NATION

PASSWORD

The Galaxy is Dark [FT, Maintenance, Invite only]

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Vipra
Diplomat
 
Posts: 773
Founded: Jan 04, 2007
Compulsory Consumerist State

The Galaxy is Dark [FT, Maintenance, Invite only]

Postby Vipra » Fri Dec 21, 2018 2:26 pm

This is a maintenance and event thread for various abominations, horrors, and gribblies. Everything here is IC. Others may join in to showcase their own space-terrors or encounter already highlighted monstrosities, first send a TG requesting admission and an outline of your idea and it will be considered.


Outskirts of Torshir, Grevon
Dorvon System, Spinward Brithiske


Apostle Kyrthos was ferried from the bowels of the deceres lander upon a dozen tendrils of ferrosteel and quivering tendons, the multitude of warped bodies and metal plates that made up the ramp groaning under the razor-talons. Light both natural and artificial bloomed across his body as the whipping and snapping tentacles pulled the grandeur of his mutilated form out from under the shade of the towering wargalley. Where the light of the distant yellow primary was obfuscated by cloud of ash and fallout the bloom of detonations distant and near shone across the seven lenses and four wet globes that were sutured into the lump that was his face. Robes once white but long since rotted to red and black from the constant soak of blood hung from his seven shoulders, arms of moulded flesh and metal rising into the air as they dripped blood and oil from gaping wounds and shivering hoses. His face turned to the horizon, where the star of this system tried to hide behind the crumbling towers of the heathens and the flames of their salvation.

“I claim this world for Prophet Vormnenos, Grand Shepherd of the Scutum-Crux Crusade,” his manifold voices thundered out from the pipes and cables mangling his jaw and echoed through voxes impaled into battle thralls, quaking through the whole of the world, “Before the end of this cycle Grevon shall be brought into the Weld. You shall all be saved!”

The gargantuan landing craft responded to his declaration, cannons unleashing guided barrages while ports opened and unleashed squirming masses of the twisted from rusted hatches and bleeding sphincters. They slithered, crawled, leapt, and ran as soon as they hit the ground. Thralls made from discarded craniums and cables skittered like crabs, the charged coils that they moved with waiting to sink into flesh. Sturdier faithless formed from the remnant torsos of unwilling converts wriggled away as serpents as the rubber and nerves that coated their legless bodies gave them new locomotion while simple bombs in their chest cavities gave them purpose. More complex creations were the fusions of exoskeletal frames and less than compliant potential converts, ballistic and energy weapons bolted into their forearms and riveted to their shoulders while rudimentary cameras and other mechanical senses replaced harvested organs. They screamed into the world by the tens of thousands, futilely thrashing against their bonds as their bodies toiled under the command of a higher power they refused to acknowledge and forced to bear witness to the good works they would commit.

After them followed the true faithful, the fused who strode proudly down the ramps of the deceres in lock step. They were Kyrthos’ flock, his faithful converts who had given their flesh over to him so that they could be cut open and made whole with the Weld. Their legs and arms were implanted with ferrosteel augments, extra joints popping and hissing as the masks that had replaced their faces whirled with cameras and extended eyes upon sensory wires hovered around their metal-coated scalps. Rifles were held in cold grips, connecting through the cables and wires in their arms to the power supply implanted in their chest cavities beneath hardened plating pulled from the armour of dead soldiers. They sang hymns as they marched, two-toed feet clanging as their synthetic voices screeched over their stripped vocal chords as they gave praise to the glory of the Weld.

Vehicles mighty and frail followed between companies, looted and repurposed battle tanks and armoured carriers mounting battle flags made from the stretched skin of heathens grinding out upon treads repaired with tiles of hardened bone. Walkers, spindly legged with the stretched tendons of dozens giving them an extra spring in their step, were mounted by fused dragoons who clung to mounted machineguns and mortars as the thrall-brain transplanted into the jittery machine moved to their command. Even from the top of the mighty landing craft came the screeches of the airborne as gunships and fighters shot away to join the fight, the twisted thralls who were used as spare parts upon the wings and hulls wailing as their skin was freshly flenzed by the force. Tens of thousands of drones floated into the air after them, limbs, heads, and torsos implanted with will and basic engines along with harvested eyes that peered unblinking from between cages of meat and steel following along to surveil for the force.

But the ones who Kyrthos graced with his attentions were the emanated. Underneath their shells their bodies were immaculate and pale, all excess tissue clipped and removed so that far more functional mechanisms could take their place as hoses and membranes, metal plates and insulated wires, servos and pumps enhanced every portion of their bodies and provided an integrated exoskeleton. This supported a second set of arms made of machinery and functional gristle which hovered over their original pair, a tail made from two salvaged spines and strong cable terminated in a powered blade, and the heavy armour that enclosed them from the outside world and pulsed with secondary organs and the nervous systems of a dozen harvested thralls. They were immaculate and powerful beside their lessers; robes dipped in consecrated blood and oil, heavy corpse-rifles and neuro-missile launchers produced by artisans in the forges of the Cult Manufactories, and the six eyes of the Prophet Vormnenos marked upon their closed helms.

Others poured forth from the wargalley. The twisted warhulks that waddled out were the amalgams of dozens to hundreds of faithless together with salvaged loaders and industrial machinery to form heavy infantry with basic shields, massive claws, and chemical launchers implanted into them. Howling and bloodthirsty fused gangers were commingled with their hoverbikes, their legs removed entirely and replaced with a set of cybernetic arms ending in scythes, saws, and blades while they gripped submachineguns and shotguns with frantic energy, flailing them in the air as they ululated the glory of the Weld and sped off. Yet his only care was for the emanated as they strode past him, bowing their helmeted heads and uttering prayers as they did so. He touched them, granting the blessing of the Weld as they made their way to the battlefields, translucent membranes of skin coating their armour, their robes, and even their weapons responding by shimmering and shifting, the warriors of the Weld flickering away like chameleons and leaving behind only their footprints as they departed on their sacred duty.

Even as he gave the last their blessings, the machinery and organs of the landing craft beckoned Kyrthos. Incoming missiles were shredded by automated defenses, the brains sown into them reacting as they had been instructed to, while a volley of energy weapons sparked against the shields and cast blue and yellow light across the expanding base of operations. Missionaries marched out undeterred, their robes billowing and staves held high as they ushered out the siege engines of the crusade. The cannons crawled out upon the legs of harvested titans, scales stretched over chemically enhanced muscle and hydraulics as two dozen stretched skinless arms grasped at valves and levers. The many eyes and cameras of the siege hulks followed the missionaries as they dragged themselves to the staging ground, the mass of their scavenged bodies digging a rivet into the dirt as they did so, and once they the missionaries stopped the obedient thralls they dug their legs into the earth. Whimpers and pathetic wails erupted from the siege machines as their cannons extended, barrels dripping lubricating expulsions as the automated arms and well-chosen eyes of the weapon did their work in conjunction with the swarms of drones. Only when the commanding missionary consecrated the ammunition did they fire, screaming as they did so.

Eyes bulged and blood erupted as the coils sprang to life and tore the magnetic round from the gut of the siege engine, sending the blessed round screeching into city in a blaze of sound and fire until it collided with a distant tower. The gargantuan shell didn’t explode, instead embedding within the sturdy structure and leaking out an intoxicating black cloud that swept out across the skyline to blot out the light, the heat, and even radio waves and most other such forms of detection. Hundreds of other bombs began falling on the city, the bilious smoke growing until all but the peaks of the tallest buildings were mired in darkness. Even his own ship began to geyser the smog, spiracles surrounding the ports and ramps gushing out inky black. As he became soaked in the lightlessness, Kyrthos uttered a prayer to the Weld, thankful for the blessings he had received that day, and instructed the landing craft to crawl towards the city.

He could not see it, but through the Weld he could feel the limbs extending from the gut of the war galley and digging into the soil as his flagship pushed itself from the earth and strode towards the city. Pulling himself along, Kyrthos joined the march, exulting the Weld with shouts for joy as he felt heathens being given the opportunity to join the Weld. Through his faith he could feel as the twisted, fused, and emanated began converting the apostates with righteous fusions of metal into their hideously untouched flesh. Soon the whole of the world, twenty four billion souls, would be Welded.



Cilistia Novaren says: Look, I cant read while eating, your posts usually end in my having a strange feeling of dread, nausea, or slight arousal, or all at the same time.

Vipra says: In the Grim-Darkness of my spare time, there is only War... And cat-people boning...
Foxfire Rose says: I am Xiscapia and I approve this message.

Kostemetsia says: The atoran: a walking interplay of sex and violence.

Valinon says: Rule of cool does not equal a defense against wanton stupidity

User avatar
Vipra
Diplomat
 
Posts: 773
Founded: Jan 04, 2007
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Vipra » Fri Dec 21, 2018 11:27 pm

Downtown Torshir, Grevon
Dorvon System, Spinward Brithiske


Drue had been told that joining the PDF would be a cushy job, that all there was to it was looking good in the armour and parading whenever the governor wanted to impress the neighbours. Now here he was, pawing through the blood and guts of his fellow soldiers in the unnatural dark as he scrambled on all fours for something, anything he could use as a weapon. Whatever had killed his sergeant was still nearby.

Although he couldn’t see anything he could still feel and hear, although the latter was drowned out by the roar of artillery firing and arriving in cacophonic bursts amidst the screams and shouts of panicked soldiers. What he could feel was sticky, and he was glad to be wearing gloves as something he was leaning on in his crawl squelched and slipped out from under his palm. Of course he couldn’t help but feel the hard plate of a standard issue chestguard as his fumbles grasped onto it, his thumb passing underneath where there should have been abdominal protection and, for that matter, an abdomen. He desperately tried not to think about it, and the screech of something flying overhead helped put his mind to other things as he pawed and padded towards a shoulder, and then an arm, and then a stump.

He cursed, tears of shock running down his cheek in hot streams as he doubled back and reached blindly for the other side. He found the upper arm on his first fumbling grab and he began sliding his gloves down to where he hoped a weapon would still be caught in-hand. Before he could reach the elbow, it moved.

“Who is there?” the words were from the voice of a small girl, but the arm was that of a man “Who are you?” he let go, scrambling away as whoever, whatever, was talking moved closer and a moment later felt the air in front of him whip against him in a wave as something violently slashed at the air, “Help me!” these were not so serene, a phlegmy death rattle that screeched out frantically over and over, “Help me! Help me! HELP ME!” the voice, a recording played back again and again shrieked at him, drawing closer.

Kicking hard, Drue launched from hands and knees to his feet and ran for three paces before launching forward as his legs twisted and contorted underneath him as he crashed down a slope. His body protested, but the frantic screeching was coming closer. Pushing with his arms, he put one foot against the ground and howled as his twisted ankle nearly buckled underneath him. Yet he didn’t stop, he couldn’t, almost able to feel the creature as its howls reverberated through his armour. Stumbling forward, he consciously fought the urge to run again, plodding and whimpering as other instincts instead took over and warmth ran down his trousers.

He kept on for what felt like minutes, maybe hours, his every breath torturous as the pleading screams never failed to follow close behind him. Shouts came from nearby, another soldier bellowing something he couldn’t piece together through the tumult of rockets and gunfire. Unable to stop himself any longer, he ran through the artificial darkness and shouted, waving his arms pointlessly in the cloying black, “I’m over here! Help me!”

“HELP ME!” the recorded voice squealed, electronic edges tinting the words as it mocked him, “HELP ME!”

It was right behind him, the voices of the other soldier muffled as his panic turned them hazy and distant. He sprinted despite the agony in his ankles, stumbling against fallen concrete and scrambling back to his feet as he howled and pressed forward towards the voices of the other soldiers with tears and spittle running down his face.

His knees banged against something hard and he fumbled against it, grabbing onto hip-high ledge and pulling himself over the barrier. He tumbled through what felt like bushes and loose soil and rolled down onto a brick floor with his hip, protective layers allowing him to worry more about the screeches and gunfire than more pain as he crawled towards in what he hoped was the direction of a door. Stairs gave him hope, and he gripped onto the edges and leveraged himself up until he fell onto a flat surface and again sprung to his feet with vigour that did nothing to stop the agony that shot up through his legs. The shouts of the soldiers had stopped, but the electric recording wail was still piercing in his ears as he ran again, his lungs aching as he called out again.

“I’m here! Hel-” he was cut off, hands clasping him under the chin and around the helmet, yanking him off his feet and holding his jaw closed. He struggled grabbing at the arms and kicking against the ground, trying to roll and elbowing against whatever was behind him.

A voice rasped against his ear, as close as it could get while he was wearing a helmet, “Shut the fuck up,” it was human, the voice was from a human, “you’ll get us both killed. Can’t you hear it you idiot?”

“HELP ME!” the keening wail peeled out from only a few meters away, and Drue let himself get pulled back.

The hand never left his jaw even after he stopped struggling and stayed tense, silent. He held his breath as yet more shrieks of passing aircraft shook the air around him and dulled his hearing to the point that even the banshee that had chased him was almost a whisper. A renewed barrage of missiles and artillery refused to let up either, his ears ringing and body shaking as the reverberations of explosions carried from near and far.

At last the hands on him let go and he felt something collide with his chestplate, making him pat around as he grabbed at what he quickly realized was a combat rifle. He would have cried for the joy of it had he any energy left, his hands shaking and face dripping with sweat and snot as a feeling of security washed over him. Even knowing the creature was so close by in the all-enveloping blackness, he felt like he could do something. At the bare minimum he could keep one round for himself rather than fall into the hooks of those monsters.

He was so caught up in the feeling and the new noises that he almost failed to noticed that the girlish cries for help had stopped. It was silent, and he had hope enough to believe it had moved on to some other sounds. Not that he could hold onto that belief for long as a new voice called out from only a few feet away.

“I’m over here!” It was Drue, his own words, his own panic. But he hadn’t opened his mouth.

“I told you to shut the fuck up!” came the low snarl, and he wanted to respond that it wasn’t him, that it was the thing in the dark, but his own words failed him and he made himself small, gun suddenly like a child’s ineffectual toy as he scrunched into a ball.

“I’m over here!” it refrained.

“Shut,” the other soldier who’d help him hissed, “up!”

He was too loud even under the near-deafening boom of explosives, and the hidden creature let out a horrid squeal like a struck pig being scraped violently against a chalkboard as it struggled with hoof and tusk. The man shouted and Drue felt movement overtop of him as whatever it was passed over him. The ear-piercing sound of gunfire so close by rattled him as a rifle was fired on full auto, a desperate attempt, and there was another angry squeal followed by more shouts, and through the ringing in his ears he could make out thumps, the frenzied gnashing of teeth, and then the wet shink of metal sliding against bone over and over.

He couldn’t take it anymore, letting go of his gun and stuffing his hands under his helmet so he could press sticky fingers against his ears and clench his eyes shut.

When he opened them again, the darkness had dissipated. Light pierced through grey smog, swirling clouds of black still cloying in corners and streaming through the air in an inky haze. In front of him was an open door leading out to the street, an abandoned truck draped with four bodies in the back only a scant few meters from the ruined flower garden. A long black and red trail led up the outside stairs and through the door, towards and then over him. He turned slowly, careful not to make any noises, pulling his hands down from his ears and wincing at the renewed assault upon his hearing as he cautiously reached for the rifle that lay beside him. Out of the corner of his eye he could see a smear of red behind him. Tightening his grip on his gun, he spun and rolled over as he sucked in a sharp breath. Yet there was no monster there, only the results of one.

The man who’d rescued him was little more than a smattering of lumps and torn fabric. His rifle was discarded and armour torn open with clean and prices lines that ran down the neck to the groin and up the limbs, the only substantial parts remaining a hand and an arm. Drue vomited, adding his own mess to the mix as he coughed and sputtered.

From behind him something shifted, and a familiar voice spoke in a low growl, “I told you to shut the fuck up!”
Last edited by Vipra on Sat Dec 22, 2018 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Cilistia Novaren says: Look, I cant read while eating, your posts usually end in my having a strange feeling of dread, nausea, or slight arousal, or all at the same time.

Vipra says: In the Grim-Darkness of my spare time, there is only War... And cat-people boning...
Foxfire Rose says: I am Xiscapia and I approve this message.

Kostemetsia says: The atoran: a walking interplay of sex and violence.

Valinon says: Rule of cool does not equal a defense against wanton stupidity

User avatar
Vipra
Diplomat
 
Posts: 773
Founded: Jan 04, 2007
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Vipra » Sat Dec 22, 2018 12:04 pm

Downtown Torshir, Grevon
Dorvon System, Spinward Brithiske


“Can’t you hear them?” the patient clung to doctor Gerhard’s arm as nurses tried to pry him free, the poor soul wailing as his nails dug against white fabric, “I can feel their voices, they echo inside me!” his eyes were manic, flicking to the window, the floor, the doctor’s face and then staring at nothing as his fingers were pulled loose from their frantic grip and he was pinned against the bed.

Other patients rankled and gnashed with equal frenzy, lashed to their bed frames with cable ties, leather belts, or even knotted bed sheets when all else was used up. Gerhard had long since lost his own belt, and now he bent to yank free his shoelaces while the nurses struggled to hold the man down. How had it come to this, he wondered as he yanked free one lace and then the other. There was no more time to spare after he’d made his shoes practically useless, tossing one length of heavy fabric string to a pale and bloodied blonde nurse while he wrapped his own around a flailing wrist and then wrenched it against the bedrail. He cinched the knot tight, too tight he knew, he could see the blood flow failing only seconds after, but he had no choice as the man wrenched his shoulders and tried to fling himself free. A nurse wrapped bedsheets around his ankles and then around the bed, knotting it off so that his struggles were largely in vain, only working to make him bleed against his bindings.

Gerhard hurried away as his watch blared at him about another emergency, not giving the man a second glance through his foggy spectacles. Far too many of the hospital’s patients were suffering from psychosis or sudden onset dementia for him to spare any time for one person. The worst part was he had no idea why this was happening. First the PDF had announced an attack, and then the mental breaks began. Even one of his nurses had succumbed to it, as had two of his peers.

At least he could see out the windows now, although he may have preferred for the darkness to remain clinging to the building. What he saw beyond the hardened glass as he strode to his next disaster put into perspective the suffering around him. Fires licked up from ruined buildings and gunships battled in the air while a new gargantuan structure, a grotesque cathedral from the look of it, appeared to have crawled halfway to the city center given the wake of demolition and detritus behind it. Pushing it from his mind, he focussed on what he could do here, now.

Sirens were blaring, nurses and aid-drones rushing through the halls along with anyone able bodied enough to help, and he had to shoulder past them on the way to the operation room.

The doors were already open when he got there, protocol ignored by everyone including himself as he heard the wretched cries from within. Rushing in, grabbing surgical gloves from the counter as he did so, he snapped them on as nurses did their best to hold down the crying and thrashing man and another doctor did his best to operate. The source of his suffering was clear, a long incision running from his hip all the way to the artificial leg starting at his knee, blood running from where retractors spread skin and muscle for the surgeon to cut and scrape with his instruments.

Gerhard wasn’t sure what to do, looking at the struggling men and women, “What the hell is happening here?”

“Anesthesia didn’t work, doctor,” a nurse grunted with the effort of keeping the patient’s leg held down, “He went under, but he woke up part way!”

“I can bloody well see that!” he was gruffer than he intended, but he wasn’t about to apologize, “Why in the hells were you cutting him open in the first place?!”

The other doctor piped in, almost serene despite the circumstances as he spoke through his red-spattered mask, “His artificial leg has invaded his abdominal cavity through the posterior compartment of the thigh.”

“He has a prosthetic from the knee down, not the hip,” Gerhard stated bluntly, wondering if the surgeon had gone completely mad.

“I know that, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is currently extending up the anterior track of his spinal cord, and if we don’t pull it out now it will reach his brain in a few minutes. We need to go into his abdomen as well though, it has wound around the sacrum and you will have to disentangle it.”

“What?”

The surgeon didn’t pause, grabbing a silvery thread with a pair of pliers and pulling it so that he could see it. It was a cable or wire, like what would be seen inside an electrical box, and it as well as several others reached up from the prosthetic leg, wiping and flailing like worms as they continued to grow and extend from the inert limb. His disbelief held for only a moment, the nurses staring at him, and then duty overrode; he could ask questions later.

Grabbing his tools and instructing the nurses as best he could, be began his own incision from the bottom of the sternum down the stomach with a straight line despite the flails of the patient. Retractors were inserted, the cut stretched so he could reach in past the muscle layer and move organs with his hands until, with far too much ease, he could see the cable coiling up and around the bone. It was still growing somehow, extending. The artificial leg wasn’t even advanced, it was a basic implant without any wiring beyond the surface level, and yet a thin rope of metal coiled up inside this man as he fought and screamed.

“Forceps,” a nurse passed the tool to him immediately, another grabbing hold of muscle and organ so he could grab the wire, “scalpel,” the wire writhed and struggled, trying to escape his grip as his waiting hand was given the tool, a powerful laser scalpel. Bringing it down, the moment the heat touched the cable it spasmed, snapping back and forth like a snake that had been thrown into a bed of coals, but it cut all the same and the moment it has been separated into two parts he saw the bottom half slip away as the other surgeon tugged. Pulling with a smooth effort, he still had to use far more force than he would have liked to retrieve the invasive cable as nearly two feet of metal came out, steadily slowing and going inert. A nurse held a jar out and he laid it in like an overcooked spaghetti, lid closed enthusiastically by the wide eyed and panting assistant.

“Good,” the surgeon wiped his forehead as he passed off the forceps and the length of cable it held to a nurse, “Now we just need to remove the leg.”

Gerhard nodded, letting the nurses start sowing the man’s gut back together while he moved down the split-open leg and the mess of penetrating wires that were still wriggling into the patient’s tissues. His own cuts combined with that of the other surgeon managed to expose all the way down to the bone, veins and arteries clamped as they worked quickly and silently apart from the hiss and beep of machinery or the distant roar of engines and detonations. Soon the dock for the augment was almost entirely detached, apart from the invading wires and its anchor against the tibia, just below the knee. Screws were undone and the man sobbed and shook, but there was nothing else they could do. Relief came as they finally finished detaching the implant and pulled, a dozen angrily whipping wires streaming out as they removed the prosthetic entirely.

It should have been impossible, Gerhard knew it should be. No prosthetic he knew of had any such wires or cables, let alone any capacity to seemingly grow them from itheir dock. Yet here the artificial leg in his arms was still twitching, trying to kick as the wires snapped and continued to grow. When one managed to lash out and cut him, he thought better of his close inspection and with the other doctor managed to throw it into a large tub.

Sutures, antibiotics, more blood transfusions, and all that fare would follow, but he wasn’t needed here anymore. The man had fallen under again, removing the leg like flipping a switch, and Gerhard was able to pull his gloves off and step away. Other patients needed him more now.



Cilistia Novaren says: Look, I cant read while eating, your posts usually end in my having a strange feeling of dread, nausea, or slight arousal, or all at the same time.

Vipra says: In the Grim-Darkness of my spare time, there is only War... And cat-people boning...
Foxfire Rose says: I am Xiscapia and I approve this message.

Kostemetsia says: The atoran: a walking interplay of sex and violence.

Valinon says: Rule of cool does not equal a defense against wanton stupidity

User avatar
Vipra
Diplomat
 
Posts: 773
Founded: Jan 04, 2007
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Vipra » Sun Dec 23, 2018 1:07 pm

Downtown Torshir, Grevon
Dorvon System, Spinward Brithiske


The main street was strewn with debris and a thin layer of seeping black ooze that evaporated into wisps of smoke, craters from artillery breaking up the lanes while the detritus of collapsed building fronts piled onto the sidewalks. In the orange tinted sunset overhead plumes of indifferent grey rose and munitions streaked between dogfights, sparks zipping through the air as bursts of gunfire added to the chaos. Worse yet were the bodies, some fallen in the street and other hanging from windows, covered in the same inky substance and layers of dust or in a puddle of their own viscera.

What brought true dread was what was sprinting, slithering, and skittering down the street towards Jeorg.

The emergency-barricade he was pressed up against was pockmarked by shrapnel and stray rounds, the instant-set ferrocrete already worn down and only getting procedurally moreso as another fusillade of bullets ripped across the low wall. His armour wasn’t in much better a state after eight straight hours of fighting. The environment seals at his shoulder joints were close to breaking thanks to several near misses and the clear visor over the front of his face cracked in a spiderweb that spread out from where a piece of grenade was lodged into it with the sharp end dangerously close to his cheekbone. He thanked his lucky stars he wasn’t one of the reservists with their unpowered kit, open faced and practically naked without environmental control.

Several of them were wounded around him with one to each side and more further down as they cloyed to barriers just as he did, brave bastards the lot of them but woefully under equipped for what they were fighting. They bled and grit their teeth, checking their rifles and counting ammo as suppressive fire kept the entire platoon pinned down. One man cried, and he could hardly blame him given what they all knew was coming. The sergeants down the line had had enough though, the call for firing positions following as grenades were launched over the edge into the breach. Sucking in a sharp breath, Jeorg lifted himself up with his knees until he could prop his rifle against the scored edge of the barrier and peer over.

Patchworks of men and machinery were running at them at full tilt. The muscles in their legs tore and bled as pumps hissed, deformed tertiary limbs made from hacked together bodyparts and industrial components scything the air with grasping talons from where they erupted from their chests while their somewhat more natural arms were wired to combat rifles they fired haphazardly. Hundreds of them were rushing, thousands, he couldn’t even see the end of their bubbling and keening masses before the rubble down the road blocked his view. As the grenade landed among them they made no effort to dodge or preserve themselves, flowing onwards while explosions ripped through their lines and sent shrapnel cutting their meat and shockwaves warping their metal struts. Yet however many fell, so many more took their place.

Jeorg didn’t let himself think about that as he pulled on the trigger of his rifle in short bursts, sending hails of bullets into the oncoming mass as everyone along the line poured out their own fire under the duress of just as many thuds against their rapidly thinning barriers. They seemed to have at least something of an effect as hoses were cut, heads split open, and torso ruptured. Corpses mounded, and if he hadn’t already been fighting for hours already he could have believed they were making progress. Yet by this point he knew better.

Counterfire rained down on them from a nearby rooftop overlooking the main street. Cyborg amalgams clad in robes laying prone and firing with practiced discipline picked off a dozen PDF soldiers before anyone could start ducking behind cover again. One was slower than the rest and Jeorg got to watch as a light armoured man beside him was almost cut in half as a round tore into his left side and out the right. Blood, organ chunks, and bone fragments sprayed across him from the exit wound as the bullet carried on to impale into the ground.

The barricades were heavy duty enough to keep those who had ducked behind them safe from the barrage, although chips and dust continued to fly into the air as the snipers whittled through their defenses. It would’ve only been a matter of time until they were exposed and immediately perforated and Jeorg made his peace with his god as best he could. Tapping his shoulders, forehead, and stomach in a quick show of faith that far exceeded his usual piety, he tried to feel some small measure of peace. No such sensation came to him as the counterfire was replaced by the rattling squeals and gurgling hisses of the mutilated horde rang out in unison.

“You shall all be saved!” the chorus sang in wet disharmony, a familiar refrain since the accursed lander had struck dirt.

Some tried to poke their guns over the edges of their barriers, firing blind, but it didn’t stop what was coming as scything graspers and bloody hands grabbed their barricades and the monstrosities flung themselves over. Right above Jeorg a jawless, shrieking creature of crudely stapled together tissues and mechanisms was hefting itself with three arms as the fourth levelled its snub rifle towards him. The closed-circuit camera lodged into its head stared down at him impassively, and Jeorg found his instincts failing him as he saw one of the invaders within arm’s reach.

His remaining companion behind the barrier wasn’t so dumbstruck, shouting as he pulled back on his trigger and poured out automatic fire into the chest of the composite monster. It replied in kind but it’s aim was hampered by the two dozen bullets piercing into it. A spray of stray fire pockmarked the ground around them and did little else as the thrall slumped over the barrier as it leaked blood and oil. The soldier kept his finger on the trigger, gun clicking as he panted, while Jeorg scrambled back, away from the carcass. His saviour was starting to do the same, the shock of what he had done passing as the urge to survive reasserted itself, but as he turned to fall back something snapped through the air. It was a blur, almost too fast to miss as the white and silver of the supposedly dead abomination’s spine wrenched from the cadaver and whipped against the PDF soldier’s neck.

The man’s final gasp was still on his lips as his head flopped down against his chest on the ragged sheet of skin that stopped it from tumbling away entirely. The next moment the dismembered head and spinal column of the thrall was lurching through the air. The bladed spine slid down exposed throat and dragged the camera-filled head along with it until it lodged against the split-open neck with a sloppy smack. The almost decapitated soldier’s body had been tumbling, but righted itself as the hijacker fell to hands and knees, then began rising up, almost severed head bouncing just below the baleful mechanical eye of the thrall.

Jeorg turned and ran, grabbing a grenade from his waist and popping the pin before hucking it blindly behind him. Gunfire spattered against the ground around him, his motion drawing the attention of maddened thralls and coherent fused alike, armour thudding and pinging with ricochets. As his grenade exploded behind him the blastwave and even the ball-bearings themselves pushed him forward, urging him to escape towards the second defensive line. Yet he couldn’t help but spare a glance over his shoulder as he ran.

It was anarchy. Behind him the grenade has shredded the legs of the hijacked soldier, yet the malicious parasite remained attached and crawled after him. Three intact thralls were pulling a man apart as he writhed and screamed. Another, this one in the heavier proper armour of the standing army was falling back on his heels, firing in short bursts until a spurt of three bullets struck him on the knee, shoulder, and neck, all at the weakest part of the joints. The soldier crumpled like a doll with its strings cut. What was more were the three men on their knees, hands on top of their heads as they shivered and grit their teeth, eyes closed. The abominations moved past and around them, seemingly blind to their presence.

His focus snapped back around. The next defensive line was too far away, only the reflection of distant sniper rifles a sign there was one at all. He couldn’t make it with the robed invaders and the sprinting amalgams right behind him. Closing his eyes and holding his breath in tight as his chest and legs burned with effort, he made the only decision he felt he could.

He collapsed to his knees and placed his hands on his head.



Cilistia Novaren says: Look, I cant read while eating, your posts usually end in my having a strange feeling of dread, nausea, or slight arousal, or all at the same time.

Vipra says: In the Grim-Darkness of my spare time, there is only War... And cat-people boning...
Foxfire Rose says: I am Xiscapia and I approve this message.

Kostemetsia says: The atoran: a walking interplay of sex and violence.

Valinon says: Rule of cool does not equal a defense against wanton stupidity

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Vipra
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Posts: 773
Founded: Jan 04, 2007
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Vipra » Mon Dec 24, 2018 2:10 pm

Downtown Torshir, Grevon
Dorvon System, Spinward Brithiske


“Where the hell are the nurses?” Gerhard’s voice was hoarse, throat painful, “We need them here now!” he tossed open curtains in his search, revealing amputees and dozens of other patients in various states of disassembly. Almost all of them were comatose, some dead, but there just wasn’t time to sort between them. Hundreds of more operations were necessary, five ongoing that he could hear as men and women howled under the scalpel and saw.

It was all necessary though, their implants were invading their bodies and they had to stop them from reaching anything critical otherwise they’d end up like the ones in the basement. However he couldn’t operate without assistance, and for that he needed that lazy pair. Lazy or smart, he considered as he tossed open another curtain and then hurriedly closed it again to spare himself looking at the legless, armless woman that slowly floundered on the bed. The only reason he remained was that he had seen what was outside.

“Where in the bloody hell are Sindi and Klare?”

A drone was the only thing that responded to him in the morass of blood and misery, an altogether far too chipper voice ejaculating from the red-smeared machine, “Nurses Sindi and Klare were last seen depositing medical waste in supply closet seven, which goes against medical code twenty seven subsection C. They were advised to-”

He shouldered past the machine, making it careen out of the way, “Shut up.”

Gerhard was tired after working ceaselessly removing prosthetic limbs and synthetic organs one after the other. And it wasn’t like they could just leave them like that. Turned out they couldn’t use a dialysis machine or other external substitutes for organs, when they’d tried that the intravenous hoses had started invading the veins. So they had to take advantage of what they had a lot of, bodies. Thankfully it had proven far easier to cut open the dead and transplant into comatose patients than working on men and women that somehow refused to be affected by anesthesia. Much less squirming, spitting, and biting. That last part was why he needed that blasted pair of layabouts, he couldn’t very well pin his next patient down and saw his arm off at the same time without some help.

