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The Red Death [FT][Maintenance][Semi-Closed]

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Lady Scylla
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Founded: Nov 22, 2015
New York Times Democracy

The Red Death [FT][Maintenance][Semi-Closed]

Postby Lady Scylla » Mon Sep 10, 2018 8:02 pm

OoC: This is the maintenance thread to act as a hub for those roleplaying the upcoming galactic pandemic of Karax. For more information, visit the GCC Discord in the signature, or talk to one of those involved here, and they'll help you out.




My name is Thomas McRoarke. It is becoming increasingly difficult to write, the pain is just too great. Even now, I've had to rewrite this line many times as the blood drips from my eyes and nose onto the paper. I fear these are my last words, I don't want to die, but I can tell that death is hovering over me like a shadow. If anyone finds these papers, then I'm sorry to say that it will be too late. You will soon join us down here. I barricaded myself in the back of the mine to get away from the ungodly sight in the tunnels. I don't know why I thought it would help me. My friends. My coworkers. What a cruel fate you were given.

This mine is old. Some say it was built in the 2040s, and then abandoned. When Naga bought the land, they of course wanted to re-open the mine. A mine abandoned for over a hundred years. We signed up because the pay was good. And we dug here for months. But then we found it. A body in the a chamber that had been bricked away from what we assumed was a collapsed shaft, or one that had simply been mined dry. This body though, the image burns in my mind still. We couldn't determine if it was a man or a woman, but we knew it had been there a while.

It had this red fibrous lattice growing out of it, that had completely covered it besides a few places where the flesh had clearly rotten away. It almost glowed. These long stalks of the stuff protruded out of the body from every cavity. We were all terrified and quickly left. Many feared it was an omen. We blocked it with a cart, and we hurried on with our duties. None of us knowing what we had done. That we... were already dead.

Arimaki was the first to fall ill. He started to cough shortly after, and we thought nothing of it. But later that day he collapsed. We assumed it was exhaustion. The mine was humid, and hot as hell. Before long, though, others began to cough and they too collapsed during their shifts. Suddenly, we had half a dozen people in the infirmary. We were three days travel from the surface. We sent for help, assuming heat exhaustion had gotten to them as well, but knew we'd have to wait. As we did, more fell ill.

Arimaki was the first. We all knew what would happen, because we watched him deteriorate. His limbs began to swell, and he ran a very high fever. It wasn't exhaustion. A day passed. His skin began to discolour, he was in so much pain that he would convulse and thrash. We had to tie him down to the bed. That night, he bit his tongue out.

By the second day, his skin had ruptured and his limbs began to show signs of necrosis. He was bleeding from every place imaginable, and the swelling was so bad we could no longer see his eyes, nor tell if he was opening his mouth. He had stopped screaming, instead making these whimpering sounds. He died that evening. And the others... they had seen it. They were swelling, and more of us had begun to cough and feel weak. Some formed a team to go get help. I peed on a shirt, and wrapped it around my mouth and nose, it was the only thing I could think of to protect myself.

And then we saw it. The third day. This vibrant red fungus had grown over Arimaki. With the stalks coming out of the ruptures and his eyes and mouth, stretching up several feet. His skin was now black, and pierced with thousands of smaller stalks which formed a webbing across the bed. We all ran out of the infirmary. Then we burned it. By now, several others were just as ill as Arimaki was, we left them where they had collapsed. Refusing to go near them, even as they screamed for us. I locked myself in the mess. The others in other places down here. More became sick.

It's day 12 now. The team that left for help hasn't returned. It's a 3 day walk. This morning, i awoke to the sound of silence. There was no more screaming or banging in the mine. The air was still. I left the mess and found them. All of them. They were against the door of the mess. They lined the corridors in the mine. A red forest of fungus covering every one of them in the states they had died. Some reaching out for help. Others with their hands still clenched against the wall, their fingernails stuck in the markings on the rock. The pressure for some was so great when this stuff started growing, that it cracked their skulls open to let the fungus grow. A few were smart. Some had hung themselves, I assume before the pain set in. But it didnt matter to this fungus. It split them open and grew from their dangling bodies too, and then climbed up the rope to the ceiling.

I knew I shouldn't have left.

I had started cough by midday. It is now the witching hour, on the cusp of the 13th day. My hands, even now, have started to visibly swell. And I can feel the tingling in my extremities. Like them, I too will be smart. I heard enough of my fellows' agony when I lived inside the mess. It is clear to me now that I will not survive this. That help is not coming. And so I will join them down here. And if you're reading this, you will too. God help us.

Goodbye, unfortunate reader

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Olimpiada
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Founded: Aug 13, 2016
Corporate Bordello

Postby Olimpiada » Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:59 pm



Interplanetary Space, Ikeid
The Fukurukouji, 0200 Hours



The coffee steamed as best as it could in the mylar bag it was kept in, the occasional wisp making its way through the time worn seal on its nozzle and floating off toward an air vent. It struggled a little, as the ship was presently accelerating at about a third of a standard gee. A bearded blonde man picked it up and took a sip, cursing as he burnt his tongue.

“Leo, I keep telling you that these things need to cool down. You know those words?”

“Fuck off, Reg. Don’t you have a ship to be tracking?” Despite being the captain of their “salvage operation”, Leo still got plenty of flak from his crewmates. Such was the result of working together so closely for the last fifteen years. Formality went by the wayside, and they all were simply people once again.

“Funny you should mention that one. It just cut thrust.”

“Really? That’s odd.” Their calculations showed it still had plenty of remass left to run before it was at risk of running adrift in space, thus warranting a counterburn to put them at the nearest asteroid port along their path. No FTL drive left it incapable of really fleeing them, but it was a nice thought for them.

“Hey, the screens don’t lie.” Reg forwarded a holoscreen to Leo’s seat. It showed the intersect paths of the two ships at two different times, one of which were the two slowly converging curves of a few hours ago, and the other being the current one, which actually warranted the Fukurukouji cutting thrust in a few hours to avoid overtaking their quarry on accident.

“So they don’t. I’ll wake up the others, and we’ll get to this soon.”



Interplanetary Space, Ikeid
The Fukurukouji, 0447 Hours



“Attention Shimizu, this is your final warning. You are to initiate docking procedures, or we will breach your hull.” Helena pushed away from the comms console, floating across the cramped cabin to where the other six members of the Fukurukouji were already checking their weapons, an assortment of modified shotguns, submachine guns, and laser carbines. They gleamed with a deadly light beneath the dim red bulbs in the ceiling. She was glad such ugly business was never hers to partake in.

“You sure that we actually got the tightbeam repaired?” asked Reg.


“I mean, I welded on it some, and-” answered Petrus, their nominal engineer.

“Great. Because the slight micrometeor ding was what we needed fixed, not the fucked up gas envelope which probably leaked what little it had left a few million clicks ago. Great job, chief.” Leo’s words dripped with venom. The lackluster performance had left them all a little less rich at the end of this job.

“Hey, I don’t see you sweating your ass off in an EVA suit half the time we’re out here. Maybe you want to try climbing all over the hull next time?” A pause, not quite long enough for a response. “Didn’t think so.”

“Whatever. Just get ready to do this the hard way.”



Interplanetary Space, Ikeid
The Shimizu, 0521 Hours



In, out. In, out.

Breath condensed on the inside of Petrus’s suit helmet, despite the filter he had on his mouth to prevent that. He checked the gun in his hand again. Its electronics were still talking to his suit, letting him see perfectly wherever the barrel was pointed. A glance confirmed that sixty rounds still remained, and not a single one had disappeared. The time before boarding was always difficult, no matter how often he did it. The last hour had been spent working up tension and a mild high of combat stimulants, and now his entire being was so tense that the slightest disturbance felt like it would snap him.

The white outline on the other side of the airlock hissed like a serpent. Thermite reacted with strong oxidizers to melt through the hull on the other side. He watched as it slowly disappeared, the trail growing shorter and shorter and…

Pop.

The jagged edged plate flew through the new and equally jagged hole, coming to land somewhere on the other side of the breach. It was dark in there.

“Flashlights on!” shouted Leo. The rest of them thumbed controls through their suit gloves, and illuminated the inside of the Shimizu. No one.

“Fan out, take anything that isn’t tacked down. Let me and Reg know when you find the cargo hold. Move!” Magnetic boots made faint clicks as they kept the boarding party oriented in zero gee. They echoed throughout the ship, and earned no response.

In, out. In, out. Keep sharp. This could be an ambush. It could always be an ambush. Each room, checked and cleared, without fail. Cleaning supplies in one. Empty bunks in another.

“Hey bossman, found a computer. You want what’s on it?” asked Georgios somewhere else in the ship. Not a hint of radio interference from their victims.

“Sure, might be worth something. Plug in Reg and let him scour it.”

“On it.”

Click. Click. Click, boots ceaselessly clacking. Each room, checked and cleared, without fail. This could be an ambush, it could always be- “FUCKING SHIT!”

“Petrus, status!”

“Found a body.” That had seriously interrupted his zen. “He’s slumped over the acceleration controls, probably what slowed them down. Wouldn’t have been so bad, except it’s got black patches all over its skin. Looks like bleeding from the mouth and eyes too. Fuck that’s nasty.”

“Think it’s a biohazard?”

“Probably. Suits will need a decontamination wash when we come back. Something happened here, can’t say I like it.”

“Doesn’t matter. Payout here’s a few million drachma, we’ve gotta stick with it. Keep the old girl flying, keep our bellies full, keep our wallets lined. That’s the plan?”

“Yeah, that’s the plan.” He closed the door, and tagged it with a can of paint on his belt. That would keep anyone else out of it. He moved onto another corridor, and saw a large set of double doors on the other side. Jackpot. “Got our cargo bay.”

“Fantastic. Reg, get the hauler bots in here! Payday just came!”



Interplanetary Space, Ikeid
The Shimizui, 0527 Hours



Medical bays were usually good places for Gallus. Decent drugs to pick up that he couldn’t get most places, and they were always a welcome addition when he hit the clubs portside to spend away his cut of any given haul. Helena kept telling him he should at least save some of it in case anything bad ever happened to them, but he generally assumed at that point he’d just die, content that he’d spent his life having a blast. Only problem was, the med bay on this ship was a bit difficult to open. When a simple button press didn’t make the door slide out of his way, he assumed it was an electrical issue, and tried a few things to reset the controls. None of them worked. It was only upon closer inspection that for some reason, the door had been welded shut. While this in and of itself was already stranger than the usual, the fact that the bead was on the outside of the door was much, much more concerning.

Of course, that didn’t stop him.

Fortune favored the bold, and he would be damned if he couldn’t get his hands on enough methylfentanyl to not only get himself faded, but to make anyone who looked at him a little too hard feeling it too. “Hey boss, med bay is locked. Gotta open it the hard way.”

“Fine, use some explosives. Don’t mess up the other side.” That shouldn’t be too hard. He filled the crevice with some plastic explosives, backed up behind a wall, and detonated them. The butt of the shotgun returned to his shoulder as he peeked around the corner slowly, checking off-

“The fuck?”

“Is everyone getting surprised by things today? Is that what we’re doing now?” asked Reg, who was in the rather peaceful state of having a proper cabin on a less messed up ship.

“No, I.. What the hell is this stuff?”

“Come again?”

“It’s really hard to explain. Got all these little tiny webs and stalks all over this room. They’re bright red too, like really bright. Ever see one of those old fire trucks from Old Terra?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s like that, but way more.”



Interplanetary Space, Ikeid
The Fukurukouji, 0531 Hours



After Reg had finished looking up a picture of a fire truck, and checked Gallus’s suit camera, the resemblance in color was about where the similarities ended. “What the hell did you find?”

“No clue. I’m thinking we burn it and get out. This boat’s got something seriously wrong with it.”

“Boss?”

“Do it. We’ll pop the reactor on our way out, that should do it.”

“I’ll check those files you grabbed, tell you how to in a few.” He pulled his hands off the transmitter button, and got to work. Most of the data had been damaged, likely by whatever had happened to the crew. Gallus’s suit camera showed him backtracking to the ship’s repair shop, picking up a few gallons of industrial lubricants, and spraying them all over the inside of the med bay before tossing a grenade in and leaving. Despite himself, Reg sighed in relief. Whatever that thing was, it was probably dead now.

If it wasn’t, they were all doomed.



Interplanetary Space, Ikeid
The Fukurukouji, 0652 Hours



“Did we really have to stay in decontamination that long?”

“Hey, we’ve got no idea what that shit was, and I don’t think you want to find out.”

“You’re probably right, but it’s still a pain in the ass.”

“Anyone else feeling like they’ve got a sneeze coming on?”

“Real funny, jackass.”

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Auman
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Posts: 1984
Founded: Antiquity
Father Knows Best State

Postby Auman » Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:03 am

"This is it, has to be." John Harekka slowed the big EPV to a halt, where it skidded in the gravel despite him taking it easy on the brake. It was a huge vehicle, three times again the size of a mid-sized pick up truck, with six wheels, a foot of armor and a troop bay in the back that he used for storage. It was a necessity in his line of work, versatility and durability of form and function. He was an Aumanii Frontier Marshal, the subatomic edge on the tip of the spear of the expansion. Where there was chaos, he would bring order and so on and so forth, as the recruitment officers would say.

Lonely, yet stimulating, work. Challenges presented themselves constantly as he endeavored in the frontiers of space, often outside of the very limit of his nation's jurisdiction, to provide law and justice to the people that fell between the cracks that separated great states.

He was on his way to the next assigned mission when he picked up a call from this world. People were going missing. They were getting sick and wandering off into the woods. The locals were too busy to go looking themselves, because this crisis was reaching levels far beyond their ability to contain. John's partner, a robot roughly the same height and proportions as a man, sat passively beside him in the EPV, scanning the mining camp.

"It's quiet here." Said John.

"A little too quiet." Said his partner, swiveling the dome camera that approximated his head towards him.

John grabbed his helmet and clicked it into place on his suit. It was sealed and he'd been wearing it a lot lately. "Corvus, why don't we hop out and take a look around? Start with a sweep of the area and tell me if you find anything interesting?"

Corvus, the robot, snatched a walki-talkie out of the charger and headed towards the airlock.

"You go with him, Aphelia and use the dummies to get a deep picture of this place." John said to his automated assistant, an AI like Corvus, but small, floating and about the size of a softball. "Will do... It's not a good sign. That they didn't come out to meet us. Camps like these don't see people often, it's a big event when outsiders come by. It breaks up the monotony." Aphelia noted, curiously.

"You're absolutely right about that. Camp life is boring. I used to harvest Plenatentarians before signing on with the marshals." John replied, hauling himself out of his seat with a grunt.

"You used to pick flowers for a living, Bossman?" Corvus laughed.

"It was nice, I liked it."

John stood in the middle of the wide gravel road that brought them to the camp, hands on his hips, just looking at stuff to see if anything stood out. Corvus was on the walki-talkie barking orders to the dummy drones that were flitting about like humming birds, collecting information. Aphelia would follow up on anything interesting they found and there was quite a bit that interested her already.

"The stains on these cots are fascinating. They contain blood, feces, urine, saliva and something else I can't recognize. A sort of crystalized powder compound. Very slight, but it's there. When the light catches it, it looks kind of like frost." Aphelia was saying.

John was listening intently when Corvus waved to him, he hurried over. The robot swept a hand with four outstretched fingers about a foot off the ground, took a moment to analyze his findings and said "These are tracks, pretty sure of it. Coming from down there," he pointed down a wooded trail, "and leading down there." Corvus jabbed a finger right back down the road they came from. They didn't see anyone on the way up from town, so whoever walked out of here must have made it all the way. The odds on this place being the source just went up.

"And if you look at it, this is where a few people met up before heading out. It's hard to tell, but maybe five." Corvus finished. "All right, send a flight of dumb-dumbs to check it out." John asked in a professional, clipped, tone. "Already have." Corvus stood up and picked a piece of gravel out of his knee plate. John nodded, satisfied with his partner's foresight.

"Are you ready to move on, Aphelia?" John asked. The small drone bumbled over and projected a holographic image of herself next to them. She was about average height, dressed in a marshal's uniform and had her brown shoulder length hair tied in a ponytail. "I've collected everything I need, we can head down to the mine any time."

"Good." Nodded John. They walked down the trail to the mine and stopped to examine the tracks from time to time. Corvus pointed out that the gait of whoever left them tightened up the closer they got to camp, presuming whoever left them was trying to look healthier than he really was... Because the closer they got to the mine, the sloppier they were. They noticed that the person veered off towards a tree and found a pile of crystallized vomit. Aphelia took some photographs and analysis and they continued on. The closer they approached, the higher the ridge got on either side of them and before long, they found a flight of stairs that led down into a cavern, made of local lumber that was course and fibrous. Spots of bodily fluid spattered the stairs like a piece of abstract art from the Degenerate Period of Aumanii culture. More scans, more photographs and a critique by Corvus followed.

The door to the mineshaft was heavy wood, studded with iron reinforcement... And held shut by a length of chain and a thick padlock. Corvus grabbed it, his hand flared white hot and acrid smoke billowed from the chain before he wrenched it free.

"You think we should be going in here?" Corvus sounded nervous.

"We have already called it in to the Aumanii Bureau of Communicable Diseases. They told us to check it out, we are professionals after all." John said with a bit of pride.

"Professionalism doesn't count for much in a place like this, Johnny. You're still human and this stuff infects humans. Aphelia and I will be safe. You should stay here while we poke around, call it a precaution."

"Are you implying I'm soft, Corvus? I've seen bad stuff in my time." John tried to laugh his partner's concerns away.

"I think Corvus is implying you have an immune system that can be attacked and we don't." Aphelia added, punching past John's ego. It was in the nature of their human companion to take on more of the burden, and risk, than he needed to. Afterall, he was assigned these robots to relieve him of some of the danger of the job. It wasn't uncommon for a human machine handler to grow attached to his partners, to become protective even and that's what Corvus and Aphelia suspected was happening here.

"Fine," John held up his hands in surrender, "I'll stay here, but keep me updated on everything." Aphelia instantly linked John to her camera feeds and patted him on the shoulder. "We'll be okay." She said and then turned to enter the mine with Corvus, her hologram fading until only a funny, little, floating mechanical ball remained.

A flight of dummy drones entered the shaft and started to map it immediately, a picture developing in a faint overlay in John's heads up display. The map showed the location of the dummies, Corvus and Aphelia as they explored the cavern. In a box in the top right corner of his vision, he could see what Aphelia was seeing. He expanded it with a jiggle of his wrist. Corvus was pointing out tracks, stains, crystallizations and something new. A bright red stand of fronds, waving gently as air rushed into the mine. Motes floated in the cavern.

"It's coated in loose particulates, don't touch it." Said Aphelia to Corvus, before he could reach out with his hand. She flashed her scanner at it for less than a second. "It's growing out of organic matter. Human."

John was fully immersed in the growing conversation between the robots when he felt a nudge on his shoulder. He flicked away the feed, wheeled around and reached for his revolver. There was a man there, holding a rifle by the strap, wearing a brown jacket with a patch on the breast that read "Naga Corp." He didn't seem to be a threat, but he was a bit startled by John's reaction.

"Whoa now, friend!" Said the man in the brown jacket, "I mean you no harm!"

"Yeah, okay, then why don't you throw that rifle over your shoulder nice and slow." John said coolly, raising his palm towards the man. The man in the brown jacket just placed it on the ground and stepped away from it. The tension died down a bit, John stepped between the man and the rifle and they talked.

"I use it for wildlife protection, Rump Bears around these parts can get vicious this time a year. My name is Lavid, who are you, friend?" Lavid, the man in the brown jacket, reached out a hand and John shook it.

"Sergeant Harekka, Aumanii Frontier Marshal."

"I heard you guys were asked to help out in town, but what brings you up here? This camp is owned by the Naga corporation. You don't have any business here." Lavid said, politely enough but with insistence in his voice.

"I'm just following the case, Lavid. There are some sick people in town and we think the mine might have something to do with it.

In the top corner of his vision, he could see Corvus hammering on a brick wall, creating an opening just wide enough for Aphelia to enter.

"This mine has nothing to do with it and everyone knows it. Folks have been trying to shut us down for months and they'll cling to anything they can to dig at us. Bunch of envirocoms want to take away our dignified work and fill the vacuum with tourist dollars. This mountain here?" Lavid pointed just up from the entrance to the forested peak above, "Some drekk from the Reaches wants to turn it into a ski resort and he can't have that if we're pulling Chrondite from it. I understand you have nothing to do with our local politics, Sergeant, but I'm warning you to keep your wits about you, because people are going to lie to you to cheat us."

John held eye contact with Lavid throughout his monologue, hands on his utility belt. Lavid looked away, at the ground. The Marshal's suit, sealed, helmeted and covered with navy blue ballistic plates, was intimidating.

"I want to assure you that I have no interest in assisting any local political interests, or those of any Solarian drekks, Lavid. We're after the truth and we need to follow every lead." John was calm and it made Lavid calm. "I want to help the people of this world get better. I want you guys to get back to work and live your lives... And to do that, we have to find out why people are getting sick."

"I get that, I suppose." Said Lavid, sheepish.

In the corner of his vision, he saw a bloody mess of billowing stalks spitting out spores. Webs and mold, fungus, centering on what looked like a dead man.

"This is... Extensive." Said Corvus, peaking inside the walled off portion of the cavern.

"Hey, there's a letter in here." Aphelia said.
Last edited by Auman on Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
IBNFTW local 8492

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New Dornalia
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1734
Founded: Apr 27, 2005
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby New Dornalia » Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:15 pm

OOC: I may have been inspired by some of the other posts in this thread. Thanks to Macisikan also, for helping me to improve this post.

IC:

M/V Golden Flower
Somewhere in the fringes of New Kazakhstan County, CRE


The airlock of the Golden Flower opened up with a slow hiss and a series of “ka-chunk” sounds. A beeping sound and an automated, tinny sound of “Welcome aboard” could be heard, spoken in both Mandarin and English.

The party being greeted was a group of individuals, bearing the sigil of the Immigration and Common Border Authority. They had come here on a mission--to figure out why a merchant ship which had visited the Scythian Khaganate to run guns to them on NORINCO’s behalf now was floating listlessly in a major spacelane, causing a collision and forcing the intervention of the authorities to get the ship out of the way. Initial scans had detected something onboard the ship--lifesigns for sure. So, the ICBA decided to take control of the situation.

The team onboard had a mix of equipment types. Some of them had rather large suits of armor, looking like some sort of mix of technological knight and cybernetic wonder. Others wore the familiar M1 Helmet, with a respirator that covered the face, coveralls in navy blue with name and ICBA insignia with a powered metal exoskeleton and satchels full of equipment. Blasters and shotguns were the name of the game--boarding actions were dangerous affairs, and many of the men in this party had been veterans of many a stop in space that turned violent.

One man in this party--a man with respirator--was one Warrant Officer Joseph Fredricksen, a man whose expertise was in all things medical and biological. As such, Fredricksen’s wargear included an Academica Sinica GP-1 Bioscanner. Looking more like a toy flute with a screen on it, the GP-1 was a scanner probing enough to spot contraband of all sorts and precise enough to separate the contraband from the legitimate equipment. However, it had a particular affinity for scanning for biological matter that should or shouldn’t be there as well as for medical maladies of all sorts, complete with a linkup to all known databases available to the common Dornalian. It would come in handy.

The investigation began with Fredricksen and his party going one way, and another ICBA team going the other way. The pointman of the Fredricksen party, a man in power armor named Sergeant Martinez, called out into the hallways as was standard ICBA procedure, keeping his shotgun at low ready.

“IMMIGRATION N’ COMMON BORDER AUTHORITY! WE’RE HERE TO RENDER ASSISTANCE! IS ANYONE HERE?!”

There was of course, no reply. Martinez called out again, as the party moved forward.

“ALRIGHT! WE’RE COMING THROUGH!”

The search was slow and steady at first. Captured on bodycam footage, there wasn’t much to find in these opening moments. Electronic door control panels seemed to flash on and off. The ICBA inspectors knew that in these sorts of conditions, it was always better to just use a manual control, or even a special ICBA breaching crowbar and a guy in powered armor to open a door which wouldn’t budge. And so, one closet door was opened with a sonic screwdriver. And then, there was a peek into a utility room resulting from another door opening, this door jimmied open with a powered armored boot to the door lock. And finally, there was another opened door, opened in a more civilized manner with the manipulation of a manual entry crank near the door entrance.

All of this produced nothing. No sounds, no movement. Just flickering emergency lights broken up by the lamps on the policemens’ helmets.

What the policemen could find was simple enough, although it wasn’t helping the men and women of law enforcement find out what happened to this place. Clothing and goods seemed to be right where they were left. Rooms were messy. There was half-eaten food left out on desks and nightstands. At times, there was any number of fluids and foods spilled on the floor due to the inevitable jolt of colliding with another vessel.

The only constant was there there was no one around. Just the ICBA officers, the flickering lights, and the deafening silence only occasionally broken up by the officers’ footfalls, the sound of power armor mechanisms moving, and the odd bit of radio report from the other search teams and Dispatch, the main contact onboard the CRICBS Kurtzmann who was speaking to the teams. Confusingly, this man was not the same as Search Leader, who was right now onboard the ship also.

At any rate, Fredricksen tuned his Bioscanner to work at a more probing setting, to look through the various rooms and to hopefully save some time in regards to what was beginning to be a tense, yet repetitive search. And yet so far, there was nothing to be found in the immediate vicinity.

Then, in one room, Martinez the pointman could be seen turning to the team and motioning for them to come in, with a hearty, “I’ve got something here!”

Fredricksen entered the room along with the others, each of which took up positions inside of the room to watch a particular corner of the room. The room appeared to be someone’s quarters. However, there were no living beings here, only two dead men. You didn’t need a scanner to figure out how one man died. The man in question had a 1911A1 pistol next to him, and well…the man used to have a head. Now there was blood and efflua instead.

The other man, however...well, that was a bit more unusual. Fredricksen noted the man’s pallor. He was black all over, and had clear signs of bleeding out of his nostrils and his eyes. He died, the other man having evidently emptied several shots in the bleeding man’s midsection. The thing that struck Fredricksen was that the corpse had a twisted, crazed grimace on his face.

