. His physical strength draining from his own body. "Wh-at...W-hat...s...happening..." He attempts to take a step forward. A weak frail step echoing indefinitely. A small scuffle.

The maniacal laughter ensued till it made him deaf. Ringing in his ears. "Yes....That's right...." The voice says with a taste of hatred, "..One small step for man..." The voice says, enjoying the individual's pain.

The man is now gasping for air as if his lungs have been deprived of oxygen. He reaches into his shirt, but finds it troubling to rip it apart. He reaches for his neck in a desperate futile attempt to regain his only life source, oxygen. Its the Darkness - its consuming him. He falls to his knees and feels the cold empty floor - he continued crawling forward saving few gasps as he can, ultimately hearing the voice echoing inside his head ravaging his consciousness as if his brain itself had a life of its own. Tearing itself to pieces to grasp out of its jail cell - out of his own body - out of his own head.

"...And..." The voice finally says with ultimate satisfaction. Building up. Its reaching to its climax as the 'thing' finally says, "...One....Giant Leap" The voice building up in satisfaction. Pure evil and hatred cleansed the words and wrapped themselves around it in its stinging thorns, ".......For Mankind!" The voice speeds towards the individual's ears like a speeding bullet building up its frequency and power. It smashes down on top of him revealing itself. Its glowing white eyes and the disdain for humans as a whole overwhelmed the only human in his realm. At this point he was on the floor forcing himself to turn around to see face to face at the 'thing' that is stalking him in this dark world. Mocking him. Torturing him. Killing him.

"W-...-ah...-er..." His voice box crippled - his vision hazy. A overlay of red liquid fills his right eye. The 'thing' lays on top of him showing defiance and power. He felt powerless and weak as just the 'thing' says giving into the fact. Believing into its deceiving ruse. At a subconscious act his arms raised itself and forms a mere wall between the 'thing' and himself, a request of mercy. A request of peace.

The 'thing' raised its fists and smashes itself down onto the arms of the human attempting to crush him by force - to kill him by force. "LONG!" It beckons as its awesome destructive power connects onto the mere wall the human created for himself to shield him from fear, from this thing. The 'thing', it can feel it, yes. The crushing satisfaction of being powerful - the thirst to kill! It's overwhelming.

A flashback. Space. Stars. Asteroids. A shield? 'What do they mean?' He says mentally before his arms shattering in massive pain grasped his consciousness back into his living dream. Hell itself.

The 'thing' laughs maniacally as the human feels his arms, mere bones, cracking from the sheer power, but kept up a futile last resort defense. "LIVE!" It says continuing the slow torturous death as it repeats the procedure continuing to hear the bones cracking ever more so satisfyingly. Laughing ever more so demonically as if Satan himself manifested into a physical realm and overtook the physical formalities of this horrid beast of darkness. The glowing white eyes of hope - the false hope that us, humans, look up to.

"An arm?" He says to himself trying to piece these short lived memories, "Explosions. Debris. A Box? No, a console. Screens. Monster. Blood." He braces the incoming blow the 'thing' was going to violently attempt to breach his ever breaking defense. Turning his head all the way to the right he vividly seen his flashback do the same and he repeats the process back to the left and it responds as if he has done it himself. "THE!" Another striking impact on the defenseless human and his arms gave way. He is now defenseless and ripe for the taking. The 'thing' was now in blood lust as it laughs ever more so maniacally - its tongue slithering out of its open slits on its face. Licking its white untainted eyeballs. Enjoying the time to devour his victim cowering in fear and in pain. Yes. It's enjoying itself to the fullest.

Then he feels his arms weightless - no feeling and just slumps off to the sides of his body. He didn't twitch or even noticed his arms gave way. He's too focused on why his flashbacks are becoming ever more so vivid and real. A twitch of his left hand and he sees it. Its moving. "What is that?" He questions the object his left hand rests upon, "Wait! That's a joystick!" He exclaims mentally, but remains puzzled. "Wait, how do I know what that is? What's that - I can feel it. My feet. A pedal!" He pushes his right foot forward slightly and the pedal itself decompresses. He is ever more so close to solving to the state of where he is. He rolls his head to face the being eye to eye and this time he's wearing a helmet. Its cracked. Blood all over the right side. "Warning..." He reads, "Pilot...Escobar....Landice..." His eyes open wide - he squeezes his hands and feels the cold textured material. It squeezes and it remains the same across his entire body. Its his flight suit. "Its cold. I'm exposed to space." He says, "And that thing. Its in front of me. Its looking right at me."

The 'thing' leans down and breathes onto the pilot fogging the visor. Gasping the last of its word to complete its sentence it has been roaring out with rage, ".....Voooiiiddd....." It says expending all of its oxygen to complete its delicate structure. The wording. Coating it with its own taste of evil and darkness. Staring straight into the eyes of Escobar Landice, right through the cracked visor of his.

"Huh?" He says, "Whose there?" A voice echoes through his ears not of the 'thing' this time. It sounded more genuine. Human.

"...Pilot Two Seven Seven...-pond...-t of there...." The voice wave scatters itself through his helmet. He looks at the 'thing' and its frozen. Time itself stopped. "...Two...Seven...Void...-of there!"

He listens close and it begins to piece together, but as he does so he feels his body materializing back into his visions. Its as if his entire being is being sucked into another vessel. His soul. His mind. His consciousness. Its all piecing together as if something had violently shredded the thread that connected himself to reality and his imagination. Time begins to unravel slowly and things begin to animate once more. Opening his eyes he blinks one or two times before coming to into realization his nightmare itself is existing right outside his cockpit. Behind the monstrosity were debris of huge human-like machines - drifting in space. Explosions, massive ones, just off behind it before an asteroid splits itself open and the shock wave of the sound reached his ears, muffled. Then it sucks him back in once more confirming its transfer into reality...

"PILOT ESCOBAR! RETALIATE!" The voice commanded in his headset.

Subconsciously he squeezed the left joystick with his hand and jerked it to the right followed by the dancing movement of his feet - compressing and decompressing the pedals in a combination. In response a massive arm appeared in his line of sight. A fist. It connects itself to the torso of the 'thing' and it squealed as the blow shrugged it off his machine. He's gasping for air his visor blinkers red indicating auxiliary life support has been depleted. He only has minutes left.

"Deploy your saber Pilot Two Seven Seven! Your saber!" The voice says. Female. She sounds worried.

He nods at her command and with a couple squeezes of his index finger on the joystick, muscle memory and pure instinct, the machine's left arm came to view and it deployed a long cylindrical object that extended from its holster. A handle. Followed with the movement of his right hand onto its own joystick he swivels it around to find that the machine's right arm was torn off. It wasn't there it was completely gone with a couple of the circuits dancing around weightlessly in space. Then he sees the monster shaking itself off from the blow. It's coming to its senses and he's going to finish him off.

Then a monotonic voice answered inside his cockpit, the AI. "E j e c t i n g - S a b e r ."

A white puff of compressed air caused the cylindrical object to jettison from its stand and fly up weightlessly - he motions the machine to grab it with his left hand as it whirled around and as soon as he had it the handle itself activated a beam of purple sizzling hot energy. He himself can feel the stinging heat even when its a couple meters from his cockpit. He himself is still confused. How does he know how to do this? What is he piloting? What is he? What is his purpose? But one thing for sure - he needs to defend himself on even grounds this time.

"You..." He says finally - his helmet muffling his voice, "Have...no...power...over me..."

The monster positioned himself, crouching onto the surface of the asteroid and gazes his white blank glowing eyes at Escobar and responds, telepathically. "You have no idea human..." Then it launches from its platform with superhuman abilities. Accelerating through space and such ferocious speed towards the Pilot.

The AI spoke once more, "S e a l i n g - M o b i l e - S u i t ." And the image of the monster moving towards him disappears behind the plating of his cockpit. The door itself swiveled itself closed and the sound of a brief sizzling compressed air was audible. The image of his surroundings blinkers to life in front of him. He's surrounded by the vision of what his mobile suit sees and a large array of data neatly aligned to his left and right. He wonders. Why hasn't he heard of the female voice. It's been static for the past couple of minutes now. Seconds? He shakes his head and focuses on the main threat. That's the highest priority right now.

He decompresses both of the pedals in unison followed by the combination of his joysticks mainly the left. He sees the top portion of his suit's torso - in fact he is seeing it as if he's in space himself. It's drawing him in. He is the suit. The suit itself is human, yes. He is fully immersed with the machine and begins moving it as if its the extension of his own body and he's the soul within' its chest.

The monster, speeding towards the mobile suit, roars as its arms shape shifts into a long sharp spike - attempting to impale the pilot inside the chest, but to no avail it misses by a long shot as the purple beam blade changed its course by deflecting the threat aside before the monster itself feels one of its many legs cut loose from a counter attack. It yells, but its voice unheard through space, only Escobar himself can hear.

"How..does...it feel..." Escobar says mockingly, "Feels great...doesn't it?"

"Do not mock me with your words human! I am the void! Taste my wrath!" It screeches out loud in anger. In pain not of by physical form, but a puny creature he mocked is now mocking him. A disgraceful act of himself.

Escobar squeezes his pinky finger on both his joysticks and his mobile suit begins thrusting backwards in full speed. The AI responded in short manner once more, "A d j u s t i n g - T h r u s t ." He raises an eyebrow and then it clicks. He looks towards his left side displaying his mech and two limbs were coated in a bright red light, right arm and his right leg, both of them were dismembered, but he doesn't remember how or when. Raising his voice to speak clearly he says, "Power to optics!"

The AI responded as ordered, "A f f i r m - O p t i c s - O n l i n e ."

The head piece of his mobile suit glows to life. The visor gleams in an intimidating red glare as it powers on granting the pilot full optical advantage of his surroundings displaying multitude of information such as hostile contacts or friendlies - even weapons and ammunition. He scans what's in front of him as he evades small debris of metal and rocks. The backpack thrusters sputters adjusting the thrust to maintain balance to compensate for its missing leg. He finds something interesting off into the distance and the headpiece of the mobile suit zoomed in on it automatically as the pilot stares at it. He reads it out loud, "Assault...Car...bine..." Before he could read the rest a huge dark figure blackens the screen and he once more jerked in pure instinct. He sees the purple blade come into view as it sparks and sizzles as he's deflecting the unknown blow the monster attempts. Jams his joystick forward and a combination of pedal movements his mobile suit lands its feet onto its assailant and pushes off of it whilst thrusting away. It move closer towards the object he found keening his interests before debris around him started exploding in some form of dark explosions. It's shooting at him.

"Come fight me! Fight me! Prove to me you are stronger than me! Than the void!" It beckons, taunting him in pure hatred and frustration. "Coward! You humans! Fight me!" Raising its obstruct right arm-like cannon it gathered some sort of dark energy at the end of its barrel before being released towards its target. The mobile suit.

Something feels off and he just can't shake the feeling. Did he misheard it wrong? Did he hear beepings? "The monster it seems to know what I'm going to do next." He ponders, "The other mobile suits. What happened to them? How did the pilots die?" Off to the left he notices another mobile suit - right arm and leg gone and in its hand is a beam saber. It drifts motionless. Inanimate. Before he could think about it even more an explosion knocked him right back into the situation. It shook the entire mobile suit. "Close one." He says to himself and the AI itself agreeing, "A f f i r m ."

They closed in on the carbine and as they did it became more visual. It's a Beam assault carbine. It's for his mech. Just as he released the beam saber from his hands it explodes violently as one of the dark energy projectiles collided into it. Instinctively he ignored it and grabbed the handle of the carbine as his mobile suit turns around and aims it towards it assailant. The 'thing'.

"W e a p o n - C o n n e c t e d - T w e n t y - R o u n d s - S a v e - O n e - F o r - Y o u r s e l f ." The AI says this time a bit more strange than usual. The aiming reticule became visible upon the screen and shows with pin point accuracy of where the rounds would hit. With the squeeze of trigger on the left joystick the index finger of the mech folds onto the large trigger, housed inside the trigger guard. It responded by shooting off a stream of purple beam at his assailant which pierced a hole onto its chest and gone right through it. It roared in pain, but kept pursuing towards him. Even more so in rage. He kept squeezing and his weapon kept firing. The ammo count started dropping drastically as Escobar kept squeezing the trigger and the assailant is now right on top of him.

His suit shook violently and his headset started yelling out words. WARNING! WARNING! UNKNOWN OBJECT DETECTED! BREACH DETECTED! WARNING! WARNING! His screen in front of him started sizzling and soon static. He lost visual of what's happening, but what he does know is that its right in front of him and he flinches. The 'thing' clawed deep into the torso. The entire cockpit went from black to red dark glow. The sizzling of compressed hydraulic fluids screeched then bursts open towards space as it was ripped apart. He was now defenseless and once again, ironically, powerless against the monstrosity of the Void.

"I...got you...now...Human..." It gasps as dark fluids leaked out from its own body. The shots manage to disable the ability of the Void to regenerate its body construct.

Then Escobar remembers - Save one for yourself.

Whilst the monster was distracted he aims the carbine towards its head and with force he forces the head of the monster to enter his cockpit.

It groaned and asks in pure confusion - weak himself as he cannot break free. "Wagh! What..are you doing!"

Escobar leans forward - inches away from the eyes of the monster and stares into them. He smiles. "To break free from your grasp Voidling."

For the first time the Voidling stood shocked and awed. "This cannot be....He found out....This cannot be..." The Voidling now was shrieking and attempting to break free from the barrel in its head and at the same time trying to kill Escobar before it kills him and himself.

"I...Figured it out..." Escobar manages to gasp out in his dying breath. "...I'm Sorry...beautiful..."

The AI responded. "G o o d b y e - E s c o b a r ." She says. And the AI's voice changed suddenly and it sounded more genuine and human and added, "I love you." Causing him to drop a tear from his left eye.

His mech squeezes the trigger and the purple beam struck through the voidling and instantly he, himself, was vaporized. The mobile suit exploded violently ejecting debris everywhere. All the motionless mobile suits themselves exploded violently creating a ripple effect. Escobar himself was trapped in an eternal battle to free himself from his nightmare. Now he is at peace. The self created world of his imagination disappeared and soon so did his life. Peace at last.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The machine detecting the heartbeat of the patient soon went flat lined and within' seconds a flurry of Nurses and a Doctor breached into the room to revive the patient, but to no avail did the body become animated again. A woman who approached the room slowly in her full military uniform holding a bundle of flowers discovered that Escobar Landice is dead. The doctor double checked the pulse of the patient and shakes his head and looks at the woman then looks at the nurses. They all nodded slightly and left the room without a word and closed the door. She places the flowers calmly as she can onto the table and removes her flight cap, a Captain insignia was on slightly off to the right, placing it on the table next to the flowers.

"You promised..." She says, "You promised you'd come back to me..." A tear glazes the surface of her face - pristine and beautiful as Escobar said.

She leaned closed and hugged his now recent lifeless body. Held him tight and whispered, "I love you."
Last edited by Hedron on Tue Feb 17, 2015 4:17 pm, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
Rethan
Minister
 
Posts: 2138
Founded: Aug 09, 2006
Corporate Police State

Postby Rethan » Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:25 am

Colours, Beautiful and Malicious
Enlightenment is its own reward, its own punishment.
You begin to see so much more. And so much more sees you.

-Laird Barron


We live our life in a flurry of colour. Reds and greens and blues. The twinkling silver of starlight and the golden-purple dance of dawn. Crimson for blood and pink for passion. White for purity and black for despair. These are the colours we see, these are our colours. The beautiful colours. Though the myriad species and peoples of our worlds can behold each in their own way, they are still our colours to share and adore. A canine might never know the difference between green and red and yellow, the tribe in a remote desert might have no concept of azure or ultramarine and see only a single shade of blue but see a whole new range of greens my eyes will never experience. Our eyes and minds are different but the world of colours and lights we share is the same and lit by the same stars.

As these are the beautiful colours, so too are there the malicious colours. Lit by malign stars to light corpse worlds and dead moons. These are not our colours to see but they are colours nevertheless. Take care among these impossible hues, for though we might not perceive them we are not spared their world. We are not hidden from their lights.

Aegnîn - The Colour That Deceives
Worlds beneath aegnîn skies are drowned in lies. The truth cannot stand alone when lit by the Deceiving Colour. Aegnîn lights dissolve the shape of things and hide the world as it is behind a world of smoke and mirrors. Do not trust your eyes when aegnîn lights the way. That door is not a door, the way ahead is not a path. Your lover’s face is not her own.

Do not interact with things stained or coloured with aegnîn. They cannot ever be trusted.

All the sky is aegnîn, all the abyss a lie. It is only through the light of our own stars that we can even be. You will not see aegnîn when it meets your eyes, it will be seen by someone else in your skin. But what skin is yours?

Casrkam - The Colour That Excites
Casrkam is the colour of passion, beheld only by lover’s eyes. It is the colour of sex and ecstasy and drugs. We all of us emit it, though we cannot see it behind the protection of the beautiful lights. Of all the colours malicious, Casrkam is safe to wear and see. But do not dare be lit by Casrkam lights, for they will blind you to all but your base desires.

To bear witness to Casrkam is to see a hue of red and gold, but that is not the colour casrkam. The colour casrkam is the fire in your loins and the thundering of your heart and the sudden scent of lust and orgasm. It is arousal and desire and endless debauchery.

Minds lit beneath Casrkam’s glow are all the minds of rapists. Eyes blinded by its light see only flesh for the taking.

Histic - The Colour That Distracts
Histic is the colour of distraction and whispers, the colour of interest and the slightly imperfect. Your eyes will glide over histic but your mind will remember and demand you to look again. Then, perhaps, the next time you see it you will hear a whisper and look away. Then you will feel a sudden tug on your clothes, a tap on the shoulder. Histic will demand your attention but will not allow you to focus. The normal colours become elusive when lit by a histic light and you will find any reason not to look at them.

The simple becomes impossible, and the impossible becomes enticing when the world is illuminated in histic. You will never achieve anything when your world is histic, when your skin is histic or when histic stains the object of your focus.

And you will itch and itch and itch and always itch and forever itch and always itch….

Oblyrin - The Colour That...
Something should be written here, but I do not remember what. I do not remember anything. My notes, where are my notes!

Tirulance - The Colour That Survives
Tirulance. Mighty and defiant tirulance. Tirulance is the colour left when all other colours have fled. Tirulance can never shine a light of its own, but it will so eagerly absorb all others but one. Those that bear tirulance can never be toppled and never will break. The weight of tirulance is too great to bear for many, for this colour is hungry. Those that are stained in tirulance will die at its hand, but not before tirulance demands it.

Tirulance seems to eyes that see it as an endless impossible black. A hole. But that is the wrong colour. The colour tirulance is the sudden realisation of your own mortality - whether such a thing is true or not - and that you are breakable. It is the colour of the deepest abyss and the knowledge that it cannot be escaped, nor the bottom ever reached. To perceive true tirulance is to understand you are nothing.

Flee from those who wear it. Do not ever look back. Those made of it cannot be denied, and it is better to die by your own hand than by theirs.

Vyre - The Colour That Eats
Do not look at things with vyre hue. Do not allow its light to touch you. The stars are all vyre and vyre is the stars. The colour of desolation and abject subjugation. Worlds lit by Vyre stars are corpse worlds.

Run and do not stop. Perhaps you will find shelter behind a cloak of tirulance but even the colour that survives will not. The stars are vyre, the worlds are vyre, their eyes are vyre. The stars are vyre, the worlds are vyre, their eyes are vyre.

Vyre is their eyes.
Last edited by Rethan on Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.
As Was Devoured Shall Devour | As Was Buried Shall Bury

User avatar
Kyrusia
Senior Game Moderator
 
Posts: 9151
Founded: Nov 12, 2007
Capitalizt

Postby Kyrusia » Sun Mar 08, 2015 11:55 pm

Smoke on the Horizon
Cruelty is beauty hidden beneath a veil of glass.
[ Future Technology ][ Mature ]

"Wars don't ennoble men, it turns them into dogs, poisons the soul." — Private Witt, The Thin Red Line

They were there - in the distance; she knew it just as well as she knew the ground beneath her feet was solid concrete nearly forty centimeters thick, ribbed by iron taken root ages ago, giving way to open air and the long drop to go. She could feel the heat against her bare bones, and her nostrils flared at the pungency of the smoke's presence. Even so, they were there - in the distance, where the shimmering, glass sky drew close and the only cries of children were the barking orders of infants made infantry. Yet, still, they were there - getting closer, always closer, always marching; they were toy drummers ringed in tin armor and wound-up like clockwork drones to the springs of hatred and the prejudice-in-disguise that was patriotism dead at birth. They beat their drums and spewed their vitriol; to her, it sounded like artillery fire: the staccato chant of the little drummer boy, the numbing (the killing) pain of "ra-ta-ta-tat."

Except the ground beneath her feet was not the blasted gray-black of man-made stone, it was scorched grass and moss given man-made life. It hurt, and her flesh ached at its touch: alien and malign, like the wrongness of a sudden start in the beating of a dying heart. Yet, they were still there - in the distance, but closer now. They moved in the same way she never did, like a body in sludge, moving and churning - churning the earth to dust in the grinding teeth of monsters driven by monstrous men. A child ran across her feet and in its eyes she saw decay; it was carrying a hammer - a hammer for the coffin's nails - except it wasn't a hammer, it was a rail-driver, a sub-pump, a linear motor, an engine fueled by death in its endless drive to consume life. It pointed it at her, and for a moment, she begged for that engine to kick-start, to sputter to life, to fill her ears with the chant of the drummer boy ("Ra-ta-ta-tat!"); she saw it for what it was, neither blue nor pink, but black and mottled, like rot. She screamed for it to squeeze, to pull, to fire that dragon of steel and lead, but it simply fell, because it was a corpse in cut-offs and sneakers.

She was a bird now, she knew: a mechanical bird with eyes like bullet wounds and wings that never flapped. There was no air, only the churning blue light and the lamp of a directed bolt. Even so, she knew they were there - ever closer, pumping through the grime and the filth and the detritus of the world they loved to loathe in lust. She looked below; she looked and saw the cribs that lined the streets. They were blue and pink and mottled black rotting beneath chicken-wire grates that gave meager support to facades of national unity and pride. They were stuffed with meat; malformed meat, meat with eyes, meat with hammers pounding out the drummer boy's tune of "ra-ta-ta-tat." She saw then and knew that some were squares and some were circles; the squares hated the circles and the circles hated the squares, and they never ceased to drive their hammers at one another, each fall another nail - another nail in a crib, another nail in a coffin. Yet, she was a bird; she was a bird whose eggs were made to shatter and whose song was fire across the sky.