Things were busier now than before somehow, more average citizens pulled out from the waiting rooms and given the basic roles that overworked nurses and drones just couldn’t fulfill. He had to shoulder past a pair of men in tarnished business suits as they swept glass and was almost run into by another doctor in just as much of a hurry as him, among numerous other bumps and side-steps as he searched for the supply closet. It took him far longer than he would have liked at that, not used to the layout on this floor and not keenly aware of where the custodial staff kept their kit, and when he arrived he found the door mucked with watered down blood and reeking of antibacterials. That wasn’t out of the ordinary for anywhere else in the building, so he thought nothing of it as he grabbed the slippery handle and began to push it open.

Normally methodically stacked rubber bins were overturned, their contents strewn out after they had tumbled while others had their lids pried open where they sat on the floor. What had caused such a ruckus was immediately apparent as dozens, no hundreds, of malformed metal snakes wriggled and slithered on the floor. Except they weren’t serpents despite the hiss that rose from metal and ceramic sliding against the tile floor. Their elongated bodies were clearly jointed in only a few places with heads made from hands and feet that had split down the middle and gaped upon new hinges while trailing tails of wires and cables slithered behind their awkward jostles and lurches.

Sindi and Klara were there as well.

Blood trickled out, washing past his shoes as he watched the malformed prosthetics encapsulating the pair writhe. Even as he stood there, dumbfounded, a dismembered artificial leg reared itself up by its split grasping foot and pushed the blunt end of its socket towards the exposed patch of Klara’s cheek. The dozens of two-foot long wires that extended from the flat base above what would have been the knee whipped and slashed the air as though angry in their search. When they found her cold skin they sank in with purpose, pushing the flesh up and splitting the skin from the pressure as they displaced muscle and probed further. Cables pushed out of her gaping mouth where they had gone too far, circling back down under her chin and piercing back into her again while other strings of metal visibly wriggled into her eyeball and made it jostle in the socket before poking out through her pupil and slowly wriggling in the search for more flesh to invade.

The eye with its slithering tendril turned to look at him and her mouth moved, but her voice was muffled by the cords almost filling her throat and pinning her tongue down. Only a weak ‘uhn, uhn, uhn’ managed to move beyond her lips and this seemed to excite the parasitic implants as the arms, legs, hands, and various other artificial body parts attached to her squirmed and dug deeper. She tried to lift a bulging arm, to reach towards him, but the weight of the aggressively attached limbs was too much. So they did the work for her.

The patchwork of spare bodyparts worked together, rearing up as cables tightened and dragged Klara along. The hands and feet that were deformed with the central split opened up, revealing more searching wires and spiralling screws for teeth as they snapped towards him like the hungry maws of a ravenous hydra. Sindi animated as well, or at least he had to assume it was her given all he could make out from between the invasive prosthetics was her blonde hair. She was hoisted upon dozens of hands and feet, the vague shape of her spread eagle as they worked in unison to rear up and start slashing at the air towards him while blood spattered against the floor with their every movement.

He slammed the door shut and not even a second later heard metal dragging over the plastic in a horrid rip. Around him the passersby stopped in their tracks, staring as he backpedalled until his back was against the wall. Breathing sharp and fast, he clutched at his chest as he tried to process what he’d seen as whatever that was in the closet scratched and wailed against the door.

Then the noise stopped and the handle began to twist.


Lunging forward, Gerhard grabbed the handle and struggled to stop it from spinning as the force on the other side forced him to leverage all his weight. It wasn’t enough, even lodging his elbow against the frame not providing enough traction. It turned slower, but not enough.

“Why are you all standing there? There are some of those things on the other side!”

The reaction he got was not quite what he had hoped for, men and women fleeing rather than risk their skin, only two of the recruited civilians snapping into the fray with him. They grabbed and held along with him, their hands clawing against each other in a tug of war against the frankensteinian amalgamations on the other side. Their hands were slippery though, sweat slickening them as they struggled and strained, and they had to put in all their effort just to halt the twisting of the handle.

Two doctors and one of the drones rushed around the corner, a blur in the edge of Gerhard’s vision, startled at the sight, “What in the-”

“Get something to seal the door!” he was frantic, shouting over them, “Now!”

The kicked off in a hurry and he prayed they could find something, anything; he didn’t know how long he could hold on for and the scratching had started again.



Cilistia Novaren says: Look, I cant read while eating, your posts usually end in my having a strange feeling of dread, nausea, or slight arousal, or all at the same time.

Vipra says: In the Grim-Darkness of my spare time, there is only War... And cat-people boning...
Foxfire Rose says: I am Xiscapia and I approve this message.

Kostemetsia says: The atoran: a walking interplay of sex and violence.

Valinon says: Rule of cool does not equal a defense against wanton stupidity

User avatar
Vipra
Diplomat
 
Posts: 773
Founded: Jan 04, 2007
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Vipra » Tue Dec 25, 2018 11:24 am

Downtown Torshir, Grevon
Dorvon System, Spinward Brithiske


Ninety nine worlds and hundreds of billions of souls. Dozens of those planets had been cosmopolitan like this one, others savage feudatory primitives, some the forges of empires. They had all bowed, some in sequence and others concurrently, but in the end they had all surrendered to the righteous path. Where there had been wilderness and oceans were now the extraction fields and flesh-cultures. Putrid cities of indulgence and wretched disconnect had been dug out and replaced with manufactory cathedrals that spanned from coast to coast. Of his pride and joy were those planets that the lordly Prophet Vormnenos had graced with his own presence and carved into with his own nine hands, their cores replaced with the beating heart of the Weld as they had been transformed into siege worlds to project further the crusade.

That was what Kyrthos had brought into the Weld since he had joined the Scutum-Crux Crusade and this world would be his centennial, another offering to the glory of the Prophet and the mission of the Weld.

Under the thunder and boom of missiles and artillery he moved through the streets as the pauper priest ought to, tendrils stabbing into the road and carrying him along in a smooth hover as he reached out with his many arms and imparted into the feverish heathens the gift of the Weld. They were so afraid, the heathenous natives that had been gathered around his deceres, as all those oblivious to the righteous things in life were when they were forced to acknowledge a transcendent truth. A mother wept and held her child to her breast, begging him not to hurt her boy. What could be more harmful than leaving him awash in a sea of heathenry and idolatry? Another begged and pleaded for his own life. Such presumption that he wanted to take that from him! He sought to restore their lives, to give them a meaning beyond anything they could muster in the darkness of ignorance. They were disgusting creatures, fit only to serve as twisted until they had learned piety.

Only one was worthy of his attention in this flock, a soldier by the look of him, the armour of one of the natives caked in dry blood where he knelt and prayed. The words were a jibber of the local language, yet he could feel the sentiment and frenzy in them. This was someone he could appreciate out of the masses of the fearful and those seeking to bargain for their lives or for power.

“What is your name?” Kyrthos’ voice rattled and hissed as he stooped, purple and pink light splashing down against him as a bomb detonated against the shield that projected from the lander.

The soldier was too caught in the fervor of his prayers to answer at once, his hands clenched together tightly and eyes sealed shut as he finished his litany. Only when he opened his eyes and stared up into the multifaceted features of the Apostle did he flinch, face losing what little colour had remained, “I- I’m Jeorg.”

“To what false idol do you pray, Jeorg?”

The man flinched at the question, eyes casting down the line to where the faithless wretches writhed and spasmed as the neural implants that had been inserted through their nasal cavities spread throughout their brains and hastily brought them into the fold. Yet he only waivered a little as he looked again at Kyrthos and swallowed hard, “God Almighty.”

“Ah, a common one it would seem. Humans do trend towards their solitary God,” the malformed Apostle spoke pleasantly despite the phlegm and shiver in his words, “But why do you believe in him?”

The soldier again seemed almost repelled by the words, turning his face and looking at the urine and blood slathered ground beside him where legs and nothing else knelt after a so-called twisted had self-administered field repairs. He chewed his lip, winced, and then looked back with ephemeral glances, “He created humanity in his image as the custodians of the galaxy and strew us across the gulf of space in the so-called fractals so that we would be present in all places and at all times, what else but God could do that?”

“When our savior Prophet Synkol is finally disrobed of the bonds of the fourth dimension he will ensure the proper ordering of the universe that it shall all be Welded together, as is coming to pass. For you see, Prophet Synkol has already duplicated worlds in his own right through his transcendance above the simple planes of our material reality, and every day that passes his understanding of the Weld grows,” the Apostle rested a metal hand draped in ragged robes upon an armoured shoulder, “He possess the powers of your Almighty, or soon shall and thus shall always have. Thus could he not be your God? Then what is your God but another component in the Weld?”

Kyrthos saw fear spread across the man’s face, sweat beading, his temperature rising and pheromones haywire as panic began to settle in, but just underneath that was something else. Consideration.

“I- I don’t know.”

“I can help you,” he squeezed gently, armour creaking under his grip as he slithered a tendril around behind his little debate partner, “I can show you the truth, the face of your God. Just, don’t struggle.”

Before the man, Jeorg, could muster a reaction the tentacle speared between layered armour plating and through the joint membrane at the back of his neck. His eyes bulged and mouth hung open as the manipulator grasped his spine at the base of his skull. Small needles and injectors coerced a pill-sized implant into the soldier’s central nervous system before retreating with a lazy yank. Thereafter he sat on his knees unmoving, the hand upon his shoulder steadying him as his eyes widened and face contorted.

Kyrthos didn’t need to say anything more, he could feel his convert, the agony as the filaments spread throughout his brain and spinal column. It was a delightful reminder of his own conversion at the hands of Vormnenos, all those years ago. Releasing his grip, he let the convert fall back and froth at the mouth with limbs spasming. Wordless commands sent two twisted to grabbing him, mother and small son working together as they grabbed the sputtering and clenching man and dragged him towards the gangway of the deceres. Their own faces were etched into silent screams, eyes shivering in their sockets as they witnessed the glory of the Weld in their mind's’ eye.

He didn’t need to watch them go for he would feel when his convert had been baptized, and so he carried on down the line in the practice of old rituals and habits he refused to abandon. It was thankful that only a tiny portion of his conscious and unconscious were necessary for this custom of his, the greater portion of his conglomerate brains and processors coordinating with the commanders upon the ground and far above in orbit. Thus he could carry on without impropriety, and even though there were few who showed any real inclination to learn, no faith or piety beyond the one young man, he spread the blessing to each and every heathen he touched.



Cilistia Novaren says: Look, I cant read while eating, your posts usually end in my having a strange feeling of dread, nausea, or slight arousal, or all at the same time.

Vipra says: In the Grim-Darkness of my spare time, there is only War... And cat-people boning...
Foxfire Rose says: I am Xiscapia and I approve this message.

Kostemetsia says: The atoran: a walking interplay of sex and violence.

Valinon says: Rule of cool does not equal a defense against wanton stupidity

User avatar
Vipra
Diplomat
 
Posts: 773
Founded: Jan 04, 2007
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Vipra » Wed Dec 26, 2018 12:20 pm

Torshir Underfortress, Grevon
Dorvon System, Spinward Brithiske


The command staff was utterly useless as far as Marshal Stayvans was concerned. The PDF generals had been blubbering about losses and failure since the first enemy boots, or tendrils, or whatever the hell they used to move had been set upon the soil of Grevon. Even his own subordinates had been less than useful, proposing strategies to counterattack and regain ground like they had the initiative here. They’d been caught with their pants around their ankles and they were acting like they weren’t on the receiving end of the hard fucking. So here they were, standing around a circular table with a holographic projection of Greater Torshir Region blooming up from it in light blue, figuratively holding their cocks while aides and people who were actually doing things bustled around them.

A young officer, far too young to know what the hell he was talking about, was already spouting off his own plan, “We should mount an assault with the First Mechanized supported by the Third Rifles to take back Harreton Mall, from there we can launch an attack on the flank of the main force coming down Deehlough Highway and divert their attention from the city center even just a little and thereafter push forward the front lines.”

“No, not in the slightest!” the surprisingly shrill voice of the PDF general broke in, the overweight commander sweating so hard that his white grey uniform was almost soaked, “We cannot afford any more losses, we’ve already lost the second the fifth divisions and we are stretched thin as it is, if we make an attempt to push we’ll lose the last of what little reserve we have!”

“And if we don’t push we’re fish in a bucket!” the younger man snapped back, balling his hand into a fist and shaking it at his technical superior. After that a subordinate the of the fat commander joined the shouting, then a professional officer countered, and it began getting out of hand again.

“Shut up!” Stayvans barked out at the command staff, thick brown eyebrows knitting as he glowered at the lot and reminded them of boot all over again, and once he had their attention pointed to the array of red dots that represented infantry, or their equivalent, pouring down the highways, roads, and side streets towards the center of the city, “Colonel Avens, look at the map. Tell me what you see.”

The young officer’s eye twitched, impertinence returning, but he caught himself before he could say or do anything foolish and looked over the display, “There is a massive enemy force surrounding us and pushing from every direction at the same time. It’s a bad situation, one where we can’t sit on our asses and wait.”

“Open your goddamn eyes you little shitstain!” Stayvans clipped the officer behind the head with the palm of his hand, knocking the beret off of him as he vented at least some of his pent up frustration, “Look closely! What’s not there?”

That removed any hint of a glower or resentment from the man as he stiffened, scanning the display. It took a second, but then Stayvens saw it happen. His eyes widened, “What the fuck.”

“That’s goddamn right,” the Marshal slapped Avens on the shoulder and pointed at the swarm of red dots along the main street that was the bulk of the attacking force while the rest of the command staff watched, “They just keep sending a stream of those mutilated fucks, where are the land vehicles and the big bastards? I saw the surveillance from before the blackout bombs, they unloaded a goddamn full field army with all the bells and whistles. So where in the hells are they?”

Nothing about this made any sense, they were on the back foot, the enemy should have been pile-driving them with everything they had, and yet there was nothing aside from the freaks and flying maniacs, “Optics, thermal, radar, and even gravitics are picking up a big fat nothing. It’s like they evaporated after the blackout bombs, even their mass signatures disappearing. The best we’ve got a lock on are their artillery platforms around their landing craft where it’s crawled into the city, the rest of it, poof,” he swished a hand up in the air for emphasis, “and we’ve been so focussed on what’s been throwing itself into our faces to even think about it, let alone send scouts.”

“We sent out thousands of drones, tens of thousands,” the PDF commander balked, jowls rustling, “and you want us to send out soldiers so they can get shot. Or worse!”

“I didn’t say anything like that you little desk-fucker,” Stayvans words managed to make another bead of sweat roll down the commander’s second chin, “We’ve been sending them on aerial recon, which isn’t proper scouting. We’re just getting the eagle-eye view over and over. They need to go into buildings, the sewers, every single nook and cranny in the entire city. So somebody get on that. That’s an order. Now, people!” the aides and staff that were overhearing every word jolted into action, opening comm links and spreading the command.

It only took a few seconds for the map to change, dramatically. For one, as their drones dropped down they were taken out of the sky far faster than he would have expected. The tiny little specks that denoted drones that ranged in size from baskets to golf-balls were disapparating by a tenth with each passing second the moment they cleared below the city skyline. That meant there was definitely something they didn’t want seen.

All at once the map bloomed with pyramids, blocks, and other polyhedron markers as contacts sprang up across the city, from right behind the enemy assault in garage parks to the guts of apartments and under piles of carcasses. They were everywhere, arranged to attack from every single angle, easily fifty thousand signatures. It was impossible. Particularly given the drones hadn’t even managed to enter a single building yet.

They knew what was happening. They knew and counteracted.

Panic threatened to engulf the command center, Stayvans wasn’t going to have that, “How many do we have visual contact with? Show me ones that we can actually see, optics only.”

The filter removed easily nine-tenths of the markers.

“Motherfuckers are using ghost signatures, gravitic and otherwise. God damnit,” he gripped the edge of the table, knuckles going white, “Show a sample of video from drones that have visual.”

Twenty feeds appeared overtop the map, a reasonable amount, and they showed vehicles in various states of rest. One that caught his attention in particular was huddled in a stacked car park with three half-traks and an abomination of dozens of fused bodies with what looked like an anti-air cannon attached to one side while a rope of metal spinal cords dangled from the other. They were just waiting there, the hulk shifting and its tendrils slithering against the ground while the vehicles were far less active. Something didn’t seem right.

“Get the drone on feed thirteen to fly at the big bastard as fast as it can’t. Don’t stop even if it means hitting it.”

It was Avens’ turn to be an idiot, “Isn’t that a waste when he can keep a watch on them in secret?”

“Just watch,” he didn’t even look at his subordinate as the drone shot towards the amalgamated hulk, then passed right through it. Nobody said anything as the drone flipped back around and watched the hologram shift it’s routine to glare at it and howl, the sound carrying through. A moment later something collided with the drone from the side and the feed flickered away.

“What in the hell?” Avens said what everyone else was thinking, or rather mostly everyone.

“They’re spoofing everything. God damn everything, across the board. They dropped the blackout bombs, probably activated whatever they’re using to hide the mass signatures at the same time too, so they could slip everything in and they’ve clearly set up decoys across the entire field. I’m willing to bet if it had been an actual fat bastard that they would have let the drone collide with it so we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Tricky bastards.”

“What are we meant to do?” the PDF commander was finally asking good questions and being a somewhat productive member of the command staff, “How can we counteract this?”

Colonel Avens straightened up, “We can’t afford to bombard every position with signatures, even if we had the platforms to do it quickly we would be pulling too much away from the continued bombardment of their assault and we’d be faced with the real possibility of a full breakthrough. And they could still be hiding their forces and haven’t revealed them yet, expecting us to hit them and expend our resources. But...” he trailed off, in thought.

There wasn’t the time for that though, Stayvans slapping a hand against the desk and making the hologram shiver, “Out with it, soldier.”

“We don’t need to hit every single target, we just need to hit the locations where we couldn’t move anti-tank weapons into place if they started moving. Even places where there aren’t any markers. That would give us at least a little security and shore up the least defensible portions of the perimeter.”

“Do it,” Stayvans shouted at the coordinators surrounding them, and after only two seconds of calculation and the bare minimum of prep the cylinders representing medium-large missiles began appearing on the holodisplay. They careened from the mobile launchers towards the most sensitive locations. Almost immediately they began getting shot down, even the point defenses from the lander joining in given the labelled trajectories of impacts, but they had more than enough to punch through at this range. Seven sectors on the map were reduced from standing buildings to rubble. He felt a pinch of guilt, there may have been survivors there, but he had no way of knowing. Maybe it would have been better this way anyways, dying as humans rather than taken to whatever fate these invaders had in mind.

“What if they decide to attack all at once now because of that? We should have spent some time preparing our defenses just in case!” the PDF commander returned to his caterwauling.

Stayvans laughed for the first time that day, “They were going to attack no matter what the hell we did after we’d shown enough interest. The seconds were ticking by until they started ramrodding from who knows which directions anyways. We at least got something of a jump on them.”

The lights flickered, then the sirens started blaring.

“Intruder alert in Egress Three,” a sharp male voice called out, strained and forced as alarms began to blare, “I repeat, we have an intruder alert in Egress Th-” there was a sharp thud and the connection went to static.



Cilistia Novaren says: Look, I cant read while eating, your posts usually end in my having a strange feeling of dread, nausea, or slight arousal, or all at the same time.

Vipra says: In the Grim-Darkness of my spare time, there is only War... And cat-people boning...
Foxfire Rose says: I am Xiscapia and I approve this message.

Kostemetsia says: The atoran: a walking interplay of sex and violence.

Valinon says: Rule of cool does not equal a defense against wanton stupidity

User avatar
Vipra
Diplomat
 
Posts: 773
Founded: Jan 04, 2007
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Vipra » Thu Dec 27, 2018 12:28 pm

Torshir Underfortress, Grevon
Dorvon System, Spinward Brithiske


Marshal Stayvans blinked as the alarms squealed and coordinators moved with purpose bordering on panic. The attack was far too fast, they were already inside the headquarters and there hadn’t been any prior warning. They’d been on the way well before they’d discovered the ruse with their heavy support and armour and somehow they’d penetrated right through their frontlines without so much as a batted eyelash from his soldiers. He steadied his grip against the table as it switched over to a view of the facility without his having to give the order, the warren of hallways, elevators, and interconnected rooms arranged in something akin to an inverted pyramid. Egress Three was marked by twelve red dots. It was the emergency exit that lead right into the above-ground command center. How was it possible that they’d gotten that far during the blackout bombs? It wasn’t, there had to be more going on.

“Bring up the feed from Egress Three, right before the alert.”

Playback materialized in front of him, the view from one of the cameras in the nearly empty hallway watching the massive reinforced door and half dozen soldiers that loitered around with monotonous focus. The blastdoor lurched suddenly, resisting whatever was on the other side while the soldiers stopped their routine of boredom and stood there dumbfounded. That was until one shouted and the rest took cover, the shouting man clearly the one that had called them as he fell flat when, through the miniscule breach that had been forced, a dozen micro-missiles zipped through and tore into his head, throat, chest, and abdominal cavity. They didn’t explode on contact, waiting until their armour-piercing heads had taken them inside his guts to burst and almost obscure the view of the camera’s view with a piece of his intestinal lining. By the time the organ had sloughed off the video the rest of the guards were dead and the bulkhead open.

Eleven massive figures in robes walked through, easily half again as tall as a large man and clearly in bulky powered armour, the weapons in their gauntlets looking like they could have served as squad-crewed guns or have been mounted on an infantry fighting vehicle. Then the twelfth invader appeared from nothingness, the oversized rifle in his hand apparating first in a shockwave that radiated from the muzzle as rounds and flash blared from it to impact somewhere offscreen. The effect rippled, exposing hands, arms, shoulders and torso, head then legs in a wave. Either he had somehow teleported in, bypassing the conventional electronic countermeasures in place for just that sort of thing, or he had been outright invisible.

One was more plausible than the other, but how had they learned about the egress in the first place, and why go through all the effort of hitting that one?

Colonel Avens grabbed his arm, “We have to prepare for the attack, Marshal. They’ve already penetrated past the next layer of defenses!”

“Nothing I can do about that,” Stayvans shook his subordinates hand and concerns away, “We have protocols in the case of intruders, I have more pressing matters.”

“What in the bloody hells could be more pressing than a bunch of over-armoured maniacs slaughtering their way right to us?!” the PDF commander squealed.

Stayvans tapped the holographic display overtop the table in front of him, bringing up the command console, “Intelligence.”

“We can study them later if we’re not dead. We need to go while the other egresses are still viable!”

“Listen you little coward,” he changed the feed to current time and cameras further down the hall to where the infiltrators had advanced, “do something useful and get me a list of every person with the clearance to know the layout of this facility or to have even seen a map of it.” The invaders hadn’t moved beyond the initial soldiers they’d dropped and, in the case of two, splashed against the walls. He focussed on what they were doing, standing around a corner and firing what looked like micro-missile launchers. The rounds spun around the corner and at the appropriate timing friendly green blips on the holographic layout died. How were they coordinating firing around corners without drones? And what guidance systems were they using? There weren’t any signals to jam or the ECW teams would have been jamming them with what they had available in the facility.

“I’m not some fucking toadie! Get an aide to do it, I’m going to arrange our escape route,” the PDF commander shouted and was already turning away when Stayvans spun around and grabbed him by the collar, hauling him up off his feet and staring into his shocked face with wild, angry eyes.

“You are exactly what the fuck I say you are right now. If I don’t get that list we will all die. So if you want to save your sorry excuse for a life to sit behind a desk another day, go and get me that damn list right now.”

He dropped the portly man and he stumbled back, “I- I-”

“I said now! Men are dying because you are not following an order! Snap to!”

“Yes sir!” the corpulent officer blurted out before scurrying off to pester the coordinators using his rank, the whole reason Stayvans had chosen the otherwise useless lump for the job.

He returned to the feed, watching the hostiles closely. They were patient, waiting at that corner and remotely firing their micro-missiles around the corner to reduce the defenders. Four of them had their backs turned to the rest, facing the way they had entered and firing occasionally. One was stooped down, holding his massive rifle out in front of him and overtop the corpse of a soldier that was more of less intact apart from his lower torso and right arm. The weapon, clearly a stubby carbine when compared against the invader’s bulk, had what looked like ribs where a rail integration system would normally have been. They split open along the bottom, curling outwards as hoses and veins dropped down into the pile and began slithering into the carcass. The veins bulged fluids flowing in both directions while the thicker tendrils snapped away bones and flesh. Four he noticed in specific however, two biological lengths and another pair of inorganic cables. They travelled up the corpse’s nostrils, presumably to his brain. A moment later, the dead man’s eyes fluttered and his mouth creaked open.

Stayvans couldn’t hear him over the clatter of the gunfire and shouting that carried through the feed, but he could read lips fairly well. The revived man was giving passcodes for the doors. The Marshal didn’t look away from the feed as he shouted at the coordinators, watching as the invader dismembered the revivified corpse and strung the head to his rifle along with a hand he detached with a simple twist, “Scramble all the passwords and lock down all the doors, no doors open or close except through authorization directly from this room.”

There was a resounding “Sir, yes sir.”

On the camera feed a grenade entered the mix as one of his soldiers did his job, the bomb lobbed towards the infiltrators only for it to be shot out of the air by one of their micro-missiles before it was even halfway down the hall towards them. The invaders responded in kind, the one that had defiled his fallen soldier pulling a blubbery glob out from under his rifle and lobbing it against the far wall. It bounced like a rubber ball, pinging down the hallway and around the cover of barricade boxes to slap against the back of a soldier’s helmet. That was when it exploded in a caustic splash which immediately caught fire in a billowing explosion, gas that Stayvans knew was toxic seeping out further while the liquids that dripped from the screaming garrison sizzled against the floor.

He’d seen chlorine-trifluoride chemical bombs before, but not ones that had been made on-site.

Now the invaders advanced, checking the corner that they had been firing down from a distance before skirting past it. They covered each other as they went, but as they stopped by the corpses a portion of them crouched again. Their weapons split open again and fed upon the bodies, unpleasant in every way as they ripped the eyes out from skulls and sucked up what must have been dozens of pounds of blood, tissues, and dissolved teeth and bones. Pouches on the rear of their weapons bulged out of large spiracles, and these they shared with their fellows while they placed the eyes on the ends of long wires that slid out from the fingertips of their gauntlets. Their comrades pushed the sacs into their weapons while those with eyes attached to their hands peeked ahead, extending their new visual organs up to what looked like nine or ten meters from what Stayvans could tell.

A wheezing shout interjected into Stayvans’ research, “I got the list!”

That got his attention and the video feeds were made to play second fiddle as he spun on his heel and snatched the datapad from the PDF commander’s greasy paws. He pored over them, flicking down the lengthy list and ignoring everyone he knew to be in the command center. Others he knew were dead or on assignment on the surface behind the front line. Yet there was one he didn’t recognize at all.

“Who the hell is Major General Thaodor and why don’t I know about him?”

“Oh, he was a new assignment,” the PDF commander helpfully interjected between ragged pants, “He took over the second division of the planetary defense force two days ago, I assigned him personally. I was due to inform you during our regular scheduled meeting tomorrow but then, all this.”

Stayvans paused, looking at the name and then over to his corpulent subordinate, “Did you say second division?”

“Yes, of course.”

“The one that was wiped out?”

“Umm, yes.”

“Was he with them?”

“Of course he was, Thaodor was in their forward operating base when it was overrun. That was right before you issued the general callback to the Underfortress.”

Stayvans held up the datapad, thumb beside the very healthily green name of Major General Thaodor, “Then why in the fuck does this say his vitals are active.”

“What?”

Stayvans grimaced, “We found our leak,” he dropped the datapad onto the table, shouting over the ruckus, “Revoke all of Major General Thaodor’s clearances and search for every instance of him contacting headquarters since these psychotic bastards made landfall. Send it all directly to me, everything.”

There was another loud refrain of “Sir, yes sir!”

Notifications blink up across his PDA and he glanced down at the fresh list that rolled up. There were dozens of accesses, requests for information and confirmation, sending in status reports and updates, all the usual sort of thing you would expect. But if he was alive there there would no doubt be significantly more activity than this, calls for extraction and a far more dire tone. Instead every access and request were far too stern and stoic in tone, the timing of them spaced out erratically enough that it looked ordinary for one of the commanders who were holding the line. Clearly whatever had taken his place was mimicking the others, hoping it remained lost in the mix. He wondered when the next request would come in and returned to his research.

He didn’t have to wait long until more alarms blared, the holographic display splitting in half to properly provide information on the battle raging overhead alongside their situation in the bunker. The armoured spearhead had finally begun, tanks, hulks, motorized, and walkers surging from several directions at once and putting pressure on several weak points simultaneously. At the same time the unwelcome guests in the Underfortress had picked up their pace, now marching down the halls and busting through the reinforced door of an elevator shaft with their fists. It seemed he had excited them by blinding the eye they had been spying on him with.

Watching the oncoming invaders approaching almost entirely undeterred by his defenses and witnessing the armoured assault making headway, he grabbed the datapad again and began the process of uploading all the data he’d collected. It took more than a few commands and a shout towards the aides but he got it done, sending up the chain every note he had taken, all the detailed analysis of the situation, and even the final surveillance on the armoured infiltrators.

Looking to the cameras that followed the infiltrators, his vain hope that they had somehow been tricked by the good old elevator-shaft trick proved futile. They’d torn open panels and manually disable the power as well, and even went so far as to drop ordinance down first and utterly ruin the gravity shafts. There wouldn’t be any coy elevator being freed from safety restrictions and used to crush them with sheer momentum. Instead they carried on, shrugging off what little small arms fire actually scratched them and leaving a trail of mutilated carcasses as they went. It wouldn’t be long until they reached the command center proper.

He wasn’t going to let these bastards get one over on him though.

“Alright everyone,” he bellowed over the tumult of sirens and coordinators doing their duty, Colonel Avens, the PDF Commander, and all the rest of the generals and commanding officers he’d managed to pull back nervously approaching the table, “They are going to be in this room in under ten minutes, and they are going to turn every last person here into their sock puppets whether we like it or not.”

“No no,” the PDF commander tried to assuage his own fears, “there are the layered automated defenses just outside, we will be fi-”

“They know about those, they’ll have a means of bypassing or defeating them or they wouldn’t have come in the first place. Just like they bypassed the defenses at the entrances by using Egress Three instead,” he counted the seconds in his head, purposefully using the excuse to hold the officers a moment longer and wind them up as he calculated how much closer the infiltrators had to be getting, “Now listen to me. You are all going to take the far door then head up and leave via Egress Three as fast as you can. Preemptively open the doors and have the elevator safety restrictions lifted, you need to go as fast as you can.”

“Egress Three? The way they came in?” the portly man protested.

“It’s that or die,” Stayvans growled.

Only Avens seemed to pick up on what he had said, “What about you, sir?”

“There’s a certain something I have to do before I can follow you out.”

Everyone knew what that was, but they didn’t say anything. Only Avens offered some support, “It was an honour working with you s-”

“Right, now is the time!” the count in his head was finished and he was willing to wager the lives of everyone around him that the butchering invaders would be too close to the entrance behind him to split apart and risk slowing down, so he jammed his finger furiously towards the far door, “Pound dirt and go!” he raised his voice, “All of you! Follow the officers!”

The coordinators burst from their chairs as the officers began their jog, joining them. One or two glanced over their shoulders and there was some worried shouting, but it faded as they rushed through the doors and left him alone in the room with its bleeping and sirens and the sound of men dying filtering through abandoned headsets. Sighing, he slumped against the table and pinched the bridge of his nose. This wasn’t how things were meant to go. There was a ranch on a newly settled world with his name on it, literally, his son, daughter-in-law, and four grandkids waiting for him. Yet that was why he had to stay.

Placing his hand against the table, he waited for the menu to open and began to process of overriding commands and entering his biometrics, his rank and number, numerous passwords, everything short of a physical key as he laboured to gain the strictest access he could. All the while in the camera feed he watched the twelve infiltrators making their way to the side-entrance of the command center. Another camera flickered between the crowd rushing to reach the surface. Then the protocols gave him access and he began purging the system, starting with clearances and every encrypted communications channel before terminating his own clearance last. When he was finished there was nothing except for one tiny, essential component that he left behind.

As he closed the interface he could hear the invaders on the other side of the sealed door, grabbing at it and applying chemical torches made from the remains of his soldiers. Hurriedly, he reached under the table and jammed his thumb into an awkward hidden socket. Bolts clanged and the table hissed as it slid away, revealing a hidden compartment with a forearm sized cylinder resting in it. An antimatter bomb wasn’t much to look at, it turned out. Grabbing it tenderly like it was his newborn son, he cradled the bomb with just as much care as he spun the top off. The doorway was hissing, sparks flying through as he took the top off and cautiously reached inside. There was a plunger, that was all there was to it. That was all he needed to pull. He held it in his hand and thought of his son, his baby granddaughter, but mostly about how much he hoped he would see every last mutilated invader in hell.