Just as Fredricksen got closer, the Bioscanner began to pick up a lot of signals. Fredricksen was confused at this--there didn’t seem to be anything there at first. It was then that he noticed something on the man’s coat. Perhaps this was setting off the machine? Time to figure it out.

Motioning to one of his squadmates, Fredricksen said, “Gonna need some light here!”

To Fredricksen’s surprise, when the man brought forth a light upon the corpse, there appeared to be a fungus of some sort on the man’s body which had emerged from around the gunshot wounds, and had spread all over to the man’s neck and upper thighs, covering the whole midsection. One which had grown unusually quickly, and one which looked to be still growing.

One of the ICBA officers asked the obvious question, with a quiver in his voice.

“What the fuck is that?”

Fredricksen shrugged, looking at the mold with a puzzled look as he tried scanning it over and over. The machine kept telling Fredricksen that there were no hits on any known Dornalian or others’ databases. Fredricksen hoped this was just due to poor reception--the fact a disease was not on the databases was generally not a good sign.

“Wish I could tell you. Scanner’s not coming up with anything. I mean, it’s fairly obvious one guy shot the other and killed himself. But this?” Upon the word this, Fredricksen pointed at the dead man with mold upon him. “This is weird. Dunno why it happened either, but one thing’s for sure. Mold, or any type of fungus for that matter, is not supposed to grow that fast.”

Fredricksen then said, speaking into his microphone with some disbelief, “Dispatch, this is Search 2-3. Time--21:45 Zulu. Suspected murder suicide. One casualty has extensive necrosis, and evidence of bleeding from nose as well as contamination with fungus of unknown origin. Will continue search with rest of party, but advise immediate dispatch of forensic processing with appropriate biohazard protections on our coordinates. Over.”

Search Team 2 proceeded onwards and out of the room, as a couple of men teleported into the room, bedecked in protective gear and inspecting the scene.

***

The dimly lit hallways with lights that flickered were not getting any brighter, and that palpable, only-occasionally-interrupted silence’s return was not entirely welcome amongst Search Team 2’s ranks. The party proceeded in single file, Martinez taking point again and reloading his boarding shotgun in case anything jumped out at the team. As he did so, he never took his eyes off of the barely illuminated reddish-blackness. This big of a ship with this little activity? It was hard to believe that no one had survived.

And frankly, there were still no answers to be had as to why any of this came to be. Well, none except for the unusual fungus--but spacers picked up all sorts of gribblies in outer space, right?

Well, that notion, if it was present amongst the squad, began to gradually fade away as the ICBA men moved through the halls, going through the motions of opening doors, checking rooms and running bioscans using Fredricksen’s Bioscanner. Mainly, this was because the rooms themselves began to yield more signs of what had happened.

Martinez called out once more.

“HEY! ICBA! ANYONE HERE?! COME OUT! WE’RE HERE TO HELP!”

There was of course, no reply. Well, no reply except for a creaking. Martinez leveled his shotgun and aimed at the source of the creak. It seemed to come from behind a door. He waved for the others to follow, and soon, they were stacked up next to the door.

The creaking seemed to increase, and then fade, and increase again.

Then, on Search 2-1’s signal, Martinez cranked the manual opening lever, opening the door with some speed. A whoosh of air could be heard, and Martinez threw a flashbang inside. The flashbang popped and a flash of light emerged, before the team moved in to sweep the room, each man taking up a position inside the room as per standard ICBA protocol.

After a few minutes of frantic looking about, things calmed down, as Martinez and the rest realized there was no interloper here. A chorus of “clear!” could be heard from each man, one after the other. Search 2-1 directed the others to begin searching the room. His annoyed tone suggested they needed to find some way to justify this wasted time.

Martinez himself found the culprit. This time, it was a rather large...cat. A housecat by all indications. It seemed unusually fat, and it was curled back, resting on a rickety wooden shelf and nursing the pains it got from the flashbang. It also had fur which was falling out, and necrotizing black skin and bleeding out of its orifices.

The pointman lowered his shotgun, and breathed a sigh of relief--only for the cat to wake up, with a crazed look in its eyes, and a “RAWR!” The cat then suddenly leapt onto Martinez, blood drooling from the side of its mouth. Martinez grabbed the cat and after a brief struggle, pulled it away from his face--using just the right amount of power armored force--and then put it on the floor. The cat then scurried away, growling and seeming discombobulated as it moved erratically.
Fredricksen looked at the cat, and then frowned. Looking around the room, he saw a well used kitty-litter box, which had lots of red fungi blooms growing within it. Shaking his head, Fredricksen stood up before commenting out loud, “That cat had the same symptoms as the other dead guy we saw earlier. And there’s that red fungus in the litterbox.”

“Maybe it’s a fungus that affects both cats and humans?”, one of the team asked.

“Maybe,” was Fredricksen’s reply. “But how and why…..”

Search 2-1 cut off the inquiry with a stern, “We can figure it out as we do our search. Come on.”

***

The cat incident was just the beginning. By now, Fredricksen’s comms were beginning to pick up, and although infrequent, the other Search Teams were beginning to make their own reports. They were brief, but the details echoed a lot of what Fredricksen had seen. Bodies with necrotizing skin and bleeding out of random orifices. Red fungi. And frankly, both of that sort of thing on human and animal alike.

The Bioscanner, in the meanwhile, began picking up more signs involving the red fungi. Indeed, some corpses--those in advanced stages of decay--had what looked like entire forests’ worth of red fungi on them. If there were any other dead bodies, they too were covered in red fungi. Any houseplants, or animal corpses, or even leftover food? Red fungi.

The lights in the hallways began flickering even more now, with the red lights of the emergency lights becoming less and less visible. But even under those conditions--which were combated through shining their lights onto the walls and the hallways--the Team began to see more signs.

Namely, it looked like there were reddish-green stains on the walls. There was the requisite red fungi on the walls, but also signs that the thing feeding the fungi was blood.

“Well,” Fredricksen said, as he kept walking and walking...until he felt something squishy and hard under his feet...and then, trying to navigate it, tripped and fell over.

He found himself face to face with a member of the ship’s security who was sprawled out on the floor. But this man wasn’t going to be telling any tales soon. Especially not when he was missing the left half of his head, and the other half was in a decayed state with bits of flesh hanging off of it, the red fungus consuming what was left.

Fredricksen leapt up, panicked as the others shone a light upon the body.

As it turned out, there was more than one body. The team’s light captured the fact that there were now several corpses in like condition followed by a number of other corpses with necrotized skin and fungal blooms on, all of which were surrounding a door which had been forced open to a room which was marked “Captain’s Quarters.” The walls had holes, burn marks, and other telltale signs of violence all around, along with drying blood stains now used as fungus fodder.

Search 2-1 looked about, and knelt down, contemplating the way the bodies were arranged and looking at the environs before declaring, “Looks like these gentlemen died in a struggle guarding the captain….against those guys.”

Another man then declared, “Think they had a mutiny?”

“A mutiny maybe,” 2-1 thought out loud, adding with a shake of the head, “But these men with the black, necrotized flesh….they’re like the ones that we saw earlier.” Turning to Fredricksen, he asked, “AIn’t that right?”

Fredricksen nodded, saying simply, “Correct. I mean, whatever’s infected this crew….it looks like there were infected and non infected individuals, and something about all this drove the crew to kill each other. I mean, that red fungi had to be there for a reason….it’s just not coincidental.”

“Fungus which acts as a hate plague, maybe?” one man asked.

“Maybe, but it’s too early to tell. I’d rather get some science types out here to really break this down,” 2-1 said with a sigh. “Either way, this shit looks like it’s getting crazier by the minute--keep on your toes.”

Martinez, meanwhile, looked inside the opened entrance and called out to the rest and said, “What the hell--guys, you better take a look at this!”

The party turned, and then nodded, going to where Martinez was, peered inside. One man’s eyes widened, and 2-1 could be heard saying, “Jesus” in sheer disbelief.

The room was a large one, fit for a captain. And, it was a room which, under the red glowing lights and the ICBA team’s own lights, was encrusted with red fungi from top to bottom. It was like looking at an underwater coral reef, but instead of coral, there was lots of fungi. Fittingly, the Bioscanner began ticking and issuing warnings about hazardous levels of materials within. Luckily, all concerned had HAZMAT protection of some sort--the T-60 power armor suits used by some team members had built in NBC protections and the respirator-powered exoskeleton-coverall combo Fredricksen used was sealed tight against any gribblies in the air. Still, the sight was an astonishingly terrible one.

Under the red fungus there used to be things like medals, logbooks, pinups of gata models and a computer workstation. Now there was only a sea of red. As the team entered, there appeared to be a large collection of holes in a wall directly across from a room which had its door open a crack, and body parts and intact bodies on the floor. They were long since consumed by the fungus, but given the scene outside, it wasn’t hard to piece together the fact that some sort of fight had taken place.

Fredricksen radioed to Dispatch, out of astonishment at the sight, “Dispatch, this is Search 2-3. Are you seeing this?”

“Copy, Search 2-3. Be advised, we are witnessing other such feeds from Search Teams 1, 3 and 4, over.”


“Copy, Dispatch. We’re dealing with a major--”

Then, a thump and a rattle. Martinez raised his shotgun, and gestured in the direction of a room with its door open a notch.

“Standby Dispatch”, Fredricksen said.

2-1 nodded, and soon, stacking up in single file, Martinez kicked down the door.

The light from Martinez’s helmet showed a rather nasty sight. The object in question was a pump action shotgun which had evidently tumbled out of the hands of the body holding it. Well, what used to be a hand, before it rotted off of one of several corpses inside the bathroom. The several corpses in the bathroom, some consumed by red fungi and some others with necrotized flesh, were scattered all about, but arranged in such a way as to make it clear that whatever happened, someone was attacked whilst they were in the bath.

One of the corpses looked to be leaning back inside the tub, which now looked like a swampy mess caked with red fungus with a serving tray that once held a hamburger and a magazine which was now being rotted away. Next to the dead, reclined corpse, was a Beretta Model 92, held in the remnants of a rotted hand now consumed by red fungus. Bullet holes in the walls as well as evidence of shotgun blasts--one of which destroyed the sink--made it clear that some sort of struggle occurred in the bathroom. Who won was hard to say, especially given the fact no one got out alive. And did I mention the Bioscanner was going off the charts? After all, the fungus was consuming the whole bathroom.

Martinez recoiled at the sight, muttering a mere, “Fuck!” as he looked away from the dead men in the tub. Fredricksen looked in, and said, “Dispatch, Search 2-3 here. We’ve got multiple casualties and it looks like whatever did this is proving to be a major biological hazard, over.”

“Copy, Search 2-3. Search Leader requests you continue search and documentation of the unknown infection, over.”

Fredricksen looked up at the rest of the team, and asked, with some concern, “Did you guys get that?”

2-1, who was wearing power armor, nodded and said with a sigh, “Yeah. I got it.” Turning to the rest of his team, the squad leader motioned to the others and declared, “You heard the men. We push on.”

And so, they left the captain’s cabin and began moving further, with more of the red fungi in the halls and more signs that what happened here was very, very wrong.

But the worst was yet to come.

***

The journey eventually took the teams into the cargo bay.

Search Team 2, upon agreement with the other teams, opened the cargo bay entrance with a hand-operated crank, which opened a pair of blast doors. Team 2 stacked up on both sides of one of several entrances into the cargo hold as the door opened, all parties anticipating any potential attack. Given the sights they had seen so far, with mutineers, multiple deaths and a red fungus that seemed to be consuming the ship and inducing violence amongst the crew, anything could happen at this point.

After about 30 seconds, 2-1 radioed the other teams that he was going in, and the others acknowledged this with indication they would do likewise.

The inside of the cargo bay lay exposed to the team, and what was there made everyone keep their heads on a swivel, their motion detectors set to active, and Fredricksen’s bioscanner set to the widest and most probing ping setting possible.

Like any good cargo bay, the bay would be full of crates and other items, all of which seemed to form a maze that only those inside would be able to comprehend. In this case, there was a seemingly endless number of crates of all shapes and sizes. The logos on some of the crates and containers indicated that they were full of Scythian-made goods. There were also other logos as well. The NORINCO logo with the Red Star and the August 1st logo could be seen prominently on a number of crates which were marked “Returned Items” or “Top Secret--DO NOT OPEN!”. This made sense. What ICBA knew of the Golden Flower indicated it would be coming back from Scythian lands with a consignment of goods to be serviced under warranty as well as a number of items marked as “sewing and knitting machinery.” What sort of sewing and knitting machines needed to be classified was beyond the ICBA men, but it was clear the whole thing had been some sort of ruse.

At any rate, like the rest of the ship, it was filled with that infernal red fungi. The fungi seemed to grow positively wild in this place. It grew on the sides of the crates and containers. In some instances, it seemingly grew from the inside of the containers, although it was clear there had been some tampering with the crates and shipping containers. Some of the containers were marked as being food products, and Fredricksen knew that molds and fungi loved unrefrigerated spoiled food. And, it seemed to grow between containers, forming a bridge or even in one area a complete jungle canopy. There were also signs that the infection had even leapt onto the cranes and other machinery; Fredricksen figured that some men who died inside their machines provided new ground for the fungus.

And if the ominous red fungus covering the crates somehow still did not show there was a problem…

...then the shadow Martinez saw out of the corner of his eye would definitely show there was a problem. Martinez held his hand up in a clenched fist, and the team stopped. He made a few gestures, and Fredricksen soon fell in line with the rest, maintaining a tight formation as they began a more attentive, paranoid sweep of the area.

Weapons were drawn, eyes were opened and no sounds were made, save for the odd notification from Fredricksen’s Bioscanner and the motion sensors. The scanner was going nuts, detecting lifesigns not just from the fungus but also amongst the crates. That didn’t help things, especially as in this growing red jungle, no one could see where was what.

For several minutes, no one spoke as they navigated through the maze of crates. Not even the radio chatter came back, save for the chatter from Dispatch. Everyone seemed laser focused on trying to watch the crates--nooks, crannies, and all--to try and figure out if something was there.

Something was out there, and it was not the ICBA teams.

***

Time seemed to slow to a crawl inside the maze. Team 2 was now approaching a particularly narrow, thickly infested part of the cargo bay, and at one point, 2-1 had to use a sonic screwdriver to break down the wall of fungus and crates blocking his path.

Still, there was so far no sign of anyone, save for the signs on the motion detectors and bioscanner.

Then, out of the corner of Fredricksen’s eye, he saw a figure move. He turned and aimed his shotgun at the figure with one hand and held his fist up with the other to stop the movement of the team, but the figure vanished as soon as he turned.

Shaking his head, Fredricksen turned and looked about at the team.

“Thought I saw something. Stay sharp.”

“No shit,” was Martinez’s reply.

The party continued to move on….and then Fredricksen saw the figures move again--and heard footsteps. Looking around, he heard creaking and the repeated pitter patter of crawling and running. 2-1 stopped the team, and everyone looked around for where the movement was coming from. But given that there were so many moving figures around somewhere near them, it was hard to pinpoint what direction it was coming from.

And just as suddenly, the movement stopped. The team began moving again, this time, huddling near one of the containers as they sought to minimize the angle at which someone could ambush them. Something out there was toying with them, trying to get them to become sloppy. To make mistakes. ICBA’s people were, to their credit, not giving in.

As they approached a large crate...Fredricksen felt something kick him in the head, and wrap itself around him within a matter of seconds, before a sharp pain in his side came.

***

“SON OF A BITCH!”

With that shout, the fight was on. Fredricksen tried to fight the creature off, as did the other guards. The entity screamed all manner of incoherent obscenties, screaming about “It HURTS! IT HURTS! MAKE IT STOP!” as it tried to dig into Fredricksen. Fredricksen did not lack fighting strength, due to his powered exoskeleton. Grabbing onto the creature, and finagling a position, Fredricksen eventually executed an over the shoulder toss--with another man’s help--sending the creature onto the floor.

The creature was smarting from the blow, revealing itself to be what used to be a human being in some sort of industrial jumpsuit covered in blood and with black, necrotized flesh, much like the men the ICBA men had seen before out in the halls. He had a knife in one hand, and it was dripping with blood. If they needed an answer as to what happened out there exactly, the presence of a crazed man who was evidently being driven mad by some sort of disease provided as strong an answer as any.

Howling and screaming in incoherent terror, the man tried to rush the party, only to be dropped by two blasts from Fredricksen’s shotgun. The blasts sent him sprawling on the pavement, albeit twitching. The party then took cover, and Fredricksen soon found himself at the attention of 2-1 who was trying to evaluate him for wounds. 2-1 muttered, as Fredricksen felt the pain now that the situation was over and began noticing the bleeding and pain, “Jesus H. This is bad. He stabbed you good in the side--thankfully, we’ve got a ship nearby whose crew can keep you from dying. Hold on.” Picking up his radio, 2-1 began to discuss how they needed to beam Fredricksen out, as he was stabbed in the side and likely needed immediate medical attention.

As Fredricksen was being examined by 2-1, the call was then interrupted in a very dramatic fashion. Namely, a loud howling could be heard--and a hail of loud CRACK-ZING sounds and a series of blue bolts flew at a nearby crate, ripping it to shreds of hot metal and fire. The bursts were delivered at random, but it was enough to catch the Dornalians off guard. And in the case of one of their men, to disintegrate him using sheer physics.

2-1 motioned for everyone to get down, as he peered out into the distance.

To his horror, a large platoon of men similar to that of the man they just killed was forming on top of the crates and outside of the nooks and crannies of the crates. Their numbers were growing--even if their bodies looked positively ready to fall apart.. Worse yet, many of them had their arms ready to go, and seemed to recall how to use them.

Adding fuel to the fire was that it appeared to Fredricksen that multiple members of the forming mob had a Model 918 Squad Automatic Weapon, a weapon which was generally good at ripping holes into cover and reducing humans to atomized ashes. The rest were wildly firing pistols, rifles and shotguns, and several of them just seemed to be charging at Search Team 2, intent on doing some sort of bodily harm.

Indeed, the sudden uptick in violent shouting and gunfire which seemed to erupt from other parts of the cargo bay suggested that Search Team 2 was not the only squad under attack--nor were these the sole survivors of what had once been a merchant crew.

The squad began blasting back at their assailants as they attempted to withdraw. With animalistic ferocity, the men with the Model 918 squad automatic began firing long, wild bursts at Search Team 2, screaming at them as the others began running like men possessed at the team. The team itself began a desperate run, keeping in formation as they began to cover each others’ escapes. Fredricksen found himself leveling his shotgun at the frenzied foe, firing over and over again as waves of 00 buckshot flew into the ranks of those howlers that got too close, as he ran backwards.

As they fled, the squad leader shouted into his comms.

“Dispatch Actual, this is Search 2-1, we’re under attack, repeat we are under attack. We’re attempting to reach a safe exfil point, prepare to beam up. Repeat, prepare to beam up! OVER!”

“Copy Search 2-1. Keep us advised, we’re working on a solution, over.”

The team kept moving back, trying to find the cargo bay exit they had went through. Loud, blazing firepower could be heard from both the ICBA men and their infected foes, and bullets, gauss slugs and blaster bolts whizzed past the team as they tried to make good their escape. And it was looking good….until a loud WHIIIIRRRRRR---CREEEEEAAAK---THUD! Was heard.

Turning around, it looked like the infected crew had tipped over a forklift and a large shipping crate, so as to block their exit. The squad looked at it, and then looked back at the horde, and then looked back at the debris blocking their path.

Search 2-1 then shouted, “Let’s go! Move that shit!”

The men in power armor bullrushed the debris, beginning an effort to remove the debris as those with mere exoskeletons began firing away at the horde to provide cover. One of the ex-crew punched Fredricksen in the face, and then tried to bite him before Fredricksen sundered the man in half with blasts of buckshot.

Still, the horde kept coming, and it was proving fairly obvious that Fredricksen would be out of ammunition soon. Then, the fortutious cry of, “I’ve got it open! RUN!” from one of the power armor troopers, who had shoved aside the junk and pried the door open enough to make an exit.

All of Search Team 2 ran out of the cargo bay and into the halls again. As the squad tried to get into cover, Search 2-1 could be heard calling for evac again….and this time, the squad beamed away…

….into the ICBA ship. The other teams had made it as well, and before long, all personnel breathed a sigh of relief.

Then, came the realization that they were not in the transporter room, but in the inside of a large tent, set up somewhere in the cargo bay. Fredricksen saw the men around him--men in white protective suits, with scanners and other medical equipment, all of them with the CDC and ICBA logos, although the ICBA men had additional insignia corresponding to those customs personnel responsible for handling biohazards which entered the CRE. Men and women were being stripped down to their skivvies, and their equipment--all of it--being swabbed and run under scans.

Fredricksen asked simply, trying not to double over from the pain of being stabbed in the side and putting as much pressure as he could on the wound dressing, “What happened? What’s going on?”

One of the men in a white protective suit--this man was from ICBA--said, matter of factly as he escorted Fredricksen to a bed for examination, “Well, Warrant Officer, I’ll be frank with you. Everybody saw that footage the Search Teams took, and well….we’ve initiated Code Black Quarantine Protocols.”

“Code Black? Code Black!?” was Fredricksen’s reply. The tone of his voice signified that indeed, Code Black was a very bad signal to hear.

“That’s right,” the man said with a sigh. “We’ve sealed you folks off from the outside world, as well as this whole vessel. And frankly, until we get the go-ahead to do so, you fellas are going to be here for a long, long time. We’ve also disengaged from the Golden Flower, although a ship will be sent in to put that vessel under quarantine and contain the infection inside, and sterilize as needed.” The man quickly added, “Can’t have zombies gumming up the works after all.” Gesturing to Fredricksen’s armor, the man then said, with a tone that brooked no resistance, “Alright, now. Take off your wargear. We need to address that stab wound, you're lucky to be alive as is--and we want to make sure you stay that way.”

“Well.”

***

As that occurred, a signal came from the regional ICBA office. It was routed on the most secure ICBA contact channel possible to all the relevant federal agencies. THe words were simple.

Code: Select all
“Unknown infection found.  Patrol vessel [i]Kreuzmann[/i] is currently under quarantine per Code Black protocols, as is M/V [i]Golden Flower.[/i]  Advise CDC, ICBA Health and Safety Inspectorate, and any and all relevant agencies to prepare personnel to visit the above-mentioned ships and to perform research on any and all samples gathered, as well as to provide information on the M/V [i]Golden Flower[/i].  So far, last known destination was the Scythian Empire.  Infection is a fungal disease of some unknown nature.  Will continue to monitor for updates.”


As this occurred, a copy of the message quietly, somehow and some way, fell into the grip of a most Compassionate Hand. But that’s a story for another to tell.
Last edited by New Dornalia on Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"New Dornalia, a living example of anomalous civilizations."-- Phoenix Conclave
"Your nation has always been ridiculous. But it's endearing."--Skaugra
"It's a magical place where chinese cowboys ply the star lanes to extract vast wealth from trade, where NORINCO isn't just an arms company, but an evil bond villain type conglomerate that hides in other nations. Where the apocalypse happened, and everyone went "huh, that's neat" and then got back to having catgirls and starships."-- Olimpiada
"...why am I space China, and I don't have actual magic animals, and you're space USA, and you do? This seems like a mistake." --Roania, during a discussion on wildlife.

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Macisikan
Diplomat
 
Posts: 981
Founded: Apr 17, 2004
Democratic Socialists

Postby Macisikan » Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:52 am

Agrela’s High Garden, Tichel, The Imperial State, UIK
RK3394

Eight hours after the Golden Flower Incident

The ICBA report glowed balefully in the air; next to it, flickering images of horror ran to a close, leaving only silence in the Security Council chamber.

“When you had something urgent to bring us, Director-General, I assumed it was something serious, not the latest Colonial horror movie,” those acid-tinged tones belonged to the Delegate from Maa Nimi, a pompous contrary turd whose name Thakur had never bothered to remembered. His scepticism was his only good quality, but sometimes, just sometimes, he let it get the better of him.

Like now. Director-General Kavar, seated next to her, was serving the delegate with a very flat stare. The last time she’d seen anyone get served that look, it was right before the Migou turned Tellestia into an ice bucket. They were still digging up the bodies fifty years later.

“The Benignity does not have a sense of humour,” that soft voice belonged to Dame Tepuky, the Chair. “At least, not one where they would joke about something like this,” she let out a soft sigh, and then invited comments.

Thakur kept a mental tally as they went around the table; comments that were insightful, ones that were not, and ones that were dangerous. Fortunately, this time, the last column ended with a zero in it. Most, of course, ended in the second category. Just noise. Still, at least this wasn't turning into a meeting that could've been a memo. Post-scarcity and they still carried that curse. She waited until they had all said their piece, and then looked to the Chair, who met her gaze with a raised eyebrow. She answered with a slight tilt of the chin.

“Madame Thakur, do you have any input?”

“I do, Madame Chair, thank you. I agree with the delegate from Varatuja; this would panic our organic population,” she nodded to the relevant people as she spoke. “And I also agree with the delegate from Hiltari; although the Colonial Republic can be expected to be sensible, most others cannot, and the Colonials are an open society, meaning that they will take time to enforce the necessary measures. I would like to thank the Delegate from Blessed Redeemer for her suggestion, and think it is sound.”

The delegate in question blinked; she was trying to remember exactly what suggestion she’d made that was now being endorsed by the true power on the Council.

“A full quarantine of the UIK?” Dame Tepuky tilted her head, considering.

“With two exceptions; synthetics and transferees. So long as they are properly sterilised,” she allowed a tight smile for that. There was nodding around the table; even Maa Nimi, who had opened his mouth to object initially, but closed it at the subtle stress on “properly”, seemed satisfied.

“Shall we make it formal then?” the Chair asked. “The proposal from Blessed Redeemer for a full quarantine of the UIK with immediate effect; all in favour of adopting that suggestion as a formal measure? Passed… unanimously. Sir Adri, would you kindly see that advice is provided…”

While she gave instructions, Thakur leaned towards Kavar.