Grit dug at her knees and smoke filled her lungs; she felt the weight of an I-beam press upon her spine and knew she was in a department store - the mannequins were screaming and running, running for the doors with their flaming blouses and hand-bags and tongue-topped sneakers and hats and coats - all on sale for the closing day festivities. They were there, she knew, but she could only barely hear them, but she knew they were still closer. There was a man whose voice called out, "Bitch," in an accent that spoke of the dying; she watched as he tore one of the mannequins off the racks, pressed the barrel of his hammer to its lips, and made it plead for a nail to touch its tongue like the charge of a battery. It begged, it pleaded, but the man only smiled and tossed it back on the rack. She could smell the smoke then - the sickly sweet saccharine of pork fat grilling over an open flame - and she thought when she last ate. Even so, the man went on and pounded-out the rising crescendo of the drummer boy's melody, all "ra-ta-ta-tat" and as sweet as another crib of meat with eyes.

Cold. Cold water. Fresh water lapped at her ankles and she could no longer feel the weight of retail; they were still there, of course, and their drumming was getting louder. Yet, none of that mattered; the birds dropped their eggs and sang their songs, the drummer boys let out their drone, and the hammers fell one after another to drive nail after nail into cribs of steel and ground chuck. None of it mattered. She looked down and saw, then, that the water was red - red and thick. She didn't understand, and her body gave way in confusion in a splash. Eyes and teeth and hair and little tongue-topped sneakers and hand-bags; the water was retail and turn tail and a macabre tale. She saw then the boy, his hands still gripping a polyester bear; she saw then the girl whose hair was brown and crusted in bows of scarlet and pink; she saw then the man and the woman and the piles that stood like Abraham's folly to a god that had never intervened. She could not scream, though her voice echoed like silence drowned by the men on the sea's edge; she turned and saw them then. They had hammers, and to the faces and backs and chests and guts of man, woman, child, drove in nails to the little drummer boy's "ra-ta-ta-tat."

Ceaseless. Endless. Droning on-and-on, the "ra-ta-ta-tat": ra-ta-ta-tat, ra-ta-ta-tawt, ra-ta-ta-tomb.

She felt the heat beneath her feet and smelled the smoke of her flesh baking to the massive hammer's shaft. It drove nails farther than the others, and she knew they were here. She watched, listened, as the little drummer boy's staccato sent spikes and nails and screws, except they weren't: they were munitions, missiles, rockets, and streaming sizzler-sticks of incendiary carne vale - a true farewell to meat. They sent their nails and screws and spikes and bolts into the cribs of them made coffins bright and dazzling; meat with eyes and eyes without meat and meat without eyes hung like holiday runners over every guardrail and shopfront and parking meter and lamp light. She felt it on her legs and caked in her hair; she felt a lover, a brother, a sister, a friend so close, yet so far: little bits of meat dancing to the melody of the drummer boy's "ra-ta-ta-tat." She saw them now, not for how they are, but how they were: a boy and his mother, a girl and her father, a lover held hand-in-hand with another. She cried and she wept and she screamed and cursed and let rage fly to the hammers and their drummers. She couldn't see, she couldn't feel - numbness and the (killing) pain.

In one hand she held a hammer - falling to the tune of "ra-ta-ta-tat" - and in the other she held her father's hand.

The sky shattered, its glass a beautiful dazzle of slivers alive with light. They fell like the rain on the hammers and on the drummers ("Ra-ta-ta-tat!") and on the meat and eyes; she begged the sky to erase the pain, to erase the numbness, to erase the killing. She threw aside her hammer that was not a hammer and fell to her knees and begged and pleaded like a mannequin; she begged for waves of light and waves of glass to veil the cruelty, to ablate the beauty of her cause - of the drummer boy's cause. She prayed.

She prayed until the light consumed her...

Siara aburptly jerked awake in the stillness of the desert night; immediately, her eyes began to adjust to the twilight of dawn, its light streaming in through her windows in streamers of yellow and orange-red. She could hear the shouting of the bazaar and the beating of the seller-stall doors. Slowly, she adjusted herself, sitting upright beneath the pillowed down of her hand-me-down comforter, prying the chiffon gown free from the beaded skin of her bosom. Her own hands touched her flesh cold with their fright and rush, and she steadied herself as she turned, planting her feet against the chilled, culfyrstone floor of her small, modest quarters. Somewhere in the palace, her master still slumbered, and she wondered the time. Rising, she stepped to the opening portal of her window, leaning forward, out into the open air of the City on the Rock.

'Be good, child,' her father's voice told her as she saw that city, that landscape of brown and gold and muddied reds that stretched endlessly into the morning. 'Be good, child,' it said as a tear broke-out across her cheek; she felt its warmth and raised a hand to wipe it away, but she couldn't, for memory is a tricky thing and it works in mysterious ways.

"Goodchild," she said. "Goodchild," and the tears fell from her eyes once more, like so many slivers of glass alive with the morning light.
Last edited by Kyrusia on Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:53 am, edited 2 times in total.
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"Kyrusia. Brooding, irrepressible, immeasurable." — The United Dominion

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Azura
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 147
Founded: Oct 25, 2011
Ex-Nation

Postby Azura » Wed Mar 18, 2015 2:54 pm

LONGECLASIS
GENESISOFTHESIDUSCLASSEFARSTARFLEET



"We were born of dust, but we shall die amongst the stars."
Admiral Elias Wellington, CinC-Caelus




The Sidusclasse Proving Grounds at Meridiem Montus
Caelus, Calixtas Star System, Gamma Quadrant — 1st Aestiva, 5th Aetas 001

In an almost-twenty year career in the Sidusclasse filled with every type of duty imaginable, this was a brand new experience. Captain Michael Burgoyne was no stranger to the concept of classified intelligence, but his summoning under heavy guard to the Proving Grounds at the Sidusclasse facility at Meridiem Montus was disquieting all the same. His patrol of the Akira Spur beyond the purview of Portus Altus had been relatively uneventful prior to the emergency action notification requesting his presence back on Caelus. That in and of itself would not have been out of the ordinary were it not for the order to brevet his commanding officer to the rank of acting Captain. His seven-year tenure in command of the corvette Carbasus had been distinguished as an exemplary term of service. Yet the available facts supported only one conclusion: he'd been removed from the bridge.

Sitting on the cushioned bench in the side of a shuttle whose front visors were tinted to obscure the view out of them, Michael began reassessing his career for the fortieth time since returning to the home system, trying to comprehend what it was that he could have done to cause his superiors to lose faith in his tactical abilities. The ostensible reason for his visit, or so he was told, was to personally help inspect a new external shield prototype for usage on the fleet's corvettes. And while that much resonated within him—he had been the lead chair on an ad hoc committee two years prior discussing the very matter—it still did not assuage his concerns over handing over command of the Carbasus. There were few appointments in the fleet that could rival a corvette. As it stood, he was among the younger of the commanding officers in the fleet. It made no sense to be relieved so soon...

Perhaps this isn't a demotion to a desk job. Maybe they want to reassign me to another sector?

Whatever slim modicum of hope had flashed in his mind, it was quickly dashed upon the sound of the rear hatchway sliding open. Burgoyne instinctively rose... and was surprised to see a pair of familiar faces approach. The tall man was an acquaintance from his days at the flight school at Arda Point, John Winstringham. He had spent several years as the adjutant commander of the Vigilia, an orbiter if Michael remembered correctly before he was breveted to command after the ship's captain was killed. He didn't know much about John's career beyond that, but Michael remembered his performance at the academy well enough: he was something of a maverick, a space cowboy as it were, but he was damn good in charge of a warship. He looked a bit older than the last time the two had seen each other at the academy; his hair was prematurely gray from his time in command...

But she looks just the same!

Entering ahead of Winstringham was a former comrade of his, Mariel Strachleigh. The two had been much closer than he and John had; they'd forged an almost sibling-like bond of friendship at Adra Point, and had been assigned to the same ship upon graduation. He'd lost touch with her after his assignment to the Carbasus, and had long-harbored guilt over losing touch with his friend. But now, through some measure of providence, here she was again, in the flesh. Her long, auburn hair still hung loosely over the same youthful complexion that she'd possessed in the academy. It looked as though she'd stepped out of time from the days of their relative youth—sweet, sweet innocence—and had reappeared in the shuttle, all these years later. Like Winstringham, she too bore the rank insignia of Captain; perhaps she had gotten a ship of her own after all.

It's what she'd always wanted...

Michael smiled warmly, moving to embrace his long-lost friend. "By the ethereal host, my sister-in-crime! God, it's so good to see you again Mariel, I can't even begin to fathom how long it's been."

"Almost a decade, Mikey," Mariel replied, wrapping her arms around Michael affectionately. "It's so good to see you, too! I hadn't heard anything about your appointment to the Carbasus—is that where you came from?"

"Aye, the one and the only," Burgoyne replied, stepping back. "What about you? Are you still serving in the fleet?"

"I've been working in Caedis," she replied bluntly, "But I spent six years commanding the Accipiter before that."

"That's wonderful, Mariel" John said in earnest, then almost guiltily smiling apologetically towards Captain Winstringham, extending his hand out. "John, it's a pleasure to see you again, too; it's been quite a long time."

"We're a Hell of a long way from the academy, that's the damn truth," Winstringham responded chidingly. "What are you guys doing here, though? Are you here to observer the new engine prototypes on the Ardix Class frigates?"

Mariel cocked her head at John's admission. "I was ordered here to observe a prototype computer relay interface."

"—And I was brought here to look at a fucking shield," Burgoyne remarked sarcastically, trying to resist the urge to slap his forehead. "So it would seem that we're either here, at random, for three very unusual purposes, or we've been the victim of some misinformation."

"Ha, that's rich!" Winstringham exclaimed with a laugh. "I think someone's trying to fuck with us."

"That would be me, Captain."

The three of them instinctively spun on their heels, coming to attention at the sound of the inflection that could only come from a superior officer. Burgoyne straightened carefully, observing as a decorated-looking Admiral entered the shuttle under escort. He moved forward with the gait of a man of some import, considering his second was wearing the insignia of a provost marshal. Though Michael wasn't immediately familiar with the Admiral, the name on his tag—Ashe—resonated profoundly. He was a legendary commander during the raid on Virus Stega that had finally cleared the home system of the Sar'Rithril infestation remaining from the war. He'd been promoted to head of Tactical Analysis on Caelus, and was something of a folk hero amongst the enlisted men in the fleet, considering the Admiral's own alleged entry as an enlisted NCO.

As the shuttle door closed—and sealed—behind him, the Admiral carefully stepped past the three towards the front of the shuttle, a wrinkled hand gently tapping on the communication relay. "MPB Station Chief, this is Admiral Alexander Ashe. Begin launch sequence on Shuttle Epsilon immediately."

"We shall comply, sir," the person on the other end relayed. A few moments later, the shuttle's engines fired automatically, and the sensation of movement could be felt. The tinted visors actually made things a bit disorienting.

"As you were, please," the Admiral offered, turning back to face them, prompting them to relax their posture. "I know that you all must be tired; you've all come a long way to be here. And I know that the pretenses under which you were ordered here were a bit vague, if not outright fictions. Allow me to apologize on behalf of your superiors; secrecy, I'm afraid, was a necessity in this case, and it could not have been helped."

"Sir?" Winstringham offered quizzically. "I'm not sure I follow you here..."

Instead of answering direct, the Admiral turned towards the control panel of the shuttle as it was being automatically piloted from some external source. With the pressing of a relay, the visor tint faded from the shuttle windows. Burgoyne looked out towards the starboard side... and felt a lump rise up in his throat. The alcove their shuttle had been an exit from the main landing hangar into a wide, open expanse filled with conning towers and magnetic crane lifts; a shipyard unlike any he had ever seen. The shuttle banked slightly, revealing a trio of ships moored ahead of them almost a kilometer away. The design was completely foreign to him; they were sleek and monstrous, bigger by far than any other ship in the Sidusclasse fleet. The ships were so large, they required gravity wells to maintain their mooring; Michael had never seen a gravity well, much less a ship that needed one.

"That," the Admiral said casually, pointing in the direction of the three large warships, "is why you are here. Your new commands, if you will accept them. Captain Strachleigh, the Nemoris on the far left; Captain Burgoyne, the Tenebris on the right, and Captain Winstringham, the Umbra in the far well."

"I've never seen a ship that large before," Mariel spoke incredulously. "What are they?"

"The new Eversor Class Battlecruisers," Admiral Ashe said reverently. "750 meters long, 250 meters wide and 100 meters tall. She weighs 3.3 million tons and has a cargo capacity of almost 60,000 metric tons. With a compliment of 900 crew and emergency boarding for up to 3,500 military personnel, these ships are the largest, fastest and most durable warships the Sidusclasse—or the Primareliqua—has ever built."

Strachleigh was the first to swallow, motioning towards the port nacelle most directly visible from their vantage point. "Those engine mounts are at least three times as large as the traditional SPL cores. They're new, aren't they?"

"Your intuition serves you well, Captain," the Admiral offered. "You are looking at a new prototype engine, the Reviers Gravitic Propulsion Drive, or RGPD: a superluminal system of propulsion that utilizes quasons, ionized particles of energy that briefly result from the detonation of a neutronic explosive. These quasons create localized gravitic distortions, allowing for a ship to accelerate beyond the physical constant 'c' and obtain superluminal velocity of travel."

Winstringham stared wide-eyed at the ships berthed in dry dock. "You used the technological principles behind our old ion cannons to create a superluminal engine plant?"

"Ingenious, isn't it?" The Admiral answered him, drunk on pride. "The forward insets on either nacelle are modified particle cannons. When connected to the navigational computer and internal power matrices, they fire neutronic pulses ahead of the craft, creating the distortions that allow for superluminal acceleration. The SPL engines themselves use the same basic power plant for energy, though it required a redesign of the ships' primary and auxiliary power supplies."

Burgoyne's interest was piqued. "What did the designers use to replace the fusion cores?"

The Admiral turned to him directly. "Your ships possess a new prototype that was created in our labs at Caiphas Station, the Nels-Talmage Power Plant. It uses an artificially-created compound, liquid phosphoragen that is encased in a metallic sirodil and tungsten core. An injector unit introduces a gaseous compound called oxyril chromite into the phosphoragen, creating a chemical reaction that release enormous quantities of heat energy. The ships use that energy to power the ship's main systems, including your impulse propulsion thrusters and your main weapons suites."

Mariel was fixated on the large sensor array below the core deck of the nearest vessel. "Is that a deflector dish?"

"It's the basis for your auxiliary power system," Ashe said enthusiastically. "That, Captain, is a photovoltaic sensor array; it absorbs energy from a nearby star and stores it in a series of internal batteries located behind the main array-proper. They can be integrated into your power matrices to provide battery power to your main systems in the event of a main system failure for up to ninety-six hours uninterrupted. They can't power the SPL plant, and connecting them to your weapons relay will lessen the battery life. Still, it is a vast improvement over the former lithium cells."

Captain Winstringham ran his fingers through his hair, deep in thought. "I hope they improved on the defensive suites."

The Admiral nodded affirmatively. "Indeed; we've upgraded the traditional plate armor with a brand new hypervelocity impact shield called a Chamburleyn Screen. Using ablative armor and specialized gel paks beneath, the shield creates a special buffer for the hull itself, increasing the area that the energy of a projectile or directed energy weapon is released over, effectively 'dampening' the blow to the hull itself. Of course, your Screens also have the practical application of a deflective agent, protecting against damage caused from impacting space debris that would be encountered."

"I can respect the principle behind the design," Strachleigh responded, carefully studying the ship from afar, "but it would seem as though any sort of significant fire fight or protracted battle would ultimately wear the impact shield out in short order."

Ashe shook his head. "You would be correct, Captain; that's why we created F/EDS."

"F/EDS, sir?" Burgoyne inquired, arching an eyebrow.

"Fractional/Energy Differential Shielding," the Admiral responded nonchalantly. "Thanks in no small measure to the same basic principles that power your SPL engine plant, the Eversor Class battlecruisers possess the ability to localize gravitic distortions at specific vectors in space, creating distortion fields that help to dissipate the kinetic energy of projectile weapons and further distort energy waves directed at your ship. When activated, ships will have the capability of localizing fields at specific vector coordinates, freeing your weapons' suites from any possible distortion."

Winstringham leaned forward against the glass, examining the underbelly of the ship. "A targeting system for a gravitic distortion shield? Not exactly your run-of-the-mill accessory for a warship, sir."

"It sounds too good to be true," Burgoyne added, to which the Admiral sighed.

"It's not a perfect system. F/EDS does permit the commanding officer to prioritize the defense of the ship in combat conditions. Unfortunately, the system's effective range is limited to within twenty kilometers of the vessel at the present time. Moreover, the system requires the diverting of energy resources from your SPL engine plant to operate, limiting your strategic options for retreat in the event you are outmatched and overwhelmed."

"Still," Strachleigh added, "it is an incredible advancement from the old fleet."

"We have high hopes for the system," the Admiral replied more positively. "Of course, there are the usual accoutrements you may recognize from earlier designs: three-quarters meter-thick deck plating on the hull, strengthened structural frames using tungsten alloys and reinforced bulkhead doors that can hermetically seal via computer sensor in the event of a catastrophic hull breach. These battlecruisers aren't impervious to damage, but they're stout. They're designed to endure heavy attrition."

John could barely contain himself. "God, they're sexy."

Winstringham's off-color quip riled Admiral Ashe, whose complexion reddened slightly. "A lot of good men and women died to bring us the intelligence necessary to make this technology possible, Captain. We're counting on you three not to fuck it all up."

"Yes, sir, of course," John answered solemnly. "Apologies, Admiral."

Seizing an opportunity to capitalize on the moment, Captain Strachleigh pounced. "What are her capabilities in battle, Admiral?"

Ashe pointed towards the ship with an open palm. "The primary weapons suite has been replaced. Your ion cannons have been reduced to a tertiary suite, and have been upgraded as the Mk. II Yeager Neutral Particle Beam Cannon which ionizes hydrogen gas, creating an intense beam of kinetic energy that weakens the target at the atomic and subatomic level. Each ship has twenty-five cannon ports, all operating off the main power matrices provided by the Nels-Talmage Plant."

"Our tertiary suite?" Winstringham said quietly, attempting to regain face. "What suites have replaced them?"

"Our engineers have perfected the prototype torpedo bays from the Pugna Class-frigates, and have created missile pods for the new battlecruisers. Ten banks, each capable of firing a variety of ordinance types: conventional, electromagnetic, nuclear. We've also installed an auxiliary weapons suite, the Gravitic Distortion Torpedoes, more appropriately known as the LC/WSM-75 Tobin Drones: semi-guided drones, armed at a range of 250 kilometers. They seek out any vehicle larger than your battlecruiser and detonate a gravitic distortion charge. You do not want to see the carnage they can inflict."

"I could imagine, sir," Burgoyne replied glibly. "But if they're our auxiliary suite, what is our primary weapon?"

"—Oh, my..." Mariel interjected, moving forward as if to try and get a better look at the ship as the shuttle began to come up about the near-ship's bow. "I recognize the design of that gun. They're no longer on the drawing board, I take it?"

"That's affirm," Admiral Ashe stated unequivocally, pointing at the ship again. "Your primary weapon suite is the LC/WSG-111 Auchinleck Kinetic Cannon. The ships have five cannon mounts, each protected with reinforced tungsten plating. They fire conventional relativistic kill vehicles and nuclear-tipped shells, providing a versatile offensive and defensive weapon. The AKCs are the most powerful weapons suite in our arsenal, specifically designed for strategic use in battle."

"You could put a new crater on the surface of a planet with those guns," Burgoyne said grimly, turning to face the Admiral. "Sir, what exactly are we expected to face out in the reach? How did R&D develop these systems?"

Ashe turned to face all three captains, his expression deadly serious. "The 'why' behind these ships is classified for the time being. But the day is going to come when you three will be briefed on the particulars. For now, be content in the knowledge that your primary focus over the next three months will be to prepare your ships for their trials, to familiarize yourself with them inside and out, and to appoint key personnel to your new crews."

The looks on their three faces must have prompted a deeper emotional response within Admiral Ashe. He nodded apologetically, as if to admit some hitherto-unspoken truth. "I know that this might seem overwhelming, daunting even. But I chose you three for a reason: you are innovative, battle-tested, and damn-fine commanding officers. Believe me when I say this: no one would look down upon you if you turned down this assignment. But I know in my heart that I have made the correct choice. If you are willing to step out on faith, I promise all things will soon be made clear. The choice is yours, and yours alone."

There was a long, interminable silence that followed the Admiral's offer; punctuated only by the sounds in their peripheral beyond the shuttle as it approached the main MLP for the nearest of the three ships. Burgoyne placed his hand on the glass as the vast print script on the side of the ship became visible—Tenebris, his ship—in a vain attempt to reach out and try to touch the consciousness of the ship. No matter the logical reality, every ship had a spiritual connection to its Captain; an almost-otherworldly bond that defied scientific knowledge. Standing there, looking at the machine, the warship of the future, Burgoyne could feel a kindred connection to Tenebris. It was a deeply powerful, moving emotional experience that resonated to his very core. Every fiber of his being was attaching itself to the ship; it's physical presence, even the idea of its existence.

Michael shot a look at his companions, at the careful gaze shown by Mariel Strachleigh and the awe-struck wonder of John Winstringham, and was purposed in his heart. Whatever their answers would be, he knew that nothing else in his professional career could matter more than this moment. He had been gifted the opportunity of a lifetime, of three lifetimes. And though he treasured his place on the bridge of the Carbasus, the Tenebris was prepared to go where none of his people had ever-yet dared to venture. The idea of blazing a trail amongst the stars, serving at the helm of the Pathfinder that would open the Primareliqua to the true wonders of the celestial host? It was intoxicating; a truly addictive experience that had hooked him by spirit and sinew, and would never fully turn him loose. His heart wanted it, and his mind rationalized it. There was no other choice.

After a long pause, he finally broke the silence. "I'm here to serve, Admiral. And I won't disappoint."

"As am I, sir," Strachleigh replied in kind, prompting a nod of agreement from John.

"We all accept, Admiral."

Burgoyne shot a reassuring nod to his comrades. Admiral Ashe smiled resolutely: "Welcome to Longeclasis, Captains..."
TARRAGONIAVIEJAPORSIENPRE!
THEGRANDREPUBLICOFTARRAGONIA

The Right Honorable David Luis Salazar, President of Tarragonia

Capital City:Cala Seca, Distrito de AleixarDemonym:TarragonianPopulation:320 Million

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Rethan
Minister
 
Posts: 2138
Founded: Aug 09, 2006
Corporate Police State

Postby Rethan » Thu Mar 26, 2015 5:54 pm

Author's Note: Sometimes images cling and refuse to let go until you've done something with them. This is abominably short and doesn't make much sense so I apologise in advance. I don't know where it came from, and I find I cannot put it back.
A Curious Stranger By A Curious Sea

The sea is dark and still, black glass over water the colour of rot. Perhaps, you think to yourself, I shall go for a swim. The surface will not break, your feet leave only foul imprints on the glass. Another time, then.
"You should not try to swim. The sea does not take kindly to intrusion."
A curious stranger is at your shoulder. What remarkably emerald eyes he has. No, not emerald, but you cannot place the colour. Perhaps it is blue instead. His cloak is the colour of faded memory and stitched in the hue of once-upon-stars.
"Look, now. You have dirtied the sea. What a most terrible shame."
The gentleman nodes politely. He winks at you, then turns to leave. You move to touch him but your reach is short. How peculiar, he is already a hundred metres away. A curious stranger indeed. Your turn back to the sea of glass and foetid green. The silence is broken only by the whispered laughter of the waves. The sea remembers your touch and you cannot scrub its surface clean.
"Your waking is long overdue, my delectable friend," whispers the sea.
In the morning, when you wake and dress and journey on the train, you glance out the window as you pass through a station. A curious stranger winks at you, and you cannot place the colour of his eyes. There is water in your mouth, it is a most foetid green but it tastes quite delicious.