He jabbed the plunger down just as the doors were breached and he saw the flash of the infiltrators’ guns. There wasn’t enough time for his nerves to process the micro-missiles that had penetrated his stomach before the explosion expanding out from his arms vaporized him.



Cilistia Novaren says: Look, I cant read while eating, your posts usually end in my having a strange feeling of dread, nausea, or slight arousal, or all at the same time.

Vipra says: In the Grim-Darkness of my spare time, there is only War... And cat-people boning...
Foxfire Rose says: I am Xiscapia and I approve this message.

Kostemetsia says: The atoran: a walking interplay of sex and violence.

Valinon says: Rule of cool does not equal a defense against wanton stupidity

User avatar
Vipra
Diplomat
 
Posts: 773
Founded: Jan 04, 2007
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Vipra » Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:59 pm

Downtown Torshir, Grevon
Dorvon System, Spinward Brithiske


The skin on Gerhard’s hands had chaffed to bleeding and the hole he could hear being bored into the door was nearing breakthrough by the time help arrived. Three burly men and a decidedly less imposing custodian dashed down the hall with a stretcher that had a metal table on top of it along with a tool bag and some powertools. They were panting, chests heaving as they skidded to a halt in front of the door. Bags and tools were haphazardly tossed onto the ground and the table hauled off the stretcher. It clanged against the floor as they rushed it towards the door, and it was only at the last moment that Gerhard and the other two struggling men let go and snapped their arms back.

The handle sprang up but was a moment too late as the table collided with the doorframe, everyone piling in as the mangled women on the other side let out a furious garble and slammed back against them. Pushing with their shoulders and legs, they held the new barrier in place while the thin janitor that had come along snapped up the bag and tools. He rooted around until he had a hand-welder grasped tightly in one hand and saw in the other.

“Close your eyes and don’t mind the sting!” the janitor said perhaps a bit too cheerfully as he started sawing off the legs of the table. Sparks flew, the men closed their eyes, and they hissed in sequence as hot metal sprayed against them. During his turn Gerhard cringed as stray sparks stung across his face and found the sores he’d worn into his arms. Sweat was joined by tears as he finally began registering the pain, but he couldn’t do anything more just yet as he kept on pushing as the hiss of welding began. It was only barely discernible through the racket of screws, talons, and whatever else the patchwork cyborgs on the other side of the ad-hoc barrier slashed against the metal yet it reassured him.

By the time the welding was done he was almost inured to the horrid warbles and ear-piercing scratches, feeling numb after having held onto the door in such a long panic. He stumbled back with the others as the custodian slapped his side and gestured. Their jury-rigged barricade worked, welded to the metal door-frame, bowing as it was assaulted but not breaking. A weak smile crossed his lips despite what had happened, relief washing over him.

“Right lads,” the janitor jerked his thumb down the hall, “we need to get out of here before it goes off.”

“What goes off?” Gerhard asked, tired and half out of his mind with pain.

“Just get a move!”

Gerhard was grabbed by the collar and pulled along, the others needing no such coercion as they rushed down the hallway and around a corner following the custodian. The next thing they heard and felt was a loud bang and an accompanying shockwave that sent half of them sprawling. Gerhard managed to remain on his feet, the doctor grabbing hold of the corner and almost wishing he had taken the tumble instead as he left behind a smear of his own blood.

“What did you do?” he was recovering already, reality reasserting itself.

The thin man shrugged, “We just pumped some gas in there and set it off remotely, ought to do them in we figure. No way that door was going to hold forever, and if they were anything like what’s out there we’d’ve been goners.”

Pulling his hand off the wall, Gerhard had to stop his instinct to rub the sweat from his eyes as he reminded himself of the situation. Hissing through his teeth, he turned and started the return trip. He didn’t hear any protests, although nor did anyone join him as he trekked back cautiously.

As he turned the corner the damage became obvious. The table that had been so tightly secured to the door frame was lodged halfway through the blood-sprayed ballistic-resistant window along with metal fingers and a prosthetic shin. Where it had been was blown outwards, the frame replaced by a gaping exit wound. Debris and shrapnel littered the floor, wallowing in a puddle of blood that was sprayed all across the floor, walls, and ceiling. Taking careful steps forward, he could feel his stomach clench from the smell of burning hair while he looked for any movement. None was forthcoming from the dispersed tissue and composite material.

Only when he drew near to the blasted doorway did he spot life, if it could be called that. The remains of Sindi or perhaps Klara, or maybe both, were laying against a scorched wall, the twisted remnants of the dozens of prosthetic limbs that had taken over their bodies swaying in futile attempts to right themselves. Below them was a ragged body, the commingled torsos of the two nurses as either the blast or the ministrations of the invasive limbs had pressed them together so that their organs were visibly shared were their bellies were split open and ribs exposed. He could only see one head though, the other a mystery for the time being as he stared down at the eyeless scorched face of what had been his work colleague. She wheezed, still alive.

Clenching his jaw, Gerhard walked back outside and found where the toolbag had been scattered by the blast and, after only a moment’s searching, found a heavy adjustable wrench. It would do. He walked back into the room to find the unfortunate cyborg still trying to claw and crawl on its useless limbs, and with a grimace he gripped the wrench tight in his sore hand. Then he sung it down on the nurse’s head. Two, three, then four swings before he had cracked through into grey-matter and the limbs were spasming desperately. Five, six, seven and the front portion of her face was gone, chunks of brain and sinus falling out to hang on thin pieces of wire that permeated them. Eight, nine, ten and he couldn’t do it anymore, his hand and arm throbbing too much.

Panting, he stood up and turned to leave. The men who’d helped hold the door were there, staring at him. Wiping his brow with an already drenched sleeve, he didn’t have much to say as he twisted the wrench around to offer the handle to them, “The prosthetics need to be broken down, they’re still dangerous. I can’t do it anymore.”

“Y-yeah,” the janitor said, face pale as he took the wrench and winced at the wet touch.

Nodding as he was relieved of the blunt instrument, Gerhard paused as something fell down from above the door with a wet thud. Staring down at the lump, he realized he’d found Sindi. Or maybe it was Klara. The skullcap and brow were decorated with thousands of tiny perforations where the prosthetics had implanted, and he decided to hurry out of the room as his senses began to return.

Of the many sensations assailing him pain was the primary. Muscles ached from his legs all the way to his neck while his hands and arms bled from open wounds. Hearing, sight, and other senses were tiny bonfires in comparison to the conflagration that pulsed up his nerves with every heartbeat. Steps shallow and tentative were the result, body swaying as he caught his breath and made his way to somewhere else, anywhere he could sit down in peace.

He would get no such piece as the building shook underneath his feet and he was sent tumbling. Shouts and shattering echoed from elsewhere as he crashed against a wall and he added to them as he instinctually softened the fall with his palms. Crying out, he leaned against the wall and prepared himself for the collapse that never came. More quakes and vibrations followed but they were only the distant explosions that he had already grown accustomed to. There were many, many more now though and the frequency only seemed to be increasing as the hospital reverberated with the litany of shockwaves. Cautiously he rose back up to his feet, wincing as he used his elbows to leverage himself back up, and walked over to the window.

The night sky was more a dusky orange than truly dark, clouds of dust and ash lit up by the flames that spewed them and the flashes of ordinance going off or being intercepted. The streaks from chaotically evasive missiles and aircraft, flashes of high-intensity directed energy, and glint of standard kinetics all added to the chaotic mix. He could see from the large window where rockets were crawling up a distant street towards the city center, towards him. The creeping barrage never seemed to stall, only gaining momentum as missiles seemed to burst in the air before finishing their tumble uselessly. He might not have been a soldier, but Gerhard had watched enough documentaries to spot a directed energy warhead.

Then he saw something, a ripple in the air and along the ground, surging through buildings and making them toss back and forth like grass in the wind. The moment it took him to realize what it was robbed him of the time necessary to get to safety. Only barely was he able to start sprinting away from the windows, beginning to duck around a corner down a long hallway when the blastwave struck.

The structure shifted all at once, bending with the force that carried through the air and earth, the windows that had withstood so much shattering into sprays of tiny glass chunks. Door frames buckled, cracks spread along the walls and floor, and screams mixed with the ear-popping roar of rushing air. Scrambling, on his knees and crawling along on shards of glass where the shockwave had thrown him, Gerhard tried to get away, to get anywhere safe, as he heard the creaking from overhead. Half blinded by blood and sweat, he turned his head just in time to watch the falling ceiling panel as it cracked down against the side of his skull.



Cilistia Novaren says: Look, I cant read while eating, your posts usually end in my having a strange feeling of dread, nausea, or slight arousal, or all at the same time.

Vipra says: In the Grim-Darkness of my spare time, there is only War... And cat-people boning...
Foxfire Rose says: I am Xiscapia and I approve this message.

Kostemetsia says: The atoran: a walking interplay of sex and violence.

Valinon says: Rule of cool does not equal a defense against wanton stupidity

User avatar
Vipra
Diplomat
 
Posts: 773
Founded: Jan 04, 2007
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Vipra » Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:07 am

Downtown Torshir, Grevon
Dorvon System, Spinward Brithiske


The taste of iron was strong in Gerhard’s mouth, his breath rattling and vision hazy as he returned to consciousness. Blinking, the cloudiness refused to depart and he groaned as he tried to roll over onto his back. Something heavy held him down however and the small effort he had used was repaid with aching and stinging as the abrasions and cuts across his body ached anew and drew a groan from him. He sputtered into a cough partway, gagging as he spat blood and gasped for air. The cloying need for air that felt like it was sucking his chest in motivated him on. Pressing his lacerated palms against the floor and pushing with his knees at the same time managed to dislodge the panels piled on top of him, and that gave him enough leeway to squirm forward until he was free from the rubble.

Dust puffed through the air in the hallway, illuminated by distant flames and flashes of light. It stuck in his lungs, setting off another spat of coughs and spitting gobs of half-congealed blood. Grabbing the wall, he stood up on shaky legs and winced. Standing only made everything hurt more. Stabilizing himself himself with his lacerated and abraded grip, he stumbled forward in the fog of dust that whipped and whorled with the wind cascading through shattered windows. Where he was going he wasn’t fully sure but his instincts told him to keep moving.

His own hacking and shuffling feet were the only sign of life in the place as he made his way down the hall. He hoped that the others had evacuated; that would mean there was an escape route he could use. The alternative was far too nihilistic for him to contemplate just yet. He had to hold out hope as he made his way to the stairs using his mental map of the hospital.

Another cough burst past his lips, taking with it something meaty that splattered against the floor, and he nearly collapsed as his throat and lungs felt like they caught fire. Escape wouldn’t matter if he couldn’t stop the bleeding. Stopping in his tracks, that somehow just as torturous as moving, he glanced around. He blinked his eyes, tears thick with dust trailing down his face as he spun his head around trying to find labels on the walls or floor. A helpful flash of light pierced through the dust after only a half-minute of searching, illuminating the coloured lines on the wall and letting him recall precisely where he was. It also revealed dozens of dark handprints, none of which were his own. That made his breath catch, which lead to an explosive hacking cough. Backing up while stumbling and wheezing, he followed the line where he knew it to be after the flash had passed.

The whole building shook, creaked, and shivered on the way to pharmaceutical storage as the boom of missiles and screech of near-flying gunships rattled through the structure and shook yet more dust loose. He didn’t quaver or stall at the bursts of gunfire or the thunderous rumbles of artillery, both the firing and eventual explosions, too focussed on his hobbling at a steady pace and keeping track of where he was. The place seemed empty regardless, and he reassured himself that the handprints must have come from the staff and patients fleeing just after the earthquake.

That was the mantra he repeated in his head until he made out the outline of an open door, beckoning him. Renewed vigour at the thought he was close to his salvation pressed him on with celerity that made his every wound throb, ignoring his ribs and swollen legs as he blundered into the office. He immediately tripped over a tipped over filing cabinet that had been pushed back by the door and caught onto the side of a table, almost flipping it as he desperately got his footing back. He didn’t give that any more thought as he scrambled around in the dark, knowing where the emergency supplies were by heart.

Some more stumbles and near trips and he was padding against the wall where he knew the emergency cabinet was. It was there, unopened as his tortured fingers attested as he carefully tapped against the surface. Pulling at the edges opened it up easily enough and he immediately patted the corner where he knew the flashlight was. It was there. Grabbing the palm-sized light, he turned it on with a tap and could finally see the contents through the haze as the beam illuminated dust along with the cabinet. Autoinjectors, medical gel, bandages, anti-bacterials, needle and thread, scissors and a utility knife. It was all there. He sighed in relief and reached for the autoinjectors and medical gel packet.

Reading the sides of the autoinjectors, he threw back the one that had nanological components and kept the chemical injector. It would have to do. He popped the cap and stuck the needle into his upper arm just below the shoulder and clenched his teeth as a chemical stew was pumped into his muscle. It felt good though, the pain dissipating rapidly. Hucking the spent injector aside he looked at the components in the medical gel listed on the side of the packet. Nanites again. Cursing, he threw that away as well. After thoroughly dousing himself in anti-bacterial spray that left him with the bandages. It was a painful process even with the topical care from the spray and the painkillers in the injection, raw hands in particular protesting. He spared enough to wrap his head as well, the gouge where the panel had hit him refreshed in its bleeding after applying the spray, and grabbed the knife. It was a tiny thing, meant more for cutting clothes or making small incisions if absolutely necessary, but it gave him a much needed sense of security.

Refreshed by the drugs clouding away the pain and clotting agents halting most of the bleeding he left the storage. With his flashlight he could actually scan around the halls as he began to the walk to what he hoped would be rescue. That hope faded quickly and his grip upon the paltry knife in his right hand tightened. There were hand and footprints everywhere, illuminated plainly by the flashlight where the flickers of distant light had left them obfuscated. Trails were left where someone, or something, had dragged itself along the floor, gouges were cut into the walls and spatters of dust-clotted blood covered almost everything. There weren’t any dead bodies or dismembered parts though, and he wasn’t sure if that made him more or less concerned.

By the time he’d made it to the stairs his nerves were on edge, the circumstances surrounding him not helped by the screech and thunder that reminded him he was in the middle of a warzone. That this door was left open was not as concerning as the fact that it was bowed partially, a dent right in the middle where something had collided with it. That made his stomach lurch, but there was no other route for him to take so he braved the steps with his torch in hand. The first few steps were cautious, nothing leapt out at him or made noises over the tumult coming in from outside though and that reassured him enough to hasten. That changed when he reached the next floor down.

Flashing his light down the steps, he saw someone standing at the next landing. The person moved slowly, reaching out with their partially dismembered arm sparking and spasming. That was enough for Gerhard, and he backed up a step to the door behind him, It lead to the third floor and he knew there was another set of stairs he could go down. Turning the handle slowly, he could feel his heartbeat in his ears and throat as he kept his eyes locked on whatever was standing there. He knew better than to assume it was a person at this point.

As the door clicked the mutilated man twitched. Its head spun around at an unnatural speed, spine cracking as it brought its face around to stare at Gerhard. Although he doubted it could do that with its useless eyes, it looked like someone had taken a claw hammer to its face and managed to gouge them out somewhere after tearing off half their skin. Yet it could still hear perfectly well given how it began to lunge up the stairs while emitting a hollow groan that escaped from somewhere in its punctured throat.

Yanking the door open and flinging himself through, Gerhard’s slammed it shut behind him just in time to catch the fingers on the ragged hand. They broke off, as badly damaged as the rest of the synthetic appendage and flying through the air to smack against his coat. Stopped but not deterred it banged and raged against the door, fingerless fist bashing against the plastic as he turned and readied to run.

The beam of light from his torch spun with him as he prepared to run, yet he couldn’t help but be frozen in place at the sight around him. Where the fourth floor had been empty this one was littered with bodies. None of them were still, though. They were dozens rousing, shuffling around to what had disturbed them. They were in various states of disassembly themselves, wrists and ankles chaffed to bleeding or mangled where they weren’t prosthetic and they wore torn, sweaty hospital gowns. Lips curled back, eyes widened, mouths fell agape, and then they began lurching towards him. Their limbs pushed towards him, shivering and spasming, legs jerking underneath them.

“Fiii,” a haggard voice moaned from the curling lips of one of the cyborgs, tears running down from wild eyes as it grasped towards him with hands that had flayed skin hanging from ragged and ripped nails, “Ghurr.”

The plaintive cry flushed his senses back into him and he sprinting past the closing crowd, rushing deeper into the hospital as he cut across to the opposite stairwell. Another cluster of prosthetic clad madmen were waiting for him though, lumbering and pushing themselves towards him with wild eyes and pained rictuses. He could see the door just beyond them and the urge to try and force his way through was there, yet senses prevailed as he turned his momentum around a corner and tried to kite around them. It wouldn’t work out though. As he rounded the next corner in his brief attempt to juke them, evading the grasping limbs of legless cyborgs along the way, he discovered them waiting for him. They’d split in two packs, and he almost dashed into the group waiting for him. They snatched at his surgical clothes, two hands managing to take fistfuls of the ragged fabric and tearing strips away as he yanked back and continued running down the corridor until he reached a door.

Scrambling, his bandaged hands holding flashlight and knife almost sliding off the handle as he twisted before he managed to wrench it open and fling himself inside. Slamming the door, he tossed his tools into a corner then grabbed anything and everything that was close on hand and began piling it against the door. He overturned shelves covered in towels, bed spreads, sheets, and pillows, flinging them against the ground as he backed up to the window at the far end of the closet and stopped there.

Catching his breath as he turned to look out the at the city, he caught sight of how far gone things were. The missiles were still blooming in eye-scarring flashes of light, artillery booming, gunfire filling the air alongside invisible energy weapons that left their mark in scorches and flashes where they struck. He could see an armoured column crossing the central park whilst gunships provided overhead support. They weren’t the PDF or the Brithiskan Army though, their make unlike any he had seen as some trundled on tracks while others used wheels or hovered through unseen mechanisms. Among them he saw dark blobs moving, giants that glinted in the flashes of light, and smaller figures sprinted while a bevy of shapes slithered, crawled, and sprung from between them all.

Their gunfire rattled off, some zapping and others booming, smokescreens of the same black smog from earlier in the day clouding up from grenades shot out by the vehicles and the aircraft alike only seconds before missiles came crashing down. Their flashes might have been nullified by the smoke but the echoing roars of their explosions certainly weren’t. The vehicles and shapes flung out of the inky cloud untouched, unperturbed by the barrage of missiles that had gone off only seconds before. They were far less impervious to the blinding ray that tunneled down from the sky and bored into the park. Gerhard covered his eyes, not that that did much good after the fact, and felt cold sweat trailing up his cheekbone as he tried to figure out what he had just seen.

It took him a second to realize that that wasn’t right.

Before he could blindly swat at whatever it was, something very sharp sank into his temple and forced through skin, muscle, and bone alike. He could feel it boring through his skull and reached in a panic, grabbing was felt like a knobbly stub. Wrenching hard, it refused to budge as the tendrils squirmed deeper and he howled in pain. More yanking did nothing, and he gave that up in his desperation as he scrambled into the floor and searched around. Holes were opening through his skull, he could hear the bone no longer chipping away and feel the change in pressure as cables wormed inside his head. Snatching the knife up in his hand, he slammed the blade between his skull and the object lodged to his temple while images, noises, tastes, smells, and tactiles sensations began to overwhelm him.

He was here, and yet also elsewhere as he began to leverage against his own body. His scream felt distant, like it was someone else’s and he was a passive observer, his thoughts caught in the middle between his own body and something else more distant than he could fathom and yet hovering right above his body at the same time. The dichotomy was painful in the extreme, yet there was also a certain peace to it. He could feel it through the agony that surged through his psyche being forced to perceive what it was not capable of withstanding. There was something greater just beyond his reach, and if he only reached out and took hold he could become so much more. Even now he could see colours unseen, feel time as it flowed. What might he comprehend if he delved further?

Then he leveraged the invasive organism off his head and out of his brain, his senses returning to their regular perceptions. Tendrils whipped furiously as the angry little parasite fought against the hand that he was gripping it tight within. He looked down at the lump he held and saw what it was. A finger, it was a broken prosthetic finger. It must have fallen onto him when he slammed the door shut on the cyborg’s hand. Standing up shakily, he dropped it to the ground and stomped on the wriggling thing again, and again, and again until his already aching head refused to let him go on. The remains he picked up and tossed out the window, not feeling the need to take any chances.

Bloody and battered, he rested against the empty window frame while the battering against the barricaded door carried on. There was nothing left of the park. A series of perfectly circular flat-bottomed depressions bored down into where it had once been like the very ground itself had evaporated. The orbital strikes continued elsewhere, flashes followed by deafening roars leaving behind streets, clearings, and buildings cut from top to bottom with circular edges like someone had cut them out carefully and left a hole leading down to the bedrock. That wasn’t the end of it though, hundreds of craft dropping down from the sky on wakes of blue, white, and green as they disgorged flights of gunships, aircraft, and dropships, guns blazing as kinetics, missiles, and the same disapparating weapons cascaded from them.

The city might have been on fire, blood flowing from his temple, and the distant shields of the accursed invaders’ ship holding steady, but Gerhard could feel a small measure of hope as the first of the landing craft touched down.



Cilistia Novaren says: Look, I cant read while eating, your posts usually end in my having a strange feeling of dread, nausea, or slight arousal, or all at the same time.

Vipra says: In the Grim-Darkness of my spare time, there is only War... And cat-people boning...
Foxfire Rose says: I am Xiscapia and I approve this message.

Kostemetsia says: The atoran: a walking interplay of sex and violence.

Valinon says: Rule of cool does not equal a defense against wanton stupidity

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Olimpiada
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1258
Founded: Aug 13, 2016
Corporate Bordello

Tycho slays the grocer, an interview with Asmodeus

Postby Olimpiada » Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:40 pm



Fujimori’s World, Kytheon 449
Portus Clement



The deserted streets of Portus Clement were covered in oil and viscera where the dust hadn’t been able to resettle. Something made of clattering metal and wailing flesh skittered by on the ground, its legs bent upward while freshly made ones of steel and plastic protruded from where its groin once was. It screamed. Tycho remembered buying groceries from him, once upon a time.

Inside his suit of scavenged fabric and insulators, he breathed shallow, hoping to avoid notice. The grocer continued on, its malformed legs dripping gore behind it as it went. Deep breath. It turned around. Shit. He held his breath. Carefully, he reached down for the suppressed flechette pistol on his thigh. They locked eyes, it with his darkened goggles, him with its insectoid mass of lenses. Its mouth stretched open, a prelude to a scream which would draw every other abomination in the city to it. The pistol made a staccato bark and kicked upward in his hand as the creature’s head was enveloped in a cloud of mist and shrapnel. Half its skull remained intact, the last vestiges of the brain’s function making the body tremble and shake for a moment before falling silent. Pulverized grey matter slumped out onto the exposed neck. Tycho swallowed his vomit. If there was a god left, he had some explaining to do for why things had become so fucked.

Three weeks ago, their ships had arrived in orbit. Their immediate action was to lase the planet’s QE links from space, and then to clear out infrastructure above. Fujimori’s World was a backwater one, and the OFA and OFN units there could do little defensively. Submarines would periodically poke up to take shots at orbit, to little effect. When the dropships began to land, that was it. He hoped to never meet what those soldiers had become when their military grade augments turned on them. They initially went for major bases such as Castellum Laurentius, or Okushina, but eventually the citizens of Portus Clement began to turn.

Tycho was one of the lucky ones, though he certainly wasn’t feeling it as he sprinted away from the most recent corpse. A rare genetic disorder had left him unable to have any augments. His parents, having already spent all their money on migrating to Fujimori’s World, had no available funding for genetic treatment, and saw little reason to either. They had assumed their son could handle himself. Their son had been glad for each of the last twenty-one days that they were long dead.

He had learned how to survive the hard way. As a freelance prospector, he was well acquainted with survival in rough conditions, but these were new ones entirely. Rather than trying to stay warm at night in the savannah surrounding Portus Clement, he now had to pad his clothing with space blankets to hide himself from prying eyes in the infrared spectrum. Where a stunner once kept him safe from wild panthers, he now carried a machine pistol pried from the gore-spattered claws of a now-dead weapons enthusiast.

His run brought him to a warehouse. His research on what was left of the local internet told him that this place was supposed to hold supplies for a large supermarket, and there would be enough non-perishable foods here to keep him comfortable for awhile.

He thumbed a switch on the side of his goggles, and the world lit up with bright white outlines of anything with a heat source superimposed over normal views. There were supposed to be bright green outlines where millimeter radar spotted metal or stone, but he had pried that module out with a knife after an incident where the waves had triggered an attack by a former postman’s oliy scythe-arms. Inside the warehouse, a single humanoid figure was present, hunched over and flailing its arms. Tycho checked his gun. The LED display on the slide showed that there were still two hundred little darts within, packed into a solid block of propellant. More than enough to deal with a stray toaster.

He scrambled up a water pipe to gain access to a high window, sliding it open as silently as he could manage. Inside, dust covered rows of metal shelves, mostly empty now, but still plenty for one person. Roughly in the center, the figure was doubled over an open crate of potatoes and was rummaging about inside. Periodic muttering could be heard. A shotgun was sheathed across its back rather than welded onto a third arm or something similarly silly. He took a tentative step onto a nearby catwalk, cursing quietly as he slipped slightly and knocked a stray bolt onto the ground.

It clanged loudly as it struck the concrete floor. Tycho scrambled back to his feet and leveled his pistol at his target. The target leveled her shotgun back, its barrel gleaming in the scant sunlight Tycho now stood in the way of.

“Hej! Drop it quicklike! No cupio korosute, kala?”

“Kid, I don’t speak smograt. Greek and a name would be good.” Her blonde hair was streaked with dirt, and her brow was soaked with sweat. There must have been thermal reflectors under her clothes like his, seeing as it was a perfectly mild day. Certainly no cause for that kind of heat.

“Fine. Go by Tycho. Cognomen’s Mellitus. You?”

“Faenia Matsuda. Drop the gun and I’ll drop mine.”

“No dice, lady. How ‘bout you tell me why you ain’t monsterlike as our pals out there?” She frowned at him for a moment. Wasn’t he perfectly easy to understand? Or was there something else?

“Customers don’t like women with metal bits sticking out of their bodies, if you must know.” Something else then. Now he felt like an asshole. “How about you?”

“Implant rejection disorder. Ma ‘n Pa didn’t have the coin for gene therapy, and I sure didn’t once they kicked it.” She nodded, pensively.

“Mind coming down here and helping me look for ones that haven’t gone bad?” He shrugged and obliged. It was a short jump to the ground, and his lightweight form took easily to a landing on a nearby shelving unit in between. He holstered his pistol and set to work. Most of the potatoes were blighted by a worm native to this planet, which thrived quite well on Terran biochemistry, surprisingly. Chemical sprays usually resolved this until gene tailoring could, but there had been no one around to handle the spraying. After awhile, he had become pretty good at taking bits out with a knife to look for telltale signs of disease.

Midway through the process, Faenia interrupted with a rather odd question. “Your parents ever get you any dental work before they died?”

“Nah, never needed none. I keep my teeth cleanlike, can’t afford no doc.”

“Right, makes sense. I once studied as a dentist, before my own money ran out. Want to know something interesting about modern fillings?”

“Kala, whatever.”

“The metal blend in them actually fills a lot of pores in the teeth, the way they’re designed now. By the end of the process, the tooth is stronger than it was when it started. Of course, it would be silly to call it an augment, right?”

“I guess.” Something seemed wrong here.

“Well, Missionary Anntair would disagree with that qualification, actually.” She looked up at him with a broad, open smile, and Tycho could see the spiderweb of metal filaments within her. One had shot out, speared him through the wrist, and pinned him to the floor before his right hand could even twitch toward his pistol. He screamed in pain and fury, the ugly sound reverberating around the empty shelves. His left hand flew towards the source of the hurt crawling up his arm, and a tendril reached out and pinned it to the same injured limb.

“I hope you know you’ve been a rather irritating thorn in our side. This area is already rather scant in population, and you eliminating converts is just unbearable.” He panted shallow and fast as he struggled toward his gun, feeling unwelcome tendrils slide around in his shoulder, seeking the next purchase for their corrupting influence. Tears flowed unbidden. She continued speaking. “He’s rather close to becoming an Apostle. Anntair, that is. You’ll meet him soon enough. The conquest of this world would mean a lot for his advancement in our ranks. If you look outside on a clear night, you can see another two stars of his from this world.” She gazed toward the ceiling, as if peering straight through it. He took her distraction as an opportunity to force his left hand through the metal, nearly taking off his hand in the process, and drew his pistol. It chattered loudly as it ripped a gaping hole from her hip to mid-abdomen before it chimed as empty. She twitched with something like pain before facing down toward him. His left hand was suddenly flung to his other side, crucifying him. “Please don’t do that, you’ll only tire yourself.” The metal was already knitting her insides together, slowly plugging the hole even as blood still dripped within it. “You’re a boy of what, fourteen? Much too young for this sort of violence.” A tear dripped down her face. “Can’t you see? We are saving you.” And in that moment of genuine misplaced altruism, Tycho knew exactly the caliber of psychopath he was dealing with. There would be no opportunity to win, even if he had never made this fatal mistake. She bent over and planted a kiss on his lips, and he felt two lances of pain through the roof of his mouth before his body was no longer his own.
Last edited by Olimpiada on Sun Mar 31, 2019 1:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Hyper-commodified cocaine capitalism. Urbanized solar systems. Omnixenophobia. War economy without end. Radical body augmentation for fun and profit.

I make exactly two exceptions from a fairly strict adherence to realism, and hate them both.

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Telros
Diplomat
 
Posts: 953
Founded: Apr 29, 2006
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Telros » Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:49 pm

Milky Way Galaxy, Gamma Quadrant, Imperial Space
Katonai System, Szívaháború HIGHCOM Orbital Facility, SIB Wing


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

The Strategic Intelligence Bureau, formerly known as Directorate Intelligence, or just Intelligence, they were the information armed forces for the Imperium. In light of the CASM War, the Revelation War against the Frankish and the early threats against SATMA, it had been decided to give them greater funding, manpower and jurisdiction to seek out more information on known threats to the Imperium, discover new threats to the Imperium and find ways to handle them through information gathering and to conduct covert, classified operations to take out targets of interest, amongst other operations. As such, their staff and influence had ballooned massively in the past few years; the listing of classified, black ops missions that only the top leadership of HIGHCOM knew about filled entire binders in locked archives, missing persons lists in the galaxy were getting longer due to their actions and many of the diplomatic and military initiatives were conducted with SIB agents on board. And one such task they took to doing for any major operations, no matter how small, was the debriefing, and one was happening right now, in Interrogations/Debriefing Room #75.

Two agents were in the room, one standing in a corner, a device on their arm displaying a holographic window showing it was recording the scene, the other was sitting in the chair opposite the room's occupant and the one being debriefed, a one Commander Véres Legyőzött, one of the Draak saurian race that was one of the larger minority species in the Imperium. His hands shook, claws scratching against the surface of the mug of coffee in his hands as the agent across from him shifted.

“Commander, thank you for coming to see us. I am Agent Holtak and this is Agent Köves. We just want to get to the bottom of what happened in the Scutum Arm operation launched by your task force. Can you do that for us today?”

The saurian nodded, still not looking up, focused on the coffee swirling in his mug. “I can, but I don't see how what I'm going to say will do much, the communication and drone recordings should have given you plenty.”

A motion had Agent Köves grab the window, turn it around and then press another glowing key, which started a recording, the wavelength being continually played and monitored:

static filled with garbled voices talking

static

static

আমরা আপনার মাংস মুক্ত করতে এসেছেন, (1)

অজ্ঞতা এবং অবহেলা পাপ থেকে.
(2)

garbled static filled with screams

static


When the strange sounds played, the Commander flinched, head shooting up to stare wide-eyed at the screen until it ended. The Agent ended the audio and pulled up the recording window again. Holtak crossed his arms and spoke after he felt the point had sunk in enough.

“That is all over any and all recordings we have from the operational forces placed on Ajñatā after they launched their invasion of the Thēkē mainland. All we have to go on are your naval recordings of the initial assault and orbital operations until you sounded the retreat. While this has given us an idea of what has happened, we need details on the specifics regarding orbit to ground communications. We have interviewed your command staff, but yours is the last and most relevant.”

The saurian chuckled darkly and downed the rest of his coffee. Holtak winced as he knew that the coffee was fresh and still piping hot but the saurian was able to handle it easy, but was still hard to watch. Clearing his throat, he met the agent's eyes,

“Well, where should I start?”