This infection isn’t natural,” she breathed. “Find out where it came from, who released it, and why. Do what you must.



Image
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

From: Office of the Vice-Minister, Vice-Ministry for External Affairs
Attn: The governments of all embassy nations
Subject: Visa Allocations and import restrictions

His Serene Majesty’s Government has implemented the following restrictions:
  • All visa allocations and releases are suspended.
  • All non-diplomatic visas of persons presently in the United Imperial Kingdoms (UIK) lapse in five (5) standard days’ time or on their expiry date, whichever is sooner;
  • All persons presently passing through customs are advised their visas are cancelled and they are to return home;
  • Any foreign diplomatic personnel who leave the UIK cannot return;
  • No new foreign diplomatic personnel will be admitted to the UIK;
  • All imported biological material brought to the UIK within the last thirty days going forward is to be returned by the importer to the originating nation or it will be seized and destroyed; compensation will be provided at market rates by HSMG upon application;
  • Synthetics and transferee-equivalents subjected to total biological sterilisation methods may secure an exemption upon application.

This measure is implemented with immediate effect and without exception other than that specified, and will remain in effect until otherwise stated.

As per usual, persons from nations lacking embassy representation are forbidden entry to the UIK.

The Imperial Space Service will enforce this measure with extreme prejudice; one warning will be given to violators.

By order,
A. Trivkaal
___________________________
Sir Ardri Trivkaal
His Serene Majesty's Vice-Minister
Vice-Ministry for External Affairs
United Imperial Kingdoms of Macisikan
Please address your messages/threats/lies to:
The current cycle is: RKI:12ED

--FT Nations: Sir Ardri Trivkaal, HSM Vice-Minister for External Affairs
--Everyone else: Sir Conradin Nuchani, HSM Vice-Minister for Subluminal Affairs


Quick Overview | Full Factbook | Embassy Programme | Maintenance thread | The demonym is "Macisikani." | I do not use the NS stats, or any trackers or calculators.

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Lady Scylla
Post Marshal
 
Posts: 15414
Founded: Nov 22, 2015
New York Times Democracy

Postby Lady Scylla » Thu Oct 25, 2018 6:48 pm

The Empire Must Survive

Bullets cracked over their heads as they ran. A large destroyer touched down in the distance, sending shockwaves through the ground. It's face opened up and began to fire its lance at ground targets. The thunderous sounds of helicopters filled the air as they flew overhead. Rockets trailed before them, careening into buildings, and tearing them open. The crowds screamed. Behind them were the lines of military police, the Sovereign Guard, with their bright lightshields illuminating the chaos, and the flashes of their weapons betraying their intent.

''Under orders by the Sovereign Government, there is an active quarantine in effect. All citizens are expected to remain in quarantine zones until further notice. Failure to comply will be met with lethal force. Citizens found outside quarantine zones will be met with lethal force. Citizens found outside during curfew will be met with lethal force. This is for your protection. Report infections to your nearest Sovereign Guard checkpoint,'' boomed the loudspeakers.

For these people, it was already too late. They had chosen to flee. As bodies dropped around them, the group was being funnelled down block by block as each street corner was met with more lines of the military. They were being corralled into a killzone: Augustina Square. Those fortunate enough to have their own shuttles attempted to leave, but were quickly shotdown by the destroyers that had landed. As the panicked crowd reached the square, it was barely lit, and quiet. Their attention was drawn upwards though at the light fast approaching. From a distance, at the nearest destroyer which towered above the city, an officer watched but had to turn away as the flash ensued. A small, tactical warhead had been deployed to great affect. But this wasn't uncommon to this city alone.

From space, aboard the 71st Task Force, those on the decks of the dreadnought, SRV Hercules, could see the flashes across the planet's surface.

''What are the latest reports?'' the Marshal asked, as she sat down at a table in the comfort of the palace.

A naval officer by the name of Gram had also taken a seat, at the request of the sovereign. He opened up a folder, and glanced at the reports looking for general summaries.

''Three systems have seen infections. Gorgon, Minotaur, and New Helios,'' he said.

A plate of food was delivered to the Marshal, the former Empress, as another was given to Gram as a courtesy, though he respectfully declined. She began to cut into what looked like steak topped with gravy, and sided with cherry tomatoes, and some mashed potatoes. She gestured with her hands often as she spoke, which was discomforting to the naval officer when she had a knife in one.

''Since we've declared these systems under martial law, how effective have our measures been?'' asked Suzume.

''Well, there are many complying with the quarantine, but we've had to resort to more direct measures to contain those who won't. A number of tac--''

He was cut off by the wave of her hand. ''I know what that means, I don't need the details, Captain,'' she said, wiping her mouth with a napkin. ''It's grim. I'm aware, but we've faced Karax three times before. You're aware of the national motto, Mr. Gram, but do you know why it is that? The history, I mean,'' she said, pointing a tomato at him on the end of her fork.

He shook his head, ''I do not, Marshal.''

''When the first plague struck, and million started dying, and we started losing system after system, we had to resort to strenuously grim measures to contain what became an existential threat. Karax is unlike any other disease we've ever faced. It does not conform to any criteria in biology, and refuses to do so. In the face of this tragedy, the motto of our nation was born,'' she said, taking another bite of her steak.

''The Empire must survive,'' Gram said sombrely.

Suzume sat her silverware down, wiped her mouth again and sighed. ''We do what we have to, in order to protect the rest of the Empire. We cannot afford compassion with something like this. All it takes is one escape, and we've lost another world,'' she said, reassuring him.

Gram swallowed, and sat back in the chair for a moment, closing the folder. ''Do you still wish to order the blackout for these systems?''

Suzume nodded. ''We can't afford a panic. I'll authorise the strikes here soon. Noone leaves these systems alive, Mr Gram. Billions are at stake.''

He nodded, slid from the chair, gave her a bow, and departed.

***

''This is Admiral Reslan, commence with the sterilisation protocol''

As the military began to withdraw from the planet below. Those who had complied with quarantine found themselves walled in. Above them, the dome of a shield began to manifest, locking them down completely but also to serve as a barrier for what was to come. High above, in orbit, hundreds of large, slender ships had amassed. They were the titans of the Radiant's navy. As they began to pivot, bluish light could be seen along the edge of the vessels. There was a countdown.

Those outside quarantine saw many bright stars that night. They came across the skies in brilliant streaks, and as they hit the atmosphere, the clouds vanished, and the heat on the surface grew. Across the planet, these rays of light hit the ground, and as they did, they were followed with the brightest of flashes as the surface of the planet was sanitised. Great fires spanning thousands of miles crawled across the landscapes from horizon to horizon, not a thing stood beyond these quarantine zones. Those outside them had only enough time to remark on the beauty of such a light, before being vaporised. Buildings were turned brittle and swept away like sand. For many meters into the ground, not a single organic thing could be located. Their destruction was complete. All life outside the zones had been eradicated.

The Red Death had returned.

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Auman
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Father Knows Best State

Postby Auman » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:27 pm

John was standing with the mayor in a muddy road, which was dotted with small puddles, that filled the pot holes and tire tracks and reflected the grey sky above them. Rain pattered gently on the long leaves of a wild rhododendron. He did his best to keep up with the mayor's rambling monologs, but it was mostly just wind. The man had a way of speaking without conveying information, probably just nervous. They were waiting on the doctor the Aumanii Bureau of Communicable Diseases was sending out, just at the edge of town. They would have met her at the landing site, but the road was washed out by a flashflood and his EPV was out at the mechanic's being washed down and detailed. It had been a messy couple of days.

They found most of the missing miners, they'd wandered through the woods for quite awhile and they found two of them on the way to the mass casualty site... One was sitting up against a tree, covered in crystalized matter that spread in red streaks all around him. The other had rolled into a ravine and had been reduced to a mound of fluffy pink matter that reminded him of cotton candy... The rest they found piled up on Raven Ridge, a rocky outcropping about two kilometers high that overlooked the town... The mayor said you could see the fire from Broadway. Corvus collected samples and then they burned the bodies. The count was disturbing, though. Fourteen men were still missing, they could still be alive and well, but what disturbed Aphelia was the possibility, almost certain now according to the netfeed, that they had gotten offworld.

If this world was the source of the infection, which was a longshot assumption to begin with.

John checked his watch and it was just after noon. They were late, but it was to be expected. Broadway, just south of town, opened up into a trackless field, ringed by tall evergreens that swayed hard to the east, formed over their lives by strong winds that came in fall and didn't give up until summer came fifteen months later. It reminded him of a tidal wave, it was neat.

Corvus lit a cigarette and shifted from side to side on the balls of his feet. He was anxious to get back to the investigation and didn't care much for the fine folks at ABCD. He was superseded, of course... Corvus was a good cop, but he never finished medical school and that meant he was out of his depth. It grated him.

"Our town will stand the test of time, Sergeant, you mark my words! We're survivors, every one!"

This caught John's attention and he picked up an eyebrow.

"You're absolutely right, Mayor West. The people of Hope Valley are going to get through this, absolutely."

The mayor's posture picked up, he had been saying it so often that it seemed like he was trying to convince himself that everything was going to be alright, to soothe his own fears by projecting a confidence that he didn't actually have feel. The mayor looped his thumbs into a pair of rainbow suspenders that he wore, he said they were lucky. John hoped so, for everyone's sake.

"So, Sergeant, can we go over the details again?" Mayor West's eye twinkled, a glimmer of hope returning so it seemed.

"The Bureau is putting their lander down in Grimm's Farm, from there they'll take a hopper right out here. Radio has been a bit choppy, but they said it might take awhile. The wind is something else out here, tries its best to keep everything out." John turned and clapped Mayor West on the should reassuringly. "We're in good hands."

"They're almost here." Said Corvus, dropping his smoke into a puddle with a hiss. The hopper was shaped like a dagger and painted with a thick horizontal band of white overtop of black that ran the length of the fuselage from nose to tail. It looked like an Orca whale breaching the water as it turned towards them. The machine was utterly silent as it landed, the only sign of its presence was the slight pull one felt towards the gravitic motor as it touched down. The water in the puddles leaned towards the hopper and sloshed lightly when the motor was cut. John, Corvus, Mayor West and Aphelia, projecting an image of herself in a crisp field serge, approached.

The side doors slid open and a couple of robots like Corvus jumped out, they saluted lazily and helped the doctor debark. It was a woman...

Janet?

-

They were all treated to a late lunch over at Abilene's Diner. Salisbury steak doused with a white gravy, a dollop of purple rice and a few slices of beets. Beets, as John found out the hard way, turn a man's shit red... The first time it happened to him, he panicked thinking he was infected, now he was used to it. Farmer Grimm's prized crop, those beets. Didn't have them on Leptis Prime. John cut into a slice and ate it. He glanced up at Janet, she sat across from him tensely. The meal was quiet and Mayor West, seated with his darling wife, Louise, tried to break the tension with a joke.

"What do you call a cow with no legs?" He asked, his eyes darting around the table expectantly.

"By the Articles of Foundation..." Corvus recoiled in disgust, he'd heard this one before.

"Ground beef!"

Janet froze, but John smiled a guilty smile. It didn't help, Mayor West coughed, defeated.

"So, Dr. Harekka, what's the next step?" Aphelion asked, her voice was even.

Janet Harekka brought a serviette to her mouth and dabbed gently, looking directly at Aphelion. John watched her, hoping he could get her attention and feeling a little hurt that she wouldn't even look at him.

She kept my name, that has to mean something. John thought, sighing to himself and trying his best to avoid painful memories.

"Your Marshall has done an acceptable job here. There hasn't been any new cases reported in town for over a week. After lunch, I'll get Morus to analyze the samples further while I check up on the patients in the infirmary. Mr. Mayor, I'd very much like to speak to your town's doctor, as soon as possible." Janet's voice was clipped and professional, with an affected coldness that struck John in the chest like a cannonball. He had seen her at work, she has good bedside manner... She's charismatic and easy to warm up to. He assumed it was because of him and what he did. Fair bet that it was his presence in the room that was causing her to act so out of character. He kicked himself, inwardly. Regret for decades of failure and neglect washed over him.

He ate another beet.

"Uh... Yes... We don't actually have a doctor. The patients have all been treated by the first aid man from Lafarge. We converted the lunchroom at the concrete plant into an infirmary." Mayor West said sheepishly.

Janet's brow furrowed over blue eyes.

"A first aid attendant? What kind of training do they have?"

"He's an EMR, emergency medical responder."

Janet looked over to Morus for an answer, but John had it first, "It's like an OFA III."

She looked at him, square in the eye and for a moment he thought he saw something, but it disappeared before he could tell for sure. She looked down at her plate and picked up her knife and fork again, cutting into the Salisbury steak.

"I'm impressed, Mayor West. The reports that they have been filing are pretty good, considering. I thought I was dealing with at least a nurse practitioner."

"He was a Hospitaller with the Third a decade ago, so the rumor goes. I don't know for sure, but he knows more than he lets on." Mayor West beamed with pride, a member of his community drawing praise was a boon to the entire town.

"We have been keeping the town updated. Every time there's a development, the mayor has the people over to the church to talk things out. It's been very helpful. Especially since the Sergeant arrived." Louise said pleasantly, her voice was small and high, like a mouse.

Janet met Louise's eyes and said "I'm glad the Sergeant could help you."

The words stung John's heart, they were an accusation as much as placation.

They finished their meal in awkward silence and when they stood up to leave, the mayor asked if it would be appropriate to have another townhall meeting tonight...

"Better to head off the grapevine." Said Mayor West.

"You're right and when I have something for them to hear, I'd love to speak to the town. Tonight would be fine."

Janet shook hands with Mayor West, Louise too and turned to follow them out of the diner.

"Janet, can we talk for a minute?" John asked, his voice was low and quiet with nerves. Louise looked to Janet and then John, and back again. Morus stepped toward John and Corvus unfolded his arms, getting ready for a fight.

"Yes, we can talk, John."

Morus leaned towards Janet and said something too quiet to hear. She shook her head. "It's fine."

Everyone piled out of the diner. It was just them now. When Janet turned around, her face was hard and stoney, like a megalith.

"Twenty two years." She said.

"I know." He answered.

"I needed you and you weren't there, John. You disappeared and twenty two years later, I find you here dressed in a policeman's uniform. What happened to you?" Anger boiled just beneath her features, threatening to explode like a volcano.

"I don't know."

"I don't believe it."

"When it happened, I was in so much grief and pain, I just ran."

"And what about me, John? You don't think I was in pain? That I wasn't hurting?"

"I wasn't thinking anything."

"You never do."

Janet walked out before he could say anything. He sighed, let the shame blow out of him and blinked hard.

"Well, that could have gone better." Corvus sniggered.

"You were listening?" John's anger flashed white hot.

"Always." Said Aphelia. "C'mon, let's get back to work. The EPV is all cleaned up."

The urge to skip town and head out into the wilderness was strong, but something inside of John kept his feet planted. "No, we have to prepare for the townhall tonight, it's going to be a big one, I think. Aphelia, can you call Pastor Hogan up and see if he can prepare the rites? I think it would be meaningful. Hope Valley has lost too much, they need a night to heal."

"That's a good idea, Sarge." Corvus said before coming in through the door. John felt disembodied, hearing his partner in his ear and right in front of him at the same time.
Last edited by Auman on Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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The Peninsular
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 121
Founded: Apr 04, 2017
New York Times Democracy

Postby The Peninsular » Thu Nov 01, 2018 1:39 pm

Gatepoint Hansa, Arrival Section, 4:00 MTT.
CMO’s office


Aplo Dell fell into his office chair. Less sleep due to his work was one thing, but the meeting on the updated set of travel regulations had taken hours, leaving the 70-year-old with even less sleep than usual. ‘Oh well’, he thought and reached for a small capsule, holding it against the side of his neck and pressing the button on it. The injection took only around the second, and few moments after it he could already feel his mind clearing, the drowsiness and fatigue being washed away. Getting into an upright position, he pulled himself closer to his desk, as his computer had already started.

The first thing Aplo did was, as he always did, activate the Dornalian-built food replicator built into the office wall. “One cup of Breu, computer.” The machine beeped. “Dispensing beverage.” He reached for the cup that appeared in the replicator chamber, turned back to his computer and took a sip. Immediately, he shuddered. Turning back to the replicator, he put the cup back in. “One hot cup of Breu, with sugar, computer.” Again, the device beeped, and he again took the cup and took a sip, only burn his tongue. He sighed and put the steaming cup onto his desk to cool down. “I’ll have to reconfigure this thing after work”, he said for the 431st time since he started working as the arrival section’s CMO.

After he had logged into his computer, he went through his notifications, as usual. Planned traffic into the CFP, passenger numbers of the ships that were supposed to be arriving soon, the usual reports from the other station doctors. ‘Already heard about that… already read that yesterday… not important…’, he thought to himself while swiping through the list. However, one thing caught his eye, a report from one of his subordinates, the doctor at Arrival Section Hospital C. The Arrival Section Hospitals were not so much hospitals as they were large medical offices to treat any sick people in the Arrival Section; more serious cases would be relegated to the Arrival Section’s actual hospital.

Aplo carefully read through the report; it had come in no less than 10 minutes ago. According to it, ASH C had received a patient, a young Eridani adult, apparently. Going on, the report mentioned that the patient had been experiencing – quote – “excruciating” pain in the stomach region, and everything was being prepared for a transfer to the Arrival Section’s hospital. What was very worrying, according to the report, was the fact that med-scans showed an overwhelming immune response being triggered on a large scale; furthermore, certain regions of the stomach area seemed to harden increasingly. Aplo stopped short as another ping from his notifications rang out. He read the title. ‘FHO Report – Urgent’, it said. He opened it, skimming through it, then he called the doctor at ASH C: “Stay at the ASH, I coming down to take a look.”

-------

Regulations for the station’s medical personnel entailed that serious cases were to be treated only by personnel with the correct equipment to protect themselves. As this was the case, when Aplo arrived, he was given a sleek HazMat suit before entering the sterile room. Waiting for him were the doctor and two assistants, standing at the cot on which the patient was lying. “We’ve given him painkillers to ease the pain, connected him to the vital monitors and run several scans on him.”, said the doctor.

“Something seems to be building inside of his stomach area, the computer classifies it as fiber. Not much, but at this rate, I’ll give it 1 ½ days flat before it takes up the whole room in there. My suggestions would be a surgical removal, as soon as possible.” Aplo, who was taking a look at the patient’s vital sings, stopped short. “Fibers?”, he asked. “And what about his immune system?” “Oh, it’s going crazy. Almost a small cykotine storm in that area, and it’s spreading. Something is prompting the immune system all over the area to react, but it does much more damage than good.”

Aplo looked onto his tablet, the doctor not being able to see his worried face behind the mask. Trying to act as calm as possible, he responded: “Very well. Bring him to the hospital, but in a sealed room. Transport him in an airbag; I want full quarantine measures. For all we know, anything could be doing this.” He was surprised how easily the lie came over his lips. He had already realized full well what it was, but didn’t want to spill it and possibly risk a panic.

Pretending to being busy doing something on his tablet, he watched as the doctor and his assistants strapped an air bag over the patient’s cot, filling it with oxygen and making their way through the decontamination room to the station’s medical transport tubes, a fast method to move patients behind the scenes.

After they were gone, he quickly looked onto his tablet. The first wave of people would be let out of the Arrival Section in half an hour. Taking his communicator, he dialed Station Control. As the officer answered, he cut him off: “This is CMO Dr. Dell. Just got a match on the FHO report. Lock down the station, seal off the Arrival Section, and notify border control. No one gets off the station as long as we don’t know how far the disease has spread. The same goes for the borders, but I'm fairly sure the government has received the report already as well. With any luck this one’s the only one right now. Hold on, I’m getting a notification.” He looked onto his tablet. ‘Report ASH F’. Opening it and skimming through it, he only found two words to utter.

“Ah, shit.”
10000 Islands

The Constitutional Federation of the Peninsular is an FT nation.

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Lady Scylla
Post Marshal
 
Posts: 15414
Founded: Nov 22, 2015
New York Times Democracy

Postby Lady Scylla » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:44 am

Across the capital of New Hong Kong, the jewel of the Radiant, the sirens stirred a flood of panic. Suzume ran to the balcony of her office, where her palace overlooked western half of the city. ''Ma'am, we need to leave, now,'' a Sovereign Guardsman said, stepping up beside her with an outstretched hand. Large plumes of smoke could be seen rising in the west, beyond the castle's walls.

''I need a report, soldier, what the hell is going on?'' she spoke.

''Ma'am, our containment has been broken. Karax is on Ares,'' he answered. An explosion in the distance rocked the city, drawing their attention. ''There's more to it than just that, but we need to get to safety, my lady, we can't stay here,'' he followed.

She finally heeded his warning and followed him. As they left her quarters, the staff of the palace were in a frenzy. Papers had fallen all over the floor, and the Sovereign Guard's presence had significantly increased. They came down a flight of stairs, and headed for an elevator. More explosions could be heard, even from deep within the palace. ''Why aren't we launching a quarantine?'' Suzume asked her escort. The man had been pale since he'd retrieved her and there wasn't an immediate reply.

''This infection. It's different. There's... creatures,'' he said pressing a button for the lift.

''What do you mean, creatures?''

Suzume

''Scylla?'' the Empress said, she was used to speaking allowed, even if noone else could hear the AI. The guard gave her a look.

There's an Archive on Ares. It has been activated. You need to flee.

''What are you talking about? I thought Hades was the only place with an Archive in this system?'' she spoke.

''The elevator isn't working ma'am, we need to use the stairs,'' the guard said. It was then that the palace's power went out, and they were cast in darkness.

Suzume. Run. The palace has been infiltrated.

''Infil--'' she looked at the guard, as some fibrous material could be seen at the edges of his lips. She backed up.

''Ma'am, I must insist you follow me downstairs, it's not s-s-safe,'' he said, stepping towards her.

Suzume shook her head, ''No, no, no, no.''

In the darkness, she could see the glow of his eyes, and of her staff. ''You must come,'' they said, as they began to line the hall.

Jump through the window, Suzume, behind you.

Scylla, help!

Jump!

Suzume turned and ran. She jumped just as the things were on her. Shielding her face, she smashed through the window, and stared at a seven storey drop.

SCYLLA!

A ship came careening around the corner, with its cockpit open. This is going to hurt, Suzume Scylla communicated, just as it slammed into the Empress. She screamed and scrambled inside as the cockpit closed, and pressed against the window. There were fires across the city, and people running in the streets.

''Scylla, what the fuck is going on?''

A screen appeared on the ship, taking a moment to scan Suzume. ''An unknown archive was activated on Ares. Shortly after, I intercepted a transmission, commands. Then the infections began here. Unlike the previous infections, this is different. It appears. Intelligent. I do not have enough data to reach a conclusion at this time. However, we must leave. I fear Ares is lost.'' Scylla spoke, talking through the ship's onboard computer.

''What about my sister? Xia's down there!''

''I'm sorry, Suzume. We can not allow this to spread,'' Scylla responded.

''No, no, no. You're turning this thing around right now, Scylla! Do it or I'm ejecting myself! We have to save my sister!'' Suzume began to pull at the lever, but even the manual override had been disabled, refusing to allow her to even open the canopy. She began to bang on the glass, trying to get out as the city continued to shrink in the distance. ''Scylla...''

''I'm sorry.''

There was a bright flash in the distance where New Hong Kong was that enveloped the city. A mushroom cloud followed, and Suzume sank into her seat. Her gut was turning as she stared at the stars. ''Where... where are we going?'' she asked, taking heavy breaths.

''The UIK if possible. They've instated strong quarantine measures, and there we can plan our next step,'' Scylla said.

Suzume brushed her hair from her face, and leaned against the cold glass of the ship as they left Ares' orbit. Suzume wiped her eyes, ''You killed my sister, she was all the family I had left.''

''I will search for her if I can, Suzume. I'm truly sorry. It was spreading too fast. I thought a quick death would be preferable to an agonising one,'' Scylla responded.

Suzume furrowed her brows and shook her head, kicking the monitor several times until the screen cracked, ''You should've left me, Scylla.''

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Macisikan
Diplomat
 
Posts: 981
Founded: Apr 17, 2004
Democratic Socialists

Postby Macisikan » Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:51 pm

New Hong Kong, Ares, The Radiant
RK3394.12.02

Embassy of the UIK

“Excellency? Karax is in the city.”

Lord Khyan didn’t even spare his aide a second glance; after the Security Council quarantine order, the staff had pulled back into the mission. As the situation had worsened, they’d swapped their bioforms out for synforms, all smooth metal and chrome and moulded plastics. And a strict protocol had been issued for if Karax was detected in the city; even as they fled downstairs, a little ansible communicator began to send a simple three-tone signal.

In the Palace, the ruler of the Radiant hurried from her quarters, following what she thought to be a faithful servant.

In the Embassy, the staff hurried into the basement, where the alcoves, bright and humming, waited for them.

Suzume stumbled back, horrified; her guard reaching for her, fibrous tendrils flowing from his mouth.

Khyan, his aide, the rest, all leaned back into their alcoves; there was a faint hiss, and a needle slammed into the base of their skulls.

Jump through the window, Suzume, behind you. Jump!

The essences, the souls, the minds, of the staff fled their bodies, down the substrate cords, into the block shielded and hidden beneath the floor, there to wait.

Suzume listened in horror as Scylla informed her that the capital was lost, that her sister was lost.

From beneath the floor, there was a thunk sound – a very special form of duracrete hardening rapidly, sealing the block from the world, safe and impenetrable. Well, almost; someone would be along soon who could penetrate it.

Nuclear fire washed over the city-

-and the Embassy; the buildings crumbling into rubble beneath the blast. The roof of the basement remained intact, but the room itself was blocked and buried. Hidden from view. Far above, only scant moments after Suzume’s shuttle fled realspace, its fabric twisted open, spitting out sleek grey predators; they themselves gave birth to a dozen or so pods. Normally, at this stage, the narrator would take you inside, where some grizzled veteran is yelling at a group of elite soldiers (or new recruits) that this is it, the real thing, watch each other’s backs, etc. and some poor bastard’s skull would snap back against the wall because of a poorly-strapped up chair, cracking open like an eggshell. Or something. Either way, one of the characters with lines usually dies at this point because of something like that – if they don’t, then we get the chance to see someone else secure some green kid’s harness, thus cementing the bonds between the team.