Nobody can understand why you are drowning.
Last edited by Rethan on Thu Mar 26, 2015 5:55 pm, edited 3 times in total.
As Was Devoured Shall Devour | As Was Buried Shall Bury

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Azura
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Founded: Oct 25, 2011
Ex-Nation

Losieda Chronicles: The Gilded Lady

Postby Azura » Sun Apr 12, 2015 1:08 am

[ Mature ]


Image



The Crimson Crescent Cabaret and Social Club
Fundustega, Poinsettia Enclave Caupona, Losieda Belt

The Crimson Crescent Cabaret and Social Club was the largest adult entertainment complex in the lower decks of Caupona, itself an aging-yet-quaint little enclave for the survivors of the Poinsettia civilization's collapse several decades before. Though most of the ship was fairly civilized, only the miscreants and the ruffians dared venture down into the bottom of the enclave, the section they called Fundustega. Here, laws held no real meaning, and justice was meted at the point of a knife, or the barrel of a gun. Betty Kunin walked slowly towards the front entrance, the flashing bulbs an antiquated touch to an otherwise eclectic-looking atmosphere.

It had taken her quite awhile to make it to Caupona, and even then only just. She was tired, and a bit cranky, but if she meant to go through with this, then she might as well get it over with. The club itself was one of the nicer establishments in this part of Caupona, though that wasn't saying much. The smell of alcohol and urine was especially heavy outside, though most of the riff-raff were kept away by a pair of sturdy-looking bouncers. They let her in easily enough, apparently thinking she had money to spend there. This wasn't the type of place she spent money in, not that she had come to spend any money in the first place...

Manager... Manager...

"You look lost, pretty lady," an overweight man said loudly over the music, pocketing a pack of cigarettes as he walked up towards her from the bar. A toothpick dangled from his lips: "I think you got off on the wrong deck."

"Is this the Crimson Crescent?" She asked kindly, her eyes angled downward.

"The one and the only," he answered with a laugh. "That's what the sign says, anyways. What's your name, girl?"

"Beatrice Kunin, but my friends call me Betty," she said quietly. "I was hoping to see the manager here."

"You're looking at him, sweetheart: Ross Mellone, proprietor of the finest cabaret and social club in the depths. My girls here, they call me Tubs. You looking for some company or something, dearie?"

"No, no," Betty said, blushing slightly. "I don't do that... or I didn't. See, I don't have any money—"

"Oh, ho, then you're in the wrong place, girl," Tubs said, mildly irritated-yet-intrigued all at once. "Stop wasting my time here, lady."

"My father, he doesn't know where I am," Betty pleaded, her eyes watering. "I told him I could make it on my own, but I never got very far. I don't have any money, and I have no prospects. Please, sir, I... I need work."

The look of incredulous wonderment on the man's face was palpable. "Ha, ha! You? Work here? Don't take this the wrong way, dearie, but you don't look like the exotic type."

"I've never done it before," Betty confessed, still looking down. "But folks have always told me that I look pretty, and I promise that I would work hard. Please, sir, I'll do anything..."

Mellone sized her up, looking Betty over twice. "Well, maybe. You could move some money here, I think... Yeah, I think we can work something out. Why don't you come with me in the back, and we'll discuss your future here."

Betty nodded shyly, carefully keeping her satchel close to her body. The man, Tubs extended his arm, urging her on in front of him down a crowded row of tables, lecherous men ogling at naked flesh of the most sensuous order. Betty kept her eyes straight ahead, careful not to bump into any of them, the sleeves of her coat held close and pulled flush with her arm by her hands. Mellone was whistling behind her, a tune she had never heard before, the cadence loud enough for her to hear even over the blaring music. Someone was busy in the corner, his pants unbuckled, his hand unseen.

"Get a room, pal," Tubs said as they walked past towards a darker hallway, roughly shoving the man out of the booth where he sat. Betty tried to keep her eyes straight ahead, the fluted sconces on the tacky, brown wallpaper barely providing enough illumination to see. Several doors were left ajar, and she could hear women crying for help behind them. She kept walking, careful not to touch the dingy walls. Soon, the noises from the club floor began to soften a bit, and the rooms were either unoccupied or the doors closed. The dirty plush carpet smelled rancid and musty.

"The last door on your right," Mellone spoke finally, his voice overly loud in the suddenly-still hall.

"Right here?" Betty inquired, turning on the door handle Tubs had pointed to. The door squealed on its hinges, opening to a small, undecorated office. A dirty mattress without sheets was the only décor present; Betty stepped inside.

"There we are, yeah. Aren't you a sweet little thing," Tubs mused inquisitively, pulling the door shut behind them. "Yeah, quite the piece of ass. It really is a shame that I have to kill you now."

Betty spun on her heels, wide-eyed at the cheap .22 that the greasy manager had levied at her head. "Wait, what!? What did I do? What are you talking about?"

"Cut the act, bitch," Tubs said callously, training the pistol at her forehead. "You think Cullen Michetti is a fool? He had you pegged the moment you stepped foot on the Caupona, Miss Kunin... Or is it Kuri Tieszen?"

The flicker of innocence in her eye departed hence, evaporating like the morning dew from the high grass. In its place came a cold and calculating veneer, with the sliest of smiles painted on moist, plump red lips. Her shoulders broadened a bit, her head tilted slightly, her eyes narrowed and focused. The glint of naiveté smothered in the allure of a demented and tortured soul, buffeted only by the calculating cool of a masochistic fiend. They were the eyes of a sadist, a sociopath, a killer, and they were staring back into the pudgy, squiggly glare of a fat fuck errand boy.

What a moron...

"Mister Michetti doesn't take too kindly to people jerking him around," Mellone barked, his pores seeming to drip with sweat. "Luckily for you, the Boss is indisposed right now, so you get to die quick, 'Butterfly'."

"I reckon you have me, dead to rights then," Kuri said quietly, holding her arms down away from her sides, palms facing her would-be assailant. "Seems a shame, though, to let this opportunity go to waste."

At least he wasn't too thick. "What's the game, Butterfly? You want to die satisfied?"

"There's not enough in your pants to touch me any place I'd feel it," Tieszen laughed, making sure to pluck the right strings. "But if you were a real man, you'd at least have the balls to try, Tubby."

"I could have any broad out on the floor, whenever I want 'em," Tubs spat, taking great care to keep his gun trained on her face.

"Sure, but they can't offer you what I can."

Though the gun didn't move, the greasy bastard's eyebrow arched. "Oh? And what would that be, bitch?"

Good boy!

"I know how your type likes it," Kuri said seductively, her voice alluring. "You want a woman that tries to fight back. I'm all woman, and I'm going to die anyway, right?"

Tubs threw his head back, bellowing with laughter. "You stupid whore, how dumb do you think I am? You think I'm some peon working above his pay grade here?"

The man's cheeks quivered even after he stopped laughing. "No sir, I would never—"

"Tell you what," Mellone said whimsically, slowly lowering the gun towards her knee. "I respect your moxie. I respect you so much, that I'm going to give you a thrill before you die. But I don't want too much of a fight, so let's settle you down—"

Kuri exhaled sharply, the coolness of her breath especially noticeable in the warmth of the small back room. With the jerk of her wrist, a small blade fell neatly into her hand; she flicked her wrist upward, releasing the knife in a snap. The point found its mark in the fleshy—what a fat ass—part of the goon's hand, instinctively causing it to pull backwards on a reflex. His finger slipped on the trigger, sending a shot into the ceiling above. Before he could even pull the knife from his hand, Kuri brought the palm of her left hand up into his neck. The strike had enough force to knock him back into the walk, his body slinking down to the floor, hands clasped to his gagging throat. The sputtering, choking noise coming from his distended airway was unseemly, but he wasn't going anywhere.

Kuri sighed, bending over to reach in Tubs' breast pocket, pulling out his pack of cigarettes. "You know," she said casually, pulling out a smoke, "you shouldn't use these. They'll kill ya."

Tubs tried to speak, but only a weak choking sound emerged from his chunky lips. "Shh, don't try to talk yet, you'll just sound stupid," Tieszen chided him, lighting up her cigarette and taking a long, slow drag. "Ah, God, that's so good. I myself am a woman of many vices, but this is one I don't entertain often enough. Might be because of my upbringing, see; where I come from, women who smoke are accused of having a subconscious fascination with phallic objects."

"F—Fu—ck y—ou..." He choked out, before Kuri pulled the knife from his hand and plunged it into his groin as hard as she could, making sure to roll her smile as she rolled her wrist.

"You have it backwards there pal, but that's okay," she said loudly, trying to speak over his anguished, panicked screams. "So I'll just leave that there, and get straight to the point... Hehe, get it? Point?"

Tubs' eyes went crossed, his teeth clenched tightly from the pain. Kuri shrugged: "You're not any fun here, fat ass. You're also not very smart; I had you pegged from the start, all you did was make it easier for me to get to you. So while I have your attention, you're going to give your boss Cullen a message for me."

"I—I ain't t—elling him shit," Mellone gasped, perspiring heavily. "You can—"

"Technically, you're right," she interjected, withdrawing the blade roughly. Kuri patted him on the cheek, making sure he remained conscious. "You're going to die in a few minutes—one or two if you're lucky—but when they find you, Michetti and his crew will know that they stole from the wrong person."

"That's what t... this was about?" Tubs struggled to speak. "The girl? You have dozens of g-girls."

"I never learned how to share," Kuri scoffed, holding up the knife. "Now, let me show you why they call me Butterfly..."
TARRAGONIAVIEJAPORSIENPRE!
THEGRANDREPUBLICOFTARRAGONIA

The Right Honorable David Luis Salazar, President of Tarragonia

Capital City:Cala Seca, Distrito de AleixarDemonym:TarragonianPopulation:320 Million

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Rethan
Minister
 
Posts: 2138
Founded: Aug 09, 2006
Corporate Police State

Postby Rethan » Sat Apr 18, 2015 2:31 pm

A Reenactment

Goodness, I did not hear you come in. Yes, yes of course come on in. You’re just in time, friend, I was afraid you might miss this. What a crime that would be! Sit yourself there, no no no, in that chair. It will afford you a better view of the festivities, the excitement, and allow you to better appreciate the story.

Oh, you don’t know the story? But I thought…. No matter, I delight in telling it! Have a seat - oh, you’ve already taken one. Good, good. Forgive me, I am quite scatterbrained at the moment. Giddy, you understand, with excitement at this coming moment. A reenactment of the most pivotal moment in the...story! God I don’t imagine I will have the time to tell it all. There is so much of it and a lot of it really must be experienced to be understood. No, I am sorry my friend but I don’t think I can tell you the story - I can’t tell you of the spectral lights on alien shores, of the soundless singing. Of a most untimely burial. That is something you must experience yourself and perhaps your part in the story will start tonight. Oh, that would be wonderful! Pass me that bucket, would you? Thank you kindly.

My turn in the telling started about a month ago. You recall when we visited that mountaintop in the south, and saw nought but desert all around us. God, what a view! What a scene! Recall that I wandered and explored the mountain while you prepared the campsite - I always was useless at setting up tents and fire pits - and did not return for some time. God, you and Karyn were so frightened and I don’t think I ever properly made it up to the pair of you. She left me soon after, you know? She didn’t have anything to contribute to the story and got jealous that I had a part in it I imagine. Well, I never told you what I found there in the rock and sand, did I? I was selfish and didn’t really know what I’d found. I still don’t know, the Words haven’t seen fit to tell me yet. It would ruin the ending I expect. In a crevice, a moist and foetid crevice, I stumbled into a pool of black sand. The surface looked like raven glass, glinting the colour of vile fungus in the half light of the crevice and I thought it safe to step upon. I sank right up to the neck and felt the touch of thousands of tiny razors. I was genuinely worried I would die there, such was the pain. I had never known sand so sharp and so vicious.

Then I surfaced. I suppose I crawled out but every time I remember back I have the inescapable feeling that the sand vomited me forth. It was done with me and when I looked back to the pool there was only the slick, shining surface of glass, impervious and unyielding to my touch. Despite the stabbing and the scratching there was only a single tiny mark on my skin. Let me, just, there! See, the one right above my heart? The scar is as deep and remarkable was it was back all those weeks ago, it hasn’t healed at all. This, my friend, is the first Word and it goes right through to the ribs and muscle beneath. It weeps, not as much as the others anymore but still frequently enough. Now you know why I go through so many clothes.

I’ve been dreaming since that day and waking with more sigils, more words, in my flesh every day. None of them hurt, what is a scar among a hundred scars after all, the pain has dulled to mere noise. No no no, I don’t need a doctor. I don’t actually bleed, the scars just weep some kind of oil. Would you pass me that cloth? I can’t afford to lose any of the excretions. Not now, so close to the climax.

I was worried once, when I started waking to find myself bent over the sink, heaving blood and black bile into the basin. But eventually I got used to that too, the stars told me - oh, yes. I am very serious. I see the stars wherever I go now, dancing and glinting in eldritch colours behind my eyes. The sigils are their tongue, their voices. I think that’s why I’m vomiting, there are sigils on the inside and they leak too. So it’s not really my blood that I’m throwing up every - excellent! I knew I had hidden that sand in here somewhere.

I mentioned the untimely burial, didn’t I?

There was a king once. A master of Unmaking and unlife, a king that never was. Well he was - as kings are - toppled and shredded. His family ate of his flesh and stole his heart, stripped him of his name, and eventually buried him alive in sand and blood and stone. That’s the big finale. Can you pass me the crate behind you? Yes, there is something in there and it is quite alive. Open the front and dump it into the bucket?

Tee hee. Look at my little offering, eleven little birds with their wings clipped. Shh, shh little birdies.

You can sit down again. Oh, what’s in the other bucket? Well, I’ve had these words in my skin for a month. I’ve had time to collect an awful lot of the tears that leak from them.

What? I said tears? I’m quite sure I didn’t. Anyway, let us reenact the burial. Have ourselves a teeny, tiny sacrifice. I think the words in my skin are the name, you know? In with the tears - oh gosh, I did say tears didn’t I? I should have trusted you, friend!

There we go, all in. Look at them splish and splash. Splishy splashy. Sand goes in next.

I’ve been so hungry since this all started, but everytime I try to eat I get nauseous. The mere smell of food causes me to wretch. My own skin is quite delicious though, but I am not quite that hungry. Not yet. But good god these birds smell delectable, don’t they friend?

Where are you going? Watch until the sand goes in at least, surely. Look, the birds are getting quiet already beneath the sand. And their movements are stirring it for me, how perfect! Please don’t leave you haven’t heard the story yet! Look! Look at the sand thicken the weepings and turn to stone, a special stone! This is how the king-of-lights was buried, I just know it.

Oh my...oh my, it smells delicious. The birds will satisfy me now, I think, but are you quite sure you won’t dine on me?

If you are sure. Go then! Time to take your part in the story, and trust me you have a part now. God I am so hungry. Come to me you traitor birds and satisfy my growling wounds.
Last edited by Rethan on Sat Apr 18, 2015 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
As Was Devoured Shall Devour | As Was Buried Shall Bury

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Azura
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Founded: Oct 25, 2011
Ex-Nation

Disceptor: The Eumenidum Conspiracy, Part I

Postby Azura » Sun Apr 19, 2015 3:48 pm

[ Mature ]



Image


Eumenidum, Pinnacle, Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone
The South Eumenidum Customs Bureau and Terminal — 20th Ut, 5th Aetas 01

The landing gear slowly came to its berth in the loading bay by the commercial port, resonating with the metallic ping of docking clamps latching on to the ship. Townsend Cauldwell hated flying, but he hated leaving the relative comfort of his bungalow at Alavira even more. Being a Disceptor meant traveling, of course, but with so many tours of duty under his belt, he was anxiously awaiting the day when his superior at the outpost's reliquary would allow him to take a desk job until his service was complete. He should've been enjoying a good home cooked meal from his Meretrix back home; instead, he had the unenviable pleasure of sailing away to the Poinsettia colony on Eumenidum. Flying to every marginal shit hole in the galaxy at his age was unbecoming of a man of his stature.

Oh, who the fuck are you kidding? Get on with it, old man.

Townsend resisted the urge to laugh at himself, making sure to re-pressurize the cockpit of his D/P-XLV Proelium gunship before stepping up over the console. He quickly swiped his satchel from the small shelf behind the pilot's chair, shouldering it on his way towards the hatch. His order had been requested by the chief of security at the Reliquia de Saecula in Laurus Collis with an internal security problem; helping Poinsettia refugees was becoming a more frequent enterprise for the Disceptors, it seemed. Eumenidum was a booming agricultural port for the Poinsettia remnant on Pinnacle, a world that was less pleasant than Arx was, all things considered. For years it was a quiet little hamlet, shipping foodstuffs back to Arx and quietly getting filthy rich in the process.

The aging constable pulled the hatch lever twice, unsealing the locks; the hatch door itself raised automatically a few moments later. He used his left food to knock the latch holding the ladder in place, sending it hurtling towards the landing bay floor below, sending a metallic pang through the landing hangar when it hit. The first steps down were always the hardest; he had to resist the urge to fly his ship into a star intentionally, so desperately wanting to enjoy the simple pleasures in life than to play peacemaker in the wild frontier. As he began to exit the ship though, his sense of 'patriotic duty' and religious fervor would usually take hold. In the same sense that a man desperate for a paycheck would begrudgingly haul his ass to work against his will. It was pathetic, really.

And so, against his will, his feet found the last step on the ladder, and he nimbly stepped off, landing on the ground. His knees protested mildly, and he scowled as he raised his leg up, trying to shake the proverbial dust off them. Townsend straightened up finally, shouldering his satchel again before turning to orient himself in the auxiliary landing bay; he wasn't exactly sure why he'd been directed there once he'd entered the atmosphere. He turned to his left, noticing a trio of men approaching from the open hangar door, bright sunlight spilling in behind them. From the way the well dressed man in the center walked, he figured it was his main contact in Eumenidum, a politician of some sort. An old, snobbish looking fuck and a beanpole of a young man flanked him on either side.

"Mr. Cauldwell, we've been anxiously awaiting your arrival," the tall man spoke first, waving amicably as he approached. "I'm John Francis Kirkpatrick, city alderman and provost marshal for the Special Security Auxiliary here at the colony; most people around here call me Johnny Law, though John Francis works just fine as well."

"Conspector Townsend Cauldwell, Order of the Disceptors," he offered succinctly. "You can call me Conspector Cauldwell."

Kirkpatrick nodded slowly, noting Cauldwell's brisk demeanor. He turned towards his right to continue the formal introductions. "This fine young gentleman is Ozias Reddington, special adjutant to the colonial prefect's office; he'll be your go-between for us here in Eumenidum. And the man on my left is—"

"Mulcahy Sayer," his deputy blurted out ahead of time. "I work as Mr. Kikrpatrick's chief adjutant."

Cauldwell took a long, hard look at the diminutive deputy. "And what do they call you around here? Half-pint?"

"—Actually," the alderman cut in, trying to ward off a major scene in the loading bay, "we call him Hawkeye; he's the best shot in the colony. He once used a CR-43 to snipe a—"

"Johnny Law and Hawkeye Sayer. You've certainly come to embrace the frontier spirit, haven't you?" Townsend said disparagingly, taking a careful look around the loading bay. "Would you care to explain why you had me land here in the cargo haul instead of the main terminal? It smells like piss in here."

Before Kirkpatrick could answer him, Ozias had decided he'd heard enough. "The agrochemicals they use on the tier farms in this part of the colony are being sprayed today. When we have a breeze blowing in from the sea, the chemical odors waft through the lower levels of the colony. I'd suggest you get used to it."

"This isn't my first rodeo through a podunk, shithole outpost," Townsend fired back, unyielding in his sudden tenacity. "I'll handle my business like I always do. Why don't you diddle yourself and let me get to work?"

"I don't appreciate your attitude, sir," Hawkeye said bluntly, stepping in front of Kirkpatrick and Reddington. "I've seen you Reliquai come here, all high and mighty. You're a dime a dozen, thinking your shit doesn't stink."

"Half-pint, you're in over your head," Cauldwell said without any inflection in his voice. "You're about to start a fight you wont win. I'd suggest you back off before you learn a creative new way to get your ass beat."

"By all means, say the word," Sayer challenged, unwilling to back down. "I love a good fight with a—"

"Gentlemen! Gentlemen, please!" Alderman Kirkpatrick pleaded, very-nearly yanking Hawkeye back by his collar. "Mr. Cauldwell is an honored guest of Eumenidum. The Disceptors have graciously sent him here at the behest of the Prefect to determine whether our recent troubles are the sign of a larger problem."

"What is the problem?" Townsend replied finally, shaking his head. "Eumenidum sent a formal request to the Primareliqua for assistance in dealing with an internal security matter; the details were sketchy at best."

Ozias was the one to answer, trying hard to resume a neutral tone. "Murder. Or, well, murders to be precise. We have had six people die through unnatural means in the last month. A seventh was found earlier this morning, here in this bay."

"That's right," John Francis said carefully. "So far, we've done our best to keep a lid on the situation, but rumors are running rampant, and some people are even beginning to remain home. The Prefect wants us to resolve this case quickly before disruptions in the colony become an epidemic."

Townsend crossed his arms expectantly. "Serial killer?"

"—That's what we're hoping you will find out, Conspector. This sort of problem is unique here in Eumenidum; the last recorded murder in the colony was almost four years ago. This level of violence just isn't commonplace here."

Cauldwell waited for the alderman to finish. "Have you removed the body from the scene yet?"

"As a matter of fact, no; we were waiting for your arrival. We have the scene cordoned off over there—"

Townsend was already turning in the direction that Kirkpatrick was pointing in, preparing to tune him out when a muted explosion registered in his ears, followed by the sensation of something hot and wet spraying the back of his neck. He quickly spun on his heels, instinctively reaching for his sidearm when the alderman's limp body crashed into his knees, splaying him out on the hard floor. Another shot rang out, hitting the floor barely a meter away from his upturned head. He levied his bolt pistol in the vague direction of shadowy movement in the corner, pulling the trigger repeatedly as he used his feet to kick his way out from under the rotund alderman's body. The small man, Hawkeye was shouting something unintelligible, assuming a defensive posture behind a stack of freight containers.