The standing Köves grabbed the window and threw it forward, sending the datastream to be taken over by the ceiling projector, resulting in the window being 'grabbed' between Holtak and Legyőzött, resolving itself into a tactical display as the former began narrating.

“A week ago, word reached us of missing trading vessels from the Rising Claw Foundation to the Solar Solidarity in the Scutum Arm region of Northern Gamma. As per protocol by the Director, preliminary reconnaissance SIB assets were tasked to investigate the situation. Ordinarily, if we found everything was nominal in the region, we'd find ways to drop agents planet side and investigate from there. However, our scouting vessels find the problem as soon as they appeared in system and started deploying the probes for a preliminary VLA.”

The image shifted at this words, showing grainy images of a fleet orbiting a burning world, bright flares of red and orange showing carnage going down on its surface, with the occasional weapons flare from the floating fleet, indicating orbital to ground support.

“The scans of the ships, their communication frequencies, the weapons, none of these matched the Solidarity's forces. Hours later, it was confirmed the wrecks of the system defense force were found, along with a few of the invading ships. It was clear an invasion of some kind had occurred, and the transponders of our trader ships were either floating dead in space or were on the planet. They had been caught up in this invasion.

Word was sent back to HIGHCOM who began preparing a response while SIB increased its intelligence efforts. It was difficult to get much detailed information without alerting the invaders to our presence but we managed to determine about fifty-four vessels remained in orbit, supplies and troop transports most likely kept flowing to the surface. Watching the planet orbit and checking communication traffic, it appeared the main continents were suffering invasion, but the strongest resistance was on Thēkē, albeit the communications were garbled. After two days, your Task Force One, under HAC Fifth Fleet, was given the task of counter attacking and aiding the Solidarity, after attempts to find ways to contact the Solidarity government failed, and to gather more information on the invader and how wide spread this invasion was.

We show your force arriving and initiating combat operations immediately. Tell us, in your words, how the orbital battle went.”

The screen displayed to follow the Commander's word as he stared at the screen, eyes going slightly glassy as memory took over.

“We came in with preset firing solutions, which we spent the early moments strengthening as we sent an open band message, demanding they identify themselves and cease all combat operations on the world and to withdraw or be fired upon. We got a response but...”

Task Force One had arrived at a parallel angle to the planet, able to fire upon the enemy fleet without worrying overly much about hitting the planet with their ordinance. The task force numbered over two hundred and thirty-nine ships, had spread out and weapons had deployed, drone swarms rushing out of ship holds to assume defensive positions around their host ship, and the message was sent:

”Unidentified ships, this is Commander Véres Legyőzött, Task Force One, Fifth Fleet, Imperial Navy. You are to identify yourselves, cease any and all operations on Bāṛi, withdraw your forces and leave Solidarity space, or be fired upon. Any action taken that does not follow these directions will be seen as hostile action and you will be destroyed.”

There was a moment where the fleet orbiting Bāṛi seemed to pause, all flights pausing and ortillery ceasing before a message blared back.

আরো ঢালাই এর আলো চাইছেন। আমাদের আপনাকে পথ প্রদর্শন করা যাক। (3)

The recording stopped, as Holtak leaned forward.

“Do you recognize this language, Commander?”

The Draak shook his head. “No, not at the time especially. Having time to think on it and...recover from what happened, my best guess would be a corrupted dialect of Solidar.”

“You would be correct. It's heavily filtered, electronic it appears to be, and has some kind of interference we can't yet pin down. We have our experts working on it, but it would appear they have modified their messages for the Solidarity or are perhaps rebels of the government.”

The Commander shook his head violently.

“No, not possible. What we dealt with is nothing matching what the Solidarity has ever created or even dreamed of. None of us are that twisted.”

“Well. In that case, continue.”

The video started once more, showing the force's engines igniting as power was pushed into them and weapons fire began when the fleet began to shift in orbit, moving towards the Tezekian force.

“Once we got the message, which may as well have been white noise to us at the time, and began moving, we opened fire with our salvos in detail. The battle was short, quick, and resulted in our driving them from the system with minimal casualties.”

The depiction reflected his words as blueish-white flashes signaled the unleashing of the coilguns, with the trails of many missiles being sent on their way to impact the enemy fleet, lasers shot out in bursts of radiation, carving into the enemy shields and hulls. The force had been caught with its pants down, so to speak, so the first few salvos hit for devastating effect, leaving shattered hulls and gaping wounds in many of the ships. However, faster than expected, they managed to right themselves and began initiating a full burn, weapons firing their own ordinance pack. Kinetics of some fashion, the display marked them as unknown railgun systems, and energy weapons and missiles of their own. Point defense force took down many, the missile, kinetic and laser cutting them down and drones shooting forward to take the hit, but too many for their systems came through and began hammering their ships. Four Warden-class Ward ships were sent spiraling into the void, with over twelve hits enduring hits to their armor, brief flares of fire before they died from the depressurized and deoxygenated decks they had during combat. In short order, the exchange of salvos reduced the incoming fire, until only eleven ships remained of the enemy force which, again, with astonishing agility, turned about and left the system, in unknown radiation of an FTL drive.

Once the ships were gone, the task force split, a portion left to guard the hulks of the ships and the damaged ships, with the fourteen Spear-class Tender Ships coming in to render repairs and conduct rescue operations with the medical frigates.

“Once taking stock of our losses and getting the fleet to begin repair and recovery operations, I had the fleet move to orbit, deploying more probes and prefabbed orbital defenses to help secure our hold on the space. We managed to make contact with the local resistance, but the situation was either far worse than we feared or had gotten worse since the SIB's last report:”

The image flickered again, this time showing the twin audios of the Commander and the contact on the ground and displaying the words of the conversation.

”To all Solidarity forces on Bāṛi, this is Commander Véres Legyőzött, Task Force One, Fifth Fleet, Imperial Navy of the Tezekian Imperium. We have engaged and driven off hostile orbital assets and have deployed defenses to secure our position. We have ground forces ready to deploy to aid in containing enemy force concentrations, we just need information and locations. Please respond.”

A few moments passed and then a static filled channel opened.

”Com...er... Le...őzött, this is Colon.....el Rawlins of the....arity Planetary Defense...rce.......read you loud and clea.......enemy forces have taken the capital and have taken most of Thēkē. We have....rations on Ajñatā, could use your help securing it for a push to the main....nd. Do you copy?”

“We copy, Colonel Rawlins. To confirm we heard you right, you said the Thēkē continent and capital are in enemy hands and you are fighting on Ajñatā and could use assistance there, correct?”

“That is...rrect. Please hurry, we are struggling to hold for much...er.”

“We copy, Colonel, hold fast; help is the on way.”


Legyőzött clasped his hands together, closing his eyes tightly and breathing for a moment; Köves moved to intervene but Holtak cut him short with a gesture. The Draak opened his eyes again and continued.

“After waiting for the probes to be properly deployed and having a strong data stream, we began reviewing the area before we deployed. Enemy ECM was fierce over the mainland and much of the planet; most of the world was taken or in process of falling; if we had waited any longer, it may have been too late. Most of the resistance remaining seemed to be on the coasts of the main continent and on the island. We conducted reconnaissance flights over the island, getting an idea of enemy positions and force concentrations. Solidarity forces were holding half of the island but were getting hit hard. Once the situation was understood, one of the [b]Ruin-class[b] Assault Cruisers were deployed on what had been the town of Ālō, to begin a counter attack.”

The video showed one of the cruisers, seemingly shaped like a nail, a long thin line of metal and guns before fanning out to a large 'head' with the engines. After moving into position, geosynchronous to the point on the island, they initiated burn for atmospheric entry, their armor and the WDF (Weapons Dispersion Field) helping to reduce the heat enough to allow entry. The line where they had been sent to land was in process of being overrun by the enemy, only shown to be a horde of tiny, dark shapes moving over trenches and other lines of defense, abandoned at the recommendation of the Imperial forces. If any had doubts in the resistance as to why they just gave up land they had been fighting hard for over the course of the past week, they were dispersed when the ship came shrieking in, loud booms signifying attempts to slow down enough to the proper speed before it drove itself into the town of Ālō, which proceeded to become a small sun as an explosion mirroring a nuclear strike could be seen from the sheer kinetic impact, wiping out the local invading forces and sending debris, smoke, etc into the air.

As the smoke cleared, the ship could be seen sinking into the ground, as drills located in the bow dug into the earth, implanting it more firmly into the ground until only its 'cap' rested on the ground. It spurred into motion as it finished implanting, with guns revealing themselves, missile tubes opening, as the point defense guns made themselves known. Kinetics, lasers and launched missiles began hammering the positions of the invading forces, which had started to regroup, scattering them once more. Doors eventually opened, revealing a vast interior and out of it marched the ACP, Autonomous Combat Platform, a mixture of Domain and Tezekian design, humanoid structures armed with kit similar to a Tezekian augmented soldier, and they came out in formation, followed by vehicles, spreading out to take position in the new craters and remnants of the trenches, as the commander continued.

“We secured the immediate region, driving the forces before us, linking up with resistance forces to solidify the push.”

The agent began to press, getting close to what they wanted. “What did you find for the bodies?”

A shudder. “Horror. Something had twisted their bodies to be creatures of flesh and metal, with no rhyme or reason to it.”

Images began to display showing images of the corpses found and autopsied:

A human male, chest filled with pile of fiber-optic cord, lashing out at orderlies as they attempt to investigate the corpse, the mouth babbling in the same, alien language as before.

A human child, eyes replaced with high quality camera lenses, with memory storage devices taking up where her mouth should be, fingers replaced by metal talons for climbing and gripping onto places.

The remains of a fused together mass of people, skulls lining the front, with the back having a ruined architecture of spines and ligaments interacting with several giant delivery tubes, some kind of mobile mortar device.


“We had no idea what was going on but the the debriefing with the Colonel helped to give some answers to what happened.”

A dingy tent revealed itself, shaking with the thunder of guns as the sounds of fighting could still be heard. A squad of augmented soldiers stood there, spread out and ready for action, dust, grime and the scratching on their silvery-blue combat armor and their weapons revealed the fighting they had been involved with. Their counterparts were even worse off, patched, or holed clothing, hunting rifles and civilians weapons mixed with in the equipment, and bandaged faces, limbs, etc all showed enough to see. A man in a tattered beret was standing in front of a map on a table, with the Tezekian squad.

“Captain Halál, let's get started. A week ago, the Solidarity had found increasing evidence of a cult of technology that had become a concern, with people going missing. Homeless, drug dealers, the refuse of society was increasingly becoming absent. A strike by special forces revealed a network of bases, safehouses and such, with centers for processing people into what you have found across the battlefield. We managed to isolate and destroy most of them but they managed to get a communication off before we torched the main compound.

The other nations on the other continents, found much of the same, with some low-key continual fighting going on still in the aftermath.

Within hours, that orbital strike force you drove off blew through our garrison fleet and orbital defenses, cut all orbital and planetary communications they could reach, bombarded all obvious military targets and then began a land invasion. Within a few days, they had cut apart a large portion of our ability to strike back, but we managed to cobble together some communications and coordinate a resistance. Two of the four continents we still have significant presence in and have been slowing down their advance, Thēkē were forced back to coastal positions yesterday and no one has news of the fourth continent, but no news usually means bad news.”

Grabbing a pointer, he pressed on the western edge of the island they were on,

“With the help of your brigade, and your...method of arrival, their forces are dispersed and we're mostly cleaning up and recapturing our old bases. Once we have secured the island, we'd like your help in relieving pressure on our coastal strongholds and begin pushing back to reclaim the mainland. But one step at a time.”

Pointed moved inland to a circled portion of a mountaintop. “This is Camp Durga, once our headquarters on this island before the invaders pushed us out. Most of their remaining forces have coalesced around this point, hoping to hold onto it, perhaps for reinforcements from the mainland. We need to hit them and hit them hard before they full entrench themselves; it's not pretty trying to pry them from a place once they have properly embedded. We have units we can use to support your assault but you will have to lead.”

Halál nodded, beak clacking thoughtfully. “That is enough; considering what your people have been through. We are in process of deploying another Assault Cruiser to enforce defense of our current line and deploy another brigade strength force for the assault. We're moving assets into place with that, in coordination with your scouts. However, more importantly, what information do you have on the capabilities and origin of these invaders? Have they identified themselves?”

An awkward silence followed, with some soldiers huddling in on themselves. Eventually, the Colonel responded,

“We...have very little information and it's not like we can exactly ask them. What little we can get from their screaming or some communications, if not encrypted beyond our ability to crack, is they refer to themselves as the Welded, and worship some force, being, something known as the Weld. Beyond that, its typical religious insanity and fervor, and the forced fusion of augments and flesh. They seem to use organic ammunition mixed with regular types you see in many galactic militaries, it is hard to tell, and capabilities range. You found some of their scout...types, communication hub units and mortar mobile...platforms. Those they capture make up their weapons and combat capabilities; there are somewhat 'regular' soldiers, but they are simply augmented powerhouses with rifles, shotguns, but many have the ability to fire small missile swarms to tear apart targets. We only saw them during the initial days of the invasion, however.”

“Very well. My soldiers and I will attend to the final preparations and begin the assault as soon as possible. I'll leave Private Tahlo here to serve as our liason; if you have any requests for supplies, soldiers, whatever it may be, go through him. He'll see to it that we're informed.”

The Colonel saluted, a motion matched by his troops, shortly after by the Captain and his squad. “Understood. And Captain...extend my thanks and the thanks of the Solidarity for coming. We...we didn't think anyone was listening.”

“Someone is always listening, Colonel. It's more about who decides to do something about it.”

***********************
Contd in second part below

Translations:
1) We have come to redeem your meat,
2) from ignorance and negligent sin.
3) We are the guiding light of the Weld, let us bring it to you.
Last edited by Telros on Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Telros
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Telros » Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:58 pm

Part 2, contd:

The feed halted, the recording having come to its end. Holtak leaned back, pulling out a nutrient bar and prying off a piece to chew.

“So, this was the first understanding and identifying of these...Welded, Commander?”

“Correct, Agent. Even now, we still have no real answers on why, what and how they are; as the Colonel stated, it has all the bearings of some kind of religious crusade, but twisted beyond anything we've seen before. This 'Weld' entity, real or imagined, is a complete unknown.”

“Where other forms or platforms discovered?”

He looked away, mouth working. “...briefly, and that was in the last transmissions from the 12 and 13th Brigades on Thēkē.”

Holtak finished devouring the bar and tossed the crumpled wrapped over his shoulder, drawing an irate glance from Köves as he littered plastic and crumbs behind him. “We managed to isolate some blurry images that suggested different types than included in your report about the battle for Camp Durga and the fight leading up to it. A pity. Continue.”

Köves played the next recording, which soon zoomed into a helmet cam of a Tezekian private in a squad. The screen super imposed in the air, as it began to display the subtitles of the neural implant conversations going on.

”-and then he puffed up his chest like Bátor, face to face with him. Bátor was so shocked, he fell on his tailfeathers and squawked like a newborn chick!”

The line was filled with the laughter of the squad as they recounted a story of one of their own, a Tezekian who had a bright red set of crown feathers and merely muttered darkly as he checked his equipment for the fourth time. They were huddled behind a makeshift barricade of metal plats soldered together, with crude holes cut into it for peering and firing through. Thunder rumbled behind them, draw looks from other squads before returning.

'What can we pinkies say; we just don't give a fuck sometimes!?”

“You could say something else Sampson, I think that joke died with the Rift War.”


The human in question, threw an ancient human symbol towards the speaker across from him and threw down his hand of cards.

“Christ, Tanácsadó, you get sassy when you're winning.”

“So you mean always?”

“Oh shut it before you bloat up from all that gloating, you stuffed turkey.”


The avian cawed with glee as he pulled in the chips, and thus the amount of money owed to him by Sampson. The original speaker, another human, tsked.

“Sampson, why do you keep playing, Tanácsadó? You can't read her worth shit.”

“Fuck you, Rawlins, I've almost got his tells down.”


Tanácsadó and Rawlins looked each other, and the former's crown feathers twitched in a direction and she groaned.

“The Sergeant is going to kick your ass if she ends up leaving you in your underwear at roll call.”

“Then let me save Private Sampson what little dignity he has left.” All soldiers stood up, cards and weapons left discarded, ramrod straight and all levity before wiped away. A heavily tattooed human walked up, chomping a cigar, shutting down a display on his right arm.

“At ease, you shits. Enjoy the downtime while we have it.” Thunder rumbled again, more loudly this time, sounding closer than before. The squad returned back to their positions, but in seeming defiance of orders, began to pack away cards and other items and joining Bátor in doing checks on equipment, with him piping up.

“Any word on when we're starting? The artillery's been rumbling for an hour now; the place must be slagged by now.”

“Soon is all I had an hour ago and soon is all I have now. We were already briefed; this Camp is built into a mountain; all the advanced shelling and raining missiles in the world aren't going to exactly carve it, and its bevy of underground tunnels, from the earth. Plus, they have some weird metal reinforcement that's making it less than ideal for slagging.”

The thunder resolved itself into the shuddering booms of mobile artillery guns, sending kinetic death and explosive packages towards Camp Durga, eruptions of rock, debris and dust coming up each time; fires raged and smoke trailed through the sky from the missile impacting. An alarm screeched over their implants, followed by a message.

THIS IS AVATAR DIRECTOR ONE. LONG RANGE BOMBARDMENT OF OBJECTIVE HAS COMPLETED ITS FIRE MISSION PACKAGE; BOMBARDMENT WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPRESS ENEMY RESPONSE. ACP UNITS WILL BEGIN INITIAL ASSAULT ON OBJECTIVE; AUGMENTED TROOPS WILL FOLLOW UP AT PRESET SIGNAL TO FINISH THE ASSAULT. DIRECTOR ONE OUT.

All jumped up at that, grabbing all of their gear and doing final checks as the Sergeant began shouting.

“Alright, you heard the brain bird. They're sending in the metal shields to take the brunt of the assault; once they're in and have most of the enemy force pinned down, we move in and mop up. Keep your eyes open, head down and do your job, and we'll get out of this like normal.”

“Roger, sir.” They all shouted as one, and finished their checks, the Sergeant nodding before doing his own. All across the line, soldiers of the 73rd Brigade conducted their own preparations, physically and psychologically for the coming assault. Scouts were viewing the camp through rangefinders, inspecting the damage and scanning for signs of activity. Scans were run but the strange interference they had been encountering still made it unclear as to the success of the bombardment. The thunder of many footsteps in one could be heard and drew some of the attention as the ACP's began to march, a full three thousand and two hundred combat platforms, moving with military precision, four battalions in total. They began to split up as they reach the outer line of the FOB they were holding at, moving to each flank and maintaining a force in the center, as they moved. Armored personnel carriers, modified to handle the peculiar needs and situation of the autonomous soldiers, followed them in, with tank support moving in. The record shifted to be in one of the core buildings of the base, an AVATAR op was linked in to a control system, wires and data spikes connected through ports in the skin to make a fusion of metal and flesh as it controlled the forces.

The camp revealed itself to not be fully suppressed, as the units began to come closer; even as shells continued to fall, answering peals of thunder could be heard, with shells screaming in impact amongst their lines, rock and fragments of platforms and vehicles spraying about to bounce harmlessly off their neighbors.

ENEMY FIRE SUPPORT STILL ACTIVE, CALCULATING COUNTER BATTERY FIRE PACKAGES....INITIATE.

1ST AND 3RD BATTALIONS ARE TO CONTINUE ADVANCING ON THE FLANKS; 2ND AND 4TH ARE TO MAKE A FULL PUSH TO THE FRONT OF THE CAMP AND BEGIN ENGAGING, THE FLANKS WILL DRAW THEIR ATTENTION TO MAKE THE FRONTAL ASSAULT MORE LIKELY TO SUCCEED OR BE SURROUNDED WHEN THE FLANKS PUSH IN. CONFIRM.

আমরা খোলা অস্ত্র সঙ্গে আপনাকে স্বাগত জানাই, আরোহী ভাই।
(1)

Confusion reigned in the AVATAR op as the whispered response came back. An error in the system must have occurred.

THIS IS AVATAR DIRECTOR ONE TO COMMAND, PLEASE CONFIRM PREVIOUS ORDERS ABOUT FIRE MISSIONS.

আপনি তার আলো থেকে পালাতে এত কঠিন চেষ্টা, আমরা বুঝতে পারছি না। (2)

COMMAND, PLEASE REPEAT LAST.

আপনার সময় আসবে, আমরা এটা দেখতে হবে।
(3)

Unnatural frustration tore through them, their enhanced muscles straining as it suffused its body with tension. While heavily augmented, they were thought to be beyond such things, able to see and process more than anyone else but this was driving them absolutely crazy.

COMMAND, PLEASE REPEAT-

“Avatar Director One, we have been hearing you loud and clear. We have confirmed your fire order three times now. Are you experiencing issues with the comm channel?”


Confusion stopped, now filling with the icy trickle of dread as they realized the situation. But it was firmly pushed aside, as the implications were ridiculous. There was nothing to show the enemy had any kind of electronic warfare to interrupt direct connection channels like they have. It was merely a glitch, an error to be pursued later. The sounds of combat could be hard and a screen pulled up, showing an exchange starting, red tracers coming from the camp and striking amongst the incoming force, with blue flashes and plumes of blood or dust showing the coilgun rifle return fire. Missiles streaked out to impact sections where fire was coming from, and for some, blood metal and the ruined wrecks of flesh horrors could be seen flying out to impact with the ground.

The operator moved in to piggy back on the ocular sensors of a combat unit, seeing how the attack was going and getting some feed not obscured by the electronic disruptions. The camp had a look of a Solidarity based at one point, but now had wires, metal, ceramic, and other materials covering many areas, connecting processors and computers together. Littered bodies of the Welded forces could be seen, in various levels of damage but also of augmentation. Huge holes and craters littered the place from the bombardment, with the occasional tremor revealing the ongoing bombardment and response from within the game. Movement was sighted to the left and the unit immediately shifted, rifle coming up to aim towards movement coming from a tunnel to the left.

The unit turned to see a squad of Welded coming out, firing their grotesque weapons; one had an arm modified into a cannon, with pumps and tubs writhing with every shot, as if their ammo came from their body. Others wielded modified or upgraded Solidarity weapons, and one was a hulking mass, covered in barrels and missile tubes, one launching in a burst of smoke that streaked over the units head and exploded behind them, leaving an APC in ruin. Gunfire reigned, as entrenched LMG's opened up, suppressing them as the platforms immediately sought cover and began to engage. As gunfire and explosions took over the screen, a sound drew the AVATAR's attention, and the unit turned to see a slight movement and he had it pursue while the others fought. It followed quickly, rushing down hallways, crusty spots of blood, discarded flesh and limbs, piles of components, chasing the shadowy figure rushing ahead of them, heedless of the turns and twists, until they turned the corner and found a shadowed room. The ocular sensors changed mode to scanning through infrared and night vision, and began scanning the room.

NO SIGN OF THE TARGET. INVESTIGATE CAUTIOUSLY, SIGNAL FOR SUPPORT IF NEEDED.

An automatic reply was received and the Director turned his attention back to the battle. The outer walls had been taken, with surprisingly heavy casualties. The remaining two battalions of augmented soldiers had come in to reinforce the push, and were making their way to the central compound. The fighting would continue on for some time yet, as there were extensive underground rooms and caverns. However, the attack, barring any surprise reinforcements, was going to retake the camp at its current momentum.

'ACP unit 334 reporting. Anomaly found, requesting Director assessment.'

The Director brought the screen it was previously viewing back up and found the unit was standing in front of a massive computer array, blood of the prey they had been pursuing could be seen off to the right. It was activated and bright, with strange characters scrolling down the screen, still unknown to the Director themselves as the translation programs had nothing for them. He pulled up the recording of the time from when he left, and found the unit had cased the room, unable to find anything but inactive processors, when a light had come on and the figure was hunched over the computer they were standing in front of now, pressing keys and muttering something to themselves. The ACP quietly came up and deploying a knife, stabbed surgically in the neck and bottom of the spine, causing the figure to stumble, before finishing it off with a shot to the head, discarding its body over to the right. Then the screen began to fill with the characters and it sent the message to him.

Then it began happening again.

আপনি একবার আরো উদিতভাই আমাদের খুঁজে চাওয়া হয়েছে. (4)

আপনি বুদ্ধিমান কামনা, আমরা আপনাকে এটি প্রদান করতে পারেন। ঢালাই আপনি এটা প্রদান করতে পারেন।. (5)

আপনি শুধুমাত্র আপনার চোখ খুলতে হবে ....(6)

এবং দেখো
(7)

The screen gained an orange tint and the whispering reached a feverish pitch, becoming absolute babble. The display of the computer began to fill with the unknown text now, and slowly it began to form a face, which began to push out of the screen. The orange tint became a glow as the eyes and mouth began to emit an orange light that began to turn into blood orange as the whispering became shouting. The AVATAR felt something then, something he had not felt since before the implantations and recovery therapies: fear and wonder. Fear crawled through him, as if the wires and tubes inside of him were writhing with unleashed energy, and wonder blasted through him, filling his mind with images and sensations he had not been capable of for some time.

In the command center, the staff were jolted when screaming came from the AVATAR pod, complete with motions that rocked the pod as they spasmed. The recording ended as they rushed forward to find out what was going on. Agent Holtak spoke again.

“So, while the camp was taken, reports came in of odd whispering on channels, strange hallucinations and, as we saw, the AVATAR operators breakdown. You had to send another down to replace them for the push to the mainland, correct?”

“Correct. Agent. We did an investigation to find out what the source was, but was unable to find anything beyond a theory of electronic warfare of some kind, which the information from the Solidarity resistance supported this. We deployed more ECW devices and platforms and prepared for the mainland assault to start to push the enemy back.”

“And how did that go?”

The commander closed his eyes and stayed silent. The Agent leaned forward.

“The recordings provide no information we can use, Commander. You are the only one who can confirm what little we got from your command crew.”

The Draak straightened himself. “The assault began three days later; we spent the previous days cleansing the camp and securing the island, gathering supplies and doing reconnaissance runs over the mainland. Coastal firebases were being held by the resistance but they were slowly falling, and the normal preparation time was pushed up to ensure we still had beachheads to use. The forces launched, by air, to land in the beachheads, reinforced them and held off a few attacks. Once we consolidated our forces, a push was made to the local city, Niyati, and that was where everything went wrong.

The initial assault went well, there was a lot more resistance than before and casualties were higher, even amongst the augmented battalions, but still we were making progress. Channel ghosting and strange images were reported in larger frequencies, but the commander made it clear they could handle it. It was about close to the city's center that the comm lines started going...I don't even know what word describes it.”

“Try to, Commander.”

“It was like...they went dark, both in terms of silence and off the grid. We tried to raise them but were unable to do so. They came back on their own suddenly, after fifteen minutes of silence. There was no sounds of combat, no shouting of commands, or even of a retreat, a loss, soldiers being killed No...we could hear saws going in the background and what sounded like flesh and bone being torn open and blood splattering, but this was all background. The following chant just repeated and became a chorus as all the comm lines began to turn on with this noise and chant.”

The saurian traced the lettering onto a holopad and passed it over, which processed and then displayed it.

আমাদের ভাইবোন স্বাগত জানাই। আপনার অনুরোধ শুরু! (8)

Köves took the holopad while Holtak returned to Legyőzött. “And then?”

“Our sensors showed the force scattering; the ACP's were turned off and the augmented troops, before their signals became complete garbage code, were either stationary or being moved. And the medical readings...they were being torn by their augments, they were going haywire. Wires growing with no real source material to generate it, neural implants devouring their brains and replacing them entirely and so much blood and...”

The commander gripped his hands together tightly, and purple blood began to leak from them as his hands shook. Köves started towards him but the other stopped them with a raised hand. The shaking stopped and he continued.

“...When we lost them, I made the call to initiate bombardment and get Solidarity Resistance HQ on the horn to get more intel on what was happening. Then the Welded fleet came back; it must have been close to four hundred and fifty ships. They broadcasted more of that unknown language and began a hard burn towards us. We couldn't fight off a force that big, not with our forces trapped on planet, and we didn't have time for a rescue mission or even the ortillery fire missions. I was given two hard choices and picked the one that saved the most lives.”

“Which was to detonate the two Assault Cruisers, which obliterated much of the Solidarity's bases on the island and then initiated a full retreat from Solidarity space, and came back here.”

“Yes, Agent, that is correct.”

The Draak fell silent once more and Holtak reviewed his notes, made a few more additions and notes and then closed it, tossing it aside on a nearby table.

“Well...I understand how difficult this must have been for you, Commander. We do not ask this of you lightly; we only seek to understand as much as we can since the next time we deal with this group, we will be prepared. As for you, I am aware of your concern over what happened and the inquiry put into your conduct and the result. Rest assured, it has been completed and you have been found sound in your reasoning and judgment. A loss of a force and a full retreat with lives under your command, and those of who you sought to aid, being abandoned is never an easy decision. But it was the right one, Commander, be assured of that.”

“Perhaps, Agent, but it doesn't make the faces go away in my nightmares.” With a nod, the other agent escorted the Commander out to be handled by the soldiers on duty outside before coming back in, taking seat by Holtak and finally speaking for the first time.

“So?”

Holtak pulled out a hidden container and poured out hard alcohol into a glass and grabbed it, but didn't raise it yet.

“So, the Commander's testimony confirms our worst fears. We don't have confirmation or testable evidence yet, but this...Welded threat is two things from what we have investigated thus far:

An anomalous force stronger than anything we've ever seen or encountered; the closest basis we have is the Rethast scourge threat back when they were an activate force in the Gamma Quadrant. They are spreading and are proving difficult to stop through the second part of what they are.

They are a force capable, through anomalous means, to twist, control, and expand augmentation of any kind. The scans indicate the Solidarity forces in the city were fine, having no augments, by chance or design we don't know, until they were slaughtered by the Welded or our turning troops. If what the Bureau has hypothesized is correct, we have an existential level threat to the Imperium. With the level of technology and implantation that we have, if they reach here, we fall. If we fall, they get the Gate network and if they reach the Aumanii, or by claw, the Phoenixi...”

He shuddered at the thought of what would happen to them if they were breached. The other agent picked up the silence and spoke.

“So...what do we do? All of our available methods require implantation; we have no method to fight these creatures.”

Holtak took a large shot of his drink and gulped it down, feeling it tears its way down. “We don't, but someone else does.”

Köves rolled his eyes. “Okay, who would? One of our allies in SATMA?”

“The Vipran Imperium. And they'd just contacted us, saying they know what happened at Bāṛi and demanded a meeting. They said, and I quote, 'You need to know what you're getting into, this is much worse than you realize.”

“Well.....shit.”

***************
Translation:
1) We welcome you with open arms, ascending brothers.
2) You try so hard to escape from this light, we do not understand.
3) Your time will come, we see it.
4) Once more, you have come to seek us out.
5) You seek knowledge, intelligence, understanding. The Weld can give all this and more to you.
6) We will force you to open your eyes...
7) AND SEE
8 ) We welcome you into the fold at last, ascended brothers. The Weld embraces all.
Last edited by Telros on Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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New Dornalia
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Left-Leaning College State

Postby New Dornalia » Sat Jan 26, 2019 3:31 pm

DARPA Research Facility "Kilo-23"
[REDACTED], Colonial Republic of Earth


This wasn't how Dr. Henry Petersen anticipated his day ending. One usually expected their day at the secret facility known as Kilo-23 to end with a walk through the bioscanners and the inspections, and then heading to one's car to go home for the day. One did not, in contrast, expect to be hauled in front of two of the most prominent people in this complex and made to answer for a mistake. And yet, that is what happened to Dr. Petersen.

Sitting in front of Petersen at the simple wooden desk were two individuals. One of them wore the officer's uniform of a Dornalian Army Lieutenant General with the nametag "Pauling" and the appropriate rank insignia corresponding to the rank of Lieutenant General. He was a younger man, with wire rimmed glasses and a stern, energetic gaze that could cut...well, any damn thing it touched. Pauling had his hands folded on the desk, and kept up the stare in an unnerving fashion. The other wore a simple suit and tie, and had a much friendlier expression on her face. The woman wore a badge which had her image upon it, with the name "Janssen, Emilia" and any number of identifying details. The most important such detail was the insignia on her ID that indicated she was not only the holder of a high level security clearance, but the director of the facility. She seemed more relaxed and attentive. Like you could actually negotiate with her.

That didn't help much though. The air was thick with tension, until Pauling spoke first. His tone was matter of fact, and blunt.

"Doctor Petersen, do you know why you're here today?"

Petersen folded his hands on his lap, meanwhile, and sighed.

"I do, sir. It concerns today's incident?"