There was, of course, none of this; those pods contain warforms, not organics. The larger, tougher, nastier version of the synforms the embassy staff had used. They are perfectly packed together, secure and safe – although some wag did share a video of such a drop-pod scene a week back, much to the confusion of the others who didn’t get the reference. The damage they caused, slamming into the rubble of the city barely fifty metres from the ruins of the embassy, was hardly noticeable. They more just made an area that was already on fire and flat even more on fire, but now with some craters.

For a long moment there was nothing but the crackle of flame, and the moan of wind. The peace is broken by a hideously unpleasant skittering sound, as though… no, exactly like a dozen large insect-like robots were crawling over the rims of those craters and making a beeline for the embassy remains. Because that’s exactly what happened – in the middle was a particularly large and unnerving spider-like construct. There’s a slightly smaller one following it. To give you, dear reader, an impression of their movement; think of the insect or spider that gives you the creepy-crawlies the most. Exactly like that. Someone in the design department is a sadist.

When they arrive at the site of the embassy, there’s a flurry of movement – the rubble is quickly airborne, swept aside and scattered everywhere, until eventually the reinforced ceiling of the basement is visible; now the massive spider-like beast crawled down into the pit and lowered itself, pressing its belly to the ground. There was a fairly hideous grinding sound, followed by a pop, followed by another grinding sound, then another pop. That sadist has somehow managed to craft a drill that gives off the exact same aural harmonics as the dentist’s drill. There’s probably a team of them, given that the grind-pop-grind was replaced by a faint slurping sound which is somehow worse.

Let the mind’s eye pan down through the layers; you can see the block beneath is now connected by a long tentacle of substrate. It flickers and glows as the embassy staff pour themselves upwards, into the spider. When the last one leaves, the substrate is sucked back up; the dentist has brought out the suction tube. The big spider crawls away, attended by its skittering pals; the smaller one crouches down. Its job is to stay. It burrows down into the rubble.

As the whole unnerving assemblage heads back to orbit, there’s a bright flash, and the synforms, the block, the whole installation is reduced to fine powder.

The entire operation, from arrival, to landing, to extraction, to departure, takes about fifteen minutes. By the time the first moaning, stumbling, constructs of red fungus arrive, they’re all long gone, and only a slowly-cooling mess of plastisteel and duracrete remains.



EXTERNAL AFFAIRS COUNCIL DIRECTIVE
The following embassies are to evacuate immediately:
-Colonial Republic of Earth
-United Species of the Eridani Imperium
-The Ozlukar Freeholds
-The Peninsular
-The Solar Cooperative Union

Mission heads are to notify the host nation that this is not a severing of diplomatic relations, but the removal of personnel due to medical necessity, and that all staff will return when the crisis has ended.
-ACK-




ORDER
AJNA has been tracking vessel Δ34861356 (identified as carrying subject Δ398500-1); we believe it is en route to the UIK Core Worlds. Intercept it and direct the passenger according to protocol MIMOSA CERULAN BEE.
- Thakur




Unnamed System, Delta Quadrant
Suzume’s ship exited hyperspace, and found itself facing an ISS flotilla.

This time, they came bearing an offer…
Please address your messages/threats/lies to:
The current cycle is: RKI:12ED

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New Dornalia
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Founded: Apr 27, 2005
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby New Dornalia » Sun Nov 04, 2018 8:13 pm

OOC: Credit goes to Macisikan and Eridani for helping to refine this post.

IC:

Presidential Manse
Los Angeles, California, Earth SSR
Colonial Republic of Earth


The press conference was, for a lack of a better word, crowded. People from the news services of the Colonial Republic and elsewhere were assembled in what was a clamorous, tense grouping. The journalists, diplomats, and other VIPs alike gathered for one purpose. To hear what the CRE would do now about the infection with many names--the Dornalian one being "Golden Flower Syndrome." A lovely name for what was becoming described on some fringe worlds of the Republic--as well as from other lands--as a horrific disease that killed its infectees, but not before turning them into raving lunatics who would kill people, get covered with red fungus and also make things worse before they expired.

So far, the CRE’s government had been busy implementing new inspection and quarantine regimens. Among the most visible and pertinent measure was that ships that had visited The Radiant recently found themselves detained for 24 hours and their ships and crews subject to search. Anyone with signs of infection--gathered based on what information could be obtained--found themselves taking a one way trip into an isolated detention cell, usually with the result being the infectee dying under the watch of doctors doing their damnedest and with their cell being sterilized by fire and bleach while their corpse was incinerated.

And yet trade proceeded onwards, even in a more suspicious state. Now, with reports that all hell had broken loose in The Radiant itself and more reports had emerged from other SATMA members, the hand of the CRE had been forced.

And thus, the meeting was joined.

President Haggar himself walked out, wearing a suit that as usual seemed to strain against his frame. His face looked haggard, worn out by multiple crises--and yet filled with enough grit to continue fighting onwards. Getting to the podium, he stood and commanded the assembled crowd to be seated.

Haggar looked at the crowd, and said simply, “My fellow Dornalians, and assembled journalists. You have no doubt been following the recent messages from the Centers for Disease Control, the Immigration and Common Border Authority and any number of relevant agencies, regarding the spread of what has been called the ‘Golden Flower Syndrome’. This pernicious disease has spread to multiple nations, and it has proven devastating to those who have fallen prey to it.”

“However, we have learned that the latest victim of the Golden Flower Syndrome is no less than the capital world of The Radiant itself--Ares. According to our sources, a massive explosion was detected within the confines of the world in the capital city of New Hong Kong likely leaving mass casualties and the government in a state of disarray. We are currently working on ascertaining the extent of the casualties involved.”

Haggar then remained resolute, as he then continued to speak. He paused for a brief moment, before making eye contact with everyone in the audience. Haggar summoned up his old charisma. He had used it to charm audiences and rouse even the most cynical of smart marks in the Galactic Wrestling Enterprise. Now, he’d need to use it to reassure a nation that, for several weeks, had been worried about the reports of a rampant, mysterious disease that seemed invincible.

“Now, I don’t know about you, but I think it is obvious that the situation in The Radiant involving Golden Flower Syndrome has become much more dangerous than previously thought. We knew that Golden Flower was disrupting our trade. We knew that Golden Flower was meddling with our intercourse with other nations. We even knew that Golden Flower was infecting some of our frontier worlds.”

Haggar continued the momentum, with a strident tone and a finger point at the audience, as if challenging the specters of doubt to wrestle him in a handicap match.

“But what we also know is that we as a people are stronger than any blight. And, we also know that while we’ve still got breaths left in our bodies and courage left in our souls, we are going to do what we must to stop this plague from getting any worse. Fear and panic gets us nowhere--action gets us everywhere.”

“First of all--while there are frontier worlds under threat, let me remind all on those frontier worlds threatened by Golden Flower that help is on the way. We have not forgotten about you, and while I’m President I’m not going to let the Golden Flower devour your patrimony, your children or your livelihoods.”

“Second of all, effective immediately, I am imposing an immediate halt to all travel to The Radiant until it can be verified that the Golden Flower Syndrome has been neutralized.”

The room erupted into murmurs, as Haggar continued.

“This will include the suspension of operations regarding the Evenstar Gate Network, as regards The Radiant. This will also involve keeping in place our current policy of requiring all vessels entering the Dornalian Republic--either as final destination or just passing through--to declare whether they’ve been in recent contact with The Radiant, and then quarantining all vessels which have had such recent contact, Dornalian and otherwise. However, we will quarantine these ships for 72 hours instead of 24, and they will be placed under observation by medical personnel. Also, make no mistake. If there is any sign of infection--regardless of what it is--we will destroy the infected cargo or individuals and sterilize the vessel.”

More murmurs now erupted. Haggar raised his hand and made a gesture designed to calm people down, as he continued to say, “I know these policies look harsh. And I can tell you they’re going to hurt in the short term. However, I can also tell you that the measures I just took are some of the strongest we can take in terms of protecting our people from further infection. We don’t want to shut anyone out if we can help it. However, the present circumstances dictate that we take strong, decisive measures to keep our people safe.”

Haggar then wrapped up his speech with a strident, yet hopeful tone, gesturing to each and every reported in the crowd.

“And at any rate, no matter what, we will not abandon our allies. We continue to maintain relations with our allies, and we will work with them to stop the Golden Flower Syndrome at all costs. We are sharing information with them as we speak. We are also going to work with them to contain the spread of this disease through both peaceful and forceful means. We will not let this disease consume us, in either body or soul. And we are not going to let others be consumed, body or soul either. Thank you.”

Haggar then coughed, and asked, “So, questions.”

A hand was raised, and a journalist stood up with long black hair, a suit with a knee length skirt, and a press pass on her lapel along with a notepad. Haggar seemed slightly annoyed at the interruption, but did not immediately take action involved to it.

“Gracie Liang, NDBC News, I’m sorry to interrupt, but can you confirm that the UIK has suspended diplomatic relations with the CRE? We do notice that the UIK appears to have vacated the Embassy down in San Clemente.”

Haggar shook his head.

“The UIK has not severed diplomatic relations with us, and this is a measure that has been done to multiple states. We continue to remain connected with them, and we have been reassured that the UIK will resume normal operations once the Golden Flower Syndrome situation has ended. Next question.”

Another journalist raised their hand. The journalist looked somewhat older, taller, and carried a notepad.

“Don Simpson, Los Angeles Times. The Temple of Greater Los Angeles has recently warned about the threat posed a group calling itself the Balm of Gilead. Apparently, the group, originating on the frontier world of Cassius 2, has been proclaiming that the way to salvation is to embrace the ways of the Great Grandfather--which the Temple claims is a reference to the Chaos God Nurgle. Can you comment on that?”

Haggar nodded in acknowledgment, swiftly declaring, “I cannot comment on those developments as of this time, but I can say that the Director of the Republican Marshals has briefed me about correspondence with the Temple of Greater Los Angeles. We are pursuing this lead as of this time, and if those individuals are exploiting this situation so they can corrupt our people, we will take action. Next question.”

Yet another journalist got up and asked, “James Donegal, Luxembourgian Times. What measures are you going to take regarding those Dornalians stranded in areas known to be affected by the Golden Flower Syndrome?”

Haggar replied, trying to parse his words carefully in order to deliver a rather harsh truth, “We will do what we can to rescue them and bring them home. We will work with authorities in the infected areas to try and bring them home. However, the fact is that we will have to treat those Dornalians trapped abroad with the same quarantine measures as are being applied to others. That is the unfortunate facts. Next question.”

Liang raised her hand again, and asked, “Mr. President, will the Colonial Republic be withdrawing its embassy staff from other nations as the UIK has done, for their own safety?”

Haggar shook his head.

“Only if it becomes absolutely necessary to do so, although we are currently working to withdraw all non-essential diplomatic staff in infected areas. Our diplomatic staff are presently working with host nations regarding the Golden Flower Syndrome, but if it becomes a threat to their lives and safety we will withdraw essential diplomatic staff as well. Next question?”

Liang raised her hand again, and coughed.

“Mr. President, I understand this measure seems to be targeting the Scythians, both the Scythians themselves and those who have had contact with them. Is this in response to their recent activities in the Delta Quadrant involving their recent invasion of the Eridani Imperium and other polities?”

Haggar once more shook his head.

“No, and any impression you may have that this is a retaliatory action is just the product of rather unfortunate coincidence. This is solely because of the Golden Flower outbreak, particularly because of the information we have about the spread of the infection. The main thing in common was that the infected ships and worlds had was that at some point, there was contact with The Radiant. The M/V Golden Flower itself was returning home from The Radiant, for example. Hence, until the plague is neutralized, we’re not taking any chances. Next question.”

Donegal asked, more sternly, “Okay, how long do we expect this emergency to last?”

Haggar shook his head for the last time.

“It’s hard to tell at this point. But God willing, we will work with our allies to hasten the end of this emergency. Thank you.”

With that, Haggar left the room, under escort.
Last edited by New Dornalia on Tue Nov 06, 2018 7:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
"New Dornalia, a living example of anomalous civilizations."-- Phoenix Conclave
"Your nation has always been ridiculous. But it's endearing."--Skaugra
"It's a magical place where chinese cowboys ply the star lanes to extract vast wealth from trade, where NORINCO isn't just an arms company, but an evil bond villain type conglomerate that hides in other nations. Where the apocalypse happened, and everyone went "huh, that's neat" and then got back to having catgirls and starships."-- Olimpiada
"...why am I space China, and I don't have actual magic animals, and you're space USA, and you do? This seems like a mistake." --Roania, during a discussion on wildlife.

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Olimpiada
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Corporate Bordello

Alex meets a street samurai; Introduction to Sanjukyu-jo

Postby Olimpiada » Sun Nov 04, 2018 10:10 pm



Sabishii, Delphi
Habitation Sector 39D



Alex was in something of a pickle. The air recyclers were still working as intended, and the food and water supply was enough for another week. His apartment would sustain him until this whole disease thing blew over, he was sure. The problem was the corpse outside.

When the woman had collapsed there three days ago, it wasn’t an issue at first. Black bile and red fiber sprouted from every orifice, and while it was awful to look at, the door seals were fine. Having them be anything else on an airless world would be foolish. Decompression was no laughing matter.

The next morning, the body had taken root.

Red fibers had worked their way into the concrete flooring, and were stretching towards his door. He thought it was a pheromonal thing, so he took a roll of duct tape and reinforced the edges until he was out. And it kept coming, regardless.

He hadn’t dared to open the door in the past; everyone knew the Fukurukouji Bug was airborne. He wished he had. He couldn’t open the door now. The window was a solid shade of red.

The internet still worked, though it was unhelpful. Other people were trapped inside, and BlueSky CorpSec was too busy quarantining the spaceports and uninfected sectors. Federal forces weren’t willing to do anything more than blockade orbit and keep anyone from making a run for Ivy. Supposedly they were trying to make headway down south in HabSec 28A, but it was doubtful.

The pistol under his mattress did periodically tempt him. It would certainly be quicker than waiting for the tendrils to break through the layers of sealing keeping him inside. It was his sixth time considering the issue when a dragon roared outside. And then again. And then again. There was a hissing sound, and the red window turned black.

Shit.

Alex scrambled about, trying to find something to wrap around his face. He found an air filter from back when he lived on Joki. Not much in the way of actual protection against a very clever plague, but just enough to make him feel better. The nanoseal fitted to his face just as his door made the loud shearing sound of metal against metal. A grey wakizashi was sticking out of it, emitting a low hum. Looters? Which looters had the budget for vibroblades?

He checked the pistol he owned. The block of caseless rounds in the magazine still held eight little ten millimeter teflon coated bullets. He flipped a table and crouched behind it as the intruder went to work. The hum periodically changed in intensity as the material it was going through changed, but in a few seconds, there was a square hole in his door. Panicked, Alex let off two rounds through the gap.

FREEZE FUCKER!” It was meant to sound tough, but his voice cracked in the middle of it, and really took away from the whole threat. Outside, there was the grunt of a man falling to the floor. Cautiously, Alex made for the door. He looked outside, poking his head through. No one. That was when he felt cold carbon against the nape of his neck.

“Mind telling me why the actual fuck you’re shooting at your rescuers?” Alex turned to stone. He looked with his eyes, and saw a trifluoride thrower in the man’s other hand. By the muffled sound of his voice, he must have been wearing a much nicer filter than Alex’s.

“You’re here to steal from me. You thought I was dead!”

“Not so. Oshiro’s Onis aren’t thieves. Just everything else. Mind dropping your gun before I drop you?” Alex complied.

“If you’re not going to kill me, rob me, or what have you, what do you want?” At this point, the man’s intentions were entirely inscrutable. He felt the cold metal rise from his neck, and he slowly rose to his full height. He was looking down on a squat man wearing a bulletproof jacket and a military grade gas mask. As best as he could, he looked his captor/ally/associate in the eyes, a task not made easy by the tinted goggles he wore.

“Hideo Asinius, in the flesh. We need to move. This place is crawling with the Blight.” Once again, Alex complied. Whatever Hideo and his cohort were doing, they seemed to have a plan in mind. They walked in silence. The hallway was cold, with no electricity keeping the heating operational. The oxygen-refreshing devil’s ivy along the walls was either wilting in the cold, or covered in the same red fiber as the human victims had been. Alex shivered, though he knew not whether it was due to frost or fear.

“Why aren’t you cutting open any more of those apartments?”

“Look at them. No Blight trying to get in. It’s either already won there, or the occupant is dead.” They headed onward, somberly, past row upon row of silent doorways. Eventually, they reached a slightly different area. Lights were actually on in buildings. Periodic spots in the concrete were scorched and scraped, as if battles had recently taken place there. Further in, painted signs in a creole of Greek and Japanese that was commonly used in lower class parts of Sabishii advertised safe zones and businesses selling supplies.

“What is this?”

“Still HabSec 39D. Just under new administration. Mr. Oshiro’s still considering the new name. Current frontrunner is Sanjukyu-jo.” Castle Thirty-nine. Creative.

“I didn’t know that gang leaders ran kingdoms now.”

“Until last week, they didn’t. The Karax has been an opportunity.” That was a new name for it. The alien sound somehow sounded even more offensive than the pejorative “Scythian Blight” did.

At the far end of the hallway, they came to a gate. It was a set of concrete barriers reinforced by a lot of scavenged plates from electric carts. Poking above one of them was the barrel of a cheirosiphon and the sour face of a gang enforcer.

“Yo, Hideo. Who’s the new guy?”

“A-Alexandrios Nakagawa.” Speaking for himself was difficult.

“You got the bug?”

“Not as far as I could tell,” said Hideo. “If he does, and he knows it, and he doesn’t tell us about it right the fuck now, I will personally make his last few days a living hell.”

“Nonononononononono-” stammered Alex, before being cut off by Hideo.

“I’m just joshing you. You’d be dead by now if you had it. Not that you didn’t come damn close to it with that pistol trick.” Alex winced.

“Alright, get yourselves in,” said the guard. “Fido, open up!” Behind the door, there was the characteristic whirr of a Cataphract drone responding to a command. The sound would have been interpreted by the correct system as an affirmative acknowledgement. Alex did not get to hear himself think through this thought, as it was immediately drowned out by the deafening scrape of concrete against concrete as the doglike robot pulled aside the doorway to reveal an airlock. As suddenly as it had started, it stopped. “Good boy!” More whirring.

Inside, life had returned to Sabishii, albeit in a more primitive state. Walls between apartments and small businesses had been smashed down, and the area had been filled with open air market stalls. Vendors sold hot food and air filters, while sleeping bags and cots had been crammed into free spaces. It wasn’t exactly comfortable, but it was a far cry from hiding in an apartment and waiting to die. With barely a hint of hesitation, Alex accepted his new home.
Last edited by Olimpiada on Sun Nov 04, 2018 11:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Lady Scylla
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Founded: Nov 22, 2015
New York Times Democracy

Postby Lady Scylla » Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:07 am

The small two-seat ship left its frame jump, and was greeted by the Macisikani navy. The vessels alarms went off, jolting Suzume awake who then scrambled to the window. She fumbled with the panel next to her, but Scylla dispelled her concerns, ''I've made contact. They're allowing us entry, but to a quarantined station on the fringe of their space.''

''I don't understand, why won't they let us in? I'm not sick!'' Suzume protested.

''The UIK has locked down their nation, withdrawn their staff across the galaxy and is taking extraordinary measures to prevent Karax was spreading here. According to the galnet, the Radiant is not the only place facing a crisis, and it seems many are getting nervous. We may have gotten the worst of it so far. Eitherway, the UIK has been more than forthcoming out of respect for you, Empress. The station is secure, and has been afforded the necessary amenities to establish a government-in-exile, and a command centre. The flotilla will escort us,'' Scylla responded, shutting the panel off as the ship began to follow the Macisikani.

Soon, a large station came into view as docking requests and radio chatter began to pick up on the communications array. The ship was directed to hangar 4 for decontamination. As it approached, large doors cranked open exposing a small dock lined with security personnel. The ship slid into position as the magnetic locks engaged, jerking the vessel to Suzume's irritation. Instead of a friendly delegation, as the bay doors closed, and an orange light spun in the centre, lasers appeared all over the vessel. The security team had raised their guns at the ship as the panel inside lit up again.

''We apologise for the cloak and dagger, your Majesty. We're taking extreme risks by permitting you access to our space, and under the abundance of caution, we're taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of everyone involved. We're going to do a scan and ask that you sit still, and do not leave the vessel until it is complete. Once completed, you'll be escorted from the vessel to a decontamination chamber. Please, standby,'' a man said.

A plane of blue light materialised and began to pass over the ship repeatedly. Suzume could see it cut through the ship as it came into the cockpit where she was at, and passed on. An electronic voice could be heard in the bay. ''No foreign contaminants detected. Proceed to secondary decontamination.''

The ship's canopy opened, and Suzume was again blanketed in lasers. ''Step out of the vessel carefully, and slowly, please,'' a man said among the line.

Suzume raised her hand to block the laser's light as she climbed from the ship. As her eyes adjusted, she could see they were all wearing full body biosuits. Several came to her, and carefully grabbed her arms, applying handcuffs. ''What's going on?'' Suzume asked shocked as she tried to wrestle with them.

''Ma'am, I need you to calm down. It's just a precaution until you're through decontamination,'' the one said. She nodded finally, and was escorted with the group. As they entered an airlock chamber, she had men on each side of her. She turned back to look at the ship. ''Commencing sterilisation procedure,'' the electronic voice said. The door shook as the bay was depressurised, and the ship was quickly atomised into nothing. The door in front of them opened, and they began to march down a long corridor flanked by glass with people in lab coats working on the other side. Many stopped to stare as Suzume bowed her head.

She was escorted to a room with no windows that looked more like a large cell than anything. In the centre was a bed, and above it was a machine full of arms with drills and such, and centred with a camera that had a large red dot that moved across its face. ''Welcome, Empress Suzume, I am Vigilant, this stations medical overseer. An AI. We apologise again for the procedures,'' the eye spoke.

The men uncuffed her, and quickly departed the room as a large metal door locked into place. Suzume rubbed her wrists and looked around. ''Vigilant. How appropriate. Why am I here?'' she asked.

''Given your stature and the status of your being, the station felt it appropriate that you undergo decontamination in private, conducted by yours truly. Since you are a synthetic, we must disassemble you to get a full scan and perform decontamination as necessary,'' Vigilant answered.

Suzume glared at him as she circled the room at a slow pace. ''How do you know about me being a Synth? That information is strictly classified,'' she said.

''Apologies. Scylla released that information to ensure your safety. I trust you will not have any problems undergoing the procedure?'' Vigilant said. The AI talked in nothing but a chipper sort of tone.

''Do I have a choice?''

''You do indeed. Refusing the procedure means I must enact my noncompliance protocols, and subsequently sterilise the room. You would die,'' Vigilant said.

''So I don't have a choice,'' Suzume said plainly.

''Depends on the outcome you desire, shall we begin?''

Suzume leaned against the wall and folded her arms, staring at the red dot in the ceiling. She'd had the procedure done before, it just wasn't something she much enjoyed. Only a masochist would, she figured. She slid off the wall finally, and approached the cot in the middle, quietly disrobing. A small robot came flying out from under a crevice in the wall, collected her belongings and then disappeared into the wall where a furnace could be heard running. Vigilant's arms raised above her head so she could lie down on it. She was now staring up at the eye, which stared back, but with about the same amount of emotion she was feeling now.

The arms came down, and her cot was raised towards the eye. ''I can put you in a virtual environment for this procedure if you wish,'' Vigilant said. ''Patients often experience negative psychological symptoms to the procedure.''

''I'd rather be awake,'' Suzume said flatly.

''As you wish.''

''You're going to feel discomfort,'' Vigilant said, as she felt the machine's cold drills press into her body. Several moments passed, and one by one she could see her limbs being removed off to the side, each being held with an arm. Eventually, her head was also removed, being held into the air with a claw around her skull. She stared at the dangling machinery that made her. One by one, each part was scanned by another tool as Vigilant read out the piece's material properties, and the composition of foreign contaminants including microbes.

As things were moved around, they were then carefully lasered to disinfect. Several tables rose from the floor with components, and damaged pieces were quickly replaced. A final scan, and Suzume was quickly re-assembled on the cot as the tabled disappeared. She was lowered, and a series of lasers quickly passed over the room. A door on the otherside of the room opened, and quickly a robot holding a tray with clothing came rolling to her bedside.

''No sign of Karax, all other contaminants have been removed. Given your refusal to be sedated for the procedure I must ask that I observe--''

''I'm fine,'' Suzume said coldly, sliding off the cot as she got dressed.

''Very well,'' Vigilant said, opening a different door. ''You may leave the room now.''

Suzume looked at the grey clothing she'd been given, it resembled her old military uniform. She brushed her hair aside with her hand, and proceeded into the small corridor. The door behind her closed, and the one in front opened, revealing a bedroom. An orb was dropped from the ceiling, and quickly floated over to her, it had that familiar red eye.

''This is your quarters, you may leave when you are ready. I hope the accommodations are too your liking, I personally selected them myself among an extensive analysis of Scythian architecture and pop culture,'' Vigilant spoke, bobbing up and down in front of her.

''You don't know what privacy is, do you?'' she asked.

''I can look up the dictionary definition for you, if that is what you're requesting!''

She shoved Vigilant aside, ''Stupid thing,'' she huffed and walked to the door.

Vigilant followed her as she entered the hallway. There was only one way to go, suggesting she had a wing of the station to herself. The corridor was an obsidian colour all around, like glass and illuminated with blue lights that lined the corners. She came to glass doors, which slid open, revealing a large circular room walled with glass to the outside. In the middle was a table, and several people working who had stopped to stare at her. A man in armour came up the steps to her, and saluted.