Quickly scrambling backward towards his ship, Townsend had managed to roll up into a crouch by the wheel well when he saw the shooter clearly, moving up along a row of containers with a gas-powered automatic carbine. The assailant took aim and fired, his shot finding the mark in the fleshy part of Townsend's arm. He scowled, tossing the pistol into his left hand and firing in a solid, fluid motion; bullet holes plugged the containers immediately behind the shooter as he dove forward, taking cover behind a stack of crates. A second shooter was perched up on the balcony, his view of Townsend's position obscured by his ship. Hawkeye withdrew a small handgun from his side holster, barely taking the time to sight the target before firing. A sick, heavy thump on the other side of the bay followed a few seconds thereafter.

Damn, this kid's good...

The shooter on the ground heard his partner get hit, and made the classic mistake of letting his guard down long enough for Townsend to get the drop on him. He quickly reached with his injured arm into his side satchel, pulling out a small, circular cluster; a small impact grenade. He pulled the pin out with his teeth, lobbing it into the air in the direction of the second assailant. The cluster charge impacted two meters above his head on the crate wall behind him, causing the man to dive away from his cover on a reflex. Townsend took aim at the bastard's head, pulling the trigger before he could get off another shot. The shooter's head snapped back, a spray of crimson hitting the crate behind him. Cauldwell knelt down, exhaling sharply, senses on alert; nothing else was moving. It was over just as quickly as it had begun.

The Conspector rose from his crouch, unnerved but alive, taking stock of his arm. The bullet had gone straight through the tissue about four inches above the elbow, lodging itself in his bicep most probably. There was a steady ooze soaking the sleeve of his service jacket, but he was still able to move all of his digits on his right hand. He carefully began examining his torso and legs, carefully scouring his body for any more wounds. Perhaps a few bruises would spring up, but all things considered he was lucky to be alive. The second shot that rang out would have probably hit him in the chest had the alderman's body not knocked him forward out of the shooter's direct line of sight. Kirkpatrick's body was lying face up, a slug hole in his temple his undoing. A pool of blood was spreading underneath him.

"Jesus, Mary and Joseph," Hawkeye said finally, rising up from behind his crate. "Conspector, you alright?"

"Is he alright?" Ozias blurted incredulously. "How about am I alright!"

Townsend scoffed. "Oh, shut up. I took one in the arm; the rat bastard had to ruin my jacket. I liked this jacket."

Sayer rounded the corner, walking towards Townsend, a look of deep concern on his face. His gun was still held at the ready: "That looks like a nasty wound, sir. We might want to get you to the medical clinic."

"There's no need," Townsend said in haste, walking carefully towards the cooling body of the shooter he'd killed. "I have a surgical kit on board. I'll head back in and patch myself up before we head out."

"Suit yourself, but that's going to hurt like a bitch," Hawkeye said candidly. "You've got no exit wound, the bullet has to be lodged in there pretty good. Pulling it out is going to be madness."

"I don't feel pain, deputy," Cauldwell replied nonchalantly, kneeling down beside the shooter's body, trying to see if he could identify any markings that might reveal his identity. "It wont take very long to get it out."

"Fine, be a badass."

"You mean dumbass," Ozias corrected him. Townsend sighed audibly.

"No, I mean I literally don't feel pain. Well, I register the sensation, but it's far muted from what normal people experience. I have TIA—Traumatically Induced Analgesia. Makes me unable to register injuries readily."

"Traumatically induced?" Hawkeye questioned.

"I was shot in the head," Townsend replied coldly. "Somehow, I didn't die, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. The bullet damaged the parietal lobe, making it difficult to register pain. Aside from a few cognitive impairments though, I'm fine."

Reddington arched an eyebrow. "What kind of cognitive impairments?"

Townsend grunted, ripping at the assailant's shirt with his good hand. "I'm a bit of an asshole. Also, I have no patience for redundant questions. Besides," he said with disdain in his voice, "you have a more important question to worry about."

Hawkeye frowned. "What's that?"

Slowly, Cauldwell rose from his crouch, turning towards the two. Where the kid had been taking cover, there were several bullet holes where he'd been shot at. But there was nothing near the exposed alcove where Reddington had dove; the sniper on the balcony would have had a clear shot at him, and from the scatter pattern on the floor where he'd fallen and by the crates Hawkeye had taken cover behind, there was no real calculable pattern to their assault. It was scattershot, a crime of opportunity, which meant someone had to provide them with the opportunity in the first place. Feeling a sharp anger building up inside him, Townsend slowly levied the gun at Reddington, prompting the man to backpedal furiously. Sayer quickly drew his gun and leveled it at Cauldwell, eyes wide with surprise.

"What the fuck are you doing, Conspector?" Hawkeye demanded, but Townsend ignored him.

"How much did the Granieri Family pay to smuggle them in?"

Reddington backpedaled until his back hit the wall. "Wait, what? I-I don't know what you're t-talking about—"

Townsend laughed briefly, never dropping his aim. "Back on Arx, the going rate is a pound of gold; I'd imagine your tastes are a bit simpler out here in the wild frontier, though. What was it; Argentum? Women?"

"Sir, please! I—"

"Lie to me again, motherfucker," Cauldwell barked, extending his arm closer to Ozias. "Lie to me and see what happens."

Hawkeye shook his head, trying to make sense of what was going on. "What the Hell are you talking about, Cauldwell? What payment? Who the fuck are those guys? What the fuck is going on?"

"Sadly, Eumenidum has a rather unfortunate illness, deputy. I'm afraid that she's been infected with organized crime. The Autugyra is trying to move on the colony. Specifically, Alessandra Granieri and her Conexus of Cepheus."

"The Autugyra is trying to infiltrate Eumenidum?" Hawkeye couldn't believe it.

"I'm afraid so. And this lanky piece of shit is the person they paid off to enter. Being a Poinsettia refugee colony, your administrators in Customs would have access to the same files as the main Poinsettia databank back on Arx, which are uniform with the Primareliqua's databanks. The shooter on the floor there has a prison mark on his shoulder, signifying his allegiance to the Granieri family. It means his optical scans are in your colony's databank, and with security tight here, there's no way he could have made it in without being smuggled in. And to get through the border agents in customs, you need a friend in high places. Someone that has the leverage to swing a few bribes..."

Though he didn't drop his aim on Cauldwell, Hawkeye was obviously confused. He turned towards Ozias, expecting him to rebut the charges... and instead saw tears streaming down his face. "Reddington?"

"They gave me venenum," he sobbed uncontrollably, his chest panting. "I tried to kick it, I swear, but I couldn't! I begged the Prefect to make an exception, but he wouldn't budge! I couldn't leave my family here..."

The disgust on Hawkeye's face was reaching critical levels. "You smuggled in criminals, members of the damned Autugyra, all so that you could get your hands on drugs? You worthless piece of shit!"

"You don't understand! You couldn't possibly understand! I—"

Townsend's gun went off, sending a single round straight through Reddington's brow. He pivoted on his heel, sighting his pistol on Sayer before he had finished recoiling from the sudden noise. "Drop it, son. You don't want this."

"What in the fuck!" Hawkeye screamed, losing control over his emotions. "How the Hell is this happening?"

He held the beat for a second longer, but slowly Sayer lowered his pistol. A tear escaped its duct, rolling down a quivering cheek as he bitterly through the gun away. Townsend slowly lowered his own pistol, holstering it as the young man turned away. "It's not your fault; you have no blame in this."

"A city alderman and a political adjutant are both dead, one by your hand," Hawkeye spat, feeling a rush of anger and frustration. "How the fuck am I supposed to explain this to my section chief. He's going to want to know why—"

"Consider this your resignation," Townsend said quickly. "If the Granieris bought an adjutant, there's no telling how many other people they've got in their pocket here. They probably have a Stridore on the ground here already; when his hitmen fail to report back, he's going to call in reinforcements."

"How big can this thing be?" Hawkeye said quietly, turning back towards Townsend before letting the anger creep back into his voice once more. "Who the Hell would want to set up shop in Eumenidum, for Christ's sake?"

Townsend didn't answer him, not at first anyhow. In his long career as a Disceptor, he had enjoyed run-ins with some of the quadrant's most ruthless brigands and fiends. He'd dealt with uprisings and civil unrest, and he'd hunted delinquents and serial killers to Hell and back, all with the same accuracy and precision he'd honed for a generation. Of all his travels, though, he hated a run-in with the Autugyra the worst. Violent, unpredictable, prone to insidious plots and blackmail, the criminal ring was a boil on the buttocks of the galaxy, and he'd loathed having to lance it every time it festered. He was getting too old for this shit, truth be told. The Conexus of Cepheus was a particularly nasty organization to begin with; their family head, Alessandra Granieri was a Grade-A bitch on the best of days.

Cauldwell resisted the urge to spit on the body of the shooter, getting the dander up. At worst, Granieri was a scheming tyrant of the first order, and the only readily-available help in Liu Xiu right now was a young, untested constable who looked as though a stiff breeze could blow him off the mountain and into the sea far below. He'd held up well enough in the gunfight, but one fight did not a seasoned warrior make. And if Townsend meant to survive the coming battle, let alone bust up the burgeoning crime ring taking form in Eumenidum, he would need a warrior at his side. Someone who was prepared to bleed in the trenches with him, and put a bullet in the ass of every mobster in the colony. Looking at the kid now, he wasn't sure that Hawkeye Sayer was going to be up to the immense challenge that lie before them.

Ready or not, he's going to have to try.

Townsend shook his head finally, looking thoughtfully at the kid. "I don't know. But we're going to find out."
Last edited by Azura on Sun Apr 19, 2015 3:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
TARRAGONIAVIEJAPORSIENPRE!
THEGRANDREPUBLICOFTARRAGONIA

The Right Honorable David Luis Salazar, President of Tarragonia

Capital City:Cala Seca, Distrito de AleixarDemonym:TarragonianPopulation:320 Million

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Azura
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 147
Founded: Oct 25, 2011
Ex-Nation

Checkpoint One

Postby Azura » Sun Apr 19, 2015 10:16 pm

[ MATURE ]



If my country were not already lost,
I would rather taste of the honeydew,
And never fret o'er words left unspoken,
For the days of youth are numbered too few.
But the war swallows whole both ram and ewe,
And it breaks its bow across our bared backs.
It tarnishes all things, both old and new,
She is a friend to man, though charm she lacks.
The widow cries when the dead man attacks,
And the furies chant for blood to be spilled,
Through the absence of sanity or facts.
Is Death still athirst with so many killed?
'Tis no reason why any should remain,
On killing fields that live but for the slain.

Sepulcher of the Unknown Soldier



Image



Checkpoint One, Central Defense Corridor, Mercatus, Caelus
The Siege on the Capital — The End War — 30th Marthas, 3rd Aetas 76

They had been listening over the radio channels for the past four hours, following the progression of events. Once Redoubt North had been overrun, there was little doubt that the infestation would begin spreading up the central defense corridor, all the way to Mercatus if they let them. The capital was awash in mortal terror behind them, but there was a strange calm, an almost eerie sereneness before them. Glowing fires illuminated a roving Hell behind the hills, but the soft sound of the wind on the plains beside them drowned out the screams from up ahead on the road. There were screams up ahead; there had to be. Everyone at Checkpoint One knew it; they knew of the horrors approaching them. Soon, there would be nowhere left to hide, and nowhere left to run. They were in at the death.

Consul Banastre Parker had watched as a flood of wounded soldiers streamed past Checkpoint One all afternoon; the dead and dying following the detail close behind. As the sun had begun set however, the flow of wounded had become a trickle; fewer men were left alive before them to be maimed. As it was, the Sar'Rithril didn't take prisoners alive, and cared not for the antiquated machinations of quarter or decency. He had listened with baited breath, hoping beyond hope that Checkpoint Three would hold. When the ramparts were broken, and the wounded defenders got caught in the crossfire during their retreat to Redoubt Two, Banastre knew that this was the end. Command would never allow for such a grievous tactical risk unless they knew that utter defeat was imminent.

Though the wind remained blowing from the west, the acrid smell of smoke began to tinge the air from the south. Columns of billowing black smoke bore the promise of death, cresting over the hills beyond as if to peek over and cast morbid fear in the souls of the living defenders. Parker could see his men grow restless, waiting for the last; two hundred intrepid souls lined the barricades, rifles at the ready, breathing what little remained of the untainted air. Nothing but static filled the airwaves now; no new report from Checkpoint Two had filtered through in over an hour. If anyone was left alive there, it was only that the Sar'Rithril wished not to spoil the meat from their bones too hastily. They often harvested body fat for the want of a paste that seasoned their gruel.

From the woodlands beyond, shadowy figures emerged from the tree line, limping as fast as their failing feet could carry them. Banastre perked up, his rifle held close to his chest; the walking wounded were sprinting towards the Checkpoint, rifles and materiel left somewhere behind on the burning pitch. Parker quickly dropped from his perch on the firing dais, the barricades automatically being opened by the sentries manning the watch on the ground. A half-dozen men were leaning upon one another for support, trying to make it through before the unseen fear chasing them down could catch up to them. Banastre could smell the burnt skin and hair on their bodies; flesh had been savagely ripped away by cutting instruments and the talons of their damnable killing claws.

"Who's in charge here?" The healthiest of the survivors gasped, trying to catch his breath."

"I'm Consul Parker, Capital Defense Unit. What say you?"

The soldier's eyes were wide and haunting; they rolled with uncontrollable panic. "I beg your rapport, sir; the infestation has broken through Checkpoint Two. The survivors attempted to regroup on the high ground by Grid Sector 010-A, but the enemy overwhelmed them. We radioed in for combat support, but the airfields west of the capital are gone."

"Our radios aren't picking up anything," Banastre quipped frustratingly.

"They've knocked out radio towers from here all the way to Meridiem Montus," the soldier replied, continually looking over his shoulder back down the way they had came. "We managed a last minute shout before we lost our comms, too."

"Do you have any news of the capital?" Parker asked intently, noting that the soldier was already beginning to stumble on."

"Military command is pulling out," the soldier cried out, "but the Concilium intends to hold to the last for moral support!"

Parker was about to call out after the man and his cadre, but his adjutant cried out from behind: "Runner, sir!"

Banastre spun on his heels, rifle at the ready, unsure of what to expect. A lone Reliquai soldier was stumbling forward, his clothes torn in tatters, the flesh on his face and neck cruelly stripped away in neat slices. One of the man's eyes had been put out, and the gaping hole in his cheek revealed missing teeth and badly damaged gums, inflamed with infection. Every other step the man took, it seemed as though his legs were about to betray him, yet still he soldiered on to the very end of his limits, almost collapsing into the barricade before it could be opened properly. His broken fingers limply clawed at the concrete barricade and the half-empty caissons, trying to steady himself against something and remain upright. Parker went to fetch his medical kit from his side pack, but the soldier's lips quivered as he tried to speak.

"S-sir, I was instruct... instructed to b-brin-... message."

"Easy son, easy," Banastre said quietly, noting the spreading infection. He'd been envenomed by the Sar'Rithril.

"S-sir... enemy horde... treeline. The children w-will be s-spared if y-you... if you... stand down."

"Don't worry, son, we'll get you to a surgeon right away," Parker said reassuringly, taking great care not to jostle the wounded man too much. As soon as his weight fell on his shoulder, the soldier pitched forward suddenly, dropping dead to the pavement, his heart finally giving way. A gaping, ragged wound ran from the length of his shoulder blade all the way to the tailbone; burnt flesh and gristle were exposed. How the poor soul had managed to make it back to the Checkpoint at all was a miracle, and yet no fluke at the same time. Whoever the Harvest Fleet commander was on the ground, he—it—was very skilled at maiming the human anatomy. They had stopped just short of crippling him, to allow him a chance to deliver the final terms of the Sar'Rithril for their surrender.

"Why would they spare the children, and not the women or the infirm?" A voice called out from down the line, one whose owner had been close enough to the recent scene to have heard the final report of the runner.

"The little children don't provide them with enough meat, considering the energy they have to expend capturing them," Parker said disgustedly, moving back up to the firing dais. "They'll wait until their bigger before they harvest them."

Banastre checked his rifle for the final time, perhaps the thousandth time in as many hours, ensuring that a fresh battery and magazine was firmly locked and secured. He watched out of the corner of his eye as his fellow sharpshooters up on the dais did the same. Though he couldn't see them hidden behind the treeline, Parker knew that the Sar'Rithril were nearby, watching to see if the barricade would be taken down. The Consul had no intention of opening the route to the capital for the enemy; not while he still drew breath. Acceding to the terms of the Harvest commander would be tantamount to ringing the doorbell for the bastards, with their capital being the long and bloody smorgasbord. They had to hold out until reinforcements arrived from the capital. They had to hold.

Across the roadway on the opposing dais, the heavy troopers, the Bellatores were lugging shoulder-fired missiles and grenade launchers. Plasma mortar cannons and electric minigun batteries were trained on the barricade opening, prepared to rain an unholy symphony of hot lead and electrical currents at the first rotten mongrel that dared breach the perimeter. All up and down the blockade, men on the barricade line were holding their breath. The world itself was holding its breath; even the wind had stopped, bated and wary of the killing blow that would soon follow. The Sar'Rithril were so close now, Banastre could almost imagine smelling them. If only he could smell a sweet fragrance before he died, he would have died a contented man. One could only stand the stench of death for so long...

Banastre saw the first one, then, emerging on the roadway through the tree line; its form illuminated by the glowing torches that began to appear through the thickets. One followed the other, then three more, and a half dozen behind. No one dared exhale as the treeline became flooded with the heathen bastards, the walking diseased. They stood two and half meters tall at least—some of the bigger marauders could have easily been an extra meter higher, fattened on the blood and bone of his comrades. Their lip-less, snarled fangs were the only clean-looking thing on their gritty, grimy skin. Impossibly narrow slits for eyes were the shade of onyx, even in the glowing gloom on the road ahead. Their guttural tongues were flooding the silence in a cacophony of insidious horror.

"Commence firing, fire at will! Commence firing, fire at will!" Parker screamed, sighting the nearest creature some twenty meters away, his volley lost in the first salvo of their last stand. Aside from a few myclonic jerks from the impacts of their rifle fire, the first wave continued walking unabated. That's what horrified him the most, how the Sar'Rithril never ran or charged headlong at an enemy force while under fire. They simply let their ranks absorb the punch before delivering a Hellish counter. The rockets on the other dais were let loose, arcing golden trails of light as they smashed into the horde, exploding en masse. Body parts were savagely torn from their owners in the maelstrom, but the lines behind the destruction merely stepped over the fallen and the dead.

"Bellatores, reload!"

The Consul screamed futilely, distantly aware that they weren't waiting for his orders to rearm and fire again. Banastre cursed, realizing that his own rifle had run dry even as he fumbled for a fresh magazine. The nearest of the creatures were only ten meters away now; the rifle teams had brought down two lines, but there were dozens upon dozens filtering out of the treeline behind the first waves. Parker slid the fresh magazine into his rifle and sighted again, pulling the trigger and the most presentable body masses he could spot. Over and over, the recoil of the rifle and the smell of gunpowder made him dizzy, but he kept firing even as the first wave reached the walls of the barricade below and began to climb. The sound of their talons on cement and metal was unholy.

"Fix bayonets! Repel the invaders!"

The Consul sacrificed an extra second of volley firing to attach his own bayonet to his rifle, managing to get it over the wall and down into the skull of an approaching Harvester before he could breach over the top. The cranial bone was thick and tough to penetrate, and the wounded Sar'Rithril fell back to the ground below alive rather than dead. The monsters were about to breach down the line to his left, and he quickly drew his sidearm without thinking about it, training it along the top of the wall and firing sideways into the hordes. Shot after shot rang out, accompanied by the growing number of panicked cries as monstrous heads began peaking over the barricades. A garish face shot up over the wall beside him, fangs dripping with a venom so potent, it would leave its victims in agony for weeks before resolving itself.

The beast screamed, and Banastre nearly plunged his bayonet through its leering grin, his own voice groaning in disdain and disgust as the creature fought for control of the rifle. Parker could feel his grip loosening, and he relented to shouldering the butt of it as hard as he could, driving it further into the Sar'Rithril Harvester's skull. The beast pawed at it as it fell backwards, still clutching the rifle whose bayonet was burrowed into its face. The Consul reached down to pull a fresh magazine from his pocket when another mongrel crested, getting his arms up over the top. Banastre readied himself to use his boot, driving it as hard as he could into the creature's head, but its claw drove through the sole into his heel first, using its brute strength to lift him backwards up and off the dais to the ground five meters below.

This is going to—

A jarring, frightful impact stole his thoughts, and his breath. His flesh smacked the ground below hard as he landed on his shoulder; he could feel the collar bone snap and the muscles tear. The enormity of his pain was complete and overwhelming, and he felt as much as heard the sound of ribs giving way. His lungs were aching, and short, panicked gasps of air were being sucked in at a feverish pace. His eyes turned upward towards the dais, watching in mute horror as the first wave to breach the barricade began lugging their bolt rifles into firing position, drowning out all other noise with the terrible, whining screech that they made. The Bellatores were jumping from their platform, trying to lug as much artillery as they could behind them; some were caught in the battery fire from behind as they tried to flee.

Parker couldn't move quickly enough to move out of the way, and a hulking Harvester hoisted him up off the ground, drowning his body in a fresh wave of nauseating pain. Banastre wanted desperately to scream to his men, to order them to fight to the last; it had been their last stand after all. But the fangs of the mongrel hoisting him up were driven deep into his neck, pumping his veins full with their venomous bile, an almost gleeful humming sound erupting from his throat. After a few moments, the beast withdrew his fans, but the pain was already spreading out from the puncture marks. The creature tore at his uniform's protective armor, ripping it from his body with callous disregard. Torrents of blood and severed body parts were falling off the dais behind the beast, before the whole tower was pulled down.