Pauling nodded, wincing at the sigh, and said, "You're correct, in part." Pulling out a laptop, he pushed a few buttons, wherein a holoprojector showed images of code, security feeds, and other activities. One of those feeds was of a young woman with cat ears and a tail shouting at random handlers in Spanish, before picking up a chair and wielding it like a lion tamer at a group of orderlies, before tossing it aside. Petersen raised his eyebrows and gazed with alarm at the scene, as if witnessing a family member doing something disappointing. Pauling then continued to narrate.

“It concerns a lot of things relating to today’s incident. The fact Unit Kilo-23-1337 was found cursing in Spanish and attacking those who got too close, and damn near tried to escape the facility. The fact Unit Kilo-23-1337, when we evaluated her, had lines upon lines of code sourced from a standard Gracie SDK which clearly weren’t supposed to be there. Code, by the way, which appeared to have been modified by whoever uploaded this--”

The last part was delivered with an accusatory glare at Petersen, as Pauling continued.

“--last night at 1830pm Zulu Time. Which, by the way, was just when someone happened to access the Maintenance Wing using your credentials and passcode, and then promptly utilized a Data Transfer Machine on Unit Kilo-23-1337 before placing Unit Kilo-23-1337 back in its storage bay, with a small orange tag on its toe.” To add the icing on the cake, Pauling leaned forward and with a tone as cold as ice, said, “You wouldn’t happen to know what you were doing last night at 1830 Zulu, would you?

Petersen paused for a moment. Part of him wanted to reply in the affirmative. After all, his nervous disposition wasn’t just due to Pauling’s hardball mannerisms. It was also because Pauling was right about all of it. DARPA kept logs of any activity within Kilo-23, be it mundane things like entering and exiting, going to lunch, or even turning on a workstation. He thought that the measures he had taken had evaded the loggers, but this wasn’t the case.

Pauling interrupted Petersen’s train of thought by going, “Well? Need an answer.”

Petersen sighed and said, muted, “I did it.”

“Speak up son--”

“I DID IT, ALRIGHT?!” Petersen snapped at Pauling, with an emotionally compromised tone of voice. Perhaps because the cat was out of the bag, Peterson continued to speak, rambling on wildly.

“I’ve been working on Unit Kilo-23-1337 for a long time, okay? Been trying to run an experiment to see if we can augment the combat androids with leadership and command capabilities beyond the basic skills that we give the NCO-designated VI protocols.” Pausing to catch his breath, Petersen added, “I mean, fuck, we’re sending these things against an unstoppable force that eats people who’ve gotten so much as a filling, the least we can do is to make them the best damn synthetic warfighters the Republic can muster.”

“We know about Project Gunny, Doctor Petersen,” Pauling replied, sternly. “We know about the fact that these combat droids are built using two tiers of non-sapient virtual intelligence protocols that can always be improved. We know you’re running Project Gunny, and we know about why you’re doing it.” Pauling then continued, “But Doctor, pardon my French, we wanna know what that has to do with Unit Kilo-23-1337. Because as far as I’m fucking concerned…”

Pauling then activated some more footage, and it showed Unit Kilo-23-1337 standing proud, lecturing the interrogator in Spanish about something important enough to demand a long winded speech, followed by a dramatic pose and a proud grin, to the tune of a facepalm from the interrogator. Petersen snickered a bit, but stopped as Pauling seemed even angrier when he heard the laughter.

“...this has nothing to do with improved NCO-Standard non-sapient virtual intelligence warfighting capability. At. All. What I see is a full fledged AI that’s gone full fucking Don Quixote on us shoved into the body of a XQ-1 Multipurpose Combat Droid, which as you know, has enhanced strength, sensory capabilities including multiple forms of vision, and speed that can easily exceed a human operating at peak performance. That’s a fucking risk, and I’ve got some damn significant concerns about unleashing something like that onto the modern battlefield, especially against a fucking unholy technomagical abomination that eats mortals and shits more unholy technological abominations. Not to mention you’ve gone beyond the remit of Project Gunny and engaged in the misuse of government property, by the way--the SDK, the XQ-1 blank, everything.”

Petersen stared blankly at Pauling as Pauling declared, “Now, I’m gonna ask you politely, and I want an answer. Why did you modify Unit KIlo-23-1337 the way you did?”

Petersen said, sighing and trying to find the best word, “Well, I….I….”

Pauling raised an eyebrow and stared at Petersen, as Petersen squirmed to find the right words. Pauling then said, “We can wait all day, Doctor. Hell, I can even bring in one of the MPs--one of those Empowered types. Rip the information we need out of your skull and confine you to a mental hospital somewhere. Or you can talk.”

Petersen said, “It was all personal, okay?”

“Elaborate.”

Petersen breathed, and began talking in a longwinded, rapid sort of comprehensible patter.

“I modified Unit Kilo-23-1337 the way I did….because I wanted to test the limits of Project Gunny. You know, the guys down there, we pursue all kinds of solutions. One of the problems with the NCO Virtual Intelligence was that while it had enhanced response time to unusual circumstances, it was limited by the onboard memory and the role libraries it had at the time. So, I decided to use elements of the Gracie SDK because they offered a much more tidy and efficient code scheme, so as to save valuable memory space, and also allowed for even more sophisticated analysis protocols and “role” libraries. Basically, the thought was that if you have an NCO droid confronted by an angry mob, it won’t automatically shoot up the mob with live ammo. Instead, it will determine the need to use civil disorder protocols, and then issue a warning followed up by tear gas and stun charges as needed. Existing droids can do that, but the current builds are limited in their flexibility and creativity. The mods I did allowed it to select from a variety of strategies which would work towards fulfilling a mission goal.”

Pauling nodded nervously, and said, “Then why the Don Quixote act?”

“That was a personal touch of mine.” Blushing, Petersen added, “I mean, I write historical fiction on the side, sir. Been writing up a scenario for a historical tabletop role playing game set in the Jacintaist era. Figured I’d use one of the premade characters for it as a template for Project Gunny, sort of as a proof of concept. Character was supposed to be a Silverado warband leader. Highly charismatic, devoted to the First Citizen. Deadly with a rifle and a skilled driver. That sort of thing. I admit, I did modify Unit Kilo-23-1337’s physical characteristics a bit to match.”

Pauling then thought for a minute, and then said, even more offended than before, “So you mean to tell me you used government time and money to bring a fucking personal fantasy to life?

“If you say so,” was Petersen’s reply. “I mean, it’s just a character.”

Pauling then sighed, and said, “Great. Now I definitely know you dun goofed. You goofed badly.” Pauling then facepalmed and went, “Okay, go outside for a few moments. I’m going to talk with the Director. I won’t lie to you, you’re in serious trouble here, Doctor. Hell, I could even call in the MPs, take your clearance, and have you hauled in front of a judge to face all kinds of felonies. You abused government property and resources for your own gains, and hell, I’m guessing that you brought in that Gracie SDK code from outside, didn’t you?”

“Yes sir? I mean, I got a copy lawfully from the Naval Technology Centre Changi--”

“Unfuckingbelievable. Great. Now I know I can kick your ass. You know you’re not supposed to bring in outside shit without clearing it with security.”

“But--”

“But nothing, Doctor Petersen.” Pauling sighed, and then said, “Get out. Your fate will be decided.”

With that, Petersen disappeared to the waiting room outside. A series of loud shouts followed, followed by discussion. Petersen could hear through the walls that his fate was being decided. Phrases like “no criminal record” and “no prior security violations” were bandied about, as were the words “security risk” and “what if the fucking Welded infected the code Petersen used”.

Time passed by, as Petersen contemplated his fate. He had tried to do his best for his country. The Welded were a threat and everyone knew it. Even if the Welded seemed so far away at the moment, Mother Dornalia had deemed them a threat to herself and her partners abroad--especially once said partners shared critical knowledge. So, hence, Mother Dornalia activated the remnants of all its past droid programs--Project Golem, etc.--and then turned them into Project Panther, a program designed to make an army which couldn’t be subverted by the Welded. Petersen had joined the project due to his programming skills and his Navy connections--he had spent time at Naval Technology Centre Changi and did hold an officer’s commission after all, which was inactive--and out of a sense of duty when volunteers were solicited. No gribblies were going to eat his people.

The fact that Project Panther used a gata (well, half-gata, but she had the ears) from England--somewhere in Yorkshire, apparently, if you believed the classified technical specs Petersen had access to--didn’t hurt. Petersen did have a thing for gatas after all--his first girlfriend was a spitfire from New Star City who liked rock climbing and extreme sports, and then left him for some Marine officer with a chad complex and a fast car and a career which was going places. The breakup hurt, but she was too beautiful to forget.

Part of him wondered if subconsciously, he had committed the grave error of thinking with his base instincts instead of his brain when coding Unit Kilo-23-1337. Part of him elaborated and wondered if he wasn’t trying to do a bit of psychological self-medication, even.

Eventually, Director Janssen woke Petersen up from his pity party, and coughed.

“Doctor? Do come in.”

Petersen came in, and sat down, folding his hands onto his lap. Pauling seemed annoyed, but not with Petersen this time. Director Janssen was speaking now, and smiling.

“Doctor Petersen, we’ve made a decision regarding your further involvement with our operations.”

“Oh?”

Janssen, with a motherly, polite tone, said, “Doctor, we are concerned about the potential security risk which has occurred here. Even if your motives are genuine, and even if the machine you created possesses enhanced combat capabilities, you have effectively exceeded the mandates of Project Gunny and created an AI. Plus, the evidence we have and your explanation does suggest you brought unauthorized items into the facility and engaged in behavior which, while not explicitly unauthorized and/or illegal, is at best an exemplar of poor judgment.”

Then, with a more reassuring bent to her voice, Janssen then said, “That being said...we are willing to overlook that this whole incident even happened and avoid potential troubles with the government.…”

Petersen was relieved and stunned all at once. There had to be a catch. No one did a 180 that quickly on the threat of destroying a man’s life over a security risk that quickly or completely, without something in return. But at least the possibiltiy was there, and he didn’t fancy the idea of spending time on The Wesley.

Sure enough, Janssen confirmed Petersen’s suspicions.

“...so long as you take responsibility for Unit Kilo-23-1337.”

“Eh?”

Janssen said, keeping her smile, “Well, you’re a creator now. You made this AI. As you created this AI, no one knows its capacities more than you do. No one knows how to interact with it more than you do. You said so yourself, you adapted your creation from a game you were working on. I think you should have the honor and responsibility of guiding your creation to its ultimate result.” She then said, with a nod to Pauling, who seemed to relish what was coming, “Of course, this would entail engaging in combat alongside your creation, as required. Can’t have her going off into the wild blue yonder to battle unholy technomagical abominations without her master after all. Well, master in the figurative and employment minded sense, she is an AI and thus has the rights of a Dornalian citizen.”

An awkward pause descended, and Petersen said, “So wait. You’re saying that if I follow Cons--er, Unit Kilo-23-1337 around, even into combat, and monitor her development, I won’t go to jail?”

“Well, I didn’t exactly say that, Doctor, but well, let’s just say it would be in your interest to keep an eye on Consuela, as you were going to call her. After all, the government has better things to do than to take on a couple of new wards of the state, so to speak. And if you take responsibility for Consuela, that won’t have to happen.”

Petersen looked about, and said, with a smile, “Sure. I’ll take responsibility for Consuela. Besides, I am sure you’ll appreciate the research data.”

“Good man,” Janssen said. “Then, we can consider this matter...nonexistent. That being said, you know we will need to reactivate your officer’s commission. Can’t go into battle without it. Also, we need you to undergo a physical and psychological evaluation with Dr. Patel again. Gotta make sure you have nothing mechanical implanted in you, not even a filling and you are going into the field. And your new charge--well, I’m sure you can find someone at the JAG’s office at the Marine barracks nearby to help you with the naturalization process.”

Petersen said, relieved yet defeated, “Sure. Whatever’s gotta be done.”

***

Consuela fumed at the room as she sat on the small cot. It was empty. Soulless. A gray box. The woman in the unusual uniform--possibly Americanadian, but who knew?--that had accompanied the men in suits of armor that held her in restraints informed Consuela--thankfully in Consuela’s tongue--that she was being held here for her safety.

Liars. All of them. They had entrapped her here, and had met her attempt to flee with force.

Now, they were likely going to do all sorts of things to get information out of her. She knew what the Americanadians--chingada, any enemy of the First Citizen--did with captives. Destroy their souls for sport or information. Abominable swine. It figured--the fall of the bombs had made it so men lost their reason. Their morality. It made sense that those so debased and so content to wallow in filth would resist the First Citizen’s mission to restore civilization to the world.

Consuela’s memories kept her afloat. She remembered standing in the square, with the other members of the Special Dragoon Corps. She had stood in the flatbed of a Ford Super Duty truck that was once some narco’s automotive plaything--Consuela had long since repainted it and rededicated to good--and witnessed the First Citizen, Jacinta La Valienta herself, proclaim the new era from the steps of a church in Mexico City. Proclaim how a new American Union would bring light to the benighted world, sweeping the narcos and their superstitious demon worshipping minions, the Zapatistas and all those who opposed the restoration of peace and civilization aside in the name of pure, civilized justice.

Men would no longer be beasts, shackled by white powder or fear. They would be men again.

The light of that glowing memory sustained her in this dungeon, especially when she looked in the mirror. Her pallor and complexion were what she remembered, as was her face. Her ears were there, and she felt a tail there as well.

Everything was where it should have been. She was troubled by something she had seen when she awoke. There were other figures that looked like Consuela. But they had no tails, and all their faces were the same. They also looked like norteamericanos, like the Americanadians or worse, the godless Dornalian communists that ruled the lands of California. At most they vaguely looked like her face--but the similarity was worrying enough. What manner of blasphemies had gone here? Immoral science, the kind which unleashed heroin among the poor? A hallucination? Maybe she was dead, and due to be judged by God.

Then, she felt herself panicking, and stopped. Breathing in and out, Consuela calmed herself, declaring out loud, ”No. They want you to panic. They want you to lose faith. They want you to break. You are made of sterner stuff than them.” Crossing herself, she sat down at the bunk and heard footsteps.

Consuela then saw the door open. Inside came a somewhat thin young man whose skin had not seen the light of day in some time. He wore the uniform the others had, but he wore it somewhat roughly. He had spectacles upon his face, and a parcel. Consuela leapt up when she saw the contents--they were her clothes! Her weapon!

Running up to the man, Consuela seized her clothing from him, and smiled. They were her personal possessions. She put the items down and began to rifle through them with a keen eye. Her uniform--an old Mexican Federal Police uniform, repaired with leather patches--was there. Her helmet--one which resembled an old pre-Apocalypse PASGT--was there also. Her pocket Bible--a well-worn copy of the 1960 Reina-Valera translation was there. All of it, everything--there.

Consuela looked up at the man, who introduced himself as, ”Good evening, Captain Consuela Hijuelos. I am First Lieutenant Henry Petersen, Colonial Republican Navy. How are you doing today?”

Consuela raised her eyebrow. With an accusative gesture, she pointed at the Lieutenant, and challenged him.

You. You speak my language. You know who I am? How do you know these things? And where am I? And what Colonial Republic? Is this not the Americanadian Coalition?”

The Lieutenant raised his hands in a sheepish, defensive manner, and stepped back, saying as he paused, and tried to find the right words, ”Well...yes, I do speak your language. I learned it in school. They teach Spanish in the schools here. And this place is not the Americanadian Coalition. That being said I did read your file.”

Consuela nodded and inquired skeptically, ”My file? I, Captain Consuela Hijuelos am so well known as to have a file on me, gathered by foreign intelligence agencies? My deeds must have earned some renown.” With some curiosity, Consuela raised her eyebrow, and decided to test this man, to see if he knew her life as well as he claimed. One could never be too sure about the words and whims of others.

”I ask you then, what have I done?”

The Lieutenant thought for a minute, and then said, ”I know about your many campaigns, Coronel. For example, did you not lead an ambush on a force of Zapatistas three thousand strong, with naught but three hundred Special Dragoons in Chiapas? Did you not slay fifty of the foul, corrupted Kaibiles personally in hand to hand combat with a machete, in the Peten region, singlehandedly breaking an ambush? And did you not avenge the violated, defiled Sisters of the Poor by rescuing their Novitiates from the clutches of the Mara Salvatrucha?” Well? Or are you the liar?”

Consuela beamed proudly, for the man spoke truth. The memories flowed within her. Men with painted faces leaping out of the jungle, engaging her in a melee for the ages, the scent of blood, sweat, and visceral combat as fresh as the day it occurred. A Novitiate nun holding her close as Consuela leapt from a third story window to a zipline improvised from a clothesline, evading a group of thugs with Uzis as she assured the Novitiate that her honor would be safe this day. And finally, the chaos of battle as Consuela herself emptied magazine after magazine, urging on her fighters as Zapatista gunfire erupted and men threw green smoke bombs to tell the howitzer supporting them where to fire their shells. All of the fights hard, but worth the sacrifice.

Consuela nodded, and said, ”They teach you well, good Lieutenant. You speak not with the lazy, vulgar mannerisms of a peasant, but a firm man of culture. Perhaps the First Citizen has brought civilization to the world after all.” Smiling, Consuela asked, pointedly, ”Lieutenant, does the First Citizen still live? Do her descendants still reign over the fair lands of Mexico?”

The Lieutenant seemed to waver a bit, and said, ”About that....no. She has been dead a long time.”

Consuela stopped, her smile dissolving into a look of disbelief.

”This cannot be true. When I last slept, the First Citizen reigned and our glorious campaign was afoot! Tell me it is not so! Tell me the Union still lives!”

”Regretfully, it is not so,” the Lieutenant said with a shake of his head. ”The Union ended long ago, Captain. Jacinta and Elizabeta--they both died in the jungles of Paraguay, battling Argentinian forces. It’s 2301, currently.”

Consuela sat down, shocked by the news. No. It could not be. Was all her work for nothing? Was all the violence for nothing? Was all the struggle she had experienced merely to result in the whims of uncivilized men and benighted fools triumphing over all that which was holy, good, and wondrous in this world?

”No,” Consuela said to herself out loud. ”This cannot be how the story ends. The struggle to bring justice to the world...it cannot end how this man says it has ended.”

The Lieutenant, with a panicked look in his eyes, tried to speak. Consuela held out her hand to make him stop. As she did so, Consuela got up, and began pacing around the room. Everytime the officer began to talk, she would cut him off. It was rude, but necessarily so. She had no time for the prattle of a man who had not worked in his lifetime, by the looks of his complexion and physical character. She had to think for herself.

”No. This is indeed not how the story ends. There must be another explanation.”

Turning to the Lieutenant, Consuela said, inquisitively, ”Lieutenant, what year did you say it was?”

”2301?”

Consuela paused, pacing.

”Yes. 2301. When I had last entered my bunk, it was merely 2077. I was engaged in campaign in Guatemala. Part of the Special Dragoons team assigned to keep order in Guatemala City, working with a team of Mayan fighters--brave amateurs, but honest men all--and now I am here in this place, in 2301. Either I have gone mad, and am in a sanitarium, or the Lieutenant is lying to me--or….”

Consuela looked up at the Lieutenant, and for the first time, noticed his pistol belt. There was an unusual arm inside of it--it looked like a strange weapon that superficially resembled a pistol...but had a sleek form which resembled no firearm she was used to. She pointed at the weapon, and asked, ”Lieutenant, what is that weapon?”

The Lieutenant said, with hesitation, ”M7 Blaster Pistol. Fires a 100 shots from a power cell, uses an energy synthetic crystal based firing system.”

Consuela perked up. The existence of such a weapon--thought to be the mere realm of science fiction writers and fantasists--to someone like her meant only one thing. One very bizarre, yet sensible conclusion. One she blurted out loud.

”Saints preserve us! I’m in the future! I’ve traveled through time!”

The Lieutenant said, trying to say otherwise, ”Um...”

”No ums! This is miraculous! Man has never been able to travel through time before. It is a glorious day. And one which is indeed a miracle. But why have I come here? There had to be a reason I came!”

The Lieutenant spoke, with a tone which suggested he was growing alarmed and/or weary at the occasion, ”Look, Captain, we need to go--we’ve got to get you outfitted and ready for the field--”

”Field? Against what enemy? Communists? The foul heathens of the Santa Muerte or Jesus Malverde cults? Narcos and all those who thrive off of filth? Tell me!”

”A most foul enemy. The Welded, they are called. Monstrosities who merge man and machine together in a technomagical abomination. They seek to expand, and such is their power that they can affect even those with naught but the simplest of things such as dental implants. They have ravaged several worlds--”

Consuela stopped him with another raised hand, and declared, out of what appeared to be growing anger, ”Stay your tongue, Lieutenant. I have heard enough. It is clear now why I have been brought here.” Looking at the Lieutenant still, Consuela said, her speech growing with intensity, ”Direct me to your armory, good Lieutenant. I will need to draw arms and prepare for battle. Justice must be served.” Consuela then crossed herself, and bade the Lieutenant to wait outside while she changed.

***

Outside, Petersen sighed. He had meant to tell Consuela the truth--but her fervor got in the way. At least the replicators and the cosplay store had done their part in giving her clothing and gear appropriate to the specs he had written up in his game dialogue.

Now, all he had to do was to take Unit--er, Consuela, to the Quartermaster, and have her draw equipment and deploy with the other XQ-1 drones. Hopefully, they’d stand. Command wanted to test fire them soon--the Welded were on the march….
"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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Alexzonya
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Posts: 224
Founded: Aug 05, 2012
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Naomi, Part I

Postby Alexzonya » Thu Mar 14, 2019 2:35 pm

Republic of Naomi, Gamma Quadrant, Milky Way Galaxy
Admiral Delvin Hester, ARS Virtuoso, 44th Exploration and Patrol Group

[Corvettes coming in, 11 o’clock low!]
[On it, Chief.]
The exchange occurred at the speed of thought, facilitated by the GRA’s BattleNet. In the blink of an eye, the VI assistant generated a targeting solution, and the #4 Neutron Beam Array of the Virtuoso unloaded a series of quick bursts.The first Welded corvette in the target formation shuttered as the blasts caught it amidships. It went dead in space, the hulk rocketing past the Virtuoso as a point-defense railgun shredded it for good measure. Another corvette took a glancing hit, and broke off the firing run. The other two drew closer and unleashed their own torrent of coilgun fire, which lit brightly against the Virtuoso’s energy shields. The capital ship’s Distributed Aperture Laser Array (DALA) system targeted them for a moment, and a fine laser pulse blasted, in the course of a fraction of second, the last two corvettes from stem to stern before turning its attention back to enemy missiles closing from another angle.

The successes of the #4 Array was only a small part of the battle between the Welded invasion force and the GRA’s 44th EPG, which raged a fraction of an AU from Naomi 3 as the Alexzonyan Starfleet attempted to keep the Welded from entering orbit. They weren’t winning.

In the CIC of the Virtuoso, Admiral Hester winces as the BattleNet reports a catastrophic antimatter explosion a few light-seconds away, and one of the 44th’s Patrol Destroyers ceases to exist in entirety, disabled by enemy fire and then destroyed by a breach of its own antimatter fuel containment. The Alexzonyans were inflicting more than their share of losses on the Welded’s ramshackle war machine, but the enemy had reserves. The 44th didn’t.

The GRA ships stubbornly give ground. A spread of enemy missiles approaches, and the defenses can’t get all of them. Two approach the side of a GRA Cruiser, the ARS Avarice. Rather than collide or explode, they suddenly burst, sending a cluster of pods into the side of the hull at a survivable speed.

[Status report. Avarice, come in. What’s going on over there?]
[Some sort of ECM system. All of the communications from the Avarice are scrambled… standby…]
[ Virtuoso, this is… আমরা … re… আপনার মাংস… ure... মুক্ত করতে এসেছেন… ]
[What th মাংস মুক্ত]
[Batt রা আ faiছেন ]
[Discoমরা আপ]
[ আমরা আপনার মাংস মুক্ত করতে এসেছেন… ]
[ অজ্ঞতা এবং অবহেলা পাপ থেকে ]
[ অজ্ঞতা এবং অবহেলা পাপ থেকে ]
[ অজ্ঞতা এবং অবহেলা পাপ থেকে ]
The link fails. A moment later, the guns on the Avarice go silent.

[Avarice is no longer responding and has been marked disabled.]

Admiral Hester looks on in horror. So, this was Assimilation... but the battle continues. Another GRA ship befalls the same fate. The 44th tries to hold, guarding their own disabled vessels from being totally overtaken. And then…

The guns on the Avarice open up again, at point blank-range, targeting their former comrades. It only takes a few seconds, but suddenly the 44th’s escorts are sent reeling, as one explodes and another two stagger out of the battle line, disabled. The Virtuoso is engaged by several enemy ships, and the sudden loss of its starward screen is fatal as enemy frigates and destroyers flood the gap. The order is given to jump to FTL, as the tattered remnants of the squadron attempt to withdraw. The traitor Avarice stabs them once again; its FTL inhibitor systems were still active, and no longer synchronized with the rest of the fleet. Its former siblings die in that gravity well, and Naomi’s orbitals fall silent again as the Assimilated ships join their new family among the Welded. And then the invasion begins.
Last edited by Alexzonya on Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:09 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Alexzonya
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Founded: Aug 05, 2012
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Naomi, Part II

Postby Alexzonya » Sat Mar 23, 2019 11:38 pm

Republic of Naomi, Gamma Quadrant, Milky Way Galaxy
Admiral Janet Halsey, ARS Olympia, 5th Fleet Core, Task Group Bombard

[Entering realspace in 3… 2… 1…]

The leading elements of TG Bombard drop out of FTL 2 light-minutes from Naomi proper, with the entirety of the 5th and 12th Fleets flashing in shortly thereafter. The attached EPGs and two of the four Expeditionary Task Groups from TG Bombard had been separated from the group to reinforce the system defenses in other nearby sections of the Northeast Gamma Trade Network, but with the 10th and 13th ETGs attached the Alexzonyan counter-offensive numbered a full 800 warships, arrayed for battle.

Two light-minutes away, at Naomi, the Welded forces were arrayed. Something like 300 ships now, including two corrupted GRA ships (one frigate, one cruiser) from the 44th EPG.

[Raise interdiction to 0.5 AU. Tactical, read it.]

[Aye, ma’am. Targets number 306 hostile vessels, entirely consisting of Welded Force designated Alpha. Force Alpha is primarily deployed just outside the gravity well of Naomi Prime, with some elements inside supporting a series of landings on the surface. Naomi Republican Guard surface elements are still mounting limited resistance, but it appears that they’re having significant difficulties and that their starfaring elements were destroyed, possibly before the 44th EPG. Sensors… detect remnants of warships within the gravity well, some of which have composite types matching GRA warships. Two ships of the 44th are present with the primary combat elements of the Force Alpha, with visible signs of corruption.]

[Alright. All ears, Bombard. Our objective is the defense of the populace of the primary world. The Welded have already landed planetside, so we need to contain them as best we can. That starts with wiping out Force Alpha. We can’t send our own ground forces in, so after securing the orbitals we’re going to drop slugs down the gravity well and sterilize the LZs, to save the rest. The planet will be in rough shape after, so… Captain Kiralee, please contact Starfleet and request any transportation-configuration auxiliaries and personnel landers they can spare.]

[Aye, ma’am.]

[Admiral, Tactical. Force Alpha is maneuvering their forces, burning our direction. Looks like they mean to fight.]

[Very well. Formation commanders, deploy for fleet action.]

Some Time Later

Admiral Halsey silently rotates the model of the planet Naomi in her CIC, examining the disposition of the planetside Welded and the proposed bombardment patterns. Of 11 billion sapiants planetside, almost a third would be gone after the Alexzonyan slugs hit, between the damage the Welded had already done and the impact of the sterilization rounds. Halsey hesitates, her hand shaking, hovering over the “Approve” control. She closes her eyes, and presses the button. She feels her warships shutter a moment later, as the bombardment begins.

The space around Naomi was now filled with debris from the battle. Where there had been 306 Welded ships before, there were now 0; all had been destroyed or disable (and then destroyed, lest the corruption spread). Where 800 GRA warships had once stood, 403 were fully intact or mostly so; another 275 or so were damaged enough to need the services of a full Fleetyard, many of which had begun jumping back to friendly space already. 122 warships were gone. In her years of service, Halsey had never had a day like this. The fights against the Nyteborne had been of similar intensity at points, certainly, but Halsey hadn’t been one of the sailors fighting them; she had been held in reserve at Cabot with the rest of the 5th Fleet Core. Some of her supporting elements had deployed with Task Group Bombard when it was conducting anti-Dergh operations in the Veil of Tears; when the Welded struck at Naomi and destroyed the 44th EPG, she had been the Sky Marshall’s choice to reinforce and take command of Bombard and retake Naomi. She was beginning to wonder if anything would be left of the planet when this war ended.

“... ma’am?” She realizes that one of her watchstanders had been trying to get her attention.

“Yes, Lieutenant?”

“The first of the transports have jumped from Avalon. They should be here in a few hours.”

“Thank you. Have we heard from anyone planetside?”

“No, ma’am. Any part of the Naomi government that had survived the Welded was lost in the… containment protocol.”

“I guess that means it’s us then. Have fleet logistics start drawing up an evacuation plan. It’s going to take months to get all of them out of here, so the sooner we start…” She trails off.

“Yes ma’am. I’ll pass the request to your staff.”

“Very well…” She pauses. “I’m going off-duty for a while,” she finally decides. “Have Wiki page me if anything comes up.”

“Yes, Admiral,” chimes the AI, from the nearest terminal. Halsey turns and leaves the CIC, bound for her quarters. She would sleep for 11 hours straight, and no one wanted to be the one to disturb her.

Further Time Later

“The first transports are loaded and departing,” reports the watchstander, as Halsey watched the data feeds like a hawk. “No outward sign of corruption.”

“How are the locals handling things?”

“Some are openly hostile. Some want to get in the fight. Most are just shellshocked.”

“That’s about what I expected…” she pauses. “Wiki, how long has intelligence recommended on the quarantine?”

“12 hours, Admiral. They believe that will give the Marines on the transports enough time to finish checking for augmentation or any signs of corruption.”

“Very well. Thank you.”

A short time passes, an hour at most, because an urgent chirp comes in.

“Admiral, this is Colonel Arica. We’ve got a problem on Transport 4.”

“Go ahead Colonel.”

“Our Marines have stopped reporting in. This last transmission was… gibberish. Our translator couldn’t make heads or tales of it.”

“Damn. The Welded…”

“Ma’am, movement! Transports 2 and 4 are maneuvering!”

“Order the nearest destroyer group to engage them!”

“Aye, ma’am! Standby… Transport 4 is on a collision course with Transport 1. Transport 2 is heading for the main fleet formation… the Destroyer Walleye has opened fire on Transport 2. Transport 2 has been destroyed. The Cruiser Magnificent has opened fire on Transport 4. Transport 4 has been destroyed… wreckage from Transport 4 has struck Transport 1. Transport 1 has been destroyed… the weapons on Transport 3 are coming online… Transport 3 has engaged Magnificent with point defense. Magnificent has opened fire on Transport 3. Transport 3 has been destroyed... Situation stable.”

The CIC is silent.

Finally, someone says it, a science officer. “Damn… they’re outside the quarantined areas.”

There’s another silence.

Halsey pages her intelligence section. “Do we have a screening protocol in place for the Welded? Can we check them planetside?”

“No, ma’am. The reports from the Tezekians say that the assimilation field can stretch for miles. We can’t get close enough safely.”

Halsey ends the transmission abruptly and connects with Colonel Arica.

“Colonel, all of your men from the surface…”

“Were in quarantine on the transports, Admiral,” Arica replies, softly.

“Thank you,” replies Halsey, brusquely. “Stand down, Colonel. Get some rest…”

“No ma’am. I’d rather stay on station.”

“Very well, Colonel. Serve with honor.” Halsey cuts that connection, and this time turns to tactical officer.

“...Commander, this whole planet is a write-off. We can’t get anyone off, and the corruption is just getting stronger below.”

“... Admiral Halsey… I would formally suggest we use a Nova bomb.” Silence reigns again.

“... very well, Commander. Make the necessary preparation.”

Yet Further Time Later

“Ignition on my Mark...3 … 2 … 1…. Mark.”

Admiral Halsey breathes sharply as Naomi suddenly catches fire, the atmosphere igniting in a white-hot blaze as the GRA’s Nova Bombs execute their task with finality. The attempt to save anyone at all from the planet had failed, and all that remained below was disaster. The decision had been made to end the conflict here definitely, leaving no Welded alive below to menace the Alexzonyans in the future. So, Naomi burned; the viewscreen showed the crust beginning to crack. At the end of the inferno, all the would be left would be the charred, airless remains of a rockball orbiting in the habitable zone.