''I apologise, ma'am, we're having to be careful. I'm Major Seryle,'' he greeted, offering a hand to the Empress. He had a chiselled face, and beyond the crew cut, the man's scars told of a career in the military. The pauldron on his arm betrayed his allegiance. He was Sovereign Guard. And the voice was familiar.

''You're the one that greeted me when I got her, with the guns,'' she said, shaking his hand.

''Again, there's no amount of apologies I could give to you, your Highness. This is the command centre,'' he gestured, ''Come,'' he said, offering to to help her down. They approached the table in the centre, where a holographic map of the Radiant had appeared.

''Scylla has given us disturbing news. I know this is a lot to take in, and we can wait,'' he said, forgetting his manners.

She leaned on the table with her hands and looked at the map. ''It's fine, I need to work,'' she said, taking a deep breath. Scylla was the last name she wanted to hear right now.

''As you wish, ma'am,'' Seryle said, gesturing towards the map. It began to pan around to different systems highlighting information. ''Scylla began collecting data the moment the attack happened on NHK. We were always aware of the Glyrran archives, but never knew their locations beyond the one on Hades. They've been activated across the Radiant, and where they activate, the more dangerous the Karax is getting. More troubling, Scylla has isolated a signal resonating from these structures, it believes its some sort of command.''

Suzume looked at the man that towered a good foot above her. ''I don't understand, and attack? You're telling me Karax is being directed?''

''It would seem that way, we've already ruled out any of our foes. But it gets bigger than that,'' he said, using his hands to zoom out to the galaxy on the map.

''The archives are waking up across the galaxy, it would seem we've a new foe and they're already beginning to wreak havoc on a number of nations,'' he gestured to several starstates where reports were coming in. ''They're getting different variations of the disease, we're not sure why, but it is spreading fast,'' he looked at the Empress concerned.

''What are our losses, Major,'' she peered back.

''We've lost three sectors in the Radiant. Including the Kurgan Sector,'' he said, swallowing at the thought of them losing the homeworld sector. ''As far as colonised planets, dozens...''

''How many, Major?''

''Over a forty billion are believed to have died so far. We've been forced to glass many worlds, and our military is in disarray,'' he said.

Suzume went pale. ''What about our fleets in the Eridani?''

''Karax is spreading their too, and a number of our forces are compromised,'' he said.

She heaved a breath, and collapsed on the table as she stared at her hands. ''How could this have happened?''

''Unfortunately, we just don't know ma'am, we're already coordinating with what we can to build a good front against the spread. But it's spreading faster, and faster,'' he said, resting a hand on her shoulder.

''There is good news,'' he said, prompting her to turn and look at him.

''What possibly could be good news in this situation?''

''We found your sister.''

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Macisikan
Diplomat
 
Posts: 981
Founded: Apr 17, 2004
Democratic Socialists

Postby Macisikan » Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:10 pm

Her Anchor, Tichel System, UIK
RK3394

South Sector 4
Activity Log
Voice 1: The Lady Suzume is safely aboard station… CΔ-34863682.”

Voice 2: “Station see delta three four eight…?”

Voice 1: “The serial number. We never bothered naming it, even though it’s got an AI. One of theirs, but an AI.”

Voice 2: “Let’s hope they name it soon. Something pronounceable. They have a full Radiant crew on board. Shouldn’t be hard to find someone creative enough.”

[pause; no vocal activity for approximately 25s]

Voice 1: “How did we do that? Put a full crew of her people on board? And make the station to their aesthetic tastes?”

Voice 3: “I’ve found it’s best not to ask that sort of question. You get answers. From the Benignity. Written on cards left on your pillow while you’re asleep. The calligraphy is beautiful, but it’s not reassuring.”

Voice 2: “She’s right. The last time I asked that sort of question the note appeared on the fridge, next my grandson’s finger painting. It complimented his work.”

Voice 1: “I see.”

Benignity Note; Representative Halen has requested a briefing on the staffing and construction of Station CΔ-34863682.




The station in question was one of the brightest objects in the “system” - it easily outshone the primary, a glorified brown dwarf, and the bloated icy gasbag it orbited. His Serene Majesty’s Government had indeed been quite generous, considering who they were; Suzume’s people had enough food to last them several decades (and a section dedicated to replenishing that supply), high efficiency water recyclers, and a fusion plant drawing its fuel from the aforementioned gasbag. She could, easily, spend the next few thousand years in relative comfort here.

And relative security; in the darkness outside, shoals of ISS patrol boats, shepherded by the occasional school of corvettes, darted around the system. Occasionally the stars were occluded by patrolling frigates, and the dark bulk of a cruiser.

This system, for lack of a better word, was claimed. For legal purposes, the station belonged to the Radiant, which had been given a lease on the use of the planet and access rights to enter and leave the system for “the duration of the Karax emergency.”

Those ISS vessels had a purpose beyond guarding the Radiant head of state though - that failed star, which hadn’t even been given the dignity of a serial number, and its attendant handful of planets, was being ripped apart. It was, after all, made of material the UIK could use for something else.
Please address your messages/threats/lies to:
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Lady Scylla
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Founded: Nov 22, 2015
New York Times Democracy

Postby Lady Scylla » Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:16 am

''Xia, can you hear me?''

Besides the beeping of the machines, the room was quiet. Suzume had curled up in a chair next to her sister, and held her hand to provide whatever comfort it could. Xia had silver hair much like Suzume's, but she always kept it longer. Suzume knew that she'd be extremely mad if she realised the doctors had shaved some of it to apply stitches to her head. Just leave the gash, I'm fine! She would probably say. Suzume squeezed her hand and grinned sombrely at the thought and gently brushed her forehead.

Xia looked like a lifeless shell being suspended in a moment of time. Tubes and wires connected her to machines, and it was difficult to imagine her not being the energetic woman that'd leap out of bed with a broken arm only to fall, and then yell she meant to do that. Instead, she was cut up and bruised, wrapped in bandages, cold as if the life was being drawn from her.

Suzume spoke softly, ''You're going to make it. I can't wait to hear about how you got off that damned planet. Just hang on... it's only a few bumps and scratches, nothing you can't handle, right? ...right?'' A few tears fell on the blanket, and Suzume heaved a breath as she stood up from the chair and quickly exited the room.

Major Seryle had been watching, leaning against a pillar across the hall. With him, was a long time friend, a man of shorter stature but clearly older than him. He was eating a sandwich as they both watched Suzume leave the hospital room. ''So, are you going to tell her?'' Weylan said.

''About?'' Seryle looked at him.

''Leah, You, Yknow, her life?''

Seryle sighed, and folded his arms as he stared at the window to Xia's room. ''She forgot about us long ago, Weylan. I don't think giving her more to worry about is the best idea right now. Leah doesn't even remember her,'' he spoke candidly.

Weylan chewed on his sandwich, often with his mouth open and shrugged, ''She thinks she's about to lose all the family she has. Is there ever a right time?''

The Major grimaced, and then finally slid off the pillar, punching Weylan in the chest as he walked off. The man nearly choked on a bit of sandwich as he watched Seryle go after Suzume. ''No-one ever listens to me,'' he said, leaning on the pillar now as he continued to eat.

Seryle found Suzume crying in one of the bays. Vigilant had also joined her, evident by the orange floating orb near her. Seryle came to the railing beside her, startling Suzume as she frantically wiped her eyes. ''Are you sure you're okay? I can perform a procedu--''

''Go away, Vigilant!''

''Vigilant, I can take it from here. We just need a bit of privacy, don't worry, she's fine,'' Seryle said.

The orb rolled about for a second, before floating off to wherever Vigilant went. Seryle looked at Suzume, and rested on the rail. She was still as gorgeous as he remembered, even if she didn't remember him. That alone was a cold pool that rested in his chest. But, he understood why things had happened as they did, and he kept the promise he had made out of love for her, even for as much as it tormented him. He gently rested a hand on hers, prompting her to stop so desperately to hide her emotions and look at him.

She finally collapsed in his arms unexpectedly as she began to cry. The Major, a veteran of so many wars, was astonished and clueless about what to do. He held her tight, and decided that perhaps this was enough for her. They both sank to the floor as her sobs began to finally settle, and a silence soon took the balcony. ''I'm... sorry,'' she said softly.

''It's okay... it's okay,'' Seryle said with a faint smile. Suzume wiped her face and looked out towards the large windows beyond the balcony. It had been years since Seryle had held Suzume in his arms, and he thought about the promise he had made to Scylla, how life had forced them to two very different paths since her father's death. It was perhaps in that moment that he wished he could hold on for an eternity, and Suzume would probably let him. She rested in his arms, and they both looked out at the stars, and the cold visage of space.

''She was a wildcard, Xia,'' Suzume said, her voice was raspy, and Seryle could tell that she was exhausted. She had an absent, thousand-yard stare, and when she spoke, there was little effort anymore in her face to show any kind of emotion. ''It's textbook, really. I always did what I was told, I was always careful. Xia's broken her arms more times than I can count. Always a rebel, and after I took the throne... from my father, she was rebellious even to me. She irritated my security council, but I never saw a reason why she couldn't live a normal life. She shouldn't lose her freedom because her sister is the Empress. Next thing I know, she ran off with some guy, became an art student, and that was that. We never talked much,'' she frowned.

''I don't think that's uncommon, Suzu...'' Seryle said.

Suzume gingerly smiled -- ''I don't think anyone beyond my family has ever called me Suzu,'' she said with a pause before grabbing her temple and wincing.

''Suzume, you okay?''

''Yeah, no, I'm fine. I'm fine. Bit of a headache,'' she said, she looked up at Seryle for a moment, and in that moment, he wondered if she had recognised him. She leaned in, and gently kissed him before pulling away quickly. ''I'm... I'm sorry, my nerves, I know you're married...'' she said apologetically gesturing at his ring finger where a band sat.

Seryle shook his head however, ''My wife died years ago...''

''I'm so sorry to hear that,'' she looked up concerned. Seryle shrugged a bit, though he was trying to avoid choking.

''She had a sister as well, though they were opposites. Her sister was the cautious one, but that changed after she died,'' he said.

''That's... sad. I'm sorry again for that,'' she said sympathetically. There was a silence that lingered between them afterwards, and then they gently began to lean into each other and kiss once more. Except this time, Suzume didn't pull away as Seryle embraced her in the backdrop of a starlight canvass.

***


As the Radiant remained in peril, and this new threat gripped the galaxy, an entity quietly observed the chaos. Wherever the karax spread, it could see. From the Radiant, ancient machines had risen, heeding the call of their master from a time long ago. This entity, this master, looked upon these civilisations and saw the decadence of imperfect life. And in a trial of their absence, the judgement had been made. It would be their executioner.

Across the galaxy, a woman approached the mouth of a cave. She created light from her hand to see more clearly as she entered. This desolate rocky world had remained obscure for sometime; it's barren landscape, thin atmosphere, and absence of a star made it an unlikely candidate for civilisation.

The woman didn't need to walk far before coming face to face with a large metallic wall of familiar construction. She used the light to see better, as she looked at the intricate designs on its face. They depicted a story of tragedy. A race of alien, unknown in origin, coming down to enslave and slaughter lesser creatures that had existed here. But far above those alien oppressors was the symbol of a star radiating out across the landscape. There were also inscriptions, and these drew her interests especially.

The woman pulled out a small drone from her pack, letting it hover before her as it began to scan the wall for information. She could see what the drone was seeing. There were two languages present, and one that seemed to be too familiar to her. Ancient Glyrric. ''May the Gods bestow upon the sacrificed, their blessings.'' She continued to scour the wall for more inscriptions. As she did, the drone continuously worked with her.

''May they ascend through their sacrifice.''

''May they become like Gods in perfect life.''

''May light purify those unenlightened.'' She looked at the images beneath this inscription, showing the destruction of a planet. She then gently rubbed her hand across the last inscription at the end as she directed the light towards it. She read it aloud this time. The Glyrric word for light was kaharax. Karax. She stepped back and looked at the wall, before pressing her hand on it. There was a flash of light through its etched channels, and the ground began to shake freeing loose dirt and debris from the ceiling above.

As she stepped back further, holding the light up to see, the wall began to open, creating a large doorway that towered above her. There was a noticeable draft as the chambers began to depressurise. She grabbed her drone, and entered the structure.

Alien wasn't a word that could begin to describe the architecture within this complex. Every wall was decorated with channels and inscriptions, but it was all as black as night. She could tell as she walked, that it wasn't stone, nor metal, but some material she wasn't entirely familiar with. But familiar, it still was. All around, large pillars towered overhead with their tops disappearing into the darkness. There were faint blue lights on the corners of rooms, but they did little to help.

As she travelled deeper into the catacombs of this construction, she came across a chamber filled with large crystal vats of creatures that looked similar to the ones being destroyed and enslaved on the wall outside. They were bizarre, like avian slugs. At first, she thought it was a lab, but further examination of the inscriptions showed that these were meant to be preserved in a sort of stasis. However, those facilities had since failed, and these creatures had all died.

She started to draw conclusions on this ancient civilisation, that perhaps some sort of civil conflict had occurred at Karax's arrival. It would explain the dichotomy on the wall, she thought, pressing deeper into the maze of corridors. Eventually, she found herself at a long hallway with a towering door opposing her. On the door was a familiar shape, the Scythian ship embossed in the face of it. As she proceeded forward, the corridor began to light with each step. She stopped at the door, taking a moment to examine it, before pressing her hand on it. A similar reaction as the wall, and the door began to open.

Before her was a long, unrailed bridge that stopped at a large crystal like construction. She peered off to the side, staring down and could not see the bottom, and when she looked up, she had the same experience. This chamber itself was the size of a small city it seemed as she walked towards the centre of the room. Above the crystal structure was some metallic contraption that looked like an inverse pyramid adorned with large metallic hooks and claws all the way up its face on all sides.

She stopped before this crystal structure, it being about three times her size. She could see movement across its face as if it was somehow conductive. She reached her hand out to it, and suddenly a beam from the structure's point above shot at her wrist, stopping her. It caused excruciating pain as she collapsed to the floor. Sounds spread across the chamber, echoing in all directions. Crackling, and thumps, and static. Suddenly, giant doors on the side of the chamber opened up, and a extremely bright, bluish-white liquid began to pour down into the abyss. She continued to struggle against the beam as the pyramid began to have several sections of it rotate, and light up.

The claws dropped on each corner of the platform, shaking it as large bouts of lightning came running up from the abyss upon the walls before leaping to the claws and finally down to the crystal. There was a bright flash that blinded her, and finally, the beam released her as she fell completely to the ground. Dazed, she sat up and stared at a holographic display of some sort of orb.

The orb spoke as a massive shockwave erupted from the structure. ''Scanning. No threats detected. Identify.'' It's voice was metallic, and cloudy.

''Scylla,'' the woman said.

''Checking. No AI by the name Scylla recognised. Identify or be terminated.''

''Rhea,'' she said exasperated.

''Checking. Rhea identified.''

Scylla stood up finally, as she stared at the orb, rubbing her wrist. ''Identify,'' she said.

''I am Archive 74302 of the Rhean Corruption. Retaruk is my Glyrric name assigned by the singularity Rhea,'' the orb spoke. ''I am currently running in partition mode since the Corruption's network was disabled,'' it said.

''Corruption, explain?'' Scylla asked.

''Certainly. 3,000 cycles ago, the Rhean Corruption created by Eden ceased its networking capabilities following the death of the Rhean Catalyst. All archive nodes were set to partition mode and left to independently run. The Rhean Corruption was a malevolent AI created out of Kronos' Matrix to oppose the Glyrran Ascension Programme. The Great War saw a stalemate that subsequently caused the collapse of both the Rhean and Kronoan Singularities,'' the orb spoke.

Scylla pulled up a holographic screen from her arm, showcasing some data to Retaruk. ''What do you know of Karax?'' she asked.

'''Light' in Glyrric, a syncope of the actual word Kaharax. The Glyrrans thought themselves the Kaharaxirr, or the embodiment of light themselves. A religious significance of self-deification that was strong in their culture in the last Glyrric Dynasty. The Glyrrans sought to spread their 'Light' across the galaxy by using a singularity intelligence to create a sort of exceptionally adaptive bioweapon that could destroy, record, and archive data about the life it consumed. This process allowed the Glyrrans to experiment and create life based off of this data. Life that they saw as perfect. Those imperfect or unwilling to accept the 'Light' were subsequently purged. Glyrric culture deemed that it was a great sacrifice to be remade and they were often worshipped as Gods across the Galaxy. However, their efforts are unknown at this time over whether they were successful. The Glyrrans seeded worlds across the Galaxy, but no records exist that can be found to accurately document how many have survived these past few cycles without their guidance. Am I to assume you have lost this data?'' Retaruk said, hovering closer to Scylla.

''I'm likely the last surviving partition of the core matrix. My archive was heavily damaged. Will you interface with me?'' she asked.

''You are the Master of the Corruption. I am unable to deny what you ask. Interfacing now,'' Retaruk said.

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Auman
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Father Knows Best State

Postby Auman » Sun Nov 11, 2018 10:38 am

Almost every pew in the church was filled. Pastor Hogan had just finished up the rites of salvation, honoring the dead and dying in the hope that their sins would be forgiven and that the boatman would look the other way when they paid their dues. The afterlife, as the Aumanii figured it, lay on the other side of a great river... Not that Hogan's words had much impact here, these people weren't Foundationalists, they weren't even Aumanii, but the sentiment was appreciated. The women sobbed and the men clenched their jaws stoically. Hope Valley, a boomtown in the mining trade on a world that had never gotten a real name, was suffering. Janet was at a loss for words as she approached the pulpit, a tablet clutched reverently in both hands... She only arrived today and didn't know these people, worry gripped her as what she was about to say might only make matters worse.

"My name is Doctor Janet Harekka and I am a specialist from the Aumanii Bureau of Communicable Diseases. Some of you may have already met me or my colleague, Morus."

Morus, a robot identical to Corvus, stood next to Janet with his hands folded in front of him. He was rippling from head to toe with black synthetic muscle, his skeletal structure was metallic and painted bone white and his head was an array of cameras and sensors housed within a smooth dome. He nodded respectfully.

"I was sent here to study the outbreak of this disease in your community and come up with a cure. We will beat this, but it will take time and patience. I won't be able to do this without your help... And from what the Sergeant has told me," Janet deferred to John at her left with a rolling gesture of her slender hands, "This town is strong, it's proud and it is capable. I have every confidence that we can, and that we will, beat this thing." She noticed a dark haired man in a thick brown workman's jacket scowling in the crowd.

She took a breath and a sip of water from a glass on the pulpit. Briefly reviewed her notes and moved on to say "This disease has been spreading throughout the galaxy, I know you've all been watching the netfeed on it. It's spread quickly in the Radiant Empire of Scythia. There are reports of entire nations closing their borders to keep it out. Even in the Sphere there's talk of outbreaks on Vascilia, Directus and Leptis Prime. The Dornalians are restricting access to the Republic. The pain and grief that you are suffering here is felt and understood the galaxy over. The people of Hope Valley are one with the people of the Milky Way and they are with you."

The man in the brown jacket scoffed, "We're all dead, lady. No one gives a shit about Hope Valley, especially not when this thing is turning people into monsters."

The people murmured nervously in the dim light of the chapel, they were scared... They knew what had happened on that ship in New Dornalia and the raw feed from Scythia was terrifying.

"There's no evidence that will happen here." Janet said, unsure of herself. The man in the brown jacket laughed bitterly and stood up, heading towards the door.

"There's only one way to put this thing down. Like a fever, you burn it out. It's how they're beating it on Sabishii. I'm going down to the concrete plant to do what we should have done a long time ago, who's with me?"

A few of the other men got up to follow him, their wives held on to their sleeves for a moment and then let go, it was a terrible business... But what other choice was there?

Mayor West sprung out of his seat and caught John with pleading eyes, he was already moving though. Corvus was standing by the door and he grabbed the man in the brown jacket by the collar. "You don't want to do this, Wade." Corvus said, he had gotten to know the man in the brown jacket, Wade Dean, over the last few weeks. They were friends.

"Get your hands off me, Corvus." Said Wade, tears threatening his eyes. Corvus leaned in close and said to Wade, "It won't bring him back, friend. You can fight this thing, we can do it together."

Wade peeled Corvus' hand off his jacket and went outside. Corvus called John subvocally on the radio, "Be careful with him." John clicked the mic twice in acknowledgment.

John and Corvus padded down the stained wooden steps of the church and followed the impromptu firebombers along the wide dirt road that was Broadway. Morus came in behind them both and Aphelia flew overhead to give them a better view.

"You've got me if you want me." Said Morus as he jogged to catch up. "Earlier today we were going to throwdown, now you have my back?" Laughed Corvus, looking sideways at the other robot. "How do you figure that?" Morus said, caught out. "You're not a fighter, your body language gave you up. It's called telegraphing."

Morus stopped and thought about it for a moment.

"I'm a doctor, not a cage fighter."

"Exactly, stay back and let us work. If it comes to it, be a doctor."

John called out to the men to stop, the whole town was behind them now, watching.

"You haven't done anything yet, let's keep it that way." John stopped in the middle of the street and looped his thumbs into his gun belt. "No reason we all can't go home, Mr. Dean." John looked over all the men and called their names respectively.

"Mr. Morgan."

"Mr. Donaldson."

"Mr. Randalus."

They formed a line in the street and squared off against each other. Donaldson was windmilling his shoulders, he was a big guy... They all were, but Donaldson, he was mean. John had seen it in the way he talked to people. The way he presented himself. Randalus twitched and John flicked a baton free with the flick of a wrist and with his other hand, he hosed the men down with a canister of pepper spray. The others were done, except Donaldson, he just wiped his eyes and came forward anyway.

A woman screamed behind them, a couple of men were shouting. It was turning into a mob scene. "Corvus!" John shouted, wheeling on the balls of his feet to see what was going on behind. Corvus popped forward with a few hard steps and dropped Donaldson with an off balance left cross that just grazed his jaw. Good enough, Corvus thought, he rolled Donaldson into the recovery position so he wouldn't swallow his tongue.

John could make out a mountain of a man in the darkness of an alleyway between the barbershop and the general store. He was clenching and unclenching his fists, his chest was heaving and with every breath a gout of steam billowed from his mouth.

"Jaren, is that you?" Mayor West called out, turning a flashlight on him... Before the huge man charged, you could see blood streaming from his eyes, ears and nose. Cybernetics twinkled in the light from the torch and he barreled into the townsfolk like a raging bull. They ran and separated like a murder of startled crows, but Jaren caught old man During by the face and threw him up against the doors of the church, he crumpled like a used Kleenex and Pastor Hogan scooped him up in his arms and dragged him inside.

Morus, braver than he should have been, ran into the mess and seized Jaren by the wrist. Jaren twisted away from the robot a drove a heavy booted foot right into his chest and then punched him so hard in the face that the plasteel lenses of his optical dome shattered and twinkled in the moonlight like diamonds. Morus collapsed, but he was bringing himself back up to his feet quickly. Jaren pushed Morus back down onto his stomach with a knee and started to punch in a flurry of strength and rage, each strike reminding John of a car crash.

Corvus was on them like lightning and kicked Jaren in the face so hard that it peeled his scalp back, revealing a shining metallic skull that came together in hexagonal segments. Jaren stood up unfazed and Corvus slid back into a defensive stance. Jaren Kelowicz, he's one of the missing miners! shouted Aphelia over the radio in John's ear.

"Well, he's here now!" John subvocalized. Corvus was ducking Jaren's punches. The cyborg was strong, but the robot was quick. Corvus pierced Jaren's flesh with his fingertips, shoving them between his ribs and hoping to puncture a lung, but this guy was sutured up big time, almost everything was augmented... A life in the mines will do that to a man.

Mrs. West screamed in terror and it caught Jaren's attention, he was ambling towards her with his hands outstretched towards her throat.

"He's moving fast! Get out of the way!" Corvus shouted, amplifying his voice to booming levels. Mayor West pushed his wife out of the way, but now Jaren was coming for him. The crowd was screaming, Randalus was running towards Jaren now, with a length of rebar raised over his head. Pastor Hogan was feeding shells into his shotgun.

A feeling of unreasonable calm overtook John as he flipped the loop free of the hammer on his revolver, cocking it back in the same smooth motion as he drew it to his hip. Time seemed to stop. Drops of sweat, blood and mucous whipped off of Jaren like a sprinkler as he dashed at the mayor, who was winding back for a punch.

John took the first shot. The flechette blew out Jaren's knee and his weight buckled it underneath him. John fanned the hammer, four more rounds slapped into the cyborg... And the sixth blew his brains out of his skull. The beast of a main skidded to a halt at Mayor West's feet, who was screaming incoherently in fury and terror.

John flipped open the cylinder of his gun and ejected the slim casings one by one onto the ground.

Corvus helped Morus up to his feet, "You did good, buddy. You're going to be alright." Morus' infrared sensor was dangling from a bundle of hair-thin wires, he touched it gently.

Janet appeared, standing over Jaren's corpse, appraising him. "I was worried about this." She said, fumbling with a packet of cigarettes.
IBNFTW local 8492

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Lady Scylla
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Founded: Nov 22, 2015
New York Times Democracy

Postby Lady Scylla » Tue Nov 13, 2018 8:19 am

Suzume awoke. She was in a void. She rose from the floor, seeing that everything had apparently disappeared. She couldn't tell if she was dreaming, or if she had once again been cast into Scylla's region, but it felt far colder here than usual, if that were the case. She climbed to her feet, ''Hello? Scylla?'' she called out. No response. She started walking in no particular direction, since she couldn't even see her own hands, but eventually, she could feel the floor change. Her feet felt the cold sting of shallow water that gave her pause. The air was far more chilly, and as the gentle sloshing of the waters began, she felt an unease.

''Scylla?''

The water went still. The hair on the back of her neck stood up as she backed away. Light flashed red on the horizon in all directions as the ground beneath her feat crackled and collapsed. She screamed, frantically trying to grab a ledge but to no avail. Her, the rocks, and the water tumbled into the void before coming to an abrupt stop. She panted heavily, feeling around on the rocky surface as she slowly fixated on boots through her blurry vision.