"C-choke, you bastard!" Parker managed before its probing fingers tore into his flesh, and the beast began to eat.
TARRAGONIAVIEJAPORSIENPRE!
THEGRANDREPUBLICOFTARRAGONIA

The Right Honorable David Luis Salazar, President of Tarragonia

Capital City:Cala Seca, Distrito de AleixarDemonym:TarragonianPopulation:320 Million

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Kyrusia
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Capitalizt

Postby Kyrusia » Sun Apr 19, 2015 11:09 pm

Smoke on the Water
Torture is merely education with a purpose.
[ Future Technology ][ Mature ]

"When pain can't bless, heaven quits us in despair." — Edward Young, Night Thoughts

It was the sudden tug of flesh that sent the shrill awakening of realization into the base of Smoke's brain case: the realization that somewhere, some-when, she'd chosen this for herself. She'd elected, quite evidently, to guide herself into the crimes of the Orphans' Revolt, the betrayal of a brigand's life, the debauchery of a spoiled child lacking compassion for that which is frail and new, and - at last - into the quarters adjacent, aide-de-camp, to the household's mistress, soaking in waters so steamed it brought pink to her flesh, and desperately trying to suture the meat back into her hide. 'Yes,' she thought as she lifted herself, looking to the fold below her chest and the dangling bit of metal that ran rough-shod through her wound, 'because this is completely what I fuckin' wanted.' With a sharp inhalation, she tugged quickly, jerking the bent needle through the open envelope of her skin, the polished and buffered aulho silk sliding through like hot-wire through butter. She muffled the scream into her bicep and watched her life grow thin and rusty in the waters of her bath.

As much as the lazy whirlpool of scarlet-turning-cloud was, in its own way, entrancing, she allowed her head to fall back to the towel that cradled her neck, careful to keep her arm raised and the gaping wound in her left flank above the waterline. "Just what I enjoy," she murmured to the sparse, but evidently quite lavish according to her fellow servitors, bathing room, her eyes adjusting to the ochre glare of the suspensor globe above, "sitting by myself, in a bath tub, in the middle of the night, sewing-up a mistake." It was her mistake, of course; it always was her mistake - her choice - that lead her to such situations. Luckily, before the latest bit of clandestine affairs and "lessons of the dance," as Khaaira was so want to call it, they had gone un-reprimanded; much to Smoke's chagrin, however, her instructor had decided it was about time for a bit of a life lesson.

'"It could have been far worse, Siara,"' she recalled her saying, '"I could have ended your life then; all it would have taken was a slight change in my stance, and you would be gasping - beautiful as you are, certainly, my dear friend, but gasping and loosing your life upon this stonework."' Smoke couldn't help but tighten her jaw, her teeth grit and sore in their gums. She was, truthfully, grateful - not for the lesson, necessarily, but for the opportunity to learn it; she recalled back when the suspicion was confirmed, and her present station only strengthened her reminiscent gaze. '"We are alike in many ways, you and I,'" Khaaira had told her, '"I find it more than desirable to find out to what extent. Shall we learn together as friends?"' She let her memory glance over the re-affirmation of her societal status - that of a slave, owned by the woman whom she now called "friend," the same woman who had taught her the lesson of idle hands and a lazy mind.

The painful sting of the water's surface caused her to jerk upright instantly; the movement tugged at the wound, causing greater teasing of torment's edge and loosening her grip, causing the small suture needle to tumble into the water, soaking the entirety of her aulho silk string. "Fuck," she cursed just above a whisper, the tension in her jaw building as she took care to pluck the small, sliver of metal from the water. Turning her head, she lifted herself aside once more and looked to the wound: it was shallow, but enough, perhaps a finger-length in total - but enough. The dilemma of removing the silk then hit her brow, furrowing it; she could undue what narrow bit of work she had accomplished, eliciting further torture, or she could push on with the sting of the water and its perfume. 'Yes, Smoke,' she mused, cursing herself inwardly in the tone of her mind's maw, 'This is exactly what you wanted to be doing; not sleeping, not smoking, thinking of her - whether she's alive or de—' The thought ran cold her blood; no, she knew, she truly did prefer this pain to that flavor of agony.

With a sigh, she reached beside herself and onto the small, brass tray at the edge of the sandstone basin, retrieving the narrow roll of her aulho cigarette and raising it to her lips. As she let the smoke pour from her nostrils, Smoke's eyes drifted to the small window immediately across her, catching narrowly the dawning glimpse of the light of the first of Naphaii upon the dunes in the distant and far below. '"They hold one of the First in veneration supreme; one day soon you, too, will find comfort in Her as I did. She is Kaadija, the Seductress of War, She Who Is Blood Upon the Dunes."' Gazing, she realized, there was some comfort found in that sight: as the first of Naphaii rose, still obscured in the distance, the dunes seem to come to life, each dune a distant cinder coming to glow like bloodied embers in some brazier that was the world. She was never one to fall to faith or superstition, but watching, Smoke felt some stirring - some comfort - in the vision from her window's edge. She felt working in that dawn.

Stamping out the aulho cigarette, she found a new sense of resilience overwhelm her muscles as she retrieved and readied her instrument. A moment and a movement of flesh later, she steeled her mind and held grit on the edges of her teeth, before splashing her exposed flank damp; the pain was tremendous at first, but she bore it nonetheless, tugging tight the first stitch of her sloppy fixing in the blindness of the laceration's stinging. 'Don't think,' she intoned, diving the needle back into her flesh with a cross-stitch, pushing hard through the second fold, then tugging back. At first, it was the sudden combination of an almost masochistic sense of accomplishment that ran through her nerves, catching her breath shallow and clogging her throat; then, she realized, it was merely new pain as agitated tissue became compressed and taunt. 'No,' she declared, 'It's the first. This is what I want. I choose this; it will feel good.' The third stitching, however, made her muffle her vocals hoarse and bellowing into her tongue.

"F— Fuck," Smoke passed from her lips, casting her eyes back through the window. The stochastic peaks and valleys of the dunes, far as they were, seemed to glow like streams - like blood streaming from an open wound. "Fuck it," she re-affirmed, "This will feel good. Enjoy it. Savor it. Fucking enjoy it!" As she drove in the needle once more, the pain was sharp, then faded as the silk passed through; 'Yes, enjoy it. It feels good. I feels fucking great!' Despite her attempts however, another turn of her wrist sent blinding pain up her side, circling her chest and upper-body like a serpent gripping tight as a vice; she held her breath, and turned back to the window as if to demand some sort of reprieve. Instead, the streams had become a blanket of flaming starlight, the bloody dunes vanquished and, seemingly, her source of resolve having left with them.

In that moment, the second realization - the true realization - of her circumstance hit her. The fact that such a wound was painful, she knew; she accepted that much. She even accepted that it was a situation of educating and conditioning through pain, of that much Smoke had never doubted or questioned. The realization that she had made this choice - had chosen an opportunity, this opportunity, that would lead her down a road where many nights might be spent as such - flooded her mind.

"I've got to do this," she whispered to herself in the silence of the palace's dawn, a silence which would soon be broken, "It's now, Smoke. It's now, or you've fucked-up again; now or you've quit, yet again." Even as she spoke, the house's mistress' words filled her: '"We can look to the First, and even the Endless, for strength, and they may grant it. But, my friend, they will only grant strength, power, and freedom to those whom, first, find their own strength. No god or gods in this world or any other will help those whom are unwilling to first help themselves, Siara."'

Sighing, she watched as thin streamers of life flowed from the wound, agitated and becoming inflamed; it was running from her, leaving her body. "It's weakness," she spoke in litany, she accepted, "It's weakness, and it's running, because weakness always runs. I refuse to run again. I refuse to be weak, and I refuse to beg and to give myself to those whom are strong, simply so I might be. Either I am strong, or I am dead. Now fucking sew yourself up, or be a slave to your own weakness."

Pressing the needle's point against her flesh, Smoke refused to be a slave to her weakness, regardless of her caste and lot. In the height of her litany in silence, she declared her freedom to the world in a scream of metal, silk, and sand.
Last edited by Kyrusia on Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Azura
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Ex-Nation

Canustunicas: The Four Horsemen of the Sidusclasse

Postby Azura » Mon Apr 20, 2015 1:20 pm

CANUSTUNICAS
THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE SIDUSCLASSE


The Leadership of Canustunicas, the 'Graycoats'
Conquaestor Stanislaus Keirsey, Commander of the Prima Legiuncula Dracones
Induperator Lewan Sonneborn, Arbiter of the Praeceptum Exploratoris
Auspex Wunderlin Crewse, Captain of the SLV Circen (OC-145)
Inquisitor Gavan McClenathan, Magister of the Quatuor Equitum


Sidusclasse Orbital Platform, Arafa Orbit, Calixtas System
Command Level A, the Office of Consul Daniel Bell — 21st Marthas, 5th Aetas 01

There was a certain disposition about his escort that seemed to beckon a general sense of foreboding. Stan Keirsey was not exactly a name of renown or superior repute among the upper echelon of the Sidusclasse; he had performed his job as best he could, but expected nothing of his service to God and Country. It made his summoning to the Sidusclasse's forward command post orbiting the gas giant Arafa all the more unusual. A damned peculiar request for an audience with an important tactical strategist from the fleet's OT Command. Keirsey had long considered the possibility of promotion, of the fame and glory that came with exemplary service, but such honorifics were for the elites, not the damned fools who worked for a living to earn their keep. He had no business in a place such as this.

Then why am I standing outside the office of Consul Bell?

Keirsey looked down at the rather short fellow standing beside him, an unusual earpiece fixed to a tactical visor. The operating post orbiting Arafa was opulence redefined compared to the makeshift camp he and his men in the Legiuncula usually enjoyed. Aequor was designed for those intrepid men and women in the service of the state who didn't mind losing blood and sweat by the gallon. His career had been spent humping it in the fields of Arx and Corra, hunting insurrectionists and Autugyrai. He'd even come to engage a Sar'Rithril infestation in the Peregrinus System two years before. He was immensely prideful of the work he and his troopers had done, and had considered their contribution worthy of remembrance in song and story. Compared to the Arafa Installation, though...

Perhaps we were small potatoes after all. This place...

After arriving at the orbital platform, he had immediately decided that awestruck wonder would sufficiently cover his feelings on the request for an audience. The trip from the loading bay to the office of the station's commander had taken damn near twenty minutes; comparatively, he could walk the breadth of his camp back on Arx almost a dozen times in that same time frame. He'd been asked to wait for almost fifteen minutes outside of his final destination, the young sentinel standing watch beside him not so much as flinching during that time. The interminable wait was driving him mad with anxious anticipation. He very much desired to know why a soldier from Aequor had been called to such a high-level meeting, and whether anything in the Sidusclasse could compare to the Arafa installation.

His eyes had never seen anything so massive, so elaborate: the Legiuncula was built for mobility and rugged efficiency; he had once gone eighteen months during an extended tour where he'd never even stepped foot inside a physical, permanently fixed structure. His plan canvas tents were as archaic as wooden swords compared to the titanic bulkheads which towered overhead, of the hundreds of visual relay monitors which lined the massive corridor on either side. The air was filtered through static scrubbers, and the temperature was so cool compared to the heat of the Arxian deserts. Though he was a proud member of the Sidusclasse, he could have almost sworn he was in an entirely different service walking the corridors of the orbital platform. He was well above his own pay grade.

"Sir," the young soldier who had escorted him all the way from the transport dock said quietly, putting his hand up to the earpiece receiver. "Consul Bell will see you presently in his office; please go in now, sir."

"Thank you; you're excused," Keirsey said respectfully, taking a moment before stepping forward. The door automatically opened for him, revealing a lavish executive office on the other side. He wasn't quite sure what to expect, and that calculated blank impression led only to more amazement. The office was easily bigger than his first camp barracks, the ensign of the Primareliqua emblazoned in the plush carpeting. The side walls were inlaid with a maple wood finish, and real wax candles were burning in ornately-crafted wall sconces. The pièce de résistance however was the back wall, or lack thereof. The entire wall behind the hand-crafted mahogany desk was a tinted glass wall, overlooking the vast planet below. Warships and tugs were scattered across the sight line for as far as he could see.

There were two men waiting to greet him, sitting and standing respectively on the far side of the office nearest the window wall. One of the gentlemen was wearing a long black long suit, his thinning hair slicked back. He was facing away from the doorway, and never budged when Stan had entered the room. The other gentleman was seated at the desk; his dress uniform was decorated with countless service pins and medals, though Stan had never quite seen a uniform such as his. The fabric pattern and the coloration matched no known design that he'd ever seen. The man rose from his desk as Keirsey approached, walking around the corner whilst simultaneously straightening his jacket. He was an older, smaller man than the person standing behind him; thin scars marked his mild facial features.

Stan came to attention quickly, offering a salute to the Consul. "Conquaestor Stanislaus Keirsey, Commander of the Prima Legiuncula Dracones, reporting as ordered, sir!"

"At ease, at ease," his superior addressed him respectfully, extending his hand in an embrace. "You're among friends here, Keirsey. I promise, no one is going to make you disappear here."

"Ah, yes, sir," Stan said more naturally, trying not to let his anticipation spoil his reserved poise and countenance.

"Would you care for a drink, Conquaestor?" The Consul asked intently, already moving towards a small liquor cabinet along the left wall. "You've had quite a long trip from your field camp on Arx, haven't you?"

"It was no trouble, sir," Keirsey replied, "and no thank you, Consul. I don't imbibe."

"Oh? A teetotaler are we?" The Consul asked with a laugh, pouring himself a drink from a bottle of scotch whiskey. "Well, I'm sure the dive bars in the Poinsettia colonies love to see you come into town."

"I've been known to enjoy a club soda on occasion," Stan replied, a bit flummoxed. "When I'm feeling adventurous."

"You're a pious man, aren't you, son?" Bell asked inquisitively, turning back towards Stan with drink in hand. "I can tell from your hesitancy, and the way you're trying to hide your nervousness with faux-confidence."

Stanislaus exhaled sharply, nodding. "I just don't like to be in the dark, sir. In the field, I know to expect the unexpected, and so my guard is always up. This setting is out of place for me; this is the true unknown."

"It's not a crime, son, believe me," the Consul said reassuringly, taking a sip of his drink in the interim. "I like a pious man whose devotion to ideals trumps frivolity for the sake of glory and virility. There are too few men of noble convictions left in the world, sadly. You're a throwback to a bygone era."

Keirsey nodded slowly. "I appreciate you saying that, sir."

The Consul smiled at him in return, then turned to put his half-empty glass down on the desk behind him. "Well, you've come a long way to be here, and I appreciate your expediency in arriving. I may have come up through Cael, but I always respected the men and women in Aequor. Boots on the ground, face to face with your enemies?"

"I am proud to serve," Stan answered unequivocally. At least that much is certain...

Bell smiled at the response, then nodded contently. "Well, if you'll excuse me then, I'll be off now."

Keirsey was partially taken aback. "Sir? Did you not want to meet with me?"

"Ah, no," Consul Bell replied, almost disappointingly as he began to walk past him. "Judex Keyes did."

As Bell stepped past him, Stan couldn't help but arch an eyebrow in utter surprise. His attention was quickly drawn by the man staring out the window, however; slowly, he uncrossed his arms, turning towards him for the first time. His eyes were dark, almost eerily so, but his grin was the true disconcerting feature. The man was wearing an unsettling grin; the kind of smile that a predator would wear. Were he the kind of man a person would meet in the alley, one would immediately reverse course and flee the other way. Keirsey wasn't easily intimidated of course—fighting Autugyrai assassins and Sar'Rithril Harvesters was no picnic to be certain—but the man in the long black suit was legitimately intimidating. Every passing second, his impossibly wide grin seemed to widen more.

"I spoke with Duesler and Kubisiak this morning via long-range relay. They were most impressed with your recent successes in Aequor. Perhaps you should do a better job of keeping in touch with them?"

The Conquaestor froze on the spot, his eyes wide with surprise at the mention of two people he had done his very best to keep hidden in his life. "Sir, I beg pardon? I—"

"Relax, Keirsey. Caedis doesn't care who you put your dick in," the man said coldly, moving to stand directly across from him behind the desk. "I simply wanted to give you an opportunity to understand the game."

"The game, sir?" He answered, still feeling the adrenaline pumping through his veins.

"Yes, the game," was the reply he received, in an almost-chiding tone of voice. "The game is such: don't fuck around with me, and don't hide things from me. As you now know, I have ways of finding even the most well hidden of secrets."

Stan shook his head in compliance. "Yes, sir: full disclosure only."

There was no change in the man's expression. "My name is Viran Keyes; as you might have ascertained, I am a man of significant import at Caedis. In the Primareliqua, really, though I suppose that's neither here nor there."

"Yes, sir."

"—I requested this audience for a specific purpose," Keyes continued unabated. "You are here because you are one of only three hundred active combat commanders in Aequor who have faced both democratic separatists, Autugyrai brigands and an infestation of Sar'Rithril Harvesters. You are a rare breed in deed, Mr. Keirsey."

"Sir, I—"

Viran cut him off yet again. "They call you Stan the Man, don't they? While I don't care for unoriginal sobriquets, I must say in your case, the name is quite apt. You are loyal to a fault and a highly religious man; something of a recluse and highly private in your personal affairs, to say nothing of your attempt to hide present indiscretions with the accompaniment you currently enjoy at both Smyra Station and Novus Corvus."

Keirsey chafed once more under the mention of his infidelities. "With respect, Mr. Keyes, sir, I—"

"Tell me, is cheating a compulsory activity in your family? Your spouse is soft and delicate, just like your mother was; yet adultery seems to run in your family. Your father can certainly attest to his—"

"That is enough!" Stanislaus snapped, clenching his fist tightly, the anger inside of him erupting suddenly. "If you called me all the way out here for a purpose, then get to it! Otherwise, if you wish to insult me, I shall take my leave!"

The fierceness of his words notwithstanding, Keyes seemed to be reasonably unfazed by the outburst. He shook his head, sighing: "My, my, that's a shame. I figured you would hold your temper the longest, being a soldier accustomed to drunken revelry amongst your comrades. Instead, you cracked the fastest; I must say, I am a bit disappointed."

"What do you mean, the 'first' to crack?"

Viran rolled his eyes, pointing towards the window wall. "I suppose bequeathing you truth is in order now."

The window wall quickly clouded over, the opaque coloration serving as the new backdrop for a projection in a hitherto-unseen computer relay, turning the giant wall into a viewfinder. Three distinct divisions cropped up, each bearing the visage of a serviceman from different branches of the Sidusclasse: the commander of a ship from Cael, who couldn't have been a day over thirty; his blond hair dipping just below the collar line. There was a scout from Sensus, who looked as though he were assembled out of metal and grit, he was so big. A scar under his eye was distinctly similar to one Stan also bore. And there was what looked to be a operator from Caedis, wearing the same clothing that Viran Keyes was wearing. This soldier was a bit younger than Keyes, and bore strange insignia on his uniform.

"Auspex Wunderlin Crewse, Captain of the Orbiter Circen," Viran said, pointing to the far left before moving to the next picture. "That's Induperator Lewan Sonneborn, an Arbiter of the Praeceptum Exploratoris. And my understudy on the right is Inquisitor Gavan McClenathan, Magister of the Quatuor Equitum."

"What the Hell was this?" Stan demanded. "Some kind of demented test?"

"Not demented, necessary," Viran corrected him. "I needed to see whether you had any true convictions under that façade of piety, Conqueastor. I needed to make sure your convictions had made you strong, and not weak."

"I can't afford to be weak," Keirsey challenged him direct. "My life, and the lives of my men depend on me doing my job accurately and efficiently. Aequor doesn't train... pussies, sir..."

For the first time, Viran showed a modicum of emotion: the sliest of smiles. "You're not a natural soldier, Keirsey; most warriors are cut from a virile mold, eager to prove the size of their dick as quickly as they are to bury a knife in the head of a Harvester. But you? You're different, alright. You're the shadow that follows the scent of masculinity and bravado, quiet and reserved, biding your time. You couldn't curse meaningfully to save your life, because in some demented way, your mind recognized that the true path to power is not through boisterous sprinting, but through silent stalking. No, sir, as dangerous as I am, I do believe you are the deadliest warrior in this room."

Stanislaus was having trouble processing his meaning. "Sir, what am I doing here?"

The faint trace of humor fled Viran's face as quickly as it had appeared. "Your experience as a combat ace is invaluable to me—to the Sidusclasse, even. Of all the files we pulled, of all the candidates we reviewed, you were the only one that I ever wanted. The quiet man, the deadly man; the man who pulls the trigger because he must, not because he wants to."

"I'm sorry; candidates, sir?"

Viran stared after him for a moment, reaching down underneath his sleeve; shortly thereafter, the window wall returned to its view of the gas giant far below. "Tell me," Keyes asked, "Do you know the significance of this position in orbit?"

It took a moment for Stan to understand what he was going after. Though he couldn't know for sure where the station was in relation to the planet below outside of a visual identification, the likelihood of any other historical event occurring in this particular sector in orbit around Arafa was limited, so he took a shot in the dark. "First contact."

"First contact with the Sar'Rithril," Keyes confirmed, pointing out towards a freighter moving past. "Not too far from where that ship is passing, believe it or not. I'm something of a history buff, see—you can't advance into the upper echelon of Caedis without a good working knowledge of the history of the Primareliqua, see."

"Yes, sir."

Keyes continued: "Two hundred and twenty five years ago, give or take a few months, a Sar'Rithril Harvest Ship was on its way into this sector. One ship changed the entire future of our world, of our civilization. Now, we want to do it again."

"Sir?"

Viran turned back towards him, rounding the desk as he spoke: "Canustunicas: the first joint-services team in the history of the Sidusclasse. All four branches represented in a single, unified command structure."

Stanislaus resisted the urge to stare after the Caedis commander, dumbfounded as he was. There were occasional partnerships between one branch and another, but never had all four been combined into one unique team. "That's..."

"Incredible? Yes, I know," Viran gloated. "My handiwork, see. We need to look beyond the current paradigm of our existence to the next horizon. For far too many years, the Sidusclasse has been stuck in the past, developing battle doctrines to meet the needs of a limited galactic purview. They are slowly beginning to press forward into a grander sphere of influence, but I don't like the rate at which they are evolving. I want to speed the process up."

Keirsey nodded, warming to the idea. "And how can I be of service, sir?"

"We have gained release authority from Cael to develop a new prototype Orbiter, the aforementioned Circen—she doesn't even belong to a specific class; her registry number is fabricated, even. With Auspex Crewse's ship, coupled with Indperator Sonneborn's reconnaissance team and Inquisitor McClenathan's special operations unit, we have the makings of a versatile Joint-Ops program. But we need a dedicated, battle-hardened soldier to lead ground troops in this endeavor. We want you to command the Aequor component of Canustunicas, Keirsey."

It took a few moments, but suddenly Stanislaus had a clearer picture; Viran wasn't ordering him to this assignment, he was pitching it to him. "I'm guessing, I have to volunteer first, don't I?"

Keyes didn't say anything for a few seconds: he just stared. "But we both know that wont be a problem, will it?"

Keirsey lingered on Keyes' last words, recognizing the truth in them. He loved the men under his command, and would be sad to leave to them. But the opportunity presented him here today was unprecedented—to assist in the command of the Sidusclasse's first joint-operations team. This project, 'Canustunicas', it could have been called the Pink Elephant's Club for all he was concerned. The fact of the matter was, he was only restraining himself to maintain the very same poise and countenance that Keyes could see through. Old habits died hard, but he didn't need to dwell very long on a final decision. If it came down to making history, or returning to Arx and his old command, then there was no choice in the matter. He was going to go, and it was as simple as that. He wanted to go. He needed to go.