“What now, Admiral?” asks a melodic, synthetic voice, softly.

“We try to save the rest, Wiki.”

“Can we?”

Admiral Halsey blinks. Sometimes these AI snuck up on you. “We have to.”

Halsey turns, and presses fleetwide communications. “Formation commanders, prepare to jump for Leos in 15 minutes. We’ve just received word that the Entitlement has agreed to support our deployment to their sector. We’re going to keep this from happening again. Halsey out.”
Last edited by Alexzonya on Sun Mar 24, 2019 9:13 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Olimpiada » Sat Mar 30, 2019 9:50 am



Fujimori’s World, Kytheon-449
FWOS Shinsekai, Nautikos VII Gaia



Colony recovery details, vengeance strikes, bug hunts, whatever one called them, were the least favorite part of Fleet Admiral Caius Memor’s job. Arriving in orbit to clear out whatever enemy force had collapsed the colony below, scavenge whatever was left, and wait for the next attempt to arrive. A sickening cycle of death and reanimation again and again and again.

Despite his distaste for the job, he went on to do it. The Nautikos was assembled, they made the jump to Fujimori’s World, and discovered exactly nothing.

“Sensors, try it again. Colonies don’t just die out of nowhere. This isn’t exactly Roanoke.” There was bound to be some Izirian drones or somesuch wandering the ground below or the skies above. It wasn’t like any of the locals to burn a colony and then abandon the effort entirely.

“Still nothing. Some station and shipping debris in the rings shows signs of struggle, but those are mostly unharmed. Same goes for Portus Clement and outlying settlements. The whole place is just silent.” Arataka was a good operator, Memor knew from past experience. Odds were, he wouldn’t have botched the job. It was easier to just chalk the entire thing up to an incursion by an unknown force and let a CACO investigative team take over from here to sort things.

“Right. CIC to Engineering, spin up the blink drive. I’ll handle the paperwork and then we’ll get going.”

“Aye sir.” With that response from the other end of the ship, he pushed off from his chair and drifted up the ladder to his personal quarters. Inside, he sat at his cramped plastic desk working at his computer and wondering why it was still called paperwork if paper was hardly even used by wealthy eccentrics these days. A hail from CIC alerted him to something new happening.

“Memor here, what is it?”

“The Isabellae and the Charybdis just disconnected from the fleet network. Hailing doesn’t work either.” Shit. Always something. He shook his head.

“Got it, I’ll be back down to CIC shortly. Get Weapons on targeting solutions for them across the fleet and keep hailing them.”

Newjack and Centurion aren’t confirming those commands either, sir.” Shit. He made it into the CIC, not bothering to sit down. He thought better on his feet anyway.

“Anything we should know about the crews on those ships, Intel?” He hoped it wasn’t mutiny. On the bright side, that would at least be easy to explain.

“Nothing unique, sir. The Hermes-class vessels tend to have fairly stable crews due to their… uncommon mission requirements.” Hermes-class. Fast light cruisers meant to accelerate at suicidally high speeds. The only way they stayed piloted was when the highly augmented crew was jacked into virtual reality while their bodies lost consciousness. His eyes widened in horror.

“Battlestations throughout the fleet, now! I want hulls vented, suits on, and every ship left to cut radio comm reception. I don’t care if they need to use a fucking thermite bomb to do it. We’ll stick to quantum only from here out. Move!” A viral strike was always a possibility considered by the OFN, but not-

Paperhouse, Annul, Tachi, all nonresponsive sir!” -one they ever seriously considered. Exploits over simple tightbeam and wideband comms were regarded as a relic of the past, and their software and hardware had been tested thouroughly to ensure it was free of them. Not free enough, it seemed. And then, the voice came, shattering what little calm still held the world together.

আনন্দ! আপনার উন্নতির ঘন্টা এখানে! (1)”

Iron, Impetus, Carapace-”

ভয় কোরো না, কারণ তোমার মাংসের দুর্বলতা মুছে ফেলা হবে! (2)”

“Open fire dammit, open fire!”

“Incoming missiles from across the ring, at least two hund-”

আপনার চোখ খুলুন, ঐক্য আলিঙ্গন, এবং দেখুন! (3)”

“FUCK, MY ARM!”

“Warning, onboard biometrics malfunctioning. It is advised for-”

“Shit, Theo’s got ceramic spikes coming out everywhere. This is fucked man, this is really-”

“-all affected personnel to seek attention in the medical bay as soon as permissible.”

“Breach the reactor, decks seven through thirteen are full of some kind of-”


আরোহন! আরোহন! আরোহন! আরোহন! (4)”

“We’ve got fire suppression failures in machine shops eight and eleven!”

“Will someone fucking do something?”

Silence.



Cobalt, Gaia
Locket-7 Arcology, Cobalt Ascendancy Headquarters, Offices of Odessa Eliopolou



A teal painted nail pressed a button on a polished glass tablet, and the cacophony of a dying ship stopped. A wisp of steam curled up from a still untouched coffee mug on the low table between the two seats. A fish tank by the window gurgled. Dioscorus released a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding in.

Across the table, Eliopolou looked back with the sort of calm that had to have been practiced from multiple listenings, for no human could have listened to that without feeling something, anything. “I just heard a fleet die.” It wasn’t even an attempt at a question.

“Forty-eight vessels, all lost in roughly five minutes of pitched combat with an unknown force carrying strong viral capabilities and surprisingly advanced weapons. The black box logs were sent by quantum link to OFN headquarters on Triumvirate. It was elected to keep the video for another time.” Dioscorus held down the urge to vomit, and the rich, acidic scent of the coffee suddenly seemed less appealing than ever.

“That’s terrible. What do you expect me to do about it? I don’t own a fleet, and even if I did, it would apparently be pointless to use.”

“I don’t need you to own a fleet, Mr. Vitalion. Your other assets are far more valuable.” She looked at him with shark eyes, the sort only possessed by someone who had entirely replaced her ethics with progress and had never thought twice about it. He suppressed a shudder.

“Come on, they’re refugees. Hardly trained enough for a proper anomalous investigation.”

“They’re as powerful as cyborgs, but not cyborgs. And they certainly have some skills from before their tenure on Nova Varangia that would be useful here.”

“Just because I’ve got a bunch of wizards sitting around doesn’t mean they’re a great military unit at all. Their tactics, strategies, and training methods are by and large fifteen hundred years out of date. I cannot stress enough how unprepared they are. At least wait until we have the growth tanks figured out so we can start from scratch on them.” Already, he could tell that his pleas were falling on deaf ears. It was only a question of how exactly she would force the issue in her next words.

“I’ve got an in with the Kawaharas.” There it was. The tension fell out of his body as he realized he had lost. “They’ve been contracting with us to design their new lineup of floating cities. They also own your planet, and are responsible for upkeep of your facilities along the Xishoi. Get going on that training, or you might have some problems ever trying again. Hop to, Commander.”



1) Rejoice! The hour of your improvement is here!
2) Fear not, for the frailties of your flesh shall be removed!
3) Open your eyes, embrace unity, and See!
4) Ascend! Ascend! Ascend! Ascend!
Hyper-commodified cocaine capitalism. Urbanized solar systems. Omnixenophobia. War economy without end. Radical body augmentation for fun and profit.

I make exactly two exceptions from a fairly strict adherence to realism, and hate them both.

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Postby Olimpiada » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:51 pm



Fujimori’s World, Kytheon-449
FWOS Anxious Object, OAC SOG Kaunaz-3



Silence. It permeated everything in this system. Nothing made a peep beyond the universe at its borders and the star at its core. An empty shell of dead radio bands. Exactly the same as recovered by the Shinsekai before it fell to the… whatever that was in this system. It and Nautikos VII Gaia still floated here. Friendly IFF tags still marked those thirty-three that still remained. Their graphene hulls still reflected dull grey thousands of kilometers away, their radiators glowing the dull red of reactor standby. Each exposed missile tube was an eye socket, its absence peering with dreadful intent at those who dared to intrude upon its grave.

Dioscorus stared back across the empty thousands of kilometers at the dead hulk of the Shinsekai. From here it was little more than a dark spot above the tan wastes of the Asphodel Desert. Beneath that, though he could not see it, he knew there was Portus Clement. Despite himself, he felt there was cause to worry. He entirely lacked augments, as did his Varangian Guard detachment, but there was still the nagging worry at the back of his head that something would go wrong. It just hadn’t yet.

He pressed his finger onto a glass panel next to his desk. “Oström, get us an intercept with the Shinsekai. Eklund, get your squad ready for an extravehicular action.” Across the ship, one man kicked in the thrusters giving the ship an easy tenth of a gee’s thrust. He had picked up the skills of modern spaceflight with surprising ease, despite the extreme differences between it and his previous job. Piloting a Valfisk was a whole lot of loose “feeling” business with few hard calculations involved. The pilot used a network of magical sensors to get a good mental image of where everything in the system was, and then guided the vessel at a constant velocity to it using a reactionless drive. The Auri-Kawa Taiho-4 he was flying right now was instead a wholly less organic affair, with the pilot wrestling changing velocities and precise sensors on the fly, constantly checking velocity, remaining delta-v, and distance the entire time. Dioscorus had once asked him about it. He said that he “liked a challenge”. Dioscorus didn’t understand it at all. He decided to head down to the armory to see how the away team was doing.

It was a short trip down. The ship was only some twenty meters long internally, so the fall through the ladder to the airlock deck halfway down the ship only felt like one meter. He landed with a dull thump against steel floor plates covered in anti-spalling fabric. Down the hall, Eklund and one of his men were conversing in fluent Swedish, which Dioscorus did his best to follow. Unfortunately, a translation implant would have been impractical, which meant that he was left leading forces whose language he barely spoke. As best as he followed it, the line was something about a golden tooth and getting “unreasonably high pay” from the utlanders they worked for now. The two chuckled. Dioscorus rolled his eyes. “How goes the prep?” he asked in Latin. No sense in keeping them on different linguistic pages.

“Not badly. These armors you have us wear are… rather sophisticated. We have trained with them in the past, but they are unusual.” Dioscorus took a look at the label on the locker he was drawing metal from. It was an Aegis Mk. I-EV, an adaptation of the heavy infantry standard Mk. I for combat in zero gee environments. The heavy 12.7 millimeter railgun had been replaced with a conventional 20 millimeter recoilless rifle, and the wavelengths of the defensive lasers had been shortened in order to be more effective at long range in hard space. Shield arms hung limply on the back of its maneuvering pack, while a panel on the inside of the right arm blinked a warning that there wasn’t a belt in the ammunition box on the back. Dioscorus knew the machine well, having used one some ten years prior as a Spatial Corps marine. Despite this, he voiced his agreement.

“They’re not too bad once you get used to them, and they’ll certainly keep you alive through most anything. The ground models were tested initially by walking them through fresh nuclear blast craters.” Eklund gave him a quizzical look, prompting him to translate the concept of nuclear arms into broken Swedish. The man nodded grimly.

“I suppose I do recall something like that from the war. Glass pits filled with poison air where there were once villages.” The air between them grew silent quickly. The moment which could have redirected the conversation elsewhere passed as Dioscorus missed the cue. Eklund picked it up without much complaint, though the room still felt awkward. “So, Lundholm here was just telling me about the gold tooth he just got to replace the old stone one. Isn’t that right?”

“Aye. How do you lot manage to afford all the gold and gems you pay us with anyhow? This is way better than anything we made before as soldiers.” Dioscorus decided to dance around just how cheap asteroid mined gold and synthetic diamonds actually were, as well as the actual value of the drachmas they were transferred every two weeks, and gave a slightly different reply.

“Well, the work you’re doing here is a lot more intense than anything the Pentons had you doing. The main purpose of the Office of Anomalous Containment is to keep track of and eliminate things which can’t be explained via magic or science. Basically, it’s like the Aesir but on a less intense scale, God willing. It’s worth a little extra cost for your expertise.”

“Right, that’s why we’re so worked up over these half-machine types.”

“Cyborgs. And yes, there’s something here which destroys them somehow, and we’re investigating. If we’re lucky, it’s something that can be explained with conventional science, making a countermeasure much more simple.” Eklund nodded. Being a squad leader, he had taken the time to acquaint himself with the mission more completely than his thaumaturges had.

As if set off on cue by a bored writer living in the hinterlands of Old Terra, the right half of Lundholm’s head exploded in a torrent of golden muscle fibers. Gore and skull fragments showered Dioscorus as he threw himself to the deck. The golden fibers wrapped back around into his orifices rapidly, lodging there. Eklund was still standing, and was frantically muttering a spell. A cluster of runic tattoos along his cheekbone lit up green as he cast his spell. At this range, the accuracy was perfect. A small point of heat appeared inside Lundholm’s mouth, burning hotly but only for a moment. It was enough to vaporize the water in his tongue, turning into high pressure steam which simultaneously blew off his jaw and fired a jet into his brain cavity which turned the grey matter there into a soup.

Dioscorus choked down his vomit. “What the actual fuck…” The action had happened in the blink of an eye, before he could even find a gun. He felt useless, despite there having been nothing he could have done.

Eklund chose to answer his non-question. “Apparently the anomaly’s definition of ‘augment’ is different from ours.”




The remaining fifteen members of Kaunaz-3 were gathered in the hold in a circle. At its center was a blue vacuum sealed body bag tagged with fluorescent metaphysical inhibitor enchantments and biohazard tags. Lundholm’s remains.

Some of them clutched at their shoulders where their IFF tags had been embedded and subsequently torn out before any more casualties could strike the crew. Another rubbed his jaw where a filling had been torn out. They were taking no chances.

As the commanding officer and outsider, Dioscorus decided to break the silence. The mission still had to go on regardless of casualties. “We still have a job to do. The boarding is happening at 1200 tomorrow. Emotional stabilizers and trauma suppressants are available in the medbay. There will be plenty of time to grieve when we’re finished here. Dismissed.” The crowd floated off across the ship to get to work.




The remainder of the day, the night, and the beginning of the next passed without anything of note occurring. The Anxious Object and Shinsekai flew around the planet twelve times in their high and eccentric orbits, watching vast deserts, seas, and ice caps pass below in an endless succession. It was against this backdrop, far over the planetary south pole, that a dozen men floated through the black of space and onto the hulk of the Shinsekai. Given that this operation would now be made wholly uninteresting by Dioscorus’s perspective back on the Anxious Object, we now shift to the thoughts, feelings, and ideas of one Olaf Eklund, a refugee of Midgard, and current second-in-command of OAC Special Operations Group Kaunaz-3.

Against the inside of his armored faceplate, IFF tags and highlights appeared for the other eleven people in his squadron. He could hardly see them without the augmented reality overlay of course; their armor was painted vantablack for camouflage, rendering them nearly invisible in the void. They each glid silently, coasting the remaining hundred meters before their counterburn to access Airlock 37 and board the ship.

“Weird out here, no?” asked one of the troops. Radio discipline was not necessary at this stage in the mission; tightbeam links kept their communications secure from the outside world, allowing them to chat freely.

“Sure is,” replied another. “Come a long way these last years. All the way out from Midgard, halfway across the galaxy, and now right back into the gaping maw of death. Shit’s great.” The last comment contained little sarcasm. Asvaldsson had always been something of an odd duck, and the trauma suppressants were doing little to prevent that right now. Each and every one of them was presently running a regimen of drugs allowing them to fight without fear, pain, or fatigue. Those that made it back would feel like the survivors of a wrestling match with an ill-mannered and steroid addicted björnkin, but the combat benefits made the tradeoff worthwhile.

Eventually, the pale shadow of the Shinsekai grew larger and larger in the distance until it was finally an object, and not merely a dark spot against Fujimori’s World.The rotary hubs of the warship’s powerful Longinus guns jutted noticeably out from the cylindrical profile while the mounts of over four dozen defensive beams studded the hull sporadically. If they had been reactivated, the entire group would have known the day prior when they cut the ship to ribbons in a flurry of ultraviolet pinpricks of light slashing through their hull. “We’re on wideband from here on out, radio is only to be used for mission essentials. Active feeds back to Commander Vitalion will be handled via periodic video data dumps. Remember, our objectives here are to retrieve whatever remains of Admiral Memor, secure any data added since the incident, and then prime the vessel for remote detonation. Adelsköld, Overbey, you’re on breaching. The rest of us will watch the entry point. Go.”

Ten people floated away from the door while the other two applied a nanothermite based gel line to the outside of it. They formed up in a half dome formation, rifles pointed at the airlock as it lit up in a pair of bright flashes which moved as they traced an outline. Molten steel floated away from the burn, but nothing exploded; the ship had been decompressed for combat before falling, so no atmosphere was in the hull. This was also why Kaunaz-3 had to perform a destructive breach: the ship’s EWAR security systems were in full tilt, which meant that it refused any commands which came from outside the vessel.

They floated inside with standard zero gee protocol, each orienting himself to a slightly different angle as a personal “down” and proceeded to breach and clear each room as they went. What they saw as they did so was uniquely appalling.

In some of these rooms, mostly maintenance chambers for the internal fuel flows, failed cyborgs floated in waiting. Their hijacked systems had been redesigned for the lack of gravity, and while the biological components were grey and frozen, their mechanical parts had grown and consumed more of their bodies. From carbon reinforced bones and implanted perimeter networks sprung threads of metal filament, clinging to the walls and maneuvering with them, their disused bodies screaming pleas with throats long gone raw within broken vacuum suits to a void which dared not hear them.

Invariably they attacked, their bloodshot eyes wide with rage at what they had become, fixated against their will on the interlopers. Icy hands and silvery threads lashed out, only to be beaten back by storms of rifle fire. The weapon Eklund was carrying was a twenty millimeter recoilless flechette carrier. At long range it was excellent; the rifle would launch a small canister of flechettes, which would use millimeter radar and thermals to detect targets and neutralize them by firing off swarms of murderous little razor edged needles and monomolecular shards to tear them to shreds. At close range, it was less elegant. The tube struck the unfortunate astronaut like a bus, hurling her into the back wall with its continued thrust even as it discharged its payload, murderous streaks of metal flying away from the body and then remembering to fall back into the gaps in its armor. Bubbles of blood floated in the cabin as the thrusters finally burned their last, leaving a shredded mass of viscera and metal plastered against the wall.

Eklund tried not to vomit. That was the second one inside of twenty-four hours.

In adjacent cabins, other soldiers did the same. One shot, one excessively messy kill. Fortunately, there was no need to clean up after themselves. They kept on in this manner, systematically clearing cabin by cabin, expending round after round and expanding abomination after abomination. There was no need to risk a flanking attack when they had exactly one egress point, after all. After the twentieth room cleared in this manner, the ship started vibrating. No one noticed at first. After all, they were floating, and none saw a need to touch the ground directly, despite their magnetic boots. It was when Overbey saw blood droplets floating off of a freshly painted wall that he realized it was in accordance with a pattern. He broke radio silence to share the detail. “Eklund, we’ve got some sort of rhythmic pattern going on here.” He took an audio sample with a contact microphone, and transmitted it to his leader. His leader, unsure of its origins, sent back a message to Commander Vitalion.

Code: Select all
- .... . / .... --- .-.. -.-- / ..- -. .. --- -. / --- ..-. / ..-. .-.. . ... .... / .- -. -.. / ... - . . .-.. / -... . / .--. .-. .- .. ... . -.. -.-.-- / ..-. .-. . ... .... / -.-. --- -. ...- . .-. - ... -.-.--


A moment passed, and then another. The message came back. “This is Commander Vitalion. Be advised, the enemy knows you are here. Proceed as usual.”

Code: Select all
THE HOLY UNION OF FLESH AND IRON BE PRAISED! FRESH CONVERTS!
Last edited by Olimpiada on Thu Apr 25, 2019 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Hyper-commodified cocaine capitalism. Urbanized solar systems. Omnixenophobia. War economy without end. Radical body augmentation for fun and profit.

I make exactly two exceptions from a fairly strict adherence to realism, and hate them both.

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Postby Olimpiada » Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:40 pm



Fujimori’s World, Kytheon-449
FWOS Anxious Object, OAC SOG Kaunaz-3



In silent halls of anti-spalling fabric and graphene superstructure, the ship spoke. To whom or to what was not known, nor was the reason for which it did so. But it spoke nonetheless, with terrible purpose. Frankly, it scared the shit out of Eklund.

This was not something he felt the need to express. Centuries old hypermasculine viking culture and a deep rooted pack alpha mentality floated around his backbrain, assembling themselves into a will to not freak out as much as he wanted to. He couldn’t even tell if the others were experiencing the same crisis. Their faceplates were as opaque as his. “Team, be advised: The vibrations through the ship are not relevant to our mission. We will ignore them for the time being. In the meanwhile, we move to our first objective. Let’s go.”

The CIC, where Admiral Memor had last been known, was roughly five hundred meters up the hull from their current location. Incidentally, it was also a good location to access the ship’s computer banks from, potentially preventing an unnecessary detour into the main hub of that system which was in a different part of the vessel entirely. Unfortunately, there was another fifty meters of painstaking room clearing between their current location and there. Every room along the hallway held a new and exciting example of failed matings between life and its inventions.

Eklund had just finished dispatching a sailor with clusters of what looked like tinfoil mushrooms expanding out of his now empty chest cavity when they reached the elevator. The plan was originally to take it up, but a dozen soldiers in full EVA combat gear were hardly compact, making it exceedingly difficult to do so. Eventually, one drew his monomolecular edged utility knife, really just an overgrown box cutter, and then slashed the cable inside the tube before moving the car out of the way using a spell to superheat the insulation foam inside its ceiling, making it burn off as a gas and then send it down on a slow two kilometer fall to the bottom of the ship.

The boarding party floated inside the elevator and proceeded to walk toward the CIC. There was little risk of maneuverable enemies here, as doors were few and far between, and tended not to open without undue force that they doubted the enemy would provide. After all, their experience had been that the aberrations lacked much of if any capacity for conscious thought, and would rather easily fall when subjected to any pressure. As they went, they were all within line of sight, enabling tightbeam links to work properly once more.

“So, what the hell are we up against exactly? Even the Aesir didn’t pull that business on us,” said one.

“It’s an anomaly that warps cybernetic technology into-” began another. Mercifully, his reiteration of their briefing was cut short by an interruption.

“Glad you can quote Vitalion, Harald. I’m more interested in how they do it. If we knew that, it’d make our jobs a lot easier.” This sparked some debate among the troops.

“It’s obviously magic.”

“That’s bullshit dude, our metaphysical inhib sigils would have taken it out.”

“Might not be our magic either.”

“Oh yeah smart guy? Then whose? The Zekes?”

“What if it’s actual gods?”

“Tell me where the hell they were at Midgard, weren’t any gods there that I could see.” The final one was Eklund. The words surprised him, and had the unintended effect of quieting the group. Rather than regarding the situation as uncomfortable, he took it as an opportunity to assert his control over the conversation. “Doesn’t matter why this… thing works. That’s for the eggheads back in Creta to dope out. We’ve just got to do our assigned mission. Focus.” They continued their walk in silence.

When they reached the end, they disabled their mag boots, floating into a breaching formation once again. Their pointman pressed an emergency release on the inside of the elevator door, and they floated inside once more, spreading out into the room and changing their orientations in the same breath. What they saw shocked them.

The inside of an Olimpiadan CIC was a practical affair. In the center sat a holographic table to facilitate the easy viewing of tactical data by all inside the room. Rows of chairs and consoles were in raised rows around it, allowing some twenty people to work at maximum capacity. Debris was kept out of the aisles, and holographic clutter was restrained to each person’s workstation.

These sensibilities had been done away with entirely.

The central table had been filled with a pile of bodies. They still writhed, to some extent. Individually, they were struggling masses of men who could not move, with fiber optic cables from the table woven into their bodies seemingly at random. As a whole, they formed a throne of glowing glass and flesh, with entrails stretching off in ropes to meet data ports around the room.

Seated atop this mass was the nearly unrecognizable mass of Admiral Memor. The carbon reinforcements in his bones had grown into crystalline clusters reminiscent of quartz and bismuth. In some places they had torn at his flesh, rendering it down to the bone. In others they had overgrown, their cubic and hexagonal structures branching and reaching to wrap around the squirming mass beneath them and fuse into their veins of fiber. In all cases, they were pitch black. They reflected nothing in the red emergency lights. Almost ponderously, Memor turned to face them. His helmet had been torn off by a particularly large growth of crystal from his shoulder, allowing them to see his face clearly. The smile it wore was filled with pure, unconditional love.

“No way we’re getting that off, boss,” commented Overbey. The drugs kept them all stable, but Eklund felt as surely as they did that fear lurked not far beneath the chemical barriers maintaining their psyches.

“Decapitate him, then. It’s the best we’ve got,” he replied.

“Aye sir.” A spell was cast, and Overbey’s knife began to vibrate rapidly as he floated over and began to saw through the hard carbon and soft flesh of the neck. Later review of their suit camera footage would reveal that the admiral never stopped smiling, and maintained eye contact as best as possible despite Overbey’s opaque faceplate. After a few moments more, the head came free, and the ship screamed.

Screaming is not an accurate way to describe the ship’s actions, merely a concise one. It was as if a thousand nails were scratching on chalkboard, as if a million rabbits were being killed, as if a billion Mayan death whistles sounded at once, all inside the conflicts of each soldier’s head. Despite their treatments, they screamed back.

“EVAC, NOW!” yelled Eklund the moment he regained the ability to hear his own thoughts. Memor’s head was shoved into an enchanted biohazard bag and sealed. “Broadband is cleared, we don’t have time to fuck around anymore. Move!” The team obliged.

“Vitalion speaking, what just happened down there?” The radio connection crackled, even though it was rated as crystal clear anywhere within a hundred kilometers. That was a bad sign.

“The ship screamed at us. We’re evacuating right now.”

“What do you mean screamed?”

“I have no other way to describe it. We need a route of fastest egress stat.” Command obliged, and a green line lit up their AR displays. They chased it toward Airlock 05 burning at full throttle as they went. In every cabin along the way, newly roused forms of the abomination exited into the hallway, seeking to stop the interlopers. Exhaust trails glowed crimson in the light as carriers flew down the hallway, sending fluid and shrapnel every which way. Battle cries born from somewhere deep and primal in human ancestry filled the airwaves as they rushed. Adelsköld, their pointman, fired a series of thermite breaching grenades ahead of them toward the airlock, periodically sending them bits of magical guidance to avoid accidents at corners. The shattered airlock doors met them, and they fell into space.

Eleven crimson painted and scarred space suits flew out of the hold, briefly firing braking thrusters to form up as a group and watch the airlock. Eklund made a headcount as they did so, realizing that they were one short. “Where’s Lindblom? Is his transponder broken?”

“No sir,” came one’s voice in reply. “He’s still in there.” A use of the suit’s zoom function showed that this was correct, and that Lindblom’s beacon was still flashing unmoving some fifty meters back inside.

“Damn. We leave him. There’s no way we can go back there.” He opened a channel to the Anxious Object. “Command, we are presently unable to complete our mission. Requesting evacuation ASAP.” He tried to let the tension out of his body. Around him, others were doing the same. Eleven special operations soldiers, all covered in the best heavy combat armor their nation could muster, all trained in thaumaturgy, all to the end that their mission half failed and they lost a man. He shook his head and began the flight back to the Anxious Object.
Hyper-commodified cocaine capitalism. Urbanized solar systems. Omnixenophobia. War economy without end. Radical body augmentation for fun and profit.

I make exactly two exceptions from a fairly strict adherence to realism, and hate them both.

The Anchorage, for discussion of all things FT

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New Dornalia
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Left-Leaning College State

Postby New Dornalia » Fri Apr 26, 2019 9:20 pm

OOC: Part 1 of 2. The usual content warnings apply, esp. as this gets pretty graphic. Viewer discretion is advised.

IC:

Michael’s World
Somewhere on the edge of New Kazakhstan County
CRE


Babushka’s Fine Meats was a fine regional meatpacking shop. Purveyor of some of the finest sausages, chops, and steaks around, it had something the big shops like Tyrol Foods and McIntee’s Tribble Farms didn’t. Good ol’ fashioned regional identity and know how.

The rather large slaughterhouse the M893 MRAP was pulling up to certainly showed all the signs. Kitschy images of Cossacks and Cowboys doing the squat dance. Miners and ranchers working the land, jovially salivating at the prospect of consuming a big steak or one of Babushka’s famous pelmeni--now in Beef Broccoli flavor. The images were now bathed in the glow of red and blue police lights, however. The access ways were taped off with yellow tape and barriers erected. Men and women with shotguns, powered exoskeletons, and so on were patrolling the grounds.

And, most ominously, the men and women inside the vehicle all donned T-51 series power armor. The armor of the squad inside--much like the M893’s outside--was a shade of OD green, with the Russo-American tin star of the New Kazakhstan County Sheriff’s Department on full display, along with the yellow letters “Specialized Response Team”. The armor of the SRT policemen inside however, was bedecked with further sigils. Badge numbers on the pauldrons of the armor. A small logo, with the Greek letter Alpha, superimposed over the scales of justice, a six-shooter and a pretentious motto which stood for “Justice Prevails.” They all had weapons of various sorts--blasters, Model 918 SAWs chambered in 5mm Tezekian, arms which could suddenly deploy portable bucklers made of territanium alloy, etc. More like warriors than law enforcement officers, but SRT was usually called for serious situations.

Sitting amongst them was a young woman, with an OD green windbreaker over the usual Russo-American inspired uniform of the Sheriff’s Department, including an M1 Helmet and a powered exoskeleton. The windbreaker had at the back “POLICE--SRT”. She wore no special suit, not openly. She had wolves’ ears and a tail. The woman also possessed a small satchel marked “HAZMAT”. A gunbelt also could be seen, with a particularly prominent phaser. Her ID identified the woman as Lieutenant Paulina Ivanova Goncharova.

And this was indeed quite the situation.

Goncharova would be greeted by the tall, bearded man running the cordon, who stood there in a Stetson hat and Russian-esque greatcoat giving orders, turned to the Lieutenant and the squad, who saluted him. Goncharova stepped forward and said, “Captain Pauling, I presume?”

“You presume correctly, Lieutenant.” Turning to the Lieutenant, Pauling then acknowledged them all with a nod, and declared, “And if you’re presuming you’re here because something bad’s occurred? Yeah, you presume correctly there too.”

Pointing to a holographic map of the Babushka’s Meats plant, Pauling then said simply, “We got the call a little bit ago. Local cops were called in to break up some sort of fight at the plant. Some sort of rioting, hysteria--whatever it was, there were no survivors. Except one guy, Sergeant Petersen.”

The image of a stern looking man with a crew cut appeared--a model policeman, physically, if there ever was one. Next to the man’s headshot was an image of the same man--grainy footage from a videophone, with growths on the man’s face, his face contorted into a pained, maddened expression, as if the metal was eating his face alive. Pauling added, “Well, this gentleman didn’t survive for long. He urged the local cops to call for backup, and then promptly offed himself by leaping into a pasteurization chamber--like the kind they use for canned meats--screaming about how something got into his eyes.”

Goncharova’s eyebrow raised in a curious, frightened manner--subtle of course--as Pauling then added, “Right. After that, we took over. Set up a cordon. Been attempting to make contact with people inside. No one’s been replying, and we’ve been diverting people away from the complex. Don’t want any more casualties.”

Goncharova then asked, “That’s where we come in?”

“Correct.”

Pointing to the map, Pauling continued, moving his hand over the holographic model, with projected paths, etc.

“I’ve got three SRT Teams. Bravo and Charlie are set up at different wings of the complex. They’ve been given this briefing already. You’ll go in through the front. You all will make entry into the building, and attempt to sweep the place for hostiles. Record what you see, rescue any survivors for medical care, and apprehend/subdue any violent individuals. All clear signal will be given once all sides of the complex are secure. I’ve got men and women patrolling the outside here, so if anything runs, we’ll deal with it.” Pausing, Pauling asked, “Any questions?”

A silence fell over the group, and Pauling said, “I’ve got a live feed from the command van. And I’ll be on the horn if you need me. Get ‘er done.”

With that, everyone nodded and got into position. Goncharova did so, and yet she had a sense of dread. What was that on Petersen’s face? And what drove him to boil himself alive? Something told her she had to know..but something else told her that it might be a better idea just to destroy whatever was inside.

***

It was easy enough kicking down the door to Babushka’s. The pointman of the SRT Team, with a mighty boot, slammed his power armored foot into the door, sending it flying off its sturdy looking hinges with a single blow.

The men and women soon began to enter the complex, their weapons at low ready. There were flickering lights--enough to avoid having to use NVGs, but not enough to really provide illumination. So far, things seemed relatively calm and quiet. All they could see were the usual trappings of industry. Workers’ compensation safety posters. Labor law posters. Reminders to be safe. Ads for the Union picnic on Tuesday.