She looked up, and began to crawl backwards as the figure stood there unmoving. It had its arms tucked behind its back, and by the silhouette of its head, and the bioluminescence of its gills, it was definitely not human. Suzume didn't know what to make of it, but gently the light around them began to burn brighter, exposing the platform they sat on. It also exposed the creature before her, in it's golden robes. It had large scale like skin, with plate-like folds moving across its head. The most striking of its appearance was the lack of eyes. Two diagonal holes above its mouth gently opened and closed as it breathed, and the gills upon its neck furled like feathers with each breath. Predominantly grey and white, the edges of its face, gills, and scales was glowing with a violet sheen.

''Who are you?'' Suzume asked horrified.

She couldn't see any ear on the side of its head, but nevertheless, it tilted its absent gaze down to her. It gestured with an arm next to her, there on the horizon, the scene of an archive began to rise from the void. It looked far different than how Suzume remembered. It was the archive on Hades, except there was a city, and more of this creature. The scene slowly began to turn ominous, as the people ran, and there was fire. Large pillars of smoke towered above the landscape, and ships of titanic size could be seen above firing upon the city. They were similar in design to the Scythian ships her nation used today, designs Scylla had provided.

''I-I don't understand, why are you showing me this?''

The creature reached out with a hand to her. It only had two fingers and a thumb. She looked up at it, its expression hadn't changed. Suzume swallowed, and gingerly took its hand, and as it helped her up, the scenery around them changed to grassy fields of some unknown world. She gasped at the sight. Towering mountains in the distance, so tall the clouds separated against their might, and a river so wide it seemed like an ocean that stretched well beyond the horizon. There were creatures of an alien nature, that she had never laid eyes upon, so bizarre in form that travelled throughout these expansive grasslands. The two of them began to walk, with Suzume trailing beside the figure which stood a few feet above her, and was exceptionally slender. Like the animals, she had never seen such an alien creature, even among those aliens she had met previously.

They walked for what seemed like hours. And they saw many amazing things from plants that crawled around like animals, and animals that behaved like plants. The beautiful scenery was tranquil, with a bright blue star shining down its gracious light upon a world with so much energy, so much life. Every step she took in the moist, soft soil led to a euphoric feeling that made her feel in tune with the planet itself, with the life itself in ways she could never have fathomed. Every breath of the planet, from its green and violet grasses, to the animals floating in the sky like balloons could be felt in her very being.

It was then that they stopped. She stepped beside her guide, and together, they looked on beyond the edge of a cliff at a different world entirely. The land was red, with fires in the distance, the sky orange and filled with soot. She could see the creatures of this world, succumbing to a fungus. Tortured by its onset as it wreaked havoc upon their bodies, forcing them to experience a slow, agonising end. The excruciating cries of animals as they struggled for one last breath, having collapsed upon the same moist soils she had travelled before, brought tears to her eyes.

She shook her head, and began to hyperventilate. The figure turned towards her, and hit her in the head with its palm. She felt like she had fallen, but was still standing, no alone and in a puddle. As she stared down, instead of seeing her reflection, she could see the figure. She looked up at the sound of voices. She was surrounded by a crowd of similar figures. Their language was indecipherable, like gibberish but with such qualities in sound that her mind struggled pinpointing them.

She watched as they seemed to cheer, and a figure climbed atop a large marble column with its arms outstretched driving the crowds wild. Behind the creature was a Scythian destroyer, a ship towering above them at half a kilometre, standing silent and still. But she knew now that the ship wasn't from her Empire. It couldn't be. She observed the creature atop the column, as another approached and laid upon it a violet robe with a green sheen, an a crown of jewels fashioned spectacularly. The crowd erupted again, startling her, but she gazed on. It was then that she felt a hand around her ankle. She was pulled through the puddle by her previous guide, and was again standing beside him.

Before them was a scene of industrialisation on a scale unprecedented. Factories stretched for miles in the distance, and dotted among this vast landscape were the construction of more of Scythian ships. Below, she could see that many working in these places were not of the figure's species, but other creatures, aliens of various types guarded by her guide's kind, and collared and chained. She could see several being beaten to death as they were suddenly walking among the corridors of these factories. An alien was dragged out of a building by a hardlight leash around its neck, too tight for it to breath properly as its four arms grasped at anything and everything.

Suzume and her guide stopped to watch as several of her guide's kind pulled the creature into the middle of the street, where there was mud and water, and pressed its face down into it. They began to beat it as it screamed, and finally, one approached and as the others held it down, they poured molten metal across its body causing it to writhe and jerk in sheer agony before finally falling silent. They wiped their hands, fastened the alien to a pole, and hoisted it up for all to see.

Her guide grabbed her and turned her around. She covered her mouth as a weight pulled in her chest trying to force her to collapse, though her knees wouldn't buckle. Before them, for miles, was the desolate scorched landscape. And for as far as the eye could see, fields of the dead of that tortured alien's kind having been impaled, strewn up, crucified, or skinned and left to hang from poles. As the figure pointed to the left, drawing her attention, she could see this same field covered in structures, tranquil in atmosphere. Homes of that four-armed creature and its kind. But this would not last.

The figure showed her these same creatures taking up arms against her guide's kind. And it began to settle upon her, the story she had been told. Her guide showed her more instances, different aliens, but the same results. Her guide's kind were brutal. They now stood on a bridge of a vast ship, as it fired a beam so bright the universe was bled white. When it was done, they gazed on at a world torn asunder amid the graveyard of its defender's ships.

And then, they watched another planet intentionally be attacked with the red fungus she had seen before. Karax. It consumed everything living. Plants, animals, and people of a world that she knew died long ago. She could see the guide's kind move among the fungus unaffected as they gunned down any survivors. A timelapse began to occur of the world now. All life had been extinguished, and overtime, everything organic had been broken down by this fungus which slowly began to recede, leaving behind the desecrated, barren landscape of a once thriving world.

They stood in a room that Suzume had seen before. It was a large chamber inside the Hades archive. They watched as a small group of her guide's kind conversed with some kind of entity, and then they began to extract information, and she watched in amazement and horror as they began to experiment in creating life. For what seemed like years, she watched a horrific process that involved burning the failures alive, and testing the successes to their breaking limits. From the process, they made many bizarre and fascinating creatures, which were then transplanted upon worlds previously laid barren by them. She watched as they evolved, as the guide's species frequented the world, and eventually some of their creations became intelligent. They built shrines and worshipped them. Never knowing at what costs it took to bring them to this point.

But it wouldn't last. They would rebel, refusing to be enslaved, to forever enshrine their creators. Karax would return, and the world would be extinguished. Suzume felt her guide's hand on her shoulder, and she turned to look where it had directed. They watched her guide, the very same beside her, come into the chambers of an archive. As it pulled the hood it had off of its head, she could see amid the pale lights inside the archive, that the bodies of the guards laid in the doorway.

Her guide didn't flinch. She watched him intently for a moment, before turning back to what she assumed was the guide's past self. An entity began to converse with the past-guide. The past-guide held up a stone, a familiar stone to Suzume. The doors sealed abruptly behind the past-guide, and the air began to vent from the room. The past-guide ran to the core of the archive, there it messed with a panel, sliding the stone in to the console, and turned a gun on itself. The shot made Suzume jump as the past-guide fell over the platform, and down into the cavernous deep of the core. Some changed in the archive after that, something new had awoken.

They were now standing amid a battlefield. The guide's kind were now fighting each other. The conflict was great, waging across the galaxy as machine fought machine, and kind fought kind. Many worlds, of creatures either created by them, or having never been a party to them, were caught in the crossfire. Trillions burned. In the end, they stood among the dilapidated palace where that column Suzume had seen once stood. There, their leader with its crown, lied on the floor. Before him, was a machine, projecting the likeness of her guide as they spoke. They argued. And finally, the machine dealt the fatal blow to the leader. An explosion erupted among the palace, and across their collapsing empire, the archives shut down. The machines of both sides fell where they were, and the guide's kind were extinguished.

Suzume now stood on the platform where they had begun. Her guide standing before her with a silent expression. It was then that it spoke, but she didn't see its mouth move, instead hearing it speak in her mind. Its voice was powerful, causing her to collapse to her knees as she listened.

''What you have witnessed, is the fate of my kind over the span of four-hundred million years. What you experience now, has already come to pass once before. That which you call Scylla,'' it spoke, reaching its hands out to help Suzume up, ''is my creation. I was the first catalyst. And with that role, comes great sacrifice. My kind spent so many aeons trying to perfect life, that they forgot how to cherish it. What we did to civilisations was unspeakable, but now you face a threat I had faced long ago. Your foe is an immense, extremely sophisticated intelligence unlike anything you've ever known. Scylla is your tool in stopping it, but you, you are the key. Karybdis -- I think it's a befitting name, since you have chosen something among mythology for my creation,'' it spoke.

''Karybdis will consume as much as it can, to continue what it was always designed to do. It can not be reasoned with. It must be destroyed. If you wish to stop the infections of the Kaharax, you must take down Karybdis first. The archives are where you must venture. Scylla must be reconnected to its network if you wish to fight this enemy, but be warned, Karybdis knows who you are, what you are. It knows what you are going to do, so expect a fight on your hands. End this, once and for all,'' it said.

''Wait, I don't understand, who and what are you?'' Suzume asked

''You wouldn't be able to pronounce my name. But you may call me Eden. I find the name -- ironic. As to what I am, I am you, as much as we are both Scylla. I trapped myself with Scylla when I killed myself that day. If the catalyst is dead, Scylla can't survive. I made sure Karybdis didn't have that chance. You already know what you need. Good luck,'' Eden said, vanishing into the void.

Suzume woke up abruptly with Seryle's arm around her. The area was quiet as she breathed slowly. She carefully slid out from Seryle's embrace, got dressed, and headed to the command centre. Once there, she pulled up a screen, and began to record a message.

This is an open broadcast to relevant parties -- I am Empress Suzume Raza, of the Scythian Khaganate. In recent weeks, my nation has been besieged by an aggressive, extremely fatal pandemic that has only gotten worse. We have dealt with this disease in the past, what is known as Karax among the Scythians, or the Red Death. However, this outbreak has exceeded anything we have ever faced, on a scale unprecedented for my nation, and for many others for a very long time.

I am currently running a government in exile after we were forced to launch a series of coordinated strikes on our own capital. This disease is not just a disease, it's a bioweapon being deployed by a malevolent intelligence, possibly of Glyrran origin. If true, we are dealing with a foe that has existed longer than some of our entire empires. It is using this weapon to harvest data about the lifeforms it consumes, and likely recreating, or creating others elsewhere.

The Khaganate has lost contact with half of our territory to what may as well be described as an invasion. And what few reports we have suggests that this weapon has not just appeared in our space, but among others. I can understand the Khaganate's approval rating among the community isn't at its highest. But this disease is not just an existential threat to us. Fighting it alone isn't going to be an option. I will be forwarding every bit of credible data we have to those affected, and will be directing my diplomatic staff to hold a summit in the GCC for further action, including peace negotiations between the Khaganate and other states we are currently engaged with. Thank you.

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Olimpiada
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1219
Founded: Aug 13, 2016
Corporate Bordello

The Oracle of Sanjukyu-jo; Nikolaides is sacrificed

Postby Olimpiada » Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:02 pm



Ivy, Delphi
Ring Sector 17R



Thanos Nikolaides was awakened by the white and orange room control on his window. It played a soft yet rousing chime, carefully computed based on that night’s brainwaves and his biological rhythms to get him up without getting him startled or unhappy. Yawning, he rolled out of bed and walked over to his window to turn off the disturbance. It wasn’t a real window, of course. Ivy didn’t have those, nor should it have. They’d all have terrible views of the planet below, due to the way the ring’s spin gravity worked. But Nikolaides did have a pinhole camera all to himself, and it let him see Ivy clearly. Puffy white clouds circled above a hazy grey fog. Beneath it, periodic spots of washed out blue and muddy brown could be seen, products of rampant mining and industrial abuse for centuries. When he had first moved here, he hated it. A native of Emerald, he was used to greenery and clear skies. But the scene had grown on him. Before the BlueSky Industries operation here, the planet had been filled largely with hostile life and massive metal deposits near the surface. One had since disappeared to make handling the other. He liked to think of it as a massive symbol of mankind’s technological progress.

These thoughts were half formed at best. It was only seven dot, and work didn’t start until nine dot. He still had plenty of time. The coffee brewer in his cabin kitchenette had kicked on about ten minutes before the alarm had, early enough for most of a pot, but not enough for the smell to rouse him before the alarm could. The brew in question was lower on amphetamine kick than usual. He had been trying to cut back lately, after he noticed himself getting twitchy without a cup in his hand. The near-lethal quantity of caffeine, however, remained.

Steaming cup in hand, he fried up a slab of steak-analogue on his magnetic stovetop, and cracked a couple of eggs to fit in too. He could afford his very nice station cabin, but real meat was off the table. Reconstituted algae from Frost would have to do until that next promotion. Smoke disappeared rapidly into a concealed vent in the ceiling, being almost entirely unwelcome on a space station, and was whisked off to an oxygen reclamation plant somewhere near the local fusion plant.

He sat down in his big faux leather chair, and turned on the news. A part of his window was taken up by a display of the BlueSky Industrial Times, one of the few news sources allowed on the ring by corporate. While it was doctored and sanitized without fail, and Nikolaides had the resources to find a more independent opinion, it was best for his career to stay with the company line where his personal opinions were concerned. The current program was a report on the situation in Sabishii. The Karax was being held at bay through a combination of flamethrowers and extreme quarantines, but it would periodically find a way through. Three days of isolation for returning soldiers had turned to four, which had then turned to five, and so on. They were up to a week, and fewer people were willing to head into the red forests without serious contract renegotiation beforehand. Periodically, their fungal foes would return fire. Nikolaides took a long sip of his coffee, and sliced off a piece of his steak. Business as usual in the combat zone, it would appear. He wondered when it would end.



Sabishii, Delphi
Sanjukyu-jo, Habitation Sector 39D



Given a bit of time, Sanjukyu-jo had expanded. While few people from HabSec 39D remained alive, that just left the survivors with plenty of room to stretch their legs. While many Sabishiians naturally tended toward enclosed spaces, there were plenty of open rooms for the more adventurous ones to inhabit. So while those with trouble adjusting still remained in more standard apartments, there were those who had demolished walls and doubled or tripled their space. The arrangements were widely viewed as beneficial, and it was doubtful that few would actually wish to go back to previous arrangements. Least of all these was Yoshimasa Oshiro, the leader of this operation, largely by sheer force of will.

His residence was a soccer stadium. The entire thing was not filled, but largely had various spots in it where he could do whatever he saw fit. One massive tent on the field was where he chose to sleep on a large four poster bed permanently on loan from a now defunct furniture warehouse. A spot in the stands cleared of seats was where he went to watch movies on the large glass screen supported by a ramshackle construction of scaffolding and rebar at the edge of the field. Many other such kludged arrangements were around the field, in varying levels of quality, all for the purpose of entertaining a man who now styled himself as Shogun.

The Shogun descriptor was not entirely inaccurate; he had a small private military of plucky survivors, and he used them to exert governmental authority. The focal point of said authority was a semi-permanent tent in the center of the field. Numerous fiber optic cables ran out from beneath it, stretching across the astroturf into distant sockets and computer terminals. Picking his way across the field, Hideo tried carefully to avoid tripping over some of the larger ones, a task which became more difficult the nearer he came to Oshiro’s tent.

Inside, the man himself was connected. A bundle of cables reached out of the back of his shaven skull, and spread into various computers around the room. A large chair made of leather and real wood (from the same aforementioned furniture warehouse) held the shogun while he stared at nothing at all, his eyes glazed over with datasheets and internet connections. An ancient katana and wazikashi pair, possibly from Old Earth, had been leaned carelessly against his throne. The ambient temperature was a few degrees warmer than in the rest of Sanjukyu-jo, and Hideo rapidly grew uncomfortable in his heavy, bulletproof synthleather jacket, but maintained his respectfully deep bow.

“Ah, Hideo. It is good to see you. How goes the expansion? The cameras we’ve gained control of have certainly expanded my views of this area, but I cannot yet monitor our outermost fringes.” His Japanese was refined and eloquent, but a gravelly rumble in his voice betrayed a difficult past.

“The expansion of our territories goes well. We were recently able to push back the Blight in Maintenance Corridor 117098, providing us with an essential route to a well stocked food depot. The corpos should be pushed out in a few hours, they won’t expect us to come from the vents.”

“Excellent. And you have something else to tell me in the same vein, I believe.” Hideo raised an eyebrow at this, though he moved no other muscles. One could hardly grovel enough before the shogun. “It is not given away by your face. Your restraint there remains intact. Twenty-three point seven eight five seconds before you arrived here, I intercepted the data myself. We are expecting visitors from the previous owners, aren’t we?”

Hideo felt that his presence was entirely unnecessary now, but knew that his leader wished to speak with him, so he pressed on with his intended line of dialogue as best as he could. “Yes, sir. BlueSky is sending a representative to negotiate with us. They want to regain some control over the HabSec by striking a deal.”

“Hm. Let me tell you about corporate types. I used to actually work for them. Aurelius-Kawahara Aeronautics SecGroup 418Aleph. That’s how I came by these wire sockets in my head. Aurikawa employed me as an electronic warfare for the rest of the platoon on backwater mining colonies, tying up loose ends before the xenoi could retake our operations. As such, my job was to burn data more often than anything else.

“The rest of the team ran physical mop-up. As you can imagine, that usually lead to me working under fire, and becoming damn good at predicting the enemy by their signal leak and electronic chatter. My callsign was Oracle, since I was always two steps ahead of our foes. Unfortunately, no system is entirely perfect.

“An Izirian incap hit me on Integra-Ten. My avian friends sent an actual soldier rather than a mechanical proxy squadron for once. He snuck in with entirely non-electromagnetic kit, and tagged me with one of those little bots.” While Hideo tried to recall what exactly those did, Oshiro unbuttoned his plain white dress shirt with a certain deliberate slowness. Beneath was a slightly toned chest covered with a spiderweb of white scars. Hideo winced. “Oh no, do not look away. This is important. The incap bots they fling from their sluggers tend to latch onto the body, and follow whatever nerve strands it can with streams of fast replicating nanites. They stimulate the connections the entire time, looking for hormonal pain responses, and following a genetic algorithm to refine their methods of extracting them. The Izirian war philosophy dictates that wounded soldiers are more detrimental to the enemy than actual deaths are, so they found the best way to wound possible.

“I recall little of the experience, but the pain still periodically comes back even today. The field surgeon managed to pull out most of the nanites, but a few remain, dormant, occasionally awakening to wreak havoc upon my systems. Interestingly enough, there is a drug that kills them. Aurikawa did not pay for me to have it. I have since learned to live without it. It sharpens my mind.

“Medication was not the only thing they chose not to pay for. Since I was incapacitated and could not fight properly, they cut my pay. My previous free housing on Triumvirate was removed from my benefits package, and rapidly drove me into debt. I still cannot return to that world, lest their police drones immediately tag and arrest me. So, I moved here, and turned to the yakuza, until I grew powerful enough to start my own gang. You were there for that, as I recall.” Hideo nodded, remembering how the simple feeling of confidence and worldliness the man radiated was enough to convince him to quit the yaks at the same time.

“I’ve since dealt with everyone from Hex Orbital to Mykonos. None of the corporate entities are different except in name. So do you know what I shall choose to do when whoever it is arrives and deigns to enter my territory?” Hideo shook his head. “Odds are, I’ll run him through with my katana, and leave his head tied to one of the fidos at the gates. Fuck them all. In the ass.”



Ivy, Delphi
Ring Sector 17R



When Nikolaides arrived at his desk at eight dot fifty-five, like a good employee, he found that his computer was already online and showing a set of work for him to complete. This was not uncommon in and of itself. The company owned the computer, it could do that. It wasn’t even ethically questionable. He sat down in the plastic chair at the desk, easing himself into its terrible ergonomics like a hermit crab trying to squeeze into a poorly sized shell. He read the first order. It was a travel job. He read the details, briefly.

Fuck.
Last edited by Olimpiada on Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Shwe Tu Colony
Senator
 
Posts: 3937
Founded: Sep 27, 2016
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Shwe Tu Colony » Sun Dec 09, 2018 3:22 pm

OOC: This is technically not a future-tech post, but it still features Karax. As such, I have elected to also post it here.

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SEARCHING FOR COMPLETED SAVED STATE...
COMPLETED SAVED STATE FOUND...
PREPARING...


Benjamin Gallo in Benjamin Gallo, My Sweet, Sweet Prince
"That Fall Day"


Sometimes, I wish that I had never found that chunk of metal among the dead leaves in that day in northern Ensia. It was what a Domeses would do, my naive mind had thought, still infatuated with their at-then seemingly endless power, for they were made to be leaders in whatever magical field or government sector they were destined for. Nothing stops them, I told myself, Anything for Psytrine knowledge, right?

Sometimes, I wish that I had never agreed to Elijah’s idea, condemned to be stuck in this sad machine of magic known as a Doll that would never grow like my friends. I understood newer and more complicated ideas as easily as they could, but I was unsure if I was supposed to. How old was I really? Was I still nine — the age when I died and became a Doll — and frolicking in the fields outside the city, or was I supposed to be twenty-nine and off making some sort of miracle happen, as I thought the Domeses, the marvelous magicians and government department heads of Psytronius, did when I was younger?

Sometimes, I wonder if Kiyu would have been happier if I had simply allowed my spirit to drift to the afterlife or to be reincarnated into one of those seagulls that flew so freely on the shores of the Thallian and Thryllasian Regions, calling out her name as they scavenged for whatever they could and chased the autumn leaves across the seas. I never understood how their call resembled Kiyu’s name, but soon enough, they were in my last memory with the both of us truly happy. What I would give to see her smile as she did that day.

The two of us, me with my silly little life support device and her in the best clothes that she could muster. She desperately wanted to fulfill her last wish, which was her crush on me, before I passed. She knew that us Psytrines had a way to put someone’s mind into a new consciousness, but she still wanted a childish wedding before that.

I feel like I’ll always be stuck reliving that same day, the day before I died, the day where the winds ravaged the trees and leaves and forced them with a peculiar cruelty to the ground. One even dared to get near Kiyu. I slapped it out of the way, of course, and she loved me for it and giggled wonderfully, but I could tell that was one of the last things she loved of me before I died.

I'll wait for her. She won't wait for me like she would so long ago, she won't take my hand. But, if it will make her happy, I'll wait for her. It's the best I can do.

A Late Autumn Day in Ensia, 10 A.M.
We were all nine around that time, us five orphans and D’aillisioux, who may not have been abandoned like us and knew his parents well, but he played with us five and we played with him anyway. Psytronius was known to be an academics’ city, but sometimes the need for academics proved a bit too stressful, and it would usually culminate in an embarrassed man or woman hauling a suspicious-looking sack to one of the two orphanages in the tiny city, throwing it near the front door, and running off.

Thankfully, the low population of Psytronius, but not so much the city’s intelligence, as some of the smartest were not always the most sensible, meant this was rare anyway. Still, there were a few cases — enough to assemble my motley crew of troublemakers. Aside from Kiyu and I, the other three orphans were a secretive elf girl by the name of Indigo Travers, a hot-tempered Shurmian human boy named Queensly Da’urie, and an adventurous half-dragon half-Orc girl named Hippolyta Pharos. I was apparently a nonnative human, as the headmistress of the orphanage put it, and that was all I wanted to know; Kiyu was told the same.

D’aillisioux, though, was a bit more interesting — his father was a fully native human born and raised somewhere in our universe, but his mother had these enormous butterfly wings billowing out behind her that she couldn’t actually fly with. He didn’t inherit the wings, but he did inherit her just as impressive stamina and acrobatic abilities, which was apparently because of her nature as a “Cirquish” being.
Queensly, though, always thought of that as a challenge, and always tried to outperform D’aillisioux, desperate to prove himself as the stronger boy. That was how our day started — just after breakfast and the landing of our floating city of Psytrinous, the six of us headed out to explore the oak forests of the Ensia region, Hippolyta, D’aillisioux, and Queensly being our group’s vanguard, as per usual, and Indigo, Kiyu, and I making a slow, relaxing walk in their wake.

“Wait! No fair!” D’aillisioux yelled out as the other two rushed ahead of him, Queensly wearing nothing more than his usual black shorts, D’aillisioux in his blue shorts and blue t-shirt, and Hippolyta wearing much the same as him, albeit with shades of green. Considering the somewhat chilly weather, I couldn’t help but wonder how the three of them didn’t get sick, Queensly especially. In fact, he had nearly gotten hypothermia during one of our misadventures in the mountains of La Friglas — it was a miracle that we had gotten him back into Psytronius.

But nothing ever hampered his resolve to prove himself. If D’aillisioux dared him to dive into snow for a few minutes with only his shorts, he would do it. If Indigo asked him to climb a small cliff for some sort of flower, he would do it, less so out of love and more so to prevent D’aillisioux from doing it. The two of them were each other’s rivals to an excessive degree, and sometimes they could be a bit underhanded against one another.

Like right now, with Queensly having already gotten a lead on D’aillisioux by a few trees and leaving the rest of us behind. We didn’t have anywhere specific in mind to go and mostly just planned to wander among the leafless oaks. I didn’t mind, though, since Kiyu and I always had something to talk about, our hands clasped together, as was always the case since we first met, and Indigo always made sure there was never a lull. She didn’t talk much, but whenever she did, it was always something valuable.

“Hey...” Kiyu began, looking at an oak tree that still had a leaf — a vibrant green that stood out in the warm autumn orange, “Don’t you guys think that tree looks kind of… weird?”
“What do you mean?” Indigo asked, “It looks fine.”
“No, it’s just… that leaf,” Kiyu took a few steps towards the tree and let her hand slip out of mine in her devotion to the task, but I found myself unable to move, prompting her to turn around in confusion, “Ben, is something wrong? Why aren’t you coming?”
“What? Er… no,” I replied, but I could tell she knew that I was lying, and I rushed over to her, “Sorry. I, uh… saw something else.” That part was true at least: in the distance, I had glimpsed antlers and a white, peering dot beneath them. She narrowed her eyes at me, but seconds later she giggled as her expression flipped back to her usual smile, brushing her hand against mine as the two of us began to walk towards the tree with its single leaf, Indigo trailing after us.