Keyes wants an answer. So I'll give him an answer.

"No sir," Stanislaus answered finally. "I don't suppose it will."
TARRAGONIAVIEJAPORSIENPRE!
THEGRANDREPUBLICOFTARRAGONIA

The Right Honorable David Luis Salazar, President of Tarragonia

Capital City:Cala Seca, Distrito de AleixarDemonym:TarragonianPopulation:320 Million

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Phoenix Conclave
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Explosive Decompression Sucks

Postby Phoenix Conclave » Fri May 08, 2015 7:55 am

[ Mature ]

Explosive Decompression Sucks



Keren scrambled to reach the next section of the corridor before the pressure hatch closed. Ahead, Tenehk urged her onwards, occasionally looking up at the slowly descending hatch as if willing it to slow down just a little more. Both of them knew that the Shipmind was actively controlling it's descent, trying to allow the lupine time enough to reach the safety on the other side.

The two of them had not moments before been coordinating a team of servitors in containing a fire that had broken out as a result of weapons fire from the pirate ship. The same pirate ship which had jumped in alongside the Phoenix freighter and opened fire without any communication or offer to surrender. The first volley of kinetics were handled fairly well by the armored outer hull, but the following barrage of plasma bolts had done some serious damage. Keren had been knocked off her feet and thrown against the far bulkhead as the kinetics shook her section. Her Tejhiik partner had been the first to move when the Shipmind announced hull breaches in their section of the ship, and that further breaches were predicted within minutes in the very corridor she was then sprawled on. Still disoriented from hitting her head on the bulkhead earlier, she was slow to rise and begin running for the pressure hatch.

The very same pressure hatch which suddenly accelerated and slammed shut while she was no more than half a meter away. At first Keren felt shock and confusion as safety was snatched from her. When the groaning and hissing began, she knew that the Shipmind had detected the hull breach already in progress. Keren had taken too long, and the Shipmind had sealed the hatch to contain the breach. The Grawlkun slumped forwards against the cool surface of the hatch, staring into the wide eyes of Tenehk through the viewport. For her time seemed to slow down as her mental processing overclocked itself, the expert systems which controlled her implants and nano-immune system already at work preparing her body for hard vacuum. In slow motion Keren heard the sudden screech of torn hull and corridor paneling; felt the sudden pull as the atmosphere dragged her along on it's way out through the meter-wide gash in the side of the freighter; wondered at the equally sudden silence for half a second, before her mind caught up and understood that without atmo' there was no sound.

To Tenehk, just on the other side of the hatch, everything happened so suddenly. Only by internally playing back the scene at a slower speed could he see each individual event. Keren's face sagged into a defeated expression as she looked into his eyes. Behind her the bulkheads separating Keren from open space exploded outward, no longer able to contain the pressure of atmosphere. Keren's eyes widened as she was pulled backwards along with all the air, her body a ragdoll as she was dragged across the deck. Tenehk watched as a ragged shard of hull sliced through flesh and bone, severing Keren's right arm and leg. Then all three pieces of his lover were spinning outwards into the void, the pirate ship a silhouette behind her.

Outside the ship, Keren's view kept pitching as she spun end over end in the empty black, only the pirate, the freighter, and the nearby jovian the only things of note in her sight. Oh, and her severed limbs already drifting further and further from her body. In her overclocked state, she had time enough to be thankful that her autonomic systems had shut down her brain's pain center the moment her arm had been sliced off. Her body's repair and immune system was already at work sealing the veins and artery to prevent blood loss. Other systems were prioritizing oxygen distribution to conserve brain and sensory functions, her remaining arm and leg already numb. In the corner of her vision, a simulated clock was counting down rapidly towards zero, indicating the time she had for conscious thought, before her exocortex put her mindstate into stasis to await recovery. As the timer reached zero, Keren's final thoughts were first about Tenehk, then an irrational thought,
"Damn! I just got this body last week!"
Last edited by Phoenix Conclave on Fri May 08, 2015 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Democratic Socialists

Postby Phoenix Conclave » Sat May 09, 2015 3:20 pm

****************************************************************************************************
Motivation
****************************************************************************************************

"Why do you do it?"

Almost on reflex I blinked a few times in confusion, canting my head just slightly to the side, ears perked forwards. I could tell that patches of my facial fur were shifting color towards blue hues. Meeting Jason's eyes directly, the question still registering on his face. He must have gotten used to figuring out Reikoan body-language and fur colors because before I could ask, he explained the question.

"Why do you people do anything? The Exocortex, the Dataverse; any memory, any knowledge, any skill, all these are yours with a push of a button. So why do anything?" Jason's simple confusion and curiosity about Phoenixi culture was refreshing really. Already I had learned to steer well clear of Anderson and DiVries, both of whom seemed to despise me just for what she was; whether it was my being non-human, or essentially having a computer for a brain, I had never been able to figure out in the two months I've been aboard this freighter.
I, Esarn Taneth al Siddou, a young Reikoan am one of a growing number of Phoenixi who are serving aboard foreign transports and freighters that had secured valuable shipping contracts with the Conclave. The contracts, always made of four month terms, were the Conclave's latest effort to reach out to the larger galaxy. One of the failings of the old Morningstar Coalition had been it's isolationist approach towards shipping and trade, likely due to their origins as a paramilitary agency. Morningstar had never contracted foreign vessels for any shipping, had only rarely allowed foreign vessels near the Home Fleets. They had seemed split between wanting to join the galaxy, while also hiding from it.
Myself and my fellow 'Cultural Liason Officers' serve aboard the foreign ships for the duration of the contract, both to learn about those outside, and for those outside to learn about us. So far the program had been a success, with only a very few unfortunate incidents of course. In the two months of this second contract aboard the Celestis, a freighter for the small nation of Cordona, I had grown rather fond of Jason Matthews, the human sitting across the mess table from me. The man seemed genuinely fascinated by my people and their culture, something I was only too willing to indulge him in.

"I've told you about the Virtuals, yes?" When Jason nodded I continued, "In a way they are part of the answer to your question. They are the personalities which have embraced the ease of life offered by our technology. For the rest of us, or at least the Adaptives, we see life out here in the flesh as a challenge. Sure, we could simply upload anything we wanted to learn, but knowing something isn't the point as much as the effort put into learning something for ourselves. The same is true for why we bother exploring or trading or any of the many things our technology could make obsolete."

"I think I understand. There's an old quote, no clue who it was originally from though. It goes that the destination isn't nearly as important as the journey itself. Is that it?"

Jason tilted his head just slightly to the side, and I had to suppress a laught. He must've not only learned Reikoan mannerisms, but he's starting to mimic them too! I nodded in response and went on, "Yes, that's exactly it! The challenge and the effort put into accomplishment are the real prizes for us. It's why you'll see Phoenixi working at the restaurants aboard the Homeship, even though our food synthesis makes manual cooking seem pointless, though in that case it's also about enjoying the expression of skills we've learned on our own."

The way he looked at me as I explained... It was as if he wasn't looking at me so much as through me at the culture I represented. After a few seconds he shook his head and smiled, "There are probably billions of humans out there who, if offered the opportunity your technology permits, would probably become like your Virtuals. They would abandon the outside world in favour of their own perfect universes. I have to admit that the mere idea is tempting."

"We were born with our technology and abilities, so I suppose we don't have that same temptation as others." I sighed softly at the thought of all those billions of people suffering from pain, hunger, sickness, violence, and the myriad other ills brought upon by living in a world of want. It was too horrible an image to hold onto, and I banished it from my mind with a shake of my head, "There's been some debate in the Conclave about offering our technologies to other nations. Most seem to think it's a good idea, but there's plenty of support for the thought that it would cause more problems, for us and for them, than it would solve."

This information seemed to catch both his attention and interest immediately, "You mean there's a chance I could get the same kind of body as yours?" Almost as soon as the words were out of his mouth, his face lit up in an embarrassed blush, and I knew right off where his mind had wandered.

A playful grin spread across my muzzle as I leaned across the table to whisper in his ear, "You know that if you want my body all you have to do is ask." As I sat back down, still smiling wickedly, Jason's face became such a deep shade of red that I thought for a moment he might pass out from the blood pooling in his face. Standing up, I offered my hand to him, and when he took it I brushed the velvet fur of my tail across his arm and down his side, "C'mon. Let's go practice some more cultural exhange, shall we?"

His expression was all the answer I needed as we both walked out of the mess towards my quarters...

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Heliocalypse
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Ex-Nation

Postby Heliocalypse » Sun May 10, 2015 5:28 am

The Project - Research Log 11

"To advance means to risk. To risk means to go into the unknowns. To unknowns means...." - Unknown


Day 1211 of the Experiment, 174th Aclardian Cycle. Today brings yet another fresh beginning, fresh day and of course a fresh experiment. Status reported that Test Subject 12 to 17 have been successfully inducted into the program after the Foundation managed to coax the Authority on the necessity of the Project. Funding for the Project is determined to be sufficient until 215th Cycle although the cumulative credit status cannot be verified until progress on the Project can be accurately derived. Earlier Test Subjects were relieved from the Experiment as per General Director orders to preserve the integrity of the whole Project. The end result of each Test Subject before the 12th is recorded as the following.

  1. Test Subject 1 cannot withstand Type A infusion, generating intrusive behaviour. Test Subject 1 was subjected under Recycler Program and successfully decontaminated.

  2. Test Subject 2 managed to withstand until Type F infusion which the biological signature of Test Subject 2 ceased for several Cycles until sudden spike of activity. Due to higher weighted risk calculations, Test Subject 2 was also inducted into the Recycler Program. Conversion was successful.

  3. Test Subject 3 failed to retain integrity after Type G infusion. Emergency protocols allowed Test Subject 3 to be in-animated from further activity. General Director ordered Test Subject 3 to be delivered to Star Lem as conversion was no longer feasible. Delivery successful.

  4. Test Subject 4 was found to exhibit closest theoretical predictions although integrity rapidly falls as soon as Test Subject 4 was subjected to high gravity conditions. Application of Recycler Program seemed to be successful though to be on the safe side, Test Subject 4 was delivered to Star Lem. Delivery successful.

  5. Test Subject 5 do not achieve what was predicted in theoretical calculations but the stability of Test Subject 5 was found promising. An unexpected incident caused the Experiment on Test Subject 5 to cease. Test Subject 5 signatures have mysteriously vanished.

  6. Test Subject 6 withstand until Type J infusion before exhibiting interesting psychological symptoms. Test Subject 6 complained the non-existent Test Subject 5 is still alive and is bothering Test Subject 5. Due to security concerns, Test Subject 6 and the containment cell was delivered to Star Lem. Delivery successful.

  7. No infusion was administered to Test Subject 7 but footage of previous Test Subjects were shown to Test Subject 7. Interesting neurological and electromagnetic activities were recorded revolving Test Subject 7. Test Subject 7 was inducted into the Recycler Program but the conversion wasn't successful. For safety reasons, the Recycler and recorded materials were detached and delivered to Star R5, some two cycles away. Delivery successful.

  8. Test Subject 8 was administered a new therapy regime with a fresh start to avoid failure of previous Test Subjects. Test Subject 8 was last seen generating an interesting potential but similar to Test Subject 5, Test Subject 8 have vanished without a trace. General Director ordered the Project to be relocated to minimise external stellar influences from affecting the Project.

  9. Insufficient space conditions have made trials on Test Subject 9 rather difficult. A substitute facility was built around Kolosh Jovian, identified to be far from known space activities. As soon as the facility was operational, unusual energy signature was detected from Test Subject 9. An unexpected photo-disintegration event caused by an unknown cause have forcibly terminated trials on Test Subject 9.

  10. Test Subject 10 was found to be most stable compared to previous Test Subjects even though the performance levels aren't the same with Test Subject 5. Interesting bio-electric phenomenon was noted and a developing photo-disintegration event was successfully contained. Test Subject 10 however do not survive post-transition and found to have indifferent biomass form. Several Staffs were found failed to report to duty. The whole facility was sent to Star Lem and delivery was successful. It's suggested that some Staffs had gotten a bit too close with Test Subject 10.

  11. Test Subject 11 was found to be more stable from the last but Test Subject 11 complained Test Subject 1 to 10 have come to bother Test Subject 11 in some form. Interestingly, all previous Test Subjects were either decontaminated or subjected to stellar conditions thus unlikely to survive in physical form. Progress reports from Test Subject 11 managed to save the Project although Test Subject 11 terminated by itself. Further data is unavailable until new Test Subjects are inducted into the Project.
From the elaborated status detail, it can be suggested that Type A to J infusion regime was moderately successful to induce discernible biological changes although psychosomatic instabilities have resulted in either a swift or interestingly energetic event. A change of Experiment variables was noted to improve the conditions of additional Test Subjects, particularly the switch of the location but trace failures remained. The failures were unusually energetic and unexpected and some Staffs have suggested it might have relations to the Memetic Theorem. General Director however considered the theorem as superstition and ordered complete replacement of Project Staffs although this was also moderately successful.

This is particularly evident with Test Subject 9 experiment where Project Staffs reported unusual anomalies surrounding the Test Subjects and themselves. While most of the anomalies can be suppressed at a certain extent, it was found that suppression wasn't ultimately successful as Test Subject 9 have been compromised by unknown causes and thus was forcibly terminated. General Director ordered yet another personnel change and current personnel was subjected to delivered to Star Lem to reduce potential interference for Test Subject 10 trials.

The difference was noticable with Test Subject 10 where previous physical manifestations were reduced to a great extent except the mental instability suffered by Test Subject 10 due to unknown causes. The Foundation decided to intervene and thus all associated material to the Project was forcibly terminated, including the acting General Director. A new Project was started with Test Subject 11 to avoid the repeat of previous failures. Test Subject 11 was found to be the most stable piece out of the whole Project albeit as per status report, Test Subject 11 terminated by itself.

Thus it's recommended for further advancement of the Project, four or five more candidates will be inducted into the Project blindly, to avoid any interference or unexplained phenomenons from affecting the new batch. It's expected the Authority would not approve the Foundation plan and thus the new Project Staffs are expected to continue the Project in solitary mode. While the risks of running afoul of the Authority is great, the chances are also great. A successful cure on one patient would work on all of humanity. It's recommended that the Project continue under double blind conditions, to minimise external influences despite higher degree of risk.
Last edited by Heliocalypse on Sun May 10, 2015 5:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Kyrusia
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Capitalizt

Postby Kyrusia » Mon May 18, 2015 1:23 am

Smoke and Mirrors
The lost can only be found under their own volition.
[ Future Technology ]

"We are always striving for things forbidden, and coveting those denied us." — Ovid, Amorum

A thousand painful memories painted on a canvas pristine and unmarred; a story of hardship told only in secret, like lovers' whispers. A song sung for no one in tune to a melody of melancholy and a timbre of despair; it took every drop of will in her body to stare into the reflection of a woman she no longer recognized. When had she vanished? Where had she gone? It was a martyr's symphony, played in silence in the copse of some theater constructed of hopes false and reminiscent wonder left romanticized and gilded. For far too long, she knew, that had been enough; even as the plaster decayed and the instruments went without care, a spare coat of paint here, a bit of fresh mortar there: it had sustained her. It had kept her alive for years; years of suffering in silence, alone, lost, confused, and bedazzled by the fantastical sights crafted to distract her, to dissuade her, from the horrors beyond that place of decay and rot - beyond the walls of that self-made tomb.

This woman's eyes were dead, glazed, and stared back at her without the life they once had - without the love that she had seen, had felt, and had kindled. The woman, with hair that fell across her shoulders, framing her body in a border of maroon, alluring and covetous, was the cannibal of hope - a wishing well without bottom or end. For years, she had poured her dreams, her wishes, her every desire spoken only in her most secluded of paces; they had all fallen, lost in the darkness and the cold, drifting and floating beyond sight, sound, and grasp. She had sacrificed one dream - true and sound - for the possibility of another; she had sacrificed love for freedom, and found herself in the very primacy of servitude by consequence. She had never known freedom - true freedom - and, as she stood, looking at the woman whose eyes were like ice, she wondered if it was that ignorance that had made it so easy to confuse love as service and abandonment as freedom - a folly of both heart and mind.

Kha'aj gave a subtle whine beyond the door, causing her to shift her eyes from the woman that stood before her; as if she had seen through the wooden embellishment, the hound quieted and stilled. Once more, she drifted her vision back to the woman with the violent-as-night hair, bound in braids high and six in splay. It was customary for the slave, of course: the saalebu'niik, the six braids which marked the household property as owned and within service. 'Why did you keep them?' she asked, knowing there was no answer from the glass and nickel. Of course, she knew the answer: 'Habit. Like everything in this life, it is a thing of habit - braids for the branded.'

As if on cue, the woman reached back and unfastened the small, metallic rings which held the braids taunt and bound, ringing her fingers through the strands, unleashing the nearly-pitch mane to fall free across her nape and back. It ran nearly to the bend of her spine, let grown long and burdensome. 'Why?' she asked, but knew, 'Because you died long ago, and the dead have no concerns. It's rot, just like her eyes; it's just death painted pretty.' Long dead, merely waiting to be buried; abandoned and bereft of love once deserved, a macabre, tragic burlesque like the theater of hopes and wishes in her mind. It was a wonder, she mused, how it hadn't fallen yet - how it hadn't been burned by terror and torture, left like ash in the breeze.

Reaching forward, she grabbed the wide-bottomed bottle of havajn, tilting it back and allowing the sweet, anise-flavored, burgundy gait slide past her lips to kindle in her throat and beneath her lungs. It burned, like she knew it would, but she continued, clenching her throat, then releasing, swallowing one, two, three great rapids of the scintillating tincture into her gut - her eyes still locked on the cairns of the woman before her. When the bottle found itself to the edge of the pedestal sink before her, slipping, and toppling onto the wood work below, she didn't flinch. 'It's yours,' she said in herself, 'Why should you care? No one is here to lash you with whip or tongue; you are your own, for once.' She noted the faint smolder in the strange woman's eyes, but did not comment to the walking corpse, because it couldn't care, and she knew it never would again.

As she found hands roaming amidst her hair, it was the desert stain of rusted silt that left its breath behind. That theater of the mind, that sanctuary of false dreams, shuddered and groaned as the curtains rustled and the plaster began to crack; it was all a trick, a little game of magic the woman played - it had always been. It had never protected her, never shielded her, never kept the demons at bay nor held back the pain of the world as it was from the world she dreamed. 'There is no room for dreams in this waking nightmare,' she knew. Even so, the hands continued to roam, and maroon became first scarlet, then rust, rapidly shifting to the tone of the desert earth of her adopted home - of the home she had worn the yoke for, the home she had been willing to die for in visions of mercy and the divine. 'That is the way the world is,' she spoke in the theater of woe, 'This? This is not the world. There are no fantastic plays to be performed nor songs to be sung for those unwilling to portray, for those unwilling to sing their own.'

Even as the plaster fell and the great, wooden skeleton of that place became exposed, her romance did not fade. Even amidst the desecration of a sanctum of self-deceit, one light was true, and it shown like the thousands-count-thousands of suns upon one figure, a figure despite self-made grace and the light of epiphany, that was garbed in shadow and robed in occultation. 'You've been given this chance, child,' she knew the woman whose body was rot, whose mind was broken, and whose heart was shattered asunder, could not speak, 'You can see it; you know its path, but you cannot be made to follow it spare from your own will. Now choose the choice you were unwilling to make years ago.'

Looking as tears fell down her cheeks, even though the dead do not cry, she saw the woman as whom she once was - of whom she chose to be. The woman who had left the Medicean Stars for the bands of the black, had found love and left it beside the road in pursuit of a dream she could not have, and the woman who found herself under the biting brutality of a master whom knew her only as chattel, and another whom was a mother she could know. Once, she knew, she had been that woman: that woman with dead, chilled eyes that stared back at her across the porcelain from a glass pane as lifeless as the flesh it portrayed. 'She cannot do this,' she spoke to herself as her eyes - stinging and biting with memory and pity - wandered to the hanging spindle of film stuck haphazard against the glass. She saw a woman she knew, the woman she was with her, the very object of desire left long ago, immortalized in film in an embrace and a kiss shared between two dreamers and idealists who knew no better.

'Now you know better,' her voice echoed, 'Make your choice, or abandon yourself at last.' The words she wondered into being stung and ached in the pit of her stomach, even as the girl with the flaming red hair stared back at her and smiled. "I promised—" she broke, "I promised I wouldn't run again - that I wouldn't run away. And I won't. I won't run away again; I can't."

Her hands - the dead woman's hands - fought for purchase as hair stained in streaks of silt flayed and ran wild. Quickly amidst the pile of discarded clothes that pooled amongst her feet, she found her gift: the blade, a kal'usult, was what had won her freedom, what had been her tool of strength - guided by hands maternal and intent divine - to bring forth from her the smoldering fire that dwelt beneath death. It was long, and curved back upon itself in a tableau of arabesque artistry and a grip of molded ivory. It was, in truth, her torch; small and diminutive in the light of the Endless, but it was hers, and it would be the lodestone from which she divined her course and the Path. 'The justice of the hunt,' played over in her mind like a mantra.

Hair in hand, she pressed the blade against her mane and jerked; a river of stained maroon fell free and the dead woman's eyes smoldered. She let the hair fall away, let the death of a life lost fall, and gripped once more; slash, cut, carve, and saw, she freed herself of the old burdens of years, ever while the eyes that stared back at her own began to thaw as the pillars of a pageantry of lies began to crumble. The curtains and veils of romanticism that had shielded her for so many years came aflame in that sanctum of her thoughts like dried tinder to a spark, ripples of the conflagration bowing and bending and dancing-out to consume all of her memories tainted by prevarication and out-right self-denial. 'You facilitated mass murder; you helped men rip babes from their mothers' breasts and cave them against steel,' she gave in litany, 'You denied the truth for years because you were afraid - you were too much of a coward to face the hangman's noose.'

It was true, she knew, as she stared into those eyes that screamed as the flame brought warmth - brought purity - to their icy gaze. She had helped them at Goodchild; she had went with them, had let man, woman, and child die while ferrying the wounded butchers. 'It would have been more honest to do the work yourself,' she told herself, 'And now you have. Now, you see, there can be justice in murder just as there can be butchery. You were once a butcher's apprentice, and you have become the hangman.' She had felled her without a moment's pause; her head had lolled back and her eyes wept of betrayal, of confusion. As her hair became a cut and splayed cropping atop her shoulders, she knew she had made her decision then - not now. 'Now's just the realization,' the voice of her mind grinned, 'This world is nightmare, but even horror can teach a lesson.'