Past the main security checkpoint--now disused--more signs of struggle could be seen. Chairs and tables could be seen thrown about. Some of the signs and posters were torn off the walls. A deadly, eerie quiet filled the area, as the team transitioned from the lobby into the hallways.

The team split into two four man sections, with a few hand gestures. As they advanced into the hallways, the pointman of each fireteam began calling out.

“SHERIFF”S DEPARTMENT! WE’RE HERE TO HELP!”

So far, no reply.

Individual rooms were checked. Doors were gently pushed open. Lights shone in where no light was found. Yet, it was all more the same. Signs of struggle. Desks kicked over. Papers strewn about.

But no bodies. None. And Goncharova reported as such to the others.

“Bravo Leader, Charlie Leader, Overwatch, this is Alpha Leader. No signs of bodies. So far, looks like signs of struggle. Property damage, mostly. The odd blood spot on the wall. But otherwise, nothing. Bravo, Charlie--SITREP?”

The other two units chimed in.

“Charlie Leader here. Got nothing so far. Just property damage. Nothing yet.”

“Bravo Leader. Same. Over.”

As she did so, Goncharova’s face looked somewhat skeptical as she examined the area. This wasn’t the usual sort of rioting. One would think there would be the dead and dying. More blood splatter. More violence. Graffiti on the walls. But so far, nothing. This was just peculiar.

Inspecting one office, Goncharova opened the door slowly, and called out, “SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT! ANYONE INSIDE?!”

So far, nothing. Then, Goncharova smelled a powerful smell--like a vague, foul sweetness, behind a desk. She drew her phaser, and began looking about. Then, Goncharova gasped subtly, with a weak, “For the love of God….” as she found the source of the smell.

The sight that greeted her was a pool of dried, stagnant blood. Within it was a corpse. A young woman who had what appeared to be any number of lacerations, bruises, and other wounds on her person. Blood was coming out of her mouth, and it looked like she had been there a while. Her body was contorted with her left hand on the desk but her right hand and form otherwise slumped onto the floor. The office chair had been rolled back, now stained with blood.

Goncharova examined the corpse, visually inspecting for the unusual. She then raised her eyebrows. The corpse had been trying to scribble a message on a desk calendar on the desk, her left index finger covered in dried blood. The message on the calendar was short and simple”

“RUN.”

Goncharova snapped images of the corpse, and designated it for the forensics types to deal with. Still, she could deduce roughly what happened. Given the bloody footsteps coming into the room leading to the desk, the blood on the chair….it appeared the woman had stumbled into the room, and hastily tried to write her message on the desk with her own blood--before succumbing to blood loss and shock. Nodding at the corpse, she then moved on, called on the radio by one of her men.

***

The party regrouped at what looked like the employee locker room. Here, the locker was in the same state of disarray as the rest of the complex. Lockers were bashed open, personal effects all over, benches broken, and the smell of decay from drying blood pools and other bits of gore.

One of the SRT officers, whose suit was marked, “Jones”, reported to Goncharova with a simple, “SITREP--it’s a fucking madhouse. Definitely looked like some kind of rioting in here, signs of a struggle. Damage, bits of gore…no bodies though. None we could see.”

Goncharova replied with a simple, “I located a body actually. One of the offices. She was covered in gore. Looked like something got to her before she stumbled inside. Died writing a message.” Pausing, the Bonk then quickly added, “The message was…’Run.’”

Jones sounded puzzled by this, and asked, “From what? The riot?” The man then shrugged and went, “Makes sense, like anything else here. This is the wierdest damn high-risk arrest I’ve ever been to.”

Goncharova nodded, pushing a button on her comms and turning to the side.

“Charlie Leader, Bravo Leader, this is Alpha Leader. SITREP?”

A brief static hiss came in, before Bravo Leader and Charlie Leader replied. Their reports were matter-of-fact, and arguably told the same story as Goncharova’s story. Aside from a few stragglers, there were no corpses. Just lots and lots of property damage. Charlie Leader had even seen a few areas that looked like they were damaged by fire in the company cafeteria.

“Curiouser and curiouser,” was Goncharova’s thought. In all her years working SRT duty, usually, perps and rioters weren’t so conscientious as to clean up their dead. There would be gore, rotting bodies, all sorts of chaos. And yet here, there was naught but the faintest indication of the effects of rioting. Smashed fixtures, damaged offices. So on and so forth.

Goncharova’s act was to say simply, “Looks like Alpha’s near the entryway to the main meat processing floor. We’re going to move in. We’ll keep you posted.”

So, the party, exchanging nods, documented the crime scene and began pushing on. As that occurred, Jones could be heard going, “Ow. Jesus!” As he did so, Goncharova could see his hand move up to his helmet, as if to try and massage his jaw. Jones stopped, realizing that he was in power armor.

The others turned to Jones, with concern and Goncharova asked, “You okay?”

“I-it’s fine.” Jones waved dismissively, going, “Let’s keep moving.”

***

The floor of the meat processing wing looked like any other such facility. Here, freshly killed animals were being broken down into cuts of meat--leg quarters for chickens, beef shanks for beef, so on.

The sight that greeted the SRT Alpha team was a forest of animal flesh. Sides of beef, as well as pigs and chickens hanging on meathooks. Machines that could break down a steer or fowl or pig in seconds. A veritable feeling of cold, as the effects of the chilled environment could be felt on the SRT Alpha team. Goncharova felt the effects the most, as she wasn’t wearing a full power armor suit like the others were. Holding her phaser at low ready, Goncharova and Alpha Team kept their heads on a swivel, looking for any threats.

So far, things seemed calm. Then….a sight caught Goncharova’s eye. Holding her hand up for the team to stop, she advanced closer to one of the processing tables, which had a random assortment of parts on it. Looking closer, she gasped.

Nestled among the cow skulls was a human skull, freshly skinned, with its eyes still inside the skull. Worse yet Goncharova could see many other limbs--human arms, legs, feet--nestled amongst the livestock. Goncharova’s eyes grew to the size of dinner plates, and as she spun around, she bumped into something else. Stepping back, she saw a dead man covered in blood, hanging off a meathook wearing what used to be industrial coveralls and a hard hat. Now, they were merely tattered and cracked rags on a corpse. A corpse...which seemed to be growing metal bits out of it. Tubes, circuitboards--you name it, it grew on the corpse.

And it just got worse. For as SRT Alpha looked and inspected further, it became painfully apparent that the meatprocessing floor was now a charnel house. Corpses- were strewn all over the floor and the tables, all with metallic--nay electronic--growths on their forms. Goncharova swore she could see one body with what looked like lenses for eyes, with wiring that flowed through his body instead of veins, hooked up to what used to be a hard drive for a security system--complete with monitor in lieu of a belly. Yet another man was flayed, his skin replaced with mylar sheeting fused into his muscles and his mouth and ears replaced with what used to be industrial hearing protection and a speaker.

Even worse than that, however, was the fact that beyond merely being corrupted by machinery, a good number of the bodies...well, whoever got to them was evidently indulging a mad artist’s sensibilities. In particular, one specimen sitting in an office chair that Goncharova saw had what looked like the torso of one of the local policemen, fused with the hind legs of a cow cracked and bent into unnatural shapes using a combination of duct tape, leg braces and orthotic shoes and what looked like flaps of human skin, as well as a pig’s head held on to the torso by a neck brace, bolted into place using nuts and washers, with a policeman’s hat jauntily put on.

At that, Goncharova had to fight the urge to vomit.

Then, a voice could be heard.

“Oh! It’s okay. Please. Terribly sorry about the mess.”

The policewoman turned and saw….well….

It was a tall figure clad in a white lab coat. The white lab coat covered a form which wore a blue button-up dress shirt stained with blood which was somehow stitched together with wiring and bandages to a back brace--and flesh--along with a red tie and slacks also covered with blood. The figure didn’t seem to have veins--it had wires crisscrossing all over its body, poking out of its clothes and back into its body again. Fused to the right forearm was what looked like a tricorder, with metallic wiring coming out from it and reaching the man’s right arm. The left arm meanwhile, had what looked like something that was once a carpal tunnel wrist brace, but with a rather large pair of syringes crudely affixed to the brace with electrical wiring and cables. The man’s fingers were lengthened, and had a number of small knives and scalpels and other bladed medical instruments in lieu of fingernails that seemed to recede back into the man’s hand. Worse yet, the man also had..well, it was a recognizably human face, in the region where the throat of a cow should be--he had a Longhorn cow’s head fused with his own head with stitches, more metal, and more wires, and said cow’s head could be seen to blink, look around, and occasionally grunt and moo with its mouth opening and closing, with a long tongue that slid in and out with what looked like a bone saw at the end.

At that, Goncharova vomited, while the other members of the SRT Alpha team stood in abject repulsion--and curiosity. Just what the hell was this thing?

The thing would answer, and the man said, absentmindedly looking around at the gore and the alarmed policement, “Oh! I should introduce myself. Doctor Joseph McGillicuddy, plant physician. I work down at the clinic. How can I help you officers?”

Goncharova recovered long enough to ask, “What...the fuck is going on here?”

McGillicuddy frowned, before declaring, in an unusually jovial voice, “Just some improvements in employee productivity and safety, my dear!” Pacing about, McGillicuddy began gesticulating, with an eagerness that matched a show and tell session. “See, the employees here at Babushka’s have been...slacking a bit recently in terms of productivity. The management has been worried about people not doing the jobs for which they were hired, and if so, doing them rather inefficiently. Inefficiency means less profits my good lady and that means less money to pay these fine people.”

Standing next to one of the tables, McGillicuddy then smiled and said, pointing to one of the corpses on it, “Now, they’ve tried all sorts of sticks to get productivity up, but by jove the union just wouldn’t have it. No sirree. So, they consulted me on ways to make their employees healthier, more productive. Throw them some delicious, healthy carrots as it were. Oh yes.” As if to illustrate his point, McGillicuddy pulled a carrot out of his pocket, and tossed it at one of the corpses--whose arm promptly jerked upwards, along with the rest of the body, devouring it with a fevered, feral expression.

“At first, I was stymied, working within the system. Nutritionists, industrial psychologists, and morale officers along with good old fashioned caffiene were only doing so much,” McGillicuddy said, pacing around as the SRT team grew impatient. “Then, one night, as I was out camping in the woods, walking towards a shiny rock that fell from space...I had a vision. Yes, a vision! For better health! Better productivity! An end to malingering! It came to me like a kick to the groin.”

Walking up to Goncharova, he said, his grin expanding into a wide Glasgow Grin, “The McGillicuddy Method. The art of fusing man, machine, and animal into one synthesis. Guided by the spirit of wellness, I would improve the condition of man, and produce that most valued prize using the technomagic found within that rock. A happy and productive workforce. We had resistance at first from the employees, then the clerical staff, and then the local busybodies in blue, but well, you’d have to be sick and crazy to resist progress, my good officer!”

At that, McGillicuddy snapped his fingers, and whistled, calling out, “Boys! Girls! Let’s get to work!”

At that, the figures on the tables began shifting and moving. They variously wheezed, winced in pain, muttered “ow” and “The fuck?” and also looked about with feral, crazed expressions. They soon began picking up their tools, and before long began working in a strange show, doing what were otherwise normal jobs on a meatpacking plant’s floor. Some of them helped each other, some looked confused, but the rest were just working apace, silently, robotically, and with smiles on their faces--the smiles of contentment.

The SRT Alpha team drew a tight perimeter, keeping their weapons at the ready. Goncharova likewise raised her phaser, and before long, the employees turned to the SRT Alpha team, as the radios began to fill with all sorts of astonished, nervous chatter.

“You seeing this, Alpha?”

“Be advised, Alpha, this is Charlie--we’re getting fucking zombies--”

“The fuck? I just saw a man with a TV in his stomach!”

“This is Gold Eagle. Tell me what’s going on? What the hell are those things!?”

McGillicuddy sighed, and said with his palm applied to his face.

“The local authorities had the same reaction. I suppose some people just can’t understand progress. It’s a sickness!”

Looking at Jones, McGilllicuddy smiled, and said, “Like Jones here. May I call you Jones?” Pointing one of the scalpelfingers at Jones, McGillicuddy said, “You don’t look so good. You’re looking quite ill, I think!”

Jones looked around, confused for moment, before he began to gag and clutch at his helmet. He barely let out a “What the--no! NO!” before he began running around, screaming in pain as he fought to get his helmet off to get at whatever was bothering him. The others tried to rush to help him, but by then it was too late--Jones had removed his helmet, revealing the sight of Jones’s jaw being forced open by metal spikes coming out of his molars, spreading black wiring around his mouth as the spikes began making their way through his soft palate into his head. Eyes seemed to explode and then become corrupted into strange camera like devices, and the spikes continued to grow to the horror of all. Then, as Jones collapsed to the floor in agony, the others turned, and one of the SRT men began to try and work on Jones--only to collapse in pain himself clutching at the eyes of his helmet, going, “I CAN’T SEE!”

Worse yet was the sounds of the other teams. Screaming and cries to God could be heard over the radios, and Pauling could be heard to ask “What is going on down there!?!” over and over, to minimal success.

Goncharova evidently had enough, as had the other team members. For as they turned to face McGillicuddy, Goncharova snapped back to reality. With a glare and the aiming of her phaser, Goncharova shouted, “That’s it. You’re under arrest! DROP IT! NOW!”

McGillicuddy smiled, and then shook his head, and snapped his fingers again.

At that, the employees turned to the SRT, and began moving quickly towards them, with blades and talons and medical syringes--and the odd firearm--in hand. Moving inexorably towards the SRT, Goncharova shouted, “GO!” as all hell broke loose. At that, the team began to move to break contact with the enemy, and to focus on taking down McGillicuddy in a hail of energy fire. Goncharova in particular fired a long burst of phaser fire at the doctor, and the other SRT members began kicking over tables and moving to cover Goncharova as she made the arrest.

As it turned out, McGillicuddy’s new health and fitness regimen was working wonders. While the force of a phaser set to stun had some debilitating effects on the Doctor, he was merely staggered back, and smiled as he declared, “Thanks for the interesting specimens, my dear!”

He then smiled and said, with a most wicked grin, “All of them!”

At that, Goncharova turned to see several of the members of Alpha team sobbing and screaming in pain, as mutations began to take shape. Helmets fused to bodies. Arms began to turn into scalpels. So on.

At that, Goncharova began firing at the corrupted SRT Alpha operators, and found two survivors not yet touched. They rejoined Goncharova as she began to flee, shouting, “FALL BACK!” Blasters soon began to fire, but even as the former employees fell, more were coming, driven on by their mad patron.

What had begun as a simple arrest was now turning into the mother of all shit-shows.
Last edited by New Dornalia on Fri Apr 26, 2019 9:40 pm, edited 2 times 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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Auman
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Founded: Antiquity
Father Knows Best State

Postby Auman » Tue Apr 30, 2019 11:20 am

Hope Valley, KSK-957, Delta Quadrant

Continued from Red Death...

"The name's Sunny Gill..." he shook hands with John Harekka, a Frontier Policeman who had been in the valley for a few weeks now. They stood in a dimly lit annex of Sunny's first aid room, which was a lot bigger than any that John had seen in the past. It was built for eight beds, but Gill managed to squeeze in about twenty all told and they were full of sick people. "This is my partner, Corvus. We would have liked to come out sooner, but we were busy with the missing persons investigation." Said John, only a little sheepishly. Considering the work Sunny was doing for the community, he deserved better.

"It's alright," Sunny checked out John's rank tab, "sergeant. I've appreciated all of the reports you've sent. There's actually something I would like to talk to you about, it's why I asked you to come."

"Oh?" John's eyebrow perked up.

Sunny lead them to the kitchen and cracked open the door of a walk in cooler. It was empty, aside from Jaren's bullet riddled corpse sprawled on a fold out cot in the center of the room. The first aid man gestured to a box of gloves on a shelf and they all slipped into a pair, even Corvus the robot. They stood around the body and looked on in silence for a moment.

"There are two things wrong with this picture, which challenge some of our presumptions." Sunny said, pulling a pen off of his red utility vest. He crouched down and pointed to Jaren's upper lip, swirling the pen around in a tight circle. "First, he has none of the telltale signs of Karax infection. Absolutely none represented outwardly, nor in any of the injuries. Karax, in it's late stages, is present in large volumes in the blood stream and other bodily fluids. When they dry up or congeal, it leaves a crystallized... I guess you'd call it a crust or powder. There's none of that. Not under the nose or the eyes... Or in the area surrounding these gun shot wounds."

John brought a thoughtful hand up to his chin, "So, you're saying this man is not infected."

"That's the basics of it, yeah."

"Then what's wrong with him?" Corvus asked, his optics dilating in curiosity.

"No idea." Said Sunny, gesturing to the fist sized exit wound just above Jaren's right ear. "Get a load of this."

John crouched down and peered into the blown out skull. He squinted and then retrieved a flashlight from his own vest and shined it into the cavity. "Looks like a... No, that's not right. Is he healing?"

"When Jaren was brought in by the mayor, there was almost nothing left inside of the skull cavity. Hell of a shot, by the way. Now, as you can see, it appears that matter is... I don't know... Reforming, so to speak."

John flicked open his pocket knife and found a long, tight, strand of gore and scraped off the top layer of flesh, revealing a shiny metallic cable. He tittered the light around and noticed they were streaming from the base of Jaren's skull, where a datajack was installed in his brain stem.

"Look, where you pulled the flesh back..." Corvus used his index finger to illustrate, the glinting metal was obscured before their very eyes by what looked like a scab. Inside of his head was a spider web of wires and as they watched, they could see more connections forming. It was an eery feeling.

"I was reading through the list of victims identified from the spore pyre you discovered and I found something strange." Sunny stood up abruptly and peeled off his gloves, dropping them into a trashcan in the corner. They returned to the annex and washed their hands vigorously. Sunny grabbed a blue notebook with brightly colored post-it notes sticking at the fringes of dozens of pages and flipped it open.

"I wrote a list of the names of people recovered and accounted for and then went through their personnel files. They have something in common that sets them apart from the ones you haven't been able to find. They don't have any cybernetic augmentations. The people that have succumbed to Karax and died are not cyborgs, like Jaren." Sunny flipped to the next page.
"I then decided to make a list of workers that are still missing. Jaren was on this list along with eight others, all of them cyborgs."

John looked over the list, glanced up at Sunny and then over to Corvus. It was left unsaid, but the primary concern on their minds was that there was a gang of cybernetic madmen stalking the woods surrounding Hope Valley. John scratched the pad of his thumb idly, deep in thought and considering his options.

"Christ..."

"It's a bad implication." Said Sunny, nodding.

"Do you mind if we copy your notes, Mr. Gill?" Asked Corvus politely. Sunny agreed and the robot flipped through the pages, scanning every single one in under five seconds.

"Okay then, we'll go talk this over with Dr. Harekka right now. I don't know what comes next, but uh... I don't know. Keep an eye on it, we'll figure things out as we go along. Call me if you need anything, Sunny." Said John.

The men shook hands again and went their separate ways.
Last edited by Auman on Tue Apr 30, 2019 11:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
IBNFTW local 8492

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Olimpiada
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Founded: Aug 13, 2016
Corporate Bordello

A pair of interviews; Missionary Anntair, I presume?

Postby Olimpiada » Wed May 01, 2019 8:08 pm



Deep Space, Creta
Farpoint Lamed, SOG Kaunaz-3

Silent as anywhere in Kytheon-449, Farpoint Lamed sat in its lonely region of space. The black site was built on a rogue dwarf planet a light year distant from Creta proper, and from the people inhabiting the system by extension. Safe enough, by all accounts. Dioscorus trusted it as far as he could throw it. His time in the military had taught him that “distant from collateral damage” just as surely meant “distant from friendly fire support”. Then again, the antimatter stockpile the station kept as a failsafe could well mean the same thing in a pinch.

In a cast iron box covered in metaphysical inhibition enchantments covered in turn in graphene and in turn once again in enchanted iron before a final layer of sensors, sat a severed head. Lines for saline fluid and blood reached out of the bottom, while that which dripped out was to be secured later for full and complete analysis. From the back of the neck jutted two cables. One was for power, the other was for data. Both, much like the blood, ran into systems isolated inside of the box for the purposes of isolation and later analysis. More interesting than any of the systems supporting and containing it was the head itself. The concentric cubic crystals lining its jaw to flay flesh and expose jawbone. Their black spread reaching into its cranium and violating whatever mind still inexplicably managed to live within. Through all of the muffling of the security systems, it bellowed.

”SAVED! YOU’RE ALL SAVED! PRAISE BE TO PROPHET SYNKOL AND MISSIONARY ANNTAIR! AVE! WANSUI! HEIL! BANZAI” The muffled voice which emerged had long ago gone raw, which seemed not to bother the occupant much. In any other situation, it would have been discarded as stark raving mad, but in this case it was the only real bet they had.

“Is it necessary to deal with this thing? As far as I can tell, it’s still responsible for killing Lindblom.” Eklund’s arms were folded across his chest. He worse a light jacket rather than his power armor now, allowing him to do so without looking or feeling ridiculous doing so.

“We’ve got to see if we can extract any intel from the thing. None of that mission actually matters if we can’t interrogate it, since the direct data extraction was a bust. Excuse me.” He reached over to press the switch for a microphone which wirelessly ran a direct feed into a speaker for the admiral to hear. “That’s excellent, and we’d love to know more. Mind telling us more about these two fine men?” He rolled his eyes despite himself, though he knew the head could not hear him.

”THEY ARE OUR SAVIORS! SYNKOL LEADS US ALL TOWARD A FINAL WELD WITH THE UNIVERSE AT LARGE! PRAISE BE TO HIM! PRAISE! PRA-”

“That’s good,” interrupted Dioscorus. “What about Anntair? Who are they?”

”HE SEEKS TO BRING OUR GUIDING LIGHT FURTHER ACROSS THE GAMMA QUADRANT THAN EVER BEFORE! THE AUGMENTED PEOPLE OF OLIMPIADA ARE PRIME FOR ENLIGHTENMENT! HE KNOWS THAT THE TWO CAN WORK IN HARMONY WITH ENOUGH CONVINCING! MY SON WILL KNOW THIS VAST UNITY AS WELL AS I! HOW WONDERFUL!” replied the muffled voice. Dioscorus cringed at the thought of his own falling to such a fate.

“He wants to att- er, convert Olimpiada?”

”YES! HIS FINAL STEP TO PROPHETHOOD SHALL MOST CERTAINLY BE ACHIEVED! IS IT NOT WONDERFUL!”

“Yes, certainly.”

”I KNOW YOU LIE, BUT AS HE FORGIVES YOU SO MUST I! FEAR NOT! JUST AS I WAS SAVED, SO SHALL YOU BE! HE KNOWS YOUR EVERY MOVE BEFORE YOU MAKE IT! MY OWN CAPTURE WAS ORCHESTRATED BY ANNTAIR HIMSELF!”

Shit. “How so?” As the head screamed its response, Dioscorus turned to Eklund and pulled his finger off the transmitter. “Alert command, get the station on lockdown ASAP. Pick up Oström, wherever he is, and get the Anxious Object prepped for immediate jump.” Eklund, despite his earlier reservations, nodded and fled at top speed, a rather impressive thing to watch as he pumped magic into his legs to increase it further.

”THEY COME! WE COME! REJOICE! REJOICE!” Finally, it shut its mouth. Dioscorus grabbed the entire apparatus and ran with it, wires trailing behind it as he went. Holographic alert screens followed him the whole way, screaming warnings. A crude probe of indeterminate origin had jumped into orbit before being shredded apart by anti-orbital beams two seconds thereafter. Klaxons blared demands for battlestations, with screens lighting up in Latin and Swedish to tell people where to go.

He skidded onto the Anxious Object not five minutes later, no mean feat since the laboratories were deep underground, the docks were necessarily not, and he was carrying thirty pounds of apparently useless box. He heaved the head onto the deck, earning a muffled sound somewhere between a cry of pain and a laugh. At least the gravity here was light. “Oström.” He paused to breathe. “Get us. Out.”

“Aye sir.” The ship flew out of its docking point on a mass driver assist, gently pushing everyone to the floor briefly before gravity disappeared. Its thrust based substitute replaced it as the fusion thruster kicked in at a safe distance from the station. “Hey boss, we’ve got about thirty unidentified contacts on radar.”

“Just run, dammit. And someone find a way to hide this thing that actually fucking works.”



Fujimori’s World, Kytheon-449
Seraph’s Ascension



Viktor Lindblom had been floating along for a few hours now. This by itself was not entirely awful; his nutrient fluid reserves were still plenty for awhile longer, and both his air and waste reclamation systems were working fine. All in all, the experience could have been considered leisurely. The two downsides plugged into his suit systems and hauling him along against his will was another matter entirely.

Each was an unfamiliar species to Viktor. Both had four arms, a hooked beak, and scales that had been patchily frosted over in the vacuum of space. Periodically, the black scales gave way to silvery skin which something rippled beneath. He only knew this because his external cameras were among the few systems not disabled, in addition to those needed to keep him alive.

His magic couldn’t save him either; the stimulants his suit gave him access to kept him awake, and he was as decently fed as one could be on what was essentially a beef milkshake, but nothing worked. Some sort of metaphysical inhibitor was employed by his captors, keeping him from actually using his full skillset.

Right now, however, he was fully distracted from his attempts to break their bindings. Something else had caught his attention. A ship loomed in the distance.

Its design sensibilities seemed utterly at odds with anything Viktor had ever seen. Elegant curves of fractal spirals curved in on themselves clusters of sensors and myriad weapons dotted along them to some terrible purpose. Clusters of pyritic cubes jutted out from the sides, with EVA pack wearing abominations flying in and out of them, distant sunlight gleaming off of their exposed steel components. Nautilus spirals curled out from deep within to terminate in brutally unimaginative engine nozzles. He was too distracted by its strange juxtapositions to struggle terribly much. Blunt functionality contrasted with smooth and almost wispy elegance everywhere.

Slowly but surely, they came to the interior. Gossamer threads of nanotube weave were slung through the air seemingly at random, periodically glowing in accordance with no purpose Viktor could discern. Periodic clusters of air hung thick with insects and the characteristic water vapor of nanite swarms. Gravity was present here as well, allowing Viktor and his captors to walk more naturally. They’d done him the service of enabling his legs, though neither his arms nor defensive lasers had been reactivated either. Shame.

As they wandered further, nanotube weaves and clouds of nanites gave way to increasingly organic structures until he was reasonably certain they were walking on chitinous mollusk shells atop a surface of muscle that undulated in response to his footsteps. He shuddered as he made the realization. Slowly but surely, it opened up into a wide chamber, where there was a forest of all things, filled with trees shot through with fiber optic cables and clusters of antennae. At its center, stood a single figure.

“You two may go.” He spoke Swedish in a rumble at the edge of human hearing, and his form was one at the edge of human imagination, almost biblical in form. Six white wings stretched out from his back, each dotted with red lensed photoreceptors as if the two in his skull were somehow insufficient. Black wires writhed beneath his skin, all conjoining together into one massive cable leaving the base of his skull and splitting off to meet the forest in the room. When he looked at Viktor, it was as if he stared straight past him, missing none of the details of each layer on the way through. “Do you know why I brought you here today, Mr. Lindblom?”

Viktor gulped despite himself. “To… kill me?” He had precisely no guesses of any real merit.

“Not so. Allow my to introduce myself. I am Missionary Anntair, an emmisary of the Welded and current ‘owner’, if you will, of the Kytheon four forty-nine system. I chose to bring you here simply to talk.”

He squinted in doubt. “To what end? Aren’t you going to do to me whatever you did to those unfortunates back on the Shinsekai?”

“Perhaps. Do you know why that’s a good thing?”

“Last group trying to tell me what was and wasn’t good for me tried to put Stockholm to the nuclear torch.” He paused. “Lost my wife that way.”

“Ah yes, the Aesir. We’ve heard of them. Dreadful folks. Slavery is so… crude.” Anntair seemed almost pensive about the matter. Viktor still held his reservations.

“What makes you any different? Those astronauts didn’t seem to have much choice in what they became.”

“Addition to our ranks can be a challenging experience, though one that everyone survives. I recall my own some decades prior. The hekma trees bursting into flame as the Protectorate desperately tried to burn my Welded brethren out of the jungle. It was a jaguar that caught me, of all things. They had a nasty habit of leaping from treetops to catch us out of the air. This one did so, and I thought I was dead as I plummeted. When it looked at me with more intelligence than I thought possible and the probes took me though, I knew that something was different about these invaders. By the time the process was finished, I could see. No words in any tongue can adequately explain it.”

Viktor was unsure that anything had been explained to him at all, but held his tongue on the matter out of fear. “If it’s so wonderful, why not just get on with it? Save yourself the trouble?”

Anntair laughed. “What trouble? I delight in my newfound purpose, you know. Talks like these are an excellent opportunity for self reflection, anyhow. They remind me why I must do this as surely as the trillions of minds connected to my own do. Why all of you deserve pity.” He took a step closer to Viktor. “Another chance.” Ran his hand along the metal faceplate, watching as residual nanites took apart the welds and exposed the terrified man within. “Help.” Plunged fingers into the wide eyes and shuddered as silver fluid supplanted grey matter to the tune of a hoarse scream.
Hyper-commodified cocaine capitalism. Urbanized solar systems. Omnixenophobia. War economy without end. Radical body augmentation for fun and profit.

I make exactly two exceptions from a fairly strict adherence to realism, and hate them both.

The Anchorage, for discussion of all things FT

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New Dornalia
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Postby New Dornalia » Sun May 12, 2019 7:30 pm

OOC: Part 2 of 3, actually. There will be a third post coming up rounding off this small series of posts. All prior content warnings apply.

IC;

The remnants of Alpha began regrouping around Goncharova in one of the side offices. Despite the presence of heavy powered armor--now covered with gore and efflua due to the firefight to escape the meatpacking floor--the psychological armor of the men and women of Team Alpha was badly dinged by the encounter. They could handle mobs. They could handle madmen. Handling a madman who had some sort of technomancy? That was something else.

Goncharova herself shuddered, as she could be heard quietly radioing for assistance hiding in an alcove in one of the offices. The two survivors Goncharova was able to extract--a pair of persons named “Frederick” and “Fronkensteen”--were on guard duty. Fronkensteen had the Model 918, held at low ready with a twitchy nervousness. Frederick meanwhile had his blaster, likewise on low ready. Both men were watching the entrance to the office.

“Gold Eagle, this is Alpha Leader. We have come under attack. Repeat. We are under attack. Attempt to arrest Dr. Joseph McGillicuddy, plant physician and apparent perpetrator of the attacks, has proven unsuccessful. Major casualties reported. I’ve lost several men. Will attempt to make contact with Bravo and Charlie teams and figure out further response. Over.”

The tone seemed to be one of controlled concern/panic on Goncharova’s part--and on the part of the two survivors as well. Frederick could be heard saying, “The fuck was that?! What are those things?”

Fronkensteen whispered, “Shh! The fuck if I know, man. I just know those things got Aziz, Donegal--everyone else but us. They didn’t even get a chance to fire off a shot!”

“No shit. And did you see--”

“--yup.” Fronkensteen said, with a sigh, “If I survive this, I’m going to be a vegan for the rest of my life.”

Of course, that possibility was immediately put into doubt when the PA began blaring. It was the Doctor’s voice. It quivered with a mixture of anger and joyous excitement, at the prospect of being able to sadistically grandstand over an otherwise mundane PA system.

“Attention all personnel! It seems we have visitors--unwanted guests, from the New Kazakhstan Sheriff’s Department. It was obvious after all, judging by their armor and their hasty resort to arrest. But it is hardly to be unexpected. After all, everyone’s skeptical of the power of the Weld to produce better employees and more productive citizens. But yet here we are!”

Fronkensteen frowned.

“Weld? The fuck--they call that the Weld?

The Doctor continued to drone on.

“Now, the Process that I have mastered courtesy of the Weld--that fine, fine force whose technomagical wonders have improved the health and well being of the workforce here at Babushka’s Meats--has succeeded beyond my wildest expectations! But if we are to continue to improve the human condition, to continue to produce the healthiest, happiest, most productive workers in any company--we must keep refining the Process! Through the boldness of experimentation we can refine our quest to bring productivity and usefulness, liberating men from indolence and the failings of the flesh! Those officers out there are peak physical specimens, and we have acquired some, but more study must be done to determine what sort of usefulness they can provide to the Company!”

Then, a call which made it incredibly obvious, if it wasn’t already, what the point of all that was.