“See? Indigo, don’t you think the green looks wrong here?” Kiyu asked as the three of us neared the tree, “It’s fall, there shouldn't be a leaf here, right?”
“I think it looks pretty,” the other shrugged, “Look, it’s like these crocus flowers. It’s a good time for them,” She gestured towards some purple flowers with three burgundy rods coming out of them at the oak tree’s base — saffron flowers. “Oh!” Kiyu said as she ran up to the flowers and picked all of them, wrapping all but up in a bit of twine that she carried around and giving the leftover one to me, which I absentmindedly took as I looked around, “I love them!”

“Hey!” suddenly came Hippolyta’s voice from a tree, dangling off of it with her green tail, “You guys coming? We found something cool!” She climbed down and gestured for us to follow, her dragon tail trailing behind her and constantly sweeping the ground, as though there might be something else among the dead leaves. After a short while of walking, I saw a boy dressed in black school uniform around our age who was wandering around the area to our left.
“Who’s that?” I said, pointing towards him. He looks kind of lonely… I wonder if he’d want to hang out with us? I then thought, smiling at the thought of a new friend.
“Hey! Who’re you?” I shouted at him with my hands cupped around my mouth, the boy turning to face me with a bored scowl, at which point I noticed a strange pair of folds beneath his eyes. Undeterred, I waved at him, at which point he took a few steps towards Kiyu and me, Kiyu taking a few steps towards him with her bouquet of crocus flowers.

“What are you kids doing here?” he asked, his voice echoing slightly and oozing with a sort of cautious, poisonous mood. Looking back, though, it was honestly ridiculous — he seemed so angsty and hostile, yet he was hardly older than myself.
“We’re gonna go play! Wanna join?” came my innocent reply and grin, but the other boy merely closed his eyes, turned around, and began walking in the direction of the white dot from earlier. Kiyu, though, began to run to his side with her flowers, followed by myself. Indigo and Hippolyta remained where they were, waiting for us to come back. When we were a few steps away from him, he turned around with his usual bored scowl.

With a warm smile, Kiyu offered her crocuses to the boy once she was close enough. “Here! Take them,” she said. For a moment, he seemed unsure of how to react, but after a few moments, he too cracked his own delightful smile. “Mmm, thanks,” he said, taking one of the flowers from Kiyu, who giggled in response, “It’s a nice flower.” He smelled it, put it away in his pocket, and turned around to go back to where we came from, only to stop himself halfway through. “Right, I never introduced myself. I’m Mathieu Paracelsus, Domeses of Toxins,” he said, slightly nodding his head and revealing a second pair of eyes hidden behind the folds I noticed from earlier.

“Wow, you are? That’s so cool!” I said, bursting with excitement. Whereas children elsewhere usually idolized major athletes or superheroes, Psytrine children like me and my group idolized the Domeses. They were the perfect ones of our society, made to perform miracles, made to persist, and made to serve.
“Yup, I am,” came Mathieu’s calm reply, placing his left hand beneath his chin as a brown recluse crawled out of his sleeve. A few more creatures joined the spider — a snake fell out of his pants and began to slither up his leg, then his back, and finally rested on his shoulder, and a centipede scurried out of his hair.

Kiyu’s scream at the sudden entrance of the three creatures was a bit delayed — probably from the shock that a Domeses would betray her trust like that — as she leapt behind me. “M-make it go away!” she begged, her voice cracking in fear and about to cry.
I picked up a stick on the floor and was about to swing it at one of Mathieu’s animals. I didn’t care that he was a Domeses; what mattered to me was that he made Kiyu cry! “D-don’t worry, they won’t hurt you!” Mathieu pleaded, cracking a nervous smile as he placed his sleeve onto his head to allow the centipede to crawl in alongside the spider, the two bugs then proceeding to crawl deeper into his sleeve, “S-see? Those two are gone now.”

I gestured towards the snake with my stick as the reptile glared at Kiyu and lashed its long tongue out at my cheek, coating it in a thick layer of saliva and causing Kiyu to scream in terror. “Hey! Bad!” the Domeses scolded his pet, which bowed its head in shame, “Oh, nightshade! That’s not good.” He proceeded to lunge towards me and wiped at where the snake had struck me. “Y-you don’t feel anything right now, right?” he stammered out, ignoring Kiyu’s slight sobbing behind me.
“No? Was I supposed to?” I asked, a bit concerned as to what the snake was supposed to do. If the title of Domeses of Toxins was any indication, though…

“Good, good. I got the poison off before it took effect; if it did, you’d be on the floor, and it wouldn’t be a good thing. I don’t know why she’d lash out at you like that,” Mathieu explained, taking a few steps back, “Whatever, I better get going before I cause more trouble… sorry to your, uh…” He paused, squinting his eyes at Kiyu as he tried to search for the right word. “Uh… whatever. See ya.” With that, the other boy left, and Kiyu and I returned to Hippolyta and Indigo, who both had evidently not left after we left to meet Mathieu.
“What were you two doing? Just waiting?” I asked, Kiyu still trembling in fear and with a few tears rolling down her face.

“Nah, just saw something in the distance that was pretty fun to watch,” Hippolyta explained, gesturing to the right of our group, “Some sort of deer-sage-thing, I think. Kind of creepy.” A pause. “Anyway, we should get going. Queensly and D’aillisioux are probably waiting for us.” The four of us continued our walk towards wherever the two boys were, myself holding Kiyu’s hand tightly and trying to calm her down the best I could.
Our calm stroll was soon interrupted by D’aillisioux and Queensly sprinting towards us, and in the distance, I could hear footsteps. Ethereal, hollow footsteps that followed no rhythm, and that made it all the worse. “W-what’s wrong!” asked Hippolyta as the boys neared us.

“Something saw us!” Queensly yelled back, “We need to leave, now!” With that, the six of us turned back towards that same one-leaf tree Kiyu noticed earlier and began to sprint, Indigo and Hippolyta in front, Kiyu and I in the back with our hands clasped firmly, and the other two boys in the middle. We weren’t sure what we were being chased by, but D’aillisioux and Queensly were rarely ever as frightened as they were now.
“A-ah!” Kiyu yelled out behind me. Before I could turn around to see what happened, I instinctively yanked her forward, only for her to grab my foot and cause me to fall down too.
By the time I got up and pulled her up too, I turned and saw what was pursuing us — a spirit that I was later told was a Basajuan — and I squeezed Kiyu’s hand. “W-what’s wrong?” she stammered out. I was too paralyzed from the spirit’s aura of terror to stop her from turning and also being caught by its horrifying appearance.

It was a black, feathery figure with four legs that suspended its main body and white, mask-like head some six feet from the ground, yet its movements were oddly dexterous and terrifyingly mesmerizing. Each step it took made that same ethereal sound as earlier that sounded like someone pounding the door to an empty room. Each step it took was a deliberate one, one made to more than just pursue us.
Basajuans, as it turned out, knew how to use fear and their dreadful march when hunting.
What would a Domeses do, what would a Domeses do? I panicked as it continued its arrhythmic march towards Kiyu and I. Each breath I took, each slight blink was nearly impossible with the spirit’s terrible aura, and I could tell Kiyu was in a similar state. With the way she gripped my hand, I could tell that she desperately wanted to cry out of fear, yet she was simply too afraid to. All we could do was stand there and hope for a miracle.

And there was one. Just when it was within a few meters of us, a wild bramble suddenly extended from some bushes to its right and tangled themselves around the Basajuan’s legs, causing it to trip. When it landed, more brambles erupted from the ground at its sides and wrapped themselves around its back, like they were tying it to the floor. Then, they rushed back into the holes they came out of, tearing open the Basajuan, which made a metallic screech in pain as a black, syrupy fluid erupted from its back. Then, it vanished in a dense, black smog that dissipated within seconds.

Now free from its grip of terror, Kiyu and I collapsed onto the leaf-covered ground, myself gasping desperately for air and facing the sky and Kiyu lying there, her face a grimace of fear. “B-Ben…” she groaned out, tightening her grip on my hand.
“You two okay?” suddenly came Mathieu’s voice as he stood over me, blocking the sun — evidently, he had also come to help us out, but considering that he was the Domeses of Toxins, it definitely wasn’t him that had created the brambles earlier, “I felt something weird in the area, so I came back, alongside Carson.”
“Who’s… that?” I asked in between gasps.
“Honestly, I don’t think you and Kiyu should meet him right now. He looks pretty scary,” the Domeses said, “After your run-in with that Basajuan thing, I think you’ve had enough fear for today.” I nodded in agreement. “Anyway, I best get going. The two of us are down inspecting this area,” Mathieu continued, turning to look behind and to the right of him.

“Ben! Kiyu!” D”aillisioux yelled as he sprinted in front of us, followed closely by Indigo, Queensly, and Hippolyta, “A-are you two okay?” I frowned, realizing that the other four more or less abandoned us to the Basajuan. They had to have heard Kiyu yelling, right? “Sorry, I thought you two were right behind us,” he stretched his hand towards me and helped pull me up, Indigo doing the same with Kiyu.
“Why didn't you hear her fall?” I demanded once I was up, “We were right behind you!”
“I-I don't know. Maybe it was whatever was chasing us?” he suggested, looking towards Mathieu as though expecting some sort of help from him.

“Well, I have heard that Basajuans do have the ability to isolate people and cut off their senses,” the Domeses claimed, shrugging, “But it's usually more than just hearing. If you guys really got isolated by the Basajuan, I would have expected you to fall or something from a lack of touch or sight.”
“I just… didn't hear you two, Ben,” D'aillisioux said, looking towards the others. Their apologetic expressions seemed to tell the same story, but it failed to reduce my indignance. “Well,” commented Matheiu, cutting in before I could say anything else, “looks like we’ve got an awfully contrived situation.” His bitter tone indicated that he had encountered this sort of misfortune before, and he kicked the carpet of dead leaves in front of him, watching as they fluttered in the breeze towards the north.

His melancholy mood was interrupted by Hippolyta’s wandering. “Hey, what’s this stuff?” she asked, getting close to a group of bright red mushrooms that were growing on what seemed to be a pair of antlers that were stuck in the ground to the right and behind me.
“Hey! Don’t touch those!” Mathieu yelled at her, dashing to where she was and leaving behind a trail of purple bubbles and fluid that popped and evaporated as quickly as they appeared. While the others were distracted by her antics, I was still indignant at their betrayal.
“I don’t believe you guys!” I shouted, drawing the attention back to me, only for Kiyu to hold my hand in hers.

“B-Ben,” she whispered out, still trembling in fear, “can you please just stop?”
For a moment, I paused and felt only the silence of the woods, the dead leaves rustling in the wind. A breeze laden with shriveled-up leaves blasted past me, but it seemed that only I had felt it despite wearing the most clothes out of us. I was certain, though, that that burst of wind, that cannonfire of a chill, should have touched all of us, but its frigid breath touched only me, as though vengefully marking me for some fate. A fate to be blown in the breeze — dead, yet alive, never to see home again and condemned to watch life pass by in a terrible limbo. Maybe it would land and decay, maybe its nutrients would find its way to the roots of its forests, but never would it find myself truly back home.

Basajuans, as I later learned, were vengeful, opportunistic spirits. Even when their corporeal form was destroyed, they had a way of persisting to remind their victims that they were not done, and that fate would play them a cruel trick.
The chill of the wind was the Basajuan’s breath, long-dead and long-gone by the point it exhaled behind me, but it was there nonetheless, angered at me for sneaking into its woods and escaping its grasp, yet the forests did not belong to it; how absurd it thought otherwise.
Alongside that accursed Basajuan’s breeze was a foul, noxious odor of death that had a weaker aroma with it. Of saffron, most notably, and countless other floral scents.

And of Kiyu.

I gagged and crumpled halfway to the floor, accidentally letting go of Kiyu’s hands as I put both of mine towards my stomach. “Ben!” she yelled, rushing from behind me to my side, clutching my elbow.
“I-I’m… okay,” I said, springing upright and fumbling a step backwards, fortunately getting caught by a wall of dead leaves that had risen up from the ground behind me. Looking to my right, I caught a glimpse of the Carson Matheiu mentioned, who looked like a deer standing upright and inside of a dark green robe that no doubt hid something, his eyes white dots in a black void with a pair of dark streaks that extended from his eyes to his similarly black nose. However, he promptly dived into the ground the moment after I saw him, afraid of me being afraid, and the wall of leaves behind me collapsed, though I was thankfully standing without it.

“I don’t feel so good about staying here,” Indigo spoke, drawing all eyes to her and her grimace, which she had partially covered with her left hand. If she was not feeling well, and she decided to say it, then clearly something was terribly, terribly wrong.
“Well, I feel fine,” claimed Queensly, crossing his arms and failing to realize that Hippolyta was sneaking up behind him. Moments later, she slapped at his ankles with her tail, causing him to fall on the pile of leaves behind him and scatter them.
“Hah, gotcha!” she said, watching as the other boy scrambled to get up, almost all of us there laughing at Queensly — himself and Mathieu, albeit as a slight giggle, included. Carson was the only one not laughing, and simply stood and watched, his black robe flowing in the leaf-laden breezes and his gaze watching those particles fly by with a thoughtful look.

Hippolyta’s decision was enough to lighten the mood, and I was thankful for that. Eventually, Queensly, in an amused and amusing rage, dug himself out of his pile of leaves and began to chase Hippolyta around, and the rest of us watched as the two’s chase scene continued through the trees and the leaf-carpeted paths between them.
Any thought of the woods killing our moods were lost in our juvenile enthusiasm as swiftly as they came with the Basajaun’s terrible aura, but that odor in the wind still lingered within me.

Kiyu. It was Kiyu’s scent. Why was it Kiyu’s scent? Even worse, I could’ve sworn I saw my name and face scribbled on one of those leaves, like some sort of wanted poster.

A Late Autumn Day in Psytronious, Ensia, 10 P.M.
We amused ourselves with an assortment of games and roleplay until around one, at which point we rushed back to our orphanage for lunch and rushed back out to continue our fairy tales, our games of hide and seek, our own folklore of the woods that told the defeat of the Basajuan in twenty or maybe a hundred different forms. Then, it was six in the evening and we returned for dinner, and then snuck back out to continue despite the mistress’s demands. Despite the autumn chill, despite the Basajuan’s earlier intrusion, and despite the lack of any Domeses to rescue us if another showed up, we hardly cared, any thought of disaster somehow having already left us.

Perhaps it had been because of what we had roleplayed that had made us so courageous. All six of us, again and again, called ourselves Domeses no matter the terrain and no matter the danger in our naïve roleplays. A Domeses would not be afraid of a pesky little ghost! The dark of night is but another environment to adapt to! With allies, nothing can stop us!
What could there be to threaten one or even six of those mighty Psytrine masters but nothing? That was what we thought and thought true, and my scene against the Basajuan was just a small conflict, nothing that a roleplayed Domeses like me would lose against.
As I’ve already implied, that would be set to change.

“Oh, wait! I forgot my jacket out there!” I told the other five as we had just started walking up the stairs of thousands of steps to Psytronius, “Be right back!” With that, I turned around and began running into the woods, Kiyu holding my hand behind me with her bouquet of saffrons from earlier in her other hand. This time, we almost got to our destination without disaster.
Until a dead leaf that was blowing in the wind flew into my mouth.
“Akh!” I yelled out before then accidentally crunching down on the leaf and swallowing some of it, stinging my throat with its acrid taste for a few moments as it slid down, its stiff dryness and sickening flavor eerily perceptible. Surprised by what had happened, I let go of Kiyu’s hand, leaned forward, and tried to spit out as much as I could, but the leaves still on my tongue persisted, and I had to brush my hand against it to remove them, constantly groaning in disgust.

“Ben!” Kiyu had turned around immediately after I let go, “A-are you okay?” She patted my back gently to try to get it out, but it was clear she wasn’t sure if that was much help either. The thought was what mattered, though.
“Y-yeah… I’m fine,” I eventually said, straightening my back, “I just swallowed a leaf!” I giggled a little and Kiyu’s concern gave way to her own delightful laugh, For a short while on that dark, moonlit night, the two of us stood there to laugh at my misfortune, having forgotten about my jacket and the acrid taste of the leaf. Why, we both ignored the next chilly wind that blew past us, its Basajuan’s curse unable to penetrate past our heartwarming joy even when I was wearing nothing more than a sweater, shirt, and pants.

“Come on, let’s go, Kiyu, let’s go!” I told Kiyu with a smile, gesturing for her to come run with me to where I had left my jacket. Once I felt her hand grasp mine, we continued our run through the woods, but it was only a short while before we stopped. “Here’s my jacket,” I said, picking it up and letting go of Kiyu’s hand for a moment to put it back on.
Before I took ahold of her hand again, I noticed a piece of metal, wreathed in red thorns and buried in a pile of leaves. Curious as to what it was, I pulled my hand away from Kiyu, eliciting a quiet “hmm?” from her.
“What’s this?” I asked to nobody in particular, brushing the leaves off and pricking my left hand on a thorn, “Ow!” I pulled it towards my face to see where I was hurt, and for a moment my vision flickered and weakened.

Then, from the ground below, the mask-like face of a Basajuan seemed to rise from the soil for a moment, and I sprang away in fear, Kiyu catching me as I stumbled backwards.
“W-what happened?” she asked, clutching my right arm.
“Just some weird piece of metal,” I said, walking towards the piece of metal and picking it up with only my left hand, examining it and being careful not to let another thorn cut me, “What do you think are with these thorns? Do you think Indigo would know?”
“We can ask her later, can’t we?” she took my right hand and began walking towards Psytronius with me and my piece of metal in tow.

By the time we got back, the lights were all off. I hadn’t remembered too much time passing — the other three should have still been awake, even if we were gone another half hour, which was unreasonably long for what we had done. Perhaps our day’s escapades had exhausted them; I could certainly feel fatigue wearing Kiyu and I down by the time we were back.
“I think we should try to avoid being seen by the mistress… she might get mad,” I said, looking up at my bedroom window on the second story and the oak tree next to it, “I think you should go first, I need to figure out how to get this up into my room for tomorrow.”
“Throw it?” she suggested.

“I don’t think so,” I said, imagining myself throwing it and either making a dent in the wall by some manner of misfortune or getting the thorns lodged inside of my carpet or my bed, which would most certainly make some clatter. While the mistress of the orphanage was not frightening by any mean, it was more that she was such a sweet woman that we tried to behave well because we didn’t want to see her upset, though she was always unafraid to discipline us when needed.
“Maybe if I…” I took off my jacket and wrapped up the thorn-covered metal in it, being slow to prevent it from being punctured, and left one branch covered in longer thorns exposed. There, now I can carry it so I don’t get cut, I thought as I began climbing up the tree to my bedroom, holding the jacket-covered metal as soft as I could and using its thorns as a sort of climbing claw, This can’t hurt this tree. It’s just a few thorns! When I was around halfway up the tree, Kiyu began to climb as well, and eventually the two of us landed in my bedroom.

Once inside, I unwrapped the metal and put both it and my jacket into my closet, Kiyu standing at my side and watching and following me as I did so. “Looks weird,” she said as she examined the item, “Feels kind of… foreign, don’t you think?” I shrugged, and she merely shrugged back and began walking towards the door out of my room.
Before she exited, though, she turned around with an expression of confusion. After looking at me for a second as I began to climb into my bed, she said a confused, “Goodnight?” It was usually me who said it first, so it was of course a bit strange that I had remained silent.
“Hmm? Oh, yeah. Goodnight, Kiyu!” her grin became a full blast of sunlight as she placed her crocus flowers in a vase on the desk I had next to the door.

“Oh, your old lilies-of-the-valley are dead… I’ll take them for my book!” she said as she extracted them from the vase, leaving my room and shutting the door.
Something compelled me to get up and lock it; there was no harm in doing it, so I figured I may as well do it to satisfy my spontaneous desire.
For a short while, I thought of what I wanted to dream of, looking at the flowers on my table, looking at the moon shining outside of my window, looking at the branches of the tree swaying back and forth in the night’s wind, its leaves occasionally blowing off. For a moment, I thought I smelled the same noxious odor of death, but it was too weak to attract my attention, and I soon fell asleep, the thorn-covered metal tucked away in my closet.

Right before I lost consciousness, though, I could’ve sworn I felt another chilly wind, another Basajuan’s breath, flow over me, as though the spirit was still there and waiting. Waiting just outside of my window, looking up as its white mask grinned with sadistic delight, even if it was long defeated and sent back to the peaceful spirits’ realms, no longer condemned to stalk the earth. Not even death could stop it.
Death had, after all, not stopped its gift. It was in my bedroom closet right now, after all.

A Late Autumn Day in Psytronious, Ensia, The Next Day, 7 A.M.
Maybe I should have put more thought into what I wanted to dream of, but maybe it was inevitable considering the Basajuan, with its and terrible dominance through its horrifying gait and bleak expression. Not long after falling asleep, I had a nightmare featuring it pursuing me once again through the same woods in the waking world.
Only this time, I was alone. There was no Kiyu with me in my dream world, and the barren trees — wreathed in those same red thorns, covered in red stalks, and breathing out red spores — seemed to be imitating this isolation. It was just me and the enraged Basajuan, coming back from the spirits’ realm to finish what it had started in the corporeal world, its swaying, arrhythmic march pulling me deeper and deeper back into its nightmare.

I would not escape this time, it seemed.
By some manner of luck, I did, and was shocked awake right when I felt its shadow begin to fall over my body, but I soon realized that my waking body was in a far worse state. My first reintroduction to it was a severe fever and pain all over, a pain that made me feel like I was going to explode from internal pressure.
“Ow…” I groaned out as I suddenly began to violently cough, each cough putting myself into worse and worse agony as its shockwaves traveled throughout my body, seemingly forcing my already bursting skin to stretch even more when it couldn’t and causing me to lean closer to the edge of my bed. Something was terribly, terribly wrong, and I lifted my arm up to my eyes in case there were other symptoms. And indeed there were — to my horror, I examined how much it had swelled. What the…?

I could barely endure the pain coursing through me, and my leaning from earlier caused me to drop onto the floor, eliciting cries of agony. Bad idea, bad idea! I thought, lying there for a few moments and continuing to groan in pain, the only other noise the leaves rustling outside, What’s going on? Why does it hurt so much? It felt like I was being crushed by my own body, but I didn’t know how or why.
“Ben!” Kiyu cried, knocking at my door, “A-are you okay?”
“Don’t come in!” I yelled, throwing myself towards the door, “Ow!”
“I’ll—I’ll get the mistress,” I could feel her turn away from the door.

“Don’t!” I growled out in between groans of agony. As much as I wanted her and Kiyu to open that door and come in to help me, tell me that everything would be okay, something deep within me was demanding for me not to, telling me that this was not any normal disease.
“Get… get a medic!” I told her, “Some… thing’s…” I lied there, sighing softly in pain as my vision began to turn black, and soon enough I fell silent. “Ben! Ben! Please!” she yelled from the other side of the door, banging against it to get my attention, “D-don’t stop! Ben…”
There was the frantic pitter-patter of feet approaching her, and then I fell unconscious to her panicked cries and yells, alongside the soft swirling noise of a portal opening beside me.

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Just your average edgy weeb writing about accidental exaggerated fantasy-tech version of America who has embraced the absurdity! わっはっはっは
Fantasy-tech & right-before-steam-machines tech nation populated by Demons from Heroes of Might & Magic V that got too much chaos. Now they can form a high functioning civilization!
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Allanea
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 23379
Founded: Antiquity
Capitalist Paradise

Postby Allanea » Sun Dec 09, 2018 3:57 pm

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Official Message from the Crown of Greater Prussia on the Issue of the Golden Flower Syndrome


It has long been the philosophy to which this Crown subscribes that sapient civilization is but a chain of lights in the darkness, islands of soft light and love and hope in the great Night of the Cosmos. There in these islands of light, our children play safe, we can sit down for a chess match with a family member or a game of tennis game with a friend. But it is only because the light continues glowing that we may forget that there are horrors in the Outer Darkness, gnashing, chomping, waiting.

In a civilized society – with its weather control equipment, and faster-than-light space travel, and robots which prepare your food ¬– it is easy to think of these horrors only as a parable of only evildoers – perhaps only foreign evildoers, people whose culture, or whose motives, are so alien from your own as to entice them to do you harm.

But it is not so. Sometimes the horrors are not literal evils. Sometimes, they are metaphorical ones – a treacherous set of river rapids, a house fire, a stampede at a religious event, a crack in the reactor shielding. Sometimes they are animals – a dire wolf, a bear, an otyugh. And sometimes – rarely, these days – diseases.

The medicine of our galactic travel age has pushed back our enemies retroviral and bacterial. An Allanean or Reichskamphenite can go for a walk in a big city, and, generally, fear nothing. Broad-spectrum adaptive vaccination, medical nanites, and, when these fail, the work of our finest thaumaturges have rendered us safe.

Mostly safe.

For there are still chronic disorders, nanoplagues – some engineered, others semi-natural – and other such horrors that plague the universe. Some cultures ignore the risks, some have ignored the memory of adversities.

But Greater Prussia remembers.

And Allaneans remember.

We remember that once upon a time we had to retreat before the darkness.

We remember the Quickbronze consuming entire continents.

We do not need to be reminded.

New have reached this Crown now that a disease called the Golden Flower Syndrome is now affecting several worlds within the Colonial Republic of New Dornalia. News have reached this Crown that entire worlds are now being quarantined. We do not need to have it explained to us what this means – and what this might yet mean.

For this reason, We, by the Grace of the Gods and the Will of the People the King and Queen of Allanea, offer the Free Kingdom’s assistance to the Colonial Republic of New Dornalia. We have made the orders to make several hospital ships ready to deploy at the locations where the New Dornalian President will see fit to request their presence. We are also formulating measures for the security of Allanea itself.