"I've learned through this pain," she uttered to the reflection before her, slicing free at last. Adjusting, she allowed her hands to find the porcelain of the sink before her, her knuckles rung white as the ivory of the grip they held. Above, she looked down at her; yet, in truth, it was amidst the ashes of that place that she stood, radiant still amongst the cinders and the shallow wall of stone that seemed to rise and build itself even yet. Beneath the ash was sand, just as that reflection once of death now forbade eyes smoldering and flesh alight like the fire. Looking up to that figure whose face was but shape in the shadows, Smoke paused.

"I have done horrible things in this life," she uttered, both to the thin layer of film and the figure obscured that dwelt within her mind, lit by a beacon - or the beacon itself, she could not ascertain. "I have made this nightmare worse because of it," she spoke again, "but I have a chance. Someone... Something... The Flame, the Huntress - I don't know - decided I deserved it, whether I thought I did or not." There were no tears in her eyes, only the flame, and that gave her strength in the gholgotha of her sanctum laid bare and razed. "I just know," she continued, "that you are my secret fire."

With a jerk, she ripped the last picture from the band of six, looking down at the woman whom sat like a doll across her lap, arms tangled about the neck of the woman she once was: "I will find you, Faora. If I have to march, if I have to make this world a hell moreover, I will find you; even if I am damned to burn, I will find you before I do.

"I promise."
Last edited by Kyrusia on Mon May 18, 2015 1:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Taledonia
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Founded: Jan 08, 2005
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Taledonia » Sun May 31, 2015 2:01 pm

[ The Good Doctor of Xedillian ]

[ Mature ]



You ask me why, and, being in a benign and jovial mood, I shall answer as best I can. Bear in mind, however, that the truth will hinge upon the recollection of my deeds and accomplishments, and if you will follow my tale soberly, you might glimpse a fragment of the workings I pursue.

Let me begin by assuring you that my youth was most ordinary and relatable. My father was of Teutonic stock and provided the family with a good living through the ownership of several merchant vessels plying the waters between Can and Dwemarth; whilst my mother, a golden angel whose throaty-purr of an accent spoke of Ancient Gaul, presided over my siblings and me at our small but comfortable country home west of Dunwich. From an early age I displayed an affinity for mathematics and the sciences, earning the praise of our instructor, but it was biology that really carried my fancy, particularly in the fields of genetics and hybridization. Over a thousand years we've been orbiting this blue star of ours, and yet only in the last century of so have we made any progress towards a harmonious co-existence with the local ecosystems. Where once we toiled to supplant the native fauna with Terran stock, we now have hybrids thriving and producing untold benefits to our society; the excellent and exotic wines coming from the slopes of Mist being one of the very best. My parents were most supportive of my interests, and spared no expense in ensuring me admission to the best medical university the Consortium can offer, where I spent my teenage years joyously delving into the workings and functions of both living creatures and plant-life.

As my twenty-fifth year came around I was the recipient of a doctorate in medicine, with accompanying degrees in microbiology, genetic-therapy and chemical engineering, securing me a position at one of the most lucrative and prestigious gene-bath's of the time. It is a hallmark of our civilization that we undertake eugenics programs to ensure the absolute best genetic heritage by manipulating and dosing the pregnant mother's body and womb with all sorts of cells and alimentary D.N.A sequences, as nature has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted with evolution at such high levels of being. My professional career flourished, but my mind grew restless. Beauty, strength, healthy grey-matter and strong immune systems, even selected eye and hair colours for those who could afford it, all seemed so insignificant. People were more concerned with perfecting their current form that true evolution and transcendence weren't even considered!

As I mentioned, my profession provided me with a more than adequate living. To say that I was wealthy was not an idle boast. Those who could afford the baths on their own would never consider straying from normality, vain fools that they are, so I discreetly began inquiries into the less affluent neighbourhoods. Many shunned my proposals, but a few desperate or greedy souls found my monetary donations far too tempting, and besides, I assured them, my experimentation would only elevate their offspring to higher forms of living. Still, my subjects were few, and the nature of my modifications would be frowned upon by my superiors, so I did as much as I dared to each fetus. An extra opposable thumb on each hand, filters and channels in the nose to allow normal breathing in even the most poisonous or dust chocked air, and even elongated limbs that most would call grotesque but that I regarded as eminently practical. Not all of my experiments succeeded, of course, and many resulted in stillbirths or miscarriages, while those that were carried to term had the unfortunate luck of weak-minded mothers who smothered their infants shortly after taking them home. Complaints were made, rumors started, and a mark placed upon my name. Dismissal followed in short order, and with a whispered association to macabre grotesqueries and reports of infanticide, securing employment became a challenge. For two years I lingered in my home, occupying myself with hybridizing various flowers and vegetables, while simultaneously becoming somewhat engrossed with the dissection and study of lizards, whose superior pineal glands excited in me vague imaginings of opening up mankind's own "third-eye." However by this time my fortune was fairly depleted.

After the sale of my home, with the only true loss being my extensive library and home laboratory, I took a room at a small but clean inn near Arkham's space elevator, and immediately fell in with the proprietor, a middle aged man of some learning who hid away a respectable wine cellar. It was through this honest man that I learned of the Whately Mining Installation in orbit of the gas giant Xedillian, and their need of a physician. A small, relatively new outfit, the hours would be long and the pay meager, but it just so happened that the good proprietor's son was our own dear Thomas Hill, the beautiful young pianist who kept us all enchanted in the lounge during off hours. I shouldn't need to remind you, for often I remarked you having a drink at the bar, and truly no words can describe the wonder of his art. Such symphonies as never were heard before. Such swelling of emotion and themes as complex as any human feeling or thought. I was enchanted from the first, completely swept away in a maelstrom of admiration and wonder, and I will admit freely that it was not simply with his immense talent that I was enamored. His soft, boyish features and delicate, almost feminine grace captivated me as he sat at his piano; I should say that I had never understood the concept of love until that moment.

The workers of Whately's were representations of what small wages bring. An assortment of dunces who would flood my office with injuries and ailments of all kinds, real or imagined. But you could not dislike them, good natured, simple folk that they were. I pitied them, in a way. The victims of parents who disdained the gene-baths during conception and pregnancy and left their progeny to fate. I believe your parents had greater sense, didn't they? Though at this time I am ashamed to say that it never occurred to me to assist these poor unfortunates, so enraptured was I in my burgeoning relationship with Tom. Since it was he who put in my credentials, on the prompting of his dear father whom I'd left with one of my experimental grape varieties as recompense, our acquaintance was made extremely easily. Whenever we had a spare moment it was consumed in passionate discourse and fiercely intense love making, but one night, as I sat watching his delicate fingers play over the keys of the piano, my mind leapt with inspiration! My poor patients, given none of the advantages available them in the physical world, could be the vanguards of a spiritual enlightenment! I could bequeath upon them the glories of the soul to balm their physical shortcomings.

Familiar as I was with the effects of chemical stimulants on the brain, particularly psychedelics, I also remembered the ancient Terran myths associated with the spirit world. Hindus, in particular, believed man but needed to open his third-eye to gaze upon the mysteries of the magical soul, and through my research, I knew exactly where resided this mystical organ known to the wise savages of elder times. It was the pineal gland of which I was so familiar!

Immediately I set to work, creating various chemical mixtures which I administered under the guise of pain suppressants. The effects were promising, with several men experiencing intense bouts of hallucination in which they recited the most interesting experiences. Even Tom, to whom I admitted the goals of my experimentation, demonstrated remarkable inspiration and began composing works unheard of in scale and complexity, but whose variances and tempos gave it the most intricate and beautiful blends of sounds as I have ever heard; almost otherworldly were the tones that reached my ears, if indeed I heard them through my ears. However, the unfortunate side effects of my concoctions resulted in paralyses, blindness and loss of other senses, and in the worst cases, death. Tom was spared, of course, due to greater diligence and an unwillingness to attempt the more experimental doses on him.

It wasn't difficult to imagine believable causes and afflictions to conceal my efforts from official reports, and as those invalidated by my failures were returned to their families, new recruits poured steadily into the mining installation in orbit of the gas giant Xedillian. After months of trials and refining my solutions, I reached the extent of what pharmacology could produce: a semi-lucid state akin to lucid-dreaming, and recorded the mixed results from the far-away ramblings of my test subjects. Most imagined themselves floating through the spectral nebula of the Kereth system, attesting that they could feel the cosmic gasses against their flesh; others wept as they sat in an empty void without light, smell, sound or sense of direction. It wasn't enough, not by far, but I would not fail in my task. This was not simply to brighten the lives of my patients, but to pioneer the next stage in human evolution. The next step, then, was surgery.

Coming up with excuses and reasons to operate was easy at first, the workmen completely trusting of those with higher education, particularly physicians who knew the mysteries of the body, but management became concerned. Too many men were resigned to bed for recovery, while the amount of fatalities was beginning to reach worrying levels. "Hard to hire people who think of you as a death sentence," was how they put it, and implored that I should be more careful at the operating table, as if they thought me a second-rate thug with a knife who did not make every incision precisely and with the utmost care!

I decided to start small: synthesizing connections between the pineal gland and the common sensory organs, with mixed results. Some men experienced nothing, while others reported hearing strange sounds or seeing vague impressions superimposed upon reality. A strange tingling sensation, as if of static electricity, was a common complaint. Spurred on by this early success, I became bolder in my approach, subjecting the pineals of my semi-conscious patients to various direct stimuli. Just as with those reptiles and amphibians whose third-eye sits outside their skulls, the human pineal gland was very photosensitive, and almost all patients reported having strange visions as I cycled through various light spectrums. The only mar against my efforts was a tendency for my patients to either faint, scream in abject horror and loathing, or suffer strokes and brain hemorrhages if I continued my experimentation beyond thirty minutes.

The breakthrough came not more than thirty hours ago, when I was working on a man who had come in with a crushed hand. Tom happened to be in the other room, his newest concerto filtering into the room through a speaker system he'd rigged so that I could listen while I worked, and after anesthetizing my patient, repairing his broken hand and beginning my experiments within his brain, I had become so enraptured by the melody that I had completely lost track of time. For two hours did I listen to the man describe a cosmic vista to me as I stimulated his pineal gland. He spoke of a strange land of cyclopean proportions, whose strange geometry did not provide one with a sense of up or down or even forwards of backwards. It was enough to drive a man mad, the things he whispered to me in his far-away, drug-slurred speech, and yet he kept saying how it was alright, how everything could be navigated by following the music. It wasn't until Tom stopped playing that everything changed. The poor man's eyes suddenly became alive with fright, his body began to convulse in spasmodic jerking, and from his mouth was elicited the most inhuman cry of anguish that I have ever heard. You must remember it, for it was that very scream that brought you running into the office at that unlucky moment. There I was, with a dead man whose brain was revealed despite being in for a crushed hand.

Obviously I had to work quickly, before you could summon the installations security and have me detained. They would surely execute me for the supposed crimes of murder, ignorant of the greater picture. I'm sure you do not even see it now, despite all I have told you. So I did what I had to, fashioning a nerve gas which I injected into the air filtration unit to be distributed throughout the entire facility. Only Tom and I were immune and able to take precautions against the drug which rendered everyone else unconscious and in deep, peaceful sleep. I had entertained the notion of staying there, simply keeping you all asleep and waking you one by one as the situation called, but it would never work. Transports would arrive with crewmen and holds to be filled with cargo. Investigators would be called. So I did the only thing I could: I sent out a coded message to any of the nearby pirate organizations in the area. You know as well as I that Kereth swarms with the vermin; they've even taken a few of our own shipments destined to the Consortium's markets. It was an easy sell, what with an entire mining installation and its equipment and haul sitting ripe for the picking with everyone already neutralized within. They came quickly, spread throughout the station collecting all that they cared for, including the few young courtesans that appear anywhere large congregations of men are trapped far from home with their paychecks, and payed me handsomely for the take. They even provided me with this ship as a thank you, though some thanks it is. A small, decrepit transport that will likely break apart any minute now. But I really can't complain, for my purse is large enough to commission a small facility of my own, the hold is full of Whately's workers, bound and ready for my unhampered experimentation, and I now have rough contacts adept at concealing my whereabouts and activities.

I'm sorry, sir, but I've stalled long enough. Do you feel this? No? Good, that means the solution is adequately dispersed within your bloodstream. Now in a few moments I'm going to ask you what you see, and no matter what you see, hear, smell or touch, don't forget to follow the music.

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Timsatta
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Posts: 6
Founded: Jan 20, 2015
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Timsatta » Mon Jun 01, 2015 5:31 pm

The Moulted Snake
~---------------------------------~


The Mispani̱r Flotortétaíki̱ cast a long shadow over the planet beneath it. A veritable host of combat and support vessels, the Tí̱msátthan splinter fleet had made its presence felt in several campaigns before the FOREP Company had even settled the little world it called Aedea. Like a pack of fat vultures, the fleet circled the planet, with the occasional shuttle ascending or descending to or from its ranks. Every few orbits as the fleet passed over the Typhorean continent, it would thunder silently as a fire mission was called from the surface. The fleet was, all told, having an incredibly easy time of the war. Gone were the initial skirmishes in orbit, and certainly passed were previous campaigns against opposing forces that could marshal more than a handful of corvettes, frigates and strike craft. The fleet was not without its scars.

Litáko Sýmí̱r had some time to ruminate on the histories and honours of Mispani̱r as his ship approached to rendezvous with the fleets’ orbital path. They appeared first as faint dots against the greens, browns and blues of Aedea, then as indistinct shapes. At last even the painted marks of pride could be admired on the great hulls of the warships. Some non-Mispani̱r ships, corporate cutter vessels, flitted about the fleet, dwarfed by the larger warships. The Mispani̱r fleet was on contract, but in space it was clearly providing the muscle behind the operation to assert order on Aedea. From the well-armoured command module in the heart of his diminutive corvette, the Ftouro̱, Sýmí̱r watched the fleet pass by. He ignored the chatter between his communications operator and a fleet traffic controller, instead setting his sights on Aedea itself as the last ship fell behind the limits of the forward optical modules gaze. The light greens and gentle browns of the inner-Typhorean continent crept towards the ship eerily, what had first been the breadbasket of the system, and then the realization of the Revolutionary, agrarian Aedean ideal, had become a warzone. The Ftouro̱ descended into the Aedean atmosphere, another barrage from orbit landed less than thirty kilometres from the intended landing site; the Aedean revolutionary experiment would be over within a month.

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The mid-afternoon sun cast a blistering heat on the town without a name. All things being equal in a warzone, it was a nice day; cool air, warm sun and relative quiet. The front lines were moving forward, and a town that had housed some two thousand people had become little but a waypoint for fresh forces passing through, and a temporary home for elements of the security forces. All the trucks, tanks and every vehicle between passed by an uprooted road sign; thrown some twenty meters away from its original post. The sign had been displaced before Tylaís Dýnogós had arrived in town; it was the first thing his boots touched as he left the back of the truck he’d rode in on. The sign wasn’t even readable at that point, just a sheet of blackened and twisted metal.

Vehicle after vehicle sped through the town, and from his perch on the roadside Tylaís counted them. Tí̱msátta, FOREP and other private military contractors; the range of vehicles was almost as vast as the differences between their crews. The only thing linking the force together was a payslip, not one soldier cared for some broader ideology, or was enthused with a counter-revolutionary spirit. The vehicles kept rolling by. Tylaís sighed peacefully, not long before another hellish barrage echoed off in the distance, responding to a handful of rockets that had fallen some two and a half miles short of the town only an hour before. After a half hour of watching the gears of the war machine turn, Tylaís struggled to remember what it was he’d been meaning to do when he’d left the shelter. When at the workplace, free time was a rarity; Tylaís had never found a meaningful use for it.

“Si̱matos!”

Tylaís rose. He recognized the voice as one of his own men; Neatí̱m Mántýr. The junior soldier had accounted for himself well in the campaign, being promoted not long after it was commenced; Mántýr now served as Agékatos, sub-commander to Tylaís. Tylaís mirrored his inferiors salute. Typical of the men staying in the town, Mántýr’s well-polished armour was a far cry from the rather earthen look he’d sported when he arrived in town. Tylaís nodded for Mántýr to proceed.

“Personnel from off-world to see you, Si̱matos; a Kahroniápoll. He said he would meet you at the field shrine.”

Tylaís waved the Agékatos away. The meeting had been something he had anticipated for some time; he considered that its timing, near the end of the campaign, was no coincidence. Tucking his helmet underarm, Tylaís took his first step towards the shrine, nudging away something light with the tip of his boot. Looking down, he found the book he’d meant to start reading a full half hour prior; he tucked it in his helmet. A FOREP soldier in dress fatigues passed by and gave the fully armoured Tylaís a quizzical look. Amongst themselves, the FOREP men talked of how the Tí̱msátta never went outside without their armour, some even said that they died if parted from their suits for too long. Tylaís smirked after the man had passed. What the FOREP men didn’t know was that their allies’ suits had air conditioning. Tylaís looked over his shoulder just for the satisfaction of watching the corporate mercenary wipe the sweat from his brow.

The Tí̱msátta had only a small infantry force camped in the town, mostly men partly rotated out of frontline combat as the lines advanced. They remained close enough to the front that they could be called in on short notice, but otherwise were well outside the range of the artillery the Revolutionaries were known to possess. In any case, proximity to warfare was an accepted commonality of life in the Mispani̱r Flotortétaíki̱. Mispani̱r were tradesmen like any other Tí̱msátta, and so kept close to the places where they could ply their trade. Residing near their place of work, they bought their culture with them, and took it with them when trade moved elsewhere. Although less lavish than the shrines aboard most of the ships of the fleet, the field shrine served its purpose. Externally, it was little to speak of, it was like most buildings in the town, a prefabricated construction designed to house either agricultural workers, company men, or vehicles; in this instance, it had once stored a tractor.

Plain, inoffensive, corporate.

Entering through the side door, Tylaís put his helmet down and unslung his rifle; leaving both by the door. Four rifles were lined side by side with his own. Entering the main chamber of the garage, Tylaís was confronted by a dim, unearthly light that illuminated all but the corners of the room, which was large enough to accommodate at maximum some thirty people. The light glittered brilliantly on the golden patterns of the ornate rug that had been put down, and to the sides of the room it was caught on the metal of the incense holders, most of which lay empty in the early hours of the afternoon. A screen had been set up at the far end of the room, with speakers wired all around the walls, and a pair of semi-circular, portable barriers had been erected, with icons of many of the Kisáttvas held in compartments. Three Tí̱msátthan soldiers were low before their icons, their knees on rests. The one closest to the door held his head low, perhaps, Tylaís thought, in contemplation. The one in the middle of the room prostrated before the icon of Chapoiókó, whilst the third kneeled with his back fully straight, reading in hushed tone from a tiny prayer scroll he evidently carried with him, although as Tylaís passed him, he noted the less-than-youthful soldier seemed to be in a trance. Tylaís knew that the fourth man in the room, his head bowed in deference to the rest of the shrine, was the Kahroniápoll. If nothing else, he wore armour that no Mispani̱r would ever be issued; a heavily modified Vríspá suit.

“Dásí̱ta.” Tylaís approached the corner of the room the Hunter had made his own. Slowly, the Kahroniápoll nodded, and blinked open his eyes.

“Tylaís Dýnogós, I assume.” he gestured for his junior to be at ease; “My name is Litáko Sýmí̱r. I’ll keep this as brief as it needs to be. You will be pleased to learn that your candidacy for the Kahroniátheí, and your performance in the trials have been considered.”

The moment that Tylaís had anticipated for a year and a half was coming. Sýmí̱r left the sentence hanging for an uncomfortable few seconds; he seemed distracted. Eventually he continued.

“Pending your acceptance of its offer, the Kósmi̱tikó wills that you depart the Mispani̱r after completing your current deployment among them, and with all due haste find your way to Apatría to commence your extended training among the ranks of the Kahroniátheí.”

There it was, the culmination of years of service. Every order given, every pull of the trigger and every fusillade charged into had been leading, one way or another, to the offer of joining the Kahroniátheí. Unparalleled amongst all the individual warriors of the fleet, the right hand of the Kósmi̱tikó, the finest hunters in the universe; to be a Kahroniápoll was an honour that every Tí̱msátta that lived by combat aspired to at some point in his life.

“This is as short as it need be.” Sýmí̱r said, his eyes unfocused, flickering in the reflection of the all-permeating glow of the shrine.

“I accept, dásí̱ta.” Tylaís suppressed the inane grin threatening to break his composed expression. With a curt nod, Sýmí̱r clicked open one of the storage compartments on his hip.

“Good.” he said, unsurprised. He passed a finger-sized data drive to Tylaís; “This contains instructions for your necessary preparations.” He stopped again, sniffing.

“Vóneménikýth…” Sýmí̱r said lightly, repeating the word once; “The incense. Surprising. Walk with me.” Tylaís did as he was commanded. Both men stopped to retrieve their helmets and rifles on the way out, and Sýmí̱r gave Tylaís’ helmet a nudge of his boot; “The book?” Tylaís remembered that he had left the book in his helmet, he had yet to give it the attention it was due.

Meditations on the Trail of Agósapátas.” he replied, earning an approving nod from his superior.

“I had thought, from your profile and performance in the trails, that you would be a good choice. You may yet fail to complete your training, or you may die before…” Sýmí̱r walked into the baleful glare of the afternoon sun, with Tylaís in tow; “…this campaign concludes. Should you find yourself among our ranks as a fully-fledged Kahroniápoll, I have an offer for you to consider. I am one of many in the Kahroniátheí on pálatí̱mir, and my circle has a specific mission, one which we are always looking to pass on to those with the youth to continue after we cannot…”

“A pálatí̱mir, for what?” Tylaís cautiously inquired, warranting the nod that he was learning to be a quirk of Sýmí̱r. The specifics of his quest were, of course Sýmí̱rs’ business, but that did little to dissuade Tylaís’ compulsion to ask.

“Yes, in search of the Dóxosapátas, I assume, then, you are aware of us?”

“The Pálatí̱mirpoll Covenant of the Trail of Mánadóxos!” Tylaís tone was duly in awe, his expression blank. Sýmí̱r sighed wearily.

“You know, we’re fine with being called the Mánadóxopolls for a reason…”

Tylaís tried his very best to look unawed; “Sorry, dásí̱ta; your people are…something of a legend…I grew up with stories of the feats your Covenant has accomplished on pálatí̱mir, if you’ll forgive me for, uh…”

For the first time in the short while since he had first met him, Tylaís saw the elder Kahroniápolls’ wrinkled, leathery features crawl into something resembling a smile, although the change in demeanour did little to discourage Sýmí̱r from nodding calmly.