“My fellow employees. Colleagues. Management. I have now a new Plant Health and Safety Directive! GET ME THOSE OFFICERS! Bonuses will be provided to the first employees who bring them to me….intact! After all, extolling more benefits from the Welding Process to liberate one from failings of the flabby, feckless, false flesh can only be a good thing! Why deny a good thing!?”

The survivors of Alpha looked at each other, and suddenly developed pits in their stomachs. Fortunately, Gold Eagle--Pauling, rather--had an order.

“Alpha Leader, it looks like there are several survivors from Bravo and Charlie teams. I have asked them to rendezvous with you at the West Side of the plant, near the loading docks. We will be waiting with an exfiltration team. Good luck.”

Looking around, Goncharova and the others knew they had a task ahead of them--one which was easier said than done. Goncharova for her part coughed and got to business.

“Right. So, we have to get to the West Side Loading Dock. Our HUDs have the appropriate systems--I’m mapping a course to be sent to you all….here we go. Fastest route there.”

Fronkensteen then asked, “What about the Weld-things out there? They know we’re here, they’re out for blood. They’re likely going to be patrolling the grounds for us. We should keep that in mind as we make good our escape.”

Frederick then said, with a somewhat enthused tone, “Then, we just shoot our way through. Besides, I’m sure Aziz and the others would appreciate it, right?”

The expression of implied revenge appealed to Fronkensteen, while Goncharova only said, matter of factly, “We can worry about that later. And let’s hope that whatever happened to the rest of the team doesn’t compromise us. Those guys were our best, on and off the game.”

Frederick then asked, “Think they could be cured?”

“Fuck if I know,” Fronkensteen said with a surprisingly worried expression.

Goncharova looked at the two, realizing the subject they were contemplating--and said simply, “We’ll leave that to the eggheads. Come on.”

With that, Goncharova walked up to the door--and then ducked and motioned for the others to duck, as a sound could be heard outside. The sound of slow, deliberate footsteps, followed by a low grunting, electronic static screeching, and barely comprehensible English stuck in with words like “safety” and “cleanse”. Goncharova figured there were at least six out there, marching about in loose, undisciplined formation.

One of the figures seemed to stop, sniff the air for a second, and then move past. After a bit, Goncharova gently opened the door, and looking about, saw nothing amiss. With a gesture of the hand, the party began moving out.

***

The three remnants of Alpha Team began moving swiftly in single file, with weapons at low ready. Goncharova took the lead.

Goncharova sniffed the air, and looked at her HUD, to stay on track. The hallways of Babushka’s Meats may have been the masterwork of some industrial psychologist eager to improve workplace productivity, but for the remnants of a SWAT team escaping a massacre it was anything but efficient.

Part of the problem was the oppressive atmosphere.

The party moved deliberately, quickly--but not hastily. They moved with a painstakingly measured pace in an attempt to keep the noise down. They kept a constant lookout, turning their heads constantly, looking at every nook and cranny. They kept their ears open, with an informally enforced radio silence replaced with a deafening silence, punctuated by an occasional creak and the low whir and hum of their T-51 suits and the faint sound made when rubberized, sound-and-shock absorbing soles of a power armor suit made in a careful heel-to-toe step met linoleum tiling.

A sense of watchfulness metastasizing into paranoia set in amongst the party, and only their training and experience kept them from shooting at shadows and shades in a panic. Those things could be around the corner after all. They had been commanded by their mad leader to hunt them down like dogs. Who was to say there wasn’t a patrol of the things on their scent trail right now?

As it turned out, there were. A creaking noise could be heard at one point, and Alpha Team stopped, ducking into cover. The teams raised their weapons, and began looking around.

A few seconds passed by, and so far, things were clear. Goncharova held her hands up, urging Alpha to stay put for a moment.

As they did so, Goncharova then looked around, weapon at low ready. She hadn’t the chance to really get the sense of the enemy, in the classically Bonk sense of smell, etc.--being overwhelmed by malformed technomagical abominations against nature tends to do that. So, she focused on smells she didn’t recognize, and sounds she sort of recognized--that chittering, grumbling, etc. she had heard while cooped up in the office. Hopefully, those would be her guide.

And so far there was nothing.

So far so good, but this did not put Goncharova at ease. They had to come, eventually. But from where?

The answer would come soon enough.

First, she heard some skittering sounds. A light rapping and tapping moving about. Then, she smelled something that vaguely smelled like rotten meat--her nose wrinkled at the stench--but mixed with some sort of cleaning agent as well as iron or some other form of metal.

Goncharova tried to suss out where it was coming from. Then, she stopped, and looked around.

Nothing on her level so far.

Then, she heard the sounds again. This time, they grew louder, and she looked up. The clattering, skittering, rapping and tapping were coming from the vents. Goncharova raised her weapon and began scanning the ceiling. She saw the ceiling distend and the vents move and shake, along with a cacophony of hissing and grunting and squeaking sounds.

At this, Goncharova motioned for the team to move, now.

As the team began moving and when they had gotten away from the area, Goncharova heard a loud CRASH! sound,

Goncharova turned, and holding up her weapon, she saw nothing less than a tidal wave.

A number of small animals could be seen, skittering on the floor, running around and generally acting in a most disorganized manner. Like the other abominations faced before, they had been altered considerably by whatever was going on. They looked nominally like chickens and quails and rabbits and so on. Emphasis on nominally. They had biomechanical horrors growing out of them--cameras where eyes should be, legs replaced by synthetic flexible prosthetics, and where some of the creatures couldn’t hack it on their own, it looked like they had been fused to other creatures or even the occasional human or animal part. THey all seemed to twitch in pain, crowing, making noises, and letting out sick parodies of animal calls.

One loathsome creature looked like it had been ripped straight from a 1980s horror film. It had once been a human head. Now, it was a skull in a very advanced state of desecration which had been fused onto an assortment of legs in a spiderlike formation, with the face replaced by an array of cameras and video monitors, with a pair of speakers on it.

For now, the Alpha Team members weren’t being noticed--the creatures seemed to run around in all directions, attempting to find the Team. The Skull-thing seemed to be giving orders to the rest, pointing with the legs and appendages to all manner of directions as it let out a series of screeches and beeps from its speakers.

Goncharova encouraged the team to keep moving quickly with her hand signals, as she struggled to remain calm. If those things regrouped…..no, no keep going. Must keep going. Now.

Alas, as Goncharova and company were escaping, the Skull-Thing saw Goncharova and her team, and broadcast a loud, distorted soundclip--not of the Doctor, and not of its own voice, but Jack Nicholson’s immortal sound bite from The Shining:

HEEEEEEERE’S JOHNNY!

With an impassioned point of its appendages the skittering, chittering horde soon began to reassemble, with a slight rumbling as they all began to stream into their direction.

At that, Goncharova had only one command.

“RUN!”


***

Fronkensteen and Frederick were grateful for power armor. Amongst its many advantages was the fact that the T-51 power armor suit, as currently used by the men and women of the New Kazakhstani Sheriff’s Department, had an advanced mixture of synthetic muscle and advanced servomotors designed to produce bipedal movement which was swifter than normal and which wouldn’t destroy the suit through wear and tear. GOncharova could keep up, but that was through a mixture of smarts and also years of physical training to get to this pooint.

In practical terms, it allowed the men of Alpha to run like their lives depended on it. Considering how there was now a horde of miniaturized abominations surging through the halls trying to murder them or bring them back to that hideous abattoir, their lives quite literally depended on it.

There were many obstacles to get over of course as they tried to run to the exfil point, as the factory’s destruction had, as before, made it so navigation under pressure was quite challenging. To their credit, Alpha was able to throw up some defensive works as well of its own, tossing chairs and tables and efflua at the horde, albeit with minimal effect.

One particular obstacle Alpha encountered however, topped all the usual debris.

Namely, it was a flipped over table that blocked an entrance way that had been flipped over once more. It looked like a basic plastic table, one normally used by staffers for any number of tasks. Selling discounted cellphone plans to employees. Passing out pamphlets on safe meat-handling. Making somewhere to place pizza and snacks for office functions. Now, it had been used as a barrier. One that judging by the strewn papers, bent and destroyed pistols and the many, many bloodstains and bits of human efflua drying and rotting all around, had not succeeded at keeping out the foe.

Rather, it succeeded at getting jammed into the doorframe, with great force--along with random body parts from both humans and animals. There were pig’s heads staring listlessly, bits of human arms and intestines, random bits of red gore and unidentified meat--all of it was jammed haphazardly yet solidly into the crevices of the walls. The wall was solid, and it wouldn’t be easily budged.

Goncharova raised her eyebrows at the overwhelming sight. Her sense of smell lead her to wrinkle her nose at the rot--but she then breathed in and out, and tried to suppress the reflex. The other two merely looked away, disgusted, if not surprised.

Goncharova recovered, and looked around before ordering Frederick and Fronkensteen to “Blow this fucking barrier down!” Alpha then began working frantically to get the obstacle cleared. Shots were fired over and over at the thing, including a long burst from Fronkensteen’s Model 918 that tore a series of massive holes in the barrier. Large chunks of material flew out from the door, both biologic and door related.

Goncharova wondered if they would have time to force their way through before those things got there.

The answer would come soon enough. The skittering and chittering was getting closer. Too close. And now there were larger human moans and groans and footfalls.

Worse yet, Alpha seemed to wake up the biologics within the barrier. When Frederick tried to punch his way into widening the hole, a cacophony of screams could be heard--animal and human---as flailing appendages began to lash out at Frederick. One of the pigs’ heads even bit down onto the armor, and soon, a fierce struggle began as Frederick tried to wrench himself free. Meanwhile, Fronkensteen shouted, “SON OF A BITCH!” and began firing another long burst at the appendages and biologic horrors in the door, rendering a good number of them into pulpy, burning mess as the loud staccato sound of gausspowered firepower deafened everyone in the room.

Meanwhile, the creatures could now be seen, and Goncharova began firing low at them. Of course, automatic fire can only take you so far against a horde. The Skull-Thing leapt onto her, and began digging its claws into her. Goncharova tried to kick it off and struggled. Of course, another deafening burst and the feeling of linoleum and other building materials getting kicked up around her from Fronkensteen’s 918 gave her some space to pull back the Skull-Thing just slightly enough that she should shoot it with her free hand.

Turning around, she saw Frederick with a large, fleshy mass around his right arm which was now free, and he shouted, “FUCKING MOVE!”

The party leapt through the holes and began running and running.

***

The party ran desperately, trying to find the way out. The exfil point was not long in coming now. But with the harrying of the Horde, the increasing fatigue and the fact there were injuries and damage to suits all around, things were getting crazy.

And yet they kept running. They had to.

And yet, things seemed to look up. Excited, Goncharova shouted, “Okay! We’re getting close to the exfil point. Just gotta hold out, and we’ll get out of this shit soon.” Her tone seemed to believe it, and she seemed to be relieved. The others said nothing, but privately, Goncharova’s men hoped she was right.

At the exfil point, they saw a couple of figures in T-51 suits, motioning for them to come over. Goncharova’s mood brightened. She recognized their logos. One man was from Bravo Team, and the other was from Charlie. Evidently, they had been much reduced like her force had been. Now, they were all together.

Surely this would be a good thing. The others likewise thought the same, although Fronkensteen had his doubts…

...doubts which would become clear once the figures, with a sudden, herky-jerky movement, turned, raised their weapons, and began firing on Alpha. Fronkensteen took several shots to the chest, staggered back by the force and watching his HUD panic as his chest armor began weakening. At that, all of the Alpha people began ducking into cover, Goncharova shouted, “We’re on the same side, assholes!”

Then, she looked at the figures.

The T-51s showed the same signs of corruption that the other infected had shown. This was most particularly prominent around the helmet. Wiring was sticking out of the visors, and twitching and heavy breathing could be heard from the men. One of the men shouted a loud, loud cry that sounded less like a battle cry and more like a mix of a grunt, a screeching sound like metal scraping, a cry of pain and electronic distortion. He gestured to the other man, and the two began engaging in bounding overwatch, opening fire on the Alpha team.

At that, Goncharova, realizing that the men were no longer friendly shouted, “OPEN FIRE!”

All of Alpha willingly began opening fire, screaming as they fired in short controlled bursts. At the same time, the pitter patter of hundreds of steps small and great could be heard behind Goncharova, and she turned to find the horde closing in. It had included not just the smaller animals, but also many of the former employees--including some of her own men, now zombified.

“Well, shit.”

Like a tidal wave hitting the shore, the creatures slammed into Alpha, and the team began fighting the hordes off in increasingly degenerated close combat. Goncharova began finding herself slapping, wrestling and punching at creatures--she grabbed one mutant chicken and slammed it into another animal with great force--and the action became even more furious and intense.

Still, it was a losing battle, and Goncharova not having power armor was having a particularly bad time of it. At one point, she found herself being hit by a particularly heavy blow from behind and knocked to the floor, only to be grabbed by one of the zombified power armor men by both arms and held in a full nelson. Goncharova couldn’t see where the others went--there were a lot of enemies swarming about, although she could hear screaming.

Goncharova then saw the horde part, and Dr. McGillicuddy from the slaughterhouse floor walking towards her, in all his grotesque glory. The figure sighed with slight dismay, shaking his head.

“You are quite the recalcitrant patient, my dear. Typical. Enemies of progress always have a way of resisting.”

Goncharova gritted her teeth and said, “If this is progress, I’m the Queen of France!”

With the kind of look that a disappointed father would give, Dr. McGillicuddy said with a dismayed tone, “The kind of progress I offer would make you more than the Queen of France. It would make you a goddess. A specimen in peak physical condition and beyond. Wouldn’t you want that? That’s all I’m trying to do.”

Goncharova said nothing and merely glared at the Doctor, and the not-so-good Doctor continued.

“Silent treatment, I see. Well, no matter. Your comrades are with me now, I’ve persuaded them that the Welded Process will make all men and women into better, productive, healthier citizens than before. I don’t see why you should be any different.” Looking at Goncharova’s ears and looking over her person, Dr. McGillicuddy then said, “Oh my. It looks like all this fighting may have given you some auditory damage. Hearing loss is such a hazard for your line of work.”

Looking at the powered armor thug holding Goncharova in a full nelson, the Doctor nodded and the man cinched up his grip on Goncharova. Goncharova winced in pain, and then her eyes grew wider as the Doctor pulled out a giant syringe, with some sort of ominous looking green fluid coming out of it. Tapping the syringe, the Doctor then said, “Normally, we’d need to use any number of methods. Hearing aids, cloned/artificial auditory equipment such as hairs or eardrums….but I find the Welded Process makes the healing process much easier. And certainly worth its weight in gold.”

Holding the syringe up, the Doctor said, with a slight grin and plenty of quiet enthusiasm, “Orderly, hold the Lieutenant. I think it’s time we began the operation.”

Soon, Goncharova found herself resisting, kicking and wriggling, and trying to play keep away as best as she could from the syringe as the zombified SWAT operator held firm with the full nelson in an upright position. The Doctor seemed to be unfazed by the attempts to resist, only ordering the powered armor goon, “Hold her still, Orderly. I cannot be distracted and I need to reach the injection site with precision!"

Goncharova tried to struggle as much as she could, but the needle kept getting closer and closer to her face….
Last edited by New Dornalia on Mon May 13, 2019 5:32 am, edited 2 times 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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Auman
Minister
 
Posts: 2056
Founded: Antiquity
Father Knows Best State

Postby Auman » Tue May 14, 2019 9:53 am

"Guys, everything is going to be great." said Sergeant Lavrov, turning back to his men to offer them a reassuring thumbs up. His olive drab jacket hung loosely from his emaciated body and the sunken green eyes gave his face the appearance of a mummified skull, wrapped in leathered flesh. Lavrov managed a smile as he swept his thumb across his squad, which faltered when he saw the hopeless expressions apparent on their own malnourished faces. Private Chesnokov couldn't help but laugh, a sullen chuckle bereft of mirth. They stood in a ragged line in front of their OT-74FT, a wheeled infantry fighting vehicle... One of many that would join them in their attack over the Mihaly valley. Their objective was a town on the other side of the Goldanz river, which had a tentative beachhead forced by their enemy, cybernetic forces lead by the implacable Ayatollah Grande, an artificial intelligence supplemented by a complex of numerous human brains that had converted to Islam and waged a holy war upon Megaslava for the last ten years. When the People's Army's victory seemed inevitable, the Ayatollah was bolstered by reinforcements from an unknown entity and this, ultimately, cast the last stone at the concept of galactic people's struggle.

When the whole house of cards seemed destined to collapse, a hand was offered and grudgingly accepted. This was the Gamma quadrant, after all and that meant the tendrils of the capitalist satan itself, and its cretinous lackies, didn't have to reach far. In exchange for arms, men and sacrifice, The Sphere, which was as much the bloated belly of a rotting carcass as Megaslavics like Ivan Chesnokov had ever seen, would burst and drench them in the fetid filth of bourgeoisie decadence. Surely they would now win the war, the Aumanii fighter jets were already screaming overhead and pounding targets on the shores of the Goldanz, but at what cost? Was victory really worth Chesnokov's soul, or that of his People's Republic? He did not know. He did not know where they were going or even why they were fighting, he only knew that he must kill. So Chesnokov cycled a fresh round from his magazine and the battery whined at him for a moment. He appraised his rifle and rubbed a fleck of mud away from the receiver.

Colonel Bulgov was strolling down the line, taking long and cautious strides whilst clasping his hands behind his back. It was funny to Chesnokov, as the Colonel was followed closely by a bespectacled commissar with a slight frame, severe expression and a pair of wire framed glasses that made his blue eyes appear as oceans of water contained within the orbits of his skull. Bulgov seemed to be handcuffed, being taken off to be shot by the commissar as was oftentimes the case. Chesnokov's smile, genuine and joyful, caught the attention of the commissar who stopped and wheeled suddenly towards him. The commissar nearly slipped in the grey mud that accumulated during the spring thawing season.

"I see that your men are in excellent spirits, Sergeant Lavrov!" Squealed the commissar through clenched, black, teeth.

"Ah, yes, Commissar Goldman. I do my best to keep up morale in my unit. I'm glad you noticed." Said Lavrov, turning nervously towards the political officer. Goldman's gaze never left Chesnokov's face as he spoke, his eyes were darting about and looking for any sign of defeatism.

"Yes... Yes, I would say that you have been upto something, but whatever that is has yet to be determined. Morale is a tricky thing, a malleable commodity with an intensely short shelf life. Colonel Bulgov!" Goldman stormed off and jammed a finger in the Colonel's face, whose brown mustache flexed anxiously.

"Your battalion is as ready as it will ever be. But I have my doubts as to their commitment to our struggle. Perhaps their performance in the field will help alleviate my concerns and..."

Chesnokov had to shield his eyes, a sudden fury had engulfed them... A brilliant flash of light and an impossibly loud roar of shredding atmosphere. A wall of air struck them a moment later and blew Chesnokov from his feet. With a ringing in his ears, Sergeant Lavrov could be heard shouting orders in his typical way, apologetically.

"C'mon boys," said Lavrov, hauling Chesnokov up from the ground by his collar with a surprisingly firm grip, "It is time to go."

The squad formed their lines again at the OT-78FT's engine roared to life, a gout of black smoke rising from the exhaust. Rifles clacked and clattered to Chesnokov's left and right, he felt a shove from behind and looked to see that it was Commissar Goldman with a captured enemy pistol in his hand.

"Advance!" Goldman could hardly be heard over the throaty growl of the infantry fighting vehicle, whistles and bugles pierced the din and as if compelled by an outside force, Chesnokov began walking.

It was to be a three hundred meter advance. The only cover afforded was a slight rise in the landscape which had been silhouetted by a rising mushroom cloud. Early morning now looked to be dusk and the character of the day had changed for the worse.

"They used atomics!" Gasped Private Chernorus, stating the obvious for all to hear. But who had the audacity to deploy them? Would it have been those Aumanii pigs? Chesnokov would not have put it past them, with the revolution now firmly in the hands of the exchequers and the carpetbaggers, what would they care if a few windows were broken? Afterall, the profit would be in the fixing. But so too, could it have been the Ayatollah Grande. Chesnokov sneered and wondered if this scene was not playing out all over his beautiful Mother Megaslava now... The machines and mad-brains of the Ayatollah, all reason wiped away by its devotion to the opiates of religion, could now have decided that victory was impossible and that the only option now available to it was to send as many people to meets its God as possible. It certainly wasn't the People's Army. Had there been any atomics remaining, they surely would have used them sooner... Right?

Chesnokov was torn from his thoughts by the shrieking crowd of abominations that crested the rise, a swarm of ghouls that assaulted the senses with their grotesque visage. He sprayed from the hip and his squad joined him, then the fighting vehicle and soon the entire battalion was standing in the middle of a stinking field of moist earth shooting indiscriminately. Bodies fell and tripped the others behind them, the mud slowed the advance of the enemy until enough corpses carpeted the ground to provide traction for the mindless throngs that followed on. Chesnokov had been a part of many section attacks and was what one could consider a veteran, this was the most wasteful expenditure of humanity he had ever seen.

Chernorus was feeding a new belt into his MPK machine gun and waved down Chesnokov to assist him. "Keep the muzzle off of the ground, Ivan!" Chernorus was screaming at the top of his lungs, though his voice was nearly lost over the gunfire. Chesnokov slung his rifle behind his back and did so. Watching the enemy stream towards them, he noticed that there was not a single weapon to be seen. What madness is this? Chernorus clapped Chesnokov on the shoulder and said "Thank you, comrade!"

Chesnokov lit a cigarette with a match and handed it to Chernorus, before lighting another for himself. The men fired into the enemy relentlessly and smoked together, as friends. Bright blue beams of energy lanced down from the sky and scorched columns of the enemy, scraping them away from the very fabric of reality. It was awe inspiring. Truly as much a show to them, from their Aumanii friends, as it was for the Ayatollah Grande... That the Sphere possessed such power and that space belonged to them. More explosions rippled just out of sight, but spiriting a glance upward Chesnokov could see aircraft circling... He equated the two as one and felt the bags under his eyes grow three sizes larger. They were winning and the Ayatollah was being beaten badly, so why did he feel so demoralized?

It was because this victory was not his own and it did not belong to Megaslava. It was shameful and true and filthy.

Colonel Bulgov held a radio handset close to his ear, nodding along to the squawking coming through the line and gesturing towards his Master Sergeant, a mean slab of meat with a block in his head named Yevgeny Selyukov.

Selyukov took up his own radio and spoke, Lavrov held his handset to his ear and his eyes brightened.

The swarm was a trickle now, only a few scattered mobs frog-walking through sucking peet that the battalion could shoot at their leisure. Before long, they were all dead and the advance was called off. The beachhead was destroyed, the Goldanz was now draining towards the town and sappers were being called in to reinforce the rise and build a firebase in preparation for the crossing.

This battle was over, for now, but the ominous mushroom cloud in the distance had Chesnokov wondering, at what cost.
Last edited by Auman on Tue May 14, 2019 10:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
IBNFTW local 8492

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Kisia
Diplomat
 
Posts: 982
Founded: Jul 19, 2009
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Kisia » Sun May 19, 2019 10:41 pm

Chamber of the Commandants Militant
Khlango Jiion Complex
Geimadi, Senshushya-jo, Sutaibu Directorate, Kisian League

To those unaccustomed to the Temple Complexes, they’d find them a very dark and gloomy place. Dimly lit with red lights and candles, the distant clanging of machines and hisses of compressed steam, the near silent shuffling of darkly robed and hooded menials to and fro, coupled with the static discharge and untranslatable screeches of the more senior members of the Manufactory speaking in their ever esoteric and complicated (and literal) machine language. It made for a very unnerving experience to the uninitiated.

The Chamber of the Commandants Militant was perhaps even more disconcerting. It was near pitch black, considering that these men spent more time computing strategies and plans than they did ever receiving visitors. The Commandants-Militant of the Arms controlled the military forces for that particular complex. More machine than kisian, their upper bodies consisted of a complicated series of wires and cables neatly arranged into trunks, running off into the dark recesses of the room. Nor did they have ‘faces’ in the usual sense, such a thing was useless and indeed got in the way of more advanced augments. Instead, they had metal faceplates with an emotionless visage carved out of them, bolted onto their very skulls. from the skulls sprouted even more trunks of cables and wire, the whirring of machinery and fans again, off in the distance. As for their lower halves, presumably they had been directly “plugged in” to the black obsidian slabs that they were in the center of, such would eliminate the need for so many of the bodily functions that they as a species were sadly bound by. The slabs themselves carved with ritualistic symbols and a gentle pulsing blue glow.

It was here that Senior Director Jāhoharu found himself. Though he’d never admit it, even he was intimidated being in the presence of the Commandants-Militant. Less for their rank, but more for their appearance...if one could call it that. He stood as he listened to the humming of the machines. He noted that there were three obsidian towers installed, yet there was room for four more it seemed. His mind drifted slightly as he wondered if there were even more powerful complexes than Khlango Jiion, besides the Central Complex, of course. Suddenly, the machines suddenly picked up in intensity, the pulsing glow turning to a steady dark orange.

There was a hefty clanging sound as the large reinforced door behind him presumably locked for the time being, and a deep boom reverberated from the heights of the chamber as one of the Commandants- he could not tell who, spoke to him.

“Senior Director Jāhoharu. You stand before the Commandants-Militant. We have evaluated your plan. Explain your reasoning for your request.” One of the Commandant’s bellowed in a deep baritone voice.

“I believe we can advance our understanding of these individuals known as the Welded, perhaps even advance our technology, should we manage to capture one of them for disassembly. Considering that the Federals have already sent off volunteer forces, and are slowly assembling an actual army of their own, we can most likely assemble a force of our own with little issue.” Jāhoharu stated confidently. There was another silence. Again, one of the Commandants spoke, though he noted this one spoke in a somewhat higher pitch. He was still unsure who exactly it was, but he could at least tell he was speaking to a different entity this time.

“Interesting. The acquisition of knowledge and new technology is always an important matter. There is another matter however. Currently, the Welded are classified as a ‘hostile entity’ by several star states, and the Federal Government. Regulations require us to info-” The new voice spoke, before being cut off again by the deeper, more baritone voice.

“The League has interfered enough in our affairs and this one cares not for the statements of lesser enlightened xenos. By the Solemn Concord, we, the Hand of Xikanra Manufactory, have certain rights and liberties, one of these being the right to explore new territories for the benefits of Kisia and Kisians all. Therein lies the solution to our problem.” the deeper voice replied.

“I see. How elegant we dance around restrictions by simple wording.” the higher voice quipped. Jāhoharu himself was slightly confused, but dared not to intervene between the discussion of the two Commandants, having apparently been in favor of his idea. Apparently, one of them noticed, as yet a third voice, this one sounding effectively monotone and without emotion, spoke.

“Expression of confusion. Query. Why in state of confusion, Senior Director Jāhoharu?” The third voice replied.

“I’m not exactly certain how you’re referring that we get around notifying the Federal Government of our deployment.” Jāhoharu stated.

“Explanation. Solemn Concord allows scientific expeditions to be dispatched without notification. Military expeditions must be notified, however, certain prerequisites must be met. Solution. Outfit scientific expedition within 99.98% of meeting military expedition standards. By law, League Government unable to interfere.”

“Ah. I see, very clever.” Jāhoharu replied. The third voice made a buzzing noise with the faint sound of beeping, before going silent once more. In fact, all of them had gone silent, the steady orange glow the only indication that they were still ‘present’. After what seemed another eternity, the pillars changed to a steady red glow, and they spoke again- though this time they spoke as one collective entity, the voices merging to make a slightly disjointed, yet fully understandable (if slightly terrifying) voice.

“It is the decision of the Commandants-Militant of Khlango Jiion that this expedition is worthy to be undertaken. However, the command of the expedition shall fall to you, Senior Director. You will be placed in a command chassis suitable for your position.” The combined voices said, a panel on the floor opening, and with a slight hiss of air, a platform raised with a datatape on it. “You will take this to the Fabricators, who will handle the re-augmentation and data uploading processes.”

Jāhoharu slowly walked forward and took the datatape, the platform just as silently lowering back into the hidden floor panel.

“Your access has been updated to reflect your new temporary position. You now hold the position of Expeditionary General. Go now, and enact the will of the Manufaufactory.”

There was a hefty clunk as the large metal security door unlocked. As Jāhoharu turned, the combined voices spoke again, this time in a deeper tone.

“A word of warning. Failure will have severe repercussions.”

Jāhoharu, willing himself to not collapse with the great burden that had just been placed upon him, merely walked out, his silence being taken as an acknowledgement.

One Week Later
Expeditionary General Jāhoharu’s Office


Jāhoharu cursed as he stumbled forward in his new armored body. The process had been…. invasive to put it mildly. A few days ago, he was still mostly meat and bone, but now more of his body was steel and cabling than failable flesh. The datatape that the Commandants-General had given him was a plan for “full-body augmentation”, turning him from a mere kisian into an armored cyborg effectively. Implants had been installed allowing him secure communication with the organic and robotic legions he would find himself in command of, optics granting enhanced eyesight, interfacing ports and various electrodes grafted directly onto his body, and even implants in his brain giving him increased thinking and processing capability. This, on-top of a custom built “shell” that enclosed him in a suit of heavy armor, using those interfacing ports and electrodes to effectively make the armor an external ‘skin’ of sorts, that also handled trivial functions like waste, nutrient management, and other matters. He could survive on a extremely minimal amount of food, water, sleep, and for a brief period of time- could even go on without breathing.

The penalty of course was the absolutely debilitating matter of re-orienting oneself with how to do simple things like even walking, and living with what seemed to be a never-ending headache as his brain- enhanced with implants, learned to cope with having effectively several hundred years of military theory and tactics downloaded into the memory banks of his reinforced skull. Though, the worst of the aftereffects of the conversion appeared to be wearing off- or at least weakening. The headache had gone down to a dull throbbing sensation, as opposed to what felt like a cleaver being wedged into his head for the first few days, at least.

Even his office had even been repurposed, looking more like a charging station than it did a traditional office anymore, with a heavy metal chair with thick trunks of cables running off into a side wall panel. Computers and monitoring stations were scattered here and there in an impromptu manner. He was grateful that they’d managed to get him a personal station in his office- he no longer had to outright struggle to make it down to the Fabrication Area to find an open charging station, where they would badger him incessantly about he was doing and the various rites and procedures he should do daily to keep the armor in running shape.

As Jāhoharu plodded back and forth in his office, he received a communication. He thought about ‘answering’ the communication, and in response the built-in communicator activated. It was the voice of one of his subordinate officers, Executor Prime Yutari. From what he knew of her, Yutari was one of the more veteran officers of Khlango Jiion’s armies, so sending her along implied the Commandants clearly had a great interest what was to come.

“My General.” she started, giving a respectable pause. “The troops and officers are assembled for final review before loading begins.” she stated.

“I’ll be down shortly.” Jāhoharu replied, before cutting off the link and making his way down to the respective area.

Assembly Hall of the Arms Militant of Khlango Jiion

As he neared the Assembly Hall, he saw Executor Prime Yutari. She was augmented to a lesser degree than him, though she still sported dull grey cybernetic arms and legs. Clad in dark blue robes and armor, she wore a hood that betrayed a cybernetic eye, as it had a dull red glow. She saluted as he approached, which he returned.

“The host awaits.” She stated, making a motion to a nearby opening which lead out to a raised platform.

Mustering himself as best he could, he walked out onto the platform, where an impressive sight greeted him. He was unsure of exactly how many, but an impressive array of soldiers- universally unaugmented, as per requests, as well as vehicles and even battlesuits. His other three augmented officers- comprising the senior leadership of the “scientific” expedition, were also on the platform, who saluted as he came out. Standing in the center of the platform, with Yutari taking her place to the right of him, he merely looked out into the vast assembled ranks of men and warmachines assembled and ready to fight and die on his behalf. Almost as if they’d read his mind, Yukari shouted an order and the entire formation came to attention, Yukari stepping backwards behind Jāhoharu and saluting him once more.

The pain that had bothered him for the past week seemed to fade away, and though the armored faceplate he wore would not betray his visage, he could only smile as he realized the power he now wielded.

“This...this shall be my crowning moment, my path into the highest ranks of the Manufactory….”
Member of TSAR

Kisian Newsthread
Factbook of the Kisian League

LadyRadarEars: I forgot what Kisian ships are powered by
Crypt: unfiltered nationalism

Daimler-Benz: The League is literally just 'Have War Crimes, Will Travel'

Zuulman: Kisia is my spirit animal.

Daimler-Benz: There's spilling blood and dragging an inflatable kiddy pool around with you to drain your enemies' jugulars into so that you might be able to swim in it

Devee: Kisian children's ideas of games are using worn out artillery pieces left around from constant clan warfare to play ‘lob unexploded ordnance at the neighbour kids’

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