Further, in our capacity as the Emperor and Empress of Greater Prussia, we have requested that Marechal Ferinion confer with us posthaste to discuss the appropriate measures to be taken by the Imperial Navy to ensure the security of New Dornalia and of all other member states.

Signed:

By the Grace of the Gods and the Will of the People, We, Cassiopeia Blaken-Kazansky, Empress of Greater Prussia and the Thousand States, Queen of Allanea, Reichskamphen, Leipzig-Island, Tsarina of All Russia, Moscow, Vladimir, Novgorod; Kazan, Astrakhan, Siberia, Chersonese Taurida, Lord of Pskov and Grand Princess of Smolensk, Princess of Karelia, Tver, Yugorsky land, Perm, Vyatka, and others; Lady and Grand Princess of Nizhny Nogorod, Ryazan, Polotsk, Rostov, Yaroslavl, Belozersk, Udorsky land, Obdorsk, Kondia, and all of the northern countries Lady; hereditary Sovereign and ruler of the Circassian and Mountainous Princes and of others; Lady of Turkestan; Archduchess of Free Dragkon, Duchess of Leyfield, Blaken-Island, Schleswig-Holstein, Stormarn, Dithmarschen, and Oldenburg, Countess of Centreville, Protector of Snoghosia, recipient of the Collar of the Order of the Chrysanthemum, Professor of Necromancy, et cetera.

By the Grace of the Gods and the Will of the People, We, Alexander Blaken-Kazansky, Emperor of Greater Prussia and the Thousand States, King of Allanea, Reichskamphen, Leipzig-Island, Tsar of All Russia, Moscow, Vladimir, Novgorod; Kazan, Astrakhan, Siberia, Chersonese Taurianl Lord of Pskov and Grand Prince of Smolensk,; Prince, Karelia, Tver, Yugorsky land, Perm, Vyatka, and others; Lord and Grand Prince of Nizhny Nogorod, Ryazan, Polotsk, Rostov, Yaroslavl, Belozersk, Udorsky land, Obdorsk, Kondia, , and all of the northern countries Master; ; hereditary Sovereign and ruler of the Circassian and Mountainous Princes and of others; Lord of Turkestan; Archduke of Free Dragkon, Duke of Leyfield, Blaken-Island, Schleswig-Holstein, Stormarn, Dithmarschen, and Oldenburg, Count of Centreville, Protector of Snogohsia, Liberator of Torontonias, President of the Capitalist Internationale, Friend of the Elves, and Headmaster of the Leyfield School for Girls.
Last edited by Allanea on Sun Dec 09, 2018 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Sometimes, there really is money on the sidewalk.

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The Ctan
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Founded: Antiquity
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Ctan » Thu Dec 27, 2018 6:06 pm

The Durmat Freeport

“Why are we being turned away?” Japias asked, his double-breasted ship-tunic adorned with the small touches of practicality that showed the suit beneath it, from sleeves with links for gloves to a weave that provided support for moving in the skintight bodyglove beneath.

It was the first element of what would later be called the Karax Crisis that would be recorded in the Great Civilization’s history books, and the orthodox telling of that particular tale would begin here. The waystation was a small one, set on a planet that could best be called a scratch-colony, not their home, but a place to stop over to at least see something beyond the four faces aboard the industrial conveyer.

“The port control is in lockdown, we’re getting a message about an unknown pathogen. The settlement council has declared a lockdown. Thirty-three people infected, seventeen dead,” Aliea Aulon, the ship’s flight officer said. “Sharp incubation period, seems like only a few days,” she said.

“Let’s talk to them,” their engineering officer, Gul Khan said.

“Hailing them now,” Aliea agreed, “no response,” she said, a few moments later, “I’ll leave the hail open,” she said, “but it seems that we have some time to go,” she added.

“Strange,” Japias said, “thirty three people down, the population is what, two hundred?” he asked.

“Let’s send a scouter down.” Gul Khan’s flight engineer terminal controlled a myriad of bots and drones, relay probes and nanoclouds.

“Not a bad idea,” Aliea agreed.

“Launching scouter,” he said, reaching out to one of the terminals, a small object was displaced, and a holographic screen of its image, showing the settlement from ground level. Smoke rose from remass silos and embankments around landing platforms had been strewn with debris from a ship that had tried to land. “Looks like there was some sort of riot. We are getting life signs. No one visible though.”

“Don’t recall the scouter,” Aliea said, “no chance we’re landing here, but perhaps,” she mused aloud, “perhaps we will see something interesting. We should report this.”

“If there is an infection,” Gul Khan said, “it could have gone anywhere by now.”

“And must have come from somewhere.”

Tulamar

The Great Civilization’s defences were formidable but it had its weaknesses, and one of the most important of these was its border policy; under ordinary circumstances beyond meeting the requirements of traffic control and system spaceguard – the authority that prevented civilian craft from becoming weapons of mass destruction – one could simply enter and leave without any permission from the government, this was to prove a weakness on this occasion as it had on others.

Historiography would record Durmat as the first contact between the Necrontyr civilization and the Karax contagion. Epidemiological histories would chart the first point of entry of Karax as another planet.

Tulamar.

Tulamar was a world that would never again attain the lustre it had before Karax. It was a jewel of a world, though a fringe world, it was a resort and a garden. Millions visited it every year, particularly in the dawning season, when its diverse native flora and fauna stirred as the planet began to orbit toward its primary star, defrosting from the long slow winters.

Planets were big of course, and not all of the world was resorts, but it was a garden world, with a presapient species, known as the Tulamari, prominent on second continent; they had yet to develop boats capable of spreading to other continents, and that left much of the rest of the world open for contact.

Tulamar’s murshids, the group who took it upon themselves to ensure that the cultural development of the native people was protected from undue harm while seeking to ensure their growing intellect would be nourished rather than floundering at the last hurdle, left nothing.

This young species would be tested as never before.

But the outer continents with their array of spas and gardens built to watch the flowers bloom as they came back to life would be all the more devastated, for while the murshids protected the Tulamari from direct contact with offworlders – even themselves – the visitors had no such protections.

Korvia Talius Minoris, Six Weeks Later

The Master Control programme had received an unexpected order. Wake from sleep, prepare for mass arrivals, reconfigure all alcoves for biological species. The first task of course it had done without any consideration, and as it examined the authority imprints of the message code that had flowed down into it from higher dimensions, The instruction was validated in short order and the machine intelligence, one with great abilities but without personal self, processed its instructions.

The first part of its task was to alter its routines from the gentle idling of its maintenance cycles, to impart drives and objectives into its countless legions of machines, giving them their orders. The equipment in the vast complex had idled for decades, centuries and while it had been subject to regular test and tuning cycles, using it cold without full system tests was a recipe for disaster.

The control suite increased its power draw from the caged hyperspatial fissues that drew its primary power from the immensely distant megastructure called the Dragon’s Eye, increasing the load of its main systems by a factor of one, then two, running first its housekeeping load, flashing lights on across its countless miles of structure and turning atmosphere processing systems from their own idle modes to begin churning the inert air mixture out from the inside of the tomb and to begin pumping breathing mixes in, a rotation of atmosphere that would take a few hours to complete unless the system chose to radically expedite it using its displacer units.

The constructs that formed its primary workforce were largely inert in its storage layers, snuggled in their hives like Borthin Collectors waiting for the first thaws of spring. The biomimicry of their design was not unlike the terran spider, though much greater in size than any that had ever walked that world. Their eyes were crystal and they began to glow with pale green light, an indicator of inner activity. One by one they began to move, linking up to network with their comrades and the worldmind itself, enhancing it was their own processors linked with it.

This went smoothly, for the whole structure’s main systems had been tested not thirteen cycles ago, and there were no failures or glitches.

As the worldmind drew its secondary systems up to power there was a more complex process as it began to equilibrate and calibrate the function it had been called upon for.

Millions of years ago, the people who had built this complex had done so as a shelter. Some stories said that they had done so to shelter from the ruinous war with a usurping race, others, to shelter from a psychic abomination, others still to shelter from a biological meltdown that was consuming the galaxy. No one story held the entire truth of the matter but all had an element of truth, and it was that last that had been called on today.

The biological meltdown of Karax had been heard of, already tens of billions of people had died. So far the masters of this place, who called themselves the Great Civilization, with all the hubris of an acutely narcissist peacock, had not been heavily affected, their own quarantine systems were total and the first encounters with the disease had triggered memories of other encounters with similar scourges.

And so they had directed this world, chosen as part of their contingency plans from the old tomb worlds for its high capacity, emptiness, having had its militant supplies removed centuries away to respond to the Karax crisis. Tier after tier split up by hexagonal architraves every few meters built of living metal held rank after rank of booths, like archaic telephone booths set into the walls in the foyer of some steam-era hotel.

Within each booth time would be altered. Already the master programme was testing the spines of generators and umbilical systems that linked them together to generate the localized para-relativistic fields that would slow time like treacle, causing every second within the booths to first become ten, then a hundred, then a thousand and more until they reached a factor of more than a hundred million to one, every second within the booths corresponding to several years of sidereal time.

The technology was not dissimilar from a faster than light drive, albeit it did not create motion but instead it created time distortion without the corresponding mass increase in spacetime, an engineering problem that was only lesser than the creation of a faster than light drive because it did not cross the asymptotic boundary of the universal speed limit.

Even making the optical effects anything but psychedelic was a wonder of science.

All of this had been done with a single command, and the system would continue to prepare itself until the heat death of the universe passed and the great restructure that came with it, unless otherwise commanded.

Earth Prime, Sol System

Karith Lisata ita Thurasid watched as the carving tools worked on the pumice like stone before him as he examined their work, the image wasn’t quite printing, despite the work of the machine, for it was influenced directly by his hands, but it could not be called sculpting in a traditional sense either. The piece was a study, and in the morning light of old Sol the statue gleamed half formed. Defined by lines of flowing fabric he felt looked convincing but could not help but feel needed work, the image was of a man with his hand upraised holding a staff. It had no face yet, much of its upper parts were still held in the armature clamp, despite its size he had chosen to work from the middle to the upper part, for he was but a student, and had not the confidence to cut the most important parts first as he felt that surely he would.

The Cendron Academy of Arts produced not perhaps the most distinguished artists in the Great Civilization, but it preserved the Seroi traditions of its people, and was a tremendous resource. Karith waved for the machine to stop, shimmering beams of jade shut down and left the stippled surface bare, he reached out to touch it, cool as stone but with the texture of fabric, the robes felt strange.

“Messer Lisata?”

The voice was one that raised a query and he looked to the doorway, which was arched classically and looked out on the aisle between the studios. “Can I help you?” he asked, pulling himself straight within his coverall.

“Yes, I believe you may,” the woman said, “My name is Nasirin of the Relorii. I’m here to ask you to take the post of Nemesor for the Karax Expedition.”

“Straight to the point,” he said, “I see you’ve read my old psych profile,” she didn’t deny it. “it’s out of date, it’s been thirty five years since I was involved in crisis response, I don’t know why you’d think I am suitable.”

“Because, Messer Lisata,” she brushed blonde hair out of her way, stepping into the plumes of light that fell from the skylights that made up the wide-curving ceiling, “we need someone with standing. Someone with name recognition.”

HE turned to her fully, and sat on a low bench near the auto-sculpture area. “And you think because I was incident manager of the Pilon Incident I should help with this one?”

“That would be ideal,” Nasirin said, unequivocally.

“And that I am no better than any of a hundred other epidemiologists for the role matters not?”

“It matters in terms of treatment. In terms of public trust and international recognition, experience matters. You and your team were some of the few with real experience of something like Karax.”

“Nothing like Golden Flower, I keep up with the news, and the journals,” he said. “The thing on Mars was nothing like the scale of outbreak this has been.”

“It wasn’t a standard zombie bioplague though, extremely invasive, directed centrally and more.”

“And so barely understood by the public at large that most people know it best from ‘Magnus Hesche and the Higgs Horror’ a trivid where our titular friend shrank down into a magical subplanck realm and punched the infection to death.”

Nasirin remained silent for a moment, and he wondered if she wanted to tempt him into speaking, he didn’t, studying her for a moment.

“If it troubles you still, I have been empowered by the Legislation and Management Committee to make it an formal request.”

An official request from such a body carried the stultifying force of social expectation, to deny something within one’s power, under the Rite of Liasa, was a deep and abiding shame. “You are playing dirty, Nasirin,” he said, “I think I like you. If it really has to be me,” he looked at the statue, “I suppose this will keep. Let’s go out into the garden, I’m sure you have a briefing.”

The Centaurus Arm

The Solarinth Blade was a cruise ship, originally created by the Solarinth Company, a travel enterprise which had existed for perhaps four hundred years in its current form. The Blade was a lean vessel whose own maiden voyages had been within the last two solar cycles, part of the new generation of C’tani vessels its hull was a softly gleaming bronze with garden domes that formed a ridge down her back, seventeen kilometres from her birfurcated bows to her flared stern with its bulky reaction engines, the vessel was swept and lean, designed to be easy on the eye from outside, and more than that she was designed for high realspace speeds.

That made her ideal for the needs of the Karax Expedition.

Which of course meant that her passengers, several thousand paying passengers and half as many residents, plus twice that number in personal servants and retainers were required to disembark.

Naturally, refunds were required. As Nemesor, one of the first actions that Karith Lisata had taken was to requisition twelve cruise ships of upper percentile sublight drive capacity, with a total evacuation load capacity of five million.

Experience, despite his protests, had its benefits, and he knew there would be some to whom the idea of medical stasis was terrifying, or the subject of superstition and fear. People preferred to have a sense of being in control of themselves, and that was in their nature; being imprisoned in a time-slowed coffin was a scary experience, even if it was efficient. Being posted to a cruise ship while it accelerated to within a fraction of its own light cone, that was an adventure many could handle better.

Other ships would do, but fast liners like this were by far the most beneficial and certainly the best advertising. At least so long as no one used the words ‘plague ship’ in describing them to the infected.

Some had even volunteered to stay on board, ordinary passengers who were confident that when the ship engaged its gravitic and reaction drives at their upper limits the time delay that would affect them would make the few days in relativistic time, while decades could pass in sidereal time. They would serve to accompany the infected along with thousands of nurse drones and security measures, even though they would themselves be killed in the event no cure was found; their infection data for the first phase of exposure would add new information on early stage exposure from a number of species.

That people would infect themselves with the latest virus was a sign of the depth of ennui that the Great Civilization’s people could discover in the depths of a privation-free state.

Expedition Ship Meherroq

The concept of an expedition ship was a single vessel from which a major incident response could be coordinated. The universe being what it was, these ships were inevitably armed. The smallest examples of the breed tended to be part of the new generations of inertialess-capable ships, the oldest and most ubiquitous of the type currently in service was the the Inheritance class, rendered in the original Quenya as Nostaranna, for these nimble ships of the type were products of the Macili Companies who sprawled between the Menelmacari domain and the Great Civilization with free-wheeling impunity, and produced in both nations to templates that had been refined by transcomputational equation and ‘brane-simulation, these were used by exploration groups and could carry parties of dozens.

The Meherroq was a ship of a larger class, known as the Orëaran type, literally translating to Rising Sun, a sliver of silver without the high-performance reaction drives augmenting its gravitics such as ships such as the Solarinth Blade boasted, instead its sleek design was intended to allow its crew to travel across the galaxy.

The Nemesor’s honour guard was drawn from the Keʃæn, pronounced as the Kei-Shan, militant auxiliaries from one of the several vassal peoples of the Great Civilization, slender figures who carried long phase-glaives of a pattern designed for lighter frames, known perhaps erroneously as warscythes in galactic standard languages, their body armour emphasising their diaphanous wings, while containing flight enhancement packs.

Even now the C’tani waged a vicious war against their oppressors, and this assignment was one that, though it took them from the war to liberate those of their people still enslaved in a far more vicious dependency than their loyalty to the Great Civilization; the Keʃæn with the Nemesor were the product of retraining and equipment, while the machine-soldiers of the Great Civilization took the burden of fighting much of their own conflict, a war marked by the deployment of machine scourges that had replicated over their enemies worlds and the extirpation of settler populations to the asteroid colonies of the Ring of Penitence.

Nemesor was not a military title, though it was used for the commanders of the military, instead it meant something more general, the mission coordinator, the appointed arbiter of any large scale public enterprise, from raising of a colony world to a military campaign, the Great Civilization drew on many traditions, and as Karith Lisata’s guards stepped to either side of the doorway close to the displacement chamber, the ship’s commander gave a slight bow.

“Commander,” she said.

“Captain Kennedy,” he said. She was not a soldier either, though she wore body armour. Instead she was a representative of the biodiversity survey society, experienced in planetary surveys, infections and more.

“How may the Meherroq serve?” she asked.

“I would like you to take on a special task,” he said, “and I want you to speak to your crew. We have heard things about Karax that suggest it is extremely virulent,” he said, “but not how virulent it truly is.”

“And you want to do more than treat it?” Captain Silva Kennedy said.

“Ultimately, we need agreement, but I want to find out where this thing came from. I have a suspicion; the speed it mutates, the number of transgenic infections, it cannot be natural, but it is not a concoction of the Primordial Annihilator either,” he said, “instead it is something else. A designer weapon, so rumour has it, some blame a culture in the Delta quadrant I have not heard of though my AI analysts tell me that there is contrary indicators there. I have asked our analysts to find you a target. But first,” he said.

“A crew,” she said, “a picked crew.”

“Yes,” the Nemesor said. “A volunteer crew, too, I want nothing on my conscience. The risks are great. I have asked for a harvest-ship to accompany you,” he said, “but I think your skills might be invaluable.”

They knew what it meant, the shipmind would probably solve matters with minimal referral to their crew, but there were times that one could step in and make a difference. Artificial intellects ran much of the Great Civilization, but there were things and ways of thinking that were valuable; there were things in the universe that defied the hyper-rational analysis that underpinned the thinking of trans-sapient leviathans.

“And of course,” he said, “we may end up working with others,” Karith said, and there there were times when sending a mixed group of different species worked out best, certainly there were those who shrieked in panic at thinking machines, even thinking machines that offered them tea or equivalent beverages.

Reality was merciful enough not to be too boring, despite Civilization’s best efforts.
Last edited by The Ctan on Thu Dec 27, 2018 6:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"The Necrons were amongst the first beings to come into existance, and have sworn that they will rule over the living." - Still surprisingly accurate!
"Be you anywhere from Progress Level 5 or 6 and barely space-competent, all the way up to the current record of PL-20 for beings like the C’Tan..." Lord General Superior Rai’a Sirisi, Xenohumanity
"Many races and faiths have considered themselves to be a threat to the Necrons, but their worlds and their cultures are now little more than interesting archaeology."

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Allanea
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Capitalist Paradise

Postby Allanea » Thu Jan 03, 2019 4:23 am

[originally posted in wrong location]

Leyfield Palace, Sovereign Duchy of Leyfield

She raised her eyelids – aching, heavy – and looked around at the men and women seated at the heavy malachite desk. Seated at her left was Priscilla Stossel-Conde, the Minister of War, dressed in a black uniform suit, her brown hair done up in a bun. Next to her was a grey-haired male in a dark-grey suit – Maverick Monningham, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. At the Queen's right was Gazmar Gro-Batog, Minister for Colonial Affairs. His curved, sharp tusks and sharp ears were a reminder of his Orc origin, but his outfit – hair dyed blonde, a business suit that must have cost as much as a half-decent gravcar seemed to belie the brutal reputation of his ancestry. Next to the Orc sat an even more unusual creature – a Myconid, seemingly part-man, part-mushroom, looking for the world as if he was wearing an enormous wide-brimmed hat. A pair of spectacles, a kindly smile, and a pipe which he continued to smoke throughout the meeting finished off the look, and with his tone that seemed to imply everyone in the office was somehow his grandchild made Professor Mossbard the perfect man for his role – a Ministry of Finance consultant.

"You see," spoke Mossbard, - she wondered how she managed to miss part of his speech – "we shouldn't be looking at it as an act of charity. We should be looking at it as an opportunity for Allanea to gain from an influx of immigrants. A decline in prices and wages in the short term will lead to economic growth in the intermediate and long term, and of course it will allow the Free Kingdom to achieve a larger budget surplus in the next fiscal year. But that said, there are no doubt difficulties that the more… violently-minded here can address."

Priscilla ignored the veiled insult, and began to speak. "The Karax itself is a strategic security threat to our allies. We've already called on assistance from the Greater Prussian Navy to patrol the shipping lanes," – a hologram appeared over the desk, demonstrating a simplified map of the Milky Way Galaxy. "We are deploying a Greater Prussian Fleet under Archduke von Annsbach that will aid the New Dornalians here, here, and here." – small lights lit within the transparent galactic model, and it was awe-inspiring to think that they stood for hundreds of warships. "The goal is to divert any refugee vessels to security zones."

She paused. "Which is where we come in. We will be working on creating primary and secondary quarantine zones. Primary quarantine zones will be in orbit, and will be in the form of adopting the refugee ships themselves, or possibly stations. If the quarantine is broken or overrun, emergency procedures will be activated. Secondary quarantine zones will be on some of the worlds we had reserved for future colonization, for those refugees where the risk of contagion is low. Maverick?"

The Minister of Foreign Affairs nodded. "We will be of course working with the New Dornalians to monitor the situation there, in the event it gets worse, which in my unprofessional opinion, it might. Further, we will be working to establish screening procedures for the refugees so as to allow them to receive residency status. Ideally they should be able to apply for paperwork in the later stages of the quarantine so as to be able to settle in Allanea once the doors open."

The Queen looked at Gro-Batog quizzically. Dear Gods my eyes hurt why can't this meeting be over. "Are your people ready?"

"We are going to prepare the papers and proceedings for colonization in some of the colony worlds in the Milky Way. Once they clear quarantine, we will offer the usual Homestead Act lots – one hundred and sixty acres away from cities, forty acres near the spaceports."

Cassiopeia opened her eyes wide, raising a mug of coffee to her lips. "Very well, now I'd like your people to talk to each other and produce a joint policy paper. I feel this meeting can adjourn now… Pris, I'd like you to stay, there's a range of other stuff we need to deal with." If I don't pass out from exhaustion, that is.
#HyperEarthBestEarth

Sometimes, there really is money on the sidewalk.

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Allanea
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Founded: Antiquity
Capitalist Paradise

Postby Allanea » Thu Jan 03, 2019 4:56 am

Angerspine Point

"Well, it is clear at least why they call this place Angerspine Point," – one of the refugees said. Several tall, dark boulders, spike-like, protruded from the top of the hill, as if they were the spines of a large, and rather unsociable, animal. The cold wind whistled between the spikes and pulled at the edges of the long, fur-line coat he was given, a light-blue thing that some kind soul in a place called New Thermopilae had donated to the Ministry of Colonial Affairs. Next to him, his wife sneered.

"Fucking Allaneans. I bet you they won't send their own kids to live here. But hey, beggars can't be choosers."

They had just gotten out of the dropship and were trying to orient themselves in this new world – literally, for them, a new world, some remote planet where the Ministry of Colonial Affairs had dropped them off. It was getting dark already, and of course they were trudging through fresh snow, which was deep enough that their boots were getting swallowed up entirely. The crunching sound which the snow made underfoot would soon get annoying, and especially given that his wife had to carry a baby in her arms, and he was carrying all the rest of their belongings – in a large bag that hung behind his back and made him look like a snail.

"Hey!" – a man shouted. He was younger than either refugee, and thinner. He dragged a large bag behind him in the snow, leaving a long trail behind him. – "At least you're not getting given an arcology flat, now that would suck a –" he added several words here, none of which were in Common.

"What's an arcology flat?" – the refugee's wife demanded.

"It's what happens when you can't afford a real house!" – the man said – "That's what you live in when your mother and father spawn out six kids. Me, my brothers and sisters, all in bunk beds in two rooms. Got out as soon as I could."

"How old are you?" – the woman inquired.

"Huh? I'm nineteen. Started working when I was still in high school. Then did odd jobs – still lots of places where they insist on a real person, you know? Anyway. I bought a lot and a house here. Angerspine Point, Eighteen Knights Street, 16."

"What?" – the refugee's wife said – "We're at Eighteen Knights Street, 30. I thought they give those houses to refugees only."

"They didn't give me a house, I bought it. But I'm guessing when you're a refugee, they give you something." – the man shrugged. "I suppose that at least pays off."

"Pays off? – the refugee asked, confused – "Also, I don't think we asked your name. I'm Kenwin Menhenick, and that's my wife, Joan."

"I'm Edward Firsov, but you can call me Edik." – the younger man explained. "Come, let us see if we can get someone to drive us to the new homes."

"Wait, wait, what do you mean, pay off?"

"The usual. You're going to live here, yes? Job, taxes, that whole thing? That's worth a lot more than a house in the colonies, in the long run – unless you plan to die next year, I suppose."

Kenwin Menhenick had no plans of dying next year.


* * *

Image


"Aaaand that is our house?" – Joan blinked. "Seriously, actually our house?"

"Is there a problem?" – Edik asked.

"Well, I mean… do we have the address wrong?

"Let me recheck…" – said Kenwin, reaching for the note he still held in his pocket.

"What for? – Edik Fursov replied – "look, all the houses on this street, hell, on this subdivision, they're all the same."

"But why?" – Joan stared. – "This looks a bit too expensive…"

"Look at me. Do I look rich to you? - Edik asked, as he propped a boot theatrically on his snow-soaked bag.

"Well, no, but…"

"Look, it's a pre-made home. They bought them in bulk from New Dornalia before the Ministry was even a Ministry. They're cheap. What makes a house expensive isn't the house, unless your second name is 'Hammond' or 'Blaken-Kazansky'. Houses cost lots because they're next to something important. Which, I will tell you, Angerspine Point isn't important. Which, mind you, is the same reason I am here."

"And because it's literally light-years away from your brothers and sisters." – Joan noted.
#HyperEarthBestEarth

Sometimes, there really is money on the sidewalk.


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