“That’s the problem with legends, we sometimes turn out to be true…”

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Serukta Sehkrisaal
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Founded: Nov 04, 2013
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Postby Serukta Sehkrisaal » Mon Jun 01, 2015 8:43 pm

FIREWATER
A Wildfire Chronicles Installment
[ Future Technology ][ Mature ]

"Be thou faithful unto death." — John of Patmos, Book of Revelations 2:10 (KJV)

Exeter Quality Suites, Hira
Pinnacle, Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone
Steel, rust, gun oil, and salt - the perfume of war that had become the chosen fragrance of his cohorts; they were all crowded around the card table still, polishing their pieces, inspecting their ammunition, and steadying their hearts, minds, and hands like warriors preparing on the eve of some great battle - some great crusade. Thrax was huddled over his rifle, a piece he'd managed to grab off a shipment left by mistake at Echo Station during his last tour before he abandoned the initial cause of his life; for a moment, he wondered if the man with the graying hair had true commitment, or was merely hellbent on a suicidal drive to the bottom of the torpid pool of his life. Across from him sat Zeek, a young man in years but well-worn in the matter behind his eyes, making the final adjustments on the instrument and wholeheartedly ignoring Thrax's own pestering. As usual, Maakyr sat between them, studying a layout of their mission, their goal, their intended final destination, silent and stoic in the particular manner the isaadhe had become known for in their months on Hira - months of patience, months of preparation.

'And here you are, reading a book on what is to be your last day in this hell,' Devon remarked inwardly, canting his eyes back to the well-worn book, splayed by its spine in his hands. The words were hand-written and the pages seemed as if they might fall apart at even the most delicate of molestations; it'd been smuggled into the system somehow by someone - whom or in what matter, he didn't know - before finding its way to the huddled camps and habitation blocks of the low-wage engineers and agricultural hands of Jarilo. It'd passed from one owner to another before, finally, being pushed into his own hands by Maakyr nearly a year ago. It seemed to make so much sense, the world the well-worked book described; the paradise it exclaimed seemed almost beyond comprehension, even for the wild and salacious tangents of his dreams that his imagination, at times, drove him toward in desperate flights of fantasy and escapism.

"You sh'uld put that thing down an' get some fuckin' sleep, Dev," Thrax barked, rubbing lubricant on the bolt of his rifle for the third time in just as many hours; "You've got a big day tomorrow," he went on, stamping out his half-finished cigarette, "an' y' sure as hell don't want t' fuck that up, kid!" Even Zeek managed a minor chuckle, Devon noticed, but otherwise kept to his business.

"You have your ways," he responded, flipping the page of the manuscript passively, "and I have mine."

"Yeah," Thrax concluded, finally setting his rifle down if but to merely light yet another cigarette, "but y'ur ways are fuckin' boring. I figured y'd be out gettin' a fancy piece o' tail tonight; get one of them zin-lay bitches, give you and your bits a real, right ba—"

"Cut your shit, Thrax," Maakyr interrupted, silencing the former Imperial Republican grunt's licentious indignities, "Let the man work in his own. I don't imagine I'll be getting much rest under these stars either; if he chooses to spend this time in his piety, it is all the better for his spirit."

Devon looked-up, covering his smile through a tender bite to his inner cheek as Thrax pushed himself back from the table and stepped into the small kitchenette of the apartment; the sound of another bottle being cracked-open filled the mildew-stained echo-chamber of the cheapest accommodations they could find in Hira, the administrative capital of Pinnacle, indicating the grunt's begrudging subordination. The faint beeping from across the room indicated the time: 2300 hours local; he really should get some sleep, he knew, but he couldn't stomach the thought of it. Instead, he merely flipped the pages of the book again, returning to his own ways as Thrax returned to the table.

"Zeek," the militant belched, "when do y' think y'll be done with that fuckin' thing?"

"It's already complete," the nasal-tones of their technician caused Devon to grit his teeth silently, "I'm just making final adjustments; making sure everything is perfect." The tone of his last word sent a shrill chill down Devon's spine.

"That's what w' been doin' for months," Thrax managed through the latter half of his ale, "'makin'-fucking-adjustments.'"

"Yes, well, not anymore," Maakyr noted, folding-up the gray, poly-plastic sheet before him. "Just a few hours now," he went on, sliding the sheet into the interior pocket of his shirt, an idle palm flattening it into place, "and we'll be in His work and on our way to the Fields of Waiting."

"What, exac'ly, did your contact say, Maak?" Thrax questioned, slamming down his fourth bottle of ale.

"What I told you," the isaadhe leaned back, crossing his arms across his torso, granting himself the leisure of permitting his lids to droop and finally close, "'The Path is clear.' We're to execute our directives as I have told you; no more, no less. It's simple, truly; this minor act will be the death knell of a malign work set into play ages before any of us were but a thought in the minds of our wellsprings. Gentleman, we are doing a righteous thing, and He knows our commitment is true."

"Yeah? Well bless Korsiidh," Thrax barked once more, "I just know I want to spend my time waitin' with a slugger in each hand an' a right, real fancy piece of meat slidin' up where I can get a pre'y taste of 'er sweet." The laugh he gave made even Maakyr smile, even but minutely; it was all a game, Devon knew, but it was a necessary one.

"I really do wonder if the only reason you have faith, is because you have faith in ass, Thrax," their isaadhe commandant piqued through parted lips, allowing his smile to deepen and broaden in mocking jest.

'Faith is a funny thing,' Devon reckoned as his cohorts continued their mocking and solidifying of purpose; 'It does strange things to a man.' He had been no older than sixteen when he'd moved to Taen with his folks years ago; they were engineers - technicians for the farming drones of the massive fields in Jarilo. His mother had made it a year before the nature of the planet took her; sickness of the soul took his father eighteen months later. Since then, he'd done what he had to do; two years in the warehouse district, another doing maintenance calls on the massive irrigation systems. He was twenty-two when faith first entered his life; in it he'd found a purpose, but moreso: an explanation for the horrors of his life and the errors of his kin and kind that only worked in service to that horror.

Flipping the page once more, the scrawl read "Testament of Burden"; Devon's eyes wandered almost immediately to the thin, yellow highlighting of a single passage: "Bring unto them illumination and to them command to make of service MY words and the words of those whom hold MY word and whom bear the crowns of flame." 'I wonder if the author meant that literally,' he projected to himself, continuing to read beyond the highlighted passage even as his thoughts continued to wander. Wandering to the first time he held the book and the first time he had met the isaadhe whose orders he now followed, mediated as they were, in the small bar beyond Warehouse Sixteen in the district. '"You can do a good thing with us,"' he recalled Maakyr's words, '"You can be the one to set things right; to start the call. All you need is a little faith."'

'Faith.'

Faith promised a difference, a change for the better, a new world where the mistakes of his past didn't matter and where nothing but the paradisaical ideal dwelt before him. A kingdom - a realm - of peace and tranquility at the foot of the divine, where rivers ran as nectar - immortal and sacred - and where every labor was a labor undertaken to better the world, the Self, and all things. 'Don't forget the beauty,' he thought to himself; of course, that was promised as well: women and delights as far as the eye could see, all aligned and waiting, knowing only to speak his name and to fulfill his every wish - his own personal priests to desire and delirium. In truth though, even without the touch of carnality, it was the horror that compelled him; even as he sat, the images of the brutal world to which he called home set cold his blood and brought his teeth to their edge. He didn't like horror; he didn't like the brutality of this world.

'All I want is something better,' he thought.

Something that made living through the tragedies meaningful; something that validated the torment of the years spent imprisoned in a world, in a reality, that was merely incarceration in all but name. A piece of the promised paradise would be enough - just a piece, a morsel of a world built not on the backs of those in agony, but by the will of divinity and by the hands of persons whom cared for their fellow man. Just a single taste of that ambrosia was enough. Enough to—

"Devon!" Thrax was shouting; immediately Devon jerked upright, finding himself reclined on the small sofa, the book having fallen to his side.

"I'm— I'm awake," he murmured, running the back of his palm against his eyes; a flick of his wrist showed the time. "Fuck," he rasped through sleep and exhaustion.

"Yeah, sleepin be'uty," the grunt barked, "Y' damn near didn't make it to t' big day. Now get y'r shit together, we gotta go; Maak and Zeek are alre'dy on their way; we're goin' to meet 'em there."

It was fifteen after seven as Devon jerked himself upright, bolting to the bathroom to splash the sleep from his eyes. With a quick tug, he managed to wipe his face and remove yesterday's shirt in a single, fluid motion. Turning quickly in search of the clothing he'd set aside, he saw the large duffel bag sitting on the basin, his clothes stacked neatly atop it, no doubt prepared by Maakyr. Again, his mind wandered, grasping at a dream-utterance that seemed to drip from the back of his skull, as if his mind were a faucet, leaking: 'Faith. It does strange things to a man.'



Hira Interstellar Spaceport, Hira
Pinnacle, Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone
Already, the spaceport was crowded; as Devon pressed through the concourse, his eyes drifted from one person to the next. By far, most were business professionals and traders, both coming and going; a few were tourists, coming for the fabled ocean scenery of Pinnacle; others, still, were stoic megaliths emblazoned with the insignias of the Liu Xiu Maritime Authority and the Imperial Star Republic Liu Xiu Security Division. '"Don't draw attention to yourself,"' he recalled Maakyr's words, causing him to divert his eyes from a small group of three Imperial Republican security personnel gathered around a restroom entry, instead casting his gaze to the encompassing skylights and windows of the spaceport's concourse. It was raining, again; it often was this time of year on Pinnacle - or so he was told. The drops were easily visible: fat little globules of moisture splattering the glass and steel above; every bolt that fell from the heavens illuminated them each as a prism distinct, littering the concourse floor with rainbows of a terrible brilliance.

Attempting to manifest a demeanor that didn't speak of suspicion, Devon suspiciously cast a glance over his shoulder: Thrax was maybe twenty meters behind, speaking to several young women, the tags on their luggage seeming to indicate they were from the Oversector or, possibly, the Phanes Republic; he couldn't discern, precisely, from the colors alone. Yet, as he watched, he saw Thrax's eyes cant from behind the tinted lenses of his sunglasses, seeming to speak of urgency; Devon replied, curtly with a minor twitch of his head before he turned his gaze. Maakyr, he saw, was pulling-up the rear, perhaps a hundred meters back, he estimated, just passing through the initial security checkpoint of the spaceport.

Ahead, the primary security checkpoint of the concourse - a large wall of X-ray machines, radio-chemical sniffer arrays, and more members of the Imperial Star Republic Security Division than Devon could count - stood like a yawning beast waiting to devour him; the glass wall overlooking the open, oceanic expanse of Pinnacle did nothing to dissuade the image from the front of his mind, instead forcing him to picture the great, abyssal depths as the stomach of that monstrous devil that stood, waiting and hungry. Yet, his legs pressed him forward, and he found himself reciting a prayer in the back of his mind - some litany from the book, scrawled into the margins in one of the great testaments. It soothed him, even as the travelers began to press close and the checkpoint's lines began to coalesce around him like the tongues of the beast itself.

After a few moments spent checking and re-checking the duffel bag that hung heavily to his side, the sight of an oil-slick of hair ahead brought him remarkable stillness. Why they decided to send Zeek ahead, Devon couldn't recall; something to do with an instrument he'd devised to scramble the security scanners for a few minutes without sending-up too many red flags. Even so, the slick-haired technician was ahead in line by some twenty people; he could hear Zeek's whistling. All-in-all, of the whole of the cadre, the "Slime" - as Thrax had come to call him - seemed the most at peace, the most calm and collected. At the moment, he seemed to be alternating between whistling and speaking to some late-adolescent boy, his shirt emblazoned with "XiuCon: The Liu Xiu Gaming Convention" in false-decayed typeface; about what, besides the obvious, Devon couldn't discern.

The line dwindled, drawing Devon closer to the wall of security; every so often, someone would bump into his arm, apologize, and a brief bit of dialogue would be exchanged - usually about the weather. He couldn't manage to stop himself, as the security array continued to draw ever closer, from feeling the inside of his jacket pocket; buried into the lining, he kept idly rubbing his hand over the small, hard square hidden from sight. All at once, he found himself both eager and terrified; eager for what awaited, and simultaneously terrified of the journey to that destination. Every thought and question, every doubt and ounce of trepidation of the past five months flooded back to him as he stood there, his eyes glassed, staring at nothing, noticing nothing.

The rustling of his pants' leg drew his attention back from the doubt that had begun to creep into his mind; looking down, a small child - no greater than six years old - was playing with the zippers of his duffel bag. Without hesitation he nearly growled, jerking-up the duffel bag as he jerked his head around, looking for the wayward child's parents. "Hey!" a man, his hair cropped high and tight, was marching through the crowd toward him, "Leave my kid alone!"

"Then keep him away from other people's stuff!" Devon shouted without realizing what was coming from between his lips.

"Well maybe you should be a little more fuckin' polite, punk!" the man exuded, scooping-up the small child who, Devon now realized, shared a similar style of haircut to his father - though blonde instead of the muddy brown of his father's own.

Just as he was about to speak - what, he didn't know - a woman whose hair was of golden flax pushed her way between him and the man. "Gentleman," she exuded in a tone reminiscent of song, "it's just a mistake; nothing to get worried over." The woman turned to him and, at once, Devon felt his heart twinge with a beautiful ache, her face a portrait of sun-kissed beauty, effervescent and sublime. "I'm sorry, sir," she smiled, placing a hand on the other man's arm, "It's my fault. I should have been watching him, but you know how it is: security, security, security!" Again, the smile seemed to disarm.

"Yeah," Devon managed to blubber, "I'm sorry; I shouldn't have been so... curt." He turned his face to the man whom, now, sported a face red with anger (or, perhaps, embarrassment), a vein protruding from his temple. "Sorry," he gave simply, "It's just, well, I don't exactly enjoy flying."

While the man, the woman's husband, seemed preparing to speak another tone of malice, the woman got out her words first: "Oh, you and me both! And in the rain no less? We were lucky at least; I mean, not lucky to be flying into it, but lucky that it's just starting today. Have you seen what it's going to be like this week? Goodness, it's a beautiful place, but I wouldn't want to live here."

"Are you visiting... family?" Devon questioned as he found his eyes dancing between the man, the child, and the woman - or, more specifically, he realized, the subtle scarlet-white beneath the white hem of her sundress.

"No, no," she gave another smile, canting to adjust her weight from one leg in favor of the other, "We're on vacation— Well, we're on our honeymoon, I guess you could say - even if it is a few years too late." The elbow she gave to her husband's ribs went unnoticed until she turned to look back at him, causing him to immediately force a social grin. "But," she continued, "I suppose that's all right. It was beautiful, after all - the beaches, I mean."

"Yeah," Devon nodded lightly, stepping forward, "I've heard they're quite nice this time of year - when it isn't raining, apparently."

"Beaches!" the child suddenly exclaimed, his voice a younger, neotenous mirror of his mother's.

"Yes, beaches!" the woman gave the young boy a pinch to his cheek before turning back: "What were you here on? Business or pleasure?" The emphasis made Devon's skin flush hot.

"Pleas— Business, I mean," he corrected, "Here for a conference on engineering." The lie came easier than he had expected. "I work on Taen most of the time," it continued to flow, "but sometimes they send us out to these inter-corporate meet-and-greet trips."

"Oh?" the woman remarked, stepping forward, "That sounds like fun - especially here, on a place like Pinnacle."

"Not really," Devon gave a smile he, himself, could not question, "I mean, it could be, I suppose, but they kept us sequestered-up in one of the hotels for the three days of the conference. It's a shame, really; I'd sort of been looking forward to it, too."

"Maybe next year, then?" the woman smiled again.

"Maybe," Devon returned the gesture, setting his duffel bag down on the scanner's conveyer. Turning, he suddenly realized the pressure of the line was pushing him into the first array of sniffers and detectors. He didn't turn to look at the woman and her family, but instead stepped forward, listening as the detector spun-up and a bar swung down in front of him.

"Sir," a member of the Security Division suddenly spoke-up from behind a screen of ballistic glass and visible metal netting, "It'll just be one moment. The scanner's got to warm-up, and then you'll be through."

Devon merely nodded, keeping his eyes straight ahead; Zeek was in the distance, taking a seat on a bench and attempting to disguise the sudden anxiety he spotted growing on his features. The conveyer suddenly lurched as the scanner's hum began to deepen and the first flashes of its illumination panels began to flare. As his eyes canted, he noticed several individuals of the security kiosk standing around a single monitor; one, a supervisor Devon imagined by his age, kept looking-up - kept looking at him. Immediately, the realization hit him; he felt the color drain from his face as his eyes spotted Zeek standing, dropping his carry-on, then bolting into a sprint. He turned immediately, only to find three members of the Security Division stepping-out between him and the family with the beautiful woman, a bar sliding down before him just as abruptly, halting his advance.

The thunder cracked.

One of the Security Division officers immediately slumped to the floor as the warmth of his life bathed Devon's face; for a moment, the crowd didn't seem to reach awareness of what was occurring. He wondered if they assumed it was thunder; the second volley - the spraying - however, sent them into flight. Thrax was spraying the crowds, screaming profanities and curses and all manner of war-cry he had ever learned. Alarms began to sound and great, steel walls began to descend between the concourse and the terminal, just beyond the scanners, slowly closing like the jaws of the beast Devon had suspected it to be, now knowing.

Despite his downed comrade and Thrax's suddenly "ra-tat-tat-ta" of rifle-ringing, the security officer before him was busy both trying to grab him and reach for his bag. Devon pressed himself as far away from the officer's groping as possible, forcing the man to scramble to the side, climbing over piles of luggage and carry-on packages and baskets of sunglasses and cellphones and tablets, desperately trying to reach the bag currently locked in the detector. The crowd, all the while, was dispersing, fleeing from Thrax to any nearby exit or cloistered alcove they could manage to find; it was when the return fire started, however, that he fully realized what was happening. His erratic search amongst the crowds for Maakyr and the subsequent futility of the act merely confirmed it: 'Where the fuck is he?'

Thrax's scream forced Devon's eyes to focus on the man. His life - scarlet and fresh - was draining from the side of his throat in great, gushing falls, lathering the floor in a froth of burgundy. For a moment, he caught the grunt's gaze before a second volley sent him to the floor.

He wasn't a friend, not really, Devon knew, but he was more than an acquaintance. Someone he had spent months with, locked in the same, dingy apartment for days and weeks at a time, forced to learn his habits as Thrax had come to know his. Yet there he laid, Devon knew, another life cut short by horror and brutality; another tragedy of a life spun short, taken without a thought or hesitation. 'Is this what we live for?' he found himself questioning, 'Just so we can die? Just so we can bleed-out like chattel on a butcher's floor? Why? There's no purpose in this.'

Security Division officers were approaching Thrax's downed form just as Devon managed to pull himself upright and stout; the officer that had been climbing over luggage in desperation shouted at his associates an end to his search, planting himself back on the concourse floor. He didn't meet Devon's eyes, nor even paid him notice; like to so many others, he was just another sack of meat - another piece in the horror of this fiction. Devon shook his head slightly, sliding his hands into his pockets quietly; even so, the action didn't go unnoticed, one of the officers circling his former companion's remains shouted to the man whom, now, hoisted the duffel over his head in victory. The action caused him to spin immediately, his hand dropping to his holster.

Devon met his eyes as he turned, depressing the small, hidden square in his pocket to the cry of "Seh'suurk Sa'ilu."




"Afternoon," a young woman whose crown spoke of stress, frustration, and anxiety in tones brunette and copper announced, interrupting a variety of media displayed across the Medianet, "this is an Emergency Bulletin from the Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone Administrative Council." As if in tune to her words, the star-bore insignia flashed into view behind the holographic projection of her features. For a moment she remained quiet, permitting the delayed emergency alarm to sound and the small marquee to begin scrolling beneath her on the projection.

"This Emergency Alert is being broadcast to all terminals currently receiving or otherwise networked to the LXSEC Medianet," she continued, "Please stand-by for further information." Once again, the emergency tone sounded, trying desperately to draw the attention of the denizens, citizens, traders, and professionals alike across the system. After the tone truncated, the woman continued: "While we are still gathering information and while the situation is still ongoing, the Administrative Council is confirming rumors in regards to emergency messages that have been broadcast by the Imperial Star Republic Security Division traffic and system checkpoints to entry and exit traffic: there appears to have been a terrorist attack at the Hira Interstellar Spaceport on Pinnacle."

The woman paused, seemingly listening, her hand pressed against the small, visible plug in her ear. With a faint nod, she continued with the Emergency Bulletin: "While, at this time, we cannot confirm casualties, the Administrative Council has announced that there may be, at least, 'three hundred fatalities'; the Council is unwilling to commit to a count on casualties of the wounded or otherwise injured. As of now the Council is unwilling to comment on what may be the source of the attack or the exact nature— Wait; one moment, I'm just getting word now."

Once more, the woman pressed her fingers to her ear, her eyes canting downward; for several minutes she remained quiet, spare a short utterance and a nod. At last, her gaze returned to the invisible viewers through the camera's lens: "The Imperial Star Republic Security Division is, as of now, tentatively confirming that the source of damage and the instrument of the terrorist strike is, at least as of this moment, what is believed to be an explosive utilizing anti-matter as its primary detonation material. The party currently claiming responsibility for the strike appears to be an organization known as 'Wildfire'; currently their motives behind the attack are—"

Again, her voice and the flow of information became interrupted by the voice expounding details from the small earpiece behind her hair. Yet again, seconds drawn-long passed before her speech returned: "This organization - 'Wildfire' - appears to have sent a video manifesto, of sorts, to the Administrative Council at Graywinter. Due to security concerns, this video will not currently be distributed or broadcast; however, the Council is willing to state that the primary objective - or objectives - of this 'Wildfire' organization appears to be to, and I quote: 'Bring light to that which suffers in darkness [...] and to eradicate that which fosters and deals and makes fat their coffers with impurity [...] of which the Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone serves as the mongers of debauchery and vulgarity which makes sully creation [...] and acts in mockery of His name.'

"Current damage assessments of the Hira Interstellar Spaceport are conflicted," the announcer went on, "but preliminary witness reports seem to indicate a significant portion of Terminals D, E, and G, have been dislodged from the cliffs surrounding Hira and have, since, plummeted into the sea. Further, early estimates indicate significant damage to the primary northern concourse, to include initial checking, primary checking, baggage claim for the aforementioned terminals, and several adjacent commercial enterprises."

Abruptly the woman seemed to turn to her left, her voiced muted and silent even as her lips moved in speech; after a dialogue - her face speaking of exasperation - concluded, she turned her attention back to the camera's own perspective: "As of this time, neither the Administrative Council nor the Security Division are willing to comment further or otherwise release statements regarding the attack on the Hira Interstellar Spaceport nor this 'Wildfire' organization. As further information is made available, further bulletins will be announced through the Liu Xiu Medianet. Our thoughts are with the families of those lost today, and we wish for a swift investigation of this attack and the bringing to justice its perpetrators. Thank you."



Written by Kyrusia.
Last edited by Serukta Sehkrisaal on Mon Jun 01, 2015 9:04 pm, edited 6 times in total.
SERUKTASEHKRISAAL
All that would be was but Endless Flame.